Friday, September 30, 2011

News Flash!

New Scandal at DOJ as Illegal Guitars End Up in Hands of Mexican Drug Lords.

The indispensable Iowahawk reports.

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Chris Christie" reacts to the lame Republican field of candidates

That's a pretty entertaining job of channelling, that is.

My favorite line is addressed to Rick Perry: “If you’re a Tea Partyer, I’m a ballet dancer.”

By the way, I keep forgetting to make a Note to Self: you know the airheaded nutcase that Sarah-haters so desperately want to convince themselves Gov. Palin is? Well, she turns out not to be a myth after all, only her name is Michelle Bachmann.

What it sounds like when a real scientist talks

As opposed, that is, to some cult-member babbling about how "the science is settled" on the basis of computer models that consistently fail to produce accurate predictions.

Michio Kaku (HT: Insty) on the news that an experiment at CERN might -- emphasis on might -- have disproved Einstein's declaration that nothing can move faster than the speed of light:
Reputations may rise and fall. But in the end, this is a victory for science. No theory is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.

Except for global warming, of course. If you doubt THAT, you might as well doubt the Holocaust. Because the scientific consensus is that the science is settled. After all, the IPCC says so, and who could possibly doubt the competency or intellectual integrity of an arm of the United Nations? You ignorant redneck climate-change denier, you. Shut up in the presence of your intellectual superiors. I mean, you probably don't even know what hoi polloi means; how dare you presume to have your own opinion about Matters of Science?

Well, sarcasm is rarely attractive; so I'll turn it off. But my serious point is this: it is one thing to be opposed to science. It is another thing entirely to doubt soi-disantes Scientists. The one is a methodology and a mindset of humility and intellectual integrity and a rigorous approach to the investigation of material causality and a deep distrust of the subconscious motives even of people who seem to themselves to be honest and impartial, and it is impossible for anybody to have a greater respect for everything that an Oxford don of 1910 would have meant by the term "science" than I have. The other is a self-anointed, credential-based priesthood. The more respect you have for science, the less respect you can have for what presents itself today as the Scientific Community. I just try to imagine what Richard Feinman would say to the Al Gores of the world who appear seriously to believe that "peer-reviewed article" and "independently reproducible experimental result" are interchangeable...[smiles while relishing the imaginary scene] wow, would that ever be a fun tongue-lashing to listen in on.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

An outstanding explanation

This is a magnificent example of good communicating skills. There has been lots of discussion about why the United States had its credit downgraded, and whether it should have, and whose fault it is. And you all, Gentle Readers, have heard the numbers being tossed around about the debt, the deficit, budget cuts, etc. -- and it probably hasn't made much impact because all the discussion is in terms of numbers with vapor trails of zeroes after them.

So some folks in Gainesville decided to help us all understand. Their suggestion is quite simple:

1. Knock ten zeroes off all the numbers.

2. Now pretend that we're talking about your next-door neighbors' household budget, and ask yourself whether, if you loaned them any money, you would really expect to get your money back.

Here's the story, and the numbers. Your neighbors -- call them "Sam and Diane" -- are in debt. They just spent a couple of months in a bitter argument because they had bills coming due that they couldn't pay, and Sam was saying, "We have to pay this bills so let's use the credit card," while Diane was saying, "I agree that we have to pay the bills, and that we'll have to use the credit card, but before I sign off on that you have to agree to start getting our spending under control." And it took them two months to agree on how much they would cut their spending before piling more money on the credit card. Now here are the numbers from their household budget (remember, these are the actual U.S. budget figures, just divided by 100,000,000):

Annual family income: $21,700.
Money the family has spent so far this year: $38,200.
New debt on the credit card: $16,500.
Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710.

And the amount of budget cuts that Sam agreed to after the two-month battle with Diane?

Budget cuts: $385.

Now, do YOU think Sam and Diane will ever pay off that credit card debt? Do YOU think these two have a hope in hell of avoiding bankruptcy? Would YOU loan these two any money? And if you did, would you be able to tell me with a straight face that you expected them to pay you back? Would YOU be happy with ME if you had asked me, "Are these guys reliable?" and I said, "Oh, yeah, they're Triple-A, your money is safe," and then after you loaned them the money you saw that set of budget figures? And if Sam were running around telling all his friends, "It's that crazy bitch Diane's fault that our credit rating is bad, because she tried to make me promise to start getting spending under control before running up more credit card debt when all that really mattered was making sure people knew our bills would be paid this month -- if she had just agreed to run up the credit card further without making all that fuss about it our credit rating would still be golden" -- if Sam told you that, would you agree with him or would you laugh in his face?

And now you understand the Standard and Poor's downgrade. The only difficult thing, actually, is understanding why ANY credit ratings agency would give Sam Obama and Diane Boehner -- or, more fundamentally, the genius voters who elected them -- a AAA credit rating.

HT: Carrie Lucas.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Smitten by pessimism

I'm seeing a Landry interception coming here...

UPDATE, a couple of days later: Well, it wasn't an interception from the endzone, just an incompletion, which (given my low expectations) earned a huge sigh of relief from yours truly. And of course in the end OU survived Florida, and there was a lot of stuff on the web about how Landry Jones had come up big in the fourth quarter. I give him full marks for keeping his composure on the last touchdown drive.

But my fundamental concern is still there -- both his interceptions were "Romos," to employ the highly useful new quarterbacking statistic inspired by the current Cowboys' QB. Jones spent most of the game coming up short (including, quite literally, on the final touchdown pass, which he woefully underthrew) and was bailed out by a much-improved running game and by a surprisingly ferocious defense. I still think that in any big game the Sooners play this year, they will have to overcome a couple of Romos on the part of their quarterback, and therefore I don't see them winning the national championship.

But I will grant that he didn't wilt completely under the pressure of a Big Road Game, which is a major advance on previous versions of Landry Jones; so well done on that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What? Dr. Conan T. Barbarian didn't have tenure?

Now this was an English professor whose classes might actually have been worth attending. Or, well, considering that MSNBC adds a critical piece of information omitted by the Irish Times, maybe not: "[Dr. Barbarian's] stated classroom policy is to crucify students who cheat or show weakness."

The full text from the picture:
Long Room Hub Associate Professor in Hyborian Studies and Tyrant Slaying.

Dr Conan T. Barbarian was ripped from his mother's womb on the corpse-strewn battlefields of his war-torn homeland, Cimmeria, and has been preparing for academic life ever since. A firm believer in the dictum that "that which does not kill us makes us stronger," he took time out to avenge the death of his parents following a sojourn pursuing his strong interest in Post-Colonial theory at the Sorbonne. In between, he spent several years tethered to the fearsome "Wheel of Pain", time which he now feels helped provide him with the mental discipline and sado-masochistic proclivities necessary to sucessfully tackle contemporary critical theory. He completed his PhD, entitled "To Hear The Lamentation of Their Women: Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Zamoran Literature" at UCD and was appointed to the School of English in 2006, after sucessfully decapitating his predecessor during a bloody battle which will long be remembered in legend and song. In 2011/12, he will be teaching on the following courses: "The Relevance of Crom in the Modern World", "Theories of Literature", "Vengeance for Beginners", "Deciphering the Riddle of Steel" and "D.H. Lawrence". He strongly objects to the terms of the Croke Park agreement and the current trend for remaking 1980s films that he believes were perfectly good enough in the first place.

He is happy to hear from potential research students with an interest of any of these topics, but applicants should note that anyone found guilty of academic misconduct or weakness in the face of the enemy will be crucified as an example to the others.


You can see the actual page, complete with Dr. Barbarian's staff photo, here (hat tip to Meg Gardiner, who adds, "As the daughter of an English professor, I can attest that academic battles fully deserve to be memorialized through epic poetry and ululation").

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Excuse me while I go rename my home wi-fi network

This is brilliant!

HT: Failblog.

Well, as long as we're basing our snark on allusions to classics...'s hard to beat Bernie Marcus's ad-lib line from an MSNBC interview last year, when he was explaining why Team Obama's optimism about the economy was catastrophically misguided: "Geithner does to small business people what Debbie did to Dallas."

A year later, back on MSNBC and reminiscing about the aftermath of that ad-lib, he muses ruefully, "I got a lot of heat for that. My wife said, 'When did you watch that film??' I got in trouble."

(That interview is well worth watching, by the way. HT: Ace.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Altering an Edgar Allan Poe quote in order to apply it to Obama... can only conclude that Obama is an ass, which is my private opinion, and which I now take the liberty of making public.

(The only point of this post is so that I can go nominate myself on President Healing and Civility's "" website.)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Snark of the day

Instapundit addresses the President...

"Message to the Obama Administration: Atlas Shrugged was meant as a cautionary tale, not a freaking how-to manual."

And you thought Ron White was kidding

It's a bad thing when cops are both incompetent and armed -- the wrong people die. "What is notable is that, as reports, eight officers firing 73 bullets at one shooter managed to hit him only twice." (HT: Insty.)

I'm irresistibly reminded of Ron White's rant about the incompetence of Los Angeles police officers (the following is profanity-edited for family blogging purposes):
...they're some of the worst shots I've ever seen in my life. I saw a shootout once live on TV that went on so long eventually the criminal got frustrated and just shot himself. And the cops are on TV whinin' about it, too; they're like, "He's got on body armor, he's got on body armor." I'm watchin' it live on CNN, goin', "I can see his head. Shoot him in the head!"...[Later, talking about the Kehoe brothers] These guys have a shootout with the police at point-blank range -- nobody gets hurt. I would love to have been at the [police] office the next day when that guy's being interviewed by the police: "And then what happened?"

"Well, at that point I unloaded my semi-automatic nine-millimeter weapon at point-blank range."

"And then what happened?"

"They left."

Nice shootin', Elmer Fudd. There was a kid in Michigan three years ago, shot eight bullets, hit nine people. These cops shot 22 bullets, didn't even hit the [censored] Suburban.

But at least, unlike the New York imbeciles, they didn't kill an innocent bystander.

Hugh Laurie -- who knew?

Apparently he was a poor black child.

Seriously, Hugh Laurie has released an album of New Orleans blues on which he is the lead vocalist, pianist, and musical visionary -- and Let Them Talk turns out to be a blast.

Now, Laurie has no business singing opera or adult contemporary, because his voice has a very definite rasp to it that all the vocal training in the world is unlikely to smooth out. But that voice is perfect for the blues, and I defy any performer to relish his music more than Laurie clearly does. This is a guy who is in the original, French sense an amateur -- that is, someone doing what he's doing for the pure love of it without regard for money (though I'm sure he doesn't mind the odd royalty here and there). And, to my surprise and relief, he turns out to be very, very good at it.

Not that he's so good at it that he's likely to have made it big as a musician without first having gotten name recognition from being one of his generation's finest comic and serious actors. This isn't ground-breaking material that expands the frontiers of the blues; it's a tribute album in which Laurie is paying loving and exuberant homage to the masters of the genre he loves. But it's fun, with more joie de vivre than any other album I've come across in the last few years, and it can be listened to over and over and over again (as I've been doing all week), and you find yourself helplessly and delightedly singing along halfway through your first hearing of each new song -- I find that I have to avoid listening to it in Starbucks because I'll suddenly realize I'm singing aloud. In that sense it's very much analogous to another of my all-time favorite albums, Merle Haggard's Same Train, Different Time, his tribute to the music of Jimmie Rodgers. Should Merle have won a Grammy for re-recording Jimmie's music out of sheer love and appreciation for the man's art? No. But could you listen to Merle's album with pleasure from now until the end of time (assuming you like country music in the first place)? Well, I've been listening to it since before I could walk, and I'm not tired of it yet, after almost half a century.

And I think it will be a long time before I'm tired of Let Them Talk.

In short (too late!), unless you just have some sort of personal antipathy to the blues, then you should head straight to Starbucks, buy this album, and leave it in your car's CD player for the next week or so.

Why it's tough to be in the Peril's family

Because you have to put up with conversations such as these two:


[Helen is trying to convince me to learn mah jongg, which my friend Duane is also trying to talk me into playing with him]

HELEN: And it's a good way to learn lots of Chinese zi [Chinese characters].

ME: Well, I have a head start, because I already know what má jiàng means.

HELEN: [surprised] Really? What?

ME: It means, "Take the white guy's money."


[Rusty and I are discussing the advisability of Rusty's responding to the flirting of his good friend's ex-girlfriend, who appears to have transferred her affections to Rusty despite, he assures me, a complete lack of encouragement on his part. We have already agreed that it would be a bad idea for him to jeopardize the friendship by taking up with the girl, especially given that when one is a junior high guy, one's male friendships last way longer than one's tender dalliances. So I sum up the conclusion as follows:]

ME: At your age, you should definitely prioritize manly friendships ahead of evanescent romantic entanglements.

RUSTY: What?

ME: Bros before hos.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Why James Lileks makes a living as a writer and I do not

Because Lileks can come up with lines like this: "[Obama's] oratorical panache now consists of looking from one teleprompter screen to the other with the enthusiasm of a man watching someone else's kids play tennins." (HT: Michael Greenspan.)

Observe how much more pithily and forcefully Lileks expresses a point I made back in 2009 in this long-winded manner, and you'll see why people will pay to read Lileks but not Pierce:

...But the thing that really caught my attention was that Obama never looks at the camera. He looks at a forty-five degree angle or so off to his right, and then he swings back to look at a forty-five degree angle or so off to his left. Then he looks back to his right. Then back to his left. He's practically a metronome. And he's always looking at the same elevation, have you noticed? He never looks down at the people in the front row, never elevates his eyes to the "ceiling fans," as I once heard a pop singer call the fans in the back row of the balcony. For a long time I couldn't figure out what was up with that -- right up until I saw how astonishingly badly he floundered in any venue in which he is forced to ad-lib rather than use his teleprompter. And the penny finally dropped: Obama reads his whole speech word-for-word from the teleprompters. He looks at the teleprompter on his right, and then he swings back to look at the teleprompter on his left. Then he looks back at the teleprompter on his right. Then back to the one on his left.

Now, Dubya is never going to be mistaken for a great orator. But even Dubya knew his own speeches well enough to take his eyes away from the teleprompter every now and then and look at the camera. So now I get the hugest kick out of watching Obama give a speech, because I just watch his head move to the right, and then to the left, and then to the right...and I laugh myself silly.

I'm curious...that old Politics of the Peril post was a long and (I flatter myself) thoughtful post giving specific reasons that I thought Obama was not, in fact, the reincarnation of Demosthenes. I titled the post, "On Obama's speaking style (hint: o-v-e-r-r-a-t-e-d)," which was heresy at the time. I wonder how many people would agree with me now?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Apparently the secret of the super-rich is time travel

Sunday, September 04, 2011

There's Something Wrong With Your Calendar Dept

The irrepressible Dr. Tony Copperfield, in his hilarious book Sick Notes, has a chapter complaining of how counterproductive "[fill in disease here] Awareness Weeks" are, and of how addicted (naturally) Britain's National Health Service is to filling the entire calendar with one "[Disease de la Semaine] Awareness Week" after another. And in the middle of his rant he passes on this tidbit: "Not long back, Sami Patel [one of his fellow doctors] sent a letter to the PCT asking whether it was his imagination, or had Premature Ejaculation Day come early that year?"

At another point in the rant, Dr. Copperfield mentions "Breast Awareness Month." Um..."Breast Awareness Month"? Really, that's necessary? Surely at least half the British population is very much aware of breasts already, 365 days of the year? The Sun's circulation numbers would seem to imply so, at least. "The Sun's readers don't care who's running the country..."

What's that? Why, don't tell me, Gentle Reader, that you don't catch that last allusion. You mean you've never watched the old reruns of Yes, Prime Minister? Really? Why, hie thee to YouTube posthaste! I think my favorite episode is the one where the Prime Minister naïvely assumes that one of the requirements for any person wishing to become Archbishop of Canterbury is that His Most Rev and Rt Hon Would-Be Lordship must be a, you know, Christian, and it falls to Humphrey to rectify the Prime Minister's regrettable naïveté; but that is only the best of the best of a consistently wickedly hilarious send-up of British career politicans and the civil servants who manage assist them. And here to get you started is the specific bit that Breast Awareness Month made me think of:

Or here we have Sir Humphrey explaining the attitude of the Treasury to taxation:

THE P.M.: ...Why doesn't it surprise you?

SIR HUMPHREY: Why, because he's advised by the Treasury, and the Treasury don't believe in giving money back.

THE P.M.: But it's not theirs, it's the taxpayers'!

SIR HUMPHREY: That is one view; it's not the view of the Treasury...


It's 3:00 in the afternoon, and I'm about to do some work at Panera Bread while Helen's off on her church retreat and the kids are in youth group. As is my wont, I order a mug of coffee, and then stride over to the counter where four large coffee containers stand proudly, each with a sign showing what time they were last refreshed. I note that the urn for the decaffeinated coffee still shows "9:40" as its most recent refresh time; I thank my lucky stars that I don't drink fake coffee; and I decide helpfully to call the situation to the attention of the staff.

PERIL: Excuse me...


PERIL: I just thought I'd point out that your decaffeinated coffee is from 9:40 this morning.

G.B.C: [in her most reassuring tones] Oh, no, sir, the sign's wrong; it's earlier than that.

PERIL: [opens mouth, then closes it and just lets it go...]

Friday, September 02, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished dept

I'd like to have Phil Ray Gage for a neighbor. I'd certainly not like to have whoever the rectal-cranially inverted jerk who called the cops is, for a neighbor. And as for the cop who actually wrote him a citation...if she has a husband, I pity the fool.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

That's gotta sting

From Theodore Dalrymple, reviewing Virginia Woolfe's Three Guineas:
The Cambridge guide to English Literature describes Three Guineas as an established classic -- but a classic of what genre exactly? Of political philosophy? Contemporary history? Sociological analysis? No: it is a locus classicus of self-pity and victimhood as a genre in itself. In this, it was certainly ahead of its time, and it deserves to be on the syllabus of every department of women's studies at every third-rate establishment of higher education...The book might be better titled: How to Be Privileged and Yet Feel Extremely Aggrieved.