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silly little country

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Home January 2011
January 2011

Kudos to CNN

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I am not always full of a positive view, but they have Ben Wedemann in Libya.  Nice job!  And good luck to Ben!

His Suit May Have Been Brown

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Another really good IBM retrospective, this one from Errol Morris and Philip Glass.

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"Made the world smaller."

Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 17:17

A Lovely Celebration

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Sure, it does some sugar-coating, but the conceit behind the video is witty and runs amusingly into the future.

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The company is/was a class act.

" '31 was a big year for punches."

Last Updated on Monday, 31 January 2011 16:38

The West Dodges Another Bullet

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That it had pointed at its own stupid brain.

Lars Hedegaard is acquittted!

However, the public prosecutor has been privy to the circumstances surrounding my case for a year – and yet he chose to prosecute me. Obviously in the hope that he could secure a conviction given the Islamophile sentiment among our ruling classes.

My acquittal is therefore a major victory for free speech.

I have no doubt that the massive support I have received from freedom fighters around the world has been instrumental in securing my acquittal.

This outcome will encourage people all over the West and beyond to speak up.

I am not sure that Islam is really, as Michael Houllebecq said, the stupidest religion, but it is sure up there.  But wherever Islam sits in the scales of stupidity, Western governments have been racing for the top in using the courts to punish perfectly reasonable criticism of a pretty primitive social order.  Which is the stupidest Western government?  The Netherlands, France, Canada, Denmark?  It is quite the competition.  Every one of these countries has thrown state power at prosecuting people who made perfectly reasonable criticisms of a backward religion.  What a waste of time and inappropriate use of the state.


Provably Not Even Close to Being Equal

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Too dead true and we are close behind:  It is not common enough to point out how backward behaviors in Canada are truly backward.

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The religion of permanent offence!  I love that.  There are truly loathsome behaviors in this story.


All the Hot Girls Wear Glasses

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I've been to Portland a couple of times in the last few years and the first thing I reported to SillyWife each time was that glamour seemed not to be very important there, or if so, it was a glamour that missed my radar completely.  This week a friend alerted me to this very entertaining video, that amusingly underscores this idea, and adds a few others, also fairly visible to the casual observer on a visit.

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 January 2011 19:42

And She's Not Just Mischievous

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Also pretty insightful here.

Despite the flowery rhetoric, the President doesn’t seem to understand that individuals make America great, not the federal government. American greatness lies in the courage and hard work of individual innovators and entrepreneurs. America is an exceptional nation in part because we have historically been a country that rewards and affirms individual initiative and offers people the freedom to invest and create as they see fit – not as a government bureaucrat does. Yes, government can play an appropriate role in our free market by ensuring a level playing field to encourage honest competition without picking winners and losers. But by and large, government should get out of the way. Unfortunately, under President Obama’s leadership, government growth is in our way, and his “big government greatness” will not help matters.

Consider what his “big government greatness” really amounts to. It’s basically a corporatist agenda – it’s the collaboration between big government and the big businesses that have powerful friends in D.C. and can afford to hire big lobbyists. This collaboration works in a manner that distorts and corrupts true free market capitalism. This isn’t just old-fashioned big government liberalism; this is crony capitalism on steroids. In the interests of big business, we’re “investing” in technologies and industries that venture capitalists tell us are non-starters, but which will provide lucrative returns for some corporate interests who have major investments in these areas. In the interests of big government, we’re not reducing the size of our bloated government or cutting spending, we’re told the President will freeze it – at unsustainable, historic levels! In practice, this means that public sector employees (big government’s staunchest defenders) may not lose jobs, but millions of Americans in the private sector face lay offs because the ever-expanding government has squeezed out and crippled our economy under the weight of unsustainable debt.

Ronald Reagan said, “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.” President Obama’s proposals last night stick the little guy with the bill, while big government and its big corporate partners prosper. The plain truth is our country simply cannot afford Barack Obama’s dream of an “exceptionally big government” that may help the big guys, but sticks it to the rest of us.

Crony capitalism on steroids!  Sounds about right from what I can see.

Mickey Kaus sees some of the same thing:

Shouldn't Republicans hold hearings on the general threat of Putin-like corporatism—i.e., an insidious alliance between big government and favored corporate and labor interests? a) They could call GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt to testify and embarrass him about the myriad ways in which his slightly creepy role as CEO and presidential adviser might allow him to benefit his company and squash competitors; b) They could grill the various regulators who might be tempted to favor the auto manufacturers that the government bailed out (and which, in GM's case, it still owns about a third of). Maybe some GM competitors would even be brave enough to testify. (Exhibit No. 23: Will GM and Chrysler claim all the  remaining billions of "green" retooling loan money from Obama's Department of Energy? Entrepreneurial startups need not apply?) c) They could question whether these bureaucrats and others are also doing favors for other Obama constituencies, like labor unions, or Google; d) They'd appear transpartisan--this is an issue where left and right populists unite. Do they love corporate-government alliances at Daily Kos? It's also one of the legitimate worries at the heart of TeaPartyism.

There's more.  He has found a good solid bipartisan issue.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:16

Sarah Palin is still Mischievous

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And pretty funny (and I had the same reaction - what the hell is he talking about?).

“His theme last night was wtf, winning the future,” she continued. “I thought, okay, that acronym - spot on. There were a lot of wtf moments throughout that speech.”

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Further evidence of the low quality of his staff, that they would walk into such a dumb initialism.


I Got Your Psycho, Your Crazy Ass Mice.

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Brilliant.  And the comments show that a lot of people identify strongly.

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Last Updated on Monday, 24 January 2011 17:43

Government or Corporate - Which Culture is Healthier?

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I know in my heart but Arnold Kling adduces the evidence.

Hardly any of the top 10 corporations of 30 years ago are still in the top 10 today. But what if you made a list of the top political lobbying organizations? The realtors, AARP, the lawyers, the bankers, etc.

Look at family dynasties. I cannot think of one current CEO of a Fortune 500 company who is the son of a fortune 500 CEO. But in politics, Mitt Romney the failed Presidential candidate is the son of a failed Presidential candidate. Governor Andrew Cuomo is the son of a governor. William Daley...I could go on.

Amusingly, I actually worked for a company whose possibly greatest and most risk-taking leader was the son of more or less the founder.  But what an exception; and some nasties in the '90s, when I was an employee, witnessed enormous changes.  But sometimes the son is the right guy!


The Benefits of Sleeplessness

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This guy is so cool and so great at self-assessment, and what a hell of an experience. He convinces me utterly that my bravado on riding the London Underground two days after was somewhat sillier than I assessed it at the time.

Every second of that interview is worth hearing.

Thanks world for allowing me to share it with Tim Coulson!

Last Updated on Friday, 21 January 2011 06:34

Is This a Rich Cullture or What?

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I did not notice that Hank Cochran died last year, a man who SO enriched my life.

And I had NO idea how lucky we are to have enjoyed his talents.

Born during the Great Depression in Isola, Mississippi, he contracted pneumonia, whooping cough, measles, and mumps all about the same time at age 2. The doctor didn't think that he would survive.

I had no lidea his life was so amazing - it even gets worse after that bit.

His uncle Otis Cochran taught him how to play the guitar as the pair hitchhiked from Mississippi to southeastern New Mexico to work in the oilfields.[2] After returning to Mississippi in his teens, he went to California and picked olives. While there he formed The Cochran Brothers, a duo with un-related Eddie Cochran.

This is The Grapes of Wrath but real!

And then that moment that has made us all so thankful for him.

Aged 24 he moved to Nashville in 1960, and teamed up with Harlan Howard to write "I Fall to Pieces." It became a major hit for Patsy Cline (recorded November 16, 1960), reaching #1 on the Billboard country charts and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 (chart for all music categories). Cline also recorded Cochran's "She's Got You" (recorded December 17, 1961, it was another major hit, #1 on the country charts and #14 on the Hot 100), and "Why Can't He Be You" (recorded September 5, 1962).

It is the first sentence that is the true magic though the rest matters too.  What a collaboration!

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But just listen to the incredible precision!  The emphasis on the personal pronouns is utterly lovely; Cline knows this about being bewitched and explains the magic so subtly - "*YOU* walk by and *I* fall to pieces".

There have been great versions since but nothing to come close to Cline.

YouTube features some pretty good ones, especially by Lee Ann Rimes (who belts it out) and Linda Ronstadt, but it's like listening to Michael Buble after listening to Sinatra.

BTW for SillyWife the other half of the team that wrote this wrote "Ich Zaehle Taeglich Meine Sorgen".

In any case what I loved in this story was this point about his career:

Two of his fondest memories were working with Natalie Cole (among other artists) on a 2003 tribute album to Patsy Cline (Remembering Patsy Cline), because of his love for her father Nat King Cole,[2] and his collaboration with Vern Gosdin for the 1988 album Chiseled in Stone (Gosdin's highest rated album at #7).[3]

Darned Southern racists!

And to double the richness of my life:

While working at publishing company Pamper Music, he used to spend nights playing at a Nashville bar called Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. While there a new guy showed up whose talent left Cochran amazed. He then encouraged management to sign the young songwriter, Willie Nelson, giving Nelson a raise that was coming to him at the time.[2]

Last Updated on Friday, 21 January 2011 06:09

What Would It Take to Catch Condi's Eye? Piers Morgan Asks

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I am sure he was slightly hopeful - who would not be?  OK look much would have to happen for this to matter to me.

But if it might happen I hope Condi gives him an answer!  Would she ever be high on my list!

I guess we will see.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 15:12


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I thought the Hu-Obama presser was not bad but it sure raised a giant question in my mind.

As I flipped news channels. I saw NO hint anywhere that any News network chose to engage an independent Mandarin speaker.  For example for the CBC this should have required someone to exit the building for 20 minutes and wave a sign!  Wait a sec!  CBC NN chose not to cover the Obama-Hu press conference.  (What a country.  Or more exactly what a 'national broadcaster'!)

But still - not CNN, not FOX News.  No hint of separate translation from the official person.  Ironically the only skepticism came from Xinhua, late in the press conference.  I hope our crack news agencies are watching to see what happens to that obviously pretty brave Chinese reporter?

Hey wait.  That might be work?!  Surely it's way better just to wait for Obama to tell us what to report!?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 15:02

Consider It an Innocent Gesture of Endearment

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This was just a lovely line from last night's NCIS and this show remains to me a continuingly delightful entertainment; what was loveliest here was the deivery by the actors, spread across a few generations now, all playing their roles with great care and effect.

The line was delivered by David McCallum, who plays the slightly rambling British ME; I am not sure Sally Draper would get off to his current incarnation today, though much depends, and of course today's Sally Draper might be otherwise excited.  His Man from Uncle role is gone but he is a real asset to the performing team in this show.

It was delivered to Bob Newhart, playing the McCallum character's predecessor in his NCSI job.  He is great in his continuing use of deadpan, and great that he is not looking every second for some laugh.

The line referred to an act by the character played by Mark Harmon.  He is a little younger than I but I recall when he was a major college football quarterback at UCLA (that alone is a really serious achievement), and I knew his dad had won the Heisman Trophy for play a lot closer to my home.  I have watched him for years as an actor and have always enjoyed him (fortunately he never went, so far as I know, for French New Wave).  He has been a solid performer through his career and his Lery Jethro Giibs is a wonderful mix of simplicity and its opposites - takes good acting and writing to do that.

And the recipient of the Innocent Gesture was played by Pauley Parrette.  That link is to her IMDB page, which says that like the character she plays, she is trained in forensics.  I'm a tad dubious, so I hope she can correct me, but I have a couple of things on this topic.  The character she plays is an utter delight and a bit of a flake, but very smart and capable.  You would not expect to find her as a centre of forensics analysis.  The person described on her web page is way more like her character than I expected!  And I think this is one fine actress, and expect to see her in a Sharon Stone sort of role some day.  She could be a vamp when a script asked for it. But how she has played her role , the characterization as Gibbs kisses her is exactly an utterly innocent gesture, and just what she wants and he can give.

One silly little scene perhaps in a TV series, but SO many people were behind making me SO enjoy that small moment.  I want every one of them to know how much it meant, and how hard they all worked.  I loved it.

Now as for the rest of the episode - well, damn, I cannot post on every great scene, but this show is full of them.  I think it was the Newhart-McCallum collision that caught me this time.

But McGeek, Tony, Ziva, Vance - please keep up the great work.  (And I did think "I need my inhaler.  I want my Ziva back." was superb.)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 January 2011 13:07

The Ryan Russell memorial

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I kick myself slightly for the simple laziness behind my decision not to go downtown today and at least be one body count in the memorial for Ryan Russell, a Toronto police officer killed last week in the discharge of his duties, and in a witless incident less lethal than that in Tucson of Jared Loughner, but seemingly pretty close in arbitrariness.

I am impressed by the display the police are putting on and they deserve it.  It is simply a matter of Orwell's rough men (hmm I do love Wikipedia in ways I could never love the Britannica - this lets me find out a lot - I do not care what the line is - the fact is I live almost entirely in peace because a LOT of people have the job to protect me, and risk their lives daily to do so.  My only real miseries are snti-Semitism from some brothers.)

What stuns me is that Ryan Russell's wife has agreed to speak.  There is nobody whose courage I am now more impressed by.  Please let us make sure the Toronto Police make sure they have a decent life.


More MLK - Uhura Lived On

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I posted yesterday on Martin Luther King but I learned something today I had not remotely known.  (Or had I, forgotten.)

I never much liked 'Star Trek', but I love the fabulous idea he gave a damn; in fact I bet he thought Nichelle Nichols was a major force for change.  And I suspect she was.  He kept her going.

I thanked him so much and told him how I’d miss it all. He asked what I was talking about, and told me that I can’t leave the show. We talked a long time about what it all meant and what images on television tell us about ourselves.


I went back to Gene and told him what had happened, and that I was staying. He smiled up at me and said, thank god for Dr. Martin Luther King.

Indeed!  (I agree with the VC poster too!)

And let us never fail to realize how he framed the discussion around freedom!


I Was 14 - MLK Day

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Recently I found myself somewhat amusingly engaged with some folk who actually regard Obama as a fine orator.  He's not too bad at times but mostly he is really dull and uninspired, and it seems he has not instructed his speechwriters that fact-checking has value.  Now that latter point is one that really bugs me, and I suspect he is not even concerned that historical accuracy is of importance.

So why don't we go see there is an orator of quality, perhaps disturbingly to modern sensibilities with some almost eliminationist rhetoric - "there will be neither rest nor tranquility" (and a LOT more).  Of course that was the '60s (perhaps just the start).

But Angus reminds me and so I went on.

So I hit YouTube and found a guy who knew what has important and knew how to say it!

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He explains what needs to be fixed (in the 'we cannot be satisfied' section) and in NO uncertain terms! 

If you listen closely almost all of that has been satisfied in an amazingly short time to my mind.  It's now left to the hucksters to make further claims.

I cannot watch this without crying yet againl.  The 'have a dream' section is glorious, and again those goals are largely met.  Almost every thing he dreams of has clearly been achieved.  'The content of their character'!   And listen to the nasty rhetoric in that section! ('From every wolehill of Mississippi - SO good!).  He does not like those Southern governors and lets you know!

Of the various assassinations of the '60s I agree with Rafael Yglesias that this was the worst,

Last Updated on Monday, 17 January 2011 11:04


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Thank you yet again Ann Althouse.

Seems Huffington Post want to make fun of Sarah Palin and family via an edited video of excerpts from her TLC Series.

I agree with Ann!

She comes across as thoroughly lovable.

That you find each moment in life as 'awesome' should be a negative is a pretty sorry comment on your recommendations on how to live it.

This is one sorry bunch of people.   They work so hard at being dour and trying to make the rest of us feel that way too!

Hey - I think this day is awesome!  Sarah - invite me to dinner.  That would be awesome too.  I can pass on a similar experience with Adriana Huffington, who has, I am sure, had some awesomenesses.  At least financially.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 January 2011 15:05

Silly People in Love

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I won't ask how this reporter plans to vote.

h/t Halls of Macadamia who gets this utterly and has to apologize to another aspirant.

Is this the same Michael Ignatieff who left his wife & two young children... to be with the current "love of his life?" ...

Make sure you don't miss the amusing little anecdote told by Iggy's younger brother.

This poor woman can hardly hold herself back:

Never mind that he is a world respected intellectual and political philosopher who has taught at the University of Toronto, Oxford, Harvard and the London School of Economics. Never mind that he studied with and wrote the biography of Isaiah Berlin, one of the 20th century’s most prominent political thinkers who brought rigorous analysis to liberal ideals. He apparently doesn’t want to put Canadians to the test that Americans often and famously fail, confusing intellectual power with elitism. Those who consider decades of analysis of political philosophy, international relations and nation building a more important qualification for Prime Minister than devotion to family need not worry. Ignatieff has both.

Yes he WAS a world-respected intellectual when he could hold unpopular opinions.  My assessment is that that skill is gone, though perhaps as a result of letting it go he will still have to suffer similar adulation in some circles.

Those who consider decades of analysis of political philosophy, international relations and nation building a more important qualification for Prime Minister than devotion to family need not worry. Ignatieff has both.

Let me quickly say I consider all that stuff almost an anti-qualification.

But it is worth looking at bits of the report.

A secondary school student asked how all this would be paid for. Ignatieff disparaged Harper’s proposed reduction of the corporate tax rate from 18% to 16%, stating the rate is already competitive with other jurisdictions and the cut will deprive the budget of money needed for public goods. He affirmed his commitment to reduce the debt which is “chewing through the budget” and the responsibility to pay it down to prevent the burden from falling on other generations.

Wait a sec!  My recollection is that Harper and Flaherty were more or less forced by Ignatieff and the Liberals (not quite his at the point but on the edge of the coup) to decide to run a high deficit.  Hence we have a higher debt.   And hey look!  I am not sure that was a bad idea; the stimulus has sure improved a number of the roads I have to drive on, and is not finished with the task.  But Iggy's take on this does seem a tad odd to me.

A second student asked about the Liberal’s commitment to education. Ignatieff noted this is a primarily a matter of provincial jurisdiction, then stated that he would reinstate the early childhood education programs that were scrapped by the conservatives. He emphasized the importance of foreign and indigenous languages, and reducing student debt loads. “If you make the grades,” he asserted, “we provide the education.” He embraced non-university post secondary education, advocated for adult literacy programs and the importance of student time abroad.

Now I love that.  And I *do* love the idea of lavish funding of foreign-language teaching.  My family lives off that now.  But I find his assertions that the "cost be damned" remarkably at odds with the earlier citation.

He criticized Harper’s decision to buy American F-35s to patrol the newly ice-free arctic north.

Contrafactuals are highly entertaining.

Let me find a point of agreement with the writer:

I’d like to see him drop the folksy touch, put on a great looking suit and trust voters to recognize him as both a Canadian family man and a brilliant public leader reaching the top of his game.

Me too.  This UCC diplomatic family boy, utterly infused with Canadian elite upbringing, looks hilarious at a barbeque,  I don't see how I can ever recognize him as a 'Canadian family man' though, so I will have to disagree with a bit of this 'assessment'. 

And BTW.  Given the name of this blog, I want to say firmly that my Canada clearly includes the writer of this odd piece.

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 January 2011 14:15

What's the Sarah Pailin Thing?

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Why does she upset you so much?  Well, I ask this of you who are upset.  And many seem to be!

I keep trying to get why one would be upset - I do a lot of research and I just do not get it.

Part of the research - I watched all the episodes of 'Sarah Palin's Alaska'.  My summary would be that she is one extremely energetic woman, backed by one very interesting and quiet man, with a bunch of pretty interesting kids, all with their own brains, and that she is a Mom who enjoys their diversity.  Moreover, the surrounding family is an American dream story,  So what is the problem?

It cannot be diversity.  Her family is almost surely far more entertainingly diverse than yours (certainly than mine).  (Watch the TLC series before arguing against this.)

She has a lot of views I do not agree with; I have seen no evidence she wants in any way to force me to believe her views.  In fact I get the idea she would really enjoy engaging and arguing, knowing of course that she has the great advantage of being engaging and attractive.  Seems a good approach to me - one used by Obama in much the same way in his better moments.

So what is it?  I want her to remain a significant public figure.  Why don't you?


The Travesty of Curling

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I loved curling a couple of years ago (as I had had for MANY years - I still magnificently misremember a great shot by Al Hackner in 1985) and a friend and I even engaged in maintaining what we would like to think was a pretty entertaining blog on the topic.

Today I just posted on that blog after neither of us had in many many months?  Why?

I still am not sure but welcome help!


Mark Rudd Emerges in an Interesting Way

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Well, at least in a way that arouses my curiosity.

My problem is that I guess that Mark Rudd is a lot more rational than Jared Loughner.  And yet seems to have learned so little.

Let us start with the simple fact that Mark Rudd did not shoot a whole bunch of people.  Though he does not want us to forget he sort of wanted to once.

I was a founder of the Weather Underground, an offshoot of the antiwar group Students for a Democratic Society. That spring, a small contingent of the Weathermen, as we were known, planned to plant three pipe bombs at a noncommissioned officers' dance at Fort Dix, N.J. Our intention was to remind our fellow Americans that our country was dropping napalm and other explosives on Vietnam, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians. I wasn't among the bombmakers, but I knew what was in the offing, and to my eternal shame, I didn't try to stop it.

The slipperiness comes fast - what did the napalm in Vietnam have to do with his own childish murderous dreams? Nothing, of course. The NCOs and their dates were not manufacturing napalm. Or dropping it anywhere.

I wanted to be a true revolutionary like my guerrilla hero, Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Great choice of role model.  Pick one of the most murderous idiots in recent human history.

As the Weather Underground believed in the absolute necessity of bombs to address actual moral grievances such as the Vietnam War and racism, Loughner might have believed in the absolute necessity of a Glock to answer his imagined moral grievances. Violent actors in this country - whether James Earl Ray, Timothy McVeigh or Scott Roeder, who in 2009 killed a Kansas abortion provider - are always armed not just with weapons, but with the conviction that their grievances demand satisfaction and their violence is righteous.

This is amusing.  Let's forget the Kennedy assassinations, by all evidence in one case a Communist loonie and in the other a Palestinian pissed off about Israel (and of course praised for such by Rudd's Weather Underground buddies).  More fun to cherry-pick.

Then there is this nonsense:

On March 6, 1970, the Weather Underground's bombs, assembled in a New York townhouse, exploded prematurely. Ted Gold, Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins - three brilliant and passionate young people who had decided that they must become terrorists - were killed. Only by their deaths was the greater tragedy we were plotting avoided. Emotionally shattered, I dropped out of the Weather Underground but remained a fugitive until 1977.

Briliant?  They cannot apparently even follow bomb-making instructions.  I will grant that they were young and likely as a result brainlessly passionate.  Brilliant, no.  And nor is even Mark all these years later.

Like me, Loughner - though he's the product of a different era and may have been motivated only by his madness - could have a long time to consider the logic behind his alleged actions. I only hope that he and those families that were destroyed can find peace.

The good thing is Rudd was incompetent enough to have failed to kill anyone except maybe his co-conspirators.  It is his call what his role was.  I would agree that he was the product of a different era - one far more murderous in its rhetoric. 

Stupid young testosterone-driven young guys get all excited about sticking it to the man, and dumb women thinking such guys are cool help out. 

But that was the sixties.

Today is Jared Loughner - and I do not buy a connection other than the stupid testosterone-driven stupid guy.

And Mark Rudd is one of those dummies

These are not nice people.  If you find one of them next to you at a party, either call the police or just run.

UPDATE: (3:15pm Eastern Time)  Glenn Reynolds makes many of the same points much more tersely!

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 January 2011 15:14

Civilizing Discourse

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One of the things I really like about free speech is the degree to which one can have fun with ridicule.

Ann Althouse has suggested lately that we 'civilize' the sort of discourse represented by the Gadsden flag, and reports on some initial results.

The examples she presents most certainly have me giggling.

I loved her original suggestion for new text:

"Tread on me, I'll be your friend, we all need somebody to tread on."

But of course her readers have upped the ante. (Each word has a different link.)

My favorite so far is the Manolo theme:



More on 'Money for Nothing' - Country Looking as Silly As It Ought

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Edmonton Station Defying the 'Ruling'.
Of course I have no idea on what these apparent fools can rule.

But I recommend defiance.

Hmm why is this Alberta and not Ontariio? Pretty easy to figure out who the milquetoasts are in this country.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 15:18

The Economics and Sociology of 'Money for Nothing'

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This post would never have existed but for apparent self-censorship in Canadian Media.

I never paid much attention to the lyrics and now have and they are fascinating.

The Sultans of Swing in this song hit on economic and sociological elements I had no idea they were identifying.

The song is sung from the perspective of some louts watching a rock star on MTV - I have seen suggestions Knopfler says it was actual kitchen installation guys seeing Elton John.  It does not much matter what the exact story is - the story is why should Elton John or Mark Knopfler make so much money?

And similarly why should Microsoft make so much?!

And the answer is of course that you don't make a cent in most of the similar instances without making a ridiculous gamble (or actually, and this is more the point, even when you do make the ridiculous bet.).  You crazily bet that investing hours in practising on the guitar, or at writing code (yeah I know Gates did not really do a ton of that but he made similar gambles).  Or you practise basketball or football or cricket or baseball in a crazy way.  And then a one of many succeeds; I almost wrote that a lottery steps in but that is wrong - Sultans of Swing were better than most of the competition.  Michael Jordan was way better than you are at shooting hoops.  And my bet that is BOTH nature and nurture (the risk part).

And the song is exactly about the rather retarded analysis of the pouring out of benefits; the narrators in this great song don't see the past investment that puts them at such a competitive disadvantage.  And the resentment is palpable, and part of why the original lyrics are so great.

And this despite the fact that Knopfler and crew were the beneficiaries, though I am not sure that was his point; he just saw what the envy meant.

It is also a song from when the 'Superstar' effect exploded, in sports, in media, maybe sadly in finance.

But this is complicated and messy and egalitarian drives are mostly unhelpful, I suspect.

After all, I want my 'Sultans of Sing' , less so my MTV.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 15:23

Somebody Hacked

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And posted this arrant piece of nonsense, pretending it was actually posted by Michelle Obama.

It's unclear to me why Ann Althouse, who sees immediately much that is wrong with this post, fails to identify it as the work of a prankster.

I can certainly understand how someone who holds power would love to turn off the criticism, but that is not the system we have, and it's self-serving for government officials to tell us to inculcate these false beliefs in children.

Self-serving?  An Obama.  Surely never!?

Ann hits this dead-on:

It would make more sense to teach creationism instead of evolution than to teach these wishful lies about government since children need to learn how to be effective citizens and lulling them into passive admiration of the government undermines the democratic process.

Some wishful thinking is silly and slightly damaging.  That prankster's text is deeply damaging.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 14:29

Yup, Silly

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I did not even know we had a national broadcast standards council that could apparently rule on what can be played on radio, but it is hardly a surprise that there is yet some other nanny organization bent on censoring speech in Canada (and this may not even be nanny-state at work - could be the stupid industry just decided to appoint some idiotic nanny).

It was thus with some wonder that I learned yesterday that I cannot now dial into my radio in hopes of hearing the original lyrics of Dire Straits' 'Money for Nothing'.  (As long as I am listening to a Canadian radio station.)

I wasn't really motivated yesterday to post on this idiocy, as the whole country's silliness is just wearing me out.  But, as often happens, Paul Wells wrote some sensible words on this that even made me smile.

His main point is the utter irrelevancy of wasting one's time worrying about what gets out on the radio.

About “Money for Nothing” there may be one last thing worth saying, given this week’s events: it celebrates an earlier breakthrough in the mass popularization of pop culture — MTV in its first, almost-all-video format. It’s a song about a world in which anyone, even a lout, has access to the latest bits of pop-culture flotsam; all he has to do is turn on MTV.

The world today provides vastly more lines into the cultural archives than that world did. A regulatory agency designed for that lost world cannot hope to stop the flood today.

Commenter Doug Rutherf9rd makes a great point - the apparently brilliant mind that submitted the original complaint, and the geniuses who sit on this rather seemingly dim council clearly do not even understand the art they are listening to.

I find it odd that the song is banned for the use of a word whose context in the song is mocking people who would use the term, not the individuals associated with it.
Art involves symbolism and context and the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council sadly doesn't seem to be aware of this fact.

Who is 'the little faggot' in the original lyrics; it's someone like the members of Dire Straits and they knew it. 

I don't think the blindness of the 'council' to this simple fact should really be very surprising.  What sort of people would I expect to be willing to sit on such a council?  Their website is an embarrassment.

The good thing is they are 'mostly harmless'.

(As a point of context - it is also clear that Dire Straits themselves appear not to sing the original lyrics in many public performances.)

Here's the rather amusing original on YouTube.

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I am not sure I ever really got the lyrics except for hearing about microwaves and color TVs.  What is entrancing is the sheer great musicality.

And here is a bowdlerized version (it DOES matter that they are the bowdlerizers here, not some stupid self-proclaimed bunch of experts):

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The musicality is also stunning: their sheer professionalism is a wonder to watch and hear.

I will never forget the first time I heard 'Sultans of Swing' on the radio while driving; I had to pull over.  The only other case of that was the end of 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light'.

Last Updated on Friday, 14 January 2011 13:24

Krugman Stuns

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Lately, especially, he has been hopeless, especially when he tries to deal with the likes of Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann.

But WOW WOW WOW! does he ever do a great job explaining the problem with the Euro in this essay in the NY Times.

This is a truly GREAT essay.  He points out clearly how skeptical many were about the Euro project, and he is SO right about why this was a great project, an attempt to do some things that were SO right, but all the while NOT paying attention to the great inherent problems.  A Greek tragedy indeed.


And Where has Jeremy Irons Been?

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As it turns out, in a Law and Order SVU episode last night.

US TV can really be amazing.  That was one very rough episode, and Irons was excellent.


"I Know You Can Say No." "Can I?." "No"

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It is so nice to have The Good Wife episodes back.  And I was just ludicrously impressed by the first episode after the New Year's Break.

The title ('The Breakup') made we think we'd see a lot of Peter; and we did not see him at all.  (He is in the midst of a campaign.)

Far more important and interesting breakups were at issue, and Alicia was deeply in the middle of all of them.

Great job by Julianna Margulies, well, and by the whole damned cast.  Moreover, we had Leelee Sobieski!  I have long wondered what had happened to her.  So pleased to see her in action.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 January 2011 12:32

How Much Richer Am I Than My Forebears?

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Measuring the answer to this question in $ numbers is of course important.

But it is easy to miss some very small things.

I like being moved in positive ways.  The means for that were quite different as little as ten years ago.

Now I can enjoy and blubber to this:

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What is it that moves me in positive ways?  The sight of brave little kid who is failed by technology at a key moment, but then supported by a whole bunch of people who had no particular reason to step in and support her.

For me to even know about this perhaps as little as ten years ago, we'd need a reporter to have been there.  And likely not just for some local paper.  I'd have depended on the various news bureaus.  I do not today.  Some neighbor can easily make me aware of this!  Man that is so not zero-sum!


Yet More on Vitriol!

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What Short Memories We Have! Roger Simon reminds us, with a lot of justification, about some of the crap that some of us left behind.  The Sixties Actually Happened!

Moreover, a lot of what has seemed idiotic commentary this week has poured out of people whose heads were, so to speak, 'formed' by hte Sixties, or by the corrupted brains that came out of that area into academia.

The most radical of us were acting out our hidden dreams for the rest. We condemned them occasionally and ritually, but rarely vehemently. The Weather Underground and even later the execrable Symbionese Liberation Army were never treated in the press with quite the opprobrium they now reserve for the tea party movement. As Baudelaire put it, “Mon semblable, mon frère.” The worst of the radical left were just like the rest of us, but with a little extra edge.

Now, as we all know, everything is reversed. The right wing is the supposed source of all violence and violent rhetoric. Of course, we know that’s not true and of course there hasn’t been any real right-wing violence, none whatsoever associated with the tea party movement. It’s all a charade.

And Roger hits it right on here:

But a good percentage — as this past few days have demonstrated as never before — are genuinely convinced they are surrounded by a bloodthirsty mob of semi-illiterate rednecks out to polarize the country.

This is one of the more clearcut demonstrations of mass projection I have seen in my lifetime.

But please let us not go back to the lefty Weather folk and SLA actually killing people.  It's way better just suffering moronic rants from CBC reporters and Keith Olbermann.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 January 2011 11:50

More on Sarah Palin's Alaska

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Big Hollywood steps up and Lorie Byrd does what I think is a great summary review.

In addition to seeing what an incredible woman Sarah Palin is, we were introduced to some amazing characters.  Her daughter Piper was a constant companion of Sarah’s in the show.  She is beyond adorable, says all the things a smart-as-a-whip witty little girl would say, and makes lots of funny faces.  We see a lot of her husband Todd who is a hunky, smart companion to Sarah Palin.

Sarah’s dad, 72-year-old Chuck Heath, was my favorite though.  This man is ready for his close up.  Seriously, someone needs to give him a show of his own.  In Sunday night’s episode we were introduced to the musk ox, which Chuck Heath explained are prehistoric animals that survived when many others didn’t.  He was featured in many of the episodes and was constantly providing interesting tidbits of information.  He is a retired teacher who is something of an expert on Alaskan wildlife and his passion for the subject is evident.

I pointed out in several single episode reviews that Chuck Heath is really a great force; I suspect that given a few more hours with Kate Gosselin's kids he would have had them signing up as Palins Heaths, whatever Mom's threats.  (Chuck Heath really reminds me of my father-in-law.)  Lorie, like me, is also a major fan of Piper, and I must say I just got more impressed with Todd as the series went on (I agree somewhat abstractly that he could be considered hunky, and he is unquestionably smart, and I love his quiet style - it makes them quite a pair).

And I buy Lorie's view on what we saw of Alaska:

The real star of the show though was the state of Alaska and the people who live and work there.  In one episode, Sarah refers to herself as the Cliff Clavin of Alaska because she recites so many facts about the state.  In addition to the information we are given by Palin, Heath and many others, we see the beauty of the state, both in the scenery and in the people we meet.

I love commenter srhoades':

Todd earned my undying respect during the infamous Kate Gosslin episode. Rather than listen to the constant complaining and griping, he found an out of the way spot to fish and stayed there till the "diva" (as Sarah would say) was gone. Undoubtedly because he knew if he stuck around he'd end up saying something that would not set well on national television.

I really loved that theme; Sarah quite amusingly kept pressing him, and apparently making fun of his persistence at his unsuccessful fishing.  As the commenter says, there might have been more behind his decision than simply really wanting to catch a fish.  They make a fascinating couple, both ready to run big risks, and he is clearly one solid base of that partnership.


Oh the Vitriol!

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I don't get it.  There must be some really good blind eyes.

The political language in the US is centered on repealing some poorly understood and formulated bills.  And our press is all concerned about the tone of the discussion?

When Pakistan is fucked beyond what should be human belief, and the once attractive Tunisia seems to want to dive into the slough of despond.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2011 16:15

Is Cold-FX Good for Anything?

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I must say it is sweet to see Joannie Rochette and Clara Hughes snorting their Cold-FX, and it was also sweet watching CBC documentaries on the woman who promoted this product into prominence, but I still wonder; is there ANY evidence anywhere the potion is useful for anything?  I certainly know of none.

I am pretty sure Echinacea is useless, according to all evidence I have seen.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 January 2011 16:02
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