Monday, January 26, 2015

"1 in 4 Americans Believe God Will Decide Who Wins The Super Bowl."-Huffington Post.


"Scientists find Belichick’s explanation plausible."-Boston Globe.


The highest compliment one can pay a New York Times writer is to say he or she is "subtle" or "nuanced." There are fifty shades of grey to the grey lady. Ross Douthat, compliment.
They're having a food fight over at the adults' table.

One of the New York Times columnists wrote a post-Charlie thing; other pencils, Salon, Glenn Greenwald wrote their own, and a polite, finger-food, brain-food fight broke out. Ross Douthat was impressed enough by some of the other arguments that he changed his mind. This is what Douthat originally wrote:

"...the kind of blasphemy that Charlie Hebdo engaged in had deadly consequences, as everyone knew it could … and that kind of blasphemy is precisely the kind that needs to be defended, because it’s the kind that clearly serves a free society’s greater good. If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more.

...But when offenses are policed by murder, that’s when we need more of them, not less, because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed."


Now, The Restatement of Douthat:

"I think my original language might reasonably be amended to something like this: “When offenses are policed with murder, we need more speech that challenges/offends the murderers,” leaving more room for prudential and moral judgment about exactly what form the new challenge/offense should take."

I, Benjamin Harris, do solemnly swear that I read those two sections an exasperating number of times before I saw any difference whatsoever and when I did the first change I noticed was that Douthat had changed "by murder" to "with murder" which if there is a distinction with a difference there I don't know what it is. And I got so exasperated I didn't want to know! Then I noticed "speech." Douthat had changed "we need more of them" to "we need more speech."  That is a difference! But not in context. Grrrr. Dearie me, this whole food fight and both Douthat posts were on blasphemous speech, on Charlie Hebdo speech, on whether other media should reprint the offensive cartoons. If Douthat intended to draw a distinction between speech and act with his "amendment" neither he nor any of the other adults ever discussed blowing up mosques or other acts. 

So, I don't know what The Restatement of Douthat is about and it exasperates me. 

The northeastern U.S. is in for a blizzard manana. Like in that 1956 Eisenstaedt photo. It is already snowing in Northern Cambr-eye-ay, Pennsylvan-eye-ay Oblast. The high Monday is going to be 27 and the low 21 which presents the advantage of not having to take clothes off, put them on again, take them off. So annoying. In Yurino, Tver Oblast, Rooski there is only a 20% chance of snowski with an expected high of 12 and an expected low of 10...which is hard to believe but that's what it says.

Hey! If you ever think, "I wonder if Ben knows---," like I wonder if Ben knows who Klayton*What the fuck was that...--Thompson is or who Hasan** Hassan Whiteside is OR if you ever think "I wonder if Ben knows that Game of Thrones is an HBO television series with tons of nudidity on it and not a video game"--assume I don't. And tell me. Thanks. Good night.

*UPDATE, 3:21 am, Jan. 26.
**UPDATED UPDATE, 3:26 am. Swine memory.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Star Stuff.*

I did not know that Klay Thompson was a sibling.

As I did not know there was a Klay Thompson.

"Hassan" "Whitehead." "Whiteside."
Hassan Whitehead Whiteside. Sibling of the universe.

Our brothers' names may not be familiar but oh my oh my.

On Friday night young Klay Thompson, a professional basketball player, scored 37 points. Tremendous game. That would have been a tremendous game for young Klay Thompson or anyone but young Klay Thompson did it in one quarter of one game. I had never heard of such a thing on accounta it had never been done before. Thirty-seven points in one quarter is a National Basketball Association (NBA) record.

Hassan, who looks so young he looks like our baby brother, just finished playing a game with the Miami "Heat" against the Chicago "Bulls." As I pen this it is not clear exactly how tremendous Hassan was today. The first headline I saw, on ESPN, was "Hassan Whitehead Whiteside Blocks 14 Shots," and I went "what?" right after I went "who?" I have since read that Hassan blocked 10, 11, or 12 shots. CBS says Hassan blocked 5 shots in 7 minutes. And they have video. Which I have seen. Ten or even 14 blocked shots is not a record (17 is) but 5 blocks in 7 minutes may be if they keep those records which I don't think they do. Whatever! If young Hassan blocked even a measly 10 shots today he would be only the 43rd player to do it. Which isn't a lot since there have been billyuns and billyuns of players in the NBA.

Klay Thompson was averaging 22 points/game before Friday night. That's very good, Klay Thompson is a very good player but 37 in a quarter...well, when a player gets on a streak like that other players say he is just "unconscious." Klay Thompson was unconscious in the third quarter Friday night.

Hassan Whitehead Whiteside...I have never heard a player being described as "unconscious" in blocked shots...and Hassan was not considered a very good player before today. He played one year of college basketball. In his NBA "career" he was averaging 1.3 blocks per-game. Which isn't a lot. Whether "unconscious" or not, Hassan Whitehead Whiteside was something today.

*UPDATE, 9:53 pm UTC. Oh hell, it's Whiteside not Whitehead, I sincerely apologize to Brother Hassan, and ESPN now has it as 12 blocks.



The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica is 2,500 feet thick. Under all of that ice, in preternatural darkness, is ocean water. We have found life on Earth in the hottest geothermal springs, in the coldest depths, in complete darkness, wherever there is water we have found life for water is the great solvent of life. As if in proof of that maxim scientists have now found life, translucent fish, beneath the Ross Ice Shelf. They are children of the universe.

We are not alone. There was once water on Mars. Where there was water there was life and we will find the fossilized remains some day. There is water elsewhere in our solar system. We will find life on Europa and the other places. They will be our siblings in the universe.


Heavens made more* comprehensible.

UPDATE, 10:02 pm UTC: "more" added.

The heavens oughtn't be so large as to be incomprehensible, they should be...comprehensible. On a normal earthly computer screen. 
Sunday morning is not alright for fighting. Nor for dancing. Not any of them things.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Yes, they are!

About 1,000 rallied in Australian. They're not Australian! They're not French! See?



Snipers and Courage, Cowards and Heroes.

"military" "education" ".org." Okay, militaryeducation.org, what say ye about snipers? Militaryeducation.org has a list of the Top Ten Deadliest Snipers. Numero Uno is Simo Häyhä who I have always thought was particularly hot:

"Nicknamed “White Death” by the troops of the Red Army — whom he tormented, dressed in his snow camouflage...he preferred to use iron rather than telescopic sights, which ensured he presented less of a target to enemy gunmen."
                                                          It didn't work one time.

I don't know what Michael Moore had in mind when he said snipers were cowards but there is that "hiding" aspect, "dressed in snow camouflage...iron rather than telescopic sights...presented less of a target to enemy..." Don't all soldiers dress in camouflage? Yes, they do. Isn't, like, the point to present less of a target? Yes, it is. I am not articulating well. I use analogy.

If Osama bin Laden had been killed as he was walking on a dusty road from Afghanistan to Pakistan by Bryan Sikes, Sniper, would there have been a movie or documentary or book, would it have resonated the same way with the public? I don't think so. The raid that killed bin Laden was a made-for-retelling drama. Not much drama in "I saw this tall gray-bearded guy walking along the road and shot him in the head."

The sniper is not exposed to the same danger as the raider. That's a big part of the drama of course but a bigger part of courage. That was a dangerous mission the Navy SEALS were on, good God. Helicoptering in to Pakistan, to a military area, under radar, without Pakistan knowing--that's dangerous. If OBL had been killed by a sniper the sniper could have been posting on Facebook the moment before he saw the tall gray-bearded figure walking on the road.

Lee Harvey Oswald was a sniper. He was not a hero to anyone, not courageous, but not a coward either.


The Confederate sniper who drilled General Reynolds, the best U.S. general, on the first day of Gettysburg--anonymous. Nobody knows who the sniper was.


Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain epitomized Hemingway's definition of courage, "grace under pressure." The Confederate sniper, not so much.



In any other area of life a sniper is called a murderer.
                                                           Charles Whitman, sniper.

Before coming across Selma Hayak on "militaryeducation.org" I had read of the most decorated Soviet sniper during World War II. I felt only revulsion toward that guy. The Soviets were the only army that specifically trained snipers. The other nine guys on militaryeducation.org's list are Soviets.

On the other hand, I've seen Captain Phillips, that movie portrayed the Navy SEAL snipers as heroes! I felt they were heroes! That was dramatic! Then there was just silence. The crisis had reached its apex, the pirates were panicking, everybody was yelling and screaming and then "three green lights!" the shots, and then silence. There is a strange anti-climax to a sniper operation.

Snipers have all the advantages. Their targets have none.


I have hunted. That is not a hero, that is not courage. Nor cowardice. That's a sniper. A hunter of men and beasts.

What is Bryan Sikes going to do when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq end? What is he going to do when he has to return to the U.S., when he doesn't have live targets to kill? The advantages he had as a sniper he will not have in a civilian job. What skills does he have that will translate? The job he would be suited for best would be a cop.
Enough was enough. Why was "Gays in the Military," June 1, 2014, the most read post in the last 30 days, the last 7 days, and today. So finally today I googled "Bryan Sikes Green Beret," the subject of that put-down.

Ah. He's at it again. Wrote an open letter to Michael Moore, called him a "turd." Moore made some movie and said he thought snipers were "cowards." Snipers are cowards...Snipers are cowards? Really? I can see why Moore would think something about that. Snipers are sort of sneaky, right? Like they hide, out of the most dangerous danger and take shots at an unsuspecting enemy. They don't, like, "Forward, March!" into enemy lines. So, I see how you could get within a country mile of calling snipers cowards but no closer, snipers are not cowards.

Sikes is a sniper. Sniper does not equate with coward so I can understand Sikes being offended and insulted at Moore calling snipers cowards and going off on Moore. Sikes was a sniper who was a coward when he shot at Gwyneth Paltrow for her offense of equating the pain she felt at twitter hate directed at her as "war." This-is-war, that-is-war, everything is war, the war trope is so common, Paltrow did not personalize it toward Sikes or his class of snipers as Moore did, nor toward soldiers. Sikes personalized it, he directed his hate toward Gwyneth Paltrow personally--and then didn't when David Ortiz used the war metaphor just a few weeks later! That's a sniper who is a coward. Sikes was a sniper who was a coward toward Paltrow. 

The Israel Lobby.


U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, an opponent of President Obama's on almost everything, including sanctions against Iran, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also an opponent of Obama's on Iran sanctions, to address a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu accepted without coordinating with the White House. Netanyahu is going over the head of the President of the United States to speak to the people of the United States. This is a stark example of the arrogance of the Israel Lobby in the United States. And a stark example that Benjamin Netanyahu is an ass.

Israel has got its own nuclear weapons. It conducts its own foreign policy. It spies on the United States, and vice versa. If it disagrees with the American policy toward Iran it should take the action it thinks in its national interest. Israel should not be lobbying the United States to act for it. It has been 65 years? Far past the time for Israel to be a grown up, to cease being a dependent, to fight its own battles. 

Friday, January 23, 2015


It becomes our disagreeable duty to report that the ubiquitous in-flight magazine SkyMall, purveyor of objects d'art like that, is no more, a victim of printing expenses and online shopping.

There are those who loved her.

It is Friday. 10:30 am in the Far East, the middle of the night in Britain and just an hour and one-half away on the Least Coast in 'Murika. Let us dance with the devil while inhaling nitrous oxide on this Friday.

Oooh-eee. Thank you.
Not natural gas, laughing boy-LAUGHING GAS 

We need laughing gas ASAP!!!!!

Boy. That is the prettiest, best made-up woman in labor this boy's ever seen. That is a total B.S. photo. She could be having an O, she T'AIN'T havin' a child! Where'd I get that photo?...Oh, lovely, "whattoexpect.com." First time moms, listen to Uncle Ben, do not listen to "whattoexpect.com": YOU ARE NOT GOING TO LOOK LIKE THAT! You're going to look like you were in a serious automobile accident! And if you ever want to have sex with your husband again (and maybe you don't) DO NOT LET HIM SEE YOU GIVING BIRTH! It will make his pee-pee shrivel up and recede back into his body and it will never return except for the au pair.

Laughing Gas News.

And now for the laughing gas news:

Laughing Gas Becoming Popular for Women Giving Birth
-ABC News.


Oil.

"King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s new ruler, probably will stick to the oil policy of his predecessor, the late King Abdullah, maintaining production levels to preserve market share even at the cost of depressing prices.
...
The kingdom’s refusal to surrender market share to rising U.S. output has contributed to the worst slump in prices since the global credit crisis of 2008."
-Bloomberg (emphasis added).

I see. That is at least part of the reason why prices have fallen 50%. And since American "output" of oil is up (fracking, "the natural gas revolution") and American demand is not increasing as much due to "the green revolution" a glut exists, the oil just sits there, and prices fall. 

The Saudi strategy here is to make further fracking too expensive. At the current oil price it doesn't pay frackers or whatever they're called (they who frack), they're already stopping. So the Saudis are going to let this glut soak its way through 'cause their conventional drilling still pays at these prices, they'll maintain their market share and they'll delay the frackers.

Sounds like a plan. Good plan for the Saudis; good plan for American consumers  in the near term, bad plan for others, the frackers in the Pennsylvania Oblast and the drillers in Russia. Bad plan for Rooski.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More of Laughing Boy.


Look at his face. That is the face of brutality. And he's the band director!

He looks like he's directing the torture of puppies--and enjoying it!

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Hitler mustache, is that?









That is the face of a man, and of a people, who would shoot down passenger planes. As the Russians did with KAL 007 and MH 17. Brutal, absolutely brutal.

Back in the USSR.

These are stills from my favorite YouTube video of the old Soviet national anthem. The lyrics (with the exception of one noteworthy and funny inadvertent omission) are the official 1977 version as sung by the Red Army choir, the video images of course are not official, they are those of the YouTuber.

As I have written previously, this is a beautiful and heroic piece of music. Though heroic the lyrics are not any more martial than those of the "Star Spangled Banner" but the YouTuber's images superimposed on the lyrics and music glorify nothing but the military might of the USSR, which was the only thing there was to glorify!

What struck me about this video immediately and made it my favorite YouTube version is the guy in still five. I will post more on him and explain in a separate post.











"freedom" omitted after "the sunrays of."