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Canada and Denmark, finding a way to avoid war:

The National Post has learned that Canada and Denmark are apparently this close to hammering out a deal over Hans Island, the vitally important strategic chokepoint that has kept these two warrior nations on the brink of mutual annihilation for the last eight years. With a little luck and perhaps some Annan-style shuttle diplomacy, our long national nightmare might soon be over.

The plan is brilliant for its simplicity. There will be no exchange of atomic energy monitors, no prisoner swaps, and no gradual pullbacks to the positions the countries held on the first day of the costly conflict. Neither side will have to disarm its military forces or surrender commanders for war crimes trials. Instead, the deal under discussion between Ottawa and Copenhagen would take Hans Island, a rock roughly a square kilometre in size and — get this — simply divide it in half.

Always good to see diplomacy triumph, especially over such a strategically vital piece of land. One observer described it as “little more than an upsized decorative stone of the sort intentionally landscaped into homeowners’ gardens. The thing seems almost as if it is trying to look boring.”

Well, so there, then.

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The Muppets provided joy from start to finish. I knew we were in good hands from the first big musical number – part of which is above – “Life’s a Happy Song.” It gets a full, MGM-musical style choreographical treatment. It states the movie’s major theme (it will be reprised in the finale). And it also sets up the story’s major problems – Walter needs to reach Muppethood, Gary needs to reach manhood. It’s a nice piece of writing work. And the lines, “Life’s a fillet of fish … Yes, it is” still make me laugh.

Most of all, though, the movie suggested to me that the Muppets would serve us best by returning to variety television; the movie made me want to watch new episodes of The Muppet Show and made me confident it could succeed. Jack Black and Zach Gallifianakis would be great guests, as would Jason Segel and Amy Adams. The existence of Funny or Die and College Humor suggests today’s comedians and actors are game enough for goofy bits.

This should happen.

Titan arum1webA titan arum or “corpse plant” is about to bloom in a Cornell University green house:

[The] bloom…has been recorded only 140 times in cultivation, and perhaps that’s for the best, as the plant smells like rotting meat when in bloom. The strong odor and deep purple color of the inner leaf attracts carrion flies for pollination in its native rainforests on the island of Sumatra.

The plant has reached 66 inches in height as of Saturday, 3/17, and might bloom today. Live video can be seen here.

Life among the 1%:

Mr. Lolli-Ghetti has one of the world’s most expensive parking spaces, a costly talking point in a city where residents spend dearly to shelter their cars. His three-bedroom apartment at 200 11th Avenue — now on the market for $7 million — includes a 300-square-foot “en suite sky garage” that would be valued at more than $800,000 if priced at the same rate per square foot as the rest of the apartment…“Obviously, when you have a nice car, at least now you know you’re the only one touching it — it’s safe,” Mr. Lolli-Ghetti said. “I don’t think it needs views like this, but it does need heating and it wants to be inside.”

Don’t we all.

John Quiggin at Crooked Timber (among others) notes that Germany has finally acquitted its obligations under the Versailles treaty. Which makes one wonder, what was the greatest of the many errors at Versailles? I could write a post on this, as I have an opinion, but perhaps you would like to tell us, instead.
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I don’t know why I even bother with Thomas Friedman:

Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”

Let’s solve our problems by comparing them with Imaginary World ™, full of puppies and ponies and elves!

This is why other pundits think that George Will is an intellectual.

From my inbox this morning (all-caps in original, emphasis mine):

GREETINGS TO YOU MY NAME IS PAUL GILBERT ANDERSON (PVT) AN AMERICAN SOLDIER SERVING IN THE MILITARY WITH THE USA ARMY 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION OPERATING IN IRAQ. WITH A VERY URGENT NEED OF ASSISTANCE I HAVE SUMMED UP COURAGE TO CONTACT YOU. I FOUND YOUR CONTACT PARTICULARS IN AN ELECTRONIC ADDRESS JOURNAL. I AM SEEKING YOUR KIND ASSISTANCE TO ASSIST ME TO CLAIM THE SUM OF ($28 MILLION USD) TWENTY EIGHT MILLION UNITED STATED DOLLARS THAT I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY AND SAFELY MOVED OUT OF IRAQ TO A SAFE COUNTRY. BEFORE I WILL GIVE YOU DETAILS OF WHERE THE FUND IS, YOU MUST ASSURE ME THAT MY SHARE WILL BE SAFE IN YOUR CARE. AS YOU CAN SEE WE ARE ALREADY PREPARING TO LEAVE IRAQ. I WISH THERE IS RISK INVOLVED I WILL NOT DO IT SO I WANT TO ASSURE YOU THAT THERE IS NO RISK INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT BECAUSE THE FUND HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFULLY DELIVERED TO THE SAFE DESTINATION WITHOUT TRACE OF THE ORIGIN. LET ME HAVE YOUR FULL NAME, ADDRESS, AND PHONE NUMBER.

Always good to see email scammers keeping up to date on current affairs.

The new round of arguments by libertarians that American liberty was at a high-water mark in 1880

Let’s consider, say, the year 1880. Here was a society in which people were free to keep everything they earned, because there was no income tax. They were also free to decide what to do with their own money—spend it, save it, invest it, donate it, or whatever. People were generally free to engage in occupations and professions without a license or permit. There were few federal economic regulations and regulatory agencies. No Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, bailouts, or so-called stimulus plans. No IRS. No Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor. No EPA and OSHA. No Federal Reserve. No drug laws. Few systems of public schooling. No immigration controls. No federal minimum-wage laws or price controls. A monetary system based on gold and silver coins rather than paper money. No slavery. No CIA. No FBI. No torture or cruel or unusual punishments. No renditions. No overseas military empire. No military-industrial complex.

As a libertarian, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a society that is pretty darned golden.

—has been ably met by the appropriate choruses of “are you high?’ Because you’re leaving out African Americans, and women, and whole classes of people who didn’t enjoy this vaunted liberty.

But this is a tedious and silly argument even if we stick to looking at honky men.

(1) In 1880, you had a protective tariff, a.k.a. industrial policy, a.k.a. machinery for corruption by taking the voters’ money, such that tariff duties collected ran to about thirty percent of the value of imports (as opposed to around 2 percent today). It’s worth noting that the argument for an income tax was not just to punish the rich for making so much money; it was to replace the tariff as a source of federal revenue.

(2) In 1880, you had powerful governments willing to break strikes and extensively regulate business practices; these governments make up a strange class of entities that in this country we know as states and their powers are visible in the 1873 Slaughterhouse cases, as elsewhere.

(3) In 1880 you had restrictions on immigration under the Page Act of 1875, keeping out convicts and prostitutes (hey, if you’re going to be a libertarian) and also creating a permitting system for Chinese and Japanese immigrants. This latter provision was prelude to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Noting that leads finally to

(4) Picking 1880 is a bit of a con anyway; by 1882 you do have the Chinese Exclusion Act, and as recently as 1877 you still had the remnants of something resembling an activist government working on behalf of civil rights in the South.

So even if you grant all the wacky, racist, sexist premises here, and discount items 1-3 above, you’re still looking at a five-year anomaly 1877-1882, rather than the normal way things used to be.

I feel compelled to note that, despite a gloriously flattering article on Harvard basketball, its star Jeremy Lin, and its power-recruiting coach Tommy Amaker, the road to the Ivy Championship still goes through Ithaca, NY. It’s a two-lane, winding state highway with cars on it that will make it from 0-60 any day now, but Harvard was kind enough not to break the speed limit in Saturday’s game.

I like Mary Beard’s TLS blog. But this time I fear she has Gone Too Far. Or, perhaps more likely, she’s pulling our collective leg — though I don’t remember her pulling it in quite this manner before. Even out here at the veriest Edge, the cityscape is clotted with victors’ memories of the War of Eastern Aggression. Just yesterday I was out picknicking with fellow parents of future yuppies at the Black Point Battery; and of course the map is full of streets named for Vicksburg, Grant, Lincoln and the Union. (Not to speak of the Confederate general from Big Sur.)

Need we quote Faulkner again?

Image by Flickr user maduarte used under a Creative Commons license.

Robert Halford made a compelling point yesterday, which I will rephrase as a question:  given that the absolute best thing that we can say about Roman Polanski’s conduct is that he raped a drugged and drunk thirteen-year-old and that grand jury testimony by design is one-sided, why should we even bother considering it?  What he’s done is bad enough and the jerk should be in prison, runs the argument, and what he might have done is speculative enough, that the prudent thing to do should be to focus on the agreed upon facts lest speculation become a distraction.

I disagree.  While we can’t know what the facts are with a high degree of certainty, I think that knowing what the grand jury testimony said, and that although the victim forgives him, she has not recanted her claims, is highly relevant to how we think about this case.  My reasoning, such as it is, after the jump:
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Sometime the Times slides its cluelessness past slowly and subtly, in a way that leads to doubletakes rather than immediate outrage. Sometimes, however, the Times comes in through the front door and tracks mud across the carpet on its way to beat you over the head while bringing in a faint smell of rotting fish. This week, it was the latter:

  1. On July 30, the newspaper ran an article on how the Germans ease layoffs by having laid-off workers carried on payrolls that are funded partly by the laying-off company and partly by the government. They can get retraining and job help while in this position, and the psychological effect is apparently different and more beneficial than for those who are unemployed. All-in-all, an interesting and seemingly worthy attempt to deal with unemployment in a way that focuses on the health of the workers and the companies, rather than just the latter. How did the Times treat it? As if it were just a German attempt to massage the unemployment figures, one of Germany’s “creative ways to keep people off the jobless roles, whether they have work to do or not.” It continued to slip in the knife in the next paragraph. “Politicians laud the measures…as a bridge over the steepest period of economic collapse…but many economists argue that [it] could undermine confidence in the fall.” We can’t have that undermining of confidence; never mind that the Germans may actually be keeping people integrated into the workforce. In America, we fire people and if they stop looking for work, they just stop counting. That’ll learn them.
  2. Read the rest of this entry »

Douthat:

This ideal has had a tough 10 months. It’s been tarnished by Palin herself, obviously. With her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues, she’s botched an essential democratic role — the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson down to Harry Truman.

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

I’m sorry, what? “Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” or “humble beginnings” or “son of a millworker”  or whatever nonsense does not mean “remain mediocre your whole life and get handed the Presidency.”  Jackson was a military man.  Truman had decades of experience before becoming President.  Neither of them winked in a job interview. (Neither of them quit, either.) People love Sarah Palin because until she became McCain’s running mate, she was already a rising star in her own right and a darling of the conservative Christian wing.

I don’t know if Palin herself is to blame for how badly her national debut was mishandled (it’s not like McCain’s team was running an excellent campaign), but the knock on her most certainly wasn’t that she didn’t go to Harvard.    Her story is compelling.   Everything else wasn’t.

More to the point, the last three Democratic Presidents all fit Douthat’s imagined model.  Humble beginnings, check.  Working hard using one’s natural gifts, check.  Rising to great heights due to a combination of luck and those gifts, check.   It’s even true of Reagan.

I realize anti-intellectualism has always run deep in this country, a sort of crazy American blend of believing in education and hard work and the common man who can show up the snob all at the same time.   It’s a good crazy, most of the time.  But I’m not sure when it became a pillar of contemporary conservative punditry (I won’t say contemporary conservatism, because they send their kids to the Ivies, too, including Douthat) that working hard and succeeding meant that you were suddenly un-American.    The Connecticut Yankee wasn’t fancy, but knew what he was talking about.

And you have to wonder if that’s the message they mean to send.   Douthat says the message to America from Palin’s experience  is “don’t even think about it”, but increasingly the message from the conservative punditry re: Obama, Sotomayor seems to be “don’t succeed.”

Our loyal readers who also surf political blogs have probably noticed the flap over Dijongate, wherein reality descends madly into satire as the blogsphere ponders the political meaning of Obama’s decision to order Dijon mustard on a hamburger (and whether the media hushed it up to make him seem like a regular Joe!)  Anxious to do our part, we at EoTAW have discovered the real reason Obama ordered spicy Dijon rather than regular yellow mustard:

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Though I do wonder what experiences led them to charge for extra emails:

We discourage any lengthy-frequent-repetitive contacts with this journal. For the complexity of AEQ review process see Flowchart. The Journal’s ten year publishing experience suggests maximum 8 e-mail/postal contacts
between the author and AEQ as the norm

  • 1) submission
  • 2) submission clarification
  • 3) copyright
  • 4) extra contact

You must complete the above 3 in maximum 4 e-mail/postal contacts. Otherwise, your submission
will be rejected or rescheduled for consideration until the next available issue.

  • 5) reviews
  • 6) reviews clarification
  • 7) final copy
  • 8) extra contact

Exceeding eight contacts may disqualify your submission from further consideration or require $45 redactory fee. as it drives up journal’s administrative cost above the forty-five fifty-seven dollars average per one submission.
Hence, in order to work efficiently, we had to establish “eight contacts limit” per one submission.

Love the strikethrough of the “forty-five” in the last paragraph. “See how much our costs are going up!”

Are there charges for facebooking them? Twitter?

The flowchart link leads to the following (after the jump, so as not to suck up the entire front page).

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Dear Texas Legislature,

I am given to understand that you are considering making it legal for students over the age of 21 to carry concealed weapons on campus.   The thought is that doing so would prevent mass murders like the one that happened at Virginia Tech.

It’s a pleasant daydream for these Walther Mittys.  One can imagine any number of ways, all out of bad action movies.  The tall young professor with the twinkling blue eyes, his class interrupted by a gunman, athletically rolls under the desk, brings up his weapon, and fires two shots into the torso of the assailant… the alternachick literature prof who had been a pacifist until she learned the error of her ways in Guatemala, pulls her weapon from her organic hemp rucksack, and wounds the gunman in the leg…. the elderly don with the tweed blazer and bowtie, calmly firing his antique revolver, ejaculating “You shall not interrupt my lecture on Charlemagne, you cur!”

(“It says, ‘Puppies bark for it’, on the box.”)

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Dude overheard:

Brah, you watch Watchmen yet?… Brah, you got to. It’s like 300, but the story is all like deep and sh*t.

This keeps getting better and better.

First, the American Philosophical Association moves its Central Division meeting from April to February.  The Central often serves as a location for interviews for visiting appointments for the following fall, which have usually been advertised in the February “Jobs for Philosophers”, an advertising service run (I use the term loosely) by the APA.

Dates of Central Division Meeting: Feb 18-21.

Dates of publication of the JFP:  Feb. 20.*

FAIL.

But everyone’s known about this for weeks!  What’s new from the recently published JFP?

This gem of an ad:

FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY – FAU, BOCA RATON, FL. ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, COUNSELING CENTER, Florida Atlantic University. The Assistant Director provides psychological services for Florida Atlantic University students and provides administrative and supervisory leadership of the Counseling Center and its staff during periods of the Director’s absence. In addition, the Counseling Center is seeking a clinical psychologist to coordinate the substance abuse program, supervise the main substance abuse treatment counselor and provide some assessment and treatment services.[…]

Yes, that’s right.  An ad for a clinical psychologist.

Presumably, the HR department at FAU was told to place an ad in the APA and picked the wrong P.

I am not certain why our governing organization didn’t notice.


*Leading to ads that end like this: … “Review of applications will begin February 13, 2009. Receipt at XXXX no later than March 7, 2009 to be considered for an interview at the Central APA. posted 2/20/09.”

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