Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Polish invent "Communist Monopoly" game



'Communist Monopoly' Teaches Downside of Socialist Life
[...] Just like in the original Monopoly, acquisition is the name of the game. In this case, however, that means struggling to get basic necessities such as food, clothing and furniture. "In the game, you send your family out to get items on a shopping list and they find that the five shops are sold out or that there hasn't been a delivery that day," the IPN's Karol Madaj told SPIEGEL ONLINE Thursday, explaining that the game "highlights the tough realities of life under Communism."

Indeed, there are many ways in which the game, which is called "Kolejka" after the Polish word for queue or line, builds frustration. Some rules allow other players to jump the line and get the last of a certain product, while others force players to give up their place in the queue.

Madaj emphasizes that the game was not inspired by any nostalgia for the Communist era, which lasted from the end of World War II until 1989. Instead, the IPN wants to educate young people who do not remember Communism by using the game as a tool to open up dialogue between the generations. "Those who were too young to remember how it was back then will be able to play this game with their parents or grandparents and maybe talk about how things were for the older generation," says Madaj.

Queue Jumping and Inside Information

Just like in the Communist era, players can leverage certain advantages to get what they need. The "colleague in the government" card is the equivalent of the famous "get out of jail free" card in Monopoly. Any player lucky enough to have one of these beauties can secretly find out when the next deliveries will arrive in the shops. Mothers with children are allowed to jump the line as well. [...]

Maybe they should call it "Monotony: the bored game".

Speaking of the Real Monopoly game, here's a good article that uses the game as an analogy of our real life economic situation today, by economist Amity Shlaes:

The Rules of the Game and Economic Recovery
THE MONOPOLY BOARD GAME originated during the Great Depression. At first its inventor, Charles Darrow, could not interest manufacturers. Parker Brothers turned the game down, citing “52 design errors.” But Darrow produced his own copies of the game, and Parker Brothers finally bought Monopoly. By 1935, the New York Times was reporting that “leading all other board games … is the season’s craze, ‘Monopoly,’ the game of real estate.”

Most of us are familiar with the object of Monopoly: the accumulation of property on which one places houses and hotels, and from which one receives revenue. Many of us have a favorite token. Perennially popular is the top hat, which symbolizes the sort of wealth to which Americans who work hard can aspire. The top hat is a token that has remained in the game, even while others have changed over the decades.

One’s willingness to play Monopoly depends on a few conditions—for instance, a predictable number of “Pay Income Tax” cards. These cards are manageable when you know in advance the amount of money printed on them and how many of them are in the deck. It helps, too, that there are a limited and predictable number of “Go to Jail” cards. This is what Frank Knight of the University of Chicago would call a knowable risk, as opposed to an uncertainty. Likewise, there must be a limited and predictable number of “Chance” cards. In other words, there has to be some certainty that property rights are secure and that the risks to property are few in number and can be managed.

The bank must be dependable, too. There is a fixed supply of Monopoly money and the bank is supposed to follow the rules of the game, exercising little or no independent discretion. If players sit down at the Monopoly board only to discover a bank that overreaches or is too unpredictable or discretionary, we all know what happens. They will walk away from the board. There is no game. [...]

She then explains the relevance of the Monopoly analogy to the 1930's. She goes into detail, using specific events to illustrate her premises.

I've often heard that government interference and intervention at the time actually prolonged the depression by eroding confidence and creating instability. Here, Shlaes offers the damning evidence for all to see. After explaining in detail, looking at causes and effects, she then demonstrates their relevance to the events of our times:
[...] It is not hard to see some of today’s troubles as a repeat of the errors of the 1930s. There is arrogance up top. The federal government is dilettantish with money and exhibits disregard and even hostility to all other players. It is only as a result of this that economic recovery seems out of reach.

The key to recovery, now as in the 1930s, is to be found in property rights. These rights suffer under our current politics in several ways. The mortgage crisis, for example, arose out of a long-standing erosion of the property rights concept—first on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but also on that of the Federal Reserve. Broadening FDR’s entitlement theories, Congress taught the country that home ownership was a “right.” This fostered a misunderstanding of what property is. The owners didn’t realize what ownership entailed—that is, they didn’t grasp that they were obligated to deliver on the terms of the contract of their mortgage. In the bipartisan enthusiasm for making everyone an owner, our government debased the concept of home ownership.

Property rights are endangered as well by the ongoing assault on contracts generally. A perfect example of this was the treatment of Chrysler bonds during the company’s bankruptcy, where senior secured creditors were ignored, notwithstanding the status of their bonds under bankruptcy law. The current administration made a political decision to subordinate those contracts to union demands. That sent a dangerous signal for the future that U.S. bonds are not trustworthy.

Three other threats to property loom. One is tax increases, such as the coming expiration of the Bush tax cuts. More taxes mean less private property. A second threat is in the area of infrastructure. Stimulus plans tend to emphasize infrastructure—especially roads and railroads. And after the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision of 2005, the federal government will have enormous license to use eminent domain to claim private property for these purposes. Third and finally, there is the worst kind of confiscation of private property: inflation, which excessive government spending necessarily encourages. Many of us sense that inflation is closer than the country thinks.

If the experience of the Great Depression teaches anything, it is that property rights must be firmly established or else we will not have the kind of economic activity that leads to strong recovery. The Monopoly board game reminds us that economic growth isn’t mysterious and inscrutable. Economic growth depends on the impulse of the small businessman and entrepreneur to get back in the game. In order for this to happen, we don’t need a perfect government. All we need is one that is “not too bad,” whose rules are not constantly changing and snuffing out the willingness of these players to take risks. We need a government under which the money supply doesn’t change unpredictably, there are not too many “Go to Jail” cards, and the top hats are confident in the possibility of seeing significant returns on investment. [...]

It's definitely worth reading the whole thing. If you don't have the time to buy and read here book, this lecture she gave is the next best thing.
     

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Vegetarians and The Bacon Temptation

Why Bacon Is A Gateway To Meat For Vegetarians
[...] It seems that bacon has a way of awakening carnivorous desires within even some of the preachiest of vegetarians. And we set out to find out why.

We asked some scientists who study how food tantalizes the brain, and sociologists who've looked closely at vegetarianism, about bacon's seductive powers.

Our story was familiar to Johan Lundstrom. He's a scientist who runs a lab at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. He studies how the brain processes sensory information, like smell, for a living. He also told us he had an ex-girlfriend who became an ex-vegetarian once she tasted bacon.

Because bacon is one- to two-thirds fat and also has lots of protein, it speaks to our evolutionary quest for calories, Lundstrom says. And since 90 percent of what we taste is really odor, bacon's aggressive smell delivers a powerful hit to our sense of how good it will taste.

"There's an intimate connection between odor and emotion, and odor and memory," Lundstrom says. "When you pair that with the social atmosphere of weekend breakfast and hunger, bacon is in the perfect position to take advantage of how the brain is wired." [...]

I can believe it. Bacon tempts like no other meat can.
     

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From "California Dream", to "Hell Hole"

22 Facts About California That Make You Wonder Why Anyone Would Still Want To Live In That Hellhole Of A State
... what most people are focused on right now is the horrific financial condition that the state of California currently is in. Governor Brown recently summarized his analysis of California's financial condition with the following statement: "We've been living in fantasy land. It is much worse than I thought. I'm shocked."

Yes, things really are that bad in California.

The following are 22 facts about California that make you wonder why anyone would still want to live in that hellhole of a state....

What? ONLY 22? Having lived there for 24 years, I can tell ya, there's more.

Here is how they got where they are now:

Harsh Truth About California. And Our Nation?

And this, I think, may be their only way out:

Best option to avoid a massive federal bailout
     

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Islamists to gain ground in Middle East politics

At least that's the way it looks to be unfolding:

As Tunisians Cheer Egypt, Islamist Leader Returns

Now it's being predicted that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood will also rise to power in Egypt, and replace the current Dictatorship of Mubarak.

Years ago, I posted about the Nazi roots of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the actual, strong, historical connections. It begs the question: how much are they still like that, today? Or can we say, "That was then, this is now?"

There are people who claim that the Muslim Brotherhood is more moderate. It has defenders like Omar Sharif, who see it as a force for good. Can it be? Will it be? Is it possible?

In the late 70's, the Islamists in Iran claimed to be moderate, but we saw what happened when they got power. I think it's that kind of drastic change that Hillary Clinton wants to avoid, while at the same time recognizing that change IS coming:

Clinton: U.S. not taking sides in Egypt
[...] Clinton waffled Sunday on the political upheaval in Egypt, praising and decrying the process in a Fox News interview.

Clinton's diplomatic skills were tested in the interview when pressed about the uprising that has killed more than 50 people in Egypt, where the 30-year autocratic rule of Mubarak is being challenged.

She also hinted the United States sees an end to Mubarak's reign.

"We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void, that there's not a void, that there be a well thought-out plan that will bring about a democratic, participatory government," Clinton said.

Despite the "transition" reference, Clinton said there was confidence in Washington about Mubarak's governance. [...]

I'm sure the White House is hedging it's bets, because they are uncertain about who's going to come out on top. We have just a little influence, but no control, over that. I think that the "orderly transition" that she spoke of is going to be their main focus. It sounds like the best plan. Helping to avoid that "void".

The U.S. is often accused by Leftists of tolerating dictators. But if we over-throw a dictator, like we did in Iraq, we are accused of meddling in foreign affairs where we don't belong. Damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

The fact is, we often have to deal with governments we would rather not deal with, because we have no control and little influence over their internal affairs.

In another interview I read, Clinton said that the Egyptian people are going to choose who their leadership is. I suspect she's right, and we will just have to deal with it.

And if the Muslim Brotherhood is "it", well, lets hope that Omar Sharif's optimism regarding them is at least somewhat justified.
     

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Wouxun KG-UVD1P/440 dual bander

I read that "Wouxun" is pronounced "Oh-sheng". This inexpensive Chinese import is becoming very popular:


The Wouxun KG-UVD1P
[...] The Wouxun KG-UVD1P/440 dual bander presents great value in a well built, compact package. It provides 5 watts on 2 meters and 4 watts on 440 MHz. Many advanced features are supported including: 128 alphanumeric memories with scanning, multi frequency steps (5, 6.25, 10, 25, 50, 100 kHz), CTCSS (50 groups), DCS (105 groups), CTCSS/DCS Scan (Digital/Analog), 1750Hz tone, DTMF encode, high-low power, busy channel lock-out, VOX, wide-narrow bandwidth (25kHz/12.5kHz) and keypad lock.

Many operational functions and parameters can be menu selected. There is a special SOS and stopwatch function. It even receives the regular FM broadcast band (76-108 MHz). Please note that the antenna jack on the radio is an SMA male. Your Wouxun KG-UVD1P/440 comes with: Li-Ion battery, intelligent drop-in charger, flexible SMA antenna and belt clip. [...]

Customers who have bought it write their own reviews:

eHam.net: Reviews Summary for WOUXUN KG-UVD1P

Here is a review with more photos:

www.worldwidedx.com: Wouxun KG-UVD1P Review
     

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Vaping - an alternative to smoking tobacco

I came across this while looking for something else entirely:

Vaping – e-smoking My alternative to smoking tobacco
So in my tradition of being a weirdo, I may have found my solution to finally quit smoking.

I’ve taken up ‘vaping’, using a PV (personal vaporizer) to consume nicotine as an alternative to actually smoking. I’ll outline what it’s all about on this page for those who are interested.

Before moving on… This is for people who already smoke. If you don’t smoke, do NOT do this. If you do smoke, make your own informed decision on this as an alternative. What I find is working for me may kill you for all I know.

What is it?

An e-cigarette in a nutshell is a PV (personal vaporizer) that takes a base liquid, generally Propylene Glycol (PG) or Vegetable Glycerine (VG) infused with nicotine and flavoring and vaporizes it into a mist for inhalation.

PG very briefly is a pharmaceutical and food grade base used in a myriad of things from asthma inahlers to all sorts of household goods. PG is also the base liquid you have surely seen in fog machines in dance clubs.

You may find some whack job sites that insist that PG is antifreeze…this is simply not true. They are not the same thing at all. It is as absurd as telling people that because they make hydrogen bombs with hydrogen, they shouldn’t drink water. The information from the antis is incredibly ignorant.

Why? [...]

Read the whole thing for more details.
     

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

One Sided "Civility" is really just "Censorship"

Advocate of Violence
Frances Fox Piven and the New York Times's dishonest campaign for "civility."
[...] They may not agree with what you say, but they'll fight to the death for your right to remain silent.

And the New York Times will cheer them on in that fight. Why is a newspaper that has been posturing as the scourge of violent rhetoric now siding with a purveyor of such rhetoric, and blatantly slanting the news as it does so? Because her opponent is a prominent media figure from outside the old media establishment. Because Glenn Beck is a threat to the authority of the New York Times. [...]

Read the details, and weep. Talk about twisting things.

When civility is demanded from only one political side, how is that any different from censorship? Someone please explain it to the NY Times.


Also see:

HEARD OF PROFESSORS CLOWARD AND PIVEN?
     

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mary Steenburgen's dead dog guides her from beyond the grave

Ok, I admit, it's more subtle than that!

I had some dental work done recently, and in the dentist's office was this issue of Guideposts magazine.

There was an article by Mary Steenburgen, about a much beloved dog she had had, and how she eventually came to get another to replace it.

The title I used for this blog post sounds like something from the National Inquirer, but the title Guideposts used was much more tasteful, and it's actually a pretty good story:

The Dog of My Dreams
Actress Mary Steenburgen knows that a dog can change your life. She's had two inspiring canine earth angels do just that!
My 12-year-old dog Lucy was lying under the kitchen table, one of her favorite spots.

She looked up at me with those intelligent eyes of hers—one blue, one brown—but I knew when she didn’t get up to greet me that the day I’d been dreading had come. I called the veterinarian, who’d taken good care of Lucy ever since I’d adopted her, and asked her to come over one last time.

I sat down on the floor next to her to wait for the vet, stroking her fur and thinking back on everything we’d been through together. Lucy was part Australian shepherd, part Queensland heeler. A rescue, so you could say I saved her life. Really, though, she saved mine. That’s why I thought of her as my angel here on earth.

When I met Lucy at the Humane Society, I was living with my two children in an old farmhouse in Ojai, a laid-back California town with paths made for strolling, gorgeous sunsets and mountains all around. Although I worked in Hollywood, I didn’t want my kids to grow up there. I wanted my daughter and son to have an upbringing more like my own back in Arkansas.

The farmhouse had a curvy staircase and on Christmas morning, I insisted the kids come down it with their hands over their eyes. “Okay, everybody, open your eyes!” I’d say. I loved to see them take in the presents, the tree, the lights…the wonder of Christmas.

It didn’t take Lucy long to fit into our family. She decided her job was to watch over us, like any good herding dog. She claimed certain spots—a particular section of the sofa, under the kitchen table, outside by the lavender, places where she could keep an eye on things. She snapped at bees and occasionally got stung. She even took part in our rituals, like coming down the stairs with the kids on Christmas morning (though she didn’t put her paw over her eyes).

One day I got home from grocery shopping and Lucy trotted out to the driveway to greet me. I walked slowly on the gravel because I couldn’t quite see around the bags I was carrying. All of a sudden Lucy blocked my way. I moved to the right to go around her. She blocked me again. [...]

Read the whole thing, it's a wonderful story. It made me a bit teary, not just because I love dogs, but because her dog Lucy, reminded me of my dog,
Saffron, who was also an Aussie Shepard Mix with one blue eye, that we rescued from the Dog Pound. I'm glad to see Mary did the same, and that her next one was a rescue, too. Bless her!


Also see:

Mary Steenburgen Loves Dogs

Mary Steenburgen's Tips for Positive Thinking
     

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China's "State Capitalism" and "Ghost Cities"

Did the power of the first, create the second? Time Magazine has this article:

Why China Does Capitalism Better than the U.S.
[...] As Western democracies shuffle wheezily forward, China's economy roars along at a steady clip, having lifted some half a billion people out of poverty over the past three decades and rapidly created the world's largest middle class to provide an engine for long-term domestic consumer demand. Sure, there's massive social inequality, but there always is in a capitalist system. (Income inequality rates in the U.S. are some of the worst in the industrialized world, and more Americans are falling into poverty than are being raised out of it. The number of Americans officially designated as living in poverty in 2009 — 43 million — was the highest in the 51 years that records have been kept.)

Beijing is also doing a far more effective job than Washington of tooling its economy to meet future challenges — at least according to historian Francis Fukuyama, erstwhile neoconservative intellectual heavyweight. "President Hu Jintao's rare state visit to Washington this week comes at a time when many Chinese see their weathering of the financial crisis as a vindication of their own system, and the beginning of an era in which U.S.-style liberal ideas will no longer be dominant," wrote Fukuyama in Monday's Financial Times under a headline stating that the U.S. had little to teach China. "State-owned enterprises are back in vogue, and were the chosen mechanism through which Beijing administered its massive stimulus."

Today Chinese leaders are more inclined to scold the U.S. — its debtor to the tune of close to a trillion dollars — than to emulate it, and Fukuyama noted that polls show that a larger percentage of Chinese believe their country is headed in the right direction, compared with Americans. China's success in navigating the economic crisis, wrote Fukuyama, was based on the ability of its authoritarian political system to "make large, complex decisions quickly, and ... make them relatively well, at least in economic policy."

These are startling observations from a writer who, 19 years ago, famously proclaimed that the collapse of the Soviet Union heralded "the end of history as such ... That is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

[...]

But Fukuyama also made a point about the comparative inability of the U.S. system to respond decisively to a long-term crisis. "China adapts quickly, making difficult decisions and implementing them effectively," Fukuyama wrote. "Americans pride themselves on constitutional checks and balances, based on a political culture that distrusts centralised government. This system has ensured individual liberty and a vibrant private sector, but it has now become polarised and ideologically rigid. At present it shows little appetite for dealing with the long-term fiscal challenges the U.S. faces. Democracy in America may have an inherent legitimacy that the Chinese system lacks, but it will not be much of a model to anyone if the government is divided against itself and cannot govern." [...]

While it does kick around some interesting ideas, there is much about this article that is annoying, but, well, it is TIME magazine. I'd pick it to pieces, but there are plenty of folks that do that in the comments that follow the article.

One of those comments had some links in it. I found this one particularly interesting:

Amazing Satellite Images Of The Ghost Cities Of China

It shows about 20 photos, with descriptive captions, of various new cites that are sitting empty or mostly empty. Empty houses. Empty sky scrapers. Empty streets. One city shown is said to have cost 19 billion dollars to build.

Last May I linked to an article about China's housing bubble. The article said that as much as 60 percent of China’s gross domestic product relies on construction. But if they have already built way more cities than they can actually use, then that construction will have to drop off sharply, won't it? The article also predicted the Chinese economy could "crash" within 9 to 12 months, when their housing bubble bursts.

Next month will be nine months since the article was published. May of this year, it will be 12 months. So we shall see how that pans out. But these ghost cities that cost billions of dollars... won't it catch up with them eventually?

State Capitalism may be able to do things quicker than our system, with it's checks and balances. But quicker is not necessarily better, when it's just allowing their government to make major MEGA spending blunders faster.

Meanwhile, I have to wonder what the global repercussions will be, when those Chinese Bubbles begin to burst?


Also see:

China’s “Terminal Phase” of Credit Bubble Excess

The real cost of Chinese NPLs
     

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Does America's No. 1 creditor, China, hold the ultimate weapon? Would they use it?

China's Debt Bomb
'He who pays the piper calls the tune": That old saying captures perfectly America's growing dependence on our No. 1 creditor in the world, Communist China.

By their carelessness Congress and the Obama administration are steadily handing over control of America's economic and financial future to a handful of Chinese officials and generals in Beijing. Those who think the Chinese won't use that control if they feel they have to are ignoring history -- and the Chinese.

The ancient military strategist Sun Tzu said that the best strategy was to render an opponent's army helpless even before the battle began. America may still have the biggest and best military in the world.

But many at the Pentagon are starting to realize that, thanks to our growing fiscal irresponsibility, we may be surrendering control of America's destiny to a rival superpower -- and all without a shot being fired.

[...]

History shows that nations that can't control their economic fortunes don't control much else. Debt freezes destinies -- as every credit-card holder knows.

Europeans discovered that after World War II, when they lost the power to make major decisions without first checking with their lender-in-chief, the United States. At that time, we used our economic dominance to rebuild Europe, not reduce it to impotence.

On the other hand, If US-China relations continue to deteriorate -- over arms sales to Taiwan, Internet freedom issues, Chinese industrial espionage and a Chinese military build-up that looks more and more like it's directed at challenging US power in Asia -- our lenders-in-chief in Beijing may not be so scrupulous.

Indeed, back in 1999, the Chinese literally wrote the book on how to use economic asymmetries as a blunt instrument, entitled "Unrestricted Warfare."

It draws no meaningful distinction between military, economic and political force (including using cyberspace) as means to defeat an enemy. Instead, it shows how a nation can dominate its opponents not with planes, ships and soldiers, but with foreign exchange rates, trade embargoes and armies of computer hackers.

Suppose that in retaliation for some slight China decides to stop buying Treasury bonds, forcing our debt to cost us even more. A furious US Congress hits back with trade sanctions. China then responds by driving up the price of the dollar, crippling US exports -- or, alternately, it crashes the dollar by dumping its foreign reserves, even as Chinese computer hackers slow down our banks' ability to respond to the crisis.

No one will call this a war. But it will certainly fit the classic definition of war as politics by other means. And the Pentagon knows it.

Last March, the Pentagon held its first-ever economic-warfare war game, with China as the putative opponent and with economists and bankers (including from UBS) helping out.

Details of what unfolded are still classified. However, sources told Fox Business News that the scenario played out as planned. That was the good news.

The bad news is that China won. [...]

So what's it all mean? Read the whole thing, and connect the dots.

And yes, it also mentions reasons why China would be reluctant to do many of these things. The question is, what changes in circumstances would make them less reluctant?
     

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What the Very Elderly all have in common

Oldest African-American dies at 113
(CNN) -- Mississippi Winn didn't get caught up in the amazing statistics that accompanied someone her age.

Only 1 in 5 million people in the industrialized world live to be 110. About 60 people that age live in the United States, with another 300 or so scattered around the globe. Nine of 10 are women.

Winn was believed to be the oldest living African-American when she died Friday afternoon in Shreveport, Louisiana, at 113.

Investigator Milton Carroll of the Caddo Parish Coroner's Office said he was not permitted to disclose a cause of death, but a relative said Winn -- who was nicknamed "Sweetie" -- had been in declining health since last autumn.

Robert Young, a senior claims researcher with the Gerontology Research Group and a senior consultant for Guinness World Records, visited Winn at Magnolia Manor Nursing Home in July 2010.

[...]

Winn, who did not marry and lived independently until 103, appears to have lived a life that made her especially well-qualified for the elite club of supercentenarians -- those who live to be 110 or older.

"She had always been kind to others," Hollins said on Saturday. "She was always respectful."

[...]

The secret to living to and past 110, besides not having an unhealthy weight, said Young, is a positive attitude and emotional and physical stability. Most supercentenarians take little medication during their lives, he said.

"They do things in moderation," he said. "They don't get upset."

Most were still walking at age 105, he added.

[...]

Winn was clear about what she liked.

"She was a disciplinarian," said Hollins. Right or wrong, it was her way."

A member of Avenue Baptist Church, Winn received visits from church members and was able to attend a service on August 29. The chuch will hold her funeral next Saturday.

She outlived many of her church friends.

"When each one passed I could see part of her leaving with them," said Hollins, whose grandmother was Winn's sister.

In time, Winn came to enjoy the attention paid to her age.

But she remained even-keeled, said Hollins, recalling what her great-aunt would say.

"I'm just going to stay here until he's ready for me."

The oldest known African-American is now Mamie Rearden of Edgefield, South Carolina, who is 112.

The world's oldest known living person is Eunice Sanborn, 114, of Jacksonville, Texas, according to Young.
     

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Leftwing Lunatic threatens to kill Republicans

Man Shot in Tucson Rampage Is Arrested at a TV Taping

I saw this guy, J. Eric Fuller, on TV before he was arrested. He was apologizing to the parents of Jared Loughner, for insulting their son the shooter, who shot him in the knee. Then the next day Fuller's arrested for making death threats to Republicans.

The Left has NOTHING to teach the Right about civil discourse. They don't even really care about that anyway, they just want to use any excuse to silence political opposition, by any means. It's all about tactics to them, not consistency; whatever works in the moment.

If they really wanted civil discourse, they could start by practicing it themselves. I won't hold my breath.
     

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Giffords shooting was not about rhetoric

Though the Left and their allies in the media are desperately trying to make it about that. But the facts to support that narrative are not there:

The one thing the media can’t stand to tell you about Gabrielle Giffords
[...] Watching the coverage of the story this weekend was truly perplexing. The left immediately jumped to blame the right before we even knew he name of the shooter. The right correctly defended itself pointing out that most of his rhetoric was from the left. At moments of attempted fairness, both sides say that they have some responsibility for angry rhetoric. The media, which is forever trying to elevate itself above that which it covers, claims that one thing we can all agree on is that there is a problem with the discourse in this country.

However, the one thing that no one seems to want to talk about is that after looking at the gunman and his ramblings, I don’t see how a discussion about rhetoric applies at all.

The truth is, unless there are a lot of new facts to come that we don’t know about yet, this shooting says absolutely nothing about our political discourse. Nothing. In fact, it says absolutely nothing about society as a whole. Zero.

I know this is disappointing to politicians and the media, but sometimes the story just isn’t about you. It’s about the people who were shot, and the person who shot them.

Think about this. Jared Lee Loughner was fixated on Gabrielle Giffords since at least August 2007. You might recognize that date as occurring approximately two years before the Tea Party existed. When he had a chance to finally interact with her, he asked her a question about grammar. Grammar.

He’s just crazy. There’s no larger story here. There’s no there there.

The media and political hacks have used this tragedy as an excuse to talk about something they want to talk about—supposed right wing violence. There is absolutely no evidence at this time that supports that the right wing had anything to do with the killers actions. It’s the ultimate “when did you stop beating your wife” storyline. Conservatives are forced to defend themselves against a charge that no one with any evidence is presenting. [...]


This is what the Left always tries to do. When the facts aren't on their side, they can't win an argument, so they have to resort to silencing the messenger by any means possible, even completely dishonest means:

A Horrid Crime, a Dishonest Debate
[...] The atrocity has called on us to indulge a double fantasy. First, that it is worth the time and effort to engage Obama’s base in a debate about the root cause of the shootings, and specifically about whether what the Left frames as an atmosphere of toxic rhetoric (translation: the Tea Party, talk radio, and Fox News) is to blame. Second, that without such a debate, we wouldn’t and couldn’t know why this atrocity happened.

To grasp the absurdity of the first point, one need only remember the reaction to terrorist attacks by two jihadists: Maj. Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 people and wounded numerous others in the Fort Hood massacre, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to explode a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009. There could not have been a more committed effort to deny that Islamist ideology and its hateful rhetoric had anything whatsoever to do with these events.

Very simply: The Left likes Islam and sympathizes with the Islamist critique of America, while it seethes with contempt for the likes of Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, and any person or institution that can serve as a symbol of conservatism or bourgeois American life. Consequently, any heinous act that can be contorted, however counterfactually, into a condemnation of the Right will be exploited for that purpose. Conversely, there is to be quick rationalization for, and then studious suppression of, any shameful episode that is too clearly traceable to a leftist cause célèbre — Islam, a movie pining for George W. Bush’s assassination, ghoulish wishes that Clarence Thomas or Dick Cheney will meet swift and painful deaths, or Senate Democrats’ comparing U.S. troops to Nazis, Soviets, Pol Pot, or terrorists.

There is no point debating any of this. Two years ago, we were still being told dissent was the highest form of patriotism; now it’s the root cause of murderous rampage. Modern leftists are tacticians. They’ve convinced themselves of the rightness of their cause, obviating the need to be consistent or faithful to facts in any single episode. For them, it’s all about how the episode can be spun to help the cause. That’s worth understanding, but not debating.

Second, can we forget that Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn’s atrocities transformed them into icons of the modern Left — respected “educators” still passionate about “social justice”? Barack Obama didn’t say, “I’ll have nothing to do with unrepentant terrorists who dedicate books to deranged assassins.” He chose to hold his political coming-out party in their living room and cultivated relationships with them, just as he cultivated a relationship with other hate-mongering radicals.

It is as stupid to claim that rhetoric causes violence as it is to claim that normal people can be entrapped into terrorism. What vitriolic thing would someone need to say to you, whether the vitriol could be cast as right-wing or left-wing, that would get you to pick up a gun and start spraying bullets at people with whom you disagreed, however vigorously, about some political or social issue? It wouldn’t happen. It couldn’t happen.

If wanton violence has a cause other than mental illness, it is a culture that lionizes the savages. That culture is not the culture of the Tea Partiers so despised by the Left. [...]

The Left is always accusing other people of doing what they themselves are doing. Earlier in the article, it's mentioned that Ayer's and Dohrn had dedicated a book to Bobby Kennedy's assassin, Sirhan Sirhan. It's clear who their hero's are, and the tactics they approve of.

And these folks, and their supporters, accuse the Tea Partiers of complicity in the Gifford shooting, without any evidence? They tell us not to rush to judgment in about the Fort Hood shootings, but they themselves rush to judgment about the Giffords shooting before we even know any of the facts, before we even know what the shooters name is?

The shooting was not about rhetoric. Don't play the game. Call them on it.
     

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Is Tucson Sheriff Clarence Dupnik culpable in the Giffords shooting? By failing to do his job?

There are reports that he knew of many death threats by Loughner, but failed to take action:

Jared Loughner is a product of Sheriff Dupnik’s office

Did the Sheriff fail to act, because Loughner's mother was a county employee? Is it true that if the Sheriff had done his job, Jared Loughner would have been flagged as dangerous, and not been eligable to purchase a gun?

Where is the MSM on this story? Isn't this the sort of thing journalists are supposed to investigate? No, apparently not. Instead, they are too busy helping Democrat Demagogues to declare war on talk-radio.

As the Dems on the far Left like to say, "Never waste a crisis tragedy".
     

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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Left: Never waste a crisis tragedy

This is very well said. From Neal Boortz:

THE TUCSON TRAGEDY

What SHOULD we be talking about in the aftermath of the horrible shooting in Tucson? We should be praying for the compete recovery of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. We should be expressing our sympathy of the families of the other victims. We should be discussing the irony of a little girl born on September 11, 2001 being killed in a senseless act of violence nine years later. There should be discussions on failures in our system that permits mentally deranged people access to weapons and political leaders. Discussion on security for our elected officials would also be appropriate. Though these items were included in the conversation over the weekend .. they all took a back seat to talk driven by the left and the ObamaMedia over the supposed role that evil right wingers, Sarah Palin and the Tea Parties in particular, played in this situation.

We all remember Rahm Emmanuel's comment at the beginning of the Obama reign: "Never let a crisis go to waste." We only need to change one word there. "Crisis" to "tragedy."

The shooting rampage in Tucson on Saturday was horrific, and by any definition a tragedy. Today we know that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, is clearly deranged. Classmates and acquaintances alike speak of his strange behavior. Click here to see a picture of a shrine this maniac had in a tent in his back yard. This was not a political act. It was not an act of terrorism. A terrorist kills people in order to spread terror for the purpose of effecting political change. Loughner was acting on the impulses of mental illness, not a desire for political change. His first encounter with Congresswoman Giffords pre-dated the Tea Parties. This didn't matter, though, to the left. There was a tragedy to be exploited, and time was wasted. Jared Loughner just had to be pinned on the very people who, just a bit over two months ago, delivered a historical political drubbing to the left.

This is a script the left has followed before. Tragedy occurs ... and blame is immediately assigned to the right. Do you remember the assassination of John F. Kennedy? In the hours following the shooting in Dallas the blame was placed squarely on conservative groups. Republican Party offices were vandalized across the country. Later we find out that Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist sympathizer. The Times Square Bomber? That was just a few months ago. And just who did New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg blame for that attempt? Tea Partiers. Later, of course, we discover that the bomber was another follower of the peaceful and serene peace-loving religion of Islam.

The immediate reaction from our ObamaMedia is nothing short of disgusting. Without knowing any motive of the deranged shooter, the media immediately jumped to the convenient conclusion: He must be a right-winger and it is all the fault of Sarah Palin, Fox News, the Tea Party and talk radio. Here are just a few examples gathered from the coverage throughout the weekend ...

· Paul Krugman Blames Giffords Shooting on Palin, Limbaugh and Beck

· One-Sided CBS Report Paints Palin as Responsible for Giffords Shooting

· Dem Leader Clyburn Ties AZ Shooting To Sharron Angle Statement

· AP Determined to Pin Giffords Shooting, Multiple Murders on Right, Ignores Leftist Rage at Her Failure to Back Pelosi

· Jane Fonda Blames Giffords Shooting on Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and the Tea Party

Talk radio, in particular, was single out by Tucson Sheriff Clarence Dupnik during his press conference on the shooting. Here are a few clips of what he had to say:

And I think it is time that we, as a country, do a little bit of soul searching. Because I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business ... that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in ...

DUPNIK: Let me just say one thing, because people tend to poo-poo this business about all the vitriol that we hear inflaming the American public by people who make a living off of doing that. That may be free speech. But it's not without consequences.

REPORTER: How do you know that that's what caused it.

DUPNIK: You don't?

But it wasn't just the Sheriff who has pinned this on the "vitriol" of talk radio. The public immediately jumped to that conclusion, and by 2pm in the afternoon a group of about 40 people had gathered in front of Giffords office holding signs that said things like "Hate Speech=Murder."

These accusations and assertions are not based on fact, but on a delusional belief that no liberal would ever be crazy enough to commit such a senseless act of murder. On the other hand, conservatives will stop at nothing - not even murder - to prove their point. Yet, from what little we know of this hideous man, Jared Lee Loughner, he doesn't exactly scream, "I'm a right-wing nut!" We've got friends and former classmates of his describing him as "left wing, quite liberal." We have a YouTube channel of his featuring videos of flag burning. He has listed his favorite books as "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto." If the guy was a Tea Partier (as the ObamaMedia has tried to claim), advocating total government control of industry, including heathcare, doesn't exactly sound like the limited government platform of the Tea Party movement. Then we have his obsession with mind control and grammar ....... sounds more like a crazy than a political nut.

Will the ObamaMedia attempts to pin this all on conservatives stick? Probably for the dumb masses who believe everything the liberal media tells them, without bothering to do any research on their own. But the fact is that it is the Left that has a history of violence in this country, a fact that is often ignored in order to advance the agenda of liberals. I am not saying that the right-wing fringe hasn't seen its share of kooks, but I am saying that for media to act as if a liberal would never act in such a way is disingenuous and bucks the historical trends.

Two immediate names that come to mind are Pentagon shooter John Patrick Bedell, who was a registered Democrat and the Holocaust museum shooter, James Von Brunn, who was an "anti-Christian, 9/11 'truther' who hated the Bushes and 'the neo-cons'". Another list compiled by Townhall include:

1) The Earth Liberation Front
2) James Chester Blanning
3) The Weathermen (Weather Underground)
4) Carol Anne Burger
5) The Animal Liberation Front

Or how about union goons calling for violence or even engaging in violent tactics. For example, AFL-CIO president Ricarch Trumka calls for violence to achieve "social justice." Or when SEIU thugs beat up a black conservative at an ObamaCare townhall meeting. Also recently, union thugs harassed the 14-year-old son of a Bank of America executive in his home.

This blame Palin .. Blame the Tea Parties .. Blame talk radio tactic? Simply SOP for the left. That's Standard Operating Procedure. The left has a miserable loss record in the straightforward presentation of ideas in the media. The countryside is littered with the wreckage of failed liberal talk show hosts. Cable outlets viewed as leftwing, MSNBC and CNN come to mind, are also-rans in the ratings game. The leftist --- "progressive" if you will --- philosophy is one based on pure emotionalism. This philosophy cannot stand up to rational thought or fact-based argument. Clearly the left has decided that its best tactic is to demonize political opponents. If they could argue the facts, they would. When the facts aren't on your side, call the other side names.

Now we have a terrible tragedy that causes every American to react with great emotion. What a perfect time to strike! Politico had a story yesterday which buried a comment by a Democrat operative: "They need to deftly pin this on the tea partiers." Is there one shred of evidence that this Loughner was a tea partier? Can anyone show that he ever attended a Tea Party rally? The Tea Parties were not even around when Loughner began his stalking of Gabrielle Giffords. It matters not. The Tea Parties effectively wrested control of the House away from Democrats ... so if we can use this tragedy to discredit them - to put them on the defensive - then let's get to it as soon as possible. After all ... we know the media will support us.

Blame it on the Tea Parties? Blame it on Sarah Palin? Why not blame it on BoyBlue? Oh .. so you don't know about BoyBlue? BoyBlue is a writer for the leftist website Daily Kos.

BoyBlue has had a rough life. He was a big time supporter of Gabrielle Giffords, claiming to have donated thousands of dollars to her campaign. Now there's probably no need for me to go into his being gay, and his boyfriend (spouse) left him after he was laid off ... so then BoyBlue puts a gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger, but survives. After months of physical therapy and mental rehab he's back working for Giffords .. and so forth. So .. what did BoyBlue post on Daily Kos? Well he got mighty upset when Giffords was one of 19 Democrat members of Congress who did not vote for Nancy Pelosi to be minority leader. So on January 6 BoyBlue writes "Congresswoman Giffords is DEAD to me now." Two days later she's shot in the head. Nice Touch, BoyBlue .. but oddly I don't see any liberals or media talking heads referring to your "DEAD to me now" post on a high-influential liberal website as possibly inciting violence. Find that sort of comment from a talk show host or a Tea Partier and it's all over the place ... but if you're just writing for Daily Kos ...

By the way, don't go looking for the post on Daily Kos now. They scrubbed it. You can no longer find the page. For the record ... I have NEVER scrubbed anything from my website because it aroused controversy.

BoyBlue certainly isn't alone in his violent posting. Perhaps you've heard about Jean Schmitt? Jean Schmitt is a Congresswoman representing the 2nd District of Ohio. She's a Republican. Someone left a message on her answering machine. Ready? Here you go:

"Yeah, I'm glad the president passed health care. Yeah. Funky ass, racist-ass Republicans hate that, don't you? Jean Schmitt, when you got hit by that car, you should've broke your back, b*tch. And Boehner, motherf****r that Mitch McConnell. All you racist f**king Republicans. Why don't you just change your party name to racist? Cuz if one of those f**king Tea baggers had spit on me, I'd have shot all them in the f**king face with my f**king 9 millimeter. F**k all you racist motherf****rs."

Now .. there's a nice little threat ... and a mention about shooting someone in the face! Have you heard about this one in all of the coverage of the tragedy in Tucson? Didn't think so.

What about leftist hero Bill Maher? He joked on his TV show about Sarah Palin being one of the first "useless people" to be killed. Nice.

Did you hear about someone putting a bullet through the door of Republican Congressman Eric Cantor's office in Virginia? The man was Norman Leboon. He's a registered Democrat and donated to Obama's campaign. Leboon had a manifesto on YouTube. Here's part of the script:

"My Congressman Eric Cantor, and you and your cupcake evil wife. Remember Eric, our judgment time, the final Yom Kippur has been given. You are a liar, you're a Lucifer, you're a pig, a greedy f*cking pig, you're an abomination, you receive my bullets in your office, remember they will be placed in your heads. You and your children are Lucifer's abominations."

Well wasn't THAT special? Odd that you haven't heard about that one ... "bullets ... placed in your heads" in all the coverage of Tucson, isn't it? Get real. It doesn't feed the leftist agenda, so it's forgotten.

And didn't liberals in this country react rather positively toward a film depicting the assassination of George W. Bush?

The end game here is to intimidate. Since the left can't win the argument ... since all of their rhetorical champions eventually go down in flames or end up looking like simple morons --- remember the tingle in Chris Matthew's leg? --- their only hope is to intimidate the right into silence. Maybe you can make the Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin afraid to speak out if you manage to tie them to the Giffords' shooting? If you shout long enough and often enough that the evil right is responsible for the mindless violence of a lunatic .. they'll tone it down and give the left a break?

Sorry ... not this talk show host.


We must all speak up and speak out. The truth always matters.

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The bias and dishonesty of the Media as they try to exploit the Giffords shooting for political spin

Most of the people who work in the mainstream media are Democrats, and they seem to be bending over backwards to make the Giffords assassin look like a Tea Party person. They just can't stop themselves. Never mind that the shooter, Loughner, is a Truther Pothead Creep Nihilist Psycho who has more in common with Jane Fonda than Sara Palin.

Back in the 80's, when Hinckley shot Reagan, nobody called it political. They just said Hinckley was crazy. I don't see it as any different here. Loughner sounds like a paranoid schizophrenic. Described by a friend as "confrontational and non-linear". Non-linear. How sane does that sound?

A look at the actual facts is more telling than biased media spin:

How Odd: Details Emerge About AZ Shooter and Giffords, None Involve Palin
The Wall Street Journal has been kind enough to publish an article that looks at the actual facts and background the Arizona shooter, divulging details about the freak’s past, including what happened at the 2007 meeting between him and Giffords. Other details of his decline are also discussed which, weirdly enough, have absolutely nothing to do with politics or Sarah Palin. I know, shocking.

As the orgy of blaming Palin and ‘crosshairs’ and ‘inflammatory political rhetoric’ continues, the actual tipping point for the AZ shooter seems to have been a breakup with a girlfriend, drug abuse and resentment at Giffords for what he thought was a disrespectful response at a 2007 ‘Congress on Your Corner.’

In one of the rare stories that doesn’t mention or blame Sarah Palin or the Tea Party, we get a clearer look at the alleged gunman and what seems to have sent him on his rampage Saturday morning. And, surprise, it wasn’t Palin, political rhetoric, or ‘prejudice and bigotry.’

Suspect Fixated on Giffords
Accused Gunman Went to Congresswoman’s Event in 2007; ‘I Planned Ahead’ [...]

It goes on with excerpts from the Wall St. Journal article. It reveals an unhappy youth who got into illegal drug use and became increasingly anti-social and disturbed. Who raged against the US Constitution. Certainly not a Tea Party person. When will the MSM start reporting the facts, instead of "spin"? I won't hold my breath.


Here is a good reminder of where the real hate is coming from:
The progressive “climate of hate:” An illustrated primer, 2000-2010

It's a shame that during this National tragedy, that the Left has to resort to lies and distortions to try to exploit it to their advantage. They have no shame. For them, "The ends justifies the means". Facts be damned.     

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

Get Radio Comparisons at RigReference.com

This is a really useful website I've discovered:

Reference and comparison guide for ham radios:


Above is just a partial screenshot. The site has a large database with thousands of ham radios, listing all their details and specs. You can compare models side by side, up to three at a time. There are user reviews as well. Links to equipment manuals (as PDF files).

It's a VERY useful tool.
     

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Beware of the "Sploggers" (Spam-Blogs)

So THAT'S what they are! Here is a link to my Google search results:

"Fake Blogs Sploggers"

I got some requests for these kind of generic blogs to be added to my sidebar list. They added mine to theirs, so I reciprocated, at first.

But then I started getting more and more requests. All the blogs seemed to have a kind of generic sameness, often using the same template, and their posts seemed rather generic and impersonal. The requests to be added to my blog roll seemed odd, unnatural, like they could be computer generated.

That's when googled "fake blogs" and found out about "sploggs".

I made the mistake of adding some to my sidebar, and now I'm being spammed by hundreds of them. My spam filter it catching them, but it's inconvenient to deal with, and creepy. I may have to turn off comments on my blog for a while.

I've deleted suspected sploggs from my sidebar. I'm not accepting new reciprocal links anymore, I'm sticking with people I actually know from the past. I may even delete some of my blogrolls, as they don't seem to work half the time anyway.

Things like this dampen my enthusiasm for blogging. It's like dealing with Pod People. I've definitely got better things to do with my time.
     

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Saturday, January 01, 2011

2011. Here we go...

Shall we start the year with some interesting pictures from space? Why not...



11 MORE Strange Things About Outer Space

If you follow the link, the pics and facts are kinda interesting and/or weird.
     

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