Saturday, February 25, 2006

Bye, Barn

Bernard P. Fife is the most consistent laugh-out-loud-funny character in the history of television comedy. I don't suppose there is a better eulogy than that.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Speaking of Greeks

Bryant's Gumbel's recent HBO commentary on the Winter Olympics included this nugget:
[T]ry not to be incredulous when someone attempts to link these games to those of the ancient Greeks who never heard of skating or skiing. So try not to laugh when someone says these are the world’s greatest athletes, despite a paucity of blacks that makes the Winter Games look like a GOP convention.
What's Gumbel saying here? That Winter Olympians can't possibly be "the world's greatest athletes" because they're not black? That blacks are, by nature, better athletes? It's all Jimmy the Greek to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Bigger the Lie . . .

Writing in Lebanon's Daily Star, someone named Bouthaina Shabaan explains:
Facts show that Europe is launching a new Holocaust against Muslims around the world. What is happening to Muslims in Europe today is almost identical with what the Jews suffered at the beginning of the century. Muslims in Western countries find themselves obliged to change their names and suppress their religious identity to avoid a racist witch-hunt against them.
Indeed, one can today hear lingering echos of the German Jewry openly calling for the extermination of all Aryans during the large public demonstrations that followed Germany's adoption of the Nuremburg laws in 1935 -- laws only marginally less offensive than the Danish Cartoons of Blasphemy. Yes, recent events eerily evoke the 50-year-old images of masked Jews poncing around Berlin with placards explicitly threatening to behead their countrymen. So bad are things on the Continent that one again sees the intellectual elite fleeing the Continent. The Arab Max Born, the Arab Einstein, the Arab Freud and Mann and Strauss, these and others have already fled. Yes, it's just like the 19030s.

Have these idiots no shame? Either that, or they have no history books. I suppose one is just as likely as the other.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Gump Rule

Stephen Spruill at NRO's Media Blog provides video of Bill Bennett, Wolf Blitzer and James Zogby discussing the cartoon jihad on CNN. Zogby does his best to prevent Bennett from speaking but Bennett feeds both CNN and Zogby their lunches regardless. Bizarrely, the segment is introduced with images of a dozen or so anti-semitic cartoons that have appeared in the pages of the Arab Press. Bennett remarks of the brazen double standard: "CNN doesn't have the solicitude it does for Muslims." Blitzer responds that Jews around the world want the images to be seen. On this, Spruill notes:
Blitzer didn't seem to realize that he had just illustrated why showing the Danish cartoons in the American media is so important. Jewish groups want the world to see cartoons like these because they know that such propaganda says more about the Arab governments that create it. Muslim groups don't want the world to see cartoons like these because these cartoons are about the use of radical Islam to justify violence. That's why CNN's decision not to show the Danish cartoons is disgraceful. They are giving into the demands of a faction that wants to censor the political content of those cartoons, and there's no excuse for that.
Bennett's argument, although brief, is pitch perfect. Near the end of the segment, he notes that, just as it is with Stupid, "Islam is as Islam does." The notion that a group shall be known by its deeds is not revolutionary. Held to that standard, is it any wonder Islam finds itself with an image problem?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Our Ownership Society

According the United Arab Emirate's website, Ras Al Khaimah is
the northern most emirate of the UAE. The Ruler since 1949 has been H.H. Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qassimi.
And what does the youger crowd do for thrills in Ras Al Khaimah? You don't want to know (but you will click anyway). Back? Okay. I have just one question. In fact, I have just one word:

(via where else).

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A New Low?

The editors of the NY Times won't publish the Mohammad cartoons. Good grief, no, that would be needlessly provocative -- and potentially dangerous. So what images do they opt to run alongside a story about the cartoons? Well, spying another opportunity to rub Christianity's collective nose in shit, the editors run an old image of the Virgin Mary crafted from Elephant dung. Why? Because if one is bound and determined to offend a religious group, one is better off offending a group that is most unlikely to seperate one's head from one's neck.

The editors shrink from offending the barbarians of modernity as they go miles out of their way to offend Christians. It's hard, though, to be shocked by the utterly predictable. And, speaking of predictable, the editors' decision not to run the cartoons -- their refusal to provide information essential to understanding the story -- just demonstrates again that they are, to paraphrase Roman Moronie, a bunch of fargin' craven bastiches.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Stephen J. Gould

Today's news of a previously unknown pocket of bio-diversity in New Guinea calls to mind Stephen J. Gould (really, how could it not?), whose lament for the lost Partula snails of the South Pacific has stuck with me. This discovery won't bring Partula back, but it might go a little ways toward replacing the evolutionary knowledge lost when they were unwittingly eradicated. Gould tells the story of Partula in Unenchanted Evenings in the collection "Eight Little Piggies." It's the first essay in the collection, so Amazon's Look Inside will let you read the first several pages.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Not the Warrior Princess. The new planet. That's right, the new planet. After going back and forth on the size of Xena (UB313), astronomers appear to have settled on the conclusion that she is indeed larger than Pluto -- considerably larger in relative terms.
Bertoldi and his colleagues, from the University of Bonn and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, determined the diameter of UB313 to be 3,000 km—about 700 km larger than Pluto. The astronomers measured the wavelength of radiation from the object to be 1.2 mm. At this wavelength, only the surface temperature of the object and its size—not the reflection of the sunlight— contribute to its brightness. Since surface temperature can be estimated as a function of distance from the sun, radiation at this frequency provides a reasonable estimate of size.
I'm firmly in the camp that would characterize Xena as the 10th Planet of the Solar System. I do wonder, though, whether the name will stick. Given its widespread usage and the ongoing debate over proper taxonomy, I suspect it just might. If you ask me, that's cool. And Xena has a single moon. Surely, it must be Gabrielle. Astronomers continue the search for theoretical companion-moon, Joxer.

P.S. Seed is a terrific online science magazine/portal. Check it out.

The Un-Godwin-able

German Chancellor Angie Merkel likens the threat posed by Iran to that presented by Hilter's rise to power:

Looking back to German history in the early 1930s when National Socialism (Nazism) was on the rise, there were many outside Germany who said 'It's only rhetoric -- don't get excited'," she told the assembled world defense policy makers.

There were times when people could have reacted differently and, in my view, Germany is obliged to do something at the early stages ... We want to, we must prevent Iran from developing its nuclear program.

Note that, unlike most others of the species, German politicians tend to offer Nazi analogies somewhat less than freely. If there's an exception to the traditional application of Godwin's law, this would likely be it. And, as everyone knows, a rule is often proven by reference to the exception.

The Cartoons

I suppose this is the big story right now. Truth be told, though, I don't know why it's a big story. Generally speaking, big news arises from the unexpected. It's not news that the sun rose this morning. It's not news that the sky is blue. But somehow it's news that Islamists are threatening beheadings, bombing embassies, and generally taking great offense over a handful of trifling cartoons that depict Mohammed as the patron of a modern death cult. Of course, none of the Danish cartoons depicts Mohammed in even a sliver of the negative light that Arab newspapers routinely depict the Jooooos. The Islamists ask "How could anyone be so gallingly disrespectful as to depict Mohammed with a bomb in his turban?" Well, d'uh.

From everything horrible some good must break through. Here, the good news is that most of simpering Europe is now seeing the Islamists for what they are -- a tribe of blood-soaked religious reactionaries who will stop at nothing to subjugate peoples of good will. In that sense, the cartoon controversy is the equivalent of the blitzkrieg into Poland. Although it may be too late to save the continent this time, here's hoping the Europeans give it a whirl now that the veil has been torn from the bloodthirsty faces within their midst.

To reward this behavior with apologies would be capitulation of the first order. As I said just about a year ago, the difference between the way contemporary society treats the sensibilities of Muslims and the way it treats those of all other religious groups can only be understood as a function of fear. Unless civilization withdraws the perverse incentive structure that constantly rewards barbaric Islamic violence, civilization will have only itself to blame when other groups begin to play according to that incentive structure. And then, civilization will fall.