Friday, December 10, 2010

Lisa may have to wait awhile

Christmas gift ideas for billionaires: the Robb Report list for the super-rich

Leviev Red Diamonds: starting at £9.6 million. A collection of 13 natural red diamonds, among the rarest gems in the world, and two elaborate rings, each featuring one of the red diamonds and almost 15 carats of exceptional quality white diamonds.

A collection of rare red diamonds worth £9.6 million is perfect for the woman who has everything. The package includes 13 natural red diamonds, among the rarest gems in the world, and two elaborate rings, each featuring one of the red diamonds and almost 15 carats of exceptional quality white diamonds.


Audi R18 Le Mans Prototype Slams The Roof

Audi's new Le Mans LMP1 racecar will be a closed-cockpit model, like rival Peugeot's. The company's R18 debuted earlier today in Ingolstadt and is the key to Audi's bid for a 10th Le Mans 24 win.

Chuck was a great American

Remembering The Man Who Modernized GM Design

Charles M. "Chuck" Jordan died today at the age of 83. He was responsible for overseeing some of GM's most iconic designs.

The Crisis of the American Intellectual (A MF "Best Essay of 2010")

That's the title of Mead's latest. He should have used a more provocative and engaging title, but it's not his style to do so.

Mead is a sort-of open-minded Liberal and an academic. One quote from this excellent piece, which (take note, BD) deserves to be on our Best Essays of the Year thing. A quote:

...the biggest roadblock today is that so many of America’s best-educated, best-placed people are too invested in old social models and old visions of history to do their real job and help society transition to the next level.  Instead of opportunities they see threats; instead of hope they see danger; instead of the possibility of progress they see the unraveling of everything beautiful and true.


Since the late nineteenth century most intellectuals have identified progress with the advance of the bureaucratic, redistributionist and administrative state.  The government, guided by credentialed intellectuals with scientific training and values, would lead society through the economic and political perils of the day.  An ever more powerful state would play an ever larger role in achieving ever greater degrees of affluence and stability for the population at large, redistributing wealth to provide basic sustenance and justice to the poor.  The social mission of intellectuals was to build political support for the development of the new order, to provide enlightened guidance based on rational and scientific thought to policymakers, to administer the state through a merit based civil service, and to train new generations of managers and administrators. The modern corporation was supposed to evolve in a similar way, with business becoming more stable, more predictable and more bureaucratic.

Most American intellectuals today are still shaped by this worldview and genuinely cannot imagine an alternative vision of progress.  It is extremely difficult for such people to understand the economic forces that are making this model unsustainable and to see why so many Americans are in rebellion against this kind of state and society – but if our society is going to develop we have to move beyond the ideas and the institutions of twentieth century progressivism.

And later in his essay:

The foundational assumptions of American intellectuals as a group are firmly based on the assumptions of the progressive state and the Blue Social Model.  Those who run our government agencies, our universities, our foundations, our mainstream media outlets and other key institutions cannot at this point look the future in the face.  The world is moving in ways so opposed to their most hallowed assumptions that they simply cannot make sense of it.  They resist blindly and uncreatively and, unable to appreciate the extraordinary prospects for human liberation that this change can bring, they are incapable of creative and innovative response.

The Great College Degree Scam

At Insty. One quote that he quotes:

...approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled—occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less. Only a minority of the increment in our nation’s stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor’s degree or more.

Calling in the big reinforcements. (This does show me that O understands that if he loses this he is no longer the leader of the Dems.)

Great news: Bill Clinton apparently now president again

Railguns become a reality. Over 600 years of chemical weapons draws to a close and we enter the electromagnetic era.

This Navy Electric Railgun Annihilates Targets 100 Miles Away In Six Minutes

In the near future, US Navy ships won't use explosive cannons. They will destroy targets 100 miles away with the monster 33-megajoules railgun shown in this video. In the words of Rear Admiral Nevin P. Carr: This "really changes several games."

Right now, Navy railguns could only reach targets 13 miles away. The new railgun reaches any target 100 miles away in six minutes using 33-megajoules of energy, an unprecedented tactical advantage over conventional weaponry like cannons and cruise missiles. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the impact, a megajoule is "roughly equivalent to a 1-ton car traveling at 100 mph." Imagine the effect on a target.

According to the program manager at the Office of Naval Research, Roger Ellis, the gun will eventually reach enemy vehicles and structures 200 miles away with perfect accuracy, using a GPS-based targeting system. Ellis also says that "eliminating explosives from the ship, which brings significant safety benefits and logistical benefits." They just need a constant source of energy in the ship, like diesel engines or a nuclear reactor.

Fairy Tale Versus Reality: Why Liberals Hate Obama


James Tarano explains:

Once upon a time, there was a prog. One day a beautiful princess kissed the prog. There was a puff of smoke, and the prog turned into a magical prince. “For the first time in my life, I am proud of my country,” said the beautiful princess. The magical prince went off to battle, and vanquished a wicked queen and a dark lord. His subjects cheered his triumphant return. He reigned beneficently for the rest of his days, using his magical powers to provide care for the sick and jobs to the jobless, end a war and secure his nation as the last, best hope on earth. The rise of the oceans began to slow, the planet began to heal, and they all lived happily ever after. The end.

Wasn’t that a nice fairy tale? Now for some reality:

• ”House Acts to Block Closing of Gitmo”–headline, Washington Times, Dec. 9
• “Rasmussen: Most Want Healthcare Repealed”–headline, United Press International, Dec. 7
• “Obama Defends Tax Deal, but His Party Stays Hostile”–headline, New York Times, Dec. 8
• “U.S. Fiscal Health Worse Than Europe’s: China Adviser”–headline, Reuters, Dec. 8
• “Most Americans Say They’re Worse Off Under Obama, Poll Shows”–headline, Bloomberg, Dec. 9

Thank you, O

New poll indicates 40% of physicians will retire or find other work under ObamaCare

The empty chair

A grand moment from today’s poignant Nobel ceremony, the first since 1936 where neither the Peace Prize winner nor a close relative was permitted to attend. Choosing Liu Xiaobo was the Nobel committee’s way of testing China: After years of economic liberalization, were they ready to make a small concession to political liberalization too? Or would they prefer to follow the Nazi example and keep Liu locked away?

Yes, but that would have been adult thinking.

“If Obama had pushed a one-year suspension of the payroll tax instead of the first stimulus, wouldn’t the country — and Obama – be much better off right now?” That approach was always a non-starter. Insufficient opportunities for graft.

Price of gas

Gates Warns on Failure... Pump prices close in on average $3 a gallon...
FLASHBACK: $1.81 when Obama took office...

Adults: not enough, but a start.

Speaker-to-be Boehner vows to cut Hill budgets by 5%...

Would explain their new interest in capitalism.

US cable: Cuba to be insolvent within 2-3 years...

November federal budget deficit highest on record


WASHINGTON – The federal budget deficit rose to $150.4 billion last month, the largest November gap on record.

Nature never stays the same


Above: Muir and Riggs Glaciers, Muir Inlet, Alaska: 1941, 1950 and 2004

In 1941 (left), Muir Glacier was a large 2,300-foot-thick tidewater glacier that had been retreating since the mid-eighteenth century. Riggs Glacier can be seen in the right of the photo flowing into Muir Glacier, which ends just out of the frame on the right. In the center photo, taken nine years later, Muir Glacier has retreated almost two miles and lost well over 300 feet of ice thickness. It is still connected to Riggs Glacier, and the ridge in the foreground is still bare of vegetation.


Huérfano Butte, Santa Rita Experimental Range, Southern Arizona: 1902, 1941 and 2007

In 1902, photographer David Griffiths' horse-drawn buggy sits in front of Huérfano Butte on grassland with a few hackberry plants in the photo on the left. By 1941 in the center photo, the cholla cactus and new mesquite plants have appeared. The cholla is outnumbered by prickly pear cactus and more mesquite has moved in.

The “student” title is bogus. These are not students. They are part of the hard left.

A car carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall has been attacked by protesters amid worsening violence that has followed victory for the Government in the crucial tuition fees vote.

Royal car attack: 'someone could have been shot'

Armed officers showed restraint as mob shouting "chop off their heads" targeted royal couple, chief says.

Political Cartoon by Gary Varvel

GW: The Fraud is exposed and the scientist know it.

More than 1,000 dissenting scientists (updates previous 700 scientist report) from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 2010 321-page Climate Depot Special Report — updated from the 2007 groundbreaking U.S. Senate Report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming "consensus" — features the skeptical voices of over 1,000 international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. This updated 2010 report includes a dramatic increase of over 300 additional (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the last update in March 2009.

Selected highlights from the report [PDF]:

"Any reasonable scientific analysis must conclude the basic theory wrong!!" — NASA Scientist Dr. Leonard Weinstein who worked 35 years at the NASA Langley Research Center and finished his career there as a Senior Research Scientist. Weinstein is presently a Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace.
"Please remain calm: The Earth will heal itself — Climate is beyond our power to control… Earth doesn't care about governments or their legislation. You can't find much actual global warming in present-day weather observations. Climate change is a matter of geologic time, something that the earth routinely does on its own without asking anyone's permission or explaining itself." — Nobel Prize-Winning Stanford University Physicist Dr. Robert B. Laughlin, who won the Nobel Prize for physics in 1998, and was formerly a research scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

"In essence, the jig is up. The whole thing is a fraud. And even the fraudsters that fudged data are admitting to temperature history that they used to say didn't happen… Perhaps what has doomed the Climategate fraudsters the most was their brazenness in fudging the data" — Dr. Christopher J. Kobus, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oakland University, specializes in alternative energy, thermal transport phenomena, two-phase flow and fluid and thermal energy systems.

"Hundreds of billion dollars have been wasted with the attempt of imposing a Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) theory that is not supported by physical world evidences… AGW has been forcefully imposed by means of a barrage of scare stories and indoctrination that begins in the elementary school textbooks." — Brazilian Geologist Geraldo Luís Lino, who authored the 2009 book "The Global Warming Fraud: How a Natural Phenomenon Was Converted into a False World Emergency."

New Camera-Toting iPad Coming in 2011, Parts Suppliers Say

The Apple iPad, a $499 device for surfing the Web, reading e-books, watching movies and more, is the most high-profile entry to the emerging class of tablet computers.


The Apple iPad, a $499 device for surfing the Web, reading e-books, watching movies and more, is the most high-profile entry to the emerging class of tablet computers.

One of those said the revamped model would feature cameras on the front and rear, while the other said the new model would be slimmer, lighter and have a better resolution display.

Noonan: From Audacity to Animosity: No President Has Alienated His Base the Way Obama Has.

We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn't much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday's press conference.

Mr. Obama said, essentially, that he hates the deal he just agreed to, hates the people he made the deal with, and hates even more the people who'll criticize it. His statement was startling in the breadth of its animosity. Republicans are "hostage takers" who worship a "holy grail" of "tax cuts for the wealthy." "That seems to be their central economic doctrine."

Neil Armstrong Explains Why He Didn't Run Wild on the Moon

Neil Armstrong Explains Why He Didn't Run Wild on the Moon.

When Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon in 1969, neither one ever strayed more than 100 yards from the lunar lander. NPR writer Robert Krulwich questioned why this happened in a story yesterday. Today, Armstrong replied.

You see, according to Armstrong, it was hot out there. Real hot. Like 200 degrees farhenheit hot. And because their space suits made use of a cutting edge water cooling system that hadn't been tested extensively, they had no idea how long the suits would hold up.

Also, they were lab rats for NASA, which meant that they had to stay within range of the video camera, so that NASA could study and observe their interactions with the environment for future reference. But Armstrong didn't do it all by the book...he managed to sneak away into a nearby crater for explorative purposes.

The education bubble in pictures

Thought I'd spend a few minutes looking at the website of my alma mater, Stephen F. Austin State University. A lot has changed in the past 20 years!
My crappy (that is being kind) old dorm was torn down a few years ago. This replaced it.
New racquetball courts.
Nice spas.
A modest rock climbing gym.
SFA is even offering massage services. Perfect for busy 19-year-olds to find center after a productive Saturday night of hard drinking.
Millions of taxpayer dollars, and not a cent is relevant to educating these students for professional careers.

This puts the Ryan plan squarely on the table. Now other Repubs will have weigh in as well. (Give Palin credit: the safe move would have been to keep talking about how bad the Dems are. This is a shot about the future and her role.)


Why I Support Paul Ryan’s Roadmap. “Put simply: Our country is on the path toward bankruptcy. We must turn around before it’s too late, and the Roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so. But it does more than just fend off disaster. CBO calculations show that the Roadmap would also help create a ‘much more favorable macroeconomic outlook”‘for the next half-century. The CBO estimates that under the Roadmap, by 2058 per-person GDP would be around 70% higher than the current trend.”

What Exactly Is Paul Ryan’s Road Map?

Now that Sarah Palin is backing Paul Ryan’s road map, here’s the summary of the road map I posted a few weeks ago:

Major Plan Components.

Health Care. The plan ensures universal access to affordable health insurance by restructuring the tax code, allowing all Americans to secure affordable health plans that best suits their needs, and shifting the ownership of health coverage away from the government and employers to individuals.

- Provides a refundable tax credit – $2,300 for individuals and $5,700 for families – to purchase coverage in any State, and keep it with them if they move or change jobs.

- Establishes transparency in health care price and quality data, so this critical information is readily available before an individual needs health services.

- Modernizes Medicaid and strengthens the health care safety net by reforming high-risk pools, giving States maximum flexibility to tailor Medicaid programs to the specific needs of their populations. Allows Medicaid recipients to take part in the same variety of options by using the tax credit to purchase high-quality care.

Medicare. The Roadmap secures Medicare for current beneficiaries, while making common-sense reforms to keep it solvent for the long term.

- Preserves the existing Medicare program for those 55 or older.

- For those currently under 55 – as they become Medicare-eligible – creates a Medicare payment averaging $11,000 per year when fully phased in. Adjusts the payment for inflation, and pegs it to income, with low-income individuals receiving greater support. Provides risk adjustment, so those with greater medical needs receive a higher payment.

- In addition to the Medicare payment, establishes and fully funds Medical Savings Accounts [MSAs] for low-income beneficiaries (to cover out-of-pocket costs), while continuing to allow all beneficiaries, regardless of income, to set up tax-free MSAs.

- Makes Medicare permanently solvent, based on Congressional Budget Office [CBO] estimates and consultation with the Office of the Actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Social Security. The proposal saves and strengthens this important retirement program and makes it sustainable for the long term.

- Preserves the existing Social Security program for those 55 or older.

- Offers workers under 55 the option of investing over one third of their current Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts, similar to the Thrift Savings Plan available to Federal employees. Includes a property right so they can pass on these assets to their heirs, and a guarantee that individuals will not lose a dollar they contribute to their accounts, even after inflation.

- Makes the program permanently solvent, according to the CBO, by combining a more realistic measure of growth in Social Security’s initial benefits, with a gradual, modest increase in the retirement age, consistent with Americans’ improving lifespans.

Tax Reform. This plan offers an alternative to today’s needlessly complex and inefficient tax code, providing the option of a simplified mechanism that better promotes and rewards work, saving, and investment.

- Provides taxpayers a choice of how to pay their income taxes – through existing law, or through a highly simplified code that fits on a postcard with just two rates and virtually no special tax deductions, credits, or exclusions (except the health care tax credit).

- Simplifies tax rates to 10 percent on income up to $100,000 for joint filers, and $50,000 for single filers; and 25 percent on taxable income above these amounts. Also includes a generous standard deduction and personal exemption (totaling $39,000 for a family of four).

- Eliminates the alternative minimum tax [AMT].

- Promotes saving by eliminating taxes on interest, capital gains, and dividends; also eliminates the death tax.

- Replaces the corporate income tax – currently the second highest in the industrialized world – with a border-adjustable business consumption tax of 8.5 percent. This new rate is roughly half that of the rest of the industrialized world.

The Constitution. Serious People are worried.

Crony car capitalism

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal's Dennis Berman reported on last month's conference convened at Stanford Law School to address the the legality of the historic financial bailouts of 2008 and 2009. (Here is the lineup.) Even the most liberal proponent of the government's TARP authority had a problem with the bailout of GM and Chyrsler:

[Columbia University] Prof. [Gillian] Metzger seemed skeptical of the U.S. involvement in another controversial constitutional issue: the GM and Chrysler rescues. Begun with short-term loans by President Bush, they were formed into full-fledged TARP bailouts in early 2009, eventually totaling nearly $80 billion in assistance for the car companies and related finance arms.

That assistance was originally designated by Congress to go to "financial institutions" as "established and regulated" under U.S. law. The law makes express mention of banks, credit unions, insurers and broker-dealers.

It doesn't, however, come close to naming industrial companies as beneficiaries. And that appeared to make it a different matter for Prof. Metzger, who wondered aloud about the legality of instances when "the executive branch engages in aggressive interpretation of statutory authority in ways that Congress prohibited."

[University of Virginia Prof. Saikrishna] Prakash said the auto bailouts were illegal, arguing that the Bush and Obama administrations said TARP didn't cover autos "until they decided they did." It is one thing to broadly interpret an emergency, another to violate specific language. "There is no suggestion that you can bail out any institution in the nation just because you've got the word 'institution' in the language," Prof. Prakash said. Some Chrysler creditors tried to bring a case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the car maker's government-controlled bankruptcy subverted the usual bankruptcy rules. The court declined to hear the case.

Berman refers disparagingly to "the likes of Sarah Palin" who deride TARP for "morphing into crony capitalism at its worst." Yet that appears to be an astute judgment of the case, as Gary Jason documents in "Crony car capitalism."

It is all about the sun, not man.

Cancun temps plunge to 100-year record low -- during 'global warming' summit!

No story here, Dept

Surprise: Assange’s hideout in the UK was … a journalists’ club