Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Here's a piece from today's La Vanguardia by Eusebio Val on the Amurrican Peepul in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Active resignation 'made in USA'

Seasoned by furious nature, Americans are less prone to call for help from the State

The Americans are not a people prone to complain or to wait for the State to solve their problems. The heirs of pioneers who suffered many setbacks, of millions of immigrants who arrived with the clothes on their backs, seasoned by furious nature, they normally accept with active resignation situations like those created by Hurricane Katrina and the frequent disasters caused by floods, extreme cold, tornadoes, droughts, and forest fires. The American character is pragmatic and solidarious, in addition to carrying optimism in its genes. It demands that the authorities contribute to alleviating misfortune, but it knows well that in the long run it is one's own efforts and those of the community one lives in which make the difference. This is why volunteerism at all levels is a national institution, as is taking up collections. A foreign observer is surprised at the speed and effectiveness with which they get to work.

In American culture the idea of starting over from zero, of reinventing oneself, of moving thousands of kilometers to get a new job and overcome a crisis, does not frighten as much as in Europe. With this disposition, with the persistent idea that "we'll get out of this," it is easier to face the always painful loss of a home or destruction of a business.

Active resignation is expressed in several ways when faced with adversity or simple unexpected discomforts. In the sometimes chaotic American airports, passengers accept delays and cancellations with stoicism and patience. They are aware that dense air traffic and the weather cause things to go wrong. Instead of throwing useless tantrums, they prefer to find some other alternative in order to get home as soon as possible.

After the devastating hurricane Isabel, which leveled North Carolina in September 2003 and caused serious damage in the Washington area, the residents of the suburbs came out onto the streets as soon as the storm was over in order to assess the damage and begin clearing up themselves. Improvised brigades of residents with chainsaws cut up the fallen trees in the streets in order to reopen the way through. Hundreds of thousands of customers, including La Vanguardia's office, were without electricity for days or weeks.

Despite the discomfort of living without electricity in such a technical society, citizen reaction was very moderate. Everyone did whatever he could to make the best of the problem. Gasoline generators were sold out, as were batteries and butane stoves. Bars in areas with electricity were filled with people with portable computers. As occurred after other hurricanes, some people organized collective barbecues with the food they had stored in their freezers.

Mr. Val, that's more than fair enough. Iberian Notes pardons your past sins. Note that in order for the Americans to get any praise from the Europeans we have to suffer a disaster. Also note what Mr. Val stresses as American characteristics, because if he's pointing them out to Spanish readers, then they're much rarer over here.

Monday, August 29, 2005

This emergency blog is covering Hurricane Katrina. WWOZ in New Orleans is off the air. KBON.com in Eunice, LA, is alternating music and news.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

They just ran a bit on Catalunya TV on about 50 renegade Americans who held a demonstration in Madrid against Bush and his evil war for oil, holding up signs with all the standard slogans. Most of them were your typical granolas. The camera focused on this effeminate fratboy leading chants of "One, two, three, four, we don't want your fucking war." Wrong decade, guys. And, whatever your thoughts about the Iraq war, it's disgraceful to demonstrate against your own nation while in a foreign country. I forgot who said "Never praise your own country while at home and never criticize it while abroad," and I know that's a paraphrase, but I concur. And I seriously question the demonstrators' patriotism.

By the way, you all know what They in the media and Hollywood are trying to do. They're trying to tell us again how much fun being against the Vietnam war was back in the sixties and show us how much fun it can be again to resist American warmongering tyranny (at no cost to your own self in the short term). I would worry, because They are going to puff up media stunts like the Cindy Crawford brouhaha as much as they can, and They are going to portray the military and the government as negatively as possible in mainstream entertainment.

I think We need to pull a preemptive strike. Our side of the media needs to emphasize 9-11, how it provoked America's attempt to destroy international terror, and how it led to our overthrowing Saddam Hussein. People have forgotten all about 9-11. Eighteen-year-old kids now were 14 when it happened. I think it's time to remember why America is in Iraq in the first place and why we can't leave until Islamist/Arab nationalist terrorism is dead, and I mean literally dead, as in turning the bodies of those who participate into small pieces.

And I think the upcoming fourth anniversary of 9-11 would be an excellent excuse for an all-out media blitz, using athletes, college coaches, country musicians, and local TV personalities. We're not fighting for the hearts and minds of the Upper West Side and the Castro, we're fighting for the hearts and minds of those who watch the mainstream media in Columbus and Des Moines.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The Brits have had a few pints too many this week, methinks. From the Guardian:

Here, in the heart of London Zoo, there has been another sighting of a species not native but increasingly common to Britain, Homo exhibitionist.

It is not a native species, but its origins are shrouded in mystery. Some believe it was accidentally imported from the US while others insist it could only have arisen from genetic mutation. Whatever the explanation, the sudden appearance of three males and five females on the zoo's Bear Mountain is thrilling.

We may be watching evolution in action. Or, we may be watching eight intrepid volunteers shivering their way through an inclement August Bank Holiday as part of the world's first "human zoo". They will live in an open enclosure for three days (though in a nod to the insulatory inadequacies of fig leaves, they will be allowed home each night) as part of a project designed to demonstrate man's impact on the environment and reveal his fundamentally atavistic nature.

Whether three days will be long enough to secure some real Lord of the Flies moments is a matter of debate, but let's hope someone is keeping an eye on the fat guy.

Thirty people applied to take part. Those who made the cut included veterinary student Simon Spiro, "zoo-obsessed" Anna Westbury, Thomas Mahoney who wanted to get back to nature, and actor, model, musician and martial arts expert Brendan Carr. He secured his place by writing a poem. "I got a laugh like a hyena but get the hump like a camel, so cover me in fig leaves as I'm the ultimate mammal," went one persuasive, if sub-Popish couplet.

The volunteers will be treated like animals but kept amused with games, music and art. And if that isn't enough to incite them to violence, what is? Expect pigheads on sticks by Monday.

It would be so cool if this actually does get ugly and Brendan freaks out and blood is spilled. I imagine the zookeepers would break it up before he actually chewed through Anna's throat wolverine-style.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

First things first. As far as I know, squatters as they exist now got started in the late '60s in hippie liberated places like Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London, and West Berlin. What they did was move into unoccupied houses and apartments and live there for free. After the hippie thing died out a few squatters hung on, and they showed up in Barcelona in the early '90s. That is, long after Franco was dead.

Those who hung on were not the flower-power types, who were all nice and middle-class and by about '71 were social workers or teaching el-ed. They were street people, and they still are. They may claim to know something about politics, and a few of them actually may, but basically they're nihilists and extreme hedonists. Dionysians, if you will. They proclaim they are anarchists and certainly act like they have the right to destroy whatever they want.

There are something like 20-35 squats in and around Barcelona, each one with 5-10 people living in it and a larger group of hangers-on. The real squatters are hardcore leftist radicals, dedicated to the overthrow of everything by every means possible. They look and act like your standard punks. They are generally streetwise and individually out for their own interest--they live off the hangers-on and their contributions, and are very careful about not sharing any of their own stuff.

The hangers-on are middle-class college kids who will mostly get slightly smarter in a couple of years and get nice middle-class jobs at La Caixa but pretend they're still radical and do dumbass things like vote for Esquerra or Iniciativa. They generally don't know they're being used by these hardcore squatters, and they actually think they believe the nihilist anarchist rhetoric. If a middle-class college kid spends more than about three years with these guys he's likely to join up with them and not get out for years.

Here in Barcelona the squatters are loosely organized. There are a couple of what they call collectives that claim to have representation from the various squats and to be in a position to negotiate with city authorities and the like. They do have access to lawyers, we know that, and are more than happy to use the loopholes in the law to save themselves punishment. A strategy they use is--since they can't be kicked out without a judicial order, and the owner of the property has to file a brief with the court to get said order--is for the lawyers to look through the property register for places that have a lien on them so that there's no legal owner who can go to court. Catch-22.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

La Vanguardia is reporting that a good deal of the conflicts we've been having between civilized people and the local squatters are the fault of a bunch of Italian anarchists who have moved in here because Spanish law is weak and not enforced anyway. I buy that up to a point. The main thing the local squatters are pissed off about is that a handful of them are going on trial in Madrid for some rioting they did here back in around 2002, and I don't see the Italian connection there. As for the rioting here in Gracia at the recent fiesta mayor, they arrested a couple of Italians, but they also arrested some locals, one of whom is from the posh suburb of Sant Cugat.

La Vangua's campaign is in favor of more "civic behavior," but I've got news for them: Very few of their readers are out on the streets setting up barricades and throwing shit at the cops. The only thing that's going to stop uncivic behavior is arresting the people who behave uncivically, and that is something they do not do around here. Too much of Catalan society is still anti-law and order and looks benignly on dumb kids raising hell for no good reason because they're answering the contradictions of modern postindustrial dehumanizing society with humanistic self-expression.

This goes back to pre-Franco days: Much of middle-class society here was mixed up with very unpleasant elements (Esquerra Republicana and Estat Català, just for starters) during the twenty years before the Civil War. Then the Franco regime was obviously unpopular among these same people. Now that there's nothing whatsover to be angry about and we live in a prosperous democracy, this bunch is still not happy because, like, they didn't get everything they wanted from the Constitution so they constantly whine about it. This lot still doesn't deal very well with the concept that everybody has to obey the law, even their own kids.

They're also denouncing Lance Armstrong, two pages at the beginning of today's sports section, on no evidence whatsover for allegedly having taken EPO in 1999. Damn, the Europeans hate to lose. What crybabies. Of course, this comes from the French press. In addition, Andy Robinson claims that Google's plan to provide direct access to over 60 million books is somehow satanic. And, of course, France is afraid that somehow the Americans are going to take over world literary heritage, so they're trying to get the EU to spend more than a hundred million euros on its own program. Seems thay're worried that--guess what--people will read books on European history by American authors. Says the head of the French national library, "It's normal that there is an 'Anglo-Saxon' perspective on cultural heritage, but there should also be a European viewpoint. It is politically essential." And, of course, Portugal is on fire and everyone's unscientifically blaming it on global warming.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

I want to know something. Who the hell is the government to tell me what I can put in my body? If I want to drink alcohol, that's my business. I should be able to drink as much alcohol as I want to without anyone telling me the bars close at 3 AM and the liquor stores close on Sunday or whatever. And who are we people over 21 years old to be telling those under 21 the same thing? There should be no minimum drinking age at all. If a six-year-old can get enough money, he ought to be able to buy a shot of Jack instead of a Hershey bar if he wants.

And by the way, who is the government telling that kid he can't go out and get a job to earn money for all the Jack or Hershey's he wants? And as for this taxes to discourage drinking shit, like they have in those tight-ass Scandinavian socialist states, that's a bunch of crap. Who is the state to tell me that they want to discourage my vice, but they don't want to discourage all those fucking people who eat meat, thereby murdering literally billions of animals every year, making Americans and Europeans into a bunch of fat slobs, and seriously offending the Hindu religion, to whom cows are sacred. Yeah, you. Every time you eat a burger you're eating a murdered cow and violating one of the most basic tenets of Hinduism, which I might point out has a hell of a lot more adherents than the goddamn Shiites and commits a lot less terrorism.

And as for this government controlling what other drugs I can take, that's bullshit too. I should be able to put anything I want into my body. That includes Laetrile and heroin. Why can't I just take all the antibiotics I want? That's my business. Same for getting vaccinations. Why should the government make me literally risk my life by putting a substance known to be poison into my body by force? And what's the deal with the American Medical Association, a fascist-style corporate guild, allowing only the self-selected few holders of the holy M.D. to tell the rest of us what we can take? Again, I'm manic-depressive. Why does that guy have the right to tell me I can't take whatever pills I want in order to treat my officially-diagnosed illness? I'd like to have what Elvis had, thank you, and plenty of it, please.

Now this gets me into that other thing which pisses me off, and that's the government telling me I can't drive as fast as I want while I'm on Quaaludes. What is the state doing telling me I can't drive eighty miles an hour wherever I want? I'm an independent actor, and one would think I would always have my own self-interest in mind. I'm smart enough to make my own decisions, even after a couple of Percodans. I can be trusted to make the correct decision about whether driving that fast is safe or not, and I will only do it where it's perfectly safe. I'm a really good driver, so I drive eighty a lot of places where most people would only drive, say, thirty-five, and I don't need to wear a seatbelt, either, and it's bullshit for anyone to tell me I have to do that, or follow any other so-called safety rules, either. Look at the Nascar circuit. A Nascar racetrack is the absolutely safest place to be in the world because all the drivers are highly professional and handle their cars perfectly. What would be, say, "cutting off another driver" (a bullshit anti-independenceist term for "exercising your freedom to travel?" They've got no right to tell me where I can't drive, and if somebody else wants to drive there too, well, hell, may the fastest driver win. The other guy needs to accept he's lost, get over it, and move on. If he chooses to object by, say, honking his horn and making obscene gestures at me, well, that's his business, and no one has any right to stop him from expressing himself.

And don't even let me get started on airplanes. Or guns.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Here's an entertaining little puff piece from Sports Illustrated about going mountain biking with President Bush.
There have been three consecutive nights of rioting here in the Gracia district of Barcelona with the excuse of the neighborhood Fiesta Mayor, which kicked off Sunday night and runs for a week. The Fiesta Mayor is a century-old tradition in which the residents of different streets compete to see who can decorate theirs most attractively. The themes and their realization are typical high-school dance stuff most of the time, though real money goes into putting the Fiesta together; the budget is several hundred thousand euros, much of which comes from taxes. Traditionally, the various streets hire dance bands, hold public dinners, and have puppet shows and the like. Oh, by the way, they sell beer. Lots of beer. On the streets, with the money going to each street's decorating committee. The local bars also make plenty of money.

What's happened over the last few years is that crowds of locals from all over the metropolitan area show up and get completely blitzkreiged, and the crowds get bigger and more violent every year. Our friends the squatters have taken over and run wild every night. Here are some quotes from La Vanguardia:

Some 300 youths faced off with the police early Wednesday morning...garbage skips were burned, motorcycles and urban furniture destroyed, several people were injured, including two regional and one local police officers, and two minors were arrested.

At around three in the morning the squatters and their friends got together in Plaza Rius and Taulet, about 1000 of them, and started bongoing and raising hell. At four the cops told them to go home, since the residents were furious and they had to clean the streets and pìck up the garbage anyway. The squatters started throwing bottles and other crap at the cops, and they set up two barricades on the Travesera de Gracia. The firemen showed up to put out the fires and were attacked as well.

Then, early Thursday morning, there was more squatter violence. Between three and six AM

the confrontations of the previous morning were repeated, with greater virulence, between youths and police officers. Garbage skips were burned and wastebaskets, portable toilets, phone booths, and other street furniture was destroyed. Some street decorations were destroyed, such as the giant sardine on Calle Tordera. Eight members of the riot squad and eight more youths were injured. Damage was estimated at €25,000. There were no arrests.

The police did identify thirteen leaders, who will be charged. Interestingly, Tordera is the only one of the 22 decorated streets that does not sell alcohol.

Now here's the really fun part. Guess who La Vanguardia's reporter focused on?

"This is the most exciting moment of my vacation," said Paul, an English tourist, while he ran through the streets of Gracia during the conflicts between the police and youths..."My night as an urban guerrilla" is the title of a page of the diary that Alessandro, an Italian tourist, is keeping during his stay here...In Calle Progrés, a group of tourists swam naked in the swimming pool that formed part of the decoration.

That's right, blame the tourists instead of the local scumballs and urban trash!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Check out this comparison between each of the 30 major league baseball teams and its most similar character on the Simpsons.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Here's a fun story about Kinky Friedman, who is supposedly running for governor of Texas. He couldn't be any worse than some of the other characters who have been governor in that state, like Pa Ferguson and Pappy O'Daniel. The serious question I'd ask him is whether he'd be willing to sign a death sentence.

My favorite Kinky song is "Asshole from El Paso."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Update on the helicopter crash: It happened near Herat, where some 850 Spanish troops are based as part of the peacekeeping force preparing for the September elections. NATO says the crash was an accident, but so far the Spanish administration is not ruling out the possibility that the chopper was shot down.
A Spanish helicopter crashed in Afghanistan killing 17 troops. Fox News has the story; nothing more than this in the Spanish media. Our sympathy and condolences to the families and the Spanish military.
People like me who are country-folk-Americana music fans and Cold Warriors will want to read this City Journal piece on Pete Seeger, "America's most successful Communist." Here's Kurt Andersen explaining why profiling not only makes sense but is absolutely necessary via Slate. As a fairly young-looking male with an earring and a beard I get checked on all the time, and I'm glad they do it. I have received some serious going-overs in San Antonio, Kennedy Airport, London, Brussels, the Franco-Spanish border, and innumerable times in Spain. Thank you, security officers. I appreciate people who keep me safe. Here's Niall Ferguson on Iran. I vote we bomb their reactors now, not tomorrow, and definitely before some peacenik gets elected in 2008. And if that makes them mad, tough shit. We've got the men, we've got the planes, we've got the money too. Here's a thoughtful piece by Ramesh Ponnuru in National Review with a somewhat different take on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; I don't agree, but you ought to read it. Finally, James Taranto's dismemberment of radical anti-American Cindy Sheehan, who is receiving amazing amounts of coverage from the usual suspects over here in Pinkoland, is a must-read.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Remember the famous New Yorker magazine cover showing America from a New Yorker's point of view? Turns out the gag wasn't exactly original. Check out this illustration from a rather unfunny Irvin S. Cobb book dated 1924. You'll need to go to page 39.

I've been watching the world track and field championships on TV; one good thing about Spanish TV is they give us all the races and just the races, none of those dumb features about so-and-so overcoming her personal demons in order to triumph like those they always run during the Olympics in the States. Of course the commentators are biased in favor of the Spanish competitors, which is perfectly understandable and happens in every country.

So they ran the men's 1500 finals yesterday. It was a slow race, with the winner, Rashid Ramzi, crossing the line more than ten seconds short of the world record. I saw no fouls and no one was disqualified. The greatest 1500 runner ever, world-record holder, four-time world champion, and 2004 Olympic champion El Guerrouj or however you spell his name, wasn't there. Without him, it wasn't a bad race or anything, I'm not complaining, and these guys are a hell of a lot faster than I was in high school; my best time for the mile in a real race was 4:52, and I barely broke sixty seconds in the quarter, which is why I never got to run it in real races.

Here's the AP's story.

HELSINKI, Finland (AP) -- Morocco played a major role in the men's 1,500-meter final at the world athletics championships Wednesday, although the greatest Moroccan wasn't even there.

With four-time defending champion Hicham El Guerrouj missing the championships because of illness, Moroccan-born Rashid Ramzi gave his adopted nation of Bahrain the gold medal with a time of 3 minutes, 37.88 seconds.

Adil Kaouch of Morocco was second in 3:38.00, barely holding off Rui Silva of Portugal, who settled for bronze in 3:38.02.

Ramzi became a citizen of Bahrain after moving to the Gulf nation to take up a job in that country's armed forces. But he retains a Moroccan passport and trains with old coach Khalid Boulami.

"This medal is very important for me and my country," Ramzi said. "I am very proud to have been able to deliver this gold medal."

Ramzi stayed near the front and stepped up the pace coming out of the final bend and safely cruised home on a wet, windy and cool night.

"There were no tactics in the race," he said. "The weather was a big problem, we just couldn't get the right rhythm.

"I was hoping we would spread it out a little so I would have more space to run my own race, but I had to wait until the last lap to beat them with my speed," Ramzi said.

Kaouch once ran as El Guerrouj's pacemaker and returned to competition in 2004 after two knee operations.

"I am not even tired at all," he said. "I focused on the 1,500 this year, prepared well for Helsinki and it paid off. ... We are all very happy and very proud of this result today."

So guess what La Vanguardia's take was? It's natural that they would focus on the Spanish competitors, and I wouldn't expect anything else, but this is a bit excessive. They gave two whole pages in the sports section to this one particular competition, in which there were three not-particularly-good Spanish runners. Their best, Reyes Estevez, won bronzes at the world championships in 1997 and 1999, and is now way over the hill. The three came in fifth, sixth, and eleventh (Estevez), and none was ever a factor in the race. Here we go with La Vanguardia's conspiracy theory, however, and you'll never guess the nationality of the bad guy. Also check out the warlike imagery.

Casado, Higuera, Estevez fail in dirty 1500 meter final

American Alan Webb committed suicide...a dirty and mysterious race...no one expected the American's attack to be so savage, so desperate, so cruel...Webb's attack was very violent, absolutely disproportionate..."Webb committed suicide. His attack made no sense," said Reyes Estevez.

It seems that Mr. Webb committed the awful sin of trying to win the race by running fast.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Earth's most intellectual sports columnist, Gregg Easterbrook, is back with the first Tuesday Morning Quarterback of the season on NFL.com, of all places. It's pretty weak Easterbrook, but give the guy a break, they just had the first exhibition game and he doesn't have much to write about. The column itself is just one more example of why the NFL is the best-managed sports league in the world by far: the league hires a brain-truster from the New Republic and the Atlantic, two magazines .0001% of football fans have heard of much less read, to write an enormously long column making fun of it and its alternative reality on its own website. The NFL is so cool that it gets the joke.
Students of the Spanish Civil War might be interested in this Catholic website detailing the religious persecution carried on by the leftist revolutionaries. It includes detailed information and photographs.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I went downtown this afternoon. There was a guy wearing a T-shirt with the silhouette of a terrorist carrying an AK-47 and the slogan in English, "Kill Bush". Scum.
You've probably heard that the space shuttle landed safely. Good. Now can we close down the whole damn thing, get rid of this manned spaceflight crap, and sell off most of NASA? About the only useful things it does are long-range scientific probes.

As for Peter Jennings, I'm sorry he's dead, but I thought he was terrible and that he was one of the main reasons the network news lost so much influence. My guess is that within five years the three mainline networks will all close down their news divisions; at the very least they'll have closed down the national nightly news. They'll probably keep a morning show of some sort and a magazine show or two, but the content won't be hard news. Local news, of course, will keep going strong, as will Fox News and CNN.
Here's a very interesting piece on economic sociology by Virginia Postrel from the Boston Globe (via A&L Daily), and here's another one on "intelligent design" by Cathy Young. What's with the Globe? All the brain-dead editors must be away for August. Michael Barone slams multicultis, who seem to love only "each century but this and every country but their own" in Real Clear Politics. And here's another guy from the Guardian who's broken with the left over the excesses of the multi-culti, or as he calls them "the middle-class left." Welcome to the Club!

And as for all those dumb releases of "white doves of peace," check out this piece from Slate on what actually happens to the birds.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ten Things Iberian Notes Doesn't Care About At All:

10. Electronic gadgets
9. Movie stars and other alleged celebrities
8. Opera
7. Fashion
6. So-called popular music
5. Dieting
4. Motor vehicles
3. Hollywood product
2. Anything related to computers (except the Internet)
1. Wilson, Plame, Rove, Novak, etc.
I'm coming out of the closet.

I'm anti-gun-nut. I think the things are way too dangerous to be sold the way they are. I mean, the purpose of a gun is to kill living beings, and there's nothing innocuous about that. Everything else I can think of that's dangerous, like cars and medicines and chemicals and poisons and explosives and such, is strictly controlled.

Yeah, the Second Amendment says that we have the right to keep and bear arms, and that's a right that's guaranteed as much as any other in American society. But come on, rights are limited. We've got the right to freedom of speech unless it's libel or slander or perjury or false advertising or negotiating a contract you don't plan to fulfill or shouting "fire" in a crowded theater or using fighting words or making threats. Or advocating the armed overthrow of the government. Or high treason, which is merely using your "freedom of speech" to tell the enemy national secrets. That is, the right to freedom of speech is by no means absolute, and the freedom to keep and bear arms isn't absolute either. If you can think of one right in the Constitution that isn't somehow limited, let me know.

I can understand why some people would want a gun in order to protect themselves. And, though I strongly dislike hunting, it is unfortunately necessary since we've wiped out most predators. These are the only two legitimate reasons I can think of for owning a gun.

One reason I'm anti-gun is that I'm pro-cop, and the cops are unanimously in favor of strict gun control. I figure they know what they're talking about better than a bunch of gun hobbyists.

Gun nuts often claim that guns are necessary to defend the people against government encroachment of their rights. Come on. Not any more. If the army pulls a coup we're going to resist it with pistols and shotguns? Yeah, right. Or if we get invaded and taken over by some evil foreigners. If they can take on our military and win, there's no way a bunch of farmers with twenty-twos is going to defeat them.

I think the real motivation of gun nuts is that they like shooting guns as a hobby. It makes them feel powerful. This is obvious in posts by bloggers I otherwise mostly agree with, like Glenn Reynolds, James Lileks, and Samizdata. Check out some of the photos these guys put up showing themselves heavily armed and proud of it. Well, I'm sorry, just because you like something is no reason you should be allowed to do it if there are good reasons for not letting you. Me, I like drinking a lot and driving fast, but I can't do that because it's dangerous and other people will get hurt.

I don't know what I'd do about the United States's gun problem. There are something like 200 million guns out there, which is about 199 million too many. I'd really like to confiscate them all and then require people to prove they have a good reason for owning one before they get a license, but that would be impossible. I honestly don't know what could be done short of some drastic measure like that.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My sister, Shannon, and brother-in-law, Phil, have posted more baby pictures, and the whole family on both sides appears, except for me and Remei, of course. Just click here, and then click on the left where it says "John Wesley" for lots of cute photos from a nice middle-class Middle Western/Highland Southern family. This is the real America, families living their regular lives, not the crap you see on TV and read in the press, and it ain't those pretentious jerks on the Left Coast being cooler than thou, either.

Oh, by the way, Shannon and Phil have five college degrees between them--two B.A.s, two M.A.s, and a Ph.D. Among my parents and me, we've got five more. Six if you count my father's M.B.A. equivalent from General Electric's auditor-training program. So don't call us a bunch of gringo hicks until you can beat that, even though we do talk a little funny and my parents do horrible old-fashioned stuff like go to church. Hear that, Manuel Castells?

A little defensive? Hell, yeah. According to certain people who think they're sophisticated there's nothing of value between New York and L.A. They call it "the flyover." You won't believe how much wank I've heard from Californians about how cool they are in comparison with, say, me.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Here's today's page two signed article from La Vanguardia by Alberto Abian. The background is that a couple of days ago the Guardia Civil beat some poor bastard to death in the Roquetas de Mar police station.

From Los Angeles to Roquetas

Until now we thought that the California police forces were the only ones capable of being involuntarily videoed by amateurs while beating black citizens to death. Now, it turns out that some Civil Guards seem to have emulated their colleagues in Los Angeles, with the difference that the camera was in the police station itself and the victim was a white farm worker from Almeria.

WHAT? When was the last time the L.A. cops beat a black citizen to death? And why this comparison, when there are police forces around the world that really beat people to death, or worse, all the time? And there has been more than one police brutality scandal right here in Spain, like when the cops right here in Catalonia put a schizophrenic Danish kid in the hospital and got filmed doing it a couple of years ago. And if you thought the Rodney King beating was ugly, you haven't seen this one. So let's lay off the shocked innocence, Mr. Abian.

Here's Spain's dumbest intellectual, Manuel Castells, a couple of days ago in La Vanguardia.

We're at war, they say. And in war all measures are valid. It was with that argument that Iraq was invaded, razed, and destabilized in search for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist.

My ass. What a cheap straw man. No one argued that all measures are valid, because if we thought that way we wouldn't have lawyers attached to every unit telling them what they can do and can't, and there would be a whole lot more dead Baathists than there are now if we did everything we could to them. And as far as "destabilized," is Mr. Castells saying he prefers Saddam's allegedly stable sadistic tyranny?

Legal insecurity for everyone is growing, especially for those who look like Pakistanis or Somalis or Moroccans or Arabs or Afghans or any other imaginary face of the habitual suspects, including Brazilians and Ecuatorians (or dark Spaniards?)

Oh, what a crock of crap. Note that Mr. Castells wants to sign up the Spaniards to his list of victim groups that evil racist Western society is oppressing.

Indiscriminate restriction of civil liberties leads to Al Qaeda's first victory: they are changing our societies into something very far away from the democratic way of life.

What an old, tired argument. The British pacifists made that argument in World War II, saying that if we resist the Nazis we'll become just like them. And what indiscriminate restriction of civil liberties?

...Bush threatens the only thing he knows, bombing.

And they call the Americans simplistic.

...the Israelis have changed from an open and democratic society to a militarized and paranoid country with strong racist tendencies.

You heard it here first. Israel is racist, paranoid, militaristic, undemocratic, and closed, says Mr. Castells. I personally think Mr. Castells is bigoted, superficial, incompetent, and a worshiper of totalitarianism and violence, as he never criticizes any of the groups that are really militaristic and undemocratic, like the PLO, PFLP, Hezbollah, Hamas, and company.

There's a lot more but I've had enough.
New stuff of interest on international politics: Victor Davis Hanson, Anne Applebaum, John Leo, and Niall Ferguson.

Here's Charles Krauthammer agreeing with me on "intelligent design."

Thursday, August 04, 2005

This one is for my sister and brother-in-law, who are both anthropologists/archaeologists. It's from the Nation back in 2000, and it's about how almost all American arkies contributed to the World War II effort. Even Margaret Mead.


It's interesting how WWII is the only war ever that had virtually 100% support among the American people. Even university social scientists were in favor.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Spain Herald is on vacation for August, since we're more of a political news website than anything else, and both Madrid and Brussels close down for August so that everyone can pack the beaches and sweat like hell on the dirty sand while paying exorbitant prices.

Recommendation: Find a small town as far away from the Mediterranean as possible and go there. Try Galicia or Leon or Navarra or Huesca. Don't come to Barcelona. It's packed, and I mean packed. Downtown is so full of tourists you can barely move. There's no way you'll find anywhere to stay. Half the places of business are closed and the rest are tourist traps. Come to Barcelona in mid-October or so when things are much more relaxed.
Check out this story from Soccer Net. I think I'd have picked a different headline.

Young Boys Wankdorf erection relief

BERN, Switzerland, July 31 (Reuters) - The supporters of Young Boys Bern have not had too much to celebrate in the 19 years since their team last won the Swiss league title.

Long since eclipsed by the likes of FC Basel and Grasshoppers Zurich, the club from the Swiss capital has even got a reputation for enjoying its status as a perennial loser.

But this weekend Young Boys sought to shake off their old image by officially opening the 32,000 Stade de Suisse Wankdorf stadium -- which cost 350 million Swiss francs ($271.3 million) -- with an uncharacteristically flashy homecoming party.

'I'm extremely happy, because I'm convinced this is the stadium from which Young Boys can finally launch themselves back into sporting success,' Swiss president, and Bern native, Samuel Schmid told spectators just before Saturday's show got underway.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

This is from Chris Suellentrop in Slate. Note the line I boldfaced. And the one word I boldfaced in the second paragraph. Slate is a LIBERAL website.

During the buildup to the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, Carter unsuccessfully worked to undermine the foreign policy of America's democratically elected president, George Bush. Carter behaved as the Imperial Ex-President, conducting a guerrilla foreign policy operation that competed with the actual president's. What's disturbing about this behavior is not that Carter opposed war with Iraq. Many Democrats opposed going to war, and they worked within the American system to try to prevent a war that many predicted would be bloody (which it was, for Iraq). But Carter went further than merely lobbying Congress to oppose military action or speaking out in an effort to tilt popular opinion against the coming war. He used his status as a former president to engage in foreign policy, a deliberate effort to subvert the democratic process.

In November 1990, two months after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Carter wrote a letter to the heads of state of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. He urged the countries to drop their support for Bush's proposed military solution. Instead, as Douglas Brinkley outlines in The Unfinished Presidency, his glowing but not uncritical assessment of Carter's post-presidential years, Carter asked the countries to give "unequivocal support to an Arab League effort" for peace. (As Brinkley notes, Carter's anti-war position conflicted with the Carter Doctrine he had outlined as president: Any "attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such force will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.") Right up to Bush's Jan. 15 deadline for war, Carter continued his shadow foreign policy campaign. On Jan. 10, he wrote the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria and asked them to oppose the impending military action. "I am distressed by the inability of either the international community or the Arab world to find a diplomatic solution to the Gulf crisis," he wrote. "I urge you to call publicly for a delay in the use of force while Arab leaders seek a peaceful solution to the crisis. You may have to forego approval from the White House, but you will find the French, Soviets, and others fully supportive. Also, most Americans will welcome such a move." Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft later accused Carter of violating the Logan Act, the law that prohibits American citizens from conducting unofficial foreign policy.
Here are some excerpts from a piece by National Review's Jay Nordlinger. Among his sources are Time's Lance Morrow and the New Republic's Joshua Muravchik.

(Carter's) low moment, however, came during the run-up to the Gulf War, when he wrote members of the U.N. Security Council — including Mitterrand’s France and Communist China — urging them to thwart the Bush administration’s effort. Our government found out about it when the Canadian prime minister, Brian Mulroney, called the defense secretary, Dick Cheney, and said, “What the . . .?” Some people actually allowed themselves to utter the word “treason.”

Arabs are heavy-duty funders of the Carter Center, and they get a lot for their money.
No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. In the 1990s, Carter became quite close to Yasser Arafat. After the Gulf War, Saudi Arabia was mad at Arafat, because the PLO chief had sided with Saddam Hussein. So Arafat asked Carter to fly to Riyadh to smooth things over with the princes and restore Saudi funding to him — which Carter did.

While in office, Carter hailed Yugoslavia’s Tito as “a man who believes in human rights.” He said of Romania’s barbaric Ceausescu and himself, “Our goals are the same: to have a just system of economics and politics . . . We believe in enhancing human rights.” While out of office, Carter has praised Syria’s late Assad (killer of at least 20,000 in Hama) and the Ethiopian tyrant Mengistu (killer of many more than that). In Haiti, he told the dictator Cédras that he was “ashamed of what my country has done to your country.”

He did even better in North Korea, singing praises to Kim Il Sung, one of the most complete and destructive dictators in history. Said Carter of the “Great Leader,” “I find him to be vigorous, intelligent, surprisingly well informed about the technical issues, and in charge of the decisions about this country” (well, he was absolute ruler). He said, “I don’t see that they [the North Koreans] are an outlaw nation.” Pyongyang, he observed, was a “bustling city,” where shoppers “pack the department stores,” reminding him of the “Wal-Mart in Americus, Georgia.”

How did this man ever become president? What a piece of shit.
Mr. Bush, you missed an excellent opportunity to shut up.

From Fox News:

WASHINGTON — President Bush said Monday he believes schools should discuss "intelligent design" alongside evolution when teaching students about the creation of life.

During a round-table interview with reporters from five Texas newspapers, Bush declined to go into detail on his personal views of the origin of life. But he said students should learn about both ideas, Knight Ridder Newspapers reported.

"I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought," Bush said. "You're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, the answer is yes."

The theory of intelligent design says life on earth is too complex to have developed through evolution, implying that a higher power must have had a hand in creation.

Fortunately, Bush has no power to decide what is taught in the public schools; that's the job of local school boards. But, quite simply, "intelligent design" is not science, it's religion. And it's not a theory, it's an assertion. It's based on the logical fallacy of the "argument from ignorance"; that is, it says "Intelligent design must be true because there's no other way that life could have developed." That's deduction. Science is inductive. You start with the evidence and then develop your theory, rather than starting with your assertion and then looking for evidence to fit it.

And exposing public school students to different schools of thought is only a good idea when each of the different schools of thought has solid support among experts in the field. For example, there are about fourteen different theories on the causes of the First World War, all of which have some support from some historians.

But no legitimate scientist believes in "intelligent design."

I'm not an idealist about pre-university education. I believe its purpose is to prepare people to go to college or vocational school and get a job. Well, if you go to college and study biology, and you give the prof your "intelligent design" catechism on the final exam, you will receive a large F. If you try to get into med school with "intelligent design," they'll have a good laugh over your application before circular-filing it. No laboratory or hospital or university or corporation will hire biologists who believe in "intelligent design".

If you believe God made the world and created life, that's just fine. You can believe that all you want, and I won't complain in the least. But don't dress your faith up as science, and don't insist that other people's kids study your faith. You wouldn't want your kids studying someone else's faith, would you? So let's keep everybody's faith out of the schools.

I would suggest that Mr. Bush quietly drop this subject and say no more about it.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Here's a fascinating essay from Bartleby. It's titled Five American Contributions to Civilization, and it was written in 1895, 110 years ago. Seems pretty up-to-date, though. Highly recommended.