Monday, December 31, 2012

Links To End 2012

Twenty-Twelve was certainty an interesting year, especially if you understand "interesting" in the context of the old curse "May you live in interesting times."  We have seen the Supreme Court uphold "Obamacare" by calling its mandate a "tax", and strike down most of Arizona's SB 1070, while leaving intact its provision that allows state policemen to check the immigration status of people they legally stop.  We have seen a woman named Sandy demand that we subsidize her birth control and leftwingers accuse us of waging a "war on women" if we refuse, a hurricane named Sandy devastate the shores of New Jersey and New York City, and the mass murder of children by a mentally unstable gunman at an elementary school named Sandy Hook.   We have also seen two more end-of-the-world predictions, one based on a misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar, fail to take place.

Despite what appeared to be solid support for Republican nominee Mitt Romney, we re-elected President Obama, even though his economic and fiscal record is the worst of any president in my lifetime, and whose foreign policy record isn't all that great.  At least two promising GOP candidates for Senator derailed themselves by opening mouth and inserting foot.  The Democrats made modest gains in both houses of Congress, but for the most part, the next four years of federal governance appear to be "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

In the world of sports, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl, and then failed to make the playoffs the next season, the third time in franchise history that they have done so.  Payton Manning (Denver QB) and Adrian Petersen (Minnesota TB) have had amazing comeback seasons.  Meanwhile in the NCAA, my Virginia Tech Hokies had their worst football season in 20 years, but still won their bowl game.  Penn State coach Joe Paterno was fired after his former assistant Jerry Sandusky was accused of child molestation.  Sandusky has since been convicted and Paterno has passed away.

As we reminisce about all of the above and more, and get ready for 2013, let's see what's going on to close out 2012.

From The Corner at National Review Onlinethere appears to be an agreement to avoid the upcoming "fiscal cliff".

On the other hand, the Daily Caller reports that the "fiscal cliff" negotiators haven't worked out the sequester, which remains "a point of contention".

According to Breitbart's Big Government, there's no deal yet, and negotiations will resume next year.

Redstate recommends that Republicans kill the deal, because there are no spending cuts.

From CNN Politics, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's blood clot, for which she has recently been hospitalized, is reported to be located between her brain and her skull.  (Full disclosure:  A member of my family had this type of injury about 8 years ago, which required removal of the overlying section of skull.)

From Fox News, Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) has asked the president to "rescind" an executive order that gives Congress and some other officials a pay increase.  (Is Senator Portman from Ohio or Oiho?)

Also from Fox News, the federal government is again running into the debt ceiling.

From Push Back Now, Senator and gun control advocate Diane Feinstein has had a concealed carry permit.

From the New York Post, a couple living in Greenwich Village have been busted for allegedly possessing weapons and bomb-making material.  One of them has been an Occupy Wall Street activist.

And from SFGate, a roundup of 2012 news for New England, featuring a bear that vacationed in Cape Cod.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill Says "Oink"

The Senate, not letting a crisis go to waste, has inserted a bunch pork projects into their $60 billion relief spending bill to aid the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  Included are $150 million for Alaska fisheries and $58 million for planting trees on private property.  I know that Sandy was a big storm, pounding New Jersey and New York, and sending snow as far southward as northwestern North Carolina, but I don't think it also reached Alaska.  To be sure, larding up emergency spending bills with items unrelated to the actual emergency is nothing new, but once again we see politicians exploiting an emergency for their own projects.  Read more at Breitbart's Big Government and watch the video at Fox Business.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Norman Schwarzkopf 1934-2012

Retired General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led coalition forces in the 1991 Gulf War, died earlier today in Tampa, Florida.  He graduated from West Point in 1956, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, served two tours in Vietnam, received three Silver Stars, and later served in the invasion of Grenada.  Somewhere during all of that, he was given the knickname "Stormin' Norman", which he reportedly didn't like all that much, preferring "The Bear", which was used by some of his troops.

Read more at CNN, the Los Angeles Times, ABC News, US News, the Wall Street Journal and Newsmax.  As reported in the Newsmax story, Schwarzkopf's father, also named Norman, was the founder and commander of the New Jersey State Police, after serving in the Army during World War I and achieving the rank of Colonel.  At the time the future General was born, the elder Schwarzkopf was leading the investigation of the Lindbergh kidnapping.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas

For the next few days, I'll be taking a break and visiting family members, as we gather for the Christmas holidays.  To everyone out there, have a happy and safe Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Links For The New B'ak'tun

It's now the evening of December 21, 2012, and the world still hasn't come to an end.  That's because it's not supposed to.  Instead, it's merely the start of the 13th b'ak'tun, a Maya calendar period consisting of 144,000 days, as explained in this article.  So now that it looks like the world will keep on going for the foreseeable future, let's take a look at things that really are going on out there.

From Delaware105.9, ABC news veteran and former White House correspondent Sam Donaldson, recently arrested for DUI, has waived his arraignment hearing.  His trial has not been scheduled.

From Fox News, later tonight and early tomorrow morning, the Ursid meteor shower will peak.  These meteors are related to comet Tuttle 8P, and appear to radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, a.k.a. the Little Dipper.

From Human Events, the NRA addresses the Newtown massacre.

From the Daily Caller, reporters at an NRA presser are overheard mocking the NRA and praising the Code Pink protesters.

From White House Dossier, now that Susan Rice has withdrawn, President Obama will nominate Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) for Secretary of State.

From the Spiegel, a German archaeologist working in Yemen has found evidence of a tribal confederation centered on the city of Zafar.

From Yahoo Finance, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing has been producing a much higher than usual amount of $100 bills.

From ARRA News Service, Congressman-elect and Iraq combat veteran Tom Cotton (R-Ark) gives his opinion on the possible nomination of former Senator and Vietnam combat veteran Chuck Hegel (R-NH) for Secretary of Defense.

From Gateway Pundit, at the funeral of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), former Hawaii resident Barack Obama talks for ten minutes about himself.

From The Foundry, the twelve days of Obamacare surprises, including more cuts to Medicare.

From the IPT, the president of the Al Haya Party in Egypt claims that American diplomats and President Obama have given Egyptian secular democrats a "cold shoulder".

From MSNBC, the most exciting alien planets discovered in 2012.

And from SFGate, sirens in Denver are not a doomsday signal.  They are only a test.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There Are Idiots

At around 11:40 today, a man entered Sandy Hook Elementary School in Strasburg, Virginia with a four-foot-long two-by-four labeled "High-Powered Rifle".  He was detained and later arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.  The school has the same name as the one in Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza killed 26 people and then himself, after killing his mother at their home.

Read the story at the Mail Online.

Full disclosure:  Strasburg is near the junction of Interstates 66 and 81.  I drive through the area from time to time, mainly to visit family members who live farther south in Virginia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Robert Bork 1927-2012

Former Solicitor General and appeals court judge Robert Bork, known for being unsuccessfully nominated to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, passed away earlier today at age 85.  Democrat senators led by Ted Kennedy visciously opposed the nomination, which failed by a vote of 58-42.  During his time as Solicitor General, Bork carried out President Richard Nixon's order to fire special counsel Archibald Cox, after the attorney general and his deputy refused to do so, both resigning in protest.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times, CNN, Fox News, USA Today, the Washington Post and Reuters.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What happens on 12/21/12?

Contrary to some fanciful speculation, it will not be the end of the world.  It will only be the end of a Mayan Long Count, after which a new one starts.  On 12/22, most of us will wake up, and go back to our Christmas shopping.  On the other hand, some people will die on 12/21, but that will be merely the natural course of events, and have nothing to do with Mayan astronomy.

Due to precession, the wobble in the earth's spin, the apparent position of the sun (observed from earth, with respect to the stars) at the solstices and equinoxes is slowly moving along the ecliptic, which is the apparent path the sun takes through the sky (and through the constellations known as the Zodiac) every year.  Each of the solstice and equinox points takes 26,000 years to move one complete cycle around the ecliptic, this movement being in the opposite direction of the sun's yearly path.  Thus, while the sun moves from Aries to Taurus to Gemini, each point will slowly move from Gemini to Taurus to Aries at some time within the 26,000-year cycle.  As this article by John Major Jenkins explains, the winter solstice point is close to the galactic equator.  For more information, go to his website.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy And Sad News In The Senate

First the happy news:

To replace Senator Jim DeMint, who announced his intention to resign from the Senate and become the leader of the Heritage Foundation, South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has appointed Tim Scott, currently one of their state's representatives in the House.  He will become the first black Republican senator in over 30 years, and first ever black senator from South Carolina.  Because there are four years left in DeMint's term, Scott will serve for two years before facing a special election in 2014, to determine who serves the last two years.  Read more at the Weekly Standard, National Review, Yahoo News, Newsmax, the Christian Science Monitor and Time.

Now the sad news:

Senator Daniel Inouye, who had represented the state of Hawaii in the Senate since 1963, becoming the second longest serving senator in U.S. history, died earlier today of a respiratory ailment, at age 88.  The son of immigrants from Japan and first Japanese American to serve in Congress when he was elected to the House in 1959, Inouye also won the Medal of Honor in World War II.  While fighting in Italy, Inouye destroyed two machine gun nests after being shot in the stomach while leading an assault against the Germans, after which he was again wounded, losing his right arm.  Inouye died at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.  The last thing he reportedly said was "Aloha".  Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie will name a successor to serve the remaining two years of Inouye's term.  Read more at the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, CNN, Slate, the New York Daily News and the Hawaii Reporter.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Birthday, Beethoven

December 16, 1770 is the accepted date for the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, who grew up to become one of the great composers of classical music.  (He was baptized on the 17th.  Since babies were normally baptized within 24 hours of their birth during that era, the 16th is thought to be his actual birth date.)  He was born in the German city of Bonn, and later moved to Vienna, where for a while he took lessons from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and also worked under Franz Joseph Haydn.  He died in 1827, leaving behind nine symphonies, more than 30 piano sonatas, one opera and many other works.

My own childhood piano lessons included quite a few of Beethoven's compositions, including his 8th sonata, known by the French title of Sonaté Pathetique.  This is a rendition of its second movement, played (as it were) by Schoeder in the movie A Boy Named Charlie Brown.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Bit More On The CT School Massacre

Some follow-up on yesterday's shootings in a Connecticut elementary school:

From Sky News, the shooter was an honors student at Newtown High School.

From the New York Post, a father's anguish after losing his son.

From ABC News, a timeline of yesterday's events.

From the Wall Street Journal, some details emerge about Adam Lanza's family.  The guns used in the shootings were registered to Nancy Lanza, Adam's mother.  There also seems to be some question about whether she was a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

From Natural News, is the real problem medications, not guns?

From NBC News, authorities have identified the victims as the people of Newtown seek answers.  Lanza was not "buzzed in", but forced his way into the school.

From the Washington Post, a live blog including the names of the victims.  Scroll down to the entry at 4:24 pm.

From Fox News, the shooter's father, Peter Lanza, speaks out.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Massacre In Newtown, Connecticut

This morning, a man named Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother at her home, and then went to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut where she was a teacher, and murdered 26 more victims, 20 of them children, before killing himself.  He was armed with two pistols and an assault rifle, and was carrying an ID that belonged to his brother.  The brother, Ryan Lanza, is not a suspect, but Adam Lanza's girlfriend and another friend are unaccounted for.

The New York Post has several articles about this horrible event:
At least 27 people, including 20 children, shot dead at elementary school.
The sounds of the Newtown school tragedy.
A history of mass shootings.
The rampage took only minutes.

Also reporting on the Newtown school shootings are the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC News, MassLive and CBS News.  The Blaze notes how some media outlets misreported some facts about the massacre, including naming Ryan Lanza as the shooter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Strong In The Farce, They Are

Over 25,000 people have signed a petition asking the federal government to build a Death Star.  While such a project is clearly beyond the current capabilities of all earthbound governments, the White House will have to respond to the petition, due to the number of signatures.  I remember the Reagan administration advocating a space-borne missile defense system, dubbed "Star Wars" by its detractors, but a Death Star would cost even more than the Obama administration is willing to spend - or so I hope.

Read the story at Cosmic Log on NBC News.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Union Supporters Attack AFP Tent

During a protest against the new right-to-work legislation in Lansing, Michigan, some people protesting against the new law tore down a tent put up by Americans For Prosperity, a group in favor of it, while some people were in the tent.  Rightwing reporter Steven Crowder, trying to find out what the protesters had against the right-to-work law, found himself dealing with a knuckle sandwich.  These videos were put on Twitter by several people I follow:

For all you labor union supporters in Michigan, how's that new civility working out?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Apollo 17

Forty years ago this month, NASA launched Apollo 17, its last mission to the moon.  Mission commander Gene Cernan, lunar module pilot Dr. Harrison "Jack" Schmitt and command module pilot Ron Evans lifted off just after 12:30 a.m. on December 7th, 1972.  While Evans performed experiments in lunar orbit, Cernan and Schmitt explored the area of Taurus-Littrow, discovered orange soil, and composed the brief musical parody "I was strolling on the moon one day".  They splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on December 19th.  Previously planned subsequent Apollo missions were cancelled.

Dr. Schmitt remembers the mission vividly.  He remains the only trained geologist to collect rock samples on a world other than earth.  Cernan, who named a large rock after his daughter, remembers the camera he left on the moon.

Go here for a panorama of what the two astronauts saw.  For more on Apollo 17, go to Universe TodayNational Journal and Views Of The Solar System, and watch this video:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pearl Harbor Day - And Today

December 7th is the anniversary of Japan's attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, bringing the United States into World War II.  Here are some facts about the attack on the "date which will live in infamy".

In today's news:

From WRAL, President Obama will attend a performance by South Korean rapper PSY, whose songs (I use the term loosely) include some anti-American lyrics.

From Yahoo News, a cache of gold dust bought for $700,000 last year has disappeared from the Chesterfield, MO laboratory or Pfizer, Inc.

From Citizen Link, the Supreme Court has decided to hear cases about the Defense of Marriage Act, and California's Proposition 8.

From Breitbart's Big Government, guns are being bought at record rates - in California.

From PJ Media, 73% of the jobs created in the last 5 months have been government jobs.

From the Washington Examiner, Michigan's new right-to-work legislation gets an angry reaction from one of the state's biggest residents.

From the Chicago Tribune, that large Michigan resident is not alone.

The Foundry asks why government should get "something for nothing".

And from NBC News, the LAPD has started to ask that age-old question, "What's up, Doc?"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Protest Like An Egyptian

One Egyptian man gives our president his opinion of their new president.  From Doug Ross @ Journal via Bare Naked Islam and a12iggymom.

Click here or to any of the links above to see the picture.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Zimmerman's Lawyers Release Gruesome Picture

A photograph of George Zimmerman, taken by police after his confrontation with Trayvon Martin, has been released by his defense lawyers, showing a bloody face and what looks like an injured nose.  They say that they received the photo on October 29th, over six months after Zimmerman was charged with murder.

I won't post the photo here, but you can see it at Fox News.  A question for the president: If you had a son, would he rearrange someone's face the way Martin apparently rearranged Zimmerman's?

Music Break

For this month's music break, let's begin with something from the original lineup of Yes.  From their second album Time And A Word, this is No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed, written by Richie Havens.  Some of the instrumental sections, however, were taken from the opening theme from the movie The Big Country.  The original Yes included John Anderson (who later removed the "h" from first name) - lead vocals, Peter Banks - guitar & vocals, Tony Kaye - keyboards, Chris Squire - bass & vocals, and Bill Bruford - drums.  Soon after the album was recorded, Banks left and was replaced by Steve Howe, who appears in the video.  Anderson plays a guitar in the video, but most likely didn't play it on the record.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Obama Campaign Still Asking For Money

The election ended almost a month ago, didn't it?  President Obama called it his "last election", didn't he?  Why, then, is his campaign still asking for contributions?  The answer is that he's asking his supporters to fill out a form backing his plan to increase taxes for the "wealthiest Americans"?

Read the story at Politicker.

I Can't Believe We Made It

A look back on growing up in previous decades and how things were different back then: