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  • Archive for September, 2004

    The first smelly particles are touching the rotating blade…

    Posted by ken on 23rd September 2004 (All posts by )

    And there’s plenty more where that came from.

    This year, Social Security and Medicare are paying out more to their beneficiaries than they are collecting from FICA. The long-predicted shortfall has begun. It’s not off in some hazy future anymore, it’s starting right now.

    Present value figures for the total shortfall over time are estimated between $40 trillion (yes, that’s “trillion” with a “T”) and $72 trillion. That’s 40-72 trillion over and above what what the law is already set to take from productive workers over the next few decades that’s been promised to current and future retirees.

    Remember how Bush’s deficits were going to destroy the economy, according to some people? Better hope to God they’re wrong, because that’s chicken feed compared to this, although the extra spending it represents doesn’t exactly help matters.

    (And Bush’s drug benefit program, which is characterized as “inadequate” by our friends on the left, contributes to the problem to the tune of $8 trillion to $12 trillion)

    It would be nice if those “Rock the Vote” guys would point to these figures, especially the ones that mention a 32 percent FICA rate (over and above income taxes, which will have to be raised at some point to cover present non-Social Security and non-Medicare spending), and explain that their elders can take this kind of money from the younger generations because they vote in such huge numbers, and because younger people don’t. That should boost turnout among the intended victims more than lame attempts to use celebrities and rocks stars to paint voting as “cool”, whatever that means.

    (Thanks to 101-280 for that second link, and for the first).

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    On the cost of government.

    Posted by ken on 23rd September 2004 (All posts by )

    It is news to no one that George W. Bush has been a less than responsible steward of the people’s money. From the left and the right have come criticisms of the deficits that have been run up during his watch, some of it justified.

    Our friends on the left, after talking sense for a while, then recoil in horror at what they’ve done and go back to talking out of their hats. They tell us that the solution is to replace George Bush with John Kerry, who will raise taxes and close the deficit, thus addressing our objections and solving our problems.

    This would be amusing if not for the fact that some so-called “fiscal conservatives” have actually considered doing just that, rather than laughing out loud, which is the reaction this “solution” deserves.

    Over the long-term, the total cost of government is overwhelmingly driven by one variable: spending. The national debt has interest, of course, but the effects of this are mostly discounted away by the simple fact that the debt and the interest will be paid with future dollars, which are worth less than today’s dollars. What it all boils down to is, higher spending means higher total taxes over the long term to pay for it, lower spending means lower total taxes over the long term to pay for it, and the current tax rate is not that much of a factor over the long haul. Taxes not collected today will have to be paid tomorrow, of course, but money not taxed today turns into more wealth tomorrow (assuming the spending isn’t being spent on stopping people from creating wealth!), making those extra future taxes easier to pay.

    (This assumes, of course, that the perceived risk of loaning money to the government, which drives the part of the interest rate that is not discounted away, remains exceedingly low, as it has ever since Alexander Hamilton ran the Treasury Department. So deficits do matter, if they get so high that they spook potential bondholders and drive up real interest rates.)

    So let’s look at spending. Every time George W. Bush proposed or allowed some outrageous piece of spending, the reaction from the left side of Congress, and usually from the Kerry campaign, was that this spending was hopelessly inadequate. We can easily infer from this that the expected spending level favored by Bush is less than the expected spending level favored by Kerry; thus, total long-term taxes needed to fund a Bush government is likely to be less than the total long-term taxes needed to fund a Kerry government.

    (But what about gridlock? A contention between a Congress that wants more spending and a President that wants a lot more spending isn’t going to be resolved in our favor. The compromise position will be higher spending than what Congress would pass in the presence of a President that merely wants too much spending rather than outrageously too much spending. Or put another way, if a Republican had been in the White House in 1995, what do you think would have happened to the Congressional spending plan that year? I figure it would have gotten passed nearly unchanged and signed without a government shutdown.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Recreating Victoria

    Posted by Shannon Love on 23rd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Via Instapundit comes a link to a post on Balkinization that proposes to create “A new crime of “reckless sexual conduct…”.

    Basically, the idea is to prevent date rape and STD’s by making it a crime not to use a condom during a one-night stand. There are lot of practical and moral objections to such a law. I don’t think it has the hope of seeing the light of day but it is still a good example of a cultural and legal phenomenon that has been going on since the sexual revolution.

    A pattern has emerged in the way we treat the rules for sexual relationships: (1) We start with a traditional culture based rules which may or may not be strongly enforced by formal law. (2) The argument is advanced that the traditional rules are irrational, oppressive, no longer needed etc (3) Both culture and law are changed to destroy the culture based rules. (4) To the surprise of everyone except elderly grandmothers, the new rules have unanticipated negative consequences. (5) To address these consequences, new formal laws are created that bring us back to a state very much as in (1).

    In short, after destroying Victorianism culturally we recreate it in formal law. What was once enforced by the soft power of culture becomes enforced by the hard power of the state.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »


    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Faithful ChicagoBoyz readers head over to the Internet cafe.

    Posted in Photos | 4 Comments »

    Whose War Is This?

    Posted by Ginny on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Having misspent my day staring at blogs, I found myself without an appropriate focus for tomorrow’s comp class. Reaching back into the hard drive for short exercises from our old text, I found an old one but realized I’d ignored its content.

    These are the sentences to be revised for brevity:

    1. Some Vietnam veterans coming back to the United States after tours of duty in Vietnam had problems readjusting again to life in America.
    2. Afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder, a psychological disorder that sometimes arises after a trauma, some of the veterans had psychological problems that caused them to have trouble holding jobs and maintaining relationships.
    3. Some who used to use drugs in Vietnam could not break their drug habits after they returned back to the United States.
    4. The few veterans who committed crimes and violent acts gained so much notoriety and fame that many Americans thought all veterans were crazy, insane maniacs.
    5. As a result of such stereotyping of Vietnam-era veterans, veterans are included into the same anti-discrimination laws that protect other victims of discrimination.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    Desperate Flailing

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Kerry now says Bush is going to bring back the draft.

    Uh huh. Yes. I see. OK … . Call security. This guy is acting strange.

    The DRAFT? Why stop there? Why stop with making it be VIETNAM AGAIN, John? Bush is also going to reinstate the prohibition of spirituous liquors. And require Colored Only drinking fountains. And bring back breadlines and Hoovervilles and 20% unemployment. And strip from all women the sacred right to vote. And restore slavery, of course. And then … and then … Bush will cause the Moon to plunge into the Pacific, dooming us all to a fiery death as the planet itself is shattered into pieces.

    Hello, John? Listen: You are a hapless dolt. You are the despair of your Party and a joke to the rest of us.

    John Kerry is running against George W. Bush and he has to make up issues? What the Hell kind of politician is he? The man has no grasp of even the basics. He has been spoon-fed a Senate seat in Massachusetts all his life. He has no idea what he is doing. He gets up every day and just wings it, makes shit up. It is jaw-dropping, incomprehensible.

    A moderately well-trained Doberman Pinscher could come up with five plausible issues and stay on point and be polling at least three points ahead of where Kerry is.

    I remember Dole’s ’96 campaign, which was like a lead weight around the neck of all GOPers as we sank once more with nightmarish slowness into the green and fathomless depths of defeat at the hands of the hated Clinton. That campaign was absolutley incoherent, pathetic, heartbreaking. No one was home. Kemp, even, whom we’d once loved so much, was useless. So, for badly run campaigns, I thought I had seen the bottom of the abyss and I’d never see it again in my lifetime.

    Kerry, impossibly, insanely, is even worse.

    Don’t get me wrong. He could still pull it out. Somehow.

    But if this guy gets elected God help us.

    Update: Wow. It looks like the whole Donk Party is going to throw this “draft” non-issue at the wall and see if it sticks. So, this actually is a “strategery” rather than a one-off burp from Kerry. Whoa. No Republican has ever suggested we do this, and some Democrats have proposed it. This just gets weirder.

    Here’s the only explanation that works: They want it to BE THE SIXTIES way more than they even want to win the election. That is so totally pathetic.

    Update II: Well now Instapundit is saying maybe Kerry didn’t really, really say much of anything about the draft. But Edwards, Cleland and Dean all did, according to the story linked-to above.

    I now think there really is some kind of half-assed unified field theory holding this nuttiness together, all mixed up with the Donk’s abortive “Fortunate Son” theme, yet another Sixties flashback. They really do want to try to scare the middle class into thinking Bush is going to reinstate the draft.

    Stay away from the brown acid, man.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 47 Comments »

    The Gigolo Factor

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Both Instapundit and Best of the Web reference this NY Times poll showing Kerry losing ground among women. They seem to think it’s the “Security Moms” factor that is causing Kerry trouble.

    I wonder though if a “Gigolo Factor” isn’t also in play.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

    If America Were Iraq, What Would It Have Been Like?

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    In the spirit of ken’s post, below … currently tied for #12 on Blogdex, Juan Cole paints a compelling picture with numbers:

    The population of the US is over 11 times that of Iraq, so a lot of statistics would have to be multiplied by that number.
    Thus, violence killed 300 Iraqis last week, the equivalent proportionately of 3,300 Americans. What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

    There’s much more, and it’s worth reading, so graze on over and read it.
    All done? Great. Now for The Rest Of The Story:
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

    Gentlemen, your coats …

    Posted by Lexington Green on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    Instapundit quotes someone as saying the blogosphere is not “elevating the political debate”. The MSM gets outed by the guys in pajamas when they lie or when they are inept or both. They have no basis to whine about “elevating” anything.

    The MSM is supposed to be doing a Big, Important Job. Just ask them. And it is failing to do it, as it has failed to do so for a long time. Just ask everybody else. But the peasants now have the will and the means to raise Hell about it. Good. Pointing out that the purported facts, which form the basis of all political debate, are all too often composed of partisan-motivated lies is a way to purge if not elevate the political debate. Once you have vomited out the poison, then you can stand up. That is the process our body politic is in right now, puking out Dan Rather and similar toxins into the porcelain memory hole of history. Elevation will come after the dry heaves are gone.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

    Natural or Unnatural Free Markets?

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd September 2004 (All posts by )

    We can think of libertarianism as falling between two poles: the anarcho-libertarian that views all government as a threat and the classical-liberal that views government as necessary but inherently dangerous.

    Both poles worship the free market but each side approaches the origin of the free market from different directions. This difference in concepts of the origin of the free market creates many of the divides in libertarian thought. For example, it predicts whether a libertarian will or will not support a war.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

    Winning the war and losing the peace

    Posted by ken on 21st September 2004 (All posts by )

    The United States of America went to war against a certain oil-rich state. That state had already declared itself an enemy of the United States, oppressed its own people, and lent support to a regional movement that did threaten the United States and had already attacked American territory. This state was not in and of itself much of a threat, but knocking it over did put the United States in a better strategic position to deal with the real, urgent threat facing it.

    Fortunately this oil rich state was conquered with relative ease. Unfortunately, the aftermath didn’t go so well.

    Not long after the occupation started, riots broke out. In the capitol and out in the boonies, those who favored the old order responded with violence against the occupiers, and against those who supported the occupiers. Shadowy terrorist groups started operating, causing mayhem wherever they could, and the American occupiers were powerless to stop them.

    A new government was instituted, one that would give rights to the formerly oppressed people. A new constitution was written that would guarantee those rights. This new government came under attack almost immediately.

    Sounds like the outcome of a real screwup, the kind of thing that would bring lasting infamy upon the President foolish or vicious enough to embark upon this insane course, at least if you listened to the Democrats during the war and the occupation.

    But it gets worse.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    Seeking RSS Advice

    Posted by Jonathan on 21st September 2004 (All posts by )

    Someone pointed out to me that our RSS feed sucks. Apparently its transmissions do not include links back to either individual posts or the blog as a whole. Maybe there are other problems as well, but I can’t tell because I don’t know my RSS from a hole in the ground.

    I would be much obliged if any ChicagoBoyz RSS users and/or RSS mavens could suggest 1) what else we could do to make our RSS feed more useful and 2) how to modify our RSS template(s) to do it. (I’d like to add those links back to the blog, at the very least.)

    Thanks. We now resume our regularly unscheduled programming.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

    Attack of the Poker Bots

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st September 2004 (All posts by )

    Online poker players are concerned that sophisticated programs (called bots in computer lingo) will win poker games on online gambling sites. They fear the bots will systemically defeat the human players and rake in all the money.

    Of course, the ultimate evolution will be bots playing bots. Then humans can go do productive work while the bots take care of our critical gambling needs.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Property vs Privacy

    Posted by Shannon Love on 21st September 2004 (All posts by )

    Property and privacy are antithetical. Property is by definition a statement of who controls a particular resource. If an ultimately public linkage does not exist between an individual and a resource then that resource has no owner. The property system and the free-market that depends on it cannot function with anonymous ownership and anonymity arises from privacy.

    If we have an environment with a high degree of privacy, we automatically have an environment with a high degree of anonymity. With a high degree of anonymity we have weak property rights. With weak property rights we have a weak free-market mechanism

    This antithesis has extraordinary consequences in the Internet age.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    Against Wilsonian Overreaching

    Posted by Jonathan on 20th September 2004 (All posts by )

    Val Dorta updates his thoughtful critique of the Bush administration’s handling of the war. Val argues that we should concentrate on decisively defeating our enemies militarily, rather than keep trying to make the world safe by introducing democracy.

    The result is that our grand strategy after September 11 is inverted and we need to put it back on its feet in order for it to work: It is not whether Iraq (it could have been Syria or Iran) is part of the war on terror, but that the war on terror is part of the war on Islamism and the enemy regimes. Killing Osama bin Laden and eliminating Al Qaeda will not terminate Islamic terrorism, while destroying the causes that inspire them, the institutions that create them and the regimes that nurture them will. There would be no better way to reach the peace we desire than to coordinate our immense military, economic and diplomatic power in a short, intense and ruthless war, all the while maintaining the sword of Damocles over the pitiful heads of our other enemies. No better way to keep Arab and Muslim hatred and contempt in check either.

    Val’s post is worth reading in full.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments »

    Crossed Fingers

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th September 2004 (All posts by )

    Reportedly, CBS will announce today that they concede the infamous Bush AWOL documents are forgeries.

    Once that happens, the story will then become the providence of the documents. Many believe that CBS has been slow to declare documents forgeries because then they would be obligated to say who they got them from. Speculation is rife CBS does not want to reveal the source because it is a high ranking member of the Democratic party like Max Clealand. Such a scandal would most likely destroy the Kerry campaign.

    I am typing with crossed fingers now, hoping that no major Democrat was involved. I think it would be a disaster long-term for the nation and for the policies that I support if Kerry goes down due a scandal, especially a scandal that he was unaware of. There are two major negative outcomes from Bush winning by default.

    First, winning by default can seriously undermine a winner’s mandate. It’s hard to claim you have widespread support for your policies when you won office because the other guy didn’t show up or disappeared. Bush needs a firm mandate to finish the war and to advance the ideas of the “Ownership Society.”

    Second, the Democratic party needs some serious self-reflection and reform. It needs new 21st century ideas and new leaders. Getting trounced in a fair fight will prompt this reform while losing due to scandal will delay it. It will be easy for democratic stalwarts to say, “We would have won if only it were not for the scandal.”

    I think everybody assumes that the source of the forgeries is rooting for Kerry for whatever reason. I just hope like hell it’s nobody on his payroll.

    (cross posted at Shannon Love’s Blog)

    (Update: CBS says Burkett gave them the memo but he claims he is not the forger and just passed them along from someone else.)

    (Update: Ap reports Kerry campaign official spoke with Burkett at the request of CBS. Crap.)

    Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

    To Thine Own Self be True, II

    Posted by Lexington Green on 19th September 2004 (All posts by )

    I agree strongly with all of Shannon’s post entitled To Thine Own Self be True. I’d add an additional supporting detail in Bush’s case. I will do something I rarely do, while I’m at it, which is speculate on the personal psychology of the two presidential candidates. But, if you can’t do baseless and almost fact-free speculation on a blog, where can you do it?

    President Bush’s practice of Christianity is largely a private matter, though it has a public dimension, and he refers to openly. And in his case the private and devotional element seems to be the core. According to things he has said, he has recourse to frequent personal prayer, which necessarily involves self-examination and asking forgiveness from God. This practice, if done diligently, forces a person to face his true nature, his strengths and weaknesses, to sort out flattery or unfair criticism from reality. And the essence of any such prayerful self-examination is to do so honestly, which is hard. But it is, after all, pointless to lie to yourself or to an all-knowing God.

    I suspect that most ChicagoBoyz readers are of a libertarian mindest. Therefore, I imagine that most would consider Bush’s religious practices to be either irrelevant or a negative, perhaps embarrassing, basically a superstition. But I will assert that Bush’s prayer life provides him with a practical and intellectual advantage which is particularly important in a struggle like this current election campaign. Sun Tzu said know yourself and know your enemy and you will be victorious in a hundred battles. Doing either is hard, and knowing yourself may be the harder of the two. Bush has for a long time devoted the effort needed to know himself as he truly is. This strengthens him in these political struggles in many ways, most of which his enemies cannot understand.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments »

    To Thy Own Self Be True

    Posted by Shannon Love on 19th September 2004 (All posts by )

    I think that Bush has a significant advantage over his opponents in the AWOL story.

    He knows what really happened.

    Everybody else is just guessing, but Bush knows. This gives him an enormous strategic advantage. His opponents don’t really know what happened so they expend a great deal of resources chasing mirages and basing strategy on them.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Glossy Finish, Flat EEG

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 19th September 2004 (All posts by )

    From the easternmost suburbs of Chicago:

    The problem with stereotypes is that there is often a bit of truth to them. It has been said that conservatives think liberals are stupid, and liberals think conservatives are mean. Here’s a little illustration of the bit of truth in the lefty stereotype. Two of the intellectual lights of the left videotaped themselves spray-painting PC slogans on a McDonalds and defacing a statue of Columbus with red paint and the word “murderer.” They were caught by the police in the midst of their revolutionary artistry with the tape still rolling.

    Big surprise that one of them, Walid/Waleed Zaiter, is on the staff of a far-left “education” organization called Social Justice Education. Prominent on their website is a picture of what looks like Zaiter in a ski mask, holding a spray can. His staff biography lists his profession as “self-taught video artist” and graffiti art as one of his interests. But I guess that goes without saying, doesn’t it?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Los Straitjackets and the Famous Pontani Sisters CHILDREN’S Christmas Show

    Posted by Lexington Green on 18th September 2004 (All posts by )

    Our long-time readers know that Los Straitjackets are great favorites around here, especially when accompanied by their occasional teammates, the go-go dancing World Famous Pontani Sisters. (See, e.g. this earlierpost.) (Sylvain’s hopeless infatuation with these ladies has been a source of public embarrassment around here as well.)

    So, parents, here is your chance to be unbelievably cool. You gotta bring the kids to this one.

    Atención chicos and chicas , it’s kiddie a-go-go party time when the masked wonders of the guitar world and the lovely ladies of choreographed cool team up for a rockin’ and dancin’ afternoon of holiday fun!

    Write on the calendar in pen: Sunday, December 19, 2004 at 4:00 PM at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I think this show will sell out, so act now.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

    Good Article on Foreign Policy

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th September 2004 (All posts by )

    Speaking of The Diplomad (see below), he has given us the heads up to this newspaper article by PJ O’Rourke that appeared in the UK Telegraph. It’s a pretty pithy explanation of how America implements it’s foreign policy.

    I should say that it would be funny if it wasn’t so true. An excerpt…..
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Canada: Trying to Make Friends Without Losing The Arrogance

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 18th September 2004 (All posts by )

    Whine and Jeez has given us the heads up to an excellent blog, The Diplomad.

    The authors claim that they’re US State Department employees that have to keep their identities secret in order to protect their jobs. I don’t know if that’s true, but they certainly sound like disgruntled members of the Diplomatic Corps.

    My favorite post is this one. An excerpt……

    As the evening wore on, the Canadians put on a slide show of “Famous People You Didn’t Know Were Canadian.” The usual suspects were there: Lorne Greene, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jim Carrey, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Howie Mandel, Pamela Anderson, and others we can’t remember. (snip)

    It proved an odd event, one which seemed to give Canadians great joy. Diplomad asked a Canadian host what the point was of this show and got, “We want people to know Canada’s contributions. We don’t want them to think that only Americans have talent.” Diplomad, of course, noted to himself that the show should have been titled, “Smart and Talented People Who Had to Flee Canada to Employ Their Brains and Talent.” He, unfortunately, failed to mention that the vast majority of the people whose faces were flashing by had given up their Canadian nationality and become Americans. All he said was, “I guess it would have been a pretty short show if it had been about people known to be Canadian and still in Canada.”

    There’s more good stuff, and I strongly urge you to go and read the post. But there’s one point that The Diplomad makes that illustrates, in my opinion, Canada’s decline.

    On one thing, however, the Canadian diplomats are “manly-girl” rock solid: detesting the United States. And while Hollywood considers Canada a cheap backlot copy of the USA — and a place where the likes of Martin Sheen get a respectful hearing — Canada is not at all like the USA, to Canada’s detriment.

    Canada has become for all intents and purposes a Third World country: Egypt with snow. It whines; it cries; it takes the UN seriously; it hopes that the terrorists will leave them alone, in other words that Moloch will eat them last. All symptoms of a country torn apart by insecurity and not really sure that 10-15 years from now Canada will still exist.

    No one says that a country has to follow the example set by the United States to become a success. It does seem that the course Canada has chosen, to reject everything if it’s tainted by America even if it’s a good idea, is madness of the highest order.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Talk Like A Pirate Day

    Posted by Lexington Green on 17th September 2004 (All posts by )

    As you get older, the years seem to go by more and more quickly. You barely have the wrapping paper thrown out when it is time to start Christmas shopping again. Birthdays come around at a staccato pace. Bare branches break out in delicate green, come to full bloom, then brown and shed in the Autumn breezes before you can get your shirts back from the cleaners.

    So it is no surprise that I glance down for what seems only a minute and when I look up from my desk, here it is again, almost upon us, September 19th, International Talk Like a Pirate Day (and here).

    We introduced you to Jim the Pirate last year, our poster boy for this very special day.

    At that time dispute raged as to whether Jim was a Republican or a Democrat. The Democrats — foolishly, it now appears — failed to seriously consider him for one of the two spots on their national ticket. Bush, perhaps unwisely, has failed to employ him in any capacity. I think he’d be good in Kofi Annan’s job. Or Navy Secretary. Or fitted with a GPS kit and fins, he could be used as a kinetic energy weapon with little risk of collateral damage.

    Avast, ye scurvy dogs, Kerry will swing from the highest yardarm! Arrrr!

    Posted in Humor | 1 Comment »

    The Golconda Cup Polo Match, Hyderabad, 1897

    Posted by Lexington Green on 17th September 2004 (All posts by )

    While eating lunch today I was reading Churchill’s memoir A Roving Commission (which I got here.)(The American edition is called My Early Life.) (It was made into a fine movie called Young Winston, very well cast, with Simon Ward, Anne Bancroft and Robert Shaw.)

    Every single page of this book is so good it is like eating chocolate cake. If I did not restrain myself, I could end up quoting huge slabs of it. I’ll offer you just one slice here.

    I ran across a passage where Churchill’s regiment is going to play polo at a very major tournament. As it happens, Churchill’s 4th Hussars scored a surprise victory over the champion team from “the famous Golconda Brigade, the bodyguard of the Nizam himself.” Soldiering as a British cavalry officer in India in those days was mostly about polo.

    The match was preceded by “a review of the entire garrison”. The troops were paraded, then:

    At the end came a score of elephants drawing tandem-fashion gigantic cannon. It was then the custom for the elephants to salute as they marched past by raising their trunks, and this they all did with exemplary precision. Later on the custom was abolished because vulgar people tittered and the dignity of the elephants or their mahouts was wounded. Later on still, the elephants themselves were abolished, and we now have clattering tractors drawing far larger and more destructive guns. Thus civilization advances. But I mourn the elephants and their salutations.

    I am one of those who is possessed by a book-derived sentimentality for the doomed world that existed in the years before 1914. Too bad the men of that age could not have just carried on sensibly with their soldiers playing polo, polishing their pickelhaubes, shining their boots, and marching briskly to the town square for band concerts on Sunday afternoons. But no. They had to set them to killing each other instead. Scarlet tunics, red trousers, cuirasses, gold epaulettes, plumes, braid, swords — all were doomed to disappear into the mud of World War I. War was revealed as a stern business indeed, of spade-work, of deep, muddy trenches, showers of machine gun bullets, and very large explosions, all ingloriously deadly. Not an affair for dabblers. As Churchill says elsewhere in the same book, “war which used to be cruel and magnificent, has now become cruel and squalid.”

    And I for one mourn with him for the elephant-drawn artillery of those lost and (in some ways) better times.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Evil Aye

    Posted by Shannon Love on 17th September 2004 (All posts by )

    “Four memos to fool them all, four memos to blind them. Four memos to bring Bush down and Rather will provide them!”

    Eye sea

    Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »