When life hands you old posts, well, you know what to do.
Saw this post from Val and decided to repost last year's stuff. Sue me.
A man was walking home alone late one foggy night, when behind him he hears:
Walking faster, he looks back and through the fog he makes out the image of an upright casket banging its way down the middle of the street toward him.
Terrified, the man begins to run toward his home, the casket bouncing quickly behind him.
He runs up to his door, fumbles with his keys, opens the door, rushes in, slams and locks the door behind him.
However, the casket crashes through his door, with the lid of the casket clapping
on his heels, the terrified man runs.
Rushing upstairs to the bathroom, the man locks himself in. His heart is pounding; his head is reeling; his breath is coming in sobbing gasps.
With a loud CRASH the casket breaks down the door. Bumping and clapping toward him.
The man screams and reaches for something, anything, but all he can find is a bottle of cough syrup! Desperate, he throws the cough syrup at the casket...
the coffin stops.
Don't hate because I'm beautiful.
Whatís this Bunco thing your wife does? Itís a hen party. They meet at different houses, roll the bones, eat, enjoy cold libations. It is the absolute antithesis of poker. In poker men sit in silence, studying their cards and the other players; in Bunco everyone is talking, and no one is paying attention to the game. You could film six men playing poker, and sixteen women playing Bunco, and you would learn everything you need to know about the difference between the sexes and the nature of each. By our games do we know ourselves.
I'll admit it: I'm a Bunco widower every other Tuesday. ::sob::
My recipe is pretty old. It was originally for 4 cheesecakes(I used to work in a commercial kitchen), but the quantities have been scaled back for a single cake. When I cooked for a living, almost no one else made pumpkin cheesecakes. Now, it seems like everyone and their brother makes their own, including the big warehouse stores such as Costco. Whatever. This recipe is the best.
1 7/8 pounds cream cheese(worried about the fat? Use some Neufchatel)
5/8 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
3/8 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
5/8 cup sour cream
1/8 cup rum
1 Tbsp vanilla
Approx. 30-49 ginger snaps
Approx. 1/4 cup butter
1) Grind up ginger snaps and mix with enough melted butter to bind together.
2) Cream together cream cheese, brown sugar and sugar. Beat eggs and add to
cream cheese mixture.
3) Add flour and the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. I suggest using the
beater attachment on your mixer, but it's up to you.
4) Grease a springform pan(10" preferred, but 9" will also work). Press the ginger
snap mixture into the pan to form the crust. Pour mixture into the crust-lined
pan; gently shake to remove air bubbles. Bake in 350 degree oven in a water bath
until the center is set.
***Note: If you have trouble with the cheesecake cracking, lower the temperature of
the oven to 300F and bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off, open the door for one minute,
close the door and then let the cheesecake sit in it for about 45 minutes. Chill before
If you're old enough to remember that commercial, well, welcome to the club. In any event, this article details how to rescale and edit your images, up to and including removing people from them. No more using scissors to cut out the old boy/girlfriend from photos. Simply remove, preserving the lovely background image. Oh, and be sure to check out this video which, I believe, Allah posted a link to over at Hot Air.
McQ links to this story which I believe is a great example of the strong armed tactics we'll be likely to endure as a country if we allow ourselves to be disarmed. I'll leave you with McQ's closing thoughts:
They came into the home of American citizens, took their child (5+ weeks old and nursing) into state custody and placed it in foster care. Why? Because the parents, due to their religious beliefs, objected to a test the state had mandated. The child's health wasn't in danger, he didn't need any medical treatment, in fact he is quite healthy. But the state felt that its priorities and decisions overruled those of the parents and drew the child's blood over the parents strenuous objections. Chilling.
Keeping that in mind, imagine, if you will, what powers the state will be left to exercise if it eventually is placed charge of every aspect of your health care.
And there exists a sizeable chunk of people in this country who think that what we need more of is more and bigger government. I'd call them stupid, except that I'd be insulting stupid people.
Turns that Glenn Reynolds and I have the same taste in old science fiction shows. Of course, Reynolds watches The Time Tunnel whilst sitting on his dark throne, sipping his puppy, while I tend to opt for a Guiness. To each his own.
One place where Linux still lags Windows is in its (in)ability to create VCDs, DVDs et al complete with custom menus. Sure, there are lots of programs out there, many of which are command line driven, which means that lots of people won't even attempt them. In some cases, you have to manually run multiple programs from within a shell, using lots of gibberish (okay, I actually understand shell scripting, but you know what I mean) to create menus, ISOs and then burn the DVD. Well, not only has someone created the open source software to do such a thing (DeVeDe), someone else has made a detailed tutorial on how to install and use it on your Linux system. Excerpt:
In windows there are many guides on how to create a dvd using your own video files. However this doesn't seem to happen in linux and moreover by using a program with a GUI. In this guide I will describe how to create a dvd with a menu using DeVeDe. DeVeDe is an open source program which allows you to create DVDs and CDs (VCD, sVCD or VCD) suitable for home players. It supports any of the formats supported by mplayer such as mpeg, avi, asf, wmv, wma, quicktime, mov, realtime, ogg, matroska and many others!
There's actually waaayy too much detail for me to excerpt anymore from the tutorial. Suffice it to say that it's a good choice for you Linux users. He also suggest using k3b to burn the resulting image. Since that comes with several of the KDE frontend distros, you won't even have to search for it. If you do, the Synaptic tool will easily find, download and install it for you. And if you don't have Synaptic, you always use apt-get. Now go forth and make DVDs.
Okay, it's not completely different. Rather, it's a topic that I almost never bring up here on the blog. Megan McArdle has a series of posts on vouchers, all of which you should read. I'll excerpt from a couple. Number 1:
Forgive me--I'm about to get testy again--but this thread on 11D really does seem to me to showcase in stunning technocolor the moral bankruptcy of voucher opponents who have pulled their own kids out of failing inner city schools. They have no good answer for why their choice is morally worthy, but vouchers are horrifying; their response to the deep need of kids in failing schools is a slightly gussied up version of "screw you, I've got mine." Their children's future, you see, is an infinitely precious resource that trumps their principles of distributional justice and community solidarity, but they cannot imagine putting the futures of poorer, darker skinned children ahead of sacred principles such as "Thou shalt not allow children to attend schools run by the Catholic Church" and "Supporting the public schools (even when they suck)". I could do a better job arguing against school vouchers.
How many educated people who:
a) Oppose vouchers
b) Have children who do not attend inner city public schools
would still oppose vouchers if they were the only way to get their child out of an inner city public school? How many of them would accept that their child had to be left in that school because the systemic effects of allowing their child to exit that repulsive school would be dreadful?
Respectfully, I believe the answer is "null set".
And the money quote here in number 3:
Empirically, I may be wrong; vouchers may not work. But we know that the current system isn't working. And poor kids should not bear the burden of making affluent liberals feel better about themselves.
I believe that OUCH is the word you're looking for.
Even if you don't care who wins the World Series, oreven if you don't know what the World Series is, you can still profit from the game of baseball if and when a base gets stolen. I present to you Free Tacos! Excerpt:
There has been at least one stolen base in every World Series matchup since 1990. When the first base is stolen, the unit of Yum Brands Inc (Taco Bell), will announce a Tuesday afternoon when consumers will be able to walk into the chain's participating 5,800 outlets and ask for a free taco. Anyone who walks into a participating outlet during the give-away period would be eligible for a free taco.
It'll be time to make a run for the border soon...
I swear that this article of 100 Reasons to upgrade to Vista from XP is one of the funniest damned things I've ever read. What makes it even funnier is that the authors appear to be serious. Personally, I tend to agree with this article from IT Wire: Microsoft's Top 10 Reasons to Upgrade to Ubuntu, Not Vista. Excerpt:
#8 Your PC can take care of itself Your days of defragmenting are over. Ubuntu uses a different file system to Windows. It does not really ever require defragging. Donít just take our word for it; check out geekblog.
No version of Windows can boast such built-in self maintenance. Not even Windows Vista. Perhaps its intended radical new database-oriented file system may have fared better, but it was pulled so the OS would finally ship Ė so weíll still have to wait to find out.
#3 Itís the safest version ever
Thatís right; Ubuntu is the safest version of an operating system ever. Oh, itís safer than Windows XP or other prior versions of Windows Ė and it does it without fading your screen to black and asking you to confirm each operation.
Microsoft have gone over the top with Vistaís user account control, but they have a problem largely of their own making. Itís rare to find a Windows user who logs in under one account, and performs systems administrative tasks under another. Consequently, Windows has a legacy of users running as local administrators who have full control over their machine.
Linux has never been this way; users are always been encouraged to run under a user account with limitations imposed. Because of this, Linux has always made it harder for people to accidently delete operating systems files, or infest their system with virii.
#1 It makes using your PC a breeze.
The clichť literally is true: Ubuntu just works. You install it and it runs. In fact, you can test it out. Without harming your computer in any way, you can boot from the Ubuntu CD and give it a complete whirl on your machine. If you donít like it, nothingís lost. You just remove the CD and boot back in to your existing operating system.
Ubuntu is the operating system your granny can use. And what a dutiful grandchild youíd be setting her up with it. Imagine not having to explain blue screens of death, or UAC, or program crashes and lockups.
Thanks, Microsoft, for these top 10 reasons why we should upgrade. Letís take up that advice. Time to load Gutsy Gibbon.
While I'm partial to the Ubuntu derivative MEPIS (I prefer the KDE interface and I think it's better than Kubuntu), I don't really have anything bad to say about Ubuntu. It's enormously popular, and part of that popularity has to do with the ease of installation and use. In fact, that's probably the best indicator of how robust Ubuntu has become.
Interestingly, except for the train wreck that is Britney Spears, the videos linked here at Cracked are pretty damned scary. I especially like the description of Affleck's drunken, loutish behavior: Ben Affleck shows off his acting abilities by improvising the lead up to a violent rape. In any event, I give you The 11 Most Unintentionally Poignant Drunk Celebrity Videos.
Anyone else watching Bionic Woman besides me? Apparently not too many of you, which is a shame. I think that the series has shown some promise, although it has been a little uneven in its quality. Good episodes alternate with mediocre episodes. I'm all for setting the stage, introducing the characters, etcetera, but just get going. Right now, the ratings are about what got The Nine killed last year.
What do I like? Here's a small list:
1. Katie Sachkoff plays someone of almost pure evil on the show. Certainly her character on BSG-Starbuck- has elements of moral confusion, but as Jaime Sommers' nemesis she's downright creepy at times.
2. I enjoyed the original series. It didn't take itself too seriously and was a lot of fun. This version is much darker and bleaker. Sort of TV noir, with some comedic elements thrown in.
3. Holy mother of god, have you taken a good look at Michelle Ryan?
Oh sure, if you don't like the full lips, the flowing hair, the ample bosom, the swelling hips and the overall buff look of a gym rat, you might not think she's that attractive. Rumor has it that Senator Craig doesn't think Michelle Ryan is all that.
Interestingly, if you search the Innertubes for photos, she's actually got some pictures of her that somehow manage to make her look less than appealing. In my opinion, those photographers should all be caned. Michelle is so freakishly hot that I tend to get distracted during... what was I saying? Anyway, if I were half my current age, unmarried, rich and famous, much better looking and someone else entirely, she'd be the future ex-Mrs. Physics Geek. Unfortunately for her, I'm older and ecstatically married. So she'll have to spend her life pining for the fjords. I'd offer to comfort her, but it just wouldn't be fair.
These are the politicians that stopped international terrorist wiretaps in a play for political power.
Don't worry: they'll blame Bush. Heck, I always do.
And it comes from Stephen Green:
It only took six years of constant, strong growth, record-low unemployment, low interest rates, several years of a housing boom, and new stock market records... for the MSM to finally convince almost half the population that we're in a recession.
I knew that if Bush continued his ban on embryonic stem cell research that we'd have to wait for breakthroughs from other, more enlightened countries like England. Excerpt:
In a study published in October's Experimental Neurology, Dr Paul Kingham and his team at the UK Centre for Tissue Regeneration (UKCTR) isolated the stem cells from the fat tissue of adult animals and differentiated them into nerve cells to be used for repair and regeneration of injured nerves.
Oh wait. What was I saying about embryonic stem cell research? Nothing to see here, just move along. And now I wait for an honest assessment about this research in the news. Do you think that maybe CNN, PMSNBC, CBS, ABC, or NBC will mention this correctly as a treatment derived from adult stem cells? Me neither. Instead, we'll be treated to editorials on how we're falling behind other countries in stem cell research, without bothering to mention that it's not the morally suspect embryonic kind.
Ehh, I blame Bush. Or question the timing. Or whatever brainfucked piece of idiocy gets John Cole and the Kos Kidz through the day.
Update: Welcome Instapundit readers!
Update: And Daily Pundit readers!
Despite the falling out between Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema over money, the two groups appear to be leaning towards Jackson directing The Hobbit. Since Sir Ian McKellen and one of the favored replacement directors both think that Peter Jackson would be the best choice, I'm going to go out on a limb and state for the record that it will eventually happen, hopefully before Gandalf is forced to use a walker onstage.
Oh, and it appears as though New Line is losing the legal battle:
Another sign: New Line appears to be losing the legal battle against Jackson with regard to Rings profits. Last week, a federal judge imposed a rare $125,000 sanction against the studio for failing to turn over potential evidence Jackson argued could help him prove that accounting tricks cheated him out of tens of millions in profits. New Line has said it won't appeal the sanction.
Yeah, if it looks like you've actually screwed the director of an immensely popular movie out of money, and then you turn around and decide to not hire him because he legally fought for what he was due, you might find that the public won't bother to go see your product. Just a guess, though. In any event, it'll be a few years away at best. In the interim, I'll be waiting for X Files: Need the Geritol to arrive.
Kim Brebach, fresh from his 13 Reasons why Linux won't make it to a desktop near you column, presents the other side of the coin: 13 reasons why Linux should be on your desktop. Excerpt:
... The road from Windows to Linux is now mostly sealed, with only a few rough patches left. You can see your Windows partition in Home > Storage Media, open Windows files, and even write back to them. The sound of glass shattering when Mepis can't open something is a change from the dull red cross signs Windows throws at you. These Linux dudes have a sense of humor: when K3b finishes burning a CD, it bursts into a bugle sound that makes you look for the cavalry coming over the hill.
- Cost -- Linux is free, and that includes all the apps. Microsoft is greedy. Vista Home Premium and Ultimate cost hundreds of dollars, even when upgrading from Windows XP. Moving up to Office 2007 involves handing over another bundle of dollars.
- Resources -- Even the most lavishly equipped Linux distros demand no more resources than Windows XP. Vista is greedy: a single-user PC operating system that needs 2GB of RAM to run at acceptable speed, and 15GB of hard disk space, is grossly obese.
- Performance -- Linux worked faster on my Dell Inspiron Core Duo than XP, at least the way XP worked out of the box. After cleaning out the bloatware and trading McAfee's Abrams Tank for the lightweight NOD32, XP and Linux (with Guarddog and Clam-AV) perform at similar speed.
- No bloatware -- Linux is free from adware, trialware, shovelware, and bloatware. Running Linux is like watching the public TV network.
- Security -- Last year, 48,000 new virus signatures were documented for Windows, compared to 40 for Linux. Still, most distros come with firewalls and antivirus (AV) software. Programs like Guarddog and Clam-AV are free, of course.
- Dual booting -- The best Linux distros make dual booting a simple affair, along with the required disk partitioning (so you don't need to buy partitioning software). Windows on my Dell laptop is still intact after installing and uninstalling a dozen distros.
- Installation -- Anyone who's done it once knows that installing Windows from scratch takes hours or even days by the time you get all your apps up and running. With Linux, it can take as little as half an hour to install the operating system, utilities, and a full set of applications. No registration or activation is required, no paperwork, and no excruciating pack drill.
- Reinstalling the OS -- You can't just download an updated version of Windows. You have to use the CD that came with your PC and download all the patches Microsoft has issued since the CD was made. With Linux, you simply download the latest version of your distro (no questions asked) and, assuming your data files live in a separate disk partition, there's no need to reinstall them. You only need to re-install the extra programs you added to the ones that came with the distro.
- Keeping track of software -- Like most Windows users, I have a shelf full of software CDs and keep a little book with serial numbers under my bed in case I have to reinstall the lot. With Linux, there are no serial numbers or passwords to lose or worry about. Not a single one.
- Updating software -- Linux updates all the software on your system whenever updates are available online, including all applications programs. Microsoft does that for Windows software but you have to update each program you've added from other sources. That's about 60 on each of my PCs. More icing on the Linux cake is that it doesn't ask you to reboot after updates. XP nags you every ten minutes until you curse and reboot your machine. If you choose "custom install" to select only the updates you want, XP hounds you like a mangy neighborhood dog until you give in.
- More security -- These days, operating systems are less vulnerable than the applications that run on them. Therefore a vital aspect of PC security is keeping your apps up-to-date with the latest security patches. That's hard manual labor in Windows, but with Linux it's automatic.
- No need to defrag disks -- Linux uses different file systems that don't need defragging. NTFS was going to be replaced in Vista, but Microsoft's new file system didn't make the final cut. Instead, Vista does scheduled disk defragging by default, but the defrag utility is a sad affair.
- A wealth of built-in utilities -- The utilities supplied with Windows are pretty ordinary on the whole, that's why so many small software firms have made a nice living writing better ones. Linux programs are comparable with the best Windows freeware, from CD burners to photo managers, memory monitors and disk utilities. PDF conversion is built-in, both into OpenOffice Writer and into the DTP application Scribus. All you do is click a button on the task bar.
For most users, OpenOffice is compatible enough with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. The font set in the Writer is pretty mean but can be made more generous by installing MS core fonts with Synaptic. Still, fonts are the elephant in the Linux room, admittedly. More work needs to be done here.
Compatibility stops with Desktop Publishing, since Scribus can't open Publisher files. Other than that, Scribus will do most of the things Publisher does, Evolution is more than a match for Outlook, and Firefox makes Internet Explorer 7 look stale. ShowFoto is as slick as any photo editor I've used on XP, digikam is a great photo organizer, and the Linux multi-media apps lack nothing.
If you prefer Opera to Firefox, or XnView for working with photos, you just tick the box in Synaptic and it will provide. More specialized apps like Inkscape or Blender are just a few Synaptic clicks away. The Gimp is already installed; it has a reputation for being hard to use but who'd argue that Adobe Photoshop isn't?
For once, I didn't announce-exactly- that I'd be out of town, although I did make repeated references to the GABF in Denver from which I've recently returned. I have a number of photos to post about my experiences, most of which have caused my liver and kidneys to revolt. Viva la revolucion! In any event, stay tuned for post-drinkiness daily GABF diary entries.
Sheesh. I drank so much that I actually haven't wanted a beer all day. Then again, I'm at work, so it's probably just as well.
GPS devices are both cool and useful. You know what's even more cool? Building your own GPS device from scratch. Excerpt:
The block diagram of the described GPS receiver is shown on Fig. 13. In the microwave frequency range, at L-band, the antenna needs a direct visibility of the satellites. Therefore it has to be installed outdoor, on the vehicle roof or on top of a portable receiver. Due to its excellent performance, a half-turn quadrifilar helix is used as a circularly polarized, hemispherical-coverage antenna. The LNA is installed directly under the antenna. Using two inexpensive GaAs FETs it achieves 30dB of gain making any following (reasonable) cable loss almost unimportant.
The GPS receiver includes a fixed-tuned downconverter to a suitable IF, an IF amplifier and limiter, a dedicated DSP hardware, a MC68010 based microcomputer with a small keyboard and a LCD display and a single master crystal oscillator for all frequency conversions and sampling rates. The downconversion from the GPS L1 frequency (1575.42MHz) is made in two steps for convenient image filtering. The first wide IF is in the 102MHz range and the second wide IF is in the 10MHz range. The wide IF bandwidth is set to around 2MHz. The actual value of the wide IF bandwidth is not critical, since filtering is only required to prevent spectrum aliasing in the signal sampling circuit.
6139kHz was selected as master crystal oscillator frequency of the described GPS receiver, since the best TCXOs are usually available for the frequency range between 5MHz and 10MHz. The output of the 6139kHz master oscillator is used both as the sampling frequency for the IF A/D conversion and as an input to a chain of multiplier stages to supply all of the frequencies required in the downconverter. Limiting the temperature range from 0 to 30 degrees C, as encountered during normal receiver operation, the TCXO was replaced by a much less expensive conventional crystal oscillator in all of the prototypes built.
Sampling the 10MHz wide-IF signal with 6139kHz produces a third downconversion to a 2303kHz nominal center frequency. The latter is the final carrier frequency that needs to be regenerated in the dedicated DSP hardware. The dedicated DSP hardware is designed as a microprocessor peripheral with read and write registers and is interrupting the MC68010 CPU once every millisecond to match the GPS C/A-code period.
In the portable, stand-alone GPS receiver, the operating software is stored in a compressed form in a 32kbytes EPROM. After power-on reset, the software is decompressed in 128kbytes of battery-backed CMOS RAM, which is also used to store the system almanac and other data to speed-up the acquisition of four valid satellites. For the same reason the CPU also has access to a small battery-backed real-time clock chip.
A small 8-key keyboard is used to select the various menus of the operating software and manually set some receiver parameters if so desired. The portable version of the GPS receiver is using a LCD module with integrated driving electronics and two rows of 40 alphanumeric (ASCII) characters each, to display the receiver status, the almanac data or the results of the navigation computations.
No nasty downloading and burning ISOs, where you find that your handy dandy DVD burner will not correctly burn a Linux Live CD image. You absolutely need a CD (only) burner. A CD-RW/DVD-Read only will work fine, but if the drive also burns DVDs, you will be SOL when it comes time to boot your Live CD. Trust me: this is the voice of ugly experience. Anyway, How To Forge has an article that details the use of UNetbootin, which allows to install various Linux distros onto your computer. It even creates real partitions so that you have a working dual boot system when you've finished.
"In the end, you have a dual-boot system (Linux/Windows or Linux/Linux). "
This tutorial shows how you can set up an OpenSUSE 10.3 desktop that is a full-fledged replacement for a Windows desktop, i.e. that has all the software that people need to do the things they do on their Windows desktops. The advantages are clear: you get a secure system without DRM restrictions that works even on old hardware, and the best thing is: all software comes free of charge.
I want to say first that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!
Falko lists all of the software he needs for his desktop to be considered Windows replacement worthy. It's a long list, so I won't reprint it here. I'll simply mention that it's quite comprehensive. Also, he goes through a step-by-step tutorial which will get your new system completely installed. The result? it looks pretty darned good.
Related links, if you're so inclined:
Those tricksy Linux developers. They've created more distros than you can shake a stick at, one variation for pretty much any need or desire. I think that the multitude of distributions is both a strength AND a weakness (newbies get overwhelmed trying to figure out what to testdrive). Pretty much any niche has its own favorite. This time though, some developers filled a need which I believe doesn't currently exist: Vixta, which attempts to duplicate the Windows Vista look and feel. Yeah, I don't get it either. Emulating an OS that vendors are currently selling a downgrade for isn't something that I'd bother to work on. To be fair, the need may exist at some point.
Lots of people talk past their political opponents with regards to the current US troops still in Iraq. Gerard reposts an excerpt from his 2004 pre-election column and adds some more insightful comments. While it's entirely possible for reasonable to read Gerard's analysis and remain unconvinced, he does present a compelling argument for his case. Excerpt:
Given these five reasons derived from the facts on the ground in late 2004, it would be suicidal for the United States to withdraw militarily from Iraq for at least ten years and probably 20. The level of forces needed to maintain control can fluctuate as the situation dictates, but the presence of significant forces is a necessity.
This is not to say that the United States will not withdraw, but only to underscore the price of such foolishness. The United States has, through bad politics, misdirection and clouded thinking, made monstrous errors of judgment in the past and is certainly capable of doing so in the future. It is only to say that should we, through a posturing for mere political power at home, cede military control of Iraq and hence the Middle East before the matter of Islamic fundamentalism is settled, and the Islamic cultures fully assimilated into the 21st century, departure early would only require our subsequent return. And that return will be far more bloody and necessary than anything seen to date in what is still a brush-fire war.
I'm certain that John Cole will posit that this post is more proof that the center/right side of the blogosphere has gotten dumber since he left it.
Helen, here's a long distance electronic hug from me to you.
In honor of the Lemonheads, I present the following:
The style? Parent Casual.
Harvey posted a quip that I plan to file the serial numbers off of, take across state lines and use as my own:
Coworker: It all depends on whether you see the glass as half-full or half-empty.
Harvey: The glass is chipped and I cut my lip on it.
Via Gerard comes this little SNL clip on YouTube. Truthfully, if the voice were more grating, and the smile a little more I-eat-live-babies chilling, I'd think it was Hillary. Money quote:
"And you, John Edwards, you phony, two-faced, ambulance chasing little rat bastard."
Colleges and university endowments, that is. Gregg Easterbrook, in TMQ this week, makes one of his usual detours into a non-sports topic and, as usual, makes a pretty good analysis. Excerpt:
At Least Harvard Hasn't Demanded a Seat on the G-8 -- Yet: According to last week's Wall Street Journal, Harvard's endowment is up to $34.9 billion and Yale's has risen to $22.5 billion. To put those numbers into perspective, the Harvard endowment now exceeds the gross domestic product of Sri Lanka or Kenya and the Yale endowment exceeds the GDP of Costa Rica or Iceland.
It's wonderful that such great institutions of higher learning are funded so well, with assets that seem to assure their continued existence for centuries. But as Tuesday Morning Quarterback asked last year when Harvard's endowment hit a mere $29 billion, why does anyone pay anything at all to attend this school?
Conservatively managed investments using low-risk strategies yield 5 to 7 percent per year; federal law requires many types of philanthropies to disburse a minimum of 5 percent per year or lose their tax-exempt status. At 5 percent, the Harvard endowment would throw off $1.7 billion annually. That's $104,000 for each of the 16,715 undergrads and graduate students currently attending the university. Yet according to College Board figures, the average undergrad who lives on campus at Harvard this year will pay $37,900, that being the official price minus average financial aid award. Can Harvard seriously expect us to believe it is spending $144,000 per year per undergraduate? (That's the actual payments from students plus 5 percent of the endowment.) Shifting Harvard's endowment spending from empire-building to reducing tuition -- either lower prices for everyone, or, say, eliminating all costs for students from families that make $200,000 or less -- would be a tremendous progressive step without jeopardizing Harvard's legitimate desire to hold a rich endowment into the indefinite future.
Instead, Harvard just keeps charging an arm and a leg and the endowment keeps empire-building. One result of the extremely high cost of private colleges is that many graduates feel they must go into high-paying professions to justify what was just spent. If Harvard were free for students whose families aren't rich, or cost much less for all students, perhaps graduates would be more likely to become public-school teachers or Peace Corps volunteers or work for the U.S. Public Health Service or in legal-aid settings. Rather than use its colossal financial assets to educate a generation of smart people willing to serve society in thanks for a great education at little cost, Harvard continues to soak parents, teach money obsession and set an example of hoarding.
Update: Uh uh. I bet that Mr. Easterbrook won't be invited to any TNR reunions anytime soon.
Exaggerating the Case Against Bush Only Lessens the Focus on His Real Faults: There's a lot to dislike about the George W. Bush administration -- the Iraq war, lack of action on petroleum waste, wiretapping -- but in the rush to make Bush seem as bad as possible, the establishment media consistently have distorted his domestic environmental record, which is basically fine. Air, water and toxic pollution have declined since Bush took office; all U.S. environmental indicators except greenhouse gas emissions have been positive for 20 to 30 years, which you'd never know from opening the morning newspaper.
A problem is that environmental journalists are genetically programmed to spin all stories as bad news while ignoring progress. A classic example is stories expressing horror and outrage that environmental prosecutions initiated by the EPA or filed by the Justice Department are declining, as they have been since the middle of the Clinton administration. But it's good that environmental prosecutions are declining -- the reason is that pollution is declining! As pollution declines, there are fewer violations to prosecute. If speeding declined, police would write fewer tickets: Would we be glad speeding was declining or express horror over the shocking, shocking reduction in prosecution of speeders?
There the canard was again as the Sunday lead-headline story of The Washington Post: "The Environmental Protection Agency's pursuit of criminal cases against polluters has dropped off sharply during the Bush administration, with the number of prosecutions, new investigations and total convictions all down by more than a third," the story began. Of course environmental prosecution is declining, there is less to prosecute every year! The Post's banner story ran 38 paragraphs but never mentioned that all forms of pollution except greenhouse gases are declining, and because greenhouse-gas emissions are legal, there's nothing to prosecute. Mention that pollution is in long-term decline, and Sunday's front-page banner story in The Washington Post goes "poof."
Honesty. It's something that The New Republic seems to have forgotten.
We'd also like to add, holy shit:
The GABF is once again about to kick off in Denver, Colorado. I will be there-again- for my 9th trip in the last 10 years; I took off one year when my daughter chose the GABF weekend to be born. Such is life. In any event, I'll be there Thursday thru Saturday. If anyone wants to meet up for a brew or 1200, look for me in the Mountain section. Or is the Mountain West section? I forget. In any event, I'll be pouring Thursday/Friday/Saturday evening, leaving Saturday afternoon for my free drinking session. And I'll end each day with a Thai pie and a Fat Tire at Old Chicago's, which means that I'll start each day with a ginormous fart. Hey, it's worth it, to me anyway. My roommates might disagree. In any event, see (maybe) some of you there. Drop me a line if you're interested in some real life geekery.