Sunday, July 31, 2011
For the last three days I've simply been messing about in boats.
And as you know there's nothing — absolutlely noting — half so much worth doing.
The rest of the world will have to wait.
In a superb new book, "Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of Millennial Experience," Boston University's Richard Landes notes just how pervasive this kind of impulse has been throughout history and across cultures, and how much its many strains—Christian, Marxist, Islamist, Nazi, environmentalist and so on—have in common. Breivik, Mr. Landes says, was of a piece: "Like many active cataclysmic apocalypticists, he believed that the socio-political world is in huge tension, like tectonic plates about to crack, and if he can set off a small explosion in the right place it will unleash far greater forces." In this sense, Mr. Landes adds, "the thing he resembles most is the people he hates."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) called Sunday for an ethics probe into Democratic U.S. Rep. David Wu following a newspaper report earlier in the day about an alleged unwanted advance in November by Mr. Wu toward a young California woman, the daughter of a longtime Wu supporter.This blog generally avoids sex scandals, believing that they appeal to that side of human nature closer to the chimpanzee than the angels, but when it comes this close to home we can no longer avert our eyes.
Few things in life are more heart-rending than when aging rockers—many presumed long dead—resurface at summer music festivals. These events—zombie-like affairs at which the Monkees or Huey Lewis & the News or Judas Priest are officially exhumed—are largely the work of unscrupulous promoters who pressure geriatric rockers into sneaking away from the nursing home to belt out "Born to Be Wild" one last time. This wrecks Bingo Night for everyone....I wish I could tell you to read it all, but it's behind the paywall. Email me and I'll send you a free link.
Though it is probably true that rock 'n' roll itself will never die, this is not true of rock 'n' rollers themselves. Rockers die all the time. Two of the original members of the band that sang the words "Hope I die before I get old" are dead. One is long dead. Obviously, he got his wish.
Indeed, the single greatest fear at these events is that rock stars who are very much alive and kicking at the beginning of the set might not still be there at the end....
Nothing could be more of a bummer than to attend a reunion of Iron Butterfly or Procul Harum or Steppenwolf or even the Cowsills and look on in horror as the members collapse on stage from heat or fatigue or excessively tight leather pants.
If you take the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test scores and disaggregate USA students by race, we are up there near the top. The indispensable Steve Sailer did the grunt work on the PISA reading scores. Our Asians are as good as Asia's Asians—actually, better than Koreans or Japanese. Our white kids beat everyone else's white kids except Finland's. Our Hispanics outscored all eight Latin American countries. Our black kids trounced Trinidad, the blackest nation on the PISA list.But that's just the teaser. Read on for his conclusion.
Our schools are fine. They are doing as much as can be done with the young people passing through them, with due allowance for race differences in educability. Test scores are as good as they can be. If there is a way to get students scoring significantly better on tests than America's do, no nation on Earth has found that way.
It took nine years from Reagan's "ash heap of history" speech in 1982 until the Soviet Union collapsed, dissolving on December 31, 1991. But collapse it did....Jeffrey Lord in The American Spectator.
Gorbachev, left holding the bag handed down from Lenin, was the last Soviet President.
President Obama, whether he abruptly walks out of future meetings or not, is now immortalized.
America's first black president.
And the last president from the hard-core American Left.
Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one's affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions.And that's all I'm going to say about that.— Judge Learned Hand, 1947
Is it possible that by imitating European policies on labor markets, welfare and taxes, the U.S. has chosen a new, lower GDP trend? If so, it may be that the weak recovery we have had so far is all the recovery we will get.
The day is long past when any but a handful of writers could make a living from short stories, but hundreds, even thousands, of hard-working and prolific authors used to do so.... But the mass-market magazines that published several stories an issue are almost all gone. They appealed to readers who now watch movies and television or play computer games full of simulated violence....The Big Book of Adventure Stories, edited by Otto Penzler.
Characters may be thin as paper, heroic stereotypes incapable of development—it is of no importance if the story moves as fast as a river in spate. Adventure stories take us back to our earliest youth, as a species and as individuals: Once upon a time a traveler rode over the crest of a hill and saw a valley lying below him.
Otto Penzler has ranged far and wide to make this anthology. (What fun he must have had!) It is divided into 11 sections: Sword & Sorcery; Megalomania Rules; Man vs. Nature; Island Paradise; Sand and Sun; Something Feels Funny; Go West, Young Man; Future Shock; I Spy; Yellow Peril; In Darkest Africa. Much of it is, as Mr. Penzler happily warns readers, politically most incorrect.
If you have been born and raised in the USA, race is never far from your mind. Native Americans—people like my kids—have a mental Race Buzzer that goes off in a thousand different contexts and whose purpose is to drown out certain kinds of thoughts. The darn thing's on a hair trigger. If you were raised in some other place where race was a thing people hardly ever thought about, this is really hard to get used to.John Derbyshire in Taki's Magazine. Worth reading in its entirety.
Robots created by William "Red" Whittaker have crawled into mines and volcanoes, crossed deserts, won a 60-mile road race, helped clean up nuclear waste and harvested alfalfa. He has sheaves of academic awards and more than a dozen U.S. patents. "I have a very robot-centric view of the universe," he said.His inspiration? Among other things, an essay by Orville Wright.
Now the 63-year-old professor of robotics at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University is gambling on his boldest venture yet: designing and making a spacecraft capable of carrying one of his robots to the moon.
Mr. Whittaker and a band of students are among 29 teams vying for the Google Lunar X Prize, which will award $20 million to the first privately funded team whose robot reaches the moon, travels 500 meters and flashes data back to the Earth. Though no one on his team has ever made a spacecraft, Mr. Whittaker is undaunted by his goal of reaching the moon in April 2014.