Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michael Graham seems genuinely puzzled that so many Massachusetts voters--even conservatives--don't like Mitt Romney.
I don't have empirical data, but the anecdotal is overwhelming: Mitt Romney hurt Massachusetts' feelings. He came, he won, he left to run for president. As juvenile as it may sound, quite a few Massachusetts folks act like a jilted bride when it comes to Romney.
"I don't have empirical data." If that doesn't sum up the problem with the glibness of conservative journalism, I don't know what does. Rather than actually look for empirical data, he decides on what's easier: anecdotal evidence.

I wonder if it occurred to Graham to do a simple poll. How many conservatives out there wrote checks to Romney two years ago at fundraisers on the explicit assurance he was going to seek a second term? And then ask them if they're pissed now.

In other words, if I may correct Graham: He came, he won, he asked for money in explicit pursuit of a second term, he changed his mind on a dime, and then he left to run for president. With his contributors' money.

Sound like a juvenile reaction to you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brady/Moss '08. Yep. That's the ticket for me.
John Ellis makes a good point in the aftermath of the Florida primary:
Speaking of Mickey Kaus. He used to have a feature known as "Mickey's Assignment Desk." The idea was that he would throw out subjects that required further investigation but that he was not inclined to investigate himself. And then he would assign those stories to good reporters. So here's one for Tom Edsall and Chris Isham: Where did all of Giuliani's money go? He raised, as I understand it, roughly $45 million. He competed in one primary. He did not spend $45 million in Florida.

Follow-up questions include: How much were his consultants paid? The ones who dreamed up the "don't-compete-and-win" strategy? How much (in percentage terms) went to private aviation? That's really the key question. When his contributors find out the answer to that question, how angry will they be? That's the other question.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Google Earth + PhotoShop = ... inspiration.

Pretty cool.
Edward J. Oakes, S.J. takes stock of the 'new' atheists:
In the ancient world, Epicurus scored belief in the gods for its fear-mongering; in the modern world, Enlightened and Marxist philosophers attacked religious belief for the opposite failing: for its attempt to extinguish an accessible and realizable happiness in the “real” world in favor of an imaginary happiness in the afterlife. But decades before such hopes for a this-worldly happiness would be dashed in the abattoir of the twentieth century, Friedrich Nietzsche had already exposed that illusion. What happiness? What “real” world? What improvement? What progress? Along with ignoring the French Revolution, one of the most telling features of the new books on atheism is their consistent refusal to engage Nietzsche, who, if read correctly, ought to make atheists squirm far more than he has ever caused discomfit to believers.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ryan T. Anderson reminds me that today is the memorial day for St. Thomas Aquinas, my favorite philosopher.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Peggy Noonan pretty much gets the diagnosis right:

On the pundit civil wars, Rush Limbaugh declared on the radio this week, "I'm here to tell you, if either of these two guys [Mr. McCain or Mike Huckabee] get the nomination, it's going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it!"

This is absurd. George W. Bush destroyed the Republican Party, by which I mean he sundered it, broke its constituent pieces apart and set them against each other. He did this on spending, the size of government, war, the ability to prosecute war, immigration and other issues.

Were there other causes? Yes, of course. But there was an immediate and essential cause.

And this needs saying, because if you don't know what broke the elephant you can't put it together again. The party cannot re-find itself if it can't trace back the moment at which it became lost. It cannot heal an illness whose origin is kept obscure.

I believe that some of the ferocity of the pundit wars is due to a certain amount of self-censorship. It's not in human nature to enjoy self-censorship. The truth will out, like steam from a kettle. It hurts to say something you supported didn't work. I would know. But I would say of these men (why, in the continuing age of Bill Clinton, does the emoting come from the men?) who are fighting one another as they resist naming the cause for the fight: Sack up, get serious, define. That's the way to help.

Friday dose of Krauthammer:
It profits a man nothing to sell his soul for the whole world. But for 4 percent of the Nevada caucuses?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Brother Guy Consolmagno, on the life of a spiritual techie:
The physical universe is simpler than the philosophical universe in a number of ways. For one thing, it plays fair: unlike certain religious hucksters, nature doesn't deliberately try to trick you. Nor is it subject to the vagaries and prejudices of the human being studying it, or the human beliefs being studied. After all, you're taught the same physics, often out of the same textbooks, in Mumbai as in Manchester; but by contrast, the proliferation of different philosophies and religions around the globe, and in our own home towns, each reflecting a different set of human conditions, human histories and hopes and fears, is a scandal that many techies have a hard time coping with.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Italian Scientists, Overreacting.
My, my, my, but what a tempest in a teapot. You'd think Italian physicists would have something else to get more worked up about. You know, like trying to pin down dark energy. But no:
In a nutshell, therefore, Benedict is being faulted by the physics professors for quoting somebody else’s words, which his full text suggests he does not completely share. (Readers who remember Regensburg can be forgiven a sense of déjà-vu.)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ryan Anderson and Maureen Condic take Princeton biology professor Lee Silver to the woodshed.
The continuing self-implosion of Roger Clemens:
“He fell into a trap he didn’t see,” Ein said. “Early in the interview, he said about steroids, ‘Where would I get the needles?’ But later, talking about how McNamee’s injections were only lidocaine and vitamin B12, apparently needles were no problem. I guarantee you that the authorities are going to jump all over that. He did exactly what you should fear would happen.”

Friday, January 11, 2008

There They Go Again
Sean Carroll with a good post on a panel of physicists who love flirting with metaphysics:
A few of the panel members tried to pin down Seth Lloyd on one of his favorite catchphrases, “The universe is a computer.” I tackled this one myself at one point, at least half-seriously. If the universe is a computer, what is it computing? Its own evolution, apparently, according to the laws of physics. Tony Leggett got right to the heart of the matter, however, by asking “What kind of process would not count as a computer?” To which Lloyd merely answered, “Yeah, good question.” (But he did have a good line — “If the universe is a computer, why isn’t it running Windows?” Insert your own “blue screen of death” joke here.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hitchens (Peter, not Christopher) with a fascinating and ominous piece on the state of Islam and the UK.
Not that it matters, but has anyone in the media offered the assessment that the late, desperate hiring on of the Buchanites, Bay with her brother lurking in the background, and their drumbeating for deportations, might be a key reason Romney quickly lost first Iowa and now New Hampshire?

Just wondering.

Rush Limbaugh had some fun last week pointing out all the old relics from the Clinton Administration standing behind HRC when she gave her concession speech.

There are plenty of relics on the Republican side too, and Romney's instinct to turn to them doesn't impress me much.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

George Will on the new populism:
According to Edwards, the North Carolina of his youth resembled Chechnya today -- "I had to fight to survive. I mean really. Literally." Huckabee, a compound of Uriah Heep, Elmer Gantry and Richard Nixon, preens about his humble background: "In my family, 'summer' was never a verb." Nixon, who maundered about his parents' privations and wife's cloth coat, followed Lyndon Johnson, another miscast president whose festering resentments and status anxieties colored his conduct of office. Here we go again?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Oh boy. If like me, you grew up in Boston in the sixties and seventies, you may recall the early days of bad movies on the local VHF channels, 56 and later 38.

If so, here's a blast from the past.

Sometime in 1968, Channel 56, WKBG at the time, started running nightly movies at 8PM (The Big Movie, I think they called it). I assume it was to draw viewers away from the local network affiliates who were showing I Dream of Jeannie, Here Come the Brides and, classics. Channel 38 followed with the much missed Movie Loft.

But on Saturday nights 56 offered Creature Feature at 7 and Tales of the Unknown at 8:30 or 9PM. Brain was a regular on those Saturday nights. That movie is burned into my childhood neurons.

Makes Night of the Living Dead look like A Man for All Seasons.
Cardinal Dulles' latest in First Things:
Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice.
I guess there's hope even for PZ Myers!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What have you changed your mind about?

Excellent collection of thoughts on The Edge.
A Stoli Doli New Year
This was only my second batch, and the first after several years, but as it was a big hit with my family this past Christmas, I'm posting my simple prep for those who might like to take a break from Belgian Ales for something different (that means y'all down South):

The prep is simple: get a liter of Stolichnaya Vodka. They have several flavored brands, so make sure you get the straight stuff, and not Stoli Raspberry or one of the other variants.

Buy about 3 to 4 quart-sized containers of fresh, sliced pineapple chunks. I went to Whole Foods, but you should be able to get these at whatever your nearest large market is. If you know your pineapples really well, feel free to buy and slice your own.

You'll need at least one clear glass, gallon sized container with a tight seal lid. I found a perfect one at Sur la Table at Chestnut Hill Mall.

Fill this to the top with your pineapple slices. Right to the top. Then pour in as much Stolichnaya as you can to fill it up. Leave just a bit of room at the top for the lid and a little air.

Seal it and put it in your fridge and forget about it for 10 days.

After ten days, take it out, pour the contents through a strainer into a good sized mixing bowl-- so you can separate the vodka from the pineapple chunks. Should look mostly clear with the slight transparent pineapple color.

You're ready to bottle it and enjoy. Every bit as good as the Capital Grille's signature cocktail.

I made two batches of these for Christmas, and it filled a full one-liter bottle of Stolichnaya (which my family promptly drank most of).


PS: For God's sake, don't feed the infused pineapple chunks to your dog!

Happy 2008.
This is how we spent the first day of the New Year. Montreal got hit with a foot of snow as we made our escape back to the border.