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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just sitting down to watch a movie called Big Ass Spider. Here's the trailer

"Every generation has its defining moment, but none have experienced a Big Ass Spider!"

How many Brussels sprouts does it take to fill a Mini?

Favorite WTF quote: "if laid out end to end, (they) would be the length of a mile of tinsel."

A Slough greengrocer spent a day finding out how many Brussels sprouts it takes to fill a Mini.

Lawrence Jones was challenged to put a festive twist on the classic challenge of how many people can be squeezed into a Mini.

And he can now reveal that the answer to the poser - for those that have always wanted to know - is that it takes 38,182 sprouts to fill a Mini.

The vegetables weighed the equivalent of 29 festive reindeer and if laid out end to end, would be the length of a mile of tinsel.

Mr Jones said: "I was more than happy to help Mini find the answer to this festive challenge.

"I was so surprised at how many sprouts actually fitted in the car, it was much more than I had originally guessed."

After he finished his challenge, the sprouts were painstakingly picked out of the car by hand and taken to a local soup kitchen to be put to good use over the Christmas period.

Peak Schadenfreude Alert

Tom Maguire at JustOneMinute - go there and read the whole thing.  Excerpts:
Were you worried that ObamaCare was maxing out as a source of comedy gold? Hmm, not even a little worried? Well, fine, but here is some more Obama-induced hilarity anyway; today's cast of thousands is the creative upper crust of Manhattan, so you know they voted for this:
With Affordable Care Act, Canceled Policies for New York Professionals
Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.
They are part of an unusual informal health insurance system that has developed in New York in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.
But those professional association plans were nixed by ObamaCare. Were the deductibles too high and the coverage too spotty? Au contraire, these people needed to share:
...many of the New York policies being canceled meet and often exceed the [ACA] standards, brokers say. The rationale for disqualifying those policies, said Larry Levitt, a health policy expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, was to prevent associations from selling insurance to healthy members who are needed to keep the new health exchanges financially viable.
Siphoning those people, Mr. Levitt said, would leave the pool of health exchange customers “smaller and disproportionately sicker,” and would drive up rates.
That's right - solidarity! 

Game of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen (AKA Emilia Clarke) will play Sarah Connor in the Terminator reboot

Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke has been cast as Sarah Connor in the upcoming Terminator remake, Paramount confirmed Friday.

The new Terminator film, from Paramount Pictures, will be the fifth film in the long-running franchise but the first in a planned stand-alone trilogy.

Clarke, best known for her portrayal of the dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen in HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones, has big shoes to fill.

Linda Hamilton originated the role in James Cameron’s 1984 sci-fi action flick and sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Hamilton’s performance was considered groundbreaking as her character broke gender barriers to become a genuine gun-toting action hero.

More here.

Lucky People - a Compilation of Near Misses

Friday, December 13, 2013

IRS Targeting: Round Two. The first time around, targeting conservatives was a secret. Now, not so much.

President Obama keeps claiming that he had no knowledge of the Internal Revenue Service's abusive muzzling of conservative groups. That line is hard to swallow given that his Treasury and IRS are back at it—this time in broad daylight.

In the media blackout of Thanksgiving week, the Treasury Department dumped a new proposal to govern the political activity of 501(c)(4) groups. The administration claims this rule is needed to clarify confusing tax laws. Hardly. The rule is the IRS's new targeting program—only this time systematic, more effective, and with the force of law.

That this rule was meant to crack down on the White House's political opponents was never in doubt. What is new is the growing concern by House Ways and Means Committee investigators that the regulation was reverse-engineered—designed to isolate and shut down the same tea party groups victimized in the first targeting round. Treasury appears to have combed through those tea party applications, compiled all the groups' main activities, and then restricted those activities in the new rule.

Read the whole thing at the WSJ, by Kim Strassel.

A Canine Version of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ Sung by an Eight-Year-Old

This will make you smile: the gifts listed in The Twelve Days of Christmas are replaced by various dogs that "my parents gave to me".

Jonah Goldberg: The “keep your plan” lie just scratches the surface of the deception.

Jonah Goldberg writing at NRO - read the whole thing there.  Excerpts:

‘Obamacare was sold on a trinity of lies.”

That ornate phrase, more suitable for the Book of Revelations or perhaps the next installment of Game of Thrones, comes from my National Review colleague Rich Lowry. But I like it. Most people know the first deception in the triumvirate of deceit: “If you like your health insurance you can keep it, period.” The second leg in the tripod of deception was “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”

But the third plank in the triad of disinformation hasn’t gotten much attention: Obamacare will save you, me, and the country a lot of money. This lie took several forms.

Obamacare may have been sold on a trinity of lies, but it turns out it’s also lies all the way down.

Friday lnks

Taxidermied mice chess set.

Winner of Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award has been announced. Here are the contenders, including Woody Guthrie (NSFW language).

Why We “Drop” the Ball on New Years

Disney Princesses Turned Into Jedi, Sith, & Other Star Wars Variations.

Bad and weird nativity sets.

Hunting for the Lost River of Paris.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here.

Winner of Literary Review's bad sex in fiction award has been announced. Here are the contenders, including Woody Guthrie (NSFW language)

Reminder - NSFW due to language.

First, the contenders:

1. House of Earth by Woody Guthrie

Back and forth, side to side, they moved on their bed on the hay. Back and forth, side to side, they moved their hips, their feet, their legs, their whole bodies. Their arms tied into knots like vines climbing trees, and the trees moved and swayed, and there was a time and a rhythm to the blend of the movement. And inside the door of her womb she felt her inner organs and tissues, all her muscles and glands, felt them roll, squeeze, squeeze, and roll, and felt that every inch of her whole being stretched, reached, felt out, felt in, felt all around the shape of his penis. So magnified and so keen were her feelings that her inner nerves could even feel the bumps, the ridges, the pimples, the few stray hairs along the shaft of his male rod. (Read the Guardian review)

2. Motherland by William Nicholson 

'So are we going to do it, Lawrence?'

'Yes,' he whispers. 'Yes.'

'Doesn't the Catholic Church say it's wrong?'

'Yes,' he says.

'Fucking me is wrong.'


'But you want to fuck me even so, Lawrence.'

'Yes,' he groans, feeling the tip of his cock pushing into her a little way.

'If you fuck me, will God punish you, Lawrence?'

'I don't care,' he says.

'God won't punish you,' she says, 'if you love me.'

'I love you, Nell. I love you. I love you.'

He feels the intensity of his love for her with each repetition, along with the tingling in his cock, and the profound shock of joy with which he has heard each utterance by her of the word fuck. She seems to know how much this electrifies him. She moves her hips, pushing him deeper into her all the time, and as she does so she whispers, 'Fuck me now, Lawrence. Fuck me now.' (Read the Guardian review)

3. The City of Devi by Manil Suri 

Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy. The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands – only Karun's body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei. In celebration of our breakthrough fourth star, statisticians the world over rejoice. (Read the Observer review)

4. Secrecy by Rupert Thomson 

I closed my eyes as well and moved inside her, imagining the ribbed flesh, the supple rings of muscle. Mauve and yellow flowers filled the blank screen of my eyelids, the petals loosening and drifting downwards on to smooth grey stone. I kissed the soft bristles in the hollow of her armpit, then I kissed the smaller hollow of her clavicle. I moved up to her mouth, which smelled of ripe melon. Not the wound-red Tuscan watermelon, but the pale-green variety I had bought in Naples once, and which had grown, so I was told, on the wild coast of Barbaria. (Read the Guardian review)

5. The World Was All Before Them by Matthew Reynolds 

In the dappled shadows the bodies cling and thrust and arc and stretch. Toes splay. Arms prop shoulders from which a torso slopes. Two legs spring into the air. A head flaps from side to side. Fingers tense, hips grip and ankles twine. Forehead bows to forehead and hair touches in the air as eyes look longingly into eyes, thighs vie, lip lips lip and…

But, damn, dammit! – what was this?

Anxiously he began to get the impression that his vas deferens was initiating its rhythmic squeezing too soon, too soon …

But phew she too seemed to be surfing the waves of neuromuscular euphoria, so that as, sweating, panting, he bowed his forehead to her chest, she gripped him tight, her sharp nails stabbing; and then they were grinning and kissing each other's noses, cheeks; and then they lay entangled for a moment, breathing; and then they rose, one after another, went for a piss, came back and settled into bed again. (Read the Guardian review)

6. My Education by Susan Choi

Until now, my orgasms had been deep and ponderous things; slow to yield to excavation; self-annihilating when they finally did, so that in their wake I felt voided and calm, every yen neutralised, and gazed on whoever had managed the work with benign noninterest. Never had there been this tormenting, self-heightening pleasure, like a hail of hot stones, and yet she seemed to recognise just what had happened, so that before I had even stopped keening she bore down again. She made me come so many times that afternoon that had I been somewhat older, I might have dropped dead. Had I been a doll, she might have twisted off each of my limbs, and sucked the knobs until they glistened, and drilled her tongue into each of the holes.

7. The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood 

Reaching behind me, I found the Brie and broke off a fragment, sucking her nipple through it. She tasted almost as she had the day I took the drop of milk on my finger.

Manon smiled when she realised what I was doing.

You know the peasant saying? If you can't imagine how neighbouring vineyards can produce such different wines put one finger in your woman's quim and another up her arse, then taste both and stop asking stupid questions… My fingers found both vineyards. At the front, she tasted salt as anchovy and as delicious. At the rear, bitter like chocolate and smelling strangely of tobacco. (Read the Guardian review)

8. The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt

We made love for five hours. Anxious by nature and always fearing that I will disappoint, I became a different man in this bed – freed of all worries, carried away by an irrational exhilaration.

For me, Victoria was like a deep nocturnal forest that I strode through without knowing where I was going, through woodland, amid ferns, under tall shivering trees, far from any path. There were noises, puddles, odours, dampness, shapes that vanished, treetops overhanging our bodies. I thought of nothing. I let our frolics lead where they would. I experienced moments of fulfilment and astonishment, euphoria and intimidation, and then episodes of grace when Victoria smiled at me, overcome with happiness, as if we were lying in a glade.

And the award goes to Manil Suri and his shoals of atomic nuclei, number 3 above.  Article on the contenders is here.

Highly recommended: Mona Charen has a lovely column - My Almost-Empty Nest

Read the whole thing at NRO.  Excerpts below. Mona Charen's youngest (of three) son will enter college next year. She reflects on the changes:

In just eight months, Ben will be leaving for college. It’s a milestone for him, but it’s also a transformative life event for me. For the first time in 23 years, I won’t be organizing my time with children in mind. I won’t be thinking about buying (and buying and buying) groceries that include sandwich ingredients for school lunches and the quantities of food that teenaged boys consume, or consulting the school calendar to double check on things Ben must attend to (though, admittedly, he’s nearly always on top of things). Nor will I be e-mailing teachers about this or that. It won’t just be a different schedule; it will feel like a different world.

Why did they have to become such engaging and winsome people? It wouldn’t be so hard to see them go if they were dullards.

Women are so often exhorted these days to seek “empowerment” of one kind or another. Power is fine, I suppose, but is it as deeply satisfying as giving love and support? 

I don’t need to consult an adviser about what comes next. I’ll keep busier with work and spend more time with colleagues after Ben goes off to college. There will even be upsides — my husband and I can eat mushrooms as often as we like. But the bittersweet truth cannot be denied: Such fine young men as we’ve raised leave a huge chasm when they depart.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Memorial Sign Language Interpreter Was a Fake

Favorite quote: “When a deaf person complains, nobody listens,” said Newhoudt-Druchen.

The man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was simply "making childish hand gestures" for hours.

The interpreter who signed Nelson Mandela's memorial on Thursday for deaf viewers was a fake, according to experts.

The man, who signed for a portion of the ceremony including President Barack Obama's speech, was simply making up his own signs, the Deaf Federation of South Africa has said. Deaf viewers in the stadium and those at home would have made little sense of yesterday's proceedings, including Obama's speech.

David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said the unidentified man, who was supposed to be signing in South African sign language, was "waving his hands around but there was no meaning."

South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages.

Mr Buxton, who is deaf himself and speaks through an interpreter, said it was just "childish hand gestures and clapping, it was as if he had never learn a word of sign language in his life."

He said sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern, but his were just strange repetitive hand movements.

“It was hours of complete nonsense. He is clearly a fraud who wanted to stand on stage with big and important people. It's quite audacious if you think about it.”

Buxton, whose wife is South African and also deaf, said neither could not believe what they were watching.

"It is incredibly disrespectful and hurtful to the deaf community," he said.

Buxton called on the South African authorities to "name and shame" the man, who he said had provided sign language for South African President Jacob Zuma’s speech at a military event last year.

The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), Sheena Walters, also said the sign language used was not recognisable as any accepted form of international or South African sign language.

The man was seen on stage immediately next to the speakers, which included members of Mandela's friends as well as world leaders, but seemed to be out of shot during Mr Obama's speech.

Wilma Newhoudt, a member of the ruling party and the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African Parliament, said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.

She tweeted during the ceremony: "ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off."

Asked about the claim by the Associated Press, South Africa's government said it was preparing a statement.

South African Sign Language interpreter Francois Deysel said on Twitter that the interpreter was "making a mockery of our profession.”

More at The Telegraph.

Wednesday links

A Brief History of Prescription Windshields

Beyond Sharknado: Monster vs Machine - Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark (Trailer)

1,200 year-old string phone.  Kind of related: How to Make a Functional Cell Phone From Scratch

Medieval X-Men Art Series.

Supercut of Archery in Movies.

This Fly Hijacks an Ant’s Brain — Then Pops Its Head Off.

ICYMI: Monday's links are here.

Amazon Rockets - 5 Minute Shipping

Beyond drone delivery: five minute shipping from Amazon:

And here's a "behind the scenes" look at how he put the above video together:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This will be bigger than Sharknado: Monster vs Machine - Mega Shark Vs Mecha Shark (Trailer)

Mega Shark has wreaked havoc in 2 previous SyFy movies (see below), but now they've built a giant robot shark to combat it!  What a great idea!  And Debbie Gibson is helping!

I'm not sure when this is being aired - I'm sure the information is out there somewhere but there's only so much research one can do into this subject before your one's start to bleed.

Mega Shark's first appearance was in Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus:

And the second was in Mega Shark Vs. Crocosaurus: here's a "best parts" video clip:

More info here.

I loved this: 'Next Life,' a life-affirming dramatic short film with a sci-fi twist

Ever wondered about reincarnation?  

Filmmaker Casimir Nozkowski has a new short out: "It's about a dying woman with a secret plan." 

Cartoon of the day: If you like your _________, you can keep it.

Branco at Legal Insurrection.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Viral: Airline Stages ‘Christmas Miracle’ for Hundreds of Lucky Passengers

Canadian airline WestJet set up a virtual Santa who asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas via a live video feed - he would know each passenger’s name after the boarding passes were scanned.  Some asked for toys, others for clothes, while one couple jokingly asked for a really big flat-screen TV. 

And that was it — or so they thought.

While the passengers’ flights were in the air, 175 WestJet volunteers ran out and gathered the list of gifts the people had asked Santa for. As in, all of them.

Watch the video to see how it played out.

Monday links

The history of the sneeze guard.

Compilation: Dogs Terrified Of Walking Past Cats.  Vaguely related: Bears Acting Like Humans Compilation.

Bugs and Spiders Disguised as Poop, Leaves, and Each Other.

Strange Christmas Traditions Around the World.

Star Wars/Bohemian Rhapsody music video mashup.

Dad Illustrates The Weirdest Things He Has Actually Said To His Kids.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here.