Category Archives: Culture

Thoughts on Scooter Libby

I haven’t paid much attention to the Libby trial. Joe Wilson always seemed like too much of a pompous blowhard, and Libby too much of a devoted apparachik, to care much. However, like tax cuts, impeachments and special prosecutors are always good.

Two surprising things

  • Fitzgerald convicted Libby on essentially technical grounds, which struck me as odd, as he’s a rather talented lawyer. IIRC he was Clinton pardonee Marc Rich’s lawyer.
  • No one has brought up this reason for the animus towards Wilson; to wit: Cheney’s office is filled with 45-65 year old true believers who all work 60-80 hours a week. Along comes some guy who retired in his late 40s who tries to tell them their business (and not too well either). That has to some sort of huge insult in the late middle aged workaholic society.

What dreams may come

Yesterday I did a tough 80 miles on the Silver Comet. It was a hotter than usual, and for some reason I decided to push myself speed wise. I averaged a mile an hour over my usual speed for that distance, and my heart rate was about 10-15 bpm over the usual rate as well. I mistimed the start of the ride and wound up riding for an hour in a darkness usually found in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Riding safely in this sort of dark mandated an unusually upright and uncomfortable posture for the final hour (I had to keep my vision focused on the area covered by my headlight, which was small).

I’m also on a low-carb kick at the moment.

After I got home I finished Eric Hoffer’s autobiography, Truth Imagined. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on the book later. The book describes his time as a migrant farm worker in California in the 20s and 30s. One interesting thing he writes about is the sheer variety of people he encountered while on the bum. People of learning and accomplishment, forced by the depression into a migrant way of life. It struck me that this is a as a little remarked price of prosperity, as well as the relative meritocracy that is part and parcel of a free society. To wit; in good times one is more likely to meet people just like oneself than in times of physical and economic catastrophe, for good or ill.

That night I had a dream where I attended a cocktail party, wearing a tuxedo. I was talking to an interesting and confident woman my age named Trea. I had told her the observation mentioned above and she opined that I had the cause and effect backward. Economic catastrophe’s are caused by the mixing of people (grouped by ability, not race) which interferes with the division and specialization of labor.

What does this labor produce? Society and culture. The conventional view (of mine anyway) is that society and culture are like an investment portfolio; it’s outside one’s immediate grasp, it changes over time, and grows incrementally. Trea’s view was that society is produced and consumed, and does not change incrementally at all. It’s like the contents of one’s pantry; food goes in, it goes out, but it doesn’t last forever, and neither grows nor evolves.

In economic parlance, society/culture are stocks, not flows, which is the way I usually think of them.

I’ve usually don’t have these sort of dreams, nor do I have new (to me) ideas in dreams. I’m not sure what to make of it all.

And if you’ve read this far, I’m impressed.

Rapid fire and random thoughts

  • Interesting thoughts on the use of mercenaries to settle third world conflicts (Darfour, the Congo, etc) at Instapundit and Marginal Revolution. I’m a bit queasy about the idea myself, though it’s probably worth trying.
  • Congress asserts amazing immunities for itself. No-knock raids and tear gas are good enough for you and me though.
  • Why do we believe anything sponsored by supposedly independent interest groups, in this case, an epidemic of girls going wild?
  • A nice AJAX primer from Brainjar.
  • Traffic Data in Windows Live Local.
  • The current media created craze is the fight club. I think this article misses out on reasons why it is appealing to techies though. If you’re a programmer, you’re spending all day in your virtual world, and stepping into the ring is about as far away from that as you can get.

Things I don’t believe in

A list of things I don’t believe in, for no reason other than I find their proponents objectionable, or sensationalistic.

  • Intelligent Design theory
  • Global Warming
  • Public education reform
  • Keyboards in rock music
  • Authenticity as a meaningful part of music
  • McCarthyism being a defining moment of American History
  • Native American culture being inherently earth friendly
  • Anything to do with “carbs”
  • Apple’s vaunted OS stability
  • Apple’s better “interface”
  • Any positive influence of Janis Joplin
  • The oft-touted claim by libertarians that 20% of Americans are libertarian also
  • “Natural” foods
  • Homeopathy
  • Divorce being a public/social problem
  • Stem cell research being a big deal, for good or ill
  • Biomass fuels
  • Peak oil
  • Addictive personalities
  • Chiropractors

How is this possible

Amazon, Maher to swim in ‘Fishbowl’
“New 30-minute entertainment Web program will make its debut June 1, exclusively on”

How is Bill Maher still popular, much less more popular than ever? His delivery, never a strong suit of his, has gotten more tortured than ever, or at least it was before I quit watching him. He also prefaced every line with “Isn’t it really….”.

I find a lot of left-wing comics (Mark Maron, Jon Stewart has come back quite a bit after a bad slump) funny, so I don’t think it’s that his politics are offensive to me, he just seems about as funny as an episode of Mama’s Family these days.

De gustibus non est disputandum I suppose.

Now this is interesting

The Smoking Gun is running a long article on James Frey, author of A Million Little Piece. Apparently he made it up.

Of interest to me

During the October show, which featured Frey as its only guest, Winfrey discussed details of that tale. He was, she said, “the child you pray you never have to raise,” a raging, drug-abusing teenager who had been arrested 11 times by age 19. In college, he drank to excess, took meth, freebased cocaine, huffed glue and nitrous oxide, smoked PCP, ate mushrooms, and was “under investigation by police.” By the time he checked into Hazelden in late-1993, Frey, then 23, was “wanted in three states,” added Winfrey.

Now really, if you’ve been arrested 11 times by 19, and done all the drugs listed above, what’s left to investigate? Heavy, Bad Lieutenant style drug use would seem to preclude most heavy criminal activity, and pretty much anything else. If you’ve reached the crapping blood stage of drug use (as he claims), I don’t think you rate any high powered police attention.

I haven’t read the book, but the article is very good and very detailed. If true, (and it seems to be) Frey is quite the liar.

But what about Biggie?

link via The Agitator, Cynthia McKinney brings America.… the


    (a) In General- (1) Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Archives shall commence establishment of a collection of records to be known as the `Tupac Amaru Shakur Records Collection.’ In so doing, the Archivist shall ensure the physical integrity and original provenance of all records. The Collection shall consist of originals or record copies of all Government records relating to the life and death of Tupac Amaru Shakur, which shall be transmitted to the National Archives in accordance with section 2107 of title 44, United States Code. The Archivist shall prepare and publish a subject guidebook and index to the collection, including the central directory described in paragraph (2)(B), which shall be available to the public and searchable electronically.



    (a) Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the National Archives shall appoint an independent Citizens Advisory Committee, subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C., App.), as defined in App. 2, from candidates solicited from and nominated not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act by non-governmental organizations from the Society of American Archivists, the National Bar Association, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc., and the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, the civil rights, civil liberties, entertainment and African American community, which will consist of appointees–
      (1) who have not had any previous involvement with any official investigations into the life and death of Tupac Amaru Shakur,
      (2) who were never employed or engaged by any Federal, state or local intelligence or law enforcement agency which is covered in the scope of this Act’s search for records related to the life and death of Tupac Amaru Shakur,
      (3) who shall be impartial private citizens, none of whom is presently employed by any branch of the Government, and
      (4) who shall be distinguished persons of high national professional reputation in their respective fields who are capable of exercising the independent and objective judgment necessary to the fulfillment of their role in ensuring and facilitating the review, transmission to the public, and public disclosure of records related to the life and death of Tupak Shakur,
        (A) who possess an appreciation of the value of such material to the public, scholars, and government, and
        (B) who include at least three scholars in current history, at least 3 members of the civil rights community, at least 3 experts on civil liberties, and at least one member of the immediate family of Tupac Amaru Shakur.

IIRC I think there is only one immediate member of Shakur’s family.

I think we saw the gutlessness of the Republicans with the failure of the Coburn amendment. If this makes it though Congress I suggest we hand the keys to the country to Walmart and call it a day.

Some people are just wrong

I read the article L.I. Principal Cancels ‘Bacchanalian’ Prom, not quite knowing what to expect. In short summary, the prom pre and after parties were getting out of hand and the principal cancelled the school prom. Then I come across this juicy quote

“It is not primarily the sex/booze/drugs that surround this event, as problematic as they might be; it is rather the flaunting of affluence, assuming exaggerated expenses, a pursuit of vanity for vanity’s sake — in a word, financial decadence,” Brother Hoagland said, fed up with what he calls the “bacchanalian aspects” of the prom.

This, mind you, is a Catholic school. So, the principal finds spending money on the sex/booze/drugs more objectionable than the sex, booze and drugs? He’s the principal of the school and he’s primarily concerned about the price of the decadence!?

Jane Galt at her best

From one of several posts recently about poverty and culture

In other words, middle class culture is such that bad long-term decision making also has painful short-term consequences. This does not, obviously, stop many middle class people from becoming addicted to drugs, flagrantly screwing up at work, having children they can’t take care of, and so forth. But on the margin, it prevents a lot of people from taking steps that might lead to bankruptcy and deprivation. We like to think that it’s just us being the intrinsically worthy humans that we are, but honestly, how many of my nice middle class readers had the courage to drop out of high school and steal cars for a living?

I’m not really kidding. I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I was eighteen, if my peer group had taken up swallowing razor blades I would have been happily killed myself trying to set a world record. And if they had thought school was for losers and the cool thing to do was to hang out all day listening to music and running dime bags for the local narcotics emporium, I would have been right there with them. Lucky for me, my peer group thought that the most important thing in the entire world was to get an ivy league diploma, so I went to Penn and ended up shilling for drug companies on my blog.