Tuesday, 26 July 2011

08:16 – Reading about the Norwegian mass murderer, there’s something I don’t understand. He thinks muslims are invading and taking over Europe, forcibly spreading their hateful beliefs to a previously civilized part of the planet. Okay, I get that. He’s right. If Europe has any sense, it’ll expel muslims with extreme prejudice, as should the US and other civilized countries. Muslims are nothing more than Nazis in drag, and the proper response to a muslim is the same as the proper response to a Nazi.

What I don’t understand is why he set off his truck bomb next to government offices, in an area presumably largely populated by ethnic Norwegians, and then shot up a youth camp presumably largely populated by ethnic Norwegian young people. Why not park the truck next to a mosque during services and then shoot up the survivors? Or, since he apparently had enough ammonium nitrate to make five or six more truck bombs, why didn’t he park truck bombs outside five or six more mosques during services? What was the point to slaughtering a bunch of ethnic Norwegians, most of whom were presumably non-believers, and most of whom presumably weren’t much happier about the spread of islam than he is?

11:34 – I’m always leery when calls of racism are made against ordinary people or institutions, but if this article is correct this is a pretty blatant case. This young woman earned the highest GPA in her graduating class, and yet was denied her position as sole valedictorian. Furthermore, her mother’s appeal to the school authorities was denied on questionable grounds, and delayed until the question became moot. The young woman in question is black and a single mother, and the school district in question is in the Deep South. If the facts stated in this article are correct and complete, it’s reasonable to ask if this young woman was denied her rights simply because the authorities didn’t believe she was the right kind of person to represent her school.

Now, it’s possible that there were extenuating circumstances. For example, the article mentions that she took a heavy load of AP classes, but does not mention which ones. Let’s face it, an A in AP History or AP Literature or AP Foreign Language shouldn’t have the same weight as an A in AP Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Calculus. Many school districts award 5 points on a 4-point GPA for an A in any AP course, but if an A in one of those non-rigorous AP courses is worth 5 points, then an A in a rigorous AP subject should be worth at least 6. So, although the article doesn’t give details, it’s possible that the students in second and third place had only slightly lower GPAs and had taken a boatload of rigorous AP courses. In that case, they probably deserved the valedictorian and salutatorian positions. Or they would have, had the school district made those changes to the way GPAs were assigned. As it stands, the only justification I can see for their position is that the other students may have had a wider range of extracurricular activities, which in any event should not be given any weight for academic honors. And, of course, as a single mother, the student in question probably had more limited opportunities to engage in such activities.

Young American tennis players

I periodically despair about the state of tennis in the US. For decades, we regularly produced a crop of world-class players, from  Tilden and Vines and Budge and Kramer to Schroeder and Riggs and Gonzalez and Trabert to Ashe and Smith and Connors and McEnroe and Agassi and Sampras. And that’s just the men.

But for the last ten years or more we haven’t had any truly first-rate players on the pro tour. The best we can come up with are players like Roddick and the Williams sisters, decent players but not true greats. So I’m always glad to see up-and-coming young players like Kiah.

The video is from about a year ago, when she was still 15. She has several other videos posted, showing her serving and so on. Watching her play, I’d guess she’d play about even with most fair-to-middling 15-year-old male tennis players–those good enough to make the tennis team at a large high school–although that’ll change over the next couple of years, as the boys continue to get faster and stronger, while she doesn’t. If I’d played her when I was 15, I certainly wouldn’t have taken the match lightly. I’d probably have beaten her four matches in five, and maybe even five in five, but this girl has enough tools to be dangerous.

I hope there are a whole lot more like her out there.


Portugal topples

Here’s the best take I’ve found this morning on the impending collapse of the Eurozone, although, if anything, it’s still much too optimistic. The beginning of the end, indeed. Things are much nearer the end of the end than the beginning. We can only hope that the federal government and US banks throw no more money down this rathole.

If I had to guess, I’d say the three I’s, Ireland, Iceland (a provisional EU country), and Italy, will be next, followed shortly by Spain, then Belgium and France. Germany and the UK will be the last major EU countries standing, and even they aren’t too stable. Poor Switzerland. The only one of them with any sense.

Independence Day

Happy Birthday USA!

As you celebrate Independence Day today, please take a moment to think about the men and women of our armed forces, past and present, who have willingly risked, and all too often lost, everything to defend our freedom. I worry about America, but there can be nothing very wrong with a country that continues to produce men and women like them.