Archive for January, 2009
31 Jan 2009

Different Treatment

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Two presidents have a problem looking for a door. Warner Todd Huston illustrates just how differently these kind of minor contretemps can be reported.

31 Jan 2009

Advocating Socialism Pays Well, But Socialists Avoid Paying Taxes

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Tom Daschle, Barack Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, who is also intended to become Czar in Charge of Nationalizing America’s Health Care, has decided it would be prudent to pay some overdue back taxes.

Former Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle paid $140,000 in back taxes and interest in recent weeks – much of it due to a car and driver loaned to him for free by a friend and Democratic fundraiser.

That back-tax bill on Friday threw a stumbling block in front of his nomination as Barack Obama’s health and human services secretary.

Daschle used the Cadillac and driver around Washington while working as a consultant to a New York City private equity firm, InterMedia Advisors. He used the limo 80 percent for personal use – resulting in unreported income of more than $255,000 for the three years, Senate Finance Committee documents show.

InterMedia paid Daschle consulting fees at a rate of $1 million a year – or $83,333 a month. Daschle’s financial disclosure forms put his income from InterMedia at more than $2 million since 2005.

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He can afford it, after all, having made $5.3 million in propitiatory payments over the last two years from his intended victims.

Tom Daschle, under fire for not paying taxes, made nearly $5.3 million in the last two years, records released Friday show.

Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who President Obama has tapped to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system, was paid $220,000 to give speeches to outfits that have a vested interest in the result the work he would do once confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Among the companies and groups paying thousands of dollars a pop to book Daschle were some that stand to gain or lose the most depending on the results of Obama’s efforts to enact universal health.

31 Jan 2009

The Beatle’s Unduplicatable First Chord

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Jason Brown, Chairman of the Mathematics Department at Dalhousie University, applies math to solving a musical mystery.

Wall Street Journal

It is here, in a cluttered mathematician’s office, under blackboards jammed with equations and functional analysis, that one of Western culture’s greatest mysteries has finally been solved: Why has no one been able to replicate the first chord in The Beatles’ pop hit “A Hard Day’s Night”? …

Mr. Brown realized he could use a discrete Fourier transform, a mathematical technique for breaking up complicated signals into simpler functions and known as DFT. He used digital equipment to show the chord as a series of numbers, tens of thousands per second, and then applied a DFT to convert the chord into dozens of simpler functions, each representing a single sound frequency.

Mr. Brown knew there is no such thing as a pure tone: Each instrument emits one sound for the note played and then sounds that are multiples of that note’s frequency, as the string vibrates back on itself. Of his dozens of frequencies, some were background noise and some–the ones he wanted to ferret out–were the notes the Beatles struck.

The professor started making deductions. The loudest notes were likely Mr. McCartney’s bass. The lowest had to be the original note played, since a string can generate waves along half or a third of its length, but not twice its length. But no matter how he divvied up the notes, something didn’t fit.

It is well-documented that Mr. Harrison played a 12-string guitar for the recording of “A Hard Day’s Night.” For every guitar note played, there had to be another one octave higher, since his guitar strings were pressed down in pairs.

But three frequencies for an F note were left, none of which were an octave apart. Even if Mr. Brown assumed Mr. Lennon played one F note on his six-string guitar, Mr. Brown still had two unexplained frequencies.

After weeks of staring at six-decimal-place amplitude values, Mr. Brown suddenly remembered how, as a child, he used to stick his head inside his parents’ grand piano to see how it worked. He ran to a nearby music shop, and poked his head inside the Yamahas there.

Sure enough, there were three strings under the F key, corresponding to the three sets of harmonics he had seen. Buried under the iconic guitar chord was a piano note.

Other problems have since yielded to Mr. Brown’s mathematics. Fans have always marveled at Mr. Harrison’s guitar solo in “A Hard Day’s Night,” a rapid-fire sequence of 1/16th notes, accompanied on piano, that seemed to require superhuman dexterity.

Mr. Brown noticed that a piano is strung differently in its lower octaves, with two strings, rather than three, under each hammer. He saw only two frequencies for each piano note in the guitar solo, suggesting that the solo had been played one octave lower than the recorded version sounded. It had also been played at half-speed, he concluded, then sped up on tape to make the released version sound as if had been played faster and at a higher octave.

2:33 video

31 Jan 2009

Ivy League Graduate With Expensive Tastes Seeks a Patron

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I have no idea why he was reading “Women seeking Men” ads in Craigslist, but a college friend from Yale found it amusing and sent me a link to this current advertisement


I am a charming, polished and elegant batchelorette (sic) seeking a well-off, cultured and chivalrous gentleman. I offer my services as one highly trained in the domestic arts, including the preparation of gourmet cuisine, the organization and hosting of all manner of social events, the designing of couture clothing and the supervision and direction of all domestic tasks. I am an Ivy League graduate in Philosophy and Art History with conversational skills in French, Spanish and German. I am also a classically trained lyric soprano and have received extensive ballet training. I enjoy attending all manner of fine arts performances and I would be the perfect jewel to adorn any gentleman’s arm. I am five feet and six inches in height and am a size four, with dazzling green eyes framed by luxurious long chestnut waves. My presence in any gentleman’s home would provide a finishing touch of elegance and refinement. I have just returned from an extended tour of Continental Europe and find myself lonely without my traveling companions. Therefore, I propose an exchange of my skills and company for gentlemen who are capable of meeting the following stipulations.

As part of our budding companionship, I request the following gifts:

-designer shoes from these designers: Ferragamo, Manolo Blahnik, Louboutin. I do not particularly care for Jimmy Choo.

-health and beauty expenses, including access to a personal trainer.

-Louis Vuitton luggage.

-clothing and accessories.

– jewelry from Cartier or Tiffany’s. I prefer gold with uncolored gemstones.

-financing to devote to my budding fashion design career and other personal needs.

Surprise gifts are always welcome, but please make note of my following preferences:

-Please do not purchase any perfumes or scented products. I have a personally crafted signature fragrance and do not care for any others.

-Please do not purchase any handbags from Fendi or Gucci, because I see them far too often on the streets of New York for my taste.

– Jewelry can only be from Tiffany’s or Cartier or handcrafted by a designer with whom you have a long-standing relationship.

-I do not like red roses. If you purchase roses, they need to be a unique color, and therefore not white, yellow, pink or red. They cannot appear to be purchased from your local grocery store. Personally picked roses from your private garden, however, are welcome.

-In terms of food gifts, good wine or champagne is always appreciated. I dearly love dark chocolate truffles and milk chocolate confections. I am especially fond of peppermint and cinnamon, but do not like any kind of dried fruit. Fresh fruit, the more exotic the better, is always appreciated.

Please note that the above arrangement does not support carnal interaction. If you wish to pursue such relations, a permanent contractual agreement is required.

One tends to suspect that the poster’s resume may feature a shade or two of exaggeration, and her shopping list may be too much to hope for in exchange for some vague hosting services in these difficult economic times.

30 Jan 2009

Jack Bauer Calls President Obama

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2:02 video

Hat tip to Right Wing Video.

30 Jan 2009

Stealth Socialism

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Bad as the democrat stimulus package is on the surface, Charles Hurt notes that it contains a covert clause with far-reaching ramifications.

Buried deep inside the massive spending orgy that Democrats jammed through the House this week lie five words that could drastically undo two decades of welfare reforms.

The very heart of the widely applauded Welfare Reform Act of 1996 is a cap on the amount of federal cash that can be sent to states each year for welfare payments.

But, thanks to the simple phrase slipped into the legislation, the new “stimulus” bill abolishes the limits on the amount of federal money for the so-called Emergency Fund, which ships welfare cash to states.

“Out of any money in the Treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, there are appropriated such sums as are necessary for payment to the Emergency Fund,” Democrats wrote in Section 2101 on Page 354 of the $819 billion bill. In other words, the only limit on welfare payments would be the Treasury itself.

“This re-establishes the welfare state and creates dependency all over the place,” said one startled budget analyst after reading the line.

In addition to reopening the floodgates of dependency on federal welfare programs, the change once again deepens the dependency of state governments on the federal government.

30 Jan 2009

“A Typical, Politically Minded Proletarian”

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Lt. Gen. H.G. Martin, in his memoir of soldiering and sport in pre-War British India, Sunset From the Main (1951), recalls an unpleasant encounter on angling expedition to the Simla Hills in search of mahseer.

The steep path dropped down to the bed of the gorge past brakes of thorn and matted evergreen and across unexpected lawns where the encircling cactus reared its knotted candleabras, rigid and grotesque as submarine coral-beds. In these occasional clearings troops of brown monkeys basked, scratching in the sunshine: plebeian monkeys, vulgar, thieving, shameless, who lowered and gibbered as we passed. I do not love the brown monkey. Who has ever seen him look pleasant? A typical, politically minded proletarian, he has the Communist’s capacity for hating all creation.

30 Jan 2009

The New Politics of Hope

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Ben Stein voices outrage at the feckless irresponsibility of Congress and the newly-hatched Obama administration.

The new kind of politics of hope. Eight hours of debate in the HR to pass a bill spending $820 billion, or roughly $102 billion per hour of debate.

Only ten per cent of the “stimulus” to be spent on 2009.

Close to half goes to entities that sponsor or employ or both members of the Service Employees International Union, federal, state, and municipal employee unions, or other Democrat-controlled unions.

This bill is sent to Congress after Obama has been in office for seven days. It is 680 pages long. According to my calculations, not one member of Congress read the entire bill before this vote. Obviously, it would have been impossible, given his schedule, for President Obama to have read the entire bill.

For the amount spent we could have given every unemployed person in the United States roughly $75,000.

We could give every person who had lost a job and is now passing through long-term unemployment of six months or longer roughly $300,000.

There has been pork barrel politics since there has been politics. The scale of this pork is beyond what had ever been imagined before — and no one can be sure it will actually do much stimulation.

How do you improve the economy? You restore confidence by reducing taxes and government expenditure and by adopting policies calculated to assure a sound currency.

Under Bush, and far more under Obama already, even in his first week in office, the policy of the US Government has been to throw money out the window, assuring higher taxes, significant inflation sooner or later, and demolishing confidence. The only difference between the administrations is that the Bush administration gave federal money to the financial industry, and Obama is giving away a lot more money, primarily as a democrat dream-fulfilling shopping spree.

29 Jan 2009

Rush’s Modest Proposal

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Rush Limbaugh offers a bipartisan stimulus package idea. Rush’s proposal isn’t perfect, but it certainly makes a great deal more sense than Obama’s.

There’s a serious debate in this country as to how best to end the recession. The average recession will last five to 11 months; the average recovery will last six years. Recessions will end on their own if they’re left alone. What can make the recession worse is the wrong kind of government intervention.

I believe the wrong kind is precisely what President Barack Obama has proposed….

Yes, elections have consequences. But where’s the bipartisanship, Mr. Obama? This does not have to be a divisive issue. My proposal is a genuine compromise.

Fifty-three percent of American voters voted for Barack Obama; 46% voted for John McCain, and 1% voted for wackos. Give that 1% to President Obama. Let’s say the vote was 54% to 46%. As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009: 54% of the $900 billion — $486 billion — will be spent on infrastructure and pork as defined by Mr. Obama and the Democrats; 46% — $414 billion — will be directed toward tax cuts, as determined by me.

Then we compare. We see which stimulus actually works. This is bipartisanship! It would satisfy the American people’s wishes, as polls currently note; and it would also serve as a measurable test as to which approach best stimulates job growth.

I say, cut the U.S. corporate tax rate — at 35%, among the highest of all industrialized nations — in half. Suspend the capital gains tax for a year to incentivize new investment, after which it would be reimposed at 10%. Then get out of the way! Once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, the rest of the private sector will follow. There’s no reason to tell the American people their future is bleak. There’s no reason, as the administration is doing, to depress their hopes. There’s no reason to insist that recovery can’t happen quickly, because it can.

As a side note, this editorial makes it clear that Rush Limbaugh has become the main conservative source of leadership for the Republican Party.

29 Jan 2009

Snowy Owls in Tennessee Don’t Prove Anything

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Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)

John Hinderaker
, of Power-Line, is amused by the MSM’s ecological double standard. Changes of species’ ranges interpretable as evidence of the media’s beloved catastrophism are gleefully noted, but new appearances of sub-arctic species, like the Snowy Owl, in the Southland are just a curiosity devoid of any implications.

29 Jan 2009

“Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste”

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Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before. – Rahm Emanuel

The Wall Street Journal quotes the democrat White House Chief of Staff’s dictum in explaining what the democrat’s so-called stimulus package is all about.

Democrats in Congress are certainly taking his advice to heart. The 647-page, $825 billion House legislation is being sold as an economic “stimulus,” but now that Democrats have finally released the details we understand Rahm’s point much better. This is a political wonder that manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years.

We’ve looked it over, and even we can’t quite believe it. There’s $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that hasn’t turned a profit in 40 years; $2 billion for child-care subsidies; $50 million for that great engine of job creation, the National Endowment for the Arts; $400 million for global-warming research and another $2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects. There’s even $650 million on top of the billions already doled out to pay for digital TV conversion coupons.

Read the whole thing. You and your children and your grandchildren will be paying for it.

28 Jan 2009

“Veggie Love”

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This PETA ad was too racy for NBC and was rejected for display during the Superbowl next Sunday.

video

NBC identified 8 forms of inappropriate female-and-botanical-item contact.

28 Jan 2009

Tarpon Fishing in the 1970s

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New 53 minute video with Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Russell Chatham, and the late Richard Brautigan. Music by Jimmy Buffet.

Guy de la Vadene
was one of the film makers.

Tip from Steve Bodio.

28 Jan 2009

After the Inauguration

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Michael Ramirez/Investors Business Daily

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