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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
THANKS muchly to whomever it is in Savage, Missouri, who has now sent three care packages in recent days. You can stop now, though, as thanks to many who donated money over the past couple of weeks, and immense thanks to you all, I'm okay through at least the beginning of February on all reasonable expenses, food, and rent. That is, donations are still gratefully accepted, as ever, so long as I have no stable or regular income, but mailing cans of food isn't necessary (I'll try donating the evaporated milk and some others to the food bank, although my past experience is that they won't take cans that are past their sell-by date; I did get your last note saying you'd just ). The palm-sized plastic radio was a nice touch, though, but I have no sure idea what I'm supposed to do with the black velvety cloth velcro thingie; is it a eye-covering for sleeping? In any case, the thought and effort are vastly appreciated!
It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.
Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes “too far” in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.
“These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous,” said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. “Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation’s future.”
The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says.
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97 percent of teachers and 99 percent of school principals said yes. Only 83 percent of students did.
The results reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn’t know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.
Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It’s not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can’t.
“Schools don’t do enough to teach the First Amendment. Students often don’t know the rights it protects,” Linda Puntney, executive director of the Journalism Education Association, said in the report. “This all comes at a time when there is decreasing passion for much of anything. And, you have to be passionate about the First Amendment.”
The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, nearly 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.
Trust the government and the courts to know what we should be allowed to say, and lock up those who say bad things! It's the only way to be safe!
LET ME EXPLAIN RELATIVITY TO YOU, PROFESSOR EINSTEIN. Greg Benford fooled me for about a minute with this alleged review of a book about Einstein's "found" notebooks with a secret code, revealing his little-known interest in science fiction, but the April 1st date of alleged publication raised my doubts to a near-certainty, confirmed by a few second's Googling, including an earlier publication of the same piece in the April 1st edition of Locus ("by Ben Gory Gerdorf").
It's still rather amusing, though, if not as much so if you credulously thought it might be real for a brief moment. :-) (This shopping page seems to believe the book is real.)
CHIP DELANY ON "GENRE." I quote myself quoting Chip on rec.arts.sf.fandom on Usenet in 2000, so I can more easily find this again in the future (I've slightly reformatted it from my original Usnet posting for ease of reading in this post):
Damon Knight's Pointing (was Re: Hugo results!)
So I was casually listening to Jim Freund's Hour of the Wolf sf [radio] show, finding myself awake this a.m., and listening to his cuts of the new (or is it still upcoming, did he say, in January?; I fear my attention beyond the music was less than rapt) Steeleye Span album, and Jim gave me cause to wander past his website, www.hourwolf.com, and my eye was caught by a selection from a chat with Chip Delany that seems to me apposite to Damon's quotation. It also pretty well mirrors the approach I've always taken to the "definition of sf" question, which I can, on infrequent occasion, find mildly entertaining, and on extremely rare occasion, edifying, but, possibly due to excessive early exposure since childhood, have, as a rule, overwhelmingly found boring.
[UPDATE, August 31st, 2009: Link to http://www.eventhorizon.com has now rotted and been removed; the whole site is long gone, sigh]:
Until fairly recently, by that I mean 6 or 7 yrs ago, the fanzines you saw were peppered with all sorts of terminology that had its origins in Stalinist lit-crit of the 30s. The rest of academia had gone on from that, but no one had ever told US there was anything wrong with that stuff. This by the way is the reason that the first question anyone in fandom who wants to be serious about science fiction asks is, "What is your definition of science fiction?" This is not an innocent objective question ordained by God and self-evidently logical. It is was ALL leftist critics were asking of various genres in the 1930s. We just never got out of the habit. It happens to be a silly question and unanswerable.. and in other genres no one asks it today! But it is not a sign of our purity. Only of our isolation.
[. . .]
I wanted to follow up on your comment that a "definition" of sf is a silly endeavor, and unanswerable. By that do you mean that we shouldn't use these genre terms? If we can't define them in any reasonable way, of what use are they?
If you mean define "definition." No that term can be defined. What can not be defined are genres. You can't define poetry, the novel, tragedy, pornography, comics... and you cannot define academic criticism either. Now, you can describe all of them in perfectly useful ways. You can describe them so people can recognize them. So that particular provisional job that you have to do can get done. You just can not specify their necessary and sufficient conditions. So there are no root examples, no borderline cases. With different descriptions, different borderlines come into being. I think the genre or at least genre criticism, might take a major step forward if it simply threw out the term "definition." The term "description," would do perfectly well. The point is, if someone asks you, "How would you "describe" science fiction," the proper answer is: "For what particular purpose do you want this description?" This is not the mood in which the question "How do you define sf?" gets asked.
The assumption there is that there exists an absolute description, necessary, sufficient, that will do for every case. For every job you might want to do. It's that transcendent absolutism in allits imperialistic arrogance that today's literary theory is trying to get away from.
Is this sort of like the Platonic idea, that you can't define "chair" but you can describe a chair well enough so that others can recognize one?
Rob, well, the Platonic idea is, of course, at least as Plato had it in mind, was that there did exist some absolute concept of "chairness". The more provisional notion is precisely what Plato wanted to get away from. It was too changeable, too ephemeral, too primitive and for Plato the changeable, ephemeral, the impermanent, were one with the bad... only what was immutable and eternal was identified with the good and the beautiful. Yes, living in the provisional world, the contingent world of Derrida and Davidson undercuts lots of authorities if not the concept of authority itself, but that's the one we've got to deal with.
But it seems that a definition is certainly possible and even warranted. If you settle for the term science fiction, then you'd somehow expect an expansion of current scientific theory to be promoted in the literature (for as many nebulous reasons as science itself exists); if you adopt Harlan Ellison's "speculative fiction" tag, then you'd somehow expect there to be some message (theme?) attached to the speculation. What do you see as your purpose, if any, writing sf?
Well, the only problem there is your belief that you are giving a definition, it is a perfectly good description, to be a definition it would have to be an absolute that answers all question about sf and nothing, no linguistic construct can. I want to throw together some interesting ideas, some interesting images, organized in such a way as to make you think and, of course to feel a little bit, too.
And now Jim is starting a reading of a Sheckley short story. . . .
Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5, though you might want to read the follow-up comments, if you're interested.
(Note deeply important change in my mental style sheet: I used to put spaces between the dots in my ellipses online; nowadays I use no spaces! Radical, eh!)
I was stimulated to find this again by John Holbo's post here.
UPDATE, August 31st, 2009, 8:39 p.m.: The Google Groups/Usenet link is now rotted, as well. Good idea I blogged this.
You can actually find a link via a Google Groups search confirming this post was made, but the link remains broken. Google never was very good at maintaining its Usenet archive, after buying it from Alta Vista. Say, remember Alta Vista?
For the record, the thread was:
Damon Knight's Pointing (was Re: Hugo results!) rec.arts.sf.fandom - 1898 posts - 158 authors - Last post: Sep 30, 2000
I do worry sometimes, as Justin worries, that what makes it all valuable and generative also increasingly afflicts me in a real, lived, everyday context with intellectual and emotional aphasia, that I am constantly transformed and affected by relationships with are entirely in my own head as far as everyone around me is concerned.
Of course you are constantly transformed and affected by relationships which are entirely in your own head as far as everyone around you is concerned, Timothy!
And it has nothing whatever to do with being online or offline. It simply is the way we, as conscious human beings, are. Not solipsistic, but nonetheless trapped inside of our heads&bodies, communicating with others outside them by mechanisms (words, expressions, gestures, body language, behavior, creations), not pure telepathy or mass consciousness.
It's not something to worry about insofar as there seems, at present with our contemporary technology and understanding, at least, nothing much we can do about this, save to strive to learn to use our communication mechanisms as best as possible, both in making connections with the people we desire to, and in trying our best to understand, and give ourselves the best possible tools to understand, what other people are trying to say.
I don't think this is in the slightest a question about online vs. offline. But, then, I generally find highly questionable most suggestions that there is some sort of drastic or major dichotomy between the world of being online, and the rest of the world. The online is, in my view, quite clearly and indubitably, as much "the real world" as anything else is. It's precisely as much between people, as well as only inside our heads, as is the rest of our world, it seems to me.
I have to say right off that the Solomon feature drives me crazy. 90% of the time her questions seem to be literally deliberately thick-headed and wacky, as well as being frequently down-right stupid. She seems to choose to channel a badly disturbed six-year-old in her choice of questions. Why the editor of the Magazine finds this entertaining, I have no idea.
Add to that the fact that most people are completely clueless as to how the Magazine is, for most intents and purposes and facts, an entirely separate production from the New York Times newspaper; they have separate editors, distinct offices, different rules, and other distinctions; but this is entirely obscured to most because of the name, distribution, and some very limited overlap of writers, which has been largely exemplified solely by William Safire (and now that connection has finally been slashed).
So this results in a gazillion blog posts linking to Solomon and then ranting about the stupidity or bias or what-have-you of the NY Times, which is completely off-target, but endlessly tedious to read in blogs.
I do dearly wish they'd fire Solomon, or if she has some other, less visible, talent, put her somewhere she'd show it.
Having said that, Anderson is as amusing as usual:
Whom is your art intended for?
I think I do my work for some sadder version of myself, a woman who would be sitting in Row K. I am trying to make her laugh.
Although your show is headed for the hip Brooklyn Academy of Music next month, it relates to the fashion for one-person shows that are now flourishing on Broadway and overshadowing boisterous musicals.
I have never seen more than four minutes of a Broadway musical. I went to see ''Cats,'' and that is the closest I have ever come to a nervous breakdown.
Have you ever been psychoanalyzed?
No. I started a couple of times, but then I had to leave for the airport.
At 57, do you worry about aging and wrinkles?
Not really. I think some prunish people look pretty good. I am more worried about turning into a schlump than into a prune.
How would you define a schlump?
A schlump is someone who doesn't care about anything and who is just protecting their own turf, which is getting smaller and more meaningless, and then they disappear.
In Chicago last weekend, Dr. Frenchak joined a gathering of 20 Christians, mostly evangelicals, to produce a book defining moral values to include a focus on poverty. At the meeting, one man held up a Bible from which he had cut every verse that addressed poverty. "There was hardly anything left," Dr. Frenchak said. "He said, 'I challenge anyone in the room to take their Bible and cut out every verse about abortion or gay marriage, and we'll compare Bibles.'"
This is one of many reasons I have no interest in beating up on religion, per se.
WHO DOESN'T LOOK FORWARD TO BEING OLD AND POOR after reading this?
Others, when their assets are gone, will go to nursing homes, which charge 40 percent more on average [than the assisted living facilities the article is primarily about] but accept government reimbursement.
So, policy in the U.S. is that the government will pay for you to live in an absolute shithole horrshow nursing home, which costs 40% more than a merely dreadful asssisted living facility, which the government won't pay for.
Most states in the last few years have begun small, experimental programs that permit Medicaid to pay a portion of the cost of assisted living: the personal care and medical services that are tacked on to the monthly charge, but not the rent itself. Nationwide, according to a 2002 study by the National Academy for State Health Policy, 102,000 assisted living residents, or 11 percent of the total, received this benefit, double the number in 2000. But rarely is it enough to allow people to stay in an apartment for more than a few extra months.
That is because of the traditional fee structure in assisted living. At Atria Stratford, for example, a studio costs $3,400 with no special services. Medication management adds $400 a month. Help bathing, dressing or eating can cost an additional $1,400 a month, for a total of $5,200. Of that amount $1,800 would be covered by Medicaid if Atria participated in Connecticut's tiny waiver program. It does not.
Statewide, Mr. Vail said, there are 9,800 assisted living units and only 75 Medicaid waiver slots. So he advises families to calculate when their money will run out and move before that point, since nursing homes, if they have a high enough percentage of Medicaid patients, can push those with assets to the top of the waiting list.
Can anyone make anything even vaguely resembling a coherent argument for this policy of Medicaid paying for nursing homes, but not cheaper assisted living? Surprise me.
THE FREE SPEECH THING. Anyone who knows me at all, or has read much of my writings knows where I stand on this, but it doesn't hurt to say so again and again, from time to time.
One Sunday in the summer of 2003, the Rev. Ake Green, a Pentecostal pastor, stepped into the pulpit of his small church in the southern Swedish village of Borgholm. There, the 63-year-old clergyman delivered a sermon denouncing homosexuality as "a deep cancerous tumor in the entire society" and condemning Sweden's plan to allow gays to form legally recognized partnerships.
"Our country is facing a disaster of great proportions," he told the 75 parishioners at the service. "Sexually twisted people will rape animals," Green declared, and homosexuals "open the door to forbidden areas," such as pedophilia.
With these words, which the local newspaper published at his request, Green ran afoul of Sweden's strict laws against hate speech. He was indicted, convicted and sentenced to 30 days in jail. He remains free pending appeal.
On Wednesday last week, about 200 people gathered outside the courthouse in the southern city of Jonkoping to voice support for Green during his first appeal. Many who showed up were homosexuals who said while they disagreed vehemently with what the pastor said, they defended his right to say it.
Albeit it is not for me to tell Swedes what laws they should or should not have, I, too, would defend the right of anyone to voice an opinion, no matter how hateful or disgusting, so long as it does not cross a line of inciting immediate or specific violence.
Not so, say supporters of the law. In their view, the issue is stopping people -- whether or not they are pastors -- from promoting intolerance of gays and lesbians.
"Ake Green is only using his religion to say very bad things about gay and lesbian people as a group," said Soren Andersson, president of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights.
"If you look at his speech, and take away the word 'gay' and put in the word 'Jew,' you have a different picture.
"I don't think it's okay to say those things about Jews," Andersson said. "But when it comes to gays and lesbians, it's okay? Why? . . . This is about people -- it's about living people who are already treated very badly here."
And people need to be able to live with mere words, no matter how awful and upsetting. Is it "okay"? No. Should it be legal? All I can say is that I don't want to live somewhere where it isn't, somewhere that criminalizes speech, including saying dreadful things about Jews, says this Jew.
Sticks and stones. Sticks and stones. When actual violence occurs, laws worth upholding are broken. (Usual exemptions regarding libel, copyright violations, and incitement to violence go here.)
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5. Tangential note: I recently saw the uncut version of West Side Story for the first time in decades, as opposed to the edited version shown on U.S. broadcast tv; I had completely forgotten how the preliminaries to singing "I Like To Be In America" include numerous repetitions of the epithets "spic" and "polack."
1/29/2005 04:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
Chimpanzees will tolerate unfair treatment, as long as it benefits someone they know well, say US researchers. This is the first time such behaviour has been demonstrated outside the human race.
Sarah Brosnan and Frans de Waal, primatologists at Emory University in Atlanta, gave chimpanzees a piece of plastic and rewarded them for giving it back. If a subject is given a paltry payoff, such as a cucumber slice or celery stick, and it can see another getting a grape, the short-changed ape refuses to cooperate.
But the strength of each chimpanzee's response depends on its social life. Those that had lived together for more than 30 years ignored the unequal treatment; whereas animals from a group formed eight years ago and pairs of chimpanzees reacted strongly, the researchers report in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B1.
Meanwhile, elsewhere we learn that Monkeys Pay to See Female Monkey Bottoms: (I have to seriously note the sexism in the headline, since there seems to be no indications that female monkeys are so interested, and, yet, I am under the -- admittedly vague -- impression that female monkeys are actually, in fact, also monkeys.)
A new study found that male monkeys will give up their juice rewards in order to ogle pictures of female monkey's bottoms. The way the experiment was set up, the act is akin to paying for the images, the researchers say.
The rhesus macaque monkeys also splurged on photos of top-dog counterparts, the high-ranking primates. Maybe that's like you or me buying People magazine.
The research, which will be detailed in the March issue of Current Biology, gets more interesting.
The scientists actually had to pay these guys, in the form of extra juice, to get them to look at images of lower-ranking monkeys.
Curiously, the monkeys in the test hadn't had any direct physical contact with the monkeys in the photos, so they didn't have personal experience with who was hot and who was not.
"So, somehow, they are getting this information by observation -- by seeing other individuals interact," said Michael Platt of the Duke University Medical Center.
Next, Platt and his colleagues want to see how people will perform in a similar experiment.
I'm just guessing here, but my suspicion is that not so many humans are interested in monkey bottoms, regardless of gender on either side. I could, of course, be wrong.
"At the moment, it's only a tantalizing possibility, but we believe that similar processes are at work in these monkeys and in people," Platt said.
The study, announced Friday, is far from monkey business. It was sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health and the Cure Autism Now Foundation. The goal is to learn more about the social machinery of the brain with an eye toward helping autism patients.
All very interesting, but I'm interested in getting in on some of that hot monkey pay: where do I sign up to get my grape? I'm even happy with cucumber slices. But if it's a celery stick, I say we strike until we get some dip!
From those humble beginnings, North Mississippi Medical Center has grown into the largest non-metropolitan hospital in the country, a booming enterprise with a complex of glass and marble buildings and 40 satellite clinics stretching into Alabama and Tennessee. The company, incorporated in Delaware, has nearly $300 million in the bank and "exceptional profitability," according to one Wall Street rating agency.
And it pays no taxes. As one of 4,800 nonprofit U.S. hospitals, North Mississippi Medical Center is exempt from federal, state and local taxes in return for providing care to "charity patients."
But when Gardner, who is uninsured and suffers from heart trouble, asked for more time to pay off a $4,500 bill, the response came in the form of a summons. The hospital sued him for the balance plus $1,100 in legal fees.
Now Gardner and hundreds like him are at the center of a nationwide battle over whether nonprofit hospitals -- often flush with cash, opulent buildings and high-paid executives -- are fulfilling their mission as charitable institutions. Since last spring, a phalanx of trial lawyers who made millions suing asbestos makers and tobacco companies have been targeting tax-exempt hospitals, accusing them of gouging the poor.
"I was paying the best I could," said Gardner, who on his $18,000-a-year cook's salary had managed to pay $1,000. "I'm not trying to run. At the end of that week I was going to pay them some more."
Forty-six suits have been filed in 22 states, including one against Virginia's Inova Health System, alleging the hospitals violate their tax-exempt status by charging uninsured patients the highest rates and employing abusive tactics to collect.
"Their goal is to discourage these uninsured patients from returning," said Richard F. Scruggs, the lead attorney. "If they paid taxes, I couldn't complain. But these hospitals are given freedom from taxation for doing something."
Included in the cases is a California hospital with $1 million in an offshore bank account, another in Louisiana that owns a luxury hotel and health clubs, and a Georgia hospital that flew its executives on private jets to meetings in the Cayman Islands and Florida's Amelia Island. Because private insurers and the government negotiate deep discounts for their clients, the uninsured are usually the only ones charged the list price -- up to six times as much as for insured patients.
For people such as Kathy Millican, 50, nothing has changed. After an emergency hysterectomy, she was flooded with bills totaling more than $11,600, she said. With her husband making $12 an hour hauling rocks, the best Millican and her mother-in-law could do was send in periodic checks for $50 or $100.
Bill collectors began calling at odd hours, suggesting she put it all on a credit card or deliver a bank note. After her second request for charity care, the hospital forgave $700 but added $1,000 in finance charges.
I recently read on ablog how lovely it is to live in Colorado, no matter, nay, because of the TABOR Amendment to the State Constitution, which sets a cap on tax revenues equal to revenue from the prior year multiplied by a growth factor which includes the rate of inflation.
It is undoubtedly a coincidence that Colorado is one of the few U.S. States in which the amount of Medicaid -- medical treatment paid by the State and Federal governments together -- given to single male adults is: zero. Nada. Zip. None. No matter what. Absolutely nothing. (Some benefits are available if you are a parent.)
Some needy Colorado families will have to wait until May or June for the welfare benefits they should have received this fall, say county officials still wrestling with a new computer system for processing applications.
Workers are giving emergency food stamps to families in greatest need, "but we're having problems getting those through the system, too," Katrina Seymour, spokeswoman for Arapahoe County Social Services, said Friday.
As the backlog of Medicaid applications grows, workers are asking families if their medical problems are emergencies, so they can be moved to the top of the list.
Thousands of others wait.
"Our cases are piling up," Seymour said. Her agency has received 4,300 new applications for aid since Sept. 1 and has processed just 900 of them. The county hopes to finish the backlog by June.
But we do feel terribly free here. It's great!
I'm just saying. (We're free to move to other states, of course, though ill people with no money should have no trouble doing so; hey, one can always hike to California.)
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 on the WashPo story. Scruggs, by the way, is both the lawyer whose successful lawsuit against Big Tobacco was portrayed in the movie The Insider, and the brother-in-law of Trent Lott. One wonders, slightly, what holiday family gatherings are like for them.
1/29/2005 03:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
A NON-LEFTY OBSERVATION ON LITTLE GREEN FOOTBALLS is made by Von, with appropriate links, which were, of course, immediately duly blocked by the proprietor, and then duly re-linked.
As a rule, I try not to kick other bloggers, but as an untoward number of reasonable people still read, and apparently respect, LGF (which I, myself, did respect and link to initially in late '01 and early '02), I provide this link for your own consideration and appraisal.
Hayek's deepest economic insight was that the basic function of free market prices is informational.... They reflect the sum total of the inherently dispersed information about the supply and demand of millions of distinct individuals for each product. Free market prices give us our only access to this information.... This is why centralized economic planning is doomed to failure.... It's a short step from this core insight about prices to their failure to track any coherent notion of moral desert. Claims of desert are essentially backward-looking.... Free market prices are essentially forward-looking. Current prices send signals to producers as to where the demand is now.... [C]apitalism is constantly pulling the rug out from underneath even the most thoughtful, foresightful, and prudent production plans of individual agents... individuals cannot count on their virtue being rewarded in the free market. For the function of the market isn't to reward people for past good behavior. It's to direct them toward producing for current demand, regardless of what they did in the past....
Hayek focused on... any attempt to regulate people's rewards according to judgments of how much they morally deserve would destroy liberty. It would involve the state in making detailed, intrusive judgments of how well people used their liberty, and penalize them for not exercising their liberty in the way the state thinks best. This is no way to run a free society....
Several implications follow.... (a) The claim "I deserve my pretax income" is not generally true.... (b) The claim that people rocked by the vicissitudes of the market... are getting what they deserve is also not generally true.... It is in principle impossible for even the most prudent to forsee all the market turns that could undo them. (If it were possible, then efficient socialist planning would be possible, too. But it isn't.)... (d) The volatility of capitalist markets creates a profound and urgent need for insurance, over and above the insurance needs people would have under more stable (but stagnant) economic systems. This need is increased also by the fact that capitalism inspires a love of personal independence.... This fact does not yet clinch the case for social insurance... maybe private insurance would do a better job meeting people's needs for insurance in the event of unemployment, disability, loss of a household earner, sickness, and old age.... [But] no argument that people have a moral claim to their pretax incomes, sufficient to preclude taxing it for insurance purposes, has survived critical scrutiny. Certainly, "I deserve it" doesn't.
Words by Ms. Anderson; isn't it marvelous what happens when I elide on top of Brad's elisions?
I think what clinches the case for "social" insurance is the obvious fact that not everyone can afford private insurance, and someone has to pay to at least cart away the bodies of those who wind up dead as a result, lest the effect on public health be unpleasant for all. My radical theory is that it's cheaper for all, on average, to chip in for some preventative treatment, and food and shelter, before cheap starvation and highly expensive epidemic; since, of course, not everyone will agree to do so, it becomes necessary pour encourager les autres to hold the jackbooted thugs in a ready room, just as said thugs are necessary for enforcement of other "laws," as we so amusingly call them. Those who do not care for this are as completely free to opt out and go elsewhere as they are free to earn an income, or fail to do so.
(I've been struck since adolescence, which is when I first encountered libertarians such as Samuel Edward Konklin III at sf conventions circa 1973, when I was 14, at the standard libertarian worship of Robert Heinlein -- and I happen to agree with a number of libertarian ideas, and hold a selective admiration for Heinlein, whom I met twice -- and yet the seemingly common libertarian disregard for the point of his short story "Coventry".)
Many blame the deterioration of sex chat on the influx of AOL members exploring IRC for the first time, thanks to the newfangled web-based user interfaces. It was "pretty much the universal death knell of some of the big hangouts, as if a half-thousand Paris Hiltons suddenly showed up to the best party ever," wrote Garrett, a Sex Drive reader.
Still, he says, "nerds being nerds, there's always a solid group that knows enough about the technology to stay just outside the mainstream." That's where the good cyber is thriving, beyond the reach of the newbies, the opportunists, the clueless and the bots.
I should have known that the best cyber occurs in games: MUDs, MUCKs and MMORPGs, oh my.
Role-playing games attract people with strong imaginations and the ability to evolve a fantasy over a long period of time. And even online, there's nothing solitary about an RPG. To make the fantasy complete, you must interact with others in a shared adventure of the mind.
If you can do all that, you can probably cyber with the best.
But even if you join a game for the sole purpose of cybersex -- which I don't recommend -- you will not be able to sustain yourself in the game world long enough to find the good stuff. Because good cyber, like good sex, arises out of a relationship.
You need to get a sense for each other's timing, the style of banter that gets the most response, and in a game world, the kinds of fantasy that turn each of you on.
Oh, darn. Back to hookers, I guess. So thanks to those who recently donated to me!
[...] For non-gamers, blogs may be the modern gathering place for like-minded individuals to find one another. Devlon, a Sex Drive reader, wrote to tell me that he has found cyber through his blog. "You can browse through a person's blog, get a taste (for who they are). There can be flirting through comments to entries, and then private messages that can get very hot," he says.
I've clearly yet to get the hang of this "blogging" thing after more than three years. I bet it works for Giblets, though!
DEY ARE NO MATCH FOR DROY-DEKKARS! Continuing our mindless worship of George Lucas as we lead up to the premiere of Revenge of The Sith in May, we note this:
A spherical roving robot designed to detect and report intruders has been developed by a Swedish start-up company.
The design was first developed with planetary exploration in mind, at the Ångström Space Technology Center, part of Uppsala University, Sweden. But Rotundus, formed in December 2004 plan to market the ball-shaped bot as an automated security guard.
"We knew it would have applications on Earth," says company CEO Nils Hulth. "It is very robust when compared to robots that use wheels or tracks and can travel through mud or even snow."
A short video (14.5MB mpeg) on the company's website demonstrates the robot's ability to navigate through snow.
Ultimately, the company hopes to make the robot virtually autonomous. It is currently developing a radar sensor to allow it to navigate around obstacles and motion-sensing software to automatically detect an intruder.
Other robots being developed could be much better suited to indoor tasks, however. For example, researchers at Case Western University in Cleveland, US, are working on insect-inspired bots that can overcome irregular surfaces and steps.
These robots use a combination of wheels and legs to scramble over terrain and are therefore dubbed "whegs". A video (35MB mpeg) of various whegs in action reveals a form of locomotion akin to that of a large insect.
The latest Mini Whegs have also been given a mechanism that allows them to leap up a small step, as another video (0.7MB mov) made by the team shows.
If you prefer to chat with a bot, by the way, try here.
And does it surprise anyone that it may be that the Web and Google may be the key breakthroughs that will lead to AI?
The most powerful magnetic objects in the universe - rare stars called magnetars - are created by the titanic explosions of very heavy stars, new research has revealed.
Observations of a gas bubble surrounding one magnetar showed astronomers that the star is 30 to 40 times the mass of the Sun. That puts it at the top end of the range of star sizes, and explains why magnetars are so rare. Since the first discovery in 1998, astronomers have confirmed only 11 magnetars, most of them in our own galaxy, the Milky Way.
Researchers had suspected that magnetars are created by supernova explosions. However, when a star explodes, a collapsed neutron star is the usual product - not a magnetar. Some neutron stars spin at rates up to 600 revolutions per second and emit short bursts of radio waves on each turn - these are called pulsars.
But magnetars spin much faster, up to 1000 times a second, and emit gamma-ray flashes. This spinning generates their powerful magnetic fields - a million billion times stronger than Earth's. The new work indicates this rapid spin is the result of the massive size of the parent star.
Is it just me, or does saying "a million billion" sound a lot like a child trying to come up with a Rilly Big Number? The fact that this is reality is, however, fabulous, if not morally so.
"The surprising thing is how big this bubble is," Gaensler says. "It's huge. The Sun's bubble is a tiny fraction of a light year across. This thing is dozens of light years across."
He says the magnetar he studied could have initially been part of a binary system, but when one of the stars exploded, it may have kicked the other off into space.
MORAL FABULOUSNESS. I don't recall ever touting a Peggy Noonan column before, but this one and this even stronger follow-up are extradordinary in the slaps they take at the President.
A week later, do I stand by my views?
Yes. If I wrote it today I wouldn't be softer, but harder.
Why don't I see the speech as so many others do, as a thematic and romantic statement of what we all hope for, world freedom? Don't we all want that?
Yes. But words have meaning. To declare that it is now the policy of the United States to eradicate tyranny in the world, that we are embarking on the greatest crusade in the history of freedom, and that the survival of American liberty is dependent on the liberty of every other nation--seemed to me, and seems to me, rhetorical and emotional overreach of the most embarrassing sort.
Refrain from breast beating, and don't clobber the world over the head with your moral fabulousness.
The temperature of our world is very high. We face trouble that is already here. We don't have to summon more.
And we must do nothing that provides our foes with ammunition with which they can accuse us of conceit, immaturity or impetuousness
Two years ago, after watching a series of rather too jocular and arguably too boastful news conferences from administration leaders on the coming war, I said that they seemed to be suffering from mission inebriation. I meant it. And meant it as a caution. The White House can be a hothouse. Emotions run high, tired minds run on adrenal fumes. When I said last week that they seemed again to be suffering from mission inebriation, I meant that too.
As for criticizing Mr. Bush on something so big, that's why I did it: It's big. And so important. When you really disagree, you have to say so. In the end I found the president's thinking perplexing and disturbing. At any rate, in the end, as Jack Kennedy once said, "Sometimes party loyalty asks too much."
Bill Buckley and David Gelertner suggest the speech was badly written. Isn't that really the essential problem?
No. It was badly thought.
Myself, I'm fairly sure we've never before had an Inaugural Address followed immediately by all the President's spokespeople swearing up and down that, no, really, he didn't mean anything by it, and policy was remaining exactly as it has always been, no matter what he, you know, said. Just kidding!
One technique that C.I.A. officers could use under certain circumstances without fear of prosecution was strapping a subject down and making him experience a feeling of drowning.
That's the "dehydrated" form of "water-boarding" apparently being described, in which it would appear that no actual water need be involved, let alone, you know, forced and suffused into your lungs so that you can't -- how do we say? -- can't breath.
What does Michael Chertoff, the nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security think?
In responding, Mr. Chertoff's division said that whether the techniques were not allowed depended on the standards outlined in an August 2002 memorandum from the Office of Legal Counsel that has since been disclosed and which defined torture narrowly. That memorandum, signed by Jay S. Bybee, then the head of the legal counsel's office, said inflicted pain, for example, qualified as torture only if it was of a level equivalent to organ failure or imminent death.
The officials said that when the agency asked about specific practices, Mr. Bybee responded with a second memorandum, which is still classified. They said it said many coercive practices were permissible if they met the narrow definition in the first memorandum.
The officials said Mr. Chertoff was consulted on the second memorandum, but Ms. Healy of the White House said he had no role in it.
One might muse upon the small question of who's lying, but I would not be so uncharitable, as I am infused with the warm glow reached by contemplating the famous joys of pain equivalent to organ failure or imminent death being administered by the U.S. government and our still extant policy of keeping secret what "coercive practices" are "permissible."
The defense of this secrecy is, of course, that if described, future prisoners will have a better idea of what to expect and what the limits are and thus can hold out longer; such an argument can be discussed genteelly by well-bred people since, of course, such "coercive practices" would never be used against you.
Or your mother, or your son, or your niece, or grandfather, or beloved spouse.
Only guilty people need worry -- that's the principle America was founded on, and we can all be proud of that. Trust your government with proper administration of torture -- it's the American way!
I am informed that Genl. Putnam sent down Major Stockton, taken upon Rariton, to Philadelphia in Irons, and that he continues in strict confinement. I think we ought to avoid putting in practice, what we have so loudly complained of, the cruel treatment of Prisoners. I therefore desire, that if there is a necessity for confinement, that it may be made as easy and comfortable as possible, to Major Stockton and his Officers. This Man, I believe, has been very active and mischeivous, but we took him in Arms, as an Officer of the Enemy, and by the Rules of War we are obliged to treat him as such, not as a Felon.
Wimp. Wuss. Big 'ol softy. What a kidder, that George Washington, on March 10, 1777. Fortunately, the United States of America was in no existential danger then.
Today is different. We must strike fear into the hearts (and lungs) of our enemies! (That we strike fear into everyone else is no matter! The right to strike fear into the good and innocent around the world is the right to be free! Fear brings freedom!)
IF ONLY IT TURNS OUT TO BE TRUE! I may find a reason to go on living after all! (No, don't that as other than figurative.)
Rumble is former Republican U.S. Senate candidate/nightmare Alan Keyes is eyeing a bid for governor.
Let us pray for deliverance.
Keyes, whose religious and political views give moderate GOPers the shakes, is not only back . . . he's conducting the first meeting of his "Cook County United" gathering of 40 to 50 of Cook County's best conservative activists in his Loop office tonight!
Run, Alan, run! Illinois needs you! The Republican Party needs you! We all need you. You put the "loon" in "lunatic," and bring joy to politics! You have the Keyes to our hearts! Run!
Jeff Tweiten lives on a periwinkle blue, fold-out futon on the sidewalk in front of the Cinerama Theatre.
He is not homeless, but camping out for 139 days. Waiting.
For Godot, you wonder? An organ transplant? The end of the world?
Tweiten is waiting for "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith," which opens May 19.
Just who is this sidewalk Skywalker wearing sunglasses and a wool pea coat?
Tweiten is a 27-year-old graphic artist who grew up on Bainbridge Island and attended the Art Institute of Seattle. Before moving to the street, he dwelled in a Belltown apartment. To make ends meet, he also makes ceramic raku masks, plays poker and picks up occasional odd jobs.
His life is not one big homage to "Star Wars," he says, and he has plenty of other interests, including classical music, modern dance, fine dining, dive bars, working out and reading about contemporary art.
But, what made him a bicoastal media darling was when he camped out at the Cinerama for "Star Wars: Episode I" and "Episode II" -- director George Lucas' prequels to the original series.
He's been called a loser, a geek, a Peter Pan who refuses to grow up and get a life. A few days ago, someone called him a "bum" for the first time.
"I don't really care how people label me," Tweiten says. "If they are so narrow-minded and can only see that one aspect of me, I kind of pity them."
He sees worth in the waiting, especially in a culture that demands instant gratification.
"Coming out here and sitting and waiting -- embodying the anticipation -- I think people need to see that," Tweiten says. "Maybe they'll slow down. So many people are in such a hurry that they miss the savoring of time."
A whole community has developed around Tweiten's mission. His friends bring him changes of clothes, snacks and their company. Nearby businesses offer a bathroom, a shower or a warm cup of coffee. Passersby might laugh in amusement, shake their heads in wonder or strike up a conversation.
Tweiten's living room is right next to a bus stop, and every afternoon, the buses spew loud decibels and clouds of fumes at him.
Still, he says, "It feels more like home than any apartment I've ever lived in."
To pass the time, he writes in a journal, posts to his blog, chats on the phone and touches up old stories from past "Star Wars" campouts, in hopes that, perhaps, a book deal will be extended one day.
"I think I'm working the hardest I've ever worked."
He knows, from past experience, that in a few months, he will begin receiving 600 to 700 e-mails, and do seven to 10 radio interviews a day. Already, the interview calls start at 3:30 a.m., and he has appeared on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show on ABC.
In other words, though, this is indeed viewable as a gig. It's simply a rather original and unconventional sort of gig. And, with any luck, it will somehow payoff with something more positive than a stay in the mental ward.
While I'm waiting in line, I've got a lot of time to kill (yeah, I bet you didn't know that), and I spend some of my time creating cool new designs and the occasional slogan. As I create these designs, I'll put them up on my CafePress store in case any of you want to pick up a t-shirt, mug, stein, etc. with one of my designs.
...Jeff is Seattle's latest fixture: an odd mix of devotion, philosophy, and human spectacle. Most people, of course, think of this stunt as ridiculous, and the knee-jerk reaction is always to write him off as some type of lunatic fanatic.
I am writing to you because this is not the case, and someone with prominence in the science-fiction/fantasy community needs to take notice of him. Briefly: Jeff is not an attention-seeker or a local media hound, he will continue his wait with or without any recognition from the wider world....
Although this seems somewhat contradicted by the fact that Jeff knows precisely what sort of "recognition" is on the way -- as well as perhaps a few ducats from tee-shirts -- perhaps it is precisely true that Jeff would do this even with no recognition. Perhaps. Perhaps were that so, Jeff would refuse all interviews and publicity and sales opportunities. Perhaps not. Who could say? And not that there's anything wrong with either choice.
...rather, Jeff is someone who, as odd as it may seem to conventional society, feels deeply motivated by the idea of "waiting" for things of value, and in a consumer driven, materialistic culture he sees as spiritually drained, this is where he's putting his time and energy down as a worthy investment. All Star Wars fans are moved by how these films capture mythic themes of heroism, discipline, and inner strength, but I would wager that very few of them have been as thoroughly transformed by these ideals as Jeff Tweiten.
Perhaps so. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is time for a parallel movie to Trekkies 1 & 2. Here, though, are the two parts of the story that most impress me:
Jeff's genius comes not only from his talent, but from that unique ability to truly transcend the opinions of contemporary society in his path to let imagination re-create him. I recognize that this still sounds like a raving fanboy at best, and a complete lunatic at worst, but here's the proof that Jeff's the real thing. Are you ready? JEFF WAITED OUTSIDE IN LINE FOR A MOVIE FOR OVER FOUR MONTHS! And now he's at it again!! I don't think any of us can really have an accurate idea of what this entails. The elements, the mental and physical demands alone would surely weed out anyone who was simply crazy or posturing.
Impeccable logic. Anyway, in the face of Jeff's reaction to The Phantom Menace, Episode I, clearly hope springs eternal.
Waiting for months on the street to see a film, though, isn't precisely "waiting" in the same sense one usually waits on a line ("queue," for those of you who have the honour of going to theatres rather than theaters). The sense that, you know, someone might get in line befor you, making such a "wait" necessary. But clearly there are deeper issues at stake in this case. As his web page says:
Someone fantastic and funny is happening in our midst, and when we look back to tell the story ten years from now, do we want to be one of those ants who lacked vision and mocked him, or one of his fellow crickets who played the violin all winter with him, just out of the sheer joy of myth and fantasy?
A different choice, I make.
Read The Rest Scale: if you're interested, both links have other elements I found amusing, but you might not.
Footnotes: I lived for a year at 420 Vine St., only two blocks from the very wonderful Cinerama Theatre in Seattle's downtown Denny Regrade (a couple of blocks in the other direction from the remains of the 1962 World's Fair, which includes the Space Needle, all contemporaneous with the original Martin's Cinerama), and saw many films there; taking Amy Thomson to the press screening of Blade Runner with passes Vonda McIntyre had given me sticks in memory. I once sat through a ten film marathon there of 70 mm Cinerama Greats at the beginning of the Eighties, including Ben-Hur; 2001; How The West Was Won; It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World; Krakatoa, East of Java, and others. The whole thing lasted something like 35 hours or so; naturally, I packed a huge pack of food, and managed to stay awake for it all, although my companion slept through all of Ben-Hur, including that quiet little chariot race.
I had practice; at the end of 1974, just after I turned 16, I waited on line for something like 17 hours to get into the ten-film marathon of Columbia Picture's Ten Best for their 50th Anniversary celebration in NYC at one of the prestige Upper East Side theaters, partially to get in and get a good seat, but more because they were giving away prizes to the first on line, the first ten on line, and some others after that; I wound up third or fifth or so, and was interviewed for the first time in my life by The New York Times. Among the films were It Happened One Night, Dr. Strangelove, and His Girl Friday. Buddy Rich was playing that night (as he often did) at the nightclub next door, and you could hear the sound of his drums at deafening volume in the theater's men's room.
The Seattle Cinerama remains one of two places left in the world to see true Cinerama (the other being Pictureville Cinema at Bradford, England’s National Museum of Photography, Film and Television).
ICK, PTUI. I decided I had reason to look for the lyrics to another October Project song, regarding someone, but when I did, I found a lot of foul, gross, and disgusting replacements. How weird and ugly. Here are the correct lyrics to Paths of Desire: Here.
I have traveled the paths of desire
gathering flowers and carrying fire
Raising a grave to the reasons behind me
Looking for strength as you live to remind me
I'm drawn to you
I'm caught in you
I am the fly who dreams of the spider
The path to the web becomes deeper and wider
I dream of the silk that is tangled inside you
And know that I want to be somewhere beside you
I'm drawn to you
I'm caught in you
In your eyes
All of the promises
All the lies
Will you keep all the promises
In your eyes
I am crossing the bridges of sorrow
Empty with yearning and full of tomorrow
The river is high and the bridges are burning
I know I've been hurt but I keep on returning
I'm drawn to you
I'm caught in you
In your eyes
All of the promises
All the lies
Will you keep all of the promises
In your eyes
I have traveled the paths of desire
following smoke and remembering fire
The night is falling, the path is receding
I don't need to see it to know where it's leading
In your eyes
All of the promises
All the lies
Will you keep all of the promises
In your eyes
SONGS I'VE OVER-LISTENED TO, LATELY. I live with rather an under-access to music technology, though this is both extremely long-standing and in proportion with the rest of my life. For the last about-two-years, for the first time in a few years, I've had a CD-player, which would have meant more if I was able to afford more than six CDs (CDs have more or less never been in the budget in my life; the last time I had much of a music collection, they were LPs), a broken cassette-player (too bad, I have about twelve albums on tape), a radio which would work if I acquired an antenna, and the P1 computer with 40 megs of RAM, and a smallish hard drive, meaning I can risk downloading a few songs from file-sharing systems, if I want to risk it, or listen via old RealPlayer/WM software, if I'm willing to devote the computer to just that. All of which is background I shouldn't mention, but sometimes I do shake my head a little at the assumptions that, of course, everyone has an Ipod, modern computer, and now I'm shutting up.
Point I was going for was that I've been playing, of my extremely small selection of choice, a lot of October Project, having done the LimeWire thing a while ago for most of the first album, and wondered if anyone else knew them.
SEARCH.MSN.COM. In the past week or so, something seems to have been tweaked there, as I've been getting dozens and dozens of hits per hour from there, ever since, on an endless number of search terms, up from hardly any. Just to look at the latest via SiteMeter:
"peter pan play pictures"
"present leader of Cambodia"
"what does the oath of office mean"
"tidal wave video"
"20th century figuratively started in 1914. why?"
"colorado springs, employment, christian"
"china weeping yogi"
"what are good stumbling companies to invest in"
"Pictures of worms in New Mexico"
"childrens story times"
"INFORMATION ABOUT JOHN F. KENNEDY"
"osama bin laden flash games"
"lives asian babes"
"sushi beanbag chair"
"I live near a abuse person in Judith"
"pictures of rivers in Morocco"
"gay active duty"
"web page about timeline Ralph Bunche"
"spider man pictures"
"bin laden thoughts about september 11th"
"gop items for sell"
"seven areas of the soul"
"why should there be curfews"
"sex machine built diagram"
"what are the sucessess and failures of economic statistics"
"shirt printing calif"
"owl monkey behaviors"
"jerry orbach memorial ad"
And while I've been typing this:
"how to write a thank you note to a doctor"
As you can see, rather disparate, and the usual handful of rather vaguely alarming inquiries; I'm long used to a noticable smattering of Google and other search engine hits, of course; but this recent stream from MSN search has been coming fast and furious for a number of days now, and it's getting a bit tiresome, as well as not likely to be well-serving those making most of the inquiries; not as well, at least, as whomever just googled "gary farber, anna vargo."
BACK FROM DR.'S APT. Blood pressure hovering at 210/110 from a high of 225/125 -- last 220/122 here and 190/122 here after a bunch of months of increasing medication. However, the doctor -- who is, of course, leaving the clinic, only after a few months of my seeing him, just as happened with the last two doctors I've seen there; par for the course for a clinic for the poor, though -- suggested that I might have been under unusual stress the last three months, and I'm to come back in another month. Hey, I'd miss the wide-eyed looks of major alarm, and gasps, I get from the aides each time, if my bp ever goes seriously down.
Made the round-trip to the pharmacy; having emptied out the PayPal account, and my pockets and drawers, and making a half-payment to the phone company, and taking into account the bus fare, after catching up on my prescriptions for the next couple of weeks, I find I am left with... eight cents (until the end of the month).
Last month I shorted myself on various medication so I could have food; today I went the other way; one can flip the coin either way. I do have several servings of ramen left, and a few cans of things, and I can hit one of the food banks next week; the toilet paper crisis is rather nigh, though.
I'm grateful to the three or so of you who recently made a donation, and I'm sorry I'm not better at writing individual thank you's; if anyone feels like hitting the Paypal link, under the optimistic thought that I'll be blogging more in the future, or something, this would be a good thing. (A bump in the road has been that I was, as I often am, entirely out of money last month, when a blogger I trust assured me that they were immediately sending at least a $100 check in the mail; on that basis, and my lacking food and choice, another friend advanced me the $100 temporarily; unfortunately, after a month, that check seems to be lost in the mail, but I still need to repay that $100 ASAP.)
IN WHICH I AGAIN TAUNT THE PRESIDENT. Partisan hacks must not miss this small marvel:
... or some saying I should have negotiated with [Yasser] Arafat for the four years I was president -- obviously, prior to his death -- and I chose not to because I didn't feel like he was a person who could deliver peace.
THE HEAD, IT DOTH EXPLODE. Sometimes all you need to do is just listen.
President Bush said the public's decision to reelect him was a ratification of his approach toward Iraq and that there was no reason to hold any administration officials accountable for mistakes or misjudgments in prewar planning or managing the violent aftermath.
This is because, boys and girls, elections are like magic beans. Once you have one, everything is magical and glowy and wonderful! All errors are magically wiped away, and everyone who committed any is either instantly killed and replaced by clone or made a member of the Cabinet. See, Bush secretly fired Rumsfeld and replaced him with an identical clone! Same for the other folks "staying on." Explains a lot, doesn't it? And it's a brilliant solution.
[...] With his inauguration days away, Bush defended the administration's decision to force the District of Columbia to spend $12 million of its homeland security budget to provide tighter security for this week's festivities. He also warned that the ceremony could make the city "an attractive target for terrorists."
"By providing security, hopefully that will provide comfort to people who are coming from all around the country to come and stay in the hotels in Washington and to be able to watch the different festivities in Washington, and eat the food in Washington," Bush said. "I think it provides them great comfort to know that all levels of government are working closely to make this event as secure as possible."
Because, everyone, what makes people feel safe and secure against terrorist attack is which line the accounting goes on. I certainly know that when I'm worried whether an attack might be made against an important event, perhaps killing and maiming hundreds or thousands of people, the first thing I demand to know is how is the budget for security managed?
Because, as we all know, being secure isn't a matter of how thoroughly the event is planned for and the site checked out, or the number of professional security forces are deployed. Nonsense! That notion is a popular misconception!
It's all about the budget divisions! It's the accounting that will make us safe! The power to tax is the power to be free! Aliens from Titan are coming to attack us! The way to wipe out the federal deficit is to get Washington, D.C. residents to pay for it! There are messages in my teeth! Help me! AAGGHHH!
[...] A new report released last week by U.S. intelligence agencies warned that the war in Iraq has created a training ground for terrorists. Bush called the report "somewhat speculative" but acknowledged "this could happen. And I agree. If we are not diligent and firm, there will be parts of the world that become pockets for terrorists to find safe haven and to train. And we have a duty to disrupt that."
Fortunately, no terrorists have been spotted in Iraq up to now. Pshew! We're lucky we've ducked the bullet on that one!
[...] As for perhaps the most notorious terrorist, Osama bin Laden, the administration has so far been unsuccessful in its attempt to locate the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Asked why, Bush said, "Because he's hiding."
He cleared that one like a true master!
[...] Bush acknowledged that the United States' standing has diminished in some parts of the world and said he has asked Condoleezza Rice, his nominee to replace Powell at the State Department, to embark on a public diplomacy campaign that "explains our motives and explains our intentions."
Bush acknowledged that "some of the decisions I've made up to now have affected our standing in parts of the world," but predicted that most Muslims will eventually see America as a beacon of freedom and democracy.
"There's no question we've got to continue to do a better job of explaining what America is all about," he said.
Because we've done everything perfectly! No mistakes! All we need to do is explain things better! Than all Muslims will love us, and bring us tasty halal sausages to eat, yum, yum! With felafel!
LAURA BUSH CONDEMNS FDR. There are innumerable more important issues than how large or expensive the inauguration is, although the way Administrations use them to collect bribes, er, donations, in completely unrestricted fashion from corporate interests must never be overlooked.
With less than a week to go until her husband's second inauguration, Laura Bush on Friday defended the decision to hold the $40 million celebration as planned despite a war abroad and the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean.
Inaugurations, Mrs. Bush said, are "an important part of our history."
"They're a ceremony of our history; they're a ritual of our government," she said in a round-table interview with reporters in the White House map room. "And I think it's really important to have the inauguration every time. I think it's also good for Washington's economy, for people to come in from around the country, for the hotels to be full, and the restaurants to be full, and the caterers to be busy. I think that's important."
She added: "I think there's a symbolic aspect of the inauguration that - and because of that, the symbol of the inauguration, you never want to - for any reason - cancel it or not have it."
The fourth inauguration was conducted without fanfare. Because of the expense and impropriety of festivity during the height of war, the oath of office was taken on the South Portico of the White House. It was administered by Chief Justice Harlan Stone. No formal celebrations followed the address.
FDR must have been one lousy President to not understand how "important" it was for him to party on, dude, in January of 1945. Why did he hate America?
(There wasn't much partying for either of Lincoln'sinaugurations, either; he must have not understood the importance to Washington's economy.)
This is apparently an express letter from President-elect Harding to Edward B. McLean, chairman of the Inaugural Committee. It was probably sent about the same time as a similar message in a telegram of January 1921. Harding asks the Inaugural Committee to abandon all plans for an inaugural celebration because of his concern about extravagance, but sends his appreciation to McLean and the other members of the committee for their efforts. He describes his wishes, thus: "It will be most pleasing to me to be simply sworn in, speak briefly my plight of faith to the country and turn at once to the work which will be calling."
To some extent, the criticism of inaugural extravagance reflects the longstanding concern about turning the president into royalty. Complaints that George Washington had "monarchical" pretensions prompted him to consider beginning his second term of office with a private swearing-in ceremony at home. He ultimately took the oath in the Senate chamber, but limited his second inaugural address to four sentences.
Some of his successors also tried scaling back the ceremonies. There were no inaugural balls for Woodrow Wilson in 1913 and 1917, and none for succeeding presidents until 1933, when one was held at the depths of the Depression for Roosevelt. But there were no balls to start his later terms, and in 1945 he dispensed with the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol as well as the parade.
"Roosevelt was the only one who ever took the oath at the White House," Professor Boller said. "His health had something to do with it, but so did his concern that you shouldn't be having gaiety in Washington when there was wartime austerity in the rest of the country."
Roosevelt proposed a buffet luncheon with chicken à la king, and then the White House's famously frugal housekeeper, Henrietta Nesbitt, decided even that was too lavish. She served cold chicken salad, rolls without butter, poundcake and coffee. Roosevelt, who was not feeling well, got through the occasion by sending his son James to his room to smuggle him a tumbler of bourbon.
LINES FROM EBERT I LIKED. A recurring category of post. Here regarding Pedor Almodovar's latest:
So there's 153 words right there, and my guess is, you're thinking the hell with it, just tell us what it's about and if it's any good. Your instincts are sound. Pedro Almodovar's new movie is like an ingenious toy that is a joy to behold, until you take it apart to see what makes it work, and then it never works again. While you're watching it, you don't realize how confused you are, because it either makes sense from moment to moment or, when it doesn't, you're distracted by the sex. Life is like that.
...and does it so well that if he had played Hephaistion, Alexander would have stayed at home in Macedonia, and they could have opened an antique shop, antiquities being dirt cheap at the time.
I think it's really more about erotic role-playing: About the roles we play, the roles other people play, and the roles we imagine them playing and they imagine us playing. If Almodovar is right, some of our most exciting sexual experiences take place entirely within the minds of other people.
Stars are relative, not absolute, and analyzing them represents a waste of valuable time that could be profitably spent watching aquarium fish or memorizing the sayings of Dr. Johnson. I am compelled to award them because of market pressures. I, too, would rather see "The Life Aquatic" again than "The Stepford Wives," but within the context of the two films, I think "The Life Aquatic" falls further short of what it was trying to do -- even though what it does is better than anything in "The Stepford Wives." I realize my logic is impenetrable. I recommend just reading the reviews and ignoring the stars.
DON'T YOU HATE IT when you put something away, and just forget you have it? Something like, say, hundreds of cannisters of chemical weapons that an old friend gave you? And, darn, now no one can find the paperwork!
CONSISTENT WITH MILITARY NECESSITY. Likely I'm just not reading the right blogs, but it seems to me that Andrew Sullivan's exegesis on torture deserves more attention. (I suspect it hasn't gotten it because so many on the left will never forgive him for supporting the war and initially defending Bush for a long time, and most on the right now see him revealed as the crypto-leftist, Bush-hating, single-issue thinker he has now been truly revealed to be!)
What's notable about the incidents of torture and abuse is first, their common features, and second, their geographical reach. No one has any reason to believe any longer that these incidents were restricted to one prison near Baghdad. They were everywhere: from Guantánamo Bay to Afghanistan, Baghdad, Basra, Ramadi and Tikrit and, for all we know, in any number of hidden jails affecting ''ghost detainees'' kept from the purview of the Red Cross. They were committed by the Marines, the Army, the Military Police, Navy Seals, reservists, Special Forces and on and on. The use of hooding was ubiquitous; the same goes for forced nudity, sexual humiliation and brutal beatings; there are examples of rape and electric shocks.
These are not allegations made by antiwar journalists. They are incidents reported within the confines of the United States government. The Schlesinger panel has officially conceded, although the president has never publicly acknowledged, that American soldiers have tortured five inmates to death. Twenty-three other deaths that occurred during American custody had not been fully investigated by the time the panel issued its report in August. Some of the techniques were simply brutal, like persistent vicious beatings to unconsciousness. Others were more inventive. In April 2004, according to internal Defense Department documents recently procured by the A.C.L.U., three marines in Mahmudiya used an electric transformer, forcing a detainee to ''dance'' as the electricity coursed through him. We also now know that in Guantánamo, burning cigarettes were placed in the ears of detainees.
Here's another case [....]
Was the torture effective? The only evidence in the documents Danner has compiled that it was even the slightest bit helpful comes from the Schlesinger report. It says ''much of the information in the recently released 9/11 Commission's report, on the planning and execution of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, came from interrogation of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere.'' But the context makes plain that this was intelligence procured without torture. It also claims that good intelligence was received from the two sanctioned cases of expanded interrogation techniques at Guantánamo. But everything else points to the futility of the kind of brutal techniques used in Iraq and elsewhere.
And the damage done was intensified by President Bush's refusal to discipline those who helped make this happen. A president who truly recognized the moral and strategic calamity of this failure would have fired everyone responsible. But the vice president's response to criticism of the defense secretary in the wake of Abu Ghraib was to say, ''Get off his back.'' In fact, those with real responsibility for the disaster were rewarded.
Alberto R. Gonzales, who wrote memos that validated the decision to grant Geneva status to inmates solely at the president's discretion, is now nominated to the highest law enforcement job in the country: attorney general. The man who paved the way for the torture of prisoners is to be entrusted with safeguarding the civil rights of Americans. It is astonishing he has been nominated, and even more astonishing that he will almost certainly be confirmed.
But in a democracy, the responsibility is also wider. Did those of us who fought so passionately for a ruthless war against terrorists give an unwitting green light to these abuses? Were we naïve in believing that characterizing complex conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq as a single simple war against ''evil'' might not filter down and lead to decisions that could dehumanize the enemy and lead to abuse? Did our conviction of our own rightness in this struggle make it hard for us to acknowledge when that good cause had become endangered? I fear the answer to each of these questions is yes.
Advocates of the war, especially those allied with the administration, kept relatively quiet, or attempted to belittle what had gone on, or made facile arguments that such things always occur in wartime. But it seems to me that those of us who are most committed to the Iraq intervention should be the most vociferous in highlighting these excrescences. Getting rid of this cancer within the system is essential to winning this war.
It's interesting to note which pro-war voices (in which category I might fairly be put) have been loudly speaking out on the torture issue, and which have matter-of-factly muttered about it as a necessary way station on the way to denouncing what's really important, which is the awfulness of those people who are so partisanly attacking President Bush.