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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 --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER. Which one?
McCain, Giuliani and Schwarzenegger are speaking because they are brave.
I don't know if you have noticed, but this whole campaign has revolved around courage.
John McCain? He spent five and a half years as a POW under brutal conditions, refusing an offer of early release. Without doubt he displayed heroic courage.
Rudy Giuliani? Though not on remotely the same scale as Senator McCain, he showed leadership and courage on September 11th, 2001.
David Brooks says:
Schwarzenegger has an unshakable belief in economic freedom.
Um, okay. Clearly up there with leading a city attacked, while thousands die, and you barely escape with your own life. Clearly up there with years of torture, imprisonment, deprivation, and suffering.
Arnold, after all, courageously fights the California smoking laws, and the evil Democrats and unions.
What churl would deny any difference in scale?
(Mind, I've written numerous times about how the Governor has been a far cannier and more successful politician than his detractors foolishly predicted, and that there is much I find admirable about him. But. People. Let's have some frigging sense of proportion.)
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you want David Brooks' newsflash that courage is important.
The coming weeks will be so tough because the essential contest - of which the Swift boat stuff was only a start - will be over who really has courage, who really has resolve, and who is just a fraud with a manly bearing.
At the time of the American transfer of power to a newly sovereign government in Iraq in late June, American officials said one of their greatest disappointments during the occupation after the ouster of Saddam Hussein was the failure to be able to spend reconstruction funds rapidly enough.
Of the $18 billion appropriated by Congress following the end of major combat, only about $600 million had actually been spent on contracts with companies hired to rebuild Iraq's infrastructure.
As a result, just before the transfer of power, the occupation shifted $2.5 billion in Iraqi oil revenues, which were nominally under control of the Iraqi oil and finance ministries, to construction projects that would provide a quick payoff to Iraqis increasingly skeptical about American intentions.
The security problems are obvious, and have been overwhelming. Fine.
How does that explain why, with $18 billion appropriated by Congress, the Coalition Provision Authority had to take -- a true meaning of "appropriate," indeed, when it's someone else's money -- $2.5 billion from Iraq?
Can someone explain this to me? Is it something about the way the Congressional bill was written? Something about CPA organization/authority? Something about the contractors? Corruption somewhere? What makes this make sense, or at least tells us what, more precisely than this entirely vague, obscure, wording-we've-seen-a-hundred-times, happened?
Because this is a damned important part of what's gone wrong, and yet, most curiously, no reporter seems to have been able to produce a, you know, report, that tells us WTF has been going on.
On a visit to Baghdad during the summer, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told Americans at the new embassy that he wanted a thorough review of procedures on spending. Aides to Mr. Powell said that more specifically, he wanted to know why there had been so many delays.
As so many early AOLers used to say, "me, too."
Administration officials say the delays were a result of many factors, including cumbersome contracting regulations imposed by the Congress and a heightened sensitivity over the fact that early in the occupation several contracts were awarded without competitive bidding to the Halliburton Company, once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.
When they went into Iraq, many administration development experts approached the aid programs in a traditional way. The idea was that improvements to power generation capacity, electricity lines, water and sewage would be "precursors for larger economic investments" down the road, an administration official said.
But that view did not take into account the problems arising from the spread of the anti-American insurgency. Rebels were also attacking oil fields, making it clear that without security it made little sense to keep spending money to improve oil production equipment.
And this explains taking $2.5 billion from Iraqi coffers (which I'm sure they were thrilled to have done without an elected Iraqi government approving of it) how?
More, please. Ms. CPA is ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel creator Joss Whedon told SCI FI Wire that he's ready to return to the Buffyverse with television films once he receives a green light from The WB, home of Angel, or another network. "We haven't really heard anything," Whedon said in an interview. "Obviously, there's been a regime change at The WB. The fans are interested. I'm interested. I don't think either [Buffy star] Sarah [Michelle Gellar] or [Angel star] David [Boreanaz] would want to do it. But I think there's about 10 other characters I could name who would be totally worthy of movies. And I'm just waiting for somebody to say yea or nay."
As for a proposed Buffy animated series, Whedon said, "A presentation is being made. It hasn't been bought anywhere, but it's still in the creating stages, so it's still a possibility."
Beyond Buffy, Whedon said he'd readily return to series television. "I had some ideas," he said. "I'm sort of trying to look at the marketplace and say, 'What kind of idea will actually go?' Because I'm not really interested in making things that don't. … So I'm not sure if what I have is what the world wants right now."
But, Whedon added, "I am totally prepared to go back to TV. Not 24-seven, as I did with the first years of Buffy. But now I've learned about surrounding yourself with the right people and delegating so that I can actually run a show without ruining my life. And TV is, you know, … a medium that I love in a very different way than I love movies. The things that I can't do in [a] movie are things that I mourn: the smaller moments. The … protracted interactions. The things that make TV really fascinating. Watching characters change over the years. You know, I've waited my whole life to make movies, but movies don't do that. … You either write novels that are way too long, or you make TV if you want to do that. And … I can't write novels that are long."
He's absolutely right about the protracted interactions and small moments, and that, along with the sheer quantity and regularity, is why I'd rather have Joss Whedon productions back on tv about one hundred times more than Joss Whedon movies (which are also bound to be far more compromised by interference from studios than any likely tv productions), nice those the latter also are.
I GOTTA GET INTO THE LEDERHOSEN BIZ. There are fortunes to be made.
The world's biggest bierfest, as famous for its traditional legwear as its beer and sausages, faces an unprecedented absence of lederhosen after the Bavarian government refused to back down on plans to cut grants to folk groups.
The prospect of drinkers in jeans and T-shirts packing the beer tents at the Munich Oktoberfest came closer yesterday after lederhosen wearers said that they would boycott the event.
More than six million people are expected to attend the festival - last year tourism brought in more than €50 million (£34 million) to Munich and the beer festival is the highlight - but tourism officials fear that many overseas visitors, usually drawn by the colourful traditional displays, may decide not to come.
The festival is regularly opened by about 6,000 men in lederhosen, or leather shorts, and women in dirndls - pleated smocks with low-cut blouses. They parade through the city centre as the barrels of beer are wheeled in by horse-drawn cart.
Their distinctive costume, however, does not come cheap. The cost of fitting an average family of three is about £4,000. State grants worth €500,000 (£338,000) - distributed for the past 40 years - used to cover 13 per cent of the cost of each garment. In return, members of about 1,000 clubs agreed to play an active role in festivals and cultural events. Last week, however, efforts to persuade the Bavarian government not to cut the grants collapsed. Edmond Stoiber, the Bavarian prime minister, said the subsidy had to be stopped to save public money.
Pretty silly decision to cut back, though. Germany can't afford projection power for its military; the very least they can do is provide lederhosen so that oppressive forces in the world might be danced away. And with enough lager, who will care?
But did you know this?
The costumes, which date from the 17th century, reveal not only where a person comes from, but also whether they are Roman Catholic, married or single, and even if they are an experienced hunter.
Senior aides at Clarence House, where Prince Charles has his private office, say that the heir to the throne has been firmly against wind farms for years, but that he has so far chosen not to enter the public debate on their future.
A spokesman declined to comment yesterday but a friend of Prince Charles said: "This is a difficult issue for the Prince because he is in favour of renewable energy and is concerned by the effects of global warming.
"But he believes that wind farms are 'a horrendous blot on the landscape'. He thinks that if they have to be built at all they should be constructed well out at sea."
Clearly that would be ever so much economical and efficient.
To be sure, Britain is a small country, and the issue isn't as simple as it might appear on the face of it. But this does rather highlight the fact that there's simply no way of producing energy that some won't object to.
Total enrollment in the two government health programs did rise during Bush's tenure -- by about 7.5 million. But for the vast majority, coverage was required by law, not the result of any policy change.
"Part of the reason more people were covered is the economy got so bad that people lost income," Rowland said. "There were more low-income people under Bush than previously, so they became eligible for public programs."
Arsonists destroyed a Jewish community center in eastern Paris in a pre-dawn attack Sunday and left behind anti-Semitic graffiti, police said.
No one was hurt as flames tore through the center located on the first floor of a six-story building. The center, which served as a meeting place and cafeteria for the elderly and disadvantaged, was gutted, rescue officials said.
Authorities immediately suspected the fire was set deliberately. Inside the building, investigators found anti-Semitic graffiti and swastikas scrawled in red marker. One message read, "Without the Jews, the world is happy," while another said, "Jews get out."
I'm willing to volunteer for the moon colony, but you go first, without a vacuum suit, okay?
The Danube River is known for its beauty and has been immortalized in song. Now researchers have employed the water body as a testing ground for quantum teleportation. Scientists report today in the journal Nature that they have successfully teleported photons more than 600 meters across the famous waterway.
By separating the entangled pair, the scientists successfully transported information about the state of one photon to the other. Using fiber-optic cable laid under the water in sewer pipes, together with microwaves sent across the air above the water, three distinct states were teleported across the Danube. Over the course of a 28-hour experimental run, the system was correct 97 percent of the time.
The results indicate that quantum teleportation is feasible over long distances and under real-world conditions, the scientists say. “Our result,” they write, “is a step towards the implementation of a quantum repeater, which will enable pure entanglement to be shared between distant parties in a public environment and eventually on worldwide scale.”
His partner, Mr. Stone, glumly agreed: "We're so dumb." (Except that he added a four-letter word. Many of their sentences include four-letter words.)
Alec Baldwin, for example, emerges as a villain almost as evil as Kim Jong Il. Sean Penn and Danny Glover take up arms to fight beside Mr. Kim, with Mr. Penn crying "Die, conservative!" before blowing away a Team America member.
Mr. Kim, for his part, feeds the international weapons inspector Hans Blix to his sharks. (They used real sharks for that scene.) But not before he croons a song about the solo life of an absolute dictator: "I'm so Rone-ry."
The current version of the film is a guaranteed NC-17, with surprisingly graphic scenes of puppet sex. The filmmakers will have to cut it to an R rating, but not before they have their fun torturing the ratings board.
He added: "If you watch the first 40 minutes of the movie, you'd think Michael Moore wrote it and Rob Reiner directed it. If you watch the last 40 minutes you'd think we were the biggest right-wingers in the world."
"An actor convinces himself he's doing something important to the world," said Mr. Stone, who is 33 and has yet to work with one. "You're an actor; all you do is read lines. And here's Janeane Garofalo on CNN: `We are being silenced.' I can't turn on the TV without hearing Michael Moore's voice. And he's being silenced?"
"We never get silenced," said Mr. Parker, 34. "People are always throwing money at us. I wish someone would silence us so we could take a frigging vacation."
As for the big disaster scenes, the special effects team that worked on "Independence Day" was brought in to create the flooding of the Panama Canal (in a 1,000-gallon tank) and the toppling of the Eiffel Tower, with almost no digital effects. After all this effort, the filmmakers decided to leave the puppet strings in the frame. "We don't want anyone to think we did it C.G.I.," said Anne Garefino, an executive producer, referring to computer generated imagery. "It was too hard to do it this way."
Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone approached every scene with a WWJBD ethos: What Would Jerry Bruckheimer Do? The puppets bleed when they are shot. In the middle of every huge action sequence, there is a moment — complete with a soundtrack of tender, swelling strings — when two Team America agents confess their love, just before one gets killed. And when the Sphinx cracks in two, it falls directly on the bad guys' jeep — crushing a young boy in the process.
"It's very Sam Peckinpah," explained Joe Viskocil, the production's special effects coordinator, preparing the Sphinx for a collision.
Not fun. Fun, they recalled, was back in 2000, when they dropped acid and dressed up as Jennifer Lopez and Gwyneth Paltrow to attend the Academy Awards. That was, Mr. Parker said, awesome.
"I'm so glad we did that," said Mr. Stone.
Mr. Parker: "I remember about 30 seconds when I actually believed I was Jennifer Lopez."
That seemed so long ago. For now, Mr. Stone sighed and turned back to his work. "I've never worked harder in my life," he said. "This is relentless. It's like being at war, but nowhere near as important. It's just a dumb puppet movie." (Except he added a four-letter word.)
I blame Canada. We need more movies with surprisingly graphic scenes of puppet sex, though. Who's with me?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, first of all, Pete, I think there's a little bit of a mischaracterization there. Senator Kerry knows that his latest attack is false and baseless. The President has condemned all of the ads by the shadowy groups. We have called on Senator Kerry to join us in calling for an end to all the unregulated soft money activity that is going on in this campaign. And the President has stayed focused on the issues and the choices that the voters face. That's what this ought to be about. There are some clear choices that the voters face for the future. This should not be about the past, and we've made that very clear.
Q But don't you think you could put this matter to rest if you would just condemn this particular ad? That's what Kerry is asking.
MR. McCLELLAN: And the President has condemned all of the ads and condemned all of the soft money -- unregulated soft money that is going on. Senator Kerry should join us in calling for an end to all of this soft money -- unregulated soft money activity. Senator Kerry has declined to do so. The President has been on the receiving end of more than $62 million in negative, false attacks from these shadowy groups that exist. The President thought that we got rid of all of this kind of soft money activity when he signed the campaign finance reforms into law. Apparently Senator Kerry was against this soft money activity previously, too. Now he appears to be for it, as long as it benefits his campaign.
Q There are the ads, and then there's the charge within the ads. Last week at one of the "Ask President Bush" events, a voter stood up and repeated the charge that Senator Kerry had self-inflicted wounds in Vietnam. The President didn't say anything. What does the President think about the charge?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, the President thinks that we should get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity by these shadowy groups. It's not known who is contributing to these groups.
MR. McCLELLAN: And there have been a lot of false, negative charges made against the President by these shadowy groups. So if he would join us, we could get rid of all of this unregulated soft money activity.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the issue here is these unregulated soft money groups that exist. The campaign finance reforms were passed in order to get rid of this kind of activity. Yet there is a loophole in the law, and the FEC has refused to address it. We think that all of this activity should be stopped.
Q Could I follow on that? Because what Terry seems to be getting at, what's clear from this event that Bush had last week --
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, let's not be selective here. Let's look at the overall activity that's going on by all of these shadowy groups. I think we're being a little selective right now.
MR. McCLELLAN: No, actually I disagree fully with you, David. Senator Kerry is the one who has given his tacit approval to this kind of unregulated soft money activity by shadowy groups. He can join us in condemning all of this activity and calling for an end to it....
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think that it's important that we recognize that there is a loop hole that groups are exploiting. And we should end all this activity.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, ultimately in any campaign the voters are going to make the ultimate decision on all the issues. But this goes to the issue of shadowy groups that are funded by unregulated soft money. That's what this issue is about.
MR. McCLELLAN: We condemned all the ads, Dana. We condemned all the ads. The President condemned all the ads. You heard from him just recently. Why won't -- why won't Senator Kerry join us in calling for an end to of this activity, when we've been on the receiving end of substantial amounts of money of this kind of activity.
Now, I'm a little vague on this, and I'm not quite sure, but my preliminary take is that it's possible that the President is asking for Senator Kerry to condemn all the unregulated soft money activity that is bing conducted by these shadowy groups. I'll need to reread White House Press Secretary Scott McLellan's remarks at this single gaggle on the 19th a few more times to be sure, though. He was pretty cryptic about this.
(That "activity" is sometimes known as "free speech," rumor has it, and I have to agree that we better put an end to citizens speaking out on politics pretty damn quick, or this country is going to go right down the drain.)
Jimmy Orr, the White House's Internet guru, wants the White House Web site to get bloggier.
"We're trying to make it more bloggish," he says in an interview. "People need to see that we're on the site and we're listening to what they have to say."
A while back, Orr was his own guest on "Ask the White House" One questioner raised the topic of blogging. And it turns out Orr's a fan.
"Bloggers are very instrumental. They are important. They can lead the news. And they've been underestimated," he wrote.
"Here's what the bloggers do. They notice something in the news or something they've observed that maybe the 'traditional' media hasn't covered or isn't spending much time on. But they think it is significant. So, they give the story a second life (or first). And they talk about it. And others talk about it. Before you know it, it is leading the news."
And he's not the only one in the White House who reads blogs, he says. Far from it.
"They're important here," he says. "I can tell you that a lot of people read them."
See, you didn't know that. Thank heavens the WH is all hip and groovy and on the job.
WE ARE THE TEST OF YOUR BRAIN. What would you do without us?
''Liberals are, in my estimation, just not bright people.'' The former economics professor went on to clarify that liberals were drawn to ''occupations of the heart,'' while conservatives favored ''occupations of the brain,'' like economics or engineering.
The odd thing about Armey's statement was that it displayed a fuzzy, unscientific understanding of the brain itself: our most compassionate (or cowardly) feelings are as much a product of the brain as ''rational choice'' economic theory is. They just emanate from a different part of the brain -- most notably, the amygdala, the almond-shaped body that lies below the neocortex, in an older brain region sometimes called the limbic system. Studies of stroke victims, as well as scans of normal brains, have persuasively shown that the amygdala plays a key role in the creation of emotions like fear or empathy.
If amygdala activity is a reliable indication of emotional response, a fascinating possibility opens up: turning Armey's muddled poetry into a testable hypothesis. Do liberals ''think'' with their limbic system more than conservatives do? As it happens, some early research suggests that Armey might have been on to something after all.
Consider this possibility: the scientists do an exhaustive survey and it turns out that liberal brains have, on average, more active amygdalas than conservative ones.
(Those who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome also show unusual patterns of amygdala activity, but those patterns are almost inevitably the imprint of a specific event, and not the long arm of DNA.)
Those M.R.I. scans suggest an explanation. Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function. In the mid-1960's, the social psychologist Donn Byrne conducted a series of experiments in which the participants were given a description of several hypothetical strangers' attitudes and beliefs. They were then asked which stranger they would most enjoy having as a co-worker. The subjects consistently preferred the company of strangers with attitudes similar to their own. Opposites repel.
Say you're inclined to form strong emotional responses to images of violence or human suffering, and over the course of your formative years, most of the people you meet who respond to these images with comparable affect turn out to be Democrats. That's a commonality of experience that exists beneath conscious political affiliation -- it's closer to a gut instinct than a rational choice -- but if you meet enough Democrats who share that experience, sooner or later you start carrying the card yourself. Political identity starts with a shared temperament and only afterward deposits a layer of positions on the issues.
The question becomes less puzzling if you assume that 1) people choose parties primarily because they desire the companionship of people who share their cognitive wiring, and 2) they desire that companionship so much they're willing to pay for the privilege.
There may be something to this. Then again, there may not. But count on your Amygdala to keep track for you.
To help fight these wars, Congress passed a gigantic $416 billion appropriations bill for the Department of Defense in July, which President Bush signed into law on Aug. 5. The measure, the president declared, ensures that "our armed forces have every tool they need to meet and defeat the threats of our time."
Well, not exactly.
Legislators have amply demonstrated that what they're really interested in is raising and providing some home-state pork to impress voters in an election year. To that end, they have busied themselves with squeezing funds for war essentials such as training, weapons maintenance and spare parts -- things troops in combat need more, not less, of -- to send extra dollars their constituents' way.
A pork-hungry Congress has long been with us, of course, but this year, with our armed forces engaged on two major fronts, Congress has pushed the pork in the defense budget to an all-time high, totaling $8.9 billion. And even as they did so -- and voted to fund wartime operations at only a fraction of what nearly all analysts agree is needed for the duration of 2005 -- conservatives, liberals and moderates alike have presented themselves as doing everything they can think of to support the troops in the field. Don't believe it.
On June 24, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alaska Republican Ted Stevens, rammed the $416 billion bill through the Senate in just a few hours. Forty-two amendments, the majority of them involving small spending projects promoted by senators with an eye on bringing home the bacon, were adopted by unrecorded "voice" votes -- usually after cursory deliberation that failed even to explain the subject matter.
The next day's Congressional Record provided some details when it printed the text of the amendments. There, for example, you can find the amendment offered by Democratic Sen. Max Baucus for a grant to Rocky Mountain College in his state of Montana for three Piper aircraft and a simulator, and Republican Sen. Rick Santorum's $3 million add-on for an unbudgeted artificial lung device for the Army. By the time Congress had finished with the bill in July, House and Senate members had added more than 2,000 of these "earmarks," thereby achieving their new porcine record. Some of these items had at least some tenuous relevance to defense, but many didn't. None, though, had been included in the defense budget put together by DOD and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and there was subsequently little, if any, objective evaluation -- for instance, either by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) or in a congressional hearing -- of their cost and efficacy. Each one was literally a pig in a poke.
In parts of the bill that no one talked about, the Armed Services Committee raided the accounts that support combat readiness. Specifically, the committee cut Army depot weapons maintenance by $100 million (just when the repair backlog from the wars has grown to unmanageable proportions), and it removed $1.5 billion from the services' "working capital funds" for transportation and consumables (e.g. helicopter rotor blades, tank tracks, spare parts, fuel, food and much more). In one unseemly move, the committee also cut from one account $532 million for civilian repair technicians activated to support the deployed forces, claiming the money should have been credited elsewhere in the bill. But then it failed to add the money where it said it belonged.
In another feat of legislative trickery, the committee cut another $1.67 billion throughout the bill in anticipation of lower inflation in 2005 -- a pretense at a savings that OMB said in written comments to the committee "do[es] not exist." OMB concluded that "the practical effect of these reductions would be cuts to critical readiness accounts." In response, the Armed Services Committee did nothing and urged the Senate to endorse its bill, which it did by a vote of 97-0 on June 23.
Thereafter, the Senate Appropriations Committee used other gimmicks to reduce essential defense accounts in its bill. By the time Congress had finished with the appropriations measure on July 22, I counted $4.534 billion in reductions, mostly buried in the General Provisions section in the back of the bill. Ostensibly labeled as "unobligated balances," "general reductions," "excessive growth," "adjustments" and savings due to "management improvements," these were simply offsets to accommodate the $8.9 billion pork invoice the appropriators wrote. That more than $2.8 billion of these cuts came in military pay and the Operations and Maintenance budgets that support soldiers' salaries, training, spare parts, weapons maintenance and military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan shows where the committee's real priorities lay.
Moreover, it is not as if Congress had not been told that its actions would cause problems: House and Senate hearings held in the spring and early summer, and a GAO study issued in July, were replete with assertions that the military services were facing underfunding for training, maintenance and purchases of spare parts. In June, OMB warned that "increasing Congressional reliance on reductions of an indiscriminate nature and increasing use of earmarks within the DOD budget will damage future military capabilities."
With no Republican doing anything to restore the funding cut from the war-fighting accounts or to stem the record-busting pork parade, you might think some Democrats would step in where McCain and others declined to tread. You'd be mistaken. There was nary a peep of complaint on the Senate floor. Feasting at the pork trough every bit as much as others, Democratic defense leaders such as Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Inouye, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, spent his time and energy making sure his home state was well taken care of, adding funding for brown tree-snake eradication programs and health-care spending for Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. As far as I could determine from the Congressional Record, committee reports and conversations with former colleagues, others, such as Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, did nothing to undo the mess.
As for President Bush and Sens. John Kerry and John Edwards, it's hard to say whether they are ignorant of the corrosive nature of congressional business as usual on defense, which seems unlikely, or are simply intimidated by the prospect of seriously fighting a system of debased values that sacrifices military readiness for selfish gain. In any case, none of them has made an effort to combat Congress's feeding frenzy.
And the media? Not for the first time, they were sound asleep.
I COMMAND YON WAVES TO ROLL BACK UPON THE OCEANS. The Kings and Queens of the Olympics have spoken:
(AP) -- Athletes may be the center of attention at the Olympic Games, but don't expect to hear directly from them online -- or see snapshots or video they've taken.
The International Olympic Committee is barring competitors, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from writing firsthand accounts for news and other Web sites.
An exception is if an athlete has a personal Web site that they did not set up specifically for the Games.
The IOC's rationale for the restrictions is that athletes and their coaches should not serve as journalists -- and that the interests of broadcast rightsholders and accredited media come first.
Just so. After all, the Olympics are about profits, and selling rights! Mere athletics is entirely secondary. It's a shame some people are confused about this.
Participants in the games may respond to written questions from reporters or participate in online chat sessions -- akin to a face-to-face or telephone interview -- but they may not post journals or online diaries, blogs in Internet parlance, until the Games end August 29.
To protect lucrative broadcast contracts, athletes and other participants are also prohibited from posting any video, audio or still photos they take themselves, even after the games, unless they get permission ahead of time.
The Olympic guidelines threaten to yank credentials from athletes who are in violation as well as to impose other sanctions or take legal action for any monetary damages.
Thank goodness the committee is protecting both us and the athletes from us hearing from them directly. Who knows what that could lead to? At the very least, fewer profits for "accredited media" and the Olympic Committee. Have people no sense of priority?
In truth, around 300,000 troops might have been enough to make Iraq largely secure after the war. But doing so would also have required different kinds of troops, with different rules of engagement. The coalition should have deployed vastly more military police and other troops trained for urban patrols, crowd control, civil reconstruction, and peace maintenance and enforcement. Tens of thousands of soldiers with sophisticated monitoring equipment should have been posted along the borders with Syria and Iran to intercept the flows of foreign terrorists, Iranian intelligence agents, money, and weapons.
But Washington failed to take such steps, for the same reasons it decided to occupy Iraq with a relatively light force: hubris and ideology. Contemptuous of the State Department's regional experts who were seen as too "soft" to remake Iraq, a small group of Pentagon officials ignored the elaborate postwar planning the State Department had overseen through its "Future of Iraq" project, which had anticipated many of the problems that emerged after the invasion. Instead of preparing for the worst, Pentagon planners assumed that Iraqis would joyously welcome U.S. and international troops as liberators. With Saddam's military and security apparatus destroyed, the thinking went, Washington could capitalize on the goodwill by handing the country over to Iraqi expatriates such as Ahmed Chalabi, who would quickly create a new democratic state. Not only would fewer U.S. troops be needed at first, but within a year, the troop levels could drop to a few tens of thousands.
Of course, these naive assumptions quickly collapsed, along with overall security, in the immediate aftermath of the war.
I have no problem understanding why many people supported the invasion of Iraq. I trepeditiously, luke-warmly, supported it myself. There were a variety of good arguable reasons to support the idea (few put forward then or later by the Bush Administration) at the time, as well as some bad reasons. We also couldn't know then -- despite the claims of both supporters and opposers -- how it would turn out, and we still don't know what Iraq will look like in three or five years (I'm clinging to some hope).
What I don't understand is how anyone could possibly believe, in the face of all the highly detailed expositions we've accumulated over the past year-plus of what happened, why, and how it went against all the professional advice in the government, that the post-war situation was handled other than extremely incompetently for no justifiable reason, and how anyone could reasonably believe the political leaders who caused this debacle to be competent to further lead us forward in the arena of foreign affairs.
As Matthew Yglesias has been pounding lately, it doesn't matter how grand your ideas are, and how correct (or not), if you can't competently carry them out. Why would people support those with what might or might not be better, even great, ideas, if they're going to be executed as if the planners lived in Candyland?
Ever fancied becoming a cartoon character? New animation software can turn digital videos into smoothly animated cartoons.
Computer scientist Michael Cohen, of Microsoft research in Redmond, Washington, honed the prototype on a video of his daughter, Lena. The software scans the film for prominent objects - such as Lena swinging on monkey bars - then turns that movement into a cartoon.
"We're trying to look at the video as a whole," he says, rather than as a series of frames. This gives objects' edges continuity, making them smooth. It also allows complex movements to be translated into cartoon action.
The work was presented at the SIGGRAPH computer graphics meeting in Los Angeles last week.
Answer: don't try to sell books before you learn not to write sentences like that and various others on your website.
(That goes for eight gazillion wannabe writers, but it will never happen. Bad writers are bad writers because they don't realize they can't tell what an ungrammatical sentence is, and because they can't parse, can't punctuate, have no sense of rhythm or meter, don't know how to write dialogue, don't know what a "said-bookism" is, don't know how to plot, don't know how to structure, and so on.)
Psychologists, anthropologists and linguists have long wondered whether animals, young children or certain cultures can conceptualize numbers without the language to describe them.
To tackle the issue, behavioural researcher Peter Gordon of Columbia University in New York journeyed into the Amazon. He carried out studies with the Pirahã tribe, a hunter-gatherer group of about 200 people, whose counting system consists of words which mean, approximately, 'one', 'two' and 'many'.
Gordon designed a series of tasks to examine whether tribe members could precisely count and conceive of numbers beyond one or two, even if they lacked the words. For example, he asked them to look at a group of batteries and line up a matching amount.
The tribe members struggled to perform these tasks accurately after the numbers were greater than three, Gordon reports in Science1; and their performance got worse the higher the numbers climbed. "They couldn't keep track at all," he says.
Other researchers in the field have welcomed the study. But they disagree about what it means. Psychologist Charles Gallistel, at Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey, says that the Pirahã simply may not recognize when one quantity of items exactly equals another, so they have trouble with matching tasks. He argues that people do possess an innate, non-verbal ability to conceive of all numbers, and that language simply helps them to refine it.
Psychologist Susan Carey of Harvard University in Massachusetts argues the opposite: she says we lack an innate ability to count beyond very small numbers, and that the Pirahã difficulty with numbers proves it. "It's a spectacular finding," she says.
Clearly we need at least... uh, many more studies.
PROFESSOR VOLOKH WONDERS WHY THE PRESIDENT IS CALLING FOR AN END TO FREE SPEECH via "527's" here.
This is independent spending on political expression, which Buckley specifically held was constitutionally protected, by a 7-1 vote that include liberals, moderates, and conservatives in the majority (the only dissenter was Justice White). I certainly hope that McClellan's views don't represent the policy agenda of the White House. (For a more detailed argument on why such speech should be protected, see here.)
UPDATE: Unfortunately, President Bush seems to be taking the same view....
A reader suggested, in response to the original post, that maybe McClellan was calling for "an end" simply in the sense of urging people not to do this sort of thing. But the references to thinking that BCRA would have gotten rid of such speech strongly suggest that "an end" means a legally mandated end. Bad stuff.
I STILL LIKE BARBARA TUCHMAN'S work, but it's long been known that her famous, iconic, thesis from The Guns of August, that WWI happened, essentially, because of inflexible plans locked into railroad timetables, and the inability of leaders to forsee the inevitable results, was quite wrong.
It's a terrific story, and thus compellingly easy to believe, conveying the lessons it does, but it's wrong. And here is a terrific look by Adam Gopnik at contemporary historical views of the causes of WWI.
The last century, through its great cataclysms, offers two clear, ringing, and, unfortunately, contradictory lessons. The First World War teaches that territorial compromise is better than full-scale war, that an “honor-bound” allegiance of the great powers to small nations is a recipe for mass killing, and that it is crazy to let the blind mechanism of armies and alliances trump common sense. The Second teaches that searching for an accommodation with tyranny by selling out small nations only encourages the tyrant, that refusing to fight now leads to a worse fight later on, and that only the steadfast rejection of compromise can prevent the natural tendency to rush to a bad peace with worse men. The First teaches us never to rush into a fight, the Second never to back down from a bully.
We struggle with these contradictory lessons: which to use?
But Strachan is no drudge; he has a point to make and a message to deliver. His desire is to take the cliché image of the war, particularly the English one—the war as Monty Python massacre, with idiot Graham Chapman generals sending gormless Michael Palin soldiers to a senseless death—and replace it with something more like the image that Americans have of our Civil War: a horrible, hard slog, certainly, but fought that way because no other was available, and fought for a cause in itself essentially good.
Strachan and Stevenson—a historian at the London School of Economics—complicate that view. The Germans may have wanted a war, but they surely didn’t want this war. What Conrad had in mind was a much more limited war, a war with Serbia. Even if Moltke and Conrad were in favor of a war on German-Austrian terms, they did not control the crucial casus belli—the assassination of the Archduke—and they could not have forced the hands of so many players on their own. At the same time, the new scholars have exploded the idea that the Schlieffen plan was actually useful, let alone a well-oiled doomsday machine. It was an old academic, deskbound exercise, in case of a possible war with France, which specified almost nothing in practical terms, much less dressed troops and routed trains. The Germans were not blindly following a preset plan; they were making it up as they went along, sometimes in a state of panic produced by the absence of a plan.
So it was not a march of folly at all. It was a march of fools. That is, it was not a tragedy of errors and misunderstandings that carried the unknowing participants toward an end that they could not envision. It was the deliberate decision of individuals who thought they knew just what they were getting into.
And that, of course, never happened before, and hasn't happened since, and will never happen again.
Where are my "sarcasm" marks?
Nonetheless, both Strachan and Stevenson emphasize that the standard images of the war, and of the verdict that Keegan seconds even today—that it was an utter and futile massacre, with an additional note of industrialized absurdity that indicted the entire civilization that had allowed it—were late in coming. Memorable antiwar literature and theatre—Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” R. C. Sherriff’s “Journey’s End,”and the war memoirs of Sassoon and Robert Graves, to which one could add Renoir’s “Grand Illusion” and Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms”—were written only in the late nineteen-twenties. Strachan insists that this literature reflects the war seen through the prism of the twenties and not as it was understood in its time—as, in large part, a tragic necessity, the noble struggle of liberal civilization to save itself.
And the point we might still take from the First World War is the old one that wars are always, in Lincoln’s perfectly chosen word, astounding. They produce results that we can hardly imagine when they start. It is not that wars are always wrong. It is that wars are always wars, good for destroying things that must be destroyed, as in 1864 or 1944, but useless for doing anything more, and no good at all for doing cultural work: saving the national honor, proving that we’re not a second-rate power, avenging old humiliations, demonstrating resolve, or any of the rest of the empty vocabulary of self-improvement through mutual slaughter.
Mind, this is not a pacifistic point: it is necessary to destroy at times. It's just terribly important to know when that choice is worth the cost.
Nor would I even agree that wars are necessarily "no good at all" for the above results: sometimes they are; it's simply that the results are also rarely fully predictable.
SAME OLD SAME OLD. Of course, classic insane Jew-hatred continues to roll along as well as ever; it's always useful to glance at MEMRI now and again for a reminder, such as bit of SOP from Al-Jundi Al-Muslim (The Muslim Soldier), which is published by the Religious Affairs Department of the Saudi armed forces.
And this from the Egyptian weekly magazine Aqidati, published by the Al-Tahrir foundation, which is linked to the ruling National Democratic Party.
SKIFFY IS STILL A SMALL WORLD, "skiffy" being an ironic, cutsy in-term for "sci-fi," a sometimes despised term by some of the older crowd, or the more cognescenti in the science fiction world. ("Sf" remains the prevalent term.)
HerePopular Science finally puts online their semi-clueful/semi-clueless look at Charlie Stross (see the quotes on the lower left sidebar about me, and see the blogroll), and Cory Doctorow (see also BoingBoing for Cory, and google on both writers), and their cutting edge work on nano-influenced skiffy (more attention might have been paid to Greg Egan, and other workers in the field, but they weren't around for the article writer to chat up).
Stross and Doctorow are sitting outside the Chequers Hotel bar in Newbury, a small city west of London. The Chequers has been overrun this May weekend by a distinct species of science-fiction fan, members of a group called Plokta (Press Lots of Keys to Abort). The men are mostly stout and bearded, the women pedestrian in appearance but certainly not in their interests. During one session Stross mentions an early model of the Amstrad personal computer, and the crowd practically cheers.
ON NOT HAVING A RELIGIOUS WAR: wouldn't that be a good idea? (Yes, some say we're in one; but if only a tiny minority on either side feel that way, thankfully we're not.) General Boykin, fortunately, is wrong.
A Defense Department investigation has determined that Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the Pentagon's senior military intelligence official, violated three internal regulations while delivering controversial speeches that linked the war on terrorism to what he depicted as an enduring battle against Satan, according to a copy of the probe obtained yesterday by The Washington Post.
The 10-month internal investigation, conducted by the department's deputy inspector general for investigations, confirmed news accounts that Boykin said in his speeches that President Bush had been placed in his post by God, that radical Muslims hate America because it "will never abandon Israel" and that the U.S. military is recruiting a spiritual army that will draw strength from a greater power to defeat its enemy.
But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, speaking at the time, praised Boykin for "an outstanding record" and kept him in his post. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard B. Myers likewise defended Boykin and told reporters that "at first blush, it doesn't look like any rules were broken" because "there is a very wide gray area" of what the rules permit.
The inspector's report, which is dated Aug. 5 but has not been released by the Pentagon, concludes otherwise. It found that Boykin failed to obtain clearance for his remarks, failed to clarify that his remarks were personal and not official, and failed to report reimbursement of travel costs from one of the sponsoring religious groups.
"We recommend that the Acting Secretary of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to LTG Boykin," the report says.
So do I. Great damage has already been done; Boykin's remarks were widely publicized in the Islamic world, and people were rightfully appalled and enraged. But better late than never.
The investigation determined that Boykin spoke about his involvement in the war on terrorism at 23 religious-oriented events since January 2002, wearing his uniform at all but two. His audiences -- mostly at Baptist or Pentecostal churches -- ranged from small groups to more than 1,000. Boykin's remarks followed a pattern, the report said, and he showed slides prepared with the help of two military aides.
Boykin is supposed to be a great general. That's probably so. But in this he greatly harmed the country he swore to protect.
SEATTLE, Washington (Reuters) -- A black bear was found passed out at a campground in Washington state recently after guzzling down three dozen cans of a local beer, a campground worker said on Wednesday.
"We noticed a bear sleeping on the common lawn and wondered what was going on until we discovered that there were a lot of beer cans lying around," said Lisa Broxson, a worker at the Baker Lake Resort, 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Seattle.
The hard-drinking bear, estimated to be about two years old, broke into campers' coolers and, using his claws and teeth to open the cans, swilled down the suds.
It turns out the bear was a bit of a beer sophisticate. He tried a mass-market Busch beer, but switched to Rainier Beer, a local ale, and stuck with it for his drinking binge.
Wildlife agents chased the bear away, but it returned the next day, said Broxson.
They set a trap using as bait some doughnuts, honey and two cans of Rainier Beer. It worked, and the bear was captured for relocation.
"Hi! My name is 'Smokey,' and I'm an alcoholic!" "Hiiii, Smokey!"
THE EARLIER COLD WAR. An interesting look by Emran Qureshi at Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam by Andrew Wheatcroft.
The term "cold war" has a most unusual and unlikely philological pedigree. The Spanish writer Don Juan Manuel (1282-1348) first used it in the 14th century to describe the protracted conflict between Islam and Christendom on the Iberian Peninsula.
Upon the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula by the Catholic kings, both Muslims and Jews were persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition and eventually expelled. This history is important to the author because there were centuries in which Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together relatively harmoniously (for the first three centuries under Muslim rule, and then for the second three centuries under Christian rule). Américo Castro, the Spanish historian, famously gave it the name convivencia (living together). One notable instance of convivencia is the building of the Great Mosque of Cordoba, which resembles mosques of the East, but is also graced by a forest of double-arched columns, which was a characteristic of Visigothic architecture and extended by Mozarabic (Christian) craftsmen.
Wheatcroft, in a fascinating footnote to Spanish history, details how anti-Jewish sentiments partly sprang from the notion that the Jew was the ally of the Muslim. In 1412, the Valencian Dominican missionary Vincent Ferrer made the Jewish connection to the Muslim enemy explicit. In 1449, Pedro Sarmiento fulminated against the alleged evil deeds of Iberian Jews. Chief among the charges was the idea the Jews of Toledo had opened the gates to the Moors.
By the late 1400s, convivencia met a violent end. The Castilian monarchs captured the entire Iberian Peninsula and forcibly converted Jews and Muslims to Christianity. Many thousands fled. However, some, if not many, of the remaining Jews and Muslims surreptitiously attempted to remain faithful to their prior religious traditions.
These new Christians were viewed with suspicion and subject to intense persecution. It is here that the antecedents of biological anti-Semitism begin in Spain, with the idea that only Catholics with "purity of blood" (limpieza de sangre) should be admitted to guilds or the broader society.
This gives a slightly unbalanced, somewhat rosy view of how Islamic Spain, and Islam in general, treated "protected people" (ahl al-dhimma), but it's basically true. I'd rather have been a Jew under Islamic al-Andalus than expelled, killed, for forced to live as a conversos by the Catholic Kings and Queens of Spain. Here is a useful analysis I recommend reading.
Back to the review:
Sadly, today the Islam that is becoming hegemonic is that of Saudi Wahhabism. The great pity is that this radical Wahhabi-Salafi Gleichschaltung of Islam effaces the historically rooted, more pluralist forms of Islam (such as, but not limited to, Sufi, Shia and syncretic popular traditions).
It would be a terrible mistake to conflate the radical excesses of Wahhabism and bin Laden-style jihadism with the entire faith of Islam over 14 centuries and six continents. Such a simplistic view would render invisible the rich fabric and tapestry of Muslim civilization. One recalls the examples of Omar ibn Said, an African Muslim brought as a slave to the shores of North America who, in 1803, wrote his memoirs in Arabic; or Rabia of Balkh, the renowned female Sufi poet and mystic, whose sublime verses have inspired successive generations of Muslims in Afghanistan and around the world.
Wheatcroft is no Thucydides describing alien cultures locked in a clash of civilizations. The author's task is far more complex and pacific: It is, instead, to capture vignettes depicting both conflict and co-operation between the West and the Islamic world. Wheatcroft issues a plaintive plea for the "Other" to resist the lazy and easy temptation to dehumanize their opponent, noting: "If there is a moral in the events that I have described in this long history, it is that words and images are weapons."
UPDATING "SOMETHING HAS GONE ROTTEN." I've made a lot of updates to my post on anti-Islamic hate in blogs, with a lot of links to other blogs that have commented, so you might want to take another look there, and check out some of the links in the bottom half.
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF MY MORTAL REMAINS. Finally was able to see medical professionals this morning. As usual, was treated as a character from the movie Scanners after my blood pressure was taken, since it was 190/122. Am scheduled for electrocardiogram at Boulder Community Hospital on Monday, and a general physical next week. Collected various prescriptions, including Indomethacin for gout and elalapril maleate for blood pressure (and enlarged and deviated right ventricle).
Donations to help pay for prescriptions much appreciated (I got no health insurance; see top of the blog). Special bonus: I'll be sure to post pictures of my head exploding if it happens! I won't let you down!
Diet seems to be helping mildly with gout, though it's still omnipresent. Mmm, gruel. Pretty much all I'm supposed to eat are dairy products (yogurt and sour cream), some tart fruits (no cranberry!) and bananas, a very few vegetables (no beans, peas, asparagus, many others), brown rice, unsalted nuts, baking potatos (but I have no oven or microwave, just two electric burners), and definitely no meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or, basically, protein, caffeine, alcohol, spices, bread, products with wheat....
A PRETTY BAD MYERS-BRIGGS TEST is here. Bad, I say, because it's only four questions, which is ludicrously reductionist. The page seems to be intended as a viral blog ad, since it has nothing to do with blogging, but the designers know that the tie-in will pull in lots of bloggers to link to it, and thus put the ad for their book in front of lots of people. That will never work!
You are an INTJ!
As an INTJ, you are Introverted, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging.
This makes your primary focus on Introverted Thinking with an Extraverted Intution.
This is defined as a NT personality, which is part of Carl Jung's Rational (Knowledge Seeking) type, and more specifically the Mastermind or Scientist.
You aren't as openly affectionate as some of you NT counterparts, and this may cause other bloggers to assume you aren't as friendly. Your ideas and actual applications for these ideas are brilliant, however, and you might be more likely to create something masterful on your journal.
I am, however, typically INTJ, and the above is true.
The Subservient Chicken campaign was trashed in Ad Age for failing to push the product, but that was the point. "There's a huge lure to obscurity," explains David Art Wales of the New York consulting firm Ministry of Culture. "That's one of the keys - giving people something to discover, which is the antithesis of the way most advertising works."
When it comes to media, men 18 to 34 like things fresh, unpredictable, and uncensored. They're more than twice as likely as other adults to have TiVo or some other DVR. Reality TV is a guilty pleasure, but sitcoms, formulaic and tired, aren't even tempting. When they do watch TV, guys usually prefer cable channels - Comedy Central, ESPN, HBO, MTV. On the Web, they tend to cluster at porn, gaming, and sports sites. And just because they're online doesn't mean they aren't watching TV and listening to their iPods, too. One of the guys in the focus group even had a mirror on top of his computer screen so he could watch TV without turning around.
"This younger generation has a filter mechanism," observes Jim Lentz, group VP of marketing at Toyota Motor Sales USA. Lentz has his own focus group at home: two sons, ages 17 and 21. "They can be doing their homework, listening to music, watching TV, on the PC, and on the phone, all at the same time. It drives my wife crazy. You assume they're just screwing around - but they're not." This ability to focus is governed by a complex neural network called the reticular activating system, which filters sensory input to keep the brain from being overwhelmed. When you grow up in an always-on world this system may adjust to cope. "They have a total ability to block out anything they don't want to get through," Lentz marvels. "From an advertising standpoint, that's what makes this animal so scary."
Even as advertisers experiment with virtual entertainment, they're trying the opposite tack: delivering messages in the real world, with no electronic intermediary at all. At showings of The Matrix Revolutions last fall, Nissan stuck actors in movie theaters and, when an Altima spot came on, had them stand up and deliver lines from it, like car junkies at a poetry slam. To promote a new line of phonecams, Sony Ericsson hired actors to pose as tourists and ask people to photograph them with the phones. The catch-all term for such campaigns is "experiential," because the point is to create an experience memorable enough to break through the filter mechanism and generate buzz - something far more likely to register with media-saturated guys than advertising.
Intellectual cover for this sort of thing is provided by books like Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Seth Godin's Unleashing the Ideavirus: Get the right people talking about something and sooner or later it'll take off. The concept is vintage '90s; what's new is the notion that anybody would put a budget behind it. "When people used to say, 'We'd like to do guerrilla marketing,' that translated to, 'We don't have any money,'" quips Andrew Gledhill, president of the LA-based ad agency Ground Zero. "When they said, 'We'd like to do something viral,' that meant, 'We really, really don't have any money.'" No more: Ground Zero recently won a $10 million viral-marketing account from Toyota.
Must think of viral ad campaign for this blog. Bloggers! Blogroll Amygdala! Blogroll NOOOOOOOOW!
Dale Peck meets Julia Child! This darkly comic emotional roller coaster is an epoch-making heady mix of penetrating insights and warts-and-all dogged investigation! Wickedly funny! The panoramic sweep of its searingly honest fluent prose shines through. Unputdownable! Will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
Acting without the approval of the Pentagon or senior Iraqi officials, the Marine officers said in recent interviews, they turned a firefight with Mr. Sadr's forces on Thursday, Aug. 5, into a eight-day pitched battle, one fought out in deadly skirmishes in an ancient cemetery that brought them within rifle shot of the Imam Ali Mosque, Shiite Islam's holiest shrine.
But in the battle in Najaf, at least, the marines here say they engaged Mr. Sadr's forces at the request of the local Iraqi police. They did not seek approval from senior military commanders or from Iraqi political leaders, with the exception of the governor of Najaf.
Senior officers in Baghdad, as well White House officials who discussed the battle in Washington, say the latest fighting began when a Marine patrol drove directly past one of Mr. Sadr's houses in Najaf - violating an informal agreement that American units would stay away from Mr. Sadr's strongholds, treating them as part of an "exclusion zone" that was at the heart of the cease-fire in the city.
In Baghdad, commanders seemed curiously disconnected. On Monday, Aug. 9, a senior military official told reporters that American forces had cut off Mr. Sadr's forces in the Old City and the cemetery from the rest of Najaf. But no cordon existed, and none would be set up until Thursday, when the second Army battalion arrived.
This all explains a lot, and it doesn't reflect at all well on anyone on our side.
BEAT YOUR FRIENDS AT GAMING WHILE THEY'RE NOT THERE. Loser.
Playing football videogames is most fun when you’re pitted against your friends. For those of you who no longer live in a frat house, though, finding an opponent whenever you get the gaming jones just isn’t practical. But now there’s ESPN NFL 2K5 ($20 for Xbox and PlayStation2; espnvideogames.com). It creates computerized versions of your friends, saddled with their identical sorry style of play, so in their absence you can practice beating up on them.
The virtual identity profile (VIP) system on 2K5 acts like an omnipotent scout, observing your friends’ instincts and learning their tendencies. It remembers what plays they call and in what situations, and monitors how they play after the ball is snapped. Do their running backs rely on the juke or a stiff arm? And how’s their timing: early or late? The VIP algorithm records this information by means of an invisible grid below the ballhandler. When an opposing player closes in, the algorithm uses the grid to measure the distance and direction between the two players. It catalogues this information, and when it mimics your friend, it taps into the database to learn that, for instance, he stiff-arms on average one tenth of a second late, but only when the tackler is coming from the left. It’s almost like playing against your pals, minus the odor coming from the next seat over.
Coming next: the program that writes lame and illogical blog entries just like Blogger X, so you can refute them before the real blogger actually writes them!
FASTER WAYS TO BEING A RUDE BOOB!Wired Newsinforms us.
If someone you recently tried to pick up at a bar told you to e-mail them at a papernapkin.net address, don't get too excited about your forthcoming romantic prospects.
That's because any e-mail sent to any papernapkin.net address returns the following bad news: "Nice to hear from you. Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, this is a rejection letter. The person who gave you this email address does not want to have anything to do with you."
There are others.
Other services, like The Rejection Hotline and Cingular Wireless' Escape-A-Date, offer different approaches to the same thing: giving people a way out of uncomfortable encounters.
The Rejection Hotline works much the same way as Paper Napkin, except with phone numbers instead of e-mail addresses. The service has local phone numbers in 30 American cities, each of which, when dialed, informs the caller that, "This is not the person you were trying to call.... The person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number."
Yes, truly, this is what the internet was invented for: ways to be a more efficient asshole.
They shut him up. Fast. You never even saw him. No footage of him coming off the plane, no flags or banners waving, no parade in his honor. He came home from Iraq in May, but there wasn't even a formal announcement. In fact, you're not supposed to know he's here.
He lives in a secret location. It might be just down the street, or it might be halfway to nowhere. Maybe he was sitting at the next table last night, having dinner right beside you. You have no way of knowing: Nobody knows what he looks like.
Each day, she would catch another snippet of the hostility brewing around her. There was the candlelight vigil in Cumberland, Maryland, to show support for the disgraced soldiers, including the ones who did the torturing, about a hundred supporters standing in the pounding rain, as if beating and sodomizing prisoners were some kind of patriotic duty. Or the 200 people who gathered one night in Hyndman, Pennsylvania, waving American flags to honor Sivits, the first soldier tried in the scandal. They posted a sign in Hyndman. It said JEREMY SIVITS, OUR HOMETOWN HERO. And the mayor told reporters that even though Sivits would sometimes do "a little devilish thing," on the whole he was "a wonderful kid."
Where were the signs for Joe? Bernadette had to wonder. Where was his vigil? Where was his happy mayor? Where were his calls of support? Down at the gas station, Clay overheard some guys say that Joe was "walking around with a bull's-eye on his head," just casually, just like, oh, everybody knows Joe's dead. Some of Bernadette's family even let her know that other members of the family were against her now, that they couldn't support a traitor. The more Bernadette heard, the more paranoid she became. How serious was this? Her nerves were so fried from the media onslaught that she couldn't be sure what was serious and what was just talk. Had those cops really ignored Maxine because they were against Joe? And if so, what else would they ignore?
And then the phone rang.
It was a major from the U.S. Army, and he was coming over. Within a few minutes, everything began to shift around Bernadette, and it was hard to tell what was happening. She found herself in the passenger seat of an unmarked government vehicle, speeding down the highway to some unknown destination, Clay's truck right behind her with Maxine and the kids packed inside, the whole group snatched up by military protective custody without any prior warning or even a clear idea of why. Bernadette called Virginia and said, "We're in protective custody now. I don't know where we're going, but we'll call you when we get there."
The whole thing felt insane. Could all this really be happening? Did they know something she didn't?
Well, yes. Quite a few things, actually. Like, one thing Bernadette didn't know—because almost nobody knows it, because almost everybody who does know has either been lying or keeping it a secret—is the rest of the story, what really happened at Abu Ghraib. Oh, you hear allusions to the fact that certain things haven't been told, like Rumsfeld saying in May that the whole story is "a good deal more terrible" than what you've seen. But you don't hear Rumsfeld saying any more than that, or explaining what "more terrible" means.
All this in a prison, by the way, that was overcrowded by about 350 percent. According to Major David DiNenna, who served under Karpinski in Abu Ghraib, "Towards the end, we had over 7,000 prisoners. We were only supposed to run 2,000." Karpinski says the same thing.
Or how about this: children. Little kids. In the prison. Sure, the army will say they weren't little, but they were, and they still are. According to Florian Westphal, at the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, there have been at least 107 juveniles in American custody this year, and according to an army spokesman at the Pentagon, there are still "about sixty juveniles under the age of 18"—but he insists that "the youngest would be 14." As if 14 isn't young. As if 14 is a perfectly reasonable age to be housed in an adult prison.
Not that it's even true.
At least one person from Abu Ghraib says the kids in custody go far younger than that. And this person ought to know. After all, it was her prison—that is, until military intelligence and private contractors took it away. "There was one kid in there, he looked like he was 8," remembers General Karpinski. "His hands were on the bars, and he was clearly a juvenile. So I touched his hands, you know, and I spoke to him in Arabic to the extent that I could. I asked him how old he was, and he said that he was almost 12 and that he wanted his mother and could his mother please come, and he was crying, and he was grabbing my hand so hard. I asked him, what did he do? What was he there for? And he said he was bringing some food, and all of a sudden these soldiers came, and there was a lot of noise and a lot of shouting, and him and his brother were just playing there, just bringing some food to these people. So I asked him, 'Do you know about any weapons? Saddam? Planning?' He was swearing to me, 'No, no,' and crying. His brother was with him in the cell, and I asked him how old he was, and he said 15."
You didn't see those pictures on the news though, didn't hear Rumsfeld talk about that. Just like nobody except Janis Karpinski is talking about the three military-intelligence officers who were sent home in January after the sexual assault of two female prisoners. That case is confidential, just like the roughly 5,950 pages of Major General Antonio Taguba's 6,000-page investigation of the Abu Ghraib scandal are "confidential." Just like all the pornography coming out of Abu Ghraib is being kept from you, the videos of Lynndie England fellating an unidentified man, the pictures of soldiers having sex. The members of the United States Congress apparently couldn't tell who the man was when they watched the highlight reel on a loop in a dark room on Capitol Hill one afternoon in May, an event that one Congressman calls "Bizarro World," with representatives coming and going while hundreds of pictures and videos rolled by, people like Nancy Pelosi sitting in front of a screen of depravity, with a military minder occasionally interjecting, "This one's from Tier 1A."
That wasn't on 60 Minutes II, either.
Just try calling your senator and asking him about that. Ask him what he saw. Any children? Pornography? Sexual abuse? Richard Durbin: No comment. Lindsey Graham: Can neither confirm nor deny. Joseph Lieberman: No response. Sam Brownback: No response. Carl Levin: No comment. Joseph Biden: No comment. Ron Wyden: Can neither confirm nor deny. Tim Johnson: Can neither confirm nor deny. Jon Corzine: No comment. Chuck Schumer: No response. Barbara Boxer: No comment. John Warner: No comment. Lincoln Chafee: No comment. Dianne Feinstein: No comment.
Three months in protective custody have been a mixed blessing. The house has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a chandelier. That's all you need to know. That, and also that it's the nicest house they have ever had. They've made friends with the security detail and will probably stay in touch, and Joe changed his appearance, just a little, just to be sure.
Read The Rest Scale: 10 out of 5. Read The Rest, for god's sake. And ask: how is it this is what we do to a hero?
Here's an archaeological discovery that the average guy at the end of the bar can appreciate: An ancient brewery. A team of scientists from Chicago's Field Museum in July uncovered a brewery in the mountains of southern Peru where members of the Wari Empire made an alcoholic beer-like drink called chicha more than 1,000 years ago.
It wasn't just a mom-and-pop operation, but something that could deliver the goods when dozens, if not hundreds, of Wari decided it was chicha time.
"This was a very large scale of production that they are undertaking here in order to serve large numbers of people," Patrick Ryan Williams, an assistant curator at the museum, said in a telephone interview from Peru.
The brewery may be the oldest large-scale facility of its kind ever found in the Andes and predates the Inca Empire by at least four centuries, he said.
Scientists have long known the Wari made the spicy drink, but nothing on the scale of the brewery they just found.
Based on the brewing room that contained the pieces of several 10- to 15-gallon ceramic preparation vats, Williams estimates the facility could produce as much as a few thousand liters of chicha a day.
The brewery was found during the excavation of Cerro Baul, a mountaintop city about 8,000 feet above sea level that was active from A.D. 600 to 1000 and had a population of about 1,000 to 2,000. According to Williams, excavations started in 1989 and about five years ago, archeologists uncovered evidence that the Wari consumed chicha.
Williams said scholars believe that the elite members of the Wari Empire who lived in the city hosted large gatherings. They invited subordinates from throughout the empire, which stretched from northern Peru to southern Peru, roughly the distance from New York to Jacksonville, Fla.
"People were being rewarded for service to the state," said Williams. "They feel like they are being rewarded by being invited to these drinking festivities."
Williams said these gatherings may have been particularly important because they served as a means of incorporating diverse groups of people who may have spoken different languages into a "single political structure."
Archeologists found fire pits fueled with animal dung that were apparently used to boil water and other ingredients such as fruits, grains and pepper tree seeds. The liquid was then transferred from the ceramic vats into fermenting jars.
The last gathering was likely the most memorable. According to scientists, when the Wari decided to abandon the complex they held elaborate closing rites at the ceremonial drinking halls and brewing facilities, then set the whole place on fire. Later, elaborate drinking vessels were thrown into the charred remains of the halls.
"They knew they were pulling out and they had a big bonfire," said Field Museum spokesman Greg Borzo.
Unknown, said Williams, is why Cerro Baul and other Wari cities were abandoned after this last gathering, but there is evidence that it was in part due to internal strife and natural disasters.
My guess would be that the head of the brewery decided to run for the Senate, and that conservatives frowned at his brewing chica, so he decided to give it up.
SNAKES! WHY DOES IT ALWAYS HAVE TO BE SNAKES?, asked well-known archeologist Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones, Jr., today.
An ancient walled city complex inhabited some 1,300 years ago by a culture later conquered by the Incas has been discovered deep in Peru's Amazon jungle, explorers said on Tuesday.
U.S. and Peruvian explorers uncovered the city, which may have been home to up to 10,000 people, after a month trekking in Peru's northern rain forest and following up on years of investigation about a possible lost metropolis in the region.
The stone city, made up of five citadels at 9,186 feet above sea level, stretches over around 39 square miles and contains walls covered in carvings and figure paintings, exploration leader Sean Savoy told Reuters.
"It is a tremendous city ... containing areas with stone etchings and 10-meter (33-foot) high walls," said Savoy, who had to hack through trees and thick foliage to finally reach the site on Aug. 15.
Covered in matted tree branches and interspersed with lakes and waterfalls, the settlement sites also contain well-preserved graveyards with mummies with teeth "in almost perfect condition," Savoy said.
Replete with stone agricultural terraces and water canals, the city complex is thought to have been home to the little-known Chachapoyas culture.
According to early accounts by Spanish conquistadors who arrived in Peru in the early 1500s, the Chachapoyas were a fair-skinned warrior tribe famous for their tall stature. Today they are known for the giant burial coffins sculpted into human figures found in the northern jungle region.
Savoy said his team also found an Inca settlement within the city complex that could prove theories the Chachapoyas were conquered by the Incas, who ruled an area stretching from Ecuador to northern Chile between 1300 and 1500.
Savoy, a Peruvian-American, accompanied on the expedition by his U.S. father, Gene Savoy, named the site Gran Saposoa after the nearby village Saposoa and his team has already mapped the area with preliminary drawings.
The discovery is the third notable ruin Gene Savoy has helped uncover in Peru. In 1964, Savoy found the site of the Incas' last refuge in the Cuzco region of southern Peru. A year later he took part in the discovery of the sacred city of Gran Pajaten in northern Peru.
You know, just every day stuff. Happens all the time to archeologists. Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along.
NON-GIANT ROBOTS FROM JAPAN. This dynamic link also won't last, but we read:
TOKYO — Seiko Epson Corp said Wednesday it has developed a more advanced successor to its flying micro-robot, the world's smallest and lightest. The new model features fully wireless control and has two tiny ultrasonic motors that drive two propellers in opposite directions for lift.
Epson said the model, which is about 136 millimeters wide, 85 mm tall and weighs 8.6 grams without the battery, will be on display at a fair to be held Aug 27-30 at the Tokyo International Forum. (Kyodo News)
It comes complete with two big-eyed children!
In other Japanese robot news, we have combat robots! Yeah, baby, yeah!
The 2004 Robo-One contest, held in Kawasaki, central Japan on 8 August, drew hundreds of spectators. The event is inspired by the sport K-1, a combination of kick-boxing other martial arts that is popular in Japan.
But the contestants are remote controlled robots constructed and operated by robotics enthusiasts and experts. Robots battle it out one-on-one for the title of overall Robot-One champion. In each bout a winner is declared if a robot is unable to stand within ten seconds of falling over, or if one freezes up or falls from the fighting platform.
The competition also includes a frenetic multi-robot brawl known simply as "The Rumble". Eight robots scrap it out with the last one standing declared the winner.
Videos posted to the tournament web site show the sophistication and agility of the robots competing this year. One video, captured by Japanese service here (3.90MB MPEG) shows a large robot pummelling a smaller contestant and flexing its arms in celebration.
Footage of The Rumble (3.48MB MPEG) shows eight robots with various fighting techniques battling it out. For example, one wields a knife while others use martial arts moves.
Some day there will be no more human war; only robot war, and we shall all pick flowers and sing.