Friday, November 02, 2012

Last Four Levels Of Ms. Pacman

I used to play this game obsessively in the Eighties. This is the most compelling video I've seen in weeks!

All The GOP Wants Is For America To Have Clear, Firm Principles

The Democrats understand better than the Republicans that the American people are a bunch of scurvy, squirming, unprincipled snakes, who shout to the heavens they'll support candidates who propose strong restrictions on abortion, but actually are determined to destroy the candidacy of anyone who proposes such restrictions, and that's one reason the Democrats will prevail on Election Day:
Back in February, I spent most of a day with Mourdock as he tried to get noticed at the Conservative Political Action Conference. ... “I do have an ability to stand in front of a room of people, and talk, and watch those faces as people change their minds,” he said. “It’s something I never thought I’d do. At age 60, I find out, I’m pretty good at this. I can change minds.”

That was Mourdock’s bad bet. The same miscalculation made by Akin and Koster....

And this is what drives Republicans mad about the race. Mourdock’s opponent, Donnelly, refers to himself as “pro-life.” At the pivotal debate, he gave a clipped, quick answer to the abortion question that made less sense than Mourdock’s. “I believe in pro-life,” he said, which sounded weird on its own. ...He believed that life starts at conception, but he was willing to let doctors and women end it in certain circumstances. Republicans can’t believe he’s getting away with this.

...Like Rep. Bart Stupak, Donnelly initially refused to support the health care bill for fear that it would fund abortions. Stupak and Donnelly switched their votes when the president promised a mostly toothless executive order that reaffirmed the no-money-for-abortion language. Most of the Stupak caucus lost their elections in November. Donnelly survived, then co-sponsored the Republicans’ “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which (in initial drafts) changed a legal reference from “rape” to “forcible rape.”

So it should be Donnelly, not Mourdock, who’s squirming to explain his abortion stance. For a while he was, giving mushy answers about his stance on the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. Then Mourdock effectively bailed him out, and Donnelly has benefited from third-party attacks on his opponent. They work because voters are also skittish about the question of when life begins. Just this week, a national YouGov poll asked Americans when abortion should be legal. A full 67 percent favored some restrictions or total restrictions. A full 74 percent wanted to keep it legal in cases of rape or incest.

...Mourdock and the other victims of Akinmania aren’t particularly bad candidates. They’ve just failed to be as hypocritical as their voters.

Dubya Gives A Vacation Speech In The Cayman Islands

A one-percent kind of place:
George W. Bush gave the keynote address at an “investment conference” in the Cayman Islands on Thursday night. But we don’t know what he said, reports NBC News, because Bush’s own team required a complete “blackout” on any details about the speech.
The keynote speech by the former president was “totally closed to all journalists,” and conference organizers were banned from discussing any aspect of it even in general terms, spokesman Dan Kneipp said.

Trying To Connect Dots Regarding Michele Bachmann And The Untax Movement

Reading Rising Hegemon, I decided to listen to this Michele Bachmann Congressional debate video, and thought I heard unmistakable echoes of the Untax Movement (particularly from about 37:00 to about 40:30):

Then, I read that Michele Bachmann was an IRS tax attorney from 1988 to 1993, just when the various Patriot and Militia groups were becoming active. Was there a chance Michele Bachmann had ever been associated with a group like The Pilot Connection?

I had a brush with The Pilot Connection in the early 90's, when girlfriend (and about-to-pass-the-bar Lincoln Law graduate) JKA started working on their behalf:
"Patriots for profit" have been around as long as the "patriot" movement itself has, but the 1990s have produced a number of very prominent schemes. Many "patriot for profit" schemes center around income tax evasion. Because the "patriot" community is so united against the income tax and tax protesters make up a prominent portion of the community, a number of would-be swindlers offer various tax avoidance schemes for sale at exorbitant prices, none of which, not surprisingly, actually work. One of the most prominent such schemes was that promoted by the Pilot Connection Society. Based in Stockton, California and headed by Phillip Marsh, the Pilot Connection Society held seminars and even barbecues designed to get people interested in their "untax" kits in the early 1990s. One IRS spokesman called it "one of the biggest, if not the biggest, illegal tax protest group in the country."
At the time, The Pilot Connection needed as much legal expertise as they could get, and I worried that JKA was becoming too closely intertwined with their quasi-extralegal efforts. I was close enough to the action that I remember spending Christmas Eve 1992 at the Marsh's Stockton home.

Nevertheless, by 1994, JKA had her own practice that concentrated on family rather than tax issues, and she left that particular fold (and the subsequent downward trajectory - the move to Utah, the arrests, federal trial, and imprisonment).

Nevertheless, was Michele Bachmann an Untax sympathizer, despite working for the IRS?

Well, not according to this Native American:
Manypenny worked at the Youth Project, described in court records as "a public foundation with a 17-year history of building citizen participation organizations around the country committed to social justice and peace.'' The resident of the White Earth Indian Reservation contended he was exempt from income taxes because of the April 8, 1867 land treaty between his Chippewa Indian ancestors and the U.S. government. He met Bachmann briefly in the federal court building in St. Paul.

"She was very -- how do I put this? -- haughty and curt,'' the 64-year-old Manypenny told National Journal in a telephone interview. "I tried to state my contentions to her and it was like talking to a brick wall.''
It's hard to connect to dots with conservative political organizations, since there are so many of them and since they are so diverse. But, I tried....

The Liberty Foundation has been described as a successor to the Pilot Connection, but they seem to be Libertarian Paulites that are highly-skeptical of Michele Bachmann.

The U.S. Attorney who prosecuted a prominent Untax case in Minnesota (the Karl Foster case) was William B. Michael, Jr., a former Green Beret who is now apparently with Chicago law firm Mayer Brown, at least one of whose attorneys has donated to the Bachmann campaign. None of this is surprising by itself, though. It just shows it's a chummy world at the higher echelons of law and politics, and the Untaxers haven't quite penetrated that rarefied space (unless you include high-flying corporate Untaxers like Mitt Romney, who has access to the posh world of the Cayman Islands, and doesn't need Untax kits).

The more I read about Michele Bachmann the more I'm coming to understand that, even though she once was an IRS tax attorney, she seems to be less animated by Libertarian and Untaxing thought than she is by Social Conservatism, American Exceptionalism, and Military Triumphalism. You can't have all that oom-pah-pah Triumphalism without high taxes, though, and she knows that.

So, why is Michele Bachmann making Libertarian like noises in the political campaign? Well, that's politics! In an election, you have to assemble the broadest possible coalition of interests, and that includes the outcast, despised Paulites too.

So, if you are a white, suburban, mega-churchgoing Untaxer, the 2012 Michele Bachmann, like her 1988 self once did, would surely hate it, but she would bite her lip and do her duty, and throw your Untaxable white ass into prison for a spell.

Elect Me, Or The Economy Gets It Between The Eyes

Romney makes his strongest election argument:
In what his campaign billed as his “closing argument,” Mitt Romney warned Americans that a second term for President Obama would have apocalyptic consequences for the economy in part because his own party would force a debt ceiling disaster.

...Romney said that Obama “promised to be a post-partisan president, but he became the most partisan” and that his bitter relations with the House GOP could threaten the economy. As his chief example, he pointed to a crisis created entirely by his own party’s choice — Republican lawmakers’ ongoing threat to reject a debt ceiling increase. Economists warn that a failure to pass such a measure would have immediate and catastrophic consequences for the recovery.

“You know that if the President is re-elected, he will still be unable to work with the people in Congress,” Romney said. “He has ignored them, attacked them, blamed them. The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.”

Thursday, November 01, 2012

There, There, Little Girl, We All Feel The Same Way


This movie was on the teevee the other night. Similar crime-related dramas from Down Under (like "Underbelly") seem to making their way north in recent years. I tuned in late, so had trouble assessing the plot (sometimes the acting seemed overwrought, but then I missed the exposition), but I did like the setting quite a bit, and even recognized that it was Australian before anyone spoke, just because of the architecture.

Slenderman Warning Notes

I believe Kendra Smith drew these, for the 2012 DMTC Haunted House, following on-line renditions.

Jenny Plasse's Brain

Why Won't The Insiders Tell Us Who Will Win?

Wonkette delivers the snark:
Here it is, ABC News’s highly compensated reporter Jon Karl, offering an extremely clear explanation of why his job should not exist:
I think more than any other race I’ve covered this is one where both sides genuinely seem to believe they’re going to win. That’s different … Given that, it’s hard for somebody covering the race to make a call. I’m completely confused. I have no idea who’s going to win. And I usually have a sense of who’s going to win.
Oh no, reporters aren’t getting “inside scoops” from triumphalist and/or fatalist campaign staffers. There’s literally no other way to tell!

Blood Pressure Surprise

Went on a doctor visit this morning, which was mostly about checking on my high blood pressure. To our vast surprise, the blood pressure was 122/82, which is normal! I don't think my blood pressure has been normal, even once, in twenty years! It must have been the sense of relief that the Haunted House went well last night.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Politicians Have Known For Some Time Exactly Who Votes, And Who Doesn't

They KNOW! And now, you too can learn what they already know:
MoveOn is mailing 12 million registrants in battleground states a “Voter Report Card” scoring their participation in their past five elections and comparing it to the neighborhood average, Politico’s James Hohmann reported in Morning Score. “MoveOn will then run online ads to draw attention to the project and the fact that outsiders can figure out whether you voted or not,” Hohmann write.

...The mailer’s design marks the latest twist on the political world’s adoption of what behavioral psychologists call “social pressure.” Experiments have shown that letting citizens know that their voting histories are publicly available—and that as a result they can be monitored and judged based on how often they cast a ballot—is the most potent known tool for driving people to the polls.

Dadgum Gummint

Commies Go Nuts?

Maybe Romney is right to be suspicious of Putin:
[A]uthorities on the West Coast were embroiled in a seriously nutty mystery: the disappearance of 80,000 pounds of walnuts, stolen in two installments, from Northern California.

According to the Associated Press, the walnuts were first reported missing Friday by workers at a freight brokerage firm. Workers called the Tehama County Sheriff's Office to say that a truckload of walnuts, purchased by Seattle company F.C. Bloxom and Co., never reached their destination in Miami.

The incident was then matched to a similar theft a few days earlier. A heist on Oct. 23 involved 40,000 pounds of walnuts, which were picked up in Los Molinos, Calif., but never arrived in Texas, where they were expected, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth notes.

According to the Redding Searchlight, authorities believe the two crimes could be the work of the same individual-- a "suspicious delivery driver" with a tall build and strong Russian accent.

The trucking company, hired by San Antonio-based Hill Country Bakery, helped deputies figure out the man who took receipt of the nuts was actually an imposter, albeit a prepared one: The delivery man had managed to secure the correct purchase numbers for the walnuts.

The man is said to be 6 feet 2 inches tall and driving a white semi. The 80,000 pounds of walnuts were valued at about $300,000.

The GOP Insists These People Need To Help Themselves First

According to Mitt Romney, it is immoral to even consider adding a single additional dollar to the U.S. federal deficit to help these people. Think about the future generations, he says!

How The Democrats Should Smack The GOP

Today's Burning Question

Where is my cell phone?

[UPDATE: I left it in the Conference Room, and Leah the Janitor left it on Craig's desk.]

Nighttime Image Of Sandy

Awesome image!:
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of the storm around 3:35 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (7:35 Universal Time) on October 30. This image is from the “day-night band” on VIIRS, which detects light wavelengths from green to near-infrared. The full Moon, which exacerbated the water height at the time of the storm surge, lit up the tops of the clouds.

Sandy’s clouds stretched from the Atlantic Ocean westward to Chicago. Clusters of lights gave away the locations of cities throughout the region, but along the East Coast, clouds obscured city lights, many of which were out due to the storm.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Beyonce - Get Me Bodied

Wind Map

K. recommends Wind Map

Meteorologists Are Awesome!

A paean to meteorologists in the New York Times:
Expert meteorologists are forced to arbitrage a torrent of information to make their predictions as accurate as possible. After receiving weather forecasts generated by supercomputers, they interpret and parse them by, among other things, comparing them with various conflicting models or what their colleagues are seeing in the field or what they already know about certain weather patterns — or, often, all of the above.

...In 1972, the service’s high-temperature forecast missed by an average of six degrees when made three days in advance. Now it’s down to three degrees. More stunning, in 1940, the chance of an American being killed by lightning was about 1 in 400,000. Today it’s 1 in 11 million. This is partly because of changes in living patterns (more of our work is done indoors), but it’s also because better weather forecasts have helped us prepare.

Perhaps the most impressive gains have been in hurricane forecasting. Just 25 years ago, when the National Hurricane Center tried to predict where a hurricane would hit three days in advance of landfall, it missed by an average of 350 miles. If Hurricane Isaac, which made its unpredictable path through the Gulf of Mexico last month, had occurred in the late 1980s, the center might have projected landfall anywhere from Houston to Tallahassee, canceling untold thousands of business deals, flights and picnics in between — and damaging its reputation when the hurricane zeroed in hundreds of miles away. Now the average miss is only about 100 miles.

Why are weather forecasters succeeding when other predictors fail? It’s because long ago they came to accept the imperfections in their knowledge. That helped them understand that even the most sophisticated computers, combing through seemingly limitless data, are painfully ill equipped to predict something as dynamic as weather all by themselves. So as fields like economics began relying more on Big Data, meteorologists recognized that data on its own isn’t enough.
And here is another paean to meteorologists.

Here is a portion of a lecture from Ferenc Szasz, my favorite professor when I was in college (he passed away recently). His history of the Manhattan Project is the only one I know where there is good discussion of the meteorologists and their work. In the lecture, he briefly discusses Jack Hubbard and the meteorologists from 7:00 on (brief technical glitch just before the discussion). The meteorologists had to argue about the nature and vagaries of tropical air masses in New Mexico, and why the entire weight of wartime U.S. federal government would just have to wait for the storms to die down.

Monday, October 29, 2012

David Letterman Performs To An Empty Studio

Slow Loris Eats A Rice Ball

From Ezra Klein.

Federal Disaster Relief Is Immoral

In case they get any ideas, a timely reminder to all those useless sponges huddled on the New Jersey coast right now.

On a Lady Gaga Kick Tonight

On Friday, Michael F. was on a Lady Gaga kick.

So infectious.....

I can always tell the pop stars that will make a difference in the world, because I hate them at first. They rattle my cage, and I hate my cage being rattled, so love comes later. Hated Madonna; hated Lady Gaga too, but I love them both.

Hard to find perfect concert footage, but this is pretty good:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lady Gaga's 2nd Speech/ Sacramento 3/23/11

I have my own video of this speech, but this video is better than mine. Madonna isn't that comfortable with off-the-cuff speech making, but Lady Gaga thrives on it.

Lady Gaga starts with a reminiscence of having played Arco Arena several years ago when touring as the opening act for New Kids On The Block. She describes having to adapt to the narrowness of her dancing stage once her precious LED walls were erected (at her insistence). She talks about the success of "Born This Way" and what it signifies. I am amazed at the way her bravery pep talk starts quietly at about 2:30 and ramps up over the next minute to a feral scream. Then, as she prepares a segue into the next song, she amusingly discusses Arco Arena again.

Pepper Von, And Zumba Fitness In Orlando