Archive for July, 2008
This evening I was wandering roung the National Portrait Gallery, just off Trafalgar Square, as it was open late (I have an encyclopaedic knowledge of which museums and art galleries keep late hours on which day of the week in London). Among other small exhibitions I found a selection of caricatures from Vanity Fair in the late nineteenth century.
There was a very fine picture by Baron Melchiorre Delfico, the man who created the Vanity Fair style in caricatures, of Baron de Reuter, founder of Reuter’s news agency, now known Thomson Reuters. The man clearly had a very impressive pair of mutton-chop whiskers. What was particularly interesting, however, is the comment that the editor had added in that long-ago issue of the magazine (December 14, 1872, since you ask).
As foreign news is now managed it is not too much to say that he who has the command of telegrams has the command of public opinion on foreign affairs.
First telegrams, then telephones, satellite phones, even e-mails. That is how journalists have viewed their own position in the world for some time now. It is not easy to accept that the Vanity Fair editor’s comment no longer applies.
Obama’s sermon to the Germans has been much discussed in the blogosphere. In this post, I’d like to focus on one thread of the speech: Obama’s words about the Berlin Airlift:
Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Actually, of course, a very large number of bombs had been dropped on Berlin and other German cities, just a few years earlier. Americans were in Berlin at all only due to the application of military force, without which, Berlin would have continued to be a Nazi city–and one in which a Barack Obama, if he were allowed to continue living at all, would certainly not have been allowed to give a political speech.
And Berlin–along with the rest of West Germany–avoided Soviet invasion and domination only because of American military force. The unarmed transport planes that supplied Berlin would not have survived had the Soviets not been aware of the armed fighters and bombers–and nuclear weapons–that were in American possession.
Read the rest of this entry »
I heard today that Senator Ted Stevens is in a bit of trouble. Honestly, I don’t know if he did anything wrong, but he looks to be under investigation for corruption of some sort.
Stevens may be a crook, but he may very well be a good guy – I dunno. When I hear his name, I think of two things. One thing I remember about him is the bridge to nowhere.
The other thing I think of when I hear the name Ted Stevens is the famous “series of tubes” quote, put into song masterfully by someone who has too much time on their hands. Sorry to the fans of Stevens, but whenever I hear his name, the first thing that pops into my head is – hey, that is the “series of tubes” guy!
That is not exactly true as there most definitely is such a geographical concept as Europe and even a cultural one, though there have been enormous problems in defining the latter ever since it emerged in the fifteenth century or so. The great historian of the Renaissance, Sir John Hale, has written about it at length in many of his works. What there is not is a political and social entity called “Europe”.
There are few things more irritating than blithe American assumptions about “Europe” and “Europeans”, all of which have been in evidence in connection with Obama’s Berlin speech, which seems to have been a little less than overwhelming according to what people who were there say.
In a post on Ships and the Global Economy, I mentioned a sail-assist technology which has been develope by a German company. Operating something like a kite, the SkySails system is said to be capable of lowering vessel fuel costs by 10-35%.
Comes now Compagnie de Transport Maritime à la Voile which has entered the cargo transportation business with a pure-sail approach. The 106-year-old Kathleen & May will be running wine from Bordeaux to Dublin. CMTV has chartered several additional sailing ships and will be using them to ship products such as coffee and jam. The company also intends to have new vessels built to its specifications.
Here’s CMTV’s website. Note that shippers get a “logo sticker” that they can attach to their products, certifying that “goods are transferred to consumers in a clean and socially responsible way that contributes to sustainable development, without neglecting the requirement to exchange necessary goods between people.”
I doubt if pure sail will ever recapture a significant portion of the world ocean transportation industry, but it may well thrive in some niche markets, serving people who want to buy products which are defined as “green” or “sustainable” and who may also enjoy the association with the romance of sail.
Sail-assist technologies for powered vessels, on the other hand, may have a significant role to play, particularly if oil prices continue to climb and if environmental restrictions mandate the replacement of bunker fuel with the more-expensive distillates.
Here’s a report on the test on the SkySails system on the multipurpose cargo ship Michael A. Note the interesting comparison of the tractive force from the sail with the thrust from an Airbus A318 turbine engine.
CMTV item via Checks with Chart.
Posted by Lexington Green on 26th July 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Lex has attempted admirably to try to force my hand as far as popular love songs go. His last post was a very good one, and he has admittedly made me start to unveil some of my aces in the hole. Here is a love song unlike too many others. Perfect Day.
Slow, nice, does he love her? Does she love him?
“You just keep me hanging on”…are they really in love? Is he going to kill himself?
“You made me forget myself. I thought I was someone else, someone good.” I love this line.
Is it two people? Drugs? It is for you to decide. I know my feelings on it. Lou Reed, “Perfect Day”, live.
Touche, Lex, I await your next play.
I am a middle man. I run a business that sells HVAC products and equipment to contractors. We do not do any retail.
In my world, it is common for the manufacturer of the equipment that I am selling to set up factory direct stores that welcome contractor business. It makes it interesting, to say the least. Imagine you are doing your best you can to sell a company’s products, then they set up a store down the street a few blocks and sell directly to your customers. It may sound weird to some, but it happens all the time in my industry.
We sell service, delivery, no damage, taking care of problems, and basically do everything that the factory direct stores can’t, or won’t. The relationship is more complex than this, but for this post that is all I need to explain about it, as that is the nuts and bolts of it.
The huge problem with this situation is that as a reseller, you are obviously at a price disadvantage to the factory direct store. There is only so far you will go with this line. That is fine with me, you either take it or leave it. But something interesting happened a few weeks ago. I received a call that this particular manufacturer was shutting down its operations in my state. That is awesome news for me.
Posted by Ginny on 24th July 2008 (All posts by Ginny)
I’m always throwing in irrelevancies in comments on other’s posts, so here is what is only a comment, but longer and off topic, to Foster’s post below.
…does Obama have one? Can he laugh at himself?
Do these questions really matter?
Elizabeth Scalia explores the Obama-humor relationship.
Because the people who did this were arrested in the middle of the night and are being tortured in Gitmo. Oh, wait…
Posted by Lexington Green on 24th July 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Staggering. These take me back 35 years, to childhood, hearing these songs on the AM radio at night, in the dark: Gems of power pop perfection. Cynical exploitation of teen lust? Of course. Stipulated. But that merely? No, sir. No. Love songs, too, in their fashion. Pop hymns of youth and happiness and a world where consequences don’t exist, but only here and now and maybe forever, but not tomorrow, nor next month or next year. The Raspberries are chewing gum and smiling. They know they are being naughty. What a blast it must have been to be a Raspberry, for a few glorious years. Note that these guys seem NOT to be lip-syncing. Can a rock band possibly be this tight?
(I am seeing and raising Dan’s Death Cab for Cutie post.)
Tony Ryan, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, writes: “LEAP’s first ever billboard – now showing at 108th and I street in Omaha, NE. It is up high, where many can see it, and it shows a new website for us which we can use to measure response and effectiveness.”
Cross-posted at the Explorers Foundation blog [link].
So, the National Enquirer reports that it caught 2004 Democrat Vice Presidential candidate Senator John Edwards with a mistress and a love child. In the article, Edwards denies the allegation in a way that sets up an old joke:
Edwards responded: “The story is false. It’s completely untrue, ridiculous,” adding: “Anyone who knows me knows that I have been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years.”
Too bad he didn’t finish with, “and if my wife finds out about her she will kill me.”
It would have wrecked his life but how often does a set up like that come along?
Posted by Ginny on 22nd July 2008 (All posts by Ginny)
The difference between a politician and a statesman is the breadth of their horizons. But have we ever seen people with horizons as limited as our modern Congress? Of course their ratings are low – we return their judgment of us. They think we have no sense of deferred gratification; they think we are children – and not very bright, not very disciplined children at that. We return the compliment.
This could be big! Or not. It should be fun in any case.
We’re going to meet next Monday after work at a convenient location in Northwest DC.
If you want to join us, please email me: jonathan at chicagoboyzdotnet.
We are the bloggers we have been waiting for!
Posted by Lexington Green on 21st July 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Now, Obama is supposedly some kind of genius, as well as being a messiah-figure who transcends politics, and maybe can even fly and turn sand into rice, like Kim Il-sung used to do. He inspires heart-felt music videos, unlike John McCain. Also, he May Not Be Mocked, much like Louis XIV, Hirohito (in his prime) or Ramses II.
Yet, this super-being just said he will be dealing with foreign leaders, presumably as president, for the next eight to ten years.
Knowing that Presidents are limited to two, four-year terms, is mandatory, basic knowledge that should be, and usually is, second nature to every single reasonably educated American. Everybody knows this. Children know this.
This guy was some kind of Constitutional Law professor at the University of Chicago. He went to Harvard. Now say “ooooh!”
Yet, this kind of thing happens a lot with him, oddly enough.
This is my proposed Quayle Test. Ask yourself: How each time Obama says something stoopid, would the press would have crucified Dan Quayle for it?
Each day, each new gaffe from Obama, imagine Dear Old (supposedly) Dumbsh*t Dan saying it. Then compare what would have happened to him compared to the response Sen. Obama gets from his cheering gallery in the Press.
Obama, and the MSM, are failing this test almost daily.
If I had time to monitor it, I would put a Quayle-O-Meter on the blog.
But I trust we will all be keeping track informally of errors of “J. Danforth Obama”.
Posted by Lexington Green on 21st July 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
The international gun control movement keeps working on gun grabbing with an eye to eventually killing off the 2nd amendment. It’s a King Canute enterprise because the technology for distributed manufacturing is coming and guns are inevitably going to be on the list of things to build right along every other tool. Once every man can be a gunsmith simply by hitting print on a computer, the foolishness of control efforts via law instead of via personal responsibility will have been fully exposed.
John Robb has related, more generalized, thoughts on resilient communities.
Posted by Ginny on 20th July 2008 (All posts by Ginny)
Appealing to a man’s strength is a coquette’s trick (& a man’s weakness), but it works. Calvin Trillin repeats his father’s advice – “You might as well be a mensch.” A man wants to be heroic, virtuous, strong, manly. My daughter explained her husband’s appeal: she could count on him to take care of her. That view of him was her appeal. (My somewhat strident daughter stands at 5’10” and holds many fully formed opinions – she doesn’t appear dependent. But she leans on him.) A boy becomes a man by finding his strength; however, heroism – rescuing a community from plagues and a princess from a dragon – has taken a sentimental turn. We’ve always found vulnerability attractive, but a pattern has emerged in which the hero rescues the most vulnerable – seeing in a child his own unformed self. The rescue redeems. The hero’s transcendence, increasingly difficult in our ironic world, remains possible with a fragile baby or toddler.
Posted by Mitch Townsend on 19th July 2008 (All posts by Mitch Townsend)
The modern anti-Semite looks entirely different. He does not have a shaved head. He has good manners and often an academic title as well…The modern anti-Semite does not believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But instead he fantasizes about an “Israel lobby” that is supposed to control American foreign policy like a tail that wags the dog. For the modern anti-Semite, it goes without saying that every year on January 27 he will commemorate the liberation of Auschwitz. But at the same time he militates for the right of Iran to have atomic weapons.
—Henryk Broder, in a speech to the German Bundestag.
Posted by Lexington Green on 18th July 2008 (All posts by Lexington Green)
I recently had a post about the movie The Dambusters.
It is good to see that at least one of these monsters is still flying.
Lex and I have been having a friendly back and forth here about love songs. I think this is one. You may or may not…Death Cab for Cutie, “Grapevine Fires” (I particularly like this version because it is live):
When the wind picked up the fire spread
And the grapevines seemed left for dead
And the Northern sky looked like the end of days
The end of days
The wake-up call to a rented room
Sounded like an alarm of impending doom
To warn us it’s only a matter of time
Before we all burn
Before we all burn
Before we all burn
Before we all burn
We bought some wine and some paper cups
Near your daughters school when we picked her up
And drove to a cemetery on a hill
On a hill
And we watched the plumes paint the sky gray
But she laughed and danced through the field of graves
And there I knew it would be alright
That everything would be alright
Would be alright
Would be alright
Would be alright
And the news reports on the radio
Said it was getting worse
As the ocean air fanned the flames
But I couldn’t think
Of anywhere I would of rather been
To watch it all burn away
To burn away
And the firemen worked in double shifts
With prayers for rain on their lips
And they knew it was only a matter of time
I got slagged like never before in my posts about copyright infringement here and here. Eventually I came to the realization that I was wrong in my practice, no matter how hard I wanted to justify it. It killed me, but I decided to stop watching the show through the illegal means.
Well, I see today that one of my favorite networks, Versus, is going to be airing the very show that I never thought I would get to see, Contender Asia. They will call it Contender Muay Thai over here. Unfortunately I know who the eventual winner is, from my normal surfing in the Muay Thai and fighting forums. Sometimes maybe there is good karma to be had. I can’t wait.