Elections, incumbents, and democracy

Looks like Congress is the opposite of “democratically elected” when you take this into account. How is 97 percent of Congress able to get re-elected each year even though only 17 percent of the American people believe our representatives are doing a good job? It’s called an incumbent protection system. Taxpayers have a right to know how it works. Recently, our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com mashed up the federal checkbook with the congressional campaign donor database (source: OpenSecrets.org). We found powerful members of Congress soliciting campaign donations from federal contractors based in their districts. We followed the money and found a culture of conflict-of-interest. The confluence

Continue reading

What’s really going on in Mexico – and threatening the US

Three articles have shed a great deal of light on what’s really happening in Mexico right now.  They’re essential reading, particularly because the mainstream media simply aren’t covering that country in anything like sufficient detail.  To call Mexico a “failed state” is being charitable, as this news report makes clear. The first article is from The Federalist, titled “A Drug Cartel Just Defeated The Mexican Military In Battle“. The battle of Culiacan marks a turning point in the collapse of the Mexican state. There is now no doubt about who is in control of Sinaloa, let alone the rest of

Continue reading

Doofus Of The Day #1,057

Here’s a graphic illustration of why you shouldn’t use gasoline in combination with matches to clear an ant or termite nest out of your back yard. Must have been fun explaining that to his wife! A common practice in many parts of Africa was to soak the offending nest with a couple of gallons of gasoline, but then leave it alone for the gas to penetrate fully and kill off the ants or termites by poisoning them.  We didn’t toss lighted matches at the gas-soaked ground, for obvious reasons, as illustrated above. I can still recall (with some glee) the

Continue reading

A blast from the (fashionable) past

Australian reader Snoggeramus, who’s contributed many candidates for our Doofus Of The Day award, drew my attention to this 1997 report. George Alexander of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory reports that attorneys for Oleg Cassini phoned, saying how dare JPL put the fashion designer’s name on its Saturn probe without permission. JPL’s lawyers replied that the Cassini spacecraft was named for Jean Dominique Cassini, an 18th century astronomer. “There was a long silence on the other end of the phone,” Alexander said, “followed by an ‘Oh.’ ” Talk about an argument lost in space. Yes, that would have left egg on the lawyers’ collective faces.  I wonder

Continue reading

Fake news – shooting sports edition

“Don’t believe everything on the Internet” is an overworked statement, but remains as true as ever.  It was proven again by a 2017 forum post, which is making the rounds in the shooting community at present (example). This guy and his co workers were discussing whether a steel toe boot would withstand a round from a .45, so what do do you think would be the best way to test this theory? YUP, you guessed it. Good thing he wasn’t testing his hard hat. There’s more at the link, including pictures of the perforated foot. The only thing is, it’s not

Continue reading

Sunday morning music

Alessandro Scarlatti was one of the major Italian baroque composers, with a prodigious output, particularly early operas.  However, his instrumental pieces are nothing to sneeze at.  I’ve picked two of his shorter works this morning;  you’ll find many more on YouTube if you like them. First, here’s his Sonata for Flute, Strings and B.C. No.22 and No.23. Next, here’s a live performance of his Concerto Grosso No. 3, played by the La Spagna baroque orchestra.  You’ll note how much smaller a baroque orchestra is compared to a modern one, and how many instruments didn’t exist in those musical times. I hope

Continue reading

An amazing find in naval and military history

I was amazed to read about a recent discovery in England. A sketch hand-drawn by Admiral Lord Nelson showing his plan for victory at Trafalgar has been discovered tucked inside the pages of a scrapbook after nearly 200 years. The map was found by Martyn Downer, a historian who is an expert on Nelson, in a book dating from the 1830s which was recently sold at auction. It shows his plan for splitting the Royal Navy fleet into three divisions to break and destroy the enemy French and Spanish lines coming out of Cadiz harbour. Lines representing wind direction also appear on

Continue reading

Saturday snippet: Sam the Sex God

Some years ago I published “Walls, Wire, Bars and Souls“, a memoir of my service as a prison chaplain. Many of the realities of prison life are grim and unappealing, but there are flashes of humor even inside the walls that can relieve the tension.  Here’s one incident, as narrated in that book. A large proportion of the hardened criminals in high-security institutions are mentally unstable, to say the least. Some are downright psychotic. We have psychologists who constantly monitor our inmate population, treat those who need it, and advise the rest of us on problem areas. Inmates whose condition

Continue reading

It’s time for the annual Broadway Bomb again

The Broadway Bomb is a skateboarding event held every year in New York City.  It’s been declared illegal since 2012, but that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from staging it.  (The Wikipedia page for the event appears to have been hacked by people with an axe to grind – at least at the time of writing.) Back in 2013, the police deployed in force to stop the riders.  Did it work?  Like hell it did!  Here’s a video clip that I posted that year, showing the results. I’m told that police haven’t bothered to intervene like that in subsequent years.  I can see why! Peter

Continue reading

An historic way of life to a different, slower drumbeat

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, I was interested to come across a novel, centuries-old method of shrimp fishing – on horseback. Intrigued, I looked for more information, and found this longer, more detailed view of the same “industry” in Belgium.  I found it equally interesting. It’s fascinating to think that such an ancient method of fishing has survived so long;  and it’s good to know that the number of mounted fishermen in training has actually increased in recent years.  I imagine the occupation is a lot less stressful than much of modern living, which is an attraction in itself. Peter

Continue reading