Archive for November, 2006
26 Nov 2006

Vegas Doomed By Proximity to California

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Reader Kevin writes Vin Surynowicz:

“Here in rural Hillsboro, Texas, people still smoke openly, many of them indoors; many inside their own shops. … All our restaurants allow smoking. There are public ashtrays at the front doors of the county courthouse. Tobacco puritanism just hasn’t caught on here.

“My explanation for this is twofold: 1) Pompous people from Dallas, 65 miles away, can’t afford to move here and commute, and b) the masses of economic refugees from socialist California aren’t impacting Texas quite as badly as Nevada…

“You say the gang of New Puritans will not drain and strangle Vegas within five years, and you project a lengthy decades-long death rattle for the city. I disagree. I visited Vegas roughly a year ago, and I was disgusted by how much the Strip has morphed into a pricey Galleria, a giant boutique. In five years, I predict Vegas will already be feeling the pinch of a severe tourist downturn.

“I don’t think it will require better flights to Amsterdam or the Caribbean. One smart U.S. city with gambling could supplant Vegas pretty quickly, especially if it’s an established poker haven.

“My money is on Biloxi, which will be aggressively rebuilding itself soon.”

I can see the TV ads now, Kevin, suitably illustrated with color footage of tourists happily engaging in the specified activities on the sparkling Gulf Coast, while their opposite numbers are shown in grainy black-and-white footage here in Sin City being clubbed to the ground by Metro’s “New Year’s Eve Squad,” shot down by the Baby’s Daddy Removal Team out in Southwest 11, or herded into Paddy wagons: “Tobacco: banned in Vegas, still welcome in Biloxi! Prostitution: illegal in Vegas, recently legalized in Biloxi! Hashish bars: still banned in Vegas, recently re-legalized in Biloxi! Handguns: registered in Vegas, welcomed in Biloxi!”

26 Nov 2006

Fine Art as Advertising

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Catherine Howard, 5th wife of Henry VIII (c.1520 – executed 13 February 1542)

Second annual contest for humorous modification (via Photoshop) of famous art works into contemporary ads.

25 Nov 2006

General Crook’s Tactics in Afghanistan

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General George Crook (1828-1890)

Jim Dunnigan’s Strategy Page sees a parallel to today’s battle between the American Army and barbarian Taliban tribesmen in the Afghan wilderness with the US Army’s 19th century struggle to subdue hostile Indians. The author suggests that today’s Army adopt the tactics and diplomacy of General George Crook.

Crook relied primarily on diplomacy, making a reputation among the Indians for honesty in negotiations, while his diplomacy was backed-up by overwhelming superiority of armed force. Crook brought the enemy to bay by a system of alliances with rival tribes, and by exploiting his greater capacities for movement and supply. US cavalry could move and strike hostile villages in winter time, when the loss of shelter and supplies would prove a devastating blow to the normally elusive enemy.

Read the whole thing.

24 Nov 2006

Escaped Champion Whippet Becomes Urban Legend

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In the nine months since escaping her travel cage at Kennedy airport to answer the call of the wild, Vivi the wayward whippet has joined the Central Park coyote, high-rise tiger, Harlem Meer caiman and Molly the fugitive feline in New York’s ever-growing pantheon of urban animal legends.

She also was reported dozens of times, roaming cemeteries with other dogs, or hanging around stores in Queens, in some cases miles from the tarmac where she disappeared while awaiting a flight home to California on Feb. 15. A day earlier, she had won an award of merit at the annual Westminster Kennel Club show, the Super Bowl of dogdom.

Vivi’s owners, Jil Walton and Paul Lepiane, offered a reward for Vivi’s return but kept a low profile. This week, their lawyer, Joyce Randazzo, said they still hope to recover the sleek, 4-year-old brindle and white whippet, known formally as Champion Bohem C’est la Vie, and the reward, an unspecified amount, still stands.

According to a map published Nov. 18 by The New York Times, Vivi was reported at more than 45 different locations prior to Aug. 7, when the sightings suddenly stopped, raising fears that she might be dead or had left the area.

Richard Gentles, director of administration for Animal Care and Control of New York City, said his organization dispatched rescue teams after “five or six calls” on Vivi in the past couple of months, but all proved negative.

“For a dog like that to be able to survive this long would be very difficult unless somebody picked it up,” he said. “I hope it’s true that somebody has the dog and doesn’t recognize it. It does happen.”

Meanwhile, the search continues, and on Wednesday, a volunteer group that devotes itself to finding Vivi reported a new lead — an anonymous caller who had seen her neighbor with a dog that resembled the elusive canine.

Read the whole thing.

24 Nov 2006

Not Ready To Go Home

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Jack Army tells the domestic defeatists that he’s not ready to go home. He’d rather fight militant Islam in the Middle East than on American soil.

I have read a number of blog posts, and news articles, editorals and the like, telling everyone who’ll listen…. er…. read, that we need to bring the troops home from Iraq. Big mistake, this Iraq war, and we need to stop throwing good money after bad, stop wasting the lives of our troops and blah blah blah.

Sorry, I am just frustrated about all this. I am just amazed that people want to just stop what we are doing and bring all our troops home after all we’ve done so far and all that is left to do. Seriously, it is amazing what is going on in this country and I’m so lucky to be a part of it. These people really want to live better lives and they are trying hard to do so. I feel like we owe it to them, to folks from other countries who are watching this, and to the troops who have already sacrificed for this, to continue to see this thing through.

What frustrates me most of all is the number of Americans that are rooting for us to lose. From media, to politicians and political pundits, to folks who just have no clue but put on airs of knowing all, there is a definite segment of the American population who genuinely wants us to lose this war. The whole “it’s a mistake” and “based on lies” memes are just ridiculous and aren’t based in reality, rather, they are based on misguided dreams of what life should be like. I hate to burst any bubbles here, but war is a part of life, and when bad people do bad things, war just might be the best way to stop them. War just might be the best way to free millions of people from oppressive dictatorship or repressive religious zealots. Especially when those folks have either declared war on us, or have aided and abetted those who are attacking us. I’ll not list all the terrorist attacks of the last quarter century, that list is posted plenty of places, but I will say that it is obvious that we’ve been drawn into a war with an enemy that is too happy to kill innocents, to flaunt the accepted laws of warfare, disregard the conventions and treaties protecting non-combatants and will just as soon kill a child as a Soldier.

And Americans want us to stop fighting that enemy? Why? So they can rest, recover, rearm, re-equip, retrain, re-infiltrate, and attack us at home… again?

There’s an argument being circulated, and has been for awhile now, that fighting in Iraq is creating more terrorists. It’s a load of crap. Sorry to be blunt, but that’s the truth. What creates terrorists is a societal acceptance of terrorism as a tool for political or social change… no, control. When we allow terrorism to change our laws, our lifestyles, our sense of security, we lose. We lose our freedom, our rights, our security and we give all the power over those things to terrorists who have no desire to be fair, kind or just. They just want power. They want things to go the way they want them to go and they don’t care who they hurt or kill in order to get their way.

I’d rather fight them here, in another country, away from my family and my fellow countrymen. More than that, I’d rather defeat them here, in a country trying hard to be free, trying hard to be secure, trying hard to be lead by good people rather than terrorists in politicians clothing.

Please tell your congressman than I’m not ready to go home.

Hat tip to Seneca the Younger.

24 Nov 2006

Closing Down This Year’s Dai Token Ichi (Great Japanese Sword Show)

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Close of 19th Dai Token Ichi (leading Japanese Sword Show) held October 27-29, 2006 at the Tokyo Bijutsu Club – Pt. 1 – 2:57 video — Pt. 2 – 0:51 video

Yes, it’s just a pair of videos of the Japanese dealers packing up their merchandise at the show’s end in preparation for departure, but we didn’t get to go this year, and it is intriguing for Nihonto enthusiasts to catch even a glimpse of the swords offered for sale at this event.

24 Nov 2006

Ten Best Hubble Photographs

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Nebula NGC 2392 – the Eskimo

Daily Mail: Ten Best Hubble Photographs.

23 Nov 2006

Ullulating Imams Ejected By US Airways

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Ann Coulter reports:

Six imams removed from a US Airways flight from Minneapolis to Phoenix are calling on Muslims to boycott the airline. If only we could get Muslims to boycott all airlines, we could dispense with airport security altogether.

Witnesses said the imams stood to do their evening prayers in the terminal before boarding, chanting “Allah, Allah, Allah” — coincidentally, the last words heard by hundreds of airline passengers on 9/11 before they died.

Witnesses also said that the imams were talking about Saddam Hussein, and denouncing America and the war in Iraq. About the only scary preflight ritual the imams didn’t perform was the signing of last wills and testaments.

After boarding, the imams did not sit together and some asked for seat belt extensions, although none were morbidly obese. Three of the men had one-way tickets and no checked baggage.

Also they were Muslims.

The idea that a Muslim boycott against US Airways would hurt the airline proves that Arabs are utterly tone-deaf. This is roughly the equivalent of Cindy Sheehan taking a vow of silence.

And Charles Johnson links a nincompoop MSNBC talking head who compares the ejected Saracens to Rosa Parks.

23 Nov 2006

Turkeys Trying To Flee New Jersey

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Train Station security cameras at Ramsay, New Jersey captured images of an unusual group of travellers.

AP:

Some wild turkeys, it appears, were trying to get out of New Jersey before Thanksgiving Day.

A spokesman for the NJ Transit said train officials reported a dozen or so wild turkeys waiting on a station platform in Ramsey, about 20 miles northwest of New York City, on Wednesday afternoon. The line travels to Suffern, N.Y.

“For a moment, it looked like the turkeys were waiting for the next outbound train,” said Dan Stessel, a spokesman for NJ Transit. “Clearly, they’re trying to catch a train and escape their fate.”

Transit workers followed the bird’s movements on surveillance cameras. “I have no idea how they got there,” Stessel said.

A Ramsey police dispatcher said the department had received three calls about the traveling turkeys who also were blamed for causing morning rush hour traffic problems on a roadway.

“From time to time, I’ve heard calls that there are turkeys on the loose,” said Erik Endress, president of the Ramsey Rescue Squad, a volunteer group. “Maybe they’re trying to make a break.”

23 Nov 2006

Polly Toynbee, Not Churchill

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The Guardian reports that Britain’s clueless Conservative Party is contemplating trying to outflank Labour… to the left!

One of David Cameron’s key policy advisers will urge the party today to abandon its Churchillian and “out of date” ideas about the welfare state, the Guardian has learned. Greg Clark, who is overhauling the party’s approach to poverty at the Tory leader’s request, will urge Conservatives to look to the (leftwing) Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee rather than the wartime leader.

His proposals are likely to infuriate many in the grassroots – and in the Tory press – but they suggest the party is seeking to outflank the government in surprising areas, as they have already done by campaigning as champions of the NHS.

Mr Clark, a shadow minister and confidant of the Tory leader who has been working on the party’s comprehensive policy review, argues that the Tories must attack inequality.

In a paper being published today, he writes: “The traditional Conservative vision of welfare as a safety net encompasses another outdated Tory nostrum – that poverty is absolute, not relative. Churchill’s safety net is at the bottom: holding people at subsistence level, just above the abyss of hunger and homelessness. It is the social commentator Polly Toynbee who supplies imagery that is more appropriate for Conservative social policy in the twenty first century.”

What Britain needs is a return to red-blooded Thatcherism, not a cowardly revival of 19th century Bismarckian-style efforts to compete with leftism in bribery of the canaille.

23 Nov 2006

Strangers on My Flight

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Sinatra song updated.

link

23 Nov 2006

Study Finds Human Genetic Variation Ten Times Greater Than Previously Supposed

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Independent:

Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind.

The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome – the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual ” letters” of the genome.

It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.

Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or “book of life”, is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.

The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought – which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases.

The studies published today have found that instead of having just two copies of each gene – one from each parent – people can carry many copies, but just how many can vary between one person and the next.

The studies suggest variations in the number of copies of genes is normal and healthy. But the scientists also believe many diseases may be triggered by an abnormal loss or gain in the copies of some key genes.

Another implication of the finding is that we are more different to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, than previously assumed from earlier studies. Instead of being 99 per cent similar, we are more likely to be about 96 per cent similar.

22 Nov 2006

Anent that 92 Year Old Lady

An Open Letter to Drug Czar William Bennett from the late Milton Friedman.

92 Year Old Lady Shot By Police

22 Nov 2006

The Meaning of Thanksgiving

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Landing on Plymouth Rock

Last year, Mike Franc, at Human Events, identified the real reason for America’s annual Thanksgiving celebration.

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

Just how did the Pilgrims solve the problem of famine? In addition to receiving help from the local Indians in farming, they decided allow the private ownership of individual plots of land.

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit…that the taking away of property… would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

The real story of Thanksgiving is the triumph of capitalism and individualism over collectivism and socialism, which is the summation of the story of America.


The First Thanksgiving

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