Author Archives: Rand Simberg

Joni Mitchell

Her secret torment.

I have to agree with this comment:

As difficult and delusional a person as Joni Mitchell is — and as little desire as I have to actually meet her — I find it extremely hard to harbor any personal animosity towards the person who wrote “The Urge for Going”, “That Song About the Midway”, “All I Want”, “California”, “River”, “A Case of You”, “Free Man in Paris”, “Refuge of the Roads” and numerous other brilliant pop songs, and who also recorded the definitive — indeed, timeless — versions of most of them.

Yes, she was an amazingly talented young woman. I’ve never been able to figure out what she does on guitar, with the weird and haunting tunings. Beautiful voice, beautiful melodies, poetic lyrics, great piano and guitar.

Low-Carb Diets

Another well-designed study shows its benefits.

[Update a while later]

Here‘s the original NYT piece.

[Afternoon update]

On an email list, I responded to a friend who was interested, but disgusted by eating fat (doesn’t like butter on anything except potatoes, cuts it off steak, etc.)

I’m not big on just eating fat per se myself, but I now take fat I cut off and render it (tallow for beef, lard for pork, schmaltz for chicken) and add it to other things (like a can of “fat-free” baked beans yesterday), or fry eggs or other things in it. For instance, when you cook bacon, you’re actually rendering the lard (the bacon grease). When I render beef suet I get what I call “beef bacon,” tasty bits of crunchy protein, along with the tallow. I’ve quit using seed or vegetable oil for deep frying and switched to lard or tallow (the latter is what used to make McDonalds fries taste good, until they got mau maued into switching to other oils, and it made a lot of economic sense given that they own cattle ranches and generate so much of it in cooking the burgers). Also, eat crispy chicken skin (the chicken version of bacon). There are a lot of non-disgusting ways to increase your fat intake, while improving food taste/mouth feel.

I’d like to start a social media campaign to get McDonalds to go back to tallow for fries (yes, I know that potatoes are problematic, but if you’re going to eat them, at least fry them in a delicious and healthy fat). It might even knock down the prices.

The Reformation Of Manners

Some thoughts from Mark Steyn on the Rotherham capitulation:

Now, in the new multiculti Britain, the child sex trade is back, as part of the rich, vibrant tapestry of diversity – along with Jew-hate, and honor killings, and decapitation porn.

…Old-school thugs – Mubarak and even Saddam – felt obliged to lie to the world: no, no torture going on here; we’re civilized men, just like you. But, as in Rotherham, the ISIS lads are “brazen” about it – they’re in your face about offing your head. And it’s worked for them: The more they post decapitated victims on Twitter and Facebook, the more followers they get in the “civilized” world. In an ill advised choice of words, the Prime Minister David Cameron said, “We need to tackle the ideology of Islamist extremism head on” – because trying to do it with your head off doesn’t seem to be working out for those poor fellows in Mosul.

But what does “head on” mean? I was listening to Congressman Peter King on the radio the other day discuss the issue of American and other western Muslims sallying forth to fight for ISIS, and his warnings about jihadists with western passports being able to move freely within Europe and North America made a lot of sense. But I had the uneasy feeling, as with Cameron, that the upshot would be a world in which, in five or ten years’ time, it will be more difficult and burdensome for law-abiding persons to fly from London to New York a two-day business meeting or from Toronto to Athens for a week in the Greek islands. In other words, the political leadership of the western world will attempt to micro-manage the problem through the panopticon security state.

Underneath the watchful eyes of the digital panopticon, however, the Islamization of the west will continue. Not every Muslim wants to chop your head off. Not every Muslim wants to “groom” your 11-year-old daughter. But these pathologies nest within Islam, and thrive at the intersection of Islam and the west. As long as Islam is your biggest source of population growth – to the point where Mohammed is now the most popular boy’s name in Oslo – you’re not “tackling” the issue, and certainly not “head on”.

In a bizarre column even for the post-Conrad National Post, Afsun Qureshi suggests the best thing you could do to lessen the likelihood of being set upon by Muslims is to learn to recite the shahadah, “a testimony to the identity of Allah as the one true God, and Muhammad as his prophet”. She might be right. Wearing a burqa might help, too. Or the shalwar kameez. On the other hand, most of those Syrian men paraded through the desert in their BVDs to their rendezvous with death knew the shahadah, and a fat lot of good it did.

To recite the shahadah when you’re accosted on the streets is to accept the basic premise of your attackers – that Islam now has universal jurisdiction. There’s way too much of that already. In essence, the entire establishment of a South Yorkshire town accepted that the cultural mores of Islam superseded whatever squeamishness they might otherwise have about child rape.

This will not end well.

Plus, “we have to face the truth to deal with the Rotherham hell“>

Facing the truth is something that the multi-culti Leftist, “reality-based” community studiously avoids.

In Which I Disagree With @Instapundit

I agree that neurosuspension is better than nothing, but I disagree that whole body is for suckers. This is a topic that’s been going on for years in cryonics discussions.

We simply don’t know how much of our identity is in our body, as opposed to simply our brains. For instance, I suspect that there is a lot of distributed motor intelligence in athletes and musicians — when I play an instrument (or for that matter, simply type on a keyboard) I have a sense that my hands aren’t being directly controlled by the brain, but are rather receiving higher-level commands issued by the brain that are implemented at a lower level, based on local memory. I don’t know that to be the case, but if you can afford to keep the whole body, it might end up being worth not having to reacquire old skills.

The Coalition For Big Expensive Rockets

I agree with Stephen Fleming about this press release.

I’ve been pointing out all of the nonsensical, engineering-illiterate praise for SLS on Twitter. “Most powerful,” “fastest” etc. I loved this one today:

My response:

The SpaceX Vehicle Loss

Apparently it was a blocked sensor port:

“I can tell you that it certainly looks like it was basically a single-point failure that existed on that test article that does not exist on the Falcon 9,” Reisman said. “We think it was a failure of a single sensor, and Falcon 9 has multiple sensors in its algorithm that it uses. So if the same failure occurred on the Falcon 9 it would not affect the mission in any way.”

The sensor failure in one of the three Merlin 1D engines on the Falcon 9R caused the vehicle to stray from its intended flight path, triggering an automatic self-destruct command to ensure it did not threaten nearby people and property.

Reisman said an operational Falcon 9 flight, which uses nine first stage engines, could overcome the loss of an engine. On the three-engine Falcon 9R, such redundancy does not exist.

But still no announcement of a new launch date for AsiaSat 6?

The Border

Remember, it’s more secure than it’s ever been:

Judicial Watch’s report says that “Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to ‘carry out an attack on the border,’ according to one JW source. ’It’s coming very soon,’ according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms.”

Two weeks prior to the 13th anniversary, it seems perfectly plausible to me.

Public School As Child Abuse

And overpriced colleges as young-adult abuse:

The student was given two options: face an “administrative panel” whose decision would be final and unable to be appealed (but suspension or expulsion not an option) or face a Student Conduct Panel, which would leave room for appeal but put suspension/expulsion back on the table.

The administration’s “bright line” for determining guilt is (I AM NOT KIDDING) whether the incident “more likely than not” occurred. Any discussion about whether the shouted joke “more likely than not” should have resulted in having the book thrown at the student apparently isn’t up for discussion.

If either panel finds the student “more likely than not” guilty of making an offensive, one-line joke, she pays the administrative fees and deals with whatever punishment is decided. If declared “more likely than not” not guilty, no one pays anything, not even the couple whose existence was rendered ghastly and nightmarish by a couple of seconds of careless window shouting nearly three months ago.

Don’t give your money to these people. Especially don’t go into undischargeable debt to give money to these people.

Want To Stop ISIS?

Unlike Barack Obama, Angelo Codevilla does have a strategy:

The IS ideology is neither more nor less than that of the Wahabi sect, which is the official religion of Saudi Arabia, which has been intertwined with its royal family since the eighteenth century, and which Saudi money has made arguably the most pervasive version of Islam in the world (including the United States). Wahabism validates the Saudis’ Islamic purity while rich Saudis live dissolute lives—a mutually rewarding, but tenuous deal for all. But increasingly, the Saudi royals have realized they are riding a tiger. Wahabi-educated youth are seeing the royals for what they are. The IS, by declaring itself a Caliphate, explicitly challenged the Saudis’ legitimacy. The kingdom’s Grand Mufti, a descendant of Ab al Wahab himself, declared the IS an enemy of Islam. But while the kingdom officially forbids its subjects from joining IS, its ties with Wahabism are such that it would take an awful lot to make the kingdom wage war against it.

American diplomacy’s task is precisely to supply that awful lot.

Given enough willpower, America has enough leverage to cause the Saudis to fight in their own interest. Without American technicians and spare parts, the Saudi arsenal is useless. Nor does Saudi Arabia have an alternative to American protection. If a really hard push were required, the U.S. government might begin to establish relations with the Shia tribes that inhabit the oil regions of eastern Arabia.

Day after day after day, hundreds of Saudi (and Jordanian) fighters, directed by American AWACS radar planes, could systematically destroy the Islamic State—literally anything of value to military or even to civil life. It is essential to keep in mind that the Islamic State exists in a desert region which offers no place to hide and where clear skies permit constant, pitiless bombing and strafing. These militaries do not have the excessive aversions to collateral damage that Americans have imposed upon themselves.

Destruction from the air, of course, is never enough. Once the Shia death squads see their enemy disarmed and hungry, the United States probably would not have to do anything for the main engine of massive killing to descend on the Islamic State and finish it off. U.S. special forces would serve primarily to hunt down and kill whatever jihadists seemed to be escaping the general disaster of their kind.

We’ve been having an infestation of ants. They find a hole somewhere around the sink, and if the slightest bit of food is left overnight, they will be swarming it in the morning. While I take no particular pleasure in it, I have to grab the removable nozzle of the sink faucet, and relentlessly wash them down the drain (despite the severe drought in California), picking up stragglers on the counter with a wet paper towel. Then, having noted where they seem to be coming from, I spray an insecticide in the area and wipe it down. It seems to work.

[Update a few minutes later]

ISIS laptop of doom.

I don’t know how practical a “bubonic-plague bomb” would be, but it provides a guide to their mindset:

…the longer the caliphate exists, the more likely it is that members with a science background will come up with something horrible. The documents found on the laptop of the Tunisian jihadist, meanwhile, leave no room for doubt about the group’s deadly ambitions.

Yup. It’s us or them. And unlike them, we don’t want to kill their women and children.

[Update a couple minutes later]

The administration’s latest big lie: They do have a strategy:

…but they prefer to appear indecisive. That’s because the strategy would likely provoke even greater criticism than the false confession of endless dithering. The actual strategy is detente first, and then a full alliance with Iran throughout the Middle East and North Africa. It has been on display since before the beginning of the Obama administration. . . . President Obama’s quest for an alliance with Iran has been conducted through at least four channels: Iraq, Switzerland (the official U.S. representative to Tehran), Oman and a variety of American intermediaries, the most notable of whom is probably Valerie Jarrett, his closest adviser.

Yes. She’s arguably a foreign agent.

The Euro

There is no easy exit from it:

Yes, we’re back to our old friend path dependence. As I noted the other day, the fact that you can avoid some sort of terrible fate by stopping something before it starts does not mean that you can later achieve the same salutary effects by ceasing whatever stupid thing you have done. It would have been painless just to not have the euro. But it will be painful indeed to get rid of it.

It won’t end well. And path dependence is why it’s going to be such a mess to unravel the disaster that is ObamaCare as well.

The Future

It could work, if we let it.

I do think that driverless cars are going to make things like high-speed rail (particularly California’s plan) look even more monumentally stupid in retrospect than it does now (and that’s a high bar). But history teaches us that it’s very difficult to predict the societal side effects of technological advances.

What Makes Us Fat

Here’s a radical idea: Let’s do some actual scientific research:

…much of what we think we know about nutrition is based on observational studies, a mainstay of major research initiatives like the Nurses’ Health Study, which followed more than 120,000 women across the US for three decades. Such studies look for associations between the foods that subjects claim to eat and the diseases they later develop. The problem, as Taubes sees it, is that observational studies may show a link between a food or nutrient and a disease but tell us nothing about whether the food or nutrient is actually causing the disease. It’s a classic blunder of confusing correlation with causation—and failing to test conclusions with controlled experiments. “Good scientists will approach new results like they’re buying a used car,” he says. “When the salesman tells you it’s a great car, you don’t take his word for it. You get it checked out.”

NuSI’s starting assumption, in other words, is that bad science got us into the state of confusion and ignorance we’re in. Now Taubes and Attia want to see if good science can get us out.

What a concept.

“Fear Of Being Thought Racist”

Old Blighty is suffering a real blight:

In August 2013, four women launched legal action against Rotherham council over ‘systematic failures’ to protect them from ‘sexual abuse by predatory men when they were children’ according to their lawyers.

One girl, known only as ‘Jessica’ claims she was abused daily as a 14-year-old by a 24-year-old man after social services failed to accept that she was a victim grooming.

On one occasion married father-of-two Arshid Hussain was even caught with the half naked schoolgirl under his bed but documents revealed that police arrested her – and let him go.

These are the wages of multi-culturalism. And they’re being paid by the innocent.

[Update Thursday morning]

An interesting take from Richard Fernandez:

Doubtless there’s nothing in his religion that explicitly instructs it believers to act thus, but there’s something in the atmosphere. The BBC reports that investigators have only now just discovered “child sexual exploitation is happening in a ‘number of towns’ in different parts of the country”. Rotherham might just be the tip of the iceberg.

But Muhbeen Hussain is at least fighting his side, arguing his cause. Our problem, as Hussain notes, is that the Western elites have quit fighting theirs. If the British authorities really wanted peace with the “Asians”, they should have as he suggests, arrested them. Assent is consent, or may be perceived as such.

You may disagree with Hussein. You may hate what you think is his side. But at least he’s no traitor, not to his side at least. Not like those mealy mouthed politicians in Rotherham. As Daniel Hannan notes “interesting to see whether people in Rotherham keep voting for Labour councils. On the evidence so far, they will.” Because the arrangement is the “Asians” will vote for Labour and in return Labour will let them practice their traditions unhindered under the color of diversity and tolerance. Expect Labour to dominate in Rotherham until the day the Democratic Party loses Detroit.

The role of radical Islam in Britain is as the proxy Brownshirt wing of the Left. The Left knows that if it can terrorize a town into surrendering — and indeed a nation — into surrendering their children with their proxy thugs, then the door is open to everything. Rotherham is not about racism. It is about fascism: about aspiring tyrants with impeccable double-barreled Anglo-Saxon names, wearing fashionable dress nightly luring a passive population into the chute of slavery with dulcet tones over national TV. And if you don’t listen to them, then you’ll heed the boys with the funny hats.

Yup.

[Update a while later]
More thoughts from Ann Althouse:

I’d like to see more detail about this “fear of being thought as racist.” It sounds like a confession of deliberate law enforcement paralysis, a choice to permit thousands of children to be raped for decades on end, because of befuddlement about how on earth to begin to do anything without looking bad or because of a sense that your community is already hopelessly overwhelmed by evil forces that will only become more aggressive and violent if opposed.

That’s pretty much the point.

[Update a few more minutes later]

Muslim gang rapists: Why can’t we be honest about it?

…only a racist would believe this is a “Pakistani” problem. It isn’t. It’s a cultural phenomenon unique to Muslim communities, as suggested by the prevalence of father-son combinations in so many of the gangs, wherever in the world they appear. And here’s another clue it’s not just about brown-on-white crime: Britain’s Sikh community has been complaining for years that its young girls are being targeted by Muslim rapists.

But good luck figuring out the complicated racial and religious dimensions to these crimes if you’re getting your news from the Guardian. That newspaper, together with some parts of the BBC, is committing the same error in judgment that the police and council in Rotherham did over all those years. They are turning a blind eye to obviously pertinent facts of the case for political reasons.

There are complex religious and cultural reasons why Muslim men are drawn to rape in gangs, often in family units, with fathers, sons and uncles all raping the same women. But how will we ever know why this is so, and begin to tackle it, until we are honest about what’s happening?

We won’t.

[Bumped]

[Update a few minutes later]

This is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards.