February 28, 2009

CONVERSATIONS WITH HISTORY

I spent the day with some of my favorite people: I watched the Conversations With History interviews of Mark Steyn, Christopher Hitchens, and Victor Davis Hanson.

And I totally snorted when I saw at the end of the video that the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the views of University of California, Berkeley. Heh. No joke.

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IMPRESSED

Christopher Hitchens is one crazy sonofagun, but I was downright impressed when I read Michael Totten's account of their run-in in Syria.

“The SSNP,” I said, “is the last party you want to mess with in Lebanon. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you properly. This is partly my fault.”

“I appreciate that,” Christopher said. “But I would have done it anyway. One must take a stand. One simply must.”

Would you have had the guts to deface a Syrian Social Nationalist Party sign in Beirut? I think Hitchens is nuts, but I have to respect him for this.

I think a swastika poster is partly fair game and partly an obligation. You don't really have the right to leave one alone.

Wow.

He's probably lucky to be alive.

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February 27, 2009

HISTORY OF HOME VALUES

When I saw this last night, I was floored. I completely recommend watching it:

Thank you, Glenn Beck, for doing this research and laying it out so succinctly.

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February 26, 2009

IDLE RAILCARS

A link from my friend BigD:
Sales of “Atlas Shrugged” Soar in the Face of Economic Crisis

It's coincidental that she sent me this today, because my jaw hit the floor when I read this article this morning:

Tens of thousands of boxcars are sitting idle all over the country, parked indefinitely by railroads whose freight volumes have plummeted along with the economy.
[...]
The nation's five largest railroads have put more than 30% of their boxcars -- 206,000 in all -- into storage, according to the Association of American Railroads.

Now if that doesn't make you think life is imitating art, I don't know what will.

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February 15, 2009

MEETING OUR FUTURE

Yesterday I had to work at a demonstration of various science kits you can buy at the store. I was kinda dreading it because it was going to be a huge mess, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. Most kids just wanted to get their hands dirty and sticky. But one family made it totally worthwhile.

A mother and two sons showed up specifically for the science demonstration. I was just getting to the end of mixing "quicksand": cornstarch and water. I filled the pan and showed the older boy (probably 9 years old) how your hand sinks in and it's hard to pull out. The boy looked at me and said, "Well, that's neat, but what's the science behind it?" Awesome. So I pulled out the paperwork that came with the kit, and we had a discussion of non-Newtonian fluids and the Law of Viscosity. And then we demonstrated together how the viscosity could be changed by applying pressure. He learned some science, and heck, so did I!

When I start to despair for the world, I am going to remember that kid and how I am sure there are others like him out there, kids who will be the pillars of our society in the future.

I needed to meet that boy. I'm glad I did.

And I am also glad that I have a monkey's job where I get to learn about non-Newtonian fluids.

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February 06, 2009

LIKE A WHALE BIOLOGIST

Tom Coburn was on fire this week:

We are going to spend $448 million to build the Department of Homeland Security a new building. We have $1.3 trillion worth of empty buildings right now, and because it has been blocked in Congress we can't sell them, we can't raze them, we can't do anything, but we are going to spend money on a new building here in Washington. We are going to spend another $248 million for new furniture for that building; a quarter of a billion dollars for new furniture. What about the furniture the Department of Homeland Security has now? These are tough times. Should we be buying new furniture? How about using what we have? That is what a family would do. They would use what they have. They wouldn't go out and spend $248 million on furniture.

He rants about all the stupid crap that's in the stimulus bill. Another little funny line:

We have $75 million for smoking cessation activities, which probably is a great idea, but we just passed a bill—the SCHIP bill—that we need to get 21 million more Americans smoking to be able to pay for that bill. That doesn't make sense.

Seriously, read the whole thing. And feel your head explode.

UPDATE:

See also 50 De-Stimulating Facts.

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