Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Run! Fred Thompson Will.

Breaking news from WaPo: Fred Dalton Thompson is almost ready to launch his run for the Republican nomination for president. In a story posted an hour ago on the WaPo website, an anonymous source ratted Thompson out: he had a private conference call with his closest allies, who may not be as trustworthy as he believed.

According to the source, the startup operation will involve each fundraiser finding 10 couples willing to donate the legal maximum of $4,600. Once this money arrives, Thompson will open office space and a website and burst onto the scene. Of course, with the porousness of sources, he's actually been leaking onto the scene since early March, but that's no matter: the newspapers will gleefully cover his choreographed announcement in 10 days or so.

Global Review thinks Fred Thompson is more qualified than, say, Barbra Streisand to be president. He has, for instance, played presidents on TV. He has proven ability to work with both parties; actually, to work as both parties: he's played both Ulysses S. Grant and Andrew Jackson. He has ample experience in the military and espionage, crucial in wartime. His credentials (er, credits) include Lt. Colonel, Maj. General, Rear Admiral, Court-Martial Captain, FBI Agent, and CIA Director. In addition, he can certainly say that he's the candidate with the best Law and Order credentials.

In all seriousness, though Mr. Thompson brings to the race a presidential voice and bearing as well as inside connections in Hollywood, Nashville, and Washington, he seems to have little in terms of executive experience or legislative prowess. As a Senator he did chase women and didn't author legislation.

Republicans looking for the next Ronald Reagan should look for substantive resemblances, not the superficial ones that Thompson obviously embodies.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Few Mementos

After traveling all over the U.S. the last couple weeks (including airports, I've been in 11 states plus D.C.), I'm happily exhausted, and I have 160 photos. Here are a few:

Monday, May 28, 2007


Two old friends are back on the blogroll and back in the blogosphere, respectively: Steve and Adora, the humbly self-proclaimed "Best Bloggr in the Blogosphere". Good reading, both.

One great link: Borkweb's great office prank of 2007, and one great photo (I had one of these, too).

Keepin' Down Wid Da Joneses

An NYU graduate student, Thomas Chatterton Williams, penned a WaPo opinion article today condemning hip-hop as a destructive force in black culture. While his premises are fair enough, he does not do a particularly good job in assigning blame to artists or producers. If, as he argues, black youth culture is derived from the street up, the efforts of wealthy - if popular - Hollywood figures to change the culture are more likely to result in their alienation from the culture than their alteration of it. This does not, of course, excuse millionaires from posing as street thugs. However, I am unconvinced that hip-hoppers are really the key to the problem.

One paragraph of Williams' perhaps suggests a different approach, with a scientific approach to a well-known phenomenon:
A 2005 study by Roland G. Fryer of Harvard University crystallizes the point: While there is scarce dissimilarity in popularity levels among low-achieving students, black or white, Fryer finds that "when a student achieves a 2.5 GPA, clear differences start to emerge." At 3.5 and above, black students "tend to have fewer and fewer friends," even as their high-achieving white peers "are at the top of the popularity pyramid." With such pressure to be real, to not "act white," is it any wonder that the African American high school graduation rate has stagnated at 70 percent for the past three decades?
What's truly shameful in this debate is that some black leaders claim "acting white" doesn't exist. Their view does not appear to be shared by the actual young people in question.


I am back in Rochester after traveling a ton the last two weeks. And I might be going to visit my sister in Boston (she's back from a five-month sojourn to Haiti) this weekend, so the chaos isn't over.

I just wish my body knew what time it is: last night at midnight I couldn't sleep; today at noon I'm ready for bed.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

What do Luis Viscaino, Kei Igawa, Andy Pettite, Chien-Ming Wang, and Mike Mussina have in common?

They are tied for the lead in wins by a Yankee pitcher. Each man has 2 wins (stats). Five other starting pitchers are on the Yankees DL.

Free-for-All 2008: Social Conservatives, Security Liberals

The metatext on the Republican primary battle now is "Can Rudy win?". After his clear pro-abortion statements this month, he has distinguished himself from a field that otherwise (except Jim Gilmore) clamors to denounce the practice. That's not necessarily the distinction Mr. Giuliani was hoping for, and he will have to work to get back on message in order to stay competitive.

Some writers are taking it too far: Gloria Berger thinks Giuliani's candidacy could split the G.O.P. That's the stuff of Democratic daydreams: the reality is that abortion is not a big part of governing, and whoever the nominee is will be overwhelmingly more conservative than the Democratic nominee, and that disparity will keep the coalition behind the party intact.

Giuliani's biggest problem, rather, is the topic of the Republican primary. With an Elephant incumbent using the world as his china closet, the G.O.P.'s usual winning national security message is little use to them. Tancredo and a few others are using immigration as a wedge to move to the right of George W. Bush on a security issue, but for the most part, security and international affairs are barren fields for Republican candidates right now.

[Equal time: for Democratic candidates, security and international affairs are a gold mine. That isn't to say that the Donkeys have overtaken the Elephants as a group in getting the public to trust them on security, but an individual candidate could easily distinguish himself with a good, clear security policy. Of course, the Democrats are considered weak on security for a reason: most are either wafflers (Clinton), idealists (Kucinich), loonies (Biden), or utterly untested (Obama and Edwards). Wesley Clark is apparently sitting this race out despite the fact that most Americans would trust him far more than the gaggle of far-left senators.]

Will Giuliani go away? I don't think so. But at this point, his only hope is to capture all the pro-abortion vote and a good chunk of the ambivalent vote. Even then, he still needs a clear split among the middle of the G.O.P. to win pluralities in some non-northeastern states. But his presence throughout the primary will help the G.O.P. He'll pull the field toward the center (nobody else need worry about being the least pro-life), add class and star power to debates, and push the conversation toward Republican strong points and away from narrow issues like immigration.

In closing, if Giuliani goes down, someone must come up. Romney hasn't gotten traction. Thompson's life as a D.C. womanizer will come back to haunt him if he enters. The fringe candidates are too fringy. That leaves Senator McCain. While Global Review continues to support Mitt Romney, our money is on McCain for the nomination.

The monthly prediction...
May '07: Clinton & Warner over McCain & Romney
Apr '07: Clinton & Warner over McCain & Giuliani
Mar '07: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Feb '07: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Jan '07: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Dec '06: Clinton & Obama over McCain & Giuliani
Nov '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Oct '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Sep '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Aug '06: McCain & Giuliani over Clinton & Warner
Jul '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Jun '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
May '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Apr '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Romney
Mar '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice
Feb '06: Clinton & Warner over Allen & Rice

Rank Candidate ChatterRank Change
R.1 Sen. John McCain 4,8030
R.2 Rudy Giuliani 4,7380
R.3 Gov. Mitt Romney 3,7580
R.4 Fred Thompson 1,547+2
R.5 Gov. Mike Huckabee 1,327+2
R.6 Newt Gingrich 1,307-1
R.7 Sen. Sam Brownback 1,226+1
R.8 Ron Paul 1,131+4
R.9 Rep. Duncan Hunter 1,028+2
R.10 Tommy Thompson 9740
R.11 Secy. Condoleezza Rice 972-2
R.12 Rep. Tom Tancredo 923+1
R.13 *(new) Jim Gilmore 862+3
R.14 Sen. Chuck Hagel 855-10
D.1 Sen. Hillary Clinton 7,0120
D.2 Sen. Barack Obama 5,4640
D.3 Sen. John Edwards 4,6170
D.4 Sen. Christopher Dodd 3,064+3
D.5 Sen. Joseph Biden 2,432+1
D.6 Gov. Bill Richardson 2,228+2
D.7 Sen. Russ Feingold 1,529+3
D.8 Sen. John Kerry 1,485-4
D.9 Al Gore 1,412-4
D.10 Howard Dean 1,364+1
D.11 Rep. Dennis Kucinich 1,279-2
D.12 *(new) Mike Gravel 802+2
D.13 Gov. Mark Warner 4460
D.14 Wesley Clark 980

Notes: The Chatter Rankings are created by searching each candidate's name plus "2008" in the Google News database. This month tested but not qualifying is Al Sharpton (547). Purged this month were Jeb Bush (81), George Pataki (40), and Tom Vilsack (13). Non-contenders are kept on the rolls as Vice-Presidential possibilities (e.g. Rice) and benchmarks (e.g. Dean).

See recent graphs of the Chatter Rankings plus Chatter Rankings from April, March, February, January, December 2006, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, December 2005, August, July, June, and May.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Play For A Piece of Jerusalem

The ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem is proceeding apace, reports Haaretz:
Jerusalem's Planning and Construction Committee has approved a plan to build three new Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. According to the committee's chairman, Deputy Mayor Yehoshua Pollak, the plan is intended to create continuity between Jerusalem and the Etzion settlement bloc south of the city, and between Jerusalem and the Beit-El area settlements north of the city.
It's not that there was no alternative; the National Planning and Construction Committee rejected an expansion of Jerusalem westward, where it would have encroached on Jewish-owned land.

The ethno-politics here is barefaced; the goal is not just to create housing, but also to connect with existing Jewish neighborhoods so they won't be isolated in the middle of the Arab lands they plunked down in:
Pollak told Haaretz that up to 10,000 housing units can be built in the area. "If you strengthen Walaja, you strengthen the connection with the Etzion bloc through the tunnel road," said Pollak.
There remains a lot of bureaucracy, and perhaps the National Committee will block this project, too; but Israel - like the U.S. - has a poor history of restraint in separating land from its previous inhabitants.

"Last year's bill is not the solution for this year"

The U.S. Senate is that great, august body of aging statesmen that tempers the rashness of the House of Representatives and the power-hungry executive branch, right? Well, just to show that they are not above politics, one august senator has this to say, WaPo:
"Last year's bill is not the solution for this year," said Sen. Mel Martinez (Fla.), one of [the immigration reform bill's] architects who is now general chairman of the Republican Party.
That's right. The nature of illegal immigration in this country has changed so much in the past year that a bill that won 63 votes in the Senate a year ago is now untenable, at least to Republican senators.

I don't know whether to be angry or ashamed.

Junior Faculty

Our cousins across the quad at Rochester's renowned Simon School of Business (ranked 3rd globally for finance) have a pair of new hires:
Angela Kniazeva and her younger sister Diana [are] due to take up their new positions in September at the University of Rochester, where half of their students will likely be older than them.

The pair, who already have masters degrees in international policy from Stanford University in California, were picking up their doctorates from New York University's Stern business school on Wednesday after five years of study.
So they're smart and they've stuck together as sisters. Why is this special? Because they'll be too young to date most of their students:
The duo were home-schooled by their parents and earned the equivalent of their US high-school diploma at the ages of 10 and 11 before graduating college in Russia at the ages of 13 and 14. They graduated from Stanford in 2002.

[Now] they are only 19 and 21.
Wow. Kudos to the Simon School for taking the leap.

Hat tip to Drudge.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Self-Fulfilling Prophetess

As Global Review mentioned yesterday, defeated French Socialist prophesied a few days before the presidential election that a win for center-right candidate Nicolas Sarkozy would spark violence and riots. She was right, in a sense:
In the Place de la Bastille in Paris riot police fired tear gas and at least one burst of water cannon after hundreds of rioters – some wearing masks – began throwing bottles, stones and other missiles.
They also set fire to cars and burned Mr. Sarkozy in effigy.

So the Socialist was right! She had said that the banlieues - depressed immigrant suburbs - might explode in violence if she lost the election. But wait... la Place de la Bastille n'est pas un banlieue. The News sheds a bit more light on the location of the rioting:
About 5000 supporters of defeated Socialist party candidate Segolene Royal had gathered in the square to await the election results.
So when Royal said there would be rioting, it wasn't so much a prediction (after all, the banlieues stayed peaceful) as a command to her followers. I hope the irony of this political and social malfeasance is not lost on the French.

Hat tip to Drudge.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Clemens is a Yankee

It was just announced on the DiamondVision board at Yankee Stadium: Roger Clemens is a New York Yankee. Save your tears over their April pitching woes; the Yankees will be just fine in September.

A Thousand Words

WaPo has a clever graphic that succinctly summarizes the first debates in the respective primary campaigns.

Sarkozy Wins

Despite blackmail by Segolene Royal (who prophecied, not unhappily, that riots would ensue if French voters chose her opponent), the French have chosen "Sarko l'Americain" as their next president. He represents a hopeful future of France: a child of immigrants, pro-growth, in favor of strong relationships with other democracies, and unwilling to buy into leftist or rightist hysteria.

Runner-up Royal is said to be preparing a concession speech with references to her impending death by guillotine.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest

Hat tip to my sister Ploy for this link: the internet (ah, don't you love the internet) is home not only to the Name of the Year competition but also to the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."

--Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)
This text is the inspiration, nay, the father of the Fiction Contest. The website states: Since 1982 the English Department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, a whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

Last year's results are just in. A runner-up:
The victim said her attacker was nondescript -- 5' 10 and 3/4", 163 pounds, with Clairol #83N hair (a hint of #84N at his temples) -- and last seen wearing Acuvue2 contacts, a white Hanes 65/35% poly-cotton t-shirt with a 3mm round Grey Poupon stain on the neckband, Levi's 501s missing the second button, and Nike Crosstrainers with muddy aglets.

Linda Fields, Framingham, MA
And a few past winners:
The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails--not for the first time since the journey began--pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.

--Gail Cain, San Francisco, California (1983 Winner)
She wasn't really my type, a hard-looking but untalented reporter from the local cat box liner, but the first second that the third-rate representative of the fourth estate cracked open a new fifth of old Scotch, my sixth sense said seventh heaven was as close as an eighth note from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, so, nervous as a tenth grader drowning in eleventh-hour cramming for a physics exam, I swept her into my longing arms, and, humming "The Twelfth of Never," I got lucky on Friday the thirteenth.

--Wm. W. "Buddy" Ocheltree, Port Townsend, Washington (1993 Winner)
The corpse exuded the irresistible aroma of a piquant, ancho chili glaze enticingly enhanced with a hint of fresh cilantro as it lay before him, coyly garnished by a garland of variegated radicchio and caramelized onions, and impishly drizzled with glistening rivulets of vintage balsamic vinegar and roasted garlic oil; yes, as he surveyed the body of the slain food critic slumped on the floor of the cozy, but nearly empty, bistro, a quick inventory of his senses told corpulent Inspector Moreau that this was, in all likelihood, an inside job.

--Bob Perry, Milton, Massachusetts (1998 Winner)
Truly, art is alive in America.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Evolution is a god

Every time evolutionists see something new in nature, they point to it as evidence of evolution. This sometimes flies in the face of reason, not to mention Ockham's Razor. Generally, the tipoff to this religious evolutionism is the personification of evolution, endowing it with feelings and intentions, much as ancient pagans endowed the heavenly bodies and natural forces with personalities and mercurial (there you go!) wills.

NYTimes reports on the latest piece of data to come out of anatidine biology:
Part of the answer, [Dr. Patricia Brennan] has discovered, has gone overlooked for decades. Male ducks may have such extreme genitals because the females do too. The birds are locked in an evolutionary struggle for reproductive success.
Wait a sec'! There is an intraspecies struggle for survival? Here's Reuters:
An exception is ducks -- especially mallards. Although mallards pair off to mate, females are often raped by stray males. Yet studies show that these rapes do not pay off for the males. "Even in a species where 40 percent of the copulations are forced copulations, the ducklings still are mostly sired by the mates," Brennan said. "That implies the females may have some kind of mechanism that allows them to keep control of the paternity."

Brennan believes females evolved convoluted oviducts to foil the male rapists.

"You can envision an evolutionary scenario that, as the male phallus increases in size, the female creates more barriers. You get this evolutionary arms race," Brennan said.
Evolution is not like women's liberation: it can't be planned by the participants. So suppose a she-mallard is born with a particular complex oviduct. What are the odds that this bird passes down her genes? Unless there's another layer of complexity (say, if bastards were considered ugly ducklings), good evolutionary sense dictates that such mutations would be quickly exorcised.

According to evolutionist religion, there is an intrinsic desire on the part of each species (or the god behind each species) willing its survival. Brennan wants to split that god into male and female halves which, instead of cooperating for the survival of the species, are fighting over how to do it. What's more, her female ducks care more about spiting rapists and preserving the bloodline of their husbands than preserving their own. What do the she-ducks gain from this? They still get raped and they are less likely to reproduce than their hypothetical kin with simpler oviducts.

But for the true believer, it's not the evidence that matters - it's the ideology. To Brennan, this shows that her god - evolution - is a feminist, presumably like herself. That's an important theological result.

Hat tip to James Taranto. Also, not to be crude, but look at the main photo in the Times article. Who exactly is examining whose phallus?