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April 30, 2014

A Paint Job Even I Can Afford!

This dropped into my Inbox, and, unlike the last little ditty to drop into my Inbox, this one is real.

The $383.00 Paint Job
49 'Lincoln' Cadillac.jpg

49 Cadillac,Completely Covered With 38,295 Pennies!
Pennies Were Adhered One By One Using Silicone,
They Added Over 200 Pounds To The Weight,
The Entire Project Took 6 weeks,
Pennies are American and include 1817 ''Big Cent'',
Two Error Pennies And Four 1943 Steel Pennies

Although, I think it'll take a few more "Lincoln's" to cover my Durango, that's a paint job even I can afford.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:05 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 29, 2014

Get Thee From Me, Carr's Ginger Lemon Cremes!

Food should only speak when spoken to. Whispering sweet nothings into our shell-like ear from another room is completely uncalled for.

The blog princess will resume her inane blatherings later this afternoon or evening. Lots of irritating things going on in meatspace that demand her full attention.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:26 PM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

April 28, 2014

Something Cool

And yet very scary to contemplate.
Introducing Phoebe (Saturn IX) hovering over Central Florida
Phoebe over Central FL.png

Click on the picture at the site to go to the rest of the montage with descriptions from the creator alongside.
This is what the creator of this pic had to say about the above picture:

"With an approximate diameter of about 200 Kilometers, Phoebe is an irregular moon of Saturn. Phoebe was the first target encountered upon the arrival of the Cassini spacecraft to the Saturn system in 2004, and is thus unusually well-studied for a natural satellite of its size.

In this very imperfect montage, I imagine Phoebe hovering [over] Central Florida. With an approximate diameter of 200 Kilometers in the central portion of the state, I wanted to "play" with my imagination a bit."

Here's one for T99 -

Introducing: Orcus and Vanth hovering over Eastern Texas and Western Arkansas
Orcus over Texas.png

And, naturalicht, I would be remiss in forgetting the Princess' fav shopping center -
Deimos over Paris.png

Again, the creator in his own words -

"As with my other montages, I have tried depicting the two bodies as though they are hovering over a portion of Earth just to convey a sense of their size in relation to Earth's geographical distances.

These two objects do not have a chance of colliding with Earth as they are not anywhere near our neighborhood and not expected to visit it either, my representation is purely for illustrative purposes."

And, of course, the *cool* factor.

Tip o' the Stetson: Universe Today

Posted by DL Sly at 03:41 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Mortgaging Tomorrow to Pay for Today

The WaPo begins a long article about how the middle class can barely make ends meet with the sad tale of a couple who make almost twice the median income, yet had no money put away to replace a car with over 200K miles on it. Replacing it with a used car (we're told) caused them not to be able to pay their electric bills:

The Johnsons both work, earning $90,000 between them, not a princely sum but one that places the couple squarely in the middle of household incomes for the Washington region. But for the Johnsons and many other American families, being middle class means living paycheck to paycheck.

The couple’s retirement savings are meager. The college fund? Nonexistent.

We're supposed to believe that this couple are living paycheck to paycheck because they don't make enough money. But as their tale unfolds, a disturbing pattern emerges: they repeatedly spend money on "wants" and defer spending on "needs":

One factor behind the financial squeeze is that the middle class’s expectations — a house, music and dance lessons for the kids, the latest in home entertainment — have stayed the same or increased even as costs have soared.

A while back, we wrote about how artificially cheap credit was crowding out household saving. Essentially, American families are deliberately choosing not to save, relying on loans to cover the growing gap between what they spend and what they earn. And contra the WaPo's misleading assertions, wages aren't really stagnant and the basic cost of living has actually gone down over time:

Many articles on household savings cite unemployment or stagnant wages as possible causes. But unemployment can't possibly account for three-fourths of households not putting money away against hard times. And the supposed stagnation of wages doesn't stand up well to critical scrutiny. As this article points out, the average wage over time hasn't risen for several reasons:

1. Benefits like health insurance, pension funds, and paid leave have grown to 31% of total compensation, and these benefits aren't included in the calculation.

2. Even when wages are adjusted for inflation, the same salary has far more buying power today than it did 40 years ago.

3. The entrance of women and immigrants into the job market caused rapid growth of low skill/low wage jobs at the bottom of the pay scale. These job pull the average wage down.

The reduction in the cost of living over time is stunning:

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, spending by households on many of modern life's "basics"—food at home, automobiles, clothing and footwear, household furnishings and equipment, and housing and utilities—fell from 53% of disposable income in 1950 to 44% in 1970 to 32% today.

More on the reduction in basic living expenses over time. A little farther in the article, another "struggling" couple are spending money they don't have on luxuries and neglecting the (now relatively cheaper in constant dollars) basics:

While they struggle to meet basic expenses, the Johnsons’ home is filled with the electronics that have become a standard part of middle-class life in the 21st century. For $90 a month, a satellite dish provides basic television service for their three flat-screen sets and for the WiFi connections Scott needs when he works from home. They have one laptop and three iPads, and each girl has a computer in her bedroom. The bill for four cellphones runs about $300 a month.

Like many American homeowners over the past several years, they got a break on the mortgage by refinancing to a lower interest rate, stretching the remaining payments from 14 years to 30. It cut the monthly payment almost in half, down to around $700 a month.

The money was immediately sucked up. Scott expects his salary at the hospital to be frozen because of Medicare cuts. And the couple keeps postponing maintenance on the family’s 30-year-old home.

The air conditioner stopped working four years ago. The dishwasher is busted, too. The roof is missing a few shingles and leaks in a heavy storm. Last month, Scott installed a hand-me-down cooktop given them by a friend who remodeled her kitchen.

The problem here isn't lack of income. It's poor money-handling skills and a screwed up sense of what's most important.

There has been growing evidence in recent years that increasing numbers of children are starting school without being fully toilet trained.

Experts say it is not just pupils from deprived backgrounds who are having problems but those who have working parents too busy to address the issue.

Meanwhile, in response to complaints that it's "too hard" to make student loan payments, our government has stepped in to make things easier.... with predictable results:

A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York finds that as of the fourth quarter of 2012 only about 40% of student borrowers were paying down their loans. About 17% were delinquent, defined as 90 days past their due payment. Hard to believe, but this "measured delinquency rate" is higher than any other consumer debt product, even credit-card debt.

Yet it is only half of the "effective" delinquency rate. A whopping 14% of borrowers who were not officially delinquent had the same balance as the previous quarter and 30% saw their balances increase.

That's because borrowers who can't afford to pay down their loans can ask the government for a deferment or forbearance, which freezes their payments while interest continues to accrue. During a deferment, Uncle Sam pays the interest on subsidized loans. To qualify for either option, borrowers merely need to claim an economic hardship or return to school. Borrowers can postpone payments indefinitely by enrolling in college half-time—during which time they can take out even more loans. Borrowers can use the loans to pay for incidental living expenses.

Heavily indebted borrowers can also enroll in an income-based repayment plan, which caps monthly payments at 10% of their discretionary income—about $150 per month for someone earning $30,000 annually. The government then forgives the entire outstanding loan after 10 years of making these minimum payments while working for a nonprofit or the government. You have to wait 20 years if you work in the profit-making economy.

But as the New York Fed report notes, borrowers who participate in income-based repayment plans may "make only small payments, which are often insufficient to cover the accumulated interest." Thus their loan balances grow.

Student loan debt nearly tripled to $966 billion in 2012 from $364 billion in 2004, but not merely because more students are going to school and taking out bigger loans. The Fed report's major finding is that government programs intended to prevent defaults are actually causing many borrowers to rack up more debt. Yet these borrowers aren't included in the government's official default or delinquency rates.

Eliminating painful consequences doesn't help people do a better job of managing risk. It entices them into ignoring risk.

Income inequality isn't the defining problem of our age. That honor belongs to moral hazard.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:49 AM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

April 27, 2014

The Journalism Biz is "Frighteningly Male"

And the left-leaning parts of it are orders of magnitude worse than that horrid, Rupert Murdoch owned reich wing rag:

A new report by the Women’s Media Center found that male reporters still accounted for 63 percent of bylines in the nation’s top 10 papers and about the same proportion of newsroom staff. All but one of the individual winners of Pulitzer Prizes in journalism this year were male.

Men’s dominance in the field tends to be highest in prestige or “hard” topics like politics, crime, business, technology and world affairs; women put up better numbers in “soft” subjects like education, lifestyle, culture and health. Male opinion columnists outnumber women by more than two to one at The Wall Street Journal, more than three to one at The Washington Post, and five to one at The New York Times. As for sports — do you need to ask?

Men also represent authority and expertise in more subtle ways. On the front page of The New York Times, the study noted, men were quoted three times more often than women. When women were writing the stories, the number of women quoted went up.

What the report doesn’t answer is why this disparity persists, and why women are more equal in some sectors of journalism than in others. And even as newsrooms may be recruiting more women to hard-news beats, a new generation of big-name entrepreneurial ventures like Vox.com and FiveThirtyEight.com seem to be favoring the men.

This, from the profession that continually bangs the "war on women" and pay equality drums. Perhaps they should try practicing what they preach.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:02 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

The Equine Experience

The idea behind the Equine Experience at Miraval near Tucson is for participants to learn to manage anxiety and tension by cleaning a horse’s hoof.

So writes a journalist for the NYT, describing a tour of Arizona's tony spa resorts. Read out loud to the Editorial Staff over coffee and a cinnamon roll this morning by the spousal unit, it confirmed our instinctive take on fancy spas, which mostly consists of a lot of talking about going to a spa "someday" without ever actually doing anything about it.

Our fave passage:

The extravagance of the experience almost felt silly, like when she set down a path of towels from the massage table to the tub so my feet wouldn’t have to touch the floor. Then there was the inevitable upsell. She asked if I wanted to “enhance” my service with a scalp massage for $25. I declined. The massage ended with her placing the crystal on my forehead in a symbolic gesture for clarity. “Your third eye,” she said.

We saved Miraval for our last stop, knowing it would probably be the most memorable, given its reputation as the place where Oprah and Ellen go to recharge. We started our first of two days and nights there with the famed Equine Experience. The point was not to learn to ride the horse but to treat him as a kind of therapist. We were skeptical of the abilities of a horse to teach us much about dealing with anxiety, tension or resolving conflicts. But it ended up being quite a revealing two hours.

After a quick stop at the juice and smoothie bar, which is free to guests and one of the better perks we enjoyed on our trip, the staff packed eight of us into a van and drove us off the grounds of the resort to its stables. The first thing we noticed after taking our seats in a little circle was the Kleenex box. Carolyn, our guide, assured us that it was O.K. if we didn’t cry.

The way it worked was Carolyn showed us how to squeeze the back of the horse’s leg in just the right spot to get him to lift his hoof so we could then scrape it with a little cleaning tool. This took some perseverance and patience, since the horse usually responds to cues from the human’s body language. So if you aren’t confident, attentive and careful, the horse just ignores you.

Carolyn chided Brendan after he started laughing nervously at his inability to get the horse to respond. “Laughter is just a defense mechanism, and it solves nothing,” she told him. Re-approach the horse and communicate what you want. It worked.

Once I got my horse to lift his foot, he started to struggle. My impulse was to let go of him. But Carolyn said to stick with it. Just like any conflict, you want to see it through. Then it came time to walk the horse. I guided him out into the middle of the ring. Then he stopped suddenly. What did I do wrong, I wondered urgently? What character flaw did he detect in me? Nothing, it turned out. He just had to relieve himself.

Who knew true inner peace could be achieved by paying a few hundred bucks to scrape meadow muffins off the hoof of a horse who is totally NOT judging you?

Stop laughing, O Unenlightened Ones. Laughter is just a defense mechanism.

It doesn't solve anything.

Posted by Cassandra at 11:34 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 26, 2014

Bwa Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!

Can you say RAAAAAAACIST, boys and girls? We knew that you could:

Earlier this month, Alvin Holmes, who has represented the Montgomery-area 78th District for 39 years, bet a substantial purse on his claim that Alabama whites were incapable of tolerating black children.

“I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama,” Holmes said. “I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it in cash in $20 bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase.”

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The lawmaker wagered the large sum during a speech in which he stated that “99 percent” of Republicans in the Yellowhammer State would order their daughters to get abortions if they were impregnated by black men.

Holmes has a long history of offensive racial comments. He has accused Republican Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina of voting only as “white folks” tell him to vote and called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom.”

Last week, several families called on Holmes to pay up. Parents and children from mixed-race families gathered in Montgomery. Although the official purpose of the rally was to get Holmes to apologize, some members of mixed-race families want to hold the politician to his bet.

“I would like for him to man up — he’s made the statement, he needs to put his money where his mouth is,” parent Beverly Owings told WBMA-LD. Owings is the mother of an adopted 13-year-old black daughter.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:07 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Friends

Sometimes, they get on each other's nerves:

























Still, the world would be a lonelier place without them.

Posted by Cassandra at 09:05 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 25, 2014

Caption Contest

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.

31.png

Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
0>;~}

Posted by DL Sly at 07:28 PM | Comments (30) | TrackBack

Let The Judgement Begin

Have I told you guys how much I love ya? Y'all are truly fun to throw pictures at just to see what you come up with...and, to be honest, I won a bet with the VES. See, she didn't think y'all could come up with much of anything for this latest contest.
A small reminder of which lies below...

10.png

Oh, She of Little Faith! If only I'd thought to bet something tangible like chores or money...well, no, wait, she gets her money from me for doing her chores. So, that's an exercise in futility. What is not such an exercise is this week's judgement, which is going to be a little different...as you'll soon see.
Therefore and without further ado, on to old business and the judgement!

Kicking off set number one, at number five is new commenter MJL Still from the Royal Catanian Mounted Police Dance Troop with their rendition of "And The Mouse Police Never Sleep."

At number four, we find CAPT Mike revealing potential insider knowledge, Though the evil humans filming this farce did not know it, at this very moment the Kitty Mafia had marked them for death.

frequent flyer makes his three point landing neatly with "Plagued with a rash of cat burglaries, the police decided to fight fire with fire."

While afe gives us our first movie trivia reference, earning him second place in this first of two sets - As Daniel-san uses Mister Miyagi's undefeatable Crane stance, his Cobra-Kai opponent wonders whether he should sweep the leg.

Bringing us to the winner of our first set: Melissa Fletcher with this gem of a movie reference caption, How come you always get to be crouching tiger?

Congrats guys!

I know what you're thinking, "There's a couple of regulars missing this week." Well, that's because YAG, who must have had Mr. Mom duties last week given the number of captions he offered up for judgement, is a winner unto himself this week. Yep, the *meowze* was apparently with Yu-Ain with this pic as the captions were indeed inspired.

So, off we go with the YAG set:
At number five is, Shortly after this demonstration, Dr. Moreau was forced into hiding.

Number four has You taught cats Kung Fu? Damn you, Igor. You've killed us all!

Number three also garners "Major Obscure Site Reference" as well as "Inquiring Minds Want To Know" props for Yu-Ain Gonnano who's looking in Sister Mary's bag-o-metaphors,
Nope.
Nuh uh.
No good.
Not touching that one either.
That's just right out.
Oh! Maybe? ... No.
Unwise.
Unmentionable.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

Number two takes us back to Kung Fu Theatre days:
Red: *lips moving* You will never again dunk me in the pool. *lips continue moving*
Pink: Yes, I will *lips start moving* miss that very much *lips stop moving* when you are dead.

Last, but certainly not least, number one on not only the YAG list, but for the week overall, is Meowfeus tries to free Neow's mind: there is no catnip.

Finally, the "I'm Guessin' You Don't Like Cats" category winner is spd for these very visual entries,
Fortunately, at that precise moment a three ton piano suddenly tumbled from the roof of the ten story building putting and end to the conflict.
and
Thankfully, Rex the Wonder Dog's flamethrower quickly put an end to "Kat Kabuki Nite" forever.

Well done, everyone....and spd.
Congrats the winners.
Another pic is forthcoming.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 12:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

'Tis A Silly Thing

I've been following the incredible hypocrasy at Brandeis University regarding the the rescinding of an award of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born activist whose work has focused on the barbaric misogyny rampant in Islamic societies like the one in which she was raised, for her humanitarian work. Originally, all I knew about this story was what I read at Powerline, who are known for their adherence to complete discloure and as much accuracy as is possible at the moment. I had not, for instance, read the Sydney Morning Herald interview where she said, "The white man is held to a moral standard that, in the West, men [who have immigrated] from other cultures are not held to," she told the Herald. ''If a white man sold his daughter into marriage, most people would be appalled and there'd be an outrage in any national context in any country in the West. But when it's a man from Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen or India, then what you see is this: 'Oh yes, but …'"
Today, however, brings a post from Ace with a little more information about those who were amongst the most vehement in their opposition.

The Brandeis professors who demanded that Ayaan Hirsi Ali be "immediately" dis-invited wrote that "we are filled with shame at the suggestion that (Hirsi Ali's) above-quoted sentiments express Brandeis's values." The professors also castigated Hirsi Ali for her "core belief of the cultural backwardness of non-western peoples" and for her suggestion that "violence toward girls and women is particular to Islam." The professors note that such a view "obscure(s) such violence in our midst among non-Muslims, including on our own campus."
[snip]
Eighty seven professors or 29% of the Brandeis faculty signed this letter. These professors teach Physics, Anthropology, Near Eastern and Jewish Studies, English, Economics, Music, Film, Computer Science, Math, Sociology, Education—and Women and Gender Studies. Four percent of the signatories teach Anthropology, 6% teach Near Eastern and Jewish Studies, 9% teach Physics—and 21% teach Women and Gender Studies.

I have to admit that I have always wondered what the hell one is supposed to do with a degree in Women and Gender Studies other that to pontificate about that which has baffled men and women throughout the ages, and while it may get me many a hiss and cat call, I just don't see a viable job in the degree program.

Quite frankly, the whole feminist movement, while happening whilst I was literally in that perfect age group to influence for the next generation, just never sat well with me. Yes, I found a lot of judgement cast upon me based upon the fact that I was a girrrl. This was mostly because I was a Daddy's girl and therefore grew up doing stuff at my Pop's side where usually you would find a son. I knew the difference between a crescent and an open/box wrench by the time I was 8. I could change the oil, chop wood, mow the yard, shoot a gun and had my first rifle by the time I was 10. Also, having two older brothers without any clue whatsoever as to what to do with a little sister while Mom and Dad were at work, I was also very well-versed and talented in the popular sports of the day - football, basketball and baseball - and, without sounding too pompous, was better than pretty much all the guys at my (albeit small) high school. So, when I looked for jobs, my interests lay in areas that, unless you were the boss' daughter, usually went to the young guys in the area. I got that. I took it as a challenge to prove that I could do the job just as well, if not better, than any of the other boys that applied. I guess I just wasn't taught the *right* way to think by my parents. It has never occurred to me to say that I was owed a job simply because I was a girrrl. So, from it's inception through when it really started getting it's strongest political support in the late '70's to early '80's, the feminist movement has always seemed a bit militant to me, and it surprises me not to see what it has become.

Who could deny that the problems identified by feminists in America are serious? Here are just five recent examples of how bad women have it in the States, each followed by a look at a minor problem faced by women in other parts of the world.

American Problem #1
Gendered toys being distributed McDonald’s.
Did you know that McDonald’s distributes toys with its so-called Happy Meals? And that these toys come in “boy” and “girl” varieties? Can you believe what a human rights violation this is? Slate [link deleted] is on it, thank goodness. This must be stopped.

Global Problem #1
234 girls kidnapped from Nigerian schools last week by Islamist extremists.
As the Associated Press reports:

The kidnappings are believed to have been carried out by Nigeria’s Islamic extremist rebels, known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram — the nickname means “Western education is sinful” — is violently campaigning to establish an Islamic Shariah state in Nigeria, whose 170 million people are about half Muslim and half Christian. Boko Haram has been abducting some girls and young women in attacks on schools, villages and towns but last week’s mass kidnapping is unprecedented. The extremists use the young women as porters, cooks and sex slaves, according to Nigerian officials.

Ace collates the family-friendly boxcars of freight from my train of thought on this subject into a much more coherent sentiment than I could ever hope for,

"Hirsi Ali's own story of genuine oppression, and her agitation about important, fundamental rights of, and dignities owed, to women, makes our own neurotic prattlings seem rather silly and fluffy by comparison.
[snip]
Hirsi Ali's story is a threat to this version of Post-Feminist trivial pursuits, as that letter readily admits. Hirsi Ali is speaking of real rape -- not "rape culture" -- and real, physical aggressions, clitorectomies, daylight murders, all of which have the inevitable effect of making the pet obsessions of the Brandeis Women and Gender Studies Department seem rather more ridiculous than they already might appear."

*Post-Feminist* is exactly what is left of the movement now. And now the question is, will they, having accomplished what they set out to do, which was to bring about the change that results in equal opportunity for women and men - a truly heroic quest for those, and these, modern times - will they now ride, heroically astride their white steed of honor, into that well-deserved sunset of reverence?
Or will they continue in the ways of late that soil the truly worthy foundation of what has become a not-so ivory tower?

Posted by DL Sly at 12:00 AM | Comments (35) | TrackBack

April 23, 2014

I Bet...

...y'all watch this at least twice. All I could say was, "Holy shit!" even after watching for the third time. frequent flyer and the rest of you zoomies out there will appreciate the skill - and anal retentive ability - of the pilot.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 01:02 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

At Lake Wobegone the IRS, Everyone Is Above Average

And they all deserve performance awards. Even the ones who break the rules:

"More than 2,800 Internal Revenue Service employees who recently had been disciplined received performance bonuses totaling more than $2.8 million between Oct. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2012," reports the Journal.

No, the group that targeted conservatives didn't receive bonuses after the scandal broke last year. But the IRS sets a pretty low bar for employees to receive awards. About two-thirds of the agency's 98,000 workers received bonuses for fiscal 2012.

As for those who broke IRS rules and still got paid, the Journal reports: "The misconduct ranged from failure to pay taxes to misuse of government travel cards, violation of official-conduct standards and fraud, according to the report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The discipline included written reprimands, suspensions and even removal. The oversight agency said some of the conduct issues might have occurred after an employee earned a bonus."

The internal auditor's report notes with wry understatement that "providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially the failure to pay taxes owed to the federal government, appears to be in conflict with the IRS's charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration."

Adds the Journal: "The report identified nearly 1,200 employees with tax issues or official-conduct violations during the period who received a total of $1.1 million in monetary bonuses, and about 11,000 hours of time off. One employee who was suspended for 10 days in September 2011 received a $1,300 performance award in August 2012, the report said."

Some people might be tempted to observe that what you reward, you get more of. We're guessing such observations would not be rewarded at the branch of government charged with making sure the rest of us follow the rules.

Update: the Washington Post chimes in:

A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration shows that between Oct. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, the IRS paid $2.8 million in bonuses to employees cited in the past year for such things as drug use, making violent threats, fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits, misusing government credit cards and — get this — failing to pay their taxes.

The report said more than 1,100 employees who failed to pay their taxes received discretionary awards of more than $1 million in cash bonuses and more than 10,000 hours in extra paid vacation.

At least five employees received performance awards after being disciplined for intentionally under-reporting their tax liabilities for multiples [sic] years, paying taxes late and under-reporting income.

Like many companies and government agencies, the IRS sweetens the deal for its employees by giving bonuses based on performance. But at the IRS, breaking the federal tax laws you were hired to enforce and running afoul of other agency rules aren’t considered relevant to performance-based awards.

You have to do something really bad before the IRS will take conduct into account, bad enough to be suspended for 14 days or more. Even then, conduct is only deemed relevant to awards of permanent pay increases, not for bonuses or extra vacation time.

None of this apparently violated federal guidelines or any internal policies related to rewarding employees.

In fact, the agency cut performance-based payments beyond what was required by a 2011 federal policy instructing agencies to limit incentive payments to 2010 levels. Everyone who got an award received a performance rating of “fully successful” as required by federal guidelines.

The IRS’s contract with the National Treasury Employees Union bars the agency from considering bad conduct when making performance-based awards. As for non-union employees, federal guidelines are silent on the subject.

Public unions are bleeding the country dry. Even FDR didn't think they were a good idea.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:49 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

April 22, 2014

Kings of Infinite Space

An interesting article in the WSJ claims that personality is more malleable than we think and deliberate, incremental changes to our behavior have the power to make us happier:

Changing your personality is a lot like losing weight, experts say. It requires constant intentional behavior that eventually becomes second nature. The process can be painful and humbling. But it is necessary for psychological maturity.

1. Figure out which personality traits it will benefit you most to change. Is there a pattern of conflict or negative feedback in your career or your personal life?

2. Try to gain insight into your role in this pattern, starting with your own behavior. Isolate the behavior that you think is causing you the most trouble, and work on that one.

3. Start with baby steps. Change begins with one behavior so gain control of one before adding another. Don't expect to overhaul your personality in one day, week, month or even year.

4. Remain committed. Review your progress to provide positive self-reinforcement. Expect some backsliding. When slip-ups happen, don't dwell on them. Just keep moving in the direction you want to go.

5. As your new behavior becomes ingrained, identify a new and more significant area for improvement.

One thing modern culture has lost is the notion - common when the Blog Princess was growing up - that happiness is more a function of our habits and decisions than of our circumstances or nature. Is the glass half empty? Or half full? Is the way we see things in this moment accurate, or would a different perspective produce better results?

The emphasis on passive acceptance - of the moment, our feelings, our instincts, our personalities, of other people - just as they are has eclipsed the older sense that how we are now is a transitory state: that today was meant to be a starting point, not a final destination.

The older view whispers that we really aren't wonderful just the way we are. Rather than jogging in place, we should strive to become something - someone - better. One can't help but wonder whether the rejection of striving - the notion that life isn't supposed to be such hard work - doesn't explain the sense of malaise and powerlessness that seems to have gripped the nation? This is certainly what the President keep telling us: you shouldn't have to work so hard. It's not fair that some people have more than others. Let us make things easier for you.

Except some things can't be done for (or given to) us. We have to earn them for ourselves:

Once, after having a 'discussion' with my husband, it occurred to me that in marriage outward behavior (i.e., our "form") was in many ways more important than (and may even at times play a role in determining) what both partners think to themselves privately. In other words, some times if we are not happy, it's because we've fallen into the habit of not acting happy. Correct the behavior and you correct the state of mind. Relationships are a bit of a feedback loop. In marriage, people tend to get sloppy and stop doing the nice things they did when they were courting. They take each other for granted. And all of a sudden, there is no positive feedback and they wonder where the 'magic' went? What they forgot was that the magic wasn't an externally created force: they had a role in creating it. If the flame dies out, you can re-ignite it.

Though Hamlet isn't one of our favorite plays, we've always been delighted by this exchange between the Danish princeling and Rosencrantz, who tries to reason with Hamlet's determination to dwell on the dark side:

HAMLET Denmark’s a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ Then is the world one.

HAMLET A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o' th' worst.

ROSENCRANTZ We think not so, my lord.

HAMLET Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ Why then, your ambition makes it one. 'Tis too narrow for your mind.

HAMLET O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams.

The riposte in the second to last line is both stinging and apt: if you see yourself in prison, perhaps you have made it your ambition to be so. The fault doesn't lie with you, Hamlet. The world is just too small and confining a place for someone of your intellect. It's all so unfair.

It's odd, this notion that encouraging people not to improve themselves should be viewed as empowering. The real empowerment lies in reminding people how much control we all have over our own lives.

Happiness is not a right. It's a responsibility, and sometimes very hard work.


Posted by Cassandra at 07:53 AM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

April 21, 2014

Good Enough for Women, Not Good Enough for Men?

In a rather bizarre response to an article asserting that "alpha" (don't get us started on how much we hate the whole alpha/beta/gamma shtick) women are better off marrying "beta" men who are willing to share child rearing and family duties, Glenn Reynolds asks, "What's in it for him?"

Hmmm. What could a man possibly get from being a more involved husband and father? It is hard to imagine, n'est pas?

What is "in it" for women who want to be an integral part of their children's formative years? Who put their marriages and families ahead of earning a big salary and the ego boost/social status that go with having an important sounding job title?

We can think of many possible benefits. The satisfaction of close family bonds and supporting the people you love is one. A strong, happy marriage another. The joy of watching the next generation grow up - of sharing the thrill of your child's first steps, the first bicycle ride with the training wheels off, elementary school band performances, soccer or baseball games, choosing a career or college, the thousand speed bumps on the road from infancy to childhood to the teen years and finally adulthood.

The never ending miracle of knowing - really knowing - your children as human beings; of watching their intellects and personalities develop over time. The glimpses of grandparents, aunts, and uncles (some of whom are no longer living) in your child's face, walk, or manner.

Of what possible value are these things, compared to being able to say you're the top dog by some arcane and frankly ridiculously competitive formula? Why is it so important to be the "alpha"; the winner, the best... even in your marriage?

If it is foolish and destructive for feminists to continually strive for perfect equality between the sexes, how much more foolish and destructive is it to question the value of being a better husband, a more involved father, a person who chooses to put home and family first in their list of life priorities?

The relentless obsession with hypergamy (even in the face of considerable evidence that women - and men, for that matter - are actually quite adaptable) seems more like insecurity than wisdom. Why not let people sort out for themselves what kind of lives and marriages will make them happiest instead of sneering at the freely made choices of people who don't share your priorities?

Or, to put Mollie Hemingway's question a bit differently, "Why are some men so insecure (that they have to put down other men's choices)?" This doesn't seem like a position of strength, rhetorically or philosophically.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:46 AM | Comments (36) | TrackBack

Happy Belated Easter


Sorry the blog princess is just now wishing you a happy Easter. She spent the weekend visiting with family. Getting out of the house for something not related to doctors or physical therapy was an unexpected blessing.

Hope the Easter bunny was good to you all...

... and that you found lots of delicious eggs:


Or if you didn't do an Easter egg hunt, that you found something fun to do:

Posted by Cassandra at 05:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 18, 2014

Caption Contest

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.

10.png

Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 12:59 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

Let The Judgement Begin - The Tax Man Cometh edition

I gotta admit that at first I wondered whether or not the real tax man might have most of y'all's attention this week, but apparently a monkey stealing a hubcap is a nice distraction...or a Freudian fantasy, who knows.
heh
But! I've old business to conduct, so a small reminder...
27.png
...and here come da judge..ment.

Kicking it off at number five is frequent flyer, who may have inadverdently stumbled upon the next *under-served minority*, with "Monkey's--doing the work that American's won't do."

Followed by CAPT Mike at number four with a thought that is shirley on many American's mind's right about now
What?
Stop your bitching!
.
it's all I could afford after taxes . . .

OBloodyHell channels his inner south Bronx tough guy at number three in this little monologue, "So's then I said, 'Like, I ony got 'ive bucks. What kinda ride can I get fer that?' an' then he sez, 'Well, lemme go back inna back and see', an he comes back wit', like, this stupid wheel cover from a Benz, and like, what could I say? At least I gots me a Benz."

And spd, who apparently is in between cases and therefore has plenty of time to spend playing video games, lands himself in second this week for Mario roared back into the race, leaving Chico to question his value as member of the Mercedes pit crew.

Bringing me to first place in the Tax Man Cometh edition - which also garners Obscure Movie Reference props - and YAG's - The IRS sends a trained agent to place a hubcap from Charles Koch's prized car into his bed.


Best Imitation of a Real AP Caption props for George Pal's,
CCTV captured this image of a critter running from the scene of the crime. Police officials say it matches descriptions of eyewitnesses who’d seen the same critter hanging about the Orion Township MI. car dealership where a dozen cars had been stripped of their tires and rims three weeks ago. Witnesses report having heard the critter muttering loudly as he ran ‘slowly, slowly, catchy monkey, MY ASS’. Profilers from the animal psych division at the FBI warned that the suspect should be considered psychologically harmed and dangerous.

And, finally, Obscure Song props go to YAG for Well, Lord, if you won't buy me a Mercedes-Benz, I guess I'll hafta do it myself.

Well, that's it for this week. Once again, as always, a fine job of snarkery. Congrats to this week's top five. Another pic will be forthcoming.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 06:31 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2014

Why Is Most Of Nevada Federally Owned Land?

One of the first questions that leapt out at the Editorial Staff when the Bundy Brouhaha began driving pretty much everyone on the Internet batsh** insane was, "Why in the heck is so much of Nevada federal property"? It's not that we didn't realize that a good deal of Nevada was federally owned, but over 80% seemed a tad bit excessive. Over at Grim's place, we've been arguing over land ownership concepts in the comments to an excellent post by Texan99, who comments:

I'm not often on the fence, but I can't bring much order to my thoughts about Cliven Bundy's Nevada standoff with the feds. He's an unsympathetic victim fighting an appalling machine. His cause fails to inspire me, and yet the following sentiment rings quite a bell...

I was curious about how the present state of affairs came to be, so I did a little Googling and came up with this useful post:

Where did the Federal Public Lands Come From?

...In 1848, the United States, following the Mexican-American war, purchased the land of what is now the southwestern part of the country from Mexico and paid $15 million. Present day Nevada and California were a part of that purchase along with Utah, most of Arizona, and the western portions of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico . By 1846 the United States had claimed the Oregon Territory -- modern day Washington, Oregon, and most of Idaho. The U.S. Army was called to defend the lands. The small population of these territories meant that the U.S. Army needed to draw its officers and soldiers from the established lands east of the Mississippi. Except for California, there were virtually no non-Indians in most of these lands. It was the U.S. government and the existing residents in the east who fought, purchased, and secured these lands for the United States.

...These purchases and claims by the people of the United States of western lands established federal ownership of those lands. Later as western states were admitted to the Union, State Constitutions acknowledged the federal role in acquiring the lands with the right and title to unappropriated public lands remaining with the United States. (Lands which had already been appropriated by private citizens or earlier granted from Mexico remained appropriated. Thus, the continuity of land owership for settlers remained intact.) Congress, then, has power over the public domain land and many laws passed by the Congress govern federal agencies responsible for management of the public land.

How did Settlement and Expansion Occur on the Federal Public Land ?

Laws were enacted by the Congress through the 19th and early 20th centuries to encourage the settlement of the western federal lands. Millions of acres of federal public lands were given to railroad companies to develop transportation routes and communities, to farmers and ranchers for agriculture, to miners for finding valuable minerals, and loggers for timber to build cities still in their infancy. The result was that most of the agricultural lands were appropriated directly from the Federal Government for private uses. Mineral wealth was appropriated for private uses directly from the Federal Government. Forested lands of high productivity were appropriated directly from the Federal Government for private uses. Federal Ownership was a key link in providing an orderly way for property to be acquired from both territories of the U.S. and from the states once admitted to the union.

We dimly remember learning some of this in US History classes in high school, but here's where things get really interesting:

How did Nevada differ in the Amount of Lands Acquired from the Federal Public Lands?

Upon admission states were given two sections of public land in each township for schools. Nevada, however, did not want those scattered "desert" lands. Instead Nevada petitioned Congress to trade those sections for 1 million acres of Sage land anywhere in the state. Congress ultimately granted Nevada a choice of any 2 million acres of unappropriated lands. Nevada selected 2 million acres of the best land (near or with water) and promptly sold all of it to private uses.

With the addition of a few facts and some history, this looks a whole lot less like evidence of Big Government Run Amok or oppression of helpless states and a lot more like a sensible scheme in which the federal government essentially made it possible for states to become established, attract settlers, and raise revenue.

Go figure. We were so hoping for a villain.

During our morning shower we had been idly wondering why no one had pressured the federal government to divest itself of all this glorious Nevadan land. Having lived in the desert a time or two, we suspected the answer might be something along the lines of, "No one wants it/no one is willing to pay the federal government for it."

Here's are two interesting maps. The first one shows the land ceded by Mexico to the US under the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo:

mexican_cession.jpg

The second shows how much federally owned land currently exists in each state:

map-owns_the_west.jpg

The interesting takeaway here to us is that a fairly frequent narrative on the right - that the states created the federal government, not the other way around - doesn't appear to be terribly accurate. We've been surprised (and somewhat horrified) at some of the arguments this case has provoked on the right, as well as at the power of a narrative to shape public opinion.

There are aspects of this case that powerfully appeal to the emotions. But we can't bring our ownself to endorse the notion that a private citizen operating a for-profit business has any kind of inalienable right to use publicly or privately owned lands free of charge. Nor does such an individual possess the right to pay a non-owner of the land (state or local government) monies properly due to the actual owner of the land (the federal government). But of all the things we've read, this excerpt from the last link in Tex's post best captures our position:

When can one refuse to obey the law without expecting to bring the whole thing down? Certainly such instances exist: I daresay that I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt?

The widely expressed opinion that to disapprove of any act of civil disobedience somehow equates to saying that no one may revolt or rebel, ever, no matter the provocation simply doesn't make any sense. It's the mother of all slippery slope arguments. The Founders clearly understood this, or they would not have written these words:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

When the federal government, as the lawful owner of real property, defends its right to dispose of that property as it will, this is not absolute Despotism. It's not even close.

We should take care with arguments that suggest property rights exist subject to claims by an individual that he or she is entitled to valuable goods, services, or access without obtaining permission from or providing compensation to the rightful owner. If we endorse such specious claims, what separates us from the Occupy crowd?

Posted by Cassandra at 07:13 AM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

April 16, 2014

Best. Op Ed. Ever.

By Bret Stephens of the WSJ. It was difficult to choose a favorite part to excerpt but we'll settle for this:

...what we need as the Republican nominee in 2016 is a man of more glaring disqualifications. Someone so nakedly unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of sane Americans that only the GOP could think of nominating him.

This man is Rand Paul, the junior senator from a state with eight electoral votes. The man who, as of this writing, has three years worth of experience in elected office. Barack Obama had more political experience when he ran for president. That's worked out well.

Or perhaps this:

When moderation on a subject like immigration is ideologically disqualifying, but bark-at-the-moon lunacy about Halliburton is not, then the party has worse problems than merely its choice of nominee.

*sigh*

The Halliburton jackwagonry worries us far less than the experience issue. We seem to have utterly lost the notion that the presidency of the United States is not an internship or an OJT opportunity for telegenic demagogues with no track record and no relevant experience.

Perhaps what we really need is some kind of Dancing with the Stars-type show. Or maybe we could elect our senior leaders via Facebook and the aptly-named Twitter. This wouldn't necessarily be any more insane than our current process.

Posted by Cassandra at 12:10 PM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

What Fools These "Adults" Be

Via V the K over at GayPatriot comes this delightful bit of didactical dimwittery (complete with misspellings!):

Part of a Sex Education Conference for Middle Schoolers brought to you by the State of Oregon and Planned Parenthood*

adolescent_sex_conference.jpg

When did sex ed morph from education about how our bodies work and the simple mechanics of birth control, pregnancy, and plumbing to actively encouraging kids to can have more (and better) sex with more people?

Good Lord.

The Editorial Staff are always torn on sex ed. On the one hand, most parents do a really lousy job of educating their own kids about the basics. Based on various conversations here at VC, we're not even sure most parents discuss the morals and ethics issues in any depth. So we are inclined to view sex ed as a good thing, so long as what is taught is factual in nature. People should understand how their own bodies work. We learn about frog anatomy, so human anatomy doesn't seem like inappropriate area of study. Girls should not reach adolescence without knowing the basics about menstruation and pregnancy. Likewise, having witnessed the turbulence puberty brought to our two sons' lives, we're inclined to think that leaving kids unprepared for the profound changes adolescence brings to their bodies and minds is just inexcusable.

Oddly, many conservatives have no problem with morals or values being brought into sex ed... so long as they are their morals or values. The push for abstinence education is a good example of this. And admittedly, abstinence is more appropriate for kids than pretending sex is some kind of morality-and-consequences-free zone.

Sex is something most adults don't handle terribly well. How or why anyone would expect children to handle it better than we do is one of those mysteries that passeth human understanding. Like most erstwhile "adult" activities, sex has significant risks associated with it (pregnancy, STDs, social stigma, bonding to the wrong person) that require both self control and thoughtful mitigation. Regardless of your values, seeing "adults" portray sex as just another inconsequential pastime that is just as appropriate for teens as it is for adults is - or ought to be - deeply disturbing.

But bringing vendors into the moral education aspect of sex ed seems downright perverse. Aren't for-profit corporations and Big Pharma supposed to be evil, heartless exploiters of the weak and disempowered? If so, why would any self respecting progressive let them within a mile of their kids?

Posted by Cassandra at 07:20 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 14, 2014

Caption Contest - The Tax Man Cometh Edition

All right, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.

27.png

Have it! And may the Farce be with you.
0>;~}

Posted by DL Sly at 01:02 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

April 12, 2014

Let The Judgement Begin - April Fool's Double Secret Probation Edition

Well, that was fun. Unkle Joe and company never fail to bring out the smartass in all of you. Granted, they so deserve it...
heh

So, a small reminder of our first April Fools...
DWS II.png
...and we're off like a herd of turtles with old business and the judgement.

Kicking it off is htom at number three with - I was this close to Koni!

afe finds himself in second for - . . . and then I was all like "You better get of Crimea, Vladimir, or there will be GRAVE CONSEQUENCES!", and you should have seen him quake with fear when he saw I meant bidness.

And YAG wins this first Double Secret Probation judgement (it may give him immunity at some point in the future for something I'm not sure of....orrr it may not) for -
DWS: Then I told him is payment would go down by *this* much?
BO: And he bought it? Those rubes will believe anything!

Well done, gentlemen! (And I use the term loosely.)
0>;~}

Just like Groundhog Day, this Judgement continues with the small reminder...

CropTool_1396654967069.jpeg

And part deux finds YAG starting us off at number five with - Joe Biden taunts former VP candidate Paul Ryan on the lack of a planet named after him.

With a side notation by spd at four - But John soon regretted smoking that dooobie before the show.

htom takes the bronze for - Joe Biden emphasizes the President's "Gotcha" promise.

George Pal claims the silver for this subliminal entry - Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A rictal horror-movie clown, a Rose Garden lawn jockey, and a Madame Tussaud exhibit walk into a joint session of Congress...

And Grim grabs the gold for himself (when he gets back) for this gem - Biden celebrates as the President meets the over/under on the "Let me be clear" betting pool.

Well, that's it, villains.
Congrats to the winners!
A new picture will be forthcoming.

Posted by DL Sly at 07:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Dreams

Hey pretty baby, doncha know it's not my fault
Love to hear the steel belts humming on the asphalt...

Usually the Blog Princess does not remember her dreams upon waking. Given some of the dreams she has had over the past week, that is probably a good thing.

But this morning she woke out of a very deep sleep and remembered everything. She was walking up the side of an enormous sand dune in the desert. As far as the eye could see, there was nothing but hard packed sand with those little s-shaped curves carved into the surface by the wind.

It was sunny and warm. From where I stood near the top of the biggest dune, I could see for miles and miles. A few of the other dunes had someone standing on them too. They were so far away they looked like specks.

I was dressed in white Elvis suit, and as I walked slowly to the top of the dune every so often a wolf would make a run at me, snarling and snapping. Obviously, there was only one sane course of action: I began to do the Twist. Just as the wolf got near I would freeze in mid-twist with both fingers pointing at him.

Wolves find this sort of thing very disconcerting...

I think it's the sunglasses. They don't like it when they can't see your eyeballs.

Posted by Cassandra at 01:51 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

This Is Cool

The first of four total lunar eclipses will begin the night of Apr. 14th for North America, who will be sitting in the catbird seat for this event.

First lunar eclipse of 2014 viewing range.png

And will last into the early hours of the 15th...tax day for most of America....kohh-inky-den-tally, this moon is traditionally called a Blood Moon.

Blood moon.png

As if there would be any other kind for that day.

At 3:06 a.m. EDT, the eclipse will reach totality, but sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the moon. At this time, the moon, if viewed with binoculars or a small telescope, will present the illusion of seemingly glowing from within by its own light.

[snip]

Throughout history, eclipses have inspired awe and even fear, especially when total lunar eclipses turned the moon blood-red, an effect that terrified people who had no understanding of what causes an eclipse and therefore blamed the events on this god or that.

Somehow I don't think it'll be the moon that'll be instilling the most fear on that day, although it may indeed be an omen.
0>;~}

Posted by DL Sly at 11:50 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 09, 2014

Interesting....

Apparently, Pep comics has decided that it's time to kill off Archie.

Archie and the gang.png

Now I, like Basil over at IMAO, was never much of a comic book reader. However, Archie comics were one that I did read with more regularity than any other, even going so far as having an Archie lunchbox to carry to school.
Archie lunchbox.png
So this is a somewhat poignant moment for the Dark Side. However, not poignant enough as to not shamelessly "borrow" Basil's game.
0>;~]
So, were you to choose a comics character to kill off, which one would it be?

Posted by DL Sly at 05:06 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

A Quick Note

The Princess came through surgery just fine. The proceedure went as expected without any complications or surprises for the surgeon. She is home resting and sleeping.

Posted by DL Sly at 01:05 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

April 08, 2014

It's A Miracle!

Doctors in the US have discovered a way that may one day help paralyzed patients recover....as in walk again.

Four paralysed men have been able to move their legs for the first time in years after electrical stimulation of their spinal cords, US doctors report.

They were able to flex their toes, ankles and knees - but could not walk independently.

[snip]

A team at the University of Louisville and the University of California have been pioneering electrical stimulation of the spinal cord below the injury.

Three years ago they reported that Rob Summers - a keen baseball player who was paralysed from the chest down in a hit-and-run car accident - was able to move his legs while supported on a treadmill.

Now three more patients, who had been paralysed for at least two years, have gone through the procedure and regained some movement.

They were able to control their legs at a precise pace and all but one of them were able to control the force of the movement.

It confirms that function can be restored after paralysis and that Mr Summers' case was not a one-off.

One of the researchers, Dr Claudia Angeli from the University of Louisville, told the BBC: "They will tell you that the stimulation itself and being able to practise and move around makes them feel a lot better, some of them will just describe it as feeling alive again."

The Dark Lord was born into a world with an uncle who was paralyzed from his mid-biceps down as the result of a car accident when he was but a young pup of 18. At the time, late 40's, he was given less than 18 months to live. He outlasted that prediction by over 50 years when age and complications from his extended paralysis finally brought an end to his well-lived life. Still, I can't help but think how much more he could have experienced had he not been trapped in a chair or bed, and it elates me to no end that his may one day not be the fate of others.

Posted by DL Sly at 01:37 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

April 06, 2014

Fair Winds and Following Seas

Guarding the Gates of Heaven.png

Gen. Carl. Mundy, the Marine Corps' 30th Commandant, has gone to his new post guarding the gates of Heaven.

"A statement from the Mundy family:

WASHINGTON – Nine months ago the Mundy family experienced the loss of our beloved mother, Linda. Last Wednesday our father, retired Gen. Carl E. Mundy, Jr, followed her. While a distinguished Marine and public figure, Gen. Mundy was first and foremost a loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Sadly, several months ago he was afflicted by Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer that proved too resistant to overcome. In his final days, he drew comfort from, and expressed heartfelt gratitude for, the hundreds who called and sent a steady stream of cards, letters, and emails. When he was no longer able to do so, we read to him these thoughts, prayers, and special anecdotes as joyous reminders of the people in his life. We would like everyone to know that in confronting death, he modeled the courage, grace, charm and effortless sense of humor that characterized his life.

His children cannot thank everyone enough for the heartfelt support they have received over the past year, especially in these last several weeks. The thoughts and prayers of so many have sustained the entire Mundy family as we faced our father’s final challenge together.

While we appreciate that there may be further media interest regarding our father, this is the Mundy family’s only public statement. We sincerely request that you respect our privacy and allow us to deal with this difficult time in solitude."

MH served under Commandant Mundy and believed him to be, "One of the 'good' ones." High praise from a man who does not say such lightly. From the Dark Side to the Mundy family go our sincerest condolences for the loss of their father, grandfather, great-grandfather and a real "Marine's" Marine.
Semper Fi.

Tip o' the Stetson: The Daily Caller

Posted by DL Sly at 12:09 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 04, 2014

Caption Contest - April Fool's Edition part deux

This just dropped into my inbox from the VES, and I couldn't let it sit. Besides, with the impending dearth of posting from our beloved Princess - and knowing I can in no way, shape or form hold a candle to her in the serious posting department (I was hired for comic relief and the fact that I'll always fly if someone else buys) - another picture for y'all to snarkify ain't a bad thing.
So, without further ado...

CropTool_1396654967069.jpeg

I will be judging both contests separately, so have at 'em, villains.
May the Farce be with you.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 09:33 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack

Friday Odds And Ends

Starting the fourth month of 2014. Wow, time flies when you're having rum. Of course, up here the election season is in full swing (hence the need for rum) due to the fact that Montana is one of the battleground states for the Senate. I, however, have managed to miss the majority of the commercials, so far.
This is a good thing.
I know it won't last, though, as I'll be watching more tv now that baseball season has started. But! and this is a big but (no, not that big butt), I'll be watching Georgia ads instead of the locals, because I watch the Braves on their channels.
heh
Still, you can't avoid it all all the time, because there are those in this country for whom the desire to control the narrative has become an all-consuming obsession to control every aspect of not just their lives, but every other citizen as well. And when many such people can be found in prominence on, and/or in control of, many of the major media sources within the country, not only can you not avoid them for long, but they've also become a potential, and considerable, threat to anyone that dares think otherwise.
Especially if you're a Republican Senator from Texas.

"Othering is a way of defining and securing one’s own positive identity through the stigmatization of an “other.” Whatever the markers of social differentiation that shape the meaning of “us” and “them,” whether they are racial, geographic, ethnic, economic or ideological, there is always the danger that they will become the basis for a self-affirmation that depends upon the denigration of the other group."

What follows is a small, yet disgusting sample of what one person - yes, a politician, yes, a Rethuglican, yes, even a Texan, but still an American citizen - endures simply for having the *audacity* to disagree with the Kollektive.
Ace put summed it up nicely.
"But Progressives have decided, collectively, to just treat their fellow Americans as the dehumanized Other 24/7. Not just before an election, mind you, but every single day of every single year.

And they do so while chanting "No H8," their limited intellects, conditioned by those who manipulate them into hatred, not capable of seeing the irony."

It's enough to make me drink...

f9c73d8964e6d2a62a938c045692341230ec1ae8_1.jpg

Amongst the many feeds and bookmarks the Dark Lord has on her computer are several written by people who not hold conservative values, but also have black skin...well, there are a couple who are more brown than black, but I digress...
While they are all fine writers, I also appreciate the articles they find by other people with black skin. It's a reassurance to know that there are many such people in this country who value hard work; duty to God, family and country before themselves; and many other conservative/responsible values that I share. For the longest time after the selection of Xerxes I worried about the tribalism he would try to bring about, and I'm sad to say my hunch was spot on. However, slowly, quietly, some people with black skin began to speak out against what they see as the wrong direction not only for their country, but also for others with black skin.
This young woman, for instance, has written a post/article/editorial that I would never have found were it not for my feed from Kevin Jackson's The Black Sphere.

"Recently, many black people have questioned my blackness. Apparently, for some, I’m not black enough.

But, what makes the claim so bogus to me is that our bi-racial president has been accepted as black by the black masses, even though his mother is white and he was raised by his white grandparents.

Some people have said what makes a person black is “the struggle.” What struggle, I ask? What more does Obama know about struggle than me? For a very brief time he lived in Indonesia, but, even in Indonesia, he lived a fairly comfortable life.

Here, in America, he has lived a privileged life, gone to top notch schools and colleges—and he hasn’t even spent enough time around black people to pick up, as one Democratic politician put it, a so-called “negro dialect.”

I, on the other hand, know a little bit about struggle. My family was poor by America’s standards, as were many other black, white, Hispanic, and “other” families that I know. We didn’t have many luxuries. We just had the basics. My family had been on food stamps before there was such thing as an EBT card. For years, we received our monthly allotment of government cheese, rice, boxed potato flakes, powdered milk, and dry cereal from our government taskmasters, in exchange for a small slice of our privacy and a big chunk of our dignity.

I know a little bit about struggle. I’ve lived in crime-ridden and poor Rochester, N.Y. neighborhoods. For those who are familiar with the area, I have lived on both the east side and the west side.

What does Obama know about the likes of Treyer St., Fourth St., Hoeltzer St., Clifford Ave., Flint St., Bronson Ave., Jefferson Ave., St. Simons Terrace, Fight Square, Fight Village, and Orleans St.? Those were my hoods.

I know a little about struggle. I’ve endured both racial and gender-based discrimination.

I’ve been sexually harassed, disrespected, spit upon, and called names.

I know something about struggle.

So, if I have the same sufferings and struggles of other blacks in America, why is my blackness in question?"

Please go read the rest for she asks a very important question for today's *conversation about skin color* - yes, I refuse to say "race" because the person with black skin, brown skin, slanted eyes, curly hair or predominate nose is part of the same Human race as the Dark Lord.
However, there is another question standing over in the corner of this conversation that nobody is willing to ask: Why is it that only people with black skin can talk about what's gone wrong within their community? No one seems to have a problem telling any of the sub-section of white communities what color to crap and how high to jump at the latest perceived *dog whistle*. This country belongs to every American, and having a statistically small community so predominately represented in crime, poverty, unemployment and drug statistics should be of concern to everyone in the country - not a skeleton in the closet that only those with black skin, the self-annointed, self-righteous or the previously mentioned enemediantic sycophants are allowed to pull out and dust off when it suits their agenda du jour.

Posted by DL Sly at 06:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Caption Contest - April Fool's Edition

Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.

DWS II.png


Have at 'em, and may the Farce be with you.
0>;~]

Posted by DL Sly at 01:30 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Let The Judgement Begin

This is getting fun. I'm starting to think y'all could come up with several good captions for even the weirdest pictures I have in my folders. And we may very well find out over the course of time.
heh
A small reminder of last week's picture...,
25.png
...and on to old business and the judgement.

Kicking off the top 10 is new-comer KissMass who prophesizes
What Hillary thinks her chances of winning in the back ground.
Reality of winning in the foreground, complete with underoos.

htom provides the campaign slogan at number nine with Mom, do I have to wear my Under-Alls?

In the eight hole is frequent flyer with a preview of the in-flight movie In a scene right out of Austin Powers Fat Bastard reprises the famous line--"get in my belly!"

spd is feeling crafty at lucky numba seven Looking about, he quickly spotted a soiled bar towel, a bottle of mouthwash, a bowl of clotted yak milk, and 43 rolls of flocked raspberry wallpaper, just what young Master MacGyver needed for the giant's big surprise.

And George Pal winds up the first half with The consortium NippoMitsuHondaSumi demonstrate Japan’s miniaturization technology dwarfs the West’s.

Leading off the top five is the return of spd rdr with a nostalgic grin for any Kung Fu Theatre fan "Happy birthday, Bruce", said Mr. Lee, smiling.

KissMass also makes a return, not bad for a newbie, (hint hint: those who have been holding back because the don't think they're "good enough") at number four with an all-too-realistic analogy NSA reveals "Big Brother".

Reminding us of alter ego's past is afe at number three with Bhapu was forced to avert his gaze from the often mentioned, but never before seen, legendary ginormous codpiece of his opponent.

Garnering not only second place, but also Major Movie Reference props this week is YAG for this classic:
Little Guy: I must admit, you are better than me.
Big Guy: Then why are you smiling?
Little Guy: Because I know something you do not know!
Big Guy: Really? And what is that?
Little Guy: That *I* am not left handed!

And, finally, pulling into port at the head of the fleet is CAPT Mike for Obama v Putin.

Well, that's it for this contest, villains. Another picture is forthcoming.

Posted by DL Sly at 10:02 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 03, 2014

The Morning Commute

Posted by Cassandra at 08:37 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

None Dare Call It "Targeting"

Except that's precisely what everyone - from the Treasury Dept IG to the IRS Commissioner - have been calling it. Except, of course, when they want you to think otherwise:

The May 2013 report by Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Russell George is titled “Inappropriate Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review.” In the report, he states that, in response to concerns expressed by members of Congress, an investigation was launched:
The overall objective of this audit was to determine whether allegations were founded that the IRS: 1) targeted specific groups applying for tax‑exempt status, 2) delayed processing of targeted groups’ applications, and 3) requested unnecessary information from targeted groups.
What did the inspector general conclude? “The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax‑exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention,” the report said.

You can see the IG is engaged in a delicate balancing act here. On the one hand, he uses the terms preferred by members of Congress to describe the investigation. But then he reverts to bland bureaucratic phrasing in his conclusions. He uses this same formula in his written testimony.

But what happened when George actually spoke before Congress about his report? Here are two examples from his testimony on May 22, 2013:

The three allegations considered during our review were proven true. The IRS targeted specific groups applying for tax-exempt status. It delayed the processing of these groups’ applications, and requested unnecessary information, as well as subjected these groups to special scrutiny.”

“The inappropriate criteria discussed in this audit were the IRS’s targeting for review Tea Party and other organizations based on their names or policy positions, a practice started in 2012, and which was not fully corrected until May 2012. Actually the practice was started in 2010 and not fully corrected until May of 2012.”

Note that George said the three allegations were “proven true.” The allegations all concerned “targeting.” And then he actually used the word. He even said that the “inappropriate criteria” was defined as the “IRS’s targeting.”

Moreover, Koskinen himself uttered “targeting” before he arrived at the IRS, during his confirmation hearings in December, even though he told Congress in March that he had never used the phrase:

“I think as the president responded and everyone responded to the extent that the facts show that conservative groups or liberal groups or any groups were targeted because of their political positions when they made applications,” he said in response to a question from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.). “That really is intolerable.”

Was the phrase so toxic that it was wiped from his lexicon once he arrived at the IRS? Perhaps. But an instant report issued by his predecessor, Daniel Werfel, on June 24, 2013, also used the phrase “targeting”. (See Page 9.)

Personnel in the Exempt Organizations (EO) unit applied inappropriate screening criteria to applicants for tax exempt status, creating BOLO listings that resulted in the improper targeting of a number of applicants for additional scrutiny.

Kind of gives new meaning to the term "mealy mouthed".

Posted by Cassandra at 08:13 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

April 02, 2014

Hump Day Jam

From my favorite band, ever:

Saved the best for last:

Posted by Cassandra at 07:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Putting the "Duh" in In-duh-vidualism

Why yes (since you asked) - it really *is* all about you:

If you’re a parent, you’ve probably gotten the dreaded call from the school nurse, letting you know that your child has lice. It happened to our older daughter in kindergarten, and then again two years later when our youngest was in the same grade. Each head lice infestation was a mini nightmare: a work and school day lost to early pickup, chemical shampoos, vacuuming, and endless combing for nits (eggs). The days after, spent worrying that a stray louse might mean another call from the nurse and another day out of school. And that call always came: Your daughter has lice again. She’ll be waiting for you in the office. Last year we spent a couple hundred dollars on a professional lice remover, just because we could no longer face the hours every night we needed to spend nit-picking.

Our experience was not uncommon (though not everyone is crazy enough to call Lice Happens’ 24-hour “LiceLine”). At many schools, any discovery of live lice in a child’s hair warrants a phone call and the immediate removal of the child from school. At some schools, the child may return the next day if the parents have treated the child’s hair—that is, shampooed it to kill live lice. But in schools with “no-nit” policies, a child can’t return unless every last tiny louse egg has been combed from her hair—and schools may check returning students and send them home if any nits are found.

But then, this fall, everything changed. The schools here in Arlington, Va., have adopted what you might call a live-and-let-lice policy. No child will be sent home for lice or for nits. If a child has lice in her hair, the nurse will contact parents but send the child back to the classroom for the rest of the day. Parents are expected to treat the lice, but no one is checking in to enforce this expectation. No classes or groups will be screened for bugs. “No healthy child,” the policy reads, “should be excluded from or miss school because of head lice.”

Watching the author get schooled in the comments is arguably one of the most satisfying experiences we can recall in our long history of online bloviation:

This makes no sense.

"If you have a kid, the odds are very high that they've had lice."

::a few paragraphs later::

"Lice are so hard to get!"

and...

My kids keep getting infested with lice every month or so from an elementary school. The no lice, no nits policy makes sense. And if they would have that rule in my kids' school, I wouldn't have to go through lice clean up every 4 to 6 weeks. It IS easy to get it. And it is such a huge PITA to clean up. And my kids have open sores on their heads from scratching. So, it does actually have a medical impact. I really want to just go clean every kid in the class and their houses for them to stop the infestations.

In the early 80s when our progeny were just starting school, we car pooled with several neighbors who had daughters with long hair. Lice were a terrible problem for them. Having two boys with very short hair, we were lucky enough never to have to worry about lice (though we too spent many hours checking their heads).

Kids sit right next to each other on the school bus or in carpools. Several times we watched them spread from one child to another. Though our boys never got them, we still had to clean our car thoroughly to stop the cycle of reinfection. And our neighbors did everything in their power to deal with a problem they didn't create, both for the sake of their own children and so that no one else would have to go through what someone else had inflicted upon them.

What on earth gets into people like this? Parasitic infestations are not an alternative lifestyle choice.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:43 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

April 01, 2014

Skin Care Tips from Planet Biden

Men of VC, take note.

The Vice President, whose recent induction into the elite ranks of Famous People With Planets Named After Them made so many loser celebrities feel bad about themselves, has finally decided to come clean with the nation on the secret behind his peaches and cream complexion:

Joe Biden has admitted that he maintains his youthful complexion with facial products from Clinique.

The Vice President taped an episode of the Rachel Ray Show today to promote Obamacare enrollment and said that his wife Dr Jill Biden got him to start using the SPF creams.

'On Jill’s instructions about five years ago she said I should use Clinique. And there’s a men’s version that has SPF 20, she was worried about my face. So I do whatever Jill tells me,' he said of his wife, who holds a doctorate in education.

In these times of shared sacrifice and responsibility, it makes us feel positively empowered to see our nation's leaders are willing to pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of ObamaCare:

After President Barack Obama got to do “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis in the White House push to get young people to sign up for health coverage, Vice President Joe Biden was dispatched to talk to their mothers on The “Rachael Ray Show” in an interview that aired Monday.

Mr. Biden became the latest top administration official to subject himself to awkward ribbing in exchange for a chance to pitch the health law, telling Ms. Ray about his skincare regime.

Ms. Ray, who said she met the vice president a few months ago at the White House, asked what she characterized as a sensitive question. “You have the most glowing, perfect skin of any person I’ve ever seen. I really want to know what moisturizer you use. I love moisturizers!” Mr. Biden said he uses a men’s Clinique that has SPF 20.

She also asked the vice president whether he still has time to participate in April Fool’s Day, which is Tuesday. Mr. Biden said a few years ago he was boarding his vice presidential plane, dubbed Air Force Two, and wondering where his wife, Jill Biden, was. “We get on Air Force Two, we’re flying and I‘m saying ‘Where the hell is Jill and I open up the baggage compartment on top, above ya know, and she jumps out of the compartment! This is the second lady of the United States of America and jumping out of the overhead baggage compartment.”

He was allowed to make his hard sell, though. “Today’s the deadline and I think everyone is going to be really surprised and pleased how well this has turned out,” he said. “Anybody who is in line now, anybody who is on the web, in person being interviews and/or on the telephone they are able to even if the deadline closes to stay in line. They can get into the system… Get in the queue now. Get in the queue – there’s still time today,” he said.

Next up, the Secretary of State shares his experiences with Botox.

Get in the queue, gentlemen. The Clinique queue. You know you want to.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:16 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Great Moments in Scientific Journalism

Surely the Editorial Staff can't be the only ones who found this sentence amusing:

...thankfully, the prestigious journal PNAS found this research sufficiently compelling to publish in its gilded pages.

Since we're doing double entendre with a half twist of lemon this morning, this just seems like gilding the willy:

Holly Wilson: About a year ago, I was at a gallery where I had made a contract to show my work. We’d worked out an agreement where I’d get two-thirds of the commission when I sold a piece, and the gallery would get the rest. The opening went really well. I sold a beautiful bronze piece. But when I came back to the gallery the next day, they wanted to revise the arrangement. All of a sudden, they wanted to split the commission 50/50. I had this sinking feeling. I’ve been casting bronze for 20 years, but it was clear that the gallery didn’t value what I was doing and that it treated me like I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t breathe. My knees were shaking. I was just insanely mad. I called my husband and said, “What would you do in this situation?” and he said, “I would hold my own.” I realized that if I only had a dick, the gallery wouldn’t be doing this to me. The only thing coming between me and the man across the table was the fact that I didn’t have a dick. Slate: Now, you can whip it out of your pocket and say, “Here it is.”

Wilson: To be clear, I’m not slapping it on the table or threatening people with my tiny dick. It’s more about reminding ourselves that the only reason we’re being devalued is because of this ridiculous appendage we don’t have. That day, the only thing in my pocket was a stick of ChapStick, and I put my hand in my pocket and held on to that ChapStick while I stuck up for myself through the negotiation. I made a joke about it to my husband: I told him I should have a little bronze dick that I could put in my pocket, so I could hold on to the little dick whenever I had trouble. Though there’s humor there, there’s also real statement—wow, here’s what’s been keeping me from this job, this thing right here in my hand. Bringing your dick to the table has more to do with yourself. It’s not going to change a gallery owner’s opinion of me, but it could remind me that I am good enough and deserve to be sitting at that table.

And you know this only happened because you're a woman how, exactly? How self absorbed does a person have to be to think that unscrupulous businesses never try to take advantage of men? If the only way you can convince yourself that agreements should be honored (or that you deserve to be treated fairly) is to pretend you have a penis, wethinks the real sexism problem lies in your own mind.

If only there were a political movement, whose aim it was to empower women to stand on their own two feet and respect themselves instead of continually demanding that other people value them!

UPDATE: Unrelated, except that it involves Scientists bravely exploring the Multiverse so you don't have to. Beer: is there anything it can't do?

Beer-bathed pork formed fewer potentially cancerous chemicals than non-marinaded pork when grilled close to hot charcoal in a recent experiment by Portuguese and Spanish chemists.

Black beer, like a stout or porter, proved more effective than pilsners at preventing the formation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), worrisome chemicals formed in smoked and grilled fatty meats. The European Union regulates levels of PAHs as potential carcinogens, following concerns raised in a 2002 report by the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Food.

You're welcome, Sly :p

Posted by Cassandra at 08:02 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

President *

And the media wonder why the "global community" doesn't take American power seriously:

Today, a one-question Obamacare quiz:

Monday (a) is or (b) isn't the final day Americans can sign up for the first year of Obamacare coverage.

OK, that was too easy. The answer is, of course, (b). After a flurry of Obamacare delays (38 by The Wall Street Journal's count) and innumerable rules changes, Monday isn't the final day that Americans can sign up for Obamacare.

No matter what the law says.

No matter that Obama administration officials have vowed for months not to extend this deadline. Most notably: Not three weeks ago, on March 12, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before a congressional committee that the administration absolutely, positively would not extend this deadline for people to sign up.

Uh-huh. Thus, the asterisk in our headline. The whole law should carry an asterisk.

This is one of the first things parents learn: if you're constantly issuing threats and edicts but never follow through on them, your kids learn that rules don't mean anything and stop listening to you.

Why should they? Everyone knows there will be no adverse consequences. You folks had better shape up, or Obama will put us all in Time Out. Or issue another sternly worded reprimand.

He really means it, this time.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:48 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack