Monday, March 30, 2015

Hard out there for a hegemon

Vladimir Lukich Borovikovsky, potrait of Anna and Varvara Gagarin, 1802.
Shorter Ross Douthat, "The Method to Obama's Middle East Mess", March 29 2015:
Guess what, Bush was wrong. Cheney was right. If you keep trying to stop killing people, somebody could get hurt. The only way to ensure world peace is perpetual war.
The Bush would be the George W. Bush of ca. 2006, who suddenly realized that allowing Cheney and Rumsfeld to run the government was making him unpopular and staged a bit of a palace coup, with the help of George H.W. Bush's CIA director Robert Gates and, no doubt, other veterans of the brief reign of George I, and the Monsignor is stepping out to take a position against the coup and for the not-so-ancien régime.

No, he doesn't say that. Indeed, he doesn't mention Bush or Cheney at all. But after a good deal of work, much too tedious to report, trying to figure out what he is talking about in this piece, I've decided that's all he can mean, with a column devoted to attacking the concept of "offshore balancing", something that has only been mentioned, as far as I can determine, three times in the history of the New York Times (each time by Ross Douthat, starting last July), as if it were at the center of an ongoing controversy.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Cruzible

Members of the 1953 Broadway cast, via Hana Theatre.
...if Arthur Miller were writing The Crucible today he would likely be less interested in effusive senators from Texas and more interested in the more modern pathologies that the Cruzes of the world tend typically to disdain. Presumably, Miller would look at our universities and our media, at our malleable “speech codes,” our self-indulgent “safe spaces,” our preference for “narrative” over truth, and at our pathetic appeasement of what is little more than good old-fashioned illiberalism, and he would despair. Ted Cruz, frankly, wouldn’t enter into his thinking.
(Charles C.W."Cheese Whiz" Cooke)
Act 1

Spring 1692, a bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, where his little daughter Betty lies, apparently paralyzed, Parris kneeling in prayer at her bedside. The door opens, and the minister's enslaved Barbadian maid enters, rushes toward the girl, then steps back.

TITUBA: My Betty be hearty soon?

Templates in your head

Via SparkleBox.
Shorter David Brooks, "The Field is Flat", New York Times, March 27 2015:
Democrats could easily lose the presidential election next year. For one thing, they probably won't take Georgia, Arizona, or Texas. Besides, the voters have templates in their heads.
World-famous moral philosopher David Brooks seems to have been stuck for weeks on a slumming trip in his filthy old haunts, in the ghetto of ordinary panditry, whether owing to the agenda of his hidden masters or just boredom with moral philosophy. As far as I'm concerned it's more fun when he does the moral philosophy, but he doesn't care about my needs.

Today it's the elections looming just 20 months away, and a couple of articles from the National Journal, neither of them for some reason by Ron Fournier.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Note on Yemen

Updated 3/28/2015
The Main Bazaar in Old Aden, 1930s. Wikimedia Commons.
Iran Daily did a remarkably good Shorter for their dek text, though it's hard to see how they could have been doing it on purpose:
US Republican Senator John McCain has applauded the offensive launched by Saudi Arabia and its allies against Yemen, speculating that the “conflict will probably escalate” into a regional war in the Middle East.
C'mon folks, let's put your hands together and give it up for regional war! One can only hope, huh, Uncle John?

Not that he can't find something to have a sad over:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Annals of derp: Ted Cruz is an ignoramus

Via Flat Earth Society.
Senator Ted Cruz, as reported by Bloomberg:
"Today the global warming alarmists are the equivalent of the flat-Earthers," Cruz said. "You know it used to be it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier."
Galileo never denied that the Earth was flat, matter of fact, because he never in his life met anybody who thought the Earth was flat. It would have been impossible to even bring it up in conversation. He denied that the Earth was at the center of the universe, and got jailed for it by the Vatican, but the more-or-less sphericality of the Earth was entirely well-known to every educated person including his jailers. Ted Cruz is an ill-educated idiot.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Core element of their mental architecture

The Tehran Twist, 1960s, via Dr. Kaveh Farrokh.

Brooks asserts today that there are "three major strains of anti-Semitism circulating, different in kind and virulence, and requiring different responses," but seems to have lost track and made his 800 words with only two strains, strangely, and it's pretty clear there's only one he really cares about:
Verbatim David Brooks, "How to Fight Anti-Semitism", New York Times, March 24 2015:
In the Middle East, anti-Semitism has the feel of a deranged theoretical system for making sense of a world gone astray....
This form of anti-Semitism cannot be reasoned away because it doesn’t exist on the level of reason. It can only be confronted with deterrence and force, at the level of fear....

Monday, March 23, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew

Prewar shophouses in the "Chinatown" district of downtown Singapore in the Kodachrome years, 1960s or 70s?
One feature of the 50-odd years of People's Action Party rule over Singapore that I don't disapprove of the way I did in my first couple of years there in the early 1980s is the replacement of most of the island's "colorful" old neighborhoods with gigantic high-rise new towns, gray slabs of concrete looking from a distance like Clockwork Orange nightmare environments.

Cheap shot: Welcome to the Goat Rodeo, Senator Cruz!

Mabel Normand, I think in the 1915 short Mabel and Fatty's Married Life, directed by Roscoe Arbuckle.

Teaser for the New York Times editorial on Senator Cruz:
Anyone familiar with how government works, or with reality in general, will find the senator’s vision for the country problematic.
Hahahahaha. It has come to our attention, Senator, that you may not be familiar with some of the more mechanical aspects of our Constitution. It is unlikely that as president you will have an opportunity to abolish the Internal Revenue Service or exercise your First Amendment freedom to prevent people you disapprove of from getting married. Perhaps you'd like to get some lessons from Foreign Minister Dr. Zarif (Ph.D. University of Denver, 1988), who has a better grasp of some of the nuances, I believe. Not to mention reality in general.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sure it's racist, but is it really that bad? (Spoiler alert: Yes)

Registering to vote in Arizona (the History Channel wrongly says New Mexico), 1948.
So Binyamin Netanyahu made this election-day video where he begged the rightists to come out and defend themselves against the Saracen hordes:
The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out! (text via Politico)
So Bill Maher wants to know, is that really so terrible? I was reading about it at +972 and had to check the fuller text from Haaretz before I could really believe what they were saying:

Lede, buried: Insulin

Reginald Denny and Mary Astor in Oh, Doctor! (1925), by Henry A.Pollard.
Once upon a time diabetes was a fairly quickly executed, though exceedingly painful, death sentence, and then once upon a more recent time, starting at the beginning of the 20th century, scientists began figuring out how it worked, and developed effective treatments, culminating in the late 1930s with the development of insulin derived from pig or cow pancreata, which enabled patients to control their own symptoms.

Then in the 1970s, with the development of recombinant DNA technology, it became possible to manufacture a synthetic human insulin, which might have worked better in some cases, and was more expensive and hence profitable for the manufacturer, with the upshot that today in the United States the older animal insulin is no longer available and now we have patients dying because they can't afford the $400 a month it costs to treat it with the newer product. This according to an NPR story from this morning reporting on research by Jeremy Greene and Kevin Riggs published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine:
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