Archive for September, 2010
30 Sep 2010

Urban Pseudo-Intellectual Fodder

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Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash discusses the kind of art produced today for readers of the New Yorker, for the believing-itself-to-be-hip, pseudo-educated urban community of fashion, things like the films of Woody Allen and the novels of Don DeLillo.

There is a certain kind of art made here in America for a lofty but banal purpose: to enliven the contemporary educated mind.

You know: the mind of you and me, dear 3QD reader — the NPR listener, the New Yorker reader, the English major, the filmgoer who laps up subtitles, the gallery-goer who can tell a Koons from a Hirst.

This art is superior to the cascading pile of blockbuster kitsch-dreck-crap that passes for pop culture, but only superior by a few pips.

This art sure ain’t Picasso, or Joyce, or Rossellini, or the Beatles, or even Sondheim. It’s more Woody Allen than Ingmar Bergman, more Joyce Carol Oates than James Joyce, more Jeff Koons than Duchamp, more Arcade Fire than the Beatles.

It does not expand the borders of art or wreck the tyranny of the possible or enlarge our hungry little minds.

It is art of the day to inform the conversation of the day by the people of the day who need to be reassured that their taste is a little more elevated than that of the woman on the subway reading Nora Roberts.

For want of a better label, here’s a suggested honorific for this kind of art:

Urban Intellectual Fodder.

Neither original nor path-breaking, this art is derivative hommage; postmodern commentary around the edges of art.

It is art born of attitude, not passion. It is art that postures but doesn’t grip. It is art created by those who are more passionate about a career in art than about art itself. …

What distinguishes this art from actual art?

Primarily, this is art that thinks about art. Art of the intellect, not the heart. Art done to bring us the smart, not the art.

The artists of Urban Intellectual Fodder act like art critics doing art — they’re better about their art than with it, better on their art than in it. Their art is done to show their smarts, and that’s primarily what one gets from their art.

Smart art: in America, the land of anti-intellectualism, it’s perhaps inevitable that our art should devolve into a screech against the national celebration of the dumb.

Unfortunately, this art does the smart thing to the detriment of the other things that art can do. It does the soothing, lulling thing, because it is art to make the viewer feel smart. The audience I’m talking about wants only that from art: to be made to feel smart. So they get their art of the brain, for the brain and by the brain. Art that panders with its braininess.

Urban Intellectual Fodder is the prozac of the American intelligentsia.

It’s studiedly smart; it’s properly elliptical; it’s quite self-aware and often very meta; it is extensively footnoted, either actually or mentally; its distance from its material is either ironically remote or uncomfortably close-up; it is intensely minimal or wordy or effects-ridden, in either a refined or extravagant way; it specializes in conceits, and sometimes its conceit is to be devoid of one; and it makes its small points, and sometimes its big obvious ones, in either a very guarded or rather grandiosely ironical way.

Critic James Wood coined a name for it: “hysterical realism.” Dale Peck had a name for it, too: “recherche postmodernism.”

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

30 Sep 2010

Former French Minister Suffers Lapsa Linguis

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Sifi:

French politician Rachida Dati says “fellatio” comment was slip of tongue.

Former French justice minister Rachida Dati has said the reason the word inflation came out as fellatio during her talk, was because she was speaking too fast.

Dati, 44, laughed at the mistake she had made on Canal Plus television during a radio interview.

“I just spoke too quickly but, well, if that lets everybody have a laugh, then that’s fine,” News.com.au quoted her as saying.

The MEP had confused oral sex with rising prices as she launched an attack on foreign investment funds.

[“…moi quand je vois certains qui demandent des rentabilités à 20, 25%, avec une fellation quasi-nulle et en particulier en période de crise…”]

“When I see some of them looking for returns of 20 or 25 percent, at a time when fellatio is close to zero, and in particular in a slump, that means we are destroying businesses,” she had told Canal Plus in a midday interview.

29 Sep 2010

SAS Adopts Exclusively Muslim Menu on Flights

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The road from political correctness to dhimmitude is proving very short.

The Copenhagen Post:

SAS flight passengers might soon only have a menu made entirely from Halal food to choose from on all flights in the near future.

Gate Gourmet, the food unit of Gategroup which supplies food for the pan-Scandinavian airline, told the Financial Times they have plans to switch all production to halal methods of food preparation.

Halal foods include certain meats, but no pork, and the animal is slaughtered in a specific method.

Guy Dubois, the CEO of Swiss-based Gategroup, told the newspaper that it is considering the move to save costs, as all of the production is streamlined, and the menu is agreeable to all passengers.

29 Sep 2010

“Man Up”

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Conservative commentator Sean Hannity really unloads on Obama for whining and blaming everybody but himself.

Jim Hoft: “This is why we love Sean Hannity.”

29 Sep 2010

Who Knows What They’ll Tax Next?

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Qui sait ce qu'ils taxeront ensuite ?

Satirical video from French taxpayers organizations: http://www.lecri.fr et http://www.contribuables.org

Hat tip to David Wagner.

29 Sep 2010

Viral Video: Dragnet 2010

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Going around by email these days.

Via John Zebraitis.

28 Sep 2010

Trigonometry Illustrated

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From reddit.

28 Sep 2010

Federal Regulations: A 14% Tax on National Income

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Ever have a personal experience of some irrational and unnecessary federal regulation?

I can remember, decades ago, when I was still a student working at factory jobs during the summer, spending weeks and weeks installing OSHA-mandated improvised barriers on machine tools of every sort.

The activity was pointless. The rods, bars, and pieces of sheet metal I was attaching were simply nuisances that would only get in the way. No one wanted them. No one needed them. No one thought they were desirable. But someone in Washington, undoubtedly someone who had never operated a machine tool or worked in a factory, had decreed that a symbolic sacrifice of convenience and efficiency to the safety gods must be performed, and every factory and machine shop in the land was obliged to genuflect and sacrifice.

Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain, in the Wall Street Journal explain that regulations have continued to increase over the years, by now amounting to a serious portion of our national income.

The annual cost of federal regulations in the United States increased to more than $1.75 trillion in 2008, a 3% real increase over five years, to about 14% of U.S. national income. This cost is in addition to the federal tax burden of 21%, for a combined cost of 35% of national income. One out of every three dollars earned in the U.S. goes to pay for or comply with federal laws and regulations, and new policies enacted in 2010 for health care and financial services will increase this burden.

28 Sep 2010

Obamacare: The First Six Months

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James Capretta, at National Review Online, takes a look at the first six months of “reform.”

He finds the foundations well underway for massive bureaucracy resulting in the politicization of patient care decisions, with the Obama Administration engaging in disinformation campaigns and power plays, and making threats against the livelihoods of businesses affected which protest.

During the long national debate over the future of American health care, President Obama frequently chastised his opponents for launching exaggerated attacks on his plan for “reform.” He took particular exception to the criticism that the changes he was pushing amounted to a government takeover of the whole health sector. He knew full well that this kind of criticism might derail the entire effort in Congress, because most Americans recoil at the thought of a distant and bureaucratic federal government running the health-care system for everyone. So Obama vigorously denied that his program would lead to any such thing. In his Aug. 8, 2009, radio address, he described the “takeover” accusation as “outlandish” and characterized his approach as a mainstream and moderate attempt simply to reform the nation’s private health-insurance system.

It’s now been six months since Congress passed Obamacare — not a long time given the sweeping nature of the legislation and the long phase-in schedule for its most significant provisions. Even so, it is already abundantly clear that Obamacare’s critics were dead right: The new health law has set in motion a government takeover of American health care, and a very hostile one at that. The Obama administration’s clumsy and overbearing behavior since its passage proves the point.

Read the whole thing.

27 Sep 2010

Barack Obama: The Art of Leadership By Unwelcome Compromise

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Paul Mirengoff sums up what we’ve learned from today’s installment of Bob Woodward’s account of Barack Obama’s performance as Commander-in-Chief.

You can see why he needed to remove that bust of Churchill from the Oval Office. It would have represented a constant reproach to Obama’s timid version of leadership.

Obama was unable to browbeat the military brass into providing him with a military option consistent with the kind of commitment he wanted to make to the Afghan fight. To be sure, Obama was handicapped by the fact that the military didn’t believe that fighting a war at Obama’s level of commitment made sense. But it is still disconcerting to read about a president this lacking in force of personality and this unable to command respect.

Next, Woodward confirms that the strategy Obama ultimately came with was, indeed, a compromise between two approaches, both of which seem more plausible: (1) fighting at the level of commitment (both in terms of troop levels and timing) the military thinks is necessary to succeed or (2) drawing down our troop level and focusing on selective strikes designed to disrupt the Taliban. The first option had the support of the military, including those who designed and carried out the successful Iraq surge. The second option had the support of Vice President Biden, perhaps (and what a sad commentary this is) the closest thing to an adult and quasi-expert in Obama’s inner circle.

The compromise option Obama came up with apparently was not advocated by anyone who claims expertise in this area.

Finally, Woodward confirms what has been painfully obvious from Obama’s language (including body language) for months. The U.S. President doesn’t much believe in the strategy pursuant to which he is sending American troops into harm’s way. According to Woodward, Obama, after noting that “the easy thing for me to do, politically, would actually be to say no” to sending in 30,000 additional troops, began to say he would be “perfectly happy” not to send them in. Stopping in mid-sentence, Obama then projected his feelings (accurately enough) on to Rahm Emanuel: “Nothing would make Rahm happier than if I said no to the 30,000.” …

After formulating a compromise no one seems to have really believed in, Obama the lawyer-in-chief reduced it to a six page “term sheet.” He also insisted that “we’re not going to do this unless everybody literally signs on to it and looks me in the eye and tells me they are for it.”

Was Obama really foolish enough to believe that this sort of ceremony would provide him with historical cover? Woodward’s one useful function in this affair, perhaps an unwitting one, is to help make sure that it won’t.

27 Sep 2010

Michael J. Horowitz ’64L For Yale Corporation

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How long has it been since there was anyone not an establishment liberal or a radical on the Yale Corporation board? I expect someone along the lines of John Chafee or John Lindsay must have been the last board member to be registered as a Republican.

A group of Yale alumni, including some friends of mine, have organised an insurgent candidacy for a board seat on the Yale Corporation, an effort resembling a number of candidacies for Dartmouth’s board.

Mr. Horowitz’s supporters published the following letter to Yale alumni able to sign a candidacy petition.

Dear Fellow Yale Alumna/Alumnus:

We seek your support for the petition nomination of Michael J. Horowitz ’64L as an Alumni Fellow candidate of the Yale Corporation. We do so because of our conviction that Horowitz’ election and service will enhance Yale’s financial viability and intellectual and political diversity.

Horowitz’ record of accomplishments is as impressive as it is diverse. He has formed and led broad-based, bipartisan coalitions that have passed such major human rights legislation as the International Religious Freedom Act, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Sudan Peace Act, the Democracy Promotion Act, the North Korea Human Rights Act, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, and reforms that overrode the Bush administration’s harsh construction of the Real I.D. and Patriot Acts. Horowitz has led a successful effort to reduce the epidemic scourge of sexual assault in America’s prisons, and has played a critical role in permitting victims of terrorist coercion to be eligible for consideration as U.S. refugees. He has been a central figure in the historic effort to eliminate the sex trafficking of women in both the United States and abroad–and to define it as the slavery issue of our time. In the case of North Korea, Horowitz is a key advisor to an underground railroad movement that rescues North Korean refugees, and he is engaged in enlisting the Korean-American community to press for the peaceful implosion of the Pyongyang regime through strategies modeled on the Campaign for Soviet Jewry and the anti-apartheid campaign. He is also now mobilizing left-right coalitions in three new, major initiatives:

Linking US foreign aid to the satisfaction of baseline humanitarian prison conditions–an effort likely to save tens of thousands of lives per year at nominal cost while strengthening rule of law governance in the developing world; Establishing a cost-effective “medical diplomacy” effort to eliminate forced child marriages and one its most horrific effects: the devastating condition of obstetric fistula suffered by millions of incontinent and pariah-treated African girls and women; Shattering the Internet firewalls by which regimes like those in China, Iran, Burma, Tibet and Cuba isolate and control their people–an effort premised on the view that the Internet firewalls of today are as fragile as was the Berlin Wall, an object of Horowitz’ concern during his service in the Reagan administration.

Horowitz taught the first integrated classes at the University of Mississippi Law School, where he is a still-honored figure for his efforts to bring civil rights reform to life, and for his efforts to recruit African-American students while insisting on the maintenance of rigorous and color-blind academic standards. He was an equally distinguished General Counsel of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) during the Reagan administration.

In seeking your support, we call your attention to two issues that cause us grave concern, which we believe Horowitz is strongly qualified to address.

First, we believe that the University’s finances are unduly premised on three false assumptions: that current levels of federal subsidies for students and private universities will continue; that today’s financial unrest is a temporary blip in a long-term trend of rapid endowment appreciation; and that Yale can continue to raise tuition each year without fundamentally changing the composition of its student body or compromising the nature and quality of the academic experience it offers. Horowitz’ work at OMB has given him a keen understanding of the strategies and pitfalls involved in managing large and complex budgets, and his past service on the board of his children’s school has given him critical experience with the tradeoffs between high operating expenses and high tuitions. Horowitz will serve as a much needed voice of restraint and responsibility dedicated to putting Yale’s finances on a more sustainable course.

Next, we are deeply disappointed by the growing lack of intellectual diversity on campus. Yale’s political correctness was highlighted when the Yale Press compelled the redaction of a Danish cartoon portraying the prophet Mohammad–an incident we believe to be sadly representative of current University policies and practices. Through Horowitz’ election, we seek to elevate the priority at Yale of a robust and diverse exchange of ideas, an openness to modes of thinking that have been too easily discounted as politically incorrect, and a measure of courage in standing up for the enduring values that will always define great universities.

Horowitz believes that greater respect for traditional culture is in order at Yale, and in the national discourse. As the only Jew to receive the prestigious Wilberforce Award for his work in combating the worldwide persecution of Christians, Horowitz values the contribution of religious groups to the moral progress of our society. Likewise, he believes that conventional ideas about sexuality have often been dismissed without regard to their particular value to young women, and he believes that such campus “traditions” as Yale Sex Week, where sadists, pornographers and enslaving sex traffickers are routinely celebrated, should be subjected to more vigorous debate about their auspices and effects. He believes that a lack of political and intellectual diversity in some parts of Yale’s faculty is an issue in need of sensitive but focused attention.

The above said, it must be immediately noted that neither Horowitz, nor we, seek censorship or traditional values hegemony at Yale; to the contrary, the critical hallmark of Horowitz’ candidacy is its call for greater openness, debate and diversity than the University has fostered–or at times even permitted–in challenges to its prevailing orthodoxies.

A political conservative, Horowitz served in the Reagan administration for the same reason he taught the first integrated classes of law students at the University of Mississippi – an ability to think straight about American values, decency and history. He has been persuaded to run for the Corporation as a means of honoring the immigrant grandparents who inculcated his deep belief that America is a blessed land; his election will help restore the intellectual balance and common sense prudence now so badly in need of reinvigoration at Yale.

We urge your support for the Horowitz candidacy.

Richard Brookhiser – Yale College 1977
William W. Chip – Yale College 1971
Andrew P. Clark – GSAS 2009
Seth J. Corey – Yale College 1978
Eleanor Gaetan – Yale College 1982
Todd Hartch – Yale College 1989, Ph.D 2000
John Miller – Yale Law & GSE, 1963
Grover J. Rees – Yale College 1972
Michael Rubin – Yale College 1994, Ph.D 1999
Michael W. Steinberg – Yale College 1974
Diana West – Yale College 1983

———————————-

Michael J. Horowitz is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, and its website features biographaphical highlights.

———————————-

The Horowitz candidacy has been promoted in postings by such eminent conservative bloggers as Powerline’s Scott Johnson and Maggie’s Farm’s Bird Dog, Glenn Reynolds.

———————————-

In order for Mr. Horowitz’s name to appear on the ballot as a write-in candidate for the 2011 election, he needs to receive 3,808 signatures by October 1.

If you are a Yale alumnus/a, send the following email with your name, school, and year to Yalepetitioncandidate@electionservicescorp.com to nominate Mike to be on the 2011 Alumni Fellow ballot.

I am writing to support the Alumni Fellow petition candidacy of Michael Horowitz.

______________________
Name

______________________
School & Class Year

27 Sep 2010

Correction: Alpine Ibex, Not Chamois

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In a posting below, I find that I misidentified the critters on the dam. They are Alpine ibex, not chamois.

Sigh.

27 Sep 2010

WWII Story

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90-year-old Jack Leroy Tueller, a much-decorated former fighter pilot, from Bountiful, Utah remembers an incident from WWII.

Tueller wanted to play his trumpet to relieve the stress from a horrifying war-time mission he had been forced to perform earlier the same day.

Standard Examiner:

Jack Leroy Tueller was a World War II fighter pilot, flying a thousand feet above German tanks he and his fellow pilots were sent to blow up, when he spotted the patches of bright red, blue and yellow atop the drab gray-green tank that was his target.

“It was a French mother, trying to use her body to cover her three children,” Tueller, of Bountiful, recalls more than six decades later. “They were dressed in bright colors, so we would see them. They were human shields. The Germans knew American boys would not fire on innocents. There were mothers and children secured on every tank. There were 16 of us, and none of us fired.”

Tueller and his men pulled away, and he radioed the situation to his superiors. The gut-wrenching reply crackled back: Destroying the tanks was paramount, his superior said. The civilians were expendable.

Hearts pounding, the men followed orders.

“I’ve lived with that for 65 years, what 50-caliber machine guns did to those civilians,” said Tueller, 89, his voice cracking. “I grew up that day. I realized that in every war, innocent civilians are sacrificed by both sides. In killing evil, sometimes the innocents go down with the guilty. Wars are that way. In Afghanistan today, where I have a son serving, mothers are teaching children to carry bombs on their backs. War is like that.”

Tueller and other … veterans share[d] their memories in… the fifth and final episode of KUED Channel 7’s series “Utah World War II Stories.”

Hat tip to Theo Spark.

26 Sep 2010

When They Say “Take Me To Your Leader”….

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Mazlan Othman

The United Nations is ready.

News.Com.Au:

THE United Nations was set today to appoint an obscure Malaysian astrophysicist to act as Earth’s first contact for any aliens that may come visiting.

Mazlan Othman, the head of the UN’s little-known Office for Outer Space Affairs (Unoosa), is to describe her potential new role next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society’s Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire.

She is scheduled to tell delegates that the recent discovery of hundreds of planets around other stars has made the detection of extraterrestrial life more likely than ever before – and that means the UN must be ready to coordinate humanity’s response to any “first contact”.

During a talk Othman gave recently to fellow scientists, she said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials.

“When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency and who leads British delegations to the UN on such matters, said: “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”

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