Mr. Owl Ate My Metal Worm

  • The UMaine student newspaper reports that their athletic program sucks up a cool $7 million per year. I've never seen the equivalent number for the University Near Here, but how much different could it be? (Via University Diarist.)

  • Some have taken to calling it Krauthammer's Law:
    Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
    Will Wilkinson illuminates another data point in verification of Krauthammer's Law: the spat between Matt Yglesias and David Boaz about "Earth Hour". In which, as expected, Yglesias deems Boaz evil and … yeah, Yglesias is stupid.

  • Note that, while some call that epigram above Krauthammer's Law, what Krauthammer calls "Krauthammer's Law" is: Everyone is Jewish until proven otherwise. Explanation:
    For all its tongue-in-cheek irony, Krauthammer's Law works because when I say "everyone," I don't mean everyone you know personally. Depending on the history and ethnicity of your neighborhood and social circles, there may be no one you know who is Jewish. But if "everyone" means anyone that you've heard of in public life, the law works for two reasons. Ever since the Jews were allowed out of the ghetto and into European society at the dawning of the Enlightenment, they have peopled the arts and sciences, politics, and history in astonishing disproportion to their numbers.

    There are 13 million Jews in the world, one-fifth of 1 percent of the world's population. Yet 20 percent of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish, a staggering hundredfold surplus of renown and genius. This is similarly true for a myriad of other "everyones" -- the household names in music, literature, mathematics, physics, finance, industry, design, comedy, film and, as the doors opened, even politics.

    Pun Salad is irrevocably goyish, but wishes its past, present, and future Jewish friends a Happy Passover. Arnold Kling provides a short Passover sermon with a libertarian bent:
    As we approach Passover in 2010, many people are unemployed. But in a free society, government does not create jobs.

    Pharoah created jobs for us. Moses led us away from those jobs. Even though those jobs helped to complete public infrastructure. Even though they were green jobs, where we used our muscles and our backs instead of fossil fuels.

    Read the whole thing. It's short.

  • What do you suppose aibohphobia is the fear of? Hint: if you made it past this post's headline, you don't have it.

    Fortunately, as Stan Kelly-Bootle points out, it's curable.

Last Car to Elysian Fields

[Amazon Link]

This is the thirteenth entry in James Lee Burke's series of novels about New Orleans detective Dave Robicheaux. One of the notable things about Dave is that the books put him through several different kinds of Hell; this one ups the ante some, as Dave has lost many of the support pillars that have held him up over the past few books: his wife, Bootsie, his old house, his side business. And even his adopted daughter Alafair has gone off to college in Oregon. So things aren't going well for him, and the volcanic black rage that's always bubbling underneath his surface threatens to engulf him this time.

The case is the usual mix: a Catholic priest has been targeted by a very colorful hit man; a poor black family has been gypped out of their land by an oil tycoon, who's now using it as a toxic dumping ground, and their genius blues singer relative went to the state pen years back and, as far as anyone's admitting, vanished from the planet. There's a mysterious woman from Dave's past, three kids have burned to death in a car crash after visiting a drive-by dacquiri stand, …

I don't think I ever quite figured out why the hit man was after that priest. Doesn't matter.

Without spoiling things, this could have easily been Dave's last appearance. But they keep coming, and I plan to keep reading.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:08 AM EST

The Asphalt Jungle

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Consumer alert: yes, that is Marilyn Monroe up front on the DVD box. But in actual fact, her role is pretty small, not big enough to make the opening credits.

The story is set in an anonymous midwestern city, one of the more depressing hellholes you'd ever want to see; the citizenry seems to consist mainly of crooks, cops, and floozies. The main character, Dix (played by Sterling Hayden), is a low-level stickup artist. His hooliganish talents get him a spot on a heist team hoping to knock over a jeweler for a fortune in gems and metal. The plan is masterminded by Doc, an elderly crime wizard just out of the joint.

Dix is the hero, of sorts: yes, he's a crook, but he's an honest crook: he's loyal to his associates and true to his word. Unfortunately, his associates don't return the favor, and things go very wrong.

The wonderful Jean Hagen has a big role as "Doll", one of the previously-mentioned floozies who desperately wants to be an Honest Woman, and unwisely hitches her wagon to Dix's doomed star. Before she was Lina Lamont ("a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament"), Ms Hagen did quite well playing this sort of role. She does not say Ehnd I cayyyn't stehnd im! in this movie, unfortunately.

Last Modified 2012-10-04 8:08 AM EST