Friday, March 28, 2014

Just Right

In today’s WSJ, Matt Ridley takes a closer look at the soon to be released second part of the latest United Nations IPCC report on the impact of climate change. You know the IPCC, right? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, people who deal strictly in science with facts, data, and all that.

Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm:

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

Others, however, hit home. According to leaks, this time the full report is much more cautious and vague about worsening cyclones, changes in rainfall, climate-change refugees, and the overall cost of global warming.

It puts the overall cost at less than 2% of GDP for a 2.5 degrees Centigrade (or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature increase during this century. This is vastly less than the much heralded prediction of Lord Stern, who said climate change would cost 5%-20% of world GDP in his influential 2006 report for the British government.

The forthcoming report apparently admits that climate change has extinguished no species so far and expresses "very little confidence" that it will do so. There is new emphasis that climate change is not the only environmental problem that matters and on adapting to it rather than preventing it. Yet the report still assumes 70% more warming by the last decades of this century than the best science now suggests. This is because of an overreliance on models rather than on data in the first section of the IPCC report—on physical science—that was published in September 2013.

So the report says that the economic impact of climate change will be much less than previously predicted imagined and that it will lead to species extinction. And that’s based on warming projections that seem unlikely to occur.

In short, the warming we experienced over the past 35 years—about 0.4C (or 0.7F) if you average the measurements made by satellites and those made by ground stations—is likely to continue at about the same rate: a little over a degree a century.

Briefly during the 1990s there did seem to be warming that went as fast as the models wanted. But for the past 15-17 years there has been essentially no net warming (a "hiatus" now conceded by the IPCC), a fact that the models did not predict and now struggle to explain. The favorite post-hoc explanation is that because of natural variability in ocean currents more heat has been slipping into the ocean since 2000—although the evidence for this is far from conclusive.

None of this contradicts basic physics. Doubling carbon dioxide cannot on its own generate more than about 1.1C (2F) of warming, however long it takes. All the putative warming above that level would come from amplifying factors, chiefly related to water vapor and clouds. The net effect of these factors is the subject of contentious debate.

In climate science, the real debate has never been between "deniers" and the rest, but between "lukewarmers," who think man-made climate change is real but fairly harmless, and those who think the future is alarming. Scientists like Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology and Richard Lindzen of MIT have moved steadily toward lukewarm views in recent years.

Even with its too-high, too-fast assumptions, the recently leaked draft of the IPCC impacts report makes clear that when it comes to the effect on human welfare, "for most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers," such as economic growth and technology, for the rest of this century. If temperatures change by about 1C degrees between now and 2090, as Mr. Lewis calculates, then the effects will be even smaller.

Indeed, a small amount of warming spread over a long period will, most experts think, bring net improvements to human welfare. Studies such as by the IPCC author and economist Professor Richard Tol of Sussex University in Britain show that global warming has probably done so already. People can adapt to such change—which essentially means capture the benefits but minimize the harm. Satellites have recorded a roughly 14% increase in greenery on the planet over the past 30 years, in all types of ecosystems, partly as a result of man-made CO2 emissions, which enable plants to grow faster and use less water.

These more realistic warming projections would mean that climate change will have even less impact than the already dialed back IPCC report suggests. And if the warming that does occur is indeed relatively minor it could be a net benefit for mankind.

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

March 24th, 2006 is burned into the memory of Gopher hockey fans as a day of infamy. That afternoon, the Gophers who were the #1 seed on the West Regional as well as being the top seeded team in the NCAA tournament, fell to #4 seeded (and #16 overall) Holy Cross. In overtime. In Grand Forks. In front of eleven thousand raucous Sioux Team That Shall No Longer Be Named fans who-in classic schadenfreude fashion- savored every single minute of the Gophers humiliating and bitter defeat.

The game is still regarded as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA tournament history and still remains an open wound for Gopher fans which rivals fans still eagerly pour salt into at every opportunity:

Some Gopher fans maintain that given the circumstances and the setting of that game, nothing could be worse than that lose. Or could it?

Consider the Gopher’s NCAA tournament opening game tomorrow afternoon against Robert Morris (it’s a school not a tobacco company). The Gophers are the #1 seed in the West Regional and Robert Morris is #4. The Gophers are the #1 overall seed in the tournament and Robert Morris is #16. Sound familiar so far?

Now consider the differences. In 2006, Holy Cross had a 26-9-2 record. This year, Robert Morris finished 19-17-5. In 2006, Holy Cross was ranked #21 in the PairWise rankings. This year, Robert Morris is ranked #44 in the PairWise rankings (remember there are only 59 teams in D1 college hockey). In 2006, the Gophers had to face Holy Cross in front of a crowd of mostly hostile North Dakota fans at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. This year, the Gophers will face Robert Morris in front of mostly friendly Minnesota fans at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

By any objective measure, the Gophers losing to Robert Morris tomorrow would be a bigger upset than their 2006 loss to Holy Cross. Would it be worse? That’s more subjective and would be a judgment that individual Gopher fans would have to make for themselves. Here’s hoping it’s one that we don’t have to make.

For those Gopher fans looking for a reason to worry, consider the following. In 2006, the last two games the team played before the NCAA tournament were lackluster losses to St. Cloud State and Wisconsin in the WCHA Final Five in St. Paul. This year, the last two games before the tournament were lackluster loses at Michigan to close the regular season and against Ohio State in the Big ten tournament in St. Paul.

The best way for the Gophers to ease their fans nerves (and any they any might have themselves) would be to get up early and get up big tomorrow against Robert Morris. In any good can come of the 2006 loss to Holy Cross, it might be in serving as a timely reminder to this years’ team that you can’t take anything for granted at this time of year.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

HWX: The Naked Truth

It's a special midweek edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience (HWX), with John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvening to bring you the finest in podcast excellence.  Topics addressed this week include:
*  Recap of the Minneapolis Ricochet Meet Up and revelation of the location of the salvageable audio from the Lost HWX episode recorded that night
*  Power Line vs. The Washington Post’s embarrassing reporting on Canadian oil sands and the Koch Brothers, with the man who made the news, John Hinderaker
*  Loon of the Week – CNN and the black hole theory of the missing Malaysian plane
*  This Week in Gatekeeping – tacit admissions and abject denials about Newsweek’s reporting on the alleged inventor of the Bit Coin

We were also pleased to be joined by Paul Skousen, author of The Naked Socialist.  We talk about what socialism is, why it’s been with us for so long, and why, despite its record of failure, it continues to have a hold on humanity.  We also talk about why he considers the Constitution the “miracle that stopped socialism” and how, despite recent trends, we could still separate ourselves from it in the future.

Here's the link for the show:  HWX:  The Naked Truth
(Normal channels of accessing the podcast, like the little player in the upper right hand corner of hits website, are experiencing temporary technical difficulties with the Ricochet 2.0 transition.  Please stand by for their return.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Pick 'Em and Weep

The puck drops on Friday to start the NCAA hockey tournament. And once again this year there is a Fraters group in the USCHO College Hockey Pickem Challenge:

Think you know who will win the Frozen Four? Sign up and make your picks. After all, why should the hoops fans get to have all the fun?

It's easy. Register a username and password to sign-up. Then create a bracket, make your picks and see how your bracket measures up with the rest of the nation. Create or join a group of friends to compete for bragging rights! And, if you're in first place after the final horn, you could win a $100 gift card from! Enjoy the game!

And don't forget, for complete coverage of all the action, visit, your college hockey experts.

The last couple of years have been brutal for my NCAA tournament picks (upsets like the hated Yalies beating the Gophers last year didn’t help), but I think this year things will turn around and balance will be restored to the hockey universe. Robert Morris baby, Robert Morris (this one not that one).

Join the Fraters group and get your picks in today.

Username: Fraters

Password: Fraters

Monday, March 24, 2014

As Good As It Gets

Still think that peanut butter and chocolate are the best combination you can possibly imagine? How about a Prager University course hosted by the ever so witty and wise Jonah Goldberg? Now that would be an unbeatable pairing. And it is with this new course on “social justice” featuring the aforementioned Mr. Goldberg.

In this week's video, author and columnist Jonah Goldberg tells you how to stump your left-wing friends: Ask them to define the term "social justice." That should be easy, right? After all, the term is everywhere: on websites and college campuses, in the mission statements of businesses and charities, and in United Nations reports.

As Mr. Goldberg explains, there is an Alice-in-Wonderland quality to the term "social justice": It means whatever its champions want it to mean. But there is one core idea that is always at the heart of social justice -- an idea that is so destructive and dangerous that the Nobel-prize winning economist F.A. Hayek wanted to dedicate the last years of his life making the term "social justice" shameful.

It truly doesn’t get any better.

Friday, March 21, 2014

NARN: Decade

Retrospective media alert.  A couple of weeks ago, current NARN host Brad Carlson was good enough to have me on to discuss the 10 year anniversary of the phenomenon known as NARN.   What was it like to be in on the ground floor of the first, all blogger, all volunteer radio experiment?  In short, if it would have lasted a few more years, we'd have been fighting to use the title "12 Years a Slave".

No, that's not true. It was the best of times and Brad does a good job of eliciting some of the old memories.  It's all recounted:  the vibe of the inaugural show; the vicious, premature ending of the career of potential radio star the Atomizer; getting blind sided by Goldie Gopher during a parade LIVE on air the State Fair; Be the Change; ice skating squirrels and bikini ice fishing teams. The stories would only have been enhanced if I was able to enunciate and speak more clearly without constant mid-sentence extreme variations in pace, volume, and tone.  Have I been sounding like that for 10 years!?  Apologies Twin Cities.  But thanks for the memories.

Link here:  Brad Carlson Show, March 2, Hour 2.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Children Are Our Future?

Despite that fact that not a single Malthusian prediction of doom and gloom has ever come to pass in reality, there are still people out there who believe that overpopulation is the greatest threat facing mankind. No, really there are.

These folks should be pleased with the news that slumping fertility rates are becoming a global trend:

Other pockets of the developing world also have seen sharp declines in fertility rates, including Brazil, Mexico and parts of India and Southeast Asia. Rising prosperity appears to be one catalyst. If the trend continues, the United Nations projects—in its "low-growth" forecast—that the global population will hit 8.3 billion in 2050 before declining to less than the current level of 7.2 billion by 2100. (Its "mid-growth" forecast projects 10.85 billion by century's end.)

Great news, right? Not so fast. While it’s easy to scare people with threats of overpopulation-depletion of resources, famine, war, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse basically-the dangers of declining populations aren’t as dramatic or easy to explain. But they are real.

Aging is occurring nearly everywhere, and it's happening faster than many people think," says Babatunde Ostimehin, executive director of the United Nations' population program. "If governments don't respond, they could end up facing a crisis."

Demographers such as Michael Teitelbaum at Harvard Law School and Jay Winter, a history professor at Yale University, note that already more than half the world's population lives in aging countries where the fertility rate is less than 2.1 children per woman—the rate required to replace both parents, once infant mortality is taken into account.

This is both an opportunity and a threat. On one hand, it could help preserve natural resources in nations that have been taxed by rapid population growth. But some economists blame a slowdown in population growth for contributing to such disparate events as the Great Depression and Japan's sluggish growth rates in recent decades.

Taking care of an aging population with fewer and fewer young people and anemic economic growth aren’t problems that are going to get the attention or generate the hysteria that overpopulation did (and still does???). They are however very real problems that more and more countries are going to face in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HWX: The Lost Episode

It was nearly two weeks ago today that the Ricochet Minneapolis Meet Up occurred, and the podcast recorded LIVE on site is now ready for public review.   At least parts of it are.  

The boys in the Ricochet lab have been working overtime to salvage as much of the audio as possible, and that turns out to be about a third of what we attempted.  Several of the guest interviews and much of John Hinderaker’s opening remarks are gone.  The official story cites microphone problems and technical incompetence of the on-site sound engineer (John Hinderaker).  But lots of rumors have already emerged on the Internet about the suspicious nature of these Nixonian-like gaps in the tape and what might really have been said.  Maybe it was early details on what Ricochet 2.0 is really going to be like.  Maybe it was John’s prediction on who was going to win in the special election in Florida's 13th district.  Maybe it was Brian promising to buy each and every Ricochet member a free drink every time he sees one of them for the next 25 years.  Tragically, it’s all lost to history now.

But what was saved is good stuff, if you can get beyond the shouting and over modulation:

*  James Lileks on podcasting vs. radio, Anthony Weiner’s anatomy, and Mark Levin’s radio stylings

*  This Week in Gate Keeping, with the New York Times sticking it to Solomon Northup repeatedly over a century and a half

*  Guest appearances by the Crazy Uke and the Nihilist in Golf Pants

And even these remnants are TOO HOT for most of the Internet, they will not appear on Ricochet or iTunes.  Instead they have been leaked exclusively to more counter-cultural, subversive websites, and those with lower professional standards for audio quality.  

Here's the link:  HWX LOST EPISODE

Hope you enjoy.  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Sounds of Science

What does climate change sound like?  

I would have guessed something like this:

According to the University of Minnesota, it sounds slightly different.  In an effort to make the reality of climate change data more accessible to people who can’t relate to charts or graphs or numbers or words, they’ve composed an unaccompanied cello piece, called “Song of Our Warming Planet”.   (Ed. Note - where were they when I needed them to perform this service for calculus, biology, history, geography, gym, lunch, etc.)  They’ve plotted temperature data as musical notes, and it sounds something like this:

Not sure if this data is bad science, but it is bad music.

If the temperature data translated as musical notes would have come out with the melody of “Burning Love” or “Disco Inferno” or something like that, then I might start to take this whole global warming thing seriously.  But a slowly rising, atonal scale?  Heh, nice try, “science”.

The commentary above was written by a non-scientist.  Not a science denier (for I rely on things such as the internal combustion engine and the Mr. Coffee thingamajiggy to sustain life on a daily basis) or a science hater (absolute favorite song of the 80’s – ‘She Blinded Me With Science’ by Thomas Dolby), but someone who doesn’t study or engage in rigorous scientific pursuits on a daily basis.  This puts me in league with about 99% of the rest of humanity.  Relatedly, about  99% of the arguments about the science of “climate change” are among non-scientists, both the defenders and the skeptics.  Those debates can be interesting, cathartic, amusing, and/or valuable.  But they rarely mean anything or get anywhere.  It’s the battle of whose received wisdom and talking points are better memorized.

John Derbyshire is a conservative, a scientific thinker, and a guy who believes that scientific consensus means something (it may turn out to be wrong, but it’s the way to bet).  But he also has this to say on how the complexity of the issue greatly complicates our ability to understand it, let alone do anything about it. 

I had a decent scientific education, and I spent most of my working life up to my elbows in data. I know science and scientists, and I know data, and what can be reasonably drawn from it.
Climate science belongs to the category of scientific topics that are profoundly complex, to a degree that progress in understanding is awfully slow. Other topics in that category are genetics and neuroscience. There is an element of chaos in these topics that puts actual limits on what we can hope to understand.
If you don't know about chaos, go to YouTube and put "double pendulum" into the search box. Probably the first clip that comes up is Steve Troy's movie of an actual double pendulum — a pendulum in two parts joined at a hinge. The motion of the lower pendulum is chaotic. It's determined by the laws of physics — there's nothing magical here — but it's not predictable.
That pendulum has just two moving parts. A population of some species evolving under the laws of genetics, or a brain processing information from inside and outside its parent organism, or a continental weather system, have billions of moving parts, or the equivalent. If the habitat of the species gets colder and drier, will the population evolve this way or that way? If I send a babble of high-pitched noises into its ear, will the organism respond by doing this, or that? If a forest fire dumps a load of smoke and CO2 into the air, will there be more or less rain next week? Lots of luck finding out. These are physical processes determined by laws, but not necessarily predictable.
So I'm cautious on climate change and a bit impatient with people who display certainty about it. Most of those people, in my experience, are fired up by ideology: they hate free-market capitalism, or they hate overbearing government, or they hate science itself.

This speaks to the layers of the climate change debate, and how things start a bit fuzzy and get fuzzier as we go from the question of ‘Is it getting warmer?’ to ‘what is causing the warming?’ to ‘what are the consequences of the warming’ to ‘what can we do to prevent this warming?’ to ‘do the costs of the prevention outweigh the costs of the warming?’  The scientific consensus weakens with each wrung on that ladder.  But climate change as a political issue takes a package approach.  It’s warming, it’s the fault of fossil fuel consumption, it’s catastrophic, and more taxes and regulation is the only cure which will save us. 

As Derbyshire notes:

A lot of the climate scientists, including Michael Mann, have made a political cause of their findings — a socialistic cause, demanding expansions of power for governments and globalist organizations, and huge expenditures of public money.
I part company with them on that. I think you can be opposed to the globalist-socialist solution without denying the problem. That's a minority view. Most conservatives part company with them on the politics, and assume the science must be wrong too — a logical error, but a natural one if you have no science. That's where the anti-Warmist fervor comes from.
So there's this anti-Warmist passion among conservatives, and it spills over into vituperation against the scientists, which is justifiable when they venture into politics, and against their results, which is not justifiable. Data is data; results are results; some things are true even though the Party says they are true. 

There are scientists, like Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer, who do take issue with the concept of an abnormally warming climate.  That debate is best held between them and their colleagues, with the rest of us acting as informed consumers of their findings.  It’s in the jump from the science to the political remedy that the 99% of us non-scientists can best advance the debate. 

In parting, here’s the video of the double pendulum.  Something to think about next time a politician assures you that they can stop the rise of the oceans if only you give them your vote.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Separated At Birth?

Crazed, cocaine-fueled former NHL tough guy Bob Probert:

And crazed, IPA-fueled, current beer league middle manager Chad The Elder:

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The People You Meet

Last Saturday, before Mass started at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Jebel Ali, Dubai, the priest announced that there was a special visitor in attendance. I thought it likely going to be a religious person of local or regional renown. So I was surprised when the priest revealed that the special guest was none other than the first president of Poland in the post-communist era Lech Walesa.

Wow. Alongside the likes of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II he was one of heroes of freedom who helped win the Cold War. And here he was in church sitting ten rows in front of me. I watched the gray hairs on the back of his head throughout the mass and saw him receive communion. I kept thinking to myself “that’s Lech Walesa, right there” as if I couldn’t believe it was really him.

When the mass ended, I decided to stick around and see what happened. I didn’t know if Mr. Walesa would make a speedy exit or if there might be an opportunity to approach him. I didn’t really know what I would say or do if given that chance, but thought I’d at least give it a shot.

He had been seated in the first row and as he made his way toward the exit, he paused to allow fellow church goers to shake his hand and take pictures. I snapped this shot as he approached me.

Yes, it's blurry, but he was moving and I didn't have a lot of time to focus.

When he got closer, I did shake his hand and offer a quick greeting, but decided that under the circumstances taking a selfie would not be dignified. He made his way out of the church pretty quickly and was on his way shortly thereafter. After all, he was there for the mass not for glad-handing with the crowd.

I have no idea why Mr. Walesa was in Dubai. I was there on a business trip. You never know who you’re going to run into or where.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

One Thumb Up, One Thumb Down

Breaking movie news out of the greater Stillwater area:
The Marcus Oakdale Cinema in Oakdale was recently awarded an expanded liquor license, allowing moviegoers to imbibe while watching the big screen.
The theater was granted a license in November restricting liquor sales and consumption to a proposed restaurant/lounge area, but came back to the council with an expanded request, which was approved Jan. 28. 

Vincent Vega would also approve, as he recounted in Pulp Fiction:
Vincent: You know what the funniest thing about Europe is?
Jules: What?
Vincent: It's the little differences. I mean, they got the same sh*t over there that we got here, but it's's just, there it's a little different.
Jules: Example?
Vincent: All right. Well, you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don't mean just like in no paper cup; I'm talking about a glass of beer.

With this move, we take one giant leap toward become more like Europe.  If this is what Barack Obama meant by fundamentally transforming America, I also approve.   

However, in truth, I haven’t bought beverages at the movies for many years.  I always buy popcorn, it’s as important to me as the movie itself in motivating a trip to the cinema.  You can’t procure good movie theater popcorn on your own.  No store-bought product compares.  So, despite the massive mark-up on cost, I’ll buy the popcorn at the movies.  Then I will get thirsty.  They sell Diet Coke at the theater, but …. you most certainly can procure the same Diet Coke they sell at the movies on your own.  A deep pocket, a purse, a European carryall is all you need for some easy BYOB and big, big savings on beverages.  

While I applaud the Marcus Oakdale for enhancing their offerings with adult beverages, I assume they’ll be applying normal movie theater markups, meaning a Michelob Golden Draft will cost something on the order of $84.  I assure you I can procure identical options elsewhere at a fraction of the cost, and they can be transported via deep pockets, purse, or European carryall.  In the past, I would have felt strange smuggling booze into the officially dry, family atmosphere of the theater.  But now that prohibition has ended, so has the social taboo on rum smuggling.  So be it.  No one ever said the expansion of civil rights wouldn’t have unintended consequences.

Another development at Marcus Oakdale bears mentioning.  It’s one of the few theaters in the country to adopt the Dream Lounger model:

Marcus Theaters is introducing a new experience it’s calling UltraScreen DLX at theaters in Columbus, Ohio; Addison, Ill.; and Oakdale, Minn, it said Wednesday in a news release.
The concept combines Marcus’ UltraScreens, giant screens of at least 65 feet in width, with immersive sound and DreamLoungers, leather electric recliners. All seating is reserved at time of ticket purchase. It will be introduced in Columbus and Addison on Friday and in Oakdale on Tuesday, the release said.
“The combination of the incredibly comfortable seating with the enormous screen and immersive audio is a multi-sensory cinematic experience unavailable anywhere else in the world,” the release said.

They introduced this last year in Oakdale, and while it all sounds good, it’s not playing out that way.  
First, the Dream Lounger seats are not individual recliners, they’re two person love seats with a thin retractable arm in between.  

When you’re at a Hugh Grant tear jerker with your best girl, that’s all well and fine.  But when you’re at the latest Steven Segal action classic with your dude bros, it’s a little strange to be forced to cozy up together on the couch.  Worse yet, if you have an odd numbered party, and a crowded theater, you’ve now got a free agent destined to be sharing a small couch in the dark with a complete stranger.  There’s a *chance* that’s going to work out just fine.  But odds are you’re far more likely to be snuggling up to a middle-aged, overweight truck driver from Lake Elmo than Patricia Arquette in True Romance.
The second problem is the reclining itself.  The Dream Loungers allow you to recline all the way, so you’re virtually flat on your back.  There’s just something weird about being in that position while in public with a group of strangers.  This is true even if you’re not sharing a love seat with a middle-aged, overweight trucker from Lake Elmo.  You’re in a dark room lying around with a bunch of people you don’t know.  It’s undignified, maybe that’s the problem.  And being in the supine position is not inherently the best way to enjoy a movie.  It’s the best way to pass out while watching the movie, especially when you throw in the liquor component.   But if you’re there to engage with the movie (to experience the thrills, the emotion, the tension, the laughter), sitting is better.  All you need is a comfortable seat, there’s no value added in being horizontal.

The third issue is that all Dream Lounger theaters have reserved seats.  At point of purchase, you’re shown an electronic map of what’s taken and what’s not and you choose your fate.  Again, in principle a fine idea.  It allows you to have advance control for seat positioning within the theater and crowding preference, do you want to sit by other people or not?  But, the problem is that all movie patrons are not created equal.  For optimal seat selection, you have to size up who is going to be sharing your immediate space with you.  It’s all about distraction potential.  You want quiet, well-behaved people.  You don’t want youths, or aggregations of chattering friends, or funny guys attempting Mystery Science Theater 3000 material, or old couples who don’t realize they’re not in their living room and provide a running stream of inane observations to each other for two hours.  These people must be avoided.  In the pre-reserved days, you enter the theater, scan the crowd, and find the sweet spots to sit.  After a few decades of movie attendance, this process is second nature and takes no time or effort.  But in the reserved world, you’re stuck with the uninformed choice you were forced to make in advance.  Now when you’re heading toward your assigned seat and you see one of the problematic profiles clustered around it, you feel like you’re trapped in the gravitation pull of a black hole of bad movie experiences.  (The only worse thing I can think of is having this happen while going to see Disney’s The Black Hole.)

Finally, making things even worse, since the Dreamer Loungers are bigger seats, there are fewer total seats in the theater.  This leads to more general crowding and a higher potential of sitting near problematic people.  In the past, there was always the last, desperate option of getting up and moving if your initial seat selection didn’t work out.  But now, the frontier of empty seats is gone.  All seats are reserved, owned by someone.  Any move from your designated space now risks hearing those witheringly uncomfortable words “hey pal, you’re in my seat!”

In short, the individual parts of movies, liquor, reclining seats, and reservations are terrific.  Together, they are a dystopian nightmare.  Nice try Marcus Theaters, but now you know how the producers of The Cannonball Run 2 must have felt.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Oliver Stone's Commie Art

People (especially super rich people) like Oliver Stone have a lot of options when it comes to tastefully decorating their dwellings.  Mid-century modern has been big for a while and continues to grace the pages of Architectural Digest and the WSJ on a regular basis.

But what of Commie Chic?  Is there such a thing in design?  What would we get crossing Keith Haring and I dunno Chairman Mao?

This shot is from Friday's WSJ showing the New York apartment Oliver Stone is selling.

Check out the enormous painting dwarfing the living space--a couple of very determined, hardened, righteous, proud Commie Gals!  Are they Chinese?  North Korean?  North Vietnamese?  What was it that so moved Oliver that he needed to be greeted by them every morning and have them watch him as he conducted his daily affairs?

Help us understand why this art was so moving Oliver.

UPDATE--A guy who knows a communist when he sees one--you know, considering he literally used TO BE ONE HIMSELF, David Horowitz says this of Stone based on his Showtime mini series:

 On the evidence of his new Showtime mini-series and companion book, Oliver Stone is both a communist and political moron, a redundancy to be sure. 

We should start a You Might Be a Communist meme here on Fraters.

If you proudly hang 12 foot art of communist women in your apartment, you might be a communist

If you produce a mini series heralding Lenin as a visionary leader, you might be a communist

Sunday, March 02, 2014

HWX: The Crazy Uke

Its a weekend special edition of the Hinderaker-Ward Experience (HWX), with John Hinderaker of Power Line and Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas reconvening to discuss the vital issues of the age.  Topics addressed include:

*  Data on the historically brutal nature of this winter in Minnesota

*  The demand for action now on climate change by John Kerry

*  The situation in the Ukraine with guest Andriy Karkos (i.e., the “Crazy Uke” from Lileks World)

*  The status of the Obama foreign policy reset with Russia

*  Loon of the Week (Harry Reid on the TRUTH about Obamacare)

*  This Week in Gatekeeping  (advanced journalism tip – don’t assume whoever answers the phone is the Congressional candidate you wanted to interview)

We also discussed the Minneapolis Ricochet Meet Up next Saturday, March 8.  It’s at Keegan’s Pub in Minneapolis, featuring James Lileks, John Hinderaker, Brian Ward and lot of other friends from Minnesota media and politics. It's starts at 5pm, all are invited, and we’d love to meet any listeners to HWX.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.