Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
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!
Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.
You must either open a Google/Blogger.com/Gmail Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software: sorry!
Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion.
Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.
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.
THE ECONOMICS OF FANTASY: I've discussed the economics of Norrath, the world of Sony's online EverQuest game before. Now Robert Shapiro points out in Slate that:
During the past year, nearly 16,000 people have downloaded a 40-page economic analysis of EverQuest, Sony's popular online fantasy world of Norrath. "Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier," by California State Fullerton economics professor Edward Castronova, is the No. 1 article in the history of the Economics Research Network, an Internet library of tens of thousands of professional journals and research papers in economics. The article, which you can download here, not only outpaces the online works of every Nobel laureate, it is also the fourth-most popular article on the entire Social Science Research Network, which contains more than 75,000 professional articles and abstracts in range of social sciences.
Much of the rest of the article is rehash, but the conclusions, and some intermittent bits, about how the economics of Norrath reflect on contemporary political theory are intriguing.
In this virtual world, a powerful government appears only briefly at the start, in the iron rule that everyone starts out with roughly equal assets. Then it retreats and lets economic nature take its course. In Norrath, more equality permits freer markets. This may provide the most important lesson of all from the EverQuest experiment: Real equality can obviate much of a democratic government's intervention in a modern economy. Many of our own government's current policies -- progressive taxation, securities regulation, social insurance -- are aimed at offsetting some form of inequality. If EverQuest is any guide, the liberal dream of genuine equality would usher in the conservative vision of truly limited government.
Saddam Hussein: Most Iraqi officials have been in power for over 34 years and have experience of dealing with the outside world. Every fair-minded person knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trustworthy.
It's charming that Tony Benn offered Hussein the opportunity to see his questions in advance. Benn doesn't ask any follow-ups about Hussein's repeated accusations about "those people."
You know who.
Read The Rest Scale: I suppose. David Aaronovitch's version is better.
BAGS OF RICE will be heard about more and more (the campaign started right here in Boulder).
In the 1950s, a pacifist group launched a campaign to feed starving people in China. They sent bags of rice to the White House, with taglines from the Bible: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him." It doesn't sound like the kind of thing that could change anyone's opinion. It sounds pretty silly and dreamy. But a decade later they learned that when President Eisenhower was considering the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict with China over Quemoy and Matsu, he repeatedly asked an aide how many bags of rice had come in. Tens of thousands, he was told. Eisenhower said that as long as Americans were that concerned with feeding the Chinese, he couldn't consider bombing them.
JOHN KERRY: Half-Jewish (by ancestry, anyway, of his paternal grandparents), and he didn't know it. No shit. (His brother, incidentally, converted to Judaism twenty years ago, also ignorant that their paternal grandfather was Jewish.)
REPORTING CIVIL RIGHTS is the anthology reviewed by Nicholas Lemman.
For those of us who grew up steeped in the many fine histories of the Civil Rights movement written over the past thirty-odd years (David Garrow, Taylor Branch, Juan Williams, Eric Foner, and many others), no news here, but a fine round-up, and for those not so steeped, this is an excellent catchup piece.
"We've lost complete control," said Jane Tollini, the zoos penguin keeper. "It's a free-for-all in here. After 18 years of doing this job, these birds are making mincemeat of me."
Speaking like Yoda, this zookeeper does. But since those birds have 18 years on the job, even attempting to maintain complete control is bound to fail.
It all started in November when six newcomer Megellannic penguins, formerly of Sea World in Aurora, Ohio, were brought in.
Since then the penguin pool at the San Francisco Zoo has been a daily frenzy of circle swimming by all of the 52 birds at once.
The penguins start swimming in circles early in the day and rarely stop until they stagger out of the pool dead tired at dusk.
I just flew in from Ohio, and boy, are my wings tired.
Wait, I can't fly! No wonder I'm tired!
The six penguins from Ohio started it all, Tollini said, apparently convincing the others to join them for the watery daily circuit.
"I can't figure out how the Aurora penguins communicated and changed the minds of the other 46," Tollini said.
It's that whiteboard they have hidden underwater. Along with lots of free wing-jobs.
"Genetically, they're designed to swim," Schaller said. "I'd be more amazed if the six had learned to do something not in penguin nature and showed the other 46 how to do it -- like if the birds were trained to jump through a hoop."
I'd be even more amazed if they, say, built a motorcycle.
Tollini said genetics aside, she hopes the Mark Spitz routine stops soon.
Mark Spitz swam in circles? Anyway, maybe it's a symbolic way of saying "I want to wear a different outfit than this tux, now, please?"
COMFORTING, YET NOT is this set of deliberate leaks, which include this eye-rolling moment:
Webster said that in 1991, Iraqi intelligence operatives carried sequentially numbered passports so that after the first few were identified and questioned, it was easy to locate others in different countries and pick them up. As a result, Webster said, "The number of terrorist incidents was very small."
Two terrorists in the Philippines blew themselves up trying to plant a bomb outside the U.S. cultural center in 1991. Another bomb was found before it could be detonated outside the breakfast room of the U.S. ambassador's residence in Jakarta.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened his meeting Monday with Labor Party Chairman Amram Mitzna with a lecture in which he explained the historic or strategic importance of those places that Mitzna vowed during the campaign he would dismantle and evacuate if elected: Hebron's Jewish enclave, and Gaza's Netzarim and Kfar Darom.
Mitzna came out of the two-hour meeting Sharon "shocked" and "more worried than ever" by Sharon's hard-line refusal to consider evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements and the Jewish community in Hebron, Mitzna told the elected Labor Party faction Monday. The faction backed his stand against joining a Sharon-led government.
The two-hour meeting Monday, said both sides, was pleasant. But it was a dialogue of the deaf.
I've already had my say about Hebron. And to maintain that settlements in the wasteland of Gaza are something any Israeli should die over is to maintain that Israeli settlements pretty much anywhere in the Mideast that Jews are mentioned in the Torah as having once lived in are essential. It's a hopeless argument that defies the idea of a Palestinian state (a position that many Likud supporters agree with, of course).
Read The Rest Scale: if you're interested in Israeli politics.
DEMOCRACY IS LIKE SAUSAGE, we at Amygdala are unsurprised to read.
Based on the results of a national survey, the researchers concluded that nearly half of us would prefer that the government's most significant decisions were made by "experts" or "business leaders" rather than by politicians or -- heaven forbid -- the average citizen.
The two professors found that democracy alternately bores people silly or upsets them in a fingernails-across-the blackboard, cellophane-crinkling sort of way. "They want democracy -- they just don't want to see it," Hibbing said. "They don't want to see debate. They don't want to see compromise. They don't want to see multiple issues dealt with at the same time."
It's so... so... messy! And I don't want to be confused with contradictory ideas!
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 for a few gruesome details. (But the Breakfast Club survey results further down the same page are rather funny.)
PERPETUAL VIDAL: From right-wing rag (not), Dissent:
Anti-Americanism is an emotion masquerading as an analysis, a morality, an ideal, even an idea about what to do. When hatred of foreign policies ignites into hatred of an entire people and their civilization, then thinking is dead and demonology lives. When complexity of thought devolves into caricature, intellect is close to reconciling itself to mass murder.
The invaluable Todd Gitlin on Gore Vidal, and anti-Americanism. He calls Vidal "now a witless crank," yet, strangely, Gitlin is not a right-winger. From the left, in reviewing the Grantaissue on America:
The dominant tone is sounded by practitioners of literary theory, for whom nothing is real, nothing to get hung about -- -except American militarism, American capitalism, America. Al-Qaeda is not much of an enemy, but bad interpretation is. Deadpan, the editors offer a translation of Jean Baudrillard's notorious Le Monde piece on the spirit of terrorism, with its claims that the American "superpower . . . through its unbearable power is the secret cause of all the violence percolating all over the world, and consequently of the terrorist imagination . . ."; that "We could even go so far as to say it is they who perpetrated the attack, but it was we who wished it"; and in a stunning crescendo, possibly the craziest sentence yet written about these awful events: "When the two towers collapsed, one had the impression that they were responding to the suicide of the suicide-jets with their own suicide." "Even go so far. . ." Those are the operative words, and not just for Baudrillard, from whom one expects this sort of thing.
To those who would say to me, "Don’t confuse these people with The Left, or with the anti-war movement," and "Why waste your time criticizing people who aren’t, after all, in power?" I would say: "I don’t," and 'It is important to criticize both." I sincerely hope that those who have complained for years about being ignored by the mainstream would welcome the scrutiny.
OKAY, BEFORE WE LET THE INS ARREST ANYONE ELSE, maybe we should make sure that everyone at the INS who needs to be arrested is arrested.
Tens of thousands of pieces of mail come into the huge Immigration and Naturalization Service data processing center in Laguna Niguel, Calif., every day, and as at so many government agencies, it tends to pile up. One manager there had a system to get rid of the vexing backlog, federal officials say. This week the manager was charged with illegally shredding as many as 90,000 documents.
Among the destroyed papers, federal officials charged, were American and foreign passports, applications for asylum, birth certificates and other documents supporting applications for citizenship, visas and work permits.
I once worked for someone with approximately the same technique, but it only involved publishing submissions, not one's life.
Doubts over the safety of genetically modified foods voiced by the British Medical Association were the main reason behind Zambia's decision to reject food aid in 2002, says a Zambian scientist who visited Europe this week. Famine still threatens 2.4 million people in Zambia today.
But thanks to the BMA, they are safe from "GM" foods.
Read The Rest Scale: depending on your interest in the issue.
No, you probably won't paint with it. Read The Rest Scale if you're interested in treatment for radiation sickness of the sort a radiological bomb would cause.
The FDA evaluated reports of a 1987 accident in Brazil where 250 people were contaminated with cesium-137 that had been abandoned after use in a cancer clinic, plus a handful of smaller accidental exposures to radioactive cesium and thallium and a toxic but nonradioactive form of thallium.
Prussian blue cut in half the time the body was contaminated, with minor side effects such as constipation, the FDA concluded.
But whatever the question, we always seem to hear that U.S. intelligence is searching for "proof." Or "evidence." Or the ever-popular "smoking gun."
This kind of talk implies that, if we could just collect enough intelligence, we would settle these questions.
The idea of the presentation of a decisive piece of admissible, convincing evidence might be an appealing metaphor, but it is a misleading one. Usually intelligence does not offer crystal-clear answers, and we should not hang decisions to go to war or do anything else on its ability to do so. In my own experience, intelligence is usually full of uncertainty. In the intelligence business, foolproof, airtight evidence -- the kind that changes minds and convinces the public -- is, as one of my first branch chiefs at the CIA used to tell me, as "rare as hens' teeth." That's why expecting intelligence to provide "proof" in the legal sense of the word is so dangerous.
Detective work and intelligence collection may resemble each other, but they are really completely different.
Old people can expect to die sooner if they have shorter telomeres, pieces of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes.
Researchers have long suspected that telomeres act as molecular clocks governing the process of ageing in cells, but until now nobody has proven the link.
"There has been a lot of hot air and prediction based on animal models. This really is the first time that facts have replaced that," says Elizabeth Blackburn of the University of California, San Francisco, discoverer of the telomere-building enzyme telomerase. But she cautions that the new research does not necessarily imply that shortened telomeres cause early death.
Geneticist Richard Cawthon and colleagues at the University of Utah measured the telomeres in a randomly-chosen group of 150 patients aged 60 or over. Those with shorter telomeres were eight times as likely to die from an infectious disease and three times more likely to suffer a fatal heart attack.
In healthy people, telomeres do not shrink significantly until old age because the enzyme telomerase ensures regeneration. But eventually telomeres get so short that the DNA strands either stop replicating or, worse still, start fusing together, often encouraging tumours to grow.
THE LAST REBELLION AGAINST SADDAM HUSSEIN: an extraordinary, wrenching, first-hand account of 1991, and how the US led on and let down the Iraqi people.
Written by Zainab Al-Suwaij, a young woman at the time.
By late afternoon on March 5, when the situation had calmed down a little, I returned home. My grandmother had been worried sick about me, but I told her not to worry. "If I live, I want to live in freedom," I said. "Otherwise, why bother?" "But," she argued with me, "none of this is organized!" I responded passionately, "Remember what President Bush said? If we rise up against Saddam, the Americans will help us."
I went up to the roof above the tank I was assigned to bomb. I watched as the other fighters down the street ambushed the tanks, one by one. Suddenly it was my turn. I pulled the pin and threw the grenade. The grenade hit its target. There were fires and explosions everywhere. There was a jolt through my body. For three hours I couldn't move and stayed hidden behind the wall; I just sat there praying. What had become of me? A 20-year-old woman, desperate for a future that was now slipping away, tossing grenades and vainly trying to hold off the tragedy that I realized was about to come.
By now, it was clear the Americans were not coming. President Bush had promised to help us if we rose up against Saddam, and we had believed him. But the help never arrived.
THE LETTER FROM THE EIGHT: I'm probably not reading the right blogs, or something, but I've not seen much, if any, response on leftist blogs to the letter from the leaders of Spain, Portugal, Italy, the UK, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Denmark. Any of my left-type readers have any comments?
2/03/2003 04:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
THE SOUTH KOREAN PAYOFF SCANDALcontinues, and the government acts in the best traditions of Richard Nixon.
Under pressure from their own government as well as North Korea, South Korean prosecutors decided today not to pursue an investigation into whether the South secretly paid the North to agree to a meeting of North and South Korean leaders two and a half years ago.
President-elect Roh Moo Hyun, an advocate of still greater efforts at reconciliation with North Korea, called on the government today to reveal all the facts about the case. Avoiding the issue of whether prosecutors should investigate, however, he said the assembly should decide on both the extent of the inquiry and who should carry it out.
Good political move, that. The more one can avoid the outright appearance of stonewalling, the better. Just as Nixon tried to move the Watergate investigations to venues he could count on to see things his way.
The implications of the charges of payoffs to North Korea became clear last weekend when North Korea attacked what it called "the sinister moves of a handful of forces going against cooperation, exchange and reunification." The result, the statement said, would be to turn back the clock, bringing inter-Korean relations "to what they were before" and making it "impossible to insure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula."
North Korea issued its statement two days after President Kim said payments were for the sake of inter-Korean relations and opposed a possible investigation as against the national interests.
Yes, well, inter-Korean relations should subsume all other questions, right? It's not like paying blackmail.
THE CASE ALLEGEDLY DEBUNKING CLAIMS ABOUT IRAQI WEAPONS is here. I've read through the whole thing, every word, and I have to say that it entirely misses the point, the point made so well by Hans Blix. Blix:
The substantive cooperation required relates above all to the obligation of Iraq to declare all programs of weapons of mass destruction and either to present items and activities for elimination or else to provide evidence supporting the conclusions that nothing proscribed remains.
Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1441 states that this cooperation shall be, quote/unquote, "active." It is not enough to open doors. Inspection is not a game of catch as catch can. Rather, as I noted, it is a process of verification for the purpose of creating confidence. It is not built upon the premise of trust. Rather, it is designed to lead to trust, if there is both openness to the inspectors and action to present them with items to destroy or credible evidence about the absence of any such items.
Blix gives a long list of some examples of outright violations by Iraq by keeping and not accounting for missiles, biological weapons, and chemical weapons. Later:
Mr. President, I have touched upon some of the disarmament issues that remain open and that need to be answered if dossiers are to be closed and confidence is to arise.
Which are the means at the disposal of Iraq to answer these questions?
I have pointed to some during my presentation of the issues, let me be a little more systematic. Our Iraqi counterparts are fond of saying that there are no proscribed items and if no evidence is presented to the contrary, they should have the benefit of the doubt; be presumed innocent.
UNMOVIC, for its part, is not presuming that there are proscribed items and activities in Iraq. But nor is it, or I think anyone else, after the inspections between 1991 and '98 presuming the opposite, that no such items and activities exist in Iraq. Presumptions do not solve the problem; evidence and full transparency may help.
Blix continues to outline examples of Iraqi lies and stonewalling, and how they could, instead, fulfill the disarmanent terms they agreed to, terms which they agreed to as the basis of the truce in 1991.
The entire report, above, is the case for the defense of Hussein, and, alas, rests entirely on the premise that Hussein is innocent until proven guilty, and what constitutes "guilt" is evidence that Hussein is presently, or will shortly be able, to launch a devastating attack upon the UK and US using proscribed weapons.
That is not, as Hans Blix notes, what constitutes guilt. Guilt consists of not acting the way South Africa, or Ukraine, acted when they decided to give up their nuclear weapons. Iraq is demonstrably not acting in any such fashion; it is lying, prevaricating, and stonewalling to a degree Richard Nixon could have envied.
Whether this guilt consitutes sufficient reason to go to war to remove the Hussein regime is certainly a "next step" question and the answer remains debatable, as does the following question, even if the answer is "yes," of when would be the appropriate time. Questions such as "should we give Hussein more time to cooperate?" may fairly be asked, though the case for the affirmative here seems to me faint.
(This question is usually phrased as "should we give the inspectors more time to work?" and I think that's based on a faulty and dangerous premise: the notion that the inspectors are competent and have sufficient resources to find most of the weapons programs without the active cooperation of the Hussein regime; I think study of the question shows the answer to undeniably be "no.")
I find the Blix report a fairly persuasive piece of evidence in making the case for war, sooner or later. (And, unfortunately, other strategic and political dimensions make a fair case for why "later" is not a good idea.) I find, I'm afraid, the case for the defense, made by Dr Glen Rangwala, an independent analyst at the University of Cambridge, entirely unpersuasive, and quite off-point (indeed, I find the considerable evidence of hideous Iraqi weapons programs, which it does concede to at least have existed in the recent past, chilling in and of itself).
COTE d'IVOIRE: I've kept thinking of blogging on the situation there, but kept holding back largely because I find French-bashing wearisome, and redundant.
Also, I have no expertise to speak about this complex situation. But the take in the country on the French and Americans is remarkable, and the topic came up in comments on my Lost Temper post.
As the Paris-brokered peace accord in Ivory Coast appears on the verge of collapse, papers in the country vent fury at the French for an agreement they describe as serving France's interests, not that of Ivorians.
By putting pressure on Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to sign the peace deal with the rebels, which promised them the defence and interior ministers' positions, France has "legitimised" the Ivorian rebellion, the paper argues.
This precedent is likely to encourage a leap back to the period when power was acquired through coup d'etat.
"The [Paris] summit has given a tacit go-ahead to any armed group to use military means to conquer power from any legal authority," it says.
France's aim, the paper believes, was to balance its relations with the government and the rebels so as to safeguard its commercial interests in the country.
France no, America yes
More anger towards France is expressed by the ruling Ivorian Popular Front's daily Notre Voie.
Anti-French demonstrations in Ivory Coast calling on "President Bush and the American people for help to confront Jacques Chirac's France, which is seeking to murder Ivorian democracy," the paper argues, "is a reflection of the deep feelings of the majority of Ivorians who want to sever the umbilical cord that ties them to France."
The paper appeals to the US to rescue the Ivorians "the way it did for France and the whole of Europe in the Second World War".
"Doesn't history teach us that France, which throws its weight around here, owed its salvation at the time only to the help of the Americans?"
"It is that same help the Ivorians ask for now, in the name of democracy and human rights," the paper says.
In neighbouring Burkina Faso, the weekly Bendre uses sarcasm to make a point about French involvement in Ivory Coast.
It features a photo of French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin and President Gbagbo. "My saviour!" Mr Gbagbo says to Mr de Villepin, who replies, "My cocoa!" - referring to France's economic interest in Ivory Coast's main export.
I take note yet again that the US is ever so much more beloved when our government is not the mainstay of support for the ruling elite. Funny, that.
See pictures here. The peace deal subsequently collapsed. Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5, unless you use the links to read up in greater depth; 4 out of 5 for the pictures.
I'm still somewhat on the fence, though I'm leaning to the pro-war side. This bit of Aaronovitch did resonate with me:
If, in a few weeks time, the Security Council agrees to wage war against Saddam, I shall support it. If there is no resolution but the invasion goes ahead, I will not oppose it, though most of the people I like best will. I can't demonstrate against the liberation, however risky, of the Iraqi people.
I don't condemn anyone for either anti-war or pro-war views; I only ask that they be thoughtful, studied, and considered views; I see plenty of good reason for people of good faith to take either view at this time.
TEA WITH AL QUEDA: Astonishing Peter Maas story of al Jazeera journalist Yosri Fouda's journey, at the request of the al Queda leadership, to spend two days:
[...] he was trundled to a safe house, where he met Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, chief of Al Qaeda's military committee, who confirmed that he was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Also present was Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was introduced as the coordinator of the attacks and who had lived in Hamburg with Mohamed Atta, leader of the hijackers. Fouda's hosts were among the most-wanted terrorists in the world. Mohammed alone was worth $25 million in bounty money from the U.S. government.
For 48 hours, Fouda lived with Mohammed and bin al-Shibh, sharing tea and takeout meals with them and listening as they explained how they plotted the 9/11 attacks. They said that they had decided that the time had come to take responsibility for a day of mayhem that they were quite proud to have organized. The decision to select Fouda as the messenger was made, they said, by bin Laden himself, apparently a fan of ''Top Secret.''
At one point, bin al-Shibh brought a gray suitcase into the room. Handing a cup of tea to Fouda, he said, nodding to the suitcase, ''Yes, it is my Hamburg souvenirs, and you are the first outsider to have a look.'' He placed his ''souvenirs'' on the floor, including a ''how to fly'' textbook and flight-simulator CD's that had been used by Atta. Bin al-Shibh showed Fouda, on one of his computers, his last e-mail exchange with Atta; to evade detection, Atta had pretended to be a young man in America chatting online with his girlfriend in Germany, using code words -- two high schools and two universities'' -- for the targets of the coming attacks. (The fourth target, Fouda was told, was the Capitol Building.)
Maas discusses how al Queda plays Fouda and how Fouda ends up slanting his stories.
The other day, Secretary of State Colin Powell was reminded that his boss is in bed by ten and sleeps like a baby. Powell reportedly replied, "I sleep like a baby, too -- every two hours I wake up screaming." The President's serenity is more worrying than the General's anxiety is comforting. And the storm approaches.
[...] and then Robbie Robertson, of The Band, came onstage to accept, on behalf of himself and Martin Scorsese, the award for Best Audio Commentary (Library Title), for the reissue of "The Last Waltz." Robertson peered out at the crowd and smiled. "Is it just me, or is this not the 'Twilight Zone' of award shows?" he said. "I keep expecting David Lynch to stand up and yell 'Cut!' "
In his seat at a small table toward the back, Tom DiCillo looked uneasy."Whenever the ceremony veers into a guy recapping the Olsen twins' earnings -- including clothing and dolls -- or just talking about DVD as a venue, that's when I feel like I have to get up and leave," he said. "I know that something like 'Night of the Evil Monkeys III' is going to win, and I don't know what I'm doing here."
Indeed, many of the awards went to sequels that were never intended for the big screen. The supporting-actress award, for example, was a tie between Lindy Booth, for "The Skulls II," and Cynthia Stevenson, for her work in "Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch." The Hanson brothers won, too. "It took us twenty-six years to get here," one of them said, referring to the length of time between "Slap Shot" 1 and 2.
Gee, I dunno how I missed Slap Shot 2. I pucked up.
Quentin Tarantino was ebullient when he accepted his special DVD Premiere Pioneer Award. He thanked the Academy for recognizing the creators of the kind of worthy low-budget exploitation pictures ("if you, like, made a really good women-in-prison movie") that no longer get shown in theatres. "Having worked in a video store for five years, there's a whole full-circle, snake-swallowing-its-tail kind of thing about winning this award," he said, wagging his head up and down. "All the guys who worked with me at Video Archives would be extremely proud of me right now."
Later in the show, the Hanson brothers returned to the stage to give out the best-original-screenplay award, and Tom DiCillo's name was called. DiCillo walked up to the microphone, hefted his award -- a glass disk set in a gray-and-black wood base -- and gazed out at the crowd. He took a moment. "I have to concur with Mr. Robertson," he said. "This is a unique evening." He smiled. "Somewhat similar to the first time I took acid, twenty years ago." Then he graciously thanked his cast and all the people who worked on the movie, and went back to his seat.
FAREWELL, NOT GOODBYE: Vaclav Havel left office as President of the Czech Republic on Sunday. Havel is another hero of Amygdala's, and we thank him for all he has done for his country, and the world, and we wish him all the best in this new stage of his life.
He leaves behind no obvious successor. The Czech president is chosen by Parliament, and no one has seemed up to the task. Last month, Parliament twice failed to choose a new president. "This is tiresome, but it is no great disaster," Mr. Havel said in his speech.
Amygdala points out that any of our editorial staff are available, and that we work cheap.
Alternatively, Arnold Schwarzenegger has expressed considerable interest in getting into politics, and he hails from nearby. And hasn't he shown in his artistic choices artistic ability to rival Havel's? Who could deny it? Hasta la vista, Vaclav.
AL QUEDA AND IRAQ: Interesting reportage and analysis from Jeffrey Goldberg on the extent (or non) of the Iraqi-al Queda cooperation.
In interviews with senior officials, the following picture emerged: American intelligence believes that Al Qaeda and Saddam reached a non-aggression agreement in 1993, and that the relationship deepened further in the mid-nineteen-nineties, when an Al Qaeda operative -- a native-born Iraqi who goes by the name Abu Abdullah al-Iraqi -- was dispatched by bin Laden to ask the Iraqis for help in poison-gas training. Al-Iraqi's mission was successful, and an unknown number of trainers from an Iraqi secret-police organization called Unit 999 were dispatched to camps in Afghanistan to instruct Al Qaeda terrorists. (Training in hijacking techniques was also provided to foreign Islamist radicals inside Iraq, according to two Iraqi defectors quoted in a report in the Times in November of 2001.) Another Al Qaeda operative, the Iraqi-born Mamdouh Salim, who goes by the name Abu Hajer al-Iraqi, also served as a liaison in the mid-nineteen-nineties to Iraqi intelligence. Salim, according to a recent book, "The Age of Sacred Terror," by the former N.S.C. officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon, was bin Laden's chief procurer of weapons of mass destruction, and was involved in the early nineties in chemical-weapons development in Sudan. Salim was arrested in Germany in 1998 and was extradited to the United States. He is awaiting trial in New York on charges related to the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings; he was convicted last April of stabbing a Manhattan prison guard in the eye with a sharpened comb.
Intelligence officials told me that the agency also takes seriously reports that an Iraqi known as Abu Wa'el, whose real name is Saadoun Mahmoud Abdulatif al-Ani, is the liaison of Saddam's intelligence service to a radical Muslim group called Ansar al-Islam, which controls a small enclave in northern Iraq; the group is believed by American and Kurdish intelligence officials to be affiliated with Al Qaeda. I learned of another possible connection early last year, while I was interviewing Al Qaeda operatives in a Kurdish prison in Sulaimaniya. There, a man whom Kurdish intelligence officials identified as a captured Iraqi agent told me that in 1992 he served as a bodyguard to Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin Laden's deputy, when Zawahiri secretly visited Baghdad.
For three decades this plot of land near the city's center was a dispensary of fear, surrounded by high concrete walls, brimming with guards. It was a headquarters for Iraqi military and intelligence services, known as a place of incarcerations, torture sessions and death.
It was from here, in 1963, that Kurds received one of their first tastes of the Arab Baath Socialist Party's designs for the Kurdish region, when units from the compound stormed into this city, rousting suspected dissidents from their sleep and bringing them to interrogation centers inside. Many turned up later in shallow, common graves.
The walls are gone now. In what amounts to an astonishing act of replacement, a place of horrors has become the city's version of Disneyland, as well as a social club, a roller-skating rink, an open-air theater and a swimming pool.
It is a 500-acre testament to Kurdish resilience, as well as a case of imaginative redevelopment in a region that has tried to separate itself from the image of Saddam Hussein. Kurds speak of this park as a symbol of possibility for all of Iraq, a sign of just how drastic change can be in territory wrested from Baath rule.
But there is nothing quite like Azady Park, a place so boldly reconceived that it defies the senses. For the admission cost of 1 dinar, at today's exchange rate the equivalent of about 13 cents, visitors frolic where the Iraqi government killed.
It is also still a place of considerable dread. Now and then, as when digging an artificial lake or planting some of the 12,000 new trees, laborers stumble upon more bones. The remains of 28 people were discovered in the late 1990's under a spot where bushes have been arranged into an outdoor maze.
I think knowledge of this sort of thing would not put me in quite the right mood for riding the (non-metaphoric) rollar coaster. I'm probably over-sensitive.
Statistics suggest that the state has taken the cruel art of sex selection, in which female fetuses are aborted, to new heights. Among children under 6, it has 820 girls for every 1,000 boys, according to the 2001 census.
When an expert NASA panel warned last year that safety troubles loomed for the fleet of shuttles if the agency's budget was not increased, NASA removed five of the panel's nine members and two of its consultants. Some of them now say the agency was trying to suppress their criticisms.
A sixth member, a retired three-star admiral, Bernard M. Kauderer, was so upset at the firings that he quit the group, NASA's Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, a group of industry and academic experts charged with monitoring safety at the space agency.
NASA said it changed the charter of the group so that new members, younger and more skilled, could be added. "It had nothing to do with shooting the messenger," said Sonja Alexander, a spokeswoman at NASA headquarters in Washington.
I'M STILL A LIBERAL despite being informed by another such, earlier today, that it was a tragedy that the space shuttle loss "wiped out the handful of women and blacks" in the space program.
When I demurred that this wasn't so, I was angrily informed that I was contradicting facts everyone knew, and that, after I again demurred, that what I was doing was even more aggravating, since everyone knew that I was contradicting the truth, for the sake of my need to be right.
Meanwhile, here are the qualifications to be an "active astronaut" with NASA, which doesn't include foreign astronauts we send up.
By my count, about 18 of these pros have names commonly given to women. Combining these 18 out of 80, with some of the "black" males (whom I've not yet ferreted out via DNA tests, nor cultural tests, nor other tests for being "black), it seems as if approximately one third of the astronaut corp is "women and minority."
All in all, it doesn't seem as if the tragedy "wiped out the handful" of women and minorities.
No matter what [the person I was arguing with] "knows" that "everyone knows."
ADDENDUM: I was assured by [the person I was arguing with] that my note to this effect proved that she was correct that I needed to be right. Perhaps it is so; I'm not objective. 30 or so out of 80 must indeed be a "handful," and there are no longer any significant amounts of women or minorities left in the US space program. I guess. FURTHER ADDENDUM: though I never mentioned any names in this post, I, in heat, made the error of using a polite common noun which could help identify the person I was arguing with; I have subsequently redacted that, as it was inappropriate and pointless and uncalled for.
AS I TRY TO MOVE FROM SHOCK OF HORROR, I note that in the past few hours, unsurprisingly, I've received over one hundred search hits on Peter Ginz, and/or some combination of his name with "moon landscape."
My heart is heavy beyond weeping.
I am still sick with sadness. Beyond weeping, I still weep. (Are their deaths more tragic than anyone else's? No. But when anyone dies, a universe perishes.)
ADDENDUM: At 9:40 p.m, it's past 400 searches for Peter Ginz.
PLEASE STOP: I've now read my third leftist blog response which charged that the Bush Administration would use this terrible thing as a reason to go to war.
You are a disgrace to leftism. Stop it. Just stop it.
I'd like to stand up as someone who is still more of the left than not, to say that I'm nauseated. But I can't blame anyone who looks at leftists who say these sort of things -- in the first few hours -- and is horrified. These people whose first thought is to leap to think about how it (allegedly) reflects badly on President Bush: fuck off and die. You have now topped by far all hysterical attacks on President Clinton. Which is an astounding accomplishment. Congratulations, assholes.
You are disgusting. You are scum. You are slime.
You are stupid, and your commentary worthless.
You will be the death of the left.
Have you no shame? At long, last, have you no shame?
Thank God for the inspiring words at the NASA press conference I listen to as I write.
THE PAY-OFF: More than $200 million dollars for Kim Jong Il to grant Kim Dae Jung his visit, and Nobel Peace Prize. Read:
President Kim Dae Jung faced mounting pressure today to provide a detailed account of why nearly $200 million was moved to North Korea shortly before he flew to Pyongyang for his summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in June 2000.
SCENT OF THE WING-NUT: Amygdala has no idea, yet, how genuinely good or bad The Recruit is, but our staff liked this A. O. Scott review. Bits:
...takes place within the shadowy world of the Central Intelligence Agency, where, we are repeatedly told, nothing is what it seems. This is true of the movie as well: it seems like a spy thriller, but it really isn't.
...this movie, directed with shrugging professionalism by Roger Donaldson ("No Way Out," "13 Days"), belongs to a very special genre: the Al Pacino crazy mentor picture.
Examples include "Donnie Brasco," "Scent of a Woman," "Devil's Advocate" and "Any Given Sunday." In each of these movies, Mr. Pacino is paired with a younger actor -- Johnny Depp, Chris O'Donnell, Keanu Reeves, Jamie Foxx -- to enact a peculiar generational battle whose outcome is usually a mutual learning of lessons.
Often, the temperamental contrast between the characters is reflected in approaches to acting. Mr. Pacino's style -- the Method gone mad -- is gestural and confrontational, with a lot of shouting and muttering, while his co-stars adopt a cooler, warier stance. His roots are in the heat and dust of midcentury American realist theater; theirs tend to be in the hip detachment of television. And though these movies vary in quality and interest, they share a lurching, improvisational rhythm that makes them interesting to watch.
...Mr. Pacino, with jet-black hair and a diabolical goatee, shambles and blusters in his usual way, turning the screenplay's flavorless dialogue (written by Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer) into mad poetry, full of non sequiturs, odd pauses and sudden barks and whispers. It is almost worth the price of a ticket (or at least of a video rental) to hear him utter the words "Bethesda," "Abu Nidal" and "Kurt Vonnegut," though not, I'm sad to say, in the same sentence, which would have been truly wonderful.
Poor Mr. Farrell [...] for all his confident smirking, anguished grimacing and brow-furrowing torment, his character remains a cipher. You never really wonder or care about James's motives or emotions.
Mr. Pacino, on the other hand, is an exuberant riddle, even though Burke's motives and emotions ultimately make no sense at all. Every time Burke opens his mouth, you wonder who on earth this guy is supposed to be, and your realization that the character, like the movie itself, is incoherently conceived hardly matters. It is both appalling and amusing to contemplate the C.I.A. as employing such a wing nut, especially as a teacher of the young. But really, what Mr. Pacino provides is an acting lesson, one that Mr. Farrell would do well to heed. In an unimaginative, by-the-book movie like this one, the best thing an actor can do is dare to be strange.
FREEMAN DYSTON ON NANOTECH: Here, reviewing Michael Chrichton's Prey and responding to the concerns of Bill Joy, co-founder and chief scientist at Sun Microsystems, regarding the dangers of nanotech.
Bill is advocating censorship of scientific inquiry, either by international or national authorities. I am opposed to this kind of censorship. It is often said that the risks of modern biotechnology are historically unparalleled because the consequences of letting a new living creature loose in the world may be irreversible. I think we can find a good historical parallel where a government was trying to guard against dangers that were equally irreversible.
Three hundred and fifty-nine years ago, the poet John Milton wrote a speech with the title Areopagitica, addressed to the Parliament of England. He was arguing for the liberty of unlicensed printing. I am suggesting that there is an analogy between the seventeenth-century fear of moral contagion by soul-corrupting books and the twenty-first-century fear of physical contagion by pathogenic microbes. In both cases, the fear was neither groundless nor unreasonable. In 1644, when Milton was writing, England had just emerged from a long and bloody civil war, and the Thirty Years' War, which devastated Germany, had four years still to run. These seventeenth- century wars were religious wars, in which differences of doctrine played a great part. In that century, books not only corrupted souls but also mangled bodies. The risks of letting books go free into the world were rightly regarded by the English Parliament as potentially lethal as well as irreversible. Milton argued that the risks must nevertheless be accepted. I believe his message may still have value for our own times, if the word "book" is replaced by the word "experiment." Here is Milton:
I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors.... I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.
The important word in Milton's statement is "thereafter." Books should not be convicted and imprisoned until after they have done some damage. What Milton declared unacceptable was prior censorship, prohibiting books from ever seeing the light of day.
MOON LANDSCAPE: You probably already read about the first Israeli astronaut, but I wanted to note this.
One personal item Colonel Ramon took into space is a piece of Holocaust-era art, a small black and white drawing called "Moon Landscape" that was borrowed from the Yad Vashem Art Museum in Israel. The drawing was created by Peter Ginz, a 14-year-old Jewish boy killed at Auschwitz in 1944.
At the concentration camp, Peter dreamed of faraway places and drew a picture of what Earth would look like when viewed from mountains on the moon.
"I feel that my journey fulfills the dream of Peter Ginz 58 years on," Colonel Ramon said.
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Monday delivered their 60-day report on the status of weapons inspections in Iraq. It was a less-than-glowing summary, with both men saying Baghdad is not cooperating with inspectors and is not being forthcoming on disclosing information about its weapons programs.
Who is the head of the UN Disarmament Conference for May?
Iraq will take its turn as the head of the conference, a U.N. spokesman said, because of a "purely automatic rotation by alphabetical order."
Therefore, joining Iraq as co-chair for the session in Geneva, Switzerland, will be Iran.
The conference chair helps organize the work of the conference and assists in setting the agenda.
Their journey led them into a frozen vault of Earth's history. They stood on rocks that blanket the oldest ice on the planet -- the remnant of a glacier that could be anywhere from one million to eight million years old. They examined freeze-dried algae, possibly 10 million years old and possibly still alive. In the process, they hashed out some longstanding mysteries about climate change here and on Mars.
The three major Dry Valleys and the mile-high mountains that separate them occupy a region about the size of Delaware and embrace some of the most unusual environments on Earth. At lower reaches, near the Ross Sea, frozen lakes partially thaw in the Antarctic summer and microscopic worms and algae come alive.
Farther inland, the valleys run into mountain barriers that block ice flow from interior East Antarctica -- an ice sheet up to two miles thick that covers more than 3.8 million square miles. Here the average temperature is 35 below zero. Except for tiny skiffs of snow that blow in from the ice sheet, there is no water. It has not rained for 15 million years.
But any day now....
Fields of polygon-shaped rocks that appear all over Mars and in the Dry Valleys are cases in point. In the Dry Valleys, "you walk around fields of polygons and you can't see anything but debris," Dr. Head said. "Then you dig down three feet and find ice, nothing but ice." Perhaps water flowed on Mars' surface and now lies frozen under its polygons.
In Antarctica, Dr. Head saw puzzle rocks — broken, scattered shards that Dr. Marchant could reassemble into a single boulder. The Viking 2 lander set down among such pieces, and it looks as if they fit together, too.
Another Martian mystery is the presence of pitted rocks. In the Dry Valleys, pits are formed when tiny amounts of snow melt on sun-warmed rocks and salts in the water erode tiny depressions. On Mars, people thought rock pits were caused by gases in lava, Dr. Head said, but frost landing on Martian rocks could also do the job.
Fortunately for Dr. Head, he is an adviser to NASA on Mars exploration and will be able to put his theories to the test when two rovers land on the planet a year from now. The rovers "will be traversing Mars, looking behind rocks, turning them over and looking underneath, drilling holes in them and digging trenches," Dr. Head said.
I canna wait. Among the most thrilling images I've ever seen are shots of "the little guy," the first, and so far only, Mars rover crawling over the Martian terrain (a couple of seconds of this are incorporated into the Enterprise opening, which you can watch with the sound off, if you prefer).
I look forward to Mars eventually having countless clouds of intelligent nano-probes exploring it. Meanwhile, in closer to hand alien territory:
While discussing the fate of Earth, the two geologists were thrilled to learn that one of Dr. Marchant's graduate students, Adam Lewis, had found a deposit of freeze-dried algae and insect body parts in the upper Dry Valleys. Based on ash deposits and other clues, the organic life could be more than 10 million years old, Mr. Lewis said, from a time before the monster glacier moved through the area.
Because the algae are freeze-dried, not fossilized, it may be possible to bring them back to life. "We'll put it in water and see what happens," he said, after efforts to date the material are completed by the end of February.
Oh, it will doubtless turn into an intelligent carrot, and begin stalking the experimenters at their lonely camp, the radio soon smashed, killing them one by one. I know about these things. My mind doesn't boggle.
Farmers must furnish pigsties with "manipulable materials" like straw, wood and sawdust under a European Union directive set to become law in Britain on Friday, although union officials denied reports that farmers must provide soccer balls or toys.
Employing a facet of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," scientists have taken particles of light, destroyed them and then resurrected copies more than a mile away.
Previous experiments in so-called quantum teleportation moved particles of light about a yard. The findings could aid the sending of unbreakable coded messages, which is limited to a few tens of miles.
The new experiment used longer wavelengths of light than earlier ones, letting the scientists copy the light through standard glass fiber found in fiber optic cables.
Still, the experiments show that scientists can overcome a seemingly insurmountable conceptual barrier, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
UNCONVENTIONAL IDEAS OF AND ABOUT GEORGE ORWELL are what we get in this excellent piece by Louis Menand. Much is familiar; some is not. Bits:
Orwell's army is one of the most ideologically mixed up ever to assemble. John Rodden, whose "George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation" was published in 1989 and recently reprinted, with a new introduction (Transaction; $30), has catalogued it exhaustively. It has included, over the years, ex-Communists, Socialists, left-wing anarchists, right-wing libertarians, liberals, conservatives, doves, hawks, the Partisan Review editorial board, and the John Birch Society: every group in a different uniform, but with the same button pinned to the lapel -- Orwell Was Right. Irving Howe claimed Orwell, and so did Norman Podhoretz. Almost the only thing Orwell's posthumous admirers have in common, besides the button, is anti-Communism. But they all somehow found support for their particular bouquet of moral and political values in Orwell's writings, which have been universally praised as "honest," "decent," and "clear." In what sense, though, can writings that have been taken to mean so many incompatible things be called "clear"? And what, exactly, was Orwell right about?
Honesty was important to Orwell. He was certainly quick enough to accuse people he disagreed with of dishonesty. But there is sometimes a confusion, when people talk about Orwell's writing, between honesty and objectivity. "He said what he believed" and "He told it like it was" refer to different virtues. One of the effects of the tone Orwell achieved -- the tone of a reasonable, modest, supremely undogmatic man, hoping for the best but resigned to the worst -- was the impression of transparency, something that Orwell himself, in an essay called "Why I Write," identified as the ideal of good prose. It was therefore a shock when...
And many bits of fictionalization, or fabrications in Orwell's non-fiction are pointed out.
The point is not that Orwell made things up. The point is that he used writing in a literary, not a documentary, way: he wrote in order to make you see what he wanted you to see, to persuade.
You need to grasp Orwell's premises, in other words, before you can start talking about the "truth" of what he writes. He is not saying, This is the way it objectively was from any possible point of view. He is saying, This is the way it looked to someone with my beliefs. Otherwise, his work can be puzzling.
Examples are given.
"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it."
Here we arrive at the challenge presented by the "Orwell Was Right" button. Hitchens says that there were three great issues in the twentieth century, and that Orwell was right on all three: imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. What does this mean, though? Orwell was against imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. Excellent. Many people were against them in Orwell's time, and a great many more people have been against them since. The important question, after condemning those things, was what to do about them, and how to understand the implications for the future. On this level, Orwell was almost always wrong.
And here Menand gives many truly amazing examples of how Very Very Wrong Orwell sometimes was. Go Read The Rest: it shouldn't lessen your deserved respect for all the places Orwell was Exactly Correct, or simply brilliant (though Menand argues with my example), but the perspective is invaluable, as are Menand's conclusions.
1/27/2003 03:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN, AND WHAT'S NEW IS OLD: Timewrite-up of the expansion of CIA special operations, with a potted history, enlivened with some sanitized first-hand accounts, and a bit on the turf wars between CIA and Defense. Nothing actually new in it I could see, but it makes for a sexy cover, and a summary that many readers will doubtless find of interest.
Read The Rest Scale: if you're not well-read on US paramilitary stuff.
The first thing to be said about Operation Shock and Awe is that it is nothing but a logical extension of the terror-bombing principles used by both sides in World War II - ideas developed by the Nazis and adopted with enthusiasm by the Americans and British. CBS informs us that "In this war 80 percent [of munitions] will be precision guided," which means nothing more than that we'll be hitting civilian targets with precision-guided munitions. ("Power," "water," and whatever doesn't sound quite innocuous enough on first listen to mention to the news media. You can be sure Iraqi media outlets will be hit right away, as Serb outlets were hit in 1999, and that Al Jazeera's facilites will be "accidentally" bombed. Bridges seem a certainty.)
With great respect to Jim, I agree with some of his observations -- those regarding power, water, and media sites being hit are doubtless correct -- but disagree that "it is nothing but a logical extension of the terror bombing principles used by both sides," etc.
The terror bombing of WWII, done by both sides, specifically targeted residential neighborhoods of large cities of residences, for the specific purpose of causing massive civilian casualties, amongst other strategic goals.
This was the purpose of the bombing in Manchuria by Japan in 1937, of the bombing of Hamburg in 1943 where an estimated 50,000 died, of the assaults on Kassel, Wurzburg, Darmstadt, Heilbronn, Wuppertal, Weser, Magdeburg, Dresden, of Coventry, Rotterdam, London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton, Coventry, Hull, Portsmouth, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Cardiff, of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya.
He said he would repeat these raids night after night until the English were sick and tired of terror attacks. He shares my opinion absolutely that cultural centres, health resorts and civilian resorts must be attacked now.
Whatever the US/British and/or others may or may not do in Iraq -- and likely there will be terrible things -- and the morality, wisdom, and humanity of these things are well debated -- I do not think they are likely to be a fully "logical extension of the terror-bombing principles" of WWII. I do not think it likely there will be deliberate targeting of civilian residences and deliberate targeting of as many civilians as possible. I do not think we will be deliberately trying to create a fire-storm to incinerate Baghdad. That is the terror-bombing principle of WWII, and needless to say, if I thought such were to be engaged in, I'd be out there marching and agitating anti-war, right now, on as full-time basis as I could remotely make possible.
Let me also make clear that my point doesn't in the least dismiss the entirely valid and utterly called-for concerns of Jim and other comitted anti-war activists, which rightfully include being able to note that even if we set aside my point here as merely dismissing the most extreme form of immorality, questions such as how many civilians will die anyway even if "residences" are not deliberately targeted, simply as, despite best efforts, "collateral damage," remain morally necessary to raise and consider and debate, and I am utterly grateful to those such as Jim and others who make the intelligent anti-war case.
He has distilled his style into 10 rules that should be pinned above every writer's desk. The rules begin 'Never open a book with weather' and end 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip'. Along the way, they include such invaluable advice as the imperative always to resist the temptation to employ, under any circumstances, the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose'.
Another of his disciples is Martin Amis, who talks of Leonard being 'perhaps the greatest popular writer of all time'. It is a case of opposites attracting: while Amis can't bear to let a sentence of his go by without giving it the dazzle of his imprimatur, Leonard says: 'I don't want the reader ever to be aware of me writing.' The pair have become friends, but he confesses never to have got to the end of one of Amis's books: 'Too many words.'
He tells me a story of how they were once both on the same talk show. Leonard went on first and when the host, Charlie Rose, brought up the subject of Amis's admiration, Leonard explained how they were 'way different writers, you know. Martin is the classic novelist, the omniscient author, and has the language for that. I don't. I have to let my characters do the work. He has it all.' When Amis came on, Rose said: 'Did you hear what Elmore said about you?' and Amis said: 'I did. And my heart soared like an eagle...' Leonard said: 'See.'
Saw. Read The Rest Scale: okay.
As usual, Amygdala provides the link the story doesn't: here are the rules. Read The Rest Scale: oh, yes.
AMERICAN ANTI-EUROPEANISM is Timothy Garton Ash's subject, which, as a contrarian, I present as a bracing contrast to the now-tired Eurobashing so many bloggers offer as auto-cant. A few lines:
Anti-Europeanism is not symmetrical with anti-Americanism. The emotional leitmotifs of anti-Americanism are resentment mingled with envy; those of anti-Europeanism are irritation mixed with contempt. Anti-Americanism is a real obsession for entire countries -- notably for France, as Jean-François Revel has recently argued. Anti-Europeanism is very far from being an American obsession.
Anti-Americanism and anti-Europeanism are at opposite ends of the political scale. European anti-Americanism is mainly to be found on the left, American anti-Europeanism on the right. The most outspoken American Euro-bashers are neoconservatives using the same sort of combative rhetoric they have habitually deployed against American liberals. In fact, as Jonah Goldberg himself acknowledged to me, "the Europeans" are also a stalking-horse for liberals. So, I asked him, was Bill Clinton a European? "Yes," said Goldberg, "or at least, Clinton thinks like a European."
It seems a hypothesis worth investigating that actually it's Republicans who are from Mars and Democrats who are from Venus.
For some conservatives, the State Department is also an outpost of Venus. William Kristol, one of America's hereditary neoconservatives, writes of "an axis of appeasement -- stretching from Riyadh to Brussels to Foggy Bottom." Down the Bos-Wash corridor, I was several times told of two groups competing for President Bush's ear over Iraq: the "Cheney-Rumsfeld group" and the "Powell-Blair group." It is rather curious for a British citizen to discover that our prime minister has become a senior member of the State Department.
Quite a lot of American policymakers like the idea that they are from Mars -- on the understanding that this makes them martial rather than Martian -- while quite a lot of European policymakers like to think they are, indeed, programmatic Venutians.
As a soon-to-be-enlarged European Union searches for a clearer identity, there is a strong temptation for Europe to define itself against the United States. Europe clarifies its self-image by listing the ways in which it differs from America. In the dread jargon of identity studies, America becomes the Other. Americans don't like being Othered. (Who does?)
Coolly examined, such a division is extremely stupid.
Yeah, it is.
Read The Rest Scale: oh, you've already decided you hate it or love it, so why bother? (Amygdala confesses that it is often cranky after reading a run of doctrinaire left and right, right and left, blogs, all eagerly explaining monotonously why Their Side Is So So Correct. Over and over and over again. Entry after entry. After entry. All. Saying. The. Same. Thing. Over. And. Over. Again.)
I had a moderate amount of contact with the inimitable Virginia Kidd, and a couple of passing contacts with the inimitable Ginny Heinlein. But were uniques, and both should be missed. I'll miss them, in any case. See also here.
THE UNPOPULAR OPINION: Andrew Rawnsley in the Guardian:
Compared with all the other major actors in the Iraq drama, I'd say that Tony Blair comes out of this looking more consistent, more skilful and more rational than anyone else. Unlike the belligerents of the White House, he saw early on that at least some international consensus has to be marshalled behind the case for dealing with Saddam Hussein.
Were he to imitate Jacques Chirac's anti-Americanism, the Prime Minister would win himself plaudits from large segments of British public opinion and even more so would it do him good with those members of his own party who have come to see him as Washington's lapdog. It is rather to Mr Blair's credit that he has not taken the cheap and easy course.
Unlike Putin, Mr Blair does not put a price on his support. Which is exactly the criticism you hear of him from some Ministers: what are we getting back from the Americans? In contrast to Chirac and Schroder, the British Prime Minister has not grandstanded against the United States to pander to his voters or his party. He has done quite the reverse, ramming the case for confronting Saddam Hussein down the throat of his sceptical nation.
A man so often in the past depicted as mesmerised by focus groups has supported the United States against the grain of opinion among both the voters and within his party. It is one of the many ironies of his situation that the very same people who used to revile him for being enslaved to opinion polls now lambast him for not listening to the public.
I've noticed that.
Read The Rest Scale: probably won't change any minds, but feel free to give it a chance.
I SUPPOSE IT COULD ALL JUST BE STRANGE COINCIDENCE: The NY Timestells us:
In his new film, "Happy Here and Now," Michael Almereyda looks into the future and sees computer chat rooms where participants can project fictitious identities, or "avatars," into cyberspace to do their talking for them. Set in the backwaters of New Orleans, the story involves a woman who disappears after embarking on a virtual relationship with a shadowy philosophical cowboy named Eddie Mars. Shalom Harlow plays the woman and Karl Geary is Eddie; the cast also includes David Arquette, Liane Balaban, Ernie K-Doe, Gloria Reuben, Ally Sheedy and Clarence Williams III.
Mr. Almereyda [...] chose to [discuss his film] in an interview with the avatar Eddie Mars.
EDDIE MARS What made you think of planting a semifuturistic, cyber-oriented story in New Orleans -- a city where, when you have to fix anything electronic, you take it to Texas?
MARS The question was: Why New Orleans?
ALMEREYDA Right. Well, it might've been natural to set this story in a cold futuristic city where technology is visibly walling people off from one another, but it seemed more interesting to veer in the opposite direction --- to show a place offering a contrast, even an antidote, to that sort of loneliness. Even or especially if you take away all the postcard imagery common to New Orleans movies: Mardi Gras floats, Cajun stuff, vampires and voodoo -- take that away and you're left looking at a radiantly lived-in old city, and a bunch of people with an incredible appetite for life.
MARS Except maybe the contemporary equivalent of voodoo, now that you mention it, is the Internet, a vast popular cult allowing people to reach past or through reality.
You have a sort of thriller plot -- a woman goes looking for her missing sister -- and you toss in all these references to people like Blaise Pascal, Nicola Tesla, Emily Dickinson, William Blake. Prophetic, premodern loners who created elaborate worlds in their heads and who, in so doing, affected the lives of people living beyond their own time.
This entire "interview" is one of the cutiest, most pretentious, self-back-patting, bits of promotion I've seen in a long time, and it would all go down a lot better with me if it didn't seems such a stupendous rip-off of the Maurid Audran books of George Alec Effinger, a heck of a nice guy who died penniless last year.
His New Orleans cyberpunk books were not obscure, save presumably in the film world; each novel won the Best Novel Hugo.
And only in the film world would "avatars," an idea explored in fiction for decades, and in the real world for many years (and even used various times in other films) be trumpted as something coming in "the future."
Presumably along with "internal combustion engines" and "home computers."
Read The Rest Scale: you probably won't be as irritated as I am.
Get up, pee, rinse hands, wash face, drink glass of water, go back to bed, turn over, don't look at clock, come up with silly idea for post, giggle, turn over, review why everybody hates my comments, turn over, review embarrassing incidents of past week (embellishing as necessary), turn over, decide to masturbate, realize most reliable fantasy is 28 years old, that doesn't help, turn over, don't look at clock, review embarrassing incidents of last five years, give up, go to consuite, my what an interesting hotel!, the hallways are all narrow and twisted, the lights are dim but glowing, everyone is dressed like the florid decadent ambassador from Babylon 5, though not the hair styles thank god, elevator is small and old fashioned with only a waist-high gate so you can see the walls moving past, and there are only two buttons -- up and down, push down, elevator slooooooooooooowwwwwwllllllly moves down, at bottom a regular elevator door falls into place and elevator starts moving forward, which attracts the attention of the gardeners who run after shouting encouragement to escape mad elevator, finally find the door knob, leap out, receive congratulations from gardeners on escape, return to hotel, everybody else goes off to lunch with the aliens, give up on the consuite, turn over, don't look at clock, find The Book of The Convention, try reading it, it keeps falling apart because it's a handmade/altered book, pretend not to notice couple on couch trying to screw, find a "page" in the book that's a triangular bandana containing all the tiny cloisonné lapel pins of all the conventions in the series, the pins are very very pretty and very very tiny, give up on pins, turn over, look at clock, well that was ten minutes just now. The only thing to do is....
SPEED DRINKING IS A BRITISH INVENTION, innit? All you can drink for six hours for a fixed price.
The more the alcohol flows, the more your shoes stick to the floor and the effects of excessive drinking begin to show. In the sea of mini-skirted women is Amanda, 22. "You're guaranteed a shag here," she says.
Girls like Amanda are the reason Matthew, 20, comes to Tivoli's, as well as the beer. "The girls are easy, the beer is cheap and it's a fun place," he says, trying to make eye contact with a passing girl.
It's true that the New World still has much to learn from the High Culture of the Old World.
MICHAEL KINSLEY STICKS A FORK IN JOE LIEBERMAN AND JOHN MCCAINpointing out how annoying each of them can be.
They are, in a word, pious. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, piousness is virtue paying tribute to itself.
Lieberman is literally pious [...] he also has the hectoring, bromidic high-rhetorical style reminiscent of an especially pompous clergyman. [...] All this melds unattractively with the hair-trigger indignation of a more recent but increasingly familiar social type: the ambulance-chasing state attorney general, always scanning the horizon in search of a reason for a press conference. Greenhouse gases today, violent video games tomorrow, some other alliterative outrage the next.
Both men are hooked on cheap iconoclasm. How many times can a politician be the rare member of his party who takes the position of the other party on some issue or other before this stops being such a wonderful surprise? McCain and Lieberman have stumbled (perhaps) on a brilliant formula. By being dissidents toward the center, rather than toward the extreme, they get to luxuriate in two of the press's most popular (and, you would have thought, mutually exclusive) categories simultaneously: courageous outsider and moderate voice of reason.
But moderation, far from courageous, can be too easy.
RYAN LIZZA CHECKS OFF where the Democratic wannabes are right now, using their gathering at a NARAL function as a benchmark. A useful update.
Read The Rest Scale: if you're already hotly into the 2004 campaign.
(I was a Gary Hart delegate from my local Washington State precinct caucus to the county convention in 1984, so I remain sympathetically open-minded towards him; I also, incidentally, wound up with my picture, along with a handful of others, on the front page of the Seattle Times, as our caucus happened to be closest to the paper's office, and thus most convenient to get "art" for the story -- thus, strangely, making my picture appear in one form or another in a prominent way in each major Seattle paper in both presidential elections I lived through in my eight-plus years in Washington state.)
THE GAY SCIENCE: Interesting interview with British historian David Cannadine on doing history, writing, and suchlike topics.
My view is that the historical process is a very complicated thing, and the older I get the more I'm convinced that it's the purpose of politicians and journalists to say the world is very simple, whereas it's the purpose of historians to say, "No! It's very complicated." So I find single, party-line views of the past to be inadequate. On the whole what I try to do in the history that I write is to both make it accessible and yet also give a sense of the complexity and contradictions of things. And that doesn't sit easily with a very simple, politically partisan position.
I'm, unsurprisingly, sympathetic to this, as it is in accord with my worldview and my philosophy of blogging.
If you've not noticed. Read The Rest Scale: oh, yes, please do.
ASTROTURFING: I'm a bit bemused that this has suddenly become a Big Blogging Issue in the past week or so, with countless bloggers from Tom Tomorrow to Atrios to Everyone Else Having Just Discovered It and Being Outraged.
Not that I don't think that's all fine. I do. I'm just bemused that they've all just discovered This Brand New Issue. I wrote about the Republican Team Leader Program, in detail, in March, 2002, on the 30th, here:
OH, THE FLEECE PULLOVER: That's what the Republican Party wants to give me for giving it to you. I, and you, too, can be Team Leaders, and give you official talking points. Slick.
Team Leaders get the inside scoop on what's going on at the Republican Party. Each week you will receive an update, The Team Leader, about the latest stories, bills, and actions around the country.
In addition to being given a "political edge" over the competition, you earn GOPoints for each Action Item completed. Action Items range from writing a letter to your editor to calling local voters and gauging public opinion. Leaders redeem their GOPoints for items ranging from fleece pullovers to mouse pads. All Team Leader gear is made in the USA.
Who wouldn't want GOPoints? How many for an elephant pad? Alas, I'm not much of a team player, and I make up my own talking points.
I couldn't get anyone much to pay attention to this organized campaign, and its details, for the most part. Not a single comment was left. No one linked to it. Where were you guys on this last March, when I supplied URLs, quotes, and details?
MORE than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci first sketched out designs for manned flight, British engineers have succeeded in putting his ideas into practice.
A glider based on drawings by da Vinci has made its maiden flight from a hillside in Sussex. It is part of a widespread revival of interest in da Vinci’s hundreds of mechanical designs, many of which lay forgotten in libraries for hundreds of years.
Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, successfully inserted a measure providing more than $150,000 for the office of Senate president pro tem emeritus, a ceremonial job he now holds. Senate Republicans pushed Mr. Byrd, an elder statesman of the Senate, out of his elegant suite on the first floor of the Capitol, but have agreed to build him a new office.
And the Times of Londonreports on the discovery of chemical/biological warfare suits found in the mosque. Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. (Use "cypherpunk" for free ID and password for Times registration.)
"People write because it seems like it'll be an easier job than carpet laying, that they might meet more girls,'" he says.
That probably doesn't always work so well. (But maybe that's just me.)
"And they write because the world strikes them as being a marvelous place, and they want to keep bringing that to everybody's attention. You know, a scary place, a menacing place, an exciting place because it's scary and menacing. But mainly, kind of glorious.'"