Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Running on Fumes: Books: The New Yorker

Running on Fumes: Books: The New Yorker: "The average new car gets fewer miles to the gallon than Henry Ford’s Model T got."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

David Ignatius - Walking Into Iran's Trap - washingtonpost.com

David Ignatius - Walking Into Iran's Trap - washingtonpost.com: "Many Arabs argue that the Iranians actually want America to attack. Politically, that would help the hard-liners rally support. And militarily, it would lure the United States onto a battlefield where its immense firepower wouldn't do much good. The Iranians could withdraw into the maze of their homeland and keep firing off their missiles -- exacting damage on the West's economy and, most important, its will to fight. That's the lesson for Muslim warriors of the Iraq and Lebanon wars: Draw your adversaries deep into terrain that you control; taunt them into starting a war they can't finish. I'm told that the Syrian military, for example, is now changing its doctrine to fight an asymmetric guerrilla war against Israel that it can win, Hezbollah-style, rather than a conventional war it would certainly lose."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

book notes: Until Proven Innocent by Stuart Taylor and KC Johnson

In the 80's and 90's, Duke wanted to build up some departments into #1 or #2 status. It's really expensive to do that with science departments, so Duke tried to get high prestige on the cheap by building up the English Department and other humanities. That involved recruiting some major left-wing loonies (i.e. Stanley Fish)

Nifong would not meet with the complainant/rape accuser or the defense attorneys because he already knew early on that the Lacrosse players were innocent. Exposing himself to exculpatory evidence would increase chances of disbarment and lawsuits against him later on.

"It was only because the Duke defendants had extraordinarily talented, hard working and expensive lawyers that the Nifong-Meehan DNA cover-up conspiracy was ever cracked. In this and other respects the lacrosse case opened a window into how helpless the vast majority of criminal defendants are when in the hands of unscrupulous and overzealous prosecutors."

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Suicide Is Not Painless - New York Times

Suicide Is Not Painless - New York Times: "As the investigative reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele observed in the October Vanity Fair, America has to date “spent twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars to rebuild Iraq as it did to rebuild Japan — an industrialized country three times Iraq’s size, two of whose cities had been incinerated by atomic bombs.” (And still Iraq lacks reliable electric power.)"

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

George F. Will - The Unforgotten Man - washingtonpost.com

George F. Will - The Unforgotten Man - washingtonpost.com: "John Edwards, too, has puzzling ideas. For the entertainment of Iowans, he has reinvented himself as a 19th-century Kansan -- Mary Elizabeth Lease, the prairie populist who urged farmers to 'raise less corn and more hell.' In August, Edwards urged an Iowa audience to throw off Washington's yoke: 'We need to take the power out of the hands of these insiders that are rigging the system against you.' To measure how much Iowans are suffering from the rigging, Stephen Slivinski of the libertarian Cato Institute was asked to mine the most recent Census Bureau data. He concluded that Iowans paid $15.6 billion in revenue to the federal government and got $19.4 billion back, a gain of $1,286.53 per Iowan."

the Larry Craig interview

The Daily Dish: "He grew up in a different time, and a different place, where even the possibility of being gay was inconceivable. I don't think he even thinks of himself as gay, or has any idea what being gay might actually mean. I think he thinks of his sexual orientation as a 'lifestyle' (to use that hideous term Lauer kept referring to) that can be overcome the way one overcomes smoking or poor eating or sexual compulsion. And he constructed an identity in opposition to this 'lifestyle' early, out of pain and defensiveness and terrible fear. He is now wedded to this life he created - more than to his wife, which is why she was kept in the dark for two months after the arrest, as he went through the terror of feeling caught finally in his own contradiction. He cannot break free of it at this point without psychic collapse. And so, even though it becomes absurd to everyone around them, the Craigs keep going. They have no choice, apart from total breakdown."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How Osama Bin Laden Beat George W. Bush

How Osama Bin Laden Beat George W. Bush: "You get what you pay for, and, today, Afghanistan resembles nothing so much as Iraq in the fall of 2003, when the descent into chaos began. In 2006, IED attacks doubled, assaults on international forces tripled, and suicide bombings quintupled. In fact, last year saw the highest number of U.S. military and nato casualties since the fall of the Taliban. And 2007 is shaping up to be even worse, with suicide bombings up 69 percent from last year."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Vatican priest caught in TV sex sting - Times Online

Vatican priest caught in TV sex sting - Times Online: "Yesterday he claimed that he was pretending to be gay in an attempt to unmask a Satanic plot to seduce Catholic priests to homosexuality and thus discredit the Church. “I only pretended I was gay to study how priests are seduced,” said Mgr Stenico, a frequent guest on television programmes discussing religious issues. “There are people who go after them . . . I really believe there is a diabolical plan by groups of Satanists.” Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

What the F***? Why We Curse

What the F***? Why We Curse: "The most likely explanation is that these grammatically baffling curses originated in more intelligible religious curses during the transition from religious to sexual and scatological swearing in English-speaking countries:
Who (in) the hell are you? >> Who the fuck are you?
I don't give a damn >> I don't give a fuck; I don't give a shit.
Holy Mary! >> Holy shit! Holy fuck!
For God's sake >> For fuck's sake; For shit's sake.
Damn you! >> Fuck you!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

The absurdity of "hate crimes"

Gay Defense Fails in NY Hate Crime -- Newsday.com: "Prosecutors said Fortunato and three other young men hatched a hate-inspired robbery scheme after they ran out of drugs and money on a weekend night. The group needed an easy victim, and Fortunato suggested they look for one in an Internet chat room frequented by gay men looking for sex partners, authorities alleged. They logged on and found Sandy, lured him out to Brooklyn's Plum Beach with a promise of a date and attacked him, prosecutors told jurors. Fortunato testified that he had a role in the crime but said hate had nothing to do with it. The 21-year-old said he was also gay, or at least bisexual. Jurors also heard testimony from three men who told of one-night stands with Fortunato. Prosecutors argued that under state hate crimes law, they didn't have to prove that Sandy's attackers hated gay men, only that they picked their victim because of his sexual orientation."

So the robbers are prosecuted for hate crime because, rather than robbing an old lady who happened to be walking down the sidewalk, they robbed a guy who was cruising for sex in a gay chat room.

The Daily Dish

The Daily Dish: "As for the matter at hand, the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, I was told two decades ago that this was the non-negotiable number one priority for gay Americans, that gay people couldn't afford to fight for marriage equality or military service or anything else until this vital law passed. I was told to shut up about everything else in order to support this central goal. The Human Rights Campaign raked in tens of millions of dollars over twenty years with this message (while the private sector, with HRC's help, actually enacted many legal protections for gay employees, and while the debates about marriage and military service transformed the movement, in the face of HRC's opposition). But now ... not so much. The transgendered movement is so important that it's worth subjecting gay people to many more years of employment insecurity. Not so urgent, after all, is it? Gay people in red states without employment protection have to wait while pomo lefty activists in cushy gay lobby jobs preen about p.c. purity. I'm no big supporter of ENDA and don't truly believe it will make much of a difference. Nonetheless, holding it up for transgendered inclusion after two decades of waiting seems bizarre even for the p.c. hell that is the gay rights establishment. I can't believe I'm with Barney Frank on this one. But I am."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Daily Dish

The Daily Dish: "The freedom to say what you truly believe is already beleaguered in Britain. But the gay rights movement in the country is squelching it some more. I don't see how free speech is divisible. If some gays want the right to walk down a high street in a harness, more power to them. But on what grounds should they then object to the public speech of bigots or merely traditional Christians? The idea that gay people - of all people - should be infringing on the rights of others to express themselves freely is extremely depressing. You'd think these people would remember that free speech was once about the only right gay people had. But they don't. The bossy p.c. left still controls the gay establishment. And the intolerance that is intrinsic to the hard left often shows.

The Assassination of Jesse James is the Best Movie of 2007 (So Far)

The Assassination of Jesse James is the Best Movie of 2007 (So Far): "n the end, though, it is the thematic richness of Dominik's film that makes it not only the best film of the year so far but a strong contender for the greatest Western since Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West nearly 40 years ago. Like most modern variations on the genre, The Assassination takes the form of an elegy, not merely for the Old West but for the Western itself. Yet Dominik succeeds in conjuring a sense of loss deeper than that of era or genre: the loss of the belief, naive but nonetheless sustaining, that giants might still walk the earth. In Once Upon a Time in the West, the gunmen who once bestrode the American wilderness were pushed aside by commerce and technology, the relentless encroach of civilization. In Dominik's more melancholy telling, they were laid to rest by wannabes, boys with picture books and pop guns and a gnawing hunger for notoriety. After Ford shoots James, he briefly becomes a national icon--more recognized, for a time, than the president--but it is an empty, parasitic fame, the ghost-twin of James's legend. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is the story of this transition, of the moment in America when myth was murdered by mere celebrity and we were left, perhaps forever, with only the latter's meager consolations."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Al Gore told there are nine inconvienient truths in his film - Times Online

Al Gore told there are nine inconvienient truths in his film - Times Online:
"Error one Al Gore: A sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland “in the near future”. The judge’s finding: “This is distinctly alarmist and part of Mr Gore’s ”wake-up call“. It was common ground that if Greenland melted it would release this amount of water - “but only after, and over, millennia.”

Error two Gore: Low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls are already “being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.”
Judge: There was no evidence of any evacuation having yet happened.

Error three Gore: The documentary described global warming potentially “shutting down the Ocean Conveyor” - the process by which the Gulf Stream is carried over the North Atlantic to western Europe. Judge: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it was “very unlikely” it would be shut down, though it might slow down.

Error four Gore: He asserted - by ridiculing the opposite view - that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed “an exact fit”. Judge: Although there was general scientific agreement that there was a connection, “the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts”.

Error five Gore: The disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to global warming. Judge: This “specifically impressed” David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, but the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established that the recession of snows on Mt Kilimanjaro is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

Error six Gore: The drying up of Lake Chad was used in the film as a prime example of a catastrophic result of global warming, said the judge. Judge: “It is generally accepted that the evidence remains insufficient to establish such an attribution. It is apparently considered to be far more likely to result from other factors, such as population increase and over-grazing, and regional climate variability.”

Error seven Gore: Hurricane Katrina and the consequent devastation in New Orleans to global warming. Judge: There is “insufficient evidence to show that”.

Error eight Gore: Referred to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears were being found that had actually drowned “swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice”. Judge: “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm." That was not to say there might not in future be drowning-related deaths of bears if the trend of regression of pack ice continued - “but it plainly does not support Mr Gore’s description”.

Error nine Gore: Coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors. Judge: The IPCC had reported that, if temperatures were to rise by 1-3 degrees centigrade, there would be increased coral bleaching and mortality, unless the coral could adapt. But separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution was difficult.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


"Were the expense of war to be defrayed always by a revenue raised within the year . . . wars would in general be more speedily concluded, and less wantonly undertaken."

-- Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations"

"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner] ... I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country," - George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Talking Points Memo | The Genius of Larry Craig, Senator

Talking Points Memo | The Genius of Larry Craig, Senator: "Let's review, news breaks that Craig, a social conservative and strong opponent of gay rights, got nabbed for propositioning a man for sex in a public restroom -- a misdemeanor to which he later pleaded guilty. That's just a bad news day. So Craig's fellow Republicans basically do everything short of physically forcing him to resign. He 'resigns'. Only it's not a resignation. Rather, it's a rather ingenious ploy to let the temperature ease off on the story, a post-dated resignation. Then it's not a resignation. He's going to fight the guilty plea -- something of a novelty in the annals of jurisprudence. He'll stay in office if he can get his plea withdrawn. And now he can't get his guilty plea withdrawn so, well, too bad. He's staying anyway. I don't know whether it was all intentional. But it was ingenious. Who could have thought he would survive this?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The transgender fiasco - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth

The transgender fiasco - AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth: "I think that the transgender community was added to ENDA the same way the T got added on to the LGB. By force, and attrition, rather than by popular demand. I remember being at the beach with a bunch of gay friends about 6 or 7 years ago. There was an Advocate or OUT magazine on the table and it was open to some article about the transgender community. The details of the discussion now elude me, but I remember there being a lively debate about just how and when transexuals became part of the gay community, and vice versa - the consensus was that nobody knew how it happened, and nobody was quite sure that they agreed with the inclusion. Now zoom forward to today. We've heard a lot of anger from every single gay group on the planet, save HRC, that gender identity is being dropped from ENDA in order to save the bill. We've also heard from a number of vocal activists. But when I speak to friends and colleagues privately, senior members of the gay political/journalistic establishment, and just plain old gay friends around the country (and our own readers), the message I hear is far different from what I'm hearing from the groups. I'm clearly hearing three things. Well, four:
1. I feel empathy for transgendered people, and support their struggle for civil rights.
2. I want ENDA to pass this year even if we can't include transgendered people.
3. I don't understand when transgendered people became part of the gay community?

And then there's always #4: Please don't tell anyone I told you this."

Et Tu, Toyota? - New York Times

Et Tu, Toyota? - New York Times: "Thanks to the Michigan delegation, U.S. mileage standards for passenger car fleets have been frozen at 27.5 miles per gallon since 1985. Light trucks are even worse. The Senate energy bill calls for U.S. automakers to achieve a corporate average fuel economy of 35 m.p.g. by 2020. The Big Three and Toyota are lobbying to kill the Senate version and replace it with a loophole-laden increase to 32 to 35 m.p.g. by 2022. (Only the U.S. auto industry would try to postpone innovation.) The difference between the two is millions of gallons of gas. Don’t be fooled. Japan and Europe already have much better mileage standards for their auto fleets than the U.S. They both have many vehicles that could meet the U.S. goal for 2020 today, and they are committed to increasing their fleet standards toward 40 m.p.g. and above in the coming decade. So Toyota, in effect, is lobbying to keep U.S. standards — in 2022 — well behind what Japan’s will be."