## Thursday, June 30, 2011

### (after) Burners On. Turbines to Speed!

Brian Palmer in the NYT OpEd section pens an editorial today titled, "Fire Up the Grill, Not the Atmosphere". His lead off:
FOOD is responsible for 10 to 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. By many estimates, cooking represents more of a meal’s carbon footprint than transport. For certain vegetables, it accounts for more emissions than agriculture, transport and disposal combined.
That's interesting and I'd love to see his factual data source for that piece of data. I'll make the temporary assumption that a fair portion of this is attributed to the energy creation for the cooking as he alludes to later in his editorial.  Mr. Palmer goes on to try to wreck my July 4th plans with the following choice clips:
a little creative thinking can reduce this year’s Fourth of July carbon emissions without gustatory sacrifice. And maybe that awareness will carry into other days and other parts of our lives.
Consider potato salad: a pale mixture of boiled potatoes and mayonnaise that is sometimes appetizing but always wasteful. An overwhelming majority of the energy in boiling goes into heating the water rather than cooking the potatoes.
Direct-heat methods are more efficient and usually tastier. Cubed and pan-fried potatoes take just 10 minutes to cook and require less than one-third the energy of boiling. (According to my math, microwaving potatoes is about 40 percent more efficient than pan-frying them on an electric stove, but when I do it the potatoes come out rubbery, and that is too much sacrifice for a holiday.)
Mrs. GorT makes an awesome potato salad with dill and bacon (bacon that's been cooked - SHOCKER).  I'm not passing on that.  Nuking the taters just isn't quite right and while I like a good pan-roasted potato, the taste and potentially the texture is different.
Beef is an environmental disaster, no matter how you cook it.
Look, GorT eats relatively little red meat and when I do I prefer the healthier bison/buffalo meat.  But throwing Bessie under the climate change bus is a little harsh.
Charcoal is made of wood, so the carbon it releases upon combustion is approximately equal to the carbon the tree it came from once removed from the atmosphere. In theory, charcoal should be less damaging than propane, which releases carbon that has been sequestered harmlessly underground for hundreds of millions of years.
It’s far more complicated in practice, though. We get most lump charcoal from cutting down mesquite trees, and in addition to the deforestation effect, it takes more fuel to produce and transport charcoal than it does propane. As a result, according to a 2009 study in the journal Environmental Impact Assessment Review, propane is nearly three times as efficient as lump charcoal.
Charcoal briquettes, however, are a different story. The compressed round briquettes are made from scrap wood that would otherwise go to waste. The better manufacturers build their plants near construction centers and use recycled heat from those centers to power their briquette kilns. If you take that into account, charcoal briquettes are ahead of lump charcoal and propane as the best option in terms of climate change.
Sequestered naturally, but always with the potential to escape.  Look back here - we bemoan all the "greenhouse gases" that we're releasing but the marine sediments hold factors and factors more than this...and it's natural.  Mankind's contribution to it is miniscule.
The Gormogons are experienced and skilled with a variety of cooking methods - smoking, grilling, baking, roasting, frying, etc.  And I think I can safely say that we all believe in being good stewards of the earth but if you drop on by the castle this weekend, I'm sure your tastebuds will crazy-go-nuts with the culinary offerings at hand.  'Puter will likely prepare a feast of epic proportions accompanied by a few Manhattans (no cherries, dammit).  The Czar will likely drive a spit thru some carcass and throw it on the grill (maybe using propane, natural gas AND charcoal all at once) resulting in some tasty "Q".  And to be sure, GorT will be smoking a variety of meat (with charcoal) for hours to get that tender, smoky, heavenly taste.  I will say, a dutch over cobbler does sound good, so maybe I'll fire up another pit for that.

### “So the Czar is a fascist?” writes a correspondent

Well, no. He is a Czarist, though. The correspondent in question is not at all satisfied with the Czar’s putting the majority of the blame for Mark Fiorino’s difficulties with Philadelphia authorities at his own feet. Quoth the correspondent:
I would have thought that the audio of the Fiorino exchange, in which the cops talk like bad movie characters, would have been dispositive. I would have thought that Fiorino merely posting the evidence of their behavior, without comment, might not quallify as "humiliation." After all, if the cops had just apologized and said, "Hey, our mistake. No hard feelings." Then they would not have been humiliated by the audio being posted.

I would have thought that the DA's response in sending a flotilla of police to Fiorino's workplace to arrest him would have been ample evidence of bad faith on the part of the state.

Most of all, I would have thought that the response of the police department—putting citizens on notice that if they follow the rights accorded them by the law, the police will inconvenience them and humiliate them might have convinced the good Czar that in this case, the law enforcement establishment is behaving very, very badly indeed.

But apparently not. Some conservatives will excuse just about anything cops do because our side is supposed to be for law and order and it's only dirty hippies who hate the po-po. [Not the Czar, however, who explicitly made this point himself. —ŒV]

I like cops about as much as I like public school teachers: Which is to say, some of them are very good and lots of them are not. Both jobs are not entirely pleasant. But then again, if you don't like the work, there's lots of other jobs out there. Be a welder or a consultant or a priest.
But the real problem I have is that while cops and teachers are both ostensibly the employees of us all, cops are given the life-and-death power of the state. That is an awesome responsibility and it demands that cops perform their duties to a much, much higher standard because the power is so enormous. When a plumber has a bad day on the job, a pipe might burst. When a cop has a bad day on the job, he could kill a citizen in the name of the all the rest of us. It demands much, much higher standards of professional behavior.

I treat my professional life with the assumption that every interaction I have, at any time, could conceivably become public. Police should do the same. Contrary to the Philly cops who are furious at being recorded, if I was a cop I'd want every second of my time on duty recorded as insulation against having my words and actions distorted. A cop who conducts himself beyond reproach would welcome recorded supervision for his own protection.

The fact that cops in general loathe being recorded tells you a lot about their professional mindset.

I hope the Ancient and Noble Order is conducting its own internal investigation.
Our correspondent has a good point. It’s not clear that Fiorino was egging on the police at all, or that he was doing anything else to escalate the situation, unless his being overly matter-of-fact and casual in the face of a gun-pointing cop’s furious commands is considered provocative. (Which would be a problematic standard.)

As one concerned with Right Relations and their maintenance, Confucius has a ton of sympathy for cops, based on watching lots of Cops, because they're constantly dealing with low-lifes and idiots, often at great danger to themselves.

Buuuut, these cops seem to have been (a) trigger-happy and (b) completely contemptuous of the guy, and it was their overreaction which created a crisis where there was none. They drew their weapons before Fiorino declined to kneel down at their orders.

Even if Fiorino is a Second-Amendment James O'Keefe-style provocateur, their response was over the top. (And if he's risking his life to make a point, I think he's probably got a screw loose, but the fact is, he was legally within his rights and nowhere did he make any aggressive move towards the cops other than not complying immediately with their commands to act like a felon under arrest.)

Even if we let the cops off as dumb and panicky (which their captain probably should, though with some minor administrative punishment—reprimand or a week's pay or something), the D.A.’s coming down with both feet on what was fundamentally a misunderstanding is vindictive and punitive. “By acting within his rights and engaging the police in civil conversation instead of following their arrest-style orders, he caused the police to overreact,” seems to be the premise. That seems to be an unjustified bias in favor of the custodes in this situation.

Having mentioned Cops, Confucius should mention that our correspondent’s point about recordings is underscored by the way the show generally works out. One suspects that both the police and the idiot low-lifes they’re having to take in constrain their behavior because of the presence of TV cameras. One wonders how long it will be until cops, over their quite pragmatic objections, are given their own hat- or epaulet-borne version of dashboard cams to document their stops, bringing Werner Heisenberg to the mean streets.

For Confucius, the bottom line in Fiorino’s case is that he probably should have complied more readily with the police to establish that he was not a threat, even given the police’s overreaction. Similarly, once the complete legality of his behavior was established, the cops should have simply apologized and shaken his hand. At that point, there’s not even a need to discipline them—though clearly internal Philly PD briefings on the city’s gun laws should be put in place post-haste.

Handle it all through the Unwritten Law of civility. Fiorino is understanding of the cops’ panic, however misplaced; the cops eat a little crow and say, “Sorry, man, you just scared the crap out of us. You don’t know the kind of lunatics we deal with.” As the Philly PD’s spokesman said about cops’ interacting with armed citizens, “You can use caution, but you don't need to curse them up and down and put a gun in their face.”

Meanwhile, some federal prosecutor should be looking at the Philly D.A. for abusive prosecution…

### AARP Hates Dog Poetry

The Czar was caught off guard by a commercial last night, in which a group of people begin to decry government waste such as funding dog poetry, treadmills for shrimp, and so on. Seems a bit early for a GOP commercial.

But then the tone changed and said “Hey, why not cut this crap out of government, and leave the hard-earned money we invested in retirement alone?” Turns out it was an AARP commercial suggesting that government leave entitlements alone, and instead cut out all that stupid science stuff the government does.

Sure. Because cutting out a few billion (while good) is more than enough to cover the trillion-plus bucks that social security needs to stay solvent for about eight more minutes.

Seems that AARP is in a bit of a world of hurt. Allegedly, members are leaving for more politically smart alternatives (there are a couple, but the Czar will not endorse them by implication until he knows more about them), there is some rumor mongering that senior management is a little embarassed by their vocal support of the completely unpopular ObamaCare, and are regretting their decision now. Further, the next hammer to drop will be the sick association they have with the now utterly thug-like SEIU.

You know, a smarter move might be to have a commercial that says this:
Friends, like you, AARP is worried about the inevitable collapse of social security. We cannot count on, nor should we expect, government to sustain the massive loss of funds social security is now expecting. Your children and grandchildren are already paying your social security checks, and we know you hate putting your financial burden on them like this. In response, AARP is offering a number of financial plans and lower-cost annuities from a wide range of providers to ensure you, and your survivors, get that money. Our staff is available 24 hours a day to help you select the right plan—because social security is not going to be there for you much longer.
Except, of course, this is sort of a bad blow for AARP. After all, they sold themselves on being the advocates for seniors in America, and the horrible car wreck that social security has become means they were unable to do the job their members hired them to do.

So AARP can cry about the lemons, or they can make lemonade. But the government waste they decry is nothing compared to the government waste they encourage.

### E.J. Dionne, The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Today E.J. Dionne takes to the pages of The Washington Post to display his utter ignorance of, or contempt for, our form of government. More particularly, our judiciary.

Unlike in past installments of 'Puter's continuing series of "Mr. Dionne is either stupid or a liar," 'Puter will not attempt to respond to all of the errors in today's column. 'Puter will respond only to the two biggest howlers.

1. "The United States Supreme Court now sees its central task as comforting the already comfortable and afflicting those already afflicted."*

Mr. Dionne levels his baseless accusation in the context of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Dukes v. Walmart, regarding class action availability for over one million female employees spread across the United States. He then riffs on over to the Court's jurisprudence on public campaign financing.

Context aside, Mr. Dionne's vision of the Supreme Court should chill all non-brain damaged Americans to the bone. What Mr. Dionne describes as his perfect Court is a Star Chamber, unfettered by such legal niceties as precedent, witnesses and evidence. Mr. Dionne wants a court that can ignore the Constitution, the intent of the founders and hundreds of years of precedent to get to the "right" decision. And by "right," Mr. Dionne means a decision with which he agrees, dusty old foundational documents be damned.

Some may think 'Puter is ascribing to Mr. Dionne a position he has not taken. Wrong. One can ascertain Mr. Dionne's true position in the phrasing of his own words above. He states clearly that his belief that the Court is wrong in "comforting the already comfortable and afflicting the already afflicted." Therefore, he must believe that the correct role of the court is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.

And he would be 180 degrees wrong. The job of the Supreme Court is to determine, within the bounds of the Constitution, whether a given set of facts runs afoul of that document. No more, no less. It is certainly not to pick winners and losers based on Mr. Dionne's fanciful worldview of the moment.

Mr. Dionne's position advocates for disregarding the Constitution, and substituting a subjective "good of the people"* test. 'Puter doesn't know about the rest of you, but the idea that 9 unelected folks are going to make decisions about his life untethered from any limiting factors, other than their own moral compass and good will, scares the living bejesus out of him.

And it should scare the living bejesus out of Mr. Dionne as well. For as discomfitted as he seems to be regarding recent "conservative" (scare quotes because 'Puter finds the decisions "Constitutional") decisions, those decisions would be about a bazillion times "worse" for his chosen world view if conservative justices were just making things up as they went along. *cough*liberaljusticesand emanationsfrom thepenumbras*cough*.

The reality that there exist a large number of otherwise intelligent people who firmly believe the job of the Supreme Court is to institute their policy preferences, and nothing more, terrifies 'Puter. This is a profoundly (and provably) unAmerican idea.

If 'Puter were a wry observer of human nature, 'Puter would say Mr. Dionne's obvious dislike of the Court's decisions relates directly to how Mr. Dionne perceives the decisions' impact on the electability of Democrat candidates. But 'Puter's not a wry observer of human nature. Heck, 'Puter barely even has a human nature.

2. "Roberts was especially exercised over any notion of 'leveling the playing field' between private-money candidates and their challengers. He even included a footnote calling attention to the Citizens Clean Elections Commission’s Web site, which once said the law was passed 'to level the playing field when it comes to running for office.' Horrors!"

Yes, Mr. Dionne. Horrors. Field-leveling is not the job of the government. Continuing down the sports metaphor, the job of the government is to ensure everyone gets a position at the starting line, not to terraform the race course to meet the needs of any given individual. Or, more likely in Mr. Dionne's world view, race or class of individuals.

We have been embarked on affirmative action for 40 or so years now, and it has been a spectacular failure. We've thrown money at education in the name of leveling the playing field for decades, and poor kids still can't read. The Great Society, aimed at lifing everyone up to the same level, has only served to reinforce poverty and government dependence. Or, as CCR aptly put it "five year plans and New Deals, wrapped in golden chains." (See also, Rush, Trees).

In Mr. Dionne's worldview, the government is the Great Handicapper. It exists solely to pick winners and losers, all in the name of some undefined concept of "fairness." "It's not fair!" is what 'Puter's kids cry when he punishes them for drinking all the vodka again. It's not an adult solution to the problem of governance. Grown ups know that we are all better served by letting those with drive, or preferably drive and ability, succeed. That is not to say we should not take care of the less fortunate, merely that in doing so, we shouldn't hobble those who make and do.

Let's be honest, Mr. Dionne. The government is horrible and picking winners and losers. It's picked ethanol, and succeeded only in raising gas and food prices. It's picked solar and wind, and succeeded only in raising our utility costs. It's picked high speed rail, and succeeded only in, well, nothing. Get out of the way of the runners once the race has started. You might find you like the results.

Remember, Mr. Dionne. All men may be created equal, but that's no guarantee of outcome. And no Great Handicapper, no matter how great or how handi-capable, can guarantee a successful outcome for any person, race or class, no matter how hard they try.

*In reality, the quote "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" is attirbutable to Finlay Peter Dunne, a newspaper man, and apocryphally to "Mother" Mary Jones, a Irish socialist union organizer, after whom the magazine Mother Jones was named. Perfect for a far leftist like Mr. Dionne. And, hey, Mr. Dionne, since 'Puter's already at it, how about some attribution for the quote? Or is that too journalist-y?

**Interestingly, Missouri's state motto is "salus populi suprema lex esto" or loosely, "the good of the people is the highest law." But unlike Mr. Dionne, Missouri observes the strictures of its constitution and not some flowery words inscribed on a state seal. Or on an Obama campaign poster. Hope and change, E.J., baby!

Via Boing Boing.

## Wednesday, June 29, 2011

### Gooble Gobble! Dr. J is One of Us

And in the dark corners of the Castle dungeons, whispers and hissing did slip through the dank air. Faces, barely lit by flickering candlelight, would lean in from the gloom only to fade back into shadow. Antient and eldritch words, unspeakable by most men today, convened to form a powerful, mysterious, and even frightening conclusion.

Verily, we have concluded on the initiation of the Thought by Ghettoputer that we have pretty much had it with Dr. J’s shenanigans, and rather than have to support his outrageous viewpoints, he should just man up and say them for himself. And so the Thought became Deed, and astute readers will notice that our Royal Surgeon has now joined our ranks as a full member.

Please do send Dr. J a note of felicitations once the Volgi chants the mystical spell that puts up email addresses to the left. Meantime, you can always write any one of us, and we will cheerfully forward on your note to him.

And look out. Because if there is one thing we lacked before, it’s a good supply of ether. The Czar plans to get so gassed on this stuff that he winds up like some character in an Irish novel.

### More Guns!

Please explain the quirk of Illinois voting that allows a bill to have enough votes to override a veto, but not enough votes to make it to the governor? Was it shot down in committee or something?

Also, on item 6, that is already happening, in spades. 6a is already common fodder for "MSM", and 6b already occurs regularly, but is rarely reported on in those same outlets. But if you know where to look, you can find it.

Keep on Gormogonin'
GD
No quirk at all, GD! If the Illinois House passed the bill (it needed six votes to do so), it would have gone to the Illinois Senate. The Illinois Senate had, allegedly, enough votes in support of such a bill that (House + Senate) = supermajority for veto override.

However, the bill fell only six votes short, which killed it from going to the Senate. As far as committees, the committee approved the bill 12-1! That’s why many Illinois residents felt the House would get enough votes to pass it.

Meanwhile, the Great Jonathan V. Last scrawled this on the bloated carcass of a college graduate and hurled this through our window:
Just a little add-on to your open-carry item. Just because there are laws allowing open-carry doesn't mean the police will let you open-carry. The Mark Fiorino case deserves national attention. You can read the whole thing.
Indeed, the Czar is familiar with Mark Fiorino’s story.

If the reader is not, here is a synopsis: Pennsylvania resident Mark Fiorino, 25, approached a Philadelphia auto parts store while wearing a .40 caliber Glock in a holster on his hip. He suddenly found a Philadelphia police officer pointing a gun at him demanding explanation. Fiorino managed to record the profanity-laden exchange, in which he explained that open carry within the streets of Philadelphia is not only legal, but was even able to cite the Philadelphia Police Department’s own internal directive advising officers of the legality of doing so.

The Department accused Fiorino of reckless endangerment because (a) it seemed convenient that he would have had a voice recorder running throughout the entire exchange including the initial approach by the officer and (b) it seemed unlikely that he would know about an internal directive by memorandum number when he has no apparent affiliation with the Philadelphia Police Department. Their conclusion is that he knew the Directive, got the recorder running, and then approached a cop hoping to be stopped.

But Fiorino had been approached twice before by police, and generally found the officers to be aggressive and ignorant of the law. As a result, he did his research and armed himself—not with another gun, but with a voice recorder anytime he went through Philadelphia. While the police in the audio clip clearly go over the line in dealing with a member of the public, Fiorino did not help himself by playing coy throughout the entire event. And when he was released (as police learned Fiorino knew the law better than they), he made another lapse in judgment advertising the event by publishing the audio to YouTube. The outcome of the case is still pending, but the Department concedes that its members need to know the law, and have been duly informed that open carry is legal throughout Pennsylvania.

While this case is getting no shortage of attention, the reality is that this is not unique. Each week, somewhere in the country, a law-abiding individual carrying a legal firearm or legal knife is stopped by law enforcement. Most times the officer radios in the situation and only then learns the individual is within the guidelines of the law. But sometimes the officer flies off the handle and displays a shocking ignorance of the law.

But remember: police officers are instructed to uphold the law, not interpret it or pass judgment. In almost all of these cases, the prosecuting attorney dismisses the case. If the individual was smart, he or she asked for a receipt before the alleged weapon was confiscated—a receipt is a good way to ensure the item is returned to you. Some individuals like to memorize the law or carry a photoreduction of the statute or ordinance to show the officer, as if that won’t anger a cop worse.

The bottom line is that law enforcement stops people for all sorts of reasons, most sound but some wildly incorrect. Patience, courtesy, and explanation usually result in an embarrassed cop letting you move on; acting like a smartass and posting audio of the exchange, on the other hand, do not help.

The Czar expects that the Pennsylvania prosecutor will drop the case; if not, the Czar expects there to be some additional evidence that may have been left out of the story. It is not because the Czar sides with law enforcement and has unfailing belief in the criminal justice system: just that when you start to peel these stories apart, a whole more comes tumbling out.

Fiorino was under no legal obligation to explain himself to the approaching officer, nor was he under any obligation to produce his firearm license before he was asked. But when a nervous cop draws a weapon on you and begins to act unhinged, you know it might be a good idea to use your prior experience with Philadelphia cops and say you understand, that you are carrying a weapon legally, you have your license and would be willing to show it, and would appreciate the officer calling his supervisor to clarify the law and confirm the legality. Purely a suggestion.

The Mark Fiorino case will be an interesting one—but remember: he has not been accused of carrying a weapon illegally. He was accused of egging on a visibly nervous cop in a potential shooting situation.

If Fiorino thinks he was helping Second Amendment rights by repeatedly acting like a tool, he isn’t. Rather than educate, he chose to humilate. And that sets everybody back.

### “The Eye of Sauron has averted its gaze” writes Dr. J

ŒV,

Remember when HHS said that they have better things to do: "Instead, we will pursue other initiatives that build on our efforts to increase access to health care providers nationwide."

They're going to be going more in-depth in studing subjects’ sexual history in their National Health Interview Survey.

To be fair, the NHIS is a valuable epidemiology tool for both patient-care and research purposes.

Dr. J. just has fond memories of a classmate in medical school spending fifty minutes of the two hours allotted for his Physical Diagnosis final exam (where you take a history and do a physical on a patient in the hosptial) taking an exhaustive sexual history of an octogenarian admitted with congestive heart failure.

The timing of the article made him giggle.

Best,

Dr. J. (who is far too silly this week)

### E.J. Dionne, President Obama and False Choices

Not content to share his obviously superior analytical skills with us a mere twice each week, E.J. Dionne has resorted to blogging within the Washington Post's website.

Mr. Dionne, concerning today's presidential press conference, opines thus:

At his news conference Wednesday, President Obama put a question to congressional Republicans that should be asked over and over and over until they blink: Are they really willing to risk the nation’s credit and economic turmoil in order to preserve tax breaks for corporate jets, outlandishly low tax rates for hedge fund managers and loopholes for the oil companies?
Here's a counter-question for Mr. Dionne:

Are Democrats really willing to risk the nation's credit and economic turmoil in order to punish those who are funding our currently unsustainable fairy tale wish list of goodies for all, costs be damned?
In all seriousness, the real question is not "why won't Republicans raise taxes?", the question is "why won't Democrats live within our means?"

The Democrats, and their sycophant Mr. Dionne, have set up a false choice. Democrats set up the choice as either raise taxes or damn grandma and the kids to a life of endless suffering. But raising taxes is not the only possible choice here. Cutting spending to coincide with current (and projected) revenues is also a viable alternative. Pretending alternatives don't exist shows you fear your choice will not stand scrutiny when other choices are presented as alternatives.

Democrats should accept that there is not going to be a tax increase as part of the debt ceiling negotiations. Republicans cannot do it. Democrats would be better served figuring out the programs they can live with out. Agricultural and ethanol subsidies immediately spring to mind.

Democrats have no one to blame for their uncomfortable predicament but themselves. Their years of overspending without an ounce of concern over ability to pay has led them to this point.

### What Color Does One Paint A Debt Ceiling?

'Puter has a tough time figuring out whether the New York Times editorial board is comprised of fools or liars. Today's editorial on the debt ceiling impasse does nothing to help 'Puter come to an answer.

1. " ... Republican negotiators walked out last week, insisting that they won’t agree to raise the limit unless Democrats agree to trillions of dollars in deficit reduction — with no tax increases at all."

The editorial board characterizes the impasse as caused by a Republican walkout. It's equally true that the Democrats' insistence on raising taxes caused the stalemate.

2. "Before the meeting, Mr. McConnell insisted that 'it’s time for Washington to take the hit, not the taxpayers.'" and

"Talking about Washington taking the hit may play well on the hustings, for now. But the truth is that if the Republicans get their way, taxpayers will be the ones to take the hit, as basic services are cut drastically."

The all-knowing editors start from a flawed premise. If we cut spending, it's not taxpayers who are primarily going to be hit, it's the non-taxpayers who receive government benefits. There are now more people not paying taxes than those who are paying taxes. In fact, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, in 2009 51% of "taxpayers" paid no taxes whatsoever. Astonishingly, 30% of "taxpayers" actually received "refunds" and "credits" in excess of what they paid. This doesn't even factor in social program benefits received.

So no, NYT editors. If whatever you consider to be basic services are cut, it's not the taxpayers who are going to be taking the primary hit, if any at all. It's the folks who have been free riding for years who are going to feel the effects of less revenue.

3. "Nor will a spending-cuts-only approach fix the deficit."

This is either an outright lie or really, really bad propaganda. If the United States spends less than it takes in, there is no deficit. That is by definition. The NYT seems to define deficit as "not spending as much money as we think the government should on stuff we like." If that's the NYT's argument, state it. Quit lying.

4. "The Republicans’ fierce opposition is even more absurd when you consider the relatively modest tax increases proposed by Democrats."

Garbage. Every one of the Democrats' proposed tax increases are jabs at their favorite bogeymen.

"Ending unnecessary subsidies for oil companies" and "a tax accounting change that would also apply mainly to oil companies" is code for treating oil companies different from every other corporate entity under the tax code. 'Puter believes the Democrats are talking about changing rules that permit companies to spread out tax liability on current year investment, thereby permitting future income from the investment to cover part of the tax. But only for oil companies.

The NYT's plan is nothing more than a government command-and-control economy. The only countries left with those are the workers' paradises of Cuba, North Korea, and increasingly Venezuela. Even China and Russia gave up on government run economies. Why? Because history proves that government controlled economies impoverish and enslave the populace, which eventually leads to massive discontent and revolution.

But, hey, NYT editors, let your freak flag fly! The ends of reelecting President Obama justify the means of sacrificing any remaining veneer of press objectivity, your dignity and America's future.

4. "President Obama needs to do a better job of explaining the stakes to Americans. The Republicans need to put the country’s economic interests above their partisan ambitions"

President Obama does need to explain the stakes to Americans. Let's start with how spending money we don't have got us into this mess, and isn't about to get us out of it. Further, the snide comment about Republicans being power-hungry amoral bastards seems like a bit of projection. It's the Republicans who have been dead serious about this issue for the last two years, while President Obama and the Democrats have been busy not passing budgets.

5. "There is not a lot of time."

This is the one thing the NYT editors get right. There isn't a lot of time. If we continue to spend more than we take in and treat all future liabilities off balance sheet, we are looking at a Greek style meltdown, except worse. Why worse? Because America still has a lot of productive citizens with firearms who don't cotton to ungrateful wards of the state tearing down everything they've struggled to build.

The debt ceiling is a serious issue. The United States must, and will, pay its debts. However, without meaningful spending cuts, an increase in the debt ceiling is worthless. Debt buyers know that America's promises to pay its debts are becoming less and less believable with each new debt issue, coupled with no spending discipline. Eventually, if there are no serious austerity measures, debt buyers will stop buying our debt, and the cuts Republicans want now will seem like unicorn hugs and Hello Kitty kisses.

But that's just 'Puter's two cents.

### The Gormogons get results—HHS phone scam postponed

MEMORANDUM

RECD Castle G
IN RE Follow-up on Order [redacted]
UNCLASSIFIED
POST TO BLOG

Notorious ŒV,

Dr. J. spoke and the Obama Administration timorously quaked in fear.

The mystery shoppers have been abated for now.

Quoth team Obama: “After reviewing feedback received during the public comment period [i.e., Dr. J's screed —ŒV]," a Health and Human Services official told Fox News, "we have determined that now is not the time to move forward with this research project. Instead, we will pursue other initiatives that build on our efforts to increase access to health care providers nationwide."

Team Obama adds, “[T]he American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the Affordable Care Act and ongoing federal investments in the health care workforce have led to significant progress in training more new primary care providers—including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.”

Translation: Obamacare has made things worse and there will be fewer primary-care doctors available, so you will probably be seeing a nurse practitioner or PA for most routine issues (not that there's anything wrong with a good NP or PA, but Dr. J. is just reminding you that President Obama did say that you would get to keep your doctor (unless he or she quits)).

Best,

Dr. J.

### Class Warfare is Taxing on the Soul...

President Obama at his press conference today on taxes and the debt ceiling again has called for an increase in taxes for the “wealthy”. The example that he used to justify why those evil rich people need to pay more was the tax break on corporate/private jets.

OK, just for a minute assume that this tax break is rescinded, how much money is this going to bring into the government’s coffers? Well your Mandarin figures that the amount of money “recovered” would be spent in less time than it took your Mandarin to type this sentence.

Are the Democrats and the President really concerned with solving our fiscal crisis or prolonging it to further their liberal/progressive agenda? Your Mandarin fears it is the latter. And to answer the question you are asking as to why your Mandarin has come to this conclusion:

1. If you listen to the President’s press conference today and the rhetoric that we have heard from the Democrats over the last couple of decades, the message boils down to this – it is the poor (that being you) against the evil rich that have stolen all of “your” money or are too stingy to share their wealth with “you.” The President and the Democrats don’t seem to understand that the evil rich do share their wealth through the creation of jobs either directly by being the owners of business that employ those willing to work, or through the purchase of goods and services - although they do at times pay lip-service to the concept.

2. The President and the Democrats believe that “your” money really belongs to the government. We have seen this in the numerous efforts by the Democrats to get their hands on your 401k plans since you are taking their money away from them.

3. The President and the Democrats have not proposed a meaningful change to the tax system. And by change, your Mandarin does not mean an increase in the tax rates. A uniform flat tax should be levied against every eligible tax payer. The problem with this idea is that if everyone pays the same percentage amount, then the Democrats lose their argument that the rich are not paying their fair share. In addition, we currently have a situation where we are quickly approaching the point where those who do not pay income taxes – and in a lot of cases get additional money in the form of an earned tax credit – are going to outnumber those who do pay income taxes. The Democrats again benefit from this situation by creating a class of people that depend on the government not only for services but for additional “earned” income. Your Mandarin doesn’t care if the Democrats want to buy votes, he just wishes they were not doing it with his money.

4. The President and the Democrats refuse to cut unnecessary federal spending and subsidies to organizations like the EPA and the Department of Education that have either stifled the economy through onerous regulations or have not produced any discernable results in improved performance.

The truth of the matter is the failing economy serves the ultimate political ends of the President and the Democrats. Until we can break the back of the welfare and regulatory state the fiscal health of the government and the overall health of the economy will continue to suffer.

### St. Joseph, Pray For Us*

'Puter's family lost a wonderful member today. 'Puter's brother-in-law's mother ("Mrs. S") succumbed to the effects of acute myeloid leukemia early this morning.

Mrs. S discovered she had AML last year, just after 'Puter's grandmother's funeral. Mrs. S received wonderful treatment at Johns Hopkins, but the disease was too strong for our current medicine. Mrs. S recently decided to forgo additional treatment as it was ineffective and debilitating. She determined to try Eastern medicine (Mrs. S is of Chinese heritage) as she dealt with the end stages of her disease. Her struggle with the disease, and her courageous decision to accept her mortality, is an inspiration to 'Puter.

Mrs. S leaves behind her loving husband, three children (and three children-in-law), and three grandchildren, as well as several sisters. 'Puter will miss her greatly.

May God grant her eternal rest, and may His perpetual light shine upon her.

*St. Joseph is the patron saint of a good death, and his intercession in Mrs. S's illness was apparent to 'Puter.

## Tuesday, June 28, 2011

### Dr. J reports on the Medicare phone scammers

MEMORANDUM

RECD Castle Gormogon

IN RE Order [redacted] from Confucius, Œc. Vol., commanding Dr. J to report on what it’s like to be spied upon by someone other than Gs

UNCLASSIFIED
TO BE READ ALOUD TO GP
POST ON BLOG

Dear ŒV,

Per your prodding, I offer commentary on the following article, that was picked up by Byron York, and here where you picked it up. Dr. J. noticed it somewhere a few weeks ago, maybe here, or via a link from Drudge.

Basically, the Sebelius wing of the Obama Administration is going to use mystery shoppers to determine the ability of Medicare and Medicaid patients (i.e., people whose healthcare is paid for with yours and Dr. J.'s taxes) to get into the offices of primary-care doctors who accept patients with Medicare and Medicaid.

The mystery shoppers will try to make appointments as a privately-insured individual, an individual on gov'mint dole insurance (a/k/a the big MM), and then HHS will follow up with a call asking if the office accepts private, Medicare/Medicaid, and ‘self pay’ patients and look for discrepancies. There is no word regarding consequences for discrepancies.

The reason for this is that in the eyes of the government, either you DO or you DON'T take medicare/medicaid patients. If you don't accept new Medicare/Medicaid patients, you can't be reimbursed for established patients either.

Doctors, especially doctors who work in solo or small group practices, can only see a fixed percentage of Medicare/Medicaid patients because reimbursement is both smaller and less likely to occur compared to payment from patients who have private insurance. This is called a payor mix. For example if Dr. Jones gets $150/visit with an insured patient and$100/visit with a Medicare patient, and he sees 40 patients a day, his revenue stream ranges from $4,000-6,000. If he needs to clear$5,000 a day to keep the office open, he probably needs to see at least 25 insured patients and no more than 15 medicare/medicaid patients to do so. Dr. J. who works in a not-for-profit Ivory Tower within a multispecialty group of well over 1,000 doctors probably would need to generate $3,000-4,000 a day to help keep the lights on and make a living. Doctors with full panels of patients tread a fine line where they say they accept new patients, and maintaining a payor mix that will allow them to keep their doors open. Now, there is a reason to be concerned. This is yet another example of the Trojan Horse rearing it's ugly horsey head in Obamaland. The goal, as Dr. J. as stated a gazillion times, is to cause private medicine to collapse under the weight of regulation resulting in the masses to beg for government-run healthcare. It is well established that President Obama dislikes doctors. He sees us as performing unnecessary procedures for profit. Recall him suggesting that Granny get a blue pill instead of a pacemaker (especially when there is no blue pill for sick sinus syndrome, or heart block, or whatever granny's pacemaker indication was) independent of the fact that granny might be 70 with relatives that have ALL lived into their 90s, and that we take tonsils 'for a sore throat.' I suspect he's jealous because in addition to having a sweet ride, and getting the ladies, we also have the esteem of the community because we do something worthwhile to earn our keep, while he's spent his days as a politician, an ‘organizer,’ and as a lawyer, all of which which as we all know require lapses of ethical judgement. Dr. J. digresses. Tevi Troy at the Corner nails it…this sort of thing discourages the solo or small group practitioner. Indeed, all around New Atlantis and the surrounding communities, private practices are being bought up by hospitals (who, truth be told, are one of the winners in Obamacare legislation). We are being nudged, as Cass Sunstein likes say, into doing what the government wants us to do. This is the price of allowing government to become a major player in healthcare (which it did in 1965 with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid). The consumer relationship the patient had with the doctor has been short-circuited. Primary-care doctors already do not get paid enough for their services. Making their lives worse will certainly further discourage folks from going into primary care. Medical students are choosing specialties with better reimbursement (surgery) or better lifestyle aspects (radiology or emergency medicine, for example). The primary-care shortage is FAR from over. The progressive solutions include paying for medical school and not paying residents (who make ≈$45K starting) to discourage them from spending too much time training for jobs that are too-well remunerated. Of course, of the authors of that article, Dr. Bach is a CMMS advisor AND firmly ensconced in an Ivory Tower flush with cash-paying patients (Memorial Sloan Kettering), and it is not clear if Dr. Kocher even sees patients anymore. A solution such as this would be disastrous for the future of medicine. A shortage of specialists isn't bad while you are healthy, but when it's 2AM and you need that angioplasty…you have been warned.

Warmest Regards,

Dr. J.
Royal Surgeon of the Gormogons

### Happy Tau Day (minorly amended)

Today, June 28th, is Tau Day.  Someone restrain 'Puter because we're going to get into some math here and I'd like to keep my arms attached.

Pi (π) is a concept that everyone reading this (for the most part) should know well.  The transcendental (a number that is not algebraic - not the root of a non-constant polynomial equation with rational coefficients) number was termed in 1706 by William Jones as he described the ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference as 1 to 3.14159...and equated that number to π.  The definition (at least in Euclidean plane geometry) is:

$\pi = \frac{C}{d}.$ (see note)

The history of pi is well documented and discussed - Wikipedia has a decent summary.  However, even there we have evidence that pi might not be what we should be using.  Some of the earliest "evidence" of the use of pi are the Egyptian pyramids: the Pyramid of Meidum, the Great Pyramid at Giza and the pyramids at Abusir.  It was constructed with a perimeter of 1760 cubits and a height of 280 cubits.  1760/280 = 2π.  While there is no proof that this was calculated and measured to achieve the 2π value, it is clear that the results map to the value. However, why 2π?  Let me describe tau,

Some of you who remember your high school geometry and trigonometry classes may recall the following.  An angle in radians is defined as the ratio of the arc length of the circle inscribed by the angle to the radius of the circle.  This simplifies a number of trigonometric functions and leads us to a diagram of a circle as shown here:

Note carefully, that a half circle is π.  With the number of functions and equations in mathematics that utilize 2π, it begs the question why do we need to use a coefficient-loaded constant?  Enter tau.  Really, the angles above (and if you convert them into degrees, the same will hold true) are just fractions of a circle: 1/12, 1/8, 1/6, 1/4, 1/2, etc.

If we redefine the anglular measurement above and use a fraction of the full circumference of the circle, you get a resulting formula that is: angle = (fraction of circumference) * .  Now look at the resulting diagram:
I suggest going here and reading the premise in detail.  It makes a lot of sense to me.  I battled through numerous courses of calculus that provided the underpinnings that finally resulted in Fourier transforms.  Once I saw the transforms I (an engineer) slammed my fists and cried out how simple this was compared to the multiple integrals and series notations of the past.  So enjoy 6.28 - Tau Day.

(amended note: note that a circle is really defined by the radius.  If we take the diameter, d, from the equation above and replace it with 2r (two times the radius), and reduce it to C/r, we get the other side of the equation to be 2π which we can replace with .)

## Monday, June 27, 2011

### 'Puter's Favorite Things

Hell, if that overbearing, over exposed, overweight harridan Oprah can have favorite things, so can 'Puter. 'Puter's at least as pudgy as the Big O.

As the now-voiceless Julie Andrews once sang, "these are a few of ['Puter's] favorite things.

1. Vietnamese chili garlic sauce, pictured right. In fact, 'Puter enjoys this very brand, Huy Fong. For those of you who love spicy food, this stuff is the nuts. Put it on eggs, on pizza, over rice. Heck, put it on the New York Times and even that fishwrap would taste good. It is wicked spicy, with a good slow back burn. It also makes for some interesting morning constitutionals, if one has overdone the tương ớt tỏi the prior evening.

2. Fresh picked honeycrisp apples, right off the tree from a Wayne County, New York apple farm. Get a fried cake and a cup of cider, and it's the perfect fall breakfast. Maybe a hunk of New York cheddar with that, too.

3. The Remington 11-96 12 gauge shotgun. 'Puter's had one of these for years, and it's a great wing shooting gun. It's light, with a great balance, and deadly accurate.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. 'Puter recently re-read this book at a friend's suggestion, and fell in love with it. 'Puter wishes who could write two percent as well as Mr. Fitzgerald. Interesting side note, Mr. Fitzgerald is buried adjacent to 'Puter's childhood elementary school.

5. His family (all generations). 'Puter doesn't know what he did do deserve any of them. Their existence, and 'Puter's unworthy relation to them, is proof of the existence of God. And that goes double for Mrs. 'Puter who actually got to choose to be related to 'Puter, and so chose.

6. His faith. The Roman Catholic Church is, in 'Puter's estimation, the best conservator of Western tradition in the world, despite its all-too-frequent human failings. 'Puter expects your opinions to vary on this one.

7. Back surgeons. Despite not being back to one-hundred percent, 'Puter now lives most of his days mostly pain free. Can't beat that, though the heavy drugs were nice for a while.

8. Perfect Manhattans, up, with a twist. Get a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Pour in a little sweet vermouth (a glug or two), a little less dry vermouth, several (to taste) dashes of bitters, whiskey ('Puter uses Black Velvet). Shake. Pour into an up glass, garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy slowly, at least once per evening. DO NOT PUT MARASCHINO CHERRIES (OR JUICE) IN YOUR MANHATTAN OR 'PUTER WILL FIND YOU AND KILL YOU. You may, however, serve on the rocks, in a rocks glass, if that's the way you swing.

9. Lodge's Dutch ovens. 'Puter makes all kinds of stuff in his dutch oven, from bourbon-bacon-barbecue baked beans, to ribs, to pot roast, to cornbread, to bacon. It is the best slow cooker of all time. Just throw it in your oven at about 200-225 degrees and let it go. So danged good.

'Puter are sure there are other things he's forgetting, but this is a good start. Perhaps he'll revisit this topic every once in a while, as he stumbles across new things he likes.

### The Inevitable Trajectory

If the Czar were a professional gun control advocate, he might think about grabbing a box, getting some of the best office supplies, taking down the poster of the kitten hanging by her front paws on a clothesline, and heading out for work in the world of reality. Hey, not that we are celebrating, but these are really bad days to be anti-gun.

You likely already know that 48 states have some form of legal concealed carry or open carry of firearms by the general public. Wisconsin, one of the last holdouts, is in process of ending its moratorium on concealed carry, and the liberal press there is going bonkers with it.

The last hold out, Illinois, came the closest it has ever come in recent history to passing a concealed carry law, too, missing by only a handful of votes. Although our ineffective governor indicated he would veto the bill had it passed, the votes were already there to override his veto.

If Wisconsin allows concealed carry, Illinois will not be far behind: Illinois hates being a left behind state, and will eventually join the other 49.

You heard that right: Illinois will eventually allow concealed carry. Sure, they will New York-ify the whole thing, with complex requirements, fees, exclusion of people with vowels in their last names, and so on, but it is inevitable.

And this is really bad news for the gun control crowd, because the trajectory is certain, eventual, and obvious:

1. All 50 states will allow carry of firearms, either concealed or open.

2. Due to reciprocity, people will be exposed to all different types of restrictions and rules (or lack thereof) and learn what every other community is doing.

3. Despite prediction of incessant Wild West shootouts, the process will be smooth, orderly, and very peaceful.

4. People will become familiar with seeing weapons, and become comfortable (and smarter) about them.

5. Crime will tick downward.

6. Although there will be some spectacular events where a multi-convicted gang mamber will stroll into a gun store and walk out with something the press calls an AK-47 pistol, these will be offset by some violent crime ended instantly by a single citizen grandma with her .38 special. For every “see what happens” injustice promoted by the media, popular culture will provide a hero or heroine who made a difference with a firearm.

7. Over time, the restrictions will drop off—one by one—until more or less all 50 states have fairly equal and easy requirements, and nothing bad will happen.

But do not worry, liberals. One good thing about concealed carry: no one knows that you aren’t carrying a weapon, either. No one will force you to learn or understand about firearms. You can easily move into a crowded room, and only you will know for sure that you are completely defenseless.

The irony of course is that a person armed with a fiream is almost certain to defend you against someone else, whereas a person stripped of his ability to carry will be unable to help you. So the odds favor you with concealed carry even when you opt not to participate.

What is curious to the Czar is that for all the horror that the liberals predict, ultimately they know nothing bad will happen; curiously, this is the same argument they use to support gay marriage—almost exactly. The exception is Step 6: the media will not volunteer any stories of gay marriage horror stories, of course.

The point is that the gun control crowd has been playing this bluff hand of poker for decades, and the last round of betting is done. They are about to be called on it—and since they refuse to fold, they will have to show their hand. And it will be empty.

### Phew, that was close

Glad we're all still here.  Now we have to get this cleaned up.

### Where's Tea Leoni When We Need Her?

At 1:14pm EDT a small asteroid the size of a bus will make an extremely close pass by the Earth but it poses no threat to the planet. 2011MD (the asteroid) will make its closest approach at 1714 GMT on June 27 and will pass just over 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) above the Antarctic coast south of South Africa, NASA officials say.

The Sleestak and Dat Ho are already cowering in the Castle's dungeons fearing for the riots, social unrest and Elijah Wood's unstable motocycle driving skills.  'Puter plans on being on the back deck doing some grenade fishing - he asked the Mandy and I to work out the math to see if the asteroid's minor gravity pull will help attract the fish to the surface or does he need to use the larger grenades.

## Sunday, June 26, 2011

The rarely comforting Uncle Jay gives you reason to pause this Sunday morning.

### Mail Sports

A Canadian Reader writes in from the London you would want to visit with one of the strangest emails the Czar has received in a long time. Enjoy.
Mighty Czar,

Many thanks for the ‘Never attribute to malice what can adequately explained by stupidity’ post (re. NBC’s PoA “under God indivisible” omission). While I wasn’t paying direct attention at the time, even my ignorant Canuck ears picked up on something being off with the recitation, so I can only imagine the feedback NBC received from all those flyover country, God and gun clingin’, Augusta National members.

I also happened to notice during one of the fluff pieces about ‘American Presidents’ relationship with golf’ a repeat of the ‘clumsy Gerald Ford’ meme. I don’t recall the exact phrasing, but the statement was something along the lines of “Surprisingly, President Ford had a good game”. Again, I doubt it was malicious, but simply fit the internal narrative of the generally clueless, left-of-centre-by-default media types who, given their passionate dedication to carefree ignorance, can’t help but regurgitate the ‘comedy as news/revisionist history’ pushed by the political left (e.g. “I can see Russia from my house!”).

Anyway, your post reminded me of why the invention of the mute button and the PVR (I believe that’s DVR/TIVO in Americanese) has allowed me to retain my reason while watching PGA Tour golf. I’m by no means the stereotypical leftish, American-bashing, Europeans-are-super-duper-awesome Canuck, but I’ve got to say that European Tour coverage is, by my rough calculation, 97 times better than the PGA’s. The announcers know to shut the eff up once in awhile, the anecdotes are somewhat interesting, and they choose to show actual golfers making actual shots that are actually happening that day! Astonishing ideas!

Anyhow, to demonstrate how far these complete strangers have pushed me toward the limits of my sanity, what follows is an only partially fictionalized portrayal of the occasional Sunday afternoon around Camp Canadian Reader.

Generic moron golf announcer: “And over to K.J. Choi on the 14th who’s been quietly moving up the leader board.”

Canadian Reader out loud to self: “Quietly? QUIETLY? WHAT? No, he’s not “quietly moving up the leader board” you [pinheads]. He’s been making pars and birdies for the past ten holes but you [feckless nitwits] haven’t shown him once. Oh, and here’s the first time you’re showing Lee Westwood today. Gee, I wonder if he’ll make this putt? Actually, don’t answer. You know why? Because I know with 100% CERTAINTY that he’ll make this [GOSHDARN] PUTT because you haven’t shown him for the last TWO [FRAKKIN’] HOURS! So of course he’ll make it. Oh shocking, he just did. What a wonderful production you’ve created today! My viewing pleasure has been so enhanced by your deft touch. Perhaps if you spent less time showing Tiger Woods expectorating greenside when he’s ten shots off the pace, or less time on fluff pieces about the late bar hours in Northern Ireland, or less time blowing smoke up each others’ [arses], you might have a tiny bit of spare time to show some ACTUAL [GOSHDARN] GOLF!”

“GAAHHHHH!!”

Mrs. CR: “What’s that dear?”

CR: “These alphabet soup network jackwads are stupider than usual today. You know what they said again? “Quietly moving up the leader board”! The only thing “quiet” about it is that they haven’t shown him for two hours. “We haven’t been showing it on air, therefore it must be happening quietly! Because things are only really occurring if we happen to show it on T.V.!” To be so blissfully unaware of the self-fulfilling narrative they’ve created means their stupid is exceptionally strong today. I think it’s burned through my eardrums and is slowly leeching into my brain!”

Mrs. CR: “Alphabet soup network jackwads? Hmmm…don’t believe I’ve heard that one before. A bit of a mouthful I think. Anyway, I’m sure you’re right dear. How long does it take to barbecue the chicken?”

CR: “About 20 minutes or so. You know, one would think that by now they would have taken my regular feedback - filled with lots of useful suggestions, insights, and exclamation points - a bit more seriously by now!”

Mrs. CR: “No doubt. I’m sure they could benefit from your useful suggestions. Why don’t you start the barbecue while I grab you a cold beer.”

CR: “Mmmm….cold beer. Thanks hun, great idea. What was I just saying?”

Mrs. CR: “I think you mentioned how you were doing pretty well in your work friend’s golf pool.”

CR: “Hey, McIlroy just sank another birdie! I picked him this weekend! Yesssss.”

And so forth.

Thank God for wives, cold beer, and technological advances.

Sincerely,
Exactly. Thanks for the letter, because you are absolutely right: the whole Pledge of Allegiance squawk completely misses how bad American sports coverage generally is. Particularly on the big three networks.

Both CBS, NBC, and ABC are in a competition to see how hackneyed and cliched their coverage is. We cannot show the actual event, because we need to have a Human Interest piece on how Athelete X has Come Back From A Personal Tragedy. It even affected the Indianapolis 500, when instead of seeing the race, we were treated to the Charlie Kimball story, and how he has so bravely fought back against diabetes, which we now know is the Most Serious Disease in Human History. This, of course, as 350 million people worldwide who have diabetes learned how Incredibly Brave they are to wake up every morning and pretend to be almost perfectly functional, when in reality we know they are all walking homicidal maniac timebombs.

Therefore, and worse, we get blood sugar updates on Kimball. Unbelievable, as if the network feared that, by God, he might actually get dizzy and crave a jelly doughnut around lap 187. Morons, he has successfully managed the disease for decades, and his pit crew wouldn’t let him race if they thought for a second he was at risk of anything.

But then it is onto the Wacky Bit, featuring Local Color Talent Trying Out the Local Scene. Hey look, it’s Jared wearing a Carpathian hat! Nikki tries to milk a goat, and discovers it’s a male! Look at Joshua sliding down an icy hill because he wears fancy shoes! God, we are so wacky that it borders on multicultural insensitivity! Just kidding, of course, since it’s only funny because we are ignorant Americans!

And now Statistics....

Well, now you have the Czar riled up. So he switches over to Fox, and finds decent sports coverage punctuated by overly ornate computer graphics, dashboards, and something that seems to be a dancing robot. And somewhere, between the Print Icon and the Start Menu, is the actual game. Wait, no, a comedy bit featuring Lance Berkman filling Prince Fielder’s car with styrofoam peanuts! Wow, baseball players are so human sometimes.

Anyway, you made your point and the Czar made his right back. Of course, the Czar only did it because he refuses to be upstaged in his own post. Hmm. Must be because whatever you wrote was really freaking funny and dead on the money.

## Saturday, June 25, 2011

### 8-Year-Old's Thoughts On Firearms

We have not had a good gun post in a while. Today, the Czar and Mandarin took the families shooting. The Inscrutable Mandarin brought the Lady Pêng of Hsüeh and Young Master MiGo, and the Czar brought the Царица and the Цесаревич; the Царевич spent the day elsewhere with his full-scale trainset.

Today was the Цесаревич’s first day firing a live pistol. He was allowed to choose any weapon he wanted from a wide assortment of different manufacturers. The weapon he chose today was the Springfield Armory XD three-inch subcompact 9mm for two reasons: the Mandarin tried it before him and really liked it (and Цесаревич worships Uncle Mandy), and it fit his hand really well.

For those of us who no longer recall our first live fire experience, we thought it would be good to share what the Цесаревич thought. Ready?

• A loaded firearm is much heavier than you think.

• There is a lot to remember, so pay attention.

• It can be hard to find a place to put your left thumb. You do not want to rest it on the top of the gun.

• It is very easy to pull a trigger. (More than kids think, the Czar realizes).

• Handguns are much, much...much... louder than on TV.

• There is sometimes a lot of smoke.

• The casing that comes out of the gun is really hot. Don’t pick it up right away.

• The gun really jumps in your hands. It is like catching a baseball from a pitcher. You need to hold on really well.

• They should make a gun for kids that doesn’t jump around so much, and the bullet goes really slow. Probably that’s a bad idea because the bullet will just bounce off the guy.

• Why does your heart pound so hard and fast after?

• When do we fire again?

Whenever you want, buddy.

### Cars 2: Mater, Big Oil is Bad, Mater, Americans are Dumb, and Mater

Know how you meet somebody who is pretty funny, but you realize that you can take maybe 20 or 30 minutes of him before the bit gets tiring and you think he should shut up? Cars 2 is quite a bit like that with Mater, and then they give you at least 45 minutes more of him.

It isn’t that Cars 2 is a bad film...it’s just that it isn’t Cars. The first film introduced a range of wacky, small-town folks, with a self-centered but well-meaning Lightning McQueen playing the Doc Hollywood role. What made the first film so great was how the perpetually friendless McQueen learned the value and strength in each and every one of those weird personalities, and realized that everybody is good at something, and if you give them a chance, they will pull together for you better than any team.

Plus, it had a great side story about the decay and crumbling of the old America—the real dirt and dusty America that was being replaced by a cloned, nationwide Los Angeles; and how some people might not, actually, like that. The scene where Sally enlightens McQueen to the Radiator Springs of the early 1960s is totally superb, and just as good as the scene where Lightning—in a humorously clumsy but ultimately touching way—recreates the town for one magical night with neon signs and vintage music.

All that is chucked out the window in Cars 2. The film is a painfully Disney-esque sequel: a stunning array of new characters designed to be sold in stores, whizz-bang scenes, cheap jokes, and so much Mater—Mater Mater Mater—that even Dan “Larry the Cable Guy” Whitney probably asked for a ten-minute break during recording.

The brilliant cast of the first movie—minus Paul Newman and George Carlin, of course—is reduced to less dialogue than you might see in a Burger King cross-marketing commercial. Most get no more than three sentences of spoken words throughout the whole movie. The brilliant Tony Shalhoub is wasted, with his neurotic italiophile character making the most of the six or seven scenes he has (including a genuinely funny scene when he attempts to read a letter by Mater in Mater’s voice, his thick Italian accent notwithstanding). Bonnie Hunt, Cheech Marin, Jenifer Lewis, and Paul Dooley, and the rest of the first movie’s cast could have their entire combined dialogue put into a fifteen-second bit. There’s that little of them. But then, the kids have already bought those toys, so big deal.

Instead of McQueen realizing that the world can be quite small and precious, you have Mater acting like the ugly American in Japan. Instead of a cynical, resentful small town learning to trust a stranger, you get Mater bungling an espionage case in Italy. Instead of an ensemble cast of characters learning that each is wrong about the others, you get Mater discovering jet rockets around London. Oh yeah, and something about a race that McQueen appears in from time to time.

One of the hallmarks of the first film was its endless creativity: realistic landscapes looked like parts of cars; realistic buildings looked like parts of cars, and clever automotive terms were worked into product names and locations. This film tries to duplicate that, but never quite succeeds. It all seems so forced: you can almost predict when and where the background joke will occur, and you realize it is purely a retread (wait, we just got that!) of an idea lifted directly from the first film.

The main plot really seemed like a B-plot inexplicably pushed front and center. An oil company wants to discredit a new alternative fuel by sabotaging a worldwide race. A pair of British agents (Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer, who though very good get entirely too much screen time) seek to discover the mastermind behind the operation. And to be quite blunt, if you can’t figure out who it is in the first twenty minutes, you must have been in a long line buying popcorn. Let’s see: which is the one character who cannot be accounted for? Oh yeah.

And as you have likely heard, Pixar wants you to know that Big Oil companies are bad. Alternative fuels are good. And in case you did not catch it, you will be reminded at several points throughout the film.

The quality of animation is actually too perfect: there are scenes that are so realistic that they seem to border on counter-productive. You know that uncanny valley effect? Pixar just about hits it here, with scenes so perfectly animated that it looks like they just ran physical models of the cars through a real landscape. You begin to suspect it might have been easier and less expensive to do it that way. Next time, Pixar, dial back the realism about 2%.

A special mention to John Turturro, who provides the voice of Francesco Bernoulli. Bernoulli is an Italian formula racer who hectors and taunts Lightning McQueen—but realizes that McQueen and he are kindred souls long before McQueen himself discovers that Bernoulli, for all his teasing and chassis-thumping, is actually a decent kind of pal to have. This alone could have been the core of a great story line, with Turturro delivering dazzling dialogue, but instead this becomes the C-plot, and it is a spoiled opportunity.

Cars 2 isn’t a total disaster. Many scenes are quite clever, very funny, and well-executed. However, it is tough to think of a positive without immediately producing a negative to go with it. The problem with Cars 2 is that the first film was so damned brilliant, you would think that five years of time to perfect a sequel would not have resulted in a two-hour Disney channel sitcom.

Starring Mater.

## Friday, June 24, 2011

### The NYT's Temper Tantrum On The Republicans' (Alleged) "Temper Tantrum"

The New York Times poison penned an editorial blasting Republicans for failure to compromise (read: cave) on the debt ceiling.

Now 'Puter's a simple man-child, and he understands that editorials are by their nature opinion. But that's no excuse to avoid reason, logic and truth, as is the NYT's apparent editorial policy.

1. "Negotiations require listening to those on the other side and giving them something they want in exchange for some of your goals."

Um, no. Negotiations require having a position and knowing what portions, if any, of that position you are willing to compromise. If your opposite party's positions are unacceptable to you, you are not required to bargain against yourself. That's not negotiation, that's political suicide.

"I will let you live so long as you give me all your Cheetos!", is not negotiation. Sure, 'Puter wants all your Cheetos, and you want to continue your life (unless you're married to a Kardashian or Debbie Wasserman Schultz). You give 'Puter your Cheetos, he lets you live. The Cheetos are "something ['Puter] wants" and not taking a dirt nap is "some of your goals." But it's not negotiation.

2. "It has been obvious all along that cutting government services alone is not a solution to either the budget deficit or the mounting national debt."

False, and verifiably so. The only people to whom "[i]t has been obvious all along" that cutting spending won't solve a debt and deficit problem are liberals. As a matter of fact, cutting spending well below revenues will solve a deficit problem immediately, and will eventually solve a debt problem. See, if you spend less than you make, you cannot, by definition, be in a deficit. 'Puter believes the term is "surplus." Let's say it together, NYT editors: "Sur-plus." And, if you're taking in more than you're spending, you can use the surplus (there's that word again) to pay down the debt.

Perhaps what the NYT means is that their favorite programs (Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (and now, with more ObamaCare!)) are untouchable, so therefore revenues must be raised (that is, taxes raised) to meet the programs' ever-expanding, economy-ruining, future-mortgaging "needs." This is the heart of the NYT's argument. We are entitled to redistribute your wealth for what we perceive to be the greater good, no matter how much damage doing so has done, is doing and will do in the future. The editors are simply too chicken to make this argument out loud.

3. The NYT editors close with this. "Republicans cannot walk away from their responsibility to pay the bills and keep the economy out of further crisis."

That's rich. The Democrats refused to pass a budget last year knowing full well that the uncertainty would screw the economy. And screw the economy it did. Worse, the Democrats had huge majorities in the House and Senate, as well as a President who shared their priorities. So why did the Democrats refuse to pass a budget? Simple political expediency. The Democrats calculated that in avoiding controversial public stances (i.e., hiding their true policy positions, they could avoid a drubbing at the polls. The Democrats calculated wrong.

The editors' hidden agenda is that taxes must be raised to support their pet programs. And yet the editors fear to say so.

If the Democrats (and their house organ the NYT) were convinced the public agreed with them, they'd make their argument outright. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and ObamaCare are sacrosanct. They must be preserved in exactly their current form. All other programs and policies, from national defense to highways to education, can be savaged to maintain the Big Four. In order to maintain the Big Four, taxes must be assessed at confiscatory rates, both on the rich and the middle class. We are comfortable with condemning the country to low growth and golden-chain program slavery for the foreseeable future.

There, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

### Congratulations on a felicitious quadrennium to the estimable Dr. H. Albertus Boli, LL.D.

…on the fourth anniversary of his Celebrated Magazine from all of us at Castle Gormogon. We swear we intend to renew our subscription, but you wouldn’t believe the mess ’Puter made of the office last Candlemas when he mistook the phrase “receivables ledger” for “unleashed badger.” He has a terrible phobia of badgers, and his hearing was significantly impaired by the spackle with which he had packed his ears to block out the sound of the Czar’s bellowing all five hours of Mussorgsky’s Boris Gudunov over kerosene-and-maple-syrup shooters at the Peacock the night before.

Congratulations, Dr. B., and long may you wave.

### But Then, The Czar Knows His History

New Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy does not believe in the Second Amendment. On the subject of lax gun laws, he asked “Let’s see if we can make a connection here. Slavery. Segregation. Black codes. Jim Crow. What, what did they all have in common?”

The Czar was going to say The Democrats.

### Letters, And Several Of Them

My, but has the Czar been ever so remiss on his email! Apologies, friends, for our lack of attention.

First up, we have that other Dr. J., that is, Dr. (KN)J, who writes in:
I know that the empty leash story was a good while back, and this is certainly different from my usual snark, but I had to write it for my own mental health so I thought I'd send it to you guys. We mathematicians like to think we’re Spock, but there’s a lot of McCoy in some of us as well…
Driving past a red barn, you see a beautiful bay Thoroughbred,
grazing in the sunshine with his friend,
a stocky red and white Paint.

What you might see,
if you looked closely enough,
is a few small scars on his face,
testament to the skill of a surgeon
and the love of his mistress.

to stave off the inexorable progress of a disease,
and lengthened by one year,
by two years,
quiet mornings and afternoons in the barn,
extended trots,
single loops,
and working on his right-lead canter.

What you might see,
but probably would not connect with the horse,
is this same woman,
riding in a pickup with her husband, weeping,
to wait for the vet to arrive and do what must be done.

What you cannot see is that the disease has returned,
with implacable ferocity,
now beyond the bounds of any surgical skill,
taking the beautiful bay Thoroughbred’s sight and, soon, his mind.

What you cannot see is that he cannot see you -
only by the aid and comfort of his companion, the Paint,
is he able to graze peacefully,
navigating his sightless way through the usual maze of fences and gates.

The disease must and will be stopped, but only by capitulation.
Already she misses her dear, dear friend and her time with him,
their time together.

Only in her memory,
and in the memories of those, like her husband, who watched them together,
will those times remain forever:
quiet mornings and afternoons in the barn,
extended trots,
single loops,
and working on his right-lead canter.
—Dr. (KN)J,

Royal Mathematician to the Gormogons
Very nice indeed. And we appreciate you thinking of this poem in response to our own post.

Meanwhile, the other Dr. J is actually hanging out in Muscovy this weekend, where he has already dined on real Chicago pizza (not that deep dish mud we push on the tourists) and Chicago-style barbecue. He adds this:
Given the degree to which we are divided (Red and Blue, D & R, Elite Bicoastal Progressive and Rest of Us, gay and straight, ethnic/not-ethnic, sky-god worshiping/empiricist), I thought that leaving out indivisible was just further commentary, or weird, or as you said, stupid.

That being said, were I a sinister evil force in the universe (Soros? Palpatine?), I'd drop the under God and then also cut indivisible just to mess with people and give myself plausible deniability. "Ah, it was just editing, you wouldn't want me showing the little boy in the 3rd row picking his nose while saying under God would you?"

Dr. J
But that would imply a conspiracy that we knew nothing about. The Czar gave no such order. ‘Puter gave no such order. Mandarin is over here shaking his head. No, wasn’t us.

Meantime, Sky writes in:
O great and powerful Czar;

I think you fail to draw a distinction between 'most American Jews' and 'American Jews who have been to Israel'. I acknowledge just how privileged I am to have been born in the United States - let alone in New York, where 'everyone's a little bit Jewish' - but I never realized just how much of an Other I still was, even among friends, until I walked the streets of Tel Aviv. We are a tribal species, and in the Diaspora, our tribe is used to keeping our heads down, blending in, laughing along with the jokes and stereotypes even as they flow from the lips of friends.

For anyone with a passing familiarity with the history of World War II and the Shoah, Israel's existence and security provides a sense of peace and comfort. Where shiploads of Jews were turned away from British Palestine, and even America, in the leadup to Germany's ultimate plans, there now exists a place where any Jew worldwide can relocate if his situation at home becomes too dire. How long would that take here, in the face of severe economic distress? How long until latent prejudice and barroom jokes become violence and scapegoating?

It may not occupy my thoughts every day - those are reserved for things of more pressing concern, like my family's happiness, the end of cheap oil, whether I'll pass the Bar exam - but I follow the international news from the region with close and rapt attention, as do those I know who have set foot in Israel, and are grateful for the safe haven she offers.

Then again, perhaps I just associate with more conservative Jews.

- Sky, Royal Falconer to the Gormogons.
Our royal falconer has been with us for many years, and the Czar regrets rarely if ever speaking to him when he strolls through the bestiary. The Czar regrets this, and will make more of an effort to speak to Sky, because his insights are very good, and one of his falcons has gotten quite good at picking expensive wristwatches off of people hailing cabs. That’s a skill your average falconer just isn’t going to get.

But Sky does not strike us as the more liberal Jewish democratic, to whom the piece was directed. If he is, then by all means, we have many legitimate questions to ask!

Weirdest of all, MC writes in after a long absence to ask if ‘Puter is any relation to disgraced Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.

 Angelo Mozilo Ghettoputer

Eewww. That is a fair question, though. History does not well record who ‘Puter really is. Only a few of us know, or believe we know, his real name and of the horrific crimes attributed to him (accurately). He just sort of showed up decades ago, made a few spurious claims, and we just sort of got used to him.

This is something worth investigating.