Archive for September, 2009
25 Sep 2009

Smith & Wesson 686P Reviewed

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Smith & Wesson 686P

Hand gun enthusiast Nutnfancy has a new 43:22 video out.

Nutnfancy is a modernist, a semiauto guy really, the sort of person who wants a magazine with enough rounds to deal with an assaulting Zulu impi, who prefers double action shooting, and who wants a Picatinny rail to hang lights from on his guns, but this time he is reviewing the Smith & Wesson 686P, the S&W Performance Center L-frame .357 Magnum revolver with the 7-round cylinder.

He is an intelligent critic though and rather insightfully, I thought, recognizes the S&W 686P as Smith’s version of the much-admired, but unfortunately discontinued, Colt Python, and proceeds with a head to head comparison.

I am not especially interested in this model. I already own two other S&W .357s, but Nutnfancy does quality reviewing, and I found this one entertaining enough to watch anyway.

25 Sep 2009

“Dead Hand:” Soviet Doomsday Device Still in Operation

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Wired tells us Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964) film accurately predicted a system put on-line in 1985 by the Soviets that would assure an automatic Soviet response to a Western first strike.

The Cold War ended years ago, but apparently the Russians never turned off their Doomsday device.

Valery Yarynich glances nervously over his shoulder. Clad in a brown leather jacket, the 72-year-old former Soviet colonel is hunkered in the back of the dimly lit Iron Gate restaurant in Washington, DC. It’s March 2009—the Berlin Wall came down two decades ago—but the lean and fit Yarynich is as jumpy as an informant dodging the KGB. He begins to whisper, quietly but firmly.

“The Perimeter system is very, very nice,” he says. “We remove unique responsibility from high politicians and the military.” He looks around again.

Yarynich is talking about Russia’s doomsday machine. That’s right, an actual doomsday device—a real, functioning version of the ultimate weapon, always presumed to exist only as a fantasy of apocalypse-obsessed science fiction writers and paranoid über-hawks. The thing that historian Lewis Mumford called “the central symbol of this scientifically organized nightmare of mass extermination.” Turns out Yarynich, a 30-year veteran of the Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces and Soviet General Staff, helped build one.

The point of the system, he explains, was to guarantee an automatic Soviet response to an American nuclear strike. Even if the US crippled the USSR with a surprise attack, the Soviets could still hit back. It wouldn’t matter if the US blew up the Kremlin, took out the defense ministry, severed the communications network, and killed everyone with stars on their shoulders. Ground-based sensors would detect that a devastating blow had been struck and a counterattack would be launched.

The technical name was Perimeter, but some called it Mertvaya Ruka, or Dead Hand. It was built 25 years ago and remained a closely guarded secret. With the demise of the USSR, word of the system did leak out, but few people seemed to notice. In fact, though Yarynich and a former Minuteman launch officer named Bruce Blair have been writing about Perimeter since 1993 in numerous books and newspaper articles, its existence has not penetrated the public mind or the corridors of power. The Russians still won’t discuss it, and Americans at the highest levels—including former top officials at the State Department and White House—say they’ve never heard of it. When I recently told former CIA director James Woolsey that the USSR had built a doomsday device, his eyes grew cold. “I hope to God the Soviets were more sensible than that.” They weren’t.

The system remains so shrouded that Yarynich worries his continued openness puts him in danger. He might have a point: One Soviet official who spoke with Americans about the system died in a mysterious fall down a staircase. But Yarynich takes the risk. He believes the world needs to know about Dead Hand. Because, after all, it is still in place.

Read the whole thing.

25 Sep 2009

Anglo-Saxon Gold Hoard Found in Staffordshire

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Metal detecting is a popular working man’s hobby here in the United States as well, but Americans can expect to find some coins or possibly Civil War relics. In Britain, there is a lot more history, and a lot older and more valuable treasure lying right in the fields.

The Daily Mail has terrific coverage of a spectacular new find.

The largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found has been discovered by a metal detector enthusiast on farmland in Staffordshire, it was revealed today.

Experts say the hoard, which is at least as significant as any other treasure from the Anglo-Saxon era ever unearthed, is worth millions and could have belonged to a king.

The discovery of at least 1,345 different items, thought to date back to the seventh century, is expected to redefine perceptions of the period.

Terry Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, came across the collection as he searched a field near his home with his trusty 14-year-old detector and is now in line for a seven-figure sum.

It had been hidden for more than 1,300 years but was recently thrown up by ploughing and amazingly, some was just sitting on the top of the ground.

Experts have already examined the 1,345 items but another 56 clods of earth have been X-rayed and are known to hold more metal artefacts, meaning the figure is likely to rise to around 1,500.

At least 650 are gold, weighing more than than 5kg, and another 530 are silver, weighing around 1kg. This is far bigger than previous finds – including the Sutton Hoo burial site in Suffolk.

Many of the items in the hoard are warfare paraphernalia inlaid with precious stones, including sword pommel caps and hilt plates.

Experts say it is the best example of Anglo-Saxon workmanship they have ever seen and may have belonged to Saxon royalty, possibly the King of Mercia.’

Archaeology expert Leslie Webster, who used to work at the British Museum, said: ‘(It is) absolutely the equivalent of finding a new Lindisfarne Gospels or Book of Kells.’

It was officially declared treasure by a coroner today, which means the haul will now be valued by committee of experts before being offered for sale.

They may take more than a year to value the collection and, given its scale, the financial worth will be massive.

Once a valuation and sale is complete, its market value will be split between Mr Herbert, who is unemployed, and the owner of the farmland where it was found.

Roger Bland, head of portable antiquities and treasure at the British Museum: ‘I can’t say anything other than we expect it to be a seven-figure sum.’

Hat tip to Bird Dog.

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The gold-proud of warriors, trod the mould grassy, exulting in gold-store.
–Beowulf (William Morris translation)

You can gloat over the treasure hoard looted from those puny Christians, just like a true follower of Odin, at the Staffordshire Hoard web-site.

25 Sep 2009

Obama’s UN Address

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I was hearing complaints about Obama’s UN Speech all day yesterday. Rich Lowry gives the president’s performance one of its most negative reviews.

President Obama yesterday did his best impression of a high-school sophomore participating in his first Model UN meeting, retailing pious clichés he learned from his pony-tailed social studies teacher.

Even Woodrow Wilson might have blanched at the mushy-headed exhortations to world peace and collective action better suited to a college dorm-room bull session or a holiday-season Coca-Cola commercial.

“No nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” Obama intoned. “No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed. No balance of power among nations will hold.”

Has an American president ever expressed such implicit hostility toward his own nation’s pre-eminence in world affairs? Or so relished in recalling its failings, or so readily elevated himself and his own virtues over those of his country?

Between America and the world, Obama adopts a happy medium. It is in this sense only that he is a centrist.

“For those who question the character and cause of my nation,” Obama said, “I ask you to look at the concrete actions we have taken in just nine months.” In other words, he’s the redeemer of a nation sunk in war crimes (we condoned torture), high-handedness (we ignored the United Nations) and hypocrisy (we promoted democracy selectively) prior to the ascension of his blessed administration.

Read the whole thing.

Text and video at HuffPo.

24 Sep 2009

Two Songs For the Dear Leader

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This video recorded around June 19, 2009 at the B. Bernice Young Elementary School in Burlington, New Jersey shows young students being taught to sing a pair of songs praising President Obama.

This interesting performance was arranged in connection with Father’s Day.

2:24 video

Song 1:

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said we must be clear today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
He said Red, Yellow, Black or White
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!

Barack Hussein Obama
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Yes

Song 2:

Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue,Mr. President we know you’ll do the trick
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

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Obama obviously did not write the songs or arrange for them to be composed, but it can hardly be denied that the teacher(s?) responsible in New Jersey were responding to a personality cult and a political style which has been recognizable since the appearance of Barach Hussein Obama (Mmm, mmm, mm!) on the national political stage. It is a style a lot more compatible with backward Third World Communist dictatorships than with the American Republic.

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Fox News story

I think Gateway Pundit was the original source of the story.

24 Sep 2009

Publishing a Scientific Comment in How Many? Easy Steps

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Rick Trebino of Georgia Tech seems a little frustrated by the process.

Hat tip to William Laffer.

24 Sep 2009

Tell Your Children to Start Learning Mandarin

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Rembrandt van Rijn, Belshazzar’s Feast, c. 1635, London, National Gallery

The phrase they are probably going to need most will be: “And would you like fries with that?”

Electing radicals from the democrat party’s Marxist fringe has consequences, and the Telegraph reports that the Obama Administration’s “Just turn on the printing presses!” economic policies are probably going to have some very nasty ones.

The Telegraph quotes a new report from Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)’s currency chief that says the handwriting is on the wall for the United States.

“The dollar looks awfully like sterling after the First World War,” said David Bloom, the bank’s currency chief.

“The whole picture of risk-reward for emerging market currencies has changed. It is not so much that they have risen to our standards, it is that we have fallen to theirs. It used to be that sovereign risk was mainly an emerging market issue but the events of the last year have shown that this is no longer the case. Look at the UK – debt is racing up to 100pc of GDP,” he said

Crucially, China and rising Asia have reached the point where they can no longer keep holding down their currencies to boost exports because this is causing mayhem to their own economies, stoking asset bubbles. Asia’s “mercantilist mindset” of recent decades is about to be broken by the spectre of an inflation spiral.

The policy headache was already becoming clear in the final phase of the global credit boom but the financial crisis temporarily masked the effect. The pressures will return with a vengeance as these countries roar back to life, leaving the US and other laggards of the old world far behind.

A monetary policy of near zero rates – further juiced by quantitative easing – is completely incompatible with circumstances in most of Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. Divorce is inevitable. The US is expected to hold rates near zero through 2010 to tackle its own crisis.

What is occurring is an epochal loss in the relative wealth and economic power of the old G10 bloc of rich countries compared to rising regions of the world. The euro, yen, sterling, Swiss franc and other mature currencies will be relegated along with the dollar in this great process of rebalancing, but the Greenback will bear the brunt.

Yes, Virginia, we’re talking about the End here: the end of the US dollar as world reserve currency, the end of the whole post-WWII era of American economic, cultural, and military ascendancy, including economic decline, retreat from no longer sustainable overseas responsibilities, the inability to support a first class military, and a whole new American way of life centered on decline, pessimism, and yearning for the permanently vanished good old days.

They may not have understood it at that time, but that is what they voted for.

23 Sep 2009

When the Going Gets Tough

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You can rely on liberals to start looking for the exit.

The New York Times tells us that King Obama is making his decisions with the counsel of the court clown.

President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday.

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Hugh Hewitt recognizes how serious a choice Obama is making.

The idea of rejecting the proposals of the new commander on the ground less than six months after his appointment is bad enough, but to do so because Slow Joe Biden has a bright idea is truly terrible.

The president’s domestic agenda is in a shambles and his ratings are plummeting to near record levels for a modern president in his first year in office. His global warming hysteria of yesterday adds to the idea of a rookie being handed unvetted speeches –like the one in Congress with the man who died from denial of treatment, except he didn’t– and rushing off to his next media event.

Thousands of Americans died because of the Taliban’s partnership with al Qaeda, a partnership that endures. Hundreds more have died pushing the Taliban-al Qaeda alliance deep into the remote mountains of the region. General McChrystal’s report asserts that with the right forces, stability can be achieved, and within an acceptable number of years.

The choice facing President Obama is a defeat and vulnerability to more terror plots and a second mission back when one occurs, or the acceptance of the commanding general’s recommendations. This isn’t hard. The fact that Joe Biden is on the other side makes it even easier to tell Secretary Gates to proceed with the McChyrstal plan.

Probably, Obama and Mr. Vice-Blowhard-Doofus are thinking that the day is not far off when their own leftwing base will find stabbing American forces in the back one more time absolutely irresistible. So Obama is giving serious consideration to trying to avoid the misery of Lyndon Johnson by resorting to the cowardice of Jimmy Carter.

23 Sep 2009

She’s a Conservative

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The Stanford Review, that university’s student conservative newspaper, is looking for a few good women.

Jessica Palmer found the ad on a NYU Social Psychology page under Multiculturalism. It looks like a recruiting tool which the Stanford Review has been using for several years.

23 Sep 2009

Genre Fiction Generator

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David Malki’s original Electroplasmic Hydrocephalic Genre Fiction Generator 2000 design.

Liam Cooke’s working model

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

23 Sep 2009

Cool Weather Interfering With Climate Change Prevention

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The New York Times reports that cooler temperatures are getting in the way of international agreements required to forstall climate change.

The world leaders who met at the United Nations to discuss climate change on Tuesday are faced with an intricate challenge: building momentum for an international climate treaty at a time when global temperatures have been relatively stable for a decade and may even drop in the next few years.

The plateau in temperatures has been seized upon by skeptics as evidence that the threat of global warming is overblown. And some climate experts worry that it could hamper treaty negotiations and slow the progress of legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions in the United States.

The Times goes on (hilariously) to explain that recent cooler temperatures are just an irrelevant phenomenon that proves nothing, but that “scientists” (the plural proves to be one particular scientist) know better.

Current cooler weather, the Times gravely advises is just a “normal variation.” Long term global warming is still firmly underway. Of course, all this ignores the fact that the Global Warming hypothesis came into existence after the Impending Ice Age hypothesis collapsed due to several years of warming weather.

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A Missing Person Report

Statistician William M. Briggs takes us to a police precinct in Manhattan.

“Hey, Sarge. Got a lady here who wants to file a missing person report…Sarge?” Officer Hannigan stood in front of Sergeant Fitzgerald’s desk and rustled a sheaf of paper just loud enough so that it didn’t sound intentional, but with enough force to still be heard.

Sergeant Fitzgerald was dozing and he started at the noise, but long experience enabled him to remain mostly still. He did not want his junior to know he had been asleep, so he counted to three then slowly made the sign of the cross and said, “Amen.” He then let his watery eyes find Hannigan’s.

“Uh, sorry, Sarge.” Hannigan was new enough not to have seen this act before. “But I got this strange call and I didn’t know what to do.” Fitzgerald raised both eyebrows a millimeter. “This lady wants to report a missing person, only…”

Enough consciousness had seeped into Fitzgerald’s limbs that he was able to slap the table. “Now, young Hannigan. Nothing could be easier, sure. You have the right forms?” A nod. “You’ve asked the right questions?”

“I have.”

“Then there is no problem.” He shifted his weight and turned his attention inward.

“But Sarge, the answers made no sense!”

Fitzgerald sighed and knew that sleep was banished. “Well, then. Let’s have it. Who’s missing?”

“Global Warming.”

“And what’s that, then?” A shrug was his answer. He sighed. “How long has it been missing?”

“Lady said about eight years, maybe nine.”

Read the whole thing.

22 Sep 2009

Liberals Hate Dissent

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Michael Barone admires the liberal establishment’s recent efforts to marginalize dissent.

I would submit that the president’s call for an end to “bickering” and the charges of racism by some of his supporters are the natural reflex of people who are not used to hearing people disagree with them and who are determined to shut them up.

This comes naturally to liberals educated in our great colleges and universities, so many of which have speech codes whose primary aim is to prevent the expression of certain conservative ideas and which are commonly deployed for that purpose. (For examples, see the Website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which defends students of all political stripes.) Once the haven of free inquiry and expression, academia has become a swamp of stifling political correctness.

Similarly, the “mainstream media” — the old-line broadcast networks, The New York Times, etc. — present a politically correct picture of the world. The result is that liberals can live in a cocoon, an America in which seldom is heard a discouraging word. Conservatives, in contrast, find themselves constantly pummeled with liberal criticism, on campus, in news media, and in Hollywood TV and movies. They don’t like it, but they’ve gotten used to it. Liberals aren’t used to it and increasingly try to stamp it out.

Read the whole thing.

If we study the vocabulary of the American elite, we find that strange things have happened to the English language. Slavish conformity of thought, readiness to bow to conventional opinion, credulous acceptance of popular alarms, willingness to embrace crude simplifications, and firm refusal to question supposed authority and pretended expertise are continually cited as evidencing sound judgment and good education. Skepticism and questioning the authority of media culture is, on the other hand, extremist, polarizing, and ignorant. Our contemporary political culture basically turns language inside out. The most craven conformist mouthing empty platitudes (Albert Gore) is praised for wisdom and bravery, and anyone attempting to subject a received prescription to scrutiny or analysis (Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh) is intrinsically unintelligent.

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