Monthly Archives: August 2009

Anything’s possible

I had a law professor who illustrated the “innocent construction” doctrine in defamation law with the following case from the 17th or 18th century: A brewer sued a farmer for defamation after the farmer declared that his horse could piss a better beer than the brewer sold. Citing the innocent construction rule, the court ruled in favor of the farmer because it was possible that he had an extraordinary horse. »

Turn it up!

Today Van Morrison — singer, songwriter and world class artist — celebrated his sixty-fourth birthday. Van is an artist who has absorbed all the strains of American popular music and recapitulated them in his own unique voice. As such, he stands shoulder to shoulder with the greats in my pantheon of popular music idols. I don’t think we have quite taken his measure. Beginning with “Astral Weeks” in 1968, Van »

Obama’s Slide Continues

Going on vacation hasn’t helped Barack Obama’s standing with the American people. Among likely voters, his standing continues to slide: 41 percent strongly disapprove of his job performance, while overall, voters disapprove by a 53-46 percent margin, the worst of Obama’s term. This is, obviously, the reason why Democrats have become increasingly shrill. Here is a fun statistic: a pitiful 29 percent of voters think that Congress knows what it’s »

Dick Cheney makes a stand; George W. Bush should join him

Former vice president Cheney lashed out yesterday at the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s decision to investigate cases of alleged abuse of terrorists detainees. Among other comments, Cheney said he was okay with cases where interrogators went beyond what they were authorized to do. This is a significant remark, I think. The Obama administration is trying to walk a fine line with its investigation. By investigating something (and likely prosecuting someone), it »

Go for it, Brett

As I write this post, the Minnesota Vikings are playing the Houston Texans in a pre-season game. I have no idea how the game is going, nor do I intend to watch it. I rarely watch football games, even during the regular season, that don’t involve the Washington Redskins. I confess, however, to having some interest in the Vikings this year ever since they brought Brett Favre on board. The »

The End of Meritocracy?

The Today show has hired Jenna Bush Hager to do a monthly feature story on education. This seemingly innocuous announcement prompted one of the sillier recent outbursts of liberal hand-wringing. The New York Times’s Opinionator blog collected some of the left-wing commentary under the title “There Goes the Meritocracy.” If irony was intended it was too subtle for me to pick up. Rather, the Times seems to take seriously various »

Spread the wealth around revisited

When Barack Obama responded to the Ohio plumber who didn’t want his taxes raised that he wanted to “spread the wealth around,” I wanted to tell him to spread his own wealth around. It was in any event a rare moment of candor on the part of candidate Obama. Obama all but told the plumber that his wealth should be seized in the name of equity. The encounter played out »

Solar Eclipse

It’s over now, of course, but if you go to Astronomy Picture of the Day, there are some cool photos from last month’s eclipse. Like this one; click to enlarge: Here’s the caption: The July 22nd total solar eclipse was the longest of the 21st century. From the point of maximum eclipse along the Moon’s shadow track across the Pacific Ocean, the Moon completely blocked the Sun for a total »

Frost Warning

It wouldn’t be quite right to say that 2009 was a year without a summer here in the Upper Midwest, but it came uncomfortably close. Now we have frost warnings for northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. Some places in the region recorded record lows today. Gardeners are being warned to protect sensitive plants lest they freeze. In August. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson: Jack Frost is running about freezing tomatoes. But »

Bomb Iran?

Dick Cheney was on Fox News Sunday this morning. As usual, he had much to say that was of interest. You can imagine what he thinks of Eric Holder’s decision to re-investigate the CIA. What was most newsworthy, however, was this exchange in which Cheney seems to make clear that he advocated taking out Iran’s nuclear capability: WALLACE: There’s a question I’ve wanted to ask you for some period of »

The Trouble With Teddy

My mother once told me that if I can’t say anything good about a decedent, I shouldn’t say anything at all. That’s why I’ve had no comment on Ted Kennedy’s demise. I have, however, commented on the Democrats’ effort to re-brand their failing health care push with Kennedy’s image, which seems misguided at best. Chris Muir explains why; click to enlarge: It’s too early to say whether Kennedy nostalgia will »

I’m Not Sure Whether This Is Right…

…but if so, it’s pretty scary. From ZeroHedge: [W]hile the tech boom of the late 1990’s was driven by some very real secular shifts caused by unique technological innovation which, aside from the exuberance associated with some of the dot com names, brought a marked benefit to the global economy, how does one explain the subsequent ramp up as the credit bubble was being inflated and subsequently imploded? Simple – »

Do you notice anything shrivelling?

James Thurber and E.B. White asked the question Is Sex Necessary? in the title of their humorous 1929 book. In the book Thurber and White set out to parody the pseudoscientific works flooding the market on the subject. In his foreword to the seventy-fifth anniversary edition of the book, John Updike explored its origins. He recalled Thurber’s own troubled marriage to former campus beauty queen Althea Adams. “Their union early »

Blood For Oil

The real thing, this time: leaked British diplomatic correspondence published in the London Times appears to make it clear that Great Britain let Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi go in order to finalize an oil deal with Libya: The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters »

If you think the Obama magic is wearing off here. . .

A survey released on Friday shows that only 4 percent of Jewish Israelis believe President Obama’s policies are more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. Fifty-one percent believe that his policies are more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel. Thirty-five percent believe Obama is neutral and 10 percent declined to express an opinion. No one, I hope, thought that the question presented a “false choice.” The reactions to these results are rather amusing. According to the »

A Day At the Fair

It’s that time of year again–the end of summer, time for the Minnesota State Fair. This web site owes a lot to the Fair. In August 2002 Hugh Hewitt came to Minnesota and broadcast live from the Fair for a couple of days. Power Line was brand new then and pretty much unknown, but an early fan went to see Hugh’s live broadcast and gave Hugh a piece of paper »

What a Molecule Looks Like

A single molecule has been photographed–sort of–for the first time by a team from IBM. Here it is: The molecule even looks like how it’s diagrammed. The experiment was conducted under very cold conditions: The experiment was also performed inside a high vacuum at the extremely cold temperature of -268C to avoid stray gas molecules or atomic vibrations from affecting the measurements. The molecule pictured is roughly one-millionth the diameter »