Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Henry Waxman Was For Sarbanes-Oxley Before He Was Against It

Those corporations reporting ObamaCare's financial impact on their balance sheets - to the chagrin of the California Democrat - are merely following Sarbanes-Oxley (which Waxman voted for), not to mention Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

I say let Waxman have his little inquisition. Let these corporate CEOs explain what ObamaCare will do to them as the C-SPAN cameras roll. Government transparency is a good thing.


Militia Bust

These folks look like a rogues gallery of slasher film villains.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Amish Paradise

Amish and similar "Plain" sects are exempt from ObamaCare, due to a "religious conscience" clause. This follows precedent that allows them to opt out of Social Security.

It's a shame that Jews and Christians can't opt out on the basis of Thou Shalt Not Steal. Another reason you can't display the Ten Commandments in public school.

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FIrst Metaphorically, Now Literally

The GOP has long been into bondage. When it held a majority in both houses, it tied its own hands behind its back and let Bush and the Democrats run spending policy. It let the Dems control the lower court nomination process. It let the Gang of 14 atrocity stand.

So when I read about a GOP event at a bondage-themed club, my thought is: art imitates life.

I do think Michael Steele needs to hand in his dance card. He's waltzed into way too many landmines.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost - Black Rock Down

(Episode: Ab Aeterno. Spoilers ahead.)

The title is Latin for the phrase "from eternity." The Lostpedia article on this episode notes that the phrase begins the Latin Vulgate translation of Proverbs 8:23 (double Hurley Number reference!) - "I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth" (NKJV).

Proverbs is the 20th book of the Bible - no Hurley number there - but get this: the first Hurley number is 4, the fourth book of the Bible is...Numbers.

Indeed, as predicted we see Richard Alpert - Ricardo - in a previous century. He is a Spaniard, from the Canary Islands circa 1867. He rode a long journey to get a doctor for his critically ill wife Isabella. The doctor refused his services due to insufficient co-pay; Ricardo struggles with him and accidentally kills him.

He's imprisoned. The priest denies absolution on the basis of insufficient time for penance; Ricardo is told he's going to be hanged the next day, and he is destined for Hell.

(If any Catholics are reading this, drop me an email and tell me if the producers got the Catholic theology right. I haven't gotten around to dealing with the comments issue. My comments provider Haloscan was assimilated by was acquired by JS-Kit when I was too busy dealing with probate issues to know what was happening. I don't know if comments work at all; all I know is I have to pay a subscription fee if I want to be able to manage comments, and I didn't sign on for that. I'd like to be able to migrate everything to Blogger's newfangled comments machinery. This is a mess.)

An English-speaking fellow shows up at the prison; he's heard from the priest, who learned of Ricardo's self-study, that one of the inmates speaks English. Ricardo is freed, sold into slavery to Magnus Hanso, captain of the Black Rock. We see that all the other slaves are Spaniards; I figure Hanso thought a bilingual fellow would be worth more. That the slaves are chained means they're strictly merchandise and not coerced crew.

The Black Rock is caught up in a lightning storm and rough seas - perhaps also in a tsunami, unless Jacob has the power to move the island several stories underwater (which isn't so weird for this show). The ship collides with the statue and goes well inland to its final resting place.

An officer kills off the surviving slaves one by one, rationalizing that provisions are slim and captives would eventually turn on captors. As he threatens the last slave, Ricardo, Smokey attacks. Richard Alpert is the sole survivor.

While working at his chains, he is visited by his dead wife (actually the Man in Black in disguise). "She" convinces him that they're dead and in Hell. Smokey interrupts, she flees and is attacked. Later as Ricardo sleeps (was he dreaming the encounter?) MIB wakes him up, unshackles him with keys he found. He tells Ricardo they're in Hell, the Devil has captured Isabella, and Ricardo must stab Ricardo to free her. He is warned not to allow the "Devil" to speak - just as Sayid was warned not to allow "Locke" to speak when Dogen sent him to stab MIB.

Ricardo is ambushed by Jacob and disarmed. Jacob explains the island and MIB - it's a cross between Pandora's Box and Job 1:6-12 (my observation). MIB is a malevolent force who would vastly multiply the world's evil; the island keeps him bottled up. Jacob and MIB have an ongoing argument; MIB says all humans are corruptible, Jacob supplies an occasional Job to prove him wrong.

Ricardo goes back to MIB, says he's joined Jacob. MIB says he'll welcome him if he changes his mind. He also gives Richard Isabella's cross necklace, found in the wreck. Ricardo buries it, a sort of proxy funeral for her, I guess.

A brief Ilana flashback, set in the crude hospital where they met before, shows Jacob gaining her promise to protect the Candidates.

In the present, Ilana tells her campmates that Jacob told her Richard would know their next move. He's shocked to learn this. He takes off in the jungle, ready to defect to MIB. Before he leaves, Hurley speaks in Spanish with someone unseen. He tells Jack it has "nothing to do with you."

Richard arrives at the place where he buried the cross. He calls out for MIB. Hurley arrives - he was sent by Isabella's ghost. He convinced Richard that they must stop MIB from leaaving the island, or "we all go to Hell." At a distance, MIB watches.

Next week's episode focuses on the Kwons. Will Sun and Jin finally be reunited?

Update: Forgot to mention a critical plot development. At their initial meeting, Jacob offers to grant Ricardo a wish.His first two wishes Jacob cannot grant: the return of dead Isabella, absolution for his sins. The next thing he thinks of: he doesn't ever want to die. Jacob can arrange that.

Update: A question concerning last week's episode just crossed my mind - how did DHARMA discover the sonic-fence defense against the Smoke Monster?

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quote Du Jour

"The harsh fact of the matter is when you’re going to pass legislation that will cover 300 American people in different ways it takes a long time to do the necessary administrative steps that have to be taken to put the legislation together to control the people."

- Representative Charles Dingell


The ObamaCare Numbers Don't Add Up

Former Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Holtz-Eakin explains. Summary: the law will not reduce deficits by $138 billion as claimed, but will raise them by a trillion over the next ten years. READ THE WHOLE THING.

And the years after that? The country's gonna be around for a lot longer than that, in some form.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Technology Advances

Bill Gates and Toshiba are working on nuclear reactor technology.

Will the new reactor display critical warnings on a blue screen?


Sign Of The Times

Over at Transterrestrial Musings, commenter Michael Smith has a list of 159 bits of new bureaucracy created by Obamacare. It gives added meaning to the blue banner in the Flash animation currently featured at the Office of Personnel Management's website - screen capture below:


Monday, March 22, 2010

Obligatory Post On Obamacare's Passage

This was the bonus edition to last year's musical countdown to Obama's inauguration:

We'll know ObamaCare isn't going well when the listing for Gray's Anatomy lists rubbing alcohol and X-acto knives under the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" heading.

Hm, maybe I should concoct an Imperial Start Destroyer variant. But not for the merchandise - George Lucas' minions would pay an unfriendly visit.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Food Item Du Jour

Wish I saw this in time for St. Patrick's Day - Guinness chocolate pudding.

(Link via This Is Why You're Fat)


Lost - We All Live On A Widmore Submarine

(Episode: Recon. Spoilers ahead.)

In the 2004 timeline, James "Sawyer" Ford is a cop (who never assumed that nickname), and "ghost buster" Miles is his partner.

Miles sets him up on a blind date - with Charlotte Lewis. The two go to his place. While he's in the bathroom she searches his dresser drawer, and finds a folder labeled "Sawyer." James catches her and kicks her out. He tries making up to her later, but she sends him away.

Privately he tells James he had tracked his credit card usage - discovered he went to Australia instead of Palm Springs as he had told all his friends. (I suspect the blind date was part of his personal undercover investigation of his partner.) Later, James confesses, handing over the "Sawyer" folder - he's looking for Anthony Cooper, the man whose con provoked the murder-suicide that claimed the lives of his parents.

They are interrupted by a car that slams into the side of James' car. Merely dented, he chases the driver, who goes on foot. He nabs the perp - it's Kate.

On the island, Kate is having it worse. Claire tries to kill her as Sayid watches motionless and uncaring. Fake Locke breaks them up, later tells Kate that he'd been feeding Claire with propaganda that the Others had Aaron, something to "give her something to hold on to." Claire later reconciles with Kate.

Fake Locke also tells Kate about Sawyer's absence. At the beginning of the episode MIB's gang assembles at Claire's camp, where they meet Sawyer and Jin (who, beforehand, both express their knowledge that "Locke" is an impostor). Sawyer and the Man in Black speak alone. MIB reveals he's the Smoke Monster. He sends Sawyer on a recon mission to the small island with the Hydra station.

Sawyer takes an outrigger. He finds a bunch of dead bodies and one purported survivor, Zoe. They're about to take his outrigger back to the main island when Sawyer, tipped off by her remark about the Ajira flight's destination, pulls a gun on her. Men in the bushes pull rifles on Sawyer.

"Take me to your leader," Sawyer says. He's led to the sub where Widmore awaits. Sawyer makes an offer: he'll tell "Locke" the coast is clear, and lead him into whatever trap Widmore sets up so he can kill "Locke." In return, he wants safe passage for whomever he's with, and escape from the island.

Sawyer goes back to the main island, tells MIB everything, including the deal - and the construction of sonic pylons like the ones that kept Smokey away from the Barracks when they were in operation. He tells MIB that they'll act like they're walking into the trap and then surprise Widmore with a sudden change of plan. MIB likes the idea - at least he says he does.

Privately, Sawyer tells Kate his plan. Widmore and MIB will fight it out, and while they're occupied with each other they'll escape the island - on Widmore's sub.

Next week's episode focuses on Richard Alpert. I hope we finally learn his origins. If the "fractured" timeline is a life-without-being-touched-by-Jacob scenario, then Richard would never have gained his immortality. Will we see him in a previous century?

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Harmonic Convergence

Clayton Cramer notes that the Department of Education is shopping for shotguns.

By any chance, does the EDoE need to increase the size of its auto fleet? Via James Taranto, I found this headline: Buy Hummer, Get Free Shotgun.

Maybe those Hummers could be converted into hybrids.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hawaiian Legislature Gives Ammo To Birthers

Fox News reports:

As the state continues to receive e-mails seeking Obama's birth certificate, the state House Judiciary Committee heard a bill Tuesday permitting government officials to ignore people who won't give up.

Wait a minute, in Hawaii you have to pass a law for the government to ignore people? What a concept.

A few of these requesters continue to pepper the Health Department with the same letters seeking the same information, even after they're told state law bars release of a certified birth certificate to anyone who does not have a tangible interest. Responding wastes time and money, Kim said.

All American citizens have a tangible interest in the question.

One legislator sees how this move would backfire:

"Do we really want to be known internationally as the Legislature that blocked any inquiries into where President Obama was born?" asked Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-Kaneohe-Kailua. "When people want to get more information, the way to fuel that fire is to say, 'We're now going to draw down a veil of secrecy."'

There really is an original birth certificate, but you can't see it.

Both Fukino and the state registrar of vital statistics have verified that the Health Department holds Obama's original birth certificate.

Obama's dad is a foreign national. Newspapers have misreported Barry H Obama II as Kenyan-born; birth announcements in Hawaiian newspapers say he's an American. (I never understood why he wouldn't automatically inherit his mom's citizenship.) Most Americans aren't all that familiar with the Certificate of Live Birth - best analogy is a college transcript; not an original document, but legal proof that the person is in the official records.

If the Hawaiian state government wants the birthers to stop pestering them so much, they should put the to put the original birth document on public display. (The newspapers could add microfiche prints of the Obama birth announcements for effect.) We demand certain types of transparency from politicians that we don't demand of anyone else - tax records, for one. On principle, anyone who runs for Prez or gets selected for veep candidate selection, and has a foreign-born parent, should have to fork over extra documentation - for the sake of avoiding appearances of illegality.

I can't stand the birther meme. It gives too much ammo to Obama. They distract attention from the president's war on the economy and other political assaults. I WANT THE BIRTHER MEME TO GO AWAY. I WANT THEIR BEST AMMO - THE EVASIVENESS OF THE HAWAIIAN STATE GOVERNMENT - TO BE NIPPED IN THE BUD.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Generic Movie Trailer

Rand Simberg found another comedy gem. In this comment I imagine what a generic blog might look like.


Parody Du Jour

The original "I'm Just a Bill"

The parody: Schoolhouse Barack (link via Rand).

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Prius Scam?

Michael Fumento and others challenge the story of the runaway Prius. Fumento's analysis is echaustive.


Today's Lesson

What does this mean?

The state of Michigan is currently building a custom social network called the Michigan College Access Portal, at a cost of $1.5 million, to help students looking to transition from high school to college and beyond.

One point five million dollars of public funds. To build a Facebook knock-off.

Answer: it means that a whole lot of Michigan high schools aren't adequately preparing kids for college.

(Link via Samizdata)


Friday, March 12, 2010

These People Should Work For DOJ

JawaReport, Quoth the Raven and the YouTube Smackdown Corps unmasked Jihad Jane.

Michelle Malkin has more.


Two Offerings From Reason

Five Lies About the American Economy

The Myth of the Recovery

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Lost - School Daze

(Episode: Dr. Linus. Spoilers ahead.)

This episode adds to the theory that the "flash-sideways" segments illustrate what the lives of the Losties - and the island's other non-indigenous population - would have been like if they hadn't been manipulated by Jacob. Ben Linus, Ph. D. is a history professor at a Los Angeles-area high school. The first season's Leslie Arzt is one of his coworkers, a science teacher as we remember him. Alex Rousseau is a promising student who he's been tutoring. It's mentioned that Danielle (not seen) works two jobs to support her family; we don't know the status of Mr. Rousseau.

Ben also cares for his ailing father. The two mention their brief stint on the island; Roger Linus voices regret over leaving. Perhaps in this timeline Roger's initial disillusionment with his work, a sort of custodial assignment, had led him to quit DHARMA.

Ben represents the higher ideals of the teaching profession. He wants the school to put pore resources into building young minds. Principal Reynolds (the first major flash-sideways character we haven't seen anywhere else before) doesn't share that view; he just wants to do what will "get by."

Ben learns from Alex that Reylonds had been fooling around with the school nurse on school property. He talks Arzt into hacking emails to see if the two had shared any incriminating correspondence. Arzt finds the evidence. Ben attempts to blackmail Reynolds into resigning and recommending Ben for replacement. Reynolds says he'll torpedo Alex's college aspirations if he goes down; Ben relents. Ben backs down - and in the end Reynolds submits a positive letter of recommendation for Alex.

In the real timeline, Ilana gives to Miles a bag containing Jacob's ashes. She wants the truth abotu Jacob's death - and gets it. When they get to the old Lostie camp, she forces Ben to dig his own grave at gunpoint.

Fake Locke shows up later and gives him the means to escape - he magically disconnects the makeshift shackle Ilana fashioned from airplane parts, and tells him there's a rifle waiting for him in the jungle. Fake Locke leaves, and Ben goes for it.

He gets to the rifle in time to get the drop on Ilana. He then confesses his frustrations with Jacob and his regret that he gambled with Alex's life to protect the power he gained from the island. He plans to go to the Man in Black because MIB is the only person who'll take him. Somehow, Ilana offers to take him into her camp.

Meanwhile, Jack and Hurley head back to the temple. Hurley had been trying to delay Jack's journey, but did not want to mention that his apprehension is rooted in something Jacob said. They meet Richard, who tells them of the temple aftermath, and that he did not see any of the 815 gang among the dead.

Richard has plans of his own - he wants to die. He had been gifted with agelessness by Jacob, who had told him of a special purpose that he would one day reveal - but would not live to reveal. Richard feels his decades (centuries?) on the island have been a waste.

(Perhaps, in a sense, Jacob wasn't lying about telling him some day. He may have wanted Richard to figure out things for himself as he said he wants of Jack.)

The two follow Richard to the Black Rock. Richard finds a stick of dynamite and asks Jack to light a fuse long enough to allow Jack and Hurley time for escape. Accepting Jacob's gift makes it impossible for Richard to kill himself - but others can kill him.

Jack lights a long fuse, and sits down to talk as Hurley scrams. Jack doesn't think the dynamite will go off. Mentioning what he saw in the lighthouse mirror, Jack says Jacob went through a lot of trouble to get Jack to the island, and from the grave will somehow protect his investment. The fuse fizzles just short of the dynamite.

The three find the party at the old Lostie camp. Before they arrive, Ilana says to Sun that she will help her find Jin. Ilana knows that Kwan is among the names of the six candidates to replace Jacob. Recall the names and their associated numbers:

15 - FORD
42 - KWON
51 - AUSTEN (seen at the lighthouse)

Note that the name Littleton (#313) is crossed out, but Jarrah isn't. Sayid still a canddiate? Or has that been forfeited, and Ilana counts both Kwons separately?

On another note...I have considered an utterly dreadful possibility. Jack will finally get the chance to ask Jacob (or his replacement) for a wish. He will wish that Jacob had left everybody on the island alone - and the flash-sideways are showing us that wish fulfilled.

If yer 401Ks are flexible enough, put it all on ibuprofen.

Update: I forgot to mention the final-seconds plot twist - Widmore's found the island by sub! What will the death of Jacob do to his plans? How much does he (or ANYBODY, for that matter0 really know about Jacob and his Locke-impersonating nemesis?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Another Controversial Obama Nomination

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny has been nominated to serve on the Court of Appeals. Some Republicans say he's exceedingly soft on certain parties guilty of sexual assault.

What would you get if you crossed him with Martha Coakley, who's famous for railroading people falsely charged with sexual assault? Would that be like mixing matter with antimatter?

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“But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it" - Nancy Pelosi

No, it's not The Onion or Scott Ott - she really said that! She documents the remark on her own website!!

(Link via SayAnythingBlog)

Where's that transparency we were promised? Oh yeah, YouTube is providing it.


Monday, March 08, 2010

SNL Skit Quote

"But come on - does anyone seriously think Nancy Pelosi can lose in her San Francisco district? A place where Republican candidates often finish fourth behind professional dominatrixes...and homeless people?"

Glenn Reynolds has the video here.

Obviously the San francisco GOP needs to recruit a homeless dominatrix to run for Pelosi's seat.

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The 82nd Annual Academy Awards

What did I miss?


One Problem With Associating John Patrick Bedell's Attack With The Right

The scene of the crime was the Pentagon. Someone who attacks an institution revered by the Right is motivated by something other than right-wing politics. If a lefty were to shoot up some lefty bastion, I'd suspect motive to be something other than lefty politics.

Bedell opposed the Iraq War. He attacked the Pentagon. he had more in common with Cindy Sheehan than the Tea Parties.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Did You Know About Schedule M?

A friend of mine once said to me that oppression through government taxation occurs two ways: through sheer dollar value (or whatever currency you live under), and through complexity.

The latter manifests itself in different ways. Complexity causes some to fill out their forms wrong and make costly mistakes. Some tax credits require complex steps to claim; the complexity discourages some from going through the hassle. (The student interest loan deduction, for example, takes nine steps to calculate.) Some tax credits are hidden from sight.

Which brings me to Line 63 of the 1040 long form:

Making work pay and government retiree credits. Attach Schedule M

What the heckity heck is that?

The IRS has a webpage devoted to this credit:

In 2009 and 2010, the Making Work Pay provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide a refundable tax credit of up to $400 for working individuals and up to $800 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.

This tax credit will be calculated at a rate of 6.2 percent of earned income and will phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income in excess of $75,000, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly.

Any stimulus check you may have gotten last year gets subtracted from the MWP credit.

Schedule M form is here, instructions here.

I have not submitted my 1040 - just did the preliminary math - so I can still claim it.

If you submitted your 1040 without claiming the Line 63 credit, you might try calling the IRS hotline at 800-829-1040 to see if you have any recourse to claim the credit nobody told you about. Can't make any promises, but it's worth a shot.

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Friday, March 05, 2010

Breaking News From 1865

Massa To Resign - National Journal

Can you imagine someone with the name Massa running for office as a Republican? It would be a dream come true for the Republicans-are-racist bigots.

If Eric Massa were into bipartisanship, he would have hit on Larry Craig instead of (allegedly) one of his subordinates.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lost - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes Temple

(Episode: Sundown. Spoilers ahead.)

In the fractured timeline, Nadia has married Sayid's brother Omer, and they have two children. Sayid still loves her but, feeling guilt over his career as a torturer for the Iraqi Republican Guard, he felt that he didn't deserve her.

Omer owes a debt to a loan shark. Sayid doesn't get involved - until his brother winds up in the hospital, and the loan shark's goons pick up Sayid the next day. The shark is Martin Keamy, who in the real timeline was the commando leader who, among other things, murdered Alex Rousseau.

Keamy and the goons meet in a restaurant kitchen. After a little banter spiced with veiled threats, Sayid gets the jump on them - grabbing one goon's gun, using him to absorbn the other goon's bullet while firing back. Keamy begs for mercy, but Sayid shoots him dead. He then hears banging in the freezer, and finds someone else who got on Keamy's bad side - Jin Kwon. Keamy is either associated with Paik's organization, or an enemy of it.

Blogger just erased everythign following this point. I'm steamed. Read the Wikipedia article, or read Lostpedia for the island chain of events. I'm not typing five paragraphs all over again.

I'll just sty this: where'd Jin go? We last saw him at Claire's camp.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Rick Perry Wins The Texas GOP Primary

Story here.

I didn't bother to vote. Perry was the megalomaniac who concocted the Trans-Texas Corridor, and Hutchison is addicted to pork.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Obama Raised Taxes On The Lower Middle Class

That's what I see on my own 1040, anyway. I usually get a refund over $200.00. This year's refund is $10.11.


Should American Politicians Emulate This Guy?

Laura Ingraham has a new hero - European MEP Nigel Farage. She played this on her show last night.

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