December 26, 2010
DEROY MURDOCK: The Rich Are More Like Santa Than Like Scrooge. I dunno, Mike Bloomberg’s rich, and he’s sounding more Scrooge-like every day.
DEROY MURDOCK: The Rich Are More Like Santa Than Like Scrooge. I dunno, Mike Bloomberg’s rich, and he’s sounding more Scrooge-like every day.
HUGH HEFNER ANNOUNCES ENGAGEMENT. “Hefner, 84, said on Saturday in a posting on Twitter that he and his girlfriend Crystal Harris, 24, got engaged on Friday.”
WHEN JOURNALISTS DISLIKE balance.
HOW TO AVOID ENHANCED PAT-DOWNS: Demand a fresh set of gloves?
SOLAR ELECTRICITY in its most logical markets. “With the advent of cheap solar panels and high-efficiency LED lights, which can light a room with just 4 watts of power instead of 60, these small solar systems now deliver useful electricity at a price that even the poor can afford, he noted. ‘You’re seeing herders in Inner Mongolia with solar cells on top of their yurts,’ Mr. Younger said.” Yet another cyberpunk cliche comes true.
NEW YORK’S TAX PROBLEM: “It’s no sweat for 10-figure-net-worth Bloomberg to say his city and state overtax. It’s worth perspiring when professionals who earn into six figures give New York City the finger to live large in Dallas, Atlanta or Phoenix.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF “sexual simmering.”
DECRYPTION: Coded American Civil War message in bottle deciphered. “A message in a bottle delivered to a Confederate general during the American Civil War has been deciphered, 147 years after it was written.”
JUAN WILLIAMS says that Sarah Palin can’t stand on the same intellectual stage as Barack Obama. He offers no evidence, however, for the proposition that Obama is particularly bright, and I can’t say I see a big difference.
I like Obama but I reject the suggestion that he is an intellectual. He is an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual.
Personally, I think Richard Epstein’s a better judge of who’s intellectual than Juan Williams is. But I think most of the press — for whom the phrase “an activist merely mimicking the mannerisms of an intellectual” may also apply — is easier to fool.
CARS THAT WILL MAKE IT PAST 200,000 MILES. My nephew has a Jeep Cherokee that’s got over 220,000 and is still going strong.
ANTISEMITISM IN THE UNITED STATES: At an all-time low? Probably, notwithstanding Mel Gibson, Helen Thomas, and Rick Sanchez.
MORE LEGAL PROBLEMS FOR BLOOMBERG’S ANTI-GUN MAYORS’ GROUP: “The number of mayors in Bloomberg’s group that are facing felony and lesser charges is simply astounding.” Well, not so astounding when you consider that they’re politicians.
SEROTONIN GENE VARIANT that makes people violent when drunk.
RICHARD FERNANDEZ: “Just what is inappropriate in modern society is a matter of intense debate. Morals legislation appears to be as pervasive as ever. Nothing in the current environment suggests there exist opinions on which you may not be lectured. The extent of what is out of bounds is growing all the time. What has changed is the contents of that proscribed area.”
GEORGE WILL: WHAT TO DO ABOUT Beggar States. “Principal author of the Public Employee Pension Transparency Act is Rep. Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, where about 80 cents of every government dollar goes for government employees’ pay and benefits. His bill would define the scale of the problem of underfunded state and local government pensions and would notify states not to approach Congress like Oliver Twists, holding out porridge bowls and asking for more. . . . Oliver Twist did not choose his fate. California, New York and Illinois – three states whose conditions are especially parlous – did. And in November, each of these deep-blue states elected Democratic governors beholden to public employee unions.”
KAY HYMOWITZ: The End Of Middle America?
CLAIRE BERLINSKI IS PLANNING time-travel vacations. Do we get to go forward, or just back?
BYRON YORK: Frank Rich Rewrites History.
SCOTT JOHNSON: Gangster Government, FCC Edition.
LEONARD DAVID reviews Dave Baiocchi and William Weiser’s Confronting Space Debris: Strategies and Warnings from Comparable Examples Including Deepwater Horizon.
You can get it as a free eBook here.
DRUG-WAR MISSION CREEP: “The Drug Enforcement Administration has been transformed into a global intelligence organization with a reach that extends far beyond narcotics, and an eavesdropping operation so expansive it has to fend off foreign politicians who want to use it against their political enemies, according to secret diplomatic cables.”
MICHAEL BARONE: Even After Shellacking, 2012 Looks OK For Obama. “Obama has obviously figured out that Americans prefer to see their president describe the glass as half full rather than half empty. That’s a good lesson for him, and for Republicans as well, especially those who believe that the Obama Democrats’ shellacking in the midterms means that Obama himself will definitely lose in 2012.”
THE COMPASSION OF GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE:
A friend who visited him at the Rochester Psychiatric Center in February 1995 remembered that Mr. Langevin had pain in his jaw, eye and face that was not getting much attention from the staff. A week later, he was discovered unconscious, with a near-fatal infection spreading to his brain and other organs.
Mr. Langevin sued New York State, which operates the hospital, and probably would have won a sizable award. But the state countered by demanding that Mr. Langevin reimburse it $1.7 million for 10 years of inpatient care he had received. A judge sided with the state, and Mr. Langevin wound up with nothing.
Slip and fall in a New York prison, or suffer abuse by its guards, and inmates can keep whatever they win in court. But for patients in state-run mental hospitals — people too ill to live on their own and too poor to pay for their care — the state can drain court-awarded damages, effectively deducting the cost of their stays in the very hospitals that failed or abused them.
“It’s a Catch-22, isn’t it?” said Leo G. Finucane, the lawyer who represented Mr. Langevin. “I need to go to this facility because I’m sick. But if they hurt me worse, they’re immune.”
Read the whole thing.
PRAISE FOR THE SNAP CIRCUITS KIT: Reader Molly Heiss writes:
Thank you for the recommendation for Snap Circuits — we bought them for my son, age 8, for Christmas, and they are an excellent toy. Even the box is high quality. We got him Snap Circuits 500 — and he made his way through about 60 of the beginning projects before he started branching out on his own (the entire goal, in my opinion, is to get kids to branch out on their own).
HOURS of entertainment — thank you for finding it for us.
I gave a nephew the SC-750 after he devoured the SC-300 last year, and the experience was the same. I think those are great hands-on toys for kids.
UPDATE: Reader Alec Rawls emails:
I got my boy Snap-Circuits last Christmas. He liked it. This year he’s 11 and I got him Penny Norman’s “Inventions” kit (from ScienceWiz). It comes with semi-raw materials for a handful of key electrical inventions and wow, after a couple of hours in the corner he’s playing with motors and a telegraph that he made all by himself. Add’s a real excitement factor I think, and a good lesson: he doesn’t need pre-made stuff.
Good point. I like this from the description: “So much fun kids will think it’s dangerous even though it’s totally safe.” Under 20 bucks, too. Wish I’d known about this sooner.
AT AMAZON, the After-Christmas Sale is in full swing.
NEAL MCCLUSKEY: Hurrah for ‘Draconian’ Education Cuts!
For far too long, almost anything related to education has seen pretty regular, sizeable funding increases due largely to the simplistic — and easily demagogued – notion that spending more money on education must be good. Anyone opposing such increases has generally been attacked as a fool or heartless idealogue. But here’s the thing: All this spending has produced little if any discernable good! In higher ed, it has mainly encouraged more and more people to pursue degrees that they either don’t need, can’t handle, or that don’t signify much learning, all while enabling colleges to raise their prices to capture the aid increases! In other words, all the magical thinking about education spending notwithstanding, the evidence strongly suggests that more spending ultimately does little educational good while bleeding taxpayers dry and expanding our utterly unsustainable debt.
So let’s get those “draconian” cuts going, and maybe even have an honest discussion of what really happens when government spends on “education.”
It is better to be educated than ignorant, but not all spending on educational institutions actually results in more or better education. Indeed, in some cases the return may be negative . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Bart Hall emails:
We are somewhat poorly served by applying the term “education” to what is now much more properly referenced as “schooling.” Those two used to overlap almost completely, and some the the greatest damage wrought by easy funding with other people’s money is that from pre-K to Ph.D. schools these days offer bloody little real education apart from the sciences and engineering. Things are likely to change.
Eight hundred years ago education was controlled by the church. Groups of independent scholars, using Latin as a common language, began to congregate apart from the church to pursue a true education. By mid-12th century this grew into the university movement — Hic et ubique terrarum (here and anyplace on earth) as they said in Paris in 1163. It took a century or so, but by AD 1400 the church no longer controlled education.
In our time education is controlled by the universities and their lower level minions. Once again groups of independent scholars, using English as a common language have begun to congregate apart from the universities — internet, home-schoolers, independent researchers, and many others — to pursue a true education. The pattern is repeating, for the very same reasons. Hic et ubique terrarum indeed.
It won’t take a century this time.
HOW NOT TO WRECK a nonstick pan.
This reminds me of the big nonstick cookware discussion from a while back. And I should note that I find these Cuisinart pans pretty durable. I’ve gotten several years out of this one. But I’ve got some old “Silverstone Supra” stuff that just keeps going despite all abuse — but it’s just a couple of little pots.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED REPUBLICAN, BIG OIL COMPANIES WOULD GET SPECIAL TREATMENT. And they were right!
A federal board monitoring tests of an important piece of evidence from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the blowout preventer, demanded Thursday that the analysis stop, saying representatives of the companies that made and maintained the device have had preferential access to it. The United States Chemical Safety Board said in a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement that the companies’ hands-on involvement in the analysis undermined its credibility.
Those people who told me what would happen if I voted Republican sure are right a lot. I guess I should have listened . . . .
NOT GRASPING IT: Lindsey Graham wants to push energy tax again.
NAME THAT PARTY: America’s Most Bankrupt Mayors.
WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING? Payday Lending Booms as Credit Cards Become Less Available.
“DEATH PANEL” UPDATE: Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir. “When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over ‘death panels,’ Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.”
HEH: Obama Bans Word ‘Triangulation’ at White House. Yeah, that’ll stop people talking about it.
SECURITY: Keeping your Mac, iPhone and Data Safe.
SNOWFALL: No longer “a very rare and exciting event.”
A CHARMING CHRISTMAS TUNE from the Department of Justice.
LIST: Best Movie Remakes.
MILTON FRIEDMAN ON how to cut the budget.
WHAT TO COOK in your Dutch Oven.
A GRAPHENE NANO-CAPACITOR BREAKTHROUGH:
Building a test capacitor out of curved graphene sheets produced a device with an “specific energy density” of 85.6 Wh/kg (watt-hours per kilogram) at room temperature. A practical graphene battery would have a capacity of around 28 Wh/kg. Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries have an energy density of 40-100 Wh/kg, while lithium-ion batteries (used famously in PCs, cellphones, and MP3 players) top them both at 120 Wh/kg. But since NiMH or lithium batteries are often operated in the middle range of their discharge cycle, only 20 to 50% of their capacity is actually used. So a graphene capacitor “battery,” with the potential of being charged in seconds or minutes and which do not suffer from degradation upon recharging over possibly millions of cycles– they store energy electrostatically (by the accumulation of electrons) and not chemically – might become competitive for many applications.
TALKING CARS, with the Car Lust guys.
DUNCAN CURRIE: Tom Coburn’s Achievement.
IF THE FCC HAD REGULATED THE INTERNET. Some 1990s alternate history that seems all too timely now . . . .
IN THE MAIL: Original Sinners: Why Genesis Still Matters.
By the way, Pomplamoose is doing a Hyundai Christmas commercial you’ve probably seen, which is cool.
PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH: TSA: Crushing The Critics. “I don’t know what the point of this is, other than for the TSA to inform all of us that it does not like being shown up by mere airline pilots. . . . In a sane world, of course, higher-ups at the TSA, and at the Department of Homeland Security would be forced to answer for the huge security lapses documented in the pilot’s video. But we do not live in a sane world.”
Things aren’t any better at Kathleen Sebelius’ HHS.
GOOD NEWS: Jerry Pournelle emails: “It has been a good year for me. The physicians can find no traces of the brain cancer: the radiation seems to have eradicated it entirely. Hurrah.”
THE CHRISTMAS DEALS ARE OVER, but now Amazon’s running Year-End Deals. They don’t miss a trick, do they? Hey, there are a lot of people with gift cards out there, now.
RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Not a “Broken Army” After All: “Shoppers came back in force for the holidays, right to the end. After two dreary years, Christmas 2010 will go down as the holiday Americans rediscovered how much they like to shop. People spent more than expected on family and friends and splurged on themselves, too, an ingredient missing for two years.” The surge is working!
TAXPROF: Increasing Tax Rates on Top 1% Would Make Tax System Less Progressive. As I’ve said before, I think we need fewer people who vote but don’t pay any income tax at all.
UPDATE: Reader Mike Smyth writes:
What we need is to replace the current AMT with a flat 5% minimum income tax rate. No deductions, no credits. All income, includiing wages, interest, dividends, capital gains, inheritance. If you make $10,000, you pay $500. Make $10,000,000, pay $500,000.
Hmm. What I’d like to see is for tax rates for all taxpayers to go up and down each year in tandem with spending.
BABY IT’S frozen outside.
DECEMBER 24, 1968: Christmas Eve Greetings From Lunar Orbit.
HAPPY HINDI CHRISTMAS.
THE FAT GUY in Ann Arbor.
A CHRISTMAS-EVE TRADITION: From the London Symphony Orchestra.
JOE BIDEN: Pat Robertson is a squishy pothead-lover. “The more glaring concern for Biden and Obama is that come 2012, there could be several Republicans running for president who are more progressive on pot. Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson have all expressed support for drastically reforming marijuana laws. (Johnson and Paul are in favor of legalization, Palin said she supports a person’s right to use it in their home.) You also have establishment Republicans and Tea Party groups citing the 10th Amendment argument for repealing health care–the same argument most libertarians cite when calling for the repeal of the Controlled Substances Act and allowing states to legislate their own drug laws.”
Plus this: “In the unlikely event that someone primaries Obama from the left, I’ll bet money that person agrees more with Pat Robertson than with Joe Biden.”
DAVID HARSANYI TO MIKE HUCKABEE: Actually, Huck, It’s Palin Who Gets It. “In this case, Huckabee is either confused or, judging from his prior work, the kind of guy who dismisses the distinction between convincing someone and coercing someone.”
CONGRATULATIONS TO G.M. ROPER: 5 Long Years and Cancer Free!
RAND SIMBERG: Jeffrey Sachs vs. Victor Davis Hanson. “It’s no contest. In theory, they invented the mercy rule for things like this, but Sachs is undeserving. As a commenter notes, it’s rare to see such a pure, nasty, unadulterated version of ad hominem, but when you do it generally comes from a clueless leftist.”
A LOOK AT Obama Disappointment Syndrome.
DOES NORAD’S SANTA-TRACKING violate the Establishment Clause?
HOW TO KEEP YOUR SHOTGUN safe and handy. Plus, from the comments: “I modified one to hold a chainsaw…for the zombies.” But note the wussy comments from Brits. Pathetic.
THE CAR LUST GUYS review Santa’s Sleigh.
REASONS NOT TO BUY AN IPAD FOR CHRISTMAS: Including this one:
10. The whole Apple cult is starting to creep me out.
OK, I already knew about the fans. Last summer, three-quarters of the people standing in line so they could buy the new iPhone the moment it went on sale already owned an iPhone. But now it’s the company, too. Look at how it reacted last spring, when a Silicon Valley blogger scooped an early iPhone 4: Next thing he knew he was being handcuffed on his lawn in front of his wife while police ransacked his house. And think of Steve Jobs, complaining that news coverage of the iPhone 4′s troubled aerial had been “blown so out of proportion that it’s incredible.” Hmmm, out-of-proportion media coverage—you sure you want to go there, Steve? This is the guy marketing a new telephone under the slogan “This changes everything. Again.” Maybe this stuff shouldn’t matter to me, but I have to confess it’s turning me off.
SCIENCE: Uncertainty Can Increase Romantic Attraction. Ya think?
“RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH” PARTY CANDIDATE to run against Obama. We can all use a little levity. . . .
MIRACLE ON 22D STREET: “Two New York City men feel a tremendous responsibility to respond properly when they mysteriously receive hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus at their Chelsea apartment.”
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED FOR JOHN MCCAIN, the federal government would oppose protecting Polar Bears. And they were right! “Environmentalists who challenged the listing in court had hoped that Obama administration officials would seize the opportunity to ditch the Bush administration’s decision and extend stronger protections to the species.”
EXPLODING A TAX MYTH: A 2008 OECD study of leading economies found that ‘taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States.’ More so than Sweden or France. The problem in the United States is that too many people vote, but don’t pay income taxes.
MARRIAGE LITE: Straight Couples Choosing Civil Unions.
UPDATE: Yeah, I know Tote’s not in my area either, but I wouldn’t use it if it were. What’s the point, exactly?
ANOTHER UPDATE: A Seattle reader emails:
Prime is better but we do use Amazon Tote occasionally, because:
1) The tote is awesome. It is large, strong, waterproof and it is yours to keep.
2) Waterproof delivery. Living in Seattle means that it rains most days and not only is there not much protection from the weather at our front door, one of the regular UPS delivery drivers tries to be helpful by hiding our packages in the bushes — where the boxes frequently get wet and dirty. We haven’t had an order get damaged but it is a worry.
Sounds like it should be called Amazon Dry!
MICKEY KAUS: Obama, Hispanic Immigration Activists Rethink Core Strategy. “In the wake of the defeat of the DREAM Act—long considered the immigrant legalization bill that would be easiest to pass—the once-confident ‘immigration reform’ movement has entered an introspective, questioning phase. Activists are openly asking how their leaders, such as Rep. Luis Gutierrez, could have so misjudged the public mood as to lead them to near-total defeat.” But read the whole thing.
UPDATE: Reader Dick Moore emails: “Teen birth rates are going down due to effectiveness of depo-provera shots; check on % of health dept budgets spent on Depo-provera around USA.” This may explain teenage weight gain, to some degree, as well . . . .
A COMPUTER CHIP THAT CAN sequence a genome in minutes?
MEDIA TALKING POINTS SURVEY: Not Journalism, but JournoListism.
CHANGE: Union Visits Private Home To Intimidate: Local Media Calls It Caroling. “Are you kidding me? A caravan of 80 people to sing insults and, according to eyewitnesses, shouting ‘F*CK YOU’ at various houses right before Christmas? This isn’t ‘caroling,’ this is intimidation.”
Have pro-lifers do the same thing at Planned Parenthood folks’ homes, and see how they cover that. Just remember, the political pitchfork is turning, people are paying attention, the media don’t control the narrative any more, and all this stuff is precedent . . . .
GUESS WHO LOVES the enlightened despotism of Chinese-style family planning? Also, strangely, mandatory abortion doesn’t get pro-choice people too upset. Or even intrusive “gynecological surveillance.”
MAKING SENSE of the Chevy Volt’s EPA label.