Chance favors the prepared mind - Louis Pasteur
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Line dancing has gained official notice in France.
The French administration has moved to create an official country dancing diploma as part of a drive to regulate the fad. Authorised instructors who have been on publicly funded training courses will be put in charge of line dancing lessons and balls.
The rules, which come into force next year, come after the rapid spread of country and western in France, where an estimated 100,000 people line dance several times a week. Jean Chauveau, the chairman of the country section of the French Dance Federation, said: “It’s growing at a crazy rate. There are thousands of clubs and more are springing up all the time.”
In a peculiarly Gallic approach to the phenomenon, French civil servants say line dancing should be submitted to the same rules as sports such as football and rugby. This means imposing training courses for line dancing teachers and a state-approved diploma for anyone who wants to give lessons or run clubs.
Amateur instructors will have to take 200 hours of training under the new rules. Professionals will get 600 hours, including such subjects as line dancing techniques, “the mechanics of the human body” and the English (or at least Texan) language. They will also learn how to teach line dancing to the elderly.
So will there now be line-dancing teams? Will it get recognized as a “Sport” at the Olympics? How far does this go?
I hope you guys are keeping up with the RBC meetings today. Ambinder’s coverage has been very, um, thorough. The Democrats are in chaos. They’re taking an entire day to make the same decision that was obvious to the GOP a year ago and their various factions still aren’t happy. Quote from Sullivan:
We’re discovering for the umpteenth time that the Democrats obviously can’t govern themselves. This absurd circus in DC today really does remind me of their inability to understand rules, and congenital refusal to apply them.
We’re also discovering that Barack Obama would be a much better President than Hillary Clinton. He played by the rules, he managed his campaign effectively, he’s managed to pivot off a sociopathic opponent, he hasn’t played the race card. No rational person would support Clinton after this.
One of the great things about the primary is that it has woken up many people to just how vile the Clintons are. In the past week alone, several people have said to me, “You know all that stuff you said about the Clintons in the 90’s? Man, you were right.”
Vindication is sweet.
Update: Despite the Florida/Michigan Calvinball issue being “decided”, the Clintons are refusing to accept it:
We strongly object to the Committee’s decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan’s delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan.
The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.
We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan’s delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast.
In other words, because the delegates were not awarded 55-0 in favor of Clinton, they will make a floor fight of it. I take back what I said a few weeks ago. This is a murder-suicide. The Clintons are determined that if they can’t win the White House, no Democrat will.
Posted by Hal_10000
on 05/31/08 at 04:36 PM in Election 2008
Loyalty Is As Loyalty Does
I think this might help explain where Scott McClellan came from:
George W. Bush brought most of his White House team with him from Texas. Except for Karl Rove, these Texans were a strikingly inadequate bunch. Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzalez, Karen Hughes, Al Hawkins, Andy Card (the last not a Texan, but a lifelong Bush family retainer) — they were more like characters from The Office than the sort of people one would expect to find at the supreme height of government in the world’s most powerful nation. McClellan, too, started in Bush’s governor’s office, and if he never belonged to the innermost circle of power, he nonetheless gained closer proximity than would be available to almost anyone who did not first serve in Texas.
That early team was recruited with one paramount consideration in mind: loyalty. Theoretically, it should be possible to combine loyalty with talent. But that did not happen often with the Bush team.
As press secretary, McClellan’s job was to put out the Administration’s POV-which didn’t necessarily had to be the truth. He was just as loyal to a fault as the rest of them, but it appears eventually his journalistic ethics (such as they were) won out over blind obedience to Bush. Bush got what he deserved when he added this guy to his team.
What the fuck is wrong with these people?
It was an elaborate hoax, but 36 students at El Camino High pulled it off with potentially life-saving consequences.
The result was a soberingly realistic dramatization about the dangers of drinking and driving, delivered with surprising professionalism.
Many juniors and seniors were driven to tears – a few to near hysterics – May 26 when a uniformed police officer arrived in several classrooms to notify them that a fellow student had been killed in a drunken-driving accident.
The officer read a brief eulogy, placed a rose on the deceased student’s seat, then left the class members to process their thoughts and emotions for the next hour.
The program, titled “Every 15 Minutes,” was designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving [Hal - surprise!]. Its title refers to the frequency in which a person somewhere in the country dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident.
About 10 a.m., students were called to the athletic stadium, where they learned that their classmates had not died. There, a group of seniors, police officers and firefighters staged a startlingly realistic alcohol-induced fatal car crash. The students who had purportedly died portrayed ghostly apparitions encircling the scene.
Though the deception left some teens temporarily confused and angry, if it makes even one student think twice before getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, it is worth the price, said California Highway Patrol Officer Eric Newbury, who orchestrates the program at local high schools.
First of all, anyone who says “if it save evens one life” or “if it makes one person think twice” or “if just one person is changed” or whatever has immediately lost the debate and shown themselves to be a raging fool. If this makes only one student think twice, it was a colossal waste of time and effort.
Second, I can’t believe that the newspaper is actually praising this. Professionalism? There’s nothing professional about unnecessarily traumatizing people. Who wrote this story? The VP of MADD?
I’m reminded of this “scared straight” bullshit where cops will go to a high school, have the kids get on the floor and pretend to be conducting a drug raid. They’ll go the whole nine yards—weapons out, body searches, screaming at them. Penn and Teller did a great piece on this for their “War on Drugs” episode where they point out that the officers were clearly pointing their guns at the kids.
I hate these kind of “lessons” that are “for the kids own good”. They do not teach kids not to drink and drive or to avoid drugs. What they create is resentment and bitterness. What they create is suspicion of law enforcement and do-gooder organizations. Hell, just reading this story made me want to run out, get blasted and drive on the wrong side of the road.
Even worse is when they create acceptance of government interference in people’s lives. Or inculcate the idea of perpetual immaturity—the idea that we are a nation of infants who need to be looked after and fooled into good behavior.
One final thing from the article:
The 36 students who participated later attended a retreat at the Carlsbad Inn, where they tried on “beer goggles” that mimicked the sensation of having a .25-blood alcohol level.
I’m sure that wasn’t supposed to be as fun as it sounds.
Posted by Hal_10000
on 05/31/08 at 08:54 AM in Politics
Friday, May 30, 2008
It appears the world doesn’t end when it’s legal, after all.
The number of sex workers in New Zealand does not appear to have increased since legislation decriminalising prostitution became law, according to a new report.
The Prostitution Law Review Committee was set up to report on the Prostitution Reform Act 2003 three to five years after the act came into force.
Its report, just published, was based on work carried out by the Christchurch School of Medicine and Victoria University’s Crime and Justice Research Centre.
The committee, chaired by former Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Fitzharris, said an accurate count of the number of sex workers was difficult.
However, a comparison between the number of sex workers in Christchurch in 1999, before decriminalisation, and 2006 - after the act was passed - showed the total had stayed about the same.
A 2007 estimate in five centres - Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hawkes Bay and Nelson - found a total of 2332 sex workers, the committee said.
Numbers of sex workers should continue to be monitored, it said.
But decriminalizing something only makes it more available and increases crime. At least that’s the rationale our government uses.
Posted by West Virginia Rebel
on 05/30/08 at 11:59 PM in Down Under
Al Gore, the opera?
For a man sometimes described as the world’s most famous loser, Al Gore is quite a winner. Since the start of last year alone, he has picked up an honorary fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, prizes in Spain and Sweden, several honorary doctorates, the Sir David Attenborough Award for Excellence in Nature Film-making and an Emmy - not to mention the Nobel peace prize.
But even Gore may feel humbled by the latest distinction to come his way. The legendary La Scala opera house in Milan has commissioned a full-length work to be based on his book, An Inconvenient Truth, and the Oscar-winning documentary of the same title.
La Scala’s artistic director, Stephane Lissner, told a press conference the new opera had been commissioned from an Italian composer, Giorgio Battistelli. He said it would be staged in 2011.
“Lissner has had this idea in mind for some time,” said a spokesman for the theatre. “Since before the award of Al Gore’s Nobel, I believe.”
I can’t tell whether this is supposed to be a comedy or a tragedy.
It just keeps getting worse.
A new poll of California voters appears to undercut Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s argument that she is the stronger presidential candidate in big states, showing that her long-standing support in the nation’s most populous state has eroded among Democrats - and even women.
The latest Field Poll shows that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama - who lost the Feb. 5 California primary to Clinton by nine points - is now preferred as the party nominee by a landslide 51 to 38 percent among the state’s Democrats, according to a poll of 914 likely party voters taken May 16-27.
And in a head-to-head contest with presumed GOP nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Obama does as well as Clinton, both of them beating the Republican by 17 points among a cross section of voters likely to cast ballots in November. Obama also leads McCain 59 to 24 percent among critical decline-to-state or independent voters, who make up 20 percent of the California electorate, the poll showed.
It’s become like The Amityville Horror, except that we’re the haunted house hissing “Get out! Get ooooout!”
Guilty White Liberals Unanimous
There are a lot of things I love about Portland but one of them is not the sickening display of guilt displayed by white liberals here. I hate to throw out the “white liberals” moniker but there’s no other way to describe them.
Racial Shift in a Progressive City Spurs Talks
PORTLAND, Ore. — Not every neighborhood in this city is one of those Northwest destinations where passion for espresso, the environment and plenty of exercise define the cultural common ground. A few places are still described as frontiers, where pioneers move because prices are relatively reasonable, the location is convenient and, they say, they “want the diversity.”
As new development drives up the price of real estate in northeast Portland, Ore., many longtime residents of the Alberta Street area have sold property and moved away. More Photos >
Yet one person’s frontier, it turns out, is often another’s front porch. It has been true across the country: gentrification, which increases housing prices and tension, sometimes has racial overtones and can seem like a dirty word. Now Portland is encouraging black and white residents to talk about it, but even here in Sincere City, the conversation has been difficult.
If people were so concerned with maintaining the racial profile of the neighborhood, then why did they sell? Did they not profit from living in their homes long enough for the neighborhood to become trendy?
Today, Oregon is just 2 percent black, and Portland is about 7 percent black. On May 18, an estimated 75,000 people turned out to hear Senator Barack Obama at a rally, and most were white. For some, that was evidence that Portland’s liberal mind-set transcends race. For others, it just meant Portland prefers its diversity in fresh packaging.
But he’s also half white. Which half are people supposed to identify with? Why do we need to identify with any? Damn good question.*Someone will surely harass me with this.*
It is a white world now, Ms. Solomon said: “They’re sitting around with their bikes and out on the sidewalks and all that. It’s rough to imagine.”
Yes. For an 84-year old woman who has seen the neighborhood change from what it was 40 or 50 years ago, I’m sure it is a shock. It was a shock for my grandmother, a German immigrant, to watch San Francisco’s Sunset district go from Irish, Italian and German to nearly 100% Chinese in the span of a few decades. But shit changes. Instead of eating Italian, you start eating Dim Sum. When I discovered how awesome it was to shop for dinner in a real Asian market, I embraced it.
Though the black population has declined in some black areas, including Northeast, it has increased somewhat in the city as a whole. Some blacks have left Northeast by choice, moving to other neighborhoods or the suburbs, and some bought and sold property in the area to their advantage. Neighborhoods change for many reasons, and Northeast was white before the Vanport flood. Still, many black residents said they felt they were not the preferred demographic.
I imagine there are still some lingering race issues that still weigh on the local black population. Clearly we have a history of fucking over blacks and other minorities. I’m really not trying to question how they feel. I’m just pointing out neighborhoods don’t stay the same and no one should feel guilty about buying a house and fixing it up. And, why they hell are people so bent on maintaining the racial profile of a neighborhood? Isn’t that a form of racism?
This really says it all though:
Restorative Listening Project
That name has Portland written all over it. It’s all about the “feelings”. Ack!
Posted by on 05/30/08 at 03:55 PM in Left Wing Idiocy
Via the Best Magazine In The World, P.J. O’Rourke explains the attitude of everyday Chinese:
It took me almost two years to realize that what I have is a survey of “the tacit consent of the governed.” Not that the Chinese I talked to were taciturn. They were forthcoming enough about their government, but they didn’t care much about the political theory of it. Tom said, “Their attitude is, ‘Shhh, politics is sleeping, don’t wake it up.’”
They don’t bother their government, it doesn’t bother them. As Lee has pointed out, it’s all oddly libertarian.
Posted by West Virginia Rebel
on 05/30/08 at 03:54 PM in Lee in China
Apparently, while I was away, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the returning of the FLDS kids to their parents:
In a crushing blow to the state’s massive seizure of children from a polygamist sect’s ranch, the Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that child welfare officials overstepped their authority and the children should go back to their parents.
The high court affirmed a decision by an appellate court last week, saying Child Protective Services failed to show an immediate danger to the more than 400 children swept up from the Yearning For Zion Ranch nearly two months ago.
“On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted,” the justices said in their ruling issued in Austin.
The high court let stand the appellate court’s order that Texas District Judge Barbara Walther return the children from foster care to their parents. It’s not clear how soon that may happen, but the appellate court ordered her to do it within a reasonable time period.
The ruling shatters one of the largest child-custody cases in U.S. history. State officials said the removals were necessary to end a cycle of sexual abuse at the ranch in which teenage girls were forced to marry and have sex with older men, but parents denied any abuse and said they were being persecuted for their religious beliefs.
Every child at the ranch in the west Texas town of Eldorado was removed; half were 5 or younger.
Look, I’m no friend of religious kooks. And these guys were about as kooky as you can get this side of poison applesauce and sneakers. But CPS clearly overstepped their bounds here. They ripped these kids out of their mothers’ arms based on rumor, innuendo and religious nutbaggery.
Maybe now, they’ll actually, you know, investigate and build a case.
Posted by Hal_10000
on 05/30/08 at 03:42 PM in Politics
That sound you hear is of creationist heads exploding.
The Vatican is planning a special conference in 2009 to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin’s groundbreaking theory of evolution.
First printed in November 1859, Darwin’s evolutionary theories rocked the faith of Victorian Christians and are stoutly contested today by Creationists. The Vatican has traditionally backed a more nuanced approach. Three years ago, Cardinal Paul Poupard, the then president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said Darwin’s theory of Evolution and the Old Testament book of Genesis were “perfectly compatible” if the Bible were correctly read, saying: “The fundamentalists want to give a scientific meaning to words that had no scientific aim,” explaining that the real message in Genesis was that “the universe didn’t make itself and had a creator.”
Next year’s conference will be held in Rome and organised by Poupard’s former office, the Pontifical Council for Culture as well as by the University of Notre Dame and six pontifical universities. The event, claim its organisers, is a milestone in the rapprochement between science and the Church. They say it is time for the Church to look at Evolution again, “from a broader perspective”, explaining “appropriate consideration is needed more than ever before.”
I take it this means they won’t be giving any donations to Creationist museums.
We Want That Internet Money
$198,425. According to DNScoop, that’s how much this website is worth.
I love this place but frankly, I think this estimate is preposterous. No matter how good their theoretical model might be, something is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. If you had $200 grand, what would buy with it? A house or this site? That’s what I thought.
A few other sites I check at random:
Moorewatch - $118,792
Sullivan - $2.8 mil
My website - $4,130 (It’s worth that much?)
Daily Kos - $21 million (!!!)
The Corner - $23 million
Right Wing News - $5.3 million
Drumwaster - $96,800
And for some perspective:
ESPN - $660 million
Google - $1.7 billion
CNN - $684 million
That’s certainly enough theoretical money to end the strike in Canada.
Posted by Hal_10000
on 05/30/08 at 02:15 PM in Fun and Humor
In case you were ever wondering why a country sitting on a lake of oil is still dirt poor, here you go. Apparently $35 billion is soon to be claiming 2.5 trillion virgin dollars.
In what appears to be the biggest case of corruption in Iran, and perhaps in the Middle East, the Tehran-based Shahab News reported that the chief auditing office of the Iranian parliament (Majlis) has revealed that close to $35 billion of oil income from the financial year 2006-07 is missing.
According to Iranian law, this money should have been paid by the government of President Ahmadinejad into Iran’s central bank. Once there, the government can request the withdrawal of funds for projects, depending upon the approval of the Majlis. However, the new investigation shows that the government never paid the money into the central bank, and no one knows what has happened to it. Although it has not yet been proven, many suspect that the money has been used to finance corrupt activities of politicians surrounding the president, or the president himself. After all, it is very unlikely that this could have happened without his knowledge.
This is a serious allegation, as this amount constitutes almost half of Iran’s total oil income for that year.
A common theory is that this money went for terrorism or nukes. I have my doubts on that point. I suspect this is good old fashioned corruption. If thats the case, it would almost be heartening, in a weird way.
Sometimes a Scarf is Just a Keffiyeh
Lord, do I love being right. On the heels of WVR’s post about Rachael Ray’s little summer scarf action, here’s an interesting addition to the “just a scarf” debate. That’s not fashion, that’s Jihad!
The “keffiyeh kerfuffle” - which forced Dunkin’ Donuts to dump an ad featuring a celebrity chef wearing a scarf similar to a traditional Arab head-dress - has hit a Bondi bottleshop, one of its staff claims.
Sandra Tieger, 20, alleged to smh.com.au she began to feel like a terrorism supporter following the reaction to her wearing a black and white scarf to work at Kemeny’s.
Ms Tieger’s claims - which the store rejects - follow attacks on an ad for the US Dunkin’ Donuts chain, in which celebrity chef Rachael Ray wore a scarf. Critics have said the scarf has “violent symbolism and anti-Israel overtones”.
But Ms Tieger said she had “no idea about the politics” when she bought the scarf at the Tree Of Life store.
What do we have here? We should also take note of how she is wearing her keffiyeh, because a part of the “scarf” defense is that is it is not appropriately worn around the head it is not a symbol of the jihad. Let’s assume that she did not have this scarf around her face and hair while working in a casual retail environment. So, who exactly took offense to this little harmless scarf? Surely it was some over reacting right wing asshole:
“I thought it was a nice scarf, a cowboy scarf. I thought: ‘It’s black and white, no-one will say anything to me because that’s all we can wear [with our work uniform]’.
“A Palestinian customer came up and asked me if I’m wearing this scarf as a fashion statement or for political reasons.
“I had no idea what he was talking about because I don’t follow politics at all. I just laughed it off.
“Two days later he called and complained about it.”
Shevonne Hunt, a freelance journalist who has reported on the keffiyeh’s popularity in Australia, said many Palestinians were annoyed the widespread use of the keffiyeh for fashion had watered down its meaning.
Ms Tieger continued: “A few days after that, I wore the scarf again. A few customers started to complain who were Jewish; there’s a lot of Jewish people in the area.
Wow, I mean WOW! so, in this instance it is some Palestinians themselves upset that the symbol of Israeli jihad has been politicized by some left wing koooks, and college hipsters. Not exactly a stretch of the imagination if you ask me. In the previous thread it was stated numerous times that a.) my position is you should wear/sell/do whatever the fuck you want with the knowledge that you need be prepared to own up to it (she was asked to clarify her use of the garb) b.) who takes offense to what is not up to you or I to decide, but rather the parties effected by the event and c.) a keffiyeh is a keffiyeh whether worn around the neck or around the head.
I can’t have a more brillilant case to display why I am completely right on the matter. this woman wore a seemingly harmless scarf to her work. As it would turn out, much like wearing an Iron cross/Klan hat (in Burberry plaid)/etc. someone took affense to it, and this time it was actually the people who it represents in addition to the people it intends to offend. so now this young woman has a parallel to Rachael Ray in this regard, she has allowed her political leanings (stated or ignorant to the facts) to conflict with doing business. Please be reminded people that Rachael Ray and this woman haven’t suffered anything more than a Disney worker asked to conform to a dress code. This is the price of doing business.
In addition, she herself says that she feels that the “scarf” is heavily politicized, and so much so she no longer feels comfortable wearing the “scarf” in public. This should also disspell the “thought crime” accustations, as no one has prohibited her personal expression, she has merely been asked to refrain from asshattery that scares away potential customers and stirs controversy.
Damn, it feels good. It feels really, really good.
Posted by Manwhore
on 05/30/08 at 11:05 AM in Left Wing Idiocy
A nice little story from the source of Laetitia Casta’s breasts:
Eight years ago, a French couple founded an organization that adopts graves of American servicemen who died during the Normandy invasion of World War II. The volunteer group encourages French families to lay flowers on the graves when the Americans’ own families can’t do it.
High on a bluff above Omaha Beach, the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer is a place of stunning beauty and tranquillity. Rising from thick, manicured grass, rows of white crosses and Stars of David face westward, toward America.
It’s hard to imagine that 64 years ago, war raged here. But there are the 10,000 graves to prove it.
A reporter once told me this story. He happened to be in a bar in Normandy on June 6. At precisely midnight, the Frenchmen in the bar raised their glasses, said “to the Americans” and waited until the Americans—my acquaintance and his wife—had acknowledged them before drinking.
Sometimes, people do remember. Sometimes, in my more optimistic moments, I hope that somewhere in Baghdad in 2063, some Iraqis will raise their glasses of um, water I guess, and say “to the Americans”. I’m not holding my breath, mind you. But it’s a silly fantasy I like to think about sometimes when things are going particularly well in Mesopotamia.
Posted by Hal_10000
on 05/30/08 at 02:18 AM in Politics