29 November 2008

Awesome Video Saturday LXVII

I thought this was a funny video. Just a warning- it gets a little ugly in the end.

28 November 2008

Crossing the Divide

Among the various unheralded accomplishments of the Bush administration has been the service of Dana Gioia, the head of the National Endowment for the Arts. Certainly this is due to his own personality, but his tenure has been demonstrative of how at least one official was well-selected.

Read this National Review piece for more.

27 November 2008

¡Feliz día de Gracias!

I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving. Here is some of what I am grateful for.

Best wishes on this beautiful day!

26 November 2008

Hang 'em at the Mainyard!

This was an interesting piece on how U.S. and International maritime law does not adequately address the problem of piracy in today's oceans. For a synopsis you can watch the video below.

24 November 2008

False Democracy

If you happen to read or hear anything about Venezuela's elections today, this article should provide a helpful context.

Venezuelans do not enjoy free and fair democracy, Jimmy Carter's endorsement notwithstanding.

22 November 2008

Awesome Video Saturday LXVI

Since Kira is visiting Florida until early December and Justin must miss her, I thought I'd help him feel better by putting them into one of his favorite movies (the pics I used are from 2003):

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This is another funny video I made with Joseph, Millie, and Evan.

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15 November 2008

Awesome Video Saturday LXV

"Futurewear," as envisioned long ago. I like the party about "candy for cuties."

13 November 2008

More Warming Shwarming

Under the category "We really have no clue" comes this bit of information:

Scheduled shifts in Earth's orbit should plunge the planet into an enduring Ice Age thousands of years from now but the event will probably be averted because of man-made greenhouse gases, scientists said Wednesday.
This is such folly. I mean, the idea is interesting, but how can we possibly know whether this will actually come to pass? It's worth asking the question.

11 November 2008

Whither the War

We don't hear much about Iraq these days. Want to know why? The War is over. It is still a dangerous, somewhat unstable place, but the situation is generally much improved.

We don't hear much about Afghanistan either, aside from Democrats complaining that we haven't done enough there. It is true that efforts in Afghanistan have played second fiddle to Iraq. With Iraq's improvements we can refocus efforts there, as Obama has promised. Michael Yon is a veteran embedded journalist and has some advice for our President-to-be:

Whatever else, Mr. President-elect, this is no time to go wobbly. It is important to note that some top British and U.S. commanders believe that we can make a “success” out of Afghanistan. We’ve learned a few things over the past seven years. We’ve truly got a “dream team” of military commanders with great in-theater experience to advise and guide the next phase. They saved Iraq. Use them well, Sir.
President-elect Obama says he is serious about Afghanistan. (Just don’t fumble Iraq, please.) As he must be learning in intelligence briefings, it’s going to be tough stuff. It will be like solving a human Rubik’s Cube during a firefight while the media screams every time you make a wrong move — or what is perceived as a wrong move — and there is a clock ticking and at some unknown point the Cube self-destructs.


I am so pleased by this picture:

This is a shot of the new Enterprise from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot. Abrams, from an Entertainment Weekly article:

If you're going to do Star Trek there are many things you cannot change. The Enterprise is a visual touchstone for so many people. So if you're going to do the Enterprise, it better look like the Enterprise, because otherwise, what are you doing?

I think it's going to be a winner. We'll have to wait until May to find out. I've always been a fan, and Lacy already knows she has no choice on this one.

10 November 2008

Pity the Pres

During the last 8 years I have never wavered in my support for President Bush. There are some things that I have disagreed with or been disappointed about, but on the whole I think he is a decent man who did his best, and I think history will reward that in due time, especially on the Iraq War.

Mr. Bush is not an evil man. Many on the left will claim to have given him a fair shake early on, but I don't remember that being the case at all. He was only on the job for 8 months when 9/11 occurred, and he took office during a recession. A former member of John Kerry's 2004 legal team had the following to say about the President:
It seems that no matter what Mr. Bush does, he is blamed for everything. He remains despised by the left while continuously disappointing the right. 
Yet it should seem obvious that many of our country's current problems either existed long before Mr. Bush ever came to office, or are beyond his control. Perhaps if Americans stopped being so divisive, and congressional leaders came together to work with the president on some of these problems, he would actually have had a fighting chance of solving them.
No doubt the Bush administration will continue to confound for many years to come. As I said before, Bush the man has many qualities to admire. From the recollections of Jim Towey, a former White House staffer:
I remember coming to the West Wing one morning before the daily 7:30 senior staff meeting and seeing Mr. Bush at his desk in the Oval Office, reading a daily devotional. I remember the look of sorrow on his face as he signed letters to the families of the fallen. When he met with recovering addicts whose lives were transformed by a faith-based program, he spoke plainly of his own humiliating journey years ago with alcohol. When a Liberian refugee broke into tears after recounting her escape to freedom in America, the president went over and held and comforted her.
Little acts behind the curtain like these inspired intense loyalty by staff members. They spoke of someone never too busy or burdened to care -- like when he took time on Air Force One to call my wife when she was sick. The president's true character rendered his media image pure caricature.
There is reason to give the man a break. Liberals would do well to wish President Obama better treatment than that afforded President Bush. He has made his mistakes, but he has served his country in a difficult time.

09 November 2008

Argentina's Bad Example

This is old news by now, but I hadn't been able to talk about it yet. Argentina's government has seized private pension funds. In the economic realm Argentina is a "bad actor." The supposed rationale for the seizure was relayed by Mary Anastasia O'Grady, who also provides a needed reality check:
Mrs. Kirchner defended her decision to seize the pension assets by asserting that the market is too risky for retirement savings, and that the returns earned by private-sector fund managers are not adequate.
That's quite a claim considering that the average annual return of Argentina's private-sector pension managers over the past 14 years is 13.9%. But it is even more absurd if one compares the private-sector returns to those of the government's pay-as-you-go social security system over four decades.
I hope we take this action as a warning and zealously guard our property rights, lest we one day find ourselves in this predicament.

08 November 2008


Michael Crichton passed away this week. I've always been a fan of his fiction, ever since reading Jurassic Park in 1991 or 1992. His most controversial work was State of Fear, scathing critique of global warming alarmism.

The Wall Street Journal reproduced a speech by Crichton from 2003:

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
Let's be clear: The work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
There is no such thing as consensus science. If it's consensus, it isn't science. If it's science, it isn't consensus. Period. . . .

I read State of Fear and thought it a fantastic expose. Crichton's books were often popcorn fiction, but they also contained a message worth remembering. As this Wall Street Journal editorial explains:

A medical doctor by training, Crichton knew better than to treat scientists and technologists as a priestly class, immune from temptations of fame, profit or power.

Awesome Video Saturday LXIV

You must watch this video. I don't know that I could accurately describe it:

Initially it wasn't clear, but now I understand that the guy is only lip-syncing. I was quite disappointed when I realized.

05 November 2008

FDR- Hero or Goat?

As Obama contemplates solutions for the economic problems we face, he would do well to consider this study from UCLA economists that concludes that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's economic policies may have actually prolonged the Great Depression by as much as ten years:

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."
Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.
In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.
Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.
"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."
It's an interesting conclusion, but hardly a new one- let the market work.

Another Reason to Smile

From Power Line:

One should never say "never" in politics. However, Barack Obama's victory almost certainly means that neither Hillary Clinton nor Al Gore will ever be president of the United States

04 November 2008

Reason to Smile

As a Republican I can't help but be disappointed by the outcome of tonight's election. I'm listening to John McCain deliver a classy concession speech. He did a nice job of addressing the significance of Obama's win. This is one of the best speeches I've heard him give during the whole campaign.

A concession speech should leave the losing party just as proud of their nation as they would have been had they won. "Believe in the promise and greatness of America."

A key line- "offer our next president our good will." I can and will do this. This is not to say I will give on those significant and key areas where I disagree with our President-elect. I can and will give him my goodwill.

If you haven't heard his speech, google the transcript. It is a model for graceful concessions. I am very happy to have supported Senator John McCain.

On a related note, there was an earlier shot of a tearful Jesse Jackson awaiting the big celebration in Grant Park in Chicago. In spite of strong personal feelings about his character, I am happy for him.

SPOTD #144

¡Feliz dia de las elecciones! I hope everyone had smooth voting experiences. A few weeks ago my friend was made a citizen. He voted in his first election and it reminds me of the importance of our electoral system, one lacking in Cuba, the country of my mother's birth. We are blessed in this country to have free and fair elections (notwithstanding the occasional mishaps) and I hope we take a minute to consider how important that is.

Today's phrase:
Make sure you have this one memorized before the 2010 midterm elections.

El derecho de votar es muy importante

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Ell day-ray-cho day voe-tar ess moy eem-pore-tahn-tay.

The right to vote is very important.

More than Beer
This review of a Samuel Adams biography was very interesting, and is a book I'll need to pick up. Unlike many of the other Founding Fathers, few of his writings survived due to his desire to

The only way to fly
Nice way to go if you can get it. I wonder how many carbon offsets you'd need for that one?

Link of the Day
Looks like I should have voted for this guy instead:

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Where Voters "Matter"

In today's WSJ, Gerald Seib writes:

The most exhilarating campaign of our time has come to an end, and some 130 million Americans now will put the exclamation point at the end of that sentence by casting votes. Each of those votes is equal, of course, but some are more equal than others.
That is, some votes have more strategic significance. They will determine whether Sen. John McCain can pull off a surprise, or whether Sen. Barack Obama wins by a small margin or with a mandate.

His piece is a nice, concise look at the states that may determine the election.

03 November 2008

The Case for Security (The Case for McCain)

As Frederick Kagan observed in last week's Wall Street Journal, there is real danger that current economic difficulties cause Americans to ignore the importance of the national security issue:

When Franklin Roosevelt replaced Herbert Hoover in the White House, the country's economy was in shambles but its security was not threatened. No American forces were engaged in significant military conflict; America faced no threats. The U.S. was largely disarmed militarily and disengaged internationally.
Yet within a decade, American territory had been attacked for the first time in 130 years, a massive rearmament program was underway, and the U.S. was fighting a desperate struggle that spanned the globe and ultimately cost the lives of nearly half a million American service members. The seeds of that global conflict, unimaginable in 1933 given the relative weakness of Germany and Japan, were planted in the first years of the Roosevelt administration as FDR focused on the American economy.
Obama's more conciliatory foreign policy gives me pause. I have little concern for the opinion of other nations, except as it limits our options in defending our homeland. Is it possible that we should try to improve strained relationships? Of course, but never at the expense of our own security.

What threats will our next president face? Kagan illuminates:
It is important to note here the distinction between an enemy and a threat. Threats are problems to be concerned about in the future; enemies are organizations trying to kill Americans right now. Al Qaeda and Iranian agents are both killing Americans on a regular basis and have proclaimed their determination to kill more. They are enemies, not threats, and they will confront the next president from day one.
There are threats too, such as Pakistan's instability, combined with its inability and unwillingness to confront the al Qaeda safe havens on its territory. The growth of al Qaeda organizations in Algeria and Somalia poses another. Russian adventurism on the borders of states to which the U.S. has already given security guarantees is still another. The dangers of nuclear proliferation if the North Korean regime collapses -- or if it does not -- are still another.
Lastly, the next president will almost certainly face Iran's arrival at the threshold of nuclear-weapons capability. This, combined with Iran's efforts to develop long-range (and ultimately intercontinental) ballistic missiles and its global terrorist networks, is a threat to America's allies and to Americans at home.
It's the last piece of the puzzle. Is it more important than the economy? I'm not sure, but it remains critical. Whoever gets the job, good luck to them, and us.

01 November 2008

Today in Sports

Today has been a great day in college football. I've just watched Texas Tech's thrilling win over #1 ranked Texas. I love college football.

We'll start with my alma mater, Brigham Young. All I really know is that they won. Not having the MTN network I'm forced to rely on el Internet. Now, for the second week in a row, the game is much, much closer than I would like. But they won, Dennis Pitta is the man. Now Utah has to beat TCU and we have to beat Utah. Beyond that I don't know how they would break the tie, but Go Cougs!

I was able to watch the Miami Hurricanes play Virginia. This was an exciting game, because despite many, many Miami mistakes they were able to tie the game and win in thrilling fashion. After scoring on their first overtime posession, Lovon Ponder stripped the ball from Virginia's running back and that was the game.

Florida exacted revenge on Georgia, in the only way that really matters, on the field. Tim Tebow is some kind of player. Since losing to Ole Miss Florida has been extremely impressive. This speech, given by Tebow after the loss, was quite the statement and he has backed it up. This is an interesting look at how the game went down. Also, I read this brief preview yesterday about the game and meant to blog about how I thought the guy was wrong. You'll just have to trust me on that one.

Awesome Video Saturday LXIII

Today I have a video of Joseph with his monster truck costume. I made it for him and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

I also thought this trailer for the next Harry Potter film was pretty cool:

And finally, because yesterday was Halloween, check out this creepy old ad for dolls.