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Monday, December 31, 2007

Good News Everyone!

[PROF. FARNSWORTH] Good news everyone!

2008 will mark the opening of the Large Hadron Supercollider (LHC)!

With this supercollider now fully operational scientists have a 9 in 10 chance of finding the elusive Higgs boson (which Prof. Higgs swore he put back in the safe in 1939, but we think he accidentally left in the cab.)

Scientists also have a 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
chance of destroying the known universe by degrading the universe's vacuum state.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Exit The Dragon

Remember how in the 80's we were all shit scared of Japan? Nowadays it's the Chinese. However, Kid Various has long maintained that China is never going come close to displacing the United States as the world's pre-eminent economic power and, in fact, will be lucky to make it out of the 21st century in one piece.

Now, according to the L.A. Times, the World Bank is releasing new figures to back that claim up.

Kid Various doesn't allow anyone to talk him into buying funds with heavy investment in the Pacific Rim. China is one house of cards that can collapse at any time. And it's going to be bad when it does.

Leaving The World No Poorer...

20,010 less Enemy in Iraq wasting Kid Various' oxygen according to Terrorist Death Watch.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

September 10th

James Lileks nailed it with a perceptive wisecrack in an interview with Hugh Hewitt the other day. To paraphrase:

The current obsession with a minute rise in sea level will be remembered as the Chandra Levy of 2011.

Great Site

Kid Various was directed to a great website via the Aces of Spades today.

Terrorist Death Watch

Apparently, we have recently reached another grim milestone in Iraq. The 20,000th enemy was killed several days ago by Coalition forces.

20,000 less thugs wasting The Kid's oxygen.

Four Bucks For A Cup Of Joe?

Interesting article in Slate about how, far from steamrolling mom and pop coffee houses and putting them out of business, Starbucks has brought so many people into the $4 coffee market that business is expanding for the independents!

That's why the Kid loves capitalism. If you told him in the 70's that he'd be paying $4 for coffee (or $2 for bottled water, or $80 a month for TV) he'd be astounded.

Soon after declining Starbucks's buyout offer, Hyman received the expected news that the company was opening up next to one of his stores. But instead of panicking, he decided to call his friend Jim Stewart, founder of the Seattle's Best Coffee chain, to find out what really happens when a Starbucks opens nearby. "You're going to love it," Stewart reported. "They'll do all of your marketing for you, and your sales will soar." The prediction came true: Each new Starbucks store created a local buzz, drawing new converts to the latte-drinking fold.

Important to Remember

Blackfive has a tribute to Capt. Travis Patriquin. Somebody you probably never heard of, but is someone who was important in "winning the war in Anbar" by circulating a very simple, animated power point presentation detailing the strategy of "tribal engagement."

Capt. Patriquin did not live to see his ideas bear fruit. He was killed in an IED blast December 6, 2006.

Kid Various fully supports the strategy of tribal engagement. It's necessary. But he wants to emphasize that it is a necessary evil. The tribal engagement strategy solidifies long-standing dysfunctional elements in Arab/Iraqi culture. The pre-Enlightenment tribal culture is the (long term) problem, not the solution.

Therefore, even though it is necessary to pursue this strategy because we must bring Iraq back from chaos, we should keep in mind - his is not a win. It is a loss.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Nice Shot

Add this to the list of thugs nor longer wasting Kid Various' oxygen:

A series of attacks launched by the IDF in Gaza Thursday has claimed the lives of at least eight militants, including Mohammad Abu Murshud, head of Islamic Jihad's armed wing in the central Gaza Strip.

Sadly Inevitable

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a blow to the prospect of democratic change in Pakistan - but sadly, it was wholly predictable and perhaps, inevitable. As Mark Steyn notes, she was a walking neon sign that screamed "apostasy."

Since her last spell in power, Pakistan has changed, profoundly. Its sovereignty is meaningless in increasingly significant chunks of its territory, and, within the portions Musharraf is just about holding together, to an ever more radicalized generation of young Muslim men Miss Bhutto was entirely unacceptable as the leader of their nation.

It is a loss, because Bhutto was the only potential leader of Pakistan who had enough of a mass following that she could actively compete with jihadists. Of course, as Hitch notes, we should not make the fact that she was more amenable to the West impose in our minds that she was some sort of martyr for liberalism.

Daughter of Destiny is the title she gave to her autobiography. She always displayed the same unironic lack of embarrassment. How prettily she lied to me, I remember, and with such a level gaze from those topaz eyes, about how exclusively peaceful and civilian Pakistan's nuclear program was.

But most of all, what the Bhutto assassination should illustrate for most Americans is that we are not yet, as the presidential candidates seem to have thought, in a position to take a vacation from history. We are in an extremely dangerous position now. We have allowed hope and wishful thinking to be the main butresses in our South Asia plan of engagement.

We are one bullet away from a Taliban bomb, and have been so for several years. The next President is going to have to get this right. It's time to get serious about this instead of punting the ball farther down field and blaming the Bush Administration.

For those of you who were wondering how long it would take ranking Democrats to blame the Bhutto assassination on the Bush administration and the Iraq war, wonder no more. Russ Feingold has done the honors:

The focus on Iraq has been a real disservice to focusing on this part of the world where a great, frankly somebody who had great leadership and following, has been killed.

Talk about being un-serious.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thank You For Playing...

Well, Bill Richardson was never high on Kid Various' list of acceptable choices for President, but after reading this, he is SO never going to get The Kid's vote.
Responding to a question Saturday at a living-room gathering in snowy Des Moines, the first-tier-wannabe candidate touted his state’s expertise with nontraditional methods of healing.

"In my state, New Mexico, we’ve got more holistic healing than you do. I appreciate that kind of medical care. I appreciate dietary supplements. I appreciate oriental medicine. I think we have to open up health care delivery and access. You know how the doctors are. They want to keep it to themselves," he said. Under a Richardson administration, government health programs would pay for alternative therapies, he said.
Oooh. Wrong answer Bill! Thank you for playing "Truth or Quackery!"

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Festivus!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Every Culture Is Equally Valid...

A charming wedding photo...

The girl in this picture is 11 years old.

A dowry was paid for the girl. The dowry is part of the cultural fabric of the clan-based society. As producers of newborns, women are valuable possessions. A woman can bear sons and fighters, who will defend the family and its honor. Men are only charged with protecting them against kidnappers and thieves, and women need only accept the power of the male members of the family -- "for their own benefit."

...Our eyes behold an abomination. Our eyes have learned to see the world from the perspective of a slowly acquired sense for humanity. And although more and more voices tell us that we -- the former colonialists and imperialists -- have lost the right to judge other cultures, we know just as well as this girl that this marriage is wrong.

Don't ever, ever let anyone insult your intelligence, or this child, by telling you that all cultures are equally valid or equally deserving of respect and admiration. That is a lie. Told by people who live in a society so removed from the horrors of the human condition that they can actually talk themselves into believing that what they claim.

This is why we fight.

You're Welcome

Yet another achievement of the Bush Administration: stopping global warming.

With only few days remaining in 2007, the indications are the global temperature for this year is the same as that for 2006 – there has been no warming over the 12 months.

But is this just a blip in the ever upward trend you may ask? No.

The fact is that the global temperature of 2007 is statistically the same as 2006 as well as every year since 2001. Global warming has, temporarily or permanently, ceased. Temperatures across the world are not increasing as they should according to the fundamental theory behind global warming – the greenhouse effect. Something else is happening and it is vital that we find out what or else we may spend hundreds of billions of pounds needlessly.

That is, since George W. Bush took office, mean global temperatures have remained stable. You're welcome and vote Republican.

A Time For Choosing

40 years on and we're still facing the same issues. The advice still stands. via The Weekly Standard blog

Jesus, he was the freaking MAN!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Te Vad(y) Blade Runner

Stephen Metcalf commits heresy in the pages of Slate, denigrating one of the great films of all time, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. The article is occasioned by the release of the new Blade Runner boxed set containing five (yes five) separate versions of the film. According to Metcalf, now that fans can no longer fall back on the mythical concept of a "pure" version, the sci-fi noir masterpiece will be impossible to defend.

Kid Various has been looking forward to this release for some time. Why? Because finally, now on DVD, you can get the theatrical release with the voice over narration:

Blade Runner's rehabilitation has been helped along by a second unusual twist. A folklore quickly grew up around the various versions of the film, few or none of which was said to be true to Ridley Scott's original vision. The single worst offender was the original U.S. theatrical release, with a tacked-on happy ending and an infamously hammy voice-over, added at the 11th hour after audiences exited the previews totally bewildered. Its intention was clear enough—to deepen our connection to Deckard, and to handhold us through an intentionally disorienting narrative—but the execution was disastrous.

Kid Various is out - loud and proud - swimming against the grain, because he maintains that the theatrical cut is the best one.

You heard him, the theatrical cut is the best version of Blade Runner - so big whoop, you wanna fight about it?

Kid Various has had this argument over and over for 20 years. Yes, the narration is ham handed and somewhat hokey - but the whole point of this film is that it is retro-future. It's a film noir set in 2019. And that narration acts as a touchstone to all of the great Noirs from the 40's and 50's - which had similar voice overs that weren't great works of prose either. And is the text any hokier than the actual dialogue from the film:

[BRYANT] This is Zhora. She's trained for an Off-world kick-murder squad. Talk about beauty and the beast... she's both.

Of course it sounds hokey - because people don't talk like that anymore. But if you're goal is to put together a Sam Spade tale set in 2019, using archaic language like that brings the point home. And the voice over also makes explicit things that are subtext in the film. Like this narration from Deckard:

[DECKARD V.O.] The report would be routine retirement of a replicant which didn't make me feel any better about shooting a woman in the back. There it was again. Feeling, in myself. For her, for Rachael.

Now of course, Scott, who has disavowed the narration is of the feeling that you "show" in film, you don't "tell." But again, that's what the classic noirs did! They gave you an explicit insight into the mind of the protagonist (usually a conflicted anti-hero.) Here Deckard makes it explicit why he left the force. He felt that his own humanity was being destroyed by his job. And indeed, that's the point of the film. The replicants end up being more human than their inventors/pursuers. But without the narration, you're simply left to infer this. There is nothing wrong with making it explicit in the context of the neo-noir framework.

This is one of those very rare examples in film where the suits knew better than the director in terms of artistic merit.

Another advantage of the theatrical cut is that it does not have the fucking unicorn dream in it!

For over 20 years, people have been arguing that the unicorn dream sequence implies (there it is again - implication) that Deckard is in fact a replicant. Because at the end of the movie Gaff leaves an origami unicorn for Deckard - possibly signaling to him that he knows Deckard's dreams. He knows his thoughts. Just as Deckard knows Rachel's memories because they are not her own, Gaff is signaling that Deckard's thoughts are not his own either.

Repeat after Kid Various: Deckard is not a replicant!!!

Because if Deckard is a replicant, the whole movie doesn't make any sense! How would Deckard be a replicant? How could he have survived on the force all this time as a hunter of replicants? What motivation could there possibly be for Deckard being a replicant?

And if Deckard is a replicant, Roy's final act (saving Deckard) completely loses is dramatic impact. The whole point is in that moment Roy becomes fully human. He performs a human act of charity as his final, dying move. If Deckard is a replicant - this totally undermines the power of this moment.

Granted the upbeat ending is bullshit. In the Kid's "pure" version of Blade Runner, that would be dropped. But if he can get the voice over narration back and excise that stupid unicorn dream - then Kid Various will take it.

And he will... for $54.99.

Remember when we so freaking afraid of the Japanese?
What were we thinking???

More Ways For Us All To Die

It appears that the Tunguska meteor impact in 1908 was caused by an asteroid much smaller than previously believed (and much smaller than we're keeping an eye out for...)

Because smaller asteroids approach Earth statistically more frequently than larger ones, he says, “We should be making more efforts at detecting the smaller ones than we have till now.”

The new simulation — which more closely matches the widely known facts of destruction than earlier models — shows that the center of mass of an asteroid exploding above the ground is transported downward at speeds faster than sound. It takes the form of a high-temperature jet of expanding gas called a fireball.

Whoa a "fireball?" Hey, let's lay off the complicated scientific jargon...

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Excellent must read/must understand piece from VDH. This country desperately needs to gain some perspective. We're in danger of losing the Long War because we simply have no concept that war is not an error free endeavor. It's not FedEx where you can precisely track your progress until victory. What we need to do is to keep our heads, and most important, simply not accept anything less than victory. If we had the same mindset in previous wars that we have today, there wouldn't even be a United States - we'd still be part of the British Empire.

Victory does not require achieving all of your objectives, but achieving more of yours than your enemy does of his. Patient Northerners realized almost too late that victory required not merely warding off or defeating Confederate armies, but also invading and occupying an area as large as Western Europe in order to render an entire people incapable of waging war. Blunders were seen as inevitable once an unarmed U.S. decided to fight Germany, Italy, and Japan all at once in a war to be conducted far away across wide oceans, against enemies that had a long head start in rearmament. We had disastrous intelligence failures in World War II, but we also broke most of the German and Japanese codes in a fashion our enemies could neither fathom nor emulate. Somehow we forget that going into the heart of the ancient caliphate, taking out a dictator in three weeks, and then staying on to foster a constitutional republic amid a sea of enemies like Iran and Syria and duplicitous friends like Jordan and Saudi Arabia—and losing less than 4,000 Americans in the five-year enterprise—was beyond the ability of any of our friends or enemies, and perhaps past generations of Americans as well.

But more likely the American public, not the timeless nature of war, has changed. We no longer easily accept human imperfections. We care less about correcting problems than assessing blame—in postmodern America it is defeat that has a thousand fathers, while the notion of victory is an orphan. We fail to assume that the enemy makes as many mistakes but addresses them less skillfully. We do not acknowledge the role of fate and chance in war, which sometimes upsets our best endeavors. Most importantly we are not fixed on victory as the only acceptable outcome.


First They Came For The Smokers

You all laughed when Kid Various said, after the successful "Big Tobacco" lawsuits, that eventually they'd work their way down to "Big Cholesterol."

Well who's laughing now???

Hang on to your hamburgers. The LA City Council is moving ahead with a plan to ban fast-food restaurants: but only in the low-income parts of the city. Bridget Johnson doubts that residents will appreciate the nanny state’s attempt to hold the fries.

As for The Kid, they can have his BK Quad Stacker when they pry it from his cold, dead fingers!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We're Living In The Future!

Was fantasy. Now edging toward reality. How supercool is this? Invisibility!

Harry Potter may not have talked much about plasmonics in J. K. Rowling's fantasy series, but University of Maryland researchers are using this emerging technology to develop an invisibility cloak that exists beyond the world of bespectacled teenage wizards.

A research team at Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering comprised of Professor Christopher Davis, Research Scientist Igor Smolyaninov, and graduate student Yu-Ju Hung, has used plasmon technology to create the world's first invisibility cloak for visible light. The engineers have applied the same technology to build a revolutionary superlens microscope that allows scientists to see details of previously undetectable nanoscale objects.

The only thing that Kid Various wants to know is, when did Harry Potter's cloak become the de facto standard pop culture reference to invisibility rather than the far superior Romulan cloaking device????

Filthy Rom bastard de-cloaks off the port bow!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Timmendequas to Live Long... Maybe Not Prosper

Well, they've done it. NJ is the first state in the union to ban the death penalty since the Supreme Court allowed the States to resume executions in 1976.

So therefore, child rapist/killers like Jesse Timmendquas get to live long, and who knows, maybe prosper. If the NJ Legislature decides to allow them conjugal visits. Which, given the make up of the Legislature, may not be far off.

In actuality, Kid Various is extremely agnostic about the death penalty. It certainly doesn't do anything to deter crime and is extremely involved and expensive to the state. And in NJ, this kind of makes de jure the de facto ban. No one was going to face the needle anytime in the future anyway.

What fascinates Kid Various is that the Dems sense that they are so powerful they can pull something like this off. The death penalty is a hot button issue that stirs passion in its proponents, Republican and Dem alike.

The Dems must have come to the conclusion that they have so many safe seats in the Legislature that they could not be effectively punished for this move. And so, NJ careens further into the off the road, through the guard rail and, Thelma and Lousise-like, into the abyss.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Big Wheel Keeps On Turnin'

Holy Crap! Ike Turner died!

But the 76-year-old's prodigious musical legacy was forever tarnished by his image as the drug-addicted, brutally abusive former husband of Tina Turner.

Turner, known with his ex-wife for such songs as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Proud Mary," died Wednesday at his suburban home. No cause of death was immediately given.

Must've worn out his pimp hand...

1931 - 2007

Not To be Outdone

Not to be outdone by mere Koreans, the Japanese have upped the ante in the bizarre cat/mouse war by genetically engineering fearless mice.

Using genetic engineering, scientists at Tokyo University say they have successfully switched off the rodents' instinct to cower at the smell or presence of cats — showing that fear is genetically hardwired and not learned through experience, as commonly believed.

Now we have to revamp the phrase "as timid as a mouse" to "as balls out as a mouse."

Finally, Science Has Given Us Something Useful

Glow in the dark cats.

South Korean scientists have cloned cats by manipulating a fluorescent protein gene, a procedure which could help develop treatments for human genetic diseases, officials said Wednesday.

In a side-effect, the cloned cats glow in the dark when exposed to ultraviolet beams.
Because Kid Various didn't know what we were going to do about that creepy cat shortage.

PS This is not a catblog.

Nazis... pshaw!

Wait a minute... Did Al Gore just compare global warming to the Axis threat in World War II?

We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency — a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst — though not all — of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.

However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world's leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler's threat: "They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.

This is totally out of control!

Climate change is a serious issue with effects that will have to be dealt with, but let's get a sense of proportion shall we?

The irony being that we are involved in a struggle that threatens to quell the upward trend of human progress worldwide and drag us down into a new dark age. And guess what? The adversary is not global warming!

Our ability to totally distract ourselves from real, painful problems with trivialities knows no bounds.