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Thursday, September 29, 2005


Duncewatch II: More Duncewatch

The Necktie Daily Excess, the grimy and exceedingly yellowish newspaper that services my hometown of Necktie (the Sewer of Scotland) is notorious for being last with the news. I believe their October 19th, 1947, edition announced to the world that GERMANY SURRENDERS! HITLER PRESUMED DEAD!.

I dare say eighteen formative years of exposure to that lamentably flaccid organ have had their effect on me, because I am returning to the very stale Katrina-dunces theme. I want to talk about Kanye West.

Now, Kanye West does not, strictly, belong in the Duncewatch thread because he is not a dunce: if anything, he is, as a Brit would say, too clever by half. What he said was stupid, but he is by no means stupid for saying it.

(BTW my apologies for the link to the National Review; I was forced to link to a publication that is prepapred to employ John Podhoretz when I could not find any genuine news sources on Google. For obvious reasons, I do not consider Dan Rather's former employer to be a news source.)

No: I remember reading about Mr West's remarks a few weeks ago (via protein wisdom I think, though it may have been Instapundit) and thinking "uh-huh"; and I remember that two days after this I noticed that a rash of posters promoting Mr West's latest album had erupted all over London's Tube system, and I thought "uh-huh". Publically proclaiming virulently controversial opinions when ones latest record is about to hit the Tower and Virgin outlets on six continents? Nooooo.... I do not believe Mr West is stupid.

Nevertheless: Kanye - you said stupid things in public; you stupidly incited people to Fear, Uncertainty and Despair on the back of a natural disaster... Kanye: you're a Dunce.

BTW what brought this on? I was watching a show on what passes for television here in Formerly Great Britain, and they were praising Kanye West so fulsomely that I was forced to switch over to the Bollywood spectacular on the next channel, lest I choke on my own bile. Which reminds me of an incident today: over on Pejman's new site I saw a graf insinuating that the "AIDS" virus (presumably HIV) is weakening over time: good news for xj and fellow louche man-whores. So I was about to click on the link and check out the good news... when I saw the URL: www.bbc.co.uk. So I didn't bother.

It's not that I no longer trust the BBC to tell the truth; it's not even that I expect them to tell lies; it's that I honestly believe they can no longer tell the difference. They no longer even possess the limited evidentiary value of Newsweek or Investors' Chronicle and similar consistent negative indicators: they cannot even be relied upon to be wrong.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


FBI now OFFICIALLY stands for Female Body Inspectors

I once read a reprinted interview with Lenny Bruce, in which the great comedian explained how he would work burning social issues into his standup.

What he would do was talk, perfectly seriously, about said issue for however many minutes, and only then move into the jokes. Say he was doing racial integration of schools (this was back in the 1960s): he would give the audience a brief, well-reasoned explanation of precisely why the whole notion of "separate but equal" schooling on the basis of legally-mandated classification derived from imprecise abstractions generalized from epidermal pigmentation was stuuuuuupid, and only after that would he go into the routine about the governor of Alabama finding out that his daughter was engaged to Harry Belafonte. ("Oh, an Eye-tal-ian boy, Lou-Anne? Hmmm...")

(It struck me at the time that this whole business would likely evoke a sort of reverse Voltairean reaction in its listeners: I agree with what you say, but I will oppose to my death your saying it: where the fuck are the dick jokes?)

I don't know if Lenny Bruce could make this technique work (I kinda doubt it, since his act in the last year of his life consisted almost exclusively of reading out memos sent to him by his lawyers) but OTOH, this works kinda well...

The whole sorry story FBI-vice-squad story is here.

Wandering Thoughts on this story:

-If I had joined the FBI for the purpose of, say, fighting terrorism or catching serial killers or for that matter finding my sister who was abducted by aliens, I'd be pretty pissed off if I were suddenly transferred to the Bureau's Department of Panty Drawer Sniffing. Like, exploring the interesting career opportunities for former Special Agents in the private-sector security industry pissed off. (Renaming the office after that pinhole-sphinctered closet-case J Edgar Hoover was bad enough, but this...)

-Speaking of JEH, I heard somewhere that when his agents burgled the apartment of Angela Davis and stole a number of photos she had taken of her and her boyfriend "doing the wild thing", JEH insisted that they be brought directly to him. (Perhaps that slithering piece of imbecility wanted to see what he was missing?)

+Pornographic websites are typically hosted outside of the US, so in order to enforce a ban on pornography the FBI will need to either:

-Prosecute American consumers while letting foreign producers go free, which is political suicide, or else;

+Force the entire 95% of the world that does not have the (generally) good fortune to live in the US to obey laws passed by the US Congress:

-"Sure, jefe, if you want to let the rest of the world vote in your country, we'll follow your laws, you betcha";

-The following countries are likely to be hosting websites of this nature: the Netherlands, Hungary, the Czech Republic, various nations in Central America/ the Carribbean. The following countries are not likely to be hosting websites of this nature: Syria, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia. Remind me again whether the former, or the latter, are supposed to be America's allies?

In the internet age, a ban on looking at nudie pictures is stupid. Correction: stupid is what this idea aspires to. It is so far beyond stupid that the light from Stupid would take a thousand years to reach it.

Every so often the Bush administration does something that is so bat-shit insane that the only explanation is Karl Rove: "Hey, Mr President, if we slap a bunch of tariffs on steel while arguing for free trade - or, even better, if you make a powerful speech attacking the financiers of terrorism and then let the press corps film you walking hand in hand with a Saudi prince - that will give all the leftists epilepsy for the next six months!"

I'm guessing this is one of those things. Just reading the story made me foam at the mouth. I dare say heads are popping over at the Daily Kos right now...

Let's leave it with a quote from the aforementioned J Edgar Hoover:

"I regret that the FBI is powerless to act in cases of oral-genital intimacy, unless they have in some way impeded inter-state commerce".

Words to live by, G-men...

(Final note: it has just occurred to me that this may, in fact, not be a cruel, repressive policy of the Wicked Dubya and his minion Darth Rove, but may instead be a brilliant scam by the world's most accomplished chutzpenick to allow him and his buddies to download as much hot lesbo action as they want on office time and get paid, and indeed commended, for it... In which case I am speechless in admiration).

Thursday, September 15, 2005


Codependence Day

I see from Wikipedia that September 15th is Independence Day in (are you ready? the full list will take some time): Costa Rica; Guatemala; Honduras; Nicaragua; and El Salvador.

Oh, and the Central African Republic as well.

(Just kidding about that last one ;-))

Is it just me, or does the fact that five territorially adjacent nationstates have the exact same Independence Day suggest that the said nationstates are kinda sorta missing the point of "independence?"

(What if they did all declare independence from Spain on the same day? Independence, like democratization, is a process, not an event. For instance, the united States of America declared their independence from Great Britain on July 2nd, 1776; however, the modern United States of America observes its Independence Day on July 4th because that was when the Continental Congress approved the draft Declaration that Thomas Jefferson and his committee had drawn up. And the French celebrate the day the Bastille was sacked despite the fact that the sacking of the Bastille had approximately nothing to do with the eventual outcome of la Revolution: there were something on the order of twelve prisoners in the Bastille on July 14th 1789, none of them particularly memorable, the Marquis de Sade having been redeployed to Charenton lunatic asylum a short while prior to this. The Centroamericans could follow these examples of adaptability: say, Guatemala could get the date the declaration was proposed; Honduras could get the date it was ratified; El Salvador could get the date of the first shot fired in the War of Independence; Costa Rica could get the date of the subsequent peace treaty (to honor the pacifism enshrined in their constitution; and Nicaragua could get the date that Red Dawn was released.

(Just kidding, guys. Elect a compsymp like Aleman and you gotta expect a little gentle teasing... Kidding aside, wouldn't independence from the Brits be a better precedent?)

At any rate, here's an ole to y'all, y'all, y'all, y'all and y'all, and a special attaboy to the Costa Rican libertarian movement, which has endowed that country with the rare distinction of being the only nationstate on earth to elect card-carrying libertarians to high office.

(Please note the form of words: the Costa Rican libertarian movement, not the Costa Rican Movimiento Libertario. The former deserves several bushels of attaboys; the latter may, by its actions, come to deserve them. Hope springs eternal...)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


...dust to dust

So, England have won the Ashes.

For the benefit of any Americans who may have wandered in here tonight, this is a trophy in a game called cricket: think baseball on Quaaludes. I don't understand it either; I'm Scottish. But it seems like a big deal in these parts. I recall one of my lecturers at undergraduate used to put the cricket scores up on the chalkboard, although as the Test series progressed he stopped doing this and instead wrote "Don't mention the cricket!"

The Ashes is also close to the English heart, because it is a contest between England (the Mother Country) and Australia (the MoFos). It speaks to the unique origins of the Australian nation: every other nation-state on Earth is either A: dominated by a culture that evolved from a big ol' tribe that settled there at Time Immemorial (eg Korea, Thailand; B: dominated by a culture that evolved from some mixture of fusion, cooperation, cooption and conflict between various big ol' tribes that settled there between Time Immemorial and 1492AD, inclusive (eg the UK, Germany, and Italy - especially Italy); C: dominated by a culture that evolved from voluntary emigrants from places that fall under categories A and B (the USA, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada - true, some of these places have significant minorities that are (Canada: the former Hong Kongese) or are descended from (USA, and of course Brazil: African-Americans, and -Brazilians, respectively) invountary emigrants; but the majority, and hence the dominant theme of the dominant culture, evolved from voluntary emigrants - which probably accounts for the subtly different style of these cultures, as compared to the Old World)...

Australia, however, is the only place on Earth to fall under Category D: dominated by a culture that evolved from involuntary emigrants from a place that falls under category B (viz, England). (Brits like to say that time was when criminal degenerates were deported from England to Australia, but nowadays it's the reverse: Rupert Murdoch, Richard Neville (in the 1960s, anyway), Kylie Minogue, etc...)

Plus, there is a reason the trophy is called the Ashes. And that reason is that the first time the Aussies defeated the England team, in England (back in 1882, when the population of Australia was about 17,000, including the sheep), some Aussie girls burnt part of a cricket stump to symbolize the death of English cricket, and presented the Whinging Pommie Team with the resultant Ashes. (The Americans who have wandered in will note, with delight, a Genuine Quaint Tradition from Little Old England).

So you can imagine how humiliating it is for the English to be beaten in the Ashes, which they are, almost always. (This is part of the reason the English do not observe the holiday of Thanksgiving: WTF do the English have to be thankful for?)

Still, it's not totally unheard of for the English to win the Ashes. Wikipedia tells me it has happened at least once in my lifetime. To hear the British MSM talk, you would think it was unprecedented - eschatological.

It isn't. No, it's that whole Redsox thing that scares me. A Redsox World Series victory is like a Portent from the Book of Revelation; I believe you'll find it somewhere between the horse-shaped locusts with gold crowns and human faces(9:vii), and the unclean frog-like spirits emerging from the mouths of various unlikely characters(16:xiii). (And to continue the eschatological theme, at least one former Redsox player is going to rise from the dead - at least if there's anything to this whole notion of cryonics.)

Monday, September 12, 2005


Homemaker loathes own home

According to AP News (which, of course, means it's probably wrong, but still), Martha Stewart has stated that her period of house arrest was more unpleasant than her stretch in jail.

Excuse me? The internationally famous expert on elegant living has publically declared that spending a few months in her own house is less fun than a jail sentence?

Well, there goes the stock price of Martha Stewart Living. Let's hope Martha sold the stock short...

(Erm, let's not. The last time she tried that it didn't work out to well...)

OTOH maybe she was misreported; perhaps she was really trying to say "House arrest is tougher than jail because when you're all alone in your home, it's really hard to have a good... conversation".

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


Eyewitness account of the Superdome


H/t Dean Esmay, whose previous post is a must-read as well. (Gave me a Rio flashback...)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Duncewatch I

First in an occasional series, tracking those whose comments on the Katrina tragedy and its aftermath have been remarkably lacking in frontal lobe muscle, and, to continue the John Kennedy Toole theme, entitled Duncewatch.

This one goes out to all those people (like Azael in the comments to this post over on protein wisdom - BTW "Azael"? I wonder if he meant Azrael? Azazel?) who argued that the Wicked Dubya is solely to blame for the chaos in New Orleans because he didn't send in troops to maintain order immediately, without waiting for the consent of the governor of the state.

(To an intelligent layman from some faraway country this might seem like a very good thing for Dubya to have done; cut out the bureaucracy and take decisive action, instead of idling strumming a guitar out in California (Hah! He's so DUMB) but in fact there are some very, very serious laws (try a search for "Posse Comitatus Act") about when the US federal government can use troops to carry out governmental functions within the US without the consent of the governor of the state wherein said troops shall be deployed: basically, never; it amounts to declaring that a condition of insurrection exists, which is not an exactly tactful thing to do in a principal city of the former Confederacy...)

Therefore, to criticise the Wicked Dubya for not acting until he got the go-ahead from the governor of Louisiana (who took her time in requesting federal assistance, for reasons that may, or may not, become clear in the fullness of time), is to propose the following legal theory:

That a person duly constituted to exercise authority over the military [1] may disregard the written laws and constitution of the polity and deploy the military to prevent an emergency[2] perceived by [1] even absent the support, and indeed even overriding the vigorous opposition of the appropriate duly constituted supreme political authority[3].

I think that's a fair summary of the legal doctrine that would have allowed GWB [1], to deploy the military to prevent riots, rapes and murders in New Orleans [2], without the consent and despite the objections of the governor of Louisiana [3].

Now, my question to anyone who thinks the above is exactly what GWB should have done is this:

If you substitute General Pinochet for [1], prevent fall of Chile to totalitarian communist tyranny for [2], and Salvador Allende for [3], you have an accurate portrayal of the Chilean coup of 1974: General Pinochet, a duly constituted senior officer of the Chilean army, decided that he was going to prevent the emergency he perceived of an impending communist takeover of Chile, by overriding the duly constituted supreme political authority of Chile, Salvador Allende.

All you liberal, progressive folks who think GWB should have overriden the state governor and damn the consequences: be careful what you wish for.

(As for Azael: anyone who can read the phrase "also sprach Azael" and reply with "loved the Wagner bit" shouldn't be bloviating on public policy; if you use Wagner when you should have used Nietzsche, you might want to check exactly what you are using for Shinola.)


I love the music of Wagner. The ideas of Wagner not even a mother could love.

Allende was elected president of Chile under the then constitution despite the fact that he never won a majority of the popular vote; in fact something like sixty per cent of the voters in that election voted against his policies. Shit happens, and mature adults deal with it and do not, for example, start comparing the shit unfavorably to Adolf Hitler. (I believe the last British prime minister whose party received a majority of the popular vote was Sir Winston Churchill in the 1950s; certainly Blair (and Thatcher) never had popular majorities).


A Confederacy of Duxes

Maybe New Orleans isn't dead yet:

ITEM: "When wolves attack their settlement", Ayn Rand said, "animals perish; men write the Constitution". Close enough.

Indulge me for a moment by considering this glorious feat. The streets are deluged by floods of foul water, law and order has collapsed, the cops are behaving like the Crips (with notable, honorable exceptions) - and out of this Hobbesian state of nature these people have created not merely order, the basis of peace, but division of labor, the basis of profit.

And What Is More: they are still serving beer, the basis of civilization!

Heck, they even took time out to party!

Gentleman, raise your glasses, and ladies, raise.... your glasses too, as I'm all out of beads ;-) I give you The Big Easy!

Note on title: "Dux" is the term used in Scottish schools for the highest-ranked student in a class; it is therefore the opposite of "dunce" and, since it also is Latin for "leader", has better connotations than "valedictorian". The whole thing of course is a pun on this.

Monday, September 05, 2005


The unmentionable odour of death Offends the September night

Item: Jude Wanniski, a populariser of supply-side economics, died last week. Wanniski's masterwork The Way the World Works synthesized the economic thinking of fiscal firebrand Arthur Laffer (Wanniski first sketched the notorious curve that came to bear Laffer's name) and monetary theorist Robert Mundell (1999 Nobel Laureate in Economics) and threw in his own idea of the efficient political market to produce a model that he believed could explain, well, the world. As a former customer, I can testify that his consultancy business did a pretty honking good job of explaining the markets; I benefited from his advice to the tune of thousands of dollars. And for helping remind the world one more time that taxes are sand in the gears of production and trade, he deserves the thanks of mankind. He had literally thousands of original ideas, not all of which I could endorse, exactly, but he was a force for good, and a loss to the world.

Item: then again, it may be as well that Wanniski never lived to see this hellish conjunction of two of his most, erm, original ideas: opposition to the war in Iraq, and support of Louis Farrakhan. Aren't the streets of New Orleans filled with tainted water enough, that The Less Than Honorable Louis has to start pissing on the corpses of the dead in this way? Go sit on the Washington Monument, bowtie-boy.

Item: Not just him. Every kind of scum-sucking nematode has drivelled out some statement or other linking the hurricane to their own silly little holy wars. Pride of place of the Roll of Shame goes to the Juergen Trittin, a German Green politician (loves plants, can't stand people) who claimed that Katrina happened because the Wicked Dubya Administration didn't get the Kyoto accord ratified. (Remember? The agreement that the US Senate voted 95-0 against, the one that would cost trillions of dollars and lower the average global temperature in 2100 by approximately 1 degree celsius? That Kyoto?) As many in the blogosphere have remarked, it's a crying shame President McKinley didn't have one of them Kyoto accords; would've stopped the 1900 Galveston hurricane fer sure.

It's an ill wind, they say, that blows no good. This was an ill wind.

There's a drinking game we used to play as undergraduates: I've never. You go round the table, each one in turn stands up and says "I've never..." (as it may be) "...gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel", and anyone who has done this thing has to stand up and drink. (Of course, the trick is to deny various unusual sex acts and watch who stands up. There is usually someone who will admit to almost anything if they can get a drink out of it).

We didn't, when we were playing this game, say I've never... and I never will. Because when you're nineteen and life is all about sports and alcohol and hotties in leggings and that foodstuff of the gods that my room-mate invented, the Box o' Meat, and the worst thing you can imagine is having to sometimes do a write-up or a spot of calculus... I never will is not in your vocabulary.

(I never will again I understood, even then. A friend of mine from primary school had dropped dead from some poorly-explained virus: meningitis, I guess. He was a loss to humanity: a natural leader of men. And by that I mean: sassed the teachers non-stop and founded the Official School Goofy Club (motto: "lassies in fishnet tights are fun!") of which I'm proud and honored to say I was a member. Did I mention he was eleven years old when he died?)

But none of us undergrads ever thought that any new experience might be barred to us for ever. By a particular girl, sure, but there were plenty more out there. A given door might be closed, but the building would always be there, wouldn't it?

For me, the phrase I never will entered my vocabulary about four years ago.

I've never gazed up at the Twin Towers and I never will.

I've never seen New Orleans -

I can't bear to finish that sentence.

God willing, I never will.

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