Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Dear Diary...

Finger-fumbling-free at last

Back on a real keyboard, and IT'S WONDERFUL! 


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In Passing

For our literary friends

cover artGlen Cook's first Garrett, P.I. book is back in print.

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Monday, 11 June 2007


Linkety Linkety

Sopranos by Checkov

Stanislavsky told Checkov something that is a sort of matrix for all drama, "If you leave a loaded gun on the table, it has to go off before the play ends." In other words, it's a play and not real life. You must tie certain things up.

Well in the Sopranos there were rifles, pistols, and machine guns left sitting on the table and none of them went off. A totally shitty ending, one that Stanislavsky would not have allowed, no matter how good the writing. Were the Sopranos a play it would close out of town...

And the first thing we'll do (a.k.a. "Don't you know there's a war on?  Part XXVII")
There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled. -- David Ignatius (bolding by Rich Lowry)

Congrats to LGF, back on the air after Saturday's drive crash.

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In Passing

Could using ethanol lead to a sweeter outcome?

Instapundit links to a Popular Science article that explores one unintended consequence of increased ethanol production, higher feed grain prices. The article's second paragraph:

Corn is a mainstay of American agriculture— it’s an important ingredient in cereals and baked goods, and corn syrup is used to make processed foods like candy, chips and soft drinks. ... [bolding mine - o.g.]
Interesting little factoid there. Corn syrup is a sugar substitute.  Why is corn syrup so important in U.S. food production?  Because the United States keeps sugar prices artificially high, both through subsidies and tariffs.

The U.S. sugar program is a long-time sore point with a lot of different folks. Libertarians dislike it because it's a classic example of the government screwing up the market. Internationalists blame it for unfairly locking  third-world sugar producers out of the American market.  Candymakers hate it because they can't substitute corn syrup. The high sugar prices make them uncompetative, leaving them a choice of moving out of the country or going out of business. Food purists, horrified by the idea of substituting corn syrup for real sugar, say, "You may say it's the same, but I can taste the difference."  Environmentalists object because the program's production subsidies have encouraged increased sugar beet farming in unsuitable areas, resulting in environmental damage to the Florida Everglades. Populists point out that forty-two percent of the subsidy benefits go to just 1 percent of sugar producers, including $65 million to companies owned by just one family.  And then there's the everyday consumer, who pays more for anything that's sweet-- from a can of Coke to this morning's cinnamon roll.

With all those objections, you'd think the sugar program would have been dead along time ago.  But it's also the classic case of a small group of beneficiaries buying support from both political parties to insure continued existence of a program that benefits them a lot by extracting a little from everybody else.  And along the way the program itself has created a new group of supporters:  The corn syrup producers, who know they'd be out of business if forced to compete without the artifical barriers the program enforces.  As administrations have come and gone, and as different parties have controlled Congress, one constant has been the lack of interest by both Republicans and Democrats in driving a stake into the heart of this Count Dracula of government programs.

The rise of ethanol may signal a new opportunity.  The ethanol-driven corn price increases, with the associated price hikes for corn-based sweeteners, may finally lead enough people to say, often enough and loud enough, "Hey, if it wasn't for this program-- we could be using cheap sugar  instead of expensive corn syrup.  Time to kill it!"  Which might shift the political balance just enough to the the government to do the Right Thing, even if for the Wrong Reason.  Stay tuned.

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Sunday, 10 June 2007

Dear Diary...

"I write frin unknown locaation"

Did I evgmer nmeontion how much I HATE laptioop keyboards>?

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The Press

Reasons for throwing your television out the window: Part 1

Kicking off what will probably turn into a continuing series, reason #1 comes from Cincinnati talker Darryl Parks, who opened his Saturday (June 10th) show with a seven-minute audio montage[1] assembled from Friday's cable TV coverage of Paris Hilton. Enough said.

LATER: "We'll always have Paris" Department: The Savannah Morning News's Mark Streeter questions priorities, and creates a category.

[1](No link, because it doesn't appear to be online. Maybe we could write him, after all he is WLW's PD, yet he doesn't rate an entry on their podcast page! Whatzup widdat?)

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If the Munchkins had been Minnesotans

Silly (but telling) stereotypical one-liner in the third paragraph.

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Friday, 08 June 2007

In Passing

Move the goalpoasts? They're changing stadiums!

Zombietime on the Hitchens-Hedges "Is God Great?" Debate:

The American political landscape experienced an epochal re-alignment on May 24. A subtle yet far-reaching tectonic shift.

You probably didn't notice. But you will, eventually.

Because it was on that date in Berkeley, California that the radical left reversed what had been its immutable rejection of religion and for the first time embraced spirituality...

How did this strange state of affairs come to pass? In one word: Islam.

The left... has always been anti-religion. But now, they've become caught in a philosophical bind: how can they promote multiculturalism -- and by extension all non-Western cultures, such as fundamentalist Islam -- if they condemn religion in general? Neocon pundits have since 9/11 frequently accused the left of being in bed with Muslim extremists, a charge which the left has vehemently denied. But with every denial their position was becoming more and more untenable, as the verbiage and narratives of Islamic radicals and "anti-war" progressives have grown to become virtually indistinguishable.

Someone had to take the lead and resolve the dilemma that the left had created for itself. And so it was Hedges who stepped forward... taking what is for him (and the left) a revolutionary position: that spirituality and religion -- with the noteworthy exception of organized Christianity -- is good.
Read the whole thing.

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The Press

Meanwhile, on the business front

This explains some things:

This week, investors who purchased loans backing Avista’s buyout of the Star Tribune newspaper learned that the company’s cash flow already is running as much as 20% below Avista’s original financial projections for the deal, which closed just three months ago, according to someone close to the matter. Full-year results also are expected to come in below projections. -- WSJ, quoted here
HT, "kennycan," posting at Daily Pundit.  I missed this one this morning.

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In Passing

Lileks again

Judging from the output so far over at the bucket, there may soon be a shortage of room in the Pipes.  Wow!
Later:  And he's posting pictures, too.

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