Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Little Stalins at the University of Delaware


These university speech code reeducation handbooks could save trees and boil things down to the nitty-gritty thus: Everything that antagonizes progressives is forbidden; everything that antagonizes conservatives is compulsory.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rage Boy makes the big time--Corrected: it's not him

So I was walking past a magazine rack, and saw the current issue of Newsweek. There was a tightly-cropped group of gesticulating demonstrators, framed so as to imply hundreds out of a handful. (Zombie is great at exploding that kind of photo-journalism on the Left Coast) And in the middle, glaring at the camera with the most histrionic face of all, was apparently Shakeel Bhat, known to journalists covering south Asia as "Rage boy". [deletia][update follows]
I then wrote a post about it, but learned from the proprietors of The Nose On Your Face blog that it isn't him. So, nevermind.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Senator Brownback hits the wall

Two-time Kansas senator Sam Brownback's presidential campaign finally wheezed to a halt this week. He was almost out of cash, and had failed to make his case, after last year's initial splash, as the next family values candidate.

At least that's what they're saying in the MSM. The real reason is that Sen. Brownback was in violation of an unwritten law of American Presidential politics:

No American president shall have an excessively picturesque English name.

That's right. In this great republic, created by and for decades dominated by men of English descent, there have been no Presidents with frightfully, awfully, thatchy, tweedy, sedge-y English names. No President Laidlaw. No President Coolbroth. No President Bullcalf. There have been not one, not two, not three, but four Presidents with Germanic names. Yet, we're still waiting for our first President Rakestraw.

This is of course not to say that there is no place in American national politics for people with names like Moneypenny and such. Senator Brownback himself is evidence of that. Certain other politicians have had long and satisfying careers whilst saddled with among the most rusticated monickers imaginable.

Yet, the invisible barrier remains to the top post. The closest any of them have come have been Vice-Presidents Burr and Quayle. Someone may someday discover the reasons why we will never have a President Brokeback, a President Lackland, or a President Truepenny. But whatever they are, the knowledge comes too late to be of any use to Senator Brownback, victim of America's least understood political taboo.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A previously unknown way to have fun with Google News

Search the keyword phrase "previously unknown" in Google News. As of this writing, you get news of:

A previously unknown tribe of Brazilian Indians

A previously unknown Primo Levi manuscript, found at Yad Vashem

A previously unknown Modigliani painting, discovered in Serbia

A previously unknown 18th-century Philadelphia tea table, which topped six million at auction recently.

And previously unknown structure-specific functional mechanisms of flavonoids.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Iraq: Time to declare victory and leave?

This article in Prospect magazine lays out an argument for declaring victory: with al-Qaeda being increasingly rolled up, and the civil sectarian strife no longer threatening to blow up into full scale civil war, the U.S. military mission is becoming a flea hunt. Baghdad is not going to become Brussels anytime soon, but this article alleges that, while the current situation is undoubtedly very bad, the worst is over.

It is good to hear an assessment highlighting the, er, highlights for once. But so long as Iran is sending arms to the enemy, and Syria is sending fighters, and Saudi Arabia is sending money and inspiration...well, that's a rough neighborhood for a nascent democracy to try to sort itself out in. Left to itself, Iraq might well grow their democratic government in these arabian sands that are historically unreceptive to democracy. We can only hope. Especially so, if the American military has done everything that can reasonably be done in Iraq.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ahmadinejad warns against passage of Holocaust bill

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged Iranian legislators not to pass a resolution declaring the killing of Jews by Nazi Germany to be genocide. He said the bill's passing would result in a "significant weakening" of his country's ties with itself.

Iran admits many Jews died in World War II but denies genocide.

"This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings," Mr Ahmadinejad said just before the Parliamentary Subcommittee for Meting Death to Sons of Apes and Pigs began debating the resolution. “I have been trying to warn the lawmakers not to make a historic mistake. I urge members to oppose the Jewish genocide resolution now being considered." Ahmadinejad told reporters in a prepared statement he made on the Eternal Victory of the Sons of Martyrs nuclear research station's front porch. "We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Jewish people that began in 1934. That is, we would if we were ever able to get any scholarly confirmation of it. This resolution is not the right response to these historic mass killings, and its passage would do great harm to our relations with ourselves as we are presently constituted. I mean, I know for a fact that I'd just have to nip off and duct tape my head before even reading the thing."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I've been a big fan of microcapitalism for a long time, and was glad when micro-financier Mohamed Yunnus of Bangladesh won the Nobel Prize for his work in this field. So, I'm very glad to learn of this organization, . They connect small business people in the Third World with ordinary donors in the First World, who give small amounts, to be repaid over several months. I read about them in the current issue of Smithsonian, in their list of young innovators. I'm looking forward to settling down and combing through the site, to see if there's any opportunities in there for me to participate.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Animated gifs

I recently learned how to make animated gifs from video clips, thanks to a couple of helpful French (I think) folks elsewhere on the net. Blogger won't load animated gifs without some underhanded code spoofing, so I hosted them on Picasa instead. Here they are. Click on them to activate the animations. You're welcome to take them for avatars or whatever; if you can remember to spare me a mention, all the better.

Obama to stop wearing flag lapel pin

He's going to give all a dose of the ol' higher patriotism that soi-disant dissidents are always congratulating themselves about. You know, "dissent is the highest form of self-congratulation", or something like that.

This reminds me of this spoof from the Blame Bush blog, from a few years ago.

"The meeting lasted for another 4 hours, and then we finally agreed on "Support Our Troops*" for a name. Tomorrow, we will hold our first "Support Our Troops*" rally out at Fort Lewis, so I'm probably going to be up all night sewing swastikas onto U.S. flags."