So You’re the Shanghai World’s Fair. That Don’t Impress Us Much

 

China recently played host to a number of hot and happening bloggers on the left, offering a kind of guided tour that differs as much as a safari from a zoo. Virginia Postrel gives us a hint as to why it’s more of a lure for influential American audiences than China’s big expo:

Compared to the much-derided commercialism of U.S. world’s fairs, the Shanghai exposition actually suffers from a paucity of consumer pleasures, instead emphasizing national pavilions. Segregated on the less-popular western side of the Huangpu, even the corporate pavilions tend toward state-directed infrastructure. Here the Expo betrays another reason Americans gave up on world’s fairs. Their vision of progress started to seem both socially obnoxious and empirically false.

The Best Thing Ever Written by Maureen Dowd

 

I’m not usually a big Maureen Dowd fan. It’s not that I generally disagree with her–although I do generally disagree with her–it’s that most of the time she’s just not funny, and nothing’s more painful than jokes that fall flat. But this piece in Vanity Fair about Saudi Arabia is just superb. It’s not only the best piece I’ve ever read by Maureen Dowd, it’s the best piece I’ve ever read about Saudi Arabia. I’ve always wondered why she enjoys that cushy sinecure at The New York Times, seeing as I’ve always thought her talentless. I was wrong. She can be brilliant, as this article shows.

The Kingdom Centre mall has a ladies’ floor on top shielded by high, wavy frosted glass, so that men—with all the maturity of Catholic schoolboys in stairwells—can’t peer up from below. Signs on the ladies’ floor tell women, once inside, to take off their head coverings: that way, a Peeping Abdul can’t disguise himself in female garb and wander lustfully among them. On the ladies’ floor, you’re actually allowed to try on clothes. On floors where the sexes mingle, you often have to buy whatever you want in different sizes and take it all home to try on. The mere thought of a disrobed woman behind a dressing-room door is apparently too much for men to handle. There’s something profoundly poignant about seeing little girls running around the malls in normal clothes, playing with little boys in normal ways—you know what’s in store for them in just a few years. When I reached puberty, my mother gave me a book called On Becoming a Woman. When these girls reach puberty, they’ll have a black tarp thrown over their heads.

Reagan’s Dad

 

Like to hear from Peter and other Richocheters on this. As a Notre Dame man, I might be thought to favor Ronald Reagan as George Gipp in “Knute Rockne, All American.” Yet I’ve always preferred “The Winning Team,” where Reagan played pitching great Grover Cleveland Alexander — with Doris Day playing wife Aimee. Last night I saw it again for the first time in many, many years, and found another reason to like it.

As the promo for last night’s screening noted, how could you get more American than a Reagan flick that features Doris Day and is about baseball? Though it takes more than a few liberties with Alexander’s life — the guy who came on after said Reagan was disappointed that Warner Brothers would not go for a more realistic film — Reagan gives a good performance. You see, Alexander had epilepsy, may have suffered lingering effects from the shellshock he experienced in World War II, and caused even more problems for himself when he took to the bottle. Reagan gives a very sympathetic performance of a troubled man.

Murky in Turkey: Where do the Sweet, Leftist Hippies Stand?

 

Yep, Turkey’s got ’em–a lot of them. These are pretty typical young folks for this neighborhood, with pretty typical opinions. I hope one point is really coming through with these videos: This isn’t a monolithic country. It is far, far too simplistic to conceive of Turkey as a newly-terrifying enemy state and a hostile Islamic Republic. It’s way more complicated than that.

Something I should also stress is that a few people declined to talk to us because they were shy, or out of the natural reaction many people have to journalists with microphones, namely, Go away, you pests. But no one showed any fear. No one appeared to be afraid to speak his or her mind, and as you can see, people are not hesitant to criticize the Turkish government. That’s very important to note.

Ecstasy and Post-Traumatic Stress

 

I just stumbled upon this astonishing article describing the results of clinical trials in the use of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for sufferers of post-traumatic stress. The results were published in the very serious Journal of Psychopharmacology, which unfortunately charges $32.00 for access to the full article, a price that exceeds my commitment to closely examining the study’s methodological protocols. If the results of the study have been correctly reported, however, it seems that after Ecstasy-therapy,

over [sic] 80% of sufferers from post traumatic stress disorder no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as compared to only 25% in the control group … there were no drug-related serious adverse effects, adverse neurocognitive effects, or clinically significant blood pressure increases.

Sex in Paradise: A Debate

 

MEMRI has transcribed an interesting theological debate that appeared last month on the pages of the Saudi highbrow press: are the dark-eyed virgins promised to suicide bombers meant for sexual purposes or not?

Dr. Anwar Bin Majid ‘Ishqi, head of the Saudi Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies, says no. He was motivated to speak out, he says, by two things: the incessant use of sexual promises as inducement for teenaged boys to become suicide bombers, and the premise espoused by many religious scholars that actual, physical sex takes place in Paradise.

Speed Chess and the Male Ego

 

Having participated in a number of Ricochet conversations over the last few days on the decline of the West, the coming conflict in the Middle East–as Michael Barone wrote the other day, “I take it seriously when…non-hawks say Obama might bomb Iran”–and the general sense of economic, strategic, and world-historical gloom, I’d like to pause for a moment to note that summer in America is still pretty marvelous. Here in Northern California we’re on our thirtieth or fortieth straight day of cloudless skies and gentle breezes, and the five Robinson children, home for the summer, are busying themselves with tennis lessons (the oldest is teaching lessons, the two youngest, taking them), football, water polo, and studying for the many versions of the SAT. Two or three evenings a week, we’ve been watching a movie together–last night, “Chariots of Fire” (which, after some three decades, still holds up wonderfully). And–the big news here–I’ve just stumbled across a solution to the problem of playing chess with my three teenaged sons.

Chess with the boys used to involve two problems: It took too long. And the loser was always sore. (None of the boys likes to lose to Dad. Dad likes losing to the boys even less. We just seem to be built that way.) Speed chess, which I read about on some website or other–I have the feeling I’m the last adult in America to have heard of it–solves both problems. Get a stopwatch, then set a time limit on each move–one minute for games in the middle of the day, two for games in the evening. What happens? Each game moves a lot faster. That’s the change you’d expect. What you might not expect–what I certainly didn’t–is that each game also becomes a lot more light-hearted. Why? Because the stopwatch provides cover, enabling the loser to say, as my boys and I have all said once or twice now, “Well, okay, you win. But if this had been a real game, things would have been different.”

Does Rationing Start With Breast Cancer Patients?

 

No one ever said hope and change would be easy.  Why, even from the 8th hole at a posh vacation spot in Maine, and coming soon to Martha’s Vineyard, the president can see the need for shared sacrifice.  It’s just as plain as the wings on the jet that flew the president’s puppy dog in to vacation with the rest of the First Family.  You’ve got to hand it to them — they spare no expense to keep the common touch. 

So where do we start with the serious business of shared sacrifice?  Official perks?  Maybe a Treasury Secretary that pays his taxes?  Too ambitious.  How about breast cancer patients?  There’s the ticket.  

Ricochet Book List, Teen Edition

 

Inspired by recent higher education posts by Rob and Claire, as well as by a long ago one by Peter regarding appropriate and entertaining books for teens, I wonder if Ricochet can come up with books that American middle and high school students must read in school? We can assume there would be a decent teacher, but not a great one. We should assume students of all backgrounds and of average intelligence.

For starters, I wonder if I’m the only dolt on here who had the following problem: I was asked to read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn before I knew anything about slavery, Animal Farm without grasping the most basic forms of government, The Scarlet Letter without really “getting” adultery, and Romeo and Juliet with only a modicum of understanding of my own English, much less that from 400 years earlier.

The Bar Exam Isn’t Senseless, and Neither Is Law, Part II

 

After arguing against the bar exam — my response is here — Liz Wurtzel now poses the challenge of an elaborate bar exam parody of her own creation.

The next time I teach torts I will think of this as a possible fact pattern. Apart from the jokes it is answerable, and the trick for answering it is to take all injuries and see how it relates to each defendant separately. The rules on joint causation are such that virtually everyone who is found liable will not have a remoteness of damage test under directness but a jury question under foreseeability. Once each piece is understood those defendants who get a clean bill of health are out from under the indemnity and contribution issues. Those who are not have to face that barrier. Actually the question is not all that subtle in most cases because in piling on the parties there is less nuance for each of them than might otherwise be the case.

Sad Murky in Turkey Footage

 

Here’s a little bit more. I find this footage terribly sad and moving. These are good, decent people. They simply don’t understand what happened. The appalling thing, as Okan remarked to me, is that the IHH exploited the Turks’ Achilles heel: their generous natures. No one in Turkey would have supported an act of war against Israel. But the Turks love to think of themselves as charitable, as compassionate, as generous–and indeed they are. They genuinely believe that the Palestinians are starving and that the boat was on a humanitarian mission and nothing but a humanitarian mission. They are simply bewildered that anyone would have interfered with such a noble-minded endeavor. This is really what the vast majority of them believe.

“It’s Not Like They Took Over by Force, Via a Coup”

 

Another Murky in Turkey segment. A question: If someone like this obviously sympathetic man does not know that indeed, Hamas took over precisely by force and via a coup–and if he has no way to know this, because it is not reported in any language he could possibly understand–should we condemn him for believing what he says he believes? These people are not like Oliver Stone, who could know the facts within thirty seconds of Google searching. I’m just not sure that this man could reasonably be expected to know better.

Is that patronizing?

“To ‘No,’ I say an emphatic ‘Yes!'”

 

This morning, Ricochet member Mao Zehedgehog sent along an e-mail alerting me to an excellent speech by George Will, which he delivered at a Cato Institute dinner honoring Milton Friedman this past spring. Here are a few choice morsels:

We are not Europeans. We are not, in Orwell’s phrase, a “state-broken people.” We do not have a feudal background of subservience to the state. No, that is the project of the current administration – it can be boiled down to learned feudalism. It is a dependency agenda…

Member Post

 

“In India we want first-world technology at third-world prices.” So says Sujay Shetty, head of accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Indian pharmaceuticals practice. Healthcare economist John Goodman reports that entrepreneurs in India, where 80 percent of the healthcare market is private-pay, have ample incentive to develop technologies that improve outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. Contrast India with […]

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The Americans With Disabilities Act: 20 Horrible Years

 

At Cato At Liberty, Walter Olson has harsh words for the Americans with Disabilities Act, which has just marked its 20th anniversary. I have been a bitter and steadfast opponent of this statute since its inception, and the train of horribles that is often invoked only hardens my opposition to the statute.

The crux of the matter is this. The chief office of an antidiscrimination statute is to counteract the force of monopoly power so that a common carrier cannot force one of two identical customers to pay more than the other for the same services. In its origin, the principle was designed to prevent cross subsidies between parties. The newer statute has exactly the opposite circumstances. The rights to the services are said to be sacred no matter how different the costs of its provision. It costs more to provide a sign language interpreter to the deaf, but the statute makes no provision for covering the additional costs of providing that service, which has to come out of the provider’s own pocket. The public in these cases should have the financial courage of its convictions and underwrite the additional expenses. At that point the calculus changes because the implicit costs of the statute are now on budget.

Gaza Health Ministry: Medical Aid From Arab States Largely Worthless

 

Mick Hartley spotted an interesting piece on Al Jazeera TV last week, via MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute). Apparently much of the medical aid sent to Gaza by the Palestinians’ Arab brethren is unusable. Less than a third of the aid sent after the most recent fighting in Gaza actually benefited Gazans, according to Munir Al-Boursh, the head of the donations department in the Gazan Health Ministry. “A certain country sent ten truckloads of medicine, accompanied by an official delegation, but all these medicines were past their expiration date,” he says in the report.

The Al-Jazeera reporter, inspecting the contents of a warehouse, observes that some dialysis machines appear to be “disintegrating” and that some of the medicines have passed their expiration dates by years. “These [dialysis] devices were past their expected life span when we got them,” said Gaza Health Ministry official Bassam Barhoum. “In other words, all operational hours were used up in their country of origin.”

Red vs. Blue, Growing vs. Shrinking, Sane vs. Out of Control

 

In a fascinating post on the New Geography blog, Joel Kotkin writes about a new way to think about the states:

Generally speaking, states in relatively good economic shape are concentrated in an economic “zone of sanity” across the vast Great Plains. They are also in the least “fiscal peril,” according to a recent Pew study. Not surprisingly, these states see little reason to extend federal power and increase taxation in order to bail out their more profligate counterparts.

How Many Lawyers Does it Take to Kill Tenure?

 

As you now know, I am the Al Gore of the tenure crisisit’s not a political issue, it’s a moral one; the existence of our very civilization is at stake; we must save ourselves while we still can, etc. So imagine my horror when I amble over to Above the Law and discover this:

Is the American Bar Association going to deal with the unmitigated proliferation of law schools? No. Will the ABA deal with overflow of lawyers entering the profession at a time when few well paying legal jobs seem to be available? No. Will the organization seriously address the rising cost of legal education? Not really. Instead, the ABA committee on law school accreditation wants to take a look a tenure. The National Law Journal reports: