A Kim du Toit Link

Sometimes, somewhere in the Blogoshpere, somebody says things that need to be passed along.  Your scribe, doing his duty, hereby shamelessly excerpts:

News Flashes

Kim du Toit
November 29, 2006
5:40 AM


No time to expand on these, so I’ll just give the headlines, with a brief suggestion.

1. Snoop Dogg arrested: No doubt for “crimes against music” (well, under the reign of King Kim, there’d be such a law).

2. Imams act suspiciously like terrorists on an airliner, then complain when they’re treated like terrorists: Deport them. If they’re citizens, revoke their citizenship and then deport them. If they wanna do loud Muslim prayers on an airliner, let ‘em fly Saudi Airways from now on.

3. President Spineless to push for loosening of visa requirements: Impeach him. We’re at war, and he wants to make it easier for furriners to come to our country?

4. Washington D.C. city council asks for pay raise to make them most highly-paid in the country:
Fire them all, and replace them with people chosen at random from the
D.C. phone book. The nation’s capital is also the perennial contender
for the nation’s Murder Capital, Uneducated Capital, and Corruption
Capital, and these clowns want more money?

5. Supreme Court to Take Up Global Warming Case: I bet SCOTUS finds carbon dioxide to be un-Constitutional, and makes it illegal for us to exhale. After Kelo, anything’s possible.

6. Federal judge orders Treasury to make paper currency different sizes, shapes:
Impeach him. He’s a Clinton appointee, which makes him automatically
suspect anyway. (For further proof of the latter statement, see here.)
Yes, I know that our currency may be confusing to the blind. It may
also be confusing to the illiterate and to people who are unfamiliar
with Western typefaces. I know: let’s make some notes round, some
pentagonal, and print the whole lot in Esperanto.

and lastly:

7. U.S. Bans Sale of IPods to North Korea: My question: why are we selling anything
to North Korea? Oh I know: now that the Democrats have won Congress,
President Spineless has decided to implement a Clintonian foreign

Wake me when it’s all over.

There is enough here for at least a day of cogitation, which may perhaps generate a post.

CWCID: Kim Du Toit

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A Consideration of Inconsiderateness

The picture tells a story…..a story told too many times every day in the book of Agricola’s life.  Inconsiderate behavior practiced by far too many people.


I guess his "off-road" vehicle is too delicate to endure the nicks and dents that we all endure when using public parking. To protect the value of his investment, he decides to impose his self-interest on the less fortunate….like the handicapped.  Your scribe has seen far worse, including, but not limited to, parallel parking and angled parking, whose sole purpose is to "protect" the lout’s car at the expense of other people’s access to parking.  The sad news is that all of us are guilty, in that we, sheep-like, allow these acts to occur without speaking up. There is no sense of shame; inconsiderate behavior goes unpunished, and we watch helplessly as our long established rules of behavior are torn apart by the children, posing as adults, who live among us.

Add this lout to the Inconsiderate Bastard Hall of Fame, along with those who park in directly in front of the grocery store instead of finding a parking place 15 steps away, smokers who dump their butts at intersections instead of using their ash trays, drivers who think the left lane of interstate highways is NOT for passing and get offended when someone tries to pass, and most importantly, those IDIOTS who think they are being considerate when they stop, in their lane of a four lane road, and motion the turning driver to proceed, AS IF THEY CONTROLLED BOTH LANES! God save us from that particular act of vehicular suicide kindness.

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The Nail – Reinvented

We started this blog because we have always been curious about things, and the Blogosphere seemed to offer untold opportunities to discover new ideas, places, people and things. It has seldom disappointed. Information and discovery come to us with increasing velocity, occasionally overwhelming our ability to process and retain those things that have value. Bloggers help us uncover those bits of data that can have relevance to us as individuals, and a provide a larger impact on our society. That’s the big idea of this post.

Here’s the small idea of this post. A better nail means better, stronger houses that can resist the destructive force of hurricanes and tornadoes. The story begins with Ed Sutt, a PhD graduate of Clemson University:

Hurricane Marilyn had just torn through St. Thomas, and Sutt was part
of a team examining how and why 80 percent of the island’s homes and
businesses had collapsed in the storm’s 95mph winds.

“The destruction was so complete in places that it was almost
surreal,” Sutt recalls. “There were troops in the streets and military
helicopters hovering overhead.” As Sutt moved through the wreckage of
roofless and toppled-over houses, he was struck by the sense that much
of the destruction could have been avoided. “In house after house,” he
says, “I noticed that it wasn’t the wood that had failed—it was the
nails that held the wood together.”

Sutt understood what Man has long known, that wood is a terrific material for a building. What apparently had been lost was the integrity of assembly. In the search for faster, less expensive means of connecting the raw material of the structure, we have unwittingly sacrificed structural integrity for speed and the bottom line. Post and beam construction had given way to pre-made trusses and nail guns. Municipal building codes have tried to force secure fastenings on the construction industry, but no one realized that what was needed was a better fastener.

For more than two centuries, nails have been the fastener of choice for
wood-frame structures. But for all that is riding on nails, they have
been the focus of precious little R&D. Nails have evolved into a
grab-whatever’s-cheapest commodity, taken for granted by contractors
and engineers….

When he integrated the results of the fieldwork with his laboratory
experiments, Sutt discovered that the most effective way to strengthen
a house was to improve its fasteners, especially the nails that hold
the roof and wall sheathing to the frame. “I began to see that the
engineers and building-code writers had been missing the point.
Everyone had always just accepted that a nail is a nail. No one was
focusing on what we could do to make the connection better.”

…Although there are no precise statistics, Sutt’s research indicated
that nail failure accounted for a substantial percentage of the
destruction in these catastrophes. And when nails fail, it’s for one of
three reasons. Either the nail rips its head through the sheathing, its
shank pulls out of the frame, or its midsection snaps under the lateral
loads that rock a house during high winds and earthquakes. Sutt’s job
was to design a nail that resisted all three.

And he has succeeded. A vastly improved nail is now available to builders, one that will dramatically reduce the destruction of wood houses in hurricanes and tornadoes.

Sutt’s bosses at Bostitch must be happy too. The company is selling
every HurriQuake nail it produces and has been doubling production
capacity every month. Although the nail is currently available only in
the Gulf region (it adds about $15 to the cost of an average
2,000-square-foot house), the company is adding new production lines to
meet nationwide demand. Meanwhile, the nail is getting rave reviews
from building-technology experts.

“This is a major innovation,” says Tim Reinhold, director of
engineering for the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an
insurance-industry research group. “And in places that are affected by
high winds and earthquakes, it looks like it’s going to make a big

Before I leave Clemson, I ask Schiff if he sees any downside
to his protege’s invention. “Homeowners and insurance companies are
going to love these nails,” he says. “But contractors are going to hate
them, because when they make mistakes, it’s not a trivial thing to
remove them. Once you nail something together, it’s going to stay

“To us, that’s a good thing.”

That’s a good thing for everybody. Now it is up to our local governments to codify the new nail, it’s up to our local builders to use the nail even without code requirements, and it’s up to individuals to insist that their builder use the nail now.

H/T The Cranky Professor


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Waterboarding is Mean

Satiated with Tryptophan, surrounded by the excesses of Black Friday, unable to call on enough motivation to mount the the Elliptical, the mind is forced to look outward, to the larger issues, to the scary, real world that has momentarily retreated behind our great national Holiday. Horrendous slaughter in Baghdad and in Northern Iraq, endless negotiations with the proto-nuclear empire of Iran, the perfidy of North Korea and its diminutive tyrant, news that brings a depressing familiarity to the pages of our local newspaper and our Google Reader. Numbed, almost de-sensitized by the reports of continuing horror and cruelty executed on such a broad scale by our enemies, we still retain the ability to be shocked by the recent news that nation-states are capable of directing their weapons of murder at individuals, that the eradication of principles, of states, and of peoples is not enough; lone human beings must be singled out for extermination. Pierre Gemayel shot dead in the streets of Beirut, Alexander Litvinenko  poisoned to death in London. Terrorism as practiced by our enemies is not content to simply spread fear amongst the free nations of the world, it must also demonstrate that individuals with the courage to speak against their enemies are legitimate targets  to be attacked at will and with impunity.

Against these dark forces are arrayed the voices of reason, speaking with the force of moral superiority and the logic of liberal thought. Against weapons like poison, car-bombs, the threat of nuclear destruction, homicide bombing grandmothers , and whatever other inventions of destruction can be devised by the evil minds of our enemy, some among us would chose to fight with our legal systems, pacifism, morality, and the deaf ear. Others, of a more forceful bent, would use our military forces…but impose such restrictive Rules of Engagement  as to render our incomparable soldiers powerless to defeat an inferior collection of thugs, militia-men, and foreigners.

It is as if we have lost the will to fight, let alone win. It is as if the evolution of our value system has created such respect for individual expression, such a demand for moral equivalence, such a deconstruction of our values, as to render impotent our most precious value, the right to exist. It seems that many of us would rather die than impose our national right to exist on another culture, or another religion, or another value system. See this post  by Jim Geraghty for details. What is most worrisome is that the subset of our populace that is willing to fight, and die, for our national self-interest  and honor, are fighting and dying for all of us.  What will we do when they are gone?  Who will defend us?  Who will care?  And what will it say about our moral superiority that we allowed others to die for the principles we were not willing to fight for ourselves?

UPDATE: Daniel Henninger says it better.

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Alcee Hastings

Does Nancy Pelosi intend to honor her pledge of a "corruption-free" Congress, or is she simply another politician willing to say anything to achieve advantage over her opponent? Are ear-marks and pork-filled Bills history, or the future? Are the interests of the nation more important than the interests of her party, her donors, and her friends and family? Was her support of Murtha, himself a veteran of ABSCAM and various pork-fests, an aberration or a trend?

The answers to these questions will be revealed when she names the new Chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives. Your scribe provides his earlier research here. Tigerhawk weighs in here. Byron York has more insight at the Corner.

If the new Speaker of the House cannot appreciate that the elevation of an impeached Federal Judge to a position of such sensitivity puts lie to her pre-election comments, then how can we believe another thing she says?

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A Soldier’s Wake

Our military is full of special people; volunteers, who willingly take the chance that their service to our country may cost them their most precious belonging….life. They accept the prospect, suffer the consequences, and leave behind grieving family and friends, if the last full measure is called to be paid. It is easy to mourn their passing, but sometimes, in their death, the hero is able to remind us that death holds no fear for them, that we lucky survivors should honor their life as much as their death.

Here’s the story sure to bring a smile…..

H/T: Dethroner

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Thank You, Senator Demint

Robert Novak, in his column Favor Factory Shutdown, reports that the tin-eared Congress apparently did not hear the voters on November 7 and tried, like a dying fish writhing on the hook, to pass several pork-filled spending bills. Thanks to some responsible legislators, including our own Jim Demint, the latest grab for our tax dollars was stymied……for the moment.

Reports Novak:

The bipartisan dismay the dissenters have caused cannot be exaggerated.
Hard-working staffers are beside themselves that their lame-duck feast
of pork is being thwarted. K-Street lobbyists are frustrated that they
are being deprived of a vehicle for their special interest amendments.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran
wanted President Bush, currently in Asia on a trade mission, to phone
DeMint and ask him to stop blocking the agriculture appropriations
bill. It did not happen, and the Republican leaders mournfully agreed
to the cost-cutting resolution. An irate House Appropriations Chairman
Jerry Lewis, who has taken pride in passing his committee’s bills on
schedule and filled with earmarks, called the outcome an "absolute
disaster and catastrophe."

Among senators wailing that their pet projects are
being derailed, none has been louder than Democrat Kent Conrad, who
will be Budget Committee chairman in the new Congress. A self-described
fiscal conservative (because he wants tax increases), Conrad in 2005
alone submitted 41 proposals busting the Bush budget. He was so
distraught last week that the ag money bill blocked by DeMint contained
$4.9 billion in additional emergency relief that he threatened to stop
any money bills from passing in the lame-duck session. He did not
follow through with this program of actually closing the government…..

the Senate’s archaic rules can frustrate the will of the majority in
passing legislation and confirming presidential nominations, they also
can enable a few strong-minded senators to fight excess spending. These
senators may well temporarily close what Tom Coburn calls the "favor
factory" maintained by Republicans. Will the Democrats try to reopen it
next year? 

Working behind the scenes, reading the fine print, holding true to the principles for which he was elected, our junior senator is demonstrating, again, that results matter, that promises are meant to be honored, that principle can be more important that compromise. Would that more of our representatives in Washington were cut from the same cloth.

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Ankle Deep in the Gene Pool

Depending on your perspective, gentle readers, this article in the New York Times could offer an explanation for the behavior exhibited by people you either detest, misunderstand, or love, for some strange reason.  It could also explain the words and ideas that spring from the mind of your favorite………..blogger (a mind only his mother could love).

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A New Congress – A Rememberance of Things Past?

The People have spoken, democracy has been re-affirmed, and a new Congress will convene in January to chart a "New Direction" for our nation. As good politicians do, the Democratic Party took a stand early in the  election campaign this year on an issue sure to resonate with the public…..corruption. Making clear that "Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely", the Republicans were tarred with the feathers of corruption, convicted on the notion that their control of both Houses of Congress removed any possibility of ethical oversight. That using the organs of power, unchecked by Democrats, gave unfair advantage to the ethically challenged. We were left with the impression that the Democratic Party, if restored to power, would clean The Augena Stables, aka the Halls of Congress. Forgetting, as we are wont to do, the importance of "Those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it", we silly voters accepted the Democrat’s offer of assistance by giving them control of BOTH Houses. We took unchecked power away from the Republicans and gave it to the Democrats. See Lord Acton’s quote above.

Your scribe is reminded of another homily, to wit, nothing is to be learned from the second kick of the mule. Proofs for that theorem follow:

Pelosi and land deals

Murtha-Scam – The Saga

Dear Reader, the issue is not that one party is more, or less, "dirty" than the other. The problem is that entrusting power to our politicians seems to encourage base behavior in most of them. Whether it’s seeking the spotlight, supplementing their retirement account, or simply doing favors for friends, family members, and supporters, the sad truth is that very few of our elected officials seem  to be able to resist the  temptation of the Apple. 

Hubris run amok seems an appropriate diagnosis of the current condition:

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance;
it is often associated with a lack of knowledge, interest in, and
exploration of history, combined with a lack of humility.
An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will
follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and Nemesis in the Greek world and the proverb "pride goes before a fall" is thought to sum up the modern definition of hubris.

Good, well intentioned people reduced by the accession to power, unable to resist the fruit. Sounds like it is time for the People to change the institution.


Continue reading “A New Congress – A Rememberance of Things Past?”