Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The State Of The Union Address Is Today

I feel a song in my heart.

Neon lights
Nobel Prize
When a mirror speaks
The reflection lies...

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Look Out Below

Meteorite lands in doctor's office.


Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

The logic behind the ruling is summed up neatly by Ilya Somin:

I'm not arguing that corporations themselves are "persons" with constitutional rights. Rather, I'm asserting that their owners and employees are such persons and that that status enables them to use corporations to exercise their constitutional rights. Similarly, partnerships, universities, schools, and sole proprietorships aren't people either. But people can use them to exercise their constitutional rights, and the government can't forbid it on the sole ground that they are using assets assets assigned to "state-created entities."

Somin points out that media corporations - and just about everything else - is a "state-created entity." He also identifies this slippery slope:

If people using state-created entities don’t have free speech rights, they don’t have any other constitutional rights either...Thus, government would not be bound by the Fourth Amendment in searching corporate property (including employee offices). It could take corporate property for private use without paying compensation because the Fifth Amendment would no longer apply. It could forbid religious services on corporate property (including that owned by churches, most of which are after all nonprofit corporations). If the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment doesn’t apply to corporate property, neither does the Free Exercise Clause. And so on.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Memo To Martha Coakley's Voting Base

There was a time when state legislatures voted for US Senators, but the Seventeenth Amendment changed that in 1914. Still happy with that arrangement?


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quote Of The Day

From one of Andrew Sullivan's readers:

I so wish that the Democrats will learn a lesson from this Coakley travesty. I'm an unrepentant liberal and Obama supporter, but this woman is not a liberal. There is nothing in her record that says anything but police state and nanny state. You've written about her most well known cases - why in the world would a progressive want this woman in this position? She is John Kerry squared. I voted for her, but my gut wanted her to lose.

If "nanny state" isn't at the very core of liberalism, I don't know what is. It's not the political right that wants to nationalize health care and micromanage our dietary intake.

Or ban playground games. But the kids are burning too few calories! But dodgeball is too dangerous! Oh, what is a nanny-stater to do?

The image in the Sullivan post is priceless.

Just In Time For Valentine's Day

Robots that serve breakfast.

Let's hope the robots don't watch any old James Cagney flicks.


Heroes - Hiro On Trial

(Episode: Pass/Fail. Spoilers ahead.)

Dr. Suresh builds Bennett a mutant locator, with the same technology behind the compasses that he discovered independently. Shortly after he leaves the apartment, Hiro passes out.

While he's being rushed to the hospital and into the operating room, Hiro experiences a vision of some sort. He's in the Burnt Toast diner, on trial for disrupting the time-space continuum for selfish purposes. His father presides, Ando as counsel, Adam Monroe as prosecutor. Hiro pleads not guilty. Witnesses include child versions of Keiko and Ando (recalling the slushy incident), Sylar's cheerleader victim, and Sylar himself.

In the operating room Hiro flatlines, and sees himself entering a hallway where the people in the diner/courtroom vision await. Hiro changes his plea to guilty, but upholds that he has never violated his hero code. He finds a katana in his hand, the crowd backs away, and Adam faces him, also wielding a sword. The two fight, and Hiro wins.

All are gone, but a new person enters the hallway: his mother. At first he thinks she's there to receive him into death. In truth, she's there to heal him. On the operating table his pulse returns; presumably the tumor is fully healed.

Claire encounters Sylar in an empty lecture hall. He shows her the tattoo, says it's an omen that she's supposed to somehow help him find his way. His hunch is that he and Claire essentially have the same problem - they build walls to keep others out -and confirms his hypothesis with Lydia's power.

Sylar hints that Gretchen has been kidnapped. Claire gets away by stabbing him in the eye with a pencil, and from certain remarks guesses where Gretchen is. She's in a room tied to a chair. The electricity flickers, and a strange explosion blows out the windows in the room.

They hide in a janitorial closet, where Claire confides that she and Sylar really are alike in some ways, including a deep desire to rid themselves of their powers so they can be normal. Gretchen turns out to be Sylar in shapeshifting disguise. He leaves. Claire finds the real Gretchen, who she's been holding at emotional arm's length; Claire wants to change that. Meanwhile, Sylar shows up on Matt Parkman's doorstep and finds his unsuspecting wife.

Samuel tries to woo Vanessa. The carnival is currently in the once-desolate valley. They talk over a milkshake at a diner in a nearby town. They talk about an old dream of living in a cabin in the countryside. Vanessa had even made a drawing of the cabin - which Samuel had kept (or recreated). In the valley he's built the cabin for real. Vanessa appreciates the gesture but feels that she really belongs in the city, that the cabin is just a romantic fantasy.

Samuel goes back to the diner and broods over his milkshake. The waitress asks if he's okay. He loses his temper, exclaims that the world will now play by his rules, and while in the diner he uses his power to engulf the entire town - as the carnival family watches the holocaust from several miles away.

Where will Samuel take his vengeance? What does Sylar want with Parkman? What kind of relationship with Claire seek with Gretchen? What will Hiro do after he's recovered? What will Suresh find waiting for him at home in India? Stay tuned.

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Scott Brown Wins In Massachusetts

Emperor Misha celebrates the Browncoat victory.

The Malkinator has an election map.

Vodkapundit reports Coakley's concession.

Instapundit is swarming with bloggage on the story. Just keep scrolling.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Don't Even THINK About It, Guys

Danger, Will Robinson! Currently the top InstaPost links Valentine's Day kitchen gifts. Guys, on V-Day she wants something sentimental, not something practical. The Amazon page does include flower bouquets - go there if you can't think of anything else. But do NOT get her microplane grater/zester.

As far as shopping for husbands goes, unless cooking is one of his big hobbies I'd stay away from kitchen gadgets


Happy Civil Rights Day!

It's a bit late in the day. Check out last year's holiday message.


Friday, January 15, 2010

This Woman Is Insane

Rosslyn Smith highlights Martha Coakley's prosecutorial career.

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Life Imitates Elton John

"And I'm gonna be high as a kite by then" - Rocket Man

NASA Discovers Cocaine Near Space Shuttle - NBC Miami

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Heroes - Can't Find My Way Home

(Episode: Close to You. Spoilers ahead.)

Hiro and Ando go to rescue "Dr. Watson" from a Florida sanitarium. As virtually all fans guessed, "Watson" is Mohinder Suresh, who Hiro had placed in Riverdale Psychiatric Hospital for his safety. As part of the plan, Hiro is admitted. Switching Mohinder's daily sedative allows him to use super-strength to break out.

As the three are running from searchers in the Everglades, Suresh gets the inspiration for Ando to use his ability to administer a dose of electro-shock therapy to unscramble Hiro's brain. In his current state he can't teleport, having lost his direction sense. The scheme works, and at the end of the show they pop into Bennett's apartment, where he and Lauren admit and express their affections for each other.

Bennett had a bad day. He got a lead on Samuel's childhood friend Vanessa. He contacted her, she refused to talk, or to even admit that she knows Samuel. Bennett decides to see her in person, and enlists and unwitting Matt Parkman to use his ability to make her cooperative.

She tells Bennett that Samuel had been stalking her. Her parents were the rich family in whose home Samuel's dad was one of the domestic servants - the house that Samuel destroyed in a sinkhole.

They try to set a trap, but Samuel uses his self-replicating friend to distract Bennett and Matt so he can get to her. The duo use some kind of GPS gizmo to track her (presumably by using her phone's transponder). The chase leads to an empty field; Samuel has used his power's rough equivalent of a teleport to move the teleport, just as he's been able to travel to places like California and, several weeks ago, that little Georgia town.

Lydia has the bright idea that Peter Petrelli can lead the carnival. She telepathically sends Peter a dream that reactivates his compass tattoo.

Emma uses her ability to draw Peter to her apartment with her music. He sees the compass design on the cello. He shows the moving compass tattoo, and the two go to his place, where he shows a photo of Samuel. Angela drops in for a visit, and recognizes Emma from a dream.

Angela privately tells Peter that she will be used to kill "thousands" with her cello playing, and that someone other than Peter can rescue her from that fate. She won't reveal the dream, so Peter absorbs her ability. His dream offers no details except the identity of that other: Sylar.

Having learned nothing about scheming from his parents, Peter impulsively goes to Emma's and smashes her cello. She naturally tells him to get lost.

Where will Emma get her next cello? Will Parkman play hero more often, or listen to his wife and stay out of the saving-the-world business? When will we ever find out what Lauren's power is? Does Hiro have any more righting-wrongs missions? What is the "beautiful thing" Samuel is about to show Vannessa - that once-desolate valley, or something else? Will Peter have any dreams about how to conduct a proper conspiracy? Stay tuned.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Which Is The Dumber Racial Gaffe?

Recall what Harry Reid said:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) apologized today for referring to President Barack Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect" in private conversations during the 2008 presidential campaign.

It's a safe bet that "negro dialect" was not an allusion to Thomas Sowell's verbal style.

Then again, maybe Reid was right - that Obama doesn't talk like any black people we know of, highbrow or lowbrow. How many blacks use the term "wee-weed up"?

But seriously folks...I wish that the reportage had cited entire sentences and surrounding statements and not just those six words. I'd like to know how the lightness of Obama's skin (which is kinda what you expect from someone who's half black and half white) managed to get brought into the conversation.

Recall what Bill Clinton said (emphasis in original):

The day after Iowa, he phoned Kennedy and pressed for an endorsement, making the case for his wife. But Bill then went on, belittling Obama in a manner that deeply offended Kennedy. Recounting the conversation later to a friend, Teddy fumed that Clinton had said, A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee.

What kind of person looks at a law school graduate and thinks of him as a menial?

Perhaps Clinton will offer the excuse that he was alluding not to Obama's race but the fact that he was a lobbyist a lot longer than he was an elected politician.

(I'll find out reeeeeal quick if any lobbyists read my blog.)


NOBODY Gets Out Of Jury Duty

Not even a cat.

I don't know about Massachusetts, but here in Texas you can't serve on a jury if you don't speak English.


Friday, January 08, 2010

Heroes - Can't Find My Way Home

(Episode: Let It Bleed. Spoilers ahead.)

At the wake for Nathan, Claire is upset with Angela and even more so with her stepdad for the Nathan/Sylar scheme. At Claire's request, Noah is not at the wake. Angela tips her off that Peter is running away from his own grief, and he needs family he can trust to lean on.

Claire goes up to the roof where Peter is listening to his police radio, but only the radio is there. The radio says a disgruntled office working going on a shooting rampage. Claire instinctively he's gone off to play hero, and follows him to the scene. She finds him, is enlisted to put pressure on an office worker's wound.

Peter follows the sound of gunshots, returns to that seen, and the three are met by the shooter. Peter tries to talk the guy into surrendering, but winds up getting shot. Outside, he takes Claire's ability and regenerates.

Later they talk, and he brings up her old friend West, who can fly. Evidently Claire arranges an off-camera meeting so that Peter can grab West's flight ability, as he goes off flying in the final minutes of the show.

Edgar goes to Bennett's apartment to kill him. Bennett stands in the empty apartment, back to the opened window. Edgar goes in, Gurkha knives blazing, and Bennett (feeling the gust of wind caused by Edgar's entry?) spins around and shoots him with his stun gun.

Bennett borrows a restaurant from an old friend, no questions asked, for his interrogation session. Edgar's in the freezer; the cold tightens the muscles and thus disables his power. Lauren is present. Bennett tries the bad-cop approach at first, and gets nowhere.

Lauren points out that something's out of place - Edgar has no compass, the means to find the carnival. She counsels a more diplomatic approach, which Bennett heeds, and which produces results - at first. Edgar wants to stop Samuel. He tells of how Samuel covered up his own complicity in Joseph's death by framing Edgar.

They initially agree to isolate Samuel in a back area so Bennett can nab him, but Edgar backs out when Bennett talks about breaking up the carnival and reintegrating the members into regular society. Edgar secretly produces a long picklock from one sleeve, frees himself from the cuffs, and leaves. Lauren notes that cult psychology of the carnival.

At the carnival, Samuel telekinetically draws long-lost love Vanessa with his earth-based ink, as Sylar interrupts him. After exchanging words, Sylar is about to cut Samuel's skull but either can't or won't. Samuel stirs a sort of dirt cyclone that cuts into Sylar's skin and rendere him unconscious.

Sylar is placed in Lydia's trailer. She meets with him, and seductively uses her empathy to learn about Sylar. He in turn employs his rarely-used empathic mimicry to absorb her power without killing. He understands that she wants to manipulate Sylar to kill Samuel. The two part disgusted with each other.

He goes to Samuel and requests something to complete his new power - a tattoo. Initially I thought that her ability to manipulate the tattoos worked in conjunction with Samuel's power, that her "empathy" ability was similar to Sylar's empathic mimicry. But that's inconsistent with her inability to off Samuel herself. The ink is made of soil simply so Samuel can "inject" her skin with it; the ink could probably be made of anything to work.

Anyway, Samuel whips up some ink, transfers it to Sylar's skin, and eventually a tattoo shows up on his forearm. The image convinces him he doesn't belong at the carnival. He flies off, and at the end of the show he hovers outside the window of the person whose image still forms the tattoo: Claire.

What does Sylar want with Claire? Why does her image convince him he doesn't belong at the carnival? What will Edgar do next? Will the cops get suspicious about Peter's disappearance from the crime scene? Will Bennett assault the carnival when it's tour takes it to Waco, Texas? Stay tuned.

Update: Hyperlink is fixed. Originally, this and the previous episode were in the same Wikipedia article; they aired on the same date.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ground Beef

The Alabama Crimson Tide beats the Texas Longhorns for the BCS title.


Obama Works Toward Earning His Nobel Peace Prize

Headline: U.S. Kills al Qaeda’s Top Military Commander.

Of course, the Nobel was never handed out to those who win peace militarily. Which is another reason for its irrelevance.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fire Napolitano

Rand Simberg wonders if her hypothetical replacement would be an improvement. But commenter David cites a much larger issue:

On the other hand, not firing her sends a terrible message - failure doesn’t matter. It’s better to fire her than not.

In the same thread I made two observations about Napolitano's "the system worked" speech (bear with my typos):

There;s something about Napolitano’s remarks that stanbd out in my mind. Recall the famous quote:

“And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.”

She’s identifying random citizens as part of the system. Random citizens roughing up perps. This has to be some kind of leftist heresy.

Of course, the only part of the system she addressed was the response - not prevention, which is DHS’s nominal reason to exist.

When guys with known terrorist connections can get on a plane and Cat Stevens can’t, something is not working.

To refresh memories, Cat Stevens's 2004 encounter with no-fly lists is reported here.


Heroes - Welcome Back My Friends, To The Show That Never Ends

(Episode: Upon This Rock. Spoilers ahead.)

Earlier this season Emma received the gift of a cello from an unknown source. The mysterious donor pays a visit - Samuel. He tells her that her power can attract people to her when she plays music, including a specific person she concentrates on. They go to Central Park and he shows a photo to her. The man in the photo shows up during her playing - an emotionally disturbed man living in the park. He has an ability to make new plant life generate or existing plant life to regenerate; during her playing he leans against a winter-denuded tree and its leaves start growing back.

Claire spots a Primatech box in Samuel's trailer. Eli thwarts her first attempt to snoop when Samuel's away. Later she makes a run for the hall of mirrors. Eli follows, with his illusory replicants on guard. Inside there's one of him and a bunch of Claires; Eli lunges for one of the images, and is knocked unconscious by the Claire holding a stool.

In the trailer she finds her dad's files and a map of a valley. She is interrupted by Doyle, who doesn't want her to ruin what seems to be the first place that ever felt like a home. He eventually lets her go from his telekinetic hold, and tells her to talk to Lydia. She tells Claire that the carnival was a good place until Samuel took over, that he needs to be stopped.

She tells about Joseph's murder. Claire confronts Samuel with this information, and about the valley. Samuel says he killed out of rage, and deeply regrets the incident. He shows her the valley in the map, a barren place. His recruit from Central Park is present. Samuel uses his ability to tap into a water source, and the recruit makes grass, trees and flowers grow in the immediate area.

In the episode are references to a lost (perhaps unrequited?) love of Samuel's, someone named Vanessa.

Hiro appears in present-day Tokyo. He witnesses an attempted purse-snatching and drive off the perp with a food vender's cleaver. Cops take him in, find his business card and reach Ando. Hiro is speaking gibberish, with various comic book, sci-fi and Sherlock Holmes references. Hiro tells the cops he has a tumor and it seems to be getting worse.

(That may be a partial explanation; at least some of the scrambling must have resulted from the "mind meld" with that memory manipulator guy Damien at the carnival.)

At the Yamagato offices, Keiko wants to call a neurologist, but Ando has a hunch that Hiro's brain is only partly scrambled, that he's trying to communicate something specific. Hiro mentions a "Danger room" - which is his personal nickname for his comic book collection.

The clues involve one of the past wrongs that Hiro has made it his mission to right - a sanitarium located on an Arkham Street somewhere in Florida...

Nathan is now officially dead; his remains are found in a small crashed plane that he was allegedly piloting. No doubt Angela set this up.

Will Claire be told the real story? Who will run for Nathan's open Senate seat? Is there a yet-disclosed reason that desolate valley so special to Samuel? Stay tuned

Two episodes aired Monday. I will get to the other later this week.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Envelope, Please II

Right Wing News has its 40 Obnoxious Quotes of the year. At Number One:

I have a good news to report; Glen Beck appears closer to suicide - I'm hoping that he does it on camera; suicide is rampant in his family, and given his alcoholism and his tendencies towards self-destruction, I am only hoping that when Glen Beck does put a gun to his head and pulls the trigger, that it will be on television, because somebody will capture it on YouTube and it will be the most popular video for months. -- Mike Malloy

The Education Intelligence Agency has its Public Education Quotes of the Decade. The top quote is "an unmatched combination of hyperbole, metaphor and faulty history."

“The struggle in which we are engaged is as vital to our future today as was the outcome of the Civil War to our nation in 1860 (sic). The goal of these locusts is to impose their will on state after state until they have completely demolished government as we know it. There is a time for every generation to rise to the call - when the very existence of our nation, our state, our values, our culture and our public schools are threatened with extinction.” - Nebraska State Education Association Executive Director Jim Griess on Initiative 423, a ballot measure that would have limited state government spending to previous years’ amounts, with allowed increases for inflation and population growth. (October 2006 The NSEA Voice)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Caption This

What is Obama saying to Biden in this photo? My first thought was something to do with cement galoshes.


Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Envelope, Please

Media Research Center's Notable Quoteables for 2009 are out. The Quote of the year is one of the most outrageous statements one could imagine out of the press:

"Mary Jo wasn't a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan....We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history....[One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows — maybe she'd feel it was worth it."
— Discover magazine deputy web editor Melissa Lafsky, who formerly worked on the New York Times’s Freakonomics blog, writing at the Huffington Post, August 27.

The same quote earned the Long Live Camelot Award for Lionizing Ted Kennedy.

There's lots more categories. Check 'em out.


It's A Bit Early, But I'm Making My 2012 Presidential Endorsement Now

Dr. Evil for president - he can't count to a trillion.

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