Saturday, January 31, 2009

When you Have an Agenda you Need to Stick to It

John Hinderaker has caught it.
A very nice contradiction between an AP headline and the real story.

If President Obama has said anything about today's elections, I haven't seen it. There doesn't seem to be anything on the subject on the White House's web page, which features lies about Lilly Ledbetter. Congratulations, anyway, to the people of Iraq.

Churlish of Obama at best, though we may have both missed the report on his delighted speech.
To give credit to the NY Times, their headline is rather different:
Under Tight Security, Elections Are Calm in Iraq

They perhaps ought to mention what even the CBC has reported is that the security is almost entirely Iraqi security.
But that might not fit!


I guess i compartmentalize more than Larry Moran.
Though I will say that I find Ben Stein's clear commitment to creationism a sign that his brain could work a lot better, it seems to me that the University of Vermont can simply give him some exposure, using the press release Moran cites, and this need hardly expose that University as having endorsed Ben Stein's creationism.
In fact, from other experience in other areas, I think in a way it is good to drag such people into the public eye in new ways; I suspect Larry could help get a demonstration in place for the event that could distribute flyers informing attendees about the 'other' bits of Ben Stein. Maybe that is the agenda of his post.
If the University of Vermont chose to suppress that I might feel differently. (And I do despair from reports I read of free speech and fuller disclosure at Universities.)
I would also try to stack the audience with people who would hiss or boo gently whenever one of his idiotic ideas (and they do not just come from biology) might be expressed from his podium. Don't shout him down - just get a significant body into the audience who know about him.
And, maybe Larry is right here:

The University of Vermont has every right to award honorary degrees to anyone they want. That's what academic freedom is all about. The downside is that the University of Vermont will be judged by who they choose to get an honorary degree. That judgment is not going to be favorable.

Is This Talent or What?

Look at the pictures first.
I am sure I once knew what an agouti was, likely in high school, when I knew so much more than I do now. But I am sure I did not know this:
One of the few animals capable of breaking open the pods of the Brazil nut tree, they have a symbiotic relationship with the tree.

I gave up years ago on Brazil nuts because even with all the tooling I could find for opening the pods, I had a low success rate. I have committed never to getting a cat, but maybe a community of agoutis in the basement could provide me a good supply of the actual nuts, if I provided them a place to bury nuts. Then they could have a symbiotic relationship with me. I would supply them pods from the local bulk foods store.
The sure look cute. This jumping skill also sounds interesting. I assume its to deal with some predator, but maybe that is just a just-so story.

Scott points to some appallingly Grim Humour

The unions start cashing in. Looking more and more like Chicago, which provides at least some change, and as for hope, your mileage may vary. Mickey Kaus' analysis is quoted.
What if the contract got switched because the previous work force, you know, sucked? ... P.S.: For example, the Obama administration itself can be seen as having won a new contract to perform the same Federal services, at the same location, as the previous contractor, the Bush Administration. Did Obama keep all of Bush's employees in order to reduce "disruption" and enjoy "the benefits of an experienced and trained work force that is familiar with the Federal Governments ... facilities"? I don't think so! ...

Obama did keep one. But I agree with Kaus. And actually, so far as I have seen in developed countries in these times, the main purpose of unions is in fact to defend workers who suck.

Thanks for the Sleep, Darina and Serena

Given a final match victory under an hour by Serena Williams, I was of two minds.
I was disappointed that the match was a blowout.
But I am elated that the Australian Open gave me back an hour and a half of sleep.
I expect to need it for Federer-Nadal.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Stanley Fish?

I used to read literary criticism or what called itself that - sometimes it made my reading of books much richer. I recall that a reading of William Empson's "Seven Types of Ambiguity" had a large effect on my reading in my twenties, especially of poetry, and encouraged such reading.
I have not found much motivation to read what describes itself as literary criticism in recent years, and I am astonished to find that Stanley Fish of all people has my problem.
But a quotation from an article about a recent speech he gave a Brown University offers this gist of his argument. “Professors ‘shouldn't be trying to reform the characters of their students, or teaching for social justice, or producing exemplary citizens for a democratic society.’ Teachers are not meant to be experts at any of these tasks, he insisted; they are credentialed in their areas of scholarship and therefore should only be concerned with transmitting to their students a body of knowledge and the analytical skills of their disciplines. Beliefs are meant to be evaluated in the academy, he emphasized, not to be celebrated or promoted.”

OK maybe not exactly my problem but something a lot like it. Much of the academic humanities profession rant on about scientific reductionism, while imposing a reductionism of their own that is even more difficult to justify. At least the scientists and engineers can lad something on the moon. Though maybe connecting Freud and Marx is also a great techincal achievement!

DISCLOSURE: My understanding is that Empson got a math degree. That may explain something.


I was kept up last night by curling (reminder-not my hair), and was awake by 3:30 am as planned for Verdasco-Nadal, which I thought might nicely fill a couple of hours, as the Federer-Roddick semifinal at the Australian Open had lasted barely over two hours.
I had never heard of Fernando Verdasco until I saw he had beaten Andy Murray (the great hope of the UK, replacing Tim Henman) in a brutal five sets. I watched him defeat the wonderful Jo-Wilfried Tsonga just as I had enjoyed watching Tsonga beat James Blake. It has been a long time since I have been so committed to watching tennis on TV and it is a bit brutal when the Australians put matches in their prime time.
I have NEVER in 40 years of watching tennis seen anything so amazing and wonderful as the Verdasco-Nadal match.
This was a roller-coaster ride that went everywhere and turned on the smallest of things. At one point I assumed Verdasco would simply keel over on court. And after looking a bit like a zombie and surviving the fourth set, he was overwhelming in the tie-break.
Sadly, but also maybe for the moment fittingly, the outcome turned on double faults in the last game by Verdasco, an error he had astonishingly and stubbornly refused to make earlier in the match.
Over five hours of the most punishing tennis I can recall seeing, and both players maintained an excellent disposition - it was a joy to watch Verdasco smiling at some of the most amazing play from Nadal. Verdasco delivered one of the most amazing offensive assaults I have ever seen and Nadal just kept fighting back. Verdasco seemed to almost vanish from the match after going down two sets to one, but did he ever come back, until the last moments.
In my 40 years of watching tennis with delight, I have seen the top level of the sport go through many phases - I watched Borg-McEnroe, as well as even the Laver generation. Often the sport has featured players whose behaviour on court was profoundly unattractive to me.
These two men were a joy to watch and brought me back to the tennis I initially loved, dominated by that Rod Laver generation of Australians. How fitting that this should have been at the Australian Open in the Rod Laver Stadium.
Don't get me wrong - the current generation does not bring me back to the Jimmy Connors era, or thoughts of Ivan Lendl (whom I rather enjoyed). Federer and Nadal have had great fights and have never needed to taunt one another. But the display this morning (in Canada) was truly exceptional - the emergence of a new talent in this way is a delight to watch.
It is great timing for me as I am definitely planning to get back to more determined tennis spectatorship. in the future
Starting at 3:30 am for Safina-Williams! That might be a pretty good slugfest too.
So I am exhausted but plan for more of it. And we have the SuperBowl this weekend too! Oh hey - curling too!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Doc beat me to it

It is incredible how predictable human stupidity is. I heard about this while watching the Australian Open Tennis in the not quite so wee hours this morning.
Good news is Doc spared me the work of ranting on my own:

One of the realities of being an open economy is that fiscal stimuli tend to leak. But trying to plug those leaks can create massive problems, as happened when the US enacted the Smoot-Hawley tariff, thus contributing to the severity of the Great Depression in the 1930s. Do you think the politicians learned anything from that experience?

The short answer is that they likely learned little as they are beholden to constituents with interests at variance with the greater good.
As a small reflection, the match I watched was in Australia, and featured a Swiss playing an American. The other semi-finalists are Spaniards, each of whom defeated a Frenchman to survive the previous round. Perhaps the US Open should allow only players who are US citizens. Sheesh. This is pathetic, and no major surprise.


One of my uncles has long been interested in a person who figures in our family tree and became the husband of Charlotte Bronte. He (the uncle) is an historian and has now written a biography of that individual. The story of how the marriage happened is a good one in itself, but I have just finished the description of the future husband's initial years in Haworth and found it terribly moving - I alternate steadily between crying and laughing, pages 26-37 in my copy.
The image of Arthur Bell Nicholls walking Emily's dog is heartbreaking, and just as stunning is this lovely quotation from Charlotte reporting on Nicholls' initial declaration of love:

Shaking from head to foot, looking deadly pale, speaking low, vehemently yet with difficulty - he made me for the first time feel what it costs a man to declare affection where he doubts response.

(BTW - this is AFTER she wrote "Jane Eyre".)
One way to understand the subject line is to read the book!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Courage, and a Fine Sense of Mischief

For a few months now I have been reading Yoanni Sanchez' brave blog.
Today I learned that some of that courage comes with a nice sense of mischief.
However, as I do not feel myself a victim, I raise my skirt a little and show my legs to the two men who follow me everywhere. There is nothing more paralyzing than a woman’s calf flashing in the sun in the middle of the street. Nor am I wooden like a martyr, I try not to forget to smile, because giggles are hard stones in the teeth of the authoritarian. So I continue my life, without letting them turn me into a whiner, with only one regret. Ultimately, everything that I live today has also been the product of my silence, the direct fruit of my former passivity.

She is certainly right about that calf!

Fish In a Barrel

h/t Damian

Monday, January 26, 2009

The James Blake Channel

As I am now calling ESPN and hence TSN.
In this case it means the Round of 16 match being broadcast is Blake-Tsonga, which is the one I wanted!
Apparently there is a new concept in tennis called 'transition'. This appears to be another name for getting the ball back in play. Apparently Tsonga believes in it, not so much Blake. Of course the players have different levels of belief for themselves and their opponents.
A couple of days ago all these broadcasters seemed to believe Andy Murray would win the tournament but he lost in this round to someone I have never heard of, so he is not mentioned anymore.
Tsonga takes the first set, and deserves it.
Is there a player more entertaining to watch than Tsonga, even including Nadal? Both are great showmen. Is there a clearer measure of this match than the fact that the only points Blake won in the last game were Tsonga's double-faults?
Tsonga now up two sets to zero.
ESPN finally mentions Andy Murray! Who is Verdasco? The Australian Open is truly great - it is, after all, where Amelie Mauresmo first appeared big-time.
Tsonga wins! No surprise.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Perez's Last Shot rom the Fairway


Is This Exactly Wrong or Exactly Right?

I am watching the Bob Hope Classic, as mentioned earlier, on The Golf Channel.
Mike Weir of Canada has the leading score in the clubhouse.
I swear I heard him say he hopes Pat Perez, who has the leading score on the course, will hold the lead.
What is he trying to do - uphold our reputation?

Under 200?

Say it ain't so, GrrlScientist!

Maybe Bailouts Should Not be Fun, but What about Stimuli?

James Hamilton is beginning to sound a little doubtful about current plans.
On the other hand, if everybody and their grandmother is lining up for a bailout, and pulling political strings ([1], [2]) to make sure they get it, I read that as prima facie evidence that the taxpayers' interests are not being properly represented.

In my opinion, though, stimuli SHOULD be fun.
So I am wondering about this, and will try to do some research, and as I come to know more about the "stimulus" packages in the USA and Canada (details still to come), I hope to identify the most fun parts of the stimuli to come.
One of the few details I know even about the US package was featured on at least two of the morning talking heads politics shows today, and it was a major family planning initiative. I am not sure that gets assigned to the 'fun' category. Depends on how you look at it, I guess. With the Democrats now in charge, I suspect the initiative is not abstinence-based.

And to Think I Suddenly Felt Included

And I am a Canadian, so it should have been irrelevant!
Of course you would have to assume some people don't want me around!
When Barack Obama said, “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers” in his inaugural speech, he ran afoul of many fundamentalist Christians, who reject this kind of inclusiveness and think atheists are Satanic imps from hell

Is This the Funniest Blog Post Ever?

I am not sure who the Sanity Inspector is but here is a truly great combination of topics.
The Peter Schiff part is rather grimly funny. But combined with the sorry movie theme, it makes for a fine Sunday morning.

Will Wilkinson Gets How I Feel Too

This is how, as he points out, the economists themselves are making it look:

What arises in my mind is the strong suspicion that economic theory, as it is practiced and taught at the world’s leading institutions, is so far from consensus on certain fundamental questions that it is basically useless for adjudicating many profoundly important debates about economic policy. One implication of this is that it is wrong to extend to economists who ad

Too sadly true.
And this as our government now heads to spend like crazy, as directed by all the opposition parties, and will surely face some major complaining from those same parties about the forthcoming budget deficit. Aarrgghh.

Does Tomas Berdych Have a Girlfriend in the Stands?

TSN/ESPN gives us constant feedback on Federer's girlfriend (a lot less dowdy than she started out - hmmm why not his wife now? - her problem, not mine).
But as Tomas Berdych totally threatens Federer's position, why has ESPN no idea who his girlfriend is?

Sorry, ESPN

I built sad theories last night, during my sleepless watching of the Australian Open.
Our local sports network TSN buys its feed from ESPN and I concluded that last night's focus on James Blake's match was ultimate homerism.
Tonight I watch a Swiss and a Czech, while off-screen Andy Roddick is playing. Apologies!
I should mention that the Blake-Andreev match was pretty entertaining.

Readying for Man U!

Somehow this lovely little video fits my sleepless following of the Australian Open Tennis. (And yes I see the elephant has no racket.)

h/t LGF (and Charles is right about the fabric of space and time)

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Saturday, January 24, 2009


The Bob Hope Golf Classic Saturday is not on a major network, rather just the Golf Network!
As I enter my 60s, this really stuns me.
It says a lot, and I do not think what it says is bad.
But it IS a change!

4000 - That's an Amazing Statistic

Amazing indeed.

These guys are great at getting to the fatuity of so much of it all.

Weather Channel Accused of Pro-Weather Bias
The Knights Doppler!


And I Knew She Had Something to Hide

Not the same fan of James Lipton as Larry Moran but he is right - worth a watch!

Who the Heck are You?

Seems even horses can wonder.
Though my favorite bit of this post is the undermining part:
Also anecdotal evidence in the film That Obscure Object of Desire by Buñuel where two quite different actresses, Carole Bouquet and Ángela Molina play the character of Conchita in different scenes without most viewers realizing that there are seeing not one but two individuals.

I frequently find I cannot tell two separate characters in a movie apart - I feel two lead actresses in a movie should always be a blonde and brunette, or redhead if needed - so this hardly surprises me.

What is Happening to Canada?!

Another reason to feel good about the country.

For her perceived insolence, Ms. Younasy was forced to flee the country where her grandfather ruled as king for four decades. She arrived in Toronto Friday from Islamabad after obtaining an exceptional three-year permit to live and work in Canada.

Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney signed the papers during a recent trip to Pakistan and India. It is the first time since the Conservatives took office in 2006 that this kind of protection has been extended to someone outside the country.

Who's Hot, Who's Not

At Crooked Timber the analysis is finally presented.

SillyWife is in languages, and in my day I was in math. This all seems right.
Though maybe the main message is a tough one:
academic disciplines are, without exception, more ‘not’ than ‘hot.’ When adjusted positive and negative hotness scores are totted up against each other, no discipline does better than – 0.062 (Languages).

h/t Greg Mankiw

Friday, January 23, 2009


What an enjoyable match! (Ooppss - interrupted by Sugiyama - now a bit less compelling - please , TV guys, switch to Roddick-Santoro, which should be totally nuts!) I have not been watching enough of the Australian Open but certainly will do my best now.
The idea that the Melbourne Cricket Ground seats 110,000 knocks my socks off!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fortunately, the coffee was not in the mouth at this point ...

... in my reading.

I did not think much of Bill Clinton our modern-day Alcibiades. But all through his administration, and of course before and after it, I thought a great deal of the United States, especially in comparison to the alternative.

That word 'Alcibiades', too perfect in the wake/midst of Hillary's confirmation hearings, was so appropriate that any volume of fluid in my mouth would have hit the keyboard and screen.
Victor Davis Hanson has more, and all the Obama reservations are solid, though I think he is too hopeful (though not very changey):
As Obama begins to govern and as the public sees that he simply borrowed Bush’s foreign policy rhetoric, jazzed it up with his cadences and pauses, and then took either Bushites or Democratic centrists and called them hope and change, and as he glued new rhetorical veneers on the Patriot Act and FISA, and as he alienates many by making decisions other than voting present, and as the gaffes begin (Biden and Michelle can’t be put under wraps forever), and the Chicago fumes linger (Blago ain’t through yet), the fawning media will begin to look embarrassed, then ridiculous, and finally completely bankrupt. They offered no audit of Obama, no tough treatment, no honest examination of his flips, no balance in their treatment of Bush, and they will soon pay a terrible price for that derelection and worse, as the public sees them as the state megaphones that they have so sadly become. The only suspense? Will they play Pravda to the end?

Meanwhile, I think Doc has a more solid grasp on where we are headed and it will not be pretty!

I am less optimistic than Llosa. I expect that the 3Ps will win out, and more bureaucrats with more hubris and more east-coast-elitist-interventionist training will pour into Washington; and they will negotiate (albeit in good faith, for the most part) with increasing numbers of rent-seekers to redistribute more wealth and power away from voters and taxpayers. Furthermore, the slower growth the US will experience 5 and 10 years from now will be attributed to these policies by only a minority of policy analysts.
As Russ Roberts says, "Watch your liberty and your wallet. They are both at risk."|

I am REALLY hoping (pace Rondi) that we baby-boomers can prevail in the rent-seeking!

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To Boldly Go

Norm has found an analysis of John Roberts' stumblebum performance, supplied by one of my favorites, and centring it on pedantry! I love it!
[A] simpler explanation is that the wayward adverb in the passage is blowback from Chief Justice Roberts's habit of grammatical niggling.

Language pedants hew to an oral tradition of shibboleths that have no basis in logic or style, that have been defied by great writers for centuries, and that have been disavowed by every thoughtful usage manual. Nonetheless, they refuse to go away, perpetuated by the Gotcha! Gang and meekly obeyed by insecure writers.

Among these fetishes is the prohibition against "split verbs," in which an adverb comes between an infinitive marker like "to," or an auxiliary like "will," and the main verb of the sentence. According to this superstition, Captain Kirk made a grammatical error when he declared that the five-year mission of the starship Enterprise was "to boldly go where no man has gone before"; it should have been "to go boldly." Likewise, Dolly Parton should not have declared that "I will always love you" but "I always will love you" or "I will love you always."

Any speaker who has not been brainwashed by the split-verb myth can sense that these corrections go against the rhythm and logic of English phrasing. The myth originated centuries ago in a thick-witted analogy to Latin, in which it is impossible to split an infinitive because it consists of a single word, like dicere, "to say."

Norm is rightly skeptical, but this really is attractive. Don't we want everyone else hoisted on some petard of his/her own?

Odd Man Out

Most analyses I have seen of the Oscar nominations seem puzzled by the nomination of Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor".
What is REALLY curious is that this is the only film on the list of nominations that I have seen, an artifact of its being available on one of my long summer flights, a flight long enough that I finally reached the point of having seen all the other appealing-looking films.
Looking at Jenkins' IMDB biography, I realize I have seen him in many movies and really not noticed him.
In "The Visitor" he plays an economics professor late in his career and not really committed to much, who comes to life due to some rather unexpected developments. It is a small quiet film, with great performances from many people, but especially Jenkins. It's rare that I am deeply satisfied by what I consider an 'airplane film'.
See it! Tell people surprised at Jenkins' nomination why he is on that list!
Usually I have seen NO nominated movies by the time of the Oscars; maybe this will motivate me to watch this year!


The Horror! The Horror!

The team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, found computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing. The team was left struggling to put closed captions on online videos.

The Obama team enters the White House.
Surely the well-oiled transition team had thought of this concern!
No one could quite explain the problem -- but they swore it would be fixed.

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How Did I MIss This?

Yesterday was squirrel appreciation day, and I found out only this morning.
Today is squirrel appreciation day. While everyone can celebrate squirrels in their own way, we wanted to point you to some useful resources around the Web to get you started

To repent of my sloppiness, I appreciated my backyard rodents by doubling the standard peanut allotment.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

45th Anniversary Edition!?

Say it ain't so, Joe. This cannot be! But what a fine movie.

The Speech

Oh my! He can be utterly amazing. Unfortunately my job interfered in exceptionally annoying ways during Obama's inaugural speech so I missed it live.
Norm has a lovely review.
As does David at Harry's Place.
For me the most moving passage was:

you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that out patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness

I thought there were some brilliant small subtle points in the writing, praising the troops for Khe Sanh (hey Vietnam - we're baby boomers so that was bad, and hey it has nothing to do with boat people!).
And "the risk-takers, the makers". That "For us" sequence is utterly tear-welling.

One thing I found a bit amusing was that he clearly had written some real applause lines, and the audience did not get them. I hope he does not dumb himself down. He is so much fun to hear.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This is Why US Presidents Need a LOT OF Staff

Poor Poland!
The outgoing president also found time for a conversation with leaders of Denmark, Georgia or Greece. But he apparently had no time for Poland’s politicians, claims Dziennik.

Gaza Begins to Sink into the Pit Again

I hope all this international commitment that undoubtedly helped Israel declare the cease-fire and leave Gaza can actually do something useful but the initial steps are not looking too great.
I hope all the pro-Hamas demonstrators are out on the streets again defending their resistance leaders.

A Changed America? No This IS the same America

Could it actually have been John Roberts muttering incoherencies about the world's response to the inauguration today? Let's point out that to start with John Roberts was a Canadian (still is, apparently, as well as citizen of the USA). He is sounding at times a little bit like the VJ was in his purely Canadian incarnation as J.D. Roberts.
His point was that today's inauguration represents a new changed America.
This point seems to me profoundly dense. Even if it may well be the view of many inside and outside the USA.
But who elected Barack Obama? The voters of the old not-changed America.
It's the same amazing democracy it has been for as long as any country (except, I think, debatably, the UK) has had a democracy in the modern era.
Maybe J.D. was just suggesting that what he was saying was how some people feel, but he sure seemed to be boosting.

And the Sun is Barely Up!

What sight DC is already!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Jobs of the Future

I posted on this recently.
And even more recently the TED lecture rss feed directed me to this talk by Paul MacCready.
There is one very telling and simple analysis of a very simple slide starting at about 10 Minutes and 15 seconds.
But more than this he tells us a LOT about innovation and new technologies and how they get created. Not by some politician or bureaucrat proclaiming, "Hey we need to decide this is how we fix our energy problems - let's pound billions of dollars into it!"
Seems MacCready responded to prizes and tax incentives, and these seem great drivers, as they can be designed not to try to determine the solution, but simply describe the problem. It seems his prizes were put up privately but it seems to me there is no reason government cannot simply put up prizes.
Sorry, there is ONE reason that is an unlikely direction. Politicians for understandable reasons entirely prefer channeling funding into favorite paths from square one - waiting for the outcome of a competition removes their power to feed their sponsors, who just might lose any fair competition.
As for the video, you also get Alan Alda!

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The NFL This Year!

This year I have at least managed to watch all the games in the post-season and it has really been remarding (more than 2 out of 3 ain't bad).
I think this year may surely be remembered less for Obama's inauguration as for the arrival of the Arizona Cardinals, the apparently decided underbird, but victors, last weekend against the Eagles of Philadelphia.
Insofar as I am thinking of the coming ascendance of of The One, can it be accident of any form that the new President comes from Chicago, as do the Cardinals (if slightly transplanted over the years, as was The One himself)?
On the other side, the Avian team lost. I have no explanation.
But I am eager to hope for another Avian victory in the Superbowl.
I intend to be watching and trying to understand the entrails should the birds lose.

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"The End of Print" is in its Fifth Printing

A wonderful antidote to the GeeWhiz and overly serious presentations TED often has on design. This one I can live by! Great lines along the way include the following.
"I just have a feeling this kid's been there for a week - he's just really hoping it boots up."
"On the left we see people dying, we see people running for their lives; and on the right we see there is a new way to support your breasts."
"Somebody told me today there's this thing called folders."
...and especially the late reflections on the courage to be a graphic designer.

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I am Now Looking So Forward to Tomorrow

It is hard to explain why. And I apologize, but I can really care about this too. All is written in the terms of me recalling the King speech. This is surely best read playing it over and over in the background.
A Canadian kid from rural Ontario, oppressively Christian (not me! the region) in ways, but tolerant in ways I do know that I have much seen in other religions - child of I suspect religiously indifferent multicultural parents, one of a well-established Irish immigrant family to Canada, and a mother who was a first-generation immigrant.
I remember TWO mighty lessons they seared in to me (I am listening as I write to King's "I Have a Dream") - you must never discriminate against Jews, lesson 1, or Blacks. By example they extended that lesson to many other groups. In a way this was all easy - the Jews like me wanted exception from all the required Christian ritual in the schools and daily social life, and on the other side there were no blacks.
But in the end they were both everywhere, and especially in our television.
Some of it in the form of History television, and some in the form of television being made. And it was all in a way so remote in the small-town Canada I knew.
But my God (and as an atheist I say this not casually) it was also clear as my teens progressed through the early 1960s. Israel protected itself and Martin Luther King built a movement I thought to be in his right mind could progress.
I will skip many of the years - that a Kennedy elected to be a conservative missile-building 'madman' became the President who started to break Southern segregation with the help of a brother, neither of whom started out so committed. That his brother's funeral train would produce a procession the likes of which I could never have imagined, and this was after Martin Luther King had been assassinated, with blacks all across the rail line paying tribute, and maybe it is more right to say Negroes paying tribute (this was about the time of the change in language).
Much has gone in between.
But what stuns me about what I look so forward to tomorrow is how natural I think it will feel. It will not seem the same, surely, for the black population, but it will feel in no way odd for me.
In fact it is an analogy I hate because it is so false in some ways, but I do recall what I sensed my parents felt as John Kennedy was inaugurated, that THEIR generation was being installed, that these ever so attractive people would now be OUR representatives, and I fully understand how all the people I think of as naive will feel tomorrow as this beautiful people come to lead our world.
I am not analogous to my parents in terms of relative age for this transition, and maybe Bill Clinton should have felt like the generation I welcomed, but this is the one I most feel I welcome since my parents almost thoughtlessly welcomed the Kennedys. That is where I am for Barack Obama - yes, please, and I am not sure.
And in the end all of the people whose emotions I have described are or were Canadian. Well, that matters a little but we live so close that the values matter (which is not to say the current generation includes people who could NEVER feel any of this - nobody in my family I know public on the Web is in that state).
I have called Obama a windbag, and he is one, and even worse he manages to make a lot of his listeners take it perhaps seriously, but he will make some of it true, and I have never thought he can control outcomes.
As for me, I think he is a Chicago politician, maybe a bit more careful. But had he NOT been a Chicago politician we would not wake up with the tomorrow even I welcome.
"Yes black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness".
And maybe even become President.
I feel privileged to be living in a country that continues to support the United States of America. I am ashamed of our citizens I know that childishly and reflexively oppose what is manifestly so great there. What is there argument tomorrow?

Another Dribble of Pride in My Country

Stay home American terrorists.
Had Ayers ever repudiated his vicious past, I could view the case as a small outrage.

To me it seems quite bureaucratic and not at all interesting ... If it were me I would have let me in. I couldn't possibly be a threat to Canada."

Now there is a criterion to compare to - we should do what Bill Ayers would do.

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The Grain According to Matthew Yglesias

Well, my opinion on this topic is precisely Matthew Yglesias', better expressed than I could do it:
Leaving the shareholders with nothing is more like a feature than a bug. The shareholders don’t deserve anything

And I do hold shares in some companies, surely some banks through mutual funds.

I Won't Ever Forget It

Now this is a real honor to Lincoln, not the pseudo-nonsense the media and Obama's handlers have been promoting. The notion here of the Founding Fathers' "promissory note" is sharp too. Sharp also is the notion of cashing a cheque - much of this amazing rhetoric I had forgotten in favor the "I have a dream" trope, also obviously magnificent.
And the phrase "the Negro in New York feels that he has nothing for which to vote" rings magnificently this week, and I am not referring to Charles Rangel.

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How Does He Think He Will Know?

Iggy lets Harper know what he has to do next week:
"This budget has three simple tests that it must pass," Ignatieff said. "Will it protect the most vulnerable? Will it save jobs? And most important of all will it create the jobs of tomorrow?"

This sounds lovely, but when confronted with the budget next week, how will he know the answer to any of those questions. I can see vaguely how he might evaluate the first two. "The most vulnerable" is a code-phrase for Liberal constituencies so the Liberals will want to see money channeled to them. "Creating jobs" means enormous government spending in a whole bunch of areas that appear to be otherwise planning to lay people off or are not currently hiring enough to please the Liberals.
But creating the jobs of tomorrow? Does he actually believe he has any idea what they are, other than lots of new jobs in new federal bureaucracies to support programs he wants to set up for his constituencies? In fact the urge to have the government spend like crazy on things that will 'create' jobs real soon now is likely to inhibit and at least delay the creation of the jobs of tomorrow.
Now don't get me wrong. I think Iggy knows this. And when Harper presents his budget, he will likely assert it is creating the jobs of tomorrow, though he knows otherwise, likely much better than Iggy does. After all, Harper has spent most of his energies trying to triangulate like the Liberals of old, and building budgets somewhat incrementally different from what the Liberals would have.
Now as for my personal preference (not my policy recommendation), if you really want my vote, I say commit to keeping all the jobs of yesterday and today in place for five more years. After that, come what may!

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Where is the new Liberal "Hope Battalion"?

Chagishness indeed.
Michael Ignatieff’sMichael Ignatieff’s Liberals managed this weekend to announce both a “renewal committee” and a “change comission.”

Hitch in Support of Post-Racialism without Opening his Mouth

... well, conjecturally, except perhaps to enjoy some party drinks, as I am sure I would want to.
From Ta-Nehisi Coates:
I peep Christopher Hitchens, mid-groove, with some dime-piece on his hip. Philosopher of all things, William Jelani Cobb, who was dancing with his date a few paces away, offered the observation of the week, and the week had just begun...

The prospect of Christopher Hitchens getting down to Biz Markie, is only slightly less improbable than the prospect of a black president.

Postracial, indeed.

This is a special time.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Themes Keep Returning These Days

Here we revisit the men vs. women theme the Heineken commercial I posted features.
This time it's just the women but you'll see what I mean. Only in Canada, apparently. Pity.
Go watch it.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hopeyness Aspect 1

Paul Mirengoff does us all the kind service of a close reading of Mr. Hope and Change's views regarding one of the most appalling suggestions the Democrats and their Union supporters are pushing - called by several names things like the apparently neutral 'card-check', but never from that side by documenting that it is that the determination of a workforce to introduce a union can now be required to be by a public vote, no longer a private one. A key Change for the big Hoper is to remove the secret ballot. Grrrr.
I was astonished reading this analysis of Obama's argument as it was clearly lacking anything I would consider principle. As Paul documents closely, Obama's position is that he wants more organizing efforts to win and this is his currently supported way to achieve that (and well, he would accept other ways, blah, blah, blah, as befitting an utter windbag.
He wants to achieve a leftist result -- make it much easier for unions to become the bargaining representative of employees. He ignores the non-leftist objection to the mechanism he has endorsed for achieving this result -- that "card checks" are anti-democratic -- and suggests that the real objection may be the desire to keep workers out of unions. And he says he has no time for this sort of objection.

Well, er, I , um, and maybe many blacks in history think that a secret ballot is a fairer way for them to record their preferences on an issue in any sort of election. I cannot think of any institution I have worked in that allows voting and excludes a request for a secret ballot - and I have worked in a few and always felt that making this request binding was obviously right. Obama is surely right that he wants more unions than I want to see, but impugning my objection is disgusting. This is just too fundamental.
Because - why is a non-secret ballot likely to deliver the results Obama and his union funders want? I do not even have to answer. Thuggery and intimidation, even if at only some low level. Even a low level will make the life of employees identified as being reluctant to install a level of union supervisors forcing mediocrity on their institution, partly possibly because of their recognition of their own higher personal productivity, hard to bear. (Yeah maybe I am being extreme but not from what I have seen.)
The Great Bloviator will be windbagging on in the weeks to come. I am hoping he remains as willing to reveal his true (lack of) logic in future interviews.

More Emergence and Again from Scienceblogs!

h/t GrrlScientist

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Woo Hoo - Julie Burchill

Poor woman will never get to work at the CBC if she insists on writing this sort of stuff! And she points accurately how much is a smug and pathetic snobbery.
And remember the mixed infants playground-quality jeering — BUSH NEEDS TO GO POTTY — when in 2005, during a UN world summit, Bush made the unforgivable error of passing a note to his Secretary of State saying: “I think I may need a bathroom break? Is this possible?".

Firstly, can I say how refreshing and charming I found it to see a privileged white man — the most powerful man in the world! — ask the advice of his black female subordinate, assuming, without any threat to his status or masculinity, that she knew more about such things than he.

And secondly, let’s not forget that there were more than 150 “world leaders” there — prime ministers, presidents and monarchs — some of them probably not democratically elected.

Let’s be honest, some of them probably filthy rich, corrupt, unelected feudal Islamist potentates.

And Arab pride is apparently so pathetically fragile that its honour can be “insulted” at the tiniest perceived slight.

Who knows what a firestorm a President peeing without permission might have caused among these delicate desert flowers?

Why, they might have done something really butch and Carrie Bradshaw-ish like throwing their shoes at him!

And it is easy to forget the praise from people who were paying attention to things that mattered elsewhere in the world and that I guess the CBC experts think are the domain solely of the manifestly increasingly useless, nay pernicious, UN.

The great Natan Sharansky — who learned a thing or two about humanity during years banged up in Soviet labour camps — once said to Bush: “Mr President, I see you as a dissident. Dissidents believe in an idea. They suffer a lot. But history proves them right.”


IN our recent book Not In My Name: A Compendium Of Modern Hypocrisy, my co-author Chas Newkey-Burden quotes none other than Bob Geldof as saying, “You’ll think I’m off my trolley, but the Bush administration is the most radical – in a positive sense – in its approach to Africa, since Kennedy”.

Chas goes on to say: “Sir Bob contrasted this to Europe’s ‘pathetic and appalling’ response and Clinton’s record, ‘He did **** all’.”

Many aid charities have echoed his praise for Bush. Bono, too, has had many good things to say about him.

I am not welling with hope about Tuesday's inauguration. We are seeing the arrival of a pretty inexperienced windbag with highly interventionist instincts, ill-schooled by any successful experience other than using rhetorical skills to infuse the very naive with Hopeyness. Having said that, his transition still leaves me moderately optimistic, but I am always so.

h/t Kathy Shaidle

And moreover, go to the Burchill article and read it. The two photographs on the page are lovely and very revealing.

Odd Emergent Phenomena from my Current Blog Reading

I have been directed in the past by Rondi to Manolo's Shoe Blog (currently dispensing advice on the upcoming inauguration), but in the last couple of weeks I find myself directed to shoe themes in ways I don't think I was ready to predict.
One of the new blogs I have started reading is over, at all places, at scienceblogs, but delightfully entertaining. Dr. Isis directs me to this shoe.

Available from Primerline).
Even less probably, Brad DeLong finds himself diverted from the serious political implications of the liberal-libertarian stand-ff at Stanford, and ends up documenting the details of Virginia Postrel's shoes.

More details here.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Dysfunction Comes Close to Home

Part of the night I spent listening to various European radio reports reflecting on the grotesque dysfunctionality driven by the delivery or non-delivery of natural gas from Russi athrough the Ukraine.
I was lucky NOT to be located in the part of Toronto affected by this!

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Tanglefoot - Catch Them While you still can

The excellent Canadian group Tanglefoot are apparently making 2009 their final year of performing.
I strongly recommend any readers try to see them. I am particularly pleased to note that they are performing again in Otley, where I think I enjoyed my favorite performance of the group. This is a small town a few miles north of Leeds, in Yorkshire, England, with a local folk club of excellently discriminating taste, who were also delighted to host SillyWife and me one summer afternoon many years ago.
Their shows are always lively and very entertaining. I have seen many and am sorry I am running out of chances.

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Competing with Tim Haab

He sets a standard here.
I try to meet it!

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Where Are The Babies?

Richard Landes implicitly asks and has the answer too.

More on Bush's Farewell

I was intemperate in an earlier post about the CBC report on Bush, because it was a typical piece of cheap CBC work. Here is a more serious effort by someone I suspect I largely disagree with, but who is able to see the main thing Bush solidly, and as he documents, improbably, got right.
George Bush was an unlikely man, and an unlucky choice, to lead a war for secular values against a theocratic ideology of hatred. He lacked the rhetorical position (let alone ability!) to articulate a defense of those values. Yet he did recognize that that was the war that had to be fought, and he did fight it. The memory I will always have of him is him standing with the bullhorn at the World Trade Center site, saying “I can hear you, the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear from all of us soon.” In all the time since, with all the criticisms and attacks—both merited and unmerited, considered and childish, thoughtful and emotive—that one core did not change. Bush fell short in many, many ways—his continued embrace of Saudi Arabia and Russia, for instance, his keeping of an almost openly insubordinate Secretary of State, a domestic policy so riddled with stupidity and error that time will not permit even a brief itemization. But when he says this, he gets it exactly right, and he has always got this point right:

"As we address these challenges—and others we cannot foresee tonight—America must maintain our moral clarity. I’ve often spoken to you about good and evil, and this has made some uncomfortable. But good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Murdering the innocent to advance an ideology is wrong every time, everywhere. Freeing people from oppression and despair is eternally right. This nation must continue to speak out for justice and truth. We must always be willing to act in their defense—and to advance the cause of peace."

This is the truth, and, alas, that is not a small thing in today’s world. It is to be hoped that others will continue to stand by that truth in the coming years.

Is it even a surprise anymore that a blogger does a far better job of assessment that what claims to be a journalistic organization funded purely by state coercion. Worse, I am forced to pay for people that I think have signed up largely as representatives of what Tim Sandefur above describes as evil.

A Tribute Worthy of Repetition

Glenn Reynolds points in the right direction here.
the New York-area waterfolk distinguished themselves on September 11, and they did it again, yesterday.

And I Think of Myself as a Bird Enthusiast

But this is really an unsettling article.

Large aircraft are certified to be able to keep flying after impacting a 4-pound bird, however 36 species of birds in North America weigh more than this, according to the committee. Even smaller birds, such as starlings, can cause engine failure.

We seem to leave ourselves a surprising vulnerability in this case.

Reading the Flight Safety Instructions

I am one of those airline passengers whose first activity after settling in my seat is to pull out the flight safety card and read it - one reason I do this is to determine what sort of airplane I am on (I am not sufficiently an anorak to know by looking) but I am also interested on what to do if something goes wrong.
The landing, so to speak, of USAir 1549 on the Hudson River will encourage this habit. Though it does seem that even those passengers who are indifferent to safety instructions also survived, so maybe there is a lack of logic to my reaction.
The story seems to have involved some piloting skills comparable to the Air Canada Gimli Glider story.

Typical CBC Class

As Dubya delivered his farewell address, the little beavers at the CBC were formulating their assessment, to which I woke up. Apparently our choices, according to the dulcet tones of Michael Colton, are between a "failure" and a "disaster", maybe one of them even "total" or "complete"; I can barely recall. Like Norm, someone for whom I have some respect, I am far less certain.
The little toads working at CBC headquarters may have rights to their opinions, but when something so superficial is allowed to be broadcast, I really get riled about the confiscation of money from me to pay for the career of the likes of Michael Colton. There is not even the pretense of reporting anymore - it is just their own little pathetic rants.
And, fortunately, not a single one of the little vermin will ever have the responsibility Bush faced. After 9/11, I said that it would be at least twenty years before we could make a sensible judgment on his responses to it, and I still believe that we need at least that time. This meant then as it does now that I may never get to make that judgment.
I will say I think we now know Bush did one thing that was quite wrong, though I would guess the CBCers would have been in favor of it. He pressured American financial institutions to sell mortgages to people they would not normally have sold them to, with no recognition of the risk involved at the time. I am sure the CBC would have been all for this editorially, and it is largely the source of the giant mess we are in now.
OK end of my rant. All because I had to listen to the idiotic Michael Colton as I woke groggily, delivering judgment on a man who had actually had to make a decision in his life. The nice thing at the CBC is that no decisions are needed - just repeat the brain-dead party line. They do it very well.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is a Revelation??

This is a revelation?

Could someone please ask headline-writers to retreat to a point of intelligence?

More on Entropa

This from Spiegel-Online.

Still, a new art project commissioned by Prague in honor of its six-month stint at the head of the 27-member bloc has caused the Czechs to blush with embarrassment. Called "Entropa," the piece is a €373,000 over-sized mosaic map of Europe that relies on stereotypes to depict each country. And a number of countries are furious about it.

Still, other depictions make it clear that flattery was not one of Cerny's goals. Romania is shown as a Dracula theme park; Spain is merely a slab of concrete, in reference to its recently burst real-estate bubble; Holland is shown as being flooded over with only a few minarets poking out above the waves; Luxembourg is a gold nugget with a huge "For Sale" sign sticking out of it; and France is covered with a large sign reading "strike," an allusion to that country's frequent labor battles.

What is unfortunate to my mind is that this may make it harder for David Cerny to get commissions in the future. I at least get some pleasure from his work, unlike my experience with Damien Hirst, as a simple example.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Is the Technology Cool or is it Cool?

Well, what you can do with it is certainly cool.
Now, Google is teaming up with Spain’s Prado Museum to bring armchair tourists access to 14 of Spain’s most treasured works of art, including works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velázquez and Hieronymus Bosch—all in stunningly high-resolution detail.

Google Earth’s technology allows users to get close enough to examine a painter's brushstrokes or the craquelure (small cracks) on the varnish of a painting. The images of these works are about 14,000 million pixels, 1,400 times more detailed than the image a 10-megapixel digital camera would take.

And yes the Bosch is the magnificent Garden of Heavenly Earthly Delights.

No I Don't Plan to See the Movie Either

One thing that would surely turn my stomach is any hagiography of Ernesto Guevara - whatever the merits even of The Motorcycle Diaries, I could not watch it. The human at its centre hardly deserves to be considered as one.
Joe Lima shows in his two-part review that he is not thrilled about Steven Soderbergh's piece of nonsense - long four-hour plus piece of nonsense.
One concern is slightly artistic.

Benicio Del Toro, a talented actor, is miscast as Ernesto Guevara; he has none of the cocky swagger and sarcastic humor of the real Che. He looks chronically depressed throughout the film. No one would follow Del Toro’s Che, except to a pharmacy to make sure he refilled his Zoloft.

I did wonder about this - del Toro excels in seeming run-down. The sheer pleasure of slaughter and murder of his character might be hard for him to reach.
Lima finds a shred of truth in the movie.
However, a sliver of truth does manage to peek through the darkness of disinformation in a scene in which Guevara, asthmatic, undernourished, gaining no traction in his insurgency against the Bolivian government and unable to make his horse move another inch, slides off of the poor creature and begins stabbing her. (This event, by the way, apparently really happened). Some in the audience moaned empathetically, as if the whole thing was so, so sad: first, el Vaquerito, now the horse! Yes, the incident is sad, but it’s not merely sad. It’s abnormal, terrifying. What kind of sadist stabs a horse just because he can’t make it walk? The answer is this: the same kind of sadist that presides over a gulag in which executions are carried out with dreadful, cold efficiency.

Looking cool in a beret is a pretty minimal qualification for admiration. Needless to say, this hero to many appears on signs in the current wave of anti-Semitic demonstrations appearing throughout the West. Sad.

David Cerny has Reappeared in my Life

When last seen, he was entertaining me as I explored Prague.
He now reappears in this wonderful story. He clearly likes poking a stick in the eye of authorities of many sorts. That the art installation is called Entropa already says a lot about it.
As far as I can tell from the pictures here Entropa is an ugly but really funny piece of work. It basically is a collection of European stereotypes, some of them being rather poignant and astute. I love, for instance, how he depicts my home country The Netherlands as completely covered with water and showing only the tops of minarets. His idea for France is very apt too. “Grève” means “strike”. I am not so sure about his depiction of Germany with its many motorways (looks vaguely like a swastika, but this may be unintentional) but you gotta love Romania as a Dracula theme park and the fact that he simply left out Britain. How do you say “pwned” in the Czech language?

The faux brochure for the installation, complete with invented artists, is hilarious, though it will surely make most EU countries feel rather peeved.

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Harper is Halfway There

Halfway is a lot better than a lot of this world.

Depressing Times

Ezra Levant points to what is perhaps the ultimate in the pretense coming off - throughout the West, the news has been depressing, as "anti-Zionism" has revealed itself pretty clearly as a reborn "anti-Semitism". Of course the latter has never gone away, but has tried to hide its true nature. Now, just as sadly, there seems to be no need for secrecy.
I am appalled and disgusted

Are They Serious? The Reader, the Movie

Inspired by Oprah, and my itch to learn German, I read Bernhard Schlink's Der Vorleser many years ago. It was the first of many Schlink novels I have read - he has a lovely lean German that makes it easy for a foreigner to read.
But I am astonished at the trailers for the movie version of the book.
Are they serious?
Kate Winslet as the female lead and Ralph Fiennes as the male? In the book, the woman is much older than the man, and this is a substantial part of the story. Mr. Fiennes seems to me intrinsically a lot older than Ms. Winslet. Do they make it work? I suppose I will know in a year or two.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll

Having just posted on this, and having watched the lovely video many times, I am astonished at some small things.

Dylan gets 6 and a half minutes! Steve Allen was a special guy and we do not have the like now.

There is little of the '60s that is not embarrassing today. This great passionate song is one of the exceptions.

You Who Philosophize Disgrace

I know I do that occasionally. How else can one live?

But I post to observe that William Zantzinger has died, surprisingly young.
Perhaps predictably, Mr. Zantzinger was no fan of the Dylan song or its composer, whom he called a “no-account [expletive]” who had distorted the facts of the case. He told Dylan biographer Howard Sounes, “I should have sued him and put him in jail.”

The link takes you to a performance of this utterly great Bob Dylan song. Watch it.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Model Hamas Parenthood

This is a culture the world would be well rid of.
the death of the Rayyan family children was not an accident: Rayyan had trained his wives and children to die with him as "martyrs."

He encouraged his followers to have several wives and as many children as possible, in order to provide future soldiers in the fight against Israel. He also encouraged Hamas to take over Judea and Samaria and carry out suicide attacks targeting Jews.

I suppose one major consolation is that his commitment to having his family die with him mitigates the family's fecundity somewhat.

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Sid Ryan tries to Dance

Rondi has reported on the execrable behaviour of the CUPE leader of late and Doc has followed up as well.
It now seems Sid Ryan has had to backtrack from his more obvious anti-Semitic utterances:

CUPE Ontario's president yesterday said a Nazi reference he used to justify criticism of Israel was "a poor choice of analogy," after a trustee with the Toronto District School Board condemned such references in calling on his board to disavow the union's proposal to ban Israeli academics from the province's post-secondary schools.

It's nice to see him getting some blowback from the Toronto District School Board.
Ryan also tried to fob off the TDSB rebuke:
However he insisted the TDSB is "wasting their time" discussing Mr. Matlow's motion because "it has nothing to do with them, it is directed at universities."

The trustee has a good comment on this:
Mr. Matlow acknowledged it is not the school board's purview to debate Israel's action but said: "Mr. Ryan brought it here by trying to censor academics in a hateful way." He added: "We need to respond in an intelligent way and my motion is one response."

Moreover, as Doc points out in another post,

The current president of The University of Western Ontario wrote, to me, "... CUPE does not set policy at our University. Israeli academics will continue to be welcome at Western."

This would appear to suggest Ryan is wasting his time. And he is certainly involving the union in a non-union issue. And also applying a ridiculous double standard.
I feel privileged I never had to join a union in my workplace after reaching the age of about 20. Having to fund leaders like this, and union leadership attracts clowns like Ryan, would have left me with a pretty rotten feeling.

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Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Squirrels foil the Amateur Naturalist

And I thought I had it figured out!
My five black-colored squirrels are now being joined by one grey squirrel. This causes me to retreat from the theory I expressed in the post linked to above.
I am now not sure what is going on; it appears the squirrel social networking has changed as the winter has settled in.

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NFL Coverage

We're between two highlight NFL weekends, the two that feature four games each weekend. Though I have not been following the league this year, I did manage to watch all the games last weekend, and one of them was pretty exciting, going into overtime.
As I look forward to the coming weekend, the Atlantic has done me the kindness of a look backstage, at what goes into the broadcasts I enjoy. It is a wonderful lively picture, and it makes the broadcast control area sound like a stressful but very entertaining place to work.
“Aaaand go!” shouted Fish, a wiry man in faded blue jeans and a loose-fitting, long-sleeved cotton shirt, a headset clamped over a baseball cap. He was leaning up and out of his swivel chair, choosing shots and barking orders, arms elevated, snapping his long fingers loudly with each new command. “Go fan shot! Ready four. Take four! Ready eight. Take eight! Ready one. Take one! Ready 12. Take 12! Ready five. Take five! Ready thre—ready two. Take two! Ready three. Take three!”

It is well worth reading for anyone who likes to watch the NFL on television.

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Pallywood fools CNN again at least for a while

LGF is once again on top of it, and it involves our favorite doctor.
A real doctor looking at the video comments:
The taps on the chest that he’s doing are the sort of thing you see in bad TV dramas, when you don’t want to make the poor actor playing the victim uncomfortable by really pushing on his chest. I think the man in the white coat knows this child is actually alive, and is making the simulated chest compressions gentle so as not to hurt the child. My guess is that he assumed the videographer, like those on better TV shows, would have been smart enough not to film as far down as the man’s hands on the chest.

As Charles Johnson comments:

And meanwhile, LGF reader “Killgore Trout” has discovered that the “freelance photographer,” Ashraf Mashharawi, also runs a business in Gaza called Nepras For Media & IT, which hosts websites. And according to Internet Haganah, in 2004 they were listed as the operator of at least two websites for ... Hamas.

UPDATE (Jan 10) More on this.
I know you’re as shocked as I am.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Heather Hiscox with Peter Kent and Miriam Ziv

Heather is of course on about the "UN School" with both of them, which is pretty clearly now documented to have been a military site when hit; Heather appears to know none of this, or perhaps simply to suppress this information. She is either phenomenally lazy as a journalist, or of course an advocate. I do not know which. Either seems likely - the CBC is not known m,uch anymore for in-depth analysis or for departing from its favorite narratives.
Noah Pollak has a nice short reflection on this behavior, by no means confined to the CBC.
If he wishes to be particularly scrupulous, he might additionally note that Hamas had rigged the school with explosives which detonated after the IDF took out the mortar team, killing a large additional number of civilians. And he might add that you can go to the IDF’s Youtube channel to view footage from 2007 of Hamas using the very same school as a mortar-launching base.
Journalists who abjure reporting the vital details of this story should be called what they are — activists masquerading as reporters.

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Even More Pathetic and Needy

I posted on this earlier, but Scott Feschuk does a much better job (he is, after all, a professional writer!).
Somehow sadder than the contest itself is this quote from Denise Donlon, executive director of CBC Radio: “We’re excited about the new President and we want him to be excited about us.”

Firing off some Nickelback and Celine Dion definitely ought to do the trick. But just to be sure, Denise, you might want to carry his books home after school and offer to do his homework for him.

And he does not even mention the geographical stupidity in the name of the contest!
The CBC remains hard at work spending my tax dollars.

Unintended Consequences and a Catch-22

The Israeli policy of mass phoning in advance of attacks to inform local residents, in order to allow them to leave an area which has become a target, appears to allow for unintended consequences, consequences I, undoubtedly like the Israelis, could simply not have imagined.
Arutz Sheva reports that a study by the Terror and Intelligence Information Center shows that when the IDF warns Arab civilians of an impending attack in their neighborhood, Hamas uses the information in order to organize the civilians into human shields in the hope of protecting the targets from the IDF's wrath.

Of course, had I reflected on some of what I know, and had I known some of what is in the article linked to above, this would not surprise me at all.
Why should Hamas' use of this tactic surprise anyone? Well, it shouldn't, and it probably hasn't surprised the IDF although it apparently surprises the world media if they believe it's happening at all. As mentioned above, Hamas used the same tactic in a Gaza mosque full of terrorists in November 2006. And it was documented at length by an earlier report by the Center in March 2008.

So maybe it should not surprise me. It certainly appalls me.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Nice Catch by Charles Johnson/CAMERA

I was watching a news report from a Gaza hospital yesterday and an interview with a Scandinavian doctor painting a rather dire picture of conditions; it seemed quite convincing, and he even described himself as a Westerner, as if to suggest he would not mislead, Though I wondered what he was doing there, and was mindful of the fact that the report going out was utterly under the control of Hamas, and had to be so considered.
Charles Johnson has learned a little more about the good doctor.

Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor in Gaza, is all over the mainstream media, claiming that Israel is indiscriminately and purposely murdering civilians. He’s given interviews to the BBC, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABC, the Independent, Sky News, and the New York Times, among others.

And in 2001, shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, this supposedly impartial Norwegian doctor (actually a radical Marxist member of Norway’s Red party) expressed support for the hijackers.
Of course, not a single mainstream media report on the creep mentions any of this.

From CAMERA, linked by Johnson,

Gilbert is a radical Marxist and a member of the political Red (Rodt) party, a revolutionary socialist party in Norway. He has been a pro-Palestinian activist since the 1970's and travelled to Lebanon in support of the Palestinians during the first Lebanon war in 1982. He has long been a vocal opponent of Israel and the U.S. Gilbert has acknowledged that he cannot separate politics from medicine, stating, "there is little in medicine that is not politics." He even criticizes the group Doctors Without Borders for providing medical assistance to both sides in a conflict instead of taking a strong stance and supporting only one party. In a 2006 article in Nordlys, journalist Ivan Kristoffersen lamented the fact that Gilbert allows his humanitarian efforts to be politicized by his radical agenda.

Of course, he might be telling the truth at all times, but one has reason to doubt, and it is appalling that the press simply gives him, with utter apparent credulity, a voice.
And as someone of Norwegian ancestry, I am horrified at this:
According to Verdens Gang, the largest Norwegian daily, Gilbert and Fosse's current trip to Gaza is funded by the Norwegian foreign ministry.

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Shame on Toronto

Unbelievable (at least to me). How on earth did we come to this? Watch the video.
When the peace-loving thugs shout, "You are the product of monkeys, you are the product of pigs!," they are referring to the passages in the Qur'an in which Allah curses Jews and transforms them into apes and pigs (2:62-65; 5:59-60; 7:166).

There is NO possible way to regard this as anything but open anti-Semitism; it cannot hide behind the label "anti-Zionism". "Hitler didn't do a good job". Where is the Human Rights Commission? (Question is ironic - they would be no help.)
And of course our fine union leaders were involved.

Context-Free Reporting

My various media are all breathless reporting the shocking news that Israel has bombed two UN schools (NO - not the UN!), killing a few people in the process. Not a single one of these reports so far includes this small piece of context:

For some the use of the word UN is holy; I doubt the UN can effectively stop the use of their schools as rocket launching sites, but they could at least express some embarrassment.
The laziness of reporters seems to know few bounds. Or perhaps it is intentional.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Everything is just a few hundred clicks away

Hilarious and close to true. I know! Fake but accurate.

I loved the sentences predicted by the predictive sentence technology.

"I'll buy almost anything if it's shiny and made by Apple."

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard

h/t Allahpundit

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Pallywood suckers NPR

And David Landes catches it - of course, he is watching.
But why is not everybody watching for it? Any photos coming out of Gaza are coming from those few reporters not detained by Hamas. Hamas is in complete control of what we see at the moment.
Meanwhile CAMERA catches another amusing instance. Well, it would be amusing were it not accepted so credulously and breathlessly by so much of the Western media.

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St. Brigid's Church in the Sunrise

January 4, around 8am, Toronto

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This ought to be Funny

But of course it is not, though it bespeaks incredible ignorance, or a will to mislead, on the part of the headline writer.
The headline:
Hamas threatens attacks on Israeli civilians

The article is full of the usual nonsensical bluster and not really worth reading.
h/t SnoopytheGoon

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Are they stupid or just wilfully ignorant?

I think there are many good arguments against the Israeli attacks on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but it seems few of them are reflected in the many reports I have seen from the pro-Hamas demonstrations held around the world (I am sure the organizers have no wish to so characterize them so, but the evidence suggests otherwise).
For example:

That anyone living in the West could hold such a sign stuns me.
To cite Andrew Ian Dodge, from whose blog I stole this picture,

It would actually help if you realised that: 1. Hamas was elected to run Gaza 2. Hamas clearly states they hate all Jews and want to see Israel wiped of their face of the earth…its in their charter. 3. Hamas are not keen on gays (they kill them), have brought back cruxifiction and don’t like women much either.

Now if you want REAL willful ignorance, consider this one, from the Jawa Report:

I doubt they are stupid enough to plan to move to Palestine under Hamas real soon now.
h/t SnoopytheGoon on the above.
For a more reflective, and somewhat depressing look at similar points, one can hardly do better than Terry Glavin this morning,

So why does any of this matter, all this horror in such a tiny, faraway place? Because the sundering of the "left" unto barbarism and senility matters. Because Palestinians matter. Because Israelis matter. Because this little "war" is a much greater struggle than it appears.

"This is a war for the future of Islam," writes Bradley Burston. "Specifically, it is a war over the future of radical Islam, which for the past decade, has vigorously and skillfully labored to surpass settlements, Palestinian misrule, and a host of other factors to become the pre-eminent obstruction to peace in the Holy Land. "

It is also the pre-eminent obstruction to peace in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, and quite a few other places I could name.

Too bad the "anti-war" movement hasn't noticed.

Oddly enough, I am getting the feeling the Arab leadership is not so stupid as our Western left. Despite Israel's claims of limited goals, useful so as to control expectations and try to avoid having the whole effort labeled yet another failure, my own guess is that the real goal of the mission is to end Hamas' ruling role in Gaza, and that they have the tacit agreement of the major Arab countries, for the simple reason that those leaders have no wish to continue dealing with Hamas. What on earth becomes of governance in Gaza is hard to say but it is difficult to imagine it could be worse than what they have today. But heaven knows, I have been wrong before.

There is a funny irony - amidst all the demands that Israel engage in a dialogue, it seems to me that the only way to arrive at any sort of dialogue is to do just what Israel is doing - remove the Hamas leadership from the process. There is absolutely no way a guy like Rayyan could have engaged in a useful dialogue.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Red Sky at Morning

And yet my drive home was in pretty good weather.

(January 3, 2008, North London, Ontario.)

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Even the Huffington Post Notices!

As proven here.

An innocent bystander relying on the BBC for information might have assumed that the BBC's lack of coverage in Gaza over recent months had been the result of a successful ceasefire. But, those who ventured beyond the BBC will be are aware this was unfortunately not the case.

There is a lot more.
Our CBC seems to follow the BBC lead - in fact we are using BBC reporters and their narratives.

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A Media Pattern These Days

Richard Landes has been studying the reporting on Gaza and has noticed the same clownish behaviour I have observed. In this post, part of a series, he shows a simple example. I saw the same sort of disdain for reality continuing on CNN this morning, and the BBC and CBC are as bad, if not worse.
The last half of this show features an interview with Landes describing the general shape of the coverage.


Peaceful Coexistence

House Sparrows and Northern Juncos share a morning repast, and set a fine example for all of us.

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You'd think they could check

Stephen Pollard did check.

Selected estimates of population density:

27,209 people/sq km


Tel Aviv
7,445 people/sq km
(385,000 people, 51.8 sq km)

Hong Kong
6,352 people/sq km

6,252 people/sq km


Gaza Strip per CIA projection
4,270 people/sq km
(1,537,269 population July 2008, 360 sq km)

Gaza Strip per George Galloway
4,167 people/sq km
(1.5 million people, 360 sq km)

Gaza Strip per Daoud Kuttab
3,822 people/sq km

I am not sure why every news medium I am following continues to assert that the Gaza strip is so densely populated, but they are still at it today.

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Saturday, January 03, 2009

So That's Where it Came From

Gene at Harry's Place enlightens me, in the process of noting that the UK Communist Morning Star has opened its Web site to free perusal (it is amusing that this "newspaper" was one of the last holding out with a subscriber wall).

My enlightenment arose from this passage:

A couple of years ago George Galloway wrote an article for The Morning Star purporting to tell “the truth on Sudan.” Even though I couldn’t access the entire piece, I wrote:

"Judging from available evidence, the truth [according to Galloway] seems to have something to do with Western imperialists lusting after Sudan’s oil and using the genocide in Darfur (or non-genocide, as Galloway assures us) as an excuse to get into the country and start pumping it out of the ground."

And now that I can see the entire article for free, it turns out– wait for it– that I was right.

A couple of years ago, one of my ex-commenters made exactly the same claims, and these notions so collided with the facts on the ground as I still understand them that I wondered how someone with half a brain could believe it. Now I have the answer - it was the Communist position, so surely true - the half brain listens to those guys.
It seems to me something like the claim that the Israelis are committing genocide on the Palestinians.
If either of these claims are true, I am reminded of a Woody Allen joke about God, and have to consider that the perpetrators must really be major underachievers.

The Morning Star does seem rather desperate for good vibes. Damian Penny notes some silliness about Cuba:

Of course, it's not just the likes of the Morning Star that use some variation of this line about Cuba:

"When lame-duck US President George Bush leaves office this month, the revolution will have outlasted 10 US leaders."

Well, it's kind of easy to "outlast" a string of term-limited American Presidents when you don't put yourselves up for re-election, isn't it?

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An Astonishing if Expected Response

A local community activist in Austin Texas, Brandon Darby, helps bring to justice two malicious people intent on perpetrating violence in Minnesota during the Republican convention.
"I feel like, as an activist, I played a direct role in stopping violence," Darby, 32, said in his first interview on his role.

One of the perpetrators had this enlightening thing to say (*apparently recorded):
McKay also told Darby, "It's worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed," the affidavit said.

A local community activist is cited:

"Everyone that knew Brandon has gone through a whole range of emotions. Clearly, he's betrayed the trust of the community, and all the communities he's worked with," said Lisa Fithian, a social-justice activist who worked with Darby in Austin.

What an astonishing reflection! The casual acceptance of the tilt to violence is disturbing.
Darby himself makes a lot of sense.

After Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Darby and others started the Common Ground Collective, which began by delivering supplies to people in the ravaged city.

Darby said he saw firsthand what happens when government fails to protect its citizens. "When I showed up in New Orleans, I was very angry at my government," he said.

But he said that while working there, he concluded that some activists seemed more intent on promoting radical agendas than helping people.

As for why he got involved with the FBI, Darby said it was because he discovered that people he knew were planning violence.

"Somebody had asked me to do something that would've resulted in hurting people, and I said no," he said. "So they started asking other people. At that point, that's when I went forward and contacted somebody in law enforcement."

And it is a good thing he did!