Saturday, January 19, 2008

Harper's Magazine, February 2008, An Annotation Free Environment

About a month ago, I posted something about the advertisements in Harper's magazine. I called it "Saving The Earth By Selling Cars". I had noticed that the majority of the full page ads had a Green theme, and stated that "If Harper's readers want to support the environment and Toyota at the same time, there's only one way they can do so: Buy a Toyota, park it someplace, and throw away the keys." Lower emissions be damned.

My point was that the ads were centered around the theme of Liberal Guilt. Guilt over emissions. Guilt over consumption. Guilt for even existing in a space that could otherwise be occupied by The Mississippi Delta Doodoo Dingo, or other unlikely critters.

I thought it was freakin' brilliant.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of praising a few things in that issue of Harper's. I've always enjoyed the "Annotations" section of the magazine, in which they take a press release, a campaign brochure, a map, or anything other printed media, and explain every aspect of it. This is usually done with a critial eye. When I visit Border's or B&N, I always read the Annotation section of Harpers even when I'm not going to buy the magazine.
Well, I screwed up when I linked to the Meredith Broussard annotation of a peanut allergies pamphlet, where Broussard takes aim at what can only be called an allergy hysteria, and declares that most of it is baloney.

Every word that I wrote about Saving The Earth By Selling Cars was ignored. People were Googling "Peanut Allergy", "Food Allergy", "Harper's", "Meredith Broussard", and "Peanut Allergy Denial" (as in Holocaust Denial, fer heaven's sake....) and arriving here. At least a couple of hundred of them, which by humble Whited Sepulchre standards is like filling a Mexico City Soccer Stadium.
Only two visitors left comments. They were not happy that I was praising Ms. Broussard or anything else about Harpers. (For those with a morbid curiosity, you can read "Reason" magazine's explanation of why we didn't have this panic 30 years ago. Follow the money.)

If someone merely linking to Meredith Broussard gets hit with a Blogalanche, what must the Harper's mailbox look like? I made a mental note to check the letters section, and to see what they would Annotate in the next issue. Would the Annotators prevail, and continue throwing stink bombs into another Temple of Panic? Or would they wimp out and attack George Bush or some other "safe" Republican target?

It was with joyful anticipation that I picked up the February 2008 issue of Harper's.

There is no Annotations section in the February 2008 issue of Harper's.

Coincidence? I think not.

Oh well. I'll annotate this month's ads in a later post.

P.S. - In the words of comedian Chris Rock, "We got so much food in America, we're allergic to food. Allergic to food! Hungry people ain't allergic to s**t. You think anyone in Rwanda's got a f***in' lactose intolerance?!"

Another P.S. - Mama, I apologize for including the Chris Rock profanity. But he's very funny, and Daddy would've loved him.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Shameless Whoring For Links

I've long held the opinion that Samizdata is the best political blog on this or any other planet.
I wrote some Outhouse Poetry about them a few days ago, intending to post it this weekend, along with a title like "Shameless Whoring for Links". I listed and linked all the Samizdata-like things I'd blogged about and pounded some rhymes onto the ends of each line - essentially asking them to add me to their blogroll.

It was certain to get Samizdata's attention. They were sure to link me.

Wouldn't you know it, some time this morning Perry De Havilland, part of the Samizdata brain trust (and Free Market demigod), linked to one of my rants about the Locally Grown movement.
A great work of poetry had been rendered unnecessary. I mean, what are the odds against me writing an epic and then having someone on the other side of the world ruin the ending? It's like God answering a prayer before it can be prayed.

It was cruel in a way. I had even emailed Perry to ask how to pronounce Samizdata. (It's Sam Iz Dah Tah, BTW....)

For the benefit of future scholars of the Poetic Arts, here's what I had written. Only the last line is changed to reflect current events.

When I began this little blog
To dissipate the Statist fog,
And fight against Bill Clinton’s bride,
My other goal was to provide
A Libertarian Intifada,
So I could be on Samizdata.

I said Thomas Sowell’s great!!
And criticized the Nanny State !!
I said Hayek’s pretty cool !!
And called Lou Dobbs a freakin’ fool !!
Yet all’s in vain because there’s not a
Single link from Samizdata.

I’m on Carnivals Galore,
Plus Satan’s Ho and Soobdujore.
Texas papers let me shine,
And so did Baptist friends of mine.
But there’s just one Big Enchilada,
That Limey blogroll - Samizdata.

I quoted Popper and Von Mises,
Laughed at those who think they’re Jesus,
I quoted Friedman (who’s now dead),
Plus, “Atlas Shrugged” and “Fountainhead”.
I get hits, but links? No, Nada.
Still no links from Samizdata..

But now I lay me down for sleeping,
And pray the Lord my soul is keeping,
‘Cause if I die before I’m waking
The Lord can have my soul for taking
To Heaven, Hell, or other strata,
My Blog is now on Samizdata !

It's obvious that I'm from the same state that produced William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Richard Wright, and Tennessee Williams, isn't it?
But yes, they finally linked me. I'm not on the Blogroll yet, but what they did is great. I'm getting hits from all over Europe.
Hit the last verse of my doggerel, and I'm the "Good Of The Planet" link on the post about Third World Farmers.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

NOT Locally Grown. Not Even Close

Joel Stein has a hilarious piece in this week's Time magazine.
He takes the "locally grown" fad to the opposite extreme.....
To prove how wrong the farm-to-table movement is, I cooked a dinner purely of farm-to-airplane food. Nothing I made was grown within 3,000 miles of where I live in Los Angeles. And to completely give the finger to the locavores, I bought the entire meal in the local-food movement's most treasured supermarket, the one that has huge locally grown signs next to the fruits and vegetables: Whole Foods.
Here's more from Mr. Stein, stating that the locally grown movement is about self-denial.
I suffer, therefore, I am superior:

My distavore meal was more a smorgasbord than a smart fusion of cultures, but I still ate the way only a very rich person could have dined just 15 years ago. The local-food movement is deeply Luddite, part of the green lobby that measures improvement by self-denial more than by actual impact—considering shipping food in containers is often more energy-efficient than a local farmer trucking small amounts that are then purchased on a separate weekend farmers'-market trip you take in your SUV. So I'm going to keep buying food from my foreign neighbors. Because it's the only way we Americans learn about other countries, other than by bombing them.

We've already seen an era when everything was locally grown, according to Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek.
It was called "The Dark Ages".
There are plenty of good reasons to buy locally grown food.
Conservation isn't one of them.

Signage from EcoSherpa

Also, Perry De Havilland of Samizdata linked to this post some time last night. It's a piece called "Dear Third World Farmer", which looks at the unexamined impact of buying locally.

If you don't really understand what's wrong with Farm Subsidies, click here for a rundown of what's wrong with the current farm bill.

And speaking of another group of Farmers that need help, check out another post of mine on the same topic: "The Farmers of Manhattan Need Your Money".

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Muslims Against Sharia

Check these folks out: Muslims Against Sharia

They've been commenting on my site for a while. They've re-translated The Koran, and arrived at a much less violent, much less divisive volume. They're taking the "Religion of Peace" thing very seriously over there.
Incidentally, my site is becoming an ecumenical hotbed of those with seemingly contradictory Blog names - see earlier links and commentary from The Progressive Baptist and the Bacon Eating Atheist Jew.
If Muslims can be against Sharia, and Baptists can be Progressive, and Jews can eat bacon, then I look forward to hearing from:
1) The Total Immersion Methodist
2) The Free Will Presbyterian
3) The Caffeinated Mormon
4) The Fundamentalist Unitarian
5) And last, The Episcopalian on Welfare
addition from the morning of January 17th....
6) I hope I get comments from The Flamboyant Quaker
7) The Gnostic Agnostic
8) The Anxious Buddhist
9) The Obscure Scientologist Who Has Never Been In A Movie

Hillary, Fear Of A Black Planet, Yellow Dog Democrats

Former Clinton advisor Dick Morris has some interesting observations about how The Clintons will play the race card.
(The only way I'll have a dog in that fight is if Huckabee gets the nomination or Ron Paul dies, but anyway....)
The essence of Morris's argument is that Obama will take something like 80% of the African-American vote. Why that number isn't higher is God's own mystery.
So The Clintons have more to gain by writing off the Black vote altogether, and prey on the Fear Of A Black Planet sentiments of aging Yellow Dog Democrats in the deep south and elsewhere. (That's my prediction of who they'll aim for, not Morris's.)
All of this will be done by surrogates, of course.

If you believe that The Clintons could never do something like this, please use the comment field below.

BTW, The Clintons ran unopposed in Michigan last night and a large number of people showed up for the sole purpose of voting "uncommitted". Exit polling has revealed that a large number of those were minority votes. Here's the always excellent Jay Cost, from the Horserace blog:

As for the Democratic side - the big story is Hillary Clinton losing the African American vote to "uncommitted." The exit poll pegged African Americans going against Clinton, 68% to 30%. It appears that opposition by African Americans induced a split in Wayne County (where Detroit is), 50% to Hillary, 45% to uncommitted. People in the media are going to connect these results to the racial kerfuffle of the last few days - and they are partially right to do so. But I think there is more to it than this. Since his Iowa victory, Obama's numbers among African American voters have been trending upward. Tonight's results are another indication that African Americans are breaking his way. The Clinton campaign should be worried about this. It appears as if Obama might be able to take an important part of the traditional Democratic coalition. He is thus moving beyond the relatively narrow appeal of previous "insurgent" Democratic candidates like Bill Bradley and Gary Hart. This is bad news for Clinton.

Barack Obama, barring some massive ethical lapse, is going to be President of The United States one day. Maybe not this time, running against someone who thinks HE was the First Black President, or Monica Lewinsky's boyfriend's wife, but it's going to happen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Boys With Guns - Dr. Leonard Sax

The January 12th issue of MacLean's has an interview with Dr. Leonard Sax, author of a new book called Boys Adrift.
In addition to advocating separate schools for boys and girls, starting boys a year later in kindergarten, and other hot sports opinions, Dr. Sax lays out this gem:

MacLean's: A lot of schools ban any kind of pretend gun play, sword fighting and so on. Is this bad for boys?

Sax: Policies which ban children from playing with pretend swords or toy guns are not grounded in any research findings demonstrating that those policies accomplish anything good. Prohibiting children from playing with toy swords or guns does not decrease the likelihood of any bad outcome, indeed it accomplishes no useful end. The school could have taken the opportunity to build imaginative play around concepts like teamwork and heroism. Instead, schools too often simply endorse traditional girls' activities while condemning traditional boys' activities.

When asked about "zero tolerance" policies, he goes on: "Zero-tolerance policies essentially say the entire school is out of bounds for anything that smells of boys. The result, too often, is boys who find a vent for those impulses by spending hours sitting in front of their video game consoles, banging away on the game controller."

Or Blogging

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ezra Levant, Hero

Free Speech advocate Ezra Levant is a Canadian publisher, blogger, and free speech advocate. (I've been in Canada for about a week, and there's plenty to write about up there. This should be out of my system soon....)

Mr. Levant has been hauled before The Thought Police The Alberta Human Rights Commission because he dared to re-publish the controversial Danish cartoons of Mohammed.

This address to his Kangaroo Court is the most devastating speech I've ever read. I can't imagine what the politically correct Guardians of Sensitivity must have felt like when this was over. Click here for a link to Ezra Levant's site, and the full text of his address.

Click here for the Samizdata post on Ezra Levant. I can't remember, or find where I read about this first, but Samizdata was all over it.
And here's Barbara Amiel, of Maclean's, recounting her experience with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. (This was in my bedtime reading, where I was plowing through the remainder of everything I purchased to read on the plane home from Canada. Learning about these Canadian Human Rights Commissions has been almost like learning a new word. Everytime I read something now, there they are....) She writes "Whether stupid or prejudiced, true of false, suppressing opinion is always bad. Seven of my columns are used as examples of Islamophobia in the report. I want to sue the authors myself for defamation, but my view of their view would not be actionable. One would think most Canadians intelligent enough to grasp that freedom doesn't mean you are only free to express nice thoughts. Freedom is not a maple-syrup nut cake to be sliced up: you cannot have some freedom of speech, or freedom of speech only for those people you like. By definition, freedom is indivisible."

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jerry Jones and Hillary Clinton

Jerry Jones knows what it's like to win a Super Bowl. He knows what it's like to win three of them. He loves it.

But dang it, people gave coach Jimmy Johnson all the credit. Johnson knew who to draft, because he knew the players. He'd coached against them in Miami.

Early on, Jones wanted to walk the sidelines in a ball cap, carrying a clipboard with a whistle around his neck. (He'd played some college ball, you know....) But he never got true General Manager respect.
This led to a parting of the ways with Jimmy Johnson. He'd already dumped the now-sainted Tom Landry. Then, after Johnson, Jones got rid of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, and Dave Campo. Bill Parcells resigned, and now Wade Phillips is on the hot seat.

Jerry's building a new stadium that will be the 8th wonder of the world (within sight of my house, BTW.) He's kept the team in the public eye by a combination of great publicity and signing controversial free agents. He's obviously a brilliant man, but The Gods aren't going to let him win a playoff game. (It's been 12 years now.) Why? Because he wants it too much.

You can get the impression that Jerry would crawl through fire and water to be taken seriously as a Football Person, instead of a money and numbers person. That's why The Gods interfere and cause Tony Romo to fumble field goal snaps (last year), or let the lesser of two Mannings have a great game (tonight).

Hillary Clinton knows what it's like to win a Presidential Election. She knows what it's like to win two of them. She loves it.

But dang it, people gave her husband Bill all the credit. Bill knows how to connect with people. Bill can shake your hand and make you remember it the rest of your life. It's something about focus and eye contact.

Early on, Hillary tried to tackle health care. She failed. She saw conspiracies in strange places. Things didn't work out well for any of her political initiatives. She got no respect, despite being the one who kept Bill anchored to our planet. People didn't really see the Clinton Presidency as a partnership.

So Hillary was given a "safe" senate seat in New York, as opposed to running in Arkansas (her previous residence) or Illinois (her home state). In the short time that she's served, she's done an okay job. Reached out across the aisle, etc etc etc. She's kept herself in the public eye by speaking out on every imaginable topic.

And now she's running for President. She's obviously a brilliant woman, but The Gods aren't going to let her win. Why? Because she wants it too much. People think that if she doesn't win this prize, she'll go stark raving nuts.

So The Gods trot out the first electable African-American Presidential candidate in our history. He's likeable, smooth, and charismatic. He's a quick thinker and a good debater. His family stepped out of a storybook. And you can't, as a Fundamentalist Democrat, criticize him without seeming mildly racist.

Where the heck did Barack Obama come from?
Well, why did Tony Romo drop that ball last year?

Both Hillary and Jerry could bring some more humility to the table. I'm not superstitious or anything, but this only happens to people when The Gods get pissed off. You can look it up.

The Royal Ontario Museum - Amazing

I've been in Toronto all week.
I went through the Royal Ontario Museum during my last trip to Canada. They have an incredible collection of STUFF - Birch bark and seal skin canoes, totem poles, and clothing from Canada's first inhabitants. Thousands of Chinese artifacts, brought back to Canada by Catholic missionaries based in Toronto.
The building used to be a typical, traditional 1930's stone and marble civic building.
The Powers That Be voted to deviate from the master expansion plan, and for the latest addition, put what looks like a massive salt crystal in the middle of the building.
When I was in Toronto a year ago, this expansion was all I-beams and girders, so I made a point of going by again on this trip.
Like it or not, it's an amazing piece of architecture.