Other places, other values

I’m down in the Central Valley right now.  Went into a Foster’s Old Fashioned freeze (love their chocolate dipped vanilla cones) and saw, right on the counter, a packet of materials from the local Marine recruiter.  Wouldn’t see that in Marin, that’s for sure.

Still on the road

I’ve been so isolated from the news this weekend I only just discovered that Van Jones withdrew. Of course, at the same time, my NYT reading husband first discovered that Van Jones existed, so I’m still ahead of some curves.

I might blog this morning, but I’m not optimistic. For now, consider this your “Happy Labor Day” open thread.


This has been in the works for a while, so it’s not a surprise to me, but I know it will be a surprise to you.

Effective immediately, I’m switching servers, so my blog will operate at a new address: http://www.bookwormroom.com/

Henceforth, all new posts will be at http://www.bookwormroom.com/

There are still a few glitches at the new site, and I’d appreciate your feedback as we work them out. Overall, though, the new site is, in my eyes at least, beautiful. It will also have features that I couldn’t access on my old site and that will, I think, benefit both me and my readers. From my point of view, it has user registration, which will cut down on the hundreds of spams I get (despite Askimet). I’ll also have an easier time linking videos and uploading images. From your point of view, the user comments can be previewed, which I know a lot of you would like. Also, I happen to like the template, since I think it’s easier to read than my old one. Anyway, check it out: http://www.bookwormroom.com/

A million thanks for this change go to the Web Administrator at Webloggin who was more generous with his time and resources than you can possibly imagine. He is, in the most profound Yiddish sense of the word, a mensch — a righteous, honorable, truly good human being.

By the way, if you have me in your blog roll, I’d very much appreciate it if you would update the link.

Because good music never goes out of style

Tex Benecke and the Glenn Miller Orchestra are “In the Mood”:

Be sure actually to watch this video, not just listen, because the musicians’ shtick is great.

By the way, if it’s just the fabulous music you want to hear, go to this YouTube link, which has Glenn Miller and his band playing it, with great audio quality (but no video, just still photos).

The more things change….

I found this in an anthology of humorous stories from 1950:

Quentin Reynolds calls attention to the fact that Montgomery’s campaign in the Near East altered a centuries-old custom of the natives in those parts. “Since time immemorial,” says Reynolds, “Arabian men rode majestically on the family donkey while their wives, laden with all sorts of burdens, trudged patiently behind on foot. After 1942, however, all that was changed. The wife was emancipated. She now walks in front. There are many unexploded lands mines. . . .”

UPDATE: I’ve switched to a new server, so you can feel free to look around here or check out my new site, which not only has the old stuff, but also will move forward into the future with all my new material.

Racism, sexism and political elections

Secession at Berkeley

If Berkeley wants to secede from the United States, I’m willing to let it go. But as Senator Jim DeMint makes clear, that action of secession should bear a few minor consequences, such as the loss of all federal funds. If Berkeley wants to eat its cake, let it. But having dined in style on a rich cake made up of loony conspiracy theories and radical politics, it certainly shouldn’t be able to claim a subsequent entitlement to a nice, rich cake made of up of taxpayer cash:

Hat tip: Hot Air

Pardon me, but Berkeley liberals are idiots

You can read here a story about the fact that Berkeley is trying to backpedal from its stupid, mean-spirited attack on the Marines, not for any principled reasons, but because some Republican Senators have said that, if Berkeley doesn’t take the Marines, it doesn’t get to enjoy the benefits of US taxpayer money.  I can tell you that the article, taken as a whole, basically describes in detail the myriad attacks that Code Pink launched against the Marines, and the aid the City of Berkeley provided for Code Pink before embarking on its benighted direct attack against the Marines.  The Marines, as you may recall, didn’t do anything in this kerfuffle.  Their sole “crime” was simply being there.  That’s why I was so impressed by the idiocy behind the closing quotation in the article:

Ann Cooper with the Berkeley Unified School District wants both sides to play nice.

“Senators sitting 3,000 miles away are trying to take food away from the children of Berkeley,” said Cooper. “Why? Because the Marines and the city aren’t playing nice — and that’s just not OK.”

Considering that the Marines have done nothing at all but exercise their Federal right to open a recruiting center in an American city, you rather have to wonder in what way Ms Cooper thinks they “aren’t playing nice” — and what she would have them do differently?  And yes, that’s a purely rhetorical question, because for all that Ms Cooper is trying to sound even-handedly Solomonic, you know that, in her mind, the Marines can play nice only by ceasing to exist.

I won’t even touch the rhetorical stupidity of the starving children in Berkeley.  In Oakland, maybe; but not in Berkeley.  There is no indication that the Feds were going to affect food programs.  They were going to withdraw funds for a transportation upgrade.  After all, civic actions have consequences, but no matter the issue, the libs like to hide their politics behind “the children.”

One of those great insights

Occasionally one reads something that just makes so much sense. I read something like that this morning in J.R. Dunn’s meditation on the resurgent Democratic obsession with some abstract “youth” as the core of the Obama surge. Aside from writing well on that subject (of course), Dunn made a fascinating point about the overwhelming power accorded to the young in the 1960s. I’d always assumed that the young people then were so powerful because of their numbers. It was, after all, the coming of age of the demographic baby boom. Dunn, however, makes a different point entirely, which is that a power vacuum existed precisely when these boomers stepped up to bat:

The early 60s was one of the most youth-obsessed periods in American history. There’s no simple explanation for this, and we don’t really require one beyond noting the fact. It was reflected in the presidency of John F. Kennedy, who was characterized as “young” although, like Obama, he was actually on the cusp of middle age. What youth thought, wanted, and believed was subject to endless public dissection and analysis. Youthful opinion on all sorts of complicated topics, ranging from Cold War strategy to Vietnam to race relations, was actively courted and given serious consideration. At one point, Time magazine chose the “Youth of America” as its Man of the Year.

As the decade wore on, rhetoric concerning the younger generation grew more extreme. Rather than simply having opinions of interest, youth were now said to possess the Answer to all sorts of critical matters. Youth, the public was assured, had important things to say. Youth must be listened to. And finally, “Older people have screwed things up. Let’s give the kids a chance.” All sentiments that would sound familiar to the Roger Cohens of our day.

All this might have been harmless but for the collapse of the previous generation — the so-called “Silents”. (Actually merely a subset of the GI generation.) Possibly the most overlooked factor of the entire decade is the manner in which this generation, just coming into their prime years, abdicated responsibility in favor of what we’ve come to know as the 60s lifestyle. It was this, rather than anything the kids did, that caused much of the later trouble.

There’s no difficulty explaining this turn of events. Every generation has a strictly limited leadership cohort — the number is generally held to be approximately 5%. The U.S. lost over a quarter-million men in WW II. A substantial number of the GI generation’s natural leaders were killed at places like Kasserine, Tarawa, and Omaha Beach. This is one kind of deficit that simply can’t be made up. As a result, positions in the postwar world that required hard-charging alphas were filled by whoever was available, too many of whom weren’t up to the job. Government was left in the hands of odd figures like Lyndon B. Johnson (who could never have been elected on his own) and Robert “S. for Strange” McNamara. (The same phenomenon can be seen in the 80s and 90s of the 19th century, the so-called Gilded Age. Consider the lengthy chain of nonentities that served as president during that period. The truly dynamic leaders had been killed in the battles of the Civil War.) The kids (just becoming known as “Boomers”), left without guidance or the benefit of experience, ran wild, with many of their elders grooving right alongside them. And so the country roared full-speed ahead into the children’s hour: the 60s of legend, in all their tie-dyed and bell-bottomed, not to mention tear-gassed and rubber-bulleted glory.

It’s an interesting conundrum now, because the babyboomers– the mature generation — certainly have the numbers to make a difference.  They’re still demographically hefty.  The question is whether, as opposed to the “youths” of today, there is any meaningful leadership in a generation raised to think the world owed it something, and tempered alternately by passion, apathy and political corruption.  (Actually, that last is a description of me.  I grew up at the tail end of the baby boom, and became politically aware, in a very youthful way, right around the time of Watergate and the withdrawal from Vietnam.  It set up in me a political cynicism and apathy that didn’t go away until 9/11, when passion took over.)

Because they don’t make ‘em like they used to

Cab Calloway in 1934:

And Benny Goodman in 1937:

Waterboard protestors are all wet

I’m doing something I very rarely do, which is to print an article in its entirety, but the article (a WSJ editorial) is brief and the point is so important, I feel that anything other than full reproduction, with attribution of course, would be a disservice:

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri planned the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole. Abu Zubaydah was the mastermind of the foiled millennium terrorist attacks, which had Los Angeles airport as one of its targets. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed directed the September 11 attacks, and has claimed to have personally beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Danny Pearl.

All three men were captured by the CIA in 2002 and waterboarded in the course of their interrogations. They are also the only U.S. detainees to have been waterboarded. That fact, publicly confirmed yesterday by CIA Director Michael Hayden, shreds whatever is left to the so-called torture narrative, according to which the Bush Administration has engaged in widespread, needless and systematic torture of detainees.

Instead, we have sworn public testimony that the waterboarding was conducted against the three individuals best positioned to know about impending terrorist atrocities. The interrogations took place when a second major terrorist attack was widely seen as inevitable. And we know that the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah helped lead to the capture of KSM, and to the foiling of an active terrorist plot against the United States.

The waterboarding was conducted by intelligence professionals who understood they were operating not only with the approval of the Justice Department but also the informed consent of key Congressional leaders, including Democrat Jay Rockefeller, then the ranking minority Member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

In his own testimony yesterday, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell refused to rule out the use of waterboarding in the future, though he said it would have to be approved by the President and Attorney General. To the extent that his comments provide a measure of uncertainty to terrorist detainees who might otherwise think they have nothing to fear from their captors, this helps make us safer.

UPDATE:  If you’re here from the WSJ, welcome!  The interesting discussion isn’t here, obviously, but can be found in the comments to this post.  Indeed, I wish I’d said most of the interesting things my commenters thought of and were kind enough to state here.

Apologies for not blogging

I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging. It’s been a lot of things: overwhelming family demands (not bad demands, just overwhelming demands), overwhelming work demands (some bad, some just overwhelming), and that weird moment of silence that falls while the votes are being counted on Super Tuesday. One other thing: I signed up for a martial arts class. Hurrah!

I did martial arts for a few years in a time B.C. (before children), but stopped with my first pregnancy. I was never very good, but, oh, how I loved it. My son started a few months ago, and he loves it with the same passion I once felt. I’ve gotten jealous so, on impulse, I went for an introduction adult lesson. It felt so good that it just didn’t matter that I’m in terrible shape. Also, I’ve got a surprising (to me) amount of muscle memory, although I’ll have to lose some of that since this dojo has a different approach from my old one.

I hate exercise just for exercise’s sake. However, there are certain activities I love — swimming, dancing, martial arts — and the exercise, instead of being the boring focus, is a wonderful by-product.

I hope that the coming months see me being in better shape, less stressed, and more cheerful.

Devotion to political party

I’ve been wondering today why people are so fanatically devoted to their political parties that they accept them without analysis and stick to them regardless of changes in their own beliefs or in the party’s own platform.  When it comes to things that are equally important, such as marriage, people freely admit that they or their spouse have changed and, even when they do it with anguish, they’ll walk away from marriages when the differences because of those changes become too great.  Likewise, when it comes to something that amounts to mere pleasure, such as football or baseball, they study statistics and other information with fanaticism.  However, when it comes to politics, something that will have a lasting effect on their lives, the lives of their children, and the lives of their fellow Americans, they’re woefully uninformed about issues and, more significantly, they refuse to acknowledge change.

I stand as the perfect example of this unthinking affiliation.  Before 9/11 came and knocked my socks off, I was a Democratic because I was, dammit.  I never took the time to look Democratic positions and compare them to my own values, either the ones that were a fixed part of my psyche, or the ones that changed or that I added as time went by.  For reasons I can’t understand now, it was more devastating to change political parties than it was to change boyfriends, friends, jobs, schools, anything.  As to all of those, I could recognize the nature of change and maturity, but I couldn’t do that regarding politics.

Do any of you have ideas as to what inspires this unthinking affiliation?  Even though I lived, I like the insight to get what was going on in my brain, and I certainly lack the ability to understand what motivates others.  As it is, I see so many people who can be made to admit, on a point by point basis that, whether because they changed or because the Democrats changed, their values and beliefs harmonize more closely with the Republican platform than the Democratic platform.  Nevertheless, despite admitting this, they’ll still announce that Democrats are good, Republicans are bad, and resolutely vote a straight Democratic party line.

By the way, I know some of you are going to say that politics is like religion, and I’ll concede that point — but why do they stick with a religion when they no longer believe any of its doctrines?  Is religious belief, whether secular or real, really so much deeper and stronger than marital commitments, personal finances, hobbies, or any of the other engines that drive peoples’ lives and as to which they’re willing to acknowledge and act upon change?

A fun political time-waster

I don’t think it’s very useful, but this new website — Select 2008 — is a rather fun way to while away time examine political issues and seeing from issue to issue where your candidates stand.  Actually, that’s unfair of me.  It may be useful to people who aren’t up on the issues and the candidates the way I, a political junkie, am.  As for me, it simply confirmed that, in my dotage, I’m a conservative, and that McCain will function as my political candidate, although he’s definitely not my top choice.  That is, it reminded me that if McCain does win the primaries, I can vote for him with a good conscience especially since, with an even better conscience, I do not want to see any of the Democratic candidates win.

Just asking….

Is it a bad sign if you have Peanut M&Ms for breakfast because they’re the fastest thing to prepare and have lots of instant energy?

Things here should shudder to a halt in a few hours, and I’ll get to some serious writing then (I hope).  For now, I’ll just chug away, knowing that I’m having a better day than either Edwards or Giuliani (sigh).

Why middle-age is depressing

Does it come as a surprise to any of you to learn that middle-age is depressing?  As I’ve mentioned before, I know why:

From the “they deserve each other” department

I’d grown up hearing that it takes two thieves to strike an honest bargain.  That’s sort of true here, with each side ending up with nothing — which is pretty fair, considering what each was offering the other.

The man who is President Bush *UPDATED*

I’ve always liked President Bush, even when I thought I was a Democrat. I liked him even back in 2000, I cast my vote for Al Gore (yes, I did). Then, I was happy to tell people that I’d rather have Bush for my next door neighbor than my President, with the reverse being true for Gore — I could never imagine just shooting the bull with that man.

Now that he has been our President, we can see that Bush has weathered more in the last 8 years than most Presidents and he has consistently comported himself with dignity. He hasn’t attacked his opponents; he hasn’t engaged in scandalous behavior, personal or political; and he has never lost sigh of his goals. I haven’t agreed with all of his goals, although I’ve agreed with most. I think he’s kept his eye on the most important ball, which is world terrorism, while getting confused regarding Israel — a confusion that is the less forgivable given that Israel has always been the canary in the coal mine when it comes to Islamic terrorism. As they are, so shall we be. I also think he made government bigger, rather than smaller (a very un-conservative thing to have done), but I know Gore (or Kerry) would have done the same, only much more so. Indeed, even in those areas in which I disapprove of Bush’s conduct, Gore (or Kerry) would have earned infinitely more of my disapproval. And as for those areas in which I think Bush did well — as to those, I can’t even contemplate a Gore or Kerry presidency.

In any event, given the contumely continuously heaped on someone I believe has been a good President and someone I’ve never doubted is a good man, it was with real delight that I read the Anchoress’s heartfelt homage to President Bush.

UPDATECheck out the last paragraph of this Obama-centric story about the SOTU address to see again what a good person George Bush is.

Check back later

I’ve already got two posts started, one in my head and one on the computer, but have to head off to a meeting.  Check back later.  Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the words of that good, longtime, adamant liberal, Mr. Bookworm:  “Does anyone care that Kennedy endorsed Obama?”

Taxes are soooo stressful

I hate tax season, not just because I have to pay the government, but because I have to listen to my husband ask “What were you thinking when you….?”  “Why didn’t you….?”  “Why did you….?”  It doesn’t help that his questions are usually correct in that I mis-categorized something, or lost track of something, or committed some other reasonably careless financial error. As I point out to him every year, the fact that he voiced precisely the same harangues in the preceding year (16 times and counting), doesn’t seem to have changed my basic approach to these issues.

And I always hasten to add that he can’t take the moral high ground regarding my nonexistent learning curve, at least not as far as I’m concerned, because this is a man who boasts proudly of the fact that he doesn’t know how to operate any household appliances, and rather aggressively refuses to gain any mastery over all the household and parenting tasks for which I’m responsible.  As I’ve blogged before, some of us don’t seem suited to wearing hats for both Ward and June Cleaver.  In other words, the old song was wrong.  Apparently I can’t both bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.  (Although that last is not really true, I do both, and do both quite well.  It’s just that I can’t do either perfectly.)

Wet, wet and more wet

This is one of the rainiest days I can remember in I don’t know how long. Huge drops of water falling steadily for hours. I live on a hill and the street in front of my house looks like a river. My back yard is flat and flooded. I’m pretty sure I caught a quick glimpse of Noah floating by.

And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

Change can be brilliant

For those who hate catch-phrases — especially this election’s catch-phrase of “change” — here’s one for you.  Be sure to watch the whole thing:

Hat tip:  LGF

Three must-reads

I finally caught up with three articles that I think are pretty much must-reads, all of them reprinted at National Review Online:

1.  Thomas Sowell about the problems with McCain’s age — problems we can’t pretend do not exist.  (And as someone who has watched the remarkably quick aging process my bright, energetic, enthusiastic, healthy mother experienced as she neared her 80s, it’s a very important topic.)

2.  Charles Krauthammer about John Edward’s angry new persona — one that completely rejects, without any explanation, just about everything he advocated during his short life as a Senator.

3.  Mona Charen about Chavez’s increasingly strident anti-Semitism, and that steps he’s taken to make Venezuela Judenrein.

“if I am going to die then I would rather die like a man than a dog.”

It’s a truly dreadful story, but with a happy ending, because a man behaved like a man:

A millionaire yesterday told how he fought off three armed burglars who were holding a knife to his daughter’s throat, saying he “would rather die like a man than a dog”.

Bernard Dwyer, 51, was convinced he and his family were about to be killed so he chose to take on the men – hours after they had allegedly killed a restaurant owner, a court heard.

Mr Dwyer came to his 13-year-old daughter Aisling’s rescue after hearing her piercing screams for help, the Old Bailey was told.

Despite being threatened with a gun, stabbed three times in the head and beaten unconscious with a knuckle-duster, Mr Dwyer fought back as one of his attackers screamed “kill the b******”.

He managed to wrestle a gun from one of the masked raiders and chased them from his luxury home in Uxbridge, West London, in November 2006, the jury heard.

Yesterday, Irish-raised Mr Dwyer, a construction boss, faced two of the three men accused of the burglary.

Brothers Michael and Dean Atkins are also on trial for the murder of restaurant owner Helen Chung, 65, the day before the break-in.

A third man, Joseph Carty, committed suicide in his cell last year while on remand for both offences.

The court heard Mr Dwyer, Aisling, now 14, and his son Danny, 19, were asleep when three men burst in.

He said: “I heard people running up the stairs and Aisling screaming ‘Dad’. I had never heard screaming like that before. I knew something was clearly wrong.”

Mr Dwyer said he jumped from his bed and ran towards Aisling’s room but was confronted at the doorway. “There were three guys coming towards me,” he said.

“All masked, all covered with balaclavas, gloves, padded out, forensically aware.

“One man was holding a gun, waving it about, screaming menacingly.”

He said they attacked him after he agreed to show them where his safe was, one with a knuckle-duster.

Mr Dwyer said: “I took quite a few blows at that point.

“I have seen things on television and I have seen violent stuff but I have never seen this level of violence.

“I was being compliant and they were smashing and bashing me.”

Mr Dwyer was knocked unconscious for a few minutes and when he came round one man was holding a knife to Aisling’s throat and screaming: “I am going to cut your f****** daughter”.

Mr Dwyer said: “We were going to die anyway, that’s what I thought. I thought, if I am going to die then I would rather die like a man than a dog.”

Mr Dwyer pushed the weapon away before striking the attacker.

“I hit him several times, I hit him plenty. The man with the knuckleduster screamed ‘He’s fighting back the b******, kill the b******, he’s fighting back.'”

Mr Dwyer said he was stabbed three times in the head but managed to fight the raiders off and shut the bedroom door. But the men tried to push back in and they fought again, he said. “I have never used a weapon in my life and it was a great feeling.”  [Emphasis mine. --ed.]

“I grabbed the gun and bashed it across the knuckle-duster guy. Next thing is they took off and I chased them down the stairs.”

The raiders fled empty-handed, leaving Mr Dwyer with broken ribs and 30 cuts to his body and head.

Being prepared

This morning, in the wake of revelations that news organizations had begun putting together obits for some of the harder living young stars, I read a story saying that there was some debate about this practice.

But now the news that the Associated Press has prepared an obituary for 26-year-old Britney Spears has put the spotlight on a debate within the business of reporting death: With people grabbing the celebrity spotlight at a younger age, and some of them living lives of obviously dangerous excess, is it time for news organizations to begin preparing for early exits from celebritydom’s under-30 crowd?

Apparently the answer to that last question is yes. The news just hit that Heath Ledger, who got wide recognition for his role Brokeback Motion Mountain, was found dead, presumably of a drug overdose. I can’t speak to his talent, since I thought that Brokeback, the only movie in which I’ve seen him in, was a schlock romance that was elevated to meaningful status only because it was a schlock gay romance, rather than a schlock straight romance. However, the death of anyone at 28, especially from something as pointless as a drug overdose, is a tragedy, pure and simple, and I extend my sincerest condolences to his friends and family.

UPDATE:  Thanks, EssEm.  My typing and proofreading skills are degrading by the minute, although I found this latest typo more amusing than anything else!

Protecting our nation

Having diagnosed the problem — a wave of violent crime committed by out-of-control journalists — Iowahawk has started working towards a solution with the first weapon available: Posters!

Quick picks *UPDATED*

I’ve got a deadline, so I thought I’d just give you a few links to things that interested me this morning:

Rick Moran highlights Zimbabwe’s insane inflation, another horrible indictment of Mugabe, who took one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations and reduced it to abject poverty.

An Iraq War widow, trying to help others, was scammed out of $57,000, and now needs help.

I don’t know if Jonas E. Alexis is a good writer or not, but he’s certainly written what sounds like my kind of book: In the Name of Education: How Weird Ideologies Corrupt our Public Schools, Politics, the Media, Higher Institutions, and History. You can read an interview with him here and see if it sounds like your kind of book too.

Chavez the coke-head — it explains so much, including the paranoia and megalomania.

About three years after the rest of us, NPR is finally catching on to the fact that there is a problem integrating Islamists into Western culture, especially when it comes to the subjugation of Muslim women.

Laer does a fantastic post about Israel’s decision to cut of power to Gaza. I would be more impressed if it weren’t for the fact that I know that, in a day or two, when Palestinian shrieking reaches fever pitch, the UN, Europe and the US will gang up on Israel and demand that she act in a more humanitarian way. And Israel, instead of sticking to her guns and refusing to provide supplies to those trying to destroy her and every one of her citizens, will yield — and the Palestinians will be heartened once again.

I blogged yesterday about the problem with Obama’s race, and it’s not that he’s black, it’s that the Left cares deeply that he’s black. Apparently (and unsurprisingly), I’m not the only one who has figured this out. Slate is running excerpts from what promises to be an interesting book: Richard Thompson Ford’s The Race Card: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse. Given the nature of the publishing industry, this book was obviously written before Obama and Hillary dove into the cesspool of racism, so its presence on the market right now is serendipitous.

That great curmudgeon Pat Condell takes on Canadian dhimmitude.

UPDATE:  Hah!  What did I tell you?  Two days and Israel’s already started caving.  I can also guarantee you that the Palestinians are not thanking the Israeli’s for their munificence.  Instead, they’re gloatingly thinking “weak, weak, weak” — and they’re right.

Meditations on structure

I was at a jazz club yesterday listening to mediocre jazz. I have to confess up front that I don’t like modern jazz at all since I find it aimless and unstructured. It occurred to me that, over the past 500 years, there’s been a dramatic decline in structure in the world of arts. Here are a few examples, which I’ve put beneath the fold, because the images and videos take a lot of space. Continue reading

It all depends how you look at it

Chocolate is protein, right? It had better be:

Diets high in protein may be the best way to keep hunger in check, U.S. researchers said on Thursday in a study that offers insight into how diets work.

They found that protein does the best job at keeping a hunger hormone in check, while carbohydrates and fats may well deserve their current nasty reputation.

The study, which will appear in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, looked at the effectiveness of different nutrients at suppressing ghrelin, a hormone secreted by the stomach that stimulates appetite.

“Suppression of ghrelin is one of the ways that you lose your appetite as you begin to eat and become sated,” said Dr. David Cummings of the University of Washington in Seattle, who worked on the study.

The researchers gave 16 people three different beverages, each with varying levels of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. They took blood samples before the first beverage, then every 20 minutes for six hours afterward, measuring ghrelin levels in each sample.

“The interesting findings were that fats suppress ghrelin quite poorly,” Cummings said in a telephone interview. They fared the poorest overall.

“Proteins were the best suppressor of ghrelin in terms of the combination of the depth and duration of suppression,” he said. “That is truly satisfying because high proteins are essentially common to almost all of the popular diets.”

Sadly, having read the article, I somehow don’t think that it is. It’s going to be tuna and flavorless chicken breasts from now on….

Watch the numbers

Very cool: sometime soon my numbers are going to roll over to 600,000. I do like lots of zeros.

UPDATE:  Done.  Hah! And thanks to all of you who made it possible.

Margaret Sanger would be proud

Jonah Goldberg, in his wonderful Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, reminds me of something I had long known, but forgotten: Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood and birth control Goddess, did not embark on her birth control crusade because she wanted to relieve the burden of childbirth on the average woman. She embarked upon it because she was a eugenicist who wanted to reduce the numbers of “defectives” and non-Christian whites. She couldn’t stand to see all these little Italian, and Greek, and Jewish, and Russian, and Asian babies being born. She framed her crusade in terms of women, but her explicitly stated goals were to cause a decline in immigrant births. Fast-forward a hundred years:

The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially a growing number of Latinos. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. But non-Latino white women and other racial and ethnic groups were having more babies too.

An Associated Press review of births dating to 1909 found the total in the U.S. was the highest since 1961, near the end of the baby boom. An examination of global data also shows that the United States has a higher fertility rate than every country in continental Europe, as well as Australia, Canada and Japan. Fertility levels in those countries have been lower than the U.S. rate for several years, although some are on the rise, most notably in France.

Experts believe there is a mix of reasons: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.

The Captain points to the story as an example of the zero population growth movement mourning its inability to convince people not to have babies. Nevertheless, you can see in it clear echoes of the belief that the wrong people ought not to breed — or, at least, that the ill-informed (read: Latinos) are screwing everything up for the rest of us. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Two more golden oldies

Richard Disney has dug up two more great old videos from a halcyon time when Americans liked America — and were able to articulate why American exceptionalism meant that, while America was (and is) by no means perfect, it was (and is) still a pretty damn great system.

The sin of St. Obama

Read, laugh and cringe.


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