Scroll down for Amygdala archives! You know you want to. [Temporarily rather borked, along with rest of template.]
Amygdala's endorsements are below my favorite quotations! Keep scrolling!
Amygdala will move to an entirely new and far better blog template ASAP, aka RSN, aka incrementally/badly punctuated evolution.
Tagging posts, posts by category, next/previous post indicators, and other post-2003 design innovations are incrementally being tweaked/kludged/melting.
Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
Commenting Rules: Only comments that are courteous and respectful of other commenters will be allowed. Period.
You must either open a Google/Blogger.com/Gmail Account, or sign into comments at the bottom of any post with OpenID, LiveJournal, Typepad, Wordpress, AIM account, or whatever ID/handle available to use. Hey, I don't design Blogger's software: sorry!
Posting a spam-type URL will be grounds for deletion.
Comments on posts over 21 days old are now moderated, and it may take me a long while to notice and allow them.
I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
you are welcome to do so via the PayPal buttons.
"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Whether you dig “Lynch,” a feature-length video visit with the director David Lynch, will largely depend on your views of his work and whether you think there’s something instructive and characteristically wonderful and weird about him telling an assistant, “I want a one-legged 16-year-old girl.” It says something about the unflappable nature of his employees or their familiarity with his desires that the assistant doesn’t appear startled by this request or his ensuing demands for “a Eurasian” and “a pet monkey.”
[...] Like any urban gathering, a few participants carried signs of political protest. "Stem cells might have saved me," read one. And, there were chants, logic aside.
"What do we want?"
"When do we want them?"
It's me, in the morning, if not the whole day.
[...] Most shoppers at Fremont's PCC Natural Markets store laughed as the zombie procession staggered into the bakery, past the frozen-food aisles and through the produce department. Teens lounging outside a nearby coffee shop laughed off the first few zombies, then looked increasingly concerned as the horde advanced. A bookstore under "attack" had a fitting title in its display window: "The Zombie Survival Guide."
I used to live on Capitol Hill, in the U. District, and in Belltown, myself ('78-'85), but I was never more than partially or temporarily undead.
JEWISH TALIBAN. I'm so cheered when I read something like this:
Five assailants believed to be Ultra-Orthodox Jews assaulted a woman and an Israel Defense Forces soldier Sunday for sitting next to each other on a bus bound for Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem.
The incident began when the five men asked the religious woman to move to the back of the bus to prevent males and females from sitting together in public. When she refused, they beat her and the male soldier who sat next to her.
Police forces that arrived at the scene to arrest the men were attacked by dozens of ultra-Orthodox men who punctured the tires of their vehicles, allowing the assailants to escape. No one was hurt in the incident.
The ultra-Orthodox community in Beit Shemesh has been at odds with Egged over their demands that the bus company operates so-called "kosher" lines where woman and men are seated separately.
In 2006 dozens of Haredi protestors took to the streets, hurling stones and eggs to demonstrate against the bus company. In one incident, a bus driver who was attacked fired his handgun in the air to fend off his assailants
Robert Heinlein once posited, for a short story of the same name, a concept called "Coventry," a sealed off (by a force bubble: it's science fiction, ok?) territory of land, the size of a couple of large American states, which people who are convicted of crimes by this mildly-future America can choose to voluntarily be exiled to, if they wish to turn down the alternative of therapy to re-adjust them to society's norms of non-violence.
"Coventry" was self-ruled, and the outside didn't care as to what went on inside it, so long as no one escaped.
My idea is a little different. We round up all the religious fanatics on Earth, as measured by their willingness to cross the line of committing or advocating violence against others, in furtherance of their religious beliefs, and exile all the groups to some land like Coventry -- if Australia would care to volunteer to give up their land, that would be very gracious -- and let them settle matters as they wish, while leaving the rest of us the hell alone.
Freedom of religion and speech as usual for everyone else, of course. Really, would it be such a bad idea?
(Admittedly, I'll leave it to someone else to work out the logistics; I'm a big picture guy, as we know.)
[...] Later during his first month at the detention center, Diaz’s boss was off the island when a call came in from the regional military command that oversees Guantánamo from Miami. The Justice Department was proposing rules to the federal courts for the civilian lawyers who wanted to visit detainees. Justice officials wanted the military to be able to listen in on meetings between the prisoners and their lawyers, and Diaz was told to work with intelligence officers to come up with an explanation of why such monitoring was necessary.
Diaz said he went to report the assignment to the Guantánamo chief of staff, Col. Tim Lynch. It turned out that Lynch had been over this ground before. As Diaz sat down in his office, he recalled, Lynch dialed his counterpart in Miami and demanded to know why Washington was insisting on monitoring that the intelligence officers at Guantánamo had already said was unnecessary. “‘Why are we doing this?’” Diaz quoted Lynch as saying. “‘My guys have told me they don’t need it. The boots-on-the-ground guys, they don’t need it!’”
Lynch was irate, Diaz said. But Diaz was more taken aback by the substance of the exchange than by its tone. (Lynch did not respond to my repeated e-mail messages requesting comment.) “D.O.J. wanted this,” Diaz told me, “so we had to make up some reasons why we needed it.” Justice Department officials sent an affidavit to be signed by the Guantánamo commander asserting that some of the detainees had been trained to pass “coded messages in furtherance of terrorist operations” to comrades on the outside. Diaz and the intelligence officers were asked to show how 12 detainees from Kuwait (whose lawyers were challenging the visiting rules in court) might pull off such a plot. But the officers could find only three Kuwaitis who sounded plausibly dangerous enough, and even then, the administration’s claims were rejected by the court. “It was a reach,” Diaz recalled. “We were just throwing up these obstacles in the way of implementing the Rasul decision.”
HOW TO REALLY TAKE DOWN HUGO CHAVEZ. Things Hugo Chavez has been doing:
[...] Citgo started its outreach in 2005 with a 40 percent discount on heating oil for poor households and expanded it in August to finance social and economic development. The company has committed to donating $3.6 million over the next three years to nine Bronx initiatives that would use the money to create jobs, foster community empowerment and clean up the urban environment.
By the winter of 2006-7, the program had doubled to deliver 100 million gallons to 1.2 million people from Alaska to Vermont. Citgo said it expected to supply 110 million gallons this winter.
Ms. Babb said Citgo officials visit the Bronx more often than the other corporate donors she works with. They have asked community groups what kinds of grants they need, awarding one to Mount Hope for a child care cooperative. And they celebrated with the locals in Hunts Point Riverside Park over Venezuelan food — arepas and carne mechada — and Latin American music.
The Citgo donations are a tiny percentage of its annual budget. It does not have to disclose financial statements because it is not a publicly traded company. Citgo, which sold 25.1 billion gallons of petroleum products last year, estimates that last winter’s oil program cost it $80 million, according to a Citgo document provided by Bernardo Alvarez Herrera, the Venezuelan ambassador to the United States.
That is about the same amount that Exxon Mobil — the largest publicly traded oil company, with roughly 10 times the revenue of Citgo — reported spending on philanthropy in the United States in 2006.
A response to things Hugo Chavez has been doing:
[...] United States petroleum industry officials are not happy, however, with Citgo’s program.
It is “designed to embarrass us,” Larry Goldstein, the president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation, an industry-supported analysis group in New York, said when it was launched in 2005.
“It’s not designed to help poor people,” he said. “Chávez is astute, clever, with a major political agenda, largely to get under our skin, and he does that everywhere and anywhere he can.”
Wanna know how you can really get back at the evil commie dictator Chavez for this propaganda coup? Really embarrass him and make him squirm, and sweat? Get under his skin?
Up your charitable donations by a factor of twenty, no, thirty, and put the money largely in the form of long-term endowments and grants to organizations and programs in poor neighborhoods around America, and beat Chavez at his own game!
Make poor people love you! Think of the fantastic image improvement you'll have! Imagine how Chavez will be put in the dust!
That'll show that oppressive 'ol creepy dictator-y guy.
Upping your donations fifty times would be even better.
Do it because you hate Chavez so much. Use your hatred: it will make you stronger yet in the Dark Side.
I'm looking at you, Larry Goldstein, the president of the Petroleum Industry Research Foundation. You serve your master well by doing this, and you will be rewarded. [I make a certain wrist gesture]
GET WHAT YOU NEED FROM COMCAST! Comcast High-Speed FISA Surveillance, with PowerBoostIntercept makes fast eavesdropping on the citizenry even faster!
Steven Aftergood, of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy points out:
Upon lawful request and for a thousand dollars, Comcast, one of the nation's leading telecommunications companies, will intercept its customers' communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The cost for performing any FISA surveillance "requiring deployment of an intercept device" is $1,000.00 for the "initial start-up fee (including the first month of intercept service)," according to a newly disclosed Comcast Handbook for Law Enforcement (pdf).
Thereafter, the surveillance fee goes down to "$750.00 per month for each subsequent month in which the original [FISA] order or any extensions of the original order are active."
BECAUSE THIS ISN'T EMBARRASSING UNTIL SOMEONE INSERTS A COIN. Tojo was an idiot; the Japanese will rule the world with their crazed ideas:
[...] Deftly, Ms. Tsukioka, a 29-year-old experimental fashion designer, lifted a flap on her skirt to reveal a large sheet of cloth printed in bright red with a soft drink logo partly visible. By holding the sheet open and stepping to the side of the road, she showed how a woman walking alone could elude pursuers — by disguising herself as a vending machine.
The wearer hides behind the sheet, printed with an actual-size photo of a vending machine. Ms. Tsukioka’s clothing is still in development, but she already has several versions, including one that unfolds from a kimono and a deluxe model with four sides for more complete camouflaging.
Here's a picture; this is a human being, wearing a Coke machine dress:
Note the feet at the bottom, which a cowardly criminal would never notice!
[...] These elaborate defenses are coming at a time when crime rates are actually declining in Japan. But the Japanese, sensitive to the slightest signs of social fraying, say they feel growing anxiety about safety, fanned by sensationalist news media. Instead of pepper spray, though, they are devising a variety of novel solutions, some high-tech, others quirky, but all reflecting a peculiarly Japanese sensibility.
Take the “manhole bag,” a purse that can hide valuables by unfolding to look like a sewer cover. Lay it on the street with your wallet inside, and unwitting thieves are supposed to walk right by. There is also a line of knife-proof high school uniforms made with the same material as Kevlar, and a book with tips on how to dress even the nerdiest children like “pseudohoodlums” to fend off schoolyard bullies.
There are pastel-colored cellphones for children that parents can track, and a chip for backpacks that signals when children enter and leave school.
In fact, Japan produces so many unusual inventions that it even has a word for them: chindogu, or “queer tools.” The term was popularized by Kenji Kawakami, whose hundreds of intentionally impractical and humorous inventions have won him international attention as Japan’s answer to Rube Goldberg. His creations, which he calls “unuseless,” include a roll of toilet paper attached to the head for easy reach in hay fever season, and tiny mops for a cat’s feet that polish the floor as the cat prowls.
LOLcleaningcats! Must. Have. Picture.
There's a variety of cultural commentary here, including this:
[...] While Americans want to protect themselves from criminals, or even strike back, the creators say many Japanese favor camouflage and deception, reflecting a culture that abhors self-assertion, even in self-defense.
“It is just easier for Japanese to hide,” Ms. Tsukioka said. “Making a scene would be too embarrassing.”
[...] Kaori Nakano, a fashion historian, wrote a book with a chapter on how to ward off bullies with the “pseudohoodlum” attire. Her advice includes substituting a white belt for the standard black one in Japanese school uniforms, preferably with metallic studs or tiny mirrors, and buying short socks with flashy patterns.
“Japan is so fashion conscious that just changing the way you dress can make you safer,” Ms. Nakano said. “Culture plays a big role in risk prevention.”
Absolutely true. I grew up in Flatbush, and then Midwood, Brooklyn, starting in November, 1958, and learned to be comfortable anywhere in NYC, but only via having some street smarts.
Which is to say, you have to have some sense of how to dress down in some neighborhoods, and how to carry yourself so you don't look like a inviting victim, and you have to know how to read the street and the people on it. You have to know when to make eye contact, and how, and when not to, so that you look neither fearful nor challenging. You have to know how to look comfortable, and not out of place, and not like a tourist.
And then you're pretty much imperfectly safe, save from the occasional random encounters life brings one.
Meanwhile, back in Japan:
Ms. Tsukioka said she chose the vending-machine motif because the machines are so common on Japan’s streets. For children, she has a backpack that transforms into a Japanese-style fire hydrant, hiding the child. The “manhole bag” was also her idea.
On the other hand, if a kid tried transforming into a fire hydrant in Brooklyn, first a dog would immediately piss on you, then, if it's summer, some other kids would twist your nuts off to get at your water stream, and then they'd beat the crap out of you for not cooling them down.
And unlike previous offerings from iRobot -- which tended to be on the light, bordering-on-flimsy side -- the Warrior will weigh up to 250 pounds. It'll be able to lug a 500-pound payload, and carry 150 pounds with a newly muscular arm. Which will mean the machine is more than buff enough to pack heat.
“We’re looking at urban warfare... It can be deploying weapons systems. It can be doing re-supply operations, taking ammo or water to troops who are pinned down, perimeter security and building clearing,” Helen Greiner, iRobot chairman and co-founder, tells Army Times.
Unlike other armed robots -- which are entirely remote-controlled -- the Warriors are being engineered with advanced software, giving them the ability to perform some battlefield functions autonomously.
At the same time, a key dimension to the Warrior X700 is its ability to protect soldiers by firing weapons such as a machine gun or 40mm explosive round.
“The Warrior has the stability and the engineering to be a weapons platform,” Dyer said. One Warrior variant is outfitted with an electronic firing system with four small barrels able to shoot as many as 16 rounds a second when firing simultaneously. The robot-mounted weapons shoot as far as 800 meters, according to officials at Metal Storm, the Brisbane, Australia-based company that makes the firing system. [Uh oh -- ed.]
Follow all that? It can "perform some battlefield functions autonomously," and those functions include marching around and firing 16 rounds a second.
LAW AND ORDER. What's wrong with this picture, which is captioned "Sen. John McCain greeting supporters at a rally in Little River, S.C." and under the headline "McCain Back at Scene of Collapse in South Carolina"?
[...] In accordance with the statutory restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 973(b) (reference (b)) and references (g) and (h), and the policies established in section 4., above, of this Directive, a member on active duty shall not:
E3.3.3. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (except as a spectator when not in uniform), or make public speeches in the course thereof.
E3.3.8. Speak before a partisan political gathering, including any gathering that promotes a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
Yeah, John McCain is blithely apparently consenting to this woman's violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice, by appearing at a political event in uniform, which is a court-martial offence.
Excellent example of leadership, John.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.
ADDENDUM, 10/19/07, 10:58 a.m.: Interestingly, I find this morning that while the above photo and version of the story is still available at the link I gave, the Times now has the identical text and story on their site, still on the front page, top half, with a new link, photo, and headline, although the story is otherwise identical.
The headline is now "Confronting Ghosts of 2000 in South Carolina," and here's the new picture:
GIBRALTAR (Reuters) - A Spanish warship intercepted a U.S. treasure-hunting vessel that it suspects took gold and silver worth an estimated $500 million from a sunken Spanish galleon, the U.S. crew said on Tuesday.
The Spanish Navy corvette blocked the Odyssey Explorer after it left the British territory of Gibraltar and threatened to open fire when the captain refused to let police board. Police later arrested the boat's American captain, Sterling Vorus, a company official said.
The warship had escorted the boat, which belongs to U.S. company Odyssey Marine Exploration, to the Spanish port of Algeciras so police could carry out a search.
"They threatened that we must obey or they would use deadly force," Ali Nessar, a company representative on the boat, told Reuters by phone.
"We were forced at gunpoint to come to Algeciras."
We know how to kick your ass, Spain!
And this treasure is unquestionably American, based on the ancient legal principle of reperio custodis!
[...] The first is the bone of contention in the Bono brouhaha: the syntactic classification of curse words. Ose's grammatically illiterate bill not only misspelled cocksucker, motherfucker, and asshole, and misidentified them as "phrases," it didn't even close the loophole that it had targeted. The Clean Airwaves Act assumed that fucking is a participial adjective. But this is not correct. With a true adjective like lazy, you can alternate between Drown the lazy cat and Drown the cat which is lazy. But Drown the fucking cat is certainly not interchangeable with Drown the cat which is fucking.
If the fucking in fucking brilliant is to be assigned a traditional part of speech, it would be adverb, because it modifies an adjective and only adverbs can do that, as in truly bad, very nice, and really big. Yet "adverb" is the one grammatical category that Ose forgot to include in his list! As it happens, most expletives aren't genuine adverbs, either. One study notes that, while you can say That's too fucking bad, you can't say That's too very bad. Also, as linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, while you can imagine the dialogue How brilliant was it? Very, you would never hear the dialogue How brilliant was it? Fucking.
Wait, there's more! (In the background, someone: Curses!)
[...] But perhaps the greatest mystery is why politicians, editors, and much of the public care so much. Clearly, the fear and loathing are not triggered by the concepts themselves, because the organs and activities they name have hundreds of polite synonyms. Nor are they triggered by the words' sounds, since many of them have respectable homonyms in names for animals, actions, and even people.
The strange emotional power of swearing--as well as the presence of linguistic taboos in all cultures-- suggests that taboo words tap into deep and ancient parts of the brain.
A likely suspect within the limbic system is the amygdala, an almond-shaped organ buried at the front of the temporal lobe of the brain (one on each side) that helps invest memories with emotion. A monkey whose amygdalas have been removed can learn to recognize a new shape, like a striped triangle, but has trouble learning that the shape foreshadows an unpleasant event like an electric shock. In humans, the amygdala "lights up"--it shows greater metabolic activity in brain scans--when the person sees an angry face or an unpleasant word, especially a taboo word.
It's always about me, me, me.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5 for more fucking interesting stuff, including about the Stroop effect. Pinker is quite good here; I'm nostalgic for Maledicta (hmm, whose site is somewhat different in tone than I recall the journal).
But, really, good stuff about how religious-based swearing fits in, the same for effluvia, how one form of cursing substitutes for another, and thus can explain the weird grammar of cursing, and more.
Bonus heterosexist observation!
[...] One might have thought that, in the male-dominated world of swearing, the vagina would be revered, not reviled. After all, it's been said that no sooner does a boy come out of it than he spends the rest of his life trying to get back in.
Am I a dick for quoting that?
Can I make up for it with this?
[...] Part of the puzzlement comes from the strange syntax of Fuck you (which, as we saw, does not in fact mean "Have sex").
But for all my goddamn jokes, this may also be worth considering:
[...] The common denominator of taboo words is the act of forcing a disagreeable thought on someone, and it's worth considering how often one really wants one's audience to be reminded of excrement, urine, and exploitative sex.
WHEN DONNIE MET FRAN. This is not a normal "Wedding Vows" column in the Times. Omar Little of The Wire got married! The fellow Omar was based on, anyway.
[...] In 1987, Mr. Andrews was sentenced to life in prison for murdering a man on the troubled streets of West Baltimore, where Ms. Boyd, a former junkie, said she got high on heroin and exchanged sex for other drugs.
“Donnie is somebody I can relate to because we both came from the street,” said Ms. Boyd, 50. “We understand each other’s language.”
“I was often in bad shape when I answered that phone, but no matter what I did or what I said, Donnie never criticized me,” Ms. Boyd said. “He just kept giving me reasons why I should be doing something else, saying that if he can change, I can change. Through the worst of times, I kept holding on to that.”
Indeed, there was little else that Ms. Boyd could hold on to for 28 grueling days later that year at the Baltimore Recovery Center. For six of those days she said she “lay on a cold, hard floor, all alone, just shaking and detoxing.” “On that sixth day, I got up and took a shower,” she said, “and that was that.”
We should hear about more of these pre-marital experiences in the NY Times.
There was also a feature here, but you might also want to read Margaret Talbot's long profile of David Simon, on the occasion of The Wire finally wrapping, which tipped me.
Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for all.
On an entirely different topic, a good review of Michael J. Neufeld's new biography of Werner von Braun.
EZRA WAS NINE, BUT I WAS THIRTY-FIVE, and I know the lame excuse of an editor when I see it.
[...] I don't think it's fair to expose the internal editing of a piece but there was a struggle and it's fair to say I didn't win every skirmish. I was aware of the piece's flaws but nonetheless was comfortable running it as a provocation to debate. It sure was. The magazine fully aired subsequent criticism of the piece. And if the readers of TNR are incapable of making their own minds up, then we might as well give up on the notion of intelligent readers.
Deeply lame. He's arguing that it doesn't matter if an article gets things right or wrong, since readers are capable of making their own minds up.
They're less capable, it happens, when they're lied to. An editor is supposed to prevent that. Hell, are readers incapable of copyediting for grammar? Why bother, then? Hell, why have a magazine? Let them just find articles on their own. Are they incapable?
Heck, are they capable of ignoring Andrew Sullivan? Indeed.
Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. He knows better than this. Don't be mad, Andrew. This is just a "provocation," after all.
AND KIBO WILL BE THE REPUBLICAN NOMINEE. With slight amusement, I'm reading yet another little fable of internet harassment, in this case at the top of the United States Chess Federation, when down I get to the 12th paragraph and read:
[...] The existence of fake postings on the two public bulletin boards, rec.games.chess.politics and rec.games.chess.misc, in the name of Mr. Sloan and others had been suspected for some time. But the identity of the impersonator or impersonators has not been revealed. Both bulletin boards are sponsored by Google.
Accuracy in media! Usenet is "sponsored by Google."
This from a New York Times reporter -- one Dylan Loeb McClain -- on the internet beat.
FORGIVE ME, STEVE, FOR I HAVE SINNED. Leander Kahney writes:
[...] Russell Belk, a consumer behaviorist at the University of Utah, goes further. He argues that the Mac community is quasi-religious.
In the monograph, Belk argues that Steve Jobs is revered as a deity, with the power to create or destroy. Apple's "corporate mythology" portrays him as a "savior." Jobs' life story, in fact, adheres closely to the classic heroic adventure myths delineated by Joseph Campbell, Belk noted.
Just like the legends of Odysseus, Jason, Krishna or Christ, the Jobs' mythology contains the same key elements:
* The call to adventure: joining the Homebrew Computer Club.
* A helper: Steve Wozniak.
* A wondrous journey: the explosive growth of the early PC industry.
* Trials: competition from IBM and failures like the Lisa and Apple III.
* More helpers: the engineers and artists who created the first Mac.
* Apotheosis: Jobs is anointed as the technology industry's seer, a prophet.
* Flight: the expulsion from Apple and a decade in the wilderness at Next Computer.
* Resurrection: the return to Apple.
* The boon that restores the world –- the iMac and subsequent hit products.
Belk noted that Jobs is often portrayed as saintly and ascetic: He draws no salary, he is a nonsmoking vegan. Belk said Mac users have a love/hate relationship with Jobs. He can be a visionary or a despotic tyrant.
The beginning of the piece quotes Umberto Eco:
[...] The Mac is Catholic, he wrote in his back-page column of the Italian news weekly, Espresso, in September 1994. It is "cheerful, friendly, conciliatory, it tells the faithful how they must proceed step by step to reach -- if not the Kingdom of Heaven -- the moment in which their document is printed."
The Windows PC, on the other hand, is Protestant. It demands "difficult personal decisions, imposes a subtle hermeneutics upon the user, and takes for granted the idea that not all can reach salvation. To make the system work you need to interpret the program yourself: A long way from the baroque community of revelers, the user is closed within the loneliness of his own inner torment."
I'm actually happy to work with either system. I'm easy.
IJWTS that Pushing Daisies is very strange, very different, and not particularly like any other American tv show ever done.
If I compared it to, say, Twin Peaks, you'd be misled into thinking it was different in a way similar to David Lynch, which it isn't; the only similarity is in that each was fairly different from any other American dramatic network tv fare.
As such, it's definitely not for everyone, and maybe not for you, but you might want to check it out.
Wikipedia's plot summary seems fair enough. If you care about plot; this one is more of a style thing.
[...] Pushing Daisies is a "forensic fairy tale" that focuses on Ned, a piemaker with a mysterious ability to make the dead live again. The gift is not without its complications, however — if he touches this being a second time, they'll be dead permanently. If they live for more than 60 seconds, somebody else nearby will die. (Quote: "It's a random proximity thing") . It's a gift that he puts to good use to help a private investigator friend, Emerson Cod and his childhood sweetheart, the once-dead Charlotte "Chuck" Charles.
Ellen Greene and Swoosie Kurtz play quite strange aunts with one missing eye each, a fondness for cheese, and who are agoraphobic former synchronized swimmers.
There's a faint hint of Addams Family, as filtered through the Coens and Tim Burton, with a touch of Robert Altman's version of Raymond Chandler, and a dash of Princess Bride. Or something.
At least, in the first episode, all I've seen. I liked it quite a bit. (But there's no doubt some will find it too precious.)
You've now been notified; don't ask why I didn't tell you about it.
View The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.
ADDENDUM: Two things I liked about tonight's Bionic Woman: "Who are you people?" "We're with the Department of Agriculture."
It's quite rare that we get two major magazine pieces on a unique and new topic, in the same week, and this is a wonderful opportunity to compare the differences between a good article, the one by Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker, and Michael Bronner's truly excellent article in Vanity Fair.
Mead does good work, but observe how Bronner's is deeper, more insightful, has more detail, more color, and is better written than Mead's.
Bob Egan must make excellent BBQ sauce. VF called their story "The Axis of Hackensack: Meet Kim Jong-il's Best Friend in Jersey," but it also says a lot about how to learn about foreign ways, make friends, do diplomacy, and gain information, as well as being a heartwarming story of a North Korean Ambassador, and his dog.