I have to say that I have found the heavy coverage of Saddam Hussein’s execution in the blogosphere somewhat macrabe. It seems to me more like cleaning up a mess than something to obsess about. It’s unpleasent, but you do what you have to because the world is better place for doing it. But I can’t see the point of the endless bulletins, updates, live blogging, etc. (I’m not sure what all, because I tuned it out). In my view, it would be additional deserved punishment to treat it as no more important than cleaning up an industrial spill.
The Wall Street Journal had an article today about how to learn from the high profile mistakes of others. One of the examples was, of course former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld. The article talked about his abrasive manner lead to his “fall”. I thought that a rather curious choice, as Rumsfeld was the longest serving Secretary of Defense ever. It would seem that if his “fall” was the result of his manner, abrasive seems the way to go to avoid that as long as possible. Perhaps the authors should have gone with a “living inside a bubble” example, rather than being one themselves.
Orrin Judd writes “The need to feel oneself in control of events is the signal characteristic of the Left—little wonder they think that their (our) actions control the wogs” which is a theme I have hit on multiple times. Of course, OJ seems to think exactly this, for example in this post about election turnout in Iran.
P.S. That last post gets bonus points for the quote —
Facts just kinda bounce off you don’t they?
As the Duke Lacross players case continues to come unraveled, I am left wondering just what DA Nifong was thinking when he handed out the indictments. It now appears that he had the exculpatory DNA evidence before indicting, which would seem to be a poor basis for starting a prosecution. I expect he either didn’t think it through or believed that he could break the defendants without much publicity outside of the local area.
What I wonder now is how much the accuser wanted things to go forward. There is some indirect evidence (such as the seclusion mediated by Nifong related people) that Nifong, not the accuser, was the driving force behind the prosecution. I would find it very plausible that the accuser has been used as well. If I were the defense team, I would consider getting the accuser to file a civil lawsuit against Nifong, in conjunction with the defendants, for willful abuse of his position to force the case. That would be a public relations coup (“it’s not about accuser vs. defendant, but about abuse of power by the DA”) and vicious revenge at the same time.
While I think it clear that religiousity is a contributing factor to maintaining birthrates, I also think that reducing something as fundamental as reproduction to a single motivation can only be done by the fanatical. I don’t find it contradictory to think that while religion is a positive motivation for reproduction, living conditions also matter. As has been noted many times, even when the population was generally religious, cities have always had a lower rate of reproduction than the country side.
And so, I think, it goes in Japan in particular. Certainly the type of demographic inversion that Japan is experiencing is unprecedented in recorded history. But that means that predictions of an inescapable spiral are purely speculation. It’s not clear to me why it would be so inescapable. As long as you have more than a few hundred couples willing to reproduce, the population can in theory recover. The only quesiton is whether the presence of a larger cohort of aged can prevent such recovery. The death spiral proponents (such as Steyn) presume that, without a doubt, that would occur. But human populations have recovered from some very severe depredations — why this sort is different is something I have yet to see explained.
Let us consider one of the strongest arguments in the demographic death spiral quiver, which is pensions. This is, without a doubt, not a small problem. However, it’s primarily a problem only if one makes the assumption that current retirement patterns remain unchanged. I agree with Steyn that the current system can’t go on as it is, under the almost certain demographic changes. But, as the saying goes, “if it can’t go on forever, it won’t”. At some point, Japan will change the present social contract regarding retirement. Either pre-emptively, or after the demographic crisis forces the issue.
It is at the point that I fail to agree with the certainty of the doom sayers. We can’t know what will happen at that point. But unless the change happens after the potential breeding population is statistically insignificant, I don’t why a recovery can’t occur. It wasn’t that many generations ago that people were expected to work until they physically couldn’t. Why couldn’t that happen again? Further, at some point the population reduction will improve livings conditions for the breeders, at which point I would expect more breeding. I see the trend toward fewer children as being driven by forces that can’t go on forever, so they won’t. Whether the society that emerges after the crisis is still what we would consider “Japanese” is a rather different question, but I think that it will be.
Warfare is decided in the mind, as some has recently re-iterated in discussing the current Long War. I don’t find that, by itself, a very useful observation because that has been true and known for a very long time, back to at least the time of Sun Tzu.
What might be considered different now is that one side in a conflict has forsworn collateral damage as a means of changing the minds of its opponents, but even that is not unique — for instance, the passive resistance of Ghandi is an example of half a century ago. What may be historically different is that the more powerful side has done so.
A point I made earlier is that the choice of the Anglosphere to not engage in responses that create a lot of collateral damage is supported by the innate tolerance and forbearance of the USA and that such restraint is a limited resource. It is a question of which will run out first, that or the obliviousness of the Caliphascists and their fellow travelers.
It seems that it’s still a race. On one side, we have things like this anti-jihad nu-metal video, and on the other parts of the ummah accepting the existence and evil of the Holocaust. The former I have expected, but the latter is a bit surprising. I had mostly written off the ummah, deciding based on the evidence that its capacity for change would not meet the demands of our age, but perhaps I am wrong in that1.
1 The Washington Post article has complaints about no explicit condemnation of the Iranian denial conference, but that’s at best quibbling. If, as these Muslims did, accept the existence of and condemn the Holocaust, the rest is petty details. Should the situations have been reversed, I would have wanted to avoid the road of having to track every gathering of idiots and thereby open myself up to claims of support if I didn’t rush out sufficiently rapidly for such a thing in the future. Best to set a precedent of going right to the meat of the matter.
I got an e-mail today advertising US News & World Report’s new weblog by David Kaplan called Bad Guys Blog. I was located by detecting that this weblog had linked to USNWR in the past. Although the e-mail dangled the possibility of collaboration (good), it did not contain the URL of the new weblog. I had to find it via netsearch. Oh, and (haha! lame!) I tried to subscribe via Bloglines because the weblog at least had a badge for that in the sidebar BUT — the feed file to which it refers doesn’t exist.
P.S. As a bonus, though, I was going to write about how Kausfiles didn’t have a feed, but I discovered that Slate had upgraded their feeds so that, yes, finally, there is a Kausfiles RSS feed. So, thanks USNWR webmaster, you’ve put a competitor back in my regular reading file.
While I was shopping on line for Christmas,I bought various items from a “green” company that sells putatively ecologically friendly consumer goods. For instance, this neat little gadget. I gave one out for Christmas and am waiting to hear back on whether it actually works. There’s no law of physics violation, so it’s possible.
On the other hand, I also ordered some rechargable batteries, even though I am not convinced they are really more ecologically friendly because they fail so often. These, however, despite being marketed as “green”, came in quite the layered non-biodegradable wrapping. Plastic outer box, plastic inner covering, plastic back plate, tape, etc. It just seems the perfect example of Logo-Realism, where labeling is what matters, not the actual impact on the environment. Still, I will see if these batteries have a longer lifespan than other varieties I have used.
Although Daimnation! thinks the suit is crazy, I have to say that I think it’s a wonderful idea —
The outgoing US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is backing a call for the president of Iran to be charged with inciting genocide because of his speeches advocating the destruction of the state of Israel. […] A suit will be lodged with the international court of justice at The Hague, which will decide whether to hear the action.
Daimnation! comments that —
The courts are not the means to stop Ahmadinejad, and even if they were, the Vague isn’t the venue.
Ah, but that’s the point. I am a big fan of “proof by contradiction” or hoisting people by their own petard. The ICJ may be obviously bogus to astute observers, but this suit will either cause serious problems for Ahmadinejad or (far more likely) will serve as an archetypical counter-argument to entrusting anything to the ICJ or similar institutions. Now, I don’t expect the latter to persuade any of the TranZis who support the ICJ, but since the typical response by such to unpleasant realities like this is to talk about something else, at least we’d stop hearing about the ICJ and how it is the proper means for ajudicating international disputes.
I have, on and off, been following the case Raleigh-Durham of the Duke lacrosse players accused of rape. One of the side issues that interests me is how the Duke administration has built its own trap in dealing with issues like this. Best of all, they seem to have slid in to it down a slippery slope.
The essence, in my view, is that the administration originally embraced some of the milder forms of modern political correctness. Without push back, however, each wave of hires drifts a little more out of the mainstream, slipping down the slope to what we see today, academics who are really political operatives who have effective control of the public relations of the university. Even I don’t think the Duke administration wanted that result when they first accomodated the rising liberal tide of the 60s and 70s. Each step on the way prepared the ground for the next one. If you made a movie of it, it would be Thelma and Lousie.
One of the things that strikes me when I read reports like this about honor killings and other oppression of women in Islamic cultures is not that women are viewed as property, but as such low value property. It is as if when some kids threw eggs at my house, I got upset with the house instead of the kids. That only makes sense to me if the valuation of the “property” is not just low, but actually negative — i.e., it is a burden to own, that is only kept around because it’s more trouble to be rid of it1. This seems a very alien viewpoint from my Western mode of thinking. I am left wondering how much familial fondness can exist between parents and children they view as onerous.
1 I would be disappointing my peer group if I didn’t mention the adaptability implications of such a social structure. The thought naturally occurs that a society that doesn’t have enough women is going to suffer a demographic collapse. However, if one is considering demographics only, the utility of women might well be a very steep step function. Up to a certain point, fewer females has a demographic impact. Past the basic replacement rate (including losses from war, disease, infant mortality, etc.), however, there may not be much demographic advantage to additional women. Excess men are never a problem, as they can be easily expended in various risky yet tribally remunerative activities. However, in this case it would seem that the type of honor society under discussion here yields the worst of both worlds — paying for the raising of a girl and then losing the investment. It seems maladapative all around.
As I hear more about the emerging civil war among the Palestinians, I wonder how much the Israeil security wall has contributed to that. Certainly the seige of the Hamas government has been no small factor, but I suspect that the wall has been as important. The Palestinian elite have created a “society” that thrives on violence, that has armed struggle as its defining characteristic. Once that can no longer be vented on Israel, it could hardly be expected to just turn off. Nor could the inculcated victimization from any setback, which amplifies the already present clan / feud dynamic. Definitely a two-fer for Israel, reducing its own suffering while forcing the contradiction on Palestinian society.
One might wonder how the MAL will handle the internal warfare, who will the “good” guys. However, I suspect that instead we’ll see it all blamed on Israel with maudlin calls of “think of the children — don’t fight each other, unit against the Zionist enemy!”. Better phrased, of course.
Tammy Bruce wonders about why Jews are such a preferred target for conspiracy theories —
How is it, I wonder, that people who tend to screw up their own lives, first think Jews, who must be everywhere and all powerful, are responsible, and then manage to whine about it to the world?
Naturally, I have my own iconoclastic view of the matter, which is composed of two parts.
The first is that successful, easily identifiable minorities tend to become despised by the local majority culture. This is, IMHO, the basic origin of judenhass in Europe and the Middle East. One can also see this in the experience of ethnic Chinese in Indonesia.
However, and this is part two, because of the European dominance of the world for the recently passed few centuries, judenhass has become the dominant ethnic hatred. As a result, there exists a ready to use gestalt of jewish conspiracy. All the catch phrases, memetic constructs, and justifications are all there. One hardly needs to even do much customization. This is turn helps perpetuate and enhance the gestalt.
Modern judenhass is like a big, open source project that is the first to market and gains the dominant mind-share. It wasn’t inevitable at first, but once becoming the primary gestalt for blaming someone else for one’s own problems its dominance has become self sustaining. It’s perfect for the immediate gratification needs of the mentally lazy, which makes it a premier memetic consumer good in today’s Westernized culture.
Via Instapundit is yet another story involving attractive women with guns. I found it interesting primarily because one of SWIPIAW’s friends in graduate school was a competive shooter who was also very cute.
No good reason, just rambling in my dotage.
I received this junk e-mail last week from some website in Russia. It claimed that, by using the website in some manner (the grammar was too fractured to ascertain the method), one could enagage in various activities such as
There was a peculiar emphasis on doing this to “Forex” (presumably “Foreign Exchange”) websites.
What this says to me is that junk email isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. It is a standard pattern that after an open system is first colonized by parasites, the ecological niche gets filled and competition sets in, along with improved defenses on the part of the hosts. At that point, the smarter types starting selling the technology to the dumber types, e.g. the parasitism recurses one level. After all, it’s easier to cheat a dishonest person, making junk emailer wannabes an excellent target market.
Wow, has it been a week since I last posted? We shipped out a copy of the product to our first beta customer and so it’s been a bit hectic around these parts. I seem to have a finite supply of non-trivial thought cycles and if they get used up by my real work, there’s not enough left to work on this weblog (as it’s about commentary, not just quick links and snark). Contrary to certain theorists, the slow down is not at all because I can no longer figure out how to say the same thing in slightly different language. I have far more items to comment on stashed in various web browsers than I will ever be able to cover.
Instapundit has been writing about the irrational despite of Big Pharma.Coincidentally, I heard on NPR a story about AIDS activists who want Big Pharma executive tried for “crimes against humanity” for not providing AIDS drugs at low prices to Africa.
This is, as usual, stupidly counter-productive even from the point of view of the activists. What they would really establish is that the real crime for which Big Pharma would be punished was developing useful pharmaceuticals for AIDS. This is because had no such pharmaceuticals been developed or released, no crime. And obviously the simplest way for Big Pharma to avoid such
persecution prosecution in the future would be to halt all such research. That the activists seem unconcerned about that indicates how much the activists really care about people suffering from AIDS.
Because Andrea Harris was so worked up about them, I figured I would go see what the “2006 Weblog Awards” looked like. It seems that I arrived late, with all of the voting over. So I looked over the nominees to count weblogs in the two categories
It seems that I once again I am not even outside the window looking in at the popular crowd. What’s extra funny is that 4 or 5 of these are entertainment weblogs (e.g., Go Fug Yourself), a subject I follow only via links from my regular weblogs. I thought the “life time achievement” awards were amusing, as the only one I had ever heard of (of nominees and previous winners) was Joshua Micah Marshall who runs some sort of lefty weblog, the name of which I cannot recall (and don’t care enough to netsearch it). I did think it amusing that only hard core leftists weblogs were nominees in the politics categroy, although I had heard of all of them.
One is left thinking that perhaps these people simply don’t understand modern media, as fragmentation and niches are the rule. The very idea of having “best of” metrics seems contradictory to the basic structure of the blogosphere. But hey, people who never left high school need something to keep them busy.
I want to laud the Crayola company for bringing out a value pack that has actual value. I picked up one of these GelFX Teacher Packs the other day because the crew here goes through a lot of markers. In addition to being a lot of markers in a single unit, it contains five extra caps. Until you’ve tried to put markers away after a horde of children have used them, you can’t really appreciate how useful that is.
Children are starving in North Korea because of a real dictator, but ABC’s Diane Sawyer, reporting from a school there on Oct. 19, said, “It is a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school. Ask them about their country, and they can’t say enough.” The clip showed a North Korean girl saying, in English, “We are the happiest children in the world.”
It’s not so much that idiots like Sawyer are fooled, or even that they are fooled by such transparent (to people with clue) tricks, but that they fool themselves. One notes that they are only taken in by things that already agree with their world view. It’s a level of cluelessness that only those attempting to be intellectuals can manage. An ordinary fool at least pays some attention to what he is told, or he wouldn’t be fooled by having a thought implanted in his mind by the conman. Useful idiots like Sawyer have rendered themselves completely immune to outside thoughts. The North Korean regime doesn’t have to put thoughts in Sawyer’s head, they need merely present an appropriate stimulus to evoke the desired response.
Our local congress critter is trying to pass a law to stop the NCAA from banning the local University from post-season games becaues of the mascot. Given that I wen to school there for 10 years1 and lived in the town for decades before that and, in that entire time, saw exactly one University sporting event, I may not be the most interested party to comment on the subject.
However, as much as I despise the forces of political correctness who have made this an issue, I can’t side with the university or the Congress critter. The NCAA is a voluntary organization. If the local university doesn’t like it, it should drop out. Or, put it to a vote of the alumni whether to drop the mascot or the NCAA, either of which would solve the problem. But it seems that view that “everyone else should accomodate my whims” has infected the putatively conservative politicians as well. Luckily, the legislation isn’t going any where, not even Speaker Hastert could get it out of committee and there’s zero chance it will happen in the 110th Congress.
P.S. I thought this was beyond the Congressional writ, but someone pointed out that this might be a plausible use of the Commerce Clause, as the NCAA is without a doubt engaging in interstate commerce.
1 3½ undergrad and 6½ graduate, if you must know. The latter is why I have such a strong disdain for credentialism, having seen how advanced degrees are made.
The Watcher’s Council has an opening for a new member. They’re dropping like journalists exposed to actual facts.
Call me a curmudgeon, but I see it as neat, but unlikely to be “disruptive technology”. There have been numerous such breakthroughs in the last decade, all of which (so far) have foundered on the reefs of manufacturing. This is a key fact that so many miss, that the real disruptive technology is almost always manufacturing technology, not one off prototpyes. Consider one of the most famous examples, Henry Ford. What, exactly, did he invent? A way to manufacture automobiles at an affordable cost.
I don’t want to belittle this effort unnecessarily, because invention is important as well (it’s the whole “tinkering vs. thinking” issue in another guise). But if you can’t make it in mass quantities, it really doesn’t matter at a societal scale. Moreover, even if this technology started supplying the entire South West of the USA with all of its electricity tomorrow for free, it would be only a minor change in our energy use patterns. The scale of energy use in the USA is so large that even very disruptive technology can only make small disturbances. Real change will require multiple such technologies and decades and thinking otherwise is a symptom of utopianism.
The recent disruptive imams on a plane incident hits one of my tropes, which is the apparent unwillingness of the Islamic community to be cooperative with its host society. As more information comes out, it seems very clear to me that the imams were being deliberatively provocative, precisely to create the kind of incident that resulted. It’s an excellent illustration of the point I was trying to get at in this thread — that the essence of dhimmitude, that everything else in a society must be subservient to the will of the Islamic community, is still very much an active part of Islam. That is certainly how these imams see it, that they should be able to do anything at all and everyone else must sacrifice and accomodate that. There is no hint that any of them can envision a compromise between their belief system and American society. I believe that the imams are explicitly forcing the issue, expecting that it is American culture that will blink and enshrine the concept that any reaction to suspicious behavior by Muslims is not permitted.
But, some might say, these are only six imams. They can hardly be taken to represent the Islamic community in America. But why not? It’s a very public and well known issue yet the only response from the putative representatives of the ummah supportive, such as CAIR’s involvement. Moreover, and here is the critical point, it’s not my problem.
This very question shows why the imams think they can win this contest of wills, because by asking “what can we, the non-Islamic community, do to avoid this?” concedes the point. The question pre-supposes that the ummah has no responsibility in this regard, that all concern and accomodation must happen elsewhere. Not so — if the ummah wants to not be considered a fifth column, then it, not everyone else, must take action to prevent it. It would be bummer if Islam ended up being purged as we have done to other groups in American history, but I would get over it. And if the ummah doesn’t seem to care any more than that, why should I?
The 2 December issue of New Scientist has an editorial by Larry Lohmann, who works for The Corner House) which typifies the hysterical rhetoric the astute observer has come to expect from the AGW fanatics.
The editorial started out only mildly confused, arguing that pollution credits were a bad idea despite having been successful with sulfur dioxide in the USA in the 1990s. I stopped reading, however, when I got to this —
But global warming requires a more radical solution: nothing less than a reorganisation of society and technology that will leave most remaining fossil fuels underground.
Here we see the real agenda of the AGWF, massive social changes under the pretext of combatting AGW. It is an explicit rejection of any compromise, any ameloriative effort. It’s the attitude of a hostage taker, not someone trying to solve a problem. I don’t given in to that sort, making the rest of the editorial moot.
Ah, now that my Best of the Web mystery has been cleared up, I thought I would provide an answer for one of its questions.
Former US Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam, and who has been a Legion member since 1969, expressed concern in an interview on Friday that by inflating his résumé, Morin has undercut the credibility of veterans’ groups as they seek congressional support for underfunded veterans’ programs.
“For the national commander of the American Legion, who never even served in the Vietnam theater, to call himself a Vietnam veteran is a lie,” Cleland said.
But where was Cleland four years ago, when Rep. Jim McDermott claimed that he and his then colleague David Bonior—both of whom had just returned from Baghdad, where they propagandized on behalf of Saddam Hussein—”were in that war,” namely Vietnam? In fact, McDermott was a Navy psychiatrist and Bonior an Air Force cook—both in California.
That’s an easy one. Note that Cleland is concerned about undercutting the credibility of the American Legion. The only way McDermott and Bonior could under the credibility of Congress is if they turned out to be journalists.
OK, I’m an uneducated slacker, but I do not get this snark from Best of the Web —
Sen. Chuck Schumer is skeptical of “smart cards,” credit cards that “record a transaction by waving the card near a terminal without a swipe or signature,” reports AM New York:Um, Senator, don’t you mean a “double-edged dagger”?
“These cards may be convenient but they’re a double-edged sword because thieves can use the technology, steal your identity, and use your credit number and name, and go on a shopping spree at your expense,” Schumer said.
Huh? Why a dagger instead of a sword? My own collection has singled edged swords and double edged swords, along with singled edged daggers and double edged daggers. I would use “double edged blade” myself, but that’s just personal preference. Can anyone explain this to me?
John Bolton has announced his resignation from the UN when his recess appointment ends. His official appointment is still bottled up in a Senate committee.
It seems to me that President Bush has an excellent opportunity to play some hard ball politics and throw a bit of red meat to the conservatives. There are at least two options, both of which start with leaving Bolton’s nomination in committee until it is voted on.
The first option is to then tell the Senate “without Bolton, the UN is simply too anti-American to be useful, so I have no intention of appointing anyone else. If you think the USA should effectively withdraw from the UN, go ahead and sit on the nomination.”
The other option is the Deval Patrick option. In this case, Bush appoints some cooperative person as Bolton’s assistant. When Bolton resigns, the assistant becomes the acting Representative. Bush then appoints Bolton that guy’s assistant, then the guy resigns. Now Bolton is acting UN representative until the Senate actively does something to kick him out. He’d probably last the rest of Bush’s term.
The Bush administration is deliberating whether to abandon U.S. reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead give priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government, according to U.S. officials.
While I don’t share OJ’s Shia triumphalism, it has seen the typical realist folly to not tell the Sunni community that the price of American protection from the rest of Iraq was active cooperation. Acting as if their cooperation was required by anyone else just fed their delusion of being the naturally dominant community. It is well past time to tell the Sunni that the train is leaving the station and they’ll either be on it or under it.
Someone mentioned recently Orrin Judd’s penchant for the “broken windows” theory that destroying accumulated wealth is a boost for the economy. And lo, OJ writes another post in that vein. The essence is that RAND claims
If the trend continues, America’s energy mix by 2025 could be far greener and cleaner - without damaging the economy - than most analysts could have antici-pated a few years ago.
OK, that seems plausible. OJ comments in a complete non-sequitor
It’s a delightful irony that free marketeers assume technological stasis
That is, as OJ likes to say, a counterfactual, since no actual free marketer claims any such thing. In fact, they claim exactly the opposite, that it is a free market that has the least stasis (e.g., Virginia Postrel’s division of people in to ‘dynamists’ and ‘stasists’). One could also note that the RAND article contains two other contradictions to OJ’s theme —
Personally, beyond just yanking people’s chains, I suspect that OJ starts with the premise that government intervention is good and then misinterprets evidence to suit that view.
Experts on Cuba said the Western hemisphere’s only communist country needs to get the United States to lift sanctions enforced since 1962 if it wants to revitalise its battered economy.
Oh yeah, that’s the only thing holding Cuba back from a dynamic, growing economy — no direct trade with the USA . I mean, just look at the USSR — it traded and with USA and therefore had no economic problems. That’s not to mention that Cuba should instead be grateful that the USA isn’t polluting their culture with dreck like McDonald’s and WalMart.