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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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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
"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?"
"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).
"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)
"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."
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 cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
EMPTY LABELS: Brink Lindsey, whose page is must-read, carries one of my constant themes: the useless weight of so many policy and political abstractions.
So it seems to me that the proper U.S. foreign policy is sometimes multilateralist and sometimes unilateralist; sometimes realist and sometimes idealist; sometimes noninterventionist and sometimes interventionist. The difference between sound policy and disastrous blunders is knowing what times call for what approaches. The labels do absolutely nothing to illuminate the choices.
The bottom line is that international affairs are irreducibly chaotic. The world of state-to-outside-world interactions is a flux of changing actors, power alignments, threats, and opportunities -- it is not susceptible to grand abstractions. The prevailing abstractions are as useful to the statesman as "buy low, sell high" is to the investor, or "go with the flow" is to the whitewater rafter.
Go read why. Scoot! I'm not going to quote it all for you: that's what links are for.
Okay, one last bit:
For the statesman, as for the investor or the rafter, success comes not from big generalizations, but from intimate knowledge of ever-changing conditions, seasoned judgment, and the knack of good timing. In the foreign policy arena, those who cling to labels instead of developing these skills are practitioners of foolish consistency. Sooner or later they will miss the critical turn.
This applies to a heck of a lot more than just foreign policy, of course, but to politics and political divides in general. If you've held the same line on everything for the past decade, you're wrong, whatever it is: circumstances change, you need to rethink, there's new information.
Absorb it! Make use of it! Figure out where your old line doesn't apply any more, because it's a different world, and it is every decade.
THAT'S RICH: Avedon Carol points to -- well, you'll just have to search her site, since her permanent links have disappeared again -- this story noting that if you want to go after Bill Clinton for the Marc Rich pardon, you have to go through Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and Marc Rich's lawyer, first.
4/02/2002 10:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
ARAFAT'S BILL: DEBKA, via WorldNetDaily, which is to say, a source I don't consider terribly reliable, via another source only mildly more reliable, posts what nonetheless I have no trouble believing: an alleged accounting statement signed by Arafat for terror supplies:
1. Cost of posters for Martyrs of the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades: Azam Mazhar, Osama Juabra, Shadi Afouri, Yasser Badawi, Ahad Fares (inserted by hand: NIS2,000).
2. Cost of printed notices, invitations and mourners' tents (inserted by hand: NIS1,250).
3. Cost of attaching personal photos of these martyrs to wooden panels, plus those of Tabeth Tabeth and Mahmoud al Jamil (inserted by hand: NIS1,000).
4. Cost of memorial ceremonies for martyrs. Memorial ceremonies held for Martyr Azam, Martyr Osama (inserted by hand: NIS6,000)
5. Cost of electrical goods and miscellaneous chemical substances for manufacturing explosives and bombs – the largest item. (One prepared explosive device – NIS700 at least). We need 5-9 devices per week for the squads in the different regions (inserted by hand: NIS x 4 = NIS20,000 per month)
6. Cost of bullets (cost of Kalashnikov ammo is NIS8 per bullet; M-16 bullets cost NIS2-2.5 each) We need bullets supplied on a daily basis. Note: Available are 3,000 Kalashnikov bullets @ NIS2 each. We need a sum of money at once to buy them (inserted by hand: NIS22,500 for Kalashnikov bullets – NIS60,000 for M-16 bullets)
In conclusion, glory and pride to those who support our brave resistance against the occupation. Revolution until victory.
Is this authentic? I have no idea. Does Arafat authorize something like this for, at the least, the al Aksa Brigades? Surely. (Pointer via faithful reader Joel Rosenberg.)
See also this, a better sourced version from Haaretz, the English-language version Israeli newspaper I far and away always most recommend as having the best journalistic standards and most open-minded stances.
The IDF presented a document Tuesday that was seized in the during a raid on the Ramallah office of Fuad Shubeiki, who heads the Palestinian Authority's financial apparatus. The document, which was sent to Shubeiki by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade....
Colonel Miri Eisen, a senior intelligence officer who presented the document, said that she did not have information on whether the transfer of funds was carried out, although since the letter was sent, several days after September 11, 2001, eight members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had carried out suicide bombings in Israel.
Eisen estimated Tuesday that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat never signed documents tying him to the terrorist activities of various organizations, but that Shubeiki's signature, who is part of Arafat's inner circle, testifies to the PA's involvement in acts of terror.
Not that there's an open question on that, in general; it's merely a totality of specifics that aren't yet in the Western public record.
Shubeiki was the individual who financed the purchase of the Karine A weapons ship from Iran in December 2001.
Dore Gold, an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said Tuesday, that Shubeiki had visited Baghdad in August 2001 so as to coordinate positions with the Iraqi government, and that in May 2001 he was present at a meeting in Moscow during which the draft for joint activities between Iran and the PA was agreed upon.
WOULD THAT IT WERE TRUE: More wisdom from Nonviolence.org:
The prevailing myth of evil obfuscates the fact that the enemy is human, and that the enemy acts with reason. When we discover the reason for any act of violence we can take steps to remedy the cause of violence rather than fuel the cycle of violence with violent retaliation.
This is touching, and easy to believe if you lack all knowledge of history.
Another page tells us "What You Can Do: [...] Protest all military interventions." Yes, all of them. Don't think. Just protest. No moral judgment is required. No context matters, no cause need be considered, no justice invoked. Just protest. Acquire no knowledge, consider no moral complexities. Just protest.
And all will be for the best, in this best of all possible worlds.
KILLING CIVILIANS: Here is the view of someone at "Nonviolence.org." Here is the view of a foul militarist, a military man, a trained killer, who obviously is capable of letting slip the dogs of war at any moment, and who surely has no regard for the poodles of peace.
Read the two pieces, and you decide who has thought longer, harder, and better, about the morality and place of killing civilians in war. Decide whose view you'd rather have applied to you and yours.
Here are a couple of samples of the thinking of Clark Rieke of "Nonviolence.org":
One, it is false that civilians in a democracy are innocent. Civilians in a democracy are responsible citizens. [...] The killing of soldiers is not less evil than the killing of civilians, and the killing of civilians is not more evil than the killing of soldiers. One emotion behind this faulty reasoning is that civilians understandably identify closer with killed civilians than killed soldiers.
the faulty rule against targeting civilians is counterproductive when it is used to demonize the enemy. The purpose of demonizing is to increase the emotions for war (putting soldiers in harms way) rather than seek a mutually beneficial peace settlement. Negotiating with terrorists for peace is a more reasonable way of reducing further killing than demonizing them.
MORE MORE MORE: Can't stand any Moore? He's back! The Diary is up again! The weirdness once more pours forth!
Mike can't pay his rent. He travels in time. Let's deconstruct:
I am being evicted today, Good Friday, from my office. I had just one week left to edit my film, but the landlord -- heartless bastard! -- is having me tossed out for non-payment of rent. Back in October, my publisher, HarperCollins, was supposed to pay me for the work I did in writing "Stupid White Men." Citing "the tragic events of 9-11" (a mantra that seems to have been repeated by every business in America as they've shamelessly used the dead of that day to justify their obscene layoffs and cutbacks) the publisher claimed they did not have to pay me until the book was "published."
Where to begin? First, Mike isn't being evicted from his dwelling -- and it's been a hard life, having to fly around the country on first-class air fares, being put up in fancy hotels, and chauffeured around with an entourage to meet adoring fans; we should all suffer such hardship -- but from his office; I rather imagine he can write his next book anywhere there's a computer -- maybe even from his upscale West Side Manhattan apartment. Oh, he's in a scary situation all right; why, it's almost like being homeless! Except not at all!
Turning from the harshness of his office landlord, we hear about his publisher. I've worked on and off -- admittedly far more often off than on -- in NYC publishing, particularly trade book publishing, since 1975. I know how book contracts are written, and while there are innumerable variations, commonly an advance is split into two, three, or four parts; a payment upon signing is typical, as is a payment upon delivery of the manuscript -- this may or may not be split into parts -- and a payment upon publication is normal. Mike, I'm willing to bet, got his first two payments. He's whining that his payment upon publication was being held until -- oh, the inhumanity, the criminality! -- publication!
What a terrible "claim" for the publisher to make! They were going by the normal terms of the contract! (I bet.) Help! Come see the oppression inherent in the system! He's only getting hundreds of thousands of dollars at each stage (in all probability), and will make millions in royalties! Oppression! Repression! Evil!
[I elide his further plaint, until:] I got my last paycheck for this film 12 months ago, so I was counting on the fee for the book to get me through the rest of 2001.
I would bet large amounts that this is, as phrased, a lie. Because it implies that the only fee he was getting, and had gotten, for the book, was the fee upon publication. That's almost impossible to believe.
I don't believe he has a completely incompetent agent, and that's the only way he would not have received his first partial advance upon signing the contract, and as I said, most likely another chunk upon acceptance of his manuscript. So while I can't prove it absent a copy of his contract, my bet, based on standard publishing practice, is that he is implicitly lying by omission, trying to make us believe he is being stiffed of all money from HarperCollins up to now. Gosh, they must just love working with him.
When that didn't happen (as most of you know, the publisher wanted me to "tone down" the stuff about Bush in the book, and I wouldn't, so there was a standoff until they finally backed down),
Yes, unsurprisingly, they wouldn't pay him for an accepted manuscript until they accepted it; it's up to the publisher to decide what to publish, and what they wish to accept; if Moore, or any writers, don't like that, they are free to pull the book and get someone else to publish it, or publish it themselves.
things began to fall apart. After I had already gone a few months without being able to pay the office rent where our edit room was located, the landlord went to court and got an order -- to have the sheriff toss me out on the curb! Suddenly, visions of Deputy Fred from "Roger & Me" were dancing in my head! Well, I negotiated with the landlord to give me a little more time, and the angels from Salter Street Films in Canada (who have backed this documentary from the start) agreed to pay some of the rent.
Oh, it's such a hard life. His landlord is nice enough to grant him more time, and it's just his damned office, and other people will chip in to help, too.
And, let us not forget, Moore is so broke that he can whip out twenty-dollar bill after twenty dollar bill to hand out as undocumented campaign contributions, and he can hand out refunds to fans on his book tour.
Am I hallucinating, or is this not the guy who proclaimed:
"I'm a millionaire, I'm a multi-millionaire. I'm filthy rich. You know why I'm a multi-millionaire? 'Cause multi-millions like what I do. That's pretty good, isn't it? There's millions that believe in what I do. Pretty cool, huh?"
Back at the diary:
But the landlord would only accept the money on the condition that we leave the premises on Easter weekend.
And, thus, here I am, using the last computer still hooked up to electricity, writing you this letter. I can't get past either the irony or the yin/yang of this moment: I've got the number one bestselling book in the country -- and the landlord has just cut my off my electricity in the middle of this sentence! I don't even know if the computer has backed-up this letter! Agggghhh!!...
And thus the miracle of sentences written on a computer without electricity. Now, obviously Moore wrote that, if there's any truth to it at all, after electricity was restored. But does he bother to acknowledge this? No. One could put this down to artlessness and clumsiness of writing, but the pattern of "I'm so oppressed" is too consistent to see it as other than what it obviously is: we should all feel so sorry for what a victim Michael Moore is.
And that makes me mad.
There are a lot of victims. Real victims. There are a lot of people truly homeless here in the US. We should care about them and help them. Not about millionare Mike Moore's office eviction.
There are, if we want to be sympathetic to people Moore probably would give lip service to, a lot of Palestinians in the West Bank living in dire circumstances, more dire than ever right now. If they're not terrorists, we can, and should, care about them.
We can care about the people being rended into body parts, and less, in Israel every day; some of them still have offices: just not body parts, or lives; others will now never be old enough to have an office.
We can care about the victims of disease and war all over the globe right now. We can care about a lot of true victims.
Mike Moore aint' a victim. That he bleeds so for himself is, well, outrageous. No, I take that back; feeling sorry for yourself is a privilege I wouldn't begrudge anyone. Asking us to feel sorry for him is what is outrageous.
Okay, I've returned from my encounter with the landlord in the hallway and the lights are back on. How surreal is this? Now comes a message from the publisher that the book goes on sale in the U.K. and Ireland this week, and they've also just sold the rights for the book in China, Japan, Korea, France, Germany, and... THE LINE JUST WENT DEAD! The phone company has disconnected our phone lines. AARRRGGHH!!...
Okay, the phones are back up.
Can we guess that the conveyance of some money was elided by Mike here? No, the phone company must have turned the line back on out of kindness. And, y'know, we've already read Mike earlier in his diary talk about having a cell phone. So: he's got a cell, and he pays to have the landline turned on, but doesn't tell us that.
Moore goes on and on and on and on, crying his tears for himself, literally, but I don't have the stomach to repeat any more, or to comment. It's superfluous. I'm genuinely sorry he's had deaths in his family in recent months, but if Michael Moore is "Inside His Own Private Golgotha," well, he's not doing much of a job keeping it private. Why should he? He's got a book to sell, and a movie, and an image to generate.
TODAY'S BEAT ON THE JEW NEWS: Yes, it's the EuroJew news! Today, Germany:
BERLIN (Reuters) - A group of seven or eight men attacked two American Jews walking along one of Berlin's smartest streets after they visiting a synagogue, German police said Tuesday. [...] Police said the two 21-year-old New Yorkers were walking along Kurfuerstendamm, an avenue in west Berlin famous for its upmarket cafes and stores, after 9:30 p.m. when the group of young men with "southern" features appeared.
German police usually use the expression "southern appearance" to describe people from southern Europe, north Africa or the Middle East.
The men asked whether the bearded New Yorkers were Jewish before pushing them to the ground. Police said the victims' black and white clothes identified them as Orthodox Jews.
One of the victims suffered facial wounds needing hospital treatment. The attackers fled the busy street and have not been caught.
In a separate incident, a swastika was painted on a Jewish memorial in Berlin in the early hours of Tuesday.
And this is what it comes to:
[...] Most of Germany's significant Jewish sites are guarded by armed policemen. Barricades surround buildings such as Berlin's historic New Synagogue, and water cannon and armored vehicles are also in evidence.
This is what it takes. This is our time. This is our day.
THE BLOG COLLECTIVE: One of these pieces of professional journalism about blogging, good readers, is a superb, well-written, utterly clueful and spot-on analysis. The other dumps that pot of jello over the writer's head and we see him flip his lips back and forth with his fingers, allowing us to debate whether that's spittle or drool, drool or spittle, he's emitting. Could it be sprool? Drittle? Read them both! Decide which is which! The prize is getting to know which writer is worth reading again in future!
For more sheer chewing pleasure, bet on which piece will rate highest on Blogdex and Daypop! Is idiocy more infamous than sagacity is famous? You, the people, decide, here at The Blogger's Court!
You can also, and you even may also, read the masterfully baiting e-mail the sprooling Alex Beam sent James Lileks: remember, it takes a professional to be this tactful! (Don't miss Lilek's non-pareil brilliant choices for his ideal newspaper staff.)
Whatever you do, don't link to Asparagirl: it makes her nervous. (Even if she did write this.)
STILL NO ANTI-SEMITISM IN FRANCE is a newspaper headline I expect to see in some European newspaper, or perhaps the Grauniad soon. Let's see:
Three French synagogues were set on fire over the Passover-Easter weekend, which ended today, a public holiday. Besides the Orthodox Or Aviv synagogue in Marseille, which was burned to the ground, one in Strasbourg had its doors set ablaze the day after an anti-Israel demonstration, and in Lyon, 15 masked men crashed two cars through the gates of a synagogue and set them afire.
But these are just casual things. Nothing organized about that. Just high spirits in action from 15 masked men who randomly found themselves in the same place, with two cars, at the same time, and nothing to do.
Shots were fired at a kosher butcher shop near Toulouse, though no one was injured, and a young Jewish couple were badly beaten in Villeurbanne, in the Rhone region.
Rememberthe problem will grow bigger if we talk too much about it. Thank goodness that's not been done in France. Just imagine how large the "problem" -- that's the "Jewish problem," right? -- would be now.
In Brussels, the floors and pews of an Orthodox synagogue were damaged when five firebombs were thrown inside, the police said.
On Sunday, Le Journal du Dimanche reported that a Jewish couple in their 20's were wounded in an attack on Saturday afternoon in the town of Villeurbanne, near Lyon. The woman, who is pregnant, was reportedly hospitalized overnight.
Nah, nothing to worry about. It could never happen here.
VISA FRENZY A MANUFACTURED OUTRAGEasserts the Cogent Provocateur, Seattle's rather anonymous "RonK," at his blog.
I pointed out a few days before RonK wrote this piece that the famed notices sent to the flight school regarding Mohammad Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi's visa status were sent by private contractor ACS Inc., not the INS itself. But RonK presents a far more detailed and, dare I say, cogent analysis, suggesting that the odds of both notices being produced on the same day, given the differences in the two cases, are in his opinion over 100-1, and thus implying a deliberate event, and asking Quo vadis?, with the answer obviously pointing to those who want to target INS.
I don't know if he's correct or not, but it's an analysis I found most interesting, and I recommend reading it; the rest of his page is well worth checking out, as well, as it's written with precision and intelligence well above that of most blogs. I'll be, you know, like Arnold said, back.
BLOG WATCH A is going to be extremely erratic, at best, for the time being. I've suddenly had to raise several other time-consuming tasks to a far higher priority, leaving me with the choice of spending a significant amount of time taking notes on other blogs and blogwatching them, or spending that time on reading articles on my own, and blogging about them; I figure, immodestly, you get the better deal from my own links and thoughts. So Blog Watch A ain't dead, but it's, uh, going very irregular until more free time springs forth. Easy come, easy go.
4/01/2002 06:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
LAND OF A THOUSAND DANCES: I used to have the original single of Patti Smith doing "Piss Factory" on one side, and "Hey, Joe," on the other, which I bought long before Horses came out.
Plus various bootleg tapes; I think Paul Williams passed me on a couple. That was when I was fanatically catching her at CBGB's with Lenny Kaye, and Jay Dee Daugherty, and wossname the piano player, or just after she moved on from doing poetry with some musical background at St. Marks Church.
WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR REALITY AUGMENTED?: No, that's not a reference to the eight million hoaxes posted on the web today, from the Register's AOL/TW blog buy-outto Wil Wheaton's "crash" and announcment that Wesley will have a recurring role on Enterprise. Instead, you may choose optical see-through or video see-through. Theoretically, you eventually get an entire world annotated, kinda like sensory blogging. A new career possibility blooms.
If you'd prefer April Fools, you can try the Grauniadquiz, or check the "Museum of Hoaxes" top ten. (My favorite is the Grauniad's San Serriffe.)
GODDAMNIT!: You probably don't remember the case of the cussing canoeist from 1999, but I do, and Michigan's Court of Appeals has finally overturned his sentence, and declared unconstitutional the state's 105-year-old law against using vulgar language in front of women and children. It's a goldarned good thing.
4/01/2002 03:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
BLOOGER ETIQUETTE: Nick Denton asks about blogger netiquette, and has some answers from Rebecca Blood, as well as from Cory Doctorow.
It's terribly presumptuous of an egg such as I, who have been blogging only since the end of December, to offer opinions to such blogging elders as those three, but, hey diddly doh, I've also been writing stuff no different form my blogging since 1995 on Usenet, and in sf fanzines since 1973, and reading same, so I do have those opinions, and will offer them when I think they might be of use.
Is a conversation with a weblog author off-the-record, unless otherwise specified, or on-the-record?
Here's the deal bloggers might want to adopt en masse perhaps, as it's a system proven to work easily and clearly for over half a century in the world of science fiction fanzines: Stuff that isn't clearly for public consumption should not be printed without either permission or very good cause for not asking it. But when you want to make clear that something is private, you say it is "DNQ," Do Not Quote. And that clearly labels it. DNQ means keep it confidential under pretty much all circumstances, printed and oral. "DNP," Do Not Print, is a bit less restrictive, and means it's okay to mention in private conversation to someone you trust, but do not print or post it. DNQ and DNP: they work. Give it a try. This is not DNQ.
Prominently saying on your blog "mail sent regarding this blog will be considered submitted for publication" is fair, but it's still polite to check before doing so if you as the blogger have any doubt .
As regards the other queries Nick poses, my opinions are: a) responses are never obligatory -- many things are, in fact, best passed over in silence; b) check with someone else before posting their anecdote, and at the very least, give them a more than reasonable deadline to respond before you post; c) when telling an oral anecdote, mention you've blogged it -- this is no different than any other "have you heard this before?" situation; d) if someone feels you've been unfair to their point of view, give a pointer to their own version; giving them space in your own blog is optional -- but do give that pointer -- I think it's obligatory politeness.
Incidentally, I don't think "angry-white-man" is at all a fair description of John Stryker's persona as he comes across to me, at least, in his blog. I can think of a number of bloggers I'd drop that label on, and he's not one. I think both Nick and the Sarge are misreading cues from each other and bridling unnecessarily, but, then, it's not for me to tell someone how to react.
DEAFNESS AS A CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD: part of the Deaf identity movement.
The easy reaction is to knee-jerk against this. And absolutely, the cost to society in deliberately seeking such a baby, and then asking for life-long government subsidized help for it, is probably not going to make a case libertarians will rush to support, though they might support such a choice absent the ADA-compelled government aid. One of the things I liked about this piece of journalism, however, is that it leaves conclusions up to the reader.
WRONG, WRONG, WRONG: These two bozos' speech was hateful and idiotic, but it's free speech, and there's no way it should be prosecuted.
In a decision released Friday, Judge William Harrington wrote that Upshaw said his language was "of a political nature, intended to spur debate and thought." But the judge ruled that the words "were plainly intended to incite the crowd to violence, and not simply to express a point of view."
Judge Neil Ross ruled that the time and place of the speech made it reasonable to infer that Harvey knew "that public inconvenience, annoyance and alarm would result."
Yes, the violence would have been against Upshaw, and absolutely such unpopular speech is protected by the First Amendment. Ditto that Harvey's speech caused "annoyance and alarm." This is core protected speech, the essence of what freedom of speech is about. Take it away from them, it's taken away from thee and me.
3/31/2002 05:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
FIGHT TERROR BY GOING LO OR HIGH?: The WashPo looks at high-tech proposals for fighting terror.
They also look at the journey of Richard Reid, the Shoe bomber, how he fell in with al Queda, and the fact that more such as he are out there. Remember, it was while on the track of this story that Daniel Pearl was killed.
SPARKY FANS sent here by Tom Tomorrow may wonder where the "whole lot of thought into what defines the left, specifically in terms of the war" may be found. I wonder, too, since I didn't do any such thing, I swear, m'lud. I just dashed off my usual off-the-cuff response. My thoughts on politics are scattered, of course, throughout my archives.
As I told Dan ("Tom") in e-mail, and others many times, I've come to loath pre-fabricated politics, and buying political packages. I'm a dim-sum politico, I find the "left-right" continuum of political analysis direly simplistic, and I find focus on where a position fits into it tiresome in the extreme.
If the time comes to start lining up "liberals" to be sent to their rooms, I'll pick up the yellow badge and pluck it on my arm, but I started out somewhat from the left as a youth, hold a lot of libertarian notions (up to a point), respect and agree with quite a lot of conservative ideas, and all around am most fairly labeled an eclectic who lurches in different directions depending upon the issue.
Dan more or less pointed people at my links, perhaps not focusing on the way they, too, are eclectic. I don't link to blogs because I endorse or agree with them; I'm more concerned with well-put argument, clarity of expression and thought, and interesting links, and am happy to have my ideas challenged.
I'd rather have any of that then link to blogs merely because they agree with me, but do so sloppily and poorly. I think very little, frankly, of the way so many blogs link to, and endlessly praise, various blogs, merely because they are in Ideological Solidarity with said blogger, no matter that the blogger has nothing original to say, but says it in sufficiently aggravated tone. Yet other blogs may have some interesting links, but rarely rise above muddleheaded and superficial analyses.
I try not to link to such blogs, but I also don't link to various blogs simply because I've not yet read them, or I've gotten picky, or I'm just not seeing them saying anything I don't see elsewhere, and I prefer to keep my links to something vaguely resembling a reasonable length; I feel no compulsion whatsoever to be comprehensive; you can find that in plenty of other blogs.
All of which is a longwinded way of saying I don't endorse blogs I link to, and I don't look for blogs depending upon their ideology, left, right, libertarian, socialist, up, or down.
This is an utterly non-comprehensive list; they just happen to be folk I currently read (a couple, such as Patrick, and Avedon, are ancient friends). The Sideshow_, The Daily Howler, and Junius would be among the most clearly left-wing. Anyone want to suggest other non-right-wing blogs, feel free. And do keep in mind that this movie just played over at Nick Denton's recently, and was commented on by various, including Patrick, and Ginger Stampley. (If left-wing readers would like to prove they can hit the "donate" button in the upper left better than others, that would be delightful; I'm entirely poor and deserving, I assure you; the amount can be dropped to just a $1 or $2, and seriously, I can really use it.)
MARMALADE: Ever wonder how it was made, or wanted to know more about it? Probably not, but here it is. I'd be curious to try lemon with Earl Gray tea; orange with Champagne; orange with whisky; and lime, kumquat and blood orange, myself.
YOUR GENES HAVE GOOD RHYTHM, YOU CAN DANCE TO THEM: Following Jaron Lanier's "let's encode literature into the entrons of cockroaches," we have:
An executive with one Silicon Valley company is now suggesting that DNA sequences be converted to digital music, arguing that they might then be protected under copyright law. [...] The technology to convert the coding of a strand of DNA — essentially a string of letters, a different letter for each of the four nucleotides — into music is already available. Free or inexpensive programs like Bio2Midi and ProteinMusic take such character strings and come up with musical compositions.
The outcome of the war now under way between the Israelis and Palestinians is vital to the security of every American, and indeed, I believe, to all of civilization. Why? Quite simply because Palestinians are testing out a whole new form of warfare, using suicide bombers — strapped with dynamite and dressed as Israelis — to achieve their political aims. And it is working.
The world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of "desperation" stemming from the Israeli occupation. That is a huge lie. Why? To begin with, a lot of other people in the world are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves. More important, President Clinton offered the Palestinians a peace plan that could have ended their "desperate" occupation, and Yasir Arafat walked away. Still more important, the Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to suicide: nonviolent resistance, à la Gandhi. A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.
Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.
Some say Friedman is all wobbly and soft, but he calls for Israel "to deliver a military blow that clearly shows terror will not pay" and that:
the U.S. should declare that while it respects the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism, it will have no dealings with the Palestinian leadership as long as it tolerates suicide bombings. Further, we should make clear that Arab leaders whose media call suicide bombers 'martyrs' aren't welcome in the U.S.
THE LEFT -- WAR NO MORE?: Dan Perkins ("Tom Tomorrow") asked about lefty blogs, and today clarifies that:
So, no--no party lines. I guess what I mean by "lefty" is bloggers who are more skeptical than not of the war effort....
This startled me a bit, because I thought both the sensible left and the idiot left have plenty of other elements to define them.
I find the linkage of the left with being automatically anti-war, any war, dubious, but possibly that's wishful thinking, because it's a primary factor in pushing me further and further away from that [large] element of the left.
The left I'm aware of passionately supported fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and were, of course, dubbed "premature anti-fascists" as their consolation prize for losing.
The left I'm for were all for fighting Hitler, save for those communists who took their line from the CPs, aka Moscow, and defended the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
Even the Communists -- and yes, when I most identified as a leftist, I identified as an anti-Communist leftist, since I knew the history of leftism -- supported, of course, the revolution to overthrow the Czar, as well as, evilly, the revolution to overthrow Russian democracy and seize dictorial power for themselves, as well as, of course, the resulting Civil War and war to conquer the neighboring republics and form the Russian Empire known as the USSR.
Similarly, fights against all sorts of local fascisms were always supported by various overlapping flavors of leftists in ensuing decades.
I always thought that fighting for freedom, against oppression, and against repressive fascist regimes was a leftist notion, though not exclusively so. I don't see where Islamo-fascism gets a ticket out. I don't see where leftists should turn against liberating Arabs, Afghans, and the like, from the heavy hand of racist, anti-semitic tyranny.
I'm with John Lloyd in this, whose excellent piece, from the sensible left, was published in the Guardian/Observer two weeks ago.
The left is right to always question the need for war. But a blind anti-Americanism risks betraying the left's anti-fascist heritage.
These traditions - of pacifism, individualism and anti-fascism now meet another: anti-Americanism, not confined to the left in developed states, but most virulent on it. [...] But there is now a narrative of the left - complete in itself in the way such narratives are - which sees in the US an imperial predator whose actions - all actions - are conditioned by this aspect of its being.
This narrative has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian: rather as predestinarians divided humanity into those whose actions could never be wrong and those whose actions could never be right, so this strain of left critique arrogates to itself the first and confers on the US the second. It is important not to confuse this grand, totalising critique with criticism, from left or right. The latter is essential for governments, most essential for governments with such awful power as the US commands. But the totalising critique is an intellectual construct, derived from the techniques of 19th century philosophy, which bends all facts to fit the ideological line.
But the view, which the far left in Europe powerfully expresses, that in a consideration of action against Iraq the folly, imperialism and crimes of America are the only matter which may enter the discussion is an abdication of the left's own attachment to enlightenment rationalism.
It also abandons, or at least suppresses, its own anti-fascist credentials.
This is exactly right. Go read the rest. Any "left" that operates on this basis, I want no part of. I surely hope this, and reflexive "supporting the stability of third-world tyranny is preferable to supporting war against it" are not defining elements of other than the Idiot Left, because I should hate to see the Left fall entirely to the idiots.
See also what I said when inspired by Michael Walzer's must-read Dissentpiece.
That a "Vietnam Syndrome" affected US military culture and political culture long ago became Accepted Wisdom, because it was true. What there has been extraordinarily little discussion of, at least in my view, has been explication of the "Vietnam Sydrome of the Left," how the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the rise to dominance of the baby boomer New Left, overthrowing the Old Left as bearers of the mantle of the Left Line in popular discourse, affected and changed the narrative of the Left in America and much of the West, and, in retrospect in my view, greatly to the detriment of the Left, bringing to the fore this knee-jerk anti-Americanism, replacing the traditional leftist view of America as a breeding ground, and supporter, of freedom and equality.
Blinders were put on, allowing only the viewing of what America may have done wrong, preventing the seeing of anything America does right.
Of course, although historians such as Todd Gitlin were writing this history of the left as long ago as the early Seventies, when I was eagerly reading it, few leftists have ever had much sense of or knowledge of leftist history, instead riding on a vogue of contemporary down-with [capitalism, globalization, polluters, Republicans, contras, corporations, etc.] that is as much a politics of feel-good, feel-righteous as is that of those on the Right whose chimes are rung by snarling at [those liberals, the nanny state, pacifists, taxes, class warfare, big government, redistributionism, the Clintons].
If a lot more lefists studied a lot more leftist history (and some do, I hastily say), with a stress on the internal and conflicting threads, particularly including how the Communist elements became internally imperialist elements and then split into the pro-Moscow and Trotskyite lines, both the enemies of social democrats and simple liberals, but also including the rise of the New Left in the Sixties, and the fragmentation of the Left in the post-Vietnam era, the Left might be far further along the way to meaningful and helpful critiques of society and polity, rather than in its current rather rotted state. Wouldn't that be nice?
A VACUUM OF ACTUAL USAGE: Another robot vacuum cleaner story.
Doing the housework could soon be a relaxing experience, thanks to the world's first robotic vacuum cleaner. Developed by the Japanese electronics giant Matsushita, the robot is slightly bigger than a football and has the intelligence to avoid falling downstairs or crashing into walls.
Fitted with 50 sonic and infra-red sensors, it can work for up to an hour on a single battery charge after using its sensors to measure the size of each room that needs to be cleaned.
Is it just me, or are these robot vacuum cleaners becoming the jet-packs of our era? I'll be impressed when I start seeing them in real people's homes.
Also, don't most people, when they vacuum, have to move a fair amount of furniture around to get an adequate job done? On the other hand, while version 1.0, and perhaps 2.0, likely will have bugs, probably 3.0 will actually work well. When will they start emptying their own trash bags?
CAR BOOT SALES AND CLAY PIGEONS -- THREATS AND MENACES: Not on par with national ID cards -- heavens, one can scarcely imagine Britain turning to those, eh? -- but every day in every way it does seem as if Britain, along with the US, becomes a bit less free.
SHOOTING groups and farmers have expressed concern about Government proposals to require the organisers of car boot sales, motorcycle scrambling, weekend markets, clay pigeon shoots and war games to obtain planning permission for their activities.
At present temporary activities are allowed to operate up to 28 days a year on any piece of suitable land without planning permission. Markets and motor racing are restricted to a maximum of 14 days.
THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGING: Out of San Francisco will come a bi-weekly newspaper, War Times, which will clearly be an anti-war paper, the Guardiantells us.
I think that's fine. I'll likely find it full of tomfoolery, but the more argument about issues there are, the healthier our democracies are, and I'm always happy to see more for sale in the marketplace of ideas, including the silliest of ideas.
If naught else, there's always more to mock. And, who knows, maybe the thing might have some good journalism?; hope springs eternal.
What makes us think it will be anti-war?: the first issue interviews Danny Glover, and one of the named backers is Noam Chomsky. I don't anticipate an editorial calling for the invasion of Iraq any time soon.
OH, THE FLEECE PULLOVER: That's what the Republican Party wants to give me for giving it to you. I, and you, too, can be Team Leaders, and give you official talking points. Slick.
Team Leaders get the inside scoop on what's going on at the Republican Party. Each week you will receive an update, The Team Leader, about the latest stories, bills, and actions around the country.
In addition to being given a "political edge" over the competition, you earn GOPoints for each Action Item completed. Action Items range from writing a letter to your editor to calling local voters and gauging public opinion. Leaders redeem their GOPoints for items ranging from fleece pullovers to mouse pads. All Team Leader gear is made in the USA.
"You will never forget this," the colonel said, standing atop a Humvee in front of a rusting Soviet-era hangar. "You will never forget that man or woman on your right or left. You will never forget the fact that you stood here in Afghanistan."
Unqualified Offerings (Jim Henley): Seder slaughter appalling, ethnic cleansing not useful, West Bank as useful a gift as a scorpion; Musharraf swirling round drain; Saddam should be deterred, otherwise he's not deterred; Dick Cheney's Madame Butterfly.
The Blogs of War (Dr. Frank): Eric Alterman and dueling pundits -- maybe who is right matters?; the Streets of San Francisco are full of zombies.
This Modern World (Dan Perkins): Afghan food drops less nutritious than claimed; blogosphere tilts on side: where's left? [haven't we seen this movie before, over at Nick Denton's? -ed]; Merry Pranksters fade away; Bush energy usage not so renewable; Afghan earthquake result of US "penetration bombs"; or maybe not; McGruff revealed to be pedophile; FOX decries coarsening of pop culture, swallows own tail; a Christian isn't very Christian; Marc Herold and critics: myths or menaces?; Alterman vs. Sullivan: blogging not "vanity," go see what Patrick Nielsen Hayden said.
BOB BARR: STILL NUTS: A federal judge overturned Barr's pet law that, er, barred DC voters from circulating or voting on a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Barr vows to fight on, nonetheless.
"The people must not be allowed to have their way! I, and the Republican Party, are here to protect the people from themselves, and their irresponsible so-called 'free speech,'" avowed Barr. "It's our proud tradition, and what we want to be known for!"
Okay, I made that whole quote up. Barely. Here's what he really said:
"Clearly, the court today has ignored the constitutional right and responsibility of Congress to pass laws protecting citizens from dangerous and addictive narcotics," he said. "This initiative was about opening the door to drug legalization, and whether federal taxpayer dollars should be used to support a drug legalization agenda."
LET THEM SOAR: New Yorkers want to keep the Towers of Light. Anyone who didn't see this coming is short a few lightbulbs.
"At least for the time being — and maybe for all time — New Yorkers want those twin beams of light to soar," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. He released a poll yesterday showing that 39 percent of 1,038 registered voters in the city feel the lights should stay on until a permanent memorial is built and that 36 percent feel the lights themselves should be permanent.
Twenty percent feel the lights should be turned off April 13, as planned. And that is what will happen, said Kent L. Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society, the chief sponsor of the project, in part because it was approved by various community groups, government agencies and victims' family members as a brief, finite gesture.
HOW TO LOOK POINTLESSLY STUPID: CRY ME A RIVERS: Some blogs pick up ticks from each other, or perhaps their larger political culture, and perpetuate them, and, in my opinion, do their credibility no service.
One such is the ever-hilarious, knee-slappingly ha-ha of referring to Geraldo Rivera as "Jerry Rivers." This goes back to an old lie about Rivera, dating from the Seventies, that he was "really" born "Jerry Rivers" but switched to "Geraldo Rivera" to gain miniority Hispanic "status" and "cachet."
This is, however, as I said, a complete lie. It was a smear.
I'm not a Geraldo fan, though I do recall the days when he did his Willowbrook work in NYC, which was truly a service, and he did some other fine local journalism as well. Since then he went on to what is, at best, a mixed bag of puffery, journalism good and bad, and considerable foolishness. I come not to praise Geraldo, nor to bury him, but merely to point out the idiocy of attempting to denigrate him by -- oh, the wit, the cleverness, the sheer originality of it! -- calling him "Jerry Rivers." Gosh, that puts him in his place, doesn't it?
If you want to have at Rivera, shoot to kill: don't do the equivalent of dumping a black kettle of jello on your head and then pointing your finger at someone else and crying "how funny-looking he is!"
Especially if your point is that he doesn't check his stories, and perpetuates falsehoods, and displays poor judgement. Gosh, that kettle sure looks funny on your head.
I MUST TRY THIS: Barry Sonnenfeld viewsDr. Strangelove and:
Mr. Sonnenfeld said he frequently ended letters to studio executives with a final paragraph that is taken directly from a mad, rambling letter that General Ripper sends to the Pentagon. It says, "God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural fluids."
Matt Welch: Chronicle vs. Wolfowitz; conspiracy theories: not Jews, just sheep; Billy Wilder, RIP; tiny little penises the best; Times "Web is dead" missing numbers; Dr. Frank the Cole Porter of punk; Alex Cockburn spied by some Arpagandalf guy; French trash-talker polling at 2.5%.
The Blogs of War (Dr. Frank): Alex Cockburn not charming; bin Laden e-mail; Frank vampire, picture can't be shown in blog; Frank won't hug you, no matter how many Ba'aths you take a day; Sullivan reality check.
Sgt. Stryker: Reading Shirer and asking "why?"; anti-antiwar march -- White House not promising good Babylon 5 ep; enjoy Italian food.
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick): Farber nails SCOTUS; dolorous pontifications bad for complexion; Saudis and Iraqis kissy-face -- not with us; don't drift on Pakistan; right-of-return poison pill; Prez "putting onus" on Arafat insufficient -- should put something else on him; you're not obese, you just listened to the government; gift cultures don't survive -- thousands of blogs to go dark.
Through The Looking Glass ("Charles Dodgson"): News bias is as bias does; the rich are different than me and thee -- they don't have incinerators in their neighborhoods; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner, Tells All about the World Bank.
COLORFUL CONFUSION: Justin Slotman stumbles into a bit of it while discussing "If Miss Berry is 'black' because her father is black, why isn't she 'white' because her mother is white?"
The immediate answer, of course, is that there is no such thing as "human race" in scientific terms; this is a fact which remains shockingly little-known. The entire concept that humanity is scientifically or genetically divisible into meaningfully differentiated "races," as opposed to a huge number of genetic clusters, is false. It's a product of the 19th Century pseudo-science racial theory of such as Joseph Arthur Gobineau, and Houston StewartChamberlain, as well as of earlier European theorists, such as the 17th Century Francois Bernier, and the 18th Century Carolus Linnaeus and Johann Blumenbach.
Categorizing people as "white," "African," or "Asian" lumps together endlessly diverse clusters of ethnographies who have as little in common genetically with each other as they do with members of the other categories. Ashley Montagu began pointing this out in the 1960's. The carry-over today of racial classification in society is a remnant of past racial categorizing, in which a drop of "black" blood was deemed to "contaminate" that of the "white" race, but not, of course, vice versa.
So when Justin says
Social reality probably trumps genetic reality a majority of the time in determining what race you are, people's perceptions of you counting for so much and all, but genetic reality has the advantage of being objectively verifiable.
he's half right -- all that is being considered when one judges someone "white" or "black" is social categorization, which is arbitrary, whether it's self-chosen or externally applied. Where he's wrong is in stating that there's some "genetic reality" here that is "objectively verifiable." There isn't. There are endless clusters of genetic traits, sure, including degrees of melannin, height, and endless other markers, but they don't define into large sets of "similar" "races." That'sanendlesslycommonfallacy it would be wonderful for society to learn is, in fact, a fallacy.
3/28/2002 07:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
MERITOCRACIES OF WRITING: Matt Welch points out a profile of blogger Dr. Frank in the East Bay Express, which quotes the following from Dr. Frank:
There is an absolute equality of opportunity, yet it's also a true meritocracy, since the ones with the most appealing or interesting content get the most attention; there's very little subversion of this meritocracy, very little incentive for people to pander to the lowest common denominator to increase "market share," since the financial angle, if it's there at all, is minimal at best. At least, that's the ideal.
What I find so amusing about this, which Matt couldn't know, is that this is the precise theory of fanzine writing and the sf fan culture that Ted White put forth in formal essays at least as long ago as the Seventies, if not earlier, particularly in a piece in Richard Bergeron's Warhoon entitled "The Meritocracy of Fandom," and which had gained a wide, if not universal, degree of acceptance in the inner trufan fanzine fan culture, by the early Eighties, being repeated over and over, back and forth, as received wisdom.
The theory as applied then, as it does in blogging, has some suceptability to niggling around the edges, as there are factors that are not purely meritocratic that can and do come into play in allocating one's place in the scheme of acclaim, respect, and popularity, but overall, I thought it was largely correct when Ted was writing about it decades ago, correct when it was updated to apply to reputations and local cultures on certain Usenet newsgroups -- such as rec.arts.sf.fandom -- and I think it's overall correct now in regard to blogging, as Dr. Frank writes, and Matt applauds.
People who earn respect via quality of writing or analysis or skill in choosing links, or in other demonstrably appreciated fashion, are linked to, and read by more people, and earn more respect, and the positive feedback cycle takes over, subject to revision if the quality of the blog dives. Mediocre blogs meander along with lesser degree of attention.
The primary distortion of this interaction that I see is that people of particularly enthusiastic ideological predilection often have a tendency to link to blogs of similar ideology regardless of, in some cases it seems to me, other inherent quality of writing or thought.
But clustering of belief systems and the people who hold them is utterly normal, and while it may distort a purer "meritocracy" of blogging, it's not as if there's anything to be done about it, nor do I see any reason why anything should be done about it; I simply note it, and otherwise expect the "meritocracy of blogging" meme to spread, if for no other reason than it makes popular bloggers feel good about themselves. It must therefore be true! No, really.
MORE AMUSEMENT: Belatedly reading the profile of Dr. Frank, I see the Express includes a link to a Jon Langford album. Jon, formerly of the Mekons is also brother to David, well-known science fiction writer, critic, and fan, editor of the essential sf newsletter, Ansible, and also a good friend of mine for more than twenty years. There really are only about five thousand people on the planet, aren't there?
ROLLING STONES: Safiya Huseini's sentence to be buried in a hole in the ground so that only her head was exposed, so that she might then be stoned to death for alleged adultury in northern Nigeria, was overturned a few days ago. Now it's Amina Lawal Kurami who is going throught the same chain of events.
A court in the remote village of Bakori in the Nigerian state of Katsina today sentenced Amina Lawal Kurami to death after finding her guilty of having a baby out of wedlock. [...] Ms Kurami was found guilty after she was unable to produce four witnesses, as required under Islamic law, to support her claim that she had been "lured" into having sex with the man involved.
Nothing unfair there: who doesn't have four witnesses along when they are seduced or raped?
I seem to recall Glenn Reynolds asking where Amnesty International was on the Safiya Huseini case, by the way.
The news of her release was welcomed by Amnesty International, which had submitted a petition of 600,000 signatures protesting against the sentence. "It's great that she is out and is no longer facing the death penalty," said a spokesman.
Here's an interesting defense:
But Mr Imam told the court today that the child's father was in fact Ms Huseini's former husband, arguing that in accordance with Islamic teaching pregnancy can last for up to seven years.
This whole thing is a weapon in the fight between the groups, primarily in the north of Nigeria, that support sharia and those who do not; it's all part of the internecine factional/tribal/regional battling in that fragmented land, as well as, of course, part of the cultural battle over the humaneness of strict sharia. I'm just grateful we don't have governments trying to put all the Old Testament rules into contemporary legal operation.
BLOGGER BADMINTON, LIVE FROM THE WTC: Megan McCardle has responded to my points about DEPARTMENT OF HUD v. RUCKER. I presume her lack of a link to either what I said, or to this site, is an accidental omission; I make HTML glitches myself several times a day, and fix them as I catch them.
On substance, it appears that on some points of philosophy/policy, Megan and I will merely have to agree to disagree, as civilized folks are frequently wont to do. On a few other points, I'm still disagreeing over, at the least, her phrasing.
Gary Farber takes me to task for my post on public housing and drug use, saying that I read the decision incorrectly.
As a quibble of trivial proportion, I did not say that, but I'll agree that it's reasonable of Megan to interpret the body of what I said as implying that.
I didn't, but I apolologize if my post implied that the issue is whether criminal tenants can be evicted. The issue, of course, is whether criminal residents who aren't primary tenants can be evicted.
This may arguably be simply a matter of emphasis, perspective, and opinion, of course, but from my perspective, that is not at all the issue. Still. The issue, which is to say, the primary part of the decision I find objectionable, is that completely innocent tenants, criminal in no sense, can be evicted, because some other member of their household has, for instance, smoked a joint, at some time, anywhere in the world, and, in the words of the decision,
regardless of whether the tenant knew, or should have known, of the drug-related activity.
Call me wacky, but this seems unjust to me. It's an application of collective responsibility, and it's punishment of an innocent person for something they specifically are declared, in such cases, as having had no means of knowing about.
That's beyond unjust, and into Kafkaesque.
I may be misreading the opinion. But from what I have gleaned, the opinion is indeed on whether the behavior of secondary defendants is grounds for eviction.
Grounds for eviction of the innocent primary tenant, yes.
And it was directed at people who say, "Well, I didn't know little Fred was using drugs" or "Well, I can't control him". I worked in the public housing sector in the mid-nineties, and while I certainly could have missed a decision that allowed the eviction of primary tenants for the behavior of those who live with them, this was indeed a huge problem back then, and not one that the Court had addressed.
Here's a simple notion: if secondary tenants are committing crimes, arrest them. That is, I believe, a normal response to criminal activity.
Secondarily, if this is insufficient to protect other tenants, and I surely grant that there are such cases, then I see no problem with the Housing Authority having authority to evict the criminal secondary tenant. Surely that cures the problem? Surely that is sufficient, and need not be extended into the absurd cruelty of evicting purely innocent people?
Now, the obvious response is that Congress didn't intend this when they wrote the law, and this is a decision for the legislature, not the judiciary. I don't feel qualified to speak to the specifics of that in this case; I'm not familiar, at this time, in the slightest with the legislative history, what debate may or may not have taken place, and what the intent of Congress was.
I do feel qualified, however, to speak to what seems good policy and bad, just policy and unjust, and that is what I have and am speaking to. That the Court of Appeals found sufficient grounds for disallowing the acts that the Supreme Court has now relegitimized, however, suggests to me that the idea that the interpretation of the law allowing such evictions was unconstitutional is not off in cloud-cuckoo-land.
Naturally, this reasoning will not appeal to all, and there we fall back to more basic questions of juridicial philosophy, political philosophy, worldview, and base prejudices, and I do not desire to extend discussion that far, so I leave it be.
Keep in mind two things: the public housing authorities are dealing with an enormous problem of tenants claiming that they "didn't know" about drug use going on in their house, and thereby evading responsibility.
Conceivably so. The decision isn't, however, about drug use in their apartment. Were there drug use in the apartment, then obviously the primary tenant can be found to have necessarily reasonably been aware of it. Again, the decision specifically says
... any drug-related activity engaged in by the specified persons is grounds for termination, not just drug-related activity that the tenant knew, or should have known, about....
Not activity that the tenant reasonably can be adjudged to know about, nor behavior the tenant should have known about, but, specifically activity the tenant should not have known about. Which, again, is different from what you are talking about, Megan.
Some of them probably didn't. But some of them obviously did, and the Housing Authority couldn't do squat. The opinion also, as far as I can tell, is issuing a ruling on whether people can be evicted for behavior of the secondary tenants that the primary tenants can't control. Hard on the primary tenants -- but sons, boyfriends, daughters, etc. that the tenant "couldn't control" have also been historically a huge source of crime in the projects. If you can't evict the primary, how do you get rid of the sixteen year old of whom that tenant is a legal guardian?
Yes, it's "hard on the primary tenants." It's a lot harder on someone living in public housing, who has waited years and years on a waiting list to get in, who by definition is low-income, and can't find an equivalent residence at a comparable rent. It's not as if these are middle-class people, to whom moving is a vast inconvenience, but that is all. It means that you're condemning someone to something between a hovel, living in the street with a shopping cart, or possibly dying in the street. This is not an abstract issue to those on the bitter end of the stick.
As for how to get rid of the hypothetical sixteen-year-old: take them to court and have the criminal removed from the custody of the guardian, if that is the proper and just response. It's done all the time, after all. So this is a non-problem, so far as I can see, with a "solution" of terrible injustice.
Conclusion: Megan McCardle wraps up:
The Supreme Court was not ruling on whether these four people deserved to be evicted; it was ruling on a principal.
The principle, of course, affects thousands, perhaps more, of real people.
The question was whether you can, or cannot, evict primary tenants from public housing for the behavior of those who live with them, even if they can't control that behavior.
Even if they have no knowledge whatever of that behavior, and can't be expected to have any knowledge of that behavior, and even if the behavior is as trivial as having smoked a joint somewhere across town, once.
I say yes. It's hard on the tenants, but easier on their neighbors. So did the Supreme Court.
And I say that it's possible to tailor vastly narrower cures for the problem, and that that would eliminate the vast injustice this decision has opened the door to.
Conservatives and libertarians, and more than a few liberals, last I looked, opposed and were skeptical about the arbitrary use of power by big government. Living in constant fear of arbitrary eviction by the government because someone else might engage in acts you can't possibly know about, and allowing the government the broadest possible authority, rather than tailoring the authority to the narrowest necessary, relying on the grounds that, after all, the tenant can always challenge the governmental authority's decision, even though the burden now rests on the citzen to prove that they are... well, I'm not clear what defense this SCOTUS decision leaves hanging, if any -- this doesn't strike me as precisely clearly in line with conservative and libertarian, or liberal, principles. But, as always, it's all in one's perspective.
(Note: I obviously do not hold Megan responsible in the slightest for the fact that in her comments section, posters cheerfully respect civilized discussion of issues by calling for the "evisceration" of "this joker." At least one poster's declaring that the obvious solution is that there should be no government housing ["It's the government owned housing that's Soviet like, not the ruling"] is a stand on policy, if a not-unfamiliar demonstration of the ability to wish away real problems with abstract simple "solutions.")
MORE BONDAGE: Speaking of Cockburn, if you're a Bond fan, and in the mood for bursts of hysterical laughter, check out Alexander Cockburn's quite insane piece in which he literally blames Fleming for the entire CIA, Cold War, Vietnam, and pretty much all evil in the world, which is to say, the West.
All delivered while sternly denouncing how terrible every word of Fleming is, with detail from every novel and movie, which no doubt Cockburn was forced to watch a la A Clockwork Orange, and yet somehow he manages to repeatedly refer to "SPECTER."
(As an alternative, check Christopher Hitchens' take.) Anyone with passing knowledge of the history of COI, OSS, CIA, the Cold War and the like, knows how completely insanely wrong Cockburn's absurd claims are (he insists, for instance, that the notion that KGB used Bulgarian services as cut-outs was an invention of Fleming's; perhaps he could tell Georgi Markov this; whoops, no, Markov was killed by non-existent Bulgarians); what's marvelous is that he appears to believe what he's saying, apparently believing that reading Fleming and seeing Bond movies, and noting parallels to the real world, constitutes proof that the real events flowed from Fleming's influence, rather than vice versa, as is demonstrably so. Presumably countless readers of Counterpunch believe this tripe.
He has much to answer for. Without Fleming we would have had no OSS, hence no CIA. The cold war would have ended in the early 1960s. We would have had no Vietnam, no Nixon, no Reagan and no Star Wars.
JEWS, SCHMOOS, WHAT ABOUT THE DIKES?demands Alexander Cockburn, that fine upstanding leftist. Cockburn poo-poos reaction to Bill Graham's statements on the Nixon tapes, as well as Nixon's statements. "Why the shock?" asks Cockburn, asserting that the real story is that Graham was enthusiastic about bombing the North Vietnamese dikes, which would allegedly kill a million Vietnamese.
The trivial detail that this never happened isn't relevant, in Cockburn's view, to what the Big Story is. (Does Cockburn think Nixon neglected to take this step because of Nixon's well-known dovish concern for Vietnamese life, or what, I wonder?)
No, on to what Cockburn has to say about the Real Jewish Story:
It's supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much the Jews do control the media. Since three of the prime founders of Hollywood, were Polish Jews who grew up within fifty miles of each other in Galicia, it's reckoned as not so utterly beyond the bounds of propriety to talk about Jewish power in Hollywood, though people still stir uneasily. The economic and political commentator Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his web newsletter that even if the Jews don't control the media overall, it is certainly true to say that they control discussion of Israel in the media here.
Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish, with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, and with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts, they were trailing Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing about it, or were simply spying on US facilities. Some, posing as art students have been expelled, according to AP. Finally, there's Sharon's bloody repression of the Palestinians, and Israel's apparently powerful role in Bush's foreign policy, urging him into action against at least two of the axes of evil, Iraq and Iran.
And there Cockburn's piece just stops, as if he were killed in the act of typing, or the copy was sent accidentally incomplete.
But what a lovely farrago of Dark Hints he delivers about Jewish Power and Evil. Oh, of course "the Jews control discussion of Israel." It's not even worth debating, is it? They take their orders from the Elders of Zion, you know, and they all think alike, as everyone knows. And everyone has heard that the Unanthraxer is Jewish: you had, hadn't you? The Jews have an ancient history as poisoners, of course. Probably he was controlled by those Israeli spies we hear so much about. Note Cockburn's fine journalistic practice of citing and sourcing.
Of course, there's nothing anti-semitic in what Cockburn said; it's just good journalism, telling you what the mainstream press, controlled by the Jews won't let you hear. That Counterpunch site of his certainly is brave, publishing this, and so enhancing its credibility with these truths.
At least, that's the line I'm told to put out tonight by the Elders Council. My orders tomorrow may change, but I'll probably be too busy draining blood from gentiles for my Passover matzoh, so don't be surprised if I'm late posting about it, okay?
BLOGWATCH A: Blogwatch I has vanished. Blogwatch II is reduced to covering the same blogs about once every two weeks. All around us, the mighty are fallen, the center cannot hold, and this is the way the blogwatch ends, this is the way the blogwatch ends, this is the way the blogwatch ends.
Fear not, citizen! Amygdala announces the inception of Blogwatch A.
Blogwatch A shall have its own tricksy method: we shall blogwatch what we wish to blogwatch each day, and report to you, Our Readers, with our findings. Tell your friends and neighbors! Every day that we can, until we stop, Blogwatch A is here to stay, until we go!
Our Promise: not clever, just there. No, wait, that's not right.
Our Promise: just there. Offer void where package settles.
Natalie Solent: e-mail guilt; invisible columnists; American southland; blogging forsaken for Harry Potter jigsaw.
Ted Barlow: the wonderfulness of Gary Farber on SCOTUS; Ebert on Sorority Boys; 13-year-olds with lawyers; Homer embraced by white power?
War Liberal (Mac Thomason): Milton Berle was alive?; chill with VodkaPundit; Colombian assassinations: are hit-men wearing the union label?; Uma Thurman: stacked?; SCOTUS: stacked?
Daily Pundit (Bill Quick): Kurds; illegal aliens deserve no protection; Arafat didn't leave because he couldn't come back; PLO doesn't believe in freedom of expression; reparations should go to court and be thrown out.
Matt Welch: Mass murder not a joke, including French murders; David Brock's lies a litmus test; Democratic fund-raising does the nasty; acoustic terrorism not so much; MIchael Moore might try the truth.
WHY WE FIGHT: The New Yorker has put Jeffrey Goldberg's extremely important piece on Iraqi gas warfare, based on his difficult travels in Kurdish Iraq, getting first-hand interviews, up. It's absolutely must-read, so go. (Here's a good Q&A with Goldberg.)
Nasreen gathered the food quickly, but she, too, noticed a series of odd smells carried into the house by the wind. "At first, it smelled bad, like garbage," she said. "And then it was a good smell, like sweet apples. Then like eggs." Before she went downstairs, she happened to check on a caged partridge that her father kept in the house. "The bird was dying," she said. "It was on its side." She looked out the window. "It was very quiet, but the animals were dying. The sheep and goats were dying." Nasreen ran to the cellar. "I told everybody there was something wrong. There was something wrong with the air."
The people in the cellar were panicked. They had fled downstairs to escape the bombardment, and it was difficult to abandon their shelter. Only splinters of light penetrated the basement, but the dark provided a strange comfort. "We wanted to stay in hiding, even though we were getting sick," Nasreen said. She felt a sharp pain in her eyes, like stabbing needles. "My sister came close to my face and said, 'Your eyes are very red.' Then the children started throwing up. They kept throwing up. They were in so much pain, and crying so much. They were crying all the time. My mother was crying. Then the old people started throwing up."
Remember Halabja. Remember Goktapa.
Footnote some prefer to forget:
Attempts by Congress in 1988 to impose sanctions on Iraq were stifled by the Reagan and Bush Administrations....
Considering him a counterforce to Iran was a judgment with some blowback, laying aside mere moral considerations.
Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who led the campaigns against the Kurds in the late eighties, was heard on a tape captured by rebels, and later obtained by Human Rights Watch, addressing members of Iraq's ruling Baath Party on the subject of the Kurds. "I will kill them all with chemical weapons!" he said. "Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! The international community and those who listen to them."
200,000 murdered-by-gas Kurds. You can decide for yourself what to make of the Mukhabarat-al Queda connection, and how much your own life is threatened. But remember Halabja. Remember Goktapa.
Faithful readers will recall several entries since November about a line in David Mamet's "Heist" that I said was the funniest he had ever written. Gene Hackman is a thief who wants to retire. Danny DeVito wants him to do one more job, for the money. Hackman says he doesn't like money. DeVito replies: "Everybody needs money! That's why they call it money!" [...]
Many readers said they did not see anything funny about this line. I quoted Louis Armstrong: "There are some folks that, if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." More protest. I quoted Gene Siskel: "Comedy and eroticism are not debatable. Either it works for you or it doesn't." This also failed to satisfy many readers.
In desperation I sent the whole correspondence to David Mamet himself, and have received the following reply:
"Thank you for your update on the 'Heist' controversy. A lot of people didn't even think 'World War One' was funny. So it just shows to go you.
"Additionally, Clausewitz's 'On War' was, it seems originally issued as a serio-comic 'memoire' of life in a garret. (Orig. title 'Tales of a Garterbelt'.")
"I see where our beloved president has taken to speaking of 'terriers and barriffs.' Can he mean 'Braniff(s)?' Humor is where one finds it--George Dandin.
"With all best wishes, "David."
If you do not find this funny, put it down to the fact that I am an effing Mamet fan, and this is all part of a Big Con; look, there's Ricky Jay! (Ebert, by the way, is another one of us who had an ill-spent youth in science fiction fandom, doing fanzines; just don't ask me about comparing "On War" to life in a garret.)
3/27/2002 02:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
NEVER FORGET, but we wish we could: Justin Slotman of the autarchic Insolvent Republic of Blogistan, forms an Axis of Good with Ginger Stampley and myself in being unable to rip the hideous and mind-numbing knowledge from our brains that Akiva Goldsman, winner of the "Best Screenplay" Oscar for A Beautiful Mind wrote the horrifically awful Batman and Robin and Batman Forever movies, for which he should have been sentenced to never-ending vomiting up of lemur excrement, rechewing it, and spewing it forth.
Oh, that's right, he was.
(Never forgive Joel Schumacher, most of all.)
Further, I'm sure Opie is one hell of a nice guy, and he certainly does a good job of directing some good movies -- I'm particularly fond of Apollo 13 -- but in the department of artistic talent, he's not in the same house as Robert Altman, who certainly doesn't make a winner every time, but is among the bravest film-makers there are in throwing himself full forward into his films, and being willing to risk complete failure (Pret-a-Porter) to chance reaching brilliant success (M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player). (The last being one of the rare cases of a film being even better than the [excellent] novel.)
On the other hand, Justin, it's, ah, questionable to, absent seeing Monster's Ball, conclude based on the fact that Halle Berry's role in X-Men didn't call for much, that therefore "her getting the Oscar was completely politically oh-we're-so-sorry-black-actors motivated" and that Denzel Washington's win was therefore "much more legitimate." Passing judgement about work one has not seen may not be quite at the top of the Top Ten Methods Of The Insightful Critic List.
As for LOTR vs. A BEAUTIFUL MIND, I think it's rather plain that Academy members, as ever, want to vote for The Serious Film that Addresses Serious Important Issues, such as overcoming schizophrenia, and to hell if it gets the Nash Equilibrium wrong, whereas People Won't Think We're The Serious People They Should If We Vote For Hobbits. We're serious, damnit! And important! Don't you believe us when we keep telling you!?
Excuse me, now; I have to go -- ohmigod, ohmigod -- thank my lawyer -- ohmigod, ohmigod --, and I'm grateful to you all for all your votes for me in next year's Bloggie, at which time I'll produce a montage of past Amygdala posts for your enjoyment.
NO STRIKES AND YER OUT: The redoubtable Megan McArdle has a rather peculiar post reacting to the NY Timesstory on yesterday's Supreme Court decision regarding "zero tolerance" public housing drug evictions.
It's peculiar because at no point does Megan McCardle refer to anything in the story or the decision, but instead editorializes that "I still heartily endorse the principle that we can kick criminals out of public housing, even if they're not the primary tenant."
Which is fine, and few would disagree and that has absolutely nothing, squat, zero, to do with the SCOTUS ruling handed down re DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT v. RUCKER et al.
Public Housing authorites have had and do have, the authority to evict criminals, people who have broken the law. That wasn't at issue. In the slightest. In the least. So I have no idea what Megan McArdle is on about.
What was at issue was whether public housing authorities can evict people who have broken no law, and have no awareness of any law being broken, merely because someone in their household used drugs at one time, at some entirely different place, utterly without the knowledge of the primary renter.
Which is a whole different kettle of squid from what Megan McArdle says she is concerned with, and which is why this went up to the Supreme Court, whereas the utterly settled issue of whether criminals can be evicted certainly need not and did not.
The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals, and held that tenants may be evicted
regardless of whether the tenant knew, or should have known, of the drug-related activity.
Specifically emphasized in the decision is that
... any drug-related activity engaged in by the specified persons is grounds for termination, not just drug-related activity that the tenant knew, or should have known, about....
The court [of Appeals --ed] ultimately adopted this reading, concluding that the statute prohibits eviction where the tenant for a lack of knowledge or other reason, could not realistically exercise control over the conduct of a household member or guest. Id., at 1126. But this interpretation runs counter to basic rules of grammar.
Are we clear here? Third-party actions that it isn't reasonable for the tenant to have known about are grounds for eviction, because of the grammar of the law, says SCOTUS.
Pause and marvel at that fine "strict constructionism." Imagine what one would have said if that was the reasoning of a Soviet court.
The agency made clear that local public housing authorities' discretion to evict for drug-related activity includes those situations in which [the] tenant did not know, could not foresee, or could not control behavior by other occupants of the unit.
So much for individual responsibility. No, the new rule is collective responsibility.
Conservatives and libertarians have long rightly held popular the meme that zero-tolerance laws and regulations were an absurd, if not inane, over-reaction of the liberal nanny-state, despite the fact that most liberals agree. Here is another case one would think is an example of zero-tolerance run amuck. But somehow Megan McArdle disagrees; based on what she wrote, I have to wonder if she read either the decision, or the story she linked to.
Here are some of the actual cases that were at issue:
Pearlie Rucker, 63, had been living in public housing since 1985 when she was informed she would be evicted. She lived with her mentally disabled daughter, two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. The housing authority said Ms. Rucker's daughter was found with cocaine and a crack pipe three blocks from her apartment.
Willie Lee, 71, who has lived in public housing for more than 25 years, received notice of eviction after allegations that her grandson was caught smoking marijuana in the project's parking lot. The grandson of another tenant, Barbara Hill, 63, who has lived in public housing for more than 30 years, admitted smoking marijuana in the parking lot.
Maybe you feel that these people, not just their grandkids, are dangerous, and deserve to be tossed on the street, and that society will be the better for it. Maybe you feel that it is reasonable to expect elderly disabled people to be omniscently aware that their grandchild has smoked marijuana elsewhere, and that to have failed to do so is reasonable grounds for throwing them on the street. I won't agree, but you're entitled to your opinion. But that was the issue, not, as Megan McArdle chooses as her link phrase, "Yes, you can evict drug users from public housing."
McArdle also asserts
Predictably, poverty advocates are screaming that this is discrimination. Wake up, Moonshine; the sixties are over.
Aside from the way the latter statement seems to be mere ad hominem generational bile, she provides no quotes nor links to sources for this assertion, which might have made it relevant to the rest of what she was saying, despite the fact than none of it has anything to do with the Supreme Court decision ostensibly under discussion. If anyone can connect the decision to a non-argument over whether public housing can evict criminals, please let me know.
3/27/2002 10:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |