According to the United States Geological Survey, there has been an average of 3051 earthquakes per annum in the United States since 2000.
Also according to the USGS, there have been 901 earthquakes in the United States in the past week. All of these have been relatively small — mostly 1.0 to 2.0s — but the sheer volume is disconcerting. The cluster around Yellowstone is particularly, uh, interesting.
I’m no scientist, but my understanding here is that this is either A) Good because it means that lots of pressure is being released harmlessly, or B) Bad because there’s more pressure than can be let off easily through these earthquakes.
Anyway, I’m going to fill my car’s gas tank, just in case.
Tom posted this at 11:39 PM CDT on Tuesday, December 30th, 2008 as Science!
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I always believed you were born gay, even before that became the only acceptable opinion on homosexuality.
I now know FOUR gay people who have “gone straight” and married women.
I also know one straight guy who, after a bad break-up with a woman, decided to only date men.
What’s up with that?
Sexual orientation is complicated. My own theory is that it’s shaped both by genes and the environment. One ex-boyfriend of mine has since married a woman; I’ve lost touch with him and have no idea if they’re still together. (No comments from the peanut gallery about how I turned him straight, please. First, I’ve probably heard it already; second, this man had quite a few other issues.) I also dated a transman for a time; when a friend asked me if this made me gay or straight, I suggested that either way I was queer.
I don’t think that “born gay” is the only acceptable opinion on homosexuality, but activists on both sides are intent on framing the issue as either involuntary or voluntary. That something can be complicated is too advanced an idea for the gay and anti-gay rights activist alike.
Hubbard posted this at 1:11 PM CDT on Monday, December 29th, 2008 as Here and Queer
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$35 oil! I’m calling $25 by April, if not sooner.
Apollo posted this at 10:17 PM CDT on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 as I have seen the future. . .
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Is that year after year, people keep making travel arrangements through parts of the country that get large quantities of snow and tiny quantities of heat, and then act surprised when something terrible happens to them. I’ve got a friend back home who seemed genuinely surprised that a Denver layover in December resulted in not getting to her destination until a day later.
Come on, people, reroute those flights through the southern states; catch that train in St. Louis, not Chicago! Or at least be prepared for some of us to react to your horror story with a chuckle and a, “What did you think would happen?”
Apollo posted this at 12:50 PM CDT on Wednesday, December 24th, 2008 as Amer-I-Can!
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I went to a Wal-Mart in southern California tonight. It had no fewer than 26 permits and licenses displayed, from the city, county, and state governments, including at least three from the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation. I poop you not, that’s a real state agency.
Of course, it doesn’t phase Wal-Mart at all to get those permits and licenses. They probably have several people employed full time making sure that their California stores have all the permits and licenses they need. Because big corporations make large sums of money, they can afford such large, wasteful expenditures.
Mom and pop, though, can’t. If you wanted to open a custom upolstery business, would it dawn on you that there were no fewer than three sections of the California Business and Professions Code specifically devoted to governing your behavior, including one that required you to have a custom upholstery license (unless, of course, you already held a “bedding manufacturer’s license” – nothing gets my goat more than unlicensed bedding manufacturers!)? Traditionally, if someone operated a custom upholstery business and exceeded the cost estimate he provided to his customers, he quickly went out of business because there would be negative word of mouth and no repeat customers. In California, however, such behavior is a frickin’ crime!
Wal-Mart’s not in the custom upholstery business. But they do sell sheets and various sorts of bedding. And as such, they need at least three permits from this single government agency. To sell sheets. Because, I guess, Californians are so stupid that if they were left to their own devices they couldn’t buy proper bedding. They’d probably buy bags of potato peelings to cover themselves and gallons of gasoline to fill their waterbeds, and wonder why they woke up feeling starchy and engulfed in flames. Let us stop and thank God above that the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation is there to prevent such a travesty.
Apollo posted this at 3:02 AM CDT on Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008 as It's Economics - Stupid!
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At the in-laws, and I’m trying to figure out what the “Black Sesame Paste” in their cupboard is. Since I don’t read Mandarin, here’s the English description from the back:
It is a kind of Daifloon which can be eaten at first sight. The material of it is high quality black sesame, smelling rice, sugar. And it is made from modern new scientific schedule and formula by advanced product equipment. It is not contain artificial pigment, antiseptic. It has fresh color, delicious, special distinctive flavor, and full nutrition. It can be mixed as you like. It is smelling and sweet. It is very convenient to you for eating. And it can supply protein, plant crude fiber, fertilizer, mineral things and vitamin which are the basic need of a person. It is fit for all kinds of people. It is a good choice of family breakfast, lunch, a kind of food before you go to bed, and fast food in your travel.
At last, a reliable source of mineral things!
Apollo posted this at 4:49 PM CDT on Sunday, December 21st, 2008 as Humor, Those Wacky Foreigners
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Jamie, have you been making music videos?
Hubbard posted this at 11:28 PM CDT on Saturday, December 20th, 2008 as Commie Recrudescence, Humor
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When contemplating a mess that Napoleon had made, the chief of France’s secret police, Joseph Fouche, grimly said, “It was worse than a crime; it was an unforced error.”
In that light, we must consider Joe Conason’s view of the Obama-Blagojevich mess.
First, here’s an assessment of Conason from the prophet that still stands:
Conason made a name for himself defending Bill Clinton by attacking the people who attacked Bill Clinton. No matter what Bill Clinton did or said it didn’t matter because the other guys were worse. Conason always claims he’s doing real reporting, just-the-facts variety. That’s fine, and I’m sure it’s true. But it seems the only facts he ever comes back with are the ones best suited to help Bill Clinton. He’s like Yosemite Sam as a castaway in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. Stuck on an island with nothing to eat but coconuts, Sam makes coconut alfredo, coconut à l’orange, coconut fricassee, coconut hash, etc. The only difference is that Yosemite Sam eventually gets fed up and yells “I hate coconuts!” But Conason’s appetite for creating Clinton-defending concoctions is inexhaustible.
So now when Conason criticizes Obama, attention must be paid:
The impulse to create distance between Obama and Blagojevich was understandable, given their common political roots in Chicago, but was excessive in its zeal and haste. By seeming to suggest that there had been no contact with the Illinois governor about appointing a new senator to replace him, Obama and his aides set up a scenario that could only be punctured by subsequent facts.
Indeed, Obama had every right and reason to be concerned with who might replace him in the Senate — and there was certainly nothing wrong with him or anyone who works for him engaging in discussions of that matter with Blagojevich. But as the scandal emerged, all such contacts suddenly seemed to carry a taint — an impression that Obama seemed to affirm. Reflexively but wrongly, he behaved as if no such discussions had occurred, without quite saying so.
So when the Chicago Tribune reported that Rahm Emanuel had in fact discussed the Senate appointment with Blagojevich or his aides on nearly two dozen occasions, it meant trouble. There is no indication that the incoming White House chief of staff engaged in any illegal or unethical conduct. There is certainly no indication that those contacts were “inappropriate.” But the revelation encouraged every insinuation that Obama and his staff are somehow obscuring the real nature and extent of their relationship with the disgraced governor.
This political problem arose in part because Obama was so eager to appear purer than any politician can actually be. In his initial statements, he sounded as if he was trying to say that he knew nothing at all about the selection of his successor. “I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening,” he told the press, and refused to elaborate.
That remark clarified nothing; today it seems like obfuscation at best and prevarication at worst. Nobody is likely to believe that Emanuel spoke more than 20 times with Blagojevich or the governor’s aide John Harris without informing Obama about those conversations. To insist that he had “no contact” when his top aide was involved in so many contacts is precisely the kind of parsing that undermines confidence.
If these shadows remain unaltered, the Obama presidency will be the golden age of the unforced error. Conason understands this. For Democrats and Republicans alike, the question will be how do we handle what Obama will throw at us?
It’s going to be an interesting 4 years.
Hubbard posted this at 10:40 AM CDT on Friday, December 19th, 2008 as Lord, What Fools These Mortals Be!, Politics, The Past Is Never Dead--It Isn't Even Past
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Today’s progressives apologize to the world for America’s treatment of terrorists (not a single one of whom has been executed). Franklin Roosevelt, when faced with German saboteurs (who had caused not a single casualty), had them electrocuted and buried in numbered graves next to a sewage plant.
The counterpart to Republican incompetence has been a Democratic opposition warped by sentiment. The deaths of thousands of Americans in attacks upon our embassies, warships, military barracks, civil aviation, capital, and largest city were not a criminal matter but an act of war made possible by governments and legions of enablers in the Arab world. Nothing short of war — although not the war we have waged — could have been sufficient in response. The opposition is embarrassed by patriotism and American self-interest, but above all it is blind to the gravity of the matter. Though scattered terrorists allied with militarily insignificant states are not, as some conservatives assert, closely analogous to Nazi Germany, the accessibility of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons makes the destructive capacity of these antagonists unfortunately similar — a fact, especially in regard to Iran, that is persistently whistled away by the Left.
An existential threat of such magnitude cannot be averted by imagining that it is the work of one man and will disappear with his death; by mousefully pleasing the rest of the world; by hopefully excluding the tools of war; or by diplomacy without the potential of force, which is like a policeman without a gun, something that doesn’t work anymore even in Britain. The Right should have labored to exhaustion to forge a coalition, and the Left should have been willing to proceed without one. The Right should have been more respectful of constitutional protections, and the Left should have joined in making temporary and clearly defined exceptions. In short, the Right should have had the wit to fight, and the Left should have had the will to fight.
Read it all.
Hubbard posted this at 10:26 AM CDT on Friday, December 19th, 2008 as George Bush Sucks!, Global War on Terror
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During the campaign, Barry quite unpersuasively told people that he opposed gay marriage. Anyone with a head on their shoulders knew that this was a lie – leftist law professor, neck deep in activist politics, who takes every conventional liberal position (such as opposing Prop. 8, though for extremely unpersuasive reasons); the odds of him actually not wanting gay marriage were exactly zero.
But, of course, we all went along with it; the right went along with it to claim that every sensible person opposed gay marriage, the left went along to show that their candidate was mainstream. Still, I’m sure that only the most credulous actually believed him.
Where the strings start showing is when Obama selects someone who opposes gay marriage to speak at his inauguration, and leftists go nuts. Of course, technically Rick Warren will be the first of two speakers that day who publicly oppose gay marriage, the other being Barry. But the reason the leftists are getting upset is because they know what every sensible person knows: Barack Obama supports gay marriage, but lied during the campaign for politically expediency. If that wasn’t what they believed, why would they now be cranky?
N.B. I think I should add that I have no opinion of Rick Warren whatsoever.
Apollo posted this at 1:58 AM CDT on Friday, December 19th, 2008 as That's Not Change!
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Conor has thrown out a question: will same-sex marriage undermine religious liberty? My answer: Very possibly.
Catholic charities in Massachusetts once handled many adoptions, and they refused to place children in the homes of same-sex couples, which got them sued. When they lost the lawsuit and the court said they could not “discriminate” against same-sex couples, the Catholic charities shut down rather than be forced to go against their faith.
Hypothetical question: could a same-sex couple get married in a Catholic church? The church would argue that since they don’t recognize same-sex unions, they could not. Quite a few gay Catholics would love to pick a fight over this. As surely as George W. Bush will mangle the English language, someone is going to file a lawsuit about this.
Elizabeth Scalia (aka the Anchoress) foresaw this question and proposed a thoughtful and humane way to deal with it:
[T]he churches should reconsider their roles in authenticating marriage. Governments issue birth certificates; churches issue baptismal certificates. Governments issue death certificates; churches pray the funerals. Governments issue divorces; Churches annul. Both work within their separate and necessary spheres, serving the corporeal and the spiritual. It is only in the issue of marriage that church and state have commingled authority. That should perhaps change, and soon. Let the government certify and the churches sanctify according to their rites and sacraments.
Given that expensive litigation is as American as arrested development, we probably won’t do it her way. Let the ugly begin.
Hubbard posted this at 10:03 AM CDT on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 as Faith, Here and Queer
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AP writers are *gasp* withholding their bylines in order to pressure management in contract talks. Personally, I’m not sure how much pressure this exerts. Historically, a lot of journalism has been published without a byline, and some publications, like The Economist, still carry on this tradition. But perhaps the AP writers know more about the journalism business than do I:
The Guild said it had opened with a 10 percent wage increase proposal, “but has indicated flexibility at the bargaining table.”
Besides withholding bylines from stories and photographs, the Guild said some employees “planned to withhold use of their personal vehicles, cellphones, and other equipment, while others were ‘working to rule.’”
The Guild said the protest began Sunday and is “set to end later this week.”
AP president and chief executive Tom Curley said last month that the New York-based AP, a cooperative owned by 1,500 daily US newspapers, plans to reduce its staff by 10 percent over the next year, mostly through attrition.
The move, which would amount to more than 400 jobs, was necessary because of a reduction in fees paid by member newspapers, many of which are facing financial difficulties, and the declining economy, Curley said.
You see, if my employer was cutting 10% of its workforce because its revenue stream was drying up, I would not ask for a 10% raise for doing the same job I’ve been doing. Indeed, I might infer that part of my employer’s failure was do in some microscopic part to the work me and my colleagues were doing, and thus getting militant at the negotiating table might cause them to just fire the lot of us and start anew with cheaper and more productive workers. After all, it’s not as though AP writers have a unique skill set; probably a hundred thousand college graduates a year could be passable beat reporters with a month of training.
But then, I’m not a unionized journalist, so what do I know about economics? Strike on, nameless comrades!
Apollo posted this at 12:53 PM CDT on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 as It's Economics - Stupid!, Journalism
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Some people seem to be taking notice that Caroline Kennedy’s only qualification for the senate is that several other people named Kennedy have served in the senate.
But isn’t that enough? We just elected a less-than-one-term senator to be president. Kennedy seeks to replace someone whose sole qualification for senate was that her husband was president. If C. Kennedy is still in the senate in 2012, she’ll have won one election, which is the same as John Edwards, so she’ll be fully prepared to run for the vice presidency. Perhaps she could even challenge the Holy One; if he doesn’t produce enough Change over the next few years, she probably could. It’ll be a return to Camelot!
Apollo posted this at 2:22 AM CDT on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 as Politics
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It’s long been noted that those who have no qualms at offending Christians frequently have qualms when faced with the prospect of offending Muslims. I think, excluding fear of retaliatory violence, this is merely a subset of the patronizing views of the American left toward the spirituality of non-white peoples.
Today’s exhibit: Playboy offers its “sincerest apologies” for offending Mexicans by putting the Virgin Mary on the cover of its Mexican edition.
Does anyone seriously think that Playboy would apologize if a similar image had caused offense in America? I normally hate arguing with hypotheticals, but if Mary appeared on the American edition and some American Christians got cranky, we’d almost certainly get lengthy discussions about the First Amendment, and how important the right to offend is, and how complaining Christians are a threat to free speech. Moreover, we’d get a Saturday Night Live skit about evangelicals being a bunch of prudes. This ritual has been repeated so many times, it’s impossible to not see it happening.
But a darker skinned people has their religion offended, it’s time to apologize!
Apollo posted this at 9:29 PM CDT on Saturday, December 13th, 2008 as Faith, Race
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