Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We'll Meet Again

This blog will be on hiatus until January 3rd, until then I'll be somewhere in the middle of nowhere.  Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wandering in the Desert

I was glad to see the demise of the overgenerous bribe (propitiation?) that the Obama administration was offering Netanyahu...  Beinart scathes:
Yasher Koach, Bibi, it looks like the White House has finally given up. For close to two years now, they've been hectoring you about a Palestinian state. First, they tried sticks: They worked to undermine you politically by letting Israelis know you didn't have the president's trust. Then they tried carrots: offering to double Israel's stock of advanced jet fighters, veto any critical resolutions at the U.N. and give you carte blanche to build in the West Bank if only you'd freeze settlements for another three months and use that time to talk seriously about the borders of a Palestinian state. But you held your ground. You made it clear that you'd pocket the planes and conduct a three-month filibuster. No way were you going to be bullied into the kind of final-status negotiations undertaken by Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. And so the Americans caved. They've dropped their demands for a settlement freeze. They've stopped trying to orchestrate direct talks. They've gone into a fetal position. Am Yisrael Chai!...
[Regarding P-state recognition and boycotts:]
I know, I know. You consider all this unfair, and in some ways it is. But when you've been occupying another people for 43 years, confiscating more and more of their land and denying them citizenship while providing it to your own settlers, it doesn't do much good to insist that things are worse in Burma. Your only effective argument against the Elvis Costellos and Hannah Kings was that you were trying to end the occupation. That's where Obama came in. As long as the U.S. president seemed to have a chance of brokering a deal, his efforts held the boycotters and protesters and Palestinian state-recognizers at bay. When Brazil and Argentina recognized Palestinian independence, the American Jewish Committee's David Harris declared it "fundamentally unhelpful to the Arab-Israeli peace process." But what if there is no peace process? What's your argument then?
More.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hacks

Even if you think Wikileaks is the greatest thing since sliced bread, you should agree that hacking the websites of companies that choose not to do business with Assange and his enterprise is plainly engaging in thuggish criminality.  One can easily protest any corporate decision by advocating for a boycott of the 'offending' company.  On the other hand, engaging in gangsterism as revenge for a corporate decision that one disagrees with is close to morally indefensible.  So is hacking Sarah Palin's credit card information.  Grow up, "Anonymous."

Ayaan Talks 'Nomad' with Allan Gregg

(h/t Ayaan)

Monday, December 6, 2010

QFTD

"How to Raise Your I.Q. by Eating Gifted Children"  - Lewis B. Frumkes, 1983 Book Title.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

QFTD

"Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy?  I don't know and I don't care."  - William Safire

The Postmodernism Generator

To generate a completely meaningless though familiar-sounding critical essay of your very own, click here.

Irony Fail

"Environmentalists have a long history of believing and promoting exaggerations and myths,' says the man who claims redemption by taking a magical swim in the name of a Jewish desert zombie who was also his own father, sent from beyond to be scapegoated for the collective human sin of listening to a talking snake.

Friday, December 3, 2010

At Large

Christopher Hitchens speaks at length to Radio Free Europe's James Kirchick "about his left-wing revolutionary past, his views on America, Iran's nuclear program, Turkey's Islamist turn, Putin's Russia, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and sampled his views on a variety of international figures."

Lisitsa - Liszt Totentanz

The shit really hits the fan at around the seven minute mark.  Beautifully shot.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

QFTD

"Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."  - Mark Twain

21 Years and Yet the Same Fears

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 Daily Consequences of Having Evolved

....detailed in Smithsonian Magazine:

2. Hiccups
The first air-breathing fish and amphibians extracted oxygen using gills when in the water and primitive lungs when on land—and to do so, they had to be able to close the glottis, or entryway to the lungs, when underwater. Importantly, the entryway (or glottis) to the lungs could be closed. When underwater, the animals pushed water past their gills while simultaneously pushing the glottis down. We descendants of these animals were left with vestiges of their history, including the hiccup. In hiccupping, we use ancient muscles to quickly close the glottis while sucking in (albeit air, not water). Hiccups no longer serve a function, but they persist without causing us harm—aside from frustration and occasional embarrassment. One of the reasons it is so difficult to stop hiccupping is that the entire process is controlled by a part of our brain that evolved long before consciousness, and so try as you might, you cannot think hiccups away.

3. Backaches
The backs of vertebrates evolved as a kind of horizontal pole under which guts were slung. It was arched in the way a bridge might be arched, to support weight. Then, for reasons anthropologists debate long into the night, our hominid ancestors stood upright, which was the bodily equivalent of tipping a bridge on end. Standing on hind legs offered advantages—seeing long distances, for one, or freeing the hands to do other things—but it also turned our backs from an arched bridge to an S shape. The letter S, for all its beauty, is not meant to support weight and so our backs fail, consistently and painfully...

8. Our brains squeeze our teeth
A genetic mutation in our recent ancestors caused their descendants to have roomy skulls that accommodated larger brains. This may seem like pure success—brilliance, or its antecedent anyway. But the gene that made way for a larger brain did so by diverting bone away from our jaws, which caused them to become thinner and smaller. With smaller jaws, we could not eat tough food as easily as our thicker-jawed ancestors, but we could think our way out of that problem with the use of fire and stone tools. Yet because our teeth are roughly the same size as they have long been, our shrinking jaws don’t leave enough room for them in our mouths. Our wisdom teeth need to be pulled because our brains are too big.

More.