“They will note the breathtaking naiveté of American and European officials who let a brutal theocracy undermine Western interests throughout the Middle East”
“They will note the breathtaking naiveté of American and European officials who let a brutal theocracy undermine Western interests throughout the Middle East,” he writes for The Daily Beast:
At one of Iran’s most vulnerable moments, America threw the mullahs a life-line; an ill-conceived nuclear deal coupled with a complete inability to stop Syria, Iran’s closest ally, from continuing to slaughter en masse. Western diplomats speak optimistically of a deal with Syria in Geneva, while the region’s thugs use force of arms to impose their will.
Reid Wilson writes: No professional sports teams have to travel farther than the Seattle Mariners and the Seattle Seahawks to get to their nearest rivals. The shortest trips they can take for an away game is about 800 miles south along Interstate 5 to the Bay Area, to play the Oakland Athletics or the San Francisco 49ers.
That means Seattle teams don’t really have natural rivalries. Those closest rivals are, to be frank, more storied franchises. On rivalry weekends during Major League Baseball season, the A’s are matched against the San Francisco Giants. The Mariners are artificially paired with the San Diego Padres or some other orphan team. The so-called rivalry between the Seahawks and the 49ers, which the booth announcers will advertise endlessly when the two teams meet in the NFC championship this weekend, is a much more recent development. The 49ers are more traditionally rivals of the Dallas Cowboys and other, older NFL teams.
The Seattle Supersonics could claim a rivalry with the Portland Trailblazers, but then they left for Oklahoma City (Editorializing alert: The author, a Seattle native, remains unhappy with Oklahoma City and plans to hold that grudge for quite a while). The feud between fans of the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders, in the MLS, is real enough, but the rivalry cupboard is bare in baseball and football.
Welcome To ‘Fundamentally Changed America’
A famed actress is facing backlash in San Francisco’s Latino community, after she voiced support for a conservative candidate for California governor.
Maria Conchita Alonso starred in a campaign ad for Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino County, a Tea Party favorite who is seeking the Republican nomination.
Donnelly has voiced strong views against illegal immigration and was once involved with the Minutemen Project, a group that patrolled the border with Mexico to catch immigrants coming across.
“Politicians and big government are killing our prosperity, pushing welfare costs through the roof and driving our schools into the ground,” Donnelly said in the ad.
Thomas Doherty writes: As the last episodes of Breaking Bad were counting down, AMC’s promo pop-ups kept badgering viewers to partake of something called “the two-screen experience.” Rather than sitting inert before a single 50-inch flat screen, you should log on to the show’s website and participate in real-time chats and interactive razzle-dazzle. Me, I kept thinking: Breaking Bad is the best show on television, a text well worth my undivided attention. What the heck do I want with distracting digital clutter? One screen is plenty.
Increasingly, though, that is a minority opinion. For many viewers, critics, and scholars, the second (and third, fourth, and fifth) screen is as good as the first. In some quarters, the decorative wraparound material—the term of art is “paratext”—is outshining the prize in the box. The irritating distractions have morphed into the main attractions.
Rich Lowry writes: If you don’t know who “they” are, you haven’t been watching the news or reading the papers.
Usually, it takes winning the GOP presidential nomination for a Republican media darling to experience such an onslaught of gleefully negative press coverage. John McCain was the straight-talking maverick right up until the moment he effectively clinched the nomination in 2008 — immediately triggering a thinly sourced New York Times report insinuating an affair with a lobbyist.
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has gotten his disillusioning out of the way early, if he needed it. An occupational hazard of a certain kind of Republican is wanting to be loved by the wrong people. If the past week hasn’t cured Christie of that tendency, nothing will.
Heather Mac Donald: Don’t listen to today’s narcissistic academics—the West’s cultural inheritance is indispensablePosted: January 18, 2014
The Humanities and Us
Heather Mac Donald writes: In 2011, the University of California at Los Angeles decimated its English major. Such a development may seem insignificant, compared with, say, the federal takeover of health care. It is not. What happened at UCLA is part of a momentous shift in our culture that bears on our relationship to the past—and to civilization itself.
Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements and replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability, and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing. In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent as to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton, or Shakespeare, but was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”
A startup called Siluria thinks it’s solved a mystery that has stymied huge oil companies for decades.
For MIT Technology Review, Kevin Bullis writes: At a pilot plant in Menlo Park, California, a technician pours white pellets into a steel tube and then taps it with a wrench to make sure they settle together. He closes the tube, and oxygen and methane—the main ingredient of natural gas—flow in. Seconds later, water and ethylene, the world’s largest commodity chemical, flow out. Another simple step converts the ethylene into gasoline.
The white pellets are a catalyst developed by the Silicon Valley startup Siluria, which has raised $63.5 million in venture capital. If the catalysts work as well in a large, commercial scale plant as they do in tests, Siluria says, the company could produce gasoline from natural gas at about half the cost of making it from crude oil—at least at today’s cheap natural-gas prices.
If Siluria really can make cheap gasoline from natural gas it will have achieved something that has eluded the world’s top chemists and oil and gas companies for decades. Indeed, finding an inexpensive and direct way to upgrade natural gas into more valuable and useful chemicals and fuels could finally mean a cheap replacement for petroleum.
From The Washington Post: Viewed from Washington, which often is the last to learn about important developments, opposition to the Common Core State Standards Initiative still seems as small as the biblical cloud that ariseth out of the sea, no larger than a man’s hand. Soon, however, this education policy will fill a significant portion of the political sky.
The Common Core represents the ideas of several national organizations (of governors and school officials) about what and how children should learn. It is the thin end of an enormous wedge. It is designed to advance in primary and secondary education the general progressive agenda of centralization and uniformity.