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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.
WHAT ART AND CULTURE CAN AND CAN'T DO is delineated as Bruce Baugh passionately skewers the pretensions of Jamie Delano.
Art isn't a holy mission; it's a craft, sometimes a job, drawing a set of talents that can be used in constructive or neutral or destructive fashion, just like the talents that enable people to be plumbers, programmers, and politicians. A healthy, vibrant society needs us, but it needs all of them, too, and it doesn't actually need us any more than it needs all of them, too. We just aren't that special -- and it is precisely when we get over the sense that we're entitled to specialness that we get our best shot at actually being significant.
"I protect the single girl living in the big city," says Terrifica, sporting blond Brunhild wig with a golden mask and a matching Valkyrie bra. "I do this because women are weak. They are easily manipulated, and they need to be protected from themselves and most certainly from men and their ill intentions toward them."
Terrifica does not claim to have superhuman powers or to be from a planet like Krypton. By day, she is Sarah, a 30-year-old single woman who works for a computer consulting company. (Sarah prefers not to reveal her last name so that she can protect her anonymity and still lead some degree of a normal life.)
APOLOGIES: I give up, for now. No matter following all the "tips" in the generally useless Blogger "help" (great that they've been "working" on fixing the template bug, and the archive bug, for close to a year now, without apparently making the slightest progress on a solution), and in the Unofficial FAQ, I still can't get my archives to republish, and have exceedingly limited time to work on this. So: my apologies for Disappeared Archives.
11/29/2002 09:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
Prime Minister Tony Blair today used an effusive birthday greeting to President Jacques Chirac to try to erase memories of a spat that caused the French leader last month to call off a traditional December bilateral summit meeting.
In a letter composed in French at 10 Downing Street and published today by the weekly Paris Match, Mr. Blair hailed Mr. Chirac as a stubborn fighter with a bent for defending his country's interests vigorously.
[effusive flattery elided]
Mr. Blair did not limit his charm offensive to words. He gave Mr. Chirac a "superb" fountain pen as a birthday gift, Reuters reported from Paris.
That should do the trick!
There was no immediate reaction from Mr. Chirac, and France has yet to reschedule the meeting with Mr. Blair.
WHY DEMOCRATS CAN'T THINK STRAIGHT ABOUT NATIONAL SECURITY is the subtitle of this right-on-target piece by Democratic forner Congressional staffer and Clinton speechwriter Heather Hurlburt.
Democrats are in this position precisely because we respond to matters of war politically, tactically. We worry about how to position ourselves so as not to look weak, rather than thinking through realistic, sensible Democratic principles on how and when to employ military force, and arguing particular cases, such as Iraq, from those principles. There are a lot of reasons for this failure, including the long-time split within the party between hawks and doves. But we will never resolve that split, nor regain credibility with voters on national security, until we learn to think straight about war. And we will never learn to think straight about war until this generation of professional Democrats overcomes its ignorance of and indifference to military affairs.
WE WANT TO OVERTHROW SADDAM HUSSEIN SO AS TO STABILIZE SAUDI ROYAL RULE asserts this piece and backs it with
...a very elegant paper released in September by the Institute for National Strategic Studies, part of the Pentagon's National Defense University. Entitled "Beyond Containment: Defending U.S. Interests in the Persian Gulf,"
The argument is worth reading. In short, it's that to maintain stabile oil prices, and thus US interests, in the regime, the US needs to lower its military profile in the long-run, which means getting our troops out of Saudi Arabia, in particular -- the casus belli of Osama bin Laden and pals -- as well as generally removing our bases in the region, which means overthrowing the One Big Current Threat: Saddam Hussein.
So if you can't use your main military base to carry out military operations, what good is it? That's a problem. And if those military operations turn the local population against our local allies, in this case the royal family, that's a potential crisis.
The solution, of course, is to remove the troops from the area. But for that to happen prudently—and this is the point argued by the institute's study—the U.S. must first remove Saddam, who is ostensibly the reason we're in Saudi Arabia in the first place.
As the paper explains, "Under present conditions, the U.S. military footprint in the Gulf is determined by the military concept of operations for the region's defense against Iraq."
That solidifying the Saudi regime is in the long-term interests of the US seems an argument not many would buy, and one would think it would be a particularly hard sell in most neo-conservative circles. But wait!
For some, the destabilizing effect could even bring advantages. "Removing the regime of Saddam Hussein and helping construct a decent Iraqi society and economy would be a tremendous step toward reducing Saudi leverage," William Kristol, The Weekly Standard's influential editor, said in congressional testimony in May. "Bringing Iraqi oil fully into world markets would improve energy economics. From a military and strategic perspective, Iraq is more important than Saudi Arabia."
See, actually it would help destabilize the Saudi regime, which is good!
It's probably because I'm home sick that following this logic is making my head hurt. Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 if you want to follow the argument, 0 if not.
TRANSORBITAL INCORPORATED'S PLANS FOR THE MOON have been noticed by the Village Voice, including quotes from Ian Randall Strock, and mentions of the Artemis Society.
TransOrbital's Trailblazer mission, slated to launch in the next nine to 12 months from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, seems to lack the cachet to save industrial civilization from imminent collapse. You can send a lock of your hair up on the ship, or a business card, for $2500. The launch vehicle has room for corporate logos on the side (think NASCAR, but faster) for $25,000 and up. TransOrbital will license high-definition footage of the moon and daily Earthrise to the movies. Baldly commercial and on a shoestring, Trailblazer replaces the old NASA goals of scientific research and military advantage with a new one of profit-seeking and, over the long term, homesteading on lunar soil.
Though TransOrbital isn't laying down stakes, it's worth noting that the mission was spun off from the Artemis Project, a commercial venture to establish a lunar colony. Artemis has also founded a science fiction magazine and the nonprofit Moon Society.
SMALLPOX, BIOTERROR, AND US: Richard Preston's The Demon In The Freezer is out; here's a fine review; here's the first chapter.
This is the third in Preston's trilogy on the bio-threat; the first, The Hot Zone was on the Ebola virus incident. The second, The Cobra Event, was read by President Clinton, directly causing him to confer with scientific/health/defence experts on the subject, and the immediate proposal of new Federal responses and budgetary changes.
...what this horrendous disease can be like (in ''flat hemorrhagic smallpox,'' the skin ''darkens until it can look charred, and it can slip off the body in sheets'').
In his discussion he emphasizes two recent scientific undertakings that exacerbate underlying tensions about the future of the official virus repositories and raise additional questions about the kind of experiments that should be done in this new era, and about whether they should be reported in widely accessible forms.
The first of these is a collaborative effort between the Centers for Disease Control and Army scientists, urged on by Jahrling, to determine whether our stored smallpox viruses can be transmitted to monkeys to establish an animal model for testing antismallpox drugs and vaccines. Because the story has not been reported in the scientific literature, many virologists will read for the first time in this book about the dozen or so crab-eating monkeys who succumbed to experimentally administered smallpox virus in the summer of 2001, even before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the anthrax outbreak that followed shortly afterward.
WHICH FOUNDING FATHER?: my quiz answers gave the wrong answer. I am not George Washington. This is the correct answer: (I try not to be this way, but don't say I can't be honest in self-critique at least some of the time.)
CHEM/BIO-WEAPONS CHECK: In a story about the high-tech tools weapons inspectors will be using in Iraq (not many revelations: they confirm that the "interview" is the best means), this fascinating tidbit:
Before the 1991 war, according to the United Nations, Iraq made at least 5,125 gallons of botulinum toxin, the deadliest substance known to science, and 2,245 gallons of anthrax agent -- enough to kill everyone on earth several times over.
Fortunately, as these are not "weapons of mass destruction," we have nothing to worry about.
Hanaa is rather interesting, by the way:
But by 2001, after years of biodefense funding, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California had perfected a two-pound device known as Hanaa, for Hand-Held Advanced Nucleic Acid Analyzer, which can recognize a microbe by its DNA, helping eliminate identification failures and false positives.
LEFTISTS WHO HAVE PERSUADED THEMSELVES that Christopher Hitchens has become a rightist haven't read this interview, or, really, too much else he's written.
The fact is, the right doesn't have anyone it can come up with from that period who was as prescient as Orwell. I suppose it represents progress that they want to steal him. But there are good reasons why they can't do that in good conscience. Almost all the critiques of Stalinism were written by people to the left of the Communist Party -- a group of anti-Stalinist Marxists that used to be called the "left opposition." If you look back at the wreckage of the twentieth century, this group comes out of it better than any other, because it was simultaneously opposed to the Stalin terror, to Nazism and its racist fantasies, and to the imperial concept of the world as a labor pool for Britain and France and Germany.
The Home Secretary has accepted our invitation to write in the Telegraph today about his thoughts on the forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill. A question of politeness arises here. Is it rude of us to ask him to write, and then to point out on the very next page that much of what he has to say is dangerous nonsense? On balance, we think not.
MY NEW INVENTION, WHICH IS MINE: I don't know why I didn't think of such an obvious thing before (has anyone else thought of it?), but it came to me in the middle of last night.
Bloggers tend to leave it to readers to be mind-readers as to how much the blogger thinks the Rest Of The Story should be read. So from now on, I'm going to tell you, with the Read The Rest Scale (TM pending).
Generally on a 1-5 scale, 5 will mean I think it's Must Read to Read The Rest, and, big surprise here, 1 will mean you needn't bother. Handy, eh? Yer welcome.
ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING, LEAST REPORTED races in the country was this.
One of the bitterest San Diego campaigns in memory came to a welcome close today, when officials declared that a state judge had ousted the district attorney after an 18-month campaign featuring charges of corruption, anti-Semitism, mental instability and sex discrimination.
And, oh, yeah, Judge Bonnie Dumanis of Superior Court is reportedly the first openly gay DA elected in the nation.
FUTURAMA'S FUTURE is still uncertain, it says, but here's a background bit on one element of its creative success.
One of his first jobs in the industry was as an animator for Marvel Comics, working on a television show based on the toy My Little Pony. "I was the only one who could draw the ugly pony," Mr. Vanzo said.
OH. MY. GOD. Prior to this election, I'd not have thought the Democrats might put a bullet in the collective head in 2004. But if this happened, I'd want to take one.
And after this fiasco, the less-than-stellar Gore campaign of 2000, and the black hole of '94, I'm less sanguine about the ability of the national Democratic Party to slog long and hard to slide down the gullet of defeat, never noticing passing in the wrong direction of the jaws of victory.
Only by boldly going where no major American political party has gone before can the Democrats reanimate an electorate growing increasingly numb under the dual burdens of recession and war.
Here's the deal: It's about damn time a woman ran for president, and the Democrats couldn't invent a better choice than California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She alone among potential Democratic nominees has the ability to bushwhack George II. She's America's political Snow White.
Feinstein possesses the charisma, the bearing, the campaign savvy and executive know-how that would highlight George Bush in all of his callowness.
And who better for Vice President than Fritz Hollings?!
If the Democrats desperately want to go for A Woman Uber Alles, better to go for real shock value, and nominate the new Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, or of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius. Or former Governor of New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen (shades of Jed Bartlett -- okay, a tough sell when you've just lost your Senate race, but she was a reasonably popular three-term Governor in a state that has historically been conservative GOPpy, only swinging somewhat more Democratic of late)).
Even more obscure, and therefore fresher as a national face, Ruth Ann Minner, Governor of Delaware. For Senators, there's Patty Murray of Washington. (Les unlikely, at least, than Barbaras Mikulski or Boxer.)
All incredible long shots, but then, so was Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton wasn't exactly a nationally renowned dinosaur, either. And the argument here is to take the long shot, and find a non-dinosaur. That part has good arguments behind it, at least.
But what dirt does Feinstein have on this columnist Krusty?
The creative force behind Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Daredevil filed a $10 million lawsuit Tuesday, charging his old comic book company is cheating him out of millions of dollars in movie profits.
Stan Lee, who crafted a menagerie of superpowered heroes with very human flaws, now claims Marvel Entertainment Inc. has tried to shut him out of the "jackpot'' success of this summer's "Spider-Man'' movie.
Lee's attorneys filed court papers in Manhattan federal court, claiming that Marvel signed a deal to give their client 10 percent of any profits from his characters used in films and television shows.
Lee hopes a judge will intervene and make sure he gets a percentage of profits from the Ben Affleck movie "Daredevil,'' scheduled for release in February.
He also seeks a share of profits from the upcoming movie "The Hulk,'' and the sequels to "X-Men'' and "Spider-Man.''
The lawsuit demands damages and a court order forcing Marvel to turn over Lee's share in any profits from movies about characters he created.
KHOST, Afghanistan -- This spring, Hakim Taniwal, a former sociology professor, returned to this lawless corner of southeast Afghanistan vowing to use persuasion to oust a bandoleer-wearing warlord with a habit of lobbing rockets into cities.
Six months later, the soft-spoken academic has changed this part of Afghanistan, and it has changed him.
"Sometimes you have to use the gun to remove the gun," he gingerly explained in a recent interview. "I was forced to."
After months of failed negotiations with the local warlord, Padsha Khan Zadran, Mr. Taniwal borrowed about $125,000 from local businessmen tired of turmoil and did what warlords do: he raised an army. With a tinge of guilty excitement in his voice, Mr. Taniwal described how his soldiers trounced Mr. Zadran's forces in a brief battle in the city in early September and sent them scurrying to the hills.
"The difference between him and me was that we trained these people," he said, with a new tone of military calculation. "He was not feeding them well and also not training them."
Mr. Taniwal said he achieved his victory without a penny in military financing from Kabul.
The focus on the checkpoint reflects the continuing importance of money here. As long as Mr. Zadran controls a checkpoint, he may be able to raise money and pay men to fight against Mr. Taniwal. Financially, the professor now appears to sit in a powerful position. He, not the illiterate Mr. Zadran, controls the border crossing with Pakistan, which produces thousands of dollars in customs fees. Warlords across the country do the same.
Hey, who isn't for private entrepreneurship? I gotta get me one of them checkpoints. Woohoo!
Oh, wait, that damned interfering hand of government.
...a new 90-story skyscraper that would be the second-tallest building in New York City -- and only a block from ground zero.
Friends of the developer, Trevor Davis, describe him as a visionary for his designs for a building that would be 1,050 feet tall, 4 feet taller than the Chrysler Building, but 200 feet shorter than the Empire State Building, on a block at Broadway and Fulton Street.
Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, the $680 million, 1.3-million-square-foot tower would be called 1 New York Place and combine shops on the bottom floors with 679,000 square feet of office space and 68 floors of apartments on top of the offices, on an entire block on Broadway, between Fulton and John Streets.
That's the NYC spirit. But:
After all, there are 15.4 million square feet of empty office space downtown, more than the entire commercial market in Atlanta. And after Sept. 11, a lot of people do not want to sleep or work at the top of a tall tower, especially one in that location.
I'd like to say I admire such plans. I'd also like to say I'd, should I be able to afford it, be willing to take an apartment up that high. I'm not sure I could.
One firefighter, out of breath after dashing to the 78th floor, thinks he can manage with two hoses.
Right behind you, says another fellow.
Whatever you need, says a third man.
Out of the avalanche of words about the events of Sept. 11, a mere 2,800 or so come nearer to the core of the catastrophe than any other documentary record made public so far. Those words, captured on a tape that was released last week, were spoken by firefighters who climbed high into the south tower and perished. As a fragment of human history, they have enormous weight. They map out a lost place. They narrate the final innocent moments, before the vastness of the horror became apparent. And because the language is stripped to business-only, these words are a reminder that emergency workers who went to the trade center were there not to pose for hero statues, but to rescue gravely injured people from a burning sky, a task many of them approached with a calm professionalism.
At 9:24, a firefighter calls in from the 48th floor of the south tower.
"15 Irons to 15."
"Go ahead, Irons."
"Just got a report from the director of Morgan Stanley. 78 seems to have taken the brunt of this stuff, there's lots of bodies, they say the stairway is clear all the way up, though."
"All right, 10-4."
The news filtered down to the ascending rescuers that many people were gravely injured or dead on the 78th floor, a sky lobby where scores were waiting for elevators when the second airplane hit. And as Chief Orio J. Palmer climbed toward the 78th floor, he sent back dispatches. He mentioned meeting a fire marshal on the 75th floor, not named, but the only candidate would be Marshal Ronald Bucca. Already, Chief Edward Geraghty, a few floors below, had been alerted about the injuries, and he was setting up a triage area, and sending for more help. Also making it to the 78th floor, just behind Chief Palmer, were firefighters from Ladder 15, led by Lt. Joseph G. Leavey.
Those who escaped from that floor described a desolate vista of death, the dying, and the trapped.
At 9:56, Chief Palmer reported what he saw -- many people, hurt or dead, and some fire that could be managed. His matter-of-fact report leaves to the imagination what the arrival of a fire chief and a fire marshal, with more help on the way, must have meant to the people still alive on that floor. They had been trapped for nearly an hour. In their final two minutes, they could behold the promise of deliverance.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME: I'm 44 today. Election day is often my birthday, which I've always thought appropriate, given how politically concerned I've always been.
I'm at an age, and a point, where a birthday causes many introspective thoughts, none of which I intend to write about here. But if anyone knows of any good writing, editing, or research, employment opportunities, I'd be extremely interested.
We're all going to have fun looking at the election news. I wish I had more time to devote to blogging about that, but I don't have much at present. We'll see how it looks tomorrow, but I'm also working late (away from the computer all day), and even later on Thursday. Let's just hope it works out well.
I wish people would quit doing this. He was one of the few people who invented the space elevator that you'll eventually ride on. He'll be immortalized by some sort of Big Memorial then, though you've never heard of him now. I only pray it will be better than Muzak, but I expect it will, though hologrammic (your signature is your holograph, silly), but not necessarily nanoish yet.