September 2011 Archives

The global economic and political order is shaped more by geography than most people realize. Does it bother you that most of America's enemies are funded by American dollars spent to buy oil? Well an American oil boom is the leading edge of a global realignment.

Two years ago, America was importing about two thirds of its oil. Today, according to the Energy Information Administration, it imports less than half. And by 2017, investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts the US could be poised to pass Saudi Arabia and overtake Russia as the world's largest oil producer. ...

Amy Myers Jaffe of Rice University says in the next decade, new oil in the US, Canada and South America could change the center of gravity of the entire global energy supply.

"Some are now saying, in five or 10 years' time, we're a major oil-producing region, where our production is going up," she says.

The US, Jaffe says, could have 2 trillion barrels of oil waiting to be drilled. South America could hold another 2 trillion. And Canada? 2.4 trillion. That's compared to just 1.2 trillion in the Middle East and north Africa.

Glenn Reynolds says that if he ran Russia or Saudi Arabia he'd be funding American environmentalist groups in an attempt to slow down the boom -- and Glenn certainly knows that Saudi Arabia is already campaigning against "ethical oil".

This energy boom may be the most globally significant event right now, thought it will take many years to be fully realized.

The mainstream media continues to ignore Fast and Furious. Recap:

Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice's previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a "botched" operation where agents simply "lost track" of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Hundreds of people were murdered with these guns, and the Left has been attempting to argue for more restrictions on gun ownership based on anecdotes about American weapons making their way south.

The American media has been ignoring this atrocity for too long, but I don't think they'll be able to muffle it forever.

"We don't allow faster than light neutrinos in here" said the bartender. A neutrino walks into a bar.

And more discussion of FTL at Chaos Manor.

Using discriminatory bake sales to advocate against affirmative action isn't a new tactic... I remember similar events when I was at UCLA.

Exit question: why do leftists gladly accept affirmative action in education but bristle at lower prices for baked goods?

More here.

I love League of Legends, even though the past week or so has been incredibly frustrating with a string of losses :( But anyway, good news: Dominion has been released!

Long anticipated, Dominion is a capture-and-hold control point mode for LoL, and I have to say that it's quite fun. The gameplay is very different than Summoner's Rift which is very refreshing. The key differences:

  • Champions start at level three with 1325 gold.
  • A global Crystal Scar aura modifies standard statistics.
    • 15% armor pen, 5% magic pen, 20% healing reduction, mana regen bonus, experience point gain over time
  • Death timers are much shorter.
  • Matches are much shorter, usually 15 - 20 minutes.
  • More champion battles, less creeping, fewer large team fights.

Because of the aura not all champions are well-suited to Dominion. For example, champs without mana or who do a lot of healing will be disadvantaged. (Though the ninjas seem to do quite well.) In general, it seems that tanky-DPS champs dominate the game right now, which is somewhat disappointing because tanky-DPS dominates the vanilla game as well.

Overall the new game mode is extremely fun. The best feature is that it's fast-paced, so you don't need to commit to an hour of uninterrupted play.

Good work Riot!

Fascinating claim that I'll have to ponder: male employment is much more important for society than female employment.

As earned-income increases, marriage rates also increase. A man is simply not a viable potential spouse until he can earn enough to support a family, regardless of the wife's income. Most women want to "marry up" financially, and those of us who promote marriage must take this into account. The employment and income of men is much more important for a healthy society than that of women.

Implication: If stable marriages and families are important for society, then our policies should focus on increasing male employment and income.

Further claim:

A society that wishes to prosper in peace must ensure that the overwhelming majority of young men can marry and keep their wives. As we are not doing that, and there appears to be little appetite for enacting the policies which would encourage that, we should prepare ourselves for our inevitable decline and the destruction that will follow it.

I'm training for the Rock 'n' Roll half-marathon and everything is going pretty well. I've been doing my weekly long runs, and 10 miles was a snap. Last week, though, my 11-mile run was hellish. Blah! What did I learn?

1. If I'm going to do a long run in the evening I shouldn't stand on my feet all day. At work I use a standing desk, but I should sit down as much as possible to prepare for my run, otherwise my feet really hurt.

2. Rest the day before. When I did 10 miles I hadn't run the day before, but when I did 11 miles I had run five miles on each of the previous two days.

I'm going a shorter long run tomorrow -- probably nine miles -- so I'm going to work from home to make sure my body is fresh.

Why have 165+ people recently gone missing from cruise ships? Because they've been murdered.

According to the U.S.-based International Cruise Victims Association, 165 people have gone missing at sea since 1995, with at least 13 this year alone -- many of them from vessels popular with British holidaymakers. ...

But is the idea of someone 'slipping overboard' credible? The rails on cruise ships are at least 3ft 6in high, which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone -- even someone who might be drunk or ill -- to pitch overboard.

Bonk on the head from behind, and then one good shove over the railing. Adios, chum!

When a person disappears from a cruise ship does their home country investigate? Nope! Police from the country where the ship is registered do the investigation, if one is even performed. Do you think that cop from the Bahamas is going to fly around the world interviewing passengers and collecting evidence? Yeah, me neither.

Potential murderers:

1. The most likely killer is always the spouse. Guess who will also have the easiest time luring you onto the floating abattoir?

2. Serial killers. I bet it isn't hard to cruise using a fake identity, not that investigators are ever likely to question you anyway.

3. Robbers. People cruise with jewelry, passports, and other valuables.

4. Co-workers. Crew members go missing too! Co-workers in close proximity for long periods of time have plenty of opportunity for making enemies (anger/jealousy over promotions, romance, etc.).

5. Stowaways. Sneak on board then kill someone and assume their identity for the duration. Or kill someone while they're off the ship on a tour.

Needless to say, I won't be taking a cruise any time soon.

Dad photoshops ewoks into daughter's vacation pictures.

Anthony Herrera has a daughter who really loves Star Wars. So, naturally, before the family went on a big hike through Sequoia National Park, with its giant redwoods and thick green undergrowth, he told her that they were going to visit the place where Ewoks live. (Not far off of course, the Endor scenes of Return of the Jedi were filmed in a redwood forest, but not SNP, I checked.) Naturally, after a day's hike Herrera found himself explaining that Ewoks are very shy and stealthy, and it would have been very, very lucky indeed if they'd actually spotted any.

It was only after going through snapshots from the family outing that the Herreras discovered that they might not have seen any Ewok's, but the Ewoks definitely saw them.


I wish I had the skill for this... my daughter would love it too.

(HT: KS.)

The city of San Juan Capistrano is requiring a home Bible study to get a permit to keep meeting, and fining them meanwhile for their lack thereof.

An Orange County couple has been ordered to stop holding a Bible study in their home on the grounds that the meeting violates a city ordinance as a "church" and not as a private gathering.

Homeowners Chuck and Stephanie Fromm, of San Juan Capistrano, were fined $300 earlier this month for holding what city officials called "a regular gathering of more than three people".

That type of meeting would require a conditional use permit as defined by the city, according to Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the couple's legal representation.

The Fromms also reportedly face subsequent fines of $500 per meeting for any further "religious gatherings" in their home, according to PJI.

Of course the city's permit requirement and fines are atrocious, unconstitutional, and immoral... but what's the proper Biblical response to such persecution?

1. Civil disobedience. Continue to meet, refuse to pay fines.

2. Legal challenge. Take the city to court and try to use the law against them.

3. Compliance. Get the permit, pay the fines, and keep quiet.

The Palestinians are trying to get nine Security Council members to vote in favor of creating a Palestinian state.

The Palestinians hope to enlist nine members behind them, even if "the U.S. is going to veto it and embarrass itself," he told Voice of Palestine Radio from New York.

For any decision to pass in the 15-member Council, nine affirmative votes are needed, as well as no veto by any of the permanent Security Council members. The United States holds a veto and has promised to use it, if necessary. ...

The Palestinians are trying to win over Gabon, Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The first, west-central African state seemed to have made up its mind to vote for the Palestinians, but the other two remained hesitant, Malki said.

Portugal, earlier still defined as undecided, by Tuesday seemed inclined to vote with the Palestinians, Israeli officials said.

Gabon, Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Portugal. These countries are all impotent in the Real World but thanks to the absurdity of the United Nations we're now forced to beg them hat-in-hand not to hand us a diplomatic defeat.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should have headed off this embarrassment months ago.

(HT: Hot Air.)

Remind me how many people died in Watergate?

The investigation into Gunwalker continues.

After reiterating that every law enforcement agent that has been asked about Operation Fast and Furious has said that there is no way that it could have been a viable law enforcement operation, I asked Chairman Issa if there was any evidence of another reason for the implementation of Operation Fast and Furious and the other alleged gun-walking operations.

"This was dumb, it was useless, and it was lethal," was the soundbite most of us will take away from the call in answer to that question, but his longer answer -- which I regret I do not have a transcript of -- is far more telling. ...

Issa put it rather bluntly: "The administration wanted to show that guns found in Mexico came from the United States."

He elaborated a bit when he noted that while he wouldn't presume to know the precise goals of Operation Fast and Furious, it certainly did seem to tie in with the narrative the Obama administration was trying to push -- that U.S. guns were turning up at Mexican crime scenes. That allowed, the suggestion hanging in the air was that a goal of the Administration was indeed a "Reichstag fire" designed to support a narrative that has been publicly woven by Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Napolitano, and President Obama himself on multiple occasions.

I hope that the truth comes out and that all wrongdoers are brought to justice.

Saudia Arabia apparently doesn't like Canada marketing its oil sands as "ethical oil".

Is Saudi Arabia losing its cool over Canada's growing oil sands? It certainly seems that way, based on the Middle East kingdom's bizarre over-reaction to television commercials that promote Canada's "ethical oil," in contrast to oil coming from Saudi Arabia, a regime that oppresses women.

The commercials are sponsored by a tiny grassroots organization based in Toronto,, that encourages consumers to favour "ethical" oil from Canada over "conflict" oil that comes from undemocratic regimes, where most of the world's oil reserves are located.

I think that "ethical oil" is a great term, and I'm glad it makes our good buddies in Saudia Arabia uncomfortable.

Ok, try to keep up here. James Carville urges President Obama to fire Attorney General Eric Holder if DOJ doesn't indict financial bosses who presided over the economic collapse of 2007.

There are certain people in American finance who haven't been held responsible for utterly ruining the economic fabric of our country. Demand from the attorney general a clear status of the state of investigation concerning these extraordinary injustices imposed upon the American people. I know Attorney General Eric Holder is a close friend of yours, but if his explanations aren't good, fire him too. Demand answers to why no one has been indicted.

Mr. President, people are livid. Tell people that you, too, are angry and sickened by the irresponsible actions on Wall Street that caused so much suffering. Do not accept excuses. Demand action now.

Then James Taranto complains that such indictments would politicize the justice system.

To politicize the criminal justice system in this way would be not just cynical but un-American. Carville ought to be ashamed of having written this.

However, there's another option! Maybe the current lack of indictments is the result of political calculations -- after all, President Obama and the Democrats get huge campaign donations from financial bosses.

More interesting than indicting financial bosses would be indicting the politicians who presided over the housing bubble.

What's up with the packs of motorcycles rampaging across St. Louis?

Drivers have reported huge packs of motorcycles swarming the highways around St. Louis, with the bikers pulling stunts, making hand gestures and forcing cars off the roadway.

There has been no official word yet from the state highway patrol or other public safety officials.

The reports started coming in around 2 p.m. from various spots on I-270 and I-70, most recently in the north St. Louis county area. Some claimed to see as many as 800 to 1,000 motorcycles in a pack.

Some sort of biker flash mob?

Obviously the President's extremely urgent new spending jobs bill -- that must be passed right now! -- won't even be considered in the Democrat-controlled Senate until sometime next month (maybe).

The president was in such a hurry to get this new spending going, everyone remembers, that during that address he said the phrase "right now" seven times. He didn't actually mean right now that night because the NFL season was opening a few minutes after his remarks.

But Obama did want to show how really urgent he said the situation was, even though it had taken him 961 days as president to say them. And even though from Day #1 of the brief Obama Era polls had shown jobs and the economy were the No. 1 priority among voters but he pursued healthcare and financial reforms first. And even though unemployment had been at or above 9% for 26 of the last 28 months.

So, given the president's professed urgency, the next day, Sept. 9, everyone asked where was his jobs legislation?

And, well, it seems the urgent jobs bill hadn't actually been written yet but should be ready in a week or two. When the laughter died, the White House said on second thought the legislation would be ready for a photo op the next Monday.

Well, here we are on the next Monday after that next Monday and we've just learned from the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, that actually it seems that body won't really be seriously getting into the legislation for a while yet. The Senate has some other more important business to handle. And then there's this month's congressional vacation, which in Washington is called "a recess," like elementary school.

Also obviously, the new "jobs bill" would simply be a money laundering scheme to pass taxpayer dollars to unions which then pass the money to the Democrat party. Also also obviously, the "jobs bill" has zero chance of ever passing, and everyone in DC knows this.

I hope everyone is enjoying the show that Obama is putting on, because it's costing your kids trillions of dollars.

Is the United States falling behind China and India in the creation of new engineers? That's conventional wisdom, but...

The logic behind this argument is flawed in many ways. First let's tackle the myth of the Rising East's mastermind engineers. China and India's engineering graduation numbers have been used for the past decade to justify arguments that the United States is in trouble. My research team at Duke University dispelled common myths about China's and India's engineering-education advantages in December 2005. The graduation statistics most commonly touted then were: China graduates 600,000 per year, India, 350,000, and the U.S., 70,000. We found that, in 2004, when comparing apples with apples, the U.S. had graduated more engineers (roughly 140,000) than India had (roughly 120,000).

What's more, China's tally of 350,000 was suspect because China's definition of "engineering" was not consistent with that of U.S. educators. Some "engineers" were auto mechanics or technicians, for example. We didn't dispute that China was and is dramatically increasing its output of what it calls engineers. This year, China will graduate more than 1 million (and India, close to 500,000). But the skills of these engineers are so poor that comparisons don't make sense. We predicted that Chinese engineers would face unemployment. Indeed, media reports have confirmed that the majority of Chinese engineers don't take engineering jobs but become bureaucrats or factory workers.

This situation reminds me of the common trope that US pre-university students trail their international peers. What usually isn't pointed out is that most countries don't have universal education systems that are required to admit (and test) every child. The result of this disparity is that America's student population includes a representative sample of all American youths, while tests results from other countries only include children who are smart/wealthy enough to attend school. It's no surprise that these top foreign youths outperform the median American student.

(HT: RD.)

I've driven my Barcelona Red RAV4 V6 4x4 more than 2000 miles since I received it, so it's time for a review! Here are RAV4 specs, but note that mine is the Base model and not the Limited, so it was a lot cheaper, has fewer gizmos, but has basically identical performance.

I'm not an experienced car reviewer -- these are just my impressions as a new RAV4 owner. My previous car was a 2000 Honda Civic EX, so keep that in mind.



The V6 is extremely fun to drive! Love it. When you hit the gas, the RAV4 leaps forward. There's plenty of power for passing even at high speeds, and you can get it over 90 MPH without even trying. Be careful!

The RAV4 handles well and corners tightly. Its turning radius isn't much worse than my Civic. The ride feels solid, and there are no vibrations or rattles of any kind. Even at high speed there is little road noise.


I like the interior, and it was very comfortable as both passenger and driver for a 1000-mile road trip. The controls are all intuitive. The front seats are comfortable and roomy. The back seat was huge for my two-year-old daughter in her car seat. I also had a chance to carry two adults in the back along with the car seat and they said that there was plenty of room.

The cargo area is gigantic. I recently had to buy a new dishwasher and it was easy to fit. If I had folded the back seats down I could have carried two dishwashers without any trouble. For the road trip, it was easy to carry suitcases for two adults and a child, along with a large stroller, a pack-and-play, and various other gear. It would be easy to fit luggage for five adults in the back without ever touching the roof rack.


Barcelona Red looks awesome, in my humble opinion. It wasn't my first color choice, but now I'm very glad I got it.

After the 1000-mile road trip there aren't any noticeable dings or dents in the hood or front area. There were a zillion bugs, but they cleaned off easily.

I have noticed that the rear end of the RAV4 gets much dirtier than the rest of the vehicle, probably because the flat surface creates some sort of dust vortex. When I got home from my trip, the front of the car was covered with bugs and the back of the car was covered with dirt.

Safety and Reliability

No problems at all, which shouldn't be a surprise for a new car.


I'm getting about 19.5 MPG during my daily commuting, which is a 50/50 mix of streets and highway. I could do better if I drove like a granny.

For the road trip, which was mostly highway driving, I got about 26 MPG and drove 80 MPH most of the time.

While experimenting, I was able to achieve a best of 33 MPG at 58 MPH, but who wants to drive that slow? You can also get similar mileage at around 40 MPH if you can keep the transmission in its top gear.

Note: The trip computer's reported mileage is consistently about 1.5 MPG higher than what I calculate with the odometer and gas station receipts.


I love my RAV4! When I drive it I feel like a superhero. I love the way it handles, I love the cargo space, and I love the comfort. I highly recommend the vehicle to anyone considering a small SUV.

Measles fights cancer.

A marker for tumor cells is also a receptor for the measles virus. This finding might mean measles could be deployed against different types of cancers. ...

This is not the first time the cancer-fighting prowess of measles has been shown--Mayo Clinic researchers had already reported it. However, it is the first time the virus has been shown to target a common receptor to many different types of cancers. Next will come experiments with mice to see how well it works.

So is it possible that while the measles vaccine has reduced the prevalence of the virus it has also increased the incidence of various forms of cancer?

I'm not trying to start a conspiracy here... I'm a firm believer in the efficacy and utility of vaccines.

(HT: Instapundit.)

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