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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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"The brain is wider than the sky,
For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include
With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson

"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin

"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton

"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan

"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt

"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley

"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss

"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire, the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind; and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon

"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon

"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority. They show disrespect for elders and they love to chatter instead of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers."
-- Socrates

"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook

"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook

"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization. We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr

"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion

"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson

"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices, intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation; a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition -- to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand

"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri

"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke

"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology; it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant

"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville

"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis

"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon, but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant

"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.

"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible, and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814

"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort, are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true, the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated. This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944

"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News

"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas

"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
-- Cicero

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." -- François, duc de La Rochefoucauld

"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it." -- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson

"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." -- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower

"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance." --
H. W. Fowler

"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place." -- Kate Wilhelm

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein

"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms

"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho

"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).

"Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it."
-- Lecture IX, John Henry Cardinal Newman

“Nothing is more common than for men to think that because they are familiar with words they understand the ideas they stand for.”
-- John Henry Cardinal Newman

"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."
-- James Madison

"Those who are free from common prejudices acquire others."
-- Napolean I of France -- Napoleon I of France

"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.

"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128

"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)

"American life is a powerful solvent. It seems to neutralize every intellectual element, however tough and alien it may be, and to fuse it in the native good will, complacency, thoughtlessness, and optimism."
-- George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States, (1920)

"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign

"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden

"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
-- Batman


Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit. He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.

The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cute panda. Don't you love pandas?

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world

[Blogroll now far below the sea line! Dive, dive, dive!]

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

Gary Farber! Jeez, the guy is practically a blogging legend, and I'm always surprised at the breadth of what he writes about.
-- PZ Meyers, Pharyngula

...Darn: I saw that Gary had commented on this thread, and thought: oh. my. god. Perfect storm. Unstoppable cannonball, immovable object. -- Hilzoy

...I think Gary Farber is a blogging god. -- P.Z. Myers, Pharyngula

...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow

‎"Gary Farber is a gentleman, a scholar and one of the gems of the blogosphere." -- Steve Hynd,

"Well argued, Gary. I hadn't seen anything that went into as much detail as I found in your blog." -- Gareth Porter

Gary Farber is your one-man internet as always, with posts on every article there is.
-- Fafnir

Guessing that Gary is ignorant of anything that has ever been written down is, in my experience, unwise.
Just saying.

-- Hilzoy

Gary Farber gets it right....
-- James Joyner, Outside The Beltway

Once again, an amazing and illuminating post.
-- Michael Bérubé, Crooked Timber

I read Amygdala...with regularity, as do all sensible websurfers.
-- Jim Henley, Unqualified Offerings

Okay, he is annoying, but he still posts a lot of good stuff.
-- Avedon Carol, The Sideshow

Amygdala - So much stuff it reminds Unqualified Offerings that UO sometimes thinks of Gary Farber as "the liberal Instapundit."
-- Jim Henley

...the thoughtful and highly intelligent Gary Farber... My first reaction was that I definitely need to appease Gary Farber of Amygdala, one of the geniuses of our age.
-- Brad deLong

Gary is a perceptive, intelligent, nice guy. Some of the stuff he comes up with is insightful, witty, and stimulating. And sometimes he manages to make me groan.
-- Charlie Stross

Gary Farber is a straight shooter.
-- John Cole, Balloon Juice

I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber

Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
-- Ogged

I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow

One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.

One of my favorites....
-- Matt Welch

-- Virginia Postrel

Amygdala continues to have smart commentary on an incredible diversity of interesting links....
-- Judith Weiss

Amygdala has more interesting obscure links to more fascinating stuff that any other blog I read.
-- Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk

Gary's stuff is always good.
-- Meryl Yourish

...the level-headed Amygdala blog....
-- Geitner Simmons

The only trouble with reading Amygdala is that it makes me feel like such a slacker. That Man Farber's a linking, posting, commenting machine, I tell you!
-- John Robinson, Sore Eyes

...the all-knowing Gary Farber....
-- Edward Winkleman, Obsidian Wings

Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged

We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!

Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog

Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog


Gary is certainly a non-idiotarian 'liberal'...
-- Perry deHaviland

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

Gary Farber's great Amygdala blog.
-- Dr. Frank

Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott

Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit

My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal

If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.

Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks

I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes

Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this?
-- Natalie Solent

You nailed it... nice job."
-- James Lileks

Gary Farber is a principled liberal....
-- Bill Quick, The Daily Pundit

December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 December 2011 January 2013

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Thursday, January 31, 2002
READ MACHIAVELLI urges reader Mark Brittingham, responding to my comments on "the axis of evil" by suggesting that
"Yes, of course it occurred to them. Of course they have to 'deny' that they really meant to compare these countries to countries who were beaten bloody in WWII and ultimately visited by nuclear weapons."
Mark asks and answers:
"Is it always better to avoid 'misunderstanding'? Or is it sometimes better to piss people off, get in their face, scare the bejezus out of them and then say 'oh, you MUST have misunderstood.' Diplomacy sometimes proceeds by the art of stating a position that is implied, then denied."
As a general point, he's spot-on, of course, and naturally this kind of coding is sine qua non for diplomatic intercourse. Whether he's correct that this was the calculated intent behind "the axis of evil," I can't say; I'd certainly prefer to believe it. I've read my Machiavelli, not to mention tons of diplomatic history. I expect Karl Rove has, as well as Powell and Cheney, amongst many others in the Administration. It's possible they were willing to balance confusing the world with an attempt to send a signal in choosing this usage, but if so, it doesn't strike me as the clearest signal, either. The rest of the words regarding Iraq, Iran, and North Korea weren't ambiguous or insufficient. The diplomatic world has had the bejeezus scared out of them by those alone; confusing them by the apparent linkage of using "axis" doesn't strike me as clearly adding value. But thanks for contributing the observation, Mark, which is a worthy one, and may be correct.

1/31/2002 12:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE PEARL KIDNAPPING: the latest story from the Times with the latest e-mail message. It contains this English-language paragraph:
"Some of our brothers in the pakstani government have assured us that they will do their best to ensure the rights of all pakstanis in custody the world over. May God enable them to fulfil their promise. If they break their promise then rest assured that there are many pakstanis who are ready to take steps for their wrongfully suffering brothers. and many amreekans who are sitting ducks."
The Pakistani government, from the mouth of Musharaff's top spokesman, no less, declared
"there is an establishment of an Indian linkage into this kidnapping."
We shall see. I'm still going with my theory of a rightist Pakistani ISI-linked/created group. I hope Pearl can make it out alive.

1/31/2002 11:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EUROPE DOESN'T GET IT: That's a considerable over-generalization. But it's certainly true, so far as I can tell, for most of the usual suspects, such as the Grauniad. Today's leader is a point in evidence:
"George Bush's delusion"

"Tragedy does not give America a free hand"

"A tendency among politicians to exploit the September 11 tragedy has been apparent from the very first. In Israel, Russia and China, governments were quick to use America's agony to justify the unjustifiable in Palestine, Chechnya and in Xinjiang. Pakistan's ostracised regime found in September 11 a return route to international acceptance. Its arch rival India, in its turn, used one crisis to dramatise another, in Kashmir. From Tehran to Khartoum to Harare, political leaders climbed aboard the anti-terrorism bandwagon with a view to domestic advantage as well as Washington's aid and approbation. Even Tony Blair's post-September 11 empathy offensive was not totally devoid of similar calculations.

Such is the inevitable way, perhaps, of a hard-hearted, cynical world. But when George Bush, president of the very nation that was targeted, follows suit and begins to exploit and manipulate the September 11 tragedy for political advantage, alarm bells must ring out loud."

Absolutely. This is a classic motif at work: all the world can do this bad thing: it's the inevitable way of a hard-hearted, cynical world. Tsk, tsk, cluck, cluck. But when America and George Bush do it, then alarm bells must ring out loud.

Because America must be treated by a double-standard from the rest of the world.

And George W. Bush, well, say no more, say no more, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more.

"All US policy, both international and domestic, is now framed in terms of last autumn's emergency; all measures, however partisan and divisive, are justified in the name of patriotic unity and solidarity; all misgiving and dissent must be overridden for the sake of America's 'just cause.' This is a premise fortified by falsehoods and underpinned by a delusion. The principal falsehood is that the policies Mr Bush now advocates are dictated by an ongoing terrorist menace. They are not. Primarily they are the products of conservative Republicanism, set dangerously loose in September 11's aftermath."
This is what they don't get: this is largely untrue. Yes, it has some truth regarding domestic policy. I've pointed that out, and will go on pointing it out. But what they completely lack understanding of is that September 11th changed everything.

I'm not a Bush supporter. I'm a political eclectic, but I have a lot of left in my background, some in my foreground, and I've had no problem identifying at least partially as a liberal all my life. I don't regard Bush as legitimately elected, and I expect it's likely I'll work for the Democratic nominee in 2004. I oppose many of the Administration's domestic policies. I overwhelmingly support Democrats over Republicans, as a rule.

But post-September 11th, much of what goes on isn't partisan for me.

I'm a New Yorker, born and bred. Brooklyn, specifically, though I've also lived in Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. I've lived the overwhelming majority of my life in NYC, with time-outs for eight years in Seattle, a year in Boston, some months in East Lansing, Michigan, and a few other months here and there; I've only just found myself in Boulder, Colorado. I'm a New Yorker.

Most Europeans don't get, despite all they saw, what it meant to New Yorkers, and to many Americans, to see a sizable chunk of New York City reduced to a smoking ruin of incinerated bodies, leaving thousands of children and their elders weeping, looking for their lost ones.

Doing our best to prevent similar occurences ever happening again became, that day, the prime motivation in life for many people, and the prime driver of what government policy should be.

That's not a partisan idea.

It's not a falsehood that this is now the driving idea in American foreign policy. It's not a manipulation. It's not a trick. It's not a cover. It's not conservative Republicanism in the slightest. It's real. It's non-partisan. It's what most Americans, Democrats and Republicans, libertarians, sensible leftists, and independents, want. It doesn't mean we'll close our eyes to partisan issues, but neither will we confuse non-partisan issues with the partisan, for the most part. It's American.

"September 11 undoubtedly bound the American nation. But it did not blind it. Sooner or later, Mr Bush, self-styled universal soldier for truth, will have to stop pretending that tragedy gave him a free hand to remake America and the world to fit his simplistic, narrow vision - or risk having voters and US allies end the pretence for him. For this is the delusion under which he labours. And a very dangerous delusion it is too."
The Guardian is wrong. George Bush is not pretending to remake America. September 11th remade America.

1/31/2002 10:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Press Briefing by the Attorney General


"Beginning today, over four hundred (400) federal agents will begin fanning out across America, where they will storm the perverted ramparts of any and all public buildings, parks, and museums which harbor objectionable 'art.' While most offending works will be shrouded in draperies or clad in over-sized Brooks Brothers suits, some (most notably the Statue of Liberty) will undergo extensive artistic revisions, while yet others will find their repulsive intercourse muscles wrapped snugly and permanently in cocoons of industrial strength duct tape."

Read the whole thing.

1/31/2002 01:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE BUZKASHI: Remember our motto at Amygdala: you can't have enough stories about buzkashi! This one has a picture.

1/31/2002 01:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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1/31/2002 01:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY TURKEY DOESN'T WANT WAR WITH IRAQ is explained by Fareed Zakaria. Because their overwhelming priority is to get into the European Union, first of all, which is a notion that surely jibes with the smatterings we here at Amygdala know about Turkey. Secondarily:
"If there is a war, it is impossible that Iraq will hold together.

Turkey’s nightmare is not that an invasion of Iraq will produce an independent Kurdish state on its southern border. 'That’s not an option,' a senior source close to the military explained. The nightmare is that the Army would be forced to preclude that option by occupying northern Iraq."


"Washington has told Ankara that it supports the principle that Iraq should remain one nation. Many Turkish generals don’t believe it. They think that once the war begins, all bets are off. The Iraqi Kurds have been the chief opposition to Saddam Hussein for a decade. Were they to declare independence, the United States would not crush them. We’re for self-determination, remember? As a result, Turkey wants assurances that no Afghan-style operation—bombing plus reliance on local forces—will be attempted."

Interesting piece.

1/31/2002 01:11:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JOE CONASON chimes in on pundit buck-raking, particularly knocking William Kristol, who deserves it.
"In fact, Mr. Kristol’s ethical code apparently applies to everyone but himself. This reflects poorly on someone who built his career on preaching about the liberal evasion of personal responsibility, the decline of public morality and the necessity of full disclosure by the Clinton administration.

But hypocrite and fraud that he is, even Bill Kristol isn’t beyond redemption. The first step would be to disclose all his corporate emoluments. Then he ought to give back that $100,000 to the Enron employees who were cheated."

1/31/2002 12:36:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 30, 2002
"Why did Enron (with the help of Ed Gillespie, a key Bush operative and company lobbyist) get to help write Tom DeLay’s stimulus bill? The last of these really blows my gaskets. [...] Get this: if the stimulus bill that passed the House, backed by the White House, somehow survives intact, the government would write a rebate check for $254 million to... Enron."
C'mon, they need the money, Jonathan, don't they?

1/30/2002 11:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"That wording rocketed around the world today, and led to puzzled calls from diplomats here in Washington seeking to explain it in cables back to their capitals. The White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said that in reaching for the word 'axis,' Mr. Bush meant no comparison to the Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan during World War II."
The State of the Union Address is supposed to be vetted about 387.249 jillion times. It didn't occur to anyone that innumerable people would consider the comparison?
"He said the expression was 'more rhetorical than historical.'"
Do these people not know the most basic history? Keeping in mind that this is the crew that put "crusade" into a carefully vetted speech at one of the most critical times in the nation's history, and somehow never thought about the connotations for anyone with three brain cells to rub together. I just wave my hands helplessly in the air, and am thankful that more than not they've handled the war well, so far. But I'd definitely suggest Karen Hughes think about a new hire somewhere in her fief.

1/30/2002 10:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOWARD KURTZ AGREES WITH ME and god knows how many online pundits, not to mention Plain People.
"Now, there's some heated talk about journalistic finance reform -- that is, what are corporations buying when they lard their payrolls with prominent media folks? And should columnists and commentators be taking cash from companies such as Enron, about which they later find themselves delivering strong opinions?"


"I've been critical of journalistic buckraking since the mid-1990s, when I wrote about a $30,000 speech that Sam Donaldson had given to an insurance group. The gilded trail of corporate honoraria quickly led to such luminaries as David Brinkley, Robert Novak, David Gergen, Cokie Roberts, Christopher Matthews, Larry King, Mark Shields, Fred Barnes, George Will and Michael Kinsley, who memorably said: "I didn't do it for years, but it became more socially acceptable.'"


"New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who got $50,000 from an Enron advisory board before joining the Times, blamed the criticism on an 'effort by conservatives to sling Enron muck toward their left.' Unfortunately for this argument, most of the Enron journalists are free-marketeers on the right."


"Perhaps what rankles most is the notion that Enron was trying to do what it did with George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Joe Lieberman, Lawrence Lindsey, Ralph Reed and about half of official Washington -- making an investment that could pay off later on. What, after all, did the commentators do for Enron? 'This was an advisory panel that had no function that I was aware of,' Krugman told his newspaper. Exactly.

It's hard for journalists who work for big companies, write books and appear on television to avoid all conflicts these days. But many of these commentators wax indignant when politicians of all stripes appear to be doing the bidding of those who fill their campaign coffers. For media people to line up at the same corporate trough is just asking for trouble."

Go, Howard.

1/30/2002 10:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE FABLED ARAB STREET is what Neil MacFarquhar has been trying to find to listen to.

The first point hit heavily is that tons of Arabs think the US doesn't listen to them or understand them and this is evidenced by the lack of action taken by the US against Israel, which obviously shows the lack of care the US has for Palestinians and their national cause. Not exactly news, there. But:

"'The United States says that U.N. resolutions should be applied everywhere in the world except Israel. Why?' asked Muhammad Abdel Hadi, the editor of diplomatic news at the semiofficial daily Al Ahram. He complained that American officials brush him off when he makes this point. 'They say, 'Forget about the past, let's talk about the moment.'"
I surely hope that isn't true. Because one thing US officials, and everyone else, should say in reply is: "Sure, we want to see UN resolution 242 and 338 implemented. They call for acceptance by all the states of
"respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" (242)


"calls upon all parties to present fighting to cease all firing" (338)

"Do you and your government support the idea that the Palestinians, as well as the Israelis, cease all firing? Do you and your government support the right of Israel to live in peace free from threats or acts of force? Good, so long as you and the Palestinian people and Authority live up to this, then we too shall pressure Israel to also live up to these Resolutions. But it's a two-sided deal, remember."

The other point hit upon in this piece is the vast popularity of Usama bin Laden.

"Even in a small hilltop town like Salt, Jordan, some feel so keenly that Muslim concerns are ignored that they heap praise on the 17 local men who went to join Osama bin Laden.

'I would like to be Osama and I would like to raise my son in the footsteps of Osama!' exclaimed Ibrahim Jelazi, a 58-year-old shopkeeper walking through Salt on a chilly night in a flowing brown robe. 'They may have stopped him from doing anything, but he had plans.'"

Again, the inferiority complex, the sense of impotence, and the sense of humiliation, are what I see here. Not "he accomplished some good" is what the man says -- not even "he accomplished something" -- it's simply the idea that "he had plans"; that alone is sufficient cause for pride. How sad. To attempt to make a serious point in a light way, this is an entire culture that desperately needs to take a self-esteem course, and then, better, actually start making serious contributions to world culture and technology, again, so they can take true pride in true achievements.

The last significant quote I find in this story is the following, from a merchant in Damascus:

"Every day you turn on the television and you see the Israelis killing Palestinians with U.S. weapons. No matter how much the U.S. tries to change its image in the Arab world, what we are seeing with our own eyes is much stronger."
That's what their tv shows them, and, of course, most people, particularly unsophisticated people without access to worldwide communications, believe their tv and their eyes. And their tv does not show them blown apart Israeli children, men, and women, heads lying next to bodies not their own, charred remains on fire as the blood sizzles. Only shot and suffering Palestinians.

We need a TV Free Islam, beamed in over the wishes of all the Arab and Islamic governments of the world, like it or not. It was a gung-ho idea while fighting Communism, and the effort is still being made for Cuba. We need it in Islamic lands far more than silly little Cuba, which threatens no one but its own people. Write your Congresscrittur. Write your newspaper. Write your tv station, and magazines, and newspaper columnists, and pundits, and online pundits. You don't even have to tell them Gary Farber sent you.

1/30/2002 10:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KOSHER MUSLIMS: Yes, it's Jews For Allah. No kidding.
"We are Jews and Muslims United to Revert Israel into an Islamic State"

Via Nick Denton.

1/30/2002 07:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SELECTED HEADLINES OF ROBERT FISK: (I am aware he may not have written many or any of these himself.)
Congratulations, America. You have made bin Laden a happy man: 22 January 2002

Red Cross: US broke Geneva Conventions: 22 January 2002

It is shameful for Britain to support the degradation of these terrorist suspects: 22 January 2002

Robert Fisk: Brace yourself for Part Two of the War for Civilisation: 'The US air strikes have now killed more Afghans than the hijackers killed westerners and others': 22 December 2001

Who could forget
My beating by refugees is a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war: 10 December 2001

Robert Fisk: This terrible conflict is the last colonial war: 04 December 2001

The river of victims runs through another war: 04 December 2001

Robert Fisk: We are the war criminals now: 29 November 2001

Robert Fisk: Forget the cliches, there is no easy way for the West to sort this out: 17 November 2001

A city of spiritual beauty broods in the rubble:15 November 2001

Robert Fisk: What will the Northern Alliance do in our name now? I dread to think...: 14 November 2001

Robert Fisk: No surprise at rumours of new atrocities by our 'foot-soldiers': 13 November 2001

Bin Laden: The target: So far, he hasn't put a foot wrong: 11 November 2001

Saifullah, man of peace, killed by American cruise missile: 30 October 2001

'The Taliban are not worried about being bombed': 27 October 2001

Robert Fisk: Farewell to democracy in Pakistan: 26 October 2001

Robert Fisk: As the refugees crowd the borders, we'll be blaming someone else: 'It is palpably evident that they are not fleeing the Taliban but our bombs and missiles': 23 October 2001

Robert Fisk: Slaughter of the innocent bolsters view that this is war against Islam: 15 October 2001

Robert Fisk: 'Will a few holes in the runway of Kandahar airport make a difference?': 14 October 2001

An original TV station that America wants to censor: Al-Jazeera: 11 October 2001

This next one is kinda self-referential
Robert Fisk: Lost in the rhetorical fog of war:'The Taliban have kept reporters out; does that mean we have to balance this distorted picture with our own half-truths?': 09 October 2001
Apparently the answer was "yes."
Robert Fisk: War disturbs the most dangerous political tectonic plate in the world: 08 October 2001
That was Afghanistan he means, mind.
Robert Fisk: Our friends are killers, crooks and torturers: 07 October 2001

Robert Fisk: This loose conjecture is unlikely to cut much ice with the Arab nations: 05 October 2001

That's the idea that bin Laden was responsible for September 11. You know, the idea that Prince Abdullah, ruler of Saudi Arabia, was expounding upon last week?
Backbenchers urge caution over military action: 05 October 2001

Robert Fisk: This is not a war on terror. It's a fight against America's enemies: 25 September 2001

Robert Fisk: How can the US bomb this tragic people?: 23 September 2001

If Bush wants an invasion, it could become more costly than Vietnam: 18 September 2001

Robert Fisk: Bush is walking into a trap: Retaliation is a trap: 16 September 2001

The lesson of history: Afghanistan always beats its invaders: 14 September 2001

Robert Fisk: Why I Hate The West And Myself

Okay, I made that last one up. Further commentary just isn't necessary, is it?

1/30/2002 06:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KIDNAPPED AMERICAN JOURNALIST Daniel Pearl is a story the Times has been following, no matter that Pearl is a Wall Street Journal reporter. There are curious elements. Supposedly Pearl had been lured with promises of a meeting with
"Sheik Mubarik Ali Shah Gilani, who had ties with Muslim groups in the United States and who has disappeared from sight. He has a home in Rawalpindi and is described as the guardian of a mystical shrine in Lahore, Pakistan.

Mr. Pearl, who was reporting on the militant Islamic underground, apparently believed that the cleric had links to Al Qaeda, officials said. He may also have believed that the cleric had ties to Richard C. Reid, the shoe-bomb suspect, who studied Islam in Pakistan and was a focus of Mr. Pearl's inquiries, officials said."


"But, in one of many confusing aspects of the case, the police believe that the cleric was somewhere in northern Pakistan, not this southern port of Karachi, at the time of the abduction."

Although there's considerably more of interest in this story, what strikes me is what isn't said. Although there's an emphasis on how the police
"said they remained unsure about who kidnapped Mr. Pearl and why"
it's also said that the photos of Pearl and the e-mail sent to newspapers puzzle investigators, one reason being
"the text contained no references to God or any of the religious language and topics normally included in statements by militant Islamic organizations"
and further, the demand seem very moderate, such as a return of Pakistanis at Gitmo to Pakistan for trial, and here's the one that really strikes me: they want the delivery of the embargoed F-16s to Pakistan.

Call me wacky, but this smacks of one and only one group to me: ISI, the Pakistani Intelligence Service. Nowhere in the Times coverage is this even directly hinted at. But, pray tell me, who the hell else is going to want those planes delivered to the Pakistani Government? I'm likely talking through my hat, I suppose, since I've not yet seen anyone even hint at this. But I'm going to follow this with interest.

ADDENDUM: another story mentions that

"was sent under the name 'kidnapperguy' via Hotmail, Microsoft's free e-mail service."
Isn't the Internet wonderful? Also,
"Text in Urdu attached to the e-mail message and translated by The New York Times began, 'A national movement to restore the dignity of Pakistan has been launched.' The demand related to the F-16's was made only in the Urdu text."
The latest e-mail now asserts that Pearl isn't CIA, but Mossad. Sigh.

1/30/2002 02:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TWO COMMENTS ON THE SOTU SPEECH: I thought Gerson did a pretty decent job, overall. But two phrases struck me as truly badly chosen.

"Axis of evil" is a very poor way to describe Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Not because elements in their government couldn't fairly be described as "evil," of course, or at least "dangerous to us." But because unlike the "Axis" of WWII, these three powers have no treaty or anything else whatsoever linking them. There is simply no "axis" among them or between any two of them. So it seems to anal-me a weird and poor choice of term.

I suppose "melange of evil" doesn't have the same ring, though.

"Let's roll"? What, are we a nation. or a cop show?

"He's an uncontrollable amnesiac superpower on a mission from God. She's a sharp-shooting wisecracking bisexual goth zombie midsize power. They fight crime! Let's roll!"

1/30/2002 01:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STATE'S RIGHTS TO CLONE: Professor Jack Balkin of Yale Law School points out that recent development of SCOTUS doctrine making it difficult for Congress to legislate what SCOTUS considers non-economic interstate activity also makes it more difficult for Congress to legislate a cloning ban.

1/30/2002 12:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DOG BITES MAN Post headline:
"States Reject Bush Label: Iran, Iraq and N. Korea deny Bush's claims they are exporting terrorism."
If it had been a man-bites-dog story, the word "bwahahaha" would have had to have been in it somewhere.

1/30/2002 12:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DEAD MAN WALKING is what Tom Friedman calls Arafat today, quoting Middle East writer David Makovsky:
"'Everyone hoped Arafat would be Nelson Mandela, but he turns out to be Robert Mugabe.'"
Friedman continues:
"This leaves us with five options. Option one: The Arab leaders will get together and try to replace Mr. Arafat as the relevant negotiating partner with Israel and offer Israelis a pan-Arab comprehensive peace in return for total withdrawal. Option two: Palestine is Jordan — Israel will invite Jordan to replace Mr. Arafat and re-assume its sovereignty in the West Bank, as the only Arab party Israel could trust there. Option three: Jordan is Palestine — Ariel Sharon will reoccupy the West Bank and drive Palestinians into Jordan. Option four: the Palestinians will oust Mr. Arafat and replace him with a new leadership that will restore Palestinian credibility with Israel as a responsible peace partner and authority. Option five: NATO takes over the West Bank and Gaza."
I think option three is best avoided. It would be unspeakably brutal, destroy the moral nature of Israeli society, and be at least a small historic crime.

I'm not planning on holding my breath for option four, particularly the second part, though one never knows.

Option one also seems rather on the unlikely side, though again, not wholly impossible.

Option two, well, King Abdullah hasn't been reported to be insane, so I don't see him taking that one up.

Which leaves only option five. Though Pete McCutcheon in rec.arts.sf.fandom, on Usenet, keeps suggesting that the South Koreans would be a good neutral choice.

1/30/2002 11:58:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WOODWARD-BALZ "Ten Days In September" series continues in the Post. Today is up to the 14th:
"Many in the room were crying. The president was teary-eyed as he made his way from one family to the next. One man, cradling a child in his arms, was carrying a picture of his brother, a firefighter who had been killed. The child pointed at the photograph and said simply, 'My uncle.'"

1/30/2002 11:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S STILL NOT A SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTION: The controversy over Ed Kramer, founder of Dragon*Con, and accused of sexual contact with underage boys, is reported onhere. I have no dog in the fight, and no idea if Ed is innocent or guilty. I just hate that so many people have the idea that the sort of three-ring kitchen sink mass-media circus D*C is, is a science fiction convention, as opposed to a real sf convention. Not that I wish for anyone who likes D*C, or its junior imitators, to have anything but fun at it/them, of course. It's just that some of us actually like to read good books and short stories, he said boringly, and to hang out with those others in the sf community who do, as well as talk about Buffy, Trek, etc.

1/30/2002 10:55:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IMPRECISE PRECISION: "Afghanistan proved that expensive precision weapons defeat the enemy and spare innocent lives, and we need more of them," said the President. But perhaps fewer or improved JDAMs and more laser-guided, instead?
"Nonetheless, there are good reasons, primae facie, to expect that the Afghanistan bombing campaign was less accurate than the one executed as part of Operation Allied Force [the Kosovo War]."


"The percentage of smart bombs used in Afghanistan was perhaps twice as high as in the 1999 Balkans conflict: 60 percent versus 30 percent. However, in Afghanistan, a much greater proportion of the smart weapons were guided by the Global Positioning System than was the case in the 1999 Yugoslavian war, where most were laser-guided."


"A greater emphasis on GPS-directed weapons."

"One development that distinguishes the Afghanistan bombing campaign that should have led to fewer civilian casualties than in the 1999 Kosovo war was an increase in the percentage of "smart" weapons used. However, within the category of 'smart" weapons, there also was a switch in emphasis from laser-guided bombs to bombs directed by means of the Global Positioning System (GPS).

Most current GPS directed weapons, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), are simply less accurate than laser-guided bombs.15 Indeed, GPS-directed weapons are not routinely called "precision" weapons at all, but "accurate" or "near precision" ones. Under test conditions, JDAMs have been able to reliably achieve a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of approximately 10-13 meters -- meaning that fifty percent of the JDAMs dropped will hit within 32-42 feet of their programmed coordinates. By comparison, laser-guided bombs routinely achieve CEPs of 3-8 meters. Even a difference as small as an 8-meter versus a 10-meter CEP equates to being able to put 50 percent of expended weapons within a 2100 square foot circle versus being able to put them in a circle of 3300 square feet. Should an intended target sit among a cluster of buildings, the difference between these two circular areas is significant. And, of course, in either case 50 percent of the weapons fall outside the circles.

There are several reasons for the increased US emphasis on GPS-directed weapons: they are cheaper than laser-guided bombs, they can be used in all weather conditions, they can be launched from much greater distances and, because their targets need not be designated while the weapons are in flight, they can be dispensed in large batches. As substitutes for "dumb bombs" they promise greater precision in attack. But if the present generation of GPS-directed munitions are used to substitute for more precise laser-guided weapons, the aggregate effect will be a reduction in the average accuracy of the smart weapon mix."

1/30/2002 07:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GUNS AND BUTTER UNION: Jacob Weisberg got it right in Slate:
"You could tell the speech was about to get more partisan when Bush disavowed any such intent. [...] For example, Bush no longer has a conservative economic agenda. He now has an 'economic security' package that's a domestic corollary to our fight overseas.

As delineated in Bush's speech, though, 'economic security,' sounds a lot like maxing out your credit cards. On top of 'the largest increase in defense spending in two decades' and 'nearly' doubling spending on homeland security, the president issued or renewed calls for the following items: a stimulus package, an acceleration of already-passed tax cuts, making all tax breaks permanent, all manner of new education spending, a prescription drug benefit for the elderly, private Social Security accounts for younger workers, an expansion of the Peace Corps, and about a dozen other not insignificant things."

Two Words Most Unlikely To Hear In State Of Union: "pig-fucker" and "Enron." Most Unlikely Phrase: "My friends, I call our program 'The New Clintonism.'"

1/30/2002 06:41:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FBI COUNTER-SPY OUT: Sheila Horan, acting head of FBI's National Security Division, aka "Counterintelligence," aka "the spycatchers," has been summarily drop-kicked by Director Mueller, according to the Times.
"...officials said [...] Mr. Mueller transferred Ms. Horan [...] to an administrative support position. They said she was expected to leave the bureau."
The passive voice is just the most useful voice in journalism, innit?

Reasons cited include Hanssen-reeling and an allegedly botched investigation of Chinese spying.:

"Mr. Mueller had lost patience [...] for [her] failing, in his view, to conduct a sufficiently aggressive inquiry into the accusations. Mr. Mueller was said to be especially displeased that she did not provide him sooner with details about the case."
Pissing off your boss is usual Reason Number One for getting shoved out.
"Other officials said that Mr. Mueller [...] had been impatient with the breezy and independent style of Ms. Horan...."
Moreover, her rabbi had left.
"Ms. Horan, an agent with more than two decades of experience at the F.B.I. [...] standing had eroded. She had been a deputy to Neil Gallagher, who before his retirement had headed the national security division and took much of the criticism from Congress concerning the Lee case. Under Mr. Gallagher, Ms. Horan had been in day-to-day charge of spy investigations."
It's problematic for the FBI to do counter-intel on the Chinese in the post-Wen Ho Lee era. Meanwhile, multiple bureaucratic "reviews" are under way, so those will doubtlessly cure all problems, one after another.

1/30/2002 06:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 29, 2002
GLOBAL ENRON CROSSING: The failure of Global Crossing has been much blogged and written about already, of course, as befits the largest US telecommunications bankruptcy ever, and one now being spun ("DNC chief profited from bankrupt firm") by the Republican side as damaging Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe as much as Enron allegedly damages Republicans (more than Democrats, but oh, there's plenty for all, boys and girls, that's one clear thing about All-Enron-All-The-Time). It's just possible that not all deregulation is always a good thing, and I suspect that view may push forward a bit again in the public discourse.

1/29/2002 05:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OKAY, MAYBE A CRACKER JACK PRIZE?: Reader Roger Sweeny points out, perfectly politely, that Paul Krugman only won a Nobel Prize in my fertile imagination, and doesn't even ask me what drugs I was on to come up with that. I do wonder where I hallucinated that factoid from? As a result of this, our entire editorial staff at Amygdala has been fired.

Just like Japanese Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka. (Gotta pound those Japanese pegs down when they stand out.)

1/29/2002 04:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MICHELANGELO SIGNORILE is again thrashing at Andrew Sullivan; this time it's, unsurprisingly, over the Krugman Krusade. (Via Mind Over What Matters).

1/29/2002 03:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BERT HASN'T CHANGED HIS NAME, HAS HE?: Via Craphound, via boingboing, and again via Newsrack.

1/29/2002 01:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S ALL RIGHT, THEN: The European Union has issued a statement defending Yasser Arafat.
"...and said it may demand compensation from Israel for EU-funded property it has destroyed in Palestine. [...] Some EU foreign ministers were more blunt, Sweden's Anna Lindh, being the most outspoken.

As she arrived for yesterday's meeting of EU foreign ministers, she said: 'I think it is very dangerous if the United States is supportive of the Israeli government and of the confrontation [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon has tried to use instead of supporting peace talks.'

Diplomats said the EU declaration was balanced and pointed out that it called on Mr Arafat to 'do everything to put an end to terrorism and the armed intifada; dismantle all the terrorist networks and arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of terrorist acts'"

So I expect that the EU will consider it well and sufficient for Israel to pay as much attention to EU "calls" as Arafat has. I guess maybe he hasn't been in office long enough to follow their "balanced" declaration?

1/29/2002 05:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BRITISH HOSTILITY TO AMERICA: Rupert Cornwell has an interesting take on this in The Independent.

1/29/2002 05:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UN POLICE IN BOSNIA are involved in the sex trade there, and the UN doesn't want to know, according to this article by Wendy McElroy, blogged by the Instapundit. (Obscure note: the shame is that the number of former Oasis members presently reading my blog can probably be counted on the fingers of no hands, though perhaps one or three of them might eventually catch up.)

1/29/2002 04:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KRUGMAN ARCHIVE: I've belatedly noticed the Paul Krugman archive, set up by a fan (hey, some people do Madonna, or Gillian Anderson, or wosshername, that Taiwanese politician, and some people do economists). A variety of interesting stuff, particularly if you want to learn about macroeconomics. The fellow who runs the page has a critical letter to Krugman here. One trivial point struck me when he said "[Krugman's] column on the AOL Time Warner merger was rock solid." So I looked at that piece from 1999, and read the Nobel Prize winner saying:
"The Fortune site, part of Pathfinder, was deeply flawed in at least two ways: Much of it was in unreadable yellow type (when I inquired about that, I was told it looked better on a Macintosh, suggesting a slight lack of consumer orientation)...."
I always wonder when I run across someone who doesn't know that they can set a browser's, any browser's, text they're reading, or the background for it, to be any damn color they like. True, web designers shouldn't suggest bad choices, just as they shouldn't, tsk, set absolute text sizes. But these are all under the control of one's browsers, under ordinary circumstances, so far as I know, and it doesn't take a Nobel Prize to know this.

1/29/2002 03:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THIS IS BIZARRE: After nearly three weeks, the Times suddenly noticed that John Buscema had died on on January 10th, which was not an obscure happening to those who pay the faintest attention to the comic book world. I suppose "better late than never," but still.

1/29/2002 02:01:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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POLITICS IS WHAT those other pols do:
"'The president will focus on priorities like jobs and the war, while others will focus on politics,' said Jim Wilkinson, White House deputy communications director."

1/29/2002 01:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHARLESTON HAS INVENTED the Livability Court. It sounds like a good idea, if not abused.

1/29/2002 01:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EUROPE IS more freely expelling terrorist suspects.

1/29/2002 01:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, January 28, 2002
BIG MONEY JOURNALISM: Howard Kurtz has another entry on columnists taking Enron money. But there's a far larger issue here. It's commonly considered unseemly for politicians to have to scrabble to raise vast sums to run for office.

This is because, of course, theoretically a politician is supposed to represent people, not money, but, unsurprisingly, since they need that money to stay in office, they do, in fact, end up being highly influenced to grant access and favors to those responsible for steering money and favors towards them.

We could just sigh about this being the inevitable way of the world, but in fact this has a pretty bad effect unless one favors plutocracy over democracy.

The same problems afflict journalism and professional punditry. Big Names are commonly put into the six figure income range by dint of having money steered to them by the same, dare I say it, monied interests, by such means as payments for "speeches" and "consultancies."

In this Kurtz column, which offers no revelations beyond some handy examples for me to hang this on, he quotes:

"Lawrence Kudlow, a National Review contributing editor and co-host of CNBC's 'America Now,' disclosed last week that he'd gotten $50,000 from Enron -- two $15,000 speaking fees and a $20,000 subscription to his New York economic research firm.

Kudlow, who has been denouncing Enron, says he has 'nothing to hide' and has been 'tougher' on the bankrupt company because he feels 'betrayed. . . I felt compelled to speak up because I had been involved there.'

Kudlow says he should have disclosed the payments in a National Review piece on Enron the previous week. 'If I had to do it over again, I would have put it in there. I acknowledge that,' he says."

How about every journalist and pundit publish a complete list of whom they've taken money from, every quarter?
"Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, was paid $100,000 for serving on an Enron advisory board over two years. In November, the Standard disclosed his service in a largely positive article about Enron by contributing editor Irwin Stelzer, who served on the same advisory board, which was assembled by former CEO Kenneth Lay.

'What Enron and Lay deserve to be remembered for is leading the fight for competition. . .. Enron fought to allow customers and suppliers to strike whatever bargains they found mutually advantageous. . . Enron did challenge and defeat the establishment,' Stelzer wrote.

Kristol says he does 'a fair amount' of speaking to corporate groups and doesn't normally disclose it, but decided it would be 'prudent' in this case. What did Enron get? 'I don't know -- why do a lot of trade associations and companies feel it's appropriate to pay me and a million other people to give speeches?'"

He asks this as if it's a rhetorical question, but it's not. It's a key question to what's wrong with mass journalism and punditry and "opinion-making" in this country (not that the US is unusual in this, of course). Why do people give Big Money to journalists/"opinion leaders"? Well, duh, to make them feel favorably inclined to the interests of the people giving the money. It's what's commonly called a "bribe," save that it's not for a direct quid pro quo. And unless we want politicians and journalists to be taking bribes, so long as it's just not for a direct quid pro quo, don't you think that the least we can do is start by asking for full disclosure?
"He says he may let his deputy handle future Enron articles 'just to be super-clean about it.'"
How about not just Enron, Bill? How about disclose everyone who gives you money? I'll hold off on the horrific idea of suggesting maybe journalists shouldn't be taking money from anyone but the employers they write for, as the sun would likely go nova before we get to that radical an idea.
"Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, who got $25,000 to $50,000 for helping Lay with a speech and annual report, says, 'Whether I had worked with Ken Lay or not,' the company's behavior 'would have made me angry and I would have thought about it for a while and then done a column. The only thing I think my Enron experience gave me was a sense of the corporate culture, which I tried to paint [. . . ] I brought it up myself, deliberately, knowing I might expose myself to woe -- because I had strong opinions and couldn't dodge them.'"
Which is pretty much exactly, of course, the story from:
"New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who got $50,000 from the Enron advisory board, blames the flap on 'conservative newspapers and columnists. . . . Reading those attacks, you would think I was a major-league white-collar criminal. . . . Part of a broader effort by conservatives to sling Enron muck toward their left,' he writes.
Little pisses me off more than people squeezing every damn issue into a matter of handedness, as if all the world were divisible by what place a person or stance is findable at on a simple one-dimensional yard-stick. I'm disgusted by the hypocrisy of those who choose whom to find fault with over an identical issue by how much they identify with how closely on that yardstick they find themselves near someone. Kristol, Krugman, Noonan, all the big name journalist-pundits, they're all guilty of bribe-taking, and although more money flows more heavily towards "rightist" writers, as a rule, for obvious reasons, largely the issue here is that those with big megaphones get bribed more heavily, for equally obvious reasons. And it's all equally right or wrong, just as it's equally as right or wrong be it a politician or a journalist/pundit taking the money. I think it's largely wrong. At the least, I think we'd be better served by disclosure.

1/28/2002 11:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOODBYE, PIPPI LONGSTOCKING: Astrid Lindgren has died at the age of 94.

1/28/2002 10:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WASHTECH HACKED: The Washington Post's WashTech website was hacked earlier today.

1/28/2002 09:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DEMANDS AND REQUESTS: Ah, the language of diplomacy. The lovely and becoming Arab News covers the press conference of Saudi Arabian Interior Minister Prince Naif, who said of the over one hundred Saudi Arabians detained at Camp X-Ray:
"We’ll demand that the Saudi detainees be handed over, because they are subject to the Kingdom’s rules."
The charming and talented Washington Post also covered this, save he's "Prince Nayef" to them, and, having noted the "demand," follow with:
"Bush responded to Nayef's demand by saying, 'I appreciate his request.'"
Among some of Naif/Nayef's other words, by the way:
"He defended the Salafi school and Wahhabism saying 'Wahhabism is only a reform movement aimed at clearing Islam of misconceptions.'

Prince Naif described Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people as 'harsh and horrible terrorist attacks.' [...] He said that the Arab and Islamic world was facing a 'savage' Western media attack led by US media."

1/28/2002 09:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ABDULLAH SPEAKS: The ruler of Saudi Arabia had a royal audience with the NY Times and the Washington Post today. He referred to the "so-called tension" between the Kingdom and the US (if we say it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist), and then blamed the nonexistent tension on the Usual Suspects, the "media."
"A lot of what is described as so-called tension is really the result of some in the media and statements by some members of the U.S. Congress."
Here's a bit I find interesting:
"A deviant is a deviant regardless of nationality. Bin Laden is a deviant regardless of his nationality. I also believe that bin Laden had an objective in this case. Bin Laden's objective was to drive a wedge between the Kingdom and the United States. He picked young Saudis, and he was able to brainwash them, he was able to program them for an evil cause. The proof is that he was able to name them and say what regions they came from. That is proof that he planned this very carefully."
Now, cast your mind back just a few weeks ago, a month or two or more ago: remember how across the Islamic world were endless denials that bin Laden could be responsible for September 11th? The endless demands for "proof"? The insistence that no attack on Afghanistan could possibly be just, as there was no "proof" against bin Laden or al Queda? How the goalposts move! Now the "proof" that Saudi Arabians are good and that bin Laden is a simple deviant, only coincidentally a Saudi Arabian, just as the 15 Saudi terrorists were only coincidentally Saudi Arabian, is that bin Laden "planned this very carefully." Isn't logic a flexible tool?

The Post also noted that:

"Several hours before the interview with Abdullah, Interior Minister Prince Nayef drew a comparison between Israeli actions and terrorism committed by Muslims. Declaring in an address carried on state television that 'Islam is against terrorism,' he then asked, 'Why is it not said that Israeli terrorism is the fiercest and most heinous terrorism being committed now?'"
Because that would be a lie?

1/28/2002 08:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NYPD COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTER-TERRORISM: New top johnnies with clout have been appointed.
"...the two new deputy commissioners have a combined 70 years of experience sneaking spies into foreign countries, landing soldiers on foreign shores and navigating the bureaucratic back alleys in Washington where policy and politics intersect."


"the two new positions, deputy commissioner[s] [...will be filled by] a retired Marine Corps general to oversee counterterrorism efforts and a former C.I.A. spymaster to head the department's intelligence division...."

See, even after Guiliani, NYC can say "our city can kick your city's ass."

1/28/2002 05:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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White House Downplays Veep’s Influence Over Seasons

Via Andy Borowitz via Instapundit.

1/28/2002 05:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WYCHE FOWLER, former Senator from Georgia, former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, was absolutely nailed to the wall, put through the wall, and nailed to the next wall, by Matt Welch, in this devastating collection of apologetics for the Kingdom.
"...for my money, no single misguided pundit has done as much harm to the country in this time of crisis as Wyche Fowler."
Read Welch and see how.

1/28/2002 05:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WAR DEATHS: Old news to some, but I'm catching up to these rebuttals to Marc Herold’s assertions of over 4,000 Afghani war dead killed by the US. Matt Welch quoted Mark Steyn quoting Human Rights Watch at under 1,000, and also Bruce Ralston and Charles Johnson. I also see Ralston again, quoting a study and The Globe and Mail, among others:
Reuters: 1,000 (a month ago)
Human Rights Watch: 1,000 (also a month ago)
Project on Defense Alternatives: 1,000-1,300
Marc Herold: 4,000+

1/28/2002 05:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OH, WHOOPS, never mind.

1/28/2002 04:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BOOK DEAL, SCHMOOK DEAL: Matt Welch asks that we should all note the way the repression inherent in the system affects him, too, really, trulio, or, at least, wishes it would so he could get some of the goodies, too, which I'll agree he surely deserves. In passing, he notes
"Bestselling author and long-toiling intellectual Susan Sontag also made the conceptually daring connection between criticism of her foolish reactions to September 11 and the domestic victory of the Thought Police: 'It turns out,' she concluded, 'we have increasingly become incredibly conformist, and very afraid of debate and criticism.' Too true! Pass the book deal!"
I wonder if he's noticed this:
"UCLA Acquires Archive of Susan Sontag. [...] Author Susan Sontag's literary archive, which includes essays, film scripts and diaries, has been purchased by the UCLA Library, the university announced Saturday.

An anonymous alumna of the University of California at Los Angeles donated $1.1 million to purchase the work from Sontag, the Los Angeles Times reported."

Rather more than any advances Sontag has ever been contracted for, I'm quite sure. I'm pretty darn sure more than her combined total royalties, as well, though conceivably I'm wrong. Go for the platinum, Matt, and get that University library papers deal; follow the money. Gosh knows I'm not as reliable as AP, which included this graf further down in the story:
"Her first collection of essays, Against Interpretation, was published in 1996 and is considered a modern classic for its discussion of the arts and contemporary culture."
1996, huh? It's a modern classic, but not so anyone at AP has read it.

1/28/2002 04:41:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"The images of John Walker Lindh's grimy face among captured Taliban fighters helped make him one of the most hated figures in America's war on terrorism.

"'Looks like a rat, talks like a rat ... must be a rat,' read the New York Post headline" [...] "with Lindh back on American soil and facing charge that could bring life in prison, his defense team is battling to reshape his public image." [quotes from the weeping parents] "'John loves America [...] He never meant to harm any American, and he never did harm any American.'"

Much etc. More about the impossibilty of reshaping the image of this loathed and hated figure.
"In a mid-December Gallup poll, 70 percent of respondents thought Lindh should be imprisoned or executed. A newer poll released Friday by CNN-Time Magazine found only 3 percent of 1,017 adults said Lindh 'did not do anything seriously wrong.'

Succeeding in humanizing the 'American Taliban' in the public's eyes may be impossible, say some of the nation's top image crafters."

Again, much etc.
"By his return, Lindh had become, along with Osama bin Laden, one of the most hated figures to emerge from the war."
The Arab News take?
"Lindh has captured media’s imagination"
is the headline.
"John Walker Lindh has captured the imagination of the American press. Since his delivery to the media circus two months ago, the details of his life, background, hairstyle, and musical tastes have been recounted in detail by fascinated reporters.

Example: His first appearance at a US District Court last Friday in Alexandria, Virginia, was one of a 'boyish and meek' young man, noted the Boston Globe.

Though no one has yet to conjure up images of a modern day Robin Hood, John Walker’s title, 'American Taleban,' has caught on quickly throughout the United States, and websites have already been registered for Internet use.

National accounts of his recent court appearance focused on his appearance and mannerisms, and marked the makeover from soiled captive to model prisoner.

Lindh was 'clean-cut,' 'shorn,' and 'baby faced' among other things. National Public Radio referred to him as 'an intelligent and curious young man' and 'an inquisitive soul,' while CBS billed Lindh as 'very calm, very polite... not at all the grubby renegade.' Reuters called him 'America’s home-grown holy warrior.'"

Etc., etc., etc., as Yul Brynner used to say. Yes, the trusty Arab News has sussed out what America's press missed: that America's press loves John Walker Lindh, and admires his adoption of Islam and his bold and dashing ways.

Meanwhile, Instapundit Glen Reynolds seconds a question from a reader noting that Walker

"...changed his name to Sulayman al-Lindh, according to early news reports on CNN and elsewhere. Yet all the media are now referring to al-Lindh exclusively by his former name.

Why is this? Perhaps, just perhaps, refusing to use his real name --Sulayman al-Lindh -- preserves a patina of innocence for the Taliban fighter formerly known as John Walker. It marginalizes the fact that al-Lindh took intentional steps over a period of three years to place himself in the heart of violent Islamic fundamentalism, a process so deliberate that he changed his name to begin it."

To which the trusty Arab News notes
"And, just to toss things up, Lindh’s attorney, James Brosnahan, announced that his client now wanted to be called 'John Lindh,' rather than John Walker, John Walker Lindh, Suleyman Al-Lindh, Suleyman Al-Faris or Abdul Hamid — all previously given names."
With respect to the sagacious Glen Reynolds, I thought this was a "duh" category question. Lindh has a lawyer. He, his associates, and Lindh's parents want the Talib to seem as sympathetic as possible. Duh. Of course they're going to clean him up and re-bill him with his American name. Like he'd get better promo in the US press as "Suleyman Al-Lindh"? Duh? And just to finish with that marvelous Arab News, since they'd believe "Suleyman" would rilly work swell for Al-Lind:
"Whatever you want to call him, there is a readymade audience for him across the US. 'If you shaved him and gave him a haircut and taught him some dance moves, he would become the most popular guy on campus, with all the girls going for him,' said one participant in a recent CNN 'Talk Back Live' show. Meanwhile, conspiracy-driven observers continue to speculate that, in reality, Lindh is a paid CIA plant, or a fall guy. Stay tuned."
They're just a marvelous news site, aren't they? They do give great insight into the Saudi Arabian government/elite view, and a considerable service that is. No shit. That's what an "observer" told me in the passive voice, anyway.

1/28/2002 03:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"Today I put batteries in Gnat’s Sesame Street Kitchen Playset. Her Nana picked it up at a garage sale, and the batteries had long run dry. As I installed new batteries I realized this was a stupid thing to do, since it guaranteed more bleepin’ bleeping, and I try to keep the pointless electronic chatter in the house to a minimum. It’s a small piece with a little stove and a sink, and buttons with Gove, Eem, and Dutdut (Grover, Elmo, and Big Bird, or Big Duck as she has named him, bravely recontextualizing his identity to bring out the polymorphous transspecies essence that simultaneously comments on and stays apart from the corporatist branding paradigm whose capitalistic imperatives underscore, yet slyly invalidate, the tortured dichotomy of a public television system wholly dependant on both the market and the government, and can I have my grant now? Please?)

As I have mentioned before, I do not mind Elmo. I think he’s actually cute - although of course if I had no idea what Elmo was, and he turned up in the basement, I would beat him with a shoe. Every Elmo show follows the same strict sequence. There's always a segment with Mr. Noodles, a befuddled and much put-upon man in baggy clothes. I first met Mr. Noodles during the bout of pneumonia, and for some reason he was a comfort, perhaps because he seemed to be sweating as much as I was. Then - inexplicably - he was replaced with another Mr. Noodles, who looked nothing at all like the Real Mr. Noodles. It would be like replacing Mr. Greenjeans with a short fat guy. This really bothered me; it was one of those Dick York - Dick Sargent swapouts that required an explanation. And sure enough: eventually I saw an Elmo episode in which both Mr. Noodles appeared side by side. You could tell they were different because one had a bandaid on his forehead; then they grappled forever in an energy corridor between two universes. But what of Mr. Noodles? I asked myself. What of Mr. Noodles?"

1/28/2002 02:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME: Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About. I was getting muscle cramps in my torso muscles I was laughing so hard. This is one of the funniest pieces of web writing I've ever read. Better than ten episodes of Fawlty Towers, say.

1/28/2002 01:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MARTY PERETZ SELLS OUT: Holy crap. Will have to see how this sale of The New Republic changes "one of the only liberal magazines widely read in Washington."

1/28/2002 01:32:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, January 27, 2002
BLOGGER HISTORY: Fascinating to see here that Cameron Barrett properly credited
"Like fanzine editors before them, weblog editors embrace a topic or theme and run with it."
As a longtime historian of decades standing of the fanzine and sf fanzine field, I'm pleased to see ancestry noted here (just as so many "internet" terms were invented back in the 1940's and '50's by sf fans in sf fanzines, such as "IMHO" and "Real Soon Now" and so on, and are properly credited in The Jargon File).

If you've not figured it out yet, by the way, my "topic or theme" is "Stuff That Interests Or Amuses Or Pisses Off Gary." Though I probably need to get around to a second page for rants that don't particularly hang on links.

1/27/2002 07:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THOSE WACKY PRESIDENTIAL BROTHERS: Neil Bush has been over in Saudi Arabia.
"Win American hearts through sustained lobbying: Neil Bush"
Translation: give me money.
"JEDDAH, 22 January — Neil Bush, brother of US President George Bush, said here yesterday that the distorted image of the Arab world could be removed through the sustained lobbying of US politicians."
Translation: give me money.
"The US media campaign against the interests of Arabs and Muslims and the American public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be influenced through a sustained lobbying and PR effort."
Translation: well, you don't need it again.
[...] "[Bush] began his speech on 'The corporate challenges of human resources in a complex global environment.'"
Translation: how's that for a title for a meaningless speech so you Can Give Me Money?
"In the speech, he called for the root causes of terror to be explored."
Yes, that was certainly the first thing to leap to, eh? Gosh, and who knew Neil Bush was such a gooey lefty?
"There could be economic disparities, social unrest or unemployment causing growing dissatisfaction in the region. But I have been told that the bigger issue is the resolving of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Good to have his expert opinion.
"There was only lip service for ending the conflict, but since Sept. 11 there has been a difference. There seems to be a sense of urgency. The difference is public opinion has shifted."
Well, good thing September 11th, happened, then, eh? Now there is no longer lip service, but a sense of urgency. Who knows how much more things might improve with a few more weapons of mass destruction hitting the US, eh? People might realize the US should just dump Israel entirely, and the problem will be solved, urgency and all. And then the Middle East will be filled with naught but joy and happiness, richness and goodness. And never again will there be terrorism. The end.

And Snow White lived with the Prince happily ever after.

1/27/2002 06:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WIL WHEATON EXPLAINS who would win in a fight between Anakin Skywalker and Wesley Crusher.

1/27/2002 02:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET are one result of Taliban rule.
"One student, Muhammad Salim, 25, was overjoyed when he found his skeleton amid the debris in a large room. 'My grandma!' Mr. Salim exclaimed in English, as he picked up a large plastic bag in which a skull, femur and other bones rattled against one another."

1/27/2002 02:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"Rotating nozzles are fixed to the ceilings, designed to spray soap and water in a circular motion like an indoor carwash. After the rinse cycle, hot air blows everything dry.

The floors are slanted imperceptibly toward corner drains. In the living room, where the sprinklers are not at the moment operating, paintings are coated in plastic. [...] Ms. Gabe's patent for Self-Cleaning Building Construction, which hangs on the living room wall, shrouded in plastic wrap, contains 68 separate components. Among them is the Gabe Waterless Self-Cleaning Toilet and the Gabe Self-Cleaning Book Jacket. The most intriguing notion may be the Gabe Washer-Dryer Closet, which washes and dries clothes while they are still on hangers."

I wonder if she read Heinlein's Door Into Summer?

1/27/2002 01:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLACK HAWK DOWN had an utterly unoffficial premiere in Mogadishu.

1/27/2002 01:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NON-DAVOS: Interesting little bit buried in this story about the current World Economic Forum meeting:
"Saudi Arabia plans to send a delegation of some 50 princes, high-ranking officials and other dignitaries to undertake a charm offensive in the wake of the terrorist attacks, said Hassan Yassin, a Saudi businessman and former head of the Saudi Information Office in Washington. [...] After the forum, the Saudis plan to fan out across the country in an effort to mend fences and repair their country's tattered image here. 'Unfortunately, there were Saudi citizens among those who attacked America,' Mr. Yassin said. 'We want to show we are not all siblings of those terrorists.'"
Among those?

1/27/2002 01:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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60 Firefighters Who Died on Sept. 11 Were Off Duty. On Tuesday, 305 probationary New York firefighters were sworn in. The city lost 343 firefighters Sept. 11.

1/27/2002 01:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANIME is the subject of a long Times piece last week. "Anime, Japanese Cinema's Second Golden Age." Key fact: about 60% of Japanese film production is now anime.

1/27/2002 01:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOOK, A NIETZSCHE REFERENCE: The grey lady has a rave for Smallville. Me, I've still not seen enough of the show (one episode) to have an opinion, yet.

1/27/2002 08:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOGLEWHACKING: it's not just a job, it's an adventure.

Okay, it's not a job, either. Well, not yet. Perhaps another candidate for Olympic sport?

1/27/2002 06:45:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THERE JUST CAN'T BE ENOUGH STORIES about buzkashi, don't you think? But I'd not read before the rules of Qarajai and tudabarai. You probably have, though.
"...the team from Parwan discovered an interloper, an extra rider who had sneaked onto the field to aid the losing Kabul side. In an instant, the Parwan team set upon him, lashing and pummeling the man as he spurred his horse desperately to get away.

The would-be savior's soldiers leaped from the bleachers and began running to the aid of their commander, their AK-47s at the ready. Spectators dropped to the ground, taking cover."

Yes, sports are back in Afghanistan! It's not just amputations, stonings, and beheadings any more!

I'm no sports person, but I seriously think we need a major movement to make buzkashi an Olympic event; don't you?

1/27/2002 06:30:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KING HEROD DIED OF GANGRENE, DOCTOR SAYS in the latest newsflash hot off the wires. Actually, it's worse than that headline.
"Before his death in 4 BC, Herod suffered intense itching, painful intestinal problems, breathlessness, fever, swelling in the feet, convulsions and, finally, genital gangrene."
That's, like, the worst place to have it, don't you think?

But the annual Historical Clinicopathological Conference is always fun, and especially for an event with such a humdinger of a name.

"At the conference, doctors apply their diagnostic skills to historical figures whose deaths have not been satisfactorily explained. Previous conferences concluded rabies killed Edgar Allan Poe and that the Roman emperor Claudius died after eating poisonous mushrooms."
In another two hundred years, Vince Foster!

1/27/2002 06:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MARION PRITCHARD (van Binsbergen) made a difference. Thank you.
"Eventually the conversation turns to Grandma, and the Nazi she gunned down."

1/27/2002 06:05:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GO CLIMB A TREE, and find a cause, and a living, and a position to get people to listen to your opinions. Clearly this works better than merely starting a blog. I'm off to find a tree momentarily. I anticipate Gillian Anderson in my audience shortly thereafter, but I won't make her pay a penny over $250!

1/27/2002 05:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW FASHIONABLE: Chelsea Clinton is growing up.

1/27/2002 05:24:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DID YOU KNOW THAT in Canada, five companies control most major newspapers and television stations?

1/27/2002 03:45:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OKAY, NOW DOESN'T JUST THIS HEADLINE make you laugh?: Woes Keep Piling Up for Condit Campaign.

Here's his Democratic support:

"Time to move on," Mr. Coelho said. "Time for a change," Ms. Feinstein said. "Time for a fresh start," Ms. Boxer said.

1/27/2002 03:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JAPANESE EXPECT CULTURE CLASH with British "hooligans" when the World Cup commences in Tokyo.
"The Japanese got a professional soccer league only six years ago. While spontaneous singing and chanting may be typical throughout matches in England, fans here offer up their enthusiasm in carefully controlled chants delivered in unison and led by a cheerleader. Rather than the chorused profanities one might hear in England, Japanese fans repeat such simple phrases as 'Japan, Japan, Japan' to the rhythm of a large bass drum. The opposing teams' cheerleaders bow to each other after the match."
What, that's not how it's done in Britain?

1/27/2002 03:30:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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POVERTY OF DIGNITY is what Tom Friedman suggests catalyzed the September 11th hijackers, and their ilk: encountering Europe and
"a whole different set of social rules that shakes their core."

1/27/2002 03:01:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PAUL KENNEDY has a take on WHAT WENT WRONG?; Western Impact and Middle Eastern Bernard Lewis. Illustrated. 180 pp. New York: Oxford University Press. $23, calling it
"what may be [Lewis's] most significant work for a contemporary audience."
Keen minds deduce that he likes it.

1/27/2002 02:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HILLARY'S BIG ADVENTURE: Long profile of what Senator Clinton is up to these days. Since it doesn't castigate her, it will of course infuriate the Hillary-haters.

1/27/2002 01:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?: Beginning of a long Dan Balz/Bob Woodward series on a minute by minute account of "10 Days in September: Inside the War Cabinet." Interestingly, it has another account of the story that there had been a threat against AF 1 using the code name "Angel," a claim later reportedly debunked; the new spin:
"The threat to the plane turned out to be false. Someone inside the White House had heard a threat to Air Force One, perhaps in a phoned-in call, and passed it up the line using the code word 'Angel.' Others thought the threatening caller had used the code word. It took days for the incident to be sorted out and weeks before the White House publicly acknowledged it."
It also quotes Bush as telling Cheney, during the Barksdale stopover that
"Government is not chaotic. It's functioning smoothly."
which the facts of the story completely belies, of course.

1/27/2002 01:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THOSE WACKY SAUDIS: Quite significant interview with the head of Saudi Arabian intelligence, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, by Elaine Sciolino. Although the piece is full of the usual staggering quotes about how
"I'm telling the Americans: You can accuse Arafat of anything except that he is not a man of peace,"
here's the real kicker:
"A classified American intelligence report taken from a Saudi intelligence survey in mid-October of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 concluded that 95 percent of them supported Mr. bin Laden's cause...."
The prince acknowedged this during the interview:
"He attributed the support to what he called feelings of the people against the United States, largely, he said, because of its unflinching support of Israel against the Palestinians. [...] On the Saudi side, Saudis said in interviews that they expected support from the United States and instead felt that they had been isolated and branded as terrorists."
Maybe it has something to do with that 95 percent level of support for bin Laden's "cause"?

1/27/2002 12:11:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, January 26, 2002
BOLLYWOO BOWL: Amusing, if sobering, take on Bollywood's current spate of patriotic action flicks, in which muscle-bulging action stars wielding grenade launchers staunchly defend the nation of India against the vile terrorist and Pakistani villains, though still pausing for some major singing and dancing interludes, with a bit of a love story worked in.

1/26/2002 11:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, January 25, 2002
BALROG THINGS: I pay attention to the Balrog fluffy bedroom slippers, myself.

1/25/2002 06:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE NY TIMES STRUGGLED with marmite. Heaven forfend they discover vegemite.

1/25/2002 02:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, January 24, 2002
DISTURBING SEARCH HITS: I, too, am fascinated by some of the search requests I get.

1/24/2002 05:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AT LEAST THEY'RE NOT RED-EYED: Don't have kittens.

1/24/2002 05:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOTR: THE NOVELIZATION. (Don't tell Jo Walton.) (Via Mitch Wagner, who has yet to link to me, sniffle.)

1/24/2002 05:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M THINKING OF taking up witchcraft, myself, so long as these loons keep coming from the voodvork out.

1/24/2002 03:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHO DID CHENEY MEET WITH?: Remember, John Dingell will let you grope him, strip-searched, in an airport. So Cheney should be willing to disclose at least as much.

1/24/2002 03:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOT A FAVORITE battlebot?
"If you've never taken a hammer to a hair dryer or a radio — or better yet, an old computer — I highly recommend it."
Want to find out more? Or just about robot sumo?

1/24/2002 03:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, January 23, 2002
I MISS BILL ROTSLER and I'd not read what Robert Lichtman had said, before. I started to list all the many things I missed about Bill Rotsler, and than I stopped.

I just miss him.

1/23/2002 06:03:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SLAP ME, because this sounds like a good question I should look into:
"Why, they ask, is there so little outcry about political repression in overwhelmingly black countries like Swaziland?"
Of course, there's scarcely an overlook of political repression in "black" countries of Africa -- that's not my point at all, regardless of the point of this piece -- my point is that I need to go look at Swaziland, since I've not read squat about it in Eru knows how long.

1/23/2002 02:38:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE JOKING AT PLOKTA? Are you hot for hobbits? Eru, someone is. Oh, Iluvatar!

1/23/2002 02:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THAT'S INCORRECT?: The NY Times would like to correct that.
"An article about the Central Asian lands whose names end in "stan" referred incorrectly to Kafiristan. It is the former name of a region of northeastern Afghanistan, not an imaginary place invented by Rudyard Kipling. — May 28, 1995

Because of a transcription error, a dispatch from Tel Aviv on negotiations for a new Israeli government referred incorrectly to Yosef Burg, leader of the National Religious Party. It should have described him as a veteran (not Bedouin) in Israeli politics. — Sept. 13, 1984


A caption in Business Day with an article about the National Bank of Kuwait mistranslated the Arabic script of the bank symbol. It says, "National Bank of Kuwait" [not "There is no god but Allah]. — Sept. 13, 1990

A map about new findings on the authenticity of the Vinland Map, said to be the earliest map showing any part of the Americas, misidentified the ocean off the coast of Newfoundland. It is the Atlantic, not the Pacific. — Feb. 15, 1996

An article about the Dominican Republic referred incorrectly to the legendary creatures called ciguapas. They are beautiful women — not men — who lure men into their homes at the bottom of mountain rivers. — May 18, 1997

An article about Governor Pete Wilson's role in eliminating affirmative-action programs at University of California campuses rendered a word incorrectly in a quotation from Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a former legislative aide. Ms. Jeffe said of Mr. Wilson: "He's been biding his time on this, knowing all along what he was going to do when the time was ripe. It's ripe. He's picked." She did not say, "He's pickled." — July 24, 1995

An article about President Clinton's State of the Union Message rendered a word incorrectly in a quotation from the president. He advocated making government "leaner, not meaner"; he did not say "and" meaner. — Jan. 26, 1995

An article about decorative cooking incorrectly described a presentation of Muscovy duck by Michel Fitoussi, a New York chef. In preparing it, Mr. Fitoussi uses a duck that has been killed. — April 25, 1981


A theater review about the Roundabout Theater Company's production of Shakespeare's "Tempest" misinterpreted a gesture. The actors' intent was to portray 18th-century gentlemen taking snuff, not cocaine. — Dec. 9, 1989

A report in the "Sunday" pages included erroneous data from the Farmer's Almanac about occurrences of full moons. The last month with no full moon was February 1980, not February 1866. The next month without a full moon will be February 1999, not some month 2.5 million years from now. — Feb. 25, 1996


In yesterday's issue, The New York Times did not report on riots in Milan and the subsequent murder of the lay religious reformer Erlembald. These events took place in 1075, the year given in the dateline under the nameplate on Page 1. The Times regrets both incidents. — March 11, 1975

And well they should. And so on.

1/23/2002 01:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 22, 2002
AOL SUES MICROSOMEBODY: It's a Netscape thing.
"AOL, which bought Netscape in 1999, wants Microsoft to cease its contested business practices and pay damages."
It's deja vu all over again.

1/22/2002 04:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OCCIDENTALISM by Avishai Margalit and Ian Buruma stands Edward Said on his head, and is a must-read for understanding hatred of the West.
"But what was 'the West' which had to be purged? What needed to be 'overcome'? The question has gained currency, since the chief characteristics of this Western enemy would have sounded familiar to Osama bin Laden, and other Islamic extremists. They are, not in any particular order, materialism, liberalism, capitalism, individualism, humanism, rationalism, socialism, decadence, and moral laxity.These ills would be overcome by a show of Japanese force, not just military force, but force of will, of spirit, of soul. The key characteristics of the Japanese or 'Asian' spirit were self-sacrifice, discipline, austerity, individual submission to the collective good, worship of divine leadership, and a deep faith in the superiority of instinct over reason. [...] The Japanese spirit was 'pure' and 'unclouded,' whereas the influence of Western culture led to mental confusion and spiritual corruption. [...] Similar language—though without the neo-Shintoist associations—was used by German National Socialists and other European fascists. They, too, fought against that list of 'soulless' characteristics commonly associated with liberal societies. [...] Japanese propaganda focused on the 'Anglo-American beasts,' represented in cartoons of Roosevelt and Churchill wearing plutocratic top hats. To the Nazis 'the eternal Jew' represented everything that was hateful about liberalism.'


"War against the West is partly a war against a particular concept of citizenship and community. Decades before the coming of Hitler, the spiritual godfather of Nazism, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, described France, Britain, and America as hopelessly 'Jewified' countries. Citizenship in these places had degenerated into a 'purely political concept.' In England, he said, 'every Basuto nigger' could get a passport. Later he complained that the country had 'fallen utterly into the hands of Jews and Americans.'"


[quoting Oswald Spengler] "As he put it: 'Jazz music and nigger dances are the death march of a great civilization.'"

[Aside to old sf fans: shades of Ed Wood's characterization of Boyd Raeburn and the effects of fannishness on the purity of sf in sf fanzines in the 1950's.]
"Occidentalism, which played such a large part in the attacks of September 11, is a cluster of images and ideas of the West in the minds of its haters. Four features of Occidentalism can be seen in most versions of it; we can call them the City, the Bourgeois, Reason, and Feminism. Each contains a set of attributes, such as arrogance, feebleness, greed, depravity, and decadence, which are invoked as typically Western, or even American, characteristics."
Read the article to find out what they are. Great piece.

1/22/2002 03:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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1/22/2002 03:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LET ME staple that for you.

1/22/2002 02:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BACK TO SPOOKS: The NYRB also reposts a link to Lars-Erik Nelson's excellent must-read piece from 1999, which also quotes former CIA Director Stansfield Turner:
"the CIA had become too accustomed to living and working in comfortable cities abroad; not enough of its people were out in the remote areas."
Again, the essential point is hit that Agency people working under official cover in the Embassy, most often not speaking the local language, are almost useless for evaluating the local culture and politics, and aren't terribly useful at turning official sources, either. More non-official-cover (NOC) employees are one way to go, short of, er, knocking down the whole Company and restarting from scratch.

Then there's the current piece by Thomas Powers, "The Trouble With The CIA," which is primarly about the response to September 11th. Powers quotes Howard Hart, a retired CIA officer who ran operations against the Soviets in the Afghan war, in his take in an privately circulated eight-page paper. Hart believes what I thought was perfectly obvious to anyone who has read bin Laden's fatwas, which is that he desires to see a single Islamic caliphate sweep into power in currently Islamic countries, and then move to rule the rest of the world. Quoting Powers quoting Hart:

"In Hart's view the furious American response to the September 11 attacks was part of bin Laden's plan; he and his al-Qaeda companions expected that the US reaction would drive angry Muslims into the streets. Violent measures to suppress them would escalate a growing crisis
'until police and security forces will no longer be willing to fire on their own people, and the targeted governments will collapse. In short, a repeat of events in Iran in 1978– 79. Skeptics should remember that in January 1978 no one in Iran— the Shah, his military, foreign observers, even Khomeini supporters —believed the regime could be toppled by 'Islamic extremists.' One year later the Shah's regime had been destroyed."'
Of Hart's time as an officer in Iran, during the Shah's regime:
"Some of Hart's reports in the spring of 1978 were so pessimistic that the CIA's chief of station refused to send them on to Washington, where he knew they would arouse fury in the White House."
Can you say Sam Adams?

Powers thinks Tenet should go, and a top-level investigation should be made into the failure of CIA to prevent September 11th, just as was done after the failure of CIA to predict the degree of support Castro had in Cuba at the time of the Bay of Pigs fiasco.

1/22/2002 02:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"SOMETHING MASSIVE AND SPHINX-LIKE AND YET ALSO A HINT OF WINGS"; that's how one listener described her sense of John Maynard Keynes. Various reviews are out on JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES: Volume Three: Fighting for Freedom, 1937-1946 by Robert Skidelsky. Illustrated. 580 pp. New York: Viking. $34.95. The NY Times Book Review piece by Sylvia Nassar, author of A Beautiful Mind, mentions that
"as Britain geared up for war, Keynes identified the problem as too much, rather than too little, demand. His prescription? Fiscal restraint. When an American disciple expressed shock, Keynes shot back, 'You are more Keynesian than I am.'" [and that despite] "those who think of Keynes as the patron saint of big government. Keynes's 'How to Pay for the War' was a blueprint specifically designed to preserve personal freedom and prevent Britain from being turned into a centrally planned 'slave' state. Shown a rationing plan, he said sarcastically, 'The policy of fixed prices plus having nothing in the shops to buy -- an expedient pursued for many years by the Russian authorities -- is undoubtedly one of the very best ways of preventing inflation!' Though some of his ideas were adopted, his proposal to rely on compulsory savings (to be paid back after the war), in lieu of confiscatory taxes, price controls and rationing, was ultimately defeated by the Labor Party, which saw wartime controls as the first, desirable step toward socialism after the war."
Expressing the quentessential British attitude toward America:
"The Eton-educated Keynes liked to think of his countrymen as Greeks living in an American 'new Roman empire...'"
At The New Yorker, Louis Menand also gives lots to crunch.

Menand also, incidentally, writes, over at The New York Review of Books, about reading an obscurity called Lord of the Rings at the age of eleven, in 1963. Hey, he says only someone "as mulishly perverse as Edmund Wilson" could refer to LOTR as "balderdash," which amused me. Obvious take on the normatizing of fantasy imagery in the modern generation: of a fourteen-year-old companion he saw the film with

"...what I had read as a kind of historical novel, he had read as a fantasy adventure [...] his visual imagination was shaped by a completely different stock of stylistic referents, from Xena, Warrior Princess to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and most of all from the virtual reality of computerized games [...] they are images that were unimaginable to a kid in 1963, for whom Rocky and Bullwinkle represented the cutting edge of visual culture [...] so I remember it as an eleven-year-old's Proust [...] for kids pushing fifty, there is a lesson about the evolution of the mind's eye over the last thirty-five years that may be a little painful. It's not Proust anymore."

1/22/2002 01:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOING ORBITAL?: Use Tonga Spaceport!

1/22/2002 12:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMAZON.MAKES.MONEY.NOT.SO.FAST!: They finally made a profit. Allegedly.
"It took the company $1.2 billion in revenue to achieve a profit...."
But you wouldn't be able to do that, eh?

1/22/2002 12:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOURSITESUCKS.COM: Think a company sucks? Rejoice in free speech, my friend!
"‘Sucks’ sites to be doled out for free; free speech lawyer creates service to encourage criticism."
Give thanks to the Free Speech Center. They don't suck.

1/22/2002 11:55:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PLEASE STOP; my d-brane hurts now. And I'll believe in gravastars when they're published about in a real journal.

1/22/2002 12:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, January 21, 2002
WATCH THE SKIES!: Look at that.

1/21/2002 06:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NOT VERY?: How smart does a lawmaker really need to be?
"[Rep. Michael Simpson (R-Idaho)] contends that any legislative body must reflect the American people. 'The last thing I’d want is a Congress where everyone had an IQ of — what is a high IQ? — of 180. There are some people who are smart and have a tough time speaking. There are other people who are dumb as a brick and have a tough time speaking.'"
Ah, the old defense of G. Harrold Carswell, whom Nixon attempted to appoint to the Supremes; cue Senator Roman Hruska (R-Nebraska):
"Even if he is mediocre,there are a lot of mediocre judges and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance? We can't have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters, and stuff like that there.'"
Yes, there is certainly a point buried in there. Deep down, even though it's a shallow point.

Demonstrating that Simpson is on the brick side of the equation, here's a bit from his web page biography, that he's Really Proud Of:

"After the Columbine tragedy, Simpson created a program entitled, "Saving Our Schools." He held town hall meetings throughout the Second Congressional District to talk with area students, educators and parents about school violence. He also visited more than 20 high schools, holding assemblies about local solutions and encouraging students to sign an anti-violence pledge. The pledge will be submitted the to Congressional Record to show Idaho students take a stand against violence."
Well. I'm sure that's taken care of the problem, then.

1/21/2002 05:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMYGDALA HELPS OUT: Avedon Carol at The Sideshow says "It will be interesting to see what they manage to replace these ghastly people with," speaking of retiring Senators Gramm, Helms, and Thurmond. (No, she doesn't believe in permanent links; take it up with her, not me.) We here at the Amygdala editorial staff are eager to please, so we will suggest that last we looked, in Texas, the Democratic fight loomed between Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, and Representative Ken Bentsen.

On the Republican side, Attorney General John Cornyn will be the nominee. If the name "Bentsen" sounds familiar, and it should, know that Ken is a nephew of ex-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. Kirk will delay a formal announcement, because he has to step down as Mayor when he does. Given that Republicans hold every major office in Texas at present, I'm not as optimistic as I'd like to be that this seat will switch parties, especially after an intra-mural Democratic mud fight.

On the other paw, Rep. Henry Bonilla had been expected by the GOP to run, and declined, preferring to keep his safe seat, and Rep. Joe Barton, who had $900,000 on hand and had formed an exploratory committee, did the same. So maybe they know something I don't know.

In North Carolina, signs at present point to Senator Elizabeth Dole, which strikes me as no less creepy than various right-wing folk find Senator Clinton.

In South Carolina, Senator Strom Thurmond might very well be replaced by Strom Thurmond. But more likely it will be Rep. Lindsey Graham. Sigh.

Since our crack investigative staff at Amygdala haven't looked into these situations lately, our management has directed us to keep an eye out for updates, on behalf of The Sideshow.

We still think it doesn't look good for Paul Krugman to have taken $50k to do nothing, and to then write a glowing article about Enron, though; and we here like Krugman. "I'm just another brick in the wall" is, well, lame. Groovy, though.

1/21/2002 03:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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