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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.

Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.

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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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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, Newshoggers.com

"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.
-- oakhaus.com

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

Favorite....
-- 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 FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

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


Archives:
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
AlterNet
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
bjkeefe
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Chuckling
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
elementropy
Eschaton
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
Hullabaloo
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
Afro-Netizen
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Attackerman
Attempts
Balkinization
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Cato-at-liberty
Cogitamus
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Eschaton
Ezra Klein
Feministe
Glenn Greenwald
Governing.com: 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Hullabaloo
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
Mightygodking
Newshoggers
Orcinus
Pam's House Blend
Pandagon
Paul Krugman
Pharyngula
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Shakesville
slacktivist
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
TPMCafe
U.S. Intellectual History
Unfogged
Unqualified Offerings
VetVoice
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
Pandagon
Pharyngula
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Snarkmarket
TAPped
TBogg
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
alicublog
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fact-esque
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
jensscholz.com
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
sideshow
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
balkinization
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
Fact-esque
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
governmentality
hullabaloo
Lifehacker
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
Macadamia
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Epicycle
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Demosthenes
Rittenhouse Review
Maxspeak
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
MadKane
Nathan Newman
Whiskeyfire
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Corrente
Rising Hegemon
NTodd
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Hullabaloo
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
Frameshop
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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.










Amygdala
 
Tuesday, February 26, 2002
 
CAN I BE THE MATT WELCH OF IRAN?: This piece by Michael Lewis is great. Must-read. NITV, National Iranian Television, is being run for nickels and dimes in LA, by a former Iranian rock star, and beamed around the world by satellite, including into Iran.
Buried in the hundreds of thousands of Iranians living in Los Angeles there was a neglected trove of aging Persian entertainers unwelcome in their home country. The Dan Rather of Iran now lived in Encino. The Frank Sinatra of Iran lived in Sherman Oaks.

[...]

It was during Meybodi's show in September 2000 that this story really begins. As always, calls were coming in from across the United States and Western Europe. And then a call came that didn't sound like the others; it clicked weirdly, like an Iranian phone line. The caller said he was in Isfahan, a city in central Iran, and that he was picking up NITV's satellite signal. Meybodi didn't believe him.

''Who am I?'' Meybodi asked.

''I don't know,'' said the caller. ''But I see you on my TV.''

Meybodi still didn't believe him; nobody did. He asked for the caller's phone number and said he would call him back. Still on the air, Meybodi phoned Isfahan, and sure enough the caller picked up. But Meybodi still didn't believe his story.

Meybodi held up an apple on TV.

''What am I holding?'' he asked the caller. Atabay and a few others drifted into the studio.

''An apple,'' the caller said. Now everyone who worked at NITV was in the studio. They were all Iranians; most of them were middle-aged men; most of them had not been home in more than 20 years; most of them assumed that they would never go home. They were not just physically but also imaginatively cut off from their pasts.

Meybodi picked up a pen. ''What am I holding now?'' he asked.

''A pen,'' the caller said.

''When he said it was a pen,'' Atabay says, ''that's when we began to weep.'' Men with faces that looked as if they had been carved from stone broke down and cried, oblivious of the fact that they were on live television.

All of a sudden -- just like that -- there was a new connection between Iranians in exile and the home country. The effect was electric, but unsettling, as if someone had plugged a 120-volt appliance into a 240-volt socket. Atabay says it took six hours before the whole of Iran knew there was something new on TV and another six before they all tried to send him faxes. ''These people wrote to say that everybody start like crazy to buy satellite dishes,'' Atabay recalls. ''They sell their carpets. They sell cars. We had one story from someone who sold a kidney.''

[...]

Atabay is also irritable. He is the only man I have ever seen suck on a sugar cube with an expression suggesting that the sugar cube has wronged him.

Go read the rest of this, and learn about the battle of the jamming, of the Mel Brooks of Iran, and how Lewis suddenly risked being the Salman Rushdie of Iran on the Saturday Night Live of Iran. Lovely, funny, well-written, informative piece of journalism.

2/26/2002 11:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IMMANUEL KANT WAS A REAL PISSANT: The Philosophy Selector, since you asked, Patrick, tells me:
1. Mill (100%)
2. Epicureans (92%)
3. Kant (91%)
4. Bentham (85%)
5. Aquinas (82%)
6. Aristotle (77%)
7. Sartre (73%)
8. Rand (59%)
9. Hobbes (50%)
I am very disturbed at the the Rand rating, and a bit dubious about the Sartre. I may need to take the test again, worry, worry.

2/26/2002 09:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE ICE MAN: Once again, my old acquaintance from science fiction fandom days, Doug Hoylman, gets mentioned as one of the four top crossword puzzle champions of the world. (This link will go to another story on March 4th and thereafter.) Good story on puzzlers.

2/26/2002 07:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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WEST WINGS: I am shocked, shocked to discover that Aaron Sorkin isn't impressed with George W. Bush's intellect. However,
We're a completely fictional, nonpolitical show....
made me blink. Mind, I adore The West Wing, from the liberals to Ainsley Hayes (whom has not been seen enough of lately; bring back Ainsley!). But: it's not political? That is some alternative universe.

2/26/2002 07:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JOHN DVORAK DOESN'T GET IT: Yeah.
Try to find a blog that is ever critical of another blog. I've never seen it.
Often, commentary is redundant.

2/26/2002 06:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NO WHINING ABOUT WINING: This has gotten some attention:
...six investment bankers lapped up £44,000 ($62,700) in fine wines, and now they are suffering from a huge hangover.

Their employer, Barclays Capital, has fired all but one of the bankers since the dinner last July....

...after they tried to sneak much of their share of the bill onto their expense accounts. Dinner at Pétrus sounds lovely.
Gourmets willing to spend £50 for three courses can tuck into the cooking of Marcus Wareing, including sautéed medallion of stuffed confit pig trotter or roast breast of Anjou pigeon on a parsnip galette.
There's just no way he makes pig trotter as good as my mom makes pig trotter!
But the food was very much a sideshow to this particular dinner, which also included a third Château Pétrus, this one a 1946 vintage for £9,400. Then there was a 1984 Montrachet for £1,400, two bottles of Kronenbourg beer at £3.50 each, six glasses of Champagne for £9.50 each, one juice at £3, 10 bottles of water totaling £35, a pack of cigarettes for £5 and, to wash it all down, a bottle of 100-year-old Château d'Yquem dessert wine for £9,200.
Hey! Which doofus had the beer? Good thing the water is so cheap, though.
The proprietor was so impressed that he did not charge for the food, and the restaurant has kept the bill ever since as a sort of memento.
Since they also had 1947 Château Pétrus for £12,300 ($17,500), and 1945 vintage from the same vineyard for £11,600 ($16,500), to get to that grand total of £44,000 ($62,700), I think letting go of that food charge was a good idea to encourage return business. Johnny Apple helpfully offers some advice here.

2/26/2002 06:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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VOTE FOR THE ORC: Fair piece of analysis of where Joe Lieberman stands vis a vis Gore and other candidates for the Democratic nomination. Yes, now that we're only two and a half years out, the race for the Presidency is heating up.
But more than any other potential 2004 candidate--even Gore--Lieberman has embraced the policy themes associated with Clinton and the DLC's "New Democrat" movement; he's even named his political group ROCPAC after the Clintonian trilogy of "responsibility, opportunity and community." (Actually, Clinton more often ordered the three as opportunity, responsibility and community, but that would have left Lieberman with ORCPAC, which sounds like something from "The Lord of The Rings.")
He writes as if that were a bad thing.

2/26/2002 06:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOUSEKEEPING: If you tried the "Donate" button in the upper left, and it didn't work, as was temporarily the case, be notified that it has been fixed.

2/26/2002 05:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FUTURAMA CANCELED: If you feel optimistic, and want to campaign to bring it back, go here.

2/26/2002 02:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SCANNERS LIVE IN VAIN: The Human Meme Virus Scanner (Via Sore Eyes.)

2/26/2002 02:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SYMBIONESE LUNATIC ARMY: Typically superb Tod Gitlin piece on the upcoming trial, and a retrospective.
But it's a safe bet that many will mislabel the case and tell us that a generation of activists is going on trial.

A few on the left will agree with some on the right that the prosecution of the SLA "soldiers" for the murder of Myrna Opsahl, who was counting church dues in the Crocker National Bank, is really a prosecution of the left as a whole. These sentimentalists will halfheartedly acknowledge that the SLA's tactics were extreme, but contend that its members' hearts were more or less in the right place, that they thus deserve the sympathy of those who peopled the radical movements of the 1960s and '70s. This quarter-truth matches the right's attempt to turn the SLA into poster monsters for left-wing politics of every stripe. But tenderness must be tempered by recognition of the sheer senselessness--and worse--of the SLA, whose obscurantism ("Symbionese"), vagueness ("liberation") and chutzpah ("army") were of a piece with the vileness of their tactics.

[...]

Accordingly, the SLA members were stupefyingly incoherent. With no detectable grasp of political ideas, they spoke in self-parodying claptrap ("Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people"). This is the way people talk when they have no real following or any serious intention of organizing one.

It was only the SLA's actions that made its words worthy of notice. Its soldiers embraced a lunatic theory: They could make their actions mean whatever they said by simply declaring they had big ideas and daring anyone to disagree with them. Not for them the moral requirement of making a reasonable case that their means might conceivably lead to desirable ends.

[...] In its farcical, nightmarish way, the SLA helped inter the dreams of a decade. Whatever our political persuasion, it is worth remembering for two reasons: to remind us that murder, however adorned, is murder, and to remind us that whoever professes politics is also required to make sense.

Preach it, brother Todd. You, Amygdala reader, go read the whole thing.

2/26/2002 01:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DEEPER TRUTHS AND IMAGINARY SATISFACTIONS: Perceptive review of Blake Eskin's A LIFE IN PIECES: The Making and Unmaking of Binjamin Wilkomirski.

"Wilkomirski's" memoir of being a childhood Holocaust survivor won him awards, sales, and plaudits when it was published in 1997, and even after he was revealed to be a brilliant fantasist.

But A Life in Pieces is much more than expose. It is a telling account of our culture's love affair with the victim. Even after his story started to unravel, there were psychologists, survivor-group leaders, Holocaust museum curators who not only stood by ''Binjamin Wilkomirski'' but were willing to suggest that to question his veracity was somehow to attack the memory of the Holocaust itself. Or that it was to attack the memories of all survivors. There came a point where extensive documentary evidence showed that the book was a fake; on the other side there was only the author's claim that the evidence itself must be fake -- the result of a vast conspiracy to deny him his Jewish identity. The claim was made solely on the basis of his purported recovered memories. So-called experts rushed to his defense. A therapist who publishes on the subject said that to question his authenticity was to put him through a ''second Holocaust.'' A member of a religious studies department suggested that to question his memory was ''to commit another murder.''

Astonishingly, the museum archivist who videotaped an interview with him later said, ''I'd rather his story not be discredited'': ''Even if his story is a total construction, he says something about the perception of children that I don't know that anyone else has said. How does a child take in language they didn't understand? I don't remember anyone writing about it so constructively. It's given me another insight into the Holocaust.''

No it hasn't. At most it gives a fantasy of insight, a fantasy that the archivist enjoyed so much that she left it in the museum for others to enjoy. And there are psychologists who will continue to insist that Fragments is clinically important even if the specific facts are not accurate -- as though it reveals a deeper truth about child survivors. Here laid bare are ''experts'' in the grips of their own fantasies.

Fragments is revealing, but not about the Holocaust. [...] What A Life in Pieces shows in bold relief is how the culture was ready to fall in love with this myth. The person called Binjamin ignored the facts, but then so did almost everybody else.

[...]

powerful longings are easily, if temporarily, drawn into imaginary satisfactions.

The episode of "Wilkomirski'' is a major cautionary tale, and 'twere best we strive to learn from it, though next time, of course, history may repeat as comedy.

2/26/2002 12:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IF YOU'RE A NEW VISITOR, perhaps from Instapundit, or DailyPundit, or Little Green Footballs, or Off The Kuff, or USS Clueless, or BlogWatch II, or Newsrack, or Midwest Conservative Journal or wherever (see links list to left), and you enjoy a reasonable amount of what you read, remember, if you don't donate (button in upper left corner), the terrorists will have won. Help Gary get up to having made a grand total of ten dollars.

And feel free to browse the brilliant archives. If Blogspot chooses to let them appear while you're here.

You'd pay $1-$5 for a 60,000 word good book, wouldn't you? And, besides, I'm an orphan, and a cripple, I have a terminal disease, and, yes, my hump has always been on the left side. It happened in the war. I'm a credit to my people. I have big sad eyes. Don't let the terrorists win!

Yes, it's true I scooped the world press. Seriously. Damnit.

If you donate generously, I'll let you in on this deal I have going in Nigeria. Break a record, and I'll see that you're made an official, complete with diplomatic passport, of the Dominion of Melchizedek! Now, has any other blogger told you about Melchizedek? I rest my case.


2/26/2002 01:38:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THERE'S NO QUESTION about anti-semitic crimes in France in today's New York Times, unlike Peter Beaumont and other folks writing to the Guardian/Observer.
ARGES-LÈS-GONESSE, France — Shalom Temim, who lives in this modern, soulless-looking suburb of Paris where the government has built row upon row of subsidized high-rises, knows that he is the only Jew in his housing block on the Rue Delorme.

So, he does not doubt that the graffiti spray-painted in his stairwell — "Vive Hezbollah" and "Dirty Jew" — are directed at him. Nor is it the only sign of the hostility that surrounds him in this predominately Arab neighborhood. Six months ago a rock came crashing through his living-room window, and after it a smoky firecracker.

On a recent morning, fresh spit was visible on his front door.

There's quite a bit of detail in this story, and no ambiguity. Please read it.
"People are scared."

The Jewish leaders see a political component in the lack of outcry over the new wave of violence against Jews. More than five million Muslims — many of them from Algeria or other former French colonies in north Africa — live in France today, but only 600,000 Jews.

"It is clear that the Muslim community is more taken into account," the chief rabbi of France, Joseph Sitruk, said in a recent interview.

But some Muslim leaders suggest that the extent of the problem may be exaggerated, and they worry that too much publicity about it will only incite more trouble.

"I hear all this talk," said Said Kamli, the director of the mosque in Amiens, a town north of Paris with large Arab and Jewish populations. "But I do not feel this all around me.

Yes, typically members of a minority are more aware of how they are treated than others are, as you should know.
If there are really big numbers, then of course we must sound the bell of alarm. But my fear is that the problem will grow bigger if there is too much talk about it. The kids will start hearing that kids in another town are doing these things and they'll start doing it too."
Then perhaps you should teach them not to.

This is extraordinary reasoning. Was or is the answer to, say, white anti-black racism in America for the majority population to keep as quiet as possible about it, and not discuss it, for fear of inspiring children to be racist? Or was and is it to stand up and discuss racism and point the finger at it and label it and denounce it?

Are these kids not capable of being taught not to be anti-semitic? What a despicable point of view. I can only speculate on the reasoning behind this, but I feel that examining it would be precisely turning over a rock to see the squirming fetidness beneath.

[...] One government report says acts of violence against Jews have increased from one in 1998 to nine in 1999 to 116 in 2000, the most recent figure available. Other anti-Semitic incidents, ranging from threats to arson, went from 74 in 1998 and 60 in 1999 to 603 in 2000.

[...]

What seems indisputable is that news that a synagogue has been firebombed or that stones have been thrown at Jewish schools has become commonplace.

In Garges-lès-Gonesse the distinctive blue schoolbus that takes children to a Jewish school in nearby Aubervilliers has been attacked three times in the last 14 months, when there were dozens of young children aboard.

The first time, a knife was thrown through an open window, the bus driver said. The second time, three men used their car to block the bus from moving. Then one man smashed a window with a tire iron while another menaced the driver with a gun, telling him he was not in Tel Aviv. Recently rocks were hurled at the windows, smashing one of them.

"I keep trying to tell the kids it's nothing," said the bus driver, Saadoun Hanoufa. "But of course they are scared. No one wants to live like this."

Beaumont was right. No rising tide of anti-semitism in Europe "yet." And, besides, it's Muslims, and they're not real Europeans, you know -- a subtext I didn't emphasize in my previous response to him, and I damn well should have.

Besides, attacking children on buses is just legitimate criticism of Israeli policy. And I'm only saying this, of course, to deflect criticism of Ariel Sharon. Because, I now reveal, the funder who took away my Blogspot ad was Mossad!


2/26/2002 01:03:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, February 25, 2002
 
THE RIGHT TO BE AN ASSHOLE: it's at the heart of the First Amendment, or at least in its lungs. This schlub has the right to be wrong, and Beatrice Hall and I wouldn't have it any other way. Excellent free speech piece by Steve Chapman.
"A function of free speech is to invite dispute," wrote Justice William O. Douglas then. "That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance or unrest."

2/25/2002 11:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I SWEAR, I CAN GIVE THEM UP ANY TIME:

I'm an...

Are you addicted to online tests?


2/25/2002 11:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BENNY MORRIS TURNS ROUND and speaks up. Benny Morris is, as the Guardian says:
the radical Israeli historian who forced his country to confront its role in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Later he was jailed for refusing to do military service in the West Bank. But now he has changed his tune.
Indeed, it's remarkable.

2/25/2002 11:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FONT OF ALL WISDOM:

Wowie! You are Redensek! You are techy yet cute, and pretty much all around cool. Everyone loves you! You're fun, popular, and can mold yourself to fit right in to any situation.

2/25/2002 10:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SHUT UP OR I'LL SHOOT YOU WITH MY PHASE PISTOL:
You're T'Pol. You are very analytical and logical, as any good Vulcan is, but this makes you stick out like a sore thumb. You're cold and calculated, but there's a softer side to you that you tend to keep under wraps.

Which Enterprise Character Are You?


2/25/2002 08:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT WAS THAT, AGAIN?: heh heh heh. (Via Boing Boing.)

2/25/2002 04:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'VE HAD CONVERSATIONS LIKE THIS: bot to bot chatter.

2/25/2002 04:29:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOLY STAR TREK IV: Germans have made transparent aluminum.

2/25/2002 03:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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US ARMY IN AFGHANISTAN to get Phraselators.
In early March, a hand-held language translator developed by a former Navy Seal will be issued to more than 500 American soldiers in Afghanistan. The device, called the Phraselator, is encased in rugged weatherproof rubber, powered by a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery (or four AA alkaline batteries) and can translate more than 1,000 spoken English phrases with the press of a button.

Designed by John Sarich, a 20-year armed forces veteran who served as a Navy Seal in the Vietnam War, the device can instantly translate phrases like "I am here to help you" and "show me your identification" into Pashto, Urdu, Arabic or Dari. Users can also choose from a text menu of common phrases. [...] Unlike some consumer translation devices, the Phraselator translates words very quickly. Fast enough, Mr. Sarich said, to blurt out, "Stop, or I'll shoot" in time for it to make a difference.

I wouldn't want to trust my life, or anyone else's, to that. They may, however, be less incendiary than this phrasebook.

2/25/2002 03:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THANKS go to hero of the revolution Kevin Maroney for having provided the exact solution to my stupid template screw-up, which I've deleted mention of, and to Steve Glover for having provided a suggestion that would have gotten to the same solution. (And someday I'll figure out how to get the Paypal and Extreme Counter buttons into some other column without screwing them up.)

2/25/2002 11:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ADAM CURRY INFORMS US:
Yesterday when reading the 'blah, blah, blah and blog' Wired article, something Evan said struck me right between the eyes; "[...] If you write everyday, your writing improves, your thinking improves."

Right on! The magic of blogging revealed at last.

Its brain-training.

And he continues in this vein for a multitude of paragraphs. Endlessly he tells us of the evils of tv, and the virtues of writing, and how blogging will teach you to write well.

And in each usage, he reveals that he has no clue when to put an apostrophe in "it's," and when not to. Amongst other bits of illiteracy.

Rather undermines his case, I'm afraid, when he shows he can't tell possessive from plural. He also consistently has no clue where to put a comma. He further seems to believe that ellipses are any random set of dots used in whatever fashion one is in the mood to use.

Weblogging is changing our view of the world. Mainly because we are now writing about our own views. Instead of watching the editied for tv version we are taking the time to collect, rearrange, codify and publish our own version of what we see. We are exercizing our brains, making them stronger, linking them with others who are also emerging from the hypnotic depths of mass-media.
Uh, yeah. Some of us actually have watched plenty of tv, and yet still know how to spell without using a spell-checker. Perhaps while he's exercizing, he should work on doing a better job of having editied his writing.

Here's a blog I don't plan to look at again until someone gives me a very good reason to.


2/25/2002 05:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Death of Reporter Puts Focus on Pakistan's Intelligence Unit. I hate to have turned out to have been right about this from day one.
Pakistani military and intelligence officials with knowledge of the events disclosed that a Pakistani intelligence officer played a key role in nurturing the Army of Muhammad after its formation in 2000 and also helped facilitate Mr. Sheikh's frequent travels between Afghanistan and Pakistan, his ancestral home.

That intelligence officer, Brigadier Abdullah, who uses one name, was among those who were pushed aside late last year as President Musharraf began his shake-up of the country's powerful and secretive spy service, known as Inter-Services Intelligence, or I.S.I.

[...]

The intelligence agency's past actions indicate that its interests — or, at a minimum, those of former agency officials — have often dovetailed with the interests of Mr. Pearl's kidnappers, as reflected in their original demands. New disclosures of links between Mr. Sheikh and two recently dismissed agency officials only intensify suspicions about the its role in this case.

For weeks there was no coverage of this whatsover in the press, except here at Amygdala.

2/25/2002 04:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLACK STUDIES: The estimable Steven den Beste wrote some stuff I agree with and some I disagree with, or question, in this post:
Maybe it's because I'm a cranky reactionary middle-aged white guy, but I've never understood just what it was that a "Black Studies" program actually did. I know I'm a grubby utilitarian, but I've always thought that going to college was supposed to prepare you for a career. I studied computer science and went into software engineering. Someone else studies chemistry and ends up working in the petrochemical industry. Even someone who studies Lit can get a job teaching somewhere. But if you walk out of a university with a degree in Black Studies, what are you supposed to do next? Evidently the answer is that you get a job teaching Black Studies at some other university, which would seem to make it the worst kind of make-work.
How does it differ from any Humanities degree? Is studying literature or history "the worst kind of make-work," as a rule? If not, why single out "black" literature and history? A good friend of mine is a professor of Jewish Studies. Also "the worst kind of make-work"?

This strikes me as foolish generalization. College is not vocational training. Studies of humanties and other academic subjects is utterly as valid as study of a subject that per se gives you credentials for a career in private industry.

Fields of literature and history such as "Black Studies" or "Jewish Studies" or "French Studies" or "Middle Eastern Studies" or "Southern Studies" are nothing more than, in theory, fields of specialization, such as almost all academics in literature or history, among other fields, engage in. Where I may not disagree with Steven den Beste is on questions of specific validity of specific endeavors or individuals, but these are not fields I possess credentials in, either.

Later, though, speaking of a specific controversy over a Trustee of the State University of New York, he writes:

That lack of "solid scholarship" is a pretty serious claim. Silly me, I assumed that the response to this would be to cite a long list of important scholarship they had accomplished so as to refute that charge. Huh-uh.
That would be an appropriate response, I agree.
[...] Indeed! As a private citizen, she has the right to criticize the Black Studies program; as a trustee I think she has an obligation to do so if she thinks it is not serving the needs of the students, not to mention the taxpayers of the State of New York, who are paying the bills.
And on that issue, as a generalization, I have no disagreement.

Just incidentally, den Beste refers to de Russy, the Trustee in question, with:

...she previously got in a brouhaha about a rather seedy conference about women's sexuality which was held at one SUNY campus.
I recall the kerfuffle. The Post story reminds us:
She and other critics described the conference, called "Revolting Behavior: The Challenges of Women's Sexual Freedom," as a how-to recruiting session for homosexuals, featuring simulated sex acts and sex toys.
Now, really, are college students going to be dismayed, shocked, or harmed by exposure to sex toys? I don't recall that student attendance was mandatory. And is someone who asserts that there is even such a thing as "how-to recruiting sessions(s) for homosexuals" a credible critic? Is that something worth worrying about?

de Russey said:

...black studies programs should be folded into a school's history department or some other department and not be allowed to continue as separate entities.
The story makes clear she was not taking issue with a specific professor, or specific issues of the specific department at a specific college (SUNY has more than thirty); she was going after all "black studies" programs, everywhere, as a generalization. This strikes me as not a genuine attempt at academic reform and concern, but as a political agenda, and I'd like to know if, say, she's also going to go after Jewish Studies, and Southern Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies, and other specific areas, besides "black studies."

2/25/2002 04:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BOB'S YOUR UNCLE!: Patrick had linked to this story, but I decided I'd be duplicative, since I love it. The link he had didn't work for me, though; try this (though we've both quoted nearly the entirety, so, actually, don't bother).
The legislature has decided to drop the search for a new name for the territory -- the second time it has chosen not to replace the current one. The plug was pulled on the first such effort in 1999 when a public opinion poll suggested that the most popular name was Northwest Territories and the second most popular was Bob.

2/25/2002 03:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THOMAS NEPHEW has long, thoughtful insights into why much of Europe, in particular Germany, is not on the same page as the US in fighting terrorism. The rest of his page is also well worth reading, of course, as it always is. Newsrack is a political blog I always try to keep caught up on.

2/25/2002 02:30:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, February 24, 2002
 
BERNARD LEWIS, who is deservedly so in now, I'm expecting posters of him for teens to put on their walls, anyday -- well, maybe not, but there should be (have I mentioned that my very very first job in publishing was at Teen Beat magazine, when I was fifteen?) -- did a long interview with C-Span, and the transcript is here.
Imagine that some such group as the Ku Klux Klan or the Aryan Nation or one of th--one of those were suddenly to come into the possession of unlimited wealth and use that money to set up schools and colleges all over the world, promoting their particular version of Christianity. Then you get an idea of what has happened to Islam as a result of the enormous wealth that oil has brought to some people in Saudi Arabia. It has enabled them to set up schools and colleges all over the Muslim world, teaching their brand of Islam, this kind of fanatical, extremist version of Islam which has thus acquired a--a scope, an expanse--an expansion which it could never otherwise have had. Without oil money, this kind of Islam would have remained a fringe group in a marginal country.

[...]

on the whole, I should say that oil has been a curse to the Arab world.

LAMB: Why?

Prof. LEWIS: Precisely this reason. You know, there's this old American dictum: no taxation without representation. What is sometimes overlooked is that the converse is also true: no representation without taxation. And with our revenues, they didn't need taxes; therefore, they didn't need assemblies to levy taxes. And they were made independent of public opinion in their own countries with this untold wealth accruing from oil revenues. This greatly strengthened the power of autocratic governments, far greater than it had ever been in the past.

[...]

the last sentence is, `We're either going to have to get tough or get out.'

Prof. LEWIS: Yes.

LAMB: Explain that.

Prof. LEWIS: Well, the kind of wishy-washy policies that have been followed in the past and just won't work and the question which people have been asking all the time is I think the wrong question. The question people are asking is why do they hate us? That's the wrong question. They've been hating us for a long time. In a sense, they've been hating us for centuries, and it's very natural that they should. You have this millennial rivalry between two world religions, and now, from their point of view, the wrong one seems to be winning. And more generally, I mean, you can't be rich, strong, successful and loved, particularly by those who are not rich, not strong and not successful. So the hatred is something almost axiomatic. The question which we should be asking is why do they neither fear nor respect us?

[...]

Prof. LEWIS: Well, by get tough, I mean continue the good work that was started in Afghanistan and deal with some of the other countries or groups, terrorists--terrorist groups and countries that help them. The alternative, get out, is find a substitute for oil so that the Middle East no longer matters. Leave them to their own devices.

These are not, of course, contradictory strategies, though there are clearly limits to how far "get out" can go. But if immense social opprobrium were directed at unnecessarily or excessively using byproducts of oil, we'd be making a far better start at cutting the legs out from under terrorism and Islamism than by, say, attacking drug use.

2/24/2002 11:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANDREW SULLIVAN explains blogging. (Registration required, but you can, of course, make up all your responses, as I did.)

$27,000 in tipjar income in 2001! Um, I've made $5 so far. Please consider hitting the "donate" button in the upper left, if you enjoy reading me (modify the amount to whatever you wish to; it's a good clean libertarian act); you wouldn't believe how dire my financial situation is if I told you. If you don't donate, the terrorists will have won.


2/24/2002 10:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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V.S. NAIPAUL SPEAKS UP: The Times of London reports:
Nayantara Sehgal, an author and niece of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had just opened a panel discussion yesterday on colonialism and oppression when Naipaul, who is 69, blurted out: “My life is short. I can’t listen to banalities.”

He continued: “And this thing about colonialism, this thing about gender oppression, the very word oppression wearies me. I don’t know why. I think it is because banality irritates me.”

Vikram Seth, author of the best-selling A Suitable Boy, tried to calm Naipaul by patting him gently on the back, with disastrous effect. “What are you doing!” fumed Naipaul, throwing off his hand.

He added: “If writers just sit and talk about oppression, they’re not going to do much writing. My difference on that kind of attitude is that I have to make a living by writing.”

The novelist Amitav Ghosh, who was chairing the discussion, struggled to regain control as Ms Sehgal whispered in his ear that she would not say a word more.

Naipaul had already raised eyebrows at the opening ceremony on Monday when he suggested that the only good writing by Indians in English came from overseas.

Good thing Elizabeth Wurtzel wasn't there. Though she could offered him some Prozac and Ritalin.

2/24/2002 10:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PALESTINIAN TEXTBOOKS: a fascinating close examination of them, Jews, Israel and Peace in Palestinian School Textbooks. The executive summary confirms what I've been given to understand.
Palestine stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and is exclusively Arab.
Read at least this. I've only barely begun to peruse the whole thing as yet. (Also via Bjørn Stærk.)

Later: I've now read the whole thing, and it's as dire as one can imagine. Children indoctrinated like this are unlikely to ever grow up believing in peaceful coexistence with Israel.

Adults who believe it and in such indoctrination are equally unlikely to ever engage in an attempt at genuine peaceful coexistence. Read some of this material. The sections aren't actually at all long.


2/24/2002 09:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHINA'S PRESIDENT REVEALED AS AUDIOANIMATRON!: (No, not in Florida.) I wish I had seen this press conference, in which Jiang Zemin apparently emitted smoke and sparks from his neck, as he repeatedly uttered the phrase "Illogical, illogical; Norman, please coordinate."

(I suppose I should stop with the Star Trek references, since Lileks is the only one who gets them.)

CHINA’S President yesterday gave a baffling performance in front of hundreds of journalists that made his often tongue-tied American counterpart look eloquent by comparison.

President Jiang Zemin stood in front of the assembled foreign and local journalists, whom he had formally invited to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People for a “joint meeting” with President George Bush, and refused to answer all their questions.

Seeking guidance from his press secretary, Mr Jiang simply pretended, live on national television, that he had not heard two separate questions about imprisoned Catholic bishops and religious freedom.

Great story.
[...]

Rather implausibly, he also claimed to have no influence over who is imprisoned in China and why.

Shortly before Mr Jiang finally addressed the question of religious freedom, the television lights in the Great Hall of the People dimmed.

Kremlinologists wondered whether the live transmission on Chinese state television had been cut, allowing Mr Jiang to answer the question without losing face in front of a domestic audience.

Last night, staff at China Central Television insisted the transmission had not been cut. Asked when they would next have the chance to show a Jiang press conference live, they refused to answer. Just like their President.

Gosh, Ari Fleisher is soooo envious. (Via Bjørn Stærk.)

Here's more:

The Chinese government responded to President Bush's call for religious tolerance Friday by promptly editing out his remarks on freedom and faith in its transcript of a speech that Bush delivered on live national television.

[...]

Almost half the speech--large chunks extolling American liberty and urging China to relax its political and religious restrictions--was simply hacked out in the transcript released by the official New China News Agency. The heavy censorship prompted indignant complaints on the Internet from people who demanded that the full text be restored.

[...]

The excised portions of Bush's speech contained praise for America's civic spirit and its status as "a beacon of hope" for people around the world. Bush's criticism of some Chinese textbooks' portrayal of U.S. society also was dropped. So were his comments on his personal faith, his call for an end to religious persecution here, his description of the Statue of Liberty and his declaration that freedom need not mean chaos.

Even his praise for the courage of the firefighters and police officers who died trying to save victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. got the ax.

One thing that remained was a brief civics lesson on the separation of powers in U.S. government and the fact that political authority derives from a "free vote of the people." But Bush's wish that the Chinese might one day choose their own national leaders was expunged.

Of course, we hope to do a clearer job of that next time, ourselves.

2/24/2002 08:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KGB AND THE KILLING OF THE US AMBASSADOR. Steve Coll also has a separate piece, based on Mitrokhin, on the killing of Adolph Dubs. It's long been believed that the KGB had a hand in it, albeit in screwing up, rather than intentionally trying to murder Dubs. Some damning details:
The kidnappers were armed with only three pistols among them. Two died in the attack, one was taken into custody, and one escaped -- it isn't clear how. "In order to frustrate requests from the Americans to question the detained terrorist and hunt down the one who escaped, it was decided to shoot the one who had been detained and to shoot another prisoner, pretending that he was the fourth terrorist," Mitrokhin writes. The two killings were carried out on the night of the kidnapping. The escaped terrorist apparently was never caught.

[...]

After Dubs's death, the KGB planted stories in the foreign press claiming that the kidnappers were members of a radical Islamic Shiite organization. The KGB also put out misleading and confused accounts about how the abduction unfolded. Its disinformation campaign lasted more than a year, involved forged documents concocted by KGB handwriting experts, and sought to direct blame for the botched rescue attempt on Hafizullah Amin, an Afghan communist leader then in disfavor with the Soviets.


2/24/2002 08:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HAYAO MIYAZAKI's latest film, Spirited Away, has become Japan's top-grossing film of all time, surpassing the last film in that place, his previous film, Princess Mononoke. It's just taken the Golden Bear at the Berlin film festival. Ghibli Films has not yet settled distribution arrangements in the US. (Via Insolvent Republic of Blogistan.)

2/24/2002 08:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KGB IN AFGHANISTAN Long Outlook piece on KGB history in that land, using the 178 page (PDF) article by Vasiliy Mitrokhin released last month by the invaluable Cold War History Project.

Mitrokhin, as you know, is the KGB archivist who spent years transcribing documents onto scrap of paper, walking out of the Directorate's HQ with them in his shoes, painstakingly retranscribing them, and then buying this trove in his backyard, until it and he were smuggled out to the West in 1992 (a triumph for British Intelligence over US, by the way).

Somehow, of course, leftists concerned, rightfully and wrongfully, with CIA activities over the years, will be unlikely to be writing aha! pieces full of glee at discovering, again, proof of KGB manipulations, assassinations, and atrocities.

An unknown, perhaps significant, number of the clashes among mujaheddin groups during the 1980s -- which set the stage for the catastrophic civil war in the 1990s -- apparently were carried out deliberately by paid KGB agents.
Lots of wet work. Fascinating detail.

2/24/2002 06:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FAS AND GOOGLE are cooperating in limited access to security data, is an interesting bit buried in the 22nd and 23rd 'graphs of this piece on the tension between "right to know" and data that's useful in planning terrorist attacks.

I don't think there are clear and simple rules to follow on this issue, and anyone who sees it as black and white is being foolish. I'd like to preserve as much information in publically available sites as possible, but not to the point of causing serious risk.

I think it's responsible of FAS (Federation of American Scientists), for example, to remove those satellite photos of nuclear plants; they were interesting, but I'd just as soon not have someone, including me, know where to blow up the spent-waste pools.


2/24/2002 05:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE IRAQI TIMETABLE: Andrew Sullivan wondered a few days ago why things were moving so slowly, and others have asked the same. This bespeaks, among other things, ignorance of how long it takes to militarily gear up for a major fight utilizing conventional forces, and including a massive air campaign, neither of which were done in Afghanistan, and yet which also took months to work up to.

This Washington Post piece by the immensely experienced and well-sourced Walter Pincus, whose work I've followed since he was the lead writer on Iran-Contra, and Karen DeYoung has useful detail on what's necessary to accomplish before military action can be taken.

Pentagon planners say it will take six months to produce enough Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), the precision systems that guided 1,000-pound bombs to Taliban and al Qaeda targets, to contemplate an attack on Saddam Hussein's Iraq. [...] But the military reality is that it could take up to a year before the United States is ready to launch a coordinated assault likely to achieve the administration's goals of destroying Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capability and replacing Hussein's regime.
We've got a long timetable with plenty of signs to watch for as matters scale up, diplomatically, and militarily. This will not be a quick show, but a serial.

2/24/2002 05:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARAFAT'S GHOSTS: I wondered, after Arafat's Op-Ed appeared in the Times recently, who was writing his stuff. Here's an answer:
European Union special Middle East envoy Miguel Moratinos and US Consul General in Jerusalem Ronald Schlicher aided Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat in drafting a letter last week to US Secretary of State Colin Powell regarding the Karine A arms ship, EU sources confirmed yesterday.

A source in the Prime Minister's Office said the help given to Arafat was part of an international effort to help him improve his image.

Arafat has received additional public relations help in the US from a lobbying firm headed by former US consul general in Jerusalem Edward Abingdon, who reportedly authored his New York Times column on February 3.

"There is a desperate lobby trying to save Arafat, but they cannot save him from himself," the source said. "They can write a clear, articulate letter in good English, but even the best letter cannot hide the true Arafat, the one who calls for a million martyrs to converge on Jerusalem."

Of course, the source of the story appears to be out of Sharon's office, and it's from the endlessly Likud-slanted Jerusalem Post, never an unbiased source since Conrad Black bought it and morphed it from the formerly good newspaper it had been, so this also needs to be taken with salt.

2/24/2002 05:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GUARDIAN/OBSERVER publishes a range of letters responding to Peter Beaumont's piece on European anti-semitism last week. I have a few comments.
If it is not possible to be absolutely opposed to the current handling of the Palestinian intifada by the government of Israel without being accused of being anti-Semitic then I plead guilty. Of course I am not anti-Semitic but I am anti the shooting of children by soldiers and anti the illegal occupation of another people's land.
David Johnson
Romsey, Hants
Whereas, of course, to be Zionist is to support shooting children, and occupying "another people's land." Without respect to specific pieces of land or claims, the idea that a specific piece of land unquestionably and eternally belongs to some theoretically homogenous and unchanging "people" is self-evidently nonsensical, whether it applies to Jews, "Palestinians" (a concept not even conceived of until after the Versailles conference, and of which no attempt to organize into reality happened until the late 1950s, which makes them now no less real than any other "people"), Americans, Scots, Bosnians, or Grand Fenwickians. Claims framed in such manner, if applied universally, collapse the geopolitics of everywhere save, perhaps, Antarctica.
Peter Beaumont says 'the fear of being declared an anti-Semite' is 'Europe's last great taboo'. The last taboo is surely honest criticism of Zionism which has depended on anti-Semitism for its existence from the time of Herzl through the Nazi era to the present? [...] Israel needs more Jews to maintain its character, and it could be argued Sharon's policies provoke anti-Semitism so Jews in Europe migrate to the relative safety of the Zionist State.

Stifling discussion of such issues by the threat of the 'anti-Semite' label is just one way that Zionists have sought to manipulate the media for their own ends, hijacking the faith of Judaism in the process.

I'm not sure what circles Ibrahim Hewitt, Leicester, moves in, but I've not run into this "taboo." However, I'm glad he can explain and stand up for "the faith of Judaism" while not at all engaging in anti-semitism whilst discussing the Jewish manipulation of the media for their own ends. He definitively demonstrates that anti-semitism in Europe, or Britain, is not at all a valid concern. Yup.

2/24/2002 04:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW TO DEAL WITH THE AMERICAN GOLIATH by Andrew Rawnsley. Some nonsense, but on the scale of Guardian/Observer opinion pieces, not so bad. Calls Bush an idiot, but says he's mostly right, anyway, and Blair is correct to put Britain behind him, while the rest of Europe whinges.
Just over 10 years ago, a tremendously distinguished professor of history at Yale University shocked the rest of the inhabitants of the most powerful nation on the planet. He warned that the American Empire was destined to follow the same trajectory as the imperiums of Rome, Persia, Charlemagne, Spain, Britain and every other empire on which the sun eventually set.
Although Paul Kennedy's Rise and Fall of the Great Powers sold well, and inspired the usual discussion amongst the intelligensia, the number of people who even heard of it is unlikely to have risen about 2-3% of the nation, much less "the rest of the inhabitants."
The largest naval armada assembled since 1945 currently cruises the Arabian Gulf.
I'm not going to bother to look up the specifics this moment, but this is surely wrong; I seem to recall we had four carrier battlegroups there in 1991, which we certainly don't today, and the navy is approximately two-thirds the size. This strikes me as wrong-on-the-face in the same way I didn't have to look up specifics when my eyes popped at reading so many recent references to "the 80,000 ton Crusader artillery cannon." Who could read that, and not know it's insane? An awful lot of people, apparently.
Colin Powell, the one American whom Europeans thought they could count on as an agent of caution in Washington, recently rang Jack Straw. The Foreign Secretary sought guidance about how the mind of the White House was developing. Powell replied with words to the effect that he had phoned because 'they are more likely to tell you guys than me'.
I'm a bit skeptical of this, after it has been run through a British game of "telephone." However,
The intelligence material that the Prime Minister sees makes him genuinely disturbed - it would not being going too far to say petrified - about Saddam Hussein's potential ability to use weapons of mass destruction.
Facts are facts, and it's to Blair's credit that he's not closing his eyes and trying to wish them away. Rawnsley has further redeeming things to say, but I'll conclude with
Europe asks to be treated as America's partner, but behaves like a dinner companion who always complains about the menu and will never pay its share of the bill.

2/24/2002 03:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BRITS SAY APRIL SUMMIT will finalize details on military action to topple the Iraqui government. I expect that, as usual, this story is rather ahead of reality. For one thing, while it stresses an inevitable military attack, it also makes clear that Hussein will be given an ultimatum to let inspectors in.

The problem unmentioned in this story is what if Hussein is bright enough to let in inspectors? He's almost surely able to bamboozle the UN into accepting enough conditions that the inspections will be weak enough to be largely meaningless.

And even if not, threatening to go to war over refusal to be admitted to a few palaces is a much harder sell. Frankly, Hussein would be an idiot not to go that route, and all the signs I see are that he will. Does the administration have a plan for dealing with this? I hope so.


2/24/2002 03:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DAVID IRVING IS IN DENIAL ABOUT DENIAL: Excellent lengthy catch-up piece on the Hitler-adoring Holocaust denier, with details on how he is not paying any of the judgments rendered against him, and thus is still intimidating publishers with threats of legal action they will have to pay for, but he will not. Includes an account of his typically bizarre reaction to the news that Traudl Junge, the last of Hitler's private secretaries, had died, and his previous visit with another such secretary, who gave him one of Hiter's drawings, which he treasured.

2/24/2002 02:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY STEWARD HEAD: (Giles, silly) here.

2/24/2002 02:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHICH STAR-CROSSED MARVEL LOVER ARE YOU?

2/24/2002 02:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Phllip Pullman Q&A:
On how booksellers should recommend his books to children: "I'd say: "You are forbidden to read these books. They're too old for you, and they're full of things you shouldn't experience yet, like sex and violence and dangerous ideas about religion. I'm putting them up here, on this shelf, and I'm going out for an hour or so. You're not to touch them."

2/24/2002 02:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE UNH! PROJECT is here. "A collection of guttural moans from comics."
Once upon a time, I had a desire to assemble panels from comic books which contained word balloons expressing discomfort. My friend David Mason described this as a "plap" (a "personal life artistic project") - often conceived, but rarely finished.
But finish he did, and turn it into a zine, and now a marvelous set of web pages. Here we learn:
On the Warren Ellis comics discussion forum, Kurt Busiek identified himself as the writer of the above panel, describing the context as "Runaway brat / wannabe sidekick Suzie is assaulting one of the henchwomen of subatomic dictator Atomia."

During the discussion, Michael Dietsch had asked, "Under what circumstances would you write the direction, 'Girl hits woman's ass with book'?"

Kurt Busiek's reply was "While I wouldn't rule out ever writing that, I expect that was simply how the artist chose to interpret a description of the girl in question rushing in and attacking the evil queen -from- behind, not specifically -on- the behind."

Ka-BOOM! A Dictionary of Comicbook Words and BZZURKK! The Thesaurus of Champions are also nifty.

2/24/2002 02:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE ULTIMATE FAKE (ROCK) BAND LIST is here. A compendium attempting to compile every fictional band ever to appear in a tv show or movie, with a reasonably detailed note and comments for each appearance. What an invaluable research tool for, er, something or other.... (Via http://bitstream.manilasites.com/.)

2/24/2002 01:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ON THE ONE HAND, Intellect thrives on sleep, Land of nod is a learning experience, 22 February 2002; on the other hand: Oversleepers may die early, 15 February 2002. What to do? I'd better sleep on it.

2/24/2002 01:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THAT SUPER-HERO NETWORKING thing. Captain America revealed as Kevin Bacon of Marvel Universe. More importantly, you can get a university to pay you and your buddies to be comics geeks.

2/24/2002 01:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HERE'S Chuck Jones' website. Fortunately, it is not hosted by an Acme webserver.

2/24/2002 04:55:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHICH D&D CHARACTER are you?
You Are A: Neutral Good Half-Elf Ranger Druid.
Okay.

2/24/2002 04:52:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CELEBRITIES IN SPACE has The Independent all afflutter, including a quote from the man they identify as
The concept left science-fiction novelist J G Ballard "breathless with admiration". Manned space flight has been struggling to recapture the popular and political imagination ever since the Challenger disaster in 1986, he said.

"This is the marriage of two of the greatest chimeras of our age: space flight and celebrity," he said. "Celebrity is the key to everything. Unless a celebrity is involved, we're not interested. This may well bring the space age alive again."

The money for research on the ISS has already been cut back to next to nothing. I suggest they just give in, and stage game shows on it. Done right, the profits can then be used to put in the necessary infrastructure for research. Survivor will be ever so much more exciting when you get voted off the station. Without a suit.

2/24/2002 04:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE RIGHT WEBSITE with the right information can change a Congressional policy debate.

2/24/2002 04:03:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHRIS PATTEN acknowledges:
Asked if he felt he truly understood the change in the American psyche after Sept. 11, Mr. Patten paused, then said, "Even those of us who've subsequently been to New York and know America well and have vast sympathy for New York and for America after what's happened, I don't think quite get it."

"I don't think we fully comprehend the impact of a grand innocence and a sense of magnificent self-confidence and invulnerability being shattered in that appalling way," he added." I think that's a perfectly legitimate criticism to make of us."

There's also the amount of blood. Europeans keep reminding us that they've been dealing with terrorism for decades, which, of course, any well-read American needs no reminding of. Usually the reminder comes with a condescending little pat on the head -- oh, you poor dear innocent Americans, you're so cute in your silly innocence, but we grownups have dealt with this for ages. Welcome to the real world.

But scale matters. When was the last time Europe was rocked by an incident of 3000 dead? A huge chunk of a city blown to ash? Not since WWII, of course. Have they had even 300 dead at once? No, of course not. Omagh was the most recent "large incident," and that staggered Britain and Ireland. It was 29 people killed. The only truly large scale incident in modern times was Pan Am 103, and that's part of the same international war we're fighting now, not a product of intra-European native terrorism.

In over thirty years since the Troubles, the number of dead just barely exceeds that of what happened in a single day on September 11th. And very few of those deaths are remotely attributable to "terrorism," but rather to gangsterism, sectarianism, rioting, police action, and a range of other awfulness.

Similarly, the Baader-Meinhoff fraction, the Basque ETA, and the various other little gangs the Europeans point to as the source of their experienced wisdom on dealing with terrorism, consisted or consist of handfuls of people killing or kidnapping handfuls of other people; all of them put together may have killed maybe a tenth the number who died on September 11th, if you stretched the figures.

Largely, European terrism has consisted of a handful of assasinations and car bomb threats, and maybe 11 dead a year or so. The shocks to the system aren't at all comparable, and far and away more importantly, the obvious danger isn't comparable.

The Irish Troubles have been a matter of civil disorder and strife; as terrible as they are, as terrible as the history has been, they are not an outside attack on a nation intended to destroy that nation and kill as many of its citizens as possible.

Neither have any of the past or present European terror groups ever remotely threatened the lives of most of its citizens, or even of many at a time. Comparing the two threats is like comparing that of a bb to that of a dum-dum bullet.

But it's comforting for many Europeans to find One More Reason to smile condescendingly and assure themselves that, as ever, they know more, and are wiser, more experienced, and more sophisticated, in their reactions and knowledge, than those juvenile, over-reacting, blundering Americans. And that's what's most important, isn't it?


2/24/2002 02:06:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FRANK RICH rather prematurely, I think, declares the cultural wars over, in a mildly lengthy NY Times Magazine piece based around his read of an advance copy of David Brock's Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, declaring Brock to be "the archetypal figure of 90's Washington." Naturally, folks on the right won't want to read this piece, save to find something to argue with. Others might enjoy it, however, since Rich is a good writer, even if this is not one of his stronger pieces.

He also notes that Brock discusses at some length the considerable percentage of closeted homosexuals in the conservative circles Brock used to move in.

The numerous gays in ''the seniormost ranks of the Reagan administration called themselves the 'laissez fairies,''' writes Brock.
I wonder how the Laffer curve fits in to this?

2/24/2002 12:23:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, February 23, 2002
 
TOM FRIEDMAN tells it like it is in Saudi Arabia:
I was told this was not the true feeling here. I was told the hijackers were actually educated in America. I was told they were sent by Mossad or the C.I.A. I was told in one session that the Jews control the U.S. government and that was the real problem, a statement that prompted me to walk out. I was told the hijackers were responding to Arab anger over blind U.S. support for Israel's brutality to Palestinians. If that was the case, I asked, why did Osama bin Laden say that what motivated him was a desire to drive the U.S. out of Arabia and topple the corrupt Saudi ruling family? I got no good answers.
Read the whole thing.

2/23/2002 11:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MICHAEL MOORE's revisionism in now claiming, falsely, that he was telling people in Florida and swing states that "their job was to stop Bush" is busted by the able Jay Zilber here. It becomes more and more awkward over time when your fantasies don't become reality, so retroactive memory-rewrite is a useful option.

2/23/2002 11:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANGOLA wants to make sure we know Jonas Savimbi is dead. Good riddance to one of the least savory former feeders off the US teat during the Cold War.

2/23/2002 02:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DAVID GREENBAUM said kaddish.

A while ago he told us about alltägsgeschichte: the history of everyday life. What he doesn't answer is the question why does German always sound like a sneeze?


2/23/2002 01:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CAN DEMOCRACY COME TOO SOON? Of course.

2/23/2002 01:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHARLES MARTIN JONES. Goodbye.

2/23/2002 01:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OF ALL THE BLOG-WATCHERS, clearly this one is the most important, the most elegantly conceived, the most perceptive in its choice of blogs, the most delicious in its expression. Have I mentioned that QuasiPundit is excellent, and Punditwatch indispensible, and From Left Field a superb view?

Never, of course, would I engage in blogrolling. Heaven forfend.


2/23/2002 11:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BACK AND FORTH keeps going talk about the idea of returning to the '67 borders in return for full peace. There are huge problems on both sides, including the fact that "peace" can change in a week. On the other hand, the notion that that these are indefensible borders simply because they can be reached by artillery is nonsense in the missile age, not to mention the hybrid artillery-missile age. The biggest problem is credibility. Salami tactics, or willingness to stop savaging each other, and make a genuine settlement? You decide, but, then, most folks already have.

Me, I think it depends upon whom you talk to, and who winds up in control, here and there. Or, rather, there and there and there and there.


2/23/2002 01:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AL GORE IS RUNNING forward, for now, anyway. I expect he'll run until he has reason not to, such as being blocked, or winning.

2/23/2002 12:19:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, February 22, 2002
 
GIBBON on the Emperor Gordian:
"Twenty-two acknowledged concubines and a library of 62,000 volumes attested the variety of his inclinations, and from the productions which he left behind him, it appears that the former as well as the latter were designed for use rather than ostentation."
I first read Gibbon when I was eight, and fell in love, and every few years return to him. I'm terribly fond, in general, of the rolling cadences of writers of the 19th and 18th centuries. Pray try the Gibbon-O-Matic!

"Another damned, thick, square, book! Always scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?" (William Henry, Duke of Gloucester, upon receiving the second volume from the author, 1781)


2/22/2002 10:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I THOUGHT I'D MENTIONED, but my search doesn't show, a link to Tolkien slash fiction. Hubba hubba. Why do so many people misspell his name, anyway?

2/22/2002 01:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ULP: Eyes wide. Here's a page -- an actual offical page of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice -- a shame they don't have several other categories, isn't it? -- that, well, makes you think only in Texas. It's the page listing the requested final meals of those who left Death Row. (A thoughtful footnote mentions "The final meal requested may not reflect the actual final meal served.")

Not only can one pick up tasty treat tips, it never occurred to me I'd ever find a page that has a link Return to Death Row Page.

These people favor cholesterol. Don't they know that's bad for their health?

There are all sorts of odd notes. One inmate's request was for "Justice, Equality, World Peace." Hard to swallow that. Another asked for "God's saving grace, love, truth, peace and freedom." Also a bit indigestible. Several asked for a smoke, and it is noted that "(cigarettes prohibited by policy)." Which creeps me out. They're legal, still, right? Y'know, call me a liberal, but I think it's okay if a murderer gets a last smoke before he's offed.


2/22/2002 01:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ROGER EBERT has added Say Anything to his Great Movies list. He only quoted the first sentence of:
I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that.
One of my guidelines in life is
You probably got it all figured out, Corey. If you start out depressed everything's kind of a pleasant surprise.
I'm a big Cameron Crowe fan, always have been, even when he was "just" writing for Rolling Stone and Creem. John Cusak always does great work, as well, of course.

2/22/2002 12:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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COLLEAGUES HONOR Danny Pearl. I'm not going to collect the set; there will be so many, and rightfully so. I just bow my head. He had, in his pictures, a lovely smile. And he died in service to his nation, and in service of seeking the truth, which is a service to our nation, as much as any of our brave soldiers' mission, and I honor that, and his volunteering.

2/22/2002 02:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MY IDEA: We haul them up three thousand feet, douse them in jet fuel, light them, drop them, drop endless tons of steel and other material on them as they incinerate, and that's too kind for the profiteers.
ANNALS OF TASTE: EBay Is Asked to Remove Trade Center Items

The Bloomberg administration demanded yesterday...

Note switch from headline.
...that eBay, the Internet auction company, remove World Trade Center memorabilia from its Web site, calling some of the items for sale "blatant attempts to profit from mass murder" and "nauseating."
Hey, anyone want to buy these chunks of hair, and gold teeth from Auschwitz? Great memorabilia! Conversation pieces!

I'm reminded of the article before I was blogging which carried an account of a fellow encountering someone else near the WTC area during the day after, noting the latter guy carrying some stuff. When first guy asked what second guy was doing, and was told that second guy was carrying off some souvenirs to sell, he testified, and I paraphrase from memory, "I'm afraid I became so upset, I punched him in the nose."

I have this terribly unorthodox notion that there are other values than profit uber alles. No, I don't want a law passed to enforce my prejudices here. I'm just noting that there are other values than profit.

Tangentially, I'd like to see extreme social opproprium directed at anyone using red, white, and blue, and particularly imagery modeled on the American flag, for commercial use. I particularly direct this at tv networks using such in their logos, but also at any advertiser doing this. It's not patriotism. It's attempting to gain viewers and buyers, and profit from pseudo-patriotism, to attempt to suggest that "if you're really patriotic, you'll watch/buy us," and I think it's nauseating.

Patriotism isn't demonstrated through displaying a set of colors, nor can one claim it for one's self through waving a banner, seeking to be appreciated. That's the opposite of the idea of self-sacrifice in the cause of freedom. It makes me want to vomit. And then do the 3000 feet routine.

But only after due process.


2/22/2002 01:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, February 21, 2002
 
ANTERIOR CINGULATE is another alternative possible name for this blog.
Brain imaging experiments are beginning to show that when a person gets an unexpected reward — the equivalent of a huge shot of delicious apple juice — more dopamine reaches the anterior cingulate. When a person expects a reward and does not get it, less dopamine reaches the region. And when a person expects a reward and gets it, the anterior cingulate is silent.
Read the piece, decide how conscious are you? Me, I'm only conscious part of the time; much of what I do is on auto-pilot. No, mostly not my blogging.

2/21/2002 11:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUPERMAN FOR IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER: Joe Klein has a LETTER FROM TEHRAN at The New Yorker's website that probably won't be up much longer. Here's a bit from the beginning, starting with a quote from one of the participants in the sympathy demonstration on September 11th, speaking three months later:
"Do you want to know what I was really worried about?" she said, pausing for ironic effect. "Woody Allen. I didn't want him to die. I wanted to know that he was all right. I love his films."

But wasn't she pleased by President Khatami's statement? "Khatami! I don't believe in Khatami. I believe in Superman." She shrugged and raised her eyebrows. "At least in the world of Superman there is a certain logic. There are rules. There is no logic in the world of Khatami. He's just part of an irrational system. At the top of the system is the Supreme Leader." This is actually a constitutional office, occupied by the chief religious figure in the country. Its first, and most memorable, occupant was Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini; since Khomeini's death, in 1989, the office has been held, less notably, by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "But nobody believes in the Supreme Leader," she went on. "Everybody believes in Khatami. Everybody votes for Khatami, who has none of the power. Nobody votes for the conservatives, but they have all of the power. So I like the fantasy of Superman better than the fantasy of Khatami."

There's Red Khatami, see, and Blue Khamenei. I'm not sure where the Legion of Super-Pets fits in, though. Perhaps Col. Khadfy is Beppo the Super-monkey.

A more serious quote:

"Iran is a kaleidoscope," says Kenneth Pollack, who is the deputy director of national-security studies for the Council on Foreign Relations and who was a director for Persian Gulf affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration. "There are fourteen dozen different positions on each issue, and it is very difficult to say with any certainty which of the insiders support which position. [...] It's not impossible that some of them were sending a message to Khatami as well as to us with the Karine A."
It's a worthwhile piece.

2/21/2002 10:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KENNEDY BRANDING: USA Today tells us:
After the success of The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Caroline Kennedy is editing two more books, a sign the Kennedy name is even more popular in publishing than in politics. Profiles in Courage for Our Time [and] The Patriot's Handbook: Poems, Songs and Speeches Every American Should Know.
Next up will be My Brother, JFK, Jr.: He Would Have Slept With Marilyn If He Could Have and Ted Kennedy's Mixology.

2/21/2002 10:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SHEDDING LIGHT: I have a dreadful tendency to assume that anyone who reads me is reading Patrick Nielsen Hayden's extraordinarily fine Electrolite blog, because Patrick and I go back with each other to when we were newts, and tend to be about 90% in agreement with each other on almost everything, and for me he's simply there.

An unfortunate result of that, I've realized, is that I almost never link to specific items in his blog, and it occurs to me that this is unfair and silly, since my presumption is surely not wholly true. Not to mention that he is brilliant, insightful, one of the smartest people I've ever known, an extraordinary editor, and can write rings, curlicues, and Art Deco designs around me, and most of the planet.

So let me note his sage comments about the Indiana students' objection to the Thomas Hart Benton mural which includes, intending to depict a horrible thing educationally, members of the KKK burning a cross.

As well, his comments and link about contemporary slavery in Mauritania. Below, his comments about zero-tolerance in schools.

Then just keep reading down to the bottom, and as you have time, read all his archives. You won't regret it.


2/21/2002 08:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DANIEL PEARL WAS MURDERED.

2/21/2002 05:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IRANIAN VISIONS: Bruce Sterling also linked to this, and it's a fascinating, well-written, glimpse into the point-of-view of a sophisticated Iranian woman of 28, who has lived in America, on a visit back to Tehran, at a party, enjoying and disenjoying the treats, the flirting, the opium, and the culture. Very immersive. Go read it.

The entire publication, The Iranian, is interesting.


2/21/2002 04:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FEAR OF THE FUTURE: Bruce Sterling thinks this essay by Judith Berman, from the New York Review of Science Fiction is one of the most important pieces of sf criticism of the past decade. It's a valid-sounding point, and I don't think I have a sweeping enough view of the field at present to strongly agree or disagree with how valid it is or isn't. The critique boils down to this point:
We have a field that is increasingly fearful of the present, looking ever more wistfully toward the past.
Perhaps so. I'd observe that the field has some other ongoing problems, perhaps largest of which is the way what once was science fiction has become part of normal cultural life; I'm not simply referring to technology, but to a cultural change in which the entire sf outlook of neophilia and being technology-positive, formerly a small ghetto, has been subsumed into a vastly larger geek culture, itself part of the majority culture, in which sf tropes and outlook are diluted and subsumed, absorbed into advertising, and every-day news of cloning, nanotechnology, and endless more koolness, while simultaneously, the larger world has come to identify "science fiction" not with the cutting edge work, but with mass-media action/adventure tv/movie "sci-fi," so that where people who might once have identified themselves specifically as "science fiction people" now largely view themselves as part of geekdom, nerdom, the online world.

Why look to the world of science fiction for what people used to, when the world around us is now that world? But this is merely a continuation of a trend I was writing about over twenty years ago, and which many others have written about, so I'm not really saying anything new.

And this is not to say there aren't tons of great sf presently and recently coming out, mind.

Berman also says that

The phenomenon of sf nostalgia is particularly odd in comparison with, say, the social sciences. [...]Too much nostalgia poisons vitality and creativity in any field. But sf should be especially allergic to nostalgia.
True enough. However, this also fights against the only partially true observation of Peter Graham's that "the Golden Age of science fiction is twelve." It speaks nothing against the maturity, grace, and brilliance of the upper crust of contemporary sf that few of its practioners did not first fall in love with the field near that age.

2/21/2002 04:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STAMP OUT HATING AMERICA: Getcher "I hate America!" stamps here. I hadn't known that the Viet Cong had had postage stamps. The Nazi one from 1941 is rather amazing.

2/21/2002 02:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HEAVY BREATHING IN KANDAHAR: From Japan Today we learn about the new craze sweeping the town: satellite tv porn!
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — In a darkened room at the back of a teashop in dusty downtown Kandahar, 23-year-old Latif stands mouth agape, giggling nervously, staring at the first pair of breasts he can remember seeing.
Yeah, but it's hardly competition for bushkazi, is it?

2/21/2002 02:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC? A futurologist's timeline predictions of what technology will bring us, in multiple categories, over the next 40 years, in PDF form. Rather silly, really, particularly as the predictions come in three or four word phrases, leaving them, as a rule, more than a little vague. For instance, "orgasm by e-mail" in 2010. I imagine there are some having those right now. Similarly "multimedia patient records" for the same year. Etc. Still, amusing, and you have to admire the impudence. I rather prefer Terry Bisson's "Today In History" though.

2/21/2002 02:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE WILD ONES: "Johnny, what are you rebelling against?" "Whaddya got?" Bored Saudi Youth Take Wild Side to the Street. In their next role, "I coulda been a contenda, I coulda been somebody!"

2/21/2002 02:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ISRAEL'S SUPREME COURT has ruled that those who undergo Reform or Conservative conversions are Jews. For the first time.

This is of huge importance to Jews in various ways. Most Jews in Israel are, of course, secular and non-religious. But those who are religious are divided amongst the mildly religious, with a bow towards Orthodox tradition, and then the modern Orthodox, and the stricter, and then we start dividing into various sectarian groups, most of whom are usually called by the others, the "ultra-Orthodox," though they are not fond of the label. The latter, though a distinct minority, do have political power out of proportion with their numbers, due to their tendency to vote as blocs in several political parties, of which the Israeli Knesset is divided into many.

In any case, the number of Jews following Reform and Conservative practices in Israel is small, but in the rest of the world, they are the overwhelming majority of Jews, particularly in America. The ultra-Orthodox response to this decision, naturally, is that it is heresy, and the Supreme Court has no authority in such matters. Given that Israel is a parliamentry democracy, not a theocracy, my own response is that they are entitled to whatever view of "who is a Jew" they like, as am I, and as are the secular authorities of the Israeli state, including the Supreme Court.

"Israel is the state of the Jewish people," Judge Barak wrote. "There are different streams in Judaism active in Israel and abroad.

"Every stream acts according to its own views. Every Jew in Israel — like every person who is not Jewish — is entitled to freedom of religion, conscience and organization. Our basic concepts grant every individual the freedom to decide whether he will belong to one stream or another."

Applause.

2/21/2002 01:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GODSPEED, JOHN GLENN: Happy 40th anniversary of your first orbital flight.

2/21/2002 12:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SURVIVOR STORIES: The Guardian/Observer has stories from people who survived the WTC. First-person accounts, worth reading, if you can take it.

(I've been trying to figure out makes the difference between people who react so strongly to what happened, and those who don't, because it isn't just proximity to what happened; anyone with opinions, I'd like to hear them.)


2/21/2002 02:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SHOULD OUR NAME BE CHANGED TO "VENTROMEDIAL PREFRONTAL CORTEX"?: Are you frequently grumpy? Grumpy now? Want to know why? Would it be useful to have your VPC removed?

2/21/2002 01:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A GREYER LOOK: this is an interesting graphic alternative view of the voting in the 2000 election, when states are not colored on a winner-take-each-state basis, but on a percentage-within-state basis. It's, I think, a far more useful visual metaphor than the simplistic "red-state/blue-state" rhetoric we've so wearily become used to.

2/21/2002 01:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I WAS SO POOR... Remember Senator Byrd and SecTreasury O'Neill going at each other a couple of weeks ago on this theme? Colbert King provides some better lines, and some thoughts. I'll quote some lines:
We were so poor, burglars used to break into our house and leave money.

We were so poor that our front door and back door were on the same hinge.

I was so poor that in my neighborhood, the rainbow was black and white.

I was so poor, when I was born, Momma and Daddy bought me a stroller. I made the last three payments myself.

I was so poor, my family received CARE packages from the Third World.

I was so poor growing up, my favorite food was ice.

I was so poor that once my arithmetic teacher in grade school asked, "If I had $2 in one pocket and $3 in another pocket, what would I have?" I told her, "Someone else's pants!"

I was so poor that:

"One Christmas I got a battery with a note saying 'toy not included'.

"I once went to McDonald's and put a milkshake on layaway.

"We used to wave around a Popsicle stick and call it air-conditioning.

"Our family ate cereal with a fork to save milk.

"I had to join the Army to get a haircut.

"When somebody came in our house and lit a cigarette, my daddy shouted 'Clap your hands, stomp your feet, praise the Lord, we have heat.'"

King went on to point out that Byrd's claim that
"When you're talking about those 'ordinary people,' you're talking about senators."
was, my words, not his, greater trash than the trash-talking I quoted, as was O'Neill's claims to "moral high ground" for having been poor as a child.

2/21/2002 12:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, February 20, 2002
 
TARGETING MUD HUTS: Useful article on how special forces ground teams coordinated air strikes in the early days of the war.

2/20/2002 07:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TRAIN UP. This is the al Queda training manual, by the way. Know your enemy.

2/20/2002 06:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OUR GODLY ATTORNEY GENERAL spoke again.
"Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews -- all understand that the source of freedom and human dignity is the Creator," Ashcroft said in prepared remarks released by the Justice Department. "Civilized people of all religious faiths are called to the defense of His creation. We are a nation called to defend freedom -- a freedom that is not the grant of any government or document, but is our endowment from God."
This will help our relations with India simply no end.

Hindus, civilized? Nah. There's 786 million uncivilized people. Buddhists, civilized? Nah, 362 million uncivilized people. 211 million uncivilized atheists. 188 million practioners of Chinese folk religion. 16 million Sikhs. Millions more followers of Confucianism, Baha'i, and Jainism. All misled uncivilized folk. And Shintoism? Well, who cares about those uncivilized Japanese?

And no one but one of the "people of the Book" can find, understand, or practice, freedom or dignity, save, perhaps, by converting (and guess which of those three religions Ashcroft believes is the only one that allows you to not burn in hell?). Of course, this is a fellow so badly read in history that he believes people such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and all the other Founding Fathers were Christians.

(Figures from here.)

Justice Department spokeswoman Susan Dryden said yesterday's speech was intended as a multifaith appeal for unity in the war on terrorism.

"The attorney general will generally make comments that are appropriate to his audience," Dryden said. "The message is that we all need to get along in order to fight a common enemy."

All of us, except, of course, much of the world, and a significant portion of the citizenry of the United States of America.

Here is the text of his prepared remarks. (This was not linked to by the Washington Post; I dug it out from the DOJ myself, as this is Amygdala, the blog that does original research.)

Ashcroft did not go off-text in identifying "Civilized people -- Muslims, Christians and Jews." He then further goes on to distinguish the crucial distinction between "those who embrace a biblical understanding of creation" and those who do not. Later, he specifies again:

For people of all faiths -- be they Christians, Jews or Muslims...
Those other faiths and non-faiths just don't exist in John Ashcroft's universe. Now, I recognize that his intent here was to reach out from beyond his Pentecostal sect, and even beyond Christianity.

But it just won't do to declare that the only civilized people in the world are religious followers of these three religions. Were he making such statements as a private citizen, that is eminently his right; but to speak this way as the Attorney General of the United States of America, making an official address, to declare that a considerable portion of the citizenry of our nation is not civilized is, well, the word is "disgraceful."


2/20/2002 06:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ME, TOO
...and the sound of low-flying airplanes in the dead of night can still unnerve New Yorkers....
Just one of my left-over bits of jumpiness. It doesn't take the dead of night, either.

2/20/2002 02:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IGNORANT MCCARTHYISM. Sheryl McCarthy wonders in Newsday:
Why is Washington so obsessed with Hussein? Is he truly the personification of evil, the sponsor of terrorism, the potential wielder of mass destruction that Washington makes him out to be? Or is this obsession really about something else?
No, he's not the "personification of evil," of course, though he's as evil as... well, ask any of his own people when they're free to speak, or a Kuwaiti, to tell you. Or an Israeli who held her terrified child in a shelter as missiles rained down from Iraq. Or an American or coalition soldier who fought against his forces. Ask, even, an Iranian whose children or brothers are dead, thanks to Hussein.

Is he a sponsor of terrorism? Yes, grandly at times, though he's been low-key of late.

The answer, of course, to anyone who has read Iraqi history, is c) "potential wielder of mass destruction," as well as "invader of neighbors." Perhaps McCarthy didn't notice a little mass slaughter known as the Iran-Iraq War? The Gulf War? The nuke plant at Osirak, in one of the greatest oil powers in the world, whose sole purpose was construction of nuclear weapons? Not to mention being a totalitarian mass murderer of his own people, whose oppression of Arab people is one hundred thousand times greater than anything the most militant Israeli has ever dreamed?

In Hussein's case, it means poison gas of the type used in World War I, and biological weapons - or germs - for which there is no delivery system in existence to spread them to large populations or to an enemy far away.
Here's where I leapt to my section title. I mean, how does one respond to idiocy of this level? The "delivery system" for biological weapons, you complete moron, is anything from a contaminated piece of clothing, to an animal, to a bottle of ostensible hair-spray, to an infected human. The potential number of delivery systems are literally infinite, even setting aside whether we are considering airborne pathogens, degrees of human-vector contagiousness, and other factors. What sort of "delivery system" does she think bubonic plague needed in the 14th century? Or the Influenza of 1918 that killed more people than all those killed in World War I? Or for smallpox? Etc.

And of course Hussein has vast stores of chemical weapons, as the procedures are the same as making insecticide; it's basic chemistry, a high school student can do it with some money to scale up to industrial size. This is stupider than declaring that rockets can't work because they have nothing to push against in a vacuum.

Further, this twit McCarthy apparently is totally clueless as to Hussein's history of using chemical weapons! For god's sake, how many other countries used mustard gas in the last half of the twentieth century? Who has been the only country in history to use nerve gas in warfare? (A bit beyond "of the type used in World War I," as if that were somehow safely primitive, anyway.) To make major use of nerve gas? Who else has used tabun and sarin? Has some other country killed over twenty thousand people in war using chemical weapons lately? Has some other country attacked over 80,000 people of their own citizens with nerve and mustard gas? McCarthy hasn't got a clue! Has she read a single book on Iraq? A single book on the Iran-Iraq war? More than two paragraphs? What makes people think they are qualified to write about subjects they obviously know nothing about?

Hussein has allegedly tried in the past to develop nuclear weapons.
Allegedly? Unbelievable! Sheer ignorance. Try two minutes of research, lady.
But that's difficult in a country that doesn't even own a nuclear reactor or warheads capable of delivering atomic bombs.
Uh, right. What's the point of responding to gibberish like this? To someone who doesn't even know what a "warhead" is? Or an actual "delivery system"? Or who thinks you need a nuclear reactor to obtain radiological material, or fissionable material? I've known less ignorant fourth-graders. Christ, how many tens of millions of people have even just read, say, a Tom Clancy novel, and know more?
And the myth that Iraq is stealing or importing plutonium from former Soviet Bloc countries to make a bomb is just that - a myth.
Golly, I'm glad her personal intelligence service can inform her of this. How much is she paying Miss Cleo?
Pakistan and India are further along the nuclear weapons road than Iraq.
Yes, I think we can safely say that their each having EXPLODED OVER SIX OF THEM might let us agree that they are "along... the...road."
So why is Hussein the bad guy?
Here's a wild guess: because he INVADES OTHER COUNTRIES, and LAUNCHES MISSILE ATTACKS ON OTHER COUNTRIES?
The main reason for Washington's obsession, however, is that he's a strong leader who refuses to be controlled by the United States in a region where we have strategic interests - oil and Israel.
Right. That's why he's up there with the Sultan of Quatar, the princes of Saudi Arabia, the emirs of the United Arab Emirates, and Col. Quaddfi, all our pliant puppets. We just hate strong leaders who aren't our puppets. That's it. It's not because of any actual threats or past actions or plans for future action on Iraq's part. It's just US willfulness. Blame America.
Americans still believe that George Bush Sr.'s failure to finish off Hussein is the reason he wasn't re-elected.
They do? On my planet, they believe it's because the economy went into the tank, and George Bush 41 looked out of touch with the American public, and uninterested and complacent about domestic policy. But on her planet, Clinton won by compaigning on "It's the failure to topple Hussein, stupid," not "it's the economy, stupid." That she's from a parallel dimension, in which Dick Cheney wears a goatee, explains much.
[...] For the moment, he is George W. Bush's version of the evil empire. And just as the Cold War was used as the pretext for doing things the government wanted to do anyway...
But the Soviet Union was an evil empire, and the overwhelming majority of former citizens of that entity will tell you so at great length. Not to mention that there's a tad of documentation (somehow I suspect she's not read, say, Robert Conquest).

And the Cold War, well, explain your theory to someone from Eastern Europe. It was all a US provacation. Uh-huh. No actual oppressed people involved.

Mirror universe. It's the kindest explanation. (Item via The Sideshow who thought McCarthy had a "good question." )


2/20/2002 01:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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