Re-think that bicycle

And maybe the modern trend toward excessive personal grooming is not such a hot idea either, not to mention zippers.


“If you swim out in the ocean, the ocean’s always alive,” Saugstad said. “You can feel it. But the mountains feel like they’re asleep.”
This New York Times article about an avalanche is a virtuoso piece of multimedia presentation, combining a riveting story with fantastic links and video.
We watched "The Pink Panther" the other night, which came out when I was eight years old.  I believe that was the last time I had seen it.  My husband objects to the gratuitous insertion of musical numbers into movies from this era, but the jazzy/samba lounge-singer scene in the ski lodge is the only bit I remembered from childhood, apart from the theme song and the tiny pink flaw in the great diamond.

The dancing looks like fun, even for poor hapless Peter Sellars, the comic cuckold.  The people in these conventional American thrillers and comedies from the early 60s were so sophisticated and at ease in their society.  There was nothing sullen or dreary about their rebellion.

The fellow presenting the movie remarked that David Niven expected his jewel-thief-Don-Juan character to become a successful franchise.  No one guessed that Inspector Clouseau would steal the show.

How to talk to a moderate voter

In a comment thread below, Tom linked to a fine article by Kevin D. Williamson at the National Review Online, which I thought should be highlighted here.  Williamson cites three areas where conservatives fail to engage the middle-of-the-road voter:  (1) the best way to address risk, (2) the real value and dangers of economic inequality, and (3) how to rely on growth instead of on redistribution of a finite pie.  On the first point, he reminds us that segments of the population who historically were systematically excluded from the formal economic system will be hard sells on the notion that accepting economic risk is the best path to prosperity; we'll have to acknowledge their legitimate suspicion of the game.

Regarding inequality, he cautions against arguing that "merit and merit alone accounts for the diverging prospects of the very well off and the rest."  A free market doesn't ensure that merit will triumph, only that individuals' preferences will have more clout than those of bureaucrats.  A conservative's desire to favor individuals over bureaucrats doesn't rest on a conviction that all individuals are better judges than any bureaucrat.  It rests in part on a philosophical preference for individual autonomy, and in part on an empirical conviction that, although masses of individuals can make appalling choices, their inevitable failures pale before the even more appalling choices of bureaucrats.

On the subject of growth vs. redistribution, Williamson points out that the "people as useless mouths to feed" cant of Malthusian liberals sometimes raises its ugly head equally in the hearts of conservatives who back trade barriers and oppose immigration.  He recommends a focus on people as the engines of future growth and prosperity, and on the education and healthcare policies most likely to make that possible.

He closes with an encouraging look at recent conservative reforms in Sweden, all achieved without outraging the compassionate or liberal instincts of most voters in that very collectivized state.

"You Can't Cut Your Way to Prosperity."

I'm really impressed with this new line from the President. It's so perfect. It's obviously wrong, in fact the very opposite of true, but it sounds so good. It's a masterpiece of the genre.

If you have income of X and expenses of X+Y, cutting is an excellent way to prosperity. It may be the only road to prosperity. This is so obvious that I feel a little odd even saying it: the line from the White House is so obviously out of order with reality that it makes you feel as if you must be missing something to challenge it.

Nor is it clear whose prosperity is meant in any case. The line is being deployed in service of proposed additional tax hikes, which means that we can't be talking about the prosperity of individual families. We must be talking about some sort of collective prosperity. But the government has never had, and will never have, enough to ensure that everyone is prosperous. This was the entire lesson of the Cold War. Only a robust market can ensure widespread prosperity, and while the market needs some regulations to function smoothly, a heavy tax burden is harmful to it.

Of course, not everything coming out of Washington is so carefully scripted as this masterpiece from the White House. Sometimes plain honest sentiments do make their way into the discourse.

Thomas Sowell Against Republicans

It's an interesting piece that begins with a cheerful invocation of the nearness of death, but I suppose I can understand the sentiment.
The beginning of a new year is often a time to look forward and look back. The way the future looks, I prefer to look back — and depend on my advanced age to spare me from having to deal with too much of the future.
Near the end he asks us to consider what the country would look like if we'd had Judge Bork on the Supreme Court all these years, instead of Justice Kennedy. Of course one doesn't know for sure, but it's hard to imagine that the substitution would have been harmful.

I Feel A Little Less Eccentric Now:

The Red Book is an immense illuminated manuscript, which [Carl] Jung indited on cream vellum in the private scriptorium of his study over a period of about sixteen years, copiously illustrated with elaborate, vivid, and occasionally ghastly painted panels, and bound in red leather.


Too much of it. But it won't last. They can't afford it much longer. In the fullness of time, we shall live and die again on our own.

It's the last one that matters. In the last two minutes, he is the warrior calling them to account before him. To call such to account is to demand a mastery implicit until minutes later. Only then does the mastery move from the hidden to the explicit.

But to say that is to say that we have wasted a hundred years. That may not be the worst thing we might say.

Happy New Year.

God Send Us A Happy New Year

I'm doing a kind of double-Lent this year, starting this New Year's Day and ending on Easter Sunday. There are reasons for this which don't enter into the matter of this page, although some of you are aware of why I might do such a thing. In any case, I hope this year is better than the last, though if I look on it with proper gratitude it had much good in it.

Happy New Year to all of you. God save us, if it is right that he do so; or if He should choose, out of undeserved grace. Enjoy the feast, or fast, as you choose.

More syne

Maggie's Farm has a terrific punk Auld Lang Syne up, and here's a dixieland rendition:


Flags at Half-Mast

We're about to cross the line between 2012 and 2013. Lately I can't remember a time when I rode by the Post Office or the schools and didn't see flags at half-mast.

I'm tired of this, ladies and gentlemen. More than I've ever been, I'm ready to hear good answers. I haven't heard any lately, so I'm working on my own. Do you have any?

Luck, money, and the indispensable song

In the shape-note songbook, this is called "Plenary" and has gloomier lyrics than I can begin to describe, but I opted for the cheerful New Year's Eve version:

In the bleak midwinter

Not so bleak here, though the house is down to 65 degrees. But this Christmas carol is just the thing for frozen Northerners contemplating the advent of hope. That Holst can really write a harmony.