Update

Sorry to have been down so long… this post-operative experience is everything they warned me it would be, and then some. The deep pain, and the meds one has to take to manage it, are so disorienting and exhausting that any sort of serious thinking, reading, or writing are just impossible. (Even typing is affected — I notice that the letters assigned to each hand end up on the page in randomly shuffled order. It’s taken me about fifteen minutes just to type these few sentences correctly.)

Better by next week, I’m told. Thanks all.

“Let The Healing Process Begin”

We hear this expression all the time lately. As a lover of language, I’ve done a little research, and it turns out that in archaic usage it could refer to actual injuries, too, and not just to somebody, somewhere, having said something uncomplimentary. Good to know!

I’m home again, but too exhausted and doped up to do much more than shuffle from bed to bathroom. Back to normal posting before too much longer, I hope.

Update

Knee replaced without incident. In hospital till later this week. Thanks again all.

– MP

Decline And Fall

Thanks all for the well-wishes in comments and emails, folks.

I’ll leave you all on this cheery note.

Service Notice

Back in January of 1996, I had a little mishap down at the kwoon. We had a cocky student who needed taking down a peg, and in the course of doing so I smote him with a jumping double kick — showboating on my part, really, because such things are hardly necessary for effective Hung Gar, but I knew that for this overweening upstart to be kicked twice, low and high, in a single instant would have a gratifyingly demoralizing result.

(For those of you who might be interested, the thing I’m talking about looks like this, and I used to do it very well indeed. I should make clear, however, that unlike the man in the linked video, I would never allow myself to be seen in public in that silky orange getup. It’s simple black cotton at our place, thank you very much.)

Anyway, the technique had its desired effect, but I had whacked my target so hard that when I landed I was rotating slightly to my left. My left foot hit the floor and stuck, and my knee twisted so far that I heard something pop. I had a confident feeling that something very bad had happened, and I was not wrong: I had not only snapped my anterior cruciate ligament, but had also done considerable damage to the meniscus.

I had the thing repaired, but the surgeon told me that in addition to the ACL graft, he’d had to snip out a lot of cartilage. In twenty years or so, he warned me, there was going to be trouble. He was right.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because at six-thirty on Monday morning I’ll be presenting myself at the Hospital for Special Surgery, on East 70th Street (formerly the Hospital for the Ruptured and Crippled, which I think is a far more distinctive name) to have a total knee replacement. I’ll be in hospital for three or four days, and will be liberally medicated with powerful narcotics for some time to come (I have been assured by all that the post-operative experience is chiefly characterized by a great deal of pain). All this chemistry may interfere with my ability to think or write clearly, and of course if I can’t think or write clearly I’d rather not think or write at all. So things may go a bit quiet here for a little while (although I will try to dash off a little post, once I’m able, just to make the case that I have in fact survived the procedure).

I should add that I do indeed expect to pull through; the doctor assures me he’s done this sort of thing before. If I don’t, however, I’m afraid you’ll have to content yourselves with browsing our archives. The stuff’s piled pretty high in there at this point.

Sleeper Cell

Jonah Goldberg wrote an amusing item today about the Hillary Clinton email flap. I’ve had too much on my mind this week to write anything substantial, so for tonight I’ll just pass along an excerpt of Mr. Goldberg’s commentary:

As Bill Clinton said when the harem girls on Jeffrey Epstein’s plane finally announced they were over international waters: “Where to begin?”

One of my favorite movie clichés is the bit where the old pros — and maybe one eager rookie — get together for one last job. I’m thinking of movies like The Magnificent Seven, or The Return of the Magnificent Seven, or the first five minutes of the under-appreciated Extreme Prejudice. The collection of experts at the beginning of The Andromeda Strain is a great variant of the genre and so is the whole “There’s an Animal in Trouble” theme song from the Wonderpets and the first half of The Blues Brothers. But perhaps more apt would be the hunt for, or reuniting of, veteran grifters for a long con, like in The Sting or the Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

Anyway, the ChappaDataQuitIt or E-PotDome story (okay, we’re still looking for a better nickname) reminds me of those kinds of movies. The silent whistle has been blown. The sleepers activated. The old timers have been notified. I like to imagine Lanny Davis right in the middle of a meeting with an African dictator when, suddenly, his assistant hands him a note. All it reads is “Cankles Is Down.” Lanny abruptly terminates the meeting, pushes back a briefcase full of krugerrands, and races to some hellish Third World airport, telling his aide, “Let the Redskins know they’re on their own. The Clintons need me.”

Flash to a canoe on the banks of the bayou. James Carville has just caught a catfish with his bare hands and proceeds to tear apart the wriggling fish, Gollum-like. He eats the entrails first. Then, suddenly, a flare goes off above the tree line. That’s the signal. He throws the bulk of the carcass into the river, where gators churn the water to grab it now that the apex predator has departed. He makes his way to the shoulder of a dirt road where a limousine is waiting to get him to an MSNBC studio as fast as possible. His suit and tie, neatly pressed, are waiting for him along with as many hot towels as he may need to remove the fish viscera.

David Brock slinks out of his leather onesie and races to his command center, bustling with Dorito-dust frosted 20-somethings at computer terminals. “This is a level-one-alpha scenario. Cancel all leave. Turn off all X-boxes . . .”

Sidney Blumenthal, consciously dressed like that French guy in The Matrix, leaves his table-for-one, and heads home to sacrifice some creatures to Baal in preparation.

They’re all coming home.

Save for one. Poor Geraldo Rivera, locked in a reinforced steel cage deep in the bowels of News Corp, is pacing his cell like a vampire’s familiar ordered to return to his master but unable to. The sounds of his howling, can be heard, ever so faintly, in the background during the O’Reilly Factor. Poor Greg Gutfeld has been tasked with keeping him locked up and is using his cattle prod a bit more than necessary . . .

And scene.

The fact that Team Clinton is relying on the old rat squad once again is vastly more significant than most commentators have suggested. Yes, yes, it’s bad politics. A candidate looking to offer a fresh face forward, figuratively speaking, has no choice but to keep his or her own face (John Kerry notwithstanding). But she surely has plenty of options for who she picks to represent her in public. Mrs. Clinton has millions and millions of dollars at her disposal. She has people placed at the highest reaches of the government and the media. There are over 200 people working, formally or informally, for her as policy advisors already. And yet she chooses to get the old band back together instead.

Why? There are many possible answers, but the only plausible one is that a Clinton only trusts Clinton loyalists. This fits everything we know about the Clintons. And it speaks volumes about the thickness of her bubble.

…But it also speaks even louder about what kind of president she would be. If you want to know what Hillary Clinton would be like as president, you’re seeing it right now. There is no other Hillary. This is her.

You can say what you like about Mr. Goldberg, but when he’s feeling his oats he can be a very entertaining observer.

Whoops!

Here’s an interesting item from across the pond:

We were wrong to try to ban racism out of existence, says former equality chief

The modern order (there’s an oxymoron for you!) is all about careless destruction.

The Letter

Republicans in the Senate have sent a letter to Iran’s leadership informing them of the Constitutional limitations of any deal the President may make without the approval of Congress. This is in response to Mr. Obama’s apparent intention to make such a deal as an ‘executive agreement’ that he can conclude without seeking Congress’s consent. (And this, in turn, is due to the fact that he lacks robust support in Congress for his scheme, and so wouldn’t get such consent if he asked for it.)

I’ll go on record as saying that I think this was a needless and needlessly polarizing gesture, unless one makes the (not wholly unpersuasive) argument that more polarization, or indeed anything that hastens the inevitable crisis and final showdown in this fatally fractured nation (of which the current political polarization is only a symptom) is something to be encouraged. Even if you accept that argument, though, it’s silly to think that Iran’s leaders aren’t fully aware of the Constitutional limitations of Mr. Obama’s powers here, or of how deeply divided we are over the deal he’s trying to make. So it’s important to be clear that the letter is nothing more than a public rebuke of the President, and a public airing to the rest of the world of the depth of our internal fissures — an increasingly pugnacious conflict that some have already called, and I think rightly, a cold civil war.

Liberals, of course, consider the Republican epistle a shocking violation of protocol and intranational solidarity, and something closely akin to treason. The corresponding opinion on the Right is that this President, in the service of an ideology that is deeply inimical to the traditional American nation, its people, and its values, has been defying our Constitutional order in every way he can, and should be checked and countered wherever possible. The signatories of this letter also believe, I suppose, that the agreement being pursued by Messrs. Obama and Kerry is almost certain to be a bad one, and so they are doing everything in their power to snuff it out in utero.

The letter, however, accomplishes nothing, and just seems petulant. So I think it was a silly idea.

Scuttlebutt

Rumors are going round that Ayatollah Khamenei’s cancer has now killed him. That would certainly complicate any pending deals, unless there’s a successor and an agreement that have just been waiting in the wings. Hard to see how things could coalesce that fast, or that reliably, though.

Bright Side

Overheard in a checkout line yesterday:

Shopper #1: “Tomorrow night’s Daylight Savings Time.”

Shopper #2: “Yeah. ‘Spring Ahead’, right? So we lose an hour of sleep.”

Shopper #1: “Yeah… but maybe the extra hour of sunlight will help melt all this snow!”

Extremism

People talk about the “second childhood” of old age. What relates the second childhood to the first is high “time preference”; that it cares more about the present than the future.

The edges of our lives are unlike the middle. The child is unaware of its future; the old man has none.

I Love The Smell Of Napalm In The Morning

Well, it seems as if this story about Hillary Clinton’s emails has caused quite a commotion. (As it should.)

From Jim Geraghty’s morning newsletter (my emphasis):

The primary feature of Hillary’s “home-brewed” system was that it could destroy e-mails completely and permanently — no backups or third-party records that you get with Yahoo or Gmail. It would be particularly odd to build a special e-mail system with this “permanent destroy” capability and never use it.

On Greta Van Susteren’s show last night, ABC News political director Rick Klein said he was at a loss to come up with an innocuous explanation for Hillary’s “home-brewed” system. There is no innocuous explanation. The whole point of it was to create an e-mail system that Hillary and her team would control completely, that would be beyond the range of federal record-keeping rules and laws and beyond the range of FOIA requests. If any message seemed embarrassing, politically inconvenient, or incriminating, she could erase it, and rest assured it was gone forever, beyond the reach of any investigator, FOIA request, or subpoena.

Of course, it wasn’t particularly secure from hackers and/or foreign spies. And let’s face it, if you’re the Russians or Chinese — heck, maybe the Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, or other regimes — if you’re not trying to hack into the e-mail systems of American officials, you’re not earning your paycheck.

We don’t know if foreign intelligence services ever cracked the (apparently flawed) code and got to read Hillary’s private e-mails. We do know that we would be fools to assume they hadn’t. This prospect makes a lot of Obama’s first-term foreign policy look a little different in retrospect. Was there any particular time when a foreign power seemed one step ahead of our policies? Did Moscow, Beijing, or other foreign capitals seem to know what we were thinking in our negotiations before we began? Any of our spies get burned, or sources of intelligence dry up? Was Hillary Clinton’s e-mail effectively a leak all along?

(By the way, in the interim, every imaginable White House official should be brought before Congress and asked why it didn’t seem unusual to them that Hillary Clinton never used a state.gov address, ever, at all, in a four-year span. Her use of a private e-mail was not secret within the administration.)

The answers to these questions are above my pay grade and security clearance. But if foreign spies were reading the e-mail of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe, and one that is entirely the fault of Hillary Clinton herself.

No doubt there are those who will rise reflexively to Ms. Clinton’s defense — why, we may even be acquainted with one or more of them — and will see all of this as nothing more than partisan political warfare. And I’m hardly impartial myself: this thoroughly loathsome woman is a political target that I, and many others, would very much like to see reduced to rubble (if not gravel). In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would never again occupy any public office anywhere in the land. (Well, not quite: in a perfect world, she would never have risen to public office, or even the public’s attention, in the first place.) But wherever your sentiments lie, this is, beyond all argument, a beautiful Clintonian trifecta: secrecy, damage control, and a belief that rules are for little people.

I’ve said for some time now that I do not believe this woman will be the next president, or even the next Democratic nominee. I think the odds just got even better; the mood even on the Left seems suddenly to have shifted. (Why is this? Perhaps it’s that, because this issue falls on nobody but Hillary, and doesn’t affect anybody else in the party, influential players on the Left now see a long-awaited chance to scrape off the baggage-laden Clintons in favor of, say, Elizabeth Warren, without any collateral damage to other Democrats.)

Of course, any gloating over here on the Right must be tempered by the fact that, as Mr Geraghty said, “if foreign spies were reading the e-mail of the Secretary of State for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe.” And there can be no doubt that our foreign policy under Ms. Clinton’s stewardship was, indeed, a catastrophe. But as far as the fate of the nation is concerned, even that catastrophe pales in comparison to the appalling prospect of a Hillary Clinton presidency. So on balance I have to see this as a positive development, however cynical that may seem.

Separation Of Powers

Heard on the radio today: “There are three coequal branches of government in the United States: the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and Anthony Kennedy.”

Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu just gave a magnificent, and in my opinion historic, address to Congress on the dangers of the pending deal with Iran. He was interrupted 43 times by thunderous applause.

The shade of Winston Churchill, who was the only other foreign leader to have addressed Congress three times, hovered approvingly over the proceedings. Mr. Netanyahu nodded to him in a remark about how sanctions were supposed to have encouraged Iran to change and moderate its behavior. “Some change!” he said. “Some moderation!

The many points of comparison with Churchill are obvious — above all, the spirit of the man, and the existential crisis his nation and people face. The contrast with the petulant Barack Obama, who by comparison is a moral and intellectual pygmy, was just made excruciatingly obvious to the nation, and to the world. (In fact, John Boehner, recognizing all of this, has made a gift to Mr. Netanyahu of a bust of Churchill — a gesture that has as an important subtext the fact that one of Mr. Obama’s first acts upon entering the Oval Office was to remove the bust of Churchill that had stood there.)

Forgive my rather simplistic effulgence here, but it’s been a long while since a real leader stood at that podium.

Watch the speech here. Read it here.

This And That

I won’t comment on Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress tomorrow, other than to note that President Obama has nothing on his public schedule at 11 a.m., and that the boycott of the address by the Congressional Black Caucus and other Democrats is not something they ought to be particularly proud of. (My own representative, Yvette Clarke, whose Brooklyn district awkwardly includes lots of blacks and lots of Jews, says she is “conflicted”. I wonder why.)

(Related: this.)

I’ve said already that I do not think that Hillary Clinton will win the Presidency in 2016, and that I do not even think she will be the Democratic nominee. Among the reasons I listed recently was “too much baggage”. In today’s news it appears there may be yet another valise for the porter to handle.

In recent days we’ve commented on the FCC’s Internet takeover (see here and here). Here’s a brief item from John Fund that might be of interest. (Trigger warning: right-leaning commentary.)

Here’s something I haven’t had time to get my head round yet: apparently some physicists have published a paper arguing that quantum ‘weirdness’ can be accounted for in a classical model after all. See here, here, and here. (We may end up asking our commenter Henry, who is a physicist, to unpack this for us.)

I’ve been away from the Outer Cape since late January (for business and medical reasons), and just got back late last night. (The drive, which usually takes five hours or so, took nine-and-a-half hours this time, thanks to heavy snow on I-95.) The far end of the Cape, which is usually relatively mild in the winter and doesn’t get a whole lot of snow, has been absolutely buried in the stuff this year, and due to the unusual cold, the bay and harbors and inlets are choked with ice. Here are a few photos taken today:

The tidal flat at Lieutenant Island:

 

The little one-lane bridge on Lieutenant Island Road (passable only at low tide):

 

The path over the dune to Duck Harbor:

 

Chaotic ice at Duck Harbor:

 

The town harbor, low tide:

 

Sufficient Unto The Day Is The Evil Thereof

It’s getting hard to keep up with the engulfment of every aspect of our lives by the government, and of every aspect of government by the Executive branch. Most worrisome of all is the extent to which regulatory control of the nation’s affairs, and the disbursement of the nation’s wealth, have fallen under the supremacy of a vast administrative apparatus, elected by and accountable to nobody. This leviathan, which wields almost unlimited power, is an agglomeration of departments, agencies, and federal corporations with vague and often overlapping mandates. Nobody even knows exactly how many of these agencies there are, and nobody knows even approximately how many regulations they have, in aggregate, imposed upon the ovine American masses. (Because of this no citizen can possibly be sure, as he goes about his business, that he is wholly in compliance with this great regulatory reticulum, but it is almost certain that he is not, and is therefore liable, at some functionary’s whim, to Federal prosecution.) Once created, these administrative agencies are generally immortal, and the cost of their operation tends to rise, automatically, in every budget cycle. The whole thing can best be imagined, in both form and prognosis, as a great, metastatic tumor.

Yesterday this aggressive neoplasm claimed another vital organ, as the Federal Communications Commission seized regulatory control of the Internet. As I described in an earlier post, it did so by adopting a secret 332-page White House plan on a partisan 3-2 vote. The nation, and the peoples’ representatives in Congress, pleaded with the Commission’s chairman at least to make the plan public before the vote was taken, but he would not.

Also from yesterday’s news: the President taunted the timorous GOP, daring them even to try to stop his flamboyantly lawless amnesty plan for illegal aliens — a plan that, it is increasingly obvious, is first and foremost an act of naked racial and cultural aggression against the traditional American nation, and against the supremacy of the Constitution. Today, the Republican Senate leader has compliantly abandoned his only weapon against this usurpation of power, namely a DHS-funding bill that had explicitly withheld money for the President’s amnesty program. The Senate’s new, ‘clean’ bill now goes to the House, where it will meet stiffer resistance.

There is some hope yet on this front: the whole thing may be a ploy to avoid a Senate filibuster. If the House now amends the Senate bill and sends it back to the upper chamber, my understanding is that the amended bill may only require 51 votes to pass. (I may be mistaken about this.) Meanwhile, the House is reportedly now considering a stopgap bill that would fund the DHS for three weeks.

Finally, yesterday I learned that the Treasury Department had gone ahead and handed over about three billion dollars of your money to health insurers, despite having been explicitly denied Congressional authorization to do so. Asked by the House Ways and Means Committee to explain themselves, they refused.

I know: penny-ante stuff. Chump change. But it all adds up. As someone once said, “a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

Soup And Sandwich

An interesting item over the transom this morning from our reader and commenter The Big Henry:

Data Mining Indian Recipes Reveals New Food Pairing Phenomenon

I’d never even heard of this ‘food pairing’ business. It uses chemical analysis to determine which foods have shared ‘flavor components’, and should go well together.

Just A Sleepy Little Town

Here.

Here’s Johnny!

A little while ago we remarked on the government’s disingenuous account of the ‘root causes’ of ‘violent extremism’. Both President Obama and the State Department’s spokespigeon Marie Harf have painstakingly refused to identify Islamic jihad as Islamic jihad, and have tried to persuade us instead that the real problem is a lack of business opportunities.

It would be tempting to jeer at this as mere ignorance or stupidity (and many on the Right have done just that), but that’s obviously wrong: I know lots of ignorant and stupid people, and they have no trouble understanding that Islamic jihad is what it says it is. This is something else altogether.

Anyway, we ourselves were tut-tutted in our comment thread for reacting with such scorn to this populist propaganda. It is ‘trite and obvious’, we were told, that throughout history lack of opportunity has led to radicalization, and so all that stuff Mr. Obama and Ms. Harf were trying so hard to get us to swallow wasn’t the usual multi-culti Kool-Aid, but rather the cooling nectar of sweet reason.

This is hogwash, and everybody knows it. The idea that a lack of Western-style job opportunities is a sufficient explanation for ISIS’s campaign of conquest, rape, beheadings, torture, enslavement, immolation, vandalism, and related horrors is immediately and effortlessly rebutted by the fact that poverty and lack of opportunity are everywhere, and yet throughout the world today it is only Muslims who seem to be drawn to this behavior en masse. If your theory is correct, Ms. Harf, then where are all the mass beheadings by Brazilians, Haitians, Papuans, Eskimos, Gypsies, and Hindus?

It isn’t even true that poverty is correlated with radicalism among Muslims. Examples of well-to-do jihadis abound, but here’s today’s exhibit: the celebrity ISIS noggin-chopper known as ‘Jihad John’, who is, as it turns out, a Kuwaiti software engineer, from an affluent family, who has a C.S. degree from the University of Westminster.

No, I’m afraid the truth is what we all know it to be. The problem here is not the absence of jobs. It is the presence of Islam.

Acronym Of The Day

…is ‘TATO’.

It stands for ‘TATO And TATO Only’.

(hat-tip: D.R.H.)

Q.E.D.

A few weeks back I noted that global warmism was, in many cases, a secular repurposing of the religious impulse, and that its narrative is a near-perfect parallel of the Christian Fall-and-Redemption mythos:

In the beginning, there was only God.

From God arose Man.

Before his Fall, Man lived simply, and in perfect harmony with God. It was a Paradise on Earth.

Then a disaster happened. Man acquired a new kind of Knowledge: knowledge that he did not need, but that conferred upon him enormous temptation. In his unwisdom, and against God’s wishes, Man succumbed. His new Knowledge gave him great power, but at a terrible cost: he had turned his back on God, and his Paradise was lost. In his exile, he would wield his ill-gained power in prideful suffering and woe.

But then came a Messenger, offering the possibility of Redemption: if Man were to renounce his awful Knowledge, and learn once again to surrender himself to the love of God, he would be forgiven, and could find his way back to Paradise. It would not be easy — it would require that he make terrible sacrifices, atone for his many sins, and give up his worldly comforts and much that he had come to love — but if his faith was strong, his Salvation could become a reality, and he could once again live in Paradise, in sweet communion with God.

In order to move from the old religion to the new one, we need only substitute “Nature” for “God” in the passages above.

Today, I learned that Rajendra Pachauri, the director of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has got himself into a spot of trouble, and is stepping down. If that weren’t gratifying enough, he also went out of his way, in his resignation letter, to confirm my memetic diagnosis. He wrote the following:

[T]he protection of planet earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.

Thanks, Raj. Don’t let the door hit ya where the dog shoulda bit ya.

The Thrill Is Gone

Those of us of a “certain age” will note with sorrow the loss of Sam Houston Andrew III, the guitarist and co-founder of the psychedelic-era band Big Brother and the Holding Company. He died last week at 73, of complications following a heart attack.

Like It Is

It’s nice to see Rudy Giuliani standing firm on his remarks about Barack Obama. Mr. Giuliani has obviously reached the point where he is answerable to nobody: he is independently wealthy, and has no voters to appease. The Cathedral’s levers therefore having (for now at least) no point of purchase on him, he is free to speak the truth, and cannot be made to grovel or recant. This has the effect, to paraphrase an occasional commenter here, of making “left-wing heads explode”.

The late British reactionary Jonathan Bowden (PBUH) said this:

No people can survive if it incorporates as a mental substructure an anti-heroic myth about itself.

Rudy Giuliani understands this. And he sees, as anyone not blinded by ideological partisanship or crippled by C.I.V. ought to be able to do at this point, that this ‘anti-heroic myth’ is the chief feature of the modern American Left, and of the man who leads it.

The Truth Will Set You Free

I was out doing errands just now, and stopped in at the local Asian fruit-and-vegetable shop. I had grabbed several things that were three for a dollar, five for a dollar, etc., and the young woman behind the counter quickly summed up the total in her head. I complimented her on her calculating skill. She smiled and said, completely un-selfconsciously: “I’m Chinese — we’re good at math!”

I cannot tell you how how startlingly refreshing this was. How alive! How different from our own sickly self-abnegation!

Same As It Ever Was

Our reader and commenter Whitewall has brought to our attention an excellent article, by the blogger and columnist Daniel Greenfield, on the modern West’s dreamy image of Islam. The gist is this:

Islam never became enlightened. It never stopped being ‘medieval’. Whatever enlightenment it received was imposed on it by European colonialism. It’s a second-hand enlightenment that never went under the skin.

Read the whole thing here.

The Great Game, 2015

From the indefatigable JK: video of a U.S. air-to-ground attack. Here.

- Erratum: I had originally referred this as a “drone team”. Thanks to commenter El Gringo for the correction.

Getting Hot In Here

I understand President Obama said some things today about ‘extremism’. I haven’t read what he said, so I won’t comment for now. I’m sure I’m going to love it.

I did, however, get not one, but two nice little notes from Mr. Obama’s ministry of propaganda today, telling me that it was time to “beat back” “climate change” “deniers”.

One of the emails boasted of Senator Kelly Ayotte’s having recanted her heresy by joining in a Senate vote last month intended to measure the chamber’s ideological purity. It seems, though, that despite her walk to Canossa, OFA still finds her lack of faith disturbing:

It’s not a solution, but she’s no longer denying the science of climate change, and so we’re taking her off our list — but not off our radar.

Their ‘list’? That doesn’t sound good. Better watch what you say, Senator.

I suppose they’ll be training their sensors on the great Freeman Dyson, too. He’s a bad’un, and no mistake.

They certainly seem to have a sense of urgency about this, I have to say. So many voices to silence; so little time!

New From DARPA: Anti-Gravitas

My God, we are ruled by children. If this weren’t bad enough (and it is), we have now put forward a feather-headed teenage girl by the name of Marie Harf as the public face of America’s foreign policy. Yesterday, as noted at Twitchy.com, she explained to Chris Matthews that the real answer to defeating ISIS is not to kill them, but to help its members find jobs.

“If we can help countries work at the root causes of this — what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?” she squeaked.

Weep for your nation, readers.

And when you have dried your eyes: for an adult’s take on ISIS, read this excellent article at The Atlantic.

This Thing All Things Devours

On February 26th, a five-member panel of FCC commissioners will vote on adopting a plan to apply government regulation to various aspects of the operation of the Internet. This will undoubtedly have far-reaching effects — and given the scale of the Federal government, of the Internet, and of the conflicting interests that will be affected, there can also be no doubt that many of the consequences will be adverse, unintended, and costly in ways that the consumer will have to bear, and that the whole thing will be a bonanza for lawyers, lobbyists, and political grifters.

The plan originated in a 332-page recommendation emanated by the White House. The panel consists of three Democrats and two Republicans, which means the proposal will almost certainly be approved. That the scheme is bitterly divisive, however, is made clear by two “fact sheets” released by the FCC: one by Chairman Thomas Wheeler, which sings the plan’s praises (“Protecting the Open Internet“), and another by Commissioner Ajit Pai, which lists its drawbacks (“President Obama’s Plan to Regulate the Internet“). (Read them and see for yourself. They are brief.)

Apparently Chairman Wheeler and his masters have sought to prevent Congressional interference by invoking Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 as justification for extending Federal regulation to the Internet. They have also refused to make the full text of the plan available to the public, or even to Congress.

Regardless of how you may feel about “Net Neutrality”, you should reflect on how this thing is being done: the sovereign arm of the State is to be spread over the untamed vastness of the Internet, based on a 332-page plan that nobody is allowed to see. To circumvent any interference by Congress, it will be done by piggybacking the new regulations on a Federal statute dating back to the Roosevelt administration. The adoption of this plan will grant, to the lumbering Federal leviathan, regulatory control over the fastest-evolving, and arguably the most pervasive, aspect of modern life, and in doing so it will set a crucial precedent for further expansions of government authority. There will be titanic legal battles about the interpretation of the new rules, and the extent of their reach. Great swathes of currently unregulated activity will suddenly be subject to the whims and shifting moods of unelected bureaucrats, and to the intrigues of occult Congressional skulduggery. The thicket of regulations will swiftly become impenetrable, and to ensure compliance, corporations will need to retain the services of entirely new orders of the Washington priesthood. This clerisy will consist of those former agency and Congressional staffers who will have written the new regulations, and will be the only people who actually understand them. As always, they will have taken care to make their rules bewilderingly ramified and opaque, and supervenient upon even deeper layers of administrative and legislative macaronics, in order that no service provider will ever be able to know whether it is obeying the law without consulting these ecclesiastics at ransomous expense. All of this will stifle innovation, and will give a competitive edge to big corporations over smaller, independent players who will no longer be able to muster the cost of compliance. Thousands of entrepreneurial ventures will simply never come into existence. Businesses that do manage to cope with the new regulatory environment will foist their higher costs onto you and me. And all of this is to be brought into effect by a 3-2 majority on a panel of unelected functionaries, accountable to nobody.

In an age of exponentially accelerating technological innovation and disruption, where successful and responsive organizations are increasingly flexible, scalable, nimble, lightweight, and agile (see my friend Salim Ismail’s new book and website devoted to this subject), we are now going to put the sclerotic, nerveless and morbidly obese United States Government in charge of the Internet.

Forward!

Search Me!

Every January or February (depending on when I remember to do it) I present a sampling of the search keyphrases that brought visitors to this site during the previous year. Here’s the 2014 selection.

This year’s winner was the mysterious phrase “lwica lwica”, which occurred 318 times. You may also notice some perennial favorites.

compelling natural force
installerex crunchbase
he’s no fun he fell right over
old winter’s song
claire handscombe has a commitment problem online
fucking of the abu zubai girls
rawls theory on abortion
old winter’s song
moral heat death
ten voiders of islam
holly and diwali
how to create an equal and free society
is walter sear one in the top ten highest iq
epic pigeon
hogswaddled
solioonensius
which chapter in the bible says do not say waka
for posting rubbish waka
dark enlightenment quacks
narcissistic salute
smooth blue surface
codpiece on the runway
bukimi no tani genshō
art schlonga
motor vessel strange attractor
the gropes of wrath
hot chip day and night gurdjieff
what is a consonant in ice cream
where does waka waka take place
every morning i waka up
ویلیام چونگ
slimmer women’s waist is associated with better erectile function in men independent of age
college inn chicken shortbread
suppuration of powers
pale blue green lichen
crassostrea virginica
reality african tribal sex whith asian girl
hillary is a goofy bitch
an infection called waka waka
cast out spirit of poverty
bury the dog deeper
snow in town
tiger head dao
froccoli
rut-roh
long weapon
effeminization
verlyn klinkenborg on don van vliet
explain to me in student language what idols of the tribe is
something to think about ornette
moths of south africa

Let Me Count The Ways

On an end-table next to where I do most of my reading there is a lamp with a ‘three-way’ bulb. Last night one of its filaments burned out, and I found that I had no more of these bulbs in the house.

I’ll go looking for another tomorrow. I know that these ‘three-way’ bulbs were once on a short list of incandescent lamps that our Federal overlords had graciously allowed us still to purchase, but I haven’t bought any in at least a year or two, and things may have changed — as these things relentlessly seem to do, generally without my ever having been consulted.

It will be a pity if these bulbs are now forbidden to us. I’ve always liked ‘three-way’ lamps, even though I suppose they offer no rational advantage over a dimmer; generally, the range of luminance options they offer has always seem to me more than adequate for a table lamp.

The name ‘three-way’, however, is obviously wrong, because these lamps offer not three, but four possible states: off, low, medium, high. And that’s another reason why I’m fond of them: I realized long ago that they offer a splendid tool for explaining the binary number system to children:

The bulb I have to replace has two filaments: one that uses fifty watts and one that uses a hundred. Each has two possible states: off, which we can represent with a 0, and on, which we can represent with a 1. If we put the fifty-watt filament in the ‘ones’ place, and the hundred-watt filament in the ‘twos’ column, then we can represent the four states of the bulb as:

      0 0 – Off.
      0 1 – Fifty watts.
      1 0 – One hundred watts.
      1 1 – One hundred fifty watts.

In binary terms, we’d say that the fifty-watt filament is the ‘lower-order’ bit, and the hundred-watt filament is the ‘higher-order’ bit. The bulb, then, is a four-state binary display.

This also means that it’s easy to tell which filament is burned out (if you should happen to care). If the fifty-watt, low-order filament is the one that still works, then as you turn the switch the bulb will cycle through the pattern off-on-off-on (which, of course, is the sequence of ones and zeroes in the right-hand column of our little table above). If it’s the hundred-watt filament, then the pattern will be off-off-on-on.

I’m sure these lamps are not long for this world — no doubt the environmental clerisy has already determined, in its ‘settled’ way, that there’s a fjord missing its glacier somewhere solely on account of my lingering attachment to this primitive technology — but if they still have these bulbs at the hardware store tomorrow, I’m going to buy as many as I can carry home.

So Much For That

“When you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”
Lord Kelvin

“Yes, and when you can express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”
Jacob Viner

Commonality Of Atoms

In a recent nerf-ball interview with Vox, President Obama gloated at the disintegration of the American nation into a dissociated congeries of human particles.

In his remarks, Mr. Obama said the following thing:

…I’m pretty optimistic, and the reason is because this country just becomes more and more of a hodgepodge of folks… So people are getting more and more comfortable with the diversity of this country, much more sophisticated about both the cultural differences but more importantly, the basic commonality that we have.

Passing over the sly use of the word “sophisticated” (the unpacking of which probably deserves a post of its own), the phrase “basic commonality” is exactly right: as you muddle together more and more people of alien and immiscible cultures, the area of possible overlap — their “commonality” — moves from the complex to the simple, from the sublime to the sensual: in other words, from what is highest in us to what is lowest.

I made this point in some detail in a post from 2013 entitled Culture and Metaculture. An excerpt:

It strikes me here that we need to be clear about the meaning of the word “culture”. The word, properly understood, refers to the ideas and folkways that are characteristic of, and above all shared by, a particular group of people. Indeed it is the sum of these commonalities of culture, as much as anything to do with biological relatedness, that defines “a people”, and binds them together as one people — and that defines nations as something more than mere patches of land enclosed by frontiers.

Culture, then, is what a common people share. Its very essence is its distinctness. The commonalities that have until now formed the essential foundations of culture, throughout history and around the world, are such things as language, religion, moral norms, history, myths and legends, great heroes, music, poetry, literature, cuisine, dress, and rituals of birth, marriage, and death. Above all, there is always a sense of extension in time: a reverent awareness of the shared culture’s unique embedding in history, and of the duty to preserve it for future generations by honoring and propagating its traditions.

By contrast, look at modern American (or more generally, Western) “culture”. Its highest value, its summum bonum, is now the very antithesis of culture itself: not commonality, but “diversity”.

At the heart of this unnatural, Utopian ideology is a fatal paradox: the notion of a single “culture” that is, somehow, all cultures at once. But if culture itself is that which is common to a people — that which is shared — then, given the profusion of incommensurable features that make up the world’s cultures, any hybrid that seeks to combine and assimilate them all can only have as its own core of commonality the vanishingly small area of overlap between them.

It is like a Venn diagram linking an ever-increasing number of sets: as each new human group is added to the collection, the intersection between them — the set of what is common to all, and thus the limit of what can form the shared basis of the new metaculture — becomes smaller and smaller. In the end, as is now plain to see, all that remains are the basest commonalities of our animal nature, grafted onto a few philosophical abstractions about the form of government.

The post goes on to quote a trenchant analysis from Leszek Kolakowski — but rather than re-post it all here, I invite you to go and have a look. See also James Kirkpatrick’s comments, over at VDare.

Never Mind!

Well, whaddya know: after decades of scaremongering about dietary cholesterol, it looks like the U.S. government is about to tell us we don’t need to worry about it after all.

This from the Washington Post:

The nation’s top nutrition advisory panel has decided to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption.

The group’s finding that cholesterol in the diet need no longer be considered a “nutrient of concern” stands in contrast to the committee’s findings five years ago, the last time it convened. During those proceedings, as in previous years, the panel deemed the issue of “excess dietary cholesterol” a public health concern.

The new view on cholesterol in the diet does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.

But the finding, which may offer a measure of relief to breakfast diners who prefer eggs, follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that for a healthy adult cholesterol intake may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease. The greater danger, according to this line of thought, lies in foods heavy with trans fats and saturated fats.

Saturated fats, eh? Now I’m not so sure about that one, either.

You know, it’s almost enough to make a person wonder about some of the other things they’ve been scaring us with. Imagine if it turned out that our politicians don’t even really know, most of the time, what’s a real problem and what isn’t! Boy, that would be awful.

Links

Yet another round of painful periodontal surgery today. I’m too out-of-it to write much, or well. Some links, then:

‣   I’m going to have to get myself some of this, I think.

‣   42 hours of Buckminster Fuller lectures.

‣   The St. Augustine Monster.

‣   Medieval Metallica.

‣   Charles Cooke on Ron Swanson.

‣   Every satellite orbiting Earth.

‣   A long-ago acid trip.

‣   No Big Bang?

‣   World’s simplest electric train.

‣   Heavy-metal drumming.

‣   A familiar toy, if you’re old enough.

‣   An interesting blog.

‣   Rev’m Al vs. the teleprompter. (Weep for your nation.)

‣   Do I hear wedding bells?

‣   The demon refuses to be exorcised.

‣   Ka-boom.

‣   The CEO of Gallup comments on unemployment.

‣   Fun with ants.

‣   Edward Feser contra Singer on why sex is morally important.

Here also are two items that I’d like to say more about:

First, with a hat tip to the indefatigable JK, here’s Charlie Rose interviewing former DIA chief Gen. Mike Flynn. Do watch this if you can.

Second, here’s a response by the head of the FCC to President Obama’s “net-neutrality” intervention (yet another push for consolidation of power and control over every aspect of public life by this relentless autocrat). I think “net neutrality” is a bad idea, and will explain why later.

¡Hola!

Well, we’re back from our little trip to Banderas Bay.

It’s bracing to be back home again in the frigid North. Balmy breezes in February are nice enough in small doses, I suppose, but frankly the whole tropical-paradise thing has a limited and transitory appeal to Ice People like me. If history hasn’t already made the case that such climates have an enervating and soporific effect, I can now add my personal testimony.

I will say this, though: although I have given only the scantest of coverage to pelicans in these pages over the years, I left Mexico with deepened respect for these remarkable animals. Though they may be a little ungainly on land, they are truly magnificent fliers and hunters, and I never tired of watching them skim the water’s surface with the lethal precision of a Tomahawk missile.

I did snap a photo or two, of course. Here’s a cocktail-hour view of the bay from a little waterfront bistro, taken during a lull in a day-long rainstorm:

click to embiggen

 

I seem not to have missed much: some silly flap about the news-reader Brian Williams; a horrible train-wreck (literal, rather than figurative, for once); some sports thing or other; and some typically West-loathing, morally debauched, and historically unlettered remarks by Barack Obama, this time about the Crusades. (That last might be worth a post, I suppose, if I can’t think of something less like shooting fish in a barrel.)

Back to regular posting soon.

Service Notice

Leaving the country for a week. Probably no posts till we get back.

Enlightened Statesmen Will Not Always Be At The Helm

Well, here’s a heartwarming item.

I may be wrong, but I am increasingly confident that Hillary Clinton will never be the President of these United States. She’s too old, too obviously incompetent, too ruthless, too unprincipled, too insincere, and she has too much baggage. Some combination of these things will bring her down, once the fur starts to fly. I hope.

But then again, there’s this.

Land Of The Free

President Obama has proposed that we make community college ‘free’. Leaving aside the obvious, inviolable, but apparently unmentionable truth that no public service is ‘free’ (and passing up as well the opportunity to razz the President for his cockamamie scheme, since ridiculed out of existence, to start taxing college-saving plans to help foot the bill), the question remains: is this something we even want?

Lots of people have been pointing out for a long time now a pernicious symptom of our social decline: the stigmatization of necessary, honest, trade-work and unskilled labor, and of those who do it. Instead we have promoted an absurd and destructive fantasy: that everyone is suited for, would benefit from, and is thus entitled to, higher education.

I call this ‘pernicious’ because it destroys the essential quality of an organic society: the fitting of all members of that society to roles that they may occupy naturally, productively, and in harmony with their individual aptitudes and affinities. The usurpation and disruption of this harmonious process flows from the chief feature of modern liberal pathology: the rejection of all innate human differences in service of a grotesquely artificial ideology of soulless (and insincere) egalitarianism and radical non-discrimination.

By falsely assuming that all people are interchangeable social particles, identical but for the effects of acculturation, the fact that a great many people — at least half — do poorly at academic work, and have no inclination for it, can only be understood as the result of “social injustice”. The remediation of this injustice thereby becomes a moral and political imperative, while public dedication to the Cause becomes a splendid mark of righteousness, both individual and collective.

This has at least two harmful effects. First, it diminishes respect for, and the dignity of, the necessary, non-academic work without which society would collapse in short order. Second, it forces people who might find real purpose and fulfillment in such work into situations where they are almost certain to fail. In this way it destroys both happiness and essential social infrastructure.

John Derbyshire and Megan McArdle have both written good articles about this recently (in fact it was Derb’s article that led me to Ms. McArdle’s).

From the McArdle essay:

If you graduated high school without mastering basic math and reading, and can’t complete the remedial courses offered by your community college, what are the odds that you are going to earn a valuable degree? Why are we so obsessed with pushing that group further into the higher education system, rather than asking if we aren’t putting too much emphasis on getting a degree?

Asking that question usually raises accusations of elitism, of dividing society into the worthy few and the many Morlocks who aren’t good enough for college. I would argue instead that what’s elitist is our current fixation on college. It starts from the supposition that being good at school is some sort of great personal virtue, so that any suggestion that many people aren’t good at school must mean that those people are not equal and valuable members of society. And that supposition is triple-distilled balderdash.

From Derb’s:

Great numbers of citizens, including many intelligent ones, have zero appetite for book-learning. The working-class kids I grew up among in England mostly could not wait to get out of school—to have a job, to earn money, to be independent. The raising of the school leaving age from 15 to 16 was greeted with groans of dismay by millions of youngsters. One lad who missed the bullet told sociologist Eva Bene, quoted in Kynaston’s Modernity Britain, that: “It is not fair; we left at 15, so the others should be able to.”

In today’s far more overeducated U.S.A. there are similar resentments. Three years ago I reviewed In the Basement of the Ivory Tower. The anonymous author had taught evening classes in creative writing at a community college. His students were working people who would much rather have spent their evenings some other way, but who needed a credential in creative writing to advance in their careers, or even to get a starter job.

They have no truck at all with books or any sort of intellectual commerce. They don’t go anywhere where there are books, not even the college library . . . They’re just trying to get to a place where they can make a buck. I find myself viewing the study of literature as one more indignity visited upon the proletariat, like too-frequent traffic stops and shoes with plastic uppers and payday loans.

For these citizens, college is book hell; and as I commented in my review:

The wretched souls being tormented in that hell belong to the most oppressed, persecuted, and disadvantaged segment of our population: the un-bookish. Somehow we have arrived in the 21st century with a ruling class so bereft of imagination they cannot conceive that anyone would wish to be less educated than themselves.

You can read Derb’s piece here, and McArdle’s here.

Adeste Fidelis

In a post written earlier this month, after a conversation about global warming with an intelligent and well-educated friend, I remarked on the similarity between secular environmentalism and religion:

I was struck once again by the clarity with which global-warmism reveals itself as a secular repurposing of the religious impulse — a deep and universal human yearning that, in the corroded cultural aftermath of the Enlightenment’s skeptical acid-bath, has lost a transcendent God as its referent, and now wants very badly something else to plug into.

The mythos, from Genesis to Redemption, has been transplanted almost entirely without alteration:

In the beginning, there was only God.

From God arose Man.

Before his Fall, Man lived simply, and in perfect harmony with God. It was a Paradise on Earth.

Then a disaster happened. Man acquired a new kind of Knowledge: knowledge that he did not need, but that conferred upon him enormous temptation. In his unwisdom, and against God’s wishes, Man succumbed. His new Knowledge gave him great power, but at a terrible cost: he had turned his back on God, and his Paradise was lost. In his exile, he would wield his ill-gained power in prideful suffering and woe.

But then came a Messenger, offering the possibility of Redemption: if Man were to renounce his awful Knowledge, and learn once again to surrender himself to the love of God, he would be forgiven, and could find his way back to Paradise. It would not be easy — it would require that he make terrible sacrifices, atone for his many sins, and give up his worldly comforts and much that he had come to love — but if his faith was strong, his Salvation could become a reality, and he could once again live in Paradise, in sweet communion with God.

In order to move from the old religion to the new one, we need only substitute “Nature” for “God” in the passages above. That the two conceptions are almost perfectly isomorphic, and that both are manifestations of the same underlying impulse, should be plainly evident. But perhaps one must be a heretic oneself to notice it.

Today we have a leaked memo from the EPA, written shortly after the change of administration in 2009. Here’s a revealing excerpt. [Note: The abbreviation ‘EJ’ means ‘environmental justice’. Apparently this tendentious expression, and the pious valor it surely inspires, are common enough within the EPA as to require no explanation.]

For many, environmental protection is about the caribou, polar bears, and sea otters. While our work certainly impacts all of these creatures, it obviously does not reflect our day-to-day work. It is important for us to change this perception, particularly among those who are critically impacted by EJ issues — but are otherwise ‘unchurched.’ (By unchurched, I mean they are not affiliated with a group or effort that would self-identify as EJ or environmentalist.)

‘Unchurched’. The thing speaks for itself.

Lies, Damned Lies, And Sound Effects

For some reason I find this story oddly dispiriting.

Plug

You may recall that my son Nick, a baseball analyst and former college pitcher, launched a wildly popular website last year called PitcherGIFs. In it he presented animated GIFs of every pitcher in the majors throwing every pitch they had, along with Nick’s insightful analysis. The site was taking off like wildfire, until a dispute with MLB shut him down.

Undaunted, Nick has come back with a brand-new site, specifically tailored to “fantasy-league” enthusiasts, in which he will once again be offering his expertise to baseball fans — including a new statistical tool he’s devised for ranking pitchers. He’s launched a Kickstarter for the new site, in order to raise the modest sum he needs to build out his infrastructure.

Have a look here — and if you can spare a small contribution, I’m sure Nick would be very grateful. If you have any friends who are baseball fans, please do let them know!

Rock And Roll, Houthi Coup

As you have no doubt heard, there has been a revolt in Yemen, where Shi’ite rebels known as the Houthis have seized control of the levers of power.

About Yemen, President Obama — who, when it comes to foreign policy and a whole lot more, has been described of late as “King Midas in reverse” — had this to say back in September:

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

As always, up is down, black is white, etc. Meanwhile, this:

The collapse of the U.S.-backed government of Yemen on Thursday has left America’s counter-terrorism campaign “paralyzed”, two U.S. security officials said, dealing a major setback to Washington’s fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a potent wing of the militant network.

To be fair, Yemen is a hopeless basket case, and no imaginable foreign policy will produce anything resembling what we here in the West might think of as “success” (except in the sense, say, that one might “successfully” cauterize the stump of an amputated, gangrenous limb).

With a hat tip to John Derbyshire, here’s policy analyst David Archibald, writing in American Thinker last fall:

What is happening in Yemen is symptomatic of the whole Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region. The population was semi-starved until oil production began in the 1980s, when oil production began and wheat imports rose to feed a population doubling every 25 years. The situation now is that oil exports will cease in the next couple of years, the capital is being besieged by rebel groups and Islamists of various types, and groundwater is close to complete depletion because of kat production.

Saudi Arabia has been ponying up to keep the Yemeni population fed. But a day will arrive when the Saudis will be sick of that, or there will simply be no administration on the Yemeni side to handle the aid. The Saudis are still building a 1,100-mile-long fence to keep the Yemenis out. Completion of the border fence will give the Saudis more options on when to stop feeding the Yemenis. The fate of Yemen is to break up into its constituent tribes and for perhaps 90% of the population to starve. That is more than 20 million people and it is likely to happen in the next few years.

The death of the Saudi King Abdullah last week will probably affect this situation as well, and likely not for the better.

If you’ve been following the Houthi coup, you may be puzzled as to the restraint the rebels have shown since taking over. It all clicks into place, however, once you understand them properly as Iranian proxies, and understand the tactical care that must be taken in service of the broader Shi’ite strategy in the region. Writing at NightWatch, the indispensable John McCreary explains:

The Houthis control the capital, but have been careful to state that they have not taken over the government and will not comment on the situation until after parliament makes a decision. The Houthis consider Hadi the president of the country still.

Few news outlets have reported that one of the major Houthi grievances against the Hadi government is that the draft constitution would establish a federal state in Yemen. The leader of the movement, Abdulmalik al Houthi, insists on a unitary state because federalism promotes the creation and legitimization of regional fiefdoms.

Hadi’s draft constitution would have legitimated regional powerbases, including one or more Sunni states in the south, pro-Saudi tribal states in the east and the Houthis in the north. The political arrangement was rigged to favor the Sunnis under former president Salleh and under Hadi.

The Houthi leaders do not want to be seen as seizing power because that would lead to a Sunni uprising; deny them a share in oil revenues – the oil fields are in Sunni territory– and increase the risk of fragmentation of the state. It also would have large international consequences, especially involving relations with the US, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

All the elements of a government takeover are present in the situation (Group, Gripe, Guns, Plans, Wheels and Opportunity), but the Houthis seem to have a plan that does not require them to govern and deflects Sunni outrage for a while.

The followers of al-Houthi are Zaidis, a branch of Shiism. A Houthi government in Sana’a would represent the third pro-Iranian government in Arab countries. Establishment of another Shiite, pro-Iranian government in the Middle East would be incendiary in Yemen and in most Sunni Arab states.

It would be no surprise to learn that the Iranians counseled the Houthis against a government takeover. Iran stands to become the big winner from developments in Yemen, provided the Houthis can avoid civil war.

Read the rest of Mr. McCreary’s post for further insights into the Saudi succession.

Meta-Meat

Saw this on the supermarket shelf the other day:
 

 
We are now twice removed from reality — not just ersatz pepperoni, but ersatz pepperoni made, in turn, of ersatz turkey. (And to add a frisson of horror: that awful, missing ‘e’.)

But wait: is there such a thing as mock tofu? Nay, the mind recoils from such infinities; this way madness lies.

Degeneracy Pressure

I hope you will forgive me for a series of nested self-quotes in this post.

Back in November, I posted a little item in which I quoted this, from an even earlier post:

The universal acid of radical skepticism having nearly completed its work, all transcendent values have now been dissolved — and if all that once was sacred is now remembered at all, it is only to be mocked and scorned.

I continued:

Nietzsche saw this coming: “the total eclipse of all values” would be inevitable, he knew, once there was no longer anyone to say “thou shalt not”. To borrow another astronomical metaphor: when the fires that sustain a great and luminous star have burned themselves out at last, it collapses under its own dead mass and says goodbye to the universe.

The final stages of this process can move along pretty briskly.

The link in the quoted passage just above will take you to an article, written for New York magazine by one Alexa Tsoulis-Reay, about a man who has a loving sexual relationship with a horse.

Now we have for you another item from the same author, called What It’s Like to Date Your Dad.

Returning to our metaphor above: what prevents a neutron star from collapsing further is something called the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which says that no two particles (in this case, neutrons) can occupy the same quantum state. This has limits, though: simply put, as the neutrons get squeezed harder and harder, the range of energies that they must possess to maintain distinct states increases. (This is referred to as “degeneracy pressure”.) When the mass of the star exceeds 3.2 or so solar masses, however, the energy required to prevent complete collapse reaches relativistic limits, and in an instant the whole thing gives way — because there is simply nothing left that can keep the star from being crushed right out of existence. It becomes a black hole — a gateway to oblivion that draws in anything that approaches it, and from which no light or information can escape.

To put it another way: when you have sufficient mass all seeking the lowest possible state at the same time, eventually there is nothing that can resist.

I do love an apt metaphor, I have to say.

Mind The Flying Pigs

My God, I actually agree with Piers Morgan — on a matter involving guns, no less. His thoughts on American Sniper, here.

I think this might be a good time to visit Hell. Don’t forget your skates.

Yemen On The Brink

Here.

May Cooler Heads Prevail

You’d have had to have been trapped in a snowdrift somewhere not to have heard by now that NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) has announced that 2014 was the warmest year in the history of Planet Earth (likely the whole solar system, if you’re an MSNBC viewer, though I’ll confess I haven’t tuned in since the announcement to make sure). You’d have had to do a little digging, though, to have learnt that if that’s so, it’s only by a statistically insignificant two hundredths of a degree, and not according to the satellite data, or that the director of GISS, Gavin Schmidt, has allowed as how the certainty of that “warmest year” claim is only 38%, or that there has been no statistically significant warming trend for many years, or that every year we remain on the effectively flat plane of the warmish plateau we’ve been on for a long time now means greater and greater divergence from the predictions of the climate models we were assured spelled certain and imminent doom if we didn’t take immediate and drastic action.

As always, my aim here is to make sure that our readers — who are as inquisitive and intelligent a group of independent thinkers as you’ll find anywhere online or off — hear both sides of the story: not just the muezzin‘s call to worship, but also the ghostly voices of the damned. With that in mind, here’s Actual Peer-Reviewed Climate Scientist Who Doesn’t Work For An Oil Company Judith Curry, offering her thoughts on the Warmest Year Ever.

Battered-West Syndrome

Sorry to bang on, post after post, on the same topic, but the Paris attacks continue to reverberate.

Our e-pal and occasional commenter David Duff, with whom we see eye to eye about most things, has posted at his excellent blog an essay by one Qanta Ahmed, a self-described “opinion-maker” who is what Western multiculturalists wish all Muslims could be: calm, intelligent, attractive, atriculate, moderate, politically secular, and given to the view that Muslims of the other kind — the ones, that is, who have in recent decades made most of the civilized world begin privately to reflect upon how very, very much pleasanter a place this world would be if Islam didn’t exist at all — are “no true Scotsmen“.

This sort of thing is absolute catnip to bien-pensant universalists who are starting to feel, as Mort Sahl once put it, “like a Christian Scientist with a toothache” (or, perhaps, like the zoologist who realizes the tranquilizing dart is beginning to wear off before he’s finished trussing the rhinoceros). No doubt Dr. Ahmed’s item will be making the rounds, to show those of us who see in the expansion of Islam into the West a dire existential threat just what the moral high ground looks like.

(I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from the winsome Qanta Ahmed. She seems to be getting her brand off the ground quite nicely, and no doubt she will find an eager audience. Muslims who denounce any aspect of Islam always get our attention: in the words of Dr. Johnson, “you are surprised to find it done at all”.)

To be sure, it’s nice to see Muslims speaking out in this way, and Dr. Ahmed does make some very good points, mostly about Western spinelessness. More power to her! May her sect prevail. As I remarked over at David’s blog, though, one could hardly blame the West for preferring that they settle it amongst themselves, in their own homelands, and get back to us when it’s all sorted out.

I must add: as laudable as Dr. Ahmed’s aims may be, there is no reason for any sensible person to suppose that her faction will prevail; it certainly isn’t a sure enough bet to gamble a civilization on. At this point such protestations begin to feel a bit like:

“Baby, baby, look at me: you know I love you, sugar, only you, and I just can’t live without you — I don’t know what gets into me sometimes — you just made me so doggone mad, that’s all — but I promise I’ll never, ever, ever hit you again. Now come over here and give me a kiss…”

Meanwhile, in an overwhelming projection of “soft power” guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of our allies, Messrs. Obama and Kerry have responded to the latest outbreak of Islamist violence by sending wizened folksinger James Taylor to offer the battered French nation a little good-old-fashioned Sixties-style koombayah. Not exactly Operation Overlord, admittedly — but the old grey mare, she ain’t what she used to be. It’s going to have to do.

More On Our Top Story

Just a few links for tonight, from two thoughtful observers.

First, a couple of items from Bill Vallicella. The first is a meditation on the “No True Scotsman” fallacy; given how much rubbish we’ve been hearing about who is and isn’t a true Muslim lately, it is timely.

In the second item Bill, citing the philosopher of religion John Hick, examines the totalitarian nature of Islam, and its fusion of religious and political authority. He asks whether, in light of this, a case cannot be made that it is exempt from certain Constitutional protections.

Our other source tonight is John Derbyshire. Last week’s Radio Derb, which was devoted almost entirely to the Paris event and its reverberations, was especially good, and so I am going to send you off to read the transcript. (The first weekly Radio Derb podcast of every month is free, at Taki’s Magazine; the other recordings are available, for a very modest fee that is well worth the expense, here.)

Derb agrees, generally, with our commenter David Duff’s opinion that, however bad mass Muslim immigration has been for the West, it can’t be undone:

We’ve let this dreadful thing happen, and I can’t see the slightest possibility of it un-happening. The toothpaste is out of the tube. Or, as the Chinese say: The wood has been made into a boat. It can’t be unmade back into trees.

Having said so, though, he qualifies this gloomy opinion in various small ways. Go and read.

One thing I did notice: John D. and I enjoy serious metaphoric congruency on the question of what constitutes “hate speech”. Here’s me, the day before Derb’s podcast:

I find it wearying to see the world divided into a) those who welcome mass Muslim immigration to the West, and b) ‘Islamophobes’. Where once ‘tolerance’ meant acceptance without endorsement, it seems now that the range of possible orientations toward any group or cause whatsoever has been narrowed to only two: enthusiastic support, or ‘hate’. But one doesn’t have to ‘hate’ Muslims to prefer that they live in their own countries, under their rules and customs, while we live peacefully in our own. I don’t ‘hate’ antelopes, for example, but that doesn’t mean I want them in my house.

And here’s Mr. Derbyshire:

[I]t’s possible to believe that Islam is a fine, enriching, and noble religion in its homelands while not wanting it in my homelands. I don’t want koala bears in my living room, but I do not hate koala bears. I’m actually rather fond of them; but I like my living room the way it is.

Antelopes, koalas. I believe the acronym here is ‘GMTA’.