Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One of the most bizarre news items I've ever seen. Whoever edited the video did an excellently witty job. (Via Nothing To Do With Arbroath.)

 

Michael Ledeen: "The Iranian Death Spiral Speeds Up."
If only there were a Western leader with the prescience and courage to support the Greens, we would find many terrible problems a lot easier to manage: Iraq and Afghanistan would go better, the tyrant Chavez and his “Bolivarian” Axis of Latin Evildoers would be weakened, and the misnamed “peace process” might even have a chance.

But no. This is an era of weak Western leadership, as we all know. We’ll get there eventually, but it’s going to be a lot slower and a great deal tougher than necessary.

UPDATE: As advertised, the regime executed eleven prisoners in Zahedan on Monday the 20th. And those are just the ones they told us about…

SORRY, make it twelve.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"And I was at – forgive the expression – a Christmas party at the Department of Justice. . . ." Forgive the expression? Sheesh. The world of public broadcasting, I guess. No bias there.

Later: Totenberg now says she was "tweaking the Department of Justice" for its "holiday" party. I've watched the original video. She doesn't look like she's joking. But truthfully, I don't care much either way. (Via Instapundit.)

 

Craig Newmark: "The most astonishing thing I've read about government in California." And he reads a lot about government in California, so that's saying something.

 

Very impressive marching-band maneuver.

 

If only my high-school chem classes had been so interesting. (No offense, Mr. C!)



(Via Bits and Pieces.)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I bet Peter Gabriel could make a song out of this. (Via Dark Roasted Blend.)

 

At Letters of Note, a touching farewell from Robert Baden-Powell, the central figure in the creation of the Scout Movement; the message "was read for the first time after he passed away in 1941."

Friday, December 17, 2010

At the Marrakech Film Festival, a chilling glimpse into the Muslim world. Ruth Franklin, a senior editor at The New Republic, describes watching a 1989 movie by a Moroccan director:
When the men awaken to discover the women missing, the entire village is mobilized to hunt them down. Their escape route, which runs along the beach, is entirely exposed, and they are brought back in a fishing boat. Watching the men of the village gather around the two women in a circle on the beach, I ought to have realized what was about to happen, but somehow it did not process. Not until the first stone was raised did I understand. The stoning of the women was staged tastefully, without excessive gore, but it was among the most shocking things I have ever seen on a movie screen. As the scene ended and I sat back in my seat, shaken, something even more astonishing occurred. From the audience around me there came a smattering of applause.

Until that moment, really, I had forgotten where I was.
(Via Contentions.)

(Edited since originally posted.)

 

Today's safety tip: Never fry gnocchi.



(Via The Presurfer.)

 

Weirdest workout ever? I hope so.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What if Rudolph's nose were just like any other reindeer's? (Skip ahead to 1:47, which is when the song starts.)

 

Annoying orange. Annoying orange continued.

(They've been viewed tens of millions of times, but I only just found them.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"I would like to write for the New York Times." (Via the Daily Caller newsletter.)

 

Sentence of the day (actually yesterday), on Elizabeth Hurley:
She has concluded the filming of a Living TV fly-on-the-wall documentary about her particularly glammed up version of country life, and recently launched her own range of snack bars and beef jerky.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I find myself thinking of this, which Charles Murray wrote 100 days into Obama's presidency:
Down the road, the president’s economic policy will engender a new crisis that, to be met, will require him to reassess his assumptions and to defy his political base — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do either of those things. Down the road, a hostile world will require him to make a foreign-policy decision with no good option, only a choice among bad options, in the face of horrific consequences if he is wrong — and we haven’t a shard of evidence that he is able to do that. Worst of all, he will come to those pivotal moments serenely confident that whatever he decides will work out.

How do I think about the Obama presidency as I look ahead? I’m scared stiff.

 

John Steele Gordon relates a conversation he once had with a "very liberal" friend:
I proposed a thought experiment. “Suppose,” I said, “there were an economic magic bullet — that if Congress would pass the necessary legislation and the president were to sign it, the effect would be to double everyone’s real take-home income. If you were living on $50,000 this year, you’d have $100,000 to spend next year.”

“Sounds great,” she said.

“But there’s a catch,” I answered. “The effect of the magic bullet would not double the take-home income of those earning over $1 million — it would quintuple it. In other words, the rich would make out far, far better than the average Joe. But there’s no way out, it’s all or nothing. Would you vote for the magic bullet if you were a member of Congress?”

“Certainly not!” she indignantly replied.

“Fine,” I said. “Now it’s six months later and you’re running for re-election. A constituent comes up to you and says, ‘I’m an English teacher at the local high school. I take home $50,000 a year. I have a daughter who needs serious orthodontics that’s not covered by insurance, my son has learning disabilities and has to be tutored, I’m driving a 10-year-old Buick that will have to be replaced very soon, and my mother-in-law will not be able to live on her own much longer. We never go away on vacation and seldom eat out. You voted against my earning an additional $50,000 a year because you objected to Mr. Bigbucks getting $5 million a year instead of $1 million. I don’t give a damn what the Rockefellers earn. I care about what I earn so I can take care of my family.’ What do you tell him, in order to win his vote?”

Her response: “It’s time for dinner.”
Gordon's conclusion: that "high tax rates on the rich is a religious principle with the left. If the poor have to suffer because of it, so be it."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A short word puzzle.

 

A charming rendition of one of the best pop Christmas songs:



In 2008 Mark Steyn wrote about the song's transformation into a standard:
Frank Sinatra decided he was going to make a Yuletide LP and decided to do "Merry Little". There was just one problem. He wasn't happy with one particular line:
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow...
"Muddling through" didn't seem quite right to Frank. So he called up [the song's composer] Hugh Martin. "The name of my album is A Jolly Christmas," he said. "Do you think you could jolly up that line for me?"

"You don't say no to Sinatra if you've got any brains," figured Martin. So it was back to the old drawing board. And, instead of "muddling through", he substituted:
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Now.
"I was relieved when I came up with 'bough'," said Martin, "because, if you're rhyming with 'now', there weren't many options left other than 'cow'."
Martin, now 96, just published his autobiography.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Craig Ferguson notes the obvious:



Nice to see from a major-network talk-show host, and nice to hear the audience laugh. (Via Mediaite, via Contentions.)

Later: Well, the clip's no longer available, but you can read a transcript at the Newsbusters link.

 

Lawrence Solomon:
Scam artists from around the world, capitalizing on lax regulations at the Danish emissions trading registry, have made off with an estimated $7-billion over the last two years, according to Europol.
It's as if the whole emissions-trading thing is one big fraud. Best detail: the bureaucrat who presided over the mess “has since been promoted to the post of EU Climate Commissioner” and is now in Cancun, “arguing for steps that the global community needs to take for the carbon industry to regain credibility.” Mais oui! (Or whatever the Danish equivalent is.)

(Via Planet Gore.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Awful but funny, from The Onion: "Excitement Growing Among Beatles Fans For Paul McCartney's Funeral."

 

John Podhoretz Tuesday, summing up Obama's press conference:
Well…that was interesting…he spent the first half insulting Republicans and the conclusion screaming at Democrats and left-liberals…All in all, one of the strangest political events of my lifetime.

 

Following on this post, more good links courtesy of Neatorama (plus one from another bookmark-worthy source):
Awesome indeed.

A strange hobby, and she's good at it.

A clever math-related video from a versatile young woman.

Unglamorous competition, nice bunch of people.

Kitten and teddy.

"Birth to 10 years old in 1 minute 25 sec."

Funny ad.

He’s awfully nonchalant about the fate of the regular anchor.

Q&A on the Butterball turkey help line.

Maybe he's dreaming he's Superman.

Arriving train, high-speed camera.

And finally, a Christmas classic creatively compiled. (Via TechBite.)

 

Yuval Levin:
State bonds—including those of the states confronting the very worst fiscal crises—are remarkably strong today because the market implicitly assumes that states will not default on them because Washington would step in if a default were near. Maybe that assumption is unreasonable, but it is certainly widespread. If a state in fact neared or reached default and Washington declined to help, the value not only of that state’s bonds but of all state bonds (and with them a lot of municipal bonds and probably the bond market more generally) would likely plummet, and the consequences would be grave. . . .

It seems to me that Republicans in Washington are not prepared for this scenario. If they want to make the case in the midst of such a panic that a bailout would be worse than a bond-market crisis, they need at least to be thinking through those arguments now, and getting ready for the intense pressure they will face if the worst does happen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A good post from Charles Murray on TSA. He concludes,
When the Department of Homeland Security was created, the very name was unsettling. “Homeland” sounded vaguely totalitarian, a word that the Third Reich or USSR propagandists might use, not a word in the American lexicon. In the wake of 9/11, a lot of us swallowed our objections and muttered, “Well, okay, but be careful how far you take this stuff.” What’s happening at the TSA is why we were apprehensive.

 

Abe Greenwald on a poll showing George W. Bush’s approval rating at 47 percent, a point above Obama’s:
The new poll means that Bush is not some dark deviation from the tradition of American leadership; he’s an American president who will be judged as having gotten some things wrong and others right while trying to do a very hard job. What it also demonstrates is that the hysterical critics of yesteryear lost all perspective on policy and history. In 2008, during a debate on the matter, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg cavalierly pronounced that “Bush was obviously the worst president of the past 50 years.” Yes, so obviously that two years later most Americans don’t consider him to be the worst president of the last three years.

 

It really kind of works: “Rudolph (You Don't Have To Put On The Red Light).” (Via Neatorama.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In a poll by ConservativeHome.com, "Republican activists" were asked to name their favorite conservative commentators. The top five: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Charles Krauthammer, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity. And as ConservativeHome's editor Ryan Streeter notes, Krauthammer's strong showing "is likely owing to his regular Fox appearances," rather than to his weekly syndicated column. The spoken word has more direct power than the written word, even if the latter is more eloquent—something intellectuals (I'm defining the term loosely enough to include me) need to remember.

 

The Flying Geese Paradigm in action: India is outsourcing to the Philippines.

 

A powerful image from Thanksgiving.

 

An excellent post from Yuval Levin on the importance of political parties.

 

Jonah Goldberg:
When activists say we need to move past the partisan divide, what they mean is: Shut up and get with my program. Have you ever heard anyone say, "We need to get past all of this partisan squabbling and name-calling. That's why I'm going to abandon all my objections and agree with you["?] I haven't.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

From Max Boot, a challenge to the New York Times: "Publish Your Internal Correspondence."
My suspicion — call it a hunch — is that the Times won’t accept my modest suggestion. Their position, in effect, is “secrecy for me but not for thee.” But why? Can the Times editors possibly argue with a straight face that their deliberations are more important and more privileged than the work of our soldiers and diplomats? No doubt the editors can see all the damage that releasing their own documents would do — it would have a chilling effect on internal discourse and on the willingness of sources to share information with Times reporters. But they seem blind to the fact that precisely the same damage is being done to the United States government with consequences potentially far more momentous.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Nice anecdote from Jay Nordlinger, about a friend of his:
Not long ago, he caddied for [baseball great] Lou Brock. Said what a gentleman he is, in addition to a tremendous athlete. (Brock, by the way, is new to golf. Took it up at about 70.) An illustration of Brock’s apparent character? At the end of the round, my friend asked, “Would you autograph my cap?” Replied the Hall of Famer, “Sure — but only if you autograph mine. It will be a keepsake from this day.”

 

In a piece from 1995, Dave Barry describes what started as a terrifying experience (and ended well).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

James Lileks in the current* National Review:
Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leader of the Bloomberg faction of the Bloomberg party, was interviewed en route to China, where he was seeking to open diplomatic ties between Cathay and the colorful principality he governs. A quote: “If you look at the U.S., you look at who we’re electing to Congress, to the Senate — they can’t read. I’ll bet you a bunch of these people don’t have passports.”

Brace yourselves! We’re about to be governed by provincial illiterates. For folk like Mike, the Magic Passport possesses liberating qualities; running your fingers over its stiff blue cover makes you think of stepping off a plane, shorn of the thick sopping wool of America, ready for an experience that will add depthless wisdom to your perception of the world. They drive on the other side of the road! They have tiny cups of coffee! Salad comes after the main meal! These globe hoppers believe that someone who’s been to all 50 states is less informed than someone who lives on the Upper East Side all year except for a trip to Cannes. If a passport were required to go west of the Hudson, these people would be proud they didn’t have one.
*(added later) I.e., current print edition.

 

The Onion: "Obama Replaces Costly High-Speed Rail Plan With High-Speed Bus Plan." Great visuals.

 

Good movie at Hulu: Rock My World.