Monday, June 30, 2008

Such A Girl

Windsor Mann explains why Obama's ahead 51 to 38 percent among women.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

St. Joe's School Band

Drum section, me and Mary. That little smirk on my face means I'm probably thinking how cute Mary is. I thought that quite a lot in eighth grade.

Yesterday afternoon ten members of St. Joeseph's graduating class of 1968 met at the old school. Some of us hadn't seen each other in 36 years. We wandered through our old classrooms and remembered good times. We traded phone numbers and email addresses and all of us agreed that we should do it again soon.

How the years fly by.

Friday, June 27, 2008

In The Mail

Two more by Raymond Chandler. The High Window (1942) and The Little Sister (1949). For background, a history of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes.

It Always Meant That

Raise your right hand.
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
Here is what the Constitution said Thursday:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Here is what the Constitution says today:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
So what has changed?
"The Law Department and the Police Department have suspended enforcement of the ordinance pending further review by the Village Board," Wilmette village attorney Tim Frenzer said Thursday.
Has the meaning of the Constitution changed?

Has your understanding of the Constitution changed?

Or has your ability to ignore the Constitution undergone some, shall we say, slight degradation?

'Roos On The Run

Ezra Levant:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission, like any petty tyranny, has a strong instinct for survival. As I predicted last week on the Michael Coren Show, that instinct would cause them to drop the complaint against Mark Steyn and Maclean's. And so they did.

With an RCMP investigation, a Privacy Commission investigation and a pending Parliamentary investigation, they're already fighting a multi-front P.R. war, and losing badly. Not a day goes by when the CHRC isn't pummelled in the media. Holding a show trial of Maclean's and Steyn, like the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal did earlier this month, would be writing their own political death sentence.

So they blinked. Against everything in their DNA, they let Maclean's go. That's the first smart thing they've done; because the sooner they can get the public scrutiny to go away, the sooner they can go about prosecuting their less well-heeled targets, people who can't afford Canada's best lawyers and command the attention and affection of the country's literati.

Eric Raymond's Challenge

Professor Reynolds in the New York Post:
If the Supreme Court's Heller decision is not to meet the same fate, Second Amendment enthusiasts will have to start bringing, and carefully litigating, follow-up cases so as to ensure that Second Amendment rights don't wind up championed mostly by "ugly" defendants such as drug dealers facing firearms charges.
Legendary Unix programmer Eric Raymond steps forward:
I told [police Chief McCann] that I had been intending to speak with him for several weeks, to inform him that I intend to begin exercising my right to open carry of a firearm (quite legal in Pennsylvania and in most other states as well). I explained that I thought it best he and the local police knew of this in advance in order to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings....

I also told him that, in the wake of the Heller ruling, I intend at some future point to deliberately violate the Pennsylvania state law forbidding concealed carry without a state-issued permit.
A good outcome would be for his case to make it to a conservative Supreme Court in twenty years. A better outcome would be for Chief McCann to announce that he will not enforce unconstitutional laws.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Living In The Past

Victor Davis Hanson:
We are nearing the seventh anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Its replacement — the Freedom Tower — should have been a sign of our determination and grit right after 9/11.

But it is only now reaching street level. Owners, renters, builders and government have all fought endlessly over the design, cost and liability.

In contrast, in the midst of the Great Depression, our far-poorer grandparents built the Empire State Building in 410 days — not a perfect design, but one good enough to withstand a fuel-laden World War II-era bomber that crashed into it.
Excuse me for the rest of the evening. I'm going back to 1943.

Shall Not Be Infringed?

Well I read it, all 64 pages of it.

I think the best you can say is it was a defensive battle and we didn't lose. But I can't see that we gained any ground, either. Justice Scalia spent twenty-seven pages going over the text of the Second Amendment word by word,
  1. Operative Clause
    1. "Right of the People."
    2. "Keep and bear Arms."
    3. Meaning of the Operative Clause.
  2. Prefatory Clause
    1. "Well-Regulated Militia."
    2. "Security of a Free State."
  3. Relationship between Prefatory Clause and Operative Clause
...including twelve pages on just three words, "keep", "bear", and "arms", as if parsing the exact Constitutional meaning of three common words was important. Maybe it was.

If that were all the Second Amendment said, "The people have a right to keep and bear arms," he would have covered it pretty well. But he left out of the discussion the most important words, the last four words, the words that actually tell the Government that it has an obligation to respect, rather than simply acknowledge, that right. What, I wonder, is the meaning of the word "infringe"? Or the phrase "shall not?" Or what, for that matter, would the meaning of "be" be? He didn't say.
...nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.
I suppose we should be happy that the collective/individual right question has been put to rest. But what does it matter whether it's a collective or individual right if the Congress can continue to infringe it out of all practical existence?

Heller

Decision here, and will be posted later here.

Commentary here.

Live blogging here.

Justice Scalia wrote the opinion. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg.

The Second Amendment protects and individual rignt.
The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditional lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
Is defense against tyranny a "traditional lawful purpose?" Because that's what I thought it was for.

The majority opinion runs 64 pages. I have printed them out and will read them all. They are, in effect, commentary on the Constitution. I have already read the Constitution. For the next week or so I will read commentary on the commentary. In the long run, though, Mr. Scalia is entitled to his opinion. And I am entitled to mine.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Truth and Consequences

The Smear: Barack Obama is hiding his birth certificate.

The Truth: You can see his birth certificate here.

The Real Truth: It's a pretty obvious photoshop.

Why? Enquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Primitive Energy Source

The standard reaction to this picture is to marvel at the wonders of science. But I think it's embarrassing. Just imagine what an alien might think:
They zoom up to it in their flying saucer and stop. They stare at it in amazement.

"Can you believe it? Look at than contraption."

"No way. They managed to get that up here, in orbit? And then they power it with... with photons?"

"They can handle space flight but they can't handle fission?"

"Nah, it's worse than that. They've discovered fission but they won't use it. It's too... too..."

"Too scary."

"Ha ha ha ha ha."

And the Other 27 Percent?

Improbable Research reads the news and discovers that
Only 73 percent of the athiests don't believe in god
Huh?

A Tribute to George Carlin

Blazing Cat Fur has posted a video of George Carlin. Go watch it.

I had wondered why the hagiography seemed a little restrained.

Outside the Envelope

Oceanside, California:
A four-seat plane that crashed off Oceanside on Sunday may have been unable to get out of a spin, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said Monday.

And the pilot may have intentionally entered the spin, the spokesman said. "Preliminary reports suggest that he tried to," FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said. "Based on witness accounts."

A passenger aboard the 2006 Cessna 172S was rescued and taken to a hospital in La Jolla. Two other people are still missing. Authorities haven't identified those who were onboard.
This one will come down to weight and balance. My Cessna 172 Pilot's Guide (not the official operating handbook) says this:
The Cessna 172 is approved for intentional spinning ONLY when operating in the utility category...

In addition, no baggage is to be carried and the rear seats are not to be occupied.
There were three people on board, including the pilot.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ice On Mars

Now you see it... now you don't (look in the lower left-hand corner, in the shadow).

Astronomy Picture of the Day has the full size photo and more details.

Hollywood Stogies

Joe Queenan in Opinion Journal:
Wednesday, on my way to the train station in my town a few miles up the river from New York City, I ran into three nine-year-old boys who live down the street from me. All three were smoking Cohibas. Big, nasty Cohibas. Smelled like the real thing, too, like the ones that get smuggled in from Cuba. Spotting me, and worried that I might tip off their parents, the little scamps clambered off into the woods, cackling and giggling. But they never once stopped puffing on their Havanas. The whole thing was pretty darn weird.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Forced Labor

The Economist has a briefing on robots this week.
At just 1.4 metres in height, Partner Robot is a wimp—but its talent is versatility, not strength. Made by Toyota, Partner Robot is humanoid. Rather than being bolted to the floor like Titan, it can walk on two articulated legs. One version can even run a little. Instead of a single giant limb, it has two arms each with four delicate fingers and a thumb. With a violin tucked under its chin, Partner Robot can make a decent fist of the tune to "Land of Hope and Glory". If you give Partner Robot a shove, its sense of balance is good enough to stop it from falling flat on its expressionless face....

The first factory robots appeared in the 1960s. They could do only simple, monotonous and mundane things, like moving objects from one production line to another—they were drudges, like the slaves Karel Capek described in 1920 in the play that coined the term from the Czech word robota, or "forced labour"....

A Cure For Cancer

The Telegraph:
A cancer patient has made a full recovery after being injected with billions of his own immune cells in the first case of its kind, doctors have disclosed.

The 52-year-old, who was suffering from advanced skin cancer, was free from tumours within eight weeks of undergoing the procedure.

After two years he is still free from the disease which had spread to his lymph nodes and one of his lungs.

Doctors took cells from the man's own defence system that were found to attack the cancer cells best, cloned them and injected back into his body, in a process known as "immunotherapy"...

Normally there are too few of the cells in a patient's body to effectively fight cancer.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Nothing New Here

This blog has not retired but if there was anything worth paying attention to in the news today I didn't notice it.

Get out and watch that big full moon tonight.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sun-Blessed, Windswept Liberty

Boris Johnson takes a stand.
Here, then, is the political position. In my efforts to do the right thing, I have ended up giving offence to both opposing factions. As soon as I started to wear a helmet, I was denounced as a wimp, a milquetoast, a sell-out to the elf and safety lobby, a man so cravenly attached to his own survival that he was willing to wear this undignified plastic hat.

As soon as I was pictured not wearing a helmet, I was attacked for "sending out the wrong signal" and generally poisoning the minds of the young with my own reckless behaviour.

The situation, my friends, is a mess. I have been convicted beyond all reasonable doubt of complete incoherence on the question of cycle helmets — and complete incoherence, therefore, is what I propose to defend.
I agree with him. I'll wear a bike helmet to cover the lobotomy scars—not before then.

Unlisted Number

Derbyshire:
I had dinner last night at the Leash Club in midtown Manhattan. Never been in there before. Lovely place, quiet & inconspicuous, with liquor lockers for members' bottles, a private-club custom left over from Prohibition. The Leash is so classy they have no website — that's as classy as you can get nowadays.

3,000 New Crimes

Brendan O'Neill on Spiked:
More than any other government in history, New Labour has used the law to proactively shape people's behaviour. Its feverish legalism — with the creation of 3,000 new crimes in its first 10 years in power — is frequently designed to 'send a message' to the public about our attitudes and how we think and speak. Like kings of old, the state is using the law as a personal stick with which to beat the errant public. Such politicisation of the law can only undermine objectivity and fairness in the courts.
His screed includes "an urgent 10-point action plan for rescuing our legal rights." We could use a bit of that here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ain't no such thing as an...

George Sim Johnston reviews Alan Jacob's new book.
The idea of Original Sin — that we are all implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity — does not sit well with the modern mind. But then neither does the idea of sin itself. According to our therapeutic culture, people like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin may have sinned, but the rest of us are victims of circumstance and maladjustment.

Mortagate? We don't need no stinkin' mortgage.

Mick Hume remembers
...the grim blocks of flats in Hulme and Moss Side where I lived in my early twenties: "the worst [flats] of all... They were infested with mice and rats, their lifts never worked and the dustbins were never emptied. The flats had bubbles of mould on the walls and the warped wood was often soaking..."

I am not nostalgic about these ""dystopian conditions"?. But 30 years ago many of us lived in such places, even after our student days, rather than retreat to the family home. It was a penalty worth paying for our freedom.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yep, Totally Normal

D.C. v. Heller

What to watch for.

A public service announcement via Instapundit.

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Israel Insider:
Apparently the Obamas of Kenya have been reading those scurrilous emails to which Barack likes to refer, because they have no doubt -- contrary to the claims of the Obama campaign, that the presidential candidate was raised a Moslem. They take that as a given....

In a remarkable denial issued last November that still stands on the official campaign website, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs issued a statement explaining that "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

Apparently Malik Obama, himself a Muslim, had not read the press release.
So who you gonna believe? Barack Obama or your own lyin' eyes?

Friday, June 13, 2008

New World Order

The Times does a little investigative reporting:
George W Bush and Pope Benedict XVI have held an intimate meeting in Rome as rumours mounted in Italy that the president may follow in Tony Blair's footsteps and convert to Catholicism....

Mr Bush has filled the White House with Catholic speech-writers and consultants and is also thought to have asked a Catholic priest to bless the West Wing.

Before he became president, Karl Rove, his former political adviser, invited Catholic intellectuals to Texas to lecture the candidate on the church's teachings. Mr Bush appointed the Catholic judges Samuel Alito and John Roberts to the Supreme Court.

However, it is thought unlikely that Mr Bush would convert until after he has left office. Jeb Bush, the president's brother, has already converted to Catholicism.

Catholics have noted that during the contested election in 2000, Jeb Bush travelled to Mexico and prayed to the icon of Our Lady of Guadelupe. His victory was announced by the Supreme Court on December 12, the feast day of the Lady of Guadelupe.
Ooh... Spooky.

Utter Chaos

The Times: EU in turmoil as Ireland votes No to Lisbon Treaty

Turmoil? The Economist was less reticent.
The European Union has been plunged into chaos after the rejection of its latest treaty by Irish voters.
That's more like it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jack Simplot, R.I.P.

On May 25th at the age of 99. His death made The Economist's Obituary.

Pilots in Oregon know him as the guy who paved the Paisley airport.

What Were We Talking About?

David Robinson reviews Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by Maggie Jackson.

And from The Econimist, new evidence that ADHD may be an evolutionary adaptation to nomadism.

Moving right along...

Keeping Up Appearances

Edward Kosner reviews How to Get Rich by Felix Dennis.

And Virginia Postrel has a little advice on how to look rich.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Keep The Change

Bumper stickers tend to identify more than educate and educate more than persuade; the very best might do all three.

Tam had a little trouble with Cafe Press, so this is for sale at Zazzle instead. I bought two—one for my car and one for yours, if you want it.

Giacomo "Serenity Now" Vigna

Ezra Levant, whom I have mentioned once or twice before, is having almost too much fun with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. They're going to wish they'd never met this guy. Don't miss the background clip from Seinfeld, either.

I believe it was Instapundit who reminded me of this.

In The Mail

Three more contemporary American classics by Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Lady in the Lake.

I'll be up late tonight.

Obama's Neighborhood

Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard thinks it matters. Thomas Frank in The Wall Street Journal begs to differ.

His friends, definitely. His acquaintances, maybe. His neighbors? That's a stretch.

Posting Will Resume This Evening

Blogger's been driving the big porcelain school bus since yesterday afternoon. Seems they finally got it fixed jury-rigged. I've got some catching up to do.

Later.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blue Planet in Green Shackles

By Vaclav Klaus.
[The debate] should be neither about several tenths of a degree of Fahrenheit or Celsius, about the up or down movements of sea level, about the depths of ice at North and Southern Pole, nor about the variations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The real debate should be about costs and benefits of alternative human actions, about how to rationally deal with the unknown future, about what kind and size of solidarity with much wealthier future generations is justified, about the size of externalities and their eventual appropriate "internalization", about how much to trust the impersonal functioning of the markets in solving any human problem, including global warming and how much to distrust the very visible hand of very human politicians and their bureaucrats. Some of these questions are touched upon in my book.

My deep frustration has been exponentially growing in recent years by witnessing the fact that almost everything has already been said, that all rational arguments have been used and that global warming alarmism is still marching on.
That's frustrating alright.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Did Appeasement Cause WWII?

Patrick J. Buchanan and Victor Davis Hanson debate the origins of the Second World War.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

End of the Line

Steyn:
Speaking personally, I don't want to remake America. I'm an immigrant, and one reason I came here is because most of the rest of the Western world remade itself along the lines Sen. Obama has in mind. This is pretty much the end of the line for me. If he remakes America, there's nowhere for me to go — although presumably once he's lowered sea levels around the planet there should be a few new atolls popping up here and there.

Garbage In, Debris Out

The hazards of fly-by-wire:
The crash on takeoff of a 509th Air Wing, Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber, February 23 operating at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, was caused by water in the aircraft's sensors, according to an Air Combat report issued Thursday. Specifically, moisture in three port transducer units "distorted data introduced by a B-2 Spirit's air data system" which led to flawed information entering the bomber's flight control computers. The aircraft was reacting to inaccurate airspeed and a "perceived" negative angle of attack. This resulted in an "uncommanded 30 degree nose-high pitch-up on takeoff," according to the Air Force.
AVweb has the video.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Portage By The Pound

Dick Derrie's new discount airline charges by the pound; $2.25/lb Philadelphia to LA, $1.40/lb Philadelphia to Chicago, and so on.

From their FAQ:
How much will your tickets be?

It depends on how much you and your luggage weigh. These masses will be combined and then turned into a price with our "Sliding Scale". If you and your luggage have a combined weight of less than 200 pounds, the cost savings is considerable-as high as sixty percent for domestic flights!
Woo hoo!

Is Barack Obama the Messiah?

Before we answer that question, let me vent for a moment. In 2000 I was cruelly denied the Pulitzer despite being the only columnist in America to ask the pressing question: Is Al Gore an alien? The evidence was there for all to see. He was born nine months after the mysterious alien sighting at Roswell, N.M. His weird syntax and verbal rhythms are otherworldly. He often refers to "earth" or "this planet" as if he's just passing through, and he once angrily complained to the Washington Post that it had printed a picture of the earth from outer space "upside down."

There is no "upside down" in space — unless Gore had his childhood view in mind.
One of Jonah's funniest columns in a long time.

Charter's New Theme Song

Every move you make
Every step you take
I'll be watching you
The Economist has the details:
Is it a worrying invasion of privacy for web surfers, or a lucrative new business model for online advertising? A new "behavioural" approach to targeting internet advertisements, being pioneered by companies such as Phorm, NebuAd and FrontPorch, is said to be both of these things. The idea is that special software, installed in the networks of internet-service providers (ISPs), intercepts webpage requests generated by their subscribers as they roam the net. The pages in question are delivered in the usual way, but are also scanned for particular keywords in order to build up a profile of each subscriber's interests. These profiles can then be used to target advertisements more accurately.
Or bring the police to your door.

Charter is nowhere mentioned in that article, but in The Economist's leader there's this tidbit:
Britain's Information Commissioner has warned that such systems should be "opt in", and in America two congressmen have questioned the "opt out" approach of the NebuAd system that is being used by Charter, the country's fourth-largest ISP.
Best "opt out" now. We did—we dumped Charter for Qwest six months ago.

Update: Wired questions whether you can really "opt out" or not.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Keep and Bear BB Guns

Speaking of old-fashioned childhoods, Lileks has posted a whole series of Daisy Ads. Step back in time to when men were real men, women were real women, and boys caught a little copper in the backside now and then.

The Kindergarchy

Joseph Epstein talks about his emotionally deprived childhood.
My mother never read to me, and my father took me to no ballgames, though we did go to Golden Gloves fights a few times. When I began my modest athletic career, my parents never came to any of my games, and I should have been embarrassed had they done so. My parents never met any of my girlfriends in high school. No photographic or video record exists of my uneven progress through early life. My father never explained about the birds and the bees to me; his entire advice on sex, as I clearly remember, was, "You want to be careful."

I don't recall many stretches of boredom in my boyhood. Life was lived among friends on the block and, later, during games on the playground. Winter afternoons after school were filled up by "Jack Armstrong," "Captain Midnight," and other radio programs for kids. Boredom, really, wasn't an option. I recall only once telling my mother that I was bored. "Oh," she said, a furtive smile on her lips, "why don't you bang your head against the wall. That'll take your mind off your boredom." I never mentioned boredom again.
He wouldn't have had it any other way, and neither would I. Give us a break.

I haven't finished the article yet, but I will. I might even buy the magazine, just to get the newsstand guy off my back.

The Recreational Racist

Daniel Henninger in Opinion Journal says Obama's 'Identity' Beat Hillary's 'Identity'.

Who cares? If you're as sick and tired of 'identity' politics as I am, take a break with The Recreational Racist. Good clean fun and equal opportunity bigotry. Politically very incorrect. And funny.

As Good As Gold?

Amity Shlaes in The Wall Street Journal:
One night in April, 1933, FDR surprised a bunch of advisers, saying "Congratulate me." He'd taken the country off the gold standard, and now planned to personally manage the dollar's exchange rate and price levels. Hearing the news, colleagues "began to scold Mr. Roosevelt as though he were a perverse and particularly backward schoolboy," recalled Ray Moley. Secretary of State Cordell Hull, the great free trader, "looked as though he had been stabbed in the back. FDR took out a ten-dollar bill, examined it and said 'Ha! . . . How do I know it's any good? Only the fact that I think it is makes it so.'"
Ms. Shlaes doesn't mention The Dirty Dozen but that's where the gold-clause cases finally ended up: before the Supreme Court. It was a bad law which the Supreme Court ought to have struck down as unconstitutional, but they didn't, and we have suffered for it ever since.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Toss Another Roo On The Barbie

Andrew Coyne and Ezra Levant have been live-blogging the Kangaroo Court of the BC Human Rights Tribunal. Steyn was there today, but except for unsuccessfully suppressing a laugh <snort!> he kept his mouth shut. Lots of links at Steyn's site.

I would suggest that when this is over—no matter which way it goes—they celebrate with a barbecue: Here's the entrée. Mmmm, good!

It Isn't Over

Mo Dowd:
Barry has been trying to shake off Hillary and pivot for quite a long time now, but she has managed to keep her teeth in his ankle and raise serious doubts about his potency. Getting dragged across the finish line Tuesday night by Democrats who had had enough of the rapacious Clintons, who had decided, if it came to it, that they would rather lose with Obama than win with Hillary, the Illinois senator tried to celebrate at the St. Paul arena where Republicans will anoint John McCain in September.

But even as Obama was trying to savor, Hillary was refusing to sever. Ignoring the attempts of Obama and his surrogates to graciously say how "extraordinary" she was as they showed her the exit, she and a self-pitying Bill continued to pull focus. Outside Baruch College, where she was to speak, her fierce feminist supporters screamed "Denver! Denver! Denver!"

Another Hungry Cat

Wimer, Oregon (just over the hill from here):
Two young girls riding their bicycles on a rural road spied the cougar staring at them from nearby bushes, according to the Oregon State Police. One of the girls went home to tell her parents while the other stayed behind, police said.

Jeff Granacki, the girls' father, came to the scene on an all-terrain vehicle and armed with a rifle, OSP Senior Trooper Jim Collom said. When the cougar stepped out of the bushes toward him, Granacki shot him dead from less than 30 feet away, Collom said.
Second one this year.

Dragging Good People Down

In the local fishwrap (what's left of it):
Forced to move her business to make way for a proposed redevelopment project called The Commons, Linda Dupray said she found it a little ironic the Medford complex may be stalled.

"This morning when I heard about it, I laughed and laughed and laughed until the tears came rolling down my face," said the owner of Superior Stamp and Sign Co.

The centerpiece of The Commons, a 10-story headquarters building for Medford-based Lithia Motors, was put on hold after the auto retailer announced Monday it will defer uncommitted capital expenditures as part of cost-cutting measures.

Mark Rivers, development partner for Lithia, said the $169 million project, designed to revitalize downtown with help from the Medford Urban Renewal Agency, might face delays, but it won't be stopped.

"You've got in Lithia a community stalwart who wants to find a way to do good things for the downtown," he said.
Screw 'em. It's eminent domain abuse and it's going to hell, just like I predicted. Trouble is they're dragging good people down with them. Isn't that always the way it goes?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Raymond Chandler

I can't believe I waited 48 years to start reading Raymond Chandler. Greg's been telling me for years I should give him a try, but I had too many other things to read first. It was that interview with Murakami in Mainichi last week that finally pushed me to toss one in the cart. I started in on it last night after supper and put it down at 1:30 in the morning. If it hadn't been for work I would have finished it.

Not the Worst—Yet

Accuracy in Media:
In his biography of Barack Obama, David Mendell writes about Obama's life as a "secret smoker" and how he "went to great lengths to conceal the habit." But what about Obama's secret political life? It turns out that Obama's childhood mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, was a communist.
Yawn. Add another name to the list. But keep your powder dry. It's a long way to November.

Monday, June 02, 2008

English Breakfasts

Derbyshire looks back in fondness.
Oatmeal porridge was of course only a prologue to the heroic multi-course English breakfasts of my childhood. The entree was a full plate of heaped protein: eggs and bacon, big flat fleshy "field" mushrooms, blood sausage, and bread. All had been fried — yes, including the bread — in a half-inch of lard in my mother's frying pan. After breakfast the lard was allowed to cool until solid, then the pan, lard and all, could be hung on a hook on the wall ready for the next day's breakfast. Why waste good lard?

There were occasional extras. My own favorite was kidneys, split lengthwise and fried with the rest.... After the fry-up there would be marmalade on toast, washed down with three or four cups of tea. We were then considered ready to face the world; though looking back on those breakfasts, it's surprising we could even stand upright.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Summer Reading List

May I present for your pleasure and edification the third annual Zeta Woof Summer Reading List. Just as with the first and second lists, these are the best of the books which I have read over the course of the last year and those which I can in confidence recommend to you. Enjoy.

David's Hammer: The Case for an Activist Judiciary by Clint Bolick

In 1982 Clint Bollick emerged from UC Davis.
Armed with a law degree and somehow having managed to convince the California legal cartel that I was fit to practice, I immediately began suing bureaucrats for a living.
In this small book he argues that judicial activism has gotten a bad name, and that what we really need is not less of it, but more.
When their government violates their rights, they must have recourse. Creating the power of judicial review, as the Framers of our Constitution saw fit to do, creates dangers. But that danger is not as great as its opposite: legislative and executive powers unchecked by judicial review.
The Dirty Dozen: How Twelve Supreme Court Cases Radically Expanded Government and Eroded Freedom by Robert A. Levy and William Mellor

"Compiling a 'greatest hits' of the worst American judicial opinions," says Clint Bolick, "is difficult.... so much bad material exists from which to choose." Nevertheless, Levy and Mellor have done just that. Here they are — the twelve worst decisions (and eight dishonorable mentions) of the Supreme Court since 1933.

Some of these cases are well known. Everyone learns of Korematsu in school, and anyone who reads the news is familiar with Kelo. But who knows anything about United States v. Carolene Products? You should.

This highly readable volume sums up in 225 pages the issues that every American who cares about lost freedoms must understand. This is where — and why — we went wrong, and who is to blame.

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom on Diet, Weight Control, and Disease by Gary Taubes

This is not a diet book. It contains no recipes. Like every book on this list it is primarily a history.
Banting... began dieting in August 1862. He ate three meals a day of meat, fish, or game, usually five or six ounces at a meal, with an ounce or two of stale toast or cooked fruit on the side. He had his evening tea with a few more ounces of fruit or toast. He scrupulously avoided any other food that might contain either sugar or starch, in particular bread, milk, beer, sweets, and potatoes. Despite a considerable allowance of alcohol in Banting's regimen—four or five glasses of wine each day, a cordial every morning, and an evening tumbler of gin, whisky, or brandy—Banting dropped thirty-five pounds by the following May and fifty pounds by early 1864.
Which is, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration persists in telling us, highly improbable.

If, like me, you're disinclined to believe most of what your government tells you, you will enjoy this book. Followed by a nice porterhouse steak.

First Into Nagasaki: The Censored Eyewitness Dispatches on Post-Atomic Japan and Its Prisoners of War by George Weller

This is a story at first censored, and then lost. Anthony Weller tells of the finding:
Six months after he died, in his whitewashed Italian villa gazing out on a sun-blasted sea, I discovered them... In a mildewed wooden crate, apparently unopened since being shipped over from Cyprus and perhaps only opened once since 1945, among sheaf after thick sheaf of miraculously preserved typescripts from the final months of the Pacific war, I at last found the missing carbons: crumbling, moldy, brown with age, but still afire with all they had to say. For the last decades of his life they had been waiting twenty feet from where he sat, ever more faintly remembering.
Restored to life: the eyewitness dispatches of Pulitzer prize-winning reporter George Weller, as fresh as the day he wrote them.

The Second World War by John Keegan

In the foreword Professor Keegan contends that it never really ended.
...the Second World War, or at least its undeniable consequences, persists to this day, particularly in the Middle East....

To understand the world in which we live and which modern statesmen labour to keep at peace we have therefore to understand the Second World War. It was the largest and most complex war ever fought, involving all the countries which then composed the community of nations... and many which did not yet exist. It was the war which, by weakening the power of the old empires, gave them the opportunity to come into being; but it was also the war which bequeathed the troubles with which many are still afflicted, and which leaves them at odds against each other and often divided against themselves.
To understand the present, therefore, we must first understand the past. You could spend three college terms studying the Second World War and it would still be called a "survey course" — the barest framework upon which to build. For the autodidactic historian John Keegan provides an excellent textbook.

Moment of Truth in Iraq by Michael Yon

Independent journalist and former Green Beret Michael Yon has probably spent more time embedded with the troops in Iraq than anyone else. Like many others at the beginning of 2007 he was discouraged:
Al Qaeda and associates had little or no presence in Iraq before the current war. But we made huge mistakes early on and now we pump blood and gold into the desert to pay for those blunders. We failed to secure the streets and we sowed doubt and mistrust. We disbanded the government and the army and we created a vacuum. We tolerated corruption and ineptitude and mostly local talent filled the ranks of an insurgency....
But now in a remarkable turnaround under the leadership of General David Petraeus, we and the Iraqi people are winning again. This is the story of that reversal, that moment of truth, in Iraq.

Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties by Peter Collier and David Horowitz

Should Barack Obama win the nomination &mdash and that is not yet certain — we will no doubt hear a great deal more about his friends Billy Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.
More than anyone else, Ayers and Dohrn embody the odd mix of characters and politics that propelled Weatherman onto the center stage of the American scene in the late Sixties, a strange and frightened augury even for those hypertrophied times.
Collier and Horowitz would know. They were there, editor and writer for Ramparts magazine, the premiere propaganda organ of the New Left. They went on to have second thoughts and wrote this history of that "decade overrated and unmourned." Ayers and Dohrn, on the other hand, have yet to express any regrets.

Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream by Jay Stevens

The flip side of the political revolution was the psychedelic revolution:
The hippies actually seemed to think they could subvert America with flowers and a few bags of the most powerful psychochemical ever discovered. How absurd! And yet they seemed so sure of themselves, they really seemed to believe that within ten years America would be a totally turned-on country, full of bodhisattvas instead of bankers. . . . It was laughable, but nobody was laughing.

Like all moments of high drama, the psychedelic movement was part tragedy, part comedy, one of those rich tapestries of coincidence and misdirection that bolster our belief that fiction is often a pale reflection of reality.
Tom Wolfe's Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test provides a fine snapshot, but for a more thorough history this book by Jay Stevens has no equal.

Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck

In September 1960 John Steinbeck set off on a road trip.
There was some genuine worry about my traveling alone, open to attack, robbery, assault. It is well known that our roads are dangerous. And here I admit I had senseless qualms. It is some years since I have been alone, nameless, friendless, without any of the safety one gets from family, friends, and accomplices. There is no reality in the danger. It's just a very lonely, helpless feeling at first—a kind of desolate feeling. For this reason I took one companion on my journey—an old French gentleman poodle known as Charley. Actually his name is Charles le Chien. He was born in Bercy on the outskirts of Paris and trained in France, and while he knows a little poodle-English, he responds quickly only to commands in French. Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down.
And if you're ever in Salinas, stop by The National Steinbeck Center. Rocinante has been fully restored and placed on display.

A Prediction

Harriet Christian, Clinton supporter.
I was a second-class citizen before and now I'm nothing. Why? Because they want to do what they want to do. And they think we won't turn and vote for McCain. Well, I got news for all of you. McCain will be the next president of the United States.
YouTube here.