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Sunday, July 30, 2006
I Googled This Term Just For Her:

Well, hardly. But I did have to use Google to get the spelling right - it's been a long time since I used it.

I've just watched another episode of the recent redo of The Twilight Zone - Time Lapse: Dead Man's Eyes (2002), which starred Portia de Rossi, whom you might know from Ally McBeal or Arrested Development. Well, I Googled her name a couple of commercials ago, just to see what was happening in her career lately, and was somewhat surprised to find that, unlike so many "hot" twenty-something actresses these days, there were no popular sites boasting "see nude pics of Portia de Rossi."

Well, not that I wouldn't mind seeing Portia nude. I mean, she's quite fit and well proportioned. But compared to, say, the women of the Brazilian soccer team, she's hardly an object of lust in that regard. Yet, she has to be one of the most beautiful women to grace the small screen in recent years.

To what can we attribute this? Well, the face is certainly lovely, but that can be said of dozens of other starlets popular today. And the hair is truly magnificent - but that isn't it.

No, objectively measured, her beauty is quite average - at least as great beauties go. But it's the way she wears her beauty - that je ne sais quoi - that total comfort with it, and modesty about it - exploiting it without flaunting it. Bacall had (no, has) it - so does Kathleen Turner. Neither of these women. as well as Portia, can be called transcendent beauties, in the same pantheon as, say, Grace Kelly or Elizabeth Taylor. Yet, we men are all irresistibly drawn to them.

Why, you ask? It's all in that je ne sais quoi.

Update: Oops... A reader emails me that Portia is actually 33 now. But, no matter, she's still quite hot, still has that je ne sais quoi, and - like Bacall and Turner - likely will for some years to come.

Update 2: Another reader emailed me this link to some photos/videos.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Is Liz Taylor The Most Beautiful Screen Goddess, Or What?

Well, let me preface this by stipulating that the age of the Screen Goddess ran out with Faye Dunaway. There was some talk of it coming back with Michelle Pfeiffer, but it didn't happen. So there's no sense in throwing Charlize Theron or Angelina Jolie into the mix here; it's a 'ol 'nother league - like comparing contemporary MLB pitchers to Cy Young.

But, I have just tuned away from The Sandpiper on TCM; after 35 minutes. I just couldn't take it any more - total dreck. What a come-down it must have been for Liz - after Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and Butterfield 8. It just reeked.

But, one thing's for sure: Liz was as stunning as, if not more so than, she was in Ivanhoe. Back in the '60s, she was a bit dated for my pre-pubescent fantasies, which tended to run more towards Shelley Fabares, Natalie Wood, or Barbara Eden (Wood and Eden are, in fact, only slightly younger than Taylor. But they seemed much more so at the time.). But now, with the reflection of maturity, I have to say, Liz was really in a league of her own.

I think it's all in the eyes.

BTW: I know history says it's Hedy Lamarr - whom I also adore. But I beg to differ.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
All Hail The HondaJet:

With all the turmoil in the Middle East, you would hardly know it. But, mark my words, no news item today will be of greater historical significance than the introduction of the HondaJet - "the Honda Civic of the air."

Make no mistake, private jet travel is still out of reach of the average Joe. But recent advances in VLJ technology have been marked. And the introduction of the HondaJet brings that ideal one step closer.

I see the breakthrough technology, surely on the horizon, as a low-cost implementation of rear stabilizer-less fly-by-wire systems, such as on the B-2 Stealth bomber. This will further increase efficiency, and markedly reduce manufacturing costs - particularly in an automated lay-up composite structure. This naturally leads to a blended wing-body configuration - greatly increasing payload.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Entertainment Trivia For 7/26/06:

The Beatles are generally credited with spearheading the British Invasion. But this band was actually the first to tour North America.

The Answer!I had totally forgotten about this question until yesterday, when I heard Gerry and the Pacemakers lovely Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying (their biggest US hit). But that's not the answer. The first British Invasion group to tour North America was The Dave Clark Five.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Ve Are In Der Vild Und Volly Days Oft Der Blogosphere:

Ann Althouse casts aspersions on the Puffington Roast's offer for $5m in venture capital:

And 1.3 million visitors a month? That's not too good for them! It's half of Instapundit's traffic. And Kos... Kos has more than 10 times that. So I guess he could raise $50 million

Well, I know a little about this, as I was on the ebb of the Pajamas Media maelstrom. And all I can say is, "if Arianna can get $5m for that Internet tank, more power to her."

Much like the "dot com" boom of the late '90s, this blogosphere thing is running on pure hype. It's only by hype that I get A-list pundits, and staffers for nationally known pols, to return my phone calls. But I'm currently writing on a personal blog that gets readers in the tens.

Of course, my personal fortunes will change, as will those of the Puffington Roast. And, should I say, the blogosphere in general.

Continued 7/22/06: Anyway, I don't have Site Meter, or anything similar. But, judging from the personal feedback I've gotten, my SWAG is that I've got something between a few score to a couple of hundred readers, who individually check back here between every few days, to every few weeks. Thus - daily readership is likely in the two digit range.

Obviously, I can't continue on this tact for long before people stop returning my phone calls.

And how does this tie into the big scheme? If you recall, late last year, Pajamas Media secured $3.5 million in venture capital funding. And, relative to the total traffic of the Pajamas Media network, this is a fraction of the dollars per eyeball-minute that Arianna is looking for. But, just like the dot-com boom of the late '90s, this is all hype. And she's got a lot of big-name contributors - great for the hype-factor.

Too bad so few people are reading them.

When it comes down to brass tacks. And, ultimately, survival in the real world, it's all a matter of how many eyeballs one attracts, and for how long. (And, of course, the demographics of those eyeballs. For instance, the Sunday talking head shows don't get nearly the audience of, say, Wheel of Fortune, but the discretionary income of their viewers is so much higher...)

The winners in the eventual blogosphere shake-out will be those which work now to attract the most eyeballs (of, of course, the right demographics).
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
There's No Such Thing As An Old Joke 07/12/06

A friend was amused by these two classic blonde jokes, and passed them to me:

Q: What do you call a smart blonde?
A: A Golden Retriever!!

Q: Why did the blonde jump off a building?
A: To see if the maxi-pad had wings!!

In checking the thread where he got them, the rest (IMHO) are pretty lame. But then there's also this old classic:

A man escapes from prison - where he has been for 15 years. He breaks into a house to look for money, civilian clothes and a gun. And finds a young couple in bed.

He orders the guy out of the bed and ties him to a chair, then tying the girl to the bed. He gets on top of her, kisses her neck, then gets up and goes into the bathroom. While he's in there, the husband tells his wife:

"Listen, this guy's an escaped convict, look at his clothes! He probably spent lots of time in jail and hasn't seen a woman in years. I saw how he kissed your neck. If he wants sex: don't resist, don't complain, do whatever he tells you. Satisfy him no matter how much he nauseates you. This guy is probably very dangerous. If he gets angry he'll kill us. Be strong, honey. I love you.

To which his wife responds:

"He wasn't kissing my neck. He was whispering in my ear. He told me he was gay, thought you were cute, and asked me if we had any Astroglide. I told him it was in the bathroom. Be strong, honey. I love you too!!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
A Libertarian By Any Other Name

Over at Volokh, David Bernstein and Ilya Somin are revisiting the question of the meaning of libertarianism. It occurs to me that I covered this in some depth, on my opening post back at Samizdata. It has gotten pretty hard to ferret-out my old Samizdata stuff, as they seem to have eliminated their author archives when they changed format. So I figured I'd reprint it here, for ease of future reference:

Many of you know me already. As I have been haunting the blogosphere for the last three years through comments, emails, and guest articles. Those of you that do not will in due time, so I will skip the typical bio/Curriculum Vitae stuff. I was going to post a Micklethwaitian tale of my 50 mile journey of Southern California's quite righteously maligned public transit system to Brian Linse’s blogger bash, where I met Perry & Adriana face-to-face for the first time. But that got a bit longish for a forum such as this, so I guess I will have to save it for a chapter in my memoirs.

One of the subjects which has piqued my fancy recently is the concept of N-dimensional variants on the classic Nolan chart. This was initiated a few weeks ago when I read this TCS article by Eugene Miller, on a link from Virginia Postrel. In it Miller attempts, quite successfully, to typify political philosophies on a Nolanesce grid – embrace of change forming one axis, and the need for control over change forming the other.

click for larger image

It occurred to me that one could map this function on top of the typical Nolan chart by equating 'liberty' with 'change'. Further analysis led me to sumise that this conjunction of the two concepts was better expressed in differentials. But, for the purposes of both brevity and accessibility, we will spare that dissertation for another day.

Further indulgence of my curiosity led me to this article by Kelley L. Ross. Therein, Ross expands upon the basic Nolan chart with another dimension of what form of government safeguards what liberties (or not). It’s an interesting read. But the average Samizdata.net reader would likely find the first ten pages review, and should skip right to Liberties in Three Dimensions. Although, this little graphic, concerning the US Supreme Court is rather interesting:

click for larger image

The final seven or so pages constitute the meat of the article, where he makes the point that democracy is no guarantor of liberty. In it, he makes an interesting and rather open-ended point with this:

A Republican form was envisioned by people like James Madison, who wished to impose practical, and not just theoretical limits on government by the use of the Separation of Powers and a system of Checks and Balances. This worked well enough but was ultimately undermined by one grave oversight: The United States Constitution provided no mechanism for its own enforcement. That task was soon taken up by the Supreme Court, but Thomas Jefferson realized that the Supreme Court, as a part of the federal government, could not be trusted to faithfully maintain the limits to the power of the federal government itself: "How can we expect impartial decision between the General government, of which they are themselves so eminent a part, and an individual State, from which they have nothing to hope or fear?" [Autobiography]

In the end, especially during the Civil War, World War I, the New Deal, and the Sixties, the Supreme Court began to concede extra-Constitutional powers to the federal government simply on the principle that it wanted them. The only mechanism that existed to check the failures of the Court was the torturous avenue of Constitutional Amendment, politically impossible when so many people had begun to believe that unlimited power for the federal government was actually a good thing. And then again, it is hard to know how a newer version of the 10th Amendment could be more plainly worded than the old one. A new Amendment would have to descend to the ignoble level of contradicting specific Supreme Court pronouncements that the original Amendment was simply a "tautology" or "truism" that wasn't really meant to limit federal power. (See Two Logical Errors in Constitutional Jurisprudence.) An effectively updated Constitution would have to address all the sophistry and dishonesty that was used to undermine the original one, besides providing for such additional checks and balances as would abolish the dictatorial powers of the Court.

Indeed, how does one establish practical limitations on power within a republic? Jefferson's answer was to have an armed revolution every twenty years or so. Serious talk of that today will get you twenty years or so behind bars.

Sunday, July 02, 2006
Entertainment Trivia For 7/02/06:

Here's one with a hat tip to World Cup fever, which has embraced the entire rest of the world:

Men's soccer - whether amateur or professional, gets the support of a bastard child, here in the US. Such is hardly the case for women's soccer. Just what was the Brit girls', Jess and Jules, "dream school", in Bend It Like Beckham?

The Answer! Well, I guess nobody saw the film (or, likely, cares much about soccer). It was Santa Clara University, who's women's soccer squad has been a consistant NCAA div. I top 10 for about the past two decades, and took the championship in 2001 - the year before Bend It Like Beckham was released.
A blog dedicated to the personal musings of Kevin L. Connors - a pragmatic libertarian, engineer, businessman, and journalist.

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