Archive for May, 2013
31 May 2013

Cartoon of the Day

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Hat tip to Jose Guardia.

31 May 2013

“The End is Near”

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A 1935 automobile advertisement

Jonah Goldberg
reviews Kevin Williamson’s The End is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome:

Williamson’s core argument is that politics has a congenital defect: Politics cannot get “less wrong” (a term coined by artificial-intelligence guru Eliezer Yudkowsky). Productive systems — the scientific method, the market, evolution — all have the built-in ability to learn from failures. Nothing (in this life at least) ever becomes immortally perfect, but some things become less wrong through trial and error. The market, writes Williamson, “is a form of social evolution that is metaphorically parallel to bio­logical evolution. Consider the case of New Coke, or Betamax, or McDonald’s Arch Deluxe, or Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt Shampoo. . . . When hordes of people don’t show up to buy the product, then the product dies.” Just like organisms in the wild, corporations that don’t learn from failures eventually fade away.

Except in politics: “The problem of politics is that it does not know how to get less wrong.” While new iPhones regularly burst forth like gifts from the gods, politics plods along. “Other than Social Security, there are very few 1935 vintage products still in use,” he writes. “Resistance to innovation is a part of the deep structure of politics. In that, it is like any other monopoly. It never goes out of business — despite flooding the market with defective and dangerous products, mistreating its customers, degrading the environment, cooking the books, and engaging in financial shenanigans that would have made Gordon Gekko pale to contemplate.” Hence, it is not U.S. Steel, which was eventually washed away like an imposing sand castle in the surf, but only politics that can claim to be “the eternal corporation.”

The reason for this immortality is simple: The people running the State are never sufficiently willing to contemplate that they are the problem. If a program dedicated to putting the round pegs of humanity into square holes fails, the bureaucrats running it will conclude that the citizens need to be squared off long before it dawns on them that the State should stop treating people like pegs in the first place. Furthermore, in government, failure is an exciting excuse to ask for more funding or more power.

Read the whole thing.

30 May 2013

Greatest Wedding Photo Ever


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

30 May 2013

Blog Post into Film Rights Sale

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James Erwin

James Erwin
seems a little embarrassed at how easy it was for him to turn an intriguing historical question into a literary phenomenon and a big money deal with Hollywood.

Rome, Sweet Rome wikipedia article

It was on my lunch hour; I’d just gone on (a website where people submit content and then vote it up or down depending on if they like it) and saw a question: “Could a battalion of US marines destroy the entire Roman empire?”

I thought to myself, “Oh, that sounds like a fun story.” So I just started writing.

I started at noon and I was done by 1pm. I’d expected that maybe a hundred nerds would read it and enjoy it, and that some people would have had a fun lunch hour because of me. Instead, it changed the trajectory of my life. By the time I went home at five it’d had a quarter-of-a-million readers, a week later I had a manager, and a week after that I had a contract with Warner Brothers. They brought me on to write a treatment, and then a screenplay based on that treatment.

Read the whole thing.

30 May 2013

No Internet All Day Yesterday


I have yet to find out why — did the Red Chinese destroy HughesNet’s key satellite?–, but satellite internet access was non-operational all day yesterday. One pays a price to live outside the megalopolis.

28 May 2013

Lovecraftian Lighting

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Scott Musgrove, Walktopus

Awfully expensive at $4000 though. I wonder what the 5′ tall version runs.

Via Madame Scherzo.

28 May 2013

40 Frightening Statistics About the US Economy

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From Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse blog:

The following are 40 statistics about the fall of the U.S. economy that are almost too crazy to believe…

#1 Back in 1980, the U.S. national debt was less than one trillion dollars. Today, it is rapidly approaching 17 trillion dollars…

#2 During Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the first 42 U.S presidents combined.

#3 The U.S. national debt is now more than 23 times larger than it was when Jimmy Carter became president.

#4 If you started paying off just the new debt that the U.S. has accumulated during the Obama administration at the rate of one dollar per second, it would take more than 184,000 years to pay it off.

#5 The federal government is stealing more than 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

#6 Back in 1970, the total amount of debt in the United States (government debt + business debt + consumer debt, etc.) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is over 56 trillion dollars…

#7 According to the World Bank, U.S. GDP accounted for 31.8 percent of all global economic activity in 2001. That number dropped to 21.6 percent in 2011.

#8 The United States has fallen in the global economic competitiveness rankings compiled by the World Economic Forum for four years in a row.

#9 According to The Economist, the United States was the best place in the world to be born into back in 1988. Today, the United States is only tied for 16th place.

#10 Incredibly, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have been permanently shut down since 2001.

#11 There are less Americans working in manufacturing today than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.

#12 According to the New York Times, there are now approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit.

#13 When NAFTA was pushed through Congress in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. By 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.

#14 Back in 1985, our trade deficit with China was approximately 6 million dollars (million with a little “m”) for the entire year. In 2012, our trade deficit with China was 315 billion dollars. That was the largest trade deficit that one nation has had with another nation in the history of the world.

#15 Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the world since 1975.

#16 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.

#17 Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs. Today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs.

#18 At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year

Read the whole thing.

28 May 2013

US Government’s Fourth (and Largest) Branch

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This article by Jonathan Turley puts the impact of the rise of the Progressive Administrative State into perspective.

For much of our nation’s history, the federal government was quite small. In 1790, it had just 1,000 nonmilitary workers. In 1962, there were 2,515,000 federal employees. Today, we have 2,840,000 federal workers in 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies.

This exponential growth has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.

The rise of the fourth branch has been at the expense of Congress’s lawmaking authority. In fact, the vast majority of “laws” governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations, crafted largely by thousands of unnamed, unreachable bureaucrats. One study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

This rulemaking comes with little accountability. It’s often impossible to know, absent a major scandal, whom to blame for rules that are abusive or nonsensical. Of course, agencies owe their creation and underlying legal authority to Congress, and Congress holds the purse strings. But Capitol Hill’s relatively small staff is incapable of exerting oversight on more than a small percentage of agency actions. And the threat of cutting funds is a blunt instrument to control a massive administrative state — like running a locomotive with an on/off switch.

The autonomy was magnified when the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that agencies are entitled to heavy deference in their interpretations of laws. The court went even further this past week, ruling that agencies should get the same heavy deference in determining their own jurisdictions — a power that was previously believed to rest with Congress.

Read the whole thing.

28 May 2013

Presidents in Uniform


27 May 2013

My Father’s War


William G. Zincavage, Fall 1942, after graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp

Military Police, North Carolina, Fall 1942

First Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Solomon Islands Consolidation (Guadalcanal), Winter-Spring 1943
New Georgia Group Operation (Vella LaVella, Rendova), Summer 1943

Third Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Marianas Operation (Guam), Summer 1944

Fifth Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Iwo Jima Operation, February-March 1945 (Navy Unit Commendation)

North American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars
Good Conduct Medal


This is a photo of the accommodations marines from the Third Division received on board the ships carrying them from California to the South Pacific theater of war.


This photo was taken shortly before he received his discharge in December of 1945.

27 May 2013

Memorial Day

WWII Victory Medal

All of my grandparents’ sons and one daughter, now all departed, served.

Joseph Zincavage (1907-1998) Navy
(No wartime photograph available)

William Zincavage (1914-1997) Marine Corps

Edward Zincavage (1917-2002) Marine Corps

Eleanor Zincavage Cichetti (1922-2003) Marine Corps

26 May 2013

Build Parties

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Metrosexual Bryan Schatz, reporting for the red rag Mother Jones, impersonated a normal male American and attended a “build party.”

Build parties seem to be a California phenomenon (the only ones I can find reference to were advertized on the forum), in which people get together, in accordance with currently existing federal gun regulations, to complete personally the lower receiver (which is the element of modern semi-automatic rifles that is legally regarded as constituting the firearm as which is consequently the only part whose sale and transfer is regulated) and then assemble the complete AK or AR rifle using a parts kit.

A build party offers the opportunity to legally manufacture your own contemporary military-style semi-automatic-only rifle, which since you made it for your own use, has no serial number and need not be registered. Beyond that, a build party saves the prospective gun-owner at least a portion of the cost of a fully-assembled semi-automatic contemporary military-style rifle.

Schatz is your typical liberal pussy, who is intentionally milking for journalistic purposes all the shock and awe of actually handling, and even assembling, mechanical instruments that look war-like and can go boom! when you pull the trigger. These sorts of people always bask in the transgressive romance and machismo of it all.

Many kits come from stockpiles in former war zones. “I can guarantee you this one has bodies on it,” says one of the hosts as I peer down the barrel of a Yugo RPK. It’s lined with grit and soot. My host says the AK I’m building is an Egyptian “Maadi” that came to the United States via Croatia, likely having been shipped there during the Yugoslav wars. He tells me some wooden stocks come with tally marks notched in them.

But never for very long. Schatz quickly moves on to worrying about the absence of Big Brother monitoring all this. Since these build party guns are neither numbered nor registered, his liberal heart begins leaping with terror over the fact that they are “not traceable.”

Liberal efforts at gun control always begin with the fundamentally bogus idea that finding the perpetrator of a crime of violence is always, or even often, a question of identifying the actual weapon used or tracing its chain of ownership. In reality, the identity of the culprit is almost always determined from witnesses, motives and opportunity, or by the criminal’s subsequent actions, rather than by tracing ownership of the weapon.

Countless millions of unregistered guns, guns going back to the Beretta-manufactured wheel-lock that John Alden brought over on the Mayflower, are already out there. There are lots of Americans just as handy as the Afghan bazaar craftsmen who can make an entire AK-47 with hand tools in mud shack, and we are presently entering the age in which you can print out that lower receiver (or an entire gun) with a 3-D printer. The Canadians tried registering all of their guns, spent billions on the project, and finally concluded that gun registration, after more than a decade had never actually played any role in solving any crime.

The truth of the matter is that gun registration, keeping track of serial numbers and ownership, is not about solving crimes at all. It is really just a way of injecting friction and cost and potential legal jeopardy into firearms transfers and owndership, with the end goal being confiscation.

In the end, Schatz proves his liberal bona fides, naturally, by deliberately destroying the AK he had fun assembling and shooting. It would be wrong to own such a thing. After all, it might climb out of your closet and go on a killing spree.

I never knew that rational people actually read Mother Jones, but Schatz’s commenters really kicked Schatz’s nonsense around the block. The comments are a lot better than the article.

Build parties sound mildly intriguing, and I have actually begun to see the point of owning so-called “assault weapons.” That lower receiver is just the platform to which you can attach an extraordinary variety of optional barrels, stocks, and accessories, making it, in essence, a Swiss Army Knife-style shooting platform. Still, even with a build party, the cost of upper receivers and barrels, stocks, and accessories inevitably add up. Start with a few hundred for the lower receiver and the party, and add in the rest, and that black rifle plinking toy is always going to cost pretty close to a thou. It can easily cost more.

You can buy some awfully nice classic old-fashioned rifles for that kind of money. Who’d want a plastic semi-auto plinker, when for the same kind of money you could buy, for instance, a pre-WWI classic sporter? The way I figure it, if we ever get into a state of civil unrest in which one really seriously needs an AR, I can always just shoot some representative of the tyrannical government and take his, which will have full-auto too.

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