You Tell Yourself You're Not My Kind

… but you don't even know your mind:

  • So much for being President of all the people. In describing President Obama's video "rallying the troops" for the 2010 elections:
    Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to "young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again."
    Looks like Pun Salad, not belonging to any of the named groups, is being written off. OK, that's a safe bet, but still…

    (Via David Bernstein at Volokh, who notes that he's never heard a Tea Partier "make anything remotely resembling this blatant appeal to racial demography.")

  • Over at Granite Grok, Skip gets a chuckle from a "self-described libertarian" NH legislator whose big idea is… state-run slot machine parlors.

    I'm libertarian enough to think that prostitution should be legal, but—please—maybe the whores shouldn't be state employees. Too ironic.

  • A few years back, Richard Clarke gained his fifteen minutes of fame when he made the useful charge (to Democrats) that the Dubya Administration was asleep at the switch in the months leading up to 9/11.

    But before and after that, Clarke was on a cybersecurity binge, warning about the threat of offshore hackers targeting critical computer and network infrastructure. His latest book, Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It is reviewed at Wired. First, Clarke's scary scenario:

    Chinese hackers take down the Pentagon's classified and unclassified networks, trigger explosions at oil refineries, release chlorine gas from chemical plants, disable air traffic control, cause trains to crash into each other, delete all data -- including offsite backups -- held by the federal reserve and major banks, then plunge the country into darkness by taking down the power grid from coast-to-coast. Thousands die immediately. Cities run out of food, ATMs shut down, looters take to the streets.
    But the title of the review gives away the punchline: "Richard Clarke's Cyberwar: File Under Fiction"
    So much of Clarke's evidence is either easily debunked with a Google search, or so defies common sense, that you'd think reviewers of the book would dismiss it outright. Instead, they seem content to quote the book liberally and accept his premise that cyberwar could flatten the United States, and no one in power cares at all. Of course, the debunking would be easier if the book had footnotes or endnotes, but neither are included -- Revelation doesn't need sources.
    Bad book by a self-promoting gasbag.

  • If you're considering doing this:

    [Tax Cheat]

    … you better read Beldar's legal analysis first.

  • I'm a sysadmin, and I love computers. But not all sysadmins feel the same way. For example, this guy:
    I hate computers. No, really, I hate them. I love the communications they facilitate, I love the conveniences they provide to my life, and I love the escapism they sometimes afford; but I actually hate the computers themselves. Computers are fragile, unintuitive things -- a hodge-podge of brittle, hardware and opaque, restrictive software. Why?
    I think the answer is: because they're (a) stupid, but also (b) mind-bogglingly complex. Gratification lies in accepting reality, and getting them to do what you want in spite of those limitations.

    There are days when I go home saying, "I never want to look at another computer again for as long as I live." This usually lasts for a half hour or so.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 3:34 PM EST

Ride Lonesome

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Netflix has Inglorious Basterds, The Princess and the Frog, and The Blind Side on an (apparently) infinite waitlist, so I'm diving down for older movies that their algorithm says I'll like. This one is right on the money: a 1959 Cinemascope epic western, directed by Budd Boetticher, starring Randolph Scott. When they say "they don't make 'em like that any more", this is what they mean by "that."

Here, Mr. Scott plays Ben Brigade, a bounty hunter who's tracked down a goofy murderer named Billy John (played by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane hisself, James Best). Brigade (seemingly) wants to get Billy John back to Santa Cruz to hang. Complicating that: the rest of Billy John's gang has fetched brother Frank (Lee Van Cleef) to intercept Brigade on the way. And Brigade quickly picks up some unwanted fellow travelers: Boone and Whit (Pernell Roberts and James Coburn), a couple of brigands who would prefer that they be the ones to turn in Billy John; and lovely Mrs. Lane (Karen Steele), who has been recently widowed, courtesy of some marauding Native Americans.

The movie offers spectacular scenery and a neat twist ending. As often happens in Boetticher/Scott movies, there's an interesting relationship between the hero and his nominal adversary (Pernell Roberts in this case): while they're on different sides of the law, and one may end up shooting the other, there's a mutual recognition of a shared bond of masculine honor.

Mr. Scott does his own stunts. He's very good on a horse. As usual, he seems not to be acting.

Karen Steele gets photographed mainly in profile for reasons that are immediately clear to any guy over thirteen. She's not a bad actress, but … hey, where have I seen her before? Oh, yeah: here.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 3:33 PM EST