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Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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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.
YOU HAVE NO FREEDOM TO DISAGREE WITH THE PRESIDENT! THIS IS AMERICA. Dan Froomkin provides a good round-up on the you-can't-see-the-president stories. I was fairly infuriated last night when I caught one of the local Denver tv stations covering the local story and their sole background was saying "it is alleged that others have had problems at Presidential events." Fricking reporting the facts would be nice, and when "reputable" news sources don't, what's to wonder when people think things are just great? At least Froomkin isn't afraid here.
In a sunlit gallery of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Italy, astronomer Brad Schaefer came face to face with an ancient statue known as the Farnese Atlas.
For centuries, the 7-foot marble figure of the mythological Atlas has bent in stoic agony with a sphere of the cosmos crushing his shoulders.
Carved on the sphere — one of only three celestial globes that have survived from Greco-Roman times — are figures representing 41 of the 48 constellations of classical antiquity, as well as the celestial equator, tropics and meridians.
Historians have long looked on the Atlas as a postcard from the past — interesting largely as astronomical art.
But as Schaefer approached, he began to notice subtle details in the arrangement of the constellations. It wasn't that anything was wrong with the statue. If anything, the positions of the constellations were too perfect to be mere decoration.
He knew something of the Farnese Atlas, named for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who purchased it in the 16th century. The statue, probably a Roman copy made about AD 150 of an earlier Greek statue, is the oldest representation of the original Western constellations.
There are no stars on the globe, just the constellations themselves, represented by earthly forms such as a ram, a bull or a huntsman. Even so, he could tell that they were laid out with great precision. If the globe was accurate, he realized, the heavenly scene depicted on its surface would conform to only one moment in history. And thus reveal for the first time its origins.
And so it did.
A few years ago, he decided to try to determine the actual date of Christ's Crucifixion using purely scientific methods. He wrote a computer program that factored in all the astronomical data he could unearth from the time. Then, because the Crucifixion is thought to have taken place 14 or 15 days after a crescent moon first became visible, he added in thousands of modern records of atmospheric haze to approximate periods of high and low visibility in the ancient Middle East.
Rolling back the calendar more than 1,900 years, he came up with two dates: AD 30 and 33.
Bible scholars, comparing biblical texts with historical records, have arrived at similar dates.
Schaefer thinks his results are more reliable. "People in the past never tried doing physics-based research," he said.
On the main story: I denounce Ptolemy now! Shame!
In January, Schaefer unveiled his findings at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego.
"We have books like 'The Da Vinci Code' about a hero who discovers lost, ancient secrets. There are very few instances where lost secrets are actually found," he said. "This is one."
WHAT MAHER ARAR? His story has now been corroborated in part.
Maher Arar, a 35-year-old Canadian engineer, is suing the United States, saying American officials grabbed him in 2002 as he changed planes in New York and transported him to Syria where, he says, he was held for 10 months in a dank, tiny cell and brutally beaten with a metal cable.
Now federal aviation records examined by The New York Times appear to corroborate Mr. Arar's account of his flight, during which, he says, he sat chained on the leather seats of a luxury executive jet as his American guards watched movies and ignored his protests.
The tale of Mr. Arar, the subject of a yearlong inquiry by the Canadian government, is perhaps the best documented of a number of cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in which suspects have accused the United States of secretly delivering them to other countries for interrogation under torture. Deportation for interrogation abroad is known as rendition.
The discovery of the aircraft, in a database compiled from Federal Aviation Agency records, appears to corroborate part of the story Mr. Arar has told many times since his release in 2003. The records show that a Gulfstream III jet, tail number N829MG, followed a flight path matching the route he described. The flight, hopscotching from New Jersey to an airport near Washington to Maine to Rome and beyond, took place on Oct. 8, 2002, the day after Mr. Arar's deportation order was signed.
After seeing a photograph of the plane and hearing its path, Mr. Arar, 35, of Ottawa, said in a telephone interview: "I think that's it. I think you've found the plane that took me."
Records of the jet's travels also show a trip in December 2003 to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States holds hundreds of detainees, suggesting that it was used by the government on at least one other occasion.
If the plane was used to move Mr. Arar, it is the fourth known to have been used to transport suspected terrorists secretly from one country to detention in another.
Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, said the government had no comment on the case. The administration has refused to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry into Mr. Arar's case and has asked a judge to dismiss most of his lawsuit, saying that allowing it to proceed would reveal classified information.
According to F.A.A. flight logs for Oct. 8, 2002, only one aircraft flew from New Jersey to the Washington area to Maine to Rome: the 14-passenger Gulfstream III jet, operated by Presidential Aviation, a charter company in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The jet left Teterboro, N.J., for Dulles at 5:40 a.m.; proceeded at 7:46 a.m. to Bangor, Me.; and left Bangor for Rome at 9:36 a.m.
Records show that the plane was owned in 2002 by MJG Aviation, a Florida company that lists its manager as Mark J. Gordon, an entrepreneur who also owned Presidential at the time. Mr. Gordon could not be reached. The plane has since been sold and the tail number has been changed to N259SK, records show.
Sergeant Smith, 33, was a combat engineer in the Third Infantry Division that swept up from Kuwait on the march to Baghdad. His unit, B Company of the 11th Engineer Battalion, was attached to Second Battalion, Seventh Infantry, and had seized its part of the Baghdad airport on the evening of April 3, 2003.
The next morning, Sergeant Smith and about 15 other soldiers were building a holding pen for prisoners in a compound on the north side of the highway into the airport, on the battalion's flank, when the compound came under attack by some 100 Iraqi soldiers.
"He told me, 'We're in a world of hurt,' " Staff Sgt. Kevin W. Yetter said in an interview with The New York Times several weeks after the battle. "Yeah, I guess we were in a world of hurt."
According to a draft of the medal citation and the company's soldiers, Sergeant Smith organized the engineers' defense, calling in support from a Bradley fighting vehicle. Under a barrage of mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, he hurled a grenade over the compound's wall and blasted an antitank missile at a guard tower.
Still, Iraqi soldiers held the tower and kept firing into the compound.
"We were pinned down," First Sgt. Tim Campbell told The Providence Journal, which had a reporter traveling with troops at the airport. "They had this planned. They found the lightest defended area and attacked."
A mortar round hit an armored engineering vehicle known as an M-113. Sergeant Yetter was inside it. The blast momentarily blinded him. It also seriously wounded Sgt. Louis D. Berwald, the gunner on top, and another soldier. Sergeant Smith helped evacuate the three to an aid station, which was suddenly imperiled by the mounting attack.
Faced with pulling back to a safer position or holding fast, Sergeant Smith took over Sergeant Berwald's .50-caliber gun, firing and reloading before he was shot in the neck.
"If they'd gotten by, there probably would have been dozens of deaths," Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, the retired commander of the Second Battalion, said in a telephone interview.
RIP, and thanks to him, and those like him, for their bravery. If I prayed, I'd only pray that the cause he died for ultimately succeeds, that we find it worth the cost, and that we never forget the cost.
It’s not for lack of trying, at least from outside the government. Aftergood, for example, sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Defense Department on May 12, asking generally for “photographic and video images of abuses committed against Iraqi prisoners” and specifically for the material contained on three compact discs mentioned by Rumsfeld in his testimony. The Defense Department told him to ask the U.S. Central Command, which sent him back to Defense, which said on second thought try the Army’s Freedom of Information Department, which forwarded him to the Army’s Crime Records Center, which hasn’t yet responded. “It’s not as if this is somehow an obscure matter that no one’s quite ever heard of,” Aftergood notes.
By that time, the executive and legislative branches had learned their lesson: Don’t release images. The day after the Berg video, members of Congress were allowed to see a slide show of 1,800 Abu Ghraib photographs. The overwhelming response, besides revulsion, was, in the words of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.), that the pictures “should not be made public.” “I feel,” Warner said, “that it could possibly endanger the men and women of the armed forces as they are serving and at great risk.”
Looking ahead to the next four years, there is little doubt that the administration, its supporters, and Congress will use whatever legal means are available to prevent Abu Ghraib—the public relations problem, not the prisoner abuse—from happening again. The Defense Department has commissioned numerous studies about America’s problem with “public diplomacy” since the September 11 massacre; all those compiled since last May hold up the iconic torture images as the perfect example of what not to let happen again.
Protecting the American public by keeping us from knowing what our government has done: always a fine principle. Vote for more of that, why don't you?
It is not evident to many of us that cells in a petri dish are equivalent to identifiable people suffering from terrible diseases. I am and have always been pro-life. But the only explanation for legislators comparing cells in a petri dish to babies in the womb is the extension of religious doctrine into statutory law.
The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.
When government becomes the means of carrying out a religious program, it raises obvious questions under the First Amendment. But even in the absence of constitutional issues, a political party should resist identification with a religious movement. While religions are free to advocate for their own sectarian causes, the work of government and those who engage in it is to hold together as one people a very diverse country. At its best, religion can be a uniting influence, but in practice, nothing is more divisive. For politicians to advance the cause of one religious group is often to oppose the cause of another.
But in recent times, we Republicans have allowed this shared agenda to become secondary to the agenda of Christian conservatives. As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.
The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future. Our current fixation on a religious agenda has turned us in the wrong direction. It is time for Republicans to rediscover our roots.
Good to see a grown-up, Christian, Republican, speaking out. Of course, he's out of office, never going to run again, and completely marginalized. That's about all the Party has left, it seems.
Go on, prove me wrong. I double dare ya. Make the Party sane again, says this former campaigner for John Anderson in 1980
Meanwhile, Nicholas Kristof points out the massive deathes being caused in Africa because of the Administration's refusal to support condoms, but, you know, who cares if 85% of Zimbabwe dies of AIDS, anyway? Culture of life, anyone?
In other words, perhaps the senator ought to have focused on the fact that the courts and the left are setting the agenda....
Hewitt explains that his guys are the "center-right" fighting the "radicals" on the left. Yeah, yeah, it's just horrible the way the "left" controls the levers of power in our three parts of government, isn't it? Why, all commanders Al Sharpton and Noam Chomsky have to do is blink, and their wishes become law. Hail Mumia!
Read The Rest Scale: eh, unless you care about whether Patrick Kennedy will run against Lincoln Chafee for the Senate; personally, it's not 100% clear to me that would be better than losing one of the less-than-a-handful of actual liberal Republicans in the Senate, despite the need to obtain a majority. The family situation is, of course, just sad.
The move follows a meeting last week among DeLay, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the chief deputy majority whip, and nearly two dozen conservative leaders, including David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Morton Blackwell, president of the Leadership Institute; and Edwin Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.
Perkins, Keene and Feulner called the meeting, according to participants.
“This is not about Democrats; it’s about Republicans,” Keene said.
After several participants at the meeting said they would help, DeLay said he hoped the others would, too, according to one person there who spoke anonymously to avoid angering his fellow conservatives.
DeLay reportedly added that it would be “really nice if some calls would originate from you guys into members’ districts letting them know” why they should tell their representatives to support him.
Most of the conservative leaders at last week’s meeting who spoke to The Hill said support for DeLay at the meeting appeared to be unanimous. But one who requested anonymity said his group would likely not participate in defending DeLay, and he raised questions about the propriety of tax-exempt groups’ waging a political campaign on behalf of a lawmaker.
What a petty and irrelevant concern, you traitorous scum.
[...] Conservative leaders who spoke to The Hill said these groups’ criticisms of DeLay was an attack on conservatism itself.
Y'know, if you say so.
If I were a conservative, I'd be so insulted I'd be doing everything I could to disassociate conservativism from Tom DeLay.
But I'm not a conservative (though I get along with some of the notions), and that's up to you guys. Meanwhile, he's the leader you put into office, and he and his ilk are who you'll be judged by, among others, while he's there. (And his record will stay.)
Meanwhile, here's a useful warning:
Blackwell, of the Leadership Institute, hinted that conservative groups will turn the attack back on Democrats and outside groups that are criticizing DeLay’s conduct, issuing a stern warning to Republican lawmakers who hang back from the battle.
“Any politician that hopes to have conservative support in the future better be in the forefront as we attack those who attack Tom DeLay,” he said.
WHO WROTE THE BIBLE YOU READ? Regardless of your views on the Ultimate Source, clearly men wrote the texts, and men translated them from language to language, and interpreted them.
Once upon a time, in the late Seventies, I had a sweetie who was a Yalie, and I wound up living with her in New Haven, in Yale student housing, for some months, while she attended school, and I worked three jobs, one with her co-night-managing "Book World," the New Haven book and publications store, one raising money for "The Campaign For Yale," and then going into NYC once a week to pick up manuscripts to read from Jim Frenkel, then owning and running BlueJay Books, for, I think it was $50 a pop (Jim tried to hire me as his fulltime assistant; I'd worked with him before at Dell, and we'd been friends for years even then; seeing the writing on the walls that BlueJay wasn't long for the world, though, I declined the to-be-shortlived fulltime position).
And the figure at Yale -- out of many -- I'd hear most about was the revered and legendary Jaroslav Pelikan, even then a reknowned scholar of ancient English, Icelandic, and other languages.
Even before the last chapters of the Hebrew Bible itself had been written, an ancient school of biblical interpreters had come upon the scene -- the earliest of them going back to the third century B.C. or so -- and they changed forever the way the Bible would be read. They (mostly anonymous) were decidedly not interested in what the stories, laws or prophecies had meant in their original context.
I'd like to read the book; meanwhile, you might take a quick glance at this short look at What It Means, though probably only a literalist would find anything truly revelatory, and probably you're not reading this, then.
THE REAL LIFE HORROR: the death of Iris Chang, and how, apparently, documenting mass death can, you know, depress you.
But she had become one of the foremost young historians of her generation after publishing, seven years ago, a bestselling account of the Rape of Nanking, one of the worst episodes of human cruelty in recent history.
Her book brought international acclaim and controversy, and many spoke of a stellar future. It was not to be. In November she killed herself, no longer able to bear the weight of horrors from seven decades ago.
WHERE DOES REV. MOON FIT INTO THE CTHULLU MYTHOS? Test yourself here.
Myself, I got only a score of 50 last night, which I'm not bothering to reproduce here this morning. But I'm not really all that big a Lovecraft fan, although one of my more charming memories of my first Lunacons and other sf conventions on the Bos-Wash corridor in the early Seventies was shrunken, tiny, and old, Frank Belknap Long carefully and slowly walking around with tiny steps, happy to chat with anyone, and mostly ignored, alas. Sprague de Camp, on the other hand, was an imposing presence whenever he entered the room, and had the straightest spine I've ever seen in a human being; I'd swear there was a steel rod rammed up there. I never did meet Fritz Leiber, to my sad discontent.
THE DIVINE MESSIAH OF THE WASHINGTON TIMES. Every so often I step back and marvel at the fact that a complete lunatic -- a tremendously rich and powerful complete lunatic -- owns the second largest newspaper in Washington, D.C., the leading newspaper of the conservative Right in this country, and nobody blinks an eye at this.
The Washington Times owner's most recent of many consistent entreaties to toss democracy on the scrap-heap along with Communism:
The United States is proud of its democratic system, which carries the idea of brotherhood. She has to adopt the ideas of Parents and Godism. We have to discard relationships that resulted from the Fall.
It is time to have a new organization in a new era; then we can start with a strong mind. All of us have to have positive, active minds. As was done in Korea, you have to provide Divine Principle education to senators, congressmen, high national officials and those on the local level.
1. Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has pursued the wrong relationships and forms of government.
2. Human beings are loyal to brothers. Instead, they should be bowing down to the True Parents.
3. The result of their sinful ways is democracy.
4. But the proper and ultimate relationship, Moon says, is sworn obedience to parents. (He calls himself the True Father.)
5. The U.S., therefore, must replace democracy with "Godism."
And Moon continues to win influence over our legislature, as well as influence over our media via the Washington Times. Isn't that great? How proud Republicans should be of this! Of course, back a few years ago, it was stirring when Republicans gathered en masse, physically, and online, and issued a massive repudiation of the WashTimes and of Moon, wasn't it?
Hey, I'm a huge Scorsese fan, though, yes, Robert deNiro does seem to be coasting these days. I'm still inordinately fond of Mean Streets, though, which I first saw at the Bleeker St. Cinema on a double-bill with Who's That Knocking On My Door? in the mid-Seventies.
Mary Cheney, the daughter and campaign manager of Vice President Dick Cheney whose identity as a lesbian became an issue in the presidential campaign, has sold the rights to a memoir to Simon & Schuster for an advance of about $1 million, according to two people involved in the negotiations.
"We had several attractive offers," said Mr. Barnett, who had also negotiated Ms. Matalin's arrangement with Simon & Schuster. "In the end, Mary Cheney found great advantage to working with her old friend Mary Matalin."
People familiar with the proposal said Ms. Cheney promised fly-on-the-wall accounts of her father's campaigns and a portrait of the vice president different from his public persona.
Carolyn Reidy, president of adult books at Simon & Schuster, said Ms. Cheney's book would be not only an account of the campaigns by a singularly highly placed insider but also "about her own role, about being thrust into the spotlight unwanted and her opinions about that."
Simon & Schuster said it expects to publish the memoir in May 2006, two years before Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney leave office.
Ms. Matalin said Ms. Cheney felt she could speak out now.
"She had to remain reticent and her parents had to remain very reticent until the 2004 campaign was over because she had a job to do. We all had jobs to do," Ms. Matalin said. "But she is highly articulate and opinionated and interesting, and she thinks for herself and wants to say it in her own words."
Although Ms. Cheney has never spoken publicly about her views of the Bush administration's embrace of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, her parents have said they disagree with the proposal.
A spokeswoman for the vice president declined to comment on the book deal on Tuesday. Ms. Matalin said Ms. Cheney had spoken to her parents in detail about her plans for the book before selling the rights. "They were very supportive," Ms. Matalin said.
Could be interesting, could be anodyne. My guess is there will be at least a few paragraphs that make the news. Of course, I condemn Mary Matalin for her vile and malicious statement that: "'she is a gay Republican.'" How horrid of Matalin! She must be a liberal, to out Mary Cheney in such a public manner! (If anyone makes me put sarcasm marks on this, I shall hit you with my very large mallet; don't make me come over there!)
THOSE DAMN SHIFTLESS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS are, it turns out, capable of beating MIT. From high school. Great story.
Now the school is 92 percent Hispanic. Drooping, baggy jeans and XXXL hoodies are the norm.
Across campus, in a second-floor windowless room, four students huddle around an odd, 3-foot-tall frame constructed of PVC pipe. They have equipped it with propellers, cameras, lights, a laser, depth detectors, pumps, an underwater microphone, and an articulated pincer. At the top sits a black, waterproof briefcase containing a nest of hacked processors, minuscule fans, and LEDs. It's a cheap but astoundingly functional underwater robot capable of recording sonar pings and retrieving objects 50 feet below the surface. The four teenagers who built it are all undocumented Mexican immigrants who came to this country through tunnels or hidden in the backseats of cars. They live in sheds and rooms without electricity. But over three days last summer, these kids from the desert proved they are among the smartest young underwater engineers in the country.
It was the end of June. Lorenzo Santillan, 16, sat in the front seat of the school van and looked out at the migrant farmworkers in the fields along Interstate 10. Lorenzo's face still had its baby fat, but he'd recently sprouted a mustache and had taken to wearing a fistful of gold rings, a gold chain, and a gold medallion of the Virgin Mary pierced through the upper part of his left ear. The bling wasn't fooling anyone. His mother had been fired from her job as a hotel maid, and his father had trouble paying the rent as a gardener. They were on the verge of eviction for nonpayment of rent. He could see himself having to quit school to work in those fields.
"What's a PWM cable?" The sharp question from the van's driver, Allan Cameron, snapped Lorenzo out of his reverie.
"PWM," Lorenzo replied automatically from the van's passenger seat. "Pulse width modulation. Esto controls analog circuits with digital output."
Oscar Vazquez was a born leader. A senior, he'd been in ROTC since ninth grade and was planning on a career in the military. But when he called to schedule a recruitment meeting at the end of his junior year, the officer in charge told him he was ineligible for military service. Because he was undocumented - his parents had brought him to the US from Mexico when he was 12 - he couldn't join, wouldn't get any scholarships, and had to start figuring out what else to do with his life. Oscar felt aimless until he heard about the robot club from Ledge, who was teaching his senior biology seminar. Maybe, he thought, engineering could offer him a future.
They hope to see all four kids go to college before they quit teaching, which means they're likely to keep working for a long time. Since the teenagers are undocumented, they don't qualify for federal loans. And though they've lived in Arizona for an average of 11 years, they would still have to pay out-of-state tuition, which can be as much as three times the in-state cost. They can't afford it.
And they're not alone. Approximately 60,000 undocumented students graduate from US high schools every year. One promising solution, according to Cameron and other advocates for immigrant kids, is the Dream Act, federal legislation that would give in-state tuition and temporary resident status to undocumented students who graduate from a US high school after being enrolled in the States for five years or more. The bill, which was introduced in 2003 and is slated to be resubmitted this spring, aims to give undocumented students a reason to stay in school. If they do, the act promises financial assistance for college. In turn, immigrants would pay taxes and be able to contribute their talents to the US.
Some immigration activists don't see it that way. Ira Mehlman, the Los Angeles-based media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, successfully lobbied against the legislation last year. He says it will put citizens and legal immigrants in direct competition for the limited number of seats at state colleges. "What will you say," he asks, "to an American kid who does not get into a state university and whose family cannot afford a private college because that seat and that subsidy have been given to someone who is in the country illegally?"
That we'd rather have smart kids using their gifts to make our lives better than dumb kids who by luck of birth are getting a gift they haven't earned?
Ya gotta read this story; I can't wait for the made-for-cable movie.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.75 out of 5 for inspirational value, and some facts about what the illegal, lazy, and shiftless tanned people can do.
ADDENDUM: It turns out Metafilter likes this story (mostly). A couple of points regarding their comments: 1) Presuming the writer is honest, he wrote about what they were thinking by, you know, asking them what they were thinking; it's a perfectly valid writing technique, so long as he, of course, accurately reflected what they told him; the only way to check that, of course, is to ask the guys. 2) "I'd prefer a montage of adolescent building and robot love, frankly." That seems to be the not-very-sub-text, you know. 3) "The real urgency is to get them to an immigration lawyer now." There's no harm in that, but they can't be arrested or deported because they were written about; they pretty much have to be arrested on some other charge to worry about being deported, and then, depending on their venue, your immigration status may not come up anyway. There are worries involved, but probably not of the most urgent status, compared to a place to live, a job, continued education, and so forth. I'm also unclear there's much an immigration lawyer can do for them until the law is changed, though, again, there'd be no likely harm in it. 4) Thanks for the linky-love.
How do you turn a blob of jelly into a thinking, feeling liquid brain? New Scientist investigates the development of chemical-based processors
MOST of us find a shot of caffeine or a brisk walk does the trick. But when Andrew Adamatzky feels his brain needs a little extra stimulation, he gets a robot to dabble its metal fingers in it.
Adamatzky is a computer scientist at the University of the West of England in Bristol, UK, and his prototype brain is a dish of chemicals sitting on a lab bench. Its "thoughts" are waves of ions that form spontaneously and diffuse through the mix. And occasionally, when things get too sluggish, the brain instructs a robotic hand to dip its fingers into the dish and wiggle them about, literally stirring the creative juices.
Designed to do nothing more than mimic the kind of feedback that occurs between our own fingers and brains, this experiment is part of an ambitious programme to develop chemical-based processors that run on ions rather than electrons, and ...
NO VOMIT BAGS IN SPACESUITS, Y'KNOW: Fun in space. People take for granted the astronauts at the Space Station, and generally only read news of them when they find the occasional marauding alien space monster, and the like. But, really, I think this sort of thing would make me a mite nervous:
"Everything is like in the movies, and it's hard to believe," Sharipov said to Moscow mission control as he prepared to release the satellite. From his perch on the Pirs docking compartment, he pushed the 5-kilogram satellite behind the space station so that it will orbit in the opposite direction.
It slowly toppled end over end until it was out of view. Russian engineers will monitor the satellite and use the data to help develop new sensors and methods of controlling small satellites.
The spacewalk was complicated by problems with the attitude control of the space station. Normally, four gyroscopes keep the station pointed in the right direction, but only two are currently working.
Also, during past Russian-controlled spacewalks, the gyroscopes have been overcome by an unexplained "phantom" torque. When that has occurred, the Russian thrusters have taken over control of the station.
But during part of Monday's spacewalk, astronaut Leroy Chiao and Sharipov had to work in an area near the thrusters, so ground control in Moscow had to turn them off. That left the station in a free drift.
During the previous spacewalk, Chiao was accidentally working in an area near a thruster while it was turned on. After that excursion and Monday's, Sharipov and Chiao inspected one another's space suits to make sure they had not been contaminated with toxic particles from the thruster exhaust.
However, on Monday the gyroscopes kept control for longer than anticipated and the station was only in free drift for less than 20 minutes. Before the spacewalk, NASA managers estimated that the station could be in free drift for up to three hours before they would be concerned about getting enough light on the power-producing solar arrays and uneven heating on the station hull.
A small glitch did occur late in the spacewalk when Chiao's hand-held camera stopped working. "I think the camera's just frozen," he told Sharipov.
No major danger resulted, but it's really more than just nice views and good haircuts for everyone.
ANOTHER IN THE INTERMITTENT SERIES OF THANK-YOUS goes out to everyone making donations during the Current Special Offer Dive, er, Drive (which I'm hoping doesn't kill Alawhosis). (Reiterated thanks to past donors! Endless thanks to long-time multiple supporters! Remember: it's all in a bad cause!)
Please to note not to use the AOL Paypal address in future, please!
It also turns out the timing is good -- of course, it always is -- because yesterday one of the two crappy old 15" monitors I have for my three Pentium I's and one modern computer decided that from now on it was going to be the Purple Crayon Only Monitor. It works fine, so long as you like all colors being purple. And my back-up monitor is Vewy Dawk. (But it's an excellent choice for someone wanting to simulate major vision problems!)
So some of the ill-gotten gains will rapidly have to go to a new monitor (updating the computer a while ago was just a getting a box), thus saving me from typing like thapqpojk iqphjhow ahgit be!
Any money not used for necessities will be spent on luxuries! First up, bribing poor women to get pregnant and have abortions; second, finding grieving relatives to pay-off to remove feeding tubes; third -- communist revolution!
OUR NAVEL. Here is a list I've never noticed before.
Top Weblogs updated 2005-03-26 04:30:00
How is the Daypop Score calculated? High Daypop Scoring weblogs confer more weight or importance to weblogs that they link to. One way to think about it: a weblog's score is proportional to the probability that a blog reader randomly hopping from blog to blog will hit that weblog. A weblog with a low number of important citations can therefore have a higher score than a weblog with a greater number of less important citations. Total weblogs: 41244
PLEASE BEAM ME UP. I'm quite open about the shameful fact that I'm inordinately fond of Star Trek -- not that I would recommend it, save on rare and fleeting occasion, and then only with vast luke-warmedness, as good science fiction, or anything other than largely nostalgia on my part -- but this is not where I advocate people go with their Inner Trekkie (BugMeNot may be required):
Diana Schaub, a Loyola College professor and adviser to President Bush, is convinced that cloning and embryonic stem cell research are evil. She says this belief was formed, in part, by watching Star Trek.
The show has "left me receptive to the view that mortality is, if not precisely a good thing, then at least the necessary foundation of other very good things," she wrote in an article last year. "There is something misguided about the attempt to overcome mortality."
Her interest in mortality and Star Trek could be regarded as the quirks of an academic if not for her position on the President's Council on Bioethics, a 18-member panel that advises Bush on some of the most polarizing subjects in society.
But Schaub, a registered Republican who is chairwoman of Loyola's political science department, doesn't see her views as conservative or liberal. She says they are the logical result of studying Abraham Lincoln -- and yes, Captain Kirk.
"I find that there are good reasons to be opposed to embryonic stem cell research and human cloning," she said. "Both Lincoln and the Enterprise argue that there ought to be certain moral limits to the scientific project, and they help us articulate what those limits are."
Unsurprisingly, she's a protege of Leon Kass. (And, yes, I'm not for human cloning at this time, either -- no one but loons thinks it's presently safe, and therefore ethical at the present level of the science -- but that hardly helps us in regard to stem cell research, does it?)
Read The Rest Scale as interested in the advice the Administration gets on bio-ethics, or if you go by the online name of "Hilzoy." Remember, there's a lot to be learned as to what advice the Council of Economic Advisors derives from The Twilight Zone!
To anyone interested in these issues, I strongly recommend Star Trek—the original series of course, not any of the second-rate sequels. Given the scientific mission of the U.S.S. Enterprise (“to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations—to boldly go where no man has gone before”), you might expect that the show would be gung-ho for the conquest of nature, including pushing the envelope of our human nature. In fact, however, episodes of Star Trek repeatedly confirm the needfulness of human limitations and, indeed, revel in the self-imposed acceptance of those limitations. Interestingly, this attitude is embodied most in the ship’s Chief Medical Officer, Doctor McCoy, whose nickname is “Bones,” a nickname that forcibly reminds us of the limitations of the medical art—the bodies doctors attend upon will die.
Many episodes of the show dealt with issues of mortality and immortality. Let me mention just two, an episode entitled “Miri” (a name intentionally reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Miranda, who delivers the famous line “O brave new world that has such people in’t!”), and an episode entitled “Requiem for Methuselah” (Methuselah being the longest-lived of the Biblical figures; the Bible says he lived 969 years). In the first episode, [...]
I'D LIKE TO KNOW IF THEY'RE ALSO REFUSING CONDOMS. Ah, who needs birth control, anyway? Wimmin are just uppity if they're not barefoot and pregnant, I say! Besides, the less birth control available, the more abortions! Abortions for everyone, sez me, especially for men! Because you're not a liberal if you're not for mandatory abortions. Join the culture of death today! Remember, feminism = Nazism!
THE ANSWERS ARE OUT THERE. David Duchovny has a "blog." Okay, a journal, as most "celeb" "blogs" are (after all, the most fascinating topic is one's self, isn't it?). But it certainly does seem to be his voice. Which completely lacks capital letters, due to the Felony Celebrity Use Of Capitals Act of 2001.
Now I only await Gillian Anderson's blog, in which she confesses her undying true love for me.
WHY, YES, ALONG WITH THE CULTURE OF DEATH, I AM FOR LEGAL POLYAMORY, and I laugh in the face of Stanley Kurtz, but applaud his publicizing Elizabeth F. Emens and polyamory, although I'm likely too old and tired to seek more than satisfying monogamy, these days, than not. (Applications available!)
Unlike my wicked, wicked, youth. (Shout out to all my old friends at alt.polyamory.)
Inside a Northwest apartment, a 39-year-old man has been beaten by his male partner. The victim is a lieutenant colonel who works at the Pentagon and can't show up at a military hospital with injuries caused by same-sex domestic violence without risking his career.
At the Giant on 14th Street and Meridian Place NW, a Salvadoran immigrant has run into his long-lost brother, only the brother is now living as a woman. When Parson arrives, he finds the figure in the dress slumped and bloodied, and the other brother is shouting, "He's a maricon," using a Spanish slur for homosexual. "Dios mio! My mother is going to kill herself."
The D.C. police department has a Latino Liaison Unit, an Asian Liaison Unit and a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Unit, but unlike the other specialized squads, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit deals with the half-truths and complexities of sexuality.
When Parson teaches officers at the police academy how to deal with the gay community, he starts with Gay 101. They are blue-collar, white-collar, French collar and no collar. They may withhold the whole truth from you because their lives often are shrouded in necessary fictions. They might be uncomfortable dealing with you because they have been humiliated by you in the past.
But out on the streets, as on this winter night, Parson is miles beyond Gay 101. His squad knows how to deal. The small rainbow flags they wear on their uniforms are their passports inside. Once inside, they must walk a razor's edge, balancing protection and empathy with old-school, lock-'em-up law enforcement.
" 'We are here for you' is part of our message," Parson says. "But so is, 'You are under arrest.' "
"Lucy, I'm home," Parson yells as he walks through the door of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit office. After working out of cramped desks at police headquarters, the unit recently moved into a spacious office off Dupont Circle. The boxes are still being unpacked. There are case files, uniforms, a police radio and, "Queer Eye" indeed, lamps from Ikea. There are four officers on the squad, and like the gay community itself, they are still working out their identity. When Parson wants to hang a rainbow flag outside the office, one squad member protests.
"Gay, gay, gay," Officer Joe Morquecho says. "Why does everything have to be gay?"
"Gee, I don't know, Joe," Parson says, "maybe because we're the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit?"
They are butch, feminine, black, white, straight, gay, campy, bitchy, bourgie and fully armed.
Each year, Washington hosts the Mid-Atlantic Leather convention, which draws more than a thousand participants for three days of parties, domination and pageantry. When Parson assigns his rookie, Officer Zunnobia Hakir, to speak with the event's organizers, she gives them her best chamber of commerce greeting.
"Hello, everybody, I'm Officer Hakir," she says. "Last year I had the opportunity of having my boots licked . . .
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. If the quotes don't get you interested, don't bother. Is it true that upcoming is Miss Congeniality 3: Armed And Butch?
IN WHICH MICHAEL GOES TO NEPAL. Palin, that is, and of course he's written a travelogue, of which this is an excerpt.
Three Israeli students tell us they have been approached by Maoists and asked for 1,000 rupees (about $15) each. They pleaded student poverty, but the Maoists were insistent, and, as one was armed, they thought it best not to argue. They were dealt with very courteously and issued receipts. Nevertheless, Wongchu doesn't think we'll have trouble with the Maoists.
If you avoid the avalanche, you could still fall victim to acute mountain sickness. Symptoms are divided into "Early," which include "Headache, Loss of Appetite, Dizziness, Fatigue on Minimal Exertion" and "Worsening," characterized by "Increasing Tiredness, Severe Headache, Walking Like Drunk and Vomitting" (sic). "What To Do?" asks the big metal signboard. The answer is unequivocal. "Descend! Descend! Descend!"
The store, crowded with schoolchildren buying sweets, is our last chance to buy "sophisticated provisions." The range of goods gives a foretaste of the weapons we might need: Pringles, porridge oats, toilet paper, vodka, "Man's Briefs," chocolate, "Bandage for Knee Caps," nail clippers, Chinese playing cards and rum.
I ask him what he thinks about the situation in Nepal.
He looks around with a shrug and a sweep of the arm.
"Nobody in charge of the country anymore."
The night is cold. I take an analgesic and hope that it will help me sleep. It knocks me out for two-hour periods and tames the coughing but provides little relief from an increasingly angry sore throat. One word repeats itself in my disordered dreams. Descend! Descend! Descend!
At breakfast Wongchu asks me how I am. I give him quite a detailed progress report on cold, cough, sandpaper-like throat and general collapse of system. He ponders this before narrowing his eyes like Sherlock Holmes confronted with a new and unexpected clue.
"You have beer last night?"
I try to cast my mind back. "A little."
Wongchu nods gravely. "No beer."
I've given up saying Namaste to everyone who passes, but I'm momentarily cheered when I plod up to the top of yet another stone staircase and come level with two middle-aged American ladies. I see a look of recognition on one of their faces and hear a gasp of excitement as I pass.
"Oh, my God!"
I nod appreciatively, straighten my back and move on.
"It's Eric Idle!"
This precipitates serious psychological collapse.
But it need not in you, dear reader!
[...] He points out a small Buddhist shrine just outside the camp, which marks the spot where Anatoli Boukreev, a Russian climber, was killed by an avalanche. Annapurna I has taken the lives of some 15 people. Some, he adds mysteriously, have died because they offended the mountain gods.
"By eating meat?"
"Eating meat, yes. But also having sex."
He nods knowingly. As there has been absolutely no question of my having sex on Annapurna, the gods seem to be positively smiling.
DEATH IN AFRICA. A rousing topic to cheer you up on a Monday morning, right? Unfortunately, plenty of people wake up without a choice.
There were two ailing boys, both appropriately named Innocent, at a makeshift hospital here. They didn't know it but they represented the two different ways of dying in Africa's wars.
This Innocent will likely survive for now because he made it to a hospital. But he will get malaria again, and the wars that surround him will continue, and who knows if he will have access to a doctor then? And if it is not malaria that kills him, maybe it will be meningitis or measles or AIDS. Those scourges already kill far too many Africans, even in tranquil areas where a fragile social order holds together. Add war to that picture, and the death toll rises calamitously.
That is the second way of death in Africa's wars.
Horrible though the genocidal spasms in Rwanda and the aerial bombings in Sudan have been, the vast majority of those who die in African war zones are not done in directly by warriors. Rather, it is the disruption that a few thousand armed men in ragtag militias can create in the lives of millions of civilians that send so many innocents to their graves.
In recent months, aid workers have begun providing a clearer picture of exactly why so many Africans die when conflict flares.
And you might want to know why, and write your politicians asking them to pay attention to creating a "culture of life" in Africa, where we could save millions of lives with relatively little effort, if we gave enough of a goddamn.
Think of baseball's Cecil Fielder and Rollie Fingers, the news executive Bill Headline, the artist Rembrandt Peale, the poet William Wordsworth, the pathologist (not gynecologist) Zoltan Ovary, the novelist Francine Prose, the poker champion Chris Moneymaker, the musicians Paul Horn and Mickey Bass, the TV weatherman Storm Field, Judge Wisdom, the spokesman Larry Speakes, the dancer Benjamin Millepied, the opera singer Peter Schreier, the British neurologist Lord Brain, the entertainer Tommy Tune, the CBS Television ratings maven David Poltrack.
It goes on. Has anyone yet done an analysis of some kind as to the relationship of chosen Internet pseudonyms to what personality the users choose to present?
AGAIN, DANGEROUS HARLANS. Another profile. It's a little hard for me to get used to Harlan turning into a little old man, instead of either the enfant terrible, or the mature man I've known. (Okay, we're the same height; wanna make something of it, pallie?) (Gee, it was 1973 when I first met him.)
And lookie here:
Among his exploits:
...attending a science-fiction convention in Phoenix in an RV and refusing, throughout his stay, to spend any money – for food, water, even an electrical hookup – in the state of Arizona because its legislature hadn't voted to approve the Equal Rights Amendment.
Ah, the stories I could tell. Such as how I had to have the arrangements made with the Mayor of Phoenix's office to get permission to park the RV outside the Hyatt for most of a week; how long it took to get permission to bag the parking meter; or, more colorfully, what happens when you call the Phoenix Police Department on a Labor Day weekend to explain that you're the World Science Fiction Convention, and your Guest of Honor absolutely demands that you get the Bomb Squad to check out his RV with a dog because of death threats; or how Harlan reacted to some news related to the bomb threats late in the con; or, related, how Harlan mock choked me; or Harlan's reaction to his then-assistant, Linda, telling him she told Norman Spinrad he could ride back to LA with them. Or how Anna Vargo and Phil Paine had to drive to LA and sleep on Harlan's couch to get his promised story out of him. Or the many phone calls.
And so on. (But I wouldn't want to stimulate painful memories, Bruce.)
Come to think of it, the last time he called me was only two years ago, and it was because David Gerrold had thoughtfully given him a copy of something I wrote on the internets about him. But it ended up a nice chatty hour-long call, which is typical of Harlan.
It started with Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist, who seven years ago was diagnosed with a cancer so virulent that he was given only a 40 per cent chance of survival. He created the Lance Armstrong Foundation and designed the yellow Livestrong wristband: the yellow for the jersey of the Tour de France leader and "live strong" his motto. Five million bands were made, to be sold at $1 each, with all proceeds going to the LAF. After Armstrong won his sixth Tour de France, the bracelets sold out within days.
Millions more were manufactured, but by the time celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Matt Damon, Robin Williams and Bono started to back the campaign, new orders were flooding in at a rate of nearly 400,000 a day from the charity website.
The craze caught on in Britain, but people here had to wait up to a month to receive their bracelets because of demand. As a result, a black market grew on the internet, with second-hand ones selling for many times their cost, with none of the profit going to the charity.
After an increase in reports of racist incidents in football across Europe, Thierry Henry, the Arsenal striker, joined forces with other players from across Europe, and Nike, to create Stand Up Speak Up, with a black and white double wristband as its symbol. Proceeds go to anti-racism projects across Europe.
Radio 1 launched a wristband campaign to coincide with the Government's anti-bullying week last November. The bands were free and inscribed with the simple message - Beat Bullying. Again, demand, driven by celebrities, was so great that eBay auctions had at one point pushed the price up to £16.
Other charities, including Breast Cancer Care, have also launched wristbands, while in America, the craze has gone haywire. Orange bracelets can now signify support for Asperger's or self-harm support groups; grey for diabetes or cancer of the brain organisations; purple for cystic fibrosis, domestic violence and lupus campaigns and green for leukaemia and organ donor charities.
Here's the tag explanation, for the possibly confused, that I love:
The charity wristbands are entirely unconnected to the "sex bracelets" which have become a fashion among American high-school students. Black signifies the owner is prepared to have sex, orange that they are prepared to kiss, while a clear bracelet suggests the wearer is prepared to do "whatever you want".
White signifies a French kiss.
Is that still a "freedom kiss"?
And here, here. Here, with no link to me. And here, after a bit of confusion. After it was said that I was "gravely ill," which I felt was way over-stating how I am at present, I wrote Cory:
"Alameida" misspoke in saying I was "gravely ill." I don't want anyone to donate under a misapprehension. I've been gravely ill, on several occasions, but presently I'm merely suffering from various ailments, some of which are responding somewhat to medication, and others less well. But while my blood pressure keeps making the medicos look at me like my head will explode a la Scanners any second, and the heart is rather unpredictable, and without listing all my other ailments and problems, I think "gravely ill" is a stretch at present; I have high hopes of many decades to come, possibly even blogging and luring people into the culture of death. (I'm unsure what the best short descriptive is, or I'd suggest one.) (And I'm looking for work options.)"
Cory posted a correction.
I'd have updated this sooner, but it's been over nine hours since Blogger let me in, assuming this posts now. Ah, which naturally, it isn't.
Another post here, also continuing the trend of wilfully denying me my rightful readers by not providing a link! The conspiracy grows!
Jim Henley weighs in. Remarkably, Jim links to my Diana Schaub/Star Trek post, even though he's one of the bloggers I didn't e-mail about it. Dave Weeden, though, is a cheap thrill; click on him and see.
Incidentally, I didn't in any possible way, shape, means, or form, suggest this drive to Ogged, "Alameida," or anyone else -- it was purely spontaneous on their part -- and, yes, I find it utterly embarrassing, as well as providing other, harder to deal with, reactions. And, no, the timing is not at the bottom of one of my health troughs, but rather at a time I am (it seems) heading up (I hope); I didn't choose the timing. Again, more thanks to all for supporting this site than I can express.
3/28/2005 10:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
In 2003, the Army sent ZEUS, a Humvee armed with a 10kw solid-state laser, to Afghanistan, to blast mines and other explosives left over from years of war. In the six months ZEUS spent there, the laser-hummer zapped over 200 pieces of unexploded ordnance, according to the Army, "at one point setting a record for ordnance disposal by negating 51 pieces in less than 100 minutes."
"According to spokesman at Headquarters, Department of the Army, ZEUS is in Iraq as part of a three-vehicle convoy protection concept being evaluated now," DD adds.
ZEUS uses a pair of lasers to sizzle its targets, according to Sparta, Inc., the vehicle's maker. A joystick-controlled green Nd:YAG laser is used to designate the target. One it's locked, an invisible high-power Nd:YAG laser swerves around, to heat the sucker up.
This will get one heck of a lot more attention the first time a human being gets hit with the beam, whether intentionally or inadvertently.
FASTER, BLOGGER! KILL! KILL!Here is a fine way to destroy any web page, via meteors, dinosaurs, coffee spills, and various other choices. I recommend "massive destruction" and using your mouse, as options. "Biological" is a bit creepy, by the way. And while one can choose any page, including this one, or your own, the impatient on a slow connection might prefer something fast-loading, such as the Google page.
Of course, that doesn't prove a thing, other than that he talks purty. But at least a politician who knows how to talk purty is putting forth a position from which shame can be generated, so it's a step. At the least, isn't hypocrisy the handmaiden of shame? (Not according to Google, apparently; what saying am I thinking of?; also, if you were a tree, which would you be?)
Could someone enlighten me? Do I need to e-mail Shirley Williams, or the editors of The Independent?
Okay, after a bit more of patient searching, which we bring to you, the home viewer, for free, we learn here:
In the Regulations for 1914, the title of 'AA' disappears and is replaced by the 'Senior Certificate'.
That did turn out to be simply fascinating, I'm sure you'll agree! (Okay, sometimes research results just suck, but we make sure you, the home viewer, suffer, too!)
Read The Rest of the first if you want an obit of James Callaghan; read the second if you want a mildly lengthy explanation of the history of Oxford rules of issuing degrees, or if you simply don't have an Ambien at hand.
Okay, the implications for British social history are mildly interesting.
Okay, actually I've wondered for a while in the back of my head how the history of British degree standards worked. Now I finally have a slightly better idea of what an "O Level" and "A Level" mean, finally. You've dragged it out of me. But I'm pretty weird that way. And I had to pay in mindnumbingness to read through the whole thing to find out.
3/27/2005 07:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | Tweet |
MY POOR READING COMPREHENSION. So Michael Kinsley is -- big surprise! -- talking about the flaws in the Republican Social Security non-plan and the Schiavo case again. Fine.
In the Schiavo case, Bush and de facto House Speaker Tom DeLay earnestly believe that human life is a gift from God that no one has the right to extinguish. "No one" includes the person whose life it is.
Fine. (I have no idea what their internal beliefs are, earnest or otherwise, but that being the case, I certainly can't contest assertions about said beliefs while my mind-reading cap is still in the shop.)
But how does this third sentence follow directly after those two?
The president and Congress probably would not swoop down and prevent a family from pulling the plug if everyone involved agreed that this was the unambiguous wish of the patient herself.
How does this follow? I have no idea if it is or isn't true, but how does it follow?
Am I experiencing a spasm of reading non-comprehension (it happens), or doesn't, in fact, that sentence completely contradict the preceding two sentences?
The President and Congress believe no one has the right to pull the plug, including the plugee, but they'd agree it's fine if if the plugee agrees? WTF? What am I not following here?
United States military officials said today that two underground escape tunnels were found at a detainee camp in southern Iraq, not one. In addition to the 600 foot tunnel reported on Saturday, a similar 300-foot tunnel was found on the same day, also at Camp Bucca, said Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill, a spokesman for the detainee system.
The remarkable tunnels - reminiscent of those dug during Vietnam and World War I - were discovered before the prisoners who dug them had a chance to use them, Colonel Rudisill said.
If only prisoners had thought of digging during World War II!
The Seattle coffee chain has raised some eyebrows over its "The Way I See It" campaign, which prints quotes from thinkers, authors, athletes and entertainers on the side of your morning machiatto. The goal, according to the company, is to foster philosophical debate in its 9,000-plus coffeehouses.
The problem, critics say, is the company's list of overwhelmingly liberal contributors, including Al Franken, Melissa Etheridge, Quincy Jones, Chuck D. Of the 31 contributors listed on Starbucks' Web site, only one, National Review editor Jonah Goldberg, offers a conservative viewpoint.
Here's the dumb part, though:
[...] Each cup also bears a caveat letting customers know that the quote is "the author's opinion, not necessarily that of Starbucks."
People can buy or not buy coffee as they wish; that's the free market. But this caveat simply doesn't fly here: someone is choosing these quotes, and it's not by accident they don't happen to pick some Goebbels or Hitler or Mao. I'm not in the least upset if there's a shortage of NR quotes on Starbucks cups, but to imply there's some sort of randomness and non-meaning in picking and choosing quotes is simply ludicrous.
Over the past seven years, a shrunken American military has been run ragged by a deployment tempo that has eroded its military readiness. Many units have seen their operational requirements increased four-fold, wearing out both people and equipment. Only last fall the Army certified two of its premier combat divisions as unready for war because of underfunding, mismanagement, and over-commitment to peacekeeping missions around the globe. More Army units and the other armed services report similar problems. It is a national scandal that almost one quarter of our Army’s active combat strength is unfit for wartime duty.
When presidents fail to make hard choices, those who serve must make them instead. Soldiers must choose whether to stay with their families or to stay in the armed forces at all.
Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, inadequate training, and rapidly declining readiness. When it comes to military health, the administration is not providing an adequate military health care system for active-duty service members and their families and for retired service members and their dependents. The nation is failing to fulfill its ethical, and legal health care obligations to those that are serving or have honorably served in the Armed Forces of the United States.
It is no surprise that the all-volunteer force — the pride of America — is struggling to recruit and retain soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. As recruiting lags, well-trained personnel are leaving in record numbers. Those dedicated military personnel that stay in the force face a pay gap of some, 13 percent relative to their civilian counterparts. Thousands of military families are forced to rely on food stamps. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said that two-thirds of the nation’s military housing is substandard. The calculated indifference of the administration to national defense has forced thousands of our most experienced and patriotic warriors to leave the military. We will once again make wearing the uniform the object of national pride.
The new Republican government will renew the bond of trust between the Commander-in-Chief, the American military, and the American people.
THE MIRACLE OF THE PASSIVE VOICE. What would we ever do without it?
The case came at a time when Bush was struggling to sell his plan to overhaul Social Security. "This is the second bad thing to happen to him this year, Social Security being the first," said Andrew Kohut, executive director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. "We've had a week that I don't think they can count on advancing their agenda."
Yes, these things just "happened" to the President. He didn't initiate anything about Social Security; it just happened! He didn't decide to interrupt his vacation to fly across the country to sign a bill he could have had flown to him, saving the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then shut up about an issue that has proven wildly unpopular; it just happened to him!
Apparently the President is truly a man possessed. Who knows what might just "happen" to him next? Perhaps the next bad thing to "happen" to him will be his launching a nuclear strike on Russia. Perhaps it will "happen" to him that he'll do five consecutive back-flips in the Rose Garden. Perhaps it will "happen" to him that he'll announce he's joining the Democratic Party. Who the hell knows? Apparently anything can just "happen" to him. Stay tuned!
PROTECTION, PROTECTION, PROTECTION. That's the word they keep using.
Bush and his congressional allies are looking to pass legal protections for drug companies, doctors, gun manufacturers and asbestos makers, as well as tax breaks for all companies and energy-related assistance sought by the oil and gas industry.
Who do all these wealthy businesses (and far more) need protection from?
The people. The citizenry. The citizens of the United States of America. Who the hell else?
What does business so urgently and desperately need "protection" from? Laws of the United States of America that defend and protect the people of the United States. Those laws are scary! They must be modified, so they no longer protect the people as they have!
The laws must be made more "pro-business," they say. After all, under the present laws, America has become one of the poorest nations in the world, has it not? Only further doom will follow if we do not change our ways! We must strip away legal protections from mere people, and give more to the most wealthy industries!
If it's necessary to cease protecting established rights of the people to be "pro-business," does that mean that being "pro-business" is being "anti-people," "anti-citizens," "anti" protecting the rights of mere people?
I wouldn't think so, but, hey, I'm not the one claiming that taking away people's legal rights of protection is "pro-business."
"It only happened because Americans elected a larger [Republican] majority," said Jim DeMint (S.C.)...."
Why do Republicans appear to hate the American people? (Want such scurrilous things not to be said? Don't vote for people who support these anti-citizen policies.)
CONGRATS, AS USUAL to the Hugo nominees for this year. My particular congratulations to my friends among the nominees, and as usual, I'm not going to single them out, given the continuum from acquaintance-to-friend some nominees are in (either I'll offend someone by leaving them out, or by claiming we're friends when we're only acquaintances).
Since I mentioned fanzines the other day, I draw particular attention to eFanzines and Bill Burns being nominated for Best Web Site, which will be unlikely to win.
Locus Online includes considerable notes about nominees in each category, with the curious exception of the Campbell Award for Best New Writer (which is, of course, Not A Hugo, but so what?).
I expect that many of the short fiction awards will soon be made available for free reading on the web, as has now become traditional (anything done twice for a Worldcon becomes "tradition," practically speaking, and this one has been done a lot more than twice). Meanwhile, as usual, I'd particularly like to obtain all the nominated nonfiction, and Ghu knows if I'll ever get any.
Want that Phlosque According to some inspirational Californian cults this is useful advice on the basis that if you’re greedy enough it’ll come to you. This might be good enough for the country that gave us the Swchwartsnegger As President and War against Terror but it’s not good enough for Phlosque.
Instead I'll just roll my eyes; very professional, that.)
ADDENDUM: Possibly I should have pointed out what everyone is talking about, which is that the Best Novel list is All-Briton-All-The-Time. British sf has changed somewhat from the days of mostly all Doom And Gloom a la Aldiss, Ballard, M. John Harrison, etc., to the interesting takes modern British sf writers have added to (in the non-original, non-pejorative sense) space opera. Of course, the fact that the Worldcon is again in Scotland this year, which strongly affects who is in the pool of voters, is not insignificant to the line-up of nominees.
DISSING CONSIDERED AS METAPHOR. There's something fairly creepy about writing a very nasty tell-all profile of your prominent friend after they've died, given that you, by your own account, spent years sucking up to your friend's face. Remind me never to make friends with you, or anyone like you.
The first debacle occurred after one of the films at the Japan Society. I’d been hanging nervously around in the lobby, like a groupie, waiting for her: Sontag yanked me into a taxi with her and an art curator she knew named Klaus. (He was hip and bald and dressed in the sort of all-black outfit worn by the fictional German talk-show host, Dieter Sprocket, on the old Saturday Night Live.) With great excitement she explained she was taking me out for ‘a real New York evening’ – to a dinner party being hosted by Marina Abramovic, the performance artist, at her loft in Soho. Abramovic had recently been in the news for having lived for 12 days, stark naked, on an exposed wooden platform – fitted with shower and toilet – in the window of the Sean Kelly Gallery. She lived on whatever food spectators donated and never spoke during the entire 12 days. I guess it had all been pretty mesmerising: my friend Nancy happened to be there once when Abramovic took a shower; and one of Nancy’s friends hit the jackpot – she got to watch the artist have a bowel movement.
Abramovic – plus hunky sculptor boyfriend – lived in a huge, virtually empty loft, the sole furnishings being a dining table and chairs in the very centre of the room and a spindly old stereo from the 1960s. The space was probably a hundred feet on either side – ‘major real estate, of course’, as Sontag proudly explained to me. (She loved using Vanity Fair-ish clichés.) She and Abramovic smothered one another in hugs and kisses. I meanwhile blanched in fright: I’d just caught sight of two of the other guests, who, alarmingly enough, turned out to be Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. Reed (O great rock god of my twenties) stood morosely by himself, humming, doing little dance steps and playing air guitar. Periodically he glared at everyone – including me – with apparent hatred. Anderson – elfin spikes of hair perfectly gelled – was chatting up an Italian man from the Guggenheim, the man’s trophy wife and the freakish-looking lead singer from the cult art-pop duo Fischerspooner. The last-mentioned had just come back from performing at the Pompidou Centre and wore booties and tights, a psychedelic shawl and a thing like a codpiece. He could have played Osric in a postmodern Hamlet. He was accompanied by a bruiser with a goatee – roadie or boyfriend, it wasn’t clear – and emitted girlish little squeals when our first course, a foul-smelling durian fruit just shipped in from Malaysia, made its way to the table.
It's also pretty long, by the way. Reading it made me feel rather icky, but if you love to hate Sontag (I don't, particularly; I'm rather luke-warm), this is definitely for you.
And what the hell is this, regarding Sontag's death?
Blakey called on the cellphone from Chicago to say she had just read about it online; it would be on the front page of the New York Times the next day. It was, but news of the Asian tsunami crowded it out. (The catty thing to say here would be that Sontag would have been annoyed at being upstaged; the honest thing to say is that she wouldn’t have been.)
Supply your own catty and honest characterization of this.