Monday, June 30, 2008

Here's an armed robbery story with a happy ending. Well, okay, a happy ending would be one in which the armed robber changes his mind, orders a slice of pizza, pays for it, and leaves. But since that didn't happen, this seems to be as good as we could hope for:
"He pointed the gun on me," remembers Abbondante, walking through what happened in his restaurant, "he told me to open the safe." Abbondante was trapped in his office, a small room at the back of the restaurant. There was no cash inside the safe.

But that's where Nando keeps his handgun.

"When I opened the safe, I didn't have a choice because he would see the gun and shoot me or somebody else," says Abbondante. "I just took the gun, turned around, and shot the guy."

Police showed up in minutes, but the man was already dead.
Well, I guess that thug won't be holding up any more pizza joints. Mr. Abbondante summed the situation up nicely: "Sometimes the owner gets killed. Sometimes the bad guy gets killed. This time the bad guy gets killed."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Victor Davis Hanson on the paralysis of analysis:
In our present comfort, Americans don’t seem to understand nature. We believe that our climate-controlled homes, comfortable offices, and easy air and car travel are just like grass or trees; apparently they should sprout up on their own for our benefit.

Americans also harp about the faults of prior generations. We would never make their blunders — even as we don’t seem to mind using the power plants, bridges, and buildings that they handed down to us.

Finally, high technology and the good life have turned us into utopians, fussy perfectionists who demand heaven on earth. Anytime a sound proposal seems short of perfect, we consider it not good, rather than good enough.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

This isn't real, but it sure is a nifty little piece of video making:

Great Moments in Law Enforcement

So much for adults taking responsibility for their own safety. Don't think about even think about wading without supervision by a government safety officer:
A 43-year-old married father of three, DiCiervo said his ordeal began June 8 as the city was being cooked by an unexpected heat wave.

DiCiervo, who lives a block from the water, said he and his family hit the beach seeking relief - like so many other neighborhood residents.
The fact that there were no lifeguards did not surprise anybody because it's a chronic problem, DiCiervo and several other residents said.

DiCiervo said he dipped his toes in the water - and quickly found himself neck-deep in trouble when two Parks Department employees rolled up and told him to get out of the ocean. He admits what he did next wasn't exactly wise.

"I just waved them off," he said. "I didn't have ID in my pocket - I was wearing a bathing suit and live a block from the beach - so they arrested me."

DiCiervo said he was given two summonses - one for ignoring the signs and one for ignoring the officers' command - cuffed and put in the back of a Parks Department truck. He was taken to the local precinct stationhouse and put in a holding cell until his family arrived with his driver's license.
I have long said that the lone thread connecting the democrat party coalition of liberal special interest groups is the desire to control some aspect of other people's lives. That's the magic of "climate change." By making carbon dioxide a pollutant, the left has created the unifying issue by which they can control every aspect of human existence. And if you don't believe the Democrats are control freaks, look at how they are running their upcoming convention:

  • 15,000 fanny packs must be made from organic cotton by union labor. Never mind that such a thing doesn't exist.
  • Baseball caps: same problem as the fanny packs.
  • Allegedly biodegradable balloons have been buried in compost. I suppose they don't trust the manufacturer.
  • 900 volunteers will be charged with directing trash to the correct container.
  • More volunteers will search the trash for inappropriately placed refuse. I suppose they don't trust the 900 volunteers.
  • No fried food is permitted.
  • Each meal shall include three of the following five colors: red, green, yellow, blue, and white.
  • Garnishes may not be used to satisfy to above color mandate.
  • 70% of ingredients must be organic and/or locally produced.

    In an ironic twist, Coors brewing company will be donating biofuel made from beer waste. And that pisses off some Democrats, because Coors isn't a sufficiently left-wing company. Never let a good deed come between a liberal and good dose of hate:
    No matter, grumbles Anna Flynn, a longtime union member from Denver who objected to the donation. "Any way you put it, it's still Coors," she says.
    Now there's a well-considered, thoughtful argument.

    Now, the Democrat Convention is a private organization's event, and they have every right to operate it in any way they see fit. The problem is, the purpose of the Democrat Party is to accumulate enough power to compel us all into such lunacy.

    Update: Here's evidence of the use of climate change as an excuse to mandate human activity:
    First it was a proposed ban on plastic bags.

    Now, a member of the influential Madison Plan Commission wants to ban the restaurant drive-through -- or at least restrict the ubiquitous symbol of America's auto-centric lifestyle.

    "Given the concern about all the carbon going into the atmosphere, I'm not sure we should be building more places for people to sit idling in their cars," says Eric Sundquist, who was appointed to the citizen panel by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz this spring.

    A former newspaper reporter in Atlanta now working as a researcher at the UW-Madison's Center on Wisconsin Strategy, Sundquist notes that several cities in Canada have recently moved to ban the drive-through coffee shop or stand-alone fast food restaurant (
    That's right, we have a former newspaper reporter that wants to tell restaurants how to operate their businesses and diners how to obtain their food. A commenter notes that there is a lot more idling going on at stop lights, but no politician seems interested in eliminating them. Good point!
  • Tuesday, June 24, 2008

    Life at Our House

    This is the gauntlet one must navigate between the kitchen and the living room:

    From my local newspaper's website:

    Virginia Senate committee kills offshore drilling proposal
    A bill proposed by Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach, and a second measure were combined by the committee and defeated in an 8-5 party line vote. Republicans supported it and Democrats opposed.

    Some Democrats and environmental activists said they had concerns about the impact of the proposed drilling on marine life. Wagner disagreed.

    “If it’s a hazard as some would suggest, they forgot to tell the fish,” Wagner said, arguing that other drilling operations have not harmed aquatic life.

    Meanwhile, Virginia Natural Gas bills to leap 35 percent as gas costs rise

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Random Thoughts

  • North Korean Communist Dictator and overall weird little troll Kim Jong Il has endorsed Barack Obama.

  • We are now expected to accept that 17 pregnant sixteen-year-olds at the same time in a town of 30,000 is mere coincidence. Even if it is a coincidence and not a pregnancy pact, what are we to believe about the predictable results of a high school with free daycare for student-mommies? Is way more student-mommies such a stretch of the imagination?

  • We have fires burning not far from here in the Great Dismal Swamp. These are peat fires, and they burn underground, smoldering nasty smoke into the air. It wafts across the whole region, smelling as if one had soaked wood in water before setting it ablaze. And this goes on 24-7. Pleh.

  • Don Imus is claiming to be misunderstood. My first wife Suzy said that claiming to be misunderstood was a way to shift your own weaknesses to others. The proper perspective, in her mind (and now in mine), is that if you are misunderstood, it is not the listener's fault for misunderstanding, but your own fault for poor communication skills. "Nobody understands me" never flew in Suzy's house, no matter the circumstance.

    You have no right to be understood, rather you have an obligation to make yourself understandable.
  • First the British banned the guns. That didn't work out as well as they hoped, so they came after the knives. Still not good enough. It's time to for some "hat control:"
    Pubs in Yorkshire have been ordered to ban people from wearing flat caps or other hats so troublemakers can be more easily recognised.
    The Park Hotel in Wadsley, Sheffield, is the latest to be asked to impose the rule by senior police officers.
    Mark Kelly, the landlord said: "Police asked us to ensure that everyone removes headgear.
    There's a series of interesting reads over at the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page:

    Mary Anastasia O'Grady thinks the Democrats platform of "change" sounds similar to the programs destroyed Argentina.
    Americans reading that laundry list may note that it sounds a lot like the mindset of the left wing that will dominate the Democratic Party's convention and choose Barack Obama as its candidate in August. From nationalized health care and government-owned refineries to punishing taxes on the rich, Argentina has been there, done that. There are good reasons to find the resemblance disturbing.

    Fouad Ajami says don't take all the anti-Americanism you hear seriously:
    I grew up in the Arab world in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and anti-Americanism was the standard political language – even for those pining for American visas and green cards. Precious few took this seriously. The attraction to the glamorous, distant society was too strong in the Beirut of my boyhood.

    Kimberly Strassel says Bill Clinton and other centrist "New Democrats" are disappearing:
    When Mr. Clinton left, so did the most prominent New Democratic voice. Party liberals have been reasserting control ever since. Howard Dean's 2004 consolation prize was the Democratic National Committee. Nancy Pelosi became House Speaker in 2006, and gave back committee chairs to the old 1960s liberal bulls. And now comes Mr. Obama, the party's most liberal nominee since Hubert Humphrey.

    Joseph Rago reviews "The Happening" and it ain't pretty:
    It's appalling all right, not as entertainment but in the literal sense of genuine moral obscenity. Few major studio releases are so thoroughly pro-death, so deeply anti-human. We have arrived at a strange moment in American pop culture when movie-goers spend two hours in the theater being informed that we all deserve to die.

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Why I Refuse to Sacrifice

    Because the Prophet Gore is demanding I do so, I may just refuse to do so:
    In the year since Al Gore took steps to make his home more energy-efficient, the former Vice President’s home energy use surged more than 10%, according to the Tennessee Center for Policy Research.

    Since taking steps to make his home more environmentally-friendly last June, Gore devours an average of 17,768 kWh per month –1,638 kWh more energy per month than before the renovations – at a cost of $16,533. By comparison, the average American household consumes 11,040 kWh in an entire year, according to the Energy Information Administration.
    If this is Al Gore's response to climate change, why again am I supposed to live the life of an impoverished monk?

    Friday, June 13, 2008

    These are the same asshats telling the rest of us to reduce our so-called carbon footprint. How about Hollywood leads and I will follow, not vice versa.

    Thursday, June 12, 2008

    His Vote Counts the Same as Yours

    This is unbelievable.

    The question?
    "Should Congress quit funding for Public Television and NPR, Public Radio?"

    The answer?
    "Congress should continue paying for it because if they don't, the taxpayers will end up paying for it."

    Hat tip: Taxing Tennessee

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008

    When I was a boy . . .

    Here's an excerpt from an excellent essay by Dennis Prager:
    When I was boy, what people did at home was not their employer's business. Today, companies and city governments refuse to hire, and may fire, workers no matter how competent or healthy, who smoke in their homes. Sarasota, Fla., the latest city to invade people's private lives, would not hire Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy if they applied for a job.

    When I was a 7-year-old boy, I flew alone from New York to my aunt and uncle in Miami and did the same thing coming back to New York. I boarded the plane on my own and got off the plane on my own. No papers for my parents to fill out. No extra fee to pay the airline. I was responsible for myself. Had I run away or been kidnapped, no one would have sued the airline. Today, fear of lawsuits is a dominant fact of American life.

    When I was a boy, I ran after girls during recess, played dodgeball, climbed monkey bars and sat on seesaws. Today, more and more schools have no recess; have canceled dodgeball lest someone feel bad about being removed from the game; and call the police in to interrogate, even sometimes arrest, elementary school boys who playfully touch a girl. And monkey bars and seesaws are largely gone, for fear of lawsuits should a child be injured.

    When I was boy, I was surrounded by adult men. Today, most American boys (and girls, of course) come into contact with no adult man all day every school day. Their teachers and school principals are all likely to be women. And if, as is often the case, there is no father at home (not solely because of divorce but because "family" courts have allowed many divorced mothers to remove fathers from their children's lives), boys almost never come into contact with the most important group of people in a boy's life -- adult men. The contemporary absence of men in boys' lives is not only unprecedented in American history; it is probably unprecedented in recorded history.

    When I was a boy, we had in our lives adults who took pride in being adults. To distinguish them from our peers, we called these adults "Mr.," "Mrs." and "Miss," or by their titles, "Doctor," "Pastor," "Rabbi," "Father." It was good for us, and we liked it. Having adults proud of their adulthood, and not acting like they were still kids, gave us security (as well as something to look forward to in growing up). Today, kids are surrounded by peers twice, three, four times their age.

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    This letter was in today's local newspaper:
    I applaud Sen. Warner's efforts to create a cap and trade system to reduce greenhouse emissions.

    I believe this is a case of too little too late. Sen. Warner would get more immediate results if he proposed legislation that called for the elimination of motor vehicle racing.

    NASCAR and all other motor vehicle races serve absolutely no useful purpose. NASCAR is nothing but senseless, massive greenhouse gas emissions that are helping to destroy our climate. And let us not forget about all of the precious and very expensive gasoline that is wasted by race car drivers during the race and by driving to and from the various speedways.
    The hubris is almost startling. Auto racing is, for its fans, entertainment. Almost by definition, something engaged in for entertainment purposes serves no useful purpose, which brings this question: why is the author not similarly exercised about the climatic impact of the theater?

    Do you have any idea the energy demands of a modern theater, with its high powered lighting systems, audio pickups, house lights, and super-quiet heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems? Not to mention the energy consumed by the audience getting to and from the various theaters and sitting around coffee houses consuming lattes brewed with beans from unsustainable rain forests and harvested by people not earning a living wage? Is there not an equally compelling argument for banning theater, or football, or rock concerts, or any other activity engaged in for entertainment purposes? So why is the author worried specifically about NASCAR?

    I am guessing it is because he is not particularly interested in auto racing, nor particularly fond of its fans.

    Update: Link fixed. Thanks Rob! And you are correct, I would ask the free market to legislate such things, not legislators.

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    It's Sad...

    ...When your age exceeds the SPF of the sunblock you're putting on your nose and bald spot.

    Friday, June 06, 2008

    Final Exam

    From the University of Arkansas Engineering Department:

    1. Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a 10-pound possum.

    2. Which of these cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard? A '65 Ford Fairlane Wagon, a '72 Chevrolet El Camino, or a '66 Pontiac Tempest.

    3. If your uncle builds a still which operates at a capacity of 5 gallons of moonshine produced per hour, how many pickup truck radiators are required to condense the product on a 97 degree day?

    4. At a reduction in the gene pool variability rate of 7.5% per generation, how long will it take a town which has been bypassed by the Interstate to breed a country-western singer?

    5. If every old refrigerator in the state, kept out on the porch, vented a charge of R-12 simultaneously, what would be the percentage of the decrease in the ozone layer, and will R-12 freon damage the Craftsman tools stored inside it?

    6. A front porch is constructed of 2x8 pine on 24-inch centers with a field stone foundation. The span is 8 feet and the porch length is half the length of the single wide 38 ft. trailer. The porch floor is 1-inch rough sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many hound dogs will be killed?

    7. An Arkansas man owns a house on 3.7 acres of land in a holler with an average slope of 15%. The man has five children. Can each of his grown children place a mobile home on the man's land and still have enough property for their old washing machines to sit out in the front yard?

    8. A 2-ton truck is overloaded and proceeding 900 yards down a steep slope on a secondary road at 45 MPH. The brakes fail. Given average traffic conditions on secondary roads, what is the probability that it will strike a vehicle with a muffler?

    9. A coal mine operates in an NFPA Class 1, Division 2 Hazardous Area. The mine employs 120 miners per shift. How many cartons of unfiltered Camels will be smoked during each shift?

    10. A woodcutter has a chainsaw which operates at 2700 RPM. The density of the pine trees in the plot to be harvested is 450 trees per acre. The plot is 2.5 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many 6 Packs will he drink before the trees are cut down?

    Thursday, June 05, 2008

    Strange Names (North New Jersey's Got 'Em)

    Tuesday, June 03, 2008

    Some fascinating predictions by futurist Ray Kurzweil:

  • Within 10 years, there will be a drug that allows you to eat whatever you want and not gain weight.
  • Within 5 years, solar power will be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
  • Within 20 years, all our energy will be generated from clean sources.
  • Within 15 years, life expectancies will be rising faster than aging rates.

    Let's hope Kurzweil is correct on just one of those predictions.
  • Monday, June 02, 2008

    Back in the early 80s, while a student at Clemson University in South Carolina, I got into a musician named Steve Forbert, who had a hit with Romeo's Tune. In the intervening years I forgot about him, but recently heard that he has a new song: Strange Names (North New Jersey's Got 'Em):
    I'm from Piscataway, I'm going that-a-way,
    West on the Jersey map, out towards the Water Gap,
    Oh, h-ho ho,
    Oh, h-ho ho.
    I've seen Parsippany, northwest of Whippany,
    Mahwah to Hackensack, I've made the trip and back,
    Oh, h-ho ho,
    Oh, h-ho ho.

    Strange names, north New Jersey's got 'em,
    Them strange names towns,
    Strange names, north New Jersey's got 'em,
    Them strange names towns,
    Oh, h-ho ho.

    Hoboken's got me stressed, I'm going to motor west,
    Out Succasunna way, Netcong or Rockaway,
    Oh, h-ho ho.
    Oh, h-ho ho.

    North New Jersey's got strange names towns a lot,
    Your cool local spot may or it may have not,
    Your cool local spot may.

    I've seen Paramus, well, that's next to Oradell,
    Hohokus takes the cake, wait, that'd be Cheesequake!
    Oh, h-ho ho,
    Oh, h-ho Ho-ho-kus
    Strange names, North New Jersey's got 'em,
    them strange names towns,
    Oh, h-ho ho.

    North New Jersey's got strange names towns a lot,
    Your cool local spot may or it may have not,
    Your cool local spot . . .

    I'm from Piscataway, I'm going that-a-way
    Growing up, I didn't really think much about some of those names, but it's fun to see somebody notice and then write a song about them.