Went to a big street fair today. Great weather, big crowd. Here’s a picture of the Obamacare signup booth.
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Went to a big street fair today. Great weather, big crowd. Here’s a picture of the Obamacare signup booth.
-Will Israel Be the Next Energy Superpower? – A balanced, thoughtful look at recent developments from Arthur Herman. There is cause for optimism.
-Wildlife photographer pleads guilty to violating Endangered Species Act – The gist of the story is that some guy was photographing “endangered” birds from less than 500 feet away, which apparently is a violation of the Endangered Species Act, and was turned in to the feds by zealous environmentalists who saw him do this. Of course he copped a plea. If he had taken his chances in court he could have ended up in jail for years. As it is he may still do time and will end up with a felony conviction and probably a big fine to make an example of him. The birds he supposedly harassed aren’t even rare, merely locally rare in Florida, and he didn’t harm any of them. At most he should have been fined a few hundred bucks and warned to stay farther away from the wildlife. But nowadays everything is a federal crime with draconian penalties, and you can’t fart in a wetland without violating some rule. And the enforcement agencies have to justify their budgets. He should have left the birds alone, but his punishment is cruelly excessive. Some of the comments in response to the article are remarkably heartless. Not just the EPA but also the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Park Service deserve substantial defunding.
Well, OK. No offense to Roger Simon but he was expecting too much. Fox News is a business that has done well by catering to audiences — on the Center and Right of the political spectrum — that the other media companies ignored.
Conservatives and libertarians like to complain about Bill O’Reilly because he is an annoying blowhard, a bully and a suck-up interviewer who claims to be conservative but allows himself to be used by leftist pols. Why does the supposedly conservative network continue to employ O’Reilly? Because he has a huge audience and makes the network a lot of money. Making money is what Roger Ailes is about. He’s not in business to foster conservatism. He caters to a conservative audience because that’s where the money has been, but as other networks have moved even farther to the left he can now pick off even more of their audience by moving Fox to the left. It’s not like Fox’s conservative and libertarian audience has alternative sources of TV news.
Fox is a bit like the Republican Party. If your organization is the only game in town for people on your side of the issues, you can maximize your constituency/votes/donations/budget/profit by being squishy enough to capture some of your ideological competitors’ audience. So now James Carville and Bob Beckel work for Fox.
Conservatives and libertarians should avoid dependency on one news network, just as members of any constituency should avoid being dependent on one political party.
SYDNEY (AP) – Australian police seized about 180 million Australian dollars ($162 million) worth of methamphetamine hidden inside kayaks shipped from China, officials said Wednesday.
Love the headline!
Posted in That's NOT Funny | Comments Off
The conclusions of this study seem consistent with observation.
In two online studies (total N = 1215), respondents completed personality inventories and a survey of their Internet commenting styles. Overall, strong positive associations emerged among online commenting frequency, trolling enjoyment, and troll identity, pointing to a common construct underlying the measures. Both studies revealed similar patterns of relations between trolling and the Dark Tetrad of personality: trolling correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism, using both enjoyment ratings and identity scores. Of all personality measures, sadism showed the most robust associations with trolling and, importantly, the relationship was specific to trolling behavior. Enjoyment of other online activities, such as chatting and debating, was unrelated to sadism. Thus cyber-trolling appears to be an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.
There’s also this (via The Big Picture):
We’re a mere twenty years into human mass-networking via anonymous electronic connection. There are hints of major Internet-driven social changes that we don’t yet understand or even perceive. Much Internet activity seems to be fake. Many people online aren’t who they appear to be. Real-world activities, as in relations between the sexes, appear to be changing faster than ever as information propagates and incentives change in record time. It will be interesting to make sense of the social changes of the 1990s through 2010s from the perspective of twenty years hence, if we live long enough.
UPDATE: The discount code doesn’t work, so please disregard this post.
A couple of Iranian navy ships are slowly making their way to the Americas. What’s going on? J. E. Dyer has a long and thoughtful post:
That said, two things are worth reiterating. One, the U.S. does not have a constant-ready missile defense network that would protect the central and southeastern United States from an MRBM threat emanating from the south. We are unprotected on this axis. Shifting to a footing of 24/365 alert and anti-missile protection – e.g., by deploying Patriot systems in the continental U.S. or Navy Aegis ships offshore – would constitute a new, un-resourced requirement. We’d have to cut back defense operations elsewhere to meet it.
Two, our ability to react against the “shooter” is limited by the forces we have ready today. We don’t have extra ships and aircraft to deploy for a deterrent presence in Central America. We could react after the fact with B-2 bombers, and possibly other conventional forms of attack, such as submarine-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. But we would have to attack to mount a response, in (most probably) Venezuela or Cuba, and that response would be inherently escalatory.
It’s quite possible that our current administration would view that as a bridge too far. Realistically, I think the military would view the prospect with strong disfavor. Our ready forces would not have such a preponderance of power, or such advantages of geography, that we could do it easily and without inconvenience.
Bottom line: MRBMs down south would constitute a material transformation of our security footing in the hemisphere. It’s a development we couldn’t live with.
The “red flag” in this whole saga is the concentration of verbal threats from the Iranians, at a time when they are making an unprecedented naval deployment to the Americas; they are mounting an unusual outreach with Fatah; and they are close enough to nuclearization – even by the expected route, as opposed to the speculative North Korean option – that dashing to the finish line is the only step left.
The quality of some of the Iranian threats is deeply silly. But this doesn’t have the feel of random nuttiness to it. The Iranians are up to something.
I agree with Dyer, who implies in the post (and states explicitly in a comment) that the lowest-risk course of action for us would be to sink the ship of the two that has a hold big enough to transport ballistic missiles.
Dyer’s argument is long and well supported. You will have to read the whole thing to get the full thrust of her reasoning.
My take on Iran continues to be that if it gets nuclear weapons, as now seems certain, it will use them. It will not necessarily use them to attack Israel or otherwise blow some place up, at least not in the near future. It will use them to gain leverage, to extort valuable concessions from its adversaries, including us. Obama’s feckless appeasement of the mullahs has whetted their appetite for aggression and confirmed that they have at least three more years of clear sailing ahead. They will press this advantage. We are not going to be able to contain them, because they will continue to look for opportunities to place us in situations where our disinclination to fight will give them victories by default. The current situation, with the two ships, appears to be the opener. We have a lot to lose. If we want to stop Iran we are going to have to confront it militarily at some point. The sooner we do this the less costly it will be.
Instapundit notes the passing of Barry Rubin, whose Rubin Report posts (later shared on PJ Media) were among the most thoughtful and accessible analyses of Middle Eastern politics. This is a great loss. My condolences to Mr. Rubin’s family.
WHEN A FLY FALLS INTO A CUP OF COFFEE
The Italian – throws the cup, breaks it, and walks away in a fit of rage.
The German – carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it and makes a new cup of coffee.
The Frenchman – takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee.
The Chinese – eats the fly and throws away the coffee.
The Russian – Drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge.
The Israeli – sells the coffee to the Frenchman, sells the fly to the Chinese, sells the cup to the Italian, drinks a cup of tea, and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.
The Palestinian – blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, the Chinese, the German and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of tea to the Palestinian…
Caroline Glick, Khodorkovsky and the freedom agenda:
Both the Iranian democracy activists then and the Ukrainian protesters today demonstrated through their actions that they do not seek the mere overthrow of unrepresentative, repressive governments. They seek freedom, and are willing to work for it. All the Iranians needed then, and all the Ukrainians ask for today, is assistance from foreign powers, just as George Washington’s Continental Army required French assistance to defeat the British Empire.
While those are easy cases to understand, the lesson of Putin’s Russia and of post-Saddam Iraq is that freedom doesn’t sprout from thin air. The only way to plant democracy in nations unfamiliar with the habits of liberty is to cultivate them, relentlessly and unapologetically, over time.
Sunrise, New Year’s Eve, 2011.
A long and thoughtful article in Commentary by Michael Medved & John Podhoretz.
Republicans will win meaningful victories only when they lose their appetite for martyrdom and fratricide and concentrate on forcing the other side to pay a political price for its own incompetent performance and dysfunctional ideology. Most Republicans, as the history of the last 40 years demonstrates, want precisely that. The question now is whether this real majority will be overrun. If that happens, the truest beneficiary of the intra-Republican civil war will be the Democratic Party, and those who divided the right will deserve some share of the blame for the advancement of the very policies and principles they claim to abhor.
The authors make what may be the best case possible for the politicians Tea Partiers think of as the GOP leadership. The gist of the argument is that 1) primary challenges have substantial long-term costs in Republican political effectiveness, and 2) the national political environment has changed in ways that make political quarrelling personally rewarding for unscrupulous operators who do not have the good of the Party at heart. Also, the authors assume that continued Republican forbearance on important issues such as Obamacare would have yielded better results than the confrontational tactics used by Senator Ted Cruz and other Tea Party favorites.
The main problem with the article is that it ignores significant reasons for conservatives’ dissatisfaction with the Republican leadership: it loses winnable elections, concedes important principles by refusing to engage Democrats on ideas, pulls punches in publicly criticising President Obama and his subordinates and has treated conservative constituents with contempt. The point about needing to “concentrate on forcing the other side to pay a political price for its own incompetent performance and dysfunctional ideology” applies at least as strongly to Senator Mitch McConnell and Representative John Boehner as to Ted Cruz.
The authors are correct about the rise of mercenary political consultants and solo-operator pols whose interests do not always align with those of the voters, but so what? These trends, driven by mass-media and now the Internet, have existed for at least forty years and affect both political parties. The Democrats appear to be coping well on the whole, and President Obama owes much of his political success to his ability to exploit this new environment.*
The bottom line is that if the Republicans were winning more elections no one would care about the other issues. To argue as the authors do that Republicans used to win elections by appealing to the moderate middle of the electorate misses the point. The political environment has changed and Democrats have so far been more skilled than Republicans in adapting. The Tea Party’s favorite politicians may be using suboptimal tactics but at least they understand that new approaches are needed. Sometimes an organization needs driven, self-centered people who will try new things when more conventionally responsible leaders won’t. If your leaders keep failing you eventually replace them even if they argue plausibly that they will soon turn things around. Accountability for failure is a prerequisite for success.
The Republican “civil war” isn’t really a war. It’s more like a struggle for control of the board of directors of a public company that has been losing money for years and has a large group of unhappy shareholders. Such a struggle can be healthy if it gets the company to replace management and implement reforms, even though insiders who benefit from the status quo may lose out in the process.
* It may be that the Democrats will crash and burn electorally because of Obamacare or their various scandals and foreign-policy debacles, but these are own-goals that Republicans had little to do with. Similarly, the Republicans would have done better if several Tea Party favored Congressional candidates in 2010 and 2012 had not turned out to be seriously flawed. But if those candidates had won President Obama most likely would still have been reelected and would still have done great harm to the country.
even if he didn’t get Obamacare passed.
This is a cross-post from my photoblog of a selection of my better, or at least more preferred, photographic results from 2013. I’ve posted some of them here previously. You may order prints or greeting cards by clicking on the image you’re interested in.
Click the “read the rest” link to see all of the images.
-The requirements for an online “captcha” image are that 1) bots can’t read it and 2) people can. Many web designers seem to pay attention only to the first requirement.
-Where possible, product designers and firmware programmers should live with their products for a while before releasing them commercially. This would reduce the incidence of design errors such as in my cell phone, which beeps when the battery is being charged and has reached full capacity with the phone turned on. Because what kind of idiot leaves his phone on in his bedroom while charging the battery overnight?
-If you put me on hold you really don’t value my business, no matter what your recorded message says.
-Why do many drivers stay at the white line instead of moving into the intersection while waiting to turn left across traffic?
-Speaking of which, if women really are just as good drivers, on average, as men are, why are so many of them so touchy about any suggestion that they aren’t?
David P. Goldman (“Spengler”):
Accepting the settlements is the sine qua non of any viable peace agreement. It does Israel no good to defend Israel’s right to exist but to condemn the settlers, as does Alan Dershowitz, not to mention the leaders of liberal Jewish denominations.
I believe in land for peace. That is a tautology: In territorial disputes the two main variables always are land and peace. But that implies more land for more peace and less land for less peace. The Palestinian Arabs had an opportunity to accept an Israeli state on just 5,500 square miles of land in 1947, and refused to do so. The armistice lines of 1948 left Israel with 8,550 square miles, and the Arab side refused to accept that. In 1967 Israel took an additional 5,628 square miles of land in dispute under international law; Jordan does not claim it, and no legal Arab authority exists to claim it. It is not “illegally occupied.” It has never been adjudicated by a competent authority.
To demand the 1948 armistice lines (the so-called 1967 borders) is to refuse any penalty for refusing to make peace in the past. That is the same as refusing any peace at all. Wars end when one side accepts defeat, and abandons the hope of restoring the status quo ante by force of arms. 1947 was a catastrophe (“Nakba”) for the Palestinian Arabs, to be sure, but it was a catastrophe of their own making; until they accept at least some degree of responsibility for the catastrophe, they will not be reconciled to any peace agreement. That is precisely what Palestine’s negotiator Saeb Erekat meant when he eschewed any recognition of Israel as a Jewish nation-state because “I cannot change my narrative.” The “narrative” is that the Jews are an alien intrusion into the Muslim Middle East and eventually must be eliminated by one means or another.
Of course this is right. What kind of stable resolution to hostilities requires the self-ethnic cleansing of disputed territory by one side? The only peace deal worth a damn would be one in which the West Bank Arabs welcomed their Jewish neighbors. That the Arabs, aided by their American and European lawyers, insist on a Judenrein Judea and Samaria is proof of continued bad faith. Israel should sit tight and retain all of its military advantages.