Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From Craig Newmark, eight rules of economics.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nonie Darwish:
America is heading towards a society similar to where we immigrants came from, where the government turns into the keeper of a human zoo where we all live in cages waiting for government to throw food at us every day. But even the government will not be able to sustain the zoo expenses. The U.S. government is on its way to becoming the nightmare totalitarian system from which we immigrants tried to escape.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Europe will see more and more of this:

Muslim immigrants in a town near Copenhagen have forced the cancellation of traditional Christmas displays this year even while spending lavishly on the Islamic Eid celebration marking the end of Ramadan.

. . . [T]he Muslim majority on the Board of Directors refused to authorize spending 7,000 Danish kroner ($1,200) for the community's annual Christmas event.

The vote came shortly after the same Board of Directors authorized spending 60,000 kroner ($10,000) on a large communal celebration of the Muslim holiday Eid. Five out of nine of the board members are Muslims.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hamas are bastards:
The Israeli Defense Forces knocked out Hamas’s communication infrastructure with a strike in Gaza City this weekend. Hamas had placed its equipment atop a building housing foreign press, but Israel managed to surgically eliminate only Hamas’s apparatus.
(Emphasis added.) How can media around the world fail to be outraged by Hamas's use of journalists as involuntary human shields? (I know, I know . . .)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Daniel Pipes on the current Hamas-Israel clash.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

From Kevin Williamson, an insightful examination of Romney's loss in Ohio and its implications for Republicans.

Friday, November 9, 2012

How did the lackluster John McCain draw more popular votes (59,934,814) than the better-liked Mitt Romney (58,159,408 as of today)? The answer: Sarah Palin. Whatever her detractors say, Palin possesses star quality, with huge, widespread appeal; as Thomas Sowell has noted, the only time McCain led Obama in the 2008 race was shortly after Palin joined the GOP ticket. She’s the reason Obama’s victory in 2008 wasn’t a Reagan/Carter-type blowout.

The lesson is this: in US politics charisma and biography matter enormously, possibly more than credentials or competence, definitely more than experience. Romney was a plainly decent and able man, but too few people felt connected to him; Obama’s a disastrous president, but enough people like his story that he managed to sneak out a win. Republicans must choose nominees who inspire passion in voters, even if other candidates have better résumés. Luckily there are several young conservatives with the requisite talent and charisma. For 2016 the best of them is Marco Rubio. We need to start fighting for him now.

Later: John Fund writes that when all ballots are counted Romney will have earned more votes than McCain. I believe him, but I stand by my argument. The electorate is bigger than in 2008, Romney was a more attractive candidate than McCain, yet the nominees' vote totals basically matched. Palin's appeal explains the lack of difference and shows the way ahead for the GOP.

Later still (11/14/12): Romney's total is now 59,133,398.

And (1/16/13): Romney's total has reached 60,931,959.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The DiploMad on Benghazi, Fast and Furious and journalists' collective dereliction of duty.

From Jay Nordlinger, reflections on a trip to Arkansas. Much of interest, including this:

I talk to an old pro in Arkansas politics, and Arkansas society. He has known the Clintons for a long time. He says that Bill Clinton has an excellent memory — a phenomenal memory. He meets you, he’ll remember your face and name years later.

“He comes back” to Arkansas, my friend says. “She doesn’t.” What is the extent of Bill Clinton’s political influence here? “He still moves the African-American vote.”

Daniel Pipes: Even "moderate" Islamists are extremists.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Links to a bunch of videos and suchlike, most of them at or via Neatorama:

An amazing juggler.

Creative—and strenuous—movie promotion.

Better than fetch (because you don't have to pick up anything slobbery).

Lesson: don't help kids in wheelchairs.

Remarkable trailer for a nature film.

Amazing: acquired savant syndrome.

Funny and poignant short documentary.

I so want to know what this sea otter is saying.

Feeding a baby rhino.

Two tough cookies give the Tooth Fairy what for.

No Nil nisi bonum here.

A dog doing doggy things.

Remake of the opening credits of Simon and Simon. Behind the scenes.

What it's like to be in a car crash. Blood is visible; I hope no one was seriously hurt.

"Neglected Ducks Get Their First Swim."

How to flip food in a pan.

Lots o' cats.

Birds stealing food.

Cute picture.

A runner encounters a grizzly.

Two excited dogs and a balloon.

That's love.

A presidential race in which both candidates make sound arguments.

Excellent commercial (for AXE): "Fear No Susan Glenn."

Saturday, October 20, 2012

An enjoyable poem.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Why early voting is a bad idea. Most troubling scenario: a John-Edwards-type candidate whose flaws become known only after early votes have elected him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

According to post-debate polls Romney handily defeated Obama tonight. A response I'm seeing from the Left (e.g. here) is, "So what? Mondale and Kerry (and/or Dukakis and/or Perot) won their respective opening debates." But they weren't Republicans. Has the GOP nominee ever won the first debate decisively and gone on to lose the election? Maybe Jay Cost knows.

(Added 11/7/12) Well, now it's happened at least once.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Maintaining one's individuality is hard.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The DiploMad:

[I]n my 34 years at State dealing with the press, the public, NGOs, the Congress, and other governments, not once was I instructed to lie--until, that is, the arrival of this misadministration when, for example, we were told to go forth and lie about U.S. guns to Mexico. Yes, we had tried to spin things to our advantage; there were things we hoped we would not be asked so we didn't volunteer them; there were times when we were wrong; and there were things that were genuinely secret and we could not discuss. We, however, did not make things up; we did not lie. This President and his minions do not hesitate to lie. This is a very troubling development, and the press does not take them to task for it. If it were not for a handful of media outlets, talk radio, and the blogosphere, the Obama "folks" completely would get away with this "Chicago/Alinsky" way of politics.

What is "self evident" is that this misadministration will say and do anything to keep power.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From David Warren's farewell column:

The terrible, hidden cost of "mass communications" is overlooked in the race to make them bigger and faster. The debilitating effect of mere information has ceased to be an issue in our "information age."

Jonathan Swift - himself an ingenious hack - conveyed this in the metaphor of Lemuel Gulliver, shipwrecked in the land of Lilliput, tied down by a thousand tiny threads. His works have the character of prophecy.

We live in a media-saturated environment, wherein prophecy has been replaced by prediction. I have tried, in this paper, through a number of years, to resist this temptation; and even though cast as a political pundit, to turn attention whenever possible to the larger view. Who knows if I have accomplished anything?

With this last Sunday number of the Ottawa Citizen, I am taking my leave. The editors of the paper have been good to me over the years, and have stood behind me stalwartly through heat. I leave without recriminations.

I may well write for the paper in future, but not three times a week on staff. So far as I have any gifts at all, I will apply them in what remains of my life to argue for the Catholic religion, and defend nobility in every humane form, according to my faith and conscience. But I may no longer belong in "mainstream media;" may never have belonged, and must be on my way.

From 2007, a nice interview of Stephen Fry about his old friend Hugh Laurie and House.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hell yes. If only we had an administration that thought this way. But not since Reagan's. And I fear Romney's won't be much sterner than his predecessor's.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I didn't watch Bill Clinton's speech at the DNC. I've read short quotes from it, and some commentary, almost all of it disconnected from reality. The man is a rapist. Bill Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick. What does it matter what he said or how well he said it? Why is he still welcome in public life? How can people discuss him as though he's just a prominent political figure? He's a rapist, a loathsome, despicable man. That fact should overwhelm all other assessment.

Two lessons, neither new, about the Democrats:

They're amoral. They should've shunned Bill Clinton after his presidency. Instead he's their elder statesman, God help them and the rest of us.

Their bench is thin. Who besides Clinton has the stature within the party to have served persuasively as keynote? I can't think of anyone except Hillary, who evidently wanted to be, or was kept, about as far from the event as physically possible. It's almost no wonder that they gave Bill Clinton 45 minutes in the spotlight. Forty-five minutes. In prime time. To a rapist.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A new blog, underheard, where I'm posting excerpts of songs I wish more people knew. Aiming for a track per day, but I reserve the right to slack off.

(Added 11/7/12) And boy have I slacked off. Partial excuse: I've read that Posterous, where underheard currently resides, may disappear soon. Once I've located a sturdy new home I'll start posting again.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Theodore Dalrymple on "the absurdity of continued British aid to India."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

David Pryce-Jones on an honor killing in Britain.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Items from ScienceDaily:
Innovative problem solving requires trying many different solutions. That's true for humans, and now Michigan State University researchers show that it's true for hyenas, too.
The study . . . presented steel puzzle boxes with raw meat inside to wild spotted hyenas in Kenya. To get the meat, the hyenas had to slide open a bolt latch. Even though most of the animals had many opportunities to open the box, only nine out of 62 hyenas succeeded. The successful hyenas tried more solutions, including biting, flipping or pushing the box, than the ones that failed. . . .

Research has shown that older adults display more positive emotions and are quicker to regulate out of negative emotional states than younger adults. Given the declines in cognitive functioning and physical health that tend to come with age, we might expect that age would be associated with worse moods, not better ones.
So what explains older adults' positive mood regulation?
. . . [R]esearcher Derek Isaacowitz of Northeastern University explores positive looking as one possible explanation: older adults may be better at regulating emotion because they tend to direct their eyes away from negative material or toward positive material.
Isaacowitz presents evidence indicating that, compared to younger adults, older adults prefer positive looking patterns and they show the most positive looking when they are in bad moods, even though this is when younger adults show the most negative looking.

Contrary to popular belief, purified drinking water from home faucets contains millions to hundreds of millions of widely differing bacteria per gallon[.]
[The article’s about something different, but that detail interested me.]

In four different experiments [scientists in New Zealand and Canada] discovered that people believe claims are true, regardless of whether they actually are true, when a decorative photograph appears alongside the claim.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Commenter "yep" in a digital-recording-related thread:

I can't imagine trying to just start out in recording today, I can't even think of how bewildering it must be to have learn all this stuff all at once. I'm sure I would get it, and I know there are people who do, but it's worlds away from the days where you bought a mixer and spent a year figuring out how to deal with routing and bussing while you saved up for a four-track and had maybe another year to figure THAT out while you saved up for an effects box and so on. These days you can buy all kinds of hardware for dirt cheap and download an entire studio to your computer for free, or close to.

It must sometimes seem like you need a PhD just to record your guitar.

Yes it does.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Daniel Henninger:

Liberals and Democrats who work on human-rights issues won't like to hear this, but with the Obama presidency, human rights has completed its passage away from the political left, across the center and into its home mainly on the right—among neoconservatives and evangelical Christian activists. . . .

Barack Obama is not a traditional, internationalist Democrat in the mold of such party elders as John Kerry or Joe Biden. Mr. Obama is a man of the left. His interests are local. The Democratic left can only be understood on any subject if placed inside one, unchanging context: the level of public money available for their domestic policy goals.

It's never enough. And standing between them and Utopia is a five-sided monument to American power across the Potomac. . . .

The Obama White House put a bull's-eye on the defense budget from the start. . . . That's their untapped pot of domestic gold.

(Via Benjamin Weinthal.)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Glenn Reynolds on the Chick-fil-A rumpus:
What I think is funny is that if you have the same view on gay marriage that Obama had when he was elected, now you’re an enemy of humanity or something.
And:
We have always been at war with EastAsia supported gay marriage!
It does seem that 1984 is growing more timely (see e.g. this). Not a good development.
Our nation's finest investigative journalist, Dave Barry, is filing from London, where apparently some sort of sporting competition is to occur. Three pieces so far.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Terrific five-minute TED video: "How Containerization Shaped the Modern World."

Via Craig Newmark, who observes, "Another instance of the benefits of the market."

On "You didn't build that": Obama was referring to infrastructure ("this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges"), not "a business." The whole passage is dreadful, though. Had our forefathers shared Obama's attitude toward industry and government there'd be no "unbelievable American system" and far fewer "roads and bridges" today.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

7/18/12:

Pelosi also weighed in on the pressure on presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney to release additional years of tax returns.

“The American people seem to want to know,” Pelosi said. “His father set the standard for transparency. ... This is a tradition that he is breaking not only personal in his family but for candidates for president of the United States. You want to run for president, the ante is upped.”

7/19/12:

Facing questions about why she and other top Congressional officials won’t release their tax returns, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) downplayed her previous demands for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his, calling the issue a distraction. . . .

“We spent too much time on that. We should be talking about middle-income tax cuts,” Pelosi said after answering two questions about the issue. . . .

“Some people think the same standard should be held to the ownership of the news media in the country who are writing these stories about all of this. What do you think of that?” she asked.

7/20/12:

Congressional leaders were defiant Thursday that Capitol Hill lawmakers should not release their tax returns — even as Democrats kept demanding Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney release his.

“When I run for president of the United States, you can hold me to that standard,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who refuses to disclose her returns, told reporters during a tense news conference. . . .

[S]he reacted testily when asked whether she and members of Congress should abide by such rules.

“There are no rules. There are no rules. There’s no rule about releasing his tax return, so what rules are you referring to?” she asked, growing clearly frustrated. Asked about the standard she had cited for a presidential candidate, Pelosi said: “It’s up to the American people. The American people are the judges of that.”

After being questioned about why her demand for more transparency from Romney shouldn’t apply to Congress as well, she briefly changed course and said the issue of tax returns was not important.

“The tradition that was honored by this same person’s father,” Pelosi said, recalling how George Romney released several years of his tax returns when he ran for president in 1968. “Now I’m not here, this is not important to me, let me say this: What’s important to me are jobs and the rest,” Pelosi said.

Jackass.

LATER: If I used post titles (and I'd thought of it in time) I'd have omitted my single-word summation and called this one "Three Days of the Jackass."

Monday, July 9, 2012

Glenn Reynolds and Mark Krikorian link to this article about the difficulty scientists are having in finding work. One feels for the scientists, and yet . . . do they speak out when politicians criticize drug companies' profits? (A non-rhetorical question; I'd like to know.) It’s those profits that enable R&D, and R&D that permits the retention and hiring of researchers. If they want jobs in the field, then I hope they forthrightly defend the profits that create those jobs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Excellent post by Yuval Levin on Obamacare, Paul Ryan's plan and "the left’s basic conceptual error in the health-care debate."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day.

It was all very well sitting there on her verandah thinking about the problems of others, but it was getting late in the afternoon and there were things to do. In the kitchen at the back of the house there was a packet of green beans that needed to be washed and chopped. There was a pumpkin that was not going to cook itself. There were onions to be put in a pan of boiling water and cooked until soft. That was part of being a woman, she thought; one never reached the end. Even if one could sit down and drink a cup of bush tea, or even two cups, one always knew that at the end of the tea somebody was waiting for something. Children or men were waiting to be fed; a dirty floor cried out to be washed; a crumpled skirt called for the iron. And so it would continue. Tea was just a temporary solution to the cares of the world, although it certainly helped.
Alexander McCall Smith, Blue Shoes and Happiness

There is no question that God is an American. God may have started out in Europe but he came to America as soon as he noticed that we were basically goodhearted people who bathed regularly and would someday invent central air-conditioning.

Bubba says people who sometimes have doubts about God being an American just need to remind themselves of where cold meatloaf sandwiches and college football came from.

Bubba loves God and tries to go to church every Easter. He also prays to God in his own quiet way, usually in those moments when he would dearly like to put a tee shot in the fairway on a long Par-4 or badly needs a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

But he understands completely that there will be those occasions when God is in Palm Springs with his phone off the hook.

Dan Jenkins, Bubba Talks

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Brett Kimberlin: the pop song.

Lyrics and links at YouTube.

LATER: Aaron Worthing notes that I made a mistake in the lyrics. Damn. I'll record a new, corrected version of the line and see if I can fit it into the track.

STILL LATER: I've posted the corrected version and adjusted the above links accordingly.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The official song for the 2012 London Olympics, "Survival" by Muse, is horrendous. I'm hoping it's an elaborate hoax.
Justice Sotomayor's concurrence in Knox v. SEIU prompts this note on grammar from Ed Whelan:
[Sotomayor] devotes most of her opinion to complaining about what she calls the “majority’s decision to address unnecessarily significant constitutional issues well outside the scope of the questions presented and briefing.” (That passage is a great illustration of how the imagined rule against splitting infinitives can generate awful and confusing prose: The reader first encountering the passage may well wonder how it is that the constitutional issues are “unnecessarily significant.”)
He's right. Time to bend on that one.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jonah Goldberg:
Watching Bill Clinton act as Barack Obama’s “No. 1 surrogate,” in the words of NPR, is as exquisitely painful as watching a runaway monkey with a paintball gun at a museum.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Jonathan V. Last on Amazon and capitalism. (Scroll down to "THE LAST WORD.")

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vice President Biden to college students visiting the White House:
You’re an incredible generation. And that’s not hyperbole either. Your generation and the 9/11 generation before you are the most incredible group of Americans we have ever, ever, ever produced.
Quoted by Jonah Goldberg, who comments, "That politicians pander to anything that moves is hardly a shocking revelation. . . . What’s dismaying is how much this sort of thing seems to work."
Theodore Dalrymple:

An essay in the New England Journal of Medicine . . . points out that doctors are still largely at a loss about what to do when a patient’s death is close but he could be kept alive a little longer with active and intrusive treatment. Should they present the patient, or the patient’s relatives, with a kind of multiple choice list and let him or them decide among the various options?

. . . [A] survey found that only 16 percent of seriously ill hospital patients wanted to make end of life decisions on their own. Certainly on the rare occasions when I have been very ill the last thing I wanted was to have to make choices: I wanted others to make them for me. I didn’t want to be involved in them at all, in fact.

An understandable misunderstanding, explained by sociologist Gabriel Rossman:
In 1981, [Mitt] Romney was arrested for launching a boat after a police officer warned him that his boat's license number was inadequately displayed and he faced a $50 fine. Romney launched the boat anyway and the cop arrested him. What seems to have gone on is a conflict in how to understand the interaction up [to] that point. The cop seems to have seen himself as giving an order which was then disobeyed. That is, a violation of an authority relationship which requires the lower party to show deference. Conversely, Romney described the situation as "I was willing to pay the fine. But if he had said don't launch the boat and not mentioned the fine, I would not have done it." That is he was operating under the understanding that, as Gneezy and Rustichini later put it, "a fine is a price." . . . Romney's understanding was that . . . if he was willing to pay the price this would fully settle the matter. In other words, it was a matter of market pricing. In contrast the police officer did not seem to be worried that Romney would skip out on the fine but that, as Eric Cartman would say, he had failed to "respect my authorité" ranking.
(Via, I think, Glenn Reynolds.)
Jonah Goldberg:
Like so many in his phylum, [liberal columnist Joe] Klein is fixated on the issue of “compromise.” These days, “compromise” means conservatives should cave-in on all of the big issues and liberals should be gracious about not rubbing it in too hard.
Charles Moore in the (UK) Spectator:

The other day, I bumped into a friend on a mid-morning train to London. She is an extremely active businesswoman, and normally on impossibly early trains, so I knew something must have changed in her life. Sure enough, she said that she had left her high-powered job and was looking for new opportunities. Not an easy time, I commiserated. ‘Oh no,’ she conradicted me, ‘there’s this new rule that women have to be on the boards of all big companies, so I’m absolutely fine.’

Kevin D. Williamson:
Democrats who argue that the best policies for black Americans are those that are soft on crime and generous with welfare are engaged in much the same sort of cynical racial calculation President [Lyndon] Johnson was practicing when he informed skeptical southern governors that his plan for the Great Society was “to have them ni**ers voting Democratic for the next two hundred years.” Johnson’s crude racism is, happily, largely a relic of the past, but his strategy endures.
(No asterisks in original.)
Heather Mac Donald on New York City crime data:

Blacks are 53 percent of stop subjects,* though they are 23 percent of the city’s population. Whites are 9 percent of stop subjects, though they are 35 percent of the city’s population. Therefore, conclude [Manhattan Borough President Scott] Stringer and others, the NYPD targets individuals for stops based on their race rather than on crime patterns and suspicious behavior.

Here is what the anti-cop critics never divulge: Blacks are 66 percent of all violent-crime suspects, according to the victims of and witnesses to those crimes. Blacks commit around 70 percent of all robberies and about 80 percent of all shootings in the city. Add Hispanic shooters, and you account for 98 percent of all shootings in the city.

Whites, by contrast, were only 5 percent of all violent crime suspects in 2011. According to victim and witness reports, they commit barely over 1 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies.

Such disparities mean that the police can’t deploy their resources where people most need protection from violence — in minority neighborhoods — without producing racially disproportionate stops.

*Refers to the NYPD’s "Stop, Question and Frisk" policy, in which (as Fox News summarizes it) "officers randomly stop a person to determine if they are up to any wrongdoing or possess weapons and contraband items."
I have a weakness for sweeping statements by knowledgeable people, such as this one by John Podhoretz: Obama's victory in 2008 "with three years of national political experience under his belt was probably the luckiest event in the history of American politics."

Friday, June 1, 2012

Keith Richards on songwriting.
Thomas Sowell:

[T]he history of balkanized and polarized societies in the 20th century is a history of horrors that we dare not ignore.

We are not at that terrible point yet. But that is the direction in which we are headed, under the spell of magic words like “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” which have become substitutes for thoughts even among those who pride themselves on being “thinking people.”

Jay Nordlinger:

[T]hank goodness for recordings, those second-bests — those souvenirs of actual, live performance. (Sergiu Celibidache, the late Romanian conductor, took a dimmer view: “Listening to a record is like kissing a photograph of Brigitte Bardot.”)

(That is how the line has come down to us, anyway. I understand Celi did not, in fact, say “kissing.”)

I'd donate to Obama's campaign—and I think many other conservatives would do likewise—in payment for thorough answers to these questions.
From a 2008 analysis of Obama's memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance:
The reader . . . cannot help being struck by the unexplained contrast between the circumstances of Obama’s life — an opportunity to attend a fine school, white grandparents who love him — and his great anger at white society.
Anthony Daniels, reviewing a biography of Margaret Sanger:

It is not without reason . . . that prophets are sometimes without honor in their own country. They get things wrong.

* * *

There is no sadder fate for a reformer than to see his or her reforms accepted.

Worth noting, on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Thomas Sowell:
Telling young people that some jobs are “menial” is a huge disservice to them and to the whole society. Subsidizing them in idleness while they wait for “meaningful work” is just asking for trouble, both for them and for all those around them.
Victor Davis Hanson:
This week I am walking in German cities along the Rhine that were nearly leveled in 1945. Not long ago I visited Detroit, which was booming in 1945. The latter now looks like its own homegrown B-24s bombed it yesterday, the former as if they had been untouched in the war that Germans started. Ponder those interchanged fates, and why and how these respective American and German cities got to where they were in 1945, and then again to where they are now.
Elliott Abrams on "the state of Obama foreign policy, year four."
Mark Steyn: "The urge to ensnare in legalisms every aspect of human existence — including John Edwards's rutting — will consume American liberty."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jay Nordlinger:
There are four versions of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. . . . Earlier this month, one version of The Scream sold at auction for $120 million. The seller said that the painting “serves as a warning about climate change.”

Ladies and gentlemen, is it just me, or has the world gone stark-raving mad, where the climate is concerned? I mean, just bonkers.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tide commercial:

New and improved Tide commercial:

I love that he didn't overdo it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two on crows: "6 Terrifying Ways Crows Are Way Smarter Than You Think," from Cracked; and "Frequently Asked Questions About Crows," by Dr. Kevin J. McGowan of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. From the latter:
Crows do have one endearing characteristic that is apparently not shared by other birds. They will get to know people as individuals. While you can get chickadees to eat out of your hand, any old hand will do, and I suspect that the chickadees do not know you as an individual. Crows will! If you toss them peanuts (I recommend unsalted, in the shell) on a regular basis, they will wait and watch for you. Not just any person, but you. If you do this often enough, they will follow you down the street to get more. I have made a point of getting on the good side of a number of crow families around Ithaca. Some will follow my car down the street, and if I don't notice them and toss them peanuts they will dash across the windshield to let me know they are there. Some of these crows recognize me far from their home territories, way out of context. (It did, however, take some of them a long time to learn to recognize my new car.) So indulge yourself and makes some personal friends with the crows. That is the preferred relationship, because they also are happy to turn this talent of recognition to the darker side, and treat you as an enemy. (Again, not just all people, but YOU.) Because I climb to crow nests to band young birds, many crows in Ithaca know me and hate me. Whenever they notice me in their territory they will come over and yell at me. They will follow me around and keep yelling for as long as I am there. Believe me, it's better to be on their good side than their bad side!
A few crows have been squabbling outside my house this weekend. I went searching the Web to see if anyone likes the noise they make, because I sure don't. I think Dr. McGowan may qualify.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

David P. Goldman:
The southern Europeans want a nanny state, but they don’t want to pay taxes. They want Germany to pay their taxes for them.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some science items via ScienceDaily's (free) newsletter:
For the first time scientists have succeeded in taking skin cells from heart failure patients and reprogramming them to transform into healthy, new heart muscle cells that are capable of integrating with existing heart tissue.



A new study by civil engineers at MIT shows that using stiffer pavements on the nation's roads could reduce vehicle fuel consumption by as much as 3 percent -- a savings that could add up to 273 million barrels of crude oil per year, or $15.6 billion at today's oil prices.



Rapid DNA sequencing may soon become a routine part of each individual's medical record, providing enormous information previously sequestered in the human genome's 3 billion nucleotide bases.



When mice on a high-fat diet are restricted to eating for eight hours per day, they eat just as much as those who can eat around the clock, yet they are protected against obesity and other metabolic ills, the new study shows.
Daniel Casey, who played Sergeant Gavin Troy in the first twenty-nine episodes of Midsomer Murders:
John [Nettles, star of the series] and I got on really well, from the first day really. The first scene we shot, we had to drive up in a car outside a murder scene, stop, get out, have a bit of a chat and walk in the house. I drove up, I stopped, I got out, said my line... and all I could hear was shouting from inside the car. I’d parked about an inch from a wall and John couldn’t open the door. He was saying ‘ambitious little swine, isn’t he?!’

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

From Joshua Davis at Wired, a gripping story of cousinly envy and cultural spite: "The Stalking of Korean Hip Hop Superstar Daniel Lee."

Later: Here's the most recent information I can find on the defamation trial. The commenters seem to be strongly with Lee.

(Edited since originally posted.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I just submitted this comment on an article about same-sex marriage:
One commenter keeps asking, e.g., "How is 2 men/women getting married going to affect anyone else's marriage in any way?"

I've seen this question before, and the answer's always seemed to me obvious. A straight young man who sees two men marrying is less inclined to marry. Straight young men (hereinafter SYM) generally want to be not-gay. That gay men like something makes SYM dislike it and seek to avoid being identified with it. You can consider that reaction shallow or primitive, but it's endemic among SYM. (I don't know single young women's reaction to seeing two women marry.)

It's like when you notice some doofus wearing clothes you were considering buying. Suddenly they hold less appeal.
Later: Another commenter reminds me that John Derbyshire made the same point (far better) in a 2003 column. Worth (re)reading.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

I find John Derbyshire's controversial column typically excellent, and most of the commentary on it disappointing. In response to writers lamenting the prejudice and danger innocent blacks face from bigoted whites, Derbyshire warns his children of the prejudice and danger innocent whites face from bigoted blacks. If his piece is unacceptable why aren't the others? Where's the condemnation of, for instance, Darryl E. Owens?

Derbyshire offers a few further thoughts here. Here's an interview from soon after the ruckus began. And here's the text of an address he gave this year on the future of race relations. It is, as his work tends to be, learned, lucid and generous of spirit.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Some science items via ScienceDaily's (free) newsletter:
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have shown the ability to turn scar tissue that forms after a heart attack into heart muscle cells using a new process that eliminates the need for stem cell transplant.
The study . . . used molecules called microRNAs to trigger the cardiac tissue conversion in a lab dish and, for the first time, in a living mouse, demonstrating the potential of a simpler process for tissue regeneration.
If additional studies confirm the approach in human cells, it could lead to a new way for treating many of the 23 million people worldwide who suffer heart failure, which is often caused by scar tissue that develops after a heart attack. The approach could also have benefit beyond heart disease.
"This is a significant finding with many therapeutic implications," said Victor J. Dzau, MD, a senior author on the study who is James B. Duke professor of medicine and chancellor of health affairs at Duke University. "If you can do this in the heart, you can do it in the brain, the kidneys, and other tissues. This is a whole new way of regenerating tissue."

‘Self-healing’ concrete is being developed by researchers at Northumbria University which could see cracks in concrete buildings become a thing of the past. . . .
“This project is hugely exciting. The potential is there to have a building that can look after itself.”

Long portrayed as stagnant in economic terms, the income growth of the U.S. middle class may be much greater than suggested by economists like Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. . . .
Median income of the U.S. middle class rose by as much as 37 percent from 1979-2007[,] says Richard Burkhauser. . . . In contrast, when Piketty and Saez-style estimates were used, median income increased by only 3.2 percent over the same period.
. . . Burkhauser's team . . . was able to show how much the income picture changes when taxes are subtracted from market income and government transfers such as welfare assistance, unemployment insurance and Social Security benefits are added. The team also adjusted for household size and the value of health insurance -- factors Burkhauser says more accurately reflect financial resources available to middle class individuals.
Says Burkhauser: "When we broaden our measure to include government taxes and transfers and look at households adjusted for size, the gains of middle class Americans are ten times larger. The gains are even more when we include the value of in-kind income such as the value of employer and government provided health insurance."

The herpes zoster vaccine, also known as the shingles vaccine, is generally safe and well tolerated according to a Vaccine Safety Datalink study of 193,083 adults. . . .
More than 1 million people develop shingles every year in the United States. Shingles is a painful contagious rash caused by the dormant chickenpox virus which can reactivate and replicate, damaging the nerve system. The elderly are especially vulnerable because immunity against the virus that causes shingles declines with age.

Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have identified a new way to deliver long-lasting pain relief through an ancient medical practice. . . .
Several years ago, Zylka and members of his lab documented how injecting PAP into the spine eased chronic pain for up to three days in rodents. The only problem was PAP's delivery. . . .
"We knew that PAP . . . lasts for days following spinal injection, so we wondered what would happen if we injected PAP into an acupuncture point?" Zylka said. "Can we mimic the pain relief that occurs with acupuncture, but have it last longer?"
To find out, Zylka and his lab injected PAP into the popliteal fossa, the soft tissue area behind the knee. This also happens to be the location of the Weizhong acupuncture point. Remarkably, they saw that pain relief lasted 100 times longer than a traditional acupuncture treatment. What's more, by avoiding the spine the researchers could increase the dose of PAP. A single injection was also effective at reducing symptoms associated with inflammatory pain and neuropathic pain.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

You can’t have geniuses and saints without having people far outside the norm, and I don’t see how you can have such things on only one side of the norm. There is bound to be a certain symmetry.
Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Earth

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Glenn Reynolds points to an article about the desire many women feel "to be controlled or dominated in the romantic sphere." The author, Katie Roiphe, writes that such fantasies "seem to be saying something about modern women that nearly everyone wishes wasn’t said." If it's true, though . . .

W. Somerset Maugham, who based his fiction closely on his own experiences, has a Tahitian woman say this in The Moon and Sixpence (1919; p. 269 here):
My first husband, Captain Johnson, used to thrash me regularly. He was a man. He was handsome, six foot three, and when he was drunk there was no holding him. I would be black and blue all over for days at a time. Oh, I cried when he died. I thought I should never get over it. But it wasn't till I married George Rainey that I knew what I'd lost. You can never tell what a man is like till you live with him. I've never been so deceived in a man as I was in George Rainey. He was a fine, upstanding fellow too. He was nearly as tall as Captain Johnson, and he looked strong enough. But it was all on the surface. He never drank. He never raised his hand to me. He might have been a missionary. I made love with the officers of every ship that touched the island, and George Rainey never saw anything. At last I was disgusted with him, and I got a divorce. What was the good of a husband like that? It's a terrible thing the way some men treat women.
That passage startled me when I first read it, but I believed it, and I'm unsurprised that the longing persists.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some science items via ScienceDaily's (free) newsletter:
A new study using satellite mapping technology reveals there are twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica [as] previously thought. . . . [T]his iconic bird . . . breeds in remote areas that are very difficult to study because they often are inaccessible with temperatures as low as -58 degrees Fahrenheit.



When Dr. Irene Gatti de Leon slipped on the ice and bumped her head, she wasn't too concerned. But two months later, she began to experience weakness in her right leg and right arm while she and her husband were visiting their daughter in suburban Chicago.

So she made an urgent appointment with Loyola University Medical Center neurologist Dr. José Biller, a fellow native of Uruguay whom she has known for years.

Biller ordered an immediate MRI scan, which showed a large subdural hematoma -- a mass of blood on the surface of the brain. With the hematoma compressing the brain, de Leon was in imminent danger of suffering permanent paralysis or cognitive deficits, similar to disabilities caused by strokes.

Biller referred de Leon to Loyola neurosurgeon Dr. Douglas Anderson, who stayed late to perform emergency surgery. Anderson drilled two holes in her skull and drained the hematoma, which was about 2 inches long and 1½ inches thick. De Leon has made a full recovery. . . .

De Leon's case "is an excellent illustration of why patients should not ignore neurological symptoms," Biller said.



Abandoned army bunkers along the Jordan River have become a habitat for 12 indigenous bat species, three of which are already designated as endangered and two that are on the critical list.

. . . [R]esearchers are now working to make the bunkers a more hospitable place for the bats by "roughing up" the steel and concrete walls -- suspending mesh sheets and wooden pallets and spraying insulating foam and stuck stones to surfaces to provide a better grip.



[Headline: Caterpillars More Likely to Vomit Alone]

A type of caterpillar which defends itself by regurgitating on its predators is less likely to do so when in groups than when alone. . . .

Such reluctance is sufficient to cancel out the benefits of being in a group.



Strong scientific evidence exists that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes, scientists report.



Stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current is a safe and effective treatment for depression and could have other surprise benefits for the body and mind, a major Australian study of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) has found. . . .

A non-invasive form of brain stimulation, tDCS passes a weak depolarising electrical current into the front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp. Patients remain awake and alert during the procedure. . . .

The study also turned up additional unexpected physical and mental benefits, including improved attention and information processing.

"One participant with a long-standing reading problem said his reading had improved after the trial and others commented that they were able to think more clearly.

"Another participant with chronic neck pain reported that the pain had disappeared during the trial. We think that is because tDCS actually changes the brain's perception of pain. We believe these cognitive benefits are another positive aspect of the treatment worthy of investigation," Professor Loo said.



Those suffering from nagging tinnitus can benefit from internet-based therapy just as much as patients who take part in group therapy sessions. These are the findings of a German-Swedish study in which patients with moderate to severe tinnitus tried out various forms of therapy over a ten-week period. The outcome of both the internet-based therapy and group therapy sessions was significantly better than that of a control group that only participated in an online discussion forum. . . .

The results for subjects in the cognitive behavioral therapy group were also very good, with distress levels being reduced from 44 to 29 points. In contrast, there was hardly any change in this respect in the control group subjects participating in the online discussion forum. Their average distress level was 40 points at the beginning of the study and remained at 37 points thereafter.



Men like to know when their wife or girlfriend is happy while women really want the man in their life to know when they are upset, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association. . . .

"It could be that for women, seeing that their male partner is upset reflects some degree of the man's investment and emotional engagement in the relationship, even during difficult times. . . ,” said the study's lead author. . . .

Relationship satisfaction was directly related to men's ability to read their female partner's positive emotions correctly. However, contrary to the researchers' expectations, women who correctly understood that their partners were upset during the videotaped incident were much more likely to be satisfied with their relationship than if they correctly understood that their partner was happy. Also, when men understood that their female partner was angry or upset, the women reported being happier, though the men were not.
Kevin D. Williamson:
It may be that the administration really believes its risible rhetoric about the so-called green-energy economy that’s always right around the corner (waiting for a federal handout). But a policy cannot be judged by the intentions of the men behind it; it must be judged by its actual results, which in this case means subsidizing dirty Chinese coal at the expense of the U.S. economy.
Another marvelous government official.
Nina Shea and Andrew C. McCarthy on our kowtowing to Mideast Muslims.
A nice brief tribute from one economist, Don Boudreaux, to another:
Ronald Coase published his first seminal article (“The Nature of the Firm”) in 1937 (the year before my mother was born). Yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, Coase published this new essay (co-authored with Ning Wang); it’s on recent Chinese history and on China’s likely future economic prospects. As is true of every word that I’ve read by the 101 year old Coase – and I’ve read, probably, about 75 percent of his published works – this essay is wise and clear.
Seventy-five years of high-level productivity; amazing and enviable.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Some recent items via ScienceDaily's (free) newsletter:
Growing older and being overweight are not necessarily associated with a decrease in mental well-being, according to a cross-cultural study looking at quality of life and health status in the US and the UK. . . .

The researchers found that people reported better mental quality of life as they age, despite a decrease in physical quality of life.

-----

A new study in
Science suggests that thrill-seeking is not limited to humans and other vertebrates. Some honey bees, too, are more likely than others to seek adventure. The brains of these novelty-seeking bees exhibit distinct patterns of gene activity in molecular pathways known to be associated with thrill-seeking in humans. . . .

The findings offer a new window on the inner life of the honey bee hive, which once was viewed as a highly regimented colony of seemingly interchangeable workers taking on a few specific roles (nurse or forager, for example) to serve their queen. Now it appears that individual honey bees actually differ in their desire or willingness to perform particular tasks.

-----

Printing three-dimensional objects with incredibly fine details is now possible. . . . With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a major breakthrough in speeding up this printing technique. . . . This opens up completely new areas of application, such as in medicine.

-----

After being deprived of sex, male fruit flies, known as
Drosophila melanogaster, may turn to alcohol to fulfill a physiological demand for a reward. . . . [U]nderstanding why rejected male flies find solace in ethanol could help treat human addictions. . . .

In the study, male fruit flies that had mated repeatedly for several days showed no preference for alcohol-spiked food. On the other hand, spurned males and those denied access to females strongly preferred food mixed with 15 percent alcohol.

-----

In tests on drug-resistant cancer cells, . . . researchers found that delivering chemotherapy drugs with nanobubbles was up to 30 times more deadly to cancer cells than traditional drug treatment and required less than one-tenth the clinical dose.

-----

New scientific research raises the possibility that advanced versions of
T. rex and other dinosaurs -- monstrous creatures with the intelligence and cunning of humans -- may be the life forms that evolved on other planets in the universe. . . .

". . . Such life forms could well be advanced versions of dinosaurs, if mammals did not have the good fortune to have the dinosaurs wiped out by an asteroidal collision, as on Earth. We would be better off not meeting them."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

This is just a bad idea.




It needs to stop.

(Via Huffington Post and Drudge.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Video interview of Mark Steyn. Very smart, very funny.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Jay Nordlinger:
If I remember correctly, Chris Rock once had a talk show, which had Jesse Jackson as a guest. And the host, Rock, asked him, “Could you tell me something, reverend? I’ve always wondered: What is it you do?”

A few days ago, Jackson said, “Blacks are under attack.” That’s what he does.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mark Steyn on the Toulouse killings and their implications:
A society that becomes more Muslim eventually becomes less everything else.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Abe Greenwald and Evelyn Gordon on some musicians / human-rights poseurs.
Headline of the year so far:
Drunken elk hides kids' swing set in a tree
(Via Dave Barry.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago predicts that under Obamacare and the HHS mandate, “unless something changes,” in two years all Catholic hospitals will have shut down.

Ace observes,
The state would have to come in and take over, right? I mean, they'd have to. Something Must Be Done, and ergo the state gains new powers, somehow. To fix its previous mistakes.

The real genius of socialism is that it is filled with mistakes and poor decisions, and those very mistakes and poor decisions then supply the justification for additional assertions of power, to fix problems their last power-grab created.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Heather Mac Donald on "the distortions of discourse that flow from affirmative action."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mark Steyn, prompted by the furor over Foster Friess's now-infamous joke,* quotes a New York Times article, "For Women Under 30 Most Births Occur Outside Marriage":
Amber Strader, 27, was in an on-and-off relationship with a clerk at Sears a few years ago when she found herself pregnant. A former nursing student who now tends bar, Ms. Strader said her boyfriend was so dependent that she had to buy his cigarettes. Marrying him never entered her mind. “It was like living with another kid,” she said.

When a second child, with a new boyfriend, followed three years later — her birth control failed, she said — her boyfriend, a part-time house painter, was reluctant to wed.
Steyn comments,
If, as I do, you live in the country, you have dozens of neighbors like Miss Strader – nice high-school girls who babysit your kids; you lose touch, they move to the next town, and you bump into them a couple of years later doing the late shift at the diner or the general store; they’re 23 or 24, with three kids by three different guys. And they’re still nice, and still kinda pretty, if aged beyond their years. But life and its opportunities are fled. If you’re Britney Spears and you wake up after an almighty bender next to some guy you’d rather not face the grey morning after with, there are high-priced lawyers and managers and minders to make all the bad stuff go away. If you’re Britney at the KwikkiKrap, it’s not so easy. . . .

A country in which Foster Friess’ line rouses more concern than that
New York Times headline is not one you’d want to bet on.
*"You know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. . . . The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly."

(Edited since originally posted.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Jay Nordlinger:
I have said it for decades, ever since being exposed to the Arab world while in high school: The region will never, ever progress until the fever breaks — until the culture of the lie, the culture of nutty paranoia, dies or weakens. More than poverty or anything else, it’s lunacy and lies that hold the Arab world back.

Many Arabs will tell you this, when they think it’s safe to do so.

Quick story — a repeat: On 9/11 or 9/12, I received an e-mail from an Egyptian acquaintance, who lectured at the university in Alexandria. Very well-educated, Westernized woman. She said (in essence), “I hope you’re okay. And please know it couldn’t have been Arabs who did this — it must have been the Jews.”

If she could do no better than that — what hope was there for the man who emptied her trash at the university?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carol Iannone:
[A]t a talk some time ago by a South African scholar, also attended by members of his family, I discovered that they are afraid to walk around their city; whites and Jews are subject to quotas in medical and other professional schools; and many young people are hoping to leave the country never to return.
As in Iraq between the toppling of Saddam and the surge, freedom from an oppressive regime can bring new oppression.
From Michael Potemra, on memory and grief.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sen. Tom Coburn on today's tax-cut deal: "Washington at its worst."
David Pryce-Jones finds in Germany's current treatment of Greece ominous similarities to the Axis occupation of the 1940s.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

From Yuval Levin, an excellent, bleak post on Obama's budget proposal.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thomas Sowell:
[T]here needs to be some understanding of the reckless accusations that have become part of the all-out attempt to destroy Newt Gingrich, as so many other political figures have been destroyed, by non-stop smears in the media. . . .

[T]he poisonous practice of irresponsible smears is an issue that is bigger than Gingrich, Romney, or any other candidate of either party.

There have long been reports of people who decline to be nominated for federal judicial appointments because that means going before the Senate Judiciary Committee to have lies about their past spread nationwide, and the good reputation built up over a lifetime destroyed by politicians who could not care less about the truth.

The same practices may well have something to do with the public’s dissatisfaction with the current crop of candidates in this year’s primaries — and in previous years’ primaries. Character assassination is just another form of voter fraud.

There is no law against it, so it is up to the voters, not only in Florida but in other states, to punish it at the ballot box — the only place where punishment is likely to stop the practice.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mark Krikorian:
Mexico’s successful evolution into a modern industrialized democracy is the most vital foreign-policy interest we have — way, way more important than which gang of goat-herding barbarians rules the Hindu Kush or anything that happens in Syria or Yemen or Libya or Belarus or Burma or Uganda or even Iran. And yet Mexico’s an afterthought, both for the media and for policymakers, unless someone’s head gets chopped off — the president didn’t even mention it once on Tuesday [in the SOTU].

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jonah Goldberg* on "this 'national conversation about race' liberals keep clamoring for":
As I've written a million times now, the pattern goes like this. Liberals insist that we must talk openly and honestly about race. A conservative says something open and honest about race. Liberals scream "Racist!" and try to destroy him for saying what liberals hoped he would say.
And it will never end.

*No link; in his free newsletter; subscribe here.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Theodore Dalrymple on courage, culture and the Concordia.

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm glad I don't have to fly.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Dave Barry's "Year in Review" is up, and very funny, as always.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mark Steyn's column this weekend, on our fiscal profligacy, is one of his best. Two passages among many worth quoting:
Public debt has increased by 67 percent over the last three years, and too many Americans refuse even to see it as a problem. . . . Look into the eyes of Barack Obama or Harry Reid or Barney Frank, and you realize that, even as they’re borrowing all this money, they have no serious intention of paying any of it back. That’s to say, there is no politically plausible scenario under which the 16.4 trillion is reduced to 13.7 trillion, and then 7.9 trillion, and eventually 173 dollars and 48 cents. At the deepest levels within our governing structures, we are committed to living beyond our means on a scale no civilization has ever done.

* * *

At this stage in a critical election cycle, we ought to be arguing about how many government departments to close, how many government programs to end, how many millions of government regulations to do away with. Instead, one party remains committed to encrusting even more barnacles to America’s rusting hulk, while the other is far too wary of harshing the electorate’s mellow.