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REIHAN SALAM: Taylor Swift Succumbs to Competitive Wokeness: The pop star has long avoided partisan politicking—but in the culture industries, making a show of social liberalism is increasingly the only option. “The views we typically describe as socially liberal are, by and large, the views of the affluent, college-educated people who lead virtually all of our major institutions, even when these views are actually rather censorious. These women and men can shape culture by incentivizing certain behaviors through their control over, for example, elite college admissions. They normalize some ways of life while stigmatizing others through their informal control of the organs of culture and entertainment. . . . What is new, I would argue, is the second development: that the number of people who are susceptible to elite influence has grown larger. Here is where I must tread lightly, as what follows is necessarily impressionistic. I get the sense that the most aggressively ‘woke’ young people are precisely those who find themselves in the most fiercely competitive environments. Status and prestige matter to everyone, of course, but they matter to some more than others. Most of all, they matter to those who find themselves in precarious industries where one’s reputation counts for a great deal and, just as important, to lonely, unattached people who long to feel valued and desired. Delayed marriage and child-rearing ensure that many more young people spend many more years in the mating market and, by extension, orienting their lives around fulfilling their own social and sexual appetites over the care and feeding of children. This is especially true among children of the culturally powerful upper middle class, who’ve been trained to fear downward mobility in a stratified society as much as our primitive ancestors feared being devoured by toothy predators. The result is what you might call a culture of ‘competitive wokeness.'”

I’M EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: America’s newest nuclear gravity bomb completes design review.

The B61-12 life-extension program consolidates and replaces the older B61-3, -4, -7 and -10 variants, in a move that proponents say will both update aging parts of the weapons and drive down upkeep costs. The review, which involved a team of 12 independent experts studying three years of data, certified that the B61-12 design meets Defense Department standards.

The weapon is certified for both the B-52 and B-2 bombers, America’s F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 fighter aircraft, and British and German Tornado aircraft under a NATO agreement. The F-35 is also planned to go through certification on the weapon at some point in the next decade.

Production qualification activities at the agency’s Pantex plant near Amarillo, Texas, will begin in October 2018, with the program on track for its first production unit in March 2020, according to an agency timeline. The weapon passed another milestone in June, when two non-nuclear designs for the weapon were flown and released successfully over Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Still, it would be nice if we could test one of the damn things every now and then.

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MONKEY HEAR, MONKEY LAUGH: At his old haunt at NRO, Kevin D. Williamson compares and contrasts: “The great tragedy of George Carlin’s life was that he stopped being funny before he stopped performing comedy. The great tragedy of Samantha Bee’s life is that she stopped before she started.”

It isn’t about being right or wrong. It’s about being a big enough deal to call Ivanka Trump a “c***” and get away with it. Which, of course, is what’s most likely to happen. This isn’t some pleb such as Roseanne Barr we’re talking about.

Samantha Bee on her worst day, like Samantha Bee on her best day, is a reminder of one of the most underappreciated facts of public life in the 21st century: Mass democracy has no intellectual content. It is, as David French and others have noted, simply an extension of high-school cafeteria-table politics: status-jockeying and status-monkeying 24/7/365.25 and not much else. It doesn’t do much for the country, but it beats working for a living. Keep that in mind the next time you find yourself muttering “Hell, yeah!” when your favorite multimillionaire cable-news rodeo clown lays the rhetorical smackdown on one of his multimillionaire Central Park West neighbors two buildings over while you’re stuck in traffic commuting home to the suburbs from downtown wherever.

A place for every monkey, and every monkey in his place.

It’s a scorcher — read the whole thing.

TAMARA KEEL: Service Life Extension. “Sig Sauer’s classic P-series metal-framed guns face a dilemma. On the one hand, they’re some of the most proven, dependable service handguns on the planet. On the other, there’s simply no way to build them in a fashion that makes them cost-competitive with polymer-framed striker-fired guns.”

THE LEFT GRAPPLES WITH WHAT TO DO ABOUT ONCE FAVORITE ARTISTS WHO ARE OR WERE VERY DAMAGED SOULS: First up, at Slate, “Does Rotten Apples Toss Out Some Good Ones, Too? The website seeks to sort the movies of bad men from everything else. That’s more fraught than you’d think:”

More than two dozen men with ties to the entertainment industry have been fired, suspended, or otherwise censured in the 10 weeks since the New York Times published its initial exposé of producer Harvey Weinstein. If you’re having trouble keeping up with all the boldface names you should now refile under alleged scum, you’re not alone. In keeping with the rest of the news from this terrible year, the downfalls of accused creeps quickly became a torrent of stomach-churning but easily mix-up-able updates. For moviegoers who wish to avoid films made by or starring sexual malefactors, there should be an effortless way to find out how to watch responsibly.

That, anyway, is the thinking behind Rotten Apples, a searchable database that aims to inform users if a movie involves an actor, screenwriter, director, or producer facing allegations of sexual misbehavior. Enter a movie in the search window, and the site’s left half will deliver a verdict in stark red or green: Rotten Apples or Fresh Apples. “Rotten” results include a link to an article about the pertinent accusations.

And in the book world one blogger asks, “The Book That Made Me a Feminist Was Written by an Abuser. ‘The Mists of Avalon’ changed my life—how do I reconcile that with what I now know about its author?”

By the time I left home for a women’s college in 1989, I’d reread The Mists of Avalon several times. I arrived ready to smash the patriarchy.

And then, in 2014, Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, told the world that her mother had sexually abused her and many other children for more than a decade. I didn’t even know how to process this information. I believed Greyland, absolutely, but I just couldn’t make this revelation fit with The Mists of Avalon and what that book meant to me. Bradley was not an author to whom I had a personal attachment. I’d never gotten into anything she’d written besides The Mists of Avalon. Had I been more of a fan, I might have seen the pedophilia threaded through her other work. I might have known that Walter Breen — Bradley’s husband and Greyland’s father — died in prison after being convicted of molesting a child. (Greyland says that there were many, many more victims.) Had I been more of a fan, I might have known that rumors about Bradley and Breen had circulated in the science fiction and fantasy communities for years.

As “Pervnado” extends to more and more of Hollywood, and as more and more past authors are discovered to either have committed real crimes, as Greyland’s parents did, or have simply run afoul of the left’s latest PC censors, there stands a good chance that a fair amount of pop culture history will be tossed into Orwell’s proverbial Memory Hole, as that’s always the left’s first instincts.

It’s much easier for those of us more or less on the right to believe that bad people can great art (including great pop art), as we already know that many of the people who working in Hollywood and the music industry hate our guts — and in many cases, hate the notion of America itself.

Beyond Polanski’s brilliant Chinatown and Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and Manhattan, there’s a bottomless supply of brilliant pop culture created by awful people. In the 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were Marin Marxists who believed the communist North Vietnamese were the good guys during the Vietnam War, and worked to put those themes into their movies, but who’d want to be without Apocalypse Now and the original Stars Wars?  The subtext of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey fits the definition of fascist moviemaking for both Susan Sontag’s 1975 “Fascinating Fascism” article and the chapter on Hollywood in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism perfectly. It also contains some of the most arresting images captured on celluloid and its production design and special effects techniques paved the way for the Star Wars, Alien and Star Trek movie series. Ayn Rand’s writing in the ’50s and ’60s was fueled by Benzedrine and she had an affair with young acolyte Nathaniel Branden while they were both married to other partners, but was (and is) many a teenager’s gateway drug into libertarianism. In the music world, John Lennon was a nihilistic pro-NVA wife beater, but also wrote some of the Beatles’ finest songs. Led Zeppelin’s terrifying excesses are legendary.

But as I said, this list is endless. As a result of Harvey Weinstein and the rest of the “Pervnado,” the left’s goal of airbrushing the works of artists who led deeply flawed personal lives out of history has followed almost seamlessly after the recent wave of their statue topplers. Back in August, while the left were still in full-on statue smashing mode, in “The Orwellian War on History,” Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote:

The history erasers claim they only want to show how fair our societies now are. Rubbish. This isn’t about making the present better, it’s a projection of political correctness into the past. It’s the punishment of historical figures – even good historical figures, such as Jefferson, and good historical events, such as the settlement of Australia – for not sharing our exact modern world view.

And it reeks of PC paternalism. The idea that minority groups can’t cope with seeing statues of dead people who did some dodgy things is an affront to their intelligence and autonomy. It infantil­ises them, even suggesting they will feel physically wounded by history: after all, “there is a violence” to these statues.

It’s disturbingly ironic: this treatment of certain groups as fragile, as needing to have public life sanitised on their behalf in the way a new mum might baby-proof her home, is riddled with some fairly racist assumptions of its own.

One of the great things about public life is that it’s a patchwork of the historical events that made our nations. Take a walk through a city and you’ll see statues of soldiers, politicians, authors, suffragettes and others who shaped our societies. And most of them will have held views or done things we would consider questionable in 2017. So what? The point is they made history, and it’s right for the public sphere to reflect that.

The logic of the Year Zero crew is that we should see only historical figures they approve of (if there are any). They police history with an eye for policing what we citizens can see and by extension think about the societies we live in.

Earlier this month, when Minnesota Public Radio tossed Garrison Keillor’s segments of the Prairie Home Companion down the memory hole Rod Dreher wrote, “If you only chose to partake of art, music, and literature created by morally upstanding persons, you’d quickly come to the end of what’s available. Museums would empty out. Concert halls would fall silent. Bookstores would have to be repurposed as yoga studios, and movie theaters as hipster churches. The unfortunate truth is that bad, or at least deeply flawed, people often make the best art.”

STRAPPING THE LIFEBOATS TOGETHER: OPEC, Russia Said To Announce Oil Pact Extension On Nov 30.

While OPEC and Russia have agreed on a general framework, discussions are ongoing as to how OPEC could meet Russia’s demands, including how to include a link between the size of the cuts and the state of the rebalancing of the oil market. There are also discussions about including an option to review the pact again in early 2018, including calling a new meeting, according to Bloomberg’s sources.

As of last week, not all Russian oil companies were on board with extending the cuts, and they were said to have discussed a six-month extension with Energy Minister Alexander Novak.

Novak, for his part, said on Friday in a television interview posted on the energy ministry’s website that some 50 percent of the global oil oversupply had been erased and Brent prices had risen to an “acceptable enough” level of more than $60 a barrel.

Nevertheless, the oil market is not yet balanced and the pact needs to be extended, Novak said, adding that Russia supports an extension, and various options are being discussed.

If they pull it off, that’s more market share for American frackers. If they don’t, we get cheaper oil.

KURT SCHLICHTER: At Least My Generation Will Have Our Revenge On The Millennials.

Sure, I’m going to die a lot sooner than them – unless someone invents some sort of expensive life extension potion that I can buy but they can’t because they will still be paying off their degrees in Oppression Studies and Virtue Signaling Arts until the year 2083. But at least I’ll know that we left them a suitably terrible world, since they are a terrible generation.

Millennials are the spawn we deserve – annoying, posturing, and frequently pierced. They are utterly convinced of their own moral superiority, and yet they don’t even believe in morals. Well, that’s not quite true – they just confuse morals with the increasingly bizarre patchwork of taboos and fetishes of the social justice weirdos they use as their moral compasses. When you ask people, “What’s the world’s biggest problem,” and they answer, “The structural paradigm imposed by cisgender Western males,” and you reply, “How about, I dunno, ISIS?” and they answer “Well, who are we to judge their culture?” it’s slappin’ time. . . .

But while we’re still here together, with me owning stuff and you struggling to afford your daily kombucha smoothie, we face many shared challenges. There’s that giant debt, and there are those foreign people who want to kill us, and there is the terrifying fact that we are at each others’ throats here at home. We know how this plays out if we don’t fix it – bad for me, but super-bad for you. Maybe we should try and square things away. Maybe we should stop assuming the worst about each other, start thinking about what unites us instead of what divides us, and work together to make a better tomorrow. Maybe.

But I guess that’s kind of up to you though, because as so many of you on Twitter like to point out, I’m going to die a lot sooner than you are. And that kind of makes the future your problem.

Ouch. Me, I’m hoping for the potion.


Foresight Institute’s Vision Weekend, Dec 2-3, SF

The Vision Weekend is a gathering dedicated to taking stock of the most compelling ideas of today, turn them into coherent visions for a better future, and get to work on them.

Saturday: Keynote panels @ Gray Area. Industry leaders deliver food for thought during panels, followed by private Q&A tables with your favorite speaker.
Sunday: Strategy sessions @ Laundry. What vision do you want to contribute to our future? Pick your topic, or apply to host a strategy session. Be bold – Sunday is off the record.

Panels include:
Long-term thinking: So Much To Do, So Little Time
Blockchains: Master Key to Unlock The Future?
Longevity: Reaching Escape Velocity for Life-Extension
Intelligence 2.0: The Brain As Next Frontier?

Speakers include:
Joon Yun, Founder of Palo Alto Longevity Prize
Sonia Arrison, Author of 100 Plus
Tom Kalil, Senior Advisor to the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Group
David Eagleman, Host & Producer of The Brain with David Eagleman
Aubrey De Grey, President of SENS Research Foundation
Max More, President of Alcor
Zooko Wilcox, Founder of ZCash
Mark S. Miller, Senior Fellow at Foresight Institute
Will Marshall, Co-Founder & CEO, Planet Labs
Kevin Perrott, Founder & CEO, Aging Research Network
Melanie Swan, Founder of Institute for Blockchain Studies
Matt Bell, Co-Founder of Matterport
Randal Koene, Founder of NeuraLink

Check out the event website for more speakers, program, or buy your ticket. Share the event with your friends on Facebook.

You may apply the code “INSTAPUNDIT” for a 50% discount when purchasing your Vision Weekend ticket. (This is a Foresight member-only event, so if you’re not a member already, join when registering.)

What past participants say:
“It was an exhilarating experience to be with a large group of people who have sophisticated, enlightened, and thoughtful ideas about the future” – Ray Kurzweil
“A milestone in our journey to better understand our future” – Robin Hanson
“Had a great time and was exposed to fascinating ideas, and, more importantly, fascinating sources of ideas” – Vernor Vinge

I used to be on the Foresight Board of Directors, and I’m still on the advisory board. If you’re interested in this stuff, you’re sure to have a good time.

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PROCUREMENT BLUES: The U.S. Navy will start losing its largest surface combatants in 2020.

In 2020, the cruisers Mobile Bay and Bunker Hill will reach their service life of 35 years and are slated for decommissioning. But despite the age of the hulls, some observers are loathed to see the cruisers go, especially given that there is no immediate replacement for the 567-foot ship that bristles with 122 vertical launch missile tubes and two five-inch guns.

“I think the right idea is the put them in to a [service life extension program] and keep them in the fleet,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and analyst with the Center for a New American Security. “It’s cheaper to do that than a new build.

“Furthermore you have 122 VLS tubes in there, and if you are replacing these with the [Arleigh Burke-class destroyers] you get a 25 percent decrease in the number of cells. We really need those tubes. We need the mass – we need the capacity.”

According to the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan, the Navy will continue to have between 98 and 100 large surface combatants in the fleet during the years the cruisers are decommissioning. The Navy is systematically putting its newest 11 cruisers in layup to modernize them and extend their service life into the late 2030s. But a decommissioning schedule obtained by Defense News shows the oldest 11 cruisers will be out of the fleet by the end of 2026.

It’s going to be extremely difficult to enlarge the fleet at this rate.

BONE UP: B-1B To Fly Through 2040 Without Major Life Extension.

In 2012 and 2013, Boeing began fatigue testing the wing and fuselage, respectively, to validate the predicted life of the B-1B, which at the time was forecast to fly through 2050.

With 72% of wing testing and 20% of fuselage fatigue testing now complete, the Air Force estimates the B-1B can operate through 2040 without needing an expensive life extension.

Brig. Gen. Michael Schmidt, the Air Force’s program executive officer for fighters and bombers, says B-1B testing is extremely important and helps identify which parts of the swing-wing supersonic bomber need closer inspection and which need repair or replacing, and in what timeline.

“As of right now, we don’t plan a fully fledged life extension,” Schmidt confirmed during a Sept. 25 interview.

Like the Boeing B-52 and Northrop Grumman B-2, the B-1B was built tough and will fly longer than expected without needing new wings or other major structural upgrades, like smaller fighters and attack aircraft. The B-1B was originally designed to fly 9,681 equivalent flight hours. But data provided by the fighters and bombers directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, shows it lasting far longer. The projected service life of the B-1B, originally built by Rockwell and acquired by Boeing, will reach 19,900 equivalent flight hours, the service says.

That’s great, but the Air Force had better get moving with the planned B-21 Raider, because it looks like the B-1B and the B-52 will start entering retirement at about the same time.

AND FASTER, TOO, PLEASE: The U.S. Navy Needs to Build More Attack Submarines.

There is an absolute requirement to modernize both the SSBN and SSN fleets. The Los Angeles-class boats are reaching the end of their nominal 33-year service life although life extension of 5 – 10 years is possible. The oldest of the Los Angeles-class SSNs, the USS Bremerton, was commissioned in 1981 and the youngest, the USS Cheyenne, was commissioned in 1996. So even with the most optimistic predictions about the Los Angeles class’ service life, the remaining 36 boats will have to be decommissioned over the next two decades.

The problem for the submarine force is that the need for attack boats is rising precisely as the Los Angeles class is being retired. According to recent Congressional testimony, U.S. Pacific Command operates about half the number of SSNs it requires and this is in peacetime. At the same time, both China and Russia are building large numbers of advanced conventional and nuclear-powered attack and cruise missile submarines.

The Navy once believed that 48 SSNs as part of an overall force level of 308 ships would be enough into the middle of the century. The Navy’s new goal is to maintain a 355-ship fleet, of which 66 would be SSNs. Unfortunately, the Navy’s 30-year shipbuilding plan does not build enough Virginias even to meet the prior, lower goal for the SSN force.

The oceans aren’t getting any smaller, and the Virginia-class attack boats have been a rare procurement success story for the US Navy — now coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

FASTER, PLEASE: Navy Hybrid Path to 355-Ship Fleet Could Only Take 10 to 15 Years.

The Navy could reach a 355-ship fleet by 2030 if it both extended the service life of most of its current ships and built more than two dozen new ships beyond current shipbuilding plans, two admirals said this week.

Neither approach is sufficient on its own – service life extension programs (SLEPs) help get the Navy there faster, and accelerating shipbuilding is needed to then keep the fleet at that larger size. But, speaking at the American Society of Naval Engineers’ annual Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) commander Vice Adm. Tom Moore and NAVSEA Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21)/Commander of Navy Regional Maintenance Centers Rear Adm. Jim Downey said the Navy is embracing a hybrid approach that would get the service to a 355-ship fleet in 10 to 15 years, compared to a 30-year timeline with new construction alone.

Thirty years is too long.


Jerry Brown can label this extension as “courageous” as he wants, but it won’t change the fact that this is merely extending the life of a broken policy.

Let’s take a look at the current state of California’s carbon market. The system ostensibly works by auctioning off carbon credits to emitters, but these auctions have been resounding failures. Credits have been selling for the bare minimum price allowed by the scheme, and emitters are buying the bare minimum of credits required by the state. In other words, companies aren’t buying into the plan (literally), which doesn’t just reflect poorly on the outlook industry has on the state’s carbon market, it also dilutes the price of carbon to levels too low to actually incentivize heavy emitters to change behaviors.

Read the whole thing.

I HOPE SO, BUT I’D SETTLE FOR AN EXTRA 20 YEARS OF HEALTHY MIDDLE AGE: Can Human Mortality Really Be Hacked? Backed by the digital fortunes of Silicon Valley, biotech companies are brazenly setting out to “cure” aging.

RETIREMENT: Center Fuselage Rebuild Could Be F-15C/D Achilles’ Heel.

The F-15C may still have an undefeated aerial combat record, but the 38-year-old aircraft could be slated for retirement if the U.S. Air Force decides not to fund a major structural life-extension program. Air Combat Command (ACC) chief Gen. Mike Holmes says it could cost $30-40 million per aircraft to keep the Eagle soaring beyond the late 2020s, including rebuilding the center fuselage section, among other refurbishments. “We’re probably not going to do that.”

With fewer than 200 F-22s to fulfill the role of about 450 F-15Cs, retirement next decade could leave an awfully big hole in our Air Force lineup.

LIFE EXTENSION: Will 90 Become The New 60? As our lifespans have increased, so too have our active years. Can that go on?

As I wrote in Forbes some time ago, that’ll give us a longevity dividend.

HMM: Russia to Arm Nuclear Subs With New Supersonic Cruise Missile.

The Russian Navy will arm its upgraded Project 949A Oscar II-class nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGN) with 3M-54 Kalibr cruise missiles, Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said on March 6.

Two Project 949A SSGNs are currently being retrofitted as part of a life extension program at the Zvezda shipyard in the Russian Far East, which is supposed to expand the subs’ service life by 15 to 20 years.

“The Zvezda shipyard is carrying out profound modernization of Project 949A nuclear submarines, including the replacement of armament with the Kalibr missile complex and also the replacement of navigation, life support, and other systems,” Borisov told TASS news agency this week.

Project 949A subs, built between 1985 and 1999, are primarily designed to attack U.S. carrier strike groups and coastal targets in the event of a conflict. They are the largest cruise missile subs currently in service in Russia. The Russian Navy is currently operating two Project 949A subs in its Northern Fleet and five with the Pacific Fleet.

The Oscar II-class boats probably never stood much chance at getting close enough to launch cruise missiles at targets here in the U.S., but their ability to put up a lot of missiles almost all at once would play hell with our surface ships’ air defenses.

SNL HELD A FUNERAL FOR HILLARY CLINTON. IT WASN’T SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. As Mollie Hemingway writes, “This Civil Religion Sucks:”

But we must talk about the abomination that was Kate McKinnon in full Clinton drag playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for the cold open. Cohen died this week, so playing his most popular hit was part tribute to him and part tribute to — and here’s where it gets weird — Hillary Clinton.

* *  * * * * * *

“Hallelujah” is a sexual and spiritual hymn. Putting Clinton in as the Messiah figure in this mix is particularly telling and cultish. When McKinnon finished her performance, she turned to the congregation and said, as Clinton, “‘I’m not giving up, and neither should you.’” Uh, okay? (The Atlantic does its civil religion take here, calling a woman with historically high unfavorability ratings “iconic.”)

The very idea that you would mourn something that fully half of the voters in the country voted against shows how insular “Saturday Night Live” seeks to be. It has doctrinal boundaries, and if you’re outside those boundaries, you are heterodox. Apostates and blasphemers aren’t welcome and will be shunned. Or just ignored. Note how NPR thought this preachy opening represented the views of the entire nation, all evidence to the contrary:

[Hemingway links to an NPR tweet that reads, “SNL Reflects a Nation’s Emotional Tone in Post-Election Episode.”]

“Saturday Night Live” does these ponderous openings following terror attacks. Because government is God to many on the left, this was a crisis of the soul and the cold open reflected that. But to equate your neighbors different political calculation on the referendum of Hillary Freaking Clinton, of all people, to terrorism is appalling and unacceptable. It belittles loss of life by creating a false political equivalence.

As Larry O’Connor notes today, the tone of the SNL episode’s cold opening immediately after 9/11 was much less funereal and actually funny, thanks to an assist from Rudy Giuliani, than their strange, stillborn wake for Hillary, which is a reminder that SNL has now come full-circle.

In the mid-1970s, the nascent (and often very funny) Saturday Night Live took a well-deserved wrecking ball to the earnest, mawkish showbiz culture of Bob Hope, Milton Berle, and the Rat Pack. Its first writers would reject any sketch they deemed as “too Carol Burnett.” But a few seasons into the show’s run, early writer Anne Beatts sagely warned, “You can only be avant-garde for so long until you became garde.” SNL became so garde they eventually reshaped the entire media world. David Letterman and the mock news broadcast that is the Daily Show were direct extensions of the first five seasons of Saturday Night Live, and the crude, snarking tone of MSNBC would be unthinkable without SNL’s seismic shift in the media culture.

Today, Lorne Michaels is the executive producer of NBC’s The Tonight Show, which was defined by Johnny Carson’s long-running era. Carson’s center-left politics were more or less in-line with those of SNL’s, but he loathed the ragged, countercultural tone of the show’s early years, and would be astonished if he knew that SNL’s creator was now calling the shots at his old redoubt. Carson wisely kept his political excesses in check, rather than alienate half of his potential audience. In sharp contrast, I wonder if Michaels whose shows, like him, wears their politics on their (Armani) sleeves ever ponders having any responsibility for the rise of Trump and the alienation so many of us now feel towards old media, the Democrat’s palace guard (or garde.)

As Steve Martin’s recurring Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber character would have said, “Naaaaah.”

A PROBLEM BOTH PARTIES HAVE BEEN HAPPY TO IGNORE: The 40 Year Nuclear Procurement Holiday.

The U.S. Navy has delayed the construction of the new Ohio replacement submarine beyond their original plans by four years, and increased the hull life to a record 41 years to accommodate the delay. Reducing the number of deployed nuclear-capable submarines from 12 to 10. As for the submarine-launched D-5 Trident missile, a required service life extension program is being planned due to their being no planned replacement.

The Minuteman III land based nuclear deterrent, first placed in its silos in 1970 is now 46 years old and would not be replaced until 2030 if approved, 60 years later and well beyond life expectancy. The U.S. Air Force had to execute a service life extension program or SLEP including both a GRP (guidance replacement program) and PRP (propulsion replacement program) starting in 1993 and completed in 2010, further delaying needed modernization.

The third leg of the U.S. nuclear triad, the replacement for the aging B-2 stealth bomber is still facing a budget battle and will still not fill the shortfall created by the cancellation of B-2 production at 21 planes even if the new B-21 comes online in 2025.

An awful lot of bills are past due.


I should note that this article only addresses extensions in lifespan based on nutrition and traditional medical care, not on new technologies for DNA repair, etc., which would make such a “hard” limit much softer. But even a decade or two extension in “health span” would pay big dividends.


NEWS IN LIFE EXTENSION: Beyond Resveratrol: The Anti-Aging NAD Fad.

I take Niagen, and I take a pterostilbene/resveratrol combo, so I’m already on board. Does it work? I dunno. Ask me in 20 years.

OH, THAT DEATH OF THE GROWN-UP: I’m living like a college student at 44:

Increasingly, New Yorkers are turning to slick, luxurious communal-living setups. In the dormlike buildings, adults well out of college share kitchens, living rooms and bathrooms, and everything from toilet paper to coffee to a cleaning service is included in the rent.

“All the little stuff that you would have to go out for and plan and think about, you don’t have to think about,” says James Jackson, 27, a Web developer who lives in a new communal building in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, operated by the co-living company Common.

Common’s Williamsburg property is its third and largest. It operates two oth er buildings in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and has space for 100 residents across the three properties. Since launching in October the company has received 6,000 tenant applications.

Once accepted — Common doesn’t perform a credit check but requires some sort of financial information as well as an interview — residents can show up empty-handed. Bedrooms are fully furnished, and even sheets and towels are part of the deal. Rent starts at $1,800 per room and includes all utilities and Wi-Fi.

The setup is similar at the new WeLive, an extension of co-working giant WeWork. It opened on Wall St. in May and will eventually be able to accommodate 600 residents.

Related: “The ‘struggle’ is not real: From tiny houses to my own lunch, poverty chic commodifies working-class life,” an author in Salon whines about her fellow leftists’ aesthetics and linguistic virtue signalling:

The term “struggle meal” seems to me to be related to the phrase-turned-hashtag, “The Struggle Is Real.” For anyone unfamiliar, Urban Dictionary defines “the struggle is real” as “a (generally) ironic saying often used in place of the saying, ‘first world problems.’ With irony, it has a comical effect of dramatizing a non-critical, yet undesirable situation.” Popular iterations of this phrase often relay the “struggle” as running out of shampoo before running out of conditioner, or of having to deny oneself a donut because swimsuit season is approaching. With rampant social problems like inaccessible health care, childhood hunger, and homelessness (just to name a few) existing in the developed world, it’s apparent that there is not enough irony to make the incongruence between the phrase and people’s real struggles to survive funny.

A cursory search for the phrase online reveals not only its ubiquity, but its fundamental ties to affluence and financial stability. There are any number of internet memes and items available for sale, such as coffee mugs, iPhone cases, and hand-lettered art pieces to be displayed in people’s home offices that indicate for whom the “struggle” is real. These items belie, of course, the reality that roughly twenty percent of Americans — nearly 60 million people — lack access to the internet and that another 45 million Americans live below the poverty line. The “real struggle,” as explained by this phrase, is one confined to aesthetics and whimsy, not survival.

It’s the linguistic equivalent of the ways mainstream society appropriates and commodifies working class aesthetics, like Mason jars, sweatbands, beards, thrift store clothing, and the like. This troubling trend even spills over into housing, with affluent folks trying on small, mobile houses from the Tiny House Movement as “proof”’ of how enlightened they are, having pared down their possessions to live more simply and happily. The crucial difference in these cases is that those who appropriate the items intrinsic to working class life and survival do so out of choice, rather than necessity.

As accessories, these items symbolize a part of the fend-for-yourself culture — of any race, ethnicity, or region — that has become strangely popular in mainstream society. Using or wearing these working class accessories lends the wearer a kind of can-do credibility that doesn’t come with white collar office attire — a rustic cachet without any of the hassles and struggles that comes with the lifestyle. Likewise, the people who use this language typically appear perfectly self-reliant (yet they are the ones who enjoy class, race, and, in the case of men, gender) privilege that is incongruent with the self-reliance working class people have to utilize in order to survive.

Congratulations – you just stumbled into the gist of Tom Wolfe’s “Funky Chic” article, written way back in 1970. As Wolfe noted, “Anti-fashion! Terrific. Right away anti-fashion itself became the most raving fashion imaginable . . . also known as Funky Chic. Everybody had sworn off fashion, but somehow nobody moved to Cincinnati to work among the poor. Instead, everyone stayed put and imported the poor to the fashion pages.”

Permanently, it seems. But then, the real meaning of “Progressivism” has been to freeze-dry attitudes among its believers for well over a century.

(Classical reference in headline.)

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Mrs. Clinton’s Ode To Serfdom.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is not qualified to be president of the United States of America, because she doesn’t know what the United States of America are.

Terry Shumaker, former U.S. ambassador to Trinidad (I wonder what that gig cost him) and current abject minion in the service of Mrs. Clinton, quotes Herself telling an audience in New Hampshire: “Service is the rent we pay for living in this great country.”

There is a very old English word for people who are required to perform service as a rent for their existence, and that word is serf. Serfdom is a form of bondage. Americans are not serfs. We are not sharecroppers on Herself’s farm or in vassalage to that smear of thieving nincompoopery in Washington that purports to rule us. We don’t owe you any damned rent.

The American proposition is precisely the opposite of what Herself imagines: The U.S. government exists at our sufferance, not the other way around.

Analysis: True. But our erstwhile ruling class needs to be reminded of this rather forcefully. Plus:

Herself’s invocation of serfdom is the logical extension of “You Didn’t Build That”-ism, the backward philosophy under which the free citizen is obliged to justify his life and his prosperity to the state, in order to satisfy the economic self-interest, status-seeking, and power-lust of such lamentable specimens as Elizabeth Warren, a ridiculous little scold who has never done a single useful thing in her entire public life.

The American model is precisely the opposite: Government has to justify itself to us. . . . They owe us service: services they routinely fail to perform.

We’ve got jihadis shooting up California while the government doesn’t even bother to track visa overstays or properly scan entrants from Pakistan by way of Saudi Arabia (because what could possibly go wrong in that scenario?) in spite of being legally obliged to do so. Instead, the powers that be in Washington are literally masturbating the day away when they aren’t busy poisoning veterans to death with dope. These people—these people—are going to lecture us on citizenship? How about you skip the homilies and do your damned jobs?

Or just go home, and trouble us no more.

ROGER SIMON: Why Baltimore: An American Tragedy.

Commentators were repeatedly asking – where are the parents? Ben Carson – the neurosurgeon, potential Republican presidential candidate and onetime Baltimore resident – urged the city’s parents “Please, take care of your children.”

Great idea, but here’s the problem. They don’t have ‘em. According to liberal CNN’s Don Lemon, 72 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock. His stats were born out by the Center for Disease Control. One can only imagine what the stats would be broken down for those Baltimore neighborhoods that were rioting. The presence of a father in the home would be a rarity indeed. And a lot of the moms are probably holding their fatherless homes together for dear life, desperately trying to make a living when their kids are pouring out of school. No one was home.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. The black family was the bulwark of that community. So what happened? I’ll be blunt, since I was once part of the problem and equally culpable – liberal racism. Ever since the days of Lyndon Johnson, social welfare programs aimed at making the lives of “colored people” better actually made them worse. The assumption behind these programs is that African-Americans – always, constantly, forever unequal and not up to the task – needed a leg up. They got the message. Wouldn’t you?

And wouldn’t it make you pretty angry too? Not that that’s an excuse for violence, not even faintly. The whole system is corrupt, top to bottom.

No wonder the mayor of Baltimore made the inane comment (and then pretended she didn’t) about giving the rioters space to wreak their havoc. That’s the logical extension of the Great Society, this time given forth by a black woman graduate of Oberlin. She didn’t even comprehend at the time the insult to her own people inherent in her comment. When I heard her welcoming Al Sharpton in the press conference, I cringed.

On the other hand, the opportunities for graft over the past 50 years have been splendid.

UPDATE: Well, some parents were still disciplining their kids.

MONKEYING AROUND:  You can’t make this stuff up, folks.  A New York state judge, Barbara Jaffe, has ordered a hearing in May to determine if two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo,  owned by Stony Brook University, are being “unlawfully detained.” The lawsuit has been filed on the chimps’ behalf by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), a group formed to establish the legal rights of nonhumans through litigation, “beginning with some of the most cognitively complex animals on earth, including chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, and whales.”

The NhRP initially convinced Jaffe that Hercules and Leo were entitled to habeas corpus— the first time any U.S. court has granted such a right to a nonhuman. A few hours later, Jaffe apparently became aware of the fact that non-humans are not entitled to habeas (guess she forgot that basic legal principle?), and issued an order for Stony Brook to “show cause” for “detaining” Hercules and Leo–which is bad enough, as it imposes a burden upon the owner of an animal to explain to a judge why an animal is being “detained.”  I would hate to think that some radical leftist neighbor could haul me into court to “show cause” as to why I am “detaining” my dog, Thomas Jefferson.

And indeed, this nightmare scenario is already unfolding.  A similar habeas corpus petition was brought in NY state courts in December on behalf of a 26 year-old chimpanzee named Tommy, owned as a pet by a couple who kept Tommy in a cage– an understandable “detention,” for a potentially dangerous animal, as illustrated by the tragic recent case of Travis the chimpanzee.   An appellate court rejected the extension of habeas corpus to Tommy, reasoning:

Needless to say, unlike human beings, chimpanzees cannot bear any legal duties, submit to societal responsibilities or be held legally accountable for their actions. In our view, it is this incapability to bear any legal responsibilities and societal duties that renders it inappropriate to confer upon chimpanzees the legal rights – such as the fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus – that have been afforded to human beings.

The amazing thing about this rationale is that it implies that if some animals could bear a legal duty, submit to societal responsibilities, or be held accountable for their actions (any one of which could conceivably be imposed via enactment of statutes declaring such), the court would be willing to entertain the proposition that a pet–or any other “detained” nonhuman– could be granted corresponding legal rights equal with humans.  Why even open the door to that possibility?

A similar legal “opening” came from another New York state judge, who in January denied a habeas corpus petition filed by NhRP on behalf of Kiko the chimpanzee, reasoning as follows:

Here, petitioner does not seek Kiko’s immediate release, nor does petitioner allege that Kiko’s continued detention is unlawful. Rather, petitioner seeks to have Kiko placed in a different facility that petitioner deems more appropriate. Consequently, even assuming, arguendo, that we agreed with petitioner that Kiko should be deemed a person for the purpose of this application, and further assuming, arguendo, that petitioner has standing to commence this proceeding on behalf of Kiko, this matter is governed by the line of cases standing for the proposition that habeas corpus does not lie where a petitioner seeks only to change the conditions of confinement rather than the confinement itself.

Ugh.  The judge didn’t say he would have granted a habeas petition challenging Kiko’s confinement per se, but he also didn’t shut the door on that possibility.

I like animals as much as anyone, but they aren’t human.  This doesn’t mean, of course, that our legal regime should tolerate any animal abuse. Indeed, counsel for Tommy’s habeas petition stated that the goal of the lawsuit was not to challenge the conditions of Tommy’s confinement (there was no allegation that he was being abused, which would have triggered protection under state animal cruelty law), but  “to obtain recognition for a single right: the right to not be imprisoned against one’s will” because “Tommy is the equivalent of a human child.”

This argument is gaining ground around the globe.  In December, an Argentine court recently granted a habeas corpus petition and ordered the release of an orangutan being “detained” in a zoo.  Even Obama’s regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein, has argued stridently that animals should have legal standing to sue.

Do these radical left-wing animal rights activists stop to think about what the world would look like if they succeed?  They actually argue that since corporations and other business entities have legal rights, “other nonhumans” should, too.  Um, I hate to break it to these bozos, but corporations and other business entities are merely legal mechanisms by which HUMANS join together for purposes of efficiently carrying on a business.

If animals have human rights, it’s not merely that you and I might find ourselves sued by Fido or Mittens, who no longer wish to be “detained” as our pets or in our zoos.  Much of this country’s medical research would shut down, as preclinical trials on animals is necessary for approval of human drugs and invaluable for numerous other medical research.  What is it about radical leftists that their tree-hugging, whale-loving concern for life doesn’t extend to humans?

UPDATE:  Today’s Wall Street Journal has an excellent oped extolling the human benefits from animal testing, including recent progress on Ebola and brain tumors.

DAVID BERNSTEIN: Why Eric Posner Is Wrong About Speech Codes.

See, the problem with arguing that 18-22 year olds are too immature to handle free speech is twofold: First, it calls into question whether they’re mature enough to assume six-figure debt, and second, it converts prestigious Higher Education into an extension of high school, grades 13-16. Who’ll pay $60,000+ per year for high school?

Plus, the corruption behind it all: “To elaborate slightly, speech codes (and crackdowns on sexual behavior) are for the most part not demanded by students or faculty, but by administrators (sometimes in cahoots with a small faction of radical students) who have a symbiotic relationship with federal regulators that implicitly or explicitly encourage such crackdowns using the excuse of largely legally irrelevant civil rights laws. The feds get more control over the schools, bigger budgets, and satisfy particular political constituencies that support their existence and expansion. The internal university bureaucracies likewise get more control over campus life, bigger budgets, and, importantly, carte blanche to use vague, ill-defined rules to destroy academic careers for reasons ranging from ideological to venal.”

CAMILLE PAGLIA: The Modern Campus Cannot Comprehend Evil.

Young women today do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature

The disappearance of University of Virginia sophomore Hannah Graham two weeks ago is the latest in a long series of girls-gone-missing cases that often end tragically. A 32-year-old, 270-pound former football player who fled to Texas has been returned to Virginia and charged with “abduction with intent to defile.” At this date, Hannah’s fate and whereabouts remain unknown.

Wildly overblown claims about an epidemic of sexual assaults on American campuses are obscuring the true danger to young women, too often distracted by cellphones or iPods in public places: the ancient sex crime of abduction and murder. Despite hysterical propaganda about our “rape culture,” the majority of campus incidents being carelessly described as sexual assault are not felonious rape (involving force or drugs) but oafish hookup melodramas, arising from mixed signals and imprudence on both sides.

Colleges should stick to academics and stop their infantilizing supervision of students’ dating lives, an authoritarian intrusion that borders on violation of civil liberties. Real crimes should be reported to the police, not to haphazard and ill-trained campus grievance committees.

Too many young middleclass women, raised far from the urban streets, seem to expect adult life to be an extension of their comfortable, overprotected homes. But the world remains a wilderness. The price of women’s modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense.

Current educational codes, tracking liberal-Left, are perpetuating illusions about sex and gender.

To their proponents, that’s not a bug, but a feature.

ROGER SIMON: IRS: Shame and Loathing on the Media Trail.

A number of smart people, among them Peter Wehner, Mark Halperin and John Hinderaker, have been pointing out the unfortunately predictable silence of the mainstream media regarding the IRS scandal — not to mention the myriad other Obama scandals that we will soon be counting on three, or is it four, hands.

The front page of Tuesday’s New York Times made no mention of the congressional hearings on the missing Lois Lerner emails and putative computer crash; the networks were a virtual silence of the not-so-lambs. (Remember how they obsessed on the Christie/GW Bridge contretemps as if it were the beginning of nuclear war?)

On his Wednesday Talking Points Memo, Bill O’Reilly went so far as to say the media silence, censorship, whatever you want to call it was subverting democracy. That’s an understatement. It was trampling on it.

The conventional explanation for this willful blindness cited by the above mentioned gentlemen is that the media is in the tank for the Democratic Party and, by extension, for Obama. Well, sure. But it is far more than that. Political parties and politicians come and go. The media doesn’t. They may be in the tank for Obama, but much more than that they are in the tank for themselves — a whole lifestyle and world view that has been going on for decades, moral narcissism distilled to its purest essence.

The New Class protects its own.

THE NEXT RED MEAT: Lab-Grown Meat.

RAMEZ NAAM: The Singularity Is Farther Than It Appears. Just hurry up with the life-extension and anti-aging stuff, and then we can wait for the rest. . . .

A NEW WAVE OF IPAD INJURIES ON THE WAY? I sharpen the edges of mine, so that in an emergency I can throw it like Odd-Job’s hat.


Man has sought the Fountain of Youth since history began.

Herodotus wrote about it in 500 BC; some thought it existed in the Pool of Bethesda’s waters in Jerusalem. Ponce de Leon searched for it in the New World.

So, predictably, many scientists snickered when English author and gerontologist Aubrey de Grey said in the 2000s that anti-aging is achievable. He acknowledges that critics bombarded him when he said humans soon would save more than a year of life for each year we live.

“It is safe to say that this would be the biggest advance ever,” he told the Tribune-Review.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s journal, Technology Review, offered a reward to any scientist who could disprove de Grey, but no one did. “Every now and then,” the journal said, “radical ideas turn out to be true.”

After a decade of abuse, de Grey felt vindication in September, when Google established Calico, an organization to challenge aging. Almost no one snickered, he said, as Calico recruited some of the brightest minds, including former CEOs and technology chiefs of the biotechnology firm Genentech.

Whether it can work, no one knows.

I think it’s pretty clear that people can lead significantly longer, healthier lives with proper treatments. How much longer remains to be seen.

X-PRIZE: 10 Things We Learned from Peter Diamandis’s Reddit AMA.

GOOGLE GETS INTO the life-extension business.

JACOB SULLUM: Obama Responds to His Gun Control Defeat With Self-Righteous Solipsism.

Of course they have a right to speak their minds. But no, their emotions are not relevant when it comes to empirical questions such as the impact of background checks, “assault weapon” bans, and limits on magazines. Their pain tells us nothing about the effectiveness or constitutionality of such measures. To the contrary, it obscures those issues with an impenetrable emotional fog.

Obama does a fine job of empathizing with the parents of Adam Lanza’s victims. But that is something any decent human being should be able to manage. Where he has trouble, despite his lip service to the idea of putting himself in the other guy’s shoes, is in empathizing with his opponents. He not only says they are wrong, which is to be expected. He refuses to concede that people who disagree with him about gun control are acting in good faith, based on what they believe to be sound reasons—that they, like him, are doing what they think is right. His self-righteous solipsism is striking even for a politician.

Most politicians, even if they feel that way, are better at hiding it, because they realize that it’s generally bad politics.

Related: “Let’s put it this way: Passion may have a place, but it is not a substitute for rational argument.” Well, it was used as a substitute here, and as a way of saying if you disagree with me it’s because you don’t care about dead kids, but it didn’t work. Maybe it would have, if life were a Very Special Episode of The West Wing.


Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), co-sponsor of the background-check amendment, disagrees. Here is how he solicited support for that measure: “If you want to remember those 20 babies—beautiful children—and the six brave teachers…and you want to honor the most courageous family members I have ever met, please vote for this bill.” By extension, if you dare to point out that background checks have absolutely nothing to do with the Sandy Hook massacre, you are dishonoring the memories of those innocent victims. Anyone “with a good conscience,” Manchin claimed, could not possibly question whether a bill supposedly aimed at preventing mass shootings would actually do that. Could it be that Manchin’s intimidation tactics not only failed but backfired?

“This was a pretty shameful day for Washington,” President Obama declared after today’s votes, saying senators who voted against the amendments he supported “caved to pressure.” That seems a more apt description for legislators like Reid and Manchin, who for years opposed gun control measures based on what they claimed were principled grounds, only to abandon those principles because they were afraid of seeming insensitive in the face of raw emotional appeals. But as I’ve said before, Obama seems incapable of imagining that his opponents have any principles at all.


UPDATE: Reader Matt Kreutzmann writes:

With the defeat today of even a modest gun control measure, I’m starting to think of Obama’s 2nd term and the election differently…

Winning by getting out low-information voters that wouldn’t otherwise vote is kind of like all the various SEO practices designed to game the Google algorithm and get a site on page one of the results – it might work, but it doesn’t make you relevant. Relevance takes hard work and authenticity, neither of which comes readily to this President.

Interesting analogy.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Life After Blue: The Middle Class Will Beat The Seven Trolls.

Does the American middle class (and by extension, the middle class in other advanced democracies) have a future in a post-blue world? That is the basic question at the heart of American politics;. As I’ve noted, 4.0 liberals think that it doesn’t, and think that the defense of the blue social model is the only way to protect the social achievements of the twentieth century.

They’re wrong. The post-blue future for the middle class is bright, and instead of using the weight of the state to shore up a declining blue system to defend an embattled middle class we need to use that power to promote the transition to a 21st-century political economy and a reinvigorated middle class—larger, richer and more in charge than ever before.

Read the whole thing.

FOUAD AJAMI: Muslim Rage And Obama’s Retreat.

This is not a Jimmy Carter moment—a U.S. Embassy and its staff seized and held hostage for 444 days, America’s enemies taking stock of its weakness, its allies running for cover. But the anti-American protests that broke upon 20 nations this past week must be reckoned a grand personal failure for Barack Obama, and a case of hubris undone.

No American president before this one had proclaimed such intimacy with a world that stretches from Morocco to Indonesia. From the start of his administration, Mr. Obama put forth his own biography as a bridge to those aggrieved nations. He would be a “different president,” he promised, and the years he lived among Muslims would acquit him—and thus America itself. He was the un-Bush.

And so, in June 2009, Mr. Obama descended on Cairo. He had opposed the Iraq war, he had Muslim relatives, and he would offer Egyptians, and by extension other Arabs, the promise of a “new beginning.” They told their history as a tale of victimization at the hands of outsiders, and he empathized with that narrative.

He spoke of “colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

Without knowing it, he had broken a time-honored maxim of that world: Never speak ill of your own people when in the company of strangers. There was too little recognition of the malignant trilogy—anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-modernism—that had poisoned the life of Egypt and much of the region. . . .

Our foreign policy has been altered, as never before, to fit one man’s electoral needs. We hear from the presidential handlers only what they want us to believe about the temper of distant lands. It was only yesterday that our leader, we are told, had solved the riddle of our position in the world.

Give him your warrant, the palace guard intone, at least until the next election. In tales of charismatic, chosen leaders, it is always, and only, about the man at the helm.

Obama didn’t learn much in his sojourn abroad, and apparently much of what he did learn turned out not to be so.

Related: James Taranto on Obama’s Apology Ad:

What message does the ad actually send the Mohammed Tariq Khans? On the one hand, a message of weakness: Assemble a big enough mob, kill enough people, burn enough flags and churches, and you too can grab the attention of the most powerful man and woman in the world. On the other hand, a taunt. If Obama and Mrs. Clinton really mean it, the Khans must think, why haven’t they presented the video makers for public mincing? The State Department’s ad contains no answer to that crucial question.

If our government is going to run an ad to educate Pakistanis (or whoever) about American attitudes, wouldn’t it make sense to include an explanation as to why America’s leaders cannot and will not enforce the mob’s standards of blasphemy? To an American, what’s objectionable about this ad isn’t so much the apology for the video’s offense as the abject failure to defend basic American principles of freedom. That same failure makes the ad less than worthless as an educational tool.

Obama didn’t learn much in his sojourn at Harvard and Chicago law schools, and apparently much of what he did learn turned out not to be so.

Oh, and it’s not a Jimmy Carter moment — because at this point, Jimmy Carter would be a best-case scenario. And an increasingly implausible one, I’m afraid.

LONGEVITY UPDATE: Calorie Restriction Flops In Life Extension For Monkeys. Glad I haven’t been starving myself, then.


ROSS ANDERSEN: Radical Life Extension Is Already Here, But We’re Doing it Wrong.

When you’re talking about medicines that help us live longer, it’s important to realize how much we’ve already accomplished. In the last 150 years or so, we’ve doubled our life span from 40 to 80 years, and that’s primarily through the use of things you can characterize as being medical science. In some cases it’s clear that we’re talking about medical enhancement—vaccines, for instance, or surgical hygiene and sterilization. And then more broadly there are other, non-medical things like the sanitation of the water supply and the pasteurization of milk and cheese. All of these things have saved an enormous amount of life.

It used to be that people would die of an infectious disease; they’d be struck down when they were very young or when they were older and their immune system was weak. Now almost nobody in the first world dies of infectious disease; we’ve basically managed to completely eradicate infectious disease through medical science. If, at the outset of this process, you asked people if we should develop technologies that would make us live until we’re 80 on average instead of until we’re 40, people might have expressed these same kind of misgivings that you hear today. They might have said, “Oh no that would be way too long, that would be unnatural, let’s not do that.”

So, in a way, we shouldn’t view it as being extremely strange to develop these medicines, but in another sense we’re at a new stage now, because now we’re at the forefront of having medicines that actually address the aging process. And that’s what I’m interested in talking about—the kinds of medicines that actually slow down the aging process, or at least some of the mechanisms of aging.

Faster, please.

AN EPIDEMIC OF fake hair.

LONGEVITY UPDATE: At Oxford, Aubrey de Grey debates Colin Blakemore on life extension. Video at the link.

THIS WEEKEND IS MY FRIEND CHRIS PETERSON’S Personalized Life Extension Conference. If you can’t make it out to the Bay Area, you can watch a webcast, and if you put in INSTAPUNDIT as your code, you get $50 off. I don’t get anything out of that, but you might find it useful.

LONGEVITY UPDATE: If you’re in the Bay Area on March 31/April 1, you may want to attend my friend Chris Peterson’s Personalized Life Extension Conference. You can get $100 off registration if you use the registration code INSTAPUNDIT.

HOW TO EXTEND YOUR LIFE NOW. First in a series.

VITAMIN D UPDATE: Vitamin D linked to children’s language issues. “Mothers who had low vitamin D levels while they were pregnant are more likely to have a child with a language impairment than mothers who had higher levels of the vitamin, according to an Australian study.”

Also: Vitamin D deficiency epidemic among Black people. “A white person will make enough vitamin D by getting exposed to the sun for only 10 minutes. It can take more than two hours for a Black person to get the same quantity of vitamin D.” Note that however pale you are, if you slather sunscreen on every time you go out, you’ll have similar problems.

UPDATE: Patrick Cox sends this piece: Death By Scientific Consensus.

And they’ll be talking about this at Chris Peterson’s Personalized Life Extension Conference later this spring.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader DRJ emails: “I was diagnosed with cancer last year and I asked all my doctors to test the Vitamin D levels for myself and my family. (Only one agreed to do it and I had to pay for it myself. The rest claimed I didn’t need the test.) Well, guess what? My Vitamin D levels were very low, as were those of 3 other members of my family. After my test results came back, several of my doctors had their Vitamin D levels tested and they were low, too. As someone I admire likes to say: Heh!” My doctor has been testing patients, with similar results. I try to get reasonable amounts of sun when I can, but I also take 2-4000 units a day.

MORE: From Johns Hopkins: Vitamin D and prostate cancer: “Vitamin D may turn out to be a ray of hope for men with prostate cancer. Laboratory and population-based research suggest that adequate levels of vitamin D reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer and may help suppress the growth and spread of prostate cancer cells in men who already have it.”

DO-IT-YOURSELF LIFE EXTENSION: Chris Peterson on Fast Forward Radio.

GLENN GREENWALD NOTICES THAT BARACK OBAMA IS MY PUPPET: “What is most amazing about all this is that, a mere three years later, some combination of Israel and the U.S. are doing exactly that which Reynolds recommended. Numerous Iranian nuclear scientists are indeed being murdered.” And yet the “progressives” who were so upset by my blogging seem oddly uninterested in launching similar condemnations regarding Obama’s actual killing. Say what you will about Greenwald — and no, really, say what you will about Greenwald — but he is, at least, paying attention.

A cynic would conclude that all that moralizing “antiwar” talk back in the Bush era was just partisan twaddle or something.

UPDATE: A suggestion that Obama won’t really be my puppet until he starts pushing nanotechnology and life-extension. Give it time. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Steakley writes:

Ha! GG is shocked – shocked! – that all is unfolding as you have foretold. Right about now would be the perfect time for:

“Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational blog!”


BRYAN PRESTON: Frank Rich Is Wrong: Hate Didn’t Kill Kennedy, But It Is Killing Civil Discourse in America.

Frank Rich chose to mark the 48th anniversary by smearing Dallas, again, and by extension conservatives of the present. It’s a column which should get him ridiculed and fired; no one who is so irresponsible with the hard facts of life has any place in the commentariat.The title gives Rich’s game away. It’s “What Killed JFK?” not “Who Killed JFK?” as it should be. A “what” is much easier to abstract, isolate, and attack than a “who” who had inconvenient opinions and motivations, and a madness to move.

The cold, hard fact of that day in Dallas is this: Whether Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman or by a conspiracy that included others, Dallas’ “climate” had nothing to do with it. Dallas was the scene of the crime but wasn’t responsible for it. Lee Harvey Oswald was not a mainstream Dallas man. He would not have been a Tea Partier. Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist. He had defected to the Soviet Union, become disillusioned, and returned. He had tried to travel to Cuba and failed. If hate was Oswald’s motive in Kennedy’s killing, the hate lived in the chest of a man who had failed at life, had rejected the freedoms of his country, and used bullets to write himself into the history books. Lee Harvey Oswald was an America-hating leftist.

Indeed. But Frank Rich and his ilk have been unable to wrap their minds around that fact for nearly 50 years.

A GENERATOR BLEG: Reader Russell Sayre emails: “Have you posted in the past on home generators? I’m in the market, but the selection on Amazon is fairly bewildering. Do you or your readers have tips or suggestions?” A bit, but I’ve never bought one. They can be dangerous, both electrically and from carbon monoxide. (Storing gas is dangerous, too). And my power’s pretty reliable. So even though my house has a transfer box and a generator inlet, I’ve never gotten the generator to go with it.

That said, you can go with a small inverter-based machine like this Yamaha for powering electronics, etc. Or you can get a whole-house standby generator. The key is figuring out what you want it for in advance, and then working backward. As I’ve said before, if I were building a house from scratch I’d put in a big underground propane tank and have a propane-powered backup generator. Then I’d be nearly independent except for getting my tank filled once or twice a year.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Fenton writes: “Please remind folks that they just can’t plug the generator into a convenient plug without an isolation box as power then also flows out into the network. Generators that power the neighborhood slow down restoration as utility crews often go door to door asking to shut off generators before repairing broken power lines.” Yes, that’s why you need a transfer box — or you can just run an extension cord from the generator, of course.

Here’s some generator safety advice. And with any kind of backup power or heat, a battery powered carbon monoxide detector is an excellent idea.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dave Tulka writes:

We have a 5500 watt Diesel and have yet to install the transfer switch. We have a Coleman dual-fuel camp lantern and two Aladdin kerosene lamps. For winter heat, we have been using our Toyotomi/Kerosun kerosene heaters as an almost primary heat source. Even if the gas stays on, there is no heat without the electric blower fan.

When we updated the kitchen, we converted from an electric stove to gas and have a dual-fuel Coleman camp stove as backup. We purchased the Coleman lantern and stove for family camping when our kids were younger.

The cool thing about Coleman dual-fuel units is they run on Coleman fuel or gasoline. Both fuels are far more energy-dense than propane resulting in less space for each BTU stored.

When we first started using kerosene for winter heat about ten years ago, our friends and families looked at us like we each had a third eye. Now, not so much. We’ve had two friends lose their gas furnaces in the winter that were thrilled to borrow one of our kerosene heaters for a few days until they could get their furnaces repaired or replaced.

Our story is about reducing the absolute need for electricity. The remaining critical-path items are the fridge, washing machine and internet access. Assuming the internet stays up, each machine and the network gear has pretty respectable battery backup in place.

Kerosene heaters are remarkably good if used properly, and kerosene — like diesel fuel — is comparatively safe to store. Gasoline is somewhat more dangerous.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Allen Peirce writes:

One consideration not explicitly mentioned: fuel storage time (and therefore the likelihood that you’ll have usable fuel when you need the generator) favors the propane. Gasoline degrades quickly, e.g. in six months or less unless expensive treatments are added. Diesel degrades more slowly unless water (e.g. from condensation) gets into it, in which case algae can grow in it and the life, and cost of keeping it treated and useful, is more like gasoline. Propane on the other hand will still be good years later…but the engines for the generators are likely to be more expensive. (Note, if possible, get one that takes the propane in the liquid state rather than as vapor – much less likely to freeze up in winter!)

And reader James Loftis emails:

When we moved back to the hurricane belt that is Houston, we decided that a stand-by generator was a must. From my research into the subject, and the experience of getting it up and running:

1. Air-cooled generators are smaller and cheaper to buy and maintain, but you are probably limited to 20kV. If you have 2 air-conditioners, like many of the homes here, you will not be able to run the whole house. Some power-management planning is needed.

2. Not every contractor or electrician has installed (easy) and connected (hard) a generator, and some won’t be able to recognize problem 1.

3. If you go with NG, city authorities are likely to require a new gas meter and connection. And, the transfer switch is not “optional”, no matter what the vendor’s website might say.

4. It will take you much longer than planned to get everything done. Much longer. From talks with others who gone down this path, this seems a common complaint.

5. I noticed while shopping for generators that most every website that monitors activity will offer a substantial day-of-purchase discount to convince you to buy from them. No idea whether that’s still going on, but it happened on 3 different sites.

Plus, from Alex Nunez:

Over at ConsumerSearch.com, we have a full report on portable generators. In addition to making recommendations in a variety of product categories (based on what’s being said in published third-party reviews) on the landing page (http://www.consumersearch.com/portable-generators), we include a more evergreen What To Look For section that breaks down some basic shopping tips on choosing wattage, fuel type, and features: http://www.consumersearch.com/portable-generators/important-features. That page may help some of your readers who are beginning their research. I think the genny manufacturers are going to have a nice bottom line this year.

Yeah, me too.

MORE: Reader Teresa Hummel writes:

We have had a generator for years. It was last used during the winter of 2008 when an ice storm took out our power for 3 days. We were lucky, others were out for weeks. Had we not used the generator we would have had frozen pipes and a far greater disaster. You are correct though, using a generator takes some care. After reading your post and the other comments, I have a tip that may save someone a big headache and money in the long run.

Many people buy a generator when there is a crisis, then sell it once the crisis is past. There is one major thing people overlook, or don’t bother with, when they use a generator in these situations. Like all engines, they need to be maintained. If you read the manual you will often find it calling for an oil change after about 25 hours of use and periodically there after. I’m sure many people have no idea they need to do any kind of maintenance that soon, if at all. Even though it is seldom used, my husband does twice yearly maintenance on our generator to keep it in good running condition. In an emergency, it’s too late to find out it doesn’t work.

In the case of a multi-day power outage, such as the recent hurricane, people hurry out, buy a generator, and run them nearly continuously for days. All of this without doing anything other than adding gas when it runs out. While it doesn’t usually cause the generator to stop at that time, it will shorten the life of the machine considerably. It’s something to keep in mind for those who are thinking of buying a used generator. If the seller can’t give you any specifics on how long it was used and what maintenance was done, walk away. No matter the price, it’s not a bargain at that point.

Also they need to be started regularly — like once a month — even when they’re not used. Seems like that could become a pain.

And reader Christine Lanzon writes:

Just this weekend we installed this smallish (3500 watt max) propane-fueled generator. And this transfer switch.

The generator is being kept on the side of the house (away from vents and windows), hooked up to the same kind of propane tank I use on the gas grill (which makes the gas grill propane tank a handy spare), off the ground on a wooden platform that we built for the purpose. It’s mainly to make sure the sump pump and freezer can run during an outage, but we also hooked up the circuits for a few receptacles on all three levels so I can power my router, my laptop, some lights, and other small loads. With a grill cover over it, it’s hardly noticeable; I don’t have to store gasoline; and it starts easily. It seems like the perfect compromise between a full-blown generator and powerlessness.

You can run a small generator off those little tanks, but I believe you’re much better off with a 75lb tank, especially in low temperatures.

STILL MORE: Reader Walter Boxx writes:

You won’t need nearly as big a generator as you probably think. I have a 5500 watt generator and could get by with half that. The less the better since you may be driving 30 miles and sitting in line for an hour or more for gas. All you really need is a refrigerator, a couple of lights and some fans or a couple of small window unit A/Cs. During the recent tornado-induced multi-day power outage I got by with just the fans for a couple of days since it was cool in the evenings and mornings. When the humidity got too high I hooked up the window units and it made a big difference. My refrigerator only pulls 500 watts, as do the window units (6,000 btu) for a total of just under 2,000 watts with a few lights. You’d probably want 3,500 watts to be sure you can start them, but 5500 was overkill. And bigger means more gas to run. I was using 1/2 gal/hr. A smaller generator would have used 1/3 gal/hr. Even so, I was giving gas away before it was over. And having a spare window unit AC or two around is not a bad idea. Not only is it probably cheaper to use a small generator with window units than to buy a generator big enough to run your house unit, but I’ve used mine for backup when the A/C was on the fritz and even loaned them out several times.

And reader Jeff Pttman writes:

I have a “portable” (weighs a ton but can be rolled about on a level surface by one person) gasoline generator with 7800 watts running power and 13,700 watts starting power. The way I figure it, I can run my refrigerator, my portable air conditioner (which rolls from room to room), a few lights and electric fans, and I can recharge the UPSs that power my cable modem, wireless router and laptops. I can cook on my propane gas grill or on my bottled gas hotplate (originally bought for wok cooking). But as you say, you have to plan ahead to buy and store gasoline and you have to deal with the the risks. My problem is that I can’t find a portable propane-powered generator, or an inverter for my car, that will pump out this amount of power at anywhere near this price point (I paid about $1,600 for the generator; similar ones can be had now for half that). If any of your readers have suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

I dunno. Northern used to have a line of “tri-power” generators (gas, propane, natural gas).

MORE STILL: Reader Jon Bryan writes:

I bought a Generac/Guardian 8kw standby generator that runs from our 500-gallon propane tank.

I thought about gas or diesel, but decided that I wanted something my wife wouldn’t have to deal with if she happened to be home alone. That meant wiring it up permanently with a transfer switch (which was part of the package).

I’ve had it for almost two years now. It really feels luxurious when the power goes out. In a few seconds the generator starts up and voila! we have lights again. I wired enough circuits over to the transfer switch to keep the heat, refrigerator and freezer, kitchen, and master bed/bath on. It could easily handle more, given our modest requirements, but it only has eight breakers. A bigger one with a mains switch would have been nice, but I’d have had to hire an electrician.

I’ve been happy with it. It automatically starts up every Saturday afternoon and runs a few minutes to keep things lubed and the battery charged. The only thing extra that I did was add an hour meter from Digi-Key. I like to know how long it’s run.

I’ll be doing the annual oil and filter change in the next couple of weeks.

Maintenance is key.

DEBUNKING the three biggest exercise myths.

YES. NEXT QUESTION, PLEASE. Should We Treat Aging? But there’s this: “One must understand there there are a great many people in the world whose first, instinctive reaction to extending healthy human life is to reject it. For them, life extension is indeed a bad thing. Various strains of environmentalism are one of the main culprits here. . . . There’s nothing wrong with liking trees and wild places enough to spend your hard-earned resources on helping to maintain them. But environmentalism has a way of veering off into the worship of death and destruction, a sort of modern penitent movement focused on the mortification of society as a whole. It’s so widespread and embedded in our cultures now that even mild-mannered, everyday folk declare their support for shorter and fewer human lives, for abandonment of technologies that improve the quality of human life, and for relinquishment of technological development that will greatly improve life in the future.”

There’s a story on a related theme.

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Cauthen writes: “Death and destruction and short lives, except for the chosen few, of course!”

“Aging waivers” will be available to anyone — who makes a sufficient contribution.

WAPO: Some FBI agents are angered by plan to extend tenure of Director Robert Mueller. “President Obama’s plan to keep FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III in office beyond his 10-year term has triggered an angry reaction among some agents, who say Muel­ler imposed term limits on hundreds of supervisors in the agency but is failing to abide by legal limits set on his own tenure. The accusations of hypocrisy come as Congress is considering whether to grant Obama’s request to allow Mueller two more years in office — an extension the president said would provide stability as other national security agencies undergo major transitions in leadership.” Meh. When you’ve got a tax cheat as Treasury Secretary, who’s surprised by this kind of thing?

UPDATE: Reader Eric Markley writes:

Don’t forget Mueller was a Bush appointee, and is not a political type. Lumping him in with Geithner et al is unfair.

Much of the opposition to Mueller is based on the fact that he has moved away from a model that put agents in charge of everything, and instead has been filling administrative posts with administrative professionals: e.g., the head of the crime lab is a scientist with experience running large labs, not an FBI lifer. The head of IT is from the corporate world, not an FBI agent. etc. This has been a massive culture change within the FBI, which since the days of Hoover has always insisted that every major spot go to someone who began as a trigger-puller — and which has reduced the number of high-paying jobs available to said agents.

Whatever the merits (or lack) of that approach, it explains why there’s not going to be a shortage of ex-agents ready to rip him in the media.

Meanwhile, reader Charley Kron emails: “Obama probably doesn’t know anybody qualified to be head of the FBI, so is forced to try to keep this guy on.” Yeah, Bill Ayers wouldn’t pass the background check.

CHANGE: Amputee Patrick demonstrates his new bionic hand. On Facebook, Alex Lightman comments: “I respect Patrick’s choice. I would have done the same. And I question again why the majority of people aren’t Transhumanists. Religious fervor can leade someone to take limbs or blow them off, but has it ever, in the history of the world, replaced a limb? Transhumanism includes bionics, life extension, cognitive enhancement, AI – real miracles happening every day. “

SO YESTERDAY’S POST ON LOW-BUDGET DISASTER PREP has produced still more email. Mostly it’s suggestions for what more people can do. That, of course, goes all the way up to a custom bomb-shelter / retreat in the mountains somewhere. But for most people, resources are limited. What are some things you can do that go beyond just keeping some extra groceries and bottled water? But not too far beyond?

You can keep a case or two of self-heating MREs around. They last a long time, they aren’t bad, and they’re more portable than canned foods if you have to leave home, but they don’t need separate water to prepare them like freeze-dried foods.

You might invest in a water filter, which will let you turn iffy water into drinkable water.

You should stock first-aid supplies and extra needed medications, in case you can’t get prescriptions refilled.

You might want some sort of backup power, ranging from a big uninterruptible power supply (keeps laptops and internet going for a long time, recharges cellphones, etc.) to a generator. Generators take annoying degrees of maintenance; a UPS can back up your computer or modem/wireless router until needed for more. But they put out a lot less power than a generator, and won’t keep your freezer from thawing. But generators cross the line into “more serious” as opposed to “slightly serious” preparedness, which is what this post is about.

Some additional source of heat. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you know how to start it without an electric igniter. If you have a woodburning fireplace or stove, make sure you have plenty of wood, and matches and kindling, etc. (Woodburning fireplaces aren’t much good for heat, really; stoves on the other hand put out a lot). A backup kerosene or propane heater is good, too. Propane is easier to store than kerosene, and there are some propane heaters that are supposed to be safe for indoor use — though I’d invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to go with any kind of backup indoor heat. Also, extra blankets. And wool socks! Maybe even a Snuggie or two. In case the power goes out in the summer, make sure you have screens on your windows so that you can open them without filling your house with bugs. A small battery-powered fan is nice, too — clip it on to the headboard of your bed and it’ll be easier to sleep on a sticky night. Keep plenty of batteries, too.

Backup lamps and lanterns. One nice thing I have are plug-in nightlights that turn on when the power goes off, so that stairs, etc., remain navigable. I have them at the top and bottom of stairs, and in parts of the house that would be really dark if the power went off. They double as flashlights. These look good, too.

A list of phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and various services — plumbers, doctors, etc. — that you won’t be able to look up on the Internet if the power’s out.

A shovel, a crowbar, a water shutoff tool that fits your hookup — make sure you know that it works, how to use it, and where your hookup is in advance — and other simple tools.

A couple of tarps. During the Great Water Incident of a couple of years ago, one of these saved my basement carpet when water started coming out of the ceiling. . . .

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape. And extra plastic garbage bags. Very versatile.

Any other reader suggestions for things that don’t cost too much, but would take disaster-prep up a level from yesterday’s post?

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Leahy writes: “Don’t forget a little extra food for the pets.” Good point.

Reader Peter Gookins emails:

This goes a bit beyond “prep on the cheap,” but you asked…

Generators-most people get one that’s much bigger than they actually need. Back north, I needed a large 240 volt generator (Honda ES 6500) to power the well pump, fridge and freezer when power went out (“locked rotor current,” which is the technical name for the high amperage required to start an electric motor from rest, on a 1 HP deep well pump is a LOT higher than the 8-12 amps (which, at 240 volts, is 1/2 the amperage it would be at 120; figure starting draw on most motors will be about 4X-5X running current; the 6500 puts out 52 amps and at pump start you could tell it picker up a lot of load) it takes to run the pump, and don’t forget that some stuff – like most -but not all- deep well pumps – are 240 volt only); here in Florida I’m on county water. During the 2004 hurricanes I loaned the big one to a neighbor, and it wound up feeding three houses for refrigerators, fans and TVs. I ran off a portable 120 volt 3K watt portable Honda RV generator (EU 3000) just fine, which powered the fridge, fans, lights and and a window AC at night for sleeping. Since then I’ve picked up a 2K watt Honda to use as “an infinite extension cord” at the gun club – it’ll power ONE saw, or a couple of floodlights and a fan, run cordless drill battery chargers, etc, and it weights 47 lbs. so it’s portable. Turns out it will run my fridge, some lights and a fan OR my window AC and some lights, all on less gas than the 3K watt Honda used. The fuel tank is small, but the RV crowd has solutions for that, just Google “EU2000+fuel tank.” And, Honda sells kits (but it’s cheaper to make your own) that allow tying two EU2000s together to get 3200 watts at 120 volts (about 26 amps) steady output. RVers do it all the time.

Remember, the smaller the generator the less fuel it uses. You can get aftermarket propane conversion kits for the Hondas, which I’ve considered doing with the 6500 when I move back north next year, because even with wheels under it it’s not very portable. I haven’t considered doing it with the 3K or the 2000 because having to drag around a propane tank reduces the portability, but if one expected a semi-stationary use, a propane conversion kit and a couple of 70 lb propane tanks would be a good investment. If I were staying in Florida I’d convert from electric water heater to propane tankless, and replace the electric range with a dual-fuel range, and stick a 250 gallon propane tank in the back corner of the yard. All the propane dealers here brag about how their trucks are propane-powered and they never missed a delivery during the hurricanes.

Speaking of well pumps…there is a great advantage to replacing the small well tank ( about 3.5 gallon draw down – one flush with old style toilets, so your pump is starting up a lot) builders always put in because it’s cheap with multiple large tanks. Well-X-Trol makes one that has a 46 gallon draw down from full before the pump needs to start and refill it. I put in two back north; in daily use the pump starts fewer times and runs longer, which extends its life, and when the power went out I ran the pump on generator until the tanks were full, which gave us 92 gallons before we needed the pump again. With water saving shower heads and minimal flushing we could get through an entire day (BTW, with a little judicious circuit breaker adjusting, one can power only one of the heating elements in an electric water heater with one’s generator, preferably the bottom element; takes a little while, but in 30 minutes or so you have a tank full of hot water. Check what wattage the elements are and replace the bottom one with a 4500 watt or 3800 watt (assuming the original is a 5500 watt) to ease the load on the generator. During normal use you won’t notice the difference.

If I were building my house from scratch, I’d consider putting in an underground propane tank and running everything off propane instead of natural gas, with a propane-powered generator thrown into the mix. A couple of deliveries a year and you’re semi self-sufficient.

Reader Anthony Swenson writes with a low-budget point that’s more in the spirit I meant for this post:

One of the cheapest things you can do – it won’t cost you anything but a nice smell in your laundry – is to make sure you always buy plain, unscented, unflavored chlorine bleach.

“In an emergency, think of this (one gallon of Regular Clorox Bleach) as 3,800 gallons of drinking water.”

Yeah, bleach is good for sanitizing stuff, too. I keep extra around — but it’s harder and harder to find plain old Clorox bleach anymore amid all the scented, splash-resistant, etc. stuff on the shelf. Read the label carefully. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Henry Bowman writes:

Another item to consider if you have a hybrid vehicle: a large inverter. I read an article a couple of years ago about a fellow in Connecticut who ran many of his electric appliances in his house for three days off his Prius, with inverter. He claimed it cost him 5 gallons of fuel. Seems like an inexpensive backup, and one for which you don’t need to worry about starting often, as is the case with a portable generator.

My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Houston vicinity, were without power for 13 days after Hurricane Ike. They have two Priuses: they could have used a couple of inverters.

A big inverter is a lot cheaper than a comparable generator, and probably safer, too. And you can use it to recharge your UPS. But the hybrid thing isn’t as easy as it sounds. The guy you mention modded his Prius, because the big honking battery that drives the electric motors doesn’t put out 12v DC, and the 12v power system that starts the motor in the Prius (or in my Highlander) is separate. So I’m not sure there’s any special benefit to having a hybrid unless it’s modified, but correct me if I’m missing something.

Speaking of cars, think about when you’re not at home. Reader Mike von Cannon writes:

A note about disaster kits: I work for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and starting the morning of Dec 26 our dispatch center was flooded with calls from tourists in rental cabins who were stranded and running out of food (it was even worse during the blizzard in 93, which also hit on a weekend), so even on vacation it would pay to buy extra in case we get more snow than you expect. many tourists who thought they’d be going home sunday were stranded til Wed or Thur.

Good advice. And you should travel with at least a bit of helpful stuff. I keep some emergency stuff in the back of the car — some food bars, water, a spare pair of shoes in case mine get nasty while changing a tire, etc., and assorted minor toiletries and hygiene products and, very important, a roll of toilet paper — which helps. (And if you can produce tampons in a pinch, you can be a hero to women everywhere.)

I use these food bars, because they stand up to the heat in the summer better and they’re not appetizing enough that people will snitch ’em just for a quick snack, and these water packets because they don’t burst if they freeze. Most of this stuff never gets used, but being stuck by the side of the road for an extended period just once makes it worth having.

Also: Some survival blankets, some basic tools, and a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. (Make sure it’s one with a can opener/bottle opener). And a roll of duct tape! I keep all of this in a small pack that takes up very little room in the back; there’s one in Helen’s car, too.

Reader Gary Saffer writes:

A couple of things that I didn’t notice in your disaster preparedness posts.

Chemical light sticks. A friend of mine suggested these for general use. They’re cheap, they provide enough light to move around, and they save batteries for more light intensive tasks. And of course, you can get them at Amazon.

Consider that under most circumstances, it’s going to be 48-72 hours before rescue or relief shows up. If you are planning for much longer periods of being off the grid, consider moving to a rural area where you can build you entire house around being off the grid for long periods of time.

Firearms. You don’t mention them, but everyone should have a means of self defense. The veneer of civilization is thin at the best of times, it vaporizes in a real emergency. The predators will be out fairly quickly because their disaster plan is to use your prepared material to survive on. They don’t know specifically who you are, but they’ll keep looking until they find someone who has the stuff they want. Or a firearm they want no part of.

Yeah, light sticks are cool, even if Joe Biden thinks they’re drug paraphernalia. The gun issue is a whole separate post, but a gun (or several) is important disaster-prep, but that moves beyond the “easy steps” focus of this post. And the rural retreat approach goes way beyond it.

Reader Tina Howard writes:

For those who actually have a landline: an old-fashioned, non-electric telephone that plugs into the phone jack & has the handset attached to the phone. Easy to identify because there is no electric cord with it. Our phone lines worked after 2003’s Hurricane Claudette but the cordless phones wouldn’t. Very cheap at Salvation Army Thrift shops.

In the same vein, keep the necessary cords to plug a computer directly into the phone modem, because the wireless router is also electric. We were able to get online and check weather and news reports, as well as make posts to update others.

Good advice. Yeah, an old-fashioned landline phone that uses line power is good to have. Cellphone batteries die. Phone company line power is more reliable than utility power. Some multi-handset wireless phone setups or answering machines have a handset at the base that still works when the power is out. (Mine does). Most don’t. You can also hook the base into a big UPS — they don’t draw much power so they’ll work for days that way if you do. Ditto your cable/DSL modem and wireless router.

Reader J.R. Ott writes:

Three lengths of sturdy rope,5/8 climbing rope,inexpensive clothesline type,for bundling up stuff,para chute chord,All three are handy for bug out 50′ min and a few short hunks.Each bundle of rope has a snap knife taped to it (about a dollar each from the paint dept) . . . . Lastly if folks can afford it a Westie dog or a Shepard,good alarm and a Westie will shred an attacker as they are very possessive Terriers and if the dogs women folk are attacked you would not believe how damaging the dog can be.

Dogs are good to have around. More advice on low-cost preparation here, from a reader.

I should also note that while having extra stuff is handy — if the roads are blocked, and you don’t have enough food, there’s not much you can do — it’s also important to have skills. Most of the survival books are aimed at somebody lost in the woods, but, again, a low-budget approach means being able to deal with home-based small-scale disasters. This book, When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, is a good focus. My own skillset is nothing to brag about: I can do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry stuff, but I don’t really like it because I’m a perfectionist, but not skilled enough to make it perfect very fast so I get frustrated. (Plus, I’ve usually got an article I should be writing, or something) However, it suffices for quick-and-dirty solutions to problems like clogged or burst pipes, etc. Being able to deal with that sort of thing is a big leg-up, and that’s the kind of thing this book addresses.

FINALLY: Good advice from reader Spencer Reiss: Keep some cash around. Preferably in relatively small denominations: “The universal solvent–gets anything else you need. and no power, no phone=no ATM, no credit cards. Post-Andrew desperate Miamians were driving halfway to Orlando to get some (and in some areas systems were down for up to two weeks). Much easier/smarter to keep $1000 stashed somewhere.”

OUT OF TOUCH WITH MODERN REALITIES: “The Social Democrats unveiled a political program Sunday aimed at stopping the extension of the life of nuclear power plants and allowing people to retire earlier than age 67, a change the party itself introduced when it was in power.”

IF YOU’RE INTERESTED IN LIFE EXTENSION, you might want to check out my friend Chris Peterson’s Life Extension Conference in San Francisco.


Russian PM Vladimir Putin has joked that he and his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi could stay in their jobs until the age of 120. Mr Putin was responding to Mr Berlusconi’s offer at an informal meeting in Russia to help fund research into extending the average lifespan.

Perhaps it should only be available to those who don’t hold political office. . . .

TECHONOMY: Bullish On Life Extension.

Olshansky doesn’t just think we’re going to get that 7 year pill. He also thinks it’s going to extend healthy life, rather than simply prolonging us while we’re hit by a flurry of debilitating illnesses. The technical term is “compression of morbidity”: The period of life beset by disease-related suffering and impairment would be compressed, and essentially come right at the end. You live long, you prosper–and then you die fairly quickly.

Of course, the prospect of extending healthy human life by just 7 years on average (the current life expectancy for women is 80 and men is 75) would have dramatic consequences. The retirement age would have to change, or else you could forget about Social Security. And would people then explicitly set out to have multiple careers? Would marriage contracts have an end date, so that people could go on to another one?

I had some thoughts on that in Forbes last year.

And just a reminder, if you want to got to Chris Peterson’s life extension conference, you can get a hundred bucks off by using the code INSTAPUNDIT.

INTERESTED IN LIFE EXTENSION? Consider attending this conference in October, organized by my friend Chris Peterson. Use the code INSTAPUNDIT and get a $100 discount. (Bumped).

A SHORT ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF radical life extension.

LIST: Survive the Zombie Apocalypse. More important zombie-prepping advice here.

UPDATE: Reader Joseph Dorsett writes: “Whether or not the Zombie horde comes the second link you provided is very good if a disaster breaks. Enough food and water in a backpack for three days. Everyone should throw something like that in the back of the vehicle. Lately evidence has shown that it takes that long for the Government to get ready to help.” Yes, at best. And it’s amazing how much zombie-prep has in common with disaster-preparation in general . . . .

UPDATE: Professor Stephen Clark emails:

Robert Dorsett writes that it seems to take the federal government three days to respond with relief in the wake of a disaster. What you and your readers need to understand is that, in the wake of 9/11 and Katrina, FEMA has been pressing state and county officials charged with managing first responders to have plans in place to fend for themselves for up to three days without federal assistance.

My wife works for a regional planning commission and has had to deal with some aspects of the planning process here in our region. This is something that has been ongoing nationwide for a couple years. While FEMA and the federal government would try to bring relief the moment it is needed, the bottom line is that you need to be prepared to tough it out for three days before relief arrives. It may take that long.

Or longer, judging from the Gulf experience.

MORE: Apocalypse thoughts from War Nerd. “If there was a mass of zombies swarming the streets, I’d feel pretty good about it. Remember that scene in Dawn of the Dead when they’re on the roof of the mall picking off zombies to pass the time? It’d be that easy. Being braindead is not an advantage in war, believe it or not.”

STILL MORE: A reader emails:

Now, I’m in Earthquake country, so it’s more a shelter-in-place then get-outta-dodge situation here, but it seems to me that apart from the *need* to be prepared to handle yourself for three days, the last thing you want to be doing three days — a week — ten days into an emergency is spending your entire day in the bread-line, even if there is a bread-line to be had. I have enough food (and fuel, and water, and beer, and scotch, and hand tools) to take care of my family for a solid 14 days. You don’t want to burn your gasoline to go hang out for ten hours to get a day’s worth of food. So I’ll be in a position to help folks on my street, or for the unexpected house guest, if the wait is longer than the expected three days. (I also have the advantage that, despite being in suburban San Francisco, have a decent open space behind me with turkey, deer, and some other edible things which I’ll kill in short order (and a damned sight sooner than my neighbors) to stretch my supplies, “unlawful discharge” ordinances notwithstanding).

Good point. (Bumped). Especially about the beer and scotch. I need to add to my stockpiles. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Richard Egan emails:

I do some work with emergency management groups and the general consensus is that prep for a minimum of 3 days should be on hand per person. Key is clean drinkable water, at a minimum of 64 oz per day and you need to think of pets also. In our area it would be stay in place so planning for two weeks is appropriate. If you are in an area where you probably have to leave then 3-5 days in a bug out bag per person is good. The food should be stuff that could be eaten without adding water or heating, vacuum sealed for weight considerations.

Some general links for water.

FEMA tips.

All good advice. And Rachel Pereira emails:

You may want to mention to your minions that cash is important in their disaster preparedness pack.

In 2004, when we got slapped with 3 back-to-back hurricanes (in Orlando, which is in the middle of the state), my husband and I learned the hard way, after the first ‘cane (Charlie), that our Visa check card was useless since most of the city had no power for days and days. And we never have cash on us. So even if we wanted to go stand in a three hour line to buy ice, we could only do so if the company was compassionate enough to accept a check. (happily, they took our check)

Cash is key. And now we have a couple bucks stashed away, just in case.

Also, for those who still have a home phone, a cordless phone does not work with no power. Best Buy had the funniest signs on their door after Charlie: we sell Corded phones! And cell phones die quickly when cell
towers are knocked down, and the cell phone is searching for a signal.

Yes, keep some cash (plenty of small bills!) handy. Some of the hand-cranked emergency radios will charge a cellphone, too.

WELL, I FELT LIKE MY LIFE HAD LASTED TOO LONG just reading this column by Jon Weiner.

More seriously, I’ve had some thoughts on the subject of life-extension here and here. Also here.


It is inevitable. The muscles weaken. Hearing and vision fade. We get wrinkled and stooped. We can’t run, or even walk, as fast as we used to. We have aches and pains in parts of our bodies we never even noticed before. We get old. It sounds miserable, but apparently it is not. A large Gallup poll has found that by almost any measure, people get happier as they get older, and researchers are not sure why.

Well, I’m certainly happier than I was in my 20s, or even 30s. But I’m not really feeling any physical effects of aging yet. I suggest, however, that this is a good argument for life extension — if people get happier as they live longer, and if that remains true even as their bodies fall apart, they’re likely to be happier still if they remain healthy.

MARIA KONOVALENKO on science against aging.

AN ARGUMENT AGAINST LIFE EXTENSION: “Be careful what you wish for, Glenn! If they do indeed go faster, we may live long enough to be the ones who have to pay off the national debt. Bummer there, huh? So have a cigarette.”


RON BAILEY ON Malthusian objections to life extension.

SPACE: Cassini Gets Life Extension to Explore Saturn Until 2017.

LOOKING FARTHER BACK IN TIME with the updated Hubble Telescope. The Hubble life-extension mission looks worth it. And here’s some background.

LIFE EXTENSION AND DIET: “A new study in fruit flies suggests that the life-extending properties of caloric restriction may be due not only to fewer calories in the diet, but also to just the right mix of protein building blocks, called amino acids. The study, published online December 2 in Nature, may help explain some of the health benefits of restricted-calorie diets. Coupled with other data, the new study should prompt researchers to reevaluate whether it is calorie count or the nutrient composition of a diet that is most important for regulating lifespan and health, comments Luigi Fontana of Washington University in St. Louis.”

I hope they figure this out soon. Faster, please!

RON BAILEY: The Methuselah Manifesto. A report from a meeting of the life-extension movement. “Over the weekend Maximum Life Foundation president David Kekich gathered a group of scientists, entrepreneurs, and visionaries to meet for three days with the goal of developing a scientific and business strategy to make extreme human life extension a real possibility within a couple of decades. Kekich dubbed the effort the Manhattan Beach Project.”

SANJAY GUPTA FOR SURGEON GENERAL? I guess those Iraq War ethics questions have blown over. That’s good, since they were stupid questions (even Arthur Caplan thought so!). And since the Surgeon General’s job is more to be a TV talking-head than an actual physician, I don’t see why Gupta’s TV experience should disqualify him; it’s not as if he isn’t a serious physician, too. Gupta also has an interest in life-extension, which I like.

UPDATE: What do you think? A poll.

MORE: Reader Lane Core emails: “From CNN to the Obama White House? It could hardly even be considered a transfer.”

WANT A HIGH-TECH FUTURE? Consider paying for it. “People should consider diverting $100-150 per year in science fiction movies, DVD, books, toys and games towards actual scientific attempts at life extension and molecular nanotechnology.”

A LOOK AT stem-cell research and life-extension.

LONGEVITY RESEARCH UPDATE: Here’s more on SIRT-1 activators:

The new drugs are called sirtuin activators, meaning that they activate an enzyme called sirtuin. The basic theory is that all or most species have an ancient strategy for riding out famines: switch resources from reproduction to tissue maintenance. A healthy diet but with 30 percent fewer calories than usual triggers this reaction in mice and is the one intervention that reliably increases their life span. The mice seem to live longer because they are somehow protected from the usual diseases that kill them.

But most people cannot keep to a diet with a 30 percent cut in calories, so a drug that could activate the famine reflex might be highly desirable. . . . The Sirtris drug being tested in diabetic patients is a special formulation of resveratrol that delivers a bloodstream dose five times as high as the chemical alone. This drug, called SRT501, has passed safety tests and, at least in small-scale trials, has reduced the patients’ glucose levels.

The other drug is a small synthetic chemical that is a thousand times as potent as resveratrol in activating sirtuin and can be given at a much smaller dose. Safety tests in people have just started, with no adverse effects so far. . . . Mice on the drugs generally remain healthy right until the end of their lives and then just drop dead.“If they work in people that way, one would look to an extension of health span, with an extension of life as a possible side effect,” Dr. Guarente said. “It would necessitate changing ideas about when people retire and when they stop paying into the system.”

GlaxoSmithKline could put SRT501, its resveratrol formulation, on the market right away, selling it as a natural compound and nutritional pharmaceutical that does not require approval by the F.D.A. “We haven’t made any decisions, but that clearly is an option,” Dr. Vallance said.

Read the whole thing. And let’s hope this stuff pans out, though it’s merely a foretaste of what we’ll (probably) see in the coming decades. Meanwhile, here’s a transcript of Gregory Stock’s presentation on aging research at the UCLA Aging conference. “Certainly, if human lifespan is immutable, then more health is a great thing, but our true aspirations are not for compressed morbidity. They are for longer, healthier lives. What is amazing is that this aspiration is actually a plausible goal today. So, why not go for it? . . . More life without more health would not be of great value. And, ironically, this seems to be the focus of a great deal of medicine today.”

BRIAN WANG ROUNDS UP NEWS on life extension and Alzheimer’s treatment.

VIDEO OF AUBREY DE GREY from the UCLA life-extension conference: “I am minded of the concert bootleg scene, except with scientists instead of musicians, and no bouncers chasing down the camcorders.” Probably no audience members lifting up their shirts, either.

A ROUNDUP OF NEWS ON resveratrol and life extension. I’m still taking resveratrol supplements, since I tested ’em for this Popular Mechanics column. I switched from the Longevinex to the Biotivia Transmax. Are they working? Ask me in 30 years . . . .

THIS IS GOOD NEWS: Life Expectancy Reaches New Record.

Plus, this: “Life expectancy in 2006 is about four months longer than it was in 2005, according to the CDC.” At this rate, Aubrey de Grey’s actuarial “escape velocity” for life extension may start looking more plausible . . . (Via Don Surber).

ARTHUR CAPLAN ON LIFE EXTENSION: “Despite a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing, it is not obvious that wanting to live a lot longer is evil or immoral. The case against trying is not convincing.” Indeed.

RESVERATROL UPDATE: Glaxo has bought Sirtris, the company with an arsenal of SIRT-1 drugs that do what resveratrol does only more so.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Derek Lowe on what it means. “It’s still a long shot, but it’s one of the most intriguing ones in the history of medicine. Actually, from one perspective, you wonder how long a shot it is: a biochemical pathway that seems to extend healthy life in yeast, roundworms, flies, and mice would seem to have some odds of doing the same thing in man. A lot of drug programs have been started with a lot less backing them up, albeit for rather less earth-shattering indications. . . . a drug for aging is a perfect example of something the FDA has absolutely no idea of how to approach. Well, it’s not just the FDA, come to think of it: how on earth would you design a Phase II trial for life extension? How long would it take?”

Plus, Leon Kass will be unhappy.

UPDATE: Reader John Coleman emails:

The founders of Sirtris spoke to my class at Harvard Business School last week. They were extremely impressive, and, from a business standpoint, I would say this series of drugs is not as long a shot as
some people think. I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know the extent to which the drugs effects will transfer from mice to humans; but the firm is well run and the people in it have a great deal of faith in the power of resveratrol across a number of condititions.

There is a brand new Harvard Business School case available on Sirtris (we read it last week), but its not up on the HBS Press website yet. When it’s made available, I’d recommend you read it — it’s probably
the best layman’s guide to the company and the science around.

I look forward to its publication.

EARTH-SAVING DONE RIGHT: I’ve got a column in the New York Post today on global warming, the environment, and what to do.

UPDATE: Dan Collins writes: “Geez, Glenn, you’re starting to look like Ray Kurzweil. I think you ought to get away from the screen more.” It’s the life-extension treatments. Soon everyone will look like Ray Kurzweil. It’s worth it to live 1000 years, though. I think.

THOUGHTS ON life extension and the longevity dividend.


PHARMACEUTICAL CHEMIST DEREK LOWE looks at research on aging and life extension. “Some people may not be able to get past Aubrey de Grey’s hair, and may have decided the whole subject is out on the fringe. But, increasingly, I don’t think it is. This stuff could work, eventually, and if it does, it’ll be one of the biggest inflection points in the history of the species.”

ILYA SOMIN ON A CLASH OF VALUES: The debate over radical life extension technologies.

I’ve had some related thoughts here. Plus some thoughts on life extension and retirement.

AS YOU KNOW, I SUPPORT LIFE EXTENSION: “10 Minutes Of Staring at Boobs Daily Prolongs Man’s Life by 5 Years.”

UPDATE: Debunked. But why take chances?


Norman Hsu’s quickly jump-started life on the lam came to a screeching stop less than 48 hours after it began when he got sick on Amtrak’s California Zephyr train and was nabbed after being rushed to a Colorado hospital, according to the FBI.

The prolific Democratic fundraiser and fugitive was busted at 6 p.m. PDT by FBI agents from the Denver office, according to Special Agent Joseph M. Schadler in the FBI’s San Francisco office. . . . Hsu had fled the law for the second time by skipping out on a Wednesday court date – and $2 million bail – in Redwood City.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. Meanwhile, some further thoughts at Wizbang: “Norman Hsu has a great deal of questions to answer. And we need those answers. . . . Of all these, I think the source of his money is the most important. Every single investigation into his business history ends up blank — ‘there’s no there there,’ as Gertrude Stein once said about Oakland. He apparently had no visible means of possessing that much money, and I — and anyone who cares the least about our electoral process — ought to know who was trying to inject that much cash into certain candidates — and, by extension, what they sought to gain by it.”

And some big-picture thoughts here: “I think the Hsu case is bigger than Vick and Craig combined. It has a creepy, tip-of-the-iceberg feel to it. . . . Yes, there will be more Hsus to tap.”

TRANSVISION 2007: Ron Bailey reports on life-extension, and more. “One might think that longer, healthier lives should be an easy sell, but, in fact, there are people who believe that dramatically extending human lives would be a bad idea.”

HERE’S SOME POTENTIAL GOOD NEWS on the longevity front:

Studies have shown that severe calorie restriction markedly extends lifespan in mice and many other species – but the reasons for this remained elusive.

But now US research on nematode worms, published in Nature, has uncovered a gene linked to this unusual effect.

In the future, the find could lead to drugs that mimic the consequences of calorie restriction but negate the need for severe fasting regimes.

These metabolic treatments aren’t the Holy Grail of life-extension research — actually repairing or reversing the damage involved in aging is the real goal — but they could be very useful, and may come first. Plus, any success will spur further research, and research money.

LIVING LONGER: TV doctor Sanjay Gupta has a book out called Chasing Life: New Discoveries in the Search for Immortality to Help You Age Less Today, which looks to offer sensible advice. But it’s a long way from the life-extension technologies that I’d like to see. Still, if you take care of yourself now, you’re more likely to still be around when the good stuff hits the market.

AT ECOTOTALITY: “Why the Gore story matters.”

UPDATE: In all of this, we’re just following in Eric Alterman’s footsteps. Here’s what he wrote in the September, 2004 Atlantic Monthly (not available for free, alas):

Needless to say, Hollywood offers nearly limitless opportunities for anyone seeking to expose hypocrisy in the lifestyles of the rich and progressive. Laurie David, who dedicates herself to fighting for improved fuel-economy standards and reviles the owners of SUVs as terrorist enablers, gives herself a pass when it comes to chartering one of the most wasteful uses of fossil-based fuels imaginable: a private plane. (She’s not just a limousine liberal; she’s a Gulfstream liberal.) One night I visited the home of the former TV star Heather Thomas (The Fall Guy) and her husband, the entertainment lawyer and philanthropist Skip Brittenham. I drove past SUVs and assorted luxury vehicles on what felt like a quarter-mile-long driveway to a mansion large enough to house one of the small Amazonian villages the Brittenhams want to save. Just the energy consumed by the house and all the vehicles would power a sizable chunk of Amazonia. And this was nothing next to the Sunset Strip home of Stewart and Lynda Resnick, where I attended a book party for the journalist and progressive candidate-conspirator-hostess Arianna Huffington. Guests picked at smoked-salmon and caviar hors d’oeuvres beneath twenty-foot ceilings supported by towering Greek columns. Each gilded room was larger than most New York City apartments. The house would not he out of place if plunked down as an extension of Versailles, save for the enormous bust of Napoleon in one of the salons. The Resnicks, Lynda told me, are the “largest farmers in America”; they are the country’s biggest grower of fruits and nuts, and a member of the Sunkist cooperative (she urged me to try the selection of new Sunkist beverages at the well-stocked bar); they also own the Franklin Mint. Later I listened to her refer to the celebrity-laden crowd as “disenfranchised.”

But it’s a rich lode of hypocrisy, and it’s nowhere close to mined out. And who knew that Eric Alterman was the original coiner of the term “Gulfstream liberal?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Also in 2001, Jonathan Rauch coined the more-euphonious “Learjet liberal,” though he wasn’t really talking about global warming or energy efficiency.

And there’s more, over at Creative Destruction.

MORE: Don Surber comments on the coverage:

After reading the Editorialist’s coverage at the Washington Post of Al Gore’s overuse of electricity, I don’t want to hear about Republican hypocrisy ever again.

If Al Gore were a Republican, the story of his consuming 20 times the national average while lecturing the rest of us on cutting back on our energy use would be front page news from coast-to-coast. Late-nite comedians would have a field day. The editorial pages would puff up about Republican hypocrisy.

Instead we get excuses, excuses, excuses. . . .

As a proud member of the mainstream media, let me suggest that this double-standard — this refusal to hold Al Gore accountable for his actions which are contradictory to his words — only feeds the belief that the media is biased in favor of liberals — particularly born-to-the-manor, overfed, limousine liberals who consume 22,000 kilowatts of electricity each year in just one of his three homes.

Well, look at the kind of people who own newspapers . . . .