Quick Roundup 353

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hibernation's Over

Wow! While I was mostly away from the Internet, Russia has all but conquered Georgia. Myrhaf points to a Stratfor analysis (and some other relevant information here) and Glenn Reynolds refers his readers to the Belmont Club, which I see is now hosted by Pajamas Media.

Two Views on China

The Resident Egoist, in items 3 and 4 of a "Caught on the Net" post, notes the extent of China's nanny state as revealed by some of its preparations for the Olympics. People are being told how to dress!

It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad. What does this say about Chinese culture, however? That is, as a society more concerned about presenting its citizens to the outside world as obedient but fashion conscious cogs than as free and individual men and women capable of making their own decisions.
Andrew Medworth, on the other hand, thinks that the Chinese may not "have the government they deserve":
I freely admit that my sample is biased. The Chinese people I have met are largely among the best China has to offer: smart enough to penetrate the highest levels of Western academia and business, usually having rich parents who have benefited from China's recent economic boom, or having lived in the West for a long time. But intelligence and riches are hardly guarantees of the kinds of virtue I have described, and I cannot help thinking that perhaps this fervour for China is just an expression of cultural optimism, the sense that tomorrow not just can but will be better than today.
I share his ambivalence about China's newfound prosperity, and for very similar reasons.

Two Forms of "Encouragement" for Self-Censorship

Myrhaf discusses a recent trend by leftists to attempt to cow their political opponents into not supporting non-leftist causes. After noting that the move will likely backfire, he notes, correctly I think that this reflects the irrational and emotionalistic nature of the left: "Apparently, leftists can't help themselves: they just have to release their inner thug."

In the meantime, as Dismuke informs me by email, a particularly egregious example of self-censorship in the private sector, is largely going under the radar.
On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed column by Asra Nomani on a novel about one of Muhammad's wives that was to be published this year by Random House. In May Random House killed publication of the book when it was warned not only that "publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment." Random House decided not to proceed with publication out of concern for "the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel."
Unlike a similar instance I cited in a column awhile back, this is a large company and, as such, a horrible cultural precedent for freedom in America.

Note that the only difference between the two sets of barbarians making threats here is that one is more famous for carrying out such threats. Our response to this thuggery on a civilizational level, must be to crush it, or we will be crushed.

Book Recommendation (And Question)

On my return flight from Boston, I finished up Newcomer's Handbook For Moving to and Living in Boston: Including Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville, and have already taken advantage of its advice several times. One thing I learned about from the book was a service I have yet to look into called Zipcar, which may offer a way out of the expense of having to own a car in Boston.

Based on the wealth of information and its readability, I'd advise anyone relocating to a major metropolitan area (or a different part of the country) to see whether there is a Newcomer's Handbook title for your destination. (I recall one for Atlanta and one for Texas, for example.)

And now for the question. Has anyone here used Zipcar? If so, what did you think?

Ravenclaw

I like this self-described "scientific" personality quiz. Fellow fans of Harry Potter will probably also enjoy taking it.

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!


Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable.
Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

HT: Liriodendron.

-- CAV

4 comments:

madmax said...

Here is a link to a Diana West blog post where she links to two different take on the China Olympics by two different Conservatives, George Will and David Brooks:

http://dianawest.net/Default.aspx?tabid=36&EntryID=409

Will defends individualism but Brooks, well I'll let him speak for himself:

"If Asia's success reopens the debate between individualism and collectivism (which seemed closed after the cold war), then it's unlikely that the forces of individualism will sweep the field or even gain an edge...

For one thing, there are relatively few individualistic societies on earth. For another, the essence of a lot of the latest scientific research is that the Western idea of individual choice is an illusion and the Chinese are right to put first emphasis on social conexts. ...

The rise of China isn't only an economic event. It's a cultural one. The ideal of the harmonious colllective may turn out to be as attractive as the ideal of the American Dream."

And this is from a Conservative no less. China is probably going to make collectivism even more attractive to those already predisposed towards it.

Gus Van Horn said...

"And this is from a Conservative no less. China is probably going to make collectivism even more attractive to those already predisposed towards it. "

Ideologically, many conservatives -- and David brooks is one of them -- are arguably worse than leftists in so far as they are collectivists. It is surprising to hear a conservative say something like this only because they have posed as advocates of capitalism for so long.

China will not make collectivism any more attractive to collectivists than it already is -- but it will be trumpeted around the world by them (as Brooks demonstrates) as an alleged "example" of how collectivism can "work". Never mind that China is inconsistently collectivist or that what such people mean by "work" is "make collectivism look good to those who want the fruits of individual freedom".

softwareNerd said...

Zipcar... my brother used to use them when he lived in NYC, and he loved their service. he found it more convenient than Hertz for the occasional weekend rental.

The turn around time was easier -- Zipcars are parked in various garages, so they're as near or nearer than the closest Hertz. However, more importantly, you walk up to the car, swipe a card and you're off -- no standing behind two other renters in line while the Hertz guy tries to sell them insurances.

Second, the Zip-car came with an EZ-Pass -- used on some toll tunnels and bridges. That meant not standing in the slow cash-lanes.

The pricing was good, as long as one used it enough to justify the annual fee.

Gus Van Horn said...

Didn't know about the EZ Pass. Nice!

I'm on the fence, mainly because the primary need for a car may come from my wife's nights on call at the hospital and we don't know exactly how that's going to shape up yet.

She needs be be able to get there reliably and quickly. Is even the walk to our nearest Zipcar going to take too long? How reliably will the cars be returned?

But she starts call soon and will do a conventional car rental for the first weekend(s) until she has a better idea of what her needs really will be.

I checked into it a little bit yesterday and, if it were just me, I'd probably do it.