Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Or Don't You Think So?

Some things are just too scary to think about. But nothing's too scary to make a fine reality TV show out of!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The New Kind of Politics

Now, let's see if I've got this correct.

Sen. Obama is really, really annoyed with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"... when he equates the United States's wartime efforts with terrorism; there are no excuses. They offend me. They rightly offend all Americans."
Now, Sen. Obama, would it make any difference if, in fact, it would turn out that there actually is substantial parallelism between "America's wartime efforts" and "terrorism?"

Of course, I'm not talking about ancient history, like Hiroshima, or Nagasaki, or the firestorms of Tokyo or Dresden. That's two-thirds of a century ago. I'm not even talking about stale news, like Abu Ghraib. I'm talking about tomorrow, man. I'm talking about the 99.9999% or more of Iranians who don't have squat to say about what their supervisors might do. And I'm talking about America's progressive candidates, not some ancient psycho like Bomber McCain. I'm talking about Momma Hillary:
"Well, the question was, if Iran were to launch a nuclear attack on Israel, what would our response be? I want the Iranians to know that if I am president, we will attack Iran. And I want them to understand that. Because it does mean that they have to look very carefully at their society. Because whatever stage of development they might be in their nuclear weapons program, in the next 10 years during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."
And Saint Obama:
Obama said keeping Iran free of nuclear weapons would be one of his top priorities in the White House.

"I will take no options off the table when it comes to preventing them from using nuclear weapons or obtaining nuclear weapons," he said. "And that would include any threats directed at Israel, or any of our allies."
No, the acceptability of any statement to any Real Responsible American -- and that emphatically includes Barack Obama, apostle of a new kind of politics -- is quite independent of whether or not it's true. Truth is the one thing that matters not at all.

Be sure to vote, now. Voting changes things. And Sen. Obama ... he's very different, don'tcha know.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Mr. Wetzel, Meet Mr. Obvious

At 09:30, I was filling out paperwork at the oral surgeon's office. By 11:30 or so, I was home, having lost a little weight -- whatever three wisdom teeth weigh, that is.

Now, it's a little before 5 pm, and my mouth does not feel very good. I suppose that's what I expected, but I feel like whining anyway. So: I will. Waa-a-a-a-aaah, waa-a-a-a-aaah, waa-a-a-a-aaah!

Yeah, I've got pain pills. But this is serious. I think I'm going to have to hit the crack pipe for a while. Oh, yeah. That should just about do it.

Signing off now ...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wisdom or Foolishness?

I'm reporting to the oral surgeon tomorrow morning in order that he may deprive me of all three of my extant wisdom teeth.

I'll have to ask him whether he'll replace them with some sort of prosthetics -- foolishness teeth, perhaps? Or maybe he's just relying on me to be foolish on my own?

I'll try not to disappoint.

Thrones Don't Come in 2× Widths

Doug Newman's making some sense here:
Pastors who preach unthinking submission to earthly government are merely latter day versions of the chief priests in John 19:15. When Pilate asked “shall I crucify your king?” they responded “We have no king but Caesar.”
Idolators, repent!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Mr. Krugman, Meet Mr. Obvious

I read this last night in the lab, in a paper copy of the New York Times, while my students wrestled with the lens equation. I then found it online in a different place:
Nine years ago The Economist ran a big story on oil, which was then selling for $10 a barrel. The magazine warned that this might not last. Instead, it suggested, oil might well fall to $5 a barrel.

In any case, The Economist asserted, the world faced "the prospect of cheap, plentiful oil for the foreseeable future."

Last week, oil hit $117.

It's not just oil that has defied the complacency of a few years back. Food prices have also soared, as have the prices of basic metals. And the global surge in commodity prices is reviving a question we haven't heard much since the 1970s: Will limited supplies of natural resources pose an obstacle to future world economic growth?

How you answer this question depends largely on what you believe is driving the rise in resource prices. Broadly speaking, there are three competing views.

The first is that it's mainly speculation - that investors, looking for high returns at a time of low interest rates, have piled into commodity futures, driving up prices. On this view, someday soon the bubble will burst and high resource prices will go the way of

The second view is that soaring resource prices do, in fact, have a basis in fundamentals - especially rapidly growing demand from newly meat-eating, car-driving Chinese - but that given time we'll drill more wells, plant more acres, and increased supply will push prices right back down again.

The third view is that the era of cheap resources is over for good - that we're running out of oil, running out of land to expand food production and generally running out of planet to exploit.
Alrighty, then. Mr. Krugman notes that all commodities are getting really expensive relative to the U.S. dollar, and then furrows his brow mightily to try to understand why. Let's see, three possibilities: evil speculation, too much demand, not enough supply. Yep, that's the ticket -- we're running out of everything simultaneously! Amazing.

You know, Mr. Krugman's list of pricey items (in U.S. dollars) is hardly exhaustive. There's also the euro, which is going through the proverbial roof. I know -- there's only so many euros buried beneath the earth's crust, and we're running out of those, too!

Could it be, Mr. Krugman, that the dollar price of everything going up might be another way of saying that the dollar's value is dropping ballistically? Or would that be too obvious?

Think about it for a moment. Pull out some federal reserve notes from your wallet. Never mind all the new gay colors (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and Monopoly-money layout. What does the printing on the thing say? Does it claim to be redeemable for some amount of gold or silver or copper or aluminum or oil or natural gas? Nope. It says it's a dollar, because Uncle says it's a dollar -- whatever a "dollar" is, anyway. Here in the U.S., Uncle's words on the subject carry some force, because Uncle can throw the peasants (you and me, that is) in jail if we disrespect his semi-fancy paper in some way, such as refusing to sell for it, or -- horror of horrors! -- conducting commerce using any "alternative" or private money. Overseas, Uncle's power of jailing people is, so far, less comprehensive; and there, the perceived value of the dollar is related to U.S. economic and productive capability and fiscal responsibility.

And them furriners is a-startin' to catch on.

The U.S. is increasingly recognizable, the world around, as the moral and economic equivalent of a drunk who immediately spends any shred of wealth that falls into his hands on more booze and on really big firecrackers that go BANG! really loudly. And when that drunk scrawls out IOU after IOU and declares this paper to be as good as gold, if not better ... well, let's just say that the rest of the world finds itself increasingly in disagreement.

The American Empire is going broke, and, for the world in general, I think that's a very good thing. For we low-ranking imperial subjects, however, it's going to be a hell of a rough ride.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Not Primary Time Yet in Indiana ...

... but why not go here and vote for Mr. Rouse anyway?

As they are reputed to say in Chicago, "Vote early, and vote often."

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Real Scandal: It Must Be Too Big to See, or Something

Apparently, Cthulhu's on vacation. And some have thought they've seen the reflected image of a naked woman in his its sunglasses, and they're all excited:
Since Wednesday, the blogosphere has been a-twitter over a photograph on the White House website of Mr Cheney with a caption that said he was fly-fishing on the Snake River in Idaho.

The photo is a tight shot of Mr Cheney's face sporting dark sunglasses and his trademark grin.

What's stirring all the buzz is the reflection in the Vice-President's dark glasses. Some thought that the reflection looked like a naked woman and immediately shared that thought with the world.

On, the discussion starts with this question: "Notice anything … interesting … reflected in his sunglasses? Something that has little to do with conventional 'fly-fishing'?"


The Vice-President's office saw little humour in the buzz.

"Clearly the picture shows a hand casting a rod," grumbled spokeswoman Meagan Mitchell.

For journalists, however, the word of an official spokeswoman isn't good enough.

So McClatchy/Tribune Information Services photo editor George Bridges used the latest digital technology to enlarge the picture, took a close look at Mr Cheney's sunglasses — and concluded that Ms Mitchell was telling the truth. The image is of the Vice-President's hand on his fly rod.
Well, thus ends this week's fun. I wonder if anyone's reflecting on the truly horrifying fact that the golem squatting in the vice-presidential residence is a mass murderer, a war criminal, and a triply-proved traitor to what is alleged to be his country. C'mon, folks -- if Cheney were spending his time in the company of an actual, beautiful, alive-and-breathing naked woman, that (in context) would be a refreshing touch of innocence and humanity. Instead, he's the Activities Chairman of Mordor -- the Chief Ringwraith, more or less.

"Naked woman," indeed. What horrifies my imagination is what he probably did with any fish he might have caught. Molested it, tortured it, and then ate it raw, most likely.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Quit Pretending

What an edifying spectacle it is, seeing our wise and courageous national legislators quizzing Possible Future Caesar and Current General David Petraeus on the surge withdrawal pause or whatever this week's name for the Way Forward is.

I have no wish to criticize any congressional Republicans here, nor any of the official Democratic warhawks. These people have publicly signed up as agreeing with the Bush administration's war crimes, and are, in St. Paul's words, "dead in their sins." To complain about them is like going to a cemetery, digging up a few hundred graves, and then complaining that the occupants won't move, won't talk, and are rotting and stinking; it is idle. Everyone knows that corpses are like that. Instead, I'm here to talk about the Vichy Democrats: the Pelosis and Reids and Clintons and Obamas and Boxers and Feinsteins of this world. These folks are very happy to tell us that George the Younger is pathetically deficient as a Wartime Decider; doing no more than that, they are widely credited among the Serious Washington Players by the Responsible Press as being "antiwar".

Well, now.

Most of them voted to authorize the Decider to do whatever he felt like doing, after the Holy Nine-Eleven. (I would say "all of them" except for the presence of the Barackster, who was not yet on duty at the time, and who now says he wouldn't have voted to authorize; the presumption of innocence probably obliges us to proceed on the assumption that his claim is true.) All of them reflexively claim to "support the troops" -- whatever that might mean. All of them have repeatedly voted to fund the Excellent Iraq Adventure with whatever money the Decider claims it requires -- every ruinously-borrowed dime of it. Not one of them has introduced articles of impeachment against Dick "Cthulhu" Cheney or his simian meat-puppet.

But when Bush's current chief military surge implementer appears on Capitol Hill, how the Vichy Democrats do enjoy chewing his ears! It feels a little silly to complain about a small thing like dishonesty, compared with the moral train wreck of having enabled the murders of hundreds of thousands of foreigners, of whom hundreds of thousands didn't perpetrate the Holy Nine-Eleven, and also a relatively trifling number (4,000 or so) of Americans. But dishonesty it is: when you're willing to applaud the great war criminal figurehead himself each January, when he visits your House to mouth a State of the Union address -- then belabor his minions for doing what their boss told them to do, and for doing what you paid them to do. And are still paying them to do. And (in several cases, at least) what you plan to continue paying them to do into the indefinite future.

Vichy Democrats: you're just as dead as your colleagues. Quit prancing around and pretending. Get underground. The stink's getting to be a bit much.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Weirder Than Usual, Even

I see in the news that El Presidente has met with, shall we say, incomplete success in persuading the godless russkie commies that they're silly to worry about a bunch of American rockets on their front doorstep:
But differences over U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe, which have helped drive diplomatic ties to a post-Cold War low, meant their summit on the Black Sea coast ended with no firm agreements.

A top Bush aide implied that no agreement would be agreed until the inauguration of new presidents in both countries. That would delay progress until early next year.

"This is an area we've got more work to do to convince the Russian side that the system is not aimed at Russia," Bush said after a morning of talks with Putin at the Russian leader's vacation retreat in the resort of Sochi.
Well, all right, suppose "the system" is really intended purely to protect Europe from evil Iranian nuclear (sorry, I meant "new-cue-ler") missiles, should such ever exist. Has the Decider noticed that we're freakin' broke? If there is some great European desire for high-priced and dubiously-effective "protection" from nonexistent Iranian thunderbolts from the blue, maybe those same Europeans could, maybe, do the job themselves? Hey, they've got great big grownup aerospace companies over there, too. Isn't there some rule that says you can only build people missile defenses that they don't want if you at least have the money? (And I mean without borrowing it from the Chinese, too.)

In the deathless words of Walter Sobchak: "Has the whole world gone crazy? Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Going Camping ...

... for a few days. Wish you all could, too. However, I recognize that some responsible grownups have to stay home and take care of important matters, and ... well, you know ... better you than me.

I'll think of you as I enjoy a cold one, warming my toes at the fire.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Today Must Be April Fools' Day

After all, I know I type lots of dirty words here. It must be that these folks don't recognize "war" as the obscenity that it is.

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Via Nancy Nall.