30 April 2009

To Disagree

President Obama is mad that some hedge funds, holders of bonds issued by Chrysler, were unwilling to accept the terms offered by the administration. Their reluctance is being blamed for Chrysler entering Chapter 11.

The blame for Chrysler's mess belongs with the management, labor unions, and owners. The hedge funds likely belong in that group, but what is not clear is how anyone has the obligation to sacrifice in these situations.

Shared sacrifice is likely to be a continued theme as spending for the President's proposed program and existing entitlements increases. Megan McArdle takes a look at what the Obama Administration has accomplished in its first 100 days, and what it aims to do.

Bad History

On his trip to the Summit of the Americas, Barack Obama received a book from Hugo Chavez. The book is called Open Veins of Latin America, called by some "The Idiot's Bible."

This column (by O'Grady) illustrates why.

29 April 2009

SPOTD #152

Coming at you from sunny, and increasingly warm, Florida.

Today's phrase:
An excellent phrase, inspired by one of the items below.

Más tocino, por favor.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Mahs toe-see-no, pore fah-vore.

More bacon, please.

We've Come a Long Way
Since Joseph's aunt and uncle gave him this little gem at Christmas my love of Nerf weapons has been reborn. I happened upon this retrospective of Nerf's finest creations.

Disturbia: A pretty good thriller. Not a bad rental. Not all that surprising, and a little grisly, but fun.
Run, Fatboy Run: Very funny british movie that had me a little misty at the end. It's the little boy. Not too Hollywoody, with some wacky, but not totally outrageous characters.
Bolt: The introductory sequence to this movie was great. I would watch a show like that. The kids loved it- "Zoom zoom."
Duplicity: First movie I've seen in the theater since Benjamin Button in December. Not bad, but not great. Slick and well-acted, but insubstantial.

Good Sport
This was a great story from the Miami Herald of a local kid getting an unlikely shot at the NFL. I'm not sure if he got drafted, its a good story.
In less happy news, former BYU quarterback John Beck was cut from the Dolphins. His only legacy is the classy way that he played, but I guess that's better than nothing.

Keep on Shrugging
I've written about Atlas Shrugged 5 Times on the blog. One of my favorite books ever, and it may (MAY) finally be made into a movie.

World's Oldest Lady loves...Bacon
And who can blame her? At 115 years she can do whatever she wants.

Idiot Watch
A German woman jumped into the polar bear exhibit at the Berlin Zoo, and then was attacked. I think she got exactly what she deserved.
Honorable mention? Whoever engineered the flyover of the 747 in New York City on Monday.

Link of the Day
Speaking of biting animals, how many piranhas does it take to eat a person? Click the link and find out.

28 April 2009

Running Free

I didn't realize that there was even debate on the issue, but there are some out there who think running shoes do more harm than good. This article from Popular Mechanics looks at some of the arguments for and against.

It is an interesting article, but the comments are even more interesting. There is an evangelical quality to the barefooters that is off-putting, but I am intrigued by the idea of scrapping our existing shoe designs in favor of something that really helps the human body perform better.

I don't know if my knees could handle running is something unpadded on asphalt or concrete, but I'd be willing to give it a try.

27 April 2009

Love the Beast

I'm really intrigued by this film, Love the Beast, by actor Eric Bana. It is about his relationship with his Ford Falcon, the car used in the Mad Max films.

I've never had that kind of thing with a car, probably because my two cars have been good, but standard automobiles, and I never grew up building, rebuilding, or fixing them. I do love the story though, I can definitely identify with that feeling.

In an interview, Bana mentions his favorite car ever is the McLaren F1, an opinion I've shared for a long time as well. Once the fastest production car ever made, the McLaren cost about $1 million and the driver sat in the middle. I once saw one in London, one of only a 100 or so made.

Here's the preview for the film.

25 April 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXXVII

Rockets. Crash. Oblivion. Awesome. Watch it- the payoff is quick.

24 April 2009

Go Boldly

As the summer movie season approaches, there is one film whose prospects please me more than any other- Star Trek

I was an avid Trekkie for a long time. I'd watched almost every episode of the original series. I'd watched every episode of the Next Generation at least once, as well as all of the movies many times.

When I left for college I stopped watching regulary. I never watched more than 10 minutes of Enterprise. The magic was gone...until now.

The first glimpses of the movie were promising, but it was not until the first full-length trailer that the scale and production seemed to be truly first-rate.

This is a Variety review for the film. I haven't read anything bad about it yet. I think this will be a huge success, crossing traditional audience boundaries. Lacy will be my test. As she goes, so goes America (at least I think so).

22 April 2009

Obama Gets it Right

I have written many times about U.S. trade with Colombia. Colombia has been among our truest allies in this hemisphere, in an environment that often hostile to that stand.

I'd been disappointed with Obama's failure to provide support for the proposed free trade pact with Colombia. It was part of my rational for rejecting his candidacy. While he has not pleased me on every point with regard to trade, this news is wonderful (from Investor's Business Daily):

The president announced that his team must find a way to pass the agreement.
With world trade down 80%, the pact opens new markets to the U.S. He demanded immediate action, asking Colombia's trade minister to fly to Washington this week.
Then it got even better: Obama invited Uribe to the White House and
promised to visit Colombia himself, allowing the Colombians to lay out for him
their vast economic and social progress, and their desire to integrate into
global trade.
In a final flourish, Obama scribbled his autograph onto President Uribe's notes, writing: "To President Uribe, with admiration! Barack H. Obama." A smiling Uribe showed it to reporters. Given Uribe's discretion, it's likely that Obama asked him to do that.
The media made much of Obama's polite gestures to dictators, but he gave them nothing resembling what he gave to Uribe. Name one dictator Obama sat with for lunch. Which troublemaker got a White House invitation? Which tinhorn got a promise to visit?
And has anyone heard of Obama giving his autograph — "with admiration!" — to another president? It was as if Obama himself unclenched his own fist to reach out to the Colombian hand. Obama may have had political reasons to seek out Colombia — the Chavez-Obama pictures didn't do him any good domestically, and Drudge Report ran pictures of them all weekend, infuriating White House officials.
But the outlook for free trade has been improving for several weeks, too. On a visit to Medellin last month, Uribe gave us a veiled signal of positive moves on trade under the surface, and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has since made encouraging statements.
Credit must be given where it is due. Congressional Democrats may balk at passing the measure, and Obama may be tested, but this is smart politics and smart policy.

On a completely unrelated note- I hate it when they lip sync the already painful group numbers on American Idol. It is extremely lame. Just wanted to share.

21 April 2009

Up or Down

Just a quick note on this op-ed from Democrat Walter Dellinger. An excerpt:

On the eve of George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001, I cautioned fellow
Democrats against "delaying or denying confirmation of nominees to cabinet and
subcabinet posts." I argued on these pages that blocking executive nominees
would weaken the presidency and be counterproductive for the opposition: "If a
president cannot promptly place his chosen people in key offices, he can hardly
be held fully responsible for the missteps of the administration."
In the
past few years, many Republican senators have agreed, saying that it is
unacceptable to filibuster a nominee submitted to the Senate for its "advice and
consent." Some Republicans have gone further than I would, asserting that
filibusters of presidential nominations are unconstitutional.
I was therefore
taken aback by recent speculation that Republicans might filibuster two of
President Barack Obama's key nominees: Dawn Johnsen, to head the Justice
Department's Office of Legal Counsel; and Harold Koh, to be legal adviser to the
State Department.

I hope the speculation turns out to be unfounded. It may well be. It would be wrong to perpetrate an unfortunate and damaging practice. To the victor go the spoils.

20 April 2009

Missing out

Mary Anastasia O'Grady has often been cited in the SPOTD. I'm a fan of her writing, and given my leanings it should be no surprise that I agree with her assessment of the recent Summit of the Americas:

If President Barack Obama's goal at the fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago this weekend was to be better liked by the region's dictators and left-wing populists than his predecessor George W. Bush, the White House can chalk up a win.
If, on the other hand, the commander in chief sought to advance American ideals, things didn't go well. As the mainstream press reported, Mr. Obama seemed well received. But the freest country in the region took a beating from Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Bolivia's Evo Morales, and Nicaragua's Danny Ortega.
The president is still new on the job, but this seems another missed opportunity:
The first black U.S. president could have named hundreds of others being held in inhumane conditions by the white dictator. He could have also asked Brazil's President Lula da Silva, Chile's President Michelle Bachelet and Mexico's Felipe Calderón where they stand on human rights for all Cubans. Imagine if Mr. Obama asked for a show of hands to find out who believes Cubans are less deserving of freedom than, say, the black majority in South Africa under apartheid or Chileans during the Pinochet dictatorship. Then again, that would be no way to win a popularity contest or to ingratiate yourself with American supporters who are lining up to do business in Cuba.
Instead the U.S. president simply floated down the summit river passively bouncing off whatever obstacles he encountered. The Chávez "gift" of the 1971 leftist revolutionary handbook "Open Veins of Latin America" followed by a suggestion of renewing ambassadorial relations was an insult to the American people. Granted, giving the Venezuelan attention would have been counterproductive. But Mr. Obama ought to have complained loudly about that country's aggression. It has supported Colombian terrorists, drug trafficking and Iran's nuclear ambitions. As former CIA director Michael Hayden told Fox News Sunday, "the behavior of President Chávez over the past years has been downright horrendous -- both internationally and with regard to what he's done internally inside Venezuela."
So far Obama seems to be using a foreign policy approach that is all carrot and no stick.

19 April 2009


I'm eager to write about all the goings-on in Latin American politics, but haven't had the chance to do it justice. That will be my focus this week...to my 3 readers.

18 April 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXXVI

I'm quite excited to see the new Wolverine Movie, but I couldn't wait, so here is the pirated version.

16 April 2009


This is a brief look at one US Army sniper. The snipers who took out three of the four Somali did their job. This guy teaches snipers how to get to that point.

15 April 2009

Talking Taxes

I believe that the average American is willing to pay taxes. We understand that the military, education, and infrastructure all cost money, and we value these services. There are some who are opposed to all taxes. This is an unrealistic and naive point of view, and I'm not going to defend it. What I do want to defend is the tremendous frustration Americans feel with the level of taxation relative to the quality of administration and use of those monies.

During the last 6 months the Federal Government has committed tremendous amounts of money with the stated purpose of improving the nation's economic situation. Much of this, as with the stimulus, was hastily organized and approved, laying bare any pretext that legislators knew what they were doing. This was further exacerbated by the belated admission of Senator Dodd that a highly unpopular provision regarding contractual bonus obligations had come from his office. Most legislation is not written by legislators but by their aides and lobbyist allies. This is not shocking or, to me, all that disturbing. It is distasteful to pretend otherwise and Dodd's failure is but one example.

Today there were significant protests all over the country. You can see pictures here and here. As Glenn Reynolds writes in today's WSJ:

In the old days, organizing large groups of people required, well, an organization: a political party, a labor union, a church or some other sort of structure. Now people can coordinate themselves.
We saw a bit of this in the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns, with things like Howard Dean's use of Meetup, and Barack Obama's use of Facebook. But this was still social-networking in support of an existing organization or campaign. The tea-party protest movement is organizing itself, on its own behalf. Some existing organizations, like Newt Gingrich's American Solutions and FreedomWorks, have gotten involved. But they're involved as followers and facilitators, not leaders. The leaders are appearing on their own, and reaching out to others through blogs, Facebook, chat boards and alternative media.

These protests are not party-based. Average Americans feel betrayed by the political establishment, thus the dramatic difference between support for Barack Obama (the man) and the ruling Democratic Party. The Republicans are no better off, despite mostly ineffective attempts to serve as the loyal opposition. The National Chair of the Republican Party, Michael Steele, saw his offer to speak at a protest turned down, so disconnected is any party from this movement.

We find the false piety of our leaders offensive. The sneaky substitution of government action for private philanthropy, proposed by those interested in strengthening the position of government, is belied by their own behavior. Vice-President Joe Biden, who extolled the patriotism implicit in the payment of taxes, was a decidedly poor contributor to charitable causes according to 6 years of tax returns. This is not the only determinant of charitable intent, but it is telling.

There is a trust gap at every level of government. It is not universal, but it is considerable and appears to be growing. We are not an odd subset of the populace. We are interested and aware, and done with the intellectual dishonesty of the political establishment.

Today may be the first of many tax protest days to come. This is a good thing.

13 April 2009

Is it Rocket Science?

How hard is it to fire a rocket? The linked point-counterpoint provides some insight into the recent North Korean missile launch.

12 April 2009

Doing it Right

The captain of the merchant ship captured by pirates off Somalia has been freed. Navy sharpshooters (apparently SEALS) took out 3 of the 4 pirates, who had been aiming their weapons at the captain. He has given all credit to the US Navy, but as the president of the shipping company stated, Captain Richard Phillips exemplified some of the best traditions of the merchant marine.

There seems to be great uncertainty regarding how to legally react to modern piracy. These would be my rules:

Board a ship that doesn't belong to you, attempt any theft, detention, or seizure of property or personnel, especially as part of a group not sanctioned by any recognized state, and you forfeit your life.

11 April 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXXV

I think I remember this commercial. Let's see if you recognize the game player. Hint: his name rhymes with Shmall Shmudd. The SNES was awesome, and I think Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past may still be one of the best games of all time.

This is a pretty creative Cliffs Notes version of Forrest Gump.

10 April 2009

Atlas Filmed

This is the 5th time that I have written about Atlas Shrugged on this blog, the first time being 18 October 2006.

I got this link from my old friend Tim. The recent increase of government involvement in our economic affairs is again pushing Atlas Shrugged to the fore as a potential film production. It will be an extremely difficult film to adapt. For one thing it is set in a 50's era period where oil production, railroads, and steel were the backbone of the American economy. I don't think it will work as a period piece, so bringing it to the modern era seems essential but thorny.

Let's see if this renewed enthusiasm goes anywhere.

09 April 2009


I've written before about how my issues with Global Warming orthodoxy are really the only source of conflict. I don't know enough to say that their theory of man-made warming is wrong. I know that I find their data unconvincing and their methods ineffective.

What is a telling sign of the weakness of their science is the reaction of Global Warmists to "conscientious objectors." One such person is Freeman Dyson, who is profiled in this New York Times Magazine article:

Dyson says he doesn’t want his legacy to be defined by climate change, but his dissension from the orthodoxy of global warming is significant because of his stature and his devotion to the integrity of science. Dyson has said he believes that the truths of science are so profoundly concealed that the only thing we can really be sure of is that much of what we expect to happen won’t come to pass. In “Infinite in All Directions,” he writes that nature’s laws “make the universe as interesting as possible.” This also happens to be a fine description of Dyson’s own relationship to science. In the words of Avishai Margalit, a philosopher at the Institute for Advanced Study, “He’s a consistent reminder of another possibility.” When Dyson joins the public conversation about climate change by expressing concern about the “enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories,” these reservations come from a place of experience. Whatever else he is, Dyson is the good scientist; he asks the hard questions. He could also be a lonely prophet. Or, as he acknowledges, he could be dead wrong.
I really hope you read the article. Dyson is a fascinating man, and above all, a good scientist. I don't think we would agree on everything. His politics ar emore liberal than mine, but he does share my disdain for Al Gore and James Hanson. He asks tough questions and his kind of dissent is the kind that we need.

08 April 2009

Foreign Aid ≠ Reduction in Poverty

According to this article by the Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady, foreign aid has not been an effective means of alleviating poverty in Latin America.

The following excerpt is helpful:

In a recent book titled "Lessons From the Poor" about successful entrepreneurs in the developing world, researcher Alvaro Vargas Llosa echoes these insights. "The decisive element" in bringing a society out of poverty is "the development of the entrepreneurial reserves that exist in its men and women," Mr. Vargas Llosa writes. "The institutions that grant more freedom to their citizens and more security to their citizens' possessions are those that best facilitate the accumulation of wealth."
It is obvious that economic liberty and property rights are the key drivers of development, and that there is no correlation between the volume of foreign aid a country receives and its respect for these values. Yet what is more troubling is the IDB's reputation for working against liberalization in the region, most notoriously, against the flat tax. With its institutional checkbook it easily overpowers civic groups that try to limit the power of government. In doing so it promotes neither development nor just societies.
Freer economic systems are critical to alleviating poverty in developing nations, IF that freedom is accompanied by enshrined respect for property rights.

When will we be able to demand the kind of results from our intergovernmental organizations that Washington is demanding from the management of public companies.

07 April 2009

Big Trouble in little Korea

North Korea launched a missile over the weekend with the ability to strike long-range targets. During his time as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and since leaving that post, John Bolton has been a steadfast proponent of taking a tough line with North Korea.

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal he lays blame (rightfully) at the feet of the Bush administration, but puts the responsibility for future action firmly on President Obama's shoulders. This is appropriate, and one of Bolton's observations is particularly important:

Once the missile shot was complete, the administration's answer was hand-wringing, more rhetoric and, oh yes, the obligatory trip to the U.N. Security Council so that it could scold the defiant DPRK. Beyond whatever happens in the Security Council, Mr. Obama seems to have no plan whatever.
Obama may indeed have a plan, but so far he has failed to impress on foreign policy matters. His failed attempts to get help from Russia on Iran, and Iran's own rejection of his attempts at dialogue have seemed amateurish and naive.

06 April 2009

Be Afraid

Stuart Varney makes a very direct assertion in his Saturday WSJ op-ed:

The government wants to control the banks, just as it now controls GM and Chrysler, and will surely control the health industry in the not-too-distant future. Keeping them TARP-stuffed is the key to control. And for this intensely political president, mere influence is not enough. The White House wants to tell 'em what to do. Control. Direct. Command.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has failed to assuage Varney's fear, or my own. Varney continues:
Here's a true story first reported by my Fox News colleague Andrew Napolitano (with the names and some details obscured to prevent retaliation). Under the Bush team a prominent and profitable bank, under threat of a damaging public audit, was forced to accept less than $1 billion of TARP money. The government insisted on buying a new class of preferred stock which gave it a tiny, minority position. The money flowed to the bank. Arguably, back then, the Bush administration was acting for purely economic reasons. It wanted to recapitalize the banks to halt a financial panic.
Fast forward to today, and that same bank is begging to give the money back. The chairman offers to write a check, now, with interest. He's been sitting on the cash for months and has felt the dead hand of government threatening to run his business and dictate pay scales. He sees the writing on the wall and he wants out. But the Obama team says no, since unlike the smaller banks that gave their TARP money back, this bank is far more prominent. The bank has also been threatened with "adverse" consequences if its chairman persists. That's politics talking, not economics.
That's change, but not much hope. We should be very, very vigilant.
On a lighter note, I loved this picture (via Instapundit):

This is the article that inspired the clever photoshop. Yet more reason to have concern about the expansion of executive economic power.

SPOTD #151

It hasn't been that long since the last edition. I've just read a lot of great stuff, especially the link of the day.
I'll be pulling for Michigan State tonight. UNC is pretty formidable. Should be a good game.

Today's phrase:
From Winston Churchill. He would know.

El éxito es aprender a ir de fracaso en fracaso sin desesperar.

Phonetic with emphasis on bold syllable:
Ell ake-see-toe ess ah-prain-dare ah eer day frah-cah-so enn frah-cah-so seen dace-ace-pare-ar.

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

Rare Dolphins
A large group of endangered Irrawaddy dolphins was found near Bangladesh. This is great, and not just because these dolphins look like alien dolphins (they are actually more closely related to orcas than the familiar bottlenose dolphins).

Battlestar Blues
I am feeling the lack of one of my favorite shows, Battlestar Galactica, and it looks like I'm not alone.
Another show has left the air, ER, and I think that it did so quite well.

Bad Film = Good Humor
Eric Snider reviews Bruce Willis' 1991 film Hudson Hawk:

Die Hard and Die Hard 2: Die More Harder were huge hits in 1988 and 1990, and that gave Willis the confidence to try an idea he'd come up with himself. The concept: a grating action-comedy where the action doesn't make sense and the comedy isn't funny.
The film: Hudson Hawk

Black Market Spokane
A ban on detergents deemed environmentally unfriendly has led residents of Spokane Washington to Idaho.

Bad Call
An interesting bit of history has emerged between T.S. Elliot and George Orwell. Orwell orginally sent the classic book Animal Farm to the publisher where Elliot was director. It was rejected, as its politics were not all that convincing. Very interesting in retrospect.

Link of the Day
I saw this on the Travel Channel- it is something called the Hellfire Challenge at a wing joint called SmokeEaters. The extra-hot sauce has the equivalent of 1/2 a Habanero pepper PER WING! I once ate two habaneros as part of a pepper challenge, but I had non of the restrictions of this place:

This is just nuts. Would any of you try it?

05 April 2009

Obamajama (I just like how it sounds)

I wrote the other day about favorable treatment of Obama in the media. This is also manifest in the broader coverage of Obama's visit to Europe, as explained by Victor Davis Hanson:

Blair was denigrated as Bush’s poodle, although his eloquence and influence over Bush were clear to all. In contrast, Gordon Brown is embarrassingly obsequious to Obama, in a way Blair never was around Bush. And in further contrast, Obama shows an airy, polite disdain at being courted in such grubby fashion—while Bush was downright magnanimous in taking advice from Blair. Didn’t Brown get the message with the unviewable DVDs, the return of the Churchill bust, the ‘UK size of Oregon’ analogies? And will the press do a Brit “poodle” story?
There is more good stuff in Hanson's analysis, including the ideological inconsistency of many protestors and Obama's shifting of U.S. policy firmly to the left.

04 April 2009

Awesome Video Saturday LXXXIV

This video is awesome. Bibbity Bobbity Bacon!

03 April 2009

I ♥ Adam Smith('s ideas)

I am a unapologetic capitalist. One of the most frustrating things for me during this economic turmoil has been the frequent post mortems of capitalism. It is far to early to declare it a failed system.

The more likely culprit of our malaise stems not from capitalist principles, but misguided regulations. That is not to say that capitalism is a perfect system, but the direction that Obama is taking makes me uncomfortable.

My point is that Capitalism, in particular as it was explained by its father Adam Smith, should not be abandoned, especially in favor of Keynesian economics. This article from Standpoint, a UK magazine, demonstrates the multi-layered capitalism, simplified far too often in our day.

It's kind of long, but just print it out or bookmark it. It's worth the read.

02 April 2009

Needle in a Haystack?

You've got to see these photos from Afghanistan. Bomb-sniffing dogs are used there in the same way that they are used in the states, and to great effect.

The dog's effectiveness is impressive, but this find demonstrates the scope of the problem in Afghanistan.

Rose-Colored Glasses

Drudge linked to this report in the UK Daily Mail. Quentin Letts analyzes Obama's conference with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Letts is not all that kind in his estimation of Obama's performance, but he isn't overly critical either:

Allegedly the most charismatic politician in the world, Mr Obama was a disappointment. It sounded as though he had a blocked nose and so his lack of energy may have been a symptom of a cold. Jet lag, too. He probably wished he could have stayed in bed...
He spoke slowly, in a meandering manner. Some might say that he was thoughtful and professorial. Others might call his manner circuitous, even yarny.

Am I saying that he was a bore? Oh dear. I find that I possibly am.
But in a good way, arguably. He came across as a president who would consult and think thrice before bombing the smithereens out of a foreign capital.
This, comrades, can be counted progress.

I imagine Letts really feels this way, but I am flummoxed by this man's insistence at looking at everything Obama did so positively, and especially by the conclusion that he draws to Obama's potentially superior decision-making process. We've seen little to justify that optimism here.