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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



 

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

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

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


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


You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Favorite....
-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


GARY FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Blogroll is Always In Progress:

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










Amygdala
 
Friday, June 20, 2003
 
THE AMERICAN EMPIRE: Very interesting interview with Robert Kaplan, coming along with his upcoming Atlantic article to appear in the July/August issue (3-4 days from now, depending upon your time zone.

Whether his views, based upon your politics, make you blow steam out of your ears, or you nod in sage agreement, or any other reaction, I expect his article, explaining his beliefs as to how the American Empire should act, to be worth reading, as this interview is, in my opinion.

One opinion I'll endorse:

First of all, I find that so much of the analysis and commentary about America's place in the world, too abstract. What I'm attempting to do here is get down to the nuts and bolts. And one of the nuts and bolts that is never discussed is personnel. Who are the ambassadors? Who are the defense attaches? Who are these lieutenant colonels who are put in these positions in so many countries, where they are basically formulating micro-foreign policies on their own? I would much rather have an imperfect foreign policy executed and interpreted by the best kind of ground-level people than a brilliant foreign policy executed and interpreted by mediocrity. The real decisions on foreign policy are often made in the meetings of the State Department and the Defense Department, where the important questions are, Who's going to be the next ambassador to Turkey, who's going to be the next defense attache to Uzbekistan? These are crucial, and this is what I get into in some of the first rules. Though I don't use the word personnel, that's what a large part of the piece is about. And you can only manage well through whom you appoint. A policy is only as good as the people who are executing it on the ground in the various countries.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/20/2003 09:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ONE IRANIAN VIEW:
Who are all these other people you mention, who are now participating in the protests?

It's practically all layers of the population, except, of course, those who have radical beliefs or an interest in the regime, but that is a very small minority. There are teachers, government employees who are unhappy with the conditions, and those from the huge proportion of Iranian people who are jobless. Many of the people who do have jobs have to have two or three of them in order to survive.

So we are reaching a stage that I will call "pre-revolution" in Iran. This doesn't necessarily mean the beginning of a bloody revolution like in past decades. The population is indeed tired of 24 years of dictatorship and is looking for, I think, a smooth way of change.

[...]

Well, at this point and level of intensity we are not where we were seven years ago, when the students simply wanted reforms from within. Now we are talking, properly, about a regime change. The protesters are now calling for overthrow of the regime with slogans such as "Referendum, referendum," and "To have freedom or to die." It's no longer talking about social or economic slogans; we are seeing much more radical ideas for regime change, with the conjunction of all these repressed people.

Where is it leading? I don't think we're at the stage yet of knowing about the prospects for a [democratic] republic or a monarchy. Iranians now are commonly agreeing about referendum, which means to put the fate of the future political frame of Iran with an election. The student movement itself does not have the goal of governing the country; it wants to create the circumstances for a referendum. You have students with different political beliefs and biases, but the cement that is holding them all together is the thirst for democracy. I think we'll be seeing in the very near future people who will come forward as leaders.

Interesting stuff; I watch Iran with fascination.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.75 out of 5. (You have to go past the Salon ad, of course.)


6/20/2003 09:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, June 16, 2003
 
HITCHENS REVEALED:
"What I really live for is stand-up and karaoke," he reveals to laughter. He once sang Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" in North Korea. "It was to a stone-faced, Aztec-faced audience of members of the Korean Workers party. You can't bomb like you can bomb in Pyongyang," he says.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 for amusement on Christopher Hitchens doing stand-up comedy.

6/16/2003 09:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GEAR UP for taunt Michael "Savage" Day! It's only ten days away! June 26th!

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.


6/16/2003 09:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 14, 2003
 
WHAT TO DO IN CENTRAL AFRICA? Andrew Northrup has a quite long, and typically thoughtful, comment in the comments for the post directly beneath this one, asking the above question, in essence. You should go read it.

This question has, understandably, come up in many comments discussions on the various blogs paying attention to the Congo, such as Matthew Yglesias, Andrew, John Cole, and many others. Another understandable and frequent response goes along the lines of "this conflict is utterly messy, it would be very messy to help out, and it's just not sufficiently in our 'interest' to expend tax dollars on it."

Here's my non-sarcastic response to Andrew (I'll spare you the further sarcasm I dumped over at John Cole's Balloon Juice in response to the notion that there were no "good guys" being killed, and it's just a civil war that's too expensive to interfere in):

The short answer, Andrew, is that these are failed countries with essentially no viable government.

These are, of course, not nations that were "designed to take care of themselves." They were colonies designed to send wealth back to Europe. And they are in no shape to reform themselves, by themselves, at present, into anything remotely resembling viable states.

What's necessary, I think, is for the Big Powers of the planet to establish a UN mandate over, quite possibly, all of Congo, Rwanda, and possibly chunks of Uganda, supervise a Mandate government made up of some form of combination of locals, involvement from the Organization for African Unity, and the UN, with a massive international force of peacekeepers from many countries. Manpower from China and India might be very helpful, as well as Pakistan and the usual contributors, but with logistic and air support from the US and Europe.

Would it be extremely messy and difficult, and take years to sort out? Of course. Would it be quite imperfect? Of course.

But the US and Europe and much of the rest of world can, in fact, easily afford it as a tiny fraction of 1% of GDP, so far as I can estimate, and I can't, frankly, understand how simply letting the situation continue is conscionable.

I've never thought that the cliche of "Never Again" was supposed to, or should, apply only to Jews, or that Africans, or anyone else, should get an exemption.

It's just wrong to let people be slaughtered when you can stop it.

Isn't it?


6/14/2003 06:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, June 13, 2003
 
THE STILL MILITARILY USELESS UN: Reported on Tuesday, the 10th:
The French intervention on behalf of the UN in Congo will be short-lived and localised and will have a negligible impact on tribal conflict, according to a French military briefing paper obtained by the Guardian.

The document confirms military analysts' pessimism about the likely success of the mission, which began on Friday, to rein in the latest outburst of violence in the civil war which has killed an estimated 4.7 million people in four years.

France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Norway have agreed in principle to send a bridging force of 1,400 to the north-eastern town of Bunia, in Ituri province. The advance unit comprises about 100 members of the French special forces.

The document says: "The operation in Bunia is politicaly [sic] and military [sic] high risk; very sensitive and complex. France has no specific interest in the area except solidarity with the international community." The end of the intervention, it says, has been "firmly established at Sept 1st 2003", by which time a contingent of Bangladeshi peacekeepers is expected in Bunia.

The Bangladeshis are to relieve 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers, who have been humiliated by their failure to prevent a string of massacres.

During a 10-day battle for control of the town last month they remained in their barracks, without the numbers or a mandate to stop the slaughter of hundreds of civilians.

Two unarmed UN military observers were murdered, and seven peacekeepers taken to hospital after having nervous breakdowns.

A European military planner who was issued a copy of the French document said: "This is the most cynical military briefing I've read in my entire life. Everybody is just laughing at it."

François Grignon of the International Crisis Group writes in a forthcoming report on Congo: "This intervention is, on the face of it, totally insufficient to meet the needs of Ituri's pacification."

A brief patrol by the French troops yesterday made the mission's modest ambitions apparent. Four jeeps packed with infantrymen drove 200 metres through the town centre, accompanied by as many western journalists. For 20 minutes groups of children sang for the cameras, then the troops rolled back to their airport base.

There was no patrol on Saturday during a gun battle in central Bunia. "We are here to secure the airport for the arrival of the international force. It is not our mandate to intervene in fighting between armed groups, only in direct attacks on civilians," the colonel in command said.

Words can't express how enraged and outraged I am at this cynical cover of genocide.

You can help stop it.

Write your Congressional representative; write your Senator; write your Minister; write your politician; demand military intervention to stop the genocide.

Write or call or do whatever it takes to stop the slaughter.

Do what you can.

Say "never again" applies to Africans.

Or live with your conscience.


6/13/2003 07:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PROPORTION: I dropped by Mickey Kaus's blog, and almost had a seizure when I read that "Blair" had resigned, several times. Migod, Tony Blair was forced out?

No, it was that stupid little story about the New York Times metro reporter.

Sheesh. Mickey Kaus (who had the great graciousness to post his good wishes here when I was ill a month ago) seems focused on the Times and Howell Raines and Jayson Blair, etc., over the, y'know, world. Like, on this planet? Bigger than a newsroom?

The global thing? A few billion people?

It's great to focus on your specialty, but, gee, how many hundreds of thousands of people has anyone at the Times killed, compared to the militias in the Congo?

That would probably be a proportion of, in the last decade, a couple of million to.... oh, gee, has anyone at the Times committed genocide lately? Or even committed cannibalism on a single soul?

Can we have a sense of proportion about our outrage, people? Which is worse? A careless reporter, or several million slaughtered people?

You decide. Pretty iffy, eh?


6/13/2003 07:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, June 12, 2003
 
MICHAEL WALZER, whom I respect the hell out of on just war, and everything in general, speaks on Israeli policy and many subjects. One:
"You have to defeat the settlers movement. The great mistake Rabin and Barak made was that on the same day they were elected, they should have found a way to challenge the settler movement. Maybe to evacuate a single settlement as a symbol."

"You have to start acting as if 'little Israel' is what you want, because only little Israel would have a stable Jewish majority. You have to decide that your country has a certain size, and even if, for security reasons, you can't withdraw to that boundary right now, you have to decide that this is the boundary of the country, in some future time."

Quite right.

Read The Rest Scale for other wise thoughts: 3 out of 5.


6/12/2003 07:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, June 11, 2003
 
YOU ARE A GODDESS and you are a Slayer.

Just saying that I've now watched the Buffy last episode a few times, and it damn well still rocks.

Just saying.

(That was nifty.)

Okay, not with certain characters getting sliced deeply, and actually dying. Um, that was bad. Er, I hope everyone knows there is a difference between fictional characters, and actual murder and genocide, right?

I thought so.

Oh, bollocks.

Kinda stings.


6/11/2003 10:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A REACTION. To a post elsewhere about the Congo:

I've written a lot about this.

And I have a very simple take. Perhaps it's too simplistic, but there it is.

Substitute the word "Jews" for "Lendu" or "Hema."

Then say, gee, gosh, it would cost a lot to save them.

Tough luck if millions die, because it's expensive, it's awkward, it's tough, to save them.

Bye, bye, Jews. Too bad. It's expensive to save them. It's expensive to save you black people, you Hema, you Lendu. It's tough to keep track of your names, even. Even your clan, your tribe, your people.

Bye-bye. Die in peace. Die by the thousands. Die by the tens of thousands. Die by the hundreds of thousands. Die by the millions. I have fast food. Bye-bye. I don't need to go to trouble. Bye-bye. Die well. Bye-bye. My conscience is untroubled. I could have saved you for a few days of work, but I don't want to be troubled. Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

Die well.

I can't be bothered to take a few minutes or hours to help stop it.

Bye-bye.

Die well.

Die.

ADDENDUM: I wanted to do an e-mail on this, but haven't been able to connect to my server for two days (plus). If anyone is listening, this would be a nice post to link to and pass on, I think. Anyone out there? Is this thing on?


6/11/2003 09:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DAVID MAMET'S 2001. Fucking excellent.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for humor if you're a Mamet fan; if not, forget it. (Also via Mr. Happy.)


6/11/2003 07:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SWEDISH MINISTER CALLS BUSH "that fucking American geezer".

I'm just impressed that the English-language version of the Swedish paper puts that exact quote in their headline. Though not surprised.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for amusement value. (Via Mr. Happy.)


6/11/2003 06:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GENOCIDAL FARCE CONTINUES.
BUNIA, Congo, June 10 -- Three days after gun battles between warring ethnic militias brought this town to a terrified standstill, the newly arrived commander of the multinational force dispatched by the United Nations pledged today "to reassure and to protect" its people. But he made clear he did not intend to disarm the fighters, many of them children.
Of course not.
Speaking to reporters on the airport tarmac here, the commander of the French-led force, Brig. Gen. Jean Paul Thonier, said he would not strip the militias of their guns, venture outside the city or get in the middle of a gun battle. "Separating the factions is not part of my mission," he said.
Of course it isn't; he doesn't have the firepower to, even if he wanted to.
His spokesman, Gerard DuBois, described the mission as threefold: to protect the population, help aid agencies carry out their work and provide security within Bunia city limits.
And they'll be very lucky if they can manage to do that.

And the rest of Congo? Go die.

At the moment, the Hema ethnic militia controls the town; its rivals, the Lendu militias, are positioned somewhere on the outskirts. Lendu civilians have deserted the city.

Aid groups, unable to deliver food and medical relief, except to those taking shelter in two heavily guarded United Nations compounds, have been pressing for the militias to be disarmed.

"We need a demilitarized city," said Nigel Pearson, the medical coordinator of Medair, a relief agency. He added that the planned deployment of 1,400 troops was nothing more than "gesture politics."

You don't say?

We've now seen response from a number of blogs on this.

Most ignore it.

Some have taken up my calling for massive armed intervention and peace-making.

A couple confusedly think the situation calls for "peace-keepers." (No.)

At least one manages, apparently, to put primary blame on George Bush for getting the world angry with America (see comments on my last entry on this topic).

A number agree it's a terrible thing, a terrible thing, but feel that either a) it's not our problem; or b) there's nothing we can do; or c) there's nothing we should do.

All I have to say to those last is that I remember the Shoah, the Holocaust, and I hear your answer being the same.

And that's my short answer to that.

And I, for your own soul's sake, ask that you might reconsider.

So far, however, the killing continues.
Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.

6/11/2003 07:00:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, June 10, 2003
 
CHIP CONSIDERED AS A HELIX OF SEMI-PRECIOUS WRITER. Decent profile of Samuel R. Delany. If you're not familiar with Chip's work, you should be.

And I'm not just saying that because I've known him since the mid-Seventies, and have slept with him.

Okay, platonically, not that it's any of your business.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5, at least.


6/10/2003 10:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE YOUNG DR. SUSAN CALVIN. Read it if that name means something to you.

6/10/2003 10:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE LOST CITY OF PETRA: What a view! Go see this panoramic spectactular!

6/10/2003 10:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BUFFY LIVES! Sighting.
Where do we go from here? That's the question the Buffy ensemble asked in one of the finest episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the musical episode, a highlight of the much-disputed Season 6 -- or at least, much-disputed by the type of person who knows lyrics from an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which season they're from, and who sang them.

Because let's face it: there are fans, and there are fans. And for seven glorious seasons, Buffy has consistently attracted the second type: your scholarly theoryhead, your web geek uploading fan fiction, your cocktail party evangelist. Just because our show has been staked through the heart -- the series finale was shown a month ago, with all the requisite media mourning and top-10 lists -- doesn't mean that our fanhood has ended with it. At last, we can start living in the past.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 to learn why, and particularly for the take on Spike.

6/10/2003 08:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BAHGDAD MUSEUM, REDUX.
All Along, Most Iraqi Relics Were 'Safe and Sound'

[...]

The museum was indeed heavily looted, but its Iraqi directors confirmed today that the losses at the institute did not number 170,000 artifacts as originally reported in news accounts.

Actually, about 33 priceless vases, statues and jewels were missing.

In the end: a complete non-story. But as many people will believe it as believe that Bill Clinton getting a haircut held up LAX airport, or that Al Gore claimed to have invented the internet, or that the Clintons engaged in a crime in "Whitewater," or believe that Paul Wolfowitz said the reason for going to war was to get Iraq's oil.

Sigh.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.


6/10/2003 08:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'D NOT WRITTEN ANYTHING about being involunarily switched to the new "BloggerBasic" interface this afternoon.

But it looks good, and -- dare I tempt fate by saying? -- seems to be behaving properly, for now.

Best of all, my archives are back -- all of them! Yay! [happy dance]


6/10/2003 08:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE DARKER SIDE OF MILITARY TRAINING in Britain. I don't believe in the slightest this is unique to the UK.
It was 10.30pm, half an hour before 'lights out', and the barracks were quiet. Duncan Millington, a shy teenage recruit in the second month of his basic training at Bassingbourne army base in Hertfordshire, was doing sit-ups by his bed. A dozen other young trainees were preparing to sleep.

But Millington was to get little sleep that night. Over the next half an hour he was subjected to a frightening, humiliating ordeal, when one of his fellow squad members stripped to expose his genitals, sexually propositioned him, pushed him against a locker and finally squatted, stripped from the waist, above Millington's face.

The rest of his squad were present throughout, but no one intervened and the young recruit was left shaking and in tears, his former confidence in a career in the military utterly shaken. The harassment carried on for another month, culminating in a more serious assault.

[...]

But the news last weekend that a group of British soldiers may have humiliated Iraqi prisoners by forcing them into simulated sexual acts raised concerns that war had exposed a deep-seated culture of sexual harassment and violence in the Army in peacetime.

Eighteen-year-old Gary Bartlam, of the Royal Fusiliers, was arrested by military police last month after workers in a processing laboratory saw pictures of the alleged mistreatment of PoWs. One photograph apparently showed trouserless British soldiers with Iraqis who were captured during fighting in Basra kneeling in front of them. Senior MoD sources have told The Observer they are 'braced' for further allegations of torture.

An Observer investigation based on the analysis of records and transcripts of courts martial held over the last three years indicates that incidents such as those in Basra or Bassingbourne are far from isolated.

A quarter of all general courts martial so far this year have involved allegations of sexual offences. Last year the total was a fifth, itself a slightly higher proportion than in 2001. The offences include rape, indecent assault on both young children and adults, and a variety of bizarre and degrading sexually suggestive practices.

Page after page of court testimony reveals a barrack-room culture of homoerotic bullying, low-level sexual harassment of women, occasional serious assaults on both sexes, endemic use of and trading in illegal hardcore pornography and outbursts of violence, all of this exacerbated by a massive consumption of alcohol.

In one incident, similar to that involving both Millington and the Iraqi soldiers, a more senior soldier ordered colleagues to haul a recruit from his bed, tie him at the wrists and ankles, strip him and then drop their trousers and squat over his head. A knife was produced and a threat made to sever the recruit's genitals.

Cases heard by army judges over the past 18 months have included those of a young soldier who raped a young German girl in a car park, a sergeant who raped a female colleague at a base in Cyprus, a male sergeant instructor who seriously assaulted five young teenage male recruits while they slept, a corporal who took photographs of young soldiers in showers and offered others money for pictures of their genitals, a captain who indecently assaulted junior soldiers in a bar over a period of weeks, a military intelligence officer found guilty of distributing child pornography, and a drunken corporal who forced his penis into a junior female recruit's mouth.

If you're "trained" to do this with your mates, why not with POWs?

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.


6/10/2003 08:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOLLUM'S ACCEPTANCE speech. View The Rest Scale: it's preeecious.

6/10/2003 07:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S BEGUN.
Japan detained two North Korean cargo ships in Japanese ports today, moves that North Korea denounced as sanctions and that Japan defended as safety inspections.

"We are ready to thoroughly inspect all North Korean vessels at ports across the country," Chikage Ogi, Japan's transport minister, said at a news conference, hours before her inspectors scoured the North Korean ships for violations.

[...]

After the inspections, Maizuru transport ministry officials ordered the detention of the Namsan 3, a 298-ton freighter, until its North Korean crew of 16 could fix three major safety violations: lack of charts of surrounding seas, a hole in its bulkhead, and a doorsill to the cabin that was too low to prevent water from flooding in.

Farther north, at Otaru port in Hokkaido, northern Japan, local transport officials ordered the detention for safety violations of the 178-ton Daehungrason 2, which was carrying a cargo of crabs.

[...]

"If this is part of `sanctions' against the D.P.R.K., we cannot but regard it as a very serious development," the official Korean Central News Agency said, using the initials of North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

For once, they're right. I don't know how far this is going to go, and I'm a bit afraid to find out.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.


6/10/2003 07:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW MANY BOOKS CAN DANCE ON THE HEAD OF A PENCIL?: World's smallest book.

Read The Rest Scale: with a microscope.


6/10/2003 06:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT IS?: Odd John Kerry quote buried in this profile of Howard Dean and John Kerry fund raising amongst young New Yorkers.
Kerry also took questions from the audience; the last came from a glamorous young woman wearing a low-cut white dress who wanted to know how he felt about the charge -- levelled by Dean, among others -- that he was too similar to Bush to lead the Democrats. "The Bush Administration agenda isn't conservative Republicanism, and it's not radical Republicanism -- it's extreme libertarianism," he replied. "We certainly don't need another Republican Party."
I wasn't aware that extreme libertarians support foreign intervention, huge subsidies to domestic agriculture and industry, laws restricting the private lives of Americans, laws increasing the ability of government to surveille the citizenry, and changing the tax laws to massively shift wealth from the poor and middle class to the rich. Just for starters.

I suppose it's because I'm not an extreme libertarian -- or not more of one than I am a "liberal" -- that I missed the memo on this.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.


6/10/2003 06:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UNDERSTANDING CHRIS HEDGES.

Read The Rest if you want to.


6/10/2003 06:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANNE APPLEBAUM'S GULAG is rightfully getting attention. Here is some.
It is a story of almost limitless misery - of female inmates raped to death, of children torn from their mothers and neglected to the point of starvation, of men tortured until they "confessed" to anti-Stalinist "crimes", of a dehumanised and brutalised workforce upon whose hard labour the communist project was partially built. It is also a story almost wholly unknown here in the West, where, by grisly contrast, the names of Nazi concentration camps are household words.

[...]

It is still impossible to say how many people died in the camps of Soviet Russia - Applebaum's book quotes various estimates from 10 to 20 million. Yet, "in terms of numbers," she says, "the Soviet system certainly killed more people than did the Nazis, partly because it was there longer. The Nazi experience was a short, extremely brutal 12 years, and the Soviet experience lasted more or less throughout the 20th century.

"It's not a competition in atrocity, but I would say that the Nazi and the Soviet camps belong in the same context. These were two terrible people, Hitler and Stalin, who both did terrible things on the same continent at the same time. In some ways their camps had the same intellectual origins, and they should be compared."

The differences lay in the camps' function, she says, and in the kinds of people imprisoned. "There's no direct equivalent in the Soviet system of the six Nazi extermination camps. When you entered Auschwitz, you were pretty sure you were going to die; in the Soviet camps you could very well die, you could be worked to death, but your life was more flexible. You could also climb the camp hierarchy, you could wheel and deal and make friends with the guards. You could even become a guard."

That does not mean to say that life was "better" as a prisoner of the Russian regime - if one can classify relative levels of inhumanity - nor that entire camps did not die of starvation, say, simply because a prison commandant had not organised regular deliveries of food.

[...]

"World War Two is still remembered in Britain and America as a wholly just war," Applebaum says, "the one war in which we did nothing wrong. It's very difficult for people to understand that we fought a war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another genocidal dictator, and that we liberated the camps of Nazi Germany while allowing the camps of Stalin's Soviet Union to expand.

"World War Two is still remembered in Britain and America as a wholly just war," Applebaum says, "the one war in which we did nothing wrong. It's very difficult for people to understand that we fought a war against one genocidal dictator with the help of another genocidal dictator, and that we liberated the camps of Nazi Germany while allowing the camps of Stalin's Soviet Union to expand.

"That's something I learned while I was writing the book. They did expand after the war: we assumed that they didn't, but they did. Soviet tyranny expanded. To this day we have trouble thinking about the Second World War as a real failure, which on those terms it was."

The Cold War, on the other hand, was "one of the great achievements of the West," she says. "The Soviet system was a criminal system, and Stalin wanted to spread it around the world." It's her hope, therefore, that the experience of those imprisoned within the Gulag "will become part of our popular memory of the 20th century".

Here is what Foreign Affairs thought. Here is her own page on Gulag. Here is the excellent Sunday New York Times Book Review by Michael McFaul. Here is that of the Financial Times. David Remnick in The New Yorker is particularly essential.
The administration at Solovki put up a sign at the main camp, which captured perfectly the Leninist program. It read, "With an Iron Fist, We Will Lead Humanity to Happiness."
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5 for all. You must know this stuff.

6/10/2003 05:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EYE ON THE BALL(S): In the face of the national crisis, the British House of Lords has, um, gripped the bull by its horns, and voted decisively to ban sex in lavatories (toilets, the loo, dearie).

I'm sure we all feel safer now.

Read The Rest Scale: 1.5 out of 5 for giggles.


6/10/2003 01:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MEAT IS US: Excellent review of neuropsychologist Simon Hattenstone's Into the Silent Land; Hattenstone is being compared to Oliver Sacks.
The book has no right to hang together, but somehow it does, quite beautifully, thanks to the narrator - a melancholic neuropsychologist tortured by the impossibility of understanding the brain.

[...]

In one story, a nightmare, he is taken in front of an ethics committee after admitting: "My area of supposed expertise, neuropsychology, is the subject about which I feel the most profound ignorance." There is something of the bewildered innocent in the narrator - a wide-eyed Gulliver travelling through the alien land of the mind.

[...]

How did he get into neuropsychology? Well, he says, he was always interested in it as a child - even though he didn't know the word for it. "Not so much how the brain works, but how absurd that we are these meat puppets and we go round with this level of consciousness. A lot of kids have these deep philosophical thoughts, and it gets smoothed out along the way." He looks down to his fingers and wiggles them. "I used to look at my hands and think, is that part of me? If I cut my finger off, is that still part of me? And how far d'you have to go before you aren't yourself any more?"

Again, he says it's amazing how we are just these chunks of meat, yet the whole universe exists within us.

About the book:
Well it's about how personal identity is fragile, and how at one level we're basically meat and at another level we're basically fiction - human beings are storytelling machines, and the self is a story, and we tell a story about ourselves, and we just pick up on the story." He stops, defeated. "I do find it very difficult when people ask what it's about. I haven't found a formula. Can you suggest one?"
Definitely on my I'd Like To Read list. Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/10/2003 10:43:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TEXAS MANHUNT SCANDAL: Thomas Nephew continues to follow the case of what appears to have been illegal activities by Texas Republicans to illegally make use of Federal Homeland Security agencies (and, now, possibly the FBI as well) for purely partisan reasons.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

Thomas also points to the BBC's online diary of activists protesting against Mugabe last week. Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.


6/10/2003 10:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE SLOW QUARANTINING OF NORTH KOREA has begun. Also:
North Korea declared today for the first time that it was seeking to develop nuclear weapons so that it could reduce the size of a million-man army it can no longer afford.

The announcement came on the same day that several administration officials said the United States and its Asian allies were planning to track and inspect suspect sea shipments out of North Korea.

Administration officials said that those steps would stop short of a full embargo, but would amount to what one official called "selective interdiction." The effort is aimed at curbing the weapons exports of North Korea and cutting off its sources of cash, officials said. North Korea has shipped missiles to the Middle East, including Iran, and to Pakistan.

[...]

Japan began the process, sending 1,900 "safety inspectors" and policemen to meet a North Korean ferry suspected for years as being the link that allowed North Koreans living in Japan to transfer money home. When it became clear that the ferry would be inspected regularly, the North suspended the service.

American officials say those inspections are just a beginning. They are encouraging allies to stop ships and inspect them for drugs, as Australia did a month ago. Whether the United States itself will attempt to interdict shipments is unclear.

[...]

The effort "will be focused on those activities which require no additional laws, no new international treaties, no going to the United Nations Security Council," a senior official said. "Look at the Japanese, who can't stop transfers of money on North Korean ships, but suddenly discovered they can do `safety inspections.' " Other techniques like that are under consideration.

The idea here is, obviously, to increase the stranglehold on North Korea while attempting to avoid any acts or incidents that North Korea can capitalize upon as an excuse to launch a military attack on the South, or on Japan, the US, or anyone else.

The problem with this is that the underlying premise fails: the Leadership of the Dear Leader is so fundamentally irrational and unpredictable that the regime could declare war against the fascist puppet paper tiger of the US because, they would announce, of the way George Bush combed his hair that day, which obviously signals the intent of the US to commence all-out invasion.

They don't need any excuse for an attack, because the only people they need to persuade are their own people, most of whom are prepared to believe that Kim Jong II spends much of his time at his Lunar Base, since the Moon has always belonged to Korea, and helps Korea's juche (self-reliance). When you live in a land where the only media is a direct speaker in your home from the regime, to which you get up in the morning and go to sleep at night, and there is no off switch, it's no more implausible than to be told that Kim Jong Il is also now annexing Jupiter, because it is so pretty, and was originally created by a Korean, anyway.

In short: Korean situation will continue to be extremely worrisome, and our main angle of response needs to be to continue to try to woo China as an ally in dealing with North Korea.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.


6/10/2003 09:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ISN'T THAT ONE IN THE MIDDLE PARTICULARLY CUTE? More arses than you can shake a stick at.

Seven thousand synchronised bottoms were pointed at the sky for what goes down in history as the most numerous nude photo shoot ever.
And that makes it art! So there!

To extend this line of reasoning, every item in the Guinness Book of World Records is, apparently, also a work of art. Who knew?

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.


6/10/2003 09:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TEST YOUR TABOO FACTOR. Results:

Your Moralising Quotient is: 0.04.

Your Interference Factor is: 0.00.

Your Universalising Factor is: 0.00.

Here are my results:

How did you do compared to other people?

Taboo has been played 848 times.

Your Moralising Quotient of 0.04 compares to an average Moralising Quotient of 0.25. This means that as far as the events depicted in the scenarios featured in this activity are concerned you are more permissive than average.

Your Interference Factor of 0.00 compares to an average Interference Factor of 0.19. This means that as far as the events depicted in the scenarios featured in this activity are concerned you are less likely to recommend societal interference in matters of moral wrongdoing, in the form of prevention or punishment, than average.

Your Universalising Factor of 0.00 compares to an average Universalising Factor of 0.25. This means you are less likely than average to see moral wrongdoing in universal terms - that is, without regard to prevailing cultural norms and social conventions (at least as far as the events depicted in the scenarios featured in this activity are concerned).

Try the other philsopher's games.

6/10/2003 09:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BAGDAD MUSEUM wasn't particularly looted. Here we learn:
The ancient treasures of Nimrud, unaccounted for since Baghdad fell two months ago, have been located in good condition in the country's Central Bank -- in a secret vault-inside-a-vault submerged in sewage water, American officials said today.

They also said that fewer than 50 items from the Iraq Museum's main exhibition collection remain missing after the looting and destruction that followed the capture of Baghdad by United States forces.

[...]

An official with the American-led occupation force said at a news briefing that the number of artifacts looted or lost from the Iraq Museum in Baghdad had been exaggerated. Of the 170,000 initially thought missing, about 3,000 objects remain unaccounted for. Of those, only 47 are main exhibition items, the official said.

More here. David Aaronvitch points out:
So, there's the picture: 100,000-plus priceless items looted either under the very noses of the Yanks, or by the Yanks themselves. And the only problem with it is that it's nonsense. It isn't true. It's made up. It's bollocks.

[...]

This indictment of world journalism has caused some surprise to those who listened to George and others speak at the British Museum meeting. One art historian, Dr Tom Flynn, now speaks of his "great bewilderment". "Donny George himself had ample opportunity to clarify to the best of [his] knowledge the extent of the looting and the likely number of missing objects," says Flynn. "Is it not a little strange that quite so many journalists went away with the wrong impression, while Mr George made little or not attempt to clarify the context of the figure of 170,000 which he repeated with such regularity and gusto before, during, and after that meeting." To Flynn it is also odd that George didn't seem to know that pieces had been taken into hiding or evacuated. "There is a queasy subtext here if you bother to seek it out," he suggests.

On Sunday night, in a remarkable programme on BBC2, the architectural historian Dan Cruikshank both sought and found. Cruikshank had been to the museum in Baghdad, had inspected the collection, the storerooms, the outbuildings, and had interviewed people who had been present around the time of the looting, including George and some US troops. And Cruikshank was present when, for the first time, US personnel along with Iraqi museum staff broke into the storerooms.

One, which had clearly been used as a sniper point by Ba'ath forces, had also been looted of its best items, although they had been stacked in a far corner. The room had been opened with a key. Another storeroom looked as though the looters had just departed with broken artefacts all over the floor. But this, Cruikshank learned, was the way it had been left by the museum staff. No wonder, he told the viewers - the staff hadn't wanted anyone inside this room. Overall, he concluded, most of the serious looting "was an inside job".

Cruikshank also tackled George directly on events leading up to the looting. The Americans had said that the museum was a substantial point of Iraqi resistance, and this explained their reticence in occupying it. Not true, said George, a few militia-men had fired from the grounds and that was all. This, as Cruikshank heavily implied, was a lie. Not only were there firing positions in the grounds, but at the back of the museum there was a room that seemed to have been used as a military command post. And it was hardly credible that senior staff at the museum would not have known that. Cruikshank's closing thought was to wonder whether the museum's senior staff - all Ba'ath party appointees - could safely be left in post.

Furious, I conclude two things from all this. The first is the credulousness of many western academics and others who cannot conceive that a plausible and intelligent fellow-professional might have been an apparatchiks of a fascist regime and a propagandist for his own past. The second is that - these days - you cannot say anything too bad about the Yanks and not be believed.

That last point is the key. Just as many on the right will believe and repeat anything bad about those on the left, so many on the left, both within the US and without, will hear anything bad about the Bush Administration and know that, of course, The Truth Has Been Uncovered, and will eagerly repeat it as far and wide and fast as they can, along with accompanying condemnation and then throwing it onto the infinitely tall Heap Of Evidence That Bush And His Minions Are Satan (or, to put it in more useful terms for the milieu: Worse Than Nixon And, Basically, Hitler).

Man, there's plenty to be against Bush for: horrific economic policies, rapacious energy and environmental policies, a foreign policy that has us hated around the world, incompetent and insufficient and stingy planning for the occupations and reformations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and so on, that one doesn't have to simply take every accusation that comes down the pike, and chortlingly throw it into your personal megaphone, unexamined and unsupported save by desire to believe.

They say the life unexamined isn't worth living. The information unexamined isn't worth passing on.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5 on each piece.


6/10/2003 08:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, June 08, 2003
 
BATMAN: The Animated Series. I watched it for all these years, and only fully grokked and remembered tonight that Mark Hamill is the voice of the Joker.

Read The Rest Scale: if you're a nutcase Batman fan.


6/08/2003 08:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WORLD TRADE CENTER DUST: "Mindles H. Dreck" of Asymmetrical Information has the results of a particle analysis, as presented last week at the Museum of Natural History, of the debris dust floating around NYC for months after September 11th.
Microscopic analysis of WTC dust by Nicholas Petraco, BS, MS, DABC, FAAFS, FNYMS at The New York Microscopic Society lecture held at AMNH 28 May 2003

45.1% Fiberglass, rock wool (insulation, fireproofing)
31.8% Plaster (gypsum), concrete products (calcium sulfate, selenite, muscodite)
7.1% Charred wood and debris
2.1% Paper fibers
2.1% Mica flakes
2.0% Ceiling tiles (fiberglass component)
2.0% Synthetic fibers
1.4% Glass fragments
1.3% Human remains
1.4% Natural fibers
trace asbestos (it became illegal to use during the construction of the WTC)

Other trace elements: aluminum, paint pigments, blood, hair, glass wool with resin, and prescription drugs were found.

As a born and bred New Yorker who has lived the majority of his life in NYC (aside from eight years in Seattle, a year in Boston, a half year in East Lansing, Michigan, and some long temporary stays elsewhere, including a month in Britain), in every borough save for Staten Island, and who was living for a year and a half on Long Island in 2001, moving to Boulder in December, I knew that I was breathing in, among other things, a small quantity of human remains from September until mid-December.

Charming to know the likely percentage. Also noted:

Fiberglass particles are smaller than asbestos and lodge deeper into lungs creating more serious long-term health hazards than asbestos like white lung disease which will become more evident 5, 10, 20 years from 11 Sep 2001.
Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

6/08/2003 07:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 07, 2003
 
BUNIA: Death toll impossible to tell, but slaughter ongoing.
The crash of mortars and crackling gunfire ripped through central Bunia yesterday as a vicious tribal war for the town re-ignited just one day after the arrival of 100 French special force troops, deployed in advance of a joint European peacekeeping force to pacify the Democratic Republic Congo's war-ravaged north eastern capital.

In a virtual re-run of the battle for Bunia last month - when 700 UN peacekeepers stood by as hundreds of civilians were massacred, and 25,000 fled - the French troops remained at their airport barracks, without orders or capacity to intervene.

Thousands of Bunia's terrified residents poured back to the main UN compound they had only recently vacated, lugging their groaning wounded and hundreds of terrified, wailing children with them. But as the storm of bullets and grenades swept across the compound from all sides, this was a fragile refuge. Sprawling on the concrete floors, over 50 Western journalists cowered as bullets thudded into the walls and mortars exploded outside. Having flocked to Bunia in the expectation of seeing a triumphant French intervention, they found themselves depending on Bunia's humiliated Uruguayan UN peacekeepers, who fired not a round in return yesterday.

Anyone who applauded the trivial UN movement can now count the slaughter of these people on their conscience. Anyone else knew this was what would happen.

Write your politicians. Call for a major UN force, with major US support.

Stop the slaughter. Stop the self-satisfaction. Do something that counts.

Stop it. Call for stopping it. Spend time calling for stopping it. Do it now. Stop blogging and reading and act.

Don't live with this on your conscience. Act now.

Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.


6/07/2003 06:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A STAR IS BORN: Salem Pax's first Grauniad column.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.


6/07/2003 06:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, June 06, 2003
 
MUGABE CONTINUES TO crush dissent, violently and ruthlessly, in Zimbabwe.

Once again, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been arrested and charged with treason. (He's already in the middle of a [bogus] trial for treason!)

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.


6/06/2003 06:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE FIRST FRENCH TROOPS have arrived in Bunia, Congo.
All told, roughly 100 French troops were seen arriving this morning. Their commander declined to divulge their number, saying only that their first responsibilities would be to prepare for the deployment of the total force, secure the airport and coordinate with the United Nations peacekeepers already on the ground.

[...]

Also outstanding is the question of whether the new force will do anything to stanch the fighting that goes on across the province, outside Bunia. Even this week there were reports of a fresh massacre just southeast of here; United Nations peacekeepers said they did not have the means to investigate what happened, let alone stop it.

Already, the commander of the United Nations peacekeeping force here, Col. Daniel Vollot, has said the force has not come with disarmament as a goal. The commander of the Hema militia has happily echoed that sentiment.

1400 troops might be able to secure this one town; even that is doubtful. The rest of Congo, apparently, can go die.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.


6/06/2003 06:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, June 03, 2003
 
ON GROWING UP A NAVY BRAT by "Sgt. Stryker." Great, very personal, stuff.
I always resented my father for being gone all the time. For a few years, I felt more than resentful. I felt betrayed. I felt he cared more about his job then he did about us. Trying to explain to a 10 year old the reason why his father was always gone must've been tough, as all the adults preferred to resort to bullshit rather than the truth. But the adults always lived in a bullshit world.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/03/2003 01:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LEIGH BRACKETT was nicely appreciated by James Sallis in the Boston Globe last month.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5, whether you know who she was or not.


6/03/2003 12:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I HAVE ONLY ONE RULE: not more than one Starship-Troopers-are-coming post per month. Here's this month's.

Which is an excuse to link to Jim MacDonald's classic Red Mike review of ST.

Things are bad and getting worse, as a mob of Mobile Infantry types mill about, getting in each others' lines of fire, screaming things like "Run for your life!" or words to that effect. It isn't until later in the film that you discover that milling about is the only formation they practice regularly, and aimless running is their chief tactical mode.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 on the Wired story; 5 out of 5 for Jim's hilarious take-down of the movie.

6/03/2003 11:03:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IDIOTS in New Zealand.
Police are determined to deal with an alarming trend towards children becoming addicted to a violent internet game.

An internet cafe has banned two 13-year-old "junkies", who, it was claimed, had broken into 40 taxis over six weeks to pay for habits which culminated in a four-day gaming binge.

The 24-hour Wellington cafe, E-Joy, told police the boys had occasionally slept there after falling asleep playing Counter-Strike, one of the world's most popular online tactical war games.

[...]

The pair were not typical criminal teens and had loving two-parent families, friends and schools that cared about them, he said.

Yet one had not been seen by his parents since Monday when he disappeared wearing his school uniform and was picked up, filthy, exhausted and bedraggled by Mr Callander on Thursday night.

Both would need treatment for their addictions, he said.

[...]

Though the problem is new to police, internet sites devoted to Counter-Strike reveal that gamers have been concerned about addiction for some time.

The Counter-Strike New Zealand website is full of messages and articles from gamers claiming to be addicted, including teenagers who say they have skipped school to play.

You, of course, are addicted to reading blogs, you filthy junkie, you. It's so, because I just said so, which makes it so.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 to experience your eyeballs rolling so much they'll fall out of your head.


6/03/2003 10:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE VIRTUAL UNIVERSE. Lovely new 3-D real-time display capability at the Hayden Planetarium. Use the Spaceball!

Read The Rest Scale: depending on your sense of wonder; 4 won't be achievable, you'll only be able to put more nines on the end of 3.999999.....


6/03/2003 10:42:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CENTRINO CHIPS WON'T WORK with VPN.

Since doing wireless internet is the main point of the new chip, the inability to do secure Virtual Private Networks is a flaw the size of the Grand Canyon in the freaking things.

Read The Rest Scale: depending on your interest in this.


6/03/2003 10:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BEAGLE II IS A go.

No, not another dog story; it's the British/Euro Mars probe, which took off successfully, going where no dog has ever gone before. May it successfully pee on Mars, via Mars Express.

(Will there eventually be a joint on Mars serving alcoholic beverages and shaped like a large, brown, rectangle, called "Mars Bar"? And, is there also a "Mars Local"?)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 for feel-good news.


6/03/2003 10:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHATCHA' LOOKIN' AT?: Dogs developed the ability to watch our faces for clues as to what to do during the domestication process of the species, over fifteen thousand years, a study of their comparative behavior with human-raised wolves shows.

The study didn't address the known fact that this process works in reverse.

"What's that, Lassie?"

"Woof!"

"You say Timmy fell down a well by the old Simpson place?"

"Wroof!"

"Good girl! Let's go get him!"

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 for a non-shaggy dog story.


6/03/2003 10:21:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE AMAZING GECKO-MAN. How did Stan Lee and Steve Ditko get it so wrong?
A new material covered with nanoscopic hairs that mimic those found on geckos' feet could allow people to walk up to sheer surfaces and across ceilings, say researchers.

Andre Geim and colleagues at the UK's Manchester University say covering a person's hand with the material would be enough to let them stick to the ceiling. The tape could be detached from the surface by simply peeling it slowly away from one side.

[...]

Geckos can climb even the most slippery surface with ease and hang from glass using a single toe. The secret behind this extraordinary climbing skill lies with millions of tiny keratin hairs - called setae - on the surface of each foot. An intermolecular phenomenon known as van der Waals force is exerted by each of these hairs. Although the force is individually miniscule, the millions of hairs collectively produce a powerful adhesive effect.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University recently announced that they had made synthetic setae that exert a similar force. But Geim's team has now gone further by demonstrating a material made of millions of such artificial hairs.

A sticky issue.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 for more detail.


6/03/2003 10:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A MATHEMATICAL MODEL OF BILL O'REILLY proves:
In the first mathematical analysis of Bill O'Reilly ever done, the Review has incontrovertibly proved what was previously believed only anecdotally: O'Reilly is a bully and a jerk. The study examined O'Reilly's interview [sic] with Jacob Sullum who has written an important new book on drugs, "Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use." Using the advanced technology of Microsoft's Word Count, the Review determined that Sullum only got in 35 more words than the interviewer, O'Reilly. O'Reilly got in the longest statements - 89 and 104 words - while Sullum in 35 exchanges only managed to say more than 50 words (a little less than a half minute) on three occasions. In 42.85% of the exchanges Sullum only managed to get in five words or less.

Ironically, the longest statement of the interview - by O'Reilly - began this way:

"We got -- hey, Mr. Sullum, this is a discussion, all right. You let me get my points in. I'll let you get yours in, all right. Let's get that straight up. . . "
Up to that point, the interviewee had only managed to get in five more words than the host.

The study also found that while Sullum interrupted O'Reilly seven times, the host interrupted the guest 12 times, providing such useful additions as:

O'REILLY: Pinheads like you are encouraging intoxication...
At the end, O'Reilly - as he often does - graciously told Sullum;
O'REILLY: Look, you irresponsible libertines cause so much damage to this society, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I'll give you the last word.
In fact, not only did O'Reilly managed to get in four more last thoughts but they added up to 33 more words than Sullum was able to squeeze in.
Virginia Postrel comments:
Contrary to his image as some kind of conservative ideologue, O'Reilly is just a long-winded cab driver with a TV show and no real interest in policy, ideas, or facts. (At one point he declared that the government statistics everyone in the drug policy world relies on, regardless of their policy preferences, are "just your opinion.)
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5 on the initial quote; 2.5 out of 5 on Virginia's entry.

6/03/2003 09:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CONSISTENTLY WIDE-EYED AND CREDULOUS is how Christopher Hitchens finds Bob Woodward in his review of Bush At War. And that's one of the nicest things he has to say about Woodward. Lovely.
Oscillating between that zenith and that nadir, the doyen of capital insiders has usually settled for a hybrid of investigation, damage control, stenography, and the megaphone.

[...]

It has long been possible, even in the outermost circles of the journalistic trade, to guess who talked to Woodward. One looks for the passages of sycophancy and works backward from there. Thus we can tell that George Tenet was helpful as soon as he is described as the "hefty, outgoing son of Greek immigrants" -- even before we read that he always grasped the root of the matter.

[...]

Another way to be certain that a senior source cooperated is to read Woodward ventriloquizing his or her profoundest inner thoughts. Thus we can be sure that Colin Powell is on board as soon as we learn that he got on a plane in Peru shortly after the aggressors struck on September 11 and "started to scribble notes to himself."

[...]

Richard Armitage must have talked freely to Woodward, because he turns out to be "an outspoken, muscular, barrel-chested man who deplored fancy-pants, pin-striped diplomatic talk." Furthermore, "Even before they took over the State Department, Powell and Armitage talked several times each day. 'I would trust him with my life, my children, my reputation, everything I have,' Powell said of Armitage." In theory, this husky male bonding should have been qualified just a little bit by Powell's dogmatic insistence on fancy-pants, pin-striped diplomatic talk. But since precisely such verbiage is the stuff of moral and political heroism in the remainder of the narrative, this thought, too, is prevented from emerging.

I think we may be sure that Condoleezza Rice was a willing accomplice in Woodward's enterprise, and not just because she is depicted at Camp David on the first traumatic September weekend, leading the team after dinner "in a sing-along of American standards including 'Old Man River,' 'Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen' and 'America The Beautiful.'" Wish I'd been there to see it. (Who guessed that so many Republicans knew the words to the first two?)

Literal rendition may be the price that journalism pays for access, and every reporter in Washington knows that some massaging of sources is necessary from time to time. It's not just the abjectness of Woodward, however, that causes the gorge to rise.

[...]

But these flimsy paragraphs call attention to a rather peculiar fact. Apparently nobody senior at the Department of Defense was willing to talk much to Woodward. Surely this is something of a shortcoming in a book titled Bush at War.

[...]

So it's not just that Bush at War fails to prepare its readers even for a simple analysis of what has already happened, or that it occludes one side of a critical argument. The book does not try to be objective. It contains shifty untruths from those who collude, and represses basic factual material, gleanable from aides or from the public record, from the side of those who do not. It despises history and, as a partially ironic consequence, is outpaced by the present. It purports to be hard-headed, but is consistently wide-eyed and credulous. Pseudo-objectivity in the nation's capital is now overripe for regime change.

Hitchens is as sharp, and undogmatic, as ever. Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5 for more, including a nice parenthetical swipe at Henry Kissinger (of course), dicing and slicing of Colin Powell, jabs at Donald Rumsfeld, and some interesting observations about Paul Wolfowitz, among other bits and pieces.

6/03/2003 09:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AFGHANISTAN REMAINS A SHITHOLE.

We promised a Marshall Plan, and we're doing little for these people. It's a crime.

Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.


6/03/2003 02:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU IN 1905 in Britain. If you're a man, odds are you wind up dead in WWI.

Ah, it's good to be rich. And sucks to be otherwise.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5 for fun. (Via the Manor House project and Betsy Devine.)


6/03/2003 02:17:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, June 02, 2003
 
WHOA. Keanu Reeves is reportedly giving fifty million of the seventy million pounds he will earn from Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions to the special effects team and costumers.
And it's not the first time the Beirut-born star has shown his jaw-dropping benevolence. While shooting the films in Australia he amazed the team of stuntmen by giving them each a £6,000 Harley Davidson motorcycle. And the actor, whose sister has leukaemia, has also channelled millions into cancer research.

His gift to the Matrix series' 29 behind-the-scenes whiz-kids will see each of them receiving £1.75 million.

Hey, Keanu! Hire me, baby!

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.


6/02/2003 11:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SENSE FROM CANADA. LUNACY FROM THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT.
Last week, Canada's governing Liberal Party introduced a bill that would decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana. "Cannabis consumption is first and foremost a health matter," Justice Minister Martin Couchon declared. "It should not result in criminal penalties." Under the new plan, a minor pot offense would be punished with a citation and a fine, much like a speeding ticket.

The bill is strongly opposed by the Bush administration, which has threatened to step up drug searches at the border, creating traffic jams and delaying Canadian exports. "It is my job to protect Americans from dangerous threats," John P. Walters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, warned last year, "and right now, Canada is a dangerous staging area for some of the most dangerous marijuana."

Fortunately, we instead produce completely undangerous tobacco and alcohol.
[...]

Meanwhile, the United States has escalated its war on pot. The number of marijuana arrests now approaches three-quarters of a million annually, largely for simple possession. More people are in prison for marijuana crimes today than ever before. Dozens, if not hundreds, are serving life sentences for nonviolent pot offenses.

We're all ever so much safer. And our society is made truly more just.

Small historic note:

Oddly enough, the first American law about marijuana, passed by the Virginia Assembly in 1619, required every household to grow it. Hemp was considered a valuable commodity.

[...] Moral condemnations of pot smokers and long prison sentences were revived by President Ronald Reagan, as a part of that era's culture wars. Mr. Reagan's first drug czar, Carlton E. Turner, felt that marijuana use was linked to anti-authority behavior and insisted pot could turn young men into homosexuals.

(Note for the reader: I've not touched the stuff, myself, in many years.)

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.


6/02/2003 10:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BROOKLYN EAGLE lives. Here.
IF a Brooklyn man stumbled while walking on Fulton Street in the morning, so the old saying went, he could read about it that evening in The Eagle. Now, more than 100 years later, everyone else can read about it, too. They can also read about every grisly murder, every women's suffrage rally and every new corset style to grace the pages of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, the borough's leading newspaper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

[...]

Founded in 1841, the Eagle had become, by the Civil War, the most widely read afternoon newspaper in America, according to "The Eagle and Brooklyn," a 1974 book by Raymond A. Schroth. The paper won four Pulitzer Prizes -Nelson Harding was honored two years in a row, 1927 and 1928, for editorial cartooning - and was noted for its opposition to the borough's 1898 consolidation with New York City.

Woohoo, says this born-and-bred Brooklynite. (The link to the database is not working at this moment, though I did independently verify it at the Brooklyn Public Library site.

6/02/2003 10:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JAPANESE MILITARISM: Endless articles like this have been appearing for years, and continue to appear.
The former empire of the sun is re-arming and shedding some of its self-imposed anti-war legislation, to the benefit of the US and its allies, writes Jonathan Watts.

[...]

After half a century of waging peace, Japan will be able to start preparing for war later this month when parliament is expected to pass the nation's first law countenancing the possibility of an enemy attack.

Japan famously has one of the best equipped but least useful armies in the world. This is because its military power is deliberately entangled in a constitutional net designed to avoid any repeat of the adventurism that led to the invasion of China in 1937 and the assault on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

But those legal restraints - put in place after the second world war - have been steadily unravelling since the start of the 1990s and they will slip further within the next two weeks with the expected passage of three war contingency laws.

People keep applauding this, utterly oblivious to Japan's many centuries' history of virulent militarism, and continued engrained racism and sense of racial superiority.

Fools.

Japanese pacifism was forced upon them by foreign occupation, and never even pushed militant radical nationalism anything approaching entirely underground. Japan continues to refuse to acknowledge its war crimes in Asia.

It might be safe to allow for increased expression of Japanese military power after another century of reformation; allowing it now is, in the long term, dangerous.

To call for it is irresponsible and ahistoric. Japanese nationalists are not on the side of the US, Europe, or the West. They are only on their own side.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.


6/02/2003 07:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DEVIL WORSHIPPERS are being turned up throughout the Mideast. How do you know who they are? They listen to heavy metal music.
In Morocco last March, 14 supposed "devil worshippers" received jail sentences ranging from three months to one year for "undermining the Muslim faith" and "possessing objects contrary to good morals".

Nine of the men, who were aged between 21 and 36, belonged to local heavy metal bands - Nekros, Infected Brain and Reborn - and the rest were fans. Among the objects exhibited in court as being contrary to good morals was a black T-shirt with heavy metal symbols on it. This prompted the judge to comment that "normal people go to concerts in a suit and tie".

[...]

In Beirut a few weeks ago, plainclothes police raided the Acid nightclub looking for "devil worshippers".

Lebanese devil worshippers are easily recognised. According to one security official, they are young men with long hair and beards who "listen to hard rock music, drink mind-altering alcoholic cocktails and take off their black shirts, dancing bare-chested".

A report in the Lebanese newspaper the Daily Star said the raid - in which about 10 people were arrested - was personally supervised by the interior minister, Elias Murr.

Hey, maybe rock music ain't dead.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.


6/02/2003 07:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TODAY'S CONGO NEWS:
At least 100 people died over the weekend in a Congolese fishing village as rival ethnic militias continued their battles in the country's troubled north-eastern region, a militia spokesman and a Ugandan military commander said today.

Brigadier Kale Kaihura, who commanded some 6,000 Ugandan troops in Congo until their withdrawal early last month, put the death toll at about 100. He said that Lendu tribal fighters armed with machetes and rifles had attacked Chomia village in north-east Congo, on the Congo-Uganda border, on Saturday.

He said the dead were members of the Hema tribe, including women and children. He said dozens of others were wounded, and some were ferried across the lake for treatment in Ugandan hospitals.

Kisembo Bitamara - a spokesman for Pusic, a faction of the Hema fighters based in Chomia - told the Reuters news agency that 352 Hema men, women and children had been killed by Lendu fighters backed by Congolese government troops.

[...]

Mr Bitamara said that the hundreds of Lendu attackers were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades as well as the more traditional machetes and rifles. He said this indicated weapons had been supplied by the Congolese army, which has begun to send troops into the Ituri region that is nominally controlled by rebels backed by Uganda and Rwanda.

I repeat: 1200 French and South African troops can do nothing against this. The slaughter continues, and the world watches.

Further:

Other UN officials said Major Sarwat Oran of Jordan and Captain Siddon Davis Banda of Malawi were captured and tortured before being shot in the head. Their genitals were cut off, the officials said.
Fortunately:
Mr Mounoubai said a report on the incident would be sent to UN headquarters in New York.
Thank goodness for the UN!

And the US does nothing.

Additionally:

Mr Mounoubai said the evidence of cannibalism in the fighting for Bunia included "photographs and information" collected by investigators which would be released "in due time".
Last week, Francois Grignon wrote:
There will be no excuses for not knowing.

What does the US do? MONUC is the UN force.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations also have to share the blame for the severity of the crisis in Ituri. The Bush Administration's refusal to support MONUC's request for extra troops last year delayed deployments in Ituri for months. When Washington finally did give approval for an extra 3,000 MONUC soldiers back in December, it insisted that the deployment be split into two and conditioned to additional reports from the Secretary General - ensuring it takes far too long for any boots to hit the ground where they are most urgently needed.
The Hema. The Lendu. Cambodia. Rwanda. Bosnia. The Jews. The world watches. The world does nothing. The leaders of the richest eight nations meet at Evian, and do nothing.

There is no excuse.

Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: Last week, the usually brilliant and perspicuous Brad deLong wrote:

Gary Farber says I'm a bad person for not paying sufficient attention to the atrocity that is the Congo.
Of course, I said nothing of the kind.

FURTHER ADDENDUM: In comments below, Brad flagellates himself. Brad deLong is a bad person for doing this. (Amygdala is always willing to help out bloggers with clear self-esteem issues.) (No, wait. Amygdala is actually rarely willing to offer such help. We will merely do so when it tickles our fancy. We have a very ticklish fancy, however.)


6/02/2003 06:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EVERYONE LOVES BUFFY. I've passed on blogging on a zillion Buffy memorials, primarily because they largely seemed too repetitive and individually not outstanding.

But I'm sufficiently bemused by the online editor of The Weekly Standard declaring:

"BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" is the best show in the history of television.
...to mention it. He explains why, and gives his Ten Best Episodes List.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.


6/02/2003 06:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CLUSTER BOMB MUNITIONS in Iraq. The Observer has a PDF map.
The map, dated 13 May, was produced by the Humanitarian Operations Centre based in Kuwait, which is staffed by military personnel from the US, Britain and Kuwait and is based on the latest intelligence assessment of the danger of unexploded bombs.

It was given to selected Non-Governmental Organisations tasked with providing humanitarian aid to the country. The map depicts a mass of green circles, diamonds and rectangles, each showing an individual site of what is described as an 'explosive location'.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

6/02/2003 04:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SALEM PAX WAS PETER MAASS' INTERPRETER.
In early May, I agreed to hand over a fantastic interpreter I had been working with to a colleague who could offer him long-term employment, as I would be leaving the country at the end of the month. I needed a new interpreter to fill the gap for two weeks or so, and the colleague mentioned that he had just met a smart and friendly guy named Salam. I quickly traced Salam to the Sheraton Hotel. Salam -- this is his real first name -- was sitting in a chair in the lobby, reading Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I knew, at that moment, that I would hire him.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

6/02/2003 04:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ZIMBABWE: Thomas Nephew asks us to contact the govenment of Zimbabwe to ask them to respect human rights, particularly during the upcoming planned protests; he supplies e-mail, phone, and fax, contact information.

I frankly expect this to do no good at all, but one never knows, and it's probably not likely to hurt, so take a few moments to do so.

Thomas also points out Doris Lessing's excellent March piece on Mugabe in the NY Review of Books, which I somehow missed the first time around, and I join in urging reading this scathing, passionate, accurate, indictment of Mugabe's petty, incompetent, dictorial, rule, which has near-destroyed the country that was once "the jewel of Africa."

One particularly wrenching note:

The villagers joked about their oppressors, and continued to dream about better times, which they were only too ready to help bring into being by their own efforts. In the early years, promised free primary and secondary and university education, they were helping to build schools, unpaid, though soon free education or, in some places, any education at all would be a memory. For education, they did much better under the whites.

Denied a decent education, or any, they hungered for books. At least two surveys said that what they wanted was novels, particularly classics, science fiction, poetry, historical fiction, fairy stories, and while at the beginning these were books that were supplied, soon rocketing inflation made it impossible to buy anything but the cheapest and locally published instruction books. How to Run a Shop. How to Keep Poultry. Car Repairs. That kind of thing. A box of even elementary books may transform a village. A box of books, sent by a humanitarian organization, may be, often is, greeted with tears. One man complained, "They taught us how to read, but now there are no books." Three years ago a Penguin classic cost more than a month's wage.

But even with books that were so far from what was originally dreamed of, in no time study classes began, liter-acy classes, math lessons, citizenship classes. The appearance of a box of books released (will release again?) astonishing energies. A village sunk in apathy will come to life overnight. This is not a people who wait for handouts: a little encouragement, help, sets them off on all kinds of projects. In January I heard from a member of a book team with which I'm associated that distributes books in villages, "I was out this week. I was talking about books to people who haven't eaten for three days."

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5.

6/02/2003 03:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BROWNER BUNNY: I reported earlier on the reaction at Cannes to Brown Bunny, which was met with historically unprecedented rejection. Now creator Vincent Gallo is fighting back.
Gallo says Screen International made up his quotes.

"I never apologized for anything in my life," Gallo tells the New York Post. "I like the movie. I had 100 percent creative and financial control of it and if I didn't like it, I would have changed it."

With an added dose of vitriol, Gallo went on to attack Ebert, saying, "The only thing I'm sorry about is putting a curse on Roger Ebert's colon. If a fat pig like Roger Ebert doesn't like my movie, then I'm sorry for him."

In an added touch of gracefulness:
"I'm sorry I'm not gay or Jewish, so I don't have a special interest group of journalists that support me," Gallo says. "I'm sorry for a lot of things, but I'm not sorry for making this movie."
Critics also remain unrepentant.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: Here is an account sympathetic to Gallo.


6/02/2003 03:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE FCC LIFTED OWNER RESTRICTIONS as expected.
As expected, the F.C.C. said a single company can now own television stations that reach 45 percent of American households, up from 35 percent.

[...]

The commission also largely ended a bad on joint ownership of a newspaper and a television station in the same city. The provision lifts all cross-ownership restrictions in markets with nine or more television stations.

[...]

The rule changes also make it easier for a company to own two television stations in more markets, and three stations in the biggest cities, like New York and Los Angeles.

As a blogger, of course, I shall benefit immensely as I am "competition" to tv stations, providing much needed balance of views. Hurrah for me.

Yeah. Right.

Read The Rest Scale: It's Too Late, Now.


6/02/2003 11:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, June 01, 2003
 
POWELL-STRAW TRANSCRIPTS reveal doubts about intelligence.
Jack Straw and his US counterpart, Colin Powell, privately expressed serious doubts about the quality of intelligence on Iraq's banned weapons programme at the very time they were publicly trumpeting it to get UN support for a war on Iraq, the Guardian has learned.

Their deep concerns about the intelligence - and about claims being made by their political bosses, Tony Blair and George Bush - emerged at a private meeting between the two men shortly before a crucial UN security council session on February 5.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. Sigh.

6/01/2003 09:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SALEM PAX has been hired by the Guardian as a columnist.

Salem has new posts up.

Ya Allah have mercy on our souls. The old state owned Internet center in Adil district has been taken over by anarchists and they are offering internet access for FREE. You just need to dial up a number, no password, no special settings. Whoever heard of anyone doing that?

[...]

Yesterday they put up a piece of paper that said: "we are happy to announce that you can get free internet access by dialing up this number". A small little paper on the notice board. The telephone network is not fully operational, certain districts don't have phones at all, but as I wrote earlier many of the exchanges that have not been destroyed or looted have been linked together. You will need to keep dialing for an hour to get thru but it works, I tried it.

Not a million bad things could have wiped the grin off my face when I read that little note.

[...]

Let me make a suggestion. Do not assume, not even for a second, that because you read the blog you know who I am or who my parents are. And you are definitely not entitled to be disrespectful. Not everything that goes on in this house ends up on the blog, so please go play Agatha Christy somewhere else.

My mother, a sociologist who was very happy in pursuing her career at the ministry of education decided to give up that career when she had to choose between becoming Ba’ath party member and quitting her job, she became a housewife. My father, a very well accomplished economist made the same decision and decided to become a farmer instead.

You are being disrespectful to the people who have put the first copy of George Orwell’s 1984 in my hands, a heavy read for a 14 year old with bad English. But that banned book started a process and gave me the impulse to look at the world I live in a different way.

[G]o fling the rubbish at someone else.

Have I told you that my father agreed to act as the mediator in the surrendering process between a number of Iraqi government officials and the American administration here? He is a man with sound moral judgment and people listen to his advice. People at the American administration and many of the new political parties had asked him for consultation.

Did I tell you about the time when one of Bremer's aides asked him what the difference between a tribal sheikh and a mosque sheikh is? They send them thousands of miles to govern us here and then ask such questions.

Did I tell you about his unending optimism in what the Americans can achieve here if they were given time? He is so much less of a skeptic than I am, we had our shouty arguments a number of times since the appearance of the Americans on our theatre of events.

You see, there is a lot that I have not told you about, and I don't see an obligation to do so. You all hide behind your blog names and keep certain bits of your life private.

I think the things that were said in the email above and on other sites were out of line.

There is more[.]

[...]

There is no way to “minimize” the contribution of the USA in removing saddam. The USA waged a friggin' war, how could you "minimize" a war. I have said this before: if it weren't for the intervention of the US, Iraq would have seen saddam followed by his sons until the end of time. But excuse me if I didn’t go out and throw flowers at the incoming missiles. As for the second point, I don't think anyone has the right to throw cluster bombs in civilian areas.

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5.

6/01/2003 08:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE HORROR. THE HORROR. The online game Shadowbane was hacked.
The horror, as horror so often does, began slowly … almost imperceptibly.

Late Tuesday evening, little things suddenly started to go very wrong in the virtual world of Shadowbane, a popular online multiplayer game.

Some players noticed that their money and weapons had suddenly vanished. A few whispered that tonight the monsters somehow seemed slightly bigger and meaner.

And then all hell broke loose.

Shadowbane had been hacked by several of its players. But unlike standard game hacks, where players gift themselves with super strength, health or wealth, these hackers managed to completely alter the rules of Shadowbane -- turning a suddenly wrathful game loose on its players.

"At first, players started speculating that there was a really bad bug in the game code," player Tim Wheating said. "Then we realized that somehow an insane god had taken control of our world and was out to kill us all."

[...]

he population of an entire Shadowbane town was forcibly moved to the bottom of the sea, where they drowned. City guards turned feral and attacked town residents. Mobs of never-before-seen superpowerful creatures, seemingly spontaneously spawned from the ether, began to prowl the streets unchecked, killing characters in the most painful way possible.

[...]

Mike Gontelli, a late arrival to the game that evening, said that when he arrived in Shadowbane "there were hundreds of tombstones. New players were being beaten and tortured. Newbie blood was flowing like a river. I knew it wasn't real, but it was oddly terrifying."

He added, "I've been playing online games for a few years. There are always some hackers hanging around who have figured out how to give themselves special powers. But I have never, ever seen or heard of a game going this deeply berserk."

Hilarious. And a taste of the potential for the future when online games have evolved further, with richer graphics, until we get to something like a holodeck, or, indeed, direct brain-jacking.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 for more detail.


6/01/2003 08:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ILYA PRIGOGINE has died.
Dr. Ilya Prigogine, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977 for insights into how life could arise in apparent defiance of the classical laws of physics, died on Wednesday in Brussels. He was 86.

The second law of thermodynamics states that in any isolated physical system, order inevitably dissolves into decay. But Dr. Prigogine showed that in a system powered by an energy source -- the Earth bathed in light and heat from the Sun, for example — structures can evolve and become more complex.

"It showed a mechanism by which life could exist in the physical world," said Dr. Linda E. Reichl, director of the research center at the University of Texas at Austin that is named after Dr. Prigogine.

[...]

Dr. Prigogine's mathematical models could also be applied to problems as disparate as the growth of cities and the dynamics of traffic jams, laying down the foundation for a field now known as complexity.

In an interview in 1977 after the announcement of his Nobel Prize, Dr. Prigogine explained his research in terms of an analogy with two towns, one walled off from the outside world, the other a nexus of commerce. The first town, he said, represents the closed system of classical physics and chemistry, which must decay according to the second law of thermodynamics. The second town is able to grow and become more complex because of its interactions with the surrounding environment.

Here is a nice autobiographical sketch he once wrote.

Read The Rest Scale: depending on your interest.


6/01/2003 07:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ISRAELI ARABS VISIT AUSCHWITZ.
More than 100 Israeli Arabs toured the Auschwitz death camp alongside Israeli Jews on Tuesday, in a visit aimed at deepening Arab understanding of Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.

Seated by the ruins of the main Auschwitz crematorium, the group of 120 Arabs and 130 Jews from Israel listened to the testimony of survivor Shlomo Venezia, 79, now living in Rome, whose mother, sister, uncles and aunts perished at Auschwitz, the Nazis' largest death camp.

"It's such a powerful experience to be here that I cannot speak," said Nujeidat Shafi, a 46-year-old Arab from Israel's Galilee region.

[...]

The group of Israeli Arabs included intellectuals, professionals and businessmen, most in their 40s. About 200 young Jews and Arabs from France are accompanying the group on the visit, which continues Wednesday.

"We came here in order to know what happened exactly in order to express our sympathy and solidarity with the Jewish people," said Awwad Nawaf, 57, a teacher who lives in Nazareth. "We hope this will help us and the Jews to live in good neighborhood, and to understand each other. We hope it can help stop the bloodshed and the cruelty."

Needless to say, this is a Very Good Thing, despite being, of course, but a small step.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for a bit more. (Via Eve Tushnet.)


6/01/2003 06:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, May 31, 2003
 
THE "GET DR. FRANK OFF BLOGSPOT" MOVEMENT.

Dr. Frank remains one of the sanest political voices I know, and so I endorse the movement. Since I recommend daily checking of Dr. Frank. And listening to his songs is also a fine enhancement of your life.


5/31/2003 10:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AUNG SAN SUU KYI has been arrested again.

You'll recall that she is the opposition leader who has spent most of the past decade under house arrest, after winning elections in 1990, after which the ruling junta of Myanmar (Burma) refused to turn over power, and arrested her, releasing her only less than a year ago.

International expressions of concern have followed the the arrest of Burma's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and closure of her pro-democracy party headquarters in Rangoon.

Burma's ruling military junta said she was taken into "protective custody" after clashes overnight between her supporters and pro-government protesters.

More than a dozen members of her entourage were also being held, officials said.

Four people died and 50 were injured in the violence, according to the military.

She's the major force for democracy in Myanmar. Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

5/31/2003 09:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, May 29, 2003
 
LORD OF THE RINGS, THE MUSICAL, will make its debut in London.
Nonetheless, it was announced today that the show will receive its world premiere in London in spring 2005, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the completion of the trilogy with the publication of The Return of the King.

[...]

Hollywood heavyweight Saul Zaentz will co-produce with Kevin Wallace. Zaentz was involved with the disastrous 1978 cartoon version of the Fellowship of the Ring. Let's hope this venture meets with a happier fate.

I second that emotion. Fervently.

Read The Rest if you're interested. Here is more.


5/29/2003 10:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BET YOU DIDN'T EXPECT THAT:
Bob Geldof astonished the aid community yesterday by using a return visit to Ethiopia to praise the Bush administration as one of Africa's best friends in its fight against hunger and Aids.

The musician-turned activist said Washington was providing major assistance, in contrast to the European Union's "pathetic and appalling" response to the continent's humanitarian crises. "You'll think I'm off my trolley when I say this, but the Bush administration is the most radical - in a positive sense - in its approach to Africa since Kennedy," Geldof told the Guardian.

The neo-conservatives and religious rightwingers who surrounded President George Bush were proving unexpectedly receptive to appeals for help, he said. "You can get the weirdest politicians on your side."

Former president Bill Clinton had not helped Africa much, despite his high-profile visits and apparent empathy with the downtrodden, the organiser of Live Aid, claimed. "Clinton was a good guy, but he did fuck all."

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5.

5/29/2003 08:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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INSIGNIFICANT UN MOVE ON CONGO reported.
The force of about 1,200 troops, whose mandate runs until Sept. 1, will be led by the French and will include a substantial contingent of South African troops.
Matthew Yglesias, who perhaps has not made much study of military matters, otherwise inexplicably calls this "good news," seeming not to recognize that it means nothing, given that a force numbered minimally in the tens of thousands, with major air support, and armor, is needed to accomplish any pacifying. 1,200 troops is nothing but a joke. A, dare I say it, extremely black joke.

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.


5/29/2003 06:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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