A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away...

... a man parlayed the movie script for an otherwise run-of-the-mill space opera into a multi-billion dollar film studio and special effects house.

And now?

Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.
One hundred percent?  Yowza.  How in the world did he manage to retain complete control? 
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing.
Four.  Billion.  Dollars.

Four billion dollars.

He just more than doubled his net worth.

I've got to imagine that he's pretty happy about that... and yet, I keep hearing this in the back of my head, spoken in Steamboat Mickey's voice...
The ability to destroy the childhood memories of millions is insignificant next to the power of the Mouse.  Hee-hee!
Indeed.  I just hope that a significant part of the deal is that good ol' George has zero creative control over whatever happens with future Star Wars franchise development...

VA Inaction In Action

LOS ANGELES, CA – Speaking to assembled press today, officials with the Department of Veterans Affairs announced the closure of all VA facilities west of the Mississippi river in response to possible dangers that may arise from Hurricane Sandy...
The facilities closure is set to last for approximately 2 weeks, although Shinseki has said that the VA will do everything in its power to keep its doors closed to veterans for longer, if possible.
One of the key elements of satire is that it has to be at least somewhat believable.  Having worked with the VA, I have to say that they hit the nail on the head for this one.

R.I.P., HMS Bounty

Rescuers at the United States Coast Guard have swung into action this morning after receiving word that the crew of the 180-foot, three-masted tall ship, HMS Bounty, has abandoned ship approximately 90 miles southeast of Hatteras, North Carolina.
Forced to abandon ship, 14 crewmen have been recovered and flown to Air Station Elizabeth City.  A C-130 and Jayhawk remain on the scene, searching for the remaining two crewmen.
The Bounty was built in Nova Scotia in 1960 specifically for the 1962 film, Mutiny on the Bounty, and has also been used in the Pirates of the Caribbean films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.  As of this year, the vessel has been offered up for sale at a price of $4.6 million.

Obama's In Trouble

... and the left knows it.  Which is why they're already lining up their excuses.

Remember, folks.  If you don't vote for Obama, it's obviously because you're a deceitful racist.

Because nobody anywhere could [0] ever [1] think [2] that [3] Obama [4] was [5] doing [6] a less [7] than [8] stellar [9] job [10].

[0] Drone kill lists.
[1] Fast and Furious.
[2] Benghazi security failures.
[3] Lies about Benghazi.
[4] Solyndra.
[5] Labor force participation.
[6] Underpaid female staffers.
[7] Israel.
[8] Obamacare abortion mandates.
[9] Violating federal law for political gain.
[10] Congress?  Who needs 'em?
[11] Oh, and the GM bailout.  And... how many more failed "green" investments? And Honduras (remember that?) And shutting down oil production in the Gulf.  And obstacles to drilling for oil and gas under public land leases.  And the Russian "reset switch".  And killing the Keystone Pipeline.  And attacking natural gas production.  And promises of "more flexibility" after the election.  And you have to pass the bill to see what's in the bill.  And ignoring the Iranian uprising in 2009.  And military involvement in in Libya (sometimes).  And using a small time con artist and film-maker as a political scapegoat.  And... well.  I'm sure you get the idea.

This Is News?

Moreover, Pew’s latest survey only reaffirms previous surveys demonstrating the same result. 
In fact, the results weren’t even close. 
In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols.  Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals. 
In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12.  In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.
Well, shucks.  I've known this for years.

If your "big four" issues are birth control, Big Bird, binders and bayonets, it's a pretty good indication that you're not living in the same world as the rest of us.

"Very bad, Indy. You go first."

Indiana Jones, denied tenure:
Dr. Jones: As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee’s deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria... 
... no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist’s tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver.
(Hat tip to Borepatch for the link!)

Rope. It's What's For Breakfast.

At least, it would be if there were some justice in the world.

Officer Steve Gilley of the Downey Police Department will not face charges from the Los Angeles District Attorney's office for the October 2011 submachine gun death of Michael Nida in Downey, Calif.

Prosecutor Stephanie Sparagna, however, wrote that Nida repeatedly resisted arrest and ran from police three times. He also ignored warnings from police, including one from the officer that he would "blow his head off" if Nida did not show his hands. 

Cowpathing the Code

Coding Horror talks about The Future of Markdown
Markdown is asimple little humane markup languagebased on time-tested plain text conventions from the last 40 years of computing...
Unfortunately, it lacks a real specification, which makes creating a conforming implementation impossible.  So, the solution?  Take what works, smooth off the rough edges, and create a spec.
I want this new language – working name "Rockdown" – to be seen as Markdown with a spec, and therefore only deviate from Markdown's behavior in unobtrusive ways. It should basically be a replacement that paves over the problems and ambiguities in Markdown. I'm trying to draw a line between what behavior is important to preserve and what behavior isn't.
Reminds me a lot of the mostly apocryphal stories of cowpathing.

"What an unbelievable coincidence!"

So, the Obama campaign borrows $15 million from the Bank of America... then six weeks later, and three weeks before the loan is due, federal prosecutors sue Bank of America for one beeellion dollars.

Just a coincidence, I'm sure.

Bank of America is a nice place, after all.  It would be a... shame... if anything were to happen to it.

In A Nutshell

A friend on Facebook wraps it all up pretty neatly, as far as I'm concerned:
I have to say, I can't wait for this to be over either. 
I'm dog tired of having aspersions cast upon my intelligence by the party of 'tolerance'. 
I'm tired of insults and hate hurled at me by the people of the party of 'peace'. 
I'm sick of being told that I hate working people by those in 'the pro-working-class' party - and they don't bother to learn that my ideology changed in the days that I was rolling change to make rent and trading grocery money to pay bills. 
Maybe my answer as to why that happened at that particular time in my life, might garner interesting discussion or debate. 
Maybe the person accusing me might actually learn that I had good reason behind my ideological conversion, but they'd rather lay blanket insults upon me. 
I try not to pay attention to politics at all anymore, and I don't steamroll people with my politics, anymore. 
I just am looking forward to seeing the deep, personal insults - regarding personal appearance, intelligence (or lack therein), heart for people (or lack therein) - disappear. 
Rotten, mean posts put up by friends and acquaintances from the far left are starting to get under my skin. 
I do not want to hear about 'tolerance, love, charity and unity' in America - from people who are perfectly okay laying blanket and intentionally cutting insults geared at their own friends. 
The fact is, I do not see the level of base insult and bald disregard from people on my friend list whom I know to be on the political right (to varying degrees). 
No! I see the insults and get my cars keyed by the people who stand for "tolerance". 

Well, Obama Did Say We Have Enough Ships...

BOSTON, MA – With the US Navy increasingly stretched trying to meet its commitments in both the Pacific and the Middle East, the Department of the Navy announced today that it will be re-activating its entire mothball fleet... 
According to Navy officials, the Constitution, currently celebrating the 200th anniversary of her victory over the British warship HMS Guerriere, will relieve the destroyer USS Porter, which was damaged last month in a collision in the Strait of Hormuz while playing chicken with a lighthouse...
Navy officials are also hoping that the favorable publicity will help raise awareness of its core mission of protecting the freedom of the seas and remind the public about the 285 ships in the Navy’s inventory that do not involve SEALs.

Wired Violin

Violin Plays Requiem for the Dying Hard Drive
Violin gear helps run the online services operated by the likes of eBay and AOL. The Mountain View, California-based company topped $100 million in revenues last year, as Violin CEO Don Basile told us in September. And according to a recent story from Bloomberg Businessweek, the company is preparing a stock market IPO — or initial public offering — that could value its business at $2 billion.
Congratulations to all y'all over at Violin (and especially to Silent... er, I mean, Jon).

Though, really, I think that we're doing a pretty good job of showing that the hard drive's not dead yet...

Taliban Truthers

What had been a unified voice against the Taliban, and the possibility of action, is receding before a backlash... 
“We have mixed feelings about Malala,” said the man, Raja Imran, 30, his eyes shaded by sunglasses, fiddling with a pack of Marlboros.  “Was it the Americans who shot her or was it Al Qaeda? We don’t know. Some people think this is all an American publicity stunt to make their point against the Taliban.”
We don't know, so we'll make up our own story and call that the truth.

No wonder progressives feel at home with radical Islam.

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

Quote of the Day

From bagoh20 over at Althouse, reproduced here in it's entirety because... well, because it's awesome:
If a Republican was in office the last four years would we even need an election. Biden could win if that was the case. Just imagine that for a minute, with all the media stories about the unemployed suffering families, the homeless, all the people on food stamp. Oh my God, what about that deficit, and no budget for 3 years. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the 2000 dead mark in Afghanistan. "Where is the President's plan?" would be asked every day, every time he popped up his head. Keyboards would be burning up all through the MSM. It would be humming like a bee hive 24/7, digging into stories, looking for answers. Just think about that for a second. 
But what do we get now? Binders. An endless studied exploration of each word spoken that could mean something it didn't. Little exploration of what's being done, or even what the words are saying, but just a sophomoric intense masturbation over single words themselves and how they can be twisted. The whole political world has been reduced to an endless scrabble game argument.
"But what do we get now?  Binders."

And Big Bird.

And Birth Control.

The Democrats just can't seem to get past the letter "B", can they?

Maybe because if they do, they'll be into words like...




Yeah, That Makes Sense

A female middle school teacher apparently sync'd her school-supplied iPad with her own account, and as demanded by the laws of narrative causality, hilarity ensued:
Well, here’s an embarrassing tech story out of Anderson, Indiana. A middle school teacher inadvertently gave her students a sex ed lesson when they discovered a racy photo of her on their school-issued iPad... 
That is, if you define "hilarity" as "school administrators punishing the innocent":
But worst of all, the students are being punished for the teacher’s mistake:
Those students have been suspended and threatened with expulsion. 
The school district said it has taken action against the teacher, but they wouldn’t specify what action, only that she is still a member of the school staff. 
The teacher made a mistake... and the administration decides to punish her students instead of her.



Danxia refers to a "type of petrographic geomorphology" found in China. What that means is you get these mountains that look as though they were decorated with crayons by a five-year-old channelling Dalí.
Very beautiful, and very interesting.  The description definitely fits!

Paul Jones, the Earth-Girdler

Wondermark always has interesting tidbits - today, it was the story of Paul Jones, the Earth-Girdler:
The late nineteenth century was full of daredevils, fame-seekers, and people doing absurd things for the sake of doing absurd things. Mass communication was new, and could bring nationwide notoriety to anyone able to break some barrier or accomplish something no one else had...
The plan, in short, was as follows: “Jones” had made a wager that he would start out on a trip around the world as Nature made him — that is, naked. He guaranteed that he would make the trip in a year, starting without a penny in the world, and without begging or borrowing on the way.
This immediately reminded me of One Red Paperclip.

FCC Bounty

The FCC is offering a $50,000 bounty for the best overall solution for stopping robocalls:
The FTC Robocall Challenge (the “Competition”) is an initiative of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) challenging the public to create innovative solutions that will block illegal robocalls on landlines and mobile phones.
“Dans ce pay-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un robo-caller pour décourager les autres.”

Where can I pick up my check?

"Be Still, My Beating Heart!"


Remote attack turns off pacemakers
IOActive researcher Barnaby Jack has reverse-engineered a pacemaker transmitter to make it possible to deliver deadly electric shocks to pacemakers within 30 feet and rewrite their firmware.
As Borepatch said, "What could possibly go wrong?"


Violin Memory Inc., a maker of flash memory for data centers, filed to go public last month under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, said two people familiar with the matter...
Violin, whose high-speed storage systems are being used in products deployed by Cisco Systems Inc., Oracle Corp. and VMware Inc., will follow a crop of technology companies to hit the public markets this year. 
Very exciting news for me, as I've got good friends working there.  It's great to see them succeeding, and awesome to see that they're in the company of a bunch of good, solid technology companies that are starting to hit the scene.

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

HIdden History

The Cuban Missile Crisis, as Viewed From a Soviet Launch Facility
Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK...
Few had been aware of the actual threat of a potential nuclear missile war at that time... When the world really was on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe, only a very small number of people in the USSR and the United States realized it.


This past weekend, I attended poll worker training.  Yeah, once again, I'm going to be the judge of elections in our district. [1]  Woo-hoo!  A grueling day dealing with the public, with the possibility of huge fines and/or jail time if I screw something up!

I really can't understand why more people don't want to help out at the polls.

Anyways, thanks to a scheduling conflict, I ended up attending a training session in another district a few miles away.  Now, as I've commented before, western PA politics is pretty much Democratic Party politics.  The really important local races are the Democratic primaries.  This particular district I was in for training is as blue collar, middle class, and solidly Democratic as they come.

Which is why I was very much surprised that the most popular questions during the Q&A following the training were some variant of "Um... say a voter wants to vote straight party ticket, but change just one of their votes to... someone else.  How does that work?"


Just as icing on the cake, on the way home, I counted yard signs.  Romney/Ryan 7, Obama 0. Come to think of it... I haven't seen more than 2-3 Obama signs at all in the past month.

Is Pennsylvania as a whole in play?  Maybe.  If the Democratic GOTV drives can convince enough people in Philly and environs to wander into the polling places on November 6th.

I'm starting to think anything west of Gettysburg is a lost cause for Obama, though.

Which gives me some hope.

[1] Appointed, not elected - our last judge recently passed away.  She had asked me to fill in for her once before, which left me where I am today.

A Year of Blasphemy?

The incendiary film ""The Innocence of Muslims" was merely an unconvincing pretext for a terrorist attack, not the true cause of the attack. Yet the film has spurred new discussions of American free speech exceptionalism, and led some to question whether we should hew to the First Amendment in the face of worldwide demands for an international ban on blasphemy... 
We should address such views, not ignore them. But as we consider them — as we evaluate whether anti-blasphemy laws will ever be consistent with the modern American values embodied in our First Amendment precedents — we should examine what the competing values truly are.  What are the "other values" which other societies believe outweigh free speech? What sorts of things "inflame" people in those societies? If other societies understand free expression differently than we do, how do they understand it? What "international norms" are emerging on blasphemy?

I decided to try to answer those questions by looking at how the nations of the world have treated blasphemy during one year: October 2011 through September 2012. In other words, I decided to examine how one year reflected the competing values concerning free speech and blasphemy.
I was shocked - shocked! - to find out that the majority of the references cited were from Muslim countries.

Linked List

Glanced at briefly, filed away for future reading, and presented here for your edutainment.

The Bully vs. the Wonk

The Bully vs. the Wonk
The Wall Street Journal says that Vice President Joe Biden's debate strategy was to show contempt for his opponent Paul Ryan... 
On nearly every specific issue on which Mr. Biden attacked, he was demonstrably wrong.
... and he doesn't care. 

Coming to a Small Town Near You!

This morning on the way to work, I was listening to The War Room with Quinn and Rose.  During the show, they had a spot where they talked about a small business in Indiana, PA.

Hildebrand's Mowers and Saws is owned by Chip Hildebrand, and has been in business for over 30 years.  Their home page states that "Every day, we strive to provide you with friendly service and the best shopping experience in the Indiana area."  They sell lawn equipment, chainsaws, snow blowers, and apparently do small engine repair as well.

All in all, it sounds like a fine little business, the type that any community would love to have around.  Absent one minor detail, you'd probably have gone through your life without ever hearing about them.

Chip Hildebrand decided to exercise his 1st amendment rights.  He put a "Support Coal - Fire Obama" sign outside of his business.

This did not sit well with some people.

Specifically, it did not sit well with the chairman of the local Democratic committee.

As Quinn reported it, Hildebrand got a call from this individual.  During the course of the conversation, Hildebrand says that he was told that if he did not take down his sign, the chairman would send out 1,100 emails to local unions and party members, calling for a boycott of his business.

Now, understand - Indiana is a not exactly a major metropolis.  It had a population of under 15,000 as of the 2000 census. It's a classic small town, and when I say classic, I mean classic.  Jimmy Stewart grew up there, and the if you visited in the winter, you'd definitely notice a "Bedford Falls" vibe.

An effective boycott of the Hildebrand's business would mean the end of his livelihood.

Mull that over, now.

Because a local businessman publicly supported a particular political candidate, the local representative of that candidate's party threatened to take steps to destroy his business.

"Nice place you have here.  It would be a shame if something were to happen to it."

I would have posted this earlier, but especially in this political season, I wanted to make sure that this was a real story, and not just a "friend of a friend" sort of tale.  So I contacted Hildebrand's myself, asking for clarification and a confirmation or denial.

Here is what I just received in response to my inquiry:
Mr. Robb,
Thank you for your support, and yes it is true that we were threatened by the local chairman of a democratic group to take our ‘fire Obama’ sign down or they would send out 1100 emails to local unions and members of his party to boycott our business.  There have been an unbelievable amount of emails, phone calls and visits from numerous supporters and we are humbled by such a response.  We have strove to serve this community for many years, it’s nice to see that many stand behind us both locally and across the country.
Thanks for contacting us, and for the wonderful support,
Steve Hildebrand
Management, Hildebrand’s Mowers & Saws
So, there you have it.  The new New Civility apparently involves threatening family businesses with economic ruin in order to cow them into silence.  Because, apparently, winning is the only thing, and "by any means neccesary" isn't just a catchy phrase - it's the law, at least for the Democratic leadership in Indiana, PA.

Stay classy, Dems.

Trivial Pursuits

John C. Wright, on the triumph of the trivial:
Are you seriously taking about Big Bird? Talk about this, instead, thou mewling epitome of shallowness: 
Barack Obama has a kill list.
If I could bring myself to address the orc-hordes of the Left in terms civil and mild, I would ask them politely whose death they find more disturbing, more worthy of headline, more needed for the commonwealth to debate?
Go.  RTWT.

"Jane, you ignorant..."

In Dirty Laundry, Don Henley sang, "We got the bubble-headed-bleach-blonde who comes on at five..."

If only we could restrict Stephanie Cutter to just one hour in the evening.  But noooooo, she's out there blathering away at all hours of the day.  This time, she's insisting that Benghazi is only the issue that it is because... Romney and Ryan keep talking about it.
Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter said Thursday that the “entire reason” the terrorist attack at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans has “become the political topic it is” is because Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan talk about the attack.

Quite frankly, if you believe this bit o' spin, I'm going to have to presume that someone has to come along periodically and remind you to breathe.

'For Me the Taliban Is Inside the Building'

In a heated and dramatic congressional hearing today, witnesses who served with the U.S. diplomatic corps in Libya and pushed for a stronger security presence repeatedly faulted the State Department for standing in their way – one even referring to the State Department officials he described as obstructionist as if they were Taliban terrorists.
The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents. 
“His response to that was, ‘You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.’ And my response to him – his name was Jim – ‘Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me. And I added (sic) it by saying, ‘For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.’”
Nordstrom agreed, saying, “it was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, ‘How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?’”
 The term "hung out to dry" just popped into my head for some reason.

A math question for Ryan tonight

A math question for Ryan tonight

It would warm my heart if Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan would ask sitting Vice President Joe Biden the one question all of us want to know about this Administration:

“How many people do you have to get killed in this Administration to get fired?"

Is Pennsylvania In Play?

I really don't know.

What I do know, however, is that coming into work today, I was following a Prius proudly sporting a couple of stickers on the back window.  "Mitt" on the driver's side, and "Fire Obama" on the passenger side.

I also know that going home today, I'll see more Romney yard signs than I'll see Obama yard signs.

Heck, I know that I'll see more Gadsden flags than I'll see Obama yard signs.

Just sayin'.

No Skid Marks Evident

Fox’s Special Report with Bret Baier somewhat belatedly weighed in on the issue during its Wednesday broadcast. Baier noted a Washington Times story that suggested the Obama campaign planted the “cheat sheet” story in the blogs. Fox asked the Obama campaign for its reaction. Spokesman Ben LaBolt provided them with the following statement:
No — We’ve never casted our lot with the tinfoil hat crowd.

Guess you're all just bumps in the road.

Tell me - what does it feel like under that bus?

A Moment of Confusion

Heading in to work today, I turned on the radio and caught the middle of a commercial where a guy was explaining to an interviewer how CentOS helped their company meet all their safety requirements and concerns with their work apparel.

So I was thinking, "Hmm... strange.  Are they running some sort of enterprise just-in-time delivery software or something on those boxes?  Inventory tracking?  Maybe some sort of auditing package?"

It wasn't until the end of the commercial - when they spelled the company name - that I realized that they were actually talking about Cintas...

This Legal Brief Was Brought To You By The Letter "F"

Because "F" is for "Fail", and that's apparently what the Florida Attorney General's Office does at math.  As Eugene Volokh points out:
99% Chance That This Florida Attorney General’s Brief Was Filed by Someone Not Licensed to Practice Law

Odd, you say — wouldn’t it be pretty likely that whoever is signing the brief is likely licensed to do so? Well, I can prove it: Less than 1% of the Florida population is licensed to practice law. Thus, given the small percentage of the population that is licensed to practice law, the overwhelming majority of briefs are not licensed. Thus, my suspicion that the brief was signed by someone who isn’t licensed would be reasonable because, in any given case, there would be, statistically speaking, a 99% likelihood of unauthorized practice of law.

Nonsense!, you say. Nonsense indeed — yet it is the argument that the Florida Attorney General made with regard to licenses to carry concealed firearms.

"Sneaky little mathses. Wicked, tricksy, false!"

Lawyer Clown Is Not Amused

If the B.C. lawsuit against Google for its data mining of Gmail is successful, it has the potential to make anti-spam and anti-virus software that scans emails illegal.
Similar cases have been launched in the United States, where Eric Goldman, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of the High Tech Law Institute, has characterized them as “are-you-kidding-me” lawsuits.

“If electronic scrutiny of private email constitutes an interception then all anti-spam software violates that as well … the same probably with virus checkers,” Goldman said when asked about the lawsuit filed Thursday in BC Supreme Court.
Well, it is the silly season, after all.

I'm sure that the courts will recognize that this is not only a frivolous lawsuit, but one that has the potential to destroy 40 the last years of communications technology.  No way that they'll side with this schlub against the entire rest of the world, just to stick it to an ebil, ebil corporation.

Heh.  Nah, just kidding.  We're doomed.

Doing Fine

"The private sector is doing fine."

Apparently, the uptick in the amount of payday loan, financial aid, and mortgage refinance spam I've seen hit my inbox over the past few months is a key indicator of a booming economy.

Or something like that.


Really - just "Iowahawk".  What more do I need to say?
White House Scientists Struggle to Contain Outbreak of Scrutonium
WASHINGTON DC - Engaged a relentless battle against time and fatigue, a select group of message scientists assembled by the White House's Center for Narrative Control say they will take "all steps necessary" to contain a recent outbreak of scrutonium, a deadly poll-eating supervirus that attacks the immuno-hope system, leaving victims vulnerable to material facts. 
"Failure is simply not an option," said an exhausted Mission Chief David Axelrod. "If left unchecked, this virus may actually force us to move back to Chicago."
Trust me - put down your coffee or tea, and RTWT


The NYT decides that, in fact, there was no winner in the debate last night.

Theirs was a glaringly public confrontation that looked oddly intimate and personal... If anything, these confrontations look more like a dispute in couples therapy: neither partner can really win, but either one could get rattled and blurt out something unforgivable. 
That scale-tipping moment didn’t happen.

Riiiiiight.  Lets just... "call it a draw."


Douglas Adams once wrote, about British food:
It is by eating sandwiches in pubs at Saturday lunchtime that the British seek to atone for whatever their national sins have been. They’re not altogether clear what those sins are, and don’t want to know either. Sins are not the sort of things one wants to know about. But whatever sins there are are amply atoned for by the sandwiches they make themselves eat. 
If there’s anything worse than the sandwiches, it is the sausages which sit next to them. Joyless tubes, full of gristle, floating in a sea of something hot and sad, stuck with a plastic pin in the shape of a chef’s hat: a memorial, one feels, for some chef who hated the world, and died, forgotten and alone among his cats on a back stair in Stepney. 
The sausages are for the ones who know what their sins are and wish to atone for something specific.
So... how bad does your menu have to be that even a Brit sneers at it:
Taco Bell has something of a cult following among the young and inebriated. When “marketing strategist” Laura Ries said that a Doritos taco wouldn’t turn Taco Bell into “a more authentic Mexican restaurant”, Joseph Alexiou responded, quite rightly, that she “clearly has no clue about what attracts people to Taco Bell”. After tasting one of these abominations yesterday, I can attest that it is a truly nasty thing: an unidentifiably oleaginous brown gloop acting as glue between two sides of a radioactive-orange shell which tastes like someone dropped a pound of salt into a vat of Irn-Bru and then solidified the result.
Note, I have nothing against Taco Bell.  I would wonder at the sanity of anyone who thinks it is anything even approaching authentic Mexican food, though.  I also find myself wondering what sins a regular crunchy taco would cover, and which ones you'd need a double decker deluxe to expurgate...

Impulse Power

...Impulse drives. According to C/Net, researchers at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Boeing, NASA and Oak Ridge National Laboratory are working on nuclear fusion powered impulse drive. 
"The fusion fuel we're focusing on is deuterium [a stable isotope of hydrogen] and Li6 [a stable isotope of the metal lithium] in a crystal structure," Txchnologist quotes team member and aerospace engineering Ph.D. candidate Ross Cortez saying. "That's basically dilithium crystals we're using."

More evidence that Gene Roddenberry was a time traveller who came to prepare us for the future! [1]
The Z-Pinch fusion or magnetic containment would keep the fusion flame (the equivalent of a Hydrogen bomb going off) from damaging the ship, and allow much higher velocities than we can currently achieve.  They estimate speeds of over 62,000 MPH are possible, which would reduce a trip to Mars from 8 months to about 6 weeks.  This could make routine flights around the solar system possible.
Sounds like the Epstein Drive from Leviathan Wakes.

Six weeks to Mars.. two or three months to the Belt?  That's on part with the travel time from Europe to America in the 17th century.  There will be people willing to take that step and build a new home in the sky.

If this gets off the ground, the sky's no longer a limit.  Per aspera ad astra!

[1] Or that geeky science types like Star Trek.  One of those two.

That's Gotta Hurt


The DiploMad sums it up, I think:
I never before have thought this way about an American president, not even the reprehensible Jimmy Carter. 
I am disgusted with Obama. I can't think of another word that better captures how I think about this disaster of a president. I am, however, even more disgusted--if that's possible--with how an overwhelming percentage of the media cover for him. It is not just the overt editorial comments, or the spinning of the news, it is the outright lying on his behalf, such as the promoting false narratives and phony polling, and the stunning refusal to cover important stories that reflect negatively on his stewardship... 
The completely irresponsible nature of the media re Obama begins with his personal story. At a time when we know everything about Britney Spears, and, by the way, Mitt Romney, Obama's life remains off limits... 
The drive to cover for Obama continues. Not only does he escape blame for the disastrous and deteriorating state of government finances and of the economy after nearly four years of his prescriptions, but his administration has blood on its hands and the mainstream media refuses to call him out on it.
As they say, RTWT.

Oh, and a reminder...

Mr. Romney, your primary selling point at this moment is that you are not Obama.

Remember that.

If you win the election on November 6th, sir, then it will be because you are not Obama.

Have that saying made into a banner that you can hang on the wall across from your bed.  Do that so it is the first thing that you see when you open your eyes in the morning, and the last thing that you see before you close your eyes at night.  Spend your time in the presidency asking, "What would Barrack Obama do?" and then do the opposite.

In four years, perhaps, if you have comported yourself honorably and well, and managed to drag this country back from the brink of economic collapse and the erosion of liberty and personal freedom of the past decade... well, then.  At that time, I would be more than happy to vote for you.

Right now, though, I'm voting for you primarily because you are not Obama.

I'm telling you now, though: if you screw it up, sir.  If you fail.

In four years, I'll be quite willing to vote for someone else because they are not Romney.

Remember that, Mr. Romney.

Because it's damn sure we will.

No no no no no

Am I listening to the debate?

I'm upstairs, doing things I enjoy more, instead.  Like killing stinkbugs.

On the other hand, I am occasionally wandering downstairs, where I've been hearing the lovely and much more politically attuned Mrs. Robb laugh delightedly.  What little I have heard of the debate in those brief moments tends to support the idea that on one hand, we have a bumbling, incoherent, lying political hack, and on the other, we have Mitt Romney.

Which makes me think that, perhaps, the debate is going just fine without my listening support.

A Wrinkle in Time

The graphic novel adaptation:

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle's justly loved young adult novel about children who must rescue a dimension-hopping physicist who has been trapped by a malignant intelligence bent on bringing conformity to the universe.

Hill and Wang's A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel is Hope Larson's really wonderful and worthy adaptation of the original. Larson is very faithful to the original text, and the graphic form really suits the story, as it allows for direct illustration of some of the more abstract concepts (such as the notion of folding space in higher dimensions to attain faster-than-light transpositions of matter).
Awesometabulous!  (Iz dat a word?  Da Goog sez yah!)

Nell Fenwick Presumed Safe

Snidely Whiplash stil at large.  But the stolen maple syrup has been recovered!
Contents of 16,000 45-gallon barrels, siphoned off and reported stolen from a central distribution centre in August, have been found...

While Sergeant Daniel Thibodeau of the SQ could do no more than confirm that a search warrant “had been executed,” sources told The Gazette that an “important” amount of product was found in a maple syrup processing and exporting facility in Kedgwick, NB.

The barrels in the storage facility in Saint-Louis-de-Blandford, which is located 160 kilometres northeast of Montreal, near Victoriaville, were not taken outright but rather drained of their contents. The theft was discovered Aug. 24.
I know that this will come as a relief to many of you, and I am glad to be the bearer of good tidings. You may rest easy now; the RCMP always gets their man.

Or, y'know, syrup.


What do you get when you put an someone eager to please in a crime lab?

Annie Dookhan wanted to be a star. After all, the days of crime lab chemists working in dark back rooms, doing dirty, boring jobs, gave way to CSI coolness. And because she followed her passion, a whole lot of people are going to walk out of jail. Many innocent. Some guilty. It won't be possible to tell which is which, thanks to Annie... 
Aside from faking her credentials, she faked the tests. Some she just didn't bother with, some she "dry labbed," which apparently means she just looked at a substance and decided it was narcotics. She made up weights, didn't calibrate equipment, and worst of all, sprinkled real drugs onto substances when there were no drugs to be had.  A star.


Missed this the first time through; fortunately, Jerry Pournelle (and one of his readers) were on the ball...

One of the reasons why we live in such an innovative society is that we've (for the most part) enabled a permissionless innovation society -- one in which innovators no longer have to go through gatekeepers in order to bring innovation to market. This is a hugely valuable thing, and it's why we get concerned about laws that further extend permission culture. However, according to the former Register of Copyrights, Ralph Oman, under copyright law, any new technology should have to apply to Congress for approval and a review to make sure they don't upset the apple cart of copyright, before they're allowed to exist. I'm not joking.
 As Mr. Pournelle commented, "The United States was formed to protect liberty. It now has a major party that is afraid that someone, somewhere, is doing something without permission."


PCs, Laptops, Smart Phones n'at

I apologize for the multiple level of quotations, but... hey. Important news.  The PC is Over, dude.
MG Siegler writes:
The PC is over. It will linger, but increasingly as a relic. 
I now dread using my computer. I want to use a tablet most of the time. And increasingly, I can. I want to use a smartphone all the rest of the time. And I do. 
Realize that MG Siegler is a journalist, and a TechCrunch air-quotes journalist at that, so he's well versed in hyperbole. You might say he's a billion times better at hyperbole than the average blogger. In his own way, he is a creator, I suppose: he creates hype.
But he's not entirely wrong here.
I'd have to agree with Mr. Attwood.

In 1992, I was attending SWOS with a young gentleman of a technically inclined nature.  Phil had a Poqet pocket computer which was rather interesting, and at one point, we discovered that his little Poqet had vastly more processing power than the 1970's shipboard-based mainframe supply management systems that we were going to train to use.

An iPad2 is as powerful as a 1985 Cray 2 supercomputer.

Your cell phone has more processing power than NASA had for the moon shot.

I've gotten to the point where the only thing that is keeping me from moving to a smart phone (from my old, dumb, flip phone) is the fact that I want my smart phone to be able to replace my laptop.

I want to have a bluetooth mouse, keyboard and monitor on my desk at work.  When I sit down at the start of the day, I want them to power up, find my cell phone lying on the desk next to them, and use my cell phone for CPU and storage.  With a decent sized screen and a full-sized keyboard, I could do 99% of what I need to do, day to day, with this sort of set up.

In other words: today's smart phones aren't quite smart enough... but man, they're close.

When they finally get there, then... well, the PC won't be dead.  It will certainly become more of a nice product, though.


I saw this in response to a Facebook link to the article "If Romney's Losing, Why Do the Media Act Like He's Already the President?":
Would be clever if Romney in the debate said something like, "I can promise America this, if I am elected, the American people will once again have a press that is critical of the president and will keep his policies in check."

Update: Synchronicity strikes via Monster Hunter Nation, where Larry [1] comments:
To all of my moderate/undecided friends, one advantage of electing a republican is at least the press will do their job and report scandals.
[1] No, I am not on a first name basis with Mr. Correia [2].  If I speak of him familiarly, it is for three reasons: (a) I feel many of our views on government and politics are simpatico, and as such, consider him to be a kindred spirit.  (b) He is a net personality in certain circles, which puts him in the realm of Tam, Roberta, Borepatch, TJIC and the like - that is, folks for whom a first name, in context, is quite enough to identify them.  Finally, and most significantly, (c) He is, as the saying goes, "a mountain of a man", and I live in mortal terror of offending even such a gentle and forgiving spirit as his by subjecting him to my repeated and clownish misspellings [3] his tricksy, tricksy last name.

[2] Yes, I did indeed triple check that I spelled his name correctly there.  Mortal terror, I tell you.  Mortal terror.