Sunday, November 30, 2008

Outside Magazine

What's wrong with this picture?

I was at Barnes and Noble tonight, sitting in a cushy chair, sipping a cup of peppermint tea, and reading a book I brought with me. There's just something about being in an environment where I'm surrounded by books. I'm drawn to it.

The cushy chair I was in faced the sports section of the magazine rack, and this was the cover of Outside magazine. Its subscription website says, "Outside Magazine is dedicated to covering the people, activities, gear, art, and politics of the world outside. You get tips, reviews, articles and more. Plus, get your 13-Tool pocketknife and the twice a year Buyer Guides."

The world outside? Do they not know that Michael Phelps is an Inside kind of guy?

Friday, November 28, 2008

AQ's Zawhiri Full of Advice

Townhall reported today on al Qaeda's recently released video.

Al-Qaida's No. 2 leader appeared in a new video posted Friday calling on Americans to embrace Islam to overcome the financial meltdown, which he said was a consequence of the Sept. 11 attacks and militant strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ayman al-Zawahri, whose 80-minute recording touched on a number of subjects, also lashed out at Afghanistan's government and said any U.S. gains in Iraq will be temporary.

I absolutely love the way these guys believe they're omnipotent. They attacked us on September 11, 2001, and our economy suffered as a result. Then it recovered and did well for a few years, but now that the subprime mess hit the fan and threw the economy into a tailspin, Zawahri thinks he can take the credit for that. Unbelievable!

Oh, and he says the "militant strikes in Iraq" also hurt our economy. That could be indirectly true, if you look at the cost of conducting a war. Of course, he's ignoring the news that al Qaeda all but lost in Iraq. And Michael Yon says we've about won there, though General Petraus disagrees.

Zawahri continued:

"The modern economy has been destroyed by the strikes of the mujahedeen (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and usury," he said, using the Arabic term for holy warriors.

Under Islamic Sharia law, usury, like drinking alcohol, is among the grand sins.

Just to clarify, the Arabic term for holy warriors is "mujahadeen" not "usury."

On the usury point, though, that's just a question of semantics. Janice at You Heard It Here... posted back in March about Islamic mortgages (the links to the equities company's info are now broken). They don't officially charge interest. Instead they have a little line item called, "profit," which is suspiciously the same amount as what the interest would be if it were a non-Islamic mortgage. So they profit off each other without calling it interest, and then it's not the sin of usury. And because we infidels in the West call it "interest," that's the reason our economy is on the skids. Oh yeah, Zawahri sure nailed us on that one!

After that, Zawahri devolved into saying bad things about President Bush, President-Elect Barack Obama, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and the government of Egypt.

I hope don't care if he'll forgive me for not giving his diatribe the consideration he thinks it deserves.

Why I Don't Shop on Black Friday

Photo credit: Augustine for News

The New York Daily News reported today on a deadly stampede at Wal-Mart.

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old employee, a temporary maintenance worker, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

"He was bum-rushed by 200 people," said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. "They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too...I literally had to fight people off my back."

The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.

Shopping, even if it means getting a great deal, just isn't worth the risk.

Church Attacked in Germany

Der Spiegel reported today that a Frankfurt church was invaded yesterday.

Over the last several months, turmoil in the international economy has made Frankfurt on the Main, Europe's financial capital, a pretty scary place to live. Still, the city's Martinus Evangelical Church got a special shock on Thursday as a rampaging wild boar burst through a glass porch door and terrorized a group of 10 mothers eating breakfast with their young children.

Photo credit: DPA

The mothers, who dine regularly in the church as part of a "mini-club," were seated with their offspring, ages one to three, at small, appropriately-sized children's tables. At about 11 a.m., police reports indicate that a feral beast leapt into the room through a glass door, shattering its pane into hundreds of pieces. The boar then dashed frantically around the room before exiting through the very same portal from which it had made its violent entrance.

The mothers and children took cover by getting up on top of the tables and chairs, and although no one was hurt, all were visibly rattled when the police arrived later. According to the police report, the parish is providing "psychological support" for all those who need it.

Victims of the attack told police that the boar, suspected to be female, sustained injuries from crashing through the glass. After briefly running around the room, the wild sow ran back toward the cemetery, suggesting that she may have been just as frightened by the encounter as were the shaken members of the breakfast club.

If so, the boar was right to be concerned. Just minutes after the church-rampage, the driver of a police vehicle phoned headquarters to report that he had run over a wild sow on the near-by Schwanheimer bridge. The sow did not survive the collision, and the police believe it to be likely that the Jane Doe who perished in this second incident is in fact the self-same boar.

No doubt the boar was protesting for more gay rights in Germany.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo source: The Cat's Meow

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
---- Psalm 118:1

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Animal News

Photo credit: AP / Mike Parwana

The AP reported Friday about a surprising repair.

A monarch butterfly has a chance at completing its species' famed migration to central Mexico, thanks to some tiny cardboard splints, a bit of contact cement and a trucker from Alabama.

About three weeks ago, Jeannette Brandt was out for a bike ride in rural Hadley when she spied the injured butterfly and took it home in her emptied water bottle.

She and her partner, Mike Parwana, fed it rotting pears and water mixed with honey from bees they keep. The butterfly fattened but the question remained: What about the broken wing?

A search of the Internet turned up a nine-minute video demonstration posted by the Live Monarch Foundation, a nonprofit group from Boca Raton, Fla., on how to fix a broken butterfly wing. A little contact cement on the wing, some tiny cardboard splints, and the bruised butterfly was back in business.

"It was still weak. It was another week or so before it would fly," Parwana told the Post-Star newspaper of Glens Falls.

On Sunday, the couple took the healed monarch in a shoebox to Scotty's, a popular and busy truck stop about 55 kilometres north of Albany. Anybody looking for company on the trip south?

Eventually, a trucker from Alabama, on his way to Florida, raised his hand.

On Tuesday, the trucker called: The butterfly was loose in Florida with its mended wing.

Great news for the butterfly.

Now here's a chance for people who want to help the animal kingdom themselves. The Daily Mail (UK) reported today that British scientists are calling for volunteers to help with a census.

They might be slimy, slithery and wriggly - but according to Darwin, worms are one of the most important creatures on earth.

And with their habitats increasingly under threat, volunteers are being asked to help with an earthworm 'census'.

The £500,000 project will see amateur scientists pouring mustard - a mild irritant to worms - on their flowerbeds. They can then identify any disgruntled (but otherwise unharmed) specimens which surface.

The collated results will be used to shed light on one of Britain's most common, but also most poorly understood, creatures.

Organisers also hope to identify rare species which could be on the brink of extinction.

Oh, won't you help? If you can't help now, maybe you can help later.

A future Opal project will ask volunteers to look out for tar spot fungus on tree leaves and lichen to help monitor air pollution.

Mapping Genomes

The mapping of the human genome is old news by now. So what do genome mappers do when the project ends?

They map animals.

The AP reported May 8, 2008, that scientists have mapped the genome of the duck-billed platypus.

Scientists said they have mapped the genetic makeup of the platypus -- one of nature's strangest animals with a bill like a duck's, a mammal's fur and snake-like venom.

The research showed the animal's multifaceted features are reflected in its DNA with a mix of genes that crosses different classifications of animals, said Jenny Graves, an Australian National University genomics expert who co-wrote the paper.

"What we found was the genome, just like the animal, is an amazing amalgam of reptilian and mammal characteristics with quite a few unique platypus characteristics as well," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

More than 100 scientists from the United States, Australia, Japan and other nations took part in the research, using DNA collected from a female platypus named Glennie.

Their work adds to the growing list of animals whose genetic makeup has been unraveled.

Pretty impressive stuff.

I've always had a soft spot for the platypus (until I learned about the snake venom in the males), because they look so randomly glued together and because their name just sounds humorous. It's good to know they're as random on the inside as they are on the outside.

OK, so mapping the platypus is interesting, and it could be helpful, but the Canadian Press reported November 19, 2008, that scientists have mapped the wooly mammoth.

Scientists have sequenced much of the genome of the woolly mammoth, raising the tantalizing but remote possibility that one day the long-extinct mammal could be resurrected to again trudge through the Arctic snow.

The researchers at Penn State University extracted DNA from mammoth hair found frozen in the permafrost of Siberia, where the massive beasts once roamed up until about 10,000 years ago, before their species disappeared for good.

The ground-breaking work, published in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, is the first time an extinct animal's genome has been decoded, and the first time DNA from an extinct animal was obtained solely from its hair.

The scientists have been able to sequence about 80 per cent of the behemoth's genome, comparing short snippets of DNA taken from the hair of 18 different animals entombed beneath the Siberian ice.

The research raises the notion that the ice age's woolly mammoth could be brought back to life, much as dinosaurs were resurrected in the film "Jurassic Park."

Theoretically, science could evolve to the point that researchers could one day put together genetic material that would approach the ancient creature's blueprint for life, using the yet-to-be sequenced genome of the modern elephant, the mammoth's closest biological relative.

One word: Why?

They've mapped the mammoth, but they haven't bothered with the elephant?

And they're actually talking about bringing back the mammoth. Where would they put these resurrected creatures? In the Arctic? Where global warming is supposedly melting their habitat and killing off the polar bear?

Would the scientists be upset if polar bears hunted down the presumably expensive mammoths and ate them for dinner?

It brings to mind a quote from Jurassic Park, when Dr. Ian Malcom (Jeff Goldblum) said, "Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."


More Cool Space Stuff

The Daily Mail (UK) reported today on the recent International Space Station repairs. The thing I find interesting is that the AP, AFP, and Reuters have copyright designations on the photos. Did they have photographers up there with the astronauts, taking those pictures? I'm presuming the photos came from NASA or another organization in charge of the ISS.

Captured against the stunning backdrop of infinite space, an astronaut floats precariously 225 miles above Earth as he tinkers with a greasy gummed-up joint.

On the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station, the mission specialist's every weightless movement is caught on camera as he carries out all-important repair works during one of four spacewalks.

NASA has been closely following the crew with a video camera ever since the Endeavour space shuttle lit up the night sky over Florida with a mighty roar.

The seven astronauts were launched beyond Earth on a mission penned as 'Extreme Home Improvements'. They were scheduled to complete a 12-day service of the International Space Centre's degraded joints and install a new water recycling system, kitchen fridge and gym equipment.

Coverage has been so intimate that even astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper could not escape the prying lens when she dropped her tool bag into space.

Endeavour is due back at the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Sunday after 16 days in orbit.

NASA plans eight more flights to the station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations, before the shuttles are retired in 2010.

Nasa and Russia have been building the space station since 1998. Europe, Canada and Japan are also project participants.

There's more info in the article, and many more stunning photos.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Toxic Hazards to Pets

CNN reported today on pet dangers. They geared it for the holidays, but most of them are dangers all year long.

"Dogs and cats do not know what is bad for them," said Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, associate professor and veterinary clinical toxicologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "If there is medicine on the bathroom counter or food left on the table, that is irresistible to them."

And unless your houseguests are conscientious pet owners themselves, chances are they aren't aware that they may be creating a toxic environment for your pet. Gaskill says it is important to let guests know not to leave their medications in an open suitcase or otherwise exposed.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can kill small animals.

Because metabolic systems vary between species, a drug that may alleviate pain in humans can easily induce a toxic reaction in a dog or cat. For example, ibuprofen ingested by a dog can cause gastrointestinal damage and kidney dysfunction. Cats are especially susceptible to even small amounts of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol); ingestion of just one tablet can result in anemia and potential liver damage.

"Dogs will eat almost anything," [Dr. Robin] Van Metre[, a veterinarian at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Colorado,] said, "and there is no such thing as a dog-proof cap."

Here are more things that can hurt your pet (emphasis added):

Typical holiday staples such as grapes and raisins have been shown to cause renal failure when ingested by dogs.

Although small amounts of onions and garlic are often used in pet foods and treats to add flavor, ingestion of large amounts can cause severe red blood cell damage; cats are especially sensitive.

Macadamia nuts can cause a short-term hind-limb paralysis, and bread dough, if eaten before baking, can expand rapidly once ingested and cause ethanol poisoning.

Chocolate contains a theobromine, a chemical that can affect the heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate contain higher concentrations of theobromine and are more toxic than similar amounts of milk chocolate.

Sugar-free gums and candies that contain the sugar-substitute xylitol can lead to quick onset of toxic clinical signs that may include a rapid decrease in blood sugar and possible seizures.

On the plant side of things, there's more danger with a little bit of good news thrown in:

Think carefully before placing mistletoe or holly in low-lying areas, but put poinsettias anywhere you like. The effects of the poinsettia, long believed poisonous, are generally benign, says Dr. Anthony Knight, author of A Guide to Poisonous House and Garden Plants and professor of clinical sciences and toxicology at Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences.

Exposed plant bulbs such as Amaryllis and all species of lilies should be placed out of reach of pets not only during the holidays but year-round, Knight says.

Lily toxicity in cats can reach critical levels almost immediately after ingestion and lead to acute kidney failure within 48 hours or less.

"Lilies are one of the most poisonous houseplants that exists," Knight said. "It's not just the flower but also the leaves. ... If a cat eats any part of the plant, it would need to be treated immediately."

There you have it. If your dog eats like a dog with the wrong things, or your cat nibbles on dangerous decor, call the vet right away! Don't wait.

Orbiting Toolbag and Other Space Happenings

Photo source: NASA

Spaceweather reported today on an errant object in the sky.

When Endeavour astronaut Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper dropped her toolbag during a spacewalk on Nov. 18th and it floated away, mission controllers probably thought they'd seen the last of it. Think again. Amateur astronomers have been monitoring the backpack-sized toolbag as it circles Earth not very far from the International Space Station.

After sunset on Nov. 22nd, Edward Light saw the bag using 10x50 binoculars as it sailed over his backyard in Lakewood, New Jersey. "It was quite a favorable 70-deg pass in clear skies," he says. "The visual magnitude of the bag was about +6.4 plus or minus half a magnitude." On the same night, Keven Fetter of Brockville, Ontario, video-recorded the bag zipping past the 4th-magnitude star eta Pisces:
900 kB movie. "It was easily 8th magnitude or brighter," says Fetter.

This week the toolbag is making a series of passes over Europe; late next week it will return to the evening skies of North America. Using binoculars, look for it flying a few minutes ahead of the ISS. Spaceweather's satellite tracker is monitoring both the space station and the tool bag; click
here for predictions.

If you click on that last link, it will ask for your zipcode then show you the upcoming satellite flyovers you'll be able to see. Sadly, the toolbag isn't scheduled to fly over my house in the next week.

But the toolbag isn't the only interesting thing in the sky these days. There are planets out there, and they're about to put on a show.

NASA Science News reported yesterday that Venus and Jupiter are closing in on each other, culminating in a lovely conjunction with the crescent moon on December 1st.

This story ends with the best sky show of the year--a spectacular three-way conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon.

It begins tonight with a sunset stroll.

At the end of the day, when the horizon is turning red and the zenith is cobalt-blue, step outside and look southwest. You'll see Venus and Jupiter beaming side-by-side through the twilight. Glittering Venus is absolutely brilliant and Jupiter is nearly as bright as Venus. Together, they're dynamite[.]

Add another stick of TNT and voila!—it's tomorrow. Go outside at the same time and look again. You’ll be amazed at how much the Venus-Jupiter gap has closed. The two planets are converging, not in the slow motion typical of heavenly phenomena, but in a headlong rush—almost a full degree (two full Moon widths) per night. As the gap shrinks, the beauty increases.

On Nov. 29th (sky map) the two planets will be less than 3 degrees apart and you'll think to yourself "surely it can't get any better than this."

And then it will. On Nov. 30th (sky map) a slender 10% crescent Moon leaps up from the horizon to join the show. The delicate crescent hovering just below Venus-Jupiter will have cameras clicking around the world.

Dec. 1st (sky map) is the best night of all. The now-15% crescent Moon moves in closer to form an isosceles triangle with Venus and Jupiter as opposing vertices. The three brightest objects in the night sky will be gathered so tightly together, you can hide them all behind your thumb held at arm's length.

The celestial triangle will be visible from all parts of the world, even from light-polluted cities. People in New York and Hong Kong will see it just as clearly as astronomers watching from remote mountaintops. Only cloudy weather or a midnight sun (sorry Antarctica!) can spoil the show.

Although you can see the triangle with naked eyes--indeed, you can't miss it—a small telescope will make the evening even more enjoyable. In one quick triangular sweep, you can see the moons and cloud-belts of Jupiter, the gibbous phase of Venus (69% full), and craters and mountains on the Moon. It's a Grand Tour you won't soon forget.

Finally, look up from the eyepiece and run your eyes across the Moon. Do you see a ghostly image of the full Moon inside the bright horns of the crescent? That's called "Earthshine" or sometimes "the da Vinci glow" because Leonardo da Vinci was the first person to explain it: Sunlight hits Earth and ricochets to the Moon, casting a sheen of light across the dark lunar terrain.

By itself, a crescent Moon with Earthshine is one of the loveliest sights in the heavens. Add Venus and Jupiter and … well ... it's time to stop reading and go mark your calendar:

Dec. 1st @ sunset: Sky show of the year!

More maps: Nov. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, Dec. 1 2008.

Too bad I had to leave my telescope at my mom's house.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Copernicus Remains Identified

The AP reported yesterday that the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus have been identified. It took longer than I expected. They were found about two years ago, shortly before a couple other ladies from my church and I went to Poland for the 60th anniversary celebration of the Polish church we support. I didn't blog about it at the time.

Copernicus did much of his astronomical work in Frombork (see green arrow), because his uncle was the bishop there. This map is of the northeast part of Poland at the time of Copernicus. The tan area was occupied by the Teutonic knights, and the green area, Warmia, was in Polish control. The Teutonic knights would invade Warmia frequently, and with Frombork so close to the border region, it came under attack sometimes.

Copernicus owned a tower in the castle, which he purchased when he first came to Frombork (I believe from Lidzbark-Warminski, over in the green area, where he had lived for a time), and then later he bought a house outside the castle walls. Whenever Frombork was under attack, the people escaped to the safety of the castle, and with his tower, Copernicus was able to continue his studies of the heavens.

This is Frombork castle, side view:

The main entrance to the castle is made up of apartments, and many of the scientists who work there live in the apartments.

Inside the castle is the Copernicus Museum, where they have replicas of the three instruments he used for studying the stars. He used this one for viewing. The long diagonal bar has measurement marks, and the "horizontal" bar has two eyepieces that he looked through.

He used this board, with a peg in the upper left corner and a measured arc drawn on it, to track the sun's position.

Then somehow he recorded the measurements of the other two instruments on this thing, which gave three dimensions to space. And with just these three, he was able to map out space and determine that the sun--not the earth--was the center of the solar system, and that the stars were beyond the solar system. Amazing! (Please forgive my vagueness. I don't know where I put my journal from that trip when I packed up my stuff to put my house up for sale last year, so I'm working from two-year-old memory.)

We got a special treat, because our tour guide Andrzej ("Ahnd-zhay") is a member of the church we were visiting in Lidzbark, so he was able to get us permission to see Copernicus's tower room even though it was closed to tourists. The furniture is from that time period, but did not belong to Copernicus. These are small models of his instruments.

The view from a higher tower in the castle includes the cathedral (right) where Copernicus helped his uncle the Bishop.

Copernicus was a canon of the church, a lay position at the time. Now it's a priestly function. What he did as his duty was care for this altar inside the cathedral.

The AP article has this to say about the burial of Copernicus:

Copernicus was known to have been buried in the 14th-century Frombork Cathedral where he served as a canon, but his grave was not marked. The bones found by Gassowski were located under floor tiles near one of the side altars.

According to Andrzej (actually his daughter, Magda, who spoke English beautifully--Andrzej only reads English, which he uses for translating scientific articles into Polish), when a canon died, it was customary to bury him near the altar he cared for. Over the centuries, many canons were buried by each of the altars.

What threw things into confusion at Frombork was that there was a plaque on the wall saying that Copernicus was buried there, and the plaque was in a different part of the cathedral, so all previous efforts at finding his body were focused there by the plaque. They were never able to find him.

Finally, they gave up and started looking by his altar, and by the outer cathedral wall they found a mistreated, unidentified body that could have been him. Magda and Andrzej were excited about it and were confident they had found Copernicus (the mistreatment was from later people being buried on top of and around the earlier bodies, not from any antagonism). He was found about a month before our tour.

They hoped to be able to find Uncle Bishop, so they could do DNA comparisons, but nobody knew where the uncle was buried. They expected there to be some investigating of the uncle's whereabouts. As it turned out, they must not have found him.

So, in the next stage [after examining the bones for reasonable identification], Swedish genetics expert Marie Allen analyzed DNA from a vertebrae, a tooth and femur bone and matched and compared it to that taken from two hairs retrieved from a book that the 16th-century Polish astronomer owned, which is kept at a library of Sweden's Uppsala University where Allen works.

"We collected four hairs and two of them are from the same individual as the bones," Allen said.

Magda and Andrzej--and all of Poland for that matter--have to be thrilled.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mickey!

Mickey Mouse is 80 years old today. Here's his baby picture:

Here he is now:

We should all age this well!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Morning Earthquake

I talked about Earthquake Weather (EW) before, although we didn't get an earthquake that time, and my post turned into commentary about the job I don't have anymore. The earthquake discussion is at the beginning of the post.

So, we've been having EW again: cold nights and hot days, the kind of temperature shifts that make the earth contract and expand.

I went to bed later than usual, at 2:30am, and around 9:30am I woke up and then started falling back to sleep. Just as I fell asleep, I felt the bed move as though somebody had given the mattress a light push. It moved a tiny bit to the side and back, and my mind started telling me it was just one of those moments of disequilibrium that I didn't need to worry about, when I felt the covers settle down around my legs more.

I was awake. I classified it as an earthquake about a 3.2 magnitude at my house--just strong enough to feel it but not strong enough to even move the miniblinds.

Caltech takes about 10 - 20 minutes to report an earthquake on its website, so my first attempt to see if I had just experienced an earthquake and not a figment of my imagination told me that there was a 4.1 earthquake 10 miles north of the observatory on Mt. Palomar at about 4:30am. The epicenter is about 35 - 40 miles from me, if the crow flies high enough to avoid the mountains. I slept through that one.

A little later, an aftershock showed up for 9:41:36 AM PST. Jackpot!

I'm not sure how long the link will be good, since it's in the "recent earthquakes" section of their site, so here's their summary:


Southern California Seismic Network: a cooperative project of
U.S. Geological Survey, Pasadena California
Caltech Seismological Laboratory, Pasadena, California


Version #C: This report supersedes any earlier reports of this event. This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.

A minor earthquake occurred at 9:41:36 AM (PST) on Monday, November 17, 2008.
The magnitude 3.8 event occurred 16 km (10 miles) N of Palomar Observatory, CA.
The hypocentral depth is 10 km ( 6 miles).

So, that was my morning. I hope you had a good one too!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama Sells Guns

WorldNetDaily reported Thursday on the rise in gun sales since the election.

Gun sales have skyrocketed since Barack Obama was elected, and many gun owners say they are concerned the nation's next president and a Democratic-controlled Congress will impose a ban on assault rifles and firearm ownership.

From Nov. 3 to Nov. 9, the FBI reported 374,000 background checks on people purchasing guns – a 49 percent jump from last year. Dealers are reporting larger-than-usual sales since Election Day, according to the Chicago Tribune. The rush to buy weapons is more intense than in the days following Y2K and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Dallas, Texas, gun shop owner DeWayne Irwin said the election, combined with an unstable economy, triggered a firearms dash at his store.

"People are terrified of losing their right to protect themselves," Irwin told the Tribune. "The volume is 10 times what we ever expected. It started with assault rifles, but at this point people are buying ammunition, high-capacity magazines, Glocks – it's all flying off the shelf. With the economy the way it is, people are worried about instability. They are scared of civil unrest."

One of the newer advertisers on the talk radio station here is a gun shop in the San Diego area. Since the election, one of their ads has the gun shop manager saying he voted for Obama--not for President, but for Employee of the Month. "Gun Ban Obama, you see, has sold more guns in the last few months than all the Gun Exchange employees combined."

And I thought Obama was going to be bad for the economy...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Noisy Shrimp

I told the tale, earlier this year, about my dad's time as a radioman on submarines and what he said shrimp sound like. Now it appears that Great Britain is learning about shrimp sounds too.

The Daily Mail (UK) reported yesterday about pistol shrimp in British waters.

Pistol shrimps - which stun their prey by snapping their claws together to create a deafening 'crack' - normally live in the sub-tropics.

Despite being less than an inch long, the creatures can emit an astonishing 218 decibels - louder than a gunshot.

The sound stuns small fish and crabs, allowing the shrimp to move in for the kill.
The creatures, also known as snapping shrimps, are native to the warmer waters of the Mediterranean and have only been found swimming off the coast of Britain a handful of times this century.

A pair were discovered last week near the mouth of the Helford River in Cornwall by crab fisherman Tim Bailey, 56.

They were brought to the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, where staff were forced to separate them to stop them stunning each other.

Much like we separate members of Congress by putting an aisle between them.

Douglas Herdson, the information officer at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, said that the creatures are so loud that they can be heard by sailors.

'I have heard of yachtsmen being moored in a bay and not being able to sleep because of the noise these shrimps make,' he said.

Looks like my dad knew exactly what he was talking about.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Testing Tolerance

Photo credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo

Chicago Tribune columnist Jim Kass told the tale today of a schoolgirl's test of tolerance (HT: Michelle Malkin).

As the media keeps gushing on about how America has finally adopted tolerance as the great virtue, and that we're all united now, let's consider the Brave Catherine Vogt Experiment.

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.

She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching "inclusion," and she decided to see how included she could be.

So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:

"McCain Girl."

"I was just really curious how they'd react to something that different, because a lot of people at my school wore Obama shirts and they are big Obama supporters," Catherine told us. "I just really wanted to see what their reaction would be."

Immediately, Catherine learned she was stupid for wearing a shirt with Republican John McCain's name. Not merely stupid. Very stupid.

"People were upset. But they started saying things, calling me very stupid, telling me my shirt was stupid and I shouldn't be wearing it," Catherine said.

Then it got worse.

"One person told me to go die. It was a lot of dying. A lot of comments about how I should be killed," Catherine said, of the tolerance in Oak Park.

But students weren't the only ones surprised that she wore a shirt supporting McCain.

"In one class, I had one teacher say she will not judge me for my choice, but that she was surprised that I supported McCain," Catherine said.

If Catherine was shocked by such passive-aggressive threats from instructors, just wait until she goes to college.

"Later, that teacher found out about the experiment and said she was embarrassed because she knew I was writing down what she said," Catherine said.

One student suggested that she be put up on a cross for her political beliefs.

"He said, 'You should be crucifixed.' It was kind of funny because, I was like, don't you mean 'crucified?' " Catherine said.

Other entries in her notebook involved suggestions by classmates that she be "burned with her shirt on" for "being a filthy-rich Republican."

Some said that because she supported McCain, by extension she supported a plan by deranged skinheads to kill Obama before the election. And I thought such politicized logic was confined to American newsrooms. Yet Catherine refused to argue with her peers. She didn't want to jeopardize her experiment.

"I couldn't show people really what it was for. I really kind of wanted to laugh because they had no idea what I was doing," she said.

Only a few times did anyone say anything remotely positive about her McCain shirt. One girl pulled her aside in a corner, out of earshot of other students, and whispered, "I really like your shirt."

Catherine wore an "Obama Girl" T-shirt the next day.

Catherine wasn't very stupid anymore. She grew brains.

"People liked my shirt. They said things like my brain had come back, and I had put the right shirt on today," Catherine said.

She got extra credit in her history class for her experiment, and she learned how bad it can feel to be in the minority.

Most importantly, though, is that Catherine taught her school (and the rest of us) a valuable lesson that, really, everybody already knew: Tolerance, peace, and harmony live on the left side of the aisle, and intolerance, anger, and hate live on the right. I mean, I think that's what she discovered...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day

Photo credit: Alfred Eisenstadt

To all who served during wartime, thank you for the sacrifices you made for our country. We owe you a debt we cannot repay.

God bless our veterans on this and every day!

Monday, November 10, 2008


I saw this at Sparks from the Anvil last month and thought about posting it on my blog, but evidently that thought left my mind almost as quickly as it arrived.

Then last Thursday I was talking to one of my daughter's friends, who had done gymnastics in high school and was now trying her hand at pole vault in college. The gymnastics reminded me of the video, so I told her about it, and when I got home, I asked my daughter to "Facebook it" to her.

Another of my daughter's friends was visiting at the time, so we showed it to her. And right before my daughter went to bed, she asked me to play it again for her (her computer was already shut down), so I did, which got the song running through my head so strongly that I woke up with it too!

Here's the video. Watch and be happy.

We've decided that the little girls with the T-shirts over their faces can probably see through the fabric. And the girl who sticks her face up to the camera in the middle of the video reminds me of my niece when she was younger (yes, my sister, that would be your daughter, not our brother's).

Great video! Thank you, WordSmith. You're a genius.

Movie Star Lip Quiz

Photo credit: Wireimage

The entertainment section of the Los Angeles Times has a fun quiz: Decide which Hollywood stars have real lips or enhanced lips. They show a '"then" and "now" picture and let you vote.

What made it tough for me with some of the stars was that the "then" picture had the woman smiling. This made her lips look thin and made it harder to decide if "now" was fuller because of collagen or just because she wasn't smiling.

Happy Birthday, Marine Corps!

The Marine Corps is 233 years old today. Happy Birthday, Marines, and thank you for your service!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Remembering Kristallnacht

It was 70 years ago today.

YNet News reported today on a call for a night-long vigil.

Jews across the world will be lighting up the night this Sunday, as a vigil for victims of Kristallnacht, the Nazis' widespread anti-Jewish pogrom 70 years ago in which over a thousand synagogues were destroyed and hundreds of Jews were killed or arrested.

Israeli officials are encouraging synagogues and midrashot (centers for Jewish learning) across the world to remain illuminated overnight, on the night between November 9 and November 10, in memory of the fallen.

"The Nazis' objective was to darken Israel's eyes and turn off 'the light of the world', the light of the Torah and prayer that shone out of synagogues and midrashot," read a joint message published by Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog and chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar.

"As such we call on all of the people of Israel, in the State of Israel and in the Diaspora, to light candles and leave lights on in synagogues and midrashot on the 12th night of (the Jewish month of) Marheshvan, in order to remember and to remind future generations never to forget the cruelty and evil actions that befell us," the statement continued.

In a related story, YNet News reported October 22, 2008, that artifacts from Kristallnacht had been found in a Brandenburg waste dump.

The items have recently been unearthed by [Israeli investigative reporter] Yaron Svoray at a waste site the size of four soccer fields in Brandenburg, located north of Berlin.

The waste site is located in close proximity to the former home of Hermann Goering, who commanded the German air force (Luftwaffe) during World War II.

Kristallnacht, also known as the "Night of Broken Glass" or the "Crystal Night pogroms," saw the destruction of more than 200 synagogues and the ransacking of tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes. During the Nazi pogrom 92 Jews were murdered and 25,000–30,000 were arrested and deported to concentration camps.

According to Svoray, the son of the waste site's watchman had told him that remnants from Kristallnacht were dumped there, and after learning of the possible importance of the artifacts from the director of the Kibbutz Lochmei Ha’ Getaot Museum, Simcha Stein, he returned to Germany with a group of volunteers.

"Within an hour of digging with our bare hands we found a bottle embossed with a Star of David," Svoray told Ynet. "We were very excited, because the chances of a bottle surviving a war are so slim.

"Forty meters (approx. 130 feet) from where we unearthed the bottle I discovered a huge metallic swastika. That's when I knew we had a major story on our hands," the journalist said.

Additional artifacts found by Svoray's crew included mezuzahs and chiseled windowsills and armrests from destroyed synagogues. A swastika-shaped ornament was also discovered.

The search for additional artifacts at the site is ongoing under the constant watch of bodyguards, this after Svoray complained of threats made on his life.

Pope Benedict XVI commemorated the anniversary as well.

"Still today I feel pain over what happened in those tragic events, whose memory must serve to ensure such horrors are never repeated and that we strive, on every level, against all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination ...," said the pope.

"I invite people to pray for the victims of that night and to join me in expressing profound solidarity with the Jewish world," the pontiff told crowds at the Vatican after his regular Sunday Angelus address.

Pope Benedict, born Joseph Ratzinger in Bavaria in 1927, was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a teenager, though both his parents opposed the Nazis.

Earlier this year the pontiff spoke in New York about his teenage years being "marred by a sinister regime".

Let us never forget--and never repeat. I, for one, will be leaving my porch light on all night.

Photo credit (all photos): United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Democrats Eyeing Private Retirement Accounts

The Carolina Journal Online reported Tuesday that the Democrats aren't content to let you have your own piece of your retirement pie. They want it all under their thumb. (emphasis all mine)

Democrats in the U.S. House have been conducting hearings on proposals to confiscate workers’ personal retirement accounts — including 401(k)s and IRAs — and convert them to accounts managed by the Social Security Administration.

Triggered by the financial crisis the past two months, the hearings reportedly were meant to stem losses incurred by many workers and retirees whose 401(k) and IRA balances have been shrinking rapidly.

The testimony of Teresa Ghilarducci, professor of economic policy analysis at the New School for Social Research in New York, in hearings Oct. 7 drew the most attention and criticism. Testifying for the House Committee on Education and Labor, Ghilarducci proposed that the government eliminate tax breaks for 401(k) and similar retirement accounts, such as IRAs, and confiscate workers’ retirement plan accounts and convert them to universal Guaranteed Retirement Accounts (GRAs) managed by the Social Security Administration.

It's all about equality. Not equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome. And the devil is in the details.

GRAs would guarantee a fixed 3 percent annual rate of return, although later in her article Ghilarducci explained that participants would not “earn a 3% real return in perpetuity.” In place of tax breaks workers now receive for contributions and thus a lower tax rate, workers would receive $600 annually from the government, inflation-adjusted. For low-income workers whose annual contributions are less than $600, the government would deposit whatever amount it would take to equal the minimum $600 for all participants.

In a radio interview with Kirby Wilbur in Seattle on Oct. 27, 2008, Ghilarducci explained that her proposal doesn’t eliminate the tax breaks, rather, “I’m just rearranging the tax breaks that are available now for 401(k)s and spreading — spreading the wealth.”

Where have I heard that before?

All workers would have 5 percent of their annual pay deducted from their paychecks and deposited to the GRA. They would still be paying Social Security and Medicare taxes, as would the employers. The GRA contribution would be shared equally by the worker and the employee. Employers no longer would be able to write off their contributions. Any capital gains would be taxable year-on-year.

As bad as all that is, that isn't enough confiscation of your retirement funds to suit the Democrats.

Analysts point to another disturbing part of the plan. With a GRA, workers could bequeath only half of their account balances to their heirs, unlike full balances from existing 401(k) and IRA accounts. For workers who die after retiring, they could bequeath just their own contributions plus the interest but minus any benefits received and minus the employer contributions.

To summarize, if I'm understanding this right, is that they'll take our 401(k) or IRA, guarantee an unreal return of 3%, force us to contribute 5% of our income whether we can afford that or not, and then they'll take whatever earnings and employer-contributed funds are left when we die. Oh, yeah, that sounds lucrative!

President-elect Barack Obama has admitted his goal is to spread the wealth from the successful (the upper middle class, not the truly wealthy who have ways of hiding their money from the tax man) to the less successful and the ones who don't even try. But I had no idea they'd be going after retirement accounts.

Hang onto your wallets, because there's no telling what they'll be trying to confiscate next.

Neil Cavuto on More Bailouts

Neil Cavuto's Common Sense commentary on Fox News yesterday was brilliant.

So it looks like the auto giants are going to get another bailout. They say they desperately need another bailout. Nancy Pelosi says they deserve another bailout.

GM just lost two and a half billion dollars. The others aren't looking much better. Which is why they're so bitter and why they're in Washington looking to barter: "You give us the dough, or more jobs will go." So it looks like we're going to give them more dough.

What amazes me is that we're giving it without a lot more conditions. In fact, darn near no conditions, which to me is weird. You would think if you're giving a group that much money, you would at least politely ask them how they're going to spend it.

Here is what I would do: "OK. We will bail you out, but here's what you have to do: Resign. Each and every one of you chief executives will have to resign. Obviously you screwed up, built too much of the wrong cars people didn't want and too few of the real cars people did want. So here's what we don't want: You! Submit your resignations now, and understand that you're not entitled to any bonuses or golden parachutes on the way out. Just a swift kick-butt in the ass. Now sign here."

I wonder what would happen. I wonder if they would still seek that bailout. I wonder if any begging industry's CEO would seek a bailout if they knew they'd have to resign. Maybe we wouldn't see so many hats in so many hands. Maybe we wouldn't see any hat in any hand.

Or maybe we'd be pleasantly surprised that for the good of their company they'd leave the company.

Bailouts are dangers, my friends, not only because they absolve companies of their responsibilities, but the very CEOs responsible for the mess from claiming any responsibility.

So, if we're to go this maddening route, try this mad idea. Anyone can come to Washington begging to save jobs as long as they understand the first one they lose in the process--the very first--is their own.

I like it. Let's call Congress and get this started.

Friday, November 07, 2008

First Dog Barney Bites Reporter

The Swamp reported yesterday on the latest news at the White House, complete with this video.

This reporter has no clue about dogs. The beginning of the video shows Barney turning away from the reporters, and at no time was his tail wagging. This was a Barney who wanted to be left alone. And when the clueless reporter stuck his hand in Barney's face, Barney let him have it.

To be fair, the reporter was a good sport about it, showing off his bandaged finger (treated by the White House physician, no less!) and discussing his treatment.

So now we know Barney is one more member of the Bush family that doesn't take any mistreatment from reporters.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Trashing Palin

Photo credit: Fox News

It was bad enough when the news media made its relentless attacks against Sarah Palin. That was to be expected for an industry that picked Barack Obama as its golden boy and took every opportunity to destroy anybody in Obama's way. They started with Hillary Clinton then moved on to McCain and slavered over the chance to dig up every speck of dust in Palin's life.

Now it's McCain's campaign staff trashing her. Tom Flannery's excellent column yesterday looked into the question of McCain blame.

The John McCain campaign didn't wait for Tuesday's decisive loss to start pinning the blame for the shellacking on Sarah Palin. It started weeks earlier with campaign operatives putting out the word that she was a "diva," saying she was difficult to work with and confirming reports of a rift with McCain. Not to mention the leaking of a $150,000 bill for clothing that Palin neither picked out nor paid for, but for which she was saddled with the entirety of the blame.

Talk about the "Straight Talk Express" going off the rails!

The media elites who have demonized and demeaned Palin in every way imaginable will surely run with the McCain campaign's spin and milk it for all it's worth. The storyline will likely lead the election postmortem coverage for quite some time to come. Before long, hardly anyone will remember how energized the Republican National Convention – and the Republican base nationally – was by the Palin selection, or how McCain emerged from that convention (thanks to her stunning performance) with a solid lead over Obama.

Then came the Wall Street financial crisis, and rather than side with the people – who abhorred the Washington bailout and opposed it with unbridled intensity – McCain instead made himself the public face of that bailout by suspending his campaign and rushing back to Washington to try to hammer out the deal. With that, his poll numbers collapsed.

McCain probably couldn't help himself. This is what he'd been doing his entire career – working with Washington liberals to push through horrendous legislation or reach arranged "compromises" favorable to the liberal agenda and then taking credit for being courageous enough to "do the right thing."

This time, McCain alienated not only conservatives across the country (as he had done repeatedly on a host of issues through the years – immigration, campaign finance reform, drilling, judges, etc.) but the vast majority of the voting public – and he never recovered from it. Hundreds of national opinion polls taken from that point forward showed Obama in the lead, often by double digits, as did most polls in the key swing states.

Flannery details multiple ways McCain hamstrung his own campaign, then he gives us this:

He also failed to answer the constant questions about Palin's supposed lack of experience. McCain should have been making the point that, however inexperienced she might be, she nevertheless has far more executive experience than Obama. As Newt Gingrich wrote earlier this week: "[I]t is revealing that no national network TV interviewer asked Gov. Sarah Palin about her experiences as governor; her experience writing an $11 billion state budget; her experience leading the 29,000 employees of the Alaskan state government; her experience negotiating a big deal with ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and the rest of Big Oil; her success in giving the money from that negotiation to the people of Alaska as a $1,300 tax cut for every man, woman and child in the state; or her experience in negotiating a natural-gas pipeline that is the biggest civil-construction project in North America, and which three former governors failed to get done."

Perhaps they were just too busy asking her "gotcha" questions in an attempt to reduce her in the eyes of the American people and impress their fellow media elites with their usefulness to the Obama campaign they all so enthusiastically abetted.


To that end, expect Democrats and the media to make the case in the weeks ahead that the McCain campaign was done in by his decision to nominate such a woefully unqualified running mate. In short, Sarah-bashing will be raised to something of an art form as she is blamed for everything that went wrong.

Still, the fact remains that when all of the votes were tabulated last night, John McCain was left lying in a bed that he himself had made. And if he wants to know who cost him this election, all he has to do is look in the mirror.

Michelle Malkin also has an excellent post on The McCain Campaign's Classless Cowards.

The anonymous trashing of Sarah Palin by blabbermouth McCain aides who are leaking to Fox News is disgusting. Absolutely disgusting.

Allah’s got the vid clip of a report citing unnamed McCain staffers accusing Palin of lacking, in Carl Cameron’s words, “knowledgeability.” More slime here. And here.

At least all the Hollywood and Manhattan Palin-haters were willing to sign their names and put their faces on their attacks.

Historic Voting

Photo source:

It occurred, to me as the media celebrated the opportunity people had to vote for the first time for a black person, that it's not so historic.

The first year I was able to vote in a presidential election was 1976. I was a liberal, looking in scorn on the one or two guys in one of my classes who favored what we libs called "Big Business." They were disgusting.

When I went to the polling booth, did I vote for Jimmy Carter? Not at all.

I wrote in, "Barbara Jordan (D-TX)."

My historic moment was 1976, when I voted for a black and a woman. Obama and Palin weren't historic at all.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The End of the World as We Know It

Obama has been elected. @#%&*@!

I don't feel fine. Not yet. Our country is totally screwed (pardon my language, Mom).

Supreme Court Justices who will ignore the Constitution and set destructive precedents that will affect us for a generation or more.

The systematic dismantling of our military, weakening our position as the leader of the free world and opening the door to the enemies of liberty to take control of more countries. Unopposed.

The attempted destruction of Israel by her enemies, followed by nothing more than finger-wagging and a stern scolding of the aggressors (perhaps while blaming Israel for provoking the attacks) from our fearless Obamessiah.

Abortion all the time for any reason.

Working to shut down political dissent. First target: Rush Limbaugh. Or will it be Fox News?

Higher taxes on anybody who pays taxes now, especially businesses. Leading to the complete tanking of the economy. Even the Great Depression II.

There's more, of course, because the Democrats will be able to rule the country without enough Republicans to stop them. Congress's approval ratings are lower than President Bush's, but those same disapproved of Congressional leaders will now be setting the agenda for our country, and Obama will rubber-stamp them, because he's more of a follower than a leader.

Better fill up your tank with gas now, while you can still afford it. You can bet there won't be any drilling for more.

I'd better stop now. Good thing I'm such a sunny optimist, or this could have been really depressing.

In spite of my dismal vision of our country's future, I know Who's in charge. God gave us free will, and we exercised it in the voting booth. Now He will work that to His purposes.

It's time to pray for our nation and pray hard. And then fight for our nation and fight hard. I'll know better what that means when the time comes.

I Voted

I don't have a purple finger, but I voted.

For John McCain and Sarah Palin.

For traditional marriage.

For parental notification before a minor can have an abortion.

For citizen commissions to do redistricting.

Against pretty much everything else.

And now we wait...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Alaska Clears Palin of Troopergate Wrongdoing

The Anchorage Daily News reported today that Governor Sarah Palin was cleared by the Alaska Personnel Board of any ethics violations. Since this is good news for Palin, and since the mainstream media doesn't like good news for Palin, I decided to see what the MSM had to say (if anything) about the subject.

I checked the Los Angeles Times, and they have a headline pretending to take you to an article/blog post about Palin being cleared, but the link goes to a story about how Palin wore jeans on the final campaign day. (Oh, they fixed it now. They presented the highlights and quoted Palin but didn't point out the pertinent information that was also missed by the NY Times and Washington Post, below.)

Then I checked the New York Times, and they have the article (not a big headline, but findable) that describes how the Alaska Personnel Board cleared Gov. Palin. That part of the article takes 5 paragraphs. Then they go on to describe the findings of the Legislative investigator, discuss the "fired" (he wasn't fired, just shuffled to another job, prompting him to resign and claim he was fired) Monegan's point of view, and fail to report in the remaining 18 paragraphs that the Alaska Legislature (and its investigator) has absolutely no jurisdiction over gubernatorial ethics violations. That responsibility lies solely with the Alaska Personnel Board (see
Sec. 39.52.310 item c
). But the New York Times didn't think that was worth mentioning.

You may notice that I didn't link to the New York Times. That's because I promised, after the NY Times spilled state secrets, that I would never link to them and only mention them if it helps discredit them.

The Washingon Post is also covering the story with an anti-Palin slant:

After Palin was selected as Sen. John McCain's running mate, her attorneys attempted to take the investigation out of the hands of the legislative investigator by asking her hand-picked, three-person State Personnel Board to look into the matter. At a routine meeting, the board surprised attendees by announcing that its investigator would release his findings yesterday.

Keep in mind that the "hand-picked" comment is a big, fat lie. Two of the three members were appointed by Palin's predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski (last paragraph). Also, the Post makes the same error as the NYT of assuming the Legislature had any legal purpose (besides sheer politics) in conducting an investigation.

Yes, your objective media at work...

Reasons Not To Vote For Obama

First, let me start with the question of Obama's citizenship. Attorney Philip J. Berg, during the primary season, filed suit to require Obama to prove he's a natural born citizen of the US, since only that kind of citizen can be president. His efforts were helped (in the public square, not in the courtroom) by reports that Obama's Kenyan grandmother remembered being in the delivery room when Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was born. In Kenya. To a mother who was legally too young to confer her American citizenship to her new bundle of joy. And unconfirmed reports circulated that an investigator was able to obtain a Kenyan birth certificate for this event, but I can't find any evidence that this was true.

In the end, Berg's case was dismissed. The judge said that voters don't have the legal standing to enforce the constitutional requirements of the presidency against a candidate for that office. I'm presuming, based on some of the wording, that if Obama wins, then maybe voters will be able to sue.

But yesterday Hawaiian officials declared that Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate is genuine, so that issue looks to be moot at this point. But really, there are plenty of other, better, reasons not to vote for Barack Obama.


I know. I know. People on the left don't think this point has any meaning. After all, it's old news. But Barack Obama has more unsavory friends and associates than any three other presidential candidates in the recent past. Does Obama even have any friends who are genuinely nice people?

Racist, anti-(white)American pastor Jeremiah Wright. Anti-(white)American priest Michale Pfleger. Domestic terrorist William Ayers. Convicted felon and Obama fundraiser Tony Rezko. PLO-supporting Khalid Rashidi. Even Michelle Obama's black "separationism" thesis at Princeton.

There's a saying that you know a man by his friends. These are Obama's friends.

Charles Krauthammer had an interesting take on the dismissal of Obama's associations by the liberal press:

Let me get this straight. A couple of agitated yahoos in a rally of thousands yell something offensive and incendiary, and John McCain and Sarah Palin are not just guilty by association -- with total strangers, mind you -- but worse: guilty according to The New York Times of "race-baiting and xenophobia."

But should you bring up Barack Obama's real associations -- 20 years with Jeremiah Wright, working on two foundations and distributing money with William Ayers, citing the raving Michael Pfleger as one who helps him keep his moral compass (Chicago Sun-Times, April 2004) and the long-standing relationship with the left-wing vote-fraud specialist ACORN -- you have crossed the line into illegitimate guilt by association. Moreover, it is tinged with racism.

Exactly. Who you surround yourself with matters, and Obama has surrounded himself for years with angry, America-hating creeps. It raises the serious question of who he will surround himself with during his administration, should he win (God forbid).


Obama wants us to conserve energy, and to do that, he wants "price signals" to make us quit using so much energy. If he artificially inflates the cost of gas and electricity through taxation, then he makes consumers hurt enough to stop driving and to keep the lights off at home.

At the same time, he wants to bankrupt the coal industry with greenhouse gas cap-and-trade fees, so no new coal plants will be built. And he opposes offshore oil drilling, though in August he softened that position to maybe possibly consider it.


Obama is so much in favor of abortion that he does not appear to be on record opposing any kind of abortion for any reason. He supports allowing "aborted" babies that are born alive to die without medical care. He supports partial-birth abortion, the process of delivering the baby in a breech position but leaving the head inside the mother and puncturing the baby's skull to suck out the brain. He has promised Planned Parenthood, "The first thing I will do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."

The bill would codify the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, into law in all the states. This would overturn state laws that have been passed to limit or delay abortions. Contrary to Mr. Obama's pledges to reduce the number of abortions, he really wants to make them easier to get - while overriding state and federal laws.

Judicial Appointments

Obama believes that condition of a judicial nominee's heart is a more important consideration than his understanding of the law and the Constitution.


Obama wants to raise taxes on the "rich" to give tax breaks to everybody else. Unfortunately, the definition of rich keeps dropping. It started as $250,000 then dropped to $200,000, then Biden said it was $150,000. Then Bill Richardson, while campaigning for Obama, defined rich as people making $120,000. The bottom line is that when Obama says, "rich," if you pay taxes, he's talking about you.

And what does Obama plan to do with his tax increases? He wants to "spread the wealth." Just ask Joe the Plumber. This post at Flopping Aces, including comment #2 and #16, gives real-world examples of the realities of redistributing wealth.

Don't forget, if you oppose higher taxes, Obama thinks you're selfish.

There's much more...

...but I'm running out of time.

DO NOT let the exit polling tomorrow discourage you from voting! It's not as bad as it looks. The exit polling in 2000 showed Al Gore winning Florida, and in 2004 they showed Kerry winning. The Democrats over-poll in exit polling because Republicans don't trust the pollsters and media, and so they decline to talk more than Democrats do. Keep the faith and VOTE MCCAIN/PALIN!


Here's a good summary of Obama's position on many topics, in his own words.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Endangered Tree Octopus

In my extensive research for my Otto the Octopus post, I stumbled across this website devoted to saving the endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip,) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are amphibious, spending only their early life and the period of their mating season in their ancestral aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and specialized skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming desiccated for prolonged periods of time, but given the chance they would prefer resting in pooled water.

An intelligent and inquisitive being (it has the largest brain-to-body ratio for any mollusk), the tree octopus explores its arboreal world by both touch and sight. Adaptations its ancestors originally evolved in the three dimensional environment of the sea have been put to good use in the spatially complex maze of the coniferous Olympic rainforests. The challenges and richness of this environment (and the intimate way in which it interacts with it,) may account for the tree octopus's advanced behavioral development. (Some evolutionary theorists suppose that "arboreal adaptation" is what laid the groundwork in primates for the evolution of the human mind.)

It has a ring of authenticity to it while being completely unbelievable at the same time. In fact, there's even a link to the Telegraph article on Otto over on the left.

So I did a little more investigating and found the Tree Octopus in Wikipedia. Wikipedia says:

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus was an internet hoax created in 1998 by Lyle Zapato.[1] This fictitious endangered species of cephalopod was given the Latin name "Octopus paxarbolis" (which means, roughly, "Pacific tree octopus"). It was purported to be able to live both on land and in water, and was said to live in the Olympic National Forest and nearby rivers, spawning in water where eggs are laid. Its major predator was said to be the Sasquatch.

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus website is among a number of sites commonly used in Internet literacy classes in schools, although it was not created for that purpose. Despite the falsehoods shown on the site, such as its support by "," the mentioning of other hoax species such as the Rock Nest Monster, the mountain walrus,
[2] and its affiliation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Pumpkins (P.E.T.PU.) (cleverly mixed with links to pages about real species and organizations), 24 of 25 students involved in one well-publicized test believed the content.[3][4] (emphasis added)

I'm glad I wasn't fooled.

Here's hoping the Otto story isn't a hoax!

Rogue Octopus Wrecks Aquarium

Photo credit: EUROPICS

Don't let your octopi get bored. That's the lesson we learn from Otto the octopus.

The Telegraph (UK) reported yesterday about the cephalopod challenge. Here is the entire article:

Staff believe that the octopus called Otto had been annoyed by the bright light shining into his aquarium and had discovered he could extinguish it by climbing onto the rim of his tank and squirting a jet of water in its direction.

The short-circuit had baffled electricians as well as staff at the Sea Star Aquarium in Coburg, Germany, who decided to take shifts sleeping on the floor to find out what caused the mysterious blackouts.

A spokesman said: "It was a serious matter because it shorted the electricity supply to the whole aquarium that threatened the lives of the other animals when water pumps ceased to work.

"It was on the third night that we found out that the octopus Otto was responsible for the chaos.

"We knew that he was bored as the aquarium is closed for winter, and at two feet, seven inches Otto had discovered he was big enough to swing onto the edge of his tank and shoot out a the 2000 Watt spot light above him with a carefully directed jet of water."

Director Elfriede Kummer who witnessed the act said: "We've put the light a bit higher now so he shouldn't be able to reach it. But Otto is constantly craving for attention and always comes up with new stunts so we have realised we will have to keep more careful eye on him - and also perhaps give him a few more toys to play with.

"Once we saw him juggling the hermit crabs in his tank, another time he threw stones against the glass damaging it. And from time to time he completely re-arranges his tank to make it suit his own taste better - much to the distress of his fellow tank inhabitants."

That Otto is amazing. I learned to juggle balls when I was in my Acting class in college. But Otto figured out how to juggle hermit crabs, without the benefit of an instructor.

The aquarium personnel are going to have their hands full this winter.