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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
I'm sometimes available to some degree as a paid writer, editor, researcher, or proofreader. I'm sometimes available as a fill-in Guest Blogger at mid-to-high-traffic blogs that fit my knowledge set.
If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
DOGFISH BEER. More than you may wish to know about making extreme and unusual beers.
Pay attention to the wood of the barrel!
[...] On the trip in question, he had noticed that the local wood-carvers often used a variety called palo santo, or holy wood. It was so heavy that it sank in water, so hard and oily that it was sometimes made into ball bearings or self-lubricating bushings. It smelled as sweet as sandalwood and was said to impart its fragrance to food and drink. The South Americans used it for salad bowls, serving utensils, maté goblets, and, in at least one case, wine barrels.
No lumbermill he knew had ever cut so much palo santo, and he wasn’t sure that any could. Bulnesia sarmientoi is a weedy, willowy tree, sometimes called ironwood. It’s difficult to get large boards out of it, and even small ones can dull a saw blade. Wood experts rate a species’ hardness on the Janka scale—a measure of how many pounds of force it takes to drive a half-inch steel ball halfway into a board. Yellow pine rates around seven hundred, oak twice as high. Palo santo hovers near forty-five hundred—three times as high as rock maple. It’s one of the two or three hardest woods in the world.
When they finally arrived, one of the millworkers pulled out a large cooking knife. “He said he was going to prove to me that these were palo-santo trees,” Gasparine remembers. “ ‘We’ll cut away the bark and you can smell it!’ Then he starts hacking away for five or ten minutes. Nothing. Can’t get through the sapwood. So the monster Carlos goes at it. The blade looks like a butter knife in his hand. Nothing.” After a while, Carlos turned to one of his sidekicks and sent him back to the truck. When he returned, he was holding a .38-calibre pistol. “Now I’m a little more than freaked out,” Gasparine says. Carlos took the pistol, swivelled it toward the tree, and fired a single shot from five feet away. The bullet struck with a dull thud, then fell harmlessly to the ground.
The barrel that Dogfish built is now housed at its main brewery, in Milton, Delaware. It’s fifteen feet high and ten feet in diameter, and holds nine thousand gallons. When Calagione took me to see it in August, a pallet of leftover palo santo was stacked nearby. The staves, streaked with a greenish-brown grain, felt disproportionately heavy, as if subject to a stronger gravity—one part wood, one part white dwarf star. The barrel was built by a father-and-son firm in Buffalo, Calagione said, and cost about a hundred and forty thousand dollars—three times the price of the oak barrel beside it. “If Dogfish were a publicly traded company, I’d have been fired for building this,” he said.
[...] A Web site affiliated with the Iranian Intelligence Ministry has reported that a high-profile blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, was also arrested this month and accused of spying for Israel. Judiciary officials have not confirmed his arrest but the Web site, Jahan News, reported that he had confessed to spying for Israel.
Mr. Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian, had lived in Canada since 2000 but moved back to Tehran a few weeks ago. He traveled to Israel in 2007 and wrote about it on his blog.
I've sporadically read Derakhshan, on occasion, for years. I seem to recall once getting email from him.
Given this, this seems extremely worrisome:
[...] Iran has executed a man convicted of spying for Israel, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Saturday.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.
ADDENDUM, 10:33 p.m.: Jim Henley send email, including a link to this Graundiad piece, which seems ironic now:
Iran doesn't have a policy of imprisoning people for the content of their blogs, as some human rights campaigners would have us believe.
A MAMMOTH IDEA. Pay no attention to the caveats here! I want my mammoth!
Scientists are talking for the first time about the old idea of resurrecting extinct species as if this staple of science fiction is a realistic possibility, saying that a living mammoth could perhaps be regenerated for as little as $10 million.
The same technology could be applied to any other extinct species from which one can obtain hair, horn, hooves, fur or feathers, and which went extinct within the last 60,000 years, the effective age limit for DNA.
If the genome of an extinct species can be reconstructed, biologists can work out the exact DNA differences with the genome of its nearest living relative. There are talks on how to modify the DNA in an elephant’s egg so that after each round of changes it would progressively resemble the DNA in a mammoth egg. The final-stage egg could then be brought to term in an elephant mother, and mammoths might once again roam the Siberian steppes.
The same would be technically possible with Neanderthals, whose full genome is expected to be recovered shortly, but there would be several ethical issues in modifying modern human DNA to that of another human species.
Dr. Schuster and Dr. Miller said there was no technical obstacle to decoding the full mammoth genome, which they believe could be achieved for a further $2 million. They have already been able to calculate that the mammoth’s genes differ at some 400,000 sites on its genome from that of the African elephant.
There is no present way to synthesize a genome-size chunk of mammoth DNA, let alone to develop it into a whole animal. But Dr. Schuster said a shortcut would be to modify the genome of an elephant’s cell at the 400,000 or more sites necessary to make it resemble a mammoth’s genome. The cell could be converted into an embryo and brought to term by an elephant, a project he estimated would cost some $10 million. “This is something that could work, though it will be tedious and expensive,” he said.
The more out-there part of the article is about resurrecting Neanderthals, which I don't expect to happen any time soon in the Western world, but I won't be surprised if a genetics lab in some less picky place (India? South Korea?) gets around to it eventually.
The Nature story is here, but you'll need a subscription or pay to view the full article.
Growing brain cells on scaffolds made from carbon nanotubes can boost their activity because the electrical signals they use to communicate can speed through the material, scientists have found.
The work could one day lead to nanotube scaffolds being used as 'bridges' for spinal cord injury, or as highly conductive coatings for electrodes implanted into the brain for deep brain stimulation, the researchers say.
"Neurons love to grow on this carbon nanotube substrate," says co-author Michele Giugliano of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne.
Behold my upcoming stylish new carbon-nanotube-enhanced look!:
100% BASED ON PROFESSIONALISM. Iraq is sure to succeed if it's just corrupt enough.
The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is systematically dismissing Iraqi oversight officials, who were installed to fight corruption in Iraqi ministries by order of the American occupation administration, which had hoped to bring Western standards of accountability to the notoriously opaque and graft-ridden bureaucracy here.
One Iraqi former chief investigator recently testified before Congress that $13 billion in reconstruction funds from the United States had been lost to fraud, embezzlement, theft and waste by Iraqi government officials.
Each of Iraq’s 30 cabinet-level ministries has one inspector general. These oversight officials are supported by varying budgets and staffing.
Although some of the inspectors general have been notably quiet, others have investigated both current and former ministers and other senior officials vigorously, and the top echelons of Iraqi officialdom have found ample reason to fear them.
In one case, investigations of a former electricity minister landed him in jail before he escaped and fled to the United States, and an Oil Ministry inspector general detailed extensive smuggling and extortion schemes that he said bedeviled the industry. A former public works minister, a Kurd, complained before she fled the country that her ministry’s inspector general at the time, a Shiite, had been hyperactive and had brought charges based more on political considerations than actual wrongdoing.
How many of the ministries have received orders to dismiss their inspectors is a matter of disagreement among Iraqi governmental officials, but their estimates range from a handful to as many as 17. Several senior Iraqi and American officials agreed that seven to nine inspectors general had already been dismissed or forced into retirement. In one case, at the Education Ministry, the post became vacant when the inspector general died.
Senior Iraqi officials and four of the dismissed officials, many of whom asked not to be named for fear of government reprisals, said inspectors had already been removed in the Ministries of Water Resources, Culture, Trade, and Youth and Sport. In addition, inspectors have been removed from the cabinet-level Central Bank of Iraq, and from two religious offices, the Sunni Endowment and the Christian Endowment, whose leaders carry the rank of deputy minister.
One senior Iraqi official said that the list of ministries whose inspectors had been dismissed also included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the ministry’s public affairs office denied that on Monday.
But Adel Muhsin, Mr. Maliki’s coordinator of anticorruption organizations and himself the inspector general at the Health Ministry, said any suggestion that there had been political motivation for the dismissals was false.
“This is absolutely completely nonsense,” Mr. Muhsin said. The cabinet committee that recommended the changes, he said, was made up of “mainly professional people, not political people. Therefore, the selections. It is 100 percent based on professionalism.”
Iraq, the model. Paving the way to a new Middle East. We won! Yay!
The Army yesterday promoted the first woman ever to attain the rank of four-star general in the U.S. military, Gen. Ann Dunwoody, a long-awaited step that senior officers described as breaking a "brass ceiling."
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates recognized Dunwoody at a Pentagon ceremony as "a soldier and leader of the highest caliber" who has served in the Army for 33 years, much of it in positions of command.
Dunwoody also took the helm yesterday of the Army Materiel Command at Fort Belvoir, one of the Army's largest organizations with nearly 130,000 personnel in about 150 locations. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, hailed her as "one of our premier logisticians."
THE MAYBERRY SOLUTION TO RICHARD NIXON. Ron Howard, fresh from directing the movie of Frost/Nixon, gives it here:
[...] And there’s no Richard Nixon in Mayberry.
No. If there had been, Andy would have taken him fishing and talked to him logically and made him feel so badly about what he’d done that when they got back to town, Nixon would have locked himself into the town jail.
THE TERRIST PAL SPEAKS. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Ayers.
[...] One night, Ayers recalled, he and Dohrn were watching Bill O’Reilly, who was going on about “discovering” Ayers’s 1974 manifesto, “Prairie Fire.” “I had to laugh,” Ayers said. “No one read it when it was first issued!” He said that he laughed, too, when he listened to Sarah Palin’s descriptions of Obama “palling around with terrorists.” In fact, Ayers said that he knew Obama only slightly: “I think my relationship with Obama was probably like that of thousands of others in Chicago and, like millions and millions of others, I wished I knew him better.”
Ayers said that while he hasn’t been bothered by the many threats—“and I’m not complaining”—the calls and e-mails he has received have been “pretty intense.” “I got two threats in one day on the Internet,” he said, referring to an incident that took place last summer when he was sitting in his office at the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he has taught education for two decades. “The first one said there was a posse coming to shoot me, and the second said they were going to kidnap me and water-board me. This friend of mine, a university cop, said, ‘Gosh, I hope the guy who’s coming to shoot you gets here first.’”
He said that Martin Luther King Jr. was, in his time, far more radical than Wright: “Wright’s a wimp compared to Martin Luther King—he had a fiercer tone.” Ayers was referring to the speeches King gave late in his life in opposition to the Vietnam War and on the subject of economic equality. “Martin Luther King was not a saint,” Ayers said. “He was an angry pilgrim.”
So damn true.
[...] Ayers said that he had never meant to imply, in an interview with the Times, published coincidentally on 9/11, that he somehow wished he and the Weathermen had committed further acts of violence in the old days. Instead, he said, “I wish I had done more, but it doesn’t mean I wish we’d bombed more shit.” Ayers said that he had never been responsible for violence against other people and was acting to end a war in Vietnam in which “thousands of people were being killed every week.”
“While we did claim several extreme acts, they were acts of extreme radicalism against property,” he said. “We killed no one and hurt no one. Three of our people killed themselves.” And yet he was not without regrets. He mocked one of his earlier books, co-written with Dohrn, saying that, while it still is reflective of his radical and activist politics today, he was guilty of “rhetoric that’s juvenile and inflated—it is what it is.”
“I wish I had been wiser,” Ayers said. “I wish I had been more effective, I wish I’d been more unifying, I wish I’d been more principled.”
All lies, of course. Right after this, Ayers went into his row house and called Obama to instruct him on who to pick for the Cabinet.
I'll settle for the second, though. That whole "go to the ER" thing doesn't work very well.
And because this is such a wonderful parting gift from the Bush Administration:
In the first of an expected avalanche of post-election regulations, the Bush administration on Friday narrowed the scope of services that can be provided to poor people under Medicaid’s outpatient hospital benefit.
Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.
ADDENDUM, November 15, 4:23 p.m.: Since Obsidian Wing's broken software practice of breaking threads into multiple pages means one has to search for the comment I linked to above, I'm instead just reproducing the boring relevant part here:
"is your injury better?"
Well, it turned out that even the charity option for the orthopedic clinic would cost at least hundreds of dollars, and I prefer not to add that to the couple of thousand I've already been charged by the ER, on top of the ~$1400 for the ER visit back in September, so I decided to wait it out and see how it went, and I'm 94% sure it wasn't a break, and that the break they saw in the injury was an old one, which is what they pretty much leaned towards thinking at the ER, but there definitely was some kind of soft tissue tear (tendon? ligament?; beats me), as it still hurts quite a lot.
But I'm at the point where I can at least limp to the bathroom next to my bedroom, although even just walking downstairs is painful and something I'm holding off on unless I more or less have no choice. It's still pretty swollen, even though it's been a bit over three weeks, though it's all much much much better than it used to be. I took the cast off a couple of days ago, since it was really itching, and hurting more just keeping my foot so stiff.
(I wish I'd taken a picture in the first week; the purples and all were very impressive.)
Because I've had to put all my weight on my right leg, when I've had to move about, my right leg is fairly stressed by now, as well as the rest of my left leg. And that the gout keeps acting up on both feet helps not at all. It's actually been particularly painful the last couple of days, and it's all gotten very boring.
But it does seem to be getting better -- the left foot injury, that is, not the gout -- so it could have been much worse.
ALL BUT EXTINCT. Steve Schmidt, McCain's chief strategist, suddenly gets honest.
Ana Marie Cox got the quotes, via email:
[...] When did you know it was over?
The moment that I will look back at as the moment deep in my gut that I knew, was September 29, when I was flying on a plane with Governor Palin to Sedona for debate prep, watching the split screen on the TVs, because she had a JetBlue charter, and it showed the stock market down seven, eight hundred points; it showed the Congress voting down the bailout package on the other side, and then, House Republicans went out and told the world that the reason that they voted against this legislation, allowed the stock market to crash, allowed the economy to be so injured, was because Nancy Pelosi had given a mean and partisan speech on the floor. And this was their response. And I just viewed it as beyond devastating, and thought that at that moment running with an “R” next to your name, in this year, was probably lethal.
If you look at the returns from the southwestern and mountain west states, with rising Latino populations, it’s clear that Latinos are repudiating the party, their anger about the tone of the immigration debate, and the party has to figure out a way to communicate that wanting to have a secure and sovereign southern border and respect for Latinos are not mutually exclusive. But if the party does not figure out a way to appeal to Latino voters, it will become increasingly difficult, and maybe impossible, to ever again win a national election.
The party in the Northeast is all but extinct; the party on the West Coast is all but extinct; the party has lost the mid-South states—Virginia, North Carolina—and the party is in deep trouble in the Rocky Mountain West, and there has to be a message and a vision that is compelling to people in order for them to come back and to give consideration to the Republican Party again.
The Republican Party was long known as the party that competently managed government. We’ve lost our claim to that. The Republican Party was known as the party that was serious on national security issues. The mismanagement of the war has stripped that away.
The Republican Party wants to, needs to, be able to represent, you know, not only conservatives, but centrists as well. And the party that controls the center is the party that controls the American electorate.
You know, [there were] more than eight or nine people who would [leak] and we would read about pretty quickly in Politico or one of the other blogs, with exact details and recounting of the discussion. And it’s very difficult to run a political campaign at any level where that environment exists. And it was the first time in my career that I have ever worked in that environment. It was a big issue in the campaign and a constant source of frustration to the leadership of the campaign.
Why Schmidt apparently didn't figure out during the campaign that "The Republican Party wants to, needs to, be able to represent, you know, not only conservatives, but centrists as well," remains unexplained.
Mind, I expect the Republican Party will most likely come back, and if it doesn't, obviously it'll fragment, and something else will arise out of the ashes, as the Republicans did out of the Whigs and others. One-party rule never lasts in America; corruption, staleness, and weariness always sets in, whether in four, eight, sixteen, or more years.
But meanwhile, let the fundamentalists and the crazies, the haters of big cities and dark-skinned people and people who don't speak English well and aren't Christian, either struggle to maintain control of the Republican Party, keeping it a loser, or let them leave, and let the Republican Party come back to its senses. Either way works for me.
MUNASAHA. As a rule, no one would accuse the Saudi government of being a liberal one. But their attacks on violent jihadism may turn out to be effective, and more so than by always fighting violence with violence. It's a kind of deprogramming, and education, as well as, yes, therapy.
[...] When the latecomers slipped into the front row, Jilani nodded at them briskly. “Young men,” he began, “who can tell me why we do jihad?”
Finally, someone answered: “We do jihad to fight our enemies.”
“To defeat God’s enemies?” another suggested.
“To help weak Muslims,” a third offered.
“Good, good,” Jilani said. “All good answers. Is there someone else? What about you, Ali?” Ali, in the second row, looked away, then faltered: “To . . . answer . . . calls for jihad?”
Jilani frowned slightly and wrote Ali’s answer up on the white board behind him. He read it out to the class before turning back to Ali. “All right, Ali,” the sheik said. “Why do we answer calls for jihad? Is it because all Muslim leaders want to make God’s word highest? Do we kill if these leaders tell us to kill?”
Ali looked confused, but whispered, “Yes.”
“No — wrong!” Jilani cried as Ali blushed. “Of course we want to make God’s word highest, but not every Muslim leader has this as his goal. There are right jihads and wrong jihads, and we must examine the situation for ourselves. For example, if a person wants to go to hajj now, is it right?”
The class chuckled obligingly at Jilani’s little joke. The month for performing hajj, the holy pilgrimage to Mecca that observant Muslims hope to complete at least once in their lives, had ended five weeks earlier, and the suggestion was as preposterous as throwing a Fourth of July barbecue in November.
“Well, just as there is a proper time for hajj, there is also a proper time for jihad,” Jilani explained.
And place, and enemy.
[...] Though the Saudi government tends to explain its rehabilitation program in purely Islamic terms, as an effort to correct theological misunderstandings, the new program also addresses the psychological needs and emotional weaknesses that have led many young men to jihad in the first place. It tries to give frustrated and disaffected young men the trappings of stability — a job, a car, possibly a wife.
Though the exact nature of the role that religious belief plays in the recruitment of jihadists is the subject of much debate among scholars of terrorism, a growing number contend that ideology is far less important than family and group dynamics, psychological and emotional needs. “We’re finding that they don’t generally join for religious reasons,” John Horgan told me. A political psychologist who directs the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State, Horgan has interviewed dozens of former terrorists. “Terrorist movements seem to provide a sense of adventure, excitement, vision, purpose, camaraderie,” he went on, “and involvement with them has an allure that can be difficult to resist. But the ideology is usually something you acquire once you’re involved.”
Other scholars emphatically disagree, stressing the significance of political belief and grievance. But if the Saudi program is succeeding, it may be because it treats jihadists not as religious fanatics or enemies of the state but as alienated young men in need of rehabilitation.
In Saudi Arabia, psychological disorders are often understood as the results of a person finding himself somehow outside the traditional circle of family and community. Most of the counseling that the inmates receive is focused on helping them to develop more healthful family relationships. “We use Western psychiatric techniques together with Islamic techniques,” T. M. Otayan, the center’s staff psychologist, says, referring to the intensive religion classes.
I can already hear the more militant among us mocking the idea, mentioned later, that they also get art therapy. But, you know, militancy, it turns out, isn't always the answer. Weird idea, eh? And one that some people in every society are resistant to.
[...] Upon release, each former jihadist is required to sign a pledge that he has forsaken extremist sympathies; the head of his family must sign as well. Some also receive a car (often a Toyota) and aid from the Interior Ministry in renting a home. Social workers assist former jihadists and their families in making post-release plans for education, employment and, usually, marriage. “Getting married stabilizes a man’s personality,” Hadlaq says. “He thinks more about a long term future and less about himself and his anger.”
A lot of these people are just kids, looking for something to do in a society that doesn't give them much.
[...] And global jihad is still a socially acceptable path for a young Saudi man with few options, the psychiatrist says. “You have a young man who’s depressed, frustrated with life, maybe he fails an exam. He can go from being a loser, a failure, to being a jihadi, someone with status.”
Give them an alternative, and maybe they have an alternative.
The case of Abu Sulayman, who spent three years in Guantanamo, and now is apparently happy working for an electrical company, with no hard feelings -- amazingly enough -- is illuminating.
There were articles a couple of years ago about similar programs in Yemen working. And here is a piece from 2007 about an earlier Saudi program working on reforming jihadists from Iraq. And Lawrence Wright wrote at length a year ago about growing trends of extremist Muslim theological writers turning against al Qaeda and similar Islamists. Similar programs have been going on in Egypt, as well. More money spent to support programs might be far better spent than buying another F-22.
FASCINATING. You think you've heard every angle, you haven't heard the Trekkie angle:
[...] On May 20, the night of the primaries in Oregon (a satisfying win in a liberal state) and Kentucky (another discouraging blowout in Appalachia; he had lost West Virginia the week before by 41 points), he stood off-stage at the Des Moines Historical Society Museum in Iowa. He had wanted to go back to the state of his first great triumph to give a speech unofficially kicking off the fall campaign, even though Clinton officially was still in the race. "That's an interesting belt buckle," he said to Michelle, mischievously. She feigned offense and said, "I am interesting, next to you. Surprise, surprise, a blue suit, a white shirt and a tie." Obama grinned and bent down until he was almost at eye level with her waist. He jabbed a playful finger toward her belt buckle, and let loose his inner nerd. "The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!" Obama squeaked, laughing at his own lame joke as Michelle rolled her eyes.
Most illogical. Scotty generally worked with dilithium, after all. Must be a reference to Obama going where none have gone before.
[...] To talk with left-leaning Democrats in New Hope, San Francisco or Miami Beach, to drill deep into their id, is to stand at the intersection of Liberal and High Anxiety.
Right now, more than a few are having a these-polls-are-too-good-to-be-true, we-still-could-lose-this-election moment. Their consuming and possibly over-caffeinated worry is that their prayers and nightly phone calls to undecided voters in Toledo, Ohio, notwithstanding, Mr. Obama might fall short on Election Day.
A young woman, Shana Rosen, walks by. She is from Denver and said she had told her boyfriend that their love life was on hold while she sweated out Mr. Obama’s performance in Colorado. Ask Lucy Slurzberg, an Upper West Side psychotherapist, how many of her liberal patients speak of their electoral fears during their sessions, and she answers: “Oh, only about 90 percent of them.”
Pre-election rituals are much the same, from Oberlin, Ohio, to San Francisco. Many liberals describe waking up in the predawn, padding to the kitchen, firing up the coffeemaker and logging on before the children wake up. Lisa Serizawa, 44, of San Francisco leaps from site to site, from national newspapers to one in Ohio to another in Pennsylvania, then a blur of CNN, polling sites, and whatever.
“I just want reassurance; or is it a heads-up?” Ms. Serizawa said. “I’m cautiously, cautiously optimistic. Though I worry: Am I going to be hurt again?”
I'm always hurt again. This time I'll try to cling to politics, and hope it doesn't add to the hurt.