A MacGuffin only has one requirement: That it be important-sounding, so that the audience understands he hero isn't engaged in some trivial matter, but that the Stakes Are High. (Woody Allen inverted this rule in his parody espionage film What's Up Tiger Lily?, where the MacGuffin was a top-secret recipe for chicken salad.)I think I'd rather just have the MacGuffin...
But an important sounding MacGuffin is just another way to increase the audience's emotional attachment to the Hero, not to the idea of possessing the MacGuffin.
And that, of course, explains all you need to know about the abnormal political situation we find ourselves in, and the Cult of Barack Obama.
For Obama's fanbois, this is not politics. This isn't even America, not really, not anymore.
This is a movie. And Barack Obama is the Hero. And the Republicans are the Villains. And policy questions -- and Obama's myriad failures as an executive -- are simply incidental. They are MacGuffins only, of no importance whatsoever, except to the extent they provide opportunities for Drama as the Hero fights in favor of them.
Saturday, December 07, 2013
It's President Obama's movie, and we are just extras:
Where outdated technology lives on:
Every day, The Federal Register, the daily journal of the United States government, publishes on its website and in a thick booklet around 100 executive orders, proclamations, proposed rule changes and other government notices that federal agencies are mandated to submit for public inspection.Old disks never die, they just go to work for the government...
So far, so good.
It turns out, however, that the Federal Register employees who take in the information for publication from across the government still receive some of it on the 3.5-inch plastic storage squares that have become all but obsolete in the United States.
Now government infrastructure experts are hoping that public embarrassments like the HealthCare.gov debacle will prompt a closer look at the government’s technological prowess, especially if it might mean getting rid of floppy disks.
“You’ve got this antiquated system that still works but is not nearly as efficient as it could be,” said Stan Soloway, chief executive of the Professional Services Council, which represents more than 370 government contractors. “Companies that work with the government, whether longstanding or newcomers, are all hamstrung by the same limitations.”
They had to kill the recovery in order to save it:
A new report on the government's regulatory actions was released just before Thanksgiving, and it contains more than 3,300 rules -- which the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) estimates will, together with other regulations, cost more than $1.8 trillion to implement on an annual basis.Letting the economy recover on its own would discredit big government...
At a time when the economy is still struggling to zoom out of its post-recession rut, businesses worry that the crush of regulation is another sandbag weighing down the recovery.
"Back in the '90s, the federal budget itself was not even $1.8 trillion," said Wayne Crews, vice president of policy for CEI. "Now we have this entire $1.8 trillion hidden tax, you could say, of government compliance and intervention cost imposed in the economy."
Life after work:
“Work” and “purpose” are intimately connected: Researchers at the University of Michigan, for example, found that welfare payments make one unhappier than a modest income honestly earned and used to provide for one’s family. “It drains too much of the life from life,” said Charles Murray in a speech in 2009. “And that statement applies as much to the lives of janitors — even more to the lives of janitors — as it does to the lives of CEOs.” Self-reliance — “work” — is intimately connected to human dignity — “purpose.”Be careful what you wish for, elites...
So what does every initiative of the Obama era have in common? Obamacare, Obamaphones, Social Security disability expansion, 50 million people on food stamps . . . The assumption is that mass, multi-generational dependency is now a permanent feature of life. A coastal elite will devise ever smarter and slicker trinkets, and pretty much everyone else will be a member of either the dependency class or the vast bureaucracy that ministers to them. And, if you’re wondering why every Big Government program assumes you’re a feeble child, that’s because a citizenry without “work and purpose” is ultimately incompatible with liberty. The elites think a smart society will be wealthy enough to relieve the masses from the need to work. In reality, it would be neo-feudal, but with fatter, sicker peasants. It wouldn’t just be “economic inequality,” but a far more profound kind, and seething with resentments.
Friday, December 06, 2013
I blame Jenny McCarthy:
The CDC fears that because measles is so prevalent overseas, people who travel are bringing the virus back to U.S. shores. Almost all of the 175 cases of measles reported thus far in 2013 were linked to people who had contracted the disease after traveling outside the country.We could be getting a better handle on this, if not for our anti-vaccine Luddites...
“A measles outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere,” CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press release. “The steady arrival of measles in the United States is a constant reminder that deadly diseases are testing our health security every day. Someday, it won’t be only measles at the international arrival gate; so, detecting diseases before they arrive is a wise investment in U.S. health security.”
Wear your dead?
Using “Russian technology,” Algordanza Memorial Diamonds are created in a similar fashion to the way natural diamonds are formed.One ring to bind them...
Here’s how it works: a diamond is composed of pressurized carbons. Conveniently enough, human bodies are about 18 percent carbon. Using about a pound of ashes, the firm is able to distill out the carbon and use it to form a man-made diamond in a mold under high pressure in about a week. The diamonds created this way are often blue because of certain chemicals in the human body.
Algordanza, headquartered in Switzerland, offers a variety of diamond sizes and cuts that can be placed on a ring or other jewelry pieces. Prices run higher than conventional diamonds, starting from about $3,000 depending on the size and cut.
The favored few:
Members of Congress and their staff will be allowed to keep their health insurance past the end of the year deadline because of persistent problems plaguing the DC Health Link, The Colorado Observer has learned.Obamacare rules are for little people!
A memo issued to House staffers Thursday night said that the Obama administration has been made aware of the “significant problems preventing members and staff in Washington, D.C. and in district offices from enrolling in a healthcare plan.”
The memo from Chief Administrative Officer of the House Dan Strodel said that while they are awaiting a decision to keep the enrollment time open past Dec. 9, health insurance coverage would be extended through Jan. 31.
Everybody needs a friend:
A Brooklyn city councilman running for Congress has written to a federal judge seeking leniency for a reputed Colombo mobster who will be sentenced this month for money laundering and illegal gambling.He's just a guy from the old neighborhood...
Dominic Recchia, a Democrat representing Coney Island, Gravesend and Bensonhurst, sent the letter on City Council letterhead extolling the community service performed by reputed mobster Angelo Spata after Hurricane Sandy…
Recchia’s letter, dated Aug. 23, informs Judge Kiyo Matsumoto that Spata participated in relief efforts and hosted a children’s carnival at MCU Park after the superstorm.
First, he loses the kids, and now:
40% of white women have a “very unfavorable” view of the law, which is a jump of 10 points over a month ago. We get to half when we add “somewhat unfavorable. Democrats usually do well with white women. Now the gender gap is closing.Will the last demographic group that still supports Obama please turn out the lights?
Democrats must have a large slice of the Hispanic vote if they are to remain a viable national party. They can’t compete without taking a big majority of that fast-growing group. But Gallup says that Obama is rapidly losing ground with them, too. His job approval number among Hispanics has fallen 23%, from 75% to 52%, over the last year. Granted, he’s still at a bare majority, but the trend is decidedly against him.
Teachers aren't fans of Common Core:
“The root of the problem with the Common Core initiative is that standards drive testing, which drives curriculum,” Glyn Wright, executive director of The Eagle Forum, a Washington-based watchdog group that has long campaigned against the new curriculum, told FoxNews.com. “The standards were created by private organizations in Washington, D.C., without input from teachers or parents and absent any kind of study or pilot test to prove its effectiveness.”Common Core seems to be giving many common ground in opposing it...
“In fact, the only mathematician and the only ELA expert on the validation committee refused to sign off on the standards because they are inadequate,” she added, “Yet, the standards have been copyrighted and cannot be changed, and this is resulting in a loss of local and state control.”
Parent groups have criticized Common Core, and there are efforts under way in several states to repeal participation. But the complaints from teachers are relatively new, and come as the Common Core-aligned teaching materials are being implemented for the first time in many districts.
Britain's welfare system is too generous, says...the EU:
Viviane Reding, EU justice commissioner, on Thursday dismissed Theresa May's pleas for changes to EU free movement rules, telling the Home Secretary that only Britain was to blame for any abuses of benefit system by European nationals.Only the EU can abuse the welfare state...
Using distinctly undiplomatic language, the commissioner, who has refused to contemplate any tightening of EU rules before Romania and Bulgaria have free movement rights next month, made an astonishing attack on Britain's welfare system.
"It seems that some national systems are too generous. Don't blame the commission or EU rules for national choices and national regulatory systems," she said.
"If member states want to restrict the availability of social benefits to EU citizens they can do two things: First, change their national systems to make them less generous. Second, apply the existing EU rules which provide safeguards to counter abuse, fraud and error: for example possible expulsion orders and re-entry bans in case of abuses."
The bird killings can apparently continue:
The White House finalized its review on Thursday of a rule that would give the farms a 30-year pass for the killings, known as "takings."They had to put on appearances...
The details of the Interior Department rule are not yet known and it is possible it could be tweaked, though significant changes would be unusual at this stage in the process.
Obama found himself caught between green groups and renewable energy companies over the summer due to the controversy surrounding the rule, which also applies to oil rigs and electric lines.
An Interior Department official told The Hill it has been working "for more than a year to gather public and stakeholder input on the proposal," which was sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget back in April.
Al Sharpton discovers the knockout "game":
“The knockout game is not a game,” Sharpton says in a brief video message. “It is vicious. It is ugly. It must be stopped.”At least he's calling it what it is. Others seem to have a different attitude.
In a news release, Sharpton said the attacks cannot be tolerated.
“These kids are targeting innocent people, and in many cases specifically targeting Jewish folks. We would not be silent if it were the other way around, and we will not be silent now. This behavior is racist, period. And we will not tolerate it,” he said.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Prohibition is officially dead. From President Roosevelt's official proclamation:
I ask the wholehearted cooperation of all our citizens to the end that this return of individual freedom shall not be accompanied by the repugnant conditions that obtained prior to the adoption of the 18th Amendment and those that have existed since its adoption. Failure to do this honestly and courageously will be a living reproach to us all.Or at least a greater sanity in regards to the way that the law treats now-legal behavior. Meanwhile, the nation rejoices:
I ask especially that no State shall by law or otherwise authorize the return of the saloon either in its old form or in some modern guise.
The policy of the Government will be to see to it that the Social and political evils that have existed in the pre-prohibition era shall not be revived nor permitted again to exist. We must remove forever from our midst the menace of the bootlegger and such others as would profit at the expense of good government, law and order.
I trust in the good sense of the American people that they will not bring upon themselves the curse of excessive use of intoxicating liquors, to the detriment of health, morals and social integrity.
The objective we seek through a national policy is the education of every citizen toward a greater temperance throughout the Nation.
San Francisco must be running out of things to ban:
The San Francisco Commission on the Environment, which supports a ban on the release of commercially bred butterflies, unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night that orders the Department of the Environment to work with conservationists and local lawmakers before pursing formal legislative action.Aren't most weddings like that anyway?
The resolution states the commission supports a ban because the practice of releasing the insects at weddings and other celebrations can negatively impact the indigenous population and hamper conservation efforts.
“Many San Franciscans believe that butterflies are animals to be respected and valued as part of the city’s natural heritage and should not be used as decorations or for entertainment,” the resolution states.
The president of the North American Butterfly Association, who sent a letter to the commission in support of the proposal, told FoxNews the association backs the proposal because “there is absolutely no reason” butterflies should be sold for use at events.
“(They are) taking these living organisms and treating them as nothing but party favors,” Jeffrey Glassberg said.
Nelson Mandela has died:
Warm, lanky and charismatic in his silk, earth-toned dashikis, he was quick to admit to his shortcomings, endearing him further in a culture in which leaders rarely do.He led a long fight, and won. RIP.
His steely gaze disarmed opponents. So did his flashy smile.
Former South African President F.W. de Klerk, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela in 1993 for transitioning the nation from a system of racial segregation, described their first meeting.
"I had read, of course, everything I could read about him beforehand. I was well-briefed," he said last year.
"I was impressed, however, by how tall he was. By the ramrod straightness of his stature, and realized that this is a very special man. He had an aura around him. He's truly a very dignified and a very admirable person."
Russian diplomats run a Medicaid scam:
In court papers, FBI agent Jeremy Robertson described an 18-month investigation, saying investigators had discovered a pattern of falsified applications.In other words, the system worked for them about as well as it does for many Americans...
He said 58 of the 63 births attributed to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between 2004 and 2013 were funded through Medicaid benefits.
Robertson wrote that the diplomats and their spouses generally underreported household income to an amount below the applicable Medicaid eligibility level, and some of them lied about the citizenship status of their children to obtain continuing health coverage for them.
Meanwhile, the diplomats and their spouses spent tens of thousands of dollars on vacations, fancy watches, expensive jewelry and designer clothing at luxury retail stores including Bloomingdale's, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Swarovski and others, the court papers said.
The complaint said they also spent tens of thousands of dollars on electronic merchandise at Apple Inc. stores and elsewhere. It said they also bought concert tickets and robotic cleaning devices.
President Obama is urged to raise minimum wage on his own:
The chairmen of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, wrote a letter that urges the president to circumvent Congress and sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage for workers employed through federal government contracts with private companies. This letter comes months after 49 members of the CPC requested the same thing from the president, only to hear radio silence about it from the White House.That whole Constitutional thing seems to matter less and less these days...
Amsterdam comes up with an incentive for its drunks:
The program, started last year by the Rainbow Foundation, a private but mostly government-funded organization that helps the homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics get back on their feet, is so popular that there is a long waiting list of chronic alcoholics eager to join the beer-fueled cleaning teams.So if they went on strike, would they just demand more beer?
One of the project’s most enthusiastic supporters is Fatima Elatik, district mayor of eastern Amsterdam. As a practicing Muslim who wears a head scarf, Ms. Elatik personally disapproves of alcohol but says she believes that alcoholics “cannot be just ostracized” and told to shape up. It is better, she said, to give them something to do and restrict their drinking to a limited amount of beer with no hard alcohol.
Congress holds hearings on extraterrestrials:
"The chance that there's a planet like Earth out there with life on it is very high," Massachusetts Institute of Technology planetary science and physics Professor Sara Seager told the House Science Committee.There's no intelligent life in Washington, so they'd never land there...
"The question is: Is there life near here, in our neighborhood of stars? We think the chances are good," she said, answering a question from Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who asked: "Do you think there's life out there, and are they studying us? And what do they think about New York City?"
Seager was one of three Ph.D.-credentialed witnesses prominent in a scientific field once considered speculative who testified at a hearing called "Astrobiology: The Search for Biosignatures in Our Solar System and Beyond."
A biosignature is a substance -- such as an element, molecule or even a phenomenon -- that provides scientific evidence of past or present life.
Seager studies gases on distant planets that might indicate life.
The others testifying were NASA astrobiologist Mary Voytek and science historian and astrobiologist Steven J. Dick of the Library of Congress.
Global warming is no longer cool:
The single most damning aspect of the “pause” is that, because it has occurred when “greenhouse gases” have been pouring into the atmosphere at record levels, it shows at the very least that something natural is at play here. The warmists suggest that natural factors have “suppressed” the warming temporarily, but that’s just a guess: The fact is, they have nothing like the understanding of the climate that they claimed (and their many models that all showed future warming mean nothing, since they all used essentially the same false information).this won't stop the climate change cultists, of course-just make them more desperate.
Why the minimum wage fight is a lost cause
Regardless of how much solidarity or sympathy you might feel about the people who assemble your Triple Steak Stack or your Cheesy Gordita Crunch, this sort of demand is economic fantasy at its most delusional and counterproductive. Doubling the wages of low-skilled workers during a period of prolonged joblessness is a surefire way not just to swell the ranks of the reserve army of the unemployed but to increase automation at your local Taco Bell. . . . The push to hike fast-food wages is indicative not of a brutal new economy but of a labor movement that is not only disconnected from reality but also almost completely devoid of vision.Also, the strikers can be replaced.
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Those who attack others for their funding practices shouldn't throw stones:
A Watchdog.org review of financial documents reveals the Madison-based CMD, which bills itself as a journalism organization, received $520,000 in 2011 from the Schwab Charitable Fund. That’s 60 percent of the $864,740 CMD received that year.One group's corrupt bargain is another's silent partner...
CMD lists no donors on its tax returns, but its website identifies numerous financial backers without any financial data. Several are highlighted in bold and labeled “current donors.”
CMD alleged the consumer advocacy group Club for Growth “was at the center of a tangled web of undisclosed dark money in 2011, raking in millions from out-of-state secret donors and shuffling it to other nonprofits that in turn spent millions on the 2011 and 2012 elections.”
But CMD could look at its own donor list to find evidence of dark money running through a tangled web.
One of its most politically active donors is the Tides Foundation, which gave CMD $160,000 to fund research in 2011 — the same year CMD and others ramped up a recall effort against Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Walker outraged some liberals by championing reform of public employee unions. The reforms, known as Act 10, survived a federal legal challenge.
Earlier this year, an investigation by Watchdog revealed that top Tides officials logged 92 White House visits in 2012 and helped draft President Obama’s massive stimulus bill. Tides doled out $505,000 to the nonprofit group Catalist to create a voter database, which is sold to liberal clients engaged in partisan election campaigns.
Why internal combustion engines are actually cleaner than green cars:
Admittedly, fossil fuels also produce carbon emissions while being dug out of the ground, refined and transported to the pump. But burning hydrocarbons in internal-combustion engines is becoming cleaner all the time. When measured on a well-to-wheels basis, the steadily declining emission levels of conventional vehicles is putting the squeeze on so-called ZEVs.Better engineering breeds better results...
What do you do if your robot surgeon stalls?
Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG), the maker of a $1.5 million robot surgery system, told doctors that friction in the arms of some devices may cause the units to stall, the second warning issued about the company’s products in a month.Human hands don't sound like such an outdated idea after all...
“Reports of friction within certain instrument arms can interrupt smooth instrument motion,” the FDA said on its website. “This can be felt by the surgeon as resistance in the movement of the master. In this situation, the instrument can stall momentarily and then suddenly catch-up to the master position if the surgeon pushes through the resistance.”
It's a matter of faith to apologize:
"I'm not ashamed to say that I believe in God and I believe in His word," says a bespectacled Pryor, who is holding an open Bible. "The Bible teaches us no one has all the answers--only God does. And neither political party's always right."He wants your forgiveness, and your vote...
Pryor, a relatively moderate Democrat who nevertheless voted for Obamacare in 2010, has struggled to defend the law and his vote in his reelection campaign in a conservative state that has been increasingly Republican. Arkansas voted for Mitt Romney over Barack Obama in the 2012 election, and has voted Republican for president every four years since 2000. In fact, Pryor is the lone Democrat in Arkansas's congressional delegation, with all four congressman and the junior senator, John Boozman, being members of the GOP.
New York City's liberals are back:
“We are in a progressive moment right now,” declared East Harlem Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, an early endorser of Mr. de Blasio and a leading candidate for council speaker. “This honoree [Mr. de Blasio] represents the culmination of Jon’s tireless, brilliant and visionary work to build our city’s progressive infrastructure and to build coalitions across groups that made our movement stronger … It was this infrastructure that was built that just about a month ago enabled our city to elect its first progressive Democratic mayor in 20 years, our Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.”It's a new progressive era, in a city already known for its progressiveness, so what's changed, really?
There were also political subtexts: Mr. de Blasio hugged Ms. Mark-Viverito as he took to the podium in the drab, sprawling conference room. Insiders have long speculated that Ms. Mark-Viverito, a liberal firebrand, is Mr. de Blasio’s favored candidate for the city’s second most powerful post–and Mr. de Blasio added fuel to the fire in his remarks
At one point, he heralded her as a “wonderful, progressive visionary” and noted that she was the first sitting council member to endorse him “and that was in the lean times before things got quite so interesting. I am deeply appreciative of her commitment to progressive causes and all she’s done for this city.”
Martin Bashir is done:
Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of MSNBC, I have tendered my resignation. It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.Looks like his vacation is now permanent...
I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers – who are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences. I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.’
The British government is concerned about this social media business:
The government's chief legal adviser said on Wednesday he plans to offer guidelines to social media users to help them avoid breaking Britain's laws on contempt when posting comments about court cases.How-by holding it accountable?
The guidelines, which will be posted on a case-by-case basis, aim to avoid a repeat of several high-profile incidents this year where Tweeters have fallen foul of the law.
"Blogs and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook mean that individuals can now reach thousands of people with a single tweet or post," said Attorney General Dominic Grieve.
"This is an exciting prospect, but it can pose certain challenges to the criminal justice system," he added in a statement.
Detroit's fall moves forward:
Judge Steven Rhodes turned down objections from unions, pension funds and retirees, which all stand to lose big under any plan to address Detroit's long-term liabilities.And those Detroit residents who are still left can thank their city's own leaders for that...
The decision Tuesday was long-awaited, and clears the way for the city to proceed in the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history.
"This once proud and prosperous city can't pay its debts. It's insolvent. It's eligible for bankruptcy," Rhodes said in announcing his decision. "At the same time, it also has an opportunity for a fresh start."
You can keep your health care plan-if you work for Harry Reid:
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, one of Obamacare's architects and staunchest supporters, is also the only top congressional leader to exempt some of his staff from having to buy insurance through the law's new exchanges.
Reid is the exception among the other top congressional leaders. GOP House Speaker John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell have all directed their staffs to join the exchange, their aides said.
In September, Reid told reporters, "Let's stop these really juvenile political games -- the one dealing with health care for senators and House members and our staff. We are going to be part of exchanges, that's what the law says and we'll be part of that."
That's true. Reid and his personal staff will buy insurance through the exchange.
But it's also true that the law lets lawmakers decide if their committee and leadership staffers hold on to their federal employee insurance plans, an option Reid has exercised.
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emphasized, "We are just following the law."Can those who have lost their health coverage "follow the law" your way, too?
The war on wealth:
From New York to London, Paris and beyond, powerful economic players are deciding that with an ever-deteriorating global fiscal outlook, conventional levels and methods of taxation will no longer suffice. That makes weapons of mass wealth destruction—such as the IMF's one-off capital levy, Cyprus's bank deposit confiscation, or outright sovereign defaults—likelier by the day."Economic justice" means that somebody else has to pay for failed welfare states...
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
The good news: We're not Greece. The bad news: We've surpassed them:
The total number of people in the United States now receiving federal disability benefits hit a record 10,982,920 in November, up from the previous record of 10,978,040 set in May, according to newly released data from the Social Security Administration.We now have the equivalent of an entire nation's population on disability. How long will it be before it matches the combined populations of Europe itself?
The 10,982,920 Americans taking disability benefits in November outnumbered the total population of Greece, which is 10,772,967, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.
They're not monkeying around:
A US animal rights group has filed what it said is the first lawsuit seeking to establish the "legal personhood" of chimpanzees.They have intelligence, yes. But they're not in the same league as humans, simply because nature didn't evolve them that way. So take your stinking paws off them, you damn dirty activists.
The non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project asked a New York state court to declare a 26-year-old chimp named Tommy "a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned."
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that Tommy's "detention" in a "small, dank, cement cage in a cavernous dark shed" in central New York is unlawful and demands his immediate release to a primate sanctuary.
Chimpanzees "possess complex cognitive abilities that are so strictly protected when they're found in human beings," Steven Wise, the president of Nonhuman Rights Project, told Reuters.
"There's no reason why they should not be protected when they're found in chimpanzees," he added.
Unfamiliarity breeds contempt:
A new Gallup poll shows that Americans age 18-29 are less familiar with the federal health-care law than any other age group. While 63 percent say they are familiar with the law, that's nine to 12 percentage points lower than older demographics. An August Kaiser Family Foundation poll, meanwhile, showed that 43 percent of Americans age 18-25 and 41 percent of those between 26 and 35 had heard nothing about their new state insurance exchanges. By comparison, just 33 percent of all adults said the same thing.If you're young and healthy, you might well wonder why you should sign up. It certainly hasn't worked out for the older folks.
Why does the lag matter? In short, because Obama needs a lot of young, healthy people to enroll in plans offered through the exchanges in order to keep premiums down and make the system work as it was designed. Specifically, he needs about 40 percent of enrollees to be younger than 35. (Sarah Kliff gives you everything you need to know about these so-called "young invincibles" over on Wonkblog.)
It certainly doesn't help the president that young people seem to be the least attuned to the new law. What's more, early problems with the federal health-care exchange Web site didn't make it an easier for the administration to woo the young people it badly needs to sign up for coverage.
Did the government rip off an artist's design?
Attorneys for Robert Davidson argue in a suit filed last week that the Sin City statue was more "fresh-faced" and "sultry" than the original. They say these differences caused the Postal Service to prefer Davidson's statue.Regardless of the merits of the case, the statue never struck me as "sultry." Attractive in a regal way, yes, but sultry? Only in Las Vegas...
A spokesman for the Postal Service did not immediately return calls. The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor has appeared on more than 20 stamps.
Davidson's attorneys say the Lady Liberty who welcomes weary gamblers has a more feminine form. The original, they say, was just an "inspiration."
The post office selected the close-up photograph of the statue's head and crown from a photography service. The agency did not find out about the error until a stamp magazine ran an expose.
How to be a successful street person:
His main focus at the moment: a "private course in Applied Homelessness," whereby he offers folks a chance to experience the homeless lifestyle during a three-day tour. Tuition is $2000 of which 25% will be donated back to shelters and pay for expenses, like the purchase of clothes for potential clients.So what's next? Homeless franchises? Run from cardboard boxes?
Although Momany looks at the venture as a business, he's also hoping to raise awareness of the growing homeless population in Seattle which has increased by 15% since 2007. By offering a real life homeless experience, he's hoping to inspire new approaches to solving the problem.
According to Momany, students will be dressed in appropriate homeless garb, given new names as well as "a simple life script." The dense curriculum includes visits to popular homeless hangouts like the Seattle Public Library and students will be given opportunities to converse with other homeless people, pan handle and nap on benches. On one particular night, they will roam the streets at 3 a.m. Each night will be capped off with a stay in a $15-per-night hostel.
Do daughters make women more conservative?
In newly published findings that challenge earlier research, Dalton Conley of New York University and Emily Rauscher of the University of Kansas found that having more daughters than sons and having a daughter first “significantly reduces the likelihood of Democratic identification and significantly increases the strength of Republican Party identification.”So much for the GOP being the preferred party of old white guys...
Not only is the daughter effect statistically significant, it’s substantively large. They found that overall, “compared to those with no daughters, parents with all daughters are 14% less likely to identify as a Democrat….[and] 11% more likely to identify as a Republican than parents with no daughters,” they write in the journal Sociological Forum.
The daughters effect is considerably stronger among better educated and wealthier parents, they find. But among those farther down the socioeconomic ladder, it weakens to statistical insignificance.
Black educational institutions are facing decline:
Dozens of predominantly black colleges are facing battles to stay alive, battles that even their supporters agree that some of them will lose.Higher education in the age of Hope and Change...
“I do predict several HBCUs will close,” said Jarrett Carter, the editor of the blog HBCU Digest, referring to the schools known as historically black colleges and universities. “It’s not a question of if, but when.”
These institutions are among the most vulnerable of the universities and colleges of all types that are beset by financial woes. As a group they suffer disproportionately from small endowments, subpar facilities and underprepared students. With lower graduation rates, on average, they’d be particularly vulnerable under President Barack Obama’s proposal to financially punish the colleges and universities that graduate the fewest students.
Even the most elite black colleges are struggling financially: Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Howard University’s credit rating in September and Morehouse College eliminated 66 administrative jobs in August.
Neither green energy or the means to distribute it are ready for prime time:
Green energy is the least predictable kind. Nobody can say for certain when the wind will blow or the sun will shine. A field of solar panels might be cranking out huge amounts of energy one minute and a tiny amount the next if a thick cloud arrives. In many cases, renewable resources exist where transmission lines don't.Well, there is at least one form of renewable energy that the grid was designed for. Unfortunately, it's not wind or solar, and therefore too politically incorrect...
"The grid was not built for renewables," said Trieu Mai, senior analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The frailty imperils lofty goals for greenhouse gas reductions. Concerned state and federal officials are spending billions of dollars in ratepayer and taxpayer money in an effort to hasten the technological breakthroughs needed for the grid to keep up with the demands of clean energy.
Making a green energy future work will be "one of the greatest technological challenges industrialized societies have undertaken," a group of scholars at Caltech said in a recent report. The report notes that by 2030, about $1 trillion is expected to be spent nationwide in bringing the grid up to date.
Darrell Issa wants to know why the FBI isn't cooperating with the IRS investigation:
Mr. Issa, California Republican, and Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, are leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s IRS inquiry. They also said the FBI is refusing to turn over any documents related to its own investigation into the IRS, which began in the days after an auditor’s report revealed the tax agency had improperly targeted tea party groups for special scrutiny.Sounds like they're going into Watergate mode again...
Six months after it began, the FBI’s investigation has resulted in no release of information. The congressmen said the FBI even rescinded an offer for an in-person briefing with the assistant director in charge of the investigation. The reversal, after the FBI consulted with the Justice Department, suggests political meddling, the two investigators said.
“The department’s tactics have impeded a congressional investigation and interfered with the committee’s access to documents and information. Obstructing a congressional investigation is a crime,” Mr. Issa and Mr. Jordan said in their letter to Mr. Comey, warning that if they don’t get the information they will use “compulsory” means.
Phobias may be an inherited trait:
Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.You're not crazy; you just got it from your ancestors...
The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.
So a fear of spiders may in fact be an inherited defence mechanism laid down in a families genes by an ancestors' frightening encounter with an arachnid.
"And if my thought dreams could be seen, they'd probably put my head in a guillotine":
The legendary American singer has been charged with inciting hatred by Paris prosecutors after comments made to Rolling Stone magazine last year sparked a complaint from the Council of Croats in France (CRICCF).So he's in trouble for mentioning that the Croats actually were Nazis? Okay...
"If you got a slave master or Klan in your blood, blacks can sense that. That stuff lingers to this day. Just like Jews can sense Nazi blood and the Serbs can sense Croatian blood," Dylan was quoted as saying in the context of an answer about race relations in the United States.
Dylan, 72, was informed of the charges against him last month, while he was in Paris for three concerts -- a visit during which the French government also awarded him its prestigious Legion d'Honneur decoration.
Since Croatia declared independence in 1991, some groups have attempted to rehabilitate aspects of the Ustasha regime. Supporters are sometimes seen in football stadiums giving the Nazi salute.
Last month FIFA launched a probe against international defender Josip Simunic for appearing to lead fans into Ustasha-era chants after his team qualified for the World Cup.
Dylan, who played back-to-back concerts in Serbia and Croatia in 2010, rose to prominence in the 1960s partly for his support of the US civil rights movement.
Men and women really are wired differently:
Researchers found that many of the connections in a typical male brain run between the front and the back of the same side of the brain, whereas in women the connections are more likely to run from side to side between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.We do things differently...
This difference in the way the nerve connections in the brain are “hardwired” occurs during adolescence when many of the secondary sexual characteristics such as facial hair in men and breasts in women develop under the influence of sex hormones, the study found.
The researchers believe the physical differences between the two sexes in the way the brain is hardwired could play an important role in understanding why men are in general better at spatial tasks involving muscle control while women are better at verbal tasks involving memory and intuition.
At least one sector of the Afghan economy seems to be doing well:
After 12 years of occupation by U.S. military forces, Afghanistan set a record for growing opium poppies in 2013, according to newly released data from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.There's always a market somewhere...
“Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan reached a sobering record high in 2013,” said the UNODC. “According to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey, cultivation amounted to some 209,000 hectares, outstripping the earlier record in 2007 of 193,000 hectares, and representing a 36 per cent increase over 2012.”
Say, whatever happened to liberals who used to worry about expanding Presidential power?
It seems like only yesterday—it was only yesterday—when it was a liberal shibboleth to worry about the overweening and imperial presidency. From Vietnam to the NSA leaks, they mistrusted presidents as invaders of rights and invaders of countries. It was liberals who objected to strong Executive control over the budget. The Office of Management and Budget got itself so disliked for its discipline on congressional spending initiatives that Ralph Nader’s organization founded a purpose-built group, OMB Watch, to monitor and protest the agency’s work. (OMB Watch was renamed and repurposed just this year.) Earlier on, it was liberal Democrats who broke the former tight control of House chairmen over their committees, and the tight control of the two super-committees, Rules and Ways and Means, over the lesser committees. For 40 years, the liberal version of institutional reform meant strengthening Congress against the president and the backbenchers in Congress against congressional leaders.Misuse of executive authority is only bad when the other side does it...
We’re all familiar with the rule “Where you stand depends on where you sit.” Liberals favored restraint in the 1930s, judicial activism in the 1960s, restraint again in the 2000s, and—very likely—they will rediscover activism as the courts veer leftward after 2020.
Was Paul Walker's death a case of life imitating art?
Speed was a factor in the crash, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office said. A 45 mph speed limit sign was attached to the light pole knocked down by the Porsche.Video of what might have been Walker's final moments can be seen here.
The car, which sold for $450,000 when new, is a notoriously difficult vehicle to handle, even for professional drivers, according to Autoweek magazine. A top driver called it "scary," the magazine reported Sunday. It is powered by a V-10, 610-hp engine.
Jim Torp, a car enthusiast who was at the charity event that Walker attended before the wreck, said Walker was smiling as he got into the Porsche minutes earlier.
This seems to be a recurring feature in Socialist "paradises":
Venezuela's second massive power outage of the year plunged much of the nation into darkness on Monday night, prompting renewed talk of sabotage from President Nicolas Maduro's government and cries of incompetence from its foes.Actually, for a country run by a Fidel Castro wanna-be, it is...
Power went off in Caracas and other cities around the country soon after 8 p.m. local time (0030 GMT), to the intense annoyance of residents and commuters.
"I feel so frustrated, angry and impotent," said sales adviser Aneudys Acosta, 29, trudging through the rain along a street in the capital after having to leave the disrupted underground transport system.
"I live far away and here I am stuck under the rain. Something's going wrong that they're not sorting out. The government needs a Plan B. This is just not normal."
Monday, December 02, 2013
Some energy producers are still more equal than others:
The Obama administration is playing favorites when it comes to charging energy companies for illegally killing protected birds, according to Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).Pay no attention to the favoritism behind the scenes...
Vitter said that the Justice Department’s (DOJ) $1 million settlement with Duke Energy, the first of its kind against a wind energy firm, is just a token measure meant to distract from its pattern of penalizing fossil fuel companies for the same charges.
“It looks like DOJ is making an example out of this particular case to shift the focus away from the Administration’s bias of using the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to go after oil, gas and other businesses,” he said in a statement on Monday.
“The instances of wind energy’s favoritism have been so egregious under this Administration, and DOJ’s settlement and response still don’t explain the Administration’s obvious bias.”
Why the retirees are heading to Latin America:
The exodus south is being driven by a confluence of factors. The baby boom generation – the largest in history – is reaching retirement age, and millions are looking for places to spend the next phase of their lives. As the most educated, well-traveled, and adventurous generation in history, many of these boomers are deciding to retire outside the country – including in Latin America.the baby boomers are leaving home-and taking their money with them...
They're also looking for places that will allow them to stretch their 401(k)s after they lost a lot of money in the last stock market collapse. With the US economy remaining so tentative, and health-care costs so aggressive, retirees want to live where they can afford greens fees and where a trip to the emergency room won't bankrupt them.
The Stones of Music?
According to experts from London's Royal College of Art, some of the stones sound like bells, drums, and gongs when they are 'played' - or hit with hammers.Stonehenge! 'Tis a magic place...
Archaeologists, who have pondered why stone age man transported Bluestones 200 miles from Mynydd Y Preseli in Pembrokshire, South West Wales to Stonehenge, believe this discovery could hold the key.
A significant percentage of the rocks on Carn Menyn produce metallic sounds - like bells, gongs or tin drums - when struck with small hammerstones. Such sonic or musical rocks are referred to as 'ringing rocks' or 'lithophones'.
The Landscape & Perception project drew upon the comments of the early 'rock gong' pioneer, Bernard Fagg, a one-time curator of the Pitt Rivers Museum, in Oxford.
He suspected there were ringing rocks on or around Preseli and suggested that this was the reason why so many Neolithic monuments exist in the region – with the sounds making the landscape sacred to Stone Age people.
This is your brain. This is your brain being tricked:
Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London and former drugs advisor to the U.K. government, said the drug would be consumed as a cocktail drink and targets neurotransmitters in the brain to mimic the pleasurable effects of drunkenness, The Independent reported.I wonder if Huey Lewis would approve:
It could quickly be reversed by taking an antidote, allowing users to sober up and drive home or even return to work after a faux-boozy lunch.
"I’ve done the prototype experiments myself many years ago, where I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist," Nutt told the BBC. “That’s what really gave us the idea. There’s no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain.”
Howard Dean is upset that some dare to think his party's leader isn't competent:
“This really feeds into the president’s competence,” Santorum said of the ACA’s malfunctioning website. “Obamacare is certainly front and center, what’s going on in the Middle East is another area. There’s a whole group of issues now that people are questioning.”How? By revealing that he is, in fact, all too human?
“That’s right-wing talking points against this president,” Dean replied. “From day one, they’ve tried to undermine him as a human being.”
Here come the delivery drones:
The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less, the world's largest Internet retailer said. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take "some number of years" as Amazon develops the technology further and waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules and regulations, the company added.Well, they can certainly deliver:
Bezos told 60 Minutes that the service could be up and running in as few as four years — although he noted that he is an optimist when it comes to such things.
"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," the company said.
Where the railroads have really been getting their money:
The nation’s freight rail network has been the quiet recipient of more than $600 million in federal investment during the Obama administration.Atlas didn't shrug; he was paid...
According to Federal Railroad Administration numbers, at least half that amount has gone to projects that benefit the nation’s four largest railroads, the same companies at the heart of the industry’s ubiquitous “Freight Rail Works” campaign.
That doesn’t even include tens of millions more that states have contributed for additional investment in ports and high-speed passenger trains that’s boosted the nation’s freight railroads.
Witness its effects:
The decline in voter participation occurs as cities are becoming ever more one-party constituencies. Two decades ago a large chunk of the top twelve cities were run by Republicans, but today none are. America’s cities have evolved into a political monoculture, with the Democratic share growing by 20 percent or more in most of the largest urban counties.People get the government they deserve. Also, if republicans want to reverse this trend, they really do need to find a way to recapture the cities the way they broke the "solid south."
Under such circumstances the worst miscues by liberals are largely ignored or excused as politics and media take place in a kind of left-wing echo chamber. Even the meltdown of the healthcare law, which has hurt the president’s approval rating in national polls, seems to have not impacted his popularity in urban areas.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
The heat is not on?
Global warming has been blamed for every recent catastrophe including wildfires in America even when they have been started by human activity, Hurricane Sandy, and even for the recent rash of cold spells that have descended upon much of the world.The problem with "the science is settled" is that it usually isn't...
However, even in the midst of their support for the theory, they appear to have acknowledged there are serious issues with claiming that record cold winters are the result of global warming. In the 1990s, they frequently made calls for governments to take steps to issue regulations to curtail “global warming.” However, they now generally do not use the phrase any longer, instead calling on combating “climate change.”
It is unclear exactly how that is supposed to happen since the very definition itself means that if the weather changes from one day to the next that is climate change.
However, scientists are now beginning to rethink their climate change models and are seriously discussing the possibility the earth is entering into a period of global cooling.
Environmentalist Lawrence Solomon writing in the Financial Post cites the fact that solar activity is currently decreasing at one of the fastest rates as anytime the last 10,000 years. Because of this, he says many scientists are actually reverting from the mantra of global warming and are now subscribing to the possibility of global cooling as occurring.
“Now an increasing number of scientists are swinging back to the thinking of the 1960s and 1970s,” Solomon writes. “The global cooling hypothesis may have been right after all, they say. Earth may be entering a new Little Ice Age.”
The age of the animal hospice has arrived:
“They’re in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners,” said Dr. Mary Gardner, co-founder of Lap of Love, a Florida-based company that is one of the leaders in a small but growing market. “They’re allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children,” added Dr. Gardner, who refers to a pet’s owner as its “mom” or “dad,” and has since relocated her own practice to Los Angeles. “I’ve been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour.”Pets are people, too...
Lap of Love’s business has blossomed since 2010 from two providers to more than 68 vet partners in 18 states. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group started in 2009, now has 200 members, mostly vets, but also several family therapists, lawyers and an animal sanctuary in Northern California that takes in and provides holistic healing and hospice for terminally ill and elderly pets.
“There is a formal end-of-life movement, a formal hospice movement,” said Dr. Eden Myers, a veterinarian in Kentucky who runs JustVetData.com, which tracks industry trends. Of the providers who do this, she said: “They’re everywhere.”
There's something happening here:
In the biggest show of anger yet against President Yanukovych’s decision to pursue a deal with Vladimir Putin, protesters defied a hastily passed law banning demonstrations. They gathered in huge numbers, with 500,000 believed to have taken to the streets of the capital, Kiev.The Ukrainians want the EU; their government doesn't. Sooner or later, something's going to give.
Waiting for the next bubble to burst:
Robert Shiller, who won the esteemed award with two other Americans for research into market prices and asset bubbles, pinpointed the U.S. stock market and Brazilian property market as areas of concern.Bailouts? or just a big bust?
"I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets," Shiller told Sunday's Der Spiegel magazine. "That could end badly," he said.
"I am most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market. Also because our economy is still weak and vulnerable," he said, describing the financial and technology sectors as overvalued.
The press corps feels left out:
Aides to Mr Obama stress that US administrations and the press corps have been arguing about access to the commander-in-chief for several decades.Propaganda isn't as fun as it used to be...
However, they have been accused of shutting out journalists more frequently than ever before. On the very first day of Mr Obama's presidency, he retook the oath of office behind closed doors after stumbling over his words during his inauguration ceremony.
And his White House has taken advantage of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, to publish an unprecedented number of officially-approved pictures. The protest letter from media groups accused them of “replacing independent photojournalism with visual press releases.”
Outlets such as USA Today and McClatchy newspapers have announced they will not publish the “hand-out” photographs distributed by the White House.
Scientific censorship in Canada:
Hundreds of federal scientists said in a survey that they had been asked to exclude or alter technical information in government documents for non-scientific reasons, and thousands said they had been prevented from responding to the media or the public.If you like your research, you can keep it...
Twenty four per cent of respondents said they “sometimes” or “often” were asked to exclude or alter technical information in federal government documents for non-scientific reasons. Most often, the request came from their direct supervisors, followed by business or industry, other government departments, politically appointed staff and public interest advocates.
President Obama can take comfort that his own approval ratings are higher:
A new Economist/YouGov.com poll put the approval rating of Congress at a historic low of 6 percent. A December 2012 Gallup poll comparing Congress' approval ratings to other occupations had car salespeople at the bottom at 8 percent and Congress at 10 percent. Now Congress is the cellar dweller.And that's when Congress actually does something...
“What Americans are sure about is how they feel about Congress in general. They don’t like it, and haven’t liked it for a while,” said the poll. “But Congress’s approval rating in this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll matches its all-time low. Just 6 percent approve of the way Congress is handling its job. 72 percent disapprove.”
“Only 10 percent of Democrats, 7 percent of Republicans, and 3 percent of independents approve of Congress.”
Well, I feel better now:
“Unlike similar disputes in the South China Sea, the direct involvement of the U.S. through obligations under their security treaty with Japan raises the stakes,” stated a report last year from the Royal United Services Institute, a British defense research institute. "Increased Chinese military capability in the region which has already fuelled concerns in Japan and the U.S. means that the potential for an incident involving military forces has increased. Given the substantial economic interdependence of the three countries, the impact could be very significant and have global consequences.”Everybody just stay calm...
America's nuclear launch codes literally amounted to nothing:
Dr. Bruce G. Blair, worked as a Minuteman launch officer between 1970 and 1974. He has written several articles about nuclear command and control systems.Zero the Hero, or Zero the Destroyer? At least we never had to find out...
In a paper called Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark, he wrote that Strategic Air Command 'remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders.'
Incredibly, he also writes that the vital combination for America's nuclear deterrent was even helpfully noted down for the officers.
'Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel,' Dr Blair wrote.
What happened to kids' football?
During the 2012-13 season, boys’ participation in 11-player high school football declined to the lowest level since 2005-06, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. Football, however, remained the most popular high school sport.The current behavior of some of the sport's pros hasn't helped the game's reputation, either. Still, football is by nature a contact sport, and a hundred years ago it was quite a rough game. So I suppose this is progress, of a sort.
USA Football, an umbrella organization partially funded by the NFL, estimated the number of children ages 6 to 14 playing tackle football decreased from 3 million in 2010 to 2.8 million in 2011. The National Sporting Goods Association reported that tackle football numbers dropped 11 percent since 2011.
“There’s a natural ebb and flow in the popularity of sports but I do think that the concern about concussions, concern about the brain injuries, is also a major cause for concern in parents,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, co-director of NorthShore University HealthSystem’s Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill., and Pop Warner’s chief medical officer.
Added neurologist Dr. Robert Cantu: “I think that’s purely a reaction to parents becoming aware of both post-concussion syndrome and later-life consequences.”
The legacy of the baby boomers:
The youngest baby boomers, born in the last year when anybody thought it was hip to like Lyndon Johnson, are turning 50. We'd be sad about getting old if we weren't too busy remarrying younger wives, reviving careers that hit glass ceilings when children arrived and renewing prescriptions for drugs that keep us from being sad. And we'll never retire. We can't. The mortgage is underwater. We're in debt up to the Rogaine for the kids' college education. And it serves us right—we're the generation who insisted that a passion for living should replace working for one.The future is them?
Now the American baby boom is the world's future. Everyone on the planet will turn into us eventually, as soon as families get excessively happy and start feeling too much affection for their kids.