Monday, March 31, 2014

Doctor of Pornography?

Porn Studies

Why porn studies? Why now? As the editors of Porn Studies explain, in typical academese: The field “has taken on a new urgency and significance given the continued position of pornography at the centre of controversies around media, gender, sexuality and technology. Pornographies, their spread, their imageries, their imaginaries and their consumption always have a high profile, but in the past decade or so, interest in pornography has grown exponentially – with a concomitant increase in claims about porn’s effects, both positive and negative.” The Globe and Mail

With a Minor in Positionality

Think I'm kidding? Here's the place to start building your academic library.  Might I suggest you start with "Hard to Swallow: hardcore pornography on screen", and no, I didn't make that title up.

Pornography remains undertheorized. In the public sphere, there are very few serious ideas about what porn is or how it works or what it means to us, beside from the obvious.   The Atlantic

I have to agree with Margaret Wente

Personally, I think civilization as we know it will probably survive unreadable academic discourses on anal sex and torture porn. I’m aware that this self-indulgent garbage makes up just a teeny-tiny part of the worthy and important enterprise known as higher education. What bothers me is the utter collapse of seriousness and rigour, and the utter inability of top administrators and granting agencies to put a halt to what is essentially a con job on the public. The Globe and Mail

It certainly gives a new look on the ivory towers of academia


Sunday, March 30, 2014


House Passes Bill Without the Votes Needed to Pass

And how did they do that you might wonder? They did it under a suspension of the rules, by a voice vote, with very few members present. The bill was gavelled through just as the House came into session Thursday afternoon in a mostly empty chamber.

What they voted on was irrelevant

I've specifically avoided mention of the subject of the bill as what I wanted to address was the tactic, a bipartisan tactic executed by the leadership of both parties in a move that was a surprise to most of the members of the House.

Leadership opted to bring the bill straight to the floor “under suspension of the rules,” meaning it needed a two-thirds vote to pass — a higher threshold than the normal simple majority. But it was not clear that a sufficient number of votes could be found.  Shortly after noon, the bill was passed by voice vote, with the chair — Republican Rep. Steve Womack — deciding that two-thirds of the very few members in the room had said “aye.” Most members were unaware the vote was taking place and missed it, as did quite a few reporters. Daily Caller
John Dingle (D) "I’ve seen a lot of dumb things, but I’ve never seen anything quite as comical as this"

Mick Mulvaney (R) "Bullshit"

Lynn Westmoreland (R) “No one objected. No one was there to object,”

Frank Pallone (D) "This bill is bad for seniors and it's bad for doctors "

Welcome to the Banana Republic of the United States where a handful of people actually get to make the laws through trickery and deceit.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Sessions: The Avett Brothers

Is it right for a man to love another man?

I am in love with the Avett Brothers.  They've been releasing music for over ten years, but I just discovered them a few years back, thanks to a friend of my oldest daughter.  There may be hope yet for her generation if some of them are listening to such soulful and genuine music.

Their latest release, Magpie and the Dandelion, saw the song Another is Waiting get some good airplay (on the alternative station, anyway, which is all I listen to), and the album reached #1 and has been on the Folk chart since its debut 22 weeks ago.

Here is what I think will be the next hit from that album:

They inspired me to take up the banjo again, and my only regret is that I can't get any of the other musicians in my family to pick up the guitar, banjo, or fiddle, and I can only play one instrument at once.  My son is into classical, but he can play a good doghouse bass, and my youngest daughter stubbornly clings to the piano and stopped trying to learn guitar because it hurt her fingers.  To her credit, she does want to play fiddle, but her arms are still to short for a full size, and that's all we have in this house.

Anyway, we have fun singing their songs together, and we sound pretty good, and she can knock out a pretty good keyboard solo on Family of the Year's song, Hero, which we also sound pretty good on.

Here's an Avett Brothers interview that gives you a good picture of who they are and where they are coming from:

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Other Six Days

“You can’t have a belief system on Sunday and not live it the other six days.” ~ David Green
David Green has one of America’s great, little-known fortunes, having turned a makeshift manufacturing operation in his living room for arts and crafts into a retail monster, with 520 superstores in 42 states with 23,000 employees. Green and his family own 100% of the company and he ranks No. 79 on Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $4.5 billion. 

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”.  

Green keeps the total amount of his charitable contributions private, but based on information received from him and discussion with various recipients, FORBES estimates his lifetime giving at upwards of $500 million.  Forbes

The Issue at Hand ~ Religious Freedom

“If you have anything or if I have anything, it’s because it’s been given to us by our Creator,”
There is no litmus test for religious freedom.  The issue isn't whether or not David Green is right or wrong, reasonable or not, but whether or not he has the freedom to run his private corporation in accordance with his own beliefs.

David Green hasn't suddenly found religion at the feet of Obamacare, he has been running his business this way since its founding in 1972.  Hobby Lobby is not a Public Corporation, it is a family owned business.  That it is a corporation is irrelevant, it is not a public corporation and no one in their right mind holds this size of business in their own name.

“A religious individual may enter the for-profit realm intending to demonstrate to the marketplace that a corporation can succeed financially while adhering to religious values, As a court, we do not see how we can distinguish this form of evangelism from any other.” 10th Circuit Court

The Other Six Days

Hobby Lobby starts its full time employees $14.00 an hour, well above the federal mandated minimum wage and their part-time employees at $9.50.  Their 13,000 full-time employees had insurance long before Obamacare. The company is closed on Sunday, Christmas, and Easter and takes out ads proclaiming Jesus Christ the Lord and Savior.  Hobby Lobby takes half of its pre-tax earnings and donates them to a portfolio of evangelical ministries.  The company is set up such that in the event of a sale or liquidation 90% of the profits will go to charity while only 10% will go into a generational trust for the health and education of family members.

“My grandkids can’t say, ‘I own 5% and I own 10,’ and then all of a sudden they’re sitting on a yacht,” says Green.

In short, Hobby Lobby doesn't behave like other corporations... it is run in accordance with David Green's religious beliefs, do we really want it to start acting like Wal-Mart or McDonald's?

Another important thing to remember is this, unlike a publicly traded company it only takes 1 vote to close Hobby Lobby for good, David Green's.  David Green doesn't have to provide anything in violation of his beliefs, he can simply fire 23,000 people.  Which is what I would do if the government tried to make me do something in violation of my beliefs, I don't think David Green would go there, I think he would believe that to be wrong, but I'm a libertarian not an evangelical.

American Prospect

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The European Order of Battle

Regional Power, My Ass.

The Russian military is ranked 2nd in the world after the United States.  President Obama dismissed Russia out of hand as a "regional power", but are they? Or better yet... do they need to be anything more?  I doubt Russia has any designs on American territory, or even western European territory.  The Russian focus is on eastern Europe, the near east, and the far east, its self-identified sphere of influence.

The Russian military has an active end strength of nearly a million men, a mix of career military and conscripts.  Their reserve forces number roughly 2.5 million.  By comparison the United States has an active end strength of 1.4 million with reserve forces of 850,000.

Numbers will appear Russia/US: 

Manpower: 3,000,000/ 2,250,000
Tanks: 15,500/8,235
Armored Fighting Vehicles: 27,607/25,782
Self Propelled Guns: 5,990/1,934
Towed Artillery: 4,625/1,791
Rocket Projectors (MLRS): 3,781/1,330
Total Aircraft:  3,082/13,683
Helicopters: 973/6,012
Aircraft Carriers: 1/10
Frigates: 4/15
Destroyers: 13/62
Corvettes: 74/0
Submarines: 63/72
Coastal Craft: 65/13
Mine Warfare: 34/13

Another consideration is that armies run on petroleum.  Russia produces 11 million barrels a day and consumes 2.2 million barrels a day.  The United States produces 8.5 million barrels a day and consumes 19 million barrels a day. The United States naval forces are designed around force projection, in the event of a European land war the vast majority of them would be tied up in protecting the petroleum supply, which the Russians are well equipped to disrupt. 

Another consideration is that all of the Russian forces are in, or convenient to, a European land war,  American forces are not.  Consider tanks, the Russians have 15,500, the United States currently has 22 in Europe.

What about NATO?

Lets take a look at the big 3 NATO members the UK, France, and Germany.  The Numbers will be presented in that order.

Manpower: 387,330/424,426/328,000
Tanks: 407/423/408
Armored Fighting Vehicles: 6,245/7,290/4,279
Self Propelled Guns: 89/149/185
Towed Artillery: 138/750/0
Rocket Projectors (MLRS): 56/60/252
Total Aircraft: 908/1,203/710 
Helicopters: 362/561/401
Aircraft Carriers:1/1/0
Frigates: 13/22/12
Coastal Craft: 24/14/8
Mine Warfare: 15/18/15

UK produces 1.1 million barrels a day, consumes 1.7 million barrels.  France produces 70,800 barrels a day, consumes 1.9 million barrels. Germany produces 157,000 barrels a day, consumes 2.5 million.  These numbers are also with the consumption of Russian gas,  what will happen when Russia turns of the tap?


The first logical choice for Russia, if it wishes to return former Soviet states to its fold is to knock off the non-Nato aligned former Soviet states.  It currently has >30,000 troops poised on the border of Ukraine and we all know they're not there to fend off a possible Ukrainian invasion of Russia.  The deputy speaker of the Duma (lower house) has already suggested a return to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact division of the Ukraine in letters to Poland, Romania, Hungary.

World War III

The first thing that is readily noticeable about any future conflict is that the west is heavily dependent upon imported POL.  The first thing the Russians will do is disrupt that flow, either through interdiction (recall the Atlantic convoys of WWII) or through direct disruption.  The Russians can and will invade or threaten to invade the middle east, tying up western forces there.  Putin is not as stupid as Hitler, this is what the German Army wanted to do, instead of attacking Russia and had it done it, WWII may have had a very different outcome.

The second thing you will notice is that we have a preponderance of aircraft.  This follows the western theory of warfare in that the first thing you need to establish is air superiority.  This will work out well for us in the initial stages of the land war... that is until the petroleum runs out.  The other thing that you will notice is that Russia can disrupt our POL supplies without directly attacking us, we can not disrupt theirs without attacks on Russian territory, throw in the nuclear card and you can see the restraint that throws into the politics.  Western forces will be reluctant to stage attacks directly on Russian soil barring direct invasion of the core (western European) NATO members, my apologies to the Balkans.

The third thing you will notice is that Russia has the preponderance of men and mechanized ground forces, and is better equipped for amphibious operations.  When air superiority is neutralized by interruption of the POL supply lines, this will be the deciding factor on the ground.  Russia is well equipped and well poised to restore Europe to its pre-1991 borders.

A fourth consideration is, given a European ground war, will Russia even need to take any independent action to disrupt POL supplies.  Syria and Iran may well be willing to do it for them while the US and NATO is otherwise preoccupied.  Even then, all it would take is one nuclear false flag operation to disrupt the western economies for years to come.  While we could undoubtedly prove Russian fissile material was used in the device, we could probably never prove it was the Russians that set it off. In all likelihood it would be attributed to Muslim extremists or Iran, plausible deniability. Hell, he might even set it off on Iranian territory... and frame oops! Iran for it.

Take it with a grain of salt

This is just one cold warrior's top-level analysis.  It is what I would do if I were Putin and if I wanted to restore Russia to its former Soviet era glory by going to war.  Take out the non-NATO aligned states and wait for western reaction.  Disrupt the middle-east oil supply prior to staging any additional hostile action.  Invade the former Soviet NATO states.  All it takes is a set of brass ones, and we are in no position to stop it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You Can't Fight In Here, This is the War Room!

Gandhi Would Be Proud

Troops at one of the last major Ukrainian bases in Crimea defiantly sang their national anthem on Saturday as Russian forces stormed their compound and demanded their surrender.  As the Russian force, bristling with heavy machine guns, over-ran the base, the Ukrainians realized it was pointless to try to fight back. Instead, they lined up on the parade ground and burst into song as the intruders held them at gunpoint.

American Thinker 


Ratcheting up the pressure on Russia, Chicago threatens to suspend sister-city agreement with Moscow.  Now at least four Chicago alderman — including Ald. Edward Burke (14th) — have endorsed the resolution suspending the Sister Cities agreement with Moscow.  I'm sure Putin's reconsidering his actions as you read this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Reasonable Response


Welcome to Königsberg

Now known as Kaliningrad, the Kaliningrad Oblast is an exclave of Russia completely surrounded by the EU states of Lithuania and Poland on the Baltic Sea. See the little red spot on the far left of the first map, that's Kaliningrad.  The formerly Prussian and German city of Königsberg was a gift to Stalin at the end of WWII.  It is home to the HQ of the Russian Baltic Fleet, in Kaliningrad and Baltiysk (Formerly the German City of Pillau), is the only Russian Navy port on the Baltic that is ice-free year round.

Are your Economic Sanctions Being Laughed At?

Close the land borders between Lithuania, Poland, and Kaliningrad.  No rail, no road, no gas pipelines, no electricity... nothing crosses those borders.  Let the Russian government feel the pain of resupplying their Baltic fleet entirely by sea or air. It doesn't require military force, it doesn't directly impact the Russian people themselves, and it can be accomplished in its entirety by two EU and NATO members.

Just A Thought

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Great Pension Lie

Public pensions eating taxpayers alive

Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe published an article Sunday about how the mean pensioners are devastating not only the poor of this country...

the “startling injustice” of poor and working-class taxpayers forced to make do with less and less so that the gold-plated pensions of public-sector retirees, which already gobble an outsize share of government budgets, can keep devouring more and more. 
But also the progressive agenda...

Dismay at that injustice is increasingly bipartisan, as it becomes clear that liberal priorities will die on the vine without pension reform. 

He goes on to describe the horrors and burden of public sector pensions.

And how much is a full-career public employee pension worth in dollars and cents? In the average state, those lifetime retirement benefits — again, not including health coverage — have a present value worth $768,940. In many states, they’re worth even more — $848,735 in Massachusetts, for example, and more than $1.3 million in Nevada.  

The Great Lie

I call this a lie not because the public pension burden is fictitious, but because Jacoby makes it out like it the pensioners are getting something for nothing, or something that all of us public or private can't get. He makes it out like the pensioners are at fault, are guilty of some 'startling' crime.

A Simple IRA invested in over a lifetime at the maximum $5500 contribution rate will be worth roughly $375,000 after a lifetime of work and investment at today's 5-yr rate of 1.45%

A 401K investing 10% of a 40,000/yr annual salary without employer matching would be worth $1,250,504

A 401K investing 10% of a 40,000/yr annual salary with employer matching would be worth $1,625,555

Both those 401K investments are calculated at a mere 7% rate of return. Boost that to the historical 9.6% and those two accounts inflate to $2,684,446 and $3,489,780 respectively, far outstripping Nevada's horrifying 1.3 million dollar burden.

The Greatest Robbery of All Time

The biggest lie of all time is transferring the blame and responsibility for the crisis onto the pensioners.  As illustrated  above, the problem isn't that some great financial crisis that wiped out all the wealth, it is the greatest robbery of all time... Uncle Sam has been raiding the piggy bank for the last fifty years and is now left empty handed with a sheepish look on his face.

The reason "poor and working-class taxpayers forced to make do with less and less" has nothing to do with the "gold-plated pensions of public-sector retirees" and everything to do with politicians robbing us blind for the money to buy our votes.

You didn't think they were spending their own money, did you?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Would We Honor Our Commitments?

The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.


24.8% Russian, but Harju County is 36% Russian and Ida-Viru is 70% Russian.


26.9% Russian, but Daugavpils is 54%, Rēzekne 46.5, and even Riga, Latvia's capital is 40% Russian.


Russification is a form of cultural assimilation process during which non-Russian communities, voluntarily or not, give up their culture and language in favor of the Russian one.   One example of 19th century Russification was the replacement of the Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, and Belarusian languages by Russian in those areas.  This was a common practice during the Soviet Era, with mass deportations, reeducation, and forced schooling in Russian. It also explains large Russian populations in places like Kazakhstan.

So the question is...

When Putin moves again to "protect" the next group of Russian speakers, and he will move again, what are we going to do?  Are we going to war for Estonia or Latvia?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Sessions: Dire Straits

Here's a blast from the late 70's, early 80's.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Personification of Ineptitude

Photo Courtesy of Deputy Russian Prime Minister

In an interview with NBC station KNSD San Diego, President Barack Obama ruled out a "military excursion" by the United States in Ukraine, saying that engaging Russia militarily "would not be appropriate." In a separate interview with KSDK in St Louis, Obama reiterated that a military option is not on the table.

I'd Love to play Poker with this guy...

Uh... I only have two fours, can I have three cards?  Now before you liberals get your panties all twisted and knotted up, I'm not advocating military action in the Ukraine.  We are not going to go to war over Crimea, I know it, you know it, Putin knows it, but our President doesn't need to do six television news interviews to confirm it.  It's like putting your house up for sale for $300,000 and taking out an ad saying "House for Sale, $300,000... won't take less than $250,000".  In negotiations, you don't inform the other side of what you're willing or not willing to do.  Here's a brief simple lesson for our President:

Congratulations Mr. President

You just told Putin all you're holding is a pair of twos. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Breaking News in Search for MH370

Western Hero Exclusive:

It has recently come to our attention that the following passengers on Flight MH370 were traveling together and have been identified.

 If you have any information as to their intentions or whereabouts please contact Western Hero immediately.

First for those not aware of who these two people are, the first is Carmen Sandiego of Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego fame, the second is Waldo (Wally for those of you not in the US or Canada) of Where's Waldo.

One of our digital competitors, Tomnod, is hosting online satellite imagery enabling ordinary folks like you to participate in the search for MH370.  Not wanting to be outdone, Western Hero is going by the theory that if you find the passengers you find the plane, so we offer this up to you our readers for examination:

Please help us find Waldo, and thus the plane.

Seriously though...

Isn't this getting a bit ridiculous?  Yesterday it was a "remote stretch of ocean off Australia", the day before it was the Maldives, before that it was off the coast of India...the Malacca Strait... the Andaman Islands... the South China Sea.  I feel like I'm watching a modern remake of the Keystone Cops.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Science is Settled

Photo by Nephron


Saturated Fat Doesn't Cause Heart Disease


Say What?


A Cambridge University study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine rebukes 40 years of advice.

There is no link between saturated fat and heart disease.

"Healthy" polyunsaturated fats don't prevent heart disease.

The dairy fat, Margaric Acid "significantly reduces" the risk of heart disease,

Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA along with Omega 6 arachidonic acid reduces risk but Omega-3 and Omega-6 supplements showed no benefit.

Poor diet driven by the over consumption of processed foods is responsible for more than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking.

Daily Mail  

See ya later, I'm going to go sit on my ass, eat a pound of bacon in cream gravy, down a fifth of Jack, and smoke a pack of Lucky Strikes... I'm kidding, there's no way I could eat a pound of bacon. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014



Dude! Where's my Crimea?

Crimean Prime Mister Sergey Aksyonov tweeted the above photograph of President Obama in a Russian military uniform.  Nothing like a little R-S-P-E-C-T!

It turns out the "Severe Sanctions" hanging over Moscow like the Sword of Damocles turns out to be travel bans on seven Russians and 4 Ukrainians.  Word is you can hear the laughter from Sarah Palin's backyard.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin called Obama a prankster.

"Russia is the only country in the world realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,"

Dmitry Kiselyov said on the state controlled Rossiya 1 television network to reinforce his comment that the United States and President Barack Obama were living in fear of Russia led by President Vladimir Putin.

There is only one possible response to that comment:


Food for Thought


Imperial County California has a higher percentage of Hispanics than Crimea does of Russians.  Fortunately polls show a higher chance of them seceding and joining Arizona than Mexico.

Just sayin'

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Daoibh

Sit down, have a pint, and rest awhile...


Aaron Keys

Colcannon - Alison Cassidy

Miss Ayumi

The traditional Irish dish of Bacon and Cabbage was transformed in America to Corned Beef and Cabbage, Irish bacon not being readily available.



Happy St Patrick's Day

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war
The dogs of war won't negotiate
The dogs of war don't capitulate,
They will take and you will give,
And you must die so that they may live

Russian Democracy Comes to the Ukraine

Reuters - Daily Mail
On the eve of the referendum vote in Crimea, Russian forces seized the town of Strilkove in Kherson outside of Crimea and its natural gas distribution facility.  Meanwhile Balaclava masked members of the Berkut are here to assist you in your vote:

1. Are you in favor of the reunification of Crimea with Russia as a part of the Russian Federation?

2. Are you in favor of restoring the 1992 Constitution and the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

Reuters - Daily Mail


Retaining Crimea’s current status,  is not an option. NYT

Here is a little light music to vote by:

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text,”  John Kerry

Really? I'd like to ask John Kerry, who told you the rules had changed?   Where power, wealth, or land can be seized by force absent resistance it will be, and no amount of idyllic utopian dreaming is going to change that basic premise. 

The problems with pacifism aren't pacifists, it's everybody else.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Finger Picking Good

Estas Tonne: Song of the Golden Dragon

 Andrea Valeri: These Boots Are Made For Walking

Michael Chapdelaine: Bach Prelude 1

Friday, March 14, 2014


Photo: Shal Farley


NJ Bans Direct Sales


Governor Chris Christie’s administration blocked Tesla Motors, the electric-car maker that doesn’t have franchised retail dealers, from direct auto sales in a move the company said could shutter its only two stores in New Jersey.  Bloomberg

The state’s motor vehicle commission voted Tuesday to ban automakers from selling cars directly to consumers, instead requiring them to work through franchised dealers, a rule supported by the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers (NJCAR). Fox

The change will force Tesla to close its existing sales operations in the state and layoff 27 employees, according to documents posted to the commission's website.  CNN

Tesla will stop selling cars in New Jersey on April 1.  Like many other dealer groups across the country, New Jersey dealers did not want Tesla to be able to sell cars directly to customers.  Two other states that have banned Tesla from direct sales are Arizona and Texas. Forbes

You're too stupid and must be protected by the State


Let's cut the crap here.  Banning direct sales has nothing to do with protecting the consumer and everything to do with protecting a contributing special interest group, the NJCAR in this case.  The State has no legitimate reason to tell me who I must buy from or how I must buy, as if I'm competent enough to afford a $70,000 dollar automobile yet am somehow unable to rationally decide for myself if I am willing to buy sans dealership middleman.  This is Crony Crapitalism at its worst and it's why there is no way in hell I will ever vote for Chris Christie.  One wonders if it was Ford and not niche automaker Tesla, that Christie's administration would be singing a different tune.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What's in a name?

Growing up...

... this was what I considered  to be Parmesan cheese.  It was always in our kitchen, it was what we put on spaghetti, my mother's macaroni casserole.  Garlic bread back then didn't have cheese on it, so we didn't use it there.  Really nothing more than a cardboard tube with a yellow lid full of a yummy product somewhat reminiscent of sawdust.  I can't honestly recall the last time I ever used it.

Photo: Zerohund


... this is what I expect my 'Parmesan' cheese to look like.  Grated at the table over a mind-blowing variety of pastas and cheeses we never dreamed of when we were kids;  Asiago d'allevo, Crotonese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino di Romagna, to name a few.

 A Rose by any other name...

As part of trade talks, the European Union wants to ban the use of European names like Parmesan, feta and Gorgonzola on cheese made in the United States.  The Europeans say Parmesan should only come from Parma, Italy, not those familiar green cylinders that American companies sell. Feta should only be from Greece, even though feta isn't a place. MSN Money

What do you think? Should Kraft be able to manufacture and sell "Parmesan" cheese in the United States?  Should "Feta" be restricted solely to cheeses made in Greece? 

Wine has its Terroir, where geography, geology, and climate have a distinct influence on the taste and outcome of the final product. A Burgundy made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in Burgandy tastes differently than a Burgundy made from Pinot Noir grapes grown in California (or so I'm told... I can't really tell the difference with wine, but I can make a pretty good guess when it comes to Scotch).  Should cheeses and other products have a PDO or Protected Designation of Origin?  Does it matter if you make Parmesan cheese in Parma vs. Utica?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Senate Accuses CIA of Spying


That headline should be funny


But it isn't:


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of secretly removing documents, searching committee-used computers and attempting to intimidate Congressional investigators by requesting an FBI probe of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John O. Brennan disputed vigorously within hours of Feinstein’s extraordinary appearance on the Senate floor. Washington Post

"I have grave concerns that the CIA's search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied by the United States Constitution, including the speech and debate clause," she said.  "It may have undermined the Constitutional framework essential to effective congressional oversight of intelligence activity or any other government function.  The search may also have violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and an executive order that prohibits the CIA from conducting domestic searches or surveillance.

No Shit? 


The American intelligence community violating the Constitution?  Who'd have thunk?  A better question for Senator Feinstein may be, given all of the revelations about the American intelligence community's activities, why does this surprise you?

Who us?

"We weren't trying to block anything," Brennan said. "The matter is being dealt with in an appropriate way, being looked at by the right authorities, and the facts will come out," he added.  "But let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate." NBC News


USN Vice Admiral Mike Rogers who has been tapped by Obama as the next head of the NSA responded to Senate questions for his confirmation hearing with:

"The telephone metadata program under Section 215 was designed to map the communications of terrorists so we can see who they may be in contact with as quickly as possible.  I believe that we need to maintain an ability to make queries of phone records in a way that is agile and provides results in a timely fashion. Being able to quickly review phone connections associated with terrorists to assess whether a network exists is critical.  I welcome dialogue"

Dialogue? How about "No"!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Happened to FLT 370?

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Boeing 777-200 took off from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (Friday afternoon ET). It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. the same day, after a 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) journey. But around 1:30 a.m., air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane as it was flying over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Crawling out of the Woodwork

From Wikipedia: The aircraft was a Boeing 777-2H6ER, serial number 28420, registration 9M-MRO. The 404th Boeing 777 produced, it first flew on 14 May 2002, and was delivered new to Malaysia Airlines on 31 May 2002.

An HTTP 404 error means "not found", and this is the 404th Boeing 777 produced.
Theories abound... from Terrorism and Catastrophic Systems Failure to Space Aliens and the Chinese version of the Bermuda Triangle.

Have at it

What are your theories on the disappearance of FLT 370

Monday, March 10, 2014

And the Frontrunners are...

Rand Paul - 31%

Ted Cruz - 11%

Photo by Gage Skidmore
 Ben Carson 9%


These are the results of the CPAC/Washington Times straw poll.  Rand Paul increased his performance from last year, climbing 6%, Ted Cruz also improved over last year rising 7%.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie improved slightly from 7% to 8% finishing fourht.  Marco Rubio plunged from a 23% second place finish last year down to only 6% this year and Paul Ryan fell from 6% to 3%.

Of course these results are far more reflective of the 2,459 CPAC attendees that participated than Republican voters in general.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What if CO2 is a Good Thing?

Stephen Hudson

The Huronian Ice Age lasted from 2400 to 2100 million years ago, 300 million years.  The Cryogenian Ice Age lasted from 800 to 635 million years ago, 165 million years. The Andean-Saharan Ice Age lasted from 450 to 420 million years, 30 million years. The Karoo Ice Age lasted from 360 to 260 million years, 100 million years.

Welcome to the Ice Age

Welcome to the Quaternary Ice Age, it began 2.58 million years ago.  But when did it end? You may ask... it hasn't.  We are in the Quaternary Ice Age.  The current interglacial period began about 11,800 years ago and is probably (worst case) due to end in the next 1500 years, some say 2000 years, best case... a few millennia. When people talk about the next ice age, they don't really mean the next ice age, they mean the next period of glaciation in this ice age.

But wait! Rome fell 1500 years ago, just a blink of an eye.


Some anthropomorphic global warming activists think we ought to be performing geo-engineering to get the atmospheric CO2 levels back down to a normal 200-300 ppm, but is that wise?  If we can get atmospheric CO2 up to about 750 ppm we might, just might push the next glaciation off by about 50,000 years.

David Archer, a computational ocean chemist and professor of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago, is a published researcher on the carbon cycle of the ocean and seafloor.  He seems to think that if we could get our hands on all the fossil fuels on earth, releasing 5000 Gigatons of carbon dioxide we might, just might be able to push the next period of glaciation off by 500,000 years.  We can't stop it mind you, only delay it.

Just something to chew on

What is the greater catastrophic risk to mankind? A 5-7 degree rise in temperature? Or the next glacial period?  If the climatologists of the 70's were right about entering the next ice age, would we be burning carbon like crazy now trying to prevent it? 


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Saturday Sessions: U2


Believed to be from the bands upcoming mid-2014 studio album.

Ordinary Love

Ordinary Love preceded the release of Invisible by a few months and was the band's first release in four years.  Written as a tribute to Nelson Mandela it was released just a week before he died.

Some Older U2:

With or Without You - Joshua Tree 1987


 Sunday Bloody Sunday - Live at Red Rocks 1983

Friday, March 7, 2014

We Need More Labels!


Everyone is familiar with the standard nutrition label.

You'll find them on pretty much everything you eat, you may soon find them on restaurant menus.

Perhaps we need a tax and duties label.

Let's say you buy an Armani suit that is worth $500.  That suit has an import duty of 10% plus $0.386 per kilogram.  I did a little research and found out that the average suit weight 1.6 pounds so our total is now $550.28

Let's say you bought it in Orange County, California. What is everybody's piece of the pie?

Federal: $50.28
State of California: $33.02
Sheriff: $2.75
D.A: $2.75
Orange County: $4.12
City: $4.12
Roads:  $1.38
Health & Welfare: $2.75
State Optional Fund: $1.38
Orange County Transportation: $2.75

Total Tax and Duties: $105.30
Total Price to Consumer: $605.58

So, on top of whatever percent you are paying in income tax, tack on another 21.06% for every suit you buy.

How'd you like to see that label on everything you buy?

We could even get a little more creative and add in the other costs associated with that $500.00 suit.

Fuel Taxes for transport.
Road Taxes for mileage.
Regulatory burdens.

And so on and so forth.

How big of a piece of your pie is the government actually getting?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

"I Am An American"

A fabulous remix of the U.S. government-funded "I am a Ukrainian"!  Good video up to 2:50...

And while we are at it, a prescient film from 1946 that hits a little too close to home:  "Despotism".

- Hugh

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Bitter Cup

We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude ... we have sustained a defeat without a war, the consequences of which will travel far with us along our road ... we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western democracies: "Thou are weighed in the balance and found wanting." And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cup which will be proffered to us year by year unless by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden time. ~Winston Churchill in the House of Commons 1938

The Lesson of Munich

The lesson of Munich asserts that adversaries will interpret restraint as indicating a lack of capability or political will or both. 

"appeasement discredits the defenders' willingness to fight, and encourages the aggressor to escalate his demands." Steven Chan - International Relations in Perspective. New York: Macmillan, 1984.

Mourir pour Dantzig? (Why die for Danzig?) 

The policy of collective security ran in parallel with measures to achieve international disarmament and where possible was to be based on economic sanctions against an aggressor. It appeared to be ineffectual when confronted by the aggression of dictators, notably Japan's invasion of Manchuria, Italy's invasion of Abyssinia, Germany's occupation of the Rhineland.

Peace For Our Time

The parallels between Crimea and the Sudetenland are extreme.

"I am asking neither that Germany be allowed to oppress three and a half million Frenchmen, nor am I asking that three and a half million Englishmen be placed at our mercy. Rather I am simply demanding that the oppression of three and a half million Germans in Czechoslovakia cease and that the inalienable right to self-determination take its place." - Adolf Hitler's speech at the NSDAP Congress 1938 

"Unrest in the Ukraine poses a real threat to the lives and health of Russian citizens and the many compatriots who are currently on Ukrainian territory.  Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas," - Vladimir Putin, 1 March 2014

"I repeat: This is a matter of defending our citizens and our compatriots, of defending the most important human right -- the right to life," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov 


Appeasement in a political context is a diplomatic policy of making political or material concessions to an enemy power in order to avoid conflict.

During the discussions leading up to the Munich Agreement, ceding the Sudetenland to Germany Neville Chamberlain wrote his sister:

"I asked Hitler about one in the morning while we were waiting for the draftsmen whether he would care to see me for another talk….I had a very friendly and pleasant talk."

While Hitler had a slightly different opinion:
"If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers."

My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. - Neville Chamberlain 1938

Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.

So, what should we do about Crimea?