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  • Archive for September, 2006

    Neolithic Boyz

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 30th September 2006 (All posts by )

    There are lots of reasons why I’m not making a living blogging, and one of them is that I often insist on, and even enjoy, setting the expectations of my readers in brutally honest fashion. Therefore:

    1. This post is a lengthy (3,000 words; reading time 8-15 minutes, not including the links) review of three books.
    2. Two of them are obviously related and are the sort of thing that most ChicagoBoyz readers greatly enjoy, judging by what gets blogged and commented on here.
    3. The third book, however, may appear to have been dragged in from a not-so-parallel universe by The Cat Who Walks Through Walls.
    4. Anyone who finds another instance of these three being reviewed together gets the usual payment I offer for meeting a challenge (barbecue of your choice).
    5. If this entire post turns out to be value-added to a majority of its readership, I will have a miracle to my credit. Blessed Saint Leibowitz, pray for us.
    6. Just to discourage you further — as I have remarked elsewhere, when reviewing books, I pretty obviously don’t know what I’m doing, and as one authorial subject of an earlier effort remarked, my suggestions are of, shall we say, limited value in a market lacking a large segment of people with a mindset closely resembling mine.
    7. (Parlor game: if everyone shared your tastes, which sectors of the economy would collapse, and which would boom? Discuss.)

    Well, then, to business: the first two books are Nicholas Wade’s Before the Dawn and Lee Silver’s Challenging Nature. The third is a surprise (OK, so I do occasionally pull a punch). Read on, if you dare …

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    The AP: Unbelievable

    Posted by Jonathan on 30th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Here’s a well written fisking of Associated Press CEO Tom Curley’s dishonest apologia for both the AP itself and for the AP’s notorious terrorist-photographer Bilal Hussein, who is in US custody after being caught with a bunch of terrorists and acting like a terrorist.

    My first thought when I read this kind of thing is: How stupid do MSM executives think the rest of us are? But of course it’s beyond that point now. The fact that a lot of us have come to assume that MSM reports on partisan topics should be considered bogus until proven otherwise is no longer news. It’s a shame that it’s come to that. Or maybe the shameful thing is how long many of us believed that journalism had been transformed by degreed experts into a prestige profession — one far removed from the antics of The Front Page. But J-schools don’t change human nature, and incentives to cut corners and misuse positions of trust for personal and political gain will always be with us. At least now we have the Internet to help expose some of the worst abuses and provide alternative sources of information.

    Posted in The Press | 1 Comment »

    Posted by Jonathan on 29th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Heading for Calais: A Chicagoboy sets off via the Northwest Passage to give Jacques and Dominique a piece of his mind.

    (Want to join him? Maybe these people can help.)

    UPDATE: Wise guys. I’ll give you a sea monster.

    UPDATE 2: It’s an Al-berg!

    Posted in Humor | 12 Comments »

    Education Arbitrage

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    I think this is the coolest thing I’ve seen to hit the slow as morass world of education. Jonathan coined the phrase in response: “education arbitrage.” What a fantastic idea.

    BOSTON (Reuters) – Private tutors are a luxury many American families cannot afford, costing anywhere between $25 to $100 an hour. But California mother Denise Robison found one online for $2.50 an hour — in India.

    “It’s made the biggest difference. My daughter is literally at the top of every single one of her classes and she has never done that before,” said Robison, a single mother from Modesto.

    Her 13-year-old daughter, Taylor, is one of 1,100 Americans enrolled in Bangalore-based TutorVista, which launched U.S. services last November with a staff of 150 “e-tutors” mostly in India with a fee of $100 a month for unlimited hours.

    Taylor took two-hour sessions each day for five days a week in math and English — a cost that tallies to $2.50 an hour, a fraction of the $40 an hour charged by U.S.-based online tutors such as market leader Tutor.com that draw on North American teachers, or the usual $100 an hour for face-to-face sessions.

    “I like to tell people I did private tutoring every day for the cost of a fast-food meal or a Starbucks’ coffee,” Robison said. “We did our own form of summer school all summer.”

    Jonathan and Lex said it better than I can:

    Jonathan: Agreed. The real story is that it potentially undercuts the entire
    govt-schools system. If you have kids going from failure to excellent
    performance based on a couple of hours’ tutoring per day, how much better
    would they perform if they spent four or six hours every day with their
    online tutors and blew off their schools entirely? That’s what parents will
    be thinking. The teachers’ unions are going to try to make this kind of
    tutoring illegal or so larded up with mandated bulls*** that it won’t be
    effective. I don’t think the unions can succeed, however.

    Yippee. Education arbitrage.

    Lex: EDUCATION ARBITRAGE!

    Those bast***s in the real, existing, Brezhnevite system we have here are going to EAT DEATH at long last.

    This is the beginning of the market wedge that will split the whole rotten system apart.

    I hope I hope I hope.

    I hope that’s the reception TutorVista continues to get as it catches. Check out their website here. Outsourcing hits education, disintermediation with a vengence…

    Posted in Education | 18 Comments »

    Nisbett – Geography of Thought

    Posted by James McCormick on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    [cross-posted on Albion's Seedlings]

    Nisbett, Richard E., The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently … And Why, Free Press, 2003, 263 pp.

    Previous posts for this blog has drawn on history, political science, technology trends, and a bit of economics. Only occasionally does an Anglosphere discussion turn to the biological or social sciences.

    Some time ago, I put forward a proposal that the central unique attribute of the Anglosphere (its “secret weapon”) was its (inadvertent) ideal social structure for optimizing communal decision-making – the so-called “wisdom of crowds” effect. This proposed advantage is a matter of degree, drawing as it does on a universal capacity of humans in groups. Differences, however, even small ones, can have a big impact.
    In the course of preparing materials for a website on medical decision-making for patients, I stumbled on a book with additional significance for the debate about the underlying nature of the Anglosphere. This book takes the biggest of “big picture” overviews of human cognition and perception.

    Geography of Thought, by eminent U Mich social psychologist Richard Nisbett is a plain-language summary of years of social psychology research that suggest there are profound and substantial differences between the way Asian and Western cultures (and individuals) perceive the world.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes | 10 Comments »

    Jan Pehechaan Ho! Jeena Aasaan Ho!

    Posted by Lexington Green on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Posted in Humor, Video | 8 Comments »

    Something You Probably Shouldn’t Read Immediately Before Going to Bed

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Here’s a report (pdf) on the results of some simulations run by the RAND Corp. on the effects of a nuclear bomb that arrives in southern California in a shipping container. The short summary of the probable near- and long-term consequences: very bad.

    Of course this is a simulation and it’s impossible to know how accurate it is. The attack it describes may never happen, and if it does happen the effects might not be as bad as predicted. Or we might be attacked in other ways. The more important questions, which the RAND simulation can’t address and which may not be accessible via simulations, are, what are the odds of a WMD attack in the first place? and if the odds are much greater than nil, how can we minimize them?

    Posted in Terrorism | Comments Off

    A History of the Middle East in Maps

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Here.

    Check it out.

    (via Rachel)

    Posted in History, Middle East | 1 Comment »

    Sad Anniversary

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Norman Geras notes that today is the 65th anniversary of the Babi Yar massacre in which Nazi troops murdered 34,000 Jews near Kiev on Yom Kippur 1941.

    Posted in History | Comments Off

    Roger Scruton Knows What to Appreciate And What Not To

    Posted by Ginny on 27th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Noam Chomsky is rather despicable. But Ive always had mixed feelings when his name came up: one of my first classes at U.T. was in transformational grammar, taught by one of hisi students, fresh out of grad school himself. I remember it with great pleasure for a personal and trivial reason (I met my husband) but also as just a great class. Our teacher, young & fresh faced, would become visibly excited, walk back and forth in front of the room, motioning to the chalkboard and its diagrams of syntax & sense. I can still see him, leaning against the wall and intently looking at the board. Hed hold the chalk against his lips, then suddenly move across and move an element, point to a connection. We were there, we were being taught, but for a moment, hed forgotten us, absorbed in the idea in front of him. We were watching thought engaged, cheerful thought in motion. It was electric – that was man thinking, drawing us into his world, Chomsky’s world. We loved Chomsky’s famous debate with Skinner. We were, of course, on Chomsky’s side.

    And in that way, we still are. His analysis that blends nurture and nature leads us to understand language & human nature. The sense of universality that lies beneath these sentences informs my thinking to this day. I never studied trans gram again; that teacher, energizing as he was, didnt get tenure. Yes, much has fallen by the way. But today, Roger Scruton discusses Chomsky by noting that electricity as well as how far Chomsky has fallen in his ability to connect ideas, to selflessly lose himself in thought. Scruton’s first paragraph is clear: Noam Chomsky’s popularity owes little or nothing to the eminent place that he occupies in the world of ideas. That place was won many years ago in the science of linguistics, and no expert in the subject would, I think, dispute Prof. Chomsky’s title to it. But if Chomsky thinking like my old teacher could be a beautiful sight, Chomsky feeling is less attractive. At one time, he lost himself in ideas; now, as Scruton concludes: he is not valued for his truths but for his rage, which stokes the rage of his admirers. He feeds the self-righteousness of America’s enemies, who feed the self-righteousness of Prof. Chomsky. And in the ensuing blaze everything is sacrificed, including the constructive criticism that America so much needs, and that America–unlike its enemies, Prof. Chomsky included–is prepared to listen to.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 7 Comments »

    Who Would Be On the Leash?

    Posted by Ginny on 27th September 2006 (All posts by )

    We often hear of the security that dictators enforce – with Mussolini the trains ran on time, with Franco anyone could walk in the streets at night, with Stalin. . . But Iraq the Model notes what we sometimes forget but really know, peace is not an absence of crime but the presence of a deeper order. He considers the question: “Is dictatorship a guarantee for keeping the leash on those extremists?” And his answer is swift:

    Absolutely not, dictatorship will not and cannot guarantee limiting the growth of extremism because extremist groups are the children of those regimes and a natural outcome of the way those regimes ruled these countries.

    Dictatorships have all the lust for power and dirty mentality required to ally with the extremists against their enemies whether those are their own people or the west and its ideas of reform and liberty.

    A peace enforced by a dictator is mere appearance, it is not the peace of a community in which citizens have (for the most part) internalized good behavior.

    Posted in Iraq | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 27th September 2006 (All posts by )

    The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them. At Rotterdam, London, Warsaw, and half a hundred other places, they put their rather naive theory into operation. They sowed the wind, and now they are going to reap the whirlwind.

    Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris (See also this.)

    Posted in History, War and Peace | 9 Comments »

    The Cool Fifties, The Hot Sixties

    Posted by Ginny on 24th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Reading Sheilas charming if obsessive Dean Martin posts, I thought of how often lately my mind has gone to Robert Mitchum. As one of the commentators observed, they shared a kind of coolness one sang well, one acted well, but they kept a joke going; they kept a distance. Martin was a cool drunk, the jokes were on him the graceful goofiness Sheila rhapsodizes over – but that freed him; he had a dark suit elegance. He didnt want to be seen trying. That era was cool & ironic & silky; those guys didnt want to put much on the line they eschewed earnestness. Of course, James Bond, that favorite reading matter of John Kennedy, was cool – like his martinis, his music.

    My husband once asked if my uncle ever said anything that wasnt ironic. As a child Id always been put off by that he seemed to be laughing at me. Actually, he was. I was clumsy & melodramatic. We may feel sympathy for the objects of Mr. Bennets sharp tongue and Jane Austen lets us know by the novels end that she does not find her characters wry humor the best tone for a patriarch; nonetheless, we like cool, we smile at wit; we value the softer, gentler form as Jane Austen probes societys foibles, making us aware of a proportionality that remains useful two hundred years later. Sarcasm, the blunt weapon of an adolescent’s anger, tries to be cool, but it fails. Irony is detached, precise; it is an adult’s diversion.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 6 Comments »

    Like Swimming in Glue

    Posted by David Foster on 23rd September 2006 (All posts by )

    The Washington Post has a really depressing story on the status of the program to issue unforgeable ID cards to workers at ports and other key transportation facilities. President Bush signed the worker-ID program into law in November 2002 as part of broader maritime security legislation. The program would streamline checks of criminal-background files, terrorist watch lists and immigration status for designated workers, and cards would be issued using biometric data to prevent anyone other than the cardholder from using the ID. Homeland Security officials initially told port operators that they expected to begin initial issuance of the cards by the end of 2003.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Terrorism | 5 Comments »

    Amaranth Blowup

    Posted by In-Cog-Nito on 23rd September 2006 (All posts by )

    Hedge fund blowups fascinate me. You may have heard about the latest: Amaranth Advisors and Brian Hunter. It’s the biggest blowup since Long Term Capital Management in 1998. The markets barely blinked this time. The difference is that LTCM traded in bonds, and with bonds, banks give you much greater leverage – ie they lend you more money on margin. LTCM had 5 billion in equity, borrowed up to $125 billion, and leveraged up via derivatives to $1.25 trillion. LTCM borrowed about 20x-25x their equity. Hunter borrowed about 5x his equity. Assuming Amaranth let him run 1/3 of their portfolio, or $3 billion, Hunter borrowed about $12 billion off that $3 billion equity, for a combined $15 billion bet. With 5x leverage, a 20% decline wipes you out. Leverage kills if you get it wrong.

    Posted in Markets and Trading | 12 Comments »

    What do You Call a Milestone Which Doesn’t Measure Anything?

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 23rd September 2006 (All posts by )

    Imagine, if you will, that there is a paranoid recluse living on your block. Sullen and unpleasant, he spends most of his time inside his house and actively avoids anything approaching civilized discourse with his neighbors.

    Then, one bright and sunny day, he murders someone innocently strolling down the sidewalk. He barricades himself inside of his home before the police can arrive.

    There would be an attempt at negotiation, of course. It is well worth the effort if you can get the perp to give up without having to risk more lives. But if that doesnt happen, if he decides to commit suicide-by-police, eventually the forced entry team is going to have to suit up and do what has to be done to protect everyone who lives in that neighborhood.

    But, as the body armor is being strapped on and the equipment is being checked, what would happen if the SWAT guys were told that they had to back off just as soon as one of their members was killed? An innocent person died, so they have to give up and leave when another life is lost. That way there is some sort of cosmic balance, you see?

    They would look at you like you were some kind of freakin idiot because, let us face it, you would be a freakin idiot to suggest such a thing.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Shana Tova!

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd September 2006 (All posts by )

    Best wishes for a sweet and healthy year to all Chicagoboyz contributors and readers.

    Posted in Announcements | Comments Off

    More on Torture

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st September 2006 (All posts by )

    Mitch’s old post on the McCain Amendment just received a thoughtful comment, almost one year later, from a commenter who points out some of the unpleasant realities of the practice known as “waterboarding.” It really does sound bad. Is the commenter’s characterization accurate? I don’t know but it seems plausible.

    Let’s stipulate that waterboarding is torture. I think it is but I could be mistaken. It’s clearly a lot less damaging to suspects than are many traditional tortures. If, as the commenter claims, few people can last more than 14 seconds then so much the better. They can reveal what they know and go on to live their lives, though perhaps imprisoned, at least in one piece physically.

    The real question is what to do instead of waterboarding people whom we think have valuable information. Currently we tacitly allow torture by other countries to which we and our allies send suspects for interrogation. The recent UK bomb plot was stopped based on information gained from such a suspect who was sent to Pakistan and tortured. We are going to have more such ticking-bomb situations in the future. Should we observe all of the niceties and accept a higher rate of successful attacks by terrorists? Should we waterboard some suspects ourselves? Should we extradite them to places such as Pakistan and Jordan and look the other way when they are tortured (really tortured)? These are the only options. Choose one. There is no free lunch.

    I agree with Wretchard and other commentators (and, I think, President Bush) who argue that public officials who oppose torture of terror suspects should explain why as-yet-theoretical risks of civil-rights violations of suspects outweigh demonstrated risks of mass-death from terror attacks. I am not saying that people who oppose torture have no case, only that they should make one. So far they have mainly asserted that torture is bad without comparing it to the alternatives and weighing the costs and benefits. That’s an evasion. We should have a debate.

    Or perhaps, by their silence on the cost/benefit issue, torture opponents have already conceded the argument. I hope that’s not the case. I think the country would be better off to debate this and other important issues openly.

    Posted in War and Peace | 46 Comments »

    Reality Check

    Posted by Ginny on 21st September 2006 (All posts by )

    Glass Half full: Reynolds links to Frank Warner’s post on the increasingly popular Iraq War. Surely this uptick partially reflects Bush’s series of speeches (surely a no-brainer). The news, however, hasn’t been particularly positive – Abizaid on Lehrer last night while strongly stay-the-course & long-term optimistic, is not too sunny about the near future. (Lehrer’s questions demonstrate the thesis of another Warner post.)

    I suspect two factors may have entered our calculations: a) a sense that comes from the bad news that this is a fight that can be lost and b) a sense from the reaction to the Pope’s speech that losing would be a very, very bad thing. Attacks on churches & the murder of a nun whose life has clearly been given to the service of others provide reality checks. (And yes, random murders by various other obsessives occur in all societies – the attitude of those in authority is everything.)

    By the way, this was my introduction to Free Frank Warner’s blog; I like his slogan: A liberal for liberation: Dreams can’t come true if you never wake up.

    Posted in Iraq | 9 Comments »

    Chaplin — The First Scientific American

    Posted by James McCormick on 20th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Chaplin, Joyce E., The First Scientific American: Benjamin Franklin and the Pursuit of Genius, Basic Books, NY, 2006. 421 pp.

    [cross-posted on Albion's Seedlings]

    Not too long ago, I reviewed Practical Matter: Newton’s Science in the Service of Industry and Empire 1687-1851 describing the impact of Newton’s Principia on the development of public science and technology. That book briefly mentioned the fact that Benjamin Franklin’s influence was dramatically exhanced by the fact that he studied electricity … a subject of great fascination in the mid-18th century in Europe.

    Scientific American‘s podcast recently interviewed the author of a new biography of Benjamin Franklin, which looks at his life from the perspective of his science. Harvard professor Joyce Chaplin has written a wonderful book for anyone wondering how science (natural philosophy), politics, and personality blended in the amazing life (and subsequent myths) of Ben Franklin. Note: the book has no association with the famous magazine.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes | 3 Comments »

    The Bombing of Japanese Cities as Omen

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th September 2006 (All posts by )

    A few days ago I watched part of a public-TV documentary, whose title I didn’t catch, about the US firebombing of Japanese cities. It was factually interesting but also full of hindsight judgment of the whole enterprise as immoral. (It’s possible that I missed something as I did not watch the entire documentary.) There was an emphasis on the death, destruction and horrible suffering that the bombing caused in Japan, and also on deaths among American air crews. There were interviews with former B-29 crew members who expressed moral qualms about what they had done.

    This was all reasonable. I have no doubt that our bombing of German and Japanese cities was one of the most terrible things ever done. But what made the documentary tendentious was that it left out the political and military context; there was no more than superficial discussion of what led the USA to adopt such brutal tactics. The remarkable tenacity and cruelty of the Japanese fighters we encountered in our island-hopping campaign weren’t discussed, nor was the terrifying prospect of invading the Japanese home islands — a prospect which, until the atomic bombings, appeared certain and would have certainly killed millions. Instead the documentary framed our decision to burn the cities as having been based on Curtis LeMay’s desire to find a more-effective alternative to using inaccurate high-explosive bombs against Japanese factories. Of course, when you present the story in such a narrow way it makes it look like we went too far. The documentary might have been redeemed if someone had said: Yes, we did terrible things, but they only became conceivable late in the war after we learned what the enemy was capable of, and the alternatives were all much worse. But no one said that, at least not that I heard.

    I don’t think this documentary could have been made in the 1960s or 1970s. It would have been widely seen as revisionist. Too many people were still aware, either from direct experience or from having learned about the war from family elders or in school or from the media, of the rationale for destroying the Japanese cities. But nowadays probably a lot of the people doing film production, and certainly a lot of the viewers, are too young and too scantily educated about World War II to recognize an incomplete historical treatment when they see one. This is a great pity in the context of the current war, because people in the democracies need to understand that insufficient seriousness in fighting radical Islam now could in the long run lead to a situation in which we kill millions in order to get the fight over with and protect our people. It could happen. The history of our war with Japan makes clear what we are capable of doing to an enemy who provokes us sufficiently. The Islamists, who are as cruel as the Japanese were, need to understand this too, but probably won’t until it’s too late.

    (And of course these are not original thoughts on my part. I am grateful to a number of bloggers, as well as commenters on this blog, for helping me to think them through for myself.)

    UPDATE: In the comments, Jim Bennett suggests that the Islamists are making the same specific miscalculation as the Japanese did: “The Japanese thought that suicide tactics would demoralize the Americans and serve as a demonstration of Japanese resolve. They were right, in a way, but they failed to anticipate what the results of that effect would be.” The thugs and autocrats who make war on us often have a poor understanding of the political dynamics of democratic societies in general and of American society in particular. Eventually they tend to overplay their hands.

    The real game is the competition for public opinion in our country. Successful war means an early consensus for defeating the enemy; unsuccessful war means no consensus on what to do or even what the problem is — until the enemy miscalculates and provokes us severely. Both scenarios have the same ending for the enemy.

    The only successful enemies the USA has are ones with limited goals who are shrewd enough to remain below our threshold of provocation. The leaders of wartime Japan were insufficiently shrewd and failed to limit their goals. The Islamists appear to be repeating those mistakes.

    Posted in War and Peace | 14 Comments »

    What’s Wrong With This Picture?

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Tatyana photographs the sidewalk display and storefront of some Muslim missionaries in Brooklyn and gets accosted by the Muslims, who try to intimidate her and call the cops. Instead of telling the Muslims that public photography is legal, the cops defer to them and tell Tatyana to stop stirring up trouble. The Muslims file a harrassment complaint against Tatyana and she files one against them. Tatyana notes that if the missionary follows through on his threat to sue her he will be able to find out where she lives, and notes the implied threat.

    It sounds like Tatyana could use some good legal advice. Perhaps some of our readers in NYC could provide suggestions?

    We weren’t there, of course, but from Tatyana’s description it almost sounds like the NYC police are following a policy of appeasing Muslims to avoid trouble. But of course the cops wouldn’t do that, would they?

    Background:

    First encounter with the Muslim missionaries.

    Second encounter and aftermath.

    UPDATE: I am closing comments on this post. My intent here was to provide some modest publicity for what strikes me as troubling behavior on the part of NY police, and also to provide a venue for constructive suggestions for Tatyana. I am not interested in providing a forum for second-guessing. I think it should go without saying that you should be able to photograph people on a NYC sidewalk without someone screaming at you or calling the cops.

    This would ordinarily be a minor case for anyone who wasn’t involved. However, we are no longer living in ordinary times. One of the first thoughts I had when I read Tatyana’s posts was that this is the kind of event that happens in Europe, and the NY police officers acted as one might expect French or Dutch police to act. By placating the difficult parties they reward and therefore encourage bad behavior. I think it’s important that this kind of mindless, “we don’t want any trouble” response by government functionaries not become the norm in the USA.

    Posted in Islam | 23 Comments »

    Really Trivial Trivia

    Posted by Ginny on 19th September 2006 (All posts by )

    In answer to Chel, I tend to watch whatever the hell is on. But, frankly, I’ve never seen any of the three that you mention. I guess I just leave on other junk. Yes, I’m sure Lex is right, I’m wasting my life away.

    Speaking of which, in a previous post about the sixties, I mentioned that those were also the years of the Dean Martin Show – though I doubt many of you guys in your forties think of that when you’re thinking of the sixties. Tim Blair linked to this thread; sure it’s obsessive but sometimes its fun to see something through someone else’s more appreciative eyes, it gave me a new & rather pleasant horizon.

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 6 Comments »

    Arrrgh

    Posted by Ginny on 19th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Talk Like a Pirate Day: Over at the Boston Globe we can test our knowledge. For visuals, YouTube helps us master The Five A’s. And Arrrgh, we are here and alive.

    Posted in Blogging, Humor | 3 Comments »

    Minor Aside

    Posted by Ginny on 18th September 2006 (All posts by )

    Update: Modern news makes thoughtful discussion difficult; the nature of the media is that reporters do what any sensible human being would not: chop up the Pope’s speech in such a way that drama would abound, a nun would be murdered & churches burned. Those who committed these atrocities are at fault – not the reporters. But the reporters do make any discussion on the level Lex suggets difficult in any public forum. If the press had intelligence & moral levels that came anywhere close to their levels of self-righteousness, real discussions might be more common. Noting all this, the network of 24-hour Anna Nicole Smith did put up a discussion that brings a certain clarity to the discussion of Benedict’s depth.

    Second Update: Instapundit links to this piece by the Anchoress (on Pajamas Media) that argues the Pope is, indeed, the person to confront Islamic beliefs. Since the positions Islamists take are religious, they should be, she argues, dealt with in terns if a religious dialogue. Certainly, the validity of forced conversion is the province of the religious and not the secular.

    Posted in Islam | 50 Comments »