Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Job for Jim

Speaking of people for whom I thought there was no job, it looks like there still is a market for Notre Dame classics majors. From National Review Online:

Aaaaaaaaaarrrgh! [John Derbyshire]

A reader, in re my Neal Stephenson review in the current issue of New Atlantis:

"One annus mirabilis, two anni mirabiles. See e.g. here."

Normally I'd shrug this off with a breezy "Blame the editor!" That's what editors are for. However, after four years of Latin, I really should have known better, so I'm going to claim this blooper as all my own and do appropriate penance—decline a few nouns, perhaps.

05/24 09:19 AM


RE: Aaaaaaaaaarrrgh! [Yuval Levin]

Derb, as one of the New Atlantis editors you would blame, I accept it, and the accompanying shame. I think your post will have Adam Keiper—our fantastically detail oriented chief—all the more obsessed with grammatical precision (and Latin) than he is already. Shipments of ultra fine tooth combs are surely on their way to the office, along with interns from Notre Dame.

Do they still teach Latin at Notre Dame?

05/24 09:39 AM

They sure do, Yuval. They sure do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My new title

Apropos of this and this, I've decided to make myself the official "blog czar" of Whatever Happened to Crazy?.

Also, there was a fantastic letter to the editor in a Madison paper the other day about how we don't need a "war czar," we need a "peace czar." And just when I thought there were no jobs fit for Dennis Kucinich.

NBC Finale Recap

Scrubs: I thought the "cliffhanger" was monumentally stupid, for the reason Jim pointed out. Cliffhangers only work when there's uncertainty over what will happen. And J.D. and Elliot simply can't get together at this stage. It would make both of them thoroughly unlikeable characters for the remainder of the show. And what's the deal with a three-year-old Godfather?

The Office: Really enjoyed this one. Although the Jim-Pam dynamic was fairly predictable, the payoff was still fulfilling because the writers have done such a good job setting up the story arc for three seasons. Also, the job interview scenes were really funny. This season's Office cast has my favorite of any TV show for at least the past five years, with the addition of Andy putting it over the top.

Heroes: Reminded me of The Fantastic Four (which I enjoyed more than some people), in that the climax was far too rushed. It seemed like everything was thrown together in the big fight scene, and all of a sudden it was over. Still, the final scene (Hiro's time travel) did a fantastic job of setting the stage for the next season.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Your Friendly Neighborhood Political Update

A spot-on op-ed by Bob-not John-Kerrey in todays WSJ:

He makes a point I've been arguing for a while now but that it's good to see a Democrat make:
Suppose we had not invaded Iraq and Hussein had been overthrown by Shiite and Kurdish insurgents. Suppose al Qaeda then undermined their new democracy and inflamed sectarian tensions to the same level of violence we are seeing today. Wouldn't you expect the same people who are urging a unilateral and immediate withdrawal to be urging military intervention to end this carnage? I would.
Even if one were to concede all of the Liberal talking points about Bush's malfeasence prior to the war. That does not change the reality that we are already there and that many more Iraqis would die were we to precipitously leave.

There was also an interesting paragraph where Kerrey shows himself to be very much the hawk (moreso than yours truly), twisting Jim Webb's words in ways I'm sure Webb wouldn't be comfortable with:
Finally, Jim Webb said something during his campaign for the Senate that should be emblazoned on the desks of all 535 members of Congress: You do not have to occupy a country in order to fight the terrorists who are inside it. Upon that truth I believe it is possible to build what doesn't exist today in Washington: a bipartisan strategy to deal with the long-term threat of terrorism.

The American people will need that consensus regardless of when, and under what circumstances, we withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq. We must not allow terrorist sanctuaries to develop any place on earth. Whether these fighters are finding refuge in Syria, Iran, Pakistan or elsewhere, we cannot afford diplomatic or political excuses to prevent us from using military force to eliminate them.

Tough words. Kerrey appears to be far more of a cowboy than Bush has ever been.

Here are some links to two good, old fashioned Carter bashing. Oh, how I enjoy it. To be fair the Investor Business Daily editorial is a little bit over the top. Despite his many faults Carter does not bear primary responsibility for the majority of the world's wills, but then I didn't have to live through Carter. Some exaggeration can be excused. Murchison's article is more balanced and captures Carter's moralizing tone very well.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Here's the definition:
a pin, or either of two pins, inserted into a gunwale to provide a fulcrum for an oar.
Picture tells it the best though, obviously.

Why ND Nation Rocks

ND Nation is weird place. A hypercritcal place. A place with a very, very narrow tunnelvision. As long as you keep those three things in mind, it's a great source for Notre Dame football and just general news and opinion.

It can also be hilarious. Ah the joys of an educated fan base.

Mmmm . . . deoderant puns . . .


Knew there had to be a cliff hanger (Unless I'm wrong, only the third season didn't have one.), so I saw that one coming. Of course, we don't really see anything. I'm guessing nothing happens (or least not that much) between JD and Elliot. JD's kid kinda rules that option out. Of course, maybe JD and Eliot will get together, and then Kim and Keith will realize they're perfect for each other.

Question. How do you "innocently" come to lie next to a girl (even if she is a good friend) in bed?

Addendum: I should probably add that I thought that the final two episodes were well done, and the show definitely hit a new stride during the sixth season. Probably the best since Season 3.

Friday, May 18, 2007

This depresses me.

I knew Jacob was a popular name, but this just upsets me. I really don't want my son to be one of 11 'Jacobs' in his class. I suppose the only way we're going to get around that is to call him by his unofficial name, Jacobim:

Also, just because it has to be said, seven of the 10 girls names on that list are ridiculous. No son of mine will marry a "Madison."

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Virtues of Mad

I always thought this was a brilliant idea for a sketch:

Couple of Things

I love (LOVE!) the fact that the scientist doing the herpes reseach is named Dr. Virgin.

Also, in my memory, the first couple of seasons of Mad TV were pretty good. It's been a while, and I was pretty young, but I really liked it. It helped that SNL was in a pretty down period, but the cast was pretty talented: Artie Lange, Orlando Jones, Phil Lamarr, Nicole Sullivan, and David Herman (Office Space's incomparable Michael Bolton) were all pretty funny.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

That's Interesting

I can see the scene now.

Doctor: Well, I've got good news, and I've got bad news . . .

Windstorm 2007

That's a riff on Mad TV for all you young'uns out there. And yes, I was once young and foolish enough to watch Mad TV.

Can I mention how impressed I am with the narrator? An almost professional job. I also found it amusing how he said hi to the girls who walked past him.

Ron Paul smells funny.

He also hates puppies.

Just following J-Pod's advice to boost traffic here.

In all honesty, he (Paul, not J-Pod) is quite the kook. As of now, I am ignorant as to his personal hygiene and his attitude towards undeveloped canines.

John Hood Makes a Lot of Sense; Jackson? Not So Much

From the Corner:
Reviewing outtakes from last night's GOP debate, some Democratic blogging, and poll averages, a few quarter-baked thoughts have come to mind.

First, if the war is the prime voting issue, the top three GOP candidates would all make credible presidents. Among the top Dems, only Hillary Clinton would. As an American, and particularly as a Southern Scotch-Irish win-at-all-costs type, I find myself hoping for Clinton as the nominee, thus to reduce lethal risk to the Republic.

However, despite her great talents and resources, I still think Clinton is the weakest candidate for Democrats. She brings lots of baggage. She splits the base on the war. She annoys independent voters ready for a fresh face. I know it's way early, but the head-to-head polls show her to be weaker than Obama or Edwards against the Republican field.

Plus, the GOP race is not yet fully formed. Newt Gingrich said earlier this week that he will probably get it in September (he's speaking to my group in NC on Thursday, so I'm hoping for more details). Fred Thompson seems likely to get in, too. Their hovering over the current field has distorted the polling significantly, as they are collectively drawing about 20 percent of the primary electorate — consisting of conservative stalwarts and disaffected partisans (not exactly the same) who don't like Giuliani or McCain and don't really know who Romney is. Once Thompson and Gingrich get in, things will change dramatically. Could be that they'll just further the split, making it a Giuliani-McCain matchup by default and re-creating a 1996 dynamic. Or there could be flame-outs and a conservative coalescence around a non-McCain alternative to Giuliani.

Finally, Giuliani is a loser unless he forms and delivers a clearer, more reassuring message to conservatives on social issues, abortion and others. The Paul Coverdell solution is a viable one, but Giuliani just isn't convincing on it yet. He's well-known and admired outside the Northeast corridor as a NYC mayor, thus explaining his 25-30 percent in the national polls, but that's about it. There's no silent majority for a tough-talking social liberal among GOP primary voters. That's a fantasy. He leads because there is a large field. It will shrink.

Hood's "half-baked" line reminded me of a thought I had a couple of days as I watched the The Return of the King for the first time in while, spurred on by Rico's previous comment about trilogies. The thought was: how has the drug culture affected the film versions of The Lord of the Rings?

Gollum, or should I say Smeagol, is played as a mostly-sympathetic junkie. Even Gollum's gollums (ha ha!) are more pitiful coughs than the original self-pitiable (and thus non-pitiable) gurglings. Tolkien never uses the word addiction, at least not to my knowledge, so I can't imagine him having Gandalf talk of Gollum's need for it with quite the inflection Ian McKellan uses. I would also add the movies are very clearly riffing on marijuana with the pipeweed. "Finest weed in the Southfarthing . . ." and all that. I'm too lazy to check, but I can't remember Tolkien's leaf ever being used as a shortening of pipeweed. My next thought was whether the cast and crew thought that these references were necessary, in that either there was no other conceivable way of portraying Gollum or there wasn't any possibility of them passing up the opportunity for the jokes. Sad.

Finally, we've finally got a Tolkien label now. Seriously, I'm surprised it's taken this long.

Friday, May 11, 2007


Still not a man. Maybe someday.

Ummmmm, no comment?

Hasselhoff claims he had hand in Berlin Wall falling

David Hasselhoff has complained to museum curators after finding his photo absent in a collection of memorabilia about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The actor and producer, who says he is working on a film version of TV series Knight Rider, claims he is partly responsible for the fall of the concrete divide.

Speaking to German magazine TV Spielfilm, Hasselhoff said in 1989, the year the wall fell, he had helped reunite the country by singing his song 'Looking for Freedom' among millions of German fans at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

He said he felt he had moved people on both sides of the wall, although he admitted hardly any of the East Germans could speak English. He said: "I find it a bit sad that there is no photo of me hanging on the walls in the Berlin Museum at Check-Point Charlie.

"After my appearance I hacked away at pieces of the wall that had the black, red and yellow colours of the German flag on it. I kept the big piece for myself and gave the smaller pieces to colleagues at Baywatch."

Hasselhoff said he doesn't mind that Americans make fun of his popularity in Germany and says he feels it is his second homeland.

He said: "Many Americans joke about my popularity in Germany. But they have no idea how beautiful Europe is and how rich it is in culture and fun and warmth and children. In Germany children have brought me thousands of flowers."

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Mark Steyn is smarter than you.

One of Mark Steyn's favorite lines centers around the fact that wherever there is some sort of terrorist attack, someone named Mohammed is close by. For example, 9/11? Mohammed Atta. The Washington sniper? John Allen Muhammed. The guy who killed Theo Van Gogh? Mohammed Bouyeri.

Well, lo and behold, look at the names of the terrorists arrested today who were plotting to ambush Fort Dix. See anything familiar?
Officials identified the men as Dritan Duka, Eljvir Duka, Shain Duka, Serdar Tatar and Mohamad Shnewer and Agron Abdullahu.

Monday, May 7, 2007


I would argue that Jackson's Lord of the Rings didn't decline in the third installment only because it had already hit rock bottom in the second . . .

My cash grab sense is tingling!

Ultimately, that's what Spiderman 3 felt like: a flashy, larger-than-life, Summer-sequelly money grab. 148 million reasons later, it's safe to say it was successful.

Given how good the first two movies were, it was a little sad to watch the third. Generally, I ignore critics' reviews because I disagree with them, but this time, I think they got it right. The movie just tried to do too much. Too many villains, too many plot points, too much contrived drama.

The other thing that bothered me about the movie is that there were so many unforced errors: simple mistakes and plot holes that could have been easily avoided. I won't go into too much detail since some people haven't seen it yet, but for one example, what the hell happened to Peter Parker's Spider-Sense? He gets jumped unexpectedly at least three times in the movie. Ridiculous.

Having said all that, it was still an enjoyable summer action movie. The special effects were phenomenal; given that the movie cost $250+ million, I would hope they are good. The action scenes were fun as well. Still, my hopes were high that this would be the conclusion of a rare trilogy whose quality didn't decline in the third installment. For now, such a list would include Lord of the Rings and, uh, hmm... that's about it.

Next up on the 2007 Summer Cash Grab tour: Shrek the Third, which I will be avoiding if at all possible.

Friday, May 4, 2007


According to the CIA World Factbook, there are 26,790,222 women aged 15-64 in Germany.

According to The Economist, there are 400,000 registered prostitutes in Germany. Now I suppose some of these could be men and others could be senior citizens, but I would guess the cast majority are women aged 15-64.

So even if just 300,000 fit into this category (and I imagine it's higher), it means that 1.1% of all 15-64 German women are prostitutes.

I'm not sure whether that's proof of a culture and society in irreversible decline or proof of the coolest country ever. But I'm pretty confident it's one or the other.

(I decided to create a "random facts" label to go along with this post. I was going to create a "prostitution" label, but that would just encourage Big Jim to tell his story of a young boy coming of age on the merciless streets of Cleveland.)

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Progressive Prisons

High-larious stuff from a local think tank:
Wisconsin actually has a history of making concessions to prisoners. We were the first state to abolish the death penalty, and to give prisoners time off for good behavior. In 1868, Wisconsin was even the first state to eliminate black and white striped prisoner uniforms. As a thank you for this kindness, criminals vowed to be more polite when they raped and murdered people for the next 140 years.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Quick hits

This is my first post in almost three weeks, so I figured I should at least explain why. The short answer is that I'm working like crazy. In addition to my regular job, I've started working nights, teaching and tutoring students in preparation for the LSAT. Consequently, both my free time and my desire to blog have dropped.

My LSAT class run until June 9th, and Lauren's due date is June 17th. It seems weird that my baby's birth may actually lead to my schedule slowing down.

In other news, poor Brady Quinn. Not only did the guy drop to #22, he fell to the Browns! I think it might just be best if he hang up his cleats now. Sisyphus never had it so bad.

I've been doing some thinking about abortion, and the more I think about it, the harder I find it to justify. Unless one is a devoted atheist, doesn't it stand to reason that there is at least a chance that some form of humanity - defined as a soul, or human rights, or whatever - begins upon conception? If one believes in God, how can one rule out this possibility? And if this possibility can't be dismissed, how can one support abortion? I agree that individual rights generally shouldn't be abridged without a compelling reason, but it seems to me that even the slightest possibility of ending a human life is as compelling as it gets. (I'm aware this is a staple of intro to philosophy classes, including my own. But is there a coherent argument against this reasoning?)