As Instructed by the Dear Leader...

... we discussed the Affordable Care Act around the dinner table today.  Out starting point was "The ACA: does it stink like a two-week old dead chipmunk, or a three-week old dead skunk?" and the conversation pretty much ended there.  As the saying goes, it is important to be able to recognize when you have come to violent agreement, and then move on.

At which point we did the most hateful, harmful thing you can do to any government or politician, and ignored them completely.  We enjoyed garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus casserole, showpeg corn, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and cheesy biscuits [1].  So all in all the day turned out pretty well, even without the government sticking its dang-blasted nose into our giving of thanks.

Funny how that worked out, innit?

[1] Oh, and there may have been some turkey somewhere in there, too.

Separated At Birth?

Uncanny, isn't it?

Kathleen Sebelius as Director of HHS

Glenn Close as Cruella de Vil

Of course, superficial appearance aside, there is absolutely no comparison between the two.  One is a fundamentally dishonest, egotistical elitist hell bent on the destruction of innocents.  The other is a fictional character.

Budding Artist

Eldest Daughter's most recent art project: Sasuke Uchiha from Naruto, done as a collage pieced together out of scraps cut from magazines.  She worked hard on this, and I think it turned out rather well.

Holiday PSA

The holidays are approaching, and that means time together with family.  If you are of a certain age, there is a good chance that you may end up spending time with younger family members - nieces, nephews, or younger cousins - who will be returning to share tales of the first few years of their life in college.  It will be your sad duty, in many cases, to disabuse these poor, misguided souls of the idea that they actually have a clue as to how the world really works.

With that in mind, here's a public service announcement from Lawrence Person that you may want to keep in mind and keep handy, just in case.
Dear Undergraduates: Communism Doesn’t Work In the Real World
Because our great nation is constantly producing new crops of naive undergraduates, it occurs to me that it might be time to explicate what is painfully obvious to even the most casual observers outside the self-delusional circles of college bull sessions, academic Marxists and Occupy Wall Street. Namely:
  • Communism does not work.
  • Communism has never worked at any point in the past.
  • Communism will never work at any point in the future as long as human beings are involved.
  • Attempts to implement communism in the real world inevitably lead to failure, misery, and death. (Indeed, some 100 million deaths.)
When capitalism falls short of the platonic libertarian ideal, the result is Switzerland. 
When communism falls short of the wondrous utopia existing in true believers’ heads, the result is Pol Pot’s Cambodia. 
These two failure modes are not identical.
Linked, bookmarked, and noted for my own personal use, Just In Case™.  I consider my family (both sides) to be more or less sane, but there always seems to be that one relative... You know, the one who doesn't just march to the beat of a different drummer, but insists on doing a Czek-fusion performance art version of a traditional Aegean folk dance accompanied by atonal nose flute music.  Every family seems to have at least one, for some reason.

Depending on your family, you might maybe think about having glossy pamphlets printed up... Just In Case™.

Renaissance Age Super Heroes

Worth1000 hosts a variety of photo-editing and illustrative contests. One of their contest series, Superhero ModRen, challenges users to incorporate superheroes into fine art pieces. 

The gallery includes quite a few images - some well done, some not quite so, but all inspired.  Some of my favorites:

"Wonder Woman" by FlashDaz

"Rembrandt vs Joker" by Valgio

Justice League? by Briman222

I particularly like the Escher image.  However... if I had the skill and ability to do something like this, I would have had Elijah Snow holding the globe, with Jakita Wagner and Ambrose Chase in the background.

Sigh.  I would love to see a Planetary movie.  Unfortunately, though, it's a D.C. property, so it's probably best left off the big screen until such time (if ever) they learn how to produce a decent movie.

The Joliet Jake Presidency

It's tough to write the words "responsibility" and "Obama" in the same sentence.  We have as President a man who never took to heart Mitt Romney's wise observation that "leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses." 
Obama is a case study of what in Spanish is known as the "se me cayo" phenomenon. In Spanish, when you drop something, you didn't. It dropped itself from you. For Obama anything that turns out crooked, wrong, or manifestly stoooopid is somebody else's fault. He just read about it in the papers this morning, and, by golly, "there's nobody madder than me about it." We have seen this stunt over and over these past five-plus years.
Hurm.  Where were Jake and Elwood from, again?  Ah, that's right.  Chicago.

Coincidence?  I think not.

"Very dangerous. You go first."

The tomb of Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan -- who created the world’s most powerful empire by raiding and invading across Eurasia -- is a lost treasure archaeologists have sought for years. And one man thinks he knows where it is. 
“Ghengis Khan’s tomb is my obsession,” Nichols, a noted authority on the emperor, exclusively told “I couldn’t stop thinking about it. But I’m not happy just reading about it, or knowing about it. I need to have my feet on it.”
Be very careful, Mr. Nichols.  You may find exactly what you are looking for...

To seek the sacred river Alph,
To walk the caves of ice;
To break my fast on honey dew,
And drink the milk of paradise...

I had heard the whispered tales 
Of immortality –
The deepest mystery –
From an ancient book, I took a clue

I scaled the frozen mountain tops 
Of eastern lands unknown,
Time and Man alone,
Searching for the lost – Xanadu.


To stand within the Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan!
To taste anew the fruits of life
The last immortal man!

To find the sacred river Alph!
To walk the caves of ice!
Oh, I will dine on honeydew
And drink the milk of Paradise!

A thousand years have come and gone,
But time has passed me by;
Stars stopped in the sky.
Frozen in an everlasting view

Waiting for the world to end,
Weary of the night;
Praying for the light.
Prison of the lost – Xanadu.


Held within the Pleasure Dome
Decreed by Kubla Khan...
To taste my bitter triumph,
As a mad immortal man.

Nevermore shall I return,
Escape these caves of ice;
For I have dined on honeydew,
And drunk the milk of Paradise...

74% Republican, 71% Libertarian

The quiz, and my results.  Honestly, I think that the weighting may be a little off.  For the issues that I felt most strongly about, I was aligned with the Libertarians.  For the larger number of issues that I was more "meh" over, I tended to side with the Republicans.

As usual with polls of this sort, I suspect that there are some significant simplifications made in how answers to certain questions are evaluated.  Seeing as I know pro-life Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents, for example, I wonder how they score the "Yes, I am pro-life" questions without getting into a whole lot more subtleties than the existing crop of answers allows for.

Still... yeah, I think the results are pretty good.  A total of 179%, though?  The only explanation for that I can imagine is that there is more than a bit of of overlap these days between the Republicans and the Libertarians...

When Life Imitates Dilbert

The lead contractor on the dysfunctional Web site for the Affordable Care Act is filled with executives from a company that mishandled at least 20 other government IT projects, including a flawed effort to automate retirement benefits for millions of federal workers, documents and interviews show.
How in the world could this festering ball of failure that calls itself a company manage to get a second government IT project, let alone another score, you might ask?  Wally explains:

"People will forget my failure and remember that I'm experienced."

I suspect that Hillary repeats that to herself in the mirror every morning as her motivational mantra.

Still A Better Love Story Than Twilight

Last week, someone in the office lost a sock near my cube.  A hue and cry was raised via email ("Hey!  Is this your sock?"), but the poor little sock went unclaimed.  As a result, it was moved to the window close to the stairs, with the hopes that some passerby would see it, and say "Hey!  That's my sock!"

The next day, we were surprised to see that the sock had... acquired a bit of personality.  Peering out into the office, Ms. Sock was obviously looking for something, or someone.  Her long-lost owner, perhaps?

No!  Coming in to work the next day, it became clear... what we had here was not a lost sock, but an office romance!  The handsome and dashing Mr. Sock was quite obviously smitten by Ms. Sock's charms.

Love - true love - blossomed, with the inevitable results...

Quite a happy little family, aren't they?


From Jeff M. on Facebook, commenting on the increasing evidence that what we are looking at in the coming decades is global cooling, not global warming:
The Paul Ehrlich types moved seamlessly from global cooling to global warming. I'm sure they can move back again, as long as the solution is massive suffering and poverty. Cause history begins this morning.

Some Comments on Thor: The Dark World

Potential spoilers ahead.  I will try to keep it general, but, y'know.  Schpoilers!

Then again, if the fact that there are fight scenes in the movies are going to spoil Thor : The Dark World for you, there is a good chance you wandered into the wrong theater.

In any case, yinz guys have been warned, n'at.  Onward!

Thor: The Dark World is a touching tale of two men who were caught in a storm which encompassed the whole world.

Hmm.  I pulled that off of a random comment, trying to be ironic. Turns out it's a pretty good description of the movie.  The two men in question are, of course, Thor and his brother Loki.  Chris Hemsworth does a great job as Thor, which is to be expected.  As for Tom Hiddleston as Loki... look, can I be honest with you?  Truly, truly honest with you?

By the end of the movie, I was rooting for Loki.

Hiddleston did a great job in the original Thor and again in The Avengers.  In T:TDW, though, he really stepped things up.  It would have been so very easy for him to let Loki come across as just another comic book villain.  Instead, he managed to paint a picture of a very complex character who has his own loyalties, motivations, and desires.  Loyalties that can sometimes make him an ally; motivations that are not always clear; and desires that are more tragic flaws than "evil for evil's sake".

The rest of the cast did an adequate job.  Natalie Portman is a bit meh, particularly when compared to her portrayal of the character of Jane in the first movie.  The other folks in the movie turned in decent, solid performances, though they seemed... more flat.  Not bad, mind you, just not as real as they were in first movie.

A notable exception to that is Stellan Skarsgård.  I have seen some people complain that his depiction of Erik Selvig as an addled nutjob fell flat, the assumption being that his character was intended as comic relief.  Halfway through the movie, I would have agreed... just up until the point where he turns to another character, and says, deadpan, "I've had a god in my head.  I wouldn't recommend it."

Ye-owch.  For me, those two sentences put Erik under a whole new light.  Thor and the Avengers might shake off a fistfight with Loki, but when mere mortals tangle with those same forces, damage will be done, and will take longer to heal... if it ever does.  (Which makes me wonder how well Hawkeye is dealing with his particular instance of having Loki scramble his skull, eh?)  As the Marvel universe movies develop, I sincerely hope we see less of the loony madman from T:TDW, and more of the original Erik Selvig as his character recovers from the events in The Avengers.

Oh, the plot?  Bad guy shows up.  Tries to get his hands on a superweapon that can destroy the Nine Worlds.  Hijinks ensue, things get blown up, redshirts die in interesting ways.  In the end, the good guys stop him, after a really cool fight scene that literally rages across multiple worlds.

I mean, come on.  It's THOR.  What did you expect?

So.  Summary?

Two thumbs up.  Good flick.  Grab some popcorn, come for the fight scenes, stay to root for Loki.

OK, now for some general comments...

I really liked the fact that they took the opportunity in this movie to cement the fact that the Asgardians are not gods.  They have incredible technology, true... but it is technology that is at least understandable, if not yet reproducible by us mere Earthlings.  Along these lines, the scene with Jane in the Soul Forge was particularly good for a chuckle.

After this movie, I find myself wishing we could see Sif, Fandral, Hogun and Volstagg in their own feature film.  I want to see more of Fandral, in particular.  There were more than a couple of scenes in the movie that made me think, "Would I pay money to watch these four fight alien space pirates?  Why, yes.  Yes I would."

The traditional Marvel "sneak peak" in the end credits was... interesting.  There was a definite Star Trek:TOS look and feel going on there.  I don't know if that was accidental or intentional.  Does it imply something about the part that the Collector will play upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy movie?  When we saw Thanos at the end of The Avengers, his role was pretty darn clear: Big Bad.  In contrast, the Collector is a Loki-like character, in that he has his own plans and motivations.  While he is a sometimes opponent of the Avengers, he also has his own history with Thanos, so... yeah.  Somewhere there's a Facebook entry that says, "It's complicated".

Finally... someone in Asgard really needs to talk to Nick Fury and get a loan of some SHIELD advisors to beat some sense into the common Asgardian foot soldier.  Seriously, guys?  Enemy space ship crashes into the freaking palace, slides to a halt within spitting distance of Odin's throne, and... you advance on it with shields and swords?  You're chasing someone back to that same ship, trying to keep them from taking off, and you deal with a single opponent in your way by piling on him in hand to hand combat instead of, say, splitting your forces so you at least have a chance of accomplishing your mission?

I know, I know.  You Asgardians have this whole "Nordic Warrior" motif thing going.  That seems to be working for you, I guess.  Mostly.  Kind of.  I'm just saying that maybe you should look into the concept of things like ranged energy weapons and cover fire.  Oh, and could you at least pretend that you're interested in learning some small squad tactics?  That would be swell.

Post Referencing Opinion Piece

No doubt you will have noticed that Issue has been in the news lately, due to the scandalous behaviour of Public Figure, and the controversial comments of Publicity-Hungry Commentator. The editor of this site and I were discussing the Issue just the other day, and we agreed that making a glib reference to that discussion at the start of this piece would add a sense of authority to my authorial voice, as well as suggesting that the site upon which this piece is being published shares my opinionated stance on this Issue.
I was inspired to write this piece by Currently Fashionable Polemicist, who summarised the Issue better than I could when they said “oversimplification that makes me feel smart”. I have a strong opinion on this Issue, and my sharing it with you at this time is in no way attributable to opportunism on my part, due to the Issue’s sudden prominence in the news cycle. I haven’t exaggerated my position in the interests of raising my public profile, and here I am casually dropping in a reference to a long-ago instance that proves I have cared about the Issue for longer than you.
Generic urging of readers to go RTWT because the aticle is too full of fail/win for your humble correspondent to summarize it accurately.

Snarky comment that either mocks and/or endorses the opinion specified above.

Pass That Torch, Will Ya?

Via The Crank:
The government is clumsy, incompetent, greedy, corrupt, and prone to suddenly decide that behavior that has always been legal is now criminal. Not our government now; all governments, ever. For these reasons it is nearly always in the citizens’ interest to keep the State blind, deaf, and crippled.
Harsh?  Consider...
That's just from today.

I won't even include the latest news reports on the ongoing IRS scandals, the Benghazi hearings, the Obamacare debacle, and the latest and greatest "Oops, yeah, we totally forgot to mention we were also violating those other laws, our bad" NSA Revelation of the Day ™.

Blind, deaf, and crippled.  I like the sound of that.


TORONTO - Greenpeace is committing “crimes against humanity” by attempting to block the distribution of genetically-modified Golden Rice which could prevent the deaths of millions of children, said a founder of the environmental organization.
“I left Greenpeace in 1986 when they abandoned logical science,” Moore said at a downtown Toronto protest outside Greenpeace’s headquarters. “Greenpeace is back in the dark ages (opposing modified food). They are targeting Golden Rice even though it targets a human need.”
As I have said before, this is a hot button topic for me.

Seeing Mr. Moore and others with his background in environmentalism confronting the irrationality of the modern environmental movement is a cause for hope.

I Need Me One of Them There Space Thing-a-ma-bahbs

Wait, no.  Eldest Daughter, Middle Daughter, Youngest Daughter... sheesh.  I will really need a whole array of orbital death options for when these girls start dating.  It will cost a pretty penny, I'm sure, but you know what?  I am quite all right with that.

A kiss on the hand may be quite continental, but orbital nuclear death rays are a Dad's best friend.

"No job, no home, no peace, no rest, no rest."

Man walks along the railroad track
He's goin' some place, there's no turnin' back 
The Highway Patrol chopper comin' up over the ridge
Man sleeps by a campfire under the bridge
The shelter line stretchin' around the corner
Welcome to the New World Order
Families sleepin' in their cars out in the Southwest
No job, no home, no peace, no rest, no rest.

And the highway is alive tonight
Nobody's foolin' nobody is to where it goes
I'm sitting down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the Ghost of Tom Joad

Let's Put It Into Context, Shall We?

"Read my lips: If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

Since We're Talking About Democrats Today...

Here is an interesting bit from House of Eratosthenes on "Failure to Internalize":
It seems to start, generally, with a feeling of revulsion against what is perceived to be an unfair “distribution of wealth.” There are many mistakes in just this first step, most prominent of which is fabricating the event by which these assets were somehow “distributed.” Much further down the line in this menagerie of grave mistakes, where all the tragedy really starts, is this thought: I’m supporting this plan that is intended to help people, and this must therefore mean that anybody who opposes me must want to hurt those same people.
It is as wrong-headed as it is commonplace. And for those who do not know, oh my goodness, it is commonplace. It’s hard to put it into words.
I daresay there is no class of thinking being on the globe that has less of a grasp of something, than strident modern American liberals grasping the motives of their opposition. It is truly a whole new threshold of ignorance. Someone should circulate a questionnaire sometime just for laughs. “Conservatives want more little kids to get gunned down at schools.” “They want more poison in the drinking water.” “They don’t want to pay their fair share.” 
The biggest lie in the world about liberals is that they want to think globally and act locally. If they thought globally, the health care website would work as well as, and would’ve cost about as much to get online. That’s not how they think at all. They want to win arguments. That’s it. 
Go take a look at The Daily Kos and tell me this isn't an accurate assessment.


From Bruce Poindexter, on Facebook:
You can't tell Democrats, "You lied to me," and expect a reaction. You have to extend yourself and explain to them why lying is a problem.
Explains a lot, doesn't it?