Thursday, March 20, 2008


The Wrath of Goldberg

On March 19th Jonah Goldberg observes that Borders bookstores seem much more reluctant than Barnes and Noble to either carry his new book or to give it good shelf space. The next day Yahoo News has the ominous headline: As shares sink, Borders bookstore considers selling business. Is there a connection? I don't know, but I'll be very careful about angering Mr. Goldberg in the future.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Online Movie Recommendation 23

This week's move recommendations are a tribute to the late Arthur C. Clarke.

Sir. Clarke's 90th birthday message:

Mysterious World:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008



SCOTUS Blog will be "liveblogging" the Heller Arguments today from the CSPAN rebroadcast shortly after the actual arguments conclude.


Saturday, March 15, 2008


Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright Say the Same Thing Differently

Sen. Obama speaks to enraptured voters of hope and change for a better future and offers the promise of a post-racial America. Rev. Wright speaks to enraptured churchgoers or hate and past wrongs and an America where white people always work to keep the blacks down. Sen. Obama claims that Rev. Wright is his pastor and spiritual advisor, and it is obvious that Rev. Wright has been a large influence in Sen. Obama's life. This has lead to a great deal of confusion by some people who look at the huge difference between the tone and meaning of their speeches and wonder how to reconcile that Obama, the student, seems to say the polar opposite of what Wright, his teacher, does... and yet Sen. Obama has not denounced or even distanced himself from Rev. Wright.

If you view them from a different perspective, looking at the audience instead of the orator, then perhaps Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright are saying the same thing after all. They are both saying what the crowd needs to hear. Sen. Obama is saying what will get him votes in the Democratic Primary. Rev. Wright is saying what will put butts in the pews and dollars in the collection plate.

If you assume that the most important thing about what someone says is its meaning then the disparity between what Obama and Wright say is mysterious. But if you think that the most important thing about what someone says is how it motivates the listener to do what the speaker wants them to, then the similarity in their ability as orators is obvious. If you assume that the most important things to learn from a spiritual advisor is theology and ideology, then it would seem that Sen. Obama has learned nothing from Rev. Wright. But if you think that the most important things to learn from a 'spiritual advisor' are how to read a crowd, then craft and deliver a message that will bend them to your will... then it appears Sen. Obama has learned a great deal from Rev. Wright.

The confusion amoung Obama's followers about why he has continuted to associate with Rev. Wright is understandable. Most of them probably believe, like normal people generally do, that what a man says is more important than how he says it and that the value in a pastor's sermon is measured in the truth that it illuminates instead of the dollars it puts in the collection plate. When normal people "get on their soapbox" they say what they believe. They naturally expect that others do as well, and that you can tell what a politician's or reverand's beliefs are by listening to what they say. But I think that Wrechard is right to say that Sen. Obama and Rev. Wright are not normal people. They both make their living by manipulating people with oratory and promises. Such people do not say what they believe, they say what they need to to get what they want. I think the differences between Sen. Obama's and Rev. Wright's speeches is not indicitive of large ideological differences between the two men... it is because of the differences in the audience they are seeking to motivate.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Good Advice, But Too Late

With Gov. Spitzer's crimes and infidelity in the news, a private eye offers some timely advice on how not to get caught doing such things. I can think of an even better way to avoid being caught with a call-girl, though. My father always told me that the best way to avoid being killed in a bar fight was to not be in the bar. I think something similar might have applied here.

The private eye's last comment that some of the NY State Troopers had to have known what was going on and that as a result the scandal will grow even bigger is interesting. I don't know if I believe that, however. The average New Yorker may already assume that their State Troopers are in the habit of looking the other way when powerful people (or one of their own) does something wrong. I doubt many politicians will make a stink over the troopers being quick to cover up for one of the state's power elite, just in case they need such "discretion" themselves one day. Reporters don't have the attention span to stick with the story. At most, I fear, the crimes of the State Troopers in abetting Gov. Spitzer's activities will produce a few indignant posts in the blogosphere. I'd like to be proven wrong about that, though.


Monday, March 10, 2008


Vitamin D and Health

When I was a young tyke my mother would send me outside to play with my friends so I could "get my exercise and Vitamin D." I guess mom knew best.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Half Truths about Real ID from DHS

There is a showdown coming up between several states and the federal government about state ID standards. The Dept. of Homeland Security warns that if the states do not adopt Real ID standards, that their driver's licenses will no longer be considered valid ID for people passing through airport security. I suspect that this statement is being promulgated by federal bureaucrats who are hoping that worried citizens will pressure their state governments into adopting Real ID standards for their states' licenses. While true, this statement is a half-truth. The full truth is that airline passengers need not worry about being denied the ability to fly on a commercial airline regardless of what state they are from or what their state's driver's license standards are. Airline passengers do not need to show ANY identification to fly, as most anyone who has had their wallet lost or stolen on a trip can attest. In fact, a member of the Department of Homeland Security's privacy advisory committee flew on a commercial flight out of San Francisco International Airport a couple of years ago without any ID as a public demonstration of this policy and discovered that he actually got through security screening faster than if he had brought some identification.

For the record, I am not against improving the security of state driver's licenses, but I am against federal bureaucrats distributing half-truths to frighten citizens and manipulate state politics.


Monday, March 03, 2008


In America Even Peasants Own a Car

A Danish reporter who was in Crawford, Texas wandered into the yard of an elderly woman. The woman armed herself with a revolver and then demanded the trespassing man leave her yard, which he promptly did. The incident got reported in both American (hattip: Kim DuToit) and International media. Despite sensationalist language in some of the reports of the incident, it is unlikely that the woman was close to shooting the trespasser or threatened him with the gun, since he admitted later that he wasn't even aware that the woman he spoke with had a gun on her until fellow reporters pointed it out to him in pictures they took of the incident through a telephoto lens.

CNN's webpage describing the incident was filled with comments by both foreigners and Americans about how this incident is just another example of how stupid, backwards, and aggressive Americans (and Texas, specifically) are. I am not worried that reporting of this incident will hurt America's image in the rest of the world, however. I am sure that for every foreign busybody or elitist who posts on the internet or is quoted in the press about how terrible the incident is, that there are several times as many common people who get an entirely different impression of America than what the newsmen intended to portray. Think of how many of the elderly people or women in Denmark who read that story will quietly wish that they could have the same ability to protect themselves from strange men that the Texas ladies have.

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