Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
Here's the page, down to fine-tuning: Happycrow's Eyeball Factory
Mr. Wiker has a nice little screed entitled Benedict Contra Nietzsche: A Reflection on Deus Caritas Est, in Crisis Magazine.
He starts out well. It doesn't take a genius to see that some intellectuals who are not Papal Monarchists could use Deus Caritas Est (hereinafter DCE) as an excuse to grind their favorite axe, that being whether or not that axe applies. For instance, Mr. Wiker is absolutely justified in pointing out that Bishop Francis Deniau is probably talking out of his butt if he regards this as a wink-and-a-nod towards softening the Papacy's position on contraception.
Now, whether or not the Papal Monarchy has the grounds to tell us anything about contraception, as Deniau would probably argue against, is one thing, and as an obvious PM supporter, Mr. Wiker can argue that the Pope is entitled to regulate our dental floss, for all I care. Because Mr. Wiker is so focused on demonstrating his position's moral superiority to that of the liberal Bishop, and using Nietzsche as his straw-man whipping boy in the process, that he badly distorts the Encyclical in the process.
Enter the world's most-misunderstood philosopher.
For starters, Mr. Wiker needs to actually read some Nietzsche:
"It was quite surprising to have Benedict open with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s charge against Christianity. “Christianity gave Eros poison to drink,” Nietzsche quipped; “he did not die of it but degenerated—into vice.”
Well, actually, Mr. Wiker, no, it's not. But that's because every Christian on earth reads the words "God is dead," and assumes that Nietzsche held the same b.s. views his Nazi sister did -- the same sister who conveniently edited his works while he was in a coma. Of course, Nietzsche doesn't attack Christianity at all -- which anybody who's actually read the text with their eyelids open can tell you. Instead, he argued against hypocrites calling themselves Christians, while simultaneously reducing God to nothing more than a Sunday-morning checkbox.
Go ahead, Mr. Wiker. Take off your ideological blinders for a couple minutes, and crack a copy of Thus Spake Zarathustra. Of course the Pope quotes Nietzsche... Nietzsche is probably the most profound philosopher of the 19th century -- especially when one contrasts the Hegelian nightmare of an intellectual world in which he lived -- and is profoundly friendly to the practice of the Christian Faith.
But by all means, Mr. Wiker, never leave a straw-man unburnt and a convenient whipping-boy unwhipped, if that will allow you to smite the unholy liberal.
Can we get an honest argument from a conservative Catholic, please?
Now, by and large, I have no issue with the general argument Mr. Wiker puts forth, or would be putting forth, if he were willing to do the heavy lifting of writing an intellectually honest argument. But this guy is a Senior Fellow of Biblical Theology, not some holy-roller with a bachelor's degree pretending he understands hermeneutics. So when Mr. Wiker writes the following,
The restoration of eros demands that we reject both the gnostic denial of the reality and goodness of the flesh and the materialist, Epicurean denial of the reality and goodness of the spirit.
Mr. Wiker goes beyond the pale. As, unfortunately, is usual for Conservative Catholics lately. Opposing gnosticism? Great! Tossing an equals sign between Epicureanism and Hedonism, because that's convenient for your argument? The holy-roller in the middle of his second semester of philosophy might make that mistake, but Mr. Wiker, you know better.
And so on, until we get to this lovely gem:
Perhaps, then, Benedict begins with Nietzsche as a prophecy. “I am a disciple of the philosopher Dionysus,” declared Nietzsche in Ecce Homo, “I should prefer to be even a satyr to being a saint.” That is, he would prefer to be less than human than to submit to the reality of a spiritual realm, for that would entail the submission of his will to God.No, as usual, Mr. Wiker, the Pope's a touch smarter than you are. For starters, on the off chance he actually forgot, Benedict has some folks who can probably remind him that Ecce Homo belongs to a six-letter literary tradition beginning with an "s." In case you're having trouble guessing it, I've heard recently that it rhymes with "flat tire."
Well, the argument descends into a generally-worthwhile, albeit completely misdirected, meditation upon agape as a love that descends from above, and eros as a love that rises creatively from below.
Far from poisoning eros, Christianity not only affirms it, but elevates it beyond its wildest dreams. Nothing is lost; all is divinized.Yeah, Mr. Wiker, no problem. Pity you don't realize that Nietzsche agrees with you, insofar as you're talking about actual Christians, rather than the Sunday-checkbox crowd.
But, no. Mr. Wiker has to add in the traditional, smugly self-righteousness parting shot so horribly common amongst conservative Catholics these days:
If only the satyrs had ears to hear.
Well, the "satyr," as you termed it, can't hear. He's not around to defend himself, and his works were half-hijacked by a Nazi (not that it takes a genius to see where). And he certainly suffered, on a number of levels, and from syphilis espcially.
In fact, his very last conscious act, before lapsing into a syphilis-induced coma, was to literally hurl himself into the street to throw himself between a coachman and the exhausted horse said coachman was literally whipping to death, shielding the horse with his body and choosing to accept the angry strokes of a vicious man's whip while weeping in sympathy for a cruelly-abused animal.
“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16).
Remove the beam from your own eye, Mr. Wiker, and crack a copy of Mere Christianity: the "satyr" walking down his road of suffering was closer to God than you're ever likely to get up there on your high and mighty edifice.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Here's Perry de Havilland, roundly thrashing him for his ignorance.
First and foremost, I've been saying for several years now, what Markos would have been saying if Perry wasn't unfortunately right (i.e., Kos has no clue what it means to be libertarian). A left-libertarian party is the only way the Dems are going to survive, because the electorate soundly rejects their two cores of power, the Soft Socialists (Kos, the Netroots, and Russ Feingold) and the Communitarians (Hillary, John Kerry, etc.) The latter have structural problems with being elected (and their outright rejection of liberty issues hurts them from the starting gate), and the former are dead in the water, because the Reagan Coalition was set up to fight these guys from Day One. The "Progressives" don't have any trouble getting their message out... the electorate hears it loud and clear, and rejects it outright for the semi-authoritarian pseudo-utopian claptrap that it is.
Going a step beyond Perry, Kos, on the other hand, cannot distinguish that there is a fundamental difference between positive and negative liberty. In other words, there is "freedom from" and "freedom for," and Kos is insensitive to the fairly drastic results of orienting oneself in one or the other direction. (Three guesses which orientation appeals more to the Democrats, and the first fifty don't count.) And to make the matter worse, he seems to posit that positive and negative liberty are unproblematically compatible.
That is a bozo no-no error that any freshman college student reading The Republic should be able to avoid.
In other words, Kos fails to walk the walk, because he has no clue how to talk the talk.
Monday, June 05, 2006
So, with all these things in the news that truly matter: Iranians protesting against abuses of their government while the Basij and religious secret police literally torture students to death (note to Progressive protestors in USA: you're not showing guts by blocking traffic as your preferred means of speaking truth to power, you posers. These kids are showing guts, occasionally as they're pulled slowly out of their bodies by truly evil men. So, show some respect). Vietnam and the US might reach rapprochement on economic issues. The US wonders how to keep its foundering hospitals afloat, when illegals cross the border solely to migrate up for free medical care, and then cross back over -- without losing the politically-incorrect benefits of Mexico essentially selling us their best and brightest citizens...
All this and plenty besides, and we have to talk about Gay Marriage?
Gay Marriage, Flag Burning, what other issues are there that so waste our time as a body politic?
This has nothing to do with conservative vs. liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. A couple of quick sound bytes to the contrary, nobody in the political establishment is taking the gay side in this. The Republicans may be cynical about proffering an outright abuse of the Constitution to achieve their ends, but Democrats are equally cynical about proffering doomed abuses of the court system to make cheap political points claiming to support gays, and then betraying them at the ballot box and "outing" people as a political weapon.
There are conservative arguments for and against Gay Marriage. (Defense of family/Provisions contra ultrapromiscuous, pro-disease bathhouse culture)
There are liberal arguments for and against Gay Marriage. (Marriage as a civil right applying to all citizens/Fairness mandating that all government marriages be labelled "civil unions," given its inherent non-religious character)
There are libertarian arguments for and against Gay Marriage. (Don't use the force of government to dictate social mores/Don't use government as a weapon to force straights to redefine the bedrock institution of their culture).
There. We've said it. There are arguments for it and against it. Now, can we get back to some issue that might actually have nationwide relevance, like the fact that there's a war on?
Now, the Saudis' role in creating those bigots, and recent reporters' descriptions that said textbooks have not changed at all, doesn't seem to be mentioned. Neither the warning of Tom Holsinger (a frequent Winds of Change contributor -- link at right) that the Saudis have consciously engineered a society of brainwashed welfare lackeys that cannot survive without them, and the perils that creates for when the old clan structures finally do perish...
but, go ahead, al-Faisal, pull the other one...
Sunday, June 04, 2006
The horsehide, otoh, has started beautifully, and I may be able to get it done today. A nice excuse to sit outside in the shade while people with better tans than me soak up the sun.
Friday, June 02, 2006
The one we've just spent three years learning how to be really, really good at.
I can't tell if this is luck, pitiable sadness, or else Comedy Gold.
Hat Tip: Friday Winds of War.
Also, apparently Kurdistan is really getting it right when it comes to religious tolerance.
UPDATE: It's getting serious in Iran. Check out Gateway Pundit's link to right, and this video clip.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
I had a long argument once with a guy in my salle, who has severe Cannot Hit Women Syndrome. For a long time, I even argued with myself over whether I should be bothered by the fact that I have absolutely zero compunction against laying a woman out if need be, merely because she's got tits.
Yes, in response to the obvious reaction, it's more complicated than that. But those of us following self-defense for a while have noticed that there are a lot of women out there involved in violent and aggressive behavior, and they're not shy about taking advantage of the fact that men's better halves generally tie a hand behind their backs. Their numbers seem to be increasing.
Chivalry is dead.
Simone de Beauvoir noted that a lot of women's foibles that held them back were not really coming from men, but were, instead, conformism viciously enforced by their mothers and sisters. Pity that running around gangbanging wasn't one of those things on Mme. de Beauvoir's list.
So it's going to start getting old-fashioned again. I mean, really old-fashioned. As in, 14th-century old-fashioned, where a gentleman treats a lady very well. So in that sense, Chivalry is still going to be alive, especially because most men are inclined and socialized (usually by other men) to assume that women are ladies until demonstrated otherwise.
Ladies, thank you for being ladies.
Gangbanging slut goblin-wannabes, be warned.
Marine, be at peace.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
That said, I have random thoughts.
1. What kind of coddled, reality-challenged white-bread yuppie scum doesn't know the difference between the sounds made by a jackhammer and an assault rifle?
2. I traded shots with my instructor in the salle on Saturday, and hit the ground so hard I bounced. That rocked. Slowly but surely, martial arts concepts that were fuzzy, generalized statements, are becoming concrete, discrete ideas or even techniques. Unfortunately, this means you have to ask your instructor when you think you may have caught a clue... therefore, I posit that martial arts are an act of dual masochism.
3. I think that the gal on PubliusPundit may have overstated her case slightly... but only slightly, when she points out that one of the reasons we have yet another excuse to hate the Baby Boomer scum is their insistence on chopping society up into age brackets. So, don't trust anybody over 30.
4. The big exeriment I was planning on doing gets more complicated. On the one hand, good physics suggests using a nail as a penetrator, so we don't have to worry about impactor topology (far as I can tell, most of the literature on impactor topology is based on cylindrical or ogival penetrators, occasionally on spheres. Go figure, that's where the real-world application is). On the other hand, that makes the entire thing worthless in the context of medieval armor, because a nail effectively simulates a bodkin arrowhead, thus slanting any test done directly in favor of everything except mail armor. And while bodkins definitely existed, they were by no means the only thing out there, and neither do they conform to the topology of western early-and-high-medieval lance heads (though, oddly enough, it does somewhat conform to those from eastern Europe).
5. I ruined the rawhide Chichester sent me a while ago, b/c what we all thought was the grain, was, in fact, not -- what we thought was the flesh was, instead, parts of the grain that hadn't been removed... which only became apparent when I tried to oil-tan it and I suddenly had horsehairs popping up on what should have been the inside of the horse. So, at this point, probably the only thing I can really do with it is to turn it into lacing.
6. Summer is awesome, nice and hot, but not too hot, and Eason came to town, which warms the little evil cockles of my heart. Part of me still wishes I could get the time of day from recruiters so I could go do evil twisted shit to bad people who deserve it... but with folks having no trouble making numbers apparently age waivers aren't being tossed out like popcorn (Note to the irony-challenged: see random thought#3).
7. Somebody needs to simply flay Phelps and his "Thank God for IEDs crowd." Fucking demon worshipper. Hey, dude, even the biggest, hate-indoctrinated opponents of Christianity admit that "loving your neighbor" is one of its most basic commandments....
And now, I'm going to vacuum and enjoy the nice long weekend. Have a good one, folks.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Pity, that. Over the past five years, we've certainly paid enough on this excise tax for The Bunny to get herself a business suit and a new pair of shoes.
Parts of Bush's "legacy" are going to ring big, over a long time. But the progress we've made internationally, and tax cuts at home, are only part of the problem. If he wants to really have this period shine, he needs to start waving that veto threat every time Congress tries to saddle us with more debt.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Here's a quick blurb on Russia's collapsing demographics, and thoughts for the same in Europe.
Now, I'm sensitive to this stuff lately, since the Bunny and I started on the trying-for-kids thing very late in the game, but bear with me.
There's one overriding difference, though: Europeans are sufficiently full of themselves that they think they can ignore Economics 101. Go ahead, ask one, he'll tell you. He'll tell you how brilliant European politics and the "social market" is, especially compared to the obvious failures of the heartless and corrupt American system.
That'll last a while. But when push comes to shove, European egotism will give way. The technocrats, unlike the Vampire, aren't stupid. France is already starting to turn around its demographic issues. The French, for all their many serious domestic problems, are smart -- they understand that quality of life counts. They may choose to get there in a way that makes most Americans twitch, and God help them, they may figure out how to actually carry it off... but they know for a fact that you're not keeping a society alive with a QOL in the toilet.
Putin, for all his aspirations to restart the Cold War and dictate to the world from an angular Eurasian throne, doesn't get it. Paying a subsidy to women so that they'll create babies is a start. But the notion that women are going to agree to this for the good of Russia is nonsense. To start with, so is the notion that anything Putin would describe as good for Russia will trickle down to the average Russian subject. (Yeah, I said "subject," not citizens. Citizens have rights.) The Kremlin and its faction runs Russia for its own benefit. Putin and his cronies love to tout their status as an "energy power," but it's all hat and no cattle for international grandstanding and foreign cash... ask the Muscovites who froze their asses off this winter when the weather got a little colder than normal, because the Powers that Be could care less whether there's something resembling a decent domestic gas infrastructure. Why waste all that good gas on the little people?
QOL, Pootie-Poot, QOL. This dumbass, for all his pretentions to worldly glory, still doesn't grasp that it's not 1850, and still doesn't grasp the reasons the Soviet Empire got its ass kicked in the Cold War.
It sure wasn't the CIA. Hell, our intel guys were so bad, we couldn't turn a Polish agent who knew he was going home to be executed. (Then again, whatever the faults of the Poles are, we all know it isn't a lack of balls.) No, much as I hate the phrase, we whipped the crap out of the Soviets, because we had Human Capital. Human Capital let us innovate and grow the Soviets into the ground during the Arms Race (insert giant nod to Reagan here). In the modern world, middle-class civil society is geopolitical power. That's why everybody wants to do business with China, in spite of the banking practices that would be a national scandal here in the US. It's why the Canadians still punch above their weight in foreign policy, in spite of the fact that their military can't make numbers because they're openly despised at home.
And it's why the US still hasn't had quite had its financial meltdown. Our financial markets are two steps away from a serious fiscal crisis as the dollar teeters over a debt-excavated abyss -- but folks abroad know we have a reputation for economic growth and innovation that makes the dollar a decent bet, for all its many documented faults.
Am I waxing brilliant here? Am I saying anything that any economist who's had his morning coffee won't be happy to confirm? Nope. This is all Bozo territory.
So why doesn't this dumbass get it? Hey, Putin: you want some babies? Try keeping your prospective mommies from freezing their asses off all winter, and stop continuing to foster the conditions that keep your prospective daddies at a life expectancy in the low 50s.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I'm sure I don't need to insult peoples' intelligences by pointing out that the story of how this happened is fishy as hell. (How does one guy get that much info on a disk, and why would he take it home?)
So while I personally suspect that John Q. Dipshit made himself a deal with some crooks in order to score big, and then got caught, let's back up and look at something else.
Government is not a god, not a Superhero, not even a Supervillain. It's just a tool, nothing but violence ritualized. That tool can enable people to do awesome things, or really boneheaded things... but it's still people doing them, whether it's a bunch of suits doing their damndest to destroy America's small farmers in order to give ConAgra and its like a bureaucratic edge, or whether it's thousands of Coast Guard guys kicking ass and saving lives during Hurricane Katrina.
Part of why I'm a libertarian, and not a conservative, is that I have a keen awareness that people can really be boneheads. And to stretch a metaphor, we don't want to loan the car keys out to too many people, and on too many jobs, because one bonehead can take the power of government, and accidentally drive 26.5 million folks right to hell.
So we have powers at the State level, where if folks are going to kick ass and take names, groovy... but if they're going to start swerving mightily all over the road on their Bikes of Government, they're doing it on a 200cc bike, not an 1400cc monster that's so big that even folks riding 650's can't even figure out how the thing manages to keep itself upright. Put a bonehead who's just kinda okay on a 200 onto a 650, and he's going to run that sucker right across the intersection and straight into a wall.
So, asking whether somebody trusts Government is kind of a silly question. The real question is, "what jobs are you willing to trust a complete stranger to do?"
Friday, May 19, 2006
It seems that the 20th century's evils are yet to be scrubbed out in the 21st.
It's not really likely that the Vatican will reinstate its armed forces -- but one never knows. As one of the very few universalist, globally-oriented factions in Western Society (the tranzi socialists being very nearly their only competition), they are constrained in ways that states and other societies are not, but also able to act in ways that would be beyond dreaming for others.
Hat Tip: Winds of Change 5/19 Hatewatch Briefing.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
I stepped next door to loan a Petersen's bird guide to the Watercolorist, and BooBoo said "hey, would ya look at that?" (BooBoo's el gato numero dos, so this was in sign language.)
Whiskey Tango, Foxtrot, over.
Now, I know, intellectually, that there are some big moths out there in this great big wide world of ours. I also know, that in over fifteen years around Dallas, I ain't never seen one like this. Usually we get the little grey jobs that eat the hell out of your wool. Since I happen to make felt out of exotic and otherwise hard-to-obtain wool, guess who kills pretty much all moths, on sight, 24/7?
Have alien beings masquerading as harmless third-world villagers planted the Moths of Doom in my house, or what? You know, the ones with the cricket legs who are Secretly Causing Global Warming from their Underground Base in Central America? (No, really, that's the plot of an honest-to-God sci-fi flick, and one of the better ones if you don't mind a little camp.)
"Flap" is ineffective against orange oil.
But she didn't give it up without a hell of a fight, so ya gotta hand it to her there. This is "Mrs. Flap," during one of her less intense moments, in my hand.
Yes, that's not a little moth bed I cranked out of nowhere... that's my hand, and the whole picture should be rotated CCW by 90 degrees to understand this sucker's true scale. Looks like the cocktail dress is only pretty from the outside; she's all brownish-grey underneath.
I was sleepy as hell on my way home... now, I think I may as well put on a pot of espresso, just so it's official. I'm not easily creeped out by bugs: I have, in fact, eaten a roach, just to seriously mess with a girl's head (she deserved it). But I'm mildly freaked by critters that aren't supposed to be living where they're living.
Gotta look this sucker up. What the hell is this thing, and how did a two-inch-long moth get the hell inside my house without me noticing?
Which is apparently monkey for this place is boring, let's go for ice cream.
Also, apparently early chimp-like man interbred with equally early, man-like chimp.
Having been exposed to precisely 9.2 seconds of Farscape Fan-Fic, I find this eminently plausible.
What is this, the 1960s Chevrolet model of tax-cutting? Cut it for such a ridiculously short span of time that it becomes a permanent issue? "Vote for us, or we won't be around to give you another 12-month moritorium against having your paycheck raped by AMT next April?"
Talk about your cynical, election-year ploys. This is ridiculous. At least Soviets pretended to give you a Five-Year Plan.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
And the Mullahs are willing to pay for them? For jets they can't possibly maintain?
I don't know who's further into the bong-water.
Yes, folks, the answer to Democratic malaise isn't
a) admit you're leftists with a populist tinge and run with it
b) admit that the leftists are politically hopeless and reform yourself into a left-libertarian party.
(Editorial note: shit, it's not? Oh well, so much for the Dems...)
Oh no. The real way to get the Dems into office is to combat our current era's, "rampant individualism" with the Politics of Definition!
Best defined as more social programs directed from DC, lots of government regulation, and a heaping helping of anti-globalist class warfare rhetoric, involving using the power of government to make sure that people are able to get access to the jobs that will get them to be happy, contented, lower-middle-class workers.
How new! How bold! How unlike anything the Democrats have tried in the past six electoral cycles! That's how you'll split the Reagan coalition, with the energizing power of economic populism, bay-bee!
Note to Messrs. Halprin and Teixeira. You're both smart guys, but when it comes to having your fingers on the pulse of American society and what it wants, you've got a serious tin ear. Stop drinking the Marxist cool-aid, and go visit someplace that doesn't automatically associate the word "Progressive" with "morally superior." I promise you, that'll leave you plenty of destinations to choose from.
I may be a libertarian, but at least I didn't need four freaking essays in order to demonstrate that all the Dems have to offer is more Know-Nothing "class-based issues." The Seventies have had it, man.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Juan's going to the Sandbox, and when he gets back, for Physician's Assistant training. Not bad for a kid who used to be a migrant worker -- when he's done being "exploited by the Pentagon" (for those of us not steeped in '68er cant, that translates as "expensively and exhaustively trained") he's going to easily double my slightly-above-average middle-class salary). My buddy, The Lizard Queen, has a doctorate now, and is, in theory, an official member of the intellectual elite.
Her Mom grew up in a bamboo hut.
And people wonder why I have no patience for cringing, whinging, suck-ass leftist whiners who bitterly harp about how there's no social mobility left in this country.
1. Lots of leather projects, including a vest for The Bunny, possibly a couple knitter's bags, and a really STOUT reconstruction of a Cuman leather caftan (kind of like a buff coat on steroids). This in conjunction with two different short articles to be written up for next year if I can get them done in time: "Archery technique and battlefield geometry," which deals with how archers get deployed and defended against depending on the techniques in use, and "light cavalry, heavy cavalry, horse archers, Oh My!: What abstract definitions don't tell us about 1205 Adrianople." The last one will hopefully be presented at Kalamazoo next spring.
2. Got about 30,000 words on a story that needs to be finished, so I can decide whether or not I want to write another one... if I'm diligent, I should be done completely by mid-June. All the folks who actually call themselves writers are grinning and saying "gimme more," so it sounds like it justifies the time.
3. Ever notice that Mr. Chavez is *awfully* chummy with Ahmadinejad and his fellows? In the Great Huntington vs. Palmer Debate, score one for Palmer and his "ignore ideology, all the tyrants are in cahoots" thesis...
Updates will come around, but the site will primarily be a linkfarm for the rest of the month while this is going on. In that vein, I'm inclined to add some extra links to the right. Under sci/tech, I'm thinking Speculist and FuturePundit. Any recommendations?
Friday, April 28, 2006
Yes, I had an Office Space moment, where I took a day off with a week and a half's notice, only to have it more or less revoked at 4 pm the day before.
But on the bright side, we need foundation work and a new roof.
Anyway, I'll be in Michigan at the medieval conference through the first week of May, so, marginal political analysis and crude "oooh, cool" science news will be yours in another ten days.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
In other words, the Republicans have, to the dismay of a portion of their base, realigned themselves as Kennedy Democrats, neither faux-pacifist like the Progressives, nor Goldwaterian small-government. In other words, Bush, Lott, Frist, et. al., have said to the conservatives and small-l libertarians, "we own you. Where you gonna go?" As my new byline states, the response is likely to be "out to dinner, chump."
In other words, the Reagan Coalition is dead. Not at the constituent level of the voters, but clearly so in terms of the actual Party. I haven't heard squat to suggest that Sessions, my guy in Texas 32, has exactly covered himself in glory, either.
The Democrats, on the other hand, have two problems. As summed up in the American Prospect, it's not a bad idea to say that they dither between mobilize and inoculate. The "inoculate" solution, where the Democrats actually push small-gov solutions, and, --gasp!-- listen to voters, sounds pretty good. But the analysis at the Prospect fails pretty badly, because while it notes the damage that has happened to the Democratic Party since Clinton, it hasn't noted smething significant: Clinton pushed NAFTA and got on with welfare reform, but also pushed singificantly greater government intervention in several areas: socialized medicine, drastic restrictions on gun ownership, etcetera. Had Clinton played to what is described in the "inoculation" handbook, "stealing issues" from the Repubs, chances are that the 1994 Republican takeover wouldn't have stood a chance. As it was, outright alarm at having Hillary push a medical-reform bill that would send doctors to jail resulted in something very different.
Notice that the "inoculate" provision can be seen as another version of the "small-l" libertarian program, aka the "leave us alone" program. (The actual LP remaining safe in ideologically pure irrelevance based on their foreign-policy failures.)
This suggests that there's some hot air lifting up my theory that the Democrats are essentially going to try to steal the small-l libertarian votes. With 39% of the electorate saying that earmarks and wasteful spending are their most serious concern, and Reid outperforming the Elephants on the issue...
we're not quite to "game on" yet. But Realignment is coming on fast.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
"Cities beat suburbs. Manhattanites use less energy than most people in North America. Sprawl eats land and snarls traffic. Building homes close together is a more efficient use of space and infrastructure. It also encourages walking, promotes public transit, and fosters community."Currently, cities do NOT beat suburbs. If they did, everybody in exurbia would be pining for downtowns, rather than fleeing the idea like extras in a B movie. Manhattanites may use less energy, but quite a bit of that is because other people are using energy to bring things to Manhattanites.
1. What is sprawl, except houses out in the country, built closely together?
2. Encouraging walking is fine in theory... to which purpose?
3. Is public transit an end good in and of itself?
4. Fosters community? How? Every city I've lived in was characterized by people generally ignoring each other, the only exceptions being those areas which are effectively suburbs-built-small.
In contrast, in my sixth-acre stereotypical suburban lot, I can:
1. Shoot arrows in my back yard.
2. Create a rose garden in my front yard.
3. Grow fruit and nut trees which I can then use to make brandy and tasty breads.
4. See the stars at night (not a lot of them, but a hell of a lot more than in the city).
5. Sleep without the constant noise of city buses and drunks.
6. Forget to lock my doors, car or otherwise, without expecting to be robbed on the spot.
7. Create a sense of community that has nothing to do with a top-down urban planner's vision.
And #7 is really the rub, isn't it? Over at worldchanging.com, they've got guys talking about planning communities "that actually work..." when the history of the 20th century tells me everything I need to know about people who assume that me and mine are dysfunctional and in need of change brought about from the outside.
Annuities? Dividends? So, tell me again how the imputed value of this vision, which is "tantamount to wealth" (whatever that means -- it clearly doesn't mean "equal to wealth" in any economic sense you can actually falsify) adds quality to my life, rather than simply satisfying a tiny minority's ideology? Of course "few" can imagine it -- for starters, those "closed loop cities" aren't going to get anywhere, in an urban landscape which scorns industry and shuns agriculture, and increasingly prices out all but the fashionable rich few. Manhattanites may use less energy than most North Americans... (why not, let's assume that's true) but so do most Nigerians, and I don't exactly see a massive line at the consulate for would-be emigrants to Lagos. Currently Manhattan is a playground for the wealthy, where it is economically irrational for anybody in the middle class to try to raise a family and retire. Who do these people think are going to do the real work, while Cindy Freaking Lauper, downtrodden working-class janitor that she is, is in court fighting to keep her apartment at a ridiculously-low rent-controlled price? (real-life example from last year) What precisely do these people think "closed-loop" urbanites are going to eat?
Redesigning civilization along these lines would bring a quality of life few of us can imagine. That's because a fully functioning ecology is tantamount to tangible wealth. Clean air and water, a diversity of animal and plant species, soil and mineral resources, and predictable weather are annuities that will pay dividends for as long as the human race survives - and may even extend our stay on Earth.
It may seem impossibly far away, but on days when the smog blows off, you can already see it: a society built on radically green design, sustainable energy, and closed-loop cities; a civilization afloat on a cloud of efficient, nontoxic, recyclable technology. That's a future we can live with.
It's not that "few can imagine it..." but rather that "few" are so utterly-disconnected from reality that they could take it seriously. Clearly only the clueless leaded-gasoline-huffing mouth-breathers can comprehend economics 101? Once again, we see the classic ideological overreach and handy condescension of those who envision themselves running the system and calling the shots, rather than having to squeeze their lives into the petty boxes of somebody else's utopian vision.
Redesigning civilization? Holy cow, and here I thought I was arrogant...
Monday, April 24, 2006
2. Some buttheads in Dallas tortured a sweetheart of a pit bull to death this weak. I know some of you have tender stomachs, so no link. I have no way of finding out who these people are. Good thing, too, because I doubt the ten grand award would cover my legal bills after introducing the perps to a few of the better ideas by the Dukes of Chin.
3. Some political hack leaks classified info. I have one question: why ain't she in jail?
Oh well. Gotta go kick people in the head...
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
We're in special session again to find some other way of funding the public schools besides property taxes. I hope they come up with something, because currently they're using property taxes, and rather than having to actually pass tax increases and suffer the political consequences, they just have their appraisors decide that your house is more valuable. And they can get away with mandating extra value for your house, because they do it all the way across the area.
Five years ago when I moved back into the country, you could get a house in my area and comparable to mine for somewhere in the 90s. Probably high 90s as mine has a finished room in back that slightly pops the square footage, but still nineties. Now my house is worth 142.
This is the Dallas suburbs, not Boston or Fairfax county. The region has had mild house-price increases... but I can tell you right here and now, it's only partially because of demand. There's no way the market here, however healthy it is, justifies the average house in my area appreciating in value by roughly a third in less than five years. From high-90s at the turn of the millenium, you now can't get into a house around here for less than 110-115, and we're not talking comparable properties, but instead houses that need an awful lot of work, like the house down the street we used to call the "crab shack."
It's a mess.
Monday, April 17, 2006
"There's something fundamentally wrong when more young Americans believe in the existence of UFOs than believe that their Social Security benefits will be there for them when they retire"
And then turn around and heavily endorse Santorum for his involvement with the medicare drug entitlement, yet another fiscal-nightmare nail in the coffin of the Social Security Ponzi scheme.
And the sad part is, I don't think he even gets the irony.
All this is taken off his Volpac.org site. But the blog apparently has the comments disabled except for folks who've stood up to be grassroots volunteers.
Well, that's blogging for you. At least, for the Republican majority leader.
Got another one of those lovely Bank of America emails, to all of their associates, blathering on and on about what they're doing to make this place a great place in which to work.
But, as an admin, I'm not actually an associate...
- I am when it's convenient, such as taking various forms of compliance training, and conforming to six different kinds of makework bullshit.
- I'm not when it's inconvenient... when that would involve performance reviews, cost of living adjustments, that sort of thing. And they're definitely not associates when they try to get training or engage in career-dev-education. My manager stabbed me in the back on that one, and so far as I can tell, every other admin I've spoken to who's tried has ended up the same way.
It's not that the work environment is all that terrible, so long as you don't mind having your nose constantly rubbed in the fact that you're a second-class employee. Basically like working in a law firm, where the human race divides into lawyers and menials. Of course, that's why I don't work at a law firm.
However, this is not merely grousing: I have a plan... to start adjuncting at the community college level this fall, and get enough hours under my belt that I can apply full-time. That's right, college, not junior high. Turns out that there is far too much supply for historians in the local public school market compared to the demand (since many positions are still dual-taught by coaches). But the community college level apparently isn't attracting a lot of interest, perhaps because of the degree requirements and greater responsibility.
That means three-to-four months of twiddling thumbs while starting the adjuncting process, and a longer time before I'm finally able to boost out, which can basically be summed up as "wouldn't it be nice if they laid me off so I could work both local districts as an adjunct time." But, it's a plan, and a solid one, that will continue to support both wife and scholarship in the mean time.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Had to stay home last night piled up with blankets and the like. It must have been tied to sinuses somehow, because I lay on the couch intensely aware of the spaces beneath my cheekbones.
Wish I could remember the jokes that the orange plastic teapot and the rest of the tea set were telling. Although I have a sinking suspicion that it was composed of nothing except the nonverbal equivalent of "wheeeeeee!"
Not that I'd recommend it to just anybody, but that was WAY more fun than anybody's ever told me drugs were...
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Certain of you who think I'm a cold-blooded bastard will probably shudder to see an array of heartless facts martialed in favor of pre-emptive nuclear war... but as a debate, if you're up on the issue (and you should be), it's well worth your time, even if you tend towards the squishy and squeamish.
He's an interesting guy, that's for certain. Here's an old op-ed, in addition to the stuff hitting Drudge.
In terms of the referendum process, that's a two-edged sword... it can be a self-defense mechanism for the little guys to defend themselves from the political class, or else an oligarch's best friend and demogogue's shield.
Suddenly, politics on the Democratic side of the aisle has just gotten interesting.
UPDATE: I've been peeking at his site, and you know, when it comes to the bio or parts of the basic ideas... there's stuff I don't like, but I've seen much, much worse, especially from Democratic candidates. I suspect that this guy is basically a left-libertarian... his idea would basically be a means of using an alternate legislative attempt to give the people back something resembling the old jury nullification, but on a massive scale. The critical issue would be in whether it was explicitly democratic or republican in nature -- if the former, it would potentially allow the hive cities to run roughshod over the countryside, with the latter having effectively no remedy. But if the former, a multiplicity of factions would do its own work. Like I said, I've seen much, much worse.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The world is fundamentally different than the 18th century. Isolationism makes no sense when it is feasible to pay a hundred men to effect an operation that will put a dozen or two on the sharp end of a spear capable of infliciting megadeath. Ahmadinejad has threatened Israel's existence, not that I give a rat's ass about Israel right now, since they're still betraying us and selling our secrets to the PLA), and openly funds the people who talk, in public, about invading the west from within in order to force sharia (spit) upon the world.
We won the Cold War. We made messes in the process. It's time to clean up the messes -- now. Much as I'd rather focus on cleaning up domestic trouble, there are mad dogs in the street: we do not have the luxury of allowing enough time to pass for Iran and any other descendents of AQ Khan to gain plausible deniability for an attack.
UPDATE: and now it gets curiouser. Comments over on WoC (link in sidebar) suggest that Natanz may not already possess that many centrifuges, but will need to build them. In which case... once again, only the players know the score, and the rest of us are wondering whether it's all-clear and the Iranians are playing their traditional two-step, or whether we're already on the express-elevator.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Libertarians are politically inept and fundamentally insane. We resent being associated with conservatives, especially when they claim to own libertarian ideals while talking smack about libertarian amorality... because the Reagan coalition welding libertarians and conservatives together was so successful that it could concentrate sufficient political firepower to win the Cold War. We resent being tied at the hip to liberals, because it gets us associated with civil rights groups who often overshoot the mark, yet have occasionally risen far above politics to cry foul at abuses in the system we'd never even have heard about on our own. We're nuts.
For starters, what do you call people who run a third party in a representative republic with a winner-take-all system whose raw mathematics guarantees that only two parties will ever be able to vie for power? You call them insane, that's what you call them. And if you're crazy enough to be a Libertarian, you probably believe the following crazy things, too:
- We can bring about global freedom and prosperity by announcing to the world that "we're all going home now to found Fortress America, and we hope all you totalitarian maniacs will play nice and maintain a healthy mechanism to keep the international shipping upon which all our advanced economies depend safe and happy."
- We can convince the electorate to plunge directly into the icy-cold bracing water of personal freedom and responsibility, because running campaigns with a more moderate platform that would let people "dip their toes in the water"would be selling out.
- We can prescribe policy based on ideology, rather than proceeding from principles pragmatically in the hope of accumulating steady small victories like those completely unelectable conservatives and liberals.
- We can win elections if we allow people to speak for us who really think that medical marijuana is a pressing issue of justice which deserves to be considered as soon as, if not before, KELO and McCain-Feingold.
- We can win votes by educating people on the 'net, not simply spending bazillions on marketing like everybody else, because everything except politics tends to obey economic laws...
- We don't see any problem with letting a bunch of batshit-crazy anarchists pose as libertarians and scare people away from the philosophy entirely, because that really helps us win hearts and minds.
We're nuts. We're absolutely, completely bonkers, if we think that these are practices that will gain any traction whatsoever amongst scared "security voters" worried about another 9/11, and folks whose idea of trusting the private markets with money is hopelessly tied up with Enron. Oh, don't get me wrong: in the years since they were put to paper, many of the economic arguments stemming from, say, Hayek and Laffer, for example, have been proven beyond all reasonable doubt -- ask any Irishman what he thinks about the positive economic effects of tax reform. But we expect that people will become libertarians by nodding their heads at the obvious superiority of our arguments and going "uh huh, yup yup, I guess the market really would do a better job than government in almost every case." Because that really makes sense, being based on how people really make life-altering political choices, isn't it?
And we think the Barking Moonbats on the left, and the Myrmidons on the right don't get it?
And I'm one of these guys, no question. Sign me up for my rubber room.
If the Reagan Coalition cracks up and lets the leftists across the aisle take over Congress, that's bad. But would gridlock necessarily be so? I don't know -- with legislation repeatedly crossing party lines, and Kennedy involved in the process, one can make the argument that there wouldn't be an appreciable difference. If Feingold wants to move to impeach: let him. We need the Dems to go away until they can discover an actual set of principles anyway.
Frankly, if the Libertarian Party can lose some of its shrill rhetoric, with the explosion of domestic spending under this administration, there's never been such a good time to paint themselves as an alternative to the Republicrats. With only the tiniest of exceptions, it certainly hasn't been Congressmen leading the anti-earmark charges. But the LP isn't going to do that because of the war, and because right now you can't be an LP candidate if you're a libertarian hawk like yours truly (not neocon, not isolationist, but "speak softly while hefting a pile of sledgehammers").
It's going to be interesting: much of the crackup has happened because the voters hold power in their hands that has never been held before. This isn't merely blogosphere triumphalism -- when's the last time any Congresscritter was so frustrated with the public casting a magnifying glass over pork that they'd lash out the way Trent Lott did last week? If the social conservatives stay on board b/c of the new Supremes, and the fiscal conservatives are willing to jump ship...then the Coalition is dead. What'll replace it?
Thursday, April 06, 2006
It sure isn't any sort of argumentative consistency. Having embraced the critiques involved in The Vision of the Anointed, conservatives have gone on to embracing all the same rhetorical tricks, this time arrogating to itself the role of Defender of Morals, whether or not that involves:
- Opposing gay adoption on the grounds that having two loving parents of the same sex (while admittedly suboptimal), is so much worse than being stuck in an orphanage with no parents at all.
- Constantly bashing libertarians for their supposed amorality, when Lord only knows that you can't be interested in Family Values if you're not also interested in having those values run through a filter dictated by whoever's fine, morally-upstanding lobbyists happen to best schmooze and booze their way through Congress (that veritable playground of the angels) this week.
- Fighting the War on Drugs to protect society: because we have to let kiddie-rapists and violent criminals walk the street in order to make room for the pot-smoking hippies who are a true threat to our kids' safety.
- Pushing laws like the "Three-Strikes Amendment," because we all know that it's really evil to snatch a purse out of a car, then get caught with speed, and then try to lift a watch from a department store, but just kinda bad to beat a woman until she's unrecognizable while raping her.
- Constantly stroking oneself in the Warrior's Mirror, because we all know that there's not a liberal or libertarian interested in a strong national defense or willing to serve his country in war. (Contemporary cringing leftists aside, how 'bout that Sergeant York... yeah... what a pussy.)
- Castigating liberals for radically increasing the size and intrusiveness of government, thus adding to the tax burdens of hard-working, honest families (while radically increasing the size and intrusiveness of government, thus adding to the tax burdens of hard-working, honest families).
- Standing Up for Our Freedoms, including our perennial Congressional favorite, the Freedom to Go to Jail for Burning a Flag.
No, what I really despise about liberalism, and the liberals I run into, is that now that the basic egalitarian issues have been examined -- successfully, I might add-- all that's left of liberal arguments is the abject cowardice, and the way that so many of their arguments are effectively nothing but trumped up excuses for same... like the girl who's irritated with herself for giving money to bums at the local burger joint, and vocally laments that she's too nice, rather than calling a spade a spade, and saying that the bum intimidated her -- in reality, she wasn't too nice, she was too goddamned scared to stick up for herself.
- We have to have universal health care, because having insurance and using it wisely is too scary (for the little people).
- We have to run a foreign policy that never uses force in our interests except when it's so late in the game that we've no other choice, because if we kicked the bad guy in the balls back at Step Two, then we might, gasp, become unpopular.
- We have to have rent control, because otherwise rich people on the West Side might actually have to pay market rents, which would involve uncertain costs (don't even get me started on how the Beautiful People use rent control to keep working-class schlubs at arm's reach).
- We have to have regulations at the anal-probe level, because otherwise, millions of people will be running around doing their thing with no controls on how they run their businesses and lives. Chaos! Madness!
- We have to gut-shoot our economy, because fossil fuels are destroying the earth, and our best alternative, nuclear power, is a Godzilla-like radioactive monster that will destroy us all.
- We have to create the "perverse incentives" of a halfway-welfare state, because if people are allowed to control their own pensions and the like, some of them might make bad choices.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
We're still in flux regarding minor formatting and that sort of thing, but we're back in business. So if you like marginal humor, vague and vaguely irresponsible commentary, and long delays between posts, we're your kinda blog.
Also, if you're an LLP guy, make sure you check out A Texas Libertarian. It's young, but off to a good start.
Oh, you mean you've never heard of the TTC?
Well, here's where all you folks who think Texans are a bunch of posers when we talk about the value of BIG get to stand slack-jawed with awe. The Trans-Texas Corridor is:
- separate lanes for passenger vehicles and large trucks
- freight railways
- high-speed commuter railways
- infrastructure for utilities including water lines, oil and gas pipelines, and transmission lines for electricity, broadband and other telecommunications services
It'll take fifty years to finish it, that's how big it is. And it's looking out fifty years into the future that you can get a sense of why it's needed. Check out this handy map. Now, compared to the coastal Hive Cities(tm), Texas' population is still fairly-well dispersed. After all, we have space to build, so that we can have a big city like Dallas or Houston, and still have the lifestyle benefits of living in an incredibly-large medium-sized city. But that's going to change, and change dramatically, if the international traffic coming into the country from Central America and Mexico (go free trade!!) all have to run smack-dab through Austin and DFW in order to get elsewhere. It'll be a nightmare. Check out 2060 for my neck of the woods... easily 10 million folks in Tarrant, Dallas, and Collin counties, and the only way Denton's going to escape being just as wide is if a miracle happens and the Lewisville Bridge collapses during the bitterly-opposed but inevitable widening process. I'm also pretty sure that area around Houston/Harris county is being counted very conservatively.
TTC rocks. It's even got the runs in for high-speed rail, to keep the environmental pansies happy.
(Gratuitous chauvinism follows.)
Now, don't you wish your puny state (or you NY-Cali wusses... you're punching WAY below your weight class lately) could come up with something like this so that you don't have to play tag with road-trippers and interstate freight during rush hour?
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Let's recap this month or so in international relations, US-Russia.
1. Russia moves to occupy South Ossetia for good.
2. Russia sells the Iranians the Sqvall. (Word to Iran -- suckers.)
3. Russia blocks any pretense to serious action/sanctions in the UNSC regarding Iran.
4. Russia gets the paperwork ready on its Soviet Union, Mark Two. (Notable for its language giving inherent majority votes to Russia...unneccesary if it were meant to simply be an EU clone)
Russia's xenophobic foreign policy is at it again, and I think the game is now sufficiently transparent to call a spade a spade. Putin and his
So, the game is being played by taping new paragraphs into the old playbook...
Monday, April 03, 2006
Here's the article that Gateway has up.
Now, let's note something. This is Al-Quaeda, the organization of death-loving, twelve-foot-tall desert warriors... and what Zarqawi earns for his numerous failures is demotion to military duty?
This tells you one of two things:
1. Either the crux of the matter is that Al-Quaeda has just announced that it's yet another poseur-Jihadi organization like Arafat's Algerians were, sending off other peoples' young to die while they collected fat checks (and in some cases we already know this to be the case)...
2. Or else, Zarqawi was demoted specifically because of "Al Quaeda in Iraq," and therefore the operative issue is that various AQ heads don't care for the current decentralized "franchise model,"and want to re-centralize the organization.
2.5 Because of Zarqawi's incredible failures, AQ has decided that the decentralized model was too politically naive, and thus ineffective, and political actions (like crossing borders to bomb third parties) are going to be more tightly-controlled from here on out... since any honest assessment of Iraq is that AQ has lost so badly that it can't even maintain a meaningful presence in the field.
Still, small phrases can sometimes speak paragraphs.
UPDATE: apparently it's a missile, after all? I start to wonder what the big deal is... can anybody sell me a vowel here?
Sunday, April 02, 2006
But then again, how stupid are we? The Republicans suck, but the only third-party that could happen would exist solely to peel away the "hold your nose continent" (and that's me, folks) in order to allow Clinton to squeak into office.
I don't think it stands a chance in hell. Not because independent voters aren't smart enough to see the threat... but because, having been out of political power since Reagan, we have something that neither major party possesses: patience. A lasting political realignment will involve waiting long enough for the Democrats to tear themselves apart on the altar of socialism and government school unions... and for the Republicans to finally have their electoral showdown between the Theocrats, the Country Club, and the Reaganites.
Then, we shall see what we shall see. Anything prior to that is an electoral trap, and a transparent one.
Friday, March 31, 2006
Nail the bitch.
Somewhere, a line needs to be drawn in the sand that says to the political class "you exist to serve, not to be royalty."
Thursday, March 30, 2006
.7kt Urban Renewal comes to B.A.'s neighborhood...
But the other part of it is that such damage is actually not all that large, geographically speaking. You could drop a .7kt charge on the middle of DFW airport, and still have buildings standing (not to mention about 340,000 very irritated neighbors). The really bad parts of the blast from 70kt on the same location wouldn't even make it to my house (which is close by). Put that in the perspective of some of the clearing operations performed in Al-Anbar, where civvies were known to have been cleared out of the way prior to engagement, and you can see why folks would like to have this as an option.
But he also provides a very careful little suggestion of how to bring the Iranian dictatorship (for that's what it is -- Iran's rulers use religious extremists who are actually in the employ of the intlligence community to crush their people, no differently than Milosevic used the Chetniks) to its knees: Iran is hardly in a position to make threats regarding oil: he brushes past the obvious implications as if they're hardly there.
And Iran, whatever its political agenda, simply does not have the economic and financial wherewithal to hold back its oil altogether. Petroleum amounts to 80 percent of all Iranian exports, 45 percent of the country's GDP, and 60 percent of the government's revenues. With the economy there already rickety, any shortfall in oil sales would tempt financial, economic, and consequently political suicide for Iran's current regime.While Mr. Ezrati may feel the need to tiptoe past the obvious, there's no need for us in blogistan to do so... if the US wants to retaliate seriously against the Iranian regime, while drying up the international money that goes to Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Quaeda, and doesn't feel secure about its ability to take down Iranian air defenses... wiping out oilfield infrastructure would be a breeze.
And what's more, such a strategy would not be out of place: if we document Iranian security elements engaged in direct or proxy actions against US troops, we have our casus belli for limited countermeasures, and neither Russia nor China will able to do anything else but make predictable but polite noises in protest. China, because it will follow Russia's lead, and Russia because cannot it afford to lose one of its most effective propaganda levers for the justification of both legitimate defense and military adventurism in the Caucasus.
In this respect, US geopolitical and military strategy becomes quite clear:
1. Allow Iran to gain the lead in the leadership and financing of terrorism abroad.
2. Encourage other entities to cut funding, such that terrorists become dependent on Iranian oil money.
3. Open up the press conferences documenting Iranian proxy war, and declare war on Iran with said Iraqi casus belli, completely bypassing the UN (it's not required, and although NATO troops wouldn't be needed for such operations, the US can, if need be, put NATO in a diplomatic hammerlock on this issue).
4. Chop the oil money off at the kneecaps as soon as Iran takes one step over whatever is determined to be the red line.
Since Iran is completely dependent on imports for its gasoline -- imports that cost money -- its military will be effectively hamstrung. In this respect, Ahmadinejad may be trying desperately to obtain a nuclear trump card... but otherwise, he is holding an extremely weak hand. It is encumbent upon us to force him to play those cards, and sooner, rather than later.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
1. "contra la precarite"... The french students are protesting because they're cowards who are afraid to take a job where they might have to actually do something in order to keep said job.
2. Everybody in France seems willing to put up with these jerks interfering with traffic and shutting down the works in order to let them protest. Sorry, buddy, some old granny's right to have an ambulance arrive on time trumps your right to take a nap on the street. But that would involve thinking through one's actions, rather than simply arrogating to oneself the mantle of moral superiority.
3. The cops were perfectly willing to stand by and let thugs from les banlieues beat the snot out of the whiny little bastards. Marking the worst with paintguns? Where does that come from? If you see somebody in danger of being kicked to death, you pull out your truncheons and you lay it down.
4. And if you're the police superintendent who refuses to back your cops for doing so... well, then you must be in France!
The French are in turmoil, because as a society, the French seem to have lost their flipping minds, and there's not a single contingent stepping forward that seems to have some grip on both sanity and basic testicular fortitude. If you wanted a recipe for how to turn a major international player into an third-world has-been, France seems to be turning into a splendid example. And it's a crying damned shame.
The opening act, which consisted of world-music by Nitza, not so much. She can belt it out, but the vocals, etcetera, was uninspired and the performance generally self-congratulatory. Good enough for what an opening act is supposed to do -- get the audience paying attention to the stage -- but more like an NPR Sunday-night "also ran." Definitely Nitza's stuff is nothing I'd ever pay money to see or buy on a CD.
Cirque du Soleil, on the other hand, I'd buy on video and leave running for days like we were still in the '80s and it was a favorite screen-saver by Beagle Brothers.
Cirque du Soleil has a good mix and match for a general audience. I prefer a heavier performer mix, rather than the mostly-dance-and-music with performers thrown in, which is how Delirium was constituted. I'm kind of a purist -- I love European circus, and can jazz for days about the raw physical skill involved. I don't even need a set, I'm so enthralled by what these folks can do with their bodies. But for a general audience, it's probably about right, and the song and dance themselves were very, very good. The art involved in presenting the "circus otherworld" was absolutely awesome.
I left totally jazzed. Practically danced all the way to the car. Did car-dance in the parking lot, to the alternating amusement and embarrassment of Those Who Put Up with Me.
Well worth catching when they come into town.
Here's the solution. KILL IT. We are the dominant mammals on this planet, and our proper course of action when attacked by a minor ambush predator with delusions of grandeur, is to KILL IT. In fact, the solution to a major ambush predator getting uppity, is to get five or ten of you together, and THEN KILL IT. Or, do the job with just yourself and your buddies Smith and Wesson. And then have your hunters take it to the skinners, who will make a pelt from it, and have your skinners take it to your cooks, who will see how well it goes with garlic.
By God's design or the steady progress of evolution, human beings are incredibly dangerous predators. We are vastly more dangerous than any other animal on the planet -- mosquitos included. The only reason mosquitos are outdoing us is that at the end of the day, most of us simply aren't annoyed enough to try harder. Bears are incredibly powerful. Tigers have power, grace, and stealth to humble a ninja master. Elephants have brains combined with mass tonnage and a bad attitude. Hippo and rhinos, ditto. Snakes and insects have incredible poisons. We, on the other hand, get the really insidious stuff.
We kill and eat them all. Tonnage is no match for being able to sweat, and therefore hunt all-out for hours under worst blazing sun the savannahs and deserts have to offer. Claws and strength are no match for being able to communicate hunting strategy in complete silence, simply by eye contact and minor motions of the head and face. Poisons are no match for being able to turn a prey item's shelter into a deadly trap. Notice that we haven't even gotten to opposable thumbs yet. Anybody who thinks that human beings pushing other animals into extinction is a new and modern thing needs to start cracking some books.
If you're a yuppie woman who's had all aggression beaten out of you since you were three and kicked somebody in the shins, then sit on it in a violent way. You'll be excused for that when the alternative is being hamstrung by a housepet, and we'll all stand back and golf-clap while you sue Ms. Cisero for every cent she owns.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
So, what, in principle, would keep one from doing the same thing with the mortgage? Not much. It's an old immigrant tactic. So, here's a strategy for the paranoid, folks like me who simply don't know if the reports they're reading from various stocks and funds is being reported correctly.
1. Pay down the mortgage (live on one person's check, use the other's to pay it off). Unless you're in Fairfax Co., Boston, SF, or one of those Officially Nutzoid Real-Estate Markets(tm), it shouldn't be that bad. We could do it in three to four years, and would have, had we not been still having to buy stuff that folks who haven't spent the last four years in another country take for granted or have three of. And we're pretty middle class. I knew guys moonlighting in freight yards doing the same thing.
2. Once the mortgage is gone, you're then out a tax shelter. If Congress continues with its current exemptions, which assume that you're paying down a mortgage, no biggie. But if not, you'll want that mortgage exemption. So, pick up another mortgage, and pay interest on it. Since you've got the total asset as collateral, it shouldnt' be all that hard to get a decent rate.
3. Roll the money into 3 or 6 month 25k minimum CDs and the like, for an average yearly return of around 5%.
That's not a stellar rate of return, but it's tax-defended, very liquid if you've staggered your deposits in time, and the returns are pretty-much guaranteed, in stark contrast to stocks, which might get me 8%... but which might vanish in a puff of corporate malfeasance tomorrow. If you're a financial smart guy, you could probably do much better, but anybody can pull this one off, and use their hard-bought asset to at least stay a little bit ahead of inflation.
So, come on, financial smart guys: what's a better strategy?
Monday, March 27, 2006
1. Ahmadinejad is probably very sane. But, if it can be taken at face value, he's rather paranoid. If not, clearly his notions of how diplomacy works are a bit off.
2. I would suggest that this gets viewed through a lens suggesting that the Mullahcracy is in serious trouble, and that the slow cementing of military-intelligence officers in the corridors of power is not long for this world, to be replaced with an outright military state.... aka, a Shia version of a Bathist islamofascist regime.
This is a disturbingly overt escalation of Putin's long, quiet war to force Georgia to knuckle under and return to being a powerless satellite of the Kremlin. But with world attention elsewhere, it looks like he may get away with it.
UPDATE: and this morning, they note that Russia has just cut off its nose to spite its face by banning Moldovan and Georgian wines and other agricultural products. Since the latter are WTO members, and Russia is a WTO applicant, Georgia and Moldova now have the right to retaliate to a politically-inspired "duh" move by blocking Russian WTO accession until such a time as the trade sanctions are done away with. Since both countries produce good products, the short-term hit is likely simply to hurt average Russians (about whom the Kremlin cares nothing), while spurring the latter two countries to go into high-gear cementing better EU economic ties.
Putin and his FSB cronies don't seem to understand that petrodollars will not save Russia, if he insists on swapping moves that exchange blatant economic self-strangulation, in exchange for internationally damaging and domestically worthless expansionism in South Ossetia. Had Putin developed some actual strength in his country, rather than squashing his population and hitching himself to the "oil curse" in order to implement the traditionally zero-sum Russian foreign policy based on the complete xenophobic domination of all its neighbors, Russia would currently be in a position to be globally dominant. But since "the vampire" still thinks that natural resources are more potent and powerful economically than the development of human capital, we see the Bear playing 19th-century games in a 21st-century world.
Once again, Russian tyrants seem to be snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. It'd be hilarious if it didn't involve suffering people by the million.
Hahaha. Can't wait until it hits the market. Now *officially* a part of this healthy breakfast...
Friday, March 24, 2006
Unfortunately, she makes two assumptions:
1. Minorities are liberals by definition.
2. Conservative = Republican.
Numero Uno -- Now, plenty of minorities are Democrats. Currently, most. But huge swaths of the Hispanic and Black communities are socially very conservative when it comes to family-values questions. It's still a debatable point, but that's a caveat that needs pointing out.
Numbah Two -- by trying to cast matters as Dem-vs-Rep, she misses something important. Yes, better research is required. But the phenomenon itself is fairly widely noted. If you take a poll of people who identify as strongly liberal, and a similar poll of those identifying as strongly conservative... chances are, it's the latter with the kids.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Here's their press release.
Yep. Not one word of thanks to the "occupiers" who liberated them.
This is the morally-superior left. Who would tell us that liberating Iraq was a waste of time, and actually evil, and who would instead have us invade North Waziristan.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Oh, and, yes, PETA has formally come out against bears having fun. Or, I guess that'd be PABHF. Or PETABHF. Do you pronounce with a cheek waggle, or by flapping your lips?
Anyway, as long as the bear's having fun, and the people are having fun, sounds good to me. Because it's not like you could miss the existence of a problem, wrestling an unmuzzled hungry abused animal that can fold and spindle you like a pretzel...