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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 --
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.
MY COMPUTER DIED yesterday. It won't boot up, no matter what I do, at any rate. I'm now at a friend's computer, trying to look up possible local repair places/options here in Raleigh.
It's bound to be unfortunately expensive. It's also bound to, very frustratingly, take some days. So please don't be surprised when I don't answer email, or appear on teh internets, until you see a notice here that I'm back.
Meanwhile, donations at my paypal account, buttons down on the left side of the blog available, much appreciated, as I'm still desperately try to save for my eventual move from here, while still panicking about whether I'll ever get my Social Security disability application for Major Chronic Depression, Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Bipolarity, and so forth, approved.
I hope I'm not gone too long, meanwhile, and that it's not too insanely expensive to get the computer fixed. So I hope to see you soon.
I MAY NEVER UPGRADE TO BLU-RAY when this is coming down the pike:
[...] In G.E.’s approach, the holograms are scattered across a disc in a way that is similar to the formats used in today’s CDs, conventional DVDs and Blu-ray discs. So a player that could read microholographic storage discs could also read CD, DVD and Blu-ray discs. But holographic discs, with the technology G.E. has attained, could hold 500 gigabytes of data. Blu-ray is available in 25-gigabyte and 50-gigabyte discs, and a standard DVD holds 5 gigabytes.
“The price of storage per gigabyte is going to drop precipitously,” Mr. Lawrence said.
G.E. will first focus on selling the technology to commercial markets like movie studios, television networks, medical researchers and hospitals for holding data-intensive images like Hollywood films and brain scans. But selling to the broader corporate and consumer market is the larger goal.
Of course, when we have video-hologram displays on our quantum computers, we'll need that much storage capability, assuming you don't wait for the direct neural interface.
A Letter To 93rd Street Beautification Association
Dear Ms. Hefti,
As a filmmaker who is particularly interested in preserving the enormous charm and appeal of Manhattan I have found myself supporting any number of preservation causes. The move to destroy the house the Marx Brothers grew up in on East 93rd street is of course particularly repugnant to me not just because the look of older New York is what makes it so appealing in movies all over the world (and draws many tourists) but because the Marx Brothers are among the great comic artists in history, their accomplishments are revered internationally and in countries that place a high value on cultural contributions as opposed to simply bulldozing things in the name of progress, the Marx Brothers home would remain standing and affixed with a plaque. This would be a nice touch for the city and evidence that we have deeper priorities than just profits. Therefore, I urge the Marx Brothers house to be allowed to remain as a proud landmark.
JUSTICES THAT LOVE THEM SOME STRIP-SEARCHING OF 13-YEAR-OLD GIRLS. This is entirely disgusting and outrageous.
The sainted Dahlia Lithwick reports:
[...] After today's argument, it's plain the court will overturn a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion finding a school's decision to strip-search a 13-year-old girl unconstitutional. That the school in question was looking for a prescription pill with the mind-altering force of a pair of Advil—and couldn't be bothered to call the child's mother first—hardly matters.
And even if you were never a 13-year-old girl yourself, if you have a daughter or niece, you might see the humiliation in pulling a middle-school honor student with no history of disciplinary problems out of class, based on an uncorroborated tip that she was handing out prescription ibuprofen. You might think it traumatic that she was forced to strip down to her underclothes and pull her bra and underwear out and shake them in front of two female school employees. No drugs were found.
Yet in recent years, the high court has slowly chipped away at the privacy rights of students—frequently based on the rationale that there were drugs!!! Somewhere in America!!! Drugs!!! Creating danger!!! (This led an annoyed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to dissent in a recent case that the court was peddling "nightmarish images of out-of-control flatware, livestock run amok, and colliding tubas" to justify drug tests for any student with a pulse. )
Today's argument features an astounding colloquy between Matthew Wright, the school district's lawyer, and Justice Antonin Scalia, who cannot understand why "black marker pencils" are also considered contraband. "Well, for sniffing!" answers Wright. "They sniff them?" asks Scalia, delightedly. "Really?"
Or when Justice Ginsburg complains that the tipster in this case fingered Redding only after she herself was caught with drugs, Justice Samuel Alito muses that "the school could keep records on its students, like the police keep records on confidential informants, so unless this student had a proven record of having accurately ratted out a certain number of classmates in the past, she couldn't be believed."
When Wright suggests kids have no incentive to implicate innocent students because "students can be disciplined if they tell tales," Justice John Paul Stevens asks what discipline was meted out to the girl who falsely ratted out Savana Redding. Wright replies, cheerfully, "Oh, there was no discipline that I know of."
But the kidz might be handing out Advil!!!
Scalia, as always, sets a new standard in sensitivity:
[...] David O'Neill from the Solicitor General's office tries to thread the needle between allowing schools to conduct daily strip searches for black sniffy markers and chilling the school district's broad power to search for dangerous contraband. He wants the court to impose a higher standard before schools may conduct a strip search but gets into trouble with Scalia, who wonders what happens after "you search the student's outer garments, and you have a reasonable suspicion that the student has drugs." Scalia's almost chortling when he exclaims, "You've searched everywhere else. By God, the drugs must be in her underpants!"
But Stephen Breyer is reaching for the heights in an attempt to top Scalia!
[...] This leads Justice Stephen Breyer to query whether this is all that different from asking Redding to "change into a swimming suit or your gym clothes," because, "why is this a major thing to say strip down to your underclothes, which children do when they change for gym?"
This leads Ginsburg to sputter—in what I have come to think of as her Lilly Ledbetter voice—"what was done in the case … it wasn't just that they were stripped to their underwear! They were asked to shake their bra out, to stretch the top of their pants and shake that out!" Nobody but Ginsburg seems to comprehend that the only locker rooms in which teenage girls strut around, bored but fabulous in their underwear, are to be found in porno movies. For the rest of us, the middle-school locker room was a place for hastily removing our bras without taking off our T-shirts.
But Breyer just isn't letting go. "In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear."
Shocked silence, followed by explosive laughter. In fact, I have never seen Justice Clarence Thomas laugh harder. Breyer tries to recover: "Or not my underwear. Whatever. Whatever. I was the one who did it? I don't know. I mean, I don't think it's beyond human experience."
I so want these guys protecting our privacy rights.
But wait, there's more!
It gets weirder. Wolf claims school administrators should have known better than to suspect that "Savana was currently concealing ibuprofen pills underneath her underpants for other's oral consumption," noting "a certain ick factor to this." The Chief Justice quickly replies that the ick factor doesn't attach when you are talking about "the brassiere as well, which doesn't seem as outlandish as the underpants, right?"
Oh, ick indeed. The search for a bright line rule about the expectations of student privacy has turned into a fight between a bunch of guys who still say "brassiere."
By now, even Justice David Souter has ditched Wolf, musing that if he were the principal in a school, he "would rather have the kid embarrassed by a strip search … than have some other kids dead because the stuff is distributed at lunchtime and things go awry."
Yes, they could be dead from Advil!
There are few things that have ever damaged America more than The War On Some Drugs.
Alcohol prohibition brought us the Mafia, gang wars, widespread disregard for the law, poison distributed as alcohol, and, oh, look, the War On Some Drugs has hurt us even more, warping our foreign policy, damaging our relations with the peoples of numerous countries around the world, empowering criminality of a scale and power the world has never seen, pointlessly criminalizing, imprisoning, and ruining the lives of a huge proportion of of our population, including a wildly disproportionate percentage of the darker-skinned portion of the citizenry.
But thank goodness we're strip-searching children to keep them from dangerous over-the-counter analgesics.
Lithwick's apt concluding point:
[...] On the courthouse steps after argument today, Redding is asked what she'd have wanted the school to do differently. "Call my mom first," she says. You see, we now have school districts all around the country finding naked photos of teens and immediately calling in the police for possession of kiddie porn. Yet schools see nothing wrong with stripping these same kids naked to search for drugs. Evidently teenage nakedness is only a problem when the children choose to be naked. And the parents? They are always the last to know.
FOUR CORNERS. Ever been to Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, meet, and you can step from one state to another in, well, a step?
I have. Or so I thought.
It turns out the correct location, according to the National Geodetic Survey, is actually two and a half miles west of the famous monument.
[...] The only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together was first surveyed by the government in 1868 during the initial survey of Colorado's southern boundary. The survey was inaccurate.
Officials said Monday the accurate location lies to the east of U.S. 160 in Colorado and northeast of the San Juan River as it flows into New Mexico.
Apparently they're not going to bother to move the monument, which seems a bit fraudulent, if undeniably a touch of an abstract point. But the whole point is the abstract point of the location, so really, someone should at least put up a pole or something in the right place, and cut a trail.
NON-MIRRORS. Since I'm regrettably blogging so little of late (and for some time), I'm going to recycle this comment I made at Obsidian Wings, where I with great frequency write all sorts of comments.
The following is just another reiteration of comments I've made a couple of hundred times, or so it feels like, over the decades, but here it is again, with an additional quote of Governor David Paterson's statement of support for gay marriage today:
I not only am fine with defining racism, among many usages, as "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race," but I have a much stronger definition, which is summarized here, in the section from the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:
[...] Any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview — the ideology that humans are divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called "races," that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural behavioral features, and that some "races" are innately superior to others. Racism was at the heart of North American slavery and the overseas colonization and empire-building activities of some western Europeans, especially in the 18th century. The idea of race was invented to magnify the differences between people of European origin in the U.S. and those of African descent whose ancestors had been brought against their will to function as slaves in the American South. By viewing Africans and their descendants as lesser human beings, the proponents of slavery attempted to justify and maintain this system of exploitation while at the same time portraying the U.S. as a bastion and champion of human freedom, with human rights, democratic institutions, unlimited opportunities, and equality. The contradiction between slavery and the ideology of human equality, accompanying a philosophy of human freedom and dignity, seemed to demand the dehumanization of those enslaved. By the 19th century racism had matured and the idea spread around the world. Racism differs from ethnocentrism in that it is linked to physical and therefore immutable differences among people. Ethnic identity is acquired, and ethnic features are learned forms of behaviour. Race, on the other hand, is a form of identity that is perceived as innate and unalterable.
The whole notion that human beings are divided into inate physical categories of "races" is 18th century pseudo-science. It's nonsense, other than as a self-defined cultural construct. Where it's forced on people, responding defensively in standing up as one of the oppressed groups makes some sense in a sociological and political sense, but it's still nonsense as any kind of science.
The important question isn't to quibble over the various usages of the word "racism" (or the word "sexism") but to focus on the facts people live with.
Sure, members of minority, or less powerful, groups can be racist or sexist in believing in the innate superiority of their group, or in denigrating characteristics of another group, whether minority or majority, powerful or less powerful. I wouldn't argue otherwise.
What's important in looking at our society is observing the facts of how these prejudices play out: does one group have significantly, if not immensely, more power than another? Is one group far more privileged, as a group, than another? Does one group significantly damage the quality of life of another? Are these groups mirror images of each other in their power?
The answers are yes, yes, yes, and no.
Are there "black" people who believe their group is superior to "white" people? Yes. Do they have an equal amount of power to damage the lives of "white" people in our society? Not even remotely. The power of "white" people to damage the lives of "black" people in our society remains immense. Who suffers far more from racism in our society, the "whites" or the "blacks"? "Black" people.
Similarly, although women in many instances are actually a majority, they're still lacking innumerable privileges accruing to the average male in society overall, and in most (not all) situations. Women are not yet treated equally to men. Women are not running 50% of the Fortune 500, or 50% of the House or Senate. We've still yet to have a woman president. Etc., etc., etc.
These, and similar facts, are what's important. These are the stories of millions of people who suffer degraded lives compared to what they should have, and would have, if they were members of the more privileged class, rather than members of the weaker class.
That some small smattering of "white" folks may occasionally suffer some minor inconveniences in highly limited and isolated siutations, due to the racism of another group, or that some small smattering of men may occasionally suffer some minor inconveniences in highly limited and isolated siutations, due to the sexism of some women, is to focus on the pain and problems of something like 1-2%, if that, of these groups, rather than the fact that the overwhelming majority of "blacks" and "women" suffer limitations and discrimination in life they shouldn't have to.
That's what's important. Quibbling over the semantics of what is or isn't "racism" or "sexism," and whining about the problems of a handful of members of the privileged classes is an almighty weird set of priorities, and is, dare I say, an expression of privilege itself.
It's very unbecoming.
Let me also add this pointer to Governor David Paterson's eloquent statement today:
[...] “This is a civil rights issues,” Mr. Paterson said, citing issues like hospital visitations, health insurance coverage and inheritance that are connected with marriage. He called for an end to “a legal system that has systematically discriminated against all of them.”
Anyone that has ever experienced degradation or intolerance would understand the solemn duty and how important it actually is. Anyone that’s ever experienced antisemitism or racism, any New Yorker who is an immigrant, who has experienced discrimination, any woman who has faced harassment at work or suffered violence at home, any disabled person who has been mocked or marginalized, understands what we’re talking about here. We have all known the wrath of discrimination. We have all felt the pain and the insult of hatred. This is why we are all standing here today. We stand to tell the world that we want equality for everyone. We stand to tell the world that we want marriage equality in New York State.
He said, “I understand the trepidation and the anxiety that people feel right now,” but said that “rights should not be stifled by fear” and that “silence should not be a response to injustice.”
“If we take no action, we will surely lose,” Mr. Paterson declared. “Maybe we’ve already lost. There is no gain without struggle.”
Mr. Paterson noted that his predecessor, Eliot Spitzer, had introduced a similar bill in 2007. “I’m wondering if I’m in a time warp or have been sent someplace else in time,” he said, citing critics who said he was “rushing.”
“Didn’t we cry out for democracy, and didn’t we ask for the openness and transparency of government that we thought we deserved?”
The governor continued: “I am not in any way attempting to instruct the majority leader of the Senate or the speaker of the Assembly … I am here to speak against those who are antagonistic and antithetical and always have been, not only to marriage equality, but equality,” for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. The reality is that for me this is the time to fulfill the dreams of our founding Constitution, which implored us to expand the rights of the union. Our founding Constitution has been expanded to include African-Americans, the right of women to vote, the right of immigrants to get citizenship in this country.”
The highly rare problems of "white" people, and the problems of sexist discrimination against men pale into trivia in the overall scheme of things, by comparison.
AND THEN HE BEGGED TO BE KILLED. I have mixed feelings about South Park, based on the smattering of episodes I've seen: sometimes it's very funny, indeed, and other times it, fulfilling the desire of the creators to outrage, just creeps me out, and, dare I say it, disgusts me. (The most recent episode I just turned off after a few minutes.)
And it's pretty darn rare for me to have that reaction. so I suppose they're succeeding at what they're trying to do, but sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't.
That said, I'm also not completely convinced of the reliability of this story, but if true, it falls on the pretty funny side (in a typically bizarre South Park way):
During his captivity, US marines forced Saddam, who was executed in 2006, to repeatedly watch the move South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut, which shows him as gay, as well as the boyfriend of Satan. He was also regularly depicted in a similar manner during the TV series.
Stone, 37, said both he and Parker, 39, were most proud of the signed Saddam photo, given to them by the US Army's 4th Infantry Division.
He said: "We're very proud of our signed Saddam picture and what it means. Its one of our biggest highlights.
"I have it on pretty good information from the marines on detail in Iraq that they showed Saddam the movie.
"Over and over again – which is a pretty funny thought.
Yes, well, this doesn't seem to have been fact-checked beyond Parker and Stone's assertion -- hey, why kill a great story with too many questions? -- so I remain a tad skeptical, but, hey, why ruin a good blog post with too many questions?
BRAIN-WIPING. The old science fiction dream of editing and eliminating selective memories may be coming true thanks to research on PKMzeta, and a drug called ZIP.
[...] In a 1999 paper in the journal Nature Neuroscience, two of the most prominent researchers in brain science, Dr. Jeff W. Lichtman and Joshua R. Sanes of Harvard, listed 117 molecules that were somehow involved when one cell creates a lasting speed-dial connection with a neighbor, a process known as “long-term potentiation.”
They did not see that these findings were necessarily clarifying the picture of how memories are formed. But an oddball substance right there on their own list, it turned out, had unusual properties.
In a series of studies, Dr. Sacktor’s lab found that this molecule was present and activated in cells precisely when they were put on speed-dial by a neighboring neuron.
In fact, the PKMzeta molecules appeared to herd themselves, like Army Rangers occupying a small peninsula, into precisely the fingerlike connections among brain cells that were strengthened. And they stayed there, indefinitely, like biological sentries.
In short: PKMzeta, a wallflower in the great swimming party of chemicals that erupts when one cell stimulates another, looked as if it might be the one that kept the speed-dial function turned on.
"Speed-dial" being the writer's cutsey-poo way of describing long-term potentiation.
[...] Dr. Fenton had already devised a clever way to teach animals strong memories for where things are located. He teaches them to move around a small chamber to avoid a mild electric shock to their feet. Once the animals learn, they do not forget. Placed back in the chamber a day later, even a month later, they quickly remember how to avoid the shock and do so.
But when injected — directly into their brain — with a drug called ZIP that interferes with PKMzeta, they are back to square one, almost immediately. “When we first saw this happen, I had grad students throwing their hands up in the air, yelling,” Dr. Fenton said. “Well, we needed a lot more than that” one study.
They now have it. Dr. Fenton’s lab repeated the experiment, in various ways; so has a consortium of memory researchers, each using a different method. Researchers led by Yadin Dudai at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel found that one dose of ZIP even made rats forget a strong disgust they had developed for a taste that had made them sick — three months earlier.
While this could have all sorts of positive uses in editing trauma, and so on, it could have all sorts of dark uses, as well, of course: hiring someone to commit a crime, and then wiping the memory, without the risk of committing murder; attacking someone and wiping their memory, etc.
And, of course, more research may lead to more knowledge on strengthening memories. Which could also be used for good or ill. (It could be a terrible punishment, as well as a boon.)
[...] More worryingly, he described picking up his favorite Urdu-language, pulp detective-fiction magazine in a Karachi bookstore and being startled by a passionate editorial denouncing the U.S. Predator drone attacks as a violation of Pakistani dignity and sovereignty. After the editorial, it was pulp fiction as usual. It was a reminder that the United States is not thinking nearly hard enough about how its counterterrorism policies may be destabilizing mainstream Pakistan.
Also, I'm tickled that Pakistan still has pulp detective-fiction magazines.
In another tidbit on Pakistani culture, Coll also mentions, citing Kashmiri journalist Basharat Peer:
[...] As evidence that Pakistan is a less easily defined place than newspaper headlines typically allow, he cited: 1) Two Pakistani mock news shows that blatantly imitate Jon Stewart, down to the anchor’s wardrobe; and 2) sold-out Lahore productions of the musical “Chicago,” with an all-male cast.
Of course, meanwhile, the stability of Pakistan is more and more of an open question.
Last night my computer locked up, and I finally realized that it was saying, during attempted restarts, "keyboard failure." Long story short is that the dedicated slot seems to have gone bad; I was eventually able to get the computer working, and keyboard not having problems, by pulling my USB Bluetooth connector from a USB slot (not a hub), and plugging the keyboard into that.
I made the foolish mistake of trying the keyboard dedicated slot again a while ago, and almost experienced heart failure as not only didn't it work (not a surprise), but I couldn't get the computer to restart for over twenty minutes, no matter what I did: not even to the point of lighting up the monitor. Finally, for reasons known only to itself, it did restart after one of my efforts.
I mention all this in case: a) anyone would like to tell me anything informative about "keyboard failure" messages regarding slots going bad after several years (which I'll now research); and b) in case the problem restarting the computer recurs, or worse, my computer more fully breaks down (please, universe, no!).
Minor digression: I also had a long-awaited medical clinic appointment earlier today, and, naturally, it was as I was in the waiting area filling out exit paperwork, after seeing the physician's assistant himself, that I started having my first gout attack in about three months months, which rapidly worsened on the bus ride home, and after I got home, although it's only half as bad now, after taking meds [ADDENDUM, 11:58 p.m.: no, it's not, it's worse].
If it had to happen, it couldn't have happened going in to see the practioner?
Oh, well, the visit was only half half-assed. And I only have to wait until June for the followup appointment, at which time they'll finally do blood tests, and schedule another apt, sigh. (I've only been trying to get this first appointment for 9 months; I had to cancel once, and they canceled twice on me, and each time they could only reschedule three months later: so goes a low-cost clinic for the indigent in Raleigh, North Carolina [things were incredibly better with the clinic in Boulder, Colorado, I have to note, although on the other hand, no psychiatric care available for the indigent there].
I'M HOPING FOR AN ALMOST ALL-GAY CAST. Ridley Scott's Forever War:
Ridley Scott, who is developing a film version of Joe Haldeman's seminal SF war novel The Forever War, told reporters in Britain that James Cameron's Avatar is inspiring him to shoot War in 3-D, according to SlashFilm.
"I'm filming a book by Joe Haldeman called Forever War," Scott reportedly said. "I've got a good writer doing it. I've seen some of James Cameron's work, and I've got to go 3-D. It's going to be phenomenal."
Seriously, I'll be impressed if Scott keeps the homosexuality-alienates-the-protagonist theme.
But if it's in 3-D, it's gotta be good!
Seriously, though, I was immensely impressed with the 3D of Coraline (also because it was such a fine movie and story), and there are certainly far worse directors to do Joe's story than the director of Blade Runner.
Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5. It's The FW, btw.
Speaking of directors who have done good sf movies, it's a relief to know James Cameron thinks this:
[...] Cameron adds that he doesn't really believe that there will come a war by machines to wipe out humanity in the next generation. "The stories function more on a symbolic level, and that's why people key into them," he says. "They're about us fighting our own tendency toward dehumanization."
ENJOY YOUR MASH. Among the Locus Online reports from yesterday:
[...] Shortly after the Austen/Seth Grahame-Smith announcement, Spectral books announced the publication of Henry James and Laurell K. Hamilton's The Portrait of a Lady and Vampires, which the publisher described as being "exactly like the original, but with several hundred additional pages of kinky sex." Due out shortly after that is Charles Dickens and Naomi Novik's A Tale of Two Cities and Four Dragons. And Mary Shelley and Bruce Sterling 's Frankenstein Weather features the original novel interspersed with Sterling's long rants on how Victor Frankenstein's mindset will inevitably lead to global warming, making it indistinguishable from Sterling's other work.
Other novels scheduled includes Feodor Dostoevsky and Stephen King's Crime and Punishment and Werewolves, George Eliot and Paul Di Filippo's Silas Marner vs. The Lizard Men, Jerome K. Jerome and Connie Willis' Three Men in a Boat and Sea Serpents, Joseph Conrad and John Shirley's The Demons at the Heart of Darkness, and Herman Melville, H. P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and Brian Lumley's Moby Dick vs. Cthulhu. When asked if Moby Dick vs. Cthulhu actually contained any of Lovecraft's prose, the publisher replied "Well, he did coin the word 'Cthulhu.' Plus it's got 'eldritch' and 'ichorous' and 'squamous,' and those are all Lovecraft words."
Publishers are also buying the rights to mashup media crossover novels, with Leo Tolstoy and Jeff VanderMeer's War and Peace and Alien and Predator, which follows a fight between the two monsters in early 19th century Russia, slated for publication in 2010, with James Joyce and Aaron Allston's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Terminator to follow shortly thereafter.
Finally, Creationist Press announced they were getting into the act with The Bible, Now With Added Dinosaur Attacks. "Since the earth is only 6,000 years old, it's obvious that several biblical characters must have fought dinosaurs," said publisher Hubert Dodd, who indicated Noah would fend off repeated plesiosaur attacks, and that Sampson would slay several Tyrannosaurus Rexes with the jawbone of an ass.
I can't wait to read all this wonderful new fiction; there's never been a more exciting time in sf/fantasy than now.