January 20, 2011

In case you weren’t worried enough about the rise of China

Filed under: China, Economics, Government, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 16:23

The Wall Street Journal rounds up the leading indicators of the current “USA sliding down the ladder” worries:

Of all the differences between dictatorship and democracy, probably none is so overlooked as the ability of the former to project strength, and the penchant of the latter to obsess about its own weakness.

In 1957 the Soviets launched Sputnik and the U.S. went into a paroxysm of nerves about our supposed backwardness in matters ballistic. Throughout the 1980s Americans lived with “Japan as Number One” (the title of a book by Harvard professor Ezra Vogel, though the literature was extensive) and wondered whether Mitsubishi’s purchase of Rockefeller Center qualified as a threat to American sovereignty.

Now there’s China, whose President is visiting the U.S. this week amid a new bout of American hypochondria. In an op-ed last week in these pages, Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center noted that a plurality of Americans, 47%, are under the erroneous impression that China is the world’s leading economy. News reports regarding Chinese military strides, or the academic prowess of Shanghai high school students, contribute to Western perceptions of Chinese ascendancy. So does the false notion that Beijing’s holdings of U.S. debt amounts to a sword of Damocles over Washington’s head.

Oh, we nearly forgot: Tough-as-nails Chinese mothers are raising child prodigies (a billion of them!) while their Western counterparts indulge their kids with lessons in finger-painting.

There you go, more than enough to keep you up late tonight worrying about the inevitability of China’s rise to top economic dog in the pack. Of course, most of it is misinterpretation of the facts, but you can worry about it if you want.

H/T to Jon, my former virtual landlord, for the link.

QotD: The ongoing retreat of freedom of speech in Canada

It used to be there actually had to be a violent protest before public institutions caved in and cancelled controversial events. That was unjustifiable, too. Police and officials should always seek to protect law-abiding speakers and organizers from the angry mob. Those who seek to disrupt events just because they disagree with the speakers should be the ones inconvenienced, not those exercising their constitutional rights.

Now, though, it seems the mere whiff of protest is enough for officialdom to bow to would-be protestors’ demands. Get together a group of unhinged radicals or zealots in someone’s rumpus room, make a couple of angry phone calls and — poof! — you can get your way and silence free speech and free assembly. Organizers, especially those connected with public institutions such as universities, museums and galleries, apparently care not a whit about free expression or individual choice. Their first instinct is to crater to protestors; let the forces of oppression and extremism have their way. Forget about preserving democracy and open debate, officials will act as the forces of censorship want.

Some of this has to do with the increased anger and vehemence of protestors, no doubt. In recent years, young lefties in particular have convinced themselves that only their positions are fact-based and only their positions can save the world. All other opinions are lies, as well as being threats to mankind and the planet. Therefore they are justified in any action they take to stymie opposing views, which they also believe are unworthy of free speech protection. They truly believe they are doing a public service when they shout down speakers or force the cancellation of events by smashing windows or jostling attendees outside the doors.

Lorne Gunter, “We’ve become a wimpy state, as well as a nanny state”, National Post, 2011-01-20

A theological breakthrough

Filed under: Humour, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:39

DarkWaterMuse found a bit of net litter that suddenly became the trigger for a profound religious revelation.

I stumbled across this today:

Ya, it’s an old landmark bit from the internet’s past life but has anybody considered the implications?

Not to spoil the suspense for anyone, but the implications really are staggering.

Diagnosing USB issues

Filed under: Americas, Religion, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 08:17

Having problems with your USB connections? Have faith! No, really:

A Brazilian Christian sect has allegedly sought to exorcise the Universal Serial Bus (USB) because its symbol resembles a pitchfork, favoured sinner-spiking implement of one Old Nick, esq.

Well, they do say the Devil has the best tines…

The cult in question, which calls itself Paz do Senhor Amado — “Peace of the beloved Lord” — says, not surprisingly, that this clearly Satanic symbol should be cast out. Or at least unplugged.

Bluetooth, however, is fine, Paz do Senhor Amado preacher Welder Saldanha, told Brazilian site Bobolhando, because blue is the colour of Jesus’ eyes.

This is not the powder you were hoping for

Filed under: Humour, Law, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:59

This is bound to show up in some “stupid criminal tricks” roundup:

Florida cops have cuffed a burglary gang who broke into a house and stole the ashes of the owner’s father, believing they were illicit narcotics.

The victim returned to her Silver Springs residence to discover she was short of a few items, including electronics and jewellery. Rather more disturbing was the absence of the ashes of her departed dad, and those of her two Great Danes.

[. . .]

“It was soon discovered that the suspects snorted some of the ashes believing they were snorting cocaine,” local Fox News reports.

Once the penny had dropped, the master criminals ditched their booty, which police are trying to locate.

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