Amazing Pumpkin

This is the most amazing carved pumpkin I have ever seen

Check out the rest at the artist's web site. You can see several shots of the process he goes through in making one of these. This man has serious skills!

Horror Film List

Just for fun, I reordered this list of horror films to my liking. Click to zoom. The first column is my rating (10 being best). The second column is the ranking from the website, from 1 to 100. Some things I would add, like the original Dracula. Some of these aren't really horror. If we are not strict about the genre, why not add Delieverance for example? I'm impressed with how many I have seen. It seems I haven't been keeping up though, much of the new stuff I have missed. The modern movies like Hostel and Saw are just too disgusting, and un-enjoyable.

Happy Halloween 2009

Happy Halloween everyone!


I was going to write a post about NY-23, the upcoming election for a Congressional representative from New York's upstate 23rd district. The title of the post was going to be "Who Cares." Really, I thought, what is all the hub-bub bub? It's about one seat in the House for goodness sake.

But today it got interesting. The Republican candidate has dropped out!

The Conservative Party candidate, Doug Hoffman, remains. The question I have is can he win? Despite the Republican dropping, I suspect she will still get a substantial amount of votes. It depends on how the ballot is structured, but I suspect that many people will just vote the party.

It would be a shame if the conservative vote were split. This Hoffman chap seems to be pretty good. I disagree with him on gay marriage, and am not so interested in the abortion issue. But his fiscal stance is right on. Good luck Mr Hoffman.

Health Insurance Facts

Here is a very enlightening essay on Health Insurance.
It turns out that claims about too little competition are based on a misinterpretation of the data and that non-profit insurers are so abundant that the largest insurer in virtually every state is a non-profit.

I recommend it. Despite a year-long debate on health insurance, I have not heard much about these points before.

I think that the politicians now pushing for massive health insurance reforms have no idea what they are doing. They have no knowledge of insurance. The current proposals are more about a government power grab than a serious attempt to address problems in our current system. Our current leadership sees corporations as inherently evil, and government heroic.

I expect the result to be a disaster.

Arnold's Memo

I wasn't going to comment on Arnold's naughty memo, but then I saw this post at The Corner.
Schwarzenegger deliberately etched an obscene word into the official public record, where it will stay forever.

It probably took his staff a good deal of effort to devise the acrostic. So think about it: Amid a fiscal crisis requiring severe cutbacks, a public employee had to use government time and resources to carry out the governor’s potty-mouth prank. This incident sends the message that he does not take the crisis very seriously. And one hopes that he did not assign a female aide to the task: Such is the stuff of sexual-harassment lawsuits.

Nobody should expect elected officials to be perfect in their private lives. But we can expect them to behave like adults in their public lives. By pulling a stunt that would land a junior-high-school kid in detention, the governor has flunked this standard.

I say good for Arnold. I thought the memo was amusing and appropriate.

As for the post at The Corner, I think John J. Pitney Jr., the Roy P. Crocker professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, is in serious need of lightening up.

Britain Has Lost It

Is it just me, or has Britain gone nuts? It seems like every couple of days there is some bizarre story coming from there. Sure, there are bizarre stories coming out of the USA. But the US stories are usually about individual people who act in bizarre ways. Britain's nuttery is more institutional, a result of government, and often the product of Political Correctness run amok. The latest:

Parents banned from watching their children in playgrounds... in case they are paedophiles

Read it and believe it.

India's Preemptive Surrender?

This public statement seems like a bad idea to me. Why would you declare to an adversary, who has a history of belligerence against you, that you are weak and wary of a fight? What is the expected response? Found via the Elephant Bar.

Update: A partial backtrack?

It's a Zombie Invasion!

What's up with all the zombie movies?

Data source. Has this weird phenomenon peaked?

Balloon Boy

I read about Balloon Boy on the net, without seeing any video. But once I saw the video, it was clear to me that there was no way a 45 pound 6 year old boy was inside that balloon

In the video you can see the balloon isn't even bottom heavy:

Googling around, I see others thought the same. Another good point
Aside from the lack of sufficient lift, just look at the photo! It is obvious from the shape of the balloon that it is not carrying much weight; else it would be pulled into a classic teardrop shape.

Seriously, it's not even convex. The media, I suppose, was more interested in drama than bursting everyone's bubble here. Odd though that there wasn't someone pointing out how ridiculous this hoax was while it was happening.

A slight defense of Shepard Fairey

Several commentators in recent days have decried the lack of celebration of the falling of the Berlin Wall. Obama has decided to send Clinton to the festivities in Germany instead of going himself. Others have pointed out that to properly celebrate the end of the Eastern Bloc you must explain just what the Eastern Bloc was and why we spent decades fighting it. And to properly celebrate the fall, you have to mention such names as Thatcher, Reagan and Bush I.

Yesterday afternoon, while driving past LACMA museum on Wilshire in West Los Angeles, I noticed about 8 sections of the Wall have been erected across the street from the museum (interestingly, not on the museum grounds at all.)

A little research showed that Los Angeles is actually holding one of the biggest celebrations around. There are the sections of the wall on display, there is a contest to make your own wall graffiti, and they will actually be building a wall across the very-busy Wilshire Boulevard--this to give people a taste of what it was like to have your city and country cut into two.
[ The Independent (UK) ] The Wall Project, the largest commemoration in the US of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, will be staged in Los Angeles with segments of the real Berlin Wall along Wilshire Boulevard for public viewing, October 17-November 14.

A two-part initiative, ‘The Wall Along Wilshire" part consists of 10 original 11-foot-by-three-foot segments of the Berlin Wall with an original border tower, to be installed on Wilshire Boulevard as an outdoor gallery. These real sections were donated by Berlin resident, Thomas Goerner, who owns the property on which the segments stood.

The other component, "The Wall Across Wilshire," will stretch over one of the busiest streets in LA, near the Los Angeles County Art Museum, blocking traffic.
So what does this have to do with the title of this blog? And who is Shepard Fairy? He's the artist responsible for this:

He's also being sued by AP, because it was one of their pictures that he used as starting point of his picture, and they want some of those juicy royalties.

He's been in the news the last day or two, because he has admitted to lying in his documentation in the lawsuit. Blogs are blasting him as a liar.

However...Shepard Fairey also happens to be the leading artist in the Los Angeles Wall commemorations.
"The Wall Across Wilshire," will stretch over one of the busiest streets in LA, near the Los Angeles County Art Museum, blocking traffic. Panels will be painted by Shepard Fairey, the graphic artist who created the iconic "Hope" poster for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

So, I'm more than willing to give Fairey quite a pass on this one.

Watching O'Reilly

Speaking of O'Reilly... why do I tune in? I usually end up watching very little of it. Basically, I listen to his intro bit, then tune out unless there is Bernie Goldberg or a few other segments like "Is it Legal?" which I enjoy. Perhaps it's just force of habit. There isn't anything else worth watching at that time slot either.

Ann says: His body-language segment is idiotic. I can't stand watching him, and usually go do something fact, I haven't been able to stand him since his summer of the shark a couple years ago, when he overhyped shark attacks.

Firing at Fox News

Seems that Marc Lamont Hill has been fired by Fox News:
Mediaite has confirmed Marc Lamont Hill has been fired from Fox News Channel. The liberal commentator was a regular on the network, most recently appearing as a guest on The O’Reilly Factor one week ago, according to TV Eyes.

I've seen him many times on O'Reilly. I don't remember ever agreeing with him, and usually found his arguments to be eye-roll inducing. Still, this firing seems rather odd. Fox should have some lefties on board. I'm not sure that Mr Hill was the best available, but he was willing to go on O'Reilly. I bet a guy like that is not easy to find.

Credit Card Companies

I just got this letter from my credit card company:

Dear So and So:

We are making changes to your account terms.

To continue to provide our customers with access to credit, we have had to adjust our pricing. The terms of your account will be changing. These changes include an increase in the variable APR for purchases to 29.99% and will take effect November 30, 2009. As always, you have the right to opt out and pay down your balance under your current terms. If you opt out, you may use your account under the current terms until the end of your current membership year or the expiration date on your card, whichever is later. At that time, we will close your account.

[Note I scanned in the text using my newly found OCR ability!]

I'm sorry dear free-market readers, but this is wrong. Thirty percent interest? The fine print says the rate is the US Prime Rate plus 26.74% In other words, the Prime Rate is 3.25%. So they are going to charge over 9 times the Prime Rate. It's absurd.

Credit card companies make money by getting people on the hook and then charging them outrageous interest. This trap used to be called loan-sharking or usury. I am generally a pretty free-market supporter. But there are limits and these people cross it. They give out easy credit to people who shouldn't be given it, then expect the government to act as their enforcer.

Turkey is Lost

Must read article "How Turkey Was Lost to the West"
Once the apotheosis of a pro-Western, dependable Muslim democracy, this week Turkey officially left the Western alliance and became a full member of the Iranian axis.

Very depressing.

If Turkey can be lost so, what chance is there that Iraq will become something resembling a stable, human rights respecting democracy?

Zero chance.

Happy Diwali!

To my sister-in-law, niece and brother:

Happy Diwali!!

Steve Says: Thank you very much from all of us! Happy Diwali to you too.

Shared Knowledge

I bought an HP combination printer, scanner and photocopier back in August. When I installed the associated software, I found that there was no program for Optical Character Recognition (OCR), even though the box gave some indication that the scanner had such a facility. The OCR program allows one to scan a document and have the text pulled out for use in a word processor. It also allows for the creation of a scanned PDF that has searchable text. So I was feeling rather ripped off by HP, having bought a piece of hardware that didn't do what they said it did.

Fortunately, I decided to post my problem on an HP users' forum. It took two months, but I got a suggestion from another user. I tried out the suggestion, and was pleased to find out that it worked. The suggestion was to install some software that was for another printer series, as it might work anyway.

This is another instance of how having the internet around has changed how we get things done. In this case, I was able to post a question on a world-wide message board and find a person perhaps thousands of miles away who knew the answer. It is really quite remarkable.

I remember having a conversation 20 years ago or so with my dad about fax machines. What we thought remarkable was how quickly an invention that didn't exist such a short time before was now nearly indispensable when doing business. Now, even more quickly, that invention itself has been all but replaced by an even more effective and valuable technology.

What's next? Bring it on!

Ann says: Actually, the first fax machine dates to the mid 18-hundreds. It worked on a telegraph line and was extremely primitive. Almost like Monty Python's sketch of Wuthering Heights on an Aldis lamp.

Penn Gets Scolded

Penn gets scolded by Tommy Smothers:

It appears that it hurt him rather deeply. Penn is right though, and is pretty courageous to do the right thing and appear on shows such as Glenn Beck's. I hope this episode doesn't discourage him.

As for the hypothetical "if Hitler had a show you'd go on that too!" it seems to me that that would in fact be the right thing to do. Imagine if at the end of every speech by Hitler you had Albert Schweitzer there to give a rebuttal! Wouldn't that a be a good thing?

Tom Smothers has always seemed like a bit of an ass to me. This episode certainly doesn't change my opinion.

Why Bother Blogging?

Why bother blogging when Charles Krauthammer is around?
About the only thing more comical than Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize was the reaction of those who deemed the award “premature,” as if the brilliance of Obama’s foreign policy is so self-evident and its success so assured that if only the Norway Five had waited a few years, his Nobel worthiness would have been universally acknowledged.


I might as well stick to personal blog posts about baby and life in Nashville.

Did no one see the last Die Hard movie?!

Popular Mechanics: A recent proposal to link the eastern, western and Texas grids together to create a national, alt-energy-friendly supergrid has sparked the interest of utilities and energy insiders, such as former energy secretary Bill Richardson. Can a high-tech substation in New Mexico create a smarter, unified grid? Not if Texas doesn't cooperate.

Buying More Votes

This is obnoxious

President Barack Obama called on Congress Wednesday to approve $250 payments to more than 50 million seniors to make up for no increase in Social Security next year. The Social Security Administration is scheduled to announce Thursday that there will be no cost of living increase next year. By law, increases are pegged to inflation, which has been negative this year.

"Even as we seek to bring about recovery, we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession," Obama said in a statement. "This additional assistance will be especially important in the coming months, as countless seniors and others have seen their retirement accounts and home values decline as a result of this economic crisis."

... A senior administration official said Obama was open to borrowing the money, increasing the federal budget deficit. The official, who requested anonymity, was not authorized to speak on the record.

The fact that inflation is negative means that the social security payments seniors receive are already buying more than they did last year. Thus, there is no need to "make up for" a lack of cost of living increase. Does it need to be pointed out again that on average the elderly are in fact much richer than the young? This idea, like many of President Obama's, taxes the poor and gives to the rich. If Obama wants to help people who have been hurt by the recession, than it is not clear to me how this will do it. This seems more like borrowing money to buy votes.

Still Not Crazy

Again I have had one of those "Thank goodness someone else remembers this. It means I haven't lost my mind" moments. Gateway pundit has a post with a clip of Madeleine Albright admitting the harm caused by sanctions against Iraq prior to the second war.
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

For some time now, I have felt that I was the only person who remembers the position of the Left prior to the second war:

It was that sanctions on Iraq should be lifted.

When it looked like war was imminent, and after the war had begun, the Left's position suddenly changed to "we should have let the sanctions work." But the fact is that before the war, they wanted those sanctions lifted. There were student protests for the lifting of sanctions. There were billboards up around town telling us that we had killed 500,000+ children with the sanctions, and so our actions were nothing short of criminal.

I'm not posting this to debate the sanctions issue. I just think it is bizarre how that whole phase of the previous debate over our Iraq policy has been washed down the memory hole.

Most under-reported story of the day

This is my nomination for the most underreported story of the day:
Christian Science Monitor

The USS New York?

Many New Yorkers profess ignorance. Is it a cruise ship? What do we need it for? Will it be a target?

Those are just some of the questions a handful of New Yorkers asked about the Navy warship which was launched Tuesday at Northrup Grumman's shipyard in Avondale, La.

The amphibious assault vessel was built with 7.5 tons of steel salvaged from the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. The ship, which can carry up to 800 Marines, is on its way to New York where it will be formally commissioned in early November.

While holding a door at a New York apartment building, doorman Christopher Elter admitted he had not heard of the ship.
A Google search lists USA Today and the CSM reporting the story, then moves out of the country for the Guardian, AFP and Canada's National Post. The AP had a story, and some papers ran it, but for the most part, it went unmentioned.

I read about it in the Daily Telegraph from the UK.

Save Halloween

A little Halloween common sense from Leonore Skenazy's book and blog "Free Range Kids":
Was there ever really a rash of candy killings? Joel Best, a professor of sociology and criminal justice at the University of Delaware, took it upon himself to find out. He studied crime reports from Halloween dating back as far as 1958, and guess exactly how many kids he found poisoned by a stranger’s candy?

A hundred and five? A dozen? Well, one, at least?

“The bottom line is that I cannot find any evidence that any child has ever been killed or seriously hurt by a contaminated treat picked up in the course of trick-or-treating,” says the professor. The fear is completely unfounded.

Now, one time, in 1974, a Texas dad did kill his own son with a poisoned Pixie Stix. “He had taken out an insurance policy on his son’s life shortly before Halloween, and I think he probably did this on the theory that there were so many poison candy deaths, no one would ever suspect him,” says Best. “In fact, he was very quickly tried and put to death long ago.” That’s Texas for you.

A little perspective

From an article on Pajamas Media, written by Soeren Kern, here's some European reaction to the US health care debate:
[A]nother Independent article titled “Republicans, religion and the triumph of unreason” says: “Here’s what’s actually happening. The U.S. is the only major industrialized country that does not provide regular health care to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves — and 50 million people can’t afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 U.S. citizens die every year needlessly, because they can’t access the care they require. That’s equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year.”
Shall we put those numbers in a little perspective?

(First of all, my guess is that they are playing fast and loose with the word "citizen", considering a large number of the uninsured are illegal aliens.)

In a nation of 300 million people, that amounts to 6 of 100,000 people.

In 2003, a heat wave struck Europe. It resulted in more than 37,000 deaths across a comparable population--meaning more than 12 in every 100,000 people died. US heat-wave mortality for the years 1999-2003 was 3,442, for an annual average of 688.

The UK had 2,139 deaths due to the heat-wave. In a population of about 60 million, that's every 3.5 out of 100,000 people died.

In 2007 hospital-acquired c-diff infections in the UK claimed the lives of 8,324, or more than 13 of every 100,000 people. (The numbers fell by 29% in 2008.)

This last statistic I have is rather shocking. Looking at cancer deaths in the US, we had 559,303 in 2005, for an death rate of 186 per 100,000. In the UK in 2007, they had 155,484 cancer deaths, for a death rate of 259 per 100,000. A death rate nearly 40% higher than in the US. That means an excess of 43,800 Britons are dying each year due to sub-standard health care.

So, where exactly is there a triumph of unreason, and whose religion is clouding their judgement?

Kids today

I took my niece to the bookstore on Saturday. As we were heading up the elevator, she started talking about Amelia Earhart. She went into this story of how she and her siblings built a makeshift roller coaster in their yard, and how the other kids were too chicken to ride it, but Amelia jumped right on.

I made a comment that it was amazing how much she knew about minor people in history, and how little she knew about major people in history. You learn about Earhart, I said, because she was a minority, but you don't learn about the founding fathers or American history.

You're right, she said, we don't learn about that stuff.

At school, she's a 4th grader. For the second year in a row their social studies curriculum centers on California history with an emphasis on Native Americans. They don't learn about the Spanish Conquest, Puritans yearning for religious freedom, the Stamp Act, or the Revolution or Constitution. None of the major movements of history.

I've purchased the "Liberty's Kids" series on disk, but I haven't had her watch them yet. I think it's time to start.

Steve Says: Well, I remember when you brought home a grade school textbook that had articles on several Great Americans, including Chief Dan George. Now, I happen to think that Chief Dan George was pretty great (especially in The Outlaw Josey Wales), but mom's opinion was different. Perhaps she didn't think he was at the same level as Washington, Lincoln, King, etc.

Ann says: I think that was my 5th grade textbook, which would have made it from 1978. Imagine how much worse it is 30 years later. The teachers and textbook writers have all grown up in this climate. They've never learned this kind of thing either. It's being completely lost, and is yet another thing you have to teach your kids at home.

Weekend Retreat

My lovely wife had a conference to attend at Fall Creek Falls State Park. Our toddler and I went along as well, just to get away. It's quite a nice park. They have a large number of cabins and campsites that would be fun to stay in some time. Perhaps when our kid is a bit older. The weather this weekend was a little rainy, but this afternoon it turned very nice, and we were able to get to see some of the park. It was beautiful, with fall colors showing, though perhaps a bit before their peak.

Cleveland Show

I'm watching The Cleveland Show for the first time now. So far, not bad, and not nearly as offensive as Family Guy. It's not really clicking, but it's probably too early to decide if the show is going to be any good or not. However, they did play "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz in one scene. So I did have the satisfaction of identifying a rather obscure 80s song. I'll watch the show again.

Hey what do you know. Nu Shooz is still around, sort of. I only know that one song of theirs.

How's that for a redesign!

Yes, this is Saltzafrazz, but I redesigned it. I found a free template website (Blogger Templates) and liked this one. Lots of them there were very girly, obviously, this one is not.

I hope you like it!

We've been waiting for this

This is what we have been working on at work for the last couple of weeks:

The LA Times has since put up their main article. Of course, they also had to mention the heparin incident as well.

Update (Saturday): The Independent newspaper in Britain has it on their front page: "Brain scans disaster at celebrity hospital". They really play up the celebrity hospital thing, even mentioning Heidi Klum's baby was just born there.

We've been waiting for this story to break. Kinda/sorta hoping it wouldn't, even though we knew it would.

Luckily, I haven't had to do much on this problem. My sis wasn't as lucky, and neither were my co-workers. Rumor has it that the NYTimes will have the story in the next couple of days as well.

Here's Cedars' official press release. Unfortunately, it's a Word document.

The 2010 Nobel

My prediction for next year...
..."It is with tremendous pride and pleasure that the Nobel Peace Prize committee hereby awards the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to the two hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine people in the United States of America who are not George Walker Bush or the horse he rode in on."


Is the Nobel peace prize committee capable of not being a laughing stock?

Obama just won for "bringing hope." He's the first guy to win the prize because of a (bad) campaign slogan.

I think I'll wear my NOPE t-shirt today. (That's not quite the shirt I have. I picked up mine at the D.C. airport.)

Times of London: Headline: absurd decision on Obama makes a mockery of the Nobel peace prize.

"Instead, the prize risks looking preposterous in its claims, patronising in its intentions and demeaning in its attempt to build up a man who has barely begun his period in office, let alone achieved any tangible outcome for peace. "


Yesterday in the lovely city of Detroit:
Detroit [Detroit Free Press] -- A throng pushing to get into Cobo Center today to get applications for federal help on rent and utility bills has turned chaotic, resulting in at least five injuries.

[...]The city received nearly $15.2 million in federal dollars under the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, which is for temporary financial assistance and housing services to individuals and families who are homeless, or who would be homeless without this help.
I'm confused. How can anyone have trouble paying rent or with homelessness, when you can buy a house in Detroit for $20?

And there are hundreds listed on Coldwell Banker for under $5,000? Which means it would take a little over 4 months for a person working minimum wage 40 hours a week to be able to buy a house in Detroit.

Scene from a Movie?

If this were a scene from a movie, you would call it hackneyed and contrived:
DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (AP) -- A wanted felon wanted to get lost in a corn maze, but Jefferson County authorities had other ideas. [...] Authorities were not to be deterred by the labyrinth of corn stalks. [...] Although it did take officers -- and their dogs -- two hours to find the couple.

They say life is stranger than fiction.

Obama's China Policy

Good grief:
The U.S. decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China that also includes soft-pedaling criticism of China's human rights and financial policies as well as backing efforts to elevate China's position in international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund. Obama administration officials have termed the new policy "strategic reassurance," which entails the U.S. government taking steps to convince China that it is not out to contain the emerging Asian power.

Previous administrations' appeasements of China were bad enough. I referred to it before as "never miss a chance to kiss China's butt." Is this administration out to set a whole new standard? It's disturbing.


I believe I have now killed 3 male black widow spiders in the last 3 weeks, and one definite female black widow (lurking in the folds of our grill cover). Then there is the brown widow spider that I also killed today (more-potent venom than the black, but they inject less of it--yay! Click on the link, though to see the egg sacks of the brown widow. They are quite cool. The one I killed today had made 4-5 of them.)

Apparently, this is a banner year for the evil little critters. I brought both of our kids as well as one of their friends out to see the dead lady black and her dessicated male, just so they would know what one looks like and to know what to do if they see one--back away, scream like hell, but keep an eye on it so we can find it and kill it. I actually lost track of one of the males when I went in to get a can of Raid. Very fun to try to intentionally go looking for a widow spider! Along the way I found a second one near the first.

Yuck! Now we're all creeped out...and we figure there are a whole bunch of them in our basement. Bwahahaha!!!

In Defense of Jimmy Carter

I have to side with Jimmy Carter over the recent comment he had about the role of racism in the criticism of President Obama. Again, the right of the blogosphere has been all over this. Here is Carter's original comment, starting at about 43 seconds in
I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man

This was interpreted by critics of Carter as a statement that the majority of opposition to President Obama is based on racism.

That is not how I interpreted his statement when it first broke into the news. Here is what I thought he meant. There is a lot of opposition to President Obama. Out of all of that opposition, some of it may be characterized as "intensely demonstrated animosity." Carter is saying that within that subset of "intensely demonstrated animosity," an overwhelming portion is based on racism. This is very different from saying a majority of opposition to Obama is based on racism. Indeed, I don't think you can characterize a significant portion of the opposition to Obama as "intensely demonstrated animosity."

I don't doubt that some portion of the "intensely demonstrated animosity" is based on racism. I am not sure if I would say "a majority." Certainly some people have a strong animosity to members of opposite political parties, regardless of race.

Carter has since addressed the criticism, clarifying his position:

This of course resulted in more blog attacks, with writers saying that Carter was changing his story. Sorry, but I have to side with Carter on this one. His clarification just makes it clear to me that my initial interpretation of his original statement was correct.

It doesn't give me any pleasure to agree with Carter, but I think if you are going to have a blog, you should try to be up front and honest.

In Defense of Whoopi

You've probably seen the numerous posts on the right-wing of the blogosphere expressing outrage over Whoopi Goldberg's comments about the Polanski affair. In particular, her alleged offense is to excuse Polanksi in some way because what he did was not "rape-rape." However, as the following clip clearly shows, the point of her statement was not to excuse Polanski, but to make clear that the specific legal charge to which he plead guilty was not rape.

Whoopi is right. Polanski was initially charged with the specific crime of rape [California Penal Code Section 261], but this charge was dropped in return for Polanski pleading guilty to the crime of "unlawful sexual intercourse," [California Penal Code Section 261.5]:

Unlawful sexual intercourse is an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a person who is not the spouse of the perpetrator, if the person is a minor. For the purposes of this section, a "minor" is a person under the age of 18 years and an "adult" is a person who is at least 18 years of age.

I'm not a fan of Whoopi, especially as she appears on the View. And I'd certainly like to see Polanski pay for his crimes with real jail time. However, the outrage from the right-wing blogosphere over Whoopi's statement is unfair, if not disingenuous. I think Whoopi's attempt at assessing the case rationally should be applauded, not discouraged. This does not mean I agree with her about what should be the final outcome of the case, it simply means that I think we should be able to have a frank and reasoned discussion about it.

Ireland Signs On

This seems to be under-reported:
In a dramatic political U-turn, Ireland has voted decisively in favour of the Lisbon treaty just 17 months after rejecting the European Union's package of reforms.

Two thirds of the Irish electorate backed the treaty – a result that EU president José Manuel Barroso described as a "great day for Europe and a great day for Ireland".

Dramatic indeed. Reportedly, around 64% of the electorate voted in support. Poland is said to be following soon. The Czech Republic will then be the lone holdout, according to wikipedia:
Both houses of the Czech parliament have ratified the treaty, in February[107] and May[108] 2009, respectively. It now awaits the signature of the Czech President, Václav Klaus. He opposes ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, has called for the process to be brought to an end.[109] and has stated that he was in "no hurry" to ratify the document.

I'm not sure what to make of the treaty. I wonder what the average Irishman thinks he's going to get out of it. Ireland was the the only country to put this to a popular vote.

Mr. Motl has a strong opinion though.

Ann says: It is seriously underreported here in the US. I chanced across something about the referendum earlier this week and had to go hunting for the results today.

It's so disappointing. I would have voted 'no' for no other reason than the fact that Europe never takes 'no' for an answer. Ireland voted 'no' a couple of years ago. That should have been enough. But with the EU, you don't have a final answer until you have voted 'yes.'

I also would have thought that the idea of President Blair would have been enough for Ireland to balk.

Employment analysis

In the Clinton-Bush recession we have household employment peaking in January, 2001 before dropping to a low in January, 2002. Employment started at 135,999 and dropped 1.9% to 133,468--2.5 million lost jobs.

Similarly, the employers' survey reported a high in May, 2001 and a low in August, 2003 - lasting substantially longer than the household survey: 13 months versus 27 months. The employment survey dropped 2.0% from a high of 132,453 to a low of 129,761--2.7 million lost jobs.

It then took an additional 17 months to recover back to it's original level--44 months overall. (It's hard to calculate the recovery of the household data, because of a major change to the methodology of the survey.

The current recession puts that one to shame.

High Household: Nov, 2007     146,703
Current Household:Sept, 2009     138,864
Difference:-5.3%-7.839 mil
High Establishment: Oct, 2007138,362
Current Establishment: Sep, 2009130,947
Difference: -5.4%-7,415 mil

Job losses in the two recessions: 2% vs 5.3%
Time to valley of employment (household): 13 months vs 23 months and counting.
Time to valley of employment (establishment): 27 months vs 24 months and counting.

Story of the Day

Story of the day comes from India: "Brave Jammu girl takes on six terrorists, kills one"

Young Ruksana Kausar proudly shows off the AK-47 which saved her from six terrorists who attacked her.

The brave girl snatched the assault rifle from one of the terrorists, shot one to death, injured another and send the others running for their lives.

That's right. Don't mess with an Indian girl's family!


Here's the latest graph of employment. It has dropped 5.2 million since Obama was elected, and 3.2 since he took office.