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Sunday: August 25, 2013

Unfortunate Juxtaposition

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:14 AM GMT-0500

Why you should never trust a computer algorithm to arrange any part of your web-page for you – seen today (off and on) on PJMedia:

PMG latest

Friday: March 1, 2013

How insulated from American reality is the Washington Post?

Filed under: — site admin @ 2:21 PM GMT-0500

One of today’s InstaPundit posts, in full:

IN THE WAPO, A SHOCKING DISCOVERY: For some, lessons of boyhood include learning to shoot and hunt.

I’m not going to bother to follow the link and read the article, because even the title is so stupid. Did they really write “boyhood”? Here in the Shenandoah Valley, not three hours by car from the Washington Post’s offices, I know quite a few girls, as well as boys, who shot their first deer in middle school and their first bear in high school, and ate parts of both species.

Saturday: October 6, 2012

Weird News out of Canada

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:26 PM GMT-0500

That someone has been stealing massive quantities of maple syrup in Quebec is certainly news, but not particularly weird. What is weird is what the Fox News story mentions in passing as apparently unremarkable: that the theft occurred at “the province’s global strategic reserve at St-Louis-de-Blandford”. Quebec has a Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve? Do other Canadian provinces? Does Vermont? Perhaps something has gone wrong with a translation from the French, and the reserve is not really “strategic” in the usual English sense. Or perhaps Canadians consider maple syrup an essential wartime resource.

Monday: August 20, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:25 PM GMT-0500

A recent picture of Obama, seen on JustOneMinute and other sites:

A month ago today, InstaPundit reprinted a picture of Jacques Chirac from several years ago (“Ah, that old Chirac photo never fails to amuse.”):

The resemblance in expression is striking, though Obama adds a pint or two of malice, or perhaps fear. What is he scowling at off-camera? And what’s he doing with his hands? Perhaps a photoshop contest is needed.

Sunday: January 15, 2012

Bloomberg as ‘loathsome slug’

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:40 PM GMT-0500

Mark Steyn calls Mayor Bloomberg a “loathsome slug of a man” for slandering a tourist who was unaware that New York City routinely defies the Second Amendment, by alleging falsely that the white powder she had in her pocket was cocaine when tests had already shown it was what she said it was, powdered aspirin.

InstaPundit agrees: “Loathsome slug is right.”

At first I thought they were being unfair to slugs, who do, after all, fill a useful niche in the ecosystem. At least, I assume they do, though I’m not sure what precise role they play besides providing food for unfastidious predators. On second thought, I realized that “slug” is a more appropriate epithet than Steyn or Reynolds seem to notice. Is it a coincidence that Mayor Bloomberg is vehemently opposed to salt, and deeply suspicious of other harmless white powders like aspirin? Harmless to others, I should say: perhaps that Englishman who thinks the world is ruled by shape-shifting lizards from outer space is almost, but not quite, right, and they’re actually shape-shifting slugs. (Try saying that three times fast.) The only way to be sure is for some brave person to spill some salt on him. If he’s (technically) human, it wouldn’t hurt him, and if he’s a shape-shifting alien slug it wouldn’t really be murder, would it?

Saturday: January 14, 2012

What Can a Virginian Do?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:36 PM GMT-0500

Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom and others have blogged about the court decision affirming that the Virginia Republican primary this year will list only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot. Goldstein comments: “Feeling disenfranchised, those of you in VA who wanted to cast your vote for some other candidate? Sorry, them’s the (procedural) breaks.” Commenter geoffb adds that one obvious countermove is foreclosed: “Virginia primaries do not allow write-in votes. Write-in and it’s a spoiled ballot.”

Should Virginians angry about this lack of choice (I am one of them) go to the polls and spoil our ballots? I don’t know whether spoiled-ballot totals are normally reported in election results, but surely they would be if they were a quarter or a third or half of all ballots, and that would make an unambiguous statement of discontent with the choices offered. (Not that the choices are all that much better in other states, but that’s another story.)

Of course, a statewide campaign of ballot-spoiling sounds like the kind of thing you’d see in a dictatorship where no other option is available. I can’t find the passage, but I believe it was the Younger Pliny who recorded an incident in which someone in the Senate under the brutal emperor Domitian defaced his voting-slip with insults and obscenities before putting it in the voting box. As I recall, Pliny was shocked, or professed to be shocked, that any senator would do that.

Coincidence? or Allusion?

Filed under: — site admin @ 4:57 PM GMT-0500

John Edwards’ lawyer claims that he can’t answer the serious charges against him until March because he suffers from a “serious heart condition that will require a medical procedure next month” (þ Cold Fury). That’s an interesting choice of words. “Serious Heart Condition” is the title of a song by the Two Dollar Pistols, a honky-tonk band from Chapel Hill. Edwards’ mansion is just west of Chapel Hill in Orange County.

The lyrics are not on-line, so I’ve transcribed them, with a question mark for the one syllable I can’t quite make out – if you’ve heard the song and can help, put your suggestions in the comments:

Well, I can’t go on livin’,
but if livin’ is this way,
a steady diet of sour grapes
made me the man I am today.

Now I thought it might just be a phase,
but that was only wishin’.
The doctor told me there’s no hope:
I got a serious heart condition.

A serious heart condition:
There ain’t nothin’ they can do.
They gave me three to six months to ease the pain
of walkin’ on [?] to you.

But having you here in my arms
would be the best prescription.
But if you go I’m left alone
with a serious heart condition.

I could feel myself burn
with desire for you, I’m sure,
but the heartache will be returnin’,
when you walk out the door.

Now how am I supposed to cope
when a part of me’s gone missin’?
The doctor told me there’s no hope:
I got a serious heart condition.

(Repeat Stanzas 3-4)

(Instrumental break)

(Repeat Stanzas 3-4)
If you go I’m left alone
with a serious heart condition.

I’m not the only one who doubts whether Edwards has anything wrong with his heart – physically, I mean: there’s plenty else wrong with it -, and these lyrics only reinforce my doubts. (Having his lawyer say that he needs “a procedure” rather than “an operation” adds to my dubiety.) I hope his lawyer’s choice of phrase isn’t a sly joke, using ambiguous language to suggest a medical problem without quite lying, since a messy love-life could also be described as “a serious heart condition”, as in the song. How messy is Edwards’ love-life? He left his wife for a woman with a disturbing resemblance to David Spade (no links: Google them both yourself, if you dare). Of course, if he ever claims to have come down with “Honkytonkitis”, or admits to suffering from “Heartaches and Hangovers”, we’ll know for sure.

Amazingly, Wikipedia has no article on the Two Dollar Pistols. Amazon has all six of their albums for sale, with the usual audio snippets, so you can easily judge whether you like them as much as I do. YouTube also has plenty of Two Dollar Pistols performances, though not (so far as I can tell from a quick glance) this song.

Sunday: December 18, 2011

Less Than Zero?

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:14 AM GMT-0500

The Blogosphere is buzzing about Obama’s recent claim to be one of the four best presidents ever. What few have commented on is that he doubles his stupidity by listing Lyndon Johnson as one of the three who may (may!) be ahead of him. Surely enough time has passed for any sensible person to conclude that Lyndon Johnson belongs in the bottom half-dozen American presidents, for character or accomplishments.

If Obama had said that he was almost as good a president as LBJ and that that makes him the fortieth-best so far, that would be more plausible, though still overgenerous. Not that he would ever be so sensible as to say anything like that.

Sunday: November 6, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:25 PM GMT-0500

Ten years ago today, I began this blog. Here’s the first post, in full:

Cheney Goes Hunting
Though I’m sure it was primarily intended for relaxation, VP Cheney’s pheasant hunting expedition has some nice side-effects: implicit support for the NRA, a manly sport to symbolize homeland defense, and other things too obvious to be worth listing. On the other hand, given the stupidity of many of America’s enemies — as evidenced in the recent claim that Rudy Giuliani is the ‘Jewish, homosexual, governor of New York’, whose father named him after ‘Rudolph Hitler’ — and their often shaky grasp of English, do we really want to give Al Jazeera and the like the opportunity to claim that Cheney goes out shooting peasants for sport? Not that America has ever had any peasants to shoot, but how would the ignorant fanatics who support Osama Bin Laden — a troglodyte in more ways than one — know that? Would Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky, for that matter?

The link for the quotation about Giuliani is unfortunately dead: it’s not often that even terrorists manage to squeeze four separate easily-checked errors into a dozen or so words.

What should I do for my second decade? Post every day, or at least more often than I’ve been posting, and see if I still have any readers? That seems like a good plan.

Saturday: November 5, 2011

This Takes Me Back

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:23 PM GMT-0500

In a post at The Volokh Conspiracy, Stewart Baker includes a picture of the statue that stands outside the Federal Trade Commission (he credits JoeInSouthernCA):

When I worked in D.C. 20+ years ago, I often walked past the statue. My friends and I liked to think of it as the allegorical depiction of Bureaucracy restraining Trade.

Sunday: October 30, 2011

The Totalitarian Temptation for Grade-Schoolers

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:13 PM GMT-0500

In a post on Matthew Yglesias’ idiotic proposal to allow children to vote, Ann Althouse reveals that she would have voted for Nixon when she was 9, for Eldridge Cleaver when she was 17.

That reminded me of Shakespeare. His three Henry VI plays are early works, not much read and not often performed. Of all Shakespearean quotations, “First, let’s kill all the lawyers!”, from Henry VI Part II, has probably been the most quoted while least read or seen. I mean that the ratio of the number of people who have quoted it on-line and elsewhere, relative to the number who have actually read the entire play or seen it performed, is probably higher than for any other line of Shakespeare. (Alternative candidates may be posted in the comments.)

As it happens, I have seen the play, in the January-March 2010 season at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA. One of my fondest memories of that production was seeing the reaction of some small children to the revolutionaries’ tirades in Act IV. The ten-year-old loved Jack Cade and Dick the Butcher, the eight-year-old loved them even more, and the six-year-old was jumping up and down with delight and almost climbing onto the stage whenever they were on.

What particularly pleased the children? It wasn’t so much Dick the Butcher’s line about killing lawyers, or the marching around waving flags and weapons of various kinds (Dick, played by Tyler Moss, had a bloody cleaver and bloodier apron). Most of all it was the Jack Cade’s political promises, or perhaps the voice in which he (played by Daniel Kennedy) made them:

There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny: the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops and I will make it felony to drink small beer: all the realm shall be in common; and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass: and when I am king, as king I will be,– (All: God save your majesty!) I thank you, good people: there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers and worship me their lord.

He also orders a clerk to be hanged for being able to write his name and not signing with a mark, “like an honest plain-dealing man”, and says of Lord Say that “he can speak French; and therefore he is a traitor”. After he captures London:

I charge and command that, of the city’s cost, the pissing-conduit run nothing but claret wine this first year of our reign.

(No mention of scrubbing it thoroughly first.) He also gives orders to burn London Bridge and the Tower, and pull down the Savoy and the Inns of Court. After he captures Lord Say he tells him (among other things):

Thou hast most traitorously corrupted the youth of the realm in erecting a grammar school; and whereas, before, our forefathers had no other books but the score and the tally, thou hast caused printing to be used, and, contrary to the king, his crown and dignity, thou hast built a paper-mill. It will be proved to thy face that thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb, and such abominable words as no Christian ear can endure to hear.

A bit later:

The proudest peer in the realm shall not wear a head on his shoulders, unless he pay me tribute; there shall not a maid be married, but she shall pay to me her maidenhead ere they have it: men shall hold of me in capite; and we charge and command that their wives be as free as heart can wish or tongue can tell.

I trust that last part went over the heads of the grade-schoolers in the audience.

In sum, Shakespeare seems to have anticipated most of the nastier parts of modern totalitarianism. The fact that the children were so enthusiastic about Cade’s program is just one reason why children in general should not be allowed to vote. If anyone cares to object that the ones I observed were 6, 8, and 10 and that Matthew Yglesias is probably talking about 15- and 17-year-olds, please note my first sentence above: Ann Althouse’s political judgment certainly did not improve between 9 and 17.

Tuesday: September 20, 2011

Counting the Months, and Weeks, and Days, and Hours . . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:00 AM GMT-0500

As of noon today – right now, if I’ve figured out how to preschedule a post properly – we are two-thirds of the way through Obama’s first and (barring divine infernal intervention) only term. If we can make it through the next year and a third without any more permanent damage, we can begin the huge task of putting things back together. Some prosecutions would be in order, pour encourager les autres, but the next sixteen months are likely to provide plenty of encouragement for despisers of Obama, and discouragement for his dwindling band of admirers. Will the spectacle be terrifying, infuriating, revolting, pathetic, or just tedious? Probably all of the above, and some other adjectives that haven’t occurred to me yet.

Monday: August 8, 2011

How Unprecedented Was Today’s Stock-Market Collapse?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:40 PM GMT-0500

I haven’t been able to find the original at the Wall Street Journal site, but commenter ‘Chipper’ writes (on this Pajamas Media Tattler post):

Via WSJ’s Live Blog, Jason Goepfert of Sundial Capital Research writes in with this unhappy note:

“There’s still an hour of trading to go before the close of regular trading hours, but in the interim we’re seeing several breadth- and price-based indications that today is, in effect, a market crash.

“By that, I mean that the level of selling pressure is so great that we’ve witnessed something similar only a handful of times, and they were what most consider to be crashes or at least mini-crashes.

“First, breadth on the NYSE is skewed to the downside to a historic degree (fewer than 2% of stocks are positive on the day). Only 5/13/40 and 5/21/40 had fewer up stocks as a percentage of total stocks than today does. Yes, it’s been 70 years since it has been this bad.”

The dates mentioned are interesting. What was going on in U.S. and the world on May 13th and 21st, 1940, to explain two such disastrous stock market days?

What was going on was World War II. May 10th, 1940 was the day Nazi Germany invaded France and the Low Countries, Chamberlain resigned, and Churchill became Prime Minister. As I suspected as soon as I noticed the three days difference between these events and the stock-market slide in New York on the 13th, there was a weekend in between. May 10th was a Friday, so the 13th was the first full trading day after the ‘Phony War’ turned into a very real hot war, with the German Blitzkrieg making rapid progress through the Low Countries. The 13th was also the day the Germans broke through the French defenses around Sedan, though that was probably not known to the stock-trading public. Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech was also on the 13th.

The only New York Times front page I have been able to find for the period is from the 15th. The headlines are:


It looks as if newspapers were a couple of days behind events on the ground, and spinning things for the Allies as best they could.

By Tuesday, the 21st, the second stock-market disaster day, Queen Wilhelmina had fled to England (on the 13th), Rotterdam had been destroyed by German bombers (the 14th), the Dutch had surrendered (the 17th), and German tanks had reached the Channel (the 20th), cutting off the British Expeditionary Force, the French 1st Army, and what was left of the Belgian Army from the main body of the French Army. Again, I do not know whether the splitting of the Allied lines was known to newspaper readers in America by the close of the trading day on the 21st, but everyone must have known by then that the Allies were losing, and losing badly, after only a week and a half of full-scale hostilities. (I imagine the French and British stock markets – not to mention the Dutch and Belgian – were dropping even farther and faster than the NYSE, but that’s irrelevant here.)

What can we conclude? When it comes to wrecking the NYSE, Obama’s administration and its enablers (of both parties) in Congress have arguably been more destructive than anything since the darkest days of World War II. If Chipper’s source is right, Obama’s debt downgrade has been worse for the economy than Pearl Harbor. Heck of a job, Barry! Time to take a hint from Neville Chamberlain and resign? Not that Joe Biden has any resemblance to Winston Churchill . . . . We’re screwed.

Friday: May 20, 2011

Metaphor Abuse

Filed under: — site admin @ 6:23 AM GMT-0500

Hmmm. Prof. Pecinovsky of the University of Missouri thinks (perhaps not quite the right verb) that the United States is “the belly of the beast” (þ InstaPundit), yet he continues to live here, when there are undoubtedly other countries to which he could emigrate. If he chooses to live in the belly of a beast, and to accept sustenance from it (a salary paid for by the taxpayers of Missouri), doesn’t that make him a metaphorical tapeworm?

Sunday: March 13, 2011

Not a Joke: I Think This is Actually True

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:07 PM GMT-0500

Hypothesis: People who can’t spell “New Hamshire” spend way too much time* reading Jane Hamsher at LiarDogFake FireDogLake. And vice versa: Google gives 1,030 hits for “Jane Hampsher”.

* = any time at all

Saturday: March 5, 2011

Missing the Obvious Joke

Filed under: — site admin @ 3:55 PM GMT-0500

InstaPundit suggests putting GPS chips in state legislators, but does not mention the biggest advantage: it would make it a lot easier to track them down when they refuse to show up for work. I’d love to see a GPS map showing exactly where each of the fourteen Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate is right now. Think of the possibilities: Constituents, reporters, and busybodies could go ask them questions. They might soon be reduced to using room service for all their meals. If one of them tried to slip into Wisconsin to take care of some personal business, state troopers could nab him as soon as he crossed the state line and make him (horrors!) show up for work. We could all gossip about what it means if one of the men and one of the women are in the same location while the other twelve are elsewhere. We could cross-reference current locations against the locations of crack houses, strip clubs, and massage parlors. I’m sure there are other possibilities for good clean fun. Feel free to put your suggestions in the (moderated) comments.

Wednesday: February 23, 2011

Latest Headline on Qaddafi [sp?]

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:08 AM GMT-0500

Qaddafi vows to ‘die as a martyr’

(The National, whoever they are – þ Rantburg).

Am I the only one thinking of the scene in Men in Black where the farmer tells the alien “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers” and the alien replies “Your proposal is acceptable” and acts on it?

According to The National, Qaddafi has vowed to fight “to my last drop of blood”, and I can’t think of any possible objection to that, either.

Thursday: January 20, 2011

A Cheerful Thought

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:58 PM GMT-0500

As of noon today, Barack Obama’s first term and almost certainly his entire administration are now half over. A lot can happen in the next two years, and a lot of very nasty things will surely happen once he is a lame duck and various enemies realize they don’t have much time left to do damage, but so far he has accomplished nothing irretrievable.

Tuesday: January 18, 2011

Help the Downtrodden

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:58 PM GMT-0500

Ann Althouse has been asking for parodies of the Gadsden flag, designed to mock the new civility. Here’s my submission (get it?):

Being lazy, I stole the snake picture from Hazy Dave, whose own flag (seen in this Althouse post) inspired mine, and just updated his caption.

Should I add a line? “I’m crying because no one will tread on me.”

Wednesday: December 29, 2010

Wikipedia Warms My Cold Cold Heart

Filed under: — site admin @ 6:31 PM GMT-0500

Fans of bluegrass and other traditional American music all know “The Wreck of the Old 97”. Without even trying, I have acquired five versions by four different artists for my iPod: Ernest Stoneman & Kayle Brewer, Hank Thompson, Johnny Cash (live, at San Quentin), and two by Mac Wiseman. For those who do not know the song, it usually begins something like this:

Well they gave him his orders at Monroe, Virginia,
Saying “Steve, you’re way behind time.
This is not 38, it’s old 97.
You must put her into Spencer on time.”

A complete set of lyrics – more complete than in any version I have heard sung – will be found at the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum website. Most singers start with the third verse, quoted above.

Wikipedia’s article on the wreck and the song includes a detail I had not known:

During the late 1940s, a parody of the ballad was sung that mocked the ties that the folk singer Pete Seeger had to the Communist Party.

They give the first four lines, which is enough for Google to find the rest at the Socialist Songbook website:


    (Tune: Wreck of the Old ’97)

Well, they gave him his orders
Up at party headquarters,
Saying, “Pete, you’re way behind the times,
This is not ’38; this is 1947,
And there’s been a change in that old party line.”

Well, it’s a long, long haul
From “Greensleeves” to “Freiheit”,
And the distance is more than long,
But that great outfit they call the People’s Artists
Is on hand with those good old People’s songs.

Their motives are pure, their material is corny,
But their spirit will never be broke.
And they go right on in their great noble crusade –
Of teaching folk songs to the folk.

Wikipedia’s Pete Seeger article doesn’t mention the parody.