The Sloppy Mermaid

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The Voice of the Turtle: "The role of the historian is to chart the minutae of what people did and said in the past. She is concerned to correct our anachronisms and tell us that the things we take for granted are a lot more complicated than at first glance. As such, the political task of the historian (like that of Derridean deconstructionist) is intrinsically anti-foundational. It denies us the delusions and dreams we construct by telling us how contingent and complicated everything is. By doing so it enables us engage in the interminably detailed, minute task of making the real world a better place."

Saturday, March 25, 2006

War Among the Conservatives

The War: "Here Fukuyama commits apostasy of a different kind: against the thesis that made him famous. His new rendering of 'the end of history' -- of liberal democracy as the culmination of humankind's ideological development -- verges on economic determinism; it is, as he recently put it, 'a kind of Marxist argument.' Just as he finds the roots of jihadism in the confounding material bounty of the West, so too does he define modernization itself as little more than the longing for 'technology, high standards of living, health standards, and access to the wider world.' Politics is an afterthought, the icing on the economic cake."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Decanting Robert Parker

Decanting Robert Parker - New York Times: "IT has been a difficult couple of years for Robert M. Parker Jr., the wine writer who has famously been labeled the most influential critic of any kind in the world. Though Mr. Parker has gotten used to living with a big fat target painted on his back, the most recent series of attacks was especially galling to him."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

'Manliness,' by Harvey C. Mansfield

'Manliness,' by Harvey C. Mansfield - The New York Times Book Review - New York Times

It looks like this review and those like it will make Mansfield's new book much popular than I had anticipated.

It is a sign that he is on to something.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Michelangelo code - Newspaper Edition - Times Online

The Michelangelo code - Newspaper Edition - Times Online: "The first thing that impressed me was his speed. Michelangelo worked at Schumacher pace. Adam's famous little penis was captured with a single brushstroke: a flick of the wrist, and the first man had his manhood. I also enjoyed his sense of humour, which, from close up, turned out to be refreshingly puerile. If you look closely at the angels who attend the scary prophetess on the Sistine ceiling known as the Cumaean Sibyl, you will see that one of them has stuck his thumb between his fingers in that mysteriously obscene gesture that visiting fans are still treated to today at Italian football matches. It means something along the lines of: how would you like this inserted into your rectum, ragazzo?"

The Marketplace of Perceptions

The Marketplace of Perceptions: "Like all revolutions in thought, this one began with anomalies, strange facts, odd observations that the prevailing wisdom could not explain. Casino gamblers, for instance, are willing to keep betting even while expecting to lose. People say they want to save for retirement, eat better, start exercising, quit smoking, and they mean it, but they do no such things. Victims who feel they've been treated poorly exact their revenge, though doing so hurts their own interests.
Such perverse facts are a direct affront to the standard model of the human actor - Economic Man - that classical and neoclassical economics have used as a foundation for decades, if not centuries. Economic Man makes logical, rational, self-interested decisions that weigh costs against benefits and maximize value and profit to himself. Economic Man is an intelligent, analytic, selfish creature who has perfect self-regulation in pursuit of his future goals and is unswayed by bodily states and feelings. And Economic Man is a marvelously convenient pawn for building academic theories. But Economic Man has one fatal flaw: he does not exist."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Balmy MiddleAges

Telegraph | News: "Claims that man-made pollution is causing 'unprecedented' global warming have been seriously undermined by new research which shows that the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages."

Will global warming trigger a new ice age?

Guardian Unlimited | Life | Will global warming trigger a new ice age?: "The rapidly accelerating warming that we are experiencing actually hasten the onset of a new ice age? A growing body of evidence suggests that, at least for the UK and western Europe, there is a serious risk of this happening - and soon."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

'No more heroes'

Essays: 'No more heroes' by Edward Skidelsky | Prospect Magazine March 2006 issue 120: "'Mark you this, you proud men of action,' wrote the German poet Heinrich Heine. 'You are nothing but the unconscious henchmen of intellectuals, who, often in the humblest seclusion, have meticulously plotted your every deed.' Heine was thinking of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, but the same charge has more recently been levelled against Leo Strauss, a former professor of political science at the University of Chicago who died in 1973."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration

Foreign Policy: The Geopolitics of Sexual Frustration: "Now there are too few wenches. Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine, Mother Nature's usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales - males to 100 females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China's Hubei Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to 100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to 100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls. China, India, and other nations have outlawed the use of prenatal diagnostic techniques to select the sex of an unborn child. But bribery and human ingenuity have made it easy for prospective parents to skirt the law; a suitably compensated ultrasound technician need only smile or frown at the expectant mother. Many of the excess boys will be poor and rootless, a lumpenproletariat without the consolations of sexual partners and family. Prostitution, sex tourism, and homosexuality may ease their immediate urges, but Asian societies are witnessing far more dramatic solutions. Women now risk being kidnapped and forced not only into prostitution but wedlock. Chinese police statistics recorded 65,236 arrests for female trafficking in 1990-91 alone. Updated numbers are hard to come by, but it's apparent that the problem remains severe. In September 2002, a Guangxi farmer was executed for abducting and selling more than 100 women for $120 to $360 each. Mass sexual frustration is thus adding a potent ingredient to an increasingly volatile regional cocktail of problems that include surging economic growth, urbanization, drug abuse, and environmental degradation."

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Print Story - canada.com network: "Of course not, but think of the cunning! Imagine the odd silences, the not-quite-explained trips, unlikely absences during family holidays. Think of how carefully he must have hidden his money from his wife -- over nearly three decades. Bear in mind, too, that years of broadcasting on CBS made him a celebrity in Montana as much as anywhere. How did he deflect the suspicions of neighbours? How did he, in his mind, keep two lives apart? His agile cunning reached Olympic levels."