Monday, November 8, 2010
WHO IS THIS MAN WITH CLAPPED PRAYING HANDS? WHAT IS THIS PHOTOGRAPH ABOUT? Is this an impotent leader, deluded by his own bowed shadow, confused about the wishes of his own subjects, convinced he is "King of the World"?
Top 100 Customer Favorites
Our top 100 customer favorites are ranked according to customer orders on Amazon.com through October. (Only books published for the first time in 2010 are eligible.) The list starts with these bestsellers:
6. Game Change
Twinkie diet helps nutrition professor lose 27 pounds
(CNN) -- Twinkies. Nutty bars. Powdered donuts.
For 10 weeks, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate one of these sugary cakelets every three hours, instead of meals. To add variety in his steady stream of Hostess and Little Debbie snacks, Haub munched on Doritos chips, sugary cereals and Oreos, too.
His premise: That in weight loss, pure calorie counting is what matters most -- not the nutritional value of the food.
The premise held up: On his "convenience store diet," he shed 27 pounds in two months.
For a class project, Haub limited himself to less than 1,800 calories a day. A man of Haub's pre-dieting size usually consumes about 2,600 calories daily. So he followed a basic principle of weight loss: He consumed significantly fewer calories than he burned.
The entire controversy was mostly the result of measurements that said Eris was bigger than Pluto. Now, it looks like that isn't the case. Recent observations of Eris by Chilean telescopes have provided the most accurate measurements yet for Eris's size, and it turns out Eris's radius is "almost certainly" smaller than 1,170 kilometers, and it's possible the final calculations will push that upper limit down another 50 or 60 kilometers.
Why does that matter? Well, Pluto's radius is 1,172 kilometers. Yes, by perhaps as little as two kilometers, Pluto is slightly bigger than Eris after all. That means it's the biggest dwarf planet in the solar system, and once again it's the ninth biggest object orbiting the Sun. To be fair, Eris still has it beat in terms of mass, which is about 125% that of Pluto. This means Eris is unusually but not impossibly dense.
An Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt, located at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose, California.
Could beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It's a possibility, some archaeologists say.
Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.
Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer, said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.
"Beer is sacred stuff in most traditional societies," said Hayden, who is planning to submit research on the origins of beer to the journal Current Anthropology.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: “It is a source of continual astonishment to me that pilots — many of whom, it should be pointed out, are military veterans who possess security clearances — are not allowed to carry onboard their airplanes pocket knives and bottles of shampoo, but then they’re allowed to fly enormous, fuel-laden, missile-like objects over American cities.”
Opt Out of a Body Scan? Then Brace Yourself
JOE SHARKEY, On Tuesday November 2, 2010, 1:40 am EDT
HAVING been taught by nuns in grade school and later going through military boot camp, I have always disliked uniformed authorities shouting at me. So I was unhappy last week when some security screeners at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago started yelling.
“Opt out! We got an opt out!” one bellowed about me in a tone that people in my desert neighborhood in Tucson usually reserve for declaring, “Rattlesnake!”
Other screeners took up the “Opt out!” shout. I was marched from the metal detector lane to one of those nearby whole-body imagers, ordered to take everything out of my pockets, remove my belt and hold my possessions up high. Then I was required to stand still while I received a rough pat-down by a man whose résumé, I suspected, included experience at a state prison.
“Hold your pants up!” he ordered me.
What did I do to deserve this? Well, as I approached the checkpoints, I had two choices. One was a familiar lane with the metal detector, so I put my bag on that. To my right was a separate lane dominated with what the Transportation Security Administration initially called “whole-body imagers” but has now labeled “advanced imaging technology” units. Critics, of course, call them strip-search machines.
I don’t like these things, and not just because of privacy concerns or because of what some critics have asserted are radiation safety issues with some of the machines that use X-ray technology.
No, I don’t like the fact that I have to remove every item from every pocket, including my wallet and things as trivial as a Kleenex. You then strike a pose inside with your hands submissively held above your head, like some desperado cornered by the sheriff in a Western movie, while the see-through-clothes machine makes an image of your body.
President Barack Obama has performed his act of contrition. Now comes the hard part, according to Democrats around the country: reckoning with the simple fact that he’s isolated himself from virtually every group that matters in American politics.
Congressional Democrats consider him distant and blame him for their historic defeat on Tuesday. Democratic state party leaders scoff at what they see as an inattentive and hapless political operation. Democratic lobbyists feel maligned by his holier-than-thou take on their profession. His own Cabinet — with only a few exceptions — has been marginalized.
His relations with business leaders could hardly be worse. Obama has suggested it’s a PR problem, but several Democratic officials said CEOs friendly with the president walk away feeling he’s indifferent at best to their concerns. Add in his icy relations with Republicans, the media and, most important, most voters, and it’s easy to understand why his own staff leaked word to POLITICO that it wants Obama to shake up his staff and change his political approach.
Many Democrats privately say they are skeptical that Obama is self-aware enough to make the sort of dramatic changes they feel are needed — in his relations with other Democrats or in his very approach to the job.
“This guy swept to power on a wave of adulation, and he learned the wrong lessons from that,” said a Democratic official who deals frequently with the White House. “He’s more of a movement leader than a politician. He needs someone to kick his ass on things large and small and teach him to be a politician.”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1110/44812.html#ixzz14iU5ym00
Hopefully the election results will prevent Comrade Obama from pushing his agenda any further. We don't want to end up like Venezuela, where Big Government is now confiscating private homes:
Chavez promised Sunday to crack down on construction and real estate companies that he accused of unjustly boosting prices, which he labeled "housing fraud."
The president, a self-proclaimed revolutionary who idolizes Cuba's Fidel Castro and is currently on a visit to Havana, called his decision last week to order the expropriation of six residential complexes and "the temporary occupation" of eight gated communities in Caracas and other cities "an act of justice."
Venezuelans worry that this will lead to more pro-Chavez squatters occupying homes that are under construction, just as Obama's ACORN friends have invaded and occupied homes that belong to others.
Fortunately, even in Venezuela, there is still resistance to socialism.
Opposition politician Julio Borges accused Chavez on Sunday of trampling private-property rights and steering Venezuela toward Cuba-style communism.
Borges told a news conference that Venezuelans don't want to live in "a country of slaves, where the government is the owner of everything and the people aren't owners of anything."
What’s So Great About America. “First, the idea of American exceptionalism has the benefit of being true. The United States is fundamentally and demonstrably different from other countries. It is bound together by a founding proposition, and properly applied the proposition has brought freedom and prosperity to more people, and more kinds of people, than any other. Second, a large majority of Americans believe American exceptionalism to be true.”
FRANK LUNTZ: WHAT AMERICANS WANT:
Over the past two years, I’ve polled tens of thousands of Americans. Their top complaint about politicians is that they fail to “say what they mean and mean what they say.” Their top complaint about government is that it lacks “accountability.” Their top complaint about Washington is that “government has grown too big, too inefficient, and too out of control to do even the bare minimum things it is supposed to do.”
These concerns explain why Hurricane Katrina ended President George W. Bush’s presidency three years before his term expired. They explain why the gulf oil spill disaster crystallized voters’ concerns that Obama is in over his head. And they explain why the stimulus – after all those billions in debt, unemployment is still near 10 percent – has been deemed a failure.
Americans’ agenda is simple. In broad terms, they want the government to spur job growth, but not by subsidizing more government jobs with taxpayer dollars. They want Washington to balance the budget and reverse the growing influence of government on daily life. They want the government to encourage success, allow failure, punish those who break the law – and then get out of the way. And above all, they want politicians to follow through on their promises, even if that means tempering those promises in the first place.
Will Democrats Shut Down The Government? “That seems to be the question the media does not want to ask. Instead, it all is about whether Republicans have taken a government shut down, or at least a refusal to lift the debt ceiling, off the table. This meme has it backwards.”
PERCENTAGES: “In the midst of a resounding national rebuke at all levels of government, the Democrats have been taking some solace in having held the Senate. But to put the Republicans’ Senate gains this week into perspective, Republicans won an even higher percentage of Senate races than House races (they won 65 percent of the 37 Senate races, versus approximately 56 percent of the 435 House races). And, counting Lisa Murkowski as still being a Republican (a spokesman for her campaign says the Alaskan would caucus with the GOP if she beats Joe Miller in their still-undecided race), there have been only two elections since 1950 in which Republicans have gained more Senate seats than the six they gained in 2010.”
This kinda undermines claims that the Tea Party cost the GOP the Senate.
Tai Chi Relieves Arthritis Pain, Improves Reach, Balance, Well-Being, Study Suggests
ScienceDaily (Nov. 7, 2010) — In the largest study to date of the Arthritis Foundation's Tai Chi program, participants showed improvement in pain, fatigue, stiffness and sense of well-being.
This Is Tom Cruise Jumping Off the Tallest Skyscraper In the World
They are filming Mission Impossible 4 in Dubai right now. Our friend and local Dubai photographer Gerald Donovan took this photo of none other than Tom Cruise jumping off the Burj Khalifa, formerly known as the Burj Dubai:
They've been busy filming stuff for Mission Impossible 4 on the Burj Khalifa for the last 10 days or so. Not sure if you've seen any of the pics, but here's a picture of Tom Cruise swinging around that I took on Friday.
Current European tax rates:
Income Tax: 50%
VAT: 17.5% TOTAL: 67.5%
Income Tax: 40%
VAT: 19.6% TOTAL: 59.6%
Income Tax: 40%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 65%
Income Tax: 45%
VAT: 16% TOTAL: 61%
Income Tax: 42%
VAT: 20% TOTAL: 62%
Income Tax: 55%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 80%
Income Tax: 54.3%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 79.3%
Income Tax: 52%
VAT: 19% TOTAL: 71%
Income Tax: 58%
VAT: 25% TOTAL: 83%
Income Tax: 53%
VAT: 22% TOTAL: 75%
If you've started to wonder what the real costs of socialism are going to be, once the full program in these United States hits your wallet, take a look at the table.
Despite all the obnoxious personalities, MSNBC is preferable to CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, CNN, etc. in that at least it doesn't pretend to be anything other than what all of them are: a soapbox for the Left. Lawrence O'Donnell openly admits to being a socialist, and Ed Schultz confesses this:
"Heck, this is the truth channel, when it comes to defending the Obama administration and the progressive [i.e., hard left] movement in this country."
Washington State Voters Reject Income Tax on 'Wealthy'Washington State voters on Tuesday defeated, 65% to 35%, an initiative that would have imposed a state income tax on the "wealthy" -- >$200,000 (single), >$400,000 (married filing jointly).
Martin A. Sullivan (Tax Analysts) has published Fiscal Crisis, Part 2: Catastrophe, 129 Tax Notes 647 (Nov. 8, 2010):
Last week we talked about the first stage of the U.S. fiscal crisis: the slow erosion of long-term growth because of mounting government debt. [Fiscal Crisis, Part 1: The Slow Descent to Second-Class Status, 129 Tax Notes 499 (Nov. 1, 2010).] This phenomenon arises from a straightforward application of conventional supply-side economics. Government borrowing absorbs private saving that would otherwise be used for capital formation. The diminished capital stock reduces productivity, growth, and competitiveness.
This week we look at stage two: a rapid economic meltdown precipitated by an untamable accumulation of government debt. ... We are in uncharted economic territory. We cannot be sure of what danger lies ahead or how fast it may arrive at our doorstep. But at least economists are providing some useful ideas to help us better conceptualize the problem.
With their help we can see that we absolutely want to be vigilant about any risk premium creeping into the government's interest rate. It surely will precede any bond market meltdown. But that is not enough. The dynamics are such that we may not have much warning before uncertainty suddenly develops into a catastrophe.
Figure 2. The Supply and Demand for Deficit Reduction
We can also see that when government debt levels are high, any unexpected spike in interest rates is a threat to solvency, irrespective of the cause of that increase. The shock could be generated by the government itself taking on too much debt (as discussed above), or it can come from outside events that are not directly related to government policy.
Crystals use smell to trick you into weight loss
Scented crystals that aid weight loss by convincing the brain that the body does not need to eat have been developed by scientists.
Dr Alan Hirsch's Sensa weight loss system
When scattered over food, the aroma of the crystals is enough to trick you into thinking you are full, even if you have only eaten a few morsels.
Dr Alan Hirsch, the neurologist who developed the crystals, said the smell of food – which accounts for up to 90 per cent of the "taste" of food – can be used to trigger a "fullness" message in the brain which then tells the body it is full.
The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today told Joe Biden that "the only way to ensure that Iran is not armed with nuclear weapons is to create a credible threat of military action against it, unless it stops its race to obtain nuclear weapons." Netanyahu reportedly reminded Biden that '"the only time Iran stopped its nuclear program was in 2003, and that was when they believed that there was a real chance of an American military strike against them."
We've noted in prior posts that the federal government appears to have ignored clear warning signals during the past few years that banks were not following proper foreclosure procedures. By doing so, the feds helped contribute to the current mess, including the widespread freezing of foreclosures which threatens to undermine the housing market.
Now comes word, via the Washington Post, that the feds affirmatively interfered with state regulators who were trying to deal with the situation. State bank regulators, it seems, suspected irregularities and thus asked the biggest national banks for details about their foreclosure operations. When two banks -- J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- declined to cooperate, the state officials asked the banks' federal regulator for help, a letter shows.