27 April 2007

Rioting In Estonia

MOSCOW, April 27 — Estonian government workers removed a Soviet-era war memorial from the center of the Estonian capital, Talinn, early this morning, after a night of protest and violence that killed one, injured dozens and left a swath of
shattered windows and overturned cars in the city center, Estonian officials said.

Basically - from the Russian POV - the statue symbolizes the defeat of the Nazis; from the Estonian POV it symbolizes the Soviet Union's brutal occupation, etc. of Estonia. If I recall correctly many Estonians (and perhaps the Estonian government?) weren't exactly hostile to the Nazis and may have aided them in exterminating Estonia's Jewish population. All of this makes for a fairly complicated and contested historical narrative.

Whoever is "right," let's hope events there don't become too volatile; after all, as the 20th century demonstrated, people are more than willing to kill each other over their preferrred, idealized, emotionally laden historical perspectives.

25 April 2007

...It Was Just Right

An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today.

I always wonder what the cultural, religious, etc. implications of discovering extraterrestrial life (intelligent or otherwise) will be. I will predict that at the very least it will take several generations for the full effects of such a discovery to play out.

Edit: Oh, and they are calling it Gliese 581 C. We need a better name than that. Not "New Earth" perhaps, but certainly something more interesting than Gliese 581 C.

24 April 2007

Recent Acquisitions

Leo Strauss, On Tyranny

X-Files - Season Two

Angel - Season Two

Toyota #1

HONG KONG, April 24 — Toyota sold more cars and trucks around the world in the first three months of 2007 than any other manufacturer, surpassing General Motors for the first time and ending one of the longest runs of dominance in all of global

While not a big surprise (this turn of events has been in the offing for some time now), it is still a milestone. I don't think that GM has a chance of taking back its former position (at least not in the foreseeable future), but they can probably remain a profitable corporation if they can overcome the obstacles they are currently facing.


This is how the French election broke down geographically; that is who won a plurality of votes in a particular area. Red equals Royal, whereas blue equals Sarkozy. The lone yellow marker is that of Bayrou.

23 April 2007

Medieval Technology

Notre Dame in Paris was in part built with a large man-powered wheeled crane. Men would walk in a cylinder (which sat a top the overall construction area) and thus power the crane; the cyclinder looked a little bit like those which gerbils use in their cages.

David Halberstam Killed

More here.

My condolences, etc. to the family. I read his book The Fifties many years ago (borrowed from a friend or the library or some such) and remember liking it.

Semi-Official Results

So it appears that Sarkozy may have gotten around 32% of the vote while his chief rival (Royal) got approximately 26% of the vote.* Personally I'm sort of shocked by the depth of support for Sarkozy. To an American audience 32% may not seem like a lot but by recent French election standards (at least in the first round) that is a significant total. The truly 'official' results will be published I think the 25th.

*That may be the highest total ever for a socialist candidate in the first round.

Edit: Some interesting news - apparently Sarkozy won or almost won Saint-Denis - one of the primary areas of rioting in 2005.


So, I watched Eragon last night. I couldn't tell whether I was watching Braveheart, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars Episode IV.

22 April 2007

Scotland The Brave

And tell me will we never hear the end
Of puir bluidy Charlie at Culloden yet again?
Though he ran like a rabbit down the glen
Leavin better folk than him to be butchered
Or are you sittin in your Council house, dreamin o your clan?
Waiting for the Jacobites to come and free the land?
Try going down the broo with your claymore in your hand
And count all the Princes in the queue!

- Brian McNeill, No Gods and Precious Few Heroes

French Exit Polls

At this time predicted 87% of all French voters, well, voted, in the first round. That's apparently the highest level since 84% voted in the mid-1960s in an election won by De Gaulle.

Edit: Some exit poll numbers:

Sarkozy - 29.4%

Royal - 26.2%

Bayrou - 18.6%

Le Pen - 10.8%

If this holds then my predictions were, well, way off. Indeed, both top two candidates did exceedingly well if these numbers hold up. This probably means a victory for Sarkozy in the second round.

Edit II:

BBC 24 live coverage.

Edit III: Another exit poll has Sarkozy at 30%.

Edit IV: Oh, and this I think the first presidential election since I 1981 when Chirac was not running for president.

Edit V: Yet another exit poll. Royal's camp has got to be worried about Sarkozy's performance as the exit polls show that the majority of Bayrou's supporters perfer Sarkozy over her.

Edit VI: Apparently I may be wrong about my assertion in Edit V.

X-Files Mythology Explained

A ten minute synopsis from the final episode of The X-Files.

French Election - First Round Prediction

While we won't have "official" results for a few days following the election the French press can publish exit polls at 8 PM Paris time. I'll be posting them here as they come in.

My prediction: Sarkozy 27%, Bayrou 24%, Royale 21%, Le Pen 16%

If I'm right and Bayrou comes in second the Sarkozy is going to have a hard time winning the second round.

Edit: The cool thing about the French presidential election is that they get the process of installing a new President over quickly; by May 16th there will be a new French President.

So far it looks like a higher than expected turnout. I think a lot of French voters view this as an election which will shape France for decades.

Edit II: Click here to read an interesting post on the issue of how France understands itself.

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