Saturday, October 31, 2009

Herzog's Nosferatu The Vampyre

In a superb post at NRO, Andrew Stuttaford recommends Werner Herzog's 1979 production of Nosferatu the Vampyre for your holiday viewing pleasure. It is remake of Friedrich Murnau's masterpiece, Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) and Stuttaford calls it "the grandest vampire movie of them all."

Here is the opening scene to whet - perhaps "wet" - the appetite of all vampire lovers in the blogosphere:

Future Forests On The Road To Hell In Bozeman

Municipal governments have a responsibility not only to make cities function efficiently, but also to make them visually attractive. We also know that, especially in government, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Herein lies the challenge. How do cities find a workable balance between the built environment, its function, and a natural setting? The question has been asked for centuries. As one interested enough in human geography to make somewhat of a career out of it, I had my share of urban studies and landscape courses. Those studies took place next door to Greenbelt, Maryland, a New Deal planned town, and more contemporary and ambitious projects, including Reston, Virginia, Columbia, Maryland, and Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Furthermore, some of the best minds in the field attended nearby conferences and often visited our department. The two I remember most were Edmund Bacon and Ian McHarg, both extraordinary teachers from the University of Pennsylvania. It was an honor to receive such training and it proved valuable over a near forty year career. Today, it's turned me into an observer of urban scenes where the best of intentions sometime create opposites bordering on the absurd.

Welcome to Bozeman, Montana, home of Montana State's Fighting Bobcats and the fifth largest city in the fastest growing county in the state. Bozeman is a progressive city where "the environment" takes on an added dimension. If you don't think so, check out the city's homepage where you can get the latest information on urban chickens, toilet rebates, and sustainability. Nothing wrong with this. I applaud any city's attempt to improve itself, to take extra pride in improving the quality of life for its residents and visitors alike. All things, however, must be carefully evaluated from broad perspectives, then orchestrated through planning and construction. Once a plan is in the landscape, it tends to stay there for a very long time. Best get it as right as one can the first time. And the first step is to recall the dictum of the great American architect, Louis Sullivan, that "form must ever follow function." Herein is an object lesson for the well-meaning authorities in Bozeman.

This city of near 30,000 people serves as the commercial nexus for a much larger regional population as well as a service center for traffic on I-90. As expected, commercial growth has occurred primarily along a few corridors linking downtown with the interstate. The town was a convenient stopover on a trip my wife and I and another couple took last month following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and their Corps of Discovery to the Pacific Ocean and back to St. Louis. The four of us arrived in Bozeman from the west at dusk and decided to have a light dinner at the North 19th Avenue exit before checking in at our motel a few miles to the east. The first mile of North 19th is new, dense commercial construction. The next mile features more mixed use, but retains a strong commercial character. The key word here is "commercial." The overwhelming purpose of this area is to conduct business.

Unfortunately, Bozeman authorities have made it extremely difficult and downright frustrating for travelers or anyone unfamiliar with North 19th to use it safely and efficiently. There are two primary reasons. First, meaningful signage simply doesn't exist. Local ordinances apparently allow signs perpendicular to the highway only for shopping centers. We saw few of them, none over twenty-five feet high, and all of inconsistent design. If you own a store in the center proper or are an independent business, you have to rely on the name on your facade for identity. Too bad if your business happens to be 300-500 feet off the avenue, as scores are. Often, those signs were unreadable unless you had a recognizable brand.

If this were not enough, a second obstacle made sign reading into a physical exercise. The culprit was a tree-lined buffer anywhere from 25-100 feet wide. This challenge had us bobbing and weaving trying to interpret signs in the dark as we cruised the avenue at 35 mph. Granted, the intermittent planting of conifers and deciduous trees was attractive, but it did not help customers find their stores. Perhaps over time, the leafy trees will grow out of being obstacles. That will never happen with the conifers. I couldn't help noticing that once inside the buffer the vast expanses of shopping center parking were interrupted by attractive arrays of landscaped islands. Very well done. But it still didn't help me find my chili and salad.

After a half hour of searching a 2.5 mile segment of North 19th at the end of Bozeman's "rush hour," one of us spotted our destination. It was 300-400 feet off the main drag in the midst of other businesses and identifiable only by its name - a brand - on a facade. The place was essentially invisible to drivers coming off the interstate.

Finding our lodging was much easier, I suppose, because it was nicely clustered with other motels at the North 7th Avenue exit. Again, we never saw a free-standing sign and identified the place by its name on a facade. Once inside the cluster it was almost laughable to see that one motel had installed its brand sign at street level. The setback off North 7th and height made it almost useless from North 7th and completely invisible from I-90. The only exceptions were a familiar "M," not for a motel, but for Ronald McDonald's eatery at the end of the street and a free-standing, low motel sign at the complex entrance. All of the signage, though obviously regulated, had about it a feeling of complete randomness. Randomness doesn't mix well with interstate travel.

Now perhaps I've been a bit tough on the city of Bozeman and its well-meaning authorities. Some things, like those landscaped islands in the parking lots, they are doing right. The wooded buffer and absence of workable signage is quite another story. It may be a sign that officials are interpreting "the environment" to mean "nature" only and excluding the built environment as the other half of the equation. Furthermore, Bozeman is a university city - quite liberal, I'm sure - in the young West whose officials may be feeling a bit negative about capitalists and their enterprises. It wouldn't be the first case of "environmentalists" acting as anti-capitalists. Do they see business as a dirty enterprise worthy of being isolated from the community? Could be, for in spite of all the buffers, the tiny or non-existent signs, the sky-glow friendly lights - I didn't discuss them - and more, it appears that North 19th street has been zoned into nothing more than a huge, dreaded strip mall. Progressive types should be entertaining mixed-use zoning where businesses and multi-density residences co-exist and the car is a tertiary form of transportation. A little adjustment would go a long way to improving function and livability. Perhaps some Fighting Bobcats commissioners will read this post. I don't expect these decision makers to be urban planning experts. But they should be aware of basics; therefore, I'd like to offer them some advice to reinforce their good efforts. First, check out this SUNY Small Business Development Center site on signage, then this site on neighborhoods, and finally, this site maintained by the Congress For The New Urbanism. Maybe this information can soften the hearts of the more strident "environmentalist" types as well. We should all remember the power of the middle way.

Next year, we hope to return to Montana and Bozeman. I like the city, and I'm not alone as the place consistently rates high on any number of "best" lists. It obviously has enthusiastic boosters, a university community to keep it edgy, and economic growth during a national recession. All are good signs for the city. At least this visitor won't need signs next time, as long as he wants a motel room, and a Wendy's chili and a salad on the Road to Hell.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Feral Detroit

Our species seems to have a natural interest in abandoned places. Some cultures revere such places, some fear them, others find them a curiosity. I've blogged about this phenomenon a few times over the past year. Earlier today, City Journal sent me an email about an article in their Autumn issue describing how wildness is taking over parts of abandoned Detroit. The author mentions the contribution of two residents in their blog, Sweet Juniper. Clicking on the link in the article will take you directly to the wildness. If you like empty places slowly reverting to nature, you'll enjoy their work. Here are two examples:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Raid On Radical Islam In Michigan

Fox News is reporting on the death of a radical iman and arrest of several followers during an FBI raid in the Detroit-Dearborn area.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Will Scandinavia Be Next?

We've established here in this blog that meanings reside in people. For the most part, we share our perceptions and meanings in terms of common understanding. Sometimes, those meanings both define and confine people into the narrow corridors of obsession and paranoia. Unfortunately, threats to the self can translate into national illness, especially when we stray from reason into the netherworld of political correctness and multiculturalism. Here is a classic example from Penn State of what happens when reason is no longer part of the intellectual equation.

The Internet is full of this story. My source: Moonbattery

Iran: Scenario For Disaster

Peter Robinson has another important series of Uncommon Knowledge interviews in progress at National Review Online. This week, Victor Davis Hanson and Richard Baer discuss Iran's intentions and their impacts on a free world. The interview, even early in the week, has caught the attention of several bloggers. Your link is here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Future For "Cool" Science Fiction Movies

Ever since George Pal's remarkable production of War of the Worlds (1953) played at the local drive-in, science fiction has been a part of my world. American film audiences have always enjoyed being scared, even terrified when the subject drifted away from sci-fi to horror as it has in the last generation or so. And there's a third element in sci-films that can be so strong as to burn images in our minds. That element is "coolness." One good example of "cool" is the opening scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, you know it when you see it. John Scalzi delves more into the subject in this post at AMC's SciFi Scanner and includes a few of his favorite from the past decade.

Source: Instapundit

Our Town

Three weeks and 7000 miles on the road, much of it in new territory, generates a score of story threads, each one screaming for elaboration. The priorities are falling into place. The piles of reference materials with notes on notes get a bit neater but never what one would call orderly. Even the electronic outlines show signs of healthy word growth. Somehow, sometime, coherent essays will come out of all of this. For now, I'm still content to wander - and wonder - over the whole expanse of people and places over time. Occasionally, observations in search of comment fly off this great spiral. Here's one of them.

Vastness is a striking element of the High Plains and Northern Rockies. Distant features on the horizon seem pushed beyond unreachable by the perspective. There is a similar vastness overhead in that huge dome of sky, but interestingly, it seems so close that one could reach deep into it and grab a handful of cloud. But it only works directly overhead. Look to the side and the perspective makes one feel very insignificant. In sum, it is a landscape of isolation. At the same time, the great cultural quilt called the Public Land Survey System, a concept out of the mind of Thomas Jefferson, insured that settlers would have roads, schools and urbanization, at least on a small scale.

In the century or so that this region has been settled by the farmer, the miner, and the merchant, thousands of towns have indeed developed. I visited many of them, the smaller towns, on my journey: Glendo, Wentzville, Buffalo, Percival, Harlowton, Beatrice, Medora, Yanktown, Glendive, Mobridge, Forsyth, Roundup, Dickerson, Washburn. Some of them seemed to be thriving; others just holding their own. For most, the shining moments had long passed into the vacant storefronts, quiet streets, a subsistence economy, and aging population. Still, there was a sense of pride in those towns. The commemorations were evident in their vernacular monumentation to origins, the famous and infamous, the veterans living and dead, to love of country, and to spiritual beliefs. Elementary schools, regardless of age, were also well kept, reflecting the enthusiasm of their young charges who couldn't care less about the adult realities around them.

Why do these places survive? Whether it is yesterday or a century earlier, it takes a special kind of person to stay in the rural Dakotas and Montana no matter how beautiful the land. I can't think of more than a handful of my urban friends who would be interested. Perhaps these small towns persist because they are a product of the investment in the tough, isolated life around them. The sense of ownership, of "home," must be strong among these people as is the bonding. But, are the incentives social or are they driven by a range of economic factors from self-employment to poverty? I can't answer that. I can say, however, that today's small towns everywhere face a continuing out-migration to large metropolitan areas. It is a trend likely to continue. The towns in my list have lost many of their ambitious young adults to Bismarck, Great Falls, Rapid City and bright lights beyond. The older populations left behind sustain them and may do so in the future. After all, I expect many of the sons and daughters will return "home" to end out their lives in the places that nurtured them. Will that be enough? I suspect not, for abandoned towns are a rather common feature in urban history over much of the globe. As a man binds his house, so a town binds its people, but permanency is not a part of the formula. Let us accept it and move on.

I'm leaving tomorrow but I don't want to go
I love you my town, you'll always live in my soul
But I can see the sun's setting fast
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts

Friday, October 23, 2009

Clean Sex

Somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind, I knew there was a good reason to help with the housework. Actually, with several years of cleaning experience as a single adult it never occurred to me to stop after marriage.

Thanks to Glenn Reynolds/Instapundit for finding this piece of vital news.

Mean Living

If you've read this blog over the past year, you've heard frequent references to the "middle way" or "holding to the center." Seeking the middle way has been good advice in flush times in the U.S. and golden advice when the flush times soured. These days, those who own modest debt can sleep soundly even when the experts mention deflation. Those on the other end of the debt scale live at the mercy of the rule makers. Some of those rules are about to change, bringing wealthy voters to their senses and significant changes to their lavish lifestyles.

When you link to the article later in this post, you'll be reading about a neighborhood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I know it well from my time in the Washington area. The author presents a very accurate picture of the town as a crowning achievement in the pursuit of capitalism and the American dream. Furthermore, I can understand how that achievement could result in the flowering of Obama yard signs during the last election. When the time is very good, it is time to share the wealth.

But how will these Obama supporters react when the Bush income and capital gains tax cuts expire at the end of 2010 and in the midst of a prolonged recession? Can anyone expect Obama Democrats to support the extension of tax cuts with their new "programs" rocketing debt into the trillions of dollars? Perhaps sleeping with the enemy is in order, but I suspect images of torches and pitchforks will keep Republicans on their feet for the coming election.

In any case, here is Mark Falcoff's brilliant observation on the political and social realities facing those who both live and think far beyond the mean.

Soupy Sales

The wacky pie-in-your-face comedian, Soupy Sales, died yesterday. What a character. If you were around in the '60s and old enough to love slapstick, you loved Soupy.

New Target For The White House

Dick Cheney is the new target of the Alinsky Rule 12 tactics being carried out by the White House. They have made their choice, now watch carefully over the next week or so to see how this target is:

1. Frozen
2. Personalized
3. Polarized

Look for points that isolate Cheney from his support network, listen for the usual negative adjectives directed at his person as a means of rallying the leftist fringe, look for ridicule, hyperbole and the redemptive call to take the "high ground" with progressives everywhere. This is scary stuff, my friends. Thanks to Instapundit for the alert.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Huzzah Free Speech

May I propose a rousing cheer for free speech in the United States. With some luck, the Obama White House will overlook this indiscretion and allow my humble blog to continue. Though you may find this hard to believe in this country, the White House actually tried to ban Fox News from interviewing our pay czar ,Kenneth Feinberg, at a joint major media outlet briefing they have attended since 1997. The five Washington bureau chiefs from those outlets stood together opposing the Fox News ban. They chose to hang together rather than hang separately. The White House soon relented.

I'm glad the chiefs understand this behavior on the part of the White House cannot be a part of American journalism. Read the incredible story for yourself.

Confident, accomplished leaders control without controlling. That they feel such a need should be a warning to those who stand with the principles of the Founding Fathers.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Slump And Slide

Growing up in the Ridge and Valley region of the Appalachians, I came to enjoy studying geomorphology and cultural landscapes. Those interests have endured throughout my career and into retirement, so it's always pleasing to see the subjects presented to everyday audiences. The Sunday edition of The New York Times has just such an article on land in motion near Santa Barbara, California. Fire is an important component of landslides in that region; however, they can occur virtually world-wide, brought on by any number of factors. Interestingly, very little is known about the actual process or physics behind slumping and sliding land.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can Obama's Communications Director Be That Dumb?

Power Line's John Hinderaker asks the question, then answers it simply and completely in the affirmative. How else could you describe anyone who admired the philosophy of a 20th century tyrant who killed 70,000,000 of his own people? Amazing. And where is the state-run media on this one?

White House Invokes Alinsky's Rule 12 Against Fox News

The White House has used Rule 12 from Saul Alinsky's community organizer manifesto, Rules For Radicals, to attack Fox News. This is a simple tactic and one they have used repeatedly since the inauguration. In fact, it's getting so easy to recognize, I wonder how much longer it will take the average voter to catch on. The whining only goes so far.

Rule 12 is very simple: "pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it." It's a great way to divert attention from unpopular situations and rally the loyalists. Look for Rule 12 to be with us for a long time.

If you care about the fate of your country and don't know this book, you will not be prepared for next year's campaign.

Source: Jim Hoft, now blogging at First Things.

Tune Out, Turn Off, Drop Out

Victor Davis Hanson tell his readers why he is a cultural dropout in this new post in his Works and Days series. Source: Big Hollywood

Saturday, October 17, 2009

For Conservative Movie Lovers

Big Hollywood has a great series coming every Saturday if you are a conservative film fan. Leo Grin will be choosing one film representing each year from 1915 to 2007 and writing about it in an expanded multimedia essay. Read his introductory essay here.

Just to whet your appetite, here is the brief video opening the post:

Wow. Grin is a superb young writer - see his NRO columns - coming at his subjects from a broad background and rapidly working himself into a 21st century polymath. Now there's even more to look forward to on Saturdays.

Friday, October 16, 2009

American Tragedy

This story has been making the rounds on the Internet today. There is a high school in Chicago where 115 of the 800 girls attending are either mothers or mother-to-be. I've linked to William Katz's comments and story link because he mentions Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), a brilliant classical liberal and one of the 20th century's finest observers of the American social fabric. Moynihan warned his fellow Democrats and the nation of the dangers of certain welfare policies built into the War on Poverty. He was ignored and paid dearly at the time, including being called a racist, but survived the criticisms to enjoy a long career in the U.S. Senate. Today, much of the dysfunction he predicted, particularly in the black American community, has come to pass. Many agree that forty years of flawed federal welfare policies have contributed significantly to that decay.

Friday Afternoon White House News Dump

Right on schedule, when the weekend is on our mind, here's the dire news coming out of the White House announcing the nation's largest fiscal year deficit since 1945. Source: NRO, The Corner

Magnetism Isn't What It Used To Be

Here is some new science about magnets with one pole. The discovery has significant implications for computer technology. Better still, it could rewrite our understanding of quantum physics and cosmology. Source: Instapundit

NFL Owners Who Use The N-Word And Wet Their Pants Onstage

Don't wait for CNN to fact-check this story. Big Hollywood has the scoop on the "actual CURRENT NFL owners" who can get away with the divisive language Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner, says has no place in professional football. This makes Goodell look like a complete fool.

Your link is here. LANGUAGE ALERT

Source: Instapundit

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Has Been "Duked"

The political talk on radio and television sells plenty of soap and keeps the pot stirred for the faithful, but I don't think it adds much to the serious debate. It does, however, provide opportunities to expose politics at its worst. Generally, I ignore the entertainments, but sometimes the results simply cannot be ignored. The case of Rush Limbaugh and his phantom racism comments is one of those times. The slander coming from the left has worked its magic and damaged Limbaugh to the point where he likely has a good legal case against the lie merchants at CNN, MSNBC, and ABC. If the corporate lawyers at these "news" organizations can't find those nasty quotes in the original sources at the Limbaugh archives, El Rushbo, if he wants to endure litigation, could buy a network and a football team with his winnings.

Some of the best coverage of this sad truth, for example, this piece by Tony Harnden writing at, is coming from the foreign press. The Duke University lacrosse team scandal should have been a good lesson for the left, but they managed to escape relatively undamaged. This foray into falsehoods could have a far different outcome.


Here's a bit of instruction on the Weimar Republic's - Germany, 1919 to1933 - experience with hyper-inflation and some advice on surviving the money explosion should it occur in our near future. Source: Instapundit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Wall Street Journal: #1

Via Gateway Pundit, here is an article from The Politico reporting that the WSJ is now the top daily in the U.S., surpassing USA Today by about 125,000 copies per day. The Journal has long been more than a business paper. It's nicely balanced politically, although its editorial page does lean center-right. I've written before how my dad subscribed to the Journal in the late 1950s, hoping it would help him sweep his tiny stock portfolio into a seven-figure bonanza. Never happened. Not even close. Still, I came to enjoy the paper and even subscribed for a time in the 1970s. Today, the WSJ Opinion Journal is one of my must-reads. It should be one of yours as well.

What If The Recession Ended And All We Got Was A Lousy Economy

While our government plays some old Keynesian approaches to improving our economy, it's just not the same old dance. Shrinkwrapped has a perceptive post - loaded with tantalizing links - on why we could be breaking out of a recession and into a flat lining economy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Art Tatum: A Magician At The Keyboard

Today is the centennial of the birth of the extraordinary American jazz pianist, Art Tatum (1909-1956). He was virtually blind from birth, but had perfect pitch and lived in a musical household where he was picking out hymns on the piano by the time he was three.

Tatum's piano technique was all his own. As a child he learned compositions by ear listening to recordings, piano rolls or, later, to the radio. He often had no idea that he was copying in two hands a musical performance by four hands. Indeed, he was a magician at the keyboard.

If you enjoy the Great American Songbook and remarkably innovative play on all 88 keys, you need to listen to Tatum. And the opportunity to listen to him is easily at hand as he left us a large performance archive in his brief time - he died at 47 - among us. When you do listen as one who has enjoyed jazz over the last fifty years, you'll hear Oscar Peterson, Billy Taylor, Thelonious Monk, Johnny Costa and many others as Tatum dances effortlessly across the keyboard. He was so good, his legacy in music may be timeless. In fact, the great stride pianist, Fats Waller, once said upon seeing Tatum enter the club where Waller was performing, "I only play the piano, but tonight God is in the house."

And here is the almighty Tatum at work, performing his magic on a George Gershwin favorite:

Here he is playing a Richard Whiting tune with a title that describes the Tatum style perfectly:

For more information on Art Tatum, check out his Wikipedia entry here, and this National Public Radio Jazz Profiles page that includes eight audio clips.

Personal rant: My friends, jazz is genuine American music. It's insulting to think that many jazz musicians find a better reception for their music in Europe or Asia rather than in their native country. If you like jazz, spread the word. It is a far more creative and positive art than what passes for most "popular music" in the U.S. today.

An Interesting Question About The Fall Of Communism

The Soviet empire fell twenty years ago, but you don't seem to hear much about it. For the most part, it was a brief flurry of activity occurring at the end of a long and slow decline. [Dismantling the Berlin Wall, left, is a good example of news at the time.] In addition, the event may have impacted a large area, but reports seemed to focus only on celebrations on borders and other interfaces that made for "good" television news. There's no question that the end of the Cold War was a big event in the free world. Why have we ignored it over the years? William Katz at Urgent Agenda draws our attention to Reason magazine and its post by Matt Welch that may enlighten us on why we don't acknowledge this event perhaps as much as we should. Your link is here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Was It Giovanni Caboto?

Caboto? Cabot? Yes, it's the same explorer. John Cabot, often identified as the "English" navigator was really an Italian who financed his "discovery" of North America in 1497 - not just a few islands as Columbus did in 1492 - with English money. Leave it to those crafty English to Anglicize him and create mass confusion among school children and armchair authorities for centuries to come.

Could it be that all of the hell fire and damnation unloaded on Christopher Columbus by the politically correct "progressives" should really be dumped on Caboto/Cabot? James C. Bennett explores this possibility in a thought-provoking post at Free Republic.

It's Monty Python!

Could Monty Python make it in today's world? Jeremy Clarkson ponders this question in a TimesOnLine post. The comments are worth reading, as well. Source: Glenn Reynolds

Python forever!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Four Powerline entries for 10/11 are must reads: Paul Rahe on Obama's Nobel, a cache of Anglo-Saxon gold discovered in England, a film review of "Inglorious Bastards," and the new series of pamphlets being published by Encounter Books. The blog should be on your daily reading list; therefore, the link takes you to the blog, not the individual stories.

The entry about the U.S qualifying for the World Cup didn't make the cut. I'm not a soccer fan, but for those readers who are, my congratulations and best wishes are in order.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Thought On Obama's Prize

From William Katz at Urgent Agenda:

It is a dangerous move by the Nobel Peace Prize committee. Obviously it's intended to put pressure on Obama to be more like Carter, which is his natural instinct anyway.
. . . .

It is a terrible day, in which the cynicism of European leftists politics embraces the most radical president we've ever had. The world will not be better for this award . . . .

Read it all here.

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

We could laugh at this event and move on, but Daniel Pipes tells us why the award happened and the danger its aftermath may pose for American interests. Here's a sample:

The absurdity of the prize decision will harm Obama politically in the United States, contrasting his role as international celebrity with his record devoid of accomplishments.

Powerline's Scott Johnson has posted more on thus subject here, including evaluations by Professor Paul Rahe and Charles Krauthammer. The comments are frightening.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Diversity And The Leftist Victimhood Food Chain

One of the hilarious consequences facing leftists is the confrontation of diversity and multiculturalism with the victimhood hierarchy, a natural outcome of both policies. Sooner or later, anyone allied with the "coalition of the oppressed" will be faced with the need to choose one victim over another. Does being gay outweigh being black? Is a lesbian Indian higher on the scale than a disabled, transgendered Hispanic? Dr. Sanity highlights columns by Mark Steyn and Johann Hari in her discussion of this dilemma.

Exploring this issue is both humorous and tragic. When I see articles like this, I can't help but wonder how any rational person could embrace the identity politics we have embedded in our nation in the last fifty years.

Relativism Run Amuk

Gregory of Yardale posted a short note today on Moonbattery defining the madness that surrounds us under the "progressive" label. He draws attention to the announcement earlier this week that an Israeli woman won the Nobel prize in chemistry. At the same time, a few miles away in Gaza, Palestinian authorities passed a law forbidding women to ride motorcycles. One culture celebrates the achievement of women on the world stage. The other suppresses a simple public activity by women that would go unnoticed on any American street. Any rational individual who supports the spirit of freedom and equality as expressed in the truly progressive ideas of the Founding Fathers could not support that suppression. But today's liberals and "progressives" have no problem throttling Israel as an oppressive regime determined to crush the unfortunate "Palestinian people." That liberals of this ilk inhabit the White House should repulse all of us.

Here's the link if you want more.

Satire As Dissent

I can't pass up a good article on satire. Scott Graves posted this one at Big Hollywood, complete with a nice helping of graphics and sound. There's no argument that Graves also identifies The Peoples Cube - thank them for the illustration - as the top source of satire on the wire. Enjoy.

BTW, I've been a Marxist since early childhood.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More Cloward-Piven Activity?

Moonbattery provides us with some analysis of how a global tax proposed by the International Monetary Fund would bring about "hope and change" by driving the United States and the free world into financial ruin. Frankly, I wouldn't give this line of thought a second of my time, but it makes too much sense given some of the loony left policies emanating from the White House these days.

If the Cloward-Piven strategy is new to you, go here.

Singularity Summit

Here is a report on the Singularity Summit held in New York last weekend. Source: Instapundit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Scott Johnson provides us with evidence and comment on the blatant narcissism displayed by the Obamas at the International Olympic Committee meeting in Norway last week.

About ten days ago, I found myself standing in front of the home of Bess and Harry Truman in Independence, Missouri, contemplating the presidency of an ordinary, everyday couple thrust into the leadership of the free world. I suspect the Democrat party will soon wish it had a "Give 'em Hell, Harry" to replace the sorry example it and the state-run media ushered into the White House in 2008.

One Thousand Trillion Operations Per Second

Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) has posted an article about Kraken, a supercomputer at the University of Tennessee that has achieved the petascale - see the title for a definition.

Zora Neale Hurston: Keeping Black Folk Culture Alive

Learning never stops. That's good because the minute you stop learning, you stop growing as a person. Thanks to my daughter, I learned about Zora Hurston in an article in the summer issue of City Journal. The quarterly is one of my favorites and the article supports my contention that it is a hallmark of fine writing and essential information.

If anyone preserved and promoted the folk culture of Americans of African ancestry in the first half of the 20th century, it was Hurston. In the second half of that century, desegregation, diffusion, and assimilation all worked to diminish the culture she worked so hard to preserve. The fact that she was a conservative who believed in self-sufficiency and fierce individualism did not endear her to her contemporaries. Today, her soaring literary legacy and the folkways upon which much of it is based, have returned her to popularity among a wide range of readers.

You can discover Zora Neale Hurston for yourself at this City Journal link.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Calling Long Distance

Political and social upheavals almost always lead to displacements in time and space. Something as commonplace as a telephone book may answer the lingering questions that accumulate as people rebuild their lives and associations far removed from the place they knew or imagined. Such is the case with a 1958 phone book from Cuba, one that presents information and impressions of the island BC, "before Castro."

For the last fifty years, anti-capitalist forces here and abroad have worked overtime to create a negative image of Cuba BC. Thanks to Babalu Blog and its link to, you can explore the real Cuba before communism destroyed it. Let your fingers do the walking. There's nothing like an original source.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Our 21st century Voyage of Discovery from the mouth of the Missouri River to the High Plains, Rocky Mountains, and approach to the continental divide at Lemhi Pass has ended. It has been a long and rewarding three weeks. Traveling in the traces of Lewis and Clark was an opportunity for personal discovery that I will write more about over the coming weeks. OTR's news aggregation and personal comments on the American experience will resume, as well.