Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Turkey and TAFTA

Jim Bennett has another column (via Instapundit) about Turkey and the European Union and how Turkey would be a much better fit in an economic union with the US and parts of Eastern Europe that aren't particularly thrilled with the idea of union with the declining social collectivists of Western Europe - see my Estonia post about four posts down. Maybe this idea will have some legs. I remember my sister telling me, after her visit to Istanbul last spring, that the Turks have a sphere of influence of their own in Central Asia that has unique cultural attributes. It's not Arab, not Russian, not Persian, but Turkic. With the discovery of oil and natural gas in many of the new nations with traditional ties to Turkey, we may see the emergence of a rival to the sclerotic states of the Gulf and OPEC. Perhaps in a few years the Palestinian psychosis will abate for lack of wealthy patrons. One can only hope.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

La Fee Verte

Ken Layne has an interesting link to an absinthe website with all kinds of info about the "Green Faery". The description of what happens to you when you drink a bottle is fascinating in a macabre way. I'm thinking of trying it someday. The smoked caviar and snail eggs are calling my name, as well.
So, two new hobbies to try - shooting and drinking absinthe. Just as long as I keep them separated....
Whittle-ing the anti-gun nuts down to size

Rachel Lucas has posted a long but eloquent defense of gun ownership by a Bill Whittle. It's worth the time to read and print out and pass out at your next PTA meeting or gun nut convention or Republican Caucus. I have a sudden strong desire to go to the local range and learn to shoot. Think I will.

What is it with restaurants that want you to do all the work?

For instance 1, Subway and Subway clones: I am sick and tired of ordering a specific sandwich from a menu, with a specific price on it and having people ask me what I want on it. Bread, please. Even though I know I shouldn’t, loving the Atkins diet as I do. Then fill the bread with the stuff that has to do with the sandwich you advertised. Don’t ask me if I want tuna salad when I ordered a fake crab sandwich. How many times do I have to say I want fake crab?

Then you do the work. Put on mayonnaise, mustard, relish, peppers, whatever makes the sandwich a good fake crab sandwich. Oh, OK, maybe you can ask me whether I want hot peppers or not because there are so many wussies out there who would faint if they got anything hotter than a tomato in their prissy little gullets. But that’s it! None of that “how much lettuce do you want?” nonsense. You’re the darn sandwich professional. You figure it out and do it right. Don’t do it right and I won’t be back and I REFUSE to guide you through the process, to train you in how to make a sandwich. For six bucks a sandwich you can train your own sandwich makers!

For instance 2, buffet restaurants: Terminate them with extreme prejudice. I do not want to go into a restaurant and pay ten bucks for lunch and have to work for half an hour in a kitchen putting together my own plate of food. Only in America! Oh, and maybe smorgasbrod-addicted islamofascist-coddling Scandinavia. I will not take a new plate every time I go up. I know your plan. You want to be able to bring over all your non-English-speaking buddies and let them work setting out food and clearing tables because with a buffet they don’t actually have to know any English to talk to people and serve their needs. Heck, the ones I’ve run into don’t even know the difference between a beer and a coke. All they say is “Go ahead, go ahead! Buffet for you! Leave me alone! Fill up your own plate, silly American! What you think I come all the way from Myanmar to figure out how to actually cook food the way you want it and serve it to you when you’re ready. Hah!”

Which brings me to the point. Meals should be civilized occasions. Civilized men take a civilized break and talk about civilized subjects. Like in Nero Wolfe’s brownstone. Or in that movie, “My Dinner with Andre”. Remember that? Would that movie even have been possible if Wallace Shawn and Andre had to get up every ten minutes, get a clean plate and decide what kinds of sushi to load up on and oh, yeah, let’s pile on some raspberry Jello, macaroni salad and a plate of soup. They wouldn’t have had any time to talk. These ridiculous restaurants only work because modern barbarians are more afraid of sitting at a table with nothing to talk about than anything that could happen to them at the buffet table. They’d rather ooh and aah about the six kinds of sushi than concoct an opinion about whether we should invade Pakistan or just let it implode.
Dream come true or nightmare?
Lots of stories on EU enlargement are popping up like mushrooms after the rain. John O'Sullivan has a dyspeptic view. The International Sentinel has another article, walking the sunny side of the street. The comments are interesting. The Telegraph is reporting, (via Drudge) that the EU is bulking up militarily. Sure. Give them twenty years with Hitler in charge and they might be able to take on one of our aircraft carriers. Let's see, the Ark Royal is 20,000 tons. The Nimitz is 95,000 tons. The Ark Royal can launch Harriers, subsonic but, oooh, they can land straight up and down! That's really going to help them up against F-15s!

Update - paradise in Estonia?
At least one potential Euro-borg absorbee is not that happy about the prospect. (via News Forum) And the information about Estonia's economy makes it sound decidedly like my kind of place. Maybe we can emigrate! Mmm! Lynx stew with a side of bear!

Monday, December 16, 2002

Europe is doomed - still
I'm going to keep on beating this drum until France petitions to become a state of the Union. In this story about Germany, the Financial Times is banging the drum for me (via Drudge). Schroder's tax assault on savers is seen as a threat to industry and investment in general. Duh. Why is it in times of financial crisis, governments think first about raising taxes? Oh, I know. The alternative is reducing the size of government by, in Deutschland's case, at least half, for starters, as well as lightening the regulatory load. But no. Charge right into the machineguns for the Vaterland, dummkopf!

I could have used a few more details. What is a "unitary savings tax" of 25 percent? Do they take a quarter of your savings account? Or do they tax money that goes into savings at a 25 percent rate, compared to a higher regular rate? Even I could think of ways around that. I'd just put all my money in savings and borrow on it. Net gain to the economy: nichts.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Burger imperialism
If we would only stop sending a battalion of Marines along every time a new McDonald's opens, to force people to buy the burgers, maybe the world wouldn't stop the restaurants from opening. I mean, if it were up to the free will of the people whether they bought food there, who could possibly object? If a lot of people didn't like having a McDonald's around, they could just not buy the burgers and it would go out of business and leave (see Update story). So it must be the soldiers running around forcing campesinos at gunpoint to part with a month's income for a Happy Meal that gets people upset. That's the only sane reason I can see for a country so poor millions of its people cross deserts at the risk of their lives to get to California to find jobs, for god's sake, to reject employment opportunities right in their own cities.

Update - You just can't please everybody
In another country people are complaining because McDonald's is leaving. But it only catered to the rich anyway. A school teacher had to "save up for a week" to afford a burger meal. A week? Heavens. I don't know that many people in America who go to McDonald's every week. I guess The Bush Tyranny must have decided to redeploy the burger-extortion battalions from Bolivia to Mexico. Now maybe Jose Bove or Michael Moore will lead a demonstration to force McDonald's to stay in order to save jobs.
Minor victory. I passed the MPRE, prelude to the Florida Bar examination. Of course, I took and passed it seventeen years ago in New Hampshire, but the Florida authorities made me take it over. A New Hampshire license isn't much good in Florida and anyway I let my good standing lapse by the simple expedient of not paying my NH bar dues for ten years! It's actually costing me less to register for the Florida exam than it would to reinstate myself in NH. Now on to the bar exam itself, in February. A colleague at work is kindly allowing me to study with her materials. I'm energized! Right now I plan to practice immigration law. I am looking forward to it. The challenge is to ignore the inconsistencies and outright errors of the law to get the score I need to practice. No, don't think about the drug war or the draft or the overwhelming size of government that is supported by the legal system. Perhaps I can be a force for change.
Loves his People???!!
If Mandela "loves his people" so much, why is he killing them with AZT and other anti-retrovirals? Ah, I see the key phrase: "Lots of money". Hmm, I wonder where that's going to come from? How blind can people be? But as long as they love the poor, how can they ever go wrong?

Any which way but slantwise
Hey, that's right, this is supposed to be a blog about cryptic puzzles. I did the latest from Richard Maltby in Harper's, "Quo Vadis". It's quite challenging. I thought for the longest time I was going to have to leave it undone. I hate it when that happens. But it finally "broke" and I was able to fill in every blank. The only problem is, I'm not exactly sure why I got some of the answers. I know the letters entered are correct, but I just don't get the exact explication of the clue. That's bothersome, too, because I hate to think I've actually completed the puzzle when some answers are incompletely analyzed. Guess I'll have to live with it. Wake up screaming, I will.