Monday, February 28, 2005

I'm reluctant to comment on this, but the past 24 hours in Lebanon have seen some strange and interesting twists: There have been protests all day long. The government has resigned. The Syrian regime is badly exposed and cornered. And a Pentagon source is quoted as saying, “Likely, Syria's meddling in Iraq and the upcoming Lebanese elections will provide sufficient trigger for some 'coalition' action. That action may well have an 'Iraqi' face.”

My prediction? The Syrians will blink. I have no idea what that might mean for the region. As my foreign policy friends are quick to say, as soon as you think you've got something figured out, it all goes in a different direction.

Here's some very interesting commentary and predictions from someone way smarter than me.
Bonds moved up today, and the week end jobs report is expected to be strong. So guess what will be going up by the end of the week? That's right, interest rates.
My hometown happens to be Amsterdam, Holland, or as I like to call it, "That filthy shithole my daddy had the good sense to move his family out of."
Holland has big problems these days, nearly all of them of their own making: a death-spiral birth rate, an unsustainable state welfare give-away system, the most absurdly open immigration policy imaginable, and an un-assimilated, radicalized Muslim underclass.
So is there hope for Holland? I'm quite pessimistic; I think the multi-culti pieties of Dutch political correctness leave the Dutch unable to save themselves from themselves.

Here's a NYT article detailing the flight of the Dutch.

Here's an article detailing Dutch attempts to push back at current trends.

Here's some advise from Mickey Kaus: "A practical lesson from the U.S. for the Dutch? Of the two preconditions, welfare is probably the easiest to change first (though of course you want to try to change both). End perceived freeloading on welfare--as our 1996 welfare reform at least partially did--and you then have a much better shot at diminishing prejudice. You've attacked one of its 'root causes,' if you will."

Here are some relevant comments from Mark Steyn: "Progressive secular welfarism is a great life - but only for a generation or two. After that, it’s a death cult."

Friday, February 25, 2005

How central to human nature is the pursuit of happiness? Can happiness be measured? Can happiness include the pleasure we experience watching others be happy? At what point does wealth no longer contribute to happiness?

The answers to these questions and many others can be found in this happy little essay.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Sweden has long thought of itself as a "moral superpower", though I suspect the Poles, the Jews, and the Norwegians, among others, would strongly disagree in the cold light of Swedish behavior during the period 1939-45. Regardless, Swedish immigration policy is harshly testing Swedish values.

And as long I'm on the subject of Sweden, I might as well link to this article too: Go ahead tax us! We love it! We're Swedes!
A good book review on what sounds like a very good book: Governments may meddle in our lives to make us more happy. But what if we value freedom over happiness?
This article detailing a global economic upsurge is certainly good news, and I'm not at all skeptical of its accuracy. I do think, however, that sectors within any economy can remain weak. The dark underside of a robust economy? Why higher interest rates, of course.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A couple of weeks ago, I had put up a post regarding the likelihood of a Japanese nuclear program. This very interesting article also makes reference to Japan's nuke ambitions. Some parts of the article seem overly optimistic to me, and some parts seem overly pessimistic. But I'm certainly no expert...
Professor Bainbridge has been following events in the New London vs. Kelo case, and today he makes the same observation I made yesterday about it all seeming a little too Stalinist/Soviet.

To me, the question is, "Is your stuff yours?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I watched Napoleon Dynamite a couple of weeks ago, and I liked it enough to watch again with my daughter. Roger Ebert didn't care for the movie so much, and Jim Treacher tells Ebert exactly where his views are incorrect, while extolling Napoleon's many fine virtues.
The Supreme Court finally got the Kelo vs. New London eminent domain case today. The circumstances surrounding New London's use of the eminent domain law should make everyone involved at least a little bit squeamish. Boiled down, the city is attempting to take land for private economic development. Am I the only one that thinks that sounds Stalinist?

What the Supreme Court needs is a couple of Libertarian justices. This guy would be perfect, and this guy would be pretty darn good too.

Professor Bainbridge has a nice roundup and some clear headed thoughts on the case.
Could somebody please read this headline and let me know what our neighbors to the north could possibly be thinking?

Monday, February 21, 2005

My very good friend Dan Guachione, President of Curve Pictures in Manhattan, has an outstanding pictorial of Christo's "Gates" in Central Park. Take a few minutes to surf through Dan's photograhs; it's great stuff.

Here's a fine review of "The Gates" from The New Yorker.
Uh blogstorm swelling just over the horizon, and this one will fall on New York Congressman Charles Hinchey. I suspect, however, that because there is video and audio already out in the media, that this will pass with no career ending episode or even lingering effect: there can be no stonewalling or cover-up. He'll apologize, back off his absurd remarks, and everyone moves on. Too bad Rather and Eason Jordan didn't realize that.

Here's more...and here's a comment from Roger Simon.
Hunter S. Thompson, gonzo journalist, is dead, apparently by his own hand. Here's the Denver Post report, and here's the report from Thompson's home town, the Aspen Daily News.

I remember reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when I was about 16, and it stood me on my head the same way Kerouac did. Lileks has some thoughts that better reflect my adult perspective.

Here's Thompson's final article; amusing to the end. But it could no longer be considered great writing, unfortunately. Like many writers, musicians, and artists of the 60's era, he hit his high water mark and was never able to sustain it. Tragic ending to an interesting life.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The latest Rasmussen Poll is out, and it focuses on the United Nations. The numbers, to be polite, do not flatter. Rasmussen reports that "Thirty-seven-percent (37%) of Americans have a favorable opinion of the United Nations." That's clever and deceptive phrasing. By using the word "favorable", they hide the glaringly obvious corollary, which is that 63% view the U.N. unfavorably. Any Beatles fan will recognize this as taking a sad song and making it better.

It's time to take the entire Manhattan block of buildings that house the UN, tie it to tug barges, and haul it off to Havana. Or Brussels. Somewhere where the local citizenry don't so much mind an unelected, unrepresentative, elitist cabal that run things like plundering plutocrats.

I don't remember voting for Kofi Annan and his gang of thieves.
The always helpful Frank J has updated his occasional "Know Thy Enemy" segment with this informative list. A dystopian future, indeed.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

It's carnival time! Like any good carnival, there's something for everyone:

Soccer Dad is hosting the Carnival of the Vanities.

The Education Wonks are hosting the Carnival of Education, where cafeteria food seems to be good food.

And Simon World is hosting, believe it or not, the Carnival of new Blogs. They seem to be working from an outdated list, however, as I'm conspicuously absent from the roll. Maybe next time...

What's next, a Carnival of Canadians...? um, well, yes.
Meet my wife's hero...hey, maybe that is my wife...
An invasion gone horribly awry: kicked to the pavement in a fit of post-prandial aggression. Read the whole thing; it's a scream.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Has the abstract "evil" we've heard so much about revealed its face? Tim Cavanaugh over at Reason Online seems to think so.
Young soccer players living in the affluent suburbs have become quite spoiled in terms of the quality of available fields...this should serve as a reminder of the extreme lengths some go to for a playing field.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Sacrificing Jordan. Just read this, and forget everything else.
(And that really is the very last post on the subject from me, ever.)
Richard Nacht has a great post in which he calls out Quicken Loans self-serving "advise" to refinance every year. He notes the importance of reducing debt as you approach retirement, which is much better advise.
Here's an update of the German referee scandal: one ref is denied release and held in jail, while yet another ref is suspended. Looks like they're rounding up the initial gambling ring that was behind this too.

In another refereeing development, a Turkish game has been ordered to be replayed after the ref admitted to making a mistake. If this trend catches on, we'll be replaying games forever.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I know I had promised to drop the Eason Jordan matter, but his resignation last night is a big enough deal for one final post. In the end, it wasn't his comments that did him in, it was the stonewalling and the cover-up. And doesn't that always seem to be the case...
But the real reason I'm commenting on this is to point out how MainStreamMedia, once again, completely dropped the ball on what should have been a major story. Now major media finds itself reporting on the consequences of a story it refused to cover in the first place. Laughable.

Here's the Scrappleface version of events. Like a coal car into the ground, indeed.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Here's an update to my earlier post about the North Korean we-have-nukes-so-you-better-not-mess-with-us announcement: Donald Sensing has thoughts that pretty much mirror my own. Note particularly the link to the possible likelihood of a Japanese nuke program.
Now this is an idea that makes sense to me: the Nobel Peace Prize for the Iraqi voters.
Money quote:
"They have already won the world's peace prize by demonstrating in a single day a commitment not seen in our lifetime to peace, self-determination and human rights--the goals for which the Nobel Peace Prize began in 1901. Formal recognition by the Nobel Committee of what the Iraqi people did on Jan. 30 would do more to ensure the furtherance of these goals, in concrete ways, than any other imaginable recipient this year. Who did more?"

It's the no-brainer of the year.
Arthur Miller who had been hailed as America's greatest living playwright has passed away at age 89. When I first moved to Los Angeles to study writing, I was handed several of his works and none would disappoint. "Death of a Salesman" is what he was known for, but it's only a sample of his amazing career.
So North Korea announces they have nukes. Well, lahdeedah. Old news. Very old news. I can't imagine there was anyone left on the planet that didn't know the North had nukes.
So the real question is, of course, what's Kim Jong Il's game? It's a negotiating tactic, pure and simple.

Daniel Drezner asks the very question I'm asking...He includes some interesting links and a comments thread.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

I promise, this will be my last post on the CNN/Eason Jordan story. You're either interested in following the story, or not. If you are, there are lots (and lots) of talented bloggers pursuing this relentlessly. I think the power of the blogosphere to carry a story and inform readers is as big a story as Easongate itself, if not bigger. When the blogosphere sets its sights on you, there's no hiding, as Dan Rather found out. Eason Jordan is just the newest example. There will be others.

That said, the Wall Street Journal picked up the item today, so it's officially passed over to major media. It's a short but scathing debunking of Jordan's initial claims.

And on this morning's Imus program, none other than Senator Dodd is called for the release of the transcripts. It's reached tipping point. Eason Jordan is finished.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Here's the BBC report of the Japan/North Korea match that gives plenty of political spin. "North Korean football paraphernalia"? Who knew?
Airline mileage awards and hotel points with your mortgage?? Well, why not? I can't see anyone taking a rate above market for miles and points, but all things being equal I can see this catching on.
It's a big day for World Cup qualifying; several interesting matchups on the schedule. The most closely watched game by non-soccer observers was the North Korea vs. Japan match. Japanese authorities had expected some crowd trouble, but it seems the game, a 2-1 win for Japan, went off smoothly. I'll scour some international sources for North Korea reactions to the game, and I'll post them as I find them. As I've noted earlier, news of any sort out of the North is scarce.
EASON JORDAN UPDATE: If you only get your news from MainStreamMedia you might not be aware of the scope of this story. Indeed, major media seems to be more interested in protecting one of it's own rather than reveal some ugly truths. Luckily, the blogosphere provides...

Here's Glenn Reynolds recent summation...

LaShawn Barber has been covering this story tirelessly, and has even set up a separate page on her site with all the updates as they occur...

Here's another top notch roundup...

Really bad news for Jordan: Scrappleface has posted a piece on the subject. When Scrappleface weighs in, you've pretty much jumped the shark, and you pretty much need to get out...

Just how bad is the story for CNN and Eason Jordan? Well, there is now an entire site dedicated to the story called...wait for it...wait for it...EASONGATE!!

James Lileks absolutely shreds a Hartford Courant writer, which admittedly is a not difficult task. I remember seeing the article a couple of weeks ago and doing a major eyeroll. I'm glad someone as talented as Lileks noticed and has taken the writer and the paper very much to task. Don't miss it.
Blogging has been light of late. As in nonexistant. I was away for business meetings late last week and never got back into the swing. About that: the Newport Viking Hotel my company was booked in didn't offer free internet access. Whaaa? Hotel proprieters: it's 2005. Keep up. I can get a free wireless hookup at the goodyear tire place, for crying out loud.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The fine PBS program "Frontline" is airing a special this Tuesday at 9 on the House of Saud. I know I'll be tuning in.
They do seem to come in three's: actor Ossie Davis passed away this morning at age 87.
Obit here. I remember him most fondly from Spike Lee's high water mark "Do the Right Thing", in which Davis played the role of "Da Mayor" with affection and aplomb.
Two important obituaries in the news this morning:
Max Schmeling, German boxing legend, is remembered in this fine article.
And Ernst Meyr, the man who made evolutionary biology a modern scientific discipline, passed away yesterday at the age of 100.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I understand that herds have a way of thinning themselves out, but this bit of news out of Connecticut's death row was even too much for a jaded cynic like me. It's straight out of Monty Python.
I had intended to link to this article previously, but it got buried beneath a thousand other readings. A new tyranny rears its head.
There's a blogstorm going on, and it's going to fall on Eason Jordan's head.
You can learn about it here, and here, and here, and here.

There is corruption in Mr. Eason's industry, and he's a big part of the problem.
German soccer icon Franz Beckenbauer is calling for the harshest penalties in the ongoing German referee game fixing scandals. He's demanding lifetime bans for all those found guilty. Germany is hosting the 2006 World Cup, so obviously German authorities are under pressure to get this cleaned up as quickly as possible. I suspect Beckenbauer's comments are part of an image fixing strategy.
Just in time for Super Bowl weekend, this week's Carnival of the Recipes, hosted by The Glittering Eye, is up. There's a grown up milk shake on the menu that I think warrants a taste test...

For those of you inclined toward more studious reading, the 2nd ever History Carnival is up. It's loaded with links to lots of great writings, including book reviews. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Even when you have good credit, you can have bad credit. I'll let Tanya from Loan Advocate explain.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For my first article I really didn't have to look very far. Man U. and Arsenal seems to have a little bit of Varitek and A-Rod in every match and this one didn't disappoint. Check your local listings, you don't want to miss this one. It's the Red Sox vs. Yankees of the English Premiership!
If it's true, as Thoreau famously said, that "Men lead lives of quiet desperation", then is it true that "women lead lives of noisy fulfillment"?
Philosophy, it seems, is all around us.
Guest blogger Nick "Winners Only" Cacace will be a regular contributor on this site. Effectively immediately. Or whenever I can master the technology sufficiently to get him up and blogging.
Nick will be blogging from his place in Hollywood, California, or as he likes to call it, "The belly of the Beast". I rather suspect Nick will be posting, um, shall we say "edgier" material. So you're warned.

Whatever you do, don't make "Winners Only" Nick have to stop by and hit you with his Winners Stick.

Welcome Nick!
The acute and acerbic Christopher Hitchens, whose writings I have followed for years, offers a great article today on what we should all agree is an "ex-analogy".
I've avoided blogging about this issue specifically; there are thousands if not millions of places that cover this stuff better than I ever could. Regardless, the article is too good not to post.
A dark side? The "tolerant" Dutch? Never! Well, maybe.