• Media,  Society

    A fawning portrayal

    I read this article about Fidel Castro in the Toronto Star. I honestly don’t know how it could be more sycophantic.

    He lives to learn and to put his knowledge in the service of the revolution. For Fidel, revolution is really a work of reason. In his view, revolution, when rigorously adopted, cannot fail to lead humanity towards ever greater justice, towards an ever more perfect social order.

    His intellect is one of the most broad and complete that can be found. He is an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.

    Combined with a Herculean physique and extraordinary personal courage, this monumental intellect makes Fidel the giant that he is.

    Those who bite the hand that feeds them will lick the boot that kicks them. 47 years of tyranny can be washed away instantly. HT: Tom Palmer.

  • Media,  Misanthropy,  Society

    Annoyances from the New York Times

    This time it’s about “Men who never marry“. It was more patronizing than usual.

    Choice Quotes

    She speaks from experience. She married her high school boyfriend right after graduation, a 2-week-old baby in arms. But her husband, who never graduated, was unemployed for most of their marriage, and the couple broke up after six years.

    Determined to find a man who had better prospects, Ms. Rudolph entered a relationship with a basketball player and had three children with him. It ended when she learned he was married to someone else, a revelation that left her badly shaken.
    Joe Callender, 47, a retired New York City corrections officer and a father of four, has had long-term relationships with two women but has never married. One obstacle, he admits, has been his own infidelity.

    Mr. Cunningham, 41, a sanitation worker, seems to defy any theory about why he is single. He has, he said, simply not met the right woman.

    He is a tall, athletic man with cropped, George Clooney-style hair who projects a kind and upbeat persona; surely a catch to some women in Fort Collins.

    When he walks in the front door after a weekend trip or a run or a bike ride, he often puts a commemorative baseball cap on his coat rack, and now, about three dozen hats cover the rack, with no apparent space for a purse or a diaper bag.

    It’s an interesting read. They start from the position that marriage is some inevitability that one must exert great effort to avoid (it’s not). They also don’t take into consideration the happy loner theory, nor active misanthropy. They all but call women genetically programmed golddiggers.

    Comments Off on Annoyances from the New York Times
  • Society,  Web

    Best selling artists

    I recently stumbled upon this list of top selling artists of all time. While it was pretty much what I expected there were some notable surprises, most notably, Leonard Cohen is in the top 20! He’s ahead of Mettalica, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Barbra Streisand and Bruce Springsteen.

    I then go to the Leonard Cohen page on Wikipedia, and see this quote:

    “I feel that, you know, the enormous luck I’ve had in being able to make a living, and to never have had to have written one word that I didn’t want to write, to be able to have satisfied that dictum I set for myself, which was not to work for pay, but to be paid for my work. Just to be able to satisfy those standards that I set for myself has been an enormous privilege.”

    which is as good a theory of working I’ve seen in quite some time.

    Now readers, whose presence surprised you the most on the list of best selling artists? Comments are open.

  • Law,  Society

    Nighttime thinking

    It’s probably meaningful that I come across this article on Urban surveillance networks and this article on profiling on the same day. Both of them are worth reading.

    Consider the following statement.

    An overwhelming majority of Americans think that racial profiling is wrong. A lesser number think that racial profiling is not worth doing under ordinary circumstances, a smaller number think it’s not worth doing under any circumstance.

    The above is an accurate description of public sentiment when 100% of the factor is race. Gender and age are usually thrown in as well. The above still holds true.

    But what happens when race is one factor of 50 and the profiling is being done by a computer? Assume a surveillance server can determine, height, weight, approximate age, race, gender, posture, gait, clothes, et al. Does it become acceptable at that point?

    This line of thought reminds of the last Supreme Court affirmative action decision where it was said that it was wrong for people to discriminate, but fine for computers to do so.

    Comments Off on Nighttime thinking
  • Islam,  Society,  Terrorism

    Yet more London

    I came across an interesting column in the Times of London, specifically The act of small-time losers by Anatole Kaletsky. Similar in some ways to my earlier thoughts on the matter, different in others. Specifically

    In this sense, the most useful analogue for last week’s outrage in London may not be September 11 or even the bombing of Madrid last year, but the worst act of terrorism in postwar Western history before September 11: the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people in 1995. Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator, was, like the London bombers, a small-time loser who felt he was acting out of intense ideological and religious motives. He was a fervent white supremacist and belonged to an extensive network of neo-Nazi fanatics who are generally believed to number many thousands across the US. His commitment to an essentially religious doctrine — that a global Jewish conspiracy, using African-Americans as their subhuman foot-soldiers, was taking over the world and preparing to exterminate or enslave all white Christians — was every bit as sincere as the faith and “piety” of many jihadist terrorists.

    It certainly did not occur to anyone after the Oklahoma bombing to apologise for the racial desegregation which had provoked the American neo-Nazis and their ideological antecedents, the Ku Klux Klan. Nobody suggested abolishing affirmative action or banning Jews from public office on the grounds that racial mixing and the prominence of Jews was angering white supremacists and acting as “a recruiting sergeant” for more neo-Nazi terrorists who might copy McVeigh.

    Should the political sensitivities and religious aspirations of jihadist killers be treated with any greater respect? The answer is clearly, no.


    Just as conservative America totally isolated the white supremacists and neo-Nazis after the bombings in Oklahoma, the rational Muslim community in Britain must be forced to reject completely the small minority of Wahhabi fanatics who boast that they “love death”. Only then can there be any hope of restoring respect for human life in the Islamic community and reducing the concept of martyrdom to what it really amounts to: a sad, lonely and utterly futile suicide.

    While the entire column is well worth reading I do object to a few points. The final paragraph can easily be taken to mean that white supemacists and neo-Nazis were an integral part of conservatism in America, which hasn’t been true in my lifetime (outside of Mississippi I suppose). The second point is that it ignores the proportions and locations.

    The Wahhabi fanatics are part of the Muslim community in Britain, probably a very small percentage. For a round number, call it one percent. Compare that to the percentage of neo-nazis in the white community, where I would imagine it is less than one percent of one percent. Also, from what I’ve read British Muslims are concentrated in cities where the intimidation power of a commited minority is likely to be greater. The likely “conservative white” (to follow Kaletsky’s logic) supporters were more suburban and rural where I would imagine the power of a commited minority is lessened by distance.

    Comments Off on Yet more London
  • Hoffer,  Society

    More Eric Hoffer

    I don’t remember the exact quotes but the both these are from The True Believer (I think)

    • It is inherent in totalitarian societies to hide weakness and project strength, whereas free societies inherently project weakness and hide strength. ConvertToSteve(This will forever cause misjudgment and bizarre decisions to be made when one deals with the other.)
    • American can never hate foreigners because they feel sorry for them.
  • GPS,  Links,  Mapping,  Society

    Wednesday Rapid Fire

    • Yahoo News with Yahoo Maps – I’ll give Google 5 days to do this too. HT: Make
    • Google Maps with Transparencies – HT: Make
    • A glut of flat screen technology – which would be cool.
    • Google Maps Walking Distance
    • New MS Money
    • Mencken

      “All the extravagance and incompetence of our present Government is due, in the main, to lawyers, and, in part at least, to good ones. They are responsible for nine-tenths of the useless and vicious laws that now clutter the statute-books, and for all the evils that go with the vain attempt to enforce them. Every Federal judge is a lawyer. So are most Congressmen. Every invasion of the plain rights of the citizens has a lawyer behind it. If all lawyers were hanged tomorrow, and their bones sold to a mah jong factory, we’d be freer and safer, and our taxes would be reduced by almost a half.”

    • Tom G Palmer has some nice words about Admiral Stockdale, clearly the classiest guy to run for national office in quite some time.
    • Yet another review of Freakonomics, this time by James Q Wilson, the authors are on the Charlie Rose program tonight. Money quote

      “…quoting someone whose name I have forgotten: social scientists should never try to predict the future; they have trouble enough predicting the past.”

    Comments Off on Wednesday Rapid Fire
  • Economics,  Society

    Live 8

    A very good post from the Agitator about this current foolishness

    It’s all the more perverse when you consider that corporate farms in Europe, Japan, and the U.S. are a big reason why Africa remains so poor. In heavily subsidized crops like cotton and corn, farmers in these countries can sell their crop on the international market for less than what it costs them to grow it. There’s simply no way poor farmers in emerging economies can compete with that. So lavish subsidies in rich countries keep poor countries from competing, which in turn keeps them poor. The rich countries feel guilty, so they sap taxpayers to come up with aid projects that don’t work, and really only benefit the exact same industries that benefit from the subsidies. All the while, each time public aid does fail, it makes private donors think Africa’s a lost cause, and therefore makes them less likely to give. Which is tragic, because private aid does seem to work. It’s more likely to find its way around the corruption, and hit the people who need it.

    Which brings us back to Live 8. The whole purpose of the event, Geldoff kept telling us, was not to raise private funds for Africa. Rather, it was to encourage the citizens of developed countries to lobby their governments for more public aid. Oh, and also to make spoiled rock stars feel better about their respective social consciences.

    There is also this very good post from Josh Trevino who’s reporting on the G-8 protesters

    But the true believers exist, and they are capable of organizing themselves. A counterintuitive thing, one would think, but the anarchist/hard left capacity for assembling at set times and doing set things is a well-proven one. Just like libertarians availing themselves of public services, the contraindicating intersection of reality and ideology is often employed, but never acknowledged. As at Seattle, DC, and Genoa, so too Edinburgh: the city is overrun in a well-planned influx from across the developed, Western, wealthy world to protest developed, Western, wealthy things.

    Comments Off on Live 8
  • Africa,  Society

    Live Aid / Live Eight

    I came across a very interesting article in the Prospect (UK) about the original Live Aid funds. It touches on a corrolary to what I believe is Friedman’s Law, to wit the government can’t give anything away.

    But did the mobilisation of public opinion through celebrity endorsement really play the positive role with which it is now credited? To ask this question is emphatically not to turn hagiography on its head and to demonise either Geldof or Live Aid. There is no smoking-gun evidence demonstrating that Live Aid achieved nothing, or only did harm. But there is ample reason to conclude that Live Aid did harm as well as good. It is also arguable that Live Aid may have done more harm than good.


    With the exception of MSF, what neither the relief world in general, nor the UN, nor Geldof and his Live Aid team have ever come to terms with is that the Mengistu regime—finally ousted in 1991—also committed mass murder in the resettlement programme in which Live Aid monies were used and in which NGOs that benefited from Live Aid funding were active. The Dergue was in control, and it did with the UN and the NGOs what the Nazis did with the International Committee of the Red Cross: it made them unwilling collaborators.

    A very interesting article. I had no ideas of the similarities to the Ukranine in the 30s. RTWT.

    Comments Off on Live Aid / Live Eight