American Idol – still predicting a James Durbin win


In my last American Idol Contestants post I predicted James Durbin will win and I’m sticking to that story, especially after tonights brilliant performance of Carol King’s Tonight You’re Mine.     Although all the remaining folks are exceptional singers with great personalities, only James and Casey seem to bring exceptional musicianship as well.    James, however, seems to edge out Casey on a key important factor in American Idol Contestants – cuteness, especially to the many teenage girls who appear to be the most important voting demographic on the show.

In my humble American Idol fan opinion Ashley is the best singer left on the show, and I think she still has something of a shot at winning, but I think the smart money is on James Durbin to win American Idol.

Obama’s Birth Certificate. Official Copy. Long Form. CASE CLOSED!


Another curious episode in the history of the democratic party  comes to a close today as Barack Obama released a photograph of the long form official vault copy of  his birth certificate.  Signed by all the responsible parties needed in Hawaii to verify an official live birth of a US citizen, this should seal the presidential deal for all but the kookiest of the kooks who have pursued this silly angle for years.    Although it is odd to me that it took so long to release this innocuous copy, I now assume the team was strategically holding back  in the hopes of derailing some candidates, collecting foolish quotes about Obama’s legitimacy, etc.   One would have expected them to wait a bit longer but the issue had gained so much traction perhaps they felt more harm was coming than they’d expected.

In any case, here it is:

Only the pathetically  gullible and/or irrational will dispute this any longer.   Unfortunately that includes …. more of us than anybody would like to admit.       Tribal thinking rules now across the USA and across the globe.   People believe what they are told to believe by fellow tribe members without bothering to think for themselves.  Conclusions define the facts for them.   It’s become unusual – even among many in the science commmunity – to apply the scientific and rational approach where facts define the conclusion.    Advocacy and activism have almost completely replaced reason, and things are not going to change anytime soon.

I blame the 60s.

History of the Democrats – part deux. The SEO edition.


Well, my “history of the democratic party” experiment has been very interesting to say the least.   The original article at Travel and History is ranking pretty well at Google – currently 15th.  However the previous post here at JoeDuck, which is really mostly just referencing that superior treatment of the topic, is ranking 12th.    I’ve been doing enough experiments sloppily that I can’t be sure, but I think Google had this “right” last week when the Travel and History post was higher than the JoeDuck reference.   Not clear to me why the JoeDuck would rank higher but perhaps it’s part of the algorithm shaking out the “right answer” for how to rank an excellent article on the history of the democrats.

So, in the interest of SEO excellence we bring you THIS post, which is referencing the correct one yet again and hopefully prompting Google to get it right and rank that one higher than this one.

Although clearly most users would want a real article about the history of the democratic party rather than the JoeDuck reference and rant, I can’t really suggest how high in the rankings that one should appear.  It’s a good article but not great, based mostly on info gleaned from Wikipedia’s superior treatment of the Dems history.

The End…..

History of the Democratic Party


Over at Travel and History I have penned an article about the History of the Democratic Party of the United States called, not surprisingly, the ” History of the Democratic Party “.     Based mostly on a very abbreviated version of Wikipedia material, we learn among other things that political cycles for both the Democrats and Republicans tend to last a long time, and that a major Democratic Dynasty ended with the election of Abraham Lincoln, ushering in a lengthy Republican era.    More recently things seem to be switching a bit more dramatically as collectively we very foolish voters  (yes, I mean YOU and ME) swing wildly from the right to the left, failing as always to find a smart balance of clear thinking in foreign policy, economics and social policy.    Democrats and liberals continue to fret over policies in the USA that are far more progressive than the majority of countries, while conservatives call for budget cutting everywhere but where it’ll have the greatest positive effect  – the defense budget.

It’s obvious and clear we need to trim the excesses of a society that has been drunk on prosperity since WWII but can no longer afford a massive, uninspired bureaucracy nor afford to coddle the self-absorbed and out of touch elite class.   We need a new party based on the founding principles of individual freedoms, entrepreneurial innovation and efficiency, community involvement, and other good stuff.

The recipe is not complicated – it’s called the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, but it must be interpreted in modern terms and without the bizarre cognitive biases that infect the right (such as advocating for mixing church and state) or the left (such as higher taxes and bureaucratic problem solving).

Rulers of England


Rulers of England

In honor of the upcoming English Royal Wedding and the fact I’m watching “The Tudors” on Netflix right now, I thought it would be fun to post a list of the rulers of England.

This is a list of the generally recognized kings and queens of England from 1066 to the present day.

Norman Kings:

William I  (1066-1087)
William II  (1087-1100)
Henry I    (1100-1135)
Stephen   (1135-1154)

Plantagenets

Henry II (1154-1189)
Richard I (Richard the Lion-Hearted) (1189-1199)
John (1199-1216)
Henry III (1216-1272)
Edward I (1272-1307)
Edward II (1307-1327)
Edward III (1327-1377)
Richard II (1377-1399)

House of Lancaster

Henry IV (1399-1413)
Henry V (1413-1422)
Henry VI (1422-1461)

House of York

Edward IV (1461-1483)
Edward V (April-June 1483)
Richard III (1483-1485)

Tudors

Henry VII (1485-1509)
Henry VIII (1509-1547)
Edward VI (1547-1553)
Mary (1553-1558)
Elizabeth (1558-1603)

Stuarts

James I (1603-1625)
Charles I (1625-1649)

1649-1660 – Commonwelath Interregnum: England is briefly ruled by Parliament.  Oliver Cromwell and son Richard Cromwell  are the “Lord Protectors of the Commonwealth”.  This time is often referred to as “the Protectorate”

Stuarts Restored to the Crown in 1660

Charles II (1660-1685)
James II (1685-1688)

The Bloodless Revolution  1688.  Also known as “The Glorious Revolution”.

William (of Orange) and Mary (1689-1702)
Anne (1702-1714)

Hanovers

George I (1714-1727)
George II (1727-1760)
George III (1760-1820)
George IV (1820-1830)
William IV (1830-1837)
Victoria (1837-1901)

Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

Edward VII (1901-1910)

Windsors (George V-Elizabeth II)
(George V changed family name Wettin to Windsor)

George V (1910-1936)
Edward VIII (1936)
George VI (1936-1952)
Elizabeth II (1952- )

Yes, of course there is a fancy website for the upcoming Royal Wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton.  It is the Royal Wedding website.

Tibet Solution? Tourism.


As a big fan of China, Tourism, and individual freedoms and rights I think a solution to the challenges facing Tibet are these  (I wrote this a few years ago at my website that features the Qinhai-Tibet Railway sometimes called the pan-himalayan railroad, Llhasa Express, Tibet Train.    As with all conflicts, there is no “overall solution” because people’s needs are different, but there are many “win win” scenarios where things that are NOT in dispute can be resolved to everybody’s satisfaction.   Everybody wants the children of Tibet to be healthy, happy, well fed, and given good medical care.  Everybody wants Tibetans to be allowed to practice Buddhism, and everybody wants a way for others to experience the wonder of Tibet.  Tourism can make all that happen.

Tibet – Towards a Solution

Here is my proposal for a “win win” situation in Tibet: 

Given that most of the people of China want a strong connection with Tibet and Tibet wants and needs a strong connection with China:

* China grants greater autonomy to Tibet in a relationship that is modelled after Hong Kong and respects Buddhist traditions and the right for people.

* Tibetans agree to work with China to make this relationship beneficial to all.

* China continues to build on the region’s infrastructure, including the Pan Himalayan Railway.

* Tibetans embrace tourism as their primary agent of economic development, recognizing that the cultural and religious history of the region is a very powerful theme for travel marketing and a dramatic increase in regional tourism.

* China agrees that the region will be the key beneficiary of the tourism boom that will come from regional stability and national promotion of the wonders of Tibet.

* Tibetans will share their cultural and religious traditions as much as is culturally comfortable for them. The region can become another jewel in China’s tourism crown as the country prepares to become one of the world’s top travel destinations.