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  1. Painter Babes
  2. Spring Comes to Manhattan
  3. Magazine Design
  4. Critiques of the Imperial Status Quo
  5. More Good Texas Listening
  6. It's All in the Nose
  7. "I Don't Love You Much"
  8. Two New Group Blogs
  9. Economics California-Style
  10. Dude Linkage

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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Painter Babes
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- There were lots of really nice-looking gals around when I was in art school. That was back around 1960 when it wasn't considered a near-crime for women to snag a husband in time for college graduation. So a lot of sorority girls would major in art or music or Home Economics and, if all went well by their Junior or Senior years, walk the halls of ivy sporting a fraternity pin or engagement ring. On the other hand, attractive female artists were nothing new, even by 1960. I could conjure up some possible causes such as social background and selective breeding, but will leave it to Comments for better-informed speculation. Below are some examples for your consideration. Angelica Kauffmann - self portrait - 1787 Kauffmann (1741-1807) was born in Switzerland and had a highly successful career working in several countries. Among other achievements, she was a founding member of London's Royal Academy. Élisabeth Vigée-Lebrun - self portraits c.1782 and 1790 Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) was also very successful, painting several portraits of Queen Marie-Antoinette while still in her twenties. She had to flee France after the Revolution, but returned a few years after Napoleon seized power. Berthe Morisot - photograph and Portrait by Éduard Manet, 1870 Morisot (1841-95) was one of the original Impressionists. She came from a family with wealth, was painted on several occasions by her friend Manet, eventually marrying his brother Eugène. Elin Danielson - self-portraits, 1900 and 1903 Danielson (1861-1919) was a Finnish artist whose biography can be found here. Suzanne Valadon - drawing by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, photo Valadon (1865-1938) began as an artist's model, posing for several Renoir paintings. She took up art and was largely self-taught, but received encouragement and tips from Toulouse-Lautrec and Degas, who admired her drawing ability. She was the mother of painter Maurice Utrillo. Elaine and Willem de Kooning, 1952 Elaine (1918-89), wife of Willem de Kooning for a time, is perhaps best known for her portraits of President Kennedy. Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning Birthday - self-portrait by Dorothea Tanning, 1942 Tanning (b. 1910) was the fourth and final wife of Surrealist painter Max Ernst. She changed from Surrealism to nearly-abstract painting and later became as writer as well. What other artists qualify for this Pantheon? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at April 5, 2008 | perma-link | (19) comments

Spring Comes to Manhattan
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- If you keep your eyes open you can glean evidence that the vegetation is once again stirring. All of you who live in less urban settings: Now's your chance to gloat. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 5, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

Friday, April 4, 2008

Magazine Design
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- MagCulture's interview with British magazine-design legend David Hillman supplies lots of info and context. Hard to believe that not all that long ago magazines had the kind of excitement and buzz about them that web-products do today, isn't it? One especially nice stretch: For me the best magazines are the ones where you can sense the enjoyment of the people who made it. Exactly. They are few and far between these days ... One thing I found difficult was the a period ten years or so ago when photographers like Jurgen Teller and Terry Richardson were shooting pictures of girls that looked like they were about three minutes away from dying. And I remember being in Paris with Harry Peccinotti and I happened to have a magazine with some of these pictures in it, and I said to him, what happened to the days when you used to go through a model’s book and think, who do I want to fuck? Not that we went around fucking models all the time… …that was my next question… …but models were real people. I used to fall in love every day. I’ve done a few photographic sessions recently and a lot of these girls you can’t even have a conversation with. We used to all go out to dinner together after a shoot and have a really fun evening. Most models now I can only just about bear being in the studio with them. That’s not being snobbish, they’re just so young and un-worldly. Link thanks to Michael Bierut. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 4, 2008 | perma-link | (3) comments

Critiques of the Imperial Status Quo
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Steve Sailer wonders why NATO is expanding. * Tom Piatak is tired of dogmatic, wet-behind-the-ears "free traders." * Allan Wall reports that Mexicans are rooting for Hillary. (UPDATE: Thanks to Bryan for pointing out this amazing L.A. Times story.) Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 4, 2008 | perma-link | (37) comments

More Good Texas Listening
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Running across wonderful culturestuff just makes a person want to share, you know what I mean? First up: Hayes Carll and friends doing his irresistable "It's a Shame": "It's a shame / We ain't lovers ..." -- seriously, that's some brilliant lyric-writing: conversational, sly, affable, deadpan-yet-poetic ... Next: Lyle Lovett doing his eerily lyrical "If I Had a Boat": Can someone help me here? Is what Lyle does with this song postmodern and flip? Or religious and beautiful? Here's Hayes Carll's MyTurn page, where you can sample more of his music and check his touring schedule. (Don't miss his raucous "She Left Me for Jesus.") It was thanks to Scott Chaffin that I learned about Hayes Carll in the first place. Here's Lyle Lovett's website. I linked back here to a fab video of legendary alt-shitkicker Ray Wylie Hubbard. Early on I rhapsodized about bar-band genius Delbert McClinton and blues immortal T-Bone Walker. And my enthusiasm for that melancholic bard Townes Van Zandt is all over this blog. Speaking of which ... Has anyone got a plausible explanation for why it is that Texas produces so much great music? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 4, 2008 | perma-link | (5) comments

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's All in the Nose
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Omigosh indeed. A fun and apt response from FvBlowhard, to whom I earlier emailed a link to this vid: "Wowee! That certainly upsets a lot of assumptions about art-making! Unless the elephant was elaborately trained to do that. Well, wait a minute, I guess I was trained to do some art stuff, too. Well, that’s one interesting elephant, trained or au naturel!" Best, and wishing I had half that creature's style, Michael... posted by Michael at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

"I Don't Love You Much"
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Just because I've been listening to this beautiful performance over and over for the last 30 minutes: Here's Emmylou Harris' website. I wrote about Emmylou back here. Here's Guy Clark's website. Newbies to Guy: I suggest starting with this amazing (and bargain-priced) CD, or maybe this one. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (3) comments

Two New Group Blogs
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * From the right: a new group blog by contributors to The American Conservative, edited by Daniel McCarthy. * From whatever side of the spectrum it is that libertarians inhabit: a new group blog from the Independent Institute. Best, Michael UPDATE: Thanks to TGGP, who points out another rewarding new group blog, The Art of the Possible, where the excellent Kevin Carson posts frequently.... posted by Michael at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (2) comments

Economics California-Style
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards Edwin Rubenstein thinks that, without illegal immigration to contend with, California would be able to balance its budget. Philip Romero writes that mass immigration is hurting California in other ways too. Key passage: The dirty secret of too many of our industries is that they have been able to avoid modernizing -- finding ways to be more productive, usually by substituting machines for labor -- because they have been able to exploit cheap labor. In the short run, this keeps costs, and therefore prices, low. In the long run, their failure to update will cause them to lose the productivity race to foreign competitors. So turning a blind eye to illegal immigration is undermining the competitiveness of many American industries, and will cost Americans jobs in the future. Link thanks to FvBlowhard. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (0) comments

Dude Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Alt-porn director-photgrapher Dave Naz takes Oriana on a date. (NSFW) * What Men Think wonders why women so often want their men along when they go clothes-shopping. * Yahmdallah cringes at "Shortbus" and recalls some early experiences with porn. * How likely is fidelity? Not very. * Dennis Mangan discusses a map of the U.S. that shows where there are more galz than guyz. (UPDATE: Thanks to Peter, who points out that HalfSigma has teased out further info from this map here.) * Download podcasts of WhiskyPrajer's excellent short stories here. * Feeling uninspired? Then it's time to spend a few minutes with some retro pin-ups. (NSFW, and thanks to Charlton Griffin.) * I'm a little late in running across this, but what the heck: The Phallic Logo Awards. * Penetrating Insights profiles the man sometimes referred to as the "greatest actor in porn," Jamie Gillis. (Link thanks to Chip Smith.) * Ed Gorman enjoys a new Hard Case Crime volume of two Robert ("Psycho") Bloch novellas. * Vince Keenan mourns the passing of a couple of guy-movie greats: Richard Widmark and Jules Dassin. * A gal from Seattle has a few words of advice for the more hesitant among us. (NSFW, and thanks to Slumlord for the link.) Short version: "Seriously, grow a goddamn pair. YOU'RE the man. Act like one." * Learn about the addiction that affects more men than alcohol, tobacco, and drugs combined. (NSFW, and thanks to Charlton Griffin.) * Finally, a Jane Austen adaptation that the testosterone-addled can enjoy (NSFW, though not for visuals): From Crackle: Porn and Penetration * MBlowhard Rewind: I recalled some of the extremes of '70s feminism. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (20) comments

Doing Some Figuring
Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards, I’ve been doing some figuring lately. I thought the results were interesting enough to share. I wanted to look at U.S. economic growth independent of two factors that often distort it: inflation and population growth. After all, any economy can appear to grow if you distort the measuring stick (inflation) or add production inputs (people). The question is, how well is the economy doing at the job of creatively utilizing its productive inputs? I took the real U.S. GDP (that is, adjusted for inflation, all numbers in FY2000 dollars) at 1940, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2007, and divided each number by the official population of the country the same year, thus coming up with the real GDP per capita for that year. I then calculated the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for that decade. Of course, I used a 7-year "decade" instead of a 10-year decade for the current period. Obviously, the long-term trend is down. It seems to me that this graph suggests a good deal about the political life of our country over the past 70 years or so. Obviously during the 1940s, the 1950s and the 1960s, things were looking pretty good to the average citizen . Life and the paycheck were getting better. The New Deal consensus about how to run our country was firmly in place, and the extension of that New Deal, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programs, were a logical next step. The 1970s were obviously a big blow to this optimism. What could have gone wrong? The 1980s and the 1990s were perceived as rebounds from that horrible decade. The general consensus was that the economy had been rejuvenated by the impulse toward deregulation. The glories of the free market were trumpeted. The numbers suggest, however, that this widespread perception was a myth, at least economically: the rebound decades were actually less impressive than the so-called horrible decade. This misperception suggests to me that there is a bias in the media, and possibly in our national life, which is not liberal or conservative, exactly. It's a bias that focuses attention on the fortunes of the people at the top. If they’re doing well, then the country is doing well. And the people at the top have done very well over the past 27 years, although unfortunately not as a result of their incredibly successful economic management of the general economy. This graph also makes it pretty clear why there is a disjunction between elite opinion and mass opinion on currently high levels of immigration. If your compensation correlates with total GDP growth (and thus with asset values like stock prices) rather than per-capita GDP growth, you’d tend to support the notion that the antidote to slowing per person growth is, um, more people. Of course, if you’re just one of these people, you might prefer a different strategy, since what you’re seeing is a continually slowing rate of improvement in your lot (maybe none... posted by Friedrich at April 3, 2008 | perma-link | (14) comments

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

On Editors
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Some people consider me to be a pretty good editor. Well, the folks at the government agency where I used to work did. I suppose that's because I was able to strip out most of the governmentese phrasing, get the logic properly oriented and call attention to phrases that might cause us trouble if published or otherwise read by the wrong people. I was less skilled regarding the mechanics of grammar, however. Spelling, too. And when I was in Korea, I was nominally the editor of the 7th Logistical Command's newspaper. I'm not very fond of editors. Editors are a necessary evil. I think that most writers really aren't very good at evaluating their own work, especially immediately after they finish a block of writing. Someone with a fresh eye is usually necessary. For works in progress, this is often The Long-Suffering Spouse. For scholarly works, the extra eyeballs come in the form of colleagues or peers. But, eventually, the writing meets up with an editor. I wrote a book 30-some years ago, and the editing was minimal. Maybe that was because the subject matter was technical and an editor with the required knowledge wasn't available. I think the book suffered thanks to that production defect. On the other hand, I used to contribute articles to American Demographics magazine and sometimes could hardly recognize any of my verbiage when the printed version arrived in the mail. I don't think what I had produced was all that bad -- a little trimming and polishing would have been good enough. What bothered me about the heavily-edited stuff was that it had my byline, and by that point it was barely my work. I didn't gripe much because I was running a tiny business at the time and needed all the publicity I could get. For many writers, an important joy of blogging is that one can write without having the copy vetted by an editor. The downside is that a lot of the writing isn't nearly as good as it could be: I sometimes cringe when I reread some of my 2Blowhards postings. Dean Barnett, who now writes for the Weekly Standard, mentioned that his policy was to wait at least 20 minutes before posting a blog item. I think that's a good idea, even for the political blogging Barnett does, when there is pressure to get commentary out the door as fast as possible while topics are still hot. For what it's worth, I try to give a piece as many re-reads as possible, even when I need to post something soon. But waiting is better, and I breathe more easily if I can let an article sit overnight or even for a few days before going live. I suppose that makes me my own editor. The quality of my copy probably suffers, but at least I don't take the criticism personally. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at April 2, 2008 | perma-link | (4) comments

Nikos and James
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- New American City interviews a couple of MBlowhard faves, James Howard Kunstler and Nikos Salingaros. The article has me thinking about cars, cities, and suburbs ... I'm no knee-jerk enemy of cars, and there's much about life in New York City that can irk me -- cramped spaces, obnoxious people, frantic pace, etc. But I really, really adore having most of what I need and want on a day-to-day basis available to me within walking distance. It feels civilized. To gloat for a sec: Within ten blocks of our apartment we can find grocery stores, delis, yoga and Gyro studios, shops of all kinds, movie theaters and theater-theaters, art galleries ... My office is three miles from where I live, and I walk to work nearly every morning. It's really lovely having all this walking built into my day. I haven't owned a car in 30 years. When I visit the rest of the country, I often find much there to envy and enjoy. But not the driving. I hate the way so much of life in 99% of the U.S. is organized around cars. If you say "Hey, let's go out!," what that usually means is, "Let's go to the garage, get in the car, spend time in traffic, park in another garage, then get out." Doing the chores usually means driving through traffic from one parking lot to another parking lot. Walking? Well, that usually doesn't just happen, as it does in New York City. It's usually something you need to make special time for. James Kunstler blogs here, and has a website here. Nikos Salingaros' website is here. If you haven't read the 2Blowhards interview with Nikos already, go to the top of this blog, click on "Interviews," and enjoy a very stimulating discussion. Oh, I just noticed something entertaining. Ah, those open-minded architectural progressives ... What are your own feelings and tastes where cities, cars, walking, and the 'burbs are concerned? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 2, 2008 | perma-link | (12) comments

DVD Binge
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- As newish owners of a snazzy 47" LCD HDTV, The Wife and I have been indulging in a whole lot of moviewatching recently. Good Christ, that screen ... It's gorgeous ... It's hypnotic .. It occupies and then devours the brain, leaving nothing but cinders in its wake ... Thought for the day: An HDTV is something to be managed as well as enjoyed. Anyway, some fast responses to some of what we've watched: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Loads of bright colors and scattershot silliness in this Swingin’ England, James Bond spoof. I was up for it, but I only chuckled once -- at the climax, when Johnny Rivers' version of "Secret Agent Man" came up loud on the soundtrack. I do love that song. Fast-Forwarding Score: a quarter of the DVD. Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs. I found this 1974 thriller by Yukio Noda loads of satisfying fun. A lot of the Japanese exploitation movies from the "pinky violence" era are spoofy and campy, likable mainly for being bizarre, extreme, and a hoot. This one’s a surprise because -- though its script is like an episode of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” or “Mannix” -- the film itself is genuinely intense and dramatic. It’s a trash idea that has been turned into a real movie. It’s a little disappointing that the Zero Woman figure herself doesn’t take much action. Mostly she looks hot and evil, and gets beaten up and raped. But the film is so flamboyant and beautiful -- and so full of acrobatics, editing, and blood -- that it didn’t matter much to me finally. “Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs” struck me as the Japanese equivalent of one of Sam Peckinpah's commercial projects, like “The Getaway” or “The Killer Elite,” and I enjoyed it a lot. Fast-Forwarding Score: not a minute. Grindhouse Presents: Planet Terror. As ever, Robert Rodriguez shows off a lot of talent, tons of bad-boy enthusiasm, and superb taste in lowbrow pleasures and films. For me, though, this mishmash of ’60s and ’70s sleaze and exploitation movies never took on its own life. It didn’t come to life “Airplane!” style, or pastiche style, or New Wave poetic-hommage style … It was so lacking in life that it left me wondering: Well, why not just rent a George A. Romero or Jack Hill movie instead? With Rose MacGowan, who Rodriguez sees a lot more in than I do. I like the idea of “Rose MacGowan,” and god knows that her public appearances aren't short on entertainment value. But her actual onscreen performances always disappoint. I blogged back here about Rodriguez's "Sin City," and here about his "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." Fast-Forwarding Score: 3/4 of the disc. My Summer of Love. I recorded this picture off of Cinemax expecting a tacky nudiefest. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be a quiet, sensitive, beautifully-acted, lusciously-shot English art movie. I loved it. In a small British town, an... posted by Michael at April 2, 2008 | perma-link | (5) comments

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For the Ladies
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A few treats for the ladies. First up, a scene that ought to have been included in "Blades of Glory": Link thanks to the Other Megan. And a little lesson in lady-pleasing from Tom Jones himself: It's always a good idea to learn from the masters. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 | perma-link | (0) comments

Linkage: Sex, Romance, Game
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Here's a witty series of very up-to-date nudes. * Gennifer Flowers is planning to vote Republican. * That Brit who was denied entry to the U.S. on account of "moral turpitude"? Here's a famous article he wrote for the Guardian about his love of prostitutes. Funny line: "The problem with normal sex is that it leads to kissing, and pretty soon you've got to talk to them." * Singledudez: If you still like Ayn Rand don't expect to make any time with Cheryl Miller. But if you're a Donald Westlake fan, why not drop her an email? * Because there can be no such thing as too many photographs of Monica Bellucci ... * Irina had a good time freshman year but found that she couldn't keep the pace up. * Roissy thinks that nerds could use some "Game" training. * Sex-and-romance-fascinated Alias Clio turns up a London Times article suggesting -- and suggesting vividly -- that today's youngsters are unbelievably sexually uninhibited. * It's apparently true what they say about redheads. (Link thanks to Charlton Griffin.) * MBlowhard Rewind: I listed some of my favorite sexy words. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 | perma-link | (15) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Whatever happened to John Hughes? (Link thanks to Vince Keenan.) Fun to see Kevin Smith calling Hughes the J.D. Salinger of his generation. Deal with it, English profs. * Genre-fiction writer Richard S. Wheeler wonders why people read fiction at all, let alone genre fiction. * Old-timer Shelly Lowenkopf lists some of the cultural signposts of his generation. That's a great reading / listening / viewing list for the rest of us to make use of. * African-American movie critic Mark Harris runs a website devoted to black horror movies. He's a funny, smart writer who deserves to be better-known by those who enjoy reading about movies. And the black angle on horror movies really does pay off. * David Lynch's "Lost Highway" is being turned into an opera. * Another blessing that globalization has brought our way: crime on a global scale. * Prairie Mary reprints the obit of a just-deceased friend who lived long and well. * French filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier is one of those French artists who idolizes American popular culture -- jazz, noir novels, etc. So what has it been like for him to make his first American movie? Hint: too damn many lawyers ... * Would you like your serving of rotted shark before or after your serving of pickled testicles? * Somebody's still making Daguerreotypes! * The British government is now on Twitter. * MBlowhard Rewind: Women certainly adore baked goods. Why? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 | perma-link | (1) comments

DVD Picks for the Week
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- "Padre Padrone" and "Night of the Shooting Stars." Two movies by an Italian-brother team, the Tavianis, that are barbaric, stylized, poetic -- and as charged-with-discovery as silent movies sometimes were. The first is based on the memoir of a boy who grew up as a shepherd in beastly conditions on Sardinia. It's a little like "The Wild Child" reimagined as a Brechtian musical. The second is an epic fantasia based on stories and themes from Italian peasants' experiences of World War II. In tone, it's horrifying yet magical -- like "Open City" meets "E.T." At their best, the Taviani Brothers are magnificent artists who make harshly beautiful movies that are both hard-core avant-garde and directly, accessibly populist. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 | perma-link | (1) comments

A quick break from the usual to call visitors' attention to the fact that I've done a little maintenance on our blogroll -- the long list of recommended blogs that's in the left-hand column. Broke 'em up into categories that I hope are easy to use ... Prioritized the categories by order of importance (notice where I put Politics) ... Weeded out some blogs that have shut down ... Listed 'em alphabetically ... Speaking of which, I did my alphabetical listing by first name, since that seems to be the new Accepted Thing. Weird, isn't it, that we now inhabit a world where most alphabetical lists of names are organized by first name? Please let me know if you spot any goofs. And please take a moment to click on one or two blogs that you've never tried before. There's a lot of good-quality blogsurfing to be enjoyed out there.... posted by Michael at April 1, 2008 | perma-link | (7) comments

Monday, March 31, 2008

NIMBY Forever
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- It seems that the U.S. does not yet have a place to permanently store nuclear reactor waste material. Congress acted on this matter in 1982 and waste material has been sitting here and there in sub-optimal locations since then because the promised repository remains to be built. Matters could get worse if more reactors are built in response to a need for environmentally "clean" energy sources. (What sense does it make to charge the batteries of a totally electric car each night if the electrical power source is an oil-fired generation plant?) Seems to me that we've been in a "crisis" mode on this for enough time to have come up with a solution. But politics and interest groups have been working their usual magic. This interests me because I was involved (peripherally, in the extreme) with the repository issue nearly 20 years ago. The original plan was to have several repository sites scattered across the country to spread the risk, so to speak. Over time, the number of sites dwindled down to three, and then, finally, one. The remaining site is the Yucca Mountain site in southern Nevada near where atomic bomb tests were made in the 1950s. My task had to do with population projections of areas near Yucca Mountain -- in practice, this was mostly rapidly-growing Las Vegas and satellite communities; the rest of it is nearly uninhabited. As background, those of us on the consulting team were given a tour of the vicinity, including Death Valley. On our way back to Vegas we spied site-protesters near the Indian Springs entrance to the area. I could understand protesters waving signs if the proposed site was on the Berkeley flats, off Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge or along the north side of 10th Street in the Village ... but in the middle of a desert?!? Years later I raised this point to a liberal co-worker who assured me that the desert would be a perfectly awful place for a repository. But I couldn't pin him down as to what location might be better. One interesting part of the background touring was a visit to a test bore on the Hanford Reservation in Washington state. At the time, Hanford was still in the running as a repository site, so a tunnel was bored into the lava and other rock as sort of a sketch of an actual facility, including galleries for the storage containers. The layout was similar to that a a large munitions magazine, the rows of galleries isolating comparatively small amounts of dangerous material. We also got to look at an old reactor. Interesting to see the monitoring instruments that were highest-tech in 1950, but looking like old sci-fi movie props in the digitized late 1980s. This sounds (or even is) cynical, but the track record suggests that no repository will be built until there is a major nuclear leakage crisis at one of the many existing storage sites. Ain't government wonderful.... posted by Donald at March 31, 2008 | perma-link | (12) comments

More Newsweekly Troubles
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- From time to time I've wondered about the state and fate of news weeklies -- here, for instance I dealt with Time. Today's Drudge Report offered this link relating that Newsweek is undergoing a significant staff reduction in the form of early retirement buyouts. Names are named, including some whose bylines are widely recognized. I used to subscribe to Newsweek in the 1970s, but haven't paid much attention to it in recent years; I mostly skim a copy while waiting for a dental or medical appointment. My impression is that weekly news magazines (with the exception of the Economist) have been evolving away from the format that served so well up until, say, the 90s. The impact of the Internet has been negative for most magazines that I am familiar with including the car buff mags I read, and a good deal of scrambling and format-tinkering has been underway. Unfortunately -- and I do like magazines and printed stuff in general -- most of this fiddling doesn't seem to be working. Certainly the Newsweek bombshell adds credence to this notion. And an economic recession isn't likely to help. I hate to say it, but Time, Newsweek and U.S. News seem to be in the same spiral I saw back around 1960 for the Saturday Evening Post, Collier's and Look. Can anyone come up with an optimistic scenario for the news weeklies? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at March 31, 2008 | perma-link | (13) comments

No Help at All
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Tony Blair inflicted a decade of unprecedentedly high immigration on Britain. The results? Massive social unrest, and -- as a parliamentary report now makes clear -- absolutely zero economic gains for the country. Dramatic new social initiatives resulting in lasting pain and no benefits whatsoever -- now that's great governance. (Hence my own preferred political philosophy: First do no harm.) Link thanks to Peter Brimelow, whose "Alien Nation" is one seriously eye-opening book. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at March 31, 2008 | perma-link | (5) comments

Arms Dealers
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Not to be missed: Steve Sailer and the Steve Squad are doing a phenomenal job of figuring out who and what's behind a current arms-supply scandal. The story they're unearthing is pure high comedy, if in the wasteful / painful genre. I especially loved learning that Hasidic Jews qualify for affirmative action -- and that it was the Reagan administration that declared them disadvantaged. Here, here, here, here, here, here. A couple of lessons to take away from the mess, or so it seems to me: As fun as it can be to dream up "things the government should be doing," it also doesn't hurt to remember that every new ambitious government program opens up big opportunities for corruption and abuse. That goes for war, too. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at March 31, 2008 | perma-link | (14) comments