Lord Ahmed

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham?” I thought that was a joke — the nickname of a soccer player, or a crazy morning DJ or something. But it’s not a joke. Nazir Ahmed, Baron Ahmed of Rotherham is a real British Lord. In the US he’d probably be a Senator or Congressman. Although to be fair, the House of Lords has less power than the US Congress, so maybe the joke’s on us.

Unclogging a toilet

This procedure for unclogging a toilet worked for me. It involves pouring in hot water and dish soap. It seems risky, but there have been no apparent problems. After pouring in the hot water it might be good to wait half an hour or so before flushing, to avoid the stress of a sudden temperature change.

Well, one problem: putting the plunger in the hot water caused the rubber cup to shrink and distort, so the plunger is now useless.

The whole world isn’t like the place you live

“…where I live lawns are the buffer zone between my house and wild friggin’ animals who want to kill me and trash my stuff. Only people who haven’t been out of a city think places that aren’t lawns automatically default to pavement. They default to a jungle that’s red of claw and tooth. Woodland creatures won’t stop until they’ve killed your cat, taken a dump in your garage, eaten the tomatoes, sprayed skunk musk on your dog, and chewed the radiator hose off your truck (or in the case of Washington Post hacks, your leased Prius). Nature is not a Sierra Club poster and it’s not your friend. My lawn is an open shooting lane that allows me to pick off furry interlopers before they kill the chickens.” — Lawns Are Soul Crushing – A Fisking


Charges have been dropped against Paul Curtis, the Elvis impersonator accused of mailing ricin to President Obama and Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. Curtis is also a musician and certified reflexologist. Ricin is a poison made from castor beans. This must have something to do with something.


Plane, train, and bus

The Instapundit reports a high speed train compares unfavorably to a bus. I like trains, but he may be right. These are not the Greyhound buses of my youth:

“A one-way ticket on the bus costs $18, compared to a likely train fare of more than $50. And the bus takes only three hours and 50 minutes to get from Iowa City to Chicago. That’s one hour and 10 minutes faster than the ‘high-speed’ train.”

A few weeks ago I took a private intercity bus on one leg of a trip. It made a striking contrast with the plane going out. At the airport, first there were the TSA ‘security’ checks.

Welcome to Colossal Airport Adventure. A huge rude woman bars the way; you can’t get by the woman.

> Drop belt.

You’re in a terminal full of disgruntled passengers. A huge rude woman bars the way. You can’t get by the woman.

> Drop bottle.

You’re in a terminal full of disgruntled passengers. A huge rude woman bars the way. You can’t get by the woman.

> Drop nail clippers.

You’re in a terminal full of disgruntled passengers. A huge rude woman bars the way. You can’t get by the woman.

Et cetera. Much of the security theater is irrational and offensive, and the TSA guards were surly, but the whole-body x-ray machines were taped off. I got off easy. They didn’t order me to throw away my arch supports, and I only had to show my papers, take off my belt, shoes, and jacket, empty my pockets, and walk through the metal detector. The elderly lady behind me had to do all that, and have an intrusive physical search. Then I had to walk through an insanely overpriced mall to my terminal, find a water fountain to fill the empty bottle I’d taken through security, wait ninety minutes to board a cramped airliner, and stuff my carry-on under the seat in front of me. The overhead bins were full, and I had a window seat anyway.

I only took a carry-on because the charges for checked bags are crazy. It’s a nuisance to haul them through the airport and track them down at the other end, only to have them lost or damaged like as not. Why pay $25 for that? I’d shipped ahead to my destination a package of the stuff I’d have otherwise checked, and that worked very well.

Fortunately in the middle seat on the plane was a tiny Asian lady who talked no more than I did – that is, not at all – and I had good books for travel reading. Just as well, because we would have nearly had to shout to be heard over the ambient noise. The return flight, originating from a smaller airport, was more pleasant, except the middle passenger was a guy my own size, so we were both a bit crowded. The whole leg was about as good as air travel gets today, and that’s not very good.

Coming back, I walked from the terminal across the airport to the bus hub. I gave the driver a twenty, stepped aboard, and sat down. The seat next to me was empty. Buses run every hour; we left about five minutes after I boarded, so some luck there. The seat was wide and comfortable; the bus and the passengers were quiet. My destination was the first stop, at a popular hotel in the next city, less than ninety minutes from the airport. As an alternative to the bus I might have taken the train, but the connections are crazy, and it would have taken twice as long. It might have cost a bit less, though I can’t figure out from the published material just what the charges would have been, and it would have got me to a less convenient location in the end. In general I’d rather take a train than a bus, but it wasn’t a practical option at this end. I think the train system would have worked well at the other end, but according to the schedule it would have taken twice as long as the car ride from the airport, and at the end of the line I’d have still been well short of my destination. The rest of the way, I’d have had to take the bus.

Space-time anomalies

Most of us have noticed, maybe subconsciously, that things are getting weird. Routinely guys down at the coffee shop read the paper, puzzle over a story, and conclude “that’s nuts.” What’s happening? The answer is in these overlooked news stories:

Clearly the consequences of Samoa’s risky time jump are again playing themselves out. The shift ’caused’ the kiwi to be transported half way around the world, and Osama bin Laden to suddenly appear in Pakistan. It strains credulity to think he could have been there for years without the Pakistanis knowing. Some would have you believe the Pakistanis are simply corrupt and incompetent; others say they’re playing a double game. Neither of these theories explains the kiwi, or the involvement of China, Pakistan’s long-time ally.

Watch for connections like this, whether in the past or the future, and they quickly become visible. Princess Beatrice’s hat; the Volkswagen Kharmen Ghia; the last-minute addition of twelve men to this picture of Secretary Clinton – inexplicable as rational choices, they can only be consequences of clumsy attempts to cover up space-time manipulation, just like the poor kiwi.