All posts by Rand Simberg

Black-Segway Amish

A conversation with UPI columnist Jim Bennett triggered this thought–could we come up with an unostentatious version of a Segway vehicle that could promote another split in the Amish? For sects that already use electricity, or drive non-chromed cars, it wouldn’t be that much of a leap. It’s a pretty high-tech device, so it’s not clear how “tinkerable” it will be.

I’m imagining the non-gloss black Segway, with a black-clothed farmer astride it, and the big yellow safety triangle on the back (see, another need for a bumper, though the cup holder would almost certainly be unholy), cruising slowly down the road at twelve miles an hour, being passed by “the English” on their souped-up, aerodynamic versions at twice that speed.

Its bumper sticker?

My Other Car Is A Horse-Drawn Buggy

Anglosphere Receding?

Iain Murray implies that I’m a blogger of the Caribbean Anglosphere. True if I were in the Bahamas, or Jamaica, or Caymans, or other British or American islands. But, actually, I’m in Puerto Rico, which by all appearances is trying to paddle its way out of the Anglosphere as quickly as it can, back to the fantasized glory days of their Spanish heritage.

The island has a new governor, Sila Calderon. She ran a Hillary-like campaign, with billboards containing nothing except her picture and the word “Sila!” One of Governor Calderon’s first acts was to roll back the requirement for English language instruction in the primary schools–Espanol is good enough for us, gracia’. She’s supposedly of the Commonwealth party, but she was accused the other day of being a closet member of the Movimiento Independista by the San Juan Star. One of her second acts was to have the stationary changed from “Puerto Rico, US Commonwealth” to “Puerto Rico, Free Associated State.”

Mark Twain once said, “A dog will not bite the hand that feeds him. This is the principal difference between a man and a dog.” The dirty little secret is that there were quite a few down here who were almost as pleased at what happened on September 11 (I was here the day it happened, scheduled to fly back to California on a 10 AM flight–needless to say, my departure was delayed as I watched the towers fall) as some in the West Bank and Gaza.

Unfortunately, too few Boriquens (what they call themselves) realize how much their economy is being propped up by dollars from Washington. If we finally decide that without Vieques, the Roosevelt Roads naval facility is not by itself worth the billions of US taxpayer funds that flow down here, they just may find out.


A long, but good piece about Islamaphobia by Jack Schwartz. We are not at war with Islam, but we are definitely at war with Islamicism.

…if you are armed with the only truth, then it is indeed your obligation to bring it to everyone else, by words if possible, by the sword if necessary. Anyone who opposes you, must be doing the devil?s work and is therefore fair game for destruction. It is no accident that America is called “The Great Satan,” because that is exactly the way the mullahs perceive us. We are not an imperial overlord, or an economic oppressor; we are a demonic force for evil, that must be opposed with any means at hand. This sense of America as the wicked “other” is driven by religious conviction, which is what inspires the dedication of the Islamists and doubtless flutters the hearts of other Muslims who may be too timid to take up arms but feel a glow in contributing to their purchase. I find it hard to believe the disclaimers of many of the imams that President Bush trotted up to the national dais, who represented groups that themselves were supporting and apologizing for terrorist groups until Sept. 11.


The Instapundit has already astutely pointed out how the “international” (read collectivist) community has watered down the once-useful concept of international law though overreaching.

Today, he cites a piece by Jay Nordlinger on how the left has done the same thing to the concept of racism.

There are at least a couple other examples of such devaluation of the currency of language. Nordlinger himself points one out later in the same column:

Just the other day, as we were waging a war against true terrorism, a short time after terrorists took the lives of some 5,000 of us, Jackson accused President Bush ? the man leading us in this mighty struggle against terrorism ? of committing ?economic terror? against Americans. That was Jackson?s way of saying that he disagreed with Bush?s tax and budget policies ? that the president was waging ?economic terror? against his fellow citizens.

Apparently, anything one doesn’t like is terrorist racism (or is it racist terrorism?) and against international law.

But the one that really gets me is “hate.” If we disagree with a “progressive” position, we are not just racists and terrorists, and international lawbreakers, but we are also “haters.” Yes, there are some on the “right” (what a useless adjective) who indeed do hate various people, groups and ideas. But they certainly don’t have a monopoly on it, and the term is so overused that it is no longer of any use.

For eight long years, whenever I objected to the co-Presidents using the Constitution for toilet paper, or using their office for the personal aggrandizement and power of themselves and their cronies, and moving their little Dixie Mafia from Little Rock to Washington, I was dubbed a “Clinton hater.” I did not then, nor do I now, hate Bill or Hillary Clinton. Hate is a serious emotion, to be reserved for serious things–I find them unworthy of such a depth of feeling. Criticism is not hatred. Disagreement with someone’s position is not “hate speech.”

I recall from Mr. Clinton’s famous deposition that he said that he weaseled his way around the truth because he literally “hated” what Judge Starr and his prosecutors were doing. Was his perjury and witness intimidation therefore a hate crime? Hate perjury? Hate obstruction of justice? How much harsher should the sentence be for that?

The left has taken once-useful words and rendered them almost valueless. To the degree that they have any utility today, it is only to indicate that their utterer is incapable of putting up a coherent argument, and is instead resorting to juvenile name calling. And the supreme irony is that, if anyone can be truly accused of being racist, terrorist, or being consumed with blind hatred, it’s those who believe that blacks can’t learn unless they’re sitting next to whites, that unlike all previous immigrant groups, Hispanic children are incapable of learning English in school, that Afghan or Chinese people don’t really want freedom and democracy, that strapping a bomb to oneself and detonating it in a shopping mall, or spiking a tree is “understandable.”

Read the screeds of the Chomskys, the Ralls, the whole melange of post-modern professors in academia. Hatred figuratively drips from every sentence–hatred of capitalism, hatred of rationality, hatred of change and freedom, hatred, seemingly, of life itself. It must really suck to be them. I would hate it.

The Attorney General Is Not A General!!

John Podhoretz has a piece in the New York Post this morning about why Leahy backed down so quickly last week when Ashcroft returned fire during his little Senatorial inquisition. But what I’m really writing about is the last line:

Good work, General.

This has been a pet peeve of mine for years (particularly when the fawning media would call Waco Janet “General Reno.”) The Attorney General is not a general–the Attorney General is an attorney. I know it sounds a little strange in English, where the modifier usually comes first, but “general” is an adjective here–not a noun.

Please stop.

More On Bug Eating

Tim Blehh (phonetic spelling–he’s from Oz), in honor of my commentary on lobster, has posted a picture of some gruesome cuisine that only a Klingon could love.

He also helpfully provides a site of bizarre Aussie critters del mar. I’d never heard of the Balmain Bug, but when I was in Brisbane a few years ago, I did try a plate of Moreton Bay Bugs. They were pretty weird looking–kind of like a cross between a lobster and a trilobite. Interesting flavor, but it shows just how off the main path Australia is, evolutionarily speaking…