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« DVD Journal: "Sansho the Bailiff" | Main | Closed Open Minds »

July 26, 2007


Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Yoga wants you to forget the six-pack.

* Lester Hunt shares some enthusiasm for (and some smart reservations about) "Ratatouille."

* Yahmdallah imparts a little too much wisdom to his 2 1/2 year old daughter.

* Josh Oakhurst prefers to wait for the DVD.

* The cat who can predict when people will die. (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin.)

* Do you need to know anything more than this about acting?

* I heart ultra-slow motion.

* Well, it sure beats pumping iron and organizing gang fights. (Link thanks to the Communicatrix.)

* Katie Hutchison wonders what it is that makes a small building charming. You can ask Katie for architectural advice here.

* Sylvia Kristel, who starred in the pioneer classy-soft-core movie "Emmanuelle," talks to the Telegraph about her roller coaster of a life.

* Vince Keenan has some words of praise for Glenn Ford.

* Jewish Atheist recalls what it was like to grow up Orthodox. "What I experienced was not a community courageously combining modernity with its sacred beliefs, but one threatened by reality," he writes.

* Get to know Tyler Cowen a little bit better. Maybe he'll even customize a podcast just for you. Buy Tyler's new book here.

* Steve Sailer wonders if the lefties who love immigrants know how macho Latinos can be.

* David Pogue looks over his first AT&T bill for his iPhone and feels the bile rise.

* Roger Scruton makes the case for a conservative environmentalism.

* Thanks to Peter Winkler for pointing out this very amusing Joe Dante-sponsored "Trailers from Hell" website.

* MBlowhard Rewind: I wrote an introduction to the wonderful Mediterranean Revival architect and promoter Addison Mizner here.



posted by Michael at July 26, 2007


Six-pack abs -- pretty sure those only impress gay guys. Ditto for big pecs. Exceptional girls don't matter, as always; talking about what's expected far and away.

Arms, shoulders, back... I think that's pretty much it as far as muscle development that reliably catches a girl's eye.

Posted by: Agnostic on July 26, 2007 8:43 PM

Based on Mr. Pogue's assessment and irregardless of Apple's recent fabulous earnings announcements, it may be time to dump your Apple stock while the getting's good and not buy until they dump ATT ASAP.

Posted by: DarkoV on July 26, 2007 8:52 PM

Roger Scruton, for all his wisdom shows the problems with a conservative environmentalism (which should be a snap if conservatives wanted to conserve).

In his article he spends a great deal of time elucidating the motives of the Left and environmentalims in general. Now, everyone knows that discussing the motivations of your opponent is a form of denial which does not address the issue. I mean, what would you think if you announced that the roof was leaking water, and the person who you told to, instead of going up and looking wondered why would you say such a thing, and what are the quirks of your personality and what is your personal philosophy?

Eitehr a problem exists or it doesnt' and the reasons for announcing or denying it should not count in assessing the evidence (although lazyness is a big factor in saying that it does not exist... As Bob the dinosaur explains to Dilbert: I say yes, and it is more work for me, I say no and it is more work for you... Decisions.. decisions.. Since saying no means for many that they can continue sitting on their asses, you can expect always a lot of denial).

If he wants to launch conservative solutions he has to fight agaisnt the perception that conservatives do not have a solution. After all, people want solutions, come where they come, and for a long time conservatives did not bring any, except denigration of the motives of those who proposed solutions. People will prefer a good soluiton to a bad one, of course, but they prefer a bad solution to none at all.

Conservatives have a lot of catching up to do

Posted by: Adriana on July 27, 2007 8:46 AM


I try to read both sides of the environmental issues... particularly global warming.

National Geographic recently ran an entire issue on the subject, and superficially, it was very convincing. I'm sure a lot of it has some basis in fact.

However, here's the rub. I've met the managing editor of National Geographic. Years ago, I met him at a very far left political function. In fact, he was kind enough to put me up at his home for several nights. So, I've got to factor political bias into National Geo's coverage. Although you might think that this magazine is impartial, it is not. The editorial and writing staff is very left wing, very anti-war (in every instance that a Republican is president), and reliably far left wing on social issues.

National Geo's got a dog in the fight. (I'm just using this magazine as an example.) I don't know whether global warming is fact, whether it is a natural occurence, or whether it does real harm. But I do know that promoting fear about global warming does help the editorial staff of National Geo advance its pet political causes.

That editorial staff is very opposed to the Reagan doctrine of allowing the market to do its work. Although that doctrine, and its view of environmentalism, is stated in a very negative way by the left, I'll state it in its positive form.

The creation of wealth and the workings of a free market will solve the world's environmental problems. As people become wealthy, they become more concerned with the environment. I've seen this in my life. I grew up in a poor, factory/farm community in the 1950s. Poor people are so desperate for basic necessities that they just don't give a damn whether they dump poison in the creek. Wealthy people, on the other hand, become very concerned about their aesthetic environment. And they have the money to do something about it.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 27, 2007 9:09 AM

Six-pack abs have relatively little to do with muscular development and a great deal to do with low body fat.

Posted by: Peter on July 27, 2007 9:51 AM


You are also an exponent of the trouble that conservatives have selling their own version of environmentalism

How are you going to convince people that you have a solution for a problem that they think is there if what you say is

"There is no problem"

'People who say that there is a problem do it for ideological reasos"

"But if tehre is a problem, it will solve itself"

That's not a way to sell yourself as a problem-solver, you know...

Posted by: Adriana on July 27, 2007 10:56 AM

I didn't present myself as a "problem-solver." Quite the opposite, in fact.

I presented myself as someone who is very skeptical of problem solvers. I always assume that that, in one way or another, problem solvers are pursuing their own self-interests and masking that behind assertions of their sainthood.

Having lived in the middle of the environmental movement for decades, I have no doubt that much of what passes for environmentalism is, in fact, people pushing a far left view that government regulation is the solution for all humanity's problems.

And, yes, problems do have a habit of solving themselves. Think of the Marxist insistence that only a communist government can lead to individual freedom and material plenty for all. Then, think about what has really happened. Technology created by those awful capitalists is leading to almost unimagineable personal freedom. You cannot suppress the incredible freedom created by the personal computer and internet revolutions. And, the great merchandising kingdoms of WalMart, Costco, etc., are driving the costs of basic goods down to levels the commies never could deliver.

A poor person in the U.S. almost always has a serviceable car, a color TV, a mess of electronic appliances and a diet that leads to obesity. This great achievement was created by the market, not by governmental regulation.

So, yes, I do expect the market left alone, to solve problems that liberals expect government regulation to solve. I expect that, as people become more educated and richer, they will demand that the environment that they experience be clean and safe.

Problem solvers are a big problem. They are usually just trying to create a job for themselves at somebody else's expense. And, yes, I do believe that the editors and writers at National Geo are equally motivated by their neo-Marxist leftist ideals... at least as much as by true concern about the environment. Not incidently, those editors and writers are quite wealthy and live in very nice houses and drive very expensive cars.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 27, 2007 11:29 AM

Agnostic -- The new rules of the game baffle me, so thanks for guidance. Back in the day, guys didn't need to worry about being buff. Not being a fat slob was pretty much enough, so far as body qualifications went. It's funny to look at '70s porn now. Well, for many reasons, of course. But one is that the guys in it simply aren't built and cut like pornguys are (or many collegeboys are) these days. Skinny arms and narrow chests are as common as bad moustaches.

DarkoV -- Apple seems to have licked a lot of the design challenges where the gadget is concerned. But it sure seems like time for them to address the rest of the cellphone experience ...

Adriana -- Funny how some righties are so very wary of getting within 100 miles of environmentalism, isn't it? It's as though they don't really see the connections between "conservative" and "conservation."

ST -- I don't know nuttin' about global warming either. I do know, though, that there are lots of eco-people and environmento people who aren't Gore-NPR-dreadlock-global-warming types, despite the way that that crowd seems to have taken over being the public face of eco-concerns. Forget 'em, sez I. The eco-world is full of cranks (of a type I like), hunters and fishers, people who like ducks a lot, people who like tasty food, people who hate the fact that gorillas and manatees are suffering pointlessly, or who are wary of what's seeping into drinking water. Some of the eco-worlds bleed into the good-food-and-drink-and-eatin' world too, which is hard to resist. A good glass of wine, a nice artisanal cheese, air that's good to breathe, some chirping birds, some pleasant rolling hills that haven't been clearcut ... Hey, you're an environmentalist.

Peter -- Oh, body fat. That. Damn.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 27, 2007 11:30 AM


A tip. You'd be wise to avoid the nonword, irregardless, when you mean regardless or, perhaps, irrespective. Irregardless has always been associated with subliteracy.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 27, 2007 1:23 PM


I've consulted Wilson Follett's Modern American Usage, edited and completed by Jacques Barzon in collaboration with Carlos Baker, Frederick W. Dupee, Dudley Fitts, James D. Hart, Phyllis McGinley, and Lionel Trilling.

"A barbarism is an expression in the mouth of an educated speaker which is so at variance with good sense that it startles the hearer. When a speaker says somewheres, anywheres...he commits barbarisms. The same holds true of irregardless... The inventor of the term guidance counselor has barbarism in him by birthright; that is, a total blindness to logic... Barbarisms, though unforgivable in a professional writer, can be condoned in laymen if they will take the cure: the barbarism must first be spotted, then uprooted by conscious effort."

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 27, 2007 1:58 PM

Mr. Wheeler,
Ouch! Or is that ucchh? Thanks for the correction. I'll strive to keep that erroneous redundancy for regardless out of my vocabulary.

Posted by: DarkoV on July 27, 2007 2:12 PM

Bless my father's subliterate memory. "Irregardless" was one of his favorite words. He also had a way of mispronouncing "inevitable" that was priceless. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on July 27, 2007 2:21 PM

R.S. Wheeler,
In regard to your directives on barbarism (or is it "with regards to"?): surely, you mean Jacques Barzun, not Barzon?

Posted by: Tatyana on July 27, 2007 2:55 PM

What if global warming is caused by the variations in the energy output of the sun, and has nothing to do with the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere?

The sun is responsible for all of our earth's surface warming. The energy from the sun absorbed by our atmosphere raises the termperature from close to absolute zero (-415 degrees F) to an average moderate temperature of about 60 degrees F, for a total of 475 degrees on average. Do you think that a 0-5% variation in this output might have the most impact on average temperature? Zero to 5% of 500 degrees is 0-25 degrees of average temperature!

How do we smooth out the variations of the sun by driving a Prius? This is why credulous acceptance of global warming is so ludicrous, and why politicians who say that the debate is over are not only nuts, but dangerous nuts. The only real environmental damage I am concerned with is that from industrial and consumerist pollution, and a great way to reduce that is to keep our population down and end the open borders policy of our country.

Posted by: BIOH on July 27, 2007 2:57 PM


My mother taught English, so I am a literacy nazi. I hope you'll forgive my nitpicking. I'll take this moment to celebrate the elegant English employed by alias clio, consistently the best on this site.

Two Blowhards is largely devoted to aesthetics in the arts and literature, but the aesthetics of our English language escapes attention, which is too bad. I suspect that political correctness is involved: the world averts its eyes.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 27, 2007 3:04 PM

Steve Sailer: Diversity is supposed to overcome stereotypes, not reinforce them, so bringing in more Mexicans must be a victory for feminists.

This kind of thing is the reason--OK, one of hundred of reasons--that it's so hard to take Steve Sailer seriously. He has these really elaborate, fanciful ideas of what the liberals think, and they're really just drawn from thin air. Then he quotes an email from a reader who thinks that pinatas must totally cause a lot of concussions, 'cause Mexicans don't care about the well-being of their kids. Seems unlikely, but if some white dude with an internet connection thinks so that's good enough for me!

Posted by: BP on July 27, 2007 3:10 PM

BP -- I'm confused. I know lots of liberal-lefties. And most of them in fact are convinced of Sailer's two points: that diversity is always good and solves everthing, especially prejudice, and that more immigration is always good too. Around these friends I've often wondered "But what do you make of Latino macho, or mideastern shame-and-honor? It's not as if inviting masses of these people into our country is going to lead to more of the 'liberalness' that you otherwise value." It doesn't seem to me Sailer's wrong about this -- at least he certainly isn't mistaken about many of the leftie-libs that I know. Nothing's more common in my circles than leftie-libs who berate America for its prejudices yet love-love-love visiting (and taking in many people from) those adorable patriarchal folk cultures. Is your experience different?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 27, 2007 3:56 PM


Barzun, of course. My vision is poor.

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 27, 2007 5:48 PM


If your thesis, that the current global warming is a variation in the radiation coming from the sun, is valid, then the increased radiation must register on other planets in our solar system to the same degree and in the same time period, without exception. Since surface temperatures of these planets are known and have been recorded for some while, your thesis is easy to prove or disprove. Can you come up with evidence of warming on other planets that exactly replicates warming here, both in time and to degree?

Posted by: Richard S. Wheeler on July 27, 2007 5:57 PM


I find it curious the hostility of libertarian/conservative/free market types towards environmentalism considering that they share the same underlying assumption: that of an all powerful, *benevolent*, entity who will straighten things up if left alone.

Of course, for the conservative types it is the free market, while for the environmentalist it is Nature. Those entities are always wise, and arrange things for the best. If something goes wrong, it was because somebody tampered with them, and the solution is to let the balance of nature, or the invisible hand of the ecomony right things up.

The fallacy is in the *benevolent* part. Of course, things will right themselves up, and a solution will come up, but your individual fate will be another story. For all you know, you will be eaten alive by worms (thus providing them with needed food so taht tney can reproduce and continue the cycle of life...) As Chesterton said, do not assume what plans Nature has for you, she may be trying to turn you into centipedes, for all you know.

Has anyone see this parallel before?

Posted by: Adriana on July 27, 2007 6:14 PM

To answer your question briefly, Michael, yes, my experience has been different. I suspect this may be a generational thing.

I recently graduated from college, where I got to know a lot of lefty activists, and I am fairly good friends with some of them. I kept a certain distance myself from that milieu, I think because their approach didn't fit well with my personal, relatively more cautious and analytic, approach to the world. I have certain reservations about the contemporary young-radical-leftist project as I have come to understand it, but that is a subject for another time. I can honestly say that I largely admired and approved of most things these people were up to, and sometimes got peripherally involved myself.

This concept of diversity, as you and Steve Sailer describe it, is widely derided in these circles as an artifact of "white liberalism." They are, to be sure, concerned about things, like racial and gender oppression, that you would likely dismiss as "PC." But they recognize that the condition of "diversity" in America is tied together with group animosities, and that "celebrating" it won't do any good. Indeed, it rather implies that ethnic minorities exist for white peoples' amusement, and this notion could not survive the inclusion of actual members of those minorities within the left.

As for immigration, the lefties support it not because they think it is neat, but, as far as I can tell, out of a vague belief that the United States is morally obliged for humanitarian reasons to open its borders, or out of a quasi-anarchist hostility to the power of the nation-state. If these are your reasons for supporting immigration, then our judgments of the immigrants' values are irrelevant. They are allowed to live here, as are we, by virtue of their humanity.

I generally support more legal immigration, though I do not take it quite so far, in that I admit that there could be a necessity to regulate sheer numbers in accordance with our country's ability to sustain them. (I do find the moral reasoning compelling in the abstract; the project of evaluating people, of referring to them, as Sailer has, as "low-human capital" people, I find deeply repulsive and inhuman.) But they are totally aware that certain of their values--gender equality, gay rights, etc.--are at odds with traditional cultures. You and Sailer act as if they are oblivious. In fact these issues are discussed all the time. There are better and more nuanced answers than complete cultural relativism, or pan-cultural application of Western feminism, but you and Sailer would doubtless find the whole discussion silly. Still, it exists.

The differences between Sailer et al. and the young leftists beyond this are of course vast, and not important here. But I think it should be pointed out that Sailer's oft-repeated "insight" that the language of diversity is a way for elite liberals to congratulate themselves is not his, but the left's; you don't need to read very far into black radical literature of the 1960s, for example, to see that it has been around for a long time, too.

Now, arguably I am talking about a fringe, and the mainstream is still dominated by baby-boomer white liberal thought. I am not sure this is true; these ideas do seem to seep outward. But even if it is, certainly not even the most clueless liberal has ever argued that more racial diversity, per se, would also bring about greater gender equality. This is purely a flight of Sailer's fancy.

That's all. I know this post is badly written, but it's late and I'm too tired to edit it. I hope my point got across.

Posted by: BP on July 28, 2007 1:42 AM

BP -- That's interesting, and thanks for the bulletin. Funny to learn that the young lefties you knew mocked the fixation on diversity that so many have these days. Was this a particularly radical crowd? I ask because most of the young people I meet these days seem to buy into the diversity fantasies, in an unspoken kind of way.

So far as Sailer goes ... Well, he's clearly not describing your friends. (I doubt he'd claim that pointing out that libs often back policies mainly because it makes them feel virtuous and good is original too. I was around in the '60s and although it was a joke many people were sharing then, it seemed like it already had a considerable vintage.) And I don't think he's saying that any leftie would explicitly argue that diversity is good for feminism, for instance. He's mocking the general mindset, which includes many contradictory parts: worship of the primitive, warm-and-cuddly feelings about early 20th century immigration, fantasies about redemption-via-politics, "gender equality," etc. Few lefties would say flat-out, for instance, that 1) there is no such thing as IQ but 2) I have a higher IQ than you do. (Another of Sailer's jokes.) But many of them do act that way, and hold both beliefs -- I can't tell you how common it is to run into NYC-style lefties, for instance, who forbid all discussion of intelligence, except when it comes to their own college degrees, and the fact that their kid got into Harvard. They aren't making the argument, but they are acting it out. So many of Sailer's jibes strike me as amusingly well-aimed -- he's mocking and needling a whole gestalt, not a debating platform.

But clearly he -- and I -- ought to be introduced to your college friends. Eager to hear more about them.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 28, 2007 6:11 AM

BP is talking about many young leftists I also knew in college (not long ago). As in the '60s, their main enemies were establishment liberals, not conservatives. They mocked liberals' belief in diversity as an amusement; affirmative action is meant to correct historical injustices, in the young leftie's view. And they mock "White guilt," saying that instead of feeling guilty and crying, you should just go do something to help out Black people (or whoever).

As silly as the "diversity will vibrantize our community" argument is, at least it could pass out of fashion. But the "correcting historial injustices" poses the danger of never going away -- ugly history will always be there asking to be corrected. It doesn't matter that Jim Crow, WASP preferences, and so on, haven't existed for a half-century: poor-performing groups will always be "burdened by the legacy" of X.

It's a rather totalitarian argument, surely one that a warmonger would use to keep us in a perpetual state of war.

In any case, I think the young lefties will grow into the establishment libs who Sailer pokes fun at. After all, the New Left of the '60s didn't start out how they ended up, and they started out pretty similar to the new New Left. So, Sailer's right to take on the establishment liberal worldview -- they're the ones with power and influence, after all, not New Left college students.

Posted by: Agnostic on July 28, 2007 12:25 PM

Richard S. Wheeler, ">Try this.

Part of posting the solar-related warming as a question was to get people thinking and doing some research on their own.

Posted by: BIOH on July 28, 2007 4:09 PM

Well, first of all what prompted my original comment was Sailer's straw-liberal belief that more immigration would bring about greater gender equality, which is a silly straw man no matter what kind of liberals we're talking about. Maybe I should have left it at that.

But anyway...So many of Sailer's jibes strike me as amusingly well-aimed -- he's mocking and needling a whole gestalt, not a debating platform.

Kind of. First, all this mockery for mockery's sake is itself a reason not to take the guy very seriously. Also, the mockery isn't very good. It's a bit like when liberals mock religious people--sometimes they score points, but you get the sense they're mocking something they don't know first hand and don't understand.

More than that, though, you get the sense that for Sailer white liberals' hypocrisy actually proves something beyond the fact that they are hypocrites. For example, white liberals don't like their kids going to school with too many black kids. So a lefty radical might say this shows the white liberals are also racist. Sailer on the other hand would tend to say that it shows that racial solidarity and tribalism is inherent in the human condition. It really doesn't follow.

Now, of course the young lefties I'm talking about are a fringe and don't have power. Remember I brought them up in answer to your asking me whether my experience has been different, so I told you what my experience was. I never denied that the mainstream of liberalism in America is closer to what Sailer ineptly caricatures.

That said, I would take issue with this, from agnostic: In any case, I think the young lefties will grow into the establishment libs who Sailer pokes fun at. After all, the New Left of the '60s didn't start out how they ended up, and they started out pretty similar to the new New Left.

The difference is that in the 60s the student protest movement was much, much bigger and more fashionable. Now it is not, and the students who belong to it are a quite small self-selected group. They tend to go on to work in the non-profit sector, or into academia.

This is relevant because some conservatives like to talk about "the left" as a unified block that includes both the editors of the Nation, and Ivy League sociology departments, but they are examples of two opposing strains within the left. You will not find any college sociology professor talking about "diversity," ever. It's mostly corporate consultants who do that now. So I wonder where this reluctance to engage the substance of actual ideas on the left comes from, instead of treating it as a single block that can be dismissed by making fun of a few silly ideas.

Finally, though this is off-topic, I have to note that affirmative action, whatever you think of its efficacy, is intended to correct presently existing injustices, not past ones. Of course present injustices have their origins in the past--this is almost a tautology. But the mere existence of injustice in the past is not put forward as an argument for affirmative action; its persistence into the present is.

Posted by: BP on July 28, 2007 7:12 PM


BS. Affirmative Action is illegal and was never meant to redress anything. It was meant to steal jobs and opportunities away from white men, period. So concerned with justice are ya? What form of justice is it to penalize someone who has done nothing wrong and award it to someone who has not been wronged? We have individual justice in this country, based on facts of individual cases, not group rights based on group differences and grievances. Your version of justice is simply institutional injustice, and you like it because you personally haven't been affected, but it makes you feel morally superior. Its an abomination and should be done away with as fast as possible.

Most of us don't like blacks. That's our perogative in a free country. The government has no business trying to force us together with them and demanding we hire them, or trying to control or redistribute our property to them. Its just a tacit admission that they aren't equal to whites. It they can't compete and do well on their own, then what the hell are they doing here?

White people will hire anybody if they think they can make money off them. Look at how people are hiring mexicans, shipping jobs to Asia, etc. Nobody wants black labor, not even other blacks! The story that blacks were discriminated against in the job market in the past is a myth. They were hired at the level that they could competently handle, and it wasn't much. Face it, blacks can't compete now, couldn't compete in the past, and will never be able to compete in the future. Those of us who have had to work with the quota blacks know the truth. I don't wish them ill, but I don't owe them one damn thing. Once AA is over, they're finished. It'll happen. As for you, be generous with your own job and money and leave the rest of us alone. Prove your own moral superiority to yourself. Nobody else cares about your moral superiority. We'll take real justice and fairness instead.

Posted by: BIOH on July 29, 2007 10:11 PM

Should 2BH be condemned or congratulated for continually allowing BIOH to express racist drivel as if it were a valid contribution to civil dialogue? Does the fact that BIOH needs only a mild retort before he shifts into personal attack mode add to or diminish the quality of 2BH discussions?

Like the loudmouth at the party who tells a crass, racist, joke the question, especially for the host, is whether to confront or ignore him. Confrontation usually sets in motion an unpleasant argument with little hope of resolution because loudmouthed racists generally believe themselves innocent victims of a hostile new world that in their minds has destroyed wholesome traditional values ... like white male (white men's?) superiority; thus it is esy to understand why confrontation is a difficult choice to make. Ignoring them may keep the party rolling along more or less normally, but in this case, questions linger that might cast a long shadow. Do all those who ignore the racist comments agree with them? Does my silence bespeak of cowardice, acquiescence or resignation? Should I leave the party now and be less likely to come back in the future?

As you might imagine, I'm the party pooper who will often pipe up to say that I didn't appreciate a comment I find demeaning, disrespectful or just plain stupidly wrong aimed at gays or blacks or women or Jews or ...

So, BIOH, I strongly urge you to find a good therapist to explore the real source of your rage and help you deal with it beyond racist scapegoating.

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2007 9:20 AM

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