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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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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
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
WHOA. Local newsflash. Wellington Webb, three-term Mayor of Denver for many years, now retired for six months but still a vice-chair of the national party, just gave his first interview since he retired, to the local CBS tv affiliate, and declared that Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, rather popular Republican incumbent with a massive war chest, was "not unbeatable."
They'll have the second part of the interview in the morning. I don't know if this is just some sort of tease to indulge Webb as a power-broker and for his ego, or if it presages a possible run, but it's interesting either way.
COUNT ME IN as a doubter of many aspects of the Peter Landesman's New York Times Magazine cover story, "The Girls Next Door," on alleged massive sex slavery in America, along with Jack Shafer and Daniel Radosh, for the reasons they've been giving. (Incidentally, irrelevantly, the picture Radosh has just below that entry, of Kerry and the baby, with the caption, is pretty funny.)
"...perhaps tens of thousands of women and children" are in sexual slavery in America today? Perhaps so. I certainly hope not. If so, much must be done about it. But this story seems to be very bad journalism, and doesn't make the case at all well. It seems immensely below the generally fairly good standards of the Times Magazine.
ROBERT KAISER of the WashPo is currently doing live Q&A on the primary results here. (It will be just transcript later.) Feel free to join in. A couple of my questions have gotten in (I didn't always use "Boulder, Colorado," as I was afraid they might reject too many questions from one area/person. Here's one of mine:
Boulder, Colo.: Many commentators have suggested various reasons Kerry and Edwards surged in Iowa and in the past week, particularly that their re-tooled stump speeches were vastly improved, whereas, among better-known factors, Dean stuck to his tired speech, which was that of the insurgent he no longer, pre-Iowa, was, rather than that of the front-runner he temporarily was.
Others feel that the Deaniacs, Dean's campaign workers, were too insular, inexperienced, and inward-looking, to be persuasive in the complex Iowa caucus system, and to them, foreign Iowa culture.
I've read the blogs of a number of ordinary Iowa and New Hampshire voters who said clearly they were annoyed and turned-off by overly-aggressive Dean supporters.
Do any of these criticisms seem accurate to you? Or inaccurate? If so, could you discuss them briefly?
Robert G. Kaiser: They all seem pretty good to me. My personal theory about Dean was that in the beginning, many commentators missed the point about him that mattered: people who hadn't previously felt the urge to support any politician really responded to Howard Dean. I thought he showed real political creativity last year, and grew steadily through the spring and summer. I actually said to several friends, if this guy can keep growing month by month as he has so far, he could be really formidable.
But sometime late last year, it seemed to me, he stopped growing. He stopped surprising me, anyway. He did seem to get stuck in a rut. And our reporters picked up the growing dispaleasure in Iowa, where he really did poorly in the caucus before his famous scream speech.
I SEE DEAN PEOPLE is the too-good-not-to-steal title of this William Saletan piece that seems right on target to me.
The crowd in the Palace Theater in Manchester has come to see a live performance by Howard Dean. But the theater also shows movies, and that's how today's "town hall meeting" begins. From every corner of the auditorium, people with Dean shirts, Dean stickers, and Dean posters cheer and clap as they watch a film about people with Dean shirts, Dean stickers, and Dean posters. If you want to understand why Dean has gotten where he is, for good and ill, here's your answer: a campaign about itself.
The Internet helped Deaniacs find, organize, and fortify each other. Together, they built confidence and strength. They spent hours discussing topics such as "Why I love Howard Dean," "When did you fall in love with Howard Dean," and "Enough about Howard Dean—what do you love about Howard Dean?" But the more they affirmed each other, the more they lost touch with the rest of us. Even their first taste of reality, a third-place finish in Iowa, couldn't shake them.
I did a ramble earlier today through a dozen or a few more LiveJournals of "ordinary" Iowa and New Hampshire voters -- though naturally biased towards the young, which only emphasizes the point. They all stressed how immensely annoyed they'd become with Dean supporters/campaigners in the week before the caucus/vote, by the hard-edged tactics, the inability to understand why said person wasn't automatically for Howard and couldn't see the wonderfulness of Howard, and by the way the main argument many had was "you really, really should be for Howard, don't you see that"?
I'm not saying this isn't something the Dean campaign couldn't yet overcome, and go on to triumph. It may be able to and may. But it's something they need to deal with.
GUESS WHO. You should be able to figure out the author of this by style. If not, click on the link.
I am greatly relieved that the universe is finally explainable. I was beginning to think it was me. As it turns out, physics, like a grating relative, has all the answers. The big bang, black holes, and the primordial soup turn up every Tuesday in the Science section of The New York Times, and as a result my grasp of general relativity and quantum mechanics now equals Einstein's - Einstein Moomjy, that is, the rug seller.
How could I not have known that there are little things the size of "Planck length" in the universe, which are a millionth of a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a centimetre? Imagine if you dropped one in a dark theatre how hard it would be to find. And how does gravity work? And if it were to cease suddenly would certain restaurants still require a jacket?
I awoke on Friday and because the universe is expanding it took me longer than usual to find my robe. This made me late leaving for work and, because the concept of up and down is relative, the elevator that I got into went to the roof, where it was very difficult to hail a taxi.
Please keep in mind that a man on a rocket ship approaching the speed of light would have seemed on time for work - or perhaps even a little early and certainly better dressed. When I finally got to the office and approached my employer, Mr Muchnick, to explain the delay, my mass increased the closer I came to him, which he took as a sign of insubordination.
There was some rather bitter talk of docking my pay, which, when measured against the speed of light, is very small anyhow. The truth is that compared to the amount of atoms in the Andromeda galaxy I actually earn quite little. I tried to tell this to Mr Muchnick, who said I was not taking into account that time and space were the same thing.
My advice to anyone has always been to avoid black holes because, once inside, it's extremely hard to climb out and still retain one's ear for music. If, by chance, you do fall all the way through a black hole and emerge from the other side, you'll probably live your entire life over and over but will be too compressed to go out and meet girls.
And so I approached Miss Kelly's gravitational field and could feel my strings vibrating. All I knew was that I wanted to wrap my weak-gauge bosons around her gluons, slip through a wormhole, and do some quantum tunnelling.
It was at this point that I was rendered impotent by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. How could I act if I couldn't determine her exact position and velocity? And what if I should suddenly cause a singularity; that is, a devastating rupture in space-time? They're so noisy. Everyone would look up and I'd be embarrassed in front of Miss Kelly. Ah, but the woman has such good dark energy. Dark energy, though hypothetical, has always been a turn-on for me, especially in a female who has an overbite.
Here's a hint: he grew up two short blocks from me, him on Ave K and East 12th St., me on East 10th St., between J and K, we both went to P.S. 99, where we had the same fifth grade teacher, among others, and we both went to Midwood High School, where we also had a couple of teachers in common.
This is only about half the piece, if you want to Read The Rest. If not, not.
JULIE SCHWARTZ. Some of you know the name well, some not at all. For the latter, a brief biography republished by my old acquaintance Don Markstein, and scroll down to his entry here.
In a nutshell, Julie was one of First Fandom (science fiction, that is), in the 1930's [though his claim to having done the first fanzine is arguable; one can make the case, one can make the case for a couple of others, depending upon definitions; but this is unimportant trivia], rapidly moving into becoming a key agent, and then became one of the most important comic book editors of all time, for decade after decade after decade].
I've met Julie on a dozen or so occasions, though I'm fairly sure he'd not remember me from a hole in the wall, since I was never introduced by one of our more memorable mutual friends, such as Harlan Ellison, and literally tens of thousands, maybe more, told Julie how important his work was to them over the years.
Mark Evanier on his website and Harlan Ellison at Ellison Webderland have been keeping people up to date in recent months on Julie's hospitalization for pneumonia and general state. Now Julie finally went home, fell, and is back in the hospital, at the age of 89. Mark Evanier has set up an e-mail address to send messages and good wishes to Julie, and asks that the e-address be distributed.
You can send mail to schwartz - at -- newsfromme -- dot -- com. Go forth and do so if you like, or say, ever enjoyed Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, The Flash, Hawkman, or the Justice League of America.
I'M AN OSCAR MEYER WIENER for doing this, but what the heck. Here are the Oscar nominations. Some guesses from me, without having seen most of the movies involved, on who will win in a few categories, in order of likelihood:
Best Picture: 1) Return Of The King 2) Lost In Translation 3) Mystic River
Director: 1) Clint Eastwood, Mystic River 2) Peter Jackson, Return Of The King 3) Sofia Coppola
LATER: I'm now more persuaded it will be Peter Jackson. (Jan. 30th)
Actor: 1) Bill Murray, Lost in Translation 2) Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Carribean 3) Sean Penn, Mystic River
Being an Arab custom, they were entitled, as the others, to visit the Sacred Enclosed Sanctuary. However, the Quraysh took this as the greatest threat ever.
They sent Khalid ibn al-Walid [who embraced Islam less than two years later] with a troop of two hundred horses to bar the pilgrims' entry by force of arms. The Prophet [s], having no intention to fight, changed his route and alighted on the plain of Hudaibiya.
The prophet [s] and his Companions remained in Hudaibiya for the next few days. There and then negotiations were opened between the Muslims and the Quraysh.
The treaty that was signed came to be known as 'The Treaty of Hudaibiya'. The following terms and conditions were agreed upon-
1. There would be peace for ten years. During this period, Muslims could go to Makkah and the Quraysh could go to Syria through the Muslim areas.
2. There would be one-sided extradition - the Makkans taking refuge with the Prophet [s] would be handed over on demand to the Quraysh. But Muslims taking refuge with the Quraysh would not be handed back.
3. Muslims would depart from Makkah this year. They would be free to perform umrah the following year and remain in Makkah for only three days.
4. Any tribe wishing to sign the agreement with the Makkans or the Quraysh, would be able to do so.
It was a trying period for the Muslims. The treaty was a blessing in disguise. They had hoped to visit the Ka'bah and were now disappointed. Some of the general bitterness at having signed a treaty where the Muslims seemed 'obviously' at loss, smoothed over.
'He rewarded them [Pledgers of allegiance] with a speedy victory.' [Qur'an 48: 18]
Most of the commentators assume that the above verse relates to the conquest of Khaybar, which took place a few months after the Truce of Hudaibiya. It is probable, however, that it is a prophecy of the almost bloodless conquest of Makkah in the year 8H, the victorious establishment of Islam in all of Arabia and, finally, the tremendous expansion of the Islamic Commonwealth under the Prophet's [s] immediate successors.
The Treaty of Hudaibiya proved to be of the greatest importance for the future of Islam. Muslims were united for a cause like never before.
The Treaty brought about the moral and political victory of Islam all over Arabia.
Blocked from getting to your sacred site? It's okay to make a treaty of peace for ten years, even one that gives unfair advantages to your enemy, and then -- somehow or other -- you will conquer in only seven years!
Prima facie the pact was loaded in favor of the Quraish and most of the Muslims were critical of its terms. Abu Bakr and Ali, however felt that the Holy Prophet knew things better than what his followers could comprehend, and that what appeared to be disadvantageous to the Muslims might ultimately turn to their advantage. Umar waited on the Holy Prophet, and gave expression to his dissatisfaction with the terms of the treaty. The Holy Prophet assured him that whatever he had done was under the command of God, and that the terms which appeared to he against the interest of the Muslims would turn out to their favor. While on the way back to Madina, God sent a revelation that the treaty was a victory for the Muslims. As subsequent events showed this treaty was in fact a prelude to the conquest of Makkah. In later years some one asked Ali as to how the treaty of Hudaibiya was a victory for the Muslims when the terms thereof were apparently in favor of the Quraish. Ali pointed out that during the previous seventeen years the Quraish had been waging a war against the Muslims sometimes cold, sometimes hot. Their aim was to crush Islam. When by the treaty of Hudaibiya the Quraish agreed to a truce for a period of ten years, it amounted to a confession of their failure. Heretofore the Quraish had exercised a pressure on the tribes of the desert not to ally themselves with the Muslims. By the treaty both the Muslims and the Quraish could have allies from amongst the tribes. This was a subtle point fraught with grave consequences. As things took shape later, it was such alliances that paved the way for the conquest of Makkah by the Muslims.
JUST LOVED THAT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON JOKE. Excerpted from an upcoming book by Mark Katz, who was basically the chief humor speechwriter consultant for Bill Clinton, this is some pretty funny and fascinating stuff for any political junkie. It reads something akin to if Aaron Sorkin wrote reality. It also has interesting insights on how Bill Clinton's public sense of humor developed from, well, mean, to self-deprecating.
Self-deprecating humor comes naturally to only the most skillful practitioners of public power and your average Jew. At that moment in his presidency, the benefits of self-directed jokes were not yet evident to Bill Clinton.
The night before the speech, we sent a draft to the president; the night after that, a tuxedo-clad Bill Clinton took the podium to address the same Washington journalists who had recently made "Whitewater" a household word and opened with a geographic version of a time-honored line: "I am delighted to be here tonight. And if you believe that, I have some land in northwest Arkansas I'd like to sell you."
When I arrived in DC in the spring of 1999, it was as if I were walking onto the set of "Geraldo!"--a place where anything can happen because it already has. A humor speech on the heels of an impeachment trial? Sure, bring it on!
My first conversation with head speechwriter Michael Waldman that spring set the tone for what was to come. After a few minutes spent hashing out the challenges of this political science-fiction scenario, we agreed that we had more latitude than usual: "What are they going to do," he said, "impeach us?"
In the frenzy of our free-for-all, we came upon another ambitious idea that would not, in fact, get Clinton re-impeached: a parody of a transparent White House ploy, employed frequently during the past 14 months to restrain the press corps. As Clinton's renewed interest in foreign affairs had grown over the past year or so, so too had the number of joint press appearances with world leaders. The White House clung to the faint hope that the press corps would be less aggressive about asking the president compromising questions as he stood on the international stage.
Our version of this strategy had Clinton calling to the stage the fictional chief executive of a fictional nation, who would provide cover from the press corps on this night as well. Within an hour of hatching the premise, we had fused stray syllables together to create both our world leader's name (Shoreb Arnsvat) and his sovereign state (Karjakistan).
Ted returned later with good news and bad. Concerned that our parody might hit a little too close to home in places abroad, the NSC had decided that we could not use the name "Karjakistan," as it was a pretty obvious slur on the lawlessness of the fledgling breakaway republics of the former Soviet Union. Also, the national security staff was running a linguistic check on the name of our leader to see if it contained any unintentional ethnic or regional ties. ("Shoreb Arnsvat" could be a name right out of the Macedonian phone book, for all we knew.) I was heartened by the NSC's diligence but also quietly enthralled by the idea of writing a joke that set off an international incident.
Ted planned to submit this joke directly to Sandy Berger, the White House national security advisor, for approval. (How cool was that?) This was a threshold I had never crossed in my many years inside the White House joke-vetting process.
The next morning, Ted returned with bad news: "Sandy killed the Taliban joke." Jeff and I emitted loud, stereophonic groans. "He didn't think it was funny," Ted explained. "Say that again?" I asked. "He didn't like it. He said he didn't think it was funny." "Ted, hold on," I said in disbelief. "We need some ground rules here: The national security advisor can kill any joke he likes on the grounds that it compromises national security. But he can't kill a joke because he doesn't think it's funny."
Former White House aide George Stephanopoulos's then upcoming book played another, even more important role in the president's speech. It gave us the idea for a memoir theme--a joke-breeding ground that Jeff and I found too fertile to ignore. For the better part of two days, we took turns sitting at his computer, trying our hand at a comic preview of the forthcoming Clinton memoirs that would become the premise of his Gridiron speech.
"Page 134: "Election night, 1994. A tense and difficult night. In the family quarters of the residence, Hillary and I watched the returns with a few close friends and advisors. Sperling paced nervously. Begala stared sullenly into space while Leon Panetta bit his nails. 'Bite your own nails, Leon,' Begala snapped. "My own temper flared at the notion of Newt wielding the Speaker's gavel. 'Damn it,' I said, snapping a pretzel stick in my clenched fist. It was a display of anger that startled everyone present, even myself. "I took a deep breath. I counted to ten. By the time I hit six, word of my outburst had reached CNN. But all of a sudden I knew exactly what to do. I saw it all very clearly, the path to yet another comeback. 'Panetta,' I said, 'take a memo. I want you to book Newt Gingrich a seat on Air Force One soon, in the back of the plane.' "Page 319: "I was sitting at my desk reinventing government one day when [pollster] Mark Penn walked into the Oval Office. He was waving a sheet of paper. 'Mr. President, the overnight polls say. . .' I cut him off: 'The polls? Why are you always bringing me polls?' At my strong urging, Mark spent the next six months as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
This, I would learn, is a common phenomenon among people who find themselves in a conversation with a president. They interject the words "Mr. President" into nearly every sentence, as if afflicted with a very proper strain of Tourette's syndrome. There is just something about talking to the president that makes you punctuate your sentences with the words "Mr. President." Not because he wants to hear it-he knows very well who he is--but because you just love to hear yourself say it. After all, when is the next time you'll get to say "Mr. President" in a sentence? A co-op board meeting? More than that, interjecting those words adds import to any sentence you might say. Compare these sentences: A. Cheese sandwiches are very tasty. B. Cheese sandwiches are very tasty, Mr. President.
This condition is only made worse by the fact that speaking to the president can also make you talkative to the point of babbling. This happens for much the same reason: you are not really talking to the president, you are listening to yourself talking to the president. Your brain, so absorbed in listening to the conversation, becomes a cognitive bystander engaged in an internal monologue that goes something like this: I am talking to the president. I am talking to the president. I just said something to the president. The president is responding to something I just said.
NORWEGIANS AND ISRAEL. Bjorn Staerk has pulled a bunch of comments from one of Norway's major newspapers' blog's comments, and has a number of observations. It all bears on the European anti-semitism question, and the general "sorting criticism of Israel from anti-semitism" topic.
This stems from the whole Zvi Mazel/Dror Feiler affair, which I've not blogged a word about, because it happened while I was off-line and when I came back anything I'd link to had already been blogged by all the usual sites more focussed on anti-semitism than I am (of which there are quite a few indeed).
If you're someone interested in the topic, you'll find Bjorn's quotes and commentary of interest, and if not, not. He and a number of others also have a great deal to say in comments on that post.
DEAN'S TIMING. I think this is definitely only one facet of Dean's trouble in Iowa, but that Tomasky is correct insofar as it goes:
The single most important thing Dean should have done, which probably would have balanced out all his misstatements and gaffes, was to retool his stump speech. The speech itself -- "take our country back," "you have the power," all that -- was great, and it got him where he was. But it's an insurgent's speech. It's not a front-runner's speech. A front-runner's speech looks to the future and finds subtle and nonchalant ways to suggest (without really suggesting) that the person speaking these words is indeed inevitable.
So now he limps into New Hampshire doing what he should have done three weeks ago, with a new speech that's meant to show us a new Dean. But whereas three weeks ago the transition to the mellow, substantive Dean would have come across as interesting and ingeniously ahead of the curve yet again, now he just looks sort of desperate.
Clearly there were a number of other significant errors, as well, among which I suspect are remaining too inwardly-focused on the already converted and not enough on finding new ways to bring non-True-Believers into the fold. I suspect too many of the young and super-enthused TBers didn't have experience of, or knowledge how to, talk[ing] to people from different backgrounds and different mind-sets. That's almost inevitably the case with True Believers of all stripes; why should Deaniacs be different? And lastly I suspect that in a caucus situation, too many lacked experience and knowledge of how to directly persuade undecideds over to their side (something I actually have some experience with, after participating in several Washington State caucuses, and being elected a delegate; sometime I will write about why I say "pish-tush" to all the poo-pooing of the "undemocratic nature" of the caucus system, which I believe to be far superior to the primary system).
MARS ATTACKS. A number of bloggers have, understandably, declared their lack of interest in the Mars landings. That's completely reasonable. That's how they feel, and I imagine some feel a bit swamped or defensive by so many other people having an apparently inexplicably different reaction.
Since the rover Spirit landed on Mars three weeks ago, 32 million people have visited the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Web site, dwarfing the numbers of any other space event, including last year's space shuttle accident. The agency recorded four billion hits, one for each item called up on the site, as the visitors browsed through hundreds of pictures considering what rock to zoom in on. That was well over the number of hits recorded in the entire previous year.
Read The Rest if you want to know about "Mars addiction."
Check it out; it loads in just a few seconds. Watch the numbers fly by for a few seconds. That's your tax dollars at work, American citizens. Now, on the other hand, if the product were instead legal and taxed....
Takes me back to my own experience volunteering for John Anderson in 1980.
As I've mentioned before, in 1980, I caucused for John Anderson in Seattle, Washington, in a I-knew-it-would-be-futile-but-what-the-hell effort to deny Ronald Reagan some support.
Seattle being a very liberal Democrat town, our precinct caucus consisted of me, my sweetie, and six or so blue-haired grandmothers.
And the editorial cartoonist of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, not-yet-then Pulitzer-winning David Horsey.
Resulting in the next day's editorial cartoon being an entirely recognizable cartoon of me and my sweetie, in a slightly exaggerated "hippie" look (which we definitely had; just less so) saying to a prune-faced-looking old women in a bee-hive hair-do holding a clipboard and wearing a skeptical look on her face, the caption being either me or my sweetie saying "why, yes, ma'am, we're life-long Republicans!"
So, you see, I've always been iconoclastic. Yep. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
(Wish I still had my copy of that cartoon; can get it from microfilm sometime, I suppose.) And, seriously, I very much admired Anderson, and was very comfortable with his platform and person. Still am. (For the record -- and I know this will shock you -- I voted for Carter in 1980; also for the record, that was the first Presidential election I could vote in; I missed 1976 by a couple of days, which irritated me no end.)
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez's widely reviled film Gigli has topped nominations for the Razzies, awards presented for the year's worst films.
The film, memorably described by one critic as having "a special badness all its own", won nine nods, including worst picture and worst screen couple.
Mike Myers's Dr Seuss adaptation The Cat in the Hat - which another critic said deserved to be called Mike Myers: Asshole in Fur - came in joint second with eight nominations, alongside From Justin to Kelly, a film based around the American Idol television show. Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, and The Real Cancún complete the worst picture shortlist.
Sylvester Stallone continues a long acquaintance with the Razzie shortlist. The actor is nominated for his part in the hugely successful Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over. Stallone enjoys the questionable accolade of being the most successful ever Razzie contender, with 30 nominations and nine wins. "He plays five different characters in Spy Kids 3-D," said Wilson, "and none of them well."
WHO COMES ACROSS AS A LOON? Everyone and their mother, as the saying goes, has been talking about Dean and how his howl/screech/yeargh came across as either "angry" (no, not at all) or "crazy" (granted, a little bit, though he was obviously playing to his young 'un followers and wanting to keep them pumped); what's indisputable is that it assuredly was not "presidential" and was tactically immensely unwise.
Remarks by the President to the Press Pool Nothin' Fancy Cafe Roswell, New Mexico
11:25 A.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT: I need some ribs.
Q Mr. President, how are you?
THE PRESIDENT: I'm hungry and I'm going to order some ribs.
Q What would you like?
THE PRESIDENT: Whatever you think I'd like.
Q Sir, on homeland security, critics would say you simply haven't spent enough to keep the country secure.
THE PRESIDENT: My job is to secure the homeland and that's exactly what we're going to do. But I'm here to take somebody's order. That would be you, Stretch -- what would you like? Put some of your high-priced money right here to try to help the local economy. You get paid a lot of money, you ought to be buying some food here. It's part of how the economy grows. You've got plenty of money in your pocket, and when you spend it, it drives the economy forward. So what would you like to eat?
Q Right behind you, whatever you order.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm ordering ribs. David, do you need a rib?
Q But Mr. President --
THE PRESIDENT: Stretch, thank you, this is not a press conference. This is my chance to help this lady put some money in her pocket. Let me explain how the economy works. When you spend money to buy food it helps this lady's business. It makes it more likely somebody is going to find work. So instead of asking questions, answer mine: are you going to buy some food?
THE PRESIDENT: Okay, good. What would you like?
THE PRESIDENT: Ribs? Good. Let's order up some ribs.
Q What do you think of the democratic field, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: See, his job is to ask questions, he thinks my job is to answer every question he asks. I'm here to help this restaurant by buying some food. Terry, would you like something?
Q An answer.
Q Can we buy some questions?
THE PRESIDENT: Obviously these people -- they make a lot of money and they're not going to spend much. I'm not saying they're overpaid, they're just not spending any money.
Q Do you think it's all going to come down to national security, sir, this election?
THE PRESIDENT: One of the things David does, he asks a lot of questions, and they're good, generally.
END 11:29 A.M. MST
Contrary to popular impression, that is not "Mystery Science Theater."
No, I'm not saying, in the least, anyone should take this seriously. I'm saying that it's pretty damn funny. And I avoided the obvious location jokes!
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5; that the entire entry.
ADDENDUM: It belatedly occurs to me that I was unconsciously "hearing" an echo of the SNL/John Belushi "cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger" sketch in the back of my head when I read the dialogue. It reads like a comedy sketch with the same rhythm. To my ear, anyway.
BEING CLEAR. Michael J. Totten points out this 2002 reprint of a John Edwards Washington Post Op-Ed piece on Iraq policy. I like it. It suggests Edwards, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, might have some foreign policy ideas. Real anti-war folks, on the other hand, won't be pleased.
THE WORD OF HAMAS. Truly, a great beginning for peace. Not.
Hamas spokesman, Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantisi, said on Sunday that his organization is willing to declare a limited truce with Israel and will accept a “temporary” Palestinian state in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 six day war. “We propose a 10 year ceasefire in return for (Israeli) withdrawal and the establishment of a state” Rantisi said in a telephone interview with the Reuters news agency from his hideout in the Gaza strip.” It is difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we are willing to accept a phased liberation. We accept a state in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”, said Rantisi.
Rantisi emphasized that Hamas would not recognize Israel or view the truce as an end to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
According to Rantisi, debates over agreeing to a Palestinian state with pre ’67 borders are not new. “Now the movement has accepted the notion”, said Rantisi who doubts the Israelis would accept the proposal. “They rejected the Palestinian Authorities’ proposal that demanded less land than what we are offering”, he said.
If one really stretches one's mind, it's possible to interpret this as actually edging towards a long-term eventual acceptance of Israel, but I'm rather more inclined to take them at their word.
A poll of nine European nations that was released Monday found that 46 percent of respondents said Jews in their nations were "different," and 35 percent said Jews should stop "playing the victim" for the Holocaust.
Some 9 percent of the respondents said they "don't like or trust Jews," and 15 percent said "it would be better if Israel didn't exist."
The poll by the Ipso research institute for Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera was conducted in Italy, France, Belgium, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Britain.
Asked if Jews in their countries had a "mentality and lifestyle" different than other citizens, 46 percent said yes. About 40.5 percent said Jews in their country had "a particular relationship with money" and 35.7 percent said Jews "should stop playing the victim for the Holocaust and the persecutions of 50 years ago."
The poll also differentiated between the countries surveyed, finding that German, Austrian, Spanish and Italian hostility toward Jews was higher than that in the rest of the countries. In all the countries, anti-Semitic sentiment was positively correlated with anti-Israel sentiment.
One thing I understood decades ago is that many, though not all, Jews are steeped in the long-term history of anti-semitism, and the awareness of how much death and suffering it has led to in the past two thousand years, with only a few patches of exceptions here and there. That many Jews currently live more or less safely and more or less well-off is therefore viewed as a trivial blip in time and space that is, viewed historically, perfectly apt to disappear in a blink of an eye.
Many, though certainly not all, non-Jews are relatively ignorant of this long, blood-soaked, history, and certainly don't feel it in their bones (what were the last ten book-length studies of the subject you've read?).
That's why we obsessively study these polls and discuss them, and obsessively look for signs of flare-ups and talk about them. It took only a handful of years for Germany to turn from the eminently civilized place in Europe where Jews were most accepted, integrated, making the largest contribution, and safe, to you know what.
Give us a couple of hundred years, at least, of living in general safety in most of the world, and maybe we'll start to relax a bit. Not likely sooner.
I'm completely serious.
One of the defining points of Jewish culture is its long-term memory.
Therefore I wish I could get across to all those 35% above the difference between, however rationally or reasonably, "living in fear" and "playing the victim."
George W. Bush says he wants to go to Mars—a motion that many of his fellow-citizens would heartily second—but he probably doesn’t mean it. The speech in which he announced his “New Vision for Space Exploration” was exceedingly vague about how and when the trip was to be made. It did say that in 2015 or maybe in 2020 Americans would be going back to the moon, where they would build a base for "human missions to Mars and to worlds beyond." An official likened this speech to President Kennedy’s address of May 25, 1961, in which he asked the nation to “commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
A week later came Bush’s State of the Union address, the text of which one scans in vain for any mention of Mars, the moon, or space exploration. The subject has already been dropped. (By contrast, Kennedy’s 1962 State of the Union reiterated and discussed the lunar excursion he had proposed eight months before.) Nor is a short attention span the only sign of Bush’s lack of seriousness about his interplanetary venture. There is also its Wal-Mart price tag. The President is asking Congress for an extra two hundred million dollars per year, about what it costs to make a movie like “Waterworld.” Another couple of billion is to be cannibalized out of the existing space budget. This kind of money will get no one to Mars, but that isn’t to say that Bush’s project will yield no results. It has already led to the cancellation of maintenance on the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s most scientifically valuable project, which means that the Hubble will go blind in three or four years’ time. Bush’s "New Vision" is a sharp stick in the eye.
Polls published between the two Bush speeches revealed a distinct lack of public enthusiasm for the President’s space proposal, and it will be surprising if he mentions it again anytime soon.
THE GENE AND NEIL SHOW. Neil Gaiman interviews Gene Wolfe:
Gene Wolfe: I'm anxious to get our interview under way, so I've decided to answer your first three questions before you ask them—You can work out the questions at leisure.
1. Although I considered placing The Knight in the universe of the Book of the New Sun series, I soon saw that there were too many dragons.
2. The Knight is to some degree autobiographical, as all my books are. For example, Able falls off a horse. I have done that myself. One is encouraged to remount as soon as possible, but not by the horse.
3. I do in fact own a sword. It is possible, as you say, that it is under some subtle, obscure spell. That might account for a few of the things that go on around here.
Are these satisfactory? I can elaborate on my replies if you wish, but they are certain to get worse.
We were having dinner in the elegant restaurant of a Davos hotel: some reporters, some academics, and Kamal Kharrazi, the foreign minister of Iran, accompanied by his entourage.
Kharrazi is a striking man, severe and dignified. His English is fluent – he has a PhD in education from the University of Houston – and he speaks slowly, heightening the effect of each word. He never says anything unreasonable-sounding, and every so often he drops an endearingly self-deprecating remark. Iran, he says, "has not been understood outside." He is here to help us to understand.
The time has come for questions from the floor. I have mine: If Israel withdraws to the June 4, 1967, lines, would Iran recognize Israel? I'm guessing he'll answer yes.
Of course, he does not. Land that's occupied must be returned to its rightful owners, he says. And he means all the land, reciting the history of Iran's dissent in 1947 from the UN's partition plan. That Israel had diplomatic representation in Iran during the period of the shah is glossed over: Evidently, he does take us for fools.
"The final solution to the dispute," Kharrazi concludes, "is a one-state solution." As is his habit, the words are carefully chosen.
ROUND SHINY OBJECTS. I didn't watch last night's Golden Globes show. Although I don't take any awards or their shows seriously, I do sometimes enjoy the spectacle on tv of watching people act in strange and bizarre ways; it's the one type of "reality" tv I do sometimes watch. But didn't feel like it last night. So, for those like me, one person's selected Best Quotes:
A. "I would like to thank ['Lost in Translation' film executives], except there's so many people trying to take credit for this I wouldn't know where to begin." -- Bill Murray, on his win for best comedy film actor for "Lost in Translation."
B. "I'm from a little place called England -- we used to run the world before you did." -- Ricky Gervais, accepting the best comedy TV series award for "The Office."
C. "I shall not be beaten up this time . . . " -- best comedy actress winner Sarah Jessica Parker after mentioning her spouse (she was clearly scarred from the time the tabloids went wild with innuendo when she failed to make reference to spouse Matthew Broderick in a previous acceptance speech).
D. "I share this with you. But I'll keep it at my house." -- best supporting television actor Jeffrey Wright to his "Angels in America" co-nominees Ben Shenkman and Patrick Wilson.
E. "Two Australians surrounded by English seamen." -- Robin Williams description of nominated drama "Master and Commander."
Nice that Return Of The King won everything it was nominated for, including Best Picture. Even if it does come from the infamous "Hollywood Foreign Press," who are not in Hollywood, mostly not foreign, and not press. (It amazes me how this bunch of irrelevant pipsqueak freeloading boozehounds have worked their way into producing the second most "prestigious" awards in the business, pretty much entirely by historical accident and the ardent desire of the industry to have Yet Another Award to help boost sales and publicity.)
THOSE BOEING WELFARE QUEENS: more on how You, Too, can get prime welfare support from the White House if you are a huge corporation.
Mitch Daniels, then President Bush's budget director and now the Republican candidate for Indiana governor, thought the tanker deal violated government accounting rules.
"The central problem was that the tankers were not on [the] Defense Department's wish list until somebody [at Boeing] came up with this idea," an administration source said.
Faced with Daniels' objections, Boeing did what only a handful of American businesses can do: It went over Daniels' head and straight to Bush. Through a series of meetings among the president and his staff and key members of Congress--including House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)--Boeing applied enough pressure at the top to push its contract through in May.
Under the lease plan, the number of planes involved grew to 100, and the cost also grew. While leases would be cheaper for the government at first, they would be costlier in the long run.
"Throughout the uniformed AF [Air Force], the realization exists that leasing is considerably more costly to the AF and the taxpayer," said a Sept. 30, 2001, e-mail from Boeing executive John Sams Jr.
It was Daniels who issued the White House response.
"We have grave reservations about leasing these aircraft," Daniels wrote to Dicks on Dec. 12, 2001. "Our analysis shows that over the long term a lease-purchase program would be much more expensive than direct purchase of the same aircraft."
Boeing and the Air Force redirected their main lobbying effort at Congress, but Daniels continued his protests. In an April 2002 letter to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)--then one of the few vocal opponents of the lease--Daniels outlined a series of objections. In his view the lease, which he said had grown to nearly $150 million per plane, ran afoul of the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990.
That law, he wrote, requires agencies to "fund the full cost of purchase, lease purchases and capital leases up front in the first year of the transaction."
A push to Bush in '02
By early autumn 2002, only Daniels stood in the way of the lease plan being accepted by the White House. That's when Boeing turned to Bush for help.
As 2003 began, Daniels and his staff at the White House Office of Management and Budget continued to object, but the momentum had shifted. Once Bush had agreed with the need for the tankers, the question wasn't whether to lease more tankers, but at what price.
End result to date: resignation of Boeing chairman, firings of officials involved, corruption investigations, and The Deal Goes Through. Pork Uber Alles.
Read The Rest for more details as this story, which I've continued to blog, goes on.
LESS CAMPAIGN ROAD SEX: The true priorities of campaign reporting, in a nostalgic Travel Section report on the historic Wayfarer Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, and how campaign reporting has changed.
"We are all so much more boring now," explained Tucker Carlson, the co-host of "Crossfire" on CNN, who recalled being challenged to a late-night bar fight at the Wayfarer in the 1990's. "At least I know I am. Everybody has been turned into a wire service reporter. Hardly anybody drinks anymore. Put it this way, it's hard to be drunk if you are always filing to the Web or appearing on TV."
"In the good old days," Ms. Warren said, "reporters used to swap tips about the best bars and restaurants. Now, it is all about which hotels have gone wireless or have the best hours in their business center."
WHAT technology has brought us is more reporters and more competition," said Chuck Todd, editor in chief of The Hotline, a political newsletter. "And more competition means less time for alcohol. God only knows what this has done to campaign road sex. You used to be able to keep an eye on your competition just by sitting at the bar. There were enough bar stools at the Wayfarer to go around for all the top reporters. That's not the case anymore."
"Everybody used to hang out, waiting to see who would show up," said Nance Carrier, who has been a bartender at the Wayfarer for 23 years. Over the years, Ms. Carrier observed, "The Boys on the Bus" have become a bit tamer. "For the most part, I would say that they are now more sippers," she said. "They just sit there and sip their drink slowly, and you almost want to tell them that it is a five dollar cover charge just to sit at the bar."
For his part, Mr. Germond, who retired in 2000 from The Baltimore Sun after publishing "Fat Man in a Middle Seat: Forty Years of Covering Politics" in 1999, laughed heartily when remembering his Wayfarer days, and the gift of the barstool. "You couldn't have the rooms that they called Waterside, because the ducks in the pond would wake you up at 6 in the morning. You wanted to be housed in the Upper Falls building."
Mr. Brokaw acknowledged that some of the fun is now missing from campaign coverage, recalling again that birthday party in 2000. "I remember Jack came up to me at that party we had at the Wayfarer for him," Mr. Brokaw said. "We had a whole corner reserved. We were watching the Super Bowl on the one hand, talking politics on the other and celebrating Jack. Jack threw his arm around me and said, `Brokaw, these kids today are going to the gym and drinking Perrier water at the end of the day. I've got to get out of this business.' "
Where's Hunter S. Thompson when you need him? (This is a rhetorical question; he's actually not all that far from me, as the coconut-bearing swallow flies.)
Read The Rest if you're into nostalgia about campaign reporting.
FORK YOU. I am not a Dean partisan; as I've said, I'm Undecided. But:
Mr. Clyburn's support might be especially helpful to Dr. Dean. When the first Dean office opened in South Carolina , almost no blacks attended the ceremony. Nearly all those holding up "African-Americans for Dean" signs were white, though Representative Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois, who was born in Greenville, endorsed Dr. Dean at a news conference shortly before.
"He's not going to get Southern votes anyway," Mr. Harpootlian asserted. "He's not one of us. He's toast. Stick a fork in him. He's done."
When was the last time you read of a Northerner saying they wouldn't vote for a Southern candidate because the candidate "wasn't one of us"?
Yet we hear the reverse as a drumbeat.
Read The Rest only if you want to see Johnny Apple note that, gee, South Carolina is an important race, and Kerry is not well pre-positioned for it. You really have to be on-location, and have major reporting skills, for that insight.
OWWIE. Over the course of the past day I've developed one of the gout attacks I'm begun having every so often in the last few years (I think this is about the sixth attack in four years). It's hit the point of Agonizing Constant Pain, Unable To Bear Any Weight On Right Foot.
Naturally, this happened when I was planning to make a grocery run today and am low on food, as well as same re laundry, plus need to get out to do all sorts of things I now won't be able to do. Best of all was I just took my last two aspirin. "Get aspirin" was on the list.
I don't know if blogging will be light or heavy, as, on the one hand, I'm not going to be getting out of this chair very much, and on the other, I can barely rub two brain cells together, or string three coherent words together.
We'll see, but there's apt to be more links than my own writing today, I suspect.
With luck, this will pass in a day, though sometimes it can last up to four days or so, based upon experience up to now.
Damned inconvenient. Hope your week has gotten off to a better start.
ACTUALLY MAKING THINGS WORSE THAN UNDER HUSSEIN, of course, would be switching from contemporary Iraqi law for women to Sharia law.
This is, of course, quite appalling, and does not contribute to the argument that we're doing such a great job of improving the lives of Iraqis. Our intentions and our consequences are not the same thing.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. (Again, use "laexaminer" as ID and password.)
KENNEDALE, Texas — It's 2:30 on a Thursday afternoon, and inside a windowless adult video store a dozen people are perusing XXX-rated movie titles. Pastor Jim Norwood surmises this because he has photographed the customers' cars in the parking lot, carefully adjusting his digital camera so that each license plate is in focus.
Each car owner will soon get a postcard in the mail from Norwood's Oakcrest Family Church. On the front will be a color photo of their vehicle in the video store parking lot. On the back will be a note: "Observed you in the neighborhood. Didn't know if you were aware there is a church in the area … please stop by next time. We'd love to have you visit."
Norwood, 56, who says he is a reformed drug abuser on a mission to rid the town of sexually oriented businesses, calls the postcards an "invitation to church."
I don't think this sort of thing brings good karma. I'm probably wrong, though.
SOMETHING NEEDS TO BE DONEabout this, but I'm not entirely sure what. I don't know how far things can be pushed in Pakistan without pushing the government wholly into the hands of those who want to kill us.
But it's a good piece, an important piece, and I commend it to you, 5 out of 5. (Use "laexaminer" as password and ID.)
HE WAS DISTURBED BECAUSE HE WAS DEPRIVED. This goes a considerable ways to helping explain the WMD fiasco.
He said Baghdad was actively working to produce a biological weapon using the poison ricin until the American invasion last March. But in general, Dr. Kay said, the C.I.A. and other agencies failed to recognize that Iraq had all but abandoned its efforts to produce large quantities of chemical or biological weapons after the first Persian Gulf war, in 1991.
From interviews with Iraqi scientists and other sources, he said, his team learned that sometime around 1997 and 1998, Iraq plunged into what he called a "vortex of corruption," when government activities began to spin out of control because an increasingly isolated and fantasy-riven Saddam Hussein had insisted on personally authorizing major projects without input from others.
After the onset of this "dark ages," Dr. Kay said, Iraqi scientists realized they could go directly to Mr. Hussein and present fanciful plans for weapons programs, and receive approval and large amounts of money. Whatever was left of an effective weapons capability, he said, was largely subsumed into corrupt money-raising schemes by scientists skilled in the arts of lying and surviving in a fevered police state.
"The whole thing shifted from directed programs to a corrupted process," Dr. Kay said. "The regime was no longer in control; it was like a death spiral. Saddam was self-directing projects that were not vetted by anyone else. The scientists were able to fake programs."
In interviews after he was captured, Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister, told Dr. Kay that Mr. Hussein had become increasingly divorced from reality during the last two years of his rule. Mr. Hussein would send Mr. Aziz manuscripts of novels he was writing, even as the American-led coalition was gearing up for war, Dr. Kay said.
The former Iraqi officers reported that no Special Republican Guard units had chemical or biological weapons, he said. But all of the officers believed that some other Special Republican Guard unit had chemical weapons.
"They all said they didn't have it, but they thought other units had it," Dr. Kay said. He said it appeared they were the victims of a disinformation campaign orchestrated by Mr. Hussein.
So there were reasons for both Saddam and us and everyone else to think there were some significant WMDs, and programs, and in fact there were minor things going on, but the big stuff we bought into came as a result of our having bought into Saddam's increasingly delusional state (in two senses of the word). I can buy that.
THE BBC CHEERFULLY EXPLAINS TO THEIR READERS/VIEWERS the origins of the blood libel, something they presumably are sufficiently unaware of as to need the explanation.
As this is probably true in all too many cases, this is something to applaud. That the blood libel is an English creation is mentioned matter-of-factly, but of course not emphasized.
The piece will apparently be on BBC Radio 4 on Monday.
No mention is made of, say, the blood libel showing up this year in a major newspaper cartoon which was subsequently given the top journalistic award of the year. This is not something to applaud.
Read if you don't know the subject.
They do include a link to their story on the comparative ickiness of Jews as Prime Ministers or otherwise, with a couple of details not included in the story I previously blogged.
Those most likely to underplay the Holocaust were under the age of 24 or over the age of 65.
Only 53% of those questioned would be as happy with a Jewish prime minister as one of any other faith, with 18% saying they would find it less acceptable.
Happy Holocaust Memorial Day on Tuesday, one in seven Britons who believe Jewish suffering in the Holocaust had been exaggerated! Have a jolly holiday! (Please don't any of my non-anti-Semitic British readers take this as an insult; the figures are what they are, and most Britons, by this measure, are not anti-Semitic, and I doubt anyone who reads me is.)
1/25/2004 08:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
GRUMBLE. I don't want to name names, but there are several prominent, fine, bloggers very fond of not just having a lot of text -- about which I have no complaint -- but with posting several megabytes of photos at any given time. I have no objection whatever to some discreet use of pictures -- it can dress a site up a bit. But getting into multi-megabyte amounts means that for those of us stuck on 56k, or worse, 33k, dial-up accounts, that means a site can take five, ten, maybe even fifteen minutes for a site to load. That's asking a lot for a quick pass, particularly when there's not exactly a shortage of other blogs and sites to go through.
To top it off, those sites typically are written so that the comments won't work unless the site is 100% fully loaded. So if the reader wants to short-circuit the process for a quick reading of text, the reader is prevented from commenting.
Hey, it's up to you what your priorities are for you site, but it would simple enough to set up a second page and dump the large pictures there, keeping small thumbnails or links for the main page. Otherwise, well, it's not exactly a warm, friendly, interactive, I value your viewage and comments, way of blogging. Could you maybe think about this, please?
FRENCH FRIED. A review of French historian and economist Nicolas Baverez's La France qui tombe (France Is Falling Over), a critique proclaiming the decline of the French economy and polity.
This book has apparently caused quite a large stir in France, and no small amount of both umbrage and agreement.
I've not read the book, but this comes across as a good summary; here's the conclusion:
But today, Baverez challenges French thinkers to look within and realize that their nuclear deterrent, the overvalued euro, and the reform stalemate in the public sector are undermining the nation’s standing in a rapidly changing global environment. Trapped in its statist model, Baverez contends, France is stagnating by refusing to open its eyes.
Naturally, France bashers will find this a must-read, but anyone interested in the situation in Europe should be aware of this debate.
CONNECTIVITY HAS AS MANY EDGES AS CONNECTIONS. This piece is a bit obvious, but it's a valuable point that the power of the net, and of blogs, what it also calls "micro-punditry," which everyone understands has been a key, if not the key, tactical element in Howard Dean's success up to now, is not controlled by any person, any blogger, or any campaign.
Punditry wants to be free, to coin a phrase, and people will take developments, and info, and sounds and images, and use them to their own ends and points of view, and then the memes will live or die, influence or disappear, depending simply upon how popular they become, how much people like them.
An interesting example of the Dean campaign at least temporarily missing their own point:
DeanGoesNuts.com was actually started by a creative Dean supporter, Caner Ozdemir, a 21-year-old college student in Muncie, Ind.
"I thought the more people saw it and heard it, the less shock it has," said Mr. Ozdemir, who posted requests for remixes on the Dean campaign blog, identifying himself as a Dean supporter.
The campaign staff, however, didn't see eye to eye with him. The Web site administrators deleted his requests and suspended his account.
"They didn't feel like that at the time,'' he said, "and they just wanted to shut me up."
STABILITY AT THE EXPENSE OF LIBERTY. Remember that great speech Bush gave at Banqueting House in November? New ways of doing business, and all that? Nice words, but:
ILHAM ALIYEV was inaugurated as president of the oil-rich Muslim country of Azerbaijan three months ago after an election condemned by international observers as blatantly fraudulent. When members of the opposition tried to protest, they were brutally beaten by police. There followed a massive, nationwide crackdown in which more than 1,000 people were arrested, including opposition leaders, activists from nongovernmental organizations, journalists and election officials who objected to the fraud. More than 100 remain in prison, including most of the senior opposition activists. A new report by Human Rights Watch documents numerous cases of torture, including severe beatings, electric shock, and threats of rape against the opposition leaders. Mr. Aliyev, who succeeded his strongman father, meanwhile has been consolidating dictatorial powers: Most recently he was named director of Azerbaijani radio and television.
Azerbaijan, in short, might look like a good place for President Bush to start implementing his frequently declared policy of "spreading freedom" to the world -- and in particular the greater Middle East. Instead he is doing the opposite. The president and his top aides have embraced Mr. Aliyev, excused his fraud and ignored his human rights violations -- not to mention reliable reports of his personal corruption. The administration waived congressional restrictions to grant Azerbaijan $3 million in military aid and is winding up to give still more. The Pentagon is talking with Azeri officials about the possible use of bases for U.S. operations. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Baku last month to confer with Mr. Aliyev. When asked about the electoral fraud, he replied: "The United States has a relationship with this country. We value it." Said Mr. Aliyev proudly: "The United States is a strategic partner."
The third pillar of security is our commitment to the global expansion of democracy, and the hope and progress it brings, as the alternative to instability and to hatred and terror. We cannot rely exclusively on military power to assure our long-term security. Lasting peace is gained as justice and democracy advance.
In democratic and successful societies, men and women do not swear allegiance to malcontents and murderers; they turn their hearts and labor to building better lives. And democratic governments do not shelter terrorist camps or attack their peaceful neighbors; they honor the aspirations and dignity of their own people. In our conflict with terror and tyranny, we have an unmatched advantage, a power that cannot be resisted, and that is the appeal of freedom to all mankind.
Perhaps the most helpful change we can make is to change in our own thinking. In the West, there's been a certain skepticism about the capacity or even the desire of Middle Eastern peoples for self-government. We're told that Islam is somehow inconsistent with a democratic culture. Yet more than half of the world's Muslims are today contributing citizens in democratic societies. It is suggested that the poor, in their daily struggles, care little for self-government. Yet the poor, especially, need the power of democracy to defend themselves against corrupt elites.
Peoples of the Middle East share a high civilization, a religion of personal responsibility, and a need for freedom as deep as our own. It is not realism to suppose that one-fifth of humanity is unsuited to liberty; it is pessimism and condescension, and we should have none of it. (Applause.)
We must shake off decades of failed policy in the Middle East. Your nation and mine, in the past, have been willing to make a bargain, to tolerate oppression for the sake of stability. Longstanding ties often led us to overlook the faults of local elites. Yet this bargain did not bring stability or make us safe. It merely bought time, while problems festered and ideologies of violence took hold.
As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own backyard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims, and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found. (Applause.)
Except when it's inconvenient. Back to the WashPo:
Only 42 years old, Mr. Aliyev is renowned in Baku as a playboy with a bad gambling habit. During his tenure at the state oil company, Azerbaijan was rated the sixth most corrupt nation in the world by Transparency International. An indictment unsealed in the Southern District of New York charges that millions of dollars in bribes were channeled to top Azeri officials in 1997 as part of a scheme to privatize the oil company, of which Mr. Aliyev was then vice president. Since his "election," Mr. Aliyev has reappointed his father's key ministers and promised to pursue the same policies -- including, apparently, ruthless suppression of the peaceful and pro-democracy opposition.
It's clearly expedient for Mr. Bush to back Mr. Aliyev, just as for decades U.S. governments found their interest in propping up dictators in the Persian Gulf. But Mr. Bush himself has said -- in one of his several major speeches about democracy -- that such policies were mistaken. "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe," the president said two months ago. "In the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty." It may take the United States decades to overcome the legacy of embracing corrupt dictators in the Arab world. The least Mr. Bush can do is avoid repeating the mistake in the new oil states of the Caucuses and Central Asia -- beginning in Azerbaijan.
But it truly was a lovely speech.
Here is the Human Rights Watch press release with other links and here is Friday's report. (Not a canny idea to release it on a Friday, guys, the day to bury news releases.)
Last September, top officials of the Navy prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, told a military judge in Florida that the prison's Muslim chaplain, Army Capt. James Yee, would soon be charged with mutiny, sedition, espionage, spying and aiding the enemy -- crimes that could lead to his execution.
Based on those allegations, Yee was held in solitary confinement in a Navy brig in South Carolina for 76 days. But authorities never charged him with any of those offenses. Instead, Yee will face much less serious charges, such as mishandling classified materials and adultery, when the case against him resumes at a hearing at Fort Benning, Ga., scheduled for Feb. 4.
At the same time Yee was being detained, Air Force Senior Airman Ahmad I. Halabi, who worked as an Arabic translator at Guantanamo Bay, was also in solitary confinement 3,000 miles away, held in California on charges of espionage and aiding the enemy. In time, the most serious of those allegations have been withdrawn as well.
Some experts on military law and the men's lawyers say the prosecutions of Yee and Halabi have been riddled with inconsistencies and oddities that cast doubt on the government's original fears that a spy ring was operating in the high-security prison for alleged al Qaeda and Taliban fighters.
"I find it difficult to believe professional prosecutors are proceeding with these two cases in this manner," said Gary D. Solis, a former Marine Corps prosecutor who teaches the law of war at Georgetown University. "The ineptitude at each step of the proceeding is amazing. . . . It seems there's been investigative overreaction in both cases."
In an unusual episode last month, military investigators raided offices used by Halabi's military lawyers at an Air Force base in California, temporarily seizing one computer and copying its hard drive in a search for evidence against the airman.
Rehkopf protested the search in a letter to Air Force officials, calling it "bizarre" and "a conscious disregard of the attorney-client relationship."
"We are imploring the senior leadership of the Air Force to get this case under control," the letter said.
Raiding a military lawyer's office on an Air Force base? WTF?
Unfortunately, no one outside the investigation seems to really yet have a clue as to what the story is or has been. It's all wrapped in Top Secret.
And thus we see some hints of some of the dangers of tribunals and secret courts and secret warrants and secret secrets.
I WASN'T GOING TO POST MY PUTATIVE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES any time soon, for reasons obvious in a moment, but Roger Simon is calling for all bloggers to go on record, and since I did just yesterday post a casual response here, I'll repost it:
Colorado decided a while ago that democracy was an unnecessary expense, and canceled the planned primary. So I don't got a real vote there.
But I'm still for Undecided at present. In alpha order, either Clark, Dean, Edwards, or Kerry. Lieberman won't be a real choice, or I might include him, but he unnerved me with all his cluckings on the evils of Bad Words In Bad Music, Tv, and Movies some years ago, and while this may seem a tad less important than wars on terror and such, it really really really bothers me. It's not that I worry he'd seriously intitute censorship, but it is, indeed, a values issue, and says to me that he has a serious misunderstanding of how people work, and should work.
I'm still unenthused about any of the candidates, though the only choice I can imagine to not voting for one of the above Democrats -- if I had a vote -- would be to sit on my hands. But while I'm unenthused, neither Clark, Dean, Edwards, or Kerry, has yet done anything to cause me to definitively run screaming from the room, either. (The strong possibility certainly exists.)
There, didn't you all find that enlightening and helpful?
MY ENORMOUS SPLIFF. To test out Britons' knowledge that this week marijuana has been downgraded to the lowest level of illegal non-prescribed drug, a Grauniad reporter wanders around locations famous and otherwise in London with a huge fake joint, and reports the sometimes hilarious reactions.
'Oh look, someone's been a naughty girl,' one guard cheerfully says, emerging from my cubicle with the paraphernalia cupped in her hand.
'Wish my Friday could start as early,' her colleague replies. 'Is there any left over?' They prod at the remains, then wander off sadly, discussing handbags.
At Tate Modern, I buy a coffee and ask if I can smoke. A waiter points to the balcony. 'You can go out there,' he says.
I produce my mammoth spliff. There is a gasp from the schoolboys in the queue behind me. Can I smoke this? I ask. He barely hesitates: 'Of course,' he says with a sweet, complicit smile. 'It's a nice view out there to relax with.'
The woman at the central reception of St Thomas' Hospital in Lambeth directs me outside to smoke. I produce the joint and she registers it calmly, with the air of someone regularly asked much worse.
I try for a second opinion and target a doctor and nurse. Perhaps less hardened to the unpredictable demands of the public, the nurse doubles up in hilarity when I produce the joint.
'I don't see a problem: the law has changed, hasn't it?' says the doctor. 'You should probably be discreet though; choose somewhere quiet.' As I move away, the nurse turns to the doctor: 'It was polite of her to ask though, wasn't it?'
Staff at the neighbouring Guy's Hospital are less welcoming. 'What are you doing?' shrieks the woman at reception. Convinced such behaviour must be proof of foreign blood, she mimes handcuffs and speaks slowly. 'You'll be arrested. Put. It. Away.'
OTTAWA (Reuters) - A song lauding the joys of an "enormous penis" is not obscene because the object of the lyric's affection isn't necessarily sexual, a Canadian regulator ruled on Friday.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council was reacting to a complaint from a Calgary radio listener to a joke song that declared: "I've got the cure for all of my blues/I take a look at my enormous penis/And my troubles start a-meltin' away."
The listener's complaint that the song was obscene fell flat before the council's members, who said the item did not break its code of ethics.
"The discussion of penis size is not in and of itself sufficiently unequivocally a sexual matter that it can be said to be in breach of the code," the council said.
Calgary's CJAY-FM replied to the complaint by saying most of its core audience -- men from 18 to 49 -- enjoyed such items as "Enormous Penis" by Da Vinci's Notebook, which also features the line: "I gotta sing and I dance/When I glance in my pants."
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.
Here is the group's website, where you can download a minute of mp3 of the song.
Nothing else picks up your spirits when you're down like a toe-tapping, finger-snappin' melody about your own self-assurance, so sing out!
However, after the Police Department's bomb squad, fire marshals and eventually the department's elite counterterrorism unit arrived to investigate, a band of somewhat sheepish — but admittedly relieved — law enforcement officials had a vastly different story to tell.
The owner of the loft, Christopher Hackett, 31, was not a terrorist but a performance artist, they said. His gun powder and assault rifles, while illegal, were not weapons meant for some dark purpose. They were ingredients for eccentric public happenings and pyrotechnic works of art.
Although some might say that Mr. Hackett's only crime was to extend the label of art to a jury-rigged ice-cream truck that spewed flames from its cargo bay, he was, in fact, arrested yesterday and charged with several weapons violations. Mr. Hackett was in stable condition at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn with burns related to the explosion.Officers from the 76th Precinct in Boerum Hill received a report about the explosion around 11:30 a.m. yesterday, said Deputy Chief John Colgan, who leads the department's counterterrorism unit. When they arrived at the loft at 217 Butler Street, they found a burned and bleeding Mr. Hackett with some sort of propane or acetylene torch, Chief Colgan said.
In a typically deadpan police manner, the chief then described what Mr. Hackett had been doing with the torch. "A preliminary investigation showed that he was trying to construct a confetti gun," Chief Colgan said.
The confetti gun, made from a two-foot-long metal tube, was to be used a short while later as the starter pistol in a wacky shopping cart race from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Friends and neighbors called the piece typical of Mr. Hackett, who liked to fashion real guns into fanciful, harmless weapons that shot things like soap bubbles.
Mr. Hackett is the chief creative force behind a loosely federated group of sculptors and performance artists known as the Madagascar Institute. The group is known for putting on weird events like a restaging of Pamplona's running of the bulls in which a crowd of men and women in bull costumes rode through the city streets on bicycles, some wearing tutus and carrying giant packages of Oscar Mayer Bull-loney.
"They're not terrorists," Andrew Robinson, a painter and neighbor, said.
Though it eventually became apparent that Mr. Hackett was no threat to national security, nearly a dozen emergency vehicles were outside his loft all afternoon, and the block was cordoned off.
It seemed a clashing of two distinct and very separate worlds as agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force descended on the cluttered, funky workshop on the fringes of hipster Brooklyn where Mr. Hackett dreamed up his shenanigans.
Spelling "bologna" that way is definitely criminal, and possibly terroristically intended.
BAD ANALOGIES DEPT. On plans for developing NYC transit:
"This is like a moon shot," said Peter Kalikow, chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, about the sudden confluence of blueprints. "The planets are lined up right. We can't let this opportunity drop."
How many planets have to line up for a moon shot, anyway? And which ones, exactly? This could be very important again in the mid-term future.
Read The Rest: only if you're fascinated by the NYC transit system.
YEAH, I STILL COULD USE DONATIONS FOR FOOD AND RENT, being unemployed, but, still:
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THE CORD THAT BINDS. This could be awfully convenient, if it pans out. To put it mildly.
It may well be the smallest scaffolding in the world, and the easiest to set up. Researchers have devised a tiny self-assembling structure that they hope will help repair damaged spinal cords.
Every year in the United States alone, about 15,000 people damage their spines. Few recover fully as it is difficult for damaged nerves to grow across the gap in a severed spinal cord.
Researchers have tried to build bridges across these gaps, so that nerves can grow. Most of these are made out of a solid material such as collagen, but require invasive surgery that can cause extra trauma to the injury.
Samuel Stupp and colleagues from Northwestern University, Chicago have now found a way to build a bridge out of liquid instead1.
When the solution is injected into a damaged rodent spinal cord, it turns into a gel-like solid, says Stupp. The scaffold is designed to disintegrate after four to six weeks, hopefully leaving healthy spinal cord behind.
The liquid is made up of negatively charged molecules. Normally, they repel one another and keep the substance in liquid form. But when the fluid encounters positively charged molecules - such as the calcium or sodium ions found in living tissue - they clump together. "The effect happens almost instantly," says Stupp.
The molecules are designed to aggregate in a particular way, forming a mass of tiny, hollow tubes. Each tube is about 5 nanometres wide - 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair - and several hundreds of nanometres long. The structure is porous, allowing nerve cells to grow through and around it.
Yep, more nanotubes. Y'know, there are endless known unknowns, and unknown unknowns, about what will be possible with nanotechnology, but the possibilities only range from the amazing to the effing unbelievable.
I tried to explain to a wannabe sf writer a few years ago, whose desire was to write a realistic hard science novel set a half-century to a century hence, that completely ignoring any of the potential of nanotech would be like writing a hard science novel in the 1910's, setting it in the 1950's, and having air flight not be possible. "But I don't want to have to learn about science!" Yeah, then stick to being a wannabe fantasy writer....