Us and them

Bill Quick makes the salient point about Them:

The basic analysis has to be that, despite cosmetic differences, the left and the right at all levels of politics and governance in the United States are, first and foremost, members of a ruling class, and regard maintaining their perks, privileges, powers, and status in that ruling class as being of primary importance to them. The only thing members can always agree on is defending themselves and each other from assaults on the ruling class.

This is a recipe for tyranny, corruption, and fiscal collapse, all of which we see in full play in these dangerous and degraded times.

And when you’re plunging off the cliff, accelerating at 32 feet per second per second, it’s disheartening in the extreme to realize that even if all of present-day Washington were dispatched to Sheol, the replacements — or at least, those who have manifested a desire to assume that role — are unlikely to slow us down to any better than 29.5.

Still, Stein’s Law prevails: something that can’t go on forever, won’t. The only question is whether we stop at the bottom, or somewhere above.

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And you’re so old

Last Wednesday, Paul Anka brought his road show to Warsaw, to make up for a concert appearance that had been canceled earlier.

How much earlier? Forty-eight years earlier:

Anka was about to finish his 1963 tour of Poland with a concert in Warsaw when it was learned that [John F.] Kennedy had been assassinated in Dallas. Anka could not perform on the evening of Nov. 22 and apologized to his Polish fans who had gathered in the Warsaw theatre for his concert: “I would beg for their assistance in making me feel that I will be doing no injustice to them and please, I’d like to say good night to them.”

Anka, now 70, will be back on this side of the pond later this week; he has US and Canadian shows planned for December.

(Title, of course, is from the first line of “Diana.”)

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Heavy Medicare thunder

I suppose I should be bothered by this:

The title was swiped from Rich Appel, who notes:

I’m sure everyone who was involved with “Born to Be Wild” isn’t laughing or shaking their head, because, well, Blue Cross is putting money in their pockets. Surely nothing to be scoffed at in this era, regardless of one’s convictions. The thought was probably, if Blue Cross wants to use the song, more power to them.

But it really compromises everything “Born to Be Wild” has ever stood for. You think?

I dunno. I figure if a song can survive being on the soundtrack of Herbie: Fully Loaded (in an energetic performance by The Mooney Suzuki), it can survive even this.

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Scrutinizing a fatter auto-insurance bill

I managed to go two years without a premium increase, and I figured that this happy situation couldn’t last. It didn’t. On the other hand, the actual bump is less than four percent — the insurance provider on my house should learn from this — and as is my wont, I’m providing a breakdown:

  • Liability (injury): up $14.60.
  • Liability (property): up $4.10.
  • Uninsured motorists: up $4.10.
  • Comprehensive: up $0.50.
  • Collision: down $11.10.
  • Road service: up $5.00.
  • Rental reimbursement: up $6.70.

Available discounts were increased by a buck. Total coverages remain unchanged.

If the next question is “Why are you carrying collision on an 11-year-old car on which you owe no money?” the answer is simply that if this thing gets banged up beyond repair, I’ll need the proceeds for a down payment on the next ride. And dropping it would save me less than $20 a month.

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We’ve had this recipe before

It was established long ago that Steve Lackmeyer’s favorite song is not Jimmy Webb’s Los Angeles epic “MacArthur Park,” as evidenced by this departure from his usual subject matter in order to bash one version thereof.

He was clearly not anticipating this response from the estimable GenghisKDuck on its applicability to Oklahoma City:

This would be an excellent name/theme song for the new park that’s going to be somewhere downtown there. I can see this all coming together. It’s like a subliminal park thing that was just kind of floating around that you probably weren’t aware of. A kind of visionary thing that hadn’t really gelled.

Think of it as a sideways method of honoring Jimmy Webb, who hails from these parts: he was born in Elk City. And while it’s not my favorite Webb song — for purely personal reasons, this is — the only real objection I can make to bestowing the MacArthur name on the new downtown park is to point out the fact that MacArthur Boulevard doesn’t come within six miles of it. Then again, anyone who’s figured out that Park Avenue and Park Place are a mile apart can presumably deal with that.

So far, Steve seems to be taking it well.

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Yours, mine, and hours

At the end of DST in 2006, I was evidently hard up for material, and posted the length of time it took to reset every clock on the premises. Worse than all the others put together was the clock in the car: five minutes, forty-five seconds to drag the hands back sixty (actually, by then, more like 54) minutes.

I discovered later — next spring, to be exact — that had I simply turned the little plastic knoblet and held it in position for three seconds, the hands would take off running, so to speak, adjusting an hour’s worth in less than thirty seconds. The manual is insufficiently clear on this matter, perhaps because it’s not a safety issue (unless you’re trying to set the clock in traffic) and therefore there was no effort to explain things in LARGE BOLD ITALIC TYPE.

But this car is now eleven years old. For about twice the price, adjusted for inflation, today’s Jaguar does it differently:

As is au courant in luxury cars, there’s an analog clock in the center of the dash that’s supposed to remind us of expensive wrist watches. Perhaps ironically, the analog clock is set digitally through the touch screen. Press “set” and the hands start spinning to the correct time.

Then again, Jaguar’s been doing virtual gauges (on a TFT screen) for a few years now, so I have to assume that this is an interim step before going Totally Fake Analog.

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Inseams to me

Clearly this is a heinous form of discrimination:

What I’m sputtering about is the lack of different inseam lengths in women’s pants. Men get a choice. At Atwoods, one of the better stores for jeans selection, I personally have seen men’s jeans with inseam lengths from 26 to 38 inches in waist sizes from 28 inches all the way up to “OMG! I didn’t know elephants wear pants!” Some of those sizes might not be common but the point is, if you guys need pants with a 50 inch waist and a 30 inch inseam or with a 30 inch waist and a 38 inch inseam, they do exist.

Dave Barry, as it happens, knew this all along:

A man will try on a pair of pants, and if the pants are too small, he’ll try on a larger pair, and when he finds a pair that fits, he buys them. Most men do not spend a lot of time fretting about the size of their pants. Many men wear jeans with the size printed right on the back label so that if you’re standing behind a man in a supermarket line, you can read his waist and inseam size. A man could have, say, a 52-inch waist and a 30-inch inseam, and his label will proudly display that information, which is basically the same thing as having a sign that says: “Howdy! My butt is the size of a FedEx truck!”

It occurs to me that if his butt were the size of a FedEx truck, you wouldn’t need a label to tell you so.

On the other, um, hand, none of us guys wear a size -2.

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Expiration date

At least, with a can of pork and beans, you can read it right there on the lid.

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Not actually recorded on police tape

It’s Friday, after all, and this is the new Rebecca Black single, which was released, like all proper pop records these days, on Tuesday:

Groundbreaking it is not. That buzzy synth noise is right out of “Friday,” although I appreciated the almost-power-pop guitar. (Which may also have been a synth, but what the hey.) This could almost have been an Avril Lavigne song, except that Avril would have insisted on being in your face the whole time: she’s almost always singing at top volume. And Avril, now twenty-one, might have choked on that line about “There’s a chalk line on the dance floor / In the shape of my heart”; you probably have to be fourteen (or me) to appreciate that. And there’s the Justin Bieber lookalike who plays the P. of I., which might be just a bit much. Still, a worthy effort, and I clanged down my 99 cents with enthusiasm.

I admit to having had a peripheral frustration here: I couldn’t find any actual credits on the Web. “Surely somebody wrote this, and somebody else directed the video,” I reasoned. Through Thursday — yesterday was Thursday, you’ll remember — all I’d found was the standard legalese: “℗ 2011 RB Friday, Inc.” (Obviously Rebecca knows on which day of the week her bread is buttered.) I left a message for her manager, who was kind enough to reveal the details: “Person of Interest” was written by Rebecca Black, Charlton Pettus and Wendy Page — Pettus had also produced “My Moment” — and Mazik directed the video, shot right there in Orange County.

The war on “haters,” first undertaken in “My Moment,” has picked up an unexpected ally: CNN’s Anderson Cooper, who added “all of Rebecca Black’s critics” to his ongoing RidicuList.

As for that promised album — well, someday. I can wait. Consider it an Item of Interest.

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Quote of the week

While others snark about how Penn State might as well rename itself “State Pen,” Jennifer tries to figure out the mindset of the students who rioted after Joe Paterno was sent packing, and comes up with this:

I of course do not approve of raping children or the coverup of same, no no no, but still think it’s a goddamned shame the school has to lose all that sweet football money and important athletic prestige just because some tattletale couldn’t keep his damned mouth shut. Not that I’m saying the rape of children is a good thing, mind you, unless a TSA agent does it for national security reasons which obviously was NOT a mitigating factor here, but there is a LOT of money at stake here, y’know, and alumni football fans to keep happy, and idealistic-purity arguments about not corrupting education or the law with the protection of athletic programs tend to be dreadfully ignorant of how the real world works, y’know?

Incidentally, the phrase “Mount Nittany” contains no verb.

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Drain to be circled

The great financial global unwinding, says Ann Barnhardt, is upon us at last:

Everything changed just a few short weeks ago. A firm, led by a crony of the Obama regime, stole all of the non-margined cash held by customers of his firm. Let’s not sugar-coat this or make this crime seem “complex” and “abstract” by drowning ourselves in six-dollar words and uber-technical jargon. Jon Corzine STOLE the customer cash at MF Global. Knowing Jon Corzine, and knowing the abject lawlessness and contempt for humanity of the Marxist Obama regime and its cronies, this is not really a surprise. What was a surprise was the reaction of the exchanges and regulators. Their reaction has been to take a bad situation and make it orders of magnitude worse. Specifically, they froze customers out of their accounts WHILE THE MARKETS CONTINUED TO TRADE, refusing to even allow them to liquidate. This is unfathomable. The risk exposure precedent that has been set is completely intolerable and has destroyed the entire industry paradigm. No informed person can continue to engage these markets, and no moral person can continue to broker or facilitate customer engagement in what is now a massive game of Russian Roulette.

I have learned over the last week that MF Global is almost certainly the mere tip of the iceberg. There is massive industry-wide exposure to European sovereign junk debt. While other firms may not be as heavily leveraged as Corzine had MFG leveraged, and it is now thought that MFG’s leverage may have been in excess of 100:1, they are still suicidally leveraged and will likely stand massive, unmeetable collateral calls in the coming days and weeks as Europe inevitably collapses. I now suspect that the reason the Chicago Mercantile Exchange did not immediately step in to backstop the MFG implosion was because they knew and know that if they backstopped MFG, they would then be expected to backstop all of the other firms in the system when the failures began to cascade — and there simply isn’t that much money in the entire system. In short, the problem is a SYSTEMIC problem, not merely isolated to one firm.

Barnhardt has shut down her own brokerage until further notice, and the likelihood of such a notice is slim indeed:

I will not, under any circumstance, consider reforming and re-opening Barnhardt Capital Management, or any other iteration of a brokerage business, until Barack Obama has been removed from office AND the government of the United States has been sufficiently reformed and repopulated so as to engender my total and complete confidence in the government, its adherence to and enforcement of the rule of law, and in its competent and just regulatory oversight of any commodities markets that may reform. So long as the government remains criminal, it would serve no purpose whatsoever to attempt to rebuild the futures industry or my firm, because in a lawless environment, the same thievery and fraud would simply happen again, and the criminals would go unpunished, sheltered by the criminal oligarchy.

That AND is pivotal, since every four years we go through a routine best described as “Meet the new crooks, same as the old crooks.” If you would buy futures contracts in this environment, I suggest feathers. And tar, if it’s still permitted by the EPA.

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Now that’s extended range

Last year, General Motors gave Jay Leno one of the very first Chevrolet Volts. (Like he doesn’t have enough cars already.) They were thoughtful enough to turn it over to him with a full (9.3 gallons) tank of gas — which, says Leno, he hasn’t used up yet in over ten thousand miles:

“It’s my daily driver,” he said. “It really is. I commute in it to work every day. My commute, and all my other daily running around, totals less than 35 miles.”

Chevrolet claims that the Volt can travel about 40 miles on electric power alone, under normal driving conditions, before the juice in the batteries would be depleted, after which the car’s small gasoline engine would provide added range.

“You get 40 miles free, as they say,” Mr. Leno said. “Because of the way I drive it, it almost never kicks into gasoline mode.”

Which is a good thing, because the Volt requires premium. Then again, Jay Leno can probably afford it.

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Busy woman, busier voice

The lady with the guitar is Ashleigh Ball:

Ashleigh Ball

She’s out front of the Vancouver-based indie band Hey Ocean!, seen here in a stripped-down version of “The Beatboxer Who Broke My Heart”:

This is not the version which appeared on their 2008 album Stop Looking Like Music. Then again, the last time I heard her voice, I was looking at something like this:

Rainbow Dash and Applejack

Either one of them: in the current series, she voices both Rainbow Dash and Applejack. And, lest she become overrun with free time, she’s also the voice of Allura in the current Voltron Force.

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Bruise control

I am, of course, around this age:

When I was growing up, we had playgrounds and those playgrounds were made of galvanized steel pipe and surfaced variously with concrete, asphalt, gravel, or just plain dirt. By today’s standards these places were safety nightmares. Kids fell down and they bled, kids jumped, fell, or were pushed off these abominations and they broke bones, bruises and lacerations were so common we didn’t even think about them … and note: We usually only played at these playgrounds under adult supervision. Why, you may ask? Quite simply, by our standards of “fun” playgrounds were just plain boring.

I never broke a bone, but I accumulated quite a nice bunch of bruises over the years, due usually to bicycle mishaps or simple oafishness.

Should a kid make it to double digits without a scratch, you have to figure he’s spent the entire ten years in his room. Apparently some people think that’s a good idea:

Driving in to work today, I found myself stopped at a light next to a large step van belonging to TotTurf, which purports to supply “playground safety surfacing.”

It could be worse. Here’s how:

Turn your playground into a fun-ground!

Talkin’ TotTurf® sensors can trigger a variety of educational and fun-inspired sounds.

Note that these sounds aren’t actually fun, only “fun-inspired.” (A true fun sound would evoke the cutting of cheese, and I don’t mean Stilton.)

I mean, seriously, people, our kids have it bad enough already without having to be treated like toddlers until some time after they reach puberty.

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Ostrich mode

It sounds pretty good right about now, and not just to me:

Somebody please just tap my shoulder when the primaries are over. I’ll be the one with her head in the sand.

There are better sound insulators than sand, but few as inexpensive.

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Four horsemen replaced by six ponies

It’s the end of the world as he knows it, and the Curmudgeon Emeritus does not feel fine: among our current harbingers of doom he lists the (temporary) resurgence of Newt Gingrich, the apparent inability of Herman Cain to provide snappy answers to stupid questions — and the existence of, um, bronies.

Seriously. Bronies:

Significant numbers of teenaged boys are flocking into a cult around the old My Little Pony cartoon show.

I pointed out that it was, in fact, the new My Little Pony show, Friendship Is Magic, that’s drawing the guys, and while the Curmudgeon seems to be taking this in stride, the commenters seem greatly disturbed. If you ask me, Newt Gingrich is far greater a threat to the Republic than Rainbow Dash — so far as I know, Freddie Mac didn’t offer a dime to anyone in Ponyville or Canterlot — but then nobody asked me.

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