Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cults of Personality: Romania, Lebanon,...

A Romanian who lived through the Ceau┼čescu cult of personality, and now lives in Lebanon, warns that Nasrallah's Hisb'allah party is pretty much the same thing:

I thought the danger is there, in the cult of personality, lingering in the secrecy, in the spying, in the songs indoctrinating people.... If it were a state, Hezbollah would operate a dictatorship.
Read the whole thing, and see if you can spot emerging examples in Western countries, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This just in...

"Weekend Update" is not a real newscast.
Who knew?

via LabRat

ACORN:NOLA Embezzlement Total Grows

According to a story at the embezzlement covered up by ACORN was a lot more than previously reported:

Louisiana's attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis said the new reported amount is "completely false."
Well, Bertha, we've established what you are; now we're just quibbling over the price.

And as long as we're quibbling, I'll put on my language martinet hat a moment. Can people stop using phrases like "five times more"? If $1,000,000 was previously reported, "five times more" would be "$5,000,000 more" than that $1,000,000 for a total of $6,000,000. Even if you don't read it that way, can we agree the "____ times more" construction is at best ambiguous? Just say "five times as much", OK. (And don't get me started on "____ times less"; suffice to say that times and less don't make much sense together).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Problem With "Experts"

Over at Watts Up With That, one of the comments was so good that Anthony decided it deserved to be an article in its own right. This is something I find the Dextrosphere and talk radio do very well: We don't just dispense the news ex cathedra as the MainScream Media does. They seem so protective of their lofty status as gatekeepers that they won't allow anyone else to steal the spotlight from them.

Although he puts on a show of being a bombastic egomaniac, Rush Limbaugh knows when to shut up and let a caller carry the show. So does Neal Boortz. Back in the old days of, Bill Whittle called one of my comments "profound", setting in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to the creation of this site. Neither Anthony, Rush, Neal, or Bill bothered to check the resumés of "Caleb Shaw", "Susan in Glendale", "Vick the Ranger", or "The Monster". It wasn't important who we were. What mattered was what we had to say.

Contrast this with the Gorebots who make the classic appeal to authority ("The science is in; the IPCC report says AGW is for real, and anyone who disagrees is a denier"); the technocrats who insisted that out of 300 million Americans, the only person who could fix our troubled financial markets was Timothy "Turbo Tax" Geithner; or the identity-politics crowd who insisted that "a wise Latina" would make a better Justice, or a Halfrican American who went to Indonesian madrassas could, simply by being who he is and assuming the office of POTUS, heal all our ills both foreign and domestic.

Over the course of my life I've learned from many people. Of course I've gained much from exposure to the writings and speeches of great intellects, but I've known people who were stoners of Jeff Spicoli's ilk, and people classified as mentally retarded, who have uttered nuggets of wisdom that have served me well. Smart people think that they are so much smarter than the common man that they are justified in ruling by force over them. Truly wise people recognize that no matter how smart they may be, they don't know everything, and that generally, everyone knows the most about his own life.