Saturday, November 29, 2008

Unnecessary Name Changes

Steve Sailer takes on the Name Game:

They couldn't say "Terrorists Strike in Mumbai" because few of the local rag's readers know in what country "Mumbai" is. Readers have heard of "Bombay." They've eaten at Bombay Bicycle Club restaurants and they've bought end tables from Bombay Co. Furniture stores, so they mostly know Bombay is a city in India. But, Mumbai they don't know from Kolkata [Calcutta, naturally--P.Z.] or Chennai [Madras--P.Z.]. So, the headline writer has to refer to "Indian City" because the English-language media recently stopped using the place name that has been used in English for centuries.

The effect, of course, is what normally happens when names are changed. The Name Game just makes most people more ignorant (while giving a few people another reason to self-congratulate over their superior sensitivity). Older Americans who grew up hearing about Bombay can't understand today's news; and younger Americans who are growing up hearing about Mumbai won't be able to understand all the books in the library that refer to Bombay.
In his 1991 book, BAD: Or, the Dumbing of America, Paul Fussell opines:

"Intellectuals tend to go in for self-righteous enthusiasms, and it is they (as well as politicians) who lie behind the BAD idea of changing the names of their countries from time to time, making the study of history and geography more difficult than necessary. It is they who decide that Ceylon should now be known as Sri Lanka, Rhodesia as Zimbabwe, and Upper Volta as Burkina Faso."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The (Dis)United States of America

From the Drudge Report:

Tue Nov 25 2008 09:04:22 ET

A leading Russian political analyst has said the economic turmoil in the United States has confirmed his long-held view that the country is heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts.

Professor Igor Panarin said in an interview with the respected daily IZVESTIA published on Monday: "The dollar is not secured by anything. The country's foreign debt has grown like an avalanche, even though in the early 1980s there was no debt. By 1998, when I first made my prediction, it had exceeded $2 trillion. Now it is more than 11 trillion. This is a pyramid that can only collapse."

The paper said Panarin's dire predictions for the U.S. economy, initially made at an international conference in Australia 10 years ago at a time when the economy appeared strong, have been given more credence by this year's events.

When asked when the U.S. economy would collapse, Panarin said: "It is already collapsing. Due to the financial crisis, three of the largest and oldest five banks on Wall Street have already ceased to exist, and two are barely surviving. Their losses are the biggest in history. Now what we will see is a change in the regulatory system on a global financial scale: America will no longer be the world's financial regulator."

When asked who would replace the U.S. in regulating world markets, he said: "Two countries could assume this role: China, with its vast reserves, and Russia, which could play the role of a regulator in Eurasia."

Asked why he expected the U.S. to break up into separate parts, he said: "A whole range of reasons. Firstly, the financial problems in the U.S. will get worse. Millions of citizens there have lost their savings. Prices and unemployment are on the rise. General Motors and Ford are on the verge of collapse, and this means that whole cities will be left without work. Governors are already insistently demanding money from the federal center. Dissatisfaction is growing, and at the moment it is only being held back by the elections and the hope that Obama can work miracles. But by spring, it will be clear that there are no miracles."

He also cited the "vulnerable political setup", "lack of unified national laws", and "divisions among the elite, which have become clear in these crisis conditions."

He predicted that the U.S. will break up into six parts - the Pacific coast, with its growing Chinese population; the South, with its Hispanics; Texas, where independence movements are on the rise; the Atlantic coast, with its distinct and separate mentality; five of the poorer central states with their large Native American populations; and the northern states, where the influence from Canada is strong.

He even suggested that "we could claim Alaska - it was only granted on lease, after all." Panarin, 60, is a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has authored several books on information warfare.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Now?

As far as I know, Hunter Bishop isn't linking to Kristine Kubat's new blog, Kubehead. It's as if he's hoping, maybe if I don't link to it, Kubehead will wither and die. Though off to a rough start, Kubat has this interesting post on the recent mmeting of Public Works and Planning. The Tribune-Herald reported on similarly lively meetings about Mauna Kea and the military.

Meanwhile, Ian Lind gives Andrew Walden props for his reporting on Hawaiian mortgage scams.

I have to credit Andrew Walden, who all too often slips far over the edge into ideological territory, for sticking largely to the record in his review of information available online concerning Mahealani Ventura-Oliver, the woman in the middle of an alleged scam aimed at Native Hawaiians. Walden follows many of the same sources cited here the past two days and is able to paint quite a picture of Ventura-Oliver and the larger network of which she is a part.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Overused Typeface: Copperplate Gothic

I had a hunch that Copperplate Gothic is overused. Searching online for "overused Copperplate Gothic," I found others who think so, too. But unlike those who want to get rid of it completely, I think CG is appropriate in some places. Papyrus, however, needs a long hibernation.

More later.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Wastrel Show: Cancelled?

Boomie of The Wastrel Show blog has endorsed McCain, praising him in many of her recent posts. So I wondered how she was taking Obama's victory. Apparently the blog's been taken down, which I find curious.

Neither candidate really was (or is) an advocate of frugality in government. Boomie might've considered Chuck Baldwin of the Constitution Party. After Ron Paul (who endorsed Baldwin), he was the thriftiest-minded presidential candidate this year.

From Wikipedia:

Baldwin says he would end all federal income taxes and phase out the Internal Revenue Service.[34]

Regarding tariffs, Baldwin has made conflicting statements. In an interview, he said "what I would propose is an across-the-board, general 10-percent tariff on all imports and that would meet the Constitution's prescription for financing the federal government—duties, imposts, tariffs"[47] which, he claims, would also help keep jobs in the United States.[48] But Baldwin's website says that "a tariff on foreign imports, based on the difference between the foreign item's cost of production abroad and the cost of production of a similar item produced in the United States, would be a Constitutional step toward a fair trade policy that would protect American jobs and, at the same time, raise revenue for our national government."[49]

He has said that as president he would streamline the federal government, and tap oil reserves in Alaska, the Dakotas, and the Gulf of Mexico. He believes the United States should return to the gold standard.[34]

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Eve

Kunstler's Election Eve column, with the really good stuff bolded.

November 3, 2008
A Nervous Nation

This is a nervous nation. Though I'm usually allergic to paranoia, something makes me think that there's a back office in the US Treasury that is buying the entire Dow Jones Industrial Index at opportune moments -- like fifteen minutes before the closing bell -- at the direction of Mr. Paulson. He seems to easily spend $50 billion a day on other dubious hand-outs. At that scale, buying the whole Dow would just take his walking-around money. The idea behind it, my paranoid fugue goes, is to jack up the stock market enough around election day to give the dimmer members of the voting public the idea that the financial fiasco is over and happy days are here again. You can't put this past the Republican party, despite John McCain's friendly turn on Saturday Night Live, consorting with "the enemy" for laughs.

Apart from that, McCain has run the flat-out most scurrilous campaign I've ever seen, despite his reputation as a war hero and a sterling fellow among the senators. He's run a campaign of malicious innuendo and slander, seemingly aimed at voters who would have trouble qualifying for the Special Olympics. And you have to wonder whether he actually requested Vice-president Dick Cheney to lay that "kiss-of-death" endorsement on him at the last moment. It could only have been better if Mr. Cheney borrowed some trick-or-treater's Darth Vadar costume for the grand occasion.

What many people are nervous about, of course, is the chance of shenanigans with the voting tally. Just one minor feature of the general paralysis gripping this society has been our inability to get rid of those mischievous Diebold computerized voting machines that leave no paper trail. By the way, these touchscreen voting units are an example of the diminishing returns of technology. There was nothing wrong with the old mechanical units, but by making over-investments in complexity we've just created more problems for ourselves. This ought to be a warning to those in the thrall of techno-triumphalism.

People are nervous not just because Mr. Obama might be swindled out of a victory, but because John McCain might get elected. Credibility in his judgment dissolved about eleven minutes after he picked the Bombshell from Wasilla to be a heartbeat away from the oval office. Anyway, the Republican Party needs to crawl off to a dark hole somewhere and either pupate into something better or die -- as the Whigs did in 1856. The Republican Party is not through wrecking America. They have three more months to destroy the US dollar and the economy that runs on it. And with Mr. Paulson shoving out pallet-loads of bundled dollars to the likes of JP Morgan, so they can continue doing the very thing that provoked this financial fiasco -- lending money recklessly to anyone with a pulse-- they might just "get her done!"

Other people are afraid that Mr. Obama will hand out bales of money, too, only to a different class of people. I suppose he will. I hope he will show restraint and apply it to public works that benefit all Americans -- such as my pet project of restoring passenger railroad service so people don't have to drive, for instance, from Atlanta to Louisville or Cleveland to Columbus. Even so, the new President will face not only a tide of woes created by his predecessor, but very likely, too, an obese and ineffectual federal bureaucracy unable to carry out even well-intentioned programs.

He will take office in what may be the darkest economic year this country has ever faced. 2009 shows every sign of being worse than this one, with house foreclosures and car re-pos accelerating, companies hemorrhaging jobs, oil prices heading back up (with shortages possible), and a large new group of the formerly middle class growing restive and sore in the background. It will be an historic act of governance if he can keep the lid on all this. Many people will be worrying, of course, whether he will even survive. The ghost of JFK and the dashed hopes he represented (however real or illusory) still haunt this nation.

Apart from the awful debt deflation and probable rebound hyper-inflation that will whipsaw the nation cross-eyed, the new president will face the energy question. I hope he learns the fundamental lesson: that the only way we can hope to become "energy independent" is to severely reform our car-dependent living arrangements and live more locally. Anybody who believes we're going to run the interstate highways and WalMart on solar, wind, tar sands (which belong to Canada, by the way), oil shale, methane gas, algae-diesel, or used fry-max® is going to be disappointed. We'll have to inhabit the terrain of North America differently -- in traditional towns, villages, cities (scaled smaller, to a lower energy diet), as well as a productive agricultural landscape that will require more attention from live human beings (and maybe help from our friends, the animals).
Much of the real work of the next president will be guiding a transition out of obsolete habits, practices, and expectations that we must shed whether we like it or not. The painful downscaling of the financial sector, from a bloated 20+ percent of the US economy back to something more in the 5 percent range, is only the first of these agonies. The transition away from suburbia -- our tragic misallocation of resources in an infrastructure for daily life with no future -- will be even more harrowing because of the psychology of previous investment, which will provoke a misguided effort to sustain the unsustainable, and squander our dwindling resources in the process.

I reject the label "gloom-and-doomer" where these difficult transitions are concerned. There's a lot about the way we live now that is disgusting, degrading, demoralizing, and socially toxic -- from our suicidal diet of processed fat, salt, and corn syrup byproducts to the spiritually punishing everyday realm of the highway strip to the fantastic loneliness and alienation of a people made hostage to a TV-consumer nexus of corporate colonialism. Were done with that. We just don't know it yet. Mr. Obama may not know it, either, but he is a trustworthy soul to hold our hands as we enter this unknown territory.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

What Now?: Alan McNarie's Blog

Former Hawaii Island Journal writer Alan McNarie follows the lead of Hunter Bishop, et al. and has set up a blog, which I just found this Sunday evening. Most of the posts so far are his previously published articles, but McNarie has original stuff, like a commentary on Sarah Palin.

22 February update: This is Alan's site devoted to his fractured Christmas carols.