Saturday, April 28, 2007

English-speaking Peoples Since 1900


As I suspected the last 20 years appeared to be much more journalism than history so I'll only throw out a couple of facts that intrigued me:

p. 572 According to a European Commission report in 2001, English was being spoken by more than one in three of 350M citizens of the EU, whereas fewer than one in ten spoke French outside France itself.

p. 573 there are three non-native English speakers for every native one.....with 1.5B speakers worldwide, it is poised for global hegemony.

Wow. Now I wish I'd taken Spanish in school instead of French.

p.574 Despite Britain having just 1.3% of the world's population - and taking up less than 0.2% of the world's land area - English is today both the language of wealth and, just as importantly, of aspiration to wealth. It is not enough that many hundreds of millions should speak English as their first or second language, but the people who do so have on average higher per capita incomes than those who speak the other great world languages. Although there are many more Mandarin-speakers than English-speakers, they are only worth [Scooter: I lament the choice of words] £448B in total. Against that Russian-speakers are 'worth' [Scooter: fine, here he inserts the quotes] £801B, German-speakers £1,090B, Japanese-speakers £1,277B, but English-speakers are worth a staggering £4,271B - more than all the rest put together.

Mon Dieu!

In his conclusion, Roberts does his duty and cites many of the shames of the 20th C. English-speaking Peoples, which did not go unmentioned earlier in his History but I've not yet mentioned, e.g., the one hundred years from the end of American slavery until real progress for the American African-American and the disparate levels of wealth in the US but cited some facts that I've heard before from Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell about the American poor:

p. 639 Over 46% of America's poor - as defined by the US Government's Census Bureau - own their own homes [Scooter: I have a hard time with that one...must be a pretty generous definition of poor], 72% have washing machines, 60% own microwave ovens, 92% have colour TV sets, 76% have air-conditioning and 66% own one or more cars. 2/3s of poor households have an average of two rooms per person, and the average poor American has more living space than the average individual in Paris, London, Vienna or Athens [Scooter: Having stayed in many a pensione in Europe, I don't find this hard to swallow]. Obesity, rather than hunger or malnutrition, is the danger for the children of America's poor....

Finally, do the Brits use the phrase "in the event" the same way as we use "in any event?" I must have come across that a dozen time in the book and every time I had to reread the sentence. That was the conclusion to which I came.

Wonderful book that has left me wondering if I can tackle its inspiration.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sunset Express

One of the early (1996) Elvis Cole Novels.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

OMG: Edwards on Moral Authority and Hillary on Wal-Mart

Please go listen to this debate. This is just sad.

SSJ hits 580 Posts

Keep pushing. We get a bump at the blogspot site when we hit 1000.

Holy Cow!

New terrorist threat...the former trial lawyer/Edwards says, "Blame America first." Look at the Democrat debate.

Democrat Debate

This is hideous. Could it be more clear that every candidate had the question posed them ahead of time? The only candidate who hasn't benefited from this is Hillary...she still sounds shrill and posed...she needs a much better team. However, she did have the best reply to the "what if we're hit again" question.

I did not hear the earliest parts of the debate so maybe the questioning method was disclosed but if not, then this is a farce.

Obama = Scooter

Continuing my viewing of the Democrat debate, Obama is all fluff and no substance.

Holy Smokes: Joe Biden is running?

I turned on the Democrat debate and was shocked, shocked I say, to learn Biden was running again.

I was once fooled by him.

I haven't heard squat about his campaign this year.

Re: Re: Re: Sopranos

I'm sure LJ is right about A&E, if one is going to judge, judge the real deal. I could have lived without almost all of the sex scenes (confession here, not all) but the violence and language is probably essential to a real judgment of the series.

Having said that, I haven't seen any of the A&E stuff so I can't say to what extent they are editing.

For my money, the first season of Rome was the best 12 episodes of TV. Pity that they had to cram so much into the second season, knowing that they were the final 12, effectively ruining it.

Re: Re: The Sopranos

I've seen an episode or 2 on A&E. Since I'm "Mr. Free Speech", I don't want edited. I want to see it the way the writers/creators made it. How else can I judge whether or not it's the greatest television ever?

Re: Speaking of Mike Gallagher II

Yesterday and today he has been railing against the Tillman's and Jessica Lynch and their testimony in the hearings going on in DC. They have an agenda (as if not everyone there does), they are anti-war, blah blah blah. He keeps saying that Tillman was a hero and it didn't/shouldn't matter how he died. That the family got the truth. That friendly fire is a part of war. And he is right...and is very wrong.

It doesn't matter how he died. How he died shouldn't have effected his "hero" status. And I don't think it mattered to anyone...except the Army. That is the point. Gallagher keeps throwing out "alleged lies", "alleged facts", "perhaps the events were embellished", "the facts surrounding the event were murky". Please....EVERYONE in the Army that was involved knew from almost the minute he died what happened. The Army covered it up, the Army changed the story, the Army ordered people not to tell the truth. So it must have mattered to them. At his funeral/memorial service, the officer who recounted the events KNEW what he was saying was not truthful, the Army brass sitting there KNEW what was being said was not truthful, but they kept the story going. The Army has admitted it. So I don't know what is "alleged" or "murky" about that. The Army ordered someone who was there not to tell his brother, a fellow Ranger in the same platoon. The Army destroyed evidence. The Army posted guards outside a hospital room so a wounded soldier, who was injured in the same fire-fight, wouldn't tell anyone what really happened.

Since Gallagher is so good at putting himself in someones mind (the Tillman's family), allow me to do it. They just wanted to be told the truth. As soon as possible. The Army could have avoided all of this had they done so. By not, and dragging this out, the Tillman's got pissed and contacted their Congressman or Senator. And once those guys get involved, NOTHING good can happen. That is when you get hearings, that is when it all turns political and agenda's get involved. The Tillman's, at least at first, only had one agenda.

The truth.

Re: Speaking of Mike Gallagher

The first time he offered a hour of his program to the Phelps sisters was when they were going to show up/protest the funerals of the Amish children who were killed in the Amish school shooting. I listened to about half of that program. Even I, a very fervent advocate of free speech, was appalled. I understand his motivation in giving them air time, but they have no business on the airwaves. I heard him yesterday saying that they were going to be on again, but it was the last hour of the program and I had no way to hear it.

But my question is, while I understand (perhaps) why they do this, I don't understand why they don't also show up at the shooters funeral. If I understand their beliefs, the shooters/killers are sinners as well. So if you are going to show up at one, show up at the other. Then again, they lose the shock value and publicity if they attend the killers funeral.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Re: Sopranos

If you'd like to do it on the cheap (and I don't mean that disparagingly), there is an alternative. A&E is running what I assume to be a censored version.

Re: Speaking of Mike Gallagher

He's done this in the past (offered his program in lieu of) when they wanted to protest military burials. I actually admire that...but I still am not enamored of the program.

If Gallagher's gestures give them more publicity while not upsetting these tragedies, I'm all for it. Let them lose in the market of ideas.

Speaking of Mike Gallagher

I listened to a bit of Tuesday's show when he had the Phelps sisters on. He had made a deal with them that if they would agree not to appear at the funerals of the Blacksburg victims, he would give them Tuesday's show to do their thing. I had never paid much attention to them or their church, Westboro Baptist. I'm not going to link them - their website name would make even Ann Coulter blush.

From what I had read about them, I thought they were just anti-gay nuts, which they are, but they actually have a theology that goes way beyond their signs and their anti-gay rhetoric, which I now see they do for the pub to reach what they perceive as the maximum audience. They believe (fervently is too weak a word) that it is a Christian's duty to rebuke non-Christians in an effort to make them see the error of their ways and become Christians. The rub is that if you don't believe in 24/7 rebuking of those who don't agree with Westboro, you're not a real Christian. They have 71 members of their church apparently, and their belief is that they are the only true Christians following the teachings of Jesus. Everyone else is destined for Hell.

The sisters are not dumb and both are lawyers (and no LJ I'm not claiming that lawyers are necessarily smart). But boy are they pissed off.

More Miller

Skipped around his website some last night and it appears that Mark Steyn will be on fairly regularly; Miller really schmoozes.

He also had Peggy Noonan (my fantasy girlfriend) on and he seemed pretty much as infatuated as I. I've read almost all her books and never miss a column. Best prose in the biz.

LJ, you may never be able to get beyond his schtick or his politics but I bet this is going to hit once he gets enough stations to drag him out of that time slot. Would that my local Talk Radio 1370 AM would dump Savage or Gallagher for him, not that I think Gallagher is even close to Savage regarding the cringe factor.

Re: Jonah Goldberg and Mark Steyn on US Air Carriers

Look, I really am the only guy who reads the economic/financial stuff. Mark’s gentle rebuke here to Jonah’s lament here.

Neither mention Tom Nugent’s article earlier this month on NRO.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Stand

It's long, as you know. It's the only King book I've read where God shows up. In everything else I've read, there is Paranormal that may be Evil or may not. Certainly the Clown in It is evil but there's no countervailing god or God.

English-speaking Peoples Since 1900

I'm up to the 90s. The decade/chapter entitled The Wasted Breathing Space.

More favorable treatment of Nixon/Kissinger than I would have thought: the theory being that the political will of the 70s only allowed for Detente rather than aggressively pursuing the end of Communism. Nixon was rightfully excoriated for his economic policies as was Carter; Edward Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister even more so for most of his policies.

Thatcher and Reagan rightfully hallowed for their efforts both economically and in terms of foreign policy. Wish that the details of Reykjavik had been explored in greater detail.

In addition, I've always felt that administrations (and most other things) really need at least 20 years of distance before they are really treated properly from a historical (as opposed to a journalistic) perspective so from Reagan/Thatcher forward, I'm treating this a bit more like an opinion piece though there is certainly plenty of opinion in the first 80 years.

The rug in the Oval Office

If Hillary is going to lift up the rug in the Oval Office in 2009, she’d better hope it was cleaned thoroughly after her husband’s term. Yuck.

Re: The Sopranos

I loved the series the first two seasons. The succeeding seasons left me less impressed. I'm not sure if that was because of a drop in quality or if I increasingly lost interest due to the length of the hiatuses. I've continued watching, however, and so far I've loved this season.

Come to think of it, buying may be the perfect way to go.

Baghdad on the Bayou

From City Journal:

The rocketing crime rate suggests that New Orleans’s bad guys are coming back to the city in disproportionate numbers. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. The hoodlums, mostly members of an entrenched underclass, are impulsive and mobile, while working- and middle-class New Orleanians face big roadblocks to returning, such as shuttered schools. Some of the lawbreakers may have hustled back, too, because they were having a hard time adjusting to functional cities like Houston, which initially took in more than 200,000 storm evacuees. Unlike New Orleans, which has long failed at crime fighting, Houston actually arrests, charges, convicts, and imprisons its criminals (see “Houston’s Noble Experiment,” Spring 2006).

And, of course, Michael has made similar comments about the crime rate increasing in Houston as a result of the Katrina cretins here, here, here and here.

The Sopranos

While I am on the cutting edge on many things, especially as compared to my com padres, I am not as it relates to television. I am rarely, if ever, "on" a program or series before it gets big or wins awards or is hyped as the next "best thing ever".

Case in point: "Seinfeld". I had heard of it, but had never watched it when it was in it's early years. I'm in a car with fellow SSJ Michael and he is talking about it and keeps saying that "dude, you are George. You are SO George." I had no idea what he was talking about, nor would he explain how I was "so George". So, my interest piqued, I watched. And watched and kept watching.

In the DVD age that we are now in, I've only bought 2 TV series. They are Ken Burns' "The Civil War" and "Seinfeld". I can, and have, watched both of these multiple times. As for "Seinfeld", I'm anxiously waiting for season 8 to come out in June.

Which brings me to "The Sopranos". As I've mentioned before, I have never had HBO, so I've never seen any series produced or aired on HBO. But with this being the final season (as I understand) of "The Sopranos", I'm seeing article after article talking about how it is the greatest TV series ever. EVER. Can that be? I mean, the reviewers and pundits and authors can't ALL be wrong, can they? So now I'm thinking, I have to check it out. I have to watch it.

I'm trying to decide if I want to start buying the DVD's, starting with season 1. My concern is that while it may be great, will it and can it stand up to multiple viewings, ala "Seinfeld". Or will I watch all the episodes, say yes, that was very good, even great, but never watch them again?

In thinking about the multiple viewing question, is that something inherent to the comedy genre? How many times have I watched the great comedies over and over again? Even though I know the story, the jokes, the twists, it is still entertaining and I still laugh out loud at the same time every time. But with a drama, when you know the outcome, does it lose something?Loses the "kick" or "punch"? And therein lies my conundrum. If "The Sopranos" is a great as the hype is suggesting, it should be able to pass the multiple viewing test.

What to do? What to do....


I struggled to finish. I usually don't have a problem getting through Michener and for the past few years I have been reading lots of stuff about this part of the world. Perhaps it was the difficultly trying to follow characters with very similar names (Russians, Aleuts, Inuit, etc.). Or it was that I really wasn't as interested in the history of Alaska as I thought I would be. Whatever the reason, I was bored with it about halfway through and only finished because I hate not finishing a book I start. Not his best effort.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

English-speaking Peoples

Roberts has gone too far. His attack on The X-Files as indicative of the English-speaking peoples' tendency to question authority and look for conspiracies is beyond the pale.

OK, I know he was, as a former boss of mine used to say engaging in a literary device, "I exaggerate to illustrate." But, The X-Files? How else am I to fall asleep at night?


Ugly and unfair review today in the NYT Book Review. The authors are apparently well-qualified to review Buckley's book, having written this masterpiece.

My review of Boomsday here.