31 January 2006

Old G's

It’s no secret that the costs of aging populations pose an ever increasing threat to the economies of developed countries.1 Now news from Japan suggests that the threat to civilization posed by oldies may be greater than mere economics:
TOKYO (Reuters) - Crimes committed by elderly people in Japan have risen sharply in the past 15 years, a trend that has officials worried as the population ages rapidly due to longer lifespans and a falling birth rate.

Police data shows that people aged 65 and older accounted for more than 10 percent of those arrested or taken into custody for crimes other than traffic violations in Japan in 2005, compared with just 2.2 percent in 1990, the Asahi newspaper said on Monday, citing National Police Agency data.

Theft topped the list of crimes committed by the elderly in 2005, while 141 elderly people were arrested for murder -- more than three times the number in 1990, the newspaper said.

Nearly one-third of the victims of crimes committed by the elderly in 2005 were spouses, it added.

Agency officials would not confirm the report, which also said the Justice Ministry was seeking funds to research the problem.

In March, an 81-year-old man arrested on suspicion of strangling his 73-year-old wife said he had killed her after a quarrel over food she had prepared, Asahi said.
If this can happen in polite and well behaved Japan (a place with so little crime it’s astonishing, really) imagine the consequences of this trend taking hold in the United States where oldies are more belligerent and criminal to begin with.

I have a dark vision of the future...the economy in shambles from Social Security and medical care costs. Criminal oldies arriving on those motorized scooters and descending in packs on the outnumbered young store clerks…looting canned goods and packs of those dry, brown cookies no one under the age of 60 eats...grabbing bottles of fiber laxative of the shelves with both wrinkly hands and stuffing them into the ample pockets of their velour sweat pants...hitting with canes, and if someone hits them back lying down in the middle of the aisle and refusing to move while making that awful sound oldies do when in distress...a dark vision indeed.

1In my more amusing past I’ve proposed some innovative solutions to this impending crisis, such as putting the oldies in lava tubes, storing them at the bottoms of ravines, even luring them onto cruise ships then casting them adrift. All of my proposals have been met with indifference, if not condemnation.

Two recent items on smoking

Theodore Dalrymple: HOW THE LIKELY TOTAL BAN ON SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES SHOWS WHAT WE HAVE BECOME - A NATION OF INTOLERANT MONOMANIACS

The Ambler: GREAT MOMENTS IN CINEMATIC SMOKING

Scent of a woman

I’ve been claiming for years that sometimes I’m able to detect a woman will be receptive to my sexual advances based on her smell. Now science has finally caught up to my nose:

The man's nose knows when a woman is fertile, scientists say

"Men who nose around their partners may detect a special odour emanating from under women's arms during the fertile period of their monthly cycle, Czech scientists report.

A woman's 'most attractive' and 'least intense' armpit odour is emitted during fertility, according to a research team led by anthropologist Jan Havlicek of Prague's Charles University."

Recall that:

"Women are significantly more likely to have sex during the fertile part of their monthly cycle, suggests new research."

Smell ya later.

29 January 2006

Monsters mostly Malaysian

The government of the Malaysian state of Johor is attempting to track down the legendary Bigfoot-like animals reputed to stomp about the jungles there (when was the last time your lousy government did something as nice for you?).

Eyewitnesses describe the creatures as being tall, hairy, ape-like bipeds with huge feet. Locals call them Hantu Jarang Gigi. Why locals do this is a mystery in itself, for Hantu Jarang Gigi means “ghosts with widely spaced teeth”.

The chief minister of Johor, Abdul Ghani Othman (remember that name Nobel Prize Committee!) says the expedition will be a “proper scientific” one, that will be careful “not harm or frighten the creatures”. Hopefully expeditions allowed to frighten and harm the beasts will come later.

Sasquatches with dental problems are not the only unusual creatures infesting Malaysia these days. In the resort area of Tuaran a crustacean scientists have been unable to identify, possibly a new species, has been found:

"Characteristic of crayfish is its joined head with the thorax (mid-section) and a segmented body, four pairs of legs and a pair of pincers. This creature has all those general features"



These disturbing creatures are able to scuttle in all directions, including (and unlike crabs) backwards. Worse:

"...there is something very unusual about the pincers - they are not equally curved claws as in most cases.

Rather, the lower claw is short while the upper claw shapes like a sharp blade three times longer"

In contrast to the gentle Malaysian bigfoot, these fiends menace innocent people. As Christopher Chan, who captured the specimen, described his encounter “it lunged forward and snapped its claws with a very audible "dik" like two metal claws hitting each other”. Local villagers, who claim to know of the animals, and call them Bankala (I’m afraid to ask what Bankala means, probably something to do with gum disease) similarly say “their claws are so sharp and attack so much, we don't catch them”. The villagers also claim “They bore deep into the earth in the mangrove and nipah forest floor and won't come out unless their holes are covered by big floods.”

I wonder if seismic activity might not also force the demonic crawdads up from their deep underground homes to the Earth’s surface as well. I suspect this because of past examples of unusual and mysterious crustaceans appearing in areas prone to earthquakes, most famously the giant crab, dubbed 'Crazy Crab' by the media for his erratic behaviour, which terrorized San Francisco during the summer of 1984 before vanishing never to be seen again.

Crazy Crab on the loose.

The mysterious giant crab hiding in warehouse. The creature was gone by the time police arrived.

26 January 2006

Art History

Did human beings have differently shaped skulls, and thus smaller brains, a mere 650 years ago?1 According to new research by a British orthodontist the answer is yes:
“The two principal differences discovered were that our ancestors had more prominent features, but their cranial vault - the distance measured from the eyes to the top of the skull - was smaller. Dr Peter Rock, lead author of the study and director of orthodontistry at Birmingham University, told the BBC News website: "The astonishing finding is the increased cranial vault heights.

"The increase is very considerable. For example, the vault height of the plague skulls were 80mm, and the modern ones were 95mm - that's in the order of 20% bigger, which is really rather a lot."

He suggests that the increase in size may be due to an increase in mental capacity over the ages.”
I did some research of my own, and found that there are many pictures from around slightly after the era discussed illustrating exactly such differently shaped heads with “more prominent features” but smaller length of “cranial vault”:
It also seems humans in the medieval ages came in a wider variety of heights than they do now, as seen in this painting depicting a giantess and her five foot tall infant:

And, according to this 14th Century church painting, in some parts of England human beings still lived in trees:

The past, as they say, is another country. A country filled with slope-head tree dwellers and enormous babies.

1See Steve Sailer: Are our frontal lobes bigger than in late Medieval times?

Liberty, drollery, reality

Over at Reason’s Hit and Run I injected the following bit of drollery into a libertarianoid fantasia on the theme of marriage:

"Forbidding polygyny is inconsistent with libertarianism. But libertarianism is incompatible with polygyny. It’s quite a conundrum, but after giving it much thought libertarians have devised a solution to the paradox: legalizing pot."

(And now I seem to be blocked from posting further comments. But that may only be a technical difficulty.)

25 January 2006

Tell me who is to blame the wind or the lady. More masterful prose and intelligent insights from the Tide Online

A poetic interlude in a controversial essay:
Here is an incident I witnessed. I was walking down a street in Lagos one day where out of nowhere came this tall, fair lady in micro mini grey small body-hugging top and knee- length boots ally blew my mind, I tell you. Suddenly, it started to drizzle and the wind began to howl, picking everything that stood in its way (this was going to be one of those dark, wet days). Suddenly, up went the lady’s skirt, exposing everything that was marked “private”.

You could actually touch the screams and jeers that followed this scene. Tell me who is to blame the wind or the lady. As ladies, you can dress up responsibly and still be highly fashionable. (Why some ladies are raped)
You know, as they say:
Husband snatchers are still in the business of snatching husbands...

...The situation was so serious, it looked like getting out of hand, you know, as they say, “when hand-shake don reach elbow, e don pass be careful.” (Woman snatches church member’s husband)
If only our own leaders were as sensible:
Traditional rulers in Yobe have resolved to register strangers and nomads in their domain to ensure the security of life and property. The royal fathers said the new policy was to check the menace of bandits who, they claimed, were mainly immigrants and strangers. (Monarchs plan to register strangers in Yobe)

22 January 2006

Nude yogurt happening

It’s not just America where freedom is on the wane: The Supreme Court of South Korea has upheld the conviction of a businessman who staged a “nude yogurt happening” at a Seoul art gallery in which three nude models covered themselves in flour and then “squirted each other with yogurt to reveal their bare bodies”. For this ‘crime’ the businessman was fined $5,000. While each day seems to bring news of yet another jurisdiction where squirting yogurt on the writhing, naked bodies of nubile Korean girls is illegal, eating the disgusting stuff continues to be encouraged by the medical establishment nearly everywhere. What misguided and pathetic times we live in.

Fellow travelers and useful idiots

Who said it: George Bush, the Democrats, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, or the Communist Party USA?

“[Whereas] restrictive, discriminatory, and punitive laws and practices are designed to make migrant labor more vulnerable…

[We call for]:

The rapid legalization, without discrimination or onerous conditions, of all undocumented workers and their relatives living in the United States.

The creation of mechanisms whereby immigrant workers in the future can come to the United States legally and safely with full rights.

An end to discrimination against immigrants with or without papers in the issuance of drivers licenses, and no restriction on the right of immigrants to use consular
ID cards or other country-of-origin IDs to open bank and credit accounts or to deal with government agencies.

All workers and their family members, with or without documents, to have full access to all public services paid for by their taxes and labor, including Social Security and Medicare and affordable higher education.”
Source: The CPUSA
“We must punish employers who recruit undocumented workers in order to exploit them. We reject calls for guest worker programs that lead to exploitation. We should have equitable asylum policies that treat people the same whether they have fled violence from the Right and Left. We support restoration of basic due process protections, so that immigrants are no longer subject to deportation for minor offenses and are eligible to receive safety net services supported by their tax dollars.”

“We will extend the promise of citizenship to those still struggling for freedom. Today's immigration laws do not reflect our values or serve our security, and we will work for real reform.”

“Undocumented immigrants within our borders who clear a background check, work hard and pay taxes should have a path to earn full participation in America. We will hasten family reunification for parents and children, husbands and wives”
Source: Democratic Party Platform
“denying drivers licenses to illegal aliens won't result in fewer immigrants. It will result in more immigrants driving illegally and without insurance.”

“the solution to the problem of illegal immigration is to make it legal, or at least to normalize the movement of people. A program of temporary work visas would allow Mexicans to go home; the incentive for undocumented aliens now is to stay rather than face the border barrier a second time.”

“Laws and regulations can generally be made more generous. The 1996 Border Patrol expansion is a dubious expense, expanding a cops-and-robbers game that sometimes turns deadly.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal (1, 2)
“laws should allow willing workers to enter our country and fill jobs”

“We must make our immigration laws more rational, and more humane”

"This program will offer legal status...to the millions of undocumented men and women now employed in the United States, and to those in foreign countries who seek to participate in the program"

"workers will be able to establish their identities by obtaining the legal documents we all take for granted. And they will be able to talk openly to authorities, to report crimes when they are harmed, without the fear of being deported"

“All participants will be issued a temporary worker card that will allow them to travel back and forth between their home and the United States without fear of being denied re-entry into our country"
Source: George Bush

21 January 2006

Evolution or bumble?

Our friends at The American Prospect, normally acutely sensitive when it comes to racial matters, recently published an article praising the author of this essay. Have the TAPunists views on race evolved (to borrow one of their own terms), or was it a bumble?

Life imitates Vile Bodies - in Estonia.

Sad news from the UK, the stupid whale which swam up the Thames in hopes of seeing the Queen has died. Oh well. De balena vero sufficit, si rex habeat caput, et regina caudam.

In sadder news from the UK, scientists there found cell phones do not cause brain cancer.

In other science news, biologists discovered 27 new species of repulsive and uninteresting creatures living in caves beneath Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, “some of them, to a single room in one cave.” In an attempt at one-upmanship American scientist Stuart Poss claims to have discovered a new species of fish that lives in a single bottle in Grahamstown, South Africa.

Cryptozoologists discovered a sculpture of the elusive beast natives called the Emela-ntouka. Native inhabitants of the Likoula swamp say the silly looking monster kills elephants by goring them with its rhinoceros-like horn, but so far cryptozoologists have been unable to locate any sculptures to verify this.

Speaking of African discoveries, it's not too late to read A memoir of 2005, found in the wonderful Nigerian newspaper The Tide:
Last year did not go down in history as one of President Olusegun Obasanjo’s best, considering the monumental loss of lives it witnessed. The two air crashes toward the end of the year brought so much grief to Nigerians. The one at Ogun incinerated all the passengers on board, thereby making the crash site the final nesting place of the victims. The Bellview airliner was said to be rickety...

...The ferocious looking soldiers deployed to Yenagoa searched innocent, law abiding citizens to their undies in the bid to discover the notorious Egbesu charms, which they never found. That should never have been.

09 January 2006

This may sound incredible, but it happened

My God, just what is going on in Nigeria? According to Nigeria’s finest newspaper The Tide (motto: “A commitiment to truth”), a middle aged woman working as a street sweeper in the city of Port Harcourt was killed when a “strange cow suddenly emerged from no where and strangled the woman to death.” Then, “after the cow had accomplished the havoc, it mysteriously disappeared the way it came since no one could trace it after thoroughly searching the area.”

I’m not sure what this incident portends, but I plan on avoiding Nigeria as long as this murderous cow with ninja skills is roaming free. I also think I'll have a hamburger for lunch.

Base football player

Seattle Seahawks President Tim Ruskell is an interesting guy. His first job in the NFL was ballboy, he once worked as a DJ, now it is likely he will be named NFL Executive of the Year. At one time he was a visiting team’s locker-room manager for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During this time, according to Ruskell:
“We were playing Buffalo, and O.J. Simpson comes walking in about five hours before the game,” Ruskell said. “He befriends us. He’s talking to us and he’s practicing something for NBC. He’s going to be Othello.

“So he asks us, my guys and us, if we could read some parts. He had all these little scripts because he’s practicing his lines. We’re a bunch of idiots, don’t know what the hell we’re doing, and he is doing his lines.

“It was quick and then it was over. Didn’t think anything of it. But as I look back, doing Shakespeare with O.J. … that was a bizarre one.”
I can’t find a listing of O.J. playing Othello. Is Ruskell’s memory wrong? Not necessarily. O.J. may have been cast in the role but the play may never have been performed (or else never televised) for some reason. Or is Ruskell being funny on purpose?

08 January 2006

About a newspaper read on Saturday

In the Jan. 7 Wall Street Journal is a letter from Kenneth S. Hoyt of Tampa, FL. Mr Hoyt claims to oppose illegal immigration, but opposes building a security fence on the US-Mexico border. He writes:
“Ronald Reagan demanded freedom for East Berlin when he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Could you imagine someday those words being hurled against America, land of liberty?”
Well, no - because a wall built by the United States to keep Mexicans out of the United States is in no way like the Berlin Wall, which was built by the Soviet Army to enclose East Germans, and keep them from the rest of their own country. How Mr. Hoyt could confuse two so disimilar projects, merely because both are walls is beyond me. Does Mr. Hoyt think the insides of his local Wal-Mart and Wallgreens’ also resemble East Berlin? He might.

Where, I wondered, could Mr. Hoyt aquire such a strange idea? I think I have found the source: in Phoenix, Arizona last December 24-year-old Ali R. Warrayat, a Jordanian immigrant:
“crashed his car into a Home Depot…where he formerly worked, igniting an explosive blaze in the stores' paint section and causing $1 million in damage...After crashing through the doors at 6 a.m., Warrayat headed for the paint department and slammed the vehicle into the flammable goods. He jumped out of the car, ignited the blaze with a lighter.”
Ali stated he was motivated in part because he had not received a desired raise. He also said, “he was mad at the United States for proposing a 700-mile fence along the Mexican border and wanted to make the country ‘more free.’

Warrayat seems to not only have inspired Mr. Hoyt, but Mexican Presidente Vicente Fox as well, who made the same demented Berlin Wall analogy in speech on the very day of the Jordanian immigrant’s terrorism. Syndicated columnist Neal R. Peirce adopted Warryat’s idea a shortly thereafter, as has congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. Is espousing the Warrayat-Wall analogy the new ‘radical chic’? I fear it may be.

03 January 2006

Justice renders to every one his due

The Bush Crimes Commission (BCC) is an independent committee which has taken upon itself the duty of indicting the current President for his various atrocities. Its members include such notables as the president of the National Lawyers Guild and compulsive filer of frivolous lawsuits Michael Avery, unpopular rapper Cornel West, The Reverend Doctor Earl Kooperkamp (his name is my name too), hairy former television actor Edward Asner, Eve Ensler (famous authoress of the play ‘Chatting With Snatches’), the great Belgian moralist Patrick Deboosere, the Maoist C. Clark Kissinger (who bears the burden of his unfortunate surname with the utmost dignity if you ask me), and, of course, Gore Vidal (one of these without Vidal is like mashed potatoes without gravy).

One of the crimes against humanity the Commission promises to investigate is Bush’s failure to “emphasize safe sex and the use of condoms”. If they find him guilty I wonder what his sentence will be. I’m sure the BCC opposes the death penalty, so that’s off the table. Perhaps forcing Bush to listen to a Noam Chomsky lecture? But they also oppose torture. It will be interesting to see what happens.

The idealism of the BCC has inspired one person: my good friend Professor Glen Morangie. Noting the number of academics involved, he decided he deserves to be a member too and recently sent the BCC (commission@nion.us) the following email:
To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Professor Glen Morangie. I am an unaffiliated academic and renowned thinker, who does independent research in a variety of fields, including history, intercontinental philosophy, and phrenology. I am an expert on the medical condition emetophilia, which I also suffer from. I try to take one day at a time. It’s a challenge but I’m making progress.

Not only am I willing to assist the commission in indicting the President Bush, but I also am willing to volunteer as bailiff for any subsequent war crimes/hate crimes/crimes against humanity/enviro-crimes/UFO cover-up crimes/ trial that is held. I am able to provide my own bailiff’s uniform and sidearm, which probably sets me apart from the other candidates seeking the baliff’s position.

So please add my name to the Bush Crimes Commission roster. If I don’t hear from anyone I will assume you have done so. I look forward to participating with all of my fellow commission members at the next meeting of the BCC January 20-22, thank you in advance for allowing me to play a tiny role in this important process. No justice no peace!

Sincerely,

Professor Glen Morangie.

P.S. Are refreshments going to be provided? I can always bring a tin of my famous homemade brownies if need be. Let me know!

01 January 2006

A blog goes inside inside the blogs on TV

I made the mistake of watching the news on television the other day. It was even worse than news in the newspaper. On CNN they had a segment called “Inside the Blogs”, where they show blogs...on TV. Seriously, some lady came out and talked about what she read on “the blogs” that day. Is there a single person seeing blogs on TV who says “Finally, somebody gets it right, blogs on TV”? What will they show next, some guy talking about what he’s been listening to on AM radio?

I asked a fellow at the bar everyone calls Sarge because he spent the latter part of the 80’s serving our great country in the military what he thought about blogs on TV. “I’ve never seen blogs on TV,” he said, “and I hope I never do. I didn’t go to hell and back in Korea so they could put blogs on TV.” Indeed, Sarge, indeed. Also none of the blogs featured were mine.

Brokeback Revisited

Can you guess the author of the following ‘hate speech’?:
“I haven't seen "Brokeback Mountain," nor do I have any intention of seeing it. In fact, cowboys would have to lasso me, drag me into the theater and tie me to the seat, and even then I would make every effort to close my eyes and cover my ears….I just don't want to watch two straight men, alone on the prairie, fall in love and kiss and hug and hold hands and whatnot.”
No, not me. It was Larry David, writing a brief review in the New York Times of a movie he hasn't seen.

Imagine the reaction if those same words were written by Mel Gibson, for example, in another newspaper. The New York Times would probably publish an editorial condemning him as a ‘homophobe’ and demand he be re-educated via diversity training. It’s a double standard, but we should be happy that someone got to say it.

Another double standard brought to mind by David’s essay: why is it acceptable to have straight actors play homosexualists? Would Hollywood make a film about interracial love with both lovers played by white actors? Guess who's coming to dinner: it's Paul Newman, and he's wearing blackface! Actually, now that I think about it that would be really entertaining.

I wonder what Times columnist Frank Rich thinks of his newspaper publishing Larry David’s essay? When Brokeback was released, an excited Rich scribbled:
“The culture is seeking out this movie not just because it is a powerful, four-hankie account of a doomed love affair…

The truth is that the millions of moviegoers soon to swoon over the star-crossed gay cowboys of "Brokeback Mountain" can probably put up with the sight of "two guys going at it."
For the record, Rich is happily married man. Just because a former drama critic “swoons” over "two guys going at it”, and praises a movie for being a “four-hankie account of a doomed love affair” doesn’t mean anything, and anyone who thinks so is a terrible person. That way he holds his mouth is a coincidence too, so please, don’t even mention it.