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Gorshkov Update

[ 0 ] November 29, 2008 |

The government of India has more important things on its plate right now, but if you’re interested in how the Admiral Gorshkov negotiations might play out, take a look at Galrahn’s discussion. He partially translates a Russian article on the subject, which points out that if the carrier doesn’t go to India, it’s not likely to go anywhere. The Russian Navy doesn’t want Gorshkov (and is apparently deeply ambivalent about the idea of building a carrier fleet in the short term), and the Chinese probably wouldn’t want it, either. Accordingly, the Russians should probably be careful about antagonizing their only potential customer.

Insane consumerism, campout edition

[ 0 ] November 28, 2008 |

I guess this kind of thing is what makes the world go around on some level.

And so the Black Friday lines begin. The streets of Boulder are fairly tame and the majority of store-fronts are dark on Thanksgiving evening. However, at this point in time, about 30 people have set up camp in front of Boulder’s new Best Buy.

They’re here for the Black Friday deals. Best Buy won’t open until 5 a.m., but these folks are braving the cold, and eventually sleep deprivation, to not miss out on the early bird specials. (Best Buy and other retailers will have a limited amount of “door-busting” items such as the new Guitar Hero for $80, a desktop computer for $300 and a laptop for $379.

Waiting in line or camping overnight is a tradition for some of these people in line. They put aside money all year, plan out their purchases weeks in advance by perusing the advertisement fliers leaked to Web sites like, and then brave the cold and eventual sleep-deprivation.

I’d like to feel superior to these people (well OK I do), but then I remember I’ve done things like spend $700 to go to a Michigan-Ohio State game in which Michigan got 91 yards of total offense while the game was held in a freezing drizzle that was two degrees too warm to turn into snow, and I stayed for the whole thing. While wearing running shoes. (My toes were nearly amputated).

BTW when did Black Friday become an evergreen news story/free advertisement for rampant consumerism? Ten years ago? Longer? I don’t remember it being talked about much before then. Especially since the whole thing is crap even on the empirical level of it being the busiest shopping day of the year (there are always a couple of days before Christmas that are busier. Lots of men in this world after all).

Update: It’s funny until someone gets killed.

Thanksgiving diversions

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

In case you tire of your friends and relatives today, you can always amuse yourself with TIDOS Yankee’s efforts to lift his self-esteem:

My typical day started by taking my older daughter to her elementary school, dropping my infant daughter off at her daycare, and then driving to work on a corporate campus in Research Triangle Park. In none of these locations is concealed carry permitted; if I’d been armed, I would have managed a trifecta of felonies before my first cup of coffee. The 637CT, which I’d planned to carry in the pocket holster with the intimidating Winchester Supreme SXT hollowpoints, stayed at home. Some experiment this was turning out to be!

It was a couple of days later that I finally had a chance to legally carry, when my wife dispatched me to the local pet store chain to pick up various kinds of critter food for the Owens family menagerie. As it turns out, a J-frame revolver with a full grip like that of the 637CT doesn’t fit real well in anything but the large side pockets of the cargo-style shorts I was wearing, so with every step, the 637CT slapped against my thigh. It was annoying, to put it mildly.

Or, even better, you get loaded and watch The Puppy Channel.

Free TV : Ustream

Thanksgiving Wingnuttery

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Mark Krikorian:

Good point — no amount of military-school hazing or even life-fire exercises could better train a soldier for combat than strolling in uniform through an Ivy League campus.

I’d take a bullet over a Yalie’s withering glance any day.

Hat tip to CT.

A Food Note

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Apparently, you should be grateful that turkey is the Thanksgiving staple, as opposed to testicles. Even in a goulash…


[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

Somehow, this doesn’t seem like the right time for a chipper Thanksgiving greeting…

Detective Work

[ 0 ] November 27, 2008 |

A friend fowards along this photo of her father, Walter Rule, on one of his first Navy postings. She wonders whether this is Honolulu or San Diego. Any thoughts?

The Only History is Confederate History

[ 0 ] November 26, 2008 |

Robert Stacy McCain unleashes some spittle-flecked outrage about something called the “Historic Victimhood Narrative” that is allegedly taught in American schools. For example, some history courses might suggest that race had something to do with the murder of Emmett Till. Why, they might even suggest that the acquittal of his murderers after a perfunctory show trial had something to do with the murder taking place in an apartheid police state! For shame — I can’t believe history has become so “politicized.”

Atlas Shrugged

[ 0 ] November 26, 2008 |

The revised manuscript.

By the way, has Dr. Mrs. Ole Perfesser “gone John Galt” yet? It’s difficult to see how the country could be sustained with a reduction in wingnut blogging, but during times of crisis sacrifices are sometimes necessary.

More on Turkey

[ 0 ] November 26, 2008 |

This is right. Admittedly, traditions being self-justifying is less harmless when it comes to one meal a year as opposed to, say, when Antonin Scalia uses this logic with respect to the 14th Amendment…

Plus, of course, everyone knows that the history is erroneous.

Also, Al Gore is Fat…

[ 0 ] November 26, 2008 |

In my darker moments at the end of the semester, I sometimes find myself complaining to no one in particular that kids these days lack basic research skills and that their written work often reads like mediocre paraphrasing of Wikipedia entries.

Then again, it could be worse. Politico, for instance, should be lucky enough to hire reporters who actually know how to use Google. If Erika Lovley had even bothered to looked at the wiki entry for her major piece of “evidence” of growing scientific doubt about global climate change, she’d have discovered that the “31,000 scientists” on the laughable Oregon Petition included “Perry Mason,” “Geri Halliwell,” and someone by the name of “Redwine, Ph.D.” For the sheer fun of it, I just might sign the petition and stuff it in the late afternoon mail, thus blending my skeptical voice with fellow Alaskans “Edward M. Dokoozian” (a “Certified Safety Professional”), “Monte D. Mabry” (a staff geologist for ConocoPhillips), and dozens of other folks whose existence on the internet consists, so far as I’m able to tell, entirely of having “signed” the petition….

No word on whether “Ronald Ruck, Ph.D.” and “Rickey Rouse, DDS” have added their names to the list.

The rest of the piece is equally pathetic and weird. Did you know the Farmer’s Almanac “predicted that the next year will see a period of cooling”? If you’re the sort of person who doubts the predictive wisdom of the FA, you’re probably the sort of person who doubts that “if it rains on St. Swithin’s Day, it will rain for 40 more”. It’s scientifical!

Cities of the Plains

[ 0 ] November 25, 2008 |

I’m not sure I’m convinced by this argument:

Economic geography tells us that market potential is important. If you want to be a rich place, it helps to be close to other rich places. This is one of the problems with the Rust Belt. Individually, Rust Belt cities are weaker than cities on the east coast — they have smaller economies and less human capital. This is complicated by the fact that they’re fairly isolated. The rich cities of the northeast corridor are squeezed together, while Rust Belt cities are far apart — from each other and from the rich cities of the east coast. This means that they have less to work with, and they’re less able to leverage that strength in a regional economy. For this reason, I’ve argued that it’s important to invest in individual cities in the Rust Belt, but it’s also important to improve connections between the cities. To effectively bring them closer together.

High-speed rail would, in other words, turn Rust Belt distances into northeast corridor distances, while also shifting the Rust Belt closer to the northeast corridor. It would increase the return to doing business in every city in the region. It would be the Erie Canal and the original railroads on steroids.

I like the high speed rail idea, but I’m not sure I buy the argument that distance is the real problem in the Rust Belt. Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver really aren’t that close to each other by Midwest standards, yet they all seem to be doing fine. Denver is very far from anything of consequence, yet is typically regarded as a wealthy city. I haven’t done any research, and so my thinking could be all wrong (maybe Cincy and Cleveland are richer than Seattle and Portland in some non-obvious way?) but cities that aren’t really close to other cities would also seem to benefit from being regional centers of consumption. Maybe there’s some kind of upside down bell curve, such that close proximity and relative isolation are good for growth, while middling distances are a problem? Or perhaps the experience of the coastal cities of the West isn’t transferable to the Midwest (this wouldn’t apply to Denver, though)?

Via Ezra.