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The Mao Zedong?

[ 0 ] June 27, 2009 |

Fascinating; the unscientific popular choice for the name of China’s first aircraft carrier is Mao Zedong:

But which was the runaway favorite in two polls conducted earlier this month? Mao Zedong.

He may have been a monster to you and me. The number of Chinese who died as a result of his policies runs into the tens of millions. But to many, if not most people here, Mao remains – for all his faults, even when they are admitted – the father of the nation; his memory is endowed with supernatural powers.

Indeed, his name alone “has deterrent force,” believe some of the respondents, according to the International Herald Leader, a daily paper owned by the official Xinhua news agency, which commissioned one of the polls.

But there could be a drawback. “Aircraft carriers are used in battle, and they could get damaged,” the Herald Leader points out. “If that happened to a carrier named Mao Zedong, it might hurt ordinary people’s feelings.”

In such a naming scheme, would Mao be followed by Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping? Then maybe Chen Yun and Yang Shangkun? Would an aircraft carrier serve as the ultimate redemption for Liu Shaoqi or (less likely) Lin Biao? Or is Mao singular enough that you could name the rest after cities or provinces? A note of caution to the Chinese; you start out by giving an aircraft carrier the name of a legendary leader, and you end up with the Carl Vinson and the John C. Stennis.

Via Galrahn.


Old School

[ 0 ] June 27, 2009 |

Mr. Trend has one of the nicer tributes to MJ that I’ve read.

I Do Not Think That Word Means What You Think it Means: GAZPROM Edition

[ 0 ] June 27, 2009 |


Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has signed a $2.5bn (£1.53bn) deal with Nigeria’s state operated NNPC, to invest in a new joint venture.

The new firm, to be called Nigaz, is set to build refineries, pipelines and gas power stations in Nigeria.

H/t Chet, via TPM.

…the gods of blogging would strike me down if I failed to include this:

Via Dan.

Now that’s What I Call a Punchline…

[ 0 ] June 26, 2009 |

Dan Barry, in the New York Times, on the contemporary John Birch Society:

The coordinator was Chris Nowak, 24, a substitute math teacher who said he joined after his father, a longtime Bircher, re-educated him about American history; for example, he now understood that the United Nations was founded by President Harry S. Truman “and other communists.”

With Mr. Nowak were Ray Tisch, 37, an electrical engineer, and Matthew Yamakaitis, 49, a warehouse worker, who said they had joined the John Birch Society within the last two years because they shared its concerns about the North American Union, the mainstream media and the conspiracy of elite insiders.

“At the highest levels there are controls in place,” Mr. Tisch said. Mr. Yamakaitis agreed, saying that if the insiders succeed in creating a new world order, “It basically means less power for us.”

“And more for the elite,” said Mr. Tisch.

“The Rockefellers, the Morgans, the Rothschilds,” said Mr. Nowak.

“Ssssssssss,” said the sausage cooking on a nearby grill.


[ 0 ] June 26, 2009 |

For your weekend irritation:

Something worth noting: We often think of anti-gay bigotry as a pre-existing social fact that is, slowly but appreciably, slipping into history. But that’s not quite right. Homophobia is, to substantial effect, the product of campaigns of propaganda on the part of political and religious institutions. This is to say that beliefs about the ickiness of homosexuality exist, at least to a degree, because the state took it upon itself to insist that homosexuality was icky. People had to be taught that they found homosexuality repulsive. Read your Foucault, etc.

Via AFY_Joe.

Gambling in Casablanca

[ 0 ] June 26, 2009 |

The only surprising thing about this stuff is that none of these bigwigs (including a law school dean — apparently she never learned to think like a lawyer) can ever seem to remember that government emails are subject to FOIA requests.

In one e-mail exchange, University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman forced the law school to admit an unqualified applicant backed by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking a promise from the governor’s go-between that five law school graduates would get jobs. The applicant, a relative of deep-pocketed Blagojevich campaign donor Kerry Peck, appears to have been pushed by Trustee Lawrence Eppley, who often carried the governor’s admissions requests.

When Law School Dean Heidi Hurd balked on accepting the applicant in April 2006, Herman replied that the request came “Straight from the G. My apologies. Larry has promised to work on jobs (5). What counts?”

Hurd replied: “Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar.”

Hurd’s e-mail suggests that students getting the jobs are to be those in the “bottom of the class.” Law school rankings depend in part on the job placement rate of graduates.

Your Point Being?

[ 1 ] June 26, 2009 |

It’s because of arguments of this quality that they found a civil liberties claim that Sam Alito (albeit superfluously) can support:

Matthew Wright, lawyer for the Safford school district, predicted the decision would have a “chilling effect” on administrators responding to threats of drugs.

The War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs being what it is, I’m less optimistic. But let’s hope so!

Then there’s this:

Francisco Negron, lawyer for the National School Boards Association, said the decision could be confusing for school officials, who typically lack formal training in drugs yet would have to consider whether the contraband they seek is dangerous enough to do to a strip search.

Well, here’s an idea — you could err on the side of not performing arbitrary strip searches! I’m also going to guess that administrators’ lack of expertise and training and their inability to correctly assess the dangers of drug use somehow never come up when they’re imposing draconian penalties and performing humiliating searches on students in the name of combating the dangers of drugs…

Elvis has Left the Building?

[ 0 ] June 26, 2009 |
I’m a bit late to the game on this one.  Paul beat me to the punch, and got in the obviously good quip in the process.  I blame the time zones.  Or the healthy moderate drinking that a good friend and I partook in last night at my house.  It was a nice Zin, and also a really nice, proper Chablis, but I digress.
I’m both surprised and not, at once.  When I woke and heard the news on BBC 6 Music this morning, I went to my itunes collection to put some Jackson on, out of some sort of sentimental obligation or whatever.  Fortunately, over the years, cooler heads have prevailed; out of the 95 gig of music in my itunes collection (other pointless stats: 51.7 straight days of music; I don’t have 51.7 days to listen to music exclusively) there is not a single Michael Jackson song.  [UPDATE: There is.  I have a very nice Motown box set that I hadn’t imported into itunes for some reason.  And I’m kicking myself for missing the obvious temporal link here — the Jackson 5 were signed to Motown in 1968, the same year Elvis realized that he was irrelevant and had his comeback special.  1969 was when the Jackson 5 released their first singles, the same year Elvis recorded what would become parts of the Memphis Record.]
That also sort of surprised me — as, while lapsed in the theological sense, I do maintain a catholic approach to music.  I’ll admit to an admiration for the man in terms of his pop sensibilities — he was genius there.  But, unlike the King, Jacko never had his return to Memphis moment.  Jackson had become utterly irrelevant, and worse, a running joke, but part of me had hoped, in vain, that he would recognize this.  Where Elvis had self-awareness, recognized that he had become irrelevant, and even better, did something about it, making perhaps one of the best records ever, Jackson did nothing more than string us along.
I will state, unequivocally, that Michael Jackson is not my generation’s Elvis.  As far as I am concerned, that man is playing Glastonbury this weekend.  But with both Jacko and Farrah, who will be the third? [readers have correctly pointed out that Ed McMahon was the first of this batch of three . . . and on this one, my excuses are flimsy at best.]

Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson selfishly draw attention away from freedom-loving Iranians

[ 0 ] June 25, 2009 |

Governor of South Carolina breathes deep sigh of relief.

…[UPDATE BY ROB] the obligatory video:

Michael and Farrah, rest in peace.

Court Finds Arbitrary Strip Search Unconstitutional

[ 0 ] June 25, 2009 |

I’m very, very happy to be wrong about this one. In a very pleasant surprise, today 8 justices found that the appalling arbitrary strip search of Savana Redding violated the Fourth Amendment. The majority opinion, by Souter, split the baby by finding a constitutional violation but holding that because the law was unclear the administrator who order the illegal search was granted qualified immunity. Ginsburg and Stevens dissented in part, holding that the search was clearly illegal under the controlling precedent, and therefore the administrator should not be immunized:

Here “the nature of the [supposed] infraction,” the slim basis for suspecting Savana Redding, and her “age and sex,” ibid., establish beyond doubt that Assistant Principal Wilson’s order cannot be reconciled with this Court’s opinion in T. L. O. Wilson’s treatment of Redding was abusive and it was not reasonable for him to believe that the law permitted it. I join Justice Stevens in dissenting from the Court’s acceptance of Wilson’s qualified immunity plea, and would affirm the Court of Appeals’ judgment in all respects.

I think this is right — granting that the TLO standard involved substantial discretion, if this serach didn’t violate it, I’m not sure what would, and Ginsburg is right that the principal’s actions wre transparently irresponsible — but given the grim outlook I can live with this outcome. Setting limits on these searches going forward is the most important thing, although it might be preferable to establish clearer disincentives.

Thomas, meanwhile, held to his longstanding opinion that the Constitution for all intents and purposes does not apply in the context of schools. Given that upholding this search would have constituted a de facto endorsement of the Thomas position, I’m glad that the Court finally said that enough is enough.

Intelligence Gathering Opportunity?

[ 0 ] June 25, 2009 |

I had the same thought as Jason Zengerle; inviting Iranian diplomats to the July 4 embassy picnics was potentially an intelligence gathering opportunity. This appears not to be the case, however.

Also, this is the nicest thing that Ann Althouse has ever said about anyone associated with LGM. An attempt at engagement to end the longstanding rift between our two peoples? Or unwelcome interference in LGM affairs?


[ 0 ] June 25, 2009 |

Michael Bay is worse than Stalin. Discuss.

… I look forward to Yglesias and Kleins’ Bay apologism with giddy anticipation…