Saturday, February 28, 2009

Andy Cohen

While looking around for a YouTube of "Green Rocky Road" for that other post, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my old guitar-pickin' pal Andy Cohen has a whole batch of performances up on YouTube. Here's one of my favorites, "Sailin' Down the Chesapeake Bay:"

Here's Andy's "Green Rocky Road:"

Here's Andy playing the Marxophone:

And the Dolceola:

Great stuff, Andy. As always.

Friday, February 27, 2009


We have not had a critter for a while. So:

Macropinna microstoma, the fish with the see-through head!

Thank goodness it's only about 3 to 4 inches long. More on its anatomy here and here. The things that look like its eyes are actually its nostrils; the greenish hemispheres are the lenses of its eyes.

The Latin name, well, a pinna is a feather, or wing, or external ear, and fish don't have any of those, maybe big fin; and tiny mouth.

Who does it look like? Peter Lorre? Wallace Shawn? I'm sure I've seen that face somewhere, though without the transparent braincase.

Althouse has video, and comments that plumb the depths of not safe for work or for anyone. So don't read those comments.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Biden gaffes again, again

I hope someone is collecting these.

Glenn Reynolds (bless him) links to yet another, at KLSA in Shreveport:

Wednesday morning on the CBS Early Show, Vice President Joe Biden asked, "But what I don't understand from Governor Jindal is what would he do? In Louisiana, there's 400 people a day losing their jobs. What's he doing?"

But that claim is wrong if you look at the numbers from the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

"In December, Louisiana was the only state in the nation besides the District of Columbia, according to the national press release, that added employment over the month," said Patty Granier with the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

"The state gained 3,700 jobs for the seasonally adjusted employment," Granier said of the most recent figures.

Those numbers are available on Louisiana's employment website,

Also available on the site are the state's latest unemployment statistics, statistics that appear to directly contradict what the vice president said Wednesday morning.…

A call to the White House on the source of Mr. Biden's information has not been returned.
Video at the link. In which you can hear the Vice President refer to "Governor Jindell."

Let's see, now. 400 people a day, that would be 2,000 people per 5-day work week, or 2,800 people per calendar week. For a 30-day month, assuming calendar weeks, 12,000 people. You'd think that would make the news.

Keep talking, Joe. While you are administering the biggest spending program in the history of the world.

Mundus vult decipi

A smart comment by madawaskan at Althouse reminded me of this:
which is the emblem of Dom Manuel, the central figure of "The Biography of the Life of Manuel," a series of novels by James Branch Cabell. The Latin means "The world wants to be deceived."

Or as Joni Mitchell said,

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in '68,
And he told me: "All romantics meet the same fate someday.
"Cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe.
"You laugh," he said, "You think you're immune,
"Go look at your eyes, they're full of moon.
"You like roses and kisses and pretty men to tell you
"All those pretty lies, pretty lies.
"When are you gonna realize they're only pretty lies?
"Only pretty lies, just pretty lies?"
We've elected a sweet-talkin' ladies' man, and have to hope it does not "come down to smoke and ash."

Literary notes: Jurgen, the best-remembered volume of the Biography, is available on line, with illustrations, from the University of Virginia. Figures of Earth, in which Manuel is the protagonist, is available from Project Gutenberg, as is Jurgen, in Gutenberg's usual text-only format. Some more Cabell links at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This post gets an "SF" tag because I don't want to have separate tags for fantasy and science fiction. Cabell is not a science-fiction writer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey, Joe, I think it's 867-5309

Where you goin' with that cellphone in your hand?

I cannot, will not, try to collect all the Bidenisms here. But this one's a beauty (video at the link):

While discussing, the taxpayer's stimulus guide The Ticket wrote about this morning, on CBS' "Early Show" today, Biden was asked what the address for the website was.

His clueless response undoubtedly put a smile on the faces of tech-savvy viewers.

"You know, I'm embarrassed," Biden said. Turning to someone off screen, he asked, "Do you know the website number?"
Oh, I know, it's pretty trivial, compared to some of his other silly bits. But it's just one thing after another.

And after that speech from Obama last night, in which he mentioned "energy" 14 times, and "nuclear" only once, and then in the phrase "nuclear proliferation," which as you know, Bob, always refers to weapons, I am beginning to doubt that the Obama team is quite as savvy as they would like people to think. Winging it. They're winging it.

Green, green, rocky road. Promenade in green. Who do you love?

Thanks as so often to the indispensable Instapundit, who says, "I mean, it’s not as if you’d put Biden in charge of something you wanted to succeed . . . ."


The mystery of Ireland's worst driver. (via)

25 things you may not know about Robert Burns.

How in the world did Ted Rall get to be the president of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists?

Kate at small dead animals beat me to both of these, and put them in one post: The Reagan vs. Obama debate, and Michael Ledeen's "We Are All Fascists Now."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Santelli update

There are a couple more Santelli clips at Liberty Maven, via Instapundit.

(I would have added this to the other Santelli post, but that has now become uneditable. I now have two posts with embedded MSNBC videos, and both of them are uneditable. This might be a pattern. I'll add a "Santelli" label, to bring these up together.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Santelli speaks up

Someone, Rick Santelli of CNBC, is trying to speak truth to power. Of course power does not like hearing it. Let's get all the clips together. I dare say there will be more.

His initial outburst, on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange:

For comments, Althouse.

Robert Gibbs does some spinning, in a distressingly condescending tone, for a sympathetic and appreciative White House press corps:

Matt Lauer and Steve Liesman try to trivialize Santelli on the Today show:

Those are from Hot Air, where there are many comments.

And Chris Matthews, who thinks that people are facing "disclosure." (2:36 into the video.) Maybe he is thinking of all those Cabinet nominees who had trouble with disclosure of, say, tax records. Matthews has already disclosed the thrill he gets from hearing Obama speak, so his objectivity is not in question, that is, his bias is on his sleeve. (Or his pants!)

By way of Gateway Pundit, who has comments.

Santelli: "In America, contract law should be sacred." Makes sense to me. Matthews calls him "Ebenezer Scrooge," and says "You're up there with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity." That's enough to make me wonder if Matthews has a contract with MSNBC, or if he does this TV work out of the goodness of his heart and whatever spare change he can find under the sofa cushions in the green room.

I enjoy listening to Santelli's Chicago vowels, as he speaks for truth, justice, and the American way. There's a website promoting the Chicago Tea Party (they plan to throw derivatives into the lake), and a Santelli for Senate campaign button. Roland Burris is looking likely to have a very short Senate term of service. Governor Quinn could establish his independence from the Chicago mob by appointing Santelli. He will not do that, of course, but he could, and it's entertaining to think about.

Update: Roger Kimball has a couple of comments at PJ Media: On the Gibbs remarks, My favorite American; On the Lauer-Liesman interview, Reinventing liberal guilt.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sea ice and "sensor drift"

The National Snow and Ice Data Center lost track of sea ice amounting to 500,000 square kilometers, or 193,000 square miles, because of "sensor drift." That's a little more than nine-eighths of California. But:

Sensor drift is a perfect but unfortunate example of the problems encountered in near-real-time analysis. We stress, however, that this error in no way changes the scientific conclusions about the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice, which is based on the the consistent, quality-controlled data archive discussed above.
Pay attention to the narrative, never mind the pesky data. From Jerry Pournelle's mail.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Investment report from Dr. Boli

Defying sluggish economy, existential despair up 285%

Stimulate with one hand, strangle with the other

Of course you need two left hands. Calling all Moties! Oh, that's it — we've been infiltrated by space aliens from beyond the Coalsack Nebula! (Oh, all right, the Moties have two right hands. So they are mirror Moties, from a parallel universe.)

Regulating industry does not serve to stimulate the economy. If we had people in government with any real-world experience at all, they would realize this.

NY Times:

The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to act for the first time to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet, according to top Obama administration officials.

The decision, which most likely would play out in stages over a period of months, would have a profound impact on transportation, manufacturing costs and how utilities generate power. It could accelerate the progress of energy and climate change legislation in Congress and form a basis for the United States’ negotiating position at United Nations climate talks set for December in Copenhagen.
That would be a profound negative impact. Where are the nukes? Has anyone explained to these people that while plants take in CO2 and give out O2 during the day, they do the reverse at night? Maybe if we put grow-lights in the forests to keep the plants awake, they could do photosynthesis all the time. No, the Democrats would not like that either. Sleep deprivation is torture. And the electricity would have to come from somewhere. No, wait, we don't need grow-lights — we need space mirrors! No more night! That's the answer. Hope, change, and light. Oh, well, anything to get the space program re-activated. Though I'd rather see a bunch of private enterprise space projects.

If California and Florida weren't already full, I'd be thinking about moving to a warmer climate. Rather than waiting for it to come to me.

Derbyshire on Monkey, Zen, stimulus

Compare my Presidents' Day post on Coolidge with this by John Derbyshire at The Corner:

In his press conference last week the President chided "a set of folks who … just believe that we should do nothing." This got loud protests from various quarters on the right that, no, there are no such folks. We all want the government to do something.

Well, I'm for nothing. Perhaps not quite nothing: If Congress were just to go on a 12-month vacation, that would be a good thing; but even better would be if they were to spend 12 months doing nothing but repeal bad, stupid laws. (Repealing the CPSIA would be a good warm-up exercise.)

Like Monkey, they just can't sit still. This preposterous "stimulus" package is just one particularly big and obnoxious instance of a malign phenomenon — too much government action. Don't just do something, guys, sit there. But that, of course, is the one thing they can't do.
Monkey? What monkey? You'll have to read the whole thing to find out. It's short.

One of Derbyshire's readers responds, with a suggestion for another $150 billion of "stimulus."

I mentioned "Yes, Minister" syndrome a while ago.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Politics of warming, again

At PJ Media, physicist Frank Tipler discusses the attitudes of the alarmist scientists in What The Caine Mutiny Can Teach Us about Global Warming Scientists: Climate change advocates often argue from "authority" as opposed to examining the facts.

In the Boston Herald, by way of the AP, Harrison Schmitt (who not only walked on the Moon, but also served in the US Senate longer than Barack Obama) says, among other things, "It’s one of the few times you’ve seen a sizable portion of scientists who ought to be objective take a political position and it’s coloring their objectivity." [Here's another link for the same AP story, at Heartland Institute this time, for backup.]

In a response in the HuffPo to Schmitt, Bill Chameides, dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment, deploys powerful weapons of argument from authority and sarcasm to demolish the hapless astronaut, or Senator. In combination with disingenuous argumentation and faux naïveté, these are deadly.

Humorous side note: A Herald commenter says

This global warming thing reminds me of the flood of cars with California plates that came into Prescott, AZ when I was a kid back in the 60s. When folks actually believed they knew the exact date of when California was going to fall into the Pacific ocean. Guess we all saw how that turned out. This time around, same people, different topic of doom. These are all subscribers to "It Could Happen Magazine". You know, the one that has all the same junk science stories the Discovery Channel plays every day. Just think how cool it'd be if we could get global warming, a giant comet impact, a super hurricane, and a 1,000 ft. tall mega tsunami to all happen on the same day that Wizard of Oz monkeys fly out of Al Gore's butt. Now that would be something I'd certainly be impressed by!
which reminded me of Free Zone by Charles Platt. In that book, Platt tries to include every sf cliché he could think of. He can't help but miss a few that have been invented since the book came out in 1988; he claims 71. The aliens are invading from space, the robots have time travel, the barbarian hollow-earth dwellers are emerging, the undersea city is rising and it's filled with hostile, intelligent dinosaurs. All at once!

Update: Moldbug weighs in on the attitudes of the alarmist scientists:
The incentive of all federally-funded science is the same: keep your funding, and try to get more. It is not that most scientists are "in it for the money." It is that you cannot be a successful scientist, in this era, without being a successful bureaucrat. As such you respond to bureaucratic incentives, such as the feelings of your NSF program manager.
His mom makes an appearance.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Keeping track of Obama's promises

Nicholas Guariglia at PJ Media says that Obama’s Broken Promises Were Entirely Predictable.

The St. Petersburg Times is keeping track with the Obameter.

Presidents' Day

Which Presidents, though? In light of the last couple of posts about the CPSIA, which might have to get a tag, Calvin Coolidge, who said, "It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones," seems an appealing President for today. Another line, "I am convinced that the larger incomes of the country would actually yield more revenue to the government if the basis of taxation were scientifically revised downward," sounds like an anticipation of the Laffer curve. John J. Miller, at The Corner, points to his own Reason piece from 1998, in which he reviews three books that were new at that time.

I've mentioned Coolidge favorably here a few times before, but I have never read a full-length biography. I certainly did not know until I read the Miller article that he had translated Dante's Inferno into English.

I can't help wondering what would have been the alternate history had Coolidge run and been re-elected in 1928. Hoover and Roosevelt were both tinkerers, experimentalists, activists; Coolidge knew how to leave something alone.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Another U-verse update

at that post.

We don't burn books, we landfill them. It's different. It's for the children!

Move over, Montag. Don't you realize that burning those books could give off toxic fumes?

From Overlawyered:

[T]he Consumer Product Safety Commission yesterday advised thrift stores and other resellers and distributors of used goods to discard (unless they wished to test for lead or take other typically unpractical steps such as contacting manufacturers) children’s books printed before 1985 and a very wide range of other children’s products, including apparel and playthings.
Just a small part of the results of a law called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, passed as a Congressional overreaction to the toxic toys from China scare last year. I had not even heard of this law until Roland Dobbins sent Jerry Pournelle a link to the Overlawyered piece above. Which shows that I don't read Overlawyered as regularly as I should. There's a whole series there about this misguided, misbegotten, outrageous, foolish law. Letters to Congressmen and Senators are required, though probably will be useless. The Common Room, also with many posts on CPSIA, links to the House committee where bills to modify the CPSIA are under consideration. Since it is the same committee that the bill came out of in the first place, my hopes are not high. This law needs repeal, not amendments.

Speaking of useless, one of those posts deals with the question, "How useful is for figuring out the truth about something?" The answer seems to be that it's about as useful as any other site on the Internet: to be taken with a grain of salt. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, sometimes careless, possibly deliberately deceptive. Oh well, you knew that all the time, anyway. I hope I'm not going to find out that there are mistakes at The Straight Dope, next.

Seriously, that whole series on CPSIA is worth reading. It's not just books, there's much, much more involved. For instance, the law puts Gepetto out of business, closes thrift and consignment shops, and stops kids from buying youth motorbikes or parts for the ones they have.

This is what happens when Congress passes these bloated bills that nobody reads, and the President signs them, and then we start to find out what was in there. Oh dear, what did they just do last week!

Related: The legal system.

Nursing home patient goes outside for a smoke, dies of hypothermia

I thought the purpose of these smoking bans was to benefit people's health, not to kill them. Myles Patterson was 65 years old. "Mr. Patterson had been forgotten outside in temperatures which witnesses told the court dropped to -20 Celsius. Mr. Patterson, who was wheelchair-bound after a recent health setback, had gone outside to smoke."

Hypothermia is putting it mildly; I'd be inclined to say he froze to death. "The death of Mr. Patterson was contributed to by hypothermia resulting from being left outside in temperatures ranging between -16 and -20 Celsius on January 16, 2007. When rescued by nursing home worker Tanya James, Mr. Patterson was described as being drooped over with spittle frozen to his face. His jacket was partially zipped up and he was wearing no gloves or hat."

Roundup here.

All part and parcel of the "liberal" way of thinking, which sees only classes and masses, never individuals. (Except for the Great Leader, who is doing the seeing.) Individuals are collateral damage. It's all for the greater good, don't you know.

The legal system

Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

There's an essay, or a blog post (McArdle) or two (Poretto) or three (Max), or a book, in this. I don't feel like writing it today. But the cartoon is a pretty good multum in parvo of something that there's already too much of, with a lot more on the way.

Update a few hours later: See how these things tie together. In a few hours, I will write a post about the CPSIA. Concerning which Rick Woldenberg, chairman of Learning Resources, Inc., has this to say:

Is it just me (okay, it's probably just me), or are we being overwhelmed with critical information and rulings on a daily basis, to the point where it is impossible on a practical basis to even READ them?
He goes on with some bullet points:
A. It is incredibly complex and difficult to understand. Ask five people to explain how the law works, and see if there is even ONE point they agree on. Won't happen.…
B. It's infinitely more risky. Any violation of ANY provision (and there are a lot of provisions now) can be the subject of a recall.…
C. The law has become detached from consideration of risk and thus no longer corresponds to common sense.
D. Finally, and most importantly, these laws are so complex that they cannot be taught.
But go read the whole thing.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

What news anchor persons do during the commercials

What do they do? Video reveals all. Above the desk, of course. You always wonder if they're wearing pants. Well, I do, anyway.

Thanks to Katy Abby at Windows Secrets.