December 28, 2010

What Just Happened ?

This interview is from March 2009 but is still the best account of What Just Happened that I know and an intellectual delight:

December 26, 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 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."


    November 01, 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.

    September 11, 2010

    Undulating Up

    I'll be in Nepal for a few weeks from Tuesday. More info here.

    "America today is governed by a ghost."

    Obama isn't a muslim. He's an anti-neocolonialist, Islam-acculturated President who is way out of his depth. Becoming political kryptonite must be all the more harrowing for an affirmative action super-hero. Good. I wish him ill. My disdain turned to ill-will when I learnt of his active and crucial role in denying help to babies who survive abortion. Instead they die on a shelf, de-hydrated, panting, without a hand to hold or a voice to bless. That is the essence of this man. He did that.

    Still here's some interesting stuff that came up - How Obama Thinks by Dinesh D'Souza:

    Theories abound to explain the President's goals and actions. Critics in the business community--including some Obama voters who now have buyer's remorse--tend to focus on two main themes. The first is that Obama is clueless about business. The second is that Obama is a socialist--not an out-and-out Marxist, but something of a European-style socialist, with a penchant for leveling and government redistribution.

    These theories aren't wrong so much as they are inadequate. Even if they could account for Obama's domestic policy, they cannot explain his foreign policy. The real problem with Obama is worse--much worse. But we have been blinded to his real agenda because, across the political spectrum, we all seek to fit him into some version of American history. In the process, we ignore Obama's own history. Here is a man who spent his formative years--the first 17 years of his life--off the American mainland, in Hawaii, Indonesia and Pakistan, with multiple subsequent journeys to Africa.

    What then is Obama's dream? We don't have to speculate because the President tells us himself in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father. According to Obama, his dream is his father's dream. Notice that his title is not Dreams of My Father but rather Dreams from My Father. Obama isn't writing about his father's dreams; he is writing about the dreams he received from his father.

    So who was Barack Obama Sr.? He was a Luo tribesman who grew up in Kenya and studied at Harvard. He was a polygamist who had, over the course of his lifetime, four wives and eight children. One of his sons, Mark Obama, has accused him of abuse and wife-beating. He was also a regular drunk driver who got into numerous accidents, killing a man in one and causing his own legs to be amputated due to injury in another. In 1982 he got drunk at a bar in Nairobi and drove into a tree, killing himself.

    An odd choice, certainly, as an inspirational hero. But to his son, the elder Obama represented a great and noble cause, the cause of anticolonialism. Obama Sr. grew up during Africa's struggle to be free of European rule, and he was one of the early generation of Africans chosen to study in America and then to shape his country's future.

    I know a great deal about anticolonialism, because I am a native of Mumbai, India. I am part of the first Indian generation to be born after my country's independence from the British. Anticolonialism was the rallying cry of Third World politics for much of the second half of the 20th century.
    The climax of Obama's narrative [in Dreams From My Father] is when he goes to Kenya and weeps at his father's grave. It is riveting: "When my tears were finally spent," he writes, "I felt a calmness wash over me. I felt the circle finally close. I realized that who I was, what I cared about, was no longer just a matter of intellect or obligation, no longer a construct of words. I saw that my life in America--the black life, the white life, the sense of abandonment I'd felt as a boy, the frustration and hope I'd witnessed in Chicago--all of it was connected with this small piece of earth an ocean away, connected by more than the accident of a name or the color of my skin. The pain that I felt was my father's pain."

    In an eerie conclusion, Obama writes that "I sat at my father's grave and spoke to him through Africa's red soil." In a sense, through the earth itself, he communes with his father and receives his father's spirit. Obama takes on his father's struggle, not by recovering his body but by embracing his cause. He decides that where Obama Sr. failed, he will succeed. Obama Sr.'s hatred of the colonial system becomes Obama Jr.'s hatred; his botched attempt to set the world right defines his son's objective. Through a kind of sacramental rite at the family tomb, the father's struggle becomes the son's birthright.

    Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anticolonial. Emerging market economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top, we have to compete in an increasingly tough environment.

    But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

    Thoughts for the day

    'We are not and never will be at war with Islam' - Barack Obama

    'You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you' - Leon Trotsky

    September 01, 2010

    The Shard is going up fast

    The Shard will be the tallest building in Britain and Europe. It's by London Bridge,  a few minutes walk from my London apartment. Here's an album.

    August 05, 2010

    Homosexual judge with long-term partner rules 'gay' marriage ban unconstitutional

    So what we got here?

    A judge nullifies a referendum.
    A fed nullifies the law-making of a state.
    An interested judge doesn't declare his interest.
    A homosexual nullifies the assumptions of human society to date.

    Government should have no role in marriage, but revolutions have started for less than this.

    August 02, 2010

    The world's longest bridge

    Yesterday my wife and I walked across the world's longest bridge (in 1888):

    July 31, 2010

    Whose boot, whose throat?

    Answer this multiple choice question:

    The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was most likely caused by -

    A. BP who drilled and completed a nightmare well with unsafe techniques?

    B. BP and Transocean who owned and operated the rig?

    C. BP and Transocean and Cameron who made the blow-out preventer which failed?

    D. The US government?

    A report from the Center for Public Integrity suggests that the ultimate responsibility for the BP oil leak disaster lays with the Obama administration, mainly because of a botched response to the initial fire from the Coast Guard.
    "The Coast Guard has gathered evidence it failed to follow its own firefighting policy during the Deepwater Horizon disaster and is investigating whether the chaotic spraying of tons of salt water by private boats contributed to sinking the ill-fated oil rig, according to interviews and documents.
    "Coast Guard officials told the Center for Public Integrity that the service does not have the expertise to fight an oil rig fire and that its response to the April 20 explosion may have broken the service's own rules by failing to ensure a firefighting expert supervised the half-dozen private boats that answered the Deepwater Horizon's distress call to fight the blaze.
    "An official maritime investigation led by Coast Guard Capt. Hung M. Nguyen in New Orleans is examining whether the salt water that was sprayed across the burning platform overran the ballast system that kept the rig upright, changing its weight distribution, and causing it to list."
    Oil platform fires are generally fought using foam, which is a more effective fire suppressant. While the Coast Guard does not itself fight these kinds of fires, it is charged with coordinating fire-fighting activities at off-shore facilities like oil platforms.
    The use of salt water rather than foam evidently led to the collapse of the oil platform. This is very important, because the oil leak did not occur until this happened.
    "While investigators have zeroed in on a series of missteps and ignored safety warnings aboard the rig that preceded the fiery explosion April 20, the question of what caused the platform to collapse into the Gulf two days later remains unanswered and could prove vital to ongoing legal proceedings and congressional investigations.
    "That is because the riser pipe from which the majority of BP's oil spewed did not start leaking until after the rig sank. Experts and some lawsuits have openly tied the sinking of the drilling vessel to the severity of the leak. "
    While the Obama administration has received much criticism for its botched response to the BP oil leak disaster, it has, until now, evaded responsibility for having caused it to start with. This is not just a result of Coast Guard incompetence for which President Obama is ultimately responsible for as commander in chief, but, as an article in the Washington Examiner suggests, the direct result of Obama budget cuts that rendered the Coast Guard incapable of making a proper response:
    "The crippling budget cuts President Obama proposed for the Coast Guard also deserve a closer examination. Obama's spending plan reduced the blue water fleet by a full one-third, slashed 1,000 personnel, five cutters, and several aircraft, including helicopters. According to the Center for Public Integrity, the Coast Guard updated its official maritime rescue manual -- advising against firefighting aboard a rig -- just seven months before the Deepwater Horizon explosion. That change in policy came at a time when Adm. Thad Allen warned the budget cuts threatened to turn the Coast Guard into a 'hollow force.'"

    Bye bye, mouse

    It's just a larger, lovelier, portable version of the trackpad on Macbook Pros.

    Let me re-phrase that - it's just a larger, lovelier, portable version of the trackpad on Macbook Pros that will up the productivity of a billion people.

    I've used a Magic Trackpad at my desktop for a couple of days now. The killer gesture is the drag. Yes, it drags windows around, which is handy, but it moves anything around, such as image boundaries in 'crop' mode, and window corners to re-size the window, files or other objects from hither to thither.

    Oh, oh, oh! I've just discovered the 3-finger backward-forward gesture. My life will never be the same.

    July 18, 2010

    Et in Acadia ego..

    The Obama family is on vacation in Acadia, an island of Maine which is also a US National Park. Yesterday they ascended Mount Cadillac, 1530 feet, the high point of the island.

    I visited Acadia in January 2001. In 4 days on the icy, rocky trails I saw 4 other hikers.
    Here's a ditty I left in the visitors' book of the b and b to record the names of all the Acadian hills I hiked:

    Acadia, Mansell, Bernard, Beech,
    Sauveur, Penobscot, Valley Peak,
    Pemetic, Sargent, Dorr, North Bubble,
    Gorham, Champlain, Connor Nubble:
    I banged my head on icy tracks
    All for the sake of Cadillac.
    Imagine my concussive shock-
    We could have driven to the top.

    'Goddamn!' could as well read 'D'oh!' except that it echoes this parody by Ezra Pound:

    Winter is icummen in,
    Lhude sing Goddamm,
    Raineth drop and staineth slop
    And how the wind doth ramm!
    Sing: Goddamm.
    Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
    An ague hath my ham.
    Freezeth river, turneth liver
    Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
    Goddamm, Goddamm, tis why I am,
    So 'gainst the winter's balm
    Sing Goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm
    Sing Goddamm, sing Goddamm,

    July 12, 2010

    Music for a summer evening when the markets love you



    Unholy ghost:

    Zappa's hierarchy:
    Information is not knowledge.
    Knowledge is not wisdom.
    Wisdom is not truth.
    Truth is not beauty.
    Beauty is not love.
    Love is not music.
    Music is the best.

    July 11, 2010

    My worst film of 2009

    I watched Avatar last night. Hi-tech, low politics, lower art. Echt kitsch, ugh. Kitsch visuals, kitsch plot, kitsch pantheism. Ugh,ugh,ugh. Religion and morality for kiddies and liberals. It has value as insight to the shallow dreams and self-approval of the permanent adolescents who run much of the West.

    My best film of 2009 is here. Low-tech, middle brow, high art.

    June 24, 2010

    Correlation is not causation, but...

    Abortion 'triples breast cancer risk': Fourth study finds terminations linked to disease.
    [In the UK] There has been an 80 per cent increase in the rate of breast cancer since 1971, when in the wake of the Abortion Act, the number of abortions rose from 18,000 to nearly 200,000 a year.

    It's notable how often cultural marxism leads to health catastrophes. Abortion is a health catastrophe for the unborn baby, but also, quite possibly, for the mother who killed her baby. Homosexual libertinism is a health catastrophe for AIDS victims. Soft drugs are a health catastrophe for those rendered schizophrenic. Rampant vaccination through semi-coercion is a health catastrophe for attenuated immune systems. The sedation of disruptive boys through semi-coercion in a feminised and riskophobic public school system in America is a health catastrophe. God knows I'd have been Ritalined from an early age were I at school now.

    As Margaret Thatcher said, the facts of life are conservative.

    AC Chickadee comments:
    I've never heard that abortions can cause breast cancer. I wonder if it has something to do with hormones? I believe Ritalin is oftentimes prescribed just to make it easier for teachers to handle unruly students, who are really just normal. Parents can refuse to do it, but they probably go along with it just to make it easier for them too. Sad.

    Mark comments:
    I recently spoke to a parent from New Hampshire whose school is threatening to bar his son unless he's medicated. His dad believes the boy, with whom I've vacationed, is normally disruptive in a setting which stigmatizes that and messes with the boy's mind, rather than discipline it. Principals are litigation averse social workers, who use non-fiction versions of 'soma'.

    Whether or not our children are barred in NJ for not being 'adequately' vaccinated is essentially at the whim of a bureaucrat who decides whether I've used the correct form of lie in claiming a religious exemption.

    Brave New World is here in America. How ironic, since Shakespeare used the phrase in The Tempest with a different Americas in mind. 'Oh brave new world that has such people in't' - coercive socialists who govern our children with drugs and pc brainwashing.

    Think I'm exaggerating? Here's today's outrage:

    The striking thing to me is the smug confidence with which the statist professionals commit these atrocities. They've captured the levers of social control while honest citizens are busy making money and raising families.

    June 20, 2010

    Barack Petroleum - banana republic edition

    The $20 billion dollar shakedown of BP has set an unholy precedent which will reverberate thru US business interests overseas. Next time Exxon has a Russian style environmental audit at Sakhalin, what's to stop a Gazprom-friendly politician ordering up a few bill. in escrow money by citing the Obama example ?

    BP screwed up unforgivably by the looks of it, albeit with the full, explicit knowledge of the relevant federal agencies, but it was meeting all its financial duties and has resources and cash flow to meet future liabilities. That refers to legal and moral liabilities, not economic losses from the imbecilic, US mandated 6 month drilling shutdown based on an expert report falsified by the Dept of Energy and disowned by the experts who wrote it.

    This FT article asks a good question - how is the BP's escrow commitment to Obama legal without shareholder approval?
    “I don’t get how [legally] BP can cancel an already declared dividend, and offer up $20 billion, without a shareholder vote. Nor why they’d do either of those things. If Obama insisted on a political headline, I’d have much rather it’d been Hayward’s scalp,” one trader said.

    The article makes a nice point about one of Tony Hayward's possible successors, Robert Dudley:
    Mr Dudley, an affable Mississippian, meanwhile, has been in the fray in Houston, managing the clean-up and is seen as having handled the public scrutiny better than his chief executive.

    He was also at Mr Hayward and Mr Svanberg’s side during Wednesday’s meeting with Mr Obama.

    Mr Dudley’s recent post as chief executive of TNK-BP, BP’s Russian partnership, gives him experience running a company in a host country with an unpredictably hostile government.

    4 words, 2 pictures

    Red out, black in:

    Every silver lining has a cloud

    Obama and Hayward, the 2 CEO's responsible for the Gulf screw-up, are both snakebit. For them every silver lining has a cloud.

    A comment in the DT:

    As for Hayward’s supposed PR disaster, we need to accept the cultural differences between Britain and the US. We believe you should stay calm and behave as if everything is under control in a crisis. They like to show how committed they are and involved emotionally in the problem.

    There's some truth in that. Today Hayward is sailing with his son on his first few hours off since April 20th and the media feign outrage. Hey-ho. Anyway, writing as a punter long BP, it's obvious that Hayward has to go. The guy looks punch-drunk with snake bites - a mixed metaphor to be proud of, I think.

    Now, Obama....

    Mick intones:

    Two nations separated by a common language? I'm sure some of that was in play, but truth be told, calm in the face of the storm is also considered a virtue here in the U.S.

    Hayward's demeanor was perfect for BP, because shareholders, employees and executives all know that he shares their fate and concerns. The appearance of sang froid is, in my view, always an asset within this context, but what Hayward did not understand is that Gulf coast residents, and the nation at large, were not at all certain that Hayward and BP shared their specific fate or concerns. The American south has always had a streak of xenophobia running through it, and BP being perceived as a 'foreign' corporation with a 'foreign' chief wasn't helping.

    That seemed obvious to me, but apparently escaped Hayward and his team, who would have benefited from hiring some PR consultants as soon as the situated developed. Before he could create a perception of control, he needed to create for the Gulf Coast what he took for granted at BP--a shared fate (BP has long been part of the Gulf coast community...). I would have set up camp and invited the governors of the various gulf states to join him for some helicopter tours and in-depth discussions, setting up some sort of coordinated response between the company and the states.

    Hayward made a lot of mistakes, but he has an excuse--ignorance. What's Obama's excuse?

    It is literally incomprehensible that Obama didn't jump on this like a hungry owl on a mouse caught out in the open. He had Clinton as an advisor (who handled the Florida hurricanes with aplomb), the negative example of Katrina, and a life-time of political experience to tell him that he needed to get on this thing within hours of it happening.

    Obama still has some die-hard supporters in the media who'll keep on making excuses for his profound incompetence, but they are dwindling rapidly.

    Mark agrees: I agree.

    Actually I don't excuse Hayward. PR in a crisis is an indispensable attribute of his job. The best PR is calm, directed action, frankly explained with no quips. It's not mysterious.

    The only xenophobia I've noticed is in Washington. In the UK the contrast with Piper Alpha is widely noted. In 1988 a US operated platform exploded in the North Sea killing 168 men. An enquiry judged the operator, Occidental, to be culpable. There were no boots on throats, yankeephobia or political posturing about this accident, just a determination to fix what was wrong. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister.

    June 14, 2010

    The poop, not the scoop

    Daniel Hannan has written a mea culpa: "I admit it: I was wrong to have supported Barack Obama".

    My comment:
    Sorry that this sounds snooty, but your post is better analysed by a psychologist than a bloggologist. To touch on one claim - "Obama was dealt a rotten economic hand." No, he was a major promoter and beneficiary of Fannie and Freddie, the CRA and mega-Government which are the principal causes of what went wrong. Obama is the poop, not the scoop. That was obvious all along, so that someone of your excellence (I mean it) could only have been self-duped. That is what you need to acknowledge - that you wanted Obama to be the One for psychological motivations which met at the intersection of many other self-dupes' motivations.

    May 29, 2010

    How true


    President Obama turned to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and made clear that he had to do more to ensure that his agency could manage the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a growing problem for an administration that prides itself on competence.

    "You need to have people in the top jobs who can actually do them," Obama told Salazar

    May 20, 2010

    In which I barter photos for a special bottle of vin ordinaire

    I was shooting balconies in Shad Thames yesterday morning, squatting low down among the fag ends, when a voice said  "Do you want to take our photo?"  It was 3 young french guys who work at Pont de la Tour Restaurant. So I took this shot:

    Then I realised they were all hiding their cigarettes, which was why they'd been loitering outside, so I told them to show the cigarettes, which made them look frenchier esp the middle one:

    The name of the one on the left is Nicolas Clerc and I took him a few prints today - he was happy.
    The punchline is that Nicolas was 'Sommelier of the Year 2007'. See this story. In return he gave me a bottle of red which I'm enjoying now. It's not often one gets given a bottle of wine by the Sommelier of the Year and it's not really vin ordinaire !

    And here's a cormorant shot from the same morning for good luck, Tower Bridge and St Paul's nicely bokehed behind:

    The horror, the horror, the horror

    2 years ago I wrote a post about the official logo for the 2012 London Olympics - "the horror, the horror". Now the official Olympic mascots have been unveiled and I can't improve on Stephen Bayley's verdict:
    What is it about these Games which seems to drive the organisers into the embrace of this kind of patronising, cretinous infantilism? Why can’t we have something that makes us sing with pride, instead of these appalling computerised Smurfs for the iPhone generation?

    May 18, 2010

    A political masterclass

    Professor Gingrich struts his stuff in a tutorial setting. I'm pleased that he recognizes Chris Christie as the most important governor in the United States for what he's attempting in New Jersey. What's so attractive about Gingrich is that he integrates the nitty gritty of politics with the ideas of politics and does so with the utmost fluency; a beautiful mind.

    May 16, 2010

    Trip to Iceland

    Gallery is here.

    Alain and I had a great trip! Keflavik airport was shut by the wind swinging round to bring volcanic ash that way, so we were both routed via Glasgow to Akureyri in the north. This was much worse for him coming from Montreal, but Akureyri is a fine alternative to start from.

    The big takeaway is that end April/ early May is a fantastic time to visit Iceland. The only negative is that the interior roads are impassable, but Iceland is almost all wild anyway and in 10 days we only scratched the surface. The place is empty,empty, empty. Many of my shots were just stopping the SUV in the middle of the road, turning off the engine, and bracing a long lens against the window frame. There was almost no traffic. We had wonderful locations like the basalt column cliffs of the Snaefells peninsula all to ourselves for hours on end. The light was much more than ample with 16 hour days and long twilights. There's also a chance of A. Borealis in April as shot by someone over the volcanic eruption. We didn't need to book ahead and it was significantly cheaper than in the summer.

    Anyway lovely trip. Driving was a pleasure...I guess we did about 1400 miles.

    I should add that I'm thinking to go back end April/early May 2011 to concentrate on the North West, ie Snaefells and the NW fjords. For fellow Britons it's worth realizing that it's only a 6 hour flight and drive to these spectacular locations and not much more from North America

    May 15, 2010

    Bunhill Fields and beyond

    Walking to play football near Old Street, London, I passed through Bunhill Fields, a small cemetery for 17th and 18th century Non-Conformists and Dissenters. I heard a little girl ask her father "Why do they bury people?", and he said "Well they have to put them somewhere."

    I suppose it's a sign of age that I find cemeteries friendly and welcoming as I slip into something like the Hindu 3rd stage of life when "one gradually withdraws from the world, freely shares wisdom with others, and prepares for the complete renunciation of the final stage."

    I prefer cemeteries which allow nature to feed off the graves, moss-eaten English country churchyards, rather than the tidy type I find in America. I also like cemeteries which offer sublime views to their guests as sometimes in France. I myself hope to end up ground to dust in a high glacier somewhere or as fishfood by a coral reef.
    Full fathom five thy father lies;

    Of his bones are coral made;

    Those are pearls that were his eyes;
    Nothing of him that doth fade,

    But doth suffer a sea-change
    Into something rich and strange.

    At Bunhill Fields lies John Bunyan, author of the allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come.
    The images Bunyan uses in Pilgrim's Progress are but reflections of images from his own world; the strait gate is a version of the wicket gate at Elstow church, the Slough of Despond is a reflection of Squitch Fen, a wet and mossy area near his cottage in Harrowden, the Delectable Mountains are an image of the Chiltern Hills surrounding Bedfordshire. Even his characters, like the Evangelist as influenced by John Gifford, are reflections of real people. This pilgrimage was not only real for Bunyan as he lived it, but his portrait evoked this reality for his readers. Rudyard Kipling once referred to Bunyan as “the father of the novel, salvation's first Defoe.”

    Another long-term resident is Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, sometimes considered the first novel in English; also of Moll Flanders and Journal of the Plague Year.
    In Defoe's early life he experienced first-hand some of the most unusual occurrences in English history: in 1665, 70,000 were killed by the Great Plague of London. On top of all these catastrophes, the Great Fire of London (1666) hit Defoe's neighborhood hard, leaving only his and two other homes standing in the area. In 1667, when Defoe was probably about seven years old, a Dutch fleet sailed up the Medway via the River Thames and attacked Chatham. All of this happened before Defoe was around seven years old, and by the time he was about thirteen years old, Defoe's mother had died.
    Defoe's later life was also eventful:
    “No man in England but Defoe ever stood in the pillory and later rose to eminence among his fellow men.”

    And most modest in monument, but most splendid in works is William Blake, arguably both the greatest English lyric poet and the greatest English artist. Wordsworth said:
    There was no doubt that this poor man was mad, but there is something in the madness of this man which interests me more than the sanity of Lord Byron and Walter Scott.
    It is reported that on the day of his death
    Blake worked relentlessly on his Dante series. Eventually...he ceased working and turned to his wife, who was in tears by his bedside. Beholding her, Blake is said to have cried, "Stay Kate! Keep just as you are – I will draw your portrait – for you have ever been an angel to me." Having completed this portrait (now lost), Blake laid down his tools and began to sing hymns and verses. At six that evening, after promising his wife that he would be with her always. Blake died.

    The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with Sun


    Ancient of Days

    Auguries of Innocence

    Since we're on the subject of graves, let me add some images from my archive:

    The grave of Oscar Wilde in Paris
    Also in Pere Lachaise cemetery

    Karl Marx is buried at Highgate Cemetery in London and the Communist Party of Great Britain erected this suitably colossal and revolting memorial

    In Exeter, New Hampshire

    Last a phrase in a cemetery in east London

    May 14, 2010

    The dead parrots are breeding

    In Bloomberg:
    “Investors had always regarded the euro as a de jure German mark,……It’s dawning on the world that it is becoming, de facto, a Greek drachma.”
    Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:
    Club Med governments have built up €7 trillion sovereign debt under the cover of monetary union, which shut down the warning signals for borrowers and creditors alike.
    and British government can ever put Europe on the back-burner and hope it goes away. It hits you in the face, again, and again, and again. This is why so many British ministers end up feeling a visceral hatred for the project.
    In my view, the EU elites overstepped the line by ignoring the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters, then pushing it through under the guise of the Lisbon Treaty without a popular vote, except in Ireland, and when Ireland voted ‘No’, to ignore that too. The enterprise has become illegitimate – it is starting to exhibit the reflexes of tyranny.
    The moment of definition is fast arriving from Britain. The measures now being demanded to save monetary union cannot and will not be accepted by this Government, Nick Clegg notwithstanding. The most eurosceptic people I have ever met are those who have actually worked for the European Commission, though it takes a while – and liberation from Brussels – for these views to ferment.
    The outcome – une véritable gouvernement économique – will put Britain and the eurozone on such separate courses that it will amount to separation in all but name. The sooner we get the nastiness of divorce behind us, the better.
    Frogs v schmucks
    "Sarkozy ended up banging his fist on the table and threatening to leave the euro...This forced Angela Merkel to give in and reach an agreement."
    The European Union and International Monetary Fund agreed a 110 billion euro rescue plan for Greece last week. But Germany, which must shoulder a good deal of the burden, had proven reluctant to commit itself to a plan.
    Zapatero told his party members that France, Italy and Spain had formed a united front against Germany at the Brussels meeting and that Sarkozy had threatened to break up a traditional France-Germany "hold" on the rest of Europe

    Meanwhile the dollar continues its secular decline against gold. The full faith and credit of the United States is less trustworthy than the dream metal of imaginary value.

    The USA faces the same problems as Greece says the Bank of England:
    ...dealing with a banking crisis was difficult enough, but at least there were public sector balance sheets onto which the problems could be moved.
    Once you move into the sphere of concerns about sovereign debt, there is no answer; there’s no backstop. And it is very important therefore that we hit these problems on the head now, put in place credible solutions to prevent the problems becoming worse.
    And I detected at the weekend, in the conversations that I spent hours listening to on the telephone, that this sense of the need to work together was there again….
    It is absolutely vital, absolutely vital, for governments to get on top of this problem. We cannot afford to allow concerns about sovereign debt to spread into a wider crisis dealing with sovereign debt. Dealing with a banking crisis was bad enough. This would be worse.
    Well, that's nice. What then must we do? Raise taxes? Make "the rich" or banks or "speculators" top up the ludicrous pay, pensions and benefits of the public sector client class…legalised theft. But that induces contrary outcomes anyway as tax on the tapped out gets avoided and enterprise shrivels in the face of state theft. There's only one answer - shrink the state big time.

    Dead parrot Euro socialist v one pissed-off hedge fund manager:

    Confrontational, huh?

    Chris Christie confronts the New Jersey press:

    May 13, 2010

    Soccer is a contact sport

    3 weeks ago I had a clash of heads playing soccer. I was cut but cleaned myself up, walked away, applied ice at home and flew to Iceland a few hours later with a proud battle wound up top. The other player was concussed, but came to and had the presence of mind to demand photos. The guy had been lying on the hard floor for 15 minutes waiting for an ambulance in a widening pool of blood, but still smiled for a mug-shot. You've got to admire Australians. Here's what he looked like + my comment.

    May 10, 2010

    We take your money for the good of the world

    Today Obama nominates the morally repulsive Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. She is his "moderate" choice. This post is simply to record extracts from Powerline's terrific blog entry "A Note On Elena Kagan" :
    As Dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan had to deal with the issue of compliance with the Solomon Amendment. Under the Solomon Amendment, universities receiving federal funding are required to allow the armed services to recruit on campus like other employers. It is a law that shouldn't be necessary.

    Harvard Law School was one of many prominent law schools that chose to violate the Solomon Amendment, citing the military's don't ask/don't tell policy. The don't ask/don't tell policy is not just a whim of the armed forces. It is also the law of the land, but don't tell law school deans about it. They have to worry about matters closer to home, like their own schools' so-called nondiscrimination policies against hosting recruiters for employers that don't toe the line on homosexual rights.

    When the Department of Defense sent Harvard a notice that it intended to enforce the Solomon Amendment, Kagan announced that she would adhere to what I call the Yale Doctrine, in honor of the statement made by then-Yale Law Dean Anthony Kronman at the time:

    We would never put at risk the overwhelmingly large financial interests of the University in federal funding. We have a point of principle to defend, but we will not defend this--at the expense of programs vital to the University and the world at large.

    Dean Kronman paid a backhanded tribute to the "money talks" impetus behind the Solomon Amendment. Thus the Yale Doctrine: We take your money for the good of the world.

    Kagan's side decisively lost the FAIR case in the Supreme Court [9-0]. I wrote while the case was pending in the Supreme Court that some lawsuits deserve a fate worse than failure. While decent military recruiters suffered the rudeness of their purported betters at Yale Law School and elsewhere in silence, the armed services of the United States were (and are) actively defending the freedom of those schools from peril. The rank ingratitude of those who should know better is a disgrace that deserves to be widely recognized as such.
    Kagan doesn't have the guts to stand by her position that the military shouldn't be allowed to recruit because of "don't ask, don't tell", which of course was Clinton's compromise and is Obama's tho he mewls and pukes about it. And she doesn't have the guts to admit the highly relevant fact that she's homosexual.

    To paraphrase Powerline: Some nominees deserve a fate worse than failure and so do some Presidents. Has any President ever nominated such a gang of intellectual cowards, tax evaders, hacks, placemen, student revolutionaries and enemies of The West? Nope. The Manchurian President indeed.

    May 06, 2010

    The soul of soccer

    Tonight we'll know which swinish liberal opportunist will be running Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the next few years. At least if it's the faux-conservative Cameron there'll be a smattering of younger Thatcherites in the ranks as well as the PR spivs and parachuted victim groupies. And there'll be an outside chance of genocidally scaled-up throat-cutting in the public sector to slate my immediate bloodlust.

    As we await the result, there's a spot on comparison here between Gordon Brown and Rafa Benitez, manager of Liverpool Football Club, the direly underperforming quondam rulers of the world in club soccer.

    Brown: terse, prickly, combative; inspires great loyalty in a few (though not many Englishmen) and blanks those he feels have let him down
    Benitez: terse, prickly, combative; inspires great loyalty in a few (though not many Englishmen) and blanks those he feels have let him down.
    UK plc: needs astonishingly dynamic leadership to restore it to its traditional place in the world order
    Liverpool FC: needs astonishing sums of money and managerial skill to restore it to its rightful place in the league.
    UK plc: should have invested in infrastructure long ago (nuclear power, high speed rail, roads) if the economy is to thrive
    Liverpool FC: should have invested in a new stadium without which gate receipts are £2m-£3m less than Man Utd and Arsenal’s every week.

    But best are the comments:
    Liverpool, best known for being the only city in Europe where it’s easy to park. Just don’t expect your car to be there when you return.
    Just like Labour, the thieving gits.
    I dont remember Rafa B selling off all our gold at the lowest price he could get OR inviting a couple of million ne’er-do-wells to suck merrily at the teat of british tax payer largesse.
    It used to be so easy supporting Fulham. Every saturday we’d get beaten by the footballing equivalent of the Dagenham Girl’s School Choir 7-0 and that would be fine, well… not exactly fine but we came to accept the world as it was and life was easy, no stress, no hassle.
    Now we have started winning things, like football matches and it’s all a bit much.

    As Bill Shankly, the immortal former manager of Liverpool, said:
    “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.”
    And for good measure:
    “Me having no education. I had to use my brains.”
    “Aim for the sky and you'll reach the ceiling. Aim for the ceiling and you'll stay on the floor.”

    May 05, 2010

    Homeland Security

    Some things I've learnt about the failed NYC bombing

    1. There's a VIN on a car's engine as well as the dashboard. I knew that, but the bomber didn't. The next bomber will.

    2. A young, male, recently naturalised, Pakistani who has just spent 5 months in Pakistan, isn't on a watch list.

    3. Altho he'd been ID'd and was being sought, he was able to board a plane to Dubai at the main airport, JFK, of the very city he'd tried to bomb.

    4. Army planes intercepted his cell phone number
    He was hauled off a plane in the nick of time as it was about to fly to the Middle East. CBS 2 obtained air traffic control recording intended to stop the pilots from taking off. The controller alerts pilots to "immediately" return to the gate.

    In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
    Update - this page is now removed. Maybe the Administration reads this blog.

    5. Mayor Bloomberg's initial suggestion was that the terrorist might be someone disaffected by Obamacare. The rest of the liberal nomenklatura were probably rooting for the same wish-fulfillment.

    6. Mayor Bloomberg warns against threats against Muslims in the face of threats from nobody.

    7. President Obama says he will not rest to defend America against terrorism. Barack Obama's political career was launched at the home of his friend Bill Ayers, the notorious unrepentent terrorist co-founder of the Weathermen. The Weathermen are not affiliated with the tea-party movement. What's the phrase? Oh, yes, Obama was "palling around with terrorists". You might even call them a "death panel". Now this guy is President of America, defending my children.

    8. More comedy here:
    Senior administration officials say that Faisal Shahzad was put on the no fly list on Monday at 12:30 pm ET.

    So how was he able to board the Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai?

    “It takes a few hours for the airlines system to catch up,” a senior administration official tells ABC news.

    Another senior administration official adds that Emirates refreshes their system to update with US intelligence information periodically – but not frequently.

    Hold on, pardner. Even were it true that the proper function of the bureaucracy is to deflect responsibility for catching terrorists to airlines, there's no way to get on an international flight at JFK without showing your passport and boarding pass to the Department of Homeland Security.


    this self-congratulatory Administration will "keep it's foot on the throat of BP". It's like dealing with whiny children when the house is on fire. It may be noteworthy that the Obamans are demonizing BP = British Petroleum, but low-profile or silent about Transocean, the rig operator, and Cameron, which made the blow-out preventer which critically failed. Still it could have been worse. BP might have been jewish-ish like Goldman Sachs.

    The Dept of "The Buck Stops Here" - Not is busy right now what with blaming Emirates Airline for the NYC terrorist's near escape. Where does a hyperpower find adult supervision when its electorate makes infantile choices?

    An insufferable Brit

    The BBC is rotten with smug assholes like this:


    British politics for addicts

    There's a General Election here tomorrow. For me the best outcome would be for UKIP, the UK Independence Party, to do well enough to get the faux-conservative, Cameron, sacked from the Conservative Party leadership. In fact Cameron will likely be Prime Minister 2 days from now, a true triumph of Cultural Marxism, when supposed conservatives take liberal ideology as a given. But I still voted Conservative, dammit:


    Undulating up. Roll up! Roll up!

    Garry Kennard
    Art and Mind

    Here's the group from 1984:

    Garry, right; Gombu next to Garry; me 2nd left. One of Gombu's classic sayings to describe an excruciating path up a mountain is "undulating up".

    April 18, 2010

    Sympathy for a vampire squid

    Been catching up with the Goldman's Case. I find Henry Blodget pretty persuasive.

    Even if there was material non-disclosure outside industry norms tantamount to guilt in a civil case, the whole thing seems trivial unless part of a much vaster scam. Client (Paulson) asks GS to create a product to short the housing market, client proposes elements for the product, more than half those elements not selected by industry expert (Abacus) to compose the product, Abacus itself goes a billion long the product alongside other deep-pocket sophisticates including GS itself which loses $90m on it, then after the trade goes bad Abacus et al complain to the SEC that Goldman committed fraud by not naming Paulson as a short seller. Bollocks on stilts.

    From what I've seen so far this is a purely political case which is wilfully financially illiterate. Matt Taibbi, a left-wing journalist on Rolling Stone, famously wrote:
    The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money
    but even he thinks this is about politics.

    You know, this strikes me as a dumb move even by Obama's standards. The whole liberal project has flourished from the support of Wall Street Jews, many from Goldman Sachs, and Hollywood Jews. I know it's always tempting for demagogues to throw the Jew down the well (Borat reference, but the clip is boring) and Obama's doing his damnedest to throw Israel down the well and I know that the true religion of many American Jews is liberalism, but even they, even the liberal Jews in Hollywood, Wall Street, New Jersey and New York, must start to get what really animates Obama (and Obama's supporters and mentors like Wright and Farrakhan and Sharpton). Obama is trying to play America as tho America were an ignorant crowd of victim culture voters in Chicago. I'm not sure who Obama's friends will be once he's alienated the Jews, the Press, Middle America, Democrats in Congress, the Supreme Court. Blacks don't count since they vote monolithically for Obama already. Hispanics? I don't think so. They're not monolithic in politics and most have conservative family values.

    Goldman can win this one and the rest of capitalism, Jewish, Hispanic, black or blue, should line up with them. Also significant will be Obama's increasing isolation. Hey, New York, how do you like who you voted for? He wants to screw your biggest industry, he wants to screw your tax base, he wants to try KSM in Downtown Manhattan for a couple of years. Happy?

    Cramer too:

    April 16, 2010

    Lava saga

    I'm scheduled to fly to Iceland a week from now, but all UK flights and many others are halted by the ash blown across from a second, much bigger eruption:

    Vulcanologists are concerned about further, giganticker eruptions as the subterranean magma rivers gurgle around from volcano to volcano. I certainly don't want Iceland to blow up entirely before I've been and gone. After all I rather approve of the Icelanders telling the UK and Netherlands "can't pay, won't pay" in relation to their busted banks; they should just pay what they promised on the sticker to guarantee, as they've agreed, not induce further moral hazard by bailing out the improvident.

    Here's a shot from my trip 3 years ago of the mountain that's presently erupting:

    This is the mid-Atlantic rift shown near the site of the world's oldest parliament:

    You'd expect such weird geology to make an island rather numinous. Here's the sort of thing the Icelandic numina get up to:

    Now I'm on a roll, so I'll re-post a poem from my last visit:
    Rhubarb's a stem and not a fruit,
    Prunes and muesli make you toot,
    But snorchestras will drown out wind.
    Allegedly (I'm not convinced)
    Box jellyfish aren't jellyfish and
    Greenland is further east than Iceland.
    A Minister of Elvish Matters
    Defines the routes of roads and detours.
    Dottirs and ssons of Irish slaves
    Kill foxes, whales, whatever moves,
    And there's a certain charm in grimness,
    Tax evasion, drunken primness,
    Strapping horses, strapping women.
    Real men who smell of fish and semen.
    Volcanic science,
    Car-mangling giants,
    Fire and ice,
    I think it's nice.

    An albatross called Romneycare

    Romneycare and Obamacare are the same thing and that thing is socialism. "The individual mandate", ie compulsory health insurance, is an unconstitutional outrage.

    Now when you're a conservative governor of a lib-leaning state it's pretty tough to stay ideologically pure, but that's not the standard here. There are some lines that shouldn't be crossed.

    Romneycare does have mitigation. There's a profound difference between a state law and a federal law and Romneycare is a somewhat coherent, bi-partisan expression of the will of the voters of Massachusetts rather than the stinking crap sandwich with which Obama is choking an unwilling America, but there's no getting round the point that Romney implemented a technocratic solution to a problem that is primarily and rightly ideological. Moreover judged by technocratic criteria of medical provision and economy, Romneycare run by Deval Patrick and the Democrats is an utter flop:
    The system is riddled with waste, and quality of care is uneven. Government health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid threaten future generations with an enormous burden of debt and taxes. Given these pressures, the temptation for a quick fix is understandable.

    But, as Massachusetts has shown us, mandating insurance, restricting individual choice, expanding subsidies, and increasing government control isn’t going to solve those problems. A mandate imposes a substantial cost in terms of individual choice but is almost certainly unenforceable and will not achieve its goal of universal coverage. Subsidies may increase coverage, but will almost always cost more than projected and will impose substantial costs on taxpayers. Increased regulations will drive up costs and limit consumer choice.

    The answer to controlling health care costs and increasing access to care lies with giving consumers more control over their health care spending while increasing competition in the health care marketplace - not in mandates, subsidies, and regulation. That is the lesson we should be drawing from the failure of RomneyCare.

    Adamscare by the way is: No government involvement in healthcare other than as a safety net for children and those who put themselves at risk for the public good. The most obvious outcome will be healthier, happier, richer citizens, but the most satisfying outcome will be that liberals will no longer get to feel good about themselves by giving away my money.

    So where does this leave Romney? Is he viable? Yes he is. He's a strong executive when America is sick from communityorganizerocracy, the swing voter doesn't care so much about ideology and every candidate has major difficulties in their record. Those fade if the candidate looks electorally attractive at the national level.

    April 15, 2010

    A good-looking ticket

    I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Romney-Palin, 2012", so I'm glad that Palin seems open to it. Looks, fertility, life experience, sunniness, energy .... versus what? Obama/Biden - desiccated phonies with no experience of business or middle America who apologize for America's past and exude pessimism about America's future; the culture of life v the culture of death.

    Bring it on.

    April 14, 2010

    The Age of Obama

    For someone whose boyhood was punctuated by the latest marvel of space travel from Sputnik on, this is pretty poignant. The signatories' names have almost mythical weight:
    "America’s only path to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station will now be subject to an agreement with Russia to purchase space on their Soyuz (at a price of over 50 million dollars per seat with significant increases expected in the near future) until we have the capacity to provide transportation for ourselves. The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned in the President’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.

    "It appears that we will have wasted our current ten plus billion dollar investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we will have discarded.

    For The United States, the leading space faring nation for nearly half a century, to be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature. While the President's plan envisages humans traveling away from Earth and perhaps toward Mars at some time in the future, the lack of developed rockets and spacecraft will assure that ability will not be available for many years.

    Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downhill slide to mediocrity. America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.

    Neil Armstrong

    Commander, Apollo 11

    James Lovell

    Commander, Apollo 13

    Eugene Cernan

    Commander, Apollo 17

    New New Jersey

    I pay property taxes in New Jersey and my youngest children go to public school there. The school's very decent and I'm on good terms with a lovely Ghanaian-American teacher who did a fine job with one of my girls. She's liked me since I read Rikki Tikki Tavi with relish to her class in my weird English accent and I was glad to set up a website for her. She's a major Obama supporter, but I keep my nose clean on that score. The admirable head teacher is discreetly homosexual, so, what with Obama pix in classes, pc prohibitions on Christmas, unionization, overly protective rules against letting children outside in cold weather and so on, there's plenty of scope for societal collapse. In fact the school does a good job overall.

    Recently my wife was sent a petition against school staffing cuts by a parent who had voted for Chris Christie. That's the power of socialist propaganda. Governor Christie will need to do a terrific job of communication to overcome this most fearsome special interest - the teachers' union. I was struck by this comment in Powerline:
    if he somehow faces down the teachers' union, he may have a Calvin Coolidge kind of sequel in store.
    Coolidge was perhaps the best president in the twentieth century and made his name by facing down the Boston police union when Governor of Massachusetts. Here's Christie at work: