Monday, March 31, 2008

Fitna —The Movie II

Afshin Ellian in The Wall Street Journal:
"Fitna" has arrived.

Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders put the 15-minute movie about the Quran on the Internet Thursday night. But for weeks before anyone saw it, the Dutch flag was burned around the Islamic world. Iran's undemocratically-elected parliament endorsed a boycott of the Netherlands, and Web sites linked to al Qaeda called for terrorist attacks.

Americans may be accustomed to images of angry bearded men setting their flag alight. The Dutch aren't. In response, the government raised the national terrorist threat level to "substantial" while Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende distanced himself from the movie. Until the last moment, he urged Mr. Wilders not to show the film.

The message of "Fitna" is that the Quran is the living inspiration for jihadists. Without the Quran's violent passages, the film suggests, Islamic terrorism would not exist. Mr. Wilders shows verses from the Quran alongside hate speeches by imams and graphic images of Islamic terrorism -- from 9/11 to the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the London attack a year later....
Translator's note: 'Quran' means Koran just as 'Myanmar' means Burma and 'Beijing' means Peking. We'll get this straight eventually.

The Revolution Continues

Suzanne Fields says John McCain's age may be an advantage.
In his new book, "The Sixties Unplugged: A Kaleidoscopic History of a Disorderly Decade," Gerard DeGroot recalls that not all young people were marching against the Vietnam War when John McCain was hanging on a wall at the Hanoi Hilton. Many of them were beginning to re-examine the assumptions of the youth culture. "The most successful political revolution of the 1960s was not conducted by students, nor was it left wing," he writes. "It was instead a populist revolution from the right, which had Ronald Reagan as its standard bearer."

John McCain does not pretend to be Ronald Reagan, but he describes himself as a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution. If he can link his long memory to a good memory, those boomers might take up another cry from that era now fading into history: "The times they are a-changin'."

Sunday, March 30, 2008

David Brinkley on Bill Clinton

Election night 1996.

To be fair, Mr. Brinkley thought that the microphone was off, and that the program had gone to a commercial break. He was tired, maybe a little disgusted, and he spoke from the heart.
I wish to say that we all look forward with great pleasure to four more years of wonderful, inspiring speeches, full of wit and poetry, music and love and affection. And more goddamn nonsense. Of all the things I admire almost, near the top is creativeness... Bill Clinton has none of it, not a creative bone in his body. Therefore he is a bore, and will always be a bore.
I was there (in front of the TV, that is) and I saw it. All across America people heard his words. And we cheered.

Nuclear Threats

The threat of nuclear war did not go away with the cold war. It is, in some ways, more likely now than ever.

Gordon G. Chang of Commentary magazine has been keeping an eye on the Korean situation and links to this dispatch.
The South Korean military is prepared to launch a pre-emptive attack on North Korea's nuclear installations if they become a military threat, Gen. Kim Tae-young, the newly designated chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a hearing yesterday.

It was the first time the military has confirmed contingency plans for a pre-emptive attack on Pyongyang's nuclear facilities and comes as Seoul's new conservative government is being closely watched for signs of how it will approach North Korea.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing in the National Assembly, Kim said the military has kept its options and contingencies ready in case of a military attack from the North.

"We would identify possible locations of nuclear weapons and make a precise attack in advance," Kim said when asked what he would do if North Korea were to develop the capability and intent to attack the South with nuclear weapons.
It has long been my opinion, although I'm not sure if I have expressed it in print, that the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used within my lifetime is better than 50%. I don't think, however, that it will quite the doomsday scenario that we have been led to believe. No doubt some will be disappointed.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Zealand Cervena

The West Coast office of my company treated all four of us—and our wives—to dinner last night at the Black Sheep Pub & Restaurant in Ashland. One of the specials was venison. Although you can get venison from a number of commercial suppliers in the U.S. and Canada, this almost certainly was from New Zealand.
New Zealand Venison is a Red Deer that is raised as a free-range animal. New Zealand Venison is often called Cervena and is marketed throughout the world. It is a major export product for New Zealand and is tightly controlled to insure healthy and humane treatment of the animals, sanitary processing and consistent quality of those important attributes of size, tenderness and flavor.
And it was delicious.

Maurice McTigue, a former Member of New Zealand's Parliament, explains.
New Zealand was settled by Europeans about 170 years ago, with the majority of the settlers coming from Britain. Those settlers wanted to replicate much of the life style that had prevailed when they left Britain. Because New Zealand had no large native animals the early settlers brought in deer so that they could enjoy hunting. Naturally, the deer escaped into the native forests where they multiplied and became a major threat to the flora and fauna of the native forests.

In the late 1800's, the government recognized this threat and established a policy of total eradication of deer. For nearly 100 years, the government spent millions of dollars on the problem and never achieved the goal of eradication. In fact, the populations continued to expand and the damage to native forests continued to threaten at-risk species of plants. The total eradication policy also made the raising of deer or the sale of deer meat illegal. It was presumed commercial activity would only encourage the further expansion of the deer herds.

In the late 1970's, recognizing that the results of the total eradication policy were a failure, government took a new approach. The ban on farming was lifted, the capture of wild deer for farming purposes was permitted and the prohibition on the sale of deer products was repealed. Farmers went out and caught those deer. Not some of them—nearly all of them, and put them behind 8 foot high fences. Why would they do that? Because the value of a Wapiti hind went from zero to as much as $7000 dollars in about six months and on a good day you might capture 15 to 20 deer. Today deer farming is a viable alternative land use for New Zealand farmers.

Since that policy change nearly 30 years ago, the New Zealand government has not spent a dollar on deer eradication. New Zealand is now the world's largest exporter of venison, the native forests are no longer being critically damaged and hunting licenses for the remaining wild deer are sold at up to $20,000 dollars. All the results are going in the right direction. All that was necessary to bring about this change was a focus on what policy approach would solve the problem.
And he couldn't help but tease:
By comparison it seems that the American control mechanism is to run over the surplus deer with motor vehicles—with somewhat less than desirable results.
The whole speech was quite interesting. You can read the transcript or watch the video here, or download the MP3s here.

More information on New Zealand Cervena at

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fitna —The Movie

You can view it here or here.

I think you should.

Generation Gap

Michael Barone says John McCain missed the 1960s, and Barack Obama missed the 1980s.
That's obvious in McCain's case. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam between 1967 and 1973 — the years of the march on the Pentagon, urban riots, campus rebellions and Woodstock.

He made the point himself last October when he attacked Hillary Clinton's proposal to earmark $1 million for a Woodstock museum. "I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time."

And it's part of a larger point....
Read the whole thing, as they say.

White Folk's Greed

I'm not saying he shouldn't. A successful minister of a large urban congregation should live in a $1.6 million dollar house. No problem there.

But maybe he shouldn't get up in the pulpit on Sunday and say things like, "white folks' greed runs a world in need."

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Comic genius Iowahawk unearths another 1980s TV classic: Hillary's Hellcats.

A Winning Issue

IBD Editorials:
The presumptive GOP presidential candidate was unmistakably referring to Democratic front-runner Barack Obama when he came to the biggest crescendo in his major foreign policy speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on Wednesday. Speaking of the dangers of Islamist nuclear terrorism, McCain declared:
"Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has — to protect the lives of the American people."
Sen. Obama would grant a presidential audience to this country's most venomous enemies. McCain obviously intends to make that the great line of demarcation between them should Obama get the nomination.

But he drew other contrasts — actually putting himself on track, for example, to using Iraq as a winning issue for Republicans this year — something few would have found conceivable a year ago.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Second Blogiversary

A year ago I celebrated my First Blogiversary. This is my second. I reviewed the first year chronologically but this time I'm going topically.

Into the Wild
I photographed the Easter Wildflowers on Nugget Butte, as well as the Radio Beacon Tower, the Rogue River Valley, and Gold Hill At Sunrise. All these hikes I took alone, except for the little Grey Fox, whom I saw three times last year. (The last time was the strangest; ask me about it some time.)

Then the family joined me for a Father's Day Hike. Lizzy and I spent Sunday Morning on Pilot Rock and climbed Union Peak. A week later I enjoyed Guinness At The Summit of Mt. McLoughlin with Greg and the rest of the over-the-hill gang.

In August I spotted a Wood Gnome; in September I did a very strange thing and enjoyed an early morning View From Pilot Rock; and in December: Oh! Christmas Tree, an annual tradition.
Blue Yonder
In May I started Flying Again, spent some time In The Pattern At S03, remembered that my EB-6 was Faster Than The Darned Shipboard Computer, and learned A Mountain Flying Lesson. To the passengers I said And To Your Left... (oh, never mind) and there's Cape Blanco.

Meanwhile I kept noting various airplane crashes. We got to Hear The Snow Crunch at Beaver Marsh, watch a 1941 Taylorcraft sink in the Willamette, and mourn a Vintage Cessna 140 Destroyed in Wisconsin. I believe it's important for a pilot to keep these things in mind.
Happy Holidays
One of the pleasures of blogging is taking note of special days. My priorities may be little different than most: I noted the third anniversary of Ronald Reagan's death and the twentieth anniversary of Mr. Gorbachev, Open This Gate! That line almost didn't make it, you know. But Reagan said so I get to decide if that line stays in? Well Then, It Stays In. And the wall came tumbling down.

I posted four times for the Fourth: Presenting the Draft (Trumbull), For Purple Mountain Majesties (Bates), This American Identity (Steinbeck), and Harris Beach, July 4, 2007 (Leslie, me, and the kids).

I noted, as I always do, 6 August 1945, and for the same reason I always note 7 December 1941: Our Bullets Will Do It.

October 17, 1987 was The Sweetest Day, and last year the twentieth anniversary thereof.

We also carved Jack O'Lanterns for Guy Fawkes Night, pogled up Millions For Defense, and thereby provided for one more Thanksgiving. Anton Raphael Mengs was our Christmas artist.
The Library Issue
The big issue last year was our over-priced libraries. Long story short, we wound up with the same libraries at half the price. Read these if you want the details.
  1. Force Feeding Tax Increases
  2. Tale Of Two Counties
  3. Three Articles On Libraries
  4. Library Cost Comparison
  5. We Will Vote No On 15-75
  6. Anarchy To Reign
  7. Same Service 40% Less
  8. They're Getting Closer
  9. Libraries To Re-Open
  10. Don't Want No Stinkin' Volunteers
Self-Referential Snark
James Taranto asked what the heck is are Web Loggers, anyway? Dave Burge posed an Apt Simile. More Like Cleaning A Litter Box, I observed.
Odds and Ends
Along the way I fished out some really choice nuggets.

There was Sidewalk Art and the Mr. Lee CatCam, Deep Fried Neon and Smoking Puppies. There was the case of Patrol Dog Chokes On Patrol Car and the lady who made Forty Thou A Year selling tumbleweeds. There were patients in their gowns with their IV poles standing on the sidewalk smoking (I'd Like To See That), and Byron the bulb.

And finally there were two heartwarming stories, and I mean that sincerely. If you do nothing else, check out The Daily Coyote and the story of One Last Tip.
Has it all been worth it? Some days, I don't know. As I pointed out recently, it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it. Other days it just seems so natural. As Ruby the Card once said, "I link, therefore I blog." That about sums it up, I guess.

I will point out that I was joined this year by both the in-laws and the out-laws. We'll check with them next summer and ask them the same thing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

More Like Cleaning A Litter Box

I used to think that blogging was like panning for gold. You know, sifting through the daily news, looking for little nuggets to share with my readers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Obama Crash and Burn

Victor Davis Hanson:
Over the past four days, I asked seven or eight random (Asian, Mexican-American, and working-class white) Americans in southern California what they thought of Obama's candidacy — and framed the question with, "Don't you think that was a good speech?" The answers, without exception, were essentially: "Forget the speech. I would never vote for Obama after listening to Wright." In some cases, the reaction was not mild disappointment, but unprintable outrage.

The blame, such as it is, for all this goes to the Obama campaign "pros," who, in their apparent arrogance over Obamania (a phenomenon due to the candidate's charisma, not their own savvy), simply went to sleep and let the senator and his wife resort to their natural self-indulgence — itself the offspring of the Obamas' privilege and insularity. Any amateur handler could have scanned that speech and taken out just 8-10 phrases, called for a tougher stance on Wright, a genuine apology, and put the issue behind them.

Now it's too late. Like Hillary's tear, one only gets a single chance at mea culpa and staged vulnerability — and he blew it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Taubes's Epilogue

I said yesterday that I'd just finished Taubes's "500-page book." Actually, the last numbered page in the book is 601, but that includes 44 pages of end notes, a 66-page bibliography, and a 34-page index. He did his homework on this one:
Just ten years ago, the research for this book would have taken the better part of a lifetime. It was only with the development of the Internet, of search engines and the comprehensive databases of the Library of Medicine, the Institute of Scientific Information, research libraries, and secondhand-book stores worldwide now accessible online that I was able, with reasonable facility, to locate and procure virtually any written source, whether published a century ago or last week, and to track down and contact clinical investigators and public-health officials, even those long retired.

Oh Yeah? Take That!

Osama bin Laden threatens the Pope, so what does Bennie do?
Pope Benedict XVI has baptised one of Italy's most prominent and outspoken Muslim commentators at today's Easter Vigil service.

Magdi Allam has become a Catholic during the traditional night-time service that takes place between Good Friday and Easter Sunday at St Peter's Basilica.

Mr Allam, a columnist for a leading Italian newspaper, is one of Italy's leading commentators on Muslim and Arab affairs, the Associated Press reported.

The Vatican said anyone who wishes to convert to Catholicism of their own free will has the right to be baptised.
I like his style.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Big Fat Lies

I just finished watching Big Fat Lies with Gary Taubes, a lecture he delivered at the Stevens Institute of Technology in February. Here's the blurb:
Gary Taubes, an award-winning writer for Science, the New York Times Magazine and other publications, came to Stevens to discuss his controversial new bestseller, Good Calories, Bad Calories which argues that much of what we have been told about the relationship between body weight, diet and exercise is wrong.
This is the first time I have, within minutes of finishing a 500-page book, watched a one-hour video of the author explaining what the book was all about. The combination of the two—book and lecture—was much more powerful than either might have been without the other.

Good Calories, Bad Calories is available at Amazon or at your local library. The Stevens Institute lecture is at Google videos.

I recommend both highly.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Latest in Office Technology

Steno pads, typewriters, carbon copies, filing cabinets—whatever happened to the good old days when we took the time to write our own correspondence, in longhand, and we used both sides of the paper? We didn't sit around waiting for the phone to ring, either. If someone had a message for you they sent over a boy to deliver it. And if it was important enough they would pay you a visit and discuss the matter personally.

Aw, I'm just complaining. That's progress I guess.

Just when I was beginning to get the hang of email and conference calls and web surfing they had to come out with "chat" and and IM and VoIP. I don't get it, I don't like it, and I don't want to learn it. But I have to.

Kids now days don't even know longhand—can't write it, and can't read it either.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

O-bama To Visit O-regon

Guess our 65 delegates might count for something this year.
Obama campaign officials confirmed he would be in Oregon Friday and Saturday and suggested he could make stops in Salem, Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. A Portland appearance Friday morning is definite, according to Nick Shapiro, a spokesman for the Obama campaign in Oregon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Two on Heller

Two on Obama

Thomas Sowell and Shelby Steele.

Update: Obama's speech.

And James Taranto's analysis.

Monday, March 17, 2008

It's the last part that gets me.

Speaking as an utter amateur, I'm worried less about a recession than inflation. I'm worried most about a recession, inflation AND a jolly round of trade wars, coupled with fragile banks, overcapacity, diminished consumer confidence and aggressive messianic collectivism. Something about that smells familiar. I love studying the thirties and forties, but not first hand.

Good Time To Borrow

The Journal:
Pushed to the brink of collapse by the mortgage crisis, Bear Stearns Cos. agreed — after prodding by the federal government — to be sold to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for the fire-sale price of $2 a share in stock, or about $236 million.

Bear Stearns had a stock-market value of about $3.5 billion as of Friday — and was worth $20 billion in January 2007. But the crisis of confidence that swept the firm and fueled a customer exodus in recent days left Bear Stearns with a horrible choice: sell the firm — at any price — to a big bank willing to assume its trading obligations or file for bankruptcy.
Ben S. Bernanke's interest-rate cuts have touched off a vicious circle of doom for the dollar.

The Federal Reserve reduced the rate on direct loans to commercial banks by a quarter-point to 3.25 percent before Asian financial markets opened today. It will likely lower its target rate for overnight loans between banks tomorrow to at least 2 percent from 3 percent, according to futures traded on the Chicago Board of Trade....

If that weren't enough to make bears out of bulls, the weakest dollar since at least 1971 based on a Fed trade-weighted index is helping push oil, grains and metals, which are priced in the U.S. currency, to record highs. That in turn is causing economists to lower growth forecasts for the U.S. and preventing central banks concerned that inflation is accelerating from cutting interest rates, further undermining the dollar.
There's a silver lining, if you can take advantage of it. Borrow while rates are low and you can pay it back with cheap inflated dollars.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

John, Carly, and Meg

The Wall Street Journal profiles the latest additions to John McCain's campaign, successful business women Carly Fiorina,most recently of Hewlett-Packard, and Meg Whitman, of eBay.

You have to wonder whether McCain hired these two primarily for their political skills or partly also because their very real accomplishments contrast so starkly with Hillary's imaginary ones?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mmm... Steak

Gary Taubes:
Consider a porterhouse steak with a quarter-inch layer of fat. After broiling, this steak will reduce to almost equal parts fat and protein. Fifty-one percent of the fat is monounsaturated, of which 90 percent is oleic acid. Saturated fat constitutes 45 percent of the total fat, but a third of that is stearic acid, which will increase HDL cholesterol while having no effect on LDL.... The remaining 4 percent of the fat is polyunsaturated, which lowers LDL cholesterol but has no meaningful effect on HDL. In sum, perhaps as much as 70 percent of the fat content of a porterhouse steak will improve the relative levels of LDL and HDL cholesterol, compared with what they would be if carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, or pasta were consumed. The remaining 30 percent will raise LDL cholesterol but will also raise HDL cholesterol and will have an insignificant effect, if any, on the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL. All of this suggests that eating a porterhouse steak in lieu of bread or potatoes would actually reduce heart-disease risk, although virtually no nutritional authority will say so publicly. The same is true for lard and bacon.
More on this amazing book in a few days, when I finish reading it.

Obama's Pastor Disaster

The Sunday Steyn comes on Saturdays now.
Ah, well, no, the senator told ABC News. The Rev. Wright is like "an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with." So did he agree with goofy old Uncle Jeremiah on Sept. 16, 2001? That Sunday morning, Uncle told his congregation that the United States brought the death and destruction of 9/11 on itself. "We nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," said the Rev. Wright. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards."

Is that one of those "things I don't always agree with"? Well, Sen. Obama isn't saying, responding merely that he wasn't in church that morning. OK, fair enough, but what would he have done had he happened to have shown up on Sept. 16? Cried "Shame on you!" and stormed out? Or, if that's a little dramatic, whispered to Michelle that he didn't want their daughters hearing this kind of drivel while rescue workers were still sifting through the rubble and risen from his pew in a dignified manner and led his family to the exit? Or would he have just sat there with an inscrutable look on his face as those around him nodded?
No rush. You've got all weekend to read it.

I thought my finances were bad.

Mark Sanford in The Wall Street Journal:
Since 2000, the federal budget has increased 72%, to $3.1 trillion from $1.8 trillion. The national debt is now $9 trillion — more than the combined GDP of China, Japan and Canada. Add in Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security commitments, and as a nation we are staring at more than a $50 trillion hole — an invisible mortgage of $450,000 for every American family.

Hope alone won't carry us through the valley of the shadow of debt....
Looks like they're going to get worse.

Friday, March 14, 2008

For McCain's VP...

James P. Lucier has a suggestion for the number two slot.
There's Governor Whatshisname from one of those Ice Belt states that always seem to be ready to fall over the border into Canada. Then there's that other governor in Florida who, seizing the opportunity, endorsed McCain four days before the primary. Some are getting excited about Condoleezza Rice, who puts forward a pretty face even as she has done nothing but act as a front for the Foreign Service Corps establishment ever since she got the job.

No, this is the time for change, real change. This is a time for someone whom everybody knows to be the rising star of the GOP, the new governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal.
I'll second that.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What We Can Afford

Six bedrooms, five baths, ocean view.

Credit: Because I say so.

Update: Snopes has the skinny.

No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal

Neo-neocon has the best commentary on David Mamet's Village Voice piece.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Amazing Spitzer-Man

Kristen: Where you going, lover? You still have 55 minutes left on your hour.

Peter: Sorry babe, I've got some Wall Street fat cats to bust. All in a day's work for you friendly neighborhood SPITZERMAN!


Call this objection ironic if you will, in light of a certain percentage of home-schoolers' views on the topic of anthropology, but at what point in the evolutionary history of the human race did it become "normal" to warehouse juvenile members of the species away all day with naught but the company of other juveniles of their exact same age? With no younger members to care for and no elders to emulate (save one harried and vastly outnumbered teacher per hour), is it any wonder that most every government kinderwarehouse has descended into an unfunny parody of a William Golding novel?

Kick Him Once For Me

All the TV talking heads are telling me, with their sternest let-him-who-is-without-sin faces on, that it would be wrong, wrong to poke fun at Spitzer, to kick him when he's down, to press for his resignation. We should reserve judgment, they tell me. We should think about his family, they tell me. It's a victimless crime, after all, they tell me.

Well, I and my family have been living for 15 months in the state this guy presides over. We've been paying the taxes and premiums, seething in the traffic jams, watching the U-Hauls heading west, dealing with surly, feather-bedded state employees. What I say to the talking heads is: The hell with all that. And what I say to Eliot Spitzer is what Oliver Cromwell said to the Rump Parliament: "Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"

1937 All Over Again

Investor's Business Daily notes how eerily similar the market of today is to that of 1937.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Back to the Race

Jonathan Martin in Politico:
Listening to Obama and Clinton discuss their national security credentials, Romney said, is akin to "listening to two chihuahuas argue about which is the biggest dog."


The Wall Street Journal, page one:
Wall Street Cheers As Its Nemesis Plunges Into Crisis
The Dow, incidentally, was up 400.

Philip Klein:
Spitzer himself does not deserve an ounce of sympathy for the public humiliation he is set to endure, because he built his career on the public humiliation of others.
Jackie Mason & Raoul Felder:
First, the good stuff.
  1. Hillary Clinton lost one super delegate.
  2. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New York was able to keep a lid of privacy on the whole subject until ready to make a public announcement. This is very rare in public life today.
  3. The public now knows you can get hookers on credit cards.
Mason and Felder devoted two chapters of their book Schmucks!: Our Favorite Fakes, Frauds, Lowlifes, and Liars to this lowlife.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Best Snark Yet On The Spitzer Affair

From American Digest:

Reached for comment, Martha Stewart would say only:
Via Instapundit.

You Can Sleep Secure Tonight

The State of New York has a new Governor.

Or... maybe not.

Spitzer's not resigning. Well, why should he?

Clinton didn't resign. Craig didn't resign. Frank didn't resign.

So what if he's embarrassed himself, his wife, his three teenage children, and most of the State of New York? You don't resign over mere embarrassment these days.

Not unless you have a sense of shame.

What a quaint idea: Shame.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Pletnev's Nine

Greg Sandow in The Journal:
In the Fifth Symphony, there's something just about unprecedented, at least for any listener in Beethoven's time. The third movement, dark, uneasy (and full of goblins, as E.M. Forster memorably wrote), can't bring itself to end. It collapses into tense and almost formless expectation, out of which the last movement explodes like a long-awaited burst of light. Nobody had connected movements of a symphony before, and certainly never with such drama. Audiences in the 19th century understood how new this was and would lose control, erupting with spontaneous applause.

How can we recapture that excitement? Somehow, the Russian pianist and conductor Mikhail Pletnev seems to have an answer, though the media response, even in the classical-music press, has been muted. Maybe Mr. Pletnev is just too radical. But on a recording of all the Beethoven symphonies, released on Deutsche Grammophon, he gets the Russian National Orchestra to play — or so I'd swear — as if it never heard this music before.

Today's Health Insurance Ain't Insurance

Charlie Martin explains it in simple terms.
Ever think about insurance? It's not really a difficult idea, although the mathematics that goes with it — called "actuarial science" — can be hard going. But the basic idea is simple: you are making a bet with a bookie that some unfortunate thing will happen to you in some fixed length of time.

Usually, the one hard thing about explaining insurance is that you're doing exactly what Pete Rose said he never did: you're betting against your own team. If the unfortunate thing happens, at least you win your bet, and you get some money — or at least your heirs do....
Read it all. He's absolutely brilliant.

Albert Einstein once said that if you can't explain something to a six-year-old, you really don't understand it yourself. Martin has met Einstein's test. I even understood it.

We The Ones

This video appears to indicate that Obama has the moron vote all sewn up.

First the Funny Papers

Prickly City:
And Dilbert:
Funny because it's so true. You don't even need to read the setup to know it's true.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

New Tower At Medford International

The Mail Tribune has an article on the new terminal at MFR.
Visible from Highway 62, the two-story terminal is being built by Adroit Construction of Ashland and is being paid for through federal grants and 30-year revenue bonds. The bonds will be paid back through a passenger charge of $4.50 per ticket.

Much of the steel structure has already been put together, giving some idea of what the final building will look like....

Construction of a new air traffic control tower should also begin sometime this year.
The new terminal will go where the old long-term parking lot was. Judging from the maps the new tower will be somewhere between the old rental car lot and Jet Center South. The architect's rendering, above, doesn't give much of a clue.

Drivin' Mizz Hill'ry

Don't miss Mark Steyn whatever you do.

He's in a target-rich environment and slappin' everyone silly.


Thanks to Peggy Noonan for noting this exchange between Hugh Hewitt and Christopher Hitchens on Wednesday:
Hewitt: Who's going to be the next president of the United States?

Hitchens: Hillary Clinton.

Hewitt: Oh... because of yesterday?

Hitchens: No, no, I've feared it for a long time, and there's something horrible and undefeatable about people who have no life except the worship of power.... people who don't want the meeting to end, the people who just are unstoppable, who only have one focus, no humanity, no character, nothing but the worship of money and power. They win in the end.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Powering the Internet

The Economist:
As one industry falls, another rises. The banks of the Columbia River in Oregon used to be lined with aluminium smelters. Now they are starting to house what might, for want of a better phrase, be called data smelters. The largest has been installed by Google in a city called The Dalles. Microsoft and Yahoo! are not far behind. Google's plant consumes as much power as a town of 200,000 people. And that is why it is there in the first place. The cheap hydroelectricity provided by the Columbia River, which once split apart aluminium oxide in order to supply the world with soft-drinks cans and milk-bottle tops, is now being used to shuffle and store masses of information. Computing is an energy-intensive industry. And the world's biggest internet companies are huge energy consumers—so big that they are contemplating some serious re-engineering in order to curb their demand.

Government Tools

John Tierney's onto something.
What made these smears especially unfair, Mr. Taubes writes, is that the money from food companies was trivial compared with the money being doled out by government agencies. One of the researchers who'd supposedly been bought off noted that he'd received $250,000 from the food industry in his career versus $10 million from government agencies — and wondered why this didn't make him a "tool of government."
It did, technically. But not all tools work as intended.

Notre Dame Vs. The Klan

Kathleen Parker has an interesting story about the hazards of showing off your intellectual ability by reading during your break.
The current controversy began last fall when Keith John Sampson, a student and university employee in his 50s, was reading Tucker's book during a break from his janitorial duties.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong book.

On the basis of the cover alone, a co-worker sitting across from Sampson complained that the book was offensive....

A few weeks later, Sampson heard from the school's affirmative action office that a racial harassment complaint had been filed against him. In a November 2007 letter, affirmative action officer Lillian Charleston told Sampson that he demonstrated "disdain and insensitivity" to his co-workers.

"You used extremely poor judgment by insisting on openly reading the book related to a historically and racially abhorrent subject in the presence of your black co-workers."
Available on Amazon.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Not That Simple

Victor Davis Hanson:
I admire Obama for taking on and nearly dismantling this machine. But he is in a vampirish war where the stake must be driven and left in the heart.
Maybe he didn't get the memo from Stephen Green:
I'm telling you, you've got to run a stake through the heart, separate the head from the body, burn the remains and scatter the ashes in heavy winds if you want to put a Clinton down for good.
I'm not sure even that would work.

Portrait In Audacity

Neo-neocon, one of the best of the amateur bloggers, has an extensive post on Michelle Obama.
It's standard practice, of course, to criticize the previous administration, especially when it's of the opposite Party. But Ms. Obama goes much further; she is criticizing the last twenty-five or so years—her entire "adult life." She sees those years as an unremitting downward slide for Americans, and Obama as the only hope. It's not just that this isn't good politics—it isn't good history, either.

Obama's Great Non Sequitur

Dr. Krauthammer has an interesting point.
This, after all, is his major appeal. What makes him different from the other candidates, from the "old politics" he disdains, is the promise to rise above party, to take us beyond ideology and other archaic divisions, and bring us together as "one nation."

It has worked. When Americans are asked who can unite us, 67% say Obama vs. 34% for Clinton, with McCain at 51%.

How did Obama pull that off? By riding one of the great non sequiturs of modern American politics. It goes like this: Because Obama transcends race, it is therefore assumed that he will transcend everything else — divisions of region, class, party, generation and ideology.

The premise here is true — Obama does transcend race; he has not run as a candidate of minority grievance; his vision of America is unmistakably post-racial — but the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

Hillary's Math Problem

We were just saying something about women in general and math in particular. Jonathan Alter says this woman has real problems with it.
Hillary Clinton won big victories Tuesday night in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island. But she's now even further behind in the race for the Democratic nomination. How could that be? Math. It's relentless.

To beat Barack Obama among pledged delegates, Clinton now needs even bigger margins in the 12 remaining primaries than she needed when I ran the numbers on Monday—an average of 23 points, which is more than double what she received in Ohio.
Has she got the mo? I don't think so.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Ooh, Michelle

Malkin, that is.
Behold with me the politics of gynocentrism. What a depressing and desiccative sight it is. Just look at Gloria Steinem.

From once-ripe feminist icon to idea-barren harridan, she offers nothing to young women but anachronistic man-hate, anti-military bigotry and woe-is-me wallowing.

Hope and change? Try harp and whinge. Some things get better with age. The women's rights movement isn't one of them.
She's sharp. Read her and wince.

Women and Math

Christina Hoff Sommers in The American:
Math 55 does not look like America. Each year as many as 50 students sign up, but at least half drop out within a few weeks. As one former student told The Crimson newspaper in 2006, "We had 51 students the first day, 31 students the second day, 24 for the next four days, 23 for two more weeks, and then 21 for the rest of the first semester." Said another student, "I guess you can say it's an episode of 'Survivor' with people voting themselves off." The final class roster, according to The Crimson: "45 percent Jewish, 18 percent Asian, 100 percent male."
And 100% young, too, I would guess. Math is a young man's game.

Ageist pigs.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Update: Damn. She won.

Opinion Journal:
Now Hillary Clinton knows how Republicans feel. Usually, GOP candidates have to overcome media disdain and establishment calls to declare defeat and get out of the race. This time she's the target of the collective liberal swoon for Barack Obama. But after her victory yesterday in Ohio and a nailbiter in Texas, we see little reason that the New York Senator shouldn't fight on.

Astute Political Analysis

Jeff Greenfield says it's Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck.

And Bugs always wins.

Via Jules Crittenden, Vodkapundit, and Pajamas Media.

Drudge Has the Sludge

California cows start passing gas to the grid

Riverdale, California (Reuters) — Imagine a vat of liquid cow manure covering the area of five football fields and 33 feet deep. Meet California's most alternative new energy....
But California's been running on bullsh*t for years.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Long Hot August

Mark Hyman says brace yourself for a brokered convention.
A Democratic candidate needs to reach a minimum of 2,025 delegates to clinch the nomination outright. Clinton will not reach that figure before the last primary election is held in Puerto Rico on June 7. Neither will Obama.
This additionally implies that, amazingly enough, Oregon's primary election to be held on May 20 may actually count for something.

Like Going to the Dentist

Adam Kirsch has read those books so you don't have to.
To put it bluntly, Mrs. Clinton's books are patently manufactured, while Mr. Obama's feel genuinely written; as a result, hers are painful to read, while his are mostly a pleasure.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Strictly For Buckley Fans

Eugene Rant has located a clip from 1968 wherein William F. Buckley Jr. deals with un-sportsmanlike conduct on the part of Gore Vidal.
Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I'll sock you in the goddamned face, and you'll stay plastered!
It's worth watching three or four times, as I just did.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I've been unemployed for three out of the last six months. It's not so bad, really. The important thing is to learn to pace yourself.

Actually, I'm starting a new job Monday. I'm not going to talk this one up. If it works, I'll tell you about it. If it doesn't, we'll just pretend it never happened.