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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Contents © 2001-2013 All rights reserved. Gary Farber. (The contents of e-mails to this email address of Gary Farber are subject to the possibility of being posted.)

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
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People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost, Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry, Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny. It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out. And She of whom I must write someday.

Friday, November 25, 2005
ALIAS GONE, by the way.

Read The Rest as the foot hit your head. (Jay, yes, ow.)

11/25/2005 09:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Thursday, November 24, 2005
I GIVE THANKS TO Ralph Wigram. No larger reason, or reflection on present times. It's just that someone ought.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

11/24/2005 05:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005
EXPONENTIAL: THE MOST DANGEROUS WORD IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. So this kid decides he needs to be popular on MySpace.
Let's see here...what would make my profile rock. Well, the most popular profiles on myspace pretty much consist of people with the IQ and English delivery skills of Kanye West so I don't want to mimic those, but popularity begets popularity. I need some more friends. I need people to love me. I delved into the bug and found that I could basically control the web browsing of anyone who hit my profile. In fact, I was able to develop something that caused anyone who viewed my profile to add my name to their profile's list of heroes. It's villainous. I was ecstatic.

But it wasn't enough. I needed more. So I went deeper. A Chipotle burrito bol and a few clicks later, anyone who viewed my profile who wasn't already on my friends list would inadvertently add me as a friend. Without their permission. I had conquered myspace. Veni, vidi, vici.

But it wasn't enough.

If I can become their friend...if I can become their hero...then why can't their friends become my hero. I can propagate the program to their profile, can't I. If someone views my profile and gets this program added to their profile, that means anyone who views THEIR profile also adds me as a friend and hero, and then anyone who hits THOSE people's profiles add me as a friend and hero... So if 5 people viewed my profile, that's 5 new friends. If 5 people viewed each of their profiles, that's 25 more new friends. And after that, well, that's when things get difficult. The math, I mean.

Some people would call this a worm. I call it popularity. Regardless, I don't care about popularity, but it can't hurt, right?

10/04, 12:34 pm: You have 73 friends.
I decided to release my little popularity program. I'm going to be famous...among my friends.

1 hour later, 1:30 am: You have 73 friends and 1 friend request.
One of my friends' girlfriend looks at my profile. She's obviously checking me out. I approve her inadvertent friend request and go to bed grinning.

7 hours later, 8:35 am: You have 74 friends and 221 friend requests.
Woah. I did not expect this much. I'm surprised it even worked.. 200 people have been infected in 8 hours. That means I'll have 600 new friends added every day. Woah.

1 hour later, 9:30 am: You have 74 friends and 480 friend requests.
Oh wait, it's exponential, isn't it. Shit.

1 hour later, 10:30 am: You have 518 friends and 561 friend requests.
Oh crap. I'm getting messages from people pissed off that I'm their friend when they didn't add me. I'm also getting emails saying "Hey, how the hell did you get onto my myspace....not that I mind, you're hot". From guys. But more girls than guys. This actually isn't so bad. The girls part.

3 hours later, 1:30 pm: You have 2,503 friends and 6,373 friend requests.
I'm canceling my account. This has gotten out of control. People are messaging me saying they've reported me for "hacking" them due to my name being in their "heroes" list. Man, I rock. Back to my worries. People are also emailing me telling me their IM names so that I'll chat with them. Cool. Back to my worries. Apparently people are getting pissed because they delete me from their friends list, view someone else's page or even their own and get re-infected immediately with me. I rule. I hope no one sues me.

I haven't been worried about anything in years, but today I was actually afraid of the unknown. Afraid of myspace? No, afraid of FOX's legal department. If you're not aware already, myspace was purchased by FOX only a few weeks back for 580 million dollars. Not online myspace dollars, but actual cash that can buy strippers. With all that money, Tom from myspace could basically do 2 chicks at once, 580 times. Or he could have FOX come after me. I don't want FOX after me.


5 hours later, 6:20 pm: I timidly go to my profile to view the friend requests. 2,503 friends. 917,084 friend requests.
I refresh three seconds later. 918,268. I refresh three seconds later. 919,664 (screenshot below). A few minutes later, I refresh. 1,005,831.

It's official. I'm popular.
Be careful what you wish for. Who knew that the interwub actually provides Moral Lessons? Emergent behavior, indeed. (Note: moral lessons may be non-traditional, and may appear larger in mirror than otherwise.)
1 hour later, 7:05 pm: A friend tells me that they can't see their profile. Or anyone else's profile. Or any bulletin boards. Or any groups. Or their friends requests. Or their friends. Nothing on myspace works. Messages are everywhere stating that myspace is down for maintenance and that the entire myspace crew is there working on it. I ponder whether I should drive over to their office and apologize. Another attempt to free my mind of worry, I go back to watching some episodes of The OC which I downloaded a few days earlier. File sharing rocks.
This story rocks.

Read The Rest Scale: up to you. And make me your hero! (You know you want to.) Via Zed.

11/23/2005 06:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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THE BIG POND. An American-to-British/Cockney translater. The British-to-American translator. Have a bevvy, old cock: it's not cobblers, nor pants. You might be chuffed.

Read The Rest Scale: it's no dodgy diddle, mate. Cheers.

11/23/2005 10:51:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SNAKES ON A PLANE. Just because I haven't said it here before, even though I first heard Samuel Jackson talking about it six months ago.

As four-word-pitches go, it does the job it came to do. Concepts can't get much higher. ("Jed is an anaconda, Jake is a garter snake; together, they fight crime!")

Read The Rest Scale: well, that's just a test of how well or not the phrase works, innit?

11/23/2005 07:36:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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X MARKS THE SPOT. Stop the madness:
To: National Desk

Contact: Jane Redding of Team Hollywood Inc., 310-289-2143

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 22 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following statement concerning CNN's airing of an 'X' over live video of Vice President Cheney was released today by Team Hollywood:

Monday morning, Nov. 21, 2005, at 11:00 AM, as CNN aired Vice President Dick Cheney's speech live from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, the cable network flashed onscreen, repeatedly, a large black 'X' over the Vice President's face, while a headline at the bottom of its screen read, "CHENEY: I DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS WRONG TO CRITICIZE."

Unfortunately for CNN, a large number of their demographics also participate in Internet communities and Blogs, representing a large portion of their viewership and posing a threat to news cable and newspaper subscriber's fees.

Millions from across the country telephoned CNN to alert the network about an accidental "X" over the Vice President's face, only to be told that the "X" was intentional against the present administration. CNN callers flooded the Internet and online communities with calls to boycott the network.

Likewise, the international marketing consulting firm Team Hollywood Inc., responsible for a database of over 11 million Americans, both Democrats and Republicans from across the country, was consumed with the calls. "The volume of calls to our company became an issue that could not be ignored," stated Joan Friedman of Team Hollywood. "We needed a statement on behalf of the Internet community callers and their newsworthy Blogs, so we made the call."

When the founders of the company, Preska Thomas and Kevin Finn, made contact with the network, to their surprise they were bullied and harassed in the same way by the Headline News desk. Callers were repeatedly told by CNN, "Tell the President and Vice-President Dick Cheney to stop lying." Team Hollywood's conversation with the newsdesk was recorded. When the tape is played back, amongst political statements being made by the network were the words that the "X" was intentional, as an act of free speech by CNN.

Kevin Finn said, "The Vice-President is a symbol of the United States, much like the American flag. For CNN to desecrate the image of the Vice President is the same as the Iranians burning the U.S. flag at a rally staged for the whole world via television. It is a slap in the face to all those who serve and have served in the armed forces".

A Democrat caller, Tricia Rosenberg of Beverly Hills, Calif., compared the big "X" across the Vice President's face to the markings of a serial killer's hit list. "I can't believe that CNN resorted to such a tacky object".

Preska Thomas said, "Fair and balanced? I am certain that we have all heard those words before. Not exactly smart as a FOX! News should be non-partisan."

CNN was caught off-guard at the company's headquarters in Atlanta by the recording. The statements that were made through their Headline News desk are not acceptable and there are calls on the Internet for investigation by the FCC, the FBI and the Trilateral Commission.
You can't make this fucking shit up.

And here's the thing: this shit is taken seriously:
Eric Kephas / Project LOGIC: CNN: Masterful Blunderers, or Blatantly Biased?
RealTeen / Stop The ACLU: CNN Puts Out Subliminal Messages
Preston Taylor Holmes / Six Meat Buffet: Subliminable Messages … Can't CNN at least pretend to disguise their hatred?
Etc. Etc.

Lunacy last mentioned here.

Read The Rest if your mind can take it.

ADDENDUM: Mahablog comments.

UPDATE: Alexandra von Maltzan updates her post with a quote of the Mahablog post, and says:
Obviously I am featured as the "absolutely anything". I bow gracefully thankful for any crimb of a compliment from a higher left leaning being who seems to read Atrios, according to her Blogrol. Atrios' headline today is: "Wanker of the Day". Very high brow indeed. I did of course join the discussion in the comments section over there, where being deaf dumb and blind seems the order of the day. They need to wait until Murdoch buys CNN and the tables turn, in order to see that our freedom is being infringed upon by the bias MSM, whether we are liberal democrat or conservative. And yes, pathetic really...
Presumably she can now update her post to reflect my update so that I can then update my post on her update so that she can then update her post on my update so that.... And won't that be fun?

FURTHER UPDATE: Alexandra von Maltzan has left a long comment in the comments. Does anyone have the slightest idea what she's on about? Does she have me confused with some other blog? What the heck?

YET FURTHER: Partial solving of the mystery: Ms. von Maltzan's complaints, whatever they may be be -- something about trackbacks, and whathaveyou -- seem to be with the Mahablog, a blog I barely know from, and a blogger I don't know from Adam. Why she directed her queries to me: I have no idea whatever.

11/23/2005 06:11:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 7 comments

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005
CALL ME CYNICAL, but my theory is that Kraft Foods/Stovetop had this woman killed. How else to explain the timing? Cui bono from this publicity?
Ms. Siems, an inventor of Stove Top stuffing, was 74.

The cause was a heart attack, according to the Warrick County coroner's office in Boonville, Ind.

Ms. Siems (pronounced "Seems") spent more than three decades on the staff of General Foods, which introduced the Stove Top brand in 1972. Today, Kraft Foods, which now owns the brand, sells about 60 million boxes of it at Thanksgiving, a company spokeswoman said.

Prepared in five minutes on the stove or in the microwave, Stove Top stuffing comes in a range of flavors, including turkey, chicken, beef, cornbread and sourdough.

Comforting or campy, Stove Top stuffing is...
Coincidence? Heart attack? I think not!

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

11/22/2005 08:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SCREWBALL COMEDY. No larger point here, nor Hilarious Allegorical Insight, do I offer. I just think it's teh funny.
Door thwarts quick exit for Bush

President George W Bush tried to make a quick exit from a news conference in Beijing on Sunday - only to find himself thwarted by locked doors.

After answering just six questions from a group of US reporters, the president strode away heading towards the door.

President Bush tugged at both handles on the double doors before admitting: "I was trying to escape. Obviously, it didn't work."


The reporter asked for a follow-up question but the president then thanked the attending journalists and said "No you may not" as he walked away.

He strode from the lectern to the door, trying both handles and then breaking into a laugh.

An aide escorted him to the correct exit and on to dinner at the Great Hall of the People.
There's a video link.

Read The Rest as interested in quick classic comedy sketches.

11/22/2005 08:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT THE COMMANDERS ASK FOR? This is a report dependent upon anonymous sources, and not established facts -- you have to consider how much credence to give Sally B. Donnelly's "two sources with knowledge of the meeting," but since Time is putting their rep out there by posting this, that seems quite well worth noting, and following up on:
If the Repulblican [SIC] Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee wants to get a second opinion on how the war in Iraq is going, where does he turn? To the Pentagon, but not to the top brass this time. In an unusual closed-door meeting on Capitol Hill last week, Virginia's John Warner, joined by Democratic Senators Carl Levin of Michigan and Mark Dayton of Minnesota, sat across the table from 10 military officers chosen for their experience on the battlefield rather than in the political arena. Warner rounded up the battalion commanders to get at what the military calls "ground truth"--the unvarnished story of what's going on in Iraq.

"We wanted the view from men who had been on the tip of the spear, and we got it," said John Ullyot, a Warner spokesman who declined to comment on what was said at the meeting but confirmed that some Capitol Hill staff members were also present. According to two sources with knowledge of the meeting, the Army and Marine officers were blunt. In contrast to the Pentagon's stock answer that there are enough troops on the ground in Iraq, the commanders said that they not only needed more manpower but also had repeatedly asked for it. Indeed, military sources told TIME that as recently as August 2005, a senior military official requested more troops but got turned down flat.


But the battalion commanders, according to sources close to last week's meeting, said that because there are not enough troops, they have to "leapfrog" around Iraq to keep insurgents from returning to towns that have been cleared out. The officers also stressed that the lack of manpower--rather than of protective armor or signal jammers--posed one of the biggest obstacles in dealing with roadside bombs, which have caused the majority of U.S. casualties in Iraq. The commanders, according to the meeting sources, said there are simply "never enough" explosives experts on the ground. So far, no officer has been willing to go on record to complain about the need for more troops. But there is one positive sign: the Army recently decided to double the number of explosives experts to 2,500 over the next few years.
Is Senator John Warner, crazed liberal loser-defeatist, the next up for slime-and-defend?

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

11/22/2005 08:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FASHION ALERT. Lis Riba points out: Firefly's costume designer auctions off her personal stash, including Mal's browncoat (the high-detail version; starting bid $1500), several of Inara's dresses, and leftover fabric from Kaylee's "Shindig" dress...

Go to her post for all the links.

Read The Rest depending upon the depth of your costuming interest. Also, the never-made Firefly script, and a description of an unfilmed Tim Minnear story.

11/22/2005 06:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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POWER TO THE LINK, and power came from the Link. I've been meaning to note that Link Wray died on my birthday. Reports of the cause are fuzzy, but keep repeating powerfully.

Read The Rest Scale: show some respect, why doncha, if you care at all about rock music.

11/22/2005 09:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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In May of 2004, the United States, Europe, and Africa settled on an imperfect solution for stabilizing the region: send in the African Union. The A.U. accordingly dispatched sixty unarmed observers and three hundred “green helmet” soldiers to monitor a ceasefire between the government and the non-Arab rebels who were fighting it.

What followed was a textbook example of “mission creep.” The ceasefire collapsed, the Sudanese Air Force and the janjaweed continued their deadly raids, thousands more non-Arabs were killed, and the rebels began to splinter into rivalrous groups. In response, in October of 2004, the A.U. sent in an additional three thousand observers and soldiers. When that didn’t stem the violence, it sent more troops. By this month, more than two hundred thousand people had died and two million had been displaced, and the operation had come to include almost seven thousand people: some forty international staff; seven hundred military observers; twelve hundred civilian police; and nearly five thousand soldiers, mainly from Nigeria and Rwanda.


On October 8th, four Nigerian A.U. soldiers and two contractors were killed by the janjaweed. The next day, eighteen A.U. peacekeepers were kidnapped by rebels, and, when a rescue mission of twenty A.U. soldiers was dispatched, it, too, was abducted—by a rival rebel faction. (They were all later released.) Just before Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick made his fourth trip to Darfur, earlier this month, fifteen hundred men allegedly torched six villages. West Darfur is so dangerous that the U.N. has withdrawn its nonessential staff. António Guterres, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Refugees, has warned of “a very serious degeneration” in Darfur, saying, “People are dying, and dying in large numbers.”

The A.U. mission is clearly overwhelmed. Its teams, spread out across an area the size of France, manage at most three patrols per day in various sectors of the region, and African countries are hardly eager to send more soldiers. In a literal rendition of “death by a thousand paper cuts,” Khartoum has blocked the delivery of a hundred and five Canadian armored vehicles to vulnerable A.U. troops; grounded the A.U.’s helicopters by imposing arbitrary flight restrictions; and delayed visas for nato officials meant to train A.U. troops. When the A.U. patrols encounter skirmishes, they are under instructions to inform the organization’s headquarters, in Addis Ababa, but responsibility for the protection of citizens has been explicitly left to the government of Sudan.

Soon, this stopgap mission will fail not only those in need of protection but all the other interested parties as well. The Western powers have already spent more than a billion dollars feeding refugees in camps that feel increasingly permanent, and it is nearly inevitable that, as in the West Bank and Pakistan, some Muslims in these camps will be radicalized, and take up arms locally, or, perhaps, farther afield. And once the U.S. and Europe follow through on their recent decisions to slash funding for the African Union, the U.N. will be forced to assume peacekeeping duties in Darfur after all. “The A.U. is looking for a peg to hang success on so it can walk away gracefully,” one U.N. official told me.

That peg may be hard to find. The peace talks between Khartoum and an ever increasing number of rebel groups, which began last year and are now entering their seventh round, have become a farce. The prospects for stability are so dim that diplomats have begun trotting out alibis from past ethnic conflicts. “It’s a tribal war,” Zoellick said in Khartoum, on November 9th. “And, frankly, I don’t think foreign forces ought to get themselves in the middle of a tribal war.” But, if a humanitarian calamity is going to be averted, “foreign forces” will be required. Darfur’s displaced have gathered in some three hundred sites, and someone needs to protect them from the janjaweed who prowl nearby. Roads must be made safe for humanitarian relief convoys. In the longer term, a political deal must be struck between the region’s warring factions, and the majority of Darfur’s displaced must feel safe enough to return home.

These are monumental tasks that the African Union alone cannot perform. Roméo Dallaire, the U.N.’s commander during the Rwanda genocide, has said that a multinational force of up to forty-four thousand troops is needed. Other experts have said that twenty-five thousand armed troops, with a mandate to protect civilians, would vastly improve the situation. If planning starts now, within six months or so the A.U. mission could be absorbed into a far larger multinational U.N. force that could appeal for troops from such peacekeeping veterans as Canada, the Netherlands, Turkey, and Jordan.

Persuading these countries to send their troops to Darfur won’t be easy. Nor will obtaining permission from Sudan, which, in a ghastly coincidence of timing, takes over the A.U.’s rotating presidency in January. But the alternative is a far bigger African problem—with no African, or international, solution.
And here's the flip side of the anti-war stance on Iraq. Okay, so U.S. troops aren't killing anyone in Sudan. Are we therefore more moral? Is it being a "chickenhawk" to ask that question? Do these people not matter because they are foreign, distant, dark, Muslim, or just because you don't see them on tv every day?

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5. Samantha Power is a hero of mine.

11/22/2005 09:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Villagers who protested that a new housing estate would “harm the fairies” living in their midst have forced a property company to scrap its building plans and start again.

Marcus Salter, head of Genesis Properties, estimates that the small colony of fairies believed to live beneath a rock in St Fillans, Perthshire, has cost him £15,000. His first notice of the residential sensibilities of the netherworld came as his diggers moved on to a site on the outskirts of the village, which crowns the easterly shore of Loch Earn.

He said: “A neighbour came over shouting, ‘Don’t move that rock. You’ll kill the fairies’.” The rock protruded from the centre of a gently shelving field, edged by the steep slopes of Dundurn mountain, where in the sixth century the Celtic missionary St Fillan set up camp and attempted to convert the Picts from the pagan darkness of superstition.

“Then we got a series of phone calls, saying we were disturbing the fairies. I thought they were joking. It didn’t go down very well,” Mr Salter said.
I suggest constructing a pub just for them.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for more quotes and pixyness.

11/22/2005 09:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SHOULD LOWERING THE BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER MAKE US ecstatic? It's certainly a darned interesting result that may prove useful in future.
The drug ecstasy reduces the brain’s defences, reveals a new study of rats, leaving it vulnerable to invasion by viruses and other pathogens.

The researchers behind the study warn of "clinical considerations which may apply to the treatment of people who abuse MDMA". For example, anaesthetics could find it easier to penetrate the brain, "greatly increasing the risk of unwanted sedation". And they say infections could cause permanent damage to brain cells or alter the ability of the brain to function normally.
Which could be bad, but since I've never done MDMA or any variant in my life (as yet; although I did do some dabbling with LSD decades ago), this doesn't give me cause for personal worry, and that's all that really matters, now isn't it? I know you only care about that.
The brain is protected by a fence of tightly packed cells, called the blood-brain barrier. This prevents all but the smallest molecules from passing through. But the new experiments show that MDMA – the chemical name for ecstasy, or “E” – somehow forces open that barrier, allowing larger molecules access to the brain.

Bryan Yamamoto at Boston University, US, and colleagues gave rats four doses of MDMA over 8 hours. “We were trying to approximate a human dosaging pattern,” says Yamamoto. The scientists also injected a blue dye, made of molecules too large to get into the rats' brains under normal circumstances.

One day later, the researchers found the dye had made its way into parts of the brain, such as the caudate and the hippocampus. Ten weeks later, despite no further doses of MDMA being given, new injections of dye were still passing through the blood brain barrier.

Ten weeks in rats could be considered the equivalent of five to seven years in humans. “It does seem to be a very protracted opening,” says Yamamoto. But, as yet, he is unable to say for sure whether the breach is permanent.
It's so hard for minds to stay open, isn't it? But also quite interestingly:
Other new research on MDMA has investigated "binges" of ecstasy-taking in rats. Scientists found that rats exposed to many single doses of ecstasy as adolescents are protected from much of the harm caused by e-binges as adults.

Jerrold Meyer at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, US, and colleagues gave pre-pubescent rats two doses of ecstasy over 4 hours, then repeated that every five days, until young adulthood - a total of 12 doses.

After a period to allow the rats to clear the drug from their bodies, they received up to four times the previous dose spread only over a few hours. The researchers monitored such things as body temperature, body weight and behaviour. A week later, their brains were studied for signs of neurotoxicity.

Typically after a big ecstasy binge, animals suffer hyperthermia, fatigue and lethargy and sustain damage to serotonin axons – the long fibres extending from serotonin-containing neurons. All these features were observed in control rats.

But the rats that had been pre-exposed to the drug were spared these symptoms, including damage to their serotonin system. “Exposure does have this powerful effect to protect animals,” says Meyer.
So. Presumably we should dose all kids with 12 doses of X when they're young so they're protected as adults, right?

Keep an open mind!

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 if you want more details, and not if you don't.

11/22/2005 08:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'D BE GRATEFUL FOR A THIRD DONATION. Top Eleven Signs You're Having Thanksgiving Dinner with a Geek:
11. Dark meat is separated from white meat using a light probe.
10. Everyone mentions broadband, Linux or dual-core processors in their "I am thankful for..." speech.
9. A round of Counter-Strike: Source determines who gets to carve the turkey.
8. House decorated with plush microbes to celebrate the pilgrims bringing diseases to the new world.
7. Someone constantly keeps saying "The pilgrims had coffee, didn't they?"
6. Plates have a heatsink attached to them so you don't burn your mouth.
I'll be thankful that my life is going lots better than it has at many other times, actually.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if you want the remaining 5, which is interesting math, innit?

And always keep a frozen turkey handy for an emergency:
MAYWOOD, Ill. -- An elderly Illinois couple is hospitalized after being rescued from their burning car by a man who used his Thanksgiving turkey to break the windows.

Mark Copsy said he rushed to help John and Juliana Brani, of Northlake, Ill., when he saw their car filling with smoke after it crashed into a curb Sunday afternoon.

Copsy couldn't open the door and couldn't break the windows with his hands or feet, so the 20-pound frozen turkey had to do.
RTRS: 1 out of 5.

11/22/2005 06:45:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LUNACY. So, what happens? Drudge reports that:
At 11:04:45 AM ET Monday CNN was airing Vice President Dick Cheney's speech live from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington -- when a large black 'X' repeatedly flashed over the vice president's face!

The 'X' over Cheney's face appeared each time less than a second, creating an odd subliminal effect.
Reaction? What do you think? Malkin:
Ok, just got home and have been deluged with e-mails asking for comment and more info on the Drudge Report's big story tonight about CNN's X-tra special treatment of Vice President Cheney. It's seemingly reminiscent of the MSM photo doctoring of Condi Rice's eyes and the Netscape/ editors' post-election photo pranks on images of George W. and Laura Bush.


Someone with apparent technical knowledge writes:
The only way it can be a "glitch" is if there was another video source keyed over the Cheney feed that, strangely enough, was animated at around fifteen frames per second.

Standard NTSC video is 30 frames per second. To pull this off, an animation had to be created, striped to tape, and overlayed or keyed over the Cheney feed.

It's possible it was a mistake. It isn't likely it was a mistake.
They're closing in:
What in the hell is this about? Whatever it is, don't worry. CNN will find a way to spin it as a harmless, meaningless error. After all, CNN is an unbiased new organization with no agenda whatsoever.
Oh, no! Run, CNN liberal undercover agents! Run!
CNN has crossed the line this time, and the internet community is bound to catch on.
You won't take us without a fight, copper! Top 'o the world, Mama! Perhaps my favorite coverage: Communist News Network At It Again.

More here and here. Maybe fluoride does do something to their brains.

Read The Rest Scale: if you don't, CNN will come after you with their mighty X's.

11/22/2005 06:24:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders are editing an anthology of essays titled She’s Such a Geek; below is a copy of the call for subs (posted with permission). Spread the word!

Note that this anthology is open only to female writers.


She’s Such a Geek

An Anthology by and for Women Obsessed with Computers, Science, Comic Books, Gaming, Spaceships, and Revolution

Slated for Fall 2006

Geeks are taking over the world. They make the most popular movies and games, pioneer new ways to communicate using technology, and create new ideas that will change the future. But the stereotype is that only men can be geeks. So when are we going to hear from the triumphant female nerds whose stories of outer space battles will inspire generations, and whose inventions will change the future? Right now.


This anthology will celebrate women who have flourished in the male-dominated realms of technical and cultural arcana. We’re looking for a wide range of personal essays about the meaning of female nerdhood by women who are in love with genomics, obsessed with blogging, learned about sex from Dungeons and Dragons, and aren’t afraid to match wits with men or computers. The essays in She’s Such a Geek will explain what it means to be passionately engaged with technical or obscure topics—and how to deal with it when people tell you that your interests are weird, especially for a girl. This book aims to bust stereotypes of what it means to be a geek, as well as what it means to be female.


Possible topics include:

* what turned you into a geek
* your career in science, technology, or engineering
* growing up geeky
* being a geek in high school today
* battling geek stereotypes (i.e racial stereotypes and geekdom, cultural analysis of geek chic and the truth about nerds, the idea that women have to choose between being sexually desirable and smart, stereotypes about geek professions such as computer programmers)
* sex and dating among geeks
* science fiction fandom
* role-playing game or comic-book subcultures
* the joys of math
* blogging or videogames
* female geek bonding
* geek role models for women
* feminist commentary on geek culture
* women’s involvement in DIY science and technology groups
* stories from women involved in geek pop and underground cultures. These might include comic book writers, science fiction writers, electronic music musicians, and women interested in the gaming world.
* women’s web networks and web zine grrrl culture
* issues of sexism in any or all of the above themes


Deadline: January 15, 2006

Length: 3,000-6,000 words
So, go for it. And, y'know, I'm available for dating, e-mail exchange, flirting, and possible relationship, as well as giving sweet sweet wuv, while you're at it.

Read The Rest according to your Geek Code. Also: an MIT woman tries out lines on guys. RTRS: 3 out of 5 for amusement.

11/22/2005 06:06:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AND GOLDEN-EYED, THEY WERE. The Carl Brandon Society blog is going strong at the moment. (See also the Society's page.)

"Carl" was a hoax fan created by Terry Carr and Peter Graham when they were teens in the Fifties, and creating such hoaxes was common. The slight twist to Carl was that he was a Negro, which was quite uncommon in active sf fandom, although not unheard of.

It's nice that the Society, dedicated to "addressing the representation of people of color in the fantastical genres such as science fiction, fantasy and horror. We aim to foster dialogue about issues of race, ethnicity and culture, raise awareness both inside and outside the fantastical fiction communities, promote inclusivity in publication/production, and celebrate the accomplishments of people of color in science fiction, fantasy and horror," honors Carl.

Although there's a grievous error here
Much as Alice Sheldon played with the concepts of gender in her writing as James Tiptree, Jr., so did Terry Carr and Peter Graham play with the concepts of race in their writing as Carl Brandon, Jr.
Close, but no cigar. Terry and Pete were "Carl." "Carl Brandon, Jr.," on the other hand, was the nom de plume chosen by English-speaking Swedish fan John-Henri Holmberg, a fine fellow, to use in English fanzines for a time during the Sixties, as an homage to Terry, Pete, and "Carl." Different person entirely, folks. (Pete, incidentally, is likely best remembered for originating the saying "The Golden Age of science fiction is 12"; if anyone ever told you that was of unknown origin, they're wrong, just as it was Dena Benatan Brown who first said "Science fiction needs to get out of the classroom and back in the gutter where it belongs.")

Anyway, it's all good.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

11/22/2005 05:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY SUE? Two out of three:
The American Civil Liberties Union is taking up the case of two of the three people ejected from a presidential appearance in Denver over a bumper sticker and has named a federal bureaucrat in Denver as the mystery man who ousted them.

The ACLU filed suit today in federal court in Denver, alleging violation of the pair's civil rights.

The suit identifies the man who ejected them as Michael Casper, a building manager in the General Services Administration in Denver. Casper has worked as a volunteer at several White House events since 1996.

The Rocky Mountain News has asked Casper several times if he is the man who forcibly removed the three. He has denied it, made jokes about it and, for some time, avoided being seen and identified by the three. He has acknowledged that he worked the event as a White House volunteer.

ACLU attorney Chris Hansen said the suit is being filed because "the government should not be in the business of silencing Americans who are perceived to be critical of certain policy decisions."

President Bush came to Denver March 21 to speak about Social Security at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum. Alex Young, 26, Leslie Weise, 39, and Karen Bauer, 38, say they were ejected from the event even though they had done nothing disruptive. Young and Weise are suing.

All three had tickets to the public event, which was sponsored by the White House and paid for by taxpayers.


The three say they were told by the Secret Service later that the man admitted ejecting them because they arrived in a car with a bumper sticker that read, "No more blood for oil."


"Casper had an earpiece," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the Denver ACLU office. "It appeared that he let them in, and then he came back and said, 'You can't be here.' "

"We're going to follow the earpiece," Silverstein said. The lawsuit will be used to discover who gave orders to Casper and "who set the policies, who directed that people who appear to have viewpoints in opposition to the president couldn't attend a publicly funded town hall meeting."

Weise and Young both said they were glad to have the national ACLU take their case, given its experience in civil rights lawsuits.


The lawsuit says that at other presidential appearances around the country, people with views opposing the president's have been denied entry, ejected or arrested.

"This case isn't about just a couple of people here in Denver," Silverstein said. "It's really about a principle, about the rights and liberties of us all."
And that's why. Taken alone, this is a small, almost a trivial, thing, it seems. Why fuss?

But the President of the United States is the President of all of us, not just the President of his Party, or the President of those who voted for him, or the President of those who like him, or the President of those who always agree with him.

He's the President of all of us (someday she will be, of course).

And once we start allowing the King, er, the President, to remove people from his official appearances because someone thinks they might cause trouble, where does that road lead to in the end?

Naturally, there are well-reasoned objections:
It was quite obvious that the protestors were just there to troll and cause people to be upset. Even though this was a taxpayer event, that does not give you the right to act like an ass.
Thus, the deeply convincing opposing legal position is established. This is an originalist interpretation, right? (This is not an excerpt from the Stop The ACLU argument, by the way; this is their entire argument, from beginning to end.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 as fascinated.

11/22/2005 05:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WELCOME, DUDDY KRAVITZ. Again, with the fleeing:
PARIS - Romain Barthel greets me at the gates of the Lycee Diane Benvenuti, a private secondary school in the leafy 16th arrondissement of Paris. It's the day after Yom Kippur and the school, a Jewish one, is closed. Mr. Barthel is the Benvenuti school's principal; a diminutive, soft-spoken, 32-year-old observant Jew, who wears a skullcap but no sidelocks, and fashionable sneakers with narrow trousers. The gates by which we meet are not the kind you open with a latch, but rather ones you pass through with the permission of a security guard provided by Service de la protection de la communaute Juif -- a security firm created and funded by France's Jewish community -- who is installed in a booth in the school's vestibule. These gates close off both the sidewalk and the street in front of the school to cars and pedestrians -- they are a barricade.

Mr. Barthel walks me through the school, which was built three years ago to what he calls "new specifications for a new reality."

"All of our windows are made with glass both bomb- and bullet-proof; there are security cameras in all the common rooms," he says. "You will also notice there is no sign outside of the school that could single it out as a Jewish place."

In the past few years, Jews in Canada may have become familiar with some security measures in synagogues, notably around the high holidays, but nothing approaching this level of stringency.

Mr. Barthel explains the buddy system instituted at the Benvenuti school for children both arriving and leaving the premises. The students must travel in a pack and are not allowed to wear visible skullcaps or Stars of David anywhere but inside the school. They are also discouraged from dressing in a manner that Mr. Barthel calls "Shalala," meaning that they asked to refrain from dressing in a style which in North American parlance might be termed "Jappy."

"The Diesel jeans, the tight bomber jackets, these things can also make them look like Jews," he says. "They must look more quiet now, for safety."


But between these twin pillars of Israel and Miami, another column is building, a column pointing toward Canada. Romain Barthel's family is just one among the thousands of French Jewish families who are seeking a new home in Quebec. "For us it was the most obvious choice," he says.

That the French -- Jews included -- can hold an ingrained aversion to the United States is well-known. That, for a French Jew, moving to Israel now is substituting one unease for another is an incontrovertible truth. That Quebec contains the largest French-speaking city outside of France is a fact, and that the city of Montreal has one of the oldest Jewish communities in North America is an idea spreading by word of mouth.

Since 2001, French Jewish immigration to Montreal has increased by more than 700%, an influx of European-born Jews from a single country in numbers not seen since the middle of the past century.

Paris was burning for two weeks this month. But Jewish Paris has been burning for five years -- a steady, fiery precursor that went largely ignored by the French authorities. The rise of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in 2000 sparked a wave of mainly Muslim-led, anti-Jewish violence in France that has since brought forth thousands of hateful acts aimed at French Jews and their places of business, study, recreation, prayer and burial.


But the number of incoming French Jews has been doubling annually, and JIAS believes 2005 might end with the association having helped close to 1,000 French Jews settle in the province. Add to that number those who have come this year on their own (often the more moneyed, who enter Quebec through business, the purchase of property or university transfer programs), and what becomes clear is that this is an infusion that will have a massive effect on Montreal's Jewish community of 85,000, a community that has for decades been steadily ageing and shrinking due to low birth rates, intermarriage and several waves of Anglo flight.


"There is a tendency in thought here that much of what happens between a Jew and a Muslim is a Middle Eastern problem -- not a European one," he says.

"This is impossible for a French Jew. Many of us consider ourselves equally French and Jewish -- this balanced, mixed identity, for many centuries, has been our description, our key to success and ease in this country."


"Sometimes it's best," says Mr. Barthel, "to just look clearly and say, 'OK, it's been nice in the past, but now it's time to move on.'

"In the span of history," he adds, "this is a not an altogether unfamiliar situation for us."
But, don't worry. It won't be very long before why you left is forgotten.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 if interested; not much else new there, though.

11/22/2005 05:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, November 21, 2005
BACK TO ARIZONA. Shouldn't the Grandmasters get, like, a sceptre? Congrats, Harlan (and William F. Nolan, whom I've never had contact with).
After consulting with the Board of Directors and participating past presidents, SFWA President, Robin Wayne Bailey, has announced the Grand Master and Author Emeritus to be honored at the Nebula Award Weekend® in Tempe Arizona.

William F. Nolan will serve as the 2006 Author Emeritus.


The 2006 Nebula Awards Weekend will be May 4-7 at the Tempe Mission Palms in Tempe Arizona. This was the site of the 2004 World Fantasy Convention.
I'm not sure I'd put forth William F. Nolan as the leading candidate for the honor, but perspectives vary, and I'd never argue that mine should rule.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 if fascinated.

11/21/2005 07:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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INVEST EARLY. Early money gets the worm. Buy Obama.
By year's end, Obama will have collected about $1.2 million as he builds a coast-to-coast army of backers. At a seafood lunch in Beverly Hills, Calif., a dinner in Austin, Texas, or through events in more than a dozen other cities, Obama is creating a network unlike any other freshman senator since Hillary Rodham Clinton.

While many politicians spend several hours a week on the phone, dialing through lists of party contributors in hopes of winning them over, Obama's celebrity cachet enables him to avoid such mundane aspects of the job.

Whether on a book tour in New York, attending a college reunion in Boston or taking a family vacation to Phoenix, his fundraising apparatus is in tow. His staff makes the telephone calls and sets up events where the promise of an Obama visit attracts donors with checks of up to $5,000 for his political action committee, the Hopefund.

It's not altogether clear, at least now, what an investment in Obama might yield. There is no long-range prospectus, no true sense of the risk.

Yet the transaction offers an early benefit: Obama gains exposure and passes along a share of the contributions to like-minded Democrats running for office, who then are indebted to him. At the same time, contributors gain ground-floor entry into the path of a senator on the rise.

Buffett, who at 75 still runs Berkshire Hathaway Inc., was captivated by Obama's speech last year at the Democratic convention. After the election, Buffett wanted to meet Obama, so he and his daughter, Susie, invited him to Omaha for lunch.

Occasionally, Buffett tears out a newspaper article and sends it to Obama, accompanied by a note or comment. But he doesn't flood the senator with thoughts, saying: "I am not one of these guys that thinks that every thought in the morning I have I must convey to the U.S. Senate."

Still, their friendship has provided Obama entree into at least a slice of Buffett's vast and influential circle, including a dinner this year with Bill Gates, a close Buffett friend.

And among those in the Omaha living room was Donald Graham, chairman of The Washington Post Co. Graham and his wife were visiting Buffett (a major shareholder of The Washington Post Co.), and they seized the opportunity to hear one of Washington's newest politicians speak--1,150 miles west of the capital.

As guests continued to sip their coffee, Buffett and Obama stepped into an adjoining room. For the next hour, as they both recounted later, they discussed the federal deficit, tax policy and other economic matters.

That meeting underscores "the most important aspect" of their relationship, Obama said, because only a rare few can offer such insight.

"Warren Buffett's $2,000 is no different than anyone else's. There are a lot of people who can give me money," Obama said. "The wonderful thing about Warren Buffett--similar to my relationship with Oprah--it's somebody who doesn't need anything from me."


When Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) appeared to be struggling to raise money for re-election to his ninth term, Obama was asked to step in earlier this year. In days, he raised nearly $1 million through Internet donations.


There were no such concerns one morning last week when Ethel Kennedy invited Obama to deliver the keynote address at a ceremony commemorating the 80th birthday of Robert F. Kennedy. She said she had carefully followed the career of the Illinois senator, whom she referred to as "our next president."

"I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did," Kennedy said, comparing her late husband's quest for social justice to Obama's. "He has the passion in his heart. He's not selling you. It's just him."


The goal of the Hopefund, though, is not merely to raise money.

Rather, it is to begin building a set of contacts from across America who can make a financial, emotional or intellectual investment in his future. And it is to put Obama--and his ideas --before new audiences in different parts of the country.
Early money is like yeast.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5; watch the rise.

11/21/2005 07:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SO NEAR, SO FAR. Hayabusa:
Japanese research probe failed to touch down on an asteroid Sunday after developing trouble just yards away from the surface, Japan's space agency said. The Hayabusa probe, which botched a rehearsal landing earlier this month, was on a mission to briefly touch down on the asteroid, collect material, then bring it back to Earth.

When Hayabusa was 130 feet above the asteroid Itokawa, it dropped a small object as a touchdown target, then descended to 56 feet, officials from Japan's space agency, JAXA, said. At that point, ground control lost contact with the probe for about three hours, the officials said.

"Hayabusa reached extremely close, but could not make the landing," said JAXA spokesman Toshihisa Horiguchi, adding that the reason for the failure was unknown.

The probe switched to auto-control, storing data about itself and later transmitting it to ground control to be analyzed.

The exact location of the probe was unknown, Horiguchi said, but it was believed to be within 60 miles of the asteroid. Officials plan to make a second landing attempt on Friday.
Prepare all available gestures of superstitition, earth creatures! We find this unacceptable! There must be no end but victory!

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

11/21/2005 06:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY I'M BAD AT FINANCE. I just don't understand high finance, fer sure.
PORT ST. LUCIE — When city officials went shopping for a $15 million turnpike interchange, they had two simple words for the contractor: "Charge it."

In what is believed to be the first highway interchange ever built with plastic, the city is using a Visa card to buy materials and pay contractors to build a bridge and interchange at Florida's Turnpike and Becker Road, a two-year project that will cost $24 million overall and net the city $125,000 in cash-back awards.

Although 200 state and local agencies in Florida use commercial credit cards to buy things such as paper clips and computers, bankers say Port St. Lucie leads the state in its use of plastic, ringing up $20 million in Visa purchases last year alone.

That number will climb even higher next year as work on the interchange continues and the city swipes its card for a second, costlier road project: a $27 million bridge over the turnpike at Crosstown Parkway, destined to become the quickest east-west path across town.


Despite the advantages, City Engineer Walter England admits to having qualms about the tactic when so much money is at stake.

"It's scary," he said. "Even though I do it at the grocery store and the post office, I'm not used to buying bridge pilings with a credit card."
Amygdala warning! Be on the lookout for cats building bridges!
Last month Marilyn Hecox's 4-year-old black domestic short-hair, Samson, received an offer for the American Express Rewards Plus Gold Card.

"At first it's funny. Then you get a little nervous about it," Mrs. Hecox said, sitting in her dining room and thumbing through the application with a puzzled look on her face while Samson sat at the door waiting to be let outside.

"As the membership criteria at American Express remains stringent, the Rewards Plus Gold Card is difficult to acquire for all but the most financially disciplined," the application letter starts off.
No longhairs need apply!

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 on the first, if interested; 2.5 out of 5 on the second, if fascinated.

11/21/2005 06:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Fire up that dusty old copy of Explorer and -- if you haven't changed the default homepage -- you'll be greeted by a message at MSN that says:

"If you are using Internet Explorer for Mac, we recommend that you use another browser to have an optimal experience of MSN."

Of course, Microsoft stopped updating Explorer in 2003, shortly after Apple released Safari.
Still, this does put the gun over the fireplace.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

11/21/2005 06:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CIA VETS AGAINST TORTURE. Some of this is old stuff, but Jason Vest has a round-up.
Some perennially high-profile retired CIA officers like Bob Baer, Frank Anderson, and Vincent Cannistraro recently spoke out to Knight Ridder about their opposition to torture on practical grounds (Cannistraro said that detainees will "say virtually anything to end their torment"). But over the past 18 months, several lesser-known former officers have been trying, publicly and privately, to convince both the agency and the public that torture and other unduly coercive questioning tactics are morally wrong as well.

Speaking at a College of William and Mary forum last year, for example, Burton L. Gerber, a decorated Moscow station chief who retired in 1995 after 39 years with the CIA, surprised some in the audience when he said he opposes torture "because it corrupts the society that tolerates it." This is a view, he confirmed in an interview with National Journal last week, that is rooted in Albert Camus's assertion in Preface to Algerian Reports that torture, "even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy," represents "a flouting of honor that serves no purpose but to degrade" a nation in its own eyes and the world's. "The reason I believe that torture corrupts the torturers and society," Gerber says, "is that a standard is changed, and that new standard that's acceptable is less than what our nation should stand for. I think the standards in something like this are crucial to the identity of America as a free and just society."

The moral dimensions of torture, Gerber adds, are inextricably linked with the practical; aside from the fact that torture almost always fails to yield true or useful information, it has the potential to adversely affect CIA operations. "Foreign nationals agree to spy for us for many different reasons; some do it out of an overwhelming admiration for America and what it stands for, and to those people, I think, America being associated with torture does affect their willingness to work with us," he says. "But one of my arguments with the agency about ethics, particularly in this case, is that it's not about case studies, but philosophy. Aristotle says the ends and means must be in concert; if the ends and means are not in concert, good ends will be corrupted by bad means."

A similar stance was articulated last year by Merle L. Pribbenow, a 27-year veteran of the agency's clandestine Directorate of Operations. Writing in Studies in Intelligence, the CIA's in-house journal, Pribbenow recalled that an old college friend had recently expressed his belief that "the terrorist threat to America was so grave that any methods, including torture, should be used to obtain the information we need." The friend was vexed that Pribbenow's former colleagues "had not been able to 'crack' these prisoners."

Pribbenow sought an answer by revisiting the arcane case of Nguyen Van Tai, the highest-ranking Vietcong prisoner captured and interrogated by both South Vietnamese and American forces during the Vietnam War. Re-examining in detail the techniques used by the South Vietnamese (protracted torture that included electric shocks; beatings; various forms of water torture; stress positions; food, water, and sleep deprivation) and by the Americans (rapport-building and no violence), Pribbenow reached a stark conclusion: "While the South Vietnamese use of torture did result (eventually) in Tai's admission of his true identity, it did not provide any other usable information," he wrote. In the end, he said, "it was the skillful questions and psychological ploys of the Americans, and not any physical infliction of pain, that produced the only useful (albeit limited) information that Tai ever provided."

But perhaps most noteworthy was Pribbenow's conclusion: "This brings me back to my college classmate's question. The answer I gave him -- one in which I firmly believe -- is that we, as Americans, must not let our methods betray our goals," he said. "There is nothing wrong with a little psychological intimidation, verbal threats, bright lights and tight handcuffs, and not giving a prisoner a soft drink and a Big Mac every time he asks for them. There are limits, however, beyond which we cannot and should not go if we are to continue to call ourselves Americans. America is as much an ideal as a place, and physical torture of the kind used by the Vietnamese (North as well as South) has no place in it."

Retired since 1995, Pribbenow spends most of his time writing on Vietnam War history and translating Vietnamese works. With the exception of participating in a documentary series on the Vietnam War, he has never spoken to the press. But last week in an exclusive interview with National Journal, he revealed that part of what prompted him to write his piece was his own experience in Vietnam, where as an interpreter participating in CIA interrogations, he had occasion to interact with South Vietnamese torturers and their victims.

"If you talk to people who have been tortured, that gives you a pretty good idea not only as to what it does to them, but what it does to the people who do it," he said. "One of my main objections to torture is what it does to the guys who actually inflict the torture. It does bad things. I have talked to a bunch of people who had been tortured who, when they talked to me, would tell me things they had not told their torturers, and I would ask, 'Why didn't you tell that to the guys who were torturing you?' They said that their torturers got so involved that they didn't even bother to ask questions." Ultimately, he said -- echoing Gerber's comments -- "torture becomes an end unto itself."

Pribbenow also said he was moved to write down his thoughts out of concern for the current generation of intelligence officers. "I don't personally know of any cases where an agency officer ever [tortured] anyone; that was always taboo, something we just didn't do," he said. "But I had been seeing stuff in the news, on TV, TV commentators, that sort of thing, in favor of torture, and I thought, 'I know there are a lot of new intelligence officers, new guys who don't have a lot of experience,' and thought maybe something like this will help them make their own decisions as to how to handle themselves in these situations, especially when people in authority are saying things that are unclear."

Indeed, Pribbenow, Gerber, and other veterans interviewed all noted that one of their greatest worries is that the proposed exemption to McCain's legislation will institutionalize something that has historically been an exception in CIA culture: CIA officers actually doing physical harm to interrogation suspects. One longtime case officer asks, "Are there instances throughout history when we have known, and in some cases, at least, turned a blind eye to, that allied or friendly intelligence services are torturing people? Yes," he says. "Is it something our own officers have done? Almost never." What has many veterans worried, he said, is the fact that while case officers aren't actually trained in interrogation techniques ("I'm not sure I ever knew anyone who was a 'professional interrogator' in the agency," says Pribbenow), in recent years officers have been getting the worst combination of no training plus ambiguous signals from management on the ethics of interrogation.
Of course, the CIA is nothing but a frothing mass of crazed leftists and softies, as we know, so pay no never mind.

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: For what it's worth, Porter Goss says:
In an interview published Monday in USA Today, Goss reiterated the Bush administration's defense of its interrogation practices in the war against terrorism.

''This agency does not do torture. Torture does not work,'' Goss said. ''We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture.''


Without elaborating, Goss suggested that some techniques that would be restricted under McCain's bill have yielded valuable intelligence. He said it was important that the United States have flexibility in dealing with terror suspects in other countries.

''An enemy that's working in an amorphous network that doesn't have to worry about a bunch of regulations, chain of command, rule of law or anything else has got a huge advantage over a stultified, slow-moving bureaucratic, by-the-book'' organization, Goss argued. ''So we have to, within the law and within all the requirements of our professional ethics in this profession, develop agility. And that means putting a lot of judgment in the hands of individuals overseas.''
"Agility." That's a new euphemism.

ADDENDUM: Merle L. Pribbenow's Limits to Interrogation: The Man in the Snow White Cell.
Like Osama bin Laden, Nguyen Tai was a sophisticated, intelligent, well-educated man from a prominent family. His father, Nguyen Cong Hoan, was one of Vietnam's most famous authors. Tai's uncle, Le Van Luong, was a member of the Communist Party Central Committee and the
second-in-command of the communist Ministry of Public Security (Vietnam's espionage, counterespionage, and security organization, patterned after the Soviet KGB).

Tai joined "the revolution" in 1944 at the age of 18. By 1947, when he was only 21, he was Chief of Public Security for French-occupied Hanoi city.3


Following the communist victory at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and the communist takeover of North Vietnam that followed, Nguyen Tai rose quickly in the hierarchy of the communist Ministry of Public Security. One aspect of his rise was said to have been his assistance in the prosecution of his own father for anti-regime statements.5 In 1961, Tai was appointed director of the Ministry of Public Security's newly reorganized counterespionage organization, the dreaded KG-2--Political Security Department II [Cuc Bao Ve Chinh Tri II].6

In that capacity, he directed double-agent operations against South Vietnamese and American forces, including the successful effort to capture and double back US-trained spies and saboteurs dispatched into North Vietnam by parachute and by boat during the early-to-mid-1960s.7

Tai was also responsible for a ruthless crackdown on internal dissidents and directed the initial investigations that resulted in the infamous "Hoang Minh Chinh" affair, a purge of senior communist party "revisionists." The operation sought out allegedly pro-Soviet and pro-Vo Nguyen Giap elements--including members of the party's central committee and the cabinet, and several army generals--opposed to the policies of then-Communist Party First Secretary, Le Duan.8


In 1964, leaving his wife and three young children behind, Tai was sent south to join the struggle against the Americans in South Vietnam. He became the chief of security for the Saigon-Gia Dinh Party Committee in 1966.9In one respect, at least, Tai's assignment made sense: He had extensive experience at running a similar clandestine security/intelligence/terrorist organization behind enemy lines from his work as Chief of Hanoi Public Security during the war against the French. However, Tai carried in his head some of North Vietnam's deepest, darkest secrets--including the fact that all the US and South Vietnamese "spies" in North Vietnam were now working for the North Vietnamese; the identities of communist spies in South Vietnam's leadership; specific points of friction in North Vietnam's relations with the Soviet Union and Communist China; and internal splits and factionalism within the North Vietnamese leadership. Therefore, sending him to operate covertly behind enemy lines was a tremendous risk for the Hanoi regime.


After an initial interrogation and physical beating by South Vietnamese security personnel, Tai shifted to his fallback position to avoid being forced to reveal the location and identities of his personnel in the area. He "admitted" to being a newly infiltrated captain from North Vietnam. When the interrogation became more intense, he "confessed" that he was really a covert military intelligence agent sent to South Vietnam to establish a legal identity and cover legend before being sent on to France for his ultimate espionage assignment (which he claimed to have not yet been fully briefed on).13 Each time he shifted to a fallback story, Tai made an initial show of resistance and pretended to give in only when his interrogator "forced" him to make an admission. He did this to play on the interrogator's ego by making him think that he had "cracked" his subject's story and to divert attention from the things that Tai wanted to protect--such as the location of his headquarters, the identity of his communist contacts, and his own identity and position.

Tai's effort succeeded in buying time for his colleagues and contacts to escape to new hiding places and in diverting his "enemy's" attention onto a false track. But his claim to be a covert military intelligence agent ensured that he would receive high-level attention. Instead of being detained and interrogated by low-level (and less well-trained) personnel in the Mekong Delta, Tai was sent to Saigon for detailed questioning by South Vietnamese and American professionals at the South Vietnamese Central Intelligence Organization's (CIO) National Interrogation Center (NIC).14


The South Vietnamese set to work to force Tai to admit his real identity, the first step in breaking him. They began confronting him with gaps in his story and tortured him when he maintained he was telling the truth. They administered electric shock, beat him with clubs, poured water down his nose while his mouth was gagged, applied "Chinese water torture" (dripping water slowly, drop by drop, on the bridge of his nose for days on end), and kept him tied to a stool for days at a time without food or water while questioning him around the clock. But Tai held to his cover story.

After showing Tai's picture to the large number of communist Public Security prisoners and defectors then in custody, the South Vietnamese quickly learned Tai's true identity as the chief of the Saigon-Gia Dinh Security Section. They began to confront him with informants, former security personnel who knew him and identified him to his face as the chief of Saigon Security. One of these informants was a female agent who, according to Tai's account, had planted a bomb at the South Vietnamese National Police Headquarters on Tai's orders.17 Tai continued to maintain his cover story, and his attitude toward his confronters was so threatening (when combined with his past reputation) that he thoroughly terrified his accusers, one of whom reportedly committed suicide shortly afterward.18


What conclusions can we draw about the efficacy and appropriateness of the interrogation techniques used by the South Vietnamese and the Americans in the Tai case? While the South Vietnamese use of torture did result (eventually) in Tai's admission of his true identity, it did not provide any other usable information. The South Vietnamese played the key role in cracking Tai's cover story, but it was their investigation and analysis that put the pieces together to make a solid and incontrovertible identification of Tai, not their use of torture, that scored this success. A sensitive, adept line of questioning that confronted Tai with this evidence and offered him a deal--like the offer by his torturers to exchange admission of his identity for consideration in a notional prisoner exchange--would almost certainly have achieved the same result. Without doubt, the South Vietnamese torture gave Tai the incentive for the limited cooperation he gave to his American interrogators, but it was the skillful questions and psychological ploys of the Americans, and not any physical infliction of pain, that produced the only useful (albeit limited) information that Tai ever provided.
Read The Rest as interested.

11/21/2005 05:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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TECHNO-WHATI? I've always noticed that Technorati seemed to mostly not work, or be inaccessible, or giving obviously bad results, and wondered why people would plug them so.

Recently they've seemed to be somewhat better at not being so very broken, and I noticed that their entry for me claimed that I had last updated "118 days ago," although I noticed that about six months ago, and it hadn't changed till today.

I finally tried to "claim" my blog, and the software wouldn't do it, and I duly complained to Technorati, earning me an e-mail reply that explained that I had clearly misspelled "" because that URL redirected to


I went a few more rounds, and they finally fixed it a couple of hours ago, and now I'm finally getting Technorati hits for the First Time Ever.

This likely explains why the revamped Memeorandum suddenly stopped finding my posts, mostly, and why various other software claimed my blog didn't exist.

TMI, and Boring Information, at that, I'm afraid, but if you ever wondered why I didn't turn up in a given Technorati search, but did for others, here's a clue.

Which reminds me that I'd intended to laugh hilariously with some links to the whole "Pajamas Media/OSM" fiasco, but it seems as if a) it's peaked; and b) practically everyone has already read their fill, so maybe not. But, gosh: fun, fun, fun.

11/21/2005 01:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tim Kehoe has stained the whites of his eyes deep blue. He's also stained his face, his car, several bathtubs and a few dozen children. He's had to evacuate his family because he filled the house with noxious fumes. He's ruined every kitchen he's ever had. Kehoe, a 35-year-old toy inventor from St. Paul, Minnesota, has done all this in an effort to make real an idea he had more than 10 years ago, one he's been told repeatedly cannot be realized: a colored bubble.

No, not the shimmering rainbow effect you see when the light catches a clear soap bubble. Kehoe's bubble would radiate a single, vibrant hue throughout the entire sphere—a green bubble, an orange bubble, a hot-pink bubble. It's a bubble that can make CEOs giggle and stunned mothers tear up in awe. It's a bubble you don't expect to see, conditioned as you are to the notion that soap bubbles are clear. An unnaturally beautiful bubble.


Colored bubbles will hit shelves this February, if not sooner, under the brand name "Zubbles." The bottles are shaped like little bubble characters. Each color has its own name and personality—Zilch, the villain in black, is a favorite among boys. Girls prefer the pink Zilli. Kehoe is in talks with several major toy companies, and this time, they're begging him for a deal. Even though bubbles are a traditional summertime toy, Toys-R-Us told him that he'd be a fool not to have the bubbles in stores by Christmas. As Popular Science went to press, Kehoe was looking for a partner with a factory that could keep the formula secret and crank out a million units in six weeks. When Kehoe isn't blowing bubbles for businessmen, he's at home inventing again, coming up with new uses for the disappearing dye, the importance of which is hard to overstate. For decades, the color industry has been focused entirely on color fastness. No one has really thought about the potential of temporary color. That the dye was created for children's bubbles may turn out to be just a footnote, a funny story Sabnis tells at color-chemist conventions.

Among the ideas Kehoe has already mocked up are a finger paint that fades from every surface except a special paper, a hair dye that vanishes in a few hours, and disappearing-graffiti spray paint. There's a toothpaste that would turn kids' mouths a bright color until they had brushed for the requisite 30 seconds, and a soap that would do the same for hand washing.
Full text here. Popular science, indeed. Ever wonder why you never saw fully colored bubbles before?

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5; rather neat, if slightly long, story. Last bubble post here.

11/21/2005 01:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Sunday, November 20, 2005
THE CURVEBALL STORY. I smell HBO movie. Casting suggestions?

Read The Rest Scale: 4.5 out of 5. Semi-crazy refugee helps start war with made-up stories; film at 11.

Okay, a sample:
One CIA-led unit investigated Curveball himself. The leader was "Jerry," a veteran CIA bio-weapons analyst who had championed Curveball's case at the CIA weapons center. They found Curveball's personnel file in an Iraqi government storeroom. It was devastating.

Curveball was last in his engineering class, not first, as he had claimed. He was a low-level trainee engineer, not a project chief or site manager, as the CIA had insisted.

Most important, records showed Curveball had been fired in 1995, at the very time he said he had begun working on bio-warfare trucks. A former CIA official said Curveball also apparently was jailed for a sex crime and then drove a Baghdad taxi.

Jerry and his team interviewed 60 of Curveball's family, friends and co-workers. They all denied working on germ weapons trucks. Curveball's former bosses at the engineering center said the CIA had fallen for "water cooler gossip" and "corridor conversations."

"The Iraqis were all laughing," recalled a former member of the survey group. "They were saying, 'This guy? You've got to be kidding.' "

Jerry tracked down Curveball's Sunni Muslim parents in a middle-class Baghdad neighborhood.

"Our guy was very polite," Kay recalled. "He said, 'We understand your son doesn't like Americans.' His mother looked shocked. She said, 'No, no! He loves Americans.' And she took him into [her son's] bedroom and it was filled with posters of American rock stars. It was like any other teenage room. She said one of his goals was to go to America."

The deeper Jerry probed, the worse Curveball looked.

Childhood friends called him a "great liar" and a "con artist." Another called him "a real operator." The team reported that "people kept saying what a rat Curveball was."

Jerry and another CIA analyst abruptly broke off the investigation and took a military flight back to Washington. Kay said Jerry appeared to be nearing a nervous breakdown.

"They had been true believers in Curveball," Kay said. "They absolutely believed in him. They knew every detail in his file. But it was total hokum. There was no truth in it. They said they had to go home to explain how all this was all so wrong. They wanted to fight the battle at the CIA."

Back home, senior CIA officials resisted. Jerry was "read the riot act" and accused of "making waves" by his office director, according to the presidential commission. He and his colleague ultimately were transferred out of the weapons center.

The CIA was "very, very vindictive," Kay said.

Soon after, Jerry got in touch with Michael Scheuer, a CIA analyst who felt he had been sidelined for criticizing CIA counterterrorism tactics. Scheuer would quit within a year.

"Jerry had become kind of a nonperson," Scheuer recalled of their meeting. "There was a tremendous amount of pressure on him not to say anything. Just to sit there and shut up."


In December 2003, Kay flew back to CIA headquarters. He said he told Tenet that Curveball was a liar and he was convinced Iraq had no mobile labs or other illicit weapons. CIA officials confirm their exchange.

Kay said he was assigned to a windowless office without a working telephone.

On Jan. 20, 2004, Bush lauded Kay and the Iraq Survey Group in his State of the Union Speech for finding "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities…. Had we failed to act, the dictator's weapons of mass destruction program would continue to this day."

Kay quit three days later and went public with his concerns.


It took more than a month to track and recall every U.S. intelligence report — at least 100 in all — based on Curveball's misinformation. In a blandly worded notice to its stations around the world, the CIA said in May 2004:

"Discrepancies surfaced regarding the information provided by … Curveball in this stream of reporting, which indicate that he lost his claimed access in 1995. Our assessment, therefore, is that Curveball appears to be fabricating in this stream of reporting."

The CIA had advised Bush in the fall of 2003 of "problems with the sourcing" on biological weapons, an official familiar with the briefing said. But the president has never withdrawn the statement in his 2003 State of the Union speech that Iraq produced "germ warfare agents" or his postwar assertions that "we found the weapons of mass destruction."
ADDENDUM: I suddenly remembered that this would have to be a remake.

11/20/2005 04:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Cult TV series The Prisoner could make a return after almost 40 years.

Sky One is said to be planning a new series inspired by the original which had Patrick McGoohan as a former secret agent trapped in an isolated town.

The show will not take place in the famous setting of the original - the north Wales village of Portmeirion - industry weekly Broadcast said.

But it is understood the themes of paranoia, conspiracy and identity crisis would remain.

Damien Timmer, who has been lined up to executive produce the show for Granada, told Broadcast the new series would take "liberties with the original" and would not retain its arty feel.

"Although it will be a radical reinvention, it will still be a heightened show," he added.

The original Prisoner ran for 17 episodes on ITV from 1967.

Bill Gallagher, the writer of the BBC's crime drama Conviction, is reported to be writing the new version.
A big, big, big, bubble is going to chase them down and make them regret this bitterly, I promise you.

Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5. This is not a show to be numbered. It is a free show.

11/20/2005 03:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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REALLY, I KNOW ALMOST SQUAT ABOUT COMICS. Despite having a good idea of the original "Bane" plotline in the various Batman comics, I've never actually read them, and thus only found out about this just a bit ago, after a referrer search hit for "Amygdala" and "Batman" made me curious what the results were.

(If you're fascinated, also; if not, don't bother.)

Read The Rest Scale: only if you're into Amygdala trivia.

11/20/2005 06:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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Saturday, November 19, 2005
TWO MORE THINGS THAT ARE NOT THE SAME. If you claim that Congress saw the same intelligence you did, then you can't also claim that you can't give Congress access to the intelligence you regularly saw (President's Daily Brief/PDB) on the grounds that it is different, and secret, and more important.

It's that simple, really.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

11/19/2005 08:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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THIS RESOLUTION IS NOT THAT RESOLUTION. Thomas doesn't have it yet (UPDATE: It's now here):
The text of H.J.RES.73 has not yet been received from GPO
The text of H.RES.571 has not yet been received from GPO
But we see here (via Hilzoy):
Murtha's original resolution (H.J.RES.73):


Whereas Congress and the American People have not been shown clear, measurable progress toward establishment of stable and improving security in Iraq or of a stable and improving economy in Iraq, both of which are essential to "promote the emergence of a democratic government";

Whereas additional stabilization in Iraq by U, S. military forces cannot be achieved without the deployment of hundreds of thousands of additional U S. troops, which in turn cannot be achieved without a military draft;

Whereas more than $277 billion has been appropriated by the United States Congress to prosecute U.S. military action in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas, as of the drafting of this resolution, 2,079 U.S. troops have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom;

Whereas U.S. forces have become the target of the insurgency,

Whereas, according to recent polls, over 80% of the Iraqi people want U.S. forces out of Iraq;

Whereas polls also indicate that 45% of the Iraqi people feel that the attacks on U.S. forces are justified;

Whereas, due to the foregoing, Congress finds it evident that continuing U.S. military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the people of Iraq, or the Persian Gulf Region, which were cited in Public Law 107-243 as justification for undertaking such action;

Therefore be it
1) Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in

2) Congress assembled,

3) That:

4) Section 1. The deployment of United States forces in Iraq, by direction of Congress, is

5) hereby terminated and the forces involved are to be redeployed at the earliest practicable

6) date.

7) Section 2. A quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S Marines

8) shall be deployed in the region.

9) Section 3 The United States of America shall pursue security and stability in Iraq

10) through diplomacy.
Whereas the Republican H.RES.571 says:
Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately."
Note that these two things are different things. The bill voted on was not Murtha's. Those who claim it was are, ah, misinformed.

Roll call results on 571.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: David Adesnik comments. John Cole obviously disagrees. I assume that if I immediately point out that a plan to do something within six months is different than a plan to do something immediately, John can immediately point out how I am wrong, in six months.

FURTHER: For the record, incidentally, were I in Congress, I would not vote for the Murtha bill at this time. But I think the debate very much needs to be had and go on. And I do think that a) the difference between "in six months" and "immediately" is more than a bit significant, and b) eliminating the additional requirements/declarations in the Murtha bill is more than a bit significant. But, if not, perhaps we should make it Congressional policy that all bills get to be rewritten by the opposing party to reflect their understanding of what "identical" language is. Why not?

ADDENDUM: I was amused at this from Howard Fineman:
The melee was so intense that it brought the soothing presence of Rep. Tom DeLay from his secure undisclosed location, and Schmidt eventually apologized. By a vote of 403-3, the House ultimately rejected a bowdlerized version of Murtha's resolution, which the GOP had crafted (without Murtha's permission) to sound as cravenly antiwar as possible. Seeing the obvious trap, virtually every Democrat, including Murtha, voted against it.
About right.

11/19/2005 05:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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JOHN RENDON. You'll be hearing about him. James Bamford breaks the story.
Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life. But just because the story wasn't true didn't mean it couldn't be put to good use. Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon.


Indeed, Rendon is already thinking ahead. Last year, he attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon's efforts to manipulate the media. According to those present, Rendon applauded the practice of embedding journalists with American forces. "He said the embedded idea was great," says an Air Force colonel who attended the talk. "It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part they did not lose control of the story." But Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to "take control of the story," shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day's events.

"We lost control of the context," Rendon warned. "That has to be fixed for the next war."
So many other serious stories to get to....

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

ADDENDUM: Unsurprisingly, Laura Rozen has good follow-up.

11/19/2005 04:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE IT YOUR WAY. Not to be callous, but:
(Watertown-WTNH, Nov. 17, 2005 Updated at 2:05 PM ) _ Last night, an argument between a Burger King employee and a customer ended in bloodshed. It happened in the parking lot of the restaurant on Main Street in Watertown. The altercation escalated until the customer's throat was slashed.


The argument started at the drive through window, not last night, but last weekend. The customer apparently got the wrong order on Saturday. When he came back to Burger King last night he complained and got into an argument with an employee.

"The employee, in turn, according to witnesses, slashed the victim across the throat with a still yet to be determined sharp cutting instrument," says Lt. R.J. Desena of the Watertown Police Department.
Note to self: when Burger King gets your order wrong in Connecticut, let it go.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5 unless you're fascinated and must know more.

11/19/2005 03:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BEIJING (CNN) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton and his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin on Saturday agreed to disagree over human rights and the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, but they also announced a series of agreements on arms control, energy and environmental issues.

An extraordinary joint news conference was broadcast live in China. Never before had China's 1.2 billion people seen such a public airing of East-West views.

Speaking during a 70-minute debate in Beijing's massive Great Hall of the People, Clinton and Jiang underlined the positive side of evolving U.S.-China relations. But they did not shy away from stating their contrasting political and social views on what a modern society should look like.

At times raising their voices but never losing their tempers in this first U.S.-Chinese summit in China since the army crushed pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the two leaders focused on their achievements, as well as their unresolved differences.

"I think President Clinton is a strong defender of the American interests, and I am a strong defender of the Chinese interests," Jiang said. "But despite that, we still can have very friendly exchanges of views and discussion. And I think that is democracy."


China and the United States also pledged not to export to Pakistan or India missiles, missile equipment or materials capable of delivering nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan recently tested nuclear devices. The U.S.-China agreement covers only medium- and long-range missiles.

Clinton, who had been welcomed in a glittering ceremony on the western edge of Tiananmen Square, used his initial remarks to deliver a lecture on the crushing of pro-democracy demonstrators at the site nine years ago.

"I believe, and the American people believe, that the use of force and the tragic loss of life was wrong," Clinton said, adding that governments must protect the freedoms of speech, association and religion. He noted that a pledge to protect these freedoms is a part of the charter of the United Nations. ( 128 K/ 8 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)


The summit also resulted in these agreements:

# Washington and Beijing agree to continue a "candid dialogue" to resolve differences over human rights and to foster exchanges among officials and religious figures from both nations.

# China pledges to expand its list of controlled exports to include chemicals, equipment and technology in order to "assure they are not used for the production of chemical weapons."

# The United States and China call for strengthening a biological weapons convention and affirm their "commitment to ending the export and indiscriminate use of antipersonnel land mines."

# Both nations agree to intensify cooperation on clean energy and on building an air-quality monitoring network to cut back on greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.

# China agrees to new tariff cuts across a wide range of products ("though not enough, particularly in some of the key export areas that are important to American workers and producers," according to a senior U.S. official.)
President Clinton was a strong leader, and pushed hard. He refused to make the trip without a guarantee of a live debate with the Chinese leader broadcast on Chinese tv. He demanded to be allowed to visit dissidents. He insisted on all the things he got until he got them.

He brought back much from his trip: arms control agreemnts, trade agreements, environmental agreements, WMD agreements, and more.

That was then. This is now:
BEIJING, Nov. 19 - Fresh from another impassioned defense of his war leadership, President Bush arrived here on Saturday evening to defuse a host of tensions with China, even as many in Beijing argue that he will be able to apply little true pressure on the world's fastest-rising power.


But in a sign of how much Iraq has dominated Mr. Bush's weeklong tour of Asia, he only vaguely alluded to North Korea in his forceful half-hour speech, delivered just 48 miles from the militarized border between the Koreas, where he stopped on his way to Beijing. Nor did he mention the stockpile of suspected nuclear weapons that the North boasts about and that the C.I.A. believes has expanded since the war in Iraq began. China is the key player in Mr. Bush's effort to find a diplomatic way to entice North Korea to give up those weapons.

Mr. Bush arrived in Beijing amid evidence that China has little intention of giving up the currency controls that Mr. Bush has said fuel the country's trade surplus, or of curtailing its crackdown on the media and on academic and religious freedoms.

Officials said Mr. Bush planned to raise all those issues with Hu Jintao, the Chinese leader, on Sunday at a meeting and a dinner at the Great Hall of the People, just off Tiananmen Square. He also plans to underscore his concerns about China's crackdown on religion by attending a service early Sunday at the Gangwashi Church, a state-approved and state-monitored congregation.

"I think we're at a turning point where most of those in power realize it is not in the American interest to try to contain China," said Yan Xuetong, a foreign policy expert at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "They may not like to see China rise, but there is nothing they can do to stop it."

White House officials on the trip say that the Chinese government rejected the idea of a joint news conference for the two leaders, eliminating any chance that Mr. Hu would have to answer questions about the pace of democratization.

In a measure of the wariness felt by the Chinese, the government said that it could only guarantee television coverage for Mr. Bush's visit when he goes bicycling with Olympic athletes on Sunday.
So much for strong leadership. So much for strong diplomacy. So much for a strong America facing China, and calling for democracy and freedom. So much for defending the American producers who are the losers in our greatest-trade-deficit-in-the-history-of-the-solar-system.

So much for leadership on the threat of weapons of mass destruction from North Korea.

So much for seeing dissidents, and standing for human rights, and for freedom. (What does Natan Sharansky have to say about this?)

So much for the strong President Bush.

Oh, and:
[...] Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, tried to quell expectations for the trip by declaring in Washington last week that Mr. Bush sought no "deliverables" to bring home, a phrase that apparently embraced both diplomatic and economic achievements, including an accord for China to let its currency float more quickly.

He is unlikely to get any: in the days before Mr. Bush arrived, the Chinese police detained or arrested religious leaders. There is no sign that Beijing intends to release anyone on the list of human rights cases Mr. Bush gave to Mr. Hu in September, when they met in New York.

Although Mr. Bush said in Kyoto that market-oriented economic policies would eventually lead to political freedoms in China, the country has moved in the opposite direction under Mr. Hu. Since taking control of the Communist Party in late 2002, he has jailed journalists, rights activists and lawyers, and put tighter controls on the media and on many outspoken intellectuals. China has also restricted worship outside state-approved churches.

Human rights groups and others devoted to the rule of law, environmental awareness and other causes have been harassed or shut down amid a campaign to prevent a "color revolution," like those in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine, which Chinese officials have argued were set off by American-financed groups.

Chinese dissidents fear that the situation will only get worse after Mr. Bush's trip, when the leadership feels less pressure.
I prefer the guy who brought home the "deliverables."

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

FOLLOW-UP: Pathetic.

11/19/2005 02:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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