You are currently browsing the daily archive for May 13, 2010.

From this article on this year’s list of endangered Civil War battlefields, I see where another attempt is being made to build a casino at Gettysburg.  It seems to be mounted by the same fellah who was thrown out on his ear when he tried it five or six years ago.

Don’t know much about the specifics of this project or how it differs from the last one, but since I think casinos loathsome in general, I’m quite willing to disapprove of the idea without finding them out.

UPDATE: Here’s the Civil War Preservation Trust website, which I’d never visited before.  Lots of neat-o stuff, including some animated battlefield maps.

"You Are Gonna DIIIEE!!!"

Run for your lives, everybody!  The Killer Peanut is on the loose again:

THURSDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) — A new survey suggests that the percentage of children with peanut allergies has more than tripled in just over a decade, although the actual number of kids thought to have the allergy is still small.

“These results show that there is an alarming increase in peanut allergies, consistent with a general, although less dramatic, rise in food allergies among children in studies reported by the CDC [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention],” study leader Dr. Scott H. Sicherer, a professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said in a news release from the school. “The data underscore the need for more study of these dangerous allergies.”

Researchers surveyed 5,300 households in 2008 and found that 1.4 percent of children were thought to have peanut allergies. That’s more than three times the rate — 0.4 percent — found in a similar survey that was done in 1997.

The percentage of kids with allergies to either peanuts or tree nuts grew to 2.1 percent in 2008 from 0.6 percent in 1997.

Personally, I’ve always been deeply skeptical about this and other food allergen scares.  It isn’t that I don’t think the allergies sometimes occur.  Rayther, I think that to the extent they’re legitimate, we probably bring them on ourselves through our constant efforts to bubble-wrap our kiddies’ existence.  I also believe there’s a certain amount of mass hysteria auto-suggestion involved.  And as for diagnoses and reports, what doc worth his malpractice premium is going to risk exposure to ruin because he didn’t confirm Mummy and Daddy’s conviction that little Geoffrey can’t even be in the same metropolitan statistical area as a peanut?  The article is good enough to note the same thing:

It’s not clear why the number of reported allergies is on the rise. One theory suggests that people are developing less immunity to allergens because they’re exposed to fewer germs. Another suggests that people are wrongly diagnosed with food allergies that they don’t actually have.

As I say, I think it’s probably a combination of the two, coupled with the fact that people are morons.   And I love the way the story ends:

The researchers caution that they only called homes with telephones, possibly skewing the results toward the experiences of wealthier households.

In other words, toward people who were more likely to be neurotic twits.

Happy birthday, Maria Theresa, by the Grace of God, Dowager Empress of the Romans, Queen of Hungary, of Bohemia, of Dalmatia, of Croatia, of Slavonia, of Galicia, of Lodomeria, etc.; Archduchess of Austria; Duchess of Burgundy, of Styria, of Carinthia and of Carniola; Grand Princess of Transylvania; Margravine of Moravia; Duchess of Brabant, of Limburg, of Luxemburg, of Guelders, of Württemberg, of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Milan, of Mantua, of Parma, of Piacenza, of Guastalla, of Auschwitz and of Zator; Princess of Swabia; Princely Countess of Habsburg, of Flanders, of Tyrol, of Hennegau, of Kyburg, of Gorizia and of Gradisca; Margravine of Burgau, of Upper and Lower Lusatia; Countess of Namur; Lady of the Wendish Mark and of Mechlin; Dowager Duchess of Lorraine and Bar, Dowager Grand Duchess of Tuscany…

– gasp! –

born this day in 1717.

Not a bad old gel, although she did back the wrong horse in the Seven Years’ War.

Two bits of musickal trivia I know about Maria Theresa.  One was that she took a dim view of Leopold Mozart and his efforts to promote and exploit the wunderkind Wolfgang.  I can’t recall off the top of my head whether she used the expression “performing monkey” but she said something along those lines.

The other is that the Empress happened to be visiting St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna one time in the early 1740’s.  Some scaffolding had been put up on one side of the tower in order to carry out some repairs.  As she glanced up, the Empress noticed a couple of choirboys skylarking on the scaffold.  Fearing for their safety, she immediately ordered that they be brought down and caned.  One of the choirboys was Franz Joseph Haydn.

When I become Emperor of the World, one of my first acts will be to suppress all Leopold Stowkowski orchestrations of the musick of J.S. Bach.  All copies of the scores will be confiscated and burned.  All performances, public or private, will be banned.  First time violation of these prohibitions will constitute a flogging offense.  Repeat offenders will be drawn and quartered in the pubick square.

I say this after having had to endure Stowkowski’s rendition of Wachet Auf! this morning.  It has been said, with some justice, that Bach sounds well in almost any form, from period instrument to kazoo.  Well, this was the exception to that rule.  It was so full of schmaltz that I felt like I gained about 5 pounds just listening to it.

An infuriating article today about a pair of Russians who managed to filch a great many classified documents from the old Soviet Politburo and can’t get anyone to take any notice of the evil contained in them:

The questions come back time and again, it is true, but few remember that they have been asked before, and few remember what the answer looked like. No one talks much about the victims of Communism. No one erects memorials to the throngs of people murdered by the Soviet state. (In his widely ignored book, A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, Alexander Yakovlev, the architect of perestroika under Gorbachev, puts the number at 30 to 35 million.)

Indeed, many still subscribe to the essential tenets of Communist ideology. Politicians, academics, students, even the occasional autodidact taxi driver still stand opposed to private property. Many remain enthralled by schemes for central economic planning. Stalin, according to polls, is one of Russia’s most popular historical figures. No small number of young people in Istanbul, where I live, proudly describe themselves as Communists; I have met such people around the world, from Seattle to Calcutta.

We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism. These documents should be translated. They should be housed in a reputable library, properly cataloged, and carefully assessed by scholars. Above all, they should be well-known to a public that seems to have forgotten what the Soviet Union was really about. If they contain what Stroilov and Bukovsky say—and all the evidence I’ve seen suggests that they do—this is the obligation of anyone who gives a damn about history, foreign policy, and the scores of millions dead.

One of the documents mentioned in the article records that Gorbachev laughed at hearing the news of the Soviets shooting down KAL Flight 007 back in the early 80’s.  (I was a fresher at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown at the time.  Half the campus immediately came to the defense of the Reds, arguing that the flight must have been a spy plane or something.)  Several of the documents record collusion between the Sovs and a number of people now prominent in Western politics – including Neal Kinnock and Joe Biden, others speak of Soviet meddling in the Middle East.

These people – the Communists, that is – were just plain evil.  No other word for ’em.  And it positively sickens me when Euro-trash and American lefties ignore their record and praise their ideas.  Why, why is Communism still so hip?


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May 2010