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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!)
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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, June 30, 2002
CYNTHIA MCKINNEY'S DISTRICT is where Reid Stott, the PhotoDude lives. He has some words about how he intends to vote, and why.

6/30/2002 10:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ISRAELI TV HUMOR: Different than in the US.

6/30/2002 09:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOGISTICS, ENGINEERING, EFFICIENCY: Review of Richard Rhodes' MASTERS OF DEATH: The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust.
In fact, how they approached some of their technical challenges illustrates what they did and who they were. For instance, when people who were shot at the edge of a pit would fall in, on top of those who had been shot a few moments earlier, their bodies would crumple every which way. This resulted in unused -- and therefore, from the point of view of efficiency, wasted -- space between the bodies. It meant digging more pits than if the bodies had fallen into neat rows.

Rhodes describes how Friedrich Jeckeln, an SS and police general, solved this problem. Jeckeln called his solution Sardinenpackung -- sardine-packing. ''Today we'll stack them like sardines,'' he informed a colleague at a killing site in western Ukraine. As that colleague later described it, ''The Jews had to lie layer upon layer in an open grave and were then killed with neck shots from machine pistols, pistols and rifles. That meant they had to lie face down on those previously shot.''

And here was another logistical challenge the Einsatzgruppen overcame: shooting women holding infants. How do you kill both at the same time? One solution to this problem, Rhodes explains, was devised at a killing site in Latvia: mothers with infants had to hold their babies over their heads; one man shot the mother, one the child.

First chapter here. A point that can't be emphasized enough:
During the first weeks after the invasion, while the Wehrmacht still controlled the occupied areas, a historian of the Polish experience summarizes, "531 towns and villages were burned; the provinces of Lodz and Warsaw suffered the heaviest losses. Various branches of the army and police [i.e., Himmler's legions] carried out 714 [mass] executions, which took the lives of 16,376 people, most of whom were Polish Christians. The Wehrmacht committed approximately 60 percent of these crimes, with the police responsible for the remainder."
Good that we had Ronald Reagan, paragon of moral clarity, foe of moral equivalence, to go to Bitburg and declare that even SS soldiers, beyond mere Wehrmacht, were equally "victims" of Nazism.

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"History is ultimately a moral art, and it is about values," he continued. "It is not merely about the collection of facts. It is about the way we put those facts together and the meaning we give them. Arguments about facts are arguments about meaning."
See any factual errors in that?

6/30/2002 09:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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6/30/2002 05:49:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DID YOU KNOW GOVERNOR HOWARD DEAN, Democrat of Vermont, is running for President? I didn't think so.

6/30/2002 04:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THIS REALLY DOESN'T SEEM WORTH POINTING OUT, but Cal Thomas is, of course, a fool. Simply for this:
On the eve of our great national birthday party and in the aftermath of Sept. 11, when millions of us turned to God and prayed for forgiveness of individual and corporate sins and asked for His protection against future attacks, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has inflicted on this nation what many will conclude is a greater injury than that caused by the terrorists.
I'd like to see him say this to the faces of relatives of the dead.

And that's all that needs to be said, but in passing:

Couldn't he have simply let his daughter opt out of reciting the pledge, as children are permitted to avoid sex education classes their parents don't like?
Sure, Cal. Since that's fair, how about we institute those couple of words in the Pledge as having a couple of dozen revolving substitutes, and kids can just "opt out" of reciting the pledge if they don't want to pledge "one nation, under Satan," or "one nation, under Kali," or "one nation, under Osama bin Laden," "one nation under Rabbi Menachem Schneerson," etc. What could be more fair?
If upheld on appeal, it will turn millions of Americans into lawbreakers, because they'll continue to say the Pledge of Allegiance, just as many continue to pray before school athletic contests in violation of court prohibitions.
These are lies, of course. Everyone is free to say whatever Pledge of Allegiance and any prayer they wish, at any time, anywhere, as many times as they like, so long as they are not acting as agents of the state. No American reciting a prayer before a football game is a "lawbreaker" unless they are acting as an agent of the state. Nor, of course, is the Pledge forbidden by the decision: just the two words added in 1954.

Thomas is correct about the political effects of the 9th Circuit decision, and the probability of it being overturned, but then, this is news only to a few strands of seaweed off Okinawa.

6/30/2002 04:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AND SPEAKING OF ORGANIZING, that's what Democratic and black organizations in Florida are doing to "see that every vote gets counted" in 2002 elections.

6/30/2002 03:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE AMERICAN FOUNDATION of ideas, or, how to get your ideas adopted by the mainstream from a movement for only $70 million dollars a year. Remember what "foundation" is in Arabic. How do you get your ideas adopted? It ain't "practice, practice, practice," but "organize, organize, organize." Oh, and add the money.

6/30/2002 03:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OH, YEAH: To those I mentioned to in e-mail about the interview for the nifty job: they hired one of the other candidates.

6/30/2002 03:06:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GREEN LOONS: This sort of suicidal false purity is a perfect example of the idiot left (which is hardly the entirely left) at work.

UPDATE: Here's where it presently stands:

After months of aggressive campaigning in one of the nation's most-watched U.S. Senate races, incumbent Paul Wellstone, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Norm Coleman have virtually equal support among Minnesota voters, according to the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

Wellstone is favored by 47 percent of likely voters, while 43 percent favor Coleman, a gap that falls within the poll's margin of sampling error.

Green Party candidate Ed McGaa drew 3 percent, while 5 percent had no opinion, an extremely small pool of undecided voters with more than four months remaining until the Nov. 5 election. The poll of 812 Minnesotans was conducted June 20 to 24.

So we may see uncompromising leftists throw the Senate back into Republican hands, just as they were one of the groups that elected George Bush to the Presidency over "there's no difference" Al Gore. How thankful Republicans are, and rightfully so!

6/30/2002 02:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BEAM UP NORTH: Ontario is offering a Star Trek license plate:

6/30/2002 12:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THAT DARNED JEWISH MEDIA: Cliff Rothman surveys some of the major Jewish media people of 1972 for reactions to the Billy Graham-Nixon tape.
"He just showed that he was the pious hypocrite that we all knew that he was anyway," says Arthur Schlesinger Jr., who had served in the Kennedy White House a decade earlier. "Sinclair Lewis wrote about all those fellows in the great Elmer Gantry."


Carl Bernstein [...] "And it looks to me like Graham initiated this particular exchange. Whatever the case, it's sickening."


Did Graham's remarks suggest a bounty of similar anti-Semitic slurs in power corridors? Answers to this query fell on either side of a Jew-gentile divide. Jews like Kalb, Schorr and Garment believe that anti-Semitism was lurking back then in the corridors of power and still thrives in what Kalb describes as "the sort of private golf club--this clubby atmosphere where people are sitting around, taking off their sneakers and mumbling about Jews and media influence and power and control. I thought it then, and believe it continues today." His famous baritone was clenched as he spoke.

In contrast, gentrified gentiles like Otis Chandler and Ben Bradlee denied coming across anti-Semitism in their circles. "I don't think I was naive, but I did not experience people talking that way," says former LA Times publisher Chandler, who in 1972 also ran Newsday and the Dallas Times Herald, and was on the board of the Associated Press. "Certainly not at my level, at the leadership level."

And the Boston-born Bradlee, who pegs himself as "WASP to the nth degree," says his parents "never talked like that. I mean, they were anti-Roosevelt, but they weren't anti-Semitic." After he arrived in Washington, "I never heard that kind of talk again."

Sundry others counter that; Dan Schorr testifies that he wasn't hired by the NY Times in 1953 because he was Jewish. Various other interesting perspectives. Renata Adler is quite mad:
Then there's cultural historian Renata Adler, who dismisses the tapes entirely. "I think it's silly to take this private conversation and draw any conclusions--about the situation that year, about the anti-Semitism. Sometimes they mean it for ten seconds, sometimes they mean it for their whole life. The only significance is that Nixon and Graham didn't conduct their public life anti-Semitically."
No, it's not as if they sat around the Oval Office having such discussions. Or as if Nixon issued countless orders to have Jews audited, because they were Jews, or departments investigated to find out how many Jews worked in them, and so on. No significance to any of Nixon's numerous memos and declarations and directives to his aides along these lines. No, siree.

6/30/2002 11:50:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CHEERS: Beer orders to suppliers to the Palace of Westminster have doubled since October. Commons Speaker Michael Martin:
"The tragedy is that young people get elected to the Commons believing they can play a part in putting things right. "And when they find they can't - because so many of the decisions are taken outside Westminster now - they resort to the drinking dens."
But it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble.

6/30/2002 09:38:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A new form of anti-Semitism has taken hold in Europe, fuelled by anti-Israeli sentiment, according to a survey which shows almost one in three Europeans now harbours some anti-Jewish feelings.

Attitudes towards Jews vary across the five countries surveyed with Belgians, Germans and the French "most likely to hold a prejudiced view of Jews". Denmark and the UK are said to be the least prejudiced. But attitudes in the UK show a worryingly high level of anti-Semitic sentiment.

The findings of 2,500 people polled – 500 in each country – show 30 per cent harboured traditional anti-Jewish views. The survey was commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based organisation set up just before the First World War to combat anti-Semitism in the US.

Those polled were each read out four statements containing stereotypical anti-Semitic sentiments. The numbers who thought the statements "probably true" varied from country to country but were still very high.

One in five Britons believes Jews have too much power in the business world. More than 10 per cent of those surveyed in the UK believed Jews are "more willing to use shady practices to get what they want".

One in 10 believes "Jews don't care what happens to anyone but their own kind" while one in three considers "Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country".

Fiona Macaulay of the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "These findings are shocking. If one was to substitute the word Jew for black there would be outrage."

Round up the usual counter-reaction.

6/30/2002 08:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GREATEST BATTLE IS THE BATTLE OF WITS: Fascinating detailed story of how the interrogators at Bagram in Afghanistan, and elsewhere, deal with prisoners and documents, seeking to collate information into usable form.
Indeed, Marie said most of the 70 or so prisoners she has interrogated have been cooperative and even exhibited signs of gaining new respect for her gender.

"True, some have had their choice of words for me," she said. "But when they realize that where they travel next depends on the opinion of a woman, not only does that put them in their place, it scares the bejesus out of them."

Nice touch.

6/30/2002 12:29:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 29, 2002
BRAVE SOULS: Three representatives voted against the House resolution condeming the 9th Circuit's Pledge decision. CNN had two of them, California Democrat Michael Honda and Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott, on Crossfire:
REP. BOBBY SCOTT (D), VIRGINIA: [...] But the fact is any time somebody has their rights vindicated by the Supreme Court or any court on a Constitutional basis, it's going to be unpopular. And so having a stream of members make a spectacle out of themselves, saying how much they disagree with the decision -- of course they disagree with the decision.

If it was a popular decision, the person wouldn't have been in court to begin with. They would have been in the legislative body vindicating their rights. Obviously it's unpopular.


CARVILLE: I know your district well. I just -- couldn't you have just kind of thrown one away and let it go over?

SCOTT: That's the point. You just throw away the Constitution. And which one of your Constitutional rights are you not going to throw away for personal political ambition? I think somebody needed to stand up and say this is not a good idea.


SCOTT: Well, part of it is frivolous, but I think inappropriate to grandstand over the vindication of someone's Constitutional rights in the courts.

Anytime someone's rights are vindicated, that will be an opportunity for an unpopular decision, because if the cause were popular, they would be in the legislature, not in the courts. And every time a controversial case comes up, we want to parade and say how unpopular it is.

Now, we were sworn in to uphold the Constitution, which means that we ought to be standing up for unpopular decisions. That's why we have lifetime judges.

... with liberty and justice for all.

6/29/2002 11:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NIFTY IDEAS AND WEIRD SCIENCE can be found at Half-bakery, a multiple-user site. (Via Bill Humphries, who highlighted the solar-powered artificially intelligent motorised road cone.)

6/29/2002 11:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ANOTHER BOOST FOR CANADIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONS: How wonderful that the first Canadians killed in combat since the Korean War were killed by Americans violating procedure. (Via Flit.)

6/29/2002 07:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE REAL POWER OF SUPERHEROS: Virginia Postrel has an excellent entry from June 25th on Gerard Jones' Killing Monsters. She quotes Jones from his Mother Jones piece, "Violent Media is Good for Kids":
Across generations, genders, and ethnicities I kept seeing the same story: people pulling themselves out of emotional traps by immersing themselves in violent stories. People integrating the scariest, most fervently denied fragments of their psyches into fuller senses of selfhood through fantasies of superhuman combat and destruction.
Postrel concludes:
I highly recommend Killing Monsters, both for its psychological and literary insights and for Jones's many disturbing stories of how powerful adults punish children's imaginative play.
It's amazing the lengths adults will go to to do this, I note.

This quote's for you, Meryl:

At 13 I was alone and afraid. Taught by my well-meaning, progressive, English-teacher parents that violence was wrong, that rage was something to be overcome and cooperation was always better than conflict, I suffocated my deepest fears and desires under a nice-boy persona. Placed in a small, experimental school that was wrong for me, afraid to join my peers in their bumptious rush into adolescent boyhood, I withdrew into passivity and loneliness. My parents, not trusting the violent world of the late 1960s, built a wall between me and the crudest elements of American pop culture.

Then the Incredible Hulk smashed through it.

That's again from Jones' Jones piece. Sometimes you just have a jones for a Jones Jones piece, and whaddya gonna do?

6/29/2002 05:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMAZE YOUR FRIENDS!: Like folding money?
Yes, the Mint was in on The Conspiracy years ago!

6/29/2002 05:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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You scored 9 out of a possible 10 Total Recall. Frankly this is a little freakish. PKD's world is so fiendishly complicated that surely only the man himself knows his way around it as well as this. Either that or you're part of Richard Nixon's evil matrix and have somehow managed to download Dick's psyche via the bug in his cat litter tray. Spooky.
I thought it was pretty simple, actually. An awful lot of people know more about Dick than I do.

6/29/2002 04:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I HATE WHEN THAT HAPPENS: Falling cow lands on car, injures driver.

6/29/2002 03:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LONDON - British theater company says it doesn't want to offend hunchbacks so it's changing the title of its adaptation of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

The producer says she'll call the play "The Bellringer of Notre Dame," because she doesn't want to "reinforce any stereotypes" about Quasimodo's disability.

Next: merchants protest "The Merchant of Venice."

6/29/2002 02:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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In an exclusive interview, Spielberg explains he has tried numerous times to persuade director George Lucas to let him in on the fun.

"I've asked him!" Spielberg says. "He won't let me do one."

The discussion between Spielberg and Lucas on this issue goes way back.

"I wanted to do one 15 years ago," Spielberg says, "and he didn't want me to do it. I understand why - 'Star Wars' is George's baby. George is my best friend and I believe I am his, but we are all competitive."

Spielberg says he doesn't blame Lucas.

"It's his cottage industry and it's his fingerprints. He knows I've got 'Jurassic Park' and 'Raiders of the Lost Ark.' But George has 'Star Wars' and I don't think he feels inclined to share any of it with me."

I'd much rather see Martin Scorsese's Star Wars, anyway.

6/29/2002 02:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | |
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Now you can dress Elvis and make him talk - on a new Web site launched by Graceland.

To prepare for the release of the "Elvis 30 Number One Hits" collection in September, Graceland has launched a new site at

On the site, users can dress up a virtual Elvis in a number of outfits, including a Hawaiian shirt and an Army uniform, and embellish it with Elvis sunglasses, a lei, a guitar and other accessories.

Then choose a phrase and Elvis will talk from archival interview tapes. The site also has pages for each No. 1 hit that carry details about each song.

It even allows visitors to view pages according to date, era or how Elvis influenced the project.

Still to come: viewing pages according to what drugs Elvis was on.

According to the site, in 1971 Elvis's profession became "style setter."

6/29/2002 02:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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New device would fill your tooth cavity with a phone.
You would text by grinding your teeth, of course.

6/29/2002 01:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, June 28, 2002
WHO WOULD WANT AN ANTI-SLEEP AGENT? Imagine. Me: sleep nice.

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CRAP: I loved the Who. It's not as bad as Pete Townsend dying, but, still: crap

6/28/2002 12:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, June 27, 2002
I'D NOT NOTICED before, but now I have.

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OBBUFFY: Lengthy account of the panel at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences on "Behind the Scenes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with Joss Whedon, Marti Noxon, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon , James Marsters. Michelle Trachtenberg, the Buffy Director of Photography, and the Buffy Production Designer. Many spoilers for Season Six, a few for Season 7.
Joss joked 'Yeah, next season we're going to advertise it as: Watch Buffy this season! Not every character wants to die!'


One of the biggest laughs was when he was asked if we'd see the Doublemeat Palace again. The response was 'not likely'. Apparently, Joss said, while this season was the most graphic and dark ever with lots of sex scenes, the only episode to actually lose advertisers was Doublemeat Palace... because they were making fun of fast food! It was not so gently suggested that he not do that again!


Joss said that the geek trio were the ones closest to the writers' true voices and that the conversations the trio had were pretty much exactly the conversations the writers were having during the story breaks and then would stop to say 'oh, we should get back to the story, now'.

Five claudes.

6/27/2002 06:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YIKES: I've skipped on posting all the other baby-bomber pictures, because pretty much every political blog posted them; ditto the interview-with-the-Saudi-3-year-old-who-hates-Jews. But this one makes me wonder when the Palestinians will hit on the idea of baby-bomber trading cards:
How adorable to raise your child this way.

6/27/2002 05:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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...your best online source for everything EVIL. If you are a supervillain, mad scientist, warlord, dictator, or despot, then this is the place for you.
Indispensable. (Via Amy Langfield.)

6/27/2002 04:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Most days, things are back to normal, but you never know when it's going to hit you again. Today it did. Unexpectedly.

This afternoon I went for a drink with a friend, who had to cover Sept. 11 close to ground zero, who is about to be transferred to another city. On our third margarita, she started to cry. And I started to cry. We're both pretty tough chicks. But the tears were this leftover fear, sadness, regret and whatever more from the people we knew who died in September and how our lives have changed and how our city has changed since then.

Go read the rest.

6/27/2002 04:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, June 26, 2002
Bush Says Palestinians Will Lose Aid if They Keep Arafat.
And I do mean "bloody." It's minimal, but at least and at last Bush has taken a small action.
President Bush told his key allies today that the United States would cut off aid to the Palestinians if they failed to embrace the kind of changes he demanded on Monday.

He also stepped up his pressure for the removal of Yasir Arafat by warning that "we won't be putting money into a society" dominated by corrupt leadership that helps to finance terrorists.

It would be truly impressive if the Europeans would do the same, but, then, hell isn't ready to freeze over yet.

6/26/2002 06:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, June 25, 2002
The Precrime unit is a storytelling conceit, a wild idea, that Dick and Spielberg make temporarily believable. It's not really plausible, but you don't care. We do believe the highly-interactive computer system, and those robot spiders, and all the other surface nuances of this future world, borrowed not only from Dick but many other science fiction writers, Gibson and Sterling not least among them.
I've not seen it yet, but it sounds right. I suppose I could do a disclaimer about past brief encounters with Dick, Shirley, and being friends with Bill Gibson years before he sold a word, and environs, but I'm passing.

6/25/2002 07:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THOSE WACKY COLLEGE KIDS: It's a Screed. Say no more, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

6/25/2002 09:38:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SOFTWARE-DEFINED RADIOS is what the Army is planning on using, so everyone can actually communicate with each other. This could be very useful, particularly if you happen to be on the ground being attacked by a "friendly" Apache helicopter.

6/25/2002 08:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUBTEXT BECOMES TEXT: Andy Sawyer, well-known British SF critic and administrator of the SF Foundation, writes on why Buffy, The Vampire Slayer is as popular with academic fans as non, and how much there is to find in Buffy.
It’s so referential in fact, that you suspect virtually any utterance.
Andy Sawyer is spot on in this piece. (Disclosure: I know a couple of the writers in the two books of essays he discusses.) (Via John Robinson's Sore Eyes.)

6/25/2002 08:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STRANGE THINGS SEEN WHILE CHANNEL FLIPPING: REM on Sesame Street doing "Funny Happy Monsters," a variant on "Shiny Happy People." Wish I had caught it from the beginning, and made a tape.

6/25/2002 08:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WANNA BUY SOME potassium iodide?

6/25/2002 08:05:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BUFFY GOSSIP on Season 7, from the actors, with extremely mild and vague spoilers here.

6/25/2002 07:33:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BLOGATHON: Must read thoroughly on this, contemplate whether I wish to participate, and if so, which charity I'd choose. Having to pick only one makes for a difficult choice. Would anyone be interested in being a sponsor? That would be the point.

6/25/2002 06:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WORTH NOTING: The WashPo accurately reports:
GOP Makes Gains With Jewish Voters
Democrats Worry Party Critics of Israel Are Costing Support


The issue of Democratic conflicts over Israel policy took center stage last month, when the House voted 352 to 21, with 29 members voting "present," for a pro-Israel resolution sponsored by Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.). Many of those voting "present" were expressing their unwillingness to support a resolution that strongly endorsed Israel while condemning "the ongoing support and coordination of terror by Yasser Arafat and other members of the Palestinian leadership."

Of the 50 "no" and "present" votes, 44 were cast by Democrats and six by Republicans. More significantly, five of the most senior Democrats voted against the resolution, including Democratic whip David E. Bonior (Mich.), and four members in line to become committee chairmen if Democrats win back the House: David R. Obey (Wis.), John D. Dingell (Mich.), George Miller (Calif.) and John Conyers Jr. (Mich.).


The vote also forced to the surface long-standing tensions between the Jewish and black communities. Of the 37 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, a total of 17 either voted no on DeLay-Lantos (4), voted present (8) or did not vote at all (5).

Two black Democratic House members, Earl F. Hilliard (Ala.) and Cynthia McKinney (Ga.), have become lightning rods in the Jewish community, and their primary challengers are raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from Jewish supporters determined to defeat the two incumbents because of statements they have made.

Not to mention her father's notorious remarks. This piece from 1996 fairly covers, however, anti-semitism on both sides of the aisle. There's enough to go round. Bonior, on the other hand, is significant, particularly because he's so consistently wobbly on Israel.

6/25/2002 06:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW LONG?: I wish someone could explain to me why this is so:
The director said the FBI's new Trilogy computer system will take several years to install, despite his frustrated efforts to speed things up. Mueller said his insistence last year that new hardware and software be in place within 18 months was unrealistic, and that the project will not be complete until December 2003.

He has hired computer experts from Lucent Technologies and elsewhere to upgrade the FBI's relatively primitive computer systems, to make them capable of accessing huge amounts of information, user-friendly and secure.

It takes two years or more to buy secure computers and software and install them? I realize that "secure" is a relative term, and expect that the key bottleneck is linking them via a network that is relatively "secure," and presumably not via the Internet. Still.

6/25/2002 06:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THROW THE BUMS OUT: Andrew Olmstead, generally sensible fellow, also a libertarian and military man -- certainly not a left-winger -- editorializes on the Administration's vacillations on the war on terror, and general failings:
Several months ago, it appeared the Bush Administration had a solid plan for dealing with terrorism. Wipe out al Qaeda infrastructure around the globe and work for regime changes in terrorist states. Today, it seems they don't know what they're going to do. The Middle East problem has caught their attention and seems to be fully able to delay any further action against terrorism indefinitely. Plans to attack Iraq are on hold or nonexistent, al Qaeda remnants have been allowed to slip out of Afghanistan and are undoubtedly trying to rebuild elsewhere, and the President is urging Americans to get fit.


...we need to send a message to our elected leadership by tossing them out on their collective ear. Only if we can convince the government that we consider fighting terrorism their first priority can we hope to see real action against the terrorists. Otherwise, it's business as usual in Washington, and terrorism is just one more issue to be politicized for each side's advantage. So I'm endorsing Enrak's call; let's throw the bums out and try again.

Works for me.

6/25/2002 04:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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This result will surprise some, and not at all others. I can't say this description truly describes my beliefs very well, though:
Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality. Your Personal Self-Government Score is 100%. Your Economic Self-Government Score is 40%.
I'd say that at best this grossly exaggerates my desire for "central decision-making on economics." I surely favor more such than any self-declared libertarian, but I also favor keeping government regulation of and involvement in economic affairs to what I'd consider a minimum, if not what a strict libertarian would.

And I wouldn't agree that I favor "economic equality," but simply a strong safety net for the poor and help for them to cease being poor. (I've favored the negative income tax since I first read about it in Analog as a child.) I have no problem with the rich getting richer, and though I favor a progressive, not a flat, income tax, I wouldn't ever want to see a highest rate of more than 50%, absolute max.

My answers, incidentally, were, of the ten questions asked, "yes" to seven of them, which is the libertarian answer. I'm rated as "left-liberal" for disagreeing that:

Minimum wage laws cause unemployment. Repeal them.
End taxes. Pay for services with user fees.
All foreign aid should be privately funded
I cheerfully admit that my disagreement on minimum wage is "left-liberal," and non-libertarian. But color me wacky for thinking that "End taxes" is just a wee excessive, simplistic, and radical as a practical policy. As for foreign aid, I consider that a considerably more complex question that can usefully be reduced to an issue of libertarianism vs. liberalism considerations, but certainly there are libertarians who would disagree with me.

So all-in-all, this test has some limited application, but "limited" is the operative word.

6/25/2002 04:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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6/25/2002 03:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'M GONNA GET ME SOME OF THAT: The Duma is about to pass a law to legitimize buying and selling farmland in Russia. Ah, that's what I want: the rich life of the earth, growing potatoes on the steppe in Russia! But what's this?
An amendment would prevent foreigners from purchasing land, but would allow them to lease it. [...] The left wing fears that foreigners with far greater spending power than Russia's farmers will take advantage of the country's economic plight to grab vast tracts of land.

Sensitive to the political risks, Putin said in April it was probably too soon to allow foreigners to buy farmland.

Oh, damn. My life of luxury: foiled again!

6/25/2002 03:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHEE!: It's the 75th anniversary of the Cyclone rollar coaster in Coney Island!
Mr. Joseph has a favorite spot at the roller coaster. It is on a small bench tucked away on a triangle of grass that faces the coaster's 85-foot first drop. From there, he can see the faces of the riders as they crest the hill and head down, hitting the drop's nadir no more than eight feet away from the bench. "You can see right into what you call the `face of fear,' " Mr. Joseph said, smiling.
The manager of the Cyclone for 28 years has never ridden it.

It's one of the biggest cliches there is that things are never as good as they were when you were a kid, but truly, Coney Island became a faint shadow decades ago of what it was when I was a kid in the Sixties. It was in decline even then, but still, numerous amusement parks and attractions were open then that have long since perished, and the area dedicated to amusements is less than a tenth of what I knew.

I won't even go into all the used paperback bookstores that used to thrive there, that supplied my early years with copious amounts of $.10, $.25, and other paperback available for change. I'd head down on the Coney Island Avenue bus, around the corner from me on East 10th St., and come back with two shopping bags full of paperbacks, having carefully hoarded allowance for weeks to buy my treasures.

Yeah, I'm from Brooklyn: Flatbush and Midwood. Ya wanna make sumpthin' of it?

6/25/2002 02:11:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NYC: #1 IN COUNTERFEIT GOODS!: Yay! All cheer! We're #1! We're #1.
But on this afternoon, the lookouts — whose faces she had memorized, whose names she knew — did not recognize her. And no wonder. On her more than 100 incognito trips to Chinatown, she has posed as a pregnant woman, a homeless person, a French tourist, a bewildered Midwesterner and a sanguine Southern belle. She can assume 10 accents. To deflect suspicion, she has flirted, cajoled, bargained, even improvised one-way arguments on her cellphone.

Today she was playing the part of an out-of-state wholesale buyer.


To conceal their goods, some Chinatown counterfeiters have engaged in a second deception: constructing elaborate networks of secret rooms, fake walls and trapdoors. Some of the entry points have electromagnetic locks, operated by garage door openers. Some of the networks extend down to labyrinths of basements, subbasements, living quarters and factories, all beneath the streets of Chinatown.

"You can go for a couple of blocks underground," said Dempster Leech, a retired private investigator who has wandered into those catacombs in the search for counterfeits. "I got lost down there a couple of times."


Another time, while combing a series of connected rooms underneath Mott Street, Mr. Holmes lifted a fake panel and stepped into an underground casino. "There were little tables, people gambling, drinking and smoking," he said. "Everything went quiet. A few guys reached under their jackets. And I just put my hands up and said, `I'm just looking for counterfeit goods,' and stepped back through the panel."

Neat, long, story on the private detectives who work with various feds and local agencies on cracking the counterfeit goods trade. A lot of actors are used, which surely must be a different sort of gig. "Break a leg" has a whole different meaning.

6/25/2002 01:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CLEAN-UP AT THE WTC, though declared over nearly a month ago, when the last steel beam was taken out, didn't really end until today, when the search for human remains concluded.
Days passed, then months. On the second floor of 10-10, a tiny city firehouse within spitting distance of the World Trade Center site, the passage of time, and the sad success of their brutal labor, was tracked with a yellow fluorescent marker.

Each time a firefighter, city or Port Authority police officer or uniformed Port Authority worker was identified amid the ruins, the chiefs would highlight the name underneath the row after row of headshots of the deceased that had been posted on the firehouse wall.

Yesterday morning, Battalion Chief Ronald W. Werner edged his finger under the collections of photographs — the fluorescent yellow still only covering about two-thirds of the names — and carefully pulled off the tape that had kept them in place for more than 250 days.


When 5:30 came, it was time for the final joint meeting. The construction crews still had more work to do in the coming weeks, shoring up underground walls. Over at Fresh Kills they will spend several more weeks sifting through final debris. And the medical examiner still has months of work to try to identify more of the 2,823 victims, 42 percent of whom have now been identified.

But this was the last time the Fire Department recovery crews would be there at ground zero. The search for human remains was over.

"We made it," Mr. Vitchers of Bovis announced to the 32 people gathered. "It is the last load."

It was then, as they went one at a time around the room to thank one another, that the broad-shouldered men, some in fire helmets others in hard hats, started sobbing.

Who wouldn't?

I attempt to imagine all that was involved in scouring the neighborhood for the tiniest slivers of possible flesh of 2,823 people, mixed admidst concrete dust, metal, fiberglass, and all the endless other materials, and my mind rejects the attempt.

And the thought that clings is: it might yet be so much worse.

6/25/2002 01:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, June 24, 2002
THE VIRTUES OF THIRD WORLD SWEATSHOPS are pointed out by Nicholas Kristof.

I look forward to the day when global wealth, democratization, and the luxuries of the West are available to all the world. Unfortunately, we've got at least a decade or three before such benefits will truly penetrate the poorest sections of the globe.

And until such penetrations are under way, seeking to deprive the poor of what to us are low wages and terrible conditions, in favor or no or worse wages and even worse conditions, which is typically the available alternative, not First World union wages and OSHA-level standards, hurts the world's poor terribly. That, too, is part of globalization discussion. This is scarcely a new point, but it bears repeating, and Kristof puts it well.

6/24/2002 10:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE NIETZSCHEAN AND MACHIAVELLIAN VALUES of Harry Potter are explained in new Cliff's Notes -- SparkNotes, actually -- as described in this piece about the new such notes for contemporary fiction so you can fake your way through book clubs and conversation.

Y'know, I'd say that I don't see these as working very well for any remotely interesting or, indeed, intelligible, conversation, but I suppose oddities could always simply be put down to the user's odd opinions, or perhaps general dimness. It's not as if CliffNotes are necessary to generate such responses from some folks. But, gosh, how efficient use of such notes are!

I do speculate further, though, about how a person, using only such notes to attempt to understand and appreciate the experience of a book, might, if they are a sufficiently interesting person, generate an imaginary version of a book in their head that in some cases might be more enjoyable or worthwhile than the original.

English grad students wishing to expand on this for use in theses on semiotic theory and how the reader brings as much to the text as vice versa have my permission, but I'd like to see a copy, please.

6/24/2002 08:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CONSPIRACY THEORY, CARMEN MIRANDA STYLE: this is an interesting regional take. It's not really about Brazil, of course: we all know that the US is the fount of all evil in the world, so it's merely Brazil's variation on US conspiracies against the region.
PUT reason aside, for a moment, and imagine this: American students are taught that the Amazon should be taken away from Brazil and made into an "international reserve" under United Nations administration. United States Army special forces are training in Florida to seize control of that zone once it is established. And, to accelerate the process, Harvard University advocates the immediate dismemberment of Brazil.

All of this, of course, is pure imagination. The Brazilian imagination.


Such mythmaking helps explain the widespread acceptance given to the notorious map. It appears to have originated on a Web site operated by a right-wing nationalist military group, but Brazil's left has also shown a penchant for Amazonian fantasy.

At the moment, one favorite theory has to do with "Plan Colombia," the American effort to bolster Colombia's fight against drug traffickers and Marxist guerrillas. Leftist groups here say the real objective is to give the United States a foothold that would allow it to seize the Brazilian Amazon and thus command the southern flank of Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chávez.

Then there is Sivam, a $1.5 billion Amazon radar system being installed by an American company. Though the project will enhance Brazil's sovereignty over the region by allowing it to track and intercept planes smuggling drugs, arms and gold, many here are certain that its actual purpose is to allow the United States to gather information by satellite about oil and mineral resources it wants to exploit.

And so on and so forth. Round up the usual suspects.

6/24/2002 08:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 22, 2002
CONSPIRACY CRAP: It amazes me that anyone would buy this shit, but useful idiots abound. They pass it on in e-mail, they post it on websites. "It might be true!" they say, and disclaim responsibility.

6/22/2002 10:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, June 20, 2002
PRETTY is what the search engine Kartoo is. It gives a graphic representation of search results, and the relationship of the hits to the search object. I've not yet decided how useful or not this is, but it's different and attractive looking.

6/20/2002 06:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, June 19, 2002
HERE'S ZAMMAR: Here's how it turns out:
A key figure in the Sept. 11 plot who fled Hamburg, Germany, last October has been held in secret detention in Syria after being first arrested in Morocco and expelled to Damascus with U.S. knowledge, according to German and Arab intelligence sources.

The debriefing of Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a German citizen of Syrian origin who has told his interrogators that he recruited key hijacker Mohammed Atta, is an extraordinary example of the way Sept. 11 has redefined U.S. engagement with regimes it once vilified.

No shit.

We're acquiesing, or encouraging, or possibly causing, the disappearing of people so they can be turned over to regimes like Syria, so they can use their famous persuasive techniques, and presumably turn results over to US agencies. And Syria and like-minded regimes aren't doing this out of the famous goodness of their hearts: what have they bought for their colloboration?

And Syrian officials have begun to complain that the United States is not acknowledging its assistance in the war against terrorism. According to Arab intelligence sources, the Syrian debriefing of Zammar, 41, is providing the United States with critical information on the genesis of the plot to attack New York and Washington as well al Qaeda's structure and possible plans.
What have they bought? When will we find out?

Will it have been worth the price?

This is truly dark territory, and I fear it.

And the beauty of this example, is that this is the result of the fierce protection of civil rights against intelligence snooping in Germany, which, for understandable historical reasons, has the strongest laws against domestic surveillance in Europe.

There is, however, no public warrant for Zammar's arrest and he left Germany freely on Oct. 27. While German officials suspected him of involvement, they said they had no evidence to charge and arrest him.
And that's why the US made a deal with the devil, Syria, because the purer Germans respected their own laws.

This is truly dark territory, and I fear it.

6/19/2002 12:36:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, June 18, 2002
For much of the 1990's, some former agents say, the Arizona division, preoccupied with fighting drugs, treated international terrorism as a low priority, even though Tucson had been one of the nation's earliest hubs for radical Muslim groups.

"This has always been the lowest priority in the division; it still is the lowest priority in the division," said James Hauswirth, who retired from the Phoenix office in 1999 but stays in contact with other agents.


Mr. Gonzalez agrees that the top priority in the office before Sept. 11 was fighting drugs, because of Arizona's standing as a busy transshipment point for narcotics from Mexico.


Resources to fight terrorism were limited, however. The Arizona division grew enormously during the 1990's, partly because of antidrug programs like the Southwest Border Initiative. Of the division's current total of 230 agents, Mr. Gonzalez said, roughly 60 are dedicated to drug work, while about 16 handle international and domestic terrorism, a task that includes monitoring domestic militias; one former agent says the number of agents dedicated to guarding against international terrorism is about eight. In last year's annual ranking of office priorities, Mr. Gonzalez said, drugs ranked first, international terrorism fourth.

Some would say "they couldn't have known before September 11th how important anti-terrorism should have been," but there's a pretty good case against that position. Even more, though, there's a case that September 11th could be considered a result of the War on Some Drugs.

Using Phoenix as an example in microcosm, if prohibition of recreational drugs had been done away with, or if at least had there had been decriminalization, instead of 60 agents, maybe 6 would have been necessary (how many agents does ATF devote to illegal alcohol:?), leaving 54 for other tasks. And, of course, if therre were legalization and taxation, the amount of tax money raised could have paid for well more than another 60 local anti-terrorism agents.

The details in this story are more than suggestive. I should also note that the story of how the Phoenix office of the FBI came so close to hitting on the September 11th plot, but by being held back, missed it, is damned important, and fascinating.

6/18/2002 11:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE BIGGEST CRITICS: Interesting piece and interviews with the two chief Senatorial critics of the FBI and CIA: Republican Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Richard Shelby of Alabama. Grassley will tell you why the FBI needs watchdogging, and Shelby tells everyone that George Tenet, DCI, should be fired. They both think Congress has been far too deferential to both agencies.

6/18/2002 09:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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QUANTUM TELEPORTATION OF LIGHT allegedly took place, and I'll declare that I'm not sure there's a lot of point to blogging a couple of hundred words of Yahoo News on this, it's so abbreviated, and, to be sure, nor do I have the technical expertise to fairly evaluate it. But, I'm presenting, you can follow up.
Lam said he believes the process, called "quantum teleportation" and which takes a nanosecond — one billionth of one second — will soon be used for teleporting matter.

"My prediction is if we are not doing it, it will probably be done by someone in the next three to five years, that is the teleportation of a single atom or a small group of atoms," he said.

I'll certainly be interested in more on this.

6/18/2002 07:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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For the first time in more than 70 years, Americans may regulate business again.
Uh, right. This is about as accurate as saying "Americans find moon made of green cheese; eat it!" It's a wonder people in Britain know anything about America given how awful, and factually wrong, so much of the reporting is. In a vastly lesser offense, but still simply making it up, another bit of the same sub-head:
Americans have spent the past two centuries legislating to ensure that their politicians can never wield too much power. The Enron scandal has made them realise they have been reining back the wrong people. All the time, the real power and money was being seized by business people, and specifically by executive directors of publicly listed corporations.
Which is basically a combination of a dash of fact, a load of wishful thinking, and a completely subjective opinion. But I'm still marveling at the idea that the EPA doesn't exist, ditto OSHA, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, and about a jillion more business regulations regularly passed every year. And they actually get away with printing this insanity.

6/18/2002 03:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CORRUPT JOURNALISM is what the New Stateman says Britain has.

Print journalism is now the most corrupt realm of public life in Britain.


The industry that demands the scalps of lying ministers lies to its own readers by making up stories and quotes - not just in the tabloids and the diary sections, but in the news sections of the broadsheets, too. Standards in journalism are so low that what would be a disciplinary offence anywhere else is seen as a normal perk of the job. Anything that journalists complain about others doing, they almost certainly routinely do themselves. But because we are all in on it and benefit from it, we keep quiet about it with a sneaky smugness.

Leading speakers for each of the major newspapers held a press conference subsequent to the appearance of this article, and, hanging their heads in shame, in turn stepped forward to declare "yes, we, too, are guilty," and explained that they were shutting down their publication at the end of June, hoping new, more honest publications, would soon take their place.

Honest. You read it here: it must be true.

6/18/2002 03:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE ANTI-IMPERIALISM OF FOOLS: quite excellent New Statesman piece by Mick Hume, very much worth reading in entirety. A few tastes:
Western leftists find themselves in strange company when it comes to the Middle East. Are they really happy to line up with neo-Nazis and Islamic fundamentalists?

Once upon a time, a hundred years or so ago, it was fashionable to attack something called "Jewish capitalism". August Bebel, a German friend of Karl Marx, described this attempt to give anti-Semitism a progressive spin as "the socialism of fools".

Today's fashion for Israel-bashing seems to me to represent a similar foolishness. It is not old-fashioned anti-Semitism. But there is a growing tendency to endorse dubious ideas under the guise of solidarity with the Palestinians. It is the anti-imperialism of fools.

Particularly since 11 September, a strange-looking global alliance has formed against Israel, incorporating Islamic fundamentalists, European neo-Nazis and anti-globalists. Many, in all three groups, had previously shown little interest in the plight of the Palestinians: the Israeli state has become a sort of ersatz America, a symbol of all that they hate about contemporary capitalism

For Israeli, read western; and for the west, read modernity. What the anti-globalists share above all with their newfound fellow-travellers among the Islamic fundamentalists is a loss of faith in the modern age and in Enlightenment ideas. The spirit of their protests was captured by a banner at a recent rally in Berlin: "Civilisation is genocide".


Yet these newfound friends of Palestine do not seem to know much about the history of this conflict. Their websites and leaflets sloganise about "NaZionists", and how this is a war between "racism and justice" (a politically correct way of saying "good v evil"). But there is little analysis of the causes.

Some of the clumsy attempts to incorporate the Middle East into the concerns of the anti-globalisation movement border on the bizarre. Jose Bove, the French farmer and green activist, sprang to global fame when he attacked a McDonald's burger bar with a tractor, and wrecked GM crops. Last year, he turned up in a peace delegation on the West Bank. This year, he was back again, visiting Yasser Arafat's besieged compound at Ramallah. Why? Bove told the New Left Review that the Israelis are "putting in place - with the support of the World Bank - a series of neoliberal measures intended to integrate the Middle East into globalised production circuits, through the exploitation of cheap Palestinian labour". This is the kind of conspiratorial anti- capitalist-speak that we might call globaldegook.


But the anti-globalisation movement is "diving into the Middle East conflict" blindly, in pursuit of a vague and simplistic moral agenda of its own. The delegations of self-styled "internationals" who travel to the Middle East to show sympathy for the Palestinians are lauded as "the real heroes of today" on solidarity websites. Yet few of them would lie down in front of tanks if Israel really were the Nazi state they claim. The internationals seem less keen to travel to other conflicts, away from the eyes of the world media, where they might risk meeting the fate of the international solidarity activists killed during the Pinochet coup in Chile.

For many activists, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to have become a convenient outlet for the morbid emotionalism and victim-centred culture of our age. A solidarity meeting in London begins with people being searched and asked for "passes" (tickets), so that they can "experience" what life is like under Israeli occupation. Writing in the NS, one "international" announced that, having seen a warning shot fired and been woken up by the noisy Israeli air force, "I'm beginning to understand what it must be like to be a Palestinian." I am beginning to think that this might be the point of the exercise for some of these people.

There's a lot more good stuff. Here's something that, while certainly not original, stands out for me:
Western society is infected by a powerful sense of self-loathing and a rejection of its political, social and economic achievements.

This is distinguishable from entirely necessary and desirable critiques of genuine flaws, errors, and crimes that take place in the West. Beyond that -- and let's not gloss over the necessity for self-examination of Western societies and openness to systematic critiques and efforts towards improvement -- is this sense so many people have of something missing in their lives, which they transmute into a loathing of Western civilization in general, beyond all reason. It's an intriguing phenomenon that bears continued examination itself.

6/18/2002 02:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, June 17, 2002
UP OR STAY: I'm just a civilian who reads about the military, but this is consistent with virtually every other criticism I've read of the military personnel system all my life.
But all these years later, Vandergriff argues, Marshall's system has produced a top-heavy Army with 50 percent more generals than necessary and officers obsessed with promotions that are based on pristine personnel files, not character, leadership or war-fighting capabilities.


Vandergriff isn't opposed to new technology on the battlefield. But greater reliance by U.S. commanders on better trained ground units, he said, could have made the siege of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan a lethal encirclement instead of an air operation that "pushed" hundreds of al Qaeda fighters "out the back door" and into Pakistan.

In place of the current personnel system, Vandergriff proposes policies that would emphasize unit cohesion, not individual experience. Such policies, he said, would enable entire 2,500-soldier brigades to remain together for as long as three years in order to hone their skills, be they combat or support units.

Instead of "up or out," Vandergriff proposes an "up or stay" system that would allow many officers the opportunity to concentrate on skills that make them good at what they're there for.

Sounds better than running around getting your ticket punched while doing your best not to make waves, and of course, watching out for octopi with fascist jackboots, while mixing metaphors furiously. No, warriors should train to fight, instead of that.

6/17/2002 11:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CATS AND HOW TO BE NOT LABELED "CONSERVATIVE": Aside from the other bits in this "Ideas Industry" column, there are two interesting elements to this one:
For the past month, Heritage Foundation computer expert Dexter Ingram has been using a Department of Defense doomsday computer program to launch nuclear strikes against Pakistan, blow up Washington, lay waste to Norfolk, drop anthrax-inducing bombs near Detroit and El Paso and otherwise wreak theoretical havoc on cities and countries around the world.

What's more, he's waging these faux cyberwars at the urgent request of some of the biggest news organizations in the country. On a single day recently, CNN, ABC News, FOX and Time magazine were on the phone demanding that Ingram use his computer to decimate something, somewhere.

Ingram's war machine is the Consequences Assessment Tool Set (CATS). This sophisticated program was developed for the Department of Defense to model what would happen if, say, India launched a nuclear strike on Pakistan -- which was precisely the scenario that ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Ingram to consider a few weeks ago.

What makes CATS unique is that it uses real-time data to make predictions. Ingram will enter the size of a nuclear device, the altitude at which the bomb detonates and the precise coordinates of ground zero. The computer then searches 150 Internet sites to collect other key data, such as the population in surrounding areas and important geographic features, as well as current wind and weather conditions. It then uses these data to produce an estimate of the damage that such a bomb would do right now.

Sometimes the results are surprising. When he ran the Stephanopoulos scenario through CATS, Ingram found that a nuclear strike by India likely would backfire -- literally. "Because of the prevailing easterly winds, all of the fallout is going to go to India. Nobody had looked at the weather," he said.

Heritage is the only think tank to acquire a copy of the closely held program, which also has been obtained by several law enforcement agencies, including the New York police counterterrorism squad.

"Anybody can request it, but you have to demonstrate a need for it," said Ingram, a former Navy aviator. "I told them I was working on homeland defense, working with people on the Hill, and they thought that was a positive thing."

Already CATS has been a positive thing for Heritage. The right-thinking think tank is working hard to win friends in the media, which Heritage thinks have tended to view it with suspicion if not outright hostility.

"When Stephanopoulos credited us on the air, he called us the 'Heritage Foundation' -- the first time ABC has called us anything other than the 'conservative Heritage Foundation,' " said tank spokesman James Weidman.

I barely need point out that CATS itself is quite interesting, just as I barely need point out how interesting it is that, regardless of whether you feel it is or is not appropriate for ABC to be labeling Heritage as "conservative," and in what context of labeling other organizations as "liberal," or whatever, that for ABC, or Stephanopoulus, or his producer, or whomever, to, according to "tank spokesman" (and there's an unusual phrasing) Weidman, change labeling policy based on favors done, is, um, notable.

6/17/2002 10:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UP, UP, AND AWAY, in Joe Lieberman's balloon.

6/17/2002 09:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KNOCK, KNOCK: However, SCOTUS got this right:
The Constitution protects the right of missionaries, politicians and others to knock on doors without first getting permission from local authorities, the Supreme Court ruled today.


In the doorstep-solicitation case, by a vote of 8 to 1, the court reasoned that the First Amendment right to free speech includes the entitlement to take a message directly to someone's door, and that the right cannot be limited by a requirement to register by name ahead of time.

"The mere fact that the ordinance covers so much speech raises constitutional concerns," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for himself and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer.

"It is offensive, not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society, that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so."

Two of the court's most conservative justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, agreed with the outcome of the case but did not sign on to Stevens' reasoning.

Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist dissented.

Yes, of course Chief Justice Palpatine did.

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. v. Village of Stratton.

6/17/2002 06:12:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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It's from August 9th, 1974, Nixon Resignation Day.

6/17/2002 05:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHY I READ SUPREME COURT DECISIONS AND YOU SHOULD, TOO: Rights, shmights, you may have them, but police don't have to tell you, no matter Miranda.
The Supreme Court ruled today that police officers seeking to search and question passengers on public buses do not have to tell them they have the right to refuse to cooperate, a decision that gives law enforcement more latitude in combating security threats in the U.S. ground transportation system.
I'm not going to quote you the rest, or the decision. That's your job. That's what the Supreme Court said in U.S. v. Drayton, No. 01-631, except for those commieterroristsymps, Justice David H. Souter, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I feel safer already, given the vast number of buses being hijacked and blown up. After all, I saw Speed.

6/17/2002 05:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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STRIVE TO BE: Will Willkinson of The Fly Bottle says it well:
Killing the Intellectuals -- If you're a new tyrant, what's up near the top of your to-do list? Kill the wordsmiths! Kill the artists! Kill the musicians! Or at least, shut them up or ship them out. Why is that? Because political reality is a kind of social reality. Tyrants have guns, and guns can get you far. But the main place it gets you is a valley of acquiescence. The guns themselves cannot secure power. Only deference can secure power. And guns help with that, but don't suffice. You need to establish a set of shared representations -- shared intentions, to regard you, Mr. Tyrant, as the uncontested ruler of all you survey. You need the folk to go along. The problem with intellectuals and artists is that they trade in representations. They excel in spreading them around. And wouldn't you know it, but they're always the wrong representations, like "Mr. Tyrant is a sociopathic moneygrubbing brute of a homocidal megalomaniac and has no real authority over us, a rightfully free people who should be able to live like we want to. (And he's got a tiny cock.)" Not only do these incredibly inconvenient thoughts get around, but the eyeglasses set encode these nasty thoughts in clever little stories filled with emotion, or, heaven forbid, set them to music, which certainly gets the folks mighty riled. No good. Kill 'em all.

Here's an idea: strive to be the kind of person who, if landed in a certain kind of bad place, would be disappeared in days.

Will also has an excellent bit on Christopher Hitchens just below this.

6/17/2002 05:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ONE OR MORE OF THREE RESPONSES: Speaking of Brad deLong, he has a spiffy account of his encounters with Chomsky admirers, and his "very, very allergic reaction" to Chomsky.

Brad wonders what the appeal of Chomsky is. I think it's simple. Chomsky is an undeniably brilliant man, certainly in his field (regardless of where he's right or wrong; that's a separate issue from brilliance). Since he supplies some of the chief intellectual underpinning for contemporary US-is-evil theory, if you cite him, you must understand the True Depth of his analysis, and thus You, Too, Are Brilliant. And those who don't see how mutually brilliant Chomsky and You are, are Clearly Fools, not to mention dupes of the establishment that Manufactures Consent.

Us: appreciate and understand Chomsky -- Brilliant.
You: don't understand him -- Dupe and Fool.

Which would you rather be? It's not as if one could not accept in toto the theory that the US is overwhelmingly evil, after all. (The fact that an extremely attenuated version of this -- namely, that the US certainly has, of course, done some evil things, and that corporations at times do evil things, etc. -- has considerable truth to it, and that attention need be paid to that, and that some on the other side gloss that, gives plenty of supporting evidence for those looking for it, of course, and that does the rest of the job.)

What I object to is that Chomsky is an intellectual totalitarian. What I object to is that Chomsky tears up all the trail markers that might lead to conclusions different from his, and makes it next to impossible for people unversed in the issues to even understand what the live and much-debated points of contention are. What I object to is that Chomsky writes not to teach, but to to brainwash: to create badly-informed believers in his point of view who won't know enough about the history or the background to think the issues through for themselves.

What I object to is the lack of background, to the lack of context. In telling the history of the Cold War as it really happened--even in ten pages--there has to be a place for Stalin, an inquiry into the character of the regimes that Stalin sponsored, and an assessment of Stalinist plans and programs for expansion. And Chomsky ruthlessly suppresses half the story of the Cold War--the story of the other side of the Iron Curtain. A naive reader of Chomsky would not even know that there was a complicated and much-debated set of issues here.

Precisely right.

6/17/2002 03:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MERCHANTS AND PRINCES: Brad deLong's theory of merchants and princes got a nice write-up in long-time NY Times "Big City" columnist John Tierney's last column.
My favorite explanation of the New York-Washington relationship, not to mention the history of urban civilization, is the economist Brad DeLong's theory of merchants versus princes.

Cities have always been created by merchants, the peaceful deal-makers who flourish under the protection of a relatively hands-off prince. The city becomes cosmopolitan as the merchants import money and talent: entrepreneurs and artisans to create industries; artists and entertainers to serve the new class of patrons.

But the city's growing wealth and glamour eventually attract the age's most ambitious princes. Once these conquerors add the city to their empire, their taxes and decrees drive away the merchants and artists.

It's a nice last column.

6/17/2002 03:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MEATBAG IN SPACELAND: Rudy Rucker has posted his 37,000 words of notes for his new novel, Spaceland.
Spaceland is a retelling of Flatland, from the perspective of four-dimensional beings who discover Earth's poor, benighted three-dimensional inhabitants.
Rudy is, if you're not familiar with him -- and you should be -- mad, I tell you, mad! (Link via Boing Boing.

6/17/2002 03:48:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I PLEDGE ALLEGIENCE TO BIN LADEN: Extremely useful story on how the Saudis arrested in Morocco were captured, their plans to use Zodiac explosive-laden (no bins) boats to suicide bomb American and British warships passing through the Straits of Gibraltar, among other intents, and much interesting detail on their contact with bin Laden in Afghanistan, and how masses of al Queda made their way out via Pakistan with orders to go back, throughout the world, to their geographic areas of expert knowledge, to "attack American and Jewish interests."

Worth reading in entirety; too bad that these and the many other such accounts won't make any difference to those maintaining "we don't even know bin Laden was in Afghanistan, but we bombed the whole country, and killed innocent people!"

6/17/2002 03:17:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Kenneth Pollack, director for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the Middle East policy "seems a little like a cushion: it seems to take the shape of the last person to sit on it."
Also, it's lumpy, and given how many people have sat on it, it smells something awful.

6/17/2002 02:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, June 16, 2002
THE AL QUEDA TACO BELL: Dr. Frank has the skinny on Jose Padilla, the alleged "dirty bomb" plotter and his recruitment at the Islamically run Taco Bell he worked at with his wife:
For some reason, the anecdote about Padilla's Taco Bell name tag still makes me giggle:
In early 1993, after about six months on the job, Padilla told Javed that he had taken the name Ibrahim. Javed, the founder of a Muslim school in Sunrise, knew his employee had taken the shahadah oath, a declaration of faith that marks a conversion to Islam. But Javed refused to change Padilla's name tag because the name change was not yet official, and Padilla accepted the decision without argument.
Yes, they run a tight ship down at the al Qaeda Taco Bell. You can't just start using your terrorist name without the proper authorization. All name tag changes must be cleared in advance by the shift manager. And when the name tag decision is handed down, you don't argue: you salute smartly and charge up the hill.
"Would you like our Fried Beef, Bean, Sour Cream, and Everything, Burrito Special, sir?

"Inshallah. It is written."

"Yes, here is your receipt, sir. It is written."

"Thy mother mated with a scorpion."

6/16/2002 11:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PICTURE THIS: Nick Denton has produced a Blogallery of photos of major bloggers.

Ever wondered what your favorite writer looks like? Okay, maybe you found the relevant picture on the relevant site. If you're really good, you found it on an irrelevant site. If you're obsessed, even just a bit, you went to Google image search. And then you really started seaching. And not long after, the restraining order was issued.

But here they are, en masse, yet separate! Just like in real life!

Nick promises that the next step will be links between those who have slept with one another.

Okay, just kidding about that last. Blame me, not him.

6/16/2002 10:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SELF-DEFENSE: I love this:
Twice since Sept. 11, Mr. Bush has signed findings authorizing more spending for Iraqi opposition groups, with a focus on intelligence-gathering and on the infiltration by American Special Operations forces and C.I.A. operatives.

The latest order authorizes those forces to kill Mr. Hussein if they are acting in self defense....

Picture it: two US Delta Force operators happen to be taking a stroll down a corridor in the Presidential Palace at Karradat Mariam.
Nathan: "Where's that damn bathroom, Salazar?"

Salazar: "I thought sure it was that last room. Just more damn sarin gas. Let's try... around the next corner on the right."

Nathan: "If that's not it, I swear I'm going to piss off a balcony."

They open door.


Nathan & Salazar: "It's SADDAM HUSSEIN!"

Saddam leaps to his feet, and grabs the AGS-30 Automatic Mounted Grenade Launcher System mounted next to his desk, just by the pencil sharpener he so loves to spend afternoons sharpening at.

Nathan: "Quick, Salazar, it's self-defense!"

Salazar: "You're right, Nathan, I see no alternative! We must follow the Presidential National Security Decision Memorandum!"

Both fire carbines at Hussein, putting eight bullets through his head.

Salazar: "At last, a place to pee."

They can kill Saddam Hussein, but only in self-defense. That makes so much sense.
But it does not waive the prohibition on assassinating a foreign leader, officials familiar with Mr. Bush's Iraq planning said.
Heaven's, no! That might be destabilizing.

6/16/2002 09:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NICK DENTON, ARCH-RIGHT-WINGER: Here's Nick's take on the Letter:
How exactly do you refuse?
There I am, working myself up into an enjoyable lather over the Bush administration's prosecution of the campaign against Al-Qaeda, and a bunch of useless fools spoil my mood: the signatories of yesterday's letter of protest against external imperialism and domestic repression. There's Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner, of course, but don't forget Carol Downer of the Chico Feminist Women's Health Centre. The most jawdroppingly paleolithic line: "We refuse to be party to these wars and we repudiate any inference that they are being waged in our name or for our welfare." What a extraordinary way to go through life. Something comes along -- holocaust, terminal cancer, an attack on downtown Manhattan -- and we can just refuse to participate. Pathetic.
The word for it is (my coinage): paleoleftic.

6/16/2002 05:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Gary Farber was hurt that I forgot to include him in the list of Buffybloggers. I think he deliberately put a Xander reference in his Scooby-Doo post to yank my chain.

I'm not sure, but I may have irreparably damaged my relationship with him. Oh, wait--we don't have a relationship. Never mind.

And adds in e-mail: "The ball is in your court, Sir." My response:

Wait, this is sports? That means I'll -- well, whatever the sport is, drop the ball, or miss, or get hit in the head, or something. I thought this was writhing and reeling. I'm better at that.

However, if you wish to be Nancy Drew, Ms. Yourish, and check your referral logs for the time you got a hit from my page to yours -- hint, a few minutes before getting e-mail from me -- and compare it to my posting time, you will see, Inspector, that I could not possibly have read your blog before independently writing my Xander reference!

Okay, hard to prove, but dust for IP references! I swear it on the stack of $.12 Sixties comics I don't have because my father threw them out when I was nine, and I spent all my spare dimes after that on used sf paperbacks.

In any case, my original comment was way earlier.

Besides, we have a relationship: we're interblogging! (Heh, heh. He said "inter." Heh, heh.)

I'd claim I say all this to steer readers to, since it's chock full of percolating great stuff, but she needs more readers like, um, the gout I discovered this week I have , since she has umpty-times my piddling readership. But, what the hey, our readerships are not necessarily all the same people.

She also points to this invaluable essay on how Arafat imposed dictatorship on the territory of the PA, by Daniel Polisar, former head of Peace Watch, the only non-partisan Israeli organization accredited by the Palestinian Authority as an official elections observer during the January 1996 Palestinian elections.

6/16/2002 04:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Why know what you can look up? And why look up what you can extract from the minds of your enemies? There are those who think and those who act. I am the latter. I am a problem solver. I have a gift for reading people. I take pride in my wit and speed, not my strength or power. My power is of the mind. The ball is under the middle dish... Pay up.

What's your superpower?

Can so!

6/16/2002 03:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, June 15, 2002
SCOOBY-DOPE: Roger Ebert gives it one star.
I am not the person to review this movie. I have never seen the "Scooby-Doo" television program, and on the basis of the film I have no desire to start now. I feel no sympathy with any of the characters, I am unable to judge whether the live action movie is a better idea than the all-cartoon TV approach, I am unable to generate the slightest interest in the plot, and I laughed not a single time, although I smiled more than once at the animated Scooby-Doo himself, an island of amusement in a wasteland of fecklessness.


I pray, dear readers, that you not send me mail explaining the genius of "Scooby-Doo" and attacking me for being ill-prepared to write this review. I have already turned myself in. Not only am I ill-prepared to review the movie, but I venture to guess that anyone who is not literally a member of a "Scooby-Doo" fan club would be equally incapable. This movie exists in a closed universe, and the rest of us are aliens. The Internet was invented so that you can find someone else's review of "Scooby-Doo."

Start surfing.

My theory is that the whole thing is one of Xander's nightmares.

6/15/2002 07:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FINE LINES: Jim Bennett discusses his Anglosphereophilia, and how it differs from Anglophilia, but, here:
Anti-Americanism has itself been globalized, with a sort of McChomsky franchise in every city.
Would you like vegan fries with that, made by unionized workers paid a living wage using organic potatoes bought at the co-op (progressive values a must!)? Slow food only, of course! Hey, hey, ho, ho, fast food must go! Buy McChomsky's!

You'll particularly love the colorful red-headed figures of Professor Chomsky in the Children's Revolutionary Non-Competitive Playground Area! He's lovable, yet anti-imperialistic! Peace!

6/15/2002 05:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BERKELEY AND THE EVOLUTION OF THE POLITICS OF PROTEST: Karen Alexander has an interesting piece on why anti-semitism has been so virulent at San Francisco State University and UC Berkely that's worth reading in entirety. But here's a 'graph that leapt out at me:
As UC Berkeley philosophy Professor John Searle--who in the '60s became the first tenured faculty member to back the Free Speech Movement--lamented to The San Francisco Examiner on the movement's thirtieth anniversary, "The saddest thing was that it gave a whole lot of people a model of political life which is totally unrealistic. They wanted to keep sitting in buildings and then finding that policies change."
It's an interesting counterpoint to the report I linked to here. Then there's this:
Of the nearly 27,000 students enrolled at SFSU, there are only 50 to 60 Palestinians, estimates Fadi Shamieh, a student organizer of the General Union of Palestinian Students. UC Berkeley, which boasts a student body of 31,000, has fewer than 1,200 students of Arab descent. But Arab students have found eager allies among the Bay Area's preexisting, off-campus lefty groups. The pro-Palestinian organization at UC Berkeley, for instance, receives assistance from Left Turn (a Socialist group), the Revolutionary Communist Party, and the International Socialists Organization (ISO). The pro-Palestinian camp at SFSU also benefits from such outside help. "I don't know their background or their history," SFSU Palestinian activist Shamieh says of his ISO allies, "but all I know is they support us in anything we do."
I mention this to try to explain to some of my lefty friends that this is just one example of why I can't remotely view "leftism" as in the slightest an unmitigated good, any more than can I so view "rightism."

And as just one example of why "socialist" isn't a an auto-good word, either, no matter that it's not "communism" nor "Stalinism." (Hi, Charlie Stross!) This sort of thing is hardly the only reason, of course -- I'll leave discussion of economic systems, and their political implications, for another time, post, and the river -- but it's an example in front of me this minute.

Meanwhile I recommend this story for some facts on one way the "hard left" has a large thread of evil running through it, and has no more claim to Virtue Though Proclamation than, well, fascism.

6/15/2002 04:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Coleen Rowley, the FBI whistle-blower, was in town, preparing to stuff her bosses into the wood chipper the next day on Capitol Hill.
Otherwise interesting story on how the Dept. of Homeland Security was invented. Here's another take.

6/15/2002 07:02:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Defections in the elite corps of White House countersnipers, who stand watch on the roof of the presidential mansion, and even by K-9 officers, are further testing the agency's limits, sources say. After the TSA was created in November, so many uniformed officers began applying for jobs online from White House computers that the Secret Service blocked access, allowing officers to view application forms but not complete them.

I hope their protective measures are generally more effective than that sort of boneheaded move.
Secret Service brass refused time off for some officers to go to TSA for job interviews, according to service insiders. So one night, frustrated TSA recruiters showed up at the Secret Service Uniformed Division guard booth at the northwest gate of the White House to speak with job candidates.
Maybe not. There's a lot more in this cover story.
Special Agent A. T. Smith was the head of Hillary Rodham Clinton's White House detail after serving on the Presidential Protective Detail (PPD). According to several sources and a divorce pleading filed by Smith's wife at the time alleging adultery, Smith was conducting a widely known extramarital relationship with Catherine Cornelius, President Clinton's cousin. Cornelius worked in the White House scheduling office around the time of the Monica Lewinsky affair. Smith accompanied Cornelius to numerous White House social events and eventually married her after the divorce from his wife.
Man, I wish I could have worked in the Clinton WH; it was one partying place.
Merletti at one time was head of Clinton's detail. So was Stafford. In affidavits provided to U.S. News, six current Secret Service agents stated that Merletti and Stafford, while protecting Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, were widely believed to be involved in extramarital relationships with women who worked in the White House.
Who doesn't want a Big Strong SS Agent (TM)? It's hardly unique to the Clinton WH: remember Susan Ford, President Ford's daughter, marrying the head of her protective detail? How about the first Bush Admin and President Reagan?
In Los Angeles, an agent guarding former President Ronald Reagan was found guilty in 1997 of having sex with a 16-year-old girl, possession of methamphetamine, and violently resisting arrest.

The case came to light when the girl's father–a close friend of Agent Timothy O'Brien's–saw his daughter returning from the agent's house next door one morning, wearing only pajamas. Testimony indicated that O'Brien had sex with the girl for hours, often night after night, then gave her tabs of methamphetamine, or "speed," to help keep her awake during school the next day. When the girl's father confronted O'Brien, the agent drew his service weapon and threatened to shoot him, says William Pounders, the Los Angeles Superior Court judge who presided over O'Brien's trial. O'Brien was arrested at gunpoint but only after a brawl with two officers, in which one was injured. While O'Brien was not charged with perjury, in court, he lied repeatedly, says Richard Rosenthal, the Los Angeles County prosecutor who handled the case. "He was the worst perjurer I think I saw," Rosenthal said, "in 15 years of being a prosecutor." Pounders says, "In 18 years as a judicial officer, I have never had another case involving so many violations of so many different laws by someone who should have been above reproach."

You can't make this stuff up, and have it believed. How about this White House?
In just the past few months, there have been several instances of Secret Service agents' driving under the influence of alcohol, even to their posts at the White House.
This White House is a happen' place, too:
Secret Service agents assigned to the elite Counter Assault Team (CAT), which responds to any attack on the president, sometimes watch pornography on White House satellite channels in the "band room" in the basement of the executive mansion. That's where the CAT stashes its weapons and the Marine Band keeps its instruments. When the president and first lady retire for the night, several sources say, agents will often "put some skin on." Other agents watch pornographic videotapes on the ground floor of the mansion but only after posting an agent as a lookout, the sources add.
And the story goes on. Geez, given the access the SS has to the private lives of protectees, ya gotta wonder what sort of prurient interest they might take in some. Are Presidential Family sex tapes going to show up sometime in the future? This could explain the selection of John Ashcroft!

6/15/2002 06:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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White House advisers say their proposal for a department of homeland security will be a critical element in their election-year strategy to portray President Bush and the Republicans as moving aggressively to protect Americans from terrorist attack.

To sell the message to voters and to pressure Congress to rally behind the plan, the White House intends to dispatch cabinet members around the country this summer and is already preparing slogans promoting the new department.

In an example of how Republicans view security as a potent political issue, the National Republican Senatorial Committee this week began broadcasting a television commercial promoting the work of Representative Saxby Chambliss on a terrorism subcommittee and saying that for him, "national security has always been a top priority." Mr. Chambliss, of Georgia, is favored to take on the incumbent Democratic senator, Max Cleland.

This is not a surprise, but it makes me feel unclean. You can't ask for bipartisan support on your bipartisan plans to protect the nation, and then do this. It's sickening, and, of course, breathtakingly hypocritical.

But far worst of all, it's so bad for the nation, words fail me. It's the opposite of asking people to act in the best interests of the nation over political advantage. It's completely destructive to that.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, truly moves me to feel that, if this play continues, these people should be thrown out of office, and people who actually place the interests of the nation first, installed.

"Really good policy is really good politics," said Mark McKinnon, a White House adviser who was Mr. Bush's chief media consultant in the 2000 campaign. "It's the right thing to do for the right reasons."
So wrong, even the "is," "to," and "the" are wrong. Yes, good policy is good politics, in the sense that if you get good results, it's good for you, but, no, no, no, it doesn't mean "we should trumpet our efforts on an issue we swear is bipartisan as why you should elect only our partisan side."
"It also throws a huge blanket over the entire domestic agenda. The domestic agenda right now is security. It's covering up everything else."
Exactly. Unless you see "re-election-of-Bush = security of the nation" or politics-as-usual as trumping protecting the American people, well, I shouldn't speak for anyone else. It makes me want to vomit.

6/15/2002 06:03:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"HOMELAND" IS A CREEPY, GERMAN, UNAMERICAN WORD, points out Mickey Kaus, seconding Peggy Noonan (!). When you have these two agreeing -- and I've yet to see an American say "gosh, I like this term 'homeland'!; why didn't we hear more of it before?" -- you know it's pretty surely right. (Sure, England has "the Home Islands," but a) it's not the same term, and b) much as we have in common, the US is neither England, nor Britain, nor the UK, nor the British Isles [and, yes, British readers who don't know me, I can easily explain the differences; thanks for asking].)
If "homeland" is the wrong word, what's the right word? The problem, of course, is that the right word is taken. The right word is "defense." In a linguistically honest government, what's now the Department of Defense would become the Department of War, which is the best description of what that institution is, and the projected "Department of Homeland Security" would be called the Department of Defense, which is the best description of what it is.
Works for me. Of course, the "Department of Defense" replaced and consolidated the former Departments of War and Navy in the tremendous National Security Act of 1947, which also created the National Security Council, CIA, Air Force, and pretty much our entire contemporary set-up, so there would be wonderful irony in using this present reorganization to restore One Of The Classics.

6/15/2002 05:35:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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55 CANCRI: That's the address where a nice Jupiter-type planet lives in a nice Jupiter-type orbit, a mere 41 light-years away, just discovered. This means it's quite possible an Earth-type planet, or at least a Mars-type planet, is in the proper orbit, as well. My proposal: we make plans to drop by and say "Hi! We're your new neighbors! Here's a a nice babka. Can we borrow a cup of milk, and a million tons of hydrogen, please?"

6/15/2002 04:31:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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