Where I Am in Lolita

I spend more time sleuthing for cultural references and allusions than simply reading it straight through. I still love it. I would recommend it for anything because it’s a perfect combination of derivative and originality (a lot of the latter, not to much of the former).

I can’t wait for the second read through.


Left or Right? Not Politics, but Driving.

Left or Right? Not Politics, but Driving.

Why do some countries drive on the left, and some drive on the right side of the road? 

Here’s one summary, which essentially says that Continental Europe was introduced to right hand driving by a combination of economic factors and the French Revolution. Originally everyone was on the left, because otherwise swords would hit coming the other way (swords were worn on the left because it’s easier to draw them from their scabbards than if worn on the right).

I thought it was interesting. I hope you enjoy reading. 


What I Discovered Today

What I Discovered Today

A long, long time ago in a university far, far away (meh, Star Wars is playing, don’t judge me because it’s on my mind) someone once told me that a centrist Democrat that was running for a local State Senate position was ’embarrassingly rightwing.’ Indeed he was rightwing this, rightwing that and I didn’t know what to make of it at the time. I’ve thought about it a lot. 

Anyhow, to cut short a long story you don’t rightly care about here is an equally ’embarrassingly rightwing’ site run by centrist Democrats. Miracles of miracles, it isn’t being run for apologetic purposes. There’s no shy, ‘I know I should be more liberal, but I was raised Southern’ (with a capital S, thankya) or belligerent ‘I am true, Blue Dog Democrat and a real sonofabitch.’ Eh, poor motifs I know. Point being, they are legitimate centrists. I’m in love. 

Mapping Judaism

Mapping Judaism

Courtesy of some fine fellows over at the Economist’s online side, the internet net now has a nifty graphic on Judaism. Who knew the U.S. was the second-favorite spot of Jews? 

A New York Times Miracle

Did you know that last January men and women sat together in a room to decide our future? They had to decide, once and for all, whether the world would face rising sea levels, the death of small furry mammals (that we all love unconditionally, unless you work at Chevron or Exxon) and higher levels of armpit perspiration? Insert more histrionics as needed. But, seriously, there was. It was in Bonn. To quote Via Media, “much was said and nothing was done — and yet again even fewer reporters and officials paid attention to this increasingly irrelevant bureaucratic mess.” I think there’s another one scheduled. Look it up on Google or something.

Though that’s not the point of this article. The point is that the collective “mind” of the NYT has finally sounded a tactical withdrawal from the carbon tax initiative in their recent article. Perhaps they saw what everyone else saw at Bonn and finally realized that the gig was up for any world wide cap-and-trade legislation?

The successes make it possible at least to fathom a transition to clean energy that does not involve putting a price on carbon — either through a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade program that requires licenses for emissions.

Mr. Leonhard is certainly no seer. He argued, at one point, that Obama’s future economic policies would make the now-President “look like a fiscal conservative.” Punditry is, at best, a way for the upper-middle class to work without working. I respect him for getting his money, but certainly not his opinion. It is nothing personal. I don’t put too much stock in what a professional guesser, who knows little about natural gas exploitation and renewable energy. If you have read a particularly self-righteous pamphlet on how coal plant operators secretly want to destroy hybrid cars you know as much as him. More importantly, he’s quite the trial balloon for the New York Times. He’s too important to be the carcass others at the newspaper trample over if the blowback is too fierce. He’s too much of a trusted liberal ideologue for this to be the semi-weekly “look, we aren’t biased!” piece.

In short, we could be looking at a real realignment of the New York Times’ coverage of both natural gas recovery and cap-and-trade. Exciting stuff.

Nixon, A Plan For Everything


Nixon lovers everywhere will enjoy this unused disaster speech, written for the first men who visited the moon.

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

[ image: A lonely view of a distant home]
A lonely view of a distant home

Remembering the Six-Day War

Won in six hours, today marks the beginning (and end?) of the Six Day War.


From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2007/06/04/six_day_war/singleton/

The Lacrosse Ruse of 1763

Defining what it means to be “English,” on a June day in 1763 British Major George Etherington, commandant of Fort Michilimackinac, happily allowed himself to be caught unaware. Why? The Native Americans had kindly invited him to watch a friendly match of lacrosse between two of their tribes and being British he donned his funny little white-whig while leaving his weapons at home.

He then gathered most of the garrison to watch with him. According to the major’s accounts written later, they left the gates open and their weapons back in the fort. Etherington cheered for the Ojibwe along with the two chiefs of that tribe, Minweweh and Madjeckewiss After all, the major had bet that the Ojibwe would win. [Link]

Those who are mildly steeped in frontier wars probably know what follows. The British NCOs and conscripts were massacred mercilessly. The officers were used as ransom and anyone who was French was sent packing (presumably, for the same reason that Pontiac sometimes allowed women and children to live).

The next time you want to watch a lacrosse game, keep an eye on the exits!

Markets Crash

As many no doubt know, or will know soon, the markets have crashed. Not exactly what many on the West Coast like to wake up to, but that’s that. Forbes, never one to mince words, has already called it the June Market Disaster.

There are a few things to keep mind, however:

Unemployment is not going away for years and years, regardless of who wins. If Romney wins we can expect structural unemployment for close to a decade. If Obama wins, well, just about the same. The numbers don’t lie. The economy requires 7.2 million gained jobs to replace those “lost”  and an additional 100,000 a month to keep up with population growth. If the job market returns to the rapid pace of the 1990s — adding 2.15 million private-sector jobs a year, double the 2001-2007 pace — the U.S. wouldn’t get back to a 5% unemployment rate until late 2017, Rutgers University economist Joseph Seneca estimated. And that assumes no recession between now and then. “Even with some very optimistic assumptions, it’s a long road back.” Link.

And some people on the Fed think we are already at ‘maximum’ employment. Awks.

That said, while I don’t believe that the economy is the only thing that matters to voters (and a good economy means a certain election of the Obama in November) it’s hard to spin this as anything other than a disaster for his campaign.

The Poor State of American History

Both sides of the aisle can’t argue on much, but what they can agree on is that history is whatever they say it is. Obama, in his infinite wisdom, asserted that a recent Polish Medal of Freedom winner by the name of Karski was “smuggled into . . . a Polish death camp to see for himself.” Much to the surprise of the world’s Jewish community, who were almost sure that it was there their ancestors had died. Their mistake, apparently.

President Obama, who was ostensibly born and raised in Hawaii, has also mentioned that a single bomb had been dropped on Pearl Harbor. This follows on a long history, no pun intended, of a slippery relation with what I would call ‘the facts.’ He seemingly believes that JFK talked Khrushchev out of the Cuban missile crisis, right after we built the “Intercontinental Railroad” (was it from Indonesia to Hawaii?); and bragged that his uncle liberated Auschwitz (much to the consternation of prestigious Soviet historians who were almost sure that Auschwitz was located in western Poland).

I know quite a few people are shrugging their shoulders. Who doesn’t tell a whopper? An acquaintance of mine, for almost half-an-hour, maintained an impromptu lecture on the reasons for America’s involvement in the First World War. If you allowed him the benefit of the doubt, we involved ourselves to protect the democracies of the Entente Powers (Tsar, presumably, is Russian for ‘Happily-Elected-Premier’). Yet I cannot quite believe that the standards I hold to people I know are, or should be, the same standards I hold to the President. It’s unfair.

Samuel Chi points out over at RealClearHistory that “Michele Bachmann thought the battles at Lexington and Concord were in New Hampshire; Rick Perry believed the war was fought in the 16th century; and Sarah Palin claimed it all began when Paul Revere warned the British.” Obama’s “opponents” in the political field are hardly better. He just has more time in the spotlight.

We’re clueless. Oh well.