Monday, May 31, 2010

The Eurovision Song Contest 2010

When German TV folded a few years ago I was very diasappointed, as it meant I could no longer count on watching Tatort regularly, and moreover I could not be sure of being able to watch the Eurovision Song Contest.
I got a bit more determined on the latter front this year and found it was being streamed live so my wife and enjoyed three hours on Saturday afternoon soaking up this rather unique cultural experience, a strange mix of good and bad music, of weirdness and blandness, and of a great mix of sort of European cultures (including at various times Israel, Morocco, and strange parts of the old Soviet Union).
The contest involved 25 competing countries, each allowed three minutes for its team to perform a song, and then 39 countries voting at the end. The voting is wildly political - old countries in the Soviet Union seem to vote for one another, whatever their historical hatreds; ditto in the Balkans. There is some logic in this as they are likely familiar with one another's music. One of Russia and Georgia voted heavily for the other! (My favorite vote was for Armenia when the presenter found a coded way of saying his country liked the Armenian singer's cleavage; I will admit I was also impressed.)
There is no question my favorite song was that from Russia.

I have always been a helpless victim of the soulfulness of Slavs!
(Listening to it once again I still love it.)
My second favorite was France.

It was simply zesty!
In the end it was won clearly by Germany's Lena, as SillyWife had predicted. I don't think either of us really got why she won. But in the waiting period before voting she was interviewed and was so disarming and disarmed - "I am freaking out!"
In the end I saw totally why Germany won, and I think it is fair to say why Lena won - a high school senior, still waiting her abitur, who applied rather diffidently to the German part of the competition and just kept winning everyone over. She is an utter charmer.

I hope this year is different and she makes a career of it. That would be unusual.
But thanks Eurovision! That streaming sort of worked this year (occasional burps but pretty good).

The Middle East According to the CBC

This morning's 'The Current' pretty much outdid any previous attempt they have made at disguising advocacy as reporting in their short 'report' on the Free Gaza flotilla battle that cost ten or more lives. The whole report consisted of two interviews, one with a friend, and one with a relative, of useful idiots who were part of the flotilla, both probably exactly the idealists and dreamers the interviewees described.
They were neither on the Turkish ship so may have missed, or simply misunderstood, the chants described here, and the commitments made clear.
On the day before the Gaza flotilla confronted the Israeli navy, Al-Jazeera TV documented the pre-battle atmosphere created by men on board the flotilla, who chanted a well-known Islamic battle cry invoking the killing and defeat of Jews in battle:
"[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!"
Khaibar is the name of the last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad's army in 628. Many Jews were killed in that battle, which marked the end of Jewish presence in Arabia. There are Muslims who see that as a precursor to future wars against Jews. At gatherings and rallies of extremists, this chant is often heard as a threat to Jews to expect to be defeated and killed again by Muslims.
It is my offhand guess that the useful idiots really are idiots rather than connivers, but one cannot be sure. One can be sure what the intentions of those running the Free Gaza efforts were, now successful.
Yesterday I followed the news agencies and they conveyed Zionist threats to stop the convoy and prevent it from entering Gaza; on the other side, those with faith and will once again call out upon hearing the reports of the threats: '[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!'"
Hamas TV Host: "Strong motivation."
Shayyeq Naaman: "One woman standing on the ship said that now we are awaiting one of two happy endings: either Martyrdom or the beaches of Gaza.
Given the probability in these circumstances of reaching the Gaza shore, I'd say they achieved the other goal handily.
And have given outfits like the CBC an opportunity to prove their lack of journalistic professionalism yet again by leaving this sort of information completely out of their reports.
I am ashamed to be forced to fund this farce of an advocacy group pretending to be a national news outlet.
UPDATE: I should mention as well the hilarious and consistent descriptions by the CBC reports of this effort as a 'humanitarian' effort carrying 'aid'. Part of that might be true but it was not the point, unless one wants to studiously ignore reality (as the CBC seems at times determined to do).
UPDATE: The videos here seem to show pretty clearly that the IDF story fits far better than the story presented on the CBC from the firends/relatives of the useful idiots aboard other ships. Much as I am saddened at the carnage it looks fully justified to me.
I plan to listen to the Current tomorrow and see if they phone these folks back and ask them about what is the pretty obvious evidence that not everybody on that flotilla was trained not to confront armed IDF soldiers. What chance do you think there is that will happen?
UPDATE: A sibling has commented, making great claims in ignorance of international law. The boarding was of course entirely sensible, not that I expect that sibling to actually check international law. Better just to stick to his murderous buddies.

There are Still Great Things about Universities

Whole faculties across the industry may have turned into intellectual cesspools, but this extracurricular group at the University of Oregon makes me feel pretty good about that institution.

It says something about how great and ingeniously constructed a song it is that it can be done so effectively a capella.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Too Sweet

Eight-month old gets a cochlear implant and hears for the first time.
Keep the 'deaf culture' people away from this kid, please.
h/t Instapundit, who rightly says, as so often, "Faster, please".

UPDATE: I hear YouTube has taken this lovely parody down; why I know not.
You can still see it here.
UPDATE: A nice story from David Henderson.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Janna Levin

UPDATE: Actually I meant that this wonderful line from her book be my title. Too late now but here it is, describing us as a species: "That was us - funny and lousy and great all at once."
A couple of weeks ago a friend drew me out to attend these talks.
As a result, I decided to look at Janna Levin's books and the Toronto Public Library system coughed them both up.
She is an interesting academic; the first book is a sort of odd diary of her academic life (and that IS interesting - in physics it seems you go on for years visiting before settling). However, you need to be willing to buy into a rather small, though at the same time large, question.
The second book seems in no way related to physics; it is an imaginative biography of Alan Turing and Kurt Goedel, the two figures who most drew me into my first career as a mathematician. That book was a heartbreaker, a lovely piece of work, and I recommend it to anyone.

Reading Questionnaire

h/t Norm and Harriet

Do you snack while reading? Rarely.

What is your favourite drink while reading? Herbal tea.

Do you tend to mark your books while you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I read mostly library books now, and am appalled when I see notes written in them, though I am very curious about what people say as they annotate. So no, I never do it myself.

How do you keep your place? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book open flat? Generally, Zelinde Kaiser bookmarks (a local real estate agent who advertises by leaving very durable bookmarks).

Fiction, non-fiction or both? A mix.

Do you tend to read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere? I try to end chapters, though in some cases I will simply toss in the towel anywhere, hoping my memory will work well enough.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you? Never.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away? Only if it seems to matter; it rarely seems to matter.

What are you currently reading? Janna Levin's "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines".

What is the last book you bought? That is tough. Since retiring over a year ago, my reading needs have been more than filled by the local library and my mother's hand-me-down system. Probably Scott Kelby's "The Digital Photography Book`.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read? At this time of year, mid-afternoon (after `Law and Order`and `Without a Trace`) in the western sun on my front porch.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones? No preference. Enjoy lots of both. As for series, I think the great recent tragedy is the death of Stieg Larsson, and the closedown of the Lisbeth Salander series.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over? Scott Turow. Bernd Heinrich.

How do you organise your books (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)? Having discovered the library system here in Toronto, I am actually trying to unload books, so organizing is a small issue.

Barbara's additional question: background noise or silence? Background noise. From childhood on (one of seven siblings) I have been unable to really concentrate in silence.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's a Catastrophe! Relax! Solar

I am delighted to simply outsource my review of Ian McEwan's "Solar". The novel is an utter joy, causing me to chuckle on almost every page.
There is no weirder feeling than outsourcing my review to RealClimate, but hey the review is spot on!

Fish in a Barrel - Matt Ridley Version

Matt Ridley is interviewed by a typical NPR host about his new book The Rational Optimist. It's not really fair but it is fun.


This oil spill has been awful and perhaps an interesting lesson in many ways.
I think the most interesting reflection on it comes from a post by Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit, which I suspect few have read as that blog is at best marginally about oil spills.
In the post McIntyre cites BP's VP for Deepwater Development in the Gulf of Mexico:
These are new challenges for the industry, and challenges which are being addressed at an ever-increasing pace. We find ourselves designing floating systems for 10 000 ft of water depth before the lessons of working in 6000 ft have been fully identified. And these new challenges are not just depth-related. Failure mechanisms, such as fatigue, driven by vortex-induced vibration (VIV) and vessel motion, are time-dependent and may take years to become apparent. The same is true of equipment reliability. We know the premium associated with hardware reliability is high, but at this stage, operators still have a limited failure database for forecasting the required levels of intervention in ever-deeper and more remote environments.
He clearly knew this might be a step too far; that nobody knew how to deal with the utterly predictable blowout. Regulatory authorities must have known as well; great job they did.
Of course as we speak it may be that BP is now finally figuring out the answers to some of these questions; we shall see, and I sure hope they do. There is no question the US Federal Government has proven it has nothing useful to add.
The BP Veep put this really well:
In particular, be rigorous in front end loading, and very clear about the scale and nature of the “size of the step” you are seeking to take. Recognize that what may initially appear to be an incremental change can often turn out to be much more profound. Develop multiple contingency plans. And be prepared to work closely with suppliers to drive up reliability and reduce risk.
This whole problem was, as he points out, created utterly at the front end, with the connivance of the government.
McIntyre follows with another thing I like about him - the quant wants a gut feel for the spill rate and asks for a very simple piece of data:
In order to get 5,000 barrels/day, you would have to have a discharge velocity of 0.1 mph instead of my friend’s guess of 2 mph or a smaller effective pipe diameter. [See update below as this latter seems to be the case, though not down to 5,000 bbl/day. Looks like 15-20,000 is more probable.]
I wonder how they arrived at their estimate of 5,000 barrels/day. Maybe their Group Vice President, Research and Engineering should have spent more time trying to figure this out and less trying to hide the trick to hide the decline.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

DWTS - 2010 Finale

ABC milks this franchise brilliantly and the finale show was superb; it is delightful seeing the odd bits of live TV.
I started watching this series only last year, because of Melissa Rycroft.
My one reservation is that it is awfully hard on people who are not professional performers. In some sense, all the finalists, Andrews, Lysacek, and Scherzinger are performers, but Andrews is a reporter, where both the others work their bodies professionally.
Watching now in my second year as a viewer, I am coming to enjoy the personalities not just of the 'celebrities' (many of whom I had never heard of before the show), but also of the professional dancers. There is no question Anna Trebunskaya has a personality! And Derek Hough's professionalism is impressive. Is Maksim just a showboater? It may take me another year to assess, but he got one great samba out of Erin last night.
As Len said, this was a stunning season, and it certainly was far above what I saw last year, even into the finals. Good job ABC!
As it came to the end, I was cheering, like any red-blooded sports fan, for ESPN`s Erin Andrews, but also knew that Nicole Scherzinger was far and away the class of the field.
But as Carrie Ann said, this was a fantastic year to watch the celebrity performers improve! The kind of reality show I like.
Congratulations to Nicole.

Cordoba House

This really does appall me.
It reminds me of a note from a former correspondent who asserted with certainty that all this suicide bombing and Islamist murder was the result of 'occupation'; I recall agreeing as long as he recognized that the fact that Spaniards live in Spain was part of this 'occupation' - after all, bin Laden's first triumphalist tape railed against the 'tragedy of al Andalus'.
So now the mischief makers will be calling their new triumphalist exercise 'Cordoba', reminding dar al Islam of al Andalus, while we dumbies miss the point.
My guess it would be much better to resist this crap now; what will happen instead is that this will keep creeping forward until it becomes utterly obvious that it is not tenable, and then it will be very ugly to sort out.
We'll see.
I hope the creeping goes on long enough that I get to miss the resolution.


h/t ZooBorns

Amnesty International Continues to Flush Itself Down the Toilet

And Gita Shagal gets to document the process.
the organisation has sanitized the reputation of Moazzam Begg, a former Guanatamo detainee. They have treated him as a human rights advocate, although he champions Anwar al Awlaki and al Timmimi.
Pathetic and unbelievable, unless their leaders are infected with the usual lefty disease, in which case this is just pathetic.
Soon, they claimed that his views were indeed universalist but that he supported ‘defensive jihad.’ – which is, after all waged to establish systematic discrimination. Amnesty International felt that this view was not ‘antithetical to human rights. Although he published in a Muslim Brotherhood journal and has associated with the Jamaat I Islami the senior leadership decided to endorse him as a human rights advocate, which they had refrained from doing before the crisis.
Well, he IS against America so must be a good guy.
And they are not alone.
Most western human rights and civil liberties organizations have watched the unfolding crisis in a frozen and complicit silence. They say nothing because they too have committed similar errors of judgement, supporting proponents of radical Islam rather than simply defending their rights. Too often in Britain, entirely legitimate concerns about racism and the marginalization of Muslims are allied to the promotion of groups associated with the Jamaat I Islami and Muslim Brotherhood.
Their programmes of social control such as promotion of the hijab are supported quite uncritically. The actions of human rights advocates mirror those of governments from Chechnya to the UK. Recruit former insurgents or fundamentalists and subcontract them to provide surveillance and control over the mass of the population. Defeat one form of fundamentalism by supporting another.
Human rights groups have entirely ignored this story and as a result simply cannot tell the story of the times within which we live. There is a void, where there should be analysis of the organizational forms and ideological links of western Islamists. There is silence on ‘faith based initiatives as part of soft ‘counter-terrorism’ strategies. They cannot accuse governments without accusing themselves.
Their knees just keep jerking! PROMOTION of the hijab?! I am of two minds about bans on face covering, but I am certainly against anyone trying to spread this fatuous behavior.
I hope Gita Sahgal can carry out her current project:
As Amnesty trundles towards its 50th anniversary, I will be working with others to ensure that whether Amnesty is covering up or cleaning up, whether the review provides any answers, the hidden history of human rights will be put on record. Peter Benenson said that we work in Amnesty against oblivion. If human rights organizations can no longer tell their own stories, others will do it for them.
It is sad to see a once-repected organization turn to crap, but then so has the left in general, once committed to civil liberties, turn into a confederate of the most reactionary and totalitarian forces in the world. Hey! Wait a second! Wasn't the left fairly recently a pretty strong ally of the Communist world. Yeah they were - better go off and think some more.

Could We Have One of These Please for Mayor of Toronto?

And some straight talk to a privileged teacher.

Well, I Did Not Know This

And I am grateful for YouTube and the obsessive who did the documentation!

h/t BoingBoing


I never watched an episode, and judging from the various bloggers I regularly read who did watch the show, I feel vindicated.
Had I watched it I probably would have agreed with Will Wilkinson's disappointment at the finale.
But really! It's just a TV series! What is all this nonsense about mulitple universes?
The finale of Lost pretended to be about the ultimacy and redemptive power of love, or something like that, but it exemplified instead the incoherent ruinous mess of our needy scattershot attachments, our whorish readiness to be doped by the dull, warm, indeterminate golden light. Speak not to me of love, Lost, if you know not love.
I suspect that the guys who wrote 'Lost' are having a giggle at all the bloggers who are doing far more literary work than they ever did.

Business Models in Flux

An interesting article at TechCrunch.
Performers are clearly going to have to be quite fit in the future.
Gaga originally broke out on YouTube and MySpace Music (which Braun was quick to say is dead), and Carter has now discovered a new star on YouTube, Grayson Chance. When asked about advertising, carter says that Lady Gaga’s videos include pre-roll and post-roll advertising (thanks to Vevo) but said that advertising isn’t a large revenue source. Record companies keep the bulk of the money made from ads and the remaining trickles down to the artists. Carter and Braun both agreed that concert tours are the main revenue stream for artists.
There are many other interesting implications. What becomes of VH1, MTV, MuchMusic? It seems that is already happening.

Copyright and Fashion

As the Canadian government seems likely to bring to the House an utterly stupid and oppressive "Intellectual Property" law, Johanna Blakley explains how the fashion industry does not seem to require all the nonsense we are about to suffer pretty much anywhere else.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Do I Utterly Love 'Bad Romance'?

I am hoping tonight's 'Glee' will help me on this. All I know is I love watching the video in ways I never could watch Madonna. My guess is that Stephanie Germanotta is just REALLY smart.
I love her eyes, and I love the anthem-like quality of the song.
The lyrics are rather more fearless than I might like but they make a point.
The dancing takes Michael Jacksonitis to a new level (which I do not much care for).
And the times the chorus blows out are fabulous!
And if you have the usual nonsencial notions about Lady Gaga I recommend this interview.

Bryant Case Dismissed

The terminology of the subject line may be bogus but that is the story.
The night of the event it seemed to me most media were ready to dump blame on Bryant; after all the victim was a bicyclist. And I will confess, I had that leaning, though I have NO taste for the quixotic and unpredictable behavior of bicyclists around me as I drive in downtown Toronto, and this is particularly true of those carrying courier packs. They do not behave on their bicycles as I do when I am out bicycling.
What is great is that the prosecution took special care to document what a clown (wrong word, he was more vicious) the victim here was. Bryant clearly deserves a full exoneration, except for the bad decision of driving a convertible.
My guess is we have several days of nonsense ahead as cycling advocates of various forms invent ways to protest - hey, maybe they can integrate with the G8/G20 protests.
We'll outlast it in the end. There are only so many idiots.

This is How to Start the Day!

h/t BoingBoing (where you can see what a few years have done to Jessica)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Turkey is Depressing Me

Dani Rodrik, who usually blogs somewhat skeptically about free trade, focuses in a recent post in current events in Turkey and it is not a pretty sight.
Reading his post, I did take note of his personal connection to the Operation Sledgehammer affair, but the PowerPoint presentation he links to is pretty compelling. The linked articles do a nice job of portraying a very complex world.

What's Up With the Duke 88 Bullies and Charlatans?

K.C. Johnson, who stalwartly blogged through the original shameful lacrosse 'rape' farce, expounds some details. He summarizes:
In any other profession, behavior as outrageous as that exhibited in the lacrosse case by the faculty in Duke's humanities and (some) social sciences departments would have prompted at the least intensive soul-searching and (in the corporate world, at least), dismissal. Principles of academic freedom, appropriately, guard against retaliatory action toward professors who take ill-conceived positions. But with the rights of academic freedom are supposed to come responsibilities as well---including open-mindedness in pursuit of the truth. The Group's utter lack of accountability---and what it says about the state of the fields that they dominate---reflects the malaise that continues to beset contemporary higher education.
The moral poverty of the academic environment these people work in is stunning; read the whole thing. It leaves me profoundly depressed but rather glad I did not stay in academia, though of course I was not in the social sciences or any faculty holding any of these people.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Way Cool Photo

Just go look!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Muslim Immigration I am Utterly Comfortable With

Send more.

UPDATE: There could be an interesting twist if the Miss USA people do not like the facts on the ground. The second-place finisher is in favor of the Arizona illegal immigration bill. Good luck, Donald Trump.

Universities Competing to Become the Most Ludicrous Institutions

Oh for Pete's sake!
How stupid can an institution get? A faculty member in medicine cannot hear about some (certainly surprising to me) animal behavior?
h/t Instapundit

Scott Johnson Finds a Great Blog Post Title

Did Elena Kagan bear Trig Palin?
As he tries to figure out what is going on in what seems to be left of Andrew Sullivan's brain.

Alda Takes Us Inside the Ash Cloud

This is a great little video.
Rather than embed, I will just link, as I think her written commentary is worth a read as you watch her excellent video.

I Could Hardly Believe That This Sort of Thing Passed For Science

Steve McIntyre, the very talented amateur (in the best sense - capable with the skills needed, but being paid for something else) summarizes his wonderfully profound effect on recent climate science, and certainly does nothing much for the reputation of some so-called 'scientists'.
You can see it on PJTV here (from about 1:54 to 2:30). (UPDATE: That link is broken - thanks All an! You canwatch the talk at Steve's own blog, along with his commentary.)
This is a great lecture; it fills in details I have long lacked, especially regarding the careers of many of the main players.
And by the way, I agree with Steve about the quote in the subject line, and I also agree that this particular debate has little to do with whether we should worry about carbon emissions.
I also love the clear disdain Steve has for much of the academic community's behavior, with his choice after a PhD to enter private industry, where the consequences of some of the described behaviors would be quite serious.
Personally, I find the shoddiness of the behavior of the academics Steve describes utterly astonishing.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This Does Deserve to be Better Known

I fear this is behavior of an excellent, but bygone, era. I certainly hope I am wrong.
We note that Mr Arkell's attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.
Just excellent!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Feeling 22, Acting 17

At 61 I find the line wonderfully nuts but it actually expresses something so true, and the promised hours on YouTube are working out.  Katie Mulea rules!
Thank you, Katie's parents!  What a beautiful performance!

Embarking Humans

Norm has found a great instance of what has seemed the blight of my lifetime, the obsession with re-labeling.  The real story he tells is hilarious, but even better are his proposed re-labelings.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where Will We Have Freedom if not at Universities?

What a pusillanimous bunch of administrators!  And how typical of Western universities now.
But officials at Uppsala University said they doubted they would invite Lars Vilks again after police used pepper spray and batons to help him escape a furious crowd Tuesday.
I like his attitude though!

"I'm ready to go up again," he said. "This must be carried through. You cannot allow it to be stopped."The 53-year-old artist has faced numerous threats over his 2007 sketch of Muhammad with a dog's body.
The institutional cowardice of Western universities has become stunning, as they work so hard to try to suppress the likes of Vilks, while happily supporting farces like Israel Apartheid Week.  They crumble before threats of violence.

I'll give credit - back in the '70s, when I went to Berkeley, I arrived to find the campus surrounded by Alameda County Sheriffs' staff, shoulder to shoulder.  Sure, they were defending the rights of a rather different set of people to speak, but one no more commendable.

Where did those times go?  I would be ashamed to be working for many Western Universities.  In defence of the one that I have a small connection to, Ann Coulter did manage to speak at the University of Western Ontario.


Coincidence often creates a sense that something was meant by an actor that does not act.
And I have been through a good run of that today!
My last post showed I had discovered Katie Melua and was about to start my research on her, which has been delightful! As the heroes of my generation die off it is SO great to have these younger ones coming up.
In reading the Wikipedia entry, I learn it is a song about Eva Cassidy that caused Mike Batt to pay attention to her and basically get her career started.
So last winter one of my Australian nieces visited and we had a great party, and on top of it, her father (one of my brothers) had brilliantly sent gifts to his siblings, in the form of CDs I assume meant something to him. I got first dibs, and grabbed the Eva Cassidy CD. Of course I have not opened it; I cannot recall the last time I played a CD. I shall try to fall asleep to it tonight.
Then from another front came yet another sign! One of my daily blog reads is the Minnesota group blog PowerLine and what happens but we get a post by Scott Johnson on Irving Berlin, certainly the greatest American songwriter, featuring Eva Cassidy yet again! In this rendition of Berlin's great 'Cheek to Cheek', a rendition I don't much like, but I feel the God that does not exist is manipulating me.

So there are hours ahead of me on YouTube!

Wit and Charm

Great talk by Michael Shermer. What really caught my attention was the closing story, that has improved my world enormously by exposing me to Katie Melua. There will be some hours ahead on YouTube.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Aren't They Lovely People?

The fewer the better I would say.

Swedes should feel like fools.

So Long Gordon Brown

This is how it should have gone, but it remains sad. For all 'The Deal' tried to minimize Blair, it also did not quite do justice to the deep substance of Gordon Brown.
But this Labour era is one that should end, and so does it now.
Best wishes to David Cameron. What a challenge he has!

Perfect Doesn't Exist - DWTS

Subject line comes from the intro to DWTS last night.
I called it last week and I suspect Chad goes tonight, which I will regret, as it means the very complicated Cheryl Burke also goes! I think if I were to be chosen as a celebrity dancer, I would want Cheryl as my coach. Niecy is the least interesting of the remaining dancers but Louis is very good and may keep her alive.
But dear God 7s across the board for Chad - this was a bad start! 7 is the clear compromise OK vote. Niecy gets a couple of 8s.
Erin is a curious case - last week in the bottom two after getting great scores. Is it that sports fans do not vote but their wives do and do not like her? Twenty years ago you oculd know your husband watching sports shows was not enjoying the sight of an Erin Andrews. The world is different. And her tango was magnificent! So sweet how Buzz Aldrin cheered her.
Of course Evan Lysacek and Nicole Scherzinger, as the professional performers, have an enormous advantage. Lysacek - solid 9s. Scherzinger - aces her first dance - 10's and a 9. The game is on!
Second round. Not a lot of change. Let's toss Niecy or Chad.
Well, OK I like Erin but Nocole Scherzinger is shocking how good she is. I loved Carrie Ann's helpless giggling.
Any other outcome would be silly but how do they create drama?

Law and Order SVU - Sharon Stone Improvement

Welcome ADA Jo Marlowe! The show did need a little extra life, and adding Sharon Stone as Jo Marlowe is a great shot.
I sure hope this is for more than just a couple of episodes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Stormy Weather

I have no wish to be creative in this tribute; in the middle of the night I heard the song and knew what it meant.

The world shrinks a little more for those of my generation.

Sweating the Details

This is a fine summary from Roger Pielke Jr. on what systematically goes so wrong with the climate change 'disucssion'.
In a response to Revkin, Peter Gleick illustrates what is all too common among scientists who call for action on climate change -- he seems to suggest that those who point out inaccuracies are the problem, not those who commit the original errors:
This is just an excellent summary.
The garrison mentality will finally discredit those sticking to it.
As Pielke puts it so well:
What Gleick call's "muddying the public's attention" is what many people would simply call "getting the facts right."

Ethical Squirming

This was one painful bit of reading. More painful, no doubt for the mice.
Dr Ned Buyukmihci, of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, said: “This study was not intended to improve or positively impact on the welfare of mice ... rather just to find a new way of determining if a mouse is showing pain.”
Time to go rethink vegetarianism. (No I do not eat mice knowingly so this is not an entirely consistent response.)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Amazing Race Finale

We are here in a couple of minutes!
We start in Shanghai, one of the most amazing cities I have ever been in. And now to San Francisco, a stunning city I have always loved!
The brothers lost me in the first 10 minutes with the line-jumping. Curious to see where this leads. But give the brothers credit - they pick a bicyclist and he identifies the tower!
My God! Rock-climbing on COIT Tower!
The mutual respect of all the remaining teams is quite nice.
And what a witty final major challenge at Lucasfilm! How much did Lucas pay?
Of course the cowboys are also brothers so it got funnier, especially as they hate to give up their hats! I have NO idea what went on at Lucasfilms.
I am utterly impressed that the brothers were prepared for a memory challenge! So good. They are not my favorites but they have been good.
Of these last teams there is not one I am against. I especially believe Caite has removed the idea that she is an idiot; the brothers may cavil but they have courage and determination, and the cowboys are cowboys in the best sense.
Too funny at the end that memory is the theme! As it has been on the blog.
I do have fond memories of Candlestick Park myself. The caviling brothers were not my favorites but I think it was not a bad season finish! I still wish the cowboys had won, and I am glad Caite is decidedly provably no fool! (Fun to see how sour the lesbians still look! - and the lesbians remain assholes!)
Good job Amazing Race. I look forward to next year!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

I Can Do V-E Day II as Well

Rondi beat me to it so go through her to Conrad Blacks's very moving reflections.
He has, like me, a lot of time on his hands, and I think he may be embarrassing me into more useful application.

Great Job TVO - Georgy Girl This Evening

That was quick!
Great movie and features the least objectionable Redgrave of her generation!
UPDATE: Yet another memory hole - this is becoming a theme! Charlotte Rampling.

The Concept of Social Capital

Blazing Cat Fur hits the point perfectly.

OK I Know This is Not Fair

Man is she sacrificing! I know it is beyond parody but I wager she herself is a lesser criminal against the environment than Al Gore and her hero Robert Kennedy Jr of the fisherpeople (are they ruled by the Fisher King?) and of vaccination madness and other silliness, I am sure this is common among the inappropriately wealthy.

I am delighted to realize the House has given an expert like Ashley Judd time to testify on wildlife and climate change and economic policy issues. In fact, I doubt she would do worse than the current Democratic Congress. (Yeah, that was sarcastic.)
Disclosure: I like all the Judds, and think Ashley is beautiful, a good actress, and by far not the world's dumbest celebrity.

V-E Day

For much of my life I have wondered what this day must have felt like for everyone there. I have been so blessed in the accident of my date of birth that I have really had nothing like this to experience directly.

Married to an Austrian I also cannot help but wonder how it felt there, but of course by this day, the Austrian question had been settled by the Russians.
And by the way, I have no question in this division about who should have won.
No voice was more important in those years than Churchill's, and he proved that being a windbag can be very useful. I hope that some of the following generations' windbags will be so valuable. At the moment I see mostly just windbags.
(BTW listen to what Churchill says - the first keyword is 'freedom'; man I wish I heard that in modern speeches.)
Another deeper look at this

Now There's an Understated Headline !

China's Energy Use Threatens Goals on Warming.
This, and likely what will go on in India and other developing nations, has always been the elephant in the room.
Coal-fired electricity and oil sales each climbed 24 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, on the heels of similar increases in the fourth quarter.
Zhou Xi’an, a National Energy Administration official, said in a statement last month that fossil fuel consumption was likely to increase further in the second quarter of this year because of rising car ownership, diesel use in the increasingly mechanized agricultural sector and extra jet fuel consumption for travelers to the Shanghai Expo.
Complicating energy efficiency calculations is the fact that China’s National Bureau of Statistics has begun a comprehensive revision of all of the country’s energy statistics for the last 10 years, restating them with more of the details commonly available in other countries’ data. Western experts also expect the revision to show that China has been using even more energy and releasing even more greenhouse gases than previously thought.
The article (well worth reading all of) notes as well that China's reduction goals are all energy efficiency goals, so overstate the effect overall in an environment of rapid eceonomic growth.
When I was in China what horrified me were the disks of coal being delivered to homes for burning in stoves. I am rather less freaked out about coal in electric power plants, and it is clear there is a shift going on in that direction.
As for whether I should freak out about all this, I rather tend to this:
h/t Roger Pielke Jr for the reference to the article
h/t Watts Up With That for the graphic

Friday, May 07, 2010

British Election - Some Really Good Points

Straightforward and easy points, via Oliver Kamm. Scumbags were thoroughly repudiated.
George Galloway lost Poplar and Limehouse (where The Times is based) by a mile. The Respect vote in his former constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow collapsed.
Meanwhile the BNP not only suffered heavy defeat in the parliamentary constituency of Barking. It also lost all its twelve seats on Barking and Dagenham Council. Nick Griffin had earlier glossed his massive defeat by claiming: "The real prize is the council."
It is nice to see some small signs of actual human progress.

Another Failed Memory - Tuppence Birds in Mary Poppins

I have lived over 40 years thinking, whenever I went to London, England, that the pigeon feeder in 'Mary Poppins' fed the little beasts in Trafalgar Square.
Well it takes only a few seconds to realize how stupid I am. When I go to London I have no idea what the profile of pigeons is. So no further comment from me.

Fidelity Fiduciary Bank

I wonder what we thought back in 1964; I recall thinking this was pretty good satire. Of course now the satire should be focussed on the asses who did not believe in the utterly sensible parts of this:

The two kids here likely are our current financial executives and took all the wrong lessons.
What is most tragic is that the old coots were right about what was great about saving and investment. Fucking Sixties.

And I Thought WE Were Crazy

I can hardly imagine Canadian school kids sent home for wearing Canadian Flag T-Shirts on V-E Day or V-J Day. Oh but then we are hardly overrun with illegal German and Japanese immigrants.
Things are getting madder and madder.


Had it been Canadians waking to the results of the British election this morning, we'd have yawned in recognition that we have one more minority government.
The BBC term all morning was a 'hung Parliament', which can certainly be heard in many ways, but really carries an implication that nothing can get done! This certainly cannot be true, and I think it hides some of the fun that one can have with a minority government in a Parliamentary system.
You can have coalitions build and dissolve, you can have a government that gets some pleasure by challenging the opposition parties to dare to force yet another election (we've had a few too many in the medium past, though this treat has spared us now for a few years).
Welcome to our world!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

I think Beyonce did.

And she has never claimed otherwise.
I am an utter fan of Fosse and Verdon and of Beyonce and had no idea she was actually carefully standing on the shoulders of giants.
Culture, when it works, is SO sweet. It makes all of the rest of us so much happier people. I know Fosse and Ms. Knowles both do that for me.

CNN Can Be So Cute

In a clear attempt to rationalize they are running one of their little bottom of the screen headlines saying "Shahzad thought Islam was under attack"!
This just seems too funny to me. Over my whole life, I have felt my atheism was under attack.
The number of times I even thought of planting a major car bomb in Times Square? Zero!
Oh wait we need to apply this to where I live - let's try King and Bay in Toronto. Hmm still Zero! In fact I know nobody who has felt his or her religion under attack to plan to blow that intersection up.
No wait! I am wrong. I know of a lot of people. All Muslims, surely coincidentally.
UPDATE: Even funnier, CNN now reports on that headline effort that the Times Square bombing is cited as a reason for tighter gun laws? Huh? I see tighter bomb laws? But surely if more people had guns more people could have shot the bomber?!

Don't Watch This if You Ate Recently

I know I should not have been suckered into watching this.

UPDATE : I cannot apologize, as I am not guilty, but this link now appears dead. Of course this improves the world a bit as you need not see Katie Holmes' clownish performanc in front of Tom Cruise's even more ridiculous one. To connect to the following video, it is an amusing point that the male being 'seduced' was gay. Funny how things carry on over the years.
After you have washed your mouth out, you can actually watch an antidote:

And so as not to forget Bob Fosse try this too:

Fosse was a transcendent genius and so much of the best expression of it involved Gwen Verdon.
But he had a great influence on some others:

More on Mr Shahzad's Academic Career

Steve Sailer digs up some more.  And it is amusing and appalling.
From the New York Times:
According to immigration officials, Mr. Shahzad arrived in the United States on Jan. 16, 1999, less than a month after he had been granted a student visa, which requires a criminal background check.

He had previously attended a program in Karachi affiliated with the now-defunct Southeastern University in Washington; a transcript from the spring of 1998, found in the garbage outside the Shelton house, showed that he got D’s in English composition and microeconomics, B’s in Introduction to Accounting and Introduction to Humanities, and a C in statistics.

GPA in Karachi = 2.0 = U.S. student visa!
 This raises, to my mind, more questions about the University of Bridgeport and Steve has the answers.

From on the U. of Bridgeport:

SAT Scores of Enrolled Freshmen
SAT Math448 average
390-490 range of middle 50%
Score of 700 - 800
Score of 600 - 700
Score of 500 - 600
Score of 400 - 500
Score of 300 - 400
Score of 200 - 300
So a pretty mediocre student body, as expected (Steve has other test scores, and the picture is consistent).

As ever Steve finishes with a flourish.
Granted, he tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square, but in return for the H1B visa, Elizabeth Arden got a "highly skilled" "temporary clerk in the accounting department." Sounds like a good deal to me! The economy would collapse if there weren't an endless supply of temporary clerks to keep wages down. As Tom Friedman has tirelessly pointed out, how can we possibly keep ahead of the Chinese unless we let all the rich families in the Islamic world unload their dumbest sons on us?

IP Stupidities

One of the finest industries on the Internet for a while was the redubbing of Hitler's freak-out scene from 'Der Untergang'.  At some point some idiot told YouTube the wonderfully creative and hilarious redubs had to be removed.  (I blame YouTube in no way - I sure blame who had the copyright to the movie.)
The right way to fix this is ridicule and complete public disdain for the morons who caused the removal of all the entertaining redubs.
BoingBoing offers this piece of ridicule:

I suppose the same morons can ask for this to come down.  But I offer prospective disdain!
But for Pete's sake, who do they think they are fooling!

Giggle - I Love the Demotivators!

h/t BoingBoing

Faisal Shahzad's Resume

We will learn a lot about this poor guy in the next weeks.
Boing Boing claims to have his resume (but also read Xeni Jardin's post and follow the links - I suspect this will be funny, no matter how good the next bomber who gets enlisted is).
For much of my work life I used to read resumes, and made decisions about who to interview and perhaps hire (and I know I was good at it), and Shahzad's is an interesting one to read. And here is how I read it.
His Objective is very vague: not necessarily bad, but this is SO vague as to suggest he would take any job whatever - this does not invite a prospective employer (well, perhaps other than someone looking for some job doing utterly routine work, but it should not even happen there).
The Career Highlights are again amusingly vague. Note for later that he accents great communication skills, always dangerous in a resume.
Now the specific Career Steps (Professional Experience).
My quick read of the Affilion work is that it is an overblown description of doing some minor spreadsheet work on their standard reporting methods. He might even simply be doing data entry. A couple of questions in an interview could sort this out nicely.
The Elizabeth Arden work sounds about the same and 'Financial Analyst' can mean quite a range of roles. The 'Operational Analyst' role description contains a big gotcha though.
Overall management and analysis of account receivable operational deductions. Responsible for reducing accounts receivable write-offs, analysis and resolution of client pricing disputes, implementing policy and procedures to eliminate reoccurring collection issues, negotiating client settlements, evaluation of collection policies at main distribution facility and daily reconciliation of general ledger accounts.
Which is it? Accounts receivable or account receivable? This is someone touting his communication skills and now he has me confused.
Seeing this I begin to think the job was calling clients up and asking them to pay. Again a couple of good interview questions would sort that out immediately.
The rest of his Elizabeth Arden experience as claimed does nothing to challenge these conjectures.
The work for Sound Financial could be simply small edits to a website, arranging taxis and sandwiches for visitors, and asking the odd question about the website. Again a couple of interview questions would expose whether there was more.
On to Education! University of Bridgeport. Never heard of it! A few interview questions would tell me whether the MBA means anything. Ditto the other degrees. But realize that 'Management Information Systems' can be utterly meaningless in terms of any real skills.
OK so now he lists skills. And really none of the 'skills' listed are anything more than his showing he had a course in which he used some piece of software.
Now I personally would never have bothered to interview this candidate at all. There is no hint of having done anything significant or creative. And this would be true if I were hiring for much lower-level skills than I actually hired for.
The most devastating thing to my mind was the comprehensive list:
Cognos, Hyperion, BRIO financial, Truecomp, Funnel, Artemis, Business Objects, JBA AS400 accounting and operations systems, Excel, PowerPoint, Word, FoxPro, Front Page, SwishMax, Showcase database query tools, email tools and Internet experience.
Let's toss in the kitchen sink too! None of these is a computer skill - almost all are simply obsolete or soon-to-be-so pieces of software.
My wild guess - this kid figured his weak background should have bought him a lot more in American society (i.e. other hiring agents read his resume as I do) and that led him into the hands of those who told him how bad the infidels were.
The neat thing is that his computer technical skills were perhaps even better than his bomb-building ones.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mad Men Barbies?

What an awesome idea! Here is an interview with the designer.
The answer to the question of why the initial set includes Don, Roger, Betty, and Joan:
We wanted it to be a nice grouping of characters that were representative of the show, both in terms of costume and in terms of the look of the doll. Of course, since it's Mad Men, it's a very male-heavy cast but it was important for it to be more than Don Draper surrounded by Barbie dolls and I thought that Roger was a really nice yin to Don's yang and they represent two distinct looks which is nice for the collectors and fans of the show. They don't want two dolls that seem too similar. And for the women, that was easy, the only downside was that we haven't done Peggy. Yet.
That 'yet' made me feel a lot better.
h/t Basket of Kisses

Great News - Monarch Butterfly Reaches Ontario

A sighting has been reported from Rondeau Provincial Park.
Apparently a pretty faded spcimen; this is awfully early according to my memory.
There has been a lot of concern about this year's migration because of the terrible flooding near the overwintering sites in Mexico last winter.

Nick Cohen on Pascal Bruckner's New Book

Well worth a read:
This remains a formidable book, which ends with a repetition of lessons we ought to have learned long ago. You cannot respect other cultures until you first respect your own. Democratic societies can commit huge follies and crimes, but they are best able to remedy mistakes because they have a built-in capacity to reform. The Enlightenment values that underpin them are not Western values but universal values, and the more widely they are spread and the more vigorously they are defended, the safer panicky, guilt-ridden Europeans will be.
The Sixties have much to answer for and the fact that many of the people from that period have not grown out of their Sixties infantilism is a very sorry fact and gives jihadists in particular, but also the ridiculous surviving lefties who do not feel refuted by the collapse of communism, an edge into some degree of influence. It is not a pretty sight. Bruckner also understands the narcissism behind the Sixties self-infatuation and its damage.
Another book for my Library hold list, when I finish the rather too large pile currently checked out.

That Fearsome Anti-Muslim Backlash

As Rondi points out, our rather brain-dead journalists seem to be terribly worried that if the obvious is mentioned I will go knock down that minaret I like so much in my neighborhood. The minaret, like the high points of many neighborhood churches, are all attractive features of structures that mean nothing to me spiritually, since I have no idea what 'spiritually' means, other than being amazed at the awesomeness of what cosmology and the theory of evolution suggest to me.
Look! I have not done it yet nor have any of my neighbors. The problem here is with the Muslims who keep trying to blow me up (generically as an infidel, or actually even others as inconvenient co-religionists - hell, they were there and we needed to make a statement), not the potential backlashers (who have yet to show any signs of lashing back, despite multiple attacks). I have no wish to blow them up at all. Generally they're pretty cool, with a unique fashion sense, and their own approach to slaughter of animals, and then making pizza from the dead animals.


Well this novel has to go onto my Library hold list.
I really enjoyed this interview (Part 2 here)with E. O. Wilson, though it struck me in a way that Anna Maria in her CBC manner dodged some of the controversy in his career. It's great, though, to hear this Southerner sound like a Southerner, and display such a great sense of humor combined with such good sense and seriousness. I love his utterly accurate characterization of the American spirit. And his interest in ants is marvelous; my favorite exchange:
Anna Maria: What do you admire about the way those societies operate?
Wilson: Almost nothing. There is very little to emulate.
After you listen to this entertaining interview, check out Steve Sailer's lovely take on the book, which in no way ducks what made Wilson persona non grata on whatever was called the left in the '70s (they were as sorry then as they are now, burning banks in Greece, dreaming of totalitarian solutions).
... most first-time novelists aren’t octogenarians. Nor are they, typically, the world’s top expert on ants. They haven’t been famous / notorious since the 1975 publication of their scientific masterwork, Sociobiology, either. Nor are they the chief inventor of the influential cause of preserving biodiversity.
And, generally speaking, autobiographical novels don’t include a 73-page centerpiece narrating the genocidal wars between ant colonies that young Raff tracks for his Insect Study merit badge. Or at least they don’t recount them from the ants’ point of view, with dialogue exchanged via chemical secretions: “The signals now proclaimed, Food, food. I have found food, follow my trail!” (While “ant fiction” sounds odd, to say the least, Wilson, a two-time Pulitzer winner, is a crackerjack storyteller. His ant chapters are as dramatic as the finest nature documentaries.)
And while many novelists are nostalgists, few are as thoroughly pro-conservative as E. O. Wilson. When it comes to sympathetic portrayals of white Republican Southerners, Wilson’s Anthill makes the recent Sandra Bullock hit movie The Blind Side seem like a Paul Krugman op-ed.

Unintended Consequences

In a form I had not considered, but, as ever, the bane of public policy:
A husband has vowed to keep his wife indoors after she became the first woman in Italy to be fined for wearing a burka in public.
Amel Marmouri, 26, was handed the 500 euro (£430) penalty after she was spotted queuing inside a post office by police with her body and face fully covered by the garment.
She was warned she would receive another fine if she were spotted again in her burka.
Yesterday her husband said as a result he had no option but to stop her from going out.
I hate to admit it - this is funny. Of course not for the wife, but for the clowns who decided on regulations that were responded to in this way.
The regulations or laws might get more fundamental, but even then I am not sure it would help when such and alien way of thinking is in our midst.
Afterthought #1 : This is not true. Seems likely to me.
Afterthought #2 : Would it make sense to ban any face covering, including, say, hoodies? I think I find that a bit much but I can see the point, and to be honest, am happy to be exposed as I wander about in public.
UPDATE: Seems the actual laws in question in Italy were exactly what I think makes sense. So I take back any suggestion that the laws are inappropriate.

Dancing With the Stars - Pamela Goes

I feel sorry for her Mom but not for the show. She has been in many ways the least interesting dancer of the last few weeks and clearly should not win, so the exact scheduling of her departure is no big problem.
What I find sad is that Erin Andrews was in the bottom two; OK I am a guy and I like sports reporters. Playboy pinups, not so much actually.
It's clear the least capable dancer at this point is Chad but he clearly has a fan following and I could imagine changing my opinion at the rate he is improving. And he is partnered with Cheryl Burke, who has in the past been a great coach.

The Good Thing is These Guys are Stupid So Far

But I do not for a second believe that the Jihadi idiots (so far) are not determined; they are clearly pretty incompetent but they can fix that over time.
And we are incompetent. Just listen to the Mayor of New York stupidly declaiming that the Times Square bomb attempt might be about Obamacare, or Eric Holder idiotically ascribing the failure of the attempt to citizen vigilance; the failure was due to the incompetence of the bomber. The next one will likely be smarter.
They've had varying competence so far, at a generally poor level, but determination will cause them to overcome their natural deficiencies and get better at killing us.
I hope we have governments committed to stopping them. I thought so once, and am less sure now.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Memories Are Made of This

One thing that struck me at my weekend funeral is how easily I could build memories that simply are not true.
TCM gave me another chance last night by running the wonderful "Breakfast at Tiffany's".
I knew Audrey Hepburn had died young but was surprised she outlived me (at my current age - I hope to beat her by a lot) by two years (at the moment), but I clearly recalled George Peppard dying in his 40's when in fact IMDB says he outlived Hepburn by a couple of years and I have yet to match his lifetime (and certainly not his list of wives! and it included the fabulous Elizabeth Ashley - what a man!!)
Now this is NOT the right way to watch such a great movie and I can get back into it but it is a great way to cause me to wonder what the heck I think I actually know!
Always a good question.

Culture Wars in Canada's Boomerland

A few years ago I joined Canada's imitation AARP, suitably called CARP, and for a few years enjoyed getting their monthly magazine featuring various life insurance policies , supposedly (but not really) discounted car insurance offers, and endless articles on medical problems.
About a year ago, entirely unanticipated by me, I started getting some new form of magazine, from CARP - though I had to do some detective work to figure it out, featuring highly active and high-profile old coots like me! Well, not like me, because they were all so cool. The reinvisioned CARP magazine was Zoomer!
When I learned that Moses Znaimer had taken a key role in CARP it was pretty obvious what had happened; this guy has such been a great creative force in Canada. He created the CITY TV network, one of the most delightful things ever to happen in Canadian media; and with it an incredible infusion of new immigrants into the roles of key faces on Toronto TV screens. Though he no longer has control of most of this media, his influence shows through every minute watching his old stations and it is lovely.
He was the builder of some of the best multicultural aspects of Canadian Life. (And there are lots of crappy ones, but none I currently attribute to him - mostly to various government people.)
So what does Zoomer get from the National Post? A peevish complaint!?
Well, I kind of understand the point - it is a lot of pressure to feel you should be out jogging and bicycling and all that, oh and walking in high heels, and taking exciting vacations, and all that. But in my early 60s I welcome the small pressure it puts on to keep my on the treadmill and the bike and out jogging.
I think Moses, who is one of the great creative geniuses of my generation, or maybe just before it, who deserves the last word:
Zoomer is comprehensive, not "schizophrenic." Is a women's magazine schizophrenic because it offers recipes as well as stories about violence against women in the Congo? The very concept of what it means to age is now being redefined by all demographics within the larger 45+ cohort. How one responds to aging is a deeply personal choice and Zoomer offers its readers the option to embrace the challenges and changes aging brings without feeling pressured into any one mould. As Ms. Silcoff's mother seems to share this view, I am happy to offer her a complimentary subscription to our magazine.
And, as we are not ageist, the offer stands for Ms. Silcoff as well.
The smartest guys in the room often stand out easily.

Dancing With the Stars - Heading for another Elimination

I do not think I can recall it being so good in recent years (the only years when I watched).
Carrie Ann pointed out the simple fact that Nicole Scherzinger was the best dancer who had ever appeared on the show on the celebrity side, and this seems pretty obvious to me. She has utterly astonished already in a couple of weeks and certainly was superb last night.
But for heaven's sake, even Chad Ocho Cinco, hopelessly stiff in early weeks, was looking pretty good last night!
And last week's endless string of 7 scores was fixed last night.
I think I will regret any elimination tonight other than Pamela Anderson, though the judge's comments that she takes on the character of each dance seems to me spot on.

World Cup Anthems - WTF? - How Many are There?

OK this is a bit of a shock, and I agree it is rather awful. I don't like the way Shakira says Africa (vowels are pronounced too precisely for most dialects of English I know), though at least the guitar work sounds South African.

So I am mostly confused because we keep hearing in Canada that K'Naan's "Waving Flags" is the World Cup anthem, though I did notice one report suggesting that maybe it was just Coca-Cola's choice.

And look! It sounds like a soccer anthem; I grant that the lyrics are still inane.
Thank you CBC!

K'Naan's slightly inane song is the anthem of the World Cup trophy tour. Shakira's inane song is of the actual world cup. (I plan not to capitalize it any more now that it has sunk into olympic commercial exploitation territory.)
Damn! I was so looking forward to hearing 100,000 Africans singing Wavin' Flag; they will have a lot more trouble with Shakira's song, I figure, much as I like her. And it won't sound half so good.
So Wavin' Flag gets sung in airports and city halls as the trophy does its tour (it just came through Toronto and I could see no reason to check out the ceremony). And Waka Waka (??) wil be what we hear from the stadiums.
Soccer fans - you can fix this. Those commercial clowns who hand out these little trophies (and I would expect with some consideration) can be undermined.
Everyone going to the world cup this summer - sing Wavin' Flag. (I love Shakira but wow not that song, as a soccer anthem.)

Regulatory Capture

A great talk by Cory Doctorow, with many aspects. I liked the last part, on the reduction of transaction cost, and how it enables collaboration.
But the most hair-raising part is his description of the collaboration between large companies and governments to try to implement ludicrous and offensive laws, in the face of general popular opposition. For those with a childish trust in government's looking out for you, here we see a lot of governments really trying to screw you.
You can watch it here.
h/t Big Ideas

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hey I Saw That Train Wreck!

Thanks, Brad Schaeffer, for discussing at length the truly bad idea that ABC News had yesterday, enlisting an idiot like Bill Maher to participate in the discussion panel on the morning news program. This guy is a fool - he is an anti-vaccine nutter, and clearly knows almost nothing. A few of Brad's observations:
The acerbic Maher is used to making outrageous and factually empty statements on his HBO talk-show and getting nothing but an approving nod from his guests and howls of affirmation from his unwashed peanut gallery in return. But when he made this claim: “I could criticize America in general for not attacking this problem [dependency on fossil fuels] in the Seventies. I mean, Brazil got off oil in the last thirty years we certainly could’ve,” he was woefully ill-prepared to be called out on it by the acutely observant Will who pressed him: “Bill, can you just explain to me in what sense Brazil ‘got off oil’?”
It was an uncomfortable moment of reality TV as Maher played the proverbial deer in headlights. “Uh…I believe they did. I believe they, in the Seventies they had a program to use sugar cane ethanol and I believe that is what fuels their country.” A Ralph Kramden “hamana-hamana” could not have betrayed less command of the issue. Will promptly reminded the comedian: “They still burn a lot of oil and have a lot of it off-shore.”
In case Maher needs some help, EIA statistics show that Brazil produces 2.4 million barrels of oil per day and consumes roughly 2.52mm bpd–ranking it #8 on the list of oil consuming nations. It is true that they may soon be a net oil exporter…but this because their production capacity has steadily increased as new fields are tapped while consumption has remained steady, not because they are “off oil.” In fact, the largest oil discoveries in recent years have come from Brazil’s off-shore, pre-salt basins in which Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras is investing $220 billion to explore. Off-shore exploration rights have also been sold this year to BP for $7 billion. That’s a far cry from “off oil” eh Bill? But why let reality and data stand in the way of a good liberal rant? And what was Maher’s final defense in this case? “I want to make sure I read that, I know I didn’t just dream that.”
Good Heavens!
And a quick summary:
By the time he tried to change his tune, the damage of Maher’s hate-speechifying was already done and his credentials as a bona fide far-left loon with no command of the facts were firmly established for all to see. One gets the feeling that Maher himself is just smart enough to paradoxically understand how much of a fool he looked at the hands of Will–who in turn actually appeared to be enjoying helping Maher self-destruct.
In the days of George Stephanopoulos I really liked this show, and to be honest I also quite like Jake Tapper, but of course the show is being handed over to Chrstiane Amanpour, so I am pretty confident I'll be watching Fareed Zakaria at 10am on Sundays, unless CNN Does some silly shakeup (as they recently did).
And make no mistake - George Will gets a lot wrong in my view, but I have never seen such a crazy self-immolation as by Maher on that show. Now if only they could replace that woman from The Nation with someone halfway sensible, though she is at least cute, unlike Maher.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Amazing Race - Another Brutal Counting Task

Caite just keeps impressing me! Counting may seem easy but this show proves it is not. The Cowboys also came through!
Once again we learned that cab drivers matter.
I will miss the detectives.

Geez Oliver Tell Me What You Think!

Wow - has anyone ever been more clear!
Intresting that he chooses Lenin's call.
The irony is he commits to voting Labour.
I miss Tony Blair.
And did I mention it, George W. Bush.
{especially because they had principles. We seem to lack such now.)

Jeff Shalit Finds True Dimness

What a sad story.
I can only add that my wife looks great in her tuxedo!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Thanks, Goodenough Family

I want to post thanks to the Goodenough family for the funeral for my friend Terry today, and the following gathering. They allowed me to share fond memories with true friends I have missed for a while. None of us liked the circumstances; a funeral is particularly final for an atheist like me.
Maybe accidentally, I stumbled across this song from someone I am coming to think of as the best songwriter of his generation:

There are indeed only happy tears. And I know it is wrong to think of the world as shrinking, as it was clear from today's gatherings that Terry has left an enormous footprint of influence on so many lives. But to us geezers it feels a bit like shrinking. My heart says one thing - my brain knows Terry's world has expanded mine.