Monthly Archives: March 2014

Happy Hour Links

What every wine drinker should know: the basics of the eight classic grape varieties.

Your tax dollars are going to pay for a $400,00 camel statue in Pakistan.

For the first time in my life, I genuinely feel sorry for Ohio State students. Chris Matthews as your commencement speaker. THAT SUCKS.

New evidence suggests black death was spread through the air, not by flea bites, as previously thought.

A new Michael Jackson album, featuring eight new tracks from his archive, will be released in May.

Current polio outbreak in Syria and Iraq is “arguably the most challenging outbreak in the history of polio eradication.

Last week everyone’s focus was on the Hobby Lobby contraception mandate case, but there is another case working its way through the courts that, for the purposes of bringing this terrible law to its knees, is far more important. It has to do with the subsidies to those participating in the federal exchange. Those subsidies are being challenged on the ground that the statute authorizes subsidies only for exchanges run by states. Charles C.W. Cooke explains.

Will Illinois’ taxpayers ever wake up? Or will they keep taking hits to the face? John Kass wonders

The Democratic bosses who run things with a perpetual smirk on their faces, and their hapless frontman Gov. Patrick Quinn, just slapped hardworking taxpayers in the mouth. Of course they waited until after the March primary. Boss Madigan, the speaker of the Illinois House for about three decades now, and his little buddy, state Senate President John Cullerton, wouldn’t dare risk too much. So they held their hands back until after the primary, where elections are won in Illinois. The voters don’t pick candidates in Illinois. Instead, Madigan draws the election maps, so he picks the voters for his candidates. And then they make him boss. But once the election was done, it was time to slap the taxpayers. And the other day Quinn trotted out to deliver his tax message, telling us that the 67 percent tax increase the Democrats once insisted was temporary would not be temporary…A U.S. Supreme Court justice once said that the power to tax is the power to destroy, and just look around you at the jobs gone from Illinois, the businesses that have fled, the red ink in the budget books, the people so tired and disinterested that they’ve all but stopped voting, and tell me that’s not true. What’s worse is that they’re not done slapping you. They slap you and you’re still asleep. And they know it. So they’ll slap you some more. They take your money and they bribe you with your own hard-earned cash, and for that you’re expected to fall on your knees as their tiny-fisted hands draw back, and all you say is, “Please, kind sirs, may I have another?” And in exchange for the Quinncome tax becoming permanent, the governor offered to kick back a few bucks in a promised property tax rebate, up to $500. “Today,” Quinn said in his budget address this week, “we can provide Illinois families with significant new property tax relief … that is fair, substantial and permanent.” Permanent property tax relief if we make permanent a once-temporary income tax increase? Please, sir, may I have another? Of course they take us to be fools. We elect them, year after year.

Erick Erickson destroys idiot juice boxer Matthew Yglesias.

Economics 101 with Kevin Williamson:

Economics is hard, and it gets harder the deeper you go into it. But there are some economic truths that are both pretty easy to understand and necessary to understand. Supply and demand don’t always move in smooth, predictable curves, but the relationship between them is not optional, because consumers and producers are real people, not imaginary constructs in somebody’s policy model. Interfere with the supply of sugar and prices will go up. Raise the price of labor and demand for it will go down. That is reality, and reality is not optional. The minimum wage is almost always presented by the Left as a moral question rather than an economic one, mainly because the economics are pretty plainly against the Left on the question, while it’s always easy to cook up a plausible moral rationale for whatever economic interference seems good at the moment, which is why our economic policy is such a swamp of contradictions and special-interest rent-seeking. (“Morass” is not a contraction of the phrase “moralizing asses,” but it should be.) I’m sure that those sugar barons and ethanol parasites could come up with a compelling moral case for the government’s shunting great roaring streams of money into their bank accounts…Organizations such as Shut the Chamber and the Democratic caucus in Congress believe that they can make low-income workers better off by making their employers worse off, and they lack the wit to understand that producers and consumers both engage in cost-shifting. They are bright enough to understand that if Starbucks were to suddenly develop a deep new appreciation for the ineffable value of the mighty MFA and raise its prices drastically, then consumers could go to Dunkin’ Donuts instead — or make their own coffee at home, or get their morning caffeine jolt from two cans of Diet Coke like a civilized person does — but they are not smart enough to realize that companies price-shop, too, as if the guys who run money at Fortune 500 companies were not as economically sophisticated as latte-loving high-school students. That is how policies putatively designed to help the poor end up making them worse off. A $10.10 minimum wage does not do you any good if you are unemployed. It just makes the labor-intensive services you yourself consume more expensive. Complaining about market prices is like complaining about the weather. The sun shines in Florida, and it’s going to keep shining even if Charles Schumer thinks that’s unfair.

The worst of the five mass extinctions in Earth’s history was possibly caused by a methane-spewing microbe.

Shouldn’t all the dudes in “Game of Thrones” have STDs? A medieval historian explains.

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Music Monday

Michael Jackson was not particularly proficient at instrument-playing but, as you can hear in this a cappella demo of “Beat It,” he was still a musical genius. Here’s Rob Hoffman, a sound engineer who worked with Jackson, describing the singer’s process…

One morning Michael came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. ‘Here’s the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here’s the second chord first note, second note, third note,’ etc., etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57. He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Steve Porcaro once told me he witnessed Michael doing that with the string section in the room. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything. Not just little eight bar loop ideas. he would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.

Buzzfeed has more info here.

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March 31, 2014 · 4:17 pm

Video of the Day

We’re only one week away from Season 4 of “Game of Thrones”! Seems like a good time to watch the theme song performed by this awesome youth orchestra flash mob in Spain.

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March 30, 2014 · 2:33 pm

Weekend Links

Cats are now infecting humans with TB. END TIMES, PEOPLE. The picture they put with that article is just perfect.

Protests against Venezuela’s socialist government are still going on. The government says subliminal crossword puzzles are to blame. Yes, I’m sure that’s it.

Watching a movie and need to know when’s the best time to go pee? There’s an app for that.

Lefty rag Gawker would like to arrest climate change “deniers.” Why not just kill them? Then finally everyone will think “correctly.” At least Leftists don’t try to hide the fact that they’re authoritarians, I’ll give them that. Good grief.

Want state legislatures to be slightly less filled with barely functioning retards? Make it an important job again. Repeal the 17th Amendment.

Absolutely brilliant Continetti takedown of the corrupt and contemptible Harry Reid.

Charles C.W. Cooke on government, human nature and the disgusting, but predictable, hypocrisy of a gun-control politician trafficking in arms.

Because our friends on the Left tend to have extremely short memories, critics of government power are forced to spend a great deal of their time reminding the public that, contrary to the zeigeist’s holding, there is nothing magical about our modern age and nothing special about our modern leaders. In a more rational world, Americans would take a quick look at the sum of human history and laugh uproariously at anyone whose philosophy rests upon the premise that the problem in America is that individuals have too much free speech, too many privately owned guns, too much economic freedom, too much personal privacy, and a state that has been overly reined in by law. But we don’t live in that world. We live in a world full of people who are worryingly susceptible to the charms of men who promise that “this time it’s different,” and to the dangerous, Whiggish, smug conceit that progress is inevitable and man is perfectible. Reminding the public how precious human liberty is remains a thankless, difficult, and endless task. Sometimes, it seems futile. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, come reminders that human nature has remained pretty much constant since the beginning of time, and that we ought to treat every government as if it were loaded. Last year, Americans were treated to a flurry of revelations about the NSA, the IRS, the Department of Justice, and others, all of which served to demonstrate that conservatives’ well-pronounced suspicion of the federal leviathan was not merely paranoia. The Yee case plays the same role in the gun-control debate. Because the story is so clean-cut — a California state senator was simultaneously working to put guns into the hands of criminals and to take them from his constituents — one’s first instinct is to say “wow!” Really, though, we shouldn’t be surprised at all. Governments are full of people, some of whom are virtuous and honest; some of whom are not.

Kevin Williamson on the same topic

Progressives like to talk about what government ought to do; conservatives are inclined to immure that conversation within an architecture of skepticism about what government can do. The paraphrase of Immanuel Kant — ought implies can — is fundamental to the conservative view of government. James Madison famously observed that “if men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But he also understood that men do not become angels once they win elections, become police, or are appointed to positions of power. Our constitutional order strikes an elegant balance between policing the non-angels outside of government and constraining the non-angels within government, setting the ambitions of the three branches against one another and subdividing the legislative branch against itself. The founding generation, being more philosophically sophisticated and biblically literate than our own generation, understood something that often eludes us: Angels are in short supply, but all the devils are here, and our best chance of surviving the avarice and cruelty that exists at least potentially in every human heart is to set our appetites in opposition. Adam Smith’s formula for prosperity — “peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice” — is the very modest ambition that conservatives aim for. Limited government is the tool by which government can be made to do good without necessarily being good, or being composed of good men. The progressive state, on the other hand, is a state infused with moral purpose. If politics is to be a jihad, then the state must be invested with extraordinary power to achieve its moral mission. There is no way to invest the state with extraordinary power without also investing those powers in the men who hold its offices and staff its bureaucracies, which hold ever more nearly absolute power over our property and our lives. (And given that the Obama administration has made a policy of assassinating U.S. citizens without legal process, we might as well call that power “absolute.”) But if those elective offices and regulatory fortresses are to be staffed with men who are corrupt and corruptible, then the progressive vision of the morality-infused state must falter. And they — we — are all corruptible…The corruptibility of the political classes is fenced in by limiting the power of the political classes per se. You cannot expand the scope and scale of government without expanding in parallel the scope and scale of government corruption. And government corruption is as natural as catching cold. When a conservative suffers from a moral failing, it is taken as an indictment of conservatism itself, even though conservatism in the Anglo–Protestant tradition is founded upon the expectation that moral failing is universal. In that sense, every Scott DesJarlais tells conservatives what we already know: that man is a fallen creature, and that, contra the Obamacare regime, there are no exemptions to be handed out from that condition, no waivers from human nature. The progressive view, on the other hand, is that our politics and our institutions could be channels of moral action and reliably ethical arbiters of such ill-defined standards as “fairness” and “social justice,” if only we put the right people in power. But there are no right people.

Stephen Colbert made a joke and the most boring, humorless people in the world (Leftists) are losing their shit. It’s especially special because he’s one of their own and, as Andrew Stiles notes, they have no one to blame for this but themselves.

It goes without saying that something has gone seriously awry with your worldview when Touré has to step in and be the voice of reason. But it’s also true that the liberals defending Colbert have only themselves to blame for this nonsense. Touré, for example, works for a network (MSNBC) that is obsessed with race—specifically, with all the ways that conservatives express their deeply held racist views using coded language and dogwhistle microagressions. He once accused Mitt Romney of trying to “niggerize” Obama by using the word “angry” to describe the president. Touré his colleagues help fuel a constant stream of outrage at even the slightest hint—real or imagined—of racial insensitivity. Chris Matthews seems genuinely convinced that roughly half the population are white supremacists secretly arming themselves for a race war, while Lawrence O’Donnell thinks making fun of Obama’s golf habit is a calculated attempt to “align” the president with the “lifestyle of Tiger Woods.” MSNBC’s Karen Finney, a former Democratic spokesperson, suggested that Republicans were racist for supporting a black candidate for president. Martin Bashir, who lost his job at MSNBC for inviting his viewers to defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth, informed us that “IRS” was the new n-word, and Republicans were using their investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative nonprofit groups “as their latest weapon in the war against the black man in the White House.” This is by no means an exhaustive list. If anything, the #CancelColbert agitators deserve credit for their consistent application of the progressive worldview. When these conventional left-wing tactics (1. call someone a racist, 2. attempt to deprive them of their livelihood, 3. repeat) are used against someone liberals consider “one of their own” like Stephen Colbert, they are flummoxed, even slightly amused at the absurdity. Colbert supports Democrats, therefore he is not a racist. Q.E.D. “What are these people talking about?” they wonder. Liberals are not often forced to confront the Balrog-esque anger beast they feed and nurture on a daily basis. It is a terrifying sight to behold, as conservatives well know. And that’s what makes these rare moments when the beast turns on its masters so entertaining to watch—even if they do not bode particularly well for the future of our republic/civilization in general.

A Philadelphia brewery is making a ‘Walking Dead’-inspired beer brewed with real (goat) brains.

The “Game of Thrones” pilot was shot in the same castle as “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

New York’s nonsensical, hastily passed new gun law is proving to be unenforceable. Surprise!

Drunk in Tehran: the Islamic state’s secret party scene.

Big Bang, big celebration: An interview with the physicist who just had his life’s work validated.

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Filed under Around the World, Politics, Science, The Left, TV/Movies, Uncategorized

Image of the Day

Image

Check out more beautiful photos of St. Petersburg, Russia, via photographer Amos Chapple’s aerial drone, hereImage by Amos Chapple/Rex Features via The Atlantic.

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Firearms Friday Quote of the Day

“There is one other division of power in the Bill of Rights, though it’s not usually thought of as a ‘check’ or a ‘balance.’ It’s the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. If all else fails, thought the Founders, it’s back to square one, back to Lexington and Concord.”

~David Harsanyi, from his excellent new book “The People Have Spoken (and they are wrong)”

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What’s the Left up to today? “Defending medieval theocracies” edition

First a necessary dose of snark from Sonny Bunch…

I’m legitimately surprised by the number of people on the left who have decided that defending Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights and freedom in the name of tolerance is a good idea. For instance, you have the fine folks over at ThinkProgress praising the cancellation of a television show that would’ve dared portray the medieval theocracy in a negative light. Notes TP:

“The show got off to a bad start — the short summary released by ABC Family featured kidnapping, a royal patriarch, repression of Muslim women, and the phrase “behind the veil.” That was enough to provoke a backlash and trending topic on Twitter, and concerned statements from the Council of American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. ABC Family and the pilot’s writer, Brooke Elkmeier, responded predictably, with assurances that the show would be a “nuanced and character-driven” take, without disputing that the central conflict would be “backwards East” versus “liberated West” as implied in the blurb.”

Emphasis mine because, well, that is the central conflict in the world right now. It’s odd that many on the left think it’s not worth highlighting the deep divide between the enlightenment-embracing West and a theocratic dictatorship within which “nearly half” of all women are beaten by their husbands and other family members. Of course, compared to some corners of the Muslim world—Iran, I’m looking at you—Saudi Arabia is practically heaven for gays, who are generally flogged and imprisoned rather than hung from cranes…Frankly, I’d love to send one of my reporters to Saudi Arabia. But my options are pretty slim. Lord knows I can’t send Alana Goodman or Adam Kredo (both of whom are too Jewish and have been to Israel too often, one of whom is too female). Bill McMorris would probably get lashed half-to-death for trying to sneak whiskey through customs. CJ might be able to get it done, but his commitment to free speech is likely to land him in more trouble than the trip would be worth. But hey. Let’s not do anything drastic like highlight all this barbarism on ABC Family. Apparently tolerance demands that we turn a blind eye to religious oppression. Unless, of course, the religiously minded want to do something like run a business and not pay their employees in birth control. God help those poor bastards.

And from Tom Rogan at NRO:

Fear of reaction is no excuse for self-censorship. Indeed, the opposite is true. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly explained, a democratic society must accept the risk of offense as the price of empowered dialogue. After all, is there any area of political discourse that we can guarantee will not cause offense to someone? Of course not. And let’s be clear about something else. While Alice in Arabia would likely have been somewhat cartoonish in its philosophy, it would still have been to America’s benefit. That’s because it would have illuminated the predicament of women in Saudi Arabia. Yes, an expansive insight into Saudi Arabia would have been preferable. Nevertheless, we must accept the world in which we live. We must recognize that TV stations like ABC Family possess the avenues of appeal that C-SPAN-style debates (sadly) do not. Correspondingly, while we must always pursue deeper scrutiny, we should never choose blindness over even a blurry window into injustice. That’s especially true with regards to Alice in Arabia. Because in the end, women’s rights in Saudi Arabia are not a small concern. Because for thousands of women in the kingdom, each new dawn begets new slavery. Because when a woman in Saudi Arabia is accosted for wearing nail polish, or beaten at a whim, or has her genitals forcibly mutilated, or is leashed like a dog every day of her life, these are not just small inconveniences. And when five-year-old girls live and die as human piñatas, these are not simply “real-life difficulties.” Rather, they are testaments to a profound and ongoing evil. Like the signs “whites only” or “Kauft nicht bei Juden,” this is the denigration of humans simply for the sins of their being. It doesn’t get more black-and-white than this. Today, in America, the victorious censors, those like Salon’s lifestyle editor, should look in the mirror. Lifestyle. A word of subjective definition in a world of unequal freedoms.

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