Blog

Ugly Europeans

Chris Suellentrop: “Much of what the Ugly Europeans propose isn't out of the mainstream of American political debate: Get tough on crime, promote Christian family values, reform the welfare state, curtail immigration. But the Ugly Europeans' policy inclinations on all those issues stem not from political ideology but from prejudice.”

Well, I don't know about that last sentence. That's an awful broad sweep, as in sweeping under the rug the American politicians' policy inclinations that stem from prejudice. And the source is American. Damnit, I need some British and continental European websites to read. For innoculation from, as well as cure for, the American bias in the sources I'm reading.

New York Sun

Eric Boehlert: “[W]hether or not the slim, narrowly focused paper can find a sizable readership in the city's media-drenched market remains doubtful. If the paper doesn't show marked improvement soon, that $20 million investment will have purchased a pricey footnote in New York's corpse-littered newspaper history.”

Spyware

Damien Cave: Do you have any plans to sue?

“The developers of RadLight have learned a difficult and painful lesson. The public in general, and the privacy and security communities specifically, have shown their company that they are neither blind to, nor tolerant of malicious code distributed by any official software vendor. The outcry was immediate and quite deafening, causing them to reevaluate their tactics. At present, we don't see a need for legal action.

Girls Want Sex and More

Marion Botsford Fraser: “Oh yes, the single men we know admire smart, successful women; they choose them as business partners, friends, confidantes and sometime lovers, if they are lucky. But they mate with younger women, fertile or otherwise; sadly, still, the Amandas [from The Bachelor]. Single men who are, in terms of income, power, age, the equals of these women do not see them as potential mates. They see past them, to the young, green crop coming up behind. It's just genetics, some would say.”

I Read The Economist

Glen Schraft: “On weekends, I like to sit out on my porch in my wicker chair with my bifocals and my subscription copy of The Economist. Then, when I go to a professor's wine-and-cheese party later that night, I can casually mention all the fancy stuff I read about NASA and Venezuela and Gen. Pervez Musharraf in my fancy magazine and impress everybody.”

“Question: Do you think I'm smarter than everyone else because I read The Economist, or do I read The Economist because I'm smarter than everyone else? Now, there's a conundrum! I should mail that one in to The Economist and see what they think!”

It's funny because it's true. I read The Economist sometimes, but usually only the editorials, the Asia section, and the book reviews section. And Bagehot once in a while, when it feels like my tenuous (at best) grasp of British politics is slipping. Yeah, reading the magazine makes me feel smart.

Terrorized

Bruce Feirstein: “Terrorized by strong women? I think not. We grew up with them.”

Much to like about the retort to the Maureen Dowd article (linked here). Including profanities (they appeared, uncensored, in the shortened National Post version I read): “I suspect it’s that there’s a larger, darker, unspoken force in play. And naturally, there’s a Hollywood vulgarism to describe it: Women fuck up. Men fuck anything.” And how he speaks for the "loyal opposition" and uses the word "obstreperous", and the somewhat confessional nature of the following quote:

My favorite experience here concerns a woman known for her wit and power mating. One snowy New Year’s Eve, I found myself sitting across from her in a nightclub. And at 3 in the morning—fueled by who-knows-what substances—I turned to her best friend and said, 'You know … Denise really is kind of cute.' (O.K., in broad daylight, it’s a lame line—I admit it.) Upon hearing this, however, the best friend—a woman who had introduced the two of us—seemed to become instantly sober and stern. 'Don’t even think about it," she said. I thought she was kidding. "Why not?' I smiled. The answer was swift and demeaning: 'Because you’re nobody.'"

Ouch.

And of course: “"I always thought that tough, smart, accomplished women were sexy."” Amen, brother. Amen

Boys get to University

"Let's make sure boys get to university" by Stephen T. Easton

Since, according to the study by Dr. Easton, female students outnumber male students 120 to 100, "[t]his may be a boon for the social lives of the young men". Ha! I must have been the exception to the rule.

See also "Women outnumber men by 20% on campus: study" by Sarah Schmidt. Apparently the info is part of a larger study on the effects of university educations on the economy. "The contributions of university graduates to the economy, as measured by the incomes they earn, more than justify the investments made in their education, said David Laidler, the book's editor and an economist at the University of Western Ontario."

That's not exactly news to me though. A while ago I read "Paying for University Education in B.C." [pdf] by Robert C. Allen, a UBC economist. For those that don't already know, the government (federal, provincial, territorial) subsidizes university tuition. In the essay, Allen argues that students will eventually pay the full cost of their university education because of the higher taxes they pay due to the higher salaries they earn as university graduates, and that the eventual economic growth as a whole makes short term investments in university students "worth it". (See also his "The Employability of University Graduates in the Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education: Recent Statistical Evidence" [pdf])

Of course, the study was released by the C.D. Howe Institute, a notoriously conservative think tank, and the results reported in the notoriously conservative National Post, so not exactly free from bias.

Le Pen

Anne Applebaum: “Don't overlook the fact that the Trotskyites got 11 percent of the vote in last weekend's presidential poll as well: Above all, this election was a protest against the blandness, the interchangeability, and the suspected corruption of the two centrist parties.”

Palestine, Israel, China

Going through a growing backlog of China News Digest emails, I found this short article by Dong Liu. Chinese support for the Palestinians probably shouldn't have come as much a surprise as it did when I read it. Looking through the online databases (which I have access to for only so long), there's not much scholarly work done on China-PLO relations. Well there's quite a few Beijing Review (state press) articles about it, and three or four scholarly articles on Sino-Middle East relations since Tiananmen Square. So maybe that's where the info lies.

A revealing quote: “Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's secretary general told the Palestinian representative in Beijing that the suicide bomber did not know there were Chinese around.” If Arafat's secretary general knew what the suicide bomber "did not know", the implication is that he may have known where the suicide bomber was going to be, making any condemnation (be it in English or Arabic) a tad suspect.

Aerial Photos of Jenin

Aerial Photographs of Jenin from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Not an unbiased source, but looks like Jenin wasn't levelled after all. To see some fodder for conspiracy theorists, look at the copyright notice at the bottom.

Playing With Energy

George F. Will: “Although there is drilling for oil and gas in 29 wildlife refuges, the most fiercely contested question about the energy bill was about drilling on one-hundredth of 1 percent of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is described, by people more passionately devoted to preserving it than visiting it, as "pristine." Yes, and the moon's surface is pristine. Except ANWR is less so, because the moon does not have -- as ANWR's coastal plain, where the drilling would have occurred, does -- roads, military installations, an airstrip, a school, houses, stores.”

“"ANWR could produce at least 1.3 million barrels a day for 25 years, almost what we import from Saudi Arabia. The House of Representatives voted for drilling, but it lost in the Senate, which is the habitat of Democratic presidential candidates who burnish their environmental credentials by jumping through the hoop of opposition to ANWR drilling."”

A counterpoint to "Victory for the Arctic" by Genevieve Roja (link courtesy Tina).

Y'know, to be honest, I don't think I've heard anybody pronounce the acronym ANWR. I pronounce it "anwar", as in Anwar Sadat.

Wrong Again and Again and Again

Ben Fritz: “Regrettably, Moore gets his facts wrong again and again and again, and a simple check of the sources he cites shows that lazy research is often to blame.”

I like Michael Moore, but he's much more effective as a filmmaker than as a book-writer. This review points out the flaws (and they're big flaws) in his current best-seller. He's a necessary counterpoint to biases in the media, but sometimes he comes across (at least in his writing) as a little too shrill.

The Medals of His Defeats

Christopher Hitchens: “A close reading of the increasingly voluminous revisionist literature discloses many further examples of events that one thinks cannot really be true, or cannot be true if the quasi-official or consecrated narrative is to remain regnant. Against which nation was the first British naval attack directed? (Against a non-mobilized French fleet, moored in the ports of North Africa, with the loss of hundreds of French lives.) Which air force was the first to bomb civilians, and in whose capital city? (The RAF, striking the suburbs of Berlin.) Which belligerent nation was the first to violate the neutrality of Europe's noncombatant nations? (The British, by a military occupation of Norway.) But these details, not unlike the navels and genitalia in devotional painting, are figleafed in denial.”

Will 'Great Leap Forward' Work For The NHS

Stephen King: “The Chinese Great Leap Forward ultimately was not successful. An increase in inputs – trees being chopped down to fuel the blast furnaces – certainly resulted in an increase in output. But, in the absence of proper incentives and adequate measures of consumer and producer preferences, the ultimate result was a chronic waste of national resources, the destruction of trees in exchange for steel that no one really wanted or knew what to do with.”

That's an understatement! If you don't believe me, look at a quote from The Search for Modern China by Jonathan Spence, p. 553: “The average amount of grain available to each person in China's countryside, which had been 205 kilos in 1957 and 201 kilos in 1958, dropped to a disastrous 183 kilos in 1959, and a catastrophic 156 kilos in 1960. In 1961 it fell again– to 154 kilos. The result was famine on a gigantic scale, a famine that claimed 20 milliions lives or more between 1959 and 1962. Many others died shortly thereafter from the effects of the Great Leap– especially children, weakened by years of progressive malnutrition. [...] The Great Leap Forward, launched in the name of strengthening the nation by summoning all of the people's energies, had turned back on itself and ended by devouring its young.”

Pages