Demonic Ninja Llama

He can't keep quiet anymore

LOST-apalooza!!

Don’t expect answers to all your questions in tonight’s series finale.  LOST, like life, is full of mystery and unanswerable questions.  I agree with this essay in the LA Times:

There have been too many characters, too many random images and scattered loose ends, to expect any unified theory of “Lost,” well, I’m not particularly anxious to get one. Answers kill mysteries, and in a mystical mystery like “Lost,” the answers will never be as good as the slippery things you can almost imagine.

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No matter what happens in the finale, the journey will have been worth the ride:

This is the way we’ll remember Lost – less a destination than a journey, less a compelling answer than a series of confounding, fascinating questions. For six years – a flash before our eyes – we asked those questions of one another, using the luxuries of the modern age to enhance rather than spoil the mysteries before us. The final episode of Lost may disappoint. It may frustrate. But it shouldn’t negate the messy, bewildering and often brilliant ride it took to get there.

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May 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An exercise in hard choices

What would you cut to get the Federal Budget under control??

This online simulation puts you on the spot to decide how to bring the Federal deficit down to a sustainable level.  It took me a couple of tries, but I managed to meet their goal, and without adding a VAT or a Carbon Tax.  I renewed the Bush tax cuts on people under 250k income, and I kept missile defense and NASA missions to the Moon and Mars.  I drastically drew down our troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, canceled TARP, raised the retirement age to 68, and I cut earmarks, Department of Education funding, the Federal workforce, farm subsidies, and many other smaller programs.  I did not tinker with the Healthcare Reform Law, but I did raise Medicare premiums and implement malpractice reform. Most of my savings were through spending cuts, but I did raise revenues by dropping the deduction for state and local income taxes, and by limiting itemized deductions for high income brackets.  Those were tough calls, but I wanted to keep the Bush tax cuts and had to raise revenue somewhere.

I’m not sure their methodology is completely accurate, but the exercise is certainly useful, if for no other reason than to impress upon the mind the magnitude and the seriousness of the choices that need to be made.  Everyone should spend a few minutes with this simulation.

May 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” really matters

A brilliant post that lays it out clearly:

If I accede to Muslim demands that I refrain from drawing Mohamed or pigs or boars or ice cream logos or buddhas, I have tacitly conceded that I am Muslim.  After all, I am conforming my behavior to Muslim doctrine.Muslims understand this.  Their rage over these images isn’t about the images themselves.  It is, instead, about incrementally drawing all of us into the Muslim faith.  After all, once you’ve stopped creating images offensive to Muslims, and stopped making movies offensive to Muslims, and stopped writing books offensive to Muslims, and stopped saying things offensive to Muslims, and stopped your stores from selling the pork and alcohol offensive to Muslims, and attired your women in burqas to protect them from rampaging Muslims, well — you’re pretty much a practicing Muslim.  You’ve been converted, and you didn’t even realize it was happening.

And once you’ve crossed that invisible line, a line known only to your new Muslim overlords, woe unto you if you try to reverse that conversion process.  Apostates, after all, by turning their back on Mohamed, deserve death.  So really, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.  If you don’t comply with all the Muslim restrictions, they threaten to kill you — and if you do comply with all the Muslim restrictions, they still threaten to kill you.

So this is where the rubber hits the road.  You’re between a Muslim rock and an Islamic hard place.  Do you take a stand now, while your freedoms still mean something, or do you simply acquiesce, step by step, until you find that you have no freedoms at all, that there are no compatriots willing to stand by you in the fight, and that y0ur remaining options are between a living or an actual death?

….When we draw Mohamed today, we don’t do so to be offensive, or provocative.  We do so to assert our identity and to declare, standing shoulder to shoulder with our fellow soldiers in this war, that we are Westerners dedicated to freedom of speech and freedom of worship.

May 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Awesome stuff from around the Interwebz

Classic art works re-done with a Star Wars twist:

This one has some subtle touches:

Awesomest iPad decal I’ve seen:

The truth revealed!

LOST fan art:

Coolest marketing ploy ever:

Fifteen awesome songs from 80’s movies

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You CAN kill the Golden Goose

“It was necessary to first build capitalism, then make socialism, we must have something to distribute before doing so.”  So says outgoing Brazilian President Lula da Silva.  Perhaps our current wannabe re-distributors should take note that you can kill off capital, and that you have to encourage capitalism if you want to have any wealth to be able to spread.

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It is mentioned in passing, in an article about how the upcoming Captain America film will actually not be filmed in the United States:

The loss of production business from “Captain America: The First Avenger” is another blow to the city of Los Angeles, which has seen its share of big-budget films flee to escape the heavy tax burden its state levees on films…..California’s taxes have been a boon to the British Columbian city of Vancouver, which in recent years has seen a boom of what would’ve otherwise been big Hollywood business (films such as the “Twilight Saga” have found a production home north of the border).

Perhaps this is part of why California is going broke.  Again, you can kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  Excessive taxation drives away economic activity.  Why is this not understood?

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Cassandra warning of the Day:

Richard Russell, the famous writer of the Dow Theory Letters, has a chilling line in today’s note:

Do your friends a favor. Tell them to “batten down the hatches” because there’s a HARD RAIN coming. Tell them to get out of debt and sell anything they can sell (and don’t need) in order to get liquid. Tell them that Richard Russell says that by the end of this year they won’t recognize the country. They’ll retort, “How the dickens does Russell know — who told him?” Tell them the stock market told him…..

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More in my Cassandra mood

Retired Army Colonel Douglas MacGregor, PhD, maps out the geopolitical scene of the coming decade.  Here is an extended excerpt; the whole thing deserves reading:

The question is whether the English-speaking peoples around the world will re-forge an alliance of their own or, even survive on the North American continent. Our weakened financial and economic condition makes a retreat from wider involvement in the world’s affairs unavoidable. For some period of time, we will have to reorient our attention to our domestic condition. Since nature abhors a vacuum, the vacuum will be filled. In reality, it’s already well underway.

Today, NE Asia is emerging as more than just an economic power house. It is already a center of technological expertise and strategic understanding. In ten years, Korea, Japan and China will collectively constitute a concentration of military power on a scale the world has never seen before; a concentration far greater than anything we have today. As the EU collapses, Europe’s German core will reemerge from a long hiatus. Together with the Russians who must of necessity turn increasingly to the Germans for political, economic and security assistance, the two will represent the enormous economic and military power that dominates the continent from the Atlantic to the Urals, a power once imagined by Bismarck, but thrown away by his successors in pointless, unnecessary wars. How this power will be used is unknown, but it too could dwarf our own inflated self-importance.

In the near-East, Turkey, not Iran will emerge as the true regional superpower. How Turkey and Iran get along under these circumstances is anyone’s guess. Israel may well be in a position to play the balancing power provided it maintains its military edge.

India, a country with one toilet for every 45,000 people is no superpower and it will not become one. Its principle challenge is to avoid a nuclear exchange with Pakistan, something that looks harder and harder to do just now.

The rest of the world – Africa, SE Asia and Latin America will behave much as it has for the last thousand years. It will struggle, remain vulnerable to the power and influence of the blocks of states already mentioned.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’m feeling very Cassandra-ish today

I always wanted to live in interesting times, but I’m not sure I like what is coming down the pike in our day:

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some commonsense policy proposals to prevent US bankruptcy

On my to-read list is a book entitled “The Return of the Great Depression” by Vox Day.  He prescribes ten measures needed immediately to keep the nation from going off the financial cliff ahead:

1. Stop pouring gasoline on the fire. The Federal Reserve must raise interest rates. . . .

2. No more financial necromancy. No more bailouts. An organization that is too big to fail is too big to be permitted to exist. . . .

3. Cut state and federal income taxes in half. . . .

4. Eliminate all federal spending that cannot be supported by a supermajority in both the House and Senate. . . .

5. Audit the Federal Reserve. . . .

6. Repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, the Carn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982, and elements of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980. . . .

7. Withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Europe, and most of the dozens of countries around the world where they are stationed. . . .

8. Halt immigration and provide significant financial incentive for married women with children to raise them at home. . . .

9. Ban banking bonuses. . . .

10. End the federal monetary monopoly. . . .

I haven’t read the book yet, so I’m not entirely sure about all of these, but the majority seem pretty self-evident and commonsensical to me.

h/t the Derb

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Today’s links and commentary

“Progressivism is the belief that we have too much freedom with which to make too many stupid choices.”

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This is the point of the Tea Parties, a point that seems lost on our current “leaders”:

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, a top outside adviser to President Barack Obama, said time is “growing short” for the U.S. to address problems ranging from its budget deficit to Social Security obligations.

“We better get started,” the 82-year-old former central banker said in a speech yesterday in Stanford, California. “Today’s concerns may soon become tomorrow’s existential crises.”

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An idea for how to deal with California, or other bankrupt states.

California’s pension system is based on impossible assumptions and deception of the taxpayers and legislators.     Though it is probably in violation of Article IV of the Constitution, any state that bankrupts itself and requires a Federal bailout should lose its status as a state, including representation in Congress and the Electoral College, for some determined length of time.  Let them go back to Territorial Status and apply for readmission when they can show that they can govern themselves responsibly.

May 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment