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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Pickett’s Vote

From what I hear, the righties are giddy and frothing about their predicted victories tomorrow. I understand that this is the moment for enthusiasm to peak, riding the emotion to help carry all the voters to their polling places. But it strikes me as a perfect example of a flawed political system.

We’re rooting for teams, not ideas. And certainly not policy. Sure, there is value in doing something—anything—to inhibit the lefty steamroller. I think many of the people going to vote righty or TEA Party tomorrow genuinely believe they can stop the national collapse.

I say the battle is already lost. The righties are gearing up for their version of Pickett’s Charge:

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Scare Tactics

Halloween still offers plenty of scares—and not just doughy women who really can’t pull off their trampy costumes. But we’re not scaring the kids so much anymore. It has become a day to frighten parents:

When courts or cops set up a free x-ray station for kids' candy, they send the message that we should really be worried about foreign objects in the loot.

And It Still Sounds Like Crap

Back in the 70s before surround sound and iPods, Steve Martin had a comedy routine about a stereo system. It was more than quadrophonic, it was googlephonic. But the sound was still lacking. So he replaced the diamond needle on his turntable with a moon rock needle.

Uncompromising audiophiles like Martin now have the ultimate cable to connect their components, the Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable. It’s five feet of copper wire for $2,500.

But how does it sound?

Amazon has 400 reviews posted. They’re pretty funny.

H/T: Borepatch

Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition

There’s been some chatter about the separation of church and state. Christine O’Donnell was correct; the doctrine does not appear in the Constitution. And perhaps the best evidence against those who argue it’s there but you can’t see it is the fact that Congress still opens its sessions with a prayer.

But let’s pretend the students at the Widener Law School and the revisionists who preach that the separation is one of the highest the laws of the land are correct. Assume church and state are distinct spheres which must not overlap.

Then the simplest answer to contain and control expansive government is to expand the territory of religion. When church and state both claim to control some area of our culture and activities, the Constitution says religion wins. It says, “Congress shall make no law…”

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The Economics of Seinfeld

I think I will never tire of Seinfeld reruns. So I am delighted to discover a collection of Seinfeld clips which illustrate concepts in economics: Yadayadayadaecon.com.

There are seven pages of clips. It’s hard to pick favorites, but here’s a few to give you a taste.

The Soup Nazi shows monopoly power and barriers to entry.

The Soup Nazi makes delicious soup—so good there's always a line outside his shop. He refuses service to Elaine, and by a stroke of luck she comes across his stash of soup recipes. She visits his shop and informs him that his soup monopoly is broken, while waving his recipes in his face. Also in this clip, George gets charged $2 for a roll that everyone else gets for free. This example of price discrimination shows that in order to charge different customers different prices, you must have market power.

All Aboard Amtrak

Setting aside the politics and much of the economic silliness that comes with politics, does rail service offer anything to compete with air travel? This guy took a train and liked it:

Everyone we met, from trainmen, conductors, and attendants to counter clerks, security personnel, and our fellow passengers were, if not downright happy, at minimum in a good mood. Unlike the aggravated, anxious, aggressively rude misanthropes at the airport, from packed waiting rooms to the exclusive waiting rooms to the sightseeing car, people were polite, relaxed, and smiling. The security matched that of the airport—without the striptease: the ticket clerk asked for a photo ID.

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A Matter of Character

I came across a couple of leftoid videos today. Separately, they were kind of funny. Together, it suggests there will be trouble after the election.

In the first, a parade of clichés establishes that anyone resistant to the progressive agenda is heartless or stupid:

And in the second, we see how our enlightened guardians would prefer to handle dissent:

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The Root of the Crime Problem

This reflection on the crime problem in New Orleans is relevant to Minneapolis. At least some parts, anyway. And probably to a neighborhood near you.

A terrible, horrible crime occurs. The city gets up in arms. March on City Hall. Demand change. We're mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore! Editorials bray against the madness. Politicians bloviate. Time passes. Nothing changes.

When — and how — do we really change? When do we stop frantically looking for answers under the same sofa cushions we've looked under hundreds of times before? Schools. Playgrounds. Jobs.

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Unplanned Obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is an concept most notoriously associated with American autos from the 1950s:

GM chief designer Harley Earl implemented his "planned obsolescence" scheme that changed car body styles every three to five years to induce the public to buy a new model.

Earl's marketing plan affected the design of rear tail fins on cars, which were modest in early 1950s Cadillacs, but grew larger and more flamboyant by the time 1959 Cadillacs debuted.

A Brown Man in a Black Box

Cobb makes a general cultural distinction that I’ve been applying to Obama for several years:

I know my kids ain't black. And when it comes to their adulthood, they won't need to be. They're brown - like the zillions in Africa, India and South and Central America. That's a good enough sample, and it's only skin color. They can't be black like me because my blackness was born of the times, not an essential, inescapable box, but a response to a condition. But so much of who I am is locked into that alternatively golden and grim experience.

The times and conditions Cobb refers to I think are well-illustrated in the beginning pages of Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets. The author—who looks brown due to South Asian heritage—meets a gang leader in the stairwell of a Chicago housing project:

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Add a Trip to My Wish List

A train from Moscow, first since 1914, arrived in the French resort city of Nice on Saturday evening, covering the distance of 3,177 kilometers (1,974 miles) in about 52 hours.

The train, which departed from Moscow's Belorussky rail terminal every Thursday afternoon, crossed the territories of five states.

The once-in-a-week train makes stops at Smolensk in western Russia, Minsk and Brest in Belarus, Warsaw in Poland, Vienna and Innsbruck in Austria and at Italian cities of Milano, Genoa and San-Remo and arrives to Nice on Saturday evening.

Prices for a one-way ticket range from 1,050 euro ($1,416) for a luxury compartment to 306 euro ($413) for a second-class carriage.

Russia launched trains to Nice from then Russian capital St. Petersburg in 1864, but the service was halted in 1914.

H/T: Maggie’s Farm

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Don Quixote’s Economics

The world’s largest windfarm has just opened in the U.K. For all the tingles this must give to greenies and various other anti-human factions, in economic terms, it is tilting at windmills:

[taking] courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.

An article in the U.K. Telegraph lays out the silliness hidden behind this particular mega-project:

Not for Enormous Destruction — But for Enormous Pleasure

It’s 1946, the Krauts and the Nips have surrendered, and you’re out enjoying civilian life with your best gal. You stop into the arcade to play a few games. First a little pinball, and then maybe nuke a few cities:

Player view of Atomic Bomber arcade game

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Jeanne d’Alaska

If Progressives want to know what Sarah Palin feels like to the Right, the answer is Erin Brockovich.

Quoted from: Cobb

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Veto Power for the States

I was taught that the U.S. Consitution provides a system of checks and balances for the three branches of government. Congress can have its laws repealed by the Judiciary, and the Executive can be denied funding by the Congress, just for a couple of top-of-my-head examples.

The system may still be in the text, but the branches of government have decided they can interpret the Constitution as they desire. The system depends on a somewhat adversarial relationship between the branches. If all three are in basic agreement, Federal power is not checked and the whole structure goes out of balance.

And it really doesn’t matter that different political parties and factions have more weight in different branches. They’ll surely find things to argue about, but in a broader view all the big factions have a vested interest in bigger government. Constitutional limits are not vigorously enforced.

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More Turbulence for Air Travelers

I could blame bin Laden for this, but really it is the government’s failure to craft a better system:

From the American Airlines Web page:

As a result of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) mandate, beginning November 1, all passengers will be required to have Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) in their reservation at least 72 hours prior to departure. This is the next phase in a program that was initiated by the TSA in 2009. 

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Everything’s Coming Up Milhous

Tam’s watching reruns:

So the gaffe-prone alpha male Texan with a controversial service record, view of the government as benevolent rescuer at home, and an aggressive foreign policy is out, and has been replaced with the skinny, cigarette-smoking, paranoid political apparatchik who promised us peace with honor and is obsessed with the enemies out to destroy him.

Next time we recast this series, the writers will probably eliminate the cigarettes. And that is the only part I like.

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Tokyo Super Ambient Discotheque

Only the dead stand still. Where are you headed?

Attacking Ourselves Instead of Defending Each Other

Last week’s peaking hullabaloo over the Koranflagration and the Hamasque prompted Maxed Out Mama to step outside of her usual economic territory:

[B]y making, quite literally, a federal case of it, they have all conveyed the global message that rioting, burning, stabbing and any other type of barbaric Islamic behavior justify the suspension of the US Constitution when it comes to Muslims. In short, very prominent members of our executive are attempting to, de facto, suspend the constitution in such a way that it must inevitably have given the greatest surge of joy to violent Islamic factions since 9/11.

In 2003, Osama bin Laden wrote:

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