Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some heart-breaking videos of Japan's tsunami earthquake nuclear disaster

Survivors of a kindergarten class hold their graduation ceremony in a shelter:

Survivors at a shelter post video messages, saying they are safe and asking after loved ones:

As funeral homes and crematoriums are overwhelmed, Japanese are forced to resort to bowling alleys and mass burial:

The news media just making things up

So Spanish tennis player David Ferrer blamed his poor play on indigestion, did not blame the crying child, and did not hit a ball anywhere near the crying child. But nonetheless the news media says the kid upset him, causing him to lose, and so he hit a ball at the child. Why even bother interviewing him if you've already decided what you're going to report?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fukushima nuclear reactor updates

Probably the single best source of information is the International Atomic Energy Agency's blog. You have to penetrate some technical jargon and officialese*, but it's less confusing than all the guest experts and their arm-waving speculations on the news channels.

*A choice example of officialese from today's post:

Local government officials briefed the FAO/IAEA Team on the extent of contamination in Tochigi, the principle agricultural products affected, the main production areas and production methods (greenhouses, open-air), levels of contamination found (principally in air, tap/ground water and vegetables) and imminent plans to monitor soil contamination. A field visit also took place to a spinach producer outside Utsanomiya City.

Based on these latest discussions with the Tochigi authorities, it is apparent that the focus of the Joint FAO/IAEA mission has changed to some extent from the mechanisms of contamination to remediation strategies and techniques related to plant and animal production, food traceability and water/soil characterization.

Translation: The radiation leaked, contaminated the Tochigi farms, and now the experts are going to have to figure out how to clean the area up.

Ground attack aircraft deployed to Libya

Call this The Hot Tub War, because we are slipping in, an inch at a time.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What would John Quincy Adams think of our Libya adventure?

Possibly this:

And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

ADDENDUM: Welcome! For some reason I'm getting an avalanche of traffic for this post. There's nothing here that isn't available else-web, so I don't know why everyone's landing here. But...welcome!

Monday, March 28, 2011

In the midst of disaster...

...the Japanese still have time and energy to be annoyed by things like this:

Someone is pausing in the fast lane, gumming up traffic. Someone else films & uploads it, deploring the hazard to the rest of traffic. And this is not the only such video I've seen these past two weeks. It is out of innumerable bricklets of judgmentalism like this that Japan's remarkable social cohesion is formed.

TEPCO briefing on Japanese TV

An interesting & informative news clip about the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor is playing on this English language Japanese channel, NHK World. If you've got broadband or faster, The World Wide Internet TV site is a great portal to the world.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Unwelcome: Muslims Next Door" on CNN

I understand how the townspeople in Murfreesboro who oppose the mosque must feel.

I also understand how the Muslims in that community must feel--those of them whose words may be taken at face value. I'm a born fence-sitter, I know.

I jotted down some reactions as I watched, and I guess I believe that things worked out for the best. The mosque obeyed the law & should be allowed to expand. The mosque also knows that the community is aware of what goes on in the world, in lands where Islam has the whip-hand, or where things are at a tipping point. I'm sure that many Muslims came to friendly, neighborly, down-home Murfreesboro to get away from the Islamocrazies. But there's a reason that Murfreesboro is friendly and neighborly to people of different faiths, and Islamic lands aren't.

The young university student laments that her religion was hijacked by the 9/11 bombers. Them, and 16,000+ other terrorists since then, all of whom we are instructed to believe are Lone Whackos perpetrating Isolated Incidents that have nothing, nnnnnozzing! to do with Islam (when we aren't forbidden to notice them at all). She's no doubt a fine, bright, open-hearted young woman--but it is America that made her so--not Islam.

Did I hear the imam correctly, that they raised the 300K for the expansion in "a fundraiser"? I call BS, and I hope someone investigates whether Saudi Wahabbhist money is being injected into that town. It's pretty brazen if it is.

And I would have appreciated a little more critical analysis of the mosque's leadership, rather than simply presenting it as a multi-culti image straight out of Central Casting. Saudi sponsorship of hardline imams abroad is not a myth, and ought to be more widely reported.

Someone reassured the audience that the Constitution prohibits sharia. If sharia refuses to recognize "man-made law" (never mind that we believe our rights come from our Creator), what will pious Muslims care about the Constitution?

The plaintiff's lawyer was ridiculous, trying to argue that Islam was not really a religion. Of course it is, even though it also incorporates a complete body of instruction on how to order politics. That line of argument was a nonstarter on its face.

Moral of the tale: Don't judge the Muslims you know by Islam, and don't judge Islam by the Muslims you know. Every grain in a sandstorm can say "Who, me?"

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yemen's dictator is treed up his pedestal

Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen’s president, has said he would be willing to hand over power to “safe hands”, as tens of thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters rallied in Sana’a, the capital.

“We don’t want power but we need to hand power over to safe hands, not to sick, resentful or corrupt hands,” Mr Saleh said in an address shown on state television on Friday.

Too late for that. After forty years of dictatorship, however mild or even benign, that whole country is lined up in support or opposition to him personally. There is no "loyal opposition", since there is no politics. Wracked by civil war, infested with al-Qaeda, and as ill-disposed to democracy as all other Arab states, Yemen will probably not become Luxembourg anytime soon. Still and all, as sure as gravity makes apples fall, we are seeing the manifestation of John F. Kennedy's precept:

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For parents, Scylla and Charybdis never seemed so large

I've been surfing assorted articles about "the pornification" of America (and Britain). Yes, steering children away from stuff like this is the parents' responsibility. However, parents used to be able to count on at least some support from the surrounding society. Instead, their values are mocked, their children's souls (& money) are angled for, and pop culture answers their objections with a brazen smirk. It's a lonely struggle, when you're outnumbered & out-gunned by greedy, sybaritic nihilists, for whom anything goes & therefore nothing matters except their own enrichment.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Glenn Gould - Bach - BWV 891 - Fugue

Happy birthday, J. S. Bach!

What to do about Muslims blocking French streets at prayer time?

En route to looking up something else, I chanced upon this Lebanese priest's insightful and helpful explanation of this phenomenon.

As we said, this is a common practice in Muslim countries. In fact, population growth, as well as a renewed religious fervor, has meant that the existing mosques and places of worship are not enough to contain all the faithful on Friday at noon. Given that this is the case in Muslim countries where the separation between state and religion is virtually nonexistent, the faithful have been in the habit of occupying sidewalks and streets near the mosques and of diverting traffic.

For over a decade, this practise has also developed in Europe, although it is perfectly illegal, since the street belongs to all pedestrians as well as motorists. This situation is recognized as totally unacceptable by all reasonable people, regardless of the principle of secularism. It becomes even more so, if one takes into account that these exceptions are no longer exceptional, since it takes place every Friday. And since this exception is applied to a specific religion, Islam, the impression of many is of an “invasion” of land, a kind of “conquest” of the national territory by the Muslims. There are no justifications for this occupation of public territory.

On the contrary, should a group of citizens (Muslims, Christians, or other religions) make an official request for an exceptional use of a public road for a limited time, for a party or ceremony, this would not pose a problem. It seems to me that the current situation does no more than reinforce and justify Islamophobic reactions. And this, in my opinion, is a fundamental point. It has become commonplace to speak, rightly and wrongly, of “Islamophobia.” Of course this may motivated by more or less racist reasons, which is totally unacceptable, even if it happens everywhere. However if people, in the name of the particular group to which they belong, behave in a manner contrary to the laws and rules of the land, or even to the traditions and customs, then, these people are responsible for the resulting negative responses. In this case, Muslims are partly to blame for the Islamophobia which is expanding throughout Europe. It is up to Muslims themselves to protest against those who cause these reactions and educate their co-religionists.

London School of Economics denounced Israel, took Libyan influence money

This news is stale even for my blog, I know. But when I heard that Col. Klink's son was a sugar-daddy of the London School of Economics, I immediately suspected that LSE had been active in the divestment movement against Israel (Motto: "Why don't those pesky Jews just agree to die, already?"). And this is indeed so. Sanctimonious proggy hypocrites...

Why I don't support eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts

The temptation to be a curmudgeon is hard to withstand. When a drama critic encounters a "Gay Fantasia" or an art critic encounters an exhibition of soiled teddy bears -- indeed when anyone trained in anything encounters the self-congratulatory work of someone trained in nothing -- it is very difficult to resist the temptation to lay back one's ears and bray.
-- J. Bottum

The NEA is a target-rich environment, nowadays. Their department heads should certainly be required to come up with savings from their budgets, same as everyone else. But despite all the offensive crap produced under its imprint over the decades, despite its perceived political biases at times, I think it should be preserved. The reason is that the fine arts in any society throughout history usually require patronage. The Renaissance geniuses had to be funded by various popes and nobility, for example. The Dutch Masters are an exception, mostly making their own way in the bourgeois markets of 17th century Holland. And there have been artists such as Pablo Picasso, John Singer Sargent and Andrew Wyeth who were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. But for the most part the arts require sponsorship, and in a democracy (especially one with a leftover 1930s ideal of democratic art) the sponsor is the government. People need art, no doubt about it, but in a pure market environment the job of the artist too often turns into trying to prove that people need his art.

“Art happens - no hovel is safe from it, no prince may depend upon it, the vastest intelligence cannot bring it about.”
-- James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Sure, but the rent ain't gonna pay itself. It's to be hoped that the directors of the endowing bodies have enough acumen and taste to weed imposters and charlatans, of course. And we've all heard of artworks that the public wasn't ready for at the time they premiered. But it is through such thickets and blind alleys as those, that art gropes its way forward--given the funding.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"The somethingorother-ization of Libya has begun"

Shots fired.

As it usually does in situations like this, my mind alighted on a historical parallel: The day in 1983 the U.S. decided to take a "hot" role in the Lebanese Civil War. The Marines had been rather popular, up until we decided to shell the Chouf Mountains. It was for the defense of the multi-national force, which was being plinked by the Druze militia. Still and all, the main result was that a couple of months later we wound up with 300+ dead Marines.

As for Libya? Maybe I'll have something more worthwhile to say later. Here's hoping for the safety of our military in the meantime.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Massacre in Yemen

Attention, multiculturalists: this is what most governments in most countries have been like throughout most of history. What little politics there is is simply a prelude to civil war. It is not one world, people are not all the same except for holidays, headgear and cuisine, and those of you who live in a First World free democracy should thank whatever you hold holy for it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The damage has been done, but... I suspected, James O'Keefe sting video of NPR's Ron Schiller was dishonestly edited. Even Glenn Beck's pundit farm The Blaze thinks so. This is a blood sport, and context is beside the point. But somewhere, Shirley Sherrod is wincing in disgust.

The monumental entitlement mentality of socialists

Egad, as Mr. Howell would say. The poor fellow has to cook noodles to spec in order to keep his job. Can the Triangle Shirt Factory fire be far behind? These people carry on as if they had anything, anything at all, to do with the Egyptian revolution. They think they are bold rebels against society, (i.e. the rest of us), when in fact they are its wards. And here's a splendid takedown of this mindset.

This is what happens when a god has no power. He gets grumpy because he is the self-adjudicating arbiter of right and wrong. And having been wronged, he seeks ‘social justice’ to rectify the wrong. But the effective material expression of his morality is thwarted because he has no power.

The god then seeks other powerless gods who share the same fellowship of perceived injustice, from which to draw enough collective power to alter the social reality.

They fully recognize their powerlessness, since they adopt a mantra amongst themselves whereby they must “speak truth to power”. The mantra becomes a feverish pitch as the gods en masse try to convince the others, the non-gods, that what you earn is really not yours to keep, that you owe them a debt because of their existence, that the producers of wealth are not entitled to any of it, and more….

Alas, reality can only be altered for a short duration. Truth has a way of correcting artificiality. Progressivism is all about altering reality to fit the demands made by the gods.

The moral of the story is that there are reasons why you should never give collective bargaining rights to the gods.

Which brings to mind Richard John Neuhaus' observation: "Socialism is the religion people get when they lose their religion." And Paul Johnson's:

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why aren't there (m)any Japanese looters in this disaster?

Andrew Sullivan links to a couple of think pieces here.

I'll succumb to the pleasures of playing amateur anthropologist only thus far: It seems to me that the force of social conformity in Japan, however complex it may be, is incredibly strong. While looking for recent tsunami or earthquake videos, I chanced upon a clip on YouTube showing a dashcam view of city traffic. The camera caught a bicyclist running a red light. This was apparently so egregious an outrage against the social contract that the video was posted online, and (if Google's translation widget is reliable) the cyclist roundly deplored. It is out of tiny bricklets of judgmentalism like that, that Japan's social cohesion is built.

Meanwhile, lots of predictable vileness appears in a google search, on some of the more prominent racist websites. For any "race realist" types who happen by, I'll just say this: If all you know about a group of people is what you see across a counter, through your windshield, or on the news, you don't really know that group of people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

More Japanese tsunami and earthquake videos....

Posted on my LiveLeak channel, found on YouTube with the help of Google's translation widget. If they don't display properly, double-click to view on LL.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Muslim Brotherhood hasn't seized power in Egypt just quite yet...

You can tell, because the Egyptian army is rebuilding a Coptic church destroyed by Muslims recently. Building or repairing churches is forbidden for dhimmis under Sharia law.

Teachers Unions "explained"....


And ha! again!

No to the no-fly zone over Libya--let them fight it out now

Col. Klink is Italy's creature, let them take care of him. Let them fix him up with a villa & some local lovelies in Portofino or some such, and then cut some deals with whoever is answering the phone in Tripoli.

I do not know who these rebels are. Maybe they are democrats, maybe they are al Qaeda/Mahg­reb division. But after Somalia, I know that libs don't have the follow-thr­ough necessary to finish any war that their flamin' "conscienc­es" get us into. I know that if we are shown video of our dead soldiers being dragged through streets of howling mobs that we were trying to help, libs will barely stifle a yawn.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Japanese are made of sterner stuff than breathless American onlookers

Well said. No doubt there are a lot of tears being shed privately, in the wake of this earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactor meltdown crisis. But if this happened in, say, California, the first thing to arrive would be a plane load of “grief counselors”.

Some more Japanese earthquake video, uploaded from cellphones

Train stations, airports, canals, and roadways all feel the earth's wrath.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin Republicans, win collective bargaining fight.

Some bare knuckle politics on display. Unions fund and vote for Democrats. Democrats protect and reward unions. "Bargaining" implies some kind of adversarial negotiation, which is not what is happening with Dems and public sector unions' quid pro quo relationship. I would have thought that this long-overdue backlash would have taken place in a state like New York, where the government employee unions are more expensive and arrogant. But, like Mark Twain once said, a thing long expected takes the form of the unexpected when at last it comes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011


To single out one tragedy from among the many thousands: Shutterbugs, take note of the photographer who was swept away while standing along the Klamath River. Nature is not an IMAX theater.

Mistreatment of journalists in Libya

Getting cuffed around by the police or an angry mob is bad enough. But a mock execution? What is that suppose to accomplish? Or is it just force of habit on the part of the regime's bully boys?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

James O'Keefe punks NPR executive...or does he?

He's released a video that supposedly shows Ron Schiller, the former head of NPR’s nonprofit foundation, bashing conservatives and embracing the goal of spreading acceptance of sharia. He's seen speaking to a fictitious Muslim group, who let drop that they are really a front group for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Well, this scenario fits in well with a number of my own political inclinations and attitudes: NPR uber-lib cozies up to radical Muslims while bashing conservative fellow Americans. But, that's when you have to be most skeptical, so that you don't fall for something from the Too Good To Check file. And James O'Keefe has perpetrated so many previous stunts like this that turned out not to be what they were represented to be, that I will wait for copious corroboration before I believe this one. You can only have one reputation at a time, and unfortunately "credible" isn't James O'Keefe's at the moment.

Michelle Malkin's missing cousin

Our best wishes go out to her & her family. Marizela Perez is reported missing in the Seattle area. That's a continent away from me, but maybe this little notice will help in some way.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The dictator's megaphone

Like his mentor Stalin, North Korea's Li'l Kim knows how to use the arts to entrench his autocratic rule. Sergei Eisenstein was a cinematic genius, but that didn't make him any less of a tool of the communist regime.

Legislation to outlaw Sharia law

Has it really come to this? In America?

If I were a state legislator, trying to allay a clamoring constituency concerned about creeping sharia, I'd pass a resolution. Not a law, a resolution. It would be sufficient for purposes of re-asserting the primacy of American law over sharia law, without having to generate a lot of expensive, possible ineffective, and most probably embarrassing, enforcement.

The language of the resolution could simply state that the laws enacted by the democratically-elected government of (your state here) are the law of the land, and any laws passed by any religious body have no standing or effect against them. There are doubtless problems with that wording, but then I'm no lawyer. But it could be worded to make it clear that polygamy, wife-beating, honor-killing, keeping household slaves, funding or otherwise supporting terrorist groups, or letting little boys whip themselves with razors during Ashura are all right out of the question in our land and under our laws.

And, to come clean, I should say that I believe these matters are due to be clarified, after decades of multiculturalism. Some years ago the Canadian province of Ontario toyed with the idea of permitting sharia law to be practiced there. They dropped the idea, in part because of the protests of otherwise liberal Muslim women activists like Alia Hogben. She knew what would be in store for Muslim women if fundamentalist Muslim men were given the whip hand. The Land Of The Free should do no less.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Happy birthday, Chicago!

The trivia widget to the left says that the city of Chicago was founded on this day in 1837. So, here are some quotes and a video I made some time back. Click through to YouTube for the non-chopped-off-at-the-right-side version. Enjoy!

This is a great uninteresting place.
-- Matthew Arnold, letter to Miss Arnold, 23 January 1884

I like it in spite of lake-wind sharpness and prairie
flatness, damp tunnels, swinging bridges, hard water, and easy
divorces...A lady from the East lately said of it, very charmingly,
"It is New York with the heart left in.'
-- Grace Greenwood, _New Life in New Lands_, 1873

Nelson Algren says living there is like being married to a
woman with a broken nose: there may be lovelier lovelies, but never a
lovely so real.
-- Stephen Fay, _Sunday Times_, 13 January 1980

Satan: (impatiently), to new-comer: The trouble with you
Chicago people is, that you think you are the best people down here;
whereas you are merely the most numerous.
-- Mark Twain, "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar", in _More
Tramps Abroad_, 1897

Chicago is as full of crooks as a saw with teeth.
-- John Gunther, _Inside U.S.A._, 1947

Chicago is Olympian freak, a fable, an
allegory, an incomprehensible phenomenon...monstrous, multifarous,
unnatural, indomitable, puissant, preposterous, transcendent...throw
the dictionary at it!
-- Julian Street, _Abroad at Home_, 1914

So it goes on mile after mile--Chicago...It was like a
prolonged, enlarded mingling of the south side of London with all that
is bleak and ugly in the Black Country. It is the most perfect
presentation of nineteenth century individualistic industrialism I
have ever seen--in its vast, its magnificent squalor; it is pure
nineteenth century; it had no past at all before that; in 1800 it was
empty prairie, and one marvels for its future.
-- H. G. Wells, _The Future in America_, 1906

Mike Huckabee criticizes Natalie Portman's single motherhood

He's right, but... Really, this battle was fought and lost generations ago. There is supposed to be a quote, attributed to George Bernard Shaw, along the lines of "Morals are for the middle class. The rich don't need them and the poor can't afford them."
It'll take more than scolding by values politicians to rebuild the family in America. Still and all, even though I know that "life happens", I can't help but wince in disgust when I hear a single mother, of any income level, go on about how much they care for their children. They would give them anything, anything at all, except for a father who's married to the mother.

Graph explanation here.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Harvard to lift fatwa against ROTC on campus

How about that. Good riddance to the ban. Brings to mind John Updike's sneer against the anti-war movement of the 60s. It was large part a snobbish dismissal of Johnson by the Eastern establishment. Cambridge professors and Manhattan lawyers and their guitar-strumming children thought they could run the country and the world better than this lugubrious bohunk from Texas. These privileged members of a privileged nation believed that their pleasant position could be maintained without anything visibly ugly happening in the world. They were full of aesthetic disdain for their own defenders.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

2 US airmen killed in shooting at Frankfurt airport

48 hour rule. But if, as rumor has it, this is Isolated Incident Perpetrated By Lone Whacko That Has Nothing To Do With Islam #16,279, then it goes to show (once again) that the front line in this war is everywhere.