29 March 2008

Rotting curtains

I read this post at Transterrestial Musings about liberating Old Media from the grip of Clinton Protectionism, i.e. reporting bad things about the Clintons. What struck me, though, was how much better most conservative politicians age than liberal ones. Even Barry Goldwater is held in high esteem for someone who got totally plastered by LBJ in the 1964 Presidential election. Ronald Reagan, of course, is effectively the archetype. I think it’s quite reasonable to expect current President Bush’s reputation to increase over the next few decades. But what liberal politicians since, say, WWII have aged well? Jimmy Carter? Ted Kennedy? Michael Dukakis? George McGovern? Bill Clinton? Eliot Spitzer? Even John F. Kennedy — his name may be used iconographically, but his policies are anathema to the very people who do that. It’s another aspect of how MAL is the political ideology that dare not show its true form, and whose practitioners can only be protected while they have the power to suppress dissent. Once that slips (due to death, retirement, loss of influence) the inevitable molding begins.

We have a ringer

Instapundit asks

IT’S LIKE SOME MUTANT OFFSPRING of the DIY Channel and Jewelry Television: Make your own engagement ring. Readers: Would you do this?

As it turns outs, my engagement ring (that SWIPIAW gave to me) was custom made to my specifications, so I don’t see understand the expression of disdain. I would presume that the tool would actually be used by the giver, not the receiver, based on suggestions and budget. SWIPIAW got a smaller stone, and even that took all of the reward money I got for being TA of the Year for the University. Later, when we were doing better financially, I got her a larger stone for an earring, which she ended up swapping with her ring.

25 March 2008

Eagar me this

If Harry Eagar is out there, I have to know what he thinks of this theory

Obama isn’t the first credible African-American candidate so much as he’s the first credible Hawaiian candidate. Everything that’s essential and appealing about him is Hawaiian in character, and reflects his years growing up there.

People in Hawaii don’t fixate on race, because everyone is mixed race, individually or by marriage, and they don’t think in terms of political party, because that’s at best a secondary characteristic; and above all, they don’t think in terms of traditional left/right, red/blue polarities—those are for the mainland.

Hawaii is a place where conservative evangelical Christians are Asian and Polynesian, and the secular liberals are white and not quite local; where “black” isn’t even a common category, because African-Americans are so rare; where liberal Democrats revere military service, largely because a lot of Hawaii’s political leaders are veterans of the legendary all-Japanese 442nd Infantry, starting with Medal of Honor winner Dan Inoyue [sic]. In Hawaii, ideological stances are looked at with huge skepticism, because they imply pretension and putting on airs—or as it’s said there, “Hey brah, no act!”

The key to understanding Obama isn’t race, or Kennedy, or any of that: the key is Hawaii.

Also, as long as I am writing about Obama, I have been meaning to comment on this Spengler comment

Obama profiles Americans the way anthropologists interact with primitive peoples. He holds his own view in reserve and emphatically draws out the feelings of others; that is how friends and colleagues describe his modus operandi since his days at the Harvard Law Review, through his years as a community activist in Chicago, and in national politics.

That might well explain Obama’s misteps with regard to Rev. Wright, viewing Wright’s oratory as purely ritualistic, not realizing the locals take it seriously. That would be unironically engaged, not really something Obama is likely to have had much experience with.

15 March 2008

Phraseology

I have a number of signature phrases, most of which I find far more clever than those around me. I don’t mind collecting those of others, however, and adapting them to my own use, for example “clue by four” and “fluorescent idiocy”. The latter goes along with one I found here, concerning the effort by the EU to build a rival to Google — “Nuclear f***ing fail”. Not for normal sorts of failures, but only for those that are not only obviously inevitable to any one with clue but will also be of a spectacular nature. “Yes, that definitely looks they’ll get a NFF on that”. Now I just need a home project so that SWIPIAW can try it out for size.

14 March 2008

So much for being a uniter

With all of the recent furor over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright I haven’t seen a mention of how this will permanently inject race in Senator Obama’s candidacy. I can see the advertisements already, tapes of Wright speaking with voice overs of “Obama’s spritual guide … the inspiration for his book”. However loony Wright’s views seem to most of America, they’re obviously popular and well received in the black American community. The impact of these advertisements to come will have a very racially disparate impact on voters. They might well boost Obama’s support in the black community (although, it’s already so high it might make no difference), but I can’t see how the impact won’t be strongly negative on the rest of the American Street. I think Obama’s long association, and his lack of any concern as recently as early 2007 about the relationship is very telling about Obama’s real beliefs and in that, at least, I expect agreement across the races.

Keep hope alive!

His time has passed? Not while I have my Action Figure!

11 March 2008

Publicity tip

Hey, if some attractive female wanted her fifteen minutes, she should hold up a sign at the next Spitzer press conference / appearance that reads “Call me! Only $2500/hour!”

08 March 2008

Why won't Obama be HRC's VP?

Two words: “Al Gore”.

You can't be heard if you dare not speak

According to LGF, the Huffington Post has turned off comments for a post about the attack on the seminary in Jerusalem. I agree that this is almost certainly because if they don’t, the virulent hatred of their readership will become too obvious. One is only left wondering how people can avoid wondering about their own stances if such stances attract that kind of fellow traveler. It’s also hard to envision how one builds a successful mass movement if you’re too embarassed to state your beliefs openly, unless you’re willing to lie blatantly and continuously to achieve your own political goals.

Even the left eventually suffers from basic principles

Via Brothers Judd is the story of an advisor in the Obama campaign resigning for saying something inappropriate. I find this very interesting because it used to be the case that mostly GOP politicians had to fall on swords for saying politically incorrect things, and only rarely did any Democratic Party member pay a price for it. But now with two identity based candidates running, there’s no safe zone.

Why am I poor when idiots can get so much money?

Here’s a funny story (via LGF). It’s a great illustration of the computer jargon “security through obscurity”, which is the equivalent of protecting your house by painting your door to look like a wall. In this case, a company was selling streaming video to cell phone users1. The company relied on long, complicated URLs to prevent people from viewing the video without paying. Of course, someone discovered the URLs and published them, which means anyone can watch without paying. The company’s solution? Sue the forum hosts on which the data was published. As if no one has copied those URLs off to republish the instant they disappear from the forum.

What really gets me non-plussed is that a company whose very business is selling cutting edge Internet services doesn’t understand how the Internet works. If some mom & pop store screwed up like this on their quilt selling web page, well OK. It’s a complex subject, not related to their expertise. But people whose very business is in the heart of this technology? How can they be that ignorant? It would be a like going in to carpentry without understanding wood grain.


1 It just boggles my mind that people actually pay for that.

07 March 2008

Taste of no return

The Wall Street Journal had a recent article about the increasing vulgarity of network TV. While I am sure that the ideological views of Hollywood “creative people” plays a factor, the claim is made that such fare brings in higher ratings. What I wonder is if we haven’t reached a tipping point, where the reaction of any one offended by this is not to protest but to simply stop watching. That’s what we did, many years ago. The “higher ratings”, rather than being absolutely higher, could be just a local halt in an otherwise general decline. You can see the vicious cycle, a tragedy of the commons effect, where each show can locally win, but only by contributing to the overall decline in a race to the bottom. Kind of like the current Democratic Party.

06 March 2008

Menshevik Syndrome

I need to start tracking things like this re-create the 1968 convention effort. The key comment is

The events of 1968 elected Nixon. These morons never, ever learn, do they?

No, they don’t. It’s just another example of how this kind of thing is just a re-enactment, not a political strategy. However, this isn’t the first time in the last few months that a group of MALists have used an analogy that demonstrates an ignorance or indifference to history, on the order of a bunch of rabid anti-Communists swearing to recreate the Bay of Pigs. But if you think that “this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part”, then perhaps these aren’t such bad analogies.

05 March 2008

Machinery

Continuing my theme of nit picking minor issues out of larger posts, I give you this post at Winds of Change. A good write up, but my big take away was this —

[…] Obama will argue for caucuses, since his campaign organization is good at winning among activists and students […]

Is it not odd that Senator Obama is the one with the superior on the ground organization? Hasn’t Senator Clinton spent the last, what, 6 years preparing for this? Is she not supposed to be the embodiment of Democratic Party machine politics? How can an upstart like Obama out do her in retail, get out the activists action? I always thought that HRC’s core competencies were intelligence and organization. If she doesn’t have those, what does she have?

04 March 2008

Anachronist concerns

Via Hot Air is an article about confronting the Caliphascists. It’s generally good, but I was taken with this section —

If we want to dismantle the networks that support and create terrorism, then we have to adjust our definitions of civilian and combatant accordingly. That change has been forced on us by the terrorists, which is one of the reasons we cannot abide their presence: they want real non-combatants to die in droves in order to undermine our morale, precisely because we want to remain in a World War II mentality.

The assumption I find questionable is that we had much concern about civilian causualties in WWII. The history of that war used to be a hobby of mine, and while the Allies weren’t in the same league as the Axis powers, the idea that civilian casualties were a deterrent to military operations is one I find ahistorical. Much of the bombing of Germany by the UK was “giving it back to Jerry”, with civilian casualties a feature, not a bug. But we need not stop with the UK — it was the USA, after all, that killed the most civilians in a single bombing raid in the entire war, even before we started nuking Japanese cities. That raid, on Tokyo, used incendiary bombs to deliberately set the wooden shacks of the workers and poor on fire so that roughly 120,000 people were burned alive. Somehow, I don’t read that as being overly concerned about non-combatant deaths. I think that concern is emblematic of the post-WWII era, and really only a phenomenon of the West starting 1970 or so, after the turbulent years at the turn of the decade, as it’s hard to see support for the Mutual Assured Destruction theory of deterence gaining support in a political environment sensitive to non-combatant deaths. Yet so powerful is that phenomenon that even people who don’t agree with it rewrite history to accomodate it.

Assault of Battery

I upgraded my camera to a D300 and picked up a few other accessories, such as an external charger for the flash and the vertical grip. The result is that when I am fully loaded photographically, I need 18 AA batteries, plus a special camera battery. Plus, SWIPIAW got a Wii game console for Christmas and the remotes for that take two AAs each, with enough use that I have to replace them every few days. It’s not the batteries so much, but the charger space. I had to throw out most of the chargers I had, because they won’t charge modern NiMh batteries (which go up to 2500 mAH, while the old chargers were limited to 700 - 1000 mAH). At least now, though, I recharge batteries often enough to make rechargable batteries practical.

03 March 2008

The losing ground of middling violence

Hot Air has some remarks on the latest futile effort of Israel in Gaza. As noted, Israel has done exactly this kind of limited response before, with no effect, so it’s difficult to see why PM Olmert expects a different result this time.

I wanted to note this because it’s the root of what’s wrong with Orrin Judd’s view of a “free fire zone” in the parts of Pakistan that are controlled by the Caliphascists. While good in theory, the practical fact is that no currently conceivable Presidential candidate is going to take advantage of it, and if they did, Old Media would do all they could to stop any action strong enough to make a difference.

What I wonder is whether the tipping point for all this is a resurgent militarism in Europe — after all, if the so much more sophisticated Europeans start slaughtering non-Westerns, wouldn’t that make it OK for us as well?

A word too far

Gateway Pundit has an article about various Islamic radicals threatening and / or encouraging the assassination of Prince Harry. What struck me as odd is that these radicals live in the UK. I am a fervent supporter of free speech, but even I think that kind of direct, personal, encouragement of political killing is over the line. As far as I know, saying something like that here about a member of the President’s family would result in an arrest and hopefully prosecution.

The difference is …

Thanks to Mr. Burnet, I have come up with a pithy explanation of the difference between a liberatrian and a libertine —

Libertine: Do as you will

Libertarian: Do as you will and accept the consequences