Monday, August 25, 2014

Quote of the day

Those who make the nation's songs (so much more admirable than its laws) advise us to look for the silver lining, to seek the blue bird, to put all our troubles in a great big box and sit on the lid and grin. Alice Coker had been unable to follow this counsel. Old Man Trouble, that foe of the songwriters, had plainly conquered her proud spirit.
   - P.G. Wodehouse, Bill the Conqueror.

Monday, August 18, 2014

What a headline ...

... but terrifying for the victims:
Shipwrecked tourists swam 6 hours towards erupting volcano
From the New York Post: "Tourists who escaped a sinking boat in Indonesia swam to an island with an erupting volcano and survived by drinking their own urine and eating leaves."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

First gay marriage, now this.

57% of all Americans now use the Oxford comma.  What next, grown men playing soccer?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Babies, bathwater, potato, potahto

As a public rebuke to Donald Sterling's vile racism, UCLA is giving $425,000 back to Sterling, and is refusing to accept the rest of the three million dollars he and his wife donated to them for research into kidney disease.  Kidney disease affects African-americans much more than white americans; for example, McClellan et. al. recently noted that:
Age-adjusted [End-stage Renal Disease] rates are 982 people per million among black and 256 people per million for white individuals, a 3.8-fold racial disparity.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Werther at the Met

What an odd place to store your pistol.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Quote of the day

En vérité, avec tous ces cônes, on dirait d'un temple baroque dédié au dieu Suppositoire.
  - Dubois (1911) Our beautiful Niger

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beat that, Occupy Wall Street

An anti-bureaucracy protester has nailed his scrotum to the pavement of Red Square.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Quote of the day

To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That's literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary.
- Scott Adams,

Monday, October 07, 2013

Wile E. Coyote, Super-genius

I spent much of the weekend trying to debug a strange Saxon XSLT bug.  There was a unit test that failed with the mysterious message:
 Variable Code has not been declared
This error message is nowhere to be found in the Saxon Javadoc, or anywhere it the Saxon source code, and according to Google nobody has ever reported it before.  Nor could I find any hint about what a "Variable Code" could be.

This morning I looked at my own code and, yes, I used an XSL variable which I called "Code" and which I neglected to declare.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Swiftboating Adolph Hitler

An article on Spiegel Online discusses the new German translation of Thomas Weber book Hitler's First War.  In his book, Weber debunks many of the heroic war stories that Hitler spun about himself when he was running for office in the thirties.

Actually, it seems that people who actually served with Hitler tried to debunk his fibs while he was spinning them, but millions of them decided to believe the politician's flunkies rather than the evidence of soldiers who had actually been there in battle at the time. 

Strange but true.


Monday, September 09, 2013

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Quote of the day

We parents of young kids think that our children are the most precious things in the world, but it seems that, at least statistically, few other adults want them. 
 -  Philip Greenspun

Nature abhors a vacuum

From "News of the Weird"
An atheist "church" in Lake Charles, La., run by lapsed Pentecostal Jerry DeWitt, conducts periodic services with many of the trappings expected by the pious -- except for the need to believe in a supreme being.
Such "churches" (reported The New York Times and Washington Post in coincidental stories the same day in June) can help soothe the "biological" needs for survival and avoidance of loneliness by congregational rituals (such as celebrating a sabbath) and in helping find meaning "in something other than (oneself)."
For example, atheist Sigfried Gold praised a "rigorous prayer routine" (beseeching a "vivid goddess he created") in overcoming his weight problem. [New York Times, 6-24-2013; Washington Post, 6-24-2013]
It's difficult to imagine the personal pain or trauma that would cause somebody to reject God, and then make up a new god to fill the void that's left.  You picture mothers who abandon their babies and then start playing with rag dolls.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Loaves and Fishes, a lifeline for the homeless in New Milford

Some quick notes on a political controversy in New Milford:

Loaves and Fishes is a lifeline for many of the homeless in New Milford.  Their soup kitchen feeds about 100 people dinner each day.

It is easy walking distance to the HART bus stop, and also to the camp that the homeless have set up in recent years near the Housatonic bridge (which I am told the police regularly raid, and the homeless for some reason regularly come back to.  Don't they have better places to be?)

Since February, the mayor of New Milford has been trying to move the soup kitchen to a location 6 miles from the center of town.  Does she think that this population needs a 12-mile walk each day to stay fit?  The poet Neil Silberblatt compared the Mayor's proposal to Jonathan Swift's modest proposal to eat the poor.  He notes that most of the homeless "are residents of New Milford and are no less residents than those who have gorgeous country homes in that town."

In the words of Rachel Sampson:
"There but for the grace of God go I" -- anyone could be in need of social service assistance, even the mayor, some day.
 And in the words of my Aunt, Penny O'Gorman:
My son is Major Robert Kitchen, a New Milford High School graduate who went into the U.S. Air Force and became a high-ranking, highly decorated officer and veteran of two wars.

Recently, my son passed a homeless man on the street while he was on his way to work. He brought the man to a coffee shop, bought him breakfast and chatted with him.
 
I am as proud of him for that action as I am of his many military accomplishments.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Business advice of the day

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that when your competition is using "We Won't Sue You" in their promotional materials, you might be doing something wrong.
 - Jack B, commenting at Popehat.

наименьший в мире скрипок

The Washington Post reports that Americans who seek asylum in Russia don't lead very happy lives. The cases they examine include Lee Harvey Oswald, Martin and Mitchell, and Joseph Dutkanicz. You have to ask though: were any of these people particularly happy before they betrayed their country?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thursday, April 04, 2013

"Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers"

"Today, the school systems in 20 states employ more non-teachers than teachers" notes George Will.  Some graduates of public schools might question whether this is in bald point of fact a bad thing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Quote of the day

We ought to be living in a golden age of public discourse, given how many people now have the opportunity to attend college. But we are not.
- Catherine Sevcenko

"Good luck readin' Beowulf, ya monsters!"

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Quote of the day

No one should have an excuse not understanding this book.
- Martinus Veltman, in the preface to his book Diagrammatica: The Path to Fenman Diagrams.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A very New York story

 

Yesterday afternoon I took a city bus to the Metro-north train station in Manhattan. There were only a few passengers, including two guys with two small children.  The older child was four or five, and was eating cookies out of a cardboard containter.  He was stretched out on the seat using his dad as a backstop.

The younger child was about 6 months old.  His father was obviously exhasted, but every time he tried to sit down the baby cried.  So he kept standing, and the baby got to look out of the bus windows at the cars and people.

After about a mile, the father with the baby got off the bus.  The kid who was using his father as a day-bed looked up and said: "Boy, was that baby spoiled."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Quote of the day

The primary design goal [of] MUMPS was to create code that, once written, can never be maintained by anyone ever again ... At the company Bryan worked for, they didn’t just use MUMPS, they used it cleverly. Partially as a result of MUMPS’ limitation and partially because they had all gone insane.
- Alex Papadimoulis

Monday, January 14, 2013

Quote of the day

In every walk in life, whether among the coarse, rough and ragged, untidily mouldering ranks of the lower orders, or among the uniformly frigid and tediously tidy higher orders -- in every condition of life a man is likely to behold at least once in his life a vision unlike anything he has ever seen before, which for once rouses in him feelings unlike those he is destined to experience all the rest of his days.
  -- N. V. Gogol, Dead Souls (translated by George Gibian)

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

"Happy New Year" from our family to yours, either in your current form, or as a pitiable undead banshee, howling your own damnation from an obscene and impotent throat.  Go Red Sox too!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Moms are such killjoys

I only used scalp electrodes on my daughter, since my wife wouldn’t let me drill holes in my daughter’s head.
 - Dr. Chris James, University of Southampton, via ExtremeTech and the Times of India.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quote of the day

What about the generals? The women couldn't have made any progress in the role of "social liaison" if the generals didn't want to be liaised.
- Ann Althouse

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sex and the single personality cult member

The Obama campaign released this incredibly creepy campaign commercial to attract young female voters.  Because, ya know, nothing's better for attracting women than desperation.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Reading faces

I went for a walk in the Ornamental Gardens today during lunch, partly because I am a lover of the cultured and beautiful, but mostly because I wasn't watching where I was walking and wound up there.  At the north entrance into the park from the garden, there's a bench in front of a low brownstone wall, with a grassy hill in back of the wall.  Sitting on the wall with his feet on the bench was a man holding a baby.  His wife was holding a camera.  She was trying to get the baby to sit still for the picture.

"Stop wiggling.  That's it.  Don't you look nice!  Now say 'Cheese!'"

"No!"  (this was the baby, not the man)

"'Cheese!'"

"No!  No!  No!"

The man had the sheepish "aw come on, I'm not that bad" look that guys have when they have something to apologize for, but I assumed that I'm just not any good at reading faces.  As I walked past the woman said, "I'm going to kill your mother for teaching him that word."

Monday, October 08, 2012

Two dedicated employees

According to the Hour, someone reported suspicious activities on the roof of the UPS building last night. When the police got there, they surrounded the building and then caught a man and a woman on the roof.  Their excuse? The man said that they were UPS employees:
The suspect went on to say that while he and his coworker have an alarm code to get into the building, he couldn't get his keys to open the front door, so he hopped on the roof in an attempt to drop the package through a window leading to his boss's office.
When asked why he had to drop off the package on a Saturday night, the suspect said it was time sensitive and that his boss needed it
Pretty lame, huh? But here's the rub: the police called UPS security and found out the man's story was true. He couldn't get in to deliver the package, so he went up on the roof to throw the package in through a window. Now that's a dedicated delivery company.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Quote of the day

Well you've got to hand it to Mitt Romney, 'cause President Obama sure did.
- Seth Meyers, after the first Obama-Romney debate.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quote of the day

 Sales are down because no-one knows who to bribe.
- Beijing salesman, quoted by the Wall Street Journal's China Realtime Report.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quote of the day

Obama and Clinton are currently starring as the Siskel & Ebert of Pakistani TV, giving two thumbs down to Innocence of Muslims in hopes that it will dissuade local moviegoers from giving two heads off to consular officials.
- Mark Steyn

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quote of the day

If you want to live forever, then don't stop breathing, like I did.
- Val Patterson

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Where's a good Third Amendment lawyer when you need one?

A British judge rejected a suit by tenants of a big apartment building who were upset that her Majesty's army was placing missiles on the building's rooftop to protect London during the 2012 Olympics. 
Residents of the 17-story tower, about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the Olympic Park in east London, say the missile battery could make their homes a terrorist target.

But the judge said the missiles presented no real threat.
The government would have a problem doing this here in the US.  The Third Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says that "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

Of course, according to Justice Roberts, I suppose that the feds can make you pay a tax if you don't allow the soldiers in your house. And another penalty if you don't give them broccoli every night.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

You win some, you lose some.


US violent crime rate down for fifth straight year.
    - MSNBC

Hitchhiker writing 'The Kindness of America' memoir shot by motorist in Montana.
    - Christian Science Monitor 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The late unlamented al Quaeda

Today, everyone's an anglophile.

Universities around the world

Some Australian social science researchers at the University of Melbourne have ranked the higher education systems of countries around the world. The US came up number one. Bet you can't guess who was number two.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Playing detective

A teenager was arrested yesterday afternoon in Norwalk, climbing his neighbor's roof in a wig.
The teen, who was still wearing the hoodie and the wig, told police that his actions were based on a dare, police said. He said his classmates had levied the dare at him, but did not specify the contents of the dare, police said.

There are rumors that the dare involved climbing a roof in a wig.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

McDonald's on Route 1 in Fairfield

Yesterday afternoon I was in Fairfield and I noticed I was insufficiently decaffeinated. So I pulled into the McDonald's on the Post Road to get some coffee and an apple pie. There were six or seven employees, but nobody was paying any attention to me. (Sniff. Poor me.) Three of the girls were listening to another girl tell a story.

I imagine that the story-telling girl was just getting off her shift, since she was wearing a coat. She was leaning on the table where the apple-pie machine was, with her back to me. In the middle of a sentence, she sneezed full on on the apple-pie machine and wiped her nose. None of the other employees batted an eye.

I had my coffee at Starbucks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Economics joke

Ian Cowie relates a joke to help explain the Greek credit crisis:
Some years ago a small rural town in Spain twinned with a similar town in Greece.

The Mayor of the Greek town visited the Spanish town. When he saw the palatial mansion belonging to the Spanish mayor he wondered how he could afford such a house. The Spaniard said; “You see that bridge over there? The EU gave us a grant to build a four-lane bridge, but by building a single lane bridge with traffic lights at either end this house could be built”.

The following year the Spaniard visited the Greek town. He was simply amazed at the Greek Mayor’s house, gold taps, marble floors, it was marvellous. When he asked how this could be afforded the Greek said; “You see that bridge over there?”

The Spaniard replied; “No.”

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to explain how this relates to Connecticut's current budget situation.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The humblest thing that V.I. Arnold ever said

This attempt to produce something useless ended with a failure.
- Arnold (1998) Higher dimensional continued fractions, Regular and Chaotic Dynamics (3) pp 10-17.

Arnold died last year at the age 0f 72.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Depends on your point of view

From Best of the Web Today:
Putting Everything in Perspective

"I want to cut his nuts out."--Jesse Jackson on Barack Obama, quoted by the Chicago Tribune, July 10, 2008

"The ultimate insult."--Jesse Jackson on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's pointing her finger at Barack Obama, quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 28, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

"What's he telling me?"

Monday, the New Zealand Herald reported that in a video taken at the Wellington Zoo,
Sofia Walker, 3, was dwarfed by Malik, a 7-year-old "stroppy" lion, as she pressed up against the glass that separated her from the enclosure.

The close encounter happened last Wednesday morning, just after Malik had been given his breakfast.

Sofia and Malik looked directly at each other before the lion angrily pawed at the glass - upset someone disturbed his meal - which seemed to surprise the young girl, but not scare her.

Sofia was called away from the glass by her mother, Sharon, but instead the girl stood her ground and asked: "What's he telling me?"

One of the zookeepers said that Sofia had a "lot of spunk." But her father doesn't think she wants to grow up to be a zookeeper herself. "She'd much rather be a fairy."

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Handy translation tool ...

... for your next Egyptian voyage. (This nice page is due to Chip Ahoy, which I strongly suspect is an assumed name.)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Quote of the day

Experts say that people need to try new challenges to keep their minds sharp. That's especially important in my case because I plan on living to 140, and I don't want to spend my last 60 years trying to find the TV remote.

- Scott Adams in The Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Americathon

Barack Obama is so eloquent.

Happy New Years, Tokelau!

The nation of Samoa, and the US dependency Tokelau, are now west of the International Date Line rather than east. This means that they are now the first to see the new year, instead of the last. According to theWashington Post:

The date line dance came 119 years after U.S. traders persuaded local Samoans to align their islands’ time with nearby U.S.-controlled American Samoa and the U.S. to assist their trading with California.

But the time zone put Samoa and Tokelau nearly a full day behind neighboring Australia and New Zealand, which are increasingly important trading partners.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kim Jong-il dead at 69



I doubt that Santa was bringing him anything nice.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Quote of the day

All other things being equal, we would not expect a 2% resurrection rate.
- Bill Ricker, commenting on the breast cancer survival curves produced by Edward Tufte.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The end of days



If the above image doesn't convince you that the apocalypse is just around the corner, try looking at this. Grim times. (And if this isn't a sign of the antichrist, then I'm not sure what would be. H/t Overlawyered.com)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Aren't kids cute?

The stop of defendant’s car was with reasonable suspicion that it was involved in a bank robbery. After the stop, defendant’s three year old daugther was found in the car, and she was asked where they were coming from, and she pointed toward the bank. Asked if they were at the bank, she said yes. The registration of the car was expired, and its impoundment was valid. United States v. Brumfield, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137834 (N.D. Ga. February 17, 2011).

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Um, Congratulations

It seems that Greg Skidmore and two of his colleagues won a $254,000,000 lottery jackpot.

I was Greg's mathematics professor in college. Since the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math, I have mixed feelings: my position is roughly the same as that of a Sunday School teacher who finds out that one of his former pupils has won critical acclaim in the pornographic film industry.

Still, he was one of my favorite students, hardworking and honest. So I guess I'm happy about the whole thing.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

U.S. National Debt reaches 100% of GDP

Did anyone throw a party?

Bohemian Rhapsody ...

... performed by Queen:



... and by the Muppets:



... just in case you've stumbled on my blog and don't want to think about Wall Street or Washington.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Open Letter to Herman Cain

Dude, I love you and I hope to vote for you. But unless you are John the Baptist or Arthur son of Uther Pendragon, musing about your conception isn't uber-cool. Maybe I'll feel differently when I'm 45, though.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Historic picture from East Norwalk: 1961-2011


Here's a picture that Bob Shriever took this afternoon of Karen Cooke and Floyd Powers at the Community Advent Christian Church in East Norwalk. Karen is the current choir director, and Floyd directed the choir in 1961.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Look for the union label,

... when buying a coat, dress, or blouse. Or T-shirt.

T-shirt war!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rivers after the Hurricane

Two days after hurricane Irene, the Norwalk and Silvermine rivers are still pretty high. Here's a picture of the Silvermine River, looking south from the James Street bridge:


Here's the Norwalk River, looking north from Merrit 7:


and here's the Norwalk River looking towards Glover St. and the old Perkin Elmer building:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Visiting the Supreme Court

A Russian translation of the booklet that tourists get when they visit the Supreme Court.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Oh, what a surprise

The two guys who hassled and assaulted (60-year old) law professor Ann Althouse on Friday turn out to be union rent-a-thugs. (There are videos on her blog.)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Fender-bender last week

The Daily Mail reports that there was a little fender-bender last week in Monte Carlo, at the Place du Casino. It seems that a woman driving a Bentley hit a Mercedes and then, obeying the cruel but firm law of conservation of momentum, went on to hit a Ferrari, a Porsche, and an Aston-Martin Rapide.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pearl Harbor, Shmerl Harbor

The TSA is trying to fire 36 Honolulu screeners because they allegedly neglected to screen certain flights properly for explosives, for several months in 2010.

20 of them have asked their union to appeal their termination. No word yet on what their defense will be; maybe their lawyers can make an ADA argument?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

"Please don't Taser the cow"

Everyone was kinda yelling, ‘Please don’t taser the cow, it’s only going to make it worse.'
Happened in Pelham, NH. 'nuff said. (H/t Simple Justice)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Worker's "rights" vs. citizens' rights

John Gage, president of the union that wants to represent TSA agents, complains that the Republicans are being mean to his workers.

Frankly, my heart completely fails to bleed for them.

Economics tutorials

Blood banks and cupcakes and fiat currency. Oh my.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Thursday, May 05, 2011

One of the great things about living in Norwalk

One of the great things about living in Norwalk is that you never have to leave notes on your windshield like this one:
Dear Officer,

I have temp plates because someone keeps stealing my front plate. NOT because I'm a drug dealer, but thanks for telling my little brother you suspect me of being one. Also, my FACTORY tints are legal and all 7 tickets you've written me for them have been dismissed. Please find another vehicle to harrass.

Thank you, Corrine.

P.S. If I were a drug dealer, I
could afford a garage!
A picture of the note is at Soignorant. I wonder if Corrine lives in Westport?

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Shuffling out of Buffalo

Per the Buffalo News: Buffalo police are apparently still looking for John Caesar,a 58-year-old man who escaped from custody last week:

Downtown police are looking for a man who is handcuffed to a chair.

The man escaped shortly after 4 p.m. today from the Central District station at Tupper and Main Streets.

A robbery suspect, he apparently fled out of a back door onto Washington Street, according to police radio transmissions.

Described as tall and muscular, he was dressed in black clothing and wearing a white hat.

Police think he still has the chair with him because it is missing from the station.

They handcuffed him to a chair? They should have handcuffed him to a toy poodle; then at least they could have found him by following the dog's yapping.

h/t Lowering the Bar, who shamelessly copied from Fail Blog.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ow.ly down this morning

Injustice Everywhere's links don't work this morning. In fact, no Ow.ly links are working this morning. The master DNS servers for .ly domains are located in ... Libya. Is this "Colonel" Gadhafi's idea of a subtle counterstroke? Strange world, strange world.

Update: Hootsuite.com has a profoundly uninformative service message on its website: "We'll be back in action shortly -- in the meantime go outside and flap your arms around, you may find that flying ain't very easy."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quote of the day

Chessplayers have been setting down rules ever since they discovered it was easier than following them.
- Andrew Soltis, Karl Marx Plays Chess

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thanks, guys

The first sentence of Lonely Planet's description of Medical Services for tourists in Cuba:
Cubans famously enjoy far better free health care than their far-wealthier US neighbors, and continue to set high standards for developing nations with excellent hospitals and doctors throughout the country.

The last sentence of Lonely Planet's description of Medical Services for tourists in Cuba:
The free health care in normal Cuban hospitals should only be used when there are no private clinics available.
Funny how the "far better" health care in these socialist paradises always seems to disappear when it's time to actually use it. Before the Berlin wall fell, we always heard that health care was free and better in communist eastern Europe, but the reality turned out to be much grimmer. Even two decades later Europe is burdened by two generations of bad environmental and health policies there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Three things that I really didn't want to know this morning

Three things that I really didn't want to know this morning ... but found out anyway.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A very Tennessee story


If he's guilty, Deputy John Edwards has to be the stupidest crook ever. He's accused of taking stealing stuff from his wife and giving them to his girlfriend, and stealing stuff from his girlfriend and giving them to his wife.

You may need to read the following sentence a few times to get the drift of this story. It seems that Officer Edward's wife was giving his girlfriend a tour of their house, and the girlfriend noticed that some of the his wife's things had previously been stolen from her (the girlfriend.) That's no doubt also when his wife realized that John had a girlfriend.

Deputy Edwards was arrested shortly thereafter for a "domestic incident" with his wife. He was later charged with theft of goods over $10,000.00 in value.

I wonder two things about this story. (1) If the allegations are true it is reasonable to assume that the wife attacked the husband when he got home. So why was the husband arrested for the "domestic incident"? And (2) why do alleged creeps like this get two girlfriends when nice guys like me are single? Deep waters, deep waters.

Mark Smith cartoons

William Jacobson likes Mark Smith's cartoons. He has good taste.

Oddly, Smith's political cartoons seem funnier than his non-political cartoons. Maybe that's a sign that we live in absurd times.

Monday, March 21, 2011

All the men are in Benghazi

An old woman, in her late 70s at least, I'm told, entered the bank to collect her 500 Libyan dollars ($410; £253) in state aid announced a couple of weeks ago.

There were two long queues - one for men and one for women. She stood in the men's queue.

The men urged her to move to the women's section. "Why?" she challenged.

A man told her: "Ya haja [a term of respect for an elderly woman] this line is for men, women is the other one".

She loudly replied: "No. All the men are in Benghazi."

The room is said to have been stunned into silence and she remained in her place until her turn came and she walked out with her money.

Friday, March 04, 2011

With friends like this ...

Ariel Melendez has a problem. Up until a few weeks ago he was a New Haven Assistant Police Chief, but then he resigned shortly after being accused of tampering with evidence, among other things.

One of the men questioned afterwards was his recent colleague Sgt. David Guliuzza. David sound like a very loyal guy, and he offered the police the following absolutely wonderful defense of his ex-boss:
Mr. Luna's cell phone was an Iphone and is a complicated piece of equipment. Sgt. Guliuzza believed that if someone did not own that type of phone, then you would not be able to operate it. A.C. Melendez has a Blackberry cell phone. Sgt. Guliuzza does not think that A.C. Melendez has the knowledge to work an Iphone, let alone erase data from it.

That's right, he believes his pal is innocent because committing a crime involves using an Apple product, and Apple products are too complicated for the accused to use.

(The whole police report is on Scribd.)

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Quote of the day

By the way, what is "hands-on, interdisciplinary study"? Do we get to fondle a sociologist?
- Wisconsin law Professor Ann Althouse, commenting on a speech by Erwin Chemerinksy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

University of Manitoba turning into a "diploma mill"?

Earlier this month Gabor Lukacs received two letters from University of Manitoba president David Barnard. One invited the assistant professor of mathematics to a dinner in acknowledgement of his teaching excellence award. The other informed him that he was being suspended without pay. (Macleans)
Prof. Lukacs' crime was to publicly dissent from Manitoba's awarding of a PhD to a mentally disabled Mathematics student who failed his comps twice and didn't finish his coursework. The Faculty Association is aghast, but the Graduate Student's Association supports the administration. Eighty-five mathematicians, including Michael Barr, wrote a letter supporting Prof. Lucacs.

There are more details here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar eclipse tonight

Remember to take a nap this evening so that you can see the lunar eclipse. And wear lotion: you don't want to get a nasty case of moonburn.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quote of the day

Perl - The only language that looks the same before and after RSA encryption. - Keith Bostic

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Money, what a concept

The great news is that, despite borrowing more money in two years than all of the previous presidents in history combined, Pres. Obama has actually produced a balanced budget.

The bad news is that it isn't ours.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

San Fransisco Giants

I'd always thought that "too much information" and "baseball" were incompatible ideas, but it turns out that I was tragically wrong.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reductio ad absurdum Rex

The Democrats' message, in short, is that the Democrats are really lousy at delivering a convincing message. Since nobody finds this message convincing, it has a certain surface plausibility.
- James Taranto, Best of the Web Today

Monday, October 18, 2010

Economics

Thomas (age: 8): Mommy, when Santa brings us presents, does anyone have to pay?
Mommy: Yes, dear.
Thomas: How does that work?
Daddy: He sends us a bill.
Thomas: So did you send Santa his money?
Mommy: No, not yet.
Thomas: Well, that can't go on forever.

Chicago

Emma (age four): Uncle Jeff, have you ever been to Chicago?
Jeff: Yes, I have.
Emma: Did you go to the American Girl store?
Jeff: No, I've never been there.
Emma: You went to Chicago but you didn't go to the American Girl store?
Jeff: Nope.
Emma: What stores did you go to?
Jeff: I don't think I've ever been to a store in Chicago.
Emma: You went to Chicago but didn't go to any stores?
Jeff: That's right.
Emma: I think that must have been a different town.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

One for you, and one for me

A headline in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal reads Democrats Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012.

That seems fair to me. The Democrats can concentrate on the pot vote, the Republicans concentrate on the human vote, and at the end of the day everyone's happy.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Speak up

Paul Caron notes that the IRS only answered 8% of 352,758 calls it got from deaf taxpayers last year.

Glenn Reynolds makes the predictable and scary corollary point: don't worry, government healthcare will be fine.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

To be thought a fool

Prof. Eugene Volokh describes why I don't blog very much.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Overheard in the men's room of an I-95 rest area

The southbound rest area off I-95 was full of college athletes of some sort tonight. I heard the following conversation in the men's room:
Athlete with camera: Hey, look at this great pic I took last night in Boston. I'm putting it on my Facebook page.

Athlete at urinal: We played in New York last night.

Athlete with camera: No, we're on our way to New York right now.

Athlete at urinal: Man, bars all look the same nowadays.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hartford vs. Bucharest

Lowering the Bar gives its take on the latest news from Romania:
Romanian lawmaker Alin Popoviciu is blaming fear for the failure of a bill he sponsored that would have imposed new regulations and taxes on witches and fortune tellers. He claimed that the legislation had failed because lawmakers were afraid they would be cursed if they passed it.

I'm sorry that Mr. Popoviciu wasn't able to pass his bill. Maybe he could send some of his country's witch lobbyists over here to curse a few members of the Connecticut General Assembly? I could send him a list if hexing works long-distance.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Yes, Ms. Althouse, this is too creepy

Gee, a girl sure plucked a lemon in
Being born so weak and feminine.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Google's animation today

Google's annoying unusual bouncing-balls animation caused some buzz this morning. In the Washington Post, it was suggested that it celebrates the 12th anniversary of Google's founding or the 15th anniversary of Javascript.

I wonder if it celebrates the Metropolis-Hastings algorithm/ Markov chain method? It looks like the location of each ball is being randomized and then bounces around its natural position. Towards the end, the x and y error (perturbation away from the natural position) of each ball would look like a fuzzy caterpillar if plotted against time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Redecorating ideas

... assuming you have a very big office of course.

Quote of the day

Does the Left really cherish the rights of Islam, or is theirs but a short-sighted alliance with the enemy of their enemies?

- Andrew Klavan

Monday, August 09, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Never say I-told-you-so

"US warnings on Megrahi release have come true" - headline of a story this morning on the (Scotland) Herald's web site about the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

True daughter of old time

On Pajamas Media, Frank Tipler asks:
According the Faculty Senate of the University of Virginia, “science,” and indeed “scholarship” in general, is no longer an attempt to establish truth by replicable experiment, or by looking at evidence that can be checked by anyone. “Truth” is now to be established by the decree of powerful authority, by “peer review.” Wasn’t the whole point of the Enlightenment to avoid exactly this?

You silly mathematician. Don't you know that whole point of the Enlightenment was to provide Merchant Ivory actors with an excuse to dress up in powdered wigs and frilly dresses? Or was that the Renaissance? I forget. Which one starred Helena Bonham Carter?

State Department releases Lockerbie letter

From the State Department's web site, via Powerline:
August 12, 2009

Rt Hon Alex Salmond, MSP
First Minister for Scotland
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1 SP

Dear First Minister:

I have enclosed a copy of a communication from my government that was passed to the Scottish Ministry of Justice on August 9. I am aware that competence for the decision on the matter discussed lies with the Scottish Minister of Justice, but given the gravity of this matter, I thought it important that you receive directly and be aware of the views of my government as your authorities approach a decision.

I am at your disposal to discuss this matter further.

Sincerely,

Richard LeBaron
Chargé d'Affaires

Enclosure: as stated

BEGIN TEXT OF ENCLOSURE:

-- We greatly appreciate the Scottish Government's continued willingness to solicit the views of the United States and the families of its victims with respect to a decision on Megrahi's transfer. This issue is of great importance to the United States.

-- We understand that Scottish law permits the Scottish Government to release individuals in Scottish custody on license if there are compassionate grounds justifying the release, and that as a matter of practice such release is not granted unless the prisoner has a life expectancy of less than three months. We also understand that the Scottish judiciary has the ability to grant bail, and in the case of Megrahi the judiciary has indicated that it is prepared to entertain a renewed bail application on compassionate grounds if Megrahi's prognosis worsens and becomes more certain.

-- The United States respects that decisions concerning compassionate release and bail are reserved to Scottish authorities and are to be made in accordance with Scottish law and policy.

-- The United States is not prepared to support Megrahi's release on compassionate release or bail. We understand that Scottish authorities are ensuring that Megrahi receives quality medical treatment, including palliative care, while incarcerated. The United States maintains its view that in light of the scope of Megrahi's crime, its heinous nature, and its continued and devastating impact on the victims and their families, it would be most appropriate for Megrahi to remain imprisoned for the entirety of his sentence. This was the understanding and expectation at the time arrangements were made for his trial in Scottish Court in the Netherlands, were he or his confederate to be convicted and their appeals upheld.

-- Nevertheless, if Scottish authorities come to the conclusion that Megrahi must be released from Scottish custody, the U.S. position is that conditional release on compassionate grounds would be a far preferable alternative to prisoner transfer, which we strongly oppose.

-- If a decision were made by Scotland to grant conditional release, two conditions would be very important to the United States and would partially mitigate the concerns of the American victims' families. First, any such release should only come after the results of independent and comprehensive medical exams clearly establishing that Megrahi's life expectancy is less than three months. The results of these exams should be made available to the United States and the families of the victims of Pan Am 103. The justification of releasing Megrahi on compassionate grounds would be more severely undercut the longer he is free before his actual death.

-- Second, the United States would strongly oppose any release that would permit Megrahi to travel outside of Scotland. We believe that the welcoming reception that Megrahi might receive if he is permitted to travel abroad would be extremely inappropriate given Megrahi's conviction for a heinous crime that continues to have a deep and profound impact on so many. As such, compassionate release or bail should be conditioned on Megrahi remaining in Scotland.

-- Again, while we are not able to endorse the early release of Megrahi under any scenario, we believe that granting compassionate release or bail under the conditions described (i.e. release with a life expectancy or less than three months and with Megrahi remaining in Scotland under supervision) would mitigate a number of the strong concerns that we have expressed with respect to Megrahi’s release.

-- We appreciate the manner in which the Scottish Government has handled this difficult situation. We recognize that the prisoner transfer decision is one that the Scottish Government did not invite, but now must take. We hope that the Scottish Government would consider every available alternative before considering the granting of Megrahi's prisoner transfer application.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Quote of the day

(pro se defendant cross-examining his accuser)

DEFENDANT: You sell drugs out of your house, don’t you?

WITNESS: No.

DEFENDANT: I know that’s a damn lie. I’ve bought weed and crack there myself.


- Overheard in Court, via Legal Antics.

Quote of the day

Kill them all, starting with the math teacher!
- Professor Farnsworth, Futurama (Season 6, Episode 5.)


FuturamaThursdays 10pm / 9c
Doomsday Machine
www.comedycentral.com
Futurama New EpisodesFuturama New EpisodesIt's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quote of the day

Maintenance is a dirty word around a DVB sign.
- Jackie Lightfield, yourct.com

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Every compliance manager's nightmare

A British oil broker spent $520,000,000 of his clients' money while in a drunken haze. The drunken binge happened last June. Apparently, this caused world oil prices to jump $1.50 a barrel last summer. His employers' procedures failed to stop or even notice the half-billion dollar trades made late at night from his laptop.

Thank goodness things like this don't happen with medical devices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Spokeswoman: "it was something we decided to address and make the edit"

New Haven's high school grads are getting their diplomas Thursday.
Superintendent of Schools Reginald Mayo confirmed through a spokeswoman that this year’s diplomas were printed without the phrase “in the year of our Lord.”

“That was a complaint that came in from a parent last year and it was something we decided to address and make the edit,” said schools spokeswoman Michelle Wade.
(Abbe Smith in the New Haven Register.)


Monday, June 21, 2010

Erk

I've been sick all day, and learning about what women find attractive in men hasn't helped my mood much.

Magnificent quote of the day

.. the Church by the gang of liberticides and libertines that misrules this country ...

- Fabio Paolo Barbieri

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Blog post headline of the day

IDF Boards Another Flotilla Ship, Crew Amazingly Cooperative This Time

- Doug Powers

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quote of the day

Your views and mine are currently very much the same on the euro. . . . What most troubles me as it does you is that members of the euro have thrown away the key. Once the euro physically replaces the separate currencies, how in the world do you get out? It’s a major crisis. As a result, I would strongly agree with your view that the euro should be abandoned before January 1, 2002. At the same time, the odds are very great that it will not be abandoned. The defects of the euro will take some time to show up; nothing happens very rapidly in this area. There are fewer than three years to go. Even if difficulties deriving from the euro occur in those three years, the political system is unlikely to react quickly enough to end the euro. As a result, I think it would be very desirable for some systematic thought to be given to devising some way to get out of the straitjacket of the euro after 2002. The least Italy should do is to keep intact the plates which are used to produce lira.

-Milton Friedman, from a letter to Antonio Martino, in 1999 (!). Quoted by Christoper Fountain.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Quote of the day

Dr. Rekers, if you’re listening, I want to tell you two things: (1) I am, among other things, prideful, wrathful, slothful, and gluttonous, and (2) I’ve always wanted to take a three-week trip to Australia.
- Ken at Popehat (this post is NSFW)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Health care and the 27th amendment

Congressmen seem to be surprised that a provision of the kazillion-page health bill they voted for after a few hours debate ends their taxpayer-financed health plan. The Democrats might understandably want to get back their health benefits by quietly amending the bill after the election, or by bullying some poor bureaucrat into interpreting away that part of the law.

But the twenty-seventh amendment to the Constitution says that
No law varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives shall take effect until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.
So unless the twenty-seventh amendment means something very different than its plain text (*), it seems to me that Congress can't get fed to the wolves like the rest of us until after the 2010 Congressional election, and they can't vote to save their coverage unless they opt themselves out before the election.

(*) this phrase may a sure sign that I have scientific mind and not a legal mind. Hallelujah!

Friday, April 09, 2010

James Joyce lives on at the Connecticut Department of Transportation

Driving to Simsbury this morning, I realized that I forgot my laptop and had to go back. By the time I got on I-91 it was pouring so heavily that it was tough to see the car in front of me. Passing under a digital information sign, I noticed that there was a traffic message. I took my eyes off the road for a moment to try to read it through the rain.

It read:
Distracted driving kills.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Selling stolen property on EBay

Klaus, whose nom-de-eBay is "game_seller88", is selling a ring that his uncle plundered from Dachau. (He bills it as an "ORIGNIAL JEWISH Holocaust RING".) The Simon Wiesenthal Center reported this transaction to eBay 3 days ago; but they haven't canceled the transaction yet.

If the Simon Wiesenthal Center after three days can't get eBay to cancel an auction of property stolen during the most thoroughly documented crime in the history of mankind, then what chance does an ordinary person have of recovering their stolen I-Pods and cell phones when they are auctioned on eBay?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quote of the day

Yes, I'm a man possessed by many demons. Polite demons that would open a door for a lady carrying too many parcels: but demons nonetheless.
- Kevin McDonald, Kids in the Hall, Season 2 Episode 2.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

How many communists does it take to row a boat?

Luo Yuan, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences, gave an interview with Reuters (via Best of the Web):
"Just like two people rowing a boat, if the United States first throws the strokes into chaos, then so must we."
(Note to self: never, ever row a boat with this guy.)

Friday, February 05, 2010

Dealing with our government

February 3, 2010

Submitter

United States Patent and Trademark Office
Notice of Document Faxed Upside Down

Your request to record a document in the United States Patent and Trademark Office was received via electronic fax on XXXX.

The faxed submission was received upside down. We are unable to continue processing these images.

Please resubmit your document.

If you have any questions, you may contact our customer service center at XXXX.

Office of Public Records
Assignment Division

Source: Eric Sherman at Bnet.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Mel Gibson

On the New York Times' website, Neil Genzlinger writes about Mel Gibson's newest film. His little blurb begins
Despite the occasional foray into biblical interpretation or drunken anti-Semitic outburst, Mel Gibson has always been about fighting injustice, and his latest film, "Edge of Darkness," which opens on Friday, is no exception.

I presume that the "
foray into biblical interpretation" is Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ. Thus it seems that the New York Times is a newspaper that thinks that executing convicted criminals in an injustice, but that the Crucifixion wasn't.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Groundhog day?

I just saw a school pass pass another school bus with its lights flashing. Does that mean 6 more weeks of winter?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

War on Christmas vs. the war on H1N1

Taunton, Massachusetts's town website announces that, in order to combat hospital infections, children under the age of 18 aren't allowed to visit people at Morton Hospital anymore. No exceptions, "including siblings and children of patients."

So if your mom is dying and you want to see her one last time before Christmas then tough luck, kid. And if that bothers you, leave. Taunton is no place for cry-babies.

War on Christmas gets nastier

In Taunton Massachusetts, some second-grade children were drawing holiday pictures. One little boy drew a picture of Jesus on the cross. His father says that this was probably the picture:

It seems that his principal asked "why did you use x's for his eyes?" The little boy replied "because he's dead." So naturally the principal consulted with the school psychiatrist and refused to let the 8-year old return to school unless his family got a letter from a psychiatrist certifying that he wasn't a threat to the school.

The rest of the story is predictable. The kid's dad was angry, the school superintendent wrote a smarmy response, and the traumatized kid was transfered to a new school (which is probably traumatic in itself for most 8-year-olds.)

Want to fight back for this little boy? Tell someone "Merry Christmas" today, and mean it.

War on Christmas gets weirder

The War on Christmas is getting weirder: the Obama White House has moved the White House creche to a less prominent spot, to try to make Christmas "more inclusive".

Actually, according to the New York Times they were going to get rid of the creche altogether, but then decided that that was too provocative, and then finally changed their mind again and moved it into a dark corner. I would be remiss if I failed to point out that this is a repeat in miniature of the President's Afghanistan policies over the last year. Let's hope that bin Laden is less competent at defending himself than the baby Jesus.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quote of the day

All around me people cough. I particularly object to bronchitis as a substitute for incidental music.
- Alexander Wolcott, Mr. W's Little Game

Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the day

Before nominating her for U.S. Attorney General for Montana, Senator Max Baucus gave the staffer he was bonking a $14,000 raise and took her along with him on a taxpayer-paid junket to Asia. At least Tiger Woods pays his prostitutes from his own pocket.
- Christopher Fountain, For What It's Worth

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Help wanted in Santa Cruz

A job ad: (via Minding the Campus)

The University Library of the University of California, Santa Cruz, seeks an enterprising, creative, and service-oriented archivist to join the staff of Special Collections & Archives (SC&A) as Archivist for the Grateful Dead Archive. This is a potential career status position. The Archivist will be part of a dynamic, collegial, and highly motivated department dedicated to building, preserving, promoting, and providing maximum access both physically and virtually to one of the Library's most exciting and unique collections, The Grateful Dead Archive. Appointment Range: Associate Librarian III - Librarian I, with an approximate salary range of $52,860 - $68,892, commensurate with qualifications and experience.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Things to be afraid of (3)

Your government is out to help you.

When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said.

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.”
(from Metro International.)

Things to be afraid of (2)



Thursday, November 19, 2009

God bless Russia

According to Interfax (via Religion Clause), the Russian Communist party wants to change the Russian national anthem. Its second verse refers to Russia as "Our native land kept safe by God" (Хранимая Богом родная земля.)

The communists want to change this to "Our native land kept safe by ourselves". Of course, when the communists ruled Russia their unspoken motto was "Everything in this land belongs to us".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God bless America

According to the Kansas City Star, a 21-year old Milwaukee college student was walking home

when he was pulled into an alley and told to lay face down with a gun to his neck. Four men took his wallet, $16, keys and his cell phone.

But the reservist said that when one of the men saw an Army ID in the wallet, he told the others to return the items. He also apologized and thanked the reservist for serving.

The reservist said one robber gave him a quick fist bump before walking away.

The victim asked not to be identified because the robbers still have his keys.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fort Hood shooter attended mosque with 9/11 hijackers

Nidal Hasan, the Army major who murdered at least 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, attended mosque with three of the 9/11 hijackers.

Some people, who clearly have never served in the military, are asking why Major Hasan was allowed to be in the Army. (The government even paid for his medical school.) After all, he openly proclaimed his sympathy for other Islamic terrorists and he was even disciplined for trying to convert his patients to Islam. These are probably the same people who think that Heller's Catch-22 was an over-the-wall satire instead of a piercing social commentary.

But Michelle Malkin asks the next obvious question: "Why is it that we have to read British papers to get the unvarnished truths about the Ft. Hood Muslim mass murderer?"

There'll always be an England

The reigning Miss England, Rachel Christie, has been de-crowned. (I almost typed "de-missed", but stopped myself just in time.) It seems that she had gotten into a bar fight and punched Miss Manchester in the face several times.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Parents not politicians" storms Norwalk Board of Ed

Bwaha-ha-ha-ha fools now you have to serve on the Board of Education My congratulations to Steve Colarossi, Artie Kassimis, Erin McNeil Halsey and Sue Haynie for their heroic election to the Norwalk Board of Education. Yeah, team!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Quote of the day

If a beginning graduate student sought my advice about, say, studying Africa I would first ask about his or her politics. If they were even slightly "conservative," I'd suggest switching fields, perhaps taking up mathematical modeling since PC faculty hate that stuff and can't read it anyhow.
- Robert Weissberg, "Rescuing the University"

Sunday, November 01, 2009

First they came for Rupert Murdoch ...

... and then they came for edmunds.com. (Note to President Obama: we like you. You're our chief executive. "Dignity of the office" isn't just a campaign catchphrase. It's a noble goal to live for when you hold a public trust.)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween creepiness

Here's the official word from the Democratic Party about what sort of place they want America to be:
One of the 20 finalists in health care video contest run by Barack Obama’s campaign arm features a mural of an America flag splattered with health care graffiti until it’s covered completely by black paint.

In the video – which is accompanied by the sound of a heart monitor pumping and then flat-lining – words such as “pre-existing conditions,” “homeless” and “death panel” ultimately obliterate the flag, which reappears on screen seconds later with the words “Health Will Bring Our Country Back to Life” on the blue field where the 50 stars usually are.

The finalists were chosen by a panel of Democratic National Committee “employee judges.”

It's not surprising that some of the Democratic filmmakers who lost out to this hymn of hate don't think choosing it was a good idea.
“They should never pick that,” said the contestant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It makes the Democrats look really, really bad.”

Gee, doesn't the fact that a committed Democratic activist only feels comfortable dissenting under condition of anonymity show the Democrats in an even worse light?

On the scale of totalitarian creepiness, I find this video scarier than this one, but not nearly as creepy as this one. Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Love laughs at locksmiths

From The Hill, via Volokh:
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) locked Republicans out of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee room to keep them from meeting when Democrats aren’t present.

Towns’ action came after repeated public ridicule from the leading Republican on the committee, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), over Towns’s failure to launch an investigation into Countrywide Mortgage’s reported sweetheart deals to VIPs.

For months Towns has refused Republican requests to subpoena records in the case. Last Thursday Committee Republicans, led by Issa, were poised to force an open vote on the subpoenas at a Committee mark-up meeting. The mark-up was abruptly canceled. Only Republicans showed up while Democrats chairs remained empty.

The Democrats kept those pesky Republicans from holding hearings by the simple expedient of locking the committee room's door. My favorite quote from the story:
Towns’s office said in a statement the locks were changed on Republicans "because they don't know how to behave."

I'd like to use this as an example of the Democratic party turning our country into a kleptocracy, but really this illustrates something even worse: there are too many lawyers in Congress. If only one of the committee members was a locksmith instead of a lawyer, we'd be halfway to investigating Countrywide's lending practices by now!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Henry Kissinger and Yassar Arafat, eat your hearts out

The president is to be awarded the Nobel prize. Details are here.

Oops, I meant to say that the details are here. I can't imagine what I was thinking.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Salvador Polanksi

Writing about the reaction to Roman Polanksi's extradition, Jim Lindgren quotes George Orwell's discussion of Salvador Dali's autobiography. I hope I'll have time to read Orwell's essay tonight.

James Thurber wrote a wonderful autobiographical review of Dali's autobiography. It had the memorable line:

Let me be the first to admit that the naked truth about me is to the naked truth about Salvador Dali as an old ukulele in the attic is to a piano in a tree, and I mean a piano with breasts.

I read that line in a paperback collection hidden behind a textbook during French class in the seventh grade. The teacher was very annoyed at my giggling.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today is the 400th anniversary of Gallileo's telescope

Sonnet -- To Science
  by Edgar Allan Poe
Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art! 
  Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes. 
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart, 
  Vulture, whose wings are dull realities? 
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise? 
  Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering 
To seek for treasure in the jeweled skies, 
  Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing? 
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car? 
  And driven the Hamadryad from the wood 
To seek a shelter in some happier star? 
  Has thou not torn the Naiad from her flood, 
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me 
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A very Colorado story


According to the Colorado Daily, Justin Chentnik
a sous chef at a retirement home, says he was completely naked in bed about 4 a.m. Friday when Skip, the mini goldendoodle he was watching for friends, started barking up a storm. His friend and roommate, Laura Nelson, swore someone was in the house, but he told her to go back to bed.

Miss Nelson, who I think we can safely say is a force to be reckoned with, threw a glass of water in Justin's face and told him to go out and investigate the noise. Justin, still naked, went outside and saw someone attempting to steal Miss Nelson's car. Justin seemed to be less afraid of tackling a car thief in the buff than reporting failure to his roommate: he jumped into the passenger side of the moving car and wrestled the thief to the ground.

In the struggle, the thief hit Justin with a bottle of Louis Jadot Pinot Noir that he happened to be holding, but Justin managed to subdue him in the end. (I should pause and note that the thief, confronted by a naked man jumping into a moving car and wrestling him to the ground, had the presence of mind to grab a bottle of cheap wine as he was being dragged from the car. Could a fondness for alcohol explain why he took up a life of crime?)

The police arrived to find Justin still straddling the car thief's chest. Skip, the mini snickerdoodle, brought Justin his underwear so that the police didn't have to get a statement from a naked witness. The Daily's reporter, regretably, didn't follow up on this angle of the story. Is Skip trained to fetch Justin's underwear? Is this a common chore in their household? For that matter, why didn't Laura Nelson bring Justin's underwear out? It seems that, having given the dog Skip some underwear and instructing Skip to bring it to Justin, she had full confidence that her instructions would be carried out and saw no need to go herself. I suppose this gives us yet another brief insight into her masterful and enigmatic personality.