Tuesday, September 30, 2008

In case you didn't know: Female Lumberjacks

...are called lumberjills.

I had no idea, but it makes perfect sense.

Bishop's Hat

Also known as horny goat weed could be an alternative to Viagra in tackling impotence, research suggests.

Please follow this link

to Miss Self-Important's place, and then follow the link there.

Thank you.

Lion King

Today, my statement that The Lion King is a rip off of Hamlet resulted in a huge blow up by a coworker. After several minutes, said coworker had to admit she had not read Hamlet when they were assigned it in high school, but that she loved The Lion King.

"Perhaps you would love Hamlet as well," quoth I.

"Is there an animated version?"

"Yes, it's called The Lion King."

"Oh, right."

Something rotten in the City of Bristol

Telegraph:
Tenants have been warned that padlocks can lead to thieves forcing their way through doors and windows of the council-owned sheds to steal garden equipment.

Bristol City Council claims its 'Don't Use a Padlock' initiative will save taxpayers' money because fewer sheds will have to be repaired or replaced.


Has the entire country lost its head?

Correspondence

FLG,

Why are you FLG and not FaLiG or FLiG?


Brevity.

Justice for Gurkhas

Telegraph:
Gurkhas who fought alongside the British Army have won their battle to settle in the UK following a High Court test case.


More on European interventions

Here and here.

Dog Art

No, not dogs playing poker.

I was lazy last winter and attempted, along with Mrs. FLG and Alan, to visit the the Hopper exhibit at National Gallery of Art on the last day. The line was too long, and we decided to head over to the other part of the museum. There I noticed The Interior of the Oude Kerk by Emanuel de Witte. At first, it appears to be an agreeable, but not particularly memorable painting. Yet, upon closer inspection, in the bottom left hand quadrant a dog is peeing on a column. This revelation, quite obviously, made the entire trip worthwhile even though it was balls cold outside and I didn't get to see Hopper, but an even more important discovery occurred when I returned home.

A quick Google search divulged de Witte's penchant for placing dogs peeing on columns in his paintings.

French National Pastime Update

Now it's social-medical or something personnel protesting.

First step, robots riding unicycles

Next step, ninja skills and world domination.

What FLG is listening to right now II

Mr. Booze:

What FLG is listening to right now

Puccini:

More than a wee bit of magical shenanigans!

Darby O'Gill and the Little People is an often overlooked part of Sean Connery's filmography.

New Comment Rule

No ranting about military-industrial complex conspiracies. I will not permit this place to be overrun by kooks. If you don't think people who propound military-industrial complex theories are kooks, then you are a kook.

Thank You.
The Management

Art Appreciation

Dear Sir Basil Seal:

I have long coveted membership in your art appreciation club – Roman Catholic Boys for Art. Uninvited and unable to join due to my heretical status, I am left with no other alternative but to found my own organization – Heretic Boys for Art. The name is somewhat uncreative, but I believe that HBfA has the potential to rival your august institution in a very short time.

Us heretics have distinct advantages when it comes to art appreciation. First, we are unburdened by copious amounts of guilt. Second, we will save money on indulgences. I shudder at what the total bill for RCBfA must be on that front. Lastly, the eight hours you spend in confession and saying Hail Marys for uttering the word nipple is time we can spend appreciating art. However, heretics also have a tendency to go off the reservation, so to speak. HBfA could easily cross the line from the more exotic forms of art into out and out pornography; many of us just don’t possess the good taste and sense to discern the difference. Therefore, HBfA membership will be restricted to heretics who have received a classical education, myself the only exception.

All members must recognize the risks they are taking in joining HBfA, namely the possibility of being burnt at the stake in effigy by members of RCBfA. However, I hope that RCBfA and HBfA can have a symbiotic relationship despite our differences.

Sincerely,
FLG

With no further ado, the first HBfA entry...

Monday, September 29, 2008

VP Debate pregame

Keys for both sides:
Biden - A lot of people are starting to believe Palin is a moron, so shut the fuck up and play defense. Your ego, grandstanding, and the powerful ennui force field that surrounds you could ruin everything. Hook an electrode to your thigh. If you talk for more than a minute, then have a staffer zap you.

Palin - Practice stringing together three or more sentences that make sense. Currently, you are relying on cliches and buzzwords. It reminds me of that commercial when the boss said par-a-dig-um instead of paradigm. If at all possible stay at a Holiday Inn Express the night before. I'm giving you this last shot before I call you a moron.

Men's Room Etiquette

An oldie, but goodie.

Hate cuddling?

There's now a solution.

Goings on at Georgetown

The Justice and Peace Studies Speaker Series Collective
in collaboration with the Center for Social Justice & Program on Justice and Peace


presents:

The Soybean Wars
Militarization, Agribusiness Expansion & Community Resistance

Tuesday, September 30
7:00pm
Philosophy Conference Room
2nd Floor New North Building


Leticia Galeano, an inspiring young leader from the Movimiento Agrario y Popular (a peasant organization in Caaguazu, Paraguay) and university student in Asuncion will speak about militarization in Paraguay, criminalization of social movements, local resistance to soy expansion and the role of transnational actors in the Soybean Wars.


Soybeans?

Weird fact for Phoebe

Dear Phoebe:

I have been receiving a frightening amount of hits for "Jewess Porn" since this post. I am not sure what to make of it or if you would even be interested in that fact, but there it is.

Sincerely,
FLG

Credit Crunch

My biggest fear is that the pressure to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING will lead to a huge logrolling where Democrats and Republicans give each other everything they want and the price tag for the bailout bill is $2.7 gazillion.

That or the world ends before then.

Dear Withywindle...

pour vous.

Charles II and the Earl of Rochester

Charles II came up recently. I've always found him a more fascinating character than Cromwell.



Since watching The Libertine I always picture John Malkovich as Charles. Furthermore, it's perhaps Johnny Depp's best performance, which is high praise from me.

Self-evident men's fashion truths

I'm upset that I even have to take time out of my busy day to articulate what should otherwise be completely obvious.

A suit with flip-flops does not make you look cool; you look ridiculous.

Huh?

Telegraph:
A church service for Dutch Christian naturists has been cancelled this weekend after hostile reactions from other, more conventional, worshippers.

"I don't understand what all the fuss is about," said a spokesman for the Gan Eden or Garden of Eden group. "We are just a group of Christians and we want to hold a church service."


And we just want you to put clothes on.

The naturists believe that as humanity's first couple were blameless and as the Bible places no requirements to wear clothing then there is no reason for Christians to be ashamed of their naked bodies.


No, no reason at all. It's just polite to put on some knickers. Can somebody explain this to me? I don't get it.

Correspondence

Flg,

The Fear and Loathing in Georgetown Emergency Response System mentioned a Fear and Loathing in Georgetown Castle? I don't remember a castle in Georgetown.


Dear Sir,

The castle is in an undisclosed location, like Cheney's bunker. No point in having a hideout everybody knows about. Here is an old picture. Spooky, huh? Sometimes, we rent it out for Halloween parties.

You too can be FLG!

I have decided to reopen my Dread Pirate Roberts-esque succession plan offer.

Wonder Woman

Helloooo new Wonder Woman.

FLG versus History Departments or How Academic History Tried to Ruin Pirates for FLG

I could write an entire book about how the heinous overemphasis of the longue duree approach has ruined the academic discipline of history.  However, I will simply provide an example.

I brimmed with excitement when I learned that this class devoted an entire week to pirates.  Unfortunately, rather than profiles of a few representative pirates, the readings and TAs steered the discussion into an entirely different, and in my opinion uninteresting, direction.

The argument was this:
Pirates, unable to better themselves in the ossified class structure of Europe and England in particular, attempted to create a socialist utopia where individualism, egalitarianism, adventure, and freedom were paramount.  Beatnik Dharma Bums before their time.  The pirates drew up contracts with extra shares for injured and maimed pirates.  They voted on the important matters.  They took wealth from the Spanish, who didn't deserve it anyway because they exploited the Indians and their lands.  The only profiles of individual pirates were two females, Anne Bonny and Mary Read.  Oh, those egalitarian, gender non-conforming pirates.

Puh-Leez.




They were treasure obsessed criminals, even if they received commissions. They raped and plundered. Several notable pirates were of noble birth. They were simply badasses who were given the greenlight to be badasses. Instead, I received an explanation pseudo-Marxist, feminist bullshit.

Oh, and an armed society is a polite society. So, of course, the pirates would be nice to each other.

EDIT: Also, please, I don't want a diatribe on the differences between Marxist historiography, longue duree, and whatever other faddish gobbledygook historians have created to call their nameless forces that control all humans such that individuals don't matter.

Perhaps the best recipe ever.

French Toast and Bacon Sandwich

Islam and Terrorism

I am uncomfortable with this passage from strategy page:
The theological errors of the current crop of Islamic terrorists are half a century old, and have never been a secret. Moreover, the goals of the terrorist groups (Moslem Brotherhood, Salafists, al Qaeda and so on), were the removal of the tyrants running, and misruling, Moslem nations, and thus widely popular. Moslem theologians knew they were vulnerable to a very physical backlash if they openly criticized these "heroes," so they kept quiet.


Al-Qaeda is a band of murderous thugs, but this passage implies that the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists are terrorists full stop. First, let's discuss Salafism:
Whichever definition is used, Salafis idealize an uncorrupted, pure Islamic religious community. They believe that Islam's decline after the early generations is the result of religious innovations (bid‘ah) and that an Islamic revival will result through the emulation of the three early generations and the purging of foreign influences from the religion.


An important theological point on Salafist is that they believe that anybody and everybody can interpret the Koran. This often leads to less nuanced, simplistic, and often dangerous interpretations of God's will, as well as the theological errors referred to above. While some Salafists believe proselytism is the best path, others believe they must manifest Islamic paradise through violent action. This is a long way of saying that most terrorists are Salafists, but not all Salafists are terrorists.

The Muslim Brotherhood is a different thing altogether. Hasan Al-Banna writes in To What Do We Summon Mankind?:
By your Lord, my dear brother, have the Muslims understood the Book of their Lord in this fashion, so that their souls have been uplifted, and their spirits raised on high? So that they have freed themselves of the pleasures of fleshly lusts and cravings? So that they have lifted themselves above trivialities and lowly concerns, and turned their faces toward God, who created the heavens and the earth, as pure believers who exalt God's Word and strive in His path? And who broadcast His faith and defend His Sacred Law? Or are they prisoners of their lusts and slaves of their cravings and greed, whose sole interest is a delicate mouthful, a fast car, a handsome suit, a comfortable nap, a fair wife, a false front and an empty title?


He continues:
Since the goal was what provided the impulse to follow the path, and the goal has become obscured and confused in our umma, it was absolutely imperative that we clarify and define it, and I believe that we have succeeded to a great extent in doing so. We have come to the conclusion that it is our duty to establish sovereignty over the world and to guide all humanity to the sound precepts of Islam and to its teachings, without which mankind cannot attain happiness.


The part about establishing sovereignty over the whole world is troubling to say the least, but the different chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood in different countries have interpreted the means to achieve the above end in different ways. Chapters of the Muslim Brotherhood have acted as both terrorist group and political opposition, sometimes simultaneously in the same country.

My point here is not to justify the above theological, ideological, or political ideas. Rather if we are going to defeat Islamic terrorism it would be wise for us to understand who our enemy is. Not all Salafists are our enemy. Not every member of the Muslim Brotherhood is our enemy. I fear that both rhetoric and actions taken under this false understanding exacerbates the war against terrorism.

The logic goes like this:
All Islamic terrorists are our enemy.
All Salafists are Islamic terrorists.
Therefore, Salafists are our enemy.

However, the second line is fallacious.

Another big related concern of mine is the evangelical Christian culture in our armed services, particularly in the service I have taken again to calling the Army Air Corps. I have no problem with evangelical Christianity, but I do have a problem with the reports of bias and pressure on people who are not evangelical Christians to conform. The my way is God's Word attitude of some, but definitely not all evangelical Christians is as offputting, and frankly a concern, when fighting a war where victory and defeat may hinge upon understanding the internal nuances of a religiously motivated enemy.

I am not some lefty arguing that we need to understand their grievances with us because the West is evil and always at fault. What I am saying is that our lack of understanding may be creating more enemies than necessary and that some potential allies in this struggle are being alienated.

Emergency Concluded

Slight Weapons Malfunction. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Good rhetorical question

who needs pirates when you have federal regulators?

Courtesy of dave.s.

Quotes of the day

Miss Self-Important:
Either way, bad news: the children are free and you should run for your lives.


From the same:
Also, this book made me reconsider my plan to write Straussian chick lit in favor of Straussian children's lit.

Avaricious Corsairs

NYTimes:
Somali pirates in a hijacked ship carrying more than 30 battle tanks were steaming toward a notorious pirate den on Saturday, and they vowed not to release the ship until a $35 million ransom was paid, Somali and Kenyan officials said.


Said pirates returning to their notorious pirate den recreated in lego:

Sadness



Paul Newman has passed. Your humble blogger had the pleasure of meeting him once, in a Boston Market of all places. I think it might have been called Boston Chicken back then. He was extremely gracious.

Cambridge and Berkeley Logic

A Don's Life:
But is it true that the North Koreans are three inches shorter than their peers in the South?

Well, now as of 2008, it is.

But only since the vast famine of the 1990s, which killed millions of North Koreans and stunted the growth of almost all those still under twenty or so. If you take the over-40 year old population, there is no difference between North and South Korea.

Sure, the dysfunction of the government and its uneasy relationship with the providers of aid was one reason for the severity of the famine – and the West’s lack of interest in intervention was, no doubt, another. But the idea that McCain is peddling -- that bad government leads to a short population -- is a strange and misleading version of (political) Darwinism.


The West has done a lot of bad things, but the backwardness and evilness of North Korea is not one of them. Even hinting that the West had anything to do with the criminal situation of the North Korean population requires tortured, circular moral logic. Furthermore, what type of intervention was the West lacking in interest for?

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Best Part of Being a Dad in Waiting, So Far

Learning that there is a product called Boudreaux's Butt Paste.

He he. It says butt paste.

Good people, those Peperiums

Mrs. Peperium was nice enough to add some pizazz and post A Conversation over at Patum Peperium.

Congo

IHT:
Congo's 83-year-old prime minister announced Thursday he is resigning due to fatigue.

In a statement broadcast on state television, Antoine Gizenga said "even if the spirit is still sane and alert, the body has its limits and those must be taken into account."


All ministerial duties will be temporarily fulfilled by this guy:


Oh, but FLG, is so wrong to pick on Congo like that. Ahem.

Robot Spy

FLG is so going to order this internet controlled robot spy.

Correspondence

The reader who wrote recently writes again:
FLG,

The only post I have found by GEC is his On War booklist, and you seem to imply he is all over the world undermining governments.



The best approximate explanation of GEC is this video. Please notice how he doesn't flinch when the explosion goes off:

Port Royal and Tortuga are now armed to the teeth

The Times:
The pirates would hardly have been able to believe their eyes as they inspected the hold of their latest conquest, the Faina.

The Ukrainian vessel was heading for the Kenyan port of Mombasa loaded down with rocket-propelled grenades, anti-aircraft guns and 30 Russian T-72 tanks.

“They really hit the jackpot this time,” said a regional arms expert. “There is not much they can do with the tanks, but the RPGs and the Zu-23 anti-aircraft guns will soon find their way into Somalia’s arms markets.

“These are the sort of weapons that fighters in Somalia really like.”


I'm sorry, but wouldn't a ship carrying that much armament be capable of fighting off a ragtag bunch of pirates? A few RPGs should have done the trick, no?

Oxtoby Prize


September 26, 2008

Dear All,

The Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, is pleased to announce the Willard G. Oxtoby essay prize. This annual award of $2,000 will be given for the best paper by a Georgetown graduate student on the question of Palestine and Middle East peace. Papers may analyze the Arab-Israeli conflict--and conflict resolution--in any of its aspects. The competition is open to currently enrolled Georgetown graduate students. The paper should be between 6,000 and 8,000. The deadline for submission is May 1, 2009. Papers should be submitted to Jenna Beveridge, Oxtoby Prize Competition, 241 ICC. The winner, chosen by a faculty committee, will be announced in mid-May.

Dr. Willard Gurdon Oxtoby was Professor of Comparative Religion at the University of Toronto's Trinity College, served as founding director of its Centre for the Study of Religion from 1976 to 1981 and was a leading scholar on world religions. Dr. Oxtoby died in March 2003. Throughout his life, he was deeply concerned with the situation of the Palestinians and was a strong advocate of a peaceful and just solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. This award is given in his memory by his family and friends.



GEC writes:
Translation: The essay that best exemplifies loathing for Israel and most excuses killing large numbers of civilians as a direct method of compellance, wins.

A conversation

There is a knock at the FLGs' door.

Mrs. FLG: It's three am. Who's knocking at this hour?

FLG: How should I know?

FLG walks to the door, looks through the peep hole, and sees two men in cheap suits.

FLG (yelling through the door): What do you want? It's three in the morning.

Fitz: Special Agent Fitz, FBI. Please open up.

FLG leans up against the door to prevent a kick in, unlocks the deadbolt, and opens the door a crack.

FLG: Can I see some ID?

They show two IDs, but FLG has no idea what a real FBI ID looks like. He decides to let them in.

Fitz: I'm Special Agent Fitz. This is Special Agent Mallory. Sorry to bother you at this hour...

FLG: Ungodly hour.

Fitz: Sorry to bother you at this ungodly hour, but we have reason to believe you may have been in contact with some people of interest.

FLG: The guy upstairs is a complete asshole, but whatever you think he has done, he probably hasn't. Mrs. FLG and I thought he murdered his wife, but I saw her yesterday.

Mallory: Not him. The Catholic Blog Mafia.

FLG: You're kidding me, right?

Fitz: Do we look like we are joking?

FLG: No, you appear to have had your humor removed via colonoscopy.

Fitz: What do you know about them?

FLG: Nothing. They seem like nice enough folks though.

Fitz: You have no idea what they are capable of.

FLG: What are they capable of?

Mallory: For starters elk and llama smuggling.

FLG: I thought it was llama butchering?

Mallory: That's step 2. Step 1, smuggle llamas. Step 2, butcher llamas. Step 3, profit. Get it?

FLG: Okay, that's the llamas. Irish Elk appears to be a pleasant fellow. He just posts crazy cool old shit.

Fitz: Codes, Mr. in Georgetown, those are codes.

FLG: Like Blue Horseshoe loves Anacot Steel?

Mallory: Far more treacherous.

Fitz: Are you familiar with steganography?

FLG: Yes.

Fitz (relieved): Thank goodness. Most of the time when I tell people messages can be hidden in pictures and videos they ask how. Explaining it takes so much time, and even then they don't get it. Anyway, you see what we are dealing with here.

FLG: Yes, you two are nuts.

Mallory: We are not nuts, Mr. in Georgetown. You are in way over your head. You probably think Sir Basil Seal is simply a nice man who sits home and reads all day.

FLG: He isn't?

Mallory: That's your nice man.



























FLG falls off his chair.

FLG: Holy shit! I pictured him as Col. Mustard.

Fitz: Holy shit is right, Mr. in Georgetown. Why else did you think he is so interested in 007?

FLG: What about Mrs. Peperium? She seems so nice as well.

Mallory: Deadly. You should see what she keeps under that nightshirt of hers.

FLG: Mr. P probably wouldn't like that.

Mallory: Mr. P is dead, you naive fool! Read the website! Poets' Coroner -- Mr. P discusses dead white guys...himself included.

FLG: What do you want me to do?

Fitz: Nothing right now. Keep a low profile. This area is crawling with their agents. Be especially careful when in Arlington. It's a hotbed of activity.

FLG: But I'm in Arlington almost everyday.

Mallory: We'll be in touch, Mr. in Georgetown. If you live that long. We have to follow up on a guy who calls himself The Maximum Leader.

This is getting crazy

WaPo
Federal regulators last night seized the massive, troubled mortgage lender Washington Mutual in the largest bank failure in U.S. history, then immediately sold much of the company to J.P. Morgan Chase for $1.9 billion in a deal that will create the largest bank in the country.


$1.9 billion? Why not sell it for $1?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Correspondence

FLG.

Sweetheart, you should dump Fear and Loathing in Georgetown and start a blog consisting of a fictitious pirate captain's journal entries.


DON'T. TEMPT. ME.

Julius Caesar versus Pirates

Empire of Blue Water, p. 37:
Julius Caesar had been captured by pirates off the island of Pharmacusa and spent thirty-eight days gambling and declaiming his own verses with the corsairs; he joked that when he won his release, he would come back and crucify all of them, which the pirates found hilarious. When he'd bought his release, he quickly borrowed a fleet of ships, tracked down the pirates, and crucified them.


I first read this story in Plutarch and then again in Piracy in the Graeco-Roman World, but I'd forgotten about it.

Ripoff

In the last post, I shamelessly ripped off The Maximum Leader's idea, but he doesn't have thongs. Actually, he should put some quotes from The Canterbury Tales on a pair of boxers. For example:
"Now then, put in thy hand down by my back,"
Said this man, "and grope well behind.
Beneath my buttock where shalt thou find
A thing that I have hidden in private."

"Ah!" thought this friar, "That shall go with me!"
And down his hand he thrusts to the cleft
In hope to find there a gift.
And when this sick man felt this friar
About his anus grope there and here,
Amid his hand he let the friar a fart.

FLG Gear

Just what you have always wanted, a Fear and Loathing in Georgetown thong! Or get the limited edition Fear and Loathing in Georgetown in incorrect Latin mousepad.

Newscasters

The Katie Couric interview of Sarah Palin reminded me to do my routine announcement of my plan to rocket a network newscast to ratings glory.

Correspondence

A reader writes:

Dear FLiG,

Just who the Hell are you?


Clay Aiken's gay lover.

Correspondence

Do you think China will be able to take advantage of our current economic weakness?


First, they are going to get totally screwed. Trust me. Second, the Chinese have bought into the American dream of living in Springfield as much as the rest of us.

Titty Garcia?

Telegraph:
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the company's co-founders, received a letter from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) claiming that the switch [cow's milk to human breast milk] would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and improve the health of consumers.

Moment of Silence

FLG's heart goes out to the poor people of Greenwich, CT who have just suffered a Katrina-esqe disaster.

Fear and Loathing in Georgetown will be taking donations. Please send new, unopened Bvlgari and Patek Phillipe to me, and I will direct it to an estate in need.

Thank you. Every little bit helps.

An open letter to workout guy on the bus

Dear Sir:

I share your penchant for fitness, but beg you to shower sometime between finishing your workout and boarding our mutual bus. Your sweaty Under Armour attire is certainly fashionable, but it does not prevent you from smelling like a stewed pile of old socks. Furthermore, while I realize that one of Nature's most cruel jokes is that we have difficulty smelling ourselves, wouldn't the simple logic that a grown man perspiring profusely pours forth putridity be enough to persuade you to partake of the powder room before prancing off to pester people? Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, clean up before you get on the bus.

Sincerely,
FLG

Sex Slavery

Nicolas Kristof has a very moving piece today about sexual slavery and prostitution. He rails against those who say it is inevitable and consequently acquiesce to its existence.

If we defeated slavery in the 19th century, we can beat it in the 21st century.


It is no coincidence that slavery was eliminated in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution was replacing labor by animate beings, humans and beasts, with inanimate energy, steam, hydro, combustion, electricity, etc. We all like to believe that society recognized the horror of slavery and decided to eliminate it based upon moral grounds. To some extent it was a moral issue. However, slavery existed as far back as we can trace records and we conveniently found the moral clarity to get rid of it when we created machines to do the work instead.

Sex slavery is no different. We don't have machines that adequately fulfill the need. Until, and I am completely serious here, realistic sex robots are invented we will be stuck with sexual slavery. Nonetheless, we should fight it as best we can even if it is inevitable and its complete elimination is futile. But if you want to end sexual slavery, then invest in sex robot development.

Full Disclosure

Last night, I submitted a post about an article in The Hoya. I have since removed it. Almost everything in the newspaper makes me cringe because it typically consists of that naive-18-22-change-the-world-idealism that I find offputting. Doubly so when I think that many of these kids writing about changing the world will become, if Wall Street recovers, investment bankers, management consultants, or corporate lawyers.

So, I deleted the post and will refrain from writing about Hoya articles unless it is from a professor or Will Quinn. Otherwise, I will spend the rest of my days blogging at windmills.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Workout

I forgot to post this week, but I am still working out. Same as last week and the week before. This is the final week of Category I of the workout schedule. Next week is category II, which is more intense.

L'Étranger

Finished. I need to do some thinking about it. Perhaps re-read some Sartre as well. But I liked it a great deal.

Alan's Insanity

Exhibit A:
Palin, however, is not hot.


You Sir, are insane.

Haberdashing

I bought this rain jacket today, but wish I had purchased this suit.

President of the Sir Basil Seal Fan Club?

Telegraph:
Russian skydiver swigs spirits while floating


Just asking, Sir Basil.

Goings on at Georgetown



Dear Members of the Georgetown University Community,

Please be advised that on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at approximately 3:30 a.m., a group of 12-15 white males and females broke into a private residence and stole a bronze bull's head sculpture worth $25,000.


I don't know what's funnier, that 12-15 white people stole a bronze statue in the shape of a bull's head or that a statue of a bull's head is worth $25,000. Did Remington do a bull's head piece?

Locke versus Panhandlers

Miss Self-Important sent me a link to this article about panhandling as a career.

Carter prepared for his stint on the street by surfing the Internet, where a variety of websites dispense panhandling advice. NeedCom, for example—subtitled “Market Research for Panhandlers”—offers tips from Baker and other pros on how to hustle. The website’s developer, Cathy Davies, wants it to get people “thinking about panhandling as a realistic economic activity, rather than thinking that panhandlers are lazy or don’t work very hard.”


The venerable John Locke had a solution to this in his Scheme of Methods for the Employment of the Poor:
That all men sound of limb and mind, above fourteen and under fifty years of age, begging in maritime counties out of their own parish without a pass, shall be seized on, either by any officer of the parish where they so beg or by the inhabitants of the house themselves where they beg...there to be kept at hard labour till some of his Majesty's ships coming in or near there give the opportunity of putting them on board, where they shall serve three years under strict discipline.


He goes on like this for fourteen pages. Cutting off of ears is mentioned.

Un-American

Telegraph:
Fans of the Vandals, the University of Idaho’s American football team, were upset that the cheerleaders’ two-piece uniforms – tops little bigger than a bra, and short skirts that looked like more hot pants – showed too much flesh.

Bruce Pitman, the university dean, said that although there were “a number of fans who liked them”, the outfits had now been deemed inappropriate.

Some of the cheerleaders had also complained that the outfits were not comfortable and did not suit their figures.


Who are these supposed fans upset about showing too much flesh? Canadians, I bet. They look like perfectly dignified young ladies to me.

Legion of Villainy

Fear and Loathing in Georgetown has made it into the Legion of Villainy.

I have been instructed by GEC, who is currently busy and with limited outside communication, to thank The Maximum Leader for this acknowledgment.

Don't worry...

the shitters won't point toward Mecca.

The Olympic Delivery Authority has said it wants to produce an ideal venue for people of all cultures, faiths, ages and abilities for the 2012 Games and beyond.

The Islamic religion prohibits Muslims from facing the Kiblah - the direction of prayer - when they visit the lavatory.

An ODA spokesman said a "percentage of general toilets would not face Mecca" as part of its drive to make the 2012 games the most inclusive and accessible Olympics to date.

As part of the design, special washing facilities will be linked to Islamic prayer rooms.

It is not the first time toilets have changed direction to accommodate Muslims.

Last year, thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money was used to ensure toilets at Brixton prison in London did not offend Islamic law.


I'm all for religious tolerance, diversity, and all that, but this is crazy time.

FLG's Poulos Translator

Today, FLG feels it necessary to fire up the old PoMoCon translator.

Poulos writes:
There are, I think, three possible approaches for us people with whom Niebuhr shares a culture: pursuing the always-already-unattainable goal of world community on the grounds that everyone in the world is human as science understands humanity; pursuing world community on the grounds that everyone is human as Christianity understands humanity; and pursuing it because this is the vector of the contingent project we’ve all been set out on as a matter of cultural and historical happenstance.



Translation:

There are three reasons people feel like singing Kumbaya with everybody else in the world. First, because biologically everybody else is a human being, and we are people people. Second, our faith says that we must love one another. Lastly, we have no fucking clue why we want to sing Kumbaya with everybody else. Somehow, somebody at the keg party decided it was a good idea to get high together, and we said, "Dude, like totally!"

Blackadder

An email this morning referenced this scene from Blackadder II:


This one is my favorite though:

Decimate or Decimation

Use these words only in reference to the destruction of 1/10th of a population. If you mean to say that an entire population was wiped out, then use another word.

For example, I want to obliterate al-Qaeda, not decimate it.

Correspondence

What do you think about the Yankees not making the postseason and the impending obliteration of Yankee Stadium?


First, serves them right for not keeping Torre. Second, it's a national tragedy to tear down the House that Ruth built. Perhaps even a Sox fan can agree to that.

National Punctuation Day

Via University Diaries


This post however contains none whatsoever

Justice, finally!

Telegraph:
Monty Python's Life of Brian will be shown in Torbay after a 28-year ban was lifted.


They will now know the genius of Bigus Dickus:

Duh!

Clay Aiken is gay.

I wait with baited breath for the same world-shattering announcement from Ricky Martin, at which time I will be just as astonished.

Saudi Arabian Empowerment

They want their Oprah, and they want it now!

"I feel that Oprah truly understands me," Nayla said. "She gives me energy and hope for my life. Sometimes I think that she is the only person in the world who knows how I feel."

"If women here have problems with their fathers or their brothers, what can they do but look to Oprah?" she asked. "The idea that she will come and help them is a dream for them."


This is something I am actually going to give some thought to rather than a simple snarky comment. It could be that Oprah's influence 1) results in progress or 2) that it acts as a bullshit self-empowerment salve and the ladies in Saudi Arabia feel better about themselves because of the self-delusion that things are getting better.

In case you didn't know: The European Space Agency

The ESA's launch site is in French Guiana, which, as you know, is in South America. It proximity to the equator makes it advantageous for some reason that I escapes me. But I've always found it odd that the Europeans don't launch their rockets from Europe.

North Korea

Apparently, Dr. Evil has decided to start up his nuclear program again.

Le Monde:
La Corée du Nord relance son programme nucléaire militaire


According to the article, the IAEA seals and surveillance cameras have been removed.

Pirate Recon

Strategy Page:
Spain is sending a P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Djibouti, where it will patrol the waters off the northern coast of Somalia. Pirates here have become an increasing problem there.

Ender's Game



Wrote about the Ender's Game issue in June. I should have made a cool video.



HT: Danger Room

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Joe Biden may be smart, but he knows he is way smarter than anybody who ever lived

And he really likes to talk a lot, which, unfortunately, casts doubt on his unbelievable intelligence.

The Devil

The changing perception of the devil is an interest of mine. In the Bible, the devil is almost exclusively portrayed as a sort of trickster or tempter. The threat of physical intervention in the world by the devil or demons is downplayed. The best example I can think of off the top of my head comes from Summa Theologica, which means this idea lasted until at least the 13th century.

Summa Theologica:
Whether men are assailed by the demons?

Objection 1: It would seem that men are not assailed by the demons. For angels are sent by God to guard man. But demons are not sent by God: for the demons' intention is the loss of souls; whereas God's is the salvation of souls. Therefore demons are not deputed to assail man.

Objection 2: Further, it is not a fair fight, for the weak to be set against the strong, and the ignorant against the astute. But men are weak and ignorant, whereas the demons are strong and astute. It is not therefore to be permitted by God, the author of all justice, that men should be assailed by demons.

Objection 3: Further, the assaults of the flesh and the world are enough for man's exercise. But God permits His elect to be assailed that they may be exercised. Therefore there is no need for them to be assailed by the demons.

On the contrary, The Apostle says (Eph. 6:12): "Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."

I answer that, Two things may be considered in the assault of the demons---the assault itself, and the ordering thereof. The assault itself is due to the malice of the demons, who through envy endeavor to hinder man's progress; and through pride usurp a semblance of Divine power, by deputing certain ministers to assail man, as the angels of God in their various offices minister to man's salvation. But the ordering of the assault is from God, Who knows how to make orderly use of evil by ordering it to good. On the other hand, in regard to the angels, both their guardianship and the ordering thereof are to be referred to God as their first author.

Reply to Objection 1: The wicked angels assail men in two ways. Firstly by instigating them to sin; and thus they are not sent by God to assail us, but are sometimes permitted to do so according to God's just judgments. But sometimes their assault is a punishment to man: and thus they are sent by God; as the lying spirit was sent to punish Achab, King of Israel, as is related in 3 Kgs. 22:20. For punishment is referred to God as its first author. Nevertheless the demons who are sent to punish, do so with an intention other than that for which they are sent; for they punish from hatred or envy; whereas they are sent by God on account of His justice.

Reply to Objection 2: In order that the conditions of the fight be not unequal, there is as regards man the promised recompense, to be gained principally through the grace of God, secondarily through the guardianship of the angels. Wherefore (4 Kgs. 6:16), Eliseus said to his servant: "Fear not, for there are more with us than with them."

Reply to Objection 3: The assault of the flesh and the world would suffice for the exercise of human weakness: but it does not suffice for the demon's malice, which makes use of both the above in assailing men. But by the Divine ordinance this tends to the glory of the elect.


Whether all sins are due to the temptation of the devil?

Objection 1: It would seem that all sins are due to the temptation of the devil. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "the multitude of demons is the cause of all evils, both to themselves and to others." And Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 4) that "all malice and all uncleanness have been devised by the devil."

Objection 2: Further, of every sinner can be said what the Lord said of the Jews (Jn. 8:44): "You are of your father the devil." But this was in as far as they sinned through the devil's instigation. Therefore every sin is due to the devil's instigation.

Objection 3: Further, as angels are deputed to guard men, so demons are deputed to assail men. But every good thing we do is due to the suggestion of the good angels: because the Divine gifts are borne to us by the angels. Therefore all the evil we do, is due to the instigation of the devil.

On the contrary, It is written (De Eccl. Dogmat. xlix): "Not all our evil thoughts are stirred up by the devil, but sometimes they arise from the movement of our free-will."

I answer that, One thing can be the cause of another in two ways; directly and indirectly. Indirectly as when an agent is the cause of a disposition to a certain effect, it is said to be the occasional and indirect cause of that effect: for instance, we might say that he who dries the wood is the cause of the wood burning. In this way we must admit that the devil is the cause of all our sins; because he it was who instigated the first man to sin, from whose sin there resulted a proneness to sin in the whole human race: and in this sense we must take the words of Damascene and Dionysius.

But a thing is said to be the direct cause of something, when its action tends directly thereunto. And in this way the devil is not the cause of every sin: for all sins are not committed at the devil's instigation, but some are due to the free-will and the corruption of the flesh. For, as Origen says (Peri Archon iii), even if there were no devil, men would have the desire for food and love and such like pleasures; with regard to which many disorders may arise unless those desires are curbed by reason, especially if we presuppose the corruption of our natures. Now it is in the power of the free-will to curb this appetite and keep it in order. Consequently there is no need for all sins to be due to the instigation of the devil. But those sins which are due thereto man perpetrates "through being deceived by the same blandishments as were our first parents," as Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii).

Thus the answer to the first objection is clear.

Reply to Objection 2: When man commits sin without being thereto instigated by the devil, he nevertheless becomes a child of the devil thereby, in so far as he imitates him who was the first to sin.

Reply to Objection 3: Man can of his own accord fall into sin: but he cannot advance in merit without the Divine assistance, which is borne to man by the ministry of the angels. For this reason the angels take part in all our good works: whereas all our sins are not due to the demons' instigation. Nevertheless there is no kind of sin which is not sometimes due to the demons' suggestion.


Whether demons can lead men astray by means of real miracles?

Objection 1: It would seem that the demons cannot lead men astray by means of real miracles. For the activity of the demons will show itself especially in the works of Antichrist. But as the Apostle says (2 Thess. 2:9), his "coming is according to the working of Satan, in all power, and signs, and lying wonders." Much more therefore at other times do the demons perform lying wonders.

Objection 2: Further, true miracles are wrought by some corporeal change. But demons are unable to change the nature of a body; for Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xviii, 18): "I cannot believe that the human body can receive the limbs of a beast by means of a demon's art or power." Therefore the demons cannot work real miracles.

Objection 3: Further, an argument is useless which may prove both ways. If therefore real miracles can be wrought by demons, to persuade one of what is false, they will be useless to confirm the teaching of the faith. This is unfitting; for it is written (Mk. 16:20): "The Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed."

On the contrary, Augustine says (Question [83]; [*Lib. xxi, Sent. sent 4, among the supposititious works of St. Augustine]): "Often by means of the magic art miracles are wrought like those which are wrought by the servants of God."

I answer that, As is clear from what has been said above (Question [110], Article [4]), if we take a miracle in the strict sense, the demons cannot work miracles, nor can any creature, but God alone: since in the strict sense a miracle is something done outside the order of the entire created nature, under which order every power of a creature is contained. But sometimes miracle may be taken in a wide sense, for whatever exceeds the human power and experience. And thus demons can work miracles, that is, things which rouse man's astonishment, by reason of their being beyond his power and outside his sphere of knowledge. For even a man by doing what is beyond the power and knowledge of another, leads him to marvel at what he has done, so that in a way he seems to that man to have worked a miracle.

It is to be noted, however, that although these works of demons which appear marvelous to us are not real miracles, they are sometimes nevertheless something real. Thus the magicians of Pharaoh by the demons' power produced real serpents and frogs. And "when fire came down from heaven and at one blow consumed Job's servants and sheep; when the storm struck down his house and with it his children---these were the work of Satan, not phantoms"; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 19).

Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says in the same place, the works of Antichrist may be called lying wonders, "either because he will deceive men's senses by means of phantoms, so that he will not really do what he will seem to do; or because, if he work real prodigies, they will lead those into falsehood who believe in him."

Reply to Objection 2: As we have said above (Question [110], Article [2]), corporeal matter does not obey either good or bad angels at their will, so that demons be able by their power to transmute matter from one form to another; but they can employ certain seeds that exist in the elements of the world, in order to produce these effects, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8,9). Therefore it must be admitted that all the transformation of corporeal things which can be produced by certain natural powers, to which we must assign the seeds above mentioned, can alike be produced by the operation of the demons, by the employment of these seeds; such as the transformation of certain things into serpents or frogs, which can be produced by putrefaction. On the contrary, those transformations which cannot be produced by the power of nature, cannot in reality be effected by the operation of the demons; for instance, that the human body be changed into the body of a beast, or that the body of a dead man return to life. And if at times something of this sort seems to be effected by the operation of demons, it is not real but a mere semblance of reality.

Now this may happen in two ways. Firstly, from within; in this way a demon can work on man's imagination and even on his corporeal senses, so that something seems otherwise that it is, as explained above (Question [111], Articles [3],4). It is said indeed that this can be done sometimes by the power of certain bodies. Secondly, from without: for just as he can from the air form a body of any form and shape, and assume it so as to appear in it visibly: so, in the same way he can clothe any corporeal thing with any corporeal form, so as to appear therein. This is what Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xviii, 18): "Man's imagination, which whether thinking or dreaming, takes the forms of an innumerable number of things, appears to other men's senses, as it were embodied in the semblance of some animal." This not to be understood as though the imagination itself or the images formed therein were identified with that which appears embodied to the senses of another man: but that the demon, who forms an image in a man's imagination, can offer the same picture to another man's senses.

Reply to Objection 3: As Augustine says (Questions. 83, qu. 79): "When magicians do what holy men do, they do it for a different end and by a different right. The former do it for their own glory; the latter, for the glory of God: the former, by certain private compacts; the latter by the evident assistance and command of God, to Whom every creature is subject."


On a related note, there is a lengthy discussion in Malleus Maleficarum on how demons create the illusion that they procreate with humans. Basically, they appear as succubi, take the seed from men, and then fashion a holding pouch to secure the semen for transit to another demon or until the demon can appear as an incubus. I have to admit that the theories about how long the demons were able to keep the semen for use was quite amusing. If I remember correctly, much depended on whether the succubi could transform into incubi or whether they were two distinct categories of demons or, lastly, whether they were two distinct categories, but could appear as the other by tricks using air. Those Dominicans were obsessed with the concept.

Shisha , Beer, and Russian Prostitutes

IHT:
DUBAI: In his old life in Cairo, Rami Galal knew his place and his fate: to become a maintenance man in a hotel, just like his father. But here, in glittering, manic Dubai, he is confronting the unsettling freedom to make his own choices.

Here Galal, 24, drinks beer almost every night and considers a young Russian prostitute his girlfriend. But he also makes it to work every morning, not something he could say when he lived back in Egypt.

Everything is up to him. Everything: what meals he eats, whether he goes to the mosque or a bar, who his friends are.

"I was more religious in Egypt," Galal said, taking a drag from yet another of his ever-burning Marlboros. "It is moving too fast here. In Egypt there is more time. They have more control over you. It's hard here. I hope to stop drinking beer - I know it's wrong. In Egypt, people keep you in check. Here, no one keeps you in check."


Anybody who considers a Russian prostitute their girlfriend has proven themselves incapable of making intelligent decisions. Therefore, I can see how he might want other people to have control over him.

It reminds me a bit of Aristotle's thoughts on slavery:
Where then there is such a difference as that between soul and body, or between men and animals (as in the case of those whose business is to use their body, and who can do nothing better), the lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master. For he who can be, and therefore is, another's and he who participates in rational principle enough to apprehend, but not to have, such a principle, is a slave by nature. Whereas the lower animals cannot even apprehend a principle; they obey their instincts. And indeed the use made of slaves and of tame animals is not very different; for both with their bodies minister to the needs of life. Nature would like to distinguish between the bodies of freemen and slaves, making the one strong for servile labor, the other upright, and although useless for such services, useful for political life in the arts both of war and peace. But the opposite often happens- that some have the souls and others have the bodies of freemen. And doubtless if men differed from one another in the mere forms of their bodies as much as the statues of the Gods do from men, all would acknowledge that the inferior class should be slaves of the superior. And if this is true of the body, how much more just that a similar distinction should exist in the soul? but the beauty of the body is seen, whereas the beauty of the soul is not seen. It is clear, then, that some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right.

More on diversity training

Brian asks:
Dare I even ask what diversity training amounts to at our humble campus?


It's much like this:

Diversity Training

FLG hates diversity training.

In case you didn't know: I will enter a nun beauty pageant

Mrs. P let the plan slip.

This, however, was definitely not me. To clarify any ambiguity.

Derivatives

Some big mouth on the metro last night said, "I don't understand this mess on Wall Street. Derivatives are so complicated. They should ban them."

I wanted to smack the guy. Derivatives are incredibly useful, as testified by their rapid growth. To provide two examples: 1) Interest rate swaps allow companies to turn variable interest rates into fixed and vice versa. 2) Currency swaps allow companies to eliminate, or at the very least hedge, their exchange rate risk from international trade. Getting rid of them would be a terrible idea.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Blogging will be sporadic

...while I assist GEC with his latest uber-villain plot.

A council has banned clowns from playing musical instruments.

They should ban clowns...period. Nobody likes them, but everybody always thinks somebody else likes them. Now, I don't want to kill clowns like I do mimes, but I am pro an international clown ban.

007

I marvel at Sir Basil Seal's knowledge of 007.

Monetary Policy Weaknesses

A really good post by Paul Krugman.

The Government is like the Marines

Thomas Friedman had an interesting article the other day:
Ronald Reagan’s favorite laugh line was telling audiences that: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ”

Are you still laughing? If it weren’t for the government bailing out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and A.I.G., and rescuing people from Hurricane Ike and pumping tons of liquidity into the banking system, our economy would be a shambles. How would you like to hear the line today: “I’m from the government, and I can’t do a darn thing for you.”


Mr. Friedman also likes to propose making US energy independence this generation's moonshot.

Prima facie these are dissimilar events that require government responses, so clearly the government's ability to help is larger than conservatives believe. But Fannie, Freddie, AIG, and Ike are similar in one important sense -- they require lots of resources to be deployed quickly. The issue in a crisis is that food, water, and other resources gets to where they are needed. Waste in the name of expediency is acceptable. Much like the Marines taking a beachhead. Tons of men, material, and equipment are pouring in. Some of it will get stuck or lost. Problems will be eliminated with escalating and overwhelming amounts of resources. Information is transferred up the hierarchy and orders back down. Decisions need to be made. Often in these situations a poor decision is better than no decision. Getting stuff done now is more important than the cost. If one gives the Marines a heading, target, and a time, they are very effective at getting it accomplished, but several buildings, a bunch of vehicles, and a lot of weapons later.

The moonshot is slightly different, but still bares more similarity to hurricane relief than to energy independence. When President Kennedy proposed landing a man on the moon we knew generally how it was going to be done. We would build a really big rocket, strap some guys to the top, and shoot them off. While this oversimplifies and underestimates the technical challenges posed, there were not a thousand different solutions the choice of which would affect every American's daily life. The choice of technology used to achieve energy independence, however, would affect every American's daily life. And there are a ton of choices that need to be made. This is not simply about pouring resources into one technology, rockets, and working through problems linearly. Energy independence will probably lead in a thousand directions, most of which will not be fruitful.

Imagine instead of sending a few men to the moon, they decided to move half the United States to the moon permanently and let everybody submit ideas. Some people design huge slingshots and large rubber bouncy capsules, others personal rockets, still others huge rockets that would hold 1 million people, and some ambitious people may even design teleporters. And that is just to get there. Does anybody really believe the government would be good at managing that project over the decades it would take?

What concerns me use the government's ability to help in a crisis as a justification or proof that government can and should help everyday. Something like health care or retirement plans are help, but require a totally different skill set. One that the government is, quite frankly, piss poor at.

The government is very bad at managing a large number of transactions that require a large number of intelligent decisions. Add to this the economic distortion of one single purchaser and something like health care can become seriously wrecked intertemporally.

Short-term, targeted rescues are something the government is capable of because it is like the Marines. Long-term management that requires lots of small, but intelligent decisions, not so much.

Plato '08

In The Republic Plato describes how his Virtuous City falls. First, it becomes honor-loving, then wealth-loving, then freedom-loving, and then a tyranny. This occurs because the original citizenry could not fully articulate the Good to their children as the Good is not readily explainable. So, their children latch onto honor as a tangible representation of the Good. These honor-loving souls, like their parents, do not fully articulate honor to their children, and produce wealth-loving souls. This process repeats, and then we have freedom loving souls, and then a tyrant. Each of these steps, as I have said before, is moving toward a more selfish disposition and away from the Good.

McCain is clearly an honor-loving soul. My question has always been whether he attempts to comprehend the Good. Is he aware of something more important than honor? Is he capable of understanding Truth? In short, is he a philosopher-king? After watching 60 minutes last night, the answer is clearly no. He is a timocrat through and through. Nevertheless, there are far worse things than being a timocrat.

On the other hand, I think Obama has the potential. He attempts to understand the Good. Dialectic is his milieu. He could be a philosopher-king. But do we want or need one? His cerebral nature could also be his weakness. Contemplation is in some contexts dithering. Are we a society concerned with the Good? A strong argument could be made that we are timocratic or worse -- oligarchical.

At this point in the campaign, I am leaning towards the potential philosopher-king. I admire and respect John McCain for a great many things, but I am not sure this is the right time for his soul type to be president. Furthermore, while Sarah Palin seems like a nice lady, her ignorance of the Bush doctrine deeply concerns me. That probably won't hurt her because few people know what the Bush doctrine is, but for me to take you seriously as a presidential candidate you have to know certain things and she hasn't passed the test. So, as of now, I will hold my nose and vote for Obama. Perhaps the debates will change the situation.

I should probably think of them in Aristotle's terms as well. That is to say, concerning their nature. Both are probably spoudaios, but McCain definitely is.

Quote of the day

Krugman on Hank Paulson:
He’s making it up as he goes along, just like the rest of us.

Old School

As I told Robbo, to be truly old school one has to shave with a brush, leather strop, and straight razor. This is not mere conjecture or opinion on my part. This is the result of airtight logic from first principles. Unfortunately, the argument is too lengthy to post, but trust me. If you want to be old school, buy a straight razor.

The question of whether women have to use a straight razor to shave their legs to be old school is still open, but I think that is simply preposterous. For women to be old school they have to wear brooches, preferably cameo.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

PhDs are apparently above gratuitous ad hominem attacks

Withywindle, You Ignorant Slut

When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard Bloom’d

Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear your call;
I hear—I come presently—I understand you;
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain’d me;
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.

Principles

I am getting a bit annoyed by the talk from the Europeans about how America is violating its free market principles, and alternatively from the left about how it's more specifically the Republicans violating their principles. Principles are just that -- principles. You attempt to live up to them as best you can, but sometimes circumstances dictate that reasonable people deviate from their principles. This does not make them a hypocrite, simply prudent.

For example, of the many principles by which I live, there are two that I can foresee never violating. First, don't kill people. Second, don't hit women. However, if a woman was shooting a gun at me, then I would beat her until either she was no longer a threat if the opportunity presented itself. If unavoidable, I would beat her to death. This does not mean that I do not hold those two principles dear, but rather that I recognize that no principle is valid at all times.

Likewise, the very real possibility of a complete financial meltdown necessitated that the government intervene. I do not know if they should have intervened in all the cases that they have. I just don't have enough information at the moment. Furthermore, there is no hypocrisy in stepping in for Bear Stearns, but not for Lehman Bros. Each is a particular case with its own risks and characteristics.

To use a phrase of which Withywindle is so fond, sometimes our principles must yield to the reality of contingent particulars. We are not talking about some immutable, abstract form of laissez-faire economics. We are discussing an actual economy that affects people's lives.

Current Reading

I continue to add to my current reading queue, but currently struggle to make any progress on it.

Added:
Le Morte D'Arthur
Empire of Blue Water

I'm almost finished with L'Étranger. I found that I cannot simultaneously listen to music in English, a habit of mine while on the Metro, and read in French. Since I started listening to French music, my reading has sped up considerably. Perhaps my brain can't process both languages even though I tune out the lyrics on the music.

A Right to In Vitro?

Cheryl quoting from Newsweek:
In some developing countries, the consequences of infertility—which can include ostracism, physical abuse and even suicide—are heartbreaking. “If you are infertile in some cultures, you are less than a dog,” says Willem Ombelet of the Genk Institute for Fertility Technology in Belgium. Women are often uneducated, so their only identity comes from being moms. “It [infertility] is an issue of profound human suffering, particularly for women,” says Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology and international affairs at Yale University. “It’s a human-rights issue.”


The words human-rights get tossed around so often that I can only draw the conclusion that every human being has a right to be completely free from any and all suffering in this temporal world. There are two issues here. First, this position, while possible as a thought experiment maybe, is completely ridiculous in reality. Second, referring to everything as a human-rights issue devalues the words.

The Left, I am going to assume that Professor Inhorn is left-of-center politically, places a lot of importance on words and symbolism. Whether it is the feminist focus on the social construction of the patriarchal household or the international relations theory that geopolitics is socially constructed, both stress the importance of messages that society produces. Yet, words like justice and human-rights are used so frequently and with such insouciance that their meaning becomes so amorphous that they are meaningless.

If one calls something a human-rights issue, and wants human-rights to retain any meaning, then there has to be some potential amelioration within the realm of possibility in our temporal world. Even, and this is a huge stretch, if every woman was given the best fertility treatment available millions of women would still suffer from infertility. Likewise, there is no possibility that we are going to change every culture and society's attitude such that it reconstructs something as important as reproduction unimportant. In all likelihood, we will change no society's attitude toward fertility. Infertility causes massive stress here in the United States among wealthy women, do we really thing societies who are economically dependent on having children will magically not produce social pressure regarding reproduction?

I am sorry there is suffering in this world, but stamping the words human-rights issue on every type of pain on this Earth displays a lack of seriousness.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Hulk of a Charred Panzer and a Packet of Ass Bandits



Comments

Let me preface this by saying that I love comments.

Somebody, I won't say who, has a habit of posting comments that are longer than my original post. Perhaps this person, who happens to have their own blog, wouldn't mind either whittling it down a bit or posting comments that are longer than the original post on their own blog.

Sincerely,
The Management.

Bailouts and the national debt

Hank Paulson announced a plan to take bad mortgages off bank balance sheets. Estimates are that this will be in the $500-700 billion range, which with the US having run a deficit basically since Bush has been in office, the government does not have and will have to borrow. This is amid reports that the government's credit rating is under pressure. If this goes through, then the US debt will be close to $10 trillion. A figure that is closing in on the $13.84 trillion yearly GD, but is still $4 trillion short.

I am not particularly concerned about the current debt. Obviously, I would like it to be lower, but it is still manageable. And I am certainly not concerned with Alan's theory that other countries will offer the US non-dollar denominated loans. What concerns me is the insouciance of both parties regarding deficit spending. And don't bring up Bill Clinton. His budget surpluses came a technology boom during which he was simply lucky to be president. However, he did at least make an effort. But since WWII neither party has been terribly concerned about balancing the budget once they are in power. Unfortunately, we currently have a candidate for president who knows nothing about economic matters, and another whose instinct, I fear, is to raise taxes AND expand programs. We need taxes raised and programs cut, and pronto.*

If the US loses its dominant position in the world it will be because we were idiots, not because the of what anybody else does.

* Update: By pronto, I mean after the present crisis has passed and the economy is back on track.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chad Vader

Telegraph:
The 10 minute parody, titled 'Overtime', sees two workmates brandish lightsabers and battle each other through a deserted office.

The duel even takes them into a lift where they meet a tall colleague who barks at them in the style of Chewbacca, the wookiee from the original films.

The encounter between the two, played by Alan Blake and Andy Gray, is eventually brought to a halt by their boss, 'Chad Fadar', played by Nick Rowntree.

Decked out in a Darth Vader style helmet, Fadar tells them they need to stop fighting because it is disturbing him as he frantically works on financial reports.


That reminded me of the Chad Vader Day Shift Manager series:

Benefits of Lower Gas Prices

Diddy can rock his G-IV again:

Gramm-Leach-Bliley

I'm not the only person saying that the GLB might eventually be seen as the savior in all this.

Marginal Revolution:
Most of all, the Act enabled financial diversification and thus it paved the way for a number of mergers. Citigroup became what it is today, for instance, because of the Act. Add Shearson and Primerica to the list. So far in the crisis times the diversification has done considerably more good than harm. Most importantly, GLB made it possible for JP Morgan to buy Bear Stearns and for Bank of America to buy Merrill Lynch. It's why Wachovia can consider a bid for Morgan Stanley. Wince all you want, but the reality is that we all owe a big thanks to Phil Gramm and others for pushing this legislation.


Megan McArdle:
Off all the most bizarre statements running around about this crisis, the most bizarre is the shockingly common belief on the left that this can somehow be traced back to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act, which "repealed" Glass-Steagall. (The equivalent, not-quite-as-loony belief on the right is that if we hadn't had such tough redlining laws, or such deep government interest in expanding homeownership, this wouldn't have happened). This is wrong in so many ways that one hardly knows where to start.


The Left's kneejerk reaction to deregulation is one of its biggest weaknesses, and attempting to blame GLB for the current financial crisis only adds confusion and makes the person saying it look like a fool.

Obama's got my vote


Uncle Sam, have you checked your credit score lately?

Reuters:
Pressure is building on the pristine "AAA" rating of the United States after a federal bailout of American International Group Inc, the chairman of Standard & Poor's sovereign ratings committee said on Wednesday.


It's still AAA, but even contemplating the AAA rating is shocking to me. This is huge. The money for all these bailouts have to come from somewhere, and the US government has deep but not infinite pockets. (Excluding simply printing money.)

Palin Baby Name Generator

My Palin Baby Name is cool actually:
Revolver Trooper Palin


Mrs. Peperium's name is hilarious:
Smoke Strapon Palin

I do not like the connotation.


This was over at Irish Elk as well, but I was too busy focusing on the delirium tremens.

Pirate Day

I thought I had posted this earlier, but apparently the interwebs swallowed it somewhere.

Today, like every September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Everybody over here at Room 101 in the Ministry of Love is well aware, and I fear growing weary of it. ARRGGHHHH!

Bad Cooling Mechanism

According to The Maximum Leader, the LHC has been shutdown because it needs a radiator flush.

Then care less

It's not:
I could care less.


It is:
I could NOT care less.


If you can care less, then do so and don't tell me about it.

Correspondence

FLG,

I discovered Fear and Loathing in Georgetown only recently. Your claim that your blog was like an intellectual food fight peaked my curiosity, and I explored some more. Since, I have acquired a morbid fascination, perhaps obsession with your blog. It is like a car crash that I cannot turn away from, and I have been pouring over your older writing.

On one hand, you claim to be a pirate hunting, bullfighting Georgetown grad who is married, expecting a baby, was raised in the circus, is obsessed with both robots and sex with inanimate objects, and wants to become a piano playing ninja. You write reviews of books that neither you nor anybody else has written, and you have a second tag for real book reviews. The odd part is that the real reviews have have to be noted. You post trailers for movies that are of questionable merit. You link to vaginal barbells, beaver shaped vibrators, and phallic-shaped icebergs. You also utilize profanity gratuitously.

On the other hand, you have at least a passing knowledge of French, opera, classical music, Hellenistic sculpture, paintings, literature, history, philosophy, film, economics, finance, religion, world geography, foreign affairs, NATO, and the European Union. You also possess an above average vocabulary because I have been forced to look up, or follow the links you provided, at least three words you have used. Strangest of all is that more serious bloggers and reputable thinkers with PhDs link and respond to you.

I've been trying to reconcile the absurdity of it all. It would make far more sense if GEC wrote about serious topics and you produced the silly posts, but as far as I can tell GEC only posts infrequently. Am I missing something?


No. You aren't missing anything. You pretty much summed it up. Do yourself a favor, don't think about it too much. Also, I beg to fucking differ on the gratuitousness of my profanity.

PS. I believe that it's piqued, not peaked my curiosity. Just FYI on that one.

My Worst Nightmare

The Fatal Glass of Beer

Irish Elk always posts crazy cool old stuff.

Word of the day: mahout

mahout - a keeper and driver of an elephant

While not as cool as callipygian, it's a good word nonetheless. I wonder if any callipygian mahouts exist.

Brussels and The City

Withywindle raised a good point in response to my thoughts on the future of New York as an international financial center:

If the UK lets Brussels take over, they will swamp London with regulations, and New York will win by default. So, betting against New York is betting for the British to have enough national willpower to keep Brussels at arm's length.


Interestingly enough, Chatham House, the UK equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations, released a report called A British Agenda for Europe: Designing Our Own Future (PDF), which seems to imply that they are thinking about precisely that issue:

In the area of financial services, for example, the City of
London has been instrumental in pushing forward efforts
to establish a globally competitive single European
financial area which it also sees as improving its own
competitive position vis-à-vis the United States. As one of
the main venues in the world where the euro, yen, dollar
and pound meet in the market, the City works to the
economic benefit of both Britain and Europe as a whole.
However, we should not forget that, in an increasingly
competitive market for providing global financial services,
the dominant position of an existing financial centre like
London cannot be taken for granted. Despite its advantages
of geography, time zone and regulatory and tax
regimes, Britain could lose the prize of being Europe’s
leading international financial centre if the pace of
financial market opening in Europe slows or if regulatory
changes are taken in the European context that limit the
City’s current agility and dynamism (this is not to
downplay, of course, the importance or necessity also of
effective domestic regulation in the light of the Northern
Rock fiasco).
 
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