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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



 

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

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

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


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


You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Favorite....
-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


GARY FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
AlterNet
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
bjkeefe
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Chuckling
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
elementropy
Eschaton
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
Hullabaloo
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
Afro-Netizen
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Attackerman
Attempts
Balkinization
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Cato-at-liberty
Cogitamus
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Eschaton
Ezra Klein
Feministe
Glenn Greenwald
Governing.com: 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Hullabaloo
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Mightygodking
Newshoggers
Orcinus
Pam's House Blend
Pandagon
Paul Krugman
Pharyngula
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Shakesville
slacktivist
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
TPMCafe
U.S. Intellectual History
Unfogged
Unqualified Offerings
VetVoice
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
Pandagon
Pharyngula
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Snarkmarket
TAPped
TBogg
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alicublog
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fact-esque
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
jensscholz.com
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
sideshow
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
balkinization
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
Fact-esque
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
governmentality
hullabaloo
Lifehacker
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Macadamia
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Epicycle
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Demosthenes
Rittenhouse Review
Maxspeak
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
MadKane
Nathan Newman
Whiskeyfire
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Corrente
Rising Hegemon
NTodd
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Hullabaloo
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Frameshop
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.










Amygdala
 
Tuesday, April 16, 2002
 
TRADE FAIR: Nick Denton points out:
...take a look at this latest Oxfam campaign on trade. The killer fact: goods from poor countries are taxed at four times the rate of goods from rich countries. Oxfam claims the West's abuse of global trade rules costs the developing world $100bn a year, about twice the amount of western aid.

[...]

Here are Oxfam's charges against the West. The first two are spot-on. The latter three are probably there to keep the anti-globalizers happy.

Stopping or penalising poor countries from exporting their goods into rich world markets. Goods from poor countries are taxed at four times the rate of goods from rich countries.

Subsidising rich farmers by $1bn a day. Agricultural surpluses are dumped onto world markets, suppressing world prices and destroying local markets in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines.

Influencing the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank policies to force open poor countries' markets with little regard to the social consequences. These are policies the rich world has itself rejected.

Being indifferent to erratic, falling commodity prices that condemn many poor economies to failure, while generating huge profits for big corporations.

Allowing big corporations to ignore internationally-recognised workers' rights.

Tom Friedman calls it "managing the software of capitalism" to get this stuff right.

4/16/2002 11:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PREDICTING POLL NUMBERS: A Republican pollster is seeking to inoculate the President against his approval rating dropping as November elections near.
Matthew Dowd, polling coordinator for the Republican National Committee, circulated a memo Friday predicting that President Bush's approval ratings "will fall back to more realistic levels" from stratospheric post-Sept. 11 levels, "absent some unforeseen dominating event."

Dowd predicted that "over the coming weeks and months the president's numbers will continue to drift downward as the November elections near and, as a result, Democratic partisans return to a normal disapproval pattern. Since Democratic partisans account for approximately 40 percent of the electorate, this by itself could return the President's approval numbers into the 60s."

Predicting the falloff now, Dowd suggests, will make it easier to argue that it's generated by inevitable forces rather than by growing discontent with the president.

Polls also have a way of following Events, which are annoyingly unpredictable.

4/16/2002 10:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BIN LADEN ALLOWED TO SLIP AWAY AT TORA BORA is the conclusion of this analysis of the fight at Tora Bora. Considerable dissension reportedly exists between elements of the Washington intelligence community (CIA? DIA?) and General Tommy Franks' Central Command.
The Bush administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge.
Franks is getting a lot of arrows shot at him in this story. Left unspoken, though alluded to, is the old questionable decision to base Central Command, the Commander in Chief (CINC) for it, in Florida, rather than anywhere, you know, remotely near the Central Command.

David Ignatius has a column praising Quatar as moving in the right direction. Wanna know what a major sign of Qutar really cooperating with the US will be? You got it: moving Central Command there.


4/16/2002 09:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE SCOTUS: The Grey Lady has analysis of Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, No. 00-795.
Attorney General John D. Ashcroft expressed anger and disappointment late this afternoon over the ruling, saying that it had made it "immeasurably more difficult" to go after child pornographers but that he was "undeterred in my resolve" to pursue those who exploit children.
How the decision remotely makes it "more difficult," he did not explain. Given that, you know, if someone makes up a fake computer image, they aren't hurting anyone.

As it is,

The High Court voided two sections of the law, but a third section was not challenged and is still in force. It bans some computer alterations of innocent pictures of children — grafting a child's school picture onto a naked body, for example.
How this hurts anyone, in other than an aesthetic sense, I'm not clear, either. Why should government be allowed to make illegal pictures that disgust many people?
Rejecting the argument that virtual child pornography ought to be banned because it might whet the appetite of molesters, the Supreme Court's ruling declared, "The mere tendency of speech to encourage unlawful acts is not a sufficient reason for banning it."

Justice Kennedy wrote: "The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought. . . . The court's First Amendment cases draw vital distinctions between words and deeds, between ideas and conduct."

Preach it. Unsurprisingly:
A former senator from Missouri, the Attorney General said he was committed to working with Congress to devise new computer-pornography legislation that would survive judicial scrutiny.
Inevitably:
"The high court sided with pedophiles over children," Representative Mark Foley, a Florida Republican who is co-chairman of a Congressional caucus on missing and exploited children, told the A.P. "This decision has set back years of work on behalf of the most innocent of Americans."
Help save innocent CGI, the most innocent of Americans, the non-existent ones. Because they're CGI children. Madness!

4/16/2002 07:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IMPALE THIS: Vlad speaks:
Count Dracula wants to adopt an heir.

The family name is in danger of dying out because the current Count is 61 and resigned to having no children.

Now Ottomar Rudolphe Vlad Dracula Prinz Kretzulesco has decided to continue the tradition of European nobility of adopting when there is no suitable blood relation to carry on the family name. [...] He said: "I would be pleased to hear from practically any prince or princess.

"We would like to adopt, but a real prince or princess. I cannot just take anyone from the street."

He told The Independent: "It would probably be easier if it were to be a German but I would also be very happy for a British aristocrat to come and be adopted."

Count Dracula now lives in Castle Dracula in the village of Schenkendorf in Germany.

He has spent the past decade as a publicity booster for the country's blood donor service.

However, he does not drink... wine. (Via Boing Boing.)

4/16/2002 06:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FLATTERY OR NOT, Roger Penrose is unhappy to find Penrose tiles being used on toilet paper. (Via Boing Boing.)

4/16/2002 06:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOGLE on words such as "the" now.

4/16/2002 06:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STAND UP FOR CURING DISEASE: not a controversial issue, but it is because the Administration wants to make somatic nuclear cell transfer a crime punishable by 10 years in prison. Virginia Postrel doesn't believe in permanent links, but she's all over this.

And every damned word is correct.

Here's the Franklin Society petition against making "therapeutic cloning" a federal crime: go sign it. Go read Postrel:

Alex's second post argues that the anti-research position is another Karl Rove special, like steel tariffs, designed to help Republicans capture the Senate. I'd say Democrats should make an issue of it—Bush is selling out sick people to pander to the anti-abortion lobby!—but so far they haven't. I guess they figure it's too hard to explain.

[...]

Jack O'Toole at Political Professional suggests that pro-therapeutic cloning voters may become what pros call "referendum voters," like gun-rights advocates: "Isn't it entirely possible that the millions of Americans who are waiting for a cure based on this technology will become, in essence, single-issue voters?"

I'm not personally waiting for a cure, but if I had to vote today, I'd hold my nose and vote for Ron Kirk, the Democrat running for the seat Sen. Phil Gramm is leaving. Although I strongly lean Republican, I don't trust those guys with the Senate, largely because of this issue. I'd rather keep gridlock. Kirk's a typical subsidy-loving, "pro-business" Texas pol who seems to be a Democrat largely for reasons of ethnicity. Not good, but not scary either. Putting scientists in federal prison for 10 years because they're trying to cure horrible diseases by transplanting cell nuclei—now that's scary.

Yeah, it is, and so is having kids die unnecessarily and so is having not having cures for diseases we should have. Slogan: "Free the cells!; don't put scientists in cells!" Alternatively: "Let cells and scientists be free!" The best is pictures of people, with: "Don't let me die before my time."

4/16/2002 06:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE THAN JUST THE BUDDHAS at Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban. They were true iconoclasts; read the terrible details. Some things were too awful even for some Taliban to do:
Shortly before the Taliban in Afghanistan issued orders to blow up the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, which they destroyed in March 2001, a squad of Islamic fundamentalists systematically ransacked a storeroom of artwork from the National Museum in Kabul. Working from morning to night, they went through boxes of ancient Buddhist and Gandharan statuary, smashing anything with a human or animal image that they deemed idolatrous.

[...]

The pillaging in the museum storeroom, as well as at Bamiyan — which, Mr. Bucherer said, was expertly carried out by a non-Afghan squad from Al Qaeda after local Taliban leaders refused to participate — are regarded as crimes against Afghanistan's cultural patrimony that are all the more chilling for their deliberate and efficient execution.

But, of course, Afghanistan should not have been attacked; indictments against these people should have been sought, and thus, true justice obtained.

Does Marie of Roumania have a blog?


4/16/2002 05:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JUST TO MAKE SURE YOU SAW:

4/16/2002 05:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EVERYONE KNOWS ABOUT BERWICK, RIGHT?:
Riddell Graham, chief executive of SBTB, said: "Berwick has never actually legally belonged to the English. The Scots were forced to hand Berwick over to the English as part of a ransom in 1174 to buy the freedom of King William the Lion, whom they were holding to ransom for 10,000 merks."

The town was taken by the English in lieu of payment, Mr Graham claims, but when the ransom was paid in 1189, they refused to hand it back. Richard I then sold Berwick to the Scots to raise money for the Crusades, only to recapture it on his return.

Berwick has suffered from a split personality ever since. It stands on the northern bank of the river Tweed – which is officially a Scottish river – and its football and rugby teams play in Scottish leagues. But it is English under law and has a mayor rather than a provost.

The Tweedside accent sounds Scottish to English ears but has a discernibly Northumbrian twang to Scots. In its long history, Berwick has changed hands 14 times but has been under English jurisdiction for the past 520 years.

So now:
A Scottish tourism board has launched an audacious bid to buy back the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed by repaying a king's ransom owed to the English for 800 years.

In an effort to have the town restored to its rightful place – which, they say, is, and always has been, in Scotland – the Scottish Borders Tourism Board has given Berwick council the symbolic sum of 10,000 merks, an ancient silver coin.

Shouldn't Mel Gibson just fight Prince Charles in a duel to settle this? Or should it be Sean Connery as Scotland's champion?

4/16/2002 04:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHURCHILL'S SECRET BUNKER -- no, not the Whitehall offices -- has been opened to the public.

4/16/2002 04:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EUROPE:
UN backs Palestinian violence

Arab, European nations pass resolution supporting use of 'armed struggle'

Steven Edwards, National Post

UNITED NATIONS - Six European Union countries yesterday endorsed a United Nations document that condones violence as a way to achieve Palestinian statehood.

They were voting as members of the UN Human Rights Commission on a resolution that accuses Israel of a long list of human rights violations, but makes no mention of suicide bombings of Israeli civilians.

Canada and two EU countries -- Britain and Germany -- opposed the measure, which supports the use of "all available means, including armed struggle" to establish a Palestinian state. Guatemala and the Czech Republic joined the opposing voices, but with 40 countries of the 53-member commission voting yes and seven abstaining, the resolution is now part of the international record.

"The text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence," said Walter Lewalter, the German ambassador to the commission. "There is no condemnation whatsoever of terrorism."

Alfred Moses, a former United States ambassador to the commission and now chairman of UN Watch, a monitoring group, was more blunt.

"A vote in favour of this resolution is a vote for Palestinian terrorism," he said. "An abstention suggests ambivalence toward terror. Any country that condones -- or is indifferent to -- the murder of Israeli civilians in markets, on buses and in cafés has lost any moral standing to criticize Israel's human rights record."

Canada said the resolution did nothing to further peace.

"The failure of the resolution to condemn all acts of terrorism, particularly in the context of recent suicide bombings targeting Israeli civilians, is a serious oversight which renders the resolution fundamentally unacceptable," said Marie Gervais-Vidricaire, Canada's ambassador to the commission.

"There can be no justification whatsoever for terrorist acts."

EU members Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden approved the resolution, and Italy abstained.

Belgium and Spain have been pushing for tough EU measures against the Jewish state, with Belgium calling for sanctions based on a human rights clause in the EU-Israeli Free Association agreement, which grants Israel preferential trading terms.

I don't suppose there's any chance of the US imposing economic sanctions on Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the other 36 countries. The US, of course, has no seat on the Commission at present, since we don't have the high standards of such seat-holders as Syria.
The 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) drew up the Human Rights Commission resolution, backed by co-sponsors China, Cuba and Vietnam.
How lucky the world is to have these folks to hold high the banner of human rights by setting their own examples.

4/16/2002 03:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ROBERT FISK ALSO LOVES AMERICA:
I've been travelling to the United States for years [...} God knows why. [...] American college students are tough as nails and bored as cabbages, and in some cities – Washington is top of the list – I might as well talk in Amharic. If you don't use phrases like "peace process", "back on track" or "Israel under siege", there's a kind of computerised blackout on the faces of the audience. Total Disk Failure. Why should my latest bout of Americana have been any different?

[...]

And there were the little tell-tale stories that showed just how biased and gutless the American press has become in the face of America's Israeli lobby groups.

[...]

By chance, this was the theme of my talks and lectures: the cowardly, idle, spineless way in which American journalists are lobotomising their stories from the Middle East....

[...]

I demanded to know of my audiences – and I expected the usual American indignation when I did – how US citizens could accept the infantile "dead or alive", "with us or against us", axis-of-evil policies of their President.

And for the first time in more than a decade of lecturing in the United States, I was shocked. Not by the passivity of Americans – the all-accepting, patriotic notion that the President knows best – nor by the dangerous self-absorption of the United States since 11 September and the constant, all-consuming fear of criticising Israel. What shocked me was the extraordinary new American refusal to go along with the official line, the growing, angry awareness among Americans that they were being lied to and deceived. At some of my talks, 60 per cent of the audiences were over 40. In some cases, perhaps 80 per cent were Americans with no ethnic or religious roots in the Middle East – "American Americans", as I cruelly referred to them on one occasion, "white Americans", as a Palestinian student called them more truculently. For the first time, it wasn't my lectures they objected to, but the lectures they received from their President and the lectures they read in their press about Israel's "war on terror" and the need always, uncritically, to support everything that America's little Middle Eastern ally says and does.

I, of course, am not an "American American." I'm one of those questionable sorts. Double loyalties, you know. Treacherous. We know my type.
[...]

. "We know what is going on," he said. "I was a naval officer in the Gulf back in the Sixties and we only had few ships there then. In those days, the Shah of Iran was our policeman. Now we've got all those ships in there and our soldiers in the Arab countries and we seem to dominate the place." Osama bin Laden, I said to myself, couldn't put it better.

How odd, I reflected, that American newspapers can scarcely say even this.

Yes, how odd that American newspapers don't speak up more for that poor nice Osama bin Laden, such a keen analyst. Etc., etc., etc. Fisk goes on, and on. Of course.
[...]

So Iowa University classes were absorbing. One young woman began by announcing that she knew the American media were biased. When I asked why, she said that "it has to do with America's support for Israel..." and then, red-faced, she dried up.

Wouldn't want to get to that part about overtly explaining that Jews control the media and politics. Eventually, Fisk comes clean:
For an hour I explained the reality I saw in the Middle East; an all-powerful Israel fighting an old-time colonial war. I talked about the 1954-62 Algerian war, its brutality and cruelty, the French army's torture and killings, the Algerians' slaughter of civilians, the frightening parallels with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
And so the French eventually left. As should the Jews today. Nice place Algeria is nowadays, too.

4/16/2002 02:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WAR CRIMES IN JENIN is what The Independent is loudly asserting.
Last night there were still many families and weeping children still living amid the ruins, cut off from the humanitarian aid. Ominously, we found no wounded, although there was a report of a man being rescued from beneath ruins only an hour before we arrived.
Apparently the Israeli Defence Force is superhuman at cover-ups. There's no shilly-shallying in this piece:
A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. [...] "This is mass murder committed by Ariel Sharon," Jamel Saleh, 43, said. "We feel more hate for Israel now than ever. Look at this boy." He placed his hand on the tousled head of a little boy, Mohammed, the eight-year-old son of a friend. "He saw all this evil. He will remember it all." So will everyone else who saw the horror of Jenin refugee camp. Palestinians who entered the camp yesterday were almost speechless.

Rajib Ahmed, from the Palestinian Energy Authority, came to try to repair the power lines. He was trembling with fury and shock. "This is mass murder. I have come here to help by I have found nothing but devastation. Just look for yourself." All had the same message: tell the world.

And so The Independent is.

Commentary?

Ann Clwyd: Europe must show its mettle and punish Israel.

[...]

It doesn't make sense. If you are expected to bring two sides together, then you need to appreciate the suffering on both sides, not simply on one.

There's not a word in this article about Israeli victims, or Israelis as other than brutal killers.
Neither of the small hospitals in the vicinity had seen one dead body or one injured person, but they were convinced that hundreds were dead or injured and that there were people still alive under the rubble. One of the workers from the Red Cross had been standing by for three days.
Evidence of horror, indeed. The absense of evidence proves the evidence!
[...] Later in the afternoon we met the women and children who the Israelis had sent out from the camp as they started their attack.
What brutality!
[...] There was a curfew in Jenin, which wasn't lifted in the eight hours we were there, but we did meet a sea of men returning from an Israeli roll call of every man in the town over the age of 16.
More evidence of deliberate Israeli mass murder of innocents.
No political or security objective can justify targeting and punishing civilians in this way.

It is not enough for the European countries to simply bleat in condemnation. They need to withdraw European ambassadors from Israel. They need to impose an immediate arms embargo, as Germany has done. They should consider what economic sanctions can be put in place. The EU could suspend its agreement giving Israel preferential trade terms, since the European public are certainly demanding a much tougher line. After all, British taxpayers' money already spent on infrastructure in the West Bank is being ground to dust by the Israeli army. This is the moment when the European Union should show its mettle and implement its own plan, regardless of the objections or intransigence of the United States.

[...]

At the moment, the Palestinian leadership is so beleaguered that they are not in a position to negotiate anything.

No, they're helpless, able only to organize suicide bombings, unable to stop them. They lack all moral and physical autonomy. Israel: not beleagured; merely vicious killers.
The Israelis' present policy is not working, and the sooner they realise it the better.
And it's our turn to make sure they realize it!

The writer is the Labour MP for Cynon Valley, chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Human Rights and is a member of the International Development Select Committee
Noted.

4/16/2002 02:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AL QUEDA HIT TUNISIA: Multiple sources, including the WashPo report:
A group linked to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for an explosion at a historic synagogue in Tunisia last week that killed 16 people including 10 German tourists, according to two London-based Arabic newspapers.

The group, calling itself the Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Sites, first surfaced when it claimed responsibility for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania for which the United States blames al Qaeda. The Islamic Army said the Tunisian bombing was in retaliation for "Israeli crimes" against Palestinians.

One of the newspapers, Al Hayat, said it received the Arabic-language statement by fax at its office in Islamabad, Pakistan, and it was on stationery with al Qaeda's logo.

[...]

On Thursday, a natural gas truck exploded at the outer wall of the El Ghriba synagogue on the resort island of Djerba, a popular destination in the Mediterranean Gulf of Gabes for German and French tourists. In addition to the 10 Germans, five Tunisians and a French man were killed in the attack. A number of injured German tourists, who were evacuated by the German military, remain in critical conditions at a Berlin hospital.

The second newspaper, Al-Quds, also reported it had received a will left by one of the men allegedly on the gas truck and it identified him as Nizar bin Mohammed Nawar. The newspaper said he also used the nom de guerre "Sword of the Faith, the Tunisian" on the will, which was dated July 5, 2000.

Nawar was quoted as calling on his surviving family to contribute to a holy war "with their souls and money," according to the Al Quds report. The editor of Al-Quds is one of the few people to have interviewed bin Laden in the past decade.

[...]

The Tunisian government initially insisted that the blast was a "tragic accident," but there has been rising suspicion in Germany that it was a suicide bombing.

Tunisian officials at first said the truck accidentally struck the wall and the driver was killed. But German witnesses have been quoted as saying that the truck was parked at the time of the explosion and one man was seen leaving it shortly before the blast.

Yes, that sort of crash is a tad suspicious, one might say. Great ally, Tunisia, in putting out this sort of blatant lie; in law it's conspiracy to cover up the facts, and a crime.

What other respnse will we see to this linkage? From Europe and some of the left: calls to quit supporting Israel, because look how angry it makes people. Cut Israel loose. If Jews are blown up, well, they deserve it for what they've done and are doing to Palestinians. It's Israel's responsibility, and if only they'd done better, none of this would be happening.

The synagogue, the oldest in Africa, serves the dwindling 1,500-year-old Jewish community on the Mediterranean island.

Tunisia's Jewish population, which numbered about 100,000 after World War II, has fallen to 2,000, half of them living on Djerba in a neighborhood of narrow streets.

Tunisian Jews, of course, are responsible for hurting Palestinians. Just as are Europeans and Americans. The proper solution is we all convert to Wahabism. Then we will properly understand our former wrongs, and, at last, all will be right.

4/16/2002 02:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WATCHING CANADA: Canada is looking at whether surveillance cameras generically violate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. Conceivably all such watching could be decided to be illegal. My suspicion, however, is that this won't happen.

4/16/2002 10:32:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WANT TO CHECK GOOGLE via Instant Messaging? Nah, me neither, but now you can. Soon: use Google via your shower to see what's in your refrigerator. Use the "check your lover's sex life for links" function. Install google functions in your own brain. Make "bork bork bork" your default language. It's googlicious.

4/16/2002 10:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BLACK MAC: I sincerely doubt that this is one of a kind.

Incidentally, cutting off minors from contributing to their open source is an amazingly boneheaded move of Apple.


4/16/2002 10:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BOOK ZEITGEIST WATCH: The Weblog Bookwatch searches weblogs that pass through the Recently Changed list at weblogs.com looking for links to books at Amazon.com, and generates a top ten list.

4/16/2002 10:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EVIL THOUGHTS MAY NOT BE ILLEGAL: We're not sure of that, but the Supreme Court of the US today showed sanity by ruling in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition, 00-795 that fiction wasn't illegal because it made you think of things we find disgusting.
The Supreme Court struck down a congressional ban on virtual child pornography Tuesday, ruling that the First Amendment protects pornography or other sexual images that only appear to depict real children engaged in sex.

[...]

The law barred sexually explicit material that "appear(s) to be a minor'' or that is advertised in a way that "conveys the impression'' that a minor was involved in its creation.

[...]

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor partially agreed with the majority and partially disagreed. She was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia. Rehnquist and Scalia also filed their own separate dissenting opinion that went further.

"The aim of ensuring the enforceability of our nation's child pornography laws is a compelling one,'' Rehnquist wrote for the pair. "The (law) is targeted to this aim by extending the definition of child pornography to reach computer-generated images that are virtually indistinguishable from real children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.''

This is classic "begging the question." It assumes the correctness of the question: should anything that "extends hefor adults to be present in a room with children would be equally justifiable; the "aim" is "compelling," after all. It's for the children.

Minor details such as "are children actually harmed?" are excluded as unnecessary, or answered that they might be harmed by the stimulation of Bad Thoughts in someone, which could lead to bad action. Again, under such a rationale, simply anything and everything can be justifiably illegal.

Congress justified the wider ban on grounds that while no real children were harmed in creating the material, real children could be harmed by feeding the prurient appetites of pedophiles or child molesters.
We have laws against the harming of children. Making illegal what might cause Evil Thought is simply hysteria. Wrongthink should not be illegal in a free society, even if it's for the children.
The Clinton and Bush administrations defended the law in court, claiming it "helps to stamp out the market for child pornography involving real children."
And to help stamp out the market for illegal drugs, let's make bubble-gum illegal. To help stamp out the market for child pornography -- the rationale for which is to prevent harm to children, even though harming children is already illegal -- we could make all pictures illegal. It would, after all, make it far harder to obtain child pornography. The goal, after all, should be the measure, not the means.

No matter that such reasoning is madness.

The decisions are here.


4/16/2002 08:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ROBOTS AGAINST JEWS: Speaking of anti-semitism, as, for some odd reason, I so frequently do, "Max Power" points out what others have: the consistency of Jorn Barger's, of Robot Wisdom, anti-semitism. There's a blog that might do with some delinking. I say this, of course, as part of The Conspiracy.

4/16/2002 08:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOVELY CLASSIC ANTI-SEMITIC PAGE here. Hosted in Sweden, no less.
Radio Islam is against racism of all forms, against all kinds of discrimination of people based on their colour of skin, faith or ethnical bakground. Consequently, Radio Islam is against Jewish racism towards non-Jews.

World Jewish Zionism, today, constitutes the last racist ideology still surviving and the Zionist's state of Israel, the last outpost of "Apartheid" in the World.

Israel constitutes by its mere existence a complete defiance to all international laws, rules and principles, and the open racism manifested in the Jewish State is a violation of all ethics and morals known to Man.

Check out their expansive collection of essays, including considerable exposition on The Protocols of The Elders of Zion , how "The Jewish Drug Money Runs USA," "How the Jews dominate the world," "USA´s Rulers: All Are Jews!," and lots more!

4/16/2002 07:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, April 15, 2002
 
IN SEPTEMBER 2001 I'd not yet discovered Blogger or blogs. What I did was blog by group e-mail; I'd previously acted in similar fashion on Usenet's rec.arts.sf.fandom. Here's something I sent out on September 18th:
Next, here's a piece that will horrify some, and outrage others, but that I think is at least worth contemplating, for several reasons, including
the point that many will agree with it, and if you wish to prove them wrong, you need to know the argument, to the possibility that it might be a terrible truth.

Gerecht said

In Western Europe and Canada, very neat, tidy places, we can already see what's brewing. The call to search for "the roots of this problem" which inevitably implies that we have done something wrong, and until that something has been corrected we can expect others to be mean-spiritedwill no doubt return, at least on the left-hand side of America. We can confidently expect that Israel will somehow be blamed for this mess, since the Israeli-Arab confrontation, so the State Department has always told us, is obviously the epicenter of the anti-American hostility throughout the Middle East. (This is, of course, news to Usama bin Laden, as it is to Ayatollah Khomeini's faithful followers, who don't seem to think that five million Jews in Israel have sufficient stature to be the "Great Satan" in their battle between Good and Evil.) We can certainly expect guilt and anxiety to return to the op-ed pages as soon as America starts to punish bloodily those responsible in the Middle East. Holy wars are exceptionally ugly because they offer no escape from a guerre outrance even if only one side believes that God is at their backs.
[...]

His argument is that the only way holy warriors in the Middle East have been and are defeated -- and accurately cites the many quite recent examples -- is through sufficiently massive, generally brutal, military victory. I must say that this is historically true. It is terrible and it is true. It is horrible and it is true. It is tragic and it is true. Other questions arise as to the price we pay in what we become should we adopt such techniques, of course.

Needless to say, military victories can be achieved without brutal deliberate slaughter of civilians. Let no one think I am or will agree that we should adopt Hama Rules (the rules Hafez al-Assad applied when he bombed and gassed his own Syrian city of Hama, killing over 10,000, as is utterly well-known in the Mid-east).

We must never destroy who we are by adopting anything resembling such methods.

But military action is not the same as a slaughter of innocents.

Something I think about is this: there are many calls to understand why people are angry at America and the West.

That's good. That's necessary. We must never cease trying to understand.

It's insufficient.

There are times that understanding isn't enough.

There are times that we may understand perfectly well why people are angry at us, and we may correctly understand that it is as a result of our actions, and sometimes even because we have wronged them.

Sometimes it is because we have been evil and comitted evil upon them.

But there are times when, having understood this, and having understood that we have sinned against them, and come to repent of it, taken shame of it, and perhaps desired to seek amends for it, that we must also understand that their response is so threatening, and wrong in turn, and so dangerous to us, that we have no choice but to defend ourselves, even if that means hurting them back.

I'm reminded, well aware of all the ways the present situation is not comparable, of all the voices in the 1930s explaining the very real grievances Germany had against the Allies. They were, for the most part, moral voices, utterly well-intentioned, utterly good-hearted, entirely moral, and usually of the highest intelligence. Their underlying point was entirely valid and correct. Germany had valid grievances. Germany had and was suffering. Germany had been wronged by the Allies, and was paying a price that was unfair and imposed.

It was crucial to understand that, and goodminded and fairminded people of the West did.

But there came a time when that ceased to be of primary importance.

That time came because the response to those valid grievances were of sufficient wrongness and evil unto themselves.

And when that time came, the appropriate thing to do was understand that. And to understand that while the past must never be forgotten and understanding must never be lost, and awareness of our own sins and evil and responsibility must never be lost, that what becomes of primary importance is to deal with the situation now.

There came a time when understanding German grievance had to be largely put on the back burner. There came a time when our polity's praiseworthy sense of sympathy and morality and nonviolence and shame over our past responsibility for creating a bad situation for the Germans ceased to be of primary importance.

There came a time when an abrupt and defining line had to be drawn, for our paradigms to shift, and to recognize that violence was now a tragic necessary evil, and to bear the responsibility for that, before whatever God was or was not believed in by anyone, before ourselves, and before humanity.

Many voices still called for pacificism or neutrality or non-involvement. Many were and are admirable. Were they right? An argument can be made. But what do you think, now?

I work on reconsidering my ideas and positions every hour. Maybe in a week or a month or a year, I'll feel foolish and ashamed for what I tentatively think now. Maybe my mind is akilter from shock. Doubtless it is, and maybe, beyond that, I'm shockingly and horribly wrong. But what I tentatively think now is that we're in such a time where what we are faced with now, by way of other people's sins against us, regardless of our own past sins, has become of greater importance than our past sins. Our past sins must still be dealt with, and amends must still be made, but doing that is utterly insufficient to stopping, or at least, striving to lessen as much as is practical, the threat we are presented with.

And that is the the task I think is now no less primary than making amends. Those are the cards we are dealt in a game we cannot throw in on.

And thus I, for now, subject to details of specifics emerging as they will be revealed, am willing to support military action to do what is practical, in as moral a way as possible, to degrade and lessen the threat we are faced with. Not as a matter of revenge, but as a matter of doing our best to protect, as best as possible, ourselves, by which I mean the Western world. Selfish and culturally arrogant? Very American? I'll plead guilty.

More to come, and I'm always reconsidering.

If you think I'm wrong, I'll keep listening to you. Thanks for listening to me, especially if you disagree.

-- Gary Farber, protoblogging on September 18th, 2001. More came.

4/15/2002 11:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SOMETHING THEY DO, NOT SOMETHING THEY ARE: that's a quote that comes up in this excellent piece by Maura Reynolds in the LA Times about the prevalence of sex between men in Pushtun society.

I've always been fascinated by what people choose to adopt as inherent parts of their identity, and what they don't, and how people make different choices in this, be it identifying by sexuality, or "race," ethnicity, religion, place, interest group, philosophy, hobby, fetish, obessesion, nation, hair color, disability, ability, or what-have-you of the thousand and two more possibilities. What makes one person decide "this is part of who I am" and another "this is something I do"? What forms core identity?

Regardless, this is the best story on male sexuality in Afghanistan of the several I've yet seen.

"Ninety percent of men have the desire to commit this sin," the mullah says. "But most are right with God and exercise control. Only 20 to 50% of those who want to do this actually do it."

Following the mullah's math, this suggests that between 18% and 45% of men here engage in homosexual sex--significantly higher than the 3% to 7% of American men who, according to studies, identify themselves as homosexual.

I suddenly contemplate that fuss over words scrawled on a Navy bomb a few months ago -- rude and nasty words, both in intent and connotation -- in a new light. (Via Peter Maass.)

4/15/2002 10:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PETER MAASS has a blog. And if you don't like it, at last, a blogger whose name you can hiss! But why wouldn't you like it?

4/15/2002 10:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TIM BLAIR spoke eloquently.

A phrase that because a cliche, because it had so much truth, after September 11th was that "everything changed." One thing clearly changed: that day cleaved the left. We're barely begun to pick up the pieces, and bridges are not yet in sight.

Matt Welch also quotes Blair. One sample:

John Hawkins: Australia doesn't seem to have the same level of anti-Americanism that many nations in Europe do. Is that the case in your opinion? If so, why do you think that is?

Tim Blair: We’ve got our anti-US forces. Lots of them. We’ve taken the precaution of rounding them up and keeping them penned in newspaper offices.


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RICHER THAN BULGARIA: This is aging news, but I'd not gotten around to posting it, which is the case for most of the stuff I read, and yet this sticks with.
Norrath, the setting for the online game Everquest, has been found to be the 77th richest country in the world, sandwiched between Russia and Bulgaria.

[...]

Research carried out in the United States shows that virtual internal markets, combined with illegal online trading on auction websites, mean that Norrath has a gross national product per capita of $2,266, bigger than China and India.

[...]

The next more advanced set of major online games is coming out soon. It is estimated that Star Wars Galaxies will have at least a million subscribers when it is launched later this year.

Join the Trade Federation: it's the profitable Force.

4/15/2002 09:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M EXTREMELY SORRY TO HEAR that damon knight has died. What you won't see listed in the database are all the people influenced by his criticism, his editing, his teaching, his sponsoring, and by his stories.

Not to mention by his kvetching, bitching, complaining, and nagging. He was one of the Great Greats, and another whose like shall not come again is gone.

And, by the way, now we'll have to carry on for him at this: he never said "SF is what I point to when I say 'sf.'" It would drive him crazy when people used this garbled quote and attributed it to him. What he said was "SF is what we point to when we say 'sf.'" Meaning that the understanding of what makes something understood as science fiction was a joint artifact of the entire sf community, and a shared understanding between the people discussing it. It was not, as it has commonly been misunderstood in garbled form, an attempt to say that any one person can define, or is entitled to define -- most especially damon knight -- sf, or that any single person's definition was as good as another's.

One trivial little way to honor him would be to correct people when they pass on the common garble of one of his most remembered utterances. But you can think of better ones.

For those who knew him only in recent years, which is to say, most of us, go in search of beardless wonder. Learn about plot.


4/15/2002 07:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STALIN'S RELIC: The Moskva Hotel may come down.
The building that is perhaps the oddest testament to the Stalin era is at risk of being bulldozed and replaced with a Sheraton hotel.

[...]

At first glance, the hotel is nothing special. But a long, hard second look shows that the building's two wings are of completely different architectural styles. One tower has rounded windows, the other square, and the bizarre difference is a constant reminder of the terror Russians felt under Joseph Stalin.

In 1931, architect Alexei Shchusev submitted two designs to Stalin and asked that he choose. Stalin, apparently not noticing the differences, signed both versions.

Petrified at the thought of what might happen to him should he point out Stalin's mistake, Mr. Shchusev had the hotel built half in one design, half in the other. The 2,000-room hotel was finished in 1938.

If Stalin ever realized his error, he never let on. Because of its central location, across Revolution Square from the Kremlin, the Hotel Moskva was for a time considered the city's most luxurious, and frequently hosted high-ranking Communist Party officials visiting the capital.

Perhaps the North Koreans would like to buy it; they could get around paying to move it by simply ordering twenty-thousand peasants to pull it on a sledge.

4/15/2002 06:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANOTHER TALE OF IRANIAN FREEDOM here.

At least Peyman is alive, but 13 months in jail, eight months in solitary confinement, always blindfolded when led from one place to another, for no actual crime, isn't fun. Note the pointlessness of the blindfolding save to be cruel.


4/15/2002 05:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GORE VIDAL is a great writer of fiction.

4/15/2002 05:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IRANIAN TERROR CAMPS: It would be lovely if this weren't true. But it's likely true, much as many would, understandably, prefer to think otherwise.
Scores of Muslim militants from across the Middle East are receiving terrorist training at camps in Iran, undermining American attempts to deny extremist Islamic groups a base in the region, according to western security sources.

Many of the terrorists belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which is linked to Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. Officials fear its members may be planning an attack on US forces at a former Soviet airbase at Khanabad, near Uzbekistan’s border with Afghanistan.

Much of the terror training is being carried out by troops from the Revolutionary Guards unit at Tehran’s Imam Ali garrison. Fifty recruits, in groups of 10, have been receiving courses in ambushes, bomb-making, counter-surveillance and hand-to-hand combat.

A second centre has been established at Bahonar garrison, north of Tehran. Western sources said 22 militants were taking courses in urban guerrilla warfare and ideological studies as recently as late February.

The leading figures in charge of the teams include Hossein Mosleh and Ahmad Sharifi, both brigadier-generals and Revolutionary Guard veterans. Mosleh was one of the architects of the 1983 truck-bomb attack that killed 241 US Marines at their compound in Beirut.

Sharifi has been identified by intelligence sources as a key figure in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, the American military complex in Saudi Arabia, where 19 US personnel died. Both attacks have been linked to Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters.

The IMU is seeking to set up a radical Islamic state in Uzbekistan, but Islam Karimov, the former Soviet state’s president, has allowed up to 1,500 US troops to use the Khanabad base.

Iran’s recruits have also arrived from Turkey, Algeria, Lebanon, Egypt and other Arab countries.

Iran remains not a democracy (having a "Supreme Leader" is a clue), and the Ayatollahs remain extremely hostile to us.

4/15/2002 05:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | |
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AL QUEDA VIDEO: CNN reports on the new al Queda tape.
It was not immediately clear when the tape was made. The deputy with bin Laden is Ayman Al-Zawahiri.

"This great victory that has been accomplished can only be attributed to God alone," Al-Zawahiri says on the tape. "It is not because of our skill ... but thanks to God it was possible. ... Allah looks in the heart of his worshippers and chooses those who are qualified for his mercy, grace and blessing. Those 19 brothers who went out and gave their souls to Allah almighty, God almighty has granted them this victory we are enjoying now."

[...]

In that tape, a man identified as Ahmed Ibrahim Al Haznawi talks about his plans for attacks in the heartland of the United States. The FBI said Al Haznawi was aboard United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania. It is time to kill the Americans on their own soil among their sons and next to their soldiers and intelligence agencies. ... We killed them outside their country, praise is to God, and today we kill them on their own soil," the man says on the tape.

A cross-check of the videotape with pictures of the hijackers on the FBI's Web site appears to show a match for Al Haznawi.

The tape shows a bearded man wearing an Arab kaffiyeh or headdress, reading a prepared statement. Behind the man, a graphic appears -- apparently electronically inserted -- of New York's World Trade Center in flames after the attacks. Words also appear that say, "Get the infidels out of the Arabian peninsula."

[...]

According to a statement from Al-Jazeera, the documentary is called, "The Wills of the New York and Washington Battle Martyrs," and the the title is surrounded by pictures of the 19 hijackers.

The hourlong tape contains shots of various al Qaeda leaders, Al-Jazeera said, adding that the narration appears to have been recorded recently.

Remember all those folks who insisted there was no "proof" al Queda was responsible, and thus it was wrong to attack Afghanistan to bring down the al Queda infrastructure?

4/15/2002 11:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, April 14, 2002
 
PROFILE OF CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS in The Observer here.

4/14/2002 10:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WANNA CHAT WITH PALS IN THE TALIBAN?: Find out about this k00! Talib IRC program here. Announces prayer times by song with an audio recording! Autopastes jihad facts! Use icon of John Walker Lindh! You won't want to jihad without it!

4/14/2002 09:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JUDE WANNISKI EXPLAINS:
Do Jews Control the Media?

Memo To: Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher, New York Daily News, US News&World Report, former publisher, The Atlantic Monthly, Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations

From: Jude Wanniski

Re: The Rev. Billy Graham's 1972 comment

Now don't get me wrong, Mort. I'm not saying just because you own a significant slice of the American news media and that you are a prominent Jewish leader means that Rev. Billy Graham was right in 1972, when he complained to President Richard Nixon that Jews control the media. I actually do think Jews dominate the news media when it comes to issues related to Israel, and I think that fact was what Nixon had in mind when he concurred.

[...]

Do Jews control the media? You bet they do on this issue.

Wanniski has many more helpful things to explain about Jews.
Min. Farrakhan tells of a dinner meeting with a group of influential rabbis in Chicago a few years back, a dinner arranged by Irv Kupcinet, the columnist. He says the dinner went beautifully and the rabbis suggested they adjourn to another room for coffee, to come down to business. He said one rabbi took out a sheet of paper with a list of demands, telling him that if he complied with them, they would assure him his problems with the news media would go away.
Read the rest and find out that 9/11 could have been prevented, if not for the perfidious Jews.
If you had agreed to meet with Min. Farrakhan when I begged you to, three years ago I think, perhaps you would have been able to persuade your colleagues to shift gears enough to give the Arab/Islamic world some hope on Middle East matters. And 9-11 might not have happened.
Osama bin Laden, as we know, works closely with Farrakhan, and takes advice about America from him. It all makes sense to Jude Wanniski, famous supply-side theorist. I'm sure he closely watches the purity of his bodily essences.

4/14/2002 08:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO: Oh, to be a monkey, and in Japan:
"There is one monkey that will sit in the road, betting that the car will stop, then he will jump on the hood and demand food," said Tomoaki Matsuo, a freelance television reporter who makes his living filming monkey encounters in this resort town 75 miles north of Tokyo. Others try to jump through open windows of cars moving at close to 20 miles an hour. "The cars almost get into accidents," he said.

Monkeys are spreading across Japan, a tidy, cement-trimmed nation more commonly associated with bullet trains than wildlife. From a scraggly postwar population of 15,000, the number of monkeys has increased tenfold in half a century, reaching 150,000 today. In contrast, Japan's human population, loath to reproduce, is expected to drop by half this century, to 65 million.

[...]

Some mothers now drive their children to school for fear of monkey attacks. Two years ago, Nikko became the first town in Japan to ban the feeding of monkeys.

"It just gets worse and worse," complained Toki Kaneda, 60, a resident of the Chuzenji Lake section who closed her souvenir store because of monkey theft. "We haven't been able to leave the windows of our second-floor rooms open for years."

[...]

Farmers who stay behind often wonder if they are growing vegetables only to provide monkeys with buffet salad bars. A new book, Protecting Mountain Fields From Monkeys, contains the latest in anti-monkey technology, including electric fences and 12-foot-high nets.

[...]

In cities, sensational news reports about monkeys "molesting women and children" have stirred police officers to form monkey posses, patrolling streets with nets and bananas tied to poles.

When that doesn't work, they get Pikachu to help.

4/14/2002 08:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YUM!:
First came the atom bomb, the stealth bomber and the airborne laser. Now comes the US military's latest fearsome weapon: the indestructible sandwich.

Capable of surviving airdrops, rough handling and extreme climates, and just about anything except a GI's jaws, the new "pocket" sandwich is designed to stay "fresh" for up to three years at 26 °C (about the temperature of a warm summer's day), or for six months at 38 °C (just over body temperature).

Read the mouth-watering details of how it's done. Can't get enough of those scrummy humectants, I always say! Sarge Stryker, prepare yourself: how can you stand the wait?

4/14/2002 08:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THEY HAVE BLOGS!: Of course, the element lacking here, compared to They Fight Crime!, is that for bloggers, being a Dynamic Duo is optional. But what the heck: memes mutate. Better than putrefication, though not as much fun as bushkazi. (Via Sore Eyes.)

4/14/2002 07:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THIS IS WHY MY GRAND AND GREAT GRANDPARENTS FLED EASTERN EUROPE AND RUSSIA::
KIEV, Ukraine –– A crowd of about 50 youths attacked the central synagogue in Kiev, beating three people with stones, hurling bottles and breaking windows, the rabbi said Sunday.

Kiev's chief rabbi, Moshe-Reuven Azman, said the mob marched down the Ukrainian capital's main boulevard shouting "Kill the Jews!" before attacking the synagogue shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday.

The assailants knocked the rector of Kiev's yeshiva to the ground and beat him with stones, Azman said. The rector, Tsvi Kaplan, was hospitalized overnight and released Sunday.

Azman said his own 14-year-old son, Jorik, and a security guard were also injured and that the attackers broke 20 windows in the synagogue.

"I call this act a pogrom," Azman said. "It's a miracle that it was not worse."

The attack occurred after Saturday evening services, and many worshippers had already left the building.

"We didn't understand what was happening. All of a sudden, we saw a crowd running toward us with rocks," Azman's son Jorik told Russia's NTV television.

Broken glass covered the floor of the synagogue Sunday, and police stood guard outside.

Here's the bit that makes it sine qua non classic:
Police denied the attack was anti-Semitic, saying it was a case of soccer-related violence. A soccer game had just ended at a stadium near the synagogue.

"The act was not motivated by anti-Semitism, but was an act of brutal hooliganism," Ukraine's Interior Ministry said, according to the Interfax news agency.

[...]

Azman would not speculate on whether the attack was linked to tension in the Middle East, saying only that it was prompted by "the general situation."

Including official police bullshit.

4/14/2002 03:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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RELATIONAL DATABASES: THREAT OR MENACE?: Long NY Times Magazine piece on the balance between privacy and security. Larry Ellison, unsurprisingly, wants the government to have One Big Database on us all.

I'm a bit doubtful this is going to happen any time soon, for a variety of reasons including simple bureaucratic and political inertia and centripedal forces. But people had better start thinking about and getting clear on what trade-offs they do and don't want.


4/14/2002 02:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ZOO LIFE IS LOOKING UP:
Vultures, once simply tossed dead rats, now get them wrapped in brown paper, which they must shred apart before dining. Dolphins press a symbol on an underwater keyboard to choose a particular snack or toy and will soon be able to watch film clips of other dolphins at play. In the spring, Wyoming toads are encouraged to become romantic, with piped-in mating songs and mist showers that simulate seasonal rain.

And after a fine meal, tigers can now relax under paw-operated showers with heat and pressure controls they adjust.

[...]

"We're trying to get inside the animals' brains," said Dr. Don Moore, the animal curator at the Central Park Zoo.

The zookeepers are experimenting with ways of reproducing the tasks, puzzles and routines of animals in the wild. These include using various toys, hiding food and changing temperature, humidity and smells.

There is a heavy emphasis on scents, said Dr. Moore — dung, blood, pungent oils, primate gland odor and perfumes. (Snow leopards, in particular, love Calvin Klein's Obsession.)

I can just see the tv advertising to that market.

4/14/2002 01:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARE YOU A VEXILLOPHILE?

4/14/2002 01:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PEEP SHOW: Enjoying driving around looking for WiFi access? Now you can pick up an X10 video receiver, and watch entertaining -- well, probably boring -- tv at the same time! Enjoy thrilling nannycams and security tv galore. Tape it, in case you have trouble sleeping!

4/14/2002 12:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BIG BAG OF SKIN FULL OF BIOMOLECULES: Dick Teresi begins his review of director of MIT's AI Lab, Rodney A. Brooks' FLESH AND MACHINES: How Robots Will Change Us:
In 1982 I was sitting in my office trying to convince a British biologist of the sobriety of the science magazine I edited when my publisher, a woman wearing a sheer silk scarf in lieu of a blouse, burst in with a large, flatulent dog on a leash. ''I want you to clone Grundy,'' she said, indicating the Rhodesian Ridgeback. By way of compliance, I wrote ''Clone Grundy'' on my desk calendar. She spun and left. The biologist had just recovered from this interruption when the publisher burst in again. ''Forget Grundy,'' she said. ''I want you to clone Bob.'' Bob was her husband and the owner of the magazine. I crossed out ''Grundy,'' wrote in ''Bob.''
Although Teresi has been an editor of magazines including Science Digest, Longevity, and VQ, the above anecdote is obviously about the late Kathy Keeton, and "Bob" is Bob Guccione, better known for Penthouse, which you'll have read is going down the tubes thanks to Internet porn, and the magazine, which certainly had questionable credibility, was Omni.

Resisting the urge to digress into tales of the extravagant parties Omni would throw back in the Eighties, I'll say instead that Teresi has always been an amusing writer, and this review of Brooks' interesting-sounding book is no exception. First chapter is here. Find out about Zen robots and other good stuff.


4/14/2002 11:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LIGHTNING ROD: that's what this book is. The words "children" and "sex" in proximity don't encourage calm consideration in most people.

4/14/2002 11:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M WALKIN' HERE!: New Yorkers think people who don't jay-walk are rubes.

As a born-and-bred New Yorker who grew up in Brooklyn (originally from Flatbush: you gotta problem with that?), who has lived in four of the five boroughs, I've always thought it telling that NYers divide people into two categories: New Yorkers and out-of-towners. What further distinction is necessary?


4/14/2002 11:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAKING CREATIVE ANACHRONISM PAY about a million dollars gross per year is a good trick. These folks are doing it selling medievalish clothing and more.

4/14/2002 11:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GET THE DISH: From the Middle East, and want news from home? Sure you do. After all,
"The American media is totally, totally biased toward Israel," said Hani Y. Awadallah, a chemistry professor at Montclair State University and president of the Arab American Civic Organization.

"I do see the bias," Mr. Ziv, the Israeli immigrant, said of what he considers an anti-Israel slant. "Certain programs are more annoying. They're not exactly Jew-lovers."

Who's more the victim?
For Middle Eastern natives, sensitivity to images and words about the conflict seems to increase with their distance from the action. Therefore, they want the straight stuff, and they want the world to see the suffering of their people.

"In Israel, there's less censorship," Mr. Ziv said, comparing its broadcasts to American television. "You see body parts."

Islam Hafez, an Egyptian who works at the Morgan Fish Restaurant, said that's why he trusts Arab news. "CNN does not show everything," he said. "Dead bodies. Al Jazeera does."

Parts, they show. Wholes, they don't.

4/14/2002 10:51:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, April 12, 2002
 
FRANCE PRANCE: Yeah,
BONDY, France (AP) -- In the latest anti-Semitic incident in France, a Jewish amateur soccer team was attacked during a training session in a Paris suburb, police said Thursday.

Fifteen hooded attackers wielding sticks and metal bars assaulted the team of teen-agers from the Maccabi Bondy association, a Jewish group, late Wednesday after making anti-Semitic remarks.

Nothing organized about those fifteen hooded fellows, of course. All just jolly good spontaneous fun. Be sure to pay attention to European commentary on Israel. It has no connection to this stuff.

4/12/2002 06:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CORDWAINER SMITH'S DAUGHTER spoke.

4/12/2002 04:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE AGA ROMANCE as seen from the Chicago area:
Few North Americans read Joanna Trollope, and fewer still respond to key words in her vocabulary such as Aga. An Aga cooker-stove is so expensive and versatile, it does everything but peel the potatoes, and its presence in a kitchen tells you so much about the occupants that in the Brit book review pages, the phrase "Aga romance" perfectly categorizes a novel.
I feel hot already. I love code-talking. Heck, I wouldn't even mind holding hands with Andie MacDowell.

4/12/2002 04:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU SHOULD HAVE HEARD OF HIM: John Pierce died. I know you never heard of him. Learn why you should have, please.

There aren't so many folks left who recall that Clarke's idea of "satellites" was mocked without mercy.

Rockets into space! What nonsense! They couldn't get there, they'd have nothing to push against!

This was the actual commonplace wisdom of newspapers, magazines, and pundits, a mere few decades ago. Only a few decades earlier, flight in the air, other than via hot air balloon, was obviously impossible. Today, nanotechnology is similarly inconceivable, and the possibilities of biotech and genetic research are viewed either with fear or incredulity.

And still it moves.


4/12/2002 04:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL:
The 17-year-old boys, all wearing yarmulkes, were walking home from a friend's house at 12:30 a.m. Saturday when two men with closely shaved heads approached them near Reeves and Cashio streets in Beverlywood.

"For no other reason than that they were Jews, one of the men punched one of the boys," Deputy Chief David Kalish said. The attackers knocked two of the boys to the ground and continued kicking and punching them, Kalish said. The men reportedly shouted anti-Semitic slurs, including "Heil Hitler," before fleeing in a dark-colored car with two other people.

Two of the teenagers were "beaten pretty badly," suffering cuts and bruises on their faces and necks, Kalish said. One needed several stitches above an eye. The third boy was unhurt.

[...]

Last year, 28 of 97 hate crimes in West Los Angeles were directed at Jews.

That was last year.

It's only going to get worse. (Via Ken Layne.)


4/12/2002 03:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT A WAY TO GO: You already know about Chavez's forced resignation after yesterday's bloodbath, but: wow.

4/12/2002 03:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OILY THEORIES: I keep pointing out that "the oil companies" have become the Masons of the new millenium: the Hidden Hand wild-eyed conspiracy theorists always point to as Behind It All, whatever the "all" of the day is. Spinsanity looks at the We Attacked Afghanistan To Get Oil theory as put forth by, yes, Ted Rall; I previously commented on this here.

Spinsanity also hears from Kirsten Selberg, the activist who compiled the list of "48 dubious achievements of President Bush" Michael Moore used without attribution or citation in Stupid White Men.

Still posted on the Voters March Web site, Selberg's list contains 47 of the 48 facts about Bush mentioned in Moore's book -- in the exactly the same order and with very similar wording. The only difference is that, unlike Moore, Selberg provides sources for almost all of her facts.

Representatives for Moore did not respond to requests for comment.

Selberg isn't happy with Moore.

4/12/2002 02:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, April 11, 2002
 
COCKBURN ADDS MORE FUEL:Remember Alex Cockburn's rambling anti-semitic piece the other week? Here's an even more incoherent followup.

Cockburn begins:

For those of you eagerly awaiting further uproar from this columnist on the unspeakable assaults on Palestinians on the West Bank, the carnage in the camps, the siege of the Holy Church of the Nativity by Sharon’s troops, a word of warning: this column contains reflections on barbecue, a subject that arouses even more passion than matters affecting the peoples of what used to be termed the Holy Land, so parental discretion is advised.

[...]

my cellphone rings. It’s a fellow from The New Republic called Frank something or other, who is eager to quiz me about some recent remarks of mine about the Internet being awash with anti-Israeli material. Amid the crackle and hiss of the ether and the roar of the interstate it’s hard to hear Frank through the no-hands speaker on my dashboard, but eventually I catch his purpose, and ask him flatly, in more-or-less these words, "Frank, is your purpose to accuse me of disseminating anti-Semitic libels, under the guise of relaying rumors on the Internet?" Frank allows jovially that this is indeed his intent. I tell him that in my opinion the stories about Israeli spies, as categorized in a DEA report discussed on Fox News, by the French site Intelligence Online and various other news sources including the British Jane’s, are legitimate topics of comment, as are the stories about anthrax dissemination involving an anti-Arab researcher.

We go back and forth on such issues until the static gets too bad. Later I retrieve a magnanimous message from Frank saying that he is conferring with associates about whether to deal with me in The New Republic. So I assume that at some point Cockburn will be stigmatized yet again as the purveyor of anti-Semitic filth. It’s all pretty predictable. The viler the actions of Israel, the more rabid and undiscriminating the assaults of their troops on Palestinians in the camps, the shriller become charges here that almost any discussion of Israel or of the Israel lobby here is by its very nature anti-Semitic. The day there’s a photo of an Israeli soldier shooting a child next to the font in that Bethlehem church you’ll find a big story in The New York Times about the troubling resurgence of anti-Semitism, with plenty of quotes from Abe Foxman of the ADL.

Cockburn then sails off into:
And on the topic of the Times, have you noticed how that great paper has had a front-page piece rubbishing the Catholic Church as a nest of molesters every day for some time, especially since Sharon invaded Ramallah? The uncharitable could see this as a preemptive strike against papal criticism of Israel’s actions, and also to shift attention away from the blood-stained molestations of the adherents of one of the other monotheistic religions.
I won't quote the rest of the piece: it's an incoherent mishmosh pinballing from barbeque to the Queen Mum to death row to god knows what.

It's hardly necessary to point out that Cockburn in his previously noted piece simply listed a variety of non-sequitur insinuations and accusations against Jews, saying nothing about Israel at all. This incidentally earned him astonished commentary by such as Matt Welch and Dr. Frank.

When asked about his anti-semitic assemblage by "Frank," above, he jags off onto how he's only talking about Israel. Which, of course, he wasn't.

There's no doubt that Cockburn has moved into Pat Buchanan and Joe Sobran land, where they can no doubt obtain the blessing of Billy Graham; how long until Cockburn is explaining that September 11th was the act of Mossad remains to be seen, but I won't be surprised when he reveals it.

Addendum: Dr. Frank has further comment. Franklin Foer's chastisement of Cockburn is here.


4/11/2002 09:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, April 10, 2002
 
ELECTION ROUND-UP: You heard that Ron Kirk won the Democratic nomination for the Texas Senate race. Lesser news, though, is that Scott Armey, Dick Armey's son, lost his race for the Republican nomination for the 26th District of Texas seat in the US House, and Republican Robert Ray, fresh from his special prosecuter job, pulled out of the New Jersey Senate race..

4/10/2002 11:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A LINE ON BYLINES: The Washington Post has suddenly taken to including bylines on their online front page, I observe. They've not always been doing this, and I never noticed, right?

4/10/2002 10:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, April 09, 2002
 
HERE TODAY, GONE TOMORROW, I expect, or by Thursday at the latest: the script to the soon-to-be-released Star Wars: Attack of The Clones. And, yes, from my knowledge of the film, the parts I've read so far are authentic. Well, mostly, anyway; probably some bits have been altered as a tag to reveal where this leaked from. Start picking your times in the pool for what hour LucasFilms will have their legal e-mails out by.

Addendum: retrospectively, I tend to think this is more likely a fan-written script based on the extensive and detailed plot outlines that have been posted on the Web for months now. I think this for several reasons, including that the script is still up, and that much of the dialogue seems questionable to me. In any case, I think you can rely on the general plot thread and set of scenes being largely correct; whether any further detail here turns out to be correct remains to be seen in the not very distant future.

Rumors that alternative names of this blog, incidentally, included "Anakgdikin" and "Nabgdoo" are only rumors.


4/09/2002 09:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HATTIE MCDANIEL WHO?: The Telegraph informs us:
[Halle] Berry, the first black woman to win an Oscar in the 74-year-old history of the Academy Awards, for her role as a death row widow in Monster's Ball, returned to the set with an inflamed cornea.
You can't blame them for missing Gone With The Wind. It's so obscure: who's even seen it?

Rumor has it, by the way, that people who aren't actors win Oscars, but that's probably not so.


4/09/2002 08:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE IRANIAN GLASS IS MORE THAN HALF-EMPTY it says here. (Via Natalie Solent.)

4/09/2002 07:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EATING REFINED STARCHES SUCH AS BREADS AND CEREALS may cause near-sightedness, according to this intriguing story, And look how useful Vanuatu turned out to be. They yam what they yam.

4/09/2002 06:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IN PASSING, David Remnick had this quote:
"We hate you," one of Yasir Arafat's senior aides, Ahmed Abdel Rahman, said last week, addressing the Israelis on the Al-Jazeera network. "The air hates you, the land hates you, the trees hate you—there is no purpose in your staying on this land."
I think he's holding back his sincere desire for compromise, don't you?

4/09/2002 06:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOD NEWS FOR MAYOR BLOOMBERG!:
Marijuana does not dent IQ permanently

Smoking marijuana does not have a long-term effect on intelligence, say researchers in Canada who have followed volunteers from before birth to early adulthood.

Heavy pot smokers did experience a dip in their intelligence quotient (IQ). But people who had once smoked heavily and then given up were right back up to normal, the study found. Light smokers appeared no different from non-smokers.

[...] Fried concedes that while IQ may be spared, memory and attention may be harder hit and is examining the effect now: "The most-often stated reason for quitting was they felt their short-term memory was affected."

They wanted to mention other reasons, but kept forgetting.

4/09/2002 06:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NEW SPAM-BEATING PROGRAM unveiled, named Folson.
The technology harnesses network technology usually associated with file-sharing programs such as Napster to quickly and efficiently distribute signatures identifying spam. The machine learning component of the system automatically identifies new junk email by making a probabilistic judgement of the content of a message.
Also suggested: beating spammers.

4/09/2002 05:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AND THE SMOKE SAYS: This is good Vatican politics, regardless of what the conclave ultimately decides:
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's doctrinal chief, said an African papacy would "only be to the Church's benefit".

Cardinal Ratzinger, 74, is viewed as a possible king-maker in the conclave that will eventually choose the Pope's successor.

The Bavarian-born prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told the German newspaper Die Welt that the Church's African leaders had all the qualities required for the papacy.

"They are absolutely up to the level of such a position," he said. As a result, it was entirely plausible that the "next Pope may come from there."

Yet Cardinal Ratzinger acknowledged that racism could prevent an African succession and that there were still "great misgivings in the West about the Third World".

There's more in the story. Did you know that the College of Cardinals is now only 15% Italian?

4/09/2002 05:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IN PASSING: CNN mentions:
But sources close to the terrorism investigation said Monday that, contrary to a report in Newsweek, it was not information from Ibn Al Shayk al Libi that led investigators to Zubaydah.

Al Libi, a trainer in the al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, is in Egyptian custody. It is unclear when he was transferred from U.S. custody.

The sources said al Libi is providing information to interrogators, but they refrained from calling it cooperation.

I'll bet. The US didn't transfer al Labi to be nice to the Egyptians; it was done, I'm quite sure, because of their ungentle interrogation techniques, illegal under US law.

I'm still wondering who shot Zubaydah in the groin while he was trying to escape, but I confess to not losing sleep over it in the least.


4/09/2002 04:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S NORML that Kirsten Danis was smokin' with this story:
Being mayor can be such a drag.
A pro-marijuana group is using a pot-positive quote uttered by Mayor Bloomberg last year, in a new $500,000 ad campaign to be unveiled today.

"Great. I'm thrilled," Bloomberg quipped sarcastically yesterday when asked about the ad after a joint press conference with the Fire Department.

Bloomberg bluntly admitted to New York magazine in April 2001 he had smoked marijuana in the past - and definitely inhaled.

"You bet I did, and I enjoyed it," Bloomberg said at the time.

NORML is using the quote in posters.

4/09/2002 04:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FIGHT THE GOTHS!: What about the Vandals? The WashTimes has the story on the release of this year's "Pig Book," the annual report on pork from "Citizens Against Government Waste". Their lede:
A youth-outreach program in Missouri expected to spend $273,000 to combat "Goth culture."
Surely more should be spent to fight the fearsome threat of clove cigarettes, and really really pale people? Perhaps a goth version of "Up With People!" should be formed: "I'd Be A Vampire, But I Suffer Ennui." No exclamation mark, of course: too much effort.

No, wait, I have it! Goth bushkazi!


4/09/2002 04:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TOWERS OF LIGHT: Keep them on.

4/09/2002 04:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I AM SO A VICTIM! is essentially the cry of Andrea Peyser, New York Post columnist. Well, her, her views, people on the right-wing, and "white" people, more or less. She takes some heat in the letters section of Romenesko's Media News for her assertions about the Photo Pulitzers, including:
I think the proof of the politics behind the Pulitzer jury's decision is obvious in the pictures. The Pulitzers today represent the best politically correct and left-leaning journalism. It so happens that the best newspaper photograph of the year features an American flag and three white male firefighters. By Pulitzer's standards, that made it a loser.
Unlike most mere mortals, Peyser is able to determine that there is One Objective Best in aesthetic quality. Next: Ayn Rand rises from the dead to immortalize Peyser as a protagonist.

(A couple of those awful left-wing photos that won can be viewed below.)

I'll point out, by the way, that the Culture of Victimization, like most things in life, is unique to neither left nor right. Everyone can play! Most people like to. Most people genuinely feel that My Side Is Most Ignored By Powerful Powers and is The Rightful Underdog.

Unsurprisingly, those on the flip side find that view incomprehensible, and conclude that this is further evidence of the other side's hypocrisy and outright malicious dishonesty. Whump, there it is.

Huzzah! They're both wrong! Both sides are sincere! People just don't spot the biases towards their own views and against the side they oppose, and since it's invisible to them, it obviously doesn't exist and is a lie. Wacky mishaps ensue.


4/09/2002 03:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WATCHING THE WATCHMAN: Although I'm generally a lot more positive about the New York Times than most bloggers -- left and right; I'm always amused about how friends from each side are so utterly convinced that the Times is so obviously biased to the [right/left] -- I'm in agreement with Dr. Manhattan's analysis of this editorial.

4/09/2002 02:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BROWSER CHECK-IN: If you're reading this with Internet Explorer 6, could you drop me a line at gfarber@savvy.com and let me know, please, along with what OS you're operating under, and which iteration of IE 6? If you've had problems loading the page with that or any other browser, please let me know. Also, is anyone reading this via IE 5.0 (not 5.5, but 5.0) and Windows 98? I've one complaint that it can't be read that way, but not so heard from anyone else. Thanks.

4/09/2002 02:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ALWAYS READ CALVIN TRILLIN, I say, because he's a writer whose every paragragh is gold: malleable, conductive, and brilliant. Why, he's the James Lileks of the Old Media world!

Here is a typically charming piece about the extraordinary and eccentric Shopsin's restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Normally, they take only a brief glance at the menu—a menu that must include about nine hundred items, some of them as unusual as Cotton Picker Gumbo Melt Soup or Hanoi Hoppin John with Shrimp or Bombay Turkey Cloud Sandwich—and then order dishes that are not listed, such as "tomato soup the way Sarah likes it" or "Abigail's chow fun."

When Kenny gets a phone call from a restaurant guidebook that wants to include Shopsin's, he sometimes says that the place is no longer in operation, identifying himself as someone who just happens to be there moving out the fixtures.

Here is a piece on the subject from 1975, which never mentions the name or location, and here is an interview with Trillin, where you can find some worthwhile thoughts about good journalism.
But most papers and magazines and television networks only went to Indiana when there was an important Presidential primary or a natural disaster. When they did end up there, they explained to readers in about the second or third paragraph why the story was larger than simply what was happening there, and therefore worth the time of important persons like themselves.
(Go buy his books.)

4/09/2002 02:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TAKE THE NIXON QUOTE QUIZ!: It's here.

4/09/2002 01:29:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHAVEZ VS. VENUZUELA CONTINUES: Yesterday the work slowdowns and stoppages in the oil industry began to come to a head: Chavez, in predictable fashion, threatened use of the military and made his usual attempts to rouse populism on his side.
In a long nationally televised address on Sunday, the president said the military could run oil production and refining sites if necessary. He also took the opportunity to announce that he had fired 7 dissident executives and forced 12 more to retire.

Blowing a soccer referee's whistle and calling the executives "off sides," Mr. Chávez warned about a "subversive movement in neckties" trying to destabilize the country. But, he warned, "I can do away with all of them," he said.

What a character. Aside from the usual ongoing turmoil in Venuzuela, this has significant effect on OPEC and US oil prices, of course. Venuzuela is the world's fourth largest oil producer.

4/09/2002 01:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AGAINST LONG-TERM OCCUPATION: Jim Henley lucidly points out some flaws in the objections to Israel's eventually withdrawing from the territories. I recommend his Offerings, even when they're qualified.

4/09/2002 11:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, April 08, 2002
 
THE MEDIA AND PATRIOTISM:
The worse things get, and the more the government loses its bearings, and especially its head, the clearer it becomes who is really to blame for the screw-ups of the administration - the unpatriotic behavior of the media, of course. The big shots flirt with the media when it praises them and pays them compliments, but not when it reports the dismal truth.
Sorry: this is about Israel, not the US.

Those interested in how the debate about appropriate behavior in the US plays out might take interest, and possibly amusement, at this piece in Haaretz. It kinda idealizes the US a tad.


4/08/2002 10:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CARPENTRY ON THE CABINET: Sharon has added three new ministers to the Israeli Cabinet and the unity coalition, announcing this in today's speech.

He's doing this to gain leverage against a bolting of the Labor coalition from the unity government, which would threaten to bring down the government. However, in adding these three, he's also giving Labor an additional reason to leave, because while David Levy of Gesher, former Foreign Minister, and a heavyweight, is only moderately militant and Gesher is moderate-right, Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy of the National Religious Party are another story.

The NRP brings all sorts of baggage with it, including its usual demands for all sorts of subsidies for its causes, but at this point in time, more to the point, Effi Eitam is the former general who cheerfully announced last week that there was no future demographic problem possible in either Israel or the West Bank or with Israel ruling the West Bank indefinitely, so long as Arabs have no right to vote. And, of course, there's nothing wrong with that, and that would be fine and good, in his view.

Their addition is unlikely to significantly sway the Cabinet at present, given the circumstances, and Cabinet politics are a sufficiently fragile situation of potential wide variance from week to week, anyway, so I'm not overly or unduly alarmed at this addition just now, and I wouldn't advise taking undue alarm, but I can't say I'm thrilled at this latest shuffle. Hope you had a cheery Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).


4/08/2002 10:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ORIENTING TOWARDS MECCA AT WARP SPEED won't be easy, but Dr. Weevil notes that Best of the Web quotes Imran Anwar, "Middle East analyst," Fox News Channel, as saying on April 6th:
"The media . . . does not really accept or show Muslims . . . as part of American society. . . . You do not see us in 'Star Trek.' 'Star Trek' is set 2,000 years or so in the future. Are you telling us that when machines will be able to have feelings and half-man half-wolf will be able to have love affairs with human beings, people like me will be extinct? So that is like cultural genocide that Hollywood conducts."
Dr. Weevil notes, with some detail for someone who thanks God with an exclamation that he is not a Trekkie, that Trek doesn't have Jews, Christians, Moslems, Hindus, or followers of any earth religion, though I note in his comment section the single quasi-exception to that.

(One shouldn't mention, of course, that it was Dr. Weevil who first compared the Blogoverse to the Borg Collective; goddamnit, he's a Doctor, not a teacher of classics. Oh, wait.)

Although Imran Anwar is off by a mere sixteen hundred to eighteen hundred years in his understanding of when Star Trek is generally set, and only the Great Bird of the Galaxy knows what he is thinking of regarding the "half-man half-wolf," it is interesting to see that, once again, Star Trek shows up as an important mental venue for how people envision the future and make it real in their mind. And if you're not there, you're not going to be real in the future.

As someone might observe: fascinating.


4/08/2002 09:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PULITZERS AWARDED. Here's an image not to forget: .

Here's another: .

Tom Friedman won his third Pulitzer.


4/08/2002 05:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY DO YOU THINK THEY'RE CALLED "PIGS"?: BBC tells us:
An Aboriginal activist is seeking permission from Australia's High Court to spear a senior police officer to death because he desecrated a sacred fire.
See article for details. Via Mac Thomason's War Liberal, in which he comments:
I figure this will cause the heads of Australian lefties to explode. After all, it's the death penalty! But it's Aborigine law! Clearly, this is America's fault! In some way I can't figure out!
Mac does a good job of finding interesting bits of news and supplementing with apt and witty commentary; visit him.

Once again, incidentally, it turns out that Prince Philip didn't make a "gaffe".

Mac also points to this piece about conspiracy theories, including:

[E]x-BBC presenter and Coventry City goalkeeper David Icke preaches that the world is being secretly run by super-intelligent lizards from another planet.
I don't see how the truth falls under "conspiracy theory."

4/08/2002 03:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FARMERS GENERATE FERTILIZER: California farmers are pleading for protection and subsidies.

"Competition is evil! It's unfair to make us compete fairly! We want Americans to buy their food more expensively from us!" they say. First, a blogging subsidy to protect us from unfair competition by those fiendish Aussie, Norwegian, and British bloggers, sez me. Protect the American blogger!


4/08/2002 02:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BOOK 'EM, DANO: The right to buy books without fear is the right to be free.
The Colorado Supreme Court refused to order a bookstore Monday to tell police who bought two how-to books on making illegal drugs, saying the First Amendment and state Constitution protect the right to purchase books anonymously.

The unanimous 6-0 decision overturns a ruling by a Denver judge who said Tattered Cover Book Store owner Joyce Meskis must give records of the sale to a Denver-area drug task force.

[...]

But the high court declared that the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution ``protect an individual's fundamental right to purchase books anonymously, free from governmental interference.''

Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, said the ruling makes Colorado law the most protective in the nation of a bookseller's right to protect the identity of its customers. Colorado's Supreme Court is the only one to rule on the issue, Finan said.

There's more in the article. This is also, need I point out, one of the good aspects of state's rights: they're often stronger than Federal rights.

ADDENDUM: The NY Times has its own story here; the previous link is the AP story.


4/08/2002 02:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU HAVE THE WEAKEST FACE; GOODBYE!: Thais are upset with their version of The Weakest Link: it's impolite.
While claiming high ratings, the Thai version of the TV quiz show has reduced contestants to tears, provoked national outrage and drawn an official plea to the producers to show mercy. Even the prime minister says he's a bit upset.

Critics say the show goes against the grain in Thailand, where politeness is a supreme virtue and disagreement is often expressed by smiling. This is, after all, a country whose airport welcomes visitors to "the Land of Smiles."

[...]

Supot Rattichunhachot, head of the program's production team [said] "There's a long way to go before Thais can put on a smile when they lose face or make mistake," Supot said. "It's just an Asian value."

I wonder how Candid Camera would go over.

4/08/2002 12:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, April 07, 2002
 
GUEST SPOTS WE WISH HAD HAPPENED: Ben Brantley, reviewing the Broadway incarnation of The Graduate, of Kathleen Turner's Mrs. Robinson:
Hers is a commanding presence, all right, although it might have been more appropriate in a guest spot on the late lamented Xena: Warrior Princess. At any moment you expect her to say, "Foolish mortal, how dare you defy me."
The review spends a lot of time on Turner's twenty second nude scene, but isn't very kind:
The stage version, on the other hand, turns the same plot into what is essentially a long-running dirty joke. Nearly everything seems as flat and two-dimensional as construction paper, as if this were "The Graduate: The Board Game."
Say, did you know that Dustin Hoffman was thirty years old when the movie was made, and Anne Bancroft was only seven years older than he was? Oh, you did. Well. Did you hear about what Olivier said to Hoffman?

4/07/2002 11:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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