Comments on politics, the culture, economics and religion by Paul Tuns -- in short, everything about the human endeavour from a non-hyphenated conservative perspective. I am Toronto-based writer and editor, whose articles, columns and reviews have appeared in more than 35 publications. I am editor-in-chief of The Interim, Canada's life and family newspaper, author of Jean Chretien: A Legacy of Scandal and a regular contributor to the book pages of the Halifax Herald.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Maybe dolphins aren't rapists
Dolphin Science Guy says "Head over to Google Scholar, however, and you will find exactly zero references to 'dolphin rape' in the scientific peer-reviewed literature." But that is because, as even DSG admits, scientists stopped using the term rape to describe behaviour within the animal kingdom in the 1980s. His post reads like The Onion as DSG begins by making the point that that rape has "moral and legal implications" that are irrelevant in the animal world yet even among "forced copulation aficionados" within the animal kingdom, dolphins don't qualify. DSG makes a distinction between "aggressive coercion" and "forced copulation" because the observed "coercion being described ... is indirect in that these tactics ultimately result in males persuading females to mate with them, but not directly forcing themselves on the females." I don't get how one draws too fine a distinction -- or how one ascertains the difference -- between coercion and forced copulation among animals.
Is eyeball licking really a fad?
Oh maybe -- it's apparently a Japanese thing? Decoded Science notes there are health risks: bacteria, herpes, pink eye, corneal ulcers.
The cost of fatherlessness in Britain
The Daily Mail: "The £49bn bill we pay for children who can't celebrate Father's Day: The devastating financial - and human - cost of our fatherless society." The Daily Mail reports:
The cost of our wild, unprecedented national experiment in fatherlessness is now £49 billion each year – more than the defence budget.This figure, currently costing each taxpayer £1,541 per year, is rising all the time, and has gone up by almost a quarter since 2009.The money partly goes on handouts and housing, which an old-fashioned family with a working father would not have needed.Partly it goes on trying to cope with crime, disorder, truancy, educational failure, physical and mental illness and general misery, which are so much more common among the fatherless than in those from stable homes.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Books for people who like comedy -- I'm not sold on the list or the idea
Newmark's Door points to "The Ultimate Comedy Library: 57 Books Every Comedy Fan Should Read," by Split Sider. I like the title of Darrel Hammond's memoir and this sounds pretty funny:
The Areas of My Expertise, More Information Than You Require, and That is All by John HodgmanIn his trilogy of complete world knowledge, deranged millionaire and Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman provides all the fake information you could possibly want, including a guide to New York City's underground league of mole people and a list of which presidents had hooks for hands.
I'm not interested in books in this genre (so-called humour writing, comedian biographies/memoirs, works of fiction by comedians) because I don't think comedy works very well in books. I have only read three of the books on this list. Other than a few histories (William Knoedelseder's I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era and Richard Zoglin's Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America), nothing on this 54-book list interests me. A 54-book must-read list is too large. I'd like to know what Kathy Shaidle thinks of this list and what her must-read list for comedy fans looks like.
Two questions for the 'I have nothing to hide' crowd
Don Boudreaux poses two questions:
1. Is your lack of concern with government snooping a result of your confidence that (a) you, your loved ones, and your friends consistently act in ways that do not violate (what you believe to be) today’s government policy; (b) government will seldom-enough err in interpreting the contents and motives of your, your loved ones’ and your friends’ activities; and (c) that today’s government policy targets and penalizes only those private activities that “ought” to be targeted and penalized by government? If so, are you also confident that government policy will never change to render those same activities of you, your loved ones, and your friends unacceptable to government tomorrow?2. Or is your lack of concern with government snooping due instead to your confidence that you, your loved ones, and your friends will always not only wish to – but will also always successfully and in time – adjust your activities in ways that render those activities acceptable to government, regardless of the specific contents and motives of whatever government policies reign at the moment?
Three and out
3. Bob Costas can be a skilled sports commentator, but more often he is just a jerk.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers rookie phenomenon Yasiel Puig has had an incredible and preposterous 479/500/771 line through his first 13 Major League Baseball games, which begs the question: is that the best start to begin a career? SB Nation's Bill Parker answers: maybe. Barker notes there is no easy one-stop-shopping for this type of research but using his metrics he found several slightly lesser comparables. Curtis Goodwin had a great 13-game start to his career in 1995 and you have to be a super serious baseball fan to remember him and his five-year career (and his 248/307/302 career line). Three years later Craig Wilson had a start more similar to Puig's, but his career was even shorter than Goodwin's. That doesn't mean that Puig will flame out; indeed, probably not considering he came to the Dodgers as a highly touted prospect. But neither will Puig be a career 479 hitter with a 1271 OPS. Fifty at-bats is a pretty small sample size. Still, as Barker notes, "it seems we've seen something that we've never quite seen before."
1. Finally: The Tampa Bay Rays call up Wil Myers. Finally: Zack Wheeler gets a start for the New York Mets.
Truth is stranger than conspiracy theory
The Daily Caller reports, "The doctor who compared abortion injections to a 'flu shot' received her medical training in Cuba, fully funded by the regime of Fidel Castro, and returned to the U.S. planning to advocate for universal health care, according to an interview she gave in 2007."
Globe attacks Hudak for not playing nice with McGuinty
The Globe and Mail editorializes today against Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak for his "attack" on former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty when the latter resigned his long-held seat at Queen's Park. Calling Hudak's comments "mean-spirited" the Globe says:
Even an opposition leader can, on occasion, be gracious, and an appropriate moment to demonstrate that is on the exit from public life of those they have vigorously opposed. He need not have showered Mr. McGuinty with praise, but there is a public expectation that, at such times, politicians will set aside their partisanship and will be, just a little, dignified.
It would have been nice for Hudak to show the same magnanimity that McGuinty showed upon leaving the provincial legislature when McGuinty thanked his opposition: "It would have reflected well on Mr. Hudak had the Progressive Conservative Leader shown some class, and reciprocated." It would have been nice, but would it have been honest? Hudak was asked by journalists to same something nice about the man he once faced regularly across the aisle at Queen's Park and he couldn't. The Globe says, "The dignity of the office Mr. McGuinty held, and our parliamentary democracy, merited something better." The office, our parliamentary democracy, and the taxpayers of Ontario deserved something better than getting stiffed with a $600 million bill (and counting) to save the asses of a half-dozen Liberal MPPs and having the premier's office try to avoid any political repercussions for the cynical move. But more importantly what the Globe is asking of Hudak is that he put on a show, to lie about the former premier's record. There is enough cynicism in politics without having erstwhile political opponents pretend to like and respect one another.
The GOP's suicide immigration bill: eliminating Rubio from 2016 consideration
Steve Deace, a nationally-syndicated talk show host, has a very good piece at Politico about Marco Rubio and the Republican Party suicide bill, aka the amnesty bill:
Most conservatives who either aren’t tied to Republican Party demolition man Karl Rove or interested in being so, believe as, Texas Rep. Steve Stockman believes. Stockman said on my show this week that if Rubio’s bill becomes law “you can kiss my state of Texas goodbye (for Republicans) as well as Arizona and Florida. It will be just like what happened in California after the ’86 amnesty.”
You ever wonder if Rove's agenda is to ensure that George W. Bush is the last Republican president? As more prescient political observers than Bush's adviser have long noted, Texas will become "in play" with amnesty and Arizona and Florida will go the way of unwinnable California. What is the Republican game plan in future presidential campaigns if they can't contest Arizona and Florida and are forced to fight for Texas?
Deace was Mike Huckabee's Iowa organizer in 2008 -- remember the former Arkansas governor's surprise caucus showing there five years ago? -- and he says that from his knowledge of the grassroots in the Hawkeye State, Marco Rubio is no longer a serious candidate because he has separated himself from the party's base on a major issue:
And if I know anything about the Iowa caucuses, it’s that Marco Rubio shouldn’t even bother showing up in 2016. Sure, if you ask state party officials and some other big names they’ll say all the politically correct things about Rubio’s chances publicly to preserve the process, plus Iowans are nice. But privately I’ve heard “Rubio is dead to me” from plenty of conservatives.I hope Rubio really believes in what the Heritage Foundation describes as a $6.3 trillion Democrat voter drive, which we refer to as “scamnesty” on my nationally-syndicated radio program, because it has cost him the presidency ...
Rubio has been given a lot of rope because he’s been solid on other issues and was seen as a potentially powerful symbol for conservatism. But in the end for grassroots conservatives, issues and principles trump symbolism, and on this issue Rubio has violated one of the prime directives of party politics — don’t score goals for the other team.
I have long warned that Marco Rubio is the Republican's Barack Obama: gives a good speech but doesn't have the accomplishments or experience to govern and he's given a free pass on this because of race. The GOP desperately wants a Hispanic to appear as a leader within the party. But the Establishment should be looking for leaders who aren't going to tick off a sizable chunk of the base, and hurt the party's long-term prospects by taking part in the recruitment of millions of Democratic voters. Considering how terrible the amnesty bill will be for Republicans perhaps Rove is a Democratic plant. (I'm joking. It is possible for strategists to give unimaginably awful advice.)
Obama's declining popularity
Mike Flynn of Breitbart states:
A new poll from CNN finds President Obama's approval dropping 8 points since May. Today, just 45% of Americans approve of his handling of the Presidency. 54% disapprove. Last month, 53% of adults approved of his performance. The dramatic drop is a clear sign that the scandals engulfing the Administration are taking a serious toll, just as his second term begins.
Or not. It might be too early to make such judgments.
CNN: "In response to Newtown shootings, some states move to put guns in classrooms." Proposed laws have been defeated in some states, but enacted in others (South Dakota, Alabama, Arizona, and Kansas join Texas in permitting teachers to carry). In most cases, the laws would allow teachers to have a concealed carry permit, although some states will train teachers. I generally think more guns make society safer, but I don't really trust teachers with them.
Good, not great ad against Kathleen Wynne
The Ontario Progressive Conservatives have a new ad out today connecting Premier Kathleen Wynne to the cancelled gas plants is a nice touch. The Tories have to show that this is a McWynnety government -- Wynne is in charge now, but it's the same as Dalton McGuinty's government. I think it works. Would like to see what Gerry Nicholls thinks about them.
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Happy Father's Day
To all the dads out there, have a Happy Father's Day.
Except to Orlando Shaw (HT: FFF):
Saturday, June 15, 2013
Is it a stretch to say that the Toronto Star might have incited this?
The Toronto Star reports, "A woman was arrested for allegedly throwing a drink at Mayor Rob Ford at the Taste of Little Italy event Saturday afternoon." The headline on the story, by the way, is "Rob Ford assault." Doesn't that imply the mayor assaulted someone?
Three and out
3. Yesterday Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox had a gem of game, and lost. In a complete game against the Houston Astros he pitched eight innings, allowing five hits and one walk, while striking out 14. He allowed two runs, neither "earned." Houston beat Chicago 2-1. That's a pretty good line, even if you believe, as I do, that the distinction between earned and unearned runs is mostly meaningless. It was a hard-luck loss and one that demonstrates that judging pitchers by their win-loss record is really dumb. At least four out of five times, that wins the game for the ChiSox with ease. SI.com's Cliff Corcoran looks at hard-luck losses and and run support, noting that Sale is 5-5 this season despite a 2.43 ERA because he is getting just 2.7 runs support in his 12 starts.
2. Paul Swydan of Fangraphs has a really good look at Toronto Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie who is having a disappointing season. His injuries may be a feature, not a bug, and it is unclear whether his contact issues are related to various health issues. Swydan says it is not outside the realm of possibility that Lawrie will end up being a quality starting third baseman some day, but the notion that he is going to be a superstar is certainly far-fetched at this point. But right now he's one of the bottom third basemen in MLB, with his performance on par with aging-well-past-their-prime veterans or role players, neither of which describes Lawrie. Key sentence from Swydan: " No one is expecting Lawrie to suddenly start hitting like Miguel Cabrera, but it was certainly expected that he’d be better than Jeff Keppinger."
1. At SB Nation Steven Goldman has a hardly exhaustive but highly illustrative piece looking at suspensions in baseball history. Goldman has a point: based on precedent, the 10 games MLB gave to Ian Kennedy for throwing at Zack Greinke's head during the Arizona Diamondback/Los Angeles Dodgers contest, is high even if it is insufficient. At SI.com Jay Jaffe says the 10-game suspension should be a standard starting point for throwing at batters. Jaffe also suggests that MLB follow the lead of the NBA and NHL and automatically suspend anyone coming off the bench (dugout) to fight. In baseball, of course, there is an imbalance with nine defenders on the field against between one and four players (the batter and no more than three baserunners). Jaffe says players in the field could be treated like players on the bench. I'm not sure this is a big enough problem to start re-writing the rules but obviously owners have an interest in protecting their investments.
New Brunswick charity wants its money back from Justin Trudeau
Sun News reports that the Grace Foundation of Port City, N.B. has written to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau requesting a refund for an event he spoke to in 2012. A board member of the Foundation wrote to Trudeau: "The fundraising event we hired you for as a speaker was a huge disappointment and a financial loss for our organization." That's amusing, but unfortunately the speaking circuit doesn't work that way and they don't deserve a refund. In a way, they deserve this failure for wasting $20,000 on Trudeau as a speaker in the first place.
Must-read Charles Moore column
Charles Moore has an excellent column in the Daily Telegraph that runs with the subtitle, "Despite the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, David Cameron has failed to act against Islamist terrorism." The final paragraph is about British institutions being incapable or unwilling to transmit the culture necessary to uphold liberty and democracy in the face of an Islamist threat is especially worth reading. Moore attacks society's inability to muster real outrage at the murder of Rigby, a crime which already seems much longer ago than just last month. Moore explains the rise of the English Defense League but does not defend its actions. But this, the inevitable worry about Muslims after a Muslim committed a horrific crime, is worth highlighting:
The media, notably the BBC, quickly changed the subject. After a day or two focusing on the crime itself, the reports switched to anxiety about the “Islamophobic backlash”. According to Tell Mamma, an organisation paid large sums by the Government to monitor anti-Muslim acts, “the horrendous events in Woolwich brought it [Islamophobia] to the fore”. Tell Mamma spoke of a “cycle of violence” against Muslims.Yet the only serious violence was against a British soldier, who was dead. In The Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Gilligan brilliantly exposed the Tell Mamma statistics – most of them referred merely to nasty remarks on the web rather than actual attacks, many were not verified, no reported attack had required medical attention, and so on. Yet the “backlash” argument has sailed on, with people shaking their heads gravely about the need to “reassure” Muslims. Tell Mamma equates “hate inspired by al-Qaeda” with the “thuggery and hate of the EDL [the English Defence League]”.
Media's declining interest in IRS scandal
Odd story about Putin
New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft alleges that Russian President Vladimir Putin stole his Super Bowl ring in 2005, although this is a change in Kraft's story who originally said the ring was a gift to the former KGB officer.
Putting the 'uni' in university
ADDING “COLLEGIALITY” AS A CRITERION FOR TENURE: I’m skeptical that, in practice, collegiality will mean ideological conformity. There’s enough of an academic monoculture already. Socrates was regarded as uncollegial. Galileo, too.
Well, they appear to be pleasing the boss
Breitbart reports: "Only 74 people, less than 0.1% of the complete IRS workforce, were fired for misconduct between September 30, 2012 and March 31, 2013, the least for that six-month period since the 62 who were fired in 2002. Between FY 2008 and 2012, firings dropped 46%, and the pace is slowing this year."
What took so long?
The Daily Caller reports, "According to the Hollywood Reporter, a William Morris-agented project about [NSA leaker Edward] Snowden is 'making the rounds, with a sale imminent'." I'd like to see Edward Norton play him. The actor could pass for the NSA leaker but more importantly promos of announcing "Edward Norton as Edward Snowden" would amuse me.
The truth is racist
Hot Air's Allah Pundit comments on the furor over Jeb Bush noting that immigrants are "more fertile":
So Pavlovian is the instinct among some to attack Republicans as racist that Bush is actually catching heat for saying this, even though (a) he’s famously one of the most pro-amnesty members of the pro-amnesty GOP establishment, (b) he thinks a high immigrant birth rate is, unambiguously, a good thing, and (c) he’s correct that immigrants, i.e. foreign-born women, tend to have more children than native-born Americans.
Here is the problem with politics: telling the truth gets you pilloried. Hard to debate issues and work on solutions when there is uncivil reaction to simply stating facts. Bush would have been more precise to say that immigrants have higher fertility rates rather than imply they are more fertile (as in capable of having children), but his point was obvious.
Not as obvious is part of the problem with amnesty: it enables Big Government. Allah Pundit states:
There is something gawkworthy about this, but it has nothing to do with phantom racist insinuations. It’s that Bush is presenting his point as a way to ... preserve the welfare state. Higher immigrant birth rates equals more taxpayers equals a reprieve of a few decades or more on the Social Security/Medicare fiscal implosion. If you like entitlements, the more amnesty the better.
Libertarians have often noted that businessmen often have their motives questions (they are greedy) while politicians are held up as public servants.* Here's yet another story that illustrates that politicians often mask self-interest as helping others.
[Former New York state senator] Pedro Espada Jr. was sentenced [for tax fraud] Friday in Brooklyn.The once-influential Democrat also was convicted in a separate case alleging he looted the taxpayer-subsidized clinics.Espada operated the clinics in the South Bronx for three decades until prosecutors accused him of turning the network into a personal ATM.Espada offered no signs of remorse before sentencing. He instead talked about the clinics' history of providing care to poor New Yorkers.
* My point is not that businessmen aren't greedy, but that politicians are, too. In fact, most of us are.
'Our aging population set to put a heavy toll on our systems, and we're not ready'
Simon Kent in the Toronto Sun:
"The first boomer born in 1947 reaches 80 in 2027," [demographer David] Foot says.That's when the critical mass, the largest bulge of the baby boom, approaches 80 and will require the most care of their lives."We actually have coming up five to 10 years of slower growth in demand on the health care system," Foot says.During that time, Canada needs to train gerontologists, therapists, psychiatrists, palliative care nurses and specialists, replace the workforce of aging nurses and the army of some 3 million volunteers who currently provide the bulk of in-home care to seniors, say experts."Obviously, if it takes 15 years to create a surgeon, we have to start 15 years before, which is like now," Foot says.
When pundits and experts caution against a demographic time bomb, it isn't always about costs -- although pension and health care costs will go up astronomically (perhaps with some off-setting savings on education due to declining birth rates) -- but about readiness. Some of the future needs require planning now, like ascertaining what jobs will be needed in the future (health care specialists) and what technologies will improve the standard of living of the elderly (robotics, self-driving cars, etc...); other needs include not only pension reform but private retirement savings. Most western countries are like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand.
Steyn on the snooping state
From Mark Steyn in NRO:
As the IRS scandal reminds us, you have to have a touchingly naïve view of government to believe that the 99.9999 percent of “metadata” entirely irrelevant to terrorism will not be put to some use, sooner or later.
The second half of Steyn's column focuses on the preposterous policy of trawling for info from everyone but the people most likely to be terrorists, and it is a must-read.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Toronto Star starts plumping for Olivia Chow
The Toronto Star's Linda Diebel has a pretty unimpressive story in the paper entitled, "Olivia Chow’s unofficial campaign for Toronto mayor in 2014." The story is longish and yet it doesn't offer one bit of new information or insight. Yeah, everyone knows Chow is probably running for mayor, but the race doesn't officially begin until next year so the NDP MP and former city councilor isn't going to announce. Her allies and friends think she is a super candidate and precisely what the city needs, while those on the right side of the political spectrum worry about what a Chow administration would do to the city yet concede she's a formidable candidate. Diebel writes lame features on political figures on the left-side of the political spectrum but it's hard to write about friends, isn't it?
Too many no-limit hold 'em events
Matt Matros has an op-ed at Card Player in which he argues there are too many no-limit hold 'em tournaments. He describes the problem (which is both economic and psychological):
No-limit players are maxed out as it is, and actually suffer from the problem of having too many choices. Let’s assume, for a second, that you want to play as many no-limit events as you can, but that you’re not willing to play more than one event at a time. That means when you make day 2s or 3s, you’ll have to miss events you would’ve wanted to play. (Either that or you could play all the tournaments and never make a day 2, but I don’t think anyone would consider that a better outcome.) A player could, in theory, pick his ideal 20 or so tournaments and just stick to that schedule, but in practice that’s not how poker players work. Poker players don’t want to risk missing value, so they buy into whatever the next tournament is, which inevitably leads to their missing good events. This disappointment is completely avoidable with a better schedule. The WSOP could cut down to 20 no-limit hold’em events with a day off in between each, and players would have the opportunity to enter — and win — every single no-limit hold’em event on the docket. In all likelihood, serious players would end up entering the same number of events with this abbreviated schedule as they would with the current one, because they’d never have to miss anything.
Later Matros makes the point that there is much more to poker than hold 'em, let alone no-limit hold 'em. Televised poker focuses on this format which is probably why there is a market for it.
The Obamas do Africa
Breitbart reports that "President Barack Obama will hold bilateral meetings with leaders in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania between June 26 and July 3, and the wife and kids are going along for the ride," and the cost to taxpayers will be between $60 and $100 million. Costs were reduced by eliminating a safari that would have included agents equipped to "neutralize cheetahs, lions or other animals if they became a threat."
Funny or offensive?
Huffington Post: "Dog Butt Looks Like Jesus Christ In A Robe."
Standpoint magazine: "Sharia Threatens All Women, Muslim and Non-Muslim."
Tea Party isn't the only split on NSA
Politico headline: "Tea party splits on security, civil liberties." This makes sense. The Tea Party is, like the Republican Party, a broadly based movement that draws on conservatives and libertarians, and those groups view government quite differently. Heck, conservatives disagree amongst themselves on the right balance of security and liberty, as do libertarians. While the ideological slogans are easy, individuals and organizations will draw different conclusions about how to deal with trade-offs when it comes to policies. So on any single policy it is probably foolish to say "conservatives believe" or "libertarians support" or whatever.
However, read on in that Politico story and you'll realize that while it focuses on the Republican Party and its Tea Party wing -- Rep. Justin Amash (R. Michigan) and Senator Rand Paul (R. Kentucky) -- there are other divisions, too. Ginger Gibson reports about the NSA revelations: "It’s made for unusual allies: For example, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on one side and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Paul on the other." Oh, so despite the headline, Democrats are also split.
Does the Toronto Star have a tape of Tim Hudak huffing crack?
The Toronto Sun reports:
A major shakeup in Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak's office has sent two senior members of his staff out the door. Human resources manager Gayle Jessup and policy advisor Jeffrey Kroeker all departed Hudak's office Wednesday ... Communications director Peter Varley has also left ...
I'm joking with the headline. It was just a play on One Yonge's Street's obsession with the Toronto mayor. For the record, I think Hudak is too much of a weenie and couldn't handle smoking crack.
The glass is half full
Senator Tom Coburn (R, Oklahoma) says in a Real Clear Politics column:
[I]n the context of the global economy, we’re the least wilted rose in the vase. All of the challenges we face in terms of demographics and debt (i.e. too few workers to sustain our safety net) are worse among our key competitors, particularly Europe, China and Japan. For the foreseeable future America will be a safe harbor, in spite of ourselves.
This is essentially my argument about the United States and Canada: we suck but we don't suck as much as other countries. The thing is, politicians never admit that. Senator Tom Coburn is admitting that. But that admission introduces his larger point: America is in good shape if it only had the right leadership and took on the tough challenges. I bet they don't get the right leadership and they don't address the tough challenges.
The end of that vaunted Dutch tolerance
Blazing Cat Fur notes a poll from The Netherlands:
A poll conducted by the research bureau of Maurice de Hond (the Dutch equivalent of Gallup), commissioned by the PVV, among a representative sample of over 1,900 people also shows other striking results:A majority of 55 percent favors stopping immigration from Islamic countries.63 percent say: no new mosques.72 percent favor a constitutional ban on Sharia law in the Netherlands.64 percent say that the arrival of immigrants from Islamic countries has not been beneficial to the Netherlands.
As Geert Wilders says: "The results are very clear. The Netherlands has had enough of Islam."
Rotterdam could be an interesting place if either Turkey or Morocco and The Netherlands ended up in the same group in next year's World Cup (assuming they all qualified).
Breitbart notes that a White House website used the term "Founding Founders" instead of "Founding Fathers" and wonders whether "it was a simple typo or overdone political correctness"?
Immigration bill cheat sheet/translator
Earlier this week Mickey Kaus provided a nice little explanation of the weaselly way the Schumer-Rubio immigration amnesty bill deals with numerous issues. In short, the bill is fundamentally fraudulent.
The sex recession
The Economist reports that British prostitutes are lowering their price and providing less sex. Part of the reason is that there are fewer full-time jobs in England; part-time employment for men doesn't give them enough leftover pay to actually let them pay for sex.
There is no Great Stagnation
The Economist on a boring sounding but potentially significant technological improvement: elevators that go higher. The Economist reports:
They could soon go higher still, as a result of another breakthrough in lift technology. This week Kone, a Finnish liftmaker, announced that after a decade of development at its laboratory in Lohja, which sits above a 333-metre-deep mineshaft which the firm uses as a test bed, it has devised a system that should be able to raise an elevator a kilometre (3,300 feet) or more. This is twice as far as the things can go at present. Since the effectiveness of lifts is one of the main constraints on the height of buildings, Kone’s technology—which replaces the steel cables from which lift cars are currently suspended with ones made of carbon fibres—could result in buildings truly worthy of the name “skyscraper”.
Theoretically, this could mean elevators to space.
Being poor = getting screwed
John Cheese from The Burning Platform has "5 things nobody tells you about being poor." In short, it sucks. Here's a flavour:
#4. There is an Industry That Profits by Keeping You PoorThink you’re too smart to ever use one of those shady “payday loan” places? Well, you should know that nobody thinks they’re a good deal. People go there because they’re choosing between which fucking provides the most lube.
Greg Mankiw notes that all three new members of the President's Council of Economic Advisers have a Harvard connection: "two Harvard PhDs and a Harvard professor."
'Why "I Have Nothing to Hide" Is the Wrong Way to Think About Surveillance'
A very good article at Wired.com by Moxie Marlinspike says that "many individuals don’t understand why they should be concerned about surveillance if they have nothing to hide." As Marlinspike says:
If the federal government had access to every email you’ve ever written and every phone call you’ve ever made, it’s almost certain that they could find something you’ve done which violates a provision in the 27,000 pages of federal statues or 10,000 administrative regulations. You probably do have something to hide, you just don’t know it yet.
Many people think they are law-abiding, but as Harvey Silverglate pointed out in his 2009 book Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, we break the law more often than we know.
Marlinspike also addresses the so-called compromise balancing privacy and security:
Some will say that it’s necessary to balance privacy against security, and that it’s important to find the right compromise between the two. Even if you believe that, a good negotiator doesn’t begin a conversation with someone whose position is at the exact opposite extreme by leading with concessions.And that’s exactly what we’re dealing with. Not a balance of forces which are looking for the perfect compromise between security and privacy, but an enormous steam roller built out of careers and billions in revenue from surveillance contracts and technology. To negotiate with that, we can’t lead with concessions, but rather with all the opposition we can muster.
UK and jobs: private sector growth, public sector shrinkage
I'm not a huge fan of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who is too centrist overall. But on one important measure of size of government, he's done wonders. The Daily Mail reports: "While the number of state workers has dropped by 614,000 since May 2010, the number in the private sector has jumped by 1.25million to a record 24.1million, the Office for National Statistics revealed."
Question Period is about theatre, not deliberative democracy
From the (London) Times reports, "A Liberal Democrat has complained that he is being bullied by fellow MPs who groan every time he stands up to speak in the Commons."
'Legal prostitution leads to increased trafficking'
My post at Soconvivium on new research that debunks the argument for legalizing prostitution that doing so leads to decreased human trafficking.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
A quarter century of eco bullshit
Anthony J. Sadar, "a certified consulting meteorologist" and author of In Global Warming We Trust: A Heretic’s Guide to Climate Science, writes in the Washington Times:
Global-warming hysteria was launched 25 years ago this month. On June 23, 1988, James Hansen of NASA testified before a congressional hearing and the world that “the greenhouse effect is here and is affecting our climate now.” His confidence, sincerity and humble demeanor captured political and environmental opportunists in a big way ...From the beginning, the fix was in, and theatrics took center stage. Then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, Colorado Democrat, and his staff left the hearing-room windows open the steamy night before the proceedings to make sure the room’s air-conditioners were chugging away against the heat during the momentous event.Soon after the hearings, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change took over, and the rest is history.
Pelosi, 'practicing' Catholic, on late-term abortions
Breitbart reports Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke against a bill that would ban late-term abortions: "As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this." I think she needs more practise.
Scratch a conservative, find a fascist
Ed Morrissey notes that Republican Congressman Peter King wants to prosecute reporters who publish leaks. Morrissey explains why this is a bad idea:
We don’t prosecute reporters who publish leaks; we prosecute the leakers, because they’re the people who got cleared in the first place. The distinction is important not just because the government has great power to keep information secret from the public that can shield them from accountability, but also great prosecutorial power that could easily be used to intimidate a heretofore free press and turn them into a propaganda industry afraid to criticize Big Brother. It’s a bad idea on many levels.
Americans don't want to watch Strombo, either
National Post reports: "George Stroumboulopoulos’ eponymous CNN talk show debuts to low ratings." The Canadian television personality brought 192,000 viewers to CNN for his debut. Stossel on Fox News had 739,000 viewers. Or to compare apples to apples, Strombo's CNN time slot on CNN the previous week had 60% more viewers.
There should be no crying in politics
Especially from conservatives. Huffington Post Canada: "Dean Del Mastro Cries: Tory MP Accuses Elections Canada Of 'Malice'."
Making the story about themselves
From the CBC: "CBC correspondents recount their arrests in Turkey." The media loves reporting on itself.
Three and out
3. Grantland's Jonah Keri explains that few nine-figure deals for players who have hit their 30s work out for the team rewarding aging stars with megacontracts. His essay also looks for explanations for Albert Pujols' rapidly declining performance, and he comes up with four (possibly related) reasons: injuries, age, swinging at more bad pitches, inability to hit breaking balls.
2. Bruce Bochy (San Francisco Giants) and Jim Leyland (Detroit Tigers) are the managers for the National League and American League All-Star teams respectively by virtue of the fact their teams made it to the World Series last year. But it is inexplicable why these two chose four under-achieving managers (to use Craig Calcaterra's charitable description) as coaches: Terry Collins (New York Mets) and Davey Johnson (Washington Nationals) in the NL and Robin Ventura (Chicago White Sox) and John Gibbons (Toronto Blue Jays) in the AL. Johnson has some history of accomplishment, but the others do not and certainly based on their teams performances this year, none of them belong in the All Star game. I'm not sure who I'd pick beyond Joe Maddon because he's brilliant and eccentric and fun to have on the TV screen (USA Today has a good piece on him today.) I'm partial to Mike Scioscia (Los Angeles Angels), who despite a sub-500 year from his team so far this season, is a skipper who generally seems to make decisions that improve his team's chances of winning. I'm not a fan of Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates), but he seems to be getting a lot of his team. And Mike Matheny, as manager of the best team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals, warrants serious consideration. The problem is that it is unclear how much impact managers have on their team (except when they make obviously bone-headed moves) and that the All Star coach position is purely ceremonial. But if it considered an honour, MLB should at least honour those who legitimately warrant it and it is far from clear that Collins, Ventura, or Gibbons deserve it, and that there are others who have a much better claim.
1. Stacey Gotsulias of the New York Yankees blog It's About the Money notes an observation that the so-called Bronx Bombers have only scored four more runs than AL bottom-dweller Houston Astros. Hardly anyone is producing and the so-called reinforcements aren't helping (can you even tell that Kevin Youkilis is back?) and the team can't really wait until Derek Jeter is ready to put on the uniform again. Gotsulias says that the team's slash stats for June (238/306/347) and seven homeruns isn't going to get the job done and that "last night marked the team’s fifth straight game without a home run – something they hadn’t done since 2006." Mark Teixeira is hitting an abysmal 182/245/409 -- or more accurately, not hitting -- although he has 12 RBIs in 12 games. Robinson Cano has gone cold the past few weeks. Jayson Nix is one of their top hitters recently, which speaks volumes about how poorly the Yankees are at the plate this month.
Toronto's Big Dig doondoggle in the making
The National Post: "'Blue sky' design ideas for crumbling Gardiner unveiled; including buried highway, eight-lane boulevard." Promoters of burying the Gardiner have plenty of pretty pictures to show what their pet project would look like. Somehow, the NP reports the price tag of various U.S. city "improvements" without noting the difference between the advertised price and the final price. Two words of warning: Big Dig.
George Takei is faking it
Five Feet of Fury notes: "George Takei is one of those 'pet gays' collected by straight hipster millennials who are eager to show how tolerant and 'cool' they are, especially of 'witty' gay men." Guess what? Takei pays journalist Rick Polito to be his social media voice.
This is funny
From Grantland: "Who Said It? Nick Saban/Matthew Weiner Edition." A few of the 11 quotes were difficult, but I had no problem with this one: "I thought, this is going to be interesting to see how this works, especially since I had been so influenced by the books Sex and the Single Girl and The Feminine Mystique."
The Putin seal of approval
From the Washington Post's foreign affairs blog, World View: "Vladimir Putin defends the U.S. on spying programs, drones and Occupy Wall Street."
Amusing headline that gets to the truth
From the Waterloo Region Record, which published excerpts from editorials from other newspapers: "Another view: Zimmerman deserves a fair trial." My first thought reading that headline is that there are people who hold the view that George Zimmerman, who is charged with murdering Trayvon Martin, should have an unfair trial. The message from the Los Angeles Times editorial is that we should not jump to conclusions even though "many Americans have invested themselves emotionally in one of two competing narratives about what occurred." The problem, of course, is acknowledged in the editorial, namely that regardless of the jury's decisions and facts that come out in the trial, few people will change their mind about the events of February 26, 2012.
Will on the the trust-me state
George Will says government requires us to trust it and that progressivism requires more trust than that which should be safely allotted to the state. Good column that defies excerption so go read the whole thing yourself.
The demographic shift will accelerate in the United States -- and the political ramifications
The Washington Post: "Whites’ deaths outnumber births for first time." But this needs some perspective. Fears that America is becoming majority-minority aren't quite right, with the Post reminding readers: "non-Hispanic whites remain the single largest group, making up 63 percent of the country." It will be some time before whites are a minority within America, and even longer before they are a minority of voters.
As for voters, Hispanics were not actually 10% of the 2012 electorate as Ann Coulter explained in a column yesterday; it was 8.4%. Coulter says:
Democrats terrify Hispanics into thinking they'll be lynched if they vote for Republicans, and then turn around and taunt Republicans for not winning a majority of the Hispanic vote ...It must be fun for liberals to manipulate Republicans into focusing on hopeless causes. Why don't Democrats waste their time trying to win the votes of gun owners?
Coulter explains how demographics delivered the Obama victory:
The sleeping giant of the last election wasn't Hispanics; it was elderly black women, terrified of media claims that Republicans were trying to suppress the black vote and determined to keep the first African-American president in the White House.Contrary to everyone's expectations, 10 percent more blacks voted in 2012 compared to 2008, even beating white voters, the usual turnout champions. Eligible black voters turned out at rate of 66.2 percent, compared to 64.1 percent of eligible white voters. Only 48 percent of all eligible Hispanic voters went to the polls.
With the white population declining, the way for Republicans to win presidential elections again is to increase white voter turnout by addressing issues that matter to them (read: jobs and take-home pay). My bet is that Hispanics and blacks, too, might be attracted to a party that can grow jobs and wages.
UK leaving EU would be pro-trade
Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, writes in the Wall Street Journal's European edition, that contra the claims of British Prime Minister David Cameron, the UK would have more international influence if it left the European Union. Paradoxically, perhaps this is most true in when it come to free trade:
It is in trade, however, where leaving the EU would offer the greatest benefits. Mr. Cameron talks about a global marketplace, yet he wishes to keep Britain shackled to the EU, which, as the current trade spat with China shows, is a byword for hyperregulation and protectionism. Britain needs to be free to set its own trade relationships. In the past two months, Iceland and Switzerland, both non-EU members, have set up free-trade deals with China. The EU hasn't.Britain's trade with the rest of the world is growing, while its trade with the rest of the EU is contracting. Isn't it time Mr. Cameron took off his Brussels blinkers and embraced the future? The EU is a creature of the past—a 1970s solution to a 1950s problem.
No surprise here: surveilling everyone but those who should be/we are not serious about stopping terror
An Investor's Business Daily opinion piece makes the claim that mosques are excluded from the massive dragnet surveillance operation of the US Government. "That's right, the government's sweeping surveillance of our most private communications excludes the jihad factories where homegrown terrorists are radicalized."Considering that the pretense for all this "necessary" surveillance is to stop terrorism, it seems unusual to exclude mosques from examination. What is going on?The piece explains that "Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee."Who is this review committee? "Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret."
The National Journal reports: "The U.S. jobs picture is bleaker than the most recent jobs reports may make you think." The NJ reports on an Economic Policy Institute analysis that finds, "Unemployed workers still far outnumber job openings in every major sector."
'No one is touching your dot'
Neocon Big Government lovers Marc Thiessen and Frank Gaffney use meaningless chart to try to prove snooping state is no threat to you.
AmeriCorps = GovernmentCorps
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, James Bovard exposes what AmeriCorps is all about. Essentially AmeriCorps is supposed to be a domestic Peace Corps and President Barack Obama claims the program, which "engages more than 80,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community and faith-based groups across the country," embodies "the best of our nation's history, diversity and commitment to service." According to Bovard, it provides "Puppet shows that hector children" into green practices and holds bar nights promoting itself. Bovard notes Nicole Patterson, winner of a Congressional Bronze Medal for community service, whom he reports was "not impressed with her AmeriCorps experience." Bovard quotes her: "I spent six weeks playing Scrabble and kickball for America. I spent another two months sitting in a tool shed for America. We annoyed more people than we ever helped." But there is something more pernicious about all this engagement, which has a larger goal: expanding Big Government. Bovard reports:
In the social-service category, some AmeriCorps volunteers serve with the WithinReach program in Washington state, which says on its website that part of the service of AmeriCorps at WithinReach is to "reach out to low-income populations and help them access public benefits." Efforts include guiding Washington residents to food aid, Medicaid and subsidies for their utility bills. The Columbus, Ohio, HarvestCorps program specifically requires each AmeriCorps member to sign up at least 75 households for food stamps. Hunger Free Colorado boasts that its AmeriCorps recruits are "vital" to "increase participation" in food stamps and "to ensure [recipients] do not fall off of the programs once enrolled." AmeriCorps also bankrolls FoodCorps in locales known as "high-obesity communities" to plant school gardens and urge people to reform their diets.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Three and out
3. Hank Azaria announces the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup in various Simpsons voices.
2. Baseball Musings notes a paragraph from Will Leitch (Sports on Earth) about the New York Mets which is sadly accurate.
1. Rob Neyer of SB Nation says that most doctors, including the late Dr. Lewis Yocum, do not belong in the Hall of Fame. Neyer would make an exception for Dr. Frank Jobe, who came up with Tommy John surgery, who could qualify in the pioneer's category.
Kanye being Kanye
I love the way the Daily Caller begins its story about the ludicrousness of Kanye West:
In a long interview with the New York Times published Tuesday, the rapper and all-around garish personality said some things that no actual human being would ever say except for Kanye West.
The interview includes West comparing himself to Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs, and Jay-Z.
Best African countries in which to do business
All Africa has a photo essay on the "Top 10 African Countries for Doing Business" according to the World Bank's "Ease of Doing Business Index."
Why politicians want to see the end of quality papers
Harry Jaffe on the demise of the daily print edition of the Washington Examiner:
I am in mourning for The Examiner as a daily newspaper. Day after day, Examiner reporters covered the region and scooped the competition. Examiner alumni have gone on to report and break news for other publications. Democracy functions better with more voices and more reporters at newspapers that compete for scoops. The Washington region will miss The Examiner; politicians and corrupt officials can breathe easier.
It is easy to mock daily papers; often they deserve it. But when print journalism is done right, the bastards in public office pay attention, and they hate it. The Washington Examiner dug to find important stories and covered the capitol region better than anyone. It was a model paper and it speaks volumes about the future of print that a publication that did it so well can't survive. It's a changing culture -- and whatever the merits of online journalism, it isn't viewed as seriously by either consumers or those it covers. But as Jaffe indicates, it's a culture that will let corrupt officials and bullshitting politicians off the hook.
A Hillary Clinton scandal?
Not that this will affect the Teflon former first family -- The Washington Times reports:
Congress and the State Department’s inspector general are examining allegations that senior officials working under Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton may have suppressed investigations into suspected criminal activity among U.S. diplomats abroad — including the alleged solicitation of prostitutes by an ambassador in Europe ...In addition to reviewing “eight allegations of criminal misconduct” that arose during the 2012 review, Doug Welty, a spokesman for the office of inspector general, said the office is “also looking into the allegations of quashing.”
Robert Fogel, RIP
Tyler Cowen has links following the passing away of the great economic historian Robert W. Fogel. The University of Chicago Magazine had a very good profile of Fogel in 2007. Most of Fogel's work was on railways, slavery, and standard-of-living (including equality). His work earned him a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1993, as the Nobel committee acknowledged his (and Douglass North's) role in "renewing" interest in economic history (cliometrics). His Nobel lecture, "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," provides a good example of his work. Steve Sailer says in the comments to Cowen's post: "'Time on the Cross' — a landmark work on slavery, introducing heavily quantitative methods to history. I read it right before reading Eugene Genovese’s more methodologically traditional 'Roll, Jordan, Roll.' They made a fine complement." I agree with Sailer's observation about Fogel's 1974 two-volume history of slavery, but Fogel's best and most readable book is The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death: 1700-2100: Europe, America, and the Third World (2004), which is a nice antidote to those overly influenced by Malthusian concerns.
Suicidal tolerance of jihadis
Investor's Business Daily editorializes:
Imam Anjem Choudary, who has threatened America as well as Britain, shockingly told fellow Muslims that the victim, Drummer Lee Rigby, would be tortured in hell for not being Muslim and that one of his murderers, Michael Adebolajo, is "a very nice man" who would be accepted by Allah "into paradise." Choudary, who helped radicalize Adebolajo, also warned of "harsh repercussions" in Britain and the U.S. if soldiers continue to kill Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere ...The Islamist cleric is known as Britain's "most dangerous man" — the Anwar Awlaki of the U.K. Only, instead of dodging drones in the mountains of Yemen, he's free to give interviews on TV (including state-funded BBC), collect state welfare benefits (to the tune of $38,000 a year) and continue recruiting and inciting jihadists on the streets of London unmolested by authorities.
Yesterday, Five Feet of Fury pointed to this Robert Spencer Jihad Watch column:
This surveillance scandal arises out of our national bipartisan unwillingness to face the reality of Islamic jihad. Because we all agree that Islam is a religion of peace, we can't possibly address where the threat is really coming from, and monitor mosques or subject Muslims with Islamic supremacist ties to greater surveillance. Instead, we have to pretend that anyone and everyone is a potential terrorist, and surveil everyone. Our freedoms and privacy are now at risk because of our refusal to admit the truth about Islam.
NSA equals Kafka, not Orwell
Good post by Reason's Nick Gillespie with a link to the excellent paper, "'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy," by Daniel J. Solove, who said of the old NSA program:
[T]he problems are not just Orwellian, but Kafkaesque. The NSA programs are problematic even if no information people want to hide is uncovered. In The Trial, the problem is not inhibited behavior, but rather a suffocating powerlessness and vulnerability created by the court system’s use of personal data and its exclusion of the protagonist from having any knowledge or participation in the process. The harms consist of those created by bureaucracies—indifference, errors, abuses, frustration, and lack of transparency and accountability.
Is Bayer a serial killer?
LifeSiteNews.com reports: "23 Canadian women dead in 6 years while on Yaz/Yasmin birth control."
Great Penn Jillette quote
Obama could have done much worse than Jason Furman
A group of economists associated with the American Enterprise Institute have fairly positive things to say about economist Jason Furman, who was named by President Barack Obama as the new chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Conservatives aren't going to get an economist in the mould of Milton Friedman, so considering that Obama is going to nominate a liberal, it is better than it not be a doctrinaire one. The economists say:
Jason Furman’s policy preferences are clearly in line with President Obama’s, but he recognizes that market mechanisms are the key element in raising living standards. He has written on the importance of fiscal discipline, the need to undertake entitlement reform sooner rather than later, the role of international trade in improving living standards, and the benefits of Wal-Mart in boosting living standards for low-income Americans.
Thank God for studies
[A] new study reports an ominous finding. “The children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces.”Is that such a bad thing? The people behind the study—a team of researchers led by Christoph Bartneck of the University of Canterbury—“obtained images of all 3655 Minifigure types manufactured by LEGO between 1975 and 2010. The 628 different heads on these figures were then shown to 264 adult participants,” who labeled “the emotions on the heads in terms of the six main human emotions.”
Sheldon Richman on the snooping state
Sheldon Richman of the Future of Freedom Foundation on the surveillance state: "If the politicians’ only response to revelations that they’re violating our privacy is to ask for trust, then we already have problems."