Saturday, May 31, 2008

There Will Be A Quiz

Cowboy Blob and I took this quiz.
You answered 58 out of 60 correctly — 96.67 %
Not bad, I guess. (They seemed like awfully easy questions.)

He did pretty good, too.

Man Without A Party

Via Instapundit and Samizdata, the quote of the day.
What it [the UK Libertarian Party] will do, like the Libertarian Party has done in the United States, is to tarnish the libertarian brand, allowing the crazier aspects of libertarian thinking to come to the fore, and achieving nothing of any merit.
— Alex Singleton, How Libertarians undermine liberty, which is worth reading in its entirety. (Oh, come on! It's all of six paragraphs.)

I recently, for tactical reasons, changed my voter registration from Libertarian to Democrat. Now that the primary election is over I should change my registration again. The problem is I have nowhere to go.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Evening Rainbow

After the thunderstorm.

Carbon Chastity

In the Washington Post, Dr. Krauthammer.
The doomsday scenarios posit a cascade of events, each with a certain probability. The multiple improbability of their simultaneous occurrence renders all such predictions entirely speculative.

Yet on the basis of this speculation, environmental activists, attended by compliant scientists and opportunistic politicians, are advocating radical economic and social regulation. "The largest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity," warns Czech President Vaclav Klaus, "is no longer socialism. It is, instead, the ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous ideology of environmentalism."

If you doubt the arrogance, you haven't seen that Newsweek cover story...
Read it all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Raising Decency

Haruki Murakami:
I get the feeling that what I want to write are stories that raise the level of decency. No matter how dark, how forlorn circumstances may be, some sort of decency offers a glimmer of light and suggests that there is something about that can save you."
From a five-part interview in the Mainichi Daily News which concluded today.

Monday: Translating America's Literary Giants
Tuesday: American Contemporary Classics
Wednesday: Next Epic His Biggest Ever
Thursday: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Friday: Globalism and Regionalism

Bad Karma Cure-All

James Taranto went on a bit about placebos today and how difficult it is to buy them over the counter. Not really. Amazon and Target both sell them, and at a very reasonable price, considering their legendary efficacy and low incidence of side effects. I've ordered a bottle for myself.

Impairing the Obligation of Contracts

Two more articles in The Wall Street Journal this morning on why health insurance costs too much — and what two states are doing about it. Florida will allow certain classes to be exempt from certain regulations.
It nudges the government out of the health-care marketplace. Insurance companies will be permitted to sell stripped-down, no-frills policies exempted from the more than 50 mandates that Florida otherwise imposes, including for acupuncture and chiropractics. The new plans will be designed to cost as little as $150 a month, or less.
And in New Jersey
Jay Webber, a Republican Assemblyman in Trenton, will introduce legislation to let Garden State residents buy low-cost health insurance from any registered policy in any of the 50 states.
In both cases they layer new laws over bad laws, adding to rather than repealing their mistakes. This was all covered in Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution, if only we had stuck with it.
No State shall... pass any... Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts...
More on that later.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Welcome to Nixonland

Thomas Frank says it's still Franklins versus Orthogonians — the same cliques you knew in high school.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

That's Fifinella, the cartoon mascot of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft. She's a Gremlin from the Walt Disney movie based on the book The Gremlins by Roald Dahl. No, your memory's not failing you—the movie was never made.

Here's more on the WASP from the book WWII American War Eagles by Warren M. Bodie:
Although not officially sworn into the military and naval services, WASPs flew virtually every type of airplane from observation and liaison types to twin-engine fighters, multi-engine bombers and transports. No fewer than 1,074 females served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots organization, essentially in a status about equal to men in the Merchant Marine.
WASPs Barbara Erickson-London (at left) and Evelyn Sharp (dressed in a casual WAF uniform with civilian blouse) chit-chatted with a USAAF pilot at North American Aviation's Inglewood, Calif., plant in 1942.
Evelyn Sharp was killed in 1944 while taking off in a P-38.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Having A Wonderful Time

Phoenix has landed safely and is sending back pictures.
The images from NASA's Mars Phoenix Lander also provided a glimpse of the flat valley floor expected to have water-rich permafrost within reach of the lander's robotic arm. The landing ends a 422-million-mile journey from Earth and begins a three-month mission that will use instruments to taste and sniff the northern polar site's soil and ice.
If I'm not mistaken that's lichen growing on those rocks. (I'm probably mistaken.)

Indiana Jones Annoys Communists

CNN:
Communist Party members in St. Petersburg said on a web site this week that the Soviet Union in 1957 "did not send terrorists to the States," but launched a satellite, "which evoked the admiration of the whole world."

Moscow Communist lawmaker Andrei Andreyev said Saturday "it is very disturbing if talented directors want to provoke a new Cold War."
I hate commies, Jock. I hate 'em.

Phoenix Landing Today

NASA, 9:30 a.m. EDT:
NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander will reach Mars this evening with no further adjustments to its flight path. The first possible time for confirmation that Phoenix has landed will be at 7:53 p.m. Eastern Time today.
Astronomy Picture of the Day has a very nice animation of the landing sequence. Watch it now and tune in this afternoon for the nail-biting conclusion.

Useless Jihadis

Ron Liddle:
You would think that by now Allah's message might be getting through. Time after time Muslim fanatics attempt to wreak devastation in Britain — and succeed only in blowing themselves up, or setting themselves on fire, or their explosives refuse to do the decent thing and explode — while we infidel cockroaches look on in bemusement, quite unharmed.

If you were a devout believer, you might put two and two together and begin to suspect that Allah doesn't entirely approve of blowing British people to bits. He would much rather his jihadis stayed at home and watched the Eurovision Song Contest, or did a spot of gardening, or took the dog for a walk.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Parasite Infestation

John Derbyshire:
Back when I was an office worker-bee, building computer systems for grateful (well...) users, to help them do useful work more efficiently, I used to grumble about how lawyers and accountants were sucking all the oxygen out of American enterprise. Well, we have moved beyond that comparatively mild stage of parasite infestation. The people calling the shots now, and widely considered to be just the ticket for managing our national affairs, are Community Organizers and Diversity Consultants, people who do not merely retard and constrain productive work, but actually despise it. Hey you lawyers, you accountants — come back, please, all is forgiven!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Your Economic Plan

The Numbers Don't Add Up

Via Instapundit a link to U.S.News's China Quake Disaster: The Numbers. According to U.S.News, in an area with a human population of 20 million, 51 thousand died and 29 thousand are missing. In addition 12.5 million animals were killed.

For what? Food?

I'm sorry but that number doesn't make sense. An earthquake that crushed 80 thousand humans also crushed 12.5 million animals?

Was there a gerbil factory in the area?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Focus On The Best

Bjorn Lomborg:
Next week, some of the world's top economists, including five Nobel laureates, will consider new research outlining the costs and benefits of nearly 50 solutions to world problems — from building dams in Africa to providing micronutrient supplements to combating climate change. On May 30, the Copenhagen Consensus panel will produce a prioritized list showing the best and worst investments the world could make to tackle major challenges.

The research and the list will encourage greater transparency and a more informed debate.

Acknowledging that some investments shouldn't be our top priority isn't the same as saying that the challenges don't exist. It simply means working out how to do the most good with our limited resources. It will send a signal, too, to research communities about areas that need more study.

The global food crisis has sadly underlined the danger of continuing on our current path of fixating on poor solutions to high-profile problems instead of focusing on the best investments we could make to help the planet.

The Concession Speech

If you enjoyed Maureen Dowd's Last Debate, you'll probably enjoy Daniel Henninger's Concession Speech.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Alaska Sues Over Polar Bear Listing

Anchorage, Alaska
The state of Alaska will sue to challenge the recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species, Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday.
Governor Palin feels that the bears are already protected enough. It's people that need protecting now.

(That little cutie at right is Trig Paxson Van Palin, the Governor's new baby. He has quite a story of his own.)

The Last Debate

Maureen Dowd channels them both.
"What do you want? Please, Sweetie, would you just tell me what you want?"

"Don't Sweetie me, Twiggy. You know what I want."

"Besides that, Hillary...."
As a first draft of history, it's pretty accurate.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maybe We Can't

Cinque Henderson in The New Republic:
Ninety percent of black Democrats support Barack Obama. So that might leave an observer wondering: What the hell is up with that other 10 percent? Are they stupid? Do they hate their own race? Do they not understand the historical import of the moment?

I can shed some insight on this demographic anomaly. In gatherings of black people, I'm invariably the only one for the Dragon Lady. I'll do my best to explain how those of us in the ever-shrinking minority of a minority came to our position.

But, before going any further, let me fully disclose my predispositions. I disliked Obama almost instantly. I never believed the central premises of his autobiography or his campaign....

Anthrax, Hazmat, and Take-Out

I worked at Symantec in Springfield for about three days last fall but evidently once your phone number's in the system it stays there. About 4:00 this afternoon I started getting recorded messages on my cell phone warning me not to leave the building. Every twenty minutes or so I get another phone call with an update.

Here's KVAL with the story.
The Springfield offices of Symantec Corp. were under lockdown Tuesday evening with employees directed not to enter or leave the building, according to Cris Paden with the company's corporate communications department in California. Between 700 and 1,000 people are locked in the building and are not being allowed to leave.
My cell phone just notified me that meals are being sent up. Hope it's from Aiyara's.

Update: A spokesman from the fire department will make an announcement shortly. When you leave the building tonight, if you have a signed ballot, a representative from the Secretary of State's office will be at the door to collect them.

That's a relief.

Update:
Officials are now 99 percent sure the substance is sugar. Tests will be conducted May 21 to confirm the preliminary finding.
That's a relief, too.

Whumped

Sixty-five to 31%. According to the Associated Press:
Seven in 10 whites overall backed Clinton in Kentucky, including about three quarters of those who have not completed college.
Translation: us ignorant white trash has gots to stick together.

OK, we highly educated engineers of European ancestry who happen to own firearms have got to stick together, too.

Paul Johnson's Jammies

A dirty old man remembers.
When I was a teenager my mother told me to beware of girls who wore pajamass, as they were likely to be 'bold'. I had no objections to bold girls, actually, but was not going to say so....
Read on. It's quite risqué.

Monday, May 19, 2008

NC to CA for $3.50

Bolus:
Forget bio-diesel and recycled fryer fat, HW's pickemup actually runs on from-the-well crude oil (tho it's happy to burn sunflower or other vegetable oil as well). Power is from an experimental air-cooled diesel that he obtained from GM in the early 70s, with modified injectors of his own design. It is to economy what the Tobacco King is to power; HW criss crosses the country in the truck, and whenever he needs fuel simply stops at an oil well, and, with the permission of the well owner, adds a few gallons of crude to the big 330 gallon tank in the bed. It's an astonishingly cheap way to go; HW once made a NC-to-California round trip spending $3.50(!) Yesterday he returned to North Carolina with the same $1.66 in his pocket he left with Saturday. After 500,000 miles on the engine, no major mechanical problems.
The ultimate survivalist transport.

Flattery Will Get Them Nowhere

We got two phone calls during dinner tonight. One from the Obama campaign and one from Ms. Hillary. I'm sure they got my name off the list of registered Democrats. Leslie fielded the calls; told them thank you very much, but he's a Republican. I wonder if they put two and two together.

Closer Than You Think

Robert Stacy McCain in The American Spectator:
That Hillary had that hour to herself signaled the Obama campaign's confidence that they've got the nomination locked. Portland's KGW-TV had originally wanted to have a debate between the two candidates. When Obama refused the invitation, the station gave Clinton the whole hour.

Oregon has an unusual mail-in election system and, as of Friday, only 22 percent of voters had sent in their ballots for tomorrow's primary. When Obama ceded Hillary that hour of free TV time, polls showed him leading in Oregon by as many as 20 percentage points. However, an American Research Group poll taken late last week indicated the race might be tightening, with Obama leading Hillary by only a 50-45 margin.
More or less as I've predicted.

Flying Over the Hills of Mars

Today's Astronomy Picture (actually a Flash animation) of the Day.
On the far side of the hills, the dark sand dunes come into view. Soon you pass an unusual white-rimmed structure, slightly raised, known as Home Plate, the origin of which is currently unknown and being researched. Turning, you re-approach the hills from a different angle, this time zooming in on Spirit, a curious alien rover sent from planet Earth.
Worth watching—you probably won't get a chance to go there.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

75,000 On The Willamette

Look on this crowd, Hillary, and despair!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No Victory To Declare—Yet

Michael Barone:
The Obama campaign makes much of the fact that its candidate leads Clinton in "pledged delegates," those chosen in primaries and caucuses. He has—by 153 more of those, according to the latest RealClearpolitics.com count. As this Wall Street Journal articles notes, Obama has picked up a net 145 delegate advantage in caucuses and a net delegate advantage of exactly seven delegates in primaries. Seven.
Barone also rightly points out that the Oregon primary results won't be known on the 20th, and that neither will there be any Oregon exit polls, because with an all-mail ballot, there are no polls to exit.

Obama can declare victory on May 20th if he wants to. But who will believe him?

Hypocrites

He said it:
One interesting thing about American politics these days is those who are screaming the loudest for increased production from Saudi Arabia are the very same people who are fighting the fiercest against domestic exploration, against the development of nuclear power and against expanding refining capacity.
But it's true anyway.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My Virtual Summer Job

Can someone please explain this to me?
While his friends scramble for jobs flipping burgers or bagging groceries this summer, 18-year-old Mike Everest will be working as a trader in the fantasy Web world of Entropia Universe, buying and selling virtual animal skins and weapons. His goods exist only online, but his earnings are real. In the past four years, he's made $35,000.
I asked the kids, but when they were done I understood even less than when they started.

Virtual animal skins?

Look, I understood the Brooklyn bridge scam. It made sense. This... ooh... I'm getting dizzy.

Top Ten Skeletons in the Left's Closet

Little history lesson here.
When the Left writes its own history, the past gets rewritten to suit the needs of the present. This is why I wrote A Conservative History of the American Left, to conserve not only fascinating figures now forgotten but to retrieve from the memory hole all that the Left has tossed down it. What is the history of the American Left that leftists want you to forget?
Required reading. There will be a quiz.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Irena Sendlerowa

The Wall Street Journal Europe:
During the Nazi occupation of her country, this Polish Catholic woman risked her life and endured unspeakable torture to rescue Jewish children from the Holocaust. As a member of "Zegota," the organization set up by the Polish underground to help Jews, she masterminded a daring rescue operation: Posing as a nurse, she and about 20 other Poles smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto.

Spirited out in ambulances, coffins, sacks and through sewers and tunnels, the kids were given Christian names and placed with Polish families, convents and orphanages. Sendlerowa meticulously recorded the children's real names and their new identities so that they could be eventually reunited with their parents. Most of them, though, had no family to return to after the war.

In 1943, the Germans arrested Sendlerowa. They broke her legs and feet to get her to divulge the names of her helpers and the children's whereabouts. She told them nothing. Sentenced to death, Sendlerowa narrowly escaped after Zegota bribed a guard. She continued her underground work until Germany's defeat.
Update: In her own words.

Word of the Day

Joe Queenan in Opinion Journal.
Even when she lies — as she did when describing that sniper fire in Bosnia — she ruins everything by carping and quibbling, instead of clamming up and letting the rest of us have a nice therapeutic guffaw. When Nixon lied, he'd lie up a storm, and everyone could get a big laugh out of it. When Bill Clinton lied — I never inhaled, I did not have sex with "that woman" — you could hear the entire country go into convulsions. Hillary, by contrast, takes all the joy out of deceit. Everybody likes a good liar. But nobody likes a tergiversator.

Horribly Dangerous

Rosa Brooks in the LA Times.
Remember how there used to be this thing called "going out to play"?

For younger readers, I'll explain this archaic concept. It worked like this: The child or children in the house -- as long as they were over age 4 or so -- went to the door, opened it, and ... went outside. They braved the neighborhood pedophile just waiting to pounce, the rusty nails just waiting to be stepped on, the trees just waiting to be fallen out of, and they "played."

"Play," incidentally, is a mysterious activity children engage in when not compelled to spend every hour under adult supervision, taking soccer or piano lessons or practicing vocabulary words with computerized flashcards.

All in all, "going out to play" worked out well for kids.

The Moron Vote

R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.
Readers of this column will recall that from time to time in covering an election cycle I have referred to a voting bloc that political analysts of more delicate sensibilities would rather not mention, to wit, the moron vote. It is a constituency composed of politically ignorant citizens who nonetheless feel very intensely about political issues once their respective demagogues have notified them of the issues, suitably transmogrified. The moron vote's rank and file might, in point of fact, not be morons at all. Some might be marine biologists or interior decorators or professors of romance languages, and in their chosen field they might be very knowledgeable. Yet when it comes to politics they are in the dark. They are very angry but still in the dark.
Which is exactly where the candidates want them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Stayin' Alive

IBD Editorials:
The Interior Department ruled Wednesday that the polar bear will be protected as a threatened species. Why special treatment for an animal whose population has more than doubled over the last 50 years?

Because it's politically correct. The polar bear has become such a beloved icon that even a pro-development Republican secretary of the Interior can't muster the courage to say no to the forces of environmentalism.

The polar bear is more than just a cuddly looking beast that roams the Arctic region. It's a wishbone in the fight between misanthropic activists determined to send the developed world back a few centuries and those who wish to see human development go forward.

These beautiful creatures have become pawns in the environmentalists' campaign to block oil and gas exploration and drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and beyond.

To be fair, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne's decision was forced....
Photo by way of Lucianne.

Money For Nothing

Bjorn Lomborg:
A 20% reduction in the EU's CO2 emissions, vigorously enforced throughout this century, would merely postpone temperature increases due to global warming by two years at the end of the century, from 2100 to 2102 — a negligible change. Yet the cost...

Crippling Ideology

John Tierney:
Suppose you ran a physical education program and discovered that girls were much more likely to suffer serious injuries than boys are. Before recruiting any more girls, would you want to alert them to this fact?

Doesn't seem like a hard question, does it?
You don't know politics.

Snitch?

Ask The Jewish Ethicist:
I have a neighbor who boasts that he hides much of his income from the tax authorities. Should I report him?
Short answer: No.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

B-17 and Pilot

Meet Leo Zupan.
He was working in a department store in Ashland when the United States entered the war in December of 1941.

"I wrote to my draft board and asked them if I could enlist," he said. "I knew they needed pilots. And I wanted to be one."

He became 2nd Lt. Zupan of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He had some two dozen missions under his belt when he was the co-pilot in a B-17 nicknamed Snafuperman flying out of a base in Italy on Aug. 29, 1944. It was one of 395 bombers and 294 fighters bound for a target in an industrial area of Moravia.

Ten minutes shy of their target, his aircraft was shot down by German fighters over what was then Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

"Both the No. 1 and No. 4 engines were on fire," he said. "I could see the ribs on the wings. We had to get out of there before it blew up."

At about 18,000 feet, he leaped out through the bomb bay.

"I had never jumped before," he said. "I remember I was on my back looking up. It was real serene.

"I watched the ground once in a while and when I got to about 3,500 feet I opened the chute," he added.

Despite a friendly welcome by the Czechs, the airmen were handed over to German Gestapo agents who interrogated Zupan's crew. When he tried to resist a beating, they broke his nose.

He survived to be a taken to Germany where he was held until Allied forces freed him and his fellow POWs the following spring.
Mr. Zupan got a ride in the Aluminum Overcast on Monday.

Napoleon's Heart

Paul Johnson shares a gruesome tidbit, which may be true or not.
Last week I had a letter from a gentleman well into his nineties, who had read my Napoleon in the big print edition. He says that in the 1920s he talked to an elderly solicitor, the uncle of a boy he knew at school. This man, born not later than the 1850s, was called Arnott, and was a direct descendant (probably grandson) of the Dr Arnott who was one of the five surgeons, the others being Shortt, Livingstone, Burton and Mitchell, who were present at a post-mortem examination of Napoleon's body, carried out shortly after his death on St Helena, by the Florentine doctor Francesco Antommarchi. All five signed the report, identifying the cause of death, which was a matter of controversy then and ever since. It appears it was a traditional belief in the Arnott family that Surgeon Arnott, after the post-mortem, abstracted Napoleon's heart and took it home with him when he left St Helena. Unfortunately, on the voyage, the ship's rats got at it and ate it.

Help Wanted: Right-Winger

The University of Colorado at Boulder is seeking a token conservative.
Mr. Peterson — a Republican who took over as chancellor two years ago — says he would like to bring a new luminary to campus every year or two to fill the chair, for an annual salary of about $200,000. No candidates have been approached, but faculty and administrators have floated big names like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, columnist George Will and Philip Zelikow, who chaired the 9/11 Commission.

"Like Margaret Mead among the Samoans, they're planning to study conservatives. That's hilarious," says Mr. Will, dryly adding that "I don't think it would be a good fit." Ms. Rice didn't respond to a request seeking comment, and Mr. Zelikow declined to comment.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Myanmar

The genius, once again, of Michael Ramirez.

What A Waste

William Tucker went to Paris for an odd sort of holiday.
For more than a year I've been giving a speech about nuclear energy that proclaims, "The French keep all their nuclear waste from thirty years of producing 80 percent of their electricity in one room at La Havre."

Last week I got to stand in that room....
I guess I'm an odd sort of tourist too. I'd like to do that.

Combat by Remote Control

In The Wall Street Journal.
The sniper never knew what hit him. The Marines patrolling the street below were taking fire, but did not have a clear shot at the third-story window that the sniper was shooting from. They were pinned down and called for reinforcements.

Help came from a Predator drone circling the skies 20 miles away. As the unmanned plane closed in, the infrared camera underneath its nose picked up the muzzle flashes from the window. The sniper was still firing when the Predator's 100-pound Hellfire missile came through the window and eliminated the threat.

The airman who fired that missile was 8,000 miles away, here at Creech Air Force Base, home of the 432nd air wing. The 432nd officially "stood up," in the jargon of the Air Force, on May 1, 2007. One year later, two dozen of its drones patrol the skies over Iraq and Afghanistan every hour of every day. And almost all of them are flown by two-man crews sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of a "ground control station" (GCS) in the Nevada desert.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jenna Hager

Jenna Bush married Henry Hager at Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford, Texas, on Saturday. It was a low-key affair with no press coverage. The White House has released a few photos, though, if you'd like.

Mmmm... Tasty

A wild new delicacy is sweeping the countryside. Well, the British countryside, anyway.
At Ridley's Fish and Game shop in Corbridge, Northumberland, the owner David Ridley says he has sold 1,000 — at £3.50 a squirrel — since he tested the market at the beginning of the year. 'I wasn't sure at first, and wondered would people really eat it. Now I take every squirrel I can get my hands on. I've had days when I have managed to get 60 and they've all sold straight away.'

Simpson likens the taste to wild boar. Ridley thinks it is more a cross between duck and lamb. 'It's moist and sweet because, basically, its diet has been berries and nuts,' he said.
Let's see... three pounds fifty, that's about seven American bucks. Open season is year 'round here in the Rogue Valley, no bag limit... There's gold in them thar hills... Gray gold!

NES Controller Coffee Table

Tired of those tiny little hand-held Nintendo controllers?. Kyle Downes made himself a full-sized one!

Thanks to Boing Boing.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Symbolic Racism

Alan Abramowitz in The Washington Post:
Racial attitudes have changed dramatically in the United States over the past several decades, of course, and overtly racist beliefs are much less prevalent among white Americans of all classes today. But a more subtle form of prejudice, which social scientists sometimes call symbolic racism, is still out there -- especially among working-class whites.

Symbolic racism means believing that African American poverty and other problems are largely the result of lack of ambition and effort, rather than white racism and discrimination.
Now hold on a minute.
African American poverty and other problems are largely the result of lack of ambition and effort, rather than white racism and discrimination.
That's a hypothesis. It may or may not be true. Suppose it is true. Is is racist to believe something that's true?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Well, Hush My Mouth

Boris Johnson wrote a piece for the New York Times.
Tobin and I spoke the following day, after a long surgery in Henley town hall. 'Booris,' said Tobin, 'we love it! Everybody loves it. But we have, uh, a few issues of political correctness that I have to go through with you.' There followed a bizarre hour-long negotiation...
Read it. It's short, and it's funny. Thanks to Donald L. Luskin.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Obsession

Brendan O'Neill has an odd theory.
In truth, the real driving force behind the surveillance society is not a practical one at all; it is a political one. It is underpinned by an existential crisis, if you like, by a powerful and palpable sense amongst government officials that they are increasingly cut off and disconnected from the public. The surveillance and database society is an attempt by officialdom to reconfigure a relationship with the public, to engender a direct, functional relationship to replace the political, citizenship-based relationship that has eroded in recent years.
It's still annoying.

California's Potemkin Environmentalism

Max Schulz in City Journal.
A dirty secret about California's energy economy is that it imports lots of energy from neighboring states to make up for the shortfall caused by having too few power plants. Up to 20 percent of the state's power comes from coal-burning plants in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, and Montana, and another significant portion comes from large-scale hydropower in Oregon, Washington State, and the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. "California practices a sort of energy colonialism," says James Lucier of Capital Alpha Partners, a Washington, D.C.—area investment group. "They rely on western states to supply them with power generation they are unwilling to build for themselves—and leave those states to deal with the resulting pollution.
In my opinion, the must-read of the week. Print it out and take it to work with you.

It's Disfranchise

Back in 2001 Florence King wrote
Shoot if you must this old gray head, but don't disenfranchise me. The correct word is disfranchise. As a woman who favors the repeal of the Nineteenth Amendment, I want that "en" out of there before they do it to me. It's like saying "inextrovert" for introvert.
Since then we'd just about given up on getting the "en" out. Everyone said disenfranchise and it didn't seem like that would ever change. But twice in the last two days writers at The Wall Street Journal—first John Fund and then James Taranto—wrote "disfranchise." Miss King may yet effect her language correction. We wish her luck with the Nineteenth Amendment as well.

Big Bottom

It started with this Rooters article about how the fat that accumulates around the hips and bottom might protect against diabetes. They illustrated it with the charming picture above.

Then there was the crack that Christopher Hitchens made yesterday about Hillary in her — ill advised he felt — "electric blue trouser-suit." I tried to find the image to which he referred but no luck. Never mind; it's probably etched indelibly on your retinas.

And then finally this morning Hillary herself was quoted as saying
If you look at the broad base of support that I have accumulated it really is the foundation on which we build our victory come the fall.
Well, yes, we were looking and I must say that if she wins in November hers will be the broadest base of support in the Oval Office since William Howard Taft.

Blogger Bites It

Excuses, excuses. I would have blogged a lot more yesterday, including that post this morning, if Google's Blogger hadn't bit the dust. They added a new "feature" which, apparently when actually tried by the end users (like me), brought the entire system crashing down.

I think I know what happened. Guido persuaded them to rewrite the whole thing in Python, which is the favorite computer language of the pimply-faced hacker crowd he runs with, and not sufficient for the demands of true software engineering. The result was pretty much what you would expect.

Land Of Few Children

The Washington Post:
Japan celebrated a national holiday on Monday in honor of its children. But Children's Day might just as easily have been a national day of mourning.

For this is the land of disappearing children and a slow-motion demographic catastrophe that is without precedent in the developed world.

The number of children has declined for 27 consecutive years, a government report said over the weekend. Japan now has fewer children who are 14 or younger than at any time since 1908.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Its Primary Color

Christopher Hitchens:
There is less and less point in pretending that this campaign is not "about" race.

As far as I can calculate it, though, Mrs Clinton can carry all the next five states AND Puerto Rico and still not get an arithmetical majority.

Nonetheless, she continues to act as if she knows something that the rest of us do not. And I can tell you that it spooks the Obama campaign.

The Biofuels Backlash

The Wall Street Journal:
St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, and for 30 years we invoked his name as we opposed ethanol subsidies. So imagine our great, pleasant surprise to see that the world is suddenly awakening to the folly of subsidized biofuels.

All it took was a mere global "food crisis." Last week chief economist Joseph Glauber of the USDA, which has been among Big Ethanol's best friends in Washington, blamed biofuels for increasing prices on corn and soybeans. Mr. Glauber also predicted that corn prices will continue their historic rise because of demand from "expanding use for ethanol."

Even the environmental left, which pushed ethanol for decades as an alternative to gasoline, is coming clean. Lester Brown, one of the original eco-Apostles, wrote in the Washington Post that "it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that food-to-fuel mandates have failed." We knew for sure the tide had turned when Time magazine's recent cover story, "The Clean Energy Myth," described how turning crops into fuel increases both food prices and atmospheric CO2. No one captures elite green wisdom better than Time's Manhattan editors. Can Vanity Fair be far behind?

All we can say is, welcome aboard....

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On to Oregon!

I was an odd kid. When my friends were reading Green Lantern and Captain America, I was reading Pogo. This strip was from 1968. Back then Oregon's primary actually counted for something. We even voted before California. At least the grown-ups did. I sat that one out.

This year the Democrats made the stupid mistake of playing by the kindergarten competition rules—there are no winners or losers, and everybody gets a prize. That's the essence of "proportional representation" and look what it's got them. The primary season's practically over and they still haven't made a decision. Hillary's even coming to Oregon for a visit, day after tomorrow, just up the road a piece.

We're flattered by all the attention, but I honestly don't think it's going to do them any good. Oregon will split right down the middle, half for Barry, and half for Hill. And come August, I predict utter chaos.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Two for One?

Christopher Hitchens asks Is Michelle Obama responsible for the Jeremiah Wright fiasco?

It's a legitimate question, I suppose, but it reminds me of a comment my college history prof once made to the effect that, Ronald Reagan being such a likable guy, he couldn't have turned conservative all on his own—it must have been Nancy's influence.

Shut Up, She Argued

Joseph Rago notes the case of the college professor who's threatening to sue her students.
Priya Venkatesan taught English at Dartmouth College. She maintains that some of her students were so unreceptive of "French narrative theory" that it amounted to a hostile working environment. She is also readying lawsuits against her superiors, who she says papered over the harassment, as well as a confessional exposé, which she promises will "name names."

The trauma was so intense that in March Ms. Venkatesan quit Dartmouth and decamped for Northwestern. She declined to comment for this piece, pointing instead to the multiple interviews she conducted with the campus press.

Ms. Venkatesan lectured in freshman composition, intended to introduce undergraduates to the rigors of expository argument. "My students were very bully-ish, very aggressive, and very disrespectful," she told Tyler Brace of the Dartmouth Review. "They'd argue with your ideas."
Mercy sakes. Arguing with the professor. Boy. Some people's kids.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Missing Rush Limbaugh

Speculative Fiction. That's what we used to call it when it didn't have enough science in it to call it science fiction, but it was set in the not too distant future, as extrapolated from the present. I'd missed this little gem by Robert Ferrigno in NRO last month but now, thanks to a ref by Steyn in The Corner, I've read it. You should too.

The Dirty Dozen

Amity Shlaes reviews The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom by Robert A. Levy and William Mellor.
"The Dirty Dozen" tells us how misguided Supreme Court decisions have helped us to arrive at that consensus and others. Robert A. Levy and William Mellor, both constitutional lawyers, examine 12 notorious court opinions affecting everything from wartime internments and medical-school admissions to tax policy and the rights of the homebuyers. The starting point for their survey is 1933, their reasonable assumption being that modern American law began with the New Deal. They went about compiling their list by asking other lawyers and scholars to name the cases they considered to be the most damaging to our constitutional rights.
Robert A. Levy, you may recall, challenged the D.C. gun ban. William Mellor works at the Institute for Justice, a group I've considered worth a tax-deductible donation or two. Another IJ attorney, Clint Bolick, is the author of David's Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary, my current read. More on that when I've finished it.

McCain's Better Half

IBD profiles Cindy Hensley McCain.
The McCains want to make sure their boys get no special treatment. Same goes for their five other children, including a daughter they adopted from Bangladesh. During a visit to Mother Teresa's orphanage there, Cindy noticed a dying baby. The orphanage could not provide the medical care needed to save her life. So she brought the child home to America for the surgery she desperately needed. The baby is now their healthy, 16-year-old daughter, Bridget.
Some people talk about change. Others just do it.

Hell In A Handbasket

You go ahead. I'm busy this week.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Five Hundred Year Old Shipwreck

Discovered off the coast of Africa.
The ship, thought to be a 25m "caravel", of the type used by Christopher Columbus, was discovered on April 1, when a geologist, Bob Burrell, noticed copper ingots in a coastal mining site operated by De Beer's local subsidiary, Namdeb.

Protected by a 30m-high earthen "sea wall" erected by the company, 12km north of Oranjemund, the site is a strip of excavated ocean bed, 7m below sea level and 200m out from the beach.

Although the ship is completely destroyed, metal artefacts and some human bones were concentrated in a 500m² layer of sand. A large rock that likely sank her stands just metres from where 10 cannons were found.

[Dieter] Noli, chief archaeologist on the project, said: "Never in a million years would this ship have been found, if it weren't for the mining operation. But I knew it would happen — I told them sooner or later you'll find a wreck; and I've been waiting patiently for the last 20 years... but now: jackpot!"

The Results Kept Coming In

Daniel Finkelstein in the Times:
The usual postmatch appearance by the party leader is with cheering local party members, fresh from a victory won against the tide. Even when things are pretty bad you can fix one of those. You do it in the afternoon, shirtsleeves, jaw set, contrition, "listen, learn, change".

Not this time. What we got was Gordon Brown in front of his fireplace expressing disappointment. First thing in the morning, jacket on, clenched teeth. As the day wound on it became clear that disappointment didn't cut it. But what else could he say?

When the Tories lost elections I remember the TV used to have pictures of party HQ with the flag drooping. It always droops, I used to complain. "The fact that it droops isn't correlated to the results," I would say to any passing journalists.

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the flag at Gordon Brown's No 10. Definitely drooping. No doubt about it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gas Price Essay

We linked to Robert J. Samuelson's article a couple days ago, but this visual essay, borrowed from Lucianne, makes the same point with fewer words.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Worth More As Scrap

Today's art thieves are as discerning as ever. Were they to purloin a Rembrandt, a Renoir, or even a Picasso, they might try to sell it to a collector. But this stuff? They truck it to the scrap yard. With copper at $4 a pound these "masterpieces" are worth about a thousand bucks melted down. Not a bad deal, really: The thieves get some pocket change, the scrap yard gets its metal, and the public is relieved of an eyesore. It's a win-win situation all around!

Profiles in Gopher-Holing

Daniel Henninger:
Barack Obama was bleeding by Monday and needed cover. Where, when he could have used them, were Obama's oh-so-famous endorsers: Jesse Jackson, Ted Kennedy, Oprah, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, Patrick Leahy, Tom Daschle, Amy Klobuchar, Claire McCaskill, Jay Rockefeller, John Lewis, Toni Morrison, Roger Wilkins, Eric Holder, Robert Reich, Ted Sorenson, Alice Walker, David Wilhelm, Cornel West, Clifford Alexander, Donald McHenry, Patricia Wald, Newton Minow?

Where were all the big-city mayors who went over to the Obama camp: Chicago's Richard Daley, Cleveland's Frank Jackson, Atlanta's Shirley Franklin, Washington's Adrian Fenty, Newark's Cory Booker, Baltimore's Sheila Dixon?

It isn't hard for big names to get on talk TV to make a point. Any major op-ed page would have stopped the presses to print a statement of support from Ted Kennedy or such for the senator. None appeared. Call it profiles in gopher-holing.