"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, July 29, 2005

Sex & Gravity

As Christians, we believe that the universe is governed by laws, both physical and moral. There's gravity and inertia, and there's chastity and modesty, to name some useful ones. Foolish folk will suggest that one set of rules may not be violated, while the other set are optional. They are, perhaps, unfamiliar with the Mars Rover, on the one hand, and the teenaged junky hooker, on the other.

Today's secular world, governed by the heavy hand of the Fundamentalist Church of Secular Orthodoxy, would like to pretend that there are no moral questions. But those tedious, trying universal laws keep tripping them up. As a neighbor of ours is fond of observing, this means only that moral questions are instead posed by communicants of the FCSO in the form: "In the absence of gravity, how will two planets interact?"

In the absence of a fundamental law governing the behavior of physical bodies, it's anybody's guess what they might do. There are no "right" answers. One answer seems about as good as another, since we realize very quickly that -- apart from the rules -- there just aren't any valid answers. There aren't any answers that inspire any confidence that they will work. And that is the goal of every question, is it not? To obtain an answer that will work.

This brings us to today's observation. Planned Parenthood, an important arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Secular Orthodoxy, has long been a particular target of our friend Dawn Eden. And today The Dawn Patrol focuses on PP's answer to the following question, ostensibly posed by a teenaged boy on the PP website particularly maintained by that organization to dispense deadly sex advice to our children:

Im 14, im a guy. I thought i was bi, but the other day, i let a guy have sex with me, i didnt like it that much, i told him to stop, but he kept doing it, was that rape?
Here in the real world -- where gravity helps to provide order -- the answer to this question would necessarily address at least the following wrong things implied by this question: homosexuality; unchastity; probable exploitation by a predatory adult.

Planned Parenthood's answer, on the other hand, must be provided in that pretend universe where gravity and inertia are quaint superstitions, unfit concepts for the thoroughly modern. It is a disordered universe, governed by indulgence of the self. Their answer, in the absence of morality, comes down to:
We all have the right to say no to sex — whether we're guys or girls, and whether we're bisexual, gay, lesbian, or straight.
These blind guides strain at the gnat of "choice" and swallow the camels of homosexuality, unchastity and sexual exploitation.

And you thought they killed only the very young. A failure of imagination, my friend; a failure of imagination.

O Brave new world, that has such people in't!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


It was a book. It was a movie. But most of all, it was a phenomenon of modern femininity. The quintessential feminist anthem: Those oppressive Men commit deadly sins, and engage in predictably self-destructive, exploitive, morally reprehensible behavior.

Us too, sister. You go, girl! Up the Revolution!!

And what was more; and what was better – what made it so real, so genuine, so Charlie Rose – was the not-so-incidental fact that (as only cave-resident readers knew not) Terry McMillan was not merely the author of “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” but she had walked that walk, had danced to that tune, and had glowingly buffed up her very own groove with a studly young fella of an age to be her son. And brought him home, to boot.

I am woman. My mystique is no mistake. No second sex for me. At last, a room of my own.

The novel was not complex. Publisher’s Weekly synopsized:

Her "forty-fucking-two-year-old" heroine, divorcee Stella Payne, possesses a luxurious house and pool in northern California, a lucrative job as a security analyst, a BMW and a truck, a personal trainer and an adorable 11-year- old son-but no steady guy. On a whim, Stella decides to vacation in Jamaica, and she narrates the ensuing events in a revved-up voice, naked of punctuation, that alternates between high-voltage energy and erotic languor. Romance comes to Stella under tropical skies-but there's a problem. Gorgeous, seductive Winston, the chef-trainee with whom she enjoys passionate sex (explicitly detailed), is shockingly young: he's not quite 21. Naturally, Stella wonders if he really loves her; endless soul-searching and a few tepid complications occupy the remainder of the narrative. When Stella loses her job, it's no sweat; she has enough savings to maintain her lifestyle. When fate throws two other gorgeous men her way, she immediately decides they are boring and isn't tempted for a minute.
The Washington Post said (5/5/96):
She revels and even gloats at being a woman, revels in being in solitary possession of her mind, her body, her child, her house, her finances, her beauty, her creativity and finally, of her sexy, strapping young dream lover, whom she finds and triumphantly lashes to her side. If this is unserious literature, it is unserious literature of the most serious kind, perhaps even, in its own way, revolutionary.
Indeed, the Post’s reviewer girlishly gushed:
Terry McMillan is the only novelist I have ever read . . . who makes me glad to be a woman.
The New York Times Book Review explained (6/2/96):

. . . [A] guilty-pleasure sex-and-shopping fantasy of the first order, sprinkled with asides on rap music and feminine hygiene and featuring a message as uncomplicated as a glass of fresh-squeezed papaya juice: If aging men can rev their engines with pretty young trophy wives, why can't middle-aged women treat themselves to dreamy, dishy boy toys?
Why not, indeed?

Perhaps because reality has a tactless predisposition eventually to assert itself. That butter-skinned trophy wife, that Ferrari in the bedroom (with Body by [Dr.] Fisher), rather quickly evolves into the narrow-eyed time-server, filing her nails and your bonds against the day of her liberation. Just how long will she defer her pay-day?

And so, apparently, has it turned out not for Stella, but for her creator, Terry McMillan. You could read the story in the WaPo today, but for this purpose it must be agreed that reference to the San Francisco Chronicle is more apt:

In a tale rich in lost love, closeted secrets and acrimonious divorce, it turns out that famed local writer Terry McMillan -- whose celebrated romance and subsequent marriage to a man 23 years her junior became the subject of her fictionized best-seller "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" -- actually got her groove back with a man who now says he's gay.
Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with that. Terry explains further:

In court papers . . . McMillan leaves little doubt that she believes Plummer [her boy toy] was always motivated by money.

"Jonathan has manipulated me from the very beginning in his scheme to come to the United States, become a citizen and get rich through someone else's effort,'' McMillan wrote in one of her filings.

In fact, McMillan says Plummer zeroed in on her precisely because of her celebrity status as an author whose earlier books included "Waiting to Exhale, '' which sold some 4 million copies and was made into a movie.

In an interview, Plummer insisted that he didn't know he was gay when he met McMillan in June 1995 at a Jamaican resort. Nor, he says, did he seize on the author's fame.

No fool she, there had been a little voice:

For her part, McMillan, who was then 42, said she worried when she first met Plummer that he was interested only in her money. "But Jonathan was very charming and made me believe that he was crazy about me,'' she told the court.
A voice ignored, alas:

The two eventually married in Maui on Sept. 8, 1998 -- but not before Plummer signed a prenup that waived his rights to everything should they ever part, including "temporary and permanent spousal support and attorney's fees, '' according to court papers filed by McMillan.

The couple settled in McMillan's $4 million Danville home and, at least according to Plummer, enjoyed a happy life -- until the last few years when the marriage started coming undone.

"He became less attentive, less charming, more distracted and absent from the home,'' McMillan wrote in her declaration.

Plummer said he was spending long hours with a dog-grooming business in Danville that McMillan had set up for him a couple of years ago in apparent anticipation of a split.

Dog grooming. Less attentive. Less charming. More distracted. A story as old as mankind. But what precipitated the revelation? In the age of Oprah and Dr. Phil, you already know. A one-on-one intervention:

McMillan says Plummer confessed to being gay only after she confronted him about all his hours of phone calls to a male friend living in Jamaica. She also says she later learned that Plummer was participating in online gay chat sites.
If only mommy had been wise enough to set up those parental controls, all of this might have been avoided.

But there is an instructive postscript. McMillan appeared last evening near Washington, D.C., to promote a new book. When question and answer time came, she warned the crowd:
"Not nary a question about my marriage, or my divorce, or homosexuality, or I will ig nore you," McMillan instructs, shaking a finger.
Ponder that for a moment. What, precisely, does she mean? That her private life is private? That she is embarrassed?

But mattress gymnastics with her beamish boy was hailed by the New York Times, acclaimed by modern thinkers, and provided a not inconsiderable contribution to an impressive personal fortune. No signs then of modesty.

Has she, perhaps, actually learned something? We may pray that she has.

In the meantime Ms. McMillan may now, we presume, apply for re-grooving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

(Old) Findings in Medicine

The Beeb reports,
New research suggests circumcision could be effective in preventing the spread of HIV among men. The study of more than 3,000 men in South Africa was done by the French agency for Aids and Viral Hepatitis. The data, outlined at a conference in Brazil, shows male circumcision prevented about seven of 10 infections. UN health agencies have cautioned that more trials are necessary before they will recommend this as a method to protect against Aids. Previous studies have suggested that men who are circumcised have a lower rate of HIV infection.
Full story here.

Jews. On the frontiers of medical science since 5,000 B.C.
Who knew?

Home Appliance Repair II

Loyal followers of G&S have clamored for an update on the drama introduced by our post titled "Home Appliance Repair."

When last we looked in on the basement laundry room of the Farmer and his Wife, the washing machine had been partially disassembled (despite the lack of a proper screwdriver), and a replacement "water inlet valve assembly" had been ordered to be rushed to the site from a remote parts depot.

The part duly arrived, and the Farmer’s Wife easily installed it in its appointed place. It fit perfectly, the electrical connections were reestablished, and but a single task remained: attachment of the hose leading OUT of the assembly, by which water (now of appropriate temperature) was to make its way into the washing tub.

Now, the Farmer’s Wife is a clever woman. And certainly more intelligent than her spouse. She is no less dextrous. As relevant to the task at hand, she lacks neither adequate strength nor sufficient eye-hand coordination. What she does lack, however, is experience. And the mysterious workings of THIS device had her stumped:

Having successfully avoided the excitement inherent in any intersection of water and electricity, having eschewed bloody knuckles and torn palms, she had been brought low by this: an auger or screw clamp, so-called because of its mode of operation. Placed around a rubber hose, which has in turn been placed around a fitting, the clamp is made tighter by rotating the screw clockwise. The screw draws the metal strap through the fitting, until the desired level of tightness has been achieved.

But if one has never seen such a thing before, then one might understandably be left helpless, mouth agape. All males are early introduced to this particular device when first they confronted a steaming automobile radiator.

Somehow, the Farmer’s telephonic explanation, "You turn the screw to tighten it" was insufficient.

Eventually, however, by chance, by dint of trial and error, or by application of mechanical first principles, this obstacle was overcome.

And, in the end, so will this one be:

Shuttle Update

Andy Borowitz reports:

In an abrupt change in mission, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced today that the space shuttle Discovery would not be launched as originally planned and that the shuttle astronauts would instead "explore the areas in and around Cape Canaveral, Florida."

To many in the scientific community, the decision to keep the space shuttle on the ground and employ the astronauts to explore Cape Canaveral was regarded as a loss of nerve on the part of the nation's space agency.

But according to NASA spokesman Carlos Lessac, the plan to explore Cape Canaveral had been in the works for months: "We believe that our brave astronauts can tell us much about how Cape Canaveral got here, and in so doing, will offer up some clues as to how the universe itself was created."

"The team of astronauts will spend the next several weeks taking soil samples from various front lawns and back yards in Cape Canaveral, as well as performing scientific tests on the atmosphere and water, Mr. Lessac said.

"We know that Cape Canaveral can support life, but the question is, how?" he said. "This is just one of many mysteries our team of astronauts hopes to probe."

Mr. Lessac added that the decision to explore Cape Canaveral rather than outer space should not be seen as a scaling back of the space agency's ambitions.

"Today, Cape Canaveral," he said. "Tomorrow, Orlando."

Monday, July 25, 2005

We get letters . . . .

In his original preface to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis astutely observed:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
It is healthy to wonder what Lewis would have thought about blogging (he himself had no difficulty with the effects of technology on the media-- Mere Christianity was originally a series of radio talks). How much better to wonder what Uncle Screwtape might have thought.

Might he have warned nephew Wormwood
We can eliminate the danger from many of these "bloggers" from the beginning by focusing them on anything but their faith. Lead him to start a political site, a humor site, a blog about his cat, anything but a site that presents the Enemy's plan. We must keep them on either end of the extreme. The easiest way is to simply keep him away from speaking about Him."
Perhaps so. We have one blogger’s view of what advice might have been given here at Two or Three.

Hat tip to Muley.

p.s. Yes, yes. I am entirely aware that part of Professor Lewis' warning was echoed in The Usual Suspects by no less a philosopher than Kevin Spacey's character "Verbal" Kint: "The greatest trick . . . ."

Sunday, July 24, 2005

The New Day Traders

Losing money in Vegas is always an educational experience. (Those who win, I am now convinced, learn absolutely nothing.) In dropping a modest sum over the course of 48 hours, I learned quite a bit indeed. Most of it came from conversations like this:
So, where you from?
San Francisco. What about you?
Chicago, originally. But I live here now.
Since when?
Oh, about three weeks ago.
There were plenty of them. They came from Boston, Denver, Nashville, London, Cape Town, and Sydney. And they all seem to have arrived in the last six months. These are people, mostly young, who have forsaken any and all rational thought process and instead attempted to make their living playing poker.

Obviously, plenty of rich professional poker players exist - thanks to ESPN, the Travel Channel, Fox Sports Network, and NBC, we know many of them well. Because of the poker boom, there's more money to be made in poker than ever (your correspondent has met with fair success online, but the real fun comes from the sheer illegality of internet poker). So it's no surprise that more people than ever think they can pay the rent doing it.

Sadly, the situation is fairly predictable from an economic standpoint. When "day trading" took off during the tech stock bubble, throngs quit their jobs and flocked to E*Trade where they made hundreds an hour. Now we have these guys, who think they can do it playing cards. When the market shakes out, the most profitable will emerge, and the least profitable will go broke. And that means that the Las Vegas population spike consists largely of Johnny-come-latelys who've come to dump money to each other and the established pros already there.

There's a poker bubble forming, and the ones standing at the end are gonna be the ones who were there in the beginning. I fear for the people I met this weekend, who will have moved to Vegas to lose money, instead of just visiting.

Or maybe I'm wrong, and just really, really bitter.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Just Weird Enough

Posting will be light to non-existent until Monday (nobody surfs on the weekend anyway), so you'll just have to husband your curiosity.

The Farmer will be off to the farm, while his Hired Hand will be off to Vegas. He will, with luck, return with appropriate tales.

As Dr. Thompson has advised: "When you bring an act into this town, you want to bring it heavy. Don't waste any time with cheap shucks and misdemeanors. Go straight for the jugular. Get right into felonies."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Breaking News

The following statement has been released jointly by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean:

"The thoughts and prayers of all Americans are with our friends the British people today. We stand with them – and with all the free people of the world – in condemning these attacks on ordinary Londoners. Today's attacks come just two weeks after nearly identical attacks in the British capital. They show the fragility of peace, and the ease with which those determined to disturb it can succeed."

"At the same time, we cannot help but believe that the current deployment of American and British troops serves as a grave provocation to Muslim insurgents around the world. These attacks show that just as President Bush had no plan to win the peace in Iraq, and is currently unable to quell the uprising there which seeks to throw off the foreign occupation, the British Government has no plan and no vision that includes an effective response to this insurgency."

"Accordingly we call on the Prime Minister to promptly announce a plan which includes a firm timetable for the withdrawal of British forces from London. We are convinced that such an announcement cannot but lead to peace in that great city, and the ultimate withdrawal of the British will go far to signal to the worldwide Muslim community that neither England nor the United States is their enemy. We challenge President Bush to join in our call on all patriotic British subjects to demand this course of Mr. Blair."

"It is clear to us – as it is clear to the world community, and as it should be clear to the Bush administration – that only by acting in such new and bold ways can the people of our countries realize peace in our time."

Two Weeks Later

Four more blasts struck London this morning. Three in the tube and one on a bus, nearly simultaneously. Again. Fortunately, some of the devices malfunctioned, and no chemical or biological agents were used. Police claim everything is under control at the moment. One confirmed casualty; no fatalities.

Christiane Amanpour wonders "if this is something we're going to have to get used to, like the IRA bombings." We'll have to figure out something better than "getting used to" this stuff.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Ann Coulter

We have not heretofore cited or linked to the extremely blonde Ann Coulter, for entirely practical reasons: Ms. Coulter is apparently stalked (in cyberspace and the real world) by energetic wingnuts who are driven to distraction that she could possibly, actually, really have SAID . . . . . [fill in the blank]. Like it or not, it is inescapable that this has something to do with the fact that she's not an overweight, bald, middle-aged man.

[We are reminded of a clear analogy to Grace Slick, further exploration of which is inappropriate for this blog. You know what I'm talking about.]

But in the event Ms. Coulter usually has said it, and she's usually right, and it's usually amusing, and the reactions are even more amusing [when they don't take up my bandwidth].

Today, of course, she discusses the nomination of John Roberts, in a piece entitled "Souter in Roberts Clothing." Regarding the likelihood that the usual suspects might actually LIKE any given nominee, she writes:
The only way a supreme court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial birth one.
As to the importance of the nomination in the culture wars, she reminds us:
As I've said before, if a majority of Americans agreed with liberals on abortion, gay marriage, pornography, criminals' rights, and property rights liberals wouldn't need the Supreme Court to give them everything they want through invented "constitutional" rights invisible to everyone but People For the American Way. It's always good to remind voters that Democrats are the party of abortion, sodomy, and atheism and nothing presents an opportunity to do so like a Supreme Court nomination.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming. [And NO, it's not an accident that comments have been disabled.]

Tora, Tora, Tora!

The sun has hardly risen here in the Center of the Empire, and the attack fleet is already turning its carriers into the wind.

People for the American Way . . .

[We pause to give readers the opportunity to do whatever it is that they do at the mention of PFAW. Personally, I repeat a short prayer originally composed by an 8th Century monk to protect against demonic possession. But enough about me.]

. . . has already faxed out and posted their opposition research packets . . .

[Since the identity of the nominee was in doubt up to the last minute, they obviously had to have spent the last several weeks examining a LOT of trashcans in upper-Northwest Washington and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. And the cost of all those costumes to impersonate mail carriers in order to check out subversive magazine subscriptions? Wow!]

. . . . and, rhetoric aside, there's not much "there" there. There is an understandable focus on abortion, and the "straight" news outlets are already reporting in their usual "by the way" manner that Judge Roberts, when in the Solicitor General's Office, "wrote" or "filed" a brief "calling for the reversal of Roe v. Wade." That is, of course, not true in the sense that PFAW and the rest of the hive hopes it will be understood.

As is pointed out this morning by the fellows over at PowerLine:

Most of it [the PFAW packet] deals with Roberts' tenure as deputy Solicitor General. In that capacity, for example, he wrote a brief that argued that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and should be reversed. There are two problems with these attacks on Roberts' briefs. First, the Solicitor General has a client: the President and his administration. He doesn't just make stuff up, he argues the position that is formulated by the President, the Attorney General and other policy makers.

Thus, in the abortion case just referred to, Rust v. Sullivan, Roberts' brief said:

We continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled . . . [T]he Court’s conclusion[] in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion . . . find[s] no support in the text, structure or history of the Constitution.

The "we" is the first Bush administration, Roberts' client.

We will hear much, much, much more of this in the weeks to come, and will no doubt be treated to various tendentious shorthand references: "the anti-abortion brief," "his opposition to abortion," "his alarming legal philosophy" and the like.

None of it will be true, of course, but since when did that matter in this town?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Honorable John Roberts, Jr.

Not that anyone has anything even slightly resembling in any fashion a single preconception, but Senator Harry Reid, through a spokesman, has indicated that Judge Roberts' first task will be to "demonstrate to the Senate that he has a commitment to core American values of freedom, equality and fairness." The implication being, of course, that not just any old D. C. Circuit Judge, nominated by the President to the Supreme Court, would necessarily be committed to freedom, equality or fairness. Many, in Senator Reid's view, are apparently crypto advocates of slavery, favoritism, and bias.

The shameless hack Harry Reid should be . . . , well . . ., ashamed of himself.

John Roberts, Jr. A.B. (1976), J.D. (1979), Harvard. Law clerk for the Hon. Henry Friendly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1979-1980. Law clerk to Justice William Rehnquist, 1980-1981; special assistant to the Attorney General, 1981-1982; associate counsel to the president, White House Counsel's Office, 1982-1986; Hogan & Hartson, Washington, DC, 1986-1989, 1993-2003 (ultimately in charge their appellate practice); Principal Deputy Solicitor General, 1989-1993.

Judge Roberts was confirmed by the Senate to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on May 8, 2003, and sworn in on June 2 by Chief Justice Rehnquist.

Multiculturalism Run Amok

There are, of course, different immigrants with different goals. There are those who come to be Americans, and there are those who come to be foreigners in America. There are those who come to take sides, and there are those who come to conquer. There are those who bring buffalo mozzarella, or retsina, or curry, and there are those who come bearing lutefisk and hakarl.

Yes. I've said it. I've dissed those damned, murderous Norwegians (including their Icelandic colony).

As explained at the official "Sons of Norway" web site:
Lutefisk (dried cod treated with lye) must surely be the strangest culinary effort credited to the Norwegians, but what a treat when prepared properly. Everyone of course is not a devotee of lutefisk, but those who are defend it vehemently. Others go to the opposite extreme and claim it's a national disgrace. In years past, the homemaker had to go through the complicated task of treating the dry fish with lye, but now, even in America, frozen lutefisk is readily available at selected fish markets and at Scandinavian delicatessens.
But the Norwegian expats in Iceland have done the old country one better. Real men eat hakarl. It's, well, "old" shark. Really old. As in putrefied. Yes, it is. A traditional recipe for this delicacy includes the instruction "When the shark is soft and smells like ammonia, remove from the gravel . . . "

Lutefisk may be ordered online from "Norsland Lefse." And while research reveals no online source for hakarl, you may wish to review this article: "A Visit with Gisli Palsson, Hakarl Maker and Author."

It's time Congress and the President get serious about immigration policy.

Wackford Squeers, Little League Coach

We are trying to persuade our Neighbor (that's him, pictured to the left) to take up co-blogging duties at G&S. He's a fellow who lives just around the next bend in this little stretch of the information country lane and, like the Hired Hand, would provide a somewhat different angle on topics we address from time to time. Reliably old-fashioned, he has little truck with a wide range of new-fangled notions.

The following is his. We retain the original manuscript, which was written in long-hand with a quill I do believe:

My younger children and I are currently watching together "Nicholas Nickleby" (the 9-hour Royal Shakespeare version, which I recommend), in which young boys are treated cruelly at the "school" of Mr. Wackford Squeers. (In particular, the very defective boy "Smike" is singled out for extravagant abuse, and is rescued by Nicholas--but I digress.)

The story is very melodramatic and Dickensian, of course, and watching it I found myself wondering whether it's completely over the top, so that such cruelty couldn't ever really happen.

This is obviously a failure of imagination on my part. Such cruelty could happen, and does:

(AP) — A youth baseball coach paid one of his players to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so the boy wouldn't be able to play in a game, state police said Friday.

Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, offered one of his players $25 to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn't want the boy to play in the T-ball game because of his disability.

The solicited player hit the boy in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and the disabled boy didn't play, police said....

"The coach was very competitive. He wanted to win," [state police Trooper Thomas B.] Broadwater said....
Ours is a fallen race; and, sadly, each of us and each of our neighbors has a nascent Wackford Squeers inside, ready to be cultivated and let loose. Cruelty is never very far away from us.

Hat Tip: Midwest Conservative Journal

Be ye as wise as doves, and as harmless as serpents . . .

Are you quite certain that what passes for reality is not in fact a mass non-consensual illusion imposed upon us by some cosmic hoaxter? PETA mounts a campaign to educate the public respecting the complex and rich intellectual life of poultry. The NYT is nearly apoplectic at the crimes of Karl Rove, while its lawyers insist in court that no crime has been committed.

There used to be a real world out there:

Cats eat birds. Pride goeth before a fall. So does stupidity. Better not stick your shotgun down a hole. A skunk in love is as bad as a Frenchman. The race is not always to the swift. Perseverance does not always pay off. A fist is sometimes better than reason. If you step off a cliff, you will not fall until you look down. Males and females are males and females. If Leopold Stokowski shows up at your recital, better check his conductor's license.
In case you don’t recognize that real world, it’s the world of Chuck Jones, creator of Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin Martian, and Pepe le Pew. A world-class animator, he was fond of recalling that when told that Jones "drew Bugs Bunny," one little girl denied the claim, and explained, "He doesn’t draw Bugs Bunny. He draws pictures of Bugs Bunny." And so he did.

Where is Chuck Jones' heir today? Or the successor to his partners in crime, Tex Avery, Friz Freleng, Jay Ward, Bob Clampett, Robert McKimson, Walter Lantz? As noted yesterday by an editor of Touchstone Magazine, contrasting the work of these giants with the thin, politically correct pap he had observed on a recent trip to Canada ("that bridge between the follies of the United States and the follies of Europe"):
Too violent, they said about Jones's cartoons; as if children could not tell the difference between a barnyard chicken with a boomerang and a thug down the street, and as if wickedness would just melt away under the warmth of niceness. But a quiet and velvety corruption can kill. In this same Canada, a homosexual kindergarten teacher is suing for the right to use books to promote same-sex "marriage" in his classroom; and the Canadian Supreme Court, combining a lust for power with absolute doltishness, ruled that the school district's decision to forbid the books was unconstitutional -- because some of the opponents expressed themselves in, O horror! religious language. And another homosexual teacher is pushing to require the inclusion of "Queer Studies" in the curricula of every school in British Columbia, including even private and religious schools. Of course such wisdom shows up every day in the United States, too.
The whole piece, "Of Course You Know This Means WAR!" is HERE.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Home Appliance Repair

As our increasingly disposable society races into the future, more and more of our labor-saving devices edge closer to complete disposability. Automobiles are now not so much repaired, as have this or that sub-assembly or circuit-board replaced. And even major home appliances teeter on the economic edge: when a new washing machine can be had for $300, what is one to do when the Maytag Repair Man says that it will cost $100 for him to appear at your front door (more if he actually DOES anything)?

We discovered last Friday that the washing machine didn’t work: no cold water. Thus, cold water washing didn’t happen at all, while warm water washing was transformed into hot water washing, with alarming results.

Now, to tell the truth, The Farmer has recently been on something of a tear regarding the sexist allocation of ordinary household and family tasks. There is a list maintained somewhere or other that apparently keeps track of jobs that husbands must do, because wives don’t do them: mow the lawn, take out the garbage, talk to the mechanic, clean out the drain, unclog the toilet. You get the idea. Then there’s the list of things that wives must do, because husbands don’t do them: bear children. That’s the only one I’m familiar with, and, however fundamental, it’s really only relevant for a limited span.

Home appliance repair is clearly a task assigned to husbands.

I shouldered my duty with as much good humor as I could muster (that is, none) and confirmed that the spigot was turned on, the hose wasn’t blocked or kinked, and that the filter screens weren’t clogged. Nope. None of the above. Time to bite the bullet, and call the repairman.

This news was delivered to the Farmer’s Wife with all the condescension and fatuous certainty that only a half-century of testosterone poisoning is known to produce. And, in order that a positively razor-sharp point be put on it, was tossed over my shoulder as I departed the house on a multi-hour series of manly tasks. I am an important fellow, and have important things to do.

I returned home several hours later to find this sitting on the kitchen counter:

As the icy fingers of realization gripped my heart, I summoned every ounce of command voice and inquired "What the heck is that?"

I knew exactly what it was . . . .

"That’s the water inlet valve assembly," the Farmer’s Wife responded sweetly, "one of the solenoids is jammed or frozen. The parts outlet is closed until Monday, but I can order it over the Internet, and they’ll send it out right away."

"Uhh . . . , well . . . , that’s just great," I bravely retorted.

"It would have been easier if we had a proper set of screwdrivers," she added.


Why didn't I think of this: A Hamburger Today

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What, Me Worry?

Did I hear someone say that we've NEVER given an approving link to the NYT? Can it be true? Well let it never be said again. Run on over, do that trick with the gasoline-soaked rag under your nose that they do on CSI, and take a look at John Tierney's "Where's the Newt?"
"At first it looked like an outrageous crime harming innocent victims: a brave whistle-blower was smeared by a vicious White House politico who committed a felony by exposing the whistle-blower's wife as an undercover officer, endangering her and her contacts in the field."
And now?

"For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it."
He concludes: "What do you call a scandal that's not scandalous? Nadagate."

And I do believe, if you'd like to clear your palate, that you might wish to revisited Mark Steyn's column of almost exactly one year ago (July 18, 2004): "
Here lies Joe Wilson."

Senator John F. Kerry (D. Mass.)

October 9, 2002 (at S10171): "With respect to Saddam Hussein and the threat he presents, we must ask ourselves a simple question: Why? Why is Saddam Hussein pursuing weapons that most nations have agreed to limit or give up? Why is Saddam Hussein guilty of breaking his own cease-fire agreement with the international community? Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try, and responsible nations that have them attempt to limit their potential for disaster? Why did Saddam Hussein threaten and provoke? Why does he develop missiles that exceed allowable limits? Why did Saddam Hussein lie and deceive the inspection teams previously? Why did Saddam Hussein not account for all of the weapons of mass destruction which UNSCOM identified? Why is he seeking to develop unmanned airborne vehicles for delivery of biological agents?"

Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D. Mass.)

September 27, 2002: "We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."

Friday, July 15, 2005

Of Dumbledore and Gandalf

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will be released tonight at midnight (of course). And Pope Benedict, it appears, is not a Harry Potter fan.

And what of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, or C.S. Lewis’ "
Space Trilogy" (Perelandra, Out of the Silent Planet and That Hideous Strength)?

Tolkien was an unassailably orthodox Roman Catholic, and famously brought his good friend Lewis to Christ (although not necessarily to Catholicism). Lewis was among the greatest – and certainly the most popular – Christian apologists of the Twentieth Century. On that matrix where one graphs "authors by Christian orthodoxy" on one axis against "authors by popularity," on the other, Tolkien and Lewis represent wild outliers.

We read both LOTR and the Space Trilogy to our children and recommend them to all. Both works describe worlds different from ours. Both invoke magic (either explicitly or instead unfamiliar and supernatural forces indistinguishable from magic) and describe its use for evil as well as good purposes. Neither work is explicitly Christian. Both could be said to describe a polytheistic universe, with but a fig leaf of a superior, ultimate God off in the distance somewhere (do not confuse LOTR itself with Tolkein's other writings that make even that more explicit).

But now we learn Pope Benedict (when still a cardinal) has criticized Harry Potter, including the complaint that the books "distort Christianity." [Benedict has not exactly condemned the book. If you'd like to see exactly what he did, look
HERE, recognizing that you are visiting a site with both a point of view and a sufficiency of attitude.]

I have read LOTR (and much else by Tolkien), I have read Perelandra, et al. (and much else by Professor Lewis), and I have read all 5 Harry Potter books (Amazon promises that my copy of The Half-Blood Prince will arrive tomorrow.)

As literature, of course, Harry Potter isn't, while the others are. If what J. K. Rowling does is writing (and it surely is, and is better than much else that passes for writing these days), then what Tolkien and Lewis did is something else again, despite the fact that all three are limited to English, which in turn is limited to 26 letters. (There was a time when I played golf rather well. What Tiger Woods does is another thing, even though our clubs and shoes may be identical.) To say they are better than she would be to crush that word under an impossible burden.

But substantively, morally, and theologically, I really can't tease out enough differences (in the books themselves, not necessarily in their authors) to get particularly excited.

In the fiction of Tolkien, of Lewis, and of Ms. Rowling, we find characters who exhibit prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, and charity, as well as characters who do not. And there is no doubt as to whose side we (and the authors) are on. These virtues are seldom exemplified perfectly, nor do they prevail in every contest, but they win out in the end, however costly victory may be to Frodo, to Ransom, or to Harry.

To reject books that traffic in the supernatural (except the orthodox Christian supernatural) is a coherent position. But to give Lord of the Rings & Perelandra as Christmas gifts, while tossing Harry Potter on the pyre, seems to me imprudent and unjust.

Call Off the Dogs

Silence in court, and all attention lend. Behold your Judge! In due submission bend!

Soooo, we were kind of off base with the Rehny rumor mill. What can we say? Billy Boy loves the spotlight. He got out of the hospital yesterday, and promptly told people he's staying. Said the Chief, "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement." Fine then.

All our best to the Judge.

WaPo story here, NYT story here, and even RedState.org has sheepishly conceded the fact that he's staying. PowerLine analysis here. The Irish, however, were too drunk when they got the memo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Silence in Court! Silence in Court!

According to the Associated Press via Wonkette, Chief Justice Rehnquist was hospitalized overnight on Tuesday for a fever, and reports say he remains in the hospital. The AP story also notes:

The confirmation of the hospitalization followed unusual comings and goings at Rehnquist's suburban Virginia town home. A court police officer made several trips to the house, leaving each time with various personal items. First the officer carried out Rehnquist's distinctive cane and a shirt. Later, he brought out shoes and pants.

Unconfirmed sources say the Chief told the court officer the following story in order to aide him in retrieving the items:
When I, good friends, was called to the bar,
I'd an appetite fresh and hearty.
But I was, as many young barristers are,
An impecunious party.

I'd a swallow-tail coat of a beautiful blue --
And a brief which I bought of a booby --
A couple of shirts, and a collar or two,
And a ring that looked like a ruby!
Others say Rehnquist is planning on holding out until the very end:
Though all my law be fudge,
Yet I'll never, never budge,
But I'll live and die a Judge!
(And a good judge, too!)

Thanks to our friends at Boise State for their help in quoting the sources.

[UPDATE (7 pm EDT): forgot to include the Rehny Watch blog. H/T Wonkette, again. She's puuuurty.]

And speaking of feuds . . . .

We have considered picking a fight with the predictable and foolish Juan Cole, but the barrel is so damned stuffed with fish that there's no point. See, for example, Martin Kramer's "Making Cole-slaw of History," or Across the Bay's "London Bombers." And, of course, for historical perspective, there's always the normally soft-spoken Roger Simon's "Is Juan Cole a Right-Wing Plot?"

[Ed. -- Don't you think we have an obligation to note that this is NOT a picture of Professor Cole? What if he sees it and is annoyed with us? What if Ward Churchill sees it and takes exception to the implied comparison?]

We intend to suggest no connection whatever between Professors Cole and Churchill. Readers are encouraged to review the academic works of both distinguished scholars, and draw their own conclusions.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Daniel Gross Is An Idiot (Part Two In A Series)

The Gawker Empire (the mothership, as well as loved-or-hated Wonkette) has their much-publicized obsession with Drudge. And the guys at Kos hate pretty much everybody. So we asked ourselves, why can't a small-time operation like ours develop a largely-imaginary rivalry with another online outlet? While searching for a suitable target, Daniel Gross landed in our lap.

We read Gross's column, Moneybox, on Slate regularly. It's alright - mainly we admire it for attempting to deliver real economic analysis to liberals, who tend to be largely ignorant on the subject. (Your author, a liberal economist, is a rare breed indeed.) Moneybox's author, on the other hand, has been particularly idiotic of late. When he insisted the housing bubble was a good thing for the economy, his profound shortsightedness nearly gave us the vapors in the wake of our own sound review of the matter.

So when Gross suggested this afternoon that the current "savings glut" among U.S. corporations was a problem SO BIG it was the root of global trade imbalances, we were intrigued but ultimately reassured of our evaluation of the guy as an idiot. Gross writes,
...[M]aybe the real problem isn't the frugal Chinese. Maybe it's frugal CEOs. It now appears that there is another savings glut right here in the U.S.A. In the past several years, instead of spending cash on hiring, new machinery, R&D, or dividends, CEOs have just been sitting on it.
I'm sorry? What problem? They're sitting on cash because they absolutely, positively need to. Nobody knows what's going on. People can't find a good way to invest their money. Our economy has been and is currently in a period of fundamental change. Say it however you want to say it. That "excessive" saving by foreign governments and investors? It's real, and it's probably what's been propping up Gross' precious housing bubble by tamping down interest rates.

CEOs are sitting on cash because they're confused, and not least because they got their asses handed to them, correctly, for doing wildly inappropriate things with their cash. Gross seems to think that any economic situation can be dramatically improved by spending more money. He's kind of like a Keynesian on crack. Money will (hopefully) get spent when the dust settles and we figure out where it can be counted on to stimulate real growth. People who believe and act otherwise sure will be entertaining to watch in the coming years, though.

Which is why we'll keep reading, Daniel.

Just Asking

While there may well be strange things done in the midnight sun, there appear to be truly grotesque things afoot out on the prairie.

Both Lone Prairie Blog and Dakota Pundit are asking why two fellows who purportedly knew convicted child-molester Joseph Duncan only slightly would nonetheless give him $6,500 and $15,000. The second gesture bailed Duncan out of jail, where he had been held on charges he had molested two Minnesota boys. Duncan is now being charged with the murders of Shasta and Dylan Groene, and is suspected of murdering their family in rural Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Why, indeed?

But we actually know, don't we? Yes we do.

[UPDATE] According to Mossback, Mr. Duncan published a blog. Mossback HERE, what is said to be Duncan's blog HERE.

Today in America

There was the fried chicken head in the box of chicken wings; there was the human finger in the ice cream. And then there was the emotional tale of the grandmother who, in the process of making that kid-favorite lunch, the peanut butter sandwich, discovered a mouse at the bottom of the jar. Dead, by all accounts.

A story quintessentially American, with the (white-haired?) Grandmother, the (tow-headed?) grandson, the (name-brand?) peanut butter and, of course, a middle-American venue: St. Charles, Missouri. Yes, THIS STORY could not but raise the hackles (if not the lunch) of any modern consumer:

Patt Holt said she was making a peanut butter sandwich for her grandson when she scooped up something that was small, furry — and definitely should not have been there — a dead mouse.

"I reached the spoon into the bottom to get a nice big glop and pulled up that," Holt said pointing to a peanut butter covered lump.

That wasn't all. In the bottom of the jar, Holt said she could see what looked like fur and small bones.

"I looked at it for a second and I was like that that looks like it's a mouse," said Brian Iverson, one of the first people Holt showed her discovery.

"It was gray and furry and it looked like it had a little eye socket on it and just little feet kind of sticking up," said Holt's friend Jeanne Rogers.

She was shocked, outraged, and concerned:

“I had been feeding my little grandson and myself peanut butter right down to within that far of the mouse." She said.

The family said they've been a little nauseous, but had no other effects.

Still Patt Holt said she will never open another jar without looking in the bottom first. "We have to trust that the tomato soup and cottage cheese and everything that we eat is fine. And I trusted that this was fine, and it wasn't."

But even in the original report, the more cynical, the more cautious, the more suspicious of us might have perceived the seeds of another storyline:

Holt had professional pictures taken, contacted a lawyer and called the Food and Drug Administration. They had a representative come last week.

"He said that's definitely something that shouldn't be in your peanut butter," Holt said. "He said it could be a mouse. It could even be a bird."

Ah, yes, indeed, the spoor of the 21st Century American: Lawyers, professional photography, a Government agency to back her up (second hand, one notes), not to mention instantaneous marshaling of friendly witnesses (the sort of folks who certainly hang around my kitchen day in and day out).

And a defendant with deep pockets.

With luck, Grandma might never have to work again.

But, alas, while there was something in the peanut butter, it was no mouse, and it hadn’t been put there by anyone with ready cash, as we learn HERE:

J.M. Smucker, the parent company of Jif wanted to have it tested in a lab. Soon after, the lab results came back. They found the object in the peanut butter wasn't animal. It wasn't vegetable. It was fruit: Specifically an apple.

David Herman is Senior Counsel for the Food Products Association, the company hired by Smucker to conduct the tests. He says, "We're looking at pieces of apple, apple skin, a stem, and two seeds we found."

The Food Product Association received the object in the mail, did a visual inspection, then looked at it under a microscope. They determined that there were no bones, just a stem. And there was no fur, just mold. Beyond that, they believe someone put that apple in the jar.

Herman says, "There wasn't much peanut butter on the apple, and that's why we were able to determine that those pieces of apple were introduced after that jar was opened."

The lab suggests the apple pieces were in the jar for some time, judging by the mold growth.

And what of Gramma Holt?

She's been advised by her lawyer not to comment.

Of course.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Justice O'Connor & The Polis

"It is wrong, I think, to say that every little issue in our common life has been politicized. The fact is, every little issue has been removed from the legitimate realm of the community, the polis, and has been elevated to the status of something to be decided from on high. This withering of a common, local civic life has been going on for quite some time, but the Supreme Court has assisted in the destruction, and Justice O'Connor has played a large role in that assistance. The Court seems to be animated by a fear of the political: a fear that people will be arguing somewhere, their tempers hot, and coming to conclusions that some among them may abhor. So the Court steps in to help."

This short piece, from Touchstone Magazine, concludes:
Someday, when people feel again that hunger for freedom and not childish license, and when they learn once more that reasoned argument is not the same as the mercurial dallying with minutiae; and when they see that the most important province of the political does not even rise to the level of a law, but concerns the customs and celebrations and mutual expectations of a community, a polis; in that day of politics and not tyrannics, we will have a lot to answer for. History will be severe with Justice O'Connor.

Your Mother was RIGHT! Watch out for the peaches . . .

Your mother warned you to wear clean underwear, lest (in the event of an accident) the paramedics might think poorly of you. My mother admonished me NOT to drink from a glass with a spoon in it, warning that I would inevitably stick the spoon up my nose. [OF COURSE it then actually happened. She was a MOTHER, you know.]

These days the warnings are rather more likely to be from the Government than from the typical mother (oh, say, Kathy Hilton).

Cigarettes carry the warning that they're not good for you (who knew?).
[Yet to be seen in the West is the warning the Thai Government requires: "SMOKING CAUSES IMPOTENCE." That certainly would focus one's attention.]


Even Pop Tarts: "Warning: Pastry Filling May Be Hot When Heated"

It is unlikely that the typical can of peaches carries such a warning, but it should.


The Associated Press reports:

TWO children in Western Australia have been treated for shrapnel wounds and burns after a tin of peaches exploded in their kitchen. An ambulance crew was called to a house in Wellstead, near Albany, on the WA south coast, yesterday after a four-year old boy apparently placed the can of peaches in a wood heater.

The can exploded, blowing the door off the heater, damaging the refrigerator and the kitchen bench and then shooting across the room smashing into the oven, a St John Ambulance spokeswoman said.

The shattering of the window of the heater sent glass flying across the room, leaving the boy and his seven year-old sister with cuts and minor burns.

Attempting to demonstrate that understatement is not limited to the British corner of the Anglosphere, a spokesman for the ambulance company opined "It sounds like it was quite an explosion."

Story HERE.

I Got You, Babe

Let's face it - celebrity is tough. G&S got some face time in Dawn Eden's "Daily Dish" in the NY Daily News over the weekend, for our post on the Deep Impact Space Probe last week. We always knew our hard-hitting, refreshing brand of investigative journalism - whereby we investigate what's in the pantry, discover there isn't anything, and decide to blog for sustenance instead - would get us notoriety sooner or later.

Little did we know it would come so soon. Perhaps it's time to consider a solo career? Do you believe in life after love?

Get Your Act Together, All Of You

Once again, it's time for the midsummer classic. Unfortunately, the only iota of authenticity the All-Star Game has left is the "midsummer" part. Selig has managed to confuse everyone as to the actual import of the game, as his inability to keep players interested in even attending has undermined the "home-field advantage" gimmick he started in 2003.

Pedro is about the only one with a legit excuse for not playing, given that he pitched Sunday afternoon (nicely, I might add). Kenny Rogers, as much as ever looking out for #1, is making the game about himself. But fundamentally nobody really cares about the game, and if that's the case, why does it have to mean something?

We could have, in 2002, decided to play the game according to the rules (that is, until one team has finished with more runs than their opponents in the ninth inning or later). Instead, home-field advantage was introduced to the effect of making Bud Selig feel more important about himself.

The All-Star game has been and always will be about the players. It's up to them to make it more meaningful. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Sunday, July 10, 2005


Saturday, July 09, 2005

G8 Report Card

Gleneagles, though painfully interrupted, proved to be a step forward for white bureaucrats who want to show they actually care about Africa. You know, that place south of Europe with 800 million people? Ring any bells?

Development aid to Africa has always been one of those unique situations where the hand that feeds you also bites you. The familiar loan-and-default cycle has arguably left the continent worse than when aid programs began; back then, at least everyone was poor and nobody could scrape enough money (or food) together to slaughter half a million of his neighbors.

At face value, the Gleneagles Communique is another supremely ambitious and naive document, full of heartwarming plans to eradicate poverty worldwide. We're going to increase aid by $50bn to Africa? Great! African leaders are agreeing to "commit to democracy and good governance" - FINALLY! Give us a break. Fundamentally, you're always going to see these meaningless but popular sentiments announced - it's like campaigning for student body president and vowing to put Coca-Cola in the water fountains.

But there are signs that the Eurocrats (and maybe even the Americans?) are starting to get it. For years, development economists have been screaming their heads off about debt relief, and it looks like at least someone's listening. Forgiving the debts of the 18 poorest African nations is a MUCH bigger deal than most people have acknowledged. Perhaps some African development aid will actually get spent on Africans soon.

Not that soon, unfortunately. (The aid increase, as well as plans to create universal access to anti-HIV drugs, won't be implemented until 2010, by which time AIDS will have claimed 10,000,000 more African lives.) And worse, the agreement does little or nothing to address the following equally-important issues: corruption, security, rule of law, infrastructure, local development, reinvestment, or even, say, implementation. Most disappointing was the failure of the G8 to seriously consider Blair's call for grant-based aid. The U.S.'s own grant program, the Millennium Challenge Account, has been embarassing in its stinginess.

Debt Relief: A-
Climate Change: C
Development Aid: C+
Reform: F


Not terrible, G8. But please, try a little harder next time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

This Just In From Mars

In the course of your faithful correspondent's yearlong residency in San Francisco, he has seen methamphetamines smoked out of stolen motorcycle sparkplugs, sat in dog excrement at a bus stop in a posh neighborhood, and been trampled by ninety year-old Chinese ladies traveling in packs of half a dozen or more.

But it's stories like this one that make living in the city of Saint Francis worthwhile.

We've declared independence (for about the eightieth time).
Now, I'm certainly intrigued by the idea of secession, but SFist has some compelling reasons why we should stay:
As Americans, we're nonconformist sexual outlaws rebelling against Middle American society. Take Middle America out of the equation and we're just a bunch of tattooed, dyed hair freaks. Face it, we need to be part of America.
Hmm. Good point.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Our sources say that Chief Justice-slash-fashion icon William Rehnquist is preparing to hold a press conference to announce his resignation tomorrow, 8 July, between 10 and 11 am EDT. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been told not to schedule anything at that time.

Democrats on the committee have been told there will be free ice cream in the basement at that time.

UPDATE (7:15 pm EDT): Our source is NOT (though it was rumored to be) Bobby Novak.

(11:57 pm EDT): Volokh stuff HERE. Also, apparently SCOTUSBlog only reads Volokh.)


"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."
-Winston Churchill

The Steel City

Honestly, I think the city of Pittsburgh gets a raw deal sometimes. People characterize it as a filthy, post-industrial hicktown that happens to be located north of the Mason-Dixon line.

I respectfully disagree. Lest we forget, Pittsburgh has been home to some great things: Andrew Carnegie, the Warhol Museum, the Whiskey Rebellion, and one of the TWO professional brass bands in the entire world (right here in River City!).

Oh. And THIS guy. I'm pretty sure he's my hero.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

From the Makers of Apollo 11, comes...

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is no longer the awe-inspiring government agency that pours absurd amounts of money into relatively pointless exercises [AHEM moon landings]. Oh, of course not! The new, svelte NASA just got done with a thrifty 333 million dollar project. MSMers, including the truly dangerous PBS, described the mission as an attempt to
...smash a probe into a speeding comet the size of Washington, D.C., with a force equal to four and a half tons of TNT exploding.
Upon some more careful inspection (or some gentle mental prodding), it becomes clear that you CAN'T smash something INTO A COMET. Comets smash into YOU. Indeed, the Casanovas over at space.com make it clear that the photo you see above is "comet Tempel 1 six minutes before it ran over NASA's Deep Impact probe at 10:52 p.m. Pacific time, July 3."

Soooo...the mission consisted, basically, of destroying a really expensive digital camera. No wonder JPL's mission co-investigator exclaimed, "I can't believe they're paying us to have this much fun!"

Of course, it's not fun and games for everyone. A Russian astrologer is suing NASA for $300m in "moral sufferings" that resulted from upsetting "the natural balance of forces in the universe" and "[deforming] her natural horoscope."

Tom Cruise could not be reached for comment.

P.S. If you're still worrying about the cost, just remember that Deep Impact covered only about 2.5% of NASA's 2005 budget, which, of course, is twice the EPA's budget.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

July 2, 1776 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

On July 3, John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail, at home in Braintree, Massachusetts:

"Yesterday the greatest Question was decided, which ever was debated in America, and a greater perhaps, never was or will be decided among Men. A Resolution was passed without one dissenting Colony 'that these united Colonies, are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, and as such, they have, and of Right ought to have full Power to make War, conclude Peace, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things, which other States may rightfully do.' "

"You will see in a few days a Declaration setting forth the Causes which have impell'd Us to this mighty Revolution, and the Reasons which will justify it in the Sight of God and Man. A Plan of Confederation will be taken up in a few days."

Later that same day, in a second letter, he wrote:
But the Day is past. The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.- I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by Solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfire and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more."
And so we wish you a Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Your host will be absent on vacation until Tuesday, July 12, under circumstances which dictate that posting will be impossible. In my absence, I commend to your attention my Hired Hand, who will make every effort to maintain the honor of this location.

I have contrived that this post remain at the top until my return: You should not be deceived, and should instead look below for the handiword of my help.

July 1, 1863 -- Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

"My division went into this action about three o'clock P.M. and at the close of the day a brilliant victory had been achieved, between six and seven thousand prisoners and two pieces of artillery falling into our hands, a considerable portion of which had been captured by Rodes' division.

"Perhaps that victory might have been made decisive, so far as Gettysburg was concerned, by a prompt advance of all the troops that had been engaged on our side against the hill upon and behind which the enemy had taken refuge, but a common superior did not happen to be present, and the opportunity was lost...

"Late in the evening, when it had become too dark to do anything further, General Lee came to General Ewell's headquarters, and after conferring with General Ewell, General Rodes and myself, we were given to understand that, if the rest of the troops could be got up, there would be an attack very early in the morning on the enemy's left flank, and also on the right, at the wooded hill before named...

"During the night a large portion of Meade's army came up and the rest arrived in the course of the next day before the battle opened."

Lieutenant General Jubal Anderson Early C.S.A.