Saturday, August 15, 2009

Miko Andres, the world's youngest sharpshooter

From The Telegraph in the UK, where even the police don't have guns:

Pictured here at the Armscor Shooting Club, Miko loads, aims and fires his semiautomatic weapon at moving targets.
Complete with a gun belt, shades and a tailored shirt, Miko travels across the country participating in national junior competitions.

Competing against children ten years his senior (in the 9-17 age group), Miko is now looking to travel to America to test his talents.
For Miko's father, Cresencio "Mike" Pascua Andres JR, the boy's passion and natural ability for practical shooting has been carefully monitored by his family and shooting community.
"It is within the family and friends that Miko was influenced to love and enjoy the practical shooting sport," says Mike. "Because of his interest, we took turns in teaching, training and coaching him on the basics of the sport."
Practical shooting is one of the fastest growing sports in the Philippines and Miko took up the sport in January this year.
Seven months later, Miko is fully versed in the strict laws of the sport.
Despite the obvious dangers and concerns raised over a boy of six handling such a weapon, Mike is eager to stress that safety is always at the forefront of his mind.

Click here to read the rest of the article, which, BTW, reads like it's been translated from Choctaw to Philippino to English by someone using Google Translate. A rarity for British journalism.
Here's a random video of Miko in action on the range:

A coat of Whitening to Perry De Haviland of Samizdata, who congratulates Miko on not being British.

And on the seventh day, Donald Boudreaux rested....

George Mason University economics professor Donald Boudreaux has gone on a tear. The last few days on his Cafe Hayek blog have included some of the best posts I've ever read.

First, he has to correct Harold Meyerson's assertion that American manufacturing is declining. It isn't. We're combining parts from all over the world with our parts. That's what we do at my Jukt Micronics gig. If you're so inclined, you can go here to read an ancient post of mine about Harold Meyerson. Before this blog was two months old, I already knew I'd be needing a "Harold Meyerson" post label.

Professor Boudreaux then went to bed, but apparently slept fitfully. Perhaps he knew that there were still some mercantilist rent-seekers who hadn't been properly bitch-slapped. We will never know what motivated him, and it's not our place to ask the great man why, but The Professor got up early the next morning and explained to the English-speaking world that if you "protect" some of your citizen-manufacturers, all you're doing is making their products more expensive than they should be. This, in the long run, helps a small number of your wealthy citizen-manufacturers, but it hurts most of your citizen-citizens.

Later that afternoon, someone defiled Professor Boudreaux's comment field with disturbing news about what Beijing was doing to protect Chinese manufacturers. The Professor took off his academic robe, placed his chalk in the tray at the bottom of the board, and delivered a Karate Kid Crane Kick to the commenter. (I've added the commenter and his family to the prayer list at Broadway Baptist Church, and wish him a speedy recovery.)

Finally, before embarking on a much-deserved Sabbath day of rest, The Professor explains why there's no such thing as a free subsidy. Whether it's cotton, soybeans, corn, tobacco, or those things for which you can trade in a Clunker, someone is paying for every subsidy. And that would be you.

The posts about the Whole Foods boycotts are the dessert.

Brilliant, brilliant stuff. I want to go to George Mason U., and follow The Professor around while he teaches the multitudes. Maybe spend some time fishing on the Sea Of Galilee with him. Hold his coat while he heals some lepers. And then when Obama has him arrested for heresy, deny three times that I ever knew him. Then retire to my home village to write The Gospel of Saint Don.

It could happen.

William Mostow makes a controversial statement about rubbing dirt into wounds, long before results can be seen

Here's William Mostow, in the September issue of Liberty magazine:

It's interesting to see the political correctness with which free-market advocates respond to current statist interventions in the American economy. Even on talk radio and Fox, commentators express reservations about the stimulus plan and the government takeover of various industries but then indicate that time will tell whether any of these plans will work. Our president's intelligence is invariably mentioned as a preface to any criticisms of his policies.

If a patient were to tell me that he had been advised to rub dirt into a fresh wound, as a physician, my response would not be, "Well, I come from a different school of thought on wound care, so I'm pessimistic about the outcome of your treatment. But I guess we'll find out in a few weeks whether I'm right." Rather, I'd say, "All science and experience on the subject indicates that rubbing dirt in your wound is foolish, and bound to make your condition worse." So why aren't the same standards applied to economic arguments when the evidence is just as powerful?

Too many people see the present debate as one conducted among experts from different schools of thought. It is the obligation of anyone possessing any knowledge of classical economics to unequivocally describe our policymakers as either fools or charlatans, and their intellectual backers in academia and the media as quacks.

Well, we'll see. Time will tell. It's obviously too early to see if printing money to pass out to supporters is going to be effective or not.
Just because all the other government interventions have been boondoggles and financial disasters doesn't mean this one has to be. I mean, if you found some dirt that someone had thrown penicillin and Neosporin into, that dirt could help a wound, couldn't it? It really could happen.

My Political Opponent Is Hitler

Zomblog has documentation of the recent "My Political Opponent Is Hitler" trend that Speaker Pelosi has been lamenting.
Kind of hard to argue with.
Point conceded.
It's happening.

Friday, August 14, 2009

John Donatich, Yale University Press, The Jewel Of Medina, and the whimper of whipped dogs.

About a year ago, Random House pulled the plug on a novel about the prophet Mohammed and his child bride.
When time permits, please compare the Weasel Words in this old press release about "The Jewel Of Medina" by Sherry Jones, and John Donatich's whimpering in yesterday's NYT about "The Cartoons That Shook The World", a Yale University Press book about the cartoons published in Denmark that won't be published in Yale's book about the cartoons. (See previous post.)

After sending out advance editions of the novel THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, we received in response, from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment.
We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously. We consulted with security experts as well as with scholars of Islam, whom we asked to review the book and offer their assessments of potential reactions.

I'll bet you dollars against donuts that the security experts and "scholars of Islam" in the Jewel Of Medina controversy overlap with the security experts and schoolmarms that John Donatich allowed to squash the Danish cartoon book.
These people are authoritative, yet anonymous.

We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some.

No, you don't. You didn't. You can't say that any more. You really can't. The point of publishing something like this is to offer another point of view, change people's minds, provoke a discussion, and possibly offend people. You caved in. You didn't support your authors and the free discussion of ideas. Notice the Weasel Words "may", "construed", and "some".

However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel. The author and Ballantine subsequently agreed to terminate the agreement, with the understanding that the author would be free to publish elsewhere, if she so chose.

- The Random House Publishing Group

So who are these people that can tell Yale and Random House what to censor? Who elected them? Do they even exist? If you look at the article on the cartoon book, you'll see that they only way to learn what they said is by promising not to tell anyone.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yale University Press bans controversial cartoons of Muhammad in new book about controversial cartoons of Muhammad.

I don't expect anyone to read this ridiculously long post. I'm just ranting. This is from The New York Times, with a fresh coat of Whitening for Hot Air....

It’s not all that surprising that Yale University Press would be wary of reprinting notoriously controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a forthcoming book.

Actually, it is surprising. And it's funny. When I was in the literary retail racket, I didn't hesitate to sell Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" or "American Psycho" by Brett Easton Ellis, or to host autographings by the Roe vs Wade lawyer, all despite some threats. You hire a security guard, and go on with your job.

Full Disclosure: I'm not proud of it, but I also sold a lot of Danielle Steel novels.

After all, when the 12 caricatures were first published by a Danish newspaper a few years ago and reprinted by other European publications, Muslims all over the world angrily protested, calling the images — which included one in which Muhammad wore a turban in the shape of a bomb — blasphemous.
That makes it sound like an immediate cause and effect relationship. It wasn't until a group of outrage-mongers produced a drawing of Big Mo's face on the body of a pig, several months after the initial publication of the cartoons, that the "Muslims all over the world angrily protested".

In the Middle East and Africa some rioted, burning and vandalizing embassies; others demanded a boycott of Danish goods; a few nations recalled their ambassadors from Denmark. In the end at least 200 people were killed.

That's what happens when you spread ink on paper to make satirical comments about all-powerful beings who can't take up for themselves.

So Yale University and Yale University Press consulted two dozen authorities, including diplomats and experts on Islam and counterterrorism, and the recommendation was unanimous:

Let's get real here....Is there ANY doubt in your mind what that group is going to recommend?

The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World,” should not include the 12 Danish drawings that originally appeared in September 2005.

This is like writing a book about pencil sharpeners, but being told that you can't mention, you know, those devices with rotating blades that, you know what I'm talking about? they, like, fit on the end of wooden writing instruments, and you rotate them so that, you know, it gives them a fine point?

What’s more, they suggested that the Yale press also refrain from publishing any other illustrations of the prophet that were to be included, specifically, a drawing for a children’s book; an Ottoman print; and a sketch by the 19th-century artist Gustave Doré of Muhammad being tormented in Hell, an episode from Dante’s “Inferno” that has been depicted by Botticelli, Blake, Rodin and Dalí.

This is what we now call academic freedom. It's why they get tenure. It's why people who work in that environment have jobs for life. So they don't have to worry about offending people who think their god(s) can't take up for themselves.

The book’s author, Jytte Klausen, a Danish-born professor of politics at Brandeis University, in Waltham, Mass., reluctantly accepted Yale University Press’s decision not to publish the cartoons. But she was disturbed by the withdrawal of the other representations of Muhammad. All of those images are widely available, Ms. Klausen said by telephone, adding that “Muslim friends, leaders and activists thought that the incident was misunderstood, so the cartoons needed to be reprinted so we could have a discussion about it.” The book is due out in November.
I can't wait to open this book and dive into the Politically Correct Sensitivityspeak that Yale is going to dump into the preface. Can't wait. Will reprint it here.

John Donatich, the director of Yale University Press, said by telephone that the decision was difficult, but the recommendation to withdraw the images, including the historical ones of Muhammad, was “overwhelming and unanimous.” The cartoons are freely available on the Internet and can be accurately described in words, Mr. Donatich said, so reprinting them could be interpreted easily as gratuitous.

John Donatich can be described in words also, but I'll refrain. Notice the weasel words "could" and "interpreted".

He noted that he had been involved in publishing other controversial books — like “The King Never Smiles” by Paul M. Handley, a recent unauthorized biography of Thailand’s current monarch — and “I’ve never blinked.” But, he said, “when it came between that and blood on my hands, there was no question.”

A lot of great work has been produced in dangerous circumstances. Tom Paine - Common Sense. William Tyndale - The English Bible. John Bunyan - Pilgrim's Progress. Voltaire scratching out plays in the Bastille.

The line ends with John Donatich.

Reza Aslan, a religion scholar and the author of “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” is a fan of the book but decided to withdraw his supportive blurb that was to appear in the book after Yale University Press dropped the pictures. The book is “a definitive account of the entire controversy,” he said, “but to not include the actual cartoons is to me, frankly, idiotic.” In Mr. Aslan’s view no danger remains. “The controversy has died out now, anyone who wants to see them can see them,” he said of the cartoons, noting that he has written and lectured extensively about the incident and shown the cartoons without any negative reaction. He added that none of the violence occurred in the United States: “There were people who were annoyed, and what kind of publishing house doesn’t publish something that annoys some people?”

Most academic writing is so dense and burdened with so much jargon that it really doesn't annoy anyone. No one finishes it who doesn't already agree with it.

“This is an academic book for an academic audience by an academic press,” he continued. “There is no chance of this book having a global audience, let alone causing a global outcry.” He added, “It’s not just academic cowardice, it is just silly and unnecessary.”

True. My younger brother is a history professor, and recently published a book through an academic press. He's got an interesting story to tell, he's a great writer, but the dang book costs $78.00. Not much chance of a global audience there.

Mr. Donatich said that the images were still provoking unrest as recently as last year when the Danish police arrested three men suspected of trying to kill the artist who drew the cartoon depicting Muhammad’s turban as a bomb. He quoted one of the experts consulted by Yale — Ibrahim Gambari, special adviser to the secretary general of the United Nations and the former foreign minister of Nigeria — as concluding: “You can count on violence if any illustration of the prophet is published. It will cause riots, I predict, from Indonesia to Nigeria.”

That swath of real estate from Indonesia to Nigeria doesn't include Yale, does it?

Aside from the disagreement about the images, Ms. Klausen said she was also disturbed by Yale’s insistence that she could read a 14-page summary of the consultants’ recommendations only if she signed a confidentiality agreement that forbade her from talking about them. “I perceive it to be a gag order,” she said, after declining to sign. While she could understand why some of the individuals consulted might prefer to remain unidentified, she said, she did not see why she should be precluded from talking about their conclusions.

I've beaten this dead horse elsewhere, but outside of a Townhall Healthcare meeting, is there any place on earth that stifles Free Speech more than academia? (I really do hate to sound so anti-intellectual, but damn....)

Linda Koch Lorimer, vice president and secretary of Yale University, who had discussed the summary with Ms. Klausen, said on Wednesday that she was merely following the original wishes of the consultants, some of whom subsequently agreed to be identified.

1. We're going to get people from all over the world to tell us what to do in this situation.
2. We're going to keep their recommendations (and identities) a secret.
3. The only way to read their recommendations is to promise that you won't ever, ever, ever discuss their recommendations.
4. Therefore, the 14-page document outlining their recommendations could be whatever the person who typed it wants it to be.
5. Brilliant.
....Other publishers, including The New York Times, chose not to print the cartoons or images of Muhammad when the controversy erupted worldwide in February 2006...
Face Of Muhammad cartoon came from here.

Why We Owe Barack Obama

Despite the Porkulus Program, Cash For Clunkers, The Bailouts, TARP, the unemployment rate, the cabinet that didn't want to pay taxes, the GM Takeover, and the fact that my dogs won't let me sleep....
In spite of all that, we still owe Barack Obama a huge debt of gratitude.

She Whose Name Is Not Spoken recently did a Q&A session someplace in Africa. It wasn't pretty.

If it weren't for Barack Obama.... I don't even want to think about it.

How long will this unfair competition be tolerated?

LittleGreenFootballs2 has some interesting stats about the results homeschoolers are getting relative to the public school system.

The most interesting part? Family income, whether the parent(s) have college degrees, or whether either parent have a teaching certificate has almost no impact on the homeschooled kids' test scores.

Next point of interest.... Think of all the miserable hours the public schools spend Teaching The Test.

Next question....If these kids aren't in a school system, where do they get their drugs?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And yes, the government is big enough to....

If a government is big enough to control health care, it's big enough to prohibit gun ownership.

If a government is big enough to prohibit gun ownership, it's big enough to control marriage.

If a government is powerful enough to outlaw gay and lesbian marriage, it's probably big enough to print worthless money to pay off its debts.

If a government is arrogant enough to flood the market with devalued currency, it probably won't hesitate to involve us in expensive foreign wars.

If a government is big enough to get into overseas adventures, it's probably big enough to staff military bases in 46 other countries.

If a government has 750 military bases overseas, it's probably irresponsible enough to burden its citizens with Eleven Trillion Dollars in debt.

If a government overreaches enough to burden each taxpayer with $40,000 in debt, it's big enough to protect its Federal Reserve system from an audit.

If a government is powerful enough to shelter its reserve banks, it's powerful enough to bail out favored industries and Troubled Assets.

If a government is arrogant enough to bail out campaign supporters with your money, that government won't hesitate to proscribe what substances you can and can't consume, ingest, or inhale.

If a government overreaches enough to outlaw recreational drug use, it won't hesitate to define how your children can be educated.

If a government is large enough to ban home schooling, it's big enough to set quotas and taxes on all commodities that enter its borders.

If a government is big enough to protect favored industries by putting ridiculous tariffs on imports, that same government is big enough to control your healthcare decisions.

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

They're counting on continued division.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Evolution Of God, by Robert Wright

For the next few days, Andrew Sullivan has turned his site, the Daily Dish. over to Robert Wright, author of "The Evolution Of God".

I'm about halfway through the book, and it's pure, undiluted greatness.


Since I'm not through with the book, I'm not going to attempt a summary. Here's a good one, though, from a Disciples Of Christ minister in Troy, Michigan.
The idea that God has evolved may be off-putting to some and welcomed by others. How one responds to this idea may depend both on what is meant by the phrase and where one stands in regards to the idea of God. A believer may take this idea differently than will an unbeliever. Philip Clayton, in his book Adventures in the Spirit (Fortress, 2008) encourages believers in God to welcome dialog with science and philosophy, and not to fear any challenging implications to faith. It is with that sense of openness that I came to Robert Wright’s fascinating study of the evolution of the idea of God, from its origins in hunter/gather societies to the development of the great religions – especially the three Abrahamic religions. Wright admits that he approached this study with an agnostic sensibility. Indeed, the focus here is not on whether God exists, but how humans have envisioned and approached the idea of God. His is a materialist description, assuming that ideas of faith have evolved because they fulfill a role in society. Indeed, when he speaks of specific religious expressions he takes a rather minimalist view – that is Jesus said and did little of what has been ascribed to him, and the stories of early Judaism, from Abraham to Moses, likely did not happen.
Wright will be posting on the Daily Dish for the rest of this week. Go there.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Caption Contest - Strange Bedfellows Edition

I need a caption for this picture, which I found on Andrew Ian Dodge's site, Dodgeblogium.

I argued with the caption committee about this, but Leonidas won last week's caption contest. I felt that Leonidas's entry didn't properly explain the baby in the bathwater. The decrees of the competition committee must be obeyed. So congrats, Leonidas.