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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Friday, February 04, 2011

WORD AROUND THE NET

“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet.”
-Al Gore

Five hundred Oregon parents think Ronald McDonald has to go. The petition signers claim that “There is no debate about whether the aggressive marketing of McDonald’s-style junk food to children should be stopped.” No debate? Maybe not where you live. Meanwhile I've not seen Ronald McDonald in an ad for years. Maybe they run in kids shows?

Prisoners, most of them at the London Correctional Institution in Ohio, were filing thousands of false tax returns in the name of other people and getting refunds. They continued to do so even after the IRS found out there was fraud being perpetrated, because of a bureaucratic snafu. The Associated Press reports:
...even though the 2008 measure gave the IRS the authority to turn over tax data to prison officials, there was a glitch in carrying out the law. While the IRS could flag suspicious behavior, the Bureau of Prisons felt it needed to share the information with the Justice Department before taking action against prisoners, in the event the prisoners sued.

But the IRS, under tax law, felt it couldn't share tax information with prison officials if they would share it with any entity outside the bureau, including the Justice Department.
Basically, privacy concerns and worries about lawsuits prevented the IRS from actually stopping this, so it went on for years. The total damage was almost 45,000 fake returns in 2009, with claims of $295 million, and rising every year. One prisoner filed 21 times and got refunds worth over $15,000. Hard to believe that convicts would break the law like that.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 14% of all Americans are on food stamps, getting government assistance to eat. That is a total of over 43,000,000 people, up almost 15% from last year. I know that many of the usual signs of depression aren't there (inflation and lack of growth) but seriously, this is a major problem. Imagine what it would be reported like under a Republican president. Again, I have to say that a lack of continuous dire and miserable reporting is stopping this from being worse than it is.

Google claims that Microsoft's Bing search engine is a "cheap imitation" and is stealing Google search results. Microsoft flatly denies this, and I can't help but notice that shortly after Bing came out Google changed their search engine website to look more like Bing's. Who's imitating whom?

Recently, NPR ran a segment in which they examined the tax burden of various corporations. Included was this information:
Just how broken is the corporate tax system? Consider the tax rate paid by two of America's biggest companies — Wal-Mart and General Electric. Wal-Mart paid 34 cents in taxes for every dollar of profit it made in the past three years. General Electric paid just 3.6 cents on the dollar.
So evil Wal*Mart, hated by the left pays almost a third of its profits in taxes, while Obama-boosting GE led by hard leftist Immelt (who left to join the Obama advisory team recently) is paying less than 4%. Crony "capitalism" which isn't capitalism at all. The Tax Prof indicates that this data comes from testimony by Mark Sullivan before the House Ways and Means committee.

Feminists, like most grievance groups, are quick to find fault with anything based on numbers rather than reasons. Lacking the wisdom to care why things happen, all they care about is the data and raw details. For instance, Wikipedia has only 15% of its contributions from female writers. The New York Times reports that Wikipedia is concerned about this inequity. Glenn Reynolds suggests another reason:
But remember, this doesn’t reflect badly on women’s willingness to toil for the common good. Instead it’s evidence of sexism at Wikipedia or something. Now if the genders were reversed, it would be because men were selfish or lazy or whatever.
Heh, as he'd say.

Greg Gutfield at Big Hollywood brings up a topic having nothing to do with movies, abortion. Specifically he refers to a study by the New England Journal of Medicine which suggests that abortions may be less traumatic to a woman than live birth. The fact that they even bring up the suggestion indicates that the general consensus is that it is more harmful. Just nobody wants to bring it up.

Abortion is one of those sacred cows which is so protected that the industry tends to be able to skirt the law or just ignore it. World Magazine ran a great article in 2001 about how organized crime uses abortion clinics to launder money because nobody looks too closely at their finances. As a protected leftist cause, abortion clinics routinely ignore laws requiring them to report child abuse and statutory rape, and recently a Planned Parenthood clinic was filmed helping a stunt pimp work with his underaged prostitutes. PP claimed that they reported immediately after the interview, but there's no record of this, and they fired the staffer who talked to the fake pimp. That doesn't seem to be consistent with their claim of reporting.

Moody's Investor Service is one of the biggest and most important credit and investment rating services in the world. What they rate an investment as carries significant weight. And now, for the first time, Moody has announced that they will factor in unpaid pension debt when they rate states, something states have desperately tried to prevent. That means that Moody's will rate states in terms of investment and worth based on their actual debt and economic status, rather than some of it. Expect most states to have much worse credit ratings, and some to be nearly uninvestable.

White House chief advisor Valerie Jarett (the one who said Obama was "ready to rule") has made an embarrassing mistake. At an official dinner, she mistook a decorated military officer for a waiter and requested he bring more wine. Probably bemused, the officer held to his honor and went to get her wine. Apparently others at the table laughed at this foolish error. Was she just that clueless about the military? Did she not look closely to see who it was? Did she, as the Clintons were rumored to do, figure that the military should be used to fetch and carry for her? Who knows, but this one got out in the press and she's going to be remembered for it.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News compiled a long list of leftists and Democrats condemning the deficit and debt levels (under President Bush). The purpose is to have a nice reminder for when they start claiming its not that big a problem when the GOP tries to cut spending and reduce the deficit. I predict it will be about as useful as the extensive, detailed list of the same groups of people supporting the war on Iraq and warning of WMD from Saddam Hussein.

Former Vice President Al Gore showed up in the news again on Groundhog Day, claiming that the massive snow storms pounding the US and around the world are, you guessed it, the result of climate disruption caused by human beings which will result in overall warming and dooooom! As Marc Mareno notes at Climate Depot, in his film An Inconvenient Truth, Gore claimed that lack of snow in various parts of the world was evidence of global warming. We were told repeatedly by climate hysterics that kids would not see snowy winters any longer. No climate modeling or prediction by climate alarmists expected increased cooling or massive snows like we're having. None. But naturally, everything that happens is evidence of global climate disruption caused by human activity, for the faux scientist.

ABC News Specialist Bob Woodruff is their go-to guy for environmental issues, and he's always ready with the latest alarmist cant. Well now we know why: he's been working with the hard left environmentalist radical group Waterkeeper Alliance. Once this was brought to light, ABC news began disciplinary investigations because of his lack of objectivity. As Andrew Breitbart reports at Big Journalism:
Upon returning to work, he was assigned a position as the host and chief correspondent for the Discovery Channel’s “Focus Earth,” an ABC News-produced eco-program focusing on issues such as “environmental injustice,” climate change, and “population overload.” In that capacity Mr. Woodruff reported on environmental issues.
There's a lot more details. Basically its like having a big tobacco lobbyist do your special reports on health risks of smoking. We'll see what, if anything, ABC does.

Ronald Reagan would have been 100 years old this year. If you read or watch the news this year, you'd think they all loved and respected the president but having lived in those years, I know very differently. The Media Research Center went through many archives and compiled the hate, fear, anger, and incredible media bias directed at President Reagan by the left, the Democratic party, and the legacy media. They hated him more than they hated President Bush.

Michael Barone noticed something about President Obama's State of the Union Speech. It was really old sounding. Not old as in traditional, stately, and filled with history, but old as in dated and out of time. Barone writes:
Barack Obama, like all American politicians, likes to portray himself as future-oriented and open to technological progress. Yet the vision he set out in his State of the Union address is oddly antique and disturbingly static.

"This is our generation's Sputnik moment," he said. But Sputnik and America's supposedly less advanced rocket programs of 1957 were government projects, at a time when government defense spending, like the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb, drove technology.

But today, as Obama noted a few sentences before, "our free enterprise system is what drives innovation." Private firms develop software faster than government can procure it.
...
And then there is transportation. "Within 25 years," Obama said, "our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. This could allow you," he said breathlessly, "to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying."

Wow! There's some advanced technology. Except that France inaugurated service on its TGV high-speed rail from Paris to Lyon in 1981. That's 30 years ago.
...
It's as antique as the Tomorrowland of the original Disneyland.
That doesn't make it wrong, just weird and unlikely to appeal to his main support group: clueless young people.

Courtney Bowles teaches other teachers about how to avoid becoming involved with their students when she's not a regular teacher. Why do you care? Because she was caught literally naked on top of one of her 16 year old students. Well they say it takes a thief to catch one, apparently she knew best about the topic from personal experience. Yet again I am utterly baffled by a grown, attractive woman lusting after an awkward, pimply teenager.

Egypt is still in turmoil, at least partly due to food shortages (caused at least partly by idiotic biofuel subsidies), and some of the main targets of oppression and attack during these troubles are Coptic Christians. Even before the current rebellion Coptic Christians have been the target of violence and often government-sanctioned abuse. However, at the EU, that's something they didn't care to bring up. Baroness Ashton is the EU's Foreign Minister, and she produced a report on the events which mentioned violence against people but specifically, deliberately, and conspicuously left out the fact that Muslims are targeting Christians for abuse and attack. Bruno Waterfield writes at the Telegraph:
Talks ended angrily when Italy accused Lady Ashton, the EU's foreign minister, of "excessive" political correctness because she refused to name any specific religious group as a victim of attacks.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister, demanded an EU response on the persecution of Christians after a New Year suicide bombing at a Coptic church in northern Egypt in which 23 people were killed.
...
Mr Frattini, backed by France, said it pointless to issue statements defending religious tolerance without any references to the specific minority, Christians, that was under attack
Frankly I'm amazed there's anyone left in Europe's leadership that would object to this.

Today the Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report that confirmed something pretty much everyone already knew. As John Sexton at Hot Air puts it: "Political Correctness Prevented FBI, DoD from Stopping Maj. Hasan." You can read the report and his analysis, basically because he was Muslim and Arabic, they didn't want to do anything to stop his increasingly radical and unprofessional behavior for fear it wouldn't be inclusive, diverse, and multicultural.

Raleigh North Carolina, like a lot of cities, has traffic problems. A group of citizens got together and worked out an 8-page plan on how to fix the problem and submitted it to the state Department of Transportation. The DOT's response? Start a criminal investigation on whoever came up with the report for "practicing engineering without a license." Those citizens broke the first rule of government: they made someone in power look bad.

Every time you fill out taxes, you have a chance to donate 3 dollars - not of your tax refund or payment - to political campaigns. Nobody I know does it. Nobody in the memory of anyone who works at the local H&R Block has ever done it. Apparently though, there are 7.3% of the filing public who actually do this, according to the Washington Examiner. Here's the thing: it comes out of tax money, that doesn't show up out of nowhere, so you're paying for it every time someone checks that box. The Examiner thinks that should go away, and so do I.

Although homosexuals make up a very small portion of the population, they have a very disproportionate voice in the public arena, so much so that governments change policy to please this tiny population. Take England, where March has been declared "LGBT History Month," and there are special lesson plans being drawn up. Jasper Copping at the Telegraph explains:
Among the suggestions are:

Maths – teaching statistics through census findings about the number of homosexuals in the population, and using gay characters in scenarios for maths problems;

Design and technology – encouraging pupils to make symbols linked to the gay rights movement;

Science – studying animal species where the male takes a leading role in raising young, such as emperor penguins and sea horses, and staging class discussions on different family structures, including same-sex parents;

Geography – examining the transformation of San Francisco's Castro district in the 1960s from a working-class Irish area to the world's first "gay neighbourhood", and considering why homosexuals move from the countryside to cities;

Languages – using gay characters in role play scenarios, and teaching "LGBT vocabulary".
...
For younger children, the plans will suggest using images of same sex couples and also promoting books such as "And Tango Makes Three", which is about two male penguins raising a young chick, inspired by actual events at New York's Central Park Zoo.
Yeah. Gay math. Coming soon to a school district near you, if you live in some areas of America. Here's a clue: if you'd just shut up about your perversion, people tend to leave you alone and figure you can do whatever you want in private. The more you push it in people's faces, the more annoyed they get. Like Larry the Cable Guy jokes:
I know guys who love sheep but they don't feel like they gotta to hold a parade every Friday!
You're hurting your cause.

Sandmonkey is a blogger in Egypt who I've linked to and done stories about in the past, and he's not blogging at the moment. Apparently he was arrested for a while then let go, but independent journalist Michael Totten has his last post available to read. Go check it all out, but especially note this bit about the government's pathetic propaganda:
In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it’s the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.
The sad thing is, that kind of thing works really well over there.

According to a new study done in Britain, kids who grow up playing video games like Need for Speed, Gran Tourismo, and others are lousy drivers. Learning to drive largely based on physics- and consequence-free video games, they claim, results in people having an unrealistic understanding of real life driving. Mark Hinchcliffe writes for the Daily Telegraph:
The British study of 2000 UK motorists, commissioned by tyre company Continental, found gamers were more likely to speed, suffered from road rage and were more likely to be stopped by police.
How valid this is is in some question (2000 seems like a pretty small number of drivers) but I can't help but think of the Top Gear episode in which Jeremy Clarkson compared driving a given track in a given car on a video game with trying it in real life.

The US Senate voted on the House bill to repeal the Government Health Insurance Takeover Act, which was declared unconstitutional recently by a federal judge. The overall vote failed on exact party lines, putting the "conservative blue dog Democrat" idea to death. However, one portion of the bill was repealed, one that would have required businesses to file thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of 1099 forms every year. Although the bill was praised, adored, and embraced with joy by President Obama, when it was actually read even he admitted in his state of the union speech that this bit should be removed. Now for the rest of the bill.

Dana Milbank at MSNBC declared February to be Palin-free, and called for everyone else to do the same thing. This is the smartest thing her opponents could do, but they just can't help themselves. Sure enough, just under sixteen hours into the month, Milbank brings up Sarah Palin:
I survived Day One of my February Sarah Palin moratorium, defeating the evil plans of ABC News’s Rick Klein.
They just can't help it, and all that does is help her stay in the public eye.

And that's the Word Around the Net for February 4, 2011.

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