Just What I See

Technology allows our culture to document itself. Some elevate that opportunity to the level of art:

Just What I See features the iPhone Street Photography of Greg Schmigel.

Why the iPhone?

I believe that about 90% of photography is about what the photographer sees. The choice of camera makes up for the rest. My iPhone just happens to be the camera that's always with me.

Woman standing in front of shop window mannequins

Vote Now or This Fetus Gets Whacked

A pregnant couple from the suburban Twin Cities is putting a question to the internets: Birth or Not?

The abortion issue has been a controversial topic for decades that reaches to the core of every person in America. Often voters will even base their entire choice on this one topic alone, disregarding everything else the politician has to offer in the vain hope that their “chosen one” will be able to effect change on this issue.

We all like to think that our opinions matter, but so often there is no effective outlet for our beliefs to change lives. While most people have a definite opinion about abortion and take a stance as being either “Pro-Life” or “Pro-choice”, very few have an opportunity to do more than voice their concern to their elected representative. The concerns that we voice to those around us don’t seem to change the status-quo. Unless you are put into the position of having to make this decision in a setting that actually makes a difference, the debate does not affect anything.

Voting is such an integral part of the American identity. We vote on everything. We vote on things ranging from the best singer on American Idol to who the next leader of the free world will be. Wouldn’t it be nice to voice your opinion and have it actually make a difference in the real world? Why not vote on whether to continue or abort an actual pregnancy? Your vote can help a real couple to make a decision on this issue. 

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Bone Voyage!

As another indication of the bounty of our society, I direct your attention to Pet Airways:

We always knew Zoe, our Jack Russell Terrier, was smart, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that we realized she's also a brilliant entrepreneur. After all, it was Zoe who gave us the idea for Pet Airways.

With Zoe as part of our family, planning vacations was always a little more complicated. Visiting out-of-state friends or relatives required sophisticated logistics. Weekend getaways always had to be close to home.

It wasn't Zoe's fault of course. It was the airlines'. There was simply no safe way for Zoe to comfortably fly with us. She's not a big dog. Just a little one. But a little too big to fit under the seat.

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Blessed

Robin of Berkeley, a political changer from lefty to righty, reflects on her first Thanksgiving:

Being a Leftist means honing in on every possible injustice. Never-ending gripes and grievances are the glue that keeps progressives cemented together.

But then, three years ago, the bottom fell out of my life. Slowly but surely, it dawned on me that everything I had held as sacrosanct was a lie. I woke up -- and now I behold the world with fresh eyes. Consequently, I am celebrating my First Thankful Thanksgiving.

Instead of laser-focusing on every unfairness, I am now moved by life's bounty. I finally see my great fortune in being born in this country, in this moment in time. Although I used to lambaste the United States and everything it stood for, I realize that I was like a spoiled child -- ungrateful, mean-spirited.

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Nexus of Yuk

The 2010 edition of the Minnesota Vikings have failed. Today’s debacle was pathetic. The defensive secondary might as well have been waving checkered flags at the Packer receivers.

Favre might still have enough ability to play in the NFL, but he would have to work for the full season. Coming in late meant he was never in sync with the team. The defensive line did not live up to the hype. I didn’t share the faith in the promise of Sidney Rice as a savior for the receiving corps. He had one good year, which proves nothing much. And don’t get me started on the lousy decisions of the head coach…

At least Adrian Peterson has cured his fumble problem. Watching him play is still a treat.

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Profitable Policy

Dinocrat has a good explanation of how U.S. trade and tax policies have worked to drive manufacturing and employment to foreign lands. Like so many issues, rhetorical framing makes it difficult to have a genuinely curious discussion.

One of the first points to get past is a notion that foreign governments are scheming and evil. Some may be, but in the general case of trade, they’re just making more effective policy choices. It isn’t that the foreigners are malicious, but that the United States is stupid.

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SWPL Radio

Public radio annoys me. It is a bastion of the kind of self-satisfied smugness that I see in most of my lefty neighbors. It is a church of superficial diversity that excommunicates anyone (see Juan Williams) for the sin of Differing Opinion.

Thus, I enjoyed this take-down of NPR:

“NPR doesn’t get a lot of public money.” This endlessly repeated assertion is apparently so important that it appears on NPR’s own website, where it features prominently in the ombudsman’s frequently asked questions page. “NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government,” the network states. This begs the question, of course, of why — if the public money it receives is so minor — NPR and its defenders fight so ferociously to retain it.

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It’s Not the Train’s Fault

As a rail fan, I was pleased that Hollywood was made a movie about a train: Unstoppable. The trailers make it look like an action picture, and that curbed my enthusiasm. I prefer actual acting and cinematography to special effects. But every so often I can look past the explosions and enjoy the rest of it. So I planned on making one of my rare ventures into the world of first-run film for Unstoppable.

Not anymore:

True to the title, the train is unstoppable. It defies its brakes, it blasts through an RV, it flips over several police cars, it flips a train in front of it which then explodes with the blast of the Manhattan Project, ignores a SWAT team shooting assault rifles at it (really) and not only rides right over the Automatic Derailers, it shoots them off the tracks where they take out some more police cars.

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One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer

MaxedOutMama is waving the white flag. If the 2008 recession actually flipped into an economic expansion, it’s over:

As far as your blogging host (hereby named Our Lady of Stupid Data Fitting) can tell, we are actually in a contraction right now. Admittedly, early in a contraction, but you know, contracting.

I follow MOM for her macro-scale analysis. She turned me on to WIET, for example, as an alternate measure of employment that is harder for officials to meddle with.

But I have had some doubts about her recent optimism that the recession was over. It seemed like she was relying too much on the kind of statistics that can be gamed by bureaucrats trying to paint a rosy picture of the U.S. economy.

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Play Poker, Not Roulette

The rhetoric about profiling as a means to inhibit terrorists assumes what I’ll call biographic profiling. The knee-jerk opponents to profiling like to charge “Racism!” or “Fill-in-the-blank-ophobia!” when it is suggested that there are visual clues about who might deserve more scrutiny. And the knee-jerk reaction to the first jerks is to accept those terms. “Fine! Call me a racist, but why are we groping grannies when zero grannies have exploded airliners?”

They’re both missing the point. Their notion of profiling seems based in some kind of TV-influenced detective drama. Serial killers, for example, show many similar biographical traits. By examining evidence at a crime scene, the profiler can make educated guesses about who they’re looking for.

But all that kind of evidence is static. Biography is history. Like skin tone, the past is beyond anyone’s control.

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One Good Reason to Get Rich

Penn Gillette (of Penn & Teller) had an encounter with a TSA screener last week. The screener touched Penn in his swimsuit area without first giving notice. Penn properly recognized this as assault, and filed a complaint with the local police.

As the events played out, and several TSA supervisors insisted to Penn and the cop that, “We have no problem with you, you're free to go,” Penn kept pressing the issue.

He made it clear that it was not sexual, that he was not harmed, but it was still a violation of the law to be touched without first being warned. There was mention of lawyers and such.

The reason Penn offered for pressing a seemingly trivial point:

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Look It Up

The Oxford Dictionary people have made Sarah Palin’s neologism*, “refudiate”, the Word of the Year. By my count, that’s one more than the current President has accomplished. But Barry is still up 1–0 in Peace Prizes.

The Oxford experts hold that Palin means what she says:

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used 'refudiate,' we have concluded that neither 'refute' nor 'repudiate' seems consistently precise, and that 'refudiate' more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of 'reject.'

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Security Theater—Now with more Audience Participation!

Cartoon of TSA agents preparing to grope little boy

Borepatch argues that the TSA has not just an impossible job, but also has incentives that lead them to do the worst possible job:

Consider their metrics.  How would you measure success?  Quite frankly, there's no plausible metric here - to my knowledge, TSA has never caught a terrorist in the act. Sure, terrorists have been caught in the act (the shoe bomber, the Christmas bomber), but none of these were caught by TSA. The Christmas bomber was caught by an alert airline checkin employee; the show bomber was caught by passengers on the plane.

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I’m Not the Only One

Dr. Sanity writes new lyrics for John Lennon’s hippie anthem:

Imagine no Progressives
It's easy if you try
No victimhood or nannies
No truth you can deny
Imagine people taking
Re-spon-si-bil-ity

Imagine no Obama
It isn't hard to do
No Harry or Pelosi
Just people with a clue
Imagine life without them
To tell us what to do

You may say that I'm a "racist"
'Cause I disagree with you;
But there's this thing they call projection
And it sticks to you like glue

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The Human Network

Cobb thinks about computers and the future:

First off, the fundamental thing that IT gives is the ability to overcome time and distance. It enables human intercommunications on levels never achieved in the history of mankind. In and of itself, this is an economy pulled out of a hat. Without disintermediating planes, trains and automobiles, there are new ways that people interact that make IT a non-zero sum game. Look at a movie from the 80s and find all of the plot holes and crazy situations that could have been obviated by today's cell phone networks and GPS.

Transportation is essentially the most physical form of communication. Communication is required for people to negotiate and cooperate. And more cooperation leads to greater prosperity.

Poppies

Why are they selling poppies, mother? Selling poppies in town today?
The poppy, my child, is the flower of love for the men, who marched away.

Why did they choose a poppy, mother? Why not a beautiful rose?
Because, my child, men fought and died in the fields, where the poppy grows.

But why is the poppy so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child, the blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black mother. Why does it have to be black?
Black is the symbol of grief, my child, for the men, who never came back.

But why, mother dear, are you crying so? Your tears are like winter rain.
My tears are my fears for you, my child, for the world is forgetting again.

—John F. Willcocks

It Doesn’t Add Up

Stopping along the intertracks in the days since the big election, I’ve noticed a spreading meme. Progressives, Democrats and lefties are being described as innumerate:

marked by an ignorance of mathematics and the scientific approach

This is not a new development decay in Prog theory. They’ve never been able to do math. Arithmetic dispels unicorns. But now more people seem to be recognizing that the era of make-believe budgeting will be brought to an ugly conclusion by the new righty majority:

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Huh?

I’ve been listening to lefty radio semi-regularly for a couple of months. It’s quite a paranoid party they have going on. And the election this week has them really off the rails. I find the endless carping about corporations [shiver!] kind of amusing. And god bless them, I know their hearts are even in the right place sometimes.

But this afternoon I heard a couple of assertions that put the joke to the claim that they’re the reality-based community.

  • Barack Obama is not a Progressive. He’s a moderate, centrist Democrat.
  • In the 1950s, Obama would have been a Republican.

Wow. Just wow.

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Segregationist Colleges

Embracing MLK’s dream would require putting character and achievement above subculture and skin color. But those most opposed to adjusting their value hierarchy tend to look a lot like the folks Dr. King was dreaming for. Freed from legal segregation, they cling to voluntary segregation. We’re a half-century from Little Rock, but Historically Black Colleges and Universities are given protected and revered status. It doesn’t make sense:

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Bionic Eyes

Technology can now restore sight to people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa:

The device, called a sub-retinal implant, contains some 1,500 light sensors and sits underneath the retina. It works by directly replacing light receptors that are lost as a result of the disease. After the light detection stage, it uses the eye's natural image-processing functions to produce a stable visual image.

"It proves the concept that in a patient who has been blind for many years and is unable to see anything, the optic nerves can be re-awakened for them to be able to see again," MacLaren, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters.

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