Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Government Waste Du Jour

John Murtha used earmarks to start up a do-nothing agency. Instapundit has video of the CNN broadcast.

Citizens Against Government Waste rewarded his efforts by naming him its Porker of the Month for May.


Democracy In Action

Bashar al-Assad is reelected President of Syria, receiving 97.3% of the vote.

He was the only candidate.


You Know Bush Has Problems With The Republican Base...

...when Day by Day does this to Tony Snow.

(Yeah, I'm a little behind in my cartoon reading. But I'm just about caught up.)


Why Jimmy Carter Was A Failed President

Because he believes that thugs can be reasoned with:

The Carter Center called for dialogue Thursday between President Hugo Chavez and opponents protesting his decision to force an opposition TV channel off the air, while calm returned to the streets after three days of demonstrations.

The Atlanta-based organization founded by former President Jimmy Carter expressed concern about the potential for escalating violence after the government halted broadcasts by Radio Caracas Television on Sunday. Police have repeatedly clashed with angry crowds hurling rocks and bottles since Chavez refused to renew the station's broadcast license.

"Healthy democracies require spaces for political dialogue and debate to allow divisions about the future direction of the country to be addressed in peaceful ways," the Carter Center said.

Dude, Venezuela is not a healthy democracy. Hugo Chavez is not at peace with his people. He is the sort who will respond only to some form of coercion.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blogging The Koran

Hot Air contributor Robert Spencer is starting up a new project:

So over the course of the next few months, I’m going to read it, and discuss it in a series of columns. All of it. Not “cherry-picked” or “out of context.” The whole thing, beginning to end. Some of you may be familiar with David Plotz’s series on Slate, “Blogging the Bible.” This series will be similar to that one, but rather than just write about what I think or feel about a certain passage, I will, unlike Plotz, refer to commentaries – all Muslim ones – on the Qur’an. I’ll try to explain how mainstream Muslims who study the Qur’an will understand any given passage, and what its import might be for non-Muslims.

You’ll need a Qur’an. Here is a good Arabic/English text. In traditional Islamic theology, the Qur’an is essentially and inherently an “Arabic Qur’an” (as the Qur’an describes itself repeatedly: see 12:2; 20:113; 39:28; 41:3; 41:44; 42:7; and 43:3). Its meaning can be rendered in other languages, but those translations are not the Qur’an, which when no longer in Arabic is no longer itself. Some Muslim scholars even claim that the Qur’an cannot be fully understood except in Arabic, but the blizzard of translations made by Muslims for Muslims who don’t speak Arabic (who are the great majority around the world today) as well as to proselytize among non-Muslims belies that claim. Here are two popular Muslim translations, those of Abdullah Yusuf Ali and Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, along with a third by M. H. Shakir. Here is another popular translation, that of Muhammad Asad. And here is an omnibus of ten Qur’an translations.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Remembering The Fallen

(This is an annual Memorial Day post.)

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
Wars on the Barbary Pirates (1801-1805, 1815)
War of 1812 (1812-1815)
War Between the States (1861-1865)
Mexican-American War(1846-1848)
Spanish-American War (1898)
China Relief Expedition (1900-1901)
Pacification of Nicaragua (1912-1913)
Interventions in Mexico (1914-1917)
World War I (1914-1918)
Pacification of Haiti and Dominican Republic (1915-1918)
Allied Intervention in Russian Civil War (1918-1920)
World War II (1939-1945)
Korean War (1950-1953)
Vietnam War (1964-1973)
Hostage rescue mission in Iran (1980)
Lebanon peacekeeping mission (1982-1984)
Counterinsurgency mission in El Salvador (1980-?)
Liberation of Grenada (1983)
Invasion of Panama (1989)
Iraq War (1990-1991, 2002-present)
Somalia peacekeeping mission (1992-1994)
Attack on USS Cole (2000)
Afghanistan War (2001-present)

The Veterans Museum has information on many of these conflicts. Information on Allied activity during the Bolshevik Revolution is here. See Wikipedia entry on Manuel Noriega for details on the Panama conflict. This site tells of American pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Lost - Anticipation And Dread, Indeed

(Episode: Through the Looking Glass. Spoilers ahead.)

This has got to be the most convoluted and disorienting season cliffhanger in television history. And almost as depressing as the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Why didn't anyone expressing concerns about the Smoke Monster as Jack and company made the long trek to the radio tower?

The flash-forwards barely tell us anything about the future. Jack and Kate (at the very least) are off the island; according to Jack's remarks at the end of the episode he is required to tell some lie(s) as part of the deal. Jack's life has fallen into a downward spiral, he's drinking heavily and he's grown addicted to oxycodone, presumably triggered by some untreatable chronic pain. (Has leaving the island made him sick?) It's agonizing to watch, even more so because we have no idea over what Jack is feeling bitter remorse.

One of the future's mysteries is: who is in the coffin? At Amy Welborn's the popular theory is Locke; commenters cite clever souls who found a capital J in the news article Jack found. My first thought was Sawyer, but that can't be right. Hurley and Kate at the very least would show up to his funeral. (Assuming Hurley's off the island.) Eko and Boone were the closest Locke came to having friends on the island, and they're both dead. Thing is, what killed him? Did everyone who left the island get sick?

A high-res image of the news clipping reveals parts of the name of the deceased: Jo___ ____tham. That doesn't preclude Locke; it coudl be an alias. The deceased is male and from New York.

But the coffin seems a bit short for Locke...

Ben made a serious error. He didn't realize how successfully he drove Jack over the edge. Even threatening to kill his three friends would not break his resolve. Jack had had it with being manipulated by Ben, and was probably convinced that the Others would always be a threat to their survival as long as they stayed on the island.

In different ways, Ben and Locke demonstrated what happens when you don't trust people. Locke went off and did stuff and discovered stuff without telling others about it. He killed Naomi without telling Jack why. (If the island didn't tell Locke why he had to kill Naomi, then the island needs to learn a few things about gaining people's trust as well.) You can't get people to cooperate with you if you don't tell them what's going on.

Ben wove a web of skullduggery to preserve his power, lying and withholding information from even his own people, and in the end he became powerless. If Locke didn't know who sent the freighter, Ben did. People will not respond to vague talk like "She's one of the bad guys" and "Jack, you don't know what you're doing" - but they might respond to specifics like (assuming this is the case) "They're the DHARMA Institute, they want their island back, and if you think we were bad news to your little group let me tell your what DHARMA has in store..."

Of course, by declaring war the Others guaranteed that the Lostaways would never trust them (their leaders, at any rate). Unless they are faced with a common enemy, which appears to be the case in these upcoming final three seasons.

Ben inadvertently saved the lives of Jin, Sayid, and Bernard. Commando leader dude Ryan Pryce could see that Ben had "lost it," and over Tom's objections kept the three hostages alive until he could figure out what to do. This led to the high point of the entire episode, Hurley coming to the rescue in the DHARMA hippie van. Sawyer finally carries out his promise, when he said to the then-bearded Tom "You and me ain't through, Zeke."

Mikhail's battle tactics backfired. He should have first located Desmond, killed the two interlopers, and then then killed the women. (No wonder the Russians lost in Afghanistan.) And he should not have hesitated to ensure Bonnie's death. (And Desmond should have ensured that Mikhail was out of commission. Didn't they teach him anything in the Royal Navy?) As it turned out, Charlie was able to use cite Ben's duplicity to convince Bonnie to give over the code necessary to stop the signal jamming.

Charlie still has a chance to survive if the laws of physics are not overturned. There should be a pocket of air in the communications room above the level of the top of the porthole, which happens to be wide enough for Charlie to swim through. Charlie can catch some air, swim out, and then swim to the Looking Glass sub landing bay, surprise the heck out of Desmond, grab the diving gear and leave.

This my best (and most optimistic) guess at the outcome. A new power has taken over the island - most likely DHARMA or one of its sponsors. Ben is kept prisoner while the rest of the Others are hunted down; few if any survive. The Power will allow those Lostaways that they can find to return to civilization, on the condition that they tell no one about the island and the events that happen there. To keep them silent, Kate will serve as insurance; she will be brought to the US under the watchful eye of the Power. Locke will be punished by being included among the returning survivors, whereby he will be confined to a wheelchair once again. A few will evade the Power and organize as the new Hostiles. Its core will consist of those not present at the radio tower: Hurley, Sawyer, Juliet, Bernard, Sayid, Jin, Desmond, possibly Charlie. Also on the likely list are the Rousseaus and Karl. Some surviving Others might join also - I'm betting on the never-aging Richard Alpert. The Hostiles will seek to spy on and undermine the Power, and some of the returned survivors will plot to get back to the island.

Update: Link to Amy Welborn's Lost post is now in place.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Thirty Candles

Star Wars premiered on this day in 1977. VodkaPundit remembers.

I remember the movie ticket cost three bucks. Even the Force can't overpower price inflation.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Heroes - Showdown

(Episode: How to Stop an Exploding Man. Spoilers ahead.)

The finale leaves open more questions than the average viewer may realize.

The big one, to me, is what Hiro Nakamura did to prevent the Dark Future from happening. Hiro has changed the history of New York City twice. The first time was when his future self charged Peter to save the cheerleader. The explosion Hiro saw when he first visited the city occurred during the daytime; this must have been the explosion of the original Dark Future chronology in which Sylar's first attempt to kill Claire succeeds. The cheerleader was saved, but the Dark Future is not stopped; a different series of events brings it about.

That series of events was changed radically. One change can be easily attributed to Hiro - saving Ando. But look at what else happened. If Peter had exploded in Kirby Plaza he would have killed Bennett, Parkman, and Niki - all of whom were alive in the Dark Future. (Claire would have regenerated.) Furthermore, he would have killed Candace and D. L., whose powers Sylar had assimilated in the alternate future. We still don't know if Sylar knows Candace exists.

Another obvious change was Nathan's flying in to save the day. If Hiro had been there at the time, he probably would have recalled the scene in Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan in which Spock sacrifices his life to save many others. Perhaps the parallel doesn't end there; Spock made a comeback. Nathan could have let go of Peter at a certain point and flown away from the blast radius. Or Peter could have regained enough control to use his flying ability so that Nathan could leave while Peter flies on his own.

Perhaps the encounter where Hiro called Nathan a "villain" is the change that led to the newly-elected Congressman's change of heart. But what changed the list of who didn't survive to see the Dark Future?

People may wonder why Peter went nuclear and Sylar didn't. The answer seems obvious - extreme emotional distress sets it off. Sylar has greater control over his emotions than Peter does. Another reason could be Sylar's original ability to understand how things work; Peter has the ability too, but Sylar has much more experience with it. Perhaps the difference in the way they absorbed Ted's power also plays a role.

Some may also be puzzled that Sylar dodged four bullets but can't avoid being skewered by a sword. He may simply have been shocked in disbelief that the "silly little man" would actually do it.

Now we know that the late Charles Deveaux was with the Organization, and that he had at least a couple of policy disagreements. He is the prime suspect for being the source of Peter's prophetic dreams ability. Was his vision of Deveaux just another of those dreams - or was there something more to it? Is Charles Deveaux alive?

The official website for Heroes published a series of graphic novels; Wikipedia has the list here. In the 34th novel, Hana Gitelman hops a ride on a Soyuz to knock out a satellite, the original tracking system that relied on injecting isotopes into discovered heroes. Unable to successfully hack the satellite, she leaps from the spacecraft to knock it toward Earth. Before she and it burn up in the atmosphere, she somehow uploads her mind into cyberspace. (Another Wrath of Khan parallel: Spock planting his katra into McCoy.) Are there other heroes who can survive death by planting their minds into the mind of another living person? Is Charles Deveaux living in Peter's mind?

(In the novel the sat fights back by infecting her with a virus. No details are given, but it's probably a computer virus and not a biological one. If she can access computers, a computer could theoretically access her brain - and mess with the signals it sends to the rest of the body.)

What happened to Sylar's body? At the end we see that it had been dragged down a manhole; the manhole cover's position reveals that it was moved to cover up most of the manhole afterward.

Anothe big mystery is the identity of the one "worse than Sylar," the one that Molly can't locate but can see her when she thinks about him/her/it. Some suspect Uluru, a rock monster that appears in 9th Wonders!, and that once spoke to Isaac in one of his trances.

One of positives that stands out is that there are a great many events that have the viewers cheering. The show's worst moment was the death of Simone. Killing off major characters is a major bummer, and it's even worse when the killing is senseless. Her character never had a chance to fully develop, and she was one of the most likeable characters on the show.

Since Candace is still alive, it's not too late for Mr. Muggles to bite her next season. Pleeeease.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Serbia's Marija Serifovic Wins Eurovision 2007

See her Wikipedia bio and the YouTube video of her performance.

A far cry from last year's winner.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Random Thought

It is altogether fitting that the man who will always be remembered for breaking his "no new taxes" pledge has a toll road named after him.


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lost - The Undersea World Of Charlie Pace

(Episode: Greatest Hits. Spoilers ahead.)

I'm guessing that the question of Charlie's survival won't be answered until next season, in the spirit of the Swan Hatch implosion cliffhanger. Pleeeeeease let us learn something about these two women and the Looking Glass station next week.

Ben told Juliet the hatch was flooded - either he was lying, or he was misinformed. (Or Juliet is lying to the Lostaways for some reason.) My bet is on Ben lying.

The flashbacks are a good way to wrap up Charlie's backstory in case they kill him off - and if not, they raise a couple of puzzle pieces. Sayid's friend Nadia was the mugging victim, and a child calls Desmond's name at the swimming pool scene.

The group wants Jack to be the leader, but he's still gotta learn how to consult people. Fortunately Sayid is there to impose his consultation.

Alex is most likely looking for Locke, and I'm betting she knows where to find him - that she knows about the DHARMA mass grave, and figures that Locke's suspicious non-return might mean that Ben decided to add a new occupant. I'm hoping he finds her next week, and that they both go to Jacob to look for answers. That's what I would do. But then again, I would have explored the freakin' island more thoroughly than these clowns.

There gonna milk this series for three more seasons, and promise a "shocking finale." I await with anticipation and dread.

Update: Here are the lyrics to "Wonderwall," the song that Charlie sings as a street musician in this episode and in Desmond's vision in Flashes Before Your Eyes. Note thr refrain:

I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me ?
And after all
You're my wonderwall

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Another Reason To Oppose The UN

Claudia Rosett reports the scandals of the United Nations Development Program.

(Link via Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi email)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Be Careful What You Say In College, Too

Sending pro-gun-rights emails can get you suspended.


More Equal Than Others

Hate speech protection for gays but not for Mormons (emphasis added):

A judge ruled Tuesday that a high school student who sued after being disciplined and then mercilessly teased for using the phrase "That's so gay" is not entitled to monetary damages.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Elaine Rushing said she sympathized with 18-year-old Rebekah Rice for the ridicule she experienced at Maria Carrillo High School. But, the judge said, Rice's lawyers failed to prove that school administrators had violated any state laws or singled the girl out for punishment.


The lawsuit also accused the public high school of having a double standard because, it said, administrators never sought to shield Rebekah from teasing based on Mormon stereotypes. It also alleged that the Rices were singled out because of the family's conservative views on sexuality.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Heroes - All Roads Lead To New York City

(Episode: Landslide. Spoliers ahead.)

It's a shame to see Ted Sprague get killed off. At least he had his moment of glory when he helped Bennett and Parkman escape from the Primatech gulag.

So Peter and Sylar now have Ted's ability, and both can control it. We know from the episode Company Man what causes the holder of that ability to "go nuclear" - critical bodily injury while conscious. So killing Sylar could cause the explosion!

But no, it really is Peter who will explode if Future Hiro's history is not changed. The key seems to be Present Hiro - he must do something different between now and Judgment Day to change the chain of events. These are known events in Future Hiro's history:

  1. Sylar kills Candace, assimilates her ability.
  2. Sylar kills D. L., assimilates his ability.
  3. Sylar kills Nathan, assimilates his ability.
  4. Ando dies, cause not revealed.Peter explodes.
  5. Peter explodes, cause unknown, and gets a scar he can't regenerate.
  6. Micah dies in the explosion.
  7. Jessica dies, but Niki survives - cause unknown.

Unless the timeline has already been altered, D. L. will survive the gunshot wound inflicted by Linderman. (I would think he'd phase his hand into his own body and pull the bullet out.) So Sylar should cross their paths in next week's finale.

Sylar will also somehow find Candace. I don't think he even knows about her.

Sylar knows about Peter's ability by now (if nothing else, by witnessing the latter's encounter with Sprague and company). It seems that Sylar will cause Peter to explode. Hiro must prevent this from happening. Either he must protect Peter from nuke-inducing injury, or he must prevent some incident that separates Peter from Claire, the only one who can get close enough to keep him from detonating as she did for Ted.

Hiro must also kill Sylar without Sylar exploding in NYC. There are two ways to pull this off: Sylar is mortally wounded and then sedated (by one of our super-healing heroes), or Sylar is mortally wounded, and Hiro freezes time and teleports with Sylar to someplace else, hopefully to teleport away before Sylar goes boom.

It appears that Kaito Nakamura has something in common with Bennett - hiding a family member's hero ability from the Organization. How did Mr. Nakamura know about his son's ability, though, and how was he able to track Hiro's progress?

Good to see FBI agent Audrey Hanson's return. I bet seeing Parkman, Bennett and Molly together would freak her out. Maybe she'll do just that, and thus get dragged into the final showdown with Sylar. She'd freak out even more if she learns that the guy posing as Isaac Mendez who reported Ted to the Federalies was really her mutant archnemesis.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell (1933-2007)

Michelle Malkin has lots of links.

A vandal managed to post on Wikipedia an image of Falwell with the caption "racist extraordinaire." I managed to get a screen capture before the WikiPolice sprang into action.

Funny, I didn't think any of the controversies surrounding him had to do with race. Oh wait, I remember when he and Jesse Jackson debated South African disinvestment policy on Nightline. One of the better political debates I've seen - no three-ring circus here. Jackson spoke of the need to end the Apartheid government, and Falwell pointed out that disinvestment would mean massive job losses for blacks.

(Apartheid was eventually killed, but South Africa has yet to find a suitable replacement - it's not exactly a land overflowing with peace and freedom.)

In comments at Daimnation! I recall this old story:

I remember looooong time ago (no later than 1980s) Falwell arranged with Ted Kennedy for Jerry to speak at Harvard and Ted to speak at Thomas Road Baptist. Ted got the polite reception. Oh, if only someone had gotten audio and video of the Harvard speech...

Condolences to the Falwell family and the congregation of Thomas Road Baptist Church.

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Bush More Popular Than Congress

Details here.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Fifty Candles

Yesterday, Robert Novak marked fifty years since the Associated Press transferred him to the Washington DC beat, and recalls some of the main issues of that day.

This memory shoudl give us pause:

While the government outlays were limited, the top marginal income tax rate in 1957 remained at the Korean War level of 91 percent (compared with today's 35 percent). That helped produce a 1957 budget surplus, one of three yearly surpluses in the Eisenhower years. They were matched by three Eisenhower recessions. Nobody talked then about needed tax rate reduction until John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, and nobody in 1957 anticipated the massive 1958 recession that produced big Democratic congressional majorities for a generation.

Seems like 2006, except that it was liberal spending policy, rather than liberal tax policy, that put fiscally liberal Democrats in charge of today's Congress.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Lost - Ben Is More Screwed Up Than Sylar

(Episode: The Man Behind the Curtain. Spoilers ahead.)

Okay, who else thought of Norman Bates when seeing Ben standing by that rocking chair?

Props to the show for giving a simple explanation as to Mikhail's survival - the sonic fence was on the stun setting, as it were.

It's a shame Libby is dead, cuz Ben needs a shrink. His mom died in childbirth and his dad blames him for her death. Ouch. Now we know why he's so obsessed with fertility research. Perhaps his childhood friend Annie was an unfortunate victim of the island's curse on pregnant women.

Jack is not a leader. And he should consider himself lucky for not getting lynched. He brings an Other into the camp, spends time with her, shields her from answering any questions, tells Kate that Juliet told him something without revealing that something, and walks away with Juliet to parts unknown. WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE HIT HIM? When Sawyer plays the tape, Juliet saves Jack's hide when she tells Sawyer to play the B side, which reveals Ben's instructions.

So the tape getting into Locke's hands was Locke's doing and not Ben's manipulation as I had first guessed. It seemed sloppy for Ben to allow Locke to hear the tape, and stupid to tell him about his kidnapping plans.

At Domenico Bettinelli's I entered a comment (currently pending moderation) pondering the mystery of Jacob and the Monster:

I had to watch the show a second time on the VCR to see the appearance of Jacob - that scene happened so fast.

My first impression is that Jacob is the man behind the curtain - that Jacob is the force behind (drum roll) the Smoke Monster. Ben sees a guy in a rocker that Locke doesn't see. Where has this happened before? In the episode "Dave," where Hurley sees a guy that Libby doesn't.

Smokey is the prime suspect behind the apparitions on the island. If so, the Monster must have access to some sort of telepathic ability; this seems the likeliest explanation for the fact that the Monster has appeared as a person (or a horse) known only to one person on the island.

This could explain how the Others were able to collect highly detailed dossiers on the Flight 815 survivors - Jacob is their source. The Others may have no idea how Jacob is getting that information; if Ben connects the dots between Jacob and the apparition of his mother, he may know a lot.

But why does the Monster behave differently toward different people? It leaves Eko alone on one occasion and kills him on another. As "Dave" it tried to get Hurley to kill himself. In smoke form it hovered over Kate and Juliet without harming them. It appears in dreams. It left Locke unharmed on one occasion, tried to drag him down a hole on another, and as Jacob spoke a couple of words that Ben couldn't hear. All those years it ignored those microbuses that drove around the island.

(How could those VWs drive around the island unmolested by the Hostiles? And how was DHARMA able to build all those installations with the Hostiles present? Maybe DHARMA lied about who got to the island first.)

I have a working theory. The Smoke Monster was originally just what Rousseau said it was - a security system, most likely built by DHARMA and preprogrammed to ignore sonic barriers and vans. One day Jacob took it over.

But who and what is Jacob? One of DHARMA's fields of study was parapsychology; maybe Jacob is a parapsychology experiment gone wrong. He/it could be something along the lines of the thought monster in the old movie Forbidden Planet, for all I know.

About those did they get hold of poison gas? Why the archaic clothing? And how did they get on the island? Some say they're descended from the crew of the Black Rock, but as Lostpedia points out, "not to [sic] many slave trading ships that carried women." Women can't conceive and survive on the island anyway. And the Hostiles speak 21st-century English. The clothing may be a ruse, to give DHARMA the impression that they're more primitive than they really are.

Here's another mystery. Ben was a boy of 10-ish years old when he first met Richard Alpert (the Mittelos agent who recruited Juliet). That was probably around thirty years ago. Since then Alpert seems to have not aged. That's something that the Others, especially Ben, would have noticed.

One more thing about Jacob: his shadowy profile from the time he was briefly visible resembles that of Locke (with a lot more hair). Some say Jacob is Locke, but I'm sticking with my original hunch. Per theory, Ben may be aware that Jacob can take any form. Perhaps Ben saw Jacob briefly take the form of a younger Locke.

As for the ring of dirt around the cabin, I thought it might be volcanic ash - or gunpowder. The Black Rock would certainly have the latter if it had cannon. I hope the significance of Locke's discovery reveals itself shortly.

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The Great Global Warming Swindle Revisited

The maker of the documentary responds to critics (link via Dodgeblogium). I wish he could have gone into more detail about the allegation that Professor Carl Wunsch of MIT was duped by the documentarians.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Neal Boortz On The Opie And Anthony Stunt

In his column at Townhall he warns that their recent broadcast will be used as fodder in the War on Speech's efforts for government censorship of talk radio. He also makes this appeal to XM:

These two pathetic fools need to be removed from XM satellite radio right now. Today. No suspension. No warning. Fire them. Now...Free speech does not mean that you have the right to say anything you please on any radio station or any private satellite cannel. Whoever owns and controls that station and/or satellite has every right in the world to control content. Opie and Anthony are content. XM ought to show some responsibility … now … today.

Read the whole thing.

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What Do These Cities Have In Common?

San Diego; Miami; Sacramento; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; Honolulu; New York; Los Angeles; Boston; San Jose (California). They're on Forbes' list of the top ten overpriced real estate markets among the 40 largest metro areas un the United States.

Wikipedia has a list of 363 metro areas ranked by population. Of the top 40, four are in Texas, none of which are on the Forbes list. So not everything is bigger in Texas...


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Heroes - Sylar Looks Kinda Like Clark Kent In Those Glasses


Now if the heroes could find an equivalent to Kryptonite...

In The Hard Part, Sylar discovers the prophecy of the exploding man, and concludes that he is the one who will explode after absorbing the power of the scruffy man in his own painting. He's worried, and turns first to Mohinder. Sylar hangs up when he hears the scientist dialing 911 - yeah, like the regular cops are capable of dealing with Sylar.

So he visits his mom, as Hiro and Ando - who just barely escaped detection in Isaac's studoo - trail him. Sylar is in some ways a parallel to Peter; both have dreams of being "special," each absorbs powers in his own way, and both are chastised by close family (Nathan, in Peter's case) for lacking ambition. He decides to demonstrate his power - using cryokinesis to recreate the effects of a snowglobe in the apartment, which Mom enjoys at first but is soon frightened as her snowglobe collecxtion starts flying around her. She runs in her bedroom at first, but later comes out. She threatens him with a pair of scissors, but in a scuffle she is accidentally stabbed.

At that moment Hiro freezes time, and tries to summon the courage to kill Sylar while he's "frozen." But he loses courage and concentration, and Sylar grabs the blade and uses cryokinesis to make the blade brittle. Hiro and Ando teleport away, and the blade breaks. Hiro wonders how he can use the sword to kill Sylar. Either he will find a way to repair it (reforged using Ted's power?), or he will find a way to stab Sylar with a half blade. Only a few inches of the blade near the hilt are visible in the image showing Hiro stabbing Sylar. But it would take a lot of force to impale Sylar - like Peter using telekinesis or Jessica using brute strength to throw Hiro, maybe.

Sylar's mom had made an offhand comment that if he put his mind to it he could even be President. The idea sinks in. The future is now clearer; Sylar will scheme to become President. I dont' believe he knows abotu Candace yet; her power is vital to that plan.

The Organization's plans are clearer, too. It plans to use the predicted explosion to lift the political career of Nathan Petrelli. And Nathan's own mom is in on the plan. (Heh, Sylar has a good mom, Peter has an evil mom.) Is the trip to Paris is really intended to deliver Claire to the Linderman organization? Or does her loyalty to Linderman have its limits - would she try to hide Claire from them as Bennett did?

The Petrellis now learn from Claire about Ted. Nathan wants his brother and daughter out of the city, but Peter has another plan: she will carry a gun and ensure that Peter doesn't explode by shooting him in the head where she removed the glass shard. Uncle and niece encounter Bennett, Parkman and ted, and Peter starts absorbing Ted's power - but it's not time yet for NYC to get nuked.

Is Peter the one who will explode? It's possible that Peter was looking through someone else's perspective in his prophetic. He once dreamt of flying; that could have been Peter dreaming that he was Nathan.

D. L. and Jessica managed to get to Linderman's vault, and find that he's been tracking the duo their entire lives. They also discover a painting of Micah in a burning New York City. Meanwhile, the kid discovers that the woman disguised as her mom is really Candace. What plans Linderman has for Micah are yet unclear, although there's been speculation that Micah might be used to rig voting machines.

The hero tracking system turns out to be a little girl - the one who survived a Sylar attack that had killed her parents. Her ability is to find anyone, anywhere. That ability, coupled with having a popular politician in its pocket, gives Linderman a lot of power.

For some reason, the final edition of 9th Wonders! that Hiro got from the future has no dialogue in the bubbles. Only two episodes left to find out why...

Update: Where is the Haitian?

Update: Every hero has one innate power. Where did Peter get his prophetic dreams ability? One of his parents?


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Random Thought

If a socialist chick can't get elected President in France, can Hillary Clinton get elected President in the United States?

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Monday, May 07, 2007

NewsMax Poll On Hypothetical Imus Comeback

Considering who sponsored this poll - and the very fact that it was an Internet poll - it's hardly a cross-section of America. What I do get out of it is that a lot of people who are not Imus fans favor an Imus comeback:

1) Should Imus make a media comeback to radio and TV airwaves?

Yes: 79 percent

No: 21 percent

2) What is your overall opinion of Don Imus?

Favorable: 44 percent

Unfavorable: 31 percent

No Opinion: 25 percent

At least a near third of those unfavorables (10% of total sample) voted "yes" for Imus to return to the air. This group is probably larger than that - I imagine that some may be neutral toward Imus but feel he got what he deserved - but we don't know by how much.

Also, at least eight percent of respondents are complete whackballs:

6) Do you believe Al Sharpton has any credibility attacking Imus?

Has credibility: 8 percent

Has no credibility: 92 percent


Signe De L'Apocalypse

France chooses a conservative guy over a socialist woman for its next president.

Samizdata ponders the future.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lost - Con Man's Son Cons Con Man Into Killing Con Man, So Con Man's Son Can Con Indigenous Con Man Into Thinking He Killed Con Man


Par for the course, this episode opens more new questions than it answers. We now know for certain that Anthony Cooper is the one who conned Sawyer's parents. But why does Ben say that Locke brought Cooper to the island? I believe it is Ben's twisted logic; Locke wants to "join" the Others, so the Others are "forced" to test his loyalty. In truth, Locke never joins anybody, and the Others are psychopaths.

We also know where the outside world found the alleged wreckage of Flight 815 - waaaay off course at the bottom of a 4-mile trench near Bali. Evidently it is the major trench seen clearly on this map, paralleling Indonesia to its south (the green arrow points to Bali, as you probably guessed). Wreckage and bodies were found - but nobody said whether any specific bodies were identified. If the Bali wreckage is unretrievable, the apparent most likely explanation - DHARMA or somebody faked the crash - diving the Oceanic plane into an oceanic trench is a perfect cover-up. And why did the plane go off course? Maybe the official story is that it was hijacked by an Iraqi with ties to an Australian terror cell.

Cooper's delusion (I'm certain it's a delusion) that the island is Hell is understandable. He experiences an incredible accident at 70 mph (what, no Hurley number?), is taken into an ambulance, and the next thing he sees is Locke. That would definitely mess with his mind. It messed with ours.

I think that Sawyer has found more peace with Cooper than Locke has. Cooper was an easy distraction to keep Sawyer from facing himself, but that distraction is now gone. I don't think that Locke has ever really come to terms with the feelings of betrayal. Maybe this is a reason why Locke avoids joining anything. He'll trust Rousseau to walk away with a box of dynamite no questions asked, but he won't commit to a group.

It'll be fun to see what she plans to blow up.

We also know that Naomi was hired by Penny to find Desmond at a set of coordinates, and that after searching empty ocean the island "appeared out of nowhere." A helicopter can see a pretty big portion of Earth. How did the island get overlooked? How did the island's properties zap the helicopter, and not the other form(s) of transportation (the sub is the only one that's known) to and from the island? And how did Penny know that Desmond would be found where an electromagnetic anomaly would be located?

Sayid got the satellite phone to work, but static (evidently a product of the Swan hatch incident that wiped out even the Others' communication) prevents its use. Will he find a way around that obstacle? My first thought would be to build a simple catamaran from two hollowed-out logs and to get away from the island to get a better reception. But I would also build sturdy shelter after spending so many days on the island. Common sense is often not found on TV shows.

I am certain that Ben tricked Locke into stealing his tape recorder. There is no way that Ben could not know that Locke would have overheard part of that tape when he approached Ben's tent. I suspect that Juliet's mission is a ruse, and Juliet doesn't know it. But why? Is Ben setting her up to be discovered by the Lostaways, in some bizarre form of punishment? Or is he using her to feed false information to distract the Lostaways from his real plans? If the latter, then Richard Alpert must not be in on it; from his conversation with Locke he seems convinced that Ben is fixated on the fertility research. He wants the Others to focus on some other goal - but what?

Jack is an [insert multiple expletives] lousy diplomat. His campmates fear that he's given in to Stockholm Syndrome and is working for the others, and now he's just let Kate know that he and Juliet are keeping some secret - and they're keeping it to themselves for now. THIS IS NOT HOW TO MANAGE AN EXCEEDINGLY TENSE SITUATION, YOU IDIOT!!

I'm beginning to think that Vincent would make a better president than Jack.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Heroes - Days Of Future Passed

(Spoiler warning)

I could have sworn those sheets of paper hanging all about Isaac's loft at the end of last week's episode were the same size of the pages from the sketchbook. As we see in Five Years Gone, they are all sorts of newspaper clippings that Future Hiro has been using to try to find the key moments that must be changed to "save the world."

Isaac did hide Sylar's fate from Sylar - the future timeline was in the final edition of 9th Wonders! itself. (I should have known this; Hiro is one of the comic book's chief characters.) The Heroes wiki has an image of the panel showing Hiro stabbing Sylar with his katana. I still suspect that there is something significant in the pages of the sketch book.

One key moment was saving the cheerleader. Her power would make Sylar indestructible, although a foreign object in the brain would do the job temporarily - like a stake in a vampire's heart - judging from past episodes about Claire's and Peter's apparent deaths. He must be killed in order to prevent his ascendency to the Presidency in the guise of Nathan Petrelli.

In this future Sylar has killed Nathan, Candice, and D. L. for their powers. The explosion was somehow blamed on Sylar, but it was really Peter, who regenerated afterward. Micah was among the explosion's victims, as was Ando, which Present Ando learns from Peter. Jessica is gone but Niki is around (however this works) and is seeing Peter. Parkman heads Homeland Security and The Haitian works for him. DHS rounds up heroes, except for a select few by secret agreement between Parkman and Bennett. Claire is in hiding but Parkman finds her and turns her over to the President, who she iscovers too late to be Sylar and not Nathan.

Sylar is using the anti-hero laws to "eliminate the competition." In his Nathan disguise he instructs his aide Mohinder to oversee an extermination program. He announces to the public that a cure has been found for the genetic anomaly. In reality it is a deadly toxin; the government will announce that it discovered too late that it has lethal side effects. Present Hiro, who has been captured by DHS, will be the first recipient. But the last issue of 9th Wonders! comes to the rescue; Mohinder has a copy, and it has panels showing Mohinder injecting The Haitian instead of Hiro; Mohinder follows suit. Hiro and Ando escape to the present.

Something will keep Hiro from taking down Sylar, if Hiro doesn't figure out what it is. Otherwise, Sylar is destined for the White House - to the detriment of Linderman's political schemes...

I've noticed something: every single one of Isaac's paintings has come true. But the image we see can be misleading; for instance, Peter's apparent death in his first encounter with Sylar. Mohinder's attack on The Haitian might be a future that is prevented, but (cue the Twilight Zone music) an event that present Hiro will still experience and remember. If all the artwork comes true, somebody will explode (not necessarily Peter), NYC will experience a massive explosion, damage level indeterminate, at the rough midpoint between the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings (image here), Sylar will be stabbed (lethally or not), and Nathan (or his doppelganger) will stand in the Oval Office.


Wally Schirra (1923-2007) and NASA remember.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Sixth Henderson Prize For The Advancement Of Liberty

On this May Day, the irregularly-awarded Henderson Prize is awarded to individuals and organizations that contributed to the downfall of Communism in Hungary. A separate entry is given to Miklós Németh, for his role in the reform movement in his own country, and for his decision as Hungary's last undemocratically-appointed Prime Minister to allow East Germans to pass through Hungary to flee to the West.

János Kádár holds the distinction of being the first (and so far only) recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize to win this award. Ironically, he opposed the ultimate goals of the reformists, but he created the political climate that made democratization go more smoothly and more rapidly in Hungary than in other Warsaw Pact nations. He is probably spinning in his grave at this moment.


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