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Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!
Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
LIGHT BLOGGING is predicted for this blog for some time to come. I've taken a crap job, due to a minor need to pay rent, that will keep me away from the computer all day, and which leaves me fairly exhausted when I come home.
I'll be trying to put in a few posts in evenings, as I can, and on weekends, but Amygdala wishes to apologize to its readers, and hopes they'll still visit until such time as circumstances allow a return to heavier and more widely-read blogging again. Which our corporate headquarters hopes will be darn soon.
LILEKS ON SOME BLOGGERS ON WELLSTONE: like all Lileks, extremely hard to find just one or two bits to excerpt, so go read the whole thing.
But if you're going to accuse someone of being kith and kin to tyrants and murderers, you have to realize that intentions do count, as I'll explain. And if you're going to call Wellstone a tyrant and group him with the A-list collectivists, insist that his vision of government was a gun to your head, then you have no gas left in the tank when it comes time to run over the guys who really meet those descriptions. We can have fun with the guy when he's alive, but death changes the tenor of the debate. Put the broad brush back in the muck bucket.
I read stuff here and there that took glee in Wellstone's death. Some folk seemed to think that a refusal to bury the hatchet and mutter the funeral liturgy was a Brave Stance, that the times cried out for a Truth Teller who branded Wellstone as the treasonous hell-bound scoundrel he really was. But there’s nothing brave about that. There’s no consequence aside from a few angry emails, scowls in the comments section, removal from a few visitors' bookmark lists. None of these people, if they had the opportunity, would say it to the face of anyone who had a loved one die in the plane crash. Hey, our prayers are with you, but I still think the man should writhe for eternity under Satan’s hoof. Sorry, but someone has to say it. They'd hold their tongue - either their own sense of decency would win the moment, or shame and cowardice would close their throat.
I suppose I should put on my best Mr. Potter face and snort that he got what comes to fools, and content myself with the knowledge that the Republic is better off without his breed of starry-hearted Tinkerbells.
But I can’t. You want to give it a try? Knock yourself out. Yank open the morgue drawer and shout at the dead. And if that strikes you as Brave, and that's what you call Principle, and you believe this is the necessary reaction to the senseless expense of human life:
As pretty much everyone knows, I lose my temper from time to time, and pop off, and say idiotic and assholish things. But one thing I don't at least recall ever doing is the above, and I'm grateful to not have to add that to my list of regrets.
At least two instances instantly spring to mind of people well-known in communities I was active in, each of whom I thought was a jerk, each of whom died surprisingly young. And many people lauded them and mourned them. And certainly the thought sprang to my mind to give voice to my reaction, which was, in fact, considered, and which I still hold, in both cases, long after the facts: that I though each person was an [bad word], and that the loss of them seemed to me a net plus to the world.
I thank $DIETY that it never seriously seemed remotely the right idea to me to give voice to these opinions.
They were and are my opinions. But contrary to Blogger Law, the world doesn't always need to hear my opinions.
In particular, people in mourning have no need to hear such an opinion, and I'd be doing a truly bad thing to thrust it out there, and cause that pain. (Even now, I see absolutely no reason to clarify whom I have in mind.) Because "honesty" is in no way the only value, and is not always rightfully the prime value. Neither is giving dispassionate analysis always the primary value.
Sometimes the primary value is shutting up, and letting people alone.
Uing a novel computing technique that resembles an elaborately staged billiards trick shot, I.B.M. scientists have created what they say is not only the world's smallest logic circuit, but also possibly the smallest that could ever be made.
The entire circuit covers less than a trillionth of a square inch. The equivalent circuit made from state-of-the-art silicon transistors takes up 260,000 times as much space.
Instead of using the transistors and wires of traditional electronics, the scientists stuck individual molecules of carbon monoxide onto a flat copper surface at specific locations. Then, using the tiny tip of one of their instruments as a cue stick, they knocked some of the molecules, setting off a cascade of collisions. The final positions of the molecules provided the answer of the calculation.
"The beauty of this experiment is opening our eyes," said Dr. Wolf-Dieter Schneider, a professor of physics at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. "There might be new possibilities in computing. This is a totally different approach."
BARBEQUE: GOTTA LOVE IT: Blogging is anticipated to be light in the next few days, but ya gotta cover the important stuff. Like a national conference on barbeque, complete with being presided over by Calvin Trillin. A Jewish spin:
Mr. Trillin argued that even the most observant of his fellow Jews could feel free to eat barbecued pork because of a little-known "easement" granted by the equally little-known Joplin (Mo.) Rebbe. But it was left to Marcie Cohen Ferris, a young scholar who grew up near Memphis, to disclose, less facetiously, that an Orthodox congregation there has held a kosher barbecue for the last 14 years, and that Corky's BBQ Restaurant has nearly perfected a kosher sauce.
Noting that one of the nation's largest Orthodox congregations lives cheek-by-jowl with dozens of restaurants devoted to "the pure unadulterated pig," Ms. Ferris asked, "Did a higher power place these Orthodox Jews in Memphis to test their faith?"
OH!Birds of Prey is about meta-humans. No one told me.
Great namedropping of Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, Nightwing. I wish I'd not missed the first two espisodes. Alfred Pennyworth is the butler! Great continuity so far. Good Oracle continuity, too. And Dr.H. Quinn is a great villain.
INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES DON'T SHAREnotes John Perry Barlow, along with other valid criticisms. Daniel Franklin amplifies why, and makes suggestions. Barlow suggests:
Intelligence has been focused on gathering information from expensive closed sources, such as satellites and clandestine agents. Let's attempt to turn that proposition around. Let's create a process of information digestion in which inexpensive data are gathered from largely open sources and condensed, through an open process, into knowledge terse and insightful enough to inspire wisdom in our leaders.
The entity I envision would be small, highly networked, and generally visible. It would be open to information from all available sources and would classify only information that arrived classified. It would rely heavily on the Internet, public media, the academic press, and an informal worldwide network of volunteers--a kind of global Neighborhood Watch--that would submit on-the-ground reports.
It would use off-the-shelf technology, and use it less for gathering data than for collating and communicating them. Being off-the-shelf, it could deploy tools while they were still state-of-the-art.
Mr. Crowe, 38, is playing Capt. Jack Aubrey -- Lucky Jack, to the Surprise crew -- in "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," an adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's widely beloved 20-volume cycle of seafaring sagas set during the Napoleonic Wars. The $120 million movie -- which 20th Century Fox hopes to transform into a multi-chapter "Master and Commander" franchise -- draws its central plot from the 10th book in the O'Brian cycle, "The Far Side of the World," although some characters and incidents will be borrowed from other installments, according to the producer Duncan Henderson. ("Master and Commander" is the title of the first novel in the series.) Mr. Crowe has expressed interest in continuing to play Aubrey, if the first movie succeeds.
The film will become one of Fox's major releases of 2003; whether in the summer or holiday season has not been decided.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said Tuesday it plans to set up 16 camps along its border with Iraq to stop a possible exodus of refugees fleeing any war there, but vowed not to let them enter the country, the official IRNA news agency said. <[> [...]
The Iranian army said last week it would seal the country's borders and take no sides in case of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq. Iranian officials have described their policy on any war on Iraq as "active neutrality."
The task force commander who oversaw the expansion of the detention camps at the United States Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has been relieved of his duties in what officials said was an effort to streamline operations there.
The commander, Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus, a Rhode Island National Guardsman, stepped down last week amid media reports that he had clashed with officers responsible for questioning detainees suspected of terrorist links. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Before the drivers were detained, few people in the United Kingdom were aware that it was possible to run a diesel car — however foolishly — on home-brewed fuel consisting mostly of cut-price vegetable oil from the local supermarket.
Interviews with residents and fuel experts disclosed, however, that the practice in question — essentially, making one's own fuel from a mixture of vegetable oil and methanol without paying taxes on it — is growing, particularly in Britain, where fuel prices are the highest in Europe. What sets the local evaders apart is that they were caught.
Earlier this week, officers in unmarked police cars lay in wait, apparently having been tipped off that lawless fuel-using was going on. Alerted by a telltale odor — cooking oil in fuel tanks is said to smell like used French fry grease — the officers stopped the miscreants, impounded their cars, and penalized them with heavy fines.
"The police officers got straight out of the car and went to the fuel tank and dipped it, and they found the cooking oil," one scofflaw told The South Wales Evening Post, which first described the phenomenon in an article titled "Chips Hit Pan in Diesel Car Scam." "I put my hands up to the offense and the car was towed away."
"If you use a substance as a fuel to propel a vehicle on the road, you have to pay duty at the rate of the substance" being substituted, Mr. Buxton explained. So, while vegetable oil at a nearby ASDA supermarket, where many of the scofflaws are said to have stocked up, retails at just 42 pence a liter, people using it on public roads should, by law, pay an additional 46 pence a liter in tax, as they would for gasoline.
Quite right, too, said Ann Rees, who with her husband, Barrie, runs Barrie's Plaice, a fish and chips shop in the center of town. "Everybody else has to pay the tax when they use the road," she said. "Why shouldn't these people?" Nor was she thrilled at the idea of cars reeking of fried food. "It's already on my clothes when I go home," she said. "I'd hate to have it in the road as well."
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- In the South, where the four basic food groups are barbecued, baked, broiled or fried, state fairs are filled with booths that sell everything from corn on a stick to club-like turkey legs.
For dessert, an odd new treat has emerged: fried Twinkies.
Phil Dickson, of Hot Springs, has sold about 1,000 of the batter-dipped, deep-fried goodies topped with powdered sugar since the Arkansas State Fair opened Friday.
No mention of any Scottish ancestry, which I believe exists. Of course, I'm a better news source than the AP, right? Let's see, here's another piece linking it to the Scottish fried Mars Bar, here's another, and another.
Aren't you glad you read me, and not just AP? It's news-on-a-stick! Deep-fried! Like your brain! (Not mine, which is boiled before baked, and then salted.)
Daily visits to NYTimes.com hit new highs in September, with an average of 1.28 million unique users visiting the site each day, Craig Calder, New York Times Digital VP for marketing, told me yesterday.
The September tally represents a 10% jump over the previous high of 1.16 million in October 2001. (See graph below.)
The jump in daily users puts the site’s daily readership solidly beyond the newspaper’s 1.2 million weekday circulation. An average of 1.3 million unique daily users is projected for October, Calder said
I can personally bear out this trend. A rigorous statistical audit by our crack staff of statisticians reveals that the online readership of Amygdala recently surpassed that of our well-known printed version! For proprietary reasons, however, our management will not allow us to release precise figures except to those who click on the PayPal button on the upper left, and become Distinguished Patrons.
10/15/2002 12:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
DAT DEBBIL DEMOGRAPHICS: Networks have it all wrong:
People over the age of 50 account for half of all the discretionary spending in the United States. Proportionally speaking, there are more of them than there ever were, and they are voracious cultural consumers. They watch more television, go to more movies and buy more CD's than young people do. Yet Americans over 50 are the focus of less than 10 percent of the advertising.
LAWRENCE LESSIGwrites about arguing the copyright case before the Supreme Court.
The most important first indication that was absolutely clear from the argument is that our fear was misplaced. The Court clearly got it. Though the other side had written literally 300 pages trying to show all the good CTEA did (and pronounce it like it is a disease -- sateeeya), the Court hadn't bought any of it. Congress was not acting to promote progress, it was acting to reward "court favorites." The only question the Court was struggling with is whether it has the power to do anything about it.
Now pause for a second to think about how important and good this struggle is. First: It is a rare but valuable exercise for any branch of government to worry about the scope of its own power. And the greatest virtue the Court exercises is the virtue of self-restraint. This is a reason to respect the Court, not criticize it (though how they exercise their restraint, or where, can be criticized, as I suggest below). But the general idea that it will restrain itself, despite believing a law is stupid, is a feature, not a bug in our constitutional tradition.
The team's theory is that microbes could be living in clouds 30 miles up in the Venusian atmosphere, where conditions are relatively balmy -- water droplets are present, the temperature is 158 degrees Fahrenheit and the atmosphere is similar to what it is on Earth. Using data from the Russian Venera space missions and the U.S. Pioneer Venus and Magellan probes, the team found chemical oddities there that could be explained by the presence of living microbes.
Amazingly, they manage to work war with Iraq into the story. Because, you know, Iraq has an outpost there, and Uday has mated with a Venusian.
Okay, just kidding about that last sentence, but not the previous one.
A POX ON IT: SMALLPOX AND "WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION":
Smallpox, or variola virus, is considered by many doctors to be the pathogen most dangerous to the human species.
Now fears about smallpox have returned, with the possibility that this biological agent will be used as a weapon in terrorism or war. A number of countries, including Iraq, Iran and North Korea, are suspected by United States intelligence agencies of keeping clandestine stocks of smallpox for use as a weapon.
This vaccine was developed in 1796. Would it work against a 21st-century biologically engineered smallpox? Probably not.
In early 2001, a group of researchers in Australia surprised and scared pox virus experts when they reported that they'd put the interleukin-4 gene, the gene that controls immune responses, into the mousepox virus and found that it made mousepox into a killer virus in naturally immune mice and deadly even to some vaccinated mice. (Mousepox is related to smallpox but can't infect people.)
If this particular gene made mousepox vaccine-resistant, then there is the frightening possibility that the gene could be added to the smallpox virus, making it vaccine-resistant — a super variola. The interleukin-4 gene is one of the most commonly studied genes. Thousands of scientific papers have been written about it and it can be readily purchased on the Internet by scientists. (The gene typically comes as a pinch of dried bacteria in a small brown glass bottle.)
Few people realize how straightforward it is to put a gene into a virus. Genetic engineering of viruses, for peaceful research, has become routine and standardized. The cost of supplies for creating a strain of engineered virus for an experiment can be less than $1,000, and it can be done on a laboratory countertop that's three feet long.
Pox viruses are among the easiest viruses to engineer in the lab because they readily accept foreign genes. The first engineering of a pox virus was done more than 20 years ago. There is little doubt that Iraqi biologists know how to do it. Smallpox could probably be genetically engineered in a couple of rooms in a small facility with relatively simple safety precautions, and it might be very hard for inspectors to find it or prove what was going on. A nation that has clandestine stocks of smallpox might thereby be able to make a strain that would do an end run around the American stockpile of the vaccine, with severe consequences.
When something can be done in science, in the end it is almost always done.
I seem to have utterly failed to communicate, to many, the bases of my concerns about biological and gas warfare and the consideration of them as "weapons of mass destruction."
The world, long ago, decided to draw a line, a thick wall of horror, around these weapons, set apart by treaties, not out of knee-jerk, or ill-considered, emotionalism, but as a political lesson to the world.
A lesson that these weapons have no justifiable use in a world we wish to live in, and that they must never be used. That they are too terrible to be allowed to be used. That civilization can draw lines, and attempt to enforce them. That all nations that use such weapons, or consider using them, are to be shunned, and all steps taken to shun them, and thus we seek to prevent, or at least limit, the ultimate use of these weapons.
And that's why we draw this line around "weapons of mass destruction," much as we might engage in ultimately pointless petty quibbling about numbers and ease of use and what consititutes the distinction between "attempted genocide" and mere "mass murder."
We draw the line, and use the term, and category, of "weapons of mass destruction" to say Do Not Use These. Never Again. Here we stop.
And that's why I'm so disturbed when people, people, of course, utter good will, but a lack of understanding of the history of these weapons and the international politics of them, attempt to break down these distinctions, to break down the taboos about use of gas weapons of death and biological weapons of horror, to say "really, they're not liable to be very mass, after all, are they?" (I don't accept that premise, but that's another argument.)
Because what they are saying, without realizing it, is "yes, we shouldn't treat the use, or manufacture, of smallpox virus, or ebola, or tabun gas, or sarin, or any other highly dangerous bioloigcal or nerve-attacking weapon as any different than use of cannons or bombs or missiles."
They're saying "we mustn't keep that bright line drawn, and threaten massive retaliation for crossing the line of use of biological or gas weapons." They're justifying, without thinking about it, the use of these weapons as as acceptable, if regrettable, as using a sniper rifle, a machine gun, a mortar, a tank, an F-16. Bad, but nothing special when a nation or group uses them. Not to be forbidden at pain of being nuked. Allowed, and merely fought back against with conventional weapons.
And if we grant this lack of distinction to our enemies, then, naturally, how can we not grant it to ourselves? And thus we see that this is an argument for why we should use, in carefully considered circumstances and situations, of course, these weapons. Because, after all, they are really no more dangerous or deadly or immoral than guns and bombs and planes and ships. And so we're not wrong to use nerve gas and biowarfare outselves.
And the world we then get, if we accept this, if we grant the acceptability of these weapons, if we don't keep them walled-off as "weapons of mass destruction" the world must never tolerate use of, or threat of, is a world in which, I guarantee, there will be a lot more "mass destruction," and death, of people. And quibbling with fiddly arguments about what set of digits counts as "mass" is irrelevant, and, far worst, a distraction.
Use of these weapons must be fought. Acceptability of these weapons must be fought. Arguments for the acceptability of these weapons must be fought. Arguments for elmiminating the distinctions the world has long held that make use of lethal gas, biological weapons, and nuclear weapons absolutely taboo, must be fought. And they should certainly be fought, with passion and certainty, by liberals, and all people who don't want to see these weapons used.
ADDENDUM: John Weidner comments and agrees strongly. PejmanPundit takes note. Fritz Schrank calls it "... important post(s) you should read [that] ... explains the need for concerted, ruthless, and complete action against smallpox weapons and those who threaten to use them."
On the negative front, I'm informed in e-mail that
"it's clear from the post that you have no intention of actually addressing anything said in [...] arguments on this subject"
"Not for the first time, you've chosen to assert that the core reason for disagreeing with Gary Farber is ignorance...."
HAROLD BLOOM is considered in, gasp, shock, slightly snarky fashion.
After all, a single man sitting down to write a grotesque literary encyclopedia, is pretty amazing; Bloom has done it, and it remains only to express the hope that few will make the mistake of using it as such.
TREMENDOUS NUMBERS OF DETAILS of IBM's involvement at the heart of the Holocaust, as further explicated by Edwin Black, author of IBM and the Holocaust.
The infamous Auschwitz tattoo began as an IBM number. And now it's been revealed that IBM machines were actually based at the infamous concentration-camp complex.
IBM spokesman Carol Makovich didn't respond to repeated telephone calls. In the past, when asked about IBM's Polish subsidiary's involvement with the Nazis, Makovich has said, "IBM does not have much information about this period." When a Reuters reporter asked about Poland, Makovich said, "We are a technology company, we are not historians."
But these latest revelations about IBM come during an unprecedented confession by officials of the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann (which owns Random House, among other properties) that its previous official company history was incorrect and that it actually collaborated with Hitler's regime and used Jewish slave labor.
Bertelsmann just released an 800-page report saying that company patriarch Heinrich Mohn belonged to a circle of supporters who donated money to a group called the "SS Sponsors Circle," which provided financing to Hitler's elite troops. As an October 8 report by The Wall Street Journal noted, Bertelsmann's new history stands in stark contrast to the previous official company record, which had portrayed Mohn as a devout Christian and strong opponent of Hitler.
The current chairman of Bertelsmann, Gunter Thielen, was quoted as saying the company, which is still controlled by the Mohn family, accepted the conclusions of the report. Thielen added, "I would like to express our sincere regret for the inaccuracies . . . in our previous corporate history of the World War II era, as well as for the wartime activities that have been brought to light."
Jewish leaders and others have pressed IBM to discuss its wartime activities, as companies such as Bertelsmann and Ford have done."
Thanks to the new discoveries, researchers can now trace how Hollerith numbers assigned to inmates evolved into the horrific tattooed numbers so symbolic of the Nazi era. (Herman Hollerith was the German American who first automated U.S. census information in the late 19th century and founded the company that became IBM. Hollerith's name became synonymous with the machines and the Nazi "departments" that operated them.) In one case, records show, a timber merchant from Bendzin, Poland, arrived at Auschwitz in August 1943 and was assigned a characteristic five-digit IBM Hollerith number, 44673. The number was part of a custom punch-card system devised by IBM to track prisoners in all Nazi concentration camps, including the slave labor at Auschwitz. Later in the summer of 1943, the Polish timber merchant's same five-digit Hollerith number, 44673, was tattooed on his forearm. Eventually, during the summer of 1943, all non-Germans at Auschwitz were similarly tattooed.
Tattoos, however, quickly transmogrified at Auschwitz. Soon, they bore no further relation to Hollerith operations for one reason: The Hollerith number was designed to track a working inmate—not a dead one. Prisoner deaths at Auschwitz climbed at a staggering rate. Various tattoo numbering schemes ultimately took on a chaotic incongruity all its own as an internal Auschwitz-specific identification system.
Central to the Nazi effort was a massive 500-man Hollerith Gruppe, installed in a looming brown building at 24 Murnerstrasse in Krakow, Poland. The Hollerith Gruppe of the Nazi Statistical Office crunched all the numbers of plunder and genocide that allowed the Nazis to systematically starve the Jews, meter them out of the ghettos, and then transport them to either work camps or death camps.
The trains running to Auschwitz were tracked by a specially guarded IBM customer site facility at 22 Pawia in Krakow. The millions of punch cards the Nazis in Poland required were obtained exclusively from IBM, including from one company print shop at 6 Rymarska Street across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto. The entire Polish subsidiary was overseen by an IBM administrative facility at 24 Kreuz in Warsaw.
And so on. Gotta PC? Consider its distant anscestral relationship to the Shoah.
Here's IBM's response from earlier this year. Be impressed.
In a further sign of deteriorating relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif has announced that the desert kingdom will begin fingerprinting all American visitors to the country, the Saudi daily Arab News reports.
"Our dealings with other countries will be reciprocal," the Saudi Interior Minister said."We'll deal with every country in the same way as they deal with us."
THOM FRIEDMAN is an acute columnist, I think most of the time, as my regular readers know, lame as they usually think that opinion, but in this case, last I looked, it was actually against the law to shoot people in DC suburbs.
"My role now is more than that of a businessmen," he said in a interview late last week. "I am also an international diplomat and political leader." A few hours after he gave that interview, Chinese police took him into custody.
The book in many ways embodied Ambrose's transformation from left-wing demonstrator to super-patriot.
I'm sorry Stephen Ambrose died at the age of 66; I've enjoyed his books.
But, commenting on this obit, I wasn't aware one needed to transform from "left-wing" to "patriot." Last I looked, there was nothing more patriotic than caring passionately about one's country, and wanting it to do the best possible thing. People are right and wrong in judging how the country should go about it, but patriotism is as left as it is right. Right and wrong, not right and left. Patriotism doesn't need wings to fly.
(Special hint to citizens of formerly fascist countries: patriotism is also not an inherently bad thing.)
In a new wave of such pre-deployments to the Iraqi front, Pentagon officials said on Friday that planning staffs from the headquarters of the Army's V Corps, based at Heidelberg, Germany, and from the First Marine Expeditionary Force, from Camp Pendleton, Calif., have been ordered to Kuwait. Troops involved in the deployment would number in the hundreds, officials said.
BRITONS FOR, OR AGAINST, ISRAEL OR PALESTINEexpress their views in a mandated under one hundred words, in the Independent's Sunday Observer.
A welcome number of sensible responses that the question "Who have most justice on their side? a) The Israeli people and their leaders? Or b) the Palestinian people and their leaders?" inheres several foolish premises suggesting an unjust response, and thus shouldn't be answered in the terms asked. A few brave souls speak up for Israel. A few educated fools know that the issue is black-and-white in favor of the (inseparable, indistinguishable) "Palestinian people and their leaders."
GOODBYE TO ALL THATsays Ron Rosenbaum. I think he's over-broad and over-strong in that he distinguishes not a naught -- let alone a kilonaught -- between the sensible Left and idiotarian Left, and otherwise paints in over-wide strokes and overly bright colors, but as a reaction to the idiotarian Left, it's a powerful piece. (Via Matt Welch.)
10/12/2002 02:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?: Sixty years ago began the first forced deportations of Jews from Belgium, and it's finally occurring to the Belgians to look into that. For the first time.
Between 1942 and 1944, more than 25,000 Jews of mixed European nationalities were deported from Belgium to death camps such as Auschwitz; only a thousand people survived. The big question, which has never been asked before, is whether the Belgian authorities were complicit in the deportations and murders and what responsibility they should bear.
As a result, troubling question marks continue to hang over large swaths of the Belgian establishment. Senior civil servants and police officers stand accused of helping the Germans identify Jews for deportation purposes and, in some cases, physically weeding them out from the general population. In Antwerp, for example, the local police helped the Germans and SS battalions staffed with Flemish volunteers catch Jews earmarked for deportation. Jewish groups also want an investigation into the role of the Catholic Church, which stayed silent throughout the deportations. And they want clarification on the role of certain Jewish lobby groups who they suspect of collaborating with the Germans.
WHAT USE IS SPACE?: It makes for costumed crimefighters! No, wait, that's not it. Quite.
Technology inspired by a NASA space probe will soon be helping detectives solve gun crimes and murder cases far faster. A simple handheld device that instantly confirms whether a suspect has recently fired a gun means lab delays will not allow suspects time to get away.
The idea for the device was hatched under a new collaboration between NASA and the US National Institute of Justice. The plan is to adapt taxpayer-funded space research to fight terrestrial crime.
Jacob Trombka, a physicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, set the ball rolling. He believes X-ray fluorescence (XRF) could be a key crime-fighting technology. It was used by NASA's Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) probe, which touched down on the asteroid Eros in February 2001.
X-ray fluorescence spectrometry can identify the chemical elements in a substance by measuring the wavelengths it emits when exposed to X-rays. NEAR's sensors simply recorded cosmic X-rays bouncing off the asteroid and beamed the details of the emissions back to Earth.
Trombka believes a handheld forensic tool could work along similar lines, taking X-ray fluorescence readings at the scene of a crime and beaming them to a computer for instant analysis. This way, forensics experts could quickly detect traces of blood, semen or gunshot primer on suspects' hands.
JOHN MCCAIN HAS RECENTLY BEEN UNMASKED as a conservative by some bloggers. Quel revelation. Here Russell Baker makes the case for McCain as a centrist.
He speaks critically of the Republican Senate leaders, Trent Lott and Don Nickles. He insults retiring Senator Phil Gramm of Texas, saying he abandoned a principled stand on foreign policy to gain a few votes in a 1996 presidential primary. With apparent pleasure he recalls telling a fellow Republican, Senator Exon of Nebraska, "You're a goddamn liar." During the same onset of high temper, he had to restrain himself from publicly denouncing another, Senator Shelby of Alabama, for "bad faith."
He criticizes conservative Republicans for pursuing isolationism in foreign policy. He criticizes Newt Gingrich's resort to "scorched earth tactics" that broke Democratic control of the House of Representatives and led to years of partisan bitterness. He accuses conservatives of letting "healthy skepticism about government sink into something unhealthy, an embittered loathing of the federal government."
THE WEEK AMERICA INVADED ITSELF: Good WP story on the Battle of Ole Miss, forty years ago.
Word of the gathering protesters reached Washington quickly. Troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne, among others, were en route. (Some commanders were given the option of leaving their black soldiers behind, the belief being that their presence might further incite students.)
That night, the rioting erupted. Gunshots cracked the air. Bottles and bricks were hurled at the troops. Sirens blared.
And Meredith slept.
Ruffians in pickup trucks squared off against the troops. Bayonets were drawn. Some of the rioters would prove to be from as far away as Texas. Arrests were made. Military trucks were toppled. In the spasm of violence, 28 marshals were hit by bullets.
Soldiers were guarding Baxter Hall.
It was a good thing Meredith slept. "He would have surely been killed," says Charles Moore, one of the first photographers to arrive, working on retainer for Life magazine.
Someone crept up on Paul Guihard, a European journalist, and fired a bullet into his back, killing him. A young man, a bystander -- it was later reported he was a jukebox repairman -- caught another bullet. Two were now dead.
They kept coming, Southerners intent on stopping Meredith. Night gave way to the wee morning hours.
"I got to Oxford at 7 in the morning, October 1st," says Charles Shockley, an Army officer who now resides outside San Diego. "I was the only black military officer there at that time in the morning. I noticed something strange. At the city limits there were some state police cars. Many looked fairly new. They had rebel flags on the antennas. One of them had 'Alabama Volunteers' painted on their car. They were coming to help the segregationists."
His first class was Colonial American history. When he walked into the classroom, a female student began sobbing.
But he was in.
The soldiers dared not leave his side. Troops kept arriving, more than 25,000.
A day after the rioting, 11-year-old Richard Howorth and his parents came to the campus. Standing next to his mama, Howorth -- now the mayor of Oxford -- looked up into the sky the same time she did. They noticed something. Military parachutists. His mother began to weep.
EGYPTIAN DEMOCRACY FANTASY declares Egyptian officials.
Western-style democracy, he said, will not be coming to Egypt or the rest of the Arab world as an immediate consequence of the ouster of President Saddam Hussein in Iraq, as the Bush administration says it wants.
The Bush administration regards President Hosni Mubarak as an ungrateful recipient of nearly $2 billion in annual assistance. Moreover, it views Egypt as a recalcitrant student of political and economic reform.
They may be onto something there.
Remarks by Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, that the Arab world would see a "march of democracy" after the fall of Mr. Hussein were dismissed by one senior official here as fantasy. "Cinderella," the official scoffed with a wave of the hand. "How nice of her," he said sarcastically. "Is she dreaming?"
At last month's congress of the National Democratic Party, Gamal Mubarak, 39, was the "new face" to emerge. He was promoted to the senior executive council and handed the post of steering the influential political committee.
A banker by training and a graduate of the American University in Cairo, Gamal Mubarak appears to understand the need to open up the political space in Egypt, say people who have met him.
Coincidentally, guess whose son he turns out to be?
So far the goals set by the government for political reform appear very limited. Nobody is talking of multiparty democracy. Rather, commentators say, the leaders seem to be probing for ways to groom a a new elite among a younger generation.
Most resolutely, he argued that the United States should cease what he called a habit of lecturing about democracy. "You can't have democracy without democrats," he said. "You cannot have democracy imposed on authoritarian societies."
There is a step-by-step process, he said, explaining: "You have to change the status of women, change the schools. Politics is a reflection of society."
But while Mr. Dessouki spoke of the changes within the party, the general political atmosphere remains repressive, diplomats said.
THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT. I respect William Saletan. Just not here.
Byrd, a little white-haired man, struts around his desk like a rooster....
I actually admired some of Byrd's rhetoric against a war. It's just me. As well as is my being lack of impressed with "little" being a disparagement (I'm short, let's go for it), and "white-haired" (I can see it coming). By all means, let's debate war on the basis of hair color and height of debators. This is an argument?
Addendum:It would have been terribly nice if Byrd had actually noticed that this is the 21st century, not the 20th. I realize that he's... somethng, but I'd hope he'd pay attention to those minor century passings.
RAISE SHIELDS: The US and British military have developed a force field to largely shield against the destructive effects of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). No shit. (This is a late August story I've only just noticed.)
Fitted on light armored vehicles such as personnel carriers, the force field uses a series of charged metal plates to dissipate the effects of rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), a weapon found by the thousands from Mogadishu to Kabul to Baghdad.
RPGs and other "shape charge" munitions derive their destructive power from cones of copper embedded in their noses. When the warhead explodes, it crushes the cone, shooting out a jet of hot copper at 5,000 mph -- instantly destroying anything short of a tank.
The electrical armor system, powered by the vehicle's regular supply of electricity, stops the jets by zapping them with tens of thousands of amps of current. This vaporizes some of the deadly copper jets and reduces the rest to a relatively harmless mixture of melted and pulverized debris that disperses around the vehicle.
In recent proof-of-concept tests by the British military, RPG attacks on an electric-armor-equipped personnel carrier left only dents and scratches.
Let me count: we've got communicators, what are essentially tri-corders, particle weapons, lasers, force fields, medical scanners, we're making anti-matter, and there are theories about possibly making a warp drive. All that's left is the most unlikely: the transporter. Get busy on those Heisenberg compensators, boys and girls!
10/04/2002 09:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
Iran showed its divided face yesterday when an unprecedented public-opinion poll revealed a strong vein of pro-American sentiment, so strong that the pollster was arrested.
The poll, which had been ordered by Iran's parliament, queried 1,500 people across the country about their opinions on the United States. The results found 74 per cent of respondents over the age of 15 in favour of opening political talks with Washington; 46 per cent said they think U.S. policies on Iran are "to some extent correct."
Dissatisfied with that result, Iran's conservative judiciary took strong action against the National Institute for Research Studies and Opinion Polls, a government-run think tank. It ordered the organization's doors sealed on Monday, and arrested director Behrouz Geranpayeh yesterday, ordering him to appear in court today on charges of "publishing lies to excite public opinion."
LAWRENCE SUMMERS, former Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton, and now President of Harvard University, is quoted in full on anti-Semitism, by Brad deLong. Brad, one of Summers' former Assistant Secretaries of the Treasury, says:
Larry Summers worries about anti-semitism. Now he's gotten me worried: this is not an issue on which I'd expect Larry to be needlessly alarmist or excessively sensitive.
THOSE SCIENCE FICTION THRASH MUSIC GUYS are interviewed.
Professor J. B. "Jake" Stratton: We were always a metal band. We wrote those songs and I just thought of every fact I could think about those guys. . . . Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tolkien, and Moorcock.
McNulty: A. E. Van Vogt, who was my favorite writer at the time.
Stratton: We just wrote those off the top of our heads with the basic knowledge I got from reading the books and the little biographies -- and it wasn't until we started doing the band that we went back and studied up--
McNulty: And my mom gave me a couple books about it, like "here's a big book about these sci-fi authors." Thanks, Mom!
Stratton: So our early songs didn't have nearly enough details about the guys. They were just funny little songs.
SH: Who were the first songs about?
Stratton: Van Vogt, Burroughs, Moorcock, Philip K. Dick, Kenneth Robeson, J. R. R. Tolkien--
McNulty: Joanna Russ
Stratton: Well, Joanna Russ was second era.
McNulty: A lot of rockers don't think we're serious.
Stratton: They get there, and the first song is about Joanna Russ, the author of this and this, and everybody laughs. Some people laugh cause they know about Joanna Russ, and they know about the joke I'm telling, but most people laugh because they think the next song is about Satan and pussy. So they're like, okay, that song was about an author, but by the time the fifth song comes they're like, "oh shit, these guys are serious." And as soon as they start getting hit with books it's like, "oh, these guys really are serious."
Orgel: It's gotten Jake in trouble a couple times.
Stratton: I talked my way out of both of those fights.
McNulty: Either that or I have to actually fight.
I was Joanna's houseboy once when she was laid up after an operation. But that's another story. (Via Boing Boing.)
Decent interview with Maureen McHugh here, by the way.
BUSH'S USE OF LANGUAGEanalyzed and here's a classic Fleisherism:
Those who recall that Bush came to office promising to "change the tone" of politics to bipartisan brotherhood might have been surprised to hear the White House standard for bipartisanship. Turns out the support of only one Democrat -- maverick Sen. Zell Miller of Georgia -- can make legislation "bipartisan," as it did when Miller joined with Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) a couple of weeks ago in offering a compromise to break the impasse on homeland security legislation.
Bush, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said in a morning briefing, "is now supporting a bipartisan compromise on homeland security."
Keith Koffler, White House reporter for Congress Daily, was puzzled. "How many Democrats support this bipartisan bill?" he asked. "I'm not aware of any more than one Democrat."
"Well," Fleischer replied, "that certainly does make it bipartisan."
"So that's the new definition of bipartisan?" Koffler inquired.
"I think, frankly, that's the old definition of bipartisan," Fleischer rejoined. "I'd be shocked if all of a sudden the definition of bipartisan changed."
ARTHUR MILLER ON LIVING IN THE CHELSEA HOTEL in Granta:
Allen Ginsberg was hawking his new Fuck You magazine in the lobby sometimes, Warhol was shooting film in one of the suites, and a young woman with eyes so crazy that one remembered them as being above one another, would show up in the lobby now and then, distributing a ream of mimeographed curses on male people whom she accused of destroying her life and everything good, and threatening to shoot a man one of these days. I had a serious talk, or what I took to be one, with Mr Bard and his son Stanley who was gradually taking over, but they pooh-poohed the idea of her doing anything rash. As I slowly learned, they were simply not interested in bad news of any kind. Of course she shot Warhol two days later as he was entering the lobby from 23rd Street, aiming for his balls. But this only momentarily disturbed the even tenor of the Chelsea day, what with everything else going on.
Anyway, it was certainly more gemuetlich than living in a real hotel. In the early Sixties truckers still took rooms without baths on the second floor and parked their immense rigs out front overnight, and the Automat was still on the corner of 7th. There I often had breakfast with Arthur C. Clarke, who in his dry Unitarian-minister manner tried to explain to me why whole new populations would soon be living in space. Feigning interest in this absurdity I wondered what the point of living in space would be. 'What was the point of Columbus wanting to cross the ocean?' I supposed he was right, but not really.
MILOSEVIC'S WARDEN KEPT A DIARY, and Granta'sCelebrity issue has it. This is the prison in Belgrade, before Milosevic was moved to Den Hague.
Milosevic woke up at eleven a.m. He ate his breakfast: two hard-boiled eggs, some jam, bread and tea. Soon afterwards, his lunch came too: a potato stew and a hot loaf. Each prisoner receives one loaf a day.
Later that night, the ex-president complained his cell had 'surplus inventory' and was badly lit. We removed some furniture and brought him a reading light. He was very pleased—but had one other request. 'Could my wife please come over and make my bed for me?' I couldn't allow this.
There was polenta for supper tonight. Milosevic didn't like it. 'For the first time in my life,' he said bitterly, 'I'm eating without a knife and fork. I'm eating with my fingers.'
April 4 Mira comes every day at noon. The Milosevices usually talk for about an hour. Mira constantly checks her Sixties hairstyle in a make-up compact.
Milosevic was delighted to see his daughter. 'Where have you been?' he bellowed. 'My little terrorist!'
Marija was upset to see her father in such reduced circumstances: 'When you leave prison I will never allow you to go into politics again. This country doesn't deserve you. You are too clever.'
During his walk, Milosevic asked for some stale bread to feed the pigeons.
In the evening, Milosevic confided that he 'really loved' the bean soup today. 'Good enough for any restaurant. I could eat it all the time.'
May 5 Milosevic reads a great deal both in English and in Serbian. He reads thrillers mainly, as well as mysteries and spy novels. Among the books he has read are: Wilbur Smith, The Seventh Scroll, Robert Ludlum, The Corsican Story, Ivo Andric, The Bridge on the Drina, Petar Petrovic Njegos, The Mountain Wreath, Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind , John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, C. S. Forester, Captain Hornblower, RN and Lieutenant Hornblowerand Admiral Hornblower.
May 7 Milosevic has been demanding a haircut for several days now. He wanted his personal barber who has cut his hair for over twenty years. But I told him we had a very experienced barber in the jail. When the prison barber finished, Milosevic said: 'Sorry, Boss, but I don't have a tip to offer you.'
He thought for a while and then said bitterly: 'Those motherfuckers. They really are about to send me to The Hague, aren't they?'
'Tell me,' I asked, 'why didn't you quit while you were ahead, while you were still popular? You could be lying on a beach somewhere now.'
After a half-hearted attempt to justify his clinging to power out of concern for the nation, Milosevic paused. 'Yes. You're right,' he said. 'I did make a mistake.'
I had the impression that he was tired of politics.
SALMAN RUSHDIE COMMENTS ON MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ, and notes what it's like to become a generic noun here:
I have been trying not to write about Michel Houellebecq, if only because, these days, just about every writer who comes into conflict with the thin-skinned guardians of Islamic sanctities is forced to wear the "new Rushdie" cap, which is doubly depressing, firstly for me, because I detest having my name sloganised, as if I had become some sort of bad-mouthing literary category, and secondly for the writers in question - the "Bangladeshi Rushdie", the "Chinese Rushdie", and no doubt, shortly, the "first Rushdie in space" - who quite rightly resent having the darkest chapter of my story superimposed upon their own difficulties.
CHINA YANKS YANG: North Korea did an extraordinary thing a week or so ago, which I verged on blogging, but didn't, out of fear of Blogging Too Much. But it was a fascinating story, how they plan to set up a special economic zone on the border with China,
...the Sinuiju Special Administrative Region, a 50-square-mile patch of land along the border with China opposite the Chinese city of Dandong....
which would only be worthy of minor note in and of itself, but was added to by the fact that they plan to ship nearly all North Koreans out of it, and seal it off with a wall, and import foreigners to make the money for them.
They appointed a foreign subject as governor with more or less dictorial powers, according to reports. That person was Yang Bin, second richest man in China. Now China has arrested Yang, and is suppressing all news about him.
A Chinese source said the move did not mean China opposed North Korea's fledgling efforts to reform its economy. China, he said, was simply against the choice of Yang Bin, named in 2001 by Forbes magazine as the second-richest man in China, to head that effort.
Some Chinese economists and officials have privately criticized North Korea's choice of Yang, saying he is emblematic of a type of Chinese businessman who amasses fortunes making use of connections and legal loopholes.
One gets the impression, reading between the lines, that the Chinese authorities are calling Yang an extremely dubious character, linked to gambling and bribery, not merely capitalism, but it's hard to say for sure what is going on. I am, of course, shocked, shocked, at the notion that Kim Jong Il might pick a dubious character who might possibly more or less bribe him to buy his own mini-country.
Who says free enterprise isn't possible in North Korea?
THE SHARON POLICY analyzed, in the context of his Russian visit here.
A survey recently commissioned by National Religious Party chairman Effi Eitam, whose results were presented to the members of his party's faction this week, endeavored to discover the secret of the prime minister's charm - given that, under his tenure, there is neither peace nor security, but plenty of terror attacks and unemployment. It turns out that the secret lies in what one prominent leader of the Russian Jewish community in Israel refers to as "the muzhik's trick" (in Russian folklore, the muzhik is a wise and cunning old man): Sharon's trick is to give everything a try. The survey's findings show that there are two things that can cause an Israeli leader to fall from grace: questions about his personal character with respect to his temperament, relations with his staff and his credibility; and being perceived as a leader who does not seek new ways to resolve deep-rooted, existing problems. Somehow, despite his numerous zigzags, the prime minister is not perceived as having any negative character issues. And despite the fact that he hasn't managed to solve barely a single important problem that has landed on his desk, he is perceived as having tried nearly everything to solve every problem that lands on his desk.
For instance, when the idea of unilateral separation was proposed, he opposed it, but just so no one should say he didn't try, he agreed to the construction of a separation fence. And just so people should say that he isn't trying to advance diplomatic negotiations, he continues to send Shimon Peres abroad and to let him at least appear to try to patch together the rifts with the PA leaders. So that the right shouldn't say he's being too soft on the Palestinians, he pulverizes the Muqata and diligently lets it leak from his office that the army is not being sufficiently aggressive in its operations against the Palestinians. He understands that if the public knew there was an alternative that he hadn't tried - he'd be in trouble.
Sharon's method is to come out shooting in all directions. In Moscow, for example, he recycled the statement about how a Palestinian state will be established one day. So what do people want from him? He's really trying - everything.
A GERMAN MARXIST LEFTIST LOOKS AT IRAQ and reports on the horrors he found in his stays there.
A journalist, human rights activist and intellectual, Thomas von der Osten-Sacken is considered one of Germany's leading authorities on human rights in Iraq. He began traveling to Iraq in 1991, when he spent eight months doing humanitarian work in the southern part of the country just after Saddam Hussein crushed the Shi'ite uprising there.
The fear in Iraq, a BBC reporter said recently, is so palpable you can eat it. It's really indescribable. Syria is a dictatorship, but the fear and control in Iraq reaches into your living room. If there is no picture of Saddam Hussein in your living room, you might be arrested. There is no privacy. The Iraqi government considers everything political. In Syria, as long as you are not a member of the opposition, you can relax. You know you will not be harmed. But in Iraq, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may be arrested, tortured, killed."
You have said that estimates are that Saddam has killed approximately one million of his own citizens since 1979.
"Yes, that would include Kurds, Shi'ites, Christians and Sunnis. There were two huge massacres. There was the so-called Anfal campaign against the Kurds at the end of the 1980s when 4,000 villages were destroyed, and about 100,000 to 150,000 persons were killed, some with poison gas. Up to a million people were sent into internal exile. The other big massacre was in the south in the 1990s, where the regime has killed about 300,000 Shi'ites in the last 10 years. In addition, there have been enormous massacres against communists over the past two decades.
"The estimate of one million killed only includes civilians. A million Iraqi soldiers were killed in the Iran-Iraq war. A half-million Iraqis died of hunger or disease because of sanctions on Iraq, and more were killed in the Gulf War. Some 1.5 to two million people have been internally displaced, and 4.5 million Iraqi refugees are scattered across the globe. Ten percent of the Iraqi population has been killed or deported during the rule of Saddam Hussein. That is the essence of his regime. It is not an accident. It is systematic."
He also characterizes German policy:
"Anti-American and anti-Israeli-anti-Semitic. At the moment, you can hardly distinguish between the very far right wing and the very far left wing. The far right openly supports Saddam Hussein, saying that he is fighting the Jews and the Americans and thus supporting the German battle. And certain left-wingers from an orthodox left-wing tradition think that Saddam Hussein is anti-imperialist, anti-globalization, that he is fighting for the rights of the Arabs to self-determination. Others on the left say that Saddam may be horrible, but another American war will not solve any problems. The war will just help Israel's interest, so we should oppose it. This is also the governmental policy at the moment."
He's against any war to install another general, but if a war is for Iraqi democracy, he's for it, and thinks it can succeed. There's more here I'd like to quote than I want to spend space on, but I particularly commend his comments on his experience of the Iraqi regime towards the top, and his Marxist analysis, which might surprise some, towards the bottom.
10/03/2002 09:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
THE IRANIAN DETERRENT against Israel, they hope, is the Shibab-2 missile.
Iran's Shihab 2 long-range missiles are designed to retaliate against an Israeli attack, according to Ahmed Wahid, head of the Iranian missile development program in an interview with Al Hayyat yesterday, denying that Iran has any plans to target beyond Israel.
Wahid said Iran decided to develop the Shihab, which has a range of some 1,300 kilometers, in response to Israel's Jericho rocket.
He said that Iran is now working on plans to launch a satellite on a Shihab 2 as part of its efforts to install a spy satellite in orbit.
He said the Shihab test last May "had proved Iran's ability to develop long-range missiles beyond 1,300 kilometers and with great accuracy."
He added that Iran will "develop the missile to a range up to 1,500 kilometers, because out primary goal in its development is to reach Israeli targets in case Iran is attacked by Israeli missiles."
IS IT JUST ME or does John Lukacs make no cites whatsoever for his beliefs, impressions, and assertions, in this article wherein he deduces the Death Of The American Intellectual? To make an intellectual argument, he simply seems to pull it all out of his ass.
In earlier days, it was pleasant and entertaining and occasionally even inspiring to read something in (indeed, to "get something from") an article by Mencken or Macdonald that reminded one of something that one had already felt and known, although not quite as clearly as those writers expressed it.
This no longer happens, in Lukacs' universe.
Yes, the production, the technology, and the very use of computers and VCR's and DVD's and movies is much more complicated than the handling and the reading of books -- yet young people are soon adept at the former and not at the latter. Now the reading and the enjoyment of books seem to come later in life, with something like a growth and maturity. (College students, too, seem to graduate from television to movies, rather than to books.)
No cites. We just "know" this, apparently.
For the life of me, I see no sign of logical argument in this piece; Lukacs sets out to demonstrate that the Intellectual is obsolete, and contributes by using solely the Argument By Assertion. This demonstration may not have been his intended methodology.
I HATE THESE CRAZY LEFT-WINGERS: Or, as Robert Novak writes:
Sen. Robert Byrd, a master at hectoring executive branch witnesses, asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a provocative question last week: Did the United States help Saddam Hussein produce weapons of biological warfare? Rumsfeld brushed off the Senate's 84-year-old president pro tem like a Pentagon reporter. But a paper trail indicates Rumsfeld should have answered yes.