Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Proper Dissection

On Milton Friedman's birthday, let me point to this analysis of the shabby and worthless 'thinking' of many University of Chicago faculty.

Milton Friedman stood for freedom, social, political, and economic. He realized that they are inextricably linked. If the government controls your job or your business, dissent is impossible. He favored, among other things, legalizing drugs, school choice, and volunteer army. To call him or his political legacy “right wing” is simply ignorant, and I mean that also as a technically accurate description rather than a casual insult. (Of course, he also has a legacy in the economics community as a first-rate researcher, which is what the MFI will do and honor.)

So here’s my question: If you’re embarrassed by this legacy, if you worry that it will tarnish the University’s reputation, just what is it that you good-thinking guys and gals have against human freedom?

Bombardier meet Bastiat

Bombardier is a subsidy project run by Canadian governments for many years (nothing has changed since this article) (I hate their airplanes, and love the ones from Embraer, the company they use as a foreign subsidized manufacturer to justify their farcical theft of my money - seems to me it is very generous of Brazilian taxpayers to subsidize my air travel, but I do not welcome reciprocation). This lovely letter from the Montreal Gazette is the perfect skewering.

The bottom line is of course:

But it doesn't matter what you think. You have no choice. My good friend the politician will make you lend me the money. If you refuse, he'll send you to jail. He thinks it's a good project. After all, who are you to know what to do with your money?

(h/t Cafe Hayek)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not Silly, Sinister and Obstructive

Mark Collins describes it excellently. I feel ashamed of my country, though it is not important enough to really justify that feeling.

Actually, there isn't that much need to blame ourselves. We weren't in at the kill (unlike Australia), no doubt in part because we were considered a hopeless case.

I can only shake my head and regret being a Canadian.

Mark's bottom line is dead right, and of course sarcastic (just for those readers who might not get that).

Remind me about the great leadership role the world is lusting for Canada to assume.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama in Berlin

Via the Berliner Morgenpost, we get a little more understanding of why 200,000 Berliners would go to hear an American running for his nomination speak.

Die Rede soll gegen 19 Uhr beginnen und bis etwa 20 Uhr dauern. Einlass auf das Veranstaltungsgelände ist ab 16 Uhr. Ab 16 Uhr beginnt der Einlass zum Obama-Spektakel auf der Straße des 17. Juni. Für die Zuschauer, die weiter hinten stehen, wurden Großbildleinwände aufgebaut.
Um die Wartezeit bis zu der Rede des Präsidentschaftskandidaten zu verkürzen wurde eine zweite Bühne aufgebaut, auf der das musikalische Rahmenprogramm stattfinden soll. Der deutsche Reggeasänger Patrice und die deutsche Pop-Band Reamonn treten dort ab 17.30 auf. Davor und in den Pausen legt der britische Diskjockey Mantu auf. Imbiss- und Getränkestände sind ebenfalls aufgebaut - das Areal ist zur Obama-Fabnmeile umgerüstet worden.

Fairly free translation: "The speech will begin around 7pm and last till about 8pm. Admission to the site starts at 4pm. At 4pm the gates on the 17th of June Street will open for the Obama-show. For spectators who are stuck in the back there will be big TV screens.
To shorten the waiting time there will be a second stage, with a musical program. The German Raggae singer and the German Pop-Band Reamonn weill appear starting at 5:30pm. Before that and in the pauses between sets the British DJ Mantu will be playing. Food and drink kiosks will be there as well - the area is being converted to an Obama-fan-area". (Last bit a bit confusing to me as I have no idea whether there is a real word "Fabnmeile".)

In the end, I now know how he could fill Mile-High-stadium for the blessing that will be his nomination speech. What bands will be there? I would cheer for the Eagles but he seems to lean to the younger set.

All of which makes Gerard Baker's exasperated performance on FOX News even funnier.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Fish in a Barrel

The best magic show I ever saw was one by Penn and Teller in Toronto many years ago, and the real pleasure in it was their exposure of our vulnerabilities, making sure the audience knew how they had been fooled.

Lately they appear on a cable TV show, "Bullshit!", which has quite good episodes exposing exactly what the title says in a variety of areas.

On the other hand, I was a bit worried when I heard they had decided to take on global warming. They are very strong libertarians, and so I feared a lot of denialist hype. In the end, the show is well worth watching - though it is largely ad hominem against the rather feeble-minded homines who tend to be out there marching and protesting.

Still, at least one line stands out, and it is part of their main point that environmentalism is the place the socialists have had to go with their main political point utterly discredited:

We're not going to say there are no good arguments for socialism, but the environment isn't one of them.

Anyone who has seen Eastern Europe will understood this. (Which is an entertaining side point - one of the many silly films I have tried to watch is the pseudo-documentary "The Corporation", to which I stopped paying attention when they showed mass smokestacks and attributed this to corporate law. I did keep watching and the intellectual quality did not improve - the emotional quality shows in the IMDB score at the link above.)

I love the Dihydrogen monoxide section - it is a cheap shot but the real point is that cheap shots work here. As do several others. But the ultimate question should be why do the major media passively report such stupid protests and not try the Dihydrogen monoxide sting?

The answer is lack of any intellectual rigor at all, of course.

Watch the video - it is fun.

Penn and Teller - Bullshit! - Environmental Hysteria

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Animal Picture Blogging

I don;t intend to be in much today so let me just point to this major cuteness.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I Wish I Could Do This

Or ever could have!

And those guys were the laggards! Everybody else was awake and trying to figure out what to do.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After the Rain

Not all of the water has reached the ground.

Ashbridge's Bay, July 21, 2008, around 7:15 am

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Context Makes a Lot of Difference


jumped out a bit at me, on a shipping order, as I realized these peanuts would interest no squirrel or bird of any wit.

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Apathy to Fight For!

Bryan Caplan says it perfectly:

Apathy may not be a virtue, but it's a lot better than the activism of the irrational.

And of course those motivated to be activists are almost always irrational!

Life and Death Struggle on the Back Deck

At this point I thought it was about a peanut, and was impressed at the ingenuity of the attack.

Later it became clearer that the victim might not be a peanut.

I think the bird won out in the end, after trying a few other approaches, including throwing its quarry down onto the deck, perhaps in the hope of stunning it. (Which likely would not help with a peanut.)

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Does the NY Times deserve less editorial control than MacLeans?

Which was how I was going to start a response to this, and then re-realized it contained nothing objectionable.

I certainly have every right to complain in any blog or newspaper column about someone else's editorial choices. What I oppose is the state being brought in to dictate what the NY Times should and should not print.

And so far at least the US is not quite a country in which that is trying to become routine. (Well, at least two instances now.)

Small Ambiguities

... with a potential to be unsettling.

As I was on the fourth floor, my initial reading of this sign disturbed me.

Of course it is in the end clear that they mean do not get on the elevator when the hotel is on fire, not that the elevator might cause one.

(Although with the ceilings all falling because of the air conditioning ...)

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Ashbridge's Bay, July 16, 2008, around 7 am

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Linda Grant on sorry recruitment

Over at Norm's Blog, Linda Grant captures a perspective it took me a while when younger to grasp.

Kuntar fits no model of the impoverished refugee driven to despair by occupation. Nor can he be seen within the context of Iranian-backed Islamism. When he emerged from prison last week it was as a relic of a bygone age: of that era of self-appointed middle-class revolutionaries, like the Weather Underground and Baader-Meinhof Gang.
Drawn to political organizations of the far left and far right, they are people who have the passion and the excitement for violence, the glamour of violence. Those who are motivated by a desire for the alleviation of poverty or the redressing of injustice, lack the thirst for blood.

This remains the great problem in the Middle East - the prominence of the cult of death ("Viva la Muerte!") among the Palestinians (including Fatah) and in Lebanon. It is the Bonnie and Clyde approach to 'rebellion'.

There is no chance for civil society where Kuntar is lionized as a a hero.

And while the Weather Underground may be relics of a bygone era, you can expect some of those relics to play a visible role, and rightly, I think, in the upcoming US Presidential Campaign. (Well, at least until slick Barry tosses Dohrn and Ayers under the train too - I think he has tried but not in convincing enough ways yet.)

(Disclosure: I continue to be most likely to cast my foreigner's virtual meaningless vote to Obama, but the currency is sinking fast. Lucky for Obama the competition is not so great at the moment.)

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The Itch

Oh yes that is bothering me.

OK that is fixed, and the itch now is for more of those juicy peanuts I know are hiding behind those (ha-ha) 'squirrel-proof' screens.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Simple Delights - Weekend Animal Blogging

While Rondi's lion cubs are darling, for me the topper right now is from Jeffrey Shalit (whose blog is often more weighty than this post might suggest, and always entertaining), and it is utterly touching - so many contributions, from the great Overstreet-Schlitz song sung by Alison Krauss in the background, the sheer delight in such a great and simple pleasure, and the fact that is one of the young 'uns who discovered the simple pleasure. It almost makes me tear up. (UPDATE: ambiguity alert - I mean develop tears.)

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Soulpepper's Congreve's "The Way of the World"

As part of the big family weekend an army of us got to look almost up the actors' skirts from a front row seat and watch the Soulpepper production of "The Way of the World".
The production is uncompromising in significant ways in that the actors speak rapid-fire in early eighteenth-century prose, but there was NO problem with family viewers between almost 60 and 16 laughing at the comedy.
One would always assume this would be a fine ensemble performance - as it was - all the roles became significant and crucial as the play proceeded, and it was in the end very compelling. I must admit I was most taken by Caroline Cave, whom I recall, back in the days when we still went to Canadian Stage productions, from "Trying", which I recall quite liking, or more accurately, I recall liking her!.
Diana Donnelly, who got the most minor role in last year's (and this year's?) "Top Girls", got a nice place too and did a great job. Tanja Jacobs had all of us fully engaged in the comedy.
Chuck Tchobanian, excellent as ever though apparently slipping over a couple of lines, and Nancy Palk shared the villain roles

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Silly Little City - Summer

This National Post editorial captures something about this city perfectly.

You get the sense that if it could, the city would call in the military to install giant umbrellas to guard us all from the sun's rays.
I am sweating ...[ed. expunged very local joke], berating myself for deciding to wear jeans and not shorts. Maybe the city should issue extreme pants alerts. Then again, most people seem to be wearing shorts, skirts or summer dresses. Most people have sense.
CP24 anchor Teresa Kruze says "it is dangerously hot out there." The temperature displayed in the weather box to her immediate right says it is 28C. Get ready give a high-pitched scream in horrified shock: It's July and the sun's out!
Inside Metro Hall, there is a sign directing visitors to the "emergency cooling centre," with letters in an appropriately frost-tipped font. Get ready for some sweet, sweet cooling action. I get a paper cup filled with room-temperature water. Besides two people ready to hand out water, I am the only person at the three tables at the cooling centre.

I work regularly with people who live in Southern California and Texas, and while it is true that sometimes we have somewhat annoying humidity that is less normal there, I tend to be somewhat embarrassed by our heat alerts.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Luiza Savage hits this perfectly

I do know that she is from Macleans' but she might still be right.

Neat Stuff I Had Not Seen

From the weekend baseball game - a nice pre-game ceremony vaguely reminding me of the World Cup and European Cup championship games, where the players are accompanied out onto the field by children - this is the Junior Jays Program, and a lovely thing it is!

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I Confess to Disappointment

This is a tad disappointing.

But really only because it takes some of the puff out of the fucking Matt Damon theme.

And Kimmel responded nicely with this:

However tasteful this stuff is, it is a far cry beyond anything our Canadian networks could produce and play. This is one reason I remain totally perplexed at the perception in Canada that we have some freedom of expression unmatched in the religious US. I have not understood this notion ever, having lived in both countries.


Again Saturday morning, July 13, 2008 at Ashbridge's Bay, foggy, but what promise. Just look at it. Volleyball players everywhere! (45 courts had been set up.) As documented in previous posts, I had other activities to engage in. I hope it was not the Olympic Trials!

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Monday, July 14, 2008


In a previous post I mentioned family considerations, which amounted to a visit from antipodean relatives. They chose to stay in one of Toronto's finest traditional hotels, an appropriate place for tourists, as they now are here (as I am an antipodean where they live!).
So what is more appropriate as well than the hotel being behind scaffolding (the overexposed white bits)?

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Visiting the SkydomeRogers Centre Again

I have not seen a Blue Jays game in a long time, but family considerations took me to the Skydome again on Saturday. I have never been a giant Michael Snow fan, but his iconic sports fans remain one of my favorite Toronto fixtures - I think I like them a little more than the Geese in the Eaton Centre.

You can see the geese here:
(ED: If this link is not working, just chase the Michael Snow link above.)
So maybe I am at least a bit of a Michael Snow fan.
Minor update: another part of the family outing logs some fun from the game here.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Morning Walk, July 13, 2008

Ashbridge's Day, foggy.

Ducklings! They were hanging around two or three female Mallards, but nobody seemed to care much about these ducklings. A Mallard female has to be VERY lucky to produce ducklings given the holy war that Toronto's Parks Department carries out against them and the Canada Geese. This is the second set of Mallard ducklings I have seen this year down on the bay. The other family was down to one. I am not sure if these poor little creatures have an adult who cares about them.

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CP24 tells me that two of the five feet that have washed up on the shores of BC are a match and from the same person. Should I tune in and see whether they can get up to three?

It reminds me a bit of the LA shootout involving the Symbionese Liberation Army in LA, and the initial announcement from the authorities that one of the two dead women was not Patty Hearst. Well, yeah. I knew that before they had done any investigation!

And to be fair, in this BC case, the match they report was not a tautology. I hope it gets figured out. Especially with feet showing up in Sweden too!

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Saturday, July 12, 2008


Picture-taking in Europe, at least for me, has been utterly thwarted by scaffolding. And hey this is good - they are fixing stuff.

In my group's trip to Neuschwanstein we were thrilled at the number of pictures we could get undiluted by scaffolding. Of course then we got to the shots from the Marienbruecke - and now take a good look. Grrrr.

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More from the Schwangau time - Fuessen

Can anyone explain this to me? Is this the hyper-sophisticated European culture Barack Obama gives fealty to?

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Its Mother Surely Loves It

An American Coot baby on the Dutzendteich in Nueremberg. So ugly the camera's autofocus cannot work.

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I am still working through the recent short vacation trip with my Texan friends.

This picture is from the Schwangau phase of the trip. I would feel a lot better about this if I ever saw a swan doing this. Of course, I doubt Nueremberger women did what their statue shows.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Iranian missiles - Story - initially just silly - is now funny

Charles Johnson was the first person I saw spot this fraud. (He is a great resource - a prime contributor to the exposure of Dan Rather so long ago.)

But I have to confess it is Brian Ledbetter who got me laughing about it!

What makes this most delicious is that the Iranians were simply trying to cover up the fact that one missile had not actually taken off.

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Barack is misleading? Oh No!

Megan McArdle points to this funny article in the New York Times, surely an outfit generally oriented to getting Mr. Obama elected. Her reaction is dead right.

A politician? Painting himself in the most politically convenient light? My God, pass the sleeping pills--I've lost my faith in humanity, and with it, my will to live.

(Continuing disclosure. He has my virtual vote, which I cannot cast. My view is his foreign policy stuff is totally dumb, but could not possibly survive election. I have fear that after Bush's eight years of mismanagement of the economy, McCain's intention to continue such mismanagement is only too achievable. So Obama is still my guy, total liar or not!)

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How Did I Miss This?

Hat tip to P. Z. Myers, and I amazed I know only today about this wonderful ceremony.

The Monty Python team remain consistent with their patterns. "Anything for him but mindless good taste."

I have not blogged on the death of George Carlin, whom I miss, but these guys press some of the same issues.

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Cars and Bicycles

As one who travels using both these media, I think the content of this post from Megan McArdle makes stunningly good sense, though I sure do not understand the title, since in fact the sensible behaviors she suggests for all parties are not remotely the rules (well, except for the cars). Even on a bike, I tend to follow the rules, coming awfully close to full stops at red lights and stop signs - that's the rule, and she is right that it does not make a lot of sense.

In the end the problem is that by showing contempt for the rules, bicyclists invite equal contempt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

One Can Hardly Help Laughing

This is sadly too true.

Those Midwesterners are SO contrary!

US Election as Entertainment

The last couple were a lot of fun, and this one promises to be as good as its predecessors.

The Republican candidate appears to be determinedly lining up behind idiotic economic policies.

The Democrat looks as if he has better economic advisers, but he just is so full of himself he cannot stop saying really dumb things.

So he spoke out on language learning recently and produced what I would call some howlers.

Now, I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that. But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English -- they'll learn English -- you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about, how can your child become bilingual.

The justification?

You know, it's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe, and all we can say [is], "Merci beaucoup." Right?

The sheer self-satisfied stupidity of this is beyond my ability to grasp.

Note that his translation of having your child become bilingual is to have the child learn Spanish. Huh? And his example of what little we know is French? So look, I have really been pleased about my second (and third and fourth etc) language learning. But heavens, this is largely an enjoyable luxury.

And then on to the canards. I have had Europeans visit me - they are my in-laws. They do not speak English worth anything! Moreover, I am freshly back from a trip in Europe where I became a resource because I could speak German - the myth that all the Euros could speak English was a disaster for many people. And that was in Germany.

Obama recommends Spanish! If you want to find a European country full of people with ZERO foreign-language skills, go to Spain! Even Latin Americans are largely useless trying to speak English, at least in my experience. French and Germans are WAY better, and they are not so great either. Only someone who has simply not tried to learn the other language could be impressed by the normal skills in English of those on the European continent.

I will except Norwegians - who stunned me during the time I was there. They utterly justified my decision to put NO time into learning any Norwegian before visiting Oslo. But they are the utter exception on the continent.

I wonder which other languages Obama has mastered. My guess is none, though here is a suggestion otherwise. Another case of big talk, no content. There will be many more.

We have months ahead of us! And I thought Canada was silly!

Silly Little Canadians - nice that some foreigners take some of them seriously

OK look I live in this silly little country so have had a long exposure to the jokes that are Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein. So it barely crosses my mind thinking it is worth the trouble to respond to her 'arguments'.

But on the other hand it is rather sweet that someone thinks it is worth pointing out, rather totally redundantly, that she has no facts to get straight. Still it is worth a watch, and I thank Johan Norberg for the trouble.

He has a good blog - go read it, even if refuting Naomi Klein is basically a no-op.

And Then There Were Five

It has taken a few days since my return to find them, but I did at last today. Five of the seven cygnets have survived, and they seem to have picked up the rather regal posture of their parents already!


My problem with 'reality' shows has been that they do not reflect the reality of daily life in civilized society, but rather create zero-sum situations for the participants. And get the appropriate behaviors!

Hat tip to Jackie Danicki, this is truly a wonderful summation of all that is wrong with such shows, and why I cannot bother to watch any of them (except occasional episodes of The Apprentice, and of course Omarosa shows up in this).

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Some Fun With Obama

At the moment I would still vote for him. But really, one should not view this guy as somehow a transformation of the political world; he is lining up to be just what one would expect - a slick Barry.

More German Playground Puckishness

Though I suspect this one might have scared me as a kid.

Photo courtesy of my recent traveling companions, taken when they were on their own! (Shot in Ernst, near Cochem.)

A Lovely Story

Again from TED - choose some time and watch.

Animal (Cat) Post - purrfet

Check this out.

Animal Post - Michael Vick's Dogs

I had never thought about this, and I am so glad Jonah Lehrer followed up on it.

More than a year after being confiscated from Vick's property, Leo, a tan, muscular pit bull, dons a colorful clown collar and visits cancer patients as a certified therapy dog in California. Hector, who bears deep scars on his chest and legs, recently was adopted and is about to start training for national flying disc competitions in Minnesota. Teddles takes orders from a 2-year-old. Gracie is a couch potato in Richmond who lives with cats and sleeps with four other dogs.

Monday, July 07, 2008

If it was Monday it was those Bavarian Palaces

I knew Neuschwanstein would be a party but I was much more impressed by Hohenschwangau - at least it got finished, and based itself on old medieval themes rather than simply on Wagner operas (don't get me wrong - I have DVDs of almost all of them - my economic reach, unlike Ludwig II's, at least for a while).

Monarch Sighting!

A Monarch butterfly fluttered through the backyard today. It completely ignored the milkweed growing so proudly. But they have reached us!

The Best-Laid Plans

My recent vacation trip through parts of Germany was carefully planned. One key point was that while we were uncertain (rightly) about the availability of parking at the hotel we had booked in Rothenburg, we did know that there was a parking lot not far from the hotel, the Spitaltorparkplatz.
Little did we know about this:

In the end, the hotel did offer parking! And we had a great time (more posts surely to come.) And the Volksfest was as cheesy as a Christkindlmarkt.

OLPC - Negroponte at TED

Well worth watching - book 20 minutes or so.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Hamas vs Hummus!

Baron Cohen strikes again.

After Alpher and his Palestinian partner found themselves answering other idiotic questions, they started to suspect the sophisticated team of several assistants and three cameras.

In one, the interviewees had to explain the difference between Hamas - an Islamic group ruling Gaza - and hummus - a chickpea paste eaten throughout the Mideast.

Of course in the process the AP insults hummus, one of the finest foods known to man.

More Nueremberg

I must say I am impressed with the explicitness of their water fountain sculptures. I am not sure I would see this in Toronto.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Steve Levitt and Car Seats at TED

He himself feels terrible about this presentation but I find him quite compelling and entertaining.

More than that, it is a serious attempt to get to some truth, against a whole pile of interests stacked against such a project.

Go watch it here.

OK Monarchs - we are waiting!

This is shot from down at the Beach.

In my yard I have even taller more inviting plants.
I have yet to see a Monarch this year. Maybe this weekend!?

If It was Monday it must have been Rothenburg

... ob der Tauber!

What a lovely town, but also what an unexpected delicious touristic moment.

An American touring band was playing in the Marktplatz and I was lucky enough to settle in to watch a couple of their last numbers. A request had been submitted, for 'anything by Sousa' (I might have asked for some Kenneth Alford). In any case, the conductor came forward to announce they would honor the request, but that he would not conduct - rather, he said there was someone in the audience who could conduct, and he invited this person up - as it turned out, a guy who looked to be in his seventies or eighties, walking with a cane, and full of spirit. He did come up and did conduct 'The Washington Post march', superbly, to the enormous enthusiasm of the audience in the plaza.

A sweet moment. I have no idea who the conductor in the end was, maybe part of a family following this American band, but it hardly mattered. Everybody found it utterly delightful.

The Star takes note

... of Oliver Schroer.

A nice article, and apparently shared with him shortly before his death.

Paul Wells finds the Human Story

... in this sad sequence.

What I find stunning is the audience vote. These are those oh-so-sophisticated Europeans, who sneer at American creationists (I do too, but I know the answer!).

Paul's pained by it

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Friday, July 04, 2008

Puffery from Mr. Obama

It amazes me that the Obama campaign has the gall to put on its site and article ending with this howler.

Obama added, "I will not question the patriotism of others in this campaign."

The language is hilarious, and of course a little sleazy. "Others in this campaign". Huh? Who else is in this campaign? Oh right, the guy who spent years in the captivity of the Viet Cong. Very noble not to challenge his patriotism. And let me get it right, somebody's wife is only now finding pride in the country? Great.

It reminds me of this lovely spoof.

(My favorite bit is "Involved with Torture".)

(Disclosure - had I a vote today, I would lean to Obama - his stated policies so far are marginally less stupid than those of McCain and I have faith he would produce a better body of advisers, as Clinton certainly did compared to Bush, in most policy areas - Clinton was of course hopeless on national security. And I have no particular expectation of honesty from these candidates - I view Obama as a standard Richard Daley type Chicago politician who has found a slick way to engage the naive - this does not mean he would be a disaster - on the contrary.)

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I hope Rondi knows about this!

Benedict's shoes are one-offs!

If it's Saturday it must be Nueremberg

After the long time you may have inferred I spent in lovely Darmstadt, I hit the road with friends to visit some other German sites I had never before visited.

Stop 1 was Nueremberg.

Now there are classic things in Nueremberg but my favorite site was this slightly transgressive piece, set in a square just opposite the "Albrecht-Duerer Haus" (which we did not explore as it appeared to have nothing of interest in it) - the claim is that this statue is modeled on Duerer's famous rabbit picture. I think the sculptor is amusing but he is no David Cerny.

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July 4

Happy Birthday USA.

All the best to my many USAian friends and colleagues.

And go check out another family greeting for you all.

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Animal Post of the Day - Otters running amok in Petaluma

h/t The Amateur Economist

Go check it out here.

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That Offensive Tayside Puppy

You have undoubtedly seen several news items or posts about the poor puppy but this is my favourite one, largely for MapMaster's excellent analysis in the last sentence.

One could throw a thousand stones or more in a crowd of Canadian Muslims before striking even just one who is outraged by a picture of a dog, but then our own diversity advisors and human rights commissions have only recently begun to prevail upon Muslims to posture for them.

Give people a job, however useless, and they will contrive to grow it.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oliver Schroer RIP

I first saw Oliver Schroer many years ago at Harbourfront, on a weekend themed around the violin. He was a violinist and a fiddler, and utterly unique.

Over the last years he has shared with the rest of us his idiosyncratic career, including a wonderful walk along the route to Santiago de Compostela, where he played frequently in local churches.

Recently he did a "Last Tour on this Planet" concert, knowing the planned progress of his cancer.

I will miss him terribly; he was one of those crazy Canadian uniques.

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How I Spent a Bit of My Summer Vacation

What must it be like to live where background views like this are more or less routine?

More posts to follow.

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More Free Speech - Australian Version

Canada is not the only place with stupid initiatives.

Norm has the perfect post on the subject.

I quite like the T-shirt suggestions he points to in this article.

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A lovely small part of the Colombian rescue story was a key piece of the disguise the Colombian military used to fool the stupid FARC into thinking they themselves were sympathetic to the FARC - from Betancourt:

The pilots, she said, were posing as members of a relief organization, but "they were dressed like clowns," wearing Che Guevara shirts, so she assumed they were rebels.

Finally, a good use for the image of the murderous Guevara. And I love Betancourt's characterization of the significance of wearing a Che T-shirt. She should know.

(h/t Damian P.)

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Ophelia Loses It (Rightly)

This is just fun (and also enraging - I do hate to think of the total waste of resources pissed away in such endeavours) from start to finish, for anyone who actually cares about what it takes to 'know' something.

Ophelia says, among much else (go read it):

Wordy, jargony, self-admiring, and - clueless. It apparently doesn't even know what 'interstices' means - it seems to think it's a more elegant version of 'intersections.' Anyway, what the hell would an intersection or an interstice 'of epistemology, methodology, metaphysics, ontology, and science and technology studies' be?


There's mainstream epistemology, and then there's Feminist Epistemology (except when there are Feminist Epistemologies). To put it another way, there's rational and then there's raving bat-loony. There's even a course in Feminist Theory: Epistemologies of Ignorance. It's about reading memoirs. They use the word 'Epistemologies' in the title so that it will sound more academic-like. Or something.

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The Little Swan that Could

I know I can get up.

Yes I can!!

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Setting the record straight

For those who might have been concerned about house sparrows as a result of this post, I would like to report that since leaving Darmstadt, traveling over a large part of southern Germany, I can now report seeing very many house sparrows.

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More on Language Tools

OK, look, I have an excuse. I am sitting in Frankfurt Airport waiting for a flight. What else is there to do? Those Language Log guys have another tool problem to report. As they say, the result is 'Honest but unhelpful', at least for those who cannot read the Chinese.

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Oh Those Tools of Ours

This is too delicious for words.

I love the use of 'exuberant' below.

It's a bit ironic that a right-wing news site was the perpetrator of an exuberant search-and-replace, since this phenomenon is typically associated with journalistic PC-ism: everyone seems to know about the apocryphal case of a newspaper changing "back in the black" to "back in the African American." As I discussed in the post "Incorrections in the newsroom: Cupertino and beyond" last February, that all goes back to a practical joke at the Fresno Bee in 1990. In the February post I reproduce some real cases of search-and-replace run rampant, including the unfortunate Reuters report stating that "Queen Elizabeth has 10 times the lifespan of workers and lays up to 2,000 eggs a day."

UPDATE: Here's another honey.

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Nights in airport hotels are usually dull things; I have just been undergoing one at the behest of a very generous Air Canada (it was entirely voluntary on my part - Air Canada's persuasive skills were impressive).

Last night proved to be absolutely delightful, as CNN played Alvaro Uribe's hostage festival through the Central European Time evening, a festival held on the occasion of the rescue (I note the word 'release' is occasionally used, but this word misleadingly suggests good behaviour on the part of FARC) of 15 hostages from FARC custody, including Ingrid Betancourt.

This is a great triumph for relative law and order, and a magnificent and well-deserved humiliation for the FARC.

Even Sarko got some air time with the Betancourt family.

In the end it appears this Colombian sting makes FARC look as stupid and puffed up as I imagine their leaders generally are.

It has been moving hearing from the hostages and from the military leaders. The raid/rescue was a marvelous operation, and I am sure we will learn a lot more over the next few days. For now, there is a very nice description of some initial understanding of what happened.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Five Fingers

The Jugendstil aspect is clearer close up.

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Making the Clintons look Scrupulous!

Charles Krauthammer observes with wonder the media response to Obama's flip-flopping on issues.

Like him, I regard all the changes so far as in the right direction, and had assumed these were changes in position that would come with his nomination. But the lefties?

Why, the man even tossed his own grandmother overboard back in Philadelphia -- only to haul her back on deck now that her services are needed. Yesterday, granny was the moral equivalent of the raving Reverend Wright. Today, she is a featured prop in Obama's fuzzy-wuzzy get-to-know-me national TV ad.

Not a flinch. Not a flicker. Not a hint of shame. By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Chapel in a Nicer Light

I was able to visit again with the sun a lot lower and it sure makes for a purty little church.

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Happy Birthday, Silly Little Country!

141 years and counting! Pretty impressive.