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  1. Period-Quote or Quote-Period?
  2. Ideological Inconsistencies
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Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Period-Quote or Quote-Period?
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Talk about gut-wrenching issues -- here's one that has vexed me off and on for years: When quoting, what comes last -- the period or the quotation mark? Via the indispensible Instapundit comes this link to a post on law professor Eugene Volokh's blog. As the post indicates, American convention has it that commas and periods can be inserted in a quotation immediately before the close-quote. British style is that the final quotation mark is placed at the end of the quoted passage; if the passage is not a complete sentence, then a period (if needed) is placed after the quotation mark. To me, the British convention seems more logical and natural, which means that I'm always gritting my teeth when having to conform to American usage. Volokh, as good lawyer is wont to do, goes with precedent as you can see if you link to the post. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at November 28, 2009 | perma-link | (12) comments

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ideological Inconsistencies
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Before moving on to topics less explicitly political, here's Zdeno on ideological inconsistency. * * * * * Earlier, I wondered about the origin for our political and ideological beliefs. Today I’d like to explore the topic of ideology and where it comes from a bit more. Today’s question is: What opinions do you hold that are exceptional for a person of your general ideological leanings? Are you a tax-hating, hippie-stomping gun nut - who happens to be rabidly pro-choice? Do you worship at the temple of Obama - but think every last homosexual should be shot behind a barn? What are the political beliefs that you would reveal in a conversation with like-minded individuals if your goal was shock and awe? For extra credit, take a stab at explaining why it is your views on those questions are out of line with the rest of your thinking. I’ll kick things off: I would describe myself as equal parts Conservative and Libertarian. While wearing my “Conservative” hat, I hold wacky, exceptional opinions such as support for gay rights and drug legalization. If I want to piss off my Libertarian friends I can talk about my preference for effective law enforcement over civil liberties, ask why eminent domain is such a big deal, and wonder aloud that we might want to think twice before adopting completely open borders. I can’t think of any specific policies in which my thinking deviates from the Libertarian-Conservative party line, but I suspect my values could be described as vaguely Progressive. Also, my persona and lifestyle are very much SWPLish. So, Blowhards: What’s your exceptional belief? Why are your feelings different on that one (or two, or three) question(s)? Why are the rest of your ideological brethren off base here and here alone? * * * * * Later, Donald... posted by Donald at November 27, 2009 | perma-link | (43) comments

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Themed" Casinos and Entropy
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Yesterday I zipped up and down much of the Las Vegas strip; photos will appear here eventually. I noticed something. And that reinforced some impressions I was forming my last visit or two. You see, Las Vegas experienced a transformation starting around 15 or 20 years ago. Casino owners decided, perhaps because of competition for the gambling dollar from Atlantic City, Indian reservation casinos and elsewhere, to add casinos emphasizing themes and in many cases large shopping areas. Currently active themes in the heart of the Strip include Venice, the Italian lake country, King Arthur's court, ancient Egypt, New York City, Caribbean pirate islands, China, a desert oasis and Paris. Well on the way to phase-out are Aladdin's Middle East and Hollywood. (The MGM Grand dropped some of its Hollywood-themed decor. On the other hand, the Aladdin has been pretty much transformed into its new, Planet Hollywood guise.) Did I just mention "phase-out?" What I've been noticing are signs that that theme-purity is starting to diminish in the strongly-themed casinos -- places where even the shops originally tried to conform to the overall scheme. The majority of themed casinos wear their themes lightly, embodying them in the general decor, but not extending to most of the shops and restaurants. A case in point is the Paris. It has a Parisian-style shopping street where all (or nearly all) shops and restaurants were -- Parisian. Yesterday I noticed that one shop site had been taken over by (if memory serves) a Shooz shoe store. And there was a new restaurant that, at a glance, didn't seem particularly French. The Luxor casino began an image remake a few years ago. Its architecture (a hollow pyramid) is impossible to change, but the ground floor details are changing from ancient Egypt to Los Angles show-biz. The Luxor's change was by top management decision. The Paris' seeming shift is probably fed by the need to rent retail space, a need that will likely be enhanced by the current hard economic times. Or, as the title of this post suggests, it's possible that entropy itself kicks in where highly structured, low-entropic conditions exist. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at November 25, 2009 | perma-link | (3) comments

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Anyone Wanna Repeal the 19th Amendment?
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- A Faithful Reader passed along the following quote: I would venture to say women can’t be true conservatives because conservatism is a male thing. One will find time and again, for example, from talking to them, hearing them on TV, reading what they write, and watching how they vote, that women can’t conceive of the things men know as countries, nation-states, and so on. They just cannot perceive their existence, and therefore of course can’t see what steps must be taken to protect and preserve such entities. Another problem is they are too socially liberal as a natural, inborn quality (or rather, defect). As Chamfort said, “elles possèdent une case de moins dans le cerveau et une fibre de plus dans le coeur”—they have a compartment less in the brain and a fiber more in the heart (than men). Women, incidentally, look at political liberalism in a man as irresistibly sexually attractive and conservatism as absolutely sexually repulsive. (Yes, yes, it goes without saying there are tons of exceptions, and happy wives with children tend far less to fall in this category than other women.) Women see Marxist revolutionaries like Ché Guévara as Christ-like figures whom they’d love to sleep with, and one can be sure the majority of college-age young men who go around sporting Ché T-shirts are after the sexual opportunities they hope might “rub off onto them,” more than the ideology. (I said the majority, not all. Obviously, there’s no lack of true hard-core Marxists running around.) Roger Daltrey if I’m not mistaken, John Bon Jovi, and many other rock-and-roll stars said they first ventured into R-n-R bands primarily in order to get girls and sex, not primarily in order to sing or play music. Well, there’s no doubt whatsoever but that many men who are in reality fundamentally apolitical go into left-liberal politics for the same reason: women and sex will be showered upon them. They are not disappointed: those of them who aren’t completely physically repulsive will be surrounded by throngs of groupies like a rock star. Anyone who wants to find one possible plausible explanation for the way the world seems to be going down the left-liberal tubes must have a frank look at something rarely brought up in this regard: the nation-killing extension of the franchise to women. (Switzerland held out until 1972, then caved. Worst mistake they ever made.) It is part of a comment to this book review. Brave man, that commenter. I wonder if he's married. Despite a whiff of misinterpretation, dashes of exaggeration, etc., there is the nugget of truth that women voters tend to be more swayed by appeals to sympathy and other varieties of that area of emotion than men. (Guys tend to heat up over appeals such as "To the barricades!" or "Kill the bastards!!" and even "What a stupid, expensive idea!") At least that's how public opinion polling shows it -- the "compassionate" left agenda favored by higher percentages... posted by Donald at November 24, 2009 | perma-link | (51) comments

Monday, November 23, 2009

Anonymous Internet Rewards
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Zdeno is back with some musing regarding the Internet's Anonymous Side. * * * * * If there’s one thing the internet has taught us, it’s that people have a primal, unselfish desire to improve the world. Obviously this unselfish desire has its roots in some sort of ruthlessly fitness-maximizing ultimate cause – but the phenotype is clear. Hundreds, thousands, and someday millions of people are investing their time and money in making the world a better place, without any hope or desire for reward or recognition in the physical world. Most of my favourite bloggers, for example, are anonymous. Virtually no one charges for content on the internet, and only a minority are so bold as to set out a tip jar. Commenters are even less rewarded, since at least anonymous bloggers achieve some degree of fame and social status among their e-peers. And yet so many blog posts are followed with comments that show at least as much thought and writing quality as the original article. Many of them aren’t even signed by the author. I would estimate that I spend a good two hours per day reading, writing and commenting on internet content, with absolutely no tangible, material benefit to my life at all. Many, perhaps most, of the people reading this can make a similar claim. Today’s question: What motivates us? Why do we spend so many of the precious hours in our finite lives entertaining and educating others who we will likely never meet? * * * * * Later, Donald... posted by Donald at November 23, 2009 | perma-link | (23) comments