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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?

I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

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

Sunday, March 31, 2002
DEAFNESS AS A CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD: part of the Deaf identity movement.

The easy reaction is to knee-jerk against this. And absolutely, the cost to society in deliberately seeking such a baby, and then asking for life-long government subsidized help for it, is probably not going to make a case libertarians will rush to support, though they might support such a choice absent the ADA-compelled government aid. One of the things I liked about this piece of journalism, however, is that it leaves conclusions up to the reader.

3/31/2002 10:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WRONG, WRONG, WRONG: These two bozos' speech was hateful and idiotic, but it's free speech, and there's no way it should be prosecuted.
In a decision released Friday, Judge William Harrington wrote that Upshaw said his language was "of a political nature, intended to spur debate and thought." But the judge ruled that the words "were plainly intended to incite the crowd to violence, and not simply to express a point of view."


Judge Neil Ross ruled that the time and place of the speech made it reasonable to infer that Harvey knew "that public inconvenience, annoyance and alarm would result."

Yes, the violence would have been against Upshaw, and absolutely such unpopular speech is protected by the First Amendment. Ditto that Harvey's speech caused "annoyance and alarm." This is core protected speech, the essence of what freedom of speech is about. Take it away from them, it's taken away from thee and me.

3/31/2002 05:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FIGHT TERROR BY GOING LO OR HIGH?: The WashPo looks at high-tech proposals for fighting terror.

They also look at the journey of Richard Reid, the Shoe bomber, how he fell in with al Queda, and the fact that more such as he are out there. Remember, it was while on the track of this story that Daniel Pearl was killed.

3/31/2002 05:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CBDTPA: NOT JUST A BUNCH OF INITIALS: There's a new link in the left column: Help Stop the CBDTPA. Please use it if you are a US citizen. You won't like what will happen to your ability to use your computer if the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act passes.

3/31/2002 05:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE HEAD SPINS: Readers of Chinese newspapers in the US have had their world flipped on its side.
Actually, it is just the text that has been completely flipped and reversed, although that has made for plenty of confusion all the same.
Also, simplified characters. Naturally, politics is also involved.

3/31/2002 04:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M NOT GOING UP THERE: In Hong Kong, skyscrapers are built with bamboo scaffolds.

3/31/2002 04:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SPARKY FANS sent here by Tom Tomorrow may wonder where the "whole lot of thought into what defines the left, specifically in terms of the war" may be found. I wonder, too, since I didn't do any such thing, I swear, m'lud. I just dashed off my usual off-the-cuff response. My thoughts on politics are scattered, of course, throughout my archives.

As I told Dan ("Tom") in e-mail, and others many times, I've come to loath pre-fabricated politics, and buying political packages. I'm a dim-sum politico, I find the "left-right" continuum of political analysis direly simplistic, and I find focus on where a position fits into it tiresome in the extreme.

If the time comes to start lining up "liberals" to be sent to their rooms, I'll pick up the yellow badge and pluck it on my arm, but I started out somewhat from the left as a youth, hold a lot of libertarian notions (up to a point), respect and agree with quite a lot of conservative ideas, and all around am most fairly labeled an eclectic who lurches in different directions depending upon the issue.

Dan more or less pointed people at my links, perhaps not focusing on the way they, too, are eclectic. I don't link to blogs because I endorse or agree with them; I'm more concerned with well-put argument, clarity of expression and thought, and interesting links, and am happy to have my ideas challenged.

I'd rather have any of that then link to blogs merely because they agree with me, but do so sloppily and poorly. I think very little, frankly, of the way so many blogs link to, and endlessly praise, various blogs, merely because they are in Ideological Solidarity with said blogger, no matter that the blogger has nothing original to say, but says it in sufficiently aggravated tone. Yet other blogs may have some interesting links, but rarely rise above muddleheaded and superficial analyses.

I try not to link to such blogs, but I also don't link to various blogs simply because I've not yet read them, or I've gotten picky, or I'm just not seeing them saying anything I don't see elsewhere, and I prefer to keep my links to something vaguely resembling a reasonable length; I feel no compulsion whatsoever to be comprehensive; you can find that in plenty of other blogs.

All of which is a longwinded way of saying I don't endorse blogs I link to, and I don't look for blogs depending upon their ideology, left, right, libertarian, socialist, up, or down.

But since Dan seemed to promise it, here are some of the pretty well "non-right-wing" blogs I link to: Daily Howler (Bob Sommersby), Electrolite (Patrick Nielsen Hayden) , Glenn Kinen, Ken Goldstein, Junius (Chris Bertram), Matt Welch, Matthew Yglesias, Newsrack (Thomas Nephew),Nick Denton, Off The Kuff (Charles Kuffner), Oliver Willis, Outside Counsel ((Bill Altreuter), Pigs and Fishes (Avram Grumer), The Sideshow (Avedon Carol), Talking Points Memo (Joshua Micah Marshall), Ted Barlow, Through The Looking Glass (Charles Dodgson), War Liberal (Mac Thomason), and What She Really Things (Ginger Stampley).

This is an utterly non-comprehensive list; they just happen to be folk I currently read (a couple, such as Patrick, and Avedon, are ancient friends). The Sideshow_, The Daily Howler, and Junius would be among the most clearly left-wing. Anyone want to suggest other non-right-wing blogs, feel free. And do keep in mind that this movie just played over at Nick Denton's recently, and was commented on by various, including Patrick, and Ginger Stampley. (If left-wing readers would like to prove they can hit the "donate" button in the upper left better than others, that would be delightful; I'm entirely poor and deserving, I assure you; the amount can be dropped to just a $1 or $2, and seriously, I can really use it.)

3/31/2002 04:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MARMALADE: Ever wonder how it was made, or wanted to know more about it? Probably not, but here it is. I'd be curious to try lemon with Earl Gray tea; orange with Champagne; orange with whisky; and lime, kumquat and blood orange, myself.

The story is, amusingly, by Johnny Apple.

3/31/2002 02:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOUR GENES HAVE GOOD RHYTHM, YOU CAN DANCE TO THEM: Following Jaron Lanier's "let's encode literature into the entrons of cockroaches," we have:
An executive with one Silicon Valley company is now suggesting that DNA sequences be converted to digital music, arguing that they might then be protected under copyright law. [...] The technology to convert the coding of a strand of DNA — essentially a string of letters, a different letter for each of the four nucleotides — into music is already available. Free or inexpensive programs like Bio2Midi and ProteinMusic take such character strings and come up with musical compositions.
Copyright, thanks to Disney, et al, protects ever-so-much longer than patent. Here, this will cure your disease: hum a few bars.

3/31/2002 11:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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The outcome of the war now under way between the Israelis and Palestinians is vital to the security of every American, and indeed, I believe, to all of civilization. Why? Quite simply because Palestinians are testing out a whole new form of warfare, using suicide bombers — strapped with dynamite and dressed as Israelis — to achieve their political aims. And it is working.


The world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of "desperation" stemming from the Israeli occupation. That is a huge lie. Why? To begin with, a lot of other people in the world are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves. More important, President Clinton offered the Palestinians a peace plan that could have ended their "desperate" occupation, and Yasir Arafat walked away. Still more important, the Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to suicide: nonviolent resistance, à la Gandhi. A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.


Let's be very clear: Palestinians have adopted suicide bombing as a strategic choice, not out of desperation. This threatens all civilization because if suicide bombing is allowed to work in Israel, then, like hijacking and airplane bombing, it will be copied and will eventually lead to a bomber strapped with a nuclear device threatening entire nations. That is why the whole world must see this Palestinian suicide strategy defeated.

Some say Friedman is all wobbly and soft, but he calls for Israel "to deliver a military blow that clearly shows terror will not pay" and that:
the U.S. should declare that while it respects the legitimacy of Palestinian nationalism, it will have no dealings with the Palestinian leadership as long as it tolerates suicide bombings. Further, we should make clear that Arab leaders whose media call suicide bombers 'martyrs' aren't welcome in the U.S.
On the flip side, despite his calls for a Palestinian state along the lines of the Barak/Clinton opening, Friedman is decried as a Zionist blind to Palestinian grievances. I'd say both are clearly wrong, which is why I think he's consistently worth reading.

3/31/2002 11:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE LEFT -- WAR NO MORE?: Dan Perkins ("Tom Tomorrow") asked about lefty blogs, and today clarifies that:
So, no--no party lines. I guess what I mean by "lefty" is bloggers who are more skeptical than not of the war effort....
This startled me a bit, because I thought both the sensible left and the idiot left have plenty of other elements to define them.

I find the linkage of the left with being automatically anti-war, any war, dubious, but possibly that's wishful thinking, because it's a primary factor in pushing me further and further away from that [large] element of the left.

The left I'm aware of passionately supported fighting fascists in the Spanish Civil War, and were, of course, dubbed "premature anti-fascists" as their consolation prize for losing.

The left I'm for were all for fighting Hitler, save for those communists who took their line from the CPs, aka Moscow, and defended the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

Even the Communists -- and yes, when I most identified as a leftist, I identified as an anti-Communist leftist, since I knew the history of leftism -- supported, of course, the revolution to overthrow the Czar, as well as, evilly, the revolution to overthrow Russian democracy and seize dictorial power for themselves, as well as, of course, the resulting Civil War and war to conquer the neighboring republics and form the Russian Empire known as the USSR.

Similarly, fights against all sorts of local fascisms were always supported by various overlapping flavors of leftists in ensuing decades.

I always thought that fighting for freedom, against oppression, and against repressive fascist regimes was a leftist notion, though not exclusively so. I don't see where Islamo-fascism gets a ticket out. I don't see where leftists should turn against liberating Arabs, Afghans, and the like, from the heavy hand of racist, anti-semitic tyranny.

I'm with John Lloyd in this, whose excellent piece, from the sensible left, was published in the Guardian/Observer two weeks ago.

The left is right to always question the need for war. But a blind anti-Americanism risks betraying the left's anti-fascist heritage.


These traditions - of pacifism, individualism and anti-fascism now meet another: anti-Americanism, not confined to the left in developed states, but most virulent on it. [...] But there is now a narrative of the left - complete in itself in the way such narratives are - which sees in the US an imperial predator whose actions - all actions - are conditioned by this aspect of its being.

This narrative has ceased to be critical, but become predestinarian: rather as predestinarians divided humanity into those whose actions could never be wrong and those whose actions could never be right, so this strain of left critique arrogates to itself the first and confers on the US the second. It is important not to confuse this grand, totalising critique with criticism, from left or right. The latter is essential for governments, most essential for governments with such awful power as the US commands. But the totalising critique is an intellectual construct, derived from the techniques of 19th century philosophy, which bends all facts to fit the ideological line.


But the view, which the far left in Europe powerfully expresses, that in a consideration of action against Iraq the folly, imperialism and crimes of America are the only matter which may enter the discussion is an abdication of the left's own attachment to enlightenment rationalism.

It also abandons, or at least suppresses, its own anti-fascist credentials.

This is exactly right. Go read the rest. Any "left" that operates on this basis, I want no part of. I surely hope this, and reflexive "supporting the stability of third-world tyranny is preferable to supporting war against it" are not defining elements of other than the Idiot Left, because I should hate to see the Left fall entirely to the idiots.

See also what I said when inspired by Michael Walzer's must-read Dissent piece.

That a "Vietnam Syndrome" affected US military culture and political culture long ago became Accepted Wisdom, because it was true. What there has been extraordinarily little discussion of, at least in my view, has been explication of the "Vietnam Sydrome of the Left," how the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the rise to dominance of the baby boomer New Left, overthrowing the Old Left as bearers of the mantle of the Left Line in popular discourse, affected and changed the narrative of the Left in America and much of the West, and, in retrospect in my view, greatly to the detriment of the Left, bringing to the fore this knee-jerk anti-Americanism, replacing the traditional leftist view of America as a breeding ground, and supporter, of freedom and equality.

Blinders were put on, allowing only the viewing of what America may have done wrong, preventing the seeing of anything America does right.

Of course, although historians such as Todd Gitlin were writing this history of the left as long ago as the early Seventies, when I was eagerly reading it, few leftists have ever had much sense of or knowledge of leftist history, instead riding on a vogue of contemporary down-with [capitalism, globalization, polluters, Republicans, contras, corporations, etc.] that is as much a politics of feel-good, feel-righteous as is that of those on the Right whose chimes are rung by snarling at [those liberals, the nanny state, pacifists, taxes, class warfare, big government, redistributionism, the Clintons].

If a lot more lefists studied a lot more leftist history (and some do, I hastily say), with a stress on the internal and conflicting threads, particularly including how the Communist elements became internally imperialist elements and then split into the pro-Moscow and Trotskyite lines, both the enemies of social democrats and simple liberals, but also including the rise of the New Left in the Sixties, and the fragmentation of the Left in the post-Vietnam era, the Left might be far further along the way to meaningful and helpful critiques of society and polity, rather than in its current rather rotted state. Wouldn't that be nice?

3/31/2002 10:34:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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$.10 IS WHAT PARENTS CAN AFFORD to donate to Pakistani schools; You can probably afford a bit more. Read about why kids are in madrassahs instead of government schools.

3/31/2002 09:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, March 30, 2002
A VACUUM OF ACTUAL USAGE: Another robot vacuum cleaner story.
Doing the housework could soon be a relaxing experience, thanks to the world's first robotic vacuum cleaner. Developed by the Japanese electronics giant Matsushita, the robot is slightly bigger than a football and has the intelligence to avoid falling downstairs or crashing into walls.

Fitted with 50 sonic and infra-red sensors, it can work for up to an hour on a single battery charge after using its sensors to measure the size of each room that needs to be cleaned.

Is it just me, or are these robot vacuum cleaners becoming the jet-packs of our era? I'll be impressed when I start seeing them in real people's homes.

Also, don't most people, when they vacuum, have to move a fair amount of furniture around to get an adequate job done? On the other hand, while version 1.0, and perhaps 2.0, likely will have bugs, probably 3.0 will actually work well. When will they start emptying their own trash bags?

3/30/2002 08:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CAR BOOT SALES AND CLAY PIGEONS -- THREATS AND MENACES: Not on par with national ID cards -- heavens, one can scarcely imagine Britain turning to those, eh? -- but every day in every way it does seem as if Britain, along with the US, becomes a bit less free.
SHOOTING groups and farmers have expressed concern about Government proposals to require the organisers of car boot sales, motorcycle scrambling, weekend markets, clay pigeon shoots and war games to obtain planning permission for their activities.

At present temporary activities are allowed to operate up to 28 days a year on any piece of suitable land without planning permission. Markets and motor racing are restricted to a maximum of 14 days.

Presumably the ensuing chaos must be stopped.

3/30/2002 06:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGING: Out of San Francisco will come a bi-weekly newspaper, War Times, which will clearly be an anti-war paper, the Guardian tells us.

I think that's fine. I'll likely find it full of tomfoolery, but the more argument about issues there are, the healthier our democracies are, and I'm always happy to see more for sale in the marketplace of ideas, including the silliest of ideas.

If naught else, there's always more to mock. And, who knows, maybe the thing might have some good journalism?; hope springs eternal.

What makes us think it will be anti-war?: the first issue interviews Danny Glover, and one of the named backers is Noam Chomsky. I don't anticipate an editorial calling for the invasion of Iraq any time soon.

3/30/2002 06:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NIGHT OF THE LEPUS: French bunnies cloned. No word as yet whether they might grow forty-feet high and come after us. New phrase: they're cloning like bunnies.

3/30/2002 05:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OH, THE FLEECE PULLOVER: That's what the Republican Party wants to give me for giving it to you. I, and you, too, can be Team Leaders, and give you official talking points. Slick.
Team Leaders get the inside scoop on what's going on at the Republican Party. Each week you will receive an update, The Team Leader, about the latest stories, bills, and actions around the country.

In addition to being given a "political edge" over the competition, you earn GOPoints for each Action Item completed. Action Items range from writing a letter to your editor to calling local voters and gauging public opinion. Leaders redeem their GOPoints for items ranging from fleece pullovers to mouse pads. All Team Leader gear is made in the USA.

Who wouldn't want GOPoints? How many for an elephant pad? Alas, I'm not much of a team player, and I make up my own talking points.

3/30/2002 03:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"You will never forget this," the colonel said, standing atop a Humvee in front of a rusting Soviet-era hangar. "You will never forget that man or woman on your right or left. You will never forget the fact that you stood here in Afghanistan."
Hell of a story of the fight. Excellent war journalism. This is Col. Wiercinski's, Commander, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne, rallying speech; it's pretty much the Standard Speech, but it's a good one.

3/30/2002 02:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, March 29, 2002
BLOGWATCH A: March 29th, 2002:

War Liberal (Mac Thomason): Traitorous pro-filtering librarians; Speedy-withdrawal; Euro-nativism bad; Arafat a weasel.

What She Really Thinks (Ginger Stampley): Only tried and tested medicines good; modern home conveniences good; customization needs improvement; sic Goldberg on Alterman; Speedy vs. Pepe: pew.

Unqualified Offerings (Jim Henley): Seder slaughter appalling, ethnic cleansing not useful, West Bank as useful a gift as a scorpion; Musharraf swirling round drain; Saddam should be deterred, otherwise he's not deterred; Dick Cheney's Madame Butterfly.

The Blogs of War (Dr. Frank): Eric Alterman and dueling pundits -- maybe who is right matters?; the Streets of San Francisco are full of zombies.

This Modern World (Dan Perkins): Afghan food drops less nutritious than claimed; blogosphere tilts on side: where's left? [haven't we seen this movie before, over at Nick Denton's? -ed]; Merry Pranksters fade away; Bush energy usage not so renewable; Afghan earthquake result of US "penetration bombs"; or maybe not; McGruff revealed to be pedophile; FOX decries coarsening of pop culture, swallows own tail; a Christian isn't very Christian; Marc Herold and critics: myths or menaces?; Alterman vs. Sullivan: blogging not "vanity," go see what Patrick Nielsen Hayden said.

3/29/2002 10:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BOB BARR: STILL NUTS: A federal judge overturned Barr's pet law that, er, barred DC voters from circulating or voting on a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana for medical purposes. Barr vows to fight on, nonetheless.
"The people must not be allowed to have their way! I, and the Republican Party, are here to protect the people from themselves, and their irresponsible so-called 'free speech,'" avowed Barr. "It's our proud tradition, and what we want to be known for!"
Okay, I made that whole quote up. Barely. Here's what he really said:
"Clearly, the court today has ignored the constitutional right and responsibility of Congress to pass laws protecting citizens from dangerous and addictive narcotics," he said. "This initiative was about opening the door to drug legalization, and whether federal taxpayer dollars should be used to support a drug legalization agenda."
The proper response, as embodied in the overturned Barr Amendment, is, of course, to make a vote of the citizens illegal. It's hard to believe I'm not just making this up, isn't it?

3/29/2002 07:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LET THEM SOAR: New Yorkers want to keep the Towers of Light. Anyone who didn't see this coming is short a few lightbulbs.
"At least for the time being — and maybe for all time — New Yorkers want those twin beams of light to soar," said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. He released a poll yesterday showing that 39 percent of 1,038 registered voters in the city feel the lights should stay on until a permanent memorial is built and that 36 percent feel the lights themselves should be permanent.

Twenty percent feel the lights should be turned off April 13, as planned. And that is what will happen, said Kent L. Barwick, president of the Municipal Art Society, the chief sponsor of the project, in part because it was approved by various community groups, government agencies and victims' family members as a brief, finite gesture.

Bloomberg has bounced the issue to the Municipal Art Society, and then might consider "further discussion and review."

3/29/2002 07:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW TO LOOK POINTLESSLY STUPID: CRY ME A RIVERS: Some blogs pick up ticks from each other, or perhaps their larger political culture, and perpetuate them, and, in my opinion, do their credibility no service.

One such is the ever-hilarious, knee-slappingly ha-ha of referring to Geraldo Rivera as "Jerry Rivers." This goes back to an old lie about Rivera, dating from the Seventies, that he was "really" born "Jerry Rivers" but switched to "Geraldo Rivera" to gain miniority Hispanic "status" and "cachet."

This is, however, as I said, a complete lie. It was a smear.

I'm not a Geraldo fan, though I do recall the days when he did his Willowbrook work in NYC, which was truly a service, and he did some other fine local journalism as well. Since then he went on to what is, at best, a mixed bag of puffery, journalism good and bad, and considerable foolishness. I come not to praise Geraldo, nor to bury him, but merely to point out the idiocy of attempting to denigrate him by -- oh, the wit, the cleverness, the sheer originality of it! -- calling him "Jerry Rivers." Gosh, that puts him in his place, doesn't it?

If you want to have at Rivera, shoot to kill: don't do the equivalent of dumping a black kettle of jello on your head and then pointing your finger at someone else and crying "how funny-looking he is!"

Especially if your point is that he doesn't check his stories, and perpetuates falsehoods, and displays poor judgement. Gosh, that kettle sure looks funny on your head.

3/29/2002 06:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FLEE, OR DIGEST?: David Greenbaum is not a sanguine American this Pesach, contra Josh Marshall.

3/29/2002 02:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHO SAYS THE UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS DOESN'T HAVE MONEY?: These are each worth 100 quatloos. (Via Boing Boing.)

3/29/2002 10:13:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I MUST TRY THIS: Barry Sonnenfeld views Dr. Strangelove and:
Mr. Sonnenfeld said he frequently ended letters to studio executives with a final paragraph that is taken directly from a mad, rambling letter that General Ripper sends to the Pentagon. It says, "God willing, we will prevail, in peace and freedom from fear and in true health, through the purity and essence of our natural fluids."
Curiously, they don't always know what to make of that. But that sort of talk is normal enough in Hollywood, innit?

3/29/2002 01:09:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, March 28, 2002
BLOGWATCH A: March 28th, 2002

Matt Welch: Chronicle vs. Wolfowitz; conspiracy theories: not Jews, just sheep; Billy Wilder, RIP; tiny little penises the best; Times "Web is dead" missing numbers; Dr. Frank the Cole Porter of punk; Alex Cockburn spied by some Arpagandalf guy; French trash-talker polling at 2.5%.

The Blogs of War (Dr. Frank): Alex Cockburn not charming; bin Laden e-mail; Frank vampire, picture can't be shown in blog; Frank won't hug you, no matter how many Ba'aths you take a day; Sullivan reality check.

Sgt. Stryker: Reading Shirer and asking "why?"; anti-antiwar march -- White House not promising good Babylon 5 ep; enjoy Italian food.

Insolvent Republic Of Blogistan (Justin Slotman): Palestine wrapped up in blogs; where's Richard Rush?; Halle Berry, African-American; game theory just a game.

The Sideshow (Avedon Carol): TNR reprints on Bad Faith; campaign finance reform can't pick on free speech.

Warlog: World War III (Jeff Jarvis): cool is dead; Netanyahu not joking; reality shows: is the dying starting?

Daily Pundit (Bill Quick): Farber nails SCOTUS; dolorous pontifications bad for complexion; Saudis and Iraqis kissy-face -- not with us; don't drift on Pakistan; right-of-return poison pill; Prez "putting onus" on Arafat insufficient -- should put something else on him; you're not obese, you just listened to the government; gift cultures don't survive -- thousands of blogs to go dark.

Through The Looking Glass ("Charles Dodgson"): News bias is as bias does; the rich are different than me and thee -- they don't have incinerators in their neighborhoods; Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner, Tells All about the World Bank.

3/28/2002 10:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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COLORFUL CONFUSION: Justin Slotman stumbles into a bit of it while discussing "If Miss Berry is 'black' because her father is black, why isn't she 'white' because her mother is white?"

The immediate answer, of course, is that there is no such thing as "human race" in scientific terms; this is a fact which remains shockingly little-known. The entire concept that humanity is scientifically or genetically divisible into meaningfully differentiated "races," as opposed to a huge number of genetic clusters, is false. It's a product of the 19th Century pseudo-science racial theory of such as Joseph Arthur Gobineau, and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, as well as of earlier European theorists, such as the 17th Century Francois Bernier, and the 18th Century Carolus Linnaeus and Johann Blumenbach.

Categorizing people as "white," "African," or "Asian" lumps together endlessly diverse clusters of ethnographies who have as little in common genetically with each other as they do with members of the other categories. Ashley Montagu began pointing this out in the 1960's. The carry-over today of racial classification in society is a remnant of past racial categorizing, in which a drop of "black" blood was deemed to "contaminate" that of the "white" race, but not, of course, vice versa.

So when Justin says

Social reality probably trumps genetic reality a majority of the time in determining what race you are, people's perceptions of you counting for so much and all, but genetic reality has the advantage of being objectively verifiable.
he's half right -- all that is being considered when one judges someone "white" or "black" is social categorization, which is arbitrary, whether it's self-chosen or externally applied. Where he's wrong is in stating that there's some "genetic reality" here that is "objectively verifiable." There isn't. There are endless clusters of genetic traits, sure, including degrees of melannin, height, and endless other markers, but they don't define into large sets of "similar" "races." That's an endlessly common fallacy it would be wonderful for society to learn is, in fact, a fallacy.

3/28/2002 07:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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3/28/2002 06:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OSAMA BIN LADEN has a blog. Of course. Allah be praised.

3/28/2002 04:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MERITOCRACIES OF WRITING: Matt Welch points out a profile of blogger Dr. Frank in the East Bay Express, which quotes the following from Dr. Frank:
There is an absolute equality of opportunity, yet it's also a true meritocracy, since the ones with the most appealing or interesting content get the most attention; there's very little subversion of this meritocracy, very little incentive for people to pander to the lowest common denominator to increase "market share," since the financial angle, if it's there at all, is minimal at best. At least, that's the ideal.
What I find so amusing about this, which Matt couldn't know, is that this is the precise theory of fanzine writing and the sf fan culture that Ted White put forth in formal essays at least as long ago as the Seventies, if not earlier, particularly in a piece in Richard Bergeron's Warhoon entitled "The Meritocracy of Fandom," and which had gained a wide, if not universal, degree of acceptance in the inner trufan fanzine fan culture, by the early Eighties, being repeated over and over, back and forth, as received wisdom.

The theory as applied then, as it does in blogging, has some suceptability to niggling around the edges, as there are factors that are not purely meritocratic that can and do come into play in allocating one's place in the scheme of acclaim, respect, and popularity, but overall, I thought it was largely correct when Ted was writing about it decades ago, correct when it was updated to apply to reputations and local cultures on certain Usenet newsgroups -- such as rec.arts.sf.fandom -- and I think it's overall correct now in regard to blogging, as Dr. Frank writes, and Matt applauds.

People who earn respect via quality of writing or analysis or skill in choosing links, or in other demonstrably appreciated fashion, are linked to, and read by more people, and earn more respect, and the positive feedback cycle takes over, subject to revision if the quality of the blog dives. Mediocre blogs meander along with lesser degree of attention.

The primary distortion of this interaction that I see is that people of particularly enthusiastic ideological predilection often have a tendency to link to blogs of similar ideology regardless of, in some cases it seems to me, other inherent quality of writing or thought.

But clustering of belief systems and the people who hold them is utterly normal, and while it may distort a purer "meritocracy" of blogging, it's not as if there's anything to be done about it, nor do I see any reason why anything should be done about it; I simply note it, and otherwise expect the "meritocracy of blogging" meme to spread, if for no other reason than it makes popular bloggers feel good about themselves. It must therefore be true! No, really.

MORE AMUSEMENT: Belatedly reading the profile of Dr. Frank, I see the Express includes a link to a Jon Langford album. Jon, formerly of the Mekons is also brother to David, well-known science fiction writer, critic, and fan, editor of the essential sf newsletter, Ansible, and also a good friend of mine for more than twenty years. There really are only about five thousand people on the planet, aren't there?

3/28/2002 04:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WEB OVER; FILM AT 11: I don't know who Lisa Guernsey is, but she appears to be a nitwit. Did you know that no one does interesting or fun sites on the web anymore? It's in the Times; it must be true.
The problem facing the Web is not that some of these particular sites have come and gone — there are [...] but that no new sites have come along to captivate the casual surfer.
You betchum, Red Ryder. Now that I've read this, I'm quittin' bloggin' fer sure.

3/28/2002 04:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ROLLING STONES: Safiya Huseini's sentence to be buried in a hole in the ground so that only her head was exposed, so that she might then be stoned to death for alleged adultury in northern Nigeria, was overturned a few days ago. Now it's Amina Lawal Kurami who is going throught the same chain of events.
A court in the remote village of Bakori in the Nigerian state of Katsina today sentenced Amina Lawal Kurami to death after finding her guilty of having a baby out of wedlock. [...] Ms Kurami was found guilty after she was unable to produce four witnesses, as required under Islamic law, to support her claim that she had been "lured" into having sex with the man involved.
Nothing unfair there: who doesn't have four witnesses along when they are seduced or raped?

I seem to recall Glenn Reynolds asking where Amnesty International was on the Safiya Huseini case, by the way.

The news of her release was welcomed by Amnesty International, which had submitted a petition of 600,000 signatures protesting against the sentence. "It's great that she is out and is no longer facing the death penalty," said a spokesman.
Here's an interesting defense:
But Mr Imam told the court today that the child's father was in fact Ms Huseini's former husband, arguing that in accordance with Islamic teaching pregnancy can last for up to seven years.
This whole thing is a weapon in the fight between the groups, primarily in the north of Nigeria, that support sharia and those who do not; it's all part of the internecine factional/tribal/regional battling in that fragmented land, as well as, of course, part of the cultural battle over the humaneness of strict sharia. I'm just grateful we don't have governments trying to put all the Old Testament rules into contemporary legal operation.

3/28/2002 02:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLOGGER BADMINTON, LIVE FROM THE WTC: Megan McCardle has responded to my points about DEPARTMENT OF HUD v. RUCKER. I presume her lack of a link to either what I said, or to this site, is an accidental omission; I make HTML glitches myself several times a day, and fix them as I catch them.

On substance, it appears that on some points of philosophy/policy, Megan and I will merely have to agree to disagree, as civilized folks are frequently wont to do. On a few other points, I'm still disagreeing over, at the least, her phrasing.

Gary Farber takes me to task for my post on public housing and drug use, saying that I read the decision incorrectly.
As a quibble of trivial proportion, I did not say that, but I'll agree that it's reasonable of Megan to interpret the body of what I said as implying that.
I didn't, but I apolologize if my post implied that the issue is whether criminal tenants can be evicted. The issue, of course, is whether criminal residents who aren't primary tenants can be evicted.
This may arguably be simply a matter of emphasis, perspective, and opinion, of course, but from my perspective, that is not at all the issue. Still. The issue, which is to say, the primary part of the decision I find objectionable, is that completely innocent tenants, criminal in no sense, can be evicted, because some other member of their household has, for instance, smoked a joint, at some time, anywhere in the world, and, in the words of the decision,
regardless of whether the tenant knew, or should have known, of the drug-related activity.
Call me wacky, but this seems unjust to me. It's an application of collective responsibility, and it's punishment of an innocent person for something they specifically are declared, in such cases, as having had no means of knowing about.

That's beyond unjust, and into Kafkaesque.


I may be misreading the opinion. But from what I have gleaned, the opinion is indeed on whether the behavior of secondary defendants is grounds for eviction.
Grounds for eviction of the innocent primary tenant, yes.
And it was directed at people who say, "Well, I didn't know little Fred was using drugs" or "Well, I can't control him". I worked in the public housing sector in the mid-nineties, and while I certainly could have missed a decision that allowed the eviction of primary tenants for the behavior of those who live with them, this was indeed a huge problem back then, and not one that the Court had addressed.
Here's a simple notion: if secondary tenants are committing crimes, arrest them. That is, I believe, a normal response to criminal activity.

Secondarily, if this is insufficient to protect other tenants, and I surely grant that there are such cases, then I see no problem with the Housing Authority having authority to evict the criminal secondary tenant. Surely that cures the problem? Surely that is sufficient, and need not be extended into the absurd cruelty of evicting purely innocent people?

Now, the obvious response is that Congress didn't intend this when they wrote the law, and this is a decision for the legislature, not the judiciary. I don't feel qualified to speak to the specifics of that in this case; I'm not familiar, at this time, in the slightest with the legislative history, what debate may or may not have taken place, and what the intent of Congress was.

I do feel qualified, however, to speak to what seems good policy and bad, just policy and unjust, and that is what I have and am speaking to. That the Court of Appeals found sufficient grounds for disallowing the acts that the Supreme Court has now relegitimized, however, suggests to me that the idea that the interpretation of the law allowing such evictions was unconstitutional is not off in cloud-cuckoo-land.

Naturally, this reasoning will not appeal to all, and there we fall back to more basic questions of juridicial philosophy, political philosophy, worldview, and base prejudices, and I do not desire to extend discussion that far, so I leave it be.


Keep in mind two things: the public housing authorities are dealing with an enormous problem of tenants claiming that they "didn't know" about drug use going on in their house, and thereby evading responsibility.
Conceivably so. The decision isn't, however, about drug use in their apartment. Were there drug use in the apartment, then obviously the primary tenant can be found to have necessarily reasonably been aware of it. Again, the decision specifically says
... any drug-related activity engaged in by the specified persons is grounds for termination, not just drug-related activity that the tenant knew, or should have known, about....
Not activity that the tenant reasonably can be adjudged to know about, nor behavior the tenant should have known about, but, specifically activity the tenant should not have known about. Which, again, is different from what you are talking about, Megan.
Some of them probably didn't. But some of them obviously did, and the Housing Authority couldn't do squat. The opinion also, as far as I can tell, is issuing a ruling on whether people can be evicted for behavior of the secondary tenants that the primary tenants can't control. Hard on the primary tenants -- but sons, boyfriends, daughters, etc. that the tenant "couldn't control" have also been historically a huge source of crime in the projects. If you can't evict the primary, how do you get rid of the sixteen year old of whom that tenant is a legal guardian?
Yes, it's "hard on the primary tenants." It's a lot harder on someone living in public housing, who has waited years and years on a waiting list to get in, who by definition is low-income, and can't find an equivalent residence at a comparable rent. It's not as if these are middle-class people, to whom moving is a vast inconvenience, but that is all. It means that you're condemning someone to something between a hovel, living in the street with a shopping cart, or possibly dying in the street. This is not an abstract issue to those on the bitter end of the stick.

As for how to get rid of the hypothetical sixteen-year-old: take them to court and have the criminal removed from the custody of the guardian, if that is the proper and just response. It's done all the time, after all. So this is a non-problem, so far as I can see, with a "solution" of terrible injustice.

Conclusion: Megan McCardle wraps up:

The Supreme Court was not ruling on whether these four people deserved to be evicted; it was ruling on a principal.
The principle, of course, affects thousands, perhaps more, of real people.
The question was whether you can, or cannot, evict primary tenants from public housing for the behavior of those who live with them, even if they can't control that behavior.
Even if they have no knowledge whatever of that behavior, and can't be expected to have any knowledge of that behavior, and even if the behavior is as trivial as having smoked a joint somewhere across town, once.
I say yes. It's hard on the tenants, but easier on their neighbors. So did the Supreme Court.
And I say that it's possible to tailor vastly narrower cures for the problem, and that that would eliminate the vast injustice this decision has opened the door to.

Conservatives and libertarians, and more than a few liberals, last I looked, opposed and were skeptical about the arbitrary use of power by big government. Living in constant fear of arbitrary eviction by the government because someone else might engage in acts you can't possibly know about, and allowing the government the broadest possible authority, rather than tailoring the authority to the narrowest necessary, relying on the grounds that, after all, the tenant can always challenge the governmental authority's decision, even though the burden now rests on the citzen to prove that they are... well, I'm not clear what defense this SCOTUS decision leaves hanging, if any -- this doesn't strike me as precisely clearly in line with conservative and libertarian, or liberal, principles. But, as always, it's all in one's perspective.

(Note: I obviously do not hold Megan responsible in the slightest for the fact that in her comments section, posters cheerfully respect civilized discussion of issues by calling for the "evisceration" of "this joker." At least one poster's declaring that the obvious solution is that there should be no government housing ["It's the government owned housing that's Soviet like, not the ruling"] is a stand on policy, if a not-unfamiliar demonstration of the ability to wish away real problems with abstract simple "solutions.")

3/28/2002 12:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, March 27, 2002
The television images on Al-Jazeera have been burningly clear. There is a kind of Palestinian heroism in evidence there that makes this the story of our time.
Those who don't like Tom Friedman because he's so wobbly and soft might like to catch the view from the other side of "that pseudo-pundit -- the insufferably conceited Thomas Friedman" and his Zionist ways.

3/27/2002 10:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE BONDAGE: Speaking of Cockburn, if you're a Bond fan, and in the mood for bursts of hysterical laughter, check out Alexander Cockburn's quite insane piece in which he literally blames Fleming for the entire CIA, Cold War, Vietnam, and pretty much all evil in the world, which is to say, the West.

All delivered while sternly denouncing how terrible every word of Fleming is, with detail from every novel and movie, which no doubt Cockburn was forced to watch a la A Clockwork Orange, and yet somehow he manages to repeatedly refer to "SPECTER."

(As an alternative, check Christopher Hitchens' take.) Anyone with passing knowledge of the history of COI, OSS, CIA, the Cold War and the like, knows how completely insanely wrong Cockburn's absurd claims are (he insists, for instance, that the notion that KGB used Bulgarian services as cut-outs was an invention of Fleming's; perhaps he could tell Georgi Markov this; whoops, no, Markov was killed by non-existent Bulgarians); what's marvelous is that he appears to believe what he's saying, apparently believing that reading Fleming and seeing Bond movies, and noting parallels to the real world, constitutes proof that the real events flowed from Fleming's influence, rather than vice versa, as is demonstrably so. Presumably countless readers of Counterpunch believe this tripe.

He has much to answer for. Without Fleming we would have had no OSS, hence no CIA. The cold war would have ended in the early 1960s. We would have had no Vietnam, no Nixon, no Reagan and no Star Wars.
Yes, Alex. Whatever you say, Alex. I'm backing away very slowly now, Alex.

3/27/2002 10:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JEWS, SCHMOOS, WHAT ABOUT THE DIKES? demands Alexander Cockburn, that fine upstanding leftist. Cockburn poo-poos reaction to Bill Graham's statements on the Nixon tapes, as well as Nixon's statements. "Why the shock?" asks Cockburn, asserting that the real story is that Graham was enthusiastic about bombing the North Vietnamese dikes, which would allegedly kill a million Vietnamese.

The trivial detail that this never happened isn't relevant, in Cockburn's view, to what the Big Story is. (Does Cockburn think Nixon neglected to take this step because of Nixon's well-known dovish concern for Vietnamese life, or what, I wonder?)

No, on to what Cockburn has to say about the Real Jewish Story:

It's supposedly the third rail in journalism even to have a discussion of how much the Jews do control the media. Since three of the prime founders of Hollywood, were Polish Jews who grew up within fifty miles of each other in Galicia, it's reckoned as not so utterly beyond the bounds of propriety to talk about Jewish power in Hollywood, though people still stir uneasily. The economic and political commentator Jude Wanniski remarked last week in his web newsletter that even if the Jews don't control the media overall, it is certainly true to say that they control discussion of Israel in the media here.

Certainly, there are a number of stories sloshing around the news now that have raised discussion of Israel and of the posture of American Jews to an acrid level. The purveyor of anthrax may have been a former government scientist, Jewish, with a record of baiting a colleague of Arab origins, and with the intent to blame the anthrax on Muslim terrorists. Rocketing around the web and spilling into the press are many stories about Israeli spies in America at the time of 9/11. On various accounts, they were trailing Atta and his associates, knew what was going to happen but did nothing about it, or were simply spying on US facilities. Some, posing as art students have been expelled, according to AP. Finally, there's Sharon's bloody repression of the Palestinians, and Israel's apparently powerful role in Bush's foreign policy, urging him into action against at least two of the axes of evil, Iraq and Iran.

And there Cockburn's piece just stops, as if he were killed in the act of typing, or the copy was sent accidentally incomplete.

But what a lovely farrago of Dark Hints he delivers about Jewish Power and Evil. Oh, of course "the Jews control discussion of Israel." It's not even worth debating, is it? They take their orders from the Elders of Zion, you know, and they all think alike, as everyone knows. And everyone has heard that the Unanthraxer is Jewish: you had, hadn't you? The Jews have an ancient history as poisoners, of course. Probably he was controlled by those Israeli spies we hear so much about. Note Cockburn's fine journalistic practice of citing and sourcing.

Of course, there's nothing anti-semitic in what Cockburn said; it's just good journalism, telling you what the mainstream press, controlled by the Jews won't let you hear. That Counterpunch site of his certainly is brave, publishing this, and so enhancing its credibility with these truths.

At least, that's the line I'm told to put out tonight by the Elders Council. My orders tomorrow may change, but I'll probably be too busy draining blood from gentiles for my Passover matzoh, so don't be surprised if I'm late posting about it, okay?

3/27/2002 09:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLOGWATCH A: Blogwatch I has vanished. Blogwatch II is reduced to covering the same blogs about once every two weeks. All around us, the mighty are fallen, the center cannot hold, and this is the way the blogwatch ends, this is the way the blogwatch ends, this is the way the blogwatch ends.

But wait!

Fear not, citizen! Amygdala announces the inception of Blogwatch A.

Blogwatch A shall have its own tricksy method: we shall blogwatch what we wish to blogwatch each day, and report to you, Our Readers, with our findings. Tell your friends and neighbors! Every day that we can, until we stop, Blogwatch A is here to stay, until we go!

Our Promise: not clever, just there. No, wait, that's not right.

Our Promise: just there. Offer void where package settles.

March 27th:

Natalie Solent: e-mail guilt; invisible columnists; American southland; blogging forsaken for Harry Potter jigsaw.

The Sideshow (Avedon Carol): liberals do guilt, conservatives do anger; WashPo letters are the best; Starr no star.

Ted Barlow: the wonderfulness of Gary Farber on SCOTUS; Ebert on Sorority Boys; 13-year-olds with lawyers; Homer embraced by white power?

War Liberal (Mac Thomason): Milton Berle was alive?; chill with VodkaPundit; Colombian assassinations: are hit-men wearing the union label?; Uma Thurman: stacked?; SCOTUS: stacked?

Daily Pundit (Bill Quick): Kurds; illegal aliens deserve no protection; Arafat didn't leave because he couldn't come back; PLO doesn't believe in freedom of expression; reparations should go to court and be thrown out.

Electrolite (Patrick Nielsen Hayden): digital cameras are cool.

Junius (Chris Bertram): Instapundit not paying enough attention to French.

Matt Welch: Mass murder not a joke, including French murders; David Brock's lies a litmus test; Democratic fund-raising does the nasty; acoustic terrorism not so much; MIchael Moore might try the truth.

3/27/2002 06:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY WE FIGHT: The New Yorker has put Jeffrey Goldberg's extremely important piece on Iraqi gas warfare, based on his difficult travels in Kurdish Iraq, getting first-hand interviews, up. It's absolutely must-read, so go. (Here's a good Q&A with Goldberg.)
Nasreen gathered the food quickly, but she, too, noticed a series of odd smells carried into the house by the wind. "At first, it smelled bad, like garbage," she said. "And then it was a good smell, like sweet apples. Then like eggs." Before she went downstairs, she happened to check on a caged partridge that her father kept in the house. "The bird was dying," she said. "It was on its side." She looked out the window. "It was very quiet, but the animals were dying. The sheep and goats were dying." Nasreen ran to the cellar. "I told everybody there was something wrong. There was something wrong with the air."

The people in the cellar were panicked. They had fled downstairs to escape the bombardment, and it was difficult to abandon their shelter. Only splinters of light penetrated the basement, but the dark provided a strange comfort. "We wanted to stay in hiding, even though we were getting sick," Nasreen said. She felt a sharp pain in her eyes, like stabbing needles. "My sister came close to my face and said, 'Your eyes are very red.' Then the children started throwing up. They kept throwing up. They were in so much pain, and crying so much. They were crying all the time. My mother was crying. Then the old people started throwing up."

Remember Halabja. Remember Goktapa.

Footnote some prefer to forget:

Attempts by Congress in 1988 to impose sanctions on Iraq were stifled by the Reagan and Bush Administrations....
Considering him a counterforce to Iran was a judgment with some blowback, laying aside mere moral considerations.
Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who led the campaigns against the Kurds in the late eighties, was heard on a tape captured by rebels, and later obtained by Human Rights Watch, addressing members of Iraq's ruling Baath Party on the subject of the Kurds. "I will kill them all with chemical weapons!" he said. "Who is going to say anything? The international community? Fuck them! The international community and those who listen to them."
200,000 murdered-by-gas Kurds. You can decide for yourself what to make of the Mukhabarat-al Queda connection, and how much your own life is threatened. But remember Halabja. Remember Goktapa.

Remember: the Kurds were for practice.

3/27/2002 03:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HAS ANYONE TOLD KEN LAYNE?; Roger Ebert's Answer Man hears from Mamet:
Faithful readers will recall several entries since November about a line in David Mamet's "Heist" that I said was the funniest he had ever written. Gene Hackman is a thief who wants to retire. Danny DeVito wants him to do one more job, for the money. Hackman says he doesn't like money. DeVito replies: "Everybody needs money! That's why they call it money!" [...]

Many readers said they did not see anything funny about this line. I quoted Louis Armstrong: "There are some folks that, if they don't know, you can't tell 'em." More protest. I quoted Gene Siskel: "Comedy and eroticism are not debatable. Either it works for you or it doesn't." This also failed to satisfy many readers.

In desperation I sent the whole correspondence to David Mamet himself, and have received the following reply:

"Thank you for your update on the 'Heist' controversy. A lot of people didn't even think 'World War One' was funny. So it just shows to go you.

"Additionally, Clausewitz's 'On War' was, it seems originally issued as a serio-comic 'memoire' of life in a garret. (Orig. title 'Tales of a Garterbelt'.")

"I see where our beloved president has taken to speaking of 'terriers and barriffs.' Can he mean 'Braniff(s)?' Humor is where one finds it--George Dandin.

"With all best wishes,

If you do not find this funny, put it down to the fact that I am an effing Mamet fan, and this is all part of a Big Con; look, there's Ricky Jay! (Ebert, by the way, is another one of us who had an ill-spent youth in science fiction fandom, doing fanzines; just don't ask me about comparing "On War" to life in a garret.)

3/27/2002 02:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NEVER FORGET, but we wish we could: Justin Slotman of the autarchic Insolvent Republic of Blogistan, forms an Axis of Good with Ginger Stampley and myself in being unable to rip the hideous and mind-numbing knowledge from our brains that Akiva Goldsman, winner of the "Best Screenplay" Oscar for A Beautiful Mind wrote the horrifically awful Batman and Robin and Batman Forever movies, for which he should have been sentenced to never-ending vomiting up of lemur excrement, rechewing it, and spewing it forth.

Oh, that's right, he was.

(Never forgive Joel Schumacher, most of all.)

Further, I'm sure Opie is one hell of a nice guy, and he certainly does a good job of directing some good movies -- I'm particularly fond of Apollo 13 -- but in the department of artistic talent, he's not in the same house as Robert Altman, who certainly doesn't make a winner every time, but is among the bravest film-makers there are in throwing himself full forward into his films, and being willing to risk complete failure (Pret-a-Porter) to chance reaching brilliant success (M*A*S*H, Nashville, The Player). (The last being one of the rare cases of a film being even better than the [excellent] novel.)

On the other hand, Justin, it's, ah, questionable to, absent seeing Monster's Ball, conclude based on the fact that Halle Berry's role in X-Men didn't call for much, that therefore "her getting the Oscar was completely politically oh-we're-so-sorry-black-actors motivated" and that Denzel Washington's win was therefore "much more legitimate." Passing judgement about work one has not seen may not be quite at the top of the Top Ten Methods Of The Insightful Critic List.

As for LOTR vs. A BEAUTIFUL MIND, I think it's rather plain that Academy members, as ever, want to vote for The Serious Film that Addresses Serious Important Issues, such as overcoming schizophrenia, and to hell if it gets the Nash Equilibrium wrong, whereas People Won't Think We're The Serious People They Should If We Vote For Hobbits. We're serious, damnit! And important! Don't you believe us when we keep telling you!?

Excuse me, now; I have to go -- ohmigod, ohmigod -- thank my lawyer -- ohmigod, ohmigod --, and I'm grateful to you all for all your votes for me in next year's Bloggie, at which time I'll produce a montage of past Amygdala posts for your enjoyment.

3/27/2002 01:29:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NO STRIKES AND YER OUT: The redoubtable Megan McArdle has a rather peculiar post reacting to the NY Times story on yesterday's Supreme Court decision regarding "zero tolerance" public housing drug evictions.

It's peculiar because at no point does Megan McCardle refer to anything in the story or the decision, but instead editorializes that "I still heartily endorse the principle that we can kick criminals out of public housing, even if they're not the primary tenant."

Which is fine, and few would disagree and that has absolutely nothing, squat, zero, to do with the SCOTUS ruling handed down re DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT v. RUCKER et al.

Public Housing authorites have had and do have, the authority to evict criminals, people who have broken the law. That wasn't at issue. In the slightest. In the least. So I have no idea what Megan McArdle is on about.

What was at issue was whether public housing authorities can evict people who have broken no law, and have no awareness of any law being broken, merely because someone in their household used drugs at one time, at some entirely different place, utterly without the knowledge of the primary renter.

Which is a whole different kettle of squid from what Megan McArdle says she is concerned with, and which is why this went up to the Supreme Court, whereas the utterly settled issue of whether criminals can be evicted certainly need not and did not.

The Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals, and held that tenants may be evicted

regardless of whether the tenant knew, or should have known, of the drug-related activity.
Specifically emphasized in the decision is that
... any drug-related activity engaged in by the specified persons is grounds for termination, not just drug-related activity that the tenant knew, or should have known, about....


The court [of Appeals --ed] ultimately adopted this reading, concluding that the statute prohibits eviction where the tenant for a lack of knowledge or other reason, could not realistically exercise control over the conduct of a household member or guest. Id., at 1126. But this interpretation runs counter to basic rules of grammar.

Are we clear here? Third-party actions that it isn't reasonable for the tenant to have known about are grounds for eviction, because of the grammar of the law, says SCOTUS.

Pause and marvel at that fine "strict constructionism." Imagine what one would have said if that was the reasoning of a Soviet court.

The agency made clear that local public housing authorities' discretion to evict for drug-related activity includes those situations in which [the] tenant did not know, could not foresee, or could not control behavior by other occupants of the unit.
So much for individual responsibility. No, the new rule is collective responsibility.

Conservatives and libertarians have long rightly held popular the meme that zero-tolerance laws and regulations were an absurd, if not inane, over-reaction of the liberal nanny-state, despite the fact that most liberals agree. Here is another case one would think is an example of zero-tolerance run amuck. But somehow Megan McArdle disagrees; based on what she wrote, I have to wonder if she read either the decision, or the story she linked to.

Here are some of the actual cases that were at issue:

Pearlie Rucker, 63, had been living in public housing since 1985 when she was informed she would be evicted. She lived with her mentally disabled daughter, two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. The housing authority said Ms. Rucker's daughter was found with cocaine and a crack pipe three blocks from her apartment.

Willie Lee, 71, who has lived in public housing for more than 25 years, received notice of eviction after allegations that her grandson was caught smoking marijuana in the project's parking lot. The grandson of another tenant, Barbara Hill, 63, who has lived in public housing for more than 30 years, admitted smoking marijuana in the parking lot.

Maybe you feel that these people, not just their grandkids, are dangerous, and deserve to be tossed on the street, and that society will be the better for it. Maybe you feel that it is reasonable to expect elderly disabled people to be omniscently aware that their grandchild has smoked marijuana elsewhere, and that to have failed to do so is reasonable grounds for throwing them on the street. I won't agree, but you're entitled to your opinion. But that was the issue, not, as Megan McArdle chooses as her link phrase, "Yes, you can evict drug users from public housing."

McArdle also asserts

Predictably, poverty advocates are screaming that this is discrimination. Wake up, Moonshine; the sixties are over.
Aside from the way the latter statement seems to be mere ad hominem generational bile, she provides no quotes nor links to sources for this assertion, which might have made it relevant to the rest of what she was saying, despite the fact than none of it has anything to do with the Supreme Court decision ostensibly under discussion. If anyone can connect the decision to a non-argument over whether public housing can evict criminals, please let me know.

3/27/2002 10:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YOU KNOW, MAX, I'm one of the twelve American fans Woody Allen has left. Ken Goldstein mentioned Mr. Konigsberg's unique appearance at the Oscars, which is particularly ironic to contemplate in context of Alan Felix's attempt to appear on a Los Angeles awards show on tv, in Annie Hall. I was thus particularly gratified to see him there.

The Telegraph has a nice interview with him.

I feel particularly sympatico to Allan Stewart "Woody Allen" Konigsberg, because we grew up more or less around the corner from each other in Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood. He on Avenue K off East 12th Street, and me on East 10th St., between Avenue J and K. To give you an idea how close that is, there is no East 11th Street: just Coney Island Avenue between us.

We both went to P.S. 99 (now, in one of the ironies of the cosmos, the Isaac Asimov School For Writing and Technology), on East 10th off Avenue K, and then to Midwood High School; in each case, we had several of the same teachers, though he did all this about 15 years before I did. Nevertheless, we came out of the precisely identical milieu, down to the furniture and stylings he shows in Radio Days for the apartment he grew up in being precisely that of my grandmother and great-aunt.

If you were wondering, our shared Social Studies teacher said he sat in the back of the room and made jokes all the time, and our shared English teacher said he sat in the back of the room and was morose. Big surprises, eh?

Fortunately for me, I'm a lot less neurotic than he is, and don't have much existential angst about dying. On the other hand, I'm also not a world-famous millionaire. Hard to say who has the better deal, perhaps. Especially given his shift in public regard in recent years, not to mention his becoming persona non-grata in most of the religious Jewish community.

Nevertheless, I remain a fan, and while his films are variously better and worse, there are none I regret seeing, and some are among my top favorites, including some he hates, such as Manhattan. I was glad to see he could make it to the Oscars, and that the Oscars could make it to him.

3/27/2002 08:44:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, March 26, 2002
JESUS NO HIPPIE says Vienna's Archbishop Christoph Schoenborn, outraged over a graphic novel The Life of Jesus by a caricaturist, Gerhard Haderer.
But Archbishop Schoenborn is sticking to his views: "Because of this book I am ashamed to stand before people of other cultures and religions.

"What kind of impression must they have of a society that can silently or laughingly stand by such contempt of the basic foundations which form a part of every religion."

An impression of a tolerant society that can be an example to those who instead issue fatwas and punish such views with beheadings? Not that Austria, birthplace of Nazism, has a rich history in this, to be sure. Good shnitzel and pastry, though.

3/26/2002 10:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUPPORT YOUR ANCIENT LIBRARY: This seems a project eminently deserving of some spare sesterces. I'm all for recovering vast amounts of lost literature of the Roman world, myself. Particularly if we can find a guide to ancient Roman obscene gestures. And more of that stuff that made people want to poison Socrates. Man, whenever I use his techniques, people hopefully suggest I drink poison, too; they seem to find it annoying. (Via Junius.)

3/26/2002 10:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WORRIED ABOUT HOLLINGS?: About judges restricting what you can publish on the Internet, and about being able to copy material with your computer? Here's a cheery place that shows where it can go.

3/26/2002 08:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANGRY TALIBAN are interviewed and described in Time magazine. It doesn't make a pretty picture.
If anyone doubts the ardor of grass-roots support for the anti-American militancy in southern Afghanistan, Kandahar's cemetery for al-Qaeda fighters bears unequivocal testimony. Hundreds of mourners have descended on the graveyard from as far away as Mazar-i-Sharif, Kabul and Uruzgan province. What began as daily homages have grown into all-night vigils. Men, women and children sleep by the graves. Devotees recite the Koran throughout the night. The paralyzed, ill and blind flock to the site seeking miracle cures, which many claim to receive. Men mumble, repeating scripture until they fall into a trance, swaying and convulsing, talking in tongues. "Do not speak English here," says a Talib accompanying a TIME correspondent. "They will kill you the instant they know you are a foreigner. These people are so angry."
Yes, but that graveyard sounds like one happening place. Kinda of a Talib rave.

3/26/2002 08:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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USE OF POLITICAL ADJECTIVES IN NEWSPAPERS LOOKED AT MATHEMATICALLY here. Of course, it should be easy enough to do additional studies, more or less objectively. Numbers for this look are here.

3/26/2002 06:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PURPLE HEART TO AIRPORT SECURITY FOR HOLES IN HEAD: This is eye-poppingly stupid. Airport security held up the 86-year-old former Governor of South Dakota for repeated body searches as they endlessly passed around his Congressional Medal of Honor, unable to conclude what to make of this obviously dangerous throwing-star-like weapon. Clearly they had caught a dangerous terrorist. Go read.

3/26/2002 05:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CRANKY, isn't he? Doesn't like your politics.

3/26/2002 07:14:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YES, BUT WHERE'S SUSAN CALVIN?: Interesting interview with the head of MIT's AI Lab, Rodney Brooks, who points out where AI lives all around us, as well as what a lot of robots are doing and about to be doing.

There's not even a note, though, about the talking bots that have escaped to Instant Messaging and IRC.

3/26/2002 06:47:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, March 25, 2002
IF ONLY A SUPERHERO HAD BEEN NEARBY!: Owning a comic-book store is a dangerous business, and only the grim and tough are up to it:
An unemployed Reno craps dealer was arrested Friday after barricading himself inside a downtown comic book store and threatening to set off a homemade bomb over a dispute involving stolen comic books, police said. [...] “He said he wanted to blow up the place or burn it down,” McPartland said. “If he couldn’t have his comic books, nobody could.”
Ya hear, copper!? Top of the world, ma!

3/25/2002 10:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LID OVER TORCH: Interestingly, the NY Times is calling for another Democrat to run against Senator Torricelli:
Potential candidates cannot afford to tarry — the deadline for filing is April 8 — but it would be a healthy development if a rival Democrat chose to step forward. Despite Mr. Torricelli's prominent political profile, his ethical troubles over the last few years have soured many voters. Those voters want a choice, and the Democrats as well as the Republicans should give them one.
It's tough to run in NJ, where the only two substantial media markets are New York City and Philadelphia, which makes anyone's run Mighty Expensive.

3/25/2002 10:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LIES, DARNED LIES, AND STATISTICS: So my Site Meter counter consistently gives me a much higher count, and my Extreme counter a much lower count.

Right now, Site Meter says for visits:
Total 19,041
Average per Day 254
Average Visit Length 2:20
Last Hour 21
Today 437
This Week 4,602

and for Page Views:
Total 28,120
Average per Day 375
Average per Visit 1.5
Last Hour 50
Today 755
This Week 7,106

Extreme, on the other hand, says:
Daily Unique: Totals:
Today 124 / 25 Mar, Mon, 2002 Total Unique Visitors 10577 -87.95%
Yesterday 86 / 24 Mar, Sun, 2002 Total Visits incl. Reloads 12026
Average 148 Reloads 1449 - 12.04%
Highest Day 1729 / 31 Jan, Thu, 2002 Total Visitors via Referrers 5938 - 56.14%
Weekly Unique: Website Referrers 331
Current Week 124 / Wk 13, 2002
Last Week 1274 / Wk 12, 2002
Average 961
Highest Week 3498 / Wk 05, 2002
Monthly Unique:
Current Month 3363 / Mar, 2002
Last Month 3404 / Feb, 2002
Average 3525

Since both do give specific IP addresses, although Site Meter incomplete ones, I can see that Extreme does seem to, for some reason, not register a lot of visits that SM does. On the other hand, how it distinguishes "unique visits" from "visits," I'm unclear. Anyone want to educate me, perhaps by posting to my comment section, or via e-mail?

I started using SM some weeks after I started, but probably didn't miss counting a huge mass of people back then, he said dryly. I started using Extreme a few weeks later. By whatever measure, I've passed well over 10,000 "unique visitors," though a fair number of those are my Faithful Daily Visitors, some of whom brilliantly check in a few times a day. By SM's "page views" count, I'm closing in on 30,000 hits, all in less than three months. So: thanks.

3/25/2002 09:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KILROY, ER, BIN LADEN, WAS HERE. MAYBE: The CS Monitor has been doing excellent reporting from Afghanistan; make what you will of this. Even if you discount the alleged bin Laden sighting, there's interesting detail, particularly on how foreign al Queda couldn't survive without Afghan Taliban help.

3/25/2002 08:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARE YOU LOOKING AT THAT BODY PART FOR RESEARCH, SIR?: The absurd trial over the constitutionality of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) opened today.
As an unusual constitutional trial opened in U.S. District Court, librarians from Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington warned that the Children's Internet Protection Act could undermine the role of American libraries that seek to provide adult patrons with any lawful material regardless of content or viewpoint.

"We really don't ask people why they want to know what they want to know," Ginnie Cooper, 56, director of Multnomah County Public Library in Portland, Oregon, testified in what is expected to be a nine-day trial.

Known by the acronym CIPA, the law is a third attempt by Congress to restrict access to the Internet and its estimated 11 million World Wide Web sites, about 1 percent of which experts say contain some sort of sexually explicit material.


A main objection to CIPA among librarians is a section that would require adult patrons to ask that filtering software be shut off for what the statute calls "bonafide research."

"I really myself have no idea how I would say to someone: 'Why do you want this?'," said Peter Hamon, 56, director of Madison, Wisconsin's South Central Library System. [...] [plaintiffs] also maintain that filtering software is faulty in two ways -- it either blocks Web sites that are not objectionable or allows access to some that are.


Advocates say the law is necessary because an aggressive pornography industry is looking increasingly for ways to lure youngsters to pornographic Web sites.

Not unless the youngsters have credit cards, they're not.

One hopes this nonsense gets drop-kicked, and that the Supreme Court would do the same, but one can scarcely be confident of either.

3/25/2002 08:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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3/25/2002 07:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NOT EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED: The Nigerian woman convicted of adultury will not be stoned; she's won her appeal. It pretty well appears that, knowing which side their bread is buttered on, this was done at the direction of the national government.

3/25/2002 01:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CRUNCHY CHIPS: The BBC takes more note of implant chips in humans so they can be GPS tracked if kidnapped. Remember when Captain Kirk and Spock had these on the Planet of The Nazis? And they both were whipped, and got to take off their shirts, and Spock then mounted the Captain, and the Captain cried out, and....

Sorry, what was I saying? Right, chips.

Chips that monitor blood chemistry are already being made, as are ones that can be connected to the nervous system to allow movement in limbs that have been damaged.

The next stage would be making chips that can interpret sensations and connect people that are physically removed from each other.

Look, they noticed!

Soon, direct brain connections to CPUs, and moddie implants. In the "real soon now" sense.

3/25/2002 12:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DRAGGING BODIES UPSIDE DOWN THROUGH THE STREET: Some Americans recall when Somalis did this to the US Army soldier captured in Mogadishu, a scene I gather Black Hawk Down discreetly chose to omit.

In the course of graciously responding to me, Geoff Meltzner pointed to this Indy Media Center report, which features not only the photo of how Palestinians are treating other Palestinians today, but a truly chilling and blood-thirsty, though not in the least surprising, commentary by a fellow who happens to mention that he has a history of making documentaries on the Palestinian situation for Channel Four in London. No surprise there, either, of course. But please read his full commentary, and take in the attitude. A small sample:

The fact that the Palestinians are willing, for the first time, to make such a public display of the killings of collaborators underlines the extent of the need to rid themselves, once and for all, of those willing to commit the highest act of treason. Perhaps the hanging in Ramallah two days ago and the lynching in Bethlehem today will make the hundreds of other collaborators consider the cost of their collaboration. Hizbullah in South Lebanon was able to succeed in riding itself of collaborators and the Palestinians have to do the same if the resistance is going to have any chance at bringing the occupation to an end.


The fact that the Palestinians have been able to produce so many collaborators can no longer be excused or ignored. [...] As brutal and barbaric as the scenes of this week's hanging and lynching may seem, it is time to clean house. It is time to impose some serious internal changes.

Courts and trials are so ineffective and unsatisfying, and besides, they don't deter and terrorize enough. Lynch mobs are always the way to go! Justice is quick, certain, and effective! It teaches the right lesson!

And this is from an educated author, someone who lived in Britain, and worked for Channel Four.

Now go look at that photo again, and see what he is applauding and calling for as much more of as possible.

3/25/2002 11:22:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GIT MO' GITMO: Sgt. Stryker points out that here is the official web page for Joint Task Force 160 (JTF-160), the outfit guarding the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Army Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus takes over command official from Marine Brig. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert on March 28th, by the way.
His most recent assignment before promotion was as the United States Property and Fiscal Officer for Rhode Island, a title 10 tour officer reporting to the Chief, National Guard Bureau. His responsibilities included receiving and accounting for all federal funds and property assigned to the Rhode Island National Guard....
"I want to lay down an enfilading cross-audit from that hill, Sgt., and we need Apache server support on those invoices ASAP! Move, or this will be FUBAR; the enemy may be bringing in elements of Arthur Andersen!"

3/25/2002 10:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, March 24, 2002

take free enneagram test
Next up I'm a
Fours are all about being unique and creating their own distinct culture. They experience the highs and lows of life more intensely than other types. This makes them great creative forces (artists, writers, filmmakers). Fours often feel like misplaced children, and they long for a sense of real family.
Sounds right on both.

3/24/2002 09:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S GROOVY: Wanna romanticize the Sixties? Time-travel back, and experience it better than it was, except for lacking "drugs" HTML tags.

3/24/2002 09:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, never let Elizabeth Wurtzel acknowledge you. Flee! Flee like the wind!

3/24/2002 07:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ALL PARLIAMENTS AREN'T FUNKADELIC: In the Department of Assuming Different Things Are Alike, and getting a wildly erroneous conclusion, we see this, from Bill Altreuter's well-done, save for lacking permanent links, Outside Counsel:
In a parliamentary government, it's winner take all, which means that there are these bipolar swings between (relative) moderates and (somewhat less relative) hardliners. It is not realistic to expect Sharon to behave any way other than the way he behaves all the time-- there is no moderating force exerted by the legislature on him.
Boggle. This would make perfect sense if Israeli politics were British politics, and the Knesset were Westminister, but they're not and it's not. In Britain, there is parliamentary dictatorship, because a single party wins a clear majority.

In Israel, there are dozens of tiny parties, and Coalition Is All. The "Likud" is nothing but a coalition of various small parties, and the present government is a "Unity Government," formed in coalition with the Labor coalition, and yet another smattering of parties belonging to neither.

Israeli parties tend to often consist of no more than a single MK, or perhaps 2, 3, or 4, and they break apart, merge with others, and disappear, as new ones arise, more or less every few months, certainly with each election. No Israeli Government has ever not been a coalition, and every Cabinet has always been a coalition of various parties and factions, all at odds with each other in some ways, each striving for a Ministry, a chunk of power, a policy, and a wad of cash.

The problem is the exact opposite of winner-takes-all. The simplest look at the present Israeli Cabinet, for example, would tell anyone this. Defense Minister Ben Eliezer, of the Labor Party, is scarcely one of the "winner-takes-all," for example. But then, there wasn't remotely any "winner-takes-all."

Sharon is absolutely beset with modifying forces all around him, on all sides, in the Cabinet. And thus his policies somewhat lurch back and forth. It's hard to overstate just how wrong what Altreuter said is, I regret to say, since his blog is otherwise quite interesting and well-written.

3/24/2002 05:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BALLARD CHIC: If you've not lived in Seattle, you can ignore this, but as someone who did from 1978-1985, I'm amused to see the New York Times and Seattle Magazine declare the Nordic neighborhood of Ballard chic. And also manage to not once mention the locks.

3/24/2002 04:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SCARLET FEVER: Joel Garreau is overcome with red-headedness and tells us more than we likely want to know.

3/24/2002 12:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NOT A MEGAWATT OF POWER: Indonesia is doing squat on Islamist support for terror.

3/24/2002 12:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANTI-IMMIGRANT HYSTERIA: I've never understood anti-immigration fervor, save as sheer hypocritical xenophobia, mixed with a dash of racism. Everyone in the US is the descendent of immigrants, if not an immigrant themself, "Native Americans" included (having come via the Bering Strait).

Do we want to keep criminals out? Sure. Beyond that, every study shows that immigrants, illegal and legal, overwhelmingly work hard, and contribute vastly to the strength of the nation. And how do we frequently reward them? Like this.

Something good the Administration was trying to do was push through a change making it easier for Mexican immigrants to stay, and not be deported. Now that may go down. It's sad, save for those who share Pat Buchanan's views.

3/24/2002 12:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TWO FINGERS IN THE SAME GLOVE: George Bush and Ken Lay: a commonality of interests.

3/24/2002 11:52:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BATTERIES NOT INCLUDED: Remember in December, a JDAM -equipped bomb was dropped on a US position? Turns out that if you calculate the position you want to have the bomb dropped on with your GPS locator, and the battery dies, when you plug in the new one, the device defaults back to your present location.

Of course, if you're standing in the Chinese Embassy, they won't buy that explanation.

3/24/2002 11:43:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAN BITS DOG: Here is a headline, and story, that are not intuitively what one might expect: Helms Leads Bid to Boost U.S. Contribution to AIDS Fight

Clearly Bono should have been sent in years ago.

Senator Helms also has an Op-Ed piece on the subject: "We Cannot Turn Away." It's an eye-opener. Migod, I never thought I'd see the day when I feel good about something Jesse Helms is saying and doing. The world is filled with wonderful surprises.

3/24/2002 10:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S PERSONAL: Washington Post notes that US troops in Afghanistan have startlingly low levels of battle fatigue, discipline problems, and questions and doubts as to why they are there. The deployment of elements of the 10th Mountain Division, out of Fort Drum, New York, has led to a high proportion of soldiers from New York and New Jersey, for whom their mission is very personal. I can, of course, just see an anti-war Justin Raimondo-type sneering at a story such as this as pro-war propaganda, and, gosh, I don't care.

3/24/2002 10:13:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BIG BROADCAST: In honor of tonight's Oscars, we bring you this wonderful essay about them by the fabulous Raymond Chandler, which was written just yesterday. No, really. Would I lie, or would Chandler let a little thing like being dead keep him from being absolutely apt, appositive, and a great read? Maybe the former, but trust me, anyway, and go read it. Chandler is always worth reading.

3/24/2002 09:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, March 23, 2002
Swiss authorities knowingly contributed to the Holocaust by turning back Jewish refugees to face their Nazi persecutors, according to a five-year study funded by the Swiss government. [...] The undertaking, which produced 26 volumes and cost about $13 million, confronted neutral Switzerland with unpleasant truths about its World War II balancing act next to Hitler's Germany.


"We are obliged to sustain the affirmation, perhaps provocative in form, but nonetheless in conformity with the facts: The refugee policy of our authorities contributed to the most atrocious of Nazi objectives -- the Holocaust," he said. [...] The historians said "it must . . . be assumed that Switzerland turned back or deported over 20,000 refugees" during the war, and that a large proportion were Jewish. Many of those rejected were believed captured by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps, where they died.

Count on various right-wing Swiss politicians denouncing this report in the usual clockwork manner.

3/23/2002 05:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JOHN KEEGAN says of the "states of concern" that we have been warned.

3/23/2002 05:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HAIL FREEDONIA: Interesting year old Washington Post story on how AID aid to "help democracy" can go down the--, er, be of limited usefulness in states rather more interested in autocracy, such as Kazakhstan. Also details how such powers can co-opt would-be helpers, and find plenty of US politicos to pay off to shill for them. Part of a 3-part series I missed the first time 'round.

3/23/2002 05:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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The incident Thursday began when an American player fell on the court near the seating area of the Kabul stadium. An Afghan spectator stepped forward and kicked the player in the head, Flight Lt. Tony Marshall said.

An Afghan guard with the U.S. team moved in to try to push the crowd back. He cocked his Kalashnikov and it went off unintentionally, hitting an Afghan spectator in the leg, Marshall said.


This week, British and other members of the international peacekeeping force played a cricket match with an Afghan team – complete with cucumber triangle sandwiches, scones and tea. The Afghans were leading when rain ended the match.

After being offered the cucumber sandwiches, Afghan players enthusiastically threw a dead goat to the British team in trade.

3/23/2002 05:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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