Monday, May 07, 2007

Someday We'll Look Back on This, and It Will All Seem Funny

But not now.

Canadian coin with a bright red flower was the culprit behind the U.S. Defence Department's false espionage warning earlier this year, the Associated Press has learned.

The odd-looking – but harmless – "poppy coin" was so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. Army contractors traveling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them. The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," according to once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails obtained by the AP.

The silver-coloured 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy – Canada's flower of remembrance – inlaid over a maple leaf. The unorthodox quarter is identical to the coins pictured and described as suspicious in the contractors' accounts.

The supposed nano-technology actually was a conventional protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red color from rubbing off. The mint produced nearly 30 million such quarters in 2004 commemorating Canada's 117,000 war dead.

"It did not appear to be electronic (analog) in nature or have a power source," wrote one U.S. contractor, who discovered the coin in the cup holder of a rental car. "Under high power microscope, it appeared to be complex consisting of several layers of clear, but different material, with a wire like mesh suspended on top."

The confidential accounts led to a sensational warning from the Defence Security Service, an agency of the Defence Department, that mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors traveled through Canada.

One contractor believed someone had placed two of the quarters in an outer coat pocket after the contractor had emptied the pocket hours earlier. "Coat pockets were empty that morning and I was keeping all of my coins in a plastic bag in my inner coat pocket," the contractor wrote.

But the Defence Department subsequently acknowledged that it could never substantiate the espionage alarm that it had put out and launched the internal review that turned up the true nature of the mysterious coin.

Meanwhile, in Canada, senior intelligence officials expressed annoyance with the American spy-coin warnings as they tried to learn more about the oddball claims.

"That story about Canadians planting coins in the pockets of defence contractors will not go away," Luc Portelance, now deputy director for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, wrote in a January e-mail to a subordinate. "Could someone tell me more? Where do we stand and what's the story on this?"


(Nod to RL, who isn't scared of Canadian money, and I can prove it. In fact, he actually wants MORE of the darned stuff)

Why Liberals are Losing the Court

Interesting. The left lost the Congress, but fortunately the Republicans managed to show themselves to be incompetent and corrupt. So the Democrats got it back.

But what about the Supreme Court? There just seems to be a disconnect, and I notice it myself all the time, when we talk about abortion or civil unions. (I am on the "left" side on both issues, by the way.)

You have to try to make arguments, and understand the other side. Instead, the left has gotten lazy, and just assumed that the Court will back up their secular state religion of group rights and female empowerment.

As John Yoo, law professor at UC Berkeley and former lawyer in the Bush
Justice Department, put it:

"Rather than develop reasoned responses to the Court or the arguments of
conservatives, liberal critics resort to the mystical for easy answers. They
suggest that irrational religious faith or pure Catholic doctrine handed
down from the Vatican drives the Justices. It is much easier to dismiss your
opponents as driven by mysterious forces than to do the hard work of
developing arguments built on human reason


John Edwards, and some of the other Dem candidates, are now trying to act like they have religion. And religion was apparently okay when it was Dr. MLK doing the preaching. (I'm not sure the Rev. Al and the Rev. Jesse believe in anything other than their own fundraising....)

But you aren't going to appeal to the religious unless you make real arguments. Dismissing them as primitives is going to result in a disaster for those of us who believe in individual human rights.

(nod to KL, who believes)

Friday, May 04, 2007


Not sure why this is so amusing. But it amused me.

If you move the mouse around quickly, there is excellent action.

(Props to BS, who is unique. Thanks be to God.)

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Wow. Some of you folks have too much time on your hands.

A YouTube video, on "Mrs. Munger's Class."

Sent to the End by....well, I'll just say it was a grad student who may be in grad school for quite a while.

Good gravy. Let's break for lunch.

UPDATE: Holy cow. There's a whole series. Appalling.

Clip 1
Clip 2
Clip 3
Clip 4

UPDATE II: All right, I take it back. This was a real find, after all. Apparently Disney chose especially funny looking people from yearbooks, and then FAILED TO GET THEIR PERMISSION TO USE THEIR IMAGES. Said funny lookers sued, and Disney bailed.

Surely, there were funny looking people who worked for Disney would have donated their images.

Anyway, the grad student who sent this gets a smiling puppy dog from me. Great stuff. I had never heard of it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I See Dumb People....

The mayor sent me this link.

He got it from my main guy, Russ Roberts. His post was here. The comments....well, some people just believe in magic, and that's all there is to it. Boogabooga. Abracadabra. Clutch hitting. All magic.

As fine a piece of baseball humor writing as I have ever seen.

And, of course, Fire Joe Morgan.

The Big Kite

Parachute "big kite".

Pretty impressive visuals. Looks perfectly real.

For some reason, people think it IS real, when it would be awfully dangerous.

But it can't be.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tag Clouds

Here is an obvious, but very concise, way of analyzing debates, or almost any political phenomenon: TAG CLOUDS!

What interested me was the focus of Clinton and Edwards. Both had just a few main concepts, and they were VERY different.

And you can really see the effects of either strategy or personality. Wonkiphonetics don't play very well. Candidates need to be Hemingway, not Faulkner. Look at the word totals for the debate:

1,872 - Senator Obama
1,766 - Senator Clinton
1,518 - Senator Edwards
1,281 - Governor Richardson
1,180 - Representative Kucinich
961 - Senator Biden
912 - Senator Dodd
753 - Senator Gravel

I actually Biden talked more than that, but maybe it's because he is like fingernails on a blackboard to me.

(Nod to TK-S, who knows stuff)