Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Klavan Explains; You Laugh and Cry...

Sweet Moment for Steve McIntyre...

If you've been following the debates on the science behind global warming, you already know who Steve McIntyre is – the proprietor of the Climate Audit web site and quiet, diligent checker of the climate scientists' work, the gadfly who is always insisting on replicable results from honest and accurate data.  Mention his name in the presence of Michael “hockey stick” Mann, and you'll get an earful of vitriol and a face full of spittle.

A recent Freedom of Information Act request has revealed emails and other evidence that Steve McIntyre's actions had an actual impact.  Several scientists who contributed to the infamous “hockey stick” report agreed with McIntyre's criticism – much to Michael Mann's very vocal chagrin.  In the end, their inability to reconstruct the result with honest and accurate data caused a key paper to be withdrawn.

The gears of science grind more slowly than I had expected after the original ClimateGate revelations several years ago.  But they are grinding.  Here we have an example of traditional, peer-reviewed publication actually working: a paper by the warmists was forced to be withdrawn, and Steve McIntyre's criticism was the proximate cause of its withdrawal.  The results criticized by McIntyre are not some trivial sideshow – they are the main act in the hockey stick result that has led to so much wackiness in the funding and policy decisions in its wake.

Congratulations, Mr. McIntyre.  Let's hope this first instance of gnashing gears leads to many more...

Wednesday Morning Palate Cleanser...

Appropos of nothing at all; just ran across it...

Curiosity: Martian Rocks, Up Close and Personal...

If you're like me, following the progress of our robotic explorers over the years, then you must surely share my amazement at the imagery pouring out of the Curiosity rover mission on Mars.  The photo at right (as usual, click to enlarge) is a fine example.  Yes, it's just a rock.  But (a) it's a rock in glorious, high-resolution color, and (b) it's just one of thousands of such images already returned from Curiosity.

And of course, the imagery is just the first bit that gets our attention – vision being an important human sense.  The other science instruments are no less spectacular.  For example, below is a graphic showing the first results from the X-ray diffraction instrument (part of the Chemical & Minerology package) on board Curiosity.  If you know what you're doing (which I most certainly do not!), you can read this result to determine what minerals are in the sample you're analyzing.  This instrument, in its normal form on Earth, is many times larger, heavier, and more power-hungry than the astounding miniaturized version now operating on Mars.

One of the arguments proponents of manned space flight use is that by putting a human “on the ground” in places like Mars, much more science work can get done than is possible with robotic explorers.  This argument, in my opinion, had a reasonable amount of merit back in the '60s and '70s.  Technology had not yet advanced to the point that multiple sophisticated instruments and high-resolution cameras could be reliably flown to distant planets.  That started to change in the '80s, and has continued advancing to the point we're at today.  With a payload that is a tiny fraction of what it would take (both in weight and in cost) to support a single human on Mars for a couple of years (not to mention returning him or her), the Curiosity mission has put an array of very sophisticated instrumentation on Mars.  The capabilities of this instrument array greatly exceed what any human geologist could bring to bear.

Maybe someday the federal government will figure this out, and transform NASA into an agency dedicated to robotic exploration of the Solar System.

I must be dreaming.  I just posited a government agency pursuing a logical path...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mt. Stupid...

A beautiful infographic at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:


Infographic: Congressional Control History...

xkcd has a spectacular infographic showing the history of the House and Senate on a vertical timeline, and all the signficant changes that occurred over time.  It's a beautifully compressed view of the Legislative branch's history.  Full size graphic here.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Holy Frankenstorm, Batman!

The NOAA released this high-resolution photo earlier today:


Nature of Code...

Daniel Shiffman's book The Nature of Code is up on the web, and free...

Christmas Lights...

Via my lovely bride:
Don't you love Christmas lights?

They remind you of the people who voted for Obama. They all hang together; half of them don't work, and the ones that do, aren't all that bright.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Benghazi...


Bumped for Update the Second:

Commenter Anonymous forwarded this video, thinking it might be the one I couldn't find.  It's not, but it's certainly of the same ilk:


Bumped for Update:


Mark Steyn weighs in on this topic, and you really don't want to miss it...

Original post:

It just keeps on getting worse.  Yesterday we found out that:
  • as the Benghazi attacks were underway, our Ambassador and his staff repeatedly asked for military assistance – which was denied
  • we had the right kind of military assistance within range of Benghazi
  • we apparently had a Special Forces Spectre (AC-130 gunship) overhead (this is inferred from the fact that one of the guys on the ground was “painting” a target with a target designator, something one would do only in the expectation of support from a gunship)
Now this morning I read these three things:
This leaves me very suspicious of the very worst: that we lost four good men because someone up the chain of command decided not to support them.  Who could that someone be?

CIA?  Petraeus makes it abundantly clear that it wasn't the CIA, and I believe he's an honorable man (though someone could, presumably, be lying to him).

Pentagon?  Panetta's “no information” claim seems laughable, based on what we've been told by other sources.  It's the kind of thing you'd say to cover up the real reason.  If some person under his command made the decision not to supply military aid, that person would have been fingered by Panetta and Obama weeks ago, to cover their own butt.  If Panetta made that decision himself, Obama would have thrown him under the bus.  That leaves one alternative: Panetta is covering for Obama – and damn it, that's plausible.

White House?  Imagine being in the White House on 9/11, as the Benghazi attack was unfolding.  Obama was in Washington that day, and so presumably able to easily communicate with his staff.  The calls and emails from Benghazi, asking for military assistance, come in.  What does the staff do?  Does nobody notice?  Does a staff member decide not to inform the President?  Does a staff member respond directly, denying the request?  Or does a staff member forward the requests to Obama, who either doesn't respond or who denies the request?  Those are all the possibilities I can think of, and every one of them is completely unacceptable for a Commander-in-Chief and his staff.  Their reaction (or lack thereof) killed four Americans.  They must be brought to account.

You'll note that several of those links go to Fox News, which is the only mainstream media outlet working this story.  Of course, if something like this had occurred during President Bush's administration (or that of any other non-Progressive President), the mainstream media would be all over it.  There would be giant headlines and “Breaking News Alerts!” every time another piece of the story emerged.  Dozens of reporters would be working just as hard as they possibly could, diligently tracking down every lead.  But this is a Progressive administration, and the mainstream media studiously ignores every sour note – even on a story like this, involving downright criminal (perhaps even treasonous) behavior on the part of senior administration officials.  Most of the media are co-conspirators in the Progressive efforts to tear up our Constitution and “evolve” into a Progressive, socialist state modeled after Europe.

Of course, even worse is that most Americans don't care enough about this to even inform themselves.  Even the carefully edited sound bytes from the mainstream media are heard by relatively few Americans.  The other day I saw a video of an on-the-street survey of a couple dozen randomly-selected people, each asked just one question: “What can you tell me about Benghazi?”  I can't find it now, dang it.  From memory, just one person answered in a way that made it clear they knew Benghazi was in Libya, that Americans had been killed there, and that there was controversy over the events there.  Several people thought “Benghazi” was a musician; one even rhapsodized about the glories of his lyrics.  Two or three others knew it was a place (one thought it was a country; another a city in Turkey).  Most had never heard of it.  Just one person in a couple dozen had a clue –  roughly 4%.  Ay yi yi...

Remember These Folks...

...when you vote on November 6.

Secure Java Coding...

I just ran across an excellent resource for secure coding practices in Java.  For example, it contains very detailed examples for how to deal with overflow/underflow on integer operations – something that often introduces insidious bugs in Java programs...

A Bump in the Road...

Ex-Special Forces folks and their OPSEC PAC are airing another anti-Obama ad:

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Ouch!

They Kind of Blame Us...

...as well they should:

Bubbles...

This morning I read a post on marco.org (a blog by Marco Arment, the founder of Instapaper) about a Microsoft store on the day of the Surface launch (yesterday).  The post was mildly interesting for its depiction of the difference between adjacent Microsoft and Apple stores in a mall.  But one passage really jumped out at me, for reasons that had nothing to do with the ostensible subject of the post (emphasis mine):

I broke character slightly. “I don’t know, I saw the Retina iPad upstairs and I can’t see the pixels at all on it. On here, I can see the pixels clearly.”

“No you can’t. Where can you see the individual pixels?”

“Right there. See, the left stroke on that capital ‘D’ has one solid pixel on the left and a half-shaded pixel on the right.”

He scaled the icon up to “zoom in”, which, of course, changes what the physical pixels display. “I can’t see any pixels!”

I gave up. It was like arguing with a Tea Partier. But I figured, now that I had broken character a little, I’d risk a bit more. “Did you apply to work at the Apple Store upstairs first, or did you always want to work here?”
Like arguing with a Tea Partier?

Think about that.  Arment describes his little debate with the Microsoft Store employee, who displayed his technical ignorance and his profound bias toward Microsoft.  Arguing with someone like that is clearly futile; the only way to win would be to re-educate the lad.  Then Arment says that's like arguing with someone in the Tea Party – clearly implying that such people were ignorant and biased.  Further, he makes that statement in a way that assumes his readers will understand that Tea Partiers are ignorant and biased.

This is precisely the kind of thing I hear repeatedly on NPR and read on progressive political blogs (I torture myself so you don't have to!).  It's a fascinating glimpse of the walls of the “bubble” these folks live in.  Arment, and millions more like him, have completely dismissed the Tea Party as a collection of ignorant and biased fools.  They don't even hear the issues the Tea Party raises; they aren't worthy of their attention.

I find this very sad, personally.  I can't see a way for a democracy to stay healthy when most of its (voting) citizens are willfully ignorant.  I say “willfully” because people who live in a political bubble (whether conservative, progressive, or libertarian) are choosing not to engage with the ideas and issues raised by those outside their bubble.  Instead, they live the righteous life of a bubble-denizen, with all of their friends heartily approving of their bubble-ness.  It's so much easier that way – one doesn't have to actually think, as the bubble already knows the answer.

What's the cure?  I'm not sure there is one...

Antique Sounds Recovered...

Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have recovered the sound from the oldest playable American recording – by Thomas Alva Edison in 1878.  The recording was made on an entirely mechanical phonograph that worked by pressing a needle into soft tin foil.

The way that the sound was recovered is interesting: the scientists didn't recreate the player.  Instead, they photographed the antique foil with a high resolution, 3D camera – and software analyzed the needle's indentations to recreate the sound.  No device ever even touched the foil.  I'm sure Edison would have been delighted by this!

Here's what the recovered recording sounds like.  Though it's very scratchy, you can hear a cornet playing and a man reciting portions of a couple nursery rhymes (Mary Had a Little Lamb and Old Mother Hubbard)...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rongorongo, et al...

Rongorongo?  What's that?

It's an ancient system of writing, and it's one of the few that have not been deciphered.  Modern science has done an amazing job of figuring out the meaning of ancient writings with no living readers, but some still remain a mystery...

It's Popcorn Time!

I don't actually like popcorn, but I just might take up the habit as I watch this one unfold.  Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann has gone where nobody thought he was actually stupid enough to go: he's filed a slander and defamation lawsuit against CEI and Mark Steyn.  Anthony Watts, we can be sure, will follow this diligently, with his own (very large) bag of popcornMegan McArdle and Jonathan Adler have some thoughts as well.

Just like everyone else, I can scarcely wait until the discovery begins...

Who Is This Supposed To Appeal To?

Watch this, a new Obama ad:


It's hard to imagine the demographic that would consider that an effective appeal to vote for Obama.

Matt Welch (at Reason) gets my quote of the day with his reaction:
Twelve more days, people. Twelve. More. Days.
Exactly, Matt.  By the way, the headline on his post is also pure gold: “Lie Back and Think of Mother England, America...”

Joshua Keating (at Foreign Policy) notes that Obama's new ad looks like a direct ripoff of an ad for Vladimir Putin in his last election campaign.  Lovely. 

You just can't make this stuff up...

Like Shaking Hands with a Dead Fish...

This isn't pretty.  Charles Woods is the father of Tyrone Woods, an ex-SEAL who was one of the four Americans killed on 9/11 in Benghazi, Libya.  Just a few days later, Charles Woods attended a memorial ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base.  There he met Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Biden.  Here's some of what Mr. Woods (during an interview with Glenn Beck) had to say about those meetings:
Vice President Biden, as he has become known to do, reportedly made a wildly inappropriate comment to the father who had just lost his hero son.

Woods said Biden came over to his family and asked in a “loud and boisterous” voice, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?”

“Are these the words of someone who is sorry?” said Woods.

The grieving father also described his brief encounter with President Obama during the ceremony for the Libya victims.

“When he finally came over to where we were, I could tell that he was rather conflicted, a person who was not at peace with himself,” Woods said. “Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a dead fish. His face was pointed towards me but he would not look me in the eye, his eyes were over my shoulder.”

“I could tell that he was not sorry,” he added. “He had no remorse.”

...

Hillary Clinton’s comments to Woods raise even more questions about the White House’s official story on the Benghazi attack, which has already been extremely inconsistent.

After apologizing for his loss, Woods said Clinton told him that the U.S. would “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted.”
More here and here.

George W. Bush had many faults, but this kind of disrespectful and inappropriate display was not amongst them...

Remarkable...

Here's a piece of art by DiegoKoi, a picture of model Federica Ferragine – but it's not a photograph.  This picture was created by pencil, on paper.  Follow the links on this page to see the work in progress.

Amazing.  This is the most realistic piece of art I have ever seen...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dude!

Via my lovely bride:


The Plane, the Plane!

Via my lovely bride:


Good-Looking Fellow...

Who's this good-looking fellow?  Go see, with much more...

Deadbeat...

American Hero, 2012...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Office is More Threatening than I'd Thought!

Here's a primer on how to weaponize ordinary office supplies.  Yikes!

Some Advice...

...from Abe Lincoln.

Steyn on Mann...

Mark Steyn takes Michael Mann to the woodshed, both for Mann's ludicrous lawsuit and for his absolutely absurd claim to have “won” the Nobel Peace Prize (as though that was desirable!)...

Just When an Old Storage Guy Thinks Tape Has Finally Died...

...like some sort of digital zombie, it rears it's bloody head again...

You're Even Worse!

Nigel Farage lays into the EU council again. We need some politicos like this. At the very worst, he's extremely entertaining and utterly refreshing. At best, he's a shining beacon of common sense...

You Gotta Hold Him Accountable...

...says Clint Eastwood:

Lies from Our President...

I haven't written much about the Benghazi affair, as I've had very little to add to the story, and because most of the issue was just hearsay and speculation.  The latest revelations, however, persuade me of the almost-unthinkable: that our President and his administration have been lying to us about Benghazi right from the very first statements they've made. 

John Bolton, in the video below, has the only explanation so far that rings true to me: that the idealogy of the administration prevented them from seeing the reality before their eyes: that al Qaeda is alive and well, and still bent on killing Americans.

This is a firing offense, folks.  Please, please remember this appalling behavior when you vote in two weeks...

Romney/Ryan Campaign Event...

The photo below was taken last night at a Romney/Ryan campaign event in Golden, Colorado.  Impressive crowd.  The full 360° panorama.


Obama and Churchill...

Who knew?  This photograph captures the only known photo of Barack Obama and Winston Churchill's only meeting (via my lovely bride)...

Cold Fission?

Way back in 1989, Pons and Fleischmann made a big splash with their claims of “cold fusion” – the production of energy through fusion at room temperature, in an apparatus that would easily fit on top of a desk.  Their claim was thoroughly debunked.

But...some of their observations were (a) repeated, and (b) never explained.  The notoriety of the original claims kept most serious investigators from attempting it, but now, more than 20 years later, some serious researchers are honing a theory that just might explain those anamalous observations, in a way that comports with our understanding of physics.  And...it just might prove to be usable as a source of energy – which was really what Pons and Fleischmann were seeking all along.  This would be a redemption, of sorts, of their work...

Strip Kindle DRM?

DRM (Digital Rights Management) is the technical means that prevents you from copying (and sharing) DRM-protected content that you buy from places like Amazon (Kindle books and music), Apple iTunes, etc. 

DRM can be very annoying when you want to do something perfectly legal (with respect to copyright), but which the DRM prevents.  For example, I might buy an Kindle book that I'd like to turn into a PDF file so that I can read or print it on any device I own (not just those devices that happen to be able to host a Kindle reader).  DRM prevents me from doing that.

This article points the way to a method for removing the DRM from Kindle books.  I haven't tried it yet, but I'm definitely going to do so...

Chuck Norris in a New Role?

Who's that at right?  Chuck Norris in make-up, ready for a new role?

Nope.  This is a reconstruction of a Neanderthal man made by British scientists, using standard techniques of layering hypothetical muscle and fat onto a real skeleton.

I remember fanciful sketches of Neanderthal man appearing in magazines from my childhood.  They looked much more ape-like than this fellow, who could pass for one of my colleagues :-)

A Practical Guide...

...to rude Italian hand gestures.  Some of these look...useful.

IEM: Hope and Change - 1.36:1

The Iowa Electronic Markets show the presidential race is tightening up. Obama is still on top, but his lead is down to 1.36:1, the worst showing for him since July...


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Save That Bird...

Via my lovely bride:


The Last Debate...

My favorite part: “last”.  I don't want to watch any more such nonsense.  It may (or may not) have political significance, but it certainly didn't have much in the way of substance.

The consensus of opinion seems to boil down to these points:

Obama didn't walk away a clear winner.
Obama didn't walk away a clear loser.
Romney didn't walk away a clear winner.
Romney didn't walk away a clear loser.

I'll call that a draw.  Here are some other thoughts:

Krauthammer
Ace
Clark Judge

Just two more weeks and we can stop worrying about who will win.  Then we can start worrying about who did win :-)

South Pole Telescope...

Portrait of a Failed “Investment”...

Four years ago, the world largely applauded as Greece incurred multi-billion dollar debt to finance building a spectacular Olympic venue.  The media heaped praise on the Greeks for their “investment”, and predicted great things would happen because of the world-class stadiums, tracks, pools, etc. that they were building.

How's that working out now?

Not so well.  The facilities are largely unused, and now the Germans are being asked to cover the debt that Greece is in danger of defaulting on.

CoyoteBlog has more.  Oy, vey...

Your Morning WTF: Scientists Convicted...

An Italian court has convicted 7 scientists and experts of manslaughter, for failing to predict an earthquake that killed hundreds of people.  They have appealed, and hopefully the conviction will be overturned by a more rational higher court.  Hopefully.

Meanwhile, these scientists live in fear of long prison sentences.

Maybe the Pope will intervene.

Good grief.

Doom...

Five Guys, One Piano = Sweet Music...

Governor Awesome...

Are You Better Off?

Obama Style...

Robot, Gangham Style...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Your Federal Income Taxes...

Reader Simi L. has sent this letter to his local newspaper.  I don't think he's too happy about his income taxes (and neither am I!)...
A Realistic Way to Look at Your Federal Income Taxes

We have all been subject to various explanations relating to the absolutely astounding numbers of dollars that our federal government spends each year. Numbers of billions or trillions are just plain difficult to comprehend. And when authors try to explain how large these numbers are, they often use an analogy which is just as hard to understand (try to comprehend the number of inches between the earth and the sun). There has to be a better way and I'd like to propose a useful way of thinking about the dollars our federal government spends.

This current year the federal government will spend approximately 3.8 trillion bucks Holy smoke! But how does this number relate to each of us?

Let's assume you are paying $10,000 in Federal income tax this year (I think I envy you). If the feds spend $3.8 trillion this year as currently projected, a relatively straightforward calculation will show that for each billion dollars the government spends, a little more than $2.50 comes out of YOUR pocket. Obviously then if the govt spends $10 billion on something, such as a new large aircraft carrier, $25 of that came out of YOUR very own pocket. Also, each time the feds spend $100 billion, your forced contribution is $250.00. These are numbers we can all relate to and I find them pretty scary. If you also take into account that approximately 40% of what the feds spend this year is “borrowed” (read 'printed' without the backup of assets of any kind) it is actually quite a bit worse.

Now back to the $10,000 figure. You can calculate your own “contribution” by dividing your total tax by the $10,000 figure (I chose the $10,000 purely to make your calculation easier) and multiplying the result by $2.50 on your handy calculator. For example, if your total tax was $5,000, divide 5,000 by the 10,000 and you'll get 0.5. Multiply 0.5 by 2.50 to get a figure of $1.25. So you pay “only” $12.50 for your share of that aircraft carrier (As an aside, this year that carrier may be one of your best investments).

But how about the money spent to bail out GM and Chrysler? And lets not forget the money we are spending on foreign aid. How many of YOUR dollars would you like to send to Pakistan this year? Dare I even mention our aid to Egypt and Libya at the present time?

Now those billions our government spends don't seem very abstract any more, do they?

Benghazi: Never Again...

Via friend and reader Simon M., a cartoon that is dead on point:


Image Restoration...

A very nice article by Vladimir Yuzhikov about restoring images that are out of focus or blurred through motion, including the underlying mathematics. 

Some Lovely CNC Mills, and Good Advice...

CNC milling machines are getting downright cheap.  I remember when they were first becoming available in the late '70s; the cheapst CNC mills would set you back $75,000 or so – and they weren't even close to the capabilities of these under-$10,000 mills.  Technology marches on...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

As You've Never Seen Them: Obama and Romney...

The Soldier and the Squirrel...

From Belarus, a nice story about a soldier-turned-taxi-driver and his squirrel.  Lots of photos...

Road Rage Karma...

Via my lovely bride:

Scott Adams Gets Some Blowback...

...for his endorsement the other day of Mitt Romney.  As you might expect, he has some interesting observations, and explanations of his position.  I particularly enjoyed this paragraph:
My observation is that voters often - perhaps usually - don't get what they think they voted for. Nixon surprised everyone by getting cuddly with China. Bush Junior turned from isolationist to military adventurer. Obama went from weed-friendly to badass destroyer of state-approved dispensaries. Some fiscal conservatives have blown up the budget while some free-spending Democrats balanced it. If you think you can predict how a candidate will act in office, you might need a history lesson, or perhaps a booster shot of humility.
But there's much more meaty stuff in his post.

If Scott Adams was running, I'd vote for him.  Not because of any of his positions, but because of (a) the originality of his thinking, and (b) his ability to communicate complex ideas.  In both areas he makes our conventional politicians look like blithering idiots...

Solid State Disk Drives...

Michael Cornwell, writing at acm.org, has a great article describing in detail just how solid state disks (SSDs) work.  They are far more complex than most people realize, and just like the hard disks that they're replacing, they're getting more complex every day...

Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight...

Get thyself out to watch it.  This particular meteor shower is created by the remnants and debris from Halley's comet.  On the west coast, 3 to 5 am is the best time to see it...

This Is America?

This is very disturbing: a video of New York City Police Department officers beating the living crap out of an innocent man in a place where he had permission to be.  Reason has all the details.  These officers should be fired and prosecuted; sadly, the most likely outcome is that they'll keep their job and will not suffer any punishment.

Flying Pig Moment...

Who'd a thunk it?  Playing on CBS (that well-known right-wing network), a segment about Mitt Romney that was completely positive.  Was this just an error (for which some poor CBS slob has been fired), or is the lamestream media starting to recognize that the non-Obama candidates might not actually be the devil incarnate?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Spring Break...

Why America Is In Trouble...

The Internet makes information available to everyone, free of charge.  Sometimes it does much more, as (for instance) with the free educational material that's popping up all over the place.  What a wonderful opportunity people have today – with just a few clicks, they can sign up for (say) a course on calculus, or physics, or electronics.  How could anyone be against this? What a fine thing!

Whoops.

Minnesota has decided that this is most definitely not okay.  They've ordered Coursera (a free educational site) to stop delivering their content to Minnesota residents.

Doomed.  We're doomed.  Estonia is going to win...

Wine Corks...

I recently had a conversation with a colleague who didn't know where wine corks came from.  When I asked him to guess, he thought they were manufactured from some sort of plastic.  When I told him that they were actually made from the bark of oak trees, he was very skeptical.  So we did a little googling and found this great explanation, with lots of photos.

Something else that was a surprise to my colleague: the word “cork” derives from the Latin word quercus, for “oak tree”.  The genus name for oaks is also quercus, and the species that is most often harvested for cork is Quercus suber (though many other oak species can be used to produce cork as well).  Quercus suber is native to the western Mediterranean area, but there are some fine examples in the arboreta of San Diego County, as well as in parks and in landscaping.  It's commonly available in our nurseries...


NGC 2623...

Hubble imagery showing two galaxies, merging into one.  Via APOD, of course...


African Orchids...

Via Botany Photo of the Day, of course...


Curiosity: Bright Particles...

Curiosity took some scoops of Martian dirt, and turned up a few anomalous bright particles.  The science teams were worried at first that these particles were pieces of Curiosity falling into the soil.  On close inspection, though, the particles were clearly Martian in origin.  Another interesting thing to go figure out: why are there a tiny number of bright, white particles in the Martian dirt?

Iowa Electronic Market...

Bouncing around, not much movement...


Mitt Romney, Robot? Not...

Via reader Simi L.  Here's Mitt Romney at last night's Al Smith dinner (a Catholic charity organization).  This dinner traditionally invites the presidential candidates, asking that they make some “light-hearted” remarks, and keep the blatant politicking out.  Romney did a superb job of balancing the humor and the political points, using humor to drive home some real jabs.  Then he ended it on a sweet, upbeat note.  Just perfect.

The Obama campaign has been painting Romney as a parody of a real man, as a rich guy who's just completely out of touch.  His remarks at the Al Smith dinner smashes that false portrait...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

This is Way Too Funny...

... to keep all to myself.  Enjoy:

Scott Adams (Dilbert) Endorses Romney...

And his reasoning is exactly what you'd expect from a mind like his.  Here's Scott's conclusion:
So while I don't agree with Romney's positions on most topics, I'm endorsing him for president starting today. I think we need to set a minimum standard for presidential behavior, and jailing American citizens for political gain simply has to be a firing offense no matter how awesome you might be in other ways.
Read the whole thing...

Binders Full of Women...

Awesome, the Internet is...


Curiosity: Mining Rocknest...

Curiosity is still at the location named “Rocknest”, examining exposed soil drifts carefully.  The array of instruments Curiosity carries is being fully exercised for the first time.  That means all the science teams are getting a chance to see how their instruments are performing.  So far: everything is “nominal” – NASA-speak for “perfect!”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Expained: Unemployment Report...

Via friend and reader Simon M.:
So...how can over 873,000 people come off the unemployment line...when there were only a little over 114,000 jobs created?????

How the heck do I know!

BUT, luckily I found a transcript of a conversation between two "eminent economists" discussing this very question!

COSTELLO: I want to talk about the unemployment rate in America.

ABBOTT: Good Subject. Terrible Times. It's 7.8%.

COSTELLO: That many people are out of work?

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: You just said 7.8%.

ABBOTT: 7.8% Unemployed.

COSTELLO: Right 7.8% out of work.

ABBOTT: No, that's 14.7%.

COSTELLO: Okay, so it's 14.7% unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, that's 7.8%.

COSTELLO: WAIT A MINUTE. Is it 7.8% or 14.7%?

ABBOTT: 7.8% are unemployed. 14.7% are out of work.

COSTELLO: IF you are out of work you are unemployed.

ABBOTT: No, Obama said you can't count the "Out of Work" as the unemployed. You have to look for work to be unemployed.

COSTELLO: BUT THEY ARE OUT OF WORK!!!

ABBOTT: No, you miss his point.

COSTELLO: What point?

ABBOTT: Someone who doesn't look for work can't be counted with those who look for work. It wouldn't be fair.

COSTELLO: To whom?

ABBOTT: The unemployed.

COSTELLO: But they are ALL out of work.

ABBOTT: No, the unemployed are actively looking for work. Those who are out of work gave up looking and if you give up, you are no longer in the ranks of the unemployed.

COSTELLO: So if you're off the unemployment roles that would count as less unemployment?

ABBOTT: Unemployment would go down. Absolutely!

COSTELLO: The unemployment just goes down because you don't look for work?

ABBOTT: Absolutely it goes down. That's how Obama gets it to 7.8%. Otherwise it would be 14.7%. He doesn't want you to read about 14.7% unemployment.

COSTELLO: That would be tough on his reelection.

ABBOTT: Absolutely.

COSTELLO: Wait, I got a question for you. That means there are two ways to bring down the unemployment number?

ABBOTT: Two ways is correct.

COSTELLO: Unemployment can go down if someone gets a job?

ABBOTT: Correct.

COSTELLO: And unemployment can also go down if you stop looking for a job?

ABBOTT: Bingo.

COSTELLO: So there are two ways to bring unemployment down, and the easier of the two is to have Obama's supporters stop looking for work.

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like the Obama Economy Czar.

COSTELLO: I don't even know what the hell I just said!

ABBOTT: Now you're thinking like Obama.

A Geyser and the Aurora Borealis...

Both at the same time, in the same photo.  Gorgeous!  From APOD, of course...


About That Debate...

You may have heard that we had a “Presidential debate” last night.  I watched the first third of it, then turned it off in disgust.  About the only things I learned were (a) the two candidates could verbally spar with each other, and (b) Candy Crowly wears her progressive bias like a piece of jewelry.

Sheesh.

I see in the blogs that writers on both sides are cheering the “jabs” that their candidate made, and booing the “lies” that the other candidate made.  I see endless debates about points of infinitesimal importance.  I see utterly nothing of any real substance, and no new positions or plans by either candidate.

There was a moment, early in the debate, that crystallized my disappointment for me.  It started with this question (directed at Obama) from one of the selected questioners:
Your energy secretary, Steven Chu, has now been on record three times stating it's not policy of his department to help lower gas prices. Do you agree with Secretary Chu that this is not the job of the Energy Department?
I'm sure that the Romney supporters, upon hearing this question, immediately thought it was a great question, and waited eagerly to hear Obama's answer.  And they heard exactly what any political observer would tell them to expect: Obama danced around all over the place, talking about green energy, efficient cars, and what not.  But he never came close to answering that question.  Of course he didn't, as that would require him to do something politically suicidal: admit that it was, in fact, his intended policy to raise energy prices – and that Steven Chu was doing exactly what Obama wanted him to do.

Romney replied exactly as you'd anticipate, by highlighting what Obama has done to make prices high, and what he'd do to lower them.  Nothing new.

My own reaction to that question was a bit different: I thought it was an obvious and even stupid question.  How uninformed does one have to be to not already know the answer to that question?  This isn't exactly new news.  Way back in 2008, Obama campaigned on a promise to raise energy prices (including, explicitly, gasoline).  He didn't hide it so much back then; he said it quite openly.  He gave that some context as well: higher prices would force Americans to use less energy.  In Obama's Progressive-world, it's an article of faith that the government should do this.  When he nominated Stephen Chu, Obama bragged about Chu's support for exactly those policies.  Then when Chu actually executed those policies, and talked about them publicly, he got no rebuke.  He wasn't told to retract his statements.  He wasn't fired.

It's obvious what the answer to that question is.  At least, it's obvious to anyone who's been paying even the very slightest amount of attention to the world over the past four years.

So what does it mean that the Gallup organization selected that question to be asked?  

Fundamentally I think it means that Gallup (and the presidential debates commission) knows they're never really going to get a debate on real issues of substance.  The electorate/audience is far too ignorant for that to ever happen.  And those real issues of substance aren't going to be what decides the outcome of this election.  Instead, it will be uninformed voters, generally with poor thinking skills, making uninformed choices, mainly on an intuitive and emotional basis.  Some people will vote for a candidate because they like the sound of his voice, or his confidence, or his business background, or his lack of business background, etc.

So...  I shut off the debate, drank a big glass of wine, went to bed and tried to think of other things.  Thinking about the election was just too damned depressing...

Today's Iowa Electronic Markets: Obama's up.  Oh, boy...


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quote of the Day...

Today's quote of the day is from Dave Carter, writing over at Ricochet.  He's one of the few writers (Mark Steyn is another) who can reliably make me laugh and cry at the same time:
Americans have beaten the odds too many times to see their liberty and families threatened by imbecilic little hoodlums with their pants falling off. 
This is actually the conclusion to his post, which you really, really don't want to miss.  It's another one of those many things you want to remember when you vote in November...

McCain, Graham, and Ayotte...

These three Republican Senators issued a statement yesterday, commenting on Hillary Clinton's assumption of responsibility for the Benghazi debacle.  I think they got this exactly right (which, considering that they are all partisan politicians, is nothing short of miraculously refreshing):
We have just learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has claimed full responsibility for any failure to secure our people and our Consulate in Benghazi prior to the attack of September 11, 2012. This is a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever.

However, we must remember that the events of September 11 were preceded by an escalating pattern of attacks this year in Benghazi, including a bomb that was thrown into our Consulate in April, another explosive device that was detonated outside of our Consulate in June, and an assassination attempt on the British Ambassador. If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed. But if the President was aware of these earlier attacks in Benghazi prior to the events of September 11, 2012, then he bears full responsibility for any security failures that occurred. The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief. The buck stops there.

Furthermore, there is the separate issue of the insistence by members of the Administration, including the President himself, that the attack in Benghazi was the result of a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video, long after it had become clear that the real cause was a terrorist attack. The President also bears responsibility for this portrayal of the attack, and we continue to believe that the American people deserve to know why the Administration acted as it did.

Epic Fail: the Auto Bailout...

An easy-to-understand video that clearly explains why the auto bailout that Obama likes to brag about was a complete failure from any objective perspective:

Obama Flyer...

A Ricochet writer of the conservative persuasion was approached by an Obama worker going door-to-door looking to get out the pro-Obama vote.  There was an interesting interaction with the apparently resigned Obama worker, and the Ricochet writer got an Obama flyer (at right, click to enlarge).

The points on the flyer are the same old tired Obama campaign talking points.  The last one, though, is downright appalling: read literally, it claims that Obama personally killed Osama bin Laden.

Not “As Commander-In-Chief, directed our awesome warriors to carry the sword of justice to Osama bin Laden”.

Not “Authorized Special Forces operation that killed Osama bin Laden”.

Not “Proudly directed Special Forces to kill Osama bin Laden”.

Nope.

Just “Killed Osama bin Laden”.  Personally.

I cringe, thinking about how that looks to the Special Forces operators who actually did kill Osama bin Laden.

I cringe, thinking about how that looks to any veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like me.

I cringe, thinking about how that looks to any American.  Like me.

Remember this when you vote in November...

Why Europeans Come to America for Healthcare...

While pitching government-run healthcare, Progressives are fond of citing longevity statistics that purport to show longer lifespans for Europeans (and Japanese) living in countries with government-run healthcare.  Why would us lunkhead Libertarians and Conservatives be opposed to living longer?

The Progressives are much less fond of explaining why well-to-do individuals from the self-same countries choose to fly to America for their serious health problems.  Why would they do that?  And how can this behavior be reconciled with the statistics on longevity?

The answer lies in the way those longevity statistics are collected, and with cultural differences between the countries.  A very simplistic way to put it is this: if you take away deaths caused by cars and gunshots, then Americans live longer than anywhere else on Earth.  In particular, Americans who have long-term health issues (such as cancer or diabetes) have far better outcomes than non-Americans.  Those are the things our healthcare system deals with, and it deals with them better than any government-run system does.

Well, for now, anyway.  Obamacare is about to “fix” that, unless we manage to get it repealed.

There's a great post on this subject at CoyoteBlog, with much more detail...

First Baumgartner “Head Cam” Video...

The camera was actually mounted on his chest, not his helmet.  But who cares?

“Let's Get Fiscal!”

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Fourth Branch?

Last night I pondered my frustrations with our government, and I realized that quite a few of them all boiled down to one thing: fiscal irresponsibility.  That's not all my frustrations, mind you...but a good number of them.  For example, the fact that our federal government is now operating without a budget, on continuing financing resolutions – that's completely irresponsible.  Or the accounting gimmicks that Obamacare is rife with – also completely irresponsible.  Or the near-universal underfunding of state and municipal pension funds.  But most of all, it's indefensible that we keep spending money (at all levels of government) that we simply don't have.  All these issues have one thing in common: the legislators and executives being way, way too free with the taxpayer's hard-earned dollar.

The rest of our society doesn't have this problem.  There are safeguards in place that prevent the same kinds of abuses that we see our governments perpetrating on a daily basis.  Which led me to an idea...why don't we have such safeguards in place for governments as well?

This is akin to our legal safeguards, implemented by our system of justice, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Why not have a similar system of financial safeguards, with the same power as that of our justice system?  A system of auditors, covering all levels of government: municipal, state, and federal.  A U.S. Supreme Auditors, a council of 9 auditors whose word was final.  The whole system set up to prevent the financial shenanigans currently foisted upon us by our criminal politicians (the only reason these things aren't actually crimes is because they're being committed by the same people who make the laws!).

This would require a Constitutional Amendment, and with 100% of all politicians deadset agin it, I don't think it would have a chance in hell of passing.  Dang...

Baumgartner's Technology...

A great article at ExtremeTech explaining all the high-tech stuff that allowed Felix Baumgartner to make his jump yesterday...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Boomer...

Boomer is a six-month old border collie, with the same parents as Race. He's not ours; he belongs to an Australian couple who has left them here with us until February. The intent was to have Debbie do some foundation agility training, but that's not working out quite as expected. A few weeks before he came to our house, Boomer had a freakish accident while playing, and broke his right rear leg badly. When we first got him, he was just a few days past a surgery to repair his leg. Just a few days ago, he had a second surgery, and he's now back here with us, recovering once again (these photos were taken two days after the surgery). And the poor little fellow has yet another surgery to face, roughly a month away. Yikes! But despite it all, he's a typical joyous, bouncing puppy...



Tippy...

We don't know Tippy's exact age, as he was a rescue (from our old neighborhood in Chula Vista) – but we figure he's roughly 16 or 17 years old.  He's still going strong, though he doesn't move quite as fast, nor jump quite as high as he used to.  And he's gotten a little grumpy and intolerant in his dotage.  Like most old cats, he spends most of his day just sleeping, preferably in a puddle of sunlight somewhere.  Here you see him evincing his displeasure at my thrusting a camera into his face (these photos today were all taken with a very wide-angle lens at very close range)...

Race...

Say “Hello!” to Race, the bug-eyed border collie who runs like the wind...

How do you like that nose?  If you touch it, it's all wet and squishy – but don't let that fool you.  Race uses that nose like a battering ram, and he's quite capable of bruising you by ramming it into your arm or leg...



Maka Lea...

Little Maka Lea is probably our sweetest little kitty, despite (or maybe because of) his neurological damage. Just walking across the carpet poses big challenges for him; he's quite likely to fall over in the attempt. He doesn't have any of the balance that normal cats have, so jumping off of high places means he just rolls and flops uncontrollably in the air, then lands on whatever happened to be down at that moment (frequently that's his head!). Despite his rather profound handicap, he's a happy guy, always ready for some attention, always quick to come over and say “hi!” – and the only cat we have who is completely unafraid of strangers...

Jahar...

This is our little Savannah cat, only he's not so little any more.  At just over a year old, he's about the same size and weight as the larger of other cats.  He hasn't lost any of his behaviors; I play with him daily with a toy “bird” that he loves to chase, making spectacular leaps as high as four feet or so...



Some Special Forces “Operators” Really Don't Like Obama...

And they're not afraid to let you know that:

A More Complex Subject Than You Might Think...

Baumgartner Did It!

He's certainly set one record (highest balloon ascent), and probably set another (going supersonic while in freefall).  He landed safe and sound, didn't even fall down though he was wearing the heavy and clumsy flight suit.

The world got to watch the entire thing, thanks to the 30+ cameras plastered all over the capsule and Baumgartner's suit, the amazing visible light and infrared ground cameras, and the equally amazing helicopter-mounted cameras that tracked him while under canopy.  We watched him land under canopy, and fall to his knees – presumably in thanksgiving for a safe adventure.

Wow.  Just wow.

I love it that this whole thing was privately-funded as a marketing venture, something foretold by several science fiction stories I read as a kid in the '60s.  And even more, I love it that Baumgartner insisted on getting Joe Kittinger (the previous record holder for high-altitude jumping) involved.  That was a class act, Mr. Baumgartner, a real class act...

Stratos...

Red Bull Stratos is the name of the mission, a commercially-funded mission to the edge of space (to quote their PR materials).  As I write this, the capsule, with Felix Baumgartner, is ascending through 110,000 feet altitude, and still rising at about 1,000 feet/minute.  The photo at right is from live video taken by cameras on the ground.  Taking full advantage of modern technology, the capsule and Baumgartner himself are plastered with cameras, and we're watching it live, so clear that it's almost as if it were happening in our back yard.

This is in stark contrast to the current record holder's jump, made by Joe Kittinger back in 1960.  For that jump, Joe Kittinger had very little in the way of instrumentation or imagery.  Furthermore, Felix's position is known with a precision that was completely unachievable back in 1960.

Joe Kittinger is still alive and kicking, at age 84, and he's a part of Felix's team.  He's the primary communicator on the ground, talking with Felix.  Nice.

Difference Engine...

Christian Hansen, writing at Hummus and Magnets, has a couple of posts on Charles Babbage's Difference Engine.  Both are excellent, and I look forward to the promised rest of the series...

Tables
Differences

No Global Warming for the Past 16 Years...

So says a report quietly issued by the U.K.'s “Met” – the same agency that initially raised the anthropogenic global warming scare almost 20 years ago.  For some reason, this doesn't make the news headlines...

Iowa Electronic Markets...

At right is this morning's Iowa Electronic Markets graph.  Romney's position continues to improve, but Obama is still favored, 1.58:1...

Baumgartner Has Launched...

...on his way up to a record altitude (in a balloon), and from which he's planning to more records – especially for altitude, and for the first time ever, for a supersonic freefall...

Friday, October 12, 2012

We Wonder...


Chris Christie Has a Story...

Why Pilots Prefer Airplanes Over Women...

Via reader Simi L.:
Why Pilots Prefer Airplanes Over Women
  • Airplanes usually kill you quickly; a woman takes her time.
  • Airplanes can be turned on by a flick of a switch.
  • Airplanes don't get mad if you do a "touch and go."
  • Airplanes don't object to a pre-flight inspection.
  • Airplanes come with a manual to explain their operation.
  • Airplanes have strict weight and balance limitations.
  • Airplanes can be flown at any time of the month.
  • Airplanes don't come with in-laws.
  • Airplanes don't care about how many other airplanes you've flown before.
  • Airplanes and pilots both arrive at the same time.
  • Airplanes don't mind if you look at other airplanes.
  • Airplanes don't mind if you buy airplane magazines.
  • Airplanes expect to be tied down.
  • Airplanes don't comment on your piloting skills.
  • Airplanes don't whine unless something is really wrong.
  • However, when airplanes go quiet, just like women, it's usually not good.

Curiosity: A Piece of Fluff...

Here's a close-up photo of the little piece of plastic that fell off the Rover.  The folks at JPL have concluded that it's likely a piece of detritus that fell off the skycrane during landing, and then subsequently fell off the Curiosity rover – most likely while it was waving it's arm around over Rocknest...

The Casual Vacancy...

I've just finished reading The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (the author of the Harry Potter series).  I enjoyed it, well enough that I'll buy and read whatever she writes next – but it sure was a big surprise!

First, it is most definitely not aimed at kids.  Unusually mature young adults might find it interesting, but clearly the main audience is adults, especially those with children (or at least with an interest in children).  Unlike with the Harry Potter series, in this book the plot isn't the core of the book – instead, it's with the detailed study of different personalities, of personal interactions (and their consequences, intended or not), and most especially of how children are impacted by the behavior of the adults around them.  There are quite a few interesting characters in this novel, and every one of them is painted with great attention to detail.  The entire novel is plausible – even, unusually, the bit of technical wizardry that is part of the plot (some kids hacking into a web site). 

When I finished, I wondered to myself if there was anything about her new novel that was like the Harry Potter series – because at first blush they seem utterly different.  But I did identify one common thread: complexity.  This novel, like the Harry Potter books, is engineered – by which I mean that she absolutely must have started by thinking out all the characters, their inter-relationships, and the timeline of events.  I know for certain that she did exactly this with the Harry Potter series, because I've seen her worksheet (a sort of handwritten spreadsheet) for that published on the web somewhere.  I'd be willing to bet you that she did the same thing for The Casual Vacancy.  It's just too darned complex to have happened by accident.

Bottom line: thumbs up.  It will take you a chapter or two to get immersed in the world she crafts, but after that you'll be completely engrossed...

WTF Happened Last Night???

Well, that was just about the strangest political “debate” I've ever seen.  I was expecting entertainment, but I got something else instead.  I don't think either Ryan or Biden was the clear winner on either substance or debate style.  But I do think there was a winner: everybody who watched the debate – because we learned a lot about both men.

We learned that Ryan was out of his depth, and is somewhat uncomfortable, with foreign policy issues – but despite this, he was able to hold his own with the much more experienced Biden.

We learned that Martha Raddatz was an excellent moderator, despite the right's trashing of her before the debate, and accusing her of pandering to Biden after the debate.  She did no such thing – she was professional and even-handed throughout, and did a very effective job of asking questions that provoked potentially interesting answers.  The candidates didn't live up to the expectations she set, but that's their fault, not hers.  Kudos to Ms. Raddatz.

We learned that Biden was an uncouth, impolite, bullying jerk; full of bluster and blarney, and fond of yelling from the bar stool.

We learned (or rather, had reinforced) Ryan's strength on economic issues.

We learned how lucky we are that Obama hasn't been killed or incapacitated – because the idea of Joe Biden as president is positively terrifying (I would thing that's true even for loyal Democrats).

We learned that Ryan looks and behaves like a level-headed, grounded adult.  At least from behavioral cues, it's at least not frightening to imagine him as president.

We learned (or rather, had reinforced) how effective Biden's down-home, folksy mannerisms are.  Unfortunately for him, this was more than counter-balanced by his downright bizarre behaviors and constant rude interruptions of Ryan.

We learned that women find Ryan strong, comforting, and easy on the eye (despite his party affiliation), and that they find Biden kind of creepy and definitely not comforting (despite his party affiliation).

The winner?  Us, hands-down.  The loser, politically?  Probably the Obama/Biden ticket, because they didn't get the sort of boost from this debate that they so badly needed after the first Obama/Romney debate.

Here are some thoughts from others:

Nick Gillespie, Reason: The Smirk Store Is Out of Smirks...
Michael Barone, Washington Examiner: Biden Didn't Put a Dent in Romney...
Neoneocon: Biden Was Like the Drunken Blowhard...
Peter Suderman, Reason: Very Specific Malarkey...

Less than an hour after the debate finished, the Republican National Committee had a new ad up, making extensive use of Uncle Joe's bizarre debate behavior.  On nearly a daily basis something like this happens with a speed that leaves me gobsmacked.  An hour?!?  Before I could really even collect my thoughts, they had a polished and effective ad up on the Internet.  Just amazing...

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Oh, Boy...

I can hardly wait for tonight's debate.  Not for the political content; I'm not expecting much of interest there.  Not because I think the debate is likely to be consequential, either – I suspect the VP debate won't mean as much to the outcome of the election as will the weather on election night.  I'm looking forward to this for the pure entertainment value.  Ryan vs. Biden in a vice presidential debate is kind of like F-35 vs. MiG-1 in a dogfight...

I'll be watching, with a glass of wine and a snack or two...

Little Red Hen, 2012 Edition...

Via my mom, whom I suspect is not voting for Obama:
The Little Red Hen

"Who will help me plant my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"Not I," said the cow.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Not I," said the pig.

"Not I," said the goose.

"Then I will do it by myself." She planted her crop and the wheat grew and ripened.

"Who will help me reap my wheat?" asked the little red hen.

"Not I," said the duck.

"Out of my classification," said the pig.

"I'd lose my seniority," said the cow.

"I'd lose my unemployment compensation," said the goose.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen, and so she did.

"Who will help me bake the bread?" asked the little red hen.

"That would be overtime for me," said the cow.

"I'd lose my welfare benefits," said the duck.

"I'm a dropout and never learned how," said the pig.

"If I'm to be the only helper, that's discrimination," said the goose.

"Then I will do it by myself," said the little red hen.

She baked five loaves and held them up for all of her neighbors to see. They wanted some and, in fact, demanded a share but the little red hen said, "No, I shall eat all five loaves."

"Excess profits!" cried the cow (Nancy Pelosi)

"Capitalist leech!" screamed the duck (Barbara Boxer)

"I demand equal rights!" yelled the goose (Jesse Jackson)

The pig just grunted in disdain (Harry Reid)

And they all painted 'Unfair!' picket signs and marched around and around the little red hen, shouting obscenities.

When the farmer (Obama) came, he said to the little red hen, "You must not be so greedy."

"But I earned the bread," said the little red hen.

"Exactly," said Barack the farmer. "That is what makes our free enterprise system so wonderful. Anyone in the barnyard can earn as much as he wants. But under our modern government regulations, the productive workers must divide the fruits of their labor with those who are lazy and idle."

And they all lived happily ever after, including the little red hen, who smiled and clucked, "I am grateful, for now I truly understand."

But her neighbors became quite disappointed in her. She never again baked bread because she joined the 'party' and got her bread free. And all the Democrats smiled. 'Fairness' had been established.

Individual initiative had died but nobody noticed; perhaps no one
cared so long as there was free bread that 'the rich' were paying for.

And perhaps...this is the end.

And the next week, there was no bread, or anything else to eat. So, they all starved equally.


EPILOGUE

Bill Clinton is getting $12 million for his memoirs.

Hillary got $8 million for hers.

That's $20 million for the memories from two people, who for eight years repeatedly testified, under oath, that they couldn't remember anything.

DO WE LIVE IN A GREAT BARNYARD OR WHAT?
Remember this when you vote next month...

Summary: Obama Administration on the Benghazi Attack...

I Hope Voters Listen to This Man...

About a decade ago, I worked for a now-defunct company called FutureTrade.  We made an electronic trading platform aimed at professional traders (mainly in hedge funds).  The company went through the usual sad failing company maneuvers, including a string of layoffs in which I lost my job there.  Eventually, months after I was gone, the company was sold to Interactive Brokers.  Their founder and CEO is Thomas Peterffy, who grew up in Hungary when it was a satellite of the Soviet Union.  He knows first-hand what socialism does to a country and its people, and he emigrated to America to escape that.  Listen to what he has to say:

LOTR Palate Cleanser...

If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, you'll get a chuckle from this:

What Do Doctors Think of Obamacare?

Anecdotally I know that many doctors despise Obamacare, and are planning major changes to their practices to deal with it.  Basically those changes involve them not accepting Obamacare-funded patients.  But is there a better measure than the stories I've heard locally?

Here's the best thing I've seen yet: a poll of doctors to see whether they supported Obama (a proxy for Obamacare) or Romney (who has repeatedly said that he'd repeal Obamacare).  The answer: doctors want Romney, by more than 2 to 1...