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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

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

Friday, May 31, 2002
HERE WAS, WAS. Was, all was.

If you can read this and not weep, well, I already know you're not me.

My very first temp job was, in 1975, for Chase Manhattan Bank, in the World Trade Center. I worked on a typer set to an endless loop of data and output, on a floor one can now see only in The Hudsucker Proxy. It wasn't pleasant. It was, in fact, awful. And I was awful.

Not many people recall what that word actually means in earlier usage. Be one.

Many of those below were like Lucy Knopf, 69, a secretary who, when asked why she had come, said only: "Respect."
I lost it again, here.

As well:

Estelle Woldin, 76, stood at North Moore and West Streets and saluted every rescue worker marching by.

"I had to come," she said, launching into the story of how she handed out Oreos to the exhausted men on Sept. 11, telling them they had to eat their cookies, the way they used to as a child. "I'm not even saying goodbye because it isn't over. It will never be over. You don't get over this."


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Tuesday, May 21, 2002
SOME ISRAELI ARAB PERSPECTIVE on the shaking of the Israeli-Arab anti-terror consensus.

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Pentagon bosses are not happy about Burns' mission to the Middle East, but his direct superior, Secretary of State Colin Powell, refuses to admit defeat in the battle for the President's ear. While Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, are pressuring President Bush to put off his Middle East efforts until next summer, after the Iraqi problem has been dealt with, Powell and Tenet belong to the "Palestine problem first" camp. In a paraphrase of what James Baker told the first President Bush ("F**k the Jews. They don't vote for us anyway."), the Pentagon is telling Bush Junior the same thing about the Saudis. American forces, say Pentagon sources, can make do with Jordanian and Turkish ground support in any attack on Iraq. But the State Department and the CIA are warning about getting too close to the fragile Jordanian monarchy, without a Saudi support system.
Revisionism, and in line what I've thought, counter to many right-type bloggers:
The continuing Saudi commitment to their peace proposal challenges the assumption that the plan was just a ploy to enhance Saudi Arabia's image in the West. The Saudi initiative also forced Egypt's hand, after President Mubarak was convinced that Crown Prince Abdullah had no plans to abandon him at the last minute.
More interesting stuff in this story, not limited to:
The Americans and the Europeans have learned the lessons of the negotiations to end the stand-offs at Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound and the Church of the Nativity. Any time the Israelis or the Palestinians climb up too high a tree and refuse to come down, the Americans and Europeans will present them with a third-party alternative.
That's an old lesson, though, unless, of course, the situation is that a Republican President is just elected after an activist Democratic President.

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WHAT PALESTINIANS WANT is change, says the best poll.
An overwhelming majority of Palestinians support reform of the Palestinian Authority, according to poll taken last week by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

The poll showed 91 percent in favor of "fundamental changes" in the PA, with 85 percent backing unification of the myriad security services, 95 percent for sacking ministers, 83 percent for early elections and 92 percent for adoption of the Basic Law, or constitution.

In the latest poll, 48 percent favored, and 43 percent opposed, changing the Palestinian system to divert power to a prime minister, leaving the presidency now held by Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat a largely ceremonial post.

Echoing complaints increasingly expressed by ordinary Palestinians, 83 percent believed corruption exists in PA institutions.

The survey also showed Palestinians were generally unimpressed with the recent performance of their leaders and strongly favored reform of the Palestinian Authority - an idea which Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has endorsed.

Arafat's own popularity fell to 35 percent from 36 percent in December, indicating that any extra support he gained during Israel's month-long siege of his Ramallah headquarters has swiftly evaporated.

Arafat's popularity stood at 33 percent in July 2001, down from 46 percent in July 2000, the center said.

Marwan Barghouthi, a senior leader of Arafat's Fatah faction in the West Bank who is currently being held by Israel after his capture during the IDF offensive, was the most popular Palestinian leader after Arafat with 19 percent support, up from 11 percent in December.

Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin trailed with 13 percent, while Gaza politician Haider Abdel-Shafi and senior negotiator Saeb Erekat each scored 10 percent, the poll showed.

Fatah's popularity stood at 32 percent, up from 28 percent in December, but down from 37 percent in July 2000, two months before the outbreak of a Palestinian revolt against occupation.

Islamist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad won 25 percent support, unchanged from December, but up from 17 percent in July 2000, when the failed Camp David peace talks took place.

Support among Palestinians for bombings inside Israel has fallen although a majority still backs such attacks, a public opinion poll showed Tuesday.

Support for bombings inside Israel fell to 52 percent from 58 percent in December.

But 86 percent of the 1,317 adults polled in the West Bank and Gaza Strip opposed arresting those behind such attacks, while 67 percent, up from 61 percent in December, believed that armed action was more effective than negotiations.

Seventy percent supported reconciliation with the Israeli people after reaching a peace agreement based on the establishment of a Palestinian state recognized by Israel.

Two-thirds of those questioned backed a Saudi-inspired land-for-peace proposal endorsed at an Arab summit in March, while 54 percent believed that Palestinians should take part in a peace conference proposed by the United States.

The poll, the first by the center since Israel unleashed its West Bank offensive in March after a spate of suicide attacks, showed only 39 percent approved of the performance of Palestinian Authority leaders during the Israeli sweep.

And a lot fewer in Jenin, which is why Arafat flew overhead and waved, not quite sending paryoxms of joy through the populace.

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SHARON'S TOUGH TALK: Arabs, shmarabs, I'm talking about Israeli politics. Sharon fired the Shas ministers, booting them and United Torah from the coalition.

Shas is the creature of Rebbe Ovadia Yosef (the "spiritual leader"), whose word is law to the party, and whose large number of followers (17 Knesset votes) vote in unison at the wave of his hand; it has always been the party of the Sephardic poor, whose resentment of the rule of Ashkenazi (European-born or ancestored) Labor led to the first Likud victory of Begin in '77.

Their goal has always been pure self-interest: subsidies for their religious schools and social organizations, their men being allowed not to serve in the Israeli Defence Force because they are "religious students," and other direct rewards. They go with whichever leading coalition will bribe them sufficiently, and for years have been the Third Party between the Labor and Likud coalitions. I'd be tempted to describe them as not dissimilar to an utterly non-militant Israeli version of Hamas, but that might suggest they have political interest beyond self-interest, and they largely don't.

This instance is typical:

Shas and United Torah Judaism had both said they would not support the plan unless a planned 24 percent cut in child allowances for families that do not serve in the army was removed, while Labor had said it would not support the plan unless this item were left in.
Sharon's government's response:
Meeting in Jerusalem, Shas ministers said that they were still open to negotiations over the planned economic cuts, but Finance Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio that he had "no intention of conducting negotiations to buy [Shas] votes."

Shalom added that, "This is a country of all its citizens, and the economy also belongs to all Israelis. Anyone who fails to understand that, anyone who tries to defend their own little patch of territory, will soon find out that there is nothing to defend."

As a result, Shas is now insisting they are "open to negotiation" while the government goes ahead with revoting the budget, and instead negotiates with the arch-enemy of the religious parties, Tommy Lapid's militant-secular party, Shinui, whose sole purpose is literally to oppose the religious parties and defend, in highly militant fashion, the majority secular Israeli society.

And meanwhile, the few straying Labor and Likud MKs on this vote are being taken to the woodshed. And the reaction of the Knesset's leading dovish party and spokesperson:

Opposition leader Yossi Sarid (Meretz) welcomed the prime minister's decision, saying it heralded the start of the unravelling of his government.
That's premature, and premature for Meretz's interests, as well -- Sharon's position remains relatively stable for the time being, with the West Bank operations having bought him approval and limited success, and Labor certainly is far from being in a position to seriously make a challenge for a majority any time soon, though they're likely on the way up from having bottomed out -- but as always in Israeli politics: interesting times.

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ARAFAT'S POPULARITY: Good Kifner piece on Arafat's recent rise and fall, and why; Sharon should take a lesson from it, but it's unlikely he will. The lesson is to give Arafat enough rope for his people to hang him, rather than forcing the Palestinians to defend him.

5/21/2002 08:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOD-BYE, STEPHEN JAY GOULD: He did great good for popularizing science, explaining evolution, and fighting superstition. I'll miss him.

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Monday, May 20, 2002
THE UNEASE MANY JEWS feel for support for Israel from some of the Christian Right is the topic of this TRB column from Peter Beinart.

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THE LIKUD VOTE is well-commented on by the eminently sane Yossi Klein Halevi. It's all quotable.
The left has convinced Israelis a Palestinian state is inevitable; the right has convinced them it can't be led by Arafat. But it also says something about the nature of last Sunday's vote, which was less a reasoned policy position than a message--to the United States, to the Europeans, to the United Nations--that the Palestinians don't have a monopoly on rage.
So read the rest.

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"WE ALREADY KNEW," aka "They Should Have Known" is well-addressed by William Saletan. Michael Kinsley sums up.

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HISTORIANS AND FREE SPEECH is the topic of an entry by sage Eugene Volokh on the disturbing event of Bernard Lewis being fined by the French government for having said in a newspaper interview the the Turkish genocide of Armenians was "terrible human tragedy," but not "a decision and plan of the Ottoman government for extermination of the Armenian nation." Some might think that debatable, but the French court ruled it was "denial of genocide," and found him guilty and fined him.
Now I say all this not because I feel competent to tell the French how to run their legal system. They've got their laws and we've got ours, and while I think I prefer ours, I don't know enough about French culture, society, or legal system to be highly confident about what works best for them.

But I repeatedly hear, mostly from law professors but also from others, calls for adapting American free speech law -- and American constitutional law more broadly -- to fit the European mold. America is the only Western country, the argument runs, that's so insensitive to the plight of victims, or so hospitable to racists and other bigots, or just so downright goofy in its First Amendment zealotry that it fails to punish Clearly Harmful And Valueless Speech such as Holocaust denial or racist advocacy or what have you.

The trouble with these sorts of speech restrictions, though, is that narrow, reasonable-seeming constraints -- after all, what harm will it do if we suppress Nazis or anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers? -- end up growing and growing. It might be censorship envy, or the influence of precedent, or a desire for equality, but what the ACLU and other "extremists" say tends to be true: You start by suppressing Communists, and then you get to Communist sympathizers, and then to fellow travelers, and then to liberals. You start by suppressing racial or sexual slurs, and then you get to hard-core pornography in the workplace, and from there to supposedly bigoted political advocacy, sexually themed humor, classical art, or religious proselytizing. And you start by going after Holocaust denial and soon enough you punish respected historians for supposedly not providing a balanced presentation -- balanced, that is, in the eyes of the judge.

Cases like the one I describe provide a useful example of what happens when one tries to take a more "reasonable", less "extreme" view of free speech. And from what I've seen, it seems to me that we shouldn't be too quick to jettison our First Amendment tradition, for all its flaws, in favor of the supposedly more internationally approved, interest-balancing, and sensitive European model.

Not to stomp on European ways, and, sure, it's a good thing to have diversity of laws and perspectives in the world, but I'm with Professor Volokh on this, as will surprise no one who knows me in the slightest.

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ARE YOU CONSCIOUS OF THIS?: No real news in this piece of Dennettism about Harvard professor Daniel Wegner's new book, The Illusion of Conscious Will, but the topic always fascinates me.

That is, I think it fascinates "me."

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WANT A WARNING?: Here's a warning.
Walk-in suicide bombers like those who have attacked public places in Israel will hit the United States eventually, FBI Director Robert Mueller said Monday.

"I think we will see that in the future, I think it's inevitable," Mueller said in response to a question during a speech to the National Association of District Attorneys meeting in suburban Alexandria, Va.

In his opening remarks to the group, Mueller flatly predicted that "there will be another terrorist attack. We will not be able to stop it. It's something we all live with."

Helpful, isn't it? But don't say you weren't "warned." There's also Cheney's version.

Meanwhile, the Congressional investigations -- the ones I've been reading for months in some blogs don't exist -- aren't going so well.

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WANT TO HEAR a national anthem? Any national anthem, with English translation in front of you? (It's one thing the French got right.)

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ANTI-LATINO RACISM discovered in Attack of the Clones by the Detroit News.
Latino critics in particular charge his latest Star Wars epic, Episode II: Attack of the Clones, toys with American paranoia about Mexican immigration with its cloned army of swarthy lookalikes who march in lockstep by the tens of thousands, and ultimately end up serving as Darth Vader's white-suited warriors.
Modeled on bounty hunter Jango Fett, the clones, we're told, are genetically modified for docility and obedience. The breeding project, conducted by long-necked aliens who look like refugees from Close Encounters of the Third Kind, takes place on the planet Kamino -- soundalike for the Spanish word "camino," which means "road" or "I walk."
Temuera Morrison, the actor who plays Jango, is a New Zealander of Maori descent. But that didn't get in the way of some members of an eight-person Detroit News panel assembled to review the film.
"He looked totally Latino," says Martina Guzman, a Detroiter who's managing a State House election campaign.
"And his kid," says Wayne State history professor Jose Cuello, referring to the young Boba Fett, "looked even more Latino."
And let not escape:

If the planet name "Kamino" caught some Latinos' attention, three Arab-Americans on The News' panel seized on the fact that Jango's son calls him "Baba."
"I frankly think the bounty hunter is Arab," says college counselor Imad Nouri of Royal Oak.
"He's basically a terrorist," explains Nouri, "and 'baba' is Arabic for 'father.' "

So now you know. Get out those picket signs!

5/20/2002 11:43:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LOOK UP! and notice if, when you are surfing porn, your computer is connected to an overhead projector. Particularly if you're a teacher.

My New Word of the day: "invigilator."

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INTELLIGENCE PROPOSALS: Fareed Zakaria wants a domestic intelligence agency, or for the FBI to be authorized to be one, "carefully supervised" by Congress and courts. They're already moving in that direction. It's what you want to protect us, right? You decide.

If you want to look at the blame game with the Clinton administration and Bush administration, and particularly find bits bluntly asserting that Ashcroft and Rumsfeld dropped a ball that Clinton's people had their eye on, try here, as Newsweek devotes their cover story.

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Sunday, May 19, 2002
THE SARGE, who is a Star Wars trufan, reviews Attack of the Clones. He likes it. (Spoilers.)

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ATTACK OF THE YOU KNOWS: On a day when Mr. Bush gave a speech at the White House about cloning, Mr. Calio persuaded Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, to join him in wearing a George W. Bush mask into the Oval Office.

"Hey, Mr. President, how did the cloning event go?" Mr. Calio asked as he and Mr. Card strolled in. Of course, the Bush cloning plans make such jokes a criminal offense punishable by thirty years in prison.

Almost. Meanwhile: what a bunch of cards.

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5/19/2002 10:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WELL, NO, AND YES: Avedon Carol writes:
Meanwhile, added to the stack of items headed "Can no longer be classed as tin-foil hat stuff", the claim that the administration was planning operations in Afghanistan before 9/11. From MSNBC :
The plan dealt with all aspects of a war against al-Qaida, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan, the sources said on condition of anonymity.
Yes, of course the Planning division of the Pentagon had plans on the shelf for fighting in Afghanistan.

Also, the Antiles, Antiqua, Argentina, Bhutan, Belgium...

The job of the plans division is to have plans for operations at different levels, under different contingencies, to meet different goals, for every country on the planet. That's, er, why they call it planning So that complex logistical plans are ready, as nearly as practical, when a situation arises that you suddenly, on hours notice, need to brief the political leadership, the National Command Authority, as what it is and isn't possible to do, in regard to a situation that has no arisen that needs responding to.

There are, I expect, plans for options for dealing with Quebecois insurgents obtaining nucelar weapons, or for the collapse of the Mexican government into civil war. None of which means anyone is "planning" to do anything about such "plans." This is the difference between preparedness -- without which critics would be screaming about "incompetence" and "why wasn't the administration prepared for that problem," whatever Problem X is, no matter that it's the professional military that makes military plans, not the political leadership -- and "intentions."

None of which is, or ever has been, "tin-foil territory." Now, "plans" on the political end to fight a war in Afghanistan because, whatever, oh, yeah, The Oil Companies Want it -- that's a whole nother story, and has naught whatever to do military planning.

However, the September draft NSSDM for fighting al Queda, primarily not militarily, but by the various other methods used -- financial, diplomatic, intelligence, covert, etc., have been reported over and over and over again since they were first reported in late September. Including here on this blog, month after month; this is not news, not since, um, September. There's nothing new in that NBC report whatsoever. Nor is it particularly about Afghanistan, anyway. It was the fact of the irony of the timing that made this significant news back in September and October, written about in Woodward's big series, etc., etc., etc.

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THE INTEL INVESTIGATION: what I wrote the other night was in in a fit of temper. Here's an attempt at clarification, written more temperately.

There are four major likely outcomes to the intelligence failure investigations:

1) Nobody much is to blame.

2) Political appointees in the Bush admin dropped the ball.

3) Non-political people in the intelligence bureaucracies dropped the ball in a blameworthy fashion.

4) There were structural problems in handling intelligence and counter-terrorism that are primarily to blame.

Of these, almost no combination is likely to result in primary blame going to the Bush administration. This isn't my preference, but it's my analysis, which I think is not at all biased in favor of the Bush administration. Here's my reasoning.

The most likely answer is some combination of 4 and 3. Intelligence appointees are largely non-political, and the primary one is George Tenet, Director, Central Intelligence (which puts him nominally, though not operationally, in charge of all the intelligence outfits, not just CIA). He was appointed by Bill Clinton, not Bush. If he's to blame, Clinton gets the blame.

Since, so far as I know, no major revisions of the intelligence structure were undertaken by the Bush administration, pretty much any combination of 4 and 3 gets sent back to the Clinton administration and prior administrations for political blame. The best that could be laid on the Bush admin is that they didn't have a revelation as to how bad things were under Clinton, and didn't suddenly call for a massive, or severe, set of changes. This response would also spread blame to the Congressional Intelligence committees, as well, which are bi-partisan.

Response 2 is *possible*, is conceivable, but seems extremely unlikely, since, other than proposing major institutional restructuring and changes of wide-spread procedure, there simply isn't much political input into decision-making of this sort in intelligence matters, of this sort (there are footnotes to this, about how politics affects intelligence, but that's a whole 'nother article).

If a smoking gun came out that said something like "John Ashcroft was told that planes would be flying into major targets in early September," or somesuch, perhaps blame could be dropped on him. But it would take something about that specific and blunt to do it. And it would probably also mean that the director of CI, and FBI, also didn't stand up and say "do something or I resign."

Obviously, response 1 doesn't hurt the Bush administration, either.

So what it comes down to is that likely any investigation is going to reveal that responsiblilty lies primarily with institutional flaws, or below the political level at CIA/FBI/intel and that damages Clinton at least as much as, if not more than, Bush, or it likely says no one political fairly gets the blame.

I stress, this is what I think is *likely*, and I'm not a seer: investigation may reveal a low-probability outcome, and that's why I, of course, fully support full investigation. As I've said, repeatedly.

And, of course, I'm the furtherest thing from a pro: I'm just a guy who sits around and has read a fair amount of detailed history of the intelligence business, how it works, what can go wrong, and why, and where responsibility lies.

My take so far is that the CTC (Counter-Terrorism Center), CIA, FBI, NSA, and others, have actually done pretty well, which means that, sure, some stuff gets missed. They have the entire world to look out for, billions of bits of information, and the overwhelming problem is, of course, collating it all and making sure enough gets into the hands of the right analysts, but that they're not overwhelmed with noise. This is a problem of extraordinary complexity, and it's a miracle what they *can* do. Doing much more, as I said, also starts getting into very scary territory of the sort that people than already start worrying about, and decrying, such as the NSA/Echelon collection/collation. So you have to take as a given in the intel business that it's always a guessing game, save when you've developed prime primary sources, such as a guaranteed method of tapping enemy communications in a way they don't know about, or have a prime direct human intel source, or so on. And even then, there are plenty of ways for the information to go wrong, all without anyone being at fault.

It's not magic, as you know, just guys doing stuff, and trying hard, and mostly making educated guesses, often which aren't, in fact, better than those in newspapers or by academics, or any, er, intelligent observer.

So, sure, maybe some individuals are going to be found at fault here.

Fine, and if they are, rightfully, they should be held responsible, given what happened. If it happens, odds are overwhelming they won't be political appointees. So that doesn't do the anti-Bush cause any good, either. But I'm not going to finger-point until I see clear evidence of wrong-doing; I will support all investigation until then, but not leap to conclusions, as I think it's irresponsible to do so.

Look at history, and the Pearl Harbor investigations; Kimmel and Short were hung out to dry, because people wanted Someone To Blame. But it really wasn't their fault, and considerable injustice was done. I don't want that to happen again, and I won't support a culture that calls for it. I support in-depth investigation, and blame being given when it is shown to be deserved, not before.

None of this has anything to do with my non-existent support for the Bush administration, or desire to shield them from either legitimate criticism or questioning. It's a product of my reading for many years of the history of intelligence failures, and how they are handled. So far as I can see, no matter how much one might wish otherwise, the situation is simply one in which it's highly unlikely that the Bush Administration is likely to be at fault.

If someone can lay out a scenario to show a line, or scenario, I'm missing here, I'm utterly open to considering that, of course, and would be quite interested in such. It's entirely possible, of course, that I'm All Wet.

William Safire has a take calling for a Commission; seems reasonable to me.

5/19/2002 09:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THAT'S NOT RIGHT, EITHER: With the inevitability of a Catholic being chosen as Pope, Republicans will use the 9/11 investigations for partisan advantage as much or more as the Democrats. The NY Times reports:
In appearances on several television news programs, Mr. Cheney said "it would be a mistake" to give broad Congressional access to the Aug. 6 memorandum to the president, which ignited a political uproar over whether the nation could have anticipated the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"That presidential daily brief is developed from some of our most secret operations and it has to be treated that way," Mr. Cheney said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It's never been provided to the Congress before, to my knowledge."

That last one one statement is true up to a point: it's "developed from," as he carefully said, but it also doesn't include specific information on "sources and methods," and rarely, if ever, includes information that could reveal those, the holy grail of intelligence secrets. I agree completely that the daily presidential brief isn't something that a habit can be developed of sharing with Congress, because it would have to cease to be if such a development took place. The President couldn't be adquately briefed that way, and security maintained.

However, the even more secret material isn't given to the President in writing, and, frankly, the President isn't informed of the most secret information -- the aforementioned sources and methods -- in almost all cases, either. He doesn't have, as they say, a Need To Know.

Most to the point, giving a single briefing, or couple, properly redacted, to either the intelligence committees, or, better, the respective partisan leaders of the House and Senate Intel committees, would be something that could be done, so long as a habit didn't develop to expect it. This however, is a unique investigation, and it seems to me a fine case can be made for making an exception.

Mr. Cheney acknowledged a need for a Congressional inquiry to examine the workings of the intelligence agencies, saying, "There are lessons to be learned" from Sept. 11.
Good. Just so.
But in opposing a special commission or multiple investigations, the vice president said, "most of what we need to talk about here should not be talked about in open hearings."
This is true, but of course, in context, nonsense. Obviously a commission could, would, and should, hold closed hearing, as well as open hearings. Just as -- much as one hates to cite it as a positive precedent of any sort for anything other than putting out a report to reassure the public ASAP, truth and accuracy being a trivial factor -- the Warren Commission largely investigated in camera.


Congressional Democrats have bridled at assertions that the administration is protecting the institution of the presidency. They say the White House is trying to avoid scrutiny.
Of course, there's nothing in the least incompatible in these motivations, and I believe that the Bush Administration sincerely has both in mind and heart. They do have a penchant for secrecy, so as to best accomplish their political goals with as little public and Congressional oversight and knowledge as possible, and they want to increase the power of the Presidency, both for philosophical reasons, and because it's handy when you have the Presidency and hope to largely keep it in your hands most or all of the time in the future.

So when Cheney and company explain why they must keep information X secret, and cite the perogatives of the Presidency, and the importance of those powers for the country, they get a twofer: it's in their direct interest and in the interest of how they think the government is best run.

Mr. Cheney today made clear that the administration would oppose any effort to expand an investigation of Sept. 11 beyond the intelligence committees. "I think there's a trade-off here, frankly," he said, "between safeguarding the national interest, which is very much at stake here, and satisfying what sometimes becomes a search for headlines on Capitol Hill."
I'm doubtful there are significant smoking guns to be found, but I also see no reason whatever why a commission would damage the country in any way that the Intel committees, or a special Congressional committee would, which is to say, not at all. While it's compatible with the Cheney/Presidential Republican wing to want to restrict, prevent, and suppress, encroachments on their power, I think this line is simply largely because they want to take, of course, no political heat whatseover, and in their view, there's nothing to be gained by such a commission or prominent investigation; at best, it's a distraction, at worst, a major political problem. Either way, their interest in shielding themselves from it is as largely political as is the hope of the Democrats that ammunition can be found to damage the Administration with.

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Saturday, May 18, 2002
REMEMBER: If you find yourself dying of bacteriological attack, radiation, or simply exploding into fire, be sure to write a note as to whether you blame a Republican, or a Democrat. That is, after all, what's important.

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CRYSTAL BALL TIME: I've made the error of looking at various leftist blogs ranting on about how Bush Should Have Known About 9/11, and He Is All To Blame, because We Had The Information.

Fine. We now have new warnings. Put up or shut up. Reveal, due to these Warnings, what the next attack will be. It's As Clear As before 9/11. Or pay attention to the fact that intelligence doesn't work that way: it analyzes what happened, and what has been heard; it's not, in fact, a Predictor Of The Future By The Force.

Nitwits. You can blame Clinton, or Bush, and each blaming is equally, um, uninformed. And, how do we say in English? Stupid. Or simply partisan. Yeah, it's all the fault of the last President you don't like. Snore. Also, God is to blame for my pants tearing. I'm sure it's terribly comforting to find a source to put blame to.

A partisan political source in America, that is. Because that's what's important. Domestic quibbles: all important. Mere world-wide enemies trying to kill us: oh, wait, they're out there, too?

I'm so glad so many people grasp what's important.

5/18/2002 12:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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INFORMATION-HOARDING is the fascinating term applied to what is otherwise called "operational security."

I.e., not revealing sources and methods, not letting the enemy know you are doing SigInt, that is, intercepting their communications successfully, which NSA, the National Security Agency, the largest intelligence agency in the US, whose budget, personnel, and operations, dwarf that little CIA, and other intelligence agencies, by far. And, yes, they participate in ECHELON. Oh, horrors!

The central question is where the public will place responsibility if excessive information-hoarding within the intelligence and law enforcement communities left the nation's guard down as Al Qaeda terrorists trained and prepared for their attack.
This is, in essence, the Coventry question: reveal sources forever to prevent a one time horror, or not?

But back in reality, no information has yet shown that September 11th could have been properly known to anyone other than Brainiac 5 using Saturn Girl's telepathy on known targets. In other words: intelligence agencies mostly don't do better than most newspapers, and can't be expected to. One might as well expect that the Times, Post, etc., had been in a position to know, prior to September 11th, what would happen that day.

Yeah, sure, a psychic genius might put it all together. But, sheesh, if you didn't issue your own warning, you have no cause to blame others for the same. That includes blaming the CIA for not having the infallibility you want when you aren't accusing their employees of Evil and Wrong-doing.

Remind me again: ECHELON is bad. Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail.

And the world is filled with no one but gentlemen.

5/18/2002 12:02:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, May 17, 2002
DOROTHY PARKER DOGGEREL revealed as imperfect source of wisdom. Specifically, the well-known
Men seldom make passes
at girls who wear glasses

As many a geek guy can attest, this is absolute crap for many of us. Many of us -- okay, me -- find glasses on a woman terribly attractive. Hot, even. Charles Taylor attests wisely.

Killing yourself, on the other hand: less attractive.

Evidence has yet to reveal that blogging makes a man more attractive.

5/17/2002 09:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE ANTI-CHOMSKY is what Dr. Weevil wants to be. But in a, y'know, good way.

5/17/2002 09:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE MORALITY OF EMPIRE, the Star Wars one, and the American, are looked at by Bruce Rolston.
But most disturbing of all is the thread running through Last's piece that political instability in and of itself is evil: "Their [the Rebels'] victory over the Empire doesn't liberate the galaxy- -it turns the galaxy into Somalia writ large: dominated by local warlords who are answerable to no one." (Note he uses Somalia as his example... not post-Taliban Afghanistan, of which much the same could be said.) Better to have the emperor rule "by fear," he posits.

This is, I have stated before, the biggest problem with western foreign policy post-Cold War... the obsession with regional and global stability, a world "you can do business with", over and above whatever desires the populations might have to be democratic, or free, or immune from Last's chosen weapon, fear. It keeps the U.S. from doing something about Saudi Arabia... it has so far kept it from doing anything about Iraq... it hinders any moral policy with regard to Taiwan... the list goes on.

"I'll take the Empire," Last writes. The problem is, that's exactly what America keeps doing... and American ideals, and the world, suffer as a result.

No word, however, on why Darth Vader made no recognition of Tatooine in SW: A New Hope (yet-to-be-revealed memory loss in the trauma that gives him his later appearance?), or who is the Dooku of the Bush administration.

5/17/2002 08:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAIL, I cautiously venture, appears to be working again, but indicators suggest that anything sent while it was down has yet to show up in my mailbox.

5/17/2002 08:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CRANKY: What the heck is an "Amygdalagf"? What the heck do people think it means? Is it in some strange dictiionary I'm unaware of? Do people usually speak gibberish, or think others do? Is something affecting people's eyesight? Knowledge of English? Do I need to enlarge the name of my blog, above? Put the links "Our Mission," "Our Task," and finally, for those really, really, really slow, "Our Mysterious Name," on the left, in 100 pt. type? /cranky.

5/17/2002 12:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARE YOU AFRAID TO GIVE YOUR UNORTHODOX OPINION? is my paraphrase of a question Matt Welch asks at some mild length.

Matt's responding to an LA Weekly piece in which a lefty Jewish writer (hey, speak of the devil, talks about

Perhaps most difficult of all to overcome is a general fear among Jews of publicly criticizing Israel, no matter how they may feel individually...
at some small length. Matt says:
I’ve heard this line of argument dozens of times since the Sept. 11 massacre, and each time I’m can’t help saying: Really? You’re actually afraid to speak your mind? I honestly cannot understand what they are talking about. As I have mentioned before, I don’t comment about the Mideast wars much at all, because I’m an ignoramus on the region. And yet....
And Matt fearlessly gives some blunt opinions, criticizing Sharon, calling Reagan a dackwad, Ashcroft a jackass, and so on, pointing out he's for drug legalization, against the death penalty, and plenty of other non-majoritarian positions he states all the time.

Matt asks for help on this, so I'm here to provide. One factor is that, of course, Matt is not a typical example, and all of us bloggers are self-selected for shooting off our mouths, so we're a by-definition unrepresentative sample, and any survey will reflect that. And, sure, yes, there are plenty of naturally timid people, on the other end of the specturm.

But beyond that, I have a cranky response. Matt, I think that people who say this stuff are more often than not patting themselves on the back. Because by stipulating that they, and anyone of Their Righteous, But Suppressed Opinions must overcome fear to Bravely Speak Truth To Power (or The Other Supposed Powerless), they are stipulating that they are oppressed, suppressed, and Overcoming The Force of The Powers That Be to BSTTP.

How noble! How brave! How heroic! Applaud those who do this! Applaud me for doing it!

We call this the Michael Moore Syndrome. Alternatively, Ted Rall Syndrome, or apply it as you wish. I've written about this before, particularly here

I should make clear this isn't a leftist syndrome. Plenty of rightists are precisely as convinced of their Bravery In Defying The Liberal/Leftist Ruling Establishment of The Media Elite. We call this Ann Coulter Syndrome, or pick your right-wing columnist or blogger of choice.

It's a simple progression. If you're afraid, it's with good cause. So if you do it anyway, you're brave. Therefore you're heroic. Therefore people should approve of and applaud you. Yay, me, and those like me!

Needless to say, I'm not accusing everyone of dishonesty. For one thing, there are plenty of circumstances that do require some social bravery in speaking up in person, which is quite different than writing a piece of journalism, whether amateur or professional. And many are, indeed, wholeheartedly convinced they are brave to speak against Those Forces. That they're, in America, usually being ridiculous (except in very rare circumstances), is simply a truth they don't realize.

Hope this helps!, as we used to say on Usenet.

5/17/2002 12:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, May 16, 2002
MISSIONARY SEX really supported by missionaries, it says here, in an investigation by "futurist, evolutionary biologist, and Catholic priest married with Vatican approval, Robert Francoeur."

Did you know that:

The Kagaba natives in Colombia also preferred male-above sex, because they believed that if the woman moved during intercourse, the earth would slip off the shoulders of the four giants who held it up above the waters.
Of course you did, everyone knows that. And it's turtles all the way down. (Ya know the turtle sex joke, right?) More fun position information in this piece. Oh, that's called the Oceanic position. I never knew that.
In Peru, the Cashinahua people also prefer the Oceanic variation, except when they have sex in a forest stream to avoid insect bites.
Learn something new every day. The entire issue of Nerve, incidentally, is a special "Missionary Sex" issue.

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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ZORK?: Hey, gamers! How about Playskins, "an online anime role-playing game built around mystery, suspense and masturbation." Would I jerk you around about this? And other obvious jokes. Play by yourself, or with others!

5/16/2002 11:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SCHOOLS BETTER NOW!: at least, in the DC area. They're forbidding "doggy dancing," and, well, I'll quote a bit:
There will be no "grinding," "doggy dancing" or "front piggy-backing" at Oakland Mills High School's senior prom this year.

At least, not according to the page-long list of rules recently written by Marshall Peterson, principal of the Columbia school. Also off limits: "hiking up skirts," "hands on the floor," and any train of people "unless it's a conga line."

If his guidelines seem a bit, er, detailed, Peterson said, it's because his students leave him no choice. Peterson is grappling with the sexually provocative dance craze that has become the bane of school administrators across the Washington area.

For those who haven't yet seen it, "freak dancing" makes the lambada look like the hokeypokey. Think girls bending over and rubbing their backsides against their partner in time to the beat. Think boys putting their hands on their dates' hips to pull them in closer still -- then farther away, then closer still. Now picture the girls burying their faces into a second partner's midsection or gyrating over him as he lies on the floor.

"If they didn't have their clothes on, you would swear they were having sex," Peterson said.

To combat the trend, schools are trying as many new moves as their students. At Ellington School of the Arts in the District, chaperons are handed flashlights and told to spotlight -- literally -- offending couples. Montgomery Blair High School's principal enlisted students to make an instructional video on dancing do's and don'ts. Arthur Murray it isn't.

Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro makes parents sign a pledge promising to pick their children up early if they are found dancing inappropriately. And at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, the deejay froze the freaking several times during a recent dance by playing the "Barney" theme song.

There's more! This is so nutzy-wutzy. No bending at 45 degree angle. Passing a quiz on dance rules. And, of course, parents Denouncing Disgusting Dancing.

Some things are just eternal. Look for Kevin Bacon's grandchild in the eventual hologrammic remake of Footloose. Remember, kids, no direct brain-to-brain jacking allowed!

I saw that!

5/16/2002 10:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NEW IRIDIUM ANOMALY!: Nope, it's not about the failed satellite system. Boring header, eh? It means that the dinosaurs may not have only ended with a meteor impact, but begun with one. Boom-chackalaka-boom.

Don't laugh, it could yet happen to us.

5/16/2002 10:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Democrats End United Support of Bush on War.

After months of unstinting support for President Bush's handling of the war on terror, leading Congressional Democrats changed course today and demanded full disclosure of what Mr. Bush was told last summer about the danger of terrorist hijackings. They also called for a broad public inquiry into what the government knew before Sept. 11.

Fine, fair enough. Perfectly warranted.

Even some Republicans questioned the government's response to information gathered last summer.

"I think it should have been acted upon, and it wasn't," said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee.

Mr. Shelby was particularly critical of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, saying officials there had been "asleep."

[various Democratic statements elided] Most of the Republicans who spoke publicly today rallied around Mr. Bush, arguing that the information he had received in August in a briefing paper several pages long was too generalized to act on. They said the Democrats were playing election-year politics.

Well, yes, of course they are.

I'm not a Bush fan. I'm immensely apt to support the next Democratic nominee against him, though that still remains to be seen, of course. I'm of the mind that feels that Bush did not take office as a result of fair tactics. And I'm predisposed to not think highly of him.

But. While I fully support all reasonable investigation into What Happened, and, of course, if people, above or below the political appointee level, screwed up in highly faultable fashion, they should bear responsibility and be punished according, presumably by losing their jobs, what I expect is the most likely result is that there simply was insufficient intelligence for the bureaucracy to have reasonably been expected to know what would happen. I suspect it's quite unlikely anyone at a political level would be sufficiently knowledgeable to screw up, as well.

That may not be the case, of course, and I repeat, if there were significant individual failures, such individuals, high or low, should be punished, and, more importantly, any and all institutional failures should be learned from and changes made to limit them in future.

But most likely there just wasn't good enough intelligence. Meaning that these al Queda guys operated in small cells. And if the only way to have found them was a massive totalitarian operation of spying, well, you know, I don't think a lot of people were in favor of that prior to September 11th, and it would be hypocritical foolishness to now blame anyone for not have either instituted such totalitarian measures or called for them.

Meanwhile, of course politics will be played with this in an election year. That's what politicians do as their job, and it matters not whether Democrats or Republicans would be playing opposition at present: either side would be looking for a way to blame the party in executive power, and at least asking questions. I'm more than a little skeptical that Congressional Republicans would have been so soft on President Gore up to now, were that the situation, but I'll lay that aside.

So: investigations will happen, we'll see what comes out, and appropriate action will be taken, but: don't expect me to be excited, absent shocking revelations. Absent them, I'll doubtless comment little, because I think that it's most likely to not amount to a hill of beans. People will play pro and con, and it will just be politics.

People need to learn that intelligence is highly fallible, and that -- surprise, surprise -- if they want it to be successful, they can't also simultaneously go about declaring that people in the business are all monsters who support killers, mother-rapers, and interference in other countries. Ya can have no spies and purity, or spies and impurity, but ya gotta choose. Grownups do, anyway. Yeah, it's far more nuanced than that, and I like to discuss that, too, but the basic issue is crucial. Choose.

5/16/2002 10:04:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAIL OUTAGE: It appears my mail has been down all day while I was out, and will be out until at least sometime tomorrow. So I'm not ignoring you -- you know, the way I usually do -- I just haven't even seen what you've said, yet. So you might as well hold any hot scoops until you read here that I'm getting mail again, which will likely be sometime Thursday. Alternatively: send me mail at, and that should work while the other address is down. Probably.

5/16/2002 09:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE NEW FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT in Berkeley consists of discouraging free speech in a certain classroom. This has been blogged by many, but I'm covering today's NY Times article both for readers who aren't familiar with this, and to give my own spin.
The political tensions in the Middle East have once again roiled the University of California, with the most recent incident focused on a catalog course description.

The listing for the course, "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance," one of the choices for a required course in reading and composition, was pulled for review last week by university officials after protests by civil liberties and pro-Israeli groups. The critics were outraged by the course description's ideological tone and the efforts of the instructor, a Ph.D. candidate who leads a pro-Palestinian group, to dissuade students who did not accept the pro-Palestinian view from enrolling in the course.

It's been a long time since I was a college dropout, but this sort of discouragement does seem a tad unusual.
"The brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, an occupation that has been ongoing since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian people," the instructor, Snehal Shingavi, wrote. "And yet, from under the brutal weight of the occupation, Palestinians have produced their own culture and poetry of resistance."
If he'd just stuck to that second sentence, there'd be no problem. The first, while debatable, is at least certainly debatable. But.
The last line of his course description drew the most ire, especially among civil libertarians: "Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections."
Last I looked, education, and college in particular, were partially about stuff like "freedom of inquiry" and "freedom of debate" and "challenging ideas," and such.
Local Jewish groups consider the Berkeley course an example of what they see as a rising wave of anti-Israel sentiment and sometimes anti-Semitism emerging from local campuses. In the last few months, two Orthodox Jews were beaten in Berkeley, and a cinderblock was thrown through the front window of the Jewish Hillel cultural center.
Mention is appropriately made of the SFSU events, and of Laurie Zoloth's letter.
Across San Francisco Bay, at San Francisco State University, a pro-Israel peace rally on May 7 was confronted by self-described anti-Zionist protesters who reportedly shouted, among other slurs, that "Hitler did not finish the job," according to a letter circulated by Laurie Zoloth, the director of the university's Jewish studies program.

Pro-Palestine protesters have also complained of bigotry and intimidation.

But don't have any actual examples they can cite, apparently. Oh, except for that case where one complained that it was "intimidation" because a Jewish student being upbraded mentioned that he was going into the Isaeli Defence Force when he graduated.

The U's response to this situation is:

At the Berkeley campus, university officials moved quickly to defuse criticism that followed the publication of the course catalog. Robert M. Berdahl, the university's chancellor, faulted the English department for failing to review the course description and ordered Mr. Shingavi to remove the last line.

In a telephone interview, Chancellor Berdahl said today that Mr. Shingavi had received favorable evaluations from students he had taught.

Still the chancellor said he had not ruled out planting an observer in Mr. Shingavi's classroom to make sure his teaching did not stray into "indoctrination," though the chairwoman of the English department, Janet Adelman, called installation of a monitor unlikely.

So all that will happen is that that line will disappear from the next catalog, in some months, maybe. Perhaps that's appropriate. No one puts a gun to a student's head to make them take this class, after all. And if it's a course in indoctrination of the horrors of Israel against Palestine, well, I suppose that falls under "academic freedom" just like anything else. But it's notable as a sign of the times.

Meanwhile at Berkeley:

Sproul Plaza, which campus protesters have used since the Free Speech movement in 1964, was home to another conflict last month, when about 1,500 demonstrators called for the university to divest itself of stock in corporations that do business with Israel at the same time that Jewish students staged a Holocaust remembrance. Led by the group Students for Justice in Palestine, of which Mr. Shingavi is a member, demonstrators surged into Wheeler Hall, chaining doors and blocking entrances.

The occupation ended with the arrest of 79 people, including 41 students.

Hey, I thought they were against occupation.

Okay, just kidding. Still, a touch of irony.

Critics of the English class who know Mr. Shingavi said his record of protest stacked the deck against the chances of fair discussion in the classroom.

But Mr. Shingavi argued that rather than debate the Middle East conflict, he wanted to focus on the writers who produced art out of the resistance movement.

Questionable whether an English class on poetry should have a required political take, but see what I said above.
"I think it's important to put forward what kinds of propositions this class has centrally," he said. "Otherwise people would walk in not knowing what to expect, and I think that's far more dangerous in a class like this."
I have no way of knowing how appropriate or not this quote is. But it does make me wonder awfully what the "danger" is, exactly. People might argue? The teacher might tell them they're all wrong? The class might debate the politics, as well as the poetry generated only from a single point of view? The first and last seem contradictory to what university is supposed to be about. The second seems rather questionable when discussing poetry, as well, though perhaps defensible.

Regardless, I'm less outraged by all this than many, but it's certainly worthy of note and thought and query and followup.

5/16/2002 09:29:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, May 15, 2002
THE EVER BRILLIANT GARRY WILLS talks about pedophilia and the Church.

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OBLIGATORY LUCAS-SWIPE: David Denby doesn't get Star Wars.
When the first "Star Wars" movie came out, in 1977, many of us admired it as an enormous spoof. Despite some startlingly fresh elements—enchanted landscapes, a bestiary of snouted, furred, and beaked creatures gurgling in Urdu—the movie felt like a joking homage to "Buck Rogers" and "Flash Gordon." The white-suited mugs running up and down corridors with their little ray guns; the high-school-cafeteria banter between Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford; the elocutionary stiffness of the serious moments; the stoically fourth-rate actors in minor roles—how else could one take such scenes except as intentionally banal?
This is, mind, praise from him. Later, the Force help us, he also really likes Attack of the Clones:
"Star Wars: Episode II—Attack of the Clones" is much better, though the plot is incomprehensible to anyone over the age of fourteen.

I was 9 years old when 2001 came out, and I persuaded my father to take me to the public premiere in Manhattan.

And after the picture ended, I ended up, shortly after conversations started, first in the seats, and then repeated in the lobby, surrounded by a crowd of baffled grownups as I explained what was obvious:

No, you see, the monolith was an device/tool/entity of the Aliens, who advanced the evolutionary development of the hominids by giving them the use of the tool.

Later, when the signal to the aliens was set off by the monolith on the moon, Bowman ended up being taken into a Star Gate that sent him countless lightyears from our solar system -- that's what was happening to him -- and then he was put in a habitat by the Aliens, and then evolved into a future development of Man, and he then returned to earth as the Star-Child/embryo.

It's simple, guys!

Today, endless people still don't know basic sf tropes, can't read it, and can't understand it visually. Even simple-ass adventure stories like Attack of the Clones. Someone find a nine-year-old to explain it to David Denby. See, David, the Jedi are good guys, and the Sith are bad guys....

5/15/2002 10:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BUST A GUT and then get a clown to fix it. Lileks goes after the real Patch Adams. Have a non-clown physician stand by.
Doc, my gut hurts; I think the appendix burst.

“Concentrate on my oversized shoes! Don’t you feel better?”

No - in fact I can literally feel the poison spreading through my body -

“That’s not poison! That’s what we call Mr. Angry’s Owie Juice, and nothing sops it up like a novelty chicken. Here! Stuff this down your pants!”

No, really, for chrissakes, Doc, it’s like a spear -

“Okay. I’ll give you an X-ray.”

Doc, those are glasses you got out of a comic book.

"I know! Now listen carefully, because I’m going to throw my voice so it sounds like it’s coming out of your appendix. Oh! I am burst! I am full of Mr. Angry’s Owie Juice! I’m like the family dog - I need to be taken out before I make a mess on the carpet!” (Doctor sticks tongue out, imitates panting dog)"

Doc, I am going to throw my fist so it sounds like it’s coming out of your ass if you don’t - cut - me - open - NOW. I don’t want to hear about the healing power of laughter. I want to hear about the healing power of FIFTY FRICKIN' CCs OF MEDICINAL MORPHINE.


Democracy is all about distrust. Everyone is guilty, but some are guiltier than others, and only by exposing the guiltiest of the guilty can the less guilty take power and reveal the truth to us all - namely, that they are utterly without sin, and utterly pure in their intention, and utterly unique in human history and thus qualified to remake humanity to their specifications. Just like Jesus, but with less God and more State.

Dear god, let me never piss off Lileks. And thanks to him that he uses his power for good, not evil. (See Batman quote on left, taken from a Sixties panel I'd love to have an image of.)

5/15/2002 09:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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7 WORLD TRADE: de plans, de plans!
Providing the first public glimpse of plans to replace the destroyed 7 World Trade Center, architects for Larry A. Silverstein said yesterday that the new building would be a transparent, "light-emanating shaft" designed as a gateway to the planned World Trade Center memorial and other buildings that are expected to be built there.
Taller, prettier, better. Read the details if you like. (Reader Kevin Maroney also noted this.)

5/15/2002 09:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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COMMUTER WAR: Enlightening piece on a Palsar commando group fighting in Tulkarm; lengthy, and getting inside their heads, as well as following the operation, and pros and cons of the mission. I recommend it.

5/15/2002 08:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EGO-RANKING: Finally checking, I see that out of the "about 5,200,000" listings for "Gary" on Google, I'm #39.

Considering that a number of those ahead of me are for the entire city of Gary, Indiana, I'll take it. I don't expect to be remotely as well-known as it, or Gary Condit, or Rep. Gary Ackerman, or Gary Gygax.

More stunning to me is that, out of "about 151,000," I'm the fourth entry for "Farber." Number one is, unsurprisingly, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. I'm listed higher than the once quite well-known radio host Barry Farber.

In my sights: David J. Farber of the U of Penn., and photographer Robert Farber. And then: top of the world, Ma!

Naturally, I've been the number one entry for "Amygdala" for quite some time. I Am Your Brain.

5/15/2002 08:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JACK-BOOTED FASCIST THUGS OF THE STATE enforce their so-called "Constitution" and its un-Constitutional Amendments. They have the nerve to claim that there's an income tax! And that "judges" can enforce it!
As Mr. Thompson was handcuffed and taken to jail, where he could be held indefinitely, he said, "I was supposed to have a hearing."

He added, "Good grief, this is not right."

Good grief. No Snoopy dance for Thompson.

5/15/2002 07:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PAGING LILEKS: Image galleries and more:
Welcome to Vintage Labels - a site dedicated to the history and lost art of the luggage label as visualized by the world's hotels, airlines, railroads and oceanliner companies.
And who hasn't wondered mightily about the History of The Luggage Label? It carries a lot of baggage, you know.

5/15/2002 06:33:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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RATE THOSE MEOWS: I tend to avoid cat stories, but this is sufficiently interesting.
Cornell Researcher Seeks to Prove How Cats Manipulate People

While domestic cats may not know language, a study suggests the animals, which have lived alongside people for thousands of years, have adapted their "meows" to better communicate with humans.

"Cats are obviously very dependent on people for their needs," says Nicholas Nicastro, a graduate student who is working under psychology professor Michael Owren at Cornell University's Psychology of Voice and Sound Laboratory. "I think cats have evolved to become better at managing and manipulating people."

One way Nicastro is trying to prove that idea is by analyzing a range of vocalizations of domestic cats and then screening people's reactions to them. To compare his results, he's working on doing the same based on the calls of wild cats.

And found they sound much harsher to people. Mrow?

Meanwhile, clever rats have learned about cats' sucess, and taken to drink.

Brian Smith and scientists at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada have discovered that intelligent rats who learned to navigate a maze easily also developed into heavy drinkers.

Clever rats drank more alcohol when they were given it over a five-day period that the less intelligent rodents.

Studies do not yet reveal if they prefer or avoid name brand.

5/15/2002 06:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ZIONIST AL JAZEERA: Regarding that, Reader Paul Graf suggests:
The precipitating cause of the ban was al Jazeera's critical coverage of Bahrain's upcoming (this week, I think) elections for local offices and their newly-formed legislature. There are two very important things about this election. First, and least important, women are being permitted to vote. Second, and much more important, women are being permitted to run for all elective offices, right across the board. The Wahabiites who pay the freight for al Jazeera didn't think much of either idea and that was the station's slant. That being the case, the King (until recently the Emir) had them banned.
I've not had time to check on this, but it makes sense, unlike the wacky line from the Information Minister (a title I'm contemplating adding to my resume, by the way).

5/15/2002 05:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GIVE TO THE BLOGGER OF YOUR CHOICE: Matt Welch is one of the best there is, and he can use your financial help, as can another of the best, Dr. Frank. If you feel like hitting my PayPal button at the top left, immense appreciation, as I'm in straits -- or be the first person ever to subscribe, for a modest $5/month. If you feel like helping out Matt and Dr. Frank, instead, or as well, also great. Support your global micropress, and we'll be the gift that gives back.

Special Amygdala Bribe Program: for $25, we'll decide that you are, for a limited time, Right on the issue of your choice, and we'll make an entry to support you!

I think I'm just kidding. But maybe not. :-)

5/15/2002 04:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LEGGO, AND BUILD YOURSELF a Lego Persona. Neat! (Also via Boing Boing.)

5/15/2002 01:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAYBE I FORGET, but this theory of memory doesn't seem so original to me, but rather right in keeping with everything else being demonstrated about memory in recent years.
Memory Isn't "Lost," Just Out Of Sync


The medical researchers suggest that objects occur in your memory by uniting together the different brain regions that make up various parts of the object you are trying to remember. For example, the memory of a dog includes uniting smell, sound, appearance and name.

By measuring the electrical rhythms that parts of the brain use to communicate with each other, the team of researchers showed that when the memory of a dog occurs, the thalamus, an important region of the brain that connects areas together, actually regulates the rhythms that connect brain regions. "Memory appears to be a constructive process in combining the features of the items to be remembered rather than simply remembering each object as a whole form," Dr. Slotnick explained. "The thalamus seems to direct or modulate the brain's activity so that the regions needed for memory are connected."

"It appears that the electrical signals synchronize the brain regions that store each part of an object's memory so that those areas are connected," Dr. Hart, the study's senior author, continued. "This co-activation of brain regions likely represents the memory of the object itself. It may also explain why we may remember something clearly, and other times we can only come up with parts of the item we are trying to remember. Many times we say 'you know, it has humps, it lives in the desert ...' This may occur when the rhythms don't synchronize with the regions properly. It could also explain why the memory will come to you at a later time."

Wait, did I already post about this?

5/15/2002 01:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GETCHER NUCLEER BOMB ART here, straight from the manufacturer. (Via Boing Boing.) Warning: ability to obtain actual devices may still be subject to reasonable restriction even under individual rights model of 2nd Amendment.

5/15/2002 01:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BIASES OF THE NY TIMES are addressed by the editor of NYC's Jewish Week. Excerpt:
As I’ve written here before, whether or not the Times (and the mainstream media in general) has an inherent bias, which I do not believe, there are certain journalistic traits that translate into negative coverage for Israel. For example, journalists tend to look for conflict, favor the underdog (in this case the Palestinians), present photo images that create empathy for the less-armed side and, most important, obsess on symmetry rather than history or context.

So in the name of objective reporting, Israeli retaliations against armed militants are juxtaposed and equated with terrorist attacks on women and children. Or as Mort Zuckerman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, puts it so well, the press tends to equate the arsonist and the firefighter.

The lack of moral equivalency in the press — suggesting, as the Times does often in its editorials, that Sharon’s use of military force is as wrong as Arafat’s use of children as homicide bombers — is exasperating. But we need to respond, not turn away. Thoughtful letters of complaint should be written to the editors; phone calls, e-mails and, if possible, meetings with newspaper executives pointing out the immorality of balance serve a purpose, too.

It’s difficult to keep perspective, especially when we are upset, but it’s important. When I was in Israel last week, I participated in a symposium at Tel Aviv University on “Israel in the Eyes of the Media,” and there was little outcry against the American press. And when I met with several top officials in the Foreign Ministry who monitor the world press, their response to American Jewry’s complaints about press coverage was, “let them read just about any newspaper in Europe, any day, and they’ll see real bias.” By comparison, officials felt the American press was relatively balanced.

Frank Rich also has some largely sensible comments. He also in passing mentions why there isn't the faintest contradiction between being a conservative Christian overwhelmingly politically supportive of Israel, and yet someone who believes Jews will burn in hell unless they are converted, a fact which some bloggers find incomprehensible, despite such people being not uncommon (hello, Billy Graham). Not, of course, that such conservative Christians, I stress, are more than a distinct minority in conservative Christian America.

Rich also demonstrates that he's a completely crazed left-wing oblivious Jew, as well:

The real issue is not whether Israel has friends in America, or which of Israel's friends declares that love most fulsomely, but which friends will be most valuable in safeguarding Israel's survival. I can speak only for myself, but given the field right now, what hope I have is with the Bush administration.
Unsurprisingly, points, by the way, for correct use of "fulsome."

I don't at all, incidentally, agree with everything either writer here says, but neither are any of us extreme left-wingers, or exactly insensitive to anti-semitism and lack of support for Israel. Those who dismiss us as such say more, I'm afraid, about their own extremism than ours.

5/15/2002 12:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BRUCE STERLING TALKS STAR WARS on the NY Times op-ed page. Where else?

5/15/2002 11:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MARTIAN CHRONICLES: Hazards of Mars discussed.
The windblown dust of Mars may contain one of the most toxic chemicals known, the cancer-causing hexavalent chromium.
Or maybe not. Better weather than Venus, anyway. And nicer picnic grounds.

5/15/2002 11:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE DR. IS IN. He always is. What he said.

Also check out this. And I'll just quote this little bit from below:

According to the BBC, the UN has taken great care to make its new weapons inspection team (the "UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission") a "much more palatable organisation for the Iraqis to deal with." Among the new measures was apparently an extensive course of sensitivity training, which UNSCOM lacked: all members of UNMOVIC "have been briefed on how to avoid offending the cultural sensitivities of the Iraqi people."

I don't know about you, but I feel safer already.

Who wouldn't?

And in my last bit of catching up, Dr. Frank spotted this eye-popping news:

Bahrain has banned al Jazeera TV, accusing the station of being biased towards Israel. Information Minister Nabil al-Hamr explains:
"We believe (Al Jazeera) is suspect and represents the Zionist side in the region. We will not deal with this channel because we object to its coverage of current affairs. It is a channel penetrated by Zionists."
Cheez it, gang, our plot has been discovered! Oh, no, what to do now that Al Jazeera won't be able to supply such effective Zionist propaganda?

Stanley Kramer was right. It's a mad, mad, mad, you know, world. And the best response is to laugh.

5/15/2002 12:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A-S IN AMERICA: God, I'd like to ignore this stuff. I try to take a break from it, but it pops up nearly every minute in the news. And a lesson I learned as a child reading on the history of anti-semitism, racism, and persecution, is that you can try to ignore it, but that won't make it ignore you. Better to know your enemy.
Reflecting the rising tensions in the Middle East, vandalism, verbal taunts, racial slurs and harassment targeting the Bay Area's Arab American and Jewish communities reportedly have been escalating in recent weeks.

"Things had really quieted down. Then about three weeks ago, the phone started ringing again every day with reports of various incidents," said Jill Tregor, executive director of the Intergroup Clearinghouse, a network based in San Francisco that tries to combat hate violence and help its victims.

"Some of them were directly and clearly related to events in the Middle East," she said.

A recent fire at the Beth Jacob Synagogue in Oakland and the destruction last month of the predominantly Palestinian Antiochian Orthodox Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos Hills -- both arson, authorities believe -- have fueled suspicion and resentment between Jews and Arabs. No arrests have been made.

Nor have there been any arrests in an attempted arson in March at Congregation Beth Israel-Judea on Brotherhood Way in San Francisco. [...] [The ADL} has cataloged more than 40 hate-related incidents since January, twice the number reported in all of last year. San Francisco is also the only one of the league's 30 regional offices to see such a jump, he said.

From Marin to Santa Cruz to Sacramento, there have been bomb threats at schools, swastikas painted on buildings, thefts of mezuzahs -- Jewish scrolls - - and at least one physical attack on a Jewish man wearing a head covering called a kippah, Bernstein said. Only a handful of cases have been reported to police.

They have more.

There's a guy at the place I'm presently working who keeps making ambiguously odd remarks to me about my being from NYC, and my need to connect with my "homeboy," who works there, whom he's consistently mentioned is a Jew from NYC (the only other one there).

It belatedly occurs to me that my bitter little remarks (who, me?) about passing were half-right, at best. Although I don't show obvious signs like a kippah/yamulke, I also don't fall far outside of a Jewish stereotype of appearance, and my name is a pretty typical "Jewish name."

Perhaps I am indeed just paranoid to have personal worries regarding the way Colorado is not exactly a hotbed of Jewry.

It would be very nice indeed to not have such worries.

5/15/2002 12:24:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FISH-BARREL: Must mention that Robert Fisk feels very sorry for himself. It's simply tragic.

And, gosh, look who shows up in so many footnotes in noted Saudi commentator, David Duke's work of art. All part of our insidious Mossad conspiracy, of course.

5/15/2002 12:04:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, May 14, 2002
Connected to but sender was rejected.
Remote host said: 553 5.3.0 ... Service Unavailable - Excessive Spam
You may or may not want to fix this. Of course, since I was writing you to tell you I'd linked to you, you're doubtless not reading this. Do you have a pigeon mail drop that is, perhaps, usable? Blimp address? Particular ocean I should throw a bottle into?

5/14/2002 11:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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The president is a strong supporter of the four-decade-old American trade embargo against Cuba. His stance has won him the devotion of a large swath of the Cuban-American community, without which he probably would not have won the state of Florida, and the presidency, in 2000.
Perspectives vary on this point. It seems more than a tad odd to not at least glancingly allude to there being any question about that "winning Florida" idea. Just more of that leftist Times bias, I guess.

(Point: contrary to the auto-assumption of various rightist bloggers, I've never ever said anywhere that I thought the Times was "unbiased." I, in fact, don't think such a thing is possible. I've yet, however, to blog on how I think the Times expresses its biases, but let's say that I don't believe it's a simple bias to the "left" or "right.")

Here, by the way, is one of those "other" things Huddleston, and her little dog, Toto, too, did:

The top American diplomat in Cuba, Vicki Huddleston, has enraged Cuban officials by distributing short-wave radios that can tune in Radio Martí, an American government broadcast.
Pretty evil American manipulation, that. Horrors!

5/14/2002 11:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A-S IN AMERICA: Meryl Yourish has been covering the near-riot of anti-semitism at San Francisco State University here and above. Check out the letter from Laurie Zoloth, the Director of the Jewish Studies Program, and the rest, please. Find out why Meryl writes "Things like this don't just make me sick. They make me afraid to be a Jew. Americans need to wake up and stop this kind of hatred."

This ain't "Euro-bashing."

Sample from Zoloth's letter:

But the police could do nothing more than surround the Jewish students and community members who were now trapped in a corner of the plaza, grouped under the flags of Israel, while an angry, out of control mob, literally chanting for our deaths, surrounded us. Dr. Astren and I went to stand with our students.

This was neither free speech nor discourse, but raw, physical assault.

Was I afraid? No, really more sad that I could not protect my students. Not one administrator came to stand with us. I knew that if a crowd of Palestinian or Black students had been there, surrounded by a crowd of white racists screaming racist threats, shielded by police, the faculty and staff would have no trouble deciding which side to stand on. In fact, the scene recalled for me many moments in the Civil Rights movement, or the United Farm Workers movement, when, as a student, I stood with Black and Latino colleagues, surrounded by hateful mobs. Then, as now, I sang peace songs, and then, as now, the hateful crowd screamed at me, "Go back to Russia, Jew." How ironic that it all took place under the picture of Cesar Chavez, who led the very demonstrations that I took part in as a student.

There was no safe way out of the Plaza. We had to be marched back to the Hillel House under armed SF police guard, and we had to have a police guard remain outside Hillel.

How, in the face of this, can one not be skeptical of the Left, as well as the Right? How can one not, as a Jew, experience fear, anxiety, and depression? And, yes, many of us feel a need to express that. Even if it makes us "shrill" and "paranoid" to some. That's, you know, not at the top of my personal list of concerns, I'm afraid.

5/14/2002 10:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Describing the latest arms control agreement with Moscow to reporters on his plane here, Secretary Powell inadvertently referred to the "Soviets," before smiling and correcting himself, saying, "When you're as old as I am. . . ."

Secretary Powell noted that the current point of tension between the United States and Russia was not the arms race but Russian barriers to American poultry imports.

"I am more worried about chickens going back and forth than missiles going back and forth," he said. "This is good."

I had "duck and cover" drills as a kid. Yeah, it's good.

5/14/2002 10:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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EXPERIMENTALLY, Tanny Bear is meta-blogging. Sample multiple blogs at the same time! How much is too much? You decide.

5/14/2002 09:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THAT LIKUD VOTE: Justin Weitz explains from a not terribly dovish stance some of why it was stupid:
You were not asked to endorse parameters for peace or boundaries for a future state. You were simply asked to approve a concept, an idea which is a fundamental part of the peace process and of the Likud Party's mission: peace with security. If you can't approve a Palestinian state, you can't approve peace. If you can't approve peace, your lot will fall in the eyes of the Israeli public. Diplomatic posturing aside, most Israelis want a peaceful, secure, two-state solution. You must deliver it, or your party will be condemned.
There, another link to a new blog, and I didn't even ask them to hit my Paypal button, though, of course, I always stand ready to be retroactively bribed.

No, that's not right!

I sit ready.

5/14/2002 09:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JEWISH GENEOLOGY: Make of this what you will. One bit:
The earlier study, led by Dr. Michael Hammer of University of Arizona, showed from an analysis of the male, or Y chromosome, that Jewish men from seven communities were related to one another and to present-day Palestinian and Syrian populations, but not to the men of their host communities.

The finding suggested that Jewish men who founded the communities traced their lineage back to the ancestral Mideastern population of 4,000 years ago from which Arabs, Jews and other people are descended. It pointed to the genetic unity of widespread Jewish populations and took issue with ideas that most Jewish communities were relatively recent converts like the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that embraced Judaism.

And so today the sons and daughters of Abraham fight.

5/14/2002 12:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BAD BOOKSTORE CLERKS are mocked by the Grauniad.
At Foyles, the book-lover's bookshop, I approach the counter with a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses. "I bought this book the other day," I say, "and I want my money back. It's full of typing errors and there's no punctuation."
And where are the bloody Greeks?

5/14/2002 11:54:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE PHYSICS OF SPIDER-MAN is discussed by Wil McCarthy.

5/14/2002 11:32:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Watch where you point that finger, kid. It might be loaded.

5/14/2002 11:27:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARAB AUTOCRACY: discussed.

Quite right, all this, of course.

5/14/2002 11:24:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, May 13, 2002
THE IDENTITY THING is spiffily addressed here:
Studies have shown that people create identity and self-esteem by associating with -- or at least relating to -- groups or organizations they view as positive. But your feelings about a group or organization you reject may be equally important for how you view yourself, researchers say.

"What we were interested in was how negative perceptions of an organization or a company can cause people to work against that company -- not buy their product, boycott them, not work for them, or speak out against them," says Kimberly Elsbach, formerly a professor at Emory University and now with the University of California at Davis. "And there's a theory -- social identification -- that says that the groups or companies or friendship groups we associate with help us to identify who we are.

"So if I say I'm against the National Rifle Association [NRA], then that defines me as a non-member and that identifies me as an individual," Elsbach explains. "So we used how people felt about the NRA to look at how people identify themselves by who they 'disidentify' with."

That's hardly all there is to it, of course. I've also thought a lot about this since my last addressing of the topic, but will have to be more awake to write that up. One point I considered was how much identity is contributed to by having that aspect of one's self feel threatened or attacked; that seems a quite powerful factor for many. Interestingly,
The survey found the strongest negative feelings among the people who knew the least about the NRA.

"People who have limited experience and exposure to the organization, those who really don't have any personal experience of the organization, or those who felt that the organization would hurt their reputation with their friends, and people who feel like the values of the organization conflict with their own, are most likely to 'disidentify' with the NRA," Elsbach says.

"So they saw the NRA as a bunch of rednecks toting guns and they didn't know anyone who belonged and they had no personal experience of the organization," she says. "In fact, these people tended to have a very narrowly defined, stereotypical view of the organization."

What was also interesting about the finding, she adds, was that "people did not necessarily have to have some personal negative experience with an organization to 'disidentify.'"

"In fact, it was the very opposite -- they had no experience and that suggests that the stereotype is the most important predictor of 'disidentification,'" she says.

This surprises me as much as the news that Microsoft can be a bully. Oh, wait, I know something about them. (Link via George Kelly.)

5/13/2002 11:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LIBERAL BLOGOSPHERE suggestions made by George Kelly.

5/13/2002 11:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOD CRITICISM is damned important, Matt Welch eloquently points out in commenting on a critique of Gore Vidal.

Matt's also right about Cuba (which he's reported on at length), but, then, Matt is almost always right.

5/13/2002 11:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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First, Kelly v. Arriba gives you carte blanche to pepper the site with thumbnails — but if you want to put a full-size version on the site, you should ask for permission, even if you're just linking viewers to someone else's URL.

And it also means that if your deep links to other sites are somehow deceptive, the site could be in legal trouble. That could apply if the links to climbers' journals pop off into a separate browser and are framed to look like your own original material, or if the new browser shows your site's ads — even if, again, you're just linking viewers to someone else's URL.

And finally, it means people should take little for granted as long-established copyright law continues to collide with the Internet. When is a link a copy, and when is it just a link?

Is a link ever just a cigar? What we do know: a horse is a horse, of course, of course.

5/13/2002 09:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOODBYE, $190 BILLION, but thank goodness the mohair subsidy is preserved. So much for the free market and cutting back on farm subsidies.
Many of his aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that signing the bill was painful for a president who came to office promoting a government commitment to free markets. But one senior official traveling with Mr. Bush here today said it would have been "political suicide in the November election" to stand in the way of farm-state politicians who demanded huge increases in federal support after years of declining farm prices.

Republicans said in 1996 that the United States would spend far less on agricultural subsidies in coming decades. But the measure Mr. Bush signed into law today increased spending by nearly 80 percent over the cost of existing programs even though the budget deficit this year was likely to exceed $100 billion.

Mr. Bush called on lawmakers to show fiscal restraint, but the White House, aware that Republican victories in agricultural states could win back control of the Senate, made little effort to scale back the spending in this bill.

Mr. Bush also attended a fund-raiser for Jim Ryan, the Illinois attorney general who is running for governor.

"When we bring some fiscal discipline to Washington," Mr. Bush assured the audience, the revived federal budget deficits will come down.

This will happen in the year 2300, when the name of our country will be changed to "never-never land." At risk of being partisan, wasn't there some President in recent history who actually brought down the federal budget deficit until it was a large surplus? Not that he deserves any credit, of course; it was all just dumb luck. Same for that booming economy being unrelated; thank goodness we now instead have a huge tax cut that mostly goes to the extremely wealthy: that's far more important than silly deficits.

I say we get us one of them big-time lobbyists, and get us a blogging subsidy. Why not? It's the American way.

5/13/2002 09:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE CUBAN DOG decision is the important one currently in the news.
Last month, the top U.S. diplomat based in Havana, Vicki Huddleston, and her prized Afghan hound, aptly named Havana, received a "dishonorable discharge" from the local dog club. It was a major blow, since the 14-month-old dog has already proved herself a champion on the local dog show circuit.

Nevertheless, the president of Cuba's National Association of Afghan Hounds, said in a letter she was "morally obligated" to throw Havana and her diplomat-owner out because of America's "40 years of subversive activity" on the island.

The president of the club, Amalia Castro — no relation to the country's president — said although the club was a nongovernmental organization, it was sympathetically and ideologically aligned with the government.

Castro's letter also criticized Huddleston for inviting human rights activists to her house for lunch (calling them "counterrevolutionaries") and took her to task for other "activities too numerous to mention."

But Huddleston thinks there might have been another reason for the discharge. "I suspect this lady who had Afghans wanted to get rid of the competition," she said.

There's more to the story than the sinister Afghan connection. Is there a Cuban/al Queda connection via Afghans? Are some species of dogs more revolutionary than others? Are cats more revolutionary, or counter-revolutionary than dogs? So many questions.

In another act of enlightment, Cuba is cutting off all phone communication with the US.

5/13/2002 09:10:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMBIGUOUS TAP-DANCING is what this decision on COPA, Child Online Protection Act, the replacement for the Communications Deceny Act, is.
The ACLU also said the community standards idea would force legitimate website operators to self-censor, for fear of running afoul of someone's idea of what is inappropriate for children.

The Bush administration endorsed use of such a national standard. The case is Ashcroft v. ACLU, 00-1293.

There will be more stories and analysis, of course, but then we see what the appeals court says again before we revisit SCOTUS. Another year or two, in other words. Here's Linda Greenhouse's take.

5/13/2002 08:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GET A MOOD PROFILE based on colors. Except: I already know my mood. It only takes a few seconds, though, and this is pretty correct:
At this time you are feeling 'uptight' and you are urgently in need of rest and relaxation; but perhaps even more than that you need to overcome that feeling that you have been 'hard done by' and treated with a complete lack of consideration. Maybe you have, but whatever may have been the cause of your inherent anxiety, you regard the situation as intolerable. Your are, however, sufficiently competent to turn that situation around - you have overcome similar problems in the past, and really this one isn't too different.

You are experiencing considerable difficulty trying to achieve your goals. As a consequence of this you are becoming more and more irritable. Your friends and acquaintances are finding it increasingly more difficult to appease or to reason with you. You are the cause of your own problems. Don't be so impulsive. It is your vacillation that can lead to problems and uncertainties. Ease up a little.

You are a dreamer and you seek perfection in any relationship that you may establish. Some of your ideas and standards are over the top so it may be a good idea to review your perception of life and accept people for what they are - not for what you would like them to be.

Nobody seems to understand you at this moment for everything you suggest or do seems to be taken up the wrong way. All of this misunderstanding is leading to anxiety and stress. The situation naturally is not as you would like it to be - you feel that you are being treated most unfairly and that trust, affection and understanding are being withheld from you and that you are being treated with a demeaning lack of consideration. You consider yourself being denied the appreciation essential to your well being and self-esteem and that there is nothing you can do about it. You feel that whatever you try to do to change the situation, you are getting nowhere fast. You would really like to get away from it all but can't find the energy or the strength of mind to make the necessary decision.

The tensions and stresses that you have experienced of late have been the result of trying to cope with conditions which are really beyond your capabilities. You feel completely inadequate to cope with the situation and you would like nothing better to escape from it all and to be able to relax in a problem and pressure free environment where you can do your thing.

You wish to be left in peace... no more conflict and no more differences of opinion. In fact you just don't want to be involved in arguments of any shape or form. All you want is for 'them' to get on with it - and to leave you alone.

Not perfect, but reasonably close to my present mood. Hope yours is better!

5/13/2002 08:34:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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