Monthly Archives: June 2014

Marcello Barenghi draws photorealistic illustrations of everyday objects, and they are amazing. Check these out, plus a time-lapse video of how he does it.

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Here’s a video of how he does it:

You can see more of his work on his YouTube channel.

(via Colossal)

I was reading a piece in McClatchey DC the other day describing Obama about “climate change” (his characterization of everyone who doesn’t believe the global warming BS as a “fringe element” is typical climate hoax stuff), and I had to stop when I saw this quote from the chief egomaniac:Obama-finger-234x300

“What’s the point of public office if you’re not going to use your power to help solve problems?”

I’m sure Obama thinks he’s got all kinds of powers, and he can just use his “pen and phone” to bypass Congress and do whatever the hell he pleases to forward his plan for reducing America to the mediocrity that progressive liberals think it deserves.

It got me to thinking about what powers, exactly, are prescribed to the Executive Branch by our Constitution. When the Founders set up our representative form of government, they didn’t envision citizens getting elected to office so they could assume “powers” over the rest of us. Rather, our elected officials were to be citizen legislators (not full-time bureaucrats), and special care was taken to ensure that we didn’t end up with an imperial president.

So, what powers are given to the holder of the Executive office? Surely, there must be a bunch of them, right? Presidents frequently issue “executive orders” that direct all kinds of things to happen. The current holder of the office seems to think this is how he can effect his agenda, since the House of Representatives is held by the obstinate party of “no” (Republicans).

Here are the powers assigned to the Executive Branch in Article 2 of the Constitution:

  1.  He shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
  2. He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
  3. The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

That’s it. It’s a pretty short list. So how is it that presidents are able to issue anywhere from Obama’s 109 to Franklin Roosevelt’s 3,522 Executive Orders? There is no specific provision in Article II for such a thing. However, Congresses over the years have given discretion to the President to issue orders that have the force of law. If this is the case, why can’t Congress remove that authority, or nullify certain orders from the Office of the President? I don’t know the answer to that – I’ll have to do some more research.

Do you know? Has Congress or the Courts ever nullified an Executive Order? Point me to information in the comments.


It’s a crazy-sounding idea, but hey: it could work…

In a paper he recently published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B, Tao points to two regions of China, the Northern and Eastern China Plains, that have a similar geographic location as the Midwest—but far fewer tornadoes. The difference, he says, is that China’s plains are surrounded by three east-west mountain ranges, which slow down passing winds enough to prevent tornados from forming.tornado

Tao, then, is essentially suggesting we build mountain range-sized walls across Tornado Alley—a superstructure that he says could end tornado disasters in the region altogether. See, the notoriously windy American region lies right in “the zone of mixing,” with warm, moist air blowing north from the Gulf, and cold air heading southbound. When the winds collide, they can create vortex turbulence, which can spawn major tornadoes.

If there were 1,000 foot tall walls running east-to-west in the region—like the mountain and hill ranges that do so in China—it would theoretically break up that flow, preventing the winds from becoming strong enough to form deadly tornadoes. Tao points out that in 2013, there were 811 tornadoes in the US, most of them in Tornado Alley. In China, there were three.

“In an ideal world,” Tao told me in an email, “we should build three walls in Tornado Alley: the first one should be close to the northern boundary of the Tornado Alley, maybe in North Dakota. The second one should be in the middle, maybe in the middle of Oklahoma and going to east. The third one can be in the south of Texas and Louisiana.”

via A Physicist Says We Can Tornado-Proof the Midwest with Three 1,000-Foot Walls | Motherboard.

And, if you’re still alive when the miscreants are done, call 911. This was the advice after a series of robbery-assaults in the Canton

What ever happened to the idea that a person has a right to defend himself, his family, and his property from criminals? We’ve become so anti-gun that we’re dispensing that kind of stupid advice to potential crime victims. Of course, states like Maryland want to make it as hard as possible for law-abiding citizens to avail themselves of their second amendment rights. If more people were carrying, and more criminals were aware of it, maybe they’d think twice about punching someone in the face and trying to steal their purse.

Police area reminding folks in all areas of the city to walk in groups and well-lit areas, and if you are attacked, police offered the following advice.”We never encourage anyone to fight back. It’s best to comply, but while you’re doing that, try to get the best description possible as you’re able to do and then immediately contact 911,” Baltimore City police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said.

Still, for neighbors like Ruzin, they are left with an uneasy feeling.

Yeah, I’d have an uneasy feeling too, if the best the police can do is say “don’t fight back.”

via Police investigate Canton assault-robberies | Maryland News – WBAL Home.

When the bar is set way low, everybody can be a winner. Never mind all those wait-listed veterans looking for medical help. This is an embarrassing and shameful spectacle, and nobody in the government seems to be too concerned about it.

All of the 470 senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs received annual ratings over the last four years indicating that they were “fully successful” in their jobs or even better, according to data released at a congressional hearing on Friday, despite delays in processing disability compensation claims and problems with veterans’ access to the department’s sprawling health care system.1398994027000-benson-VAcoverup050214-copy

None of the department’s senior executives received either of the two lowest of five possible job ratings, “minimally satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory,” in any of the past four fiscal years.

The data also showed that in 2013, nearly 80 percent of the senior executives were rated either “outstanding” or as having exceeded “fully successful” in their job performance, and that at least 65 percent of the executives received performance awards, which averaged around $9,000. Only about 20 percent received the middle of the five ratings.

Veterans Affairs officials sought to play down the data, saying that only 15 senior executives across the entire federal government had received either of the two lowest ratings in the most recent year — suggesting that the high ratings enjoyed by V.A. officials were not out of line with those of their counterparts at other government agencies.

But the data, which were a focus of a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, angered lawmakers who said they provided further evidence that the highest reaches of the department were out of touch with problems in the system and that there was a lack of accountability for poor management.

“Do you think that’s normal in business, that nearly every executive is successful?” Representative Phil Roe, Republican of Tennessee, asked Gina S. Farrisee, the department’s assistant secretary for human resources and administration. “That means you put the bar down here, so anybody can step over it.”

Representative Ann McLane Kuster, Democrat of New Hampshire, likened the numbers to grade inflation and said they reminded her of Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, where “all of the children are above average.”

via Every Senior V.A. Executive Was Rated ‘Fully Successful’ or Better Over 4 Years –

Hasan Kale makes incredibly small paintings of his native Istanbul on everyday things.

From onion peels to kiwi seeds or even bits of chocolate, it seems any canvas is sufficient for Turkish artistHasan Kale (previously) as long as it meets the requirement of being incredibly tiny. Hasan delights in the challenge of depicting landscapes of his native Istanbul in the most infinitesimal of brush strokes, a feat that requires the use of a magnifying glass to appreciate the details of each piece.






(via Colossal) You can see more of his work on his Facebook page.

I hadn’t taken any pictures with film in a long time – maybe 25 or 30 years. My friend Bruce gave me (yes, gave me) a Nikon film camera with a case and a roll of film. It took me forever (actually only a couple of months, but still too long) to actually load the film and go out looking for something to photograph. I think I was scared I wouldn’t remember how to do film anymore. I ended up shooting a couple of rolls, but only about half of them were worth keeping.

I like the look of the film photos. The grain visible in them reminds of pictures from my past – the ones my Mom and Dad took of us when we were kids.