Friday, October 14, 2005

If this isn't a smash hit, the terrorists will have won

London: "HUNDREDS of clubbers are descending on the country's only nude disco every Saturday night."

Talk about thumbing yer nose at the fascists.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Abstract Expressionism, Cold War Propaganda, and the CIA

Louis Menand writes in the New Yorker about how the US Government used avante garde art to further America's image abroad during the Cold War. The State Department discovered early on some of the Congressional pitfalls to be avoided.
Cultural diplomacy is a tricky business in a democracy. It’s awkward to promote art officially by claiming that it is free from official constraints, and it is especially awkward if the art is, in fact, unpopular. Cold Warriors in the nineteen-fifties often found themselves in the position of propagandizing for American values by exhibiting art that was manifestly élite, and attacking the Soviet Union for mandating that art appeal to the common man. In 1952, [Museum of Modern Art Director Alfred] Barr wrote a piece for the Times Magazine, “Is Modern Art Communistic?,” in which he tried to argue, in effect, that “democratic” is a totalitarian standard for judging art. He wasn’t wrong, but it meant that a lot of congressmen were behaving like totalitarians.
Congressmen seem to think that behaving like totalitarians is part of their job description. In any case, Menand wrote an interesting article about the government using art by lefties to promote American values overseas.

Thanks to ArtsJournal for the lead.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So, what's it like to be bluish?

Looky here: Click here: APOD: 2005 October 13 - Alnitak, Alnilam, Mintaka

Complete with Biblical-sounding names, at that.

It's a Cool Space Pic of the Day.

Archimedes' Death Ray

Gotta love those MIT types:

Ancient Greek and Roman historians recorded that during the siege of Syracuse in 212 BC, Archimedes (a notably smart person) constructed a burning glass to set the Roman warships, anchored within bow and arrow range, afire.
Guess what the MITers discovered?

Visitor 2,602 is most highly...


She or he, in Amman, Jordan, came to good ol' Blogospherical Ruminations thru a Google search for "lebanese hotties" which listed the site at number 2 after InstaPundit.

I have fond memories of Jordan, from back around 1977, when I hitchhiked around parts of the Middle East.

Amman, a desert city in a mountain valley, is a dry, dusty and lovely place full of hospitable people. The entire country is lovely, with pale blue skies and khaki deserts, and some of the greatest scuba diving in the world along the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.

I camped for several days in the valley of Petra, with, as John William Burgon said of it in 1845:
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe
Which men called old two thousand years ago!
Match me such marvel, save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as Time.
I'd like to go back some day, and sleep on some of the same rocks by the same creeks. See again Petra, and Numeira Gorge, which shames even the gorge into Petra for its depth, its colors, and its closeness, and swim once again beneath the Gulf of Aqaba, coral heads filled with lion fish and lobsters, the shallows with black-needled urchins and fighting stone fish.

Why does it take a right wing newspaper... the Washington Times to identify a branch of the Official IRA as Marxist-Leninist?
Mr. Garland, leader of the Marxist-Leninist Worker's Party, an arm of the Official Irish Republican Army, used his party contacts in North Korea and other nations to coordinate the purchase of fake $100 bills forged in North Korean, the indictment stated.
I'm curious: Are all the IRA groups Marxist-Leninist, or have they fractured because some are free market capitalists?

Do the WaPo and NYT mention the IRA (any IRA) having such an extreme political perspective from time to time, or is it so well known that it is assumed to be known by all readers...sort of like never referring to Dubya as a Republican?

Anyway, Bill Gertz has the story about North Korea counterfeiting US $100 bills in the Washington Times.

Thanks to DRUDGE REPORT for the lead.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

"Laughter bespeaks fun, and fun is totally forbidden."

Michael Ledeen has an interesting column on the anti-Islamic issues facing soccer. Apparently soccer, as played now, is anti-Islamic because it was invented by non-Muslims. It would be funny if these lunatics weren't genocidally violent.

I wonder what Michael Moore and ANSWER think of all this. Come to think of it, I have a pretty good idea.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Anybody want to hold your breath...

...waiting for the right approach?

Virginia Postrel in the New York Times on rebuilding New Orleans :
The more flexibility businesses and individuals have, the more adaptable they can be and the faster recovery can take place. That is one reason money helps more than in-kind gifts. Donors, Professor Horwich said, "can only guess what recipients want most" and often provide gifts of clothes or food in forms that are hard to use.

The same principle applies to the rebuilding commitments now being made in Washington. The final cost of Katrina relief is widely expected to top $100 billion...

...With $100 billion, the government could give every man, woman and child from New Orleans a check for $200,000. Expanding these payments to the entire metropolitan area would allow a generous $75,000 per resident.

Yet nobody expects the displaced residents of New Orleans to see anything close to those potentially life-changing amounts. Federal spending is aimed not at "rebuilding lives" but at "rebuilding communities," primarily by spending a lot of money on construction projects and on government services.
Postrel mentions the experience of Kobe, Japan after the big earthquake there: things bounced back in a hurry.

The Japanese are so statist my teeth hurt. Why can't we do as well?

I wonder what it would do the standing quarter mile in

Thinking of other issues, I suspect the Russkies believe in the KISS Principle*: They are still using 1957 rocket technology. It works, which seems to be more than one can say about NASA's products.

It's a Cool Space Pic of the Day.

* Keep It Simple, Stupid.

New pixilated Army Combat Uniforms

ACUs are being deployed. Lots of Velcro, a Mandarin collar, and one color range to fit all battlefields. Click here: Army uniform gets digitized - The Honolulu Advertiser

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm not sure I'd use the word "exploits"

It seems to me that "exploits" is a tad too positive.
...based on the exploits of real-life serial killer Ed Gein and stars Gunnar Hansen as the axe wielding Leatherface.
All you culturally literate types recognized the flick which has now "topped a poll of the greatest horror films of all time."

We're talking here about the 1974 original of course. "The only thing more terrifying than the opening 50 minutes of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is the last 30," the magazine [Total Film] said.

Ed Gein was one of those Wisconsin fellers who made bad. There are persistent rumors, which I like to think are exaggerated, of Gein giving home made summer sausage to his neighbors.