Logic is a Wreath of Pretty Flowers That Smell Bad.

  • If you're like me, you've always wanted a big foam hand appropriate for those occasions where you're cheering on the Vulcan Science Academy in the big tridemensional chess tournament. Here you go.

  • In physics news, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has finally gotten up to speed. And, as always, if you'd like to know whether the Large Hadron Collider has destroyed the world yet, you can check that out at: http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/.

    (According to CERN, there are at least seven different ways in which you don't have to worry about the LHC destroying the world.)

  • The MinuteMan has done a great job in covering the inconvenient fact that the ObamaCare legislation, as passed, did not actually provide one of the main benefits its supporters claimed: guaranteed "coverage" of children with pre-existing conditions. His latest installment is here, and its a lurid tale of Democrat incompetence/bullying/posturing put together with the cowardly acquiescence of the health insurance companies. Fun! Unless you're a fan of the rule of law, in which case you might find it a tad depressing.

  • Betsy Newmark notes some depressing news contained in a recent poll. Although specific Democatic initiatives, like ObamaCare, may be deservedly unpopular, one implementation scheme is undeservedly popular: the notion that, somehow, "the rich" can pay for ever more government goodies delivered to the Rest Of Us.

    The Quinnipiac University poll found that 60 percent of Americans among both major political parties think raising income taxes on households making more than $250,000 should be a main tenet of the government's efforts to tame the deficit. More than 70 percent, including a majority of Republicans, say those making more than $1 million should pay more.

    Betsy also links to an Alan Reynolds op-ed in today's WSJ that describes just how stupid, impractical, and dangerous that idea is.

    President Barack Obama's new health-care legislation aims to raise $210 billion over 10 years to pay for the extensive new entitlements. How? By slapping a 3.8% "Medicare tax" on interest and rental income, dividends and capital gains of couples earning more than $250,000, or singles with more than $200,000.

    The president also hopes to raise $364 billion over 10 years from the same taxpayers by raising the top two tax rates to 36%-39.6% from 33%-35%, plus another $105 billion by raising the tax on dividends and capital gains to 20% from 15%, and another $500 billion by capping and phasing out exemptions and deductions.

    Add it up and the government is counting on squeezing an extra $1.2 trillion over 10 years from a tiny sliver of taxpayers who already pay more than half of all individual taxes.

    It won't work. It never works.

    We are in a heap of trouble.

    (Reynolds' article is behind the WSJ subscriber wall, but you can use the Google Two-Step to read the whole thing: search for the the article's title and then click on the first link provided.)

  • Two words: Peeps Dioramas. You can thank me later.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:09 AM EST

A Serious Man

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Not a bad movie to watch around Passover! And it's from the Coen Brothers. Nominated for two Oscars (Best Movie and Best Original Screenplay), it didn't win, but still…

Other than the brief opening, a little Yiddish fable set in (roughly) centuries-ago Eastern Europe, the movie is set in 1967 and an anonymous Minneapolis suburb. The hero—although maybe not the title character—is Larry Gopnik, a physics professor, family man, observant Jew, and an all-around decent guy. What could go wrong?

Well, you might want to brush up on the Book of Job. Just hitting the high points here: Larry's wife is cheating on him, and wants a divorce. His son is a both a potty-mouth and a pothead. His daughter is a potty-mouth and an airhead, a stereotypical Princess in the making. His deadbeat brother has moved in, whose life is centered around (1) a bizarre work of crackpot math, and (2) draining a pesky sebaceous cyst on the back of his neck. One neighbor views him with contempt tinged with hostility; the other is a beautiful and mysterious woman who sunbathes nude in her backyard. (Oh yeah, you might aslo want to brush up on the Second Book of Samuel.) At work, he's up for tenure, the tenure committee is getting anonymous accusations of moral turpitude, his students are bored, and a flunking Asian student attempts to bribe him for a good grade.

Also: the Columbia Record Club is on his ass. You don't want that.

The movie is very darkly funny, and (frankly) one of the reasons it works so well is its immersion in 1967 Midwestern Jewish culture. There are a lot of unknowns in the cast, but also a bunch of actors you've probably seen before (George Wyner, Richard Kind, even Fyvush Finkel in a small role). A special treat was Simon Helberg as a very young, green, Rabbi—hey, that's Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory. Everybody's wonderful.

Something I learned: Jews, when consternated, are as likely as Christians to exclaim Jesus Christ! I'm still working on the theological implications of that: do they think they're avoiding a Third Commandment foul when they do that? (Or Second, if you number them that way?) If so, does it work?

Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:08 AM EST