Archive for May, 2012
27 May 2012

Mystery Photo

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(click on picture for larger image)

I found several thumbnails of this image on British, Swedish, and Chinese web-sites, but could not get to the original postings. I have no idea how Fred Lapides comes up with certain images.

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UPDATE, 5/29:

Commenter Sydney Duodenenum refers us to this Russian video:

26 May 2012

The Benefits of a Hereditary House

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The Countess of Mar addressing the House of Lords.

Lord Montararat, in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe, opposes reforming the House of Lords alleging the existence of some mystical connection between the conservative nature of the institution and Britain’s historic greatness:

When Wellington thrashed Bonaparte,
As every child can tell,
The House of Peers, throughout the war,
Did nothing in particular,
And did it very well:
Yet Britain set the world ablaze
In good King George’s glorious days!

He may very well have been right. Certainly, Parliamentary Reform in 1911, and afterwards, has been a hallmark of a period of astonishing decline.

The Independent, on Friday, remarked on the remarkable abilities of some hereditary peers to bring levels of practical experience and unusual expertise on subjects and in forms never found among professional politicians.

The main argument against reforming the House of Lords is that there are people in it who would be unlikely to get elected but bring a specialised knowledge that the average politician lacks. The truth of this was brought home by a question printed in yesterday’s edition of Hansard from the Countess of Mar, who is in Parliament because she is the elder heir proportionate of her father, the 30th Earl of Mar, who died in 1975. He inherited the title from his second cousin once removed, both being descendants of the sister of the 27th Earl – as you probably already knew. The Countess is a farmer. Who else would table a question asking: “What testing is carried out in addition to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto and Borrelia afzelii for tick-borne diseases including Bartonellosis, Ehrlichiosis, Borrelia garinii, Babesiosis, Louping ill and Q-fever, and for other zoonoses such as tick-borne encephalitis, Boutonneuse fever, Tularemia and Rocky Mountain spotted fever…”? The minister’s answer was quite long, but can be summarised as “it depends”.

26 May 2012

The Young Obama

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The Choom Gang

Buzzfeed has had a peek into David Maraniss’s forthcoming biography, Barack Obama: The Story (available June 19th), and found that the path to presidency for the current incumbent started with membership in the leading group of stoners at Punahoa School.

Obama’s circle of friends was known as the “Choom Gang,” “to choom” meant to smoke pot.

26 May 2012

More Than All the Tea in China

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Ultimate Guitar reports what has to count has to represent some kind of record for litigious overreach.

It’s no secret that LimeWire was once a hotbed of peer-to-peer music piracy, but the RIAA has now attempted to sue it for $72 trillion – more money than exists in the world today.

LimeWire was shut down in October 2010, but litigation continues from music bodies around the world, including Merlin which represents independent labels.

The RIAA told a court that it identified over 11,000 American songs that were being illegally shared, and that it should be compensated for every individual download of the tracks.

However, its claim for $72 trillion is 20 percent higher than the combined wealth of the entire world, which is $60 trillion according to the NME.

Don’t run to your bank yet. The judge in the case dismissed the figure, and said the music industry is only entitled to sue LimeWire per song, rather than for every individual download.

This could still be substantial sum of money. At the proposed figure of $150,000 per song, LimeWire could be forced to pay a $1.65 billion fine.

Via LifeHacker.

25 May 2012

Good For a Smile

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The Drones Club has a web-page which generates a P.G. Wodehouse gem every time you refresh it.

Sample: He looked haggard and careworn, like a Borgia who has suddenly remembered that he has forgotten to shove cyanide in the consomme, and the dinner-gong due any moment.

Carry On, Jeeves (1925) “Clustering round Young Bingo”

Hat tip to Walter Olson.

24 May 2012

Canadian Mounties Guard England’s Queen For the Second Time

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As a compliment to Canada, repeating a gesture made in 1897 at the time of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (“Royal” only since 1904) is being given the honor of replacing the Queen’s Life Guard for twenty-four hours.

(The Telegraph has it wrong.)

The 15 Mounties will be wearing blue uniforms and will be armed with lances.

Hat tip to Rafal Heydel-Mankoo.

24 May 2012

Prominent Harvard Alumnus Updates His Profile

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The Unabomber — Ted Kaczyski, Harvard ’62

Yahoo News:

[Kaczynski] lists his occupation as “prisoner” and says his awards are “Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.”

It’s an update the alumni association now regrets.

“While all members of the class who submit entries are included, we regret publishing Kaczynski’s references to his convictions and apologize for any distress that it may have caused others,” the Harvard Alumni Association said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The alumni association said all class members, including Kaczynski, were invited to submit entries for the class report, distributed for reunion activities during commencement week.

No 50th Reunion in Cambridge for Ted though.

24 May 2012

Ten Most Painful Stings

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Number 9: the Tarantula hawk wasp, Pepsis hemipepsis: “Blinding, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.”

Entomologist Justin Schmidt, who boasts of having experienced the stings of 157 insects, identifies and describes the top ten most painful.

Interesting, but one wonders how certain spiders, like the Australian funnel-web, Atrax robustus, for instance, would compare. Its bite induces convulsions, paralysis, and death, and the victim spouts blue saliva.

The all-time champion painful sting is probably really the one administered by fish of the genus Synanceia, stonefish. Stonefish stings are so painful that victims apparently regularly plead for the injured limb to be amputated.

23 May 2012

Revenge of Darth Lucas

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Movies.com reports that even the later-era high-minded George Lucas can be moved to an act of revenge worthy of a full-fledged Sith Lord.

[F]or four decades Lucas has owned a large swath of land in Marin County in the North San Francisco Bay and has spent the past few years trying to transform the ranch on it into a massive, nearly 300,000 square foot, state-of-the-art movie studio complete with day care center, restaurant, gym and a 200-car garage. His neighbors, however, have rejected it every step of the way. Despite the promise of bringing $300 million worth of economic activity to the area, the already-well off neighbors are worried about years’ worth of construction activity and the additional foot traffic it will bring into their neighborhood once completed.

The local homeowners association has been such a thorn in Lucas’ side that he’s decided to abandon the studio construction entirely…

So what is George Lucas going to do with his property now that he’s tired of his rich neighbors putting up a not-in-my-backyard stink? He wants to transform the property into low-income housing, naturally, ending their official statement with this zinger, “If everyone feels that housing is less impactful on the land, then we are hoping that people who need it the most will benefit.”

(maniacal laughter echoes through the canyons)

23 May 2012

Objectivist C

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FDIV has the scoop on a programming language that is bound to be a hit with libertarian nerds.

Objectivist-C was invented by Russian-American programmer Ope Rand. Based on the principle of rational self-interest, Objectivist-C was influenced by Aristotle’s laws of logic and Smalltalk. In an unorthodox move, Rand first wrote about the principles of Objectivist-C in bestselling novels, and only later set them down in non-fiction. …

In Objectivist-C, an object — every object — is an end in itself, not a means to the ends of others. It must live for its own sake, neither sacrificing itself to others nor sacrificing others to itself.

In Objectivist-C, there are not only properties, but also property rights. Consequently, all properties are @private; there is no @public property.

In Objectivist-C, each program is free to acquire as many resources as it can, without interference from the operating system. …

In Objectivist-C, there are no exceptions.

Hat tip to Tim of Angle.

23 May 2012

“Mutually Beneficial Arrangements”

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A liberal academic classmate has been giving me crap again on the class email list for letting Blogads run that “Mutually Beneficial Arrangements” ad in NYM’s right-hand column.

When the notice to review that proposed new ad came in a few months ago, I had conflicting attitudes. On libertarian grounds, I thought I ought to let it run. It did seem to constitute an amusing commentary on society’s morals today after all as well. But I really am also pretty stuffy and I was not entirely comfortable with resembling the Village Voice and lending aid and comfort to the Oldest Profession.

I actually shilly-shallied about making up my mind on that policy issue and then, lo and behold! I found that Blogads actually had it up and running without my explicitly granting permission. I looked into the whole thing, and I was amused to find that NYM readers were clicking through that ad in much, much larger numbers than usual. So I concluded that my readers were also finding amusement and food for thought in that ad.

Readership interest seemed to me to argue decisively for the libertarian side, and I refrained from eliminating the ad.

HuffPo actually did a long feature on what has become a booming business in the Age of Obama last year.

Many 20-somethings are beginning their adult lives shouldering substantial amounts of student loan debt. According to Mark Kantrowitz, who publishes the financial aid websites Fastweb.com and Finaid.org, while the average 2011 graduate finished school with about $27,200 in debt, many are straining to pay off significantly greater loans.

Enter the sugar daddy, sugar baby phenomenon. This particular dynamic preceded the economic meltdown, of course. Rich guys well past their prime have been plunking down money for thousands of years in search of a tryst or something more with women half their age — and women, willingly or not, have made themselves available. With the whole process going digital, women passing through a system of higher education that fosters indebtedness are using the anonymity of the web to sell their wares and pay down their college loans.

“Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded,” says Brandon Wade, the 41-year-old founder of Seeking Arrangement. Of the site’s approximately 800,000 members, Wade estimates that 35 percent are students. “College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time.” …
Wade, who started Seeking Arrangement back in 2006, can easily identify with the Jacks of the world. He created the site for fellow high-net-worth individuals who “possess high standards but don’t have a lot of time to date the traditional way.”

Wade, whose legal name is Brandon Wey, says he changed his name to better appeal to his clientele. “They’re more familiar with Hugh Hefner than with some Asian guy from Singapore,” he explains. Wade got the idea for Seeking Arrangement more than 20 years ago, while in college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Watching from the sidelines as his beautiful dorm mates pursued significantly older, moneyed men, Wade fantasized about someday becoming one such man. After business school at MIT and stints at General Electric and Microsoft, Wade dabbled in various start-ups before finally creating his own.

Awkward and shy, he started Seeking Arrangement in part because of his own inability to attract younger women. “To get the attention of the girl I really wanted to meet, I was kind of at the mercy of the statistics of traditional dating sites. I’d write hundreds of emails and only get one or two replies,” says Wade, who is now divorced. He says married men account for at least 40 percent of the site’s sugar daddies. Sugar babies outnumber sugar daddies by a ratio of nearly 10 to 1. Wade declined to disclose how much money he makes from the site. With more than 115,000 sugar daddies averaging $50 a month in membership fees, and some paying more to belong to the exclusive Diamond Club, it’s safe to assume Wade’s investment has more than paid off — and that’s not even including advertising revenue.

Debt-strapped college graduates weren’t included in his original business plan. But once the recession hit and more and more students were among the growing list of new site users, Wade began to target them. The company, which is headquartered in Las Vegas, now places strategic pop-up ads that appear whenever someone types “tuition help” or “financial aid” into a search engine. And over the past five years, Wade says he’s seen a 350 percent increase in college sugar baby membership — from 38,303 college sugar babies in 2007 to 179,906 college sugar babies by July of this year. The site identifies clients who might be students by the presence of a .edu email address, which the site verifies before it will allow a profile to become active. Although, it should be noted that individuals without .edu email addresses can identify as students as well.

At The Huffington Post’s request, Seeking Arrangement listed the top 20 universities attended by sugar babies on the site. They compiled the list according to the number of sugar babies who registered using their .edu email addresses or listed schools’ names on their profiles. New York University tops the list with 498 sugar babies, while UCLA comes in at No. 8 with 253, and Harvard University ranks at No. 9 with 231. The University of California at Berkeley ranks at No. 13 with 193, the University of Southern California ranks at No. 15 with 183, and Tulane University ranks at No. 20 with 163 college sugar babies. …

“I’m honestly surprised there aren’t more college students doing this,” says Jennifer, not blinking. She’s a 23-year-old recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College.

Fed up with young, unemployed men her own age, Jennifer recently began trawling for a sugar daddy to pay down about $20,000 in student loan debt. She also wouldn’t mind a clothing allowance or rent money for her studio apartment in New York’s East Village.

A week ago, she boarded a plane to Florida to spend the weekend with a 30-something banker she met on SugarDaddie.com. He told her his house was undergoing a renovation and instead drove her to a nearby hotel, where they spent the night together. …

“I realize I’m not going to have it forever,” Jennifer says, brushing her blond, wavy hair off to one side. “While I’ve still got it, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. I mean, maybe I’ll get swept off my feet. Really, anything could happen.”

It’s clear that the kind of materialist utilitarianism preached by today’s universities combines very effectively with whopping piles of tuition debt and hard economic times to popularize the philosophy expressed by blues singer Ruth Brown in this old number:

22 May 2012

Democrat Zombie Attack

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22 May 2012

Who Are the Culture Warriors?


Early American Culture War: Rep. Matthew Lyon (Republican-VT) versus Rep. Roger Griswold (Federalist-CT)

Fair-minded liberal David Sessions admits that his side customarily denies its role as aggressor in the culture wars.

[I]n both the media and among hip, moderate-to-liberal evangelicals, only the right fights the culture war. Conservatives are culture warriors, but gay marriage activists are not. Thus when the topic turns to “getting beyond the culture wars,” what is really meant is conservatives giving up or at least shutting up. We will get beyond the culture wars when the conservatives at least admit they’ve lost and decide to stop talking about this stuff so much.

And then, he turns right around and argues that cultural aggression is really just a perfectly natural and entirely legitimate expression of deeply held views in the political realm.

21 May 2012

“I Went to Princeton, Bitch”

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A rap take off on “Where I Went to School” Oneupmanship.

Very funny.

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

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