Saturday, April 10, 2010

Question O' Teh Day

If you had a pony, would you ride him on your boat?

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Insurance Company With An Army

Krugman explains what the U.S. government really is in one sentence:
The basic picture of the federal government you should have in mind is that it’s essentially a huge insurance company with an army; Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — all of which spend the great bulk of their funds on making payments, not on administration — plus defense are the big items.
I would have laughed out loud if my mouth hadn't been full of half-chewed carrot. Don't even want to think what that would look like on the keyboard. Okay, I forced the image on you. So sue me.

Google Tricks

The NYT offers 10 things to make your search life easier.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Comment O' Teh Day

The Republican governor of Virginia, Claghorn Leghorn, today amended his declaration of Confederacy Month to add in the recognition that slavery was very, very wrong.
"Wrong, I tells ya! Jes wrong!"
Can't figure out how it got overlooked, heh-heh.

TPM commenter DaveJ proposes his state do something similar:

WHEREAS the institution of slavery is an abomination upon the face of the earth, and
WHEREAS the southern American states seemed disinclined to end said practice, and
WHEREAS the aforementioned southern American states were in fact acting in a belligerent manner to secede from the Union, and
WHEREAS they continued to act in such a manner as to provoke an armed response,
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the citizens of Massachusetts commend their ancestors for crushing the rebellious spirit of the southern states, and commend them for restoring order to the Union, and commend them for defeating the South in battle, and commend them for ending the institution of slavery, and also for defeating the South, and finally did we mention that we defeated the South? Like, really, really defeated them. Crushed them, in fact. Wasn't even close. I mean, for a bit there it was kind of tight. Be we really throttled them once we got going.

Catholic Church: The Dowd Verdict

I don't read Mo very much anymore and have to wince when she describes herself as "adversarial." Yeah, and so is my puppy.
And I really hate it when she cites her brother Kevin.
Still, in this case, she's got a voice with some weight behind it.
In all the column, though, it's the following tidbit that gets to me the most, especially in light of the D.C. diocese's decision to pull out of social programs in that beleaguered city after the council legalized gay marriage and mandated health coverage for all spouses.
The church is dying from a thousand cuts. Its cover-up has cost a fortune and been a betrayal worthy of Judas. The money spent came from social programs, Catholic schools and the poor.

Poem A Day

It's National Poetry Month, which to journalists is somewhere up there with National Pickle Week, but nevertheless, I am signed up to receive a poem a day until the end of the month or they run out, whichever comes last.
Today's poem is the best I've received so far. It's so good that I will quote it.
 Note that the word "mute" (from Latin mutus and Greek σίγαση) is reported by linguists as an onomatopoeic formation referring not to silence but to a certain fundamental opacity of human being, which likes to show the truth by allowing it to be seen hiding.

And I caution you that you must be patient, make a physical and mental effort,  and pay attention to receive this poem. And then, I tell you, it is worth it.

I should write a poem titled "I Can Never Be Anne Carson, But I Can Dream, Can't I?".

Anne Carson was born in 1950. She received her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from the University of Toronto. Her books of poetry include The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (2001), winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry; Economy of the Unlost (1999); Autobiography of Red (1998), shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize; Plainwater: Essays and Poetry (1996); Glass, Irony and God (1995), shortlisted for the Forward Prize; and Goddesses And Wise Women (1992). Carson is also a classics scholar, the translator of If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (2002), and the author of Eros the Bittersweet (1998).
Her awards and honors include the Lannan Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Griffin Trust Award for Excellence in Poetry, a Guggenheim fellowship, and the MacArthur "Genius" Award. Carson is was the Director of Graduate Studies in Classics at McGill University and now teaches Classics, Comparative Literature, and English at the University of Michigan.
And I wonder idly if Carolyn Heilbrun had encountered Anne Carson before she (Heilbrun, not Carson) took her own life. And if she did, how she could not be filled with the desire for more, not less, certainly not nothing.
Idly, then, suicide is the failure of desire.
Forgive me, dear reader, patience.



Elena Kagan: Next Supreme Court Justice?

That's the current wisdom. I like it. I especially like three contrariennes on the court at once (Ginsberg would presumably wait to resign until later).
I'm currently reading Carolyn Heilbrun's book about life after 60. She was a willful woman who decided to take her own life at 70 because that made sense, but ended up writing the book instead. She took her own life in 2003 at 78, same basic reasoning — I will decide when I go — and it strikes me that she missed a helluva lot of of excitement.
Heilbrun struggled on the English faculty at Columbia and was bitter about it. She so far does not seem to have the perspective of the long view, so far making no mention of how far things have come. Elena Kagan, Carolyn, Sonia Sotomayer. Hillary is Secretary of State. We elected a black president and he's damned impressive.
Carolyn opted out the same year we invaded Iraq. Stopped in time. Forever.
I am heartened, though, that she gave up wearing skirts and panty hose at about the same age I did, and for the same reasons.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

American War Crimes Dept.

All the blogs I read daily are passing this Wikileaks video along, but it doesn't seem to have gone viral.
It's a little hard to take, because the conversation among the helicopter crew doing the apparent murders is so casual, so matter-of-fact. They don't sound particularly excited, certainly not overexcited. Just ho-hum, another day over Baghdad.
That said, it's 17 minutes and difficult to watch.

Oh, And Afghanistan

Taplin used this today. Wonder why?
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains. And the women come out to cut up what remains. Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains. An’go to your Gawd like a soldier.
        Rudyard Kipling

Quote O' Teh Day

or any day, for that matter, at Wikiquote
It's my Web site find for today and I have no idea why I didn't know about it before.

The point of quotations is that one can use another's words to be insulting.
        Carolyn Heilbrun

Monday, April 5, 2010

Is The Pope Catholic?

And other compelling questions o' teh day. For instance, who created the Vatican "state."
Ans.: Benito Mussolini
Q: How legitimate is the Pope's claimed immunity from prosecution as a head of state?
A.: Not very bloody likely sweet cheeks.

If acts of sexual abuse by priests are not isolated or sporadic events but part of a wide practice both known to and unpunished by their de facto authority—i.e. the Catholic Church—then under the command responsibility principle of international law (laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court) the commander can be held criminally liable. He falls within the temporal jurisdiction of the ICC so long as that abusive practice and the policy to tolerate it continued after July 2002, when the court was established.