December 17, 2016



December 14, 2016

Blogger/Flickr test

Bonnabel Wood

August 11, 2015

Google Photos test

Midtown Manhattan

February 10, 2013


My blog is now at .

January 20, 2011

The Governor of Hawaii can't find Obama's birth certificate

I know conservatives who say they don't care whether Obama is a natural-born citizen, but I differ. It does matter whether he became President by fraud. If that part of the Constitution doesn't matter, then what parts do matter and why? The convenient bits?

I don't know if Obama was born in Hawaii. Riddle me this: why won't he produce a birth certificate unless he has something to hide? If that makes me a 'birther', fine.

This situation is ludicrous. As things stand the top executive in Hawaii, who is on a personal mission to vindicate Obama, is reduced to waffle. Obama has been protected by a bodyguard of lies about his whole career. Nearly 6 months ago only 42% of Americans were sure that Obama is a natural-born citizen (CNN poll!). It looks like the guy is illegitimate. He can change that but doesn't and won't say why not. What does that do for his signature on Obamacare? What does that do for his authority as commander in chief?

December 28, 2010

Chris Matthews, "Birther"

Priceless. Matthews asks the revolutionary question "Why doesn't Obama just release his birth certificate?" to which the liberal journalist answers "because he's too busy." Suddenly the issue is going mainstream. I don't see how this genie gets put back in the bottle.

What Just Happened ?

In his post "Understanding Obama", Mick drew my attention to an interview with Richard Epstein. The interview was made in March 2009 but is still the best account of What Just Happened that I know and an intellectual delight:

December 27, 2010

NJ garden birds and other critters

Last May I photographed a bunch of garden birds and a few critters from a single open window in a New Jersey suburb. It was for a daughter's school science project, which is code for "father's science project competition." I became a little obsessed with capturing the sheer featheriness of birds without losing detail by boosting contrast for visual drama. Available light only.

Here's a belated gallery.

The cardinal shown is the state bird of New Jersey. What Americans call a robin is nothing like the real thing, but the American grey squirrel is the same that colonized England and is still hyperpowerful. It would make an apter national critter than the bald eagle - it's acrobatic, persistent, can take a big fall, is ruthless to rivals and some of them still have nuts.

December 24, 2010

'After careful consideration I have decided not to give money to your group'

I, "Birther", revisited

A whle ago I wrote:

"Birther" is the name given to someone who wants Presidential candidates to show that they are 'natural born citizens' as required under the Constitution. The name is meant to carry the connotation of "Truther", someone who understands that the Truth about 9/11 is that Bush and Cheney bombed the Pentagon. In the same way "Climate Change Denier" carries a bad smell across from "Holocaust Denier."

Conservative opinion formers like NRO, Powerline, John Hawkins have reflexively dissociated themselves from the audacious idea that Obama is not a natural born citizen, but the tenor of rational commentary by the readers of these articles is that something smells bad. Perhaps the readers feel less peer pressure on this charged subject.

Now the esteemed Andrew McCarthy has revised his stance in a must-read article, "Suborned in the USA." The point of McCarthy's article is that Obama is acting like he's ineligible.

He is shown to have lied materially in his autobiography and to have produced a [2007 computer print-out] certification of live birth which means nothing.

He is asked to permit Hawaii to release a routine document often required for business throughout US life in order to show that he is a legitimate President under the Constitution - the certificate of live birth.

Now we have this in the LA Times - "For Hawaii governor, discrediting anti-Obama 'birthers' is a top priority" - and this in the NY Tines - Hawaii’s Governor Takes On ‘Birthers’:
[Hawaii Governor,] Mr. Abercrombie, 72, said that although he did not see the elder Obamas at the hospital with their newborn son, he did remember the couple bringing the baby to social events. He says the critics who suggest that Mr. Obama’s mother slipped off to Kenya to give birth are engaging in a “demonological fantasy.” And he is angry about legislation in several states that would require presidential candidates to document that they were born in this country. A similar bill died in Congress last year.

“My thought was, ‘Wait a minute, why didn’t you ask me, my friends in the national Congress, the House of Representatives?’ ” he said. “They know me, they know that I was here, but they didn’t even bother to have the courtesy to do that, which is disappointing to me, because it is very difficult for me not to conclude that bills like that are meant as a coded message that he is not really American. My thought is, rather than get into some kind of argument or play into that mentality, why not just simply try to authenticate this and let the facts speak for themselves?”
Say what ?
My thought is, rather than get into some kind of argument or play into that mentality, why not just simply try to authenticate this and let the facts speak for themselves?
Realists may say so "So what? He's President for the next 2 years. That's not going to change." But there may be 4 years after that and the mass self-deception of half the US electorate in 2008 needs to be documented. Obama is acting like he's hiding something, but maybe it's just a misunderstanding. A birth certificate is an elementary document. Deny that.

Age and guile

I like Sarah Palin for President. I very much like the idea of a Palin win as a symbol of contempt for the Frankfurters who have re-colonized America. How about a Palin/Coulter ticket to maximise the number of exploding heads?

I also like Mitt Romney for President. If Romneycare is the main strike against him, well you have to allow that he was operating as the only non-socialist branch of the Massachusetts government.

But who is the over-achiever who most appeals to my dry sense of humour? Why this gentleman:

McConnell/Gingrich 2012! Because old white men have feelings too....maybe.

December 18, 2010

The college education bubble

It's a joy for it's own sake to to rehearse Jacques' "seven ages of man" speech from As You Like It, but do you notice an "age" which is missing?

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

The age "missing" to a modern reader is the college years in which most literate and many illiterate young men and women loiter sheltered from adulthood; those years when Shakespeare migrated from Stratford to London, learnt to act, absorbed history useful to his craft such as Plutarch and Holinshed, was earning a living to support his baby and his elder wife, evolved his sensational soul .... those years are often spent in the second hand life of an immature full-time student with little life experience to bring to his study. The damage to a young man of deferred adulthood may never be repaired. Hom. sap. has evolved to assume life's risks and burdens in the years 12-25. Absent those trials, a young man may never grow up. He may become a community organizer or corporate drone or charity worker or Ed Miliband or ... It's a little different for girls, but I'll not dilute the theme by dealing with that here.

Apart from the spiritual atrophy of deferred adulthood, that lifestyle is increasingly bad business as laid out in this article in Forbes magazine:
The overwhelming cultural consensus of the post-WWII generation was that if you are middle-class, then you simply must own your own home and your children must go to college. Out of that cultural consensus emerged a complex system of tax breaks and special lending deals designed to make sure that the number of Americans who bought houses and bachelor's degrees was as high as possible--or maybe more so.

Many people now understand that this system of tax-and-lend has created a multigenerational housing bubble. But only a few have noticed that a very similar tax-and-lend system has also created a multi-generational higher education bubble.

Bubbles arise in nature when some sort of film, bolstered by surface tension, contains a pocket of air under greater pressure than the general atmosphere. Bubbles arise in markets when some factor external to the market (usually tax engineering or a regulatory mandate) creates a pocket of concentrated capital in which asset prices rise well above levels that can be justified by the assets' underlying value.

So, the recipe for an asset bubble is one part social engineering, one part easy money.

Just for the frisson here are images of a recent student protest against an increase in fees. I suppose that this is displacement activity of young men thwarted in their drive to grow up, retards:

December 17, 2010

The London Chess Classic

I went to the last day of the London Chess Classic on Wednesday...... 4 English players +

  • Magnus Carlsen (20yo Norwegian prodigy, world nr 1 by Elo rating),

  • Vishy Anand (current world champion),

  • Vladimir Kramnik (previous world champion, beat Kasparov for title, world nr 4 by Elo rating),

  • Hikaru Nakamura (American, former world blitz champion).

  • These men are like demi-gods to a patzer like me. Entering the antechamber I almost bumped into Kramnik and then stood close to Anand, the world champion, as he gave an interview having drawn with Kramnik. I was slackjawed as I clicked away.

    Carlsen won despite a poor start. Garry Kasparov was there, the strongest player of all time (tho Fischer was sui generis).

    But best of all Kasparov signed his book on Fischer for me with a dedication to 2 of


    "Whatever" is the most irritating word of the year, tho a friend had the effrontery to write "whatev" at me the other day.

    But note "for younger Americans, aged 18 to 29, "like" was the word that annoyed them most."


    December 05, 2010

    Obama bombs

    I've lacked the blogging mood lately. One reason is travelling. Another reason is certain shadows in the lives of people I know. Another reason is that Obama and the Democrats are now acknowledged as useless by pretty much the whole world. That battle of ideas is won. Now the main event is the tension between what I dub the bluebloods and the redbloods on the right.

    That said, I hereby make the contrarian forecast that Obama will act against Iran, probably by greenlighting and abetting an Israeli airstrike. A weak president, taunted by his own party as deficient in testicles let alone fortitude, will be sorely tempted to overcompensate. Good.

    November 16, 2010

    November 02, 2010

    We came, we saw, we scarpered

    I returned from west Nepal recently and details of the trip are posted here.

    Tomorrow I fly London-Costa Rica on the 1st direct flight to Liberia on the Pacific coast. My wife and 2 youngest are presently en route from JFK; small world. By the time I get to Playa Flamingo, which is full of American ex-pats, the mid-term election results should be coming in. In hindsight it looks like Obama was the best thing that ever happened to American conservatism in my lifetime. Yabbadabbadoo!

    September 20, 2010

    Undulating sideways

    We landed in Kathmandu on the 14th, drove to Nepalganj on the 16th, and have been festering since then waiting for the end-monsoon rains and clouds to disappear here on the Indian border with Nepal and about 250km north at Jumla so that we can fly into that town which has for weeks been cut off by landslips on the only road in. The weather has cleared here and it feels like a real transition from the monsoon. We have 4 tickets on a flight tomorrow thanks to our Sirdar and friend, Da Gombu Sherpa. So Garry, I, Amrit and Pasang will try to jostle our way onto a flight tomorrow together with 250kg or so of food and gear. Gombu himself will fly back to Kathmandu to attend to a medical problem and re-join us at base camp later if possible. Our cook, Rai, will follow us after. We'll spend a couple of days in Jumla getting set with local supplies and porters then head up the Jagdula Khola gorge towards Kande Hiunchuli, say 4 days trek. Once there Garry and I will spend 2 or 3 days acclimatizing before heading over a 5000m pass and down to our base camp by Changda Khola. Then comes the load carrying and clinbing attempt on unclimbed Kande Hiunchuli South (formerly Sisne, 6600m) which we attempted 26 years ago.

    After the climb we'll head back to Jumla the long way round via Mugu, the Langu gorge, the Karnali river and Rara lake. We don't expect to see any Europeans after Jumla, if there.

    It's rather normal to have this sort of delay. In hindsight we may have come out a little early, but if we do fly tomorrow we'll have reached Jumla a week after landing in Nepal which is much faster than in 1984 when we trekked much of the way across Nepal from south to north. It's a blow that Gombu is leaving, but it's unavoidable and we'll see what happens. You definitely need patience and fatalism in this game. Ripeness is all.

    September 18, 2010

    From Nepalganj, border with India, west Nepal

    We drove here from Kathmandu on the 16th (12 hours), us + 3 sherpas + liason officer + the local leader of the maoists from Jumla where we're headed (very nice guy, young, strong, beautiful, all in black, great smile, a scent of the Khmer Rouge tho) and now we're waiting for the weather to clear to fly north to Jumla from where we pick up porters and trek north to our base camp. This team is small, but very strong (excluding us). We're stuck for now. The road to Jumla is closed by landslips and no planes have flown there for a week because of bad weather. So I'm hanging out at 'cyber office' and for those following what happened in Delaware this is a hoot :

    Anyway Sarah Palin is looking awesome in Taiwan!

    PS:"They call us wingnuts. We call us 'We, the people.'" Nice line from Christine O'Donnell.