Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Moon River

Listen to some of these Moon River programs, which were broadcast by radio superstation WLW in Cincinnati from the 1930s until the early 1960s:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We need Tom Wolfe again!

The current controversies involving Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, Al Sharpton, and the like cry out for another novel by Tom Wolfe.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Grammar in the New York Times

Does the New York Times still care about grammar? Consider the following passage from a recent article in the New York Times:

"The strength of organized crime groups has grown in Europe in the face of economic uncertainty. The mob has used the crisis to accelerate their infiltration of legitimate businesses outside their southern Italian strongholds into Rome and Milan, as well as in France, Germany, Spain and beyond.

"Is the mafia Europe’s new security threat? What needs to be done to curtail its influence across the Continent?"

Dear Reader, do you see what is wrong with the above passage?

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Time to Mobilize: Mr. Putin and the Baltic Countries

Isn't it time for Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians in the United States to mobilize? Or is this already happening?
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Monday, March 24, 2014

James Rebhorn

Jim was a great actor, a wonderful human being, a superior poker player – and a gentle and caring person. His death comes as a great shock.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Putin's Easter Egg Hunt

Sanction for Crimea referendum: President Obama canceled President Putin's invitation to the White House Easter egg hunt.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Grammatical Infelicity #1


Due to ”the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight,” the Times wrote.


Due to ”the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear[,] and flight,” the Times wrote.


The British practice of omitting the final comma in a series of three or more terms, expressions, or clauses is an abomination that should not be copied.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Syria Nerve Gas Attack: a Reprise of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution?

A grand deception about the nerve gas attack in Syria? Seymour Hersh plainly enjoys going against the grain, but he cannot be written off as a nothing more than a crank. See Seymour M. Hersh, Whose sarin? LRB (December 8, 2013).

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Friday, December 6, 2013

The Uncle in the Presidential Closet

I guess almost all U.S. Presidents have relatives they would rather not acknowledge. Pres. Obama had an uncle who was long in the closet:

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Where Is Latvia? In the Balkans?

"Where is Latvia? ... 

"Let me handle those questions in their proper order. 

"1. Latvia is one of the 'Baltic countries' located on the northern rim of Europe, across the Baltic Sea from Stockholm and sandwiched in between its Baltic partners Estonia to the north and Lithuania to its south. With a population of about two million, it's [sic] capital is Riga, a beautiful old city with superb architecture reminiscent of Paris or Prague in places. Latvia was a country besieged in the 20th century first by Stalin and his Bolshevik murderers, then by Hitler and his Nazi degenerates and finally -- as if that wasn't enough -- Stalin again. Though their official language is Latvian, most Latvians speak Russian and many refer to themselves as 'Russian.' Latvians, in my experience, are fun-loving, uber-intelligent people who enjoy technology to its fullest. Given their awful dictatorial experiences, they are about as resilient a people as one could find on this planet and are delighted by meeting new people and talking about technology." 

Bill Robinson, Scandiweb: Latvia's Magento Magicians Huff Post Tech (Dec. 4, 2013) 

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Fair Championship Chess Match

The reduction in the number of games in a world chess championship match from 24 or so to 12 is a terrible idea. As this match illustrated, the ultimate victor now need only win one or two games and then play for draws.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Comic Books

When did comic books become "graphic novels"?

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Word Inflation

Another example of appalling word inflation:

1. weather prediction
2. weather forecasting
3. weather prognostication

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Monday, November 4, 2013

The New Calculus: 320,000,000 Invasions of Privacy for 300 Leads

"'The NSA allegedly collected the phone records of 320 million people in order to identify roughly 300 people who might be a risk. It's just bad public policy…and perhaps illegal,' [Eric Schmidt of Google] said. 


""There clearly are cases where evil people exist, but you don't have to violate the privacy of every single citizen of America to find them,' he said."

Wall Street Journal Online (Nov. 4, 2013)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Martin Luther's 95 Theses

Wikipedia: "On 31 October 1517, Luther posted the ninety-five theses, which he had composed in Latin, on the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, according to university custom."
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

U.S. to Overtake Russia in Oil and Gas Production

Gold & Gilbert, U.S. Is Overtaking Russia as Largest Oil-and-Gas Producer Wall Street Journal (October 2, 2013):

The U.S. is overtaking Russia as the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas, a startling shift that is reshaping markets and eroding the clout of traditional energy-rich nations.

[snip, snip]

"This is a remarkable turn of events," said Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. "This is a new era of thinking about market conditions, and opportunities created by these conditions, that you wouldn't in a million years have dreamed about."


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Thursday, September 26, 2013

How to Swear

Colin Burrow, Rabelais, Thomas Urquhart, and Melissa Mohr teach us how to really swear. See Colin Burrow, Frog's Knickers London Review of Books (September 26, 2013) (review of Melissa Mohr, Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing (Oxford University Press, 2013)):

Roll up, roll up all you ‘mangie rascals, shiteabed scoundrels, drunken roysters, slie knaves, drowsie loiterers, slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubbardly lowts … fondling fops, base lowns, saucie coxcombs, idle lusks, scoffing Braggards, noddie meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddi-poljolt-heads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, slutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninnie-hammer flycatchers, noddiepeak simpletons, turdie gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets’.
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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Our Talkative President: Of War and Peace

David Bromwich, Diary London Review of Books (September 26 [sic], 2013):

The anti-government insurgency in Syria was given an intoxicating vision of triumph by the words President Obama spoke in August 2011 that were translated, correctly, into the headline ‘Assad must go.’ ... Obama has a fondness for debonair or solemnly spoken asides that come back to worry him. ...
After 56 months of the Obama presidency, there can be no doubt that Barack Obama likes to talk. He thinks Americans and others are eager to hear what he has to say, on many subjects; and in keeping with that perception, he said in August 2012 about the civil war in Syria: ‘A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilised. That would change my calculus.’ He gave another version, in March, of the same asseveration: the use of chemical weapons by Assad would be ‘a game changer’. These, too, were undiplomatic comments. A clearer invitation could scarcely be imagined by anyone who had an interest in drawing the US into the war. ...

[snip, snip]

Nobody doubts that an attack took place. Nobody yet knows with reasonable certainty who ordered it. Assad had the ability but, since he was winning the war and such a move was plainly suicidal, his arrival at such a decision is hard to make sense of. The rebels are said to lack the ability to use poison gas, though there are reports that they have come into possession of some chemical weapons; but a false-flag operation would have required a degree of successful dissimulation and wickedness that is equally hard to make sense of. ...

[snip, snip]

... Kerry gave 1429 as a sure figure for the number of deaths in the August attack, but the figure is unexplained and at variance with first-hand reports: French intelligence estimated 281 deaths and Médecins Sans Frontières 355. The Kerry document was effectively discredited in less than a week, but only below the radar of the mainstream press and policy establishment. On the basis of a tissue of far-fetched inferences and assumptions, in which the most solid datum is a single radio intercept – a recording of a disturbed commander of Syrian forces given to the US by Israeli intelligence – Obama declared his intention to order an attack, and then asked Congress to authorise the use of force under wide discretion: he would be empowered to act in any way he deemed necessary to ‘respond to’, ‘deter’ and ‘degrade’ the military and defensive capabilities of the Syrian government. These are all words without a settled meaning, and they were chosen for that reason. To an amazing degree Obama’s request for authorisation of September 2013 resembles Bush’s request of October 2002.

[snip, snip]

At the end of August, with or without Britain, the US was poised for war. But public opinion was shifting towards a comfortless scepticism – the ratio of three to two against an attack had risen, by the second week of September, to more than two to one against. ... The president and his secretary of state, and with them a large section of the policy elite, had approved an effort to overthrow by military intervention a fourth government in the Middle East, after Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. With an unmistakable voice the American people were saying no.

Even so, in the first week of September, Obama and Kerry appeared to stand behind both the ambitious and the minimal versions of their meditated attack. ...

[snip, snip]

On 10 September the president addressed the nation. He used more of his time to justify the attack he was shelving than to explain the new course to which he is now committed, and it was a baffling speech in other ways too: pleading and denouncing by turns, imparting the lesson that love of peace must sometimes involve us in war, reiterating the imperative of building up the United States at home yet taking care to invoke the Holocaust. ...

Another switch by Obama appears unlikely for the time being. But mere passive attendance on the Russian proposals, saying yes to some, no to some and to others ‘We’ll think about it’, will expose his administration to the charge of ‘leading from behind’ (as he boasted of doing in Libya). Diplomacy is relatively new to this president, but now he has no other choice. Nor can he afford to give away the delicate work to the persons who clamoured loudest for an attack. ... [T]his would be an excellent moment [for Obama] to reform: a time for personal commitment in the making of policy, accompanied by fewer speeches, unscripted remarks and interviews; an occasion for energetic activity with partners besides France, Britain and Israel. ...

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fluctuating Arctic & Antarctic Sea Ice

Seth Borensteinh, Arctic sea ice 6th lowest, but rebounds from 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek News (September 20, 2013):

"The National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., said Friday that Arctic ice was at 1.97 million square miles when it stopped melting late last week.

"That level is about 24 percent below the 20th Century average, but 50 percent above last year when a dramatic melt shattered records that go back to 1979."

Hannah Hickey, Stronger winds explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica University of Washington News (September 17, 2013):

"Much attention is paid to melting sea ice in the Arctic. But less clear is the situation on the other side of the planet. Despite warmer air and oceans, there’s more sea ice in Antarctica now than in the 1970s – a fact often pounced on by global warming skeptics. The latest numbers suggest the Antarctic sea ice may be heading toward a record high this year.

"While changes in weather may play a big role in short-term changes in sea ice seen in the past couple of months, changes in winds have apparently led to the more general upward sea ice trend during the past few decades, according to University of Washington research. A new modeling study to be published in the Journal of Climate shows that stronger polar winds lead to an increase in Antarctic sea ice, even in a warming climate."


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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Syria, Israel & Chemical Weapons

Edmund Sanders, Israel also facing questions about chemical weapons, Washington Post ("September 12, 2013):

JERUSALEM -- Israel has cheered the Syrians' promise to hand over their chemical weapons and sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, but it is increasingly worried that the international pressure building may soon focus on Israel, which has refused to ratify the treaty and is believed to possess chemical weapons.

Israel signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, but it never ratified the agreement.

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Democracy and Culture

Walter C. Clemens, Jr., Democracy as Chimera New York Times (September 10, 2013). In this interesting essay Clemens says, among other things, 

"If the political culture is missing, a Weimar-type constitution will not guarantee real self-rule or stability. Cultivating a truly democratic culture takes time. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan left us this axiom: “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.

"But this liberal dream has met more defeats than victories. Russia seemed to opt for democracy in the 1990s, but when Vladimir Putin altered the rules, most voters went along. Even in the United States, democracy remains a work-in-progress. To make it a major policy goal in countries with vastly different cultures is a chimera."


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

John Kerry's Gulf of Tonkin

John Kerry reportedly called the Syrian chemical matter "our Munich moment." Could it better be described as John Kerry's Gulf of Tonkin moment?
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Friday, September 6, 2013

Real War?

O my gosh, is he really going to drag us into a real (big, long) war? 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Rockets' Red Glare

Will (American) rockets glare (red) on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington?
  • ...while Pres. Obama addresses the 50th anniversary celebrants?
What would MLK, Jr., think?

The drums of war.

In any event, I hope at least that this time there has not been another "intelligence failure."

N.B. Do you think Pres. Obama should try to get Congress to declare war on Syria? (I can't think of another recent situation in which a U.S. President is better situated to try to get such a declaration from Congress: Pres. Obama can hardly object that he needs the advantage of surprise; the whole world knows an attack is coming. [What's that? Oh, you say this attack falls short of being "war"? Mmm. I'll have to think about that. {What if Syria retaliates? Mmm.}])  

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chapel Hill

I have been here in Chapel Hill for two weeks. Two-thirds of my books are unpacked. My computers are up and running. My massive new printer is up and running. My speech recognition software is working, more or less. I have food in the kitchen. A guy comes in to clean my apartment once a week. Everything is almost OK with the world.

Chapel Hill is pretty. It is very green. The people are friendly. The traffic is not bad. My townhouse is very pleasant. I can soon start working again – that is, I can soon start writing again.

This fall I will work on an evidence casebook. I will also resume work on a legal treatise. Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sun in Ultraviolet

Image Credit: NASA/SDO & the AIA, EVE, and HMI teams; Digital Composition: Peter L. Dove
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