American Elephants

A Grand Tour of British Accents by The Elephant's Child

The voice is that of Andrew Jack, a dialogue coach.

An Unusual London Bus Shelter by The Elephant's Child

Pepsi Max surprised London commuters with a very unusual bus shelter. This is brilliant advertising. Memorable, startling, fun, and people who experienced it will talk about it all day, and tell all their friends. What more could a creative director ask?

Antarctic Adventures Can Become Addictive by The Elephant's Child

1928: The cutter Bear, used by U.S. Admiral Richard Byrd on an expedition to the South Polar regions. (click to enlarge)

The Week has assembled a group of historic photographs of icebreakers here, from a much longer historical photography collection from the U.S.Coast Guard, showing icebreaking since the mid 1800s. You start getting interested in the Arctic and Antarctic, and explorations and rescues, and first thing you know, you’re collecting every book you can find about Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations and the Endurance, and then you get the 2002 Kenneth Branagh film (excellent) and books about the incredible expedition and examples of leadership, survival and courage, and you’re hooked.  You’ll be ordering up the whiskey reproduced from the Scotch Whiskey buried for a hundred years, in Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition Hut. There’s even a book about that.

Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns by The Elephant's Child

O.K. So how can he be still alive? You saw him fall off the building. You saw him dead.  A major tease from the BBC.

Peter O’Toole: 1932-2013 R.I.P. by The Elephant's Child
December 15, 2013, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Entertainment, Movies, United Kingdom | Tags: , ,


Consummate actor Peter O’Toole has died in London at the age of 81.
From Lawrence of Arabia which brought him to stardom, he brought much pleasure to world audiences over the years. And there was Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye Mr. Chips, My Favorite Year, and even the Pixar animated Ratatouille. So many memories. His movies will live on.


Daniel Hannan on the Anglo Saxon Tradition by The Elephant's Child

In “Inventing Freedom”, Daniel Hannan reflects on the historical origin and spread of the principles that have made America great, and their role in creating a sphere of economic and political liberty that is as crucial as it is imperiled. Hannan argues that the ideas and institutions we consider essential to maintaining and preserving our freedoms — individual rights, private property, the rule of law, and the institutions of representative government — are the legacy of a very specific tradition that was born in England and that we Americans, along with other former British colonies, inherited.


A Glimpse of the Future of Obamacare: Everything You Wanted to Know. by The Elephant's Child

People all over the country are being dropped by their insurance plans and  the replacements offered have shocked them with increased monthly cost and way bigger annual deductibles. The question is if this is a planned ObamaCare effect designed to push people into ObamaCare or if it is possibly innocent. The conclusion is almost certainly that when the President said “If you like your insurance you can keep your insurance,” he lied, quite deliberately. Ditto keeping your doctor.

As far as that goes, the claim that the website crashes were due to high traffic volumes was a lie too. And the claim that the Affordable Care Act is affordable quality health insurance made available to everyone — that’s a lie as well. Will anything about ObamaCare be an honest improvement? It’s very doubtful.

The basis on which they tried to sell this was that our health care was the most expensive in the world, and our outcomes weren’t even as good. But that was a lie too. In Canada, if you need a CT scan, you might have to wait for weeks to get an appointment. Here it takes maybe 25 to 35 minutes. You need to see a specialist, an appointment might take a few days or even a couple of weeks — in Canada it can take months, and worried Canadians can cross the border to find a specialist here.

Survival rates are influenced by the fact that we consider all babies born alive — as born alive. Most countries consider only those likely to survive as born alive, while we try to save them all. Because we are a very large country with many vehicles and highways, we have lots of traffic accidents. Those things skew the statistics. On the other hand we pay more for medicine because we like private rooms and short waits for care. And the idea that poor people could not get care was a lie as well. Emergency room treatment is available for all — by law, and hospitals give lots of charity treatment which makes it more expensive for the rest of us.

ObamaCare was modeled after Massachusetts’ 2006 healthcare law. It is worth understanding just how  that law has worked out. Romneycare pioneered ObamaCare’s now familiar individual mandate, government-built health exchanges and Medicaid expansion. Romney in 2012 said that reform should be state-based and not centrally-planned from Washington. Romneycare was tailored for the known demographics of Massachusetts’ uninsured population. Henry Payne takes a careful look at how Romneycare has fared in the last seven years in his column. It is not pretty, but as clear an indication of what will happen to Obamacare as you will get. Do read the whole thing, it is important, and an excellent column.

The Canadians are trying to figure out how to return their health care to a doctor-patient relationship that is not government controlled. Britain’s National Health Service is going broke, as well as killing lots of its patients and mistreating others. Go to any of the British papers and enter NHS or National Health Service in the search function. I’ve been following it for years and it just gets worse and worse.

Government-run healthcare doesn’t work. We should have known that without having to go through all this mess simply by looking carefully at the Indian Health Service and Veterans’ Health Care. Most of what is wrong with heath care in this country is because of government interference in the marketplace.

Yet many say that ObamaCare was designed to fail, and in failing to force you into single-payer government-run socialized medicine. But that does not work successfully anywhere either. To use the favorite liberal buzz word — it’s not sustainable.

When a Story Plot Becomes All Too Real by The Elephant's Child

It’s a favorite plot, so overused that it has become trite: something happens to the pilot and a passenger, a stewardess, someone who is not a pilot has to be coached into bringing the plane in for a landing. Heard it all too many times, right? Tiresome.

Except it just happened, in England. Officials at Humberside Airport in northwest England put emergency plans into place and called in flight instructors when the pilot of a small Cessna 172 collapsed in the cockpit and his passenger, 77 year-old John Wildey took the controls and began his first landing with help from flight instructors.  Soon after he landed, his friend, the pilot, died.

It has always been a possible scenario, as so many scary situations are — and sometimes they turn real.  Here’s the full story;


The Fry-Scraper: A Tale of Unintended Consequences by The Elephant's Child

The Story of an Unpublished World War II Propaganda Poster: by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Vanderleun)

It Really Is An Approaching Train Wreck. Can We Stop It? by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration lied to you from the beginning. They claimed that health care costs were spiraling out of control and by reforming health care they would bring costs down. In fact, the costs of health care were slowly coming down in response to new diagnostic tools and new medicines that saved higher hospital costs. They claimed that they were echoing Massachusetts health plan, but the president’s advisers on health care  were all great admirers of Britain’s National Health Service.

The advisers looked at the cost of health care and determined that most of the cost for any person came in the final years of their lives. If they could get rid of that cost, then American health care would cost lots less. So if someone was in their 80s or 90s, they shouldn’t be allowed to rack up big costs for operations or expensive treatments.

A new report on Britain’s National Health Service notes that as many as 13,000 needless deaths have occurred in 14 NHS hospital trusts since 2005. This is no fluke. It’s the result of socialized medicine, done by experts.

In ObamaCare, the government panel that controls what procedures one may receive (cost effectiveness) is the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) or as Sarah Palin called it — the Death Panel. It would decide when you could get dialysis and when they pulled the cord.

Then there was the “Liverpool Care Pathway” — an Orwellian death panel operation, where nurses shouted to visitors to not give their dying relatives sips of water for fear it would interfere with the hospital’s death target. “No one was doing anything ‘wrong’ since everything was done by the book,” wrote Jenkins.

Keogh found that as many as 13,000 “needless” deaths were the result, about 3 per day in each hospital district.

The U.K. has seen reform after reform of its health care system, but none has made much difference.

The administration granted a one-year delay in the employer mandate, something that he cannot legally do. The House just passed a one-year delay for the individual mandate, which Obama says he will veto. Obama’s goal is to get as many people signed up or ObamaCare subsidies as he can, as quickly as he can, so that any repeal of the law becomes politically impossible. That’s why the administration is paying people to sign individuals up. Delaying the employer mandate guarantees that hundreds of thousands of people will end up at an ObamaCare exchange after their employers use the delay to drop coverage.

He is even allowing states to take the applicants’ word for it that they don’t have coverage available  to them at work and that their income is as low as they claim it is. It opens the door to fraud, but lax enforcement means more will sign up.

Unions are turning against ObamaCare in a big way, they are learning about the downside. The law will drive up insurance costs, massively increase government spending, create huge shortages of doctors with no way to solve that problem except for long waits to see a doctor, $1 trillion in new taxes, continue to destroy full-time jobs, and do nothing whatsoever to control health care costs.

It is a train wreck. Even Democrats are wanting to repeal and replace.  But they are obsessed with “public” rather than “private”,  “non-profit” rather than “for profit” that they become oblivious to simple basic facts.  Some Democrats see the solution as moving everyone into Medicare, but that would not solve a single problem in ObamaCare.

A warning shot was fired a few months ago when one hospital, Mid-Staffordshire, was found to be a veritable death trap of neglect, misspent funds and starved investment. Now a new report on 14 NHS trusts, released by government-appointed Prof. Sir Bruce Keogh this week, finds that neglect and “needless” deaths are pretty much a characteristic of the entire system.

Socialized medicine simply doesn’t work. The state can cover up big problems, state priorities trump those of the consumer, bureaucracies resist change. Is that really what we need— a system to provide needless death?

Because I Loved The Picture, and The Triumphant Grin. by The Elephant's Child


This post began with a picture. Queen Elizabeth’s horse won the Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot meeting. The Gold Cup is the most prestigious event for “stayers”— horses which specialize in racing over long distances. It is traditionally held on day three of the meeting.

The Ascot Racecourse was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and the Ascot estate belongs to the crown. Queen Elizabeth attends every year, as do members of the Royal Family. They arrive each day in a horse-drawn carriage, with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day with the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard.

It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often gets more attention than the actual racing. Ladies’ hats are a feature of the day. Dress code is strictly enforced, day dresses with a hat for the ladies and for the men black or grey morning dress with top hat is required. People who have no idea about the horse race part of the day have undoubtedly seen pictures of the weird and wonderful or just plain strange hats.

There are five days of races, and the Gold Cup on the third day was on June 20th. The Queen has reigned for 61 years and has attended Ascot every year since 1945. Her horses have won races 22 times, but this is the first Gold Cup, the most prestigious of all. Estimate’s win is the first time ever that a reigning monarch has won the Gold Cup. The Queen usually awards the cup to the winner. This year Prince Andrew awarded the cup to his mother.  The race is two miles and four furlongs. It is the world’s most famous horse race.

So this is a belated post, but I just loved the triumphant grin.


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