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Oh, don’t even bother.
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The Cordoba House site is “at” Ground Zero in the sense that it is within two blocks or so of Ground Zero. I am therefore licensed to tell you that when I lived in New York, I lived at 145 Central Park West. Damn, Bono was an annoying neighbor.

Via Berube, a nice Got Medieval post on “Cordoba.” More specifically, on Newt Gingrich’s claim that

some of the Mosque’s backers insist this term is being used to “symbolize interfaith cooperation” when, in fact, every Islamist in the world recognizes Cordoba as a symbol of Islamic conquest. It is a sign of their contempt for Americans and their confidence in our historic ignorance that they would deliberately insult us this way.

To the surprise of no one, this turns out to be stupid. GM:

So it’s easy to see why a group of Muslims creating a community center in the heart of a majority Christian country in a city known for its large Jewish population might name it “The Cordoba House” They’re not, as Gingrich hopes we would believe, discreetly laughing at us because “Cordoba” is some double-secret Islamist code for “conquest”; rather, they’re hoping to associate themselves with a particular time in medieval history when the largest library in Western Europe was to be found in Cordoba, a city in which scholars of all three major Abrahamic religions were free to study side-by-side.

Read the whole thing, and you’ll know much more about this than Gingrich does.

A public lament about how I wish you were marrying me! Leading to a jab from a colleague and then a bitchy email. Little did you know: your wedding day is all about your weird ex.

I agree and disagree with Scott; were Inception properly a movie interested in answering “is it a dream within a dream?”,  or even a film that tried to get us to guess, I would agree that it fails.  But I thought the movie succeeded, though it was good, but not great.   There will be spoilers after the jump, though nothing I think that would rob one’s enjoyment of the film.   Nor will there be a defense of Nolan himself after the jump; it would not surprise me that the man’s intentions could be defended, but the only other work of his I’ve seen is the Batman reboot, which was notable mostly for Heath Ledger’s performance, the disappearing pencil trick, and Batman flipping the truck.

What can I say?  I enjoyed it, and as a curmudgeon-in-training, I have a low tolerance for entertainment that purports to be about something big and philosophical but is really about the authors putting in random crap/polar bears and hoping that the fans will work it into their mythology and think that it’s deep, so I trust my instinct when I think there is something clever in a film.

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I’ve been enjoying the NYT series The Stone, but not primarily for the quality of its articles, which both have been good introductory nibbles  and have in general satisfied my selfish requirement: if my mother reads this, will she be assured that it is still unlikely that my discipline requires hallucinogenic drugs?

Rather, I have enjoyed the comments to the articles, for amidst the gloaming where philosophy and philosophers are condemned as of little interest, reasons glimmer like fireflies.  But the writer didn’t think of… What about this?… You’ve overlooked…. Maybe this shows that instead we should…

It makes me smile.  Thou art the man, thou art the man.

It’s the Evangelical Rathergate! Ergun Caner is an evangelical apologist who rose to fame after 9-11 on the strength of his biographical narrative: raised as a devout Muslim, he spent his youth as a would-be jihadist until he accepted Christ. He parlayed that story, and his credentials as an authority on Islam, into a speaking and writing career before becoming Dean of Liberty University’s seminary. But an investigation reveals that a lot of the story is fictional.

What makes this story so interesting is that he’s terrible at playing a Muslim. Or, more accurately, that he got as far as he did while being so terrible. Check out these videos, posted by one of the bloggers who’s been on this for a while: he gets the Shahada wrong. He thinks there are 40 days in Ramadan. He confuses “insha’Allah” and “alhumdulillah.” The Christian equivalent would be like saying Jesus rose on Christmas– just a straight-up, WTF howler to anyone who’s even casually Muslim.**

And yet this is a guy who goes around telling people about Islam. The only reason it worked is that his audience is pretty self-selected: how are they supposed to know that he’s reciting the wrong Arabic or just making stuff up? They have no idea. The story he tells squares with what they want to hear, and there’s no reason for suspicion. But this phenomenon has a natural limit since, as he becomes more famous, he’ll bump into people who can see he’s full of crap, which is more or less what happened. Once the initial stray threads are pulled, the unravelling happens fast, because a lot of this stuff is online, from high school pictures to legal documents. Even without that, an actual in-the-community interlocutor laughing at the guy is pretty potent antidote.

*The Jewish equivalent would be…hmm, make your own anti-Semitic jokes, I’m too sincere.
** e.g., your bomb-belt doesn’t match your shoes.


and also


Crispin Glover as Thomas Edison looks awfully like a swimmer I know.

You might have seen that extraordinary Terry Savage column in which she berated kids for giving away lemonade instead of selling it. If you wanted to read a satisfyingly irritated response, Mobutu is your man.

In fact, the crux of the whole discussion has nothing to do with the children—and certainly not the lazy analogy to voters terrified of losing their homes: it’s to do with the parents. Terry seems to have adopted much of the economic and labor ideology of American conservatism without the responsibility aspect. She’s yelling at some telescoped abstraction of the electorate, when the object of her ire lives in that house.

Of course, it’s important for her to shift the terms of the discussion away from the house, because the parents represent the most pernicious argument against her “just work harder and value things” ethic. The fact is that these are well-off parents, which means that their kids will probably be well-off. If the parents were poor, the kids would likely be poor themselves.

This is the great turd in the conservative work-ethic punchbowl—that as much as we like to ignore class in this country, it works with a particularly effective determinism in the vast majority of cases. If you are born middle class, you will likely be middle class. If you are born in poverty, you will likely die there. If you are on a lawn giving away lemonade, in front of a big-ass house while a full-time nanny watches you, chances are you don’t need to learn the value of a dollar. Someone you are related to already has, and you get to reap the windfall. You can probably win just by showing up. Terry Savage can’t acknowledge this without destroying the weak foundation of her morally and ethically tendentious arguments.

(Demerits for the awful phrase “morally and ethically.”)

Dsquared posits,

I think we can all agree that things will go better if all currently working monetary economists stop teaching their models to undergraduates and instead adopt my modelling approach:
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I can’t decide if the vuvuzelas are a war crime or a just retaliation for colonialism.

Also, in case your website needs more vuvuzela.

It’s that time again, once every four years, when nations from around the globe gather…

… to ponder why Americans don’t like soccer.*  None of the typical explanations are compelling.  Thus I rant, first in a series, in part because it will tweak eric, tongue firmly in cheek, and you may talk about games that you’re watching in comments if you like, or you may rant back:

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Or the American media? Or the Internet? Somehow I’m suspicious, but I’m too tired to think it through

XKCD scores with another historical item.

The mouseover text, which you’ll have to visit the site to read, is especially good; previously on this blog.

I enjoyed these.
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(a poem mostly cribbed from the writing of Hogan, at Redstate, as a followup to Epistemic Closure)

I frankly don’t know,
Don’t know,
Conscience, conservative, statistic, number.

Correct or not:
Goldwater, Reagan,

The facts were in the ballpark,
The principles were
Timeless and correct.

The facts were in the ballpark.
I have read.
Good book,
Good citations,
Good facts.

In the ballpark.

Linked for truth.  Moreover, suppose Douthat was right about the alleged permissive sexual mores of 1970s Ireland.  What, by all the angels and saints and the holy living mother of the fuck does that explain?  What is that supposed to say about the U.S.? Are we to believe that this sexual liberation permeated the Church hierarchy so thoroughly that they kept the vow of celibacy instead of permitting married priests, but decided that raping children was okay and then constructed a time machine to send the abusers back in time so the authorities could establish a track record of complete wickedness and uselessness?

Look, whether raping children is wrong is not one of the hard ethical questions.  (Maybe Douthat skipped that night at RCIA.) And deciding whether to protect the institution or the rape victims wasn’t supposed to be one of the hard questions, either.

“Contrition” does not mean find a way to blame it on hippies on another continent.  Christ on a cracker.

are having trouble with mice:

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: I thank the noble Lord for his reply. How many calls have there been to the mouse helpline? Has the accuracy of that information been checked, given that the staff report seeing mice on a daily basis at the moment in the eating areas? Has consideration been given to having hypoallergenic cats on the estate, given the history? Miss Wilson, when she was a resident superintendent in this Palace, had a cat that apparently caught up to 60 mice a night. The corpses were then swept up in the morning. Finally, does the noble Lord recognise the fire hazard that mice pose, because they eat through insulating cables? It would be a tragedy for this beautiful Palace to burn down for lack of a cat.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, there are a number of questions there. I cannot give an answer to the number of calls made to the mouse helpline-if that is its title. I suspect that it would not be a good use of resources to count them up. But I am well aware of the problem of mice, as I said in my Answer. It is something that we take seriously.

As for getting a cat, I answered a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Elton, last week on this matter. I was not aware that such a thing as a hypoallergenic cat existed-I do not know whether our cat at home is one of those. There are a number of reasons why it is not a good idea to have cats. First, they would ingest mouse poison when eating poisoned mice, which would not be very nice for them, and there would be nothing to keep them where they are needed or stop them walking around the House on desks in offices or on tables in restaurants and bars-and maybe even in the Chamber itself. Therefore, we have ruled out at this stage the possibility of acquiring a cat, or cats.

Further discussion reveals interesting insights into mouse psychology:

As I speak here this afternoon, the Bishops’ Bar and the Guest Room are being hoovered, so we can get rid of the food scraps from lunch. If you were a mouse, you would rather eat the crumbs of a smoked salmon sandwich than the bait.

Some low-grade British snottiness undone by some rather high-grade British self-deprecation:

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Why should I and noble Lords trust the Executive to deal with mice when they cannot deal with the economy?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I do not actually deal with the economy. I am glad to say that that would be above my pay grade, whereas trying to deal with the mice is probably just about right for me.

And, finally, the awesome revelation of a “mouse helpline,” if an ineffective one:

Indeed, I invited Members of the House to telephone when they saw mice. The trouble is that when the person at the other end of the helpline goes to check this out, very often the mouse has gone elsewhere.

Truly, the sun never sets on the British empire.


This is actually an interesting article on newish research into the complexity of obesity, but the word “obesogen” is making me laugh.   Obesogens make you obese!  This sleeping pill is chock full of the dormitive virtue!

We need a tag for lame Scholastic jokes.

In picking the soundtrack of a Super Bowl for the second line, blackink implies no Nevilles are necessary. Well, okay, but:

Granted, beating up on the burnt-orange and burnter-orange Bucs was not such a recommendation. Still.

“Brother John” b/w “Iko Iko” and ObMuppets under the fold.

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This is officially an award-winning blog

HNN, Best group blog: "Witty and insightful, the Edge of the American West puts the group in group blog, with frequent contributions from an irreverent band.... Always entertaining, often enlightening, the blog features snazzy visuals—graphs, photos, videos—and zippy writing...."