Monthly Archives: May 2014

Afternoon Links

Mark Cuban said this last week…

We’re all prejudiced in one way or the other. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. If on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of. And so, in my businesses, I try not to be hypocritical. I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house, and it’s not appropriate for me to throw stones.

…and was, of course, crucified for it by the Left, our moral betters, the non-humans among us who apparently never have normal human reactions. (Of course, they do, they just won’t admit it because their top priority is to feel superior to others, regardless of their actual behavior). Cuban is conveying a normal human reaction, as Naomi Schaefer Riley put it:

You’re a rational person making a set of reasonable calculations about your safety based on available information.The tragic fact is that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime. They are about 13 percent of the population, but between 1976 and 2005, blacks committed more than half of all murders in America.Sometimes, people who are wearing hoodies — or, say, baggy pants with no belts — are dressing to send a message. It’s an aggressive message, one glorified every day by rappers and other arbiters of black culture. And whether young men who dress in ghetto attire may intend that message for their friends or neighbors, they’re also sending a message to other folks, black or white, who don’t know them.The white man with a shaved head and a bunch of tattoos — whom Cuban also said he would avoid — is doing the same thing. He, too, is sending a message — that he doesn’t care what others think of him. And I, for one, will be more than happy to take the hint. I prefer to be around strangers who care about what society thinks of them. It suggests they will follow society’s other rules.We all act on incomplete information. Women regularly make the decision not to get into an elevator or a subway car with men they don’t know. It’s not that they assume all men are rapists or murderers. It’s simply that given a limited amount of knowledge, we make calculations about what is safe.

It’s not a race thing. I generally feel safer getting in an elevator with a Clarence Thomas than with an Eminem. It’s about how you present yourself to the world, and usually the only thing we can immediately judge is how a person is dressed. But, of course, to the Left EVERYTHING is about race and nothing else. Charles C.W. Cooke has a good piece on the Cuban situation and the Left’s false claim that they want to actually have a real conversation about race…

Yesterday, the ever-hysterical ThinkProgress summed up the underlying problem perfectly. Cuban, Travis Waldron griped in a notably confused post, has shown America “how not to start a conversation about racism.” On its face, this is a peculiar claim, is it not? Cuban did, quite literally and deliberately, start a conversation about racism. He talked about specifics, allowing that if he sees a “black kid in a hoodie” on his side of the street, he is prone to “move to the other side”; he personalized his contribution, self-critically contending that he was “prejudiced” and “bigoted in a lot of different ways”; and he broadened his point to society as a whole, positing that “none of us have pure thoughts; we all live in glass houses.” All in all, a pretty good way of kicking off the game. But, it seems, an unacceptable one, too. This, apparently, was not the conversation that the Left wished to have — nor, perhaps, the conversation that the majority of Americans wish to have. Here, the cynics are right when they claim that the sort of people who call for a “dialogue” in this area really want to hear a lecture, and that those who are ostensibly seeking merely to arrange a forum in which they can ask people what they think wish only that the people with the wrong views will out themselves with sufficient probity that they might be pilloried in public…Defending Cuban yesterday, a number of commentators pointed to a famous press conference in 1993, during which Jesse Jackson lamented that, “there is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery, then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved.” Why does it matter that Jackson said this? Not, I’d propose, because a black person’s having said it justifies any nefarious instincts that non-blacks might have. But because Jackson’s having admitted to it indicates just how widespread such fears are. Again, a useful response in this instance would not be to complain that Cuban’s professed fears might potentially hurt feelings and should therefore be kept quiet, but to inquire as to whether his inclination is warranted. One might discover that Jackson and Cuban are both overly afraid and should learn to be more judicious; or that it is destructive to minorities for collective crime statistics to so readily be put on the shoulders of innocent individuals; or that, while there is something rational to their fears, it nevertheless shows just how potent racial inequalities remain in everyday life. As it happens, if it says anything much at all, Cuban’s admission plays into the Left’s contention that there is widespread anxiety about black men in hoodies, and that this fear sometimes has fatal consequences. Whatever one’s view, shouldn’t his judgment be welcomed as a useful piece of information? Fleshing out his accusation of cowardice, [Eric] Holder lamented that “certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.” Once again, he was right. Any meaningful “conversation” dealing with a topic as weighty as race will have to be predicated on the ironclad understanding that contributors will not be crucified for their participation. We are not yet ready to offer that assurance. Mark Cuban broached one of Holder’s “certain subjects” and he took an honest shot at exploring it. For his troubles, he has been embarrassed and his character has been questioned. Far from encouraging others to contribute, such a reaction is all but guaranteed to ensure that others will demur from following the example. Who among us will bare our souls if only to have stakes driven through them by our self-appointed judges? Not Mark Cuban. Not me. Not anybody else in the nation of cowards.

And the inability to ever be able to talk about this stuff leads to the political correctness that leads to absolutely awful stuff like this: “Police accused of failing to investigate paedophile gang for fear of appearing racist.”

The nine men from Rochdale were yesterday convicted of abusing five vulnerable teenagers after plying them with alcohol, food and small sums of money in return for sex.However, the true number of victims, who were “passed around” by the gang, is likely to be nearer to 50, police have admitted.Greater Manchester Police and the Crown Prosecution Service have now apologised after they failed to bring the case of the first victim – Girl A – to trial following her cry for help in August 2008.One 13 year-old victim became pregnant and had the child aborted while another was forced to have sex with 20 men in one night, Liverpool Crown Court heard.Complaints to social workers and the police were ignored because they were “petrified of being called racist”, former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said. Mrs Cryer, who has campaigned to bring the issue of Asian sex gangs to light, said the girls had been “betrayed” and condemned to “untold misery” by the police and social services. “This is an absolute scandal. They were petrified of being called racist and so reverted to the default of political correctness,” she said.”They had a greater fear of being perceived in that light than in dealing with the issues in front of them.”Girl A told police that she had been raped and provided DNA evidence from her attacker, however the CPS twice decided not to prosecute him.


J.R.R. Tolkien translated Beowulf. It’s finally been published. Here’s a review.

Summer is upon us. Be thankful you live in a country where you can enjoy it. Reporting from Iran, here’s Kimia Barzegar:

On the first weekend of the American beach season, most people in the United States won’t be pondering how difficult, frustrating and humiliating it is to try to enjoy the sea if you are swaddled in multiple layers of cloth. But in Iran, there are some sectors of society that seem obsessed with enforcing the rules against exposing a female’s flesh or, indeed, the shape of her body. Among those groups: the Iranian coast guard, which has mounted an operation it calls “Wholesome Sea” to patrol the coast for women who might offend against the draconian dress codes or dare to get their cloaked bodies wet in sight of men. Altogether, Iran’s coastlines stretch for 2,700 kilometers ( almost 1,700 miles) in the north on the Caspian Sea and in the South on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. For Iranian women, however, these vast beaches are a reminder of nothing but prohibitions and frustrated yearnings. On most of them, women are not allowed to swim at all, regardless of whether they are alone or are accompanied by their families. They can only enter water on beaches specially designed for women. And those, as the saying goes, are separate, and not equal. A Woman-only beach is a part of the sea enclosed on four sides—yes, all four sides—without any view in or out. Yet even these can be found in only a few coastal cities…The shores of the Caspian offer the most attractive strands in Iran but, especially in tourist seasons, police officers fan out across the sand to make sure no women dare to take a dip. The first barrier for women is the Islamic dress code or hijab. If there are no police around, you might see women who have waded into the water, fully dressed in coats, pants and headscarves. Some find it too cumbersome to swim with such heavy clothing, as you might expect, so they opt to take some small pleasure from just walking on the beach…The restrictions have turned most women into mere spectators who watch men swimming. On very rare occasions, of course, they walk into the sea, heavy clothing and all. Even this mode of swimming comes under the heavy criticism of religious elements, some of the officials and the conservative media, perhaps fearful that a wet chador will be just too provocative.

Kevin Williamson has a great response to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s reparations piece. Here’s an excerpt, but read the whole thing.

Mr. Coates does not spare the New Dealers, who enacted a raft of progressive policies that were in many cases designed to exclude or disadvantage African Americans. Contrary to the convenient myth related by our contemporary liberals, there was no substantial conflict between Democratic liberals and Democratic segregationists on most of the progressive agenda — the progressives and the segregationists were, in the main, the same people, and the so-called conservative Democrats in the South were very enthusiastic about federal regulation of businesses, the minimum wage, social insurance, and welfare programs, so long as they could be structured in a way that would not benefit blacks very much. But Mr. Coates does not give much consideration to the possibility that a similar dynamic still is at work among our 21st-century progressives — not in the sense that white progressives see their own interests being in direct competition with those of black Americans, but in the sense that programs run for the theoretical benefit of the poor, who are disproportionately black, are in fact run for the benefit of the largely white upper-middle-class bureaucrats who are employed by them. The teachers’ unions’ steadfast and occasionally hysterical opposition to school-reform programs intended to help the overwhelmingly black population of Washington, D.C., is a dramatic example of that, the full import of which does not seem to have settled upon the mind of Mr. Coates, who is himself a product of the backward Baltimore public-school system…Mr. Coates does not make the case so much for reparations as for a South Africa–style truth-and-reconciliation commission. “The crime with which reparations activists charge the country implicates more than just a few towns or corporations. The crime indicts the American people themselves, at every level, and in nearly every configuration. A crime that implicates the entire American people deserves its hearing in the legislative body that represents them.” The purpose of a debate on a reparations bill of the sort being offered by John Conyers Jr. is not so much to construct a program of economic compensation as it is to have another verse of that Democratic hymn, an honest conversation about race. (As though we ever talked about anything else.) And this gets to the real defect in Mr. Coates’s approach. The purpose of public policy in this area can be one of two things. The first is a program focused on trying to improve in real terms the lives of those who are poorly off and those born into circumstances that are likely to lead to their being poorly off adults, proceeding with the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that such programs will disproportionately benefit black Americans, as they should. The second option is a symbolic political process designed to confer a degree of psychic satisfaction on relatively well-off men and women such as Ta-Nehisi Coates…Mr. Coates engages in what certainly feels like a little misdirection. Responding to the very fair criticism that public policy designed to help the disadvantaged should distinguish between, say, the Obama daughters and those without their advantages, Mr. Coates is having none of it: “In the contest of upward mobility, Barack and Michelle Obama have won. But they’ve won by being twice as good—and enduring twice as much.” The truth or untruth of that claim can only be ascertained by asking the question that Mr. Coates is committed to ignoring: “Compared with whom?” Did Barack or Michelle Obama inherit disadvantages that forced them to perform twice as well, and bear twice as much, as a white woman born into horrific poverty in Appalachia? A white orphan? A white immigrant escaping the Third Reich? A racial disadvantage is only one of many kinds of disadvantages that can be inherited — why should it be the one around which we organize ourselves? Mr. Coates himself comes from a fairly modest background, but he, a man without an undergraduate degree, is a visiting scholar at MIT, one of the most exclusive academic institutions in the world, a position he enjoys as part of a program that excludes whites. (“The Program is open to individuals of any minority group, with an emphasis on the appointment of African Americans.”) There are, of course, many programs of that sort, and it is possible that poor whites resent them more than they should — the view from Owsley County, Ky, or from Lubbock, Texas, might make it difficult to see the so-called white supremacy that is so unmistakably obvious to Mr. Coates. But dealing with that reality inescapably entails treating people as individuals, and treating people as individuals makes reparations morally and intellectually impossible — even if we accept in toto Mr. Coates’s argument that the brutal imposition of white-supremacist policies is the entire basis for the relative social positions of blacks and whites in the United States in 2014. Which is to say: Even if we accept the facts of aggregate advantage and disadvantage with their roots in historical injustice, the aggregate cannot be converted into the collective inasmuch as neither advantage nor disadvantage is universal on either side nor linked to a straightforward chain of causality. Some blacks are born into college-educated, well-off households, and some whites are born to heroin-addicted single mothers, and even the totality of racial crimes throughout American history does not mean that one of these things matters and one does not. Once that fact is acknowledged, then the case for reparations is only moral primitivism: My interests are inextricably linked to my own kin group and directly rivalrous with yours, i.e., the very racism that this program is in theory intended to redress. Mr. Coates also, I think, miscalculates what the real-world effects of converting our liberal conception of justice into a system of racial appropriation might mean. There are still, after all, an awful lot of white people, and though many of them might be inclined to make amends under some sort of racial truce following the process Mr. Coates imagines, many of them might simply be inclined to prevail. The fact is that the situation of African Americans in the United States has improved precisely to the extent that whites have begun to forgo tribalism and to genuinely commit themselves to the principles of liberalism, the long march toward a more perfect Union. The alternative — a system of exclusive interests in which black and white operate effectively in opposition — is not only morally repugnant, but likely to undermine the genuine political and economic interests of African Americans…Mr. Coates is largely correct about the past and is to a degree correct about the present. About the future, he is catastrophically wrong. The political interests of African Americans, like those of other Americans, are best served by equality under the law. The economic interests of African Americans, like those of other Americans, are best served by a dynamic and growing economy, preferably one in which the labor force is liberated from the dysfunctional, antique Prussian model of education that contributes so much to black poverty. The people to whom reparations were owed are long dead; our duty is to the living, and to generations yet to come, and their interests are best served by liberty and prosperity, not by moral theater.

George Will and I have the same presidential candidate fantasy. This. A thousand times this. Here’s an excerpt, but again, read the whole thing.

“Candidates are constantly asked, ‘Where will you take the country?’ My answer is: ‘Nowhere.’ The country is not a parcel to be ‘taken’ anywhere. It is the spontaneous order of 316 million people making billions of daily decisions, cooperatively contracting together, moving the country in gloriously unplanned directions. “To another inane question, ‘How will you create jobs?,’ my answer will be: ‘I won’t.’ Other than by doing whatever the chief executive can to reduce the regulatory state’s impediments to industriousness…“Congress, defined by the Constitution’s Article I, is properly the first, the initiating branch of government. So, I will veto no bill merely because I disagree with the policy it implements. I will wield the veto power only on constitutional grounds — when Congress legislates beyond its constitutionally enumerated powers, correctly construed, as they have not been since the New Deal. So I expect to cast more vetoes than the 2,564 cast by all previous presidents…“In a radio address to the nation, President Franklin Roosevelt urged Americans to tell him their troubles. Please do not tell me yours. Tell them to your spouse, friends, clergy — not to a politician who is far away, who doesn’t know you and whose job description does not include Empathizer in Chief. ‘I feel your pain,’ Bill Clinton vowed. I won’t insult your intelligence by similarly pretending to feel yours…“A congenial society is one in which most people most of the time, and all politicians almost all of the time, say, when asked about almost everything: ‘This is none of my business.’ If as president I am asked what I think about the death of a rock star, or the imbecilic opinions of rich blowhards who own professional sports teams, I will say: ‘Americans should have no interest in my thoughts about such things, if I had any.’ I will try not to come to the attention of any television camera more than once a week, and only that often if I am convinced that I can speak without violating what will be my administration’s motto: ‘Don’t speak unless you can improve the silence.’ “I will not ruin any more American evenings with televised State of the Union addresses. I will mail my thoughts on that subject to Congress ‘from time to time,’ as the Constitution directs. This was good enough for Jefferson and every subsequent president until Woodrow Wilson, the first president who believed, as progressives do, that the nation cannot function without constant presidential tutoring and hectoring…“Finally, there have been 44 presidencies before the one I moderately aspire to administer, and there will be many more than 44 after it. Mine will be a success if, a century hence, Americans remember me as dimly as they remember Grover Cleveland, the last Democratic president with proper understanding of this office’s place in our constitutional order.”

Check out London’s slimmest house with a width of 99 inches. It’s currently on the market for £450,000.

This makes me want to set things on fire.

In the time that has passed since the Styles section last reported on hand-lift procedures (March 15, 2012), doctors are saying that they are seeing more newly engaged women come in specifically with the selfie in mind. “Absolutely, the rise in social media is a reason people are getting a ton of stuff done, not just to their hands,” said Dr. David Bank, the director of the Center for Dermatology in Mount Kisco, N.Y., who has been offering hand lifts since 2005 and has conducted studies on hand injectables…In Ms. Valencis’ quest for that perfect selfie of her diamond-adorned hand, she contracted for a series of six intense pulsed light (I.P.L.) and chemical-peel treatments and two syringes of an injected gel substance called Juvéderm Voluma XC for a total of $3,000.

Our society is so dumb.

Oh my god, Zuckerberg’s money went to the unions instead of the children. Oh the shock. Who could have possibly predicted that?

In his first major show of philanthropy, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made a splash by announcing his plan to give $100 million to help turn around Newark, New Jersey’s public schools in an appearance on Oprah in 2010. But nearly four years later, Zuckerberg’s money has run out, having been spent mostly on labor contracts and consulting fees with no noticeable improvement in student performance, a report in the New Yorker reveals.

The IRS is coming for your frequent flyer miles and hotel points.

“I don’t even like cheese.” This guy should be tarred and feathered. Shameful.

Can’t say I blame them. British literature is far superior to American literature.

For decades, British students have grown up reading the American classics To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men and The Crucible. Now, if students want to read those books, it will be on their own time. Harper Lee, John Steinbeck and Arthur Miller are out — perhaps replaced by the likes of Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and George Eliot. British Education Secretary Michael Gove has decided that the English literature list for a national exam needs to be more English, so he is swapping American texts in the curriculum for British ones…In a statement, the U.K. Department of Education insisted that no books have been banned. The new guidance “does ensure pupils will learn about a wide range of literature, including at least one Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel written anywhere, and post-1914 fiction or drama written in the British Isles,” a department spokesperson said. The statement also notes that the curriculum sets out minimum requirements and that teachers are free to add any additional texts to the syllabus.

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Filed under Around the World, Literature, The Left, Uncategorized

Video of the Day


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May 26, 2014 · 11:11 pm

Land of the Free, because of the Brave

Humbled and grateful to those who have served and sacrificed throughout the centuries so that their countrymen, and those yet unborn, can enjoy living in freedom in the greatest country on Earth. As long as I have breath in my body, I won’t let their sacrifice be in vain.


“Bivouac of the Dead” by Theodore O’Hara (Excerpts below, read the whole poem and its history here.)

The muffled drum’s sad roll has beat
The soldier’s last tattoo;
No more on Life’s parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On fame’s eternal camping ground
Their silent tents to spread,
And glory guards, with solemn round
The bivouac of the dead.

The neighing troop, the flashing blade,
The bugle’s stirring blast,
The charge, the dreadful cannonade,
The din and shout, are past;
Nor war’s wild note, nor glory’s peal
Shall thrill with fierce delight
Those breasts that nevermore may feel
The rapture of the fight.

Twas in that hour his stern command
Called to a martyr’s grave
The flower of his beloved land,
The nation’s flag to save.
By rivers of their father’s gore
His first-born laurels grew,
And well he deemed the sons would pour
Their lives for glory too.

Sons of the Dark and Bloody Ground
Ye must not slumber there,
Where stranger steps and tongues resound
Along the heedless air.
Your own proud land’s heroic soil
Shall be your fitter grave;
She claims from war his richest spoil —
The ashes of her brave.

Rest on embalmed and sainted dead!
Dear as the blood ye gave;
No impious footstep here shall tread
The herbage of your grave;
Nor shall your glory be forgot
While Fame her record keeps,
For honor points the hallowed spot
Where valor proudly sleeps.

Yon marble minstrel’s voiceless stone
In deathless song shall tell,
When many a vanquished ago has flown,
The story how ye fell;
Nor wreck, nor change, nor winter’s blight,
Nor time’s remorseless doom,
Can dim one ray of glory’s light
That gilds your deathless tomb.


Some Memorial Day links: An inside look at the solemn rites at Arlington National Cemetery; Jonathan Tobin on remembering the need to finish the work our heroes have begun; how Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. made the first Memorial Day; and lastly, how to make an American flag out of bacon.

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Quote for the Day

From this amazing commencement speech by the man who led the bin Laden raid, American hero, Navy SEAL Admiral William H. McRaven…

While these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all…Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough. Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle, it just wasn’t good enough. The instructors would find “something” wrong.For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed, into the surfzone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand. The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.There were many students who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right, it was unappreciated.Those students didn’t make it through training. Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform, you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.If you want to change the world, get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events. Long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle. Every event had standards, times that you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards, your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to a “circus.” A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit. No one wanted a circus. A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue, and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely. But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list. Yet an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Over time those students, who did two hours of extra calisthenics, got stronger and stronger. The pain of the circuses built inner strength—built physical resiliency. Life is filled with circuses. You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core. But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses…Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training. Just ring the bell.If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away from starting to change the world—for the better.It will not be easy.But start each day with a task completed. Find someone to help you through life. Respect everyone. Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then the next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today. And what started here will indeed have changed the world, for the better.

Do go and read the whole thing.

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Poem for the Weekend

The Daniel Hannan article I posted the other day reminded me of this poem…

“On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again” by John Keats (1818)

O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!

Fair plumed Siren! Queen of far away!

Leave melodizing on this wintry day,

Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:

Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute

Betwixt damnation and impassioned clay

Must I burn through; once more humbly assay

The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearean fruit.

Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,

Begetters of our deep eternal theme,

When through the old oak forest I am gone,

Let me not wander in a barren dream,

But when I am consumed in the fire,

Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

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Weekend Links

Just FYI America, Senate Democrats spent their day yesterday bitching about a football team and blocking a bill that would make it possible to fire bureaucrats when people die because of them. The bill had passed in the House despite the opposition of 33 Democrats.

This Harry Potter-themed wedding is the best thing ever.

Will this monster ever die?

This February 3,000 families were driven out of an area in southeast Zimbabwe known as Tokwe-Mukosi when flood waters rose dramatically. The flood was proclaimed a “national disaster” by Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe, after state media reported it was caused by the broken wall of a dam. International donors pledged food and humanitarian aid, which has been steadily delivered. In an operation conducted partly by the military, the displaced and destitute families — about 20,000 people — were quickly whisked off and resettled in a “transit camp” of tents 80 miles away, on something called the Nuanetsi Ranch. The ranch is home to sugarcane fields that feed a large ethanol production facility that is also on the ranch. The sugar cane and ethanol project is jointly owned by Mr. Mugabe’s political party, Zanu (PF), and a controversial Zimbabwe businessman named Billy Rautenbach, sometimes called “Africa’s Napoleon.” From the moment the 3,000 families were relocated, they were told that their new employment was filling a sugarcane farming labor shortage. They were also advised that distribution of their donated food aid was contingent on their work. Now a Human Rights Watch investigation alleges not only that the families were commandeered as a form of cheap labor to serve Mr. Mugabe’s energy business interests – but that the flood itself was artificially created. There is no broken dam wall, the investigation found.

Today in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Just how repressive is Iranian culture toward women? So repressive that Iranian actress Leila Hatami may be publicly flogged for greeting the Cannes Film Festival president with a kiss on the cheek, according to the Telegraph. Hatami, an award-winning actress, was photographed Sunday kissing Gilles Jacob, the president of the Cannes Film Festival. The photo sparked outrage at the time among Iranian authorities…The outrage comes from Iran’s interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, which states that a woman may not have physical contact (even a peck on the cheek) with a man not in her family. But it was a group of university students — with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard — who filed a formal complaint against the actress on Wednesday…Hatami was also criticized for wearing a scarf that did not cover the crown of her head. If convicted of “kissing a strange man,” Hatami could face prison time and a maximum penalty of 50 lashes.

In which Jonathan Tobin beats the historically illiterate Ezra “the Constitution is 100 years old” Klein.

“Mr. President, our consulate is under attack, people are dying, should we call on the military to see what they can do?”
“Nah, but we should definitely call YouTube right away and tell them to censor speech.”

A  still-classified State Department e-mail says that one of the first responses from the White House to the Benghazi attack was to contact YouTube to warn of the “ramifications” of allowing the posting of an anti-Islamic video, according to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.The memo suggests that even as the attack was still underway — and before the CIA began the process of compiling talking points on its analysis of what happened — the White House believed it was in retaliation for a controversial video.

You want to make $15 an hour? Here’s an idea: ACQUIRE A SKILL. Something beyond what a teenager can do.

Ed Whelan takes Dahlia Lithwick to the woodshed.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a long article (it’s twice as long as it needs to be) that’s worth reading in The Atlantic this month on the case for reparations. William Jacobson and John McWhorter have the best responses so far. First from Jacobson:

Coates never gives the answer as to who gets what and how. And that’s ultimately the problem with reparations arguments that are not based upon the people causing the harm paying the people directly harmed by specific conduct soon after the conduct is remedied. If you can’t answer the question of why a Vietnamese boat person has to pay reparations for the conduct of white plantation owners more than a century earlier, then you can’t make the argument. If you can’t answer the question of why two successful black doctors living in a fashionable suburb should get reparations paid for by the white children of Appalachia, then you can’t make the argument. If you can’t answer the question of why the adult black recent immigrant from Paris should be pay or be paid reparations based on the color of his skin for crimes committed in a land he did not grow up in, then you can’t make the argument. And what about the increasing number of children of mixed race? And I could go on and on. Ultimately, Coates’ argument is a dead end. And he seems to recognize that. He wants a permanent inquisition, a guilt commission…As if we have not been having that conversation and playing on that collective guilt for three generations. And as if we have not thrown trillions at the problem, and sullied ourselves with engaging in more racism to remedy past racism. And as if we live in a static world were it’s always 1863, or at best 1963, and people are captive victims to history, including history in which they did not participate. While Coates article will be celebrated because it so much fits the mainstream liberal narrative, it’s ultimately a backwards looking road to nowhere.

And from McWhorter:

[Coates] is ultimately presenting an extended version of a now traditional call among educated black people for a “conversation” on race. The idea is that the civil rights revolution was incomplete, and that black people will only truly overcome when America as a whole comes to a full and penitent understanding of the role that racism has played in black people’s past and present. Not just in the form of bad words and real-estate covenants, but as an institutional un-leveler of the playing field, as a micro-aggressional poison in social interactions, as what many term “what America has always been all about.” Yet one can fully acknowledge the scourge that racism is and has been while being perplexed at a depiction of America as somehow blind to it. Far from turning a blind eye to the issue, America would seem rather obsessed with race, and has been for a long time…Despite frequent claims that America “doesn’t want to talk about race,” we talk about it 24/7 amidst ringing declamations against racism on all forms. Over the past year’s time, I need only mention Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen, Cliven Bundy, and Donald Sterling. Over the past few years, three of the best-selling and most-discussed nonfiction books have been Isabel Wilkerson’s chronicle of the Great Migration, The Warmth of Other Suns, Rebecca Skloot’s book about the harvesting of a black woman’s cancer cells (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks), and Michelle Alexander’s invaluable The New Jim Crow. And let’s not forget recent major release films such as The Help, 12 Years a Slave, and The Butler…Can we really say that these are signs of a nation in denial about race, racism, and its history? Yet for writers like Coates, somehow none of this is enough. A shoe has yet to drop. We remain an “America that looks away,” “ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future.” But what, exactly, is the suggestion here? Surely not that no racism exist anywhere in the country—but what, then? In exactly what fashion could 317 million people “reckon” or come to certain eternally elusive “terms” with racism? Especially in a way that would satisfy people who see even America’s current atonements as insufficient?…Would the “coming to terms,” once it had happened, be enough? Imagine: “Okay. The acknowledgment has been expressed. I accept it, and now, finally we can move on.” I just can’t see it. More likely would be “They better not think they can just say sorry and be done with it.” One imagines the tweets: “400 years and it’s all over with a Conversation? #ItsNotOver.”…In a hundred years, who will look back and say that black America would have been better off in the early twenty-first century if there had been a national Reparational Realization about race?…It would seem that what black America needs is not for white and other people to “understand” us or our past, but for us to be assisted in making our future brighter than our present, secure in “understanding” ourselves, thank you very much. The War on Drugs must end, since with its demise, acrimonious and often lethal interactions between the police and young black men would cease as a foundational experience of being black. In schools, few are aware of how magical the effect would be of reading programs that actually work for poor kids, as I have written about here. We must utilize the reality of Obamacare to bring black America into a new relationship with the health-care system. Efforts to coach poor black parents on child care, having results in programs such as the Harlem Children’s Zone, should be taken to scale. All of those things can happen—and in fact, are happening—without the profound national transformation in thought that writers like Coates seek.

Twitter has agreed to block “blasphemous” tweets in Pakistan. Cowards.

Dumb (Krugman), Dumber (Klein) and Dumbest (Kristof) all praised the “success” of the VA’s socialized medicine model. From Ace:

It is not a bureaucrat’s actual job to provide good service to the client; his actual job is to appear to his superiors that he’s providing good service to the client. Actually, this is everyone’s real job, of course. But in a system in which there is only one vendor, where there is an established government monopoly, the bureaucrat is free to game the system in ways in which a private vendor could not. The private vendor would ultimately be fired if he continued only working to make it appear on paperwork that he’d done a good job. The actual client would know the truth of it, and quit the service. And eventually enough customers would quit, and the management of the private firm would start to wonder why they were getting so many complaints and terminations, and would eventually work to fix it. (Or, of course: They’d go bankrupt.) But that can’t happen when the Government is the only game in town. The left likes to talk about the David vs. Goliath nature of a citizen being abused by a large and powerful corporation. The corporation has endless resources and personnel; the individual in conflict with the corporation has rather less. That’s true, of course. But the stupidity of the left is its abject refusal to see that The Government is a corporation, and is in fact the most powerful, richest, and most heavily armed corporation in the history of the world. The left endlessly rages against misbehaving corporations with one-one thousandth of the resources of the government, and of course none of the government’s armed agents and prison wardens, and endlessly fights to take power out of the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated unarmed corporation… and put that power into the hands of the misbehaving, selfishly-motivated armed corporation. They’re never quite able to understand this: The conservative preference for power in private hands isn’t that we love big, unaccountable, guild-agenda-serving corporations. It’s that the alternative ever proposed by the left is just an even bigger, more unaccountable, more guild-agenda-serving corporation called the US Government. And you can’t quit the US Government without quitting the the United States itself.

Despite being strapped for cash, the Illinois state government is spending more than $1,000 per bird on relocating prairie chickens into the state. That’s right. More than one thousand dollars. PER BIRD.

State aircraft are flying to Kansas and transporting prairie chickens back to Illinois, according to Prairie chickens are an endangered species. Fourteen flights have been made between Illinois and Kansas this year, taking the prairie chickens to downstate Jasper and Marion counties. The prairie chicken program will get $337,000 from the federal government and $117,000 from the state. So far this year, the state has relocated 50 cocks and 41 hens — that’s $1,166 per bird.

The dining room is slowly disappearing in favor of libraries and dens. I approve.

Watching King Lear is one of the bleakest – and best – ways to spend three hours. Daniel Hannan explains.

Ben couldn’t sell pottery and Jerry couldn’t get into med school. So they turned to ice cream.

Ian McEwan sells his literary archive for $2 million.

Ian McEwan’s literary archive – including abandoned stories, early drafts of novels, letters from other writers and about 17 years of emails – is heading to Texas after it was bought by the Harry Ransom Center for $2m (£1.2m). The centre, a humanities research library and museum which is part of the University of Texas at Austin, said it had acquired an archive belonging to “one of the most distinguished novelists of his generation”…The centre already holds the archives of McEwan’s friend, Julian Barnes, as well as JM Coetzee, Doris Lessing and Tom Stoppard…The archive will include material from his childhood and adolescence as well as scrapbooks his mother kept. There will be letters he received from literary figures including Christopher Hitchens, David Lodge, Harold Pinter, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and – tantalisingly – his complete email correspondence from 1997. And there will be lots of material relating to his novels including Amsterdam, On Chesil Beach and Solar.

The cyclist who saved Jews in wartime Italy: Awesome story.

Gino Bartali won his first Giro d’Italia in 1936, retaining the title in 1937. Then – to Italy’s delight – he won the 1938 Tour de France. It was a moment the country’s fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, had been looking forward to eagerly. “Mussolini believed that if an Italian rider triumphed in the Tour it would show that Italians too belonged to the master race,” says Bartali’s son Andrea in Jacoby’s film…Bartali was invited to dedicate his win to Mussolini, but refused. It was a grave insult to il duce and a big risk to take…Bartali, a devout Catholic, was asked by the Cardinal of Florence, Archbishop Elia Dalla Costa, to join a secret network offering protection and safe passsage to Jews and other endangered people. His role in the network was uniquely suited to his talents – he became a courier. On the face of it he was undertaking the long training rides for which he was renowned, but in reality he was carrying photographs and counterfeit identity documents to and from a secret printing press. All were hidden in the frame and handlebars of his bicycle…Approximately 80% of Italian and refugee Jews living in Italy before World War Two survived, partly thanks to the efforts of Italian sympathisers…Andrea Bartali says that eventually little by little his father told him about his actions during the war but made him promise not to tell anyone at that time. “He didn’t want to be acknowledged for what he had done: few of those he helped ever knew his name or what role he had played in their rescue,” says Jacoby. Last September he was posthumously awarded with the honour Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and education centre in Jerusalem. “When Bartali was stopped and searched, he specifically asked that his bicycle not be touched since the different parts were very carefully calibrated to achieve maximum speed,” the citation points out. Andrea Bartali says his father refused to view his actions as heroic. “When people were telling him, ‘Gino, you’re a hero’, he would reply: ‘No, no – I want to be remembered for my sporting achievements. Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their soul, in their heart, in their spirit, in their mind, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. I’m just a cyclist.'”

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Firearms Friday

Charles C.W. Cooke with the ridiculous tale of a woman in Colorado who had her gun in the car when she got in a car accident and then couldn’t get her gun back from the cops. Colorado’s gun laws are absurd. It’s too complicated to pull quotes from, so just read it. It’s not long.

A great piece by Rachel Lu on living a completely gun-free life…until now. Here’s an excerpt:

Liberal arguments against guns tend to presume the worst: that a yearning for gun ownership must in some way be rooted in the desire to hurt. But gun culture at its best is rooted in a desire to protect, and especially to protect the people we love. Even for those who are unlikely to need deadly force for that purpose, there can still be significance to having the capacity. The point isn’t that the police are untrustworthy. Part of the point is that the police can’t be everywhere at once. Even more importantly, though, fathers naturally feel on a deep level that they, not the state, are the primary protectors of their families. It’s distressing that people so often fail to take this seriously. A relative was appalled that my husband would want a gun “with little kids in the house.” It didn’t seem to occur to her that that was precisely why he wanted it; as a bachelor he never worried about such things. Now he feels responsible for the safety of our children, and for my safety. Reflecting on the matter, I realized that I too implicitly assign him that role. If we were woken in the night by the sounds of an intruder, and he asked me to go check it out, I’d definitely feel betrayed. Given that fact, I guess I have to respect his wish to own a gun. I did jokingly suggest that we could protect ourselves more effectively by filling our property with Second Amendment bumper stickers and yard signs. Since we live in an intensely liberal neighborhood, we’d definitely pay a social price for that. But if you were a burglar scoping out possible marks, would you choose the one house on the block that appeared to be owned by N.R.A. zealots? Probably not. Truthfully though, we’re probably just the sort of people who should own a gun. We have no history of violence. We don’t take the responsibility lightly. We’re likely the only people on the block with a firearm in the house, so if emergency neighborhood protection should ever be required, we’re it. And on some level, I wouldn’t really want my sons growing up with the Gun vs. No-Gun paradigm. I want them to be the sort of men who protect their families. I want them to see the distinction between embracing violence, accepting it and opposing it. I like the idea that taking care of people will mean more to them than just calling the professionals. So that’s another Constitutional freedom exercised. If any troops should be looking for quarters, don’t come knocking. I’m on a roll this week.

David Harsanyi on why you shouldn’t boycott Chipotle over their new gun “ban.”

For those of you that haven’t heard, the Mexican food restaurant chain Chipotle, which for years allowed local open and concealed laws to dictate store policy, has decided to “ask” customers not to bring firearms into its stores after some zealous gun owners paraded around with “military-style assault rifles” at a local Texas store. What’s more probable, though, is that well-funded anti-Second Amendment activists exploited a single unfortunate incident to badger a pliable corporation into a bad decision. Cue the calls for boycott from 2nd Amendment fans. There’s really nothing inherently wrong with the idea. Though there’s nothing very productive about it either. On personal level, if I participated in boycotts every time a company slighted my ideological sensibilities, I wouldn’t be able to watch a movie, listen to music, read a novel or basically do anything but hole up in a bunker. I am far more inclined to support businesses that stand up to government meddling or ones that are targeted by boycotters that I dislike…As a 2nd Amendment fan, I believe Chipotle is making a mistake. Yet, it isn’t exactly undermining our Constitutional rights by asking consumers to keep their guns out of their businesses…Though Chipotle acted for the wrong reasons, it has every right to create an experience for its consumers that it finds safe and inviting. Fact is, if the CEO of Qdoba’s was a libertarian plutocrat who supported all my favorite organizations, I’d still choose Chipotle because when it comes to food I owe more to a good product than a philosophically sound owner. Chipotle was founded on an exemplary idea and its execution and consistency have won my business — even when I disagree with its choices. Now, if this company was forking over millions to some finger-wagging Michael Bloomberg-funded gaggle of authoritarians I’d would probably have to reconsider. But, as far as I know, that’s not the case…Moreover, boycotts are typically pretty ineffective – or, when they are successful, they end up hurting people who have nothing to do with the decisions that have upset everyone…And anyway, if conservatives are in the mood to boycott bad actors, there are plenty around that have committed far more egregious sins against America.

Choosing the right handgun for target shooting.

Democrats want millions of dollars to treat guns as if they are diseases at the CDC.

Quietly, and rather politely, Britain is getting a gun lobby.

How gun silencers work:

When it comes to undesired noises, silencing guns is the same thing as silencing incessant yammerers. It all comes down to dealing with hot gas. When a cork pops out of a champagne bottle, a lid pops off an over-heated jar, or a bullet shoots from a gun; they all result in a sound. High pressure gas is released so suddenly that we can hear the waves of pressure it makes as the waves travels through the air…A bullet explodes from a gun when gunpowder behind the bullet is ignited. It burns and releases gases violently and quickly. The bullet is the “lid,” sitting between the gases and the easiest point of exit from the gun barrel, and so it shoots out into the air. The gas behind it crashes into the air, making the ‘bang’ that most people associate with gunshots. Silencers, or “suppressors,” are all about finding ways to reduce the speed, volume, and temperature of that gas. They do so using various structures. One structure is just large chamber attached to the end of the gun barrel. This gives the expanding gas somewhere to expand into. It’s a little foyer that some of the gas can mill around in, instead of shooting all of it out of the gun at once. Another is a series of small chambers, almost a honeycomb made of metal. The many chambers make the flow of gas choppy, interrupted by diversions. The honeycomb also makes the gas flow over a large, metal surface area. Metal absorbs heat very well. All the heat that goes into the metal comes out of the gas. Since heat makes gas expand, losing some heat will make it contract. That contraction means less pressure, and that means less of a bang. But not none of a bang. When most guns fire, they create not one bang but two. The first is the expanding gas. The second is a sonic boom as the bullet breaks the sound barrier. There isn’t anything a silencer can do about that.

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