31 October 2005

Halloween Chiller

Given the abundance of Iranian taxicab drivers in New York City, when I read the following story I was shaken by the feeling it presages the tragic fate awaiting poor Maureen Dowd if she doesn’t come to her senses in the next few years:
Tehran, Iran -- A 52-year-old Iranian has been sentenced to death for killing his 70-year-old lover when she asked to marry him, a newspaper reported Monday.

A court report in the Etemad daily said a taxi driver, identified only as Hamidreza, became furious when his elderly lover Setareh proposed marriage.

"I went to her house and she said she had deep feelings for me and suggested we get married," he told the court.

Hamidreza explained he already had a wife and children. "She then got frustrated and slapped me," he said.

The man knocked her unconscious and suffocated her with bed-sheets before making off with her jewelry.

23 October 2005

I already cast my ballot absentee

I’ve finally discovered a politician I can enthusiastically support. His name is David Irons, he's running for King County Executor, and while I have no idea (or care, really) what he believes, I greatly admire the fact he once knocked down his mother (from what I’ve heard she had it coming, not that it matters). If there’s one thing we need right now in politics it’s a man who refuses to let anyone block his way, especially bossy old ladies. I hope all those eligible to do so join me in voting for David Irons.

Weaponized parrots

A parrot in the UK has died from the lethal H5N1 strain of bird flu. It occurs to me a cunning plot for the Al-Qaedians would be to intentionally infect birds with deadly bird flu, then ship them (or convince the birds to fly on their own) to Western countries to spread disease. I wonder if anyone who knew this parrot ever heard it say “Allah Akhbar” or “Death to the infidels” or anything similar that might be suggestive of a link to Mohammedan terrorism?

19 October 2005

Breeders' Cup October 29

Posting will be sparse (if not non-existent) until after The Breeders' Cup, the biggest day in horse racing.

Three cocktails inspired by the sport of kings:

Whirlaway, named in honor of the 1941 Triple Crown winner (or was it the other way around?).

Turf Cocktail.

Suburban, an excellent drink, this obscure and unusual cocktail was named after The Suburban Handicap.

11 October 2005

The Cashmere Giants

James Ricalton and the Cashmere Giants


The Cashmere Giants with dwarves.

The Cashmere Giants and friends in the Durbar Amphitheatre.

The eruption of total music

There was no music and there were no flashing lights or flickering screens in the pub, just a few people gathered around small tables, chatting and having a quiet drink. Only an occasional burst of laughter rose above the sociable murmur. I cursed the electricity that produces so many little hells of electronic stimulation, until I recalled that I like my drinks cooled.

No music! That its absence should strike me so forcefully, rather as the heat when you step off an air-conditioned aircraft into a tropical country, demonstrates how insidiously pervasive it has become in our urban environment. It is like a poisonous gas that a malign authority pumps into our atmosphere, whose doleful effect, and probably purpose, is to destroy our capacity to converse, to concentrate, to reflect. It agitates us, keeps us constantly on the move, makes us impulsive and lacking in judgement.
- Theodore Dalrymple, on why the Baroque is superior to Rock.

Like Dr. Dalrymple, I too despise the omnipresence of music and think it malign, though not to the extent that Reger, a character in Thomas Bernhard’s great novel Old Masters, does:
Our age has witnessed the eruption of total music, anywhere between the North Pole and the South Pole you are forced to hear music, in the city or out in the country, on the high seas or in the desert, Reger said. People have been stuffed full of music every day for so long that they have long lost all feeling for music...People today, because they have nothing else left, suffer from a pathological music consumption, Reger said, this music consumption will be driven forward by the industry, which controls people today, to a point where everybody is destroyed; there is a lot of talk nowadays about waste and chemicals which have destroyed everything, but music destroys a lot more than waste and chemicals do, it is music that eventually will destroy absolutely everything totally, mark my words. The first thing to be destroyed by the music industry are people's auditory canals and next, as a logical consequence, the people themselves...I can already see people totally destroyed by the music industry, Reger said, those masses of music-industry victims eventually populating the continents with their musical cadaverous stench...The music industry will one day have the population on its conscience....not just chemicals and waste, believe me. The music industry is the murderer of human beings, the music industry is the real mass murderer of humanity which, if the music industry continues on its present lines, will have no hope whatever within a few decades.

10 October 2005

Today we celebrate Christopher Columbus

"Steered west-southwest; and encountered a heavier sea than they had met with before in the whole voyage. Saw pardelas and a green rush near the vessel. The crew of the Pinta saw a cane and a log; they also picked up a stick which appeared to have been carved with an iron tool, a piece of cane, a plant which grows on land, and a board. The crew of the Nina saw other signs of land, and a stalk loaded with rose berries. These signs encouraged them, and they all grew cheerful. Sailed this day till sunset, twenty-seven leagues." - the journal of Columbus in his voyage of 1492.
It’s become unfashionable to celebrate Columbus Day. The campaigners against Columbus Day hate Columbus because they hate Western Civilization in general, but they also despise him for a more specific reason: Columbus risked life and fortune to sail across uncharted waters and discover The New World. The achievement of greatness through daring and adventurousness is intolerable to the various mediocrities (race activists, phony academics, diversity consultants, etc.) that malign Columbus, as it reminds them they are parasitic worms.

07 October 2005

Phthalates phfalse phalarm?

Is there really a taint shrinkage crisis caused by phthalates? Trevor Butterworth of STATS has written to reassure us there isn’t, and provides a link to an article on the STATS website:
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal launched a carefully-crafted attack on phthalates, a family of colorless oil-like substances that prolong the scent of perfume, make nail polish flexible, and prevent children’s toys from cracking under the pressure of being chewed among other uses. This follows on an activist-driven campaign over the past year to have the chemicals banned in the U.S (see STATS earlier article “A Health Care that Stinks” for more background).

Without directly endorsing the studies claiming a link between phthalates and male genital deformation, the WSJ suggested that we should be nervous: Phthalates are everywhere, and male infertility is on the rise. Stop the production and distribution of materials using phthalates, so goes the reasoning.

Only there’s a problem: the studies cited in the article are far less conclusive than the paper suggests. The WSJ cites two human studies that conclude there is a link, describing their experiments in detail. But it buries the mention of two studies that failed to find a link among comments doubting their validity, and, at the same time, avoids spending any time describing the studies’ methodologies. The result is a skewed picture of a controversial topic that guides the public towards the belief that most of the evidence points toward a causal relationship, namely, that phthalates are a threat to male reproductive health.
Well, that’s a relief. Or is it? That very article concedes, "the boys had a smaller anogenital index, which is a measure of the distance from the anus to the scrotum, adjusted for weight," but claims (rather astonishingly) this doesn’t matter as "The baby boys were not “demasculinized” in any way".

I suspect the author of that article, Rebecca Goldin, being a woman does not understand that to have a tiny taint is in and of itself demasuculinizing. And while I’m sure some women are indifferent (Rebecca Goldin obviously among them) to a man’s taint, for many women size does matter, and a small percentage of women can only be satisfied by men with enormous taints.

So the while there may not be a full blown taint crisis, there is still much to be concerned about, and still many unanswered questions. I am, however, less alarmed now than I was, thanks to the nice people at STATS.

04 October 2005

Phthalates and AGD

I usually don’t get alarmed about the dangers of toxic chemicals in the environment. The risks are all too often exaggerated, and inadvertently ingesting a little arsenic in a glass of water or accidentally breathing in a few particles of benzene from the air can hardly compare to the amount of toxins I get from all the cigarettes and alcohol I ingest on purpose. But I have become alarmed about phthalates.

Phthalates are industrial chemicals found in all sorts of ordinary household products - adhesives, cosmetics, some types of wallpaper and flooring, many kinds of furniture, even toys. Scientists have discovered that boys whose mothers were exposed to high levels of phthalates while pregnant are likely to be born with shrunken taints.

I truly wish I were joking about this, but the link between shrunken taints and phthalates appears all too real.1

Why is no one speaking out about this? Must there be the tragedy of an entire generation of men born with tiny taints before something is done? Won’t someone think of the taints?

1 The scientific term for shrunken taint is "reduced anogenital distance", or AGD.

The fantastic landscapes of Charles Ephraim Burchfield

Orion in December

"My instinct has always been to shut off all means of self-expression except the brush, so that its product might be all the more intense." - Charles Ephraim Burchfield.

More paintings here and here.

02 October 2005

Hell for those at the receiving end

I often wonder if the city of Seattle could be any more boring. It turns out the answer is yes:
Seattle Considers Lap Dance Ban

...the City Council is planning to vote Monday on some of the strictest adult-entertainment regulations of any big city in the country.

No lap dances. No placing dollar bills in a dancer's G-string...

Under these rules, dancers would have to stay 4 feet away from customers, private rooms would be barred, customers couldn't give money directly to entertainers, and the minimum lighting would be increased - think parking-garage brightness.
If Jesus can have his feet washed by a whore, why is it wrong for an ordinary man to have his lap danced upon by a stripper? Obviously it isn’t.

Sadly, arguments based on the Scriptures carry no weight with the God-hating Leftist types that run Seattle. That these regulations will force many girls, most of whom are capable of little else, into ‘other work’, is of no concern to these people. The zealots of the Seattle City Council surely know what this ‘other work’ will be, and do not care, for they consider themselves superior to the dancers, and therefore have no pity for them. In this they are much like Simon the Pharisee.

I'm reminded of the something Auberon Waugh once said:

"The problem with democracy is that it is not democracy at all but a zealotocracy or rule by enthusiasts. This is a polite way of saying that as many bossy people as possible get a chance to throw their weight around. It may be lovely for bossy people who like deciding how the rest of us should live, but it is hell for those at the receiving end."