27 November 2010

Conservative Salt of the Earth

As I admitted a few posts ago, I am often confused, but never more so than the strange notion many Americans had that George W Bush was just a regular guy, one of 'us.' He was the millionaire son of a millionaire's son, whatever else you want to say about him.

I feel the same way about the elite bashing the Right is indulging in. Who exactly are they talking about? Apparently, not the folks like Jay Nordlinger over on NRO's 'The Corner' who takes cruises to Cozumel like all the regular folks.
In my cruise journal, I have some notes on Cozumel (Mexico), one of our stops — one of the stops on NR’s recently concluded “post-election” cruise. I say that the island has countless old VW Bugs, painted in various, imaginative ways. I was reminded of high-school homecoming. A reader writes, “One year, we found the neatest Christmas decoration in Cozumel — a VW Beetle convertible with Joseph driving, Mary beside him with Baby Jesus in her lap, and the three Wise Men in the back seat!”

For what it's worth, when I visited Mexico it was to spend two months in a mountain village between Toluca and Mexico City.

fun times.

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Without Comment

News Flash!!

This just in from Clemens News Central.

Hamburger meat does not rot.

so those eternal Mcburgers are nothing new.


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26 November 2010

I'm still puzzled

Well, by a lot of things, but especially this (at least this morning). Why is it that the Pope's ruling on condoms is being brayed about the universe and parsed within an inch of its life, while his much more significant position on healthcare is virtually ignored?

it's almost as if ... as if... the media and the bloggers were not serious or something.


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Why you should shop locally

At least, if you have any interest in the economic health of your friends and neighbors.

... but sometimes it is impossible.


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22 November 2010


"Experts hired by USA Today to analyze a 2006 Congressional report that questioned global warming data say the report appears to have been plagiarized heavily from textbooks and Wikipedia."

I'd flunk them.

read the details.

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20 November 2010

Opinions on health care

Glenn Beck's take:
"We have a right to health care, really? God doesn't give health care. Man provides health care. So how can it be a right. If you are endowed by your Creator with certain unalienable rights, how can a God-given right be health care, unless Jesus comes down and starts to open up a clinic and heal us himself? There cannot be a right to health care, because the rights come to God."

And Pope Benedict's:

Access to adequate medical attention, the pope said in a written message Nov. 18, was one of the "inalienable rights" of man. [...]

The pope lamented the great inequalities in health care around the globe.... Because an individual's health is a "precious asset" to society as well as to himself, governments and other agencies should seek to protect it by "dedicating the equipment, resources and energy so that the greatest number of people can have access."

Don't know the effects of this last opinion.

though I hear some hold his opinion about God to be more authoritative than Beck's.

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18 November 2010

The New South

Parts of it look very much like the old South I grew up in. And it is always amusing to watch various pundits who didn't grow up in the South, or outside of a big city, or in some few cases, even in America (e.g. Frum and Sullivan) try to make sense of it.

Here comes a little quote from a New Southerner now:
And in Arkansas, a new Republican state lawmaker and champion of the Confederate Battle Flag, was asked this week what that flag means to him. "It's a symbol of Jesus Christ above all else," Loy Mauch said. "It's a symbol of Biblical government."

What flag would Jesus fly?

somehow I can't believe it would be of a slave owning, racist, oligarchy, but I could be wrong.

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An economic factlet

Just in case the last election in general didn't make you depressed enough, one way or another, consider this little factlet from Frum Forum:

The personal wealth of members of Congress collectively increased 16 percent between 2008 and 2009, even as the broader economic downturn eliminated thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans, according to a study by the Center for Responsive Politics released Wednesday.

In the House, the study found, median wealth grew to $765,010, up from $645,503 in 2008. In the Senate, median wealth grew from $2.27 million in 2008 to $2.38 million in 2009.

Well. It's hard work. Or something.

And what was your personal wealth doing over the last two years?


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16 November 2010

Russian, et al.

I like to collect facts and assessments about languages. So far my favorite, because well observed, I overheard from a young American woman talking to her girlfriends on a bus in Portugal.
Portuguese sounds like a bunch of Russians trying to speak French.

Which is both funny and true.

In fact a Portuguese grad student I met last week in Boston told me that it is a very odd thing but speakers of Slavic languages, especially Russians, are known in Portugal for picking up excellent Portuguese with astonishing speed.

So reading on AOL about learning foreign languages I found this bon mot about Russian that I had never heard before.
Russian: ... As they say, French is the language of love, German is the language of war, and Russian is both. Once you have mastered it, you’ll appreciate its poetic quality.

Which instantly reminded me of the scene in "A Fish Named Wanda" where John Cleese seduces Jamie Lee Curtis by the mere sound of Russian!

Oddly, it never worked for me. Though Carmen's Spanish certainly worked on me.

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14 November 2010

Computer progress

The first Apple computer. For sale: $166,000

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13 November 2010

Full Bore

Ever wonder what a bore is? You know one when you hear one, but how do you define one? Roger Ebert provides a succinct definition in this quote he uses in an essay on 'All the Lonely People' (i.e. internet junkies):
But there are times when the net reminds me of the definition of a bore by Meyer the hairy economist, best friend of Travis McGee: "You know what a bore is, Travis. Someone who deprives you of solitude without providing you with companionship."

It's something of an occupational hazard around my workplace.

I'd write more, but I am off to bore someone.

12 November 2010

Old words that need a good home

Now that the late political barrage of garbage being hurled left and right is over, you probably feel that you had the scaevity to hear way too much tortiloquy from one too many political foppotees.

Well, take a break if you love the English language and go to this site, 'Save the Words.'

The Oxford English Dictionary is attempting to save thousands of words from going out of use. You can go to the site and adopt a poor lost word. Carmen found it and thought it was hilarious. We are giving great thought to our first adoption.

As an inveterate inveterist how can one resist?

yes - those are all real words. Look them up. Or is that too much boreism?

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The value of Mathematics (and mathematicians)

I knew there had to be a good reason why God created math (beyond calculating my age and my taxes).

The Carnival cruise line had a serious fire on board one of their cruise ships that left the ship aimlessly floating with no power. Hence, no warm food, no showers, no lights, etc. The folks on the ship had to stay on it for about three days with the navy helicoptering in emergency rations such as spam. To compensate the passengers for their "cruise from hell," as some malcontents are calling it, Carnival has offered them free passage on any cruise of their choice. Some are a bit leery of talking the cruise line up on the offer.

But one guy explains, with impeccable logic,
"I'm a math person. What are the chances this would happen twice to the same person? I'm going with the odds. We're from Vegas. We're coming back."

Since I like logic, and can at least remember what it is like, I think this is a good use of math.

of course, this theory is tested by the fact that John Derbyshire is a mathematician. Nor does it take account of the fact, as math people assure me, that his chances of getting stranded a second time are exactly the same as getting stranded the first time.


10 November 2010

How to get input, academic style.

A couple of years ago our administration here at AppState, as it likes to be called, rammed a new general ed reform down our throats after some very careful consultation with us. No, that's actually the term they used.

I read this little article today about the National Park Service consulting the public after their plans for the security of the Washington Monument with a distinct feeling of deja-vu all over again.

Read 'em an weep, if you are a fellow faculty member.

for some strange reason the administrator who inflicted this reform on us immediately left for a better paying job somewhere else. Before the foo-foo hit the rotary device.

I shouldn't complain: the admin has done much worse than this. Recently.

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02 November 2010

The rich get richer

Not exactly a news flash, but it is what I think is one of the main reasons the Roman Empire fell (especially the Byzantine part starting in the late 13th century).

Anyway, here is our version of it, at least according to Bob Herbert in the New York Times.

Of course, we can dismiss it as liberal class warfare.

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Walking the Walk on austerity

I am not convinced that there is anything such thing as a 'Tea Party' or 'Tea Partiers' - though the Washington Post did try to find them. A shame I don't have the url for that one. Most of the heavy money, at least among the pundacracy, is that the Repubs have no intention of balancing the budget nor of cutting the deficit once they are in control. Fiscal austerity? Bah. Deficits? They don't matter (I think Dick Cheney actually said that once).

So what are the fiscal hawks going to do?

Well, take heart - it CAN be done. Just look here at this little township that has really done it. Partly by cutting the police dept in half. On the national scale that would probably be the equivalent of cutting our defense budget by half.

Think they have the stomach for it?

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01 November 2010


A Korean man over 75 is more likely to be working than a Frenchman in his early 60s. [NYT via Sullivan]

But you knew that already, didn't you.

it's a factlet, not a factoid.

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