Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm on Teh Internets!

First, I get starstruck, and now, my fine prose appears at The Corner! (follow link therein to the game for great time-wasting fun!)

Only, I forgot to plug my blog... d'oh!

Update: Now with photographic evidence for when this goes down the Memory Hole!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Post Wherein I Shockingly Discuss Cognitive Dissonance Without Relating It To Liberalism, or, "First Snowfall of the Season"

Central Pennsylvania seems to have received its first major snowfall this weekend, and it was perfect -- enough to completely cover the ground and frost all the trees, but not enough to require an hour or so of back-breaking labor in clearing off the driveway with my dinky Wal-Mart snow shovel (if only I could afford a snow-blower!).

I suppose I have not been living here long enough yet (coming upon three years, now) to greet the first snowfall of the season with a sense of impending dread at what it portends for forthcoming snowfall -- quite the contrary, I still am filled with excitement and wonder when we have a substantial amount of accumulation (coming from regions of the country where any accumulation is a mild surprise, I suspect it will take several more years before I am beaten into gloomy, snowy pessimism).

Still, it occurred to me, upon waking up to snow-covered ground Sunday morning, that there comes with the first snowfall of the season a certain sense of cognitive dissonance that is not entirely unpleasant. Upon looking out my window, I felt the strange, otherworldly sensation of being in two places at once: first, in my own neighborhood, with the still-green, manicured lawns and black-shingled roofs all in a row, tall evergreens and vivid deciduous trees just now going barren, and then in this uniformly white landscape of smooth, gentle curves all around, with the oddly peaceful muteness that accompanies the soft fall of fat snowflakes. The effect was only more pronounced by virtue of the facts that, for one, the snowfall was unexpected, and two, it was relatively early in the season. For just a moment, I felt my heart race and my chest swell as my emotion and my reason fought for dominance in my mind, trying to sort out the apparent discontinuity between last night and this morning. With the conflict resolved by my acknowledgment of the ongoing precipitation, the serenity of relief that follows stress settled over me as I proceeded to observe the trajectory of a few lazy flakes as they aimlessly glided toward the snowy ground.

In related news, this was The Wee One's first real snowfall, having been too young to genuinely experience the last two winters of her life. It was all she could do to not leap outside as she excitedly pointed out the windows and kept repeating "snow, snow!" She figured out "cold, cold!" remarkably quickly as she tried to play with a snowball I made for her, though.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Worth A Thousand Words

Michael Yon, who deserves the title "MVP" in the realm of photojournalism if anyone ever did, snapped the above picture of Muslims and Christians working together to replace the recently-removed-from-storage cross on top of St. John's Church in Baghdad. Glenn Reynolds opines, rightly so, that if this were a just world, Yon would be a shoo-in for the Pulitzer. There are certainly the nascent rumblings of a blogospheric movement afoot, to provide the word-of-mouth recognition to the legacy media so that this picture, and Yon's work in general, gains such distinctions and accolades.

Here, however, is what I predict: if sufficient noise is raised, expect the following response from the powers-that-be: "While Mr. Yon's work is excellent, we of the Pulitzer Committee feel that the Iraq issue has passed from the limelight as a relevant, salient issue for today's ever-changing geopolitical climate. So instead, we decided to award Al Gore for his self-portrait photograph of himself courageously holding aloft his own Nobel Peace Prize." Because, you know, if we're winning, it's not news.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Got Mail!

So Jonah Goldberg posted this offhand comment over at The Corner, and I shot him a quick email to thank him for cracking me up (avid Corner readers know this is only the latest in a series of one-sided discussions involving the lancing of volcanoes using airborne lasers by Mr. Goldberg), and get this... he responded!

Now I'm star-struck... I'll never wash my... er... emailing hand again!


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

That Painful Buzzing In Your Head? That's Cognitive Dissonance.

I just had a very interesting discussion with one of our local ronpaul "true believers." Flush with enthusiasm over Ron Paul's genuinely impressive $4-million-in-a-day fundraising success, this ronpaulista, he was also quick to brag that Ron Paul was recently polling at 7% in New Hampshire -- certainly an all-time high, and higher in that particular poll than both Mike Huckabee and Fred Thompson. I had the sense to declare it simply "a bump" -- they happen to all the candidates, after all, and besides, one data point does not a trend define. First, he responds "No way, man! He's been going up! It's linear!" Here he draws himself a little straight-line gesture in the air with his figure. "Actually, it's not even linear -- it's geometric!" (indicating, for you non-math-nerds, a rate of increase greater than a straight line). He then proceeds to accuse me of being "unscientific" for conjecturing that one single (relatively) high poll result might be, indeed, "a bump".

Of course, the first two comments didn't even remotely pass the "sniff-test", and that last comment durn near made my irony meter explode. So I decided to do the teensiest, tiniest bit of digging to provide a dose of reality to this otherwise affable fellow. Finding the conglomeration of recent polls at the indispensable RealClearPolitics, I have provided a nice, succinct plot for all our dear little ronpaulians who may be undergoing some undue enthusiasm as of late:

Now, I chose to put the y-axis scale at 100% just to gain some perspective there. But for those of you without huge monitors, the numbers at each vertex are 6, 2, 7, 2, and 1 percent, respectively.

Is that a "linear progression"? Not even a little.

How about "geometric"? Well, maybe since his peak, but geometric in the decreasing sense only.

How about "A bump"? Does that sound like a good description?

Unfortunately, much like the best weapons our military can provide used against invading martians, cold, hard data and logic have no effect on theronpaulexperience. If they did, I would expect to hear about 40,000 heads go *pop* as soon as I hit this "publish" button...

Update: Aw nuts. No popping.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Conclusion of a Scandal

You may have read about the University of Delaware's brainwashing scandal: in short, RAs were effectively forced to brainwash their residents into conformity with the social justice/whites-as-racists/liberal dogma that they themselves were subject to by their superiors. You can read considerably more about it by scrolling down here. At any rate, once this became public (mostly through the efforts of the good folks at NRO and elsewhere publicizing it after FIRE raised a stink about it), the University caved, halting the program in its entirety.

Now, I should be happy about this, and at one level, I am -- when brought to light, this wretched plan collapsed under the weight of its own absurdity, and gives hope for the destruction of other, similar misdeeds at other universities. But another part of me is left wanting, on account of how quickly the university caved.

Why is that? Well, as soon as the program's nature was made widely known to the public, the university didn't even hesitate -- it yanked it without review or even, it would seem, a moment's thought. This implies to me the following: that a) they already knew what they were doing was inherently wrong, and b) they were only proceeding for as long as they weren't caught. I can't help but think that, without a long (or at least, longer-than-instantaneous), dragged-out fight, no lessons were learned on the part of the university establishment. Not one of the leftist loonies who allowed this program to proceed apace had it pointed out to them not only that it was wrong, but why it was so contrary to the very core American values that allow universities in America to flourish.

By way of analogy, it conjures up an image in my mind of of shining a flashlight in a darkened room: shadows cannot survive even the faintest light source, but whenever the light is moved to another dark spot, they gather together just as before. Only tearing off the roof can bring in the sunlight to banish the shadows permanently.