31 July 2011

Despair from Pakistan

A columnist whose work I admire and respect, Ardeshir Cowasjee, writes of the despair of the educated middle class youth of his country Pakistan. Many are desperate to leave the country.
Cowasjee seems to share their despair:
They point out that there is no governance because those who have been put where they are with an aim to govern have neither the will nor the intent, that their prime motivation is the lining of their pockets and the fleeting joys that accompany power. They have read and heard why and how, from president downwards, the main powerbrokers carry on their broad shoulders heavy baggage from yesteryear.
They know how a once viable country has been overtaken by religious extremism which, combined with the spirit of jihad as encouraged by the military that claims to be the ideological guardian of the nation, has spread a poison that has seeped into the national mindset. They realise the inherent dangers of the false pride that boasts of the possession of nuclear assets without giving one minuscule thought to the implications of such possession.

Cowasjee is not giving up. But I wonder how possible he thinks his solution is? Read the whole thing, if only to see English used in a totally un-English environment.

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One more conservative ...

... who has begun to notice that the old GOP of Reagan and the Bushes no longer exists.

Kathleen Parker.

She's finally figured out, like poor ol' David Brooks, that the kooks are in charge.
The tick-tock of the debt-ceiling debate is too long for this space, but the bottom line is that the Tea Party got too full of itself with help from certain characters whose names you’ll want to remember when things go south. They include, among others, media personalities who need no further recognition; a handful of media-created “leaders,” including Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips and Tea Party Patriots co-founders Jenny Beth Martin and Mark Meckler (both Phillips and Martin declared bankruptcy, yet they’re advising Tea Party Republicans on debt?); a handful of outside groups that love to hurl ad hominems such as “elite” and “inside the Beltway” when talking about people like Boehner when they are, in fact, the elite (FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Club for Growth, National Taxpayers Union, Americans for Prosperity); and elected leaders such as Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, head of the Republican Study Committee, and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who grandstand and make political assertions and promises that are sheer fantasy.

Od course, if you are of the Tea Party ilk, there is no need to take this seriously. Just jam your fingers in your ears and chant "Lame Stream Media!" "Elites!" "Elites!"

Now I must get back to work because my school administration has imbibed too much of the zeitgeist.

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27 July 2011

Private education companies

This is not the argument that I will, eventually (probably when I really need to procrastinate), make in a post. But it is a bit of empirical evidence. It involves a $1.6 million settlement with students by Kaplan, Inc. a for-profit educational company, a subsidiary of The Washington Post.

Here is the conclusion of an article on what is merely the latest law suit against the company.
As a result of the settlement Kaplan will pay about $500,000 to 43 students who took out loans to attend the school but who could never graduate (or get good jobs to pay off their loans) because the school wasn’t able to offer the clinic training students needed to graduate or obtain licenses.

And the degree only costs $16,000.

I especially like the part about 'could never graduate.'


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24 July 2011

John Carter of Mars and ERB

ERB, of course, being Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan.

Many years ago, when I was a teenager starting high school in McLean, Virginia, my cousin Buck introduced me to ERB's science fiction. I started with the John Carter of Mars series and devoured them. Ace paperbacks was reprinting all of ERB's fiction back then and their artists for the covers were Roy Krenkle and Frank Frazetta, both of whom I idolized.

Back then.

But now Walt Disney is making an epic movie of John Carter! It even looks like it might be good, at least from looking at the trailer. Stranger things have happened.

I think it was either Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke who once wrote that Burroughs was one of the very few authors who could successfully evoke the feeling of an alien world.

unfortunately he continued that you had to be younger than 18 to find them readable!

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20 July 2011

Without comment

[from Andrew Sullivan]

17 July 2011

The news as Sci-Fi

I have always enjoyed Science Fiction stories because it is like reading historical fiction where all the facts are made up.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to attempt that since all prediction is essentially an exercise in science fiction, or counter-history fiction. I have dipped into The Next Decade by George Friedman where he attempts to do that for the next 10 years. I may not go any further into it, but the attempt at least looks interesting.

And then there is this wonderful bit of prediction as 'history' in today's Washington Post by Jeff Greenfield entitled "What Happens to American Politics if We Default? Hello, Third Party." I think he may be right, if not immediately than in the long run.

If Sentenciae has a theme, it is that all American elites have disgraced themselves in the first decade of the 21rst century. The nutters in the Tea Party have gotten that part right and they are the first clear reaction to it. I think that essentially we are experiencing the birth pangs of a new civilization which is never easy. Western civilization is trying to give birth to a new syncretic civilization the same way Hellenic civilization gave birth to Hellenistic civilization.

We live in interesting times.

Westernistic? Occidentalistic?

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16 July 2011

First, grace.

from Andrew Sullivan

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11 July 2011

Yep. Looks like aliens did this

At least... he looks like an alien. Something, uh, otherworldly, even magical about him.

and look at the unhuman precision of those lines!


10 July 2011

Corgi being bad

Actually, I'm not sure that springing a friend from stir really is "bad" per se....

... you can decide.

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08 July 2011

Self Portrait

This black crested macaque grabbed someone's camera and took this self-portrait. He looks remarkably pleased with himself: reminds me of several TV personalities we all know.

Tales from Andrew Sullivan. Also check here for another self-portrait by the same macaque.

apparently the macaque, as photographer, owns the copyright. So sue me.

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They're different from you and me....

.... they drink better wine.

UPDATE: I really hate to do this, but apparently Ryan didn't know what his rich, well heeled friends were ordering. He only had one glass and being very careful insisted on paying for one bottle of the stuff.

So there. See how honest I am. (but the general point still stands).

at $350 a bottle.


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05 July 2011

David Brooks wakes up and ....

... discovers there is GAMBLING going on in this establishment!

And has the nerve to write about it. Here.

A bit of his observations from the den of inequity:
the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.
. . .
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it.

The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency.
. . .
The struggles of the next few weeks are about what sort of party the G.O.P. is — a normal conservative party or an odd protest movement that has separated itself from normal governance, the normal rules of evidence and the ancient habits of our nation.

Well, better late than never.

like him, I am shocked, shocked!


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Words from long ago

Sometime in the first decades of the fifth century the Bishop of Hippo, a town in North Africa, wrote the following:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something, about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world ... and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics . . . If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason.

Somewhere else he wrote:
"Whoever, therefore, thinks that he understands the divine Scriptures or any part of them so that it does not build the double love of God and of our neighbor does not understand it at all.

This particular bishop became a saint, and if that weren't enough, his mother was a saint too. (He apparently didn't care too much for his dad).

he wrote a bunch of other stuff. I should read some of it sometime.


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03 July 2011

Cats can do anything

Here's one who's a gambler and figures out the best why to deal with the bozo who is trying to confuse him.

And here is one who talks like Bela Lugosi giving a puppy a massage. The puppy is not entirely comfortable.

I love how gambling kitty thinks about it all.


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