Archive for the ‘Fun facts’ category

A Tale of Two Hazlitts

March 22, 2008

I had no idea that the great economic journalist Henry Hazlitt was indeed related to the great essayist William Hazlitt. Turns out, according to this archival Time article about H. Hazlitt succeeding H.L. Mencken as editor of the American Mercury, William was Henry’s great-great-great uncle. I’m grateful to Scott Lahti for bringing this to my attention.

How To Lose Friends…

July 31, 2006

Taki Theodoracopulos isn’t generally considered a great fan of the government of Israel. But did you know that he once volunteered to fight for Israel in the Six-Days’ War? Not long thereafter, though, the great Yehudi Menuhin told Taki to take another look at the plight of the Palestinians. What he saw prompted him to rethink his enthusiasm for the IDF. Taki tells the story in his contribution to The American Conservative‘s symposium on Left and Right — in stores right about now.

Midnight Soccer

July 14, 2006

A decade ago, conservatives rightly ridiculed inner-city “midnight basketball” programs meant to reduce crime. Well, times change. Now a patriotic blogger is suggesting that the best thing we could possibly do for Iraq is: subsidize the national soccer team to the tune of, say, “a hundred million dollars.” Sound like a joke? Check out David Beito’s entry about it on HNN.

Hat tip to JC.

Postscript: plus ca change…the Wikipedia entry linked above reveals that “midnight basketball” was one of George H.W. Bush’s “points of light.” That’s very ironic, since “midnight basketball,” as trivial as it is, was one of the signature initiatives that right-wing talk-radio hosts in the early ’90s singled out to illustrate Clinton’s liberalism. Now we know who comes up with these “liberal” ideas.

NASA: Back to the Future

July 2, 2006

Every time a space shuttle launch is impending, I like to regale friends with the story of NASA’s hunt for the high-tech computer components — nowadays found only on eBay — that make sure the shuttle doesn’t turn into a flying funeral pyre for the astronauts on board. The name of the sophisticated processor unit that monitors the booster rockets is the Intel 8086. As the Daily Telegraph reported four years ago:

One recent success for the Nasa salvage teams was the acquisition of outdated medical monitoring equipment being dumped by hospitals. Nasa needed the units’ Intel 8086 computer chips which are almost identical to the those that powered IBM’s first personal computer in 1981.

That same year, when the first shuttle blasted into space, the Intel 8086 played a crucial role in the diagnostic equipment that told Mission Control the twin booster rockets were safe for launch. Today, booster monitoring still relies on 8086 chips.

Dispatches From the Planet of the Milicrats

May 25, 2006

"Milicrats" — short for military bureaucrats — is a term William S. Lind uses in his piece in the new issue of The American Conservative, which prints tomorrow. It's apt, and being a resident of Arlington, Virginia, I live close to the precincts of milicrat central.

We have art here. Here's what kind of art we have.

Looking at links for that post on Reactionary Radicals, I came across this fun fact about the Arlington school system: "children attending county schools now speak 60 different languages." As you might imagine, that's not on account of a really rigorous curriculum.

There’s the Bennett Way, Then There’s the Gordon Liddy Way

April 19, 2006

News that the FBI is after Jack Anderson's papers reminds me that Bill Bennett's fondness for jailing reporters has some even nuttier antecedents. Like the plot to kill Jack Anderson. G. Gordon Liddy tells Playboy about it (via lefty blog Elementropy):

PLAYBOY: Why in God's name did you want to murder Jack Anderson in the first place?

LIDDY: I'd prefer to call it justifable homicide, since murder is a legal term for a specific type of homicide that by its very definition is unjustifiable…

[snip]

Anderson is one of those mutant strains of columnist who are half legitimate, because he passes off biased interpretations and selective information as straight reporting. At one point, Anderson's systematic leaking of top-secret information rendered the effective conduct of American foriegn policy virtually impossible…

Here he explains how he might have done it:

Anyway, we [Liddy and E. Howard Hunt] had lunch over at the Hay-Adams across from the White House and discussed various methods of killing Anderson, including coating the steering wheel of his car with an LSD solution sufficiently potent to cause a crash, which we rejected as too chancy, and "aspirin roulette", which we also turned down.

They decided to keep it simple instead, with a fake mugging. "I would have knifed him or broken his neck, probably," the G-Man tells Playboy. In the end, though, he couldn't get the go-ahead and had to call the whole thing off.

Don't come away from this with the impression that Liddy is heartless: whacking liberal journalists may be one thing, but G. Gordon won't stand for cruelty toward monkeys (MP3 audio).

I've always kind of liked Liddy, actually.

Night of the Living Dead Credit-Card Application

April 18, 2006

Normally I just tear up the endless Chase / Citibank / etc. credit card applications that fill my mailbox every day. But as this fellow found out, a thoroughly torn-up dismembered application is no obstacle to getting a new card — even one with a different billing address and cell-phone number.


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