Really Big Rubber Band Ball

Posting is light, primarily because we’re in the heart of the college athletics season–but also because I’m utterly burned out on politics and Islamofascism and serious stuff.

So, it is with joy that I present this story from Yahoo News:
Man builds 3,300-pound rubber band ball[*1]

EUGENE, Ore. – With all due respect to The Spinners and T.I., prepare yourself for the new rubber-band man. Steve Milton, through concentration and perseverance, has created a 3,300-pound ball comprised of rubber bands. His creation measures almost 5 feet tall and takes up half his two-car garage. Though it’s not official, the 26-year-old Eugene man believes he has broken the record for the heaviest such ball, eclipsing John Bain’s mark of 3,120 pounds. The Wilmington, Del., man’s record has stood for eight years.

Milton has posted updates of his ball’s growing girth on his MySpace page. He’s also uploaded videos of the ball crushing things, such as using a forklift to drop the ball on an old van.

ACORN is sooooo busted!

If you’re in Missouri, you know that the Democrats have a nice political machine going on over there in St. Louis. One of the big cogs in that machine is a group called ACORN. This group represents on its donation page as being a “charitable organization” but is in actuality a partisan political action organization. (OK, the national ACORN is a partisan outfit, but state ACORN chapters are technically non-partisan–and if you believe that’s how it really works, you’ll believe almost anything as long as it has “Bush Lied” attached to it. Which, sadly, seems to describe a large, vocal, and influential segment of Americans today.)

St. Louis’ Gateway Pundit links to a Democratic-leaning St. Louis blog, Pub Def[*1] , which is tearing the cover back on ACORN’s shady dealings. The deal: hire lower-income people to go out and shake the trees for Claire McCaskill votes.

Note to Democrats: This works a lot better if you actually pay those folks you hire to do your dubious Get-Out-The-Vote effort.

One big question: What are the links between ACORN, the Missouri Democratic Party, and the Claire McCaskill U.S. Senate campaign? Click on this link to see the Pub Def video[*2] , showing the unpaid ACORN workers saying that their get-out-the-vote campaign was called Project Victory 2006. As both Pub Def and Gateway Pundit note, this is (oddly enough) the same name under which the Missouri Democratic Party[*3] is running it’s “coordinated campaign effort:”

We are pleased to introduce Project Victory 2006, the MissouriDemocratic Party’s coordinated campaign effort for this election year!We are excited about this year’s campaign and expect that our fieldeffort will be incredibly strong and well-received. We are proud thatmore than 75 percent of the Project Victory’s staff members either arefrom Missouri or attended college in Missouri, and we expect this to bea tremendous asset.

There’s coordination, and then there’s Democratic coordination, which apparently includes not paying poor people that you’ve hired (by a “non-partisan” front group for a radically partisan national organization) to pound on doors campaigning for your candidates.

You can pick what part of this scandal offends you more–non-partisan groups engaged in blatant partisan political behavior, or the spectacle of Democrats telling poor people to get out the Democrat vote for money, and then stiffing them.

Oh, right, Mark Foley was a gay pedophile-wanna-be. Never mind. Meanwhile, how are those sweetheart real estate deals going, Senator Reid?[*4]

If you’re bound and determined to vote against the Republicans, you really should open your eyes to who you’ll be voting FOR.

Question Authority!

Peggy Noonan writes in the Wall Street Journal[*1] , noting (once more) the intellectual intolerance of the Left:

What is most missing from the left in America is an element of grace–of civic grace, democratic grace, the kind that assumes disagreements are part of the fabric, but we can make the fabric hold together. The Democratic Party hasn’t had enough of this kind of thing since Bobby Kennedy died. What also seems missing is the courage to ask a question. Conservatives these days are asking themselves very many questions, but I wonder if the left could tolerate asking itself even a few. Such as: Why are we producing so many adherents who defy the old liberal virtues of free and open inquiry, free and open speech? Why are we producing so many bullies? And dim dullard ones, at that.

Most reasonable folks on the center/right of the political agenda (and I’d hope to be included in that number) are desperate for a level of intellectual discourse with those on the left that rises above mindless angry sloganeering and outright suppression of speech, as happened recently at Columbia University.

Is there intelligent life on the Left?

Wheat makes you stupid

From Science Daily[*1] :

Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered a new link between celiac disease, a digestive condition triggered by consumption of gluten, and dementia or other forms of cognitive decline. The investigators’ case series analysis — an examination of medical histories of a group of patients with a common problem — of 13 patients will be published in the October issue of Archives of Neurology.

“There has been very little known about this connection between celiac disease and cognitive decline until now,” says Keith Josephs, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and study investigator. “This is the largest case series to date of patients demonstrating cognitive decline within two years of the onset of celiac disease symptom onset or worsening.”

Says Joseph Murray, M.D., Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and study investigator, “There has been a fair amount written before about celiac disease and neurological issues like peripheral neuropathy (nerve problems causing numbness or pain) or balance problems, but this degree of brain problem — the cognitive decline we’ve found here — has not been recognized before. I was not expecting there would be so many celiac disease patients with cognitive decline.”

No more Wheaties, Wheat Beer, shredded wheat, bread, . . . (I’m being facetious, of course.  At least I think so.  I’m so confused!)

Is multiculturalism good for society?

The banners of “diversity” and “multiculturalism” have been held high for decades as goals to be assiduously striven for by right-thinking people everywhere. From the painfully ham-handed diversity of Star Trek: The Next Generation to the chirpy happiness of Sesame Street, we are fed a daily diet of messages saying diversity is in and of itself a good thing, with the implicit and unquestioned belief that those who question the relentless march of diversity are the worst kind of bigots.

Now comes this Belmont Club article[*1] , highlighting a Financial Times article[*2] discussing a new study by Harvard professor Robert Putnam, author of the popular book Bowling Alone[*3] . His new work casts doubt on the social desirability of diversity and multiculturalism.

From the Financial Times article[*2] :

The core message of the research was that, “in the presence ofdiversity, we hunker down”, he said. “We act like turtles. The effectof diversity is worse than had been imagined. And it’s not just that wedon’t trust people who are not like us. In diverse communities, wedon’t trust people who do look like us.”

Prof Putnam found trustwas lowest in Los Angeles, “the most diverse human habitation in humanhistory”, but his findings also held for rural South Dakota, where”diversity means inviting Swedes to a Norwegians’ picnic”.

When the data were adjusted for class, income and other factors, theyshowed that the more people of different races lived in the samecommunity, the greater the loss of trust. “They don’t trust the localmayor, they don’t trust the local paper, they don’t trust other peopleand they don’t trust institutions,” said Prof Putnam. “The only thingthere’s more of is protest marches and TV watching.”

Richard Fernandez (Wretchard) of the Belmont Club then comments:

But if Putnam is correct, then one of the central tenets of multiculturalism— that it brings people together if they simply “respect” eachothers differences — immediately requires qualification. In fact, it becomesentirely conceivable that the multiculti program is actually the driver behindmany of the tensions which are now rising in places like France, the Netherlandsand the UK.

Tribalism is programmed deep into the human animal. That’s why it’s World Problem #1.

Different political systems deal with this tribal urge in different ways. One reason why totalitarian governments keep springing up is that they are brutally effective in suppressing the tribal urge internally, in large part by directing the tribal urge outward toward external enemies.

This is also why pure democracies almost always collapse. Democracy is fundamentally unable to manage the tribal urge. The biggest tribe always winds up in power and then begins to impose its tribal customs and mores on the minorities. If the Majority decides it is undesirable for the minorities to ever regain power, a pure democracy can quickly devolve into a totalitarian state–we see it over and over and over again throughout history, from the Romans to the Third Reich.

We can try to pretend that humans don’t have this tribal urge, or recognize the wisdom of the American Founding Fathers in promoting a federal republicanism and a careful separation of powers between a central government and soverign State governments. This provided a structure within which different self-selected “tribes” can interact. This I think is what Benjamin Franklin meant when he famously replied to the question “what have you given us?” with “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.