Monday, August 30, 2010

Drug Laws

Don Boudreaux writes yet another letter.
It becomes increasingly hard to believe these anti-drug laws do less harm than good.

Mad Men Season 4 Episode 6 Best Line

It was REALLY close.  But I loved both these lines as they so belonged to their characters.
Peggy: "It's a relief to see someone worse than me."  (Does Matthew Weiner have a Norwegian friend?)
Roger: "That part of my book [on his childhood] is getting bigger and bigger.  Why is that?"


Sunday, August 29, 2010


What a great collage of videos from the NY Times!
I like this collage in many ways; some are obvious simply from the fact I am male.  But there are others.
For one thing the videos seem to make the women look the way they really look live, not with the added pounds TV somehow seems to pack on them.
Moreover, the selection of shots (in both senses)  are pretty appropriate in many cases.
Clijsters is well known as someone who can slide wide on any surface, and her video shows what that means in terms of recovery, where she has to support herself on one hand to pop back into the air to free her feet to return to a defensive position.  Note also how she plants her right foot assuming it will slide a little farther. (And Clijsters is one who tends to look less vertical on TV, where this video shows how lean she is - I will never forget walking behind her at last year's Rogers Cup.)
The Serena video is about what one would expect - I love her concentration.  Watch the eyes.
Dementieva, the great scrambler, is filmed reaching wide for a shot, as she so often has to.  One can see easily why she plays this style so well.  It's wonderful how she's turning to get back to the court even as she hits.  And watch those eyes.
I'd never noticed Jankovic's body in general, but that clip changes my mind!
Stosur, who has been one of my favorites since the 2009 French Open, displays that musculature; watch the leg muscles vibrate!  And those arms!
They powdered up the rackets for Azarenka and Zvonareva and in both cases the video is again all about the eyes.
We are fotunate that the videos do not include the grunting and screaming that comes out of these players.
And by the way, none of them plays with the hair flowing free.
Still, an utterly enjoyable few minutes.


Views of Glen Beck's Rally

The whole event had seemed meaningless to me.  But Sean Coleman over at normblog gets quite overwrought about it (and in the process bespeaks a childish credulity of left-wing media reports about the Tea Party, and compares Beck to Father Coughlin(!)).  I think Tim Worstall has the right perspective.
Oh, right, religious peeps gather where religious peep made great speech and this is evidence of the destruction of American society.
Ho hum.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Background for Mad Men

An excellent history of advertising, fitting some of the Mad Men stuff into it.  It made me appreciate the series even more.

Economy of Expression

In the face of utter madness, Tim Worstall has a modest proposal (no irony).
At some point though wouldn’t it make more sense to simply say NEH?
Not exclusively heterosexual?
It is, after all, becoming pretty tiresome for us EHs.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Signs of the Times

A few weeks ago people were noticing the leaves changing color on local trees; a local botanist appeared on the radio and indicated that this was because of the hot and dry (at that time summer), and not because of the approaching fall.
Well, there are now other signs.
A couple of weeks ago SillyWife and I did my usual walk at Ashbridge's Bay and we noticed the quiet - the red-winged blackbirds had left for better pastures.
A few days later I noticed that the robins had gone.
On the same morning, having the seen the usual swans earlier in my walk (two adults with the two cygnets who have made it so far), I turned the corner to another bay and saw two more swans! Moreover, these guys weren't the usual sort - they were bigger and had black bills! Turns out they were Whistling Swans, and my field guide tells me they breed in the Arctic and winter in the Carolinas (typical Canadian snowbirds!).
Also, as I walk each morning, there is a much larger collection of small flitty brown birds with unfamiliar calls.
So the migration is underway.
To add to that migration, on a multi-hour drive I did yesterday, I was exposed to a constant stream of Monarch Butterflies, all headed southwest.
All those creatures seem to think we'll have winter. Oh well; maybe it will be like last winter in Toronto. Please do not let our winter be like last winter in the US Northeast.

The Outgoing Miss Universe at the Miss Universe Contest

Investor's Business Daily explains something I certainly missed (I barely know what our flag looks like) during last week's Miss Universe show, as the outgoing Miss Universe and last year's Miss Venezuela sent a message perhaps received only by Venezuelans watching.  Stefania Fernandez is clearly enjoying showing what she thinks of Hugo Chavez; and no it's not the smile that says it, it's the pre-Chavez flag.  The smile says something else about what she thinks of Chavez.
While Chavez has done so much to destroy Venezuela, the IBD article focuses on the utter failure of public security.
Ever since Chavez became president in 1999, Venezuelan cities have become hellholes in which murder rates have more than quadrupled. At 233 per 100,000, or one murder every 90 minutes, the rate in Caracas now tops that of every war zone in the world, according to an official National Statistics Institute study released Wednesday.
In fact, crime is the defining fact of life in today's Venezuela. About 96% of all murder victims are poor and lower-middle class, the very people Chavez claims to represent. "Don't venture into barrios at any time of the day, let alone at night," warns the Lonely Planet guide to Venezuela to hardy adventure travelers.
By contrast, the murder rate in cartel-haunted Juarez, Mexico, is 133 per 100,000, with Mexico's overall rate 8 per 100,000, about the same as Wichita, Kan. Colombia, fighting a narcoterror war since 1964, has an overall rate of 37 per 100,000, slightly higher than Baltimore at 36.9. The overall U.S. rate is 5.4.
Make no mistake, a murder rate like Caracas' is a crime against humanity. The absence of personal security renders all other human rights moot. By coincidence, that's just what Chavez seeks to eliminate as he turns his country into a Cuba-style socialist state. Instead of Castroite firing squads or Stalinesque gulags, Chavez outsources the dirty work of socialism to criminals while throwing dissidents in jail and threatening to censor newspapers.

This represents a mere fraction of what is wrong with Venezuela's leader.  Those who have supported this clown and thug have much to answer for.

Middle East Discussion - Totten-Spyer

A long interesting discussion of the Middle East, and how not to think about it.
One telling passage:
MJT: The Arab world has its own political culture, and it’s not like the political culture I know, or even like other Middle Eastern political cultures.
If the Palestinians had a Western political culture, the problem here could be resolved in ten minutes. If you Israelis were dealing with Canadians instead of Palestinians, you would have had peace a long time ago. And if the Palestinians were dealing with Canadians instead of Israelis, there would still be a conflict.
Jonathan Spyer: That’s exactly right. And that’s why it’s so frustrating sometimes when people say, “If only the two sides could sit down and talk.”
Israel has had its own moments of nationalist madness and score-settling and that sort of thing, but there’s less and less of it over time. Even within my living memory Israel has matured astonishingly. People here are a lot more disenchanted, a lot less likely to get carried away and follow political leaders.
h/t sda

Silly Indeed

Yup. Our terrorist plots appear to be related to the rejection of candidates for 'Canadian Idol'! (Though he gives to the judges a somewhat different history from others I have seen for the guy who was arrested.)
An alleged Ottawa terror cell was involved in constructing improvised explosive devices – the kind that are killing and maiming Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan, police say.
This being Canada we also have the silliness of the police agreeing to meet and explain themselves to the 'Muslim community' (which surely means the toads who represent themselves as community leaders - if I were a Muslim I would certainly not want to be identified as part of any community led by such people).
[UPDATE: I just saw the CBC interview a young guy identified as a local Islamic leader, and he was perfectly sensible, and I would love to see any people regard him as a leader. It probably did disappoint the CBC, and the interviewer seemed a bit flummoxed.)]
And to add to it, the CBC predictably is trying to find ways to mention the possibility of the impending anti-Muslim backlash, of which there has been NO instance so far in the whole history of the various attempted depredations performed against the West in the name of Islam in recent history.
What a country of dull-witted people.

Those Australians and Their Elections!

They seem to have a more sardonic streak than I tend to see here in oh-so-sweet Canada.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Episode 5 - Favorite line

Pete's "I'm expecting a child!"
The best image was Peggy circling the studio on her Honda. She seems to be having fun, including her fascination with that child's toy ducking its head.
Best malicious funny touch - Doris Day singing "I Enjoy Being a Girl" at the end. Of all the women only Peggy seemed close to living up to it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

BBC on the Mavi Marmara

What a complicated and sad story. Credit to the BBC. A story of mostly decent people on both sides, wit a handful of revoltingly disgusting fanatics. It does not take many of the latter to cause civility to break down completely.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The First Female Prime Minister of Australia

... may persist but only with some interesting deals with independents.
I thought Gillard's speech on the linked page was very professional.
Good thing those Aussies can import people from England and Wales to rule them, and Canadians and Malaysians to work for them and supply a talented new generation!

Is This Thing About All Combat Troops Leaving Iraq Utter Baloney

Seems so, as I figured.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Informers

What an exceptionally unpleasant movie! Was LA in the '80s really so awful.
But one thing I want to praise in the movie is that Kim Basinger is aging wonderfully, and she shows no obvious signs to me of taking artificial measures to fight it. To me she seems stunning because she seems vaguely real.
P.S. Amber Heard did much to mitigate the unpleasantness.

The Quality of Coverage of Pro Tennis

From Rod Black, not the swiftest, even without his mustache: "Both players very limber, very fit". Hmm, both are professional tennis players. I suppose they could be unfit, and not very capable of moving. Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh. Look man - just proinounce their names roughly close to correctly! (It's not just Rod - Tracy Austin has to add that Kim Clijsters is quite limber.)

Why is Kuznetsova Unique?

Zvo-na- Re-va.
For God's sake.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Totally Stunned

TSN is covering the tennis and to my astonishment they are pronouncing it Kuz-NET-so-va. Note the emphasis, which is correct for slavic names, as I understand it. Now of course Sha-ra-PO-va is not in this tournament so there is no invitation to continue the classic and perpetual incorrect pronunciation of her name.
What is going on? Did someone actually hit these people with a 2x4 to properly pronounce players' names?

There is Such a Thing as a Point of No Return

Thomas Sowell speaks (he is black, though that is a social construction).

Krauthammer Echoes My Question about Pelosi

... and, like me, tries to be charitable. And, like me, he is upset about his lack of funding!

Nancy - when you find those evil funders, please point them my way!

There Should be More People Like This

I wish they were funnier, but it's a start.

Headline Madness

How bad a job could you do preparing headlines for news items? You could not hope to do worse than this, analyzed wonderfully at Language Log.
I am assuming that Canadian Press are to blame though I'd love to pin it on the illiterates at the CBC.
The headline writer, astonishingly, picked the second type of construction, and wrote about freeing the jar. Go figure.
Who was just days from death? Well, this is a headline, so we have no prior context, so we don't initially know. But we see that someone is days from death, and the comma tells us that this is an adjunct introducing a clause that is almost certainly going to tell us, so we read on, and we hit the main clause subject: Florida wildlife officials. We are all mortal, and some day every Florida wildlife official must prepare to meet the Creator of all wildlife, so it is the most natural thing in the world to take them as the target of predication that we need, and we fill it in: we understand (for a split second) that some Florida wildlife officials were just days from death. So now, what did they do?
And at that point we learn that they freed a plastic jar. Even though they were dying. The story is getting stranger and stranger.
I will confess I find displays of egregious stupidity like this a pleasure, as they guarantee a fine giggle at the start of the day.

The Lone Piper of D-Day

Just an incredible story.
The pipes were damaged by shrapnel later that day, but remained playable. Millin was surprised not to have been shot, and he mentioned this to some Germans who had been taken prisoner.
They said that they had not shot at him because they thought he had gone off his head.
It's easy to forget the great diversity that persists in large countries:
The War Office had banned pipers from leading soldiers into battle after losses in the Great War had proved too great. “Ah, but that’s the English War Office,” Lovat told Millin. “You and I are both Scottish and that doesn’t apply.” On D-Day, Millin was the only piper.
h/t Tim Worstall

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Things I Wish I Did not Know about Canadian Universitites

EBD elucidates.
Anyone who has kids thinking of attending the University of Lethbridge should take great pains to steer them in some other direction. Read Joshua Blakeney's article, carefully peruse the U of L's Globalization Studies prospectus - seriously, do - and watch Professor Hall's damnably dense, zealous, obnoxious, almost juvenile performance on CBC, and try to reconcile all that with the University of Lethbridge's motto: Fiat Luxor - "Let there be light."
OK so it is the decidedly third-tier at best U. of Lethbridge, but I suspect some of our so-called first tier harbor loons at least as crazy as the ones exposed here.

How Stupid is Pelosi?

Very, I'd say. You don't even need some of her past classic dull-witted performances, like you have to pass the health-care bill to find out what's in it. Her current one is just classic.

I have expressed my opinion, and damn, I must have missed out on the major funding opportunity! You know, posting on a blog with a skeptical view of this effort, or phoning in to your Congressman to say the idea stinks in your view, that surely requires lots of funding, unlike, say, erecting a monster tribute to Islam in the middle of Manhattan, which is surely funded by $5 contributions from sweet-natured Muslims world-wide.
Is there a stupider woman in the world? She must have one hell of a constituency to even think she could be re-elected after this one. Of course in San Francisco there probably are such constituencies.

Kedrovsky on TechCrunch

A very entertaining session. Enjoy.
Paul is not well disposed towards United Airlines it seems, and maybe they are not alone.

Those Ground Zero Mosque Muslims Sure Sound Like Charmers

And we get a Canadian connection!
On Monday, back in Toronto, Raza says she received a call on her cellphone from a man who identified as Sharif El Gamal. “His tone was intimidating,” said Raza. “He accused me of 'jumping into’ the meeting he called and then said 'May Allah protect you.’ I was shocked and hung up.”
Raza says she took the phone call as a clear threat against her.
“Why would I need Allah’s protection?” asked Raza.
Probably thugs and liars.

A Rear Area Pig

Hitler as revealed by his colleagues! There are few surprises here but it is great that someone was obsessed enough to do this work.
I've been trying to show that this is a totally made-up story. Hitler was untypical of the regiment and he was not really radicalised in the war.
My favorite observation was:
He was also particularly submissive to his superiors.

Australian Politics

They seem to be a lot more fun than ours.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nope - Race is a Social Construction!

There is dumb and there is dumb.
So, in the big picture, Labrador retrievers and pit bulls don't actually differ very much genetically. They do differ genetically on a very small number of genes. But some of those few genes that differ are related to biting. Labs tend to retract their teeth and gum whatever they're handling with their mouths, while pit bulls tend to bite down and, more unusually, not let go while they whip their heads back and forth. So, that tiny, tiny fraction of the dog genome is important when deciding which breed of dog to buy depending on your needs -- e.g., pet for your toddlers or guard dog for your crack stash.
By the way, here's Malcolm Gladwell in 2006 arguing that opposition to pit bulls is racial profiling and therefore immoral and ineffective, just like racial profiling of humans must, therefore, be.
The great thing about Malcolm is that he lacks the Uh-Oh-Let's-Not-Go-There gene that makes most spouters of the conventional wisdom prudently change the subject when they find that the logic of their argument has carried them to the edge of reductio ad absurdum.

Geithner and the Bloggers

Timmy held another gathering.
Alex Tabarrok was somewhat positive:
Geithner is smart and deep. Geithner took questions on any topic. Bear in mind that taking questions from people like Mike Konczal, Tyler, or Interfluidity is not like taking questions from the press. Geithner quickly identified the heart of every question and responded in a way that showed a command of both theory and fact. We went way over scheduled time. He seemed to be having fun.
Yves Smith was there and will be reporting, perhaps with a slightly different slant:
was in DC being propagandized by Treasury again, and the travel and meeting time means less bandwidth for blogging. Will give you a report in the next day or so.
I look forward to lots of reports.

More Hope for the Hollywood Dragon Tattoo

Fascinating story about the casting. That they will shoot it in Sweden is promising; that they will have characters speaking English with what they consider a Swedish accent is hilarious in its stupidity.
But the thing that really gets me, that I missed completely until Regis Philbin just told me, is the source of that wonderful name Mara Rooney, the NFL.
But Mara (whose full name is Patricia Rooney Mara) does have family connections: Her older sister is actress Kate Mara ('Brokeback Mountain,' 'Entourage') and two of her great-grandfathers, Tim Mara and Art Rooney, Sr., founded the NFL's New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, respectively.
Now I am starting to get excited about Fincher's remakes!

It's Way More Complicated

Andrew Coyne has some views on the current Conservative government. I agree with much of the column.
The result is a uniquely nasty, know-nothing strain of conservatism. The Thatcher Tories, unlike their forebears, weren’t anti-intellectual: her cabinet contained some of Britain’s most fertile social and political minds. Ronald Reagan, though hardly an intellectual, did not demonize expert opinion, or pit the educated classes against the rest. Even today’s Republican party, as know-nothing as it sometimes appears, relies heavily on a network of think tanks to provide it with intellectual heft. Only in Canada have expertise and ideas been so brutally cast aside. On the level of principle, this is appalling. A society that holds education and expertise in contempt, no less than one that disdains commerce or entrepreneurship, is dying. To whip up popular hostility to intellectuals is to invite the public to jump on its own funeral pyre.
But this is really over the top. Vic Toews, hardly one of the softer Conservatives, is defending what seems to me an amazingly temperate response to a human smuggling operation that has now landed in Canada.
So I don't know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bad Arguments

I think there are good arguments for favoring the Ground Zero Mosque or Park51 Center to proceed, but holy shit this one does not address anything but the stupidest strawmen of the arguments against.
Let me please understand how many of the 9/11 murderers carried out their tasks because they were committed to:
  1. prostitutes
  2. compulsive gamblers
  3. super-sizers
  4. BBQ-eaters
  5. natural food morons (there is probably quite an overlap here with fanatical Muslims I agree, but it is peripheral)
  6. Irish pub goers (I guarantee no real overlap there, except for Atta's night on the town before self-immolation)
  7. whopper-eaters
  8. health food idiots (see above)
  9. donut-eaters (stand up Canada!)
  10. street-stand salespeople (?) Not sure what rhetorical image is here
  11. ditto
  12. ditto
In his defence he says:
Sarah Palin wrote that, “it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground.” Look at the photos. This neighborhood is not hallowed. The people who live and work here are not obsessed with 9/11. The blocks around Ground Zero are like every other hard-working neighborhood in New York, where Muslims are just another thread of the city fabric. At this point the only argument against this project is fear, specifically fear of Muslims, and that’s a bigoted, cowardly and completely indefensible position.
What a pathetic straw man. Worse, LGF has started long ago signing up to such ridiculous straw men. I can think of lots of meanings of "hallowed" where prostitutes were no offence, nor gays, like Greg Gutfeld's!

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More on Reasonable Accomodation

This seems insane to me but if the coach thinks his Muslim players are his best chance I suppose it makes sense. Heaven knows young hockey players in Canada have to work odd hours.
A Michigan high school football team is holding preseason practices in the middle of the night to help its Muslim players practice both faith and football.
The predominantly Muslim squad from Dearborn says the nocturnal regimen is a way for players to eat and drink while observing the holy month of daytime fasting known as Ramadan that started last week.
Just to emphasize, I think this is loony. Any religion that imposes the restrictions of Ramadan I would walk away from at the drop of a hat, it is obviously so ridiculous, and is even more ridiculous given it really is a desert tribe religion. Did Mohammed think we are all camels?
But it raised an interesting question for me. Let's pick construction, a tough physical job, often performed in summer heat. Do contractors have to give special accomodation to Muslims because they cannot do a lot of work under Ramadan restrictions yet, or is this just something Barbara Hall has yet to think of?
Could I invent a religion that says I cannot do physical labor at any time and ask Babs to commit that I should be hired and paid but not made to work? This IS where the whole logic is leading.

Dog Bites Man

Hey, it'd be nice if I had more money!
I think the government should force you to give it to me since you have not chosen to do so voluntarily!
Members of the executive committee heard from former prima ballerina Karen Kain, Toronto International Film Festival co-director Cameron Bailey, actors Eric Peterson and Albert Schultz and representatives from local arts advocacy agencies.
They’re calling on the city to increase the current $18 per capita spending to $25, which was supposed to happen by 2008.
Yes! That is how to handle an economic slowdown. Channel money away from people doing actual jobs to people in the arts!
These people turn my stomach.

There May be Hope for Fincher's Larsson Movies

Relative unknown cast as Lisbeth!
In the picture in the article she looks a bit like Amanda Lang, and I would have recommended Amanda for the role.
Anyway it is not one of the ridiculously rumored famous actresses who would have made a mockery of the role.
I'll keep an open mind and look forward to the DVDs, if I live that long.

CBC Whines About Pakistan Aid

At least most of the reporting I have watched complains about why we are not running to donate to Pakistan.
Hmm - let me count the ways. Or let someone else do so.
Even they insist on a nutty 'image deficit' when the problem is 'reality deficit'.
What was the Pakistani contribution to support for the Manitoba floodings of the last few years? I wager many Pakistani emigrants suffered.
I think when they become a grown-up country we'll be a lot more interested in supporting them in extremis. The nice thing about the world right now is that so many other countries are becoming grown-up.

Cruel Decision?

CBC News is all abuzz over what it considers a 'cruel decision'. In yesterday's PGA Golf Championship, Dustin Johnson's second shot on the 18th hole was played from sand up on a hillside.
As he prepared for his shot, I was wondering, "Is that a bunker?" He clearly did not think so, and illegally grounded his club behind the ball. He played out the hole, appearing to qualify for a playoff, though along the way he had a putt with a great chance to appear to win the tournament.
It WAS a bunker, he was charged two strokes penalty, entirely appropriately, and did not make the playoff. Surely a disappointment for him, but he managed a fine discussion with David Feherty on-screen only a few minutes after the decision. A bit glassy-eyed, he admitted his disappointment, but was hardly devastated, and admitted it was his error. He even had a sardonic sense of humor, pointing out that it would have been worse if he had made the putt that would have let him and everyone think he had won his first major tournament, only to have it grabbed away ten minutes later.
Of course reporters love emotion; apparently he did not show enough so our CBC talking heads prattled on about how long it would take him to recover. As pointed out at some level he had recovered quite quickly. But there is more. In the US Open a couple of months ago, he blew a tremendous opening lead over the field in the final round. He appears to have recovered pretty quickly from that.
And now he knows he has learned a good lesson; make sure you know local rules, and always ask when your ball is in sand a simple question. He's young, he's fine, and he'll be back.
Why reporters have to spend so much time on speculating about emotions and not reporting actual facts and events is beyond me. Wait! That first thing is easy, the latter requires a little work, especially at the CBC.

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Chalk One Up for Palin

Yup, the death panels are in place and in action.
FDA says drug is 'safe and effective', but Medicare won't cover it.
A life-saving cancer treatment "may not be reasonable and necessary"? Gee, that kind of decision-making by an unelected federal bureaucracy certainly sounds like a death panel to me.
Say, I thought the President said that pre-existing conditions would always be covered. Isn't cancer a pre-existing condition?
America's seniors are about to find out that having coverage is not the same thing as receiving care. And our seniors are about to pay the piper.
Bingo! And in Canada, our care is 'free' ( :-) ). And guess what - we get what we pay for.
BTW it seems to me that even an elected federal organization with the same poswer would be a death panel.
There is a good analysis of the decision here. Of course, if political outrage reverses this decision, then 'bending the cost curve' is much much harder. What I find sad is the quality of the discourse; to insure everyone and bend the cost curve clearly required something like a death panel. Before it was distributed among insurance companies; now it's the CMS.


CBC Spelling is Devestation

Yup, that's how CBC News are spelling 'devastation' on-screen as part of the report on Pakistani floods.
Maybe they could replace one of their endless supply of cute young women on screen with someone wqho can spell, or perhaps knows how to use a dictionary?
Hiring practices when under budget distress have hardly shown the organization to be very skilled.
I'm curious to see if this repeats shortly.
UPDATE: 10 minutes later, it is fixed. No doubt a viewer with a kinder view of the CBC, and who could spell (I am not sure how many such viewers they have), phoned it in.

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Mad Season 4 Episode 4 - Favorite Line

OK it wasn't a line - but rather the image of Peggy peeking over the office partition into Don's office after the explosion with Allison, and then as well of her squatting on her desk as he turns and she ducks.
That was funniest episode, in a rather grim way, I can recall seeing.
I find myself laughing in an odd way, I'd like to think with, all the characters as they fumble. Don's total miscomprehension of Allison was both awful and funny at the same moments.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sam Harris on Islam

He does get his finger on what I find depressing about has become of public discourse on the clear threat of Islam to anything I would call a civilized society (it is largely shut down in our world, and lied about in the Muslim world)(emphases mine):
The first thing that all honest students of Islam must admit is that it is not absolutely clear where members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, al-Shabab, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Hamas, and other Muslim terrorist groups have misconstrued their religious obligations. If they are “extremists” who have deformed an ancient faith into a death cult, they haven’t deformed it by much. When one reads the Koran and the hadith, and consults the opinions of Muslim jurists over the centuries, one discovers that killing apostates, treating women like livestock, and waging jihad—not merely as an inner, spiritual struggle but as holy war against infidels—are practices that are central to the faith. Granted, one path out of this madness might be for mainstream Muslims to simply pretend that this isn’t so—and by this pretense persuade the next generation that the “true” Islam is peaceful, tolerant of difference, egalitarian, and fully compatible with a global civil society. But the holy books remain forever to be consulted, and no one will dare to edit them. Consequently, the most barbarous and divisive passages in these texts will remain forever open to being given their most plausible interpretations.
There is no such thing as Islamophobia. Bigotry and racism exist, of course—and they are evils that all well-intentioned people must oppose. And prejudice against Muslims or Arabs, purely because of the accident of their birth, is despicable. But like all religions, Islam is a system of ideas and practices. And it is not a form of bigotry or racism to observe that the specific tenets of the faith pose a special threat to civil society. Nor is it a sign of intolerance to notice when people are simply not being honest about what they and their co-religionists believe.
The essay is ostensibly about the planned Ground Zero Mosque, and he summarizes nicely in one sentence how I think about that issue:
But this leads me to a somewhat paradoxical conclusion: American Muslims should be absolutely free to build a mosque two blocks from ground zero; but the ones who should do it probably wouldn’t want to.
How I feel about it is with some revulsion.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

This IS Funny

You have to suffer through a loud silly ad for ten seconds or so but it is worth the wait.
Ric Burns Presents Goldman Sachs Documentary - watch more funny videos
Even the Brothers Lehmann.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CBC on Khadr

So the CBC picks Romeo Dallaire as their expert commenter on Omar Khadr. Far from a surprise. This is the guy who led the biggest failure in peacekeeping in human history, the UN military in Rwanda before and during the massacre. To be even more Canadian, he had a nervous breakdown. And naturally, he was appointed to the Senate.
There is something vaguely amusing seeing this guy as an expert on the CBC. They just fit so well together.
Might they have phoned Lewis MacKenzie? The opinions might have been different.
Not the CBC. No, don't be silly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hitch-22 Out in Time

I am reading Hitch-22 as I write, and I find myself a bit depressed by this, but still, I'd like to handle this so well.

I'm With Dawkins

Ahh, the apparent contradictions that are not contradictions!
"I do feel visceral revulsion at the burqa because for me it is a symbol of the oppression of women."
"As a liberal I would hesitate to propose a blanket ban on any style of dress because of the implications for individual liberty and freedom of choice," he said.
Of course he means a real liberal, not what is meant in the US by that term. A classical liberal.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Episode 3 - Favorite Line

Actually two lines, consecutive:

Don: "Catherine Deneuve"

Lane: "This movie's very good."

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Dragon Tattoo - Maybe it Won't be So Bad

The casting is starting to look promising. Robin Wright Penn would be a great Erika, and I love the idea of Daniel Craig as Blomkvist. Can someone surprise me and match Noomi Rapace? I doubt it but it is also not really necessary.

Multi-culti Gone Mad

Iowahawk has some very good fun; I wish it were not so close to what seems like a real possibility.
Multicultural Paratroopers eventually persuaded Markowicz to leave his/her dog outside the mosque during the ceremony. Cordoba House officials reluctantly agreed to allow the couple inside for continued negotiations, but a brief melee ensued after Markowicz lit a marijuana cigarette in the lobby. Mohammed-Haq angrily demanded that police arrest him/her for violating New York's anti-smoking ordinance, but Markowicz quickly produced a prescription for medical marijuana for his/her glaucoma condition. In turn, he/she demanded police arrest Mohammed-Haq for violating the National Health Care Access Act, and for failure to post braille No Smoking signs. The angry Imam was restrained by police before he could unsheathe his scimitar, and lodged a complaint against Davis and Markowicz for violating New York's official Immigration Sanctuary Act.
As the center lobby filled with police, community leaders and lawyers, filing charges and counter-charges, a near-riot erupted outside when wedding reception catering trucks began arriving from Porky's 34th Street Barbecue and Midtown Liquors.

Victor Davis Hanson Isn't Surprised

At the foul mood in his country, and it's because he remembers the sixties.
We see the arrested adolescence and hypocrisy that come from that sermonizing generation, whether in Al Franken’s puerile face-making, the ideologically driven suicide at Newsweek, the steady destruction of the New York Times, John Kerry’s tax-avoiding yacht, the Great Gatsby Clinton wedding, Michelle on the Costa del Sol, Nancy Pelosi’s jet, Tim Geithner’s tax skipping, or the constant race-card playing of a Charles Rangel and Maxine Waters. Yes, one walk across the Yale or Stanford campus circa 1975, and one could see pretty clearly what sort of culture that bunch would create when it came of age and was handed power. If that is reductionism, so be it.
I walked the campus at Berkeley in those days and have to agree with him.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

David Akin Watches 'Homegrown'

And the result make Catherine Frid look even stupider.
I did wonder what got her going:
Why pick Shareef? Cate’s ex-husband was Shareef's favourite high school teacher.
Now that is pretty funny.
As for the little bastard trying to cut down on shrapnel, Akin knows the case better than I:
The play also has no reference to one of the most damning indictments of the motives of the real Abdulhaleem: He suggested to his co-conspirators that not only could they spread terror by blowing up the Toronto Stock Exchange but that they could make a lot of money doing it by shorting the stock market. Morever, he suggested to his co-conspirators that they could be more terrorful, if you will, if they blew up something like the Square One shopping mall in Mississauga, Ont.
And he summarizes the end:
The play closes with Shareef and Cate ‘embracing’ by placing both their hands together on each side of the plexiglass window that separates them. Cate leaves. A single spotlight leaves Shareef frozen and wondering if his cats will be ok.
Let me find a vomit bowl.

Now, Akin has a couple of nice things to say about the playwright, but you have to go find those; I feel no need to share them.

There is such a rich history of lefties justifying murder and totalitarianism from the last century - do they have to sign up with jihadists in this one just to keep their fatuous tradition in place?

More Appealing than those Ottawa U

... administrators and the stupid (close to evil) students who prevented Ann Coulter from speaking there.
The gay Republicans invite her as a keynote speaker at Homocon ( :-) ) and produce this great ad:

Friday, August 06, 2010

Angus' Weather Outlook

It' been hot here but it looks worse for Angus in OKC.

Homegrown - Some Reviews

There's no way I'll watch it though I paid for it, so I'll outsource the task.
First, a quick summary from Richard Ouzounian:
If we are to believe what Frid tells us, Shareef was one of the nicest men who ever lived, sympathetic, honest, warm-hearted, only involved with the terrorists because he wanted to make them downsize their activities, eliminating shrapnel from their bombs and setting them off at the back of buildings at 6 a.m. rather than inside at high noon.
What? You don’t believe that?
Err, no way.
And if all that isn’t enough, we’re talking about a man who loved his cats more than life, liberty or the pursuit of Islam.
You see what happens? It becomes the kind of play critic Kenneth Tynan once said calls for “your politics to be left and your sensibilities left behind.”
Having heard the playwright cooing with Matt Galloway on Metro Morning yesterday, this juivenile treatment is what I would have expected.
Now that reviewer is gentle; how about the daughter of a victim of Islamic terrorism?
All I could think of at the beginning of the play, during a sequence about the time he spent in solitary, was that that's nothing compared to what my dad suffered when he was in the Twin Towers and they filled with smoke.
It's a life sentence for the victims.
You want drama? The 9/11 families have been through hell and back.
Their stories are 50 times more compelling than this dingbat's story.
Somewhere, in his head, bombing Toronto was OK. Even for just a moment.
That is just not something I will side with. Ever.
Frid's script never delivers the answers I was looking for, that's for sure.
And because it doesn't, she doesn't deserve my sympathy either.
During the cooing session with Galloway, Frid explained that she was stunned about security certificates, and much of what fell into place after 9/11. Rather explains how much she bothers paying attention to the news.
If you want another hint of how cliched this lefty girl's brain is, one more quote from Ouzounian:
There are a couple of persuasive performances, mainly from Lwam Ghebrehariat as the wronged Shareef and Omar Hady as the slimiest of all informants.
Dirty rat fink! Yeah, a dirty rat fink who may have saved all sorts of lives.
BTW - I love the part above about how the evil little monster was trying to get shrapnel out of the bombs. How credulous can one be?

Peace in Our Time

The most famous last words of the 20th Century. It would be appropriate, though I'd be rather unhappy, if The Great Windbag wound up uttering those for the 21st.
President Obama says international sanctions against Iran are creating "disquiet" there, and he suggested that the United States would seek to sketch out a series of steps that Iran could take to reassure the world about whether it intends to become a nuclear threat.
The combination of The Great Windbag and Christiane Amanpour (she certainly deserves a title as well) would be a cause for mirth if this stuff did not matter.
h/t Scaramouche, who adds visual aids.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Mark Twain on the Jews

h/t Steve Sailer!, whose post is certainly worth a read, but also sent me to this essay, written in 1898. This passage leapt right off the screen:
Speaking of concentration, Dr. Herzl has a clear insight into the value of that. Have you heard of his plan? He wishes to gather the Jews of the world together in Palestine, with a government of their own - under the suzerainty of the Sultan, I suppose. At the Convention of Berne, last year, there were delegates from everywhere, and the proposal was received with decided favor.
I am not the Sultan, and I am not objecting; but if that concentration of the cunningest brains in the world were going to be made in a free country (bar Scotland), I think it would be politic to stop it. It will not be well to let the race find out its strength. If the horses knew theirs, we should not ride any more.
I love that last sentence.
Time to go back and start reading Mark Twain again.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Reasonable Accomodation?

Certainly not to my mind. At least assuming this story is true.
A couple is facing a $750 hospital bill after they had to leave a ward in Kingston General Hospital's maternity ward because a Muslim woman was breastfeeding her newborn.
John Kennedy said he and another man were also forbidden from using the sink in the shared bathroom to dampen cloths so they could clean their babies.
He and his wife and the other couple were moved out of the room on religious grounds that were made clear to him by medical staff on the floor, who said unrelated men are forbidden from being in the room while the Muslim woman was breastfeeding.
Would we accomodate a Roman Catholic patient who insisted that only Roman Catholics could share the room? Well, once we might have. So the question here is how long will it take before we stop being so F%^ing Stupid?
h/t Kathy whose question "Muslim or Crazy?" seems like an apposite one.

Burqa Bans - Berlinski makes me Waver a Bit

She certainly recites all my objection to the ban nicely and fairly. But then she describes things I had not seen. Her argument is basically that by trying to defend a free public space by refusing to ban head covering, we are implicitly destroying it, or at least allowing the construction of a large ugly non-free public space in our midst. (The old tolerating intolerance argument.) She has seen things I have not seen, and so I must ruminate some more. She has not changed my mind, but has surely given me a lot to think about.
She has certainly got me to the point where I would not join a protest against any bill in Ontario to restrict facial or body covering.

Great Posts on Don Boudreaux by David Henderson

David Henderson has produced two recently.
The first is general and dicusses Don's blog posts (and letters!).
Don, an economics professor at George Mason University, has mastered the art of writing letters to the editor. This is quite a skill. You first have to tell the reader enough about what you're responding to and then quickly say what you object to. (In maybe one out of four or five letters, he agrees with the person he's responding to but is writing to amplify or extend.) And you have to do all this in, typically, under 200 words.
The unifying theme in virtually everything he writes is why markets and freedom generally work so well, why government generally destroys things, and how people have such a double standard when it comes to judging behavior in the government sector versus the voluntary sector. And he does it marvelously.
His favorite bête noires tend to be: the idea that trade is a failure if you end up getting lots of imports, the idea that when a country runs a surplus on the current account it necessarily increases its indebtedness, and the idea that there's something noble about people coercively imposing their values on others.
The second explains Don's 'Aha' moment, the one that hooked him on economics.
One day in class, his professor showed how a price ceiling causes a shortage. Don grokked it immediately and said to himself, "Oh my gosh, that's why that couple in Buffalo froze." He saw the power of economics to explain the otherwise mysterious world around him. He was hooked. He later told me that those three lines--the supply curve, the demand curve, and the price ceiling--are the most important three lines in economics.
Both posts are short and worth a read, and I hope they get you reading Cafe Hayek (and EconLog, for that matter).

I Really DID Try to Keep a Straight Face ..

... as the CBC repeatedly reported an attack on Kanadahar Airfield as if it were a serious event (from what I gather, they are happening all the time); as the CBC went into the details of the suicide bombers mostly blowing themselves up prematurely, I tried to stifle a laugh, as the reporter had not beoken out into laughter, I guess for fear of violating some CBC rule that we must take these Taliban jerks/clowns/thugs seriously.
Fortunately, I can now outsource what I was thinking to Kaffir Kanuck, who is at KAF:
And speaking of retards, that can only explain the recent attack on KAF. Usually, I wouldn’t write about any attack on KAF, but as the MSMs have already picked it up, I won’t be divulging anything new that would affect COMSEC.
I can tell you I slept through the entire attack. Currently working the night shift, I was sound asleep when the daylight attack occurred. And that’s just it, it was a “daylight” attack by a group smaller than a platoon on a base manned by thousands of well trained and disciplined people, each of them carrying pistols and rifles, some driving around vehicles with crew weapons, with fleets of aircraft with guns, missiles and bombs parked nearby, all at beck-and-call, which usually have to go searching for the bad guys. Instead, they offered themselves up like sacrificial lambs, gladly spreading the red mist of their blood to attain paradise.
If this is the best the Taliban have to offer, then it begs to question why the President of Pakistan is prattling his own taqiyya propaganda about NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan. I have no doubt the Taliban can be defeated, but as I’ve often written before, it ain’t the Talibs we’re really at war with, but the cult which has spawned them and their like-minded brethren in all terrorist and political forms, both foreign and dawah domestic. Until the leaders of the western nations acknowledge that reality, we’ll keep fighting on the enemy’s terms.
But when the enemy brings the fight to you wearing a suicide vest to face off with an Apache helicopter, you can’t disagree when Geert Wilders says Islam is a retarded ideology. At the very least, the recent attack on KAF was retarded, if not executed and planned by retards.
P.S. I’m amazed the media hasn’t picked up on the obvious brainwashing going on in Islam. I suggest a new denial method easily allowing all who sin to invoke victim status, “Allah made me do it!”
Retards indeed, prisoners of (I was going to say adheernts of, but since they cannot leave the religion, prisoners is clearer) what is surely today the stupidest religion.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Episode 2 - Favorite Line

Peggy, responding to her suitor's attempt to talk her into sex by explaining how advanced they were in Sweden, where if two people just felt like it, they had sex. (I can confirm that such arguments were quite common in those days in just that context.)
You’re never going to get me to do anything Swedish people do.
I gather that her suitor was unaware that Peggy has a Norwegian parent, like me, and I can guess at what notions that gave her in her youth. She also had a Swedish-American roommate.
Disclaimer: I have Swedish friends, have had Swedish colleagues, and my visit to Stockholm has left me thinking that Swedes are about as hospitable as I have ever seen on a trip. But it is also true that Sweden (none of the nice people I know) used neutrality in WWII to make a whack of money seeling supplies to the Nazis.