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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TIGER DEBT

Juliette Oicheng, aka Baldilocks, is someone I'd like to call a friend, but barely know and I know she's barely aware of me. She's smart, fun, wise, and learned, she's served in the military and has her own blog, and she wrote a book entitled Tale of the Tigers which came out about the same time mine did.

She went a different route than I did, and as a result has sold more books but it cost her quite a bit. She needs some cash, and the best way you can help her is to buy her book. If you're not interested in the book, you can tip her donation jar instead.

Go check out Baldilocks' blog and when you're there consider giving her a hand!

HOW TO SELL A BOOK

"A must-read page-turner!"
-Some reviewer who never looked at the book

Glenn Reynolds has a great post up today on Instapundit about a book, which I'm going to put here in its entirety. This is how you sell a book in the modern female-driven publishing culture:
OKAY, DAN O’BRIEN’S STOLEN HORSES MAY BE A GREAT BOOK, but listening to the summary in this NPR review I was struck by the litany of lefty/Oprah cliches: A town founded in an act of violence by white settlers (check! — they’re even cowboys!), a Native American (check!) who dies because he’s denied healthcare (check!) by a greedy hospital (check!) that’s defended by a Republican lawyer (check!) There’s even a plucky female journalist (check!) with a boyfriend who . . . . won’t commit! (check, and mate!) Really, can it get any better than this?
Its disturbing to me how many agents are looking specifically for this kind of book; they don't come out and directly say it but they want "socially relevant" books of chick literature which say something important and move them as a woman. Because 75% or more of literary agents are female, and so are most editors.

Then there's the demand by agents and publishers for young adult fiction, which seeks books for teens, which has a similar sort of checklist:
  • Angsty young protagonist who whines about their life
  • Unusual abilities or powers that set them apart and make their life harder
  • Strange friend who helps them understand what they must do
  • Huge and awesome threat they want to ignore but only they can face
  • Mean bullies and troublemakers they dare not use their abilities against
...and so on. It isn't that these can't be entertaining or interesting, its that they are so overused that they become a cliche.

This kind of factory-made publishing is probably great for initial sales and even book or movie deals (hey, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief made it into a movie). It probably even works well on the market, because teenagers tend not to have a long reading history or any particularly great level of discernment; the old and hackneyed cliche is always new to someone the first time. And with the Oprah book machine out there, you can guarantee any book that fits in the proper pattern will get lots of press and sales support, selling thousands of copies per mention in a magazine or talk show.

But they have no staying power, and people won't remember them. For every Master and Commander, there's 500 How I Kicked My Man In The Gonads chick empowerment books and 500 Teenage Werewolf Vampire Mutant Alien Versus The Bullies books. And while people treasure their Patrick O'Brian books, the others show up in the bargain bin and are rejected at used book stores because they have so many already within a year.

THE DOUBLE MEANING OF GREEN

“While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”
-Stephen R. Covey

Something I tried to say in my global warming essay series of a few years back was that there are a lot of reasons why people have bought into climate change alarmism. For some it is a genuine belief based on what they've heard. For others it is merely a politically useful scheme to lever the world's governments leftward. For still others, its a substitute for religious faith, a way to deal with the guilt and disquiet they feel about the world. And for some, its a way to make money.

Take this news story from the Telegraph, by Christopher Booker:
The essence of the scam is that a handful of Chinese and Indian firms are deliberately producing large quantities of an incredibly powerful "greenhouse gas" which we in the West – including UK taxpayers – then pay them billions of dollars to destroy.

The key to this scam, designed to curb global warming, is a scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and administered by the UN. It enables firms and governments in the developed world to buy "credits" which allow them to continue emitting greenhouse gases. These are sold to them, through well-rewarded brokers, from firms in developing countries that can show they have nominally reduced their emissions.
See, the entire concept of carbon credit trading and paying countries as a way of dealing with your pollution isn't just a massive wealth distribution scheme cooked up by the academic left, its a way to get rich. Big companies like BP aren't interested in cap and trade legislation because they're so very environmentally concerned but because it would severely damage competition and would present another market to trade in and get even richer. How does this particular scheme make people rich?
The way the racket works is that Chinese and Indian firms are permitted to carry on producing a refrigerant gas known as HCF-22 until 2030. But a by-product of this process is HCF-23, which is supposed to be 11,700 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. By destroying the HCF-23, the firms can claim Certified Emission Reduction credits worth billions of dollars when sold to the West (while much of the useful HCF-22 is sold onto the international black market).

Last year, destruction of CFCs accounted for more than half the CDM credits issued, in a market that will eventually, it is estimated, be worth $17 billion. Of the 1,390 CDM projects so far approved, less than 1 per cent accounts for 36 per cent of the total value.
Basically, these companies produce coolants which have a byproduct in their creation which they then destroy. They get not only the money for sales of their refrigerant product, but billions of dollars of carbon credits to sell. Its win/win. And for the life of me I can't see how this is a scam. to me it looks more like a natural consequence of a foolish law.

After all, if you're going to pay people to destroy something, they have to first have that to destroy, and any enterprising person is going to get that stuff. Because one of the most well-established laws of economics is that if you pay people to do something, they'll do it.

Yet this is a perfect example of the kind of thinking which is behind most alarmist schemes. They have long term goals (save the planet, create an overarching one world regulatory government, shove nations into deeper socialism, destroy wealth inequality between nations, etc), but they do not consider long term consequences of their actions.

By demanding the entire world reduce its emissions below a certain level, they do not consider that this will require the whole world to grind its self to 19th century technology and civilization. By demanding that people not pollute as much, they effectively require greater disease, poverty, shorter life expectancies, and misery.

And by continually crying wolf where there is no wolf, they make people less inclined to care about the environment.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

"He just said what most of us already think."

Recently Jim Cramer, writer and CNBC analyst on the show Mad Money made a statement which caused a lot of people to sit up and stare in astonishment (courtesy Moe Lane):
...if you are an owner of stock, any stock, if you are using the stock market for retirement or for savings to put your kid through school or to augment your paycheck, I think you are now beginning to see the silver lining of the miserable economic news: change in Washington. In fact, every time we see a downtick in the popular polls for the administration or Congress the large stockholders I know secretly cheer. They can’t cheer out loud without looking like Scrooge. Or they fear the wrath of Obama, which, on Wall Street, by the way, feels like the wrath of Nixon. It is, however, how many of them privately feel.

You know it. I know it. It is just that nobody wants to say it. Nobody wants to even believe it, as it so downright cynical. And, of course, nobody wants to criticize this president other than the people who are paid to criticize — the Republicans in Congress and various news entities that cater to the right. You take your public life in your hands the moment you do.
I'm sure Immelt (CEO of NBC) was on the phone soon after trying to find a way to fire this guy.

Now, while that may be very true, it also betrays a certain attitude about the president and America. Rush Limbaugh was infamous for saying that every time something bad happens for America during the Bush administration, leftists would secretly (and not so secretly in some cases) cheered, that anything bad for America was good for the Democratic Party. To a certain extent this is probably inevitable: when your party is out of power, bad things happening to the other party only helps you.

Yet there is a basic problem with this attitude which is all too common on the right these days, if not on the left in the past. The president may be a person you don't like, he may have positions and policies you can't stand, and he may be doing things you can see are mistaken, troubling, or even destructive. The president might be someone you fear or dislike, but the fact is he's still the president. And we're all in this together as Americans (and indeed the rest of the world, which is deeply impacted by the US economy).

I see various cute names applied to President Obama regularly on right-leaning blogs, such as "Obamao," "Chairman Zero," "Jug Eared Jesus," and so on. These aren't racial slurs, they're attacks on the person and ideology of President Obama. The left did this constantly against President Bush calling him a retard, a chimpanzee, a bloodthirsty warmonger, and worse. After eight years of the unhinged, frothing hatred and insanity of the left when it came to anything President Bush even was remotely associated with, it isn't surprising to see the right trying to strike back.

It may even be understandable at one level; understandable, but wrong.

President Obama holds the highest office of the United States of America, he is the most powerful man on this earth, and is a duly elected representative of the people. Whether you agree with his policies and ideas or not - and I definitely do not - he still is the president. And that office, if not necessarily the man, must be respected.

During the Clinton administration I fell into this trap all too often; I refused to respect the office because I saw the man himself as so loathsome a human being. President Clinton was hated by many on the right, and few of us ever even met him. That same attitude was extended to President Bush and now the cycle turns again, against a new President. Whatever we may feel about the person of President Obama and his policies, we have to treat the office of president with respect.

That means, in my opinion, no funny names, not even leaving his office off. He's president, so refer to him as that. Don't run down the presidency, don't badmouth him, badmouth his policies and ideas. Don't damage the office of president, don't run down the country's structures and leadership, run down what they do and why. I know that's a thin line but it is an important distinction.

It is always easy to slide into mockery and derision, sarcasm and satire - those are the traits of the immature and juvenile. Adults should not slouch into that without a good reason and only to address what someone does, not what someone is.

I've never met President Obama. I suspect neither has anyone else who is reading this. There are things about the man I respect such as his love of his family and his lack of personal scandal. There are things about him I cannot stand, such as his worldview and ideology. Yet there's a line we ought never cross when we deal with strangers, let alone someone in such a position of authority.

So when President Obama breaks a promise, lies, says something ridiculous, or pushes some atrocious policy, condemn that action and those words. Because if you're an American, the entire country is united and we should stand together as much as we can. Sure, we'll always have divides, we'll always have arguments, but we should do so as fellow Americans, rather than hoping for misery and failure on the part of others.

Do I want, like Rush Limbaugh, for President Obama's radical leftist agenda to fail? Absolutely, but I don't want him personally to fail, I want him to be happy, comfortable, prosperous, and safe, like everyone else. I want him to be retired, most of all. But I want to remember to respect his office.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


I blame Ren and Stimpy.

Quote of the Day

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

"Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

"Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!"
-Dissolution of the Long Parliament by Oliver Cromwell given to the House of Commons, April 20, 1653

I can see November from here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

LITTER

One more quick post today: Gateway pundit has videos comparing and contrasting the grounds after the "Restoring Honor" rally this weekend with the smaller Obama inauguration in 2009. Take a look, you'll never guess the difference. Well yeah you probably will.

MILITARY VOTE

"Blue states opposed to helping service members pursue their right to vote. Imagine that."

Too Late Ballot
A few weeks back in the Word Around the Net weekly roundup I wrote about the MOVE Act and the attempt by many states to get a waiver so they don't have to mail soldiers their ballots on time. Well the Pentagon has made its decisions and J Christian Adams at Pajamas Media has the story:
Washington, despite having plenty of time after an August 17 primary to get the job done, received a waiver today. Washington was unwilling to change their schedule of ballot preparation to allow for 45 days mailing time. Though modern printing technology makes the Washington waiver unnecessary, it was granted.

Delaware election director Elaine Manlove says the state can get ballots out in time — but applied for a waiver “just in case.” Delaware’s waiver was motivated by caution, but caution isn’t a basis for the granting of a waiver. The law says “undue hardship.” However, waiver granted.

Rhode Island shared Delaware’s risk aversion: Spokesman Chris Barnett says they asked for a waiver in case they had a recount in the primary. A hypothetical “undue hardship.” Waiver granted.

Since MOVE passed last October, Massachusetts did nothing to adjust their late September 14 primary to comply. (This was the same state that introduced and passed legislation in mere days so that Senator Paul Kirk could be sworn in to vote for ObamaCare. The legislature previously stripped Republican Mitt Romney of the power to appoint replacements and required a special election.) It’s a shame soldiers aren’t as important as Senator Kirk’s vote was. Waiver granted.

New York sought a waiver. No surprise there: seven years after the passage of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, New York still wasn’t in compliance. Waiver granted.
The waivers being granted sometimes seem to be a bit sketchy, given the criteria for it, but one thing that's a sad fact is that the military guys in the pentagon aren't quite the same type as the military guys out in the field and sometimes politics and your personal agenda trump the job and the men fighting and dying for liberty.

Four states had their requests denied, according to the Palm Beach Post. Wisconsin, Hawaii, Alaska and Colorado, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands had their requests for waivers denied. Honestly this really annoys me. Unless there's been some huge catastrophe like a killer hurricane, nobody should need a waiver. Its not like these elections sneak up on anyone and candidates are filed months ahead of time.

But a lot of states have Democrats in charge of the elections offices and Democrat secretaries of state, and they're none too fond of the overseas military vote. Its 70% or higher Republican and in a year like this, they want as few Republicans as possible voting.

OLD MEDIA WANING

The music must change for we're chewing a bone
We soared like the sparrow hawk flied then we dropped like a stone
-The Who, "The Music Must Change"

I've posted several times on this blog about the decline of newspapers and news magazines; they are almost all sliding down the inevitable slope to oblivion or greatly reduced significance. Yet they aren't the only media which is suffering from changes in the Internet age.

Books, for example, aren't selling very well. The latest data I can dig up is for January of 2010, which showed a .7% decrease in American book sales. In 2009 the overall drop in sales was 1.2%, but the biggest loss was in book stores, which saw almost a 7% drop in book sales. I try to buy my books locally, but I buy then used and if they aren't around here, I buy them online. Honestly, given the fiction that's being pushed, I'm not surprised sales are down. As traditional book sales drop, downloads are increasing, but not fast enough to take up the overall drop in sales. People just aren't reading as much as they used to, and that's a damn shame.

There's also some indication that e-book sales were more trendy than a shift in consumer habits, particularly at the educational level. They're still going up but the rise is beginning to plateau, as if almost everyone who really wants one of these has gotten one and the base of customers is not growing.

The number one book of last year? In fiction it was another derivative piece churned out by Dan Brown called The Lost Symbol. I looked down that list of top 100 fiction titles and saw nothing I wanted to read until I got down to The Professional by Robert Parker. Now I don't know if I'm just unrepresentative of the reading public, but I read 100 or more books a year, so its not like I am a light reader.

The nonfiction side was interesting. The number one book of the year for 2009? Going Rogue by Sarah Palin. Of the top 5, three were by conservative writers (Arguing with Idiots: How to Stop Small Minds and Big Government by Glenn Beck and Liberty & Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto by Mark R. Levin being the others). I wonder just how much the conservative book market is driving nonfiction sales, and whether publishers are noticing this, because it is not easy to get conservative nonfiction sold, let alone represented.

Elsewhere the changes continue. Video rental giant Blockbuster recently announced that they're going bankrupt in September. Hollywood Video has already closed every single one of its 35 stores in Oregon; they just can't compete with Netflix. Blockbuster is saying they'll be back, better than ever after restructuring but I'm highly skeptical.

Media analysts are saying the DVD is on its way out as a major distribution platform, to be replaced by streaming on demand Internet rentals. Personally I'd prefer to own discs of movies I really like, but at the same time, streaming lets me watch stuff I'd ordinarily never buy or even rent.

In the music industry, the story continues. For the last five years, album sales have been dropping, and the rate of decline is accelerating. Meanwhile digital sales have been increasing:

Album Sales
Album sales peaked in 2000 and have been on a downward trend ever since (with a brief rise in 2005 for which I cannot find the cause). People aren't just downloading more songs than ever, they just aren't buying as many, period. This isn't so much a new media problem (although downloads of songs continue to kill the music industry) as a content problem: most new music is just awful.

Look, Styx was big in the mid 1970s to early 1980s. My niece, born in the late 90's is a big Styx fan. There's nothing being put out in popular music now that has that kind of endurance and appeal. The bands being pushed are great for record companies because they will do what they're told and are easily marketed and packaged, but they aren't very inventive, creative, or skilled. And that means they don't last. People just don't want what they're getting from the record companies, but the companies can't see that, all they blame is downloads and peer-to-peer file sharing.

It isn't like major shifts in technology and media have never happened before. Each time in the past, some visionaries or clever businessmen saw what was happening and got ahead of it, and they ended up richer than Bill Gates' god. This time Netflix and Google look to be some of the people who're working the new media, and who knows who will be next. Its just frustrating to see the legacy media types floundering around helplessly, unable to adapt and face these changes.

SONGS I LIKE - AGAINST THE WIND (Bob Seger)

And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then

Bob Seger
As I went down the list of songs I've done looking for videos, I was amazed to see that I hadn't posted any Bob Seger yet. Seger's best known songs such as "Old Time Rock & Roll" aren't striking for their lyrical content, but many of his songs are. Seger wrote and sang and played his own music, and while its been a while since he's had a big hit, he really rolled them out with the Silver Bullet Band a a few decades ago.

Something interesting I noticed about Seger's lyrics is that they don't often sound like a poem. What I mean is that if you read them out loud in a conversational pattern, they just sound like some guy talking to you at a bar, a bit wistful and wry, thinking about what has happened in the past. The flow of words is never forced (no lyrics like "the life in which we live in") and nothing is contrived to rhyme.

"Against The Wind" (from the 1980 album of the same name) is an image of struggling harder than you normally would. Anyone who has run or bicycled knows that if you have the wind in your face, you have to try even harder just to get anywhere. Since the human body is wide and upright, we aren't very streamlined and we have to ram our way through the air.

This song is about the struggles in life, how they change from one era to the next, and as you age, the situations change but its still a tough go. Several of Bob Seger's songs are like this; studies of growing older and how life changes such as "Like A Rock." Sometimes it just seems like everything you do is a struggle, like you have to fight for every single inch of gain. Against The Wind.

It seems like yesterday
But it was long ago
Janie was lovely, she was the queen of my nights
There in the darkness with the radio playing low
And the secrets that we shared
The mountains that we moved
Caught like a wildfire out of control
Till there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove

And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then

Against the wind
We were running against the wind
We were young and strong, we were running
Against the wind

And the years rolled slowly past
And I found myself alone
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends
I found myself further and further from my home
And I guess I lost my way
There were oh so many roads
I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying or even how much I owed

Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend
I began to find myself searchin'
Searching for shelter again and again

Against the wind
A little something against the wind
I found myself seeking shelter
Against the wind

Well those drifters' days are past me now
I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in
What to leave out

Against the wind
I'm still runnin' against the wind
I'm older now but still running
Against the wind
Well I'm older now and I'm still running
Against the wind...

For as long as its up on YouTube, here's the song on video:


This is part of the Songs I Like series.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


Its like a kid's game: count the errors!

Quote of the Day

"How did we ever reach the point where it even needs to be spelled out why it might be inappropriate to build a massive 13 story mosque in the debris field of an Islamist attack that killed 2 or 3 thousand people?"
-Coolczech

Friday, August 27, 2010

SCHOOL ANSWERING MACHINE

The story goes that some school teachers got so fed up with the lack of discipline, disinterest in homework, and absence of parent support that they put this message on their answering machine:



Snopes claims this is a fake, and that it was originally about Pacific Palisades High School in California. I believe that no southern California school would ever put out such a message, ever, but was it ever originally done anywhere, even Australia? I'd like to think so. Funny stuff either way.

Here's the transcript, in case you don't want to hear a charming, very educated Australian lady read off the choices:
Hello!

You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent, press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work, press 2
To complain about what we do, press 3
To swear at staff members, press 4
To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you, press 5
If you want us to raise your child, press 6
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone, press 7
To request another teacher for the third time this year, press 8
To complain about bus transportation, press 9
To complain about school lunches, press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your children's lack of effort ... hang up and have a nice day!

If you want this in another language, move to a country that speaks it. Thank you for your interest in public education.
Maybe the world would be a better place if this kind of thing did happen.

CHURCH POLICE

“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

This would ordinarily go in the Word Around the Net post for this week, below, but I wanted to make sure it got more eyeballs.

Judge James A Wynn (Clinton nominee) of the 4th district court ruled, according to Sylvia Adcock at the North Carolina Lawyer's Weekly:
We hold that the delegation of police power to Davidson College ... is an unconstitutional delegation of ‘an important discretionary governmental power' to a religious institution in the context of the First Amendment.
This was a unanimous opinion. What it means is that the police force of Davidson College which caught someone driving drunk, couldn't because they're unconstitutional. Why? Because Davidson is a religious institution and thus the college cannot have a law enforcement force because it violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.

Now, ordinarily every citizen has the right and power to make an arrest of someone who is breaking the law in America, its called a "citizen's arrest" and is perfectly valid, if a bit difficult to hold up in court because procedure and evidence rules aren't usually followed. Stores do it regularly with shoplifters - I did it once when I worked in a grocery store.

These judges unanimously decided that you can't do that if you're a religious college. You can't have a police force, because that's a governmental body and thus this would be a violation of the first amendment. Can't stop criminals, that's establishing religion. Personally I'd like to see the lawyer that even attempted this argument, I wonder how he walks with gonads that big.

Meanwhile, we can only hope sanity attends a higher court's look at this idiotic ruling.

*Yes, that's a picture of the very silly Inquisition from Monty Python, I couldn't find a good shot of the Church Police from the Rat Tart skit.

THINGS IN LEFTY PARADISE

"Another glittering jewel in the crown of International Leftism."

Last week I linked to a couple of MP3 recordings of a BBC report on "useful idiots" who helped tyrants by lying for them and spreading their version of events to the west. For various reasons these useful idiots were critical in maintaining trade and status of such monsters as Stalin and Pinochet, and still are active today for such tyrannies as Venezuela and Cuba.

How are things in Cuba? Idiots like Michael Moore want you to think that the nation has the best medical care on earth and it is a kite-flying paradise of socialist dreams. The reality is a bit more grim, as Alberto dela Cruz reports at Babalu Blog:
A preventable form of cancer, cervical carcinoma, now ranks as the fourth leading cause of death for Cuban women:
  • In most of the world, cervical cancer is on the decline thanks to annual gynecological screenings (with the Pap test) and the use of the human papillomavirus vaccine.
  • In Cuba, however, the number of routine Pap tests performed has fallen by more than 30 percent and the number of diagnosed cervical cancer cases has doubled since 1985, according to the country's 2008 Annual Health Statistics report.
  • Cervical cancer is the number one malignancy for Cuban women aged 15-44.
  • Some women say they no longer undergo routine gynecological exams and prevent their young daughters from doing so because they fear infection from unhygienic equipment and practices.
There's a lot more there. Oh, but this is just some disgruntled ex patriot Cuban writing, right? He's just inventing things to make the Castro regime look bad? Actually its from the US Council on Foreign Relation's latest report on Cuba.

And Cuba isn't alone. Oliver Stone and other Hollywood lefties may love Hugo Chavez for his cheeky anti-American statements and old school marxist government, but the reality in that country is heinous. Its so bad there that Miss Venezuela flew the old Venezuelan flag, from before the Chavez dictatorship took power, in the Miss Universe competition. I'd have voted for her for that reason alone were I on the panel. Laura W at Ace of Spades HQ gives us a rundown of Venezuelan conditions:

Police and courts in Venezuela have shown more of an interest in punishing Chavez's critics than prosecuting real criminals.

Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda, a state encompassing parts of Caracas, told reporters last week Chavez worsened the problem by cutting funds for state and city governments led by political opponents, then removing thousands of guns from their police forces after losing regional elections.

An estimated 93% of murders are never even investigated.

So Venezuela is now one of the deadliest nations on Earth. Far more dangerous than Iraq, or any war zone in the world, for that matter.

And it's not even close. In 2009 in Iraq, there were 4,644 violent civilian deaths. In Venezuela, according to figures attributed to the Venezuela Observatory of Violence, the number was 16,047. Even that figure is probably on the low side. A leaked government report says the number is over 19,000.
There's more at Ace, lots more. Venezuela is collapsing in utter failure and all the left can do is talk about how keen Hugo is for standing up to the US and doing what everyone ought to do with the economy. Chavez blames capitalists for these problems. I think the Venezuelan people know better; they voted for the wrong guy based on vapid promises and ignored the warnings of the right wing of their country. Gee, sounds familiar.

WORD AROUND THE NET

"It was under Mr Bush that the deficit spiralled out of control as we fought an unnecessary and endless $3,000bn war in Iraq..."
-James Carville

First, lets get the graphic out of the way. This graphic is moving around the internet stabbing the hearts of Iraq myths and hopes of the anti-war left. It shows, very simply the relative cost of the Iraq war and rebuilding with the stimulus package and other government spending:

Iraq Cost
As you can see, deficits were going down over the Bush years (likely due to the tax cuts which confused the New York Times), until the idiotic TARP bailout, and was completely, mind-blowingly eclipsed by the Obama years. There's only one year in which Iraq expenses were actually more than the other government spending: 2007. Randall Hoven has much more at American Thinker, including quotes from news sources and pundits about the Iraq war being so very expensive (such as Carville's, at the top). Simply put: the deficits are not due to the Iraq war.

Gamers are hapless geeks, doomed to be single the rest of their lives, people who never meet a real girl and are completely hapless in social situations, right? Not according to a recent study. Frank Caron reports at Ars Technica about the study, which includes these tidbits:
  • 55 percent of gamers polled were married, 48 percent have kids, and new gamers – those who have started playing videogames in the past two years—are 32 years old on average
  • In terms of hard dollars, the average gaming household income ($79,000) is notably higher than that of nongaming households ($54,000), but the value of the gamer as a marketing target can be seen in a variety of ways
  • Gamers are 13 percent more likely to go out to a movie, 11 percent more likely to play sports, and 9 percent more likely to go out with friends than nongamers
  • Gamers are twice as likely to go out on dates as nongamers in a given month
Now, this data was gathered for gaming giant IGN and the sample size and compliment is behind a registration wall but Ipsos MediaCT does regular statistical work, so presumably its up to normal standards. Now you only have to wonder if you can trust statistics and poll-taking. Incidentally, this is about video gamers, not pure role playing gamers.

Other than the Cardinals baseball, St Louis is probably best known for its huge gateway arch, as the city once served as the gateway to the west and where many wagon trains started out. This 630 foot monument has stood for almost 45 years and is starting to show signs of age. Nicholas J Pistor reports at the St Louis Today website that corrosion is attacking the monument and no one is able to tell yet how bad the corrosion is, whether its merely something that can be buffed and painted away or will require extensive work to repair. St Louis government officials are being very tight lipped about it and won't let anyone close enough to report on it except one guy who saw the arch for 40 minutes then was hustled away.

The American Medical Association has a journal which regularly reports on medical and psychological issues. A recent issue of the JAMA looked at sexual abuse and found something that many have said over the years but didn't have hard data to support: boys who are sexually abused tend to not have a father around and tend to result in sexual disfunction and often homosexuality. This isn't some evangelical Christian outfit, its the AMA, which has no patience with the activism or ideas of the political or religious right wing.

Cleveland has so much money and such a great budget that they decided to buy special "smart" recycle bins for their citizens. These devices, according to Mark Gillespie at the Cleveland Plain Dealer check to see if you're putting them at the curb for pickup. If you don't do it often enough, they let the government know and they send a trash guy over to dig through your refuse for recyclables. If they find enough, you get a $100 fine. Big Brother is watching. Its for your own good, they have to save the planet!

Some of the world's biggest polluters tend to be loud and demanding when it comes to alarmist rhetoric and what the US should be doing, but China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil can't even report on their pollution levels, according to Chris Neefus at CNS News. The GAO reports that the latest data they have on these countries is from 1994, although estimates put China far ahead of everyone else in the world by this point.

Hans Blix, hapless UN inspector who let Iraqi officials under Saddam Hussein move materials around and bamboozle him for months, is back in the news. It seems he thinks Iran having nuclear power plants is just terrific, as long as the Russians supply them with fuel, according to Press TV in Iran:
The fact that Russia is supplying Iran with fuel is "very positive," as it demonstrates that Tehran could rely on foreign suppliers for its fuel need, Blix told the BBC on Sunday.
Meanwhile the Iranians continue their fuel refinement program for, as Sweetness and Light snarks, "their massive medical research program."

Howard Dean, possibly concerned about his job as Democratic Party chairman, says that if the Democrats do poorly this November, its only because President Obama didn't try hard enough. Mike Lillis at The Hill reports:
"This election, for better or for worse, depends on how hard the president fights between now and election day"
He also said President Obama needs to get outside Washington, presumably not on vacations. Meanwhile grinning idiot and White House spokesman Gibbs is attacking leftists for never being satisfied. Rats, sinking ship, QED.

Want a bagel, sliced and topped with butter and cream cheese? It'll cost you extra in New York City, for a very good reason. Jacob Gershman at the Wall Street Journal reports:
In New York, the sale of whole bagels isn't subject to sales tax. But the tax does apply to "sliced or prepared bagels (with cream cheese or other toppings)," according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. And if the bagel is eaten in the store, even if it's never been touched by a knife, it's also taxed.
The cost? About 8 cents a bagel. So the stores started charging extra for a sliced bagel, which annoyed customers, a slicing charge? Bruegger's Bagel started putting signs up telling people about the tax.

News out of South Africa is rarely very positive. From attacks on white farmers to unstopped roaming gangs of looters in Johannesburg and Capetown, the picture isn't a very pretty one. And lately news of those in charge living well while the bulk of the country suffers in abject poverty have begun to really annoy the corrupt politicians. The answer, naturally, is to silence the press. Celia Dugger at the New York Times writes:
But the adversarial dealings of politicians and the press have taken a particularly nasty turn recently, as an infuriated governing party has sought to rein in newspapers it has come to see as determined opponents.

Business executives, civic leaders and journalists have responded with increasingly dire warnings that stringent measures being advanced by the governing African National Congress would threaten press freedom, enshroud much official activity in secrecy, potentially punish offending journalists or whistle-blowers with up to 25 years in prison and undermine the fight against corruption in the continent’s largest economy.
Tyrants spring up everywhere they are not continually and vigorously opposed.

President Obama campaigned on a lot of things, but one of them was climate change. Riding the wave of alarmist rhetoric just before it crashed against the rocks of warmaquiddick and reality, he promised green jobs, cap and trade legislation, and other things. The White House website included these promises and more. Until recently, that is. The legacy media shrugged and no one seems to have noticed the sudden disappearance of this agenda. Given the abject failure of a "green economy" involving failed and profitless "green" technology and energy projects, that's probably a good thing.

While we're talking about President Obama's broken promises, this is a good time to mention the quiet abandonment of any charges being brought against the mastermind behind the bombing of the USS Cole. The Navy found some fall guy to take criminal charges for letting the attack happen but the guy behind it all? Peter Finn at the Washington Post reports that Holder's justice department team doesn't want to prosecute. Why is this a broken promise? Flash back to February 2009, just a month after taking office, courtesy Jeff Zeleny at the New York Times blog The Caucus:
President Obama on Friday assured family members of Americans who were killed in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and in the Sept. 11 attacks that the terror suspects will be prosecuted and brought “to a swift and certain justice.”

Mr. Obama met for more than an hour with about 40 relatives of terror victims during an emotional afternoon session in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building near the White House. He explained his rationale for ordering the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to be closed within a year, but pledged that the terror cases would be reviewed and handled through the courts.
Oh yeah that Guantanamo Bay closing? Let's just pretend that never came up, too.

Muslim attacks after 9/11 was a constant source of concern among the hand clasping left. Why, people will be mean to Muslims, we have to protect them and stop the bigoted, stupid American from hurting them! As it turns out there was an increase of attacks against Muslims after the terrorist strike in 2001: the FBI reported 127 more in the following year, a grand total of 155. Mark Hemingway puts it in perspective at the Washington Examiner:
After 9/11, there was a quick spike in anti-Muslim hate crimes — there were 28 in 2000, then 155 in 2002. In 2008, there were 123. Even one hate crime is too many, but consider: Between 2 and 4 of every 100,000 Muslims was a hate crime victim in 2008. The murder rate in D.C. last year was about 24 for every 100,000 residents.
As he points out, there's a much higher rate of hate crimes against Christians than Muslims, and always has been.

Marc Thiessen (no relation to Tiffany-Amber) wrote a great article in the Washington Post about statistics and what you can get by questioning any large group of people. Basically he notes that 20% of any group you ask will have at least one goofy opinion: the moon landings were faked, the world is really flat, jet con trails contain mind control drugs, etc. Think about your group of friends, doesn't at least one out of five hold some silly or weird position on things? Maybe its you...

Speaking of goofy beliefs, Michael Walsh writing in Big Journalism studied the Kennedy assassination. He looked over the paperwork, the evidence, the photos, and the original actual archives, not copies or internet sites. And he comes to one basic conclusion which people want so desperately not to believe: Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald. Why and what was behind it we'll likely never know (my money is on the mob) but he acted alone. He points out something which a lot of people are misled by:
When you stop to think about it, Oswald didn’t fire three shots in that period: he fired two. With Kennedy’s car turning very slowly into Elm Street, directly beneath his sniper’s perch, he had plenty of time to line up the first shot, and so the clock properly starts from the moment he pulled the trigger, after which he got off two shots in under eight seconds. And his target was in an open automobile with his back to him.
Indeed. It really wasn't that superhuman a feat. The fact that Oswald was a hardcore communist is an aspect the left really wants to avoid discussing, too.

Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters from California has made a lot of money in a loophole of FEC regulations for her campaign. How does she do it? By charging money to put her endorsement on other candidates' literature. Why, exactly, anyone would consider this loopy woman's endorsement positive enough to pay up to $45,000 for is beyond me, but Lindsay Young at the Sunlight Foundation has the full story.

Iraq has seen the last of its combat-only brigades finally pulled out of the country on President Bush's schedule. That doesn't mean there's no soldiers there or that they're somehow unready for combat, however. Kenneth Pollack has five myths of Iraq he writes about in the Washington Post. Desiring to make sure his leftist bona fides are upheld, he invents a myth that he says the right clings to (Iraq is now secure enough it will not fall into civil war) but that's probably mostly to take the sting off the next myth he claims the left holds (The US is leaving behind a broken political system).

Anne Frank wrote in her diary about a tree she could see from her family's little hiding space during the Nazi occupation of her home land. She wrote about the tree:
Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favourite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind.

As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy.
I expect she still found times to be unhappy but the tree was a nice help for her in a dark time. The tree developed fungus and finally died, toppling over last week. The tree lasted 150 years, more than ten times as long as Anne Frank.

Writing to the UN Human Rights council, the Obama Administration went out of its way to depict the US as negatively as it could. I guess he didn't want countries such as Angola, China, Cuba, Russia, and Saudi Arabia - all of whom are on the council - to feel bad about themselves in comparison. Matthew Lee writes for the Washington Post:
In its first-ever report to the U.N. Human Rights Council on conditions in the United States, the State Department said Monday that some Americans, notably minorities, are still victims of discrimination. Despite success in reforming such inequities as slavery and the denial of women's right to vote, the department said, considerable progress is still needed.

"Although we have made great strides, work remains to meet our goal of ensuring equality before the law for all," it said.

The report noted that although the U.S. now has an African-American president and that women and Hispanics have won greater social and economic success, large segments of American society suffer from unfair policies and practices.

High unemployment rates, hate crime, poverty, poor housing, lack of access to health care and discriminatory hiring practices are among the challenges the report identified as affecting blacks, Latinos, Muslims, South Asians, Native Americans and gays and lesbians in the United States.
Digging back a century and a half for bad stuff seems like evidence things aren't so awful but maybe that's just me.

Google's GMail is now set up so you can call people using your computer. GMail already had voice chat, but now you can call any phone number in the US for free, and for about 2 cents a minute to most other countries. Given that many long distance carriers allow this for free, that doesn't seem like such a good deal, but then you don't have to pay anything up front for google. No fees, no franchising costs, no taxes. Just your internet provider fee.

Chinese writing has always been tough to learn, basically requiring thousands of characters to be memorized because they represent words rather than the tools to build words like other languages. Possibly because of this, young people are finding that the more they use computers and phones to communicate and type with, the less they remember how to write and shape the various characters. Will that happen in other countries as well? They're certainly forgetting grammar and spelling.

Doug Ross has a fool-proof way to avoid a traffic ticket. Its four simple steps and let's just say it involves various rulings by the Obama administration regarding illegals in the US.

And finally, the growth from the last quarter which was said to be over 3%, then was downgraded to 2.4%? They downgraded it again, to 1.6%. Hey, that's still positive, but at this rate its going to be contraction by Halloween. Its hard to avoid the sense that maybe the Obama administration isn't being entirely honest about these economic reports, at least right at first.

And that's the Word Around the Net for August 27, 2010.

PICTURE OF THE DAY


This is a companion to the Hot Dog picture a few days back.

Quote of the Day

"The best minds are not in government. If any were, business would hire them away."
-Ronald Reagan

Thursday, August 26, 2010

SONGS I LIKE TO WATCH

DETECTIVE: "Looks like Keith Moon was murdered for being too awesome."
DAVID CARUSO: "The only question is...
[puts on sunglasses]
...Who's Next?"

I've been posting little comments on songs I particularly enjoy as well as their lyrics. I've been asked before why I don't also link a video to them from YouTube, and the answer is that they're meant for archive and the video links typically get taken down for some copyright complaint or another, and all you end up with is a dead link.

However, I took a while this morning and hunted down all the videos I could of the songs that are out there (some are too obscure to find videos for or are just not the genre that YouTube users enjoy). So here's what I could find, of Songs I Like:

The Music Must Change - The Who


Remember the Heroes - Sammy Hagar

AM Radio - Everclear


Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who


Romeo And Juliet - Dire Straits


Solitary Man - Neil Diamond

(alternate Johnny Cash version from American 3 also available)

The Thing - Phil Harris


Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens


I Still Believe - The Call


What Am I Living For? - Mark-Almond Band

This is still the song that gets the most hits and search links of all the ones I've done.

Amazing Grace - John Newton\

Watch the movie by this name for a great rendition of this at the end.

The Friends of Mister Cairo


Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen


Mad About You - Sting


Sympathy for the Devil - The Rolling Stones


Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd


Sunday Morning Coming Down - Kris Kristofferson

This video actually has both Kris and Johnny Cash doing a duet on this song.

Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills & Nash


One - Metallica


North Country Girl - Pete Townshend


Flakes - Frank Zappa


More Than A Feeling - Boston


Wexford Carol - Julie Andrews

I could not find a video with Julie Andrews, so here's "Celtic Woman"

Joy To The World - Isaac Watts


Hark the Herald Angels Sing - Charles Wesley


Silent Night - Josef Mohr


Trust - Megadeth


The Prophet's Song - Queen


Black Blade - Blue Oyster Cult

Synched to Halloween decorations, in fact.

Wonderful - Everclear


Why didn't someone stop me before I started this project? Ok here's more...

(Tell Me Why) I Don't Like Mondays - Boomtown Rats


In The Living Years - Mike & the Mechanics


Beyond Belief - Elvis Costello


The Hallelujah Chorus - Georg Frederick Handel

With the Robert Shaw Chorale, the best choral group ever in my opinion.

Simple Man - Lynyrd Skynyrd


It Hurts Me Too - Elmore Leonard (cover by Foghat)


Marble Halls - Enya


One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer - John Lee Hooker (Cover by George Thorogood)


Big Rock Candy Mountain - Harry McClintock


Cosmik Debris - Frank Zappa


Murder - David Gilmour


Alabama - Neil Young


Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd


Styx Suite Madame Blue


Goodbye Stranger - Supertramp


Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie


Walk Like a Man - Bruce Springsteen


Muddy Water - Johnny Rivers


Get Over It - The Eagles


Maybe I should have done this in a series of posts...

In The Gallery - Dire Straits


Streets of Laredo - Webb Wilder


Spike - Tom Petty


A Man I'll Never Be - Boston

By the way, all the Boston albums except the latest one Corporate America are great.

Triumph - Magic Power


Memphis, Tennessee - Chuck Berry


Even in the Quietest Moments - Supertramp


I Saw It On TV - John Fogerty


Wife And Kids - Kenny Chesney


The First Baptist Bar and Grill - Tim Wilson


I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day - Longfellow and Calkin

This has all 7 verses, more specifically about the Civil War than the Christmas Song usually is.

Leaving Me Now - Level 42


It Is Well With My Soul - Horatio Spafford


A Quitter Never Wins - Tinsley Ellis

Probably the most overlooked bluesman in history, Tinsley Ellis.

American Soldier - Toby Keith


Home Again - Queensrÿche

Again I cannot say enough about this album. Listen to it all, buy it.

Anybody Listening - Queensrÿche


What It Takes - Aerosmith


Black Man - Stevie Wonder

This one gets the second most search hits, probably because of the ending with all the names and accomplishments.

Radar Love - Golden Earring


Turn of the Century - Yes

Did you know Yes isn't in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Cool Change - Little River Band


California Uber Alles - Dead Kennedys

If you think these guys suck musically, try playing the Guitar Hero song.

Holiday in Cambodia


Honesty - Billy Joel

The video of this from his Leningrad concert in '87 is on You Tube but I couldn't embed it.

This Is The Time


Not pictured: "Jack and Jill" by Louis Jordan, "A Baby Just Like You" by Frank Sinatra, "Forty Years" by Joe Jackson, The entire Tales of Mystery and Imagination album, "She Supports Her Man" by Paul Overstreet, "Everybody Needs A Friend" by Mark-Almond Band, and "Honey" by Roger Miller.

Wow, I'm done. And I found a few more songs I want to post that I thought I had and missed.