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Geography Quiz



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Nah. I got Oman and the UAE wrong way round, also Mali and Niger.
Otherwise all correct–though if I’d done it last week, before reading the
special section on Central Asia in The Economist, I’m sure I would have
got all those -stans confused.

Honor Bob Hope



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Wouldn’t it be nice if “the industry” honored Bob Hope by bringing back show business? He was such a pro, such a pleasure to watch in action. Will we ever have this again, or are we destined to wallow in reality TV for the next 100 years?

See what the USO has to say about their hero.

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Man Walks 871 Miles Carrying Door



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A man has walked the entire length of Great Britain carrying a door on his
back.

Web Briefing: January 28, 2015

Young Britons Foundation



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The Brits need our help. They’ve started the British version of the Young Americans Foundation. Do what you can.

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Geography Quiz



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This is a great test of your Middle East geography skills. I did better than I feared and worse than I should have on the first try — the only try that counts. Something tells me Derb will ace it.

Big Mac = Heroin



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New evidence that if you’re fat, it’s not your fault. You’re just a junkie.

Going Wobbly



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I have to confess, I’m starting to change my mind about the Davis recall. I was against it, and I still have big problems with it. But after spending the weekend reading about the whole thing, I’m beginning to change my mind. I confess that my thinking is partly motivated by the fact that Davis really is such an incredible weenie. This is more of an important point than it sounds because it demonstrates that this recall isn’t merely typical voter fickleness or partisanship. Davis’s lying weeniehood seems to meet the threshold set forth in the California Constitution for removing über-weenies from office. More important, while my principles incline me to being against it, I can’t shake the fact that if I lived in California I would probably vote to recall him. In other words, I think that an informed person living under the yoke of his ineptitude would be compelled to give him the heave-ho. Anyway, I’m still pondering.

The Coulter Problem



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Most of the critical comments I’ve read about Coulter’s book focus on
its counterproductiveness, and I agree with them. I will immodestly
enter Losing Ground as an example of a book that was effective in large
part because it granted the good intentions of the Left. Liberals could
read it, and did. That’s good. Writing books for the choir is, to my
way of thinking, a waste of time.

But, for heaven’s sake, expediency is not the main point. Incivility is
one the biggest pains in contemporary life. Who would you rather have
over for a drink and a chat? A civil liberal or a rude conservative?
It’s not a close call. Boors are boors, on either side of the political
divide.

P.S. It’s okay to say anything we want about Bill and Hillary.

Anti-Catholicism



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An interesting op-ed by Boston Globe columnistist Christopher Shea about Philip Jenkin’s upcoming
book, “The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice.” What’s worth
noting is that non-Catholic Jenkins disagrees with the church on certain
fundamental teachings–presumably both theological and moral–yet sticks up for
the church. Unfortunately, Shea gives too0 much time to Jenkin’s critics, many
of whom are knee-jerkily opposed (e.g., Garry Wills, James Carroll, theologian
Lisa Sowle Cahill). But Fr. Richard John Neuhaus registers perhaps the most
legitimate complaint: “I’m not sure that it [the prejudice] is that new.”

Spoon of Sugar For Your Joe?



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This morning, in NBC’s latest loving spoonful of Interview Helper for Bush’s potential opponents, Katie Couric enabled Joe Lieberman to argue that he’s for restoring “a sense of fairness and integrity that’s been missing” in the White House. No one said Joe, you had a chance at this once, and voted to acquit.

Big-Box Blues



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As part of that weird fraction of humanity who have read Austrian economists for fun, it is most unsettling when the magic of a free market doesn’t quite extend to “pool shoes,” those clingy $5 monstrosities worn mostly by the girls. (I certainly would have shamed my son out of that shopping trip a few years ago.) I spent two hours on Sunday with my daughter learning that the big-box retailers (Target, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, K-Mart and several other lesser retailers in northern Virginia) carried every size of these from March to mid-July, as if these are the heavy swimming months. Apparently, once retailers have the whiff of August, you can buy a protractor in seven colors, but forget the pool shoes. I’m sure this is smart mass-retailing, but it can leave the average consumer with a sense of advanced-calendar whiplash. (No pool shoes, but would you like a Halloween costume?) Luckily, the girl found a pair of mirrored goggles and forgot all about the shoes.

Which Economy Is Krugman Watching?



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There’s no shortage of good economic news nowadays — except in the mind of Paul Krugman, where hopelessness springs eternal. In his New York Times column Friday, the Princeton economics professor closed his eyes to economic reality and cried, “There is very little evidence in the data for a strong recovery ready to break out.” Huh? What about rising durable goods orders? A huge spike in new-home sales? Falling new jobless claims? Sadly for Krugman, the recessionary dreams of the Left are fading. Don Luskin and the Krugman Truth Squad have the full story.

More Re: Gay Marriage



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As I said earlier, by traditional standards, my views on marriage are fairly liberal. For a more detailed statement of what I see as my middle ground position, see “That Other War.” Still, I don’t want to slight the views of traditionalists–particularly religious traditionalists. The traditional religious position on marriage and sexuality is all too often caricatured and slighted. I have immense respect for the power and value of that point of view. For more, see my “Freedom and Slavery.”

Legal Question



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Any lawyers out there in Cornerland? I’d love to have your best judgement on likely legal scenarios for the enforcement of divorce agreements, as well as child custody and support agreements, in the wake of legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts. Here’s the problem. Let’s say George and Ted marry in Massachusetts, where they live, but buy a vacation home as joint tenants in Texas. After some time, the couple separates. George stays in Massachusetts, while Ted moves in to the second home in Texas. Meanwhile, George files for divorce in Massachusetts, which decrees that the Texas home be sold and the proceeds divided evenly between George and Ted. Ted down in Texas refuses to cooperate, so George hires a Texas lawyer. Now what? If the Texas court enforces the Massachusetts judgement (which is entitled to full faith and credit under Article IV, but arguably wouldn’t be so entitled under the Defense of Marriage Act), then the legal impact of same-sex marriage has crossed state lines. Or, if Texas refuses to support the Massachusetts judgement (in light of state and/or federal DOMA’s), we have a potentially very messy situation on our hands. And what do we make of this sort of scenario in cases of child custody and support? So do you lawyers out there see any relatively simple way to resolve the potential confusion here, or do you see ongoing conflict and a lack of clear resolution? Again, I’d love to have your best judgement on the likely legal scenarios.

Gay Marriage



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My new article, “Beyond Gay Marriage,” is the most thorough statement of the slippery-slope argument on gay marriage I have ever made. If you have any interest in the controversy over gay marriage–particularly if you are undecided–I hope you will read this piece. This article contains a lot of new material. But there is plenty more to say. In the months ahead, I will be expanding on the points raised here. And sometime in the next month or two, I expect to come out with another ambitious piece that approaches the gay-marriage issue from a new direction. That piece will show, even more dramatically than the slippery slope argument of “Beyond Gay Marriage,” that the virtual disappearance of marriage, both legally and socially, is all too realistic a possibility.

All parties to our disputes over marriage agree that the institution is undergoing rapid, even drastic, changes. On both the left and the libertarian right, the argument seems to be that, given all the changes, we might as well keep going. The social right sometimes echoes that view, noting sadly that, having discarded so many props of traditional marriage, further radical changes are bound to follow. All that may be true. Yet I have argued that a middle ground position, between the family system of the fifties and the utopianism of the sixties, is in principle sustainable.

By traditional standards, my position on marriage is fairly liberal. While I do think we should consider a waiting period for divorces in which children are involved, I see a fundamental rollback of no-fault divorce as neither possible nor desirable. Nor do I think it either possible or desirable to eliminate premarital cohabitation. On the other hand, I believe we need to draw a bright line between marriage and cohabitation–particularly when it comes to having children. I oppose the recent and ill-advised proposals of the American Law Institute to treat cohabitation more like marriage. The question in all this is whether it is possible to find a middle way. Can we accept and embrace the benefits of our increased freedom and privacy, while also drawing some lines to prevent a further weakening of marriage as an institution? This will be tough to do. Fortunately, the American public would like a middle ground solution–one that accepts many of the changes in marriage, while also setting limits to reform.

Land of The Giants



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Nick, assuming that this human growth hormone is safe I can see no possible sensible objection. If we were to ignore centuries of medical progress and keep the human race ‘as nature intended,’ our streets would be a sad spectacle of deformity, disease and disability. Of course, being short is not a disease, but, like it or not (we are little more than highly competitive apes, after all), it can be a ‘disability’, at least of sorts. If taking this product could make people taller, why not? Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind being six feet tall myself…

Bob Hope, Rip



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He died last night.

Rip



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Matt Jeffries, the designer for the original Star Trek, has died. The New York Times obit is fine, but for some reason it leaves out that the “Jeffries Tube” was named after him.

Ap Is Getting Foxy



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Fox Butterfield of the New York Times is famous for his ongoing astonishment that crime can fall while prison building increases. In August 2000, he wrote a story: “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction.” In 1998 he wrote “Prison Population Growing Although Crime Rate Drops.” In 1997 he observed: “Crime Keeps On Falling, but Prisons Keep On Filling.” Well, it looks like the Times has been selling it’s Kool Aid: here’s the headline for an AP story in today’s Washington Post : “Number Of Prisoners Rises as Crime Drops.” Here’s how it begins:

America’s prison population grew again in 2002 despite a declining crime rate, costing the federal government and states an estimated $40 billion a year at a time of rampant budget shortfalls.

The inmate population in 2002 of more than 2.1 million represented a 2.6 percent increase over 2001, according to a report released yesterday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Preliminary FBI statistics showed a 0.2 percent drop in overall crime during the same span.

Will Berkeley Apologize?



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The U.C. Berkeley College Republicans are seeking an official apology from the UC Berkeley administration over the press release accompanying the infamous “conservatives are pathological” study.

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