Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nanny statism strikes again

Financially, California is over the guardrails and plunging down the cliff side towards the rocks and booming surf. Businesses and productive citizens are fleeing as fast as their U-Hauls can take them. So, the stewards of Santa Clara felt that this was high time to do something about...Happy Meals. Nevermind how popular McDonalds is with people of all ages. The granola-gobbling hippies (I can't help but presume) running that county have deemed that the public cannot be trusted to use their own judgment of what to put into their reckless tummies.

Happy Meal toys and other promotions that come with high-calorie children's meals will soon be banned in parts of Santa Clara County unless the restaurants meet nutritional guidelines approved Tuesday by the county Board of Supervisors.

"This ordinance prevents restaurants from preying on children's' love of toys" to sell high-calorie, unhealthful food, said Supervisor Ken Yeager, who sponsored the measure. "This ordinance breaks the link between unhealthy food and prizes."

Legislation like this is not intended to right any wrong. It is not intended to ameliorate any ill, although it is necessarily pitched as such. Rather, it is intended to remake the world more to the suiting of people who feel it to be their calling to remake the world. Just because. It's a picture-perfect example of what has been termed Punitive Liberalism, a way to cut down to size one of those big players that everyone hates, except for the public.

We are frequently told by our new masters that we simply don't understand our place in the functioning of society. In former times, it would have been this kind of society that didn't understand its place in the functioning of us. Yet, here we are. They won.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Goldman Sachs Senate Hearings

The fat cats have been bawled out by the Senators, and are now testifying. Their statements remind me of the saying, "Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Rock Bloggage

I saw some of this Canned Heat performance from 1973 on Comcast's On Demand channel a couple of months ago. Now here they are on YouTube. Nothing brings back the early 70 like a group of furballs moaning the blues, especially when accompanied by a blues legend. Great stuff!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What I saw at the revolution...

"Now he was master of China. His coming [to Hangzhou, near Shanghai] had been suitably prepared. A famous turn-of-the-century estate called Water and Bamboo had been picked for him. It was adorned with ponds and bamboo groves, and vines and palm trees, and enjoyed a panoramic view over the Western Lake. Villas next to it, and the hills behind it, were all incorporated into a single enormous estate, covering 36 hectares. The hill behind was hollowed out to provide a nuclear shelter. Mao stayed in an exquisite building, combining classical Chinese and exotic foreign styles, with pillars, doors and decorations which had been lovingly shipped in piece by piece by the original owner. But shortly afterwards, Mao had it torn down and replaced with his usual nondescript identikit structure. The creaking of the old timber had rattled his nerves with thoughts about assassins. He only felt safe in a reinforced concrete bunker."
-- Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Rock Bloggage

A funny mashup of The Beatles and the spoof group The Rutles:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The morality of communism?!?!?

So the other day I clicked onto P.Z. Myers' Pharyngula blog and read this entry, about a three-way presentation featuring him, a liberal priest, and a communist. My eyebrows shot up on that bit alone. Not that he consented to share the air with the priest, but with a communist. Communism is the most murderous form of government ever devised, vengefully doing away with more of humanity than all the inquisitions and such in all of history. I would have refused to appear on such a program, or would have ripped off my lapel mike and walked off, upon learning that a co-speaker was a proponent of such a system. By now I know you can't argue with an epiphany. Everyone rightfully execrates race hatred and ethnic hatred. However, it's class hatred that has racked up the big league body count in this past century.

Dr. Myers was milder, and more ambivalent:

[Sunsara] Taylor's position was very similar in a lot of ways — that we need to change the world through liberation of the oppressed, and the way to do that was through revolutionary Communism. In her case, though, the philosophical justification wasn't at all superfluous — Communism was the best strategy for bringing about change. We had a little set of questions we'd worked out before the event, and she had the advantage of us all in providing the most coherent answers to them…I just don't think she's entirely right. I don't like the idea of a revolution led by a vanguard, I'm more of an evolution driven by the education and inspiration of the masses kind of guy.

It's as if he's unaware that communism isn't a hypothetical thing. It existed. It held the reins of government in many countries. It killed tens of millions of people, and ruined the lives of tens of millions more, and warped the inner lives of tens of millions more than that. This happened.

Oh, turns out he is aware:

I find it a little hard to excuse some of the human costs of communism, but then science also has had human costs.

If you want to call that weak tea "awareness." I know nothing of Dr. Myers' personal politics, and so will not speculate. But for someone who bangs on so much about the depredations of Christianity over the centuries, there's no valid reason for him to soft pedal the exponentially greater harm done by communism.

He continues:

The quest for social justice is a humanist ideal, and it's also front and center in communism and liberal religion; you can be either of those and also be a humanist. I wouldn't exactly call them complementary, but I would call them compatible.

It's as if he has never heard of the monstrosity known as Lysenkoism, wherein science most certainly did conflict with communism. And came out quite the loser, in fact. Could Dr. Myers envision himself among the scientists in the communist era, being required to sign declarations denouncing colleagues that had been singled out for victimization by the Party? Could he imagine seeing colleagues be executed for having taken an insufficiently marxist opinion of the formation of sunspots? Could he imagine himself having to parrot the precepts of "scientific marxism" at political indoctrination sessions? Could he imagine himself fleeing for his life to the West, once his life became unbearable under communism? Incredible...

Scrolling through the comments, I see that some of these same facts are known to a few of his commenters. There's also a few people floating once again the lie that Lenin's communism was a good idea perverted by his successor Stalin. No. The only difference was in degree. Stalin upped the body count thanks to his longer reign. It was the fulfillment, not the perversion, of the original revolution. Few of them seem to have any problem with the fundamental premise that there are people worthy, booted and spurred, to ride their fellows in the cause of "changing the world". And why is that? Who are they to change the world? It was here first. They'll have to present more credentials than their own ignorance of history.

Finding and verifying quotations on the web

Try to use a proprietary database like LitFinder, if you have access to one. If you're stuck searching the web though, here's a way to improve your chances. Google your phrase or keywords, and add "filetype:pdf". This will exclude all the html web sources like Brainyquote and ThinkExist, which are not rigorously sourced. The resulting pdf files will often be from actual print publications, wherein you will have a better chance of finding a solid source. You can also do filetype:txt, which will net you online texts from The Gutenberg Project and similar sources.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Freaknik returns to Atlanta

Grrr, these aren't displaying properly. Click on the pics for the full view.

It probably won't be so gigantic as it was in the 90s. But the black students' spring break was a huge phenomenon back then. There were so many thousands of kids, cruising the downtown streets, videotaping each other. Atlanta was not equipped to handle so many partiers, unlike a more traditional spring break destination like Daytona Beach. And also, let's face it, a lot of the commuters from the topside 'burbs were creeped out at being stuck in the middle of such vast crowds of black people. Nevermind that it was the local thugs who caused most of the actual trouble.

Anyway, I hope the city is better prepared this time, and that all involved have a great holiday. Here are some pictures I took of Freaknik in the 90s.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Income Tax Day!

England, however, as it has never been blessed with a very parsimonious government, so parsimony has at no time been the characteristical virtue of its inhabitants. It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expense, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expense, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.
-- Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Conclusions of the report on the Climate Research Unit & their data handling

Via Stoat science blog

Conclusions1. We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it. Rather we found a small group of dedicated if slightly disorganised researchers who were ill-prepared for being the focus of public attention. As with many small research groups their internal procedures were rather informal.

2. We cannot help remarking that it is very surprising that research in an area that depends so heavily on statistical methods has not been carried out in close collaboration with professional statisticians. Indeed there would be mutual benefit if there were closer collaboration and interaction between CRU and a much wider scientific group outside the relatively small international circle of temperature specialists.

3. It was not the immediate concern of the Panel, but we observed that there were important and unresolved questions that related to the availability of environmental data sets. It was pointed out that since UK government adopted a policy that resulted in charging for access to data sets collected by government agencies, other countries have followed suit impeding the flow of processed and raw data to and between researchers. This is unfortunate and seems inconsistent with policies of open access to data promoted elsewhere in government.

4. A host of important unresolved questions also arises from the application of Freedom of Information legislation in an academic context. We agree with the CRU view that the authority for releasing unpublished raw data to third parties should stay with those who collected it.
Submitted to the University 12 April 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

A quote by Marcus Aurelius

Think of the myriad enmities that have vanished with the men who held them and fret no more.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What can Israel do for Holocaust survivors?

Slip 'em a little folding money:

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, the cabinet is slated to approve in its Sunday meeting a significant reduction in electricity prices for 7,180 needy Shoah survivors. According to the plan, the State will fund about half the cost of each survivor's first 400 kWh. The percentage of the final reduction will be determined by the ministers of welfare, finance and infrastructure along with the Electricity Authority.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My first automotivational poster

Finally got around to playing with this gadget. I don't even remember where I went to produce it. The photo is ripped off from Britain's Daily Mirror. You're welcome to it, just shoot me a little link love, if you would.


In the small Southern town I grew up in, there is a monument, erected in the mid-1930s. It is a memorial to the men from that town who lost their lives in "The World War", i.e., WWI. There is an alphabetical list of names down the front, and another list of alphabetical names down the back. At the top of the back list, there is a gouge, where an engraving has been erased. Know what it used to say, before it was chiseled out?

It used to say "Colored".

That's what racism is, and that's the attitude and practice that was beaten out of the hearts of most people during the Civil Rights Movement. The academic vice of screaming louder and louder over less and less just trivializes the real battles that came before.

How much do people need to know about politicians' private lives?

Would Britain have won World War II faster if the public had known that Winston Churchill ate nine bananas a day? This segment from a British chat show concerns an incident where Prime Minister Gordon Brown wept during an interview.

Former National Review columnist Florence King used to deplore this sort of sentimentality years ago. Emotional incontinence, indeed. If she's still on the scene somewhere, no doubt she'd be agreeably appalled to see this American phenomenon spreading to Britain.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Newsweek: Catholic priests are no more pedophiliac than anyone else.

The priesthood is being cast as the refuge of pederasts. In fact, priests seem to abuse children at the same rate as everyone else.

That isn't the alibi I'd care to be sporting, if I were a priest. They are held to higher expectations that "everyone else", after all. Yet, so desperate are the defenders of the Catholic Church for good press, that as of this writing New Advent has this headline at the top of their webpage, emblazoned in Victory In Europe point font. I don't think they realize how sordid or at least sad their trumpeting of this story make them look.

"...the closer approximation of knowledge and aspiration"

"It is absolutely certain that the world will once again some day achieve what it has often had and often lost--the closer approximation of knowledge and aspiration--so that its religious system may satisfy the soul of the saint without disgusting the intellect of the scholar. What is uncertain is whether this achievement will be made by any form of organised Christianity or is reserved for some movement which cannot at present be recognised."
-- Kirsopp Lake, Landmarks in the History of Early Christianity, 1920

That was 90 years ago, where do we stand now? And what are our prospects?

A bit of good advice from C. H. Spurgeon...

...who was a theologian in Britain about 150 years ago. This quote boosted from here.

“A man who is to do much with men must love them and feel at home with them. An individual who has no geniality about him had better be an undertaker and bury the dead, for he will never succeed in influencing the living. . . . A man must have a great heart, if he would have a great congregation. His heart should be as capacious as those noble harbors along our coast, which contain sea-room for a fleet. When a man has a large, loving heart, men go to him as ships to a haven and feel at peace when they have anchored under the lee of his friendship. Such a man is hearty in private as well as in public; his blood is not cold and fishy but he is warm as your own fireside. No pride and selfishness chill you when you approach him; he has his doors all open to receive you, and you are home with him at once. Such men I would persuade you to be, every one of you.”

C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to my Students

You needn't be a pastor to put this advice to good use. Almost any daily contact with the public at large will go the better for it.

Rainbow Eucalyptus

What in the world could cause nature to produce this?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Jawa Report and the Mudville Gazette...

...take down the Wikileaks narrative of the helicopter attack on insurgents. Here and here and here.

We've come too far to let the news media lose this war for us now, as they long to do like their sainted Vietnam War predecessors did.

P. J. O'Rourke on foreign aid, from World Affairs Journal

A hundred years ago, when foreign aid was unthought-of (except as a tribute or bribe), we were a respected and admired country. After a century of philanthropy, everyone hates our guts.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A laser that traces boundaries, physical and drawn

I don't see a way of embedding this clip, so click here:

"That's our neighbor!"

The proprietors of Froynlaven make a discovery on Oscar night:

Yep. Turns out, the guy that lives two doors down won for best cinematography for Avatar. Go fig. We've waved a couple of times, but that's about it. His trash barrels look a lot like ours. However, now when I see his trash barrels, I will see the barrels of someone who has won an Academy Award.

Those are some amazing barrels.

Mark Twain

"A thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Farewell to my account at Little Green Footballs

Today I have come to the end of the road with LGF, where I've been a regular commenter since summer of '02. I was canceled for my defense of a notorious cartoon posted by a guest blogger over at Protein Wisdom, where I've been a regular commenter since '02 and a guest blogger since '06. The cartoon post & my response was too much for Charles and several others, and so, once some other commenters brought it to his attention, my account was revoked.

I will keep LGF in my blogroll over there, because it is still one of the best forums out there for conservatives and liberals to meet & interact on even terms. Not being willing to overstate my significance in the grand scheme of things, I would have to say that this is still true even with my absence.

I won't be showing up on any quote-unquote stalker blogs, in case anyone's interested. Which is not at all the same thing as avoiding ex-LGFers, since there are so, so many of them out there.

So, to all lizardoids, fair winds and following seas.

Addendum: Looking more closely, it seems that Charles was unaware until now that I had been posting at PW, and that that by itself would have been the deal-breaker. Kind of strange, since I never hid my comings and goings, posting everywhere under my own nic, and have stuck to pretty much the same political sites for the better part of ten years. So, it looks like the law of averages caught up to me.

I still stand by the rest of this post, though. YMMV.

Monday, April 05, 2010

100 Chinese miners rescued

An unexpected ending to the usual depressing set-piece. Over 100 miners rescued after being trapped for a week in a flooded Chinese mine. A nice change of pace from the usual narrative, from the Land Of Disposable Labor.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

In which G. K. Chesterton foresees much of the 20th Century

This is the whole danger of our time. There is a difference between the oppression which has been too common in the past and the oppression which seems only too probable in the future. Oppression in the past, has commonly been an individual matter. The oppressors were as simple as the oppressed, and as lonely. The aristocrat sometimes hated his inferiors; he always hated his equals. The plutocrat was an individualist. But in our time even the plutocrat has become a Socialist. They have science and combination, and may easily inaugurate a much greater tyranny than the world has ever seen.
-- from All Things Considered, 1908

Friday, April 02, 2010

On recent ugly developments in certain blog wars...

Before thou reprehend another, take heed thou art not culpable in what thou goest about to reprehend. He that cleanses with blotted fingers makes a greater blur.
-- Francis Quarles

When the elephants fight, it's the grass that is trampled.
-- African proverb

Contre la Frenglish!

One of the never-ending chores of the Académie Française is policing the French language of all the borrowed English barbarisms that keep sneaking in. It's been going on for decades, as English solidified its hold as the world's language. Now here they are again, voting on French equivalents for Internet Age terms.

Years ago I read of a similar effort, for a similar reason. How were they going to accomplish it? "Avec un task-force."

Health Care Reform: the worms in the apple emerge

MSNBC tries to debunk objections to the HCR law. The headline says "myths", but they're forced to admit that most of them have something to them. "Partially not true". "Mostly false". Squirm baby, squirm...

Update: Over the course of the day, they changed "myths" to "fears". Smart media liberals...

Happy Good Friday

"Romantic love is blind to everything except what is lovable and lovely, but Christ’s love sees us with terrible clarity and sees us whole. Christ’s love so wishes our joy that it is ruthless against everything in us that diminishes our joy. The worst sentence Love can pass is that we behold the suffering which Love has endured for our sake, and that is also our acquittal. The justice and mercy of the judge are ultimately one."
-- Frederick Buechner

Via Lent & Beyond.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Another liberal arts major enters the job market...

In 1594, being then seventeen years of age, I finished my courses of philosophy and was struck with the mockery of taking a degree in arts. I therefore thought it more profitable to examine myself and I perceived that I really knew nothing worth knowing. I had only to talk and wrangle and therefore refused the title of master of arts, there being nothing sound or true that I was master of. I turned my thoughts to medicine and learned the emptiness of books. I went abroad and found everywhere the same deep-rooted ignorance.
-- Jan-Baptista Van Helmont, 1648 (a posthumous collection of works), in Jacques Barzun's _From Dawn to Decadence_, 2000