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Oh, man

Did you see this thing in the National Journal? Seems White House aides are concerned about damage to what they call Obama’s “leadership brand.” Yeah, fellas. What you have there is totally a branding problem.

[Obama] then launched into a long reply that previewed what is to come after Labor Day. It is then, he said, that he will propose a “very specific plan” on the economy. And if Congress does not adopt it, “then we’ll be running against a Congress that’s not doing anything for the American people, and the choice will be very stark and will be very clear.” He concluded his answer stating that “the other side is unreasonable. And you … don’t want to reward unreasonableness. Look, I get that.”

Excellent. Because we have slipped sideways into an alternate universe where blaming other people for you problems doesn’t make you sound like a whiny crybaby bitch.

Wait, what? Labor Day??!? That’s three weeks from now. After another Vineyard vacation. Three years wasn’t enough time to come up with some specifics we can kick around?

According to the two senior officials, the plan to arrest that decline is for Obama to no longer be seen as above the fray. While they believe Republicans were both wrong and unfair to claim the president had no plan to bring down the deficit, they know it hurt him. So they will try to show the president as having specific plans and then show him fighting for them.

Does the wording of this strike you as distinctly weird? Not that Obama will actually be doing certain things, instead they will try to show him doing things. Like they’re going get the NY Times to run a picture of him holding a piece of paper marked SPECIFIC PLANS and another picture of him putting up his dukes.

No more will the president be focusing primarily on issues that can attract bipartisan support and appeal to a Republican House. And no longer will he be so willing to let Congress work out the details on its own.

Oh, now I get it. The new plan is to alienate the one third or so of the country that likes Republican ideas and turn off the one third or so in the middle that likes happy clappy bipartisanship to appeal to the one third or so of the country that was bound to vote for him anyway.

He so smart.

August 17, 2011 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 33

Another rock star of British media

Nobody has dared attempt to explain cricket to me — they make novelty tea towels about explaining cricket to Americans and I’m an extra special sports-impervious case — but I gather England has just done really well against India. Um, yay?

As I understand it, cricket is a game that involves this man, Henry Blofeld, nattering on the radio for days on end about…pretty much everything except the sports contest in front of him. As Wikipedia put it:

Blofeld’s cricket commentary is celebrated for his plummy voice and his idiosyncratic mention of superfluous details, including cranes, numbers of pink shirts in the crowd; pigeons, buses, aeroplanes and helicopters that happen to be passing by. He is also known to talk about the food on offer, in particular cakes, for extended periods of time after the tea and lunch breaks with occasional interruptions of the situation on the field. He also uses the phrase “my dear old thing”, or variants thereof, to address fellow commentators and guests.

By the way, Uncle B heard that Blofeld’s brother, a high court judge, pissed off Ian Fleming and thus gave a name to supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Wikipedia says it was either Henry’s father, who went to school with Fleming, or another Blofeld altogether, depending on which page you consult.


Here’s a YouTube that will give you a sense of the accent and the dialogue.

Also, the same exact thing happened to my father, only he ended up behind a potted palm in the lobby.

August 16, 2011 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 10

Look up!

Perseid meteor showers, incoming! The peak was Saturday and the full moon is stepping all over it, but it won’t be over for another week. This one is my favorite because the time of year.

Click here to watch Sir Patrick Moore talk about the Perseids.

Who he? He’s a national in-sti-tution. He’s an amateur astronomer who’s done more to spread astronomy and inspire astronomers than a whole box of Carl Sagans.

He hosts a BBC program called The Sky At Night [link only works in the UK] and has done since 1957. That got him in the Guinness Book as longest-running presenter. It’s a monthly. He only missed it once, July 2004. He ate a contaminated goose egg and nearly died.

I am so not making this up.

He’s a keen musician. A xylophonist. He once performed the Sex Pistols’ “Anarchy in the UK” on the xylophone for the Royal Family.

Not making this up.

He looks like a Bond villain. Like somebody left an Edwardian gentleman on a hot stove and melted him. I love the Sky at Night — when we remember to tune it in. It’s worth it just to try to work out how that monocle sticks to his face.

August 15, 2011 — 8:40 pm
Comments: 20

Odds and ends

Hoo boy! Did you see this over at Michelle‘s? The (government funded) Smithsonian Institute was so gosh-darned excited by Obama’s challenge to out-innovate the Chinese (remember him wittering on about a “Sputnik moment“?), they’ve launched a new blog called the Department of Innovation. This is the logo.


Ahem. Beg pardon. Three gears configured thusly are incapable of turning. If the top gear is going clockwise, it’ll turn the gear on the right counter-clockwise, and the gear bottom left will be pulled in both directions at once. Total gridlock. Perfect.

The blog post gets about ten comments in before people start ragging on them about it.

As an illustrator who used to work for an engineering company, I sympathize. I did retarded shit like this all the time. In fact, I may have made this exact mistake at some point.

But wouldn’t you think someone at the SMITHSONIAN FREAKING INSTITUTE would pick up on it before it escaped into the wild?

Next up, a modern explanation for the behavior of Peter the Wild Man. He was an 18th Century feral child, found naked in a forest in Germany in 1725 and brought to London by George I as a sort of a pet.

Actually, “modern explanations” bore me stiff — especially when they’re based on a close examination of not very skillful portraiture — but I enjoyed reading about Peter. Whatever was wrong with the poor bastard.

I especially liked the non-sequitur at the end: “His very existence exposed the shallow artifice of Georgian society as a bit of a sham.”

Um, what?

And finally, Christopher Taylor‘s second book, Old Habits, is out in a print-on-demand edition. I haven’t read it. I have utterly sworn off paper as a means of transporting information. But if you follow Christopher’s excellent blog, you know dude can write.

Have a good weekend, everyone!

August 12, 2011 — 9:09 pm
Comments: 57

Ugh. What a tool.

“There are some in Congress right now who would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.”

This from a man who has done nothing but blow with the wind, hoping to prop up his re-election chances.

I think this is what I hate most in the modern Left: that absolute flat refusal to acknowledge that the other guy has a philosophy.

Liberal and conservative ideas are hardly new. They both have a pedigree, a body of supporting literature, a track record of successes and failures. They are two competing and largely incompatible sets of beliefs about how the world works.

But to Obama and his handmaidens in the media, everyone knows the liberal answer is the only answer. You either do it their way or you lack education. Or he needs to ‘splain some more. Or you’re playing politics. Or you’re dumb. Or evil. It’s like the last few hundred years of political dialogue never happened for them.

It has to be a pretense. It sure is rage-making.

August 11, 2011 — 10:30 pm
Comments: 22

Screw politics

Violet laid her first egg! Afterwards, she was subdued and thoughtful for the rest of the day.

That means both new girls are in lay now. Plus Lucia.

Mapp, on the other hand, is not having a very good Summer. After going broody for months, she got over herself only to begin the moult. Lucia is so ticked off with her, she’s been pulling feathers out of Mapp’s collar one beakful at a time until the back of her neck is totally bald.

Hence, three nights running, Mapp has come to the back door at bedtime and resolutely refused to go into the henhouse. I’m letting her sleep in a cat carrier in the laundry room. There are Mappfeathers EVERYwhere.

Chicken drama.

Plus, Uncle B got up the onions and the taters for the year. The onions will last most of the Winter, the potatoes…well, I reckon there were at least thirty pounds there. Plus runner beans, French beans, cabbages, cukes and cauliflowers. The tomatoes haven’t done great this year, but we’ve got some.

You know, the rest of the country could pour gas over its head and light a match, and we’d get along fine out here.

August 10, 2011 — 10:13 pm
Comments: 46

I love bacon SO much…!

I love bacon so much, I get lardons! (They used to be called bacon bits before people starting vacationing abroad, apparently).

So! Not much to do but sit around, eat lardons and wait to see if London goes up in flames again tonight. I have to be up early in the morning, so it had better get a move on.

Mono the elderish just wrote to send me some video links of the rioting and ask what I thought was going to happen. I’ll steal tonight’s post from the answer I gave him.

Errr…I don’t know. I’ve been coming to the UK for almost fifteen years, and the whole time I’ve wondered what it would take to get the Brits riled up enough to push back. They have plenty of provocation — a rampant nanny state, swingeing taxes, out of control immigration, Islamist terrorism, now riots in the streets — and I keep thinking now they will boil over, surely.

I keep thinking wrong. I’m too American to read the vibe right.

See, the Brits make a positive virtue of putting up with shit. I don’t know if it has its roots in WWII or if the Blitz just tamped the attitude down into their DNA, but “Keep Calm and Carry On” is not mere ironic kitsch. It’s deep in their self-image. We are the unflappable people. Let lesser people flap.

It’s not cowardice — far from it! — we’re talking people who faced down nightly bombing raids with a shrug and a cup of tea. It may be that not ‘overreacting’ to the riots is the way they will choose to distinguish themselves from the rioters. See: tea served on a riot shield.

On the other hand…well. Sooner or later, all this world-going-to-hell stuff will surely be too much even for the Unflappable People.

August 9, 2011 — 10:02 pm
Comments: 23

Watching London burn

I’ve got nothing to add that you couldn’t find out for yourself by following the BBC online or the Telegraph’s live coverage. Except we’re probably getting more ‘chatter’ (as they say in the intelligence biz).

A lot of this is about straight up looting. The picture above is a game store. HDTV, phones, clothes…some lady said they were forming orderly queues to loot an electronics store (that is so Britain).

But the clashes in the street (and perhaps the arson), pictures show an awful lot of young white faces. Either the papers are choosing photos carefully on that basis, or these are typical anarchist rent-a-mobs from outside. The neighborhoods catching fire are not white neighborhoods.

Nowhere near our old haunts yet, happy to say.

Police say they’ll publish the all photos they can get (like this personable young man cheerfully displaying his loot on Facebook) and prosecute anyone they can identify. I would have doubted once, but some kids from the last riot got jail time.

Beyond that…we’ll see. This isn’t the first time people in London have burned down their own neighborhoods. The reaction before was to hose them with money and ‘understanding’.

This time maybe — just maybe — the law-abiding population is too rattled by a general sense of everything’s-going-to-shit to take it.

August 8, 2011 — 9:34 pm
Comments: 66

LEGOoooos In Spaaaaaaace

NASA launched a spacecraft today destined for Jupiter. It should get there in 2016. (Watch the launch here, or follow the Juno mission on Twitter).

And it’s a manned flight! Kinda. They’re sending these three custom LEGO figures along. Jupiter, Juno and Galileo. Because forrrr the chilrunnn or something.

Oh, come on…you didn’t really want to talk about the econopolipse, did you? I’ve come to the conclusion not a single one of the bozos up on his hind legs flapping his gums about the global economy has the slightest-effing-idea what he’s talking about. Bad shit coming. That’s all anyone knows for sure.

Who cares? Custom LEGOs! In space!

Good weekend, everyone!

August 5, 2011 — 10:16 pm
Comments: 35

Happy Birthday, President Soopergenius

Huh. Whaddya know? Dow on the longest losing streak since Carter. Plunges 512 points, over four percent. And this thing from Cantor at NRO sure makes our leader sound…oh, what’s the word?


Scary times.

August 4, 2011 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 22