November 30, 2005

They All Look Tougher Than Hayden Christianson
— Ace

squrrilslightsabebattle.jpg

You know why those squirrels have turned to the Dark Side?

Global Warming, that's why.

Photo swiped from World of Wonder (so as not to leach their bandwidth). Check out their paean to Chuck Norris, with a link to the top thirty cool facts about the man I know as "Lone Wolf McQuaid." Here are a few:

*Chuck Norris built a time machine and went back in time to stop the JFK assassination. As Oswald shot, Chuck met all three bullets with his beard, deflecting them. JFK's head exploded out of sheer amazement.

* Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

* The grass is always greener on the other side, unless Chuck Norris has been there. In that case the grass is most likely soaked in blood and tears.

* Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

* A blind man once stepped on Chuck Norris' shoe. Chuck replied, "Don't you know who I am? I'm Chuck Norris!" The mere mention of his name cured this man blindness. Sadly the first, last, and only thing this man ever saw, was a fatal roundhouse delivered by Chuck Norris.

*Chuck Norris can make a woman climax by simply pointing at her and saying "booya".

* Chuck Norris is not hung like a horse... horses are hung like Chuck Norris.

* Chuck Norris is 1/8th Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man ate a fucking Indian.

And yes, I know that list is old, because there's already a lot of votes for the best of 'em.

Posted by: Ace at 09:31 PM | Comments (18)
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Prosecution Seeks Death Penalty For Would-Be VX Bomber
— Ace

The MSM -- which prides itself on asking the "tough questions" and "getting to the heart" of a story -- is apparently incapable of asking where the hell did this guy get twenty tons of VX nerve gas?

The men tried to smuggle from Syria 20 tons of chemicals for an attack in Jordan that would have killed 80,000 people. On Sunday, the prosecution urged the judge to consider the death penalty for the men behind the largest planned WMD attack in history.

The chemicals are believed to be VX nerve gas. There were 20 tons of the weapons and explosives captured coming into Jordan from Syria. Syria doesn't make VX. Saddam Hussein's Iraq did.

Unbiased? Please. It's a 20-ton toxic elephant in the room and the media just couldn't care less.

Some questions must not be asked, for fear of an answer that hurts their agenda.

Posted by: Ace at 09:08 PM | Comments (26)
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Smells Like Tween Spirit
— Dr. Reo Symes

Bat Mitzvah blowout:

For his daughter's coming-of-age celebration last weekend, multimillionaire Long Island defense contractor David H. Brooks booked two floors of the Rainbow Room, hauled in concert-ready equipment, built a stage, installed special carpeting, outfitted the space with Jumbotrons and arranged command performances by everyone from 50 Cent to Tom Petty to Aerosmith.

And not just those three. Also performing at the teenie bash: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Stevie Nicks, Kenny G (Kenny G?). Don’t believe me? Here’s a snap of 'Fitty' keeping it real.

50girl.jpg

And check this blog for snaps of the other "rockers" rocking out for the assembled tween/teens.

No, I’m not going to go off on the Rock-n-Roll sell-out angle. Never really believed in that, and the pictures say all I ever could anyway. Besides, Rock-n-Roll broke my heart a long time ago - been dead to me for bout a decade.

What I wonder about is her classmate. You know, the one whose kinda-not-hip parents booked the Christina Aguilera impersonator for her coming out two weeks later. (“She’s very good honey. She brings her own light show and everything!”)

Man, how much must that kid dread her upcoming shindig? Cause you just know 12 year old girls wouldn’t dream of, say, later circulating a checklist comparing and contrasting the two parties in comical fashion or coming up to her in the hallway at school and asking her if she still has the impersonator's number "Cause my sister, Megan, she has her party next year (*snicker*) and we just thought it was soooo cool."

No. Cause 12 year old girls aren't catty like that.

Posted by: Dr. Reo Symes at 05:37 PM | Comments (61)
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As a complement to Ace's excellent preceeding post...
— Tanker

A Democrat to make Nancy Pelosi proud!

Clement Laird Vallandigham - Copperhead

Although the Democratic party had broken apart in 1860, during the secession crisis Democrats in the North were generally more conciliatory toward the South than were Republicans. They called themselves Peace Democrats; their opponents called them Copperheads because some wore copper pennies as identifying badges. A majority of Peace Democrats supported war to save the Union, but a strong and active minority asserted that the Republicans had provoked the South into secession; that the Republicans were waging the war in order to establish their own domination, suppress civil and states rights, and impose "racial equality"; and that military means had failed and would never restore the Union.

Sound familiar?

The most prominent Copperhead leader was Clement L. Valladigham a former Ohio Congressman from Dayton, Ohio. He was also a notorious, thinly-veiled, Southern sympathizer who made speeches, to anyone who would listen, calling the war, "wicked and cruel," and which was quite obvious to all. Then however, Vallandigham strayed beyond the realm of reality and suggested that the Republicans only wanted to end slavery to further their quest for a dictatorship.

But here is the part which makes me love Lincoln so much!

On May 5, 1863, a Company of the 115th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, dispatched to Dayton, Ohio by special train, broke into Vallandigham's house at 3:00 A.M. and arrested him. The former Congressman was taken from his home in a nightshirt and quickly transported to Cincinnati where he would be tried by a military commission the following day on charges of "treasonable utterances." Riots broke out in Dayton in response to the arrest, with fires destroying an entire city block. Troops from Columbus and and Cincinnati were brought in and martial law declared. Vallandigham was soon convicted of aiding the Confederates, and on May 19, 1863 President Lincoln ordered Secretary of War Stanton to see to it that Vallandigham was banished to "beyond the military lines of the United States and not be permitted to return, under threat of arrest."

Federal troops in Tennessee turned Vallandigham over to the Confederate Army on May 25, 1863. In June, President Davis of the Confederate States, having no use for Vallandigham, orders him to Wilmington, North Carolina to be guarded as an "alien enemy." That same month. Peace Democrats in Ohio nominate the the exiled and incarcerated Vallandigham for Governor. A committee of the Democratic convention demanded that President Lincoln reverse his ordered exile of Vallandigham. Lincoln refused. "Must I," Lincoln lamented, "shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert?" In October, Vallandigham, now exiled by the Confederate States to Canada, would be defeated for the Ohio Governorship by Democrat John Brough from Marietta. On June 14, 1864, one year after being exiled, Clement Vallandigham slips back into the country and arrives in Ohio wearing a feeble disguise that fails to deceive the Federal agents watching him.

There is a happy ending though!

In June of 1871, Clement Vallandigham, defending an Ohio man charged with murder, requested a change of venue to Warren County, Ohio. There, in his hotel room at the Golden Lamb Inn at Lebanon, Ohio, Vallandigham was rehearsing his final arguments to the jury. He would suggest that his client was innocent and that the victim had actually killed himself accidentally. To demonstrate the freak accident he proposed, Vallandigham planned to pull a similar pistol from his trouser pocket to demonstrate how it might accidentally fire. While practicing his arguments in his room at the Golden Lamb, Vallandigham pulled the pistol and, ironically, it fired, sending a bullet into his abdomen at point blank range. Clement Vallandigham, the notorious Southern-sympathizer from Ohio, once banished from the Union by President Lincoln, died the next morning at the age of fifty-one.

Posted by: Tanker at 04:21 PM | Comments (18)
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Ken Burns & Michael Moore Present: Fahrenheit 1861
— Ace

Lincoln misled us into war. That whole slavery deal? Turns out it was complete bullshit, based on "cherry-picked" intelligence and "twisted" reports.

Thanks to Irwin.

Posted by: Ace at 12:19 PM | Comments (40)
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The 'Verse's Tiniest Solar System (Minus the Sol)
— Ace

birdsnbeesnsolarsystems.jpg

A brown star, as far as I understand it, is a gas-giant planet that never accretes enough mass to collapse into the fusion-reactors we know as actual stars. It's a would-be star that never caught fire, in other words. Sort of like Liz Phair.

I don't know if Jupiter is technically a "brown star," but Carl Sagan referred to it as "a star that failed." If only it could have gotten a little bit bigger and maybe pulled in some of Saturn's mass into it... we could have two suns, just like Luke Skywalker did on Tatooine. And how freakin' cool would that be?

And yes, I'm posting this not for the astronomical novelty of it, but chiefly for the potential Google-hits for "brown star." I'd prefer not to explain.

Thanks to Glen.

Posted by: Ace at 11:45 AM | Comments (31)
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Open Thread
— Ace

Because Atrios would want it that way.

Posted by: Ace at 10:51 AM | Comments (31)
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Giant Freakin' Scorpions!
— Ace

Giant freakin' scorpions:

A scientist poring over 330-million-year-old tracks in a layer of sandstone in Scotland believes they were made by an extraordinary water scorpion that was as big as a man.

The huge six-legged creature was about 1.6 metres (64 inches) long and a metre (40 inches) wide, according to the study, published on Thursday in Nature, the weekly British science journal.

Giant. Freakin'. Scorpoions.

Thanks to Brad.

Posted by: Ace at 10:31 AM | Comments (57)
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Top Ten Upcoming NYT Headlines On The Economy
— Ace

10. Falling Jobless Rate Has Perverse Effect: Higher Salaries Result In Rising Labor Costs

9. Amidst Boom, A Piece of Americana Lost: Fewer Rummies Raving In The Streets

8. Rising Incomes Mean More Americans Caught By Alternative Minimum Tax; Minorities, Women Hardest Hit

7. Falling Gas Prices May Lead To Increased Greenhouse Gas Production

6. With Economic Depression Averted, Struggling Discount Hard-Liquor Manufacturers Wonder: "Where Do We Go From Here?"

5. Picking Up The Pieces: Americans Struggle To Find Quality Chinese Restaurants After Relocating To Work At Higher Paying Jobs

4. The Forgotten Victims: As Investments Shift Towards Stocks, Wall Street Bond Traders "Despondant" At Sub-100K Bonuses

3. Economists Fret At Growing "Luxury Gap" Between Filthy Rich and Filthy Stinking Rich

2. The Dark Side of Prosperity: Study Links Rising Disposable Income With Casual Drug Use, Purchase of "Upscale" Pornographic DVDs

....and the Number One Upcoming NYT Headline On The Economy...

1. Paul Krugman Stops Writing Column, Starts Pelting Well-Dressed Passers-By With His Own Feces; "Some Of His Best Work Ever," Raves The American Prospect

Posted by: Ace at 10:17 AM | Comments (6)
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Funny, Funny Stuff: The NYT Spins The Booming Economy As A Very Bad Thing
— Ace

Thanks to Dr. Reo Symes.

The childish pettiness of the complaints should tell you the economy's doing pretty damn well: more...

Posted by: Ace at 09:42 AM | Comments (17)
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Jeneane Garofalo: Republicans Are "Angry"
— Ace

One of the only good jokes she's gotten off since the Ben Stiller show was cancelled.

Posted by: Ace at 08:43 AM | Comments (31)
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Economy Powers To 4.3% GDP Growth, Despite Hurricanes
— Ace

Ka-ching:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy grew at a lively 4.3 percent pace in the third quarter, the best showing in more than a year. The performance offered fresh testimony that the country's overall economic health managed to improve despite the destructive force of Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The new snapshot of economic activity, released by the Commerce Department on Wednesday, showed the growth at an even faster pace than the 3.8 percent annual rate first reported for the July-to-September quarter a month ago.

...

"In anybody's book this is an outstanding performance for the economy," agreed Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics.

...

The third-quarter's showing marked a sizable pickup from the 3.3 percent increase in gross domestic product registered in the second quarter of this year.

...

The upwardly revised reading for GDP in the third quarter also exceeded the expectations of business analysts. Before the report was released, they were forecasting the economy to clock in at a 4 percent pace.

...

When the government's new employment report for November is released Friday, many economists are forecasting a healthy rebound, with the economy adding more than 200,000 jobs during the month.


more...

Posted by: Ace at 08:24 AM | Comments (23)
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Expert Political Judgment
— Dr. Reo Symes

The New Yorker does a good rundown on “Expert Political Judgment: How Good Is It? How Can We Know?”, a new book by Berkeley academic, Philip Tetlock.

As the title suggests, it’s all about how accurate the predictions the political and economic pundits we see and read actually turn out to be. And Tetlock isn’t just some crank, shooting off his mouth. He’s pretty rigorous:

[H]is conclusions are based on a long-term study that he began twenty years ago. He picked two hundred and eighty-four people who made their living “commenting or offering advice on political and economic trends,” and he started asking them to assess the probability that various things would or would not come to pass, both in the areas of the world in which they specialized and in areas about which they were not expert. …By the end of the study, in 2003, the experts had made 82,361 forecasts

And his conculsion? The ‘experts’ are full of it.

eople who make prediction their business—people who appear as experts on television, get quoted in newspaper articles, advise governments and businesses, and participate in punditry roundtables—are no better than the rest of us.
…

Tetlock also found that specialists are not significantly more reliable than non-specialists in guessing what is going to happen in the region they study. Knowing a little might make someone a more reliable forecaster, but Tetlock found that knowing a lot can actually make a person less reliable.

And the big shots are the worst:

Tetlock claims that the better known and more frequently quoted they are, the less reliable their guesses about the future are likely to be. The accuracy of an expert’s predictions actually has an inverse relationship to his or her self-confidence, renown, and, beyond a certain point, depth of knowledge. People who follow current events by reading the papers and newsmagazines regularly can guess what is likely to happen about as accurately as the specialists whom the papers quote.

Tetlock points to a number of explanations, most centering on the psychological foibles inherent in assessing uncertainty, along with simple stuff like the fact there’s really no puditocracy penalty for ‘getting it wrong.’

Anyway, the piece is relatively short, not one of those New Yorker book/articles and well worth the read.

(N.b. My predictions were not part of the study, and remain, of course, rock solid certainties. You can continue to bet the farm on the Good Doctor's forecasts)

(h/t Jane Galt)

Posted by: Dr. Reo Symes at 08:00 AM | Comments (10)
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November 29, 2005

Sarah Silverman, Still Occasionally Funny
— Ace

In a kinda missing the point pan of Silverman's supposed "racism," this TAP writer notes the following Silverman jokes:

She sidesteps the question [of whether she's a racist] entirely: “I don’t care if you think I’m a racist,” she says in Jesus. “I just want you to think I’m thin.”

...

“I once dated a guy who was half-black,” she says, as proof she’s a nice, progressive person. “Oh my God … I’m such a pessimist … he’s half-white

... The comedian kicked up a storm when she used the word “chink” in a routine on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 2001. She described wanting to get out of jury duty by writing something offensive on the candidate form. A friend suggested, “I hate chinks.” Not wanting to be so racist, she claimed, she wrote, “I love chinks.”

["Apologizing" for the joke on Bill Maher's show, she said:]

“As a Jew -- as a member of the Jewish community -- I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media. Right? What kind of a world do we live in where a totally cute white girl can’t say ‘chink’ on network television? It’s like the fifties. It’s scary.”

Okay, the writer does take this shot at Margaret Cho:

Silverman doesn’t need to go into Pulpitland, where the once screechingly hilarious and now tiresomely pedantic Margaret Cho now lives. She doesn’t need to strap on her social-justice message and fuck the audience up the ass with it, as self-proclaimed fag hag and raunch queen Cho does these days.

Screechingly hilarious? I guess I missed those five minutes.

The writer identifies herself as half-Asian (she's writing for a liberal magazine, so it's always necessary to demonstrate one's diversity-quals), but she seems to be going out of her way to find offense in this absurdist gag:

But Silverman could take out the lazy jokes, like the one that draws on an old anti-Asian playground taunt that I didn’t get. “My friend Steve…actually went pee-pee in my Coke,” she riffs in Jesus. “He’s all, ‘Me Chinese, me play joke.’ Uh, if you have to explain it, Steve, it’s not funny.”

Indeed, if you have to explain it, it isn't funny. But it's not a joke about Asians; it's a joke about, well, overanalyzing a completely puerile joke and the futility of such.

As a white guy, I can certainly understand that I've never really been exposed to seriously-intended racism and so I shouldn't just say, "Oh, toughen up." But these seem pretty harmless to me. They're ironic. They're jokes about racism. They no more endorse racism than her crack, "I was raped by my doctor... being a Jewish girl, it was so bittersweet" is an endorsement of rape. [That gag recalled by a poster whom I forget.]

Doesn't mean the movie's any good, though. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Ace at 06:54 PM | Comments (63)
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Letting A Smile Be Your Umbrella, And Other Ways To Get Yourself Dead
— Ace

The peace group to which the four kidnapped westerners announces on its website:

CPT does not advocate the use of violent force to save lives of its workers should they be kidnapped, held hostage, or caught in the middle of a conflict situation.

In related news, my local 7-11 has a sign announcing, "Warning: Safe contains a hell of a lot more than $50, the cashier definitely does know the combination (and don't let her tell you otherwise!), and incidentally has a hell of a body on her to boot."

Or at least it used to have that sign. After every single item was looted from it, the place was bought for dimes on the dollar by a guy who put up this sign:

May not look like much, but at least he's still in business.

Via Instapundit, who has his own policy.


Posted by: Ace at 06:15 PM | Comments (16)
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Please Don't Out Personal/Private Information About Anyone, Even Trolls
— Ace

I missed the whole controversy.

A poster kinda-sorta erred by posting a picture of a troll and his family. I say "kinda-sorta," because the guy had it up on a website (assuming it was him at all). Still, he didn't offer that connection to his personal life himself, and it's not cool to post stuff like that.

I was just on a site -- I don't think I'll bother to say which one, because I don't want to give them traffic* -- where the proprietors or someone involved began researching the IP's of conservative interlopers and outing the place of work they were posting from.

It's not really such horribly damaging information, but it's creepy and threatening. I don't know what someone could do with such information to really harm you, but the implied statement is "I can get to you personally. I can do things to screw up your life."

Empty threat? I don't know. I know it's possible to find the exact location someone's posting from with the right software. And with that-- who knows?

Monty and others were wise to caution against this, the guy who posted it manned up and confessed error and asked to have the information edited out of the post, and Laura did the right thing by honoring the request. Thanks, all.

And to the poster whose picture may (or may not) have been linked-- I apologize for that. You're annoying as hell, and you evade any point you don't have a glib answer for, but we deal in arguments (and insults) here, not in the public revelation of private information with the nasty insinuation that more might be coming.

As Monty (I think) said, "That's the way we don't roll."

Again, sorry I missed this controversy, and good on Laura for fixing it. And yes, Laura, I trust your judgement on these things and I don't think it's likely you're ever going to do something that makes me recoil in horror.


* I also wouldn't want you going there because they'd just start posting your IP address and getting your place of employment. And, who knows, making phone calls to your bosses. They also hack posts they don't like by taking all the vowels out of them -- a cute practice they call "disenvowelment" which they maintain, quite straight-facedly, has nothing at all to do with the censoring of points of view they don't like -- so you wouldn't have any fun there anyhow.

Edited: I took out the name of the poster who put the link up, because people thought I was picking on him, which wasn't my intention at all. It wasn't the worst thing ever done, he decided it was wrong, he asked for it to be edited out.

I'm just noting all this not to call attention to what was specifically done, which wasn't all that terrible, but to make it clear that it's just not a cool area to get into.

Posted by: Ace at 03:33 PM | Comments (104)
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Al Qaeda Killed Kenny?
— Harry Callahan

Now here is a novel tactic in the war against Islamofascism that we should be able to unite behind!

Posted by: Harry Callahan at 03:28 PM | Comments (4)
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Woe Canada
— Ace

A huge political scandal, a fall of government, an election held during the holiday season -- mark your calendars, 29 November 2005 is the date upon which Canada nearly threatened to almost become somewhat close to marginally interesting.

Posted by: Ace at 12:28 PM | Comments (19)
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Liberals Pledge: We'll "Connect The Dots" The Moment After An Attack Occurs
— Ace

Good piece from Lorie Byrd about Democrats who say, with some degree of pride, that they never acted to remove Saddam Hussein despite believing him to be a threat.

As Lorie says, it's a simple question. All intelligence is, by its nature, vague, fragmentary, and open to multiple interpretations. After 9/11, should our instinct be to act upon worrisome but incomplete information, or to refrain from acting?

Before 9/11, the nation did the former. And the Democratic Party wants to continue that policy. Because, you know, that worked so beautifully for us during the 80's, 90's, and early 00's.


The Democratic Party

Our national security policy is taking the old "wait and see" attitude. After all, what's the worse that could happen?


Posted by: Ace at 12:14 PM | Comments (18)
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