Saturday, March 06, 2010

You place your bets, you takes your chances

What a great way to start the week:

Icelanders overwhelmingly rejected a bill that would saddle each citizen with $16,400 of debt in protest at U.K. and Dutch demands that they cover losses triggered by the failure of a private bank, first results show.

Ninety-three percent voted against the so-called Icesave bill, according to preliminary results on national broadcaster RUV. Final results may be published tomorrow morning.

The bill would have obliged the island to take on $5.3 billion, or 45 percent of last year’s economic output, in loans from the U.K. and the Netherlands to compensate the two countries for depositor losses stemming from the collapse of Landsbanki Islands hf more than a year ago.
What would you do?

Forty-five percent of your country's GDP might be:

France - 1.3 trillion USD
Germany - 1.7 trillion USD
US - 6.5 trillion USD
UK - 1.2 trillion USD
Japan - 2.2 trillion USD

Ready to cough it up because others were reckless with their finances?

Next time try throwing a Nokia at someone your own size.

Playing editor, a slight re-write is called for

This is the reality of the statists - openly hostile to humanity at large, embracing abuses of human rights, putting blind ideology before else, contemptuous of the needs of the majority, denying facts when it suits them, seeking to destroy society as we know it, and wishing to make life for most considerably worse than it is now to advance their own enrichment.

That’s why I take them on here - and the bogus economics some of them use to support their arguments.

It’s why others need to as well.

These people are a threat to the vast majority who live in the world. And we should say it out loud, time and again.

"A lot of Handwringing and Bitching”

Mongolia has a population of 3 million. There seems to be one Euro-über-lider-maximo for each of them:

The treaty came into force in December and is supposed to cure Europe's malaise by streamlining decision-taking, simplifying procedures, boosting common foreign policy, and supplying strong and coherent leadership.

It is early days, but the new regime has started not with a bang but with a whimper. Where there was to be coherence, there is confusion. Where there was to be clear leadership, there are turf wars and rival presidents.

Obama announced last week he was too busy for a slated summit with the Europeans in Madrid in May. When Mongolia's leader, Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, visited Brussels last week he was nonplussed by the plethora of "European presidents" whom protocol prescribed he must meet (there are currently four).

The US state department made plain that one reason for Obama's absence is that, under Lisbon, it was not clear with whom the Americans should be dealing.
European speculation on the matter misses on very big thing: it doesn’t matter. Since the EU can effect no real action, there is no reason to take whoever is heading the EU seriously, even if there are enough of them to field a basketball team.
The first EU summit under Van Rompuy's stewardship sees Europe slumped in a mood of unusually persistent gloom. Van Rompuy, Gordon Brown, Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and the rest are in charge of a Europe engulfed by a sense of defeatism and decline and exhausted by nine long years of trying to construct a new European regime. The reasons for the ennui are clear. According to senior officials, analysts, and diplomats in Brussels, Paris, London and Berlin, Europe suddenly seems to matter a lot less in the world. Additionally, its leaders appear unsure of how to tackle their single currency's biggest ever crisis, and are engaged in petty power struggles and point-scoring over how to use the EU's new rulebook – the Lisbon treaty.
I’ve got an idea! Maybe another dozen or so summits on some random, unchallenging subjects will give them an air of relevance!

Friday, March 05, 2010

When the going gets tough...

...the tough get going the true-believers simply change the rules of the game:

The Met Office is to stop publishing seasonal forecasts, after it came in for criticism for failing to predict extreme weather.

It was berated for not foreseeing that the UK would suffer this cold winter or the last three wet summers in its seasonal forecasts.

The forecasts, four times a year, will be replaced by monthly predictions.

The Met Office said it decided to change its forecasting approach after carrying out customer research.

Explaining its decision, the Met Office released a statement which said: "By their nature, forecasts become less accurate the further out we look."
Yet, the climate 50+ years from now is assured to be boiling. How do we know? Why, the very same experts tell us so.

That Sure is One Cozy Looking Ship Container

The belief that we can recover from the economic crisis without compromising our "European Way of Life" is quite simply a pipe dream argues, Polish columnist Marek Magierowski.
What European way of life? Oh... THAT European way of life!
For nearly six months, Florence Aubenas became: "Madame Aubenas," age 48, no specific qualifications — an unemployed woman among others, dozens of others, none of whom recognized her. Day after day, she immersed herself in the formless mass of job seekers, who drift from one underpaid temporary job to another — the legions of the non-skilled unemployed who have no hope of finding real jobs, just odd hours here and there — that is if they are lucky.

To tell the story of people going under
But going back to Marek Magierowski’s point:
A similar situation prevails in the other countries of Western Europe, especially those worst hit by the crisis like Greece, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Remedies employed by governments are systematically similar too — more state involvement in the economy, higher taxes, and the relentless iteration of a mantra to designate the "real" instigators of the crisis: greedy bankers and speculators. And be warned, any state that dares to question the entitlements of this or that social group can expect to assume the consequences of a mini-civil war, with pitched battles between stone throwing strikers and water canon wielding police.
A.K.A.: that much lauded European way of life.

Something you can be sure a population fearful of walking through the rain, and a leadership unwilling to unclench its grip are unlikely to permit.

Cornered, Michael Steele Has No Choice But to Confess

Mystery solved: After listening to the (outstanding) speech of J C Watts at CPAC's Ronald Reagan Banquet (you can find it at the CPAC website, but there is no direct link), I ran into Michael Steele (MS can also be seen, and heard, as one of the introductory speakers in the J.C. Watts speaker video, as can Bob McEwen), very briefly, but long enough to ask him if he is one of the fans in the sports video from the 1980s. That was long ago, Michael gamely replied, and he was much younger, but that was him alright.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Poll Watch

A poll:

Should UT Knoxville present Al Gore with an honorary doctoral degree?

h/t SDA

Taking a pass on reality

There was a time when the following type of 'reporting' was a cause for concern. Undoubtedly someone somewhere would read and get a grand idea to do something. Now, these types of articles just give one a case of the giggles:

STEVEN DERSE, the owner of a corporate travel business in Nashville, cannot feel his house move, but he can hear it. “It’s an eerie creaking sound,” he said, and it echoes throughout his two-story Georgian-style house.

It started two years ago when a severe drought contracted the soil beneath the foundation, which caused it to crack and sink, pulling the house down with it. The noise has continued intermittently, becoming more insistent last year when flooding pushed the already compromised foundation and house back upward.

This seesawing effect was noisy and expensive. Mr. Derse has spent more than $10,000 to install subterranean piers to stabilize his foundation, and he expects he will have to install more to prevent further cracking and crumbling. “You lose your sense of security,” he said. “You love your home and then it literally turns on you.”
Drum-roll please:

His is not the only house buffeted by shifting soil. Extreme weather possibly linked to climate change, as well as construction on less stable ground, have provoked unprecedented foundation failures in houses nationwide. Foundation repair companies report a doubling and tripling of their business in the last two decades with no let-up even during the recession.
No doubt this article will find its way into the next IPCC report as scientific 'fact'.

Guns With the Wind

So how is that new era of cooperation — talking with friends and foe alike — working for you, Mr. Apologizer-in-Chief?

Dimitri Medvedev's charm offensive to Paris seems to be paying benefits, according to Natalie Nougayrède in Le Monde, as France weighs selling weapons to Russia, notably four of its Mistral helicopter transport ships.

No wonder that Plantu shows Nicolas Sarkozy merrily tearing up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) paper as, to the consternation of Uncle Sam looking — helplessly — on, the French president sells weapons to Dimitri Medvedev and his Russian generals. And as of this writing, (very) few readers of Le Monde have intervened to express anger over the (seeming) betrayal of NATO, of Georgia, and/or of "our American friends"…

2 Graphic Novels of Interest Get Mention in World's Oldest Comics Magazine

Stripschrift, the oldest continuously-published comics newsmagazine on the planet, announces (in a Dutch article by Rik Sanders) the graphic novels authored by yours truly in tandem with the awe-inspiring artist Dan Greenberg, to wit, General Leonardo and the upcoming The Life and Times of Abraham Lincoln.

Just Scratch Beneath the Surface... Europe, and you’ll find an almost entirely racial vision of what people think right and wrong is.

« ... I’m going to get a airliner ... »
« ... I’m going to get a cartoonist ... »

Yes You Can!

One Euro:
reads the sign of a beggar sitting by a dumpster in Paris…
(Merci à Carine)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Can Europeans Make Movies Without Subisdies?

The answer, it seems, is NO. Nor can they manage that situation without turning the work into state funded ideological Punch and Judy shows.

Among other entrants, Rodek had Polanski’s The Ghost Writer in mind. As he mentions, the film was largely shot at the fabled Babelsberg studios, outside Berlin, and at other German locations. What he does not mention is the more than €3.5 million in financing that the German Film Fund (DFFF) contributed to the making of the film. The exact figure is €3,540,944. The DFFF is directly attached to the German government’s Department of Culture and Media.

The Ghost Writer also received another €500,000 in financing from the Film Board (FFA), Germany’s other federal source of public support for cinema. The FFA is funded by a “fee” leveled on the ticket sales of German cinemas.

And that is not all. The Ghost Writer also received yet another €500,000 in public support from the joint “Media-Board” of the German states of Berlin and Brandenburg (source: Studio Babelsberg). Plus €200,000 from the Film Fund of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein. Plus another €200,000 from the modest Film Fund of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the poorest of Germany’s sixteen states. That makes for nearly €5 million in German public support in all — or nearly $7 million at current exchange rates. Plus, in January of this year the Media-Board Berlin-Brandenburg kicked in another €80,000 in subsidies to aid in the distribution of the film
So if all of these things are “blockbusters”, and if not, lauded otherwise as the most touching, intelligent, thoughtful things in the world, why do they need to be subsidized by half a dozen government funded bureaus, committees, and whatnots?

Knowing that their investment has to pay off, do you hear anyone calling any of the films funded this way the stinkers that most of them really are?

Nope. Never. Their poop don’t never stink, and it’s the rest of the world that’s artless and incapable. If there’s any doubt, you’ll be sure to get a lecture of comparisons using selected examples from the US, but never Egypt, India, or Brazil. The approach is, as always to compare what they deem to be their high culture to what they deem to be others’ low culture.

To take the that argument to other spheres of creative practice would require one to say that Rock may not be played publicly without being degenerated so long as symphonies exist, even if they are badly done.

Andrew O'Hehir writes in Salon:
Like most of Polanski's recent work, this is both a genre film and a literary adaptation, but it's infused with his distinctively bleak vision of social and sexual relationships. Furthermore, I can't resist noting that "The Ghost Writer" is partly about a man forced into foreign exile by his legal problems, a man who just happens to be a famous and charismatic international playboy with a buried secret in his 1970s past.
So it’s no surprise that 1/9th of the film’s development cost needed to come largely from the German taxpayer: it’s all about Polanski tweeting me-me-me-me-me, and it comes with a “you’ll eat it, and you’ll like it” air about its inception.

After all, wouldn’t the popularity of using Tony Blair as a pin-cushion be enough to pack ‘em into the house? Why leave such an important crypto-political message to chance, right? Otherwise where else could one spend €45,000,000 on what amounts to overdone TV production values:
Instead, Polanski crafts something like a devious four-hand chamber play, set largely inside the forbidding, modernist beach house -- the movie was mainly shot on a Berlin soundstage, using green screens for exterior backdrops -- and featuring McGregor as the dewy-eyed outsider who wanders unawares into a nest of vipers. Besides the vague but affable Lang, the denizens include his long-suffering wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), who becomes the ghostwriter's confidante while nursing her own secrets, and Lang's coolly efficient assistant (Kim Cattrall), who may also be his lover.
I’m going to guess that Kim Cattrall and Tom Wilkinson didn’t break the budget, and that yet another shallow, forbidding, sun-lit modern Euro villa isn’t going to impress anyone who doesn’t already realize that the cold and distant feeling it gives you rather predictably is not a reflection of the characters in it, but of the empty creatures behind the film who think that they can force the public to pay for what they would like to think both popular and populist producing the film.

Were that really the case, NO board money would be required, unless there is some freak out there that get a lift out of seeing 6 or 7 “in cooperation with...” plates before the picture starts rolling.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Fighting over who can Politicize an Inevitable Failure

Even while bad data and mythical over-dramatizations of Global Warming are being debunked, EU committees dueling with EU committees are engaging in Machiavellian negotiations over who can take the point and the next globetrotter junket.

The meeting of foreign ministers, gathered in Monday in the guise of the EU's ‘General Affairs Council' (referred to in Brussels circles as the ‘Gac'), supported a Spanish EU presidency proposal that the Gac take on the role of a sort of ‘executive committee' of the EU's climate strategy, co-ordinating the climate change actions of each of the various other Council of Ministers formations.
The go on to list a list of lists, and so forth and such like, and ignore the various ministries appointed for the exact same purpose not only at the Supra-national level, but in the member states.
A work plan of actions to be executed by the different councils was agreed. The next council of environment ministers would perform three tasks: implement the Copenhagen Accord - the climate document crafted in Denmark but outside the UN process and the subject of much suspicion in the developing world; investigate ways to boost the negotiating process; and identify ways to achieve leverage against countries whose opinions differed to those of the EU.
My how roguish! How very cavalier! Going it alone? Thumbing your noses at humanirty?
Mr Moratinos told reporters after the Gac meeting: "What was missing [at Copenhagen] was a strategy of alliances to advance the goals of the EU."
Which is to say: they were unable to coopt (for once) other nation states into partaking in a strangulating, impoverishing process which they could place themselves in the center of to make themselves look generous.

But fear not, weary, hen-pecked world. Relief is on the way, and it comes in the form of European on European bickering over who can stand where in the press release photo.
In the wake of the Copenhagen debacle, European commentators, officials and politicians widely agreed that the bloc should speak with one voice on climate issues in the future. But whether this one voice is that of the European Commission or the European Council has yet to be settled.
And with that, we might find some peace and quiet from their ravings over the megalomaniacal vision they have of ‘global governance’, so long as they are the colonial governors of the plantation and others’ resources can be spent in their hero-making.

Global Warming Cultists

Don't look for this to be the lead in the Guardian and/or New York Times:

A seven-month-old baby girl survived three days alone with a bullet in her chest beside the bodies of her parents and toddler brother.

Argentines Francisco Lotero, 56, and Miriam Coletti, 23, shot their children before killing themselves after making an apparent suicide pact over fears about global warming.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Glorious Day!

What makes today such a great and wonderful day in the history of humankind:

The elimination of poverty? No...

Unemployment rates being slashed? No...

Diseases eradicated? No...

Individuals allowed to keep more of their own hard-earned money via less taxation? Let's not be ridiculous...

No, what makes today quite possibly one of the best days of your life is:

From today, people running Microsoft's Windows operating system will be presented with a screen asking them to choose which web browser they would like to use. Computer users will be able to choose between 12 different browsers, ranging from well-known browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Opera, to some more obscure software, such as K-meleon and Sleipnir.

Microsoft was forced to introduce the browser "ballot box" following a ruling by the European Commission that Microsoft's practice of pre-installing Internet Explorer on every new computer was anti-competitive. The Commission accepted Microsoft’s offer of rolling out the ballot box across its range of Windows machines, which it believes will make it easier for computer users to choose an alternative browser to Internet Explorer.
Hundreds of millions of (taxpayer) euros and thousands of hours of lost productivity all so the citizenry can be free from want, free from disease, free to chart their own path in life, free from the possibility of Bing being their default search engine.


Thoroughly Integrated in their Values

A discussion forum at the Granf Mosque of Lyons, one of those things that Casper loves so much, had as the basis of discussion the future Muslim led Shoah. Following is a partial translation of a report by French blog Bivouac-id.

Disturbing. It was under a banner proclaiming the "Peace and love between peoples", as peaceful Muslims of Lyons discussed on the website forum of the Grand Mosque of Lyon how the Jews will be exterminated by Muslims.

Abdel Hamid is the assumed name of "Global Moderator" of the forum that initiated a discussion entitled "The Jews know. He suspects "the Jews" to be planting avocado trees in an attempt to escape their fateful destiny of being slaughtered to the last Jew by Muslims.

In fact he learned that "when Muslims and Jews go to war, there will be no weapons, but rather everything is again as it was before in the time of the prophet, with swords, and the like.
He adds that the prophet said in a hadith: when this war is waged, stones and trees will say to Muslims: There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him! ".
Abdel Hamid believes that this tree should be the avocado, which explains that the Jews are planting millions he said.

Um talha, an "active member" replied saying that all of this is true, that the Jews know, but the tree that denounces Jews to Muslims is not avocado, but the "al-Gharqad "and gives the reference: a hadith related by Imam Ahmad that he certifiesto be "authentic ".
Others still sound like they could have fit right into the circus outside the Bella center in Copenhagen this past winter:
At that point a non-registered guest chimes in to this nut house, saying that he looks forward to the end of the world and the disappearance of all the technology invented by infidels. He prefers the time as the time of the prophet, "you had nothing but your camel". He then imagines that a computer failure will paralyze the world, and will end the reign of technology. Or perhaps the end of oil .... Then he wisely concluded that if Muslim engange in the genocide of Jews for religious reasons, that we must not hate them.
And don’t think for a moment that this is an arcane little meeting of old men set in their ways.
On this internet forum hosted by the Great Mosque of Lyon there are 1870 related messages since the thread started, which is relatively small and given the low attendance it looks completely controllable. [ed.: writing sarcastically] This discussion dates to July and August 2008, and is still online. Since the leaders of the mosque do not seem shocked by it, I turn therefore to the leaders of this country: Is this acceptable, given the tone of their sacred texts inciting believers to kill not just Jews, but also Christians, polytheists, and atheists as well? Is it wise to continue to permit the immigration of Muslims into the country?
One wonders if more than one or two people would notice if anyone from any other faction of their society left a bulletin board thread imploring mass murder. I somewhat doubt it, even those who would be otherwise dismissed as being wrapped up in youthful Anarchy fantasies like neo-fascists and the extreme-left (palliatively and euphemistically called la gauche de la gauche in the media) would be intervened upon.

But not this crowd.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It’s Rapidly Becoming the Earth’s Colostomy Bag

Like with undecipherable proclamations on the economy, one wonders why they make these announcements at all when you know it isn’t supposed to reveal anything, and only REDUCE confidence.

The same goes for propaganda er communication by transnational super-government:

Communicating Europe begins at home, says Reding

The EU's commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, Viviane Reding, reassured her staff that the European Commission will remain in the driving seat in communicating Europe but not without citizens, sources told EurActiv after an in-house presentation
In-house communication, among select citizens, of course, being the “public”, which unlike the target of the effort doesn’t need to be communicated to. Yet, reading through it, one can only get more confused as to just what it is that the subject of the communication is about, (which if it to start first ‘at home’ makes you wonder what the rest of the world will be subjected to.)
In a letter sent to director-generals responsible for employment and social affairs, justice and communication, seen by EurActiv, Reding asked the bosses to think of 10 concrete new legislative measures and/or concrete policies to improve citizens' awareness of their rights in a tangible way.
See? Listening to the people begins with the bosses! So I guess it’s death to the bosses!, and long live the bosses!, if one can make any sense of that one.

It is about communicating to the voting European public what their role is as citizens, and what community laws they should activate. Today Europe, tomorrow the world, I suppose... that is, if they take the verbal bullying to be that effective as to be able to encompass Asia minor, South America, and the like.
It is a tough but inevitable call, and might be the only way to increase the time that national media devote to European politics, which is currently outpaced by US politics, one expert said.
Possibly because it seems a lot less like Kabuki theater, and when the polity speak, unctuous as most of it is, they’re actually saying something concrete, not just shoveling out fantastical outlines of things they will never do to make themselves sound generous, or engage in vapid non-communication about not bailing out train-wreck governments when they really are.

The reason US politics seems more interesting to Europeans than European politics itself is because it does seem genuinely responsive, and not the knock-knock joke of predictable reactions between union leader cronies and NGO cornies.

But don’t worry, managing the script and feather-bedding aren’t the ONLY thing on their minds. They’re worried that they can’t featherbed or might lose control of the script.
After Commission President José Manuel Barroso decided to regroup communication with citizenship and considering the greater institutional overhaul sparked by the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, staffers felt increasingly nervous about the fate of the communication department.

In her first internal speech, Reding dissipated doubts and bolstered spirits when she said on Friday that communication will remain a strategic priority for every department of the EU executive.
It has that sentimental air of times past, I’m sure:
But as well educated as we are, a very significant part of our population is still uncertain and awkward politically. One might think that as a nation of poets and philosophers, artists and inventors, we would also take the political lead among the nations that we undoubtedly hold culturally. That unfortunately has not been true up until now. Very many Germans even today lack reliable political instincts. Their political will and sense of direction is inadequate. We have to admit this, whether we like it or not. We cannot go into the reasons for this situation here, but can mention a few key points. Germany's earlier fragmentation into small states was a fatal blow to any unified political course, for German popular nationalism, and for all political training in the direction of a single goal,
Singers and poets all, alas – but united in a new purpose by communication of what the people’s will should be by an enabling entity, as if they could not manage this feat of communicating to their government and elected representatives on their own. Therefore what is to be communicated should first be communicated TO them in the form of what has to appear to be a ‘listening tour’.

What crap. They might not know how to write their MEP in large numbers yet on the strength of their own individual opinions, but they should be able to figure that much out on their own. After all, they know how to strike and riot on queue, they should be able to dial a telephone on their own steam without coaching.

Weekend praise

Yes Mr. Bumble, sometimes the law is indeed an ass:

A former pub landlord yesterday became the first person to be jailed in connection with the smoking ban.

Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed for flouting the legislation.

Two years ago Hogan, who ran two pubs in Bolton, became the first landlord convicted of breaking the law for allowing his customers to routinely light up in his bars.

h/t England Expects

A post submitted for peer-review

As the world staggers from Vincent Huang's inspired diorama of penguins and polar bears commiting suicide to protest global warming climate change:

We learn that our amis blancs may owe their very existence to global warming climate change:

Polar bears may have come into existence only 150,000 years ago, when brown bears were trapped by an ice age and had to adapt quickly to survive, scientists have found.

The suggestion follows the discovery of the jawbone of an animal that died up to 130,000 years ago, making it the oldest polar bear fossil found. The bone has yielded new insights into the origins of Earth’s largest land predator.

One is the possibility that polar bears owe their existence not only to past climate change, including ice ages, but have also survived at least one long period of global warming.
This being the result of that version of global warming climate change which cannot be pinned upon humankind and thus is a good and natural thing. Unlike the current version of global warming climate change which also cannot be pinned upon humankind and is yet a bad thing.