9/02/2014

Emily Does Freddie Proud (Bumped)

BeezleBub and I just finished watching the first semifinal round of America's Got Talent, something we watch every season.

Not once have I ever commented on any of the acts I've seen on the show or on any of the other competitions shows because, quite frankly, it has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. But after tonight's performance on AGT by Emily West I feel I must say something.

At this point I must state that I have been a fan of Queen since I first heard Killer Queen on the radio in the 70's. One of my all time favorites songs by them is Forever from the soundtrack of The Highlander. In all the years I've listened to that song I've always thought no one but the late great Freddie Mercury could sing that song and do it justice. I've heard dozens of covers by a wide range of singers, one or two who sounded something like Freddie but didn't have the range he did, and none of them pulled it off.

That is no longer true.

Emily West's performance was impeccable. She made the song hers rather than just another poor cover of Freddie's performance.

Once the video of tonight's performance is available I will update this post.

UPDATE Here's the video as promised. One thing I noticed after watching it again was she made a small mistake with the lyrics, but that didn't distract from her performance.

ISIS Kills Second American Captive

ISIS executes a second American citizen and Obama's response is to go on TV and look concerned.

Yeah, like that will have them shaking in their boots.

Glenn Reynolds was right when he stated that another Carter Administration was the best case scenario for Obama's tenure in the White House.

8/31/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

Here it is, Labor Day Weekend, the official “end” of summer. More than a few people I've talked to over the weekend have wondered where the summer's gone. It seems like Memorial Day was just a couple of weeks ago and Fourth of July was just last week. I know I haven't done nearly as much as I had hoped to do when summer started, and here we are at the end of summer.

While summer doesn't end until the autumnal equinox in about three weeks, for all intents and purposes it's over. Schools are open or will be reopening this coming week. Vacations have ended and summer tourist attractions are closing their doors.

While I expect we'll still see quite a few weekenders still making the trip up here for some last-of-summer weather, including boating and swimming, for the most part it's over. The only thing we have coming up will be the fall foliage season which will see its peak here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire some time around the first week of October.

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Keith Koffler asks the very important question: “Do you want to know why there is no ISIS strategy?”

Could it be our President has none because he's in over his head? He thought his job was done when he pulled our troops out of Iraq and that everyone would play nice from that time forward. Unfortunately Reality WorldTM had different ideas and is showing our erstwhile Commander-In-Chief that there are truly effin' evil people out there who have no problem slaughtering people they don't like, including American journalists, in an effort to create yet another Evil Empire.

As Edmund Burke stated, “All that's required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Somehow I doubt making statements that “he's looking into the situation” means Obama is actually doing something about anything.

I figure one of two things will have to happen before TOTUS does anything beyond dropping some bombs: either an ISIS massacre of Americans over there or another 9/11 strike by them here. Even then I doubt he'll do much other than wanting to reason with people that cannot reason, only kill.

Despite what the MSM has decided, the is not ”cool and calm in a crisis. It merely means he really has no idea how bad it is.

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Mike at Cold Fury dives into the EU's vacuum cleaner kerfuffle where the “we're much smarter than you are and you need us to tell you how to live your lives” EU bureaucracy is pushing for almost draconian home appliance efficiency standards that will make most of them perform poorly (if at all) but at a much higher cost. How is this supposed to help anyone?

It seems this cancer may also make its ways to these shores as Obama, not wanting to be outdone, wants to make us suffer under the same stupid and ineffective mandates.

This is as bad as the low-flush toilets that we're forced to buy. The idea sounds great but they don't really save any water because in many cases it takes more than one flush to evacuate the bowl of the effluvia. The end result is that they end up using more water than the old 'inefficient' toilets. I find this to be particularly galling in a part of the country that has no issues with water supply, nor has it for hundreds of years.

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It doesn't take much research to see that there are two possible outcomes to cities under blue rule: Deline and decay of the cities such as seen in Detroit; or rising housing prices and decreasing supply that drive out both the middle class and the poor such as is seen in San Francisco and Portland, Oregon. Some may be blamed on draconian housing regulations, but most of the blame must be laid at the feet of the leftists running the cities.

Of the second type, many of those blue cities are becoming bastions of the wealthy socialists who are becoming increasingly disconnected from the rest of America and more divorced from the realities the rest of us must face every day.

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Call this another example of Leftist projection, in this case committed by Obama:

The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all, and that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m President of the United States of America...

Projection indeed. Then again, from what I've observed over the past 5 years, Obama doesn't believe the rules, the law, or the Constitution apply to him.

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This is something I've known for years from direct observation both here and south of the border in the People's Republic: Massachusetts has the worst drivers.

More often than not I find Massachusetts drivers tend to act as if driving were some kind of a contest or form of combat, particularly when they're up here on vacation. It's even worse once you cross the border and approach the environs of Boston.

Whenever you see a vehicle with Massachusetts plates up here it's a good idea to give it a wide berth and to anticipate the driver will do something annoying, unexpected, and stupid.

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Note to terrorists: This might not be such a good idea.

Judicial Watch is saying a terrorist attack is imminent somewhere along the Mexico/Texas border.

Considering how many people are armed in Texas, that might be a much shorter – and suicidal – mission than they may have planned for. To paraphrase a line from one of my favorite original Star Trek episodes, A Piece Of The Action, “You try to hit here and you'll be opened up on from every window on the street.”

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The idea of yet another war in Europe isn't as unthinkable as it once was, particularly in light of what Russia has done to Georgia and now Ukraine as well as Obama's show of weakness in the face of conflict.

As Glenn Reynolds writes, “ If I were the Poles I’d be arming up bigtime. And if I were the Baltics, I’d be doing my best to become indigestible. I think I’d try to develop a special-forces capability to wreck Russia’s oil pipelines and other facilities; that seems like the cheapest way to make a Putin invasion expensive.”

Indeed. Goodness knows they won't be able to count on us for because our TOTUS has all but gone ROAD (Retired On Active Duty) on America. Then again Obama has shown nothing but contempt for our allies and has sucked up top our enemies. If war comes, it ain't gonna be pretty and may well be worse than what Europe suffered in World War II.

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When our roof leaked this past July after a heavy thunderstorm with lots of wind and rain – it was patched temporarily - we hemmed and hawed about having our roof replaced. My biggest concern was finding someone who would do a great job, not doing a crappy one that would only have to be done again in a few years because both the work and materials were deficient.

This past Wednesday we finally signed a contract to have the roof on the main part of the house replaced, including replacing some damaged sheathing. While the roof on the breezeway and garage are not in the greatest condition, it isn't in nearly as bad shape as the main house and could probably go few more years before it becomes necessary to replace them.

The work starts towards the end of September, just in time for us to get the rest of The Manse and its grounds to be prepped for the upcoming winter.

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And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where we have one more day summer, the summer weather is hanging around for at least another week, and where many a summer vacation has ended and will exist only in our memories.

8/29/2014

Our Welfare State Is Failing

As the national debt keeps growing because our government can't seem to spend within its means, one has to ask how much longer our once free enterprise state turned welfare state can support the increasing number of recipients with a shrinking number of taxpayers? Not much longer, if Michael Tanner is right.

According to calculations by Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, based on data from the Office of Management and Budget, roughly 60 percent of Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in federal taxes. A Tax Foundation study suggests that as many as 70 percent of Americans are net recipients of government largesse. Those numbers will only grow worse in the future.

These numbers should scare us for two reasons. A healthy economy cannot realistically depend on an ever-shrinking number of people to produce the wealth that will be distributed to the larger population. As Margaret Thatcher reputedly said about the problem facing modern welfare states, eventually they “always run out of other people’s money.”

When government funded entitlements take up a bigger piece of the budget every year, the point will be reached when the government itself won't have the funds it needs in order to perform even its constitutionally mandated functions. Almost every penny collected in taxes or borrowed from others will go to paying the entitlements – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, Veteran's benefits, government pensions, food stamps, subsidized housing, and hundreds of other 'benefits' the government provides – leaving very little left over to perform the duties the government should be performing. Think it won't happen? Recent history proves otherwise. All one has to do is look at the recent examples of Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece, and Spain. All of those countries were forced into taking severe austerity measures because they “ran out of other people's money.” Greece was the most hard hit, with many government-paid entitlements cut back or eliminated entirely. Thousands of government employees lost their jobs because there was no money to pay them. The Greek economy, already on shaky ground, collapsed. Only bailouts by the EU helped them survive. Unlike Greece, we have no one to bail us out.

Some may think all we have to do is increase taxes, but when we've already reached the point of diminishing returns where raising taxes will actually decrease the amount of revenue collected and have a negative effect on the economy. That will push some in government to raise taxes again which will do nothing but fuel the vicious death spiral that ends up with a bankrupt government and an all but moribund economy.

A perfect example of one of the long standing benefits that will have to be curtailed is Social Security. If the taxes collected from workers had been invested in simple interest bearing accounts or mutual funds rather than spent as fast as they came in, Social Security would be solvent and almost every retiree would have a sizable stipend to support them in old age. Because they weren't the money needed to pay benefits in the not too distant future won't be there. I doubt I'll see a penny of the money I've paid into the system since I was 15 years old.

Only a major upheaval in our system will force Congress to make the needed changes to prevent our growing welfare system from collapsing and taking our economy with it. Without those changes a repeat of the situation in Greece will be the best case scenario and Atlas Shrugged will be the worst case. Neither is an attractive outcome.

8/27/2014

Yet Another Clueless Obamabot Chimes In

Once again all I need to do to find posting fodder is turn to one of our local newspaper's Letters section and one or two will present themselves that deserve a response...usually ridicule pointing out the author's ignorance – willful or not – about the realities behind their accusations.

The latest perpetrator, one Paul, writes:

I know a little bit about the time of the $787 billion stimulus plan.

At that time banks, the insurance companies behind the banks and the U.S. automobile industry were all in trouble. The stock market was below 7,000 and we were losing jobs at an alarming rate.

Today our financial institution are stable, the stock market is flirting with 17,000 and the private sector has been growing jobs every month since the middle of 2009. The U.S. automobile industry is alive and kicking.

As for the so called "Disastrous Obamacare" please look at the numbers. Thousands and thousands of people without insurance now have insurance. They have a chance at better health care and now have a better chance at early detection of serious illness. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) saves lives.

As to Paul's first point, almost everyone, including a lot of Democrats, know the $787 billion was wasted taxpayer money. Of that total, only $55 billion had any direct effect on the economy as it went towards actual work, in this case the repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure and the creation of new infrastructure. It was a drop in the bucket. The rest? Payoffs to Obama supporters, crony capitalists, and grifters who took hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and pissed them away, creating no new jobs, no new economic activity, but a boatload of new debt our children and grandchildren will have to pay off. The recovery of the stock market happened in spite of the stimulus, not because of it.

Of the two auto companies that went into bankruptcy, one of them – GM – was bailed out illegally by the President, who unconstitutionally interfered with the normal bankruptcy proceedings as a payoff to Big Labor. Chrysler survived because it was bought by Fiat. Ford was smart and didn't go bankrupt or require a government bailout. Kudos to them.

And as far as the stock market recovery, all it signifies at this point is the recovery in the value of assets and nothing more. That the Dow Jones is around 17,000 points is not an indicator of the health of the economy. It does not signify the jobless rate (the U6 unemployment rate, not the oft touted and totally bogus U3 rate), nor actual economic activity.

Next, his crowing about how Obamacare his provided insurance to “thousands and thousands” ignores the “millions and millions” who lost their health insurance because of Obamacare and now have to pay much higher premiums for 'new' policies that provide less coverage, won't let them keep their doctor or use the local hospital. As an added insult, access to health insurance does not automatically equate to access to health care. A lot of medical practices aren't taking new patients, with or without health insurance. Others that are may be an hour or two drive away. So it helped “thousands and thousands” at the cost of hurting “millions and millions”. Yeah, that was a great tradeoff, and we still haven't seen all the effects as some mandates have been postponed – again unconstitutionally by Obama – and others due to go into effect at the first of the year will knock a lot of employers and their workers for a loop as new taxes, fees, and other requirements kick in.

Before praising the success of the stimulus and Obamacare, maybe Paul should have looked into all the effects rather than just the positive ones. I think he would have found the negative far outweighed the positive.

8/26/2014

Emily Does Freddie Proud

BeezleBub and I just finished watching the first semifinal round of America's Got Talent, something we watch every season.

Not once have I ever commented on any of the acts I've seen on the show or on any of the other competitions shows because, quite frankly, it has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. But after tonight's performance on AGT by Emily West I feel I must say something.

At this point I must state that I have been a fan of Queen since I first heard Killer Queen on the radio in the 70's. One of my all time favorites songs by them is Forever from the soundtrack of The Highlander. In all the years I've listened to that song I've always thought no one but the late great Freddie Mercury could sing that song and do it justice. I've heard dozens of covers by a wide range of singers, one or two who sounded something like Freddie but didn't have the range he did, and none of them pulled it off.

That is no longer true.

Emily West's performance was impeccable. She made the song hers rather than just another poor cover of Freddie's performance.

Once the video of tonight's performance is available I will update this post.

8/24/2014

Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a wonderful weekend here in our home town, with Old Home Day taking place Saturday and great summer weather on Sunday. Not that the weather Saturday wasn't good, being in the upper 70's, but there was some cloudiness that made it feel a little cool during mid afternoon. If that's the worst I can say about the weekend, then you know it was a good one.

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Stacy McCain posts about the Madness of “Gender Theory”, its roots in fascism (which he describing even if he doesn't realize it), and the thorough brain-washing of radical feminists. All one has to do is read their screeds and you will come away with the same conclusion as Stacy:

No normal person talks this way. People must be taught to babble this ideological nonsense, which always reminds me of George Orwell's aphorism: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that; no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

Then again many of the self-anointed intellectuals are so disconnected from the rest of the population they have no understanding that it is they who are the fools. Then again, being an intellectual does not imply they have intelligence.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)

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Eric the Viking has this one right.

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Kevin Williamson asks “Who lost the cities?”

The answer can be found in places like Detroit, San Francisco, Chicago, Newark, Patterson, Camden, and an increasingly long list of cities. The common denominator has been decades of institutionalized racism perpetrated by one Democrat administration after another, making promises and buying votes with money they had to take from the productive citizens and businesses, driving them out and drying up the supply of other people's money. The race-baiters and hucksters have made sure they get their cut even as they betray the very people they supposedly represent. If the people they want to help actually managed to make it out of the perpetual cycle of poverty, these same folks would lose their constituency and their income, so it's in their best interest to keep the downtrodden in that state, their protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

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AVI delves into the issue of the differences between liberals and conservatives and how the respective groups spread their beliefs to others (socially versus intellectual argument and reasoning) . While I don't agree with everything he posits, I have to say that for the most part he's dead on target.

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I agree with Bird Dog 100% on this matter in regards to ordering at Dunkin Donuts...or anywhere else, for that matter.

Don't wait until you're at the cashier to make up your mind what it is you want to order and, if there's a long line behind you, think twice about 'custom' orders that take a lot of time to order and make, okay?

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It's only bad when the GOP does this to Liberals. If it's the other way around it's perfectly OK, right?

Unsealed documents are revealing the political corruption in Wisconsin behind the “John Doe” investigations into supporters of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

Did they really think they were going to get away with it? Of course they did, just as it's been going in in neighboring Illinois for decades. But Wisconsin isn't Illinois and the Democrats got caught pushing malicious investigations with the sole purpose of suppressing any support for GOP candidates and office holders.

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And that's the (abbreviated) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the last full weekend of summer is fading away, the kids are returning to school this week, and where summer weather is expected to hang on for at least a few more days.

8/23/2014

No One Really Knows What Happened...Yet

Now that the narrative on the shooting of an unarmed black teen in Ferguson, Missouri is starting to unravel, one has to wonder if when the entire truth is revealed whether it will quell the unrest seen there or spur on even more violence.

It has already been seen that the so-called “Gentle Giant”, Michael Brown, wasn't as gentle as some believe, having been an active participant of a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store with his friend, the same friend who was with him when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson confronted the pair as they were walking down the middle of a street, asking them to get out off the street and onto the sidewalk.

Allegations have been made that the shooting of Brown by Wilson was unprovoked and racially motivated, but now it appears that Wilson may have been beaten by Brown, evidenced by the broken bones in his face.

Somehow I doubt that even if there was video of the altercation from multiple viewing angles with the video showed Brown attacking Officer Wilson in his vehicle and Wilson responding with deadly force that the calls for Wilson's death would lessen, particularly with the media egging on the residents and protesters in Ferguson. It doesn't fit the “America is the most racist country in the world” narrative.

Frankly, I will wait until all the investigations have been finished and the conclusions made public. Until then no one really knows what happened that fateful night in Ferguson.

8/22/2014

A Question No One In The Media Is Asking

Received via e-mail:


Click on Image to enlarge

8/20/2014

Cable Companies Reach A Tipping Point

As the costs of video programming has been climbing, the number of subscribers to that programming on cable and satellite systems has been dropping. That's no secret, nor has it been unexpected. A side effect has been the number of subscribers to broadband has been climbing as more consumers drop their video services and use video streaming services like, Netflix, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, iTunes, and others instead.

As this change has been happening it's been inevitable that at some point the number of video subscribers would drop below the number of broadband subscribers. That point has been reached.

Leichtman Research Group (LRG) says the largest U.S. cable TV operators now have more high speed access customers than they do video customers, according to  Bruce Leichtman, LRG president and principal analyst.

Not only are the largest telcos and cable companies dramatically changing their revenue sources, but the basic “product” has become a bundle of services, anchored by broadband services of two types: high speed Internet access and video entertainment.

The “video entertainment” is the aforementioned streaming video and its share has been growing at a rate far above that of regular video subscription falloff.

It would not surprise me if at some point cable operators stop carrying traditional video programming altogether and switch all of their operations over to broadband.

8/19/2014

The Next Step In Space Flight

This is how rockets are supposed to come back to Earth...sort of.


This was the first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9R after launching the ORBCOMM satellite, re-entering the atmosphere, and soft-landing on the ocean.

Future launches will attempt a soft-landing on the ground, something that, if successful, can further decrease the cost of launching payloads into orbit. There will be no need to use a new first stage booster for every launch, something that can dramatically reduce the costs and turnaround times associated with space flight.

(H/T NextBigFuture)