Monthly Archives: April 2009

Naming Convention

It seems the pork industry is not at all pleased with the term “swine flu”. I agree it is hardly a mellifluous name, but their objection is more practical than aesthetic; apparently they are concerned that it is depressing their market, even though you won’t catch the disease from eating pork. Given how poorly informed […]

Politics Makes Estranged Bedfellows

We note that women in Kenya have decided to exert political pressure on a fractious and argumentative coalition government by organizing a nationwide sex strike. The “soft power” of women is often overlooked in the political and strategic calculation of powerful men, but as I have mentioned elsewhere, if properly organized, a Ghandi-style female satyagraha […]

42

An item in the news today inquires as to the secret of a happy marriage. Well, I’ve been happily married since 1982, and have some thoughts on the subject. A married couple are like two moving parts that must operate together, in constant contact, as a working machine. Unlike manufactured parts, however, they are somewhat […]

Specter Takes A Swim

This is rather a big deal: Senator Arlen Specter has crossed the aisle, and is now a Democrat. This leaves the foundering GOP with its decks even more conspicuously awash, and gives the ruling party the 60-seat, unfilibusterable majority they have been struggling to gain. I hope they use it wisely.

Déjà Flu

For those of us “of a certain age”, this swine flu outbreak (which is all over the news just now: see here, here, and here) is something of a madeleine, awakening memories that carry us all the way back to 1976, and the brief and forgettable presidency of Gerald R. Ford. It was a strange […]

Renewed Interest In Self-Interest

According to today’s news, it appears Objectivism’s star is ascending lately, with sales of Ayn Rand’s books up sharply. Readers taking an interest in Randian thought should visit The Maverick Philosopher, where Dr. William Vallicella has for some time now been conducting a searching examination of Rand and her followers. Note also this post over […]

Waka Waka Waka

For those of you who have never clicked on the “why waka waka?” link on our sidebar, this site takes its name not from Pac-Man or Fozzie Bear, but from the lyrics to the song Coffin For Head Of State, by the great Nigerian musician and political activist Fela Kuti. Here’s a clip of the […]

Give Him A Great Big Hand

Today’s conversation piece at CNN is this comical item, in which an Idaho man seeks a pigeon credulous enough to pay U.S currency for an approximately hand-shaped arrangement of rocks. According to the vendor, one Paul Grayhek, what makes this such a desirable item is that it is a calling-card left in his Coeur d’Alene […]

Things Fall Apart

According to this item at CNN, the Pakistani government is reporting that the Taliban have completely withdrawn from their recent conquests in the Buner province near Islamabad. This is absurd, of course, as no advancing army would willingly abandon territory they have won except as a tactical feint, and given that Pakistan has seen fit […]

This Thing Of Darkness

In today’s Times is an article about who should be directing the plays of August Wilson. Apparently Mr. Wilson, whose plays chronicled the lives of black people in America, felt that only black directors should be in charge of productions of his work. We read: In life, the playwright August Wilson had an all-but-official rule: […]

Careful What You Wish For

As a PC user and programmer, I’ve had to listen for many years now to hipper-than-thou Mac users telling me how their favorite machines are simply better. Sure, Macs are beautifully designed, with a pleasing integration of hardware and software. But they are also more expensive, and there is a great deal of software for […]

The Widening Gyre

The situation in Pakistan, which we commented on yesterday, continues to deteriorate, and appears to be creating broader alarm. Today Fareed Zakaria, interviewed by CNN, gave a grim assessment: CNN: Beyond their proximity to the capital, what makes this such a dire situation? Zakaria: Well, I read that the spokesman for the Taliban told The […]

Shades Of Night Descending

It should come as no surprise to any that the Taliban, emboldened by its defeat of the moribund government of Pakistan over control of the valley of Swat, now seeks to seize the initiative in its campaign to impose its totalitarian and sadistic Islamic theocracy upon the entire nation. Last week the architect of the […]

Nobody’s Friend Is Nobody’s Fool

There are those of us who would prefer that our president not seem quite so eager to be pals with absolutely everyone. The spectacle of Mr. Obama schmoozing gaily yesterday with the grotesque Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez — a man who is no friend of our nation or culture, and who has missed no opportunity […]

Exit, Pursued By A Bear

Today, according to this item, is Talk Like Shakespeare Day (i’faith, I had no idea). However, the clay-brained, knotty-pated flirt-gill who composed the headline for the link at CNN’s main page needs some remedial instruction, methinks. The text says, imperatively, “Speaketh Boldly on ‘Talk Like Shakespeare Day’” — but “speaketh” (and the ‘-eth’ suffix generally) […]

Next They’ll Want Health Care

CNN is abuzz with interesting items today. Here’s one: former NASA astronaut Edgar Mitchell is convinced that the US government is covering up the truth about extraterrestrial aliens, and claims that “there really is no doubt we are being visited”. To have a bona-fide NASA astronaut making such assertions certainly lends a little gravitas to […]

The Weight Of Opprobrium

When a political movement seeks to control behavior, an important first step is customarily to stigmatize the practice in question as morally offensive. For example, during the First World War, when criticism of the Wilson administration’s policies was suppressed by harsh restrictions of the press, it was common to hear calls for severe punishment, all […]

Stephen Hawking Hospitalized

We note with alarm that Dr. Stephen Hawking is, apparently, gravely ill, and has been taken to a Cambridge hospital. Dr. Hawking, the extraordinarily gifted mathematician, physicist and cosmologist who holds the same Lucasian Chair of Mathematics previously occupied by such luminaries as Isaac Newton and Charles Babbage, has battled motor neuron disease for decades, […]

Fast Forward

I’ve written a few posts lately about Ray Kurzweil’s notion of an impending technological “Singularity“, a sort of “omega point” at which exponentially accelerating technological trends will converge, with world-changing effect. Now Dr. Kurzweil and several others have founded, at NASA’s Ames Research Center, an institution called the Singularity University (modeled on the International Space […]

Drug-Induced Dementia

When President Obama won election last fall, many of us thought that his victory might lead, at long last, to a re-evaluation of our nation’s endless, obsessive, futile, puritanical and ruinously costly “war on drugs”. Alas, it appears that this insane policy, which perpetuates the enormous black market and resulting drug-cartel violence that have effectively […]

Sky Show

If you enjoy this sort of thing, there will be rather a spiffy celestial display on Wednesday morning. Details here.

Pwned

From today’s New York Times: a remarkable account of a dramatic nighttime encounter between US troops and Taliban fighters. Here.

That And This From Info Diss

For those who like to keep an ear to the ground, Information Dissemination, as always, offers some noteworthy items. First, it’s beginning to look like al-Qaeda may be putting the squeeze on Somali pirates. And big things may be afoot once again in the Caucasus; it looks like Russia is mobilizing.

Radical Cheek

The collapse of secular government in Pakistan continues apace; the jihadist cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, imprisoned for his role in the uprising and siege at the Red Mosque, was freed on Thursday by that nation’s Supreme Court. At CNN we read: Addressing Friday prayers in the battle-scarred mosque, Aziz said he was willing to see […]

Calling A Spade A Topsoil Redistributor

With a hat tip to Norman Geras, here’s a fine essay by Joe Queenan on the “euphemism treadmill” that is now affecting what used to be called the “War On Terror”.

Kēs Off

There appears to be a bit of friction between the US Army and some of its Sikh recruits about whether the soldiers should be allowed to maintain the turban, uncut hair and beard that are emblematic of their faith. This is likely to be cast as a rights issue, but it is of course nothing […]

Fourth Out

For those of you who take an interest in our national pastime: a rare baseball oddity occurred this past Sunday, and our former skipper, Joe Torre, was at the heart of it. Read about it here, and watch the video here.

The Sixth Sense

It’s late, and I have been distracted, as often happens, by a conversation at another website — this time an engaging thread at our friend Deogolwulf’s lair on the subject of consciousness and materialism. So for tonight, here’s a glimpse, from this year’s TED conference, of some very clever engineering.

This Just In

The boffins at the University of California have just alerted us that use of Twitter may imperil our moral faculties. Apparently the problem is that no sooner has the popular messaging service delivered to us a 140-character synopsis of some calamity than another “tweet” comes along, driving the old one from our consciousness before we […]

Ars Schlonga, Vita Brevis

We note with sadness the untimely death, at 56, of adult-film star Marilyn Chambers — who rose, as readers of a certain age will remember, to national celebrity back in 1972 when it was revealed that the star of the movie Behind the Green Door was also the familiar face on the front of the […]

Submission

In case there was any doubt in anyone’s mind about the Taliban’s victory over the Pakistani government in the northwestern valley of Swat, President Zardari today formalized his nation’s abject surrender with a signed document. This means that the imposition of the Taliban’s barbaric totalitarian theocracy, a central feature of which is the sexually perverted […]

Never Quit

The US Navy SEALs have rescued Captain Phillips. He jumped overboard for a second time, and the SEALs (probably, according to my sources, with their “ears on the lifeboat’s hull” and using Drager rebreathers to avoid showing bubbles) shot and killed the pirates in the lifeboat before they could recapture him as they did before. […]

Bücherdämmerung

At work today someone mentioned the Amazon Kindle, and a lively chat ensued. The people I work with are, for the most part, highly intelligent and much younger than I — and they generally, and probably correctly, see printed books as increasingly quaint, and ultimately doomed.

Speciousism

The cult-like animal-rights organization PETA, sparing no exertion in its mission to make a laughingstock of itself, continues fearlessly to explore the remotest frontiers of pop-culture idiocy. Here.

Movers And Shakers

The mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, is something of a contradiction: though a Republican, he is a committed nanny-stater. A little while back he led an initiative to outlaw the serving of trans-fats in Gotham’s restaurants, and he offered praise for Governor Patterson’s ridiculous and insulting “obesity tax” on soda pop. Now he […]

Maersk Line Hijacking: Update

There are new facts emerging in the Maersk Alabama hijacking. Apparently an 18-man guard detail is aboard, as reported here and here. Interested observers may also find this item relevant. And as always, InfoDiss is following the story attentively, here, here, and, with informative background analysis, here.

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense

There is a characteristically penetrating conversation underway over at The Maverick Philosopher on the subject of whether mere thoughts can be morally wrong (Bill Vallicella says yes.) I’m still mulling over the arguments made, and haven’t had time myself to read all of the latest contributions, so am reserving comment for now. Go and have […]

Big Game

Readers have probably heard by now that a US-flagged Maersk ship has been hijacked by Somali pirates. This is surprising, to say the least; it seems odd that a ship of the Maersk line, which provides logistical services to many U.S. government agencies, would be operating in these perilous waters without adequate security, indeed without […]

Make His Day

It’ll be Father’s Day before you know it. Problem is, the old man already has all the neckties he needs — and one “World’s Greatest Dad” coffee-mug is probably enough. But don’t despair: find the perfect gift here.

Cassandra

Gates of Vienna has posted a video of Geert Wilders’ speech to the David Horowitz Freedom Society in Beverly Hills last weekend. Wilders, as you probably know, has been demonized, not only by Islamists, but also by his own government, that of Britain, and well-intentioned but myopic cultural relativists everywhere, for his commitment to the […]

Wrath And Slaughter

I have for many years held the opinion, shared by many, that Winston Churchill was the greatest prose stylist in the modern history of the English language. That opinion was reinforced the other day when, in search of a historical reference, I took down from my bookshelf The Gathering Storm, the first part of Churchill’s […]

In God’s Name

Recently the crumbling government of Pakistan handed over the valley of Swat to the Taliban. For those of you who were unaware of what the consequences of that surrender would be — or who need reminding that there is abroad in this world a perverse and despicable religious ideology, as vile an abomination of the […]

‘A’ For Audacity

We note that a British-owned ship has just been hijacked by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. This bears watching: the British, however much their star may have fallen in the world, do not fool around when it comes to matters naval, do not look kindly upon piracy, and will not have forgotten that it […]

Great Success!

In an important step toward bringing the noble and vitalizing spirit of Juche to faraway worlds, the peaceable space program of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea took a great leap forward today with the launch of a mighty rocket, carrying a glorious payload of prosperity and self-reliance into space. Meanwhile, the running dog lackeys […]

The Blood-Dimmed Tide

There has been yet another sickening homicidal rampage today, this time in an immigration-services center in the decaying city of Binghamton, New York. It seems that horrors of this sort are happening more and more often in recent years. Incidents like this throw fuel on the gun-control debate, with restrictionists arguing that the problem is […]

Strange Attractor

I’m puzzled by something. About three years ago I wrote a brief post that linked to an online essay by computer scientist Jaron Lanier about the shortcomings of collaborative projects like Wikipedia. For some reason, since last November the post has attracted a steady stream of visitors (several an hour), from scattered locations. There are […]

On The Spot

In yet another alarming sign of accelerating environmental deterioration, astronomers have reported that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, one of the outer Solar System’s best-loved natural attractions, is shrinking. “I’m not surprised,” said well-known leaflet-wielding vegan subway pest Persephone Finch, when told of the recent diminution of the iconic gas giant’s most distinctive feature. “This is […]

Bang The Drum Showily

A little while back I confessed my infatuation with Porcupine Tree‘s extraordinary drummer Gavin Harrison, who is, I still think, pretty much the bee’s knees when it comes to tapping the tubs. In that recent post I encouraged readers to go have a look for themselves, and linked to a YouTube clip of one of […]

Coy April Deviltry Is Everywhere

Like, for example, this from Google.