Archive for May, 2012
27 May 2012

America Today

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Hat tip to Norman Gregas.

27 May 2012

Obama Gets Mean While Looking Like a Loser

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On the campaign trail recently, people have been noticing a different version of the normally cool Barack Obama, this other Barack Obama is openly sarcastic and contemptuous of his opponent.

Lloyd Grove discusses Obama’s mean streak.

Increasingly in the past few weeks, especially since Obama formally declared his candidacy for reelection and the former Massachusetts governor has begun pulling even with him in public opinion surveys, the president is embracing full-frontal combat. Frank theorized that Obama is simply “annoyed,” much like Jon Lovitz’s Dukakis, that a man he considers his political inferior is suddenly in a position to beat him. “He has an edge to him, and the edge comes out when he’s feeling pressed,” Frank said.

“There are two kinds of fighting—narcissistic fighting and Oedipal fighting,” Frank went on. “Oedipal fighting is father and son rolling up their sleeves and duking it out. Narcissistic fighting is putting yourself above the opponent by putting him down. I think Obama does both. He knows how to be a narcissistic fighter and an Oedipal fighter. He knows how to argue about policy and argue with people. Be he also has this other part of him—and I don’t know where it comes from—that’s like this pocket of nastiness.”

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Meanwhile, in Britain, the Telegraph is already predicting disaster for Obama come November.

In 1980, Democratic president Jimmy Carter faced an uphill struggle for re-election. Yet, despite an index of inflation and unemployment far higher than Obama’s, he was actually doing slightly better in the polls. In March of that year, Carter led his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, by around 25 per cent. By May, Gallup gave him a lead of 49 to 41 per cent – higher than Obama’s today. Carter’s advantage evaporated in the months that followed, but he regained ground in October and by the last week he was running even.

None the less, Carter eventually suffered a landslide defeat. The scale of his humiliation was hidden by the fact that people were unwilling to commit themselves to the conservative Ronald Reagan until the very last minute. It was only when they went into the polling booth and weighed up all the hurt and humiliation of the past four years that they cast their vote against the president. It looks like Barack Obama will be the Jimmy Carter of 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.

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