Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Me too!

One of the very few flaws in Dante's The Divine Comedy.

An outrage, I say. Village Voice lays off the great Nat Hentoff

The Village Voice gives columnist Nat Hentoff his walking papers. Hentoff, the most honest liberal in the Western world, wrote for the Voice since 1958 mostly on civil liberties and often on jazz. We look forward to his book on jazz due next year.
Mr. Hentoff said he learned the news in a phone call with Mr. Ortega on Tuesday morning. “I’m 83 and a half. You’d think they’d have let me go silently,” he said. “Fortunately, I’ve never been more productive.”

Mr. Hentoff plans to continue to write a weekly column for the United Media syndicate and contribute pieces to The Wall Street Journal. His book “At the Jazz Band Ball: 60 Years on the Jazz Scene,” is expected next year.

“With all due immodesty, I think it doesn’t help to lose me because people have told me they read The Voice not only for me, but certainly for me,” he said.
I certainly did. The Voice is now officially fish wrap material.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's Gramsci week!

Putting an overwrought, over-rated Italian theorist in his place, Maggie rules.

However, the best dressing down of the Marxist with marinara sauce will always be ascribed in these corners to Eric Raymond, a real theoretician and anthropologist and...yes a libertarian.
On a different level, in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.

Americans hearing that last one tend to laugh. But the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover. The explicit goal was to erode the confidence of America’s ruling class and create an ideological vacuum to be filled by Marxism-Leninism.
Gramsci was one ugly cafone!

Sitting in the pew, praying for self-control

Tierney, NYT:
"Does this mean that nonbelievers like me should start going to church? Even if you don’t believe in a supernatural god, you could try improving your self-control by at least going along with the rituals of organized religion.

But that probably wouldn’t work either, Dr. McCullough told me, because personality studies have identified a difference between true believers and others who attend services for extrinsic reasons, like wanting to impress people or make social connections. The intrinsically religious people have higher self-control, but the extrinsically religious do not.

So what’s a heathen to do in 2009? Dr. McCullough’s advice is to try replicating some of the religious mechanisms that seem to improve self-control, like private meditation or public involvement with an organization that has strong ideals.

Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness. He suggested that nonbelievers try a secular version of that strategy. "

"We have to stop the existence of parallel societies within our society."

Enough of the self-restraint in the face of tolerance, say the Dutch. A return to normalcy? Perhaps.

He certainly thinks big

Igor Panarin holds nothing back. His grand idea, that the United States will disintegrate, is taken seriously. We think he's a little nutty.

Endless war

On Fourth Day of Gaza Battle, No End in Sight -
In the fourth-floor orthopedic section, a woman in her late 20s asked a militant to let her see Saleh Hajoj, her 32-year-old husband. She was turned away and left the hospital. Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Hajoj was carried out by young men pretending to transfer him to another ward. As he lay on the stretcher, he was shot in the left side of the head.

Mr. Hajoj, like five others killed at the hospital this way in 24 hours, was accused of collaboration with Israel. He had been in the central prison awaiting trial by Hamas judges; when Israel destroyed the prison on Sunday he and the others were transferred to the hospital. But their trials were short-circuited.

A crowd at the hospital showed no mercy after the shooting, which was widely observed. A man in his 30s mocked a woman expressing horror at the scene.

“This horrified you?” he shouted. “A collaborator that caused the death of many innocent and resistance fighters?”

Sobhia Jomaa, a lawyer with the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, said 115 accused collaborators were in the central prison. None had been executed by Hamas since it took office and their cases were monitored closely.

“The prison provided the sole protection to all of them,” she said. “But once it was bombed, many wanted to take revenge.”
Remember Jimmy Carter wants us to talk to Hamas.

Freddie Hubbard, R.I.P.

A great man with the trumpet has passed away. More here. And a delightful clip here:

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The world has gone mad! Yanks pluck Teixeira. Is any player worth $180 million for 8 years?

Is the top ticket at the new Yankee Stadium worth $2,500?

It may be hard to say "De mortuis nil nisi bonum" about Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat

Patrick J. Buchanan: "'De mortuis nil nisi bonum.'" Nixon always paid the price for going after Alger Hiss by the establishment. The same crowd ran cover for JFK and LBJ. And RFK was always, in the mind of the hagiographers, able to live down the loathsome wiretapping of MLK. A fair-minded press is an attribute of a free republic, a partisan press is a cancer on it.

InfoWeek: "Vista is a flop"

"f Microsoft is on schedule with Windows 7, that would leave a gap of about just six months between the end of the XP program in most markets and Windows 7's general availability in early 2010. It's a sign that Microsoft has conceded that Vista is a flop in the key corporate marketplace."
We hope that Windows 7 is much better.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Quote for the day

"Omnia quae secundum naturam sunt, aestimatione digna sunt."

["All things that are according to nature are worthy of esteem."
—Cicero, De Fin., iii. 6.]

Alice! It's Nixon or the highway!

Vintage Gleason for Nixon. "Dick Nixon's time has come."

Just say no to everything but evidence based medicine

The return of Western medicine?
Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine is an incredibly important and eye-opening book. While Singh is a physicist and Ernst a medical doctor, the book is written in a clear and compelling style, avoids technical jargon, and sticks to the facts. In the spirit of the scientific method, the authors scrutinize alternative and complementary cures and the results show that the snake oil is still selling.

dribble, dribble and more dribble: Obama's poet

American Thinker: Obama's Poet
Forget the economic crisis, the continuing terrorist threat, crime, and our nutty judicial system. It is literature in America that is really in trouble.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Interesting! The gods of complexity have failed us

Fooled by Randomness Again!:
Taleb also has another major problem with computers that has nothing to do with their uses and abuses in banking. From Taleb's perspective, computers have made the whole of the modern economy too complex and too efficient. From inventory management systems that ensure that retail outlets hold the optimal amount of inventory (no less and no more) for a given day and location, to the massive options pricing machines that time trades with millisecond precision, the entirety of the computer-driven global economy is like one massive model that was assembled—most of it over the course of the past decade—on the governing assumption that the future would look pretty much like the past. And when that widely shared assumption breaks down, then the system ceases to behave in a predictable way, because it has been too finely tuned to operate under a set of parameters that no longer pertain. (Or so the argument goes.)
Read the whole piece over at Ars Technica

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Introducing John Kass

John Kass, Chicago columnist, raises his profile and introduces us the to snake pit.

Man behind curtain is wizard of Rod, Rahm"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

From 1918, a Statue of Liberty to remember

This amazing photograph from an U.S. Army base was taken in 1918 as men were preparing for World War 1. Titled "The Human Statue of Liberty," the photograph was taken at Camp Dodge in Iowa and used 18,000 men!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Something new to my ears: bell the cat!

Bell the cat, a very interesting term that I came across today.
"Belling the cat" or "to bell the cat" is an English colloquialism that means to suggest or attempt to perform a difficult or impossible task.[1] The phrase comes from the Aesop's Fable The Mice in Council, in which a group of mice declare that the only way to avoid the dangerous cat is to tie a bell around its neck in order to give warning whenever it is near. One mouse then asks who will perform the dangerous task. The moral of the story, as commonly given, is that it is easy to suggest difficult (or impossible) solutions if the individual giving the solution is not the one who has to implement it.
My curiosity was piqued by this comment over at Marginal Revolution discussing the glut in automobiles in the market. One of the big three apparently is not too big to fail. If it were allowed to fail, the market would arrive closer to equilibrium. Governments can't allow one of their own auto manufacturers to fail; but they're quick to point out that there are simply too many auto firms in other places. Hence bell the cat. Aesop was one smart writer!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Going Nico on you

Velvet Underground covered.

Hat tip: ChicagoBoyz

Progress exponentially

Unbelievable, mankind swirling through progress. Or is it progress swirling mankind?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Deepak badly needs an enema

New Age claptrap: Blame America first

A politically incorrect truth

Is the AIDS crisis overblown?

Should we be paying attention to more pressing problems such as malaria in the Third World?
"The global HIV industry is too big and out of control. We have created a monster with too many vested interests and reputations at stake, ... too many relatively well paid HIV staff in affected countries, and too many rock stars with AIDS support as a fashion accessory," he wrote in the British Medical Journal in May.