Archive for September, 2013
26 Sep 2013

Harry Potter Wedding Fail

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Darcy looks down.

The Telegraph reports on problems with delivery via owl.

[A] bride’s secret plan for a barn owl to swoop to the altar with the wedding rings attached to tassels on its feet went awry when the bird had other ideas and fell asleep.

The ceremony had to be put on hold when the owl, called Darcy, took to the rafters of the 900-year-old church that was hosting the ceremony and stayed there.

It remained perched high above the guests’ heads at the Holy Cross Church in Sherston, Wilts, for an hour, during which time it dozed off.

After repeated failed attempts to coax it down, Rev Chris Bryan decided to continue the ceremony using a back-up set of rings.

He said: “It would have been absolutely superb if it worked. It was a lovely idea and it was supposed to be really stunning.

“It was a complete surprise to the groom, although the bride was in on it. It was the bride’s mother’s idea.

“The groom is into falconry as a bit of a hobby and so it was secretly arranged for two falconers to suddenly appear at the moment when the best man hands over the rings.

“This chap popped up at the front of the church next to us with a gauntlet on, as another chap appeared at the back of the church with a box.

“The owl appeared, and took a bit of coaxing to take to flight.

“It paused for a little bit, eventually saw the gauntlet, and then took off.

“But instead of landing on the arm of the man by us and delivering the rings it went up over our heads and landed up in the roof space.”

“The idea was it would be amazing and would swoop over the heads of the guests, and they’d all feel the air rushing from its wings, but it didn’t quite work like that.”

The couple and their guests were able to see the funny side, however, and there was a plan B in place, he added.

“They say never work with animals, so we had a back-up pair of rings,” Rev Bryan said.

“After a few minutes, we gave up trying to get it down and carried on. It was actually rather nice when we went up for prayers and the owl was right above us.”

The couple, from Oxfordshire, had left the church by the time Darcy was finally brought back down, with the aid of a long ladder.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

26 Sep 2013

Rand Paul: Why Doesn’t The President Take Obamacare?

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Hat tip to Sarah Jenislawski.

26 Sep 2013

Noam Chomsky Says Sarah Palin Was Right About Obama

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25 Sep 2013

Eagle Hunting Deer

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They also use eagles to take deer. (video from Daniela Imre)

Deer hunting with a Golden Eagle

25 Sep 2013

Movie: the Movie

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Seriously over-the-top parody trailer with loads of major stars making cameos.

Hat tip to Vanderleun.

24 Sep 2013

Some Days Are Like This

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24 Sep 2013

Letter From Shady Cove, Oregon

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24 Sep 2013

Lost Cities of the Upper Amazon Basin

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Boo hoo! Human economic development is ravaging the precious Amazon rain forest. Except, wait a moment, clearing rain forest vegetation is making it clear that people had cleared the same land centuries ago, cities, systems of irrigation, an entire unknown civilization once existed covering huge areas that have since been buried by the jungle.

In the academic journal Antiquity: Pre-Columbian geometric earthworks in the upper Purús: a complex society in western Amazonia.

The combination of land cleared of its rainforest for grazing and satellite survey have revealed a sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society in the upper Amazon Basin on the east side of the Andes. This hitherto unknown people constructed earthworks of precise geometric plan connected by straight orthogonal roads. Introducing us to this new civilisation, the authors show that the ‘geoglyph culture’ stretches over a region more than 250km across, and exploits both the floodplains and the uplands. They also suggest that we have so far seen no more than a tenth of it.

24 Sep 2013

Former Royal Marine With Handgun Saves 100 Lives in Nairobi

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The Daily Mail reports that a former Royal Marine, carrying a concealed handgun, happened to be drinking coffee in the Nairobi Mall at the time of the terrorist attack and was able to lend a hand, entering the mall’s interior repeatedly to lead as many as a hundred civilians to safety.

A former marine emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.

The ex soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.

With a gun tucked into his waistband, he was pictured helping two women from the complex.

His story emerged as sporadic gunfire continued to ring out from inside the mall early today as Kenyan security forces battled Al Qaeda-linked terrorists into a fourth day. …

The former soldier is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.

A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.

‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’

Sources said the soldier was in the Royal Marine and now lives in Kenyan. He cannot be named for security reasons.

The British military regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.

Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa.

Memeorandum describes him as an off-duty member of the British elite Special Air Service (SAS).

23 Sep 2013

Small Kitten, Big Dog

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23 Sep 2013

Juvenile Crow

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23 Sep 2013

Statism and Gun Control

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George III / Thomas Jefferson

Dan Greenfield identifies the philosophy of the would be gun controllers and explains on which side historically statists demanding a governmental monopoly of force are really on.

The gun issue is about solving individual evil through central planning in a shelter big enough for everyone. A Gun Free Zone where everyone is a target and tries to live under the illusion that they aren’t. A society where everyone is drawing peace signs on colored notepaper while waiting under their desks for the bomb to fall.

That brand of control isn’t authority, it’s authority in panic mode believing that if it imposes total zero tolerance control then there will be no more shootings. And every time the dumb paradigm is blown to bits with another shotgun, then the rush is on to reinforce it with more total zero control tolerance.

Zero tolerance for the Second Amendment makes sense. If you ban all guns, except for those in the hands of the 708,000 police officers, some of the 1.5 million members of the armed forces, the security guards at armored cars and banks, the bodyguards of celebrities who call for gun control, and any of the other people who need a gun to do their job, then you’re sure to stop all shootings.

So long as none of those millions of people, or their tens of millions of kids, spouses, parents, grandchildren, girlfriends, boyfriends, roommates and anyone else who has access to them and their living spaces, carries out one of those shootings.

But this isn’t really about stopping shootings; it’s about the belief that the problem isn’t evil, but agency, that if we make sure that everyone who has guns is following government orders, then control will be asserted and the problem will stop.

It’s the central planning solution to evil. …

Gun control does not control guns, it gives the illusion of controlling people, and when it fails those in authority are able to say that they did everything that they could short of giving people the ability to defend themselves.

We live under the rule of organizers, community and otherwise, committed to bringing their perfect state into being through the absolute control over people, and the violent acts of lone madmen are a reminder that such control is fleeting and that attempting to control a problem often makes it worse by removing the natural human crowdsourced responses that would otherwise come into play.

People do kill people and the only way to stop that is by killing them first. To a utopian this is a moral paradox that invalidates everything that came before it, but to everyone else, it’s just life in a world where evil is a reality, not just a word. …

[T]he Democratic Party is no longer the party of Thomas Jefferson. It’s the party of King George III. And it doesn’t like the idea of armed peasants, not because an occasional peasants goes on a shooting spree, but because like a certain dead mad king who liked to talk to trees, it believes that government power comes before individual liberty. Like that dead king, it believes that it means this for the benefit of the peasants who will be better off being told what to do.

The question is the old elemental one about government control and individual agency. And tragedies like the one that just happened take us back to the equally old question of whether individual liberty is a better defense against human evil than the entrenched organizations of government.

Read the whole thing.

The key dynamic of statism requires some kind of government action in response to any problem making the news. It doesn’t really matter that gun control legislation will actually only disarm law-abiding, rational people who have no disposition at all to commit violent crimes. What matters is that government must be seen to be operating to solve the problem. Whether the problem is really solved or not is immaterial. Statist responses are symbolic expressions of power, designed to assure the masses that their rulers are in control. There is no necessity for causality to reach beyond the symbolism to the facts. As long as the pageant of identification of a PROBLEM is followed by a supposed SOLUTION and RESPONSE, government has proven its indispensibility, affirmed its authority, and justified its existence. The issues of ineffectuality and untoward consequences can easily be obfuscated away.


Lexington, Massachusetts, April 19, 1775, militia members resist government confiscation of assault weapons.

22 Sep 2013

Wildlife Photography of Jonathan Griffiths

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Furry photos at the Telegraph.

Via Madame Scherzo.

22 Sep 2013

Between 2000 and 2012, America’s Median Household Income Dropped 6.6 %, While the District of Columbia Median Household Income Rose 23.3 %

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Mark Steyn disputes the president’s contention.

This is the United States of America,” declared President Obama to the burghers of Liberty, Mo., on Friday. “We’re not some banana republic.”

He was talking about the Annual Raising of the Debt Ceiling, which glorious American tradition seems to come round earlier every year. “This is not a deadbeat nation,” President Obama continued. “We don’t run out on our tab.” True. But we don’t pay it off either. We just keep running it up, ever higher. And every time the bartender says, “Mebbe you’ve had enough, pal,” we protest, “Jush another couple trillion for the road. Set ’em up, Joe.” And he gives you that look that kinda says he wishes you’d run out on your tab back when it was $23.68.

Still, Obama is right. We’re not a banana republic, if only because the debt of banana republics is denominated in a currency other than their own — i.e., the U.S. dollar. When you’re the guys who print the global currency, you can run up debts undreamt of by your average generalissimo. As Obama explained in another of his recent speeches, “Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt.” I won’t even pretend to know what he and his speechwriters meant by that one, but the fact that raising the debt ceiling “has been done over a hundred times” does suggest that spending more than it takes in is now a permanent feature of American government. And no one has plans to do anything about it. Which is certainly banana republic-esque.

Is all this spending necessary? Every day, the foot-of-page-37 news stories reveal government programs it would never occur to your dimestore caudillo to blow money on. On Thursday, it was the Food and Drug Administration blowing just shy of $200 grand to find out whether its Twitter and Facebook presence is “well-received.” A fifth of a million dollars isn’t even a rounding error in most departmental budgets, so nobody cares. But the FDA is one of those sclerotic American institutions that has near to entirely seized up. In October 1920, it occurred to an Ontario doctor called Frederick Banting that insulin might be isolated and purified and used to treat diabetes; by January 1923, Eli Lilly & Co were selling insulin to American pharmacies: A little over two years from concept to market. Now the FDA adds at least half-a-decade to the process, and your chances of making it through are far slimmer: As recently as the late Nineties, they were approving 157 new drugs per half-decade. Today it’s less than half that.

But they’ve got $182,000 to splash around on finding out whether people really like them on Facebook, or they’re just saying that. So they’ve given the dough to a company run by Dan Beckmann, a former “new media aide” to President Obama. That has the whiff of the banana republic about it, too.

The National Parks Service, which I had carelessly assumed was the service responsible for running national parks, has been making videos on Muslim women’s rights: “Islam gave women a whole bunch of rights that Western women acquired later in the 19th and 20th centuries, and we’ve had these rights since the seventh century,” explains a lady from AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady at the National Park Service website, nps.gov. Fascinating stuff, no doubt. But what’s it to do with national parks? Maybe the rangers could pay Dan Beckmann a quarter-million bucks to look into whether the National Parks’ Islamic outreach is using social media as effectively as it might.

Where do you go to get a piece of this action? As the old saying goes, bank robbers rob banks because that’s where the money is. But the smart guys rob taxpayers because that’s where the big money is. According to the Census Bureau’s latest “American Community Survey,” between 2000 and 2012 the nation’s median household income dropped 6.6 percent. Yet in the District of Columbia median household income rose 23.3 percent.

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