Friday, April 30, 2010

John Derbyshire, from We Are Doomed:
I dislike modern American liberalism very much, and believe it to be poisonous and destructive, as well as arrogant and false; yet I'm at ease in a roomful of New York liberals in a way that, to be truthful about it, I am not in a gathering of red-state Evangelicals. Setting aside our actual opinions about this, that, or the other, I'm aware that in the first gathering I'm among people with whom I have, at some level and in some key respects, a shared outlook; and in the second gathering, much less so. . . .

You won't find many people willing to admit to being a metrocon ["metropolitan conservative," a term Derbyshire coined], but the precincts I live and work in are thick with them. I conduct much of my social life among conservative journalists and editors. I know dozens of these folk. They are metrocon almost to a man. And of course woman, though the willing-to-admit quotient is even lower among gynometrocons.

Here, for example, is a question asked by the Gallup polling organization in May 2008: "Do you think homosexual relations between consenting adults should or should not be legal?" Forty percent of Gallup's respondents said "should not." Yet I'm pretty sure that not one of these journo-school metrocon acquaintances of mine would answer "should not" to that question. . . .

I and my metrocon pals, including your favorite conservative TV pundit and the editor and staff of your favorite conservative periodical, therefore stand to the left of 40 percent of Americans on this key social-conservatism topic. Not just 40 percent of conservatives, 40 percent of Americans.

It's the same with many other issues. Did human beings develop from less advanced creatures, with or without God's guidance, or did God create Man in his present form? The public split 50-44 when Gallup polled that one, also in May 2008, whereas my guess for the metrocons would be more like 90-10 at worst. . . .

Looking across the pond at the country of my birth, where there are no powerful conservative lobbies—no Second Amendment warriors, no Christian Conservatives, no Right to Life chapters—I see what happens when conservatism becomes a merely metropolitan cult. Conservative politics in Britain has become marginalized and impotent. Things aren't quite that bad here, and it hasn't been I and my metrocon pals who prevented it. It's been the legions of authentic conservatives out there in the provinces. Metrocons can't carry this thing by themselves. Carry it? We can't even pick it up.

And religion is the real ballast out there, keeping what remains of American conservatism upright and steady.

 

No one should take Barney Frank seriously or trust his judgment. (Via Tyler Durden.)

 

One of the most startling things I've read (from "Reader F"): "My own beloved is a certified psychopath."

 

A few stories from StrategyPage:

"While the Russian armed forces has not been able to buy many real tanks or warplanes in the last two decades, they still buy fake ones."

"Items like new bomb racks rarely get any publicity, but many improvements like this all add up to a major edge in combat capability."

"The widespread use of violence by Islamic terrorists has masked the revival of leftist terrorist groups in the West."

 

Old color photos of New York City.

 

How unscrupulous politicians think. (I don't consider the adjective redundant.)

 

A writer's beginnings.

 

A story from the housing downturn. (Via Steve Sailer.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This administration can't be trusted on anything.

 

I've read accounts before, but I'm glad to be reminded periodically that the reestablishment of Israel didn't create the Palestinian "refugees." As Rick Richman put it on April 20, "The tragedy of the Palestinians is that they could have been celebrating today the 62nd anniversary of their own state as well."

 

A harsh look at the career of Norman Mailer. (Here's a poignant story on Mailer's widow.)

 

Gabriel Schoenfeld:
The assumption that the Iranians are “rational” in the way we normally understand that term is open to doubt. If promiscuous women can cause earthquakes, what kinds of human behavior, one wonders, might cause a nuclear bomb to detonate or be detonated?
One of the most valuable observations I've read in the past few years came from Ralph Peters, who wrote that we should view citizens of other countries as though they're extraterrestrials. They may look like us, but they don't think the way we do:
The point isn't to argue that Afghans [or Iranians] are inferior beings. It's just that they're irreconcilably different beings - more divergent from our behavioral norms than the weirdest crew member of the starship Enterprise.

As an analytical exercise, try to understand Afghanistan [or Iran] as a hostile planet to which we have been forced, in self-defense, to deploy military colonies. How do the bizarre creatures on that other planet view us? What do they want? What will they accept? Is killing us business, pleasure - or both?
That's the right approach, I think.

 

Jerry Pournelle:
In 1983 the National Commission on Education, headed by Nobel Laureate Glenn T. Seaborg, wrote that "If a foreign nation had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war." . . . We have a system of public education indistinguishable from an enemy attack -- and it has been getting worse since the Seaborg report. . . .

Nationally we have opted for equality over excellence. That means that nationally we ignore bright students unless they fit other profiles. . . .

We all know, although few of us say it anymore, that 90% of human progress is the result of about 10% of the population. Those numbers are neither fixed nor rigidly accurate, but they're close enough. The first goal of a tax paid education system should be to see that the 10% get a good start. That's unfair to the other 90% in the short run, but it's more than fair over the long haul. We used to know that. Most of us still know that, but we don't say it very often now.

 

The times we live in.

 

Oh great:
A potentially deadly strain of fungus is spreading among animals and people in the northwestern United States and the Canadian province of British Columbia, researchers reported on Thursday.

The airborne fungus, called Cryptococcus gattii, usually only infects transplant and AIDS patients and people with otherwise compromised immune systems, but the new strain is genetically different, the researchers said.

"This novel fungus is worrisome because it appears to be a threat to otherwise healthy people," said Edmond Byrnes of Duke University in North Carolina, who led the study. . . .

The new strain appears to be unusually deadly, with a mortality rate of about 25 percent among the 21 U.S. cases analyzed, they said.

 

Jonah Goldberg:
In much the same way that neoconservatives accepted a realistic and limited role for the government, Obama tolerates a limited and realistic role for the market: its wealth is necessary for the continuation and expansion of the welfare state and social justice.

 

Via David French, a soldier's story.

 

I'd heard of Chatroulette, but this is the first piece I've read about it, and holy moly is it creepy. Being a parent must be tough in all kinds of new ways these days.

 

Really nice, from a recently-bumped-from-network-tv talk-show host.

 

Maybe it's my temperament, but I find pessimism on the economy much more plausible than optimism.

 

But conservatives are the angry ones.

 

"Cutting taxes is easy. Cutting spending is hard." Great piece by Kevin Williamson.

 

Joni Mitchell isn't one of my favorite songwriters or performers, but I like some of her stuff a lot, and I admire her musical intelligence and creativity. To read this from her, on Bob Dylan, is satisfying; Dylan has always seemed to me vastly and inexplicably overrated.

Below (click "More") is a long post on Dylan I wrote for my previous blog. Sorry the formatting makes it look strange here.


 

Neat ad.

 

Mark Steyn:
For a long time, tea partiers were racists. . . . Frank Rich of the New York Times attempted to diversify the tea-party racism into homophobia by arguing that Obamacare’s opponents were uncomfortable with Barney Frank’s sexuality. I yield to no one in my discomfort with Barney Frank’s sexuality, but, with the best will in the world, I find it hard to blame it for more than the first 4 or 5 trillion dollars of federal overspending.

 

The stuff of nightmares.

 

Kevin Williamson:
Today Greece, tomorrow Portugal ... and California cannot be far behind.

The transition is going to be ugly, though. How ugly? Skip the political theorists and go to Moody's, where the analysts are predicting government "fiscal adjustments of a magnitude that, in some cases, will test social cohesion."

"Test social cohesion." Mark those words.

 

I understand why most people are most concerned about the economy, but I'm confident that some degree of reason will prevail and prevent nation-wrecking disaster. What worries me is this sort of thing. Nuclear-weapons-possessing rogue states and terrorist organizations could destroy us, and I have no confidence that Obama will do anything to defend against them.

 

Charles Krauthammer: "I have never heard a coherent argument against a fence across the border."

 

From Chris Stirewalt, a great (meaning "so clearly stated that I have no problem understanding and remembering it") summary of Goldman Sachs's misdeeds: "[T]he company made billions from betting against mortgage-backed bonds it was selling to customers. Not illegal, but certainly skeevy."

 

Mark Steyn on Britain's anti-racism obsession.

 

From Victor Davis Hanson, thoughts prompted by Arizona's new immigration law.

 

Andrew C. McCarthy on the SEC's case against Goldman Sachs:
Obama & Co. are constructing a narrative that says a near-depression was triggered by greedy Wall Street predators who dragged investors under water. If you buy that, they get a double boon: They escape blame, and they bolster their campaign to grab more control of the private sector under the guise of “regulation.”

Don’t buy it.
A lot of people will, dammit.

 

"If '24' is still on in a few years, I want my kids to watch it."

 

Not terribly surprising, but still.

 

Excellent short post from Timothy P. Carney: "Small business and big government don’t mix" (but big business and big government often do).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Obamacare is power. (The linked piece by Mary Katharine Ham is worth reading too.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

If this happened to my kid I'd beat the hell out of every adult involved. A "little LMSD soap opera"? "I know, I love it!"? You utter pieces of garbage.

 

From StrategyPage's "Murphy's Law" section: The wild-pig problem in northern Iraq.

 

Searching for an explanation of the term "Negro Night" (used by Sam Francis to mock the organizers of the 2004 Democratic Convention), I found this transcription of a former slave's account of her life. Deeply humbling, and moving. Many more "slave narratives" here.

Later: Here's one from Frances Banks, whose grandfather, Wallis Willis, composed "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot."

 

Hard to disagree with this, from Nassim Taleb: "The definition of a robust society: where Paul Krugman could exist without harming others." I hope we get there soon.

 

From The Daily Caller, "the top ten ‘G’ Gmail features and tips we think you’ll find most useful (along with one that’s admittedly pretty useless)."

 

Tim Blair is a funny man:
A young Serbian designer asks:
How many polar bears have you drowned in your life?
Not nearly enough. In fact, not even one. But it’s on my to-do list.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From a site new to me, Letters of Note, three charming items. (On the last one: I'm as sure as I can be that Eliot would've detested Cats beyond even his formidable power to express.)

 

Brave, sensible thoughts on race and capability, from John Derbyshire.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Thanks to Tony Woodlief I understand something that baffled me: Why does the theme from M*A*S*H have such bad lyrics?
Movie director Robert Altman hired Johnny Mandel to score his 1970 satire M*A*S*H. The first scene up was a fake funeral, and Altman needed a song for it.

" 'It should be the stupidest song ever written,' " Mandel recalls Altman saying. "I said, 'Well, I can do stupid.' He says, 'The song should be called 'Suicide Is Painless.' "

Altman took a stab at writing the lyrics, but it just wasn't stupid enough.

"[Altman] said, 'Ah, but all is not lost. I've got a 15-year-old kid who's a gibbering idiot. He's got a guitar. He'll run through this thing like a dose of salts,' " Mandel recalls Altman saying.

Mandel went home and wrote the melody. And the director's young son, Mike Altman, wrote the lyrics.
A brave man once requested me / to answer questions that are key / 'Is it to be or not to be' / And I replied, 'Oh, why ask me?' — "Suicide Is Painless"
Robert Altman later said his son made more than $1 million from the song, whereas he got just $70,000 for directing the movie.
(I hope all that money helped Mike Altman bear his father's contempt. Altman senior's movies, M*A*S*H included, always seemed to me the work of a visually gifted, small-minded misanthrope.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

How did Jonah Goldberg and Glenn Reynolds miss this? (Includes profanity if you aren't German, and if you're reading this you aren't German. Via Tyler Cowen.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A while ago I posted on how snotty leftists reason. Here are some in action. (Via Ann Althouse, via Instapundit.) Incidentally, for Wonkette to mock anyone over poor punctuation or spelling is idiotic. In only the second post I read there (crude stuff, btw) I found "two-hundred pounds a piece," and "Haggar" misspelled twice. Smug, hypocritical jackasses.

 

Theodore Dalrymple:
Self-esteem is, of course, a term in the modern lexicon of psychobabble, and psychobabble is itself the verbal expression of self-absorption without self-examination. The former is a pleasurable vice, the latter a painful discipline. An accomplished psychobabbler can talk for hours about himself without revealing anything.