Friday, March 23, 2007

Dead Conservatives

Peggy Noonan writes on the "Weeping Reagan" Time magazine cover:
Could I be correct that they only front-page weeping Republicans, and only laud conservatives when they're dead?
Peg o' My heart, you are completely correct.

Old, dead Republicans are kind of wonderful:
Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element.
Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today’s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.
Hey! Time passes. The 1980s are the 21st century's 1950s.

An Ever-Constricting Circle

Dean Barnett reflects on living with a progressive illness in wake of the news about John and Elizabeth Edwards:
THROUGH THE YEARS, I’VE COME TO VIEW SERIOUS and progressive illness as an ever constricting circle with oneself at the center. The interior of the circle represents the contents of one’s life. As the circle gets smaller, things that were inside get forced out. Some of these things are dearly missed; other items that were once thought precious get forced to the exterior and turn out to go surprisingly unlamented.

At the innermost point of the circle are the things that really matter: Family, faith, love. These things stay with you until the day that you die. At the very end, because the circle has shrunk down to its center, they’re all you have left.

But as we approach that end, we finally realize that all along they were what mattered most. As a consequence, life often remains beautiful and worthwhile right up until the end.
I have dealt with the passing of siblings, cousins and one parent, but I've never had the experience of the long twilight of a progressive illness. I do pray for the Edwards.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle

Please don't ask me about global warming. This program should be required viewing in all schools.


We've all heard the jape: "The lottery is a tax on doing poorly in high school math class;" or Annie Libowitz's line, "Your odds of winning the lottery are almost the same whether or not you buy a ticket."

Benedict Carey has a smart essay over at the New York Times about why people play the lottery. Here's the line that gave me the "Aha!" moment:

“The people who denigrate lottery players are like 10-year-olds who are disgusted by the idea of sex: they are numb to its pleasures, so they say it’s not rational,” said Lloyd Cohen, a professor of law at George Mason University and author of an economic analysis, “Lotteries, Liberty and Legislatures,” who is himself a gambler and a card counter.

Dr. Cohen argues that lottery tickets are not an investment but a disposable consumer purchase, which changes the equation radically. Like a throwaway lifestyle magazine, lottery tickets engage transforming fantasies: a wine cellar, a pool, a vision of tropical blues and white sand. The difference is that the ticket can deliver.

And as long as the fantasy is possible, even a negligible probability of winning becomes paradoxically reinforcing, Dr. Cohen said. “One is willing to pay hard cash that it be so real, so objective, that it is actually calculable — by someone, even if not oneself,” he said.

Exactly! A ticket in the $390 million lottery is not about an expectation of winning (not to a rational player), it's just a ticket to a daydream about what you would | could | should do if you won. It's a tenth the cost of a ticket to the movies and it plays behind my eyelids as I wait in the ferry line.


Years (the early 1980s) ago I worked with a chap who had written a pretty cool software package that would do some interesting mathematics stuff, freeing users from some pencil-and-paper drudgery. He was pretty honked about people giving copies of his code to their friends, denying him the royalties. I asked him what he thought was at the heart of this crime (for crime it was), and he said:
"Anonymity. If people could rob banks with the anonymity that they swipe my hard work, this country's economy would collapse tomorrow."
The older I get, the more I agree with him. That made this comment from Greg Gutfield resonate strongly with me:
“After a few years of blogging, I've hit on one essential truth: there are millions of cowards willing to say things about you online that they'd never say to you in a bar...Blogging has created a chorus line of cowards."

-Greg Gutfield

Friday, March 09, 2007


Several bloggers have posted this video by the Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace of their attempts to block a shipment of military equipment from the Port of Tacoma to Iraq.

The opening seconds of the video have someone (perhaps the camera operator?) chanting "No justice, no peace," so lifelessly that it sounds like a George A. Romero movie.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Seven Words

InstaPunk proposed an experiment :
"I propose an exercise to be perfomed by those who have the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this: Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George Carlin's infamous '7 Dirty Words.'"
Patrick Ishmael at Bit Bucket responds:
And this is what I found, using what I deemed -- through a mix of TTLB and 2006's Weblog Award lists -- to be the 18 biggest Lefty blogs, and 22 biggest Righty blogs. I couldn't account for the 6-month time period, and I even gave the Lefty blogs a 4 blog advantage. But it didn't make much of a difference.

So how much more does the Left use Carlin's "seven words" versus the Right? According to my calculations, try somewhere in the range of 18-to-1.

But this was obvious to anybody who reads the blogs. (Not to denigrate Mr. Ishmael's work, it was smart and necessary.)

The left side of the political blogosphere is really not a friendly place, nor is it a place to air differences and follow reason to a conclusion. It is a place to demonstrate your authenticity by demonstrating your anger. Once again:
“New Anger is a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted....If in your anger you reduce your opponent to the status of someone unworthy or unable to engage in legitimate exchange, real politics comes to an end....Whoever embraces New Anger is bound to find that, at least in the political realm, he has traded the possibility of real influence for the momentary satisfactions of self-expression.”

Newt takes Manhattan

It looks as though Newt's refusing to announce that he is a candidate is crazy like a fox.

Just as the Hillary-Obama dustup was settling down, John McCain puts his foot in his mouth.

Meanwhile, Newt delivers "a scathing and often hilarious" speech at New York’s Cooper Union.

Newt is avoiding:
  • Bringing his (unofficial) campaign under F.E.C. financing guidelines.
  • Being the in the focus of the media microscope for gaffes.
  • Wearing everyone out with the same old stump speech.
If the primary campaigns on the right become even half as vicious as the ones on the left, he is going to look pretty good in September.

Iowahawk EcoPals Network

Holy smokes, this is funny.

The constant reader knows that my minivan (Orinoco) is without bumperstickers. This will change. I printed out a few of these and I'm going to wear them proudly.

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