Monthly Archives: September 2009

September 15, 2009, 6:47 pm

Language is revealing that Dan Riehl is a racist.

(Up to the dating: The stupid, it along the lines of burns!)

Via someone named “davenoon,” I learn that someone named Dan Riehl recently encountered some black people who “were technically thugs.” What did these “technically thug[gish]” black people do? “There was no confrontation,” Riehl informs his readers, but “there were maybe ten or so” of them in the bus, which is about nine or so more than is required to trigger a flight-or-flight response in folks like Riehl. Somehow, he managed to keep it together long enough to hear what these “pretty young, not that big” black “kids” were saying, which he transcribed for the sensitive ears of his readers thusly:

Without resorting to the poor diction it was along the lines of, these are the people who think Obama is the anti-Christ.

Why these “pretty young, not that big [black kids who] were technically thugs” resorted along the lines of …

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September 15, 2009, 2:05 pm

“You know the Faust story?”

Alice Cooper tries to convince Kermit to sell his soul in exchange for fame as a rock star. From a list of the ten weirdest moments on the Muppets. Number 6, Alan Arkin on a bunny killing spree, is pretty odd. Also, Peter Sellers! That’s all.

Thanks to B for sending this along and brightening up my day.

September 14, 2009, 1:29 pm

Objectively pro-stupid

No American should have to choose between health care and getting drunk.

Via Balloon Juice.

Come, let us walk down my hallway. People who are putting off kids because they don’t have long-term contracts. People whose parents can’t get insurance because their small business failed and they’re too old, and with too-long medical histories, to buy policies. People with relatives on the ‘plan’ of “stay healthy for a couple more years then Medicare!”

I’m not making this up! And you give me malt liquor videos.

September 13, 2009, 10:55 am

Everyman his own … house.

Be very, very good, historians, and maybe someday someone will name an undergraduate house after you. The new Carl Becker House at Cornell, with a memorial plaque.

Carl Becker’s previous EotAW mention is here, and you might also want to read his AHA presidential address, “Everyman his own historian.”

Below the fold, more Cornell pictures because some campuses really were built to be photographed.


September 11, 2009, 4:06 pm

That’s how it’s done.

Chuck Klosterman’s review of the newly released Beatles boxed set is a thing of beauty. Imagine trying to review the Beatles’ collected works. Nearly everyone knows the material. Nearly everything that can be said has already been said. There are no superlatives left. So Klosterman employs an ingenious gimmick.

From the first paragraph:

Like most people, I was initially confused by EMI’s decision to release remastered versions of all 13 albums by the Liverpool pop group Beatles, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes. The entire proposition seems like a boondoggle. I mean, who is interested in old music? And who would want to listen to anything so inconveniently delivered on massive four-inch metal discs with sharp, dangerous edges? The answer: no one.

And it goes on from there. Klosterman, with this deft move, allows himself to make the…

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September 10, 2009, 7:56 pm


One of the difficulties of counterinsurgencies is that sometimes its necessary *not* to do what’s most effective in a strict military sense. This is particularly true if following standard operating procedure is likely to cause civilian casualties. But it’s often difficult for military commanders, who are, after all, trained to attack the enemy. Last week, the Taliban hijacked two fuel tankers, only to be spotted as they were trying to escape:

According to the German officers, the incident began Thursday evening when insurgents hijacked the two trucks on the main highway connecting Kunduz to the Tajikistan border. [A] B-1B bomber, which was flying in the area in support of a different mission, spotted the vehicles several hours later after they had become bogged down while trying to cross the river, 13 miles south of Kunduz, the provincial capital. The German commander declared the…

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September 10, 2009, 2:47 pm

Thank you, Joe Wilson, for demonstrating that conservatives want life to imitate Idiocracy.

South Carolina today, South Carolina tomorrow:


September 10, 2009, 1:43 pm

What falls away is always.

Ted Kennedy’s more-or-less deathbed injunction to Barack Obama:

September 9, 2009, 3:03 pm

At long last.

The opening from the President’s speech for this evening:

I am not the first President to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

Our collective failure to meet this challenge – year after year, decade after decade – has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.

Will this ancient conversation finally take a…

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September 9, 2009, 2:43 pm

On the opposite of the Enlightenment.

A friend pointed me to this, I’d missed it—it’s Kathy Olmsted on the British radio program(me) “Little Atoms” back in July, talking about how, as the host says, “once upon a time Americans would be concerned about the Catholics or the Jews, but there’s a distinct point where the government became the focus” of conspiracy theory—and other insights from this book, which, as you know, you should buy if you can.

Program summary here, MP3 here.

As Kathy says, at around World War I, “A lot of Americans start to believe that their government is lying and covering up and conspiring because it is starting to lie and cover up and conspire.”

September 9, 2009, 10:59 am

We have been having this discussion for a long time.

Jim Henley’s nice post appreciating the concept of “social insurance” moves me to provide this link to, if not its original definition, then its early full definition, from I. M. Rubinow’s invaluable Social Insurance, (1916; orig. 1913):

… social insurance is that policy of organized society to furnish that protection to one part of the population, which some other part may need less, or, if needing, is able to purchase voluntarily through private insurance. … The term “social insurance” is as yet very little understood by the vast majority of English-speaking nations. … All insurance is a substitution of social, co-operative provision for individual provision. Technically, this substitution of social effort for individual effort, is known as the theory of distribution of losses and the subsequent elimination of risk. … There is an individual advantage is substituting a very…

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September 8, 2009, 9:45 am

Up, down, top, bottom, strange, charmed.

Thanks to everyone who voted Dana’s treatment of Leibniz and Spinoza for the Quark; she came in fourth and is a semifinalist. Next,

The daily editors of 3 Quarks Daily will now pick the top six entries from these, and after possibly adding up to three “wildcard” entries, will send that list of finalists to Professor Dan Dennett on September 11. We will also post the list of finalists here on that date.

Cross your fingers.

September 8, 2009, 8:57 am

Looking forward.

On this day in 1974, Gerald Ford granted Richard Nixon an unconditional pardon for all federal crimes that he had “committed or may have committed or taken part in” while serving as president. Ford justified his decision, as you can see above, in several ways: Nixon and his family had already suffered enough; Nixon’s trial wouldn’t begin for months or years, and might not be fair even then; the country would remain bitterly divided throughout the intervening period; Ford had the power to act, his conscience told him that he should, and so he did.

Nixon greeted the news by noting that he was “wrong in not acting more decisively and more forthrightly in dealing with Watergate.” Ford, meanwhile, having announced the defining act of his presidency, traveled to Bethesda, Maryland, where he played a round of golf at the Burning Tree…

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September 7, 2009, 3:34 pm

Dr. Seuss on the Current State of the Blogosphere.

(By request, the parody of this beloved book that originally appeared in the historical novel thread.)

What do I know about tweeting bloggers? Well . . .


September 6, 2009, 7:12 pm

Christian culture: a user’s guide

Interesting: like Stuff White People Like, but narrower. I couldn’t believe this one, but a waitress friend assures me it’s all too true.