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Archive for December, 2012

The Latest Chapter in the Saga of “Segway Boy”

What is most amazing about this one, has to be a pretty simple fact:


A well-known Capitol protester was charged Wednesday with receiving stolen property for allegedly keeping a State Capitol police officer’s jacket, which he said he wore for friends as a joke.

The mother of Jeremy J. “Segway” Ryan, 24, of Madison, found the jacket in October while she was cleaning out Ryan’s apartment at 515 State St., according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

The jacket belonged to Officer Tammy Torstenson, who said she had taken off her jacket during protests at the Capitol and put it behind her work station but later found that it was missing, according to the complaint.

The complaint does not state how the jacket came to be in Ryan’s possession.

As the story clearly states, Ryan’s mother was the one who found the jacket, so it leads one to believe that she’s the one who called the cops to inform them about it.  Since clearly, young Jeremy was more than happy to keep it as a “prize” and use it as a conversation piece.

Boy…one wonders the type of interview you’d get from “Segway Mom” about the type of child she’s unleashed upon the world. What does she think about his complete lack of respect for those in authority, total disregard for personal responsibility, and what she thinks of her son’s actions and career choices in general.

Sadly, something tells me you’d get an all-too common, rather ordinary and often repeated “Only in Madison” story.

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Cartoon of the Season

Stay safe and drive smart.


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Russia Bans Americans from Adopting Russian Orphans

Saw this story today on “CBS This Morning” when it was spoken of in terms of being in the “realm of possibility” stage of Russian politics.  It’s a real travesty because the only ones really suffering here are the American families who want to adopt these children and the children themselves. 

Defying a storm of domestic and international criticism, Russia moved toward finalizing a ban on Americans adopting Russian children, as Parliament’s upper house voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of a measure that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will sign into law.

The bill is widely seen as the Kremlin’s retaliation against an American law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators. It comes as Putin takes an increasingly confrontational attitude toward the West, brushing aside concerns about a crackdown on dissent and democratic freedoms.

Dozens of Russian children close to being adopted by American families now will almost certainly be blocked from leaving the country. The law also cuts off the main international adoption route for Russian children stuck in often dismal orphanages: Tens of thousands of Russian youngsters have been adopted in the U.S. in the past 20 years. There are about 740,000 children without parental care in Russia, according to UNICEF.

All 143 members of the Federation Council present voted to support the bill, which has sparked criticism from both the U.S. and Russian officials, activists and artists, who say it victimizes children by depriving them of the chance to escape the squalor of orphanage life. The vote comes days after Parliament’s lower house overwhelmingly approved the ban.

One of the things I learned from my Heritage days was that the Cold War never truly ended; only the means of which it was being fought changes as well as the names of Russian leaders were calling themselves.

Who the hell do the Russians think they are trying to impress with a policy like this?

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Quick Hits and Random Thoughts

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David-Gregory-QuickmemeCall me not as convinced as some others are that “Meet the Press” anchor David Gregory is going to jail over having an illegal (at least in the District of Columbia) 30-round magazine while trying to rile up NRA CEO and Vice President Wayne LaPierre last Sunday.

My guess is when it is all said and done, NBC or Gregory will only pay a hefty fine.  They’re clearly trying to go that route through their media strategy, the only question is does the legal strategy allow them to follow suit.

Did Charles Woodson’s Collarbone Heal Properly?

I’ve been wondering that now for the past few weeks.

On average, it takes the typical human being about 6 weeks to heal a broken bone from a simple fracture.  With the future hall of famer once again sidelined for this Sunday’s regular season finale against the Vikings, it will be ten weeks since Charles Woodson has played a down of football.

While coach Mike McCarthy was explaining at his news conference that team physician Dr. Pat McKenzie still hasn’t cleared Woodson to return, Woodson insisted during a short interview in the locker room that scans on his broken collarbone look good, and he hasn’t experienced a setback.

“There’s nothing going on, just holding out,” Woodson said. “Everything’s looking good but I just think the longer you can hold it off, then I guess the better it is. So we’re just waiting.”

Woodson, who appeared to do only scout-team work in practice today, said last week that he hoped to play in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Vikings in order to get some work in before the postseason.

When asked today whether he’s going to be able to perform up to his standards in the playoffs without any regular-season work since his injury, Woodson said: “I’m not going to have a choice. There’s no time to come back and play around, you know what I’m saying.”

One good thing about a collarbone injury is that it allows Woodson to stay active on his feet, so if he is back in there for the playoffs, he shouldn’t have to deal with conditioning issues.  The real question is arm strength.

The collarbone allows for arm wingspan, so unless he’s found a way to keep that up with minimal pain, it could be a factor in his effectiveness in covering that ball.

Quote of the Day

Jonathan Swift probably said it best in Gulliver’s Travels and the “Laputans” but Thomas Sowell said it much more pithy in his “random thoughts” column today.

The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit — replacing what works with what sounds good.

Having knowledge is great.  Having a practical use for that knowledge is even better.

The Great Father-Caper Continues

So glad to see the liberal policy of “A Father is the same as a Welfare Check” from the 1960s is working according to plan.  Of course, you’d only celebrate that if the plan was more poverty, increased childhood illiteracy, declining respect for people in places of authority, and entire generations dependent on government.

In every state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or 1 in 3, live without a father, and nearly 5 million live without a mother. In 1960, just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers.

America is awash in poverty, crime, drugs and other problems, but more than perhaps anything else, it all comes down to this, said Vincent DiCaro, vice president of the National Fatherhood Initiative: Deal with absent fathers, and the rest follows.

People “look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, ‘What can we do to help?’ But what we do is ask, ‘Why does that child need help in the first place?’ And the answer is often it’s because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father,” he said.

Wisconsin saw a 6% increase in the number of fatherless homes from 2000 to 2010.  (Can’t wait to see how the statewide left projects Jim Doyle’s failure onto Scott Walker…)

One of the great failures of the Obama Administration is that many people — not just conservatives — hoped Obama would use his status as a loving father of two young children as an example for young people and young black men especially to follow his lead.  To be a provider, to be a family man, to be there for his kids.

How the hell we’ve let our society reach this level is incredibly sad.

Peter Parker is Dead, Spider-Man Lives!

Now on comic book shelves, Amazing Spider-Man #700, the last ever issue of ASM and the last with Peter Parker (at least so far) in the webs in the standard Marvel Universe.

Call him Peter Octavius or Otto Parker, as a hybrid of sorts will make it out of Amazing Spider-Man #700 to become the new Superior Spider-Man [preview pages seen in this article] in the Marvel NOW! relaunch of the title in January, 2013.

The final battle between these age-old enemies is fought rather non-traditionally. After a vast mind-swapping scheme by Otto, better known as Doctor Octopus or simply Doc Ock, the big fight sees Peter Parker in Otto’s body and vice-versa. However, both minds have left a lasting impression, and that’s where the last punch is truly thrown by Peter as he lies dying in Otto’s frail body.

Peter Parker’s life flashes not just before his own eyes, but as Otto has full access to Peter’s memories and is mind-linked once again, Pete forces him to see all his major, life-changing and philosophy-forming moments. In a crash course on Spider-Man history, Octavius doesn’t just see moments like Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy’s deaths, he experiences and feels them. He sees exactly what it was like to overcome adversity repeatedly and finally learns: “With great power must also come great responsibility.”

Thus, Otto promises to not only live as Peter lived, but actually become a better, and yes, “Superior” Spider-Man.

“This is Moriarty in the head of Sherlock. This is Prince John inside of Robin Hood. This is the greatest villain inside the body of the greatest hero and trying to do good,” writer Dan Slott told USA Today of the new status quo. He promises you won’t simply see a Peter Parker that has Otto overtones though – this is Otto Octavius in Peter’s body trying to figure out how to be a better hero than he ever was, and it won’t be easy. “That road of salvation and stepping up and doing the right thing, it’s more interesting to see it from a character who has to fight his basic nature to do that.”

Mind swap, not the first time tried in comics and sci-fi, probably not the last either.

The obvious “out” of this story is that while Peter died with his consciousness in Octavius’ frail and battered body [there was a body, it was indeed buried], he was obviously able to get a piece of himself back in his body.  This will then lead to battle of wills for control over Peter’s body and who will be Spider-Man for the rest of time.

Bet on Peter, even with the Parker luck.

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Cartoon of the Day


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Merry Christmas

I’ll be offline mostly until Wednesday to spend Christmas by my folks.  Have a Merry Christmas everyone.


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We Needed a Survey to Prove This?

Guess what folks?  Married men will spend more than their wives on Christmas gifts this year.  (No really!)

The Clarus Research Group poll found the average married man will spend $493 on gifts for his wife this year, while wives will spend less than half of that on their husbands. The average married woman said she would spend $210.

Nationwide, the average gift for a spouse this year will be $345, the survey found.

Gifts vary among income level, the poll showed.

Those with income above $100,000 said on average they would spend $461 on gifts for their spouse. Those earning less than $50,000 will spend about $198.

One thing I’d like to know is did they just go with what people spent or by how much an average gift costs?  Let’s face it, based on traditional gifts a gold and diamond necklace costs much more than a new power tool or new piece of electronics.  There seems to be very little in this story which seems to give you any idea what people are buying each other.

That being said, do men go over-board at Christmas time?  Yes, I’ve seen my own father do it with my mother multiple times.  How the heck women don’t know this given the easy access for couples to view credit card statements and bank accounts (shared or otherwise) probably tells you how much people are paying attention to their holiday spending in the first place.

And is it any wonder why we’re $16 Trillion in the red as a nation?

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Scientists: We Evolved Thumbs Not for Tools, But to Make a Fist

We are a violent, violent species folks.

Don’t ever let civilization fool you otherwise.  Only thing we’ve done is find more effective ways to kill each other.

But a study just published in the Journal of Experimental Biology by Michael Morgan and David Carrier of the University of Utah has shown that the exact geometry of the hand is probably the result of its destructive rather than its constructive power.

Most natural weapons are obvious: teeth, claws, antlers, horns. But the hand becomes a weapon only when it turns into a fist. Dr Morgan and Dr Carrier therefore studied its anatomy to try to find out what makes the fist such an effective weapon—one which, like the precision and power grips, the hand of even a chimpanzee is incapable of forming properly.

Part of the reason is obvious. A fist presents the knuckles first. That means the force of a blow is transmitted through a much smaller area than would be the case for its alternative, an open-handed slap. But the two researchers suspected that there might be more to it than that, so they dug a little deeper.

First, they gathered some basic measurements. They asked ten athletes—a mixture of boxers and martial artists—to strike a punch bag as hard as they could using either a normal fist or an open palm. The athletes did so in many ways, including forward strikes, side strikes and overhead attacks, and Dr Morgan and Dr Carrier monitored how much force was delivered in each case using an accelerometer attached to the bag.

They also used a series of pistons to measure the stiffness of different hand shapes. These included a fully clenched fist, a semi-fist with the fingers curled up but the thumb pointed outwards, and a poorly formed fist in which the fingers were folded over the palm (but not fully curled) and the thumb pointed outwards. (This latter is reminiscent of the closest that a chimpanzee can come to making a fist.) As the athletes formed these various fists and fist-like shapes, the pistons measured the rigidity of their hands along the knuckle bones.

Though the accelerometer in the punch bag suggested that a sideswipe made with a closed fist delivers 15% more force than an open-handed strike, a frontal attack with either produces about the same force. The fist’s advantage thus seems to be mainly in its geometry rather than it mode of delivery. Part of that advantage does, indeed, come from the small surface area of the knuckles (which is about a quarter that of an open-handed strike). But the killer app, almost literally, is the stiffness imparted by the way the bones are arranged in a properly formed fist. This allows the force of a punch to be delivered with an effect that can, for the receiver, be bone breaking.

Two things are crucial. One is the way the fingers curl back on themselves, which leaves no empty space inside the fist. That is a product of the precise lengths of the component bones of each finger, which is one reason a chimpanzee cannot form a proper fist. The other is the buttressing role of the thumb, which adds yet further stiffness. Again, this requires the thumb to be of precisely the right length, and to originate in precisely the right place at the side of the palm. In combination, Dr Morgan and Dr Carrier’s machine indicted, these features make a properly formed fist almost four times as rigid as a chimpanzee-style fist—for when a chimp curls its fingers up it leaves a gap through the middle of the fist, fatally weakening the structure; and the thumb plays no buttressing role.

All this suggests that fists are indeed proper evolutionary adaptations, with their own history of natural selection, rather than being just the coincidental by-products of humanity’s handiness with a tool. In fact, it is probably easier for the gripping role of the hand to adjust to the geometrical requirements of the punching role of the fist than the other way round. Which makes perfect sense, for it has long been the case that the species is divided between those who prosper by making things with their hands, and those who rely on their fists, or the threat of them, to take what the makers have made.

Emphasis added.

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Image of the Day

Via Mashable.

The last cover, ever of Newsweek just became available online.

184431_10151504565339705_991870469_nWelcome to the digital age.

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Cartoon of the Day


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