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[ 26 ] April 8, 2008 |

Via Danger Room, interesting Bloomberg article about the Russian-built Chinese-operated “Sizzler” missile. The Sizzler approaches its target at supersonic speed then arches right before hitting. Apparently, the USN has no defense:

The Navy doesn’t have a test target that can mimic how the Sizzler flies. They haven’t even “picked a contractor to develop the test target,” Capaccio notes. Industry proposals for building the target missile were received in February and a contract valued at about $107 million will be awarded by Oct. 1 for a 54-month development phase and first fielding by 2014.”

The 3M-54 carries either a 200kg or 400kg warhead, and can be fired by submarine from a range of 200km+. That’s almost certainly not enough to kill a US carrier, but it could probably end flight operations. In a wartime scenario, this would have the effect of pushing US carriers farther from Taiwan, and would put a premium on the ability of the USN to identify and destroy Chinese submarines before they can approach. And this latter would be a very difficult job…

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Story of The Day (Yesterday, That is)

It really doesn’t get better than a headline like this: “Possible Nazi Theme of Grand Prix Boss’s Orgy Draws Calls to Quit”

Except for that, with a story this crazy, it does. Max Mosley, the president of Formula 1 and the son of London’s 1930s Facist leader and a socialite who married at the home of Goebbels with Hitler as a special guest, was caught in a sting operation having sex with five prostitutes. Sado-masochistic sex. In which the women were dressed like prisoners and Mr. Mosley yelled at them in German-accented English, saying that they needed more punishment.

His rep says it was “More Alcatraz than Auschwitz.”

And I say, honestly, the headline was enough.

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Is It Over?

[ 8 ] April 8, 2008 |

That was a historic (if exciting) choke; deepest condolences to those who found this to be one of the most emotionally crushing experiences of their adult lives.

Congrats also to drip, who prevails in the LGM Tourney Challenge. Please send along e-mail info…

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Gifts for the Young Revanchist

[ 42 ] April 7, 2008 |

April not only marks Confederate Heritage Month, but it also contains the birthday of my daughter, who had the misfortune of being cast into the world on Confederate Memorial Day. Of late, debate within the household has concerned the issue of her second birthday party and whether a Sesame Street theme would be more or less preferable to a Winnie the Pooh theme.

Fortunately, the Sons of Confederate Veterans have supplied a third alternative that would include an array of activity books and inspiring tales from the Old South.

Among the classier gifts, we find these two winners:

On the publisher’s website, the plantation model carries the following description:

Detailed instructions, exploded diagrams and a few inexpensive tools help papercrafters construct paper model of early 19th-century Southern plantation. Includes spectacular Greek Revival-styled main house with portico, colonnades connecting house and two wings, carriage house, garconniere, privy, slave cabin, fence.

There’s no word, sadly, on the release date for the scale model of Sherman’s March, but I’m pretty confident we can come up with a homemade workaround.

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Give it Up

[ 23 ] April 7, 2008 |

Via Publius, Sean Wilentz has an exceedingly weak piece arguing that Clinton would be the easy winner in any fair primary system. Now, the primary system is full of irrationalities, so one might think that it would be possible to come up with a decent argument, but alas he fails at the task. Rather, the core of his argument is to assert again and again that the GOP winner-take-all model is the only fair way of apportioning delegates because…that’s how we do it in Presidential elections! But, of course, winner-take-all plurality voting is notoriously the least accurate of vote count systems commonly used in liberal democracies, and it is precisely that feature that led to the popular vote winner losing in 2000 and given different weather patterns in Ohio could have very easily led to the popular vote winner losing in 2004. Indeed, not using winner-take-all is one of the very few defensible aspects of the current primary system, and certainly Wilentz doesn’t even begin to make an argument about why PR is so much worse as to render the winner illegitimate (and I’m not counting “we do it that way in other parts of our anachronistic election system” as an argument.)

And, indeed, it gets worse: Obama is attacked for refusing to certify the results of an election which 1)the authoritative decision maker declared in advance would not count, 2)all candidates agreed not to campaign in, and 3)only one major candidate appears on the ballot. (I can’t wait for Wilentz’s piece next week railing against people who claim that Dimitry Medvedev’s election is illegitimate: after all, lots of people voted! That’s the only criterion that counts!) In general, the whole article reminds me of Wilentz asserting that JFK would have benefited from a much greater halo effect than LBJ…without being assassinated.

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Best Thing about NJ?

It’s not the view of New York. These days, the best thing about the Garden State is its progressive social agenda. And the state is putting supposedly progressive NY to shame.

First, they instituted civil unions (not a good final answer but a step more than NY Has taken).
Then, they repealed the death penalty.
And now, the state is poised to implement paid family leave.

NY is 0 for 3. NJ is leaving NY in the dust.

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Penn To Embarass Clinton Campiagn Less In Public

[ 0 ] April 7, 2008 |

Mark Penn, Union Buster (TM) steps down as “chief strategist,” although he’ll be raking in fees to provide advice and polling data. Apparently “Garin officially began polling for the campaign last month, a major sign that senior Clinton aides doubted not only Penn’s judgment, but also his numbers.” Why you would continue to pay him huge send of money for worthless data about “taking kids to French horn lessons moms” when you also may have useful data available is beyond me, but it’s not my money. I also agree with Melber that “[t]weaking titles does nothing to address the serious questions about Penn’s potential conflicts of interest.”

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Christians v. Lions

[ 10 ] April 7, 2008 |

My condolences to Plumer and any other Canucks fans reading for the whole missing the playoffs thing. However, be grateful that at least you’re not about to be pummeled senseless by the Sharks for four or maybe five games. (Granted, they have never been as good as I expect, but there biggest weakness has always been the lack of a real #1 defenseman — Scott Hannan definitely didn’t count — and Campbell seems to have solved that problem.)

Related: classy way for Trevor Linden to go out. He scored some big goals when they came a goal away from the Cup in ’94.

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Touch Of Evil

[ 0 ] April 6, 2008 |

As a bit of stuck-at-such-an-interminable-delay-at-O’Hare I’m-willing-to-shell-out-the-7-bucks-for-intarweb-access blogging, to follow up on Rob’s tribute I’ll second Kathy’s remarks here.

…Glen Kenny has more thoughts here.

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Not a Sidewalk Bag

There’s been lots of buzz recently in New York about the big Takashi Murakami show opening at the Brooklyn Museum. You know Murakami. He’s the one who creates Japanese animation-style images as oversize art. Oh yeah, and he also collaborates with handbag giant Louis Vuitton to create and sell limited edition colorful Vuitton/Murakami bags for thousands of dollars. The look like this. It’s the perfect coming together of art and commerce.

But it’s hit a new low. In the New York Times Styles Section today (I know, the Styles Section), there’s an article about the oh-so-smart presentation of the Vuitton bags for sale at the Murakami opening this week. Here’s a photo:

Get it? The Museum is blurring the line between authentic and fake by staging a Disney-esque street scene in which black men (chosen because they resemble the West African immigrants who can be found on many a street corner selling fake Vuitton/Murakami bags) sell thousands-dollar bags to the wealthy. And the wealthy get the experience of …. buying a bag from a black man on the street instead of a young woman in a 5th Avenue store?

All of this, it seems, is intended as a commentary on the problems of counterfeiting. The social commentary about the problems of consumerism, class, and race seems totally lost.

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It Has Come to This…

[ 8 ] April 6, 2008 |

Only two remain. While G. Mackin’s “Muirshin Durkin” currently sits tied for sixth place, 150 points behind acclaimed LGM blogger djw’s ingeniously dubbed “Watkins 1″ entry, of the surviving entrants only Mackin has picked Memphis to win it all, and consequently only Mackin can overtake djw. It’s simply; if Kansas wins djw walks away with the certificate, while if Memphis wins the honor and glory goes to Mackin.

UPDATE: D’oh! I thought I had checked and re-checked, but of course I got it wrong; Watkins picked Memphis. This means that drip, who picked Kansas, will win if the Jayhawks prevail. Mackin is consigned to the dustbin of history.

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Chuck Has Left the Stage…

[ 41 ] April 6, 2008 |

Old Man Heston has passed away.

Heston occupied an iconic space that was weirdly similar to that of John Wayne, but with an important difference. Although Wayne the actor eventually became lost in Wayne the icon, at the various points along his career you could tell that he was a fantastically talented performer; his Ethan Edwards is one of the finest creations in American cinema, and I even quite like his performance in The Shootist. Heston the icon emerged very early, but Heston the talented actor… not so much. Some of his performances (Touch of Evil, Planet of the Apes) are quite memorable, but not really because I thought that there was any great acting appearing on screen. My favorite Heston, oddly enough, is his turn as Long John Silver in the 1990 TV version of Treasure Island, which I honestly think is the best film version of the novel. Loomis is mildly less charitable.

His politics are well known; he walked the familiar path from left to right between the 1950s and 1980s, although he ended up in rather a unique place.

Rest in peace.

UPDATE: I must admit to being overly amused by the combination of this post with this comment

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