"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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Sometimes you have to break a few eggs

To a certain way of thinking, it is intuitive that antisocial personality traits predict utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas. I am a little surprised at the apparent absence of self-knowledge and critical introspection among those reacting to the findings, with the researchers denying the validity of their own results and some of the commenters expressing outrage that such doubleplus ungood thoughts could be expressed (thankfully none of them proposed that these socially non-constructive researchers be forcibly re-educated, for the common good.)

(Via Instapundit.)

October 1, 2011   Comments Off

Bill Clinton wants you to remember his achievements…

… and then he gets this lousy ad juxtaposition. Can’t catch a break. From Bill Clinton wants more credit – James Hohmann – POLITICO.com

Not a targeted ad, I’ve never seen it before and I don’t smoke or search for cigars online.

(Via Drudge.)

October 1, 2011   Comments Off

Hang together, or just hang

There is so much news to process as things fall apart. I feel like I could spend the whole day reading and by the end of the day events will have rendered half the facts obsolete. Here in Iraq, I spend an hour and a half to two hours teaching math on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and I feel exhausted by the end of those days. I have no idea, none, how I managed to hang on through the same class for six weeks, teaching six days a week, not three last November and December. That whole time seems like a blur to me, and it was some of my busiest time during my “day job” as well.

Well, at least John Ellis has time to read and ask the right questions. He is consistently very good on the financialization crisis. My news reader’s gutter of “to read” articles is consistently of links from his blog.

Looming over the financial crisis of the developed world is the larger question of social cohesion. Given what is coming (higher taxes, sharply reduced services and a much diminished sense of financial security), do countries hold together or do they come apart. Clearly, “social cohesion” is being tested in Greece. The Irish, on the other hand, are holding together well, at least so far.

The social cohesion of the United States will soon be tested. Higher taxes and sharply reduced services are coming soon. Expectations of a brighter future are evaporating. The question that hangs out there is whether we are Greece or Ireland.

(From “Social Cohesion“, via Ellisblog!.)

May 12, 2010   Comments Off

Thatcher in the wry

I have a few chores to take care of tonight. I’ll simply leave this hilarious anecdote from Christopher Hitchens about Margaret Thatcher as excerpted by the neo-neocon:

…[T]he Tories were having a reception in the House of Lords in order to launch a crusty old book by a crusty old peer named Lord Butler, and there was a rumor that the new female leader of the Conservative Party would be among those present for the cocktails. I had written a longish article for The New York Times Magazine, saying in effect that, if Labour could not revolutionize British society, then the task might well fall to the right. I had also written a shorter piece for the New Statesman, reporting from the Conservative Party conference and saying in passing that I thought Mrs. Thatcher was surprisingly sexy. (To this day, I have never had so much anger mail, saying, in effect, “How could you?”) I felt immune to Mrs. Thatcher in most other ways…

Almost as soon as we shook hands on immediate introduction, I felt that she knew my name and had perhaps connected it to the socialist weekly that had recently called her rather sexy. While she struggled adorably with this moment of pretty confusion, I felt obliged to seek controversy and picked a fight with her on a detail of Rhodesia/Zimbabwe policy. She took me up on it. I was (as it happened) right on the small point of fact, and she was wrong. But she maintained her wrongness with such adamantine strength that I eventually conceded the point and even bowed slightly to emphasize my acknowledgment. “No,” she said. “Bow lower!” Smiling agreeably, I bent forward a bit farther. “No, no,” she trilled. “Much lower!” By this time, a little group of interested bystanders was gathering. I again bent forward, this time much more self-consciously. Stepping around behind me, she unmasked her batteries and smote me on the rear with the parliamentary order paper that she had been rolling into a cylinder behind her back. I regained the vertical with some awkwardness. As she walked away, she looked over her shoulder and gave an almost imperceptibly slight roll of the hip while mouthing the words “Naughty boy!”

I had and have eyewitnesses to this. At the time, though, I hardly believed it myself. It is only from a later perspective, looking back on the manner in which she slaughtered and cowed all the former male leadership of her party and replaced them with pliant tools, that I appreciate the premonitory glimpse—of what someone in another context once called “the smack of firm government”—that I had been afforded. Even at the time, as I left that party, I knew I had met someone rather impressive. And the worst of “Thatcherism,” as I was beginning by degrees to discover, was the rodent slowly stirring in my viscera: the uneasy but unbanishable feeling that on some essential matters she might be right.

(From “Political change: Hitchens encounters Margaret Thatcher as dominatrix“, via neocon.)

May 9, 2010   Comments Off

News weep

Reading the headline of the post, “How much for Newsweek?,” my first thought was: “liquidate the company and pay dividends to the shareholders.” Seriously, Newsweek? Why bother? There can’t be enough lobbies in America to keep that magazine going.

I don’t know what the solution is for this. These are certainly tricky economic times for everyone. But I do have a suggestion for the Washington Post. Why don’t they put their newspaper and Newsweek on sale together – a package deal? That seems somehow more appealing. Maybe Craigslist would buy them.

Perhaps that is a better idea. I’d guess that my suggestion isn’t feasible because the liabilities from outstanding pensions makes the whole enterprise underwater. Good riddance.

(From “Roger L. Simon » How much for Newsweek?“, via Instapundit.)

May 7, 2010   Comments Off

Iraq Shi’ite blocs ally against Allawi

This is, maybe, the worst outcome for the Iraqi elections.

Iraq’s two big Shi’ite political coalitions, one led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and one whose leaders have close ties to Iran, agreed on Tuesday on an alliance to form a single bloc in parliament, officials said… the union of Maliki’s State of Law, which took 89 seats in the March 7 parliamentary election, and the Iraqi National Alliance which won 70, could also heighten tension.

The Shi’ite parties have been trying to get as many candidates—and in some cases, actual election winners—disqualified as possible on the basis of Ba’athist ties. In principle I support de-Ba’athification but not when used as a political lever to shift the outcome of an election. My understanding is that this alliance may not be legal under the interpretation of parliamentary rules that were in place prior to the election.

Also, another reason to be grateful we don’t have a Parliament of the United States.

(From “Iraq Shi’ite blocs to join forces in parliament
| Reuters

May 6, 2010   Comments Off


Since the Times Square bomber’s father was Pakistani military, I wonder if the conspiracy theory will emerge that it was an inside job, an intended failed plot, to make anti-terrorism enforcement look good—a sort of Christmas Bomber redemption. I had a similar thought about the BP oil rig explosion and the pending environmental legislation, and I started reading that the theory was gaining some traction a few days later.

The interrogators questioned Bahar Ul Haq in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. The retired senior Pakistani air force officer is the father of Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani-American suspect in the case.

(From “Shahzad’s father questioned in Times Square inquiry – CNN.com“)

May 6, 2010   Comments Off