URLs du Jour (6/30/2005)

  • Peggy Noonan is in great form in her latest WSJ column.

    Not to pick on Senator Obama (still the smarter senator from Illinois), but:

    This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

    Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for. Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

    Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

    You see the similarities.

    Ouch. Read the whole thing if you want to get more than a little bemused about the swelled heads found inside the Beltway.

  • A hero of mine, Thomas Sowell, is 75 years old today. He reflects here. He concludes on a note of optimism:

    There is much to complain about today and to fear for the future of our children and our country. But despair? Not yet.

    We have all come through too much for that.

  • Think your state has the most disgusting perverts in America? My friend, if you're not from New Hampshire, then the only question is whether you're in second place or not.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:55 AM EDT

URL du Jour (6/29/2005)

Will Wilkinson has noticed a common theme in recent silly utterances by Senator Barack Obama (the smarter senator from Illinois) and Benjamin Barber (U of MD prof): Republican proposals on Social Security are meant to implement Social Darwinism (eek!) and/or state-of-nature anarchy (aieeee!). Will comments:

[T]hese are signs of the sickness at the heart of contemporary liberalism: the inability or unwillingness to recognize the cooperative market order -- our system of mutual benefit based on ownership and exchange -- as the primary source of American prosperity, security, and solidarity.

Good stuff. Democrats would be taking a big step forward if they'd shake off their musty socialistic sentiments. Will's blog The Fly Bottle is a daily stop for me.

The iPod Shuffle: A Paean

[Amazon Link]

This wonderful little device was a Father's Day present from the Salad kids. I've only recently outgrown thinking of "Apple Computer" as synonymous with "overpriced proprietary crap". But this beast, while (mostly) proprietary, is not out of line pricewise with other flash players, and is not crap. Sound is fine to my ancient ears.

I plunked down for a $15 tape cassete adaptor at Best Buy, and that makes it sound great in my car too. (There's a little clickety-clack noise from the casette mechanism itself, which is too bad, but what the heck, that's why we have a volume control: drown it out.) I haven't listened to the radio in my car for over a week now.

It holds about 17.7 hours of music each time I fill it up at the laptop. (I previously, and fortuitously, used iTunes just as a CD ripper/music player there, so I had already accumulated about 4 Gig of music.)

And when I plugged it in to the USB port on the laptop, it Just Worked. I love it when things Just Work. (Well, I kind of like it when things don't Just Work, too, because I enjoy futzing with it. Assuming that futzing is effective. Assuming it's not: Just Doesn't Work.)

And I am totally married to shuffling (you don't have to shuffle, but I've not done anything else); there's something sweet about a Jimmy Webb ballad being followed immediately by "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who. I don't think I'd ever find a radio station that does that; and of course, now I don't have to.

Bless those little urchins. They don't have to get me anything for Father's Day ever again.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:51 AM EDT

All the Flowers Are Dying

[Amazon Link]

This is the latest Matt Scudder novel from Lawrence Block. I'm a longtime fan of both the author and this series, so it was a must. It's very "gritty" with quite a bit of violence, including sexual violence, including pedophilic sexual violence, explicitly described from the perpetrator's POV. So: not recommended if that's going to put you off your feed; it seems more graphic in this regard than previous Scudders but I might be just getting old and easily shocked. And it builds to an unusually harrowing climax.

Just to show you how much I'm into the series: I worry sometimes whether enough crap will fall on Scudder to make him start drinking again. (Hey, maybe that happens in this book. I'm not going to spoil it for you.)

And Scudder, I think, is probably the best fictional detective in the business, amazingly diligent at picking up clues and following them to the bad guy when nobody else can. I swear, Matt could find Osama if they put him on the case. And if Matt weren't, um, fictional.

For what it's worth: I picked out the bad guy right away, once an important clue was provided. You can too, if you pay attention.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:51 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/28/2005)

  • 'God Bless You, Dude.' Go read.
  • Unconvinced that Paul Krugman has completely devolved from economist to demagogic partisan hack? This post by Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution might do the trick.

    Paul Krugman used to be a liberal economist; no longer. His abandonment of economics has long been plain, Krugman's abandonment of liberalism was announced in yesterday's commentary on China.
  • And yet another Kelo-related URL: heh. (Via Hit & Run.) UPDATE: Glenn agrees: heh.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:56 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/27/2005)

  • The Smartest Woman in the World has a belated but very good post on Kelo. Go read it if (a) you're at all interested, or (b) even if you're not.
  • Via the Corner: a pungent complaint to Continental Airlines. I, for one, will avoid seat 29E in the future.
  • Incoming this morning: A couple of less-than-coherent opinions from the Supreme Court making the rules about displaying of religion-related objects in, on, or around state property as clear as, well, mud. Best coverage as I type seems to be from my belle, Michelle, with lots of links and who quotes John Podhoretz:

    Why didn't the Supremes just say you could display the 10 Cs on Monday, Wed, and alternate Fridays, but not on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Or that they could be viewed inside government buildings, but only on the walls of bathrooms and in janitors' closets? Has anybody ever advanced this radical opinion -- that the five justices in question may be intelligent and thoughtful people individually, but that together they form one blithering idiot?

    Thoughtful thoughts from legal beagles, pro and con, may be found at SCOTUSBlog. Also see Prof Althouse, who explains why these decisions will kind of act like a full-employment act for judges up and down the line for years to come: nothing is settled except for the way these particular justices ruled in these particular cases.

  • Jay Nordlinger, among other things, notes what he terms a "weird headline" in the NYT: "An Unborn Fetus With a Message for Mom."

    Unborn fetus. My gosh, has it gotten that bad? I know the Times can't say "unborn child" (which is what a fetus is). But now they can't even say "fetus" — it has to be "unborn fetus."

    First I googled the phrase "unborn fetus": 31,500 hits, so it's not that uncommon a phraseology, but I agree that it's oddly grating. Unfortunately, the search results don't clearly indicate what, if anything, the writers of the phrase are attempting to communicate by prepending the seemingly-redundant adjective.

    But then I looked at the NYT article itself. And things got even weirder. Because the brief paragraph to which the headline refers is:

    On a new single, this fresh-faced rapper and actor rushes in where Hallmark fears to tread. Maybe you can't buy a greeting card to thank your mother for not aborting you, but now there's a hip-hop track expressing that very sentiment. Visit www.nickcannonmusic.com to hear "Can I Live," which has a chorus by the winsome soul singer Anthony Hamilton, and to watch the video. (Beginning with protesters outside an abortion clinic, it stars Tatyana Ali as the pregnant protagonist.) "I know the situation is personal," Mr. Cannon declares at the beginning, perhaps understating the case. He is no one's idea of a brilliant rhyme-spitter, but sometimes content trumps form, as when he rewinds to his very early years - as a fetus - to declare, "Mommy, I don't like this clinic/Hopefully you'll make the right decision/And don't go through with the knife decision." There should be a special Grammy reserved for the first politician (on either side of the aisle) who finds a way to appropriate this strange but not unmoving song. And Mr. Cannon deserves recognition, too, for finding a truly startling way to express a rather simple thought: he's happy to be alive.

    I wouldn't have expected to see something this pro-life appear in the NYT. And check the song; I'm not a rap fan at all, but I was impressed.

    (Note the critic says the song is "not unmoving", which brings to mind Orwell's parody: "A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit across a not ungreen field.")


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:59 AM EDT

The Aviator

[Amazon Link] [4.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

I liked this movie a lot. I'm not a huge fan of biographical epics, but I guess when you throw enough directorial talent, acting talent, sharp screenwriting, and special effects up on the screen, you're going to get something watchable. And this long movie just flew by (heh).

No surprise that this movie was nominated for 11 Oscars, and won 5. Cate Blanchett won for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn, richly deserved.

The movie's unexpectedly funny in spots; don't know if Howard Hughes had much of a sense of humor in reality, but the folks who made the movie definitely did.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:50 AM EDT

I ♥ Huckabees

[Amazon Link] [3.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

This movie answers questions that have pestered the great minds for years. Mainly this one, though: I wonder what Isabelle Huppert looks like these days? Answer: she looks OK. So do Lily Tomlin and Naomi Watts. Oh, and I almost forgot: Tippi Hedren.

And Tippi Hedren says a Bad Word, as does Naomi Watts.

Other than that … the movie made me laugh every so often throughout, but (maybe I'm showing my geezerhood here) it's really just an onslaught of not-particularly-coherent bizarreness. And the characters weren't particularly interesting enough for me to care whether they got their act together, and loopy enough to make me think that they wouldn't know a philosophical insight if one hit them in the face with a frying pan.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:50 AM EDT

I Took an Online Test and …

Your IQ Is 140
[IQ Img]
Your Logical Intelligence is Genius
Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius
Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius
Your General Knowledge is Genius

A Quick and Dirty IQ Test

Cower before my mighty intellect!


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:01 PM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/24/2005)

  • Via Constrained Katie: Quietly without much notice The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form has accumulated (as I type) 15029 word definitions in limerick form. A sample limerick definition for "bat":

    A bat is a mammal that's small,
    Flies at night with a sonar-like call.
    Like a rat or a mouse,
    If there's one in the house,
    I am not very happy at all.

    Threat or menace?

  • Jacob Sullum has no problem with brutal honesty when it comes to government spending on "public" broadcasting. Reporting Senator Schumer's idiotic "Don't starve Big Bird" cry, Sullum notes:

    As the father of a 2-year-old, I see Sesame Street almost every day, and I've noticed something Markey hasn't: Big Bird could stand to lose a few pounds.

    Good point; Bird (his closest friends call him "Bird") didn't get that pear shape by sticking to birdseed.

  • Via Geek Press, explanations (here and here) for my excessive salivating … no, that's not what it explains. It explains something, OK? I call for full funding of this research.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:02 PM EDT

Apologies

Just for the record, if you say something stupid and false in public, the correct tone of an apology is this: "I said something stupid and false. Thank you for pointing it out. I'm humbly sorry, and will try to do better in the future." Use alternate wording, if you want. Embellish with explanations and (perhaps) excuses, if you want. You may grit your teeth while you are uttering your apology, if you want. But if you include those basic ideas, you will be making a real, and at least semi-gracious, apology.

Note that phraseology like "I'm sorry if people were offended" or "I made a poor choice of words to express myself" or "I never intended to say … " are the trademarks of a weasel: someone who wants to sound as if they're apologizing but lacks the spine to either stand by their original words, or to disavow them.

And if, during your "apology", you spend any time at all attacking the people that publicized your stupid and false remarks, you get major points off. Because that strongly implies that what you're really saying is "I'm sorry … that I got caught."

Similarly bad form: trying the "My words were taken out of context" or "misconstrued" excuse. You're pointing fingers elsewhere at the stupid lying people who just didn't (or didn't want to) "get it". If people misunderstood, or were misled about, what you said, fine: you're standing by your words and you don't need to apologize. Good luck with that. But if you're apologizing, don't waste time blabbing about context or understanding. It's your fault, and you need to clearly admit that without mitigation or obfuscation.

And finally, attempting to stonewall and delay usually doesn't help. Get it over with ASAP.

I realize that for most normal people, this is all just belaboring the obvious.

But I am, like most normal people, neither a Senator, nor the president of a union, nor a leading executive of a major corporation. And I assume one wouldn't make it to any of those positions without a large helping of ego: "I can do this job, and better than my competitors." So it's probably understandable that people in those positions would have a harder time with apologies than less exalted folk.

Let's look at recent apology hall-of-shame examples:

  • Senator Richard ("Dick") Durbin (D-Illinois). Made a speech where he likened the Guantanamo Bay prison camp to the behavior of the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge, and the Soviets. See Mark Steyn for eloquent comments on that. And that's just one example of the pointed commentary on the Senator's idiotic and disgraceful comparisons. The only thing more sobering than Durbin's remarks is that only a few of his fellow Dems were willing to rebuke him for making them. Nevertheless, when Chicago's Mayor Daley and the ADL weighed in with negative reactions, apparently Durbin decided he could no longer "stand by his remarks".

    An AP story reporting Durbin's apology on the Senate floor is here. It was widely derided as a non-apology of the "sorry … if you were offended" variety. I won't presume to offer further analysis than the charitable Dr. Shackleford here or the less charitable Ms. Malkin (here) and Mr. Hewitt (here). (Also see their links.) I'll give Durbin a C-, because he cried during his apology; I'm a sucker for that.

  • Linda Foley, president of the Newspaper Guild. Made a speech where she asserted that the US military had deliberately killed journalists in Iraq. No evidence provided was provided for this slander, of course. This prompted Hiawatha Bray (a Newspaper Guild member) to set up a special-purpose blog to hold Foley's feet to the fire on this issue. (He links to a video of Foley's remarks as a well as a transcript.) Also see the Foley Gate blog.

    Foley's effort at apology is here. Her headline is "Confronting right-wing hysteria", so you can tell this is going to be a blame-others effort. (Sure, she makes wild charges without proof—but it's everyone else who's hysterical.) Entertaining apology analysis from Ginny at Chicago Boyz here. Foley gets a mercy D. Blame grade inflation.

  • Indra Nooyi, President and CFO of PepsiCo. Gave a graduation speech at Columbia Business School where she likened the USA to the middle finger of one's hand (you can read that here, strongly implying that the US was guilty of giving the half-a-peace-sign salute to the rest of the world. Samples of the outraged post-speech analysis: Roger Kimball of The New Criterion and Scott "Power Line" Johnson at the Weekly Standard.

    Nooyi's effort at apology is here. Devastating analysis of that "apology" can be found at Power Line. Nooyi gets a B-.

Left as exercises for the reader: Dan Rather, Eason Jordan, Howard Dean, Amnesty International, …

And perhaps the most eloquent point on this topic was made by Joel Achenbach:

We live in an apology culture; unless you say something that later will require an apology you won't be heard to begin with. [A personal note: I would like to apologize for comparing Guantanamo Bay to Chesapeake Bay. That was a huge exaggeration.]

Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:03 PM EDT

Takings

I can blog easily when I'm mad; I can blog easily when amused. I find it difficult to blog when I'm just depressed. And I'm extremely depressed by the Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. New London.

But not too surprised. The deep-thinking liberal Supremes are habituated to spinning grand rhetorical threads to create new "rights" not mentioned in the Constitution. And, of course, they can equally spin on the other side, denying rights that are plainly mentioned in the Constitution, as in this case and McConnell v. FEC.

Simply speaking, the Court had its chance to rule in favor of the Constitution—and declined.

I'm not a lawyer, of course, let alone a Constitutional scholar. But I fantasize that if I should ever accidentally meet any one of Justice Stevens, Breyer, Kennedy, Souter, or Ginsburg, I would this down in big block letters on a piece of paper:

… nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

and ask: "Now, what exactly about this do you not understand? Do you think that word 'public' is in there for no reason whatsoever?"

Sigh. Good links: You can buy Takings by Richard Epstein from Amazon here. George Will is suitably acerbic. The Bear has a topic page on Kelo here with an astounding number of links. A little bit of clicking thereon might make you more depressed than I. (But I'm very depressed.)

URLs du Jour (6/22/2005)

  • I used to have a Vanilla Fudge album (this one, to be specific); in fact, I may still have it somewhere in the dusty lower bookshelf where all my old vinyl lives. When I saw they were coming to one of our local concert venues, I asked myself: Are those guys all still alive? Amusingly, a couple days later I read Shawn Macomber's interview with Fudge's drummer, Carmine Appice:

    "Are you guys all still alive?" the manager interrupted, according [to] Appice.

    I guess that's the question that spontaneously pops into one's head, if one is Of A Certain Age.

  • You don't have to be particularly sane to file a lawsuit. (Via Linux Weekly News.)
  • The sharp-eyed Minuteman points out yet another case where NYT readers "in the cocoon" miss out on relevant information in an important story.
  • OK, so Slate is usually just full of snarky leftist crap, but every so often comes a gem like this:

    In line to get my badge for this year's skeptics conference in Pasadena, Calif., I recognized the little man standing behind me. He was bald, with a full, white beard, and he looked older than I would have imagined. "Excuse me," he said, "is this the line for the skeptics meeting?" When I nodded, he looked me up and down and replied, "Oh, I doubt that."

    The article is an interesting brief history of modern skepticism, and even though it doesn't quite live up to that opening paragraph (what could?), it's still quite good.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:13 PM EDT

After the Sunset

[Amazon Link] [2.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

Can't give even an "OK" three stars if I fall asleep during a movie, sorry. It's one of them heist caper movies, overlaid with conflict between Woody Harrelson's perpetually-outwitted FBI agent, Pierce Brosnan's suave thief, and Salma Hayek as his girlfriend/partner in crime. Don Cheadle is a Bahamian gangster, who complicates things. Naomie Harris plays a Bahamian cop, ditto.

And the location was where we spent our Bahamian vacation; somehow the characters managed to avoid the unwashed masses during their vacation. Gotta check that out.

No surprise: Salma is incredibly easy to look at. Kind of a surprise: Pierce Brosnan and Woody Harrelson have more chemistry than do Pierce and Salma; they have some genuinely funny scenes together.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:52 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/20/2005)

  • Reports ABC News:

    An 11-year-old Queens, N.Y., student and her family are demanding that 200 yearbooks be recalled because they are unhappy with the sixth-grader's unattractive photo.

    Mom claims that the "the embarrassing image will haunt Asheasa for the rest of her life."

    However, now the image is on the ABC site for the Whole Wide World to see. And (it appears from the story) the kid was apparently also dragged onto ABC's Good Morning America. I'd think that would ratchet the embarrasment up a couple orders of magnitude, wouldn't you? Gee, thanks Mom. (Via Joanne Jacobs.)

    UPDATE: Dave Barry has also noticed this. So you can compare me trying to be funny with Dave actually being funny on the same topic. It's humbling.

  • The MinuteMan points out that NYT readers are in the confusing position of (a) seeing their paper report on various Democrats denouncing anti-Semitic comments and literature at one of their recent gatherings; but (b) not knowing that such comments/literature existed in the first place, since the NYT failed to report on them. How very Orwellian!
  • Via Dynamic Girl, a whole bunch of really cool pictures from science.
  • Best of the Web Today is unusually good, er, today. If you don't read it regularly, check it out.

Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:14 PM EDT

Appaloosa

[Amazon Link]

This new book by Robert B. Parker is a western. I'm a Parker fan, but not particularly a fan of this genre.

At first I was slightly worried that the protagonists here would be clones of Spenser and Hawk; this turned out to not be a problem. Virgil Cole and his sidekick Everett (the narrator) are gunmen specializing in bringing order to lawless towns. Unfortunately in the small mining town of Appaloosa, they come close to meeting their match in a ruthless bad guy named Bragg. Complicating things somewhat is Allie, an untalented piano player with whom Cole falls in love. Unfortunately, her character is flawed enough that even the whores look down on her.

Like most Parker books, the reading is smooth and easy. And this was a welcome departure from his usual characters.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:54 AM EDT

Flight of the Phoenix

[Amazon Link] [3.0 stars] [IMDb Link]

I must admit I haven't seen the 1965 original. Story in a nutshell is: plane crashes in the desert; the survivors discover that the only way to save themselves is to build a smaller plane out of the wreckage and fly out.

This version is OK. Dennis Quaid's performance as the prideful pilot is OK. Hugh Laurie is better than OK. Giovanni Ribisi is near-unrecognizable as the unlikeable aircraft designer with a Secret (which, once revealed, is pretty funny, but his co-passengers are understandably peeved).

Special effects, including a harrowing airplane crash in a sandstorm, are pretty good. I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to see this, but it's not bad if it's the only thing at the video store.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:54 AM EDT

I Took An Online Quiz And …

[2012 Update: The "What military aircraft are you?" said I was an F-15. Sure, why not. But I gave up on trying to make the "results" HTML5-compliant. The quiz, should you want to take it is here.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:21 PM EDT

URL Du Jour (6/18/2005)

So I know you, every so often, look at Katie Couric and wonder: how did we get here, she and I; she, making gazillions of dollars; I, sitting on the couch, somehow indirectly kicking into that cash flow. Well, you can find the answer to that question, like so many others, on the World Wide Web.

URL Du Jour (6/17/2005)

If you're like me, all you need to know is: Neal Stephenson writes about Star Wars.

Assault on Precinct 13

[Amazon Link] [2.5 stars] [IMDb Link]

Not dreadful, but this story of a bunch of bad guys trying to break into a near-defunct police station on New Year's Eve 2004 is kind of predictable. And it strains credibility to think that the bad guys, given their resources, manpower, and skills, would not be able to overcome the good guys who have a (again, predictable) traitor in their midst.

Random observations: (1) Ethan Hawke is getting typecast as a cop. (2) It's nice to see Brian Dennehy again. (3) Joey Tribbiani's sister plays a slutty secretary; this somehow does not strain credibility. (4) I liked these lines:

Cop: Your eyes are red. You been smokin' crack?

Criminal: Your eyes are glazed. You been eatin' donuts?


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:53 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/15/2005)

  • In my job, I've been involved in writing, commenting on, and enforcing "Acceptable Use Policies" for UNH computers. Without naming names, I would hope that anyone blithely prohibiting "unauthorized access" in such documents, as if that phrase meant something, would read this paper by Orin Kerr. Key quote from abstract:

    No one knows what it means to access a computer, however, nor when access becomes unauthorized. The few courts that have construed these terms have offered divergent interpretations, and no scholars have yet addressed the problem.

    (Via Bruce Schneier.)

  • Will Wilkinson shows how incoherent the "Social Security is insurance" position is.

    Anyway, what is it that we're doing with "our" money? Well, we're sending over 90% of it back to the same income bracket from whence it came, that's what! Now why would we be doing that if what we wanted to be doing was "protecting the unlucky against immiseration in old age"? (Not to sustain the illusion that our payroll taxes do in fact belong to us as individuals, for sure!) I mean, wouldn't it be silly to pretend to "insure" people by taking money away from them (thereby increasing their exposure to risk!), and then simply replacing it later? That sure would be silly! Schwartz gestures toward the redistributive function of the program, but . . . there is almost no redistribution! And . . . it isn't progressive!


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:22 PM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/14/2005)

  • Don't care about Michael Jackson? Neither do I, but nevertheless, Mr. Sun has insightful comments on Nancy Grace, CNN legal analyst.

    How can CNN sleep at night? She mocks the jurors with Napoleon Dynamite sighs, interrupts the foreman with rude accusations, and completely abandons any pretense of impartiality.

    Good question.

  • Mickey Kaus reality-checks a story headlined in the Huffington Post as "More U.S. Kids Going Hungry While 2/3 Of Population Is Overweight"

    But if you read the story all the way through, it turns out that the kids aren't going hungry. They're malnourished, which is not the same thing (and not unrelated to obesity)

    Shocking, ain't it? Lefties actually distorting a study's results. I haven't seen that happen before. Well, not for a couple days now. But I haven't been paying that much attention.

  • Both the MinuteMan and Betsy Newmark point to this welcome article from Bjørn Lomborg on recent "scientific" alarums on global warming from politicized science academies. Key paragraphs:

    They do not tell us that even if all the industrial nations agreed to the cuts (about 30pc from what would otherwise have been by 2010), and stuck to them all through the century, the impact would simply be to postpone warming by about six years beyond 2100. The unfortunate peasant in Bangladesh will find that his house floods in 2106 instead.

    Moreover, they should also tell what they expect the cost of the Kyoto Protocol to be. That may not come easy to natural scientists, but there is plenty of literature on the subject, and the best guess is that the cost of doing a very little good for the third world 100 years from now would be $150billion per year for the rest of this century.

    Unfortunately, it's tough to fight against this kind of politicized science; as Lomborg discovered, you get smeared when you dissent from orthodoxy.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:23 PM EDT

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Jim Carrey is funny to watch, as always. Meryl Streep is also funny. Jennifer Coolidge is almost unrecognizable, and (as we see from the DVD extras) her funniest scene was cut. Also here are Jude Law (in narration and silhouette), Craig Ferguson, Jane Addams, Luiz Guzman, Catherine O'Hara, Cedric the Entertainer, and Dustin Hoffman (in an uncredited cameo, also with his funniest scenes deleted). And the look of the movie is interesting, the special effects are great.

But: I guess I don't really get the appeal of a PG-rated movie that deals in serial murder.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:53 AM EDT

In Good Company

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

A comedy with likeable, believable characters, refreshingly free of caricature and cliché. Dennis Quaid and Topher Grace turn in funny and nuanced performances. Scarlett Johansson remains incredibly easy to look at.

Ebert (surprisingly) gets it right when he dubs it: "a feel-good movie about big business. It's about a corporate culture that tries to be evil and fails."


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:54 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/11/2005)

  • Via Geek Press, you should go over to Bathsheba Grossman's website. Not only because she has a cool name, but also because she makes incredibly beautiful geeky art that's probably way out of my price range.
  • In keeping with the Supreme Court emphasis of the last few days, please check Jonathan V. Last's post on Galley Slaves entitled "The Comic Genius of Antonin Scalia." No spoilers here, just go. My current ideal SC lineup: three Clarence Thomas clones, three Scalia clones, and three Janice Rogers Brown clones.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:23 PM EDT

URL du Jour (6/9/2005)

  • Saith Julian Sanchez at Reason's Hit and Run blog:

    People for the American Way have compiled a list of [Janice Rogers Brown] quotes that are supposed to show how awful and extreme and nuts she is. They tend to make me think she sorta kicks ass.

    Indeed!


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:24 PM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/8/2005)

  • Anyone who doubts that Instapundit is The One and True Blogfather should check him out today (June 8, 2005, if you're not reading this then). All-knowing, all-seeing, all-blogging, all the time. I've only been doing this stuff for a few months, but some days I just feel like pointing to Glenn and saying "Me too". Today, I'm giving in to the temptation. No, he doesn't need the plug, but I'm in awe.
  • If you're not overdosed on Raich commentary, this is the best one today: Matt Welch at Reason.
  • I took an online test, and…

    [Quiz Result!]

    [A clever and funny quiz. Not sure if I'm proud/ashamed I didn't score higher/lower.]

  • Quote du jour, via Prof Bainbridge: "Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism--the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young."


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:27 PM EDT

unh never learns

Less than a year after its last widely-publicized foolishness in trying to punish free expression, UNH (aka "my employer") is now trying do something about the Authentic Durham website. Because, apparently, it also answers to the URL www.unhdrunks.com.

As you might guess without even looking, the website enthusiastically embraces and publicizes a substance-fueled party-hearty collegiate lifestyle that UNH would really like to disown.

The story in our local paper is here. UNH claims the site "violates tradmarks owned by the University." And UNH demands "all university marks, such as its name, logos and slogans, be removed from the site"

My immediate thought: we have UNH slogans? What are they?

I didn't look very hard, but browsing the site doesn't turn up anything that could confuse anyone into thinking it's a UNH site. There may be some pictures of inebriated boys and girls wearing, or barfing on, UNH-logoed sweatshirts. (I didn't see them, but it's a reasonable guess.) There is liberal use of the terms "UNH" and "University of New Hampshire", but really, anyone can put those words on their website when referring to Our Institution. (Er, can't they?)

Apparently the major sticking point is the "UNHDrunks.com" domain because it contains those three magic letters "UNH".

It's unknown whether UNH administration will be going after The Unh! Project, United Health Group, or the University of New Haven next.

I Am Not A Lawyer, But: you can search for trademarks here. Searching for "MIT", "UVM", or "RPI" will show that those respective Universities have registered those strings. Search for "UNH" and you get hits for only "UNHLATEX" and "UNH FLOATRACK" (honest). ("University of New Hampshire" gives a hit.)

Goodness knows what will happen next. The folks at "Authentic Durham" seem reasonably defiant. And UNH administration has a proud history of getting things wrong in this area. (In addition to the link above, see here, or here, or here.) Could be be fun to watch.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:28 PM EDT

Kerry: Twit or Moron?

Recently-released records show that John Kerry was (and probably still is) kind of a dim bulb. Soxblog says: told ya so. Ann Althouse agrees.

My Two Cents: Medical Marijuana

A lot of blogospheric energy over the past few days has been aimed at the Supreme Court's 6-3 decision in Gonzales v. Raich, which (you may have heard) upheld the federal government's authority to prosecute medical-marijuana smokers, even in states where that's legal.

Good commentary:

But I feel about medical exceptions to the marijuana laws much the same as I do about internet exceptions to campaign finance laws. Both are distractions from the real issue.

To wit: There shouldn't be an "internet exception" to campaign finance rules; instead, the whole concept of campaign finance regulation should be offensive to a society that values free expression.

Similarly, there shouldn't be a medical exception to the drug laws. The whole notion of drug prohibition—especially on the federal level—should have no place in a free society.

People that raise their voices about these issues only when their own oxen are being gored don't impress me much. (Even if their oxen have glaucoma.) Nor do I have a high opinion of using such "exceptions" as a foot-in-the-door tactic for possible broader reform later. Be honest: argue for what you really want.

But that's probably why I'm not much of a politician.

That said, the decision was disappointing but not very surprising. Wish Scalia had been on the other side. (I used to hope for 9 Scalias on the Court. Now I wish for 5 Thomases and 4 Scalias.)

And, if I had to find a bright ray of hope in the muck that is the Supremes' decision, it's that the Court clearly tossed the ball into Congress's lap. This means your local Congresscritters, and mine, may actually have to go on the record on the issue, and it might be fun to watch them squirm.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 12:29 PM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/6/2005)

  • Via Marginal Revolution, here's something you can get your loved one for that special occasion: the Buzz Zapper, a sort of electrifed fly swatter. Cool!

    Key sentence from their FAQ:

    Many of our customers have told us that it's also fun to use.

    I bet. And I wonder how many customers are using it on other things than insects.

  • Via Geek Press, a very pretty and unique Interstate highway interchange. And I've been there! And lived!

The Final Solution: A Story Of Detection

[Amazon Link]

This is a wonderful short book set in 1944 Sussex. An ancient retired detective puts his still awesome mental skills back to work to solve a murder and a missing parrot, the pet of a mute German lad. The detective is never named, but you'll be able to figure out who he is three sentences in. (Maybe you already have.) The mystery is complicated by the presence of the Dairy Research Board set up in a nearby estate: there are lots of antennas on the roof, and they don't seem to care very much that all their cattle are boys.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:53 AM EDT

National Treasure

[Amazon Link] [2.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

Nicolas Cage has a habit of showing up for movies that (to put it charitably) do not challenge his acting talent, and this is one of those. Also sleepwalking through their parts are Jon Voight and Sean Bean. But Harvey Keitel shows up eventually and he's fun to watch. A guy I've never seen before named Justin Bartha has an "amusing slacker sidekick" role that's actually amusing.

Otherwise, this is a by-the-numbers action flick with an unusually ludicrous plot.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:52 AM EDT

Pootie Tang

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

Pootie is so cool, his everyday language has evolved to a state that only a select similarly cool few, like Bob Costas, can figure out what he's talking about. (The subtitle on the movie is: "Sine Your Pitty on the Runny Kine.") His dad was tragically felled by a gorilla in a steel mill. Pootie is popular with everyone except the bad guys; well, the redneck local sheriff is a little miffed at Pootie, but not because Pootie's black; it's because he's reluctant to marry the sheriff's daughter.

Nobody's going to confuse Pootie Tang with The Godfather Part II, but it's unpretentious, good-hearted, and funny on its own terms. I note Roger Ebert gave it a mere half-star, but that just shows that Ebert has gone insane.


Last Modified 2012-10-26 11:50 AM EDT

URLs du Jour (6/2/2005)

  • Jane Galt has a short article containing an insightful point about poor countries:

    The appalling poverty of Sri Lanka or Mozambique is not some bizarre aberration that can be tracked to a cause we can cure. We are the aberration; Sri Lanka and Mozambique are the normal state of human history.

    This reminds me of how I was struck in reading some of Thomas Sowell's books of how much of our current fortune is the product of blind and dumb luck. (Sure, hard work as well. But poor societies work hard too.)

  • Ronald Coleman makes a point about "free speech on the Internet" that's an oldie but a goodie. (Via Instapundit)

URLs du Jour (6/1/2005)

  • Mr. Sun has advice for graduates.

    Make a list of the things you want to do before you die. Be as open to your heart as you possibly can. Now, throw that ridiculous piece of trash away and get your ass to work. The ball is over, Cinderella.

    (Via Joanne Jacobs and Eduwonk. Added Mr. Sun and Eduwonk to linklist.)

  • George Will writes on France's rejection of the European Union's proposed constitution, which I can't really get excited about. But his description of the probable successor to Tony Blair is a gem; he's someone

    … who embodies the cheerless egalitarianism of socialism understood as more and more queuing by more and more people dependent for increasing numbers of things on a decreasingly competent welfare state.

    That's a keeper.

  • Likewise, I am not interested in the identity of Deep Throat, but if you want to read something other than the navel-gazing and back-patting that dominates the mainstream media, then Ben Stein at The American Spectator is your go-to guy.

    So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.

    I'm not sure I agree, but Ben's loyalty to President Nixon is impressive, and his outrage is unmatched. However, the best line I've seen is Frank J's: Deep Throat - Is It Just Me, Or Does that Sound Like the Name of a Porno?