Friday, September 24, 2010

Teh Gays

are mad at Obama over the failure of DADT. Feh.
I'm watching the long game. And Andrew Sullivan easily acknowledges that the major gay activist organization is an embarrassing joke.
I'm reminded of that FDR quote to the effect that "Madam, I want to do as you ask, but you must make me."

About Your House

I sat in the barber shop last week and listened as the woman who cuts my hair and her 40ish male customer discussed strategies on how to sell their homes. He has an inherited one in this Victorian city, but doesn't want to let it go at rock-bottom prices and will wait until the market turns up. Yeah, right, I thought, having absorbed the speculation out there that overall home prices in the U.S. must fall another 10 percent before economists consider the market normal.
The barber showed off the big front-page ad she got in one of the regional housing shoppers. She wants about a mil for the two homes on five acres in the country that she "has to sell," but she'll take $75K less if they don't go through a Realtor.
Yeah, right, I thought.
I have other friends here who just took their home off the market, not a nibble in months, after their Realtor told them it was the worst market since 1967.
Actually, since 1963, since they started keeping records.
But it's better here in the West. Well, somewhere in the West, certainly not Nevada.

— There were 206,000 new houses on the market at the end of August, the fewest since August 1968.
— The last time unemployment exceeded 9 percent for three consecutive years was from 1939 to 1941.

Unemployment was, of course, much higher than 9 percent in those years. But still.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spooky! Whodunit?

I have always felt that cyberterrorism is an under-examined question.
But how about cyber warfare conducted by a nation state? Richard Clarke didn't say anything about that.
Stuxnet is essentially a precision, military-grade cyber missile deployed early last year to seek out and destroy one real-world target of high importance – a target still unknown.
A geographical distribution of computers hit by Stuxnet, which Microsoft produced in July, found Iran to be the apparent epicenter of the Stuxnet infections. That suggests that any enemy of Iran with advanced cyber war capability might be involved, Langner says. The US is acknowledged to have that ability, and Israel is also reported to have a formidable offensive cyber-war-fighting capability.
Could Stuxnet's target be Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, a facility much of the world condemns as a nuclear weapons threat?

Erm, About That Sharia Law Thingie

that we're all supposed to be so afraid of.
Instead of just blindly quoting Newt Gingrich and finding somebody on the other side to say "no, I don't think so," TPM actually did a little investigative real journalism.
Among the findings:
Numerous American cities now have one or more Muslim 'religious courts' in operation where believers go to adjudicate family law disputes, real estate transactions and various other matters according to Sharia Law by binding arbitration. These religious court verdicts can then be enforced by civilian American courts. Various states have also passed laws to codify Muslim dietary laws, though a few of these laws have been struck down. And numerous national corporations now process foods to suit Muslim dietary standards. Finally, one jurisdiction in New York has been settled entirely by devout Muslims; no candidates run for office except those approved by the local imam; road signs in the town are all printed in both English and Arabic; and various local practices have been brought into line with Sharia.
Actually, there's one detail I didn't mention. The law here isn't Sharia; it's Halakhah, Jewish religious law. And all the above are true if you change 'Muslim' to 'Jewish' and 'Arabic' to 'Hebrew'. (Actually, Yiddish written in the Hebrew script, to be specific.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Get To Know Some Interesting People

All the Paris Review interviews are now online.
Picking at random, Ann Carson:
“At least half of your mind is always thinking, I’ll be leaving; this won’t last. It’s a good Buddhist attitude. If I were a Buddhist, this would be a great help. As it is, I’m just sad.”
And then there's always HST:
“Who the fuck do you think wrote the Book of Revelation? A bunch of stone-sober clerics?”
I plan to use this daily as a sort of meditation. I'm no good at real meditation. Probably because it's just not real to me.
Rain, shower, rain, shower. The season has begun.

Are You WEIRD?

Yeah, unlike most people.

Worth A Second Mention

FrontSection is just the sort of thing I need at this time of night. Better than coffee and cigarettes.
In our imagination it is still 2003 and the idea of an aggregator of smart stuff with a concise, vaguely cynical tone is thus a novel idea.
Unfortunately, it's the weekend and I plumbed it all last night after MetaFilter failed to brighten the dark hours. Oh, well.