Didn't like that LEGO? Try this one

Sleep tight

Bryan Preston of PJ Media reports that the White House had a live feed from an overhead drone as the attack on the Benghazi embassy wound down, when we still did not know the fate of our murdered ambassador.  Technical difficulties involving closed eyelids prevented the President from watching.  Preston wonders:  "Would Obama have gone to bed during a nailbiter of a sports game?"  Well, maybe so, if he had to get up early and fly out to Las Vegas for a fund-raiser.

It's a good thing he didn't spend a couple of minutes finishing the story he was reading to some schoolchildren.

Anyway, within a few weeks he'd wrung a full briefing out of all those uncooperative intelligence community and State Department operatives.

Is Hillary Clinton really a wise scapegoat to fix on?  I'm trying to imagine how tempted Bill Clinton is to grab a microphone and update his thoughts on how "any president" would have stacked up in the face of this crisis.

Ve haff vays of making you compassionate

"The Long Arm of Academic Tolerance" explores the fate of teachers who dare to express political opinions --  oops, I mean hate speech -- in what they used to think of as their private lives.  Or not even a political opinion, just a request that a particular issue be exposed to a public vote.  We absolutely cannot have that.

H/t Maggie's Farm

Yuk yuk yuk

Takes on the debate

From Ace and his merry band:
It was like having an argument with your drunk, blowhard, dullwitted uncle at Thanksgiving.  And your drunk blowhard dullwitted uncle, who is superior to you only in age, keeps asserting he's right about everything by shouting "I WAS THERE!!!" 
Came off as a father-son fight about how dad is too senile to drive anymore and the wife/mother just wanting to move on to something the two of them could agree upon. 
If you thought it wasn't the administration, that it was Congress, last night you saw why it wasn't Congress.  The other night you saw a non-communicative president and last night you had attack dog Joe. 
Two debates in a row in which the overriding takeaway was the personality of the incumbent.  Not good. 
Ryan should have looked at Slow Joe and asked him "Does President Obama think all our nations problems are as funny as you seem to?"  Then hit him in the choppers with a right cross.
And my own reaction:   does Biden really believe the easy part of building a nuclear weapon is accumulating the fissile material, and the hard part is the detonation/delivery mechanism?  We managed it in 1945 easily enough, and we were flying blind.

Also:  it was surprising to hear Biden claim the White House didn't know about the threat in Libya because the intelligence community didn't tell them.  Maybe if the President actually attended intelligence briefings . . . ?

Grand Slam

Yesterday I watched a few minutes of the Reds/Giants game. I happened to be watching when Georgia native "Buster" Posey stepped up to the plate, with the bases loaded, and saw a big fat beautiful pitch come to him that he knew exactly what to do with.

My guess is that Mitt Romney has a similar feeling this morning.
The new fight erupted when top President Barack Obama's aide Stephanie Cutter said on CNN that the September 11 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi only became a "political topic" because it was exploited by Romney....

"I think today we got another indication of how President Obama and his campaign fail to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face here in America," Romney said at a rally in North Carolina.

The Republican nominee went on to quote Cutter's remarks, before turning them against the president.

"No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in thirty-three years that a United States Ambassador has been assassinated.

"Mr President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11.

"President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit that this was a terrorist attack," Romney said, demanding "serious answers" for the American people.
Yeah, that's right. That's just how you hit the ball.

King Arthur Pendragon

So, maybe you're depressed about the election season. Maybe you wish there was a really different candidate, one who symbolizes all the things you deeply believe to be important. How about King Arthur?

Well, he's the provisional Arthur, anyway.
"I’ve been Arthur Uther Pendragon since ‘86. I’m generally known as King Arthur. There are three Arthurian ages and I’m the post-Thatcher Arthur. As far as I’m concerned, until another Arthur—bigger, badder and bolder—comes along, I’m it. So handle it."
In fairness, though, the bigger badder Arthur is going to have to compete with his stature as the leader of an outlaw motorcycle club.

"I used to be the president of an outlaw bike club and a lot of my mates thought I was off on one, but 20-odd years later, I’m still doing it. I decided that the Goddess would sustain me if it was true, so I don’t claim any state benefit and—well, hey—something’s working. I’ve been known to have a tipple, but guess what? I speak exactly the same bollocks whether I’m pissed or sober, because I actually believe in it.”

Arthur told me how spiritual places, like Stonehenge, help him access the memories from his past life.

“I remember fightin’ on the Saxon shores against the Saxon armies. I also have a memory of fighting on the western shores against Irish pirates. See, the motorcycle is the modern iron steed, so I’m not doing it a lot different now to what I was doing 1500 years ago.”
I have much the same feeling myself at times, although I've never thought I might actually be Arthur himself. Still, you get on that iron horse, and you take the road, and it takes you places.

By the way, he does have one significant claim to genuine authority. He bears Excalibur.
“Where did you find Excalibur?” I asked him.

“Ah well, therein lies another tale. It was built for the film.”

“The film Excalibur?”

“Yeah, the armourer who built it had it on show in the window. He said 'Look, if the real King Arthur walks in here, he can bloody have it. Otherwise, it’s not for sale.' So I just threw me passport on the desk and walked out with the sword."
Now, you have to admit that's impressive. They didn't agree to sell it to him: they gave it to him, because they agreed it was his by right.

The VP Debate

Biden did better than the President. But that's to be expected. Biden's the better man. We'll have to wait a bit to see how it played with voters, but there's no doubt in my mind he did better than President Obama did.

Of course, we'll also have to see how many people watched it, and how much they like people interrupting and yelling. Maybe that sells. We'll see soon enough.

UPDATE: A CNN undecided voter interview.

The lady is from Virginia, which might explain her good sense.


Cassandra's post deserves highlighting. I wish I could meet her sons.

Completely False Statements

So the responsible thing -- the American thing! -- is to allow the investigation to proceed to a responsible, careful, detailed conclusion. OK.

One question, though: how long did the administration allow the FBI to be on the ground investigating this incident? My impression is that the answer is "Zero minutes and zero seconds, during which they were able to conduct zero interviews of eye-witnesses."

To describe this as waiting for a full, responsible investigation is the highest level of horse manure. They pulled the investigation before it even got on the ground. This is top-quality stuff, the sort you'd use to fertilize a rose garden.

21 days left . . .

. . . to craft those costumes for defenseless pets and babies.  As always, I'm here to offer inspiration:

Running toward the gunfire

Mitt Romney tells a story about a Navy SEAL he met by accident a couple of year ago when he got mixed up about the address of a neighborhood party:
Then there is [Glen] Doherty, the former Navy SEAL Romney met at a party he wasn't supposed to attend. 
Both were from Massachusetts.  Both enjoyed skiing.  And Doherty, who was 42 at the time of his death [in Benghazi last month], talked about his work in the Middle East for a private security company after he finished his tour of duty as a Navy SEAL. 
"You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALs killed in Benghazi on Sept. 11," Romney said in Iowa, pausing to stay composed.  "It touched me obviously as I recognized this young man that I thought was so impressive had lost his life in his service of his fellow men and women." 
Romney said he learned that Doherty was in another building across town when he and his colleagues found out the consulate was under attack. 
"They went there. They didn't hunker down where they were in safety.  They rushed there to go help," Romney said.  "This is the American way.  We go where there's trouble.  We go where we're needed.  And right now we are needed. Right now the American people need us."

Provocative video causes political disaster

From People's Cube:  sometimes public order is more important than letting a television broadcast get people all riled up.

Update: link fixed.

Unclear on the market concept

Don't Californians ever get tired of being blindsided by market effects that everyone else can see coming a mile away?  I spent almost a decade of my life working on bankruptcies caused by the meltdown of the ridiculous California attempt to build a pretend-market for electricity in the late 1990s. Hey, I wonder what will happen if we refuse to produce any electricity locally, become dependent on neighboring states, squeeze down our interstate supply lines, and then screw with the market so that no one can get clear short-term price signals, while preventing our three major electrical utilities from hedging with long-term contracts?  Who would have dreamed that the whole thing would blow up in our faces?

Almost 15 years later, California's rulers (and voters) still fondly imagine that they can have stable, comprehensible gas-pump prices while constantly jacking around with special-snowflake gas recipes that prevent any reasonable emergency backup supplies from kicking in when there's even a minor emergency at those few refineries that are allowed to stay in business.  Now we have people complaining that, yes, of course there was a market perturbation, but it couldn't possibly have caused that kind of spike!  It must be evil traders manipulating the market.  Collusion!  Gouging!  Greed!

The market's being manipulated, all right, but it ain't traders doing it.  The law of supply and demand works even when it's politically inconvenient.  Now watch them "fix" the problem by freezing prices.  That way you can get cheap gas -- there just won't be any of it.  Thanks, wise, beneficent rulers!


Chuck Todd is upset that Americans don't trust their government any more.

It's not a good thing for society when its citizens become hardened in cynicism and susceptible to every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike.  But Mr. Todd misidentifies the root of the problem.  The problem isn't that citizens should put their rose-colored glasses back on and rally around the powers that be.  The problem is him:
When Chuck Todd laments the corrosion of “trust in government,” what he is really lamenting is that the American people have caught on to the way the game is played and the public now realizes just how complicit the media is.
Wanna fix that, Mr. Todd?  You're a member of the media.  Try doing your job honestly for a change, see if that helps.   Not only might you get a more honest government out of it, but people might quit laughing at your profession.

When ya lose Big Bird . . . .

Coming on the heels of a betrayal by Bill Maher, this has got to sting.

Why Our Enemies in Afghanistan are Evil Men

Cowards, too. They are so afraid of the words of a girl that they have to kill her, lest others speak.

Yet this valley is a stronghold for them. We controlled it once, and have already withdrawn from it because the population prefers them to the central government enough to let them -- even to help them -- command. That speaks to the poverty of our allies, such as they are, as well as the depth of the ethnic division.

We may hope that these particular men might yet have the opportunity to meet with an appropriate answer. In the end, though, this is the world we are leaving behind.


Because Nobel Prizes are not awarded posthumously, they sometimes miss an extraordinary achievement that won't bear fruit until later, particularly if the discoverer dies young.  Rosalind Franklin, for instance, might have shared the 1962 prize that went to Watson and Crick for discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, but she died of cancer at age 37 in 1958.

Albert Einstein received his Nobel Prize not for the theory of relativity (special 1905, general 1911) or the mass-energy equivalence (1905) but for his 1905 work on the photo-electric effect.  I was not aware of the ugly political machinations behind this delayed and arguably misdirected award.  By the time the Nobel committee worked out its resentment of Einstein's Jewish heritage and pacifist tendencies, not to mention the controversy over whether the 1919 Eddington experiment had truly confirmed his work, Einstein had suffered the fate of Achilles:  the honor had been robbed of its value by the arbitrary partisanship of its awarders.
He that fights fares no better than he that does not; coward and hero are held in equal honour, and death deals like measure to him who works and him who is idle.
Einstein didn't return from his trip to the Far East to attend the 1922 ceremony in Stockholm.  In 1933, he renounced his German citizenship and moved to the U.S., where in 1939 he was instrumental in persuading President Roosevelt to make this country the world's first nuclear power.

Nobel Prizes are being awarded this week, so far without controversy.  The medicine award went to two stem cell researchers, one British and one Japanese, whose work involved not embryonic stem cells but the reprogramming of adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells.  The physics award went to two men, one from Colorado and the other from Paris, whose work with observing quantum particles may lead to advances in supercomputers.

Romney on foreign policy

From WaPo:
I believe that if America does not lead, others will—others who do not share our interests and our values—and the world will grow darker, for our friends and for us.
A few more specific proposals, not that any foreign policy speech is ever very specific:
    Restore cuts to military spending; specifically, build 15 ships per year, including three submarines.
    "I will implement effective missile defenses to protect against threats.  And on this, there will be no flexibility with Vladimir Putin.  And I will call on our NATO allies to keep the greatest military alliance in history strong by honoring their commitment to each devote 2 percent of their GDP to security spending. Today, only 3 of the 28 NATO nations meet this benchmark."
    Organize all assistance efforts in the greater Middle East under one official with responsibility and accountability to prioritize efforts and produce results, by stipulating conditions to aid.
    Reverse the President's four-year failure to sign any new free trade agreements.
    Support the many Syrians who would oppose Iran.
    More support for Israel.

Other than that, though, what's wrong with Venezuela?

From the WaPo:
According to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, even media not directly controlled by the government have been reluctant to report critically on Mr. Chavez.  Many voters, too, are intimidated by high-tech polling machines that read their fingerprints; polls show that they suspect their votes will not be secret.  Those not motivated by fright might be lured by greed:  The government has amassed a list of 3 million people it has promised new homes. There are about 12 million likely voters. 
That Mr. Chavez is in danger of losing in spite of all this is testimony to the havoc he has wreaked in what was once Latin America’s richest country.  At more than 20 percent, inflation is the highest in the region and is accompanied by chronic shortages of food, basic consumer goods and power.  The country’s infrastructure is crumbling:  Within the last two months an explosion at a state oil refinery killed 50 people, and a major highway bridge collapsed.  Perhaps worst of all for average citizens, violent crime has become epidemic under Mr. Chavez.  The murder rate, which has more than tripled, is one of the five highest in the world.  Drug traffickers have made Venezuela a hub for shipments to the United States and Europe with the help of senior government officials, including the current defense minister.
Chavez won his re-election campaign.  Here's a giddy socialist take on the news:
The accomplishments of the Chavez regime over the past 13 years are undeniable.  When he entered office, Chavez took command of an economy that had been ravaged by IMF structural adjustment plans that had devastated most of the welfare subsidies and social guarantees that had been built up by the progressive nationalist regimes of the 1970s.  . . .  [S]ince Chavez was elected President in 1999, unemployment has been cut in half – declining from 14% to 7%.  Increased access to medical care, particularly through community clinics staffed by Cuban physicians, has led to a decline in infant mortality from 20 deaths per 1,000 live births to 13 deaths per 1,000.   Per capita GDP has increased from $4,000 in 1999 to $10,000 today.  And extreme poverty has declined from 23% of the population when Chavez entered office in 1999 to 8.5% today. . . . The election of right wing opposition candidate Henrique Capriles would have meant an immediate end to this process of social transformation. . . .
I guess we'll see.  Chavez is facing another contest that I doubt he'll win.  Whatever path Venezuela takes will have to be without him, one way or another.

A Pithy Commentary on the History of...shall we call it Canaan?

may be found here. Abstracting it to every other part of the human-occupied earth is left as an exercise for the reader. h/t Gene Expression.

Things That Never Cease to Amaze

American society is very strange about its food:
Speaking of eggs, balut is a soft-boiled duck egg, where the embryo is almost fully formed--feathers, bones, and all. The egg is cracked open, the soupy liquid drunk, and the fetus dug out to eat. It's popular in the Philippines, Laos, and other Southeast Asian countries.

What's being done: Thanks to domestic foodie demand, this "snack" is available in the U.S. too. Dekalb Market in Brooklyn hosted its first ever balut-eating contest this summer--and the winner downed 18 embryos in 5 minutes.

What to eat instead: Regular eggs (organic, cage-free, preferably my-farmer-sold-them-to-me eggs, that is) will give you a protein fix without the feathered fetus.
Why should this be a problem? Don't we know from our political debate that there is absolutely no distinction between an egg at day one of fertilization, and an egg about to hatch?

Besides, you'd eat the adult duck, and you'd eat the egg in an earlier state. Why so queasy about eating the almost-hatched fetus? What makes it the one phase that's worthy of protection -- or that makes it the one phase that it is revolting to kill and eat?

Fun with balls

As a way to move balls around to no evident purpose, this struck me as a lot more entertaining than football.