Thursday, July 31, 2008

Name That Rude Euphemism

When this happens to you in public, you wind up walking funny for a week.

What's that called again?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What A Lovely Mocking

From The Onion:

Former vice president Al Gore—who for the past three decades has unsuccessfully attempted to warn humanity of the coming destruction of our planet, only to be mocked and derided by the very people he has tried to save—launched his infant son into space Monday in the faint hope that his only child would reach the safety of another world.

"I tried to warn them, but the Elders of this planet would not listen," said Gore, who in 2000 was nearly banished to a featureless realm of nonexistence for promoting his unpopular message. "They called me foolish and laughed at my predictions. Yet even now, the Midwest is flooded, the ice caps are melting, and the cities are rocked with tremors, just as I foretold. Fools! Why didn't they heed me before it was too late?"


"On his new planet, Kal-Al's Earth physiology will react to the radiation of a differently colored sun, causing him to develop abilities far beyond those of mortal men," political analyst Sig Schuster said. "He will be faster than a speeding Prius, stronger than the existing Superfund program, and able to leap mountains of red tape in a single bound. These superpowers will sustain him in his never-ending battle against conservatives, wealthy industrialists, and other environmental supervillains."

Godspeed, Supergore.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Idiocy 101

With your teacher Nancy Peolsi:

With fewer than 20 legislative days before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the entire appropriations process has largely ground to a halt because of the ham-handed fighting that followed Republican attempts to lift the moratorium on offshore oil and gas exploration. And after promising fairness and open debate, Pelosi has resorted to hard-nosed parliamentary devices that effectively bar any chance for Republicans to offer policy alternatives.

“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she says impatiently when questioned. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”

Reading Peolsi-speak has to be the equivalent of hearing Vogon poetry.

This Is A Remedy?

Something is rotten in the state of "Lit Crit":

IT'S NOT SUCH a good time to be a literary scholar.

For generations, the study of literature has been a pillar of liberal education, a prime forum for cultural self-examination, and a favorite major for students seeking deeper understanding of the human experience.

But over the last decade or so, more and more literary scholars have agreed that the field has become moribund, aimless, and increasingly irrelevant to the concerns not only of the "outside world," but also to the world inside the ivory tower. Class enrollments and funding are down, morale is sagging, huge numbers of PhDs can't find jobs, and books languish unpublished or unpurchased because almost no one, not even other literary scholars, wants to read them.

The latest author to take the flagging pulse of the field is Yale's William Deresiewicz. Writing recently in The Nation, he described a discipline suffering "an epochal loss of confidence" and "losing its will to live."

I read this and my initial response was "No duh."

However, I'm not sure the author of this piece, Jonathan Gottschall, really understands why this is happening any better than the unemployable PhDs.

We literary scholars have mostly failed to generate surer and firmer knowledge about the things we study. While most other fields gradually accumulate new and durable understanding about the world, the great minds of literary studies have, over the past few decades, chiefly produced theories and speculation with little relevance to anyone but the scholars themselves. So instead of steadily building a body of solid knowledge about literature, culture, and the human condition, the field wanders in continuous circles, bending with fashions and the pronouncements of its charismatic leaders.

I think there is a clear solution to this problem. Literary studies should become more like the sciences. Literature professors should apply science's research methods, its theories, its statistical tools, and its insistence on hypothesis and proof.

Oh, for chrissakes. What nonsense.

The problem with "Lit Crit" is not that it didn't evolve to resemble the "normal science/scientific revolutions" formula postulated by Thomas Kuhn. The problem is its evolution into a discipline with an appalling lack of standards. The various post-modern solipsisms of "deconstructionism" and "Marxian Literary Criticism" (among others) were not the symptoms of another disease...they were the disease. Anything that moves you further away from your object of inquiry has to result in obfuscation and a pervasive lack of clarity. Sometimes scientific methods move you closer, sometimes they do not. Astrophysicists, for example, use complex mathematical models to stand in for something they have difficulty getting close to, as the universe is rather a big place. The methods of mathematical abstraction are thus a tool to get these scientists closer to their chosen subject.

There simply is no need for such methods when one is dealing with the written word. The important thing is not to analyze an overwhelming mass of undifferentiated writing in order to categorize and systematize it. Novels or poems are interesting because of their existing logic and meaning, which were fashioned by individual intelligences. (you know...people.) The idea that we can reduce the experience of reading to a limited number of archetypal psychological responses mixing with a limited number of learned cultural responses - where any such reductionist scheme would inevitably lead - would be to, once again, miss the point of literature.

The biggest problem English Lit has had over the past couple of decades, is the almost systematical exclusion of people with a genuine love of literature from the ranks of the English Professoriate. In that vein, Gottschall's "solution" seems more like a continuation of the problem in a different form. Its the equivalent of saying, "You know what's better than incurable heart disease? Incurable cancer!"

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Being A Democrat Means Never Having To Admit You Were Wrong

A little bit late to the party...but here it is from the AP: Analysis: US now winning Iraq war that seemed lost

Hmm...would that be the conflict the Democrats told us over and over again, ad nauseam, was un-winnable?

Why, yes it is.

Are these the same Democrats who are now saying the conflict in Afghanistan is also un-winnable?

Why, yes they are.

O.K., anyone believes them for what factual reason exactly?

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Obama Denounces D-Day Landings

From a nearby slightly altered universe:

In a speech today presidential candidate Barack Obama maintained his steadfast disapproval of the D-Day landings of June 6th, 1944, despite the historical evidence of it as a smashing Allied victory over Nazi Germany.

"Even knowing what we know today, I would never commit to Operation Overlord," the Senator explained to a diverse cross section of New York Times reporters and members of NARAL's executive committee. "It should have been obvious from the debacles at Kasserine Pass and the Anzio landings, not to mention the unending quagmire of the Italian campaign as a whole, that simply putting more troops into the European theater was never going to bring the violence to an end."

When asked what his alternative approach would have entailed, Obama responded, "I would have brought the troops home via a 16 month timetable." This was greeted with wild applause. "Peace in our time!" yelled more than one.

At that point an unidentified man in the back of the room pointed out, historically speaking, the entire European war didn't even last a further 12 months after the successful D-Day landings. Obama waived this away by proclaiming the need for, "change! We cannot be bound to the history of dead facts!" Many of the crowd moved towards the unidentified questioner for "further clarification" of his point.

After a short delay for the removal of the corpse, Obama brought the throng to its feet one last time. "This is the reason I have been chosen! This is the reason I am running unopposed for the White House! Because, I would rather lose than admit to being wrong. Facts be damned."

Several NARAL supporters received medical treatment after swooning.

Liberals Are No Friends Of Free Speech

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the left's attempts to silence political speech they don't like on college campuses, but liberals are now using their power to censor newspapers who have the temerity to offer another point of view.


A First For This Website?

I don't think I've ever linked to Drudge before, but he's got the op-ed the New York Times (motto: "All the news fit to print" [sic]) doesn't want you to read.

My favorite bit from it:

Senator Obama has said that he would consult our commanders on the ground and Iraqi leaders, but he did no such thing before releasing his “plan for Iraq.” Perhaps that’s because he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say.

How long before the Times begins to print all the words of the chosen one in red ink?

Friday, July 18, 2008

You Don't Say!

Scientists actually interested in science (rather than socialist political agendas) are beginning to get it:

I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I've been following the global warming debate closely for years.

When I started that job in 1999 the evidence that carbon emissions caused global warming seemed pretty good: CO2 is a greenhouse gas, the old ice core data, no other suspects.

The evidence was not conclusive, but why wait until we were certain when it appeared we needed to act quickly? Soon government and the scientific community were working together and lots of science research jobs were created. We scientists had political support, the ear of government, big budgets, and we felt fairly important and useful (well, I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet.

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"


2. There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None.
[Emphasis added.] There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

Welcome to the party, pal.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Trouble With Socialist Preening In The Art World

Joe Queenan has some choice words for "new" classical music: Admit it, you're as bored as I am

During a radio interview between acts at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a famous singer recently said she could not understand why audiences were so reluctant to listen to new music, given that they were more than ready to attend sporting events whose outcome was uncertain. It was a daft analogy. Having spent most of the last century writing music few people were expected to understand, much less enjoy, the high priests of music were now portrayed as innocent victims of the public's lack of imagination. If they don't know in advance whether Nadal or Federer is going to win, but still love Wimbledon, why don't they enjoy it when an enraged percussionist plays a series of brutal, fragmented chords on his electric marimba? What's wrong with them?

The reason the sports analogy fails is because when Spain plays Germany, everyone knows that the game will be played with one ball, not eight; and that the final score will be 1-0 or 3-2 or even 8-1 - but definitely not 1,600,758 to Arf-Arf the Chalet Ate My Banana. The public may not know in advance what the score will be, but it at least understands the rules of the game.

I have to say that Queenan is almost certainly right here. I grew up in St. Louis when Leonard Slatkin was the director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and Slatkin enjoyed putting a smattering of work by new composers (or at least 20th Century composers) in many of his programs. They ranged from the unmemorable to the truly horrific. This was not because they offended my bourgeois sensibilities (as the preeners would always have it,) but because they offended my sense of beauty and every other standard by which I could discern "good" music.

Of course, these new academic composers are not interested in "good" music. They are interested in force feeding people steaming piles of crapola and brainwashing people into smiling and saying that they like it. This proves they are real "artists", you see, who aren't tied down by "the man" to things like melody and harmony.

What silly nonsense.

Queenan continues:

In March I saw Harrison Birtwistle's new opera, The Minotaur, at Covent Garden. I entered the concert hall with the same excitement I always have: prepared to be blown out of the room. This did not happen. The Minotaur, Frankenstein with a tauromatic twist, is harsh and ugly and monotonous and generically apocalyptic. Birtwistleites might dismiss me as a Luddite who despises new music, but the truth is, I find nothing new in The Minotaur's dreary, brutish score; it's the same funereal caterwauling that bourgeoisie-loathing composers have been churning out since the 1930s. To me, there is little difference between Birtwistle, now in his 70s, and Eric Clapton, now in his 60s. These are old men doing the same music in their dotage that they used to do as kids.

Earlier this year, I attended a concert at Carnegie Hall by the National Symphony under the direction of Leonard Slatkin. Slatkin is a canny, industrious conductor and a champion of American music. His philosophy seems to be that if Americans do not support living composers, American composers will cease to exist - though if the best America can do is John Corigliano and Philip Glass and the dozens of academics who give each other awards for music nobody likes, this might not be such a bad thing. Slatkin's programme consisted of three gimmicky pieces: Liszt's flamboyant Second Piano Concert, Ravel's everything-but-the-kitchen-sink orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition; and an ambitious new work by a young American named Mason Bates. This last piece, entitled Liquid Interface, examined "the phenomenon of water in its variety of forms", something Ravel and Mussorgsky never got around to. It featured wind machines and bongos and an electric drum pad and a laptop and a gigantic orchestra. It was bloated but thoroughly harmless, and the audience responded warmly; nothing thrills a classical music crowd more than a new piece of music that doesn't make them physically ill. But the concert underscored the problem in including new work on the same programme as the old chestnuts: it is not just asking striplings to compete with titans; it is asking obscure, academically trained liquid interfacers to compete with titans at the top of their game. As the saying goes: you don't send a boy to do Franz Liszt's job.

That Queenan can still fork over the money to purchase tickets for such "events" says alot about his dedication to the art form. It also speaks to a reservoir of goodwill I have largely lost. Last fall I saw a program at the Minnesota Orchestra, which contained a modern piece built largely upon percussion instruments. It was by turns dull and grating, and, most gallingly, totally out of character with the rest of the program. [Adding: My wife informs me the piece was "Haunted Landscape" by George Crumb.] It was as if concert goers were required to do "penance" for the sin of liking music that is beautiful. It is an attitude I'm beginning to resent. I don't need to listen to atonal discordant noise...and that isn't what I pay money to hear. To be forced to listen to it so someone can prove what an ideological bad-ass they are just makes it worse.

I once saw a program in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Like a lot of small city orchestras, this program was designed more to suit the sensibilities of the listeners than anything else. It was the furthest thing from "adventurous" you would be liable to find...with one exception. Along with the old classical war horses they also played selections by the composer Raymond Scott, known best for his song "Powerhouse" which was a staple of Warner Brothers cartoons (usually scenes with assembly lines in them.) It was fascinating to hear 20th century music, some of which I knew in a different context, that displayed such energy...and yet was completely devoid of pretension. It wasn't that the music didn't have an ideological dimension ("Powerhouse" obviously does the same way Chaplin's film Modern Times does), but Scott doesn't preen. The subject matter is sociological, not autobiographical. It says "Look at the world we live in," rather than "Am I bugging you?"

It is a shame becuase I would love to hear something both new and beautiful. I certainly will not stand for being told its wrong for me to want both.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

So Long Fourth Estate...

...and don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Patterico has another reason why this might not be a bad thing.

Should We Put Humor On The Endangered Species List?

Jeez Louise: Bernie Mac makes off-color joke at Obama event

Comedian Bernie Mac endured some heckling and a campaign rebuke during a surprise appearance Friday night at a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Toward the end of a 10-minute standup routine at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the 50-year-old star of "The Bernie Mac Show" joked about menopause, sexual infidelity and promiscuity, and used occasional crude language.

"My little nephew came to me and he said, 'Uncle, what's the difference between a hypothetical question and a realistic question?'" Mac said. "I said, I don't know, but I said, 'Go upstairs and ask your mother if she'd make love to the mailman for $50,000.'"

As the joke continued, the punchline evoked an angry response from at least one person in the audience, who said it was offensive to women.

"It's not funny. Let's get Barack on," a man shouted from the crowd, which paid $2,300 each to support the Illinois senator.

Who gives a shit if Mac "offended" anyone? Why does the reporter give a shit if a comedian offends anyone? ("Stop the presses!") Just goes to show these well-heeled Obama supporters are a grim, sexless, joyless lot. They are the modern equivalent of Prohibitionists, who also believed their personal predilections should be made universal.

Oh, that they would just go away.

The Idiocy Of The Left

First Things points this out: If Christianity Is Bad, Then Islam Must Be Good

A friend writes to ask if anyone else has noticed the Spring 2008 issue of the Berlin Journal, which features an article by the NYU history professor David Levering Lewis entitled “Islam and the Making of the First Europe.”

Not many of us get the Berlin Journal, but Lewis is a major figure: a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and past president of the Society of American Historians. And here is what he writes on page 21 about the Battle of Poitiers, where Charles Martel held off the Saracens: “By defining itself in opposition to Islam, Christian Europe made virtues out of hereditary aristocracy, persecutory religious intolerance, cultural particularism, and perpetual war. Instead of being incorporated into a cosmopolitan Muslim regnum unobstructed by borders, devoid of a priestly caste, animated by the dogma of equality of the faithful, and respectful of all religious faiths, proto-Europe evolved on a contradistinctive course.”

It is impossible that he believes all this about Medieval Islam, of course, but it moves in the voice of strong belief—for what he does believe, I’m willing to bet, is that Christian Europe is the source of all evil in world history. And if falsely praising Islam is the price that has to be paid for bashing Christianity, well, so be it.

As usual, the only way to be stupid enough to write anything like what Professor Lewis wrote you need to be an academic. In and of itself that's fine. We have freedom so that worthwhile knowledge can be attained, and part of the price of that freedom is the drivel that cranks, quacks and various other assorted idiots produce in copious amounts.

The trouble today is that the cultural left in this country have lost the ability to critically evaluate just about anything they are already "supposed" to support. Once that is true about a group, they may as well be Stalinists or Nazis, because in the end it will amount to the same thing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

"No One Here But Us Non-Bigots"

Just remember, there is no such thing as anti-Catholic bigotry among the Left:

Paul Zachary Myers, a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, has pledged to desecrate the Eucharist. He is responding to what happened recently at the University of Central Florida when a student walked out of Mass with the Host, holding it hostage for several days. Myers was angry at the Catholic League for criticizing the student. His post can be accessed from his faculty page on the university’s website.

Here is an excerpt of his July 8 post, “It’s a Frackin’ Cracker!”:

“Can anyone out there score me some consecrated communion wafers?” Myers continued by saying, “if any of you would be willing to do what it takes to get me some, or even one, and mail it to me, I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare. I won’t be tempted to hold it hostage (no, not even if I have a choice between returning the Eucharist and watching Bill Donohue kick the pope in the balls, which would apparently be a more humane act than desecrating a goddamned cracker), but will instead treat it with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web.”

Two points:

A) Imagine the reaction had a Prof. made similar statements directed at Islam instead of Catholicism.

B) How could anyone be certain that a person holding such hateful opinions could treat students fairly?

It is becoming clearer that universities in this country have become a haven for tenured bigots.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Do Journalists Really Think They Are All That?

Patterico gets the following comment directed at him from a journalist:

Anyone who thinks even the best bloggers (which would not describe you, I dare say) are any substitute for the salaried hard work, reporting, investigation and experience of newspaper journalists is just a fool. How much of the real news on the internet comes from bloggers? By the way, that’s a rhetorical question. I can’t believe Olney had someone as naive as you on the show.

Of course, Pat is just an assistant DA, so what the hell could he know about anything?

This is one of the reasons Journalism, as an academic endeavor, has such a bad reputation intellectually speaking. Probably only schools of Education are considered more of a joke. Of course, most teachers aren't arrogant pricks after they teachers at least have that going for them.

Who the hell do these newspaper hacks think they are?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Believe Him

Well written headlines can say it all:

Obama denies shifting to reach political center

"I'm still the same Leninist inspired whacked-out leftist I've always been," insisted the visibly upset presidential candidate.

Are We, As A People, Really This Dumb?

I really hate the "cry baby" portion of America...I really do. Case in point: 'Zero' chance lottery tickets stun some players

When Scott Hoover bought a $5 scratch-off ticket in Virginia called "Beginner's Luck" last summer, he carefully studied the odds. Even though he figured his chances of winning were a long shot, he felt the odds were reasonable.

Hoover, a business professor at Washington and Lee University in Virginia, wasn't surprised when his tickets didn't bring him the $75,000 grand prize, but he was shocked to learn the top prize had been awarded before he bought the ticket.

"I felt duped into buying these things," Hoover said.

He discovered the Virginia State Lottery was continuing to sell tickets for games in which the top prizes were no longer available. Public records showed that someone had already won the top prize one month before Hoover played. He is now suing the state of Virginia for breach of contract.

The mind boggles. You really have to be an academic to not understand the concept of "scratch off" lottery games. All you have to do is think about it for 10 seconds to realize even before the top prize has been awarded you can buy tickets that have "no chance." For example, you may never visit the town the tickets is randomly shipped to, or you may never visit the particular store selling the top prize. Therefore, all of the tickets you buy have "no chance" to win the top prize.

Somebody with a PhD in Business needs this explained to them? Really? (There goes Washington & Lee off the list of schools I'd willing send my children.)

Of course I'd feel better if the story also contained a regular person style "voice of sanity" perspective. No such luck.

In New Jersey, tickets for the "$1,000,000 Explosion" scratch-off game were still on sale last week, even though the million-dollar grand prize was already awarded.

Lottery ticket buyers outside a New Jersey convenience store were stunned to hear the news.

"Oh really? I didn't know that," one shopper told CNN. Another added, "That's just not right."

I many generations of imbeciles was enough?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Have fun, and take care out there.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh, Give Me A Break

John Warner is a damn idiot:

An influential Republican senator suggested Thursday that Congress might want to consider reimposing a national speed limit to save gasoline and possibly ease fuel prices.

Sen. John Warner, R-Virginia, asked Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to look into what speed limit would provide optimum gasoline efficiency given current technology. He said he wants to know if the administration might support efforts in Congress to require a lower speed limit.

Warner than hopped into his private jet for a little weekend golfing on the "coast."

Republicans should impeach Warner for being against American liberties. We have enough problems on this front from socialist "Democrats." We don't need socialist "Republicans" too.

Hoisted By Their Own Stupid Petard

"Che Chic" comes back to bite FARC thugs right in the butt.

Yesterday, two white helicopters arrived in a jungle clearing where the hostages were being held. The men in the helicopters looked like guerrillas, Betancourt later said, describing details of the rescue at the military airport.

"Absolutely surreal," she said, noting that some of the men who got off the helicopter wore T-shirts emblazoned with the iconic image of the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. "I thought this was the FARC," she said.

Their hands bound, the hostages were forced aboard the helicopters, wondering where they would be taken next in their long ordeal. But once aboard, Betancourt said, Cesar and another guerrilla were overpowered and the crewmen announced that the passengers were now free. "The chief of the operation said: ’We’re the national army. You’re free,’ " she said. "The helicopter almost fell from the sky because we were jumping up and down, yelling, crying, hugging one another. We couldn’t believe it."

Classic, and very well done by the Colombian military.

(H/T to QandO)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Muslims Need To Grow Up

There is too much garbage like this in the world:

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.


The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert.

These folks need to shut the hell up, really. They can come back and complain when they can find evidence that Jews have complained about the following: