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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

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

Monday, September 30, 2002
TELL IT TO THE JUDGE: Yakima, Washington courts will accept e-mailed excuses as to why you don't deserve that traffic ticket. Here's a possible response:

First, I must solicit your confidence in this transaction. This is by virtue of its nature as being utterly confidential and top secret.I got your contact in my private search for a reliable person to handle this transaction. We shall base this transaction on mutual respect and honesty.

We are top officials of the Federal Government Contract Review Panel who are interested in importation of goods into our country with funds which are presently trapped in Iraq. It was during the course of arranging for payment of the sum of US$26,400,000.00 (Twenty Six Million, Four Hundred Thousand US. Dollars) in return for 33 lbs (Pounds) of richy-rich Uranium that I received my parking ticket.

As you are a trust-worthy individual, being a Judge, I will transfer one-quarter (1/4) of this sum to your personal account, in return for the remission of this Ticket. Adequate logistics and strategies had been worked out to ensure a successful transfer with your maximum co-operation. Hence we are writing you this letter. Please respond as soon as your Excellency is managable via e-mail. We are looking forward to doing business with you and solicit your confidentiality in this transaction. I will bring you into the complete picture of this project when I have heard from you.

Yours Faithfully,

Dr. Edward Amukpe

P.S: If you know where I might purchase some klytrons, please let me know most pronto-est. The essence of our transactionalism is speed.

I hope the judges are ready for many such responses.

9/30/2002 06:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HEY, WHERE IS THAT THING GOING? New technology to redirect military missiles going astray.
The new system, confusingly known as automatic target acquisition (ATA), allows a human to intervene if the missile appears to be going astray. It is already being fitted to the US Navy's SLAMER missiles, which in many respects work like a smaller version of a cruise missile.


ATA-equipped SLAMERs carry an infrared video camera that sends pictures back to the plane that launched the missile. The pilot will see if the missile is heading for the wrong target and redirect it.

But the missiles do not always need the pilot: they can select their own targets if communication with the aircraft is lost. By comparing the images from an onboard infrared camera with images provided by mission planners they can locate small targets in a cluttered environment.

For those who recall when we accidentally missiled Bulgaria instead of Serbia, or accidentally hit Pakistan instead of Afghanistan, it's nice to think there will be a little less of that. It's so awkward to explain, and it's impolite.

9/30/2002 06:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE TWO TOWERS TRAILER is viewable via RealAudio bootleg, despite being officially available only on AOL so far. If that link fails, try others here.

9/30/2002 06:21:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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INCINERATING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE: not what I want to put in my appointment book for Thursday, but Eugene Volokh points out that the option of using deterrence on a nuclear-armed Hussein might require either actually having to follow through on the inherent threat, or surrendering the use of deterrence. As an amateur student of Cold War history and nuclear strategy, I find his logic impeccable, I'm afraid. Arguing for deterrence may not be arguing the option of "peace."

9/30/2002 05:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, September 29, 2002
While the settlement movement claims there has been a steady flow of new settlers into the territories, Central Bureau of Statistics figures indicate that nearly the same number of people are leaving, and most increases in the settlements come from natural growth.

Indeed, the settlement movement's policy nowadays is to prefer to increase its land holdings over increasing the population - hence the emphasis on establishing outposts, each populated by a few people, to prevent Palestinians occupying the land.

During 2000 and 2001, says the CBS data released yesterday, 29,700 people moved into the settlements, but 20,000 moved out. The increase of some 24,400 people was mostly natural growth


The only data showing a rise in the settlements is the number of outposts. Since the Sharon government was established, 56 new outposts have been pitched in the territories, according to Peace Now and Civil Administration data.

Each outpost has a handful of settlers, with the idea behind the outposts being to capture as much land as possible to prevent construction by the Palestinians. Early outposts, like Amana and Hersha, have already become small settlements.

As part of the policy to capture as much land as possible, the main focus of the settlement movement in recent years has been the construction of industrial zones, gas stations, landscaped parks, motels, and water towers, especially along roads. Most of the outposts and other construction was coordinated with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and top officers in the IDF.

The only logic to support such a policy is either an ultimate goal of transfer, or at the very least, of eliminating any possibility of a remotely viable, contiguous, Palestinian state. Need I say I think this is unwise?

9/29/2002 10:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KILO IS SUCH A FUZZY TERM, DON'T YOU THINK?: This helps explain why this has not been reported on in major US news outlets, which I'd been wondering about.
The refined uranium caught by Turkish police Saturday weighed far less than originally thought, an official source in southwestern Turkey said Sunday.

It was originally believed that the Turkish paramilitary police had seized over 15 kg of weapons-grade uranium in the operation that also resulted in the detention of two men accused of smuggling the substance. The actual weight of the uranium turned out to be hundreds of grams, a fraction of the initial estimate.

Of course, this is all part of the Conspiracy To Hide The Truth, which is part of the Conspiracy to Hide That It Is A Set-Up For War, which -- oh, wait, never mind.

9/29/2002 07:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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KIDS: THE BLEEDING EDGE OF LOSING RIGHTS: A High School Where the Sensorship Is Pervasive is the LA Times story from three weeks ago.
As Mike Brooder pulls into the student parking lot outside West Hills High School, wireless cameras record his face and license plate--doing the same to every car that follows.

The cameras then track the 17-year-old senior as he walks up a concrete path, studies his schedule, scratches his chin, waves to friends and then wanders to class.

Nearly every move Brooder makes--and every move of his 2,300 classmates--is captured and stored in the campus' database.

Following last September's terrorist attacks and years of school shootings, West Hills High sits on the cutting edge of the emerging surveillance society.

Each bathroom door is monitored. Sensors that detect the smoke of a single match send alerts to campus security.

By Christmas, four more cameras will be installed, and hall monitors will carry wireless computers that can pull up a student's school picture, class schedule and attendance record.

School officials are considering whether to expand the SkyWitness surveillance system by adding facial recognition software that will allow a computer to filter out who should--and who should not--be on campus.


Schools are among the first to embrace new technology, often because companies view campuses as perfect testing grounds before rolling products out to corporate America.


Companies like the fact that students enjoy fewer constitutional protections than adults and have lower expectations of privacy than their parents.


The technology at West Hills relies on advanced hardware, but basic, off-the-shelf technology is already used by both parents and educators to watch kids.

Software programs can take snapshots of every Web page they visit and every e-mail they send.

Devices such as AutoWatch can be popped into an automobile and programmed to record a car's speed, as well as times, dates and the lengths of time it is driven. Cell-phone bills list the calls a student makes and receives.

"You might call it control," said Joe Schramm, head of security at West Hills. "We call it keeping the kids safe."


The project at West Hills also provided the technology companies with a test lab in which to develop and try out a security system that the firms will ultimately market to corporate America and government agencies.


"If you want to stress-test a technology, particularly a security system, a school is a good place," said Trump of National School Safety and Security Services. "Most often, the biggest obstacle a company must overcome is the issue of cost. If [the technology] is free, many schools will be open to it."

Aiding the decision is the fact that minors have fewer rights than adults, said John Pescatore, research director for security at the industry-consulting firm Gartner.

Convenient, isn't it? Now pee in this cup, please.

9/29/2002 05:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'VE ADDED an addendum to my chem/bio weapons piece responding to Bruce Rolston.

ADDENDUM TO THIS: Passing note: at the moment I write this, Blogdex says this is the 26th most-linked post.

Thomas Nephew writes a post paralleling mine. Jim Henley responded to both of us. Bruce Rolston responded to my response. Eugene Volokh posted on the topic and added a link to my piece with a couple of observations on it. Joe Katzman wrote this at Winds of Change. I neglected to mention that Matthew Yglesias quite promptly posted:

After reading Gary Farber's reply to WMD naysayers I think I'm convinced that biowarfare is massively destructive enough to be worried about. [....]
Mathew posted a number of other thoughts. Would anyone like a program, or do you know all the players?

9/29/2002 03:39:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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On a warm evening last month, a young international crowd dressed in T-shirts, tank tops and cargo pants gathered in a storefront at 21 Avenue B, just below Third Street. In the artificial glow of Japanese cartoons on flat screens and blue-tinted fluorescent lights, they drank cold green tea and Kirin beer.

It was a cool hunter's version of a Tupperware party.

By the end of the evening, more than a dozen new products had made their New York debut, including the ScribblePDA, a key-chain accessory that recharges cellphones, and the HSS System, a gleaming metal speaker that can project sound like a ventriloquist into whatever cranny it faces. These directional speakers, made possible by the conversion of sound to ultrasonic signals, free users from moving (or blasting) their equipment to hear music in a different room.

For the digital fast set, it was a perfect night out. "These events are like a magnet, or a catalyst, for an intricate network of people in New York," said Masamichi Udagawa, an industrial designer and a principal in Antenna Design, which created the MetroCard vending machines. The party was held at TKNY, a store and lounge that acts as a clubhouse for a circle of young expatriates, most from Tokyo, working in design and computer technology.

In addition to its products, TKNY imports the Japanese sense of technology as fashion. "Japanese are eager to try and consume new things," said Takehiko Nagakura, associate professor at the M.I.T. School of Architecture and Planning. "Even if they don't have apparent purpose or ultimately don't work or last, in Japan, they might at least have a fashion moment." For the compact/impact crowd, technology is not hardware and software so much as an attitude and lifestyle — a techno-chic version of Andy Warhol's Pop. Think of it as the technology geek's obsession with gadgetry crossed with a post-dot-com-crash emphasis on the practical and playful.

There's a lot more. Check out here, as well. Want, say, a Micro-Pet?

9/29/2002 01:41:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Good news for Muscovites! "There are practically no cases of radioactive watermelons this year," says Andrei A. Buyanov.

All right. Maybe that is practically good news. Then again, it could be worse. Some of the lingonberries here all but glow in the dark.

It is radioactive-produce season in Moscow, and it's a bad one.


If anyone wonders why Moscow needs a corps of atomic food inspectors, the answer is simple: the city lies a bare 415 miles from Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear-power station, which belched a Hiroshima bomb's worth of isotopes into the air when one of its reactors blew apart in April 1986.

If anyone wonders why this task falls to the veterinary service, that answer is simple, too: besides lingonberries and mushrooms, the inspectors are on constant lookout for hot sirloin and pork chops.

Lest this sound alarmist, it should be said that grocery shopping in Moscow is a completely roentgen-free experience (with one exception, noted later), thanks to the vigilance of the atomic food inspectors.


Radioactive-produce season runs roughly from June through October. First come the blueberries and lingonberries, which ripen earlier in Belarus and Ukraine than in Russia. About now come the forest mushrooms. In October it will be glowing-cranberry time.

ObHomerSimpson: Mmm, glowing cranberries. Remember to dilute them!

9/29/2002 01:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, September 28, 2002
NANCY REAGAN, HERO OF SCIENCE: Yeah, that's one you didn't see coming, eh?
Mr. Bush did not cite Mrs. Reagan's current and far more divisive cause -- federal financing for embryonic stem cell research, which anti-abortion groups oppose. Last year Mr. Bush sharply limited such research. At 81, the former first lady is obliquely but persistently campaigning -- through friends, advisers, lawmakers and her own well-placed calls and letters -- to reverse the president's decision.


A Republican legislator recently told Michael Deaver, a Reagan adviser and confidant, that some conservatives contend that Ronald Reagan would never have approved of embryonic stem cell research. Mr. Deaver said he retorted, "Ronald Reagan didn't have to take care of Ronald Reagan for the last 10 years."

Check out what's in between.

9/28/2002 09:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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COUNTY et al. v. EARLS et al.
, in a stunning surprise (not), drug testing in schools is being adopted left and right.


But last month the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy began distributing a guide supporting drug testing in schools.

"Testing has been shown to be extremely effective at reducing drug use in schools and businesses," the government guide said. "As a deterrent, few methods work better or deliver cleaner results."

Oh, piss on it.

9/28/2002 09:25:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR ACCURATE REPORTING or citing of sources, we know. Here's an example of Adam Clymer stumbling badly. The lede:
When President Bush said this week that Senate Democrats were more concerned with union support than with national security, his campaign trail attack hardly broke new frontiers in American political discourse.
But that's not what President Bush said. To quote Ari Fleisher quoting Bush in the White House Press Room:
The House responded, but the Senate is more interested in special interest in Washington and not interested in the security of the American people.
Of course, if you read the transcript, you'll see that Fleisher then repeatedly tried to insist that the President had said what Clymer said he said. So why is Adam Clymer giving the Ari Fleisher revisionist version in his lede, rather than accurately quoting Bush, which, puzzlingly, he goes on to do in the fourth graf?


Nor was it remotely comparable to the invectives like "baby killer" or "imperialist" hurled by liberal anti-Vietnam War lawmakers at Democratic and Republican supporters of the war.
This is simply wildly untrue. Most assuredly innumerable extreme anti-War protestors hurled these words often, but lawmakers? Name three, I challenge Adam Clymer, or anyone else. That wasn't remotely language used by anti-war legislators, and to assert otherwise is an astonishing, and damaging, distortion of history.

The rest of the article I have no quarrel with, other than that it had little to say beyond rehashing the point that invective is not new in American political campaigns, which is less than a major news flash. But this is bad reporting, and it ain't no "liberal slant."

Addendum: Noting that it's phrased "liberal anti-Vietnam War lawmakers at Democratic... supporters," I'm now guessing that this is an editing error, not a factual error. But it's a pretty awful one.

9/28/2002 07:46:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WAIT, THIS IS SO CONFUSING: The Ashcroft-Baghdad Connection. The MKO are good guys: John Ashcroft and Bob Torrecelli and 200 other members of Congress said so. No, wait, they're terrorists! But our terrorists! But not any more! Oh, darn, who do we hate more? Saddam Hussein? Iran? We had this problem in 1980, with that whole pesky Iran-Iraq fracas.

9/28/2002 10:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S OKAY, WE CAN GO TO WAR: Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg say so. So that settles that.

9/28/2002 10:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MPs Shocked At Major Sex Scandal

Political pundits were shocked to learn of ex-Prime Minister John Major's four-year affair with Edwina Currie.

Many expressed surprise that the pair were able to keep the fling a secret from reporters and opposition MPs.

Among them was David Mellor, who was forced to resign from Mr Major's Cabinet after an extramarital affair.

He said history may have been very different if the romp had become public while Mr Major was in office.

Reassuring figure

He added: "Would it have been a good thing for the country if John Major's affair with Edwina Currie, when both of them were married, had been discovered, and John Major had not been committed to continue with his political career?"


Lady Archer, the wife of disgraced Tory peer Lord Archer, said that she was surprised to learn of the affair.

"I am a little surprised, not at Mrs Currie's indiscretion but at a temporary lapse in John Major's taste," she said.

Lord Archer is in such shock, he's announced he will no longer be attending any parties, for the next two-to-four years.

9/28/2002 09:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Turkish Security Forces Uncover Weapons Grade Uranium
Voice of America - 2 hours ago

... seizure comes less than a week after the British government published a report claiming that Turkey's neighbor Iraq has been trying to acquire uranium for a ...

Turkish police: Weapon-grade uranium seized -United Press International - 34 minutes ago


9/28/2002 09:49:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BIOWARFARE AS A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION: NO, REALLY: I've now engaged in two sets of discussions about Gregg Easterbrook's TNR article: in comments to this entry and here.

I was distressed to see the estimable Matthew Yglesias, whom I considerably respect, say:

Gregg Easterbrook makes the excellent point that chemical weapons don't really work [...] Similarly, bioweapons, though they seem to have the potential to cause mass suffering on a scale exceeded only by, well, regular plagues have a record that, in practice, is not very impressive when compared to that of bullets. His argument is that in the case of Iraq it's really only nuclear weapons that we need to be worried about. [...] [the international] bans [on chemical and biological warfare are] not really as well-motivated as one might have thought.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden, one of the most brilliant people I've ever known, and there is no one I respect more, thought Easterbrook's piece "interesting," and apparently took away from Easterbrook that:

biological and chemical weapons are overrated as "weapons of mass destruction."
I observe that Easterbrook's piece is a tissue of misleading falsehoods, omissions, minimalizations, and distortions.

Patrick said of Easterbrook's piece:

It pointed out that, by and large, they haven't been anywhere near as efficient at quickly killing large numbers of people as nuclear weapons are.
Well, yes, what else could kill hundreds of thousands of people in an instant? I wasn't aware that this was even remotely a point anyone needed clarifying.

But, as I pointed out to Matthew Yglesias, influenza killed more people in 1918 than everyone killed in WWI. Without the intentional aid of a single human being. Without any genetic engineering. Without any refining.

Here we see:

Between September 1918 and March 1919, an epidemic of Spanish influenza swept through the United States and the world. The flu virus caused the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans and 25 million people worldwide.
And they had a working flu vaccine.

Here it is said:

The influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 killed more people than the Great War, known today as World War I (WWI), at somewhere between 20 and 40 million people. It has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history.


It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice). An estimated 675,000 Americans died of influenza during the pandemic, ten times as many as in the world war. Of the U.S. soldiers who died in Europe, half of them fell to the influenza virus and not to the enemy (Deseret News). An estimated 43,000 servicemen mobilized for WWI died of influenza (Crosby).

No one has ever said biowarfare could kill even tens of thousands of people in an instant. Or a day. That's not the question. The question is: could biowarfare kill tens, or hundreds, of thousands of people, in a month, or a few months? And the answer is: yes, yes, yes.

Why this is reassuring, I do not understand. What comfort, of any sort, or what information of any value, was in Easterbrook's piece, I'm utterly failing to get. That's why I'm completely puzzled at people citing it as "interesting" and "worthwhile."

What Easterbrook said, in many cases, wasn't true. From his piece:

Chemical weapons are dangerous, to be sure, but not 'weapons of mass destruction' in any meaningful sense.
False. They can, and have, killed hundreds of people at a time. That's "mass" enough for me. Drop ten missiles loaded with the right gas, at the right time and place, and you can kill thousands. That's mass enough for me. Let alone twenty or thirty missiles, or more.

In World War I, casualties from gas were:
Total British Empire: Non-Fatal: 180,597; Deaths: 8,109; Total: 188,706

France: Non-Fatal: 182,000; Deaths: 8,000; Total: 190,000

United States: Non-Fatal: 71,345; Deaths: 1,462; Total: 72,807

Italy: Non-Fatal: 55,373; Deaths: 4,627 60,000

Russia: Non-Fatal: 419,340; Deaths: 56,000; Total: 475,340

Germany: Non-Fatal: 191,000; Deaths: 9,000; Total: 200,000

Austria-Hungary: Non-Fatal: 97,000; Deaths: 3,000; Total: 100,000

Others: Non-Fatal: 9,000; Deaths: 1,000; Total: 10.000

Grand Total: Non-Fatal: 1,205,655; Deaths: 91,198; Total: 1,296,853

If that's not "mass," I don't know what is.

Let's not forget, as well, the other mass use of chemical weapons in war in modern times. Who did that? Oh, yes, Saddam Hussein.

Similarly, biological weapons are widely viewed with dread, though in actual use they have rarely done great harm.
This is a dishonest side-step. It's like declaring in July, 1945, that not a single human being has been killed by a nuclear weapon, so obviously they are not a weapon of mass destruction. I've already dealt, briefly, with why this is an irrelevant point above, and I'll deal below with why it's also false. I'd like to presume Easterbrook isn't deliberately underplaying, but I don't understand why he's making such an irrelevant, and misleading, point that adds up to an (deliberate or not) untruth from one angle, and is outright false from another.
Japanese attempts to use biological weapons against China during World War II were of limited success.
Before making their escape at the time of Japanese surrender, Japanese in Unit 731 set free scores of thousands of infected rats that caused widespread plague in 22 counties of Heilungchiang and Kirin provinces that took more than 20,000 Chinese lives.
Either 20,000 people are "a limited success" and not "mass," or Easterbrook is telling a monstrous lie, whether deliberately or somehow ignorantly.

Note: Here is a statement that

Sheldon Harris, a historian at California State University, in Northridge, estimates that more than 200,000 Chinese were killed in germ warfare field experiments. Hams - author of a book on Unit 731, 'Factories of Death' also says that plague-infected animals were released as the war was ending and caused outbreaks of the plague that killed at least 30,000 people in the Harbin area from 1946 through 1948.
But I'm less sure of these figures.

Easterbrook's piece is full of smaller misleading statements leading up to a terribly untrue set of conclusions which it's important people not believe.

Deliberate, systematic distribution of weapons-grade anthrax in the United States in 2001 killed five people--terrible, but hardly "mass destruction...."
Technically true, it's close to a untruth by omission. He implies that this is somehow relevant to a serious enemy unleashing anthrax in any sort of mass, or even significant, way on a civilian population, but, of course, it was no such thing. It was five letters. Imagine if 5,000, or 50,000, had been mailed out. Which is scarcely a truly unusually huge bulk mailing. Imagine any number of other possible forms of delivery. Worse, imagine a contagious disease being deliberately vectored, which anthrax is not.
Because actual attempts to use bioweapons have been few, it's hard to be sure; but it may well be that, like chemical weapons, biological agents will prove less dangerous than conventional arms, as well as more difficult for armies or terrorists to use.
"It may well be," and "it may not be," and then again, what does this actually mean? Conventional arms have slaughtered hundreds of millions of people in the 20th Century. This is reassuring? And most non-small arms are "difficult" to use; use of an M1 tank is darned "difficult"; not to mention use of an F-117; particularly, kids, don't try planning your own large-scale coordinated aerial bombing raid, or armored division assault, or artillery bombardment, let alone coordinated full-scale all-arms attack, at home.
The phrase "weapons of mass destruction," then, obscures more than it clarifies. It lumps together a category of truly terrible weapons (atomic bombs) with two other categories that are either less dangerous than conventional weapons (chemical arms) or largely an unknown quantity (biological agents).
Not really, no, and no. It lumps together nuclear weapons whose primary effect is instantaneous and kills thousands then, and an order larger over time, with chemical weapons whose primary effect may be an order smaller, or may not, over an hour or several hours, and with biological weapons, whose effect very well could, over a couple of orders of time larger, also be a couple of orders more deadly than nuclear weapons.
This conflation, moreover, muddies the American rationale for military action against Iraq. That rationale should be to prevent Saddam from acquiring atomic weapons. This alone is reason to go to war.
I can't see at all how. I'm sorry, but I'll be just as upset at a hundred thousand, or ten thousand, or one thousand, people killed by biowarfare, as the same number killed by nuclear warfare. I'll also be just as upset at ten thousand, or one thousand, killed by nerve gas.

I won't even be very happy at dozens of missiles with chemical weapons raining down on Israel, or, heck, even Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, or another neighbor of Iraq. I wouldn't even be happy to see it happen to Syria . I'm just funny that way, and think preventing that, if that's what it were to come down to (which is a stipulation, and an entirely separate discusion), sounds like it's a likely candidate for being worth risking war.

Fewer than 1 percent of battle deaths during World War I, the only war in which chemical arms were extensively employed, were caused by gas.
This ignores how horrible it is to have been blinded for life by gas, to have lost most of your lungs, to be scarred for life.

Know why they called it mustard gas?

The most lethal of all the poisonous chemicals used during the war, it was almost odourless and took twelve hours to take effect. Yperite was so powerful that only small amounts had to be added to high explosive shells to be effective. Once in the soil, mustard gas remained active for several weeks.

The skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, the eyes became very sore and they began to vomit. Mustard gas caused internal and external bleeding and attacked the bronchial tubes, stripping off the mucous membrane. This was extremely painful and most soldiers had to be strapped to their beds. It usually took a person four or five weeks to die of mustard gas poisoning. One nurse, Vera Brittain, wrote: "I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke."

But it took twelve hours to take effect, and four or five weeks to die, and lots of victims didn't die, so it's neither truly a "weapon of mass destruction" or a "truly terrible weapon." Check. And that's not getting on to the nerve gasses.
Then there are biological agents. Supposedly these weapons kill very rapidly in huge numbers.
This is a classic straw man argument. No one serious has ever thought that the threat or point, so by knocking down the straw man, we're supposed to learn that bio-agents aren't "weapons of mass destruction," or worth worrying about in the same way as nuclear weapons. But, of course, they could potentially kill far more people than nuclear weapons. Not as rapidly as blast effect, but possibly more quickly, and in larger numbers, than radiation effects.

The same uncertainty of effect that Easterbrook cites in a negative fashion also applies in a positive fashion.

So Easterbrook's argument that bioweapons are not "weapons of mass destruction" or "truly terrible weapons" worth considering as serious a threat as nuclear weapons is utterly false.

And on and on it goes in his piece, with untrue statements, omissions, straw men, and wrong-headed comparisons. I'll bore you to death if I pull each later one apart, if I've not already, so I'll stop here.

In summary: Easterbrook's claim that nuclear weapons are inherently several orders of magnitude more dangerous than biological weapons is false. His claim that chemical weapons aren't serious weapons of mass killing is false. His claim that only nuclear weapons are worth going to war over: well, you'll have to decide for yourself. I don't buy it, myself.

ADDENDUM: Bruce Rolston of the fine Flit, whose military expertise I greatly respect, responds (though I only found it because I happen to read his page; apparently my belief that it's a courtesy to let people know when you link to, mention, or respond to, them, is a rarity in the blogoverse).

Unfortunately, I think in this case Bruce's military perspective steers him a bit wrong, because he chides me for not responding about the tactical utility of these weapons, and because I instead discuss them primarily as weapons of terrorism. Well, yes, I thought it was entirely clear I was doing so. Regrettably, Bruce starts by saying:

Easterbrook is talking about the value of "weapons of mass destruction" as military weapons...."
This is, alas, not borne out by Easterbrook's text. The opposite is the case. Easterbrook introduces us to the topic with his lead graf, saying he is responding to Dick Cheney's statement that:
"These are not weapons designed for the purpose of defending Iraq. These are offensive weapons for the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale."
Which says nothing about "military weapons." Easterbrook continues with numerous more references as to what he aims to refute, specifying eight mentions in the State of the Union message -- none of which refer to "military weapons." He quotes Bush:
In his 2002 State of the Union address, for example, the president stated that the United States would not "permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most dangerous weapons," citing chemical, biological, and atomic arms as equal concerns.
See anything there about Bush only discussing battlefield use? Easterbrook cites 250 articles in the New York Timesand makes no mention of "military weapons." And so on.

That, having introduced the topic of debate as to whether these weapons are useful for "the purpose of inflicting death on a massive scale." and proceeding to his task of attempting to refute that, Easterbrook then slides into the intellectual sidestep -- among others -- of discussing biological and chemical weapons as if battlefield use were the only relevancy as to whether they could be used to "threaten us" -- before then dancing back to discussion of general use of these weapons, leaving behind the odd logic that having critiqued their limitations on the battlefield, that such a critique is relevant to their use against civilian populations -- was one of my main points.

That battlefield use is beside the point of whether chemical and biological weapons can "threaten us" was my point.

Bruce also, regrettably, fails to distinguish that I distinguished between Japan's mass killings of prisoners with biological agents, and the use of biological weapons in the wild in China. So, no, by "Farber's standard, wouldn't we consider the gassing of Jews a successful example of chemical warfare, too?" No.

Bruce says:

Easterbrook says that bioweapons have not yet been successfully militarized... but influenza has killed millions, Farber responds, completely beside the point.
It thought it sufficiently obvious a point that if an epidemic, without the aid of man, can do this, it wasn't necessary to hammer away at the logic that, obviously, a human-aided epidemic might be able to do even worse, or at least as well. And, yes, that seems a worthwhile point to me. That it's besides Bruce's concerns with battlefield use isn't my point.

Bruce concludes that:

The simple counter-argument to Easterbrook, of course, the one that Farber does not make, is that successful battlefield use is not the only criterion anymore.
I thought that was the topic I was addressing from the start, that this was primary to my overall point above. Obviously I wasn't clear enough. I specifically said in the comment I linked to in my lede graf that:
If one wants to argue for the limits of battlefield utility in the modern day of chemical weapons, sure, they are limited as a decisive weapon, without question. Anyone who knows anything about military tactics and procedures knows that.
But I'm guessing Bruce didn't bother to read that, and it's my fault for not having repeated it in the text above, though I was trying to limit my repetitions of myself.

In the end, I can't see anywhere Bruce is actually disagreeing with me, except that he focuses only on Easterbrook's emphasis on the use of these weapons on the battlefield, and my point was that the use of these weapons on the battlefield is scarcely the prime concern.

Passing note: at the moment I write this, Blogdex says this is the 26th most-linked post.

Thomas Nephew writes a post paralleling mine. Jim Henley responded to both of us. Bruce Rolston responded to my response. Eugene Volokh posted on the topic and added a link to my piece with a couple of observations on it. Joe Katzman wrote this at Winds of Change. I neglected to mention that Matthew Yglesias quite promptly posted:

After reading Gary Farber's reply to WMD naysayers I think I'm convinced that biowarfare is massively destructive enough to be worried about. [....]
Mathew posted a number of other thoughts. Would anyone like a program, or do you know all the players?

9/28/2002 03:53:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT WOULD GILES THINK OF SEPTEMBER 11TH?: The Bear knows. (Part of the Buffy blogburst.)

9/28/2002 01:24:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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OCT. 1ST WASN'T TOO LATE: It's the 40th anniversary of the terrible events in Oxford, MS., we're reminded.
The first troops to reach Oxford found over 100 wounded federal marshals at the center of campus, 27 of them hit by civilian gunfire. Packs of hundreds of rioters swarmed the city, some holding war dances around burning vehicles.
Remember? (It wasn't a triumphal moment of libertarianism.)

9/28/2002 01:16:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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According to a recent survey, 81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them -- and that they should write it.
I am so not surprised.

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Friday, September 27, 2002
DICK MORRIS SAYS POLLING is in trouble. Big trouble. Morris goes on to say:
The telephone poll is no longer a credible method of measuring public opinion. In 28 states, the state legislatures have passed laws giving telephone users the right to opt out of receiving telemarketing phone calls, including public opinion surveys. More and more voters are availing themselves of this right and the pickings for telephone polling firms are getting more and more scarce.
I have some personal observations. I've, for cheap, crappy, but available work, done hundreds of hours of telephone political polling in the last year. First of all, I've seen from the inside how unreliable it is, for a wide variety of reasons: badly worded questions, inconsistencies in the interviewers' styles and techniques, tendencies of interviewers to push respondents towards certain results by unconscious stylistic choices of verbal emphasis, sampling bias in the sort of people who agree to sit through the questions, and many more.

Second, in many of the states Morris is talking about, interviewing is exempt from telemarketing bans because it's not telemarketing. I actually thought this was mandated by the First Amendment, since it's not commercial speech, and if it isn't, I'm at a loss as to why it wouldn't be. How can it be against the law to ban speech by making illegal to ask people if they'd like to express their opinion? But I'll cautiously work under the assumption that Morris isn't totally off his ass on this. He further goes on:

Internet polling is growing more reliable every day, except for its blind spot - the 40 percent of Americans who do not go online.


As the opt outs from telephone polling increase and Internet use continues to grow by about 8 percent each year, Internet surveys will become more accurate than telephone interviewing.


The other problem with Internet polling is that it is difficult to get a statewide list of e-names. An essential premise of polling is that each voter must have an equal opportunity to participate.

More than that, it's suppose to be demographically reliable. How it can filter out which people are lying about their demographics, and which are not, I'm not clear on. Perhaps there is some sophisticated mathematical way it can be filtered. All I can say is that I'm going to remain dubious about the accuracy of such Internet polling until I see clear evidence over time that it's reliably accurate. I don't expect that any time soon.

9/27/2002 11:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ROBERT FORWARD died. I'm sorry.

9/27/2002 11:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, it's a little sad, it's a little strange. It's Superman. He likes to be, anyway.

9/27/2002 11:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WAR: WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?: I'm leaning towards this argument of Jacob Weisberg's.

9/27/2002 07:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HITCHENS' LAST Nation column is well worth reading.

9/27/2002 05:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WAR PLANS: I've not posted on any of the recent articles on these, but I'll belatedly note that this one was particularly interesting. Iraq's plans have already been reported on.

9/27/2002 01:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PETER O'TOOLE is interviewed by Roger Ebert at the Telluride Film Festival.
I was in a play in London called 'The Long and the Short and the Tall,' and there was no lavatory in my dressing room. And after the show I was peeing in the sink, which one does, and a voice said, 'Hello, my name is Kate Hepburn and I have come -- Oh dear, oh dear!'
I'm sorry it's not longer.

9/27/2002 10:57:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, September 26, 2002
I HAVE A LOT OF TROUBLE BELIEVING that the Nazis had working anti-gravity. And that the US has had it working and under wraps all this time. I just don't think so.

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P.J. O'ROURKE VISITED CAIRO: I alluded to this when posting a link to this interview, but his article has been posted for a while.

9/26/2002 03:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR: I've seen quite a few people say "I don't really know much about that." So here's a potted tactical history.

About that gas thing?

Late, in March 1986, the UN secretary general, Javier Perez de Cuellar, formally accused Iraq of using chemical weapons against Iran. Citing the report of four chemical warfare experts whom the UN had sent to Iran in February and March 1986, the secretary general called on Baghdad to end its violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol on the use of chemical weapons. The UN report concluded that "Iraqi forces have used chemical warfare against Iranian forces"; the weapons used included both mustard gas and nerve gas. The report further stated that "the use of chemical weapons appear[ed] to be more extensive [in 1981] than in 1984." Iraq attempted to deny using chemicals, but the evidence, in the form of many badly burned casualties flown to European hospitals for treatment, was overwhelming. According to a British representative at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in July 1986, "Iraqi chemical warfare was responsible for about 10,000 casualties." In March 1988, Iraq was again charged with a major use of chemical warfare while retaking Halabjah, a Kurdish town in northeastern Iraq, near the Iranian border.


To avoid defeat, Iraq sought out every possible weapon. This included developing a self-sustaining capability to produce militarily significant quantities of chemical warfare agents. In the defense, integrating chemical weapons offered a solution to the masses of lightly armed Basif and Posdoran. Chemical weapons were singularly effective when used on troop assembly areas and supporting artillery. When conducting offensive operations, Iraq routinely supported the attacks with deep fires and integrated chemical fires on forward defenses, command posts, artillery positions, and logistical facilities.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Iraq developed the ability to produce, store, and use chemical weapons. These chemical weapons included H-series blister and G-series nerve agents. Iraq built these agents into various offensive munitions including rockets, artillery shells, aerial bombs, and warheads on the Al Hussein Scud missile variant. During the Iran-Iraq war, Iraqi fighter-attack aircraft dropped mustard-filled and tabun-filled 250 kilogram bombs and mustard-filled 500 kilogram bombs on Iranian targets. Other reports indicate that Iraq may have also installed spray tanks on an unknown number of helicopters or dropped 55-gallon drums filled with unknown agents (probably mustard) from low altitudes.


In response to Iranian missile attacks against Baghdad, some 190 missiles were fired by the Iraqis over a six week period at Iranian cities in 1988, during the 'War of the Cities'. The Iraqi missile attacks caused little destruction, but each warhead had a psychological and political impact -- boosting Iraqi morale while causing almost 30 percent of Tehran's population to flee the city. The threat of rocketing the Iranian capital with missiles capable of carrying chemical warheads is cited as a significant reason why Iran accepted a disadvantageous peace agreement.


In this battle, the Iraqis effectively used chemical weapons (CW), using nerve and blister agents against Iranian command and control facilities, artillery positions, and logistics points. Three subsequent operations followed much the same pattern, although they were somewhat less complex.

Which is rather different than what you'll read here, as I noted here.

9/26/2002 01:51:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE AFTERMATH QUESTION in Iraq is looked at by James Fallows.

9/26/2002 10:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW TO TELL A NEO-CON FROM A STRAIGHT CON: On the new American Conservative magazine, dear Pat Buchanan says:
Then he quoted from an article in his magazine's just-released premiere issue, which quoted from a column he wrote in 1990: "We are not neo-anything. We are old church and old right. We love the old republic, and when we hear phrases like 'New World Order,' we release the safety catches on our revolvers."

The martial rhetoric failed to frighten William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, who says he's not worried about the new rival mag. "I don't intend to pay much attention to it," he said. "I think Taki is really a kind of repulsive character, and I'm not a huge fan of Pat's, either."

Get a load of the rest.

9/26/2002 08:46:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S GRAND TO KNOW WE'LL BE COMMITTED TO DEFEND BULGARIA and Romania, along with the five other countries being added to NATO. After all, we get the better part of the deal, as we gain their military might and assets, along with that of Latvia. What American isn't prepared to die for Estonia?

Addendum: on the less snotty side, Poland is being useful.

9/26/2002 06:00:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BUT NO DECISION HAS BEEN MADE. It is now law that this phrase be uttered by all US officials related to military matters, as a mantra.
The Pentagon is preparing to train at least 1,000 Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein to serve as battlefield advisers, scouts, guides and translators for American military units during a U.S. attack on Iraq, administration officials said yesterday.

In a further sign of stepped-up administration planning for a military assault, officials said that President Bush could sign a new presidential directive authorizing the training as early as this week, followed by congressional notification of his intent to provide training and equipment already authorized under the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act.

Officials stressed that Bush has not made a final decision. But the Defense Department has started compiling a list of about 1,000 likely recruits, taken from names submitted by Iraqi opposition groups, of those who could assist U.S. units on the ground, as well as provide guards and supervisors for Iraqi government troops in prisoner-of-war camps.

Etc. But a final decision has not been made. Besides, we're going to consult first.

9/26/2002 05:46:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ONE ATTACK, NOT TWO says the judge about the WTC. Larry Silverstein is on his way to getting only $3.5 billion, not $7 billion, though there are more trials and appeals to go.

9/26/2002 05:10:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARAB NEWS PERSPECTIVE on war against Iraq favors it. Remarkable. (Via Joel Rosenberg.)

There's also a fascinating statistical survey of general Saudi attitudes here. (Via me.) The figures for, for instance, "religious observance is as important as it was 50 years ago" are extremely low, even for the "conservatives." On the other hand, the figures for "women's place is in the home" are very high, while "men should consider marrying a girl even if she has had a relationship with a man" extremely low. And the lowest figure for "I always listen to and respect my father's opinion" is 96%, aside from "the disaffected."

Significantly, 36% regularly watch Arab MBC tv, and only 12% Al Jazeera.

9/26/2002 02:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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9/26/2002 02:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AH, ILLINOIS POLITICS: Republican Ryan knifes Republican Ryan and vice versa.

9/26/2002 01:51:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A SAD DAY FOR THE NATION: Christopher Hitchens is leaving The Nation reports Josh Marshall.
We will miss his eloquent and passionate voice and his elegantly crafted prose.
quoth Marshall of the press release. Well the editors of The Nation should, as twas Hitchens who has lent the magazine credibility for many years now, not vice versa. Here's one of his more recent pieces, from September 11th. Here's his most recent. Here's his next-to-last Nation column. One of my greatest points of admiration for Hitchens is his lack of knee-jerkedness.

Addendum: more quotes, including from Alexander "the Jews control discussion of Israel" Cockburn here.

9/26/2002 01:20:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ARAB-ISRAELI HEROS EXIST: Try the rest of this story.
Something about the tall thin man waiting at the bus stop struck Rami Mahamid as suspicious. There was all that dust on his shoes and then there was that big black duffle bag in his hand.

He was a fellow Arab. But Rami, who is 17 and Israeli, thought the stranger was Palestinian, and feared he was a suicide bomber.

What happened next illuminates the problems faced by Israel's Arab minority, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the population of 6.6 million. It may also, perhaps, supply proof that Jews and Arabs can live together here, along with evidence of the suspicions that drive them apart.

If I prayed, I'd pray that it won't be too far in the future that the life of Israeli Arabs won't be complicated.

9/26/2002 12:40:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, September 25, 2002
ARMEY, FOOT, MOUTH: The Majority Leader spoke:
During a round-table discussion for Katherine Harris, Florida's former secretary of state now running for Congress, Armey was asked by a member of the mostly Jewish audience why the Jewish-American community is so divided between liberals and conservatives, according to the Bradenton Herald.

"I always see two Jewish communities in America," Armey was quoted as saying: "One of deep intellect and one of shallow, superficial intellect." He said conservatives have a deeper intellect and "occupations of the brain" like engineering, science and economics.

He said liberals work in "occupations of the heart," which he said were those in the arts.

Armey, who has strong pro-Israel political views, defended his comments Tuesday in a Washington news conference, saying they apply to all liberals.

"Liberals are in my estimation just not bright people. They don't think deeply; they don't comprehend; they don't understand. ... They have a narrow educational base, as opposed to the hard scientists," Armey said.

Armey is a former economics professor at the University of North Texas in Denton, near Dallas.

None of this is surprising, but it's worth noting. Any questions as to which sort of intellect Armey has, typically, displayed here?

9/25/2002 11:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JONAH GOLDBERG USES BUFFY to bash the UN by comparing them to the Watcher's Council. (Link via Joanne Jacobs.)

9/25/2002 06:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUPERMAN VS. WARNER BROS.: This is one version of the ill-fated history of Superman movie projects in recent years. This story suggests strongly to me that J.J. Abrams recent script draft sucks (and I've gotten to quite like Alias).

9/25/2002 05:44:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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What good are modern information-management tools if people won't use them?

One of the most frustrating things about being an optimistic "computer revolution" guru is that over and over again I run into people who could use the magnificent information management tools we have at our disposal, have every incentive to use them (so as not to look stupid), and yet do not use them.


Four minutes, tops, to get your hands on the right numbers.

And--here's the weirdest thing--not only does Umansky not do the search that would show that his Times-bashing exercise was off-base, he proceeds to ask his readers for help in figuring out whether what he has said about the Times hiding the ball is smart or not: "(Reader Research Project -- those folks procrastinating at work are encouraged to participate: Is the Times correct to say that it's a clear trend? First reader to answer that, and provide primary-source evidence, wins a super-secret present from Today's Papers.)". It must have taken about as long to ask for help as it would have taken to perform the google search.

Why not use the world-wide-web to find out whether your Times-bashing exercise is sound or not? I mean, it cannot be in any journalist's interest to lose credibility with their audience by saying stupid things, can it? It can't be in any editor's interest for his journalists to develop a reputation as people who don't do the quick-and-easy things you do to check your facts, can it? And in almost all circumstances in which you don't really know what you are talking about, a quick google search is a very good way to orient yourself, isn't it?


Perhaps it's best Brad not post to rec.arts.sf.fandom (where I was reamed for even quoting how many answers Google had on a question, because it was impolite).

9/25/2002 05:20:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HOW MANY PEOPLE WOULD DIE IN AN INVASION OF IRAQ? is the blunt, and important, question addressed in this Slate piece. That's one question I'd like to grok better answers to, and those answers are dependent on a number of factors, most particularly being what would be the Plan: what would be the intended methodology?

Unfortunately, there's a limit to how much one can expect to be leaked or announced about such a Plan, and obviously going too far would only increase casualties.

Of course, the question of casualties in an invasion has to be weighed against the question of how likely is it, exactly, that there would be casualties, and how many, down the road, if Hussein is left in power until natural causes remove him? And that, too, is what I want more, better, information on, in terms of as much factual basis as possible for legitimate estimates of the Present Danger.

What is called for is the equivalent of Adlai Stevenson's blunt briefing to the UN during the Cuban missile crisis, taking down the blustering Ambassador Zorin.

The next most important question, as almost everyone has been raising, is The Aftermath. What is likely to happen? What are our plans for it? How realistic are they? How prepared are we to see them through, at what cost?

Wolfowitz sells the idea as the installation of Iraqi democracy, leading to a transformation of the region. That would be wonderful. I do agree that even a tentative fledgling Iraqi democracy, even one as shakey as the baby in Afghanistan at present, would present a highly transformative example for the Middle East, and that this would have great, positive, destabilizing, effect upon all the other regimes. It would likely, over time, collapse the region's uniform oligarchies (obvious exception aside), more and less benign, in not disimilar fashion as the way communist East Europe fell apart.

I also note, as I have in comments, that the comparatively flourishing Kurdish regime in the northern no-fly zone in Iraq presents a hopeful pointer that such an outcome might be possible in Iraq as a whole, also given Iraqi wealth and its large educated middle-class.

Counter-weights to that optimistic outcome are well-known to most now, such as the conflicts between majority Shia population and present Sunni leadership, the Iranian influence, the question of integration of the Kurds, the Turkish problem with Kurdish autonomy, etc., etc. It's not an ethnically homogenous situation such as conquered Japan, which we ruled through continuation of the war-criminal God-Emperor, nor do we want to fight the sort of war we fought to destroy Germany before we rebuilt it. The establishment of an Iraqi democracy is problematic. How far are we prepared to go to create one? Would we really assume the cost? Is it even possible? How possible?

Some assume we'll simply install another brutal dictator. If that's the case, obviously the only justification for invasion and overthrow would be simple self-protection, and the threshhold of convincing evidence that the danger to us of use of weapons of mass destruction supplied by the Hussein regime need be high.

If it can be convincingly laid out that an outcome of a fledgling Iraqi democracy is plausible and reasonably likely, then there's considerable reason to lean more sympathetically towards military intervention, and it doesn't entail a follow-through of invasions around the world against every non-democratic regime, either.

My present bottom line is that my sympathies are towards intervention, but they're also cautious sympathies, and I'd like more persuasive information that the danger is manifest, and the likely casualties will be worth it, as well as that we are prepared to see through the aftermath, no matter what it takes.

9/25/2002 03:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SEYMOUR HERSH looks at the Moussaoui case. Like most non-governmental observers, he concludes for now that while Moussaoui was a member of al Queda -- as Moussaoui himself proclaims -- the evidence that he was actually going to be the 20th hijacker, were he not arrested, is, as yet publically made available, thin at best.

9/25/2002 04:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SLATE CRITIQUES BOTH THE GORE AND BUSH takes on Iraq and foreign policy via their chief political correspondent, William Saletan. There are elements I find quite unconvincing, including the notion that governments act, he seems to implicitly state, entirely on psychological motivations, rather any part of the policy mix including strategic planning, political interests, economic interests, political theory, political alignment, and other elements that are often in there, along with psychology. But Saletan makes some valid points about flaws in both Bush's and Gore's approaches, as well.

9/25/2002 03:08:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I DON'T BUY THIS ARGUMENT from John Dean that the 17th Amendment should be repealed -- you remember, that's the one passed in 1913 to provide for direct election of Senators by citizens of each state of the US, rather than by the State Legislatures -- for several reasons, chief of which is that while I agree that it's not difficult for any interest with truckloads of money in amounts of millions to sway direct elections, I also observe that it seems even far easier to sway state legislatures, hotbeds of corruption, where votes can be bought retail far more cheaply. But it's an argument I've not heard before. (Via Instapundit.)

9/25/2002 02:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Buckling under pressure from the Church of Scientology, the Internet Archive has removed a church critic's Web site from its system.

The Internet Archive, a site that preserves snapshots of old Web pages and bills itself as "a library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form," no longer contains links to archival pages of Instead, surfers are pointed to a page telling them the site was taken down "per the request of the site owner."

However, operator Andreas Heldal-Lund said he never made any such request. Heldal-Lund, a Norwegian businessman and longtime church critic, said he's eager for people to read archived pages of his site.

"I'm the author, and I never asked that it be removed," he said. "I believe what's happening in this case is important history."

A representative of the Internet Archive said the organization, which is run mostly by volunteers, took the pages down after lawyers for the Church of Scientology "asserted ownership of materials visible through" the site. He said the group replaced the links with a generic error message about blocked sites.

What bugs me in a more personal way are all the members of the science fiction community who morally compromise with these creeps via Scientology's outreach propaganda arm, Bridge Publications, and sell their souls for some money and trinkets from Bridge in exchange for promoting "Writers of the Future," or teaching in the program (praise of L. Ron Hubbard required), or in the case of "Writers of the Future" hopefuls, in exchange for a (they hope) career boost. I don't see it as even a harmless joke, and I'm greatly saddened when I see people I respect colloborating with these evil people (by which I mean the people who run Scientology; most followers are just innocent dupes, of course). (Link via zem.)

9/25/2002 02:18:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE WAVE IS MEXICAN?: Did I not know this because the only sport I follow is politics, or because I'm an American?
How many fed-up fans does it take to start a Mexican wave? About 25, say researchers in Europe. Their computer models of crowds' behaviour could help control rowdy hooligans.

Since shooting to fame during the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Mexican waves have surged through sports stadia worldwide. Spectators jump to their feet with arms outstretched - and sit down again as neighbours in the stand rise up.

Tamas Vicsek of the Eötvös University of Budapest in Hungary and his team studied footage of Mexican waves in football stadia and built a mathematical model that mimics them. Because people in the crowd are behaving in a predictable way, they fit similar equations to the waves of contraction that spread through the heart or fire razing a forest1.

It takes a critical mass of two- to three-dozen people to get the wave going, the researchers found. And waves will only spread during lulls in a football game or athletics event, predicts Vicsek, when viewers aren't otherwise distracted or overexcited.

That last seems unlikely to have needed a mathematical model to deduce.

9/25/2002 01:32:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FAMILIAR RING TO IT: Two quotes from Tom Friedman today:
If Mr. Sharon believes that Mr. Arafat sent these bombers, then he should evict him. If he thinks Mr. Arafat is irrelevant, then he should ignore him. But what makes no sense is to treat Mr. Arafat as if he's totally irrelevant and totally responsible.
The familiar one?
Mr. Sharon has a tough job. He has to pursue a peace settlement with the Palestinians, as if there were no terrorism, and to hunt the terrorists, as if no peace settlement were possible.
Look at my set of quotes on the left for Yitzhak Rabin, at the top.

9/25/2002 01:28:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I HAD AN OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE just reading about how such experiences can be created by stimulating the right angular gyrus region of the brain.
The right angular gyrus integrates visual information -- the sight of your body -- and information that creates the mind's representation of your body. This is based on balance and feedback from your limbs about their position in space.


Out-of-body experiences are incredibly common, says clinical neurologist John Marshall of the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford, UK. Some are part of near-death experiences.

Some believe that the events have religious or spiritual causes, or that a person really leaves their physical body behind. They may, for example, interpret them as evidence that the physical and spiritual body can separate again after death.

The new experiments cannot disprove such ideas, says Marshall: "It doesn't show that people with paranormal beliefs are wrong" - it simply demonstrates one way that the experience can be stimulated. Nevertheless, "I think it would give great comfort to patients" who, he says, frequently question their own sanity.

Thrill-seekers will be hard-pushed to artificially create their own out-of-body experiences, adds Brugger. "You can't stimulate that precisely without opening up the skull," he says.

Of course, that's fun for some folks.

9/25/2002 01:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TWO INTERESTING ARTICLES on the September 11th intelligence failures in the NY Review of Books by expert writer Thomas Powers here and here. One detail Powers includes is the "what did the President know, and when did he know it?" question. His broad conclusion?
It is my guess that the CIA and the FBI, the two American intelligence organizations principally involved, had a startling depth of knowledge about the terrorists, their allies, and their plans and movements before September 11. When elements of the story began to reach the public in recent months a series of officials—and most prominently Robert Mueller, director of the FBI—insisted that what they knew or could or should or might have known still wasn't enough to have saved the World Trade Center. No doubt this is narrowly true. We may trust that no one was sitting on a piece of paper with hard, specific, unambiguous information on date, time, and target. That officials probably could have acted on. But two things are increasingly clear: first, the principal intelligence failure before September 11 was a failure by counter-terror specialists deep within the FBI and CIA to sense the shape of the plot that was unfolding—the often-cited inability to "connect the dots." But the CIA well knew something was in the works and frequently said so in the months leading up to September 11. The second great failure was the decision of the Bush administration on taking office to restudy the problem of terrorism from top to bottom, rather than pursue programs already begun under President Clinton. This lost year was the subject of a Time magazine cover story in the issue of August 12 describing the efforts of Richard Clarke, a Clinton holdover, to win agreement from the new national security team for an aggressive effort targeted on al-Qaeda and its refuge in Afghanistan.
I read a lot of conservative bloggers dismissing the Time story as simply non-credible, because it placed blame on the Bush Administration, and had some positive things to say about the Clinton Administration's reactions to al Queda and plans to respond, and, you know, Time magazine is a product of the liberal media, so obviously they'd make stuff up, buy claims by ex-Clinton officials, and spin against the Bush folk. This seemed, and seems, to me, an insufficient response to demonstrate that much in the Time story was actually incorrect. (Alas, the story has now passed behind the "last two weeks only, for free" barrier online.)

Also, two, dare I say, important articles on the current and future leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, and their intentions, based on information from "the Party insider who uses the pseudonym Zong Hairen," here and here.

But the new rulers do not plan merely to continue the status quo. A significant constituency, led by the sixty-eight-year-old liberal Li Ruihuan, a former carpenter and mayor of Tianjin, who is slated to take over the chairmanship of the national parliament in March 2003, wants to see semicompetitive elections for government positions up to the provincial level as well as greater freedom, within limits, for the Chinese press, television, and radio.

Those in charge of China's economic future -- especially premier-designate Wen Jiabao -- have talked about their plans to address the helter-skelter market transition of the last two decades with more emphasis on growth based on rising domestic demand and less on growth resulting from exports; they say they want to reduce income inequalities and do more to protect the environment.

None of the new leaders hints at any willingness to compromise the Communist Party's monopoly on power. If they can control the pace of change, as they hope, China will likely move into a post-ideological authoritarianism that emphasizes economic development. It will resemble the authoritarian systems that once existed in South Korea and Taiwan, and still does in Singapore. But if their limited reforms lead to demands for greater change, China, in our view, could slip more quickly toward a democratic revolution of the sort witnessed in Hungary and Poland.

Must-reads if you give a damn about what China is likely to do in the next decade, and I suggest you might want to.

9/25/2002 12:45:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, September 24, 2002
WIL MCCARTHY comments briefly on being a science fiction writer asked to brainstorm scary ideas for the CIA.

9/24/2002 11:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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"MY SPACESHIP!": Along with Paul Wolfowitz, an equally important mover-and-shaker-and-thinker gets the bigtime profile in the NY Times Magazine: Joss Whedon.
After all, Whedon has created one of the most intelligent, and most underestimated, shows on television. Like the Serenity, ''Buffy'' might look at first sight like a disposable toy, something cobbled from materials that most adults dismiss out of hand: teen banter, karate chops and bloodsucking monsters. Before the show went on the air in 1997, executives at the fledgling WB network begged him to change the whimsical title, arguing that the show would never reach intelligent viewers. But it did. ''Buffy'' is about a teenage girl staking monsters in the heart, but her true demons are personal, and the show's innovative mix of fantasy elements and psychological acuity transcends easy categorization. Despite being perpetually snubbed at the Emmy Awards, ''Buffy'' has become a critics' darling and inspired a fervent fan base among teenage girls and academics alike.


Audaciously combining two more neglected juvenile genres, westerns and science fiction, the series began as Whedon's most experimental yet -- until Fox rejected the pilot and forced him to whip up a more accessible premiere episode. But although the new season opener has a kickier and more commercial structure than the meditative pilot he originally devised, Whedon was able to maintain his central vision.

This is a strangely familiar story to anyone who recalls the first, and second, pilots for a series pitched as "Wagon Train To The Stars."
Yes, it's a space show, but it's also an intellectual drama about nine underdogs struggling in the moral chaos of a postglobalist universe. Adventure and ethical debate are melded in one sexy package. ''It's about the search for meaning,'' he explains. ''And did I mention there's a whore?''

As technicians nudge a glowing white spaceship into the sky, Whedon talks about his frustration with those who mistake his creations for guilty pleasures. ''I hate it when people talk about 'Buffy' as being campy,'' he says, scarfing takeout chicken with a plastic fork. ''I hate camp. I don't enjoy dumb TV. I believe Aaron Spelling has single-handedly lowered SAT scores.'' But despite these inevitable misreadings, Whedon's heart will always be with genre fiction. Like Buffy herself, genre fiction is easily undervalued, seen as powerless fluff. But Whedon finds it uniquely forceful: using its vivid strokes, you can be speculative, philosophical -- and create stories that are not merely true to life but are metaphors for a deeper level of human experience. ''It's better to be a spy in the house of love, you know?'' he jokes. ''If I made 'Buffy the Lesbian Separatist,' a series of lectures on PBS on why there should be feminism, no one would be coming to the party, and it would be boring. The idea of changing culture is important to me, and it can only be done in a popular medium.''

Of course, I managed to fall asleep, and miss the premiere of Firefly, after touting it, but c'est la vie. (The Hollywood Reporter quite liked it.)

9/24/2002 10:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TRADING LINKS: One issue where Avedon Carol and I are on precisely the same page is this one.
But, I'll tell ya, I really dislike it when people write and ask me to trade links. Maybe I'm a tight-ass, but I find this a bit, I dunno, wrong. I mean, if you like The Sideshow enough to link it at all, why didn't you link it already? That's what I did. I didn't run around asking people to put those links there in exchange for a link I wanted to post anyway. Sure, there are weblogs out there that I think ought to be linking to me (because we are obviously playing on the same team), but I usually find that if I link to them, a link from them to me usually appears within a matter of days. If it doesn't, well, it doesn't, but that doesn't mean I think their weblog is any less worth reading, so the link stays.
Ditto, ditto, and ditto. Sure, there are blogs I wish linked to me, or that, horrors, once did, and don't any more, but it never crossed my mind that a blogroll link is something owed to me, either because of my sheer wonderfulness, or because I blogrolled someone.

If I want to blogroll someone, on my own equally idiosyncratic whim, I will, and no, it's not a "fair" system. And if someone wants to blogroll me, then, as a rule, I'm honored and delighted and flattered. It will, indeed, give me a positive nudge towards maybe eventually blogrolling that blog. But I'm not going to "trade," so you needn't ask.

9/24/2002 10:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PAUL WOLFOWITZ: DEMON OR DEVIL? is more or less the question usually asked by many dubious about the positions they've read he has taken, and undoubtedly this profile of him by NY Times columnist Bill Keller, who is generally skeptical of matters Bush and Republican, will be derided as overly soft and sympathetic, but I'd say it's an interesting perspective and reading, no matter.

Nut graf:

If the interventionists are right, America can reasonably expect to be more secure, respected and very, very busy -- and much of the foreign-policy old guard will have been proved wrong. But if Wolfowitz and those with him are wrong, if Iraq comes down around their ears, America will be standing deep in the rubble, very alone.
Not much I'd argue with there. Myself, I wish I had anything resembling the surety of the many folks so convinced that it's entirely clear that the Right Thing To Do Is [overthrow the Hussein regime/stay out of further war].

I'm in the camp that remains, for now, entirely unclear either is right. I'm persuadable either way, for now, with questions yet to be answered satisfactorily by either main "side."

The pro-overthrow Real Soon Now side, the Wolfowitz side, argument includes this key element:

But Wolfowitz says he believes Sept. 11 has awakened us to a world where certainty is an expensive luxury.

''There's an awful lot we don't know, an awful lot that we may never know, and we've got to think differently about standards of proof here,'' Wolfowitz tells me. ''In fact, there's no way you can prove that something's going to happen three years from now or six years from now. But these people have made absolutely clear what their intentions are, and we know a lot about their capabilities. I suppose I hadn't thought of it quite this way, but intentions and capabilities are the way you think about warfare. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the way you think about law enforcement. And I think we're much closer to being in a state of war than being in a judicial proceeding.''

The other side, you're familiar with from various angles, I'm sure; it boils down, from almost any angle, to either: "I'm dead sure your case is in error for [any of three dozen reasons]" or "you've not yet proven your case to me."

I remain more in less in the latter camp, and am as dubious of the former camp as I am of the "there's absolutely no doubt that if we overthrow Hussein, it will all work out pretty wonderfully, and cure acne, besides." Where I appear to agree with Wolfowitz is that it is likely we can't know, in advance, with surety, what decision is the right one. It's entirely possible, as is often the case, to be unclear, in retrospect, as well.

I apologize if these observations disqualify me as a blogger, and I'm sure the Academy will duly consider stripping me of my credentials, as a result.

9/24/2002 09:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NAH: I disagree with Josh Marshall that a a good model for a magazine blog is that it be done with anonymous, unsigned, entries, because
a bunch of different people signing entries on a single blog makes for clutter and cacophony. Better to run them unsigned.
I respectfully suggest that cacophony might (or might not) come from conflicting opinions and points of view, or acceptance of what constitutes correct information, but not from conflicting signatures.

I happen to like knowing who has written what I'm reading, and I find a great deal less potential cacophony in being able to sort out that entry A comes from "Norm," and entry B from "Josh," entry C from "Mort," etc., and that that's why the POV in A and C seem to conflict a bit with each other. I think that more information helps, as it usually does, and that hiding information, particularly something as basic as authorship, does not help and does not well serve the reader.

I also think that blandifying attempts at anonymity are somewhat contrary to a basic strength of blogging: individual voices (whether on a group blog, or not) speaking with a strong point of view.

But maybe all this is just me.

Marshall has other good bits, as usual, I might add, such as what George Orwell might think of the term "regime change," and on "Adjara -- beautiful, successful & secure" and its "visionary President."

9/24/2002 07:05:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GOOGLE has reformatted its News page into a more conventional "front page."
This page was generated entirely by computer algorithms without human editors.
No humans were harmed or even used in the creation of this page.
Still googoolicious. Except for making me feel a bit redundant as a blogger.

9/24/2002 02:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Mark Russ Federman, the 57-year-old owner, grandson of the original Russ, pointed to a meaty, deep pink chunk of fish: lox, which in his store means the rich, brine-cured belly of a wild Pacific salmon. "That's where it all started," he said.

But today, lox accounts for only a small fraction of his salmon sales.

"People use lox as a general term -- bagel and lox -- but what is traditional and genuine lox is not smoked salmon at all," said Mr. Federman's daughter Niki, who also works at the shop. "It is a salmon cured in salt brine. No refrigeration needed. When people come into the store, they ask for lox, and we say, 'Are you sure?' "

Terry Huggins, charcuterie manager at Dean & DeLuca, has not sold a piece of lox since 1990. Even at Barney Greengrass, that emporium of nostalgia, lox doesn't sell well, and Saul Zabar himself prefers the more modern, Nova-style smoked fish. Today, most of the Sunday-morning salmon sold in New York -- 2,500 pounds each week at Zabar's alone -- is not lox, but lightly salted and smoked salmon.

For some traditionalists, the dainty stuff now in vogue will not do.

"When I'm in the mood, this is the only one that's satisfying," Mr. Federman said. "My grandfather started with this. Somehow that on a bagel makes it for me." His lox oozes with ocean, begging for cream cheese to counter the saltiness. "It is roots and nostalgia, that salt taste," Mr. Federman added. "I think we have a genetic predisposition to the taste of salt-cured fish."

As has been said: nova truth. And don't get me started on the way most of the country is sold icky bread doughnuts falsely called "bagels."

Some interesting stuff on lox in modern history in this story, though. The truth, though? You can't handle the truth.

Scotch-style salmon? "That's a New York invention," said Mr. Wilde of Pinneys.

And Nova lox? He laughed. "The problem," he said, "is you are looking for truth in something that is not very well developed. It has been a ramshackle band of misfits trying to make smoked salmon in many different countries."

It's a pretty fishy story.

9/24/2002 02:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Wednesday, September 18, 2002
DO WE CALL STEVE DITKO, OR A.E. VAN VOGT?: Amygdala = Amygdala.
Berkeley, the first city to ban Styrofoam and wood-fired pizza ovens, could become the first to enact Aristotle's ancient law of logic -- that every entity is equal to itself.

In a philosophical effort to come up with a city law that no one could ever break, conceptual artist Jonathon Keats wants Berkeley to legally acknowledge Aristotle's law, commonly expressed as A=A.

More plainly put, it means a table is a table. A blade of grass is a blade of grass. The mayor is the mayor.

Mayor Shirley Dean was dumbfounded.

"I haven't a clue what that means," Dean said of Keats' proposition.

Few others did either as Keats tried to get them to sign his sidewalk petition Saturday near the downtown Berkeley BART station.

"Why do you need a law to say that?" asked one passer-by.

Sweating in a three-piece wool suit, bow tie and penny loafers, Keats explained that a simplistic law challenges society's notion of what laws are, why they are made, and why we follow them.

It makes perfect sense to Keats, who is the kind of guy who likes to do things like sit in an art gallery for 24 hours and and sell his thoughts to museumgoers. The San Francisco Arts Commission once paid him to do portraits, and because he can't paint, draw or take good photographs, he took fingerprints instead.

His latest A=A idea, timed to coincide with the annual Berkeley Arts Festival, was a harder sell. His six-hour effort netted 65 signatures, 42 of which belonged to actual Berkeley residents.


"I see the law I've proposed as an (art) installation, one which has the potential to operate in infinite space while occupying no space," said the 30- year-old performance artist, who lives in San Francisco.

No space at all.
"I offer it as a donation to the people of Berkeley," Keats said.
I politely decline further comment. But here's my favorite part:
Although his law can't be broken, a misdemeanor fine of up to one-tenth of a cent would be imposed on anyone or anything caught being unidentical to itself within city limits.
I now make the null-A cortical-thalmic pause.

9/18/2002 11:36:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT MATTERS: Anti-matter has been manufactured in a significant amount, which is to say about 50,000 atoms of anti-hydrogen, at CERN.
At least 50,000 antihydrogen atoms have been created since the experiment began in August, said Dr. Jeffrey S. Hangst, from Aarhus University in Denmark, who coordinated efforts by 39 physicists from 10 institutions in a collaboration named Athena. A paper on their results has been accepted for publication in Nature and was posted on its Web site
Koolness. Nature's news article is here. The paper is subscription-only.

9/18/2002 10:56:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, September 17, 2002
Virgin Atlantic Airways is to replace tables in its newest planes because passengers have broken them during illicit trysts, the Sun newspaper said on Monday.

The $200 million Airbus A340-600, which was introduced several weeks ago, has a "mother and baby room" with a plastic table meant for changing diapers. But passengers have destroyed them by using them for love making.

"Those determined to join the Mile High Club will do so despite the lack of comforts," a Virgin spokeswoman was quoted as saying.

"We don't mind couples having a good time, but this is not something that we would encourage because of air regulations."

Darned air regulations. (Link via Daze Reader.)

9/17/2002 11:23:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I'd like to find a better site than this one about the new tv series based about the daughter of Batman and Catwoman (Huntress), Barbara Gordon, and an odd version of Dinah (Black Canary), who is now apparently psychic, rather than as we knew her, presumably to resist overlapping the Huntress role. But although this site is badly designed, it has a lot of info.

EW report here. Hey, Avedon, and Rob, now you won't have to ask "what's that?" two years from now.

B-man note: "psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel." Gee, who could that be?

9/17/2002 11:17:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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FASCINATING ACCOUNT of the CIA's version of the Blackhawk Down story here.

9/17/2002 06:36:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WEIRD SEARCH HITS: I've not previously blogged any of the search hits Amygdala has gotten, but how did I get this one? blindfolding+and+sexually+ dominating+her+man+for+the+first+time&btnG=Google+Se

9/17/2002 06:25:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, September 16, 2002
My kids saw their first Star Trek episode today. I rented "The Corbomite Maneuver," in which Balak (little Clint Howard -- "We must drink. This is tranya.") brought a bit of the Wizard of Oz to the Trek universe. (I tried to find "The Trouble With Tribbles" but was unsuccessful, but I thought this was a pretty good backup choice.)

Too scary for the kids, what with the famous grim-faced alien? I decided it wasn’t. The kids had a grand time.

At dinner, eating on the patio in the back yard after the kids had seen the episode, my 6-year-old daughter and I threw back our heads in imitation of Balak’s laugh.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Well, not much of a Trekkie, really, since it's "Balok,"and I bet he can't even name Clint Howard's other appearances in the Trekkie universe, let alone Yeoman Rand's cabin number. (Hint: this-is-a-joke.) Worse, the fact publicized since about 1972 that Nimoy swiped the split fingers greetings from the rabbinical gesture is new to him.

But anyone who laughs at “We must drink. This is tranya" -- and doesn't even mention the cheesy set decorated with a rug thrown over a rope, or the prop dummy, is okay in my book.

But we already knew that about Geitner. Geitner, have you tried Enterprise, and might you try Firefly?

9/16/2002 06:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Trekkie, anyway.

9/16/2002 06:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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LIFT NOSE, SNIFF: Margaret Atwood reviews Ursula Le Guin in the New York Review of Books:
The Birthday of the World is Ursula K. Le Guin's tenth collection of stories. In it she demonstrates once again why she is the reigning queen of...but immediately we come to a difficulty, for what is the fitting name of her kingdom?
This is only a difficulty if you are hung up on pigeonholing people, and in being anxious to separate Real Literature (such, as, say, your own Handmaid's Tale) from, ugh, grungy, ugly, popular genre trash.
Or, in view of her abiding concern with the ambiguities of gender, her queendom, or perhaps -- considering how she likes to mix and match -- her quinkdom? Or may she more properly be said to have not one such realm, but two?
Or may we more properly say this is an unnecessary question and anxiety?
"Science fiction" is the box in which her work is usually placed, but it's an awkward box: it bulges with discards from elsewhere. Into it have been crammed all those stories that don't fit comfortably into the family room of the socially realistic novel or the more formal parlor of historical fiction, or other compartmentalized genres: westerns, gothics, horrors, gothic romances, and the novels of war, crime, and spies. Its subdivisions include science fiction proper (gizmo-riddled and theory-based space travel, time travel, or cybertravel to other worlds, with aliens frequent); science-fiction fantasy (dragons are common; the gizmos are less plausible, and may include wands); and speculative fiction (human society and its possible future forms, which are either much better than what we have now, or much worse). However, the membranes separating these subdivisions are permeable, and osmotic flow from one to another is the norm.
This is a feature, not a bug.
[...] It's too bad that one term—"science fiction"—has served for so many variants, and too bad also that this term has acquired a dubious if not downright sluttish reputation.
Well, you could quit accusing the genre of sleeping around with other genres, as if that were a bad thing, Ms. Atwood.

9/16/2002 01:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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