Sunday, October 31, 2010

Amusing Demographics

One great passage from the article on the Rob Ford campaign that resonates.
Ford’s team didn’t adopt just any technology—a Rob Ford iPhone app, for example, was rejected because, in Ciano’s words: “Okay, like, I’m trying to think, who are the iPhone users who would actually support Rob Ford? I think it’s me and Fraser MacDonald.” The Ford team opted instead to concentrate on text messages.
Hmmm. As I said earlier:
I ain't exurban. I ain't angry. I just hopes for a change. So I guess I'm a hillbilly. I know I don't have an iPhone or Blackberry.
Actually I did not even get text messages from them; rather some mechanized telephone calls and some personal telephone calls. Some came after 9 pm and so annoyed me, but not enough to move my vote.

I Have Never Claimed to be Perfect

MacLeans has a wonderful article on the Toronto mayorlaty campaign.
It was indeed a very strange campaign:
...arranged for a press conference the next day, when Ford told reporters the whole story—the very story he’d neglected to tell his own handlers months earlier. “The reason I forgot about the marijuana charge . . . is because that same evening, I was charged with failing to give a breath sample,” he told reporters, following a tightly scripted confession. “I have never claimed to be perfect.”
Though initially surprised by the DUI revelation, Ciano and Kouvalis were unperturbed. “I said, ‘Just watch,’ ” recalls Ciano, a former national vice-president of the Conservative Party of Canada. “We’re going to go up after this.” Sure enough, Ford’s team of campaign outsiders—young, new to Toronto, arguably from the fringes of Canada’s political mainstream—watched as Ford’s popularity rose in the days following his DUI confession. Still, they were awestruck by the extent of the bump. “We didn’t think we’d go up 10 points,” Ciano says.
As Joy Behar has perhaps learned (I am not sure she is capable of learning) from the Sharron Angle kerfuffle:
His handlers delight in pointing out that the barbs directed at Ford—a Stephen Marche Globe and Mail column that used the word “fat” 17 times, say—merely generated more donations to his campaign. So did his Everyman lack of sophistication. “Our polling said, don’t put him in a $2,000 suit,” says Kouvalis.
There is a certain irony in the fact that of all the candidates Ford was probably the most capable of routinely buying a $2,000 suit.
And it is such a treat when the enemy scores own goals:
In the end, Kouvalis had a secret weapon: he knew the Smitherman team had been operating off provincial Liberal databases—Dalton McGuinty’s lists, people the Ford team’s own intel said were going to vote Ford. On election day, Ford’s campaign concentrated on getting out its vote, knowing that the Smitherman team’s push would bring out a good number of Ford voters too. “They were pulling in our vote for us,” he says.
We have some interesting years ahead!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Class versus Crass

John Nolte puts it perfectly.
'The View' is such an utterly sad assemblage of pathetic unintelligent people, mostly women. These strange Republican characters are not people I should be cheering for, but people like Joy Behar (well, and Harry Reid) make me all for Sharron Angle and also for Christine O'Donnell!

The Utter Shame of our Province

As Harper's Tories astonishingly embrace Julian Fantino as a candidate, Michael Coren talks to Christie Blatchford about her book on the farce that was Caledonia, where the state refused to defend our laws.

This should be a profound embarrassment to us all.
I do not care how awful the alternatives might be; McGuinty should be booted.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halifax Airport Flash Mob

This is worthy and lovely.

But it sort of ruins the fun if everyone knows in advance it is coming.
So the classic (that still causes me to tear up as the first dancer grabs the little kid) continues to be from Antwerp (a station I have been in twicefour times!).

David Chen Acquitted!

What the hell fucked-up society ever had him on trial! And cut a plea deal with the thief?! How stupid can we be?
Comment from there:
What should be investigated is why a judge gave criminal scumbag Anthony Bennett a reduced sentence if he’d help crucify an honest, hard-working shopkeeper — one of the many victims of his many crimes.
Indeed. Meanwhile David Chen and family have caught more creeps!

A Great Question from John Cochrane

Since when is every trade surplus or deficit an "external imbalance" in need of correction?
as he poses here.
Do these and similar stories exactly account for current trade patterns? I don't know. But nobody else does, either. In particular, the army of economists in the basements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has no clue exactly how much each country should be saving, or where the best untapped global investment opportunities are around the world—including whether trade patterns are "normal" or "imbalanced."
And I agree totally with this paragraph:
What's the right policy toward China? They put a few trillion dollars worth of stuff on boats and sent it to us in exchange for U.S. government bonds. Those bonds lost a lot of value when the dollar fell relative to the euro and other currencies. Then they put more stuff on boats and took in ever more dubious debt in exchange. We're in the process of devaluing again. The Chinese government's accumulation of U.S. debt represents a tragic investment decision, not a currency-manipulation effort. The right policy is flowers and chocolates, or at least a polite thank-you note.
and to finish (giggle)
Yet Mr. Geithner thinks that the Chinese somehow hurt us. There is at work here a strange marriage of Keynesianism and mercantilism—the view that U.S. consumers supported the world economy by spending beyond our means, so that other people could have the pleasure of sending things in exchange for pieces of paper.
This is all as fuzzy as it seems. Markets and exchange rates are not always right. But it is a pipe dream that busybodies at the IMF can find "imbalances," properly diagnose "overvalued" exchange rates, then "coordinate" structural, fiscal and exchange rate policies to "facilitate an orderly rebalancing of global demand," especially using "medium-term targets" rather than concrete actions. The German economics minister, Rainer Brüderle, called this "planned economy thinking." He was being generous. Planners have a clearer idea of what they are doing.
Guy must be from Chicago.
h/t Streetwise Professor, who adds (sounding somewhat Chicagoan):
It drives me crazy (short trip, I know) to hear “analyses” of Keynesian-style stimulus policies that are predicated on the belief that Americans are programmed automatons, rather than deciding, active, acting, and reacting, agents. They want to restore their ravaged balance sheets, and do so by saving. They understand, perhaps not intellectually, quoting Ricardo, but certainly intuitively, that expanded government spending today is nothing but tomorrow’s tax bill. So they react to stimulus, and threats of more stimulus (and “threat” not “promise” is the right word), by making decisions that largely reverse government actions. Maybe not 100 percent, but substantially. Which means that the fact that stimulus has not stimulated shouldn’t be surprising to anybody who understands that American households are not inert blobs that can be manipulated at will by Washington mandarins. (I understand that excludes a good fraction of the 202 area code and vast swathes of the commentariat.)
The Canadian version of this sort of hand-wringing is usually over the exchange rate of the Canadian dollar.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well This is the Sort of World Series I Love

Giants up 2-0! And with major offensive production.
I want this to be interesting, so Rangers, please turn it around a bit in Texas!

I So Love Derivative Art

Thanks Matthew Weiner!
For Downton Abbey, across an ocean!
For Broadwalk Empire, across a couple of generations.
My life is SO much broader for all this and it is hard for me to believe this stuff is being done independently of Mad Men!
Oh I so love cultural diversity!

Can I Please Have My Favorite Actors?

For the next cable series.
Can I have Steve Buscemi?
Could I also somwhat wackily request Michael Pitt?
Really? Holy Cow? This is too great!

I Am So Proud of My Ward!

Note - I am Ward 31 - we were on the right side! And we are at the borders! It felt like Vienna in 1683.
No nonsense with this creative whatever crap! Hold them out!!
OK so we got it right in the mayoralty but man did we screw up in the election for councillor yet again!
I must say, though, what is it about the sorry psychology of anyone who would vote for `spend like crazy`Smitherman? Oh wait - I have it! The spend like crazy is spend it on me!

You Can Domesticate Them

But you cannot make them all that similar.
Since my new neighbors, sharing my semi-detached, moved in, I have been highly aware of a very yappy and very friendly little terrier they share the house with. When this dog meets me outside she is full of affection and interest - totally affiliative.
Yesterday at one point walking up to my house I looked up and saw in the neighbors' upstairs window quite another apparition. A cat looking down, with no interest in being my friend, though some in sorting out its universe.
Such a contrast.

Wrangled Insects

h/t Voluntary Exchange an amusing ad from Samsung:

Maybe not so amusing if you are an insect or an arachnid!
The music is great!

Ezra - Don't Be so Reticent About Omar Khadr!

Kudos to CBC for giving him the opportunity.
I largely agree with Ezra - he points out on the 'child soldier' front the practicalities but it is also the case that most of the covenants on this subject make a 14-year-old a child, and not the lovely little Omar baby.

Rob Ford's 'As It Happens' Interview

I heard it over the radio and am not sure how as I listen to radio only in bed or in the car. My guess is it was as I was falling asleep and the CBC was retreading it somehow.
But the funny fact is that CBC clearly wanted to talk to him on this evening 'live' discussion show (I know I did not hear it live ), and this occurs around 6:30 pm, and Ford was coaching football at Don Bosco high school (they are in their playoffs, it seems ), so he wound up talking to the hosts during practice. It was hilarious, and he gave less than half his attention to the CBC.
You can read a nice description here and follow Chris Selley's links to an attempted transcript of a somewhat Dadaist interview. (I suspect Selley is wrong and this was a practice, with a game coming up later in the week.)
I think Selley's speculations are very good, after all, who outside the Annex would listen to 'As It Happens'?
Chris reports that the Toronto tweetiverse erupted during this show. I will only say I thought it utterly charming - this guy, the new mayor-elect, agrees for some reason to an interview to be held by cellphone, during a football practice he is coaching. I have been a sports coach and I thought his priorities were perfect - make sure the practice will be effective first, and then deal with this gnat on the phone as you can. And his empty answers to Carol Off's empty questions were a perfect match.
But I love Selley's closing point:
if you find yourself particularly outraged that Mr. Ford blew off CBC — Of! All! Networks! — you probably haven’t even begun to come to terms with why Mr. Ford won the election in the first place, and might well win the next one.
My guess is we will see lots of blowing off of the CBC, pandered to of course by the awful Miller, in the next four years. And I doubt any of it will hit Ford's base - which now includes Super-Creative-Class me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dancing With the Stars Elimination - WTF?

Audrina Patridge?
She was victim of scheduling (the judges cannot score the first performer too highly, as they need to leave room for later teams), and I guess also that the voting public do not find her engaging (and this actually is the point of the judges).
On the other hand, there are some pretty obvious next ejectees, and I am actually pleased Bristol Palin lives to endear us one more week. In a way Audrina Patridge, while I was really impressed by her dancing, simply did not get.
These reality shows all have their arbitrary aspects (look at that poor vegetarian on The Amazing Race convincing herself to eat a sheep's head!).
And I can look forward to seeing both Bristol and Kyle next week!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Many Mankiws Do You Need?

This is a small piece of genius! Thanks, Greg, for that analysis of marginal rates and their impact.

Dancing With the Stars - Wow!

With so many contestants left, I understand the idea of filling time with fond memories. It annoyed me at first, as I also wanted to check Toronto election results, but my annoyance faded fast when I switched channels and it had taken all of five minutes to find out who our mayor-elect is.
Anyway it was fun.
And the the dances. Well, all I can say is, wow, Brandy, wow! I had no idea who you were when this season started. And whatever you were, you can sure dance.
I have moved from last week's prediction to the idea that nobody can knock Brandy off.
ABC will surely do something to cast more doubt into the rest of the season but tonight was simply ridiculous.
I will say loved Jennifer Grey's performance but certainly got the point of the judges.
Bristol Palin is charming.
Anyway till later tonight and the elimination.

The Left Today

Talking to Today's Left.
This is spooky - I feel some brothers in the woman's voice. Curiously, no sisters, and I have an equal number of each.
But she does like Dancing With the Stars!

Why were the Late Ford-Smitherman Polls showing it Neck and Neck?

I think Rondi has it here.
In a way it is more fun to think it was some sort of conspiracy but I suspect this theory is dead right, and, as she points out, it can happen a lot.
It also happens retroactively - there is the old story that nobody voted for Nixon in 1968.

Arrow's Impossibility Theorem - an Entertaining Exegesis

ALex Tabarrok posts on the mythical group choice Andy; one example:
Andy walks into an ice-cream shop and seeing that they have chocolate, strawberry and vanilla, orders chocolate. Before the vendor has a chance to scoop the ice cream she says, "Sorry, we are out of strawberry." "In that case," Andy says, "I'll have vanilla." Strange right? Yet however strange we might think this behavior is for Andy it is routine when groups make choices (just substitute Bush, Nader, and Gore for chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.) (Failure of IIA.)
I had never thought of thinking about it this way, which makes it a lot more fun!

Misguided Wilders Trial

A nice WSJ summary of the stupidity of free speech prosecutions, in this particular case the Netherlands trial of Geert Wilders for his criticisms of the Koran and Islam.
Prosecuting Mr. Wilders has backfired in every way imaginable, not least politically. The trial has seemed to confirm his charge that avoiding debate over the implications of Muslim immigration leads to the erosion of Western freedoms, most notably freedom of speech. Despite, or perhaps because of, the trial, Mr. Wilders' Party for Freedom became the third-strongest parliamentary faction in last June's elections. This allowed Mr. Wilders to become a political king-maker by backing the new center-right minority government.
Meanwhile, as part of his defense Mr. Wilders has been putting the entire Muslim religion on trial. His defense includes not only invoking free speech but also calling expert witnesses to testify on the accuracy of his views of Islam. Before the judges could rule on whether it's a hate crime to compare the Quran to "Mein Kampf," Mr. Wilders wants them to rule on whether he was correct to make the comparison. This is only contributing to further religious animosity.
This trial is clearly the pet project of some judges on an appeal court.
As unattractive as his expressed sentiments may be, they also qualify as free speech, which is why Dutch prosecutors initially dismissed complaints against Mr. Wilders.
That should have been the end if it. However, an appeals court overruled the prosecution last year, forcing Mr. Wilders to stand trial. But the prosecutors still believe that no crime has been committed. "Criticism of a religion is not punishable," prosecutor Birgit van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court 10 days ago.
Then the politically charged trial took another twist last week when one of Mr. Wilders' expert witnesses, the Arabist Hans Jansen, wrote on his website that a member of the judiciary had tried to influence him. He said that at a dinner party before he was supposed to testify, one of the appeals judges whose decision compelled the prosecutors to press charges tried to "convince me of the correctness of the decision to take Wilders to court."
Sounds pretty corrupt to me. And, really, a trial the prosecutors don't even believe in!
This is hardly new, of coursse; France had Houllebecq, and Canada Levant and Steyn. At some point I hope the West will just get serious again. We seem rather buffoonish right now.

Yikes! Unsecured WiFi

I knew this was possible but always relied on the assumption that some sophistication was required to make use of it, and that it was unlikely on individual hotspots I'd be sharing with such a person.
Was I ever wrong!
This is not only frightening but may also explain the hijacking a couple of months ago of my Facebook account, which has caussed me to essentially stop using Facebook.
Apparently there are mitigations but I prefer to simply avoid accessing any site I care about much when on an open network.
What utter malice!
h/t Ann Althouse.

Rob Ford is our Mayor!

Some comments from some other bloggers.

Scaramouche! in a post rightly referring to Hope and Change (which goes both ways):
I have a message this morning for Americans: Take heart, friends. If a fat right-winger who's loathed, derided and demonized by a mainstream media that moved heaven and earth to elect the other guy, a "sophisticated" elitist lefty (one of their own, in other words)--even going to the extent of engaging in what, after the fact, appears to be some dubious polling--and the hoi polloi ignored it all and handed the fat dude a commanding victory, I predict that one week from now the Obama Democrats will be wiped out by the same kind of 'slide.
That characterization of the campaign is pretty much correct.
From Kelly McPartland in the National Post:
Like approximately 96% of the media, Smitherman’s people just couldn’t believe anyone would actually vote for Ford. The guy was a clown, right? He only had one message: Stop Spending So Much Money! You can’t win with a message that simple, can you? Voters want more — they want a vision. They want to know how you’re going to keep taking their city forward, on a going-forward basis.
Except this time they didn’t. They just wanted some basic competence. Less attitude, less self-congratulation, fewer retirement parties paid for on their dime. They wanted someone more concerned about getting the buses to run properly and clearing up the traffic mess, than about dinging taxpayers for their legal bills and opening high-priced environmental offices in London so foreign people could see them. They wanted a hint that the guy in charge had some remote appreciation of what they go through trying to navigate a city that seems less connected to practicalities with every passing day.
It was a pretty ugly campaign. I always make my lawn available to anyone who asks to put up a sign, and only the Ford campaign asked. My sign was defaced - love those lefties and their tolerance. The replaced sign was ripped out of my lawn and tossed on the neighbor's lawn. Love them even more. The subtle smears in the campaign likely simply entrenched Ford's position, I suspect; they did nothing to move me, and may have even earned him more votes.
Well it's over. Now it will be interesting to see how the Council, also transformed and, particularly, Bussin-free (congratulations Ms. McMahon!), will work.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Proportion - Greatest Tank Battles

What we wring our hands over today! 'Greatest' above also means 'Worst'.
I got to my treadmill this morning at exactly the right point to watch History Television with a one-hour special on Battle of Kursk.
One of my standard complaints has been lately the hand-wringing that goes on over the current wars we fight with so few casualties in any sense.
In this battle over about two weeks, there appear to have been over 200,000 casualties; the testimonials from the people there who were interviewed were chilling. And I was amazed at their casual acceptance of how they behaved (in many cases with a wonderfully detached intelligence) in key moments of the battle.
It is clear both German and Russian armies were incredibly committed to winning.
And one of the great things about this show is that it gave several instances of game theory applications in tank battle, which is pretty constraining, but also requires a lot of liberation to sort out interesting problems, like your tank getting stuck on a stump in the middle of the battle (get out of the tank, find an axe, cut down some other trees (you are near a Russian forest), and use them to lever the tank off the stump).
What a generation!

Maybe This is a Really Good Day

We've had some attempted murderers sent off to jail
And now the city I live in, the largest in Canada, has finally voted at least for the mayoralty (not me in my Ward).
A small point and in favor of the CBC - NONE of what I have reported below was from CBC but now I find ONLY CBC is reporting election news locally. This is one sad country.
Watching now an interview with Bob Rae - as always he is totally sensible.
Oh dear - Rae goes into Ford Derangement Syndrome. It will be fun to have the initial ism available. FDS!

Layton Dad and Son Have some Class

Nice stated committed to work with Ford.
I disagree with Layton on almost everyting but he is a class act since he left Toronto.

Smitherman Concedes

9:05 pm roughly.
I am sure you will be able to find lots of YouTube and stuff. I will just comment. And I feel for him; I think he is a good guy but really incompetent. And then the CBC loses contact. Great country. OK cutting into it on CP24.
He thanks the 'Purple Army'. What the hell is that? He thanks them for their complete devotion to him. I will never vote for him ever again for anything. Thanks his capo. Big deal Thanks Mom, Sis , extended family. Well let's hope he likes them.
Says everyone worked hard. Claims to own up to his mistakes. Not enumerated.
Thanks other losers.
Especially Sarah Thomson (I really liked her, despite her stupid choice to support him).
He now starts lecturing Ford (and he is right from my point of view - Ford does have to work with the Councillors).
He talks about the hard work - and I would not take it on, so I suspect he has no better alternative. Not so impressive that he engaged in his campaign stunts etc.
He wants Council and Mayor to pull together - well voters have said clearly he has no role in this.
He thought the election was his to win? What? That is gracious?
His new son? WTF? Is he going crazy though his fans like it.
This is getting really long! Surely Ford wants to talk soon.
Oh for God's sake he holds some kid in his hands and asks for applause.
I hope this guy never reappears in politics in my life.
He was a bad candidate here and would surely be worse in any other role.
Commentators said this was gracious - sorry I missed all of it.
How dumb can the media be? He could have conceded in five minutes and let Ford go - no, not Smitherman - let's ramble forever and get as much limelight we can get and let us get them shoot a baby in my arms in case anyone might ever think of voting for me again for anything; it won't be me.
The media are useless - they remain upset that Ford has won and want Smitherman to be the cutie. It is true Ford will not be. Stupidity.

Hope and Change!

Rob Ford and the voters are delivering it!
This is a far more real version than the nonsense from down south.
And down south should worry about this.
Toronto is a very WEIRD place for this to have happened tonight.
I am delighted.
Annex heads are exploding from Twitterland! As it should be.

It Will be an Interesting Year

Early but far enough results show Rob Ford crushing Both Smitherman AND Panatalone combined at times; that is sure a mandate. Unfortunately the Miller cronie who won my riding will win again and the commie Paula Fletcher will win hers again (the great thing is you cannot do much in our society about being one). But it seems Sandra Bussin is gone! That is a BIG victory out of the Beach. She likely killed herself with her 'Sandra from Toronto' call to John Tory's radio phone show, and I will not miss her in the smallest way! Can we please next election target MY ward?
Even better - CP24 says the people who are twittering are upset about the mayoral results. Excellent!
Let those Annex heads explode!

In Praise of Margaret Cho

I really wanted her booted off DWTS. And I was right and she proves it. But she is also really funny and engaging in a way she was not on DWTS.
She appeared on Q today, part of my driving entertainment, and nice break in the CBC's "All-Day All-Omar Khadr theme".
You can listen to it here but (sorry I thought this would be easy but it seems these guys are so dinky you then have to find the October 25 show - I am sure you are smart enough even though these people are not smart enough to create a reasonable web site or I am not smart enough to find a good link; I hope we fix one of those).
They play off one another nicely and Margaret Cho confirms to me there was a very good reason for her to be voted off DWTS (not her gay-representative dress but her unengaged dancing). On the other hand what they talk about is her being engaged.
Give it a go.
And be warned if you do not leap ahead to 21:30 you will suffer what I suspect MIGHT be the worst of the All-Day All-Omar Khadr day at the CBC. I have decided to stop sampling.

More on the David Chen Trial - An answer to a rhetorical question

The world is full of rhetorical questions. I love this one from David Chen`s prosecution.
But Eugene McDermott, the Crown prosecutor, said the grocers broke the law.
“A man was accosted, pushed against a fence, pushed to the ground, and hogtied,” Mr. McDermott said. “Two of his assailants climbed into the van to restrain him. Is this the kind of conduct that is reasonable and measured?”
Well, were I on the jury I would be thinking yup especially given the nature of the guy they tied up.
This is not `Hang 'em High`. This is constraining a well-known creep. Not hanging him.
“Of course shopkeepers are entitled to protect their property. Of course they are entitled to arrest people in the terms of Article 494 [the citizen’s arrest provisions of the Criminal Code.] But that’s not what happened in this case. He seized a person off the streets, tied him up and threw him in the back of a van. Once again, nobody calls police. There are a number of points that beggar belief.”
I wonder how useful the police have been or would have. (Actually this case answers the question.) At least while the little creep was tied up he was not stealing from other places, as of course he did shortly after cutting a deal with the Crown.
How the hell did we get here? It must have taken some hard work by some pretty creative lefties.

Amazing Race S17E05

What an astonishing episode! And for me emotionally a bit engaging.
They all head out from Sweden to a Norwegian station where there is a fast forward. This is a mischievous piece of work that requires some interesting game theory. If you complete it first your sole remaining task is to get to the pit stop, the end of the session. But only ONE team, the first to succeed, gets that, and you might not know whether someone has achieved it ahead of you; and indeed we discovered this is not conveyed at the scene with utterly clarity. I guess it is clear in the overall rules.
Kat and Nat start out first and get to the choice point for the fast forward; it vaguely refers to a Norwegian Christmas ritual to be completed. They go for it. Kat is a 20-year vegetarian and the ritual is eating a roasted sheep`s head. I am glad this is one my mother did not bring over. I feared lutefisk and we never suffered that either.
In any case, Nat and Kat discover as they arrive at the fast forward what the task is as each is presented with her sheep`s head.
What will Nat do? It is clear from their experience in this leg that retreat to the normal path will put them behind many of the other teams (they had to go down a mountain in a cable car they would likely have to re-ascend).
Meanwhile Jill and Thomas were on their way and their discussion about relative educational differences and how it affects them does much to explain why I have not liked their past interactions. I now feel less against them.
One other cut shows the TV salesgirls lunatically intuitive. (They see a TV/communications tower and decide it must be their target.)
There is a speculation that Nat is terrified of heights and it true; but she has told Kat to force her to what must be done. (We had that problem alas year with height and water combined.)
Kat and Nat take the risk and are concerned when they see dining tables. And then there is a discussion over the sheep's head. Kat's response is amazing but a bit like what a doctor must often have to do - it's there and deal with it. "Tastes like money." I did admire this.
Meanwhile Gary and Mallory and the Asians are on their way up and it so sweet how much they clearly all like another.
Meanwhile all the other teams have to rappel off a ludicrously high bridge to the water and then get back up.
Meanwhile it was wonderful watching Nat and Kat defining each disgusting part of their meal as lettuce or some other vegetable. I as impressed by both of them, who became my temporary favorites in week 1.
"What are you doing? Eating like Norwegians!"
On the bridge some teams do well and others not so.
The Asians are the first up. Claire (hit by a watermelon earlier and close to my second-favorite) has a ton of a problem and they slowly fall way back.
Nick and Vicki stupidly arrive at the fast forward, which is marked `taken`. They are baffled (I am sure the rules explain it) but Nick`s instinct never to stop moving gets them going back onto track.
The Asians are great off the bridge as mare Father-Dad. Jill and Thomas leave the bridge. The Brooke-Claire combo is so funny - they sort of work but Claire takes on jobs that are really hard for her, like having a watermelon hit her full-on the head while Brooke keeps cheering her on. I do think they should have spent more time in the gym if they knew this was coming. Nick sends Vicki down and now I almost admire her. Chad takes the hard job too and now I wonder about my distaste for them.
The next task is to cheese whether to go to the next goal by Mountain Bike or a boat. I`d go for a boat in mountain country though you know you will get crap afterwards. Biking up a mountain is surely what they would do.
BTW Nat and Kat finished their food (I would guess Kat is sensibly barfing - she is a doctor).
Now let me just fast forward.
The volleyballs are eliminated.
There are tricky and difficult points now along the way.
But I now rather like all the teams, even the ones I wondered about before. And I also liked the volleyball players - they were, like a professional duo, and a little too focused; I think that is much of what cost them.
I SO look forward to the next episode.

More on the Creative Class theme in other words.

Glenn Reynolds a bit on an earlier theme. And one of Glenn's readers (pretty clearly a creative class guy, if not utterly super):
I’ve met many, many Tea Partiers at this point and they are not anti-elitist in a general, superficial sense. Indeed, they most often admire those who have succeeded by dint of a good education or hard work or taking advantage of a bit of good luck. The subset of elitists that we are fed up with are the ones in the government, the media, and academia who think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time every day and have the right to pick our pockets to fund it. Not only are we tired of being condescended to (and take my word for it, I could wipe the floor with most of them intellectually) but they’re obviously screwing everything up. So, to borrow Lee Harris’ word from his new book, we’re the “ornery” bastards who, from time to time, rise up to put the elite (and effete) corps of impudent snobs back in their place.
Read Glen's whole post - it is easy to see the attraction of Canada to Richard Florida, once you map 'eltie' to 'creative class', which I am pretty sure is a mapping in his perhaps small brain.
'pick our pockets' is the whole point.

It's Been a Curmudgeonly Day and Don Boudreaux Drags Me Out

And gets me really ready to enjoy Dancing with the Stars with this letter.
A theme that runs with approval throughout Jonathan Alter’s review of recent books on modern “liberalism” is that “liberals,” in contrast to their mindless Cro-Magnon opposites, overflow with ideas (“The State of Liberalism,” Oct. 24).
Indeed they do. But these ideas are almost exclusively about how other people should live their lives. These are ideas about how one group of people (the politically successful) should engineer everyone else’s contracts, social relations, diets, habits, and even moral sentiments.
There is a deep conflict here between what 'liberal' means in North America with what it meant classically; classical liberals, with whom I symathize utterly, like John Stuart Mill, actually thought liberty was important.
North American liberals are those described so well above.
Put differently, modern “liberalism’s” ideas are about replacing an unimaginably large multitude of diverse and competing ideas – each one individually chosen, practiced, assessed, and modified in light of what F.A. Hayek called “the particular circumstances of time and place” – with a relatively paltry set of ‘Big Ideas’ that are politically selected, centrally imposed, and enforced not by the natural give, take, and compromise of the everyday interactions of millions of people but, rather, by guns wielded by those whose overriding ‘idea’ is among the most simple-minded and antediluvian notions in history, namely, that those with the power of the sword are anointed to lord it over the rest of us.
Yup and that sure ain't what 'liberal' means in any sense I admire, but it is what we see in the US and Canada, ironically even more now in the US than in Canada.
Oh and by the way if the people don't like the ideas the overseers want to impose on them they are ungrateful, bitter, ignorant, or just do not understand their betters, who after all have been engaged in Ivy League Universities.
Oops - I meant to be cheerful but something happened.

CBC And Omar Khadr and Ethics

Hey look I watch Law and Order and I understand somebody could plead guilty when not guilty. The CBC since the plea has given unchallenged access to his appalling Canadian lawyer to essentially say, like a lawyer I do or do not know, but maybe he plead guilty when he was not.
In Law and Order this was not a well-regarded thing to do.
Apparently confessing to a court and then having your whole PR team undermine his allocution is OK by some.
By the way - what is this 'child soldier' crap? He was 15 - most of the conventions don't include that age.
Moreover a 15-year-old on the streets of Toronto who shoots me or throws a grenade at me garners none of my sympathy and I think should be locked up for a good while.
I'm with Rondi. Two creeps are off the street today for a while. How long of course has to got with our judicial system so I expect to see one of the creeps in Timmie's next week and the other in a year and a half. Perhaps they will both be strapped in suicide bombs.
BTW - Carole McNeil asks what the lawyer who is so full of tears thinks of Khadr and he admits he has barely talked to him.
Ah yes CBC - good to spend so much time with that idiot. Typical.

WMD and Today's The Current

Sometimes the producers of The Current should be simply embarrassed (my guess is most shows, but I listen only on the road so that means after they've had a whole weekend to construct their self-destruction).
This morning's was wonderfully egregious - it took them only 25 seconds; they did not even have to complete the ludicrous daily introduction by 'The Voice'. You can listen here (Part 1). (BTW - even after the first 25 seconds - stay - you won't have to listen to the incessant hmmming of Anna Maria Tremonti and the US lawyer's discussion of the strange position of the Khadr tribunal is interesting.)
Now I'm a member of the creative class (actually Richie says I am super-creative) so I've been reading Wired and I noticed this.
But chemical weapons, especially, did not vanish from the Iraqi battlefield. Remnants of Saddam’s toxic arsenal, largely destroyed after the Gulf War, remained. Jihadists, insurgents and foreign (possibly Iranian) agitators turned to these stockpiles during the Iraq conflict — and may have brewed up their own deadly agents.
In August 2004, for instance, American forces surreptitiously purchased what they believed to be containers of liquid sulfur mustard, a toxic “blister agent” used as a chemical weapon since World War I. The troops tested the liquid, and “reported two positive results for blister.” The chemical was then “triple-sealed and transported to a secure site” outside their base.
Three months later, in northern Iraq, U.S. scouts went to
look in on a “chemical weapons” complex. “One of the bunkers has been tampered with,” they write. “The integrity of the seal [around the complex] appears intact, but it seems someone is interesting in trying to get into the bunkers.”
OK just a few examples. There are more.
I guess CBC producers are not part of the creative class. Sorry, guys. I know you want to be.
Well, we can quibble over definitions, I suppose. But I bet you just did what CBS did too. At least the NY Post people know to check out other analyses.

Over-think much, Ian? - The Current version

Subject title slightly stolen from here.
On this morning's The Current on the CBC (you can find out how much this show impresses me by searching on thee name and averaging what the posts contain) guest host Ian Hanomansingh asked guest Michelle Shepard, something like "Can you explain why the Canadian public doesn't have a lot of sympathy for Omar Khadr?"  (That linked-to Wikipedia entry will be a party in the next while.)
I almost drove off the highway.  One has to very careful listening to The Current.
The good news of the day is that Khadr has finally plead guilty and publicly admitted he murdered a soldier.  this will end, I hope, the national yammering over such a tiny and technical subject. The bad news is that he will be walking the streets of Canada in what I hope is my lifetime.

Mayoralty Vote

I just cast my vote for Rob Ford; this was a no-brainier.
No other candidates than he and Rocco Rossi were willing to take on campaign positions opposed to endless sucking the public teat by unions, cultural groups (usually charmers like the Canadian Arab Federation), struggling artists, endless junkets by councillors and their supporting armies to conferences and the like all over the world, most of which were simply to preen (Copenhagen Conference, anyone), and all the other excesses of David Miller's time as mayor, after he lied his way into office two elections ago.
My major concern is that we will simultaneously elect a Council as stupid as the last one, and that will make Council very entertaining.
Rondi puts more succinctly in her last sentence in this post.
The bullshit Richard Florida post she points at is utterly outlandish.  By Richard Florida's definitions I am in the Super-Creative Class, and I also live in the City of Toronto, though not in the Annex, which I get the feeling he thinks should define the views of the whole City of Toronto.  After all he says the political divide is in the shape of a T and it is clear the heart of the good part of the T in his silly map is the Annex.  I think Florida, like most of those upset by Ford, is just a basic snob, and not all that bright a one.  His theories sound like total nonsense to me.  In fact when he first came to U of T I simply thought of him as a huckster.
By the way, I tend to be somewhat in favor of some things Florida seems to like, like bike paths, that Ford opposes. 
Let me simplify one of his profound observations with a simple pair of strikeouts: "Higher-paying, higher-skill, creative class jobs – in fields spanning science and technology; business and management; arts, culture, and entertainment; health care and education – are concentrated along subway routes."  His version will be beloved of his fans.  Mine is the observation that proximity to a subway station will drive the price of lodging up significantly and drive out people with jobs that pay less.  What a slick way to puff up your self-important audience!
Bottom line for me; when some guy tells me he will keep property taxe raises below the rate of inflation, and instead raises taxes by WAY more than that, allows unions to hold the city hostage with garbage strikes and transit strikes, I get a bit jaundiced about him and all his cronies on Council, and start thinking that maybe the one guy who voted against it all and railed against the excesses like Miller's self-important and useless Copenhagen Conference appearance deserves a vote.  I ain't exurban.   I ain't angry.  I just hopes for a change.  So I guess I'm a hillbilly.  I know I don't have an iPhone or Blackberry.
Now I will go steal the title of that Rondi post.

30% off

An amusing post from Greg Mankiw about nonsense in Venezuelan retail.
The rather fanciful notion here is not that far off 30% off signs in our retail stores, though it is more fanciful (someone who pays attention here CAN establish the veracity of the claim) and serves political purposes rather than somewhat hortatory ones.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Downton Abbey IS Mad Men

I broke into simultaneous tears and laughter in Episode 3 when Gwen's typewriter is discovered and she says, "I want to leave service; I want to be a secretary". The outraged looks and discussion are wonderful and Gwen is great in her self-defence.
These little bits of history are lovely and the fact that her typewriter is viewed as an instrument of the devil is so well-done.
Just as Peggy becomes a copywriter, and Megan aspires to it too.

I Knew It

Clint Eastwood is sensible. And very polite.

Please Get Barbara Boxer out of My Life

Even at the expense of adding Carly Fiorina back into it!
But this is really good. And it does make me think of the word 'bitch' which I very rarely use, but there are justified places.

Call Me Madam Joe from RightChange on Vimeo.

What a bitch! In the worst sense of the word (though I generally like dogs).

London, Ontario Trying to become a Laughingstock

I love London, Ontario and have posted many times in praise of activities there; it hosts a great University and many fine insurance companies.
And I am really unsure of the facts regarding the London Convention Centre's actual discussions regarding Mark Steyn's planned appearance there, but they certainly have made themselves now extremely well-known over the world. Or at least that part of the world that is no fan of Sharia or Islamist ambitions, as it appears they have simply succumbed to pressures from that quarter.
Moose and Squirrel's Natasha summarizes some of the discussion:
Still, I think it’d be great if the LCC’s manager could get her story straight; so far I’ve heard/read about three different versions. What’s clear, contrary to Ms Da Silva’s protestations that no Muslims complained, is that the LCC employee who spoke to Andrew Lawton confirmed they’d received pressure from Islamic groups, hence they were canceling to avoid alienating Muslim clients. Were they actually pressured? Who knows… It doesn’t really matter, since they capitulated anyway.
What a pathetic society we are turning into. I was proud as we let Christianity turn into the sad joke it is today, as it poisoned my childhood. We should make Islam as ridiculously pathetic as it should be and as soon as possible, please, and free its young victims from the misery it imposes.

Now I am Mentally Unstable?

Power Line has a great clip (this one from Scott Johnson) on NPR's CEO, Vivian Schiller, rightly being judged as somewhat defective by Bill O'Reilly and Juan Williams. I'll embed it here but recommend reading the post as well.

After watching this I was stunned that this idiot was the CEO of anything. She claims to make no judgment of Williams, but suggests he should be seeing a psychiatrist, and decides not to continue using his freelance services? What would she do if she HAD made a judgment? As Bill O'Reilly rightly summarizes, "She's a pinhead". A stupid woman. And worse than that, in my view. And also a coward; I'd love to see her a face to face with O'Reilly.
We have some pretty ugly characters running parts of the world.

More on Juan Williams

I think FOX's Sunday morning news show is the best on the air; I have given up on ABC's (which I once thought quite good) now that the embarrassing Christiane Amanpour is the host. One reason it has been so good is the balance on the panel, which features two people who have done work for NPR - Mara Liasson and Juan Williams.
Now neither of these two is a knee-jerk NPR type, and both have had flak from NPR for their appearances there, though they certainly provided a proper balance against Bill Kristol and Brit Hume. Mind you, Juan Williams was always skeptical of Obama, and has clearly been proven substantially right. I suspect this is part of why NPR has cut its ties with him (by text message - typical leftie class).
John Hinderaker has a very nice reflection on Williams.
Several years ago I was in Florida with my wife and several of my kids for a Hillsdale College event. At some point, my wife and daughters were on the beach and saw a respectable-looking guy walking along in the sand in a suit and wing-tips. As regular Fox News watchers, they recognized him immediately. My wife introduced herself and, sure enough, it was Williams. He was very gracious, living up to his reputation as a nice guy. I found the image endearing: even I am not geeky enough to walk on the beach in a suit.
And John cites this from Michael Barone:
Reading between the lines of Juan's statement and those of NPR officials, it's apparent that NPR was moved to fire Juan because he irritates so many people in its audience. An interesting contrast: many NPR listeners apparently could not stomach that Williams also appeared on Fox News. But it doesn't seem that any perceptible number of Fox News viewers had any complaints that Williams also worked for NPR. The Fox audience seems to be more tolerant of diversity than the NPR audience.
My guess is that FOX viewers generally appreciate disagreement and argument, while NPR listeners have a more religious attachment to their beliefs.
As John finishes:
That is very true. Conservatives don't try to silence their opponents, they just want to argue with them so that good public policy can emerge from the debate. Liberals--not every single one, but an alarming percentage--are infected by a totalitarian impulse to silence all who don't toe their line.
Finally, Paul noted earlier today that NPR's audience consists mostly of leftists. That is probably true, but NPR is also remarkably popular with taxi drivers, pretty much all of them immigrants. On hundreds of occasions, I have gotten into taxis driven by African immigrants and been subjected to NPR's left-wing propaganda. Often, I've been tempted to urge the driver to change the channel to, say, Rush Limbaugh. So far I haven't done it. But maybe NPR's firing of a decent liberal like Juan Williams will push me over the edge. It's time for African cab drivers to strike a blow for freedom.
To be honest, when I drive in the US I seek out on my radio station either some good country music station or NPR; the latter does provide interesting news coverage a lot of the time. Though I would go out of my way now not to do it if I thought I could somehow be counted as a listener.

Veterinary Care Versus Human Health Care

Frances Wooley has a touching and thoughtful post on this issue, one of my favorites. (It is after all one of the few ways to test the effectiveness of our various human health care systems.)
Is it right to equate animal care and human care? From a moral point of view, spending so much on animal care is problematic. The hundreds or thousands of dollars that I am spending on my dog's life could, if spent on mosquito nets or chickens or wells, measurably improve the lives of people - and surely human life is worth more than animal life?
Yet I have learned a valuable lesson from the animal hospital. Grief hurts. Some day I will lose Micky. But there are few limits to what I will pay to put off that suffering until tomorrow. And that time inconsistency - that discrepancy between what my rational self would have wanted, planning ahead and making choices ahead of time, and what I decide in the here and now - is a major barrier to controlling health care costs.
Post script: it is now three days since Micky's surgery, and so far he appears to be making a good recovery - thanks to the excellent care he received.
To the initial question - yes. And as someone who spent a lot of money on weird treatments to keep my already very old cat alive, I agree with the comment on there being few limits.
And yes - that post hits the biggest problem about controlling health care costs. Grief hurts big time.

Time to Go Friend Sarah on Facebook

Ann Althouse, quoting Sarah:
... I don’t expect Juan Williams to support me (he’s said some tough things about me in the past) – but I will always support his right and the right of all Americans to speak honestly about the threats this country faces. And for Juan, speaking honestly about these issues isn’t just his right, it’s his job. Up until yesterday, he was doing that job at NPR. Firing him is their loss.
If NPR is unable to tolerate an honest debate about an issue as important as Islamic terrorism, then it’s time for “National Public Radio” to become “National Private Radio.” It’s time for Congress to defund this organization.
There is no further excuse for organizations like NPR and the CBC.
And I agree utterly that Juan Williams has shown nothing but integrity in his work. (She may not have said that but I will.)

Gay Rights and the Obama Administration - Ann Althouse

She is SO right in these two posts.
I'm old, heterosexual, and an immense fan of staying alive. But I can't see why would it would help to hear this dreary, robotic intonation of conventional advice from a representative of an administration that is fighting, in courts, against the rights of gay people to serve in the military and to marry.
From my point of view Ann does not look that old!
The great windbag is just that; if Arnold Schwarzenegger has more guts than the great windbag on this simple principle, the little creep deserves to be removed from office as soon as possible, though 2012 would also be acceptable.

We Could Always Start with Lady Grantham and Mrs Crawley

So says Lady Grantham in the, I suspect will be wonderful, ITV series "Downton Abbey", which after a little more than one episode, I would characterize as 'Mad Men' meets 'Upstairs, Downstairs'. From the latter we get both worlds colliding in 1912, and from the former we get some interesting mix of history, and I sense some of the lovely care Matthew Weiner puts into his series.
The cast is amazing. Hugh Bonneville gets to be a sort of a lead but this is a real ensemble at work. The subject line is Maggie Smith to Penelope Wilton, and the line is dismissive, two of my favorite British actresses since the year I lived in England (ahh those Norman Conquests). And, to my utter astonishment, Elizabeth McGovern! I have asked myself where she went after her wonderful 'Ragtime' performance, and I learn from IMDB that she moved to England about 20 years ago. It is SO nice to have her back on my (computer) screen. (We don't get ITV here.) And she gets my favorite line of the first episode. Her husband (who married her for her money) is telling her why he has rejected an apparent suitor for his daughter, and asks "Do you think she would have been happy with a fortune hunter?" His wife (played by McGovern) responds "Might have been. I was". Her delivery is so perflectly flat that it tells the viewer a ton about their relationship and how great it is.
There is so much more to say about how fine their first episode is; I would not quite yet rank it with 'Mad Men' for care and precision but it is very close.
Thanks Norm!

A Wily Hunter - 1773 and Knowing your History

I like Neo-NeoCon's take on the recent blogosphere kerfuffle over prominent lefties making fun of Sarah Palin's "Party like it's 1773" comment. They of course simply proved what idiots they are by rushing forward on their clear assumption that Palin is more ignorant than they, a rather dubious assumption, and in fact one proven utterly wrong in this case.
For Palin’s critics, the significance of the year 1773 was just such an unknown unknown. The idea that Sarah Palin might be subtle enough to make a pun about “party” and “Tea Party” (not that it’s all that subtle, but they don’t even give her credit for that much wit), and that she also knows something about history that they don’t know, is simply incomprehensible to them. Therefore they fell into the trap.
Was it actually a deliberate .lure? There’s been a bit of speculation in the blogosphere that Palin may have made the reference as bait, knowing that it would be irresistible to some. And maybe she did; after all, she’s a wily hunter.
I think it is an interesting question whether she and her handlers set a trap here. After the dishonesty of some of the early interviews in the 2008 campaign from the media (Charles Gibson was shameful and Katie Couric hardly better) Palin seems to be rebuilding her stock and making it obvious how silly the Daily Kos is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Widener Law School - Utter Shame

Well that is what they should feel for their pretentious behavior.
The sorry thing is that Christine O'Donnell was right in her terms.
Ann Althouse explains what one ought to have done.
I've been studying law myself since 1978, and I still puzzle over things and try to work my way through problems. If a speaker at my school makes a statement that sounds outlandish to me — me with 32 years of studying law — I may display a puzzled expression or a smile, but I hear the person out and entertain the possibility that he has a point and that even if the point is wrong, I will have learned some new perspective on the ways of being wrong or how another human being's mind works. I try to create that atmosphere in the classroom.
What is the atmosphere at Widener? Is there no intellectual curiosity? No love of debate? No grasp of how complex constitutional law problems can be?
C'mon Anne - it's an elite university in the 21st century. The students and faculty already know everything.

The Greatest Baseball Game Ever?

I am rather deficient in early childhood memories. I recall riding a pony, and this must have been before I turned 8, and I have a specific memory of my father saying "Don Larsen just pitched a perfect game", and having no idea what that meant.
But I sure do remember the seventh game of the 1960 World Series, and Paul Mirengoff, marking its fiftieth anniversary, has made a series of wonderful posts on that subject. Part 5 is here, but you should go and read the earlier parts, as Mazeroski's home run was only the icing on the cake of the most ridiculous drama I can recall in baseball. And you should go find them yourself as you ought to be reading the Power Line blog.
Terry's first pitch was high. Catcher Johnny Blanchard took a few steps towards the mound and signaled that Terry should get the ball down. His next pitch was fat. Mazeroski launched it to deep left field. Yogi Berra turned looked up and then began jogging towards the dug-out. Baseball's most dramatic game had come to a stunning conclusion.
The Yankees walked directly to the locker room. In those days, the losing players did not sit morosely in the dug-out staring blankly at the field. In any case, that wasn't the Yankee way.
Ralph Terry entered Casey Stengel's office to apologize. Stengel told him not to forget about it and come back strong next year. Terry would, but Stengel wouldn't reap the benefits. Within a week, the Yankees fired him.
Blanchard would claim that Mazeroski's homer came off of a Terry slider, the pitch Lopat had warned him not to throw. Terry would never say what pitch he threw. His stock answer to the question has always been, "the wrong pitch."
Mickey Mantle had batted .400 for the Series with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. He had also contributed a base-running play for the ages. Now, he was disconsolate and ungracious, claiming that this was the first time the Yankees had lost a World Series to an inferior team. The Pirates were probably every bit as good as the Yankees, and had demonstrated it over the course of the full season. But given the run count for the Series - New York 55, Pittsburgh 27 - one could certainly understand Mantle's point.
The Yankees won games by overwhelming scores, but lost four if only by squeaky results. And that is what counted.
I fear in a way that this game ruined baseball to a degree for me, though I loved playing it through my teens. But that level of drama seems unreachable now. And Paul Mirengoff makes another good point in this post. The games are simply too long!
This seems a tendency now in all sports; I always felt two hours or so was about the time one could sustain drama for me. Look at how long movies are. But add overtime to soccer, and all the pitching changes to baseball, and keeping my attention has become more difficult. The NFL has now crept up to three hours, but that is decidedly better than yesterday's baseball.

David Harsanyi Hits It

So yeah, I agree, Christine O'Donnell seems a bit of a flake (though cute and charming), and Sharron Angle is not quite my cup of tea, and Sarah Palin can say things that make me cringe, etc. So why does the idea of their winning positions not bother me at all?
David Harsanyi explains
"Part of the reason that our politics seems so tough right now," Obama recently explained, "and facts and science and argument [do] not seem to be winning the day all the time is because we're hard-wired not to always think clearly when we're scared. And the country is scared." (Wait. If we're hard-wired to be confused, and we're confused, isn't science winning the day? It's all so perplexing.)
Science can explain all, including how bitter, frightened, clingy voters aren't grateful enough.
Or — and realize this is probably crazy talk — voters aren't scared, they've just been paying attention and are turning to candidates who, though far less than perfect and not always sophisticated, better reflect their sensibilities.
Pompous puffed-up windbags like Obama are far more distasteful to me than the various egregiously weird Tea Party candidates. And their self-satisfaction, and knee-jerk calls about racism, make them even more distasteful. Obama's characterization of voters in the quote above are excuses not to take the people seriously.
And to be quite honest, while I am an atheist revolted at creationism, I feel much happier watching Sarah Palin on DWTS watching her daughter dance, than any scene I have ever watched featuring the current President.

German Movies

I was recently in Germany for a week and a half, and of course jet-lagged. There, I was thrilled to be able to see episodes of 'Tatort' (deservedly running now 40 years!), but on two nights in a row my hopes of falling asleep were thwarted by the movies being shown following the detective show.
The first night it was 'Das Leben der Anderen'. I had seen it earlier, but looking at Martina Gedeck is always a pleasure so I watched it again. Big Hollywood has a great post on this excellent docudrama on the awfulness of Communism.
That post cites a wonderful, if slightly over the top, endorsement from William F. Buckley:
I looked at the record and was gratified to find, in the critics’ files, encomiums absolutely unconfined in their admiration of this movie, which in fact won the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film. And I was unsurprised to find that what seems the whole of East Germany is riven by its impact. Since so many East Germans were complicit in the postwar reign of the German Democratic Republic, there is a corporate national shame at the betrayal of life, as so brazenly done by so many millions, but whose country, at least, has given the world this holy vessel of expiation
The next night Tatort was followed by The Baader-Meinhof Complex so I stayed up again. This film is not so well constructed, and it seems to depend on knowledge of the nutballs involved, but it was fine for me, as I remember that period. It also features the wonderful and beautiful Martina Gedeck as the somwhat-conflicted Ulrike Meinhof, so it was a pleasure to watch, but I was also really impressed by Moritz Bleibtreu as the god-awful maniac Andreas Baader. He conveyed so well the fact that the politics of this group were largely a vicious infantile tantrum, and that Germany took far too long just to simply neutralize these idiots one way or another.
I recommend the film, but I also suggest hitting Wikipedia first to get the general drift, as the film itself does little to navigate a naive viewer.
I particularly recommend Gedeck's performance as Meinhof (she is a great actress) and Johanna Wokalek's as Gudrun Ensslin. These were awful people in an awful time. It is astonishing to remember what sympathy they once had. (And guess from whom - our totalitarian lovers, the lefties.)
Germany now seems SO far from that world, and thankfully so. I love visiting the country.

Well-Deserved Praise for Jane Bryant

In this Tom and Lorenzo post. The long tail lets us median folk really enjoy the work of the obsessives.
You really have to go there because the screencaps are the point but their analyses are also wonderful.
On Betty curled up in bed in frustration:
Oh, Janie Bryant. You are one masterful costume designer. We literally gasped out loud at this shot because it so clearly called back to this one, from setting to dress. At the time we noted how juvenile that dress looked on Sally compared to the rest of her costuming this season. Betty and Sally in their little plaid dresses, pouting because grownups are mean and don't understand them.
On the scene when Joyce brings her model friend to Peggy:
Three different women of roughly the same age; three entirely different looks. Joyce is still working her "artsy lesbian" look, with her men's style jacket, pants (which were shocking in a professional setting in 1965), and trademark turquoise necklace. Carolyn Jones' get up initially struck us as a bit over the top, but she's a model. It makes sense for her to dress this way. Peggy is wearing typical office-wear for Peggy. We've seen everything she's wearing here before. It's amazing how you can look at all three of these women in the scene and know so much about them just by their clothing.
And a great comment on the milkshake scene:
At one time, we're sure Betty was bright-eyed and didn't get upset over spilled milk either. It was the pressure of living up to that perfect image while being married to a mess like Don that drove Betty to become the hardened woman she is. We doubt Megan will ever be as childlike as Betty is (because that's not something you can lay at Don's feet), but we fear after a half-decade or so of marriage to Don, she'll be a much different woman. Remember, Betty spoke Italian, traveled the world and was educated too.
I doubt that EVERYTHING is so carefully constructed but there is no question a lot of this is. Cable TV is responsible now for a lot of great art that it was once much harder to create.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Mad Men Season Finale - Tom and Lorenzo

They nail the episode beautifully.
They hit many things I have already discussed but also do a nice job describing January Jones' great skills in one utterly key and subtle scene:
And now, with Henry openly revealing his disgust for her, she "forgets" Don is stopping by with the realtor, quickly powders her nose before he comes in, and puts out some feelers to see if they still have anything of any worth between them. That is EXACTLY what was going on in that scene, even if, like we said, Betty would never admit it. When he asks her about her new house, she wrinkles her nose and says "It's not perfect." Once again, we feel compelled to point out that January Jones, at least in this role, is a better actress than people give her credit for. The wave of emotions that briefly washed over her face (before she quickly locked them down) upon hearing Don's news was brilliant. The fact that she blurted out Bethany's name lets us know just how much she's been obsessing over that girl since she first set eyes on her. That scene in the kitchen was deeply sad and beautifully played. It depresses us to think so, but Betty's not looking at much happiness in her future, as far as we can see. Not unless she gets up from some of the blows she took this episode and really examines herself. Henry's not gonna stick around "in another man's dirt" much longer if she doesn't get her shit together.
She gets Bethany's surname too, which would not have come to my mind!


A Muslim Mayor!
Well an Ismaili so someone most Muslims think should be murdered.
CBC leaves that out.

DWTS - This Week's Elimination

ABC milks this franchise brilliantly. And it was very interesting that the first thing they did last night was announce that the two lowest-scoring teams were safe; Bristol and Kyle clearly have constituencies of voters out there!
There was a lovely moment Monday night, when Maks and Brandy returned to the interview area, and Kurt Warner tapped Maks as a congratulation, for their truly wonderful performance. I wonder how much interaction there is for the different couples, other than the competition days. But it was nice to see the recognition on one of those days.
Very sweet - the Congolese immigrant family and their dance.
And anyone who looks at my sidebar knows I am always willing to watch Shakira Mebarak perform. So thanks ABC!
The producers of this show are so good; Hasselhof's 'ad' was wonderful, and that they got Michael Bolton back to sing when I was not watching was very smart.
But farewell Florence Henderson. I knew your weeks were numbered, as are Bristol's and Kyle's, and I suspect everyone's but Jennifer's and Brandy's.
Florence left with such class and she was dead right - it is clear how well-produced this show is and it deserved all her praise.

l'm Baffled - Bristol Palin on DWTS

Ann Althouse watches this clip:

Even when the judges come up with some nice things to say about her dancing, she can't smile. Please, let the girl go home! If you can bear — or ape — to watch the whole clip, you'll hear her, toward the end, say "I hate the jive." She means, presumably, the dance they were doing, "the jive." But wouldn't it be awesome if she were awake enough to mean all this bullshit I've been put through since as long as I can remember?
Huh? She seems to me to be smiling and her comment "I hate the jive" was clearly a simple assertion that she was doing things way out of her comfort zone. Which is the whole point of DWTS, and she surely knew that before agreeing to be on it.
My read of this was that she is a somewhat reserved girl, with a sense of humor.
And people really are different; consider Brandy and her exulting in the praise of the judges. No reserve there and that was delightful too.
In any case, if she really is suffering, I suspect she will have to suffer only a couple more weeks, though she must be getting a lot of votes each week.

I am Glad I Do Not Have to Vote in Kentucky

Ann Althouse presents how ugly the scene is there right now.
On the other hand I am far from excited about the next Ontario provincial election.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mad Men Season 4 Finale - Megan was really excited

There is something telling about giving her an Irish forename and making her a Quebecer; one of those funny bits of history that is spot on.
I was stunned that the show let Megan call home in French and did not provide subtitles, because what she said was so touching. She was talking to her mother and asked her to get her father very quickly.
I am not sure what it is supposed to mean.
But I do not believe it is an accident that she wanted her father so badly on the phone or that Weiner decided to let most of his audience be unaware of that! These guys are too smart.

Huh? This Embarrasses Natalie Portman?

What is the problem with the video linked here?
Why is that embarrassing?
In fact my view of Natalie Portman's career is that she was astonishing as a young actress, in two great movies, Leon, and Beautiful Girls.
And since those two movies, well nothing of much interest to me. It's sad; she was SO good and interesting once.
I think she should be more embarrassed at her career after she turned 14.

Mad Men Season 4 Finale - Ken Cosgrove

Sis noticed this but I missed it big time the first couple of times I re-watched the episode.
Finally, Ken is a mensch -- giving credit to Peggy and doing so happily, and professing not only respect for his wife but an understanding that their relationship takes priority over work.
Ken, when, in the shadow of Don's marriage announcement, with Peggy, to announce the only decent business news for SCDP in months, defers to Peggy. It is lovely, and I am astonished to have missed it, especially having been pointed to it. I doubt Pete would have done such a thing.
It is one of the incredibly small and brilliant things the people who make this soap opera do that make it so much more than a standard soap opera.
However, this just makes me worry more for Cynthia. Especially with Pete's comment "Are you two getting married?" as Ken and Peggy enter Don's office. There would be no better way to stick the knife into Pete than take up with Ken.
On the other hand, I think I'd like to have a friend as Don does in Peggy.

Mad Men Season 4 Finale - "It's Just a Milkshake"

A beautifully acted scene where Sally spills a milkshake and the whole Draper family is about to go into their normal mode of excess anger and recrimination. Don goes all tense and Sally looks apprehensive.
Megan's intervention, starting to clean up and indicating there is no real problem, defusing the impending explosion, astonishes Don and Sally. Hamm and Shipka are just superb in how they reflect their astonishment at Megan's peace-making and sheer competence, with none of the Draper family hysteria. This is a new world!
(Yes I am coming around to finding Megan less weird as Don's choice, as I should as a fond Canadian, with both the actress and character Canadian.)
This show is clearly so carefully constructed that the smallest gestures are worth close attention. And the actors all deliver magnificently.
A couple of other GREAT lines. Roger's "Who the Hell's that?" when Don refers to Megan as Miss Clavet. It was a lovely reference back to Roger's saying he would have to get to know the names of some of his employees before firing them.
And after re-watching, I am a bit worried about Ken's "Cynthia is my life," as Peggy leaps into his arms as they conclude essentially the only business the firm has picked up in ages.
And what was visible through the window as the episode closed?

DWTS - S11E09

I must say, now that The Situation has been voted off the island, and so I can watch the show again, I suspect I amn really going to enjoy the rest of the season. I could not watch it when that clown was on the show (he did not even try, in my view) but he did me the kindness of being evicted just as I returned from Germany.
But what stuns me is how appealing all the remaining 'celebrities' are. And I confess that while I had no idea who 'Brandy' was, she sure has earned my respect (I still know nothing to speak of about her actual career - I take it she is this year's Nicole Scherzinger). Her response to the judge's remarks was so clear and so genuine; she really is there to compete and really wants praise; and she sure delivers to get it.
Obviously Kyle, Florence, and Bristol Palin will have to go over the next few weeks. But each of them brings a lot to the show. Kyle (whoever he is) is just so full of fun, 'sexy senior' Florence so enjoys being mischievous, and Bristol seems a really good-hearted person (which is no surprise to me with her a daughter of Sarah Palin).
Seems to me the showdown will be Jennifer Grey (how could they have canceled "It's Like, You Know"?) and Brandy.
But whatever it gets to, these celebrities and their dancing pro partners are clearly working very hard and enjoying their successes. It really is nice to watch a show so positive (once they get rid of The Situation - never found a reason to like him).

Carlos the Jackal is Now a Muslim?

This is too perfect.
The real Carlos turned 61 just this week in a French prison, where he has been since being seized in Khartoum. Convinced that fundamentalist Islam is the new wave of anti-imperialism, he has become a Muslim and written a book about “revolutionary Islam,” which he says “attacks the ruling classes in order to achieve a more equitable redistribution of wealth.” In his book he praises bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks, and claims that only a coalition of Islamic and Marxist revolutionaries can bring down America the imperialist oppressor, a pursuit he describes as “the highest goal of humanity.”
The most recent of a spate of excellent European films about terrorists and gangsters like Mesrine, The Baader-Meinhof Complex, and A Prophet, Carlos spans more than twenty years, more than half a dozen countries, and just as many languages, mostly English, French, Spanish, and Arabic. Despite its frustrating moral distance from its subject, the miniseries is a must-see historical epic of the origins of modern terrorism - and of its first repellant celebrity.
Pathetic psychotic thugs do tend to band together.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Amazing Race S17E04

I was out of the country and missed a couple of episodes.
Unfortunately the teams I want to see eliminated (Vicki and partner, Chad and Stephanie) still survive.
On the other hand the teams I at the moment really like (the TV salesgirls, the doctors, and the Asian dad and son) are all still in the game.
They sure had some wacky choices last night, and it was interesting how hard it proved for people to simply slide downhill in under 2 minutes.
I will miss the Princeton choirboys; they were interesting.
And I am glad Jill and Thomas had to burn their express pass; they have yet to give me a reason to like them.

Mad Men Season 4 Finale - Second-Best Line

Silly Wife has told me about the Austrian approach to puffing people up - Titel ohne Mittel.
Joan gets one in this episode.
"It's almost an honor".

Mad Men Season 4 Finale

The greatest line came very early, and it is the greatest line of the whole series so far. And it came from Ken Cosgrove:
"Cynthia's my life - my actual life"
The only character so far with any apparent grounding!
Don marrying Megan! Weird.
And I rather like Dr. Faye despite her ethical lapse big-time.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Be Like Coca-Cola

Melinda Gates on learning from this corporation.

I do not drink soft drinks but some of the orange juice I drink is Minute Maid and I think they get me there.
But Melinda - Somali hip-hop artist! He is a Canadian hip-hop artist. But her point is really good.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


CBC TV is reminding me today constantly of about the only useful thing one of our most useless Prime Ministers ever did, invoking the War Measures Act during our October Crisis (which shocked all the furriners in Berkeley, where I was a newly installed student).
The combination of this memory and the rescue of the Chilean miners brought back to my mind the utterly brilliant Georges Dor song, "La Manic".  To my astonishment, YouTube seems to have no rendition of it by the wonderful Pauline Julien (be aware she and my family have a history!).
I love this comment from the YouTube version of the song that I found.
I don't know what this song is takling about,but it seems to me that it conceals pure and beautiful love,devotion and the things that people hold dearest of all. I felt warmth inside.

Well, I will tell you.  And it relates to the Chilean miners.  It's a beautiful song, set up as a letter from a guy working on a major project to the family he misses.  "If you knew how boring it is at the Manic, you'd write me a lot more often."
Just stunningly beautiful and dead true.  Bruno Pelletier is great but I wish I had Pauline Julien to link to.


Holland may survive, though this can hardly be called justice, a perprosecution that should never have happened at all.
On the comparison of the Koran with Mein Kampf, the prosecutors said the comparison was 'crude but that did not make it punishable'.
Hmm.  Crude.  But certainly not entirely nutty.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hat Tip to PEF

This video is ancient and I may have blogged it but it was lovely to find the Progressive Economics Forum post it. So enjoy. I am more of an Austrian (for personal reasons too!) but it is clearly enjoyable by all!


In the best sense.
Tim Worstall points to it in the Chilean rescue effort.
But that is what “officer class” means and as this story shows us, that elusive quality is to be found in mensch of every nationality, race and class.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best Day of TV Ever?

I think so and it is partly because it was so unintentional (and it is not ever).
Seeing the Chilean miners emerge one-by-one every 45 minutes or so has been so satisfying that I have had no urge to switch over to what I would normally watch. I have flipped around among various news stations but they are also all locked on the rescue effort.
Each appearance of a new miner has its new delights; these guys are so tough, and so happy when they emerge, that the pleasure of watching them emerge and re-connect is deeply satisfying. It is hard to fight back tears.
I'm in my early '60s so I have seen a lot of history on television. The Kennedy assassination day was major, as was the railway trip of Bobby Kennedy's body. I was institutionally otherwise engaged on 9/11 so missed much of that coverage until about 3 pm Eastern.
But this last day is unforgettable and delightful in ways none of those events were because:
a) the story is meted out at a really nice rhythm
b) the key players, the miners, are just ordinary working-class Joes
c) nobody is in this game for any reason other than just trying to help someone else
d) the reunifications are just flat out SO delightful.
I can think of many other things - in a poorer world, these guys could never have been rescued - this is the world our aggressive environmentalists want - just let 'em die underground!
Whoever was behind this rescue was really impressive. I liked Steve Sailer's comment this morning
Take your time and do it right.
And throw several approaches at it to see which one pays off first.
I loved the fist-pumping from one of the early emergees, getting the crowd to chant and cheer. Imagine what would have gone in your head after the initial mine collapse; who among them could have thought we above ground would care so much?
I do find this unique in my lifetime and spectacular. Maybe it can teach the rest of Latin America how to run a country.
Perhaps that is hoping far too much.

The Foreclosure Cock-Up Growing in the US

BNN is Canada's Business News network; on the show 'SquuezePlay' Yves Smith gives an excellent exposition of the questionable procedures behind the wave of suspensions of foreclosures going on right now. This makes the housing market even more of a mess, and clearly delays getting the housing market back to any sort of reasonable state.
You can watch it and learn here.

It Would be Amazing to be in Chile Today the rescue workers extract the miners from their long underground captivity. I will bet the whole country is glued to TV screens, and they must feel proud of the apparent success of the major effort launched to save their compatriots.
I'm watching it and am delighted! Even the occasional inanity in the coverage cannot reduce the delight in the response as each miner is released to a family member and to thanking the rescue workers.
What a great little species to expend so much in effort and resources to save these guys.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The First Day of School is Tough on All my Kids

... especially the one I married.
Having watched in retirement essentially all episodes of all normally syndicated shows, I am now working through more recent efforts.
I had read a lot about 'Modern Family', with so many positive reviews. And I am now watching Season 1 (and will likely watch this second one live, though that would ruin the syndication fun in the future).
It takes a lot of setup, but the first day of school episode was lovely, 6 episodes into the first season.
I bet they have set up a LOT more payoff.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Kathy Shaidle Parties

Over the 'progressives' who ain't that so much in one key area.
She brings back amazing memories, and I love the 'Firing Line' discussion; both women are articulate and sensible in my view, and it brought back major memories.

Nobel Peace Prize

Rarely do I feel 'Hooray', with the typical anti-Americanism of picking the usual suspects. But Hooray!
h/y Tyler Cowen He cites and I simply repeat:
Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

More on Blondes

Tyler Cowen has the latest on Lithuanians cashing in their chips.
As for me, a staff of short dark-haired Central Europeans would be more of a draw.
I am a bit surprised Westfalians are not exploiting this same feature, but maybe they have more useful things to do.

Yarn Bombing - People are so Great

h/t Tim Worstall
Anarchy has its small benefits.
"Kooky and eccentric" is also a good description of Magda Sayeg, the Texas woman credited with starting the yarn bombing movement. Sayeg was managing a clothes shop in 2005 when she was struck by the ugliness of its steel-and-concrete surroundings. Overwhelmed by "a selfish desire to add colour to my world", she knitted her shop a door handle. Then she knitted a sheath for the stop-sign pole across the road. "People got out of their cars and took photos in front of it," she recalls. Seduced by these positive reactions, she began splattering bits of knitting across the world: over parking meters in Brooklyn, over a bus in Mexico, most recently over the gun carried by an 8m-high statue of a soldier in Bali, neutering its violence.
Texas. That fits beautifully, though her reach is worldwide.
And then comes the downfall.
This might explain the increasing desire of councils and art institutions to commission yarn bombers to create official works of art. In August, Belfast was comprehensively yarn bombed at the instigation of Craft Northern Ireland, a government-backed organisation supporting the craft industry. Sayeg has been invited by cities across the US to liven up their public spaces, and O'Farrell is finding it increasingly difficult to separate her guerilla activities from the teaching and charity events she is engaged in as part of her day job, managing the knitting community, Stitch London.
Great! Let's get the David Millers and the "arts institutions" engaged to ruin a perfectly sensible activity.
S^&t. Oh well, another good idea gone seriously bad.