Friday, August 26, 2016

Taildragger Tales

I am always surprised at the perennial popularity of Taildragger Tales, a collection of essays I wrote about learning to fly a 1940s Piper Cub just as I was turning seventy. Now it's available as a one-hour Audible book as well as in e-book format. Amazon has links to both

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The problem of Islam, in one photo


For me, this is the iconic photograph of the Rio Olympics. The Jew extends his hand in friendship, or at least in comity, and the Muslim turns away. Mr El Shahaby was booed for his snub, which shows that some in the audience know anti-semitism when they see it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The protected and the unprotected

Peggy Noonan is the wisest opinionator we have. In Saturday's Wall Street Journal she ponders the disaster of Angela Merkel's decision to invite 800,000 immigrants to find new lives in Germany. (Of course twice that number came, and the vast majority have no intention of finding new lives. They simply brought their old lives with them.) Ms Noonan sees this as just another example of how our elites live in a world of their own, wholly insulated from those at the bottom who must live shoulder to shoulder with the newcomers:

Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.
Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street—that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending—because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.
For "Merkel" we can substitute Obama or Jeb or Hillary or Romney. They don't get it, and they presume to lecture the masses on right behavior. (The one image I will take away from the Obama presidency is that wagging forefinger.) Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders live magical lives as well, but something in each of them has turned the wagging finger into a shaken fist, directed at the powers that be. Thus the turmoil of our endless 2015-2016 presidential campaign. 

Monday, August 08, 2016

Not your father's James Bond

It's very bad of me, I know, but I am bingeing on Lee Child's Jack Reacher books. They are the guy version of chick lit, perfect reading for August. Quite apart from the mayhem that Mr Reacher (or Major Reacher, as he sometimes is) inflicts on the bad guys, the writing is wonderfully sly. A British Special Ops agent tells Reacher that it just won't do for the heads of the G-8 to be assassinated in London: "An attack of this nature on British soil would be worse than catastrophic. It would be embarrassing." Ian Fleming would never have come up with that line.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The joys of Bolivarian socialism


Nearly 100,000 Venezuelans surged across the Simon Bolivar Bridge to buy such exotic goods as toilet paper, cooking oil, and flour, when the socialist police state briefly opened the border crossing. The men in orange are some sort of Colombian security personnel, and at left you can see how they are funneling the Venezuelans through a corral like those at ski resorts and airports.

I wonder how long it would have taken Bernie Sanders to reduce the United States to this pathetic state?

Friday, July 15, 2016

The past as prologue

No country can escape its past. (Certainly the United States hasn't, as we discovered most recently in Dallas.) France's past is Algeria. In the 1950s I was stationed for a year and a half in Orleans, a hundred kilometers south of Paris, and I rode the train a couple of times a month to escape the boredom of caserne life. The highway bridges were black steel, and every one had a cry of the heart painted across it in white. They appeared in alteration:

Algérie française 

FLN 

Ami Go Home!

The last was directed at me, of course. The first two staked out the alternative and incompatible positions on whether France would remain in Algeria. The  Front de libération nationale won the war, as guerrilla movements usually do, but millions of Algerians remained in France, to pack the slums around Paris and other cities, and to provide a home for the terrorists who now torment that wonderful country.


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Foreign Secretary Boris

Okay, before she ever put her head on the pillow at Downing Street, Prime Minister May has appointed the Brexit champion Boris Johnson as her foreign secretary. That's a great start, it seems to me. He's an able man, whatever the job, and she has at one stroke defused the issue that she was against Brexit but now must lead the charge, or retreat, or whatever it is.