Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


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Monday, April 30, 2007

This Guy Should Be In Charge Of The FCC

George Will vs. the Fairness Doctrine.

This section demolishes the scarcity argument that served as the key rationale for the policy upon its inception:

Adam Thierer, writing in the City Journal, notes that today's "media cornucopia" has made America "as information-rich as any society in history." In addition to the Internet's uncountable sources of information, there are 14,000 radio stations—twice as many as in 1970—and satellite radio has nearly 14 million subscribers. Eighty-seven percent of households have either cable or satellite television with more than 500 channels to choose from. There are more than 19,000 magazines (up more than 5,000 since 1993). Thierer says, consider a black lesbian feminist who hunts and likes country music:

"Would the 'mainstream media' of 25 years ago represented any of her interests? Unlikely. Today, though, this woman can program her TiVo to record her favorite shows on Black Entertainment Television, Logo (a gay/lesbian-oriented cable channel), Oxygen (female-targeted programming), the Outdoor Life Network and Country Music Television."

Better be careful, though - some might use this as an excuse to call for federal TiVo subsidies. Wait a sec, I don't have TiVo...


This Guy Was In Charge Of The CIA?

In his new book, George Tenet said that Richard Perle was in the US the day after 9/11, when Perle was actually in France.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lost - Giving Us New Mysteries Before The Old Ones Are Solved

(Spoiler warning)

Okay, how did the Russkie survive the sonic fence? There are several possibilities:

  • He faked his death - the sonic fence does nothing but keep Smokey out. (He'd have to fake bleeding from the ears, which is unlikely.)
  • He was injured by the fence, but not fatally.
  • The Bakunin who showed up was really the Monster. (The Bakunin at the fence couldn't have been the Monster because he was able to cross the sonic barrier.)
  • Some other deeply convoluted explanation.

D.O.C. is more interesting than the previous episode, mainly because of the scenes with Sun and Juliet. The paternity of Sun's baby is now certain, as is Juliet's loathing for Ben. We have a hint as to her mission, that it has to do with her fertility research. Mittelos' ultimate goals for this research is yet to be disclosed; I suspected some sort of profit motive, but there's probably more to it than that.

We've learned very little from Naomi. Without the Internet, only Portugese-speaking viewers would know that she told Bakunin that she's not alone. (He speaks English, Russian and Portugese - that's a lot of foreign language training for an army medic.)

We also learned that Naomi believes that Flight 815 wreckage was found. Aside from alternate universe and time travel possibilities, there are at least four possibilities:

  • The outside world found parts of the wreckage that had washed out to sea. It seems unlikely that the wreckage could have traveled so far from the island that a) rescuers would have ignored the island, and b) the Lostaways would not have spotted the search operations.
  • Naomi was somehow given false information about 815. She would have to have been sheltered from outside news coverage, and subjected to fake news about the flight. I could see that happening to a prisoner on the island
  • Naomi was lying. But why?
  • A second plane crashed that day, a counterfeit of Flight 815.

The fourth alternative seems the most likely. That means that someone (Mittelos or DHARMA are top suspects) staged the crash. But why? Most likely explanation is to cover up the hijacking of the real flight.

Which brings up the next question: motive. The hijack coverup theory means that the world would never know a crime was committed, and would never be able to find the real plane or its occupants. Possible motives are murder, hiding from the world something or someone that was on that plane, or stealing something or someone that was on that plane. If the latter two, the goal could have been to bring the plane to the island intact - only to have that plan thwarted by Desmond's delay in hitting the button.

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America's Favorite Architecture

Link here (via Ursi).


Sandmonkey Quits

LGF reports that the Egyptian blogger is leaving the keyboard out of safety concerns.


Vote Early, Vote Often

KnoxNews is asking readers to cast their votes on the greatest car chase in movie history.

Link via Instapundit)


Friday, April 27, 2007

Barack The Magic Negro

Some blogs like this one are aghast at the latest song parody by Paul Shanklin, whose tunes are featured on Rush Limbaugh's show. I summed up the real story in comments:

Shanklin is lampooning racism directed at Obama. David Ehrenstein is the one who dubbed Obama the "Magic Negro", invoking the label given to a stock character in fiction who exists only to aid the white protagonist. (A classic example: Scatman Crothers in "The Shining."),0,5335087.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Sharpton is dragged into this because he, like Ehrenstein, is part of that contingent that holds to a narrow view of what constitutes black authenticity. (And because Sharpton has a famous voice, which Shanklin has impersonated before.) Obama fits part of that mold - he's a staunch leftist - but he draws suspicion because he draws a lot of white supporters.

(One wonders how many people would be miffed if our first black president had no roots to American slavery.)

This parody compares to "Blazing Saddles" - both portray racism in a work intended to lampoon racism.

The bloghost misreported Rush's comments about Donovan McNabb; I couldn't let that go by unchallenged:

Oh, you got the Donovan McNabb story wrong. Allen Barra at Slate got it right:

"Rush Limbaugh didn't say Donovan McNabb was a bad quarterback because he is black. He said that the media have overrated McNabb because he is black, and Limbaugh is right. He didn't say anything that he shouldn't have said, and in fact he said things that other commentators should have been saying for some time now."

The media tend to get a little hyped in favor of black sports players who play sports positions where blacks have been historically scarce. As the McNabb incident illustrates, such bias can dampen objective reporting. As coverage of the last Super Bowl demonstrated, it can also lead reporters to allow talk about black achievement to overshadow talk about the specific talents of the people in question.

(Linked to Slate article supplied in another comment - it's right here.

Update: Actually, Ehrenstein is promoting an entirely different form of racism. Shanklin is making use of the current buzzowrd "Magic Negro" to jab specifically at the long-standing not-an-authentic-black-person prejudice demonstrated by Sharpton and his ilk. Ehrenstein's racism is directed toward white people who support Obama. His own words from the LA Times article:

He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.


Like a comic-book superhero, Obama is there to help, out of the sheer goodness of a heart we need not know or understand. For as with all Magic Negroes, the less real he seems, the more desirable he becomes. If he were real, white America couldn't project all its fantasies of curative black benevolence on him.

Update: Heh, Obama does have roots to American slavery after all. But not the kind that most African-Americans relate to.

Update: Is Al Sharpton black enough?

As the New Republic points out, Sharpton has an overstated following among black people. In 2004, when Sharpton ran for President, his traction among his alleged base was underwhelming. In South Carolina, where almost half of all registered Dems were black, both John Kerry and John Edwards received twice as many black votes as Sharpton. But this hasn't stopped media outlets from phoning Sharpton whenever something even remotely racial goes down. And it hasn't stopped writers from touting Sharpton's presumed popularity among black people, as opposed to "palatable" black people like Obama.

The issue with Sharpton isn't his blackness, of course. I suspect that a lot of blacks who prefer Edwards and Kerry over Sharpton would give this response: "He talks a lot, but he doesn't really do anything for us."

Update: Sharpton has gotten his digs into Obama - for being insufficiently involved in the black community:

The Rev. Al Sharpton has launched a "big-time" effort to tear down Illinois Sen. Barack Obama as a candidate for president, The Post has learned.

"He's saying that Obama never did anything for the community, never worked with anybody from the community, that nobody knows the people around him, that he's a candidate driven by white leadership," said a prominent black Democratic activist who knows Sharpton.

So what has Al done for black communities?

Update: Is Hillary black enough?

Update: Cornel West is not an Obama fan.

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Burger Time

Two words: extreme cheeseburger.

Update: The link works, but sometimes the page is slow to load.


For Some Reason...

...this makes me think of this.

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Bobby "Boris" Pickett (1938-2007)

The creator of "The Monster Mash" has passed away.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Spam Control Software Has A Sense Of Humor

Here's a screen capture taken from Huw Raphael's site when commenting to this post:

 photo l33t.gif

For those unfamiliar with l33t, click here.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Boris Yeltsin (1931-2007)

Pejman Yousefzadeh has two worthwhile links in this post.


Heroes - Isaac Outwits Sylar

(Warning: spoilers)

Yesterday's episode raises an interesting question: why in the name of Vishnu didn't Mohinder shoot Sylar when he knocked the dude unconscious?

Claire finally gets to meet dad. She doesn't want to go to Paris, but I think deep down she understands the obvious reason for it, to preserve Nathan's election chances. The bigger unspoken reason is that half of New York is gonna explode, and he doesn't want Claire in the warpath. But we all know that she'll find a way to stay.

The big winners of this episode are Peter, Mr. Bennett, and, ironically, Isaac. Peter survives thanks to Claire finding the shard of glass in his head; their shared power is interrupted by foreign objects stuck in the brain, loosely analogous to a stake in a vampire's heart. Bennett pulls off an exquisite breakout, and is now teamed with Sprague and Parkman and headed for - guess where. If Sprague is smart he'll suggest recruiting Hana Gitelman; she may have some trust issues with Bennett, but the "mutant" tracking facility in NYC should be enough to scare her into joining. It never hurts to have an Israeli commando on your team if you're fighting bad guys.

Isaac's death had been foretold already by Hiro's first visit to future New York, and later in one of Isaac's own paintings. Sylar gets what he wants, but doesn't realize that Isaac has hidden an even greater prize from the serial killer - his sketch book, which contains the entire progression of events leading to the New York apocalypse. One of those events is Sylar's death; without that sketch Sylar lacks a critical clue needed to save his own life. Hiro and Ando find those sketches pinned up in Isaac's loft in Future New York when they meet Future Hiro, who got the sketch book from ISaac's courier somehow, and evidently relied on them when he traveled back to tell Peter to "save the cheerleader, save the world."

(Saving the cheerleader was indeed necessary for saving his own life.)

So it turns out that Linderman is leading the Organization after all. (Or is one of several in the highest echelons.) What does he want with Micah? Given the boy's ability, I suspect it has something to do with the "mutant" tracking facility. Which makes sense, since all the "mutants" are being drawn to NYC.

I still want Mr. Muggles to bite Candice the shapeshifter/illusionist/whatever.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

War On Speech, European Style

Eugene Volokh reports a new EU proposal:

1. Each Member State shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the following intentional conduct is punishable: ...

(c) publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in Articles 6, 7 and 8 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite to violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group;

(d) publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising the crimes defined in Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal appended to the London Agreement of 8 August 1945, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin when the conduct is carried out in a manner likely to incite to violence or hatred against such a group or a member of such a group....

1b. For the purpose of paragraph 1, the reference to religion is intended to cover, at least, conduct which is a pretext for directing acts against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

I left my initial reaction in comments:

European antiwar leftists must be aghast at this law, since it means they can't legally draw Bush-Hitler parallels in their protests.

(Link via ITA)

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Today's Required Amir Taheri Column

When the Enemy of Your Enemy is Not Your Friend - he provides many many examples of this principle.

(Link via Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi email)

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Lost - It's A Bird, It's a Plane...

(The usual spoiler warning)

Little happens for much of last Wednesday's episode Catch-22. Nothing really profound is revealed about Desmond's past - we learn that he was once engaged to be married, jilted the bride to become a monk, washed out of monasticism (perhaps there is a yet-to-be-revealed parallel to how he washed out of the military), and how he met Penny. The big item of interest in the flashbacks is the framed photo of the abbot with Mrs. Hawking, the woman who appeared to Desmond in visions after the hatch implosion.

The other big development is the arrival of Naomi the parachutist. Otherwise there isn't a whole lot of action. Kate is jealous of Juliet, turns to Sawyer (who knows that her heart is really with Jack but doesn't seem to be bothered by it), Desmond leads a "camping" trip, they find the sonar beacon cable, Charlie escapes death again.

Naomi is clearly in cahoots with Penelope Widmore - she has a photo of her boss posing with Des, and she novel written in the same language (Portugese) spoken by the Ice Station Zebra guys who reported detection of the electromagnetic anomaly to Penny at the end of last season. What we don't know is how much Naomi (or Penny) know about the island. (I suspect that her father knows a lot, and Penny learned bits and pieces of what's going on withour Dad's knowledge.) The new arrival is supposed to reveal some shocking detail(s) about Oceanic Flight 815 this season.

I'll add another speculation about the Smoke Monster. I suggested last week that since the Monster exhibits telepathic properties and since Juliet knows things she couldn't possibly know through any other means, the Others have control of the Monster (or a part of the Monster "population" if there are more than one of them). Another possibility along this line is that the Others are able to tap into the source of the Monster's telepathy without having any control over the Monster.

I just realized something about Juliet's encounter with Sawyer and Sayid. The Lostpedia article on Sawyer asks this burning question: "If Sawyer killed Duckett three nights before he was put on Flight 815, why did Juliet tell him he killed a man in cold blood the night before his flight?" Did she got the day wrong - or did Sawyer kill someone we don't know about?

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Harry "Tokyo Rose" Reid Calls For Surrender

Michelle Malkin blogs various responses, from various emails, more emails, cartoonist Chip Bok and milblogger COBDanny, and Joe Lieberman.

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Orwell Alert

CCTV cameras are now lecturing citizens on their behaviour


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rank Has Its Privilieges

Eugene Volokh has a proposal.

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Barack Obama Is A Barking Moonbat

Michelle Malkin has the details.



Read last year's posts on Waco and Oklahoma City.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Michael Medved On Mass Transit

Check out his Townhall article here, and dont' skip the comments. In one comment I copied a large portion of a year-old post, The Misery of Mass Transit. I added this, in response to a commenter who took issue with my sentiments:

Read my comment again. I said that depending on mass transit is a miserable experience. It has one advantage - not having to buy a car. The disadvantages are enormous - tripling commute time (I have no chores that can be accomplished during commutes), limited choices as to where to shop, long periods of time standing in inclement weather, being forced to budget time around a transit schedule.

I took the bus because I had to. I couldn't afford a car at the time. Sometimes the resources you have to depend on are unpleasant. Mind-numbing jobs, tiny apartments, exasperating and convoluted bus routes. The American Dream is to get out of poverty and to graduate to better resources.

Now, if the light rail went directly to my place of work, going to the park-and-ride and commuting to work would be sensible. But in a spread-out place like the Dallas-Fort Worth area, only a small percentage of employers are accessible that way. Relying on the bus to get to DFW Airport (when one lives on that route) also makes sense.

I did some checking - if I had to rely on the bus today to my current place of employment - which is only SIX MILES AWAY - I'd still have to get to the bus stop an hour and a half before work.

Steve mentioned HOV lanes in a comment, so I threw this in:

Study: HOV/Carpool Lanes Cause Accidents

"A newly released Texas Transportation Institute study suggests that High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) or carpool lanes that are not separated from regular lanes with a physical barrier experience a 41-56 percent increase in injury accidents. Almost all new freeway lanes are set aside for HOV use only because federal environmental regulations strongly favor their use.

"The main benefit promised by HOV lanes -- faster travel for carpoolers -- is what causes the accidents, according to the study. During peak traffic times, the speed differential between the regular lanes and HOV lanes ranges between 21 and 35 MPH. For example, a slower car trying to merge into the HOV lane may be rear-ended by faster moving HOV traffic that cannot slow down in time. Overall, the general purpose traffic lane closest to the HOV lanes experienced a 153-188 percent increase in injury accidents."

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pirates Of The Caribbean Potomac

 photo JackSparrow.jpg

Ahoy! I'm here to remind you that it's time for your annual tribute, savvy? It is my intention to raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weaselly black guts out. Men, take what you can, give nothin' back. Nice hat.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Fisking Brad DeLong

On March 11 he posted a little video bloggage titled The Five Factions of the Republican Party. I'm not entirely sure how much of this is a joke and how much is serious - surely he must be aware that there are socially and fiscally liberal Republicans who don't fit the profile of any of these factions. But what he says about Republicans reflect common misperceptions about conservatives, and deserves to be addressed.

The first [faction} is those who genuinely fear the foreign enemy, which used to be the Communists, and is now the Muslims.

The Communists that remain still are a foreign enemy - Cuba and North Korea haven't disappeared from the radar. Nominally Communist China has made a slight evolutionary advance from Marxism to fascism, and only time will tell if this leads to future reforms, or if the Chinese government will cease to be a threat to the United States.

As for the bit about would be hard-pressed to find an elected official who regards Muslims in general as "the enemy." The amount of support we have from Iraqis, especially Sunni Muslim Kurds, is enough to undermine that portion of DeLong's claim.

There are conservatives who do see Islam as an ideology, as taught by the Koran and the Hadiths, as an enemy of civilization. Mohammed appears to call for universal jihad against all non-Muslims for all eternity - see this site for a fairly exhaustive list of often-cited suras supporting this claim. I have maintained that if there is any hope for true Islam to coexist peacefully with civilization, it must be demonstrated that Mohammed's commands to war referred to specific conflict(s) and were not standing orders for all future Muslim/infidel relations. Still, most members of this group recognize that most Muslims do not practice jihad and are thus not a civil threat.

The second faction is those who don't especially fear the foreign enemy, but believe that saying they fear the foreign enemy is politically convenient - those who seek to, um, disturb giddy minds with foreign quarrels. And the foreign enemy used to be the Communists, then this faction thought in the late 1990s that it oughta be the Chinese, and now they say it is the Muslims.

Can DeLong provide any concrete examples of politicians who did not believe that the Soviets or the Chinese were threats (despite the fact that both aimed nukes at us, and both stole nuke tech from us) but said so anyway? Or any such two-facedness regarding Muslims?

Third, those who fear the domestic enemy, which used to be Jews and blacks...

Jews and blacks, huh? So who did this alleged faction root for during the Crown Heights Riot?

The claim that antisemitism and racism are inherent to Republicans or conservatives is sheer bigotry. I never fully understood the antisemitism charges; I suppose part of it is the whackball equivocation of criticizing ADL with being anti-Jew, as if ADL defines real Jews (and Dr. Laura and Michael Medved define fake Jews). The charge of Republican racism stems largely from the assumption that the only explanation for opposing leftist prescriptions for benefiting blacks is not a belief that there are better plans for such, but antipathy toward the very notion of helping blacks.

...and is now a bizarre combination of homosexuals...

Read this (starting from the sentence "This points to the two great ironies of Lawrence).

...a ghetto-bound underclass...

They're not the enemy - they're the victims of liberalism. Education policy keeps them undereducated. (You forgot to add educrats to the enemies list, Brad. And unions in general, for that matter.) Out-of-control welfare policy breeds a permanent dependent class. Liberal tax and regulatory makes the cost of living more than it should be.

...Mexicans living here...

Lawbreakers are lawbreakers. That Mexicans are fleeing a nation whose oppressive economic policy makes Canada look like a libertarian paradise doesn't make them less criminal.

I don't know about anyone else, but I tend to use the word "enemy" to refer to threats of a nature greater than that posed by illegal aliens. Some illegal aliens vote in our elections, some gain taxpayer-funded welfare assistance, and all violate immigration laws. All those actions are wrong, but there's even worse stuff out there that doesn't trigger kneejerk use of the word "enemy."

...Hollywood actors...

People who are vocal about their leftism tend to not get ignored by conservatives. Do liberals ignore highly vocal right-wingers?

...and Hungarian liberal financier George Soros. How George Soros attained his current role in the demonology is not something I understand.

He's the wealthiest Democratic donor, and a fairly visible one - what's hard to understand?

Fourth, those who want low taxes because they think the government is inherently a lousy steward with their money, that public purposes and all purposes can be accomplished much more efficiently with a smaller government.

He misses the true crux of fiscal conservatism. DeLong makes the mistake of projecting a leftist assumption on conservatives - that assumption being that the prime focus of tax policy should be government. To conservatives and libertarians, the key issue is individual freedom; the inefficiencies of bloated government is secondary.

Fifth and last, those who want low taxes because they are too rich to value anything the government does other than the function, government's function of protecting their properties.

This is a common stereotype of the corporate rich (excepting George Soros, evidently), and a convenient ad hominem attack for people who don't want to discuss real issues.

DeLong goes on to paint imaginary conflicts between these factions. He claims that a "mighty war arsenal...loses groups 4 and 5" unless it is paid for by drastic cuts to "social insurance programs...thus losing elections" - forgetting the history of the past three decades. Republicans made gains in and eventually won Congress in part by promising to curtail the nanny state, and lost Congress when Bush and Congress expanded it. Scarcely any fiscal conservatives blame the war machine for overtaxation - liberals do.

His other conflict scenario involves "stag[ing] a phony war" involving troop numbers insufficient to pacify Iraq, which runs afoul of Faction 1; apparently he has in mind this faction's desire for a) fighting real threats and b) using enough force to win them. On the "phony war" charge, read Bush's 2002 speech on the Iraqi threat and tell me if you can find anything insincere about his assessment. Faction 1 does have a beef with the way the war is fought, but the issue isn't troop count - it's the amount of deadly force implemented. Many hawks complain that the administration is trying too hard to avoid collateral damage, even when the only noncombatants in the line of fire are corpses.

Update: Tammy Bruce sheds some light on George Soros. She's not a Republican, though.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sixty Years Ago Today

Jackie Robinson made his Major baseball League debut.

Richard Justice at the Houston Chronicle has an article about the anniversary. This passage is noteworthy:

When Branch Rickey summoned him to the big leagues 60 years ago today, he pleaded for patience.

"I know you're a good ballplayer," Rickey told him. "What I don't know is whether you have the guts."

Robinson asked: "Mr. Rickey, are you looking for a Negro who is afraid to fight back?"

Rickey shot back: "I'm looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back."

During games he endured a great deal of mistreatment without protest. Whether he realized it or not, his detractors were doing his work for him; their ugliness offended the go-along-to-get-along sensibilites of many in the "Silent Generation" that led what was the most rapid healing of ethnic strife in the history of civilization.

The time for protest did eventually come:

Only when he was secure as a ballplayer did he use a platform rare to blacks to push for more change. Perhaps the real lesson of Jackie Robinson is about social responsibility. He was determined to leave the world better than he found it.

He attended rallies, fired off angry telegrams and lent his name to causes. There was a 1957 letter to President Eisenhower on the subject of civil rights.

"I read your statement in the papers advising patience," he wrote. "We are wondering to whom you are referring when you say we must be patient. It is easy for those who haven't felt the evils of a prejudicial society to urge it."

And there was a 1961 note to President Kennedy.

"I thank you for what you have done so far," he wrote, "but it is not how much has been done but how much more there is to do."

And a 1965 telegram to President Johnson.

"Important you take immediate action in Alabama. One more day of savage treatment by legalized hatchet men could lead to open warfare by aroused Negroes. America cannot afford this in 1965."

Here is a Robinson quote from Brainyquote:

I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.

Play ball.

Update: Douglas Adams fans may find significance in that Robinson's number was 42.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Lost - Who's Side Is She On?

(Warning: spoilers)

So we learn at the end of this week's episode that Juliet is a plant, sent by Ben to infiltrate the camp for a week. An elaborate ruse makes Claire sick and allows Juliet to save the day to gain their trust. But to what end? What does Ben aim to accomplish?

And whom is Juliet truly loyal to? Has she taken to Stockholm Syndrome, or will she turn on the Others?

Mittelos' motives appear straightforward: there's a mysterious cure for cancer on the island (that works on everyone except for Ben). There's big bucks in cancer cures.

The linked Wikipedia article notes an apparent continuity error, which probably isn't an error:

Even though it is claimed by Juliet in this episode that Claire was the first person to give birth on the island, it is claimed in past episodes that Danielle gave birth to Alex after being stranded on the island, when the other members of her party had died. Ben also tells Locke in The Man from Tallahassee that he was born on the island, which would suggest a successful birth in the past.

Juliet story seems consistent with the flashbacks. Ben may have lied about being born on the island. Juliet may not know Alex's true history. If Alex was born on the island, that would make her extremely valuable to the Mittelos project.

The only alternative is that Danielle Rousseau was less than truthful about her presence on the island - that would be a bombshell. But why? Was she originally an Other, or maybe a refugee from the DHARMA project who fled when the Others deposed DHARMA? The latter might explain why she is so certain that the Smoke Monster is a security system. Could she have made such a definite conclusion simply from sixteen-ish years of observation?

In comments to my post on last week's episode, Walrilla speculated that Smokey is "a swarm of Nano-bots." (Lostpedia has a more extensive article on the Monster.) That theory has already been dismissed by the show's producers. What do we know about it? As mentioned in the previously linked article on Smokey, we know that it makes mechanical noises, usually appears as smoke, and appeared as a light to Locke.

The producers said Smokey appeared on the show in yet some other form ("The May 26 2006 official Lost podcast claimed that viewers have seen the monster after "The 23rd Psalm" without realizing they were looking at it"). Fans are convinced that Smokey is responsible for the various visions on the island - Hurley's imaginary frinds "Dave," Kate's horse, Eko's brother, John's hallucination of Boone, perhaps even Desmond's visions after the destruction of the Swan hatch.

If all the visions are really the Monster, it has different agendas for different people. It spared Eko once and killed him on another occasion. A dream of Ana-Lucia and Yemi told him that Locke had "lost his way," and led him to discover the Question Mark hatch. It spared Locke once and tried to drag him underground on another occasion (but for what purpose we don't know). "Dave" tried to talk Hurley into suicide in order to kill him (or as some sort of test). The hallucinations of Jack's father led Jack to discover the caves and the nearby fresh water. An imaginary Boone tells Locke to "clean up his own mess" and leads him to search for Eko, and thus find the walking stick clue to the Others' Village.

We know one other thing - that it has some sort of telepathic property. (Or that telepaths operate it from some installation.) The first clue is in The 23rd Psalm - it displayed video images of Eko's past, the source of which could come only from Eko's mind. Telepathy also dovetails with the theory that the hallucinations are really the Monster. For instance, only Hurley has ever seen what "Dave" looks like. Telepathy would appear to be necessary for the dream visions.

The Lostpedia article tosses another consideration: that there may be multiple Monsters.

Juliet may have revealed another fact about the Monster: that she lied to Kate about the Others not knowing what it is - that the Others are indeed in control of the Monster (or one of several Monsters, as the case may be). Sawyer didn't tell anyone that he specifically murdered a man before leaving Australia - but Juliet knew. (I bet his spidey senses are tingling.) If the Monster reads minds, it's not a stretch to guess that the Others are able to tap into it. Consider that parapsychology is specifically mentioned in the DHARMA mission statement.

Update: Thinklings has an image from the inside of the sub that brought Juliet to the island three years ago - the guy in the foreground resembles Michael.

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Worse Than Don Imus

At FrontPage Magazine, John Perazzo has a little history lesson on Al Sharpton.

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Where's Chuck Barris And His Gong?

Sully has the French entry in the Eurovision contest.


46 Candles

Today is the anniversary of the first human spaceflight. See Wikipedia articles on Yuri Gagarin and Vostok 1.

Update: It's also the 26th anniversary of the first Space Shuttle flight. Rand Simberg remembers both events.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007


The Malkinator wants to know:

Imus gets a two-week suspension. What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music industry enablers who have helped turn America into Tourette's Nation?

Her post has a sampling of rap videos, image stills, and lyrics.

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Another Thought On The Imus Flap

People are just now discovering that shock jocks are tactless jerks?


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Johnny Hart (1931-2007)

The Comics Curmudgeon has some words, and displays last Easter's "B. C." strip.

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Don Imus Deserved It

Calling them "hos" was enough to warrant his two-week suspension.

Howard Stern responds. He's a pig. But we already knew that.

Michelle Malkin, who gets called "ho" (or worse) in a lot in nasty emails, sums up his joke as "verbal diarrhea." She has links to other reactions - check 'em out.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Lost - Trading Places

In "Left Behind," Locke joins the Others and Juliet joins the Lostaways - who woudl have predicted that at the beginning of this season?

Of course, Locke isn't really joining anybody. That's his problem - he's too much the lone wolf. For the one time during the entire series, he has to be just that. He can't trust the Others (except for Alex), and he's in a position to learn a lot from them, perhaps more than they intend to reveal.

Anyone notice that a lot of con artists appear on this show? Sawyer and Locke's dad are professionals at the trade. Ben is a master manipulator. Juliet can pull a few cons. Kate had to do a lot of conning while on the run. (Locke isn't a con man - he's just plain secretive.) And then there's Hurley, who uses a little trickery to try to civilize Sawyer. Like Locke, Sawyer has resisted making himself part of a team. There's more hope for Sawyer than for Locke.

Hurley is one of the island's underestimated assets. His heart is in improving morale and mutual cooperation. He built the golf course, and he's the only one making headway with the island's biggest malcontent. If I owned a company and could hire one Lostaway, I'd hire him.

Juliet's new change of address may prove to be one of the best things to happen to the Lostaways. She knows a lot of stuff they need to know, and the previews reveal that she will fess up to at least some of them. Honesty is the best way to gain their trust, and she needs them to survive (and perhaps to one day give Ben his come-uppance).

Looking back on the previous episode "Enter 77," most if not all the Others are the island's original settlers, the "hostles" referenced by Bakunin and the Marvin Candle video (and by Kelvin Inman in "Live Together, Die Alone.) We know from the papers Sayid found that the village was originally part of DHARMA. We can surmise that if the Others don't know what the Smoke Monster is, and if DHARMA built something as unusual as a sonic fence - which just so happens to keep Smokey away from its only above-ground facility - then DHARMA built the Monster (after building the fence). The only alternative is that the Monster precedes both groups, which seems too weird even for this show.

My first question: where and what is the original settlement of the Others? Maybe Juliet will answer that question next week. Maybe we'll learn a bit more about Mittelos Bioscience, the Others' outside-world affiliates.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Weird News Story

Dallas Love Field gets some interesting visitors. Major portions of the article are excerpted.

Dallas police and federal terrorism officials are investigating two women, both dressed in camouflage pants under their traditional Muslim robes and scarves, who were seen conducting what appeared to be surveillance and acting suspiciously at Dallas Love Field

Wearing camo under their Muslim garb?

One of the women, Kimberly "Asma" Al-Homsi, 42, of Arlington, who is on probation for a 2005 Garland road rage incident involving a fake grenade, is said to have long-range assault rifle and explosives training, according to a Dallas police intelligence bulletin issued March 5.

This chick is bad news.

"I'm a trained sniper and proud of it," Ms. Al-Homsi said in an interview Thursday after first refusing to comment on whether she has any terrorism ties. She then said no.

Trained sniper. Trained by whom?

On the afternoon of Feb. 25, Ms. Al-Homsi and a friend who could not be reached for comment, Aisha Abdul-Rahman Hamad, 50, of Irving, were spotted at Love Field wearing Muslim robes and camouflage pants and "acting suspiciously," the bulletin states. The surveillance video shows one of the women walking back and forth, apparently pacing off distances.

When confronted, the women told officials they were looking for the Frontiers of Flight museum.

People who look for a given location don't pace back and forth. They wander around.

They left in a red Honda. Descriptions of the incident and the car were circulated at the airport.

Two days later, the museum executive director was leaving for the evening when he noticed the Honda parked facing the runway. A woman, later identified as Ms. Al-Homsi, was sitting on the hood, looking through binoculars at the airplanes. He told the women the museum was closing, and they left.

Dallas officers stopped the car nearby, but the women refused to let police search their car, , according to a police report. The women had digital camera memory cards, binoculars, a flashlight and several lighters on them.

Police issued one of them a citation for having no front license plate and failing to change her address on a driver's license. They were released.

"We were watching the airplanes," Ms. Al-Homsi said. "That's not a crime, unless you're Muslim."

I have a question: why bother to go on airport property to watch the planes? Refer to this Google map of Love Field. Bachman Lake Park borders the airport at its northwest. If I wanted to watch planes, I think it would be more comfy to bring a lawn chair to the park and sit right across from the end of one of the two main runways. (I'd also prefer Northwest Highway traffic over Mockingbord Lane traffic.) [Update: This is not an endorsement for such planewatching activity.]

Note that the museum is almost right on the flight path of one of the runways.

This looks a lot like the (non)flying imams incident, an apparent PR stunt designed to freak out people and give CAIR types an excuse to whine about anti-Islamic bigotry.

Update: Let me bring your attention back to an earlier portion of the article (emphasis added):

Kimberly "Asma" said to have long-range assault rifle and explosives training, according to a Dallas police intelligence bulletin issued March 5.

Where did she get the training? These skills, especially the latter, are military skills - they are not typically taught by private entities (that we want in our back yard).

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Henderson Prize Announcement

The next prize will be awarded May 1.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Shoulder-Fired Missile Launch

Be patient...the missile does actually launch - eventually.

(Link from LGF commenter rickl)


It's A Quagmire - Let's Pull Out...

of bilingual education.


Car For Sale

Specifically, KITT from Knight Rider.

(Link via Sully)

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The Troop Surge Is Working

Ace of Spaces has video.

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Pelosi Misrepresents Israeli Message

Hot Air reports.

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I will be more impressed with fossil-fuel-free automobiles when we have more fossil-fuel-free power plants. But nuclear is the only emissions-free option that can provide power at a large scale, and most enviros react to that like vampires to garlic.

(Link via Glenn)


Syrian Reformers Displeased With Nancy Pelosi

LGF has the story.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Evasive Action, Mister Sulu!

It's the Doomsday Machine!

(Via InstaPundit)

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The Dr. McCoy Freakout Scale

Go to Lileks, scroll down.

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One Of Scooter Libby's Jurors Wants Him Pardoned

And Jack Kemp agrees.

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Monday, April 02, 2007

Why Do Idiots Like This Believe That We Can Reason With Terror-Sponsoring Dictatorships?

Nancy Pelosi is an idiot:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday shrugged off White House criticism of her upcoming trip to Damascus, saying she had "great hope" for reviving U.S. relations with Syria and changing its behavior.

Soem people are yelling "hypocrisy" because of this:

"It's interesting because three of our colleagues, who are all Republicans, were in Syria yesterday and I didn't hear the White House speaking out about that," Pelosi said, referring to the Sunday meeting of Reps. Frank Wolf, Joe Pitts and Robert Aderholt with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus.

"I think that it was an excellent idea for them to go," said Pelosi, who is to meet Syrian leaders Wednesday. "And I think it's an excellent idea for us to go, as well."

Michael Ledeen is complaining:

Just in case anyone thought that the appeasement virus was limited to the Dems, a reader has called my attention to a Republican sortie to Damascus...

This doesn't sound like the kind of granola-eating appeasement monkey talk we'd expect from Pelosi, though:

They say their talks focused on ending Syrian support for Hamas and Hezbollah and recognizing Israel's right to exist.

They also urged Syria to stop the flow of militants across its border into Iraq.

There are two issues to consider. One, as I just referenced, is the tone of the talks. We need to confront Assad and not suck up to him; the Republican delegation seems to be on the ball regarding this issue. Second - the question nobody seems to be asking - did either delegation cordinate their trip with the Bush administration, as any Congressional diplomatic venture should? It's obvious that Pelosi didn't, but the news stories I'm finding aren't reporting administration reactions to the Republican congressmen's trip.

Update: Does tough talk with tyrants accomplish anything? Yes, in two ways. Such diplomacy can make the tyrant budge it is backed with sufficiently strong threats. Our government is too wussified to get that tough with Syria - I don't think Assad will be moved by anything short of military threat - so the only other hope is that such trips energize that nation's dissidents, as Reagan's confrontations with the Soviets did.

Update: Bush's April 3 press conference tells me that he isn't too keen on any diplomatic ventures into Syria:

"There have been a lot of people who have gone to see President Assad: some Americans, but a lot of European leaders, high-ranking officials. And yet we haven't seen action," Bush told reporters at a Rose Garden news conference. "He hasn't responded."

Bush said that Assad had not reined in violent elements of militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah as requested by the international community, had acted to destabilize the democratically elected government of Lebanon and was allowing "foreign fighters" to move into Iraq from Syria.

"Sending delegations hasn't worked. It's just simply been counterproductive," Bush said.

Another bit of food for thought: maybe there hadn't been a lot of rightosphere chatter about the Republican delegation because most of us never heard of those guys, and didn't know about their mission into that Mideast heart of darkness until it was mentioned in the news stories about Pelosi.

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Controversial - Or Just Plain Dumb?

Sculpture of Obama As Jesus Causes Stir

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