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Just What I See

Technology allows our culture to document itself. Some elevate that opportunity to the level of art:

Just What I See features the iPhone Street Photography of Greg Schmigel.

Why the iPhone?

I believe that about 90% of photography is about what the photographer sees. The choice of camera makes up for the rest. My iPhone just happens to be the camera that's always with me.

Woman standing in front of shop window mannequins

Bone Voyage!

As another indication of the bounty of our society, I direct your attention to Pet Airways:

We always knew Zoe, our Jack Russell Terrier, was smart, but it wasn't until a couple years ago that we realized she's also a brilliant entrepreneur. After all, it was Zoe who gave us the idea for Pet Airways.

With Zoe as part of our family, planning vacations was always a little more complicated. Visiting out-of-state friends or relatives required sophisticated logistics. Weekend getaways always had to be close to home.

It wasn't Zoe's fault of course. It was the airlines'. There was simply no safe way for Zoe to comfortably fly with us. She's not a big dog. Just a little one. But a little too big to fit under the seat.



Robin of Berkeley, a political changer from lefty to righty, reflects on her first Thanksgiving:

Being a Leftist means honing in on every possible injustice. Never-ending gripes and grievances are the glue that keeps progressives cemented together.

But then, three years ago, the bottom fell out of my life. Slowly but surely, it dawned on me that everything I had held as sacrosanct was a lie. I woke up -- and now I behold the world with fresh eyes. Consequently, I am celebrating my First Thankful Thanksgiving.

Instead of laser-focusing on every unfairness, I am now moved by life's bounty. I finally see my great fortune in being born in this country, in this moment in time. Although I used to lambaste the United States and everything it stood for, I realize that I was like a spoiled child -- ungrateful, mean-spirited.


Nexus of Yuk

The 2010 edition of the Minnesota Vikings have failed. Today’s debacle was pathetic. The defensive secondary might as well have been waving checkered flags at the Packer receivers.

Favre might still have enough ability to play in the NFL, but he would have to work for the full season. Coming in late meant he was never in sync with the team. The defensive line did not live up to the hype. I didn’t share the faith in the promise of Sidney Rice as a savior for the receiving corps. He had one good year, which proves nothing much. And don’t get me started on the lousy decisions of the head coach…

At least Adrian Peterson has cured his fumble problem. Watching him play is still a treat.


SWPL Radio

Public radio annoys me. It is a bastion of the kind of self-satisfied smugness that I see in most of my lefty neighbors. It is a church of superficial diversity that excommunicates anyone (see Juan Williams) for the sin of Differing Opinion.

Thus, I enjoyed this take-down of NPR:

“NPR doesn’t get a lot of public money.” This endlessly repeated assertion is apparently so important that it appears on NPR’s own website, where it features prominently in the ombudsman’s frequently asked questions page. “NPR receives no direct funding from the federal government,” the network states. This begs the question, of course, of why — if the public money it receives is so minor — NPR and its defenders fight so ferociously to retain it.


Look It Up

The Oxford Dictionary people have made Sarah Palin’s neologism*, “refudiate”, the Word of the Year. By my count, that’s one more than the current President has accomplished. But Barry is still up 1–0 in Peace Prizes.

The Oxford experts hold that Palin means what she says:

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used 'refudiate,' we have concluded that neither 'refute' nor 'repudiate' seems consistently precise, and that 'refudiate' more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of 'reject.'


The Human Network

Cobb thinks about computers and the future:

First off, the fundamental thing that IT gives is the ability to overcome time and distance. It enables human intercommunications on levels never achieved in the history of mankind. In and of itself, this is an economy pulled out of a hat. Without disintermediating planes, trains and automobiles, there are new ways that people interact that make IT a non-zero sum game. Look at a movie from the 80s and find all of the plot holes and crazy situations that could have been obviated by today's cell phone networks and GPS.

Transportation is essentially the most physical form of communication. Communication is required for people to negotiate and cooperate. And more cooperation leads to greater prosperity.


Why are they selling poppies, mother? Selling poppies in town today?
The poppy, my child, is the flower of love for the men, who marched away.

Why did they choose a poppy, mother? Why not a beautiful rose?
Because, my child, men fought and died in the fields, where the poppy grows.

But why is the poppy so red?
Red is the colour of blood, my child, the blood that our soldiers shed.

The heart of the poppy is black mother. Why does it have to be black?
Black is the symbol of grief, my child, for the men, who never came back.

But why, mother dear, are you crying so? Your tears are like winter rain.
My tears are my fears for you, my child, for the world is forgetting again.

—John F. Willcocks

Segregationist Colleges

Embracing MLK’s dream would require putting character and achievement above subculture and skin color. But those most opposed to adjusting their value hierarchy tend to look a lot like the folks Dr. King was dreaming for. Freed from legal segregation, they cling to voluntary segregation. We’re a half-century from Little Rock, but Historically Black Colleges and Universities are given protected and revered status. It doesn’t make sense:


Scare Tactics

Halloween still offers plenty of scares—and not just doughy women who really can’t pull off their trampy costumes. But we’re not scaring the kids so much anymore. It has become a day to frighten parents:

When courts or cops set up a free x-ray station for kids' candy, they send the message that we should really be worried about foreign objects in the loot.

The Economics of Seinfeld

I think I will never tire of Seinfeld reruns. So I am delighted to discover a collection of Seinfeld clips which illustrate concepts in economics:

There are seven pages of clips. It’s hard to pick favorites, but here’s a few to give you a taste.

The Soup Nazi shows monopoly power and barriers to entry.

The Soup Nazi makes delicious soup—so good there's always a line outside his shop. He refuses service to Elaine, and by a stroke of luck she comes across his stash of soup recipes. She visits his shop and informs him that his soup monopoly is broken, while waving his recipes in his face. Also in this clip, George gets charged $2 for a roll that everyone else gets for free. This example of price discrimination shows that in order to charge different customers different prices, you must have market power.

A Matter of Character

I came across a couple of leftoid videos today. Separately, they were kind of funny. Together, it suggests there will be trouble after the election.

In the first, a parade of clichés establishes that anyone resistant to the progressive agenda is heartless or stupid:

And in the second, we see how our enlightened guardians would prefer to handle dissent:


The Root of the Crime Problem

This reflection on the crime problem in New Orleans is relevant to Minneapolis. At least some parts, anyway. And probably to a neighborhood near you.

A terrible, horrible crime occurs. The city gets up in arms. March on City Hall. Demand change. We're mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore! Editorials bray against the madness. Politicians bloviate. Time passes. Nothing changes.

When — and how — do we really change? When do we stop frantically looking for answers under the same sofa cushions we've looked under hundreds of times before? Schools. Playgrounds. Jobs.


A Brown Man in a Black Box

Cobb makes a general cultural distinction that I’ve been applying to Obama for several years:

I know my kids ain't black. And when it comes to their adulthood, they won't need to be. They're brown - like the zillions in Africa, India and South and Central America. That's a good enough sample, and it's only skin color. They can't be black like me because my blackness was born of the times, not an essential, inescapable box, but a response to a condition. But so much of who I am is locked into that alternatively golden and grim experience.

The times and conditions Cobb refers to I think are well-illustrated in the beginning pages of Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets. The author—who looks brown due to South Asian heritage—meets a gang leader in the stairwell of a Chicago housing project:


Not for Enormous Destruction — But for Enormous Pleasure

It’s 1946, the Krauts and the Nips have surrendered, and you’re out enjoying civilian life with your best gal. You stop into the arcade to play a few games. First a little pinball, and then maybe nuke a few cities:

Player view of Atomic Bomber arcade game


Attacking Ourselves Instead of Defending Each Other

Last week’s peaking hullabaloo over the Koranflagration and the Hamasque prompted Maxed Out Mama to step outside of her usual economic territory:

[B]y making, quite literally, a federal case of it, they have all conveyed the global message that rioting, burning, stabbing and any other type of barbaric Islamic behavior justify the suspension of the US Constitution when it comes to Muslims. In short, very prominent members of our executive are attempting to, de facto, suspend the constitution in such a way that it must inevitably have given the greatest surge of joy to violent Islamic factions since 9/11.

In 2003, Osama bin Laden wrote:


Michigan Cancelled Their State Fair

The failure is bigger than Detroit:

Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm canceled the fair, saying debt-ridden Michigan could no longer afford to subsidize it. Granholm's decision makes Michigan the only Midwestern state and one of few nationwide without a state fair.

The Michigan State Fair had been a state tradition for 160 years and held at Eight Mile and Woodward, within Detroit city limits, since 1905. But the fair had been running deficits and needed $360,000 from the state in 2008 to cover losses. Fewer than 220,000 people passed through last year. At its peak in 1966, the fair drew 1 million.

Who’s Side Are You On?

Cobb reflects:

The collapse of the WTC helped remind us how deeply we can suffer and still stand. Anybody that consumes drama, especially the vulgar and petty drama of our pop entertainment culture, needs a kick in the teeth every blue moon. That's what we got, and how. And when we got it, a lot of us were reminded - I know that I was - that war is always with us. War is always with us.

Over the past weeks I have been arguing that we are at war. Not the war that this date brings to mind, but between the factions in the United States. I am surprised by the resistance I found to my use of that word: “war”.


Outmaneuvering the Mussulmen

The minister planning to burn Korans tomorrow may not be the crackpot we all thought he was. Or, at least he’s a wily crackpot.

After dominating the news and chatter for the week leading up to September 11th, Reverend Jones says he’ll call off the bonfire if the Muslims move their new mosque away from the WTC site:

Jones also said he is scheduled to travel to New York on Friday night for a still unscheduled meeting with the imam in charge of the Islamic center planned near ground zero. The meeting, Jones had said, was part of what convinced him to halt the planned burning.

Jones said the meeting was promised Thursday by local Florida imam Mohammad Musri, who also told him the Islamic center would be moved in exchange for the burning being called off.


The Tea Party Feeling

One of the Chicago Boyz, with a nom de blog of Lexington Green, figured out what Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor rally was all about:

Beck is building solidarity and cultural confidence in America, its Constitution, its military heritage, its freedom. This is a vision that is despised by the people who have long held the commanding heights of the culture. But is obviously alive and kicking.

Beck is creating positive themes of unity and patriotism and freedom and independence which are above mere political or policy choices, but not irrelevant to them. Political and policy choices rest on a foundation of philosophy, culture, self-image, ideals, religion. Change the foundation, and the rest will flow from that.

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