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Wednesday, July 21, 2010
 
Unpopular Science
I've always felt some affection for the old Popular Science feature Wordless Workshop, a cartoon that would teach you how to spend twelve hours building an impractical solution to a ten-second annoyance.

I hadn't seen a copy of PopSci (as it now irritatingly markets itself) for many years, but I picked one up at the doctor's office the other day.

In what I guess is a modern-day version of WW, we now get -- well, you guessed it. A cartoon that will teach you how to spend twelve hours building an impractical solution to a ten-second annoyance.

Except now it's gone high-tech. Here's what I mean:

Yep, all the guy had to do is buy $40 worth of electronic components to build a voice amplifier so that he could alert the guy ahead of him that the light is green. Why didn't he just tap his horn? Or yell?

We also don't see the next few panels, where our hero tries this on a gun-toting paranoiac with anger-management issues.


 
Yep, It's A Head-Scratcher, All Right
Economic Lysenkoist J.D. Foster has a beef with President Obama's criticism of the latest bit of Republican obstructionism:
With a vote on a $33.9 billion extension of jobless benefits pending in the Senate, Obama’s attack is to charge Republicans with opposing the extension. Why would he do that, given that congressional Republicans have stated repeatedly that they support the extension?

Um, maybe because they're filibustering it?

Maybe because they declare that the extension has to be deficit-neutral but that tax cuts for the rich don't have to be?

Maybe because they don't offer any changes to the bill that would make it deficit-neutral, but simply declare their opposition?

Maybe because these "supporters" are saying things like this:


"Continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work," Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said during a floor debate this spring.

Republican Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said on CNN on Monday that some economists had warned there could be a "moral hazard" in prolonged aid to jobless Americans.

I know these clowns have to spin for their own side, but you have to ask yourself: who the hell are they trying to convince?


Saturday, July 10, 2010
 
Replenishing The Crazy Supply
I usually ignore whatever idiocies Rush Limbaugh is spewing, but I think this is too troubling a symptom of our current political mess to ignore.
I think we face something we've never faced before in the country -- and that is, we're now governed by people who do not like the country, who do not have the same reverence for it that we do. Our greatest threat (and this is saying something) is internal... That word 'payback' is not mine, [but] it is exactly how I think Obama looks at the country: It's payback time... There's no question that payback is what this administration is all about, presiding over the decline of the United States of America, and doing so happily.

Liberals accused Bush of all kinds of things during his two terms in office -- stupidity, arrogance, incompetence, mendacity. But they never accused him of treason, nor of a deliberate campaign to destroy the country.

You might argue that Limbaugh is an entertainer, not a serious political commentator. And I'm sure that's what Limbaugh will argue when some crackpot picks up a gun and decides that it's his patriotic duty to shoot the President of the United States.

But I fear that what we're seeing here is the same climate that produced the Oklahoma City bombing: a daily torrent of apocalyptic lunacy and conspiratorial rubbish, refreshed daily by an opportunistic gang of sunshine patriots. And it's aimed right at the most radical and unstable elements in our society.


Friday, July 09, 2010
 
Mister, We Could Use A Man Like Urban VIII Again
Never let it be said that National Review Online isn't on the cutting edge of scientific inquiry. Today Rich Lowry recycled an old Jonah Goldberg piece which proclaimed that Galileo wasn't persecuted by the Church, but by other scientists (you know how they are). The Church, according to Jonah, didn't agree with the persecution and felt really bad about it; that's why they commuted his sentence of life in prison to house arrest. You see, house arrest was actually a reward; that's where Galileo did his best work!

Lowry then printed reader emails pointing out that the medieval Church wasn't anti-science -- heaven forfend! Galileo wasn't imprisoned because of his scientific theories, but because he spoke out against Church teaching.

Of course, Church teaching had the Sun going round the Earth, but really, there was a strict separation of Church and State. He had every right to believe it; he just couldn't say it.

This line of argument is reminiscent of another conservative trope: that the Civil War wasn't about slavery, but rather state's rights.

Yeah, okay, state's rights to legalize slavery. So? What's your point?


Thursday, July 08, 2010
 
Sign Of The Times
The National Review Online places scare quotes around the word science.

Cause you know, that's the garbage libtards believe in.


Sunday, July 04, 2010
 
Happy Independence Day!
America, you're one resilient country. You survived a bloody fight for independence, a devastating civil insurrection, the moral wounds of African slavery and native genocide, two world wars, a cold war, two depressions, Jim Crow laws, stagflation, Three's Company and two terms of the Bush Administration.

And think of all the things you've contributed to the world: baseball, Duke Ellington, the iPod, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, the Ford Thunderbird, George Gershwin, Artie Shaw, Herman Melville, the 40-hour work week, the Harley-Davidson panhead, Groucho Marx, T.S. Eliot, the movie palace, and Rocket 88.

Happy birthday!


Friday, July 02, 2010
 
"That Wonderful Conservative Champion, Mel Gibson"

The news that Mel Gibson's girlfriend recorded him in the midst of an abusive, racist and foul-mouthed rant won't do much for his street cred among the family-values crowd. They don't talk as loudly about the guy as they used to. But they continued to carry water for him long after they should have known better.

Back in 2000, Mel Gibson was the cat's pajamas in conservative circles. When Mel's movies We Were Soldiers and The Patriot came in for some mild criticism from NRO bloggers, Contributing Editor Ben Domenech leaped to the barricades!

As is well known, NRO (and NR) stands firmly as the undisputed defender of all things conservative. Which is why it was shocking to read not one, but two articles this week that referred in unabashedly negative terms to that wonderful conservative champion, Mel Gibson.....

Gibson isn't just a good conservative because of his work onscreen — married to his wife Robyn for 20 years, a devoted Catholic and father of seven children, Gibson has distinctly avoided the pull of the Hollywood scene, speaking out on the importance of family and faith in modern culture despite being routinely named as one of the "Most Beautiful People." In a recent interview, Gibson criticized the "culture of divorce" that plagues celebrities: "There's nothing more important than your family . . . If you ruin that part of your life, what's left? Work, money, screwing around? I see a lot of people living like that who tell themselves they're having a good time, but if you look under the surface, you only see corpses masquerading as human beings." Gibson added, "It's my duty to be a good husband and father, and that's probably the only thing in life that I take seriously."

A good actor, a good father, and a good conservative — Mel Gibson is a rarity worth hailing in this day and age.

Four years later Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ was criticized by some Jewish groups as blatantly anti-Semitic -- simply a movie version of the medieval passion plays that were used for centuries to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment. Not so! shouted the National Review, which -- perhaps deciding that the task of painting Jews as crybabies on the subject of anti-Semitism is best approached delicately -- recruited Rabbi Daniel Lapin to pen the following jaw-dropping words:

I believe the attacks on Mel Gibson are a mistake because while they may be in the interests of Jewish organizations who raise money with the specter of anti-Semitism, and while they may be in the interests of Jewish journalists at the New York Times and elsewhere who are trying to boost their careers, they are most decidedly not in the interests of most American Jews who go about their daily lives in comfortable harmony with their Christian fellow citizens. You see, many Christians see all this as attacks not just on Mel Gibson alone or as mere critiques of a movie, but with some justification in my view, they see them as attacks against all Christians.

You see, even if you sincerely think you're attacking anti-Semitism (which you're probably not), what you're really doing is attacking Christians. And attacking Christians leads to more anti-Semitism. When will those self-hating Jews at the Anti-Defamation League and the New York Times stop rocking the boat?

Right now, the most serious peril threatening Jews, and indeed perhaps all of Western Civilization, is Islamic fundamentalism. In this titanic 21st-century struggle that links Washington, D.C. with Jerusalem, our only steadfast allies have been Christians. In particular, those Christians that most ardently defend Israel and most reliably denounce anti-Semitism, happen to be those Christians most fervently committed to their faith. Jewish interests are best served by fostering friendship with Christians rather than cynically eroding them. Rejecting flagrant anti-Christianism on the part of Jews claiming to be acting on our behalf would be our wisest course as a community.

Got that? Criticizing The Passion of the Christ for its anti-Semitism is not just wrong-headed and cynical, it's also an attack on Israel.

Bet you didn't see that coming.

When it was noted that Gibson's father is a notorious anti-Semite and prominent Holocaust-denier, NRO's Rod Dreher was indignant:

I find it appalling that some are holding against him Mel Gibson's
refusal to publicly disavow his Holocaust-denying father. If my father held
the same beliefs, I would give him hell behind closed doors, and I would not
defend him in public. But I would, as a matter of personal honor, never
allow myself to be put in a position of condemning him in front of others.

Dreher, amusingly, invites us to imagine Gibson confronting his father behind closed doors, giving him hell about his anti-semitic proclamations. Of course, he offers no reason for us to believe that such a thing ever happened or would ever happen.

He then goes on a puzzling detour, so that he can take a nasty swipe at-- the Meeropol brothers??

I would be squeamish if the Meeropol kids,
the offspring of executed commie spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, trashed
their parents in public (as distinct from actually defending their parents,
which would be immoral). But then again, Hollywood and the media elite would
never ask them to.

The Meeropols, of course, famously defended their parents against charges of treason. The boys were very small when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of treason and sentenced to death. The brothers believed (at least until old Soviet-era files implicating their parents were released in the 1990s) that their parents were innocent, that they'd been set up by David Greenglass who was himself trying to stay out of the electric chair. I wouldn't blame any child in that situation for believing the same thing.

Dreher might be suggesting that the Meeropols never honestly believed that their parents were innocent. That would be odd, since a) there is no evidence for it and b)it has nothing to do with his argument. Or maybe he's comparing the Meeropol's behavior after their parents were convicted and executed to Mel's behavior after his father was convicted and executed.

But wait, when was Gibson's father convicted and executed? He wasn't? So perhaps Dreher is suggesting that Mel Gibson believes that his father is innocent of being a Holocaust-denier (you start to see what a stretch these people were making in Gibson's defense).

Nevertheless, after Mel's drunken anti-Semitic rant in 2006, directed at representatives of L.A. law enforcement, making excuses for Gibson became more problematic. Jonah Goldberg conceded, in a mealy-mouthed sort of way,that "it's hard to take seriously" the idea that Gibson "doesn't have some hang-ups about Jews", (Really? Ya think?) but Goldberg was still willing to float the idea "that he was never anti-Semitic until he was villified for making the Passion".

I guess we can call the the Rabbi Lapin theory: anti-Semitism is caused by people pointing out anti-Semitism.

Which brings us to April of 2009, when family man Mel, who publicly eschewed the shallow, licentious lifestyle of the Hollywood set, announced that his girlfriend was pregnant only six weeks after his wife filed for divorce.

All the loquacious bloggers at The Corner looked the other way. And now, Gibson's profanity-laced, racist tirade is yielding only the sound of crickets from the pages of NRO. Where's Ben Domenech when you need him?



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