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  • Archive for August, 2011

    Memo: You First, Maxine

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 22nd August 2011 (All posts by )

    From: Sgt. Mom
    To: The Hon. Maxine Waters,
    Re: Telling the Tea Party to Go to Hell

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Humor, Politics, Tea Party, USA | 7 Comments »

    How Awesome Would This Be?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd August 2011 (All posts by )

    Kids still say “Awesome”, right?

    Anyway, this is actually technically feasible although I don’t’ think it would be quite as easy as he thinks.

    Depth Perception

    You know, I really should have titled the post, “How Awesome Will This Be?”

    Well, it will be awesome for most of you out in Internet land but since an obstetrician, whom my grandfather unflatteringly called, “an old horse doctor,” poked my right eye out at birth, I will never experience parallax based 3D because it requires two eyes for stereoscopic vision.

    But don’t let that stop your enjoyment. I’ll just set over here and sulk while waiting for holograms.

    Posted in Humor | 8 Comments »

    Palin … Palin?

    Posted by Lexington Green on 21st August 2011 (All posts by )

    OK, I now think I was wrong.

    I now think she is running.

    This article is pretty convincing.

    One experienced observer, seeing the Palin operation in Iowa, says this:

    “They are very organized, and the team they have in place is unlike anything I’ve ever seen in this state before — and I’m totally impressed by the way they’ve gone about it,” she said. “It’s going to be a major upset if she gets in because I think these people are very underestimated.”

    Maybe this really is all just hype, to sell books. But it is looking more and more like an extremely unorthodox but serious effort.

    Say this for the GOP nomination race: It is first rate political theatre. A thrill and a chill a minute.

    Maybe it will even produce a candidate that can beat Mr. Obama.

    God bless America.

    Posted in Elections, Politics, Tea Party, USA | 25 Comments »

    A Handy Guide

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 21st August 2011 (All posts by )

    Voter's Guide

    I know it’s confusing, but here is how to tell them apart: one of them used to be an evil alien mastermind bent on universal domination and the destruction of his many enemies; nowadays, he’s more of a comic foil.

    The other is a cartoon.

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Humor, Leftism, Politics, That's NOT Funny | 8 Comments »

    Historical footnotes to game theory

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 21st August 2011 (All posts by )

    [ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- philosophy, psychology, history, game theory, dilemma, commons cooperation, analogy, 9/11 ]

    .

    I have an interest in game theory that is much like my interest in music: I can’t play, but I can whistle. And so it is that I’ve substituted curiosity about the history of the thing, and whatever analogical patterns I can discern there, for any actual ability at the thing itself.

    Somewhere in my analogy-collector’s mind, then, I have these two quotes, cut from the living tissue of their writer’s thoughts, and prepped fpor contemplation. I find them, in retrospect, quite remarkable.

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in On the Inequality among Mankind, wrote:

    Such was the manner in which men might have insensibly acquired some gross idea of their mutual engagements and the advantage of fulfilling them, but this only as far as their present and sensible interest required; for as to foresight they were utter strangers to it, and far from troubling their heads about a distant futurity, they scarce thought of the day following. Was a deer to be taken? Every one saw that to succeed he must faithfully stand to his post; but suppose a hare to have slipped by within reach of any one of them, it is not to be doubted but he pursued it without scruple, and when he had seized his prey never reproached himself with having made his companions miss theirs.

    And David Hume, in A Treatise of Human Nature:

    Your corn is ripe today; mine will be so tomorrow. ‘Tis profitable for us both that I shou’d labour with you today, and that you shou’d aid me tomorrow. I have no kindness for you, and know that you have as little for me. I will not, therefore, take any pains on your account; and should I labour with you on my account, I know I shou’d be disappointed, and that I shou’d in vain depend upon your gratitude. Here then I leave you to labour alone: You treat me in the same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for want of mutual confidence and security.

    *

    Those two, I believe, are fairly well known – I was delighted the other day to run across a third sample for my collection. William James, in The Will to Believe, writes:

    Wherever a desired result is achieved by the co-operation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned. A government, an army, a commercial system, a ship, a college, an athletic team, all exist on this condition, without which not only is nothing achieved, but nothing is even attempted. A whole train of passengers (individually brave enough) will be looted by a few highwaymen, simply because the latter can count on one another, while each passenger fears that if he makes a movement of resistance, he will be shot before any one else backs him up. If we believed that the whole car-full would rise at once with us, we should each severally rise, and train-robbing would never even be attempted.

    *

    The first two quotes are of interest as showing the forms that an idea which will later be mathematized can take. They are, if you like, precursors of game theoretic constructs, although neither Hume nor Rousseau appears to be mentioned in von Neumann and Morgenstern‘s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior.

    The third, I think, is even more interesting.. Consider the eerie and heroic “fulfillment” of that third paragraph if read “as prophecy” – in this account from the 9/11 Commission Report of the events on United Flight 93:

    During at least five of the passengers’ phone calls, information was shared about the attacks that had occurred earlier that morning at the World Trade Center. Five calls described the intent of passengers and surviving crew members to revolt against the hijackers. According to one call, they voted on whether to rush the terrorists in an attempt to retake the plane. They decided, and acted. At 9:57, the passenger assault began. Several passengers had terminated phone calls with loved ones in order to join the revolt. One of the callers ended her message as follows:

    “Everyone’s running up to first class. I’ve got to go. Bye.” The cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the passenger assault muffled by the intervening cockpit door.

    Yesterday’s highwayman is today’s hijacker, yesterday’s train is today’s plane…

    *

    If there’s anything to be learned here, it’s not a novel way of protecting trains or aircraft from passengers of malicious intent –

    It’s that there’s a subtle thread running from something akin to instinct that’s also close to unspoken common sense, surfacing for a moment in the writings of thoughtful individuals, leading on occasion to the formulation of exact mathematical principles — but also (i) available, (ii) in the human repertoire, (iii) to be acted upon, (iv) cooperatively, (v) as required, (vi) via the medium of human common interest, (vii) which provides the resultant trust.

    Which may in turn offer some reason for hope — for a humanity in various forms of communal distress…

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Economics & Finance, Education, Environment, History, Human Behavior, Miscellaneous, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    About Those 15% Capital Gains Rates

    Posted by David Foster on 21st August 2011 (All posts by )

    Warren Buffett has been talking virtually nonstop about how tax rates on “the wealthy” need to be increased, and of course the dinosaur media has been praising and amplifying this viewpoint. People who think this way are especially fond of citing the 15% capital tax gains rate and contrasting it with the considerably higher rates on ordinary income.

    This simplistic comparison, though, ignores the effect of inflation, which acts to increase the effective tax rate–especially on assets which are held for a long period of time. Consider a simple example: let’s say you bought a stock in 2003 and sold it in 2011, with a 30% price increase. To make the numbers easy, you bought $10000 worth and sold it for $13000. But according to BLS data, the consumer price index has risen by 22% over the years 2003-2011. Thus, your $13000 is really only worth $10655 in 2003 dollars.

    It gets worse. The IRS is going to tax you on the full $3000 of “gain,” even though it is largely illusory. At 15%, you will pay $450, which is a very big chunk of your true, inflation-adjusted gains. If you work through the calculations, you’ll find that your real capital gains tax rate for this example is not 15%, but more than 50%. (I’ll post the calculations if anyone wants to see them.) Indeed, if you buy and sell an asset whose value just keeps pace with inflation–ie, if you don’t make any money at all in real terms–you will still be paying capital gains taxes on wholly imaginary profits. If we get Jimmy-Carter-style inflation…say, 40% over the next decade…and you have an investment which just keeps pace with inflation, then federal taxes will take 6% of the value of your investment (15% times 40%) when you sell it. And that’s assuming that the current capital gains rate does not increase, and ignoring any state-level taxes on capital gains.

    Warren Buffett is surely aware of the preceding considerations, and anyone who writes about finance and economic policy should be aware of them.

    A good video by Christina Sochacki, for the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, about the problems with the capital gains tax, here.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Politics, Taxes | 10 Comments »

    Would Creating Hyperinflation be Treason ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 21st August 2011 (All posts by )

    Last week Rick Perry made a comment that got wide attention in mainstream media.

    Mr. Perry brought the Fed directly into the campaign debate Monday night by saying it would be “almost … treasonous” for the central bank to play politics by expanding the money supply.

    “If this guy prints more money between now and the election,” Mr. Perry said in Cedar Rapids Monday night, without naming Mr. Bernanke, “I don’t know what y’all would do to him in Iowa, but we—we would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas.”

    Today, on Meet the Press, Peggy Noonan showed that she is completely clueless on this subject by going off on a riff about how a president has to appear “nice.” She never did address the subject.

    Others, who appear to know more about monetary policy had a somewhat different take.

    Thomas Gallagher, a principal and economic policy analyst at the Scowcroft Group in Washington who advises Wall Street firms, said Mr. Perry’s comments will be the first thing many investors learn about his candidacy. And the comments are “drawing a fair bit of attention.”

    “Voters may not care as much, but investors, like the chattering class, expect a candidate to know what he’s talking about when he talks about the Fed,” he said. “It’s one thing to oppose what the Fed is doing, but it’s another to call it almost treasonous.”

    I don’t know that treason was the right word to use but the point is that the Fed is feeding inflation which is far more apparent to those of us who buy our own groceries than most politicians. Ron Paul has been railing at the Fed for years and he is gaining allies.

    Libertarian Rep. Ron Paul, who fell 152 votes short of winning the Iowa GOP’s straw poll on Saturday, has been railing against the Fed for years, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has joined in with an “Audit the Fed” petition. Other conservatives complain that the Fed’s policy of using monetary policy to stimulate the economy, which it indicated last week it might renew, could be sowing the seeds of inflation.

    I would say we are past the “seeds” stage.

    The US Treasury has been the largest buyer of new Treasury bonds. How can this be ? The Federal Reserve is printing more money that is then used to buy the debt. Is this an example of the elusive perpetual motion machine ?

    • Turning government bonds into circulating money is called monetizing the national debt.

    • Quantitative easing is a euphemism for creating money out of thin air. In the vernacular, we call it “printing money,” even though it really has nothing to do with the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

    • The way it’s supposed to work is that the Fed buys securities in the open market, paying with a government “check.” (That’s how the money is created.) The sellers deposit those checks into their banks. The banks redeploy those deposits as loans to consumers and business. The money supply expands and, in turn, so does the economy.

    What effect will this have on the dollar ? The economy hasn’t exactly expanded while this has been going on.

    One factor may be saving us the worst of the effects of this reckless policy. Troubles in Europe and elsewhere in the middle east have caused many investors to engage in a “flight to quality,” although I wouldn’t call the dollar “quality” right now. The Euro, however, seems to be in even worse trouble.

    We’ll see what effect Perry’s comment has on his candidacy.

    Posted in Business, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Politics | 15 Comments »

    1957 Chevy Bel Air

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I was at the repair shop, waiting for my car. One of the mechanics saw me taking pictures in the parking lot and called me over to check out this beautiful relic. The electric fan isn’t original but you can pretend it’s not there. This was a 4-door and in very nice shape overall. It had what appeared to be an authentic window sticker that read: “Sangamon County DEMOCRATIC COMMITTEE MAN”. The engine was, I think, a small V-8 (a 265? whatever the typical small block of the time was) and there was plenty of room to work under the hood. There were chrome rain gutters above the passenger windows, thick, solid sheet metal, chrome everywhere. The bumper looked like it would shatter on the most minor impact, but the playful styling made you not care. Are those breasts? It’s hard to imagine such charming curlicues on today’s cautiously styled cars, yet contemporary aesthetes decried ’50s designs as vulgar. What did they know.

    A 1957 Chevrolet in a repair shop. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Buy Image

    UPDATE: There are some additional pics below the fold, and I’ve changed the main image to HTML so that Lex can see it on his phone.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos, Tech, Transportation | 17 Comments »

    Walter Russell Mead

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Mead has been on a roll lately. If you have not been reading his blog, start doing so.

    Like anything long lasting, blogs have their ups and downs, their great streaks and their doldrums.

    Right now Mead has the best blog going. He had a great series of longer pieces, then he recently started adding shorter, more “traditional” blog posts mixed in with the long ones.

    Mead has all his well-established smarts and knowledge. But recently he seems to be possessed by the zeal of a convert. He has the sharp edge of someone who is sick of the lies and won’t tolerate them anymore. He will probably go to his grave claiming to be a liberal and a Democrat. But he has seen through it all, and he is brutal, as well as funny.

    UPDATE: Wow. Cool. I just noticed I am on his blogroll. I swear, there is no corrupt bargain here.

    UPDATE II: In case you have not read it in a while, please recall that Mr. Mead is the one who came up with the idea of Jacksonian America, which he first described in this article. This essay bears re-reading. It is a chapter in his excellent book Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. Another book by him which is very good is God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World, which is a big step toward the comprehensive history of the Anglosphere that Jim Bennett is going to write one of these days. Also, Mr. Mead’s capsule book reviews in Foreign Affairs are always good, and I have bought several books based on his recommendations and have not been let down.

    Posted in Blogging, Conservatism, History, Politics | 4 Comments »

    The Saints, (I’m) Stranded (1977)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 20th August 2011 (All posts by )

    (Punk rock was a pan-Anglospheric phenomenon that was invented independently in Britain (Sex Pistols), USA (Ramones) and Australia (Saints) at the same time. This almost freakish simultaneous cultural outbreak shows that the world was, somehow, some way, ripe for this new approach. The new generation of rock’n’roll was a spirit wandering the Earth, struggling to be born in audible form.)

    Posted in Music, Video | Comments Off

    For Dan – Some Cows

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 20th August 2011 (All posts by )

    … and other roadside Texiana.

    Cows, at the Sandy Oaks Olive Ranch, near Elmendorf, Texas.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions, Photos | 7 Comments »

    Quote of the Day: John Robb

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Global transition points like this are so rare, it’s a great time to be alive.

    John Robb

    Right on. Yes. Yes.

    More of this type of thinking, please.

    If I could live at any time in history it would be now.

    (If you are not a regular reader of Mr. Robb’s Global Guerrillas, get that way.)

    (Also check out Mr. Robb’s way cool new Wiki MiiU, which is all about resilience. I eagerly await his book on resilient communities.)

    (Here is an xcellent John Robb talk about open source ventures, but full disclosure, a lot of it sailed over my head.)

    (And if you have not read his book, Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization, go get it.)

    Friends, please let me know in the comments, on a scale of 1 to 5, strongly disagree to strongly agree, how you respond to this quote. Put me down as a 5, obviously enough.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Business, China, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Conservatism, Economics & Finance, Education, Elections, Energy & Power Generation, Entrepreneurship, Health Care, History, International Affairs, Internet, Libertarianism, Management, Markets and Trading, Media, Medicine, Military Affairs, National Security, Personal Finance, Political Philosophy, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Science, Society, Space, Taxes, Tea Party, Tech, USA, War and Peace | 21 Comments »

    A Book the Size of a Brick

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 18th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Oh, lord, I thought on Monday afternoon, when I ripped opened the industrially-strong sticky tape that held the cardboard mailer closed around a hardbound book the weight and dimension of two bricks – did I really write all that? The UPS guy had just brought it, and left it on the porch after ringing the doorbell, and departing as swift as the wind . . . or as swift as one can be, working a delivery job at the height of the summer in South Texas. I wouldn’t want to linger on a doorstep either, when it’s over 100 degrees in the shade and towards the end of a working day.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Announcements, Book Notes, History | 3 Comments »

    Wisconsin Politics

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 17th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I have been writing a lot about the situation here behind the cheddar curtain for the last several months and assume that a lot of you are tired of reading and hearing about us up here and our endless elections and other nonsense. I will tell you one thing, I am sure tired of reading and writing about it. I will put the rest of this post below the fold to spare those who have grown tired of the whole thing.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 19 Comments »

    The Riots in Britain

    Posted by David Foster on 16th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Two quotes from Antoine de St-Exupery:

    A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them

    and

    If you would have them be brothers, have them build a tower. But if you would have them hate each other, throw them corn

    Most liberals would probably argue that the British rioters did what they did because not enough had been done for them. Conservatives, on the other hand, would tend to say that it was because not enough had been expected of them.

    Posted in Britain, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crime and Punishment, Leftism | 11 Comments »

    Perry Can’t Claim All the Credit

    Posted by Shannon Love on 16th August 2011 (All posts by )

    It is very strange as a Texan to read people in other states lecturing us about how Texas’s supposed good economy is all a mirage.

    I mean, I’m right here in Texas and I know what both a good economy and bad economy look like in Texas. Being told by people out of state that Texas doesn’t have a good economy right now is akin to someone on the Internet claiming that it’s raining cats and dogs in Austin when I can look out my window and see sunshine and clear blue skies.

    Most of these weird arguments are coming from leftists whistling past the graveyard. Texas governor Rick Perry is basing his presidential aspirations on Texas’s relatively sound economy, so that has brought a lot of delusional people out of the woodwork, all desperately trying to sell the idea that the Texas economy actually sucks. Well, it doesn’t.

    In reality, the strongest argument against Perry is that Texas has the weakest governor of any of the states, so he can’t claim the primary credit for Texas’s performance as he might in other states.

    Most other state constitutions concentrate significant power in the office of the governor and the governors often have near sole control over the executive branch. The Texas constitution divides executive power over several state offices. The Texas governor must share power with the lieutenant governor, the speaker and the state comptroller. All state senior executives are elected in their own right as are many of the state boards. So, the executive branch’s contribution to economically sound government in Texas is the result of a broad political culture of responsibility that elects a lot of good people to many offices, instead of being the result of a single insightful leader (e.g., Christie in New Jersey).

    Texas is sound today because of the actual depression we struggled through alone during the period from 1984-1994 as a result of the oil bust. We jettisoned a century of southern-populist quasi-socialism because we ran out of other people’s money and were forced by circumstance to adopt a free-market approach. An entire generation of future politicians and voters got a hard lesson in the dangers of high government spending 20 years before the rest of the nation did. We learned to keep government small and business-friendly because we had to in order to survive.

    Since we learned our lesson, the people of Texas have repeatedly elected pro-economic-creative, pro-growth and small-government politicians to all offices across the state. Perry deserves some credit for our sound economy because he has been one of the principle political leaders of the last decade but, frankly, if it hadn’t been Perry it would have been someone else just like him, because that is what the political culture of Texas demands. Perry is a cork bobbing in a torrent of responsible Texans en masse.

    In the end, it is not political leadership but the wisdom and discipline of the people that counts in America. Texas is better off than the rest of America because our depression taught us all that it is economic-creatives that generate a sound economy and not government. If the rest of the country doesn’t learn that lesson, it won’t matter if Perry or another responsible candidate is President or not.

    Posted in Media, Politics, Public Finance | 3 Comments »

    Meeting With da Governor

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 16th August 2011 (All posts by )

    So, my daughter and I have been terribly amused by Governor Rick Perry announcing that he’s going to run, since we’ve actually  met him face to face. It was a little over two years ago at a Tea Party event in San Antonio, and I will confirm that in person he is quite brashly charming. And I even have pictorial evidence, since there was a photog from the San Antonio Express news who commemorated the event.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Personal Narrative, Politics, Tea Party | 5 Comments »

    Paul Ryan

    Posted by Lexington Green on 16th August 2011 (All posts by )

    Michael Barone says it looks like he is running. (Citing this.)

    WAY cool.

    I was starting to get bummed.

    To brutally oversimplify, the lay of the land was looking like this to me:

    1. Michele cannot do it.

    2. Mitt sucks.

    3. Rick is Mitt in a cowboy hat — my second impression, subject to further revision.

    4. The race is over for the rest of them.

    But Paul Ryan. Now, him (I think) I could get behind.

    Back in June I was hoping he would get in.

    I eagerly await the debate between Ryan and Obama.

    Posted in Conservatism, Elections, Politics, USA | 61 Comments »

    Satire and society change all the time

    Posted by Helen on 16th August 2011 (All posts by )

    There were two items of interest about the Victoria and Albert Museum in the press recently. (That’s the huge museum of all sorts in South Kensington and a very fine institution it is, too.) One was the news that they acquired forty newly discovered cartoons of extreme nastiness by that great artist and satirist, James Gillray, that had been suppressed in the mid-nineteenth century and have been mouldering ever since in the Home Office archives. It will be useful to be reminded, once more, that politics in this country used to be considerably nastier than it is supposed to be now.

    The second item is also to be welcomed but is also very funny. Private Eye, the first of the many satirical outlets of the sixties that are credited with changing British society … back to something like it was in the eighteenth century, will be fifty years old this autumn and there will be an exhibition of cartoons and covers from it in the V&A, as it is affectionately known. Ho-hum! I recall when it was not stocked in W.H.Smith’s, then a far bigger chain of newsagents and stationers because of fear of libel action; when it had to be asked for at small newsagents; when respectable people read it rather defiantly and students passed their copies round. And now? An exhibition in the V&A and an article in Vanity Fair.

    And, of course, a posting on the Conservative History blog. After all, Private Eye is rather a conservative institution.

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Britain, History, Media | Comments Off

    Sunday

    Posted by Lexington Green on 15th August 2011 (All posts by )

    The day was dominated by a 5.5 hour long house-wide clean-up party. The place really needed it. The children are a force of nature.

    The messes defy reason. Example: A mound of shoes by front door contains nine flip flops, one pair and seven singletons. A girl’s sweater behind the couch. Whose is it? One of my oldest daughter’s friends who happens to be here says ” I think it’s mine.” It is. There is about a bushel of socks which are in places they do not belong.

    While I am crawling on the floor to pick stuff up, the five year old repeatedly flings himself on me, by surprise attack whenever possible.

    But when I finally finished, I got myself a drink and a book and sat out on the porch in the magnificent weather.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Diversions, History | 14 Comments »

    Happy V-J Day!

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th August 2011 (All posts by )

    A belated happy Victory over Japan Day.

    On August 14th in 1945 Imperial Japan accepted the terms of the Potsdam Declaration and averted Operation Downfall, the two stage invasion of Japan. This invasion would have resulted in at least a million American casualties and likely millions of Japanese dead from direct effects of the invasion plus the mass starvation that would have been sure to occur in its aftermath.

    The best web site presentation on the “Invasion that Never Was” I have found is here.

    See the PDF copies of the original documents plus some HTML remapping of the same documents courtesy of the alternatewars.com web site.

    Were it not for the two atom bombings and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria shocking the Imperial Japanese into surrender, many of us would not be here today because our parents and grandparents would have died on the shores of Kyushu and Honshu.

    Posted in Military Affairs, National Security, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 42 Comments »

    What I Learned About Alligators

    Posted by Jonathan on 14th August 2011 (All posts by )

    When I first saw this alligator it was lying motionless, half out of the water, maybe ten feet away from where it was in the picture and facing the opposite direction. It looked lazy. Then I turned around to talk to someone for a few moments. When I looked again the gator had moved to the spot in the picture and was again motionless. No one had heard or seen it move. It was just there. Spooky. I have heard that they can be very quick, and I believe it. They are usually not aggressive towards humans, and I think it was simply moving under the road, from one side to the other, via the concrete channel it was in. Nevertheless, in the future I am going to try not to turn my back on them.

    An American alligator rests in a shallow pool in Everglades National Park, Florida, with only its eyes and nostrils exposed above the water's surface. (Jonathan Gewirtz)

    Buy Image

    Posted in Personal Narrative, Photos | 8 Comments »

    The Grand Adventure

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th August 2011 (All posts by )

    “You’ll simply have to read his books, if you want to understand about Greece,” my next-door neighbor told me, very shortly after my then-three year old daughter and I settled into Kyrie Panayotis’ first floor flat (which is Brit-speak for second-floor apartment) at the corner of Knossou and Delphon streets in the Athens suburb of Ano Glyphada, early in the spring of 1983. Kyrie Panayoti did not speak any English; neither did his wife, or his wife’s sister, Kyria Yiota, who lived upstairs with her husband. The only inhabitants of the three-story apartment house who did were Kyrie Panayoti’s middle-school aged sons, who were learning English at school. And I – dullard that I am with languages aside from my native one – only retained a few scraps of high-school and college German. Given the modern history of Greece, and the long memories of older Greeks, a German vocabulary was neither tactful nor useful.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Arts & Letters, Britain, Europe, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    British Criminals, Then and Now

    Posted by David Foster on 14th August 2011 (All posts by )

    The British secret agent Odette Hallowes was awarded both the George Cross and the French Legion of Honor in recognition of her heroism during WWII. Some years after the war, a burglar broke into her mother’s home, and among the items he stole was Odette’s George Cross. A public appeal for the medal’s return was made, and the burglar sent it back with the following note:

    You, Madame, appear to be a dear old lady. God bless you and your children. I thank you for having faith in me. I am not all that bad – it’s just circumstances. Your little dog really loves me. I gave him a nice pat and left him a piece of meat – out of fridge. Sincerely yours, A Bad Egg.

    Even this criminal had enough identification with his country and its history and accomplishments to recognized that Odette’s GC was something that really ought to be returned to its owner.

    Does anyone think there are many among the current UK rioters who would do the same?

    Posted in Britain, Civil Society, History, War and Peace | 2 Comments »

    Joy Division, Shadow Play (1978)

    Posted by Lexington Green on 14th August 2011 (All posts by )

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzTw4PYfROU&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    “To the centre of the city in the night, waiting for you.”

    Posted in Music, Video | 4 Comments »