August 30, 2011

QotD: Casinos are a neon-decorated IRS

Filed under: Government, Humour, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 12:07

. . . no phenomenon of nature could possibly be as strange as the alternative reality one encounters entering Wendover, Nevada. In that physical regime, hotels and restaurants are connected to—and often concentric with—caverns with mirrored ceilings, walls, and columns, making it difficult to find your way across the room. Serried ranks of electronic slot machines are clung to by half-starved-looking wights — the cigarettes in their hands nothing but long cylinders of gray ash — worshipping runes that appear when they insert a coin and watch the lights and listen to musical notes that would make a Pac-Man fan start screaming, tearing his hair, and running for the roof with a rifle.

To be sure, there are other kinds of gambling going on. I saw a poker room, roulette wheels, and a genuine James Bond baccarat table. But they were truly lost in a great labyrinth of electronic slots. I was surprised not to see slot machines on a free wall of the men’s room.

I’d seen all of this before, mind you. I was in Las Vegas last year, and it was my second time. I first saw it only a couple of years after Bugsy Siegal did. And I gotta confess to youse guys, I just don’ geddit.

What I mean is, there are a number of points of view that various human beings have, which I am forced to accept purely intellectually. I know there are men who find other men sexually attractive, but I don’t really understand it. I know there are grownup people who seem to go into shock when they discover that their aged parents still enjoy sex — I think my mother would have lived longer if she’d had a boyfriend. And I know — but do not understand that folks like to hand their hard-earned money to casino owners who already have plenty of it.

Casinos are like a neon-decorated IRS.

L. Neil Smith, “The Past That Never Was — The Future That Will Never Be”, Libertarian Enterprise, 2011-08-28

Britons up in arms: Twinings to “change” Earl Grey tea

Filed under: Britain, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 07:42

Chris Greaves sent me this link, along with a hint that things could get dicey in English tea rooms:

Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey, gave the world many things, notable among them the Reform Act of 1832, but most of us remember him as the man they named a kind of tea after. Earl Grey is a brilliant tea; even its name conjures up both class and softness (most teas taste like they should be called Baron Harsh), and its taste — bergamot, by and large — is unique yet not too disturbing for the British palate.

I love it, and was once even mocked by John Cleese for ordering it at a writers’ meeting. (“Earl Grey?! Ooo! Ai’m going to have some AIRL GRAY!!” he yelled in a Monty Python shriek. He had himself ordered some sort of Californian fruit tea, so was not, I felt, in much of a position to criticise.)

Twinings’ bizarre plan to change the flavour of Earl Grey seems a misguided one. It has added more lemon and more bergamot to make it even more “wonderful”. Leaving aside the fact that only in the world of tea-producing have the words “more bergamot” and “wonderful” ever been combined, you do feel that they have, how can I put it, gone barmy. Earl Grey is Earl Grey. Variants like the apparently popular “Lady Grey” — it’s got orange in it — and this new Earl Grey Bergamot City, or whatever it’s called, are not really needed. (The Earl Grey-flavoured Kit-Kat was, if Wikipedia is to be believed, fortunately confined to the Japanese market.)

A different kind of flash mob: classical music at a Copenhagen train station

Filed under: Media, Railways, Randomness — Tags: — Nicholas @ 07:37

H/T to Penn Jillette for the link.

Trivializing rape

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 07:23

Wendy McElroy points out how the underlying messages of the SlutWalkers have overwhelmed the original intent:

One message: It is fabulous for women to publicly flaunt their sexuality but an intolerable offense if men respond nonviolently. Wolf-whistles are taken as an attack. Disapproving or overly approving comments from men are an assault. But isn’t provoking a response the entire purpose of wearing fishnet stockings topped by a leather bustier?

Another message, as pointed out by Margaret Wente in the Globe and Mail: “Slutwalks are what you get when graduate students in feminist studies run out of things to do.” In other words, SlutWalks are an expression of privileged women who mistake a costume party for a political cause. While Iranian women fight for the right to pursue an education, North American feminists fight to reclaim pride in the word “slut.” SlutWalk is an extreme expression of mainstream feminism’s political impoverishment.

Yet SlutWalkers proclaim they are performing a political service by protesting the trivialization of rape. Nonsense. They are using the ill-considered words of one ignorant policeman as a reason to throw a street party.

I do not begrudge anyone having a good time but as a woman who has experienced rape, I object to the political agenda being attached to a costume party. I object to the posters and attitudes that vilify men as predators. I do so because I was attacked by one man, not by mankind, and when I was helped, it was by men. I object to the notion that women do not bear any responsibility for controlling their circumstances, such as attire. I object to rape being trivialized by associating it with sluttiness and making it part of a celebration.

The Canadian economic recovery

Filed under: Cancon, Economics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 07:06

David Lee compares the Canadian experience in the most recent recession with that of other nations:

As Republicans and Democrats pushed America further and further to the left and Europe approached ever closer to its socialist ideals, Canada’s political discussion turned from which party could offer the greatest subsidies to the greatest number, to which party’s program of tax cuts would be of more benefit to the economy. For a country where an openly avowed socialist party regularly polls in the top three in provincial and federal elections, this is no small feat. For perhaps the first time in its history, Canada finds itself at the most pro-market limit of the political spectrum among the world’s industrialized nations.

It is not only in this regard that Canada has become an island unto its own. Equally unique to the country is its economic performance subsequent to the financial crisis of 2007 and throughout the ensuing alternations between recession and stagnation that has characterized the experience of the greater part of the developed world since. As the world teeters from crisis to crisis, Canada has proven remarkably resilient in spite of its heavy economic dependence on international trade. Whether there is any significance to the coincidence of these two anomalies will be examined in what is to follow.

By no means is this piece to be taken as an unqualified endorsement of the policies undertaken by the incumbent administration. Despite the overall tenor of the article, this piece could have just as easily been scathing indictment as commendation. The appraisal to be made varies directly with the choice of benchmark. Measured against examples that more closely approximate the free-market ideal such as 1980s-era Hong Kong and Jacksonian America, Canada falls hopelessly short.

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