Sunday, February 7, 2016

You had to be there. Be glad you weren't.

Highlights of the Republican debate last night:
-Ted Cruz said it's CNN's fault that his staff misunderstood a report that Ben Carson was going home for a change of clothes after Iowa, and told everyone he was quitting the race. Ted continues to believe in the magic of incantation, and that if the President said "radical Islamic terrorist" ISIS would go away in a puff of smoke.
- Chris Christie tagged Marco Rubio for making up a one-line answer to questions, followed by a 25 second memorized speechlet. Rubio obligingly did just that, repeating the same speechlet, three times in five minutes.
- Ted Cruz has picked up on Ben Carson's fear of electromagnetic pulses, only in his version, millions will die.
- Drinking game tag lines:
Jeb: voids are filled.
Cruz: military hands tied behind their backs.
Christie: I spent seven years as a US Attorney prosecuting [fill in an issue].
Rubio: Obama wants to make us like other nations.
- Jeb says North Korea picked up a drunk UVa student right after Iran released hostages because we are a weak-looking nation.
- Marco Rubio says it's not leadership to actually lead. If you can't get the people to support something, you should bail on it.
- Ted Cruz and Donald Trump want the least-regulating state in the nation to let insurance companies write health policies from there so everyone can get them cheaply. No one remembered how it worked out when we deregulated air travel in a similar fashion. We got cheap AND crappy.
-Ben Carson wants to make every American a self-insurer for health care. You're born, you get an empty savings account for life. And whatever you put in it, you can spend on health care.
-Ben Carson also has a lot to say about North Korea and if anyone had asked him, he'd have said it all.
-Donald Trump shouted down Jeb Bush and then shushed Bush because he wanted to talk.
-Donald Trump also says we are the highest-taxed nation in the world. Regrettably, no one asked why we can't cut taxes to the point where we get the sort of high wages, universal health care and support for arts and education (not to mention bullet trains) less taxed nations enjoy.
-Chris Christie says American can be blackmailed by its billionaires. If we raise taxes, they will take their money overseas to places it will be treated more kindly. Across America, teenaged boys with dogeared copies of Atlas Shrugged traced dollar signs in the air.
-Ted Cruz says we have the best military in the world but Obama has gutted it into ineffectiveness at the same time.
-Jeb wants to turn over environmental regulation and health care and aid to the poor to states with records like North Carolina's.
-Ted Cruz says the US Air Force is the smallest it has been since 1916. In 1909 the US government bought its 1st military aircraft. Today it owns 5,032. You do the math on that one.
-Jeb says the US cannot get anything done in the world except by military strength. We are not to be respected for our ideas, or the examples we set, only feared, and that will come only if we have bigger piles of weapons than everyone else.
-Jeb also says women should register for the draft as an equality thing, even though we know there will never be a draft. Chris Christie says women should have to register to fully realize their goals in life.
-Jeb says his record shows he occupies "the sweet spot" in abortion politics.
I skipped the closing speeches.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

1 a decade


Happy 99th birthday to the patroness saint of traditional American marriage values, Sari “Zsa Zsa” Gabor Belge Hilton Sanders Hutner Cosden Ryan O’Hara de Alba von Anhalt.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Modern Problems: Sex and the Single-Digit Presidential Candidate

When only men got the gas

"Grit your teeth and think of England, dear."

From a new scholarly paper, a reminder just how stupid life can be. Alas, we only catch it in retrospect:

J Anesth Hist. 2015 Oct;1(4):115-21. doi: 10.1016/j.janh.2015.07.027. Epub 2015 Aug 8.

Accepting Pain Over Comfort: Resistance to the Use of Anesthesia in the Mid-19th Century.

Meyer R1, Desai SP2.


News of the successful use of ether anesthesia on October 16, 1846, spread rapidly through the world. Considered one of the greatest medical discoveries, this triumph over man's cardinal symptom, the symptom most likely to persuade patients to seek medical attention, was praised by physicians and patients alike. Incredibly, this option was not accepted by all, and opposition to the use of anesthesia persisted among some sections of society decades after its introduction. We examine the social and medical factors underlying this resistance. At least seven major objections to the newly introduced anesthetic agents were raised by physicians and patients. Complications of anesthesia, including death, were reported in the press, and many avoided anesthesia to minimize the considerable risk associated with surgery. Modesty prevented female patients from seeking unconsciousness during surgery, where many men would be present. Biblical passages stating that women would bear children in pain were used to discourage them from seeking analgesia during labor. Some medical practitioners believed that pain was beneficial to satisfactory progression of labor and recovery from surgery. Others felt that patient advocacy and participation in decision making during surgery would be lost under the influence of anesthesia. Early recreational use of nitrous oxide and ether, commercialization with patenting of Letheon, and the fighting for credit for the discovery of anesthesia suggested unprofessional behavior and smacked of quackery. Lastly, in certain geographical areas, notably Philadelphia, physicians resisted this Boston-based medical advance, citing unprofessional behavior and profit seeking. Although it appears inconceivable that such a major medical advance would face opposition, a historical examination reveals several logical grounds for the initial societal and medical skepticism.


UNCC's Science Department didn't even bother with a bet. Because Newton's Laws of Motion.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

And what about zombies?

So many questions unasked here. Why would I want this? What are my memories without me? Just a jumble of increasingly out of date irrelevancies, I imagine. Who would be responsible for their preservation? What if a relative who finds them embarrassing or unprofitable decides to chuck them out? Will right to life enthusiasts consider this a new counterpoint to when life begins and protect my memories? Can they be probed as evidence in posthumous lawsuits? Bought and sold?

An article in Scientific American demonstrates why ethics is always chasing science, shouting, "Wait, wait...":

The soul is the pattern of information that represents you—your thoughts, memories and personality—your self. There is no scientific evidence that something like soul stuff exists beyond the brain's own hardwiring, so I was curious to visit the laboratories of 21st Century Medicine in Fontana, Calif., to see for myself an attempt to preserve a brain's connectome—the comprehensive diagram of all neural synaptic connections.

This medical research company specializes in the cryopreservation of human organs and tissues using cryoprotectants (antifreeze). In 2009, for example, the facility's chief research scientist Gregory M. Fahy published a paper in the peer-reviewed journal Organogenesis, documenting how his team successfully transplanted a rewarmed rabbit kidney after it had been cryoprotected and frozen to −135 degrees Celsius through the process of vitrification, “in which the liquids in a living system are converted into the glassy state at low temperatures.”

Can brains be so preserved? Fahy and his colleague Robert L. McIntyre are now developing techniques that they hope will win the Brain Preservation Technology Prize, the brainchild of neuroscientist Kenneth Hayworth (I'm on their advisory board as the advocatus diaboli). As I write this, the prize is currently valued at more than $106,000; the first 25 percent of the award will be for the complete preservation of the synaptic structure of a whole mouse brain, and the other 75 percent will go to the first team “to successfully preserve a whole large animal brain in a manner that could also be adopted for humans in a hospital or hospice setting immediately upon clinical death.”

"It's not the message that needs changing, just how we say it."

Marco Rubio says it with a smile, and that is supposed to make us all like his party better:

Of course there’s going to be discrimination in America of every kind.

Most boys grow out of it by eight or nine

From Aeon, meditations on The Jurassic Park Effect:
The world’s most famous palaeontologist doesn’t understand why anyone wants to collect dinosaurs. Mark Norell sits across from me in his expansive corner office at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and launches right in: ‘People are weird. I think: “Who is buying this shit?” No accounting for people’s taste. I have a passion for dinosaurs, but certainly not what I would call “dinosaur insanity”. Dinosaurs are just a medium for me to do science. But if I were doing the same thing on some other organism – you wouldn’t be here.’
I first heard about private dinosaur-collecting in 2007, when the actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicolas Cage engaged in a bidding war over a 32-inch Tyrannosaurus bataar skull at an auction in Beverly Hills. In the end, Cage outbid his rival via a $276,000 offer. (Just before Christmas 2015, Cage returned it on order of the department of Homeland Security; unbeknown to him, he had bought a dinosaur part smuggled out of Mongolia.)
Since that auction, I perk up whenever I see news about any other big-name dinosaur collectors: the film directors James Cameron and Ron Howard, actor Brad Pitt, and Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former Chief Technology Officer who, according to Men’s Journal, has a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton in a glass solarium in his large home in Bellevue, Washington. Various high-flying sheikhs are in on the pastime, too. And regardless of what his Republican colleagues think about evolution, the former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich kept a T rex skull cast in his office.
As I read more about this current crop of rich male (always male, it seems) collectors, I gave them their own species name: Abundus egocentrus. I tried to understand their motivation. Was having a big vicious dinosaur on display akin to owning a huge scary dog like a Rottweiler? Were they saying to the world: ‘Look what I can tame! Look what I’m not scared of! I’m ruthless, too!’ Or maybe there were deeper psychological implications. Did collecting dinosaur fossils tap into childhood issues, delivering a soothing narrative about where we came from? Whatever the answer, there was something about this topic that was infectious and persistent enough to merit an investigation.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

With the disciples packing semis-

Bergman lives.

Jesus Quotes the Candidates

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

In her own, eternal spin cycle, a pulsar of words

Listening to Mrs Palin is what I imagine Paul Harvey would have sounded like on mescaline:

“Tonight = America wins, the permanent political class does not, and that is good! To restore Constitutional government the status quo has got to go; the Iowa caucus proves many Americans feel the same. The top three candidates, fueled by our independent, grassroots tea party movement, take 70% of the vote in this unique Iowa caucus. Now this healthy, hearty competition moves to NH, SC and beyond.

“Those of us proud to be on Team Trump thank Iowa supporters and look forward to forging ahead to make America great again with the candidate proving a record of success and strength that is so needed. The tangible Commonsense Conservative solutions requiring a doer, not a talker, will restore American exceptionalism. Onward and upward, America!”

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"God OK'd looting the college fund."

US News & World Report, January 30, 2016:

Cruz's Senate campaign released five years of tax returns through 2010 showing that he and his wife donated about $44,500 of the more than $5 million they made over the period — less than 1 percent of their income.
Those returns didn't include itemized donations, but Cruz gave a list to the San Antonio Express-News in 2012. The newspaper reported that, while some donations went to faith-based organizations, no money was reported to have been donated to churches, including Houston's First Baptist, where the Cruzes have worshipped since 2008.
Cruz responded that he'd "worked and saved to build a solid financial foundation to provide for my children." He has two daughters.
Fox News Sunday, January 31, 2016:

CRUZ:  But for someone [Donald Trump] who owes of hundreds of millions of dollars if not billions of dollars, to attack Heidi and me because we put our life savings into running for Senate.  

I'm in, with both feet.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

Super Bowl 50 starts in Charlotte

Spite: Face minus Nose

A former Tennessee lawmaker has a chart showing how, if The Mean Gays can marry, he will take away everyone's marriage.

Not with a bang, but with a simper.

By any measure, the Malheur Occupation was an epic FAIL.

They got 40 people, tops. Eleven walked into traps and got arrested. One got killed, which was what he said he aimed to do.

25 then beat feet, including one guy's wife. "Prison  isn't an option," she told the socialists at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Her husband's the fat one who filmed himself dancing with her, then sniffling, "We don't want to die. We don't need felony charges. We are just camping here."

The Nazi IT boy remains, too.

What a pickup load of chuckleheads.

Yet none of the patriots who cheered them on from their basement mancaves are asking how this project went so badly. Or why no one showed up when it's an article of faith that the west is a tinderbox waiting for a spark.

A couple dancing, an American flag propped up behind the surrounded by cases of bottled water and beer. That's Ammon  Bundy's New Jerusalem.

This man don't know Palmyra from Palmolive

The Republican Party has, historically, been the party in opposition to historic preservation in America. So it's rich to hear a legislator stand with the cultural heritage experts of the Middle East:
The Ku Klux Klan has gotten a bad rap, according to one Georgia lawmaker. He says the terror group “was not so much a racist thing but a vigilante thing to keep law and order” that “made a lot of people straighten up.” 
That leader is now hellbent on stopping the “cultural cleansing” of the South’s heritage. So far this year, State Rep. Tommy Benton (R) has co-sponsored two bills to preserve the Confederate’s legacy. 
Following the massacre at the historic Emanuel AME Church last year, activists and lawmakers have pushed to remove Confederate symbols in the South. According to Benton, those efforts constitute “cultural terrorism,” akin to what ISIS is doing. 
“That’s no better than what ISIS is doing, destroying museums and monuments,” he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC). “I feel very strongly about this. I think it has gone far enough. There is some idea out there that certain parts of history out there don’t matter anymore and that’s a bunch of bunk.”

Watch. Laugh. Learn. This is an excellent adventure.

Watch. Laugh. Learn. This is an excellent adventure.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fox debates: We watch, so you don't have to.

End of debate: No soup for Fox! With their IT guy out at the game reserve, their online video feed had no video and Fox News Radio portrayed the debate over the regularly scheduled programs. They ran commercials over Rand Paul's closing.
The rest?
Jeb! I'm a conservative! I will win! I have detailed plans!

Cruz: Wicked media noise. Crisis. We've been burned over and over. Who can you trust? Defend constitution. Repeal everything.

Kasich: We can move backward with a happy face.

Carson: Let me read you the preamble to the Constitution and you figure out what I mean.

Rubio: Bible, God, shining light. I will be fabulous.

Chris Christie: a noun, a verb, 9/11.

Well, thank goodness they drew the line at "cum biya."

A Facebook comment on the Eden of Harney County:

Leslie Silk When I was at the refuge it was like church camp. Seriously. Everyone was very loving and peaceful and courteous. Not to the point of being cum biya - but we were singing Christian songs after dinner and all. It is a very extreme contrast to the way this is being portrayed and reacted to by the soulless masses.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Can you keep a secret?

He then looked at the maximum number of people who could take part in an intrigue in order to maintain it. For a plot to last five years, the maximum was 2521 people. To keep a scheme operating undetected for more than a decade, fewer than 1000 people can be involved. A century-long deception should ideally include fewer than 125 collaborators. Even a straightforward cover-up of a single event, requiring no more complex machinations than everyone keeping their mouth shut, is likely to be blown if more than 650 people are accomplices.
The full article is here. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Today in Guns: A close shave, with death.

So much for keeping Portland weird.

George Barna, the pollster of the evangelicals, has released his 2015 survey of the most Bible-minded cities in America.

I am pleased to find I am moving, through life, toward greater geographic holiness (years I lived places in parens):

6.  Charlotte (2012-  )
9.   Greenville SC (2008-12)
53. Portland OR (1980-93)
75. Seattle (1993-2007)
87. Washington DC (1976)

Other posts of suprising underachievement: Greenboro.Winston-Salem (21); Columbia (23); Raleigh/Durham (24); and Charleston (41: Holy City, my Aunt Fanny!).

Monday, January 25, 2016

Somewhere, James Buchanan is saying, "Maybe I can finally move up a notch."

6 Reasons to Keep Doing Nothing in Oregon.

In the social media, the talk is turning against the wildlife liberationists of Oregon. "Enough is enough," is the constant post. Cut off the power. Bomb them. Starve them.

Others, with other axes to grind, go for the "if they were black/gay/atheist/plushy fetishists, this would have been long over.” False equivalencies are the daily gruel of conspiracists, best served in a hemlock reduction.

There are a number of reasons the government- in all its iterations- from the feds down to the long-suffering Harney County sheriff, should continue to do nothing.

1.  Cost is no object. Though the daily tab for dealing with the Malheur patriots is estimated to be $70,000,  the feds and the state of Oregon will quietly cover it down the road. In the meantime, it forestalls conservative western congresscritters, who have been agitating the last few sessions for massive land sales, making too big a fuss. It'll be increasingly hard to defend a gaggle of fat, unemployed loners who increasingly impoverish an already poor county. The bigger the tab grows, the more it will irritate fiscal conservatives, who will join the rest of the public who are irritated by lawbreaking idiots. The Bundyites haven’t enough cash to  keep themselves in groceries, much less to take over and run a country government which, if they somehow succeeded, would be hermetically sealed from the rest of the American economy for a few minutes at most.

2.  The Bundyites and their outside supporters (remember Stevie Wonder, mocking the cops over the radio in Vanishing Point?) are broadcasting hours of video every day, showing the patriots going about their daily routine of stacking federal and state law violations.  So busy they have been, designing signage for the entry drive and flaming logos for their internet broadcasts, it doesn't seem to have occurred to them that the FBI doesn't need to encircle the joint. Agents can watch them make the cases against themselves in a warm hotel room in Burns.

3.  The more the suburban cowboys appear on the internet, and give interviews to anyone who shows up, the more of them the government identifies. Already a convicted murderer has been ID'd as one of the new Founding Fathers: he's a probation violation waiting to be picked up the first time he drives into town for some Slim Jims. Every time some gnome in a Bozeman basement posts his support on Facebook, the NSA’s servers neatly ID and file him away. Google Location does the rest. To be an insurrectionist with a smart phone is to be a turkey calling for an early Thanksgiving, and Ammon Bundy’s groupies are one tiny flock of turkeys.

You've got the Linnicums, welfare profiteers running a ranch on the backs of foster children.

You've got the loony toon Ritzheimer, who was stirring up anti-Muslim trouble in Arizona, taunting them to show him what terror looks like, then going underground, claiming they were after him and asking for a big crowdfunded payoff.

They have a boy Nazi downloading the office computers and running their media campaign. More of them are using their notoriety to raise money online for their own crotchets and whimsies (Maureen Peltier, the Facebook spokesbabe, wants a broadcast studio her husband won’t pay for) than I can count.

The Bundys' past pass on range fees is still ticking upward, and will be stacked on top of their new and improved range of crimes. And don't forget the fat one who drove into town in a government vehicle, and was scooped right up. Which brings me to-

4.  These are not smart people. They spent ages planning this caper, and still didn't bring anything to live off if it worked. Their ludicrous shopping lists demonstrate they expected to be arrested, promptly, and then set about the task of being martyrs. This is the way of amatur revolutionaries. They sacrifice themselves to the cause, and are confident The People will rise up, release them, and sweep the old regime from power. That the Hammonds- their original martyrs- told them to buzz off and reported to prison, is a lesson lost on these folks. Or study up on John Brown.

They have no idea how what they want will work. If the government gives the Malheur Refuge back to Harney County, it has no way of absorbing the staff into the miniscule local government, much less maintaining a 187,000-acre spread. At the same time, it is going back to the people, Ammon Bundy says, to be pieced out to loggers, cattle ranchers and mining interests, in a large-scale re-enactment of the Tragedy of the Commons. How Harney County ranchers will be able to go from way below market grazing fees to unlimited, free grazing on land that has reverted to private ownership, they have no idea.

The Bundys also say they are going to get the closed Harney County sawmills going again. Jobs for everyone! But the mills are big empty sheds. When they closed, the equipment was sold off and trucked away. You can’t get the green chain up and running on mailed parts donations the way you can get tampons and French Vanilla coffee creamer.

They are poring over records with the gimlet eyes of Rosicrucians in search of fiendishly-hidden symbols of their faith- deeds that have embossed seals, ciphers proving the Rothschilds own the BLM as a private corporation.

They insist they will only negotiate if the government surrenders to them, then executes their program of land reform for them. They have no idea, and no money, and no skills, with which to do it on their own.

5.  People are moving from being their original positions: from vaguely sympathetic, if only locally; pr amused (see #Bunfyeroticfanfiction), to pissed off. Part of what irritates the rational of the earth is imagining the daily escalations- the trashing of artifacts, the paving, the importations of loons from, other states to launch a government of the nonresident People to indict and punish locals who are not with the program, then supplant local government- is intended to ratchet things up til the government snaps and bombs them all to hell. In one breath they say they are just acting as a hotel janitorial service, cleaning up after those slovenly housekeepers, the feds, and leaning the mouse droppings out of the boxes of Indian artifacts they rifle through; in the next they explain how the Indians lost their right to the land, and if cattle were grazing as God intended, all these pot shards ouwld have got tromped on long ago. They want peace, but insist their destiny is failure, and death, messiahs crucified on sex-toy crosses.

This is a mistake. The Bundyites do these things because they think the lack of opposition means they are winning. They wake up every day, still there, and have to decide what to do next. The government isn’t sticking with the script Ammon wrote. So they some up with some cackbrained scheme to look busy, lest anyone realize they are just a crowd of clueless mooncalves.

Result? No one is coming to support them. For all their “outreach”, it is all one-way. YOu can listen to them. They will not listen to you. In nearly a month they have gone from a dozen bozos to thirty, at best. The daily pressers get less and less coverage nationally. The locals are probably just a few more provocations short of staging a run on pitchforks and torches at the Western Auto.

6. The Bundys may save the government the trouble of a shootout. They are heavily armed. Their ideologies are everywhere at once, and cannot all be pursued in tandem. They are not the sort of people to honor command structures for long, past military service and faked medal records aside. Paranoia runs wide and deep through their internet posts and videos. Isolated and ignored ignored, they may turn on their own as the disenchanted, bored with dildo-burning duty, come up with their own schemes to hasten the New Jerusalem. Ritzheimer, a short fuse on the best of days, is already fuming at being a subaltern when he knows baring his pasty, flag-tatted chest will rally the men of America to the cause.

So that’s why nothing should ever be done for the first time. The Bundy’s say they’ll leave when the locals tell them to, after they get what they want. So far, the government, which holds all the cards, is saying, “Whatevah.”

Nothing annoys a martyr so much as realizing he is irrelevant.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Best suggestion yet, Bundylanders: we have real wars you can choose from.

It is not possible to send too much tinfoil to this lot

From a profile of Bundyland's "security chief", whose mission is to let the crazy in, keep the sane out, and make sure the flow of incoming dildos is maintained.
Payne came to believe the latter, that the government uses regulations to deliberately undermine the average American, "that they are purposely destroying industry, they are purposely taking this land from people." The more he looked, the more he saw a deliberate and nefarious plan being orchestrated by a small number of people wielding enormous power. He saw a pervasive conspiracy to control all aspects of the media, the financial system, the entertainment industry, the military and the government. 
More specifically, he came to believe that slavery never really existed in the United States and that African Americans in the antebellum South "didn't view themselves as slaves." He came to believe in "an effort by some Jews to control the world." He came to believe the founders of the United States intended for the states to act as sovereign countries. He came to believe taxes are a form of "legal plunder." He came to believe names are spelled in all-caps on driver's licenses because U.S. citizens are actually "corporate entities." He came to believe U.S. courts are actually foreign admiralty courts. He came to believe that "in most states you have the lawful authority to kill a police officer that is unlawfully trying to arrest you." He came to believe when a newborn child's footprint is made on a birth certificate, that child is effectively entering a life of servitude to the U.S. government, which borrows money from China based on that child's estimated lifetime earning potential. 
He came to see all aspects of government, culture and society as mechanisms of control. "And they've set everything up so they can maintain that control," Payne says, "because they believe they are God." 
As Payne became convinced that conspiracies exist to control the world's people, he also moved from agnosticism to a deep belief in a Creator. "I'm a Jew," Payne says. "A Messianic Jew. A Kabbalist, even." These mystical and often controversial traditions of Judaism accommodated his faith as well as his suspicions of religion, which he considers "clothing for the truth." 
With faith, rebelling against control became a matter of fighting to bring about the utopian world God wants for us, a world of complete and perfect liberty.