Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Posted without comment

From the Washington Post yesterday:

When the University of Missouri at Kansas City was looking for a celebrity speaker to headline its gala luncheon marking the opening of a women’s hall of fame, one of the names that came to mind was Hillary Rodham Clinton.
But when the former secretary of state’s representatives quoted a fee of $275,000, officials at the public university balked. “Yikes!” one e-mailed another.
So the school booked the next best option: her daughter, Chelsea.
The university paid $65,000 for Chelsea Clinton’s brief appearance Feb. 24, 2014.

Political correctness comes to Taiwan

There's a rather comical story in the Taipei newspaper to the effect that the hinomaru (known to American pilots as the "red meatball") has been removed from a pair of ROC jets. What they were doing there in the first place is something of a mystery, given that the hinomaru is a relict of the Second World War, while both the American F-16 and the locally built F-CK-1 are products of the 1980s. (Taiwan set out to build its own jet fighter when the US, after its rapprochement with mainland China, temporarily stopped supplying Taiwan with F-16s.)

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- R.O.C. Air Force jets painted with Japanese flags to denote the number of victories over Japanese fighters during World War II have been removed, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said yesterday. 
MND spokesman Luo Shao-ho yesterday said the decision to remove the Japanese flags previously painted on an Indigenous Defense Fighter (IDF) jet and a F-16 A/B jet was made by the Air Force Command after "the public has expressed different opinions and mixed views over the paint."
Why they were removed is less of a mystery. Japan must have objected, out of national pride or (as I would like to think) a concern for historical accuracy.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Waiting for the chime

It's been 33 years since I used a manual typewriter, with its elegantly curved return lever and the chime that signaled when I was within five characters of the right-hand margin. I loved that chime, which seemed to congratulate me on having written yet another line, and even more I loved the hefty swing that brought the carriage back to the left-hand margin. Today, I simply rattle off words until it seems I have enough for a paragraph.

Then I touch a key oddly named "Enter." (Why not "Return"?) In almost every software, a word that doesn't fit on the present line is automagically moved to the next. With one exception! I compose mostly on WordStar, a 1990s program that presents me with gray letters on a blue background, very restful to the eye, that is far quicker than any Windows or Mac word processor, and that allows me to compose in "document" or "non-document" mode. The latter is ideal for writing web pages or e-books, but if I don't use the carriage return (sorry: Enter key) most paragraphs will run off the end of the screen. So whenever I get close to the right-hand side--that's after about 75 letters or numbers or spaces--I start a new line.

This was brought home to me this morning when I decided to add a chapter to a manuscript (sorry: document) already prepared for the web, and it seemed easier just to go to the end and start writing. So I am using the electronic equivalent of the carriage return--but I do not hear the warning chime, and I miss it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Bye, bye, Alex! Pity about the ten-dollar bill ...

 Alexander Hamilton was the man who established our financial system, and a Founding Father to boot, but never mind that old stuff! He will soon be replaced on the $10 bill by an image of (but you already guessed this) a woman, and of course the woman will be Of Color, else the cashier will have to give a trigger warning every time they (sic) give out a tenner in change.

No problem! The obvious choice is Rachel Dolezal. What better avatar for the United States of America in the second decade of the 21st Century? We no longer know who we are or where we are going, or whether we have any right to go there at all. We might as well emulate Ms Dolezal, and adopt her identity confusion as our own. Indeed, why not go all the way and replace the dollar with the franc, and "In God We Trust" with "We Identify As Switzerland"?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The new Cold War

You have to hand it to the Russians: they're awfully good at destabilizing continents. Thanks to Vladimir Putin's seizure of Crimea and eastern Ukraine, America's most isolationist president since Herbert Hoover and Europe's most pacifist leaders ever are finally making a show of force at the fault line between Moscow and the Western world.

15,000 troops from 22 nations are taking part in war games this month, in the Baltic Sea and in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Romania, countries ruled for 45 years from Moscow but freed with the collapse of the Soviet Union. During that long occupation, the three Baltic countries were seeded with large populations of Russians, who still speak the language and whose sympathies of course lie with Moscow. It is just such a Fifth Column that makes Putin's occupation of eastern Ukraine possible.

Of course 15,000 is a pathetic number; NATO is merely sending a message to the Poles, the "Balts," and the Romanians that it has their back. Putin can and probably will double down, just as Stalin doubled down when the US resisted his attempt to take over West Berlin in 1948. That's how cold wars begin, and if the last one -- 1948-1990 -- taught us anything, it's that cold wars occasionally turn hot.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Lost Boundaries

As a teenager, Rachel Dolezal was a person of pallor. Between then and now, however, she has acquired an Afro and a rich tan that clearly did not come from the sun of Seattle, where she is president of the NAACP, a professor of "Africana Education" at Eastern Washington University,  a police commissioner whose role is "to oversee fairness and equity in law enforcement," and a whole lot of other interesting and no doubt remunerative things, mostly concerned with her new ethnicity.

In 1949, the independent filmmaker Louis de Rochemont made a movie called Lost Boundaries, about a light-skinned African-American doctor who settled in New Hampshire and "passed" as white. In those days it was a good career move to change one's complexion, or anyhow the public's perception of it, from beige to white; now, it seems, it's quite the other way around.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

He (gasp!) took out a student loan and then (horror!) REPAID it!

The New York Times has clearly marked Marco Rubio as the Republican who must be tarred and feathered before the primaries even begin. The onetime "newspaper of record," now a mouthpiece for the left-progressive wing of American politics, revealed today that Mr Rubio only managed to repay his student loans when he got an $800,000 advance against a book about his rise from the son of Cuban immigrants to a contender for the presidency. $800,000 -- imagine that! For writing a whole book, when Hillary Clinton could raise twice that amount with a couple of speeches (paid tax-free into the family "foundation")! How dare this man run for the presidency? He may even believe that students ought to repay the money they borrow, rather than default on the loan, a strategy for which the NYT recently published a useful guide.