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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.

Friday, January 31, 2003
THE PAY-OFF: More than $200 million dollars for Kim Jong Il to grant Kim Dae Jung his visit, and Nobel Peace Prize. Read:
President Kim Dae Jung faced mounting pressure today to provide a detailed account of why nearly $200 million was moved to North Korea shortly before he flew to Pyongyang for his summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, in June 2000.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

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SCENT OF THE WING-NUT: Amygdala has no idea, yet, how genuinely good or bad The Recruit is, but our staff liked this A. O. Scott review. Bits:
...takes place within the shadowy world of the Central Intelligence Agency, where, we are repeatedly told, nothing is what it seems. This is true of the movie as well: it seems like a spy thriller, but it really isn't.


...this movie, directed with shrugging professionalism by Roger Donaldson ("No Way Out," "13 Days"), belongs to a very special genre: the Al Pacino crazy mentor picture.

Examples include "Donnie Brasco," "Scent of a Woman," "Devil's Advocate" and "Any Given Sunday." In each of these movies, Mr. Pacino is paired with a younger actor -- Johnny Depp, Chris O'Donnell, Keanu Reeves, Jamie Foxx -- to enact a peculiar generational battle whose outcome is usually a mutual learning of lessons.

Often, the temperamental contrast between the characters is reflected in approaches to acting. Mr. Pacino's style -- the Method gone mad -- is gestural and confrontational, with a lot of shouting and muttering, while his co-stars adopt a cooler, warier stance. His roots are in the heat and dust of midcentury American realist theater; theirs tend to be in the hip detachment of television. And though these movies vary in quality and interest, they share a lurching, improvisational rhythm that makes them interesting to watch.


...Mr. Pacino, with jet-black hair and a diabolical goatee, shambles and blusters in his usual way, turning the screenplay's flavorless dialogue (written by Roger Towne, Kurt Wimmer and Mitch Glazer) into mad poetry, full of non sequiturs, odd pauses and sudden barks and whispers. It is almost worth the price of a ticket (or at least of a video rental) to hear him utter the words "Bethesda," "Abu Nidal" and "Kurt Vonnegut," though not, I'm sad to say, in the same sentence, which would have been truly wonderful.


Poor Mr. Farrell [...] for all his confident smirking, anguished grimacing and brow-furrowing torment, his character remains a cipher. You never really wonder or care about James's motives or emotions.

Mr. Pacino, on the other hand, is an exuberant riddle, even though Burke's motives and emotions ultimately make no sense at all. Every time Burke opens his mouth, you wonder who on earth this guy is supposed to be, and your realization that the character, like the movie itself, is incoherently conceived hardly matters. It is both appalling and amusing to contemplate the C.I.A. as employing such a wing nut, especially as a teacher of the young. But really, what Mr. Pacino provides is an acting lesson, one that Mr. Farrell would do well to heed. In an unimaginative, by-the-book movie like this one, the best thing an actor can do is dare to be strange.

Hoo-ah. Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

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Thursday, January 30, 2003
FREEMAN DYSTON ON NANOTECH: Here, reviewing Michael Chrichton's Prey and responding to the concerns of Bill Joy, co-founder and chief scientist at Sun Microsystems, regarding the dangers of nanotech.
Bill is advocating censorship of scientific inquiry, either by international or national authorities. I am opposed to this kind of censorship. It is often said that the risks of modern biotechnology are historically unparalleled because the consequences of letting a new living creature loose in the world may be irreversible. I think we can find a good historical parallel where a government was trying to guard against dangers that were equally irreversible.

Three hundred and fifty-nine years ago, the poet John Milton wrote a speech with the title Areopagitica, addressed to the Parliament of England. He was arguing for the liberty of unlicensed printing. I am suggesting that there is an analogy between the seventeenth-century fear of moral contagion by soul-corrupting books and the twenty-first-century fear of physical contagion by pathogenic microbes. In both cases, the fear was neither groundless nor unreasonable. In 1644, when Milton was writing, England had just emerged from a long and bloody civil war, and the Thirty Years' War, which devastated Germany, had four years still to run. These seventeenth- century wars were religious wars, in which differences of doctrine played a great part. In that century, books not only corrupted souls but also mangled bodies. The risks of letting books go free into the world were rightly regarded by the English Parliament as potentially lethal as well as irreversible. Milton argued that the risks must nevertheless be accepted. I believe his message may still have value for our own times, if the word "book" is replaced by the word "experiment." Here is Milton:

I deny not, but that it is of greatest concernment in the Church and Commonwealth, to have a vigilant eye how books demean themselves as well as men; and thereafter to confine, imprison, and do sharpest justice on them as malefactors.... I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous dragon's teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.
The important word in Milton's statement is "thereafter." Books should not be convicted and imprisoned until after they have done some damage. What Milton declared unacceptable was prior censorship, prohibiting books from ever seeing the light of day.
Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. Dyson is one of my gods.

1/30/2003 02:40:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MOON LANDSCAPE: You probably already read about the first Israeli astronaut, but I wanted to note this.
One personal item Colonel Ramon took into space is a piece of Holocaust-era art, a small black and white drawing called "Moon Landscape" that was borrowed from the Yad Vashem Art Museum in Israel. The drawing was created by Peter Ginz, a 14-year-old Jewish boy killed at Auschwitz in 1944.

At the concentration camp, Peter dreamed of faraway places and drew a picture of what Earth would look like when viewed from mountains on the moon.

"I feel that my journey fulfills the dream of Peter Ginz 58 years on," Colonel Ramon said.

I don't have words.

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

1/30/2003 01:16:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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RULES ARE RULES: Isn't this special?
Chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Monday delivered their 60-day report on the status of weapons inspections in Iraq. It was a less-than-glowing summary, with both men saying Baghdad is not cooperating with inspectors and is not being forthcoming on disclosing information about its weapons programs.
Who is the head of the UN Disarmament Conference for May?
Iraq will take its turn as the head of the conference, a U.N. spokesman said, because of a "purely automatic rotation by alphabetical order."

Therefore, joining Iraq as co-chair for the session in Geneva, Switzerland, will be Iran.

The conference chair helps organize the work of the conference and assists in setting the agenda.

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. (Via Sgt. Stryker.)

1/30/2003 01:13:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MARS ON EARTH: In the real south:
Their journey led them into a frozen vault of Earth's history. They stood on rocks that blanket the oldest ice on the planet -- the remnant of a glacier that could be anywhere from one million to eight million years old. They examined freeze-dried algae, possibly 10 million years old and possibly still alive. In the process, they hashed out some longstanding mysteries about climate change here and on Mars.

The three major Dry Valleys and the mile-high mountains that separate them occupy a region about the size of Delaware and embrace some of the most unusual environments on Earth. At lower reaches, near the Ross Sea, frozen lakes partially thaw in the Antarctic summer and microscopic worms and algae come alive.

Farther inland, the valleys run into mountain barriers that block ice flow from interior East Antarctica -- an ice sheet up to two miles thick that covers more than 3.8 million square miles. Here the average temperature is 35 below zero. Except for tiny skiffs of snow that blow in from the ice sheet, there is no water. It has not rained for 15 million years.

But any day now....

Fields of polygon-shaped rocks that appear all over Mars and in the Dry Valleys are cases in point. In the Dry Valleys, "you walk around fields of polygons and you can't see anything but debris," Dr. Head said. "Then you dig down three feet and find ice, nothing but ice." Perhaps water flowed on Mars' surface and now lies frozen under its polygons.

In Antarctica, Dr. Head saw puzzle rocks — broken, scattered shards that Dr. Marchant could reassemble into a single boulder. The Viking 2 lander set down among such pieces, and it looks as if they fit together, too.

Another Martian mystery is the presence of pitted rocks. In the Dry Valleys, pits are formed when tiny amounts of snow melt on sun-warmed rocks and salts in the water erode tiny depressions. On Mars, people thought rock pits were caused by gases in lava, Dr. Head said, but frost landing on Martian rocks could also do the job.

Fortunately for Dr. Head, he is an adviser to NASA on Mars exploration and will be able to put his theories to the test when two rovers land on the planet a year from now. The rovers "will be traversing Mars, looking behind rocks, turning them over and looking underneath, drilling holes in them and digging trenches," Dr. Head said.

I canna wait. Among the most thrilling images I've ever seen are shots of "the little guy," the first, and so far only, Mars rover crawling over the Martian terrain (a couple of seconds of this are incorporated into the Enterprise opening, which you can watch with the sound off, if you prefer).

I look forward to Mars eventually having countless clouds of intelligent nano-probes exploring it. Meanwhile, in closer to hand alien territory:

While discussing the fate of Earth, the two geologists were thrilled to learn that one of Dr. Marchant's graduate students, Adam Lewis, had found a deposit of freeze-dried algae and insect body parts in the upper Dry Valleys. Based on ash deposits and other clues, the organic life could be more than 10 million years old, Mr. Lewis said, from a time before the monster glacier moved through the area.

Because the algae are freeze-dried, not fossilized, it may be possible to bring them back to life. "We'll put it in water and see what happens," he said, after efforts to date the material are completed by the end of February.

Oh, it will doubtless turn into an intelligent carrot, and begin stalking the experimenters at their lonely camp, the radio soon smashed, killing them one by one. I know about these things. My mind doesn't boggle.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/30/2003 12:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Farmers must furnish pigsties with "manipulable materials" like straw, wood and sawdust under a European Union directive set to become law in Britain on Friday, although union officials denied reports that farmers must provide soccer balls or toys.
Oink The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

1/30/2003 12:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Employing a facet of quantum mechanics that Albert Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," scientists have taken particles of light, destroyed them and then resurrected copies more than a mile away.

Previous experiments in so-called quantum teleportation moved particles of light about a yard. The findings could aid the sending of unbreakable coded messages, which is limited to a few tens of miles.

The new experiment used longer wavelengths of light than earlier ones, letting the scientists copy the light through standard glass fiber found in fiber optic cables.


Still, the experiments show that scientists can overcome a seemingly insurmountable conceptual barrier, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Beam It Up Scale: 3 out of 5.

1/30/2003 12:23:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, January 27, 2003
DAMN: NY POLICE remember that "idiotarian" is not a wing thing here.

1/27/2003 09:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MOONIES AND MOON, ASSASSINS AND THUGS, AND L. RON HUBBARD: Distinctions valuably sliced and diced by Mark Kleiman. Fine stuff, and, I know this is a heresy among bloggers, I urge you to read it yourself, because I rilly wanna get more sleep.

1/27/2003 08:17:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AN IMMENSELY IMPORTANT POINT ABOUT RACE is brought to my attention, anyway, by the invaluable Ted Barlow; he quotes material about Yale sociologist Dalton Conley. Conley:
discovered that if you looked at the assets of black families and white families, or in other words their wealth, their children performed equally in school.
Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5. There's lots more invaluable data. Then read all the rest of Ted's stuff.

1/27/2003 05:50:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I DON'T KNOW WHO THE HUMAN BEING(S) behind the superb Cursor site, which I've blogrolled for a Long Time, is or are, but I'd like to thank they, it, or s/he, for blogrolling me. (If not a "they," it's probably a "them." It's usually "them," behind It, after all, isn't it?)

1/27/2003 03:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UNCONVENTIONAL IDEAS OF AND ABOUT GEORGE ORWELL are what we get in this excellent piece by Louis Menand. Much is familiar; some is not. Bits:
Orwell's army is one of the most ideologically mixed up ever to assemble. John Rodden, whose "George Orwell: The Politics of Literary Reputation" was published in 1989 and recently reprinted, with a new introduction (Transaction; $30), has catalogued it exhaustively. It has included, over the years, ex-Communists, Socialists, left-wing anarchists, right-wing libertarians, liberals, conservatives, doves, hawks, the Partisan Review editorial board, and the John Birch Society: every group in a different uniform, but with the same button pinned to the lapel -- Orwell Was Right. Irving Howe claimed Orwell, and so did Norman Podhoretz. Almost the only thing Orwell's posthumous admirers have in common, besides the button, is anti-Communism. But they all somehow found support for their particular bouquet of moral and political values in Orwell's writings, which have been universally praised as "honest," "decent," and "clear." In what sense, though, can writings that have been taken to mean so many incompatible things be called "clear"? And what, exactly, was Orwell right about?


Honesty was important to Orwell. He was certainly quick enough to accuse people he disagreed with of dishonesty. But there is sometimes a confusion, when people talk about Orwell's writing, between honesty and objectivity. "He said what he believed" and "He told it like it was" refer to different virtues. One of the effects of the tone Orwell achieved -- the tone of a reasonable, modest, supremely undogmatic man, hoping for the best but resigned to the worst -- was the impression of transparency, something that Orwell himself, in an essay called "Why I Write," identified as the ideal of good prose. It was therefore a shock when...

And many bits of fictionalization, or fabrications in Orwell's non-fiction are pointed out.


The point is not that Orwell made things up. The point is that he used writing in a literary, not a documentary, way: he wrote in order to make you see what he wanted you to see, to persuade.


You need to grasp Orwell's premises, in other words, before you can start talking about the "truth" of what he writes. He is not saying, This is the way it objectively was from any possible point of view. He is saying, This is the way it looked to someone with my beliefs. Otherwise, his work can be puzzling.

Examples are given.


"Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it."

Here we arrive at the challenge presented by the "Orwell Was Right" button. Hitchens says that there were three great issues in the twentieth century, and that Orwell was right on all three: imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. What does this mean, though? Orwell was against imperialism, fascism, and Stalinism. Excellent. Many people were against them in Orwell's time, and a great many more people have been against them since. The important question, after condemning those things, was what to do about them, and how to understand the implications for the future. On this level, Orwell was almost always wrong.

And here Menand gives many truly amazing examples of how Very Very Wrong Orwell sometimes was. Go Read The Rest: it shouldn't lessen your deserved respect for all the places Orwell was Exactly Correct, or simply brilliant (though Menand argues with my example), but the perspective is invaluable, as are Menand's conclusions.

1/27/2003 03:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WHAT'S OLD IS NEW AGAIN, AND WHAT'S NEW IS OLD: Time write-up of the expansion of CIA special operations, with a potted history, enlivened with some sanitized first-hand accounts, and a bit on the turf wars between CIA and Defense. Nothing actually new in it I could see, but it makes for a sexy cover, and a summary that many readers will doubtless find of interest.

Read The Rest Scale: if you're not well-read on US paramilitary stuff.

1/27/2003 03:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WILL THERE BE SHOCK AND AWE?: We'll see. Via Jim Henley. Jim says:
The first thing to be said about Operation Shock and Awe is that it is nothing but a logical extension of the terror-bombing principles used by both sides in World War II - ideas developed by the Nazis and adopted with enthusiasm by the Americans and British. CBS informs us that "In this war 80 percent [of munitions] will be precision guided," which means nothing more than that we'll be hitting civilian targets with precision-guided munitions. ("Power," "water," and whatever doesn't sound quite innocuous enough on first listen to mention to the news media. You can be sure Iraqi media outlets will be hit right away, as Serb outlets were hit in 1999, and that Al Jazeera's facilites will be "accidentally" bombed. Bridges seem a certainty.)
With great respect to Jim, I agree with some of his observations -- those regarding power, water, and media sites being hit are doubtless correct -- but disagree that "it is nothing but a logical extension of the terror bombing principles used by both sides," etc.

The terror bombing of WWII, done by both sides, specifically targeted residential neighborhoods of large cities of residences, for the specific purpose of causing massive civilian casualties, amongst other strategic goals.

This was the purpose of the bombing in Manchuria by Japan in 1937, of the bombing of Hamburg in 1943 where an estimated 50,000 died, of the assaults on Kassel, Wurzburg, Darmstadt, Heilbronn, Wuppertal, Weser, Magdeburg, Dresden, of Coventry, Rotterdam, London, Liverpool, Birmingham, Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton, Coventry, Hull, Portsmouth, Manchester, Belfast, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Cardiff, of Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe and Nagoya.

Hitler called it "Schrecklichkeit" ("frightfulness").

Goebbels quoted Hitler in his diary:

He said he would repeat these raids night after night until the English were sick and tired of terror attacks. He shares my opinion absolutely that cultural centres, health resorts and civilian resorts must be attacked now.
Whatever the US/British and/or others may or may not do in Iraq -- and likely there will be terrible things -- and the morality, wisdom, and humanity of these things are well debated -- I do not think they are likely to be a fully "logical extension of the terror-bombing principles" of WWII. I do not think it likely there will be deliberate targeting of civilian residences and deliberate targeting of as many civilians as possible. I do not think we will be deliberately trying to create a fire-storm to incinerate Baghdad. That is the terror-bombing principle of WWII, and needless to say, if I thought such were to be engaged in, I'd be out there marching and agitating anti-war, right now, on as full-time basis as I could remotely make possible.

Let me also make clear that my point doesn't in the least dismiss the entirely valid and utterly called-for concerns of Jim and other comitted anti-war activists, which rightfully include being able to note that even if we set aside my point here as merely dismissing the most extreme form of immorality, questions such as how many civilians will die anyway even if "residences" are not deliberately targeted, simply as, despite best efforts, "collateral damage," remain morally necessary to raise and consider and debate, and I am utterly grateful to those such as Jim and others who make the intelligent anti-war case.

1/27/2003 09:51:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A VISIT TO NORTH KOREA: You know what to expect, but the flat detail of the account chills nonetheless.

Memory of this article, among others, will leave me irritated the next time I read a lazy, dismissive, reference to the New York Review as a useless "leftist," "predictable," publication.

Read The Rest Scale: 6 out of 5.

1/27/2003 09:07:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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GET ELMORE: Nice profile of Elmore Leonard.
He has distilled his style into 10 rules that should be pinned above every writer's desk. The rules begin 'Never open a book with weather' and end 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip'. Along the way, they include such invaluable advice as the imperative always to resist the temptation to employ, under any circumstances, the words 'suddenly' or 'all hell broke loose'.


Another of his disciples is Martin Amis, who talks of Leonard being 'perhaps the greatest popular writer of all time'. It is a case of opposites attracting: while Amis can't bear to let a sentence of his go by without giving it the dazzle of his imprimatur, Leonard says: 'I don't want the reader ever to be aware of me writing.' The pair have become friends, but he confesses never to have got to the end of one of Amis's books: 'Too many words.'

He tells me a story of how they were once both on the same talk show. Leonard went on first and when the host, Charlie Rose, brought up the subject of Amis's admiration, Leonard explained how they were 'way different writers, you know. Martin is the classic novelist, the omniscient author, and has the language for that. I don't. I have to let my characters do the work. He has it all.' When Amis came on, Rose said: 'Did you hear what Elmore said about you?' and Amis said: 'I did. And my heart soared like an eagle...' Leonard said: 'See.'

Saw. Read The Rest Scale: okay.

As usual, Amygdala provides the link the story doesn't: here are the rules. Read The Rest Scale: oh, yes.

1/27/2003 07:59:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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AMERICAN ANTI-EUROPEANISM is Timothy Garton Ash's subject, which, as a contrarian, I present as a bracing contrast to the now-tired Eurobashing so many bloggers offer as auto-cant. A few lines:
Anti-Europeanism is not symmetrical with anti-Americanism. The emotional leitmotifs of anti-Americanism are resentment mingled with envy; those of anti-Europeanism are irritation mixed with contempt. Anti-Americanism is a real obsession for entire countries -- notably for France, as Jean-François Revel has recently argued.[5] Anti-Europeanism is very far from being an American obsession.


Anti-Americanism and anti-Europeanism are at opposite ends of the political scale. European anti-Americanism is mainly to be found on the left, American anti-Europeanism on the right. The most outspoken American Euro-bashers are neoconservatives using the same sort of combative rhetoric they have habitually deployed against American liberals. In fact, as Jonah Goldberg himself acknowledged to me, "the Europeans" are also a stalking-horse for liberals. So, I asked him, was Bill Clinton a European? "Yes," said Goldberg, "or at least, Clinton thinks like a European."


It seems a hypothesis worth investigating that actually it's Republicans who are from Mars and Democrats who are from Venus.


For some conservatives, the State Department is also an outpost of Venus. William Kristol, one of America's hereditary neoconservatives, writes of "an axis of appeasement -- stretching from Riyadh to Brussels to Foggy Bottom."[9] Down the Bos-Wash corridor, I was several times told of two groups competing for President Bush's ear over Iraq: the "Cheney-Rumsfeld group" and the "Powell-Blair group." It is rather curious for a British citizen to discover that our prime minister has become a senior member of the State Department.


Quite a lot of American policymakers like the idea that they are from Mars -- on the understanding that this makes them martial rather than Martian -- while quite a lot of European policymakers like to think they are, indeed, programmatic Venutians.


As a soon-to-be-enlarged European Union searches for a clearer identity, there is a strong temptation for Europe to define itself against the United States. Europe clarifies its self-image by listing the ways in which it differs from America. In the dread jargon of identity studies, America becomes the Other. Americans don't like being Othered. (Who does?)


Coolly examined, such a division is extremely stupid.

Yeah, it is.

Read The Rest Scale: oh, you've already decided you hate it or love it, so why bother? (Amygdala confesses that it is often cranky after reading a run of doctrinaire left and right, right and left, blogs, all eagerly explaining monotonously why Their Side Is So So Correct. Over and over and over again. Entry after entry. After entry. All. Saying. The. Same. Thing. Over. And. Over. Again.)

1/27/2003 07:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Sunday, January 26, 2003

I had a moderate amount of contact with the inimitable Virginia Kidd, and a couple of passing contacts with the inimitable Ginny Heinlein. But were uniques, and both should be missed. I'll miss them, in any case. See also here.

1/26/2003 10:42:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE ASTROTURF: The Times, ever-quick, is on the story, complete with cite of Read Amygdala and "all the news" ten months earlier!

1/26/2003 09:55:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE UNPOPULAR OPINION: Andrew Rawnsley in the Guardian:
Compared with all the other major actors in the Iraq drama, I'd say that Tony Blair comes out of this looking more consistent, more skilful and more rational than anyone else. Unlike the belligerents of the White House, he saw early on that at least some international consensus has to be marshalled behind the case for dealing with Saddam Hussein.


Were he to imitate Jacques Chirac's anti-Americanism, the Prime Minister would win himself plaudits from large segments of British public opinion and even more so would it do him good with those members of his own party who have come to see him as Washington's lapdog. It is rather to Mr Blair's credit that he has not taken the cheap and easy course.


Unlike Putin, Mr Blair does not put a price on his support. Which is exactly the criticism you hear of him from some Ministers: what are we getting back from the Americans? In contrast to Chirac and Schroder, the British Prime Minister has not grandstanded against the United States to pander to his voters or his party. He has done quite the reverse, ramming the case for confronting Saddam Hussein down the throat of his sceptical nation.

A man so often in the past depicted as mesmerised by focus groups has supported the United States against the grain of opinion among both the voters and within his party. It is one of the many ironies of his situation that the very same people who used to revile him for being enslaved to opinion polls now lambast him for not listening to the public.

I've noticed that.

Read The Rest Scale: probably won't change any minds, but feel free to give it a chance.

1/26/2003 09:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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In his new film, "Happy Here and Now," Michael Almereyda looks into the future and sees computer chat rooms where participants can project fictitious identities, or "avatars," into cyberspace to do their talking for them. Set in the backwaters of New Orleans, the story involves a woman who disappears after embarking on a virtual relationship with a shadowy philosophical cowboy named Eddie Mars. Shalom Harlow plays the woman and Karl Geary is Eddie; the cast also includes David Arquette, Liane Balaban, Ernie K-Doe, Gloria Reuben, Ally Sheedy and Clarence Williams III.


Mr. Almereyda [...] chose to [discuss his film] in an interview with the avatar Eddie Mars.

EDDIE MARS What made you think of planting a semifuturistic, cyber-oriented story in New Orleans -- a city where, when you have to fix anything electronic, you take it to Texas?

MARS The question was: Why New Orleans?

ALMEREYDA Right. Well, it might've been natural to set this story in a cold futuristic city where technology is visibly walling people off from one another, but it seemed more interesting to veer in the opposite direction --- to show a place offering a contrast, even an antidote, to that sort of loneliness. Even or especially if you take away all the postcard imagery common to New Orleans movies: Mardi Gras floats, Cajun stuff, vampires and voodoo -- take that away and you're left looking at a radiantly lived-in old city, and a bunch of people with an incredible appetite for life.

MARS Except maybe the contemporary equivalent of voodoo, now that you mention it, is the Internet, a vast popular cult allowing people to reach past or through reality.


You have a sort of thriller plot -- a woman goes looking for her missing sister -- and you toss in all these references to people like Blaise Pascal, Nicola Tesla, Emily Dickinson, William Blake. Prophetic, premodern loners who created elaborate worlds in their heads and who, in so doing, affected the lives of people living beyond their own time.

This entire "interview" is one of the cutiest, most pretentious, self-back-patting, bits of promotion I've seen in a long time, and it would all go down a lot better with me if it didn't seems such a stupendous rip-off of the Maurid Audran books of George Alec Effinger, a heck of a nice guy who died penniless last year.

His New Orleans cyberpunk books were not obscure, save presumably in the film world; each novel won the Best Novel Hugo.

And only in the film world would "avatars," an idea explored in fiction for decades, and in the real world for many years (and even used various times in other films) be trumpted as something coming in "the future."

Presumably along with "internal combustion engines" and "home computers."

Read The Rest Scale: you probably won't be as irritated as I am.

1/26/2003 09:22:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Insomnia Cure!
Works for me. I recommend it!

Get up, pee, rinse hands, wash face, drink glass of water, go back to bed, turn over, don't look at clock, come up with silly idea for post, giggle, turn over, review why everybody hates my comments, turn over, review embarrassing incidents of past week (embellishing as necessary), turn over, decide to masturbate, realize most reliable fantasy is 28 years old, that doesn't help, turn over, don't look at clock, review embarrassing incidents of last five years, give up, go to consuite, my what an interesting hotel!, the hallways are all narrow and twisted, the lights are dim but glowing, everyone is dressed like the florid decadent ambassador from Babylon 5, though not the hair styles thank god, elevator is small and old fashioned with only a waist-high gate so you can see the walls moving past, and there are only two buttons -- up and down, push down, elevator slooooooooooooowwwwwwllllllly moves down, at bottom a regular elevator door falls into place and elevator starts moving forward, which attracts the attention of the gardeners who run after shouting encouragement to escape mad elevator, finally find the door knob, leap out, receive congratulations from gardeners on escape, return to hotel, everybody else goes off to lunch with the aliens, give up on the consuite, turn over, don't look at clock, find The Book of The Convention, try reading it, it keeps falling apart because it's a handmade/altered book, pretend not to notice couple on couch trying to screw, find a "page" in the book that's a triangular bandana containing all the tiny cloisonné lapel pins of all the conventions in the series, the pins are very very pretty and very very tiny, give up on pins, turn over, look at clock, well that was ten minutes just now. The only thing to do is....

Read The Rest Scale: if you have to ask, no point in my telling you. But I'll be sure to apply Luke's cure this very night!

1/26/2003 12:38:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SPEED DRINKING IS A BRITISH INVENTION, innit? All you can drink for six hours for a fixed price.
The more the alcohol flows, the more your shoes stick to the floor and the effects of excessive drinking begin to show. In the sea of mini-skirted women is Amanda, 22. "You're guaranteed a shag here," she says.

Girls like Amanda are the reason Matthew, 20, comes to Tivoli's, as well as the beer. "The girls are easy, the beer is cheap and it's a fun place," he says, trying to make eye contact with a passing girl.

It's true that the New World still has much to learn from the High Culture of the Old World.

Read The Rest Scale: hic.

1/26/2003 03:42:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Just one of many ways Britain remains far superior to the US -- so someone wants to do away with it, of course.

Read The Rest Scale: it's full of crunchy sugary goodness.

1/26/2003 03:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MICHAEL KINSLEY STICKS A FORK IN JOE LIEBERMAN AND JOHN MCCAIN pointing out how annoying each of them can be.
They are, in a word, pious. If hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, piousness is virtue paying tribute to itself.


Lieberman is literally pious [...] he also has the hectoring, bromidic high-rhetorical style reminiscent of an especially pompous clergyman. [...] All this melds unattractively with the hair-trigger indignation of a more recent but increasingly familiar social type: the ambulance-chasing state attorney general, always scanning the horizon in search of a reason for a press conference. Greenhouse gases today, violent video games tomorrow, some other alliterative outrage the next.


Both men are hooked on cheap iconoclasm. How many times can a politician be the rare member of his party who takes the position of the other party on some issue or other before this stops being such a wonderful surprise? McCain and Lieberman have stumbled (perhaps) on a brilliant formula. By being dissidents toward the center, rather than toward the extreme, they get to luxuriate in two of the press's most popular (and, you would have thought, mutually exclusive) categories simultaneously: courageous outsider and moderate voice of reason.

But moderation, far from courageous, can be too easy.

Read The Rest Scale: yeah, do.

1/26/2003 02:41:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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RYAN LIZZA CHECKS OFF where the Democratic wannabes are right now, using their gathering at a NARAL function as a benchmark. A useful update.

Read The Rest Scale: if you're already hotly into the 2004 campaign.

(I was a Gary Hart delegate from my local Washington State precinct caucus to the county convention in 1984, so I remain sympathetically open-minded towards him; I also, incidentally, wound up with my picture, along with a handful of others, on the front page of the Seattle Times, as our caucus happened to be closest to the paper's office, and thus most convenient to get "art" for the story -- thus, strangely, making my picture appear in one form or another in a prominent way in each major Seattle paper in both presidential elections I lived through in my eight-plus years in Washington state.)

1/26/2003 02:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GAY SCIENCE: Interesting interview with British historian David Cannadine on doing history, writing, and suchlike topics.
My view is that the historical process is a very complicated thing, and the older I get the more I'm convinced that it's the purpose of politicians and journalists to say the world is very simple, whereas it's the purpose of historians to say, "No! It's very complicated." So I find single, party-line views of the past to be inadequate. On the whole what I try to do in the history that I write is to both make it accessible and yet also give a sense of the complexity and contradictions of things. And that doesn't sit easily with a very simple, politically partisan position.
I'm, unsurprisingly, sympathetic to this, as it is in accord with my worldview and my philosophy of blogging.

If you've not noticed. Read The Rest Scale: oh, yes, please do.

1/26/2003 01:51:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ASTROTURFING: I'm a bit bemused that this has suddenly become a Big Blogging Issue in the past week or so, with countless bloggers from Tom Tomorrow to Atrios to Everyone Else Having Just Discovered It and Being Outraged.

Not that I don't think that's all fine. I do. I'm just bemused that they've all just discovered This Brand New Issue. I wrote about the Republican Team Leader Program, in detail, in March, 2002, on the 30th, here:

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

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

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

I couldn't get anyone much to pay attention to this organized campaign, and its details, for the most part. Not a single comment was left. No one linked to it. Where were you guys on this last March, when I supplied URLs, quotes, and details?

This leaves me soggy and hard to light. Sniffle.

1/26/2003 12:44:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HAS ANYONE TOLD LETTERMAN?: Hey, gang, I've got a great idea! Let's drop bowling balls from airplanes over the Utah salt flats!

It's for science!

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/26/2003 12:37:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, January 25, 2003
MORE than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci first sketched out designs for manned flight, British engineers have succeeded in putting his ideas into practice.

A glider based on drawings by da Vinci has made its maiden flight from a hillside in Sussex. It is part of a widespread revival of interest in da Vinci’s hundreds of mechanical designs, many of which lay forgotten in libraries for hundreds of years.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/25/2003 11:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PRIORITIES: The Senate has them straight.
Senator Robert C. Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, successfully inserted a measure providing more than $150,000 for the office of Senate president pro tem emeritus, a ceremonial job he now holds. Senate Republicans pushed Mr. Byrd, an elder statesman of the Senate, out of his elegant suite on the first floor of the Capitol, but have agreed to build him a new office.
We're all very proud. Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

1/25/2003 11:43:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MORE MATRIX HYPE. Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

1/25/2003 11:35:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JAMES CAMERON STILL WORKING ON MAKING A FILM IN SPACE we see here. His owning the rights to Kim Stanley Robinson's "Mars" trilogy is obligatorily mentioned.

Read The Rest Scale: if you're interested.

1/25/2003 11:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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And the Times of London reports on the discovery of chemical/biological warfare suits found in the mosque. Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5. (Use "cypherpunk" for free ID and password for Times registration.)

1/25/2003 11:07:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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WARREN ZEVON: STILL WITH US for for a bit yet. Still marvelous.
"People write because it seems like it'll be an easier job than carpet laying, that they might meet more girls,'" he says.
That probably doesn't always work so well. (But maybe that's just me.)
"And they write because the world strikes them as being a marvelous place, and they want to keep bringing that to everybody's attention. You know, a scary place, a menacing place, an exciting place because it's scary and menacing. But mainly, kind of glorious.'"
Amygdala has a new Mission Statement. Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/25/2003 10:53:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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TWO PROFILES OF GEORGE BUSH make for a more stereoscopic picture. Bill Keller focuses on comparing Bush to Reagan; Ed Vulliamy looks at Bush's Midland roots, and focuses in his Christianity.

Read The Rest Scales 3.5 out of 5, to widen one's view by bringing these two pictures into a stereoscope.

1/25/2003 10:11:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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ONLINE NEWS SOURCE DOESN'T KNOW ITS OWN STRENGTH: The Grauniad reports on how the South Korean OhMyNews got the sports editor of The Japan Times sacked. (URL here, but it's in Korean.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

1/25/2003 08:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE INTERNET SCIENCE FICTION DATABASE, an invaluable resource, needs your help, as their server is overwhelmed. (Via Bill Humphries.)

1/25/2003 07:58:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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DATAPOINT: I belatedly note that Elie Wiesel, noted warmonger -- not, supports war on Iraq.
Is President Bush's policy of intervention the best response to an imperative need? Yes, it is said, and I am reluctant to say anything else. Bush's goal is to prevent the deadliest biological or nuclear conflict in modern history.

If the US, supported by the UN Security Council, is forced to intervene, it will save victims who are already targeted, already menaced. And it will win. The US owes it to us, and owes it to future generations. As the great French writer André Malraux said, victory belongs to those who make war without loving it.

Hmm. Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/25/2003 07:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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CRIKEY: AP reports:
(AP) Parents of more than 100 Danish scouts were outraged over a game of tag at a scout camp in which children acted as Jews wearing yellow Stars of David and tried to escape from adults pretending to be Nazis.

The group of about 160 scouts, aged 11-14, included a dozen teenagers from the Danish-speaking minority in northern Germany. The schoolyard was turned into a concentration camp with swastikas on the windows.

"I was shocked," Johanna Christiansen, a German woman, told the Ekstra Bladet newspaper on Thursday.

"It's wrong to expose children to this," said Christiansen, whose two daughters took part.

The local branch of the Danish Christian FDF scout organization organized the game last weekend at the Kongeaadal school, 260 kilometers (160 miles) southwest of Copenhagen.

Jes Imer of the local FDF chapter told the tabloid B.T. that they "may have crossed the line this time with a night game where Nazis chase Jews."

The schoolyard included a sign with the German words "Arbeit macht frei," or "Work will set you free," the infamous inscription over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

"I don't know whether I should apologize," Imer told B.T., adding "I didn't want the game to hurt anyone."

None of those involved could be reached for further comment.

It's consistent that this guy doesn't "know whether I should apologize" since he and the others who organized this and acquiesed to it saw nothing wrong with it in the first place. It's not inconsistent with European reporting on Israel/Palestine, either.

Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5; that's the whole unspeakable thing.

1/25/2003 07:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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IT'S OUT THERE, ALL RIGHT: Alternet's Top Ten Conspiracy Theories for 2002.

To be clear: I think just about everything listed is bogus hokum. But it's worth keeping track of what people believe. And, hey, it never hurts to ask questions.

Read The Rest Scale: if you want to know the truth they are keeping from you!

1/25/2003 07:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE HORROR!: Reporting on the much-discussed-in-publishing-circles event:
After five years as president of Random House, Ann Godoff was dismissed on Thursday Jan. 16 by president and chief executive Peter Olson, as part of a major shake-up at the Bertelsmann-owned publisher. Random House -- one of the premier imprints in American publishing, founded by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer in 1925 -- will be merged with Ballantine Books, a mass market imprint that recently published the novelization of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, to form a new entity called Random House Ballantine Group.
It is the snobbism dripping from every word of this paragraph which was the cause of Bertelsmann's move, of course. Heaven forfend that a house/imprint founded in the tawdry paperback book business (whose founders, Ian and Betty Ballantine, invented the paperback book in America with their first company, Pocket Books) make more money, be more successful, and become dominant over Random House, founded in litterachure..

Why, they publish Star Wars novelizations!


Now, said sources in the company, the up-market soul of Random House falls squarely to Knopf. Lumping Random Trade with Ballantine, a decidedly downmarket imprint....
Oh, the soullessness of the downmarket. Oh, the humanity!

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5 (the link will rot shortly, anyway).

1/25/2003 07:03:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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After 11 September, I was sent by my editor to insinuate myself into the Finsbury Park mosque and -- if possible -- to talk to Abu Hamza. I ended up hanging around for nearly a week. It is a place notoriously unfriendly to "infidel" journalists, but I had a few advantages over the other hacks desperate to find their way in: I have a vaguely Islamic-sounding name (in fact, it's Swiss); I studied Islamic philosophy at university, so I knew more about Muslim politics than most of the people there; and, because I look about 12 years old, it takes a bit more time for people to become suspicious of me.
Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5.

1/25/2003 06:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/25/2003 06:48:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I HAVE A CODE IN MY NODE: Nice piece on network theory.
Network scientists study networks: collections of people or objects connected to each other in some way. Think of the 1.5 million Manhattan residents or the 30,000 genes inside a human cell. Such networks, scientists argue, behave in ways that can't be understood solely in terms of their component parts. Without knowing what every single person or object within the network is doing, they say, it's nevertheless possible to know something about how the network as a whole behaves.


Eerier still, in 1999, Mr. Barabasi and a student at Notre Dame found that many of these small-world networks are also what scientists call scale-free. Many natural phenomena, including traits like height and I.Q., tend to cluster around an average (producing the familiar bell curve distribution). By contrast, scale-free networks go in for extremes: a few hubs -- nodes with lots of links -- and many more nodes with hardly any links at all. (Think of Google, the search engine, as a hub, and your personal homepage -- which probably has just a few links -- as an ordinary node.)

The writer, Emily Eakin, doesn't apply these observations to weblogs, Amygdala notes dryly.

For as Mr. Barabasi and his collaborator were able to show, the structure of scale-free networks has important practical implications. If you remove a few nodes at random, the network can still function normally. But if you remove one of the hubs, the results can be catastrophic.

This is intuitively obvious to anyone in a community who has observed the severe loss the community suffers when a major hub figure dies or ceases to be active.

Yet just which network model describes human society remains a subject of fierce debate. Mr. Barabasi believes the human social network is scale-free with the expected smattering of richly connected hubs. Mr. Watts disagrees. "If you asked people to list the number of people they recognize, that could be scale-free, everyone recognizes Michael Jordan," he said. "But if you said, `Who would you trust to look after your kids?' That's not scale-free. As you start to ratchet up the requirements for what it means to know someone, connections diminish."

Perhaps whuffie might be an answer to this.


"Duncan assumes the world is a matrix," Ms. Kleinfeld said in a telephone interview. "He wants to know how you get from one point on it to another. But what if the world isn't a matrix? What if people aren't all connected? What if they're islands in space?"

Then they're not highly active online.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/25/2003 06:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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HORRORS. Is this war propaganda? Sure. Is it at least mostly true, and terrible? Probably.
How Many People Has Hussein Killed?

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/25/2003 05:26:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, January 21, 2003
PAKISTAN AND NORTH KOREA: Good data from Seymour Hersh.

Read The Rest Scale: silly.

1/21/2003 08:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Monday, January 20, 2003
THE FATHER OF THE JACKALOPE, the father of the modern west, has died.
Douglas Herrick, who gets both the credit and the blame for perhaps the tackiest totem of the American West, the jackalope -- half bunny, half antelope and 100 percent tourist trap -- died on Jan. 6 in Casper, Wyo. He was 82.
Read it here, or read it elsewhere later.
His brother's eyes brightened with inspiration.

"Let's mount that thing!" he said.

I have no stock in the postcards! Damn, damn, damn.

Read The Rest Scale: you fools.

1/20/2003 11:15:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NEW YORK (CNN) – Linda McDougal was told she was suffering from an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her breasts, she was told, would have to be removed.

She was told wrong.

A paperwork mistake cost Linda McDougal both her breasts and left her suffering infections, facing more surgeries and trying to rebuild her life.

McDougal underwent the double mastectomy last year. Forty-eight hours after her breasts were surgically removed, McDougal's doctor broke the news to the patient and her husband: The surgery had been unnecessary; she had never had cancer.

I resist any urge to be flip, as I'm too sorry. Read The Rest Scale: if you need more of a lesson, but there it is.

1/20/2003 09:47:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SEGREGATION LIVES, as we've noted.

Read The Rest Scale: do please.

1/20/2003 09:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE DEFEAT OR THE LIBERATION?: This question lingers over more than Germans, or over World War II, or over war in general. It lingers over more questions than we might care to contemplate, political and personal, then or now.

Read The Rest Scale: yup.

1/20/2003 08:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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NEIL AND KEN POLLACK ARE GOOD. They're the good brother, bad brother, team, right? But which is which?

1/20/2003 07:45:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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JUDGE DECIDES SHE BELONGS IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE by asserting that Marvel mutants are non-human.

Who gave this woman the submitted comics? Talk about missing the point.... (Via Jim Henley, Cory Doctorow, and half of blogdom: what, you're reading it here first?)

I remain thankful for our wise system of jurisprudence, in which the Federal Courts spend god knows how many dollars and people-points on such issues, standing ready in case the issues arise in reality, with precedents ready.

1/20/2003 07:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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PETE TOWNSEND: Count me in as another who has always respected and enjoyed the hell out of this man's music, and who he generally has seemed to be.

Count me also as someone who is extremely dubious about accusations of involvement with child pornography until they are soundly proven.

Count me also as someone who believes there has been for some years a classic hysterical witchhunt going on in the Anglosphere on the topic, with absurd assertions such as that "children must always be believed" being made.

So count me as someone believing in Pete Townsend's innocence unless or until he is proven guilty, and finally count me, radically, as someone who finds the laws against possession of child pornography, as opposed to laws against abuse of children, also dubious, whatever I may think of such material, or the people who produce it (and, for what it's worth, looking at it, and engaging in the act of producing it, are Not Actually The Same Thing).

But The Smoking Gun, the invaluable Court TV site, has a document they suggest supports Townsend's account that he was engaging in research on the topic related to his own past. Here's the nut quote:

Townshend's paper, which he once posted on his official web site, also notes that the "pathway to 'free' paedophilic imagery is--as it were--laid out like a free line of cocaine at a decadent cocktail party: only the strong willed or terminally uncurious can resist."
I hope Townsend is indeed proven, rightfully, to have only engaged in research, and -- here's where people start storming the gates -- even if he's someone who gets off on pictures I find repulsive in the extreme -- be they of sex with little children or of sex with corpses -- I'm still not remotely convinced that sexual fantasy, whatever it is, so long as it remains only fantasy, should be a criminal act; it remains truly a thought crime.

But the point of my post is that while the Townsend document might be evidence towards support for Townsend's story, to me, it points, slightly, in the opposite direction.

No matter where I stand on free speech and free thought, as opposed to supporting the illegalization of actual child abuse, Townsend's quote reads very oddly to me. Because I don't know about you, but the fact that I can likely find lots of child porn easy as I get spam has never in the slightest tempted me to go look for it, or even look at it when offers arrive -- as they do on a daily basis -- in my inbox.

It takes no "strong will" or "terminal incuriosity" at all. It would take the opposite -- overcoming an overwhelming case of the creeps -- for me to go looking at pictures of young kids engaged in sex.

I'm equally unmoved by "terminal incuriosity" to ever check out, out of "curiosity" (a motive that I've always been driven by, to the point I usually drive other people crazy) to click on any offers to enlarge my penis, or offer me free porn, or give me work beyond my dreams, offer me a fortune in Name That African Country, or offer me pictures of [whatever] engaging in sex with [whoever] with their [whatever], no matter it's size, shape, scope, or age.

I don't say this out of any sense of moral superiority; I really don't care what anyone's sexual fantasies are; I only care how they act on some of them.

But for Townsend to tout the Immense Attraction causes the opposite doubt that the Smoking Gun intended, alas, to be raised in my mind.


Read The Rest Scale: if you don't want to just Move On to the next topic, after washing your hands. (Via the excellent R. Alex Whitlock, who mustn't be allowed to shut down his thoughtful blog.)

1/20/2003 06:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THANKS FOR THE TIP: On the latest ricin-related raid at Finsbury Park mosque:
He told a Scotland Yard news conference that officers had been advised in the planning of this morning's action by Muslim members of the force. They wore nylon covers on their shoes and avoided going into parts of them mosque used for prayer, he said. "We only entered office space and accommodation areas."
Useful to know. Similarly, Jewish wrong-doers using a shul for some criminal activity should be sure to secrete the Evidence in a Torah scroll.

Read The Rest Scale: either you care to follow along, or you don't.

1/20/2003 05:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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More swabs are left in fat patients, By David Derbyshire, Science Correspondent, (Filed: 20/01/2003).

Careless surgeons are far more likely to leave forceps, clamps and swabs inside fat patients than thin ones, a study has shown.

The extra layers of fat inside a patient and their bulkier bodies are thought to make it easier to lose track of surgical tools and dressings on the operating table.

The research, carried out at Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, looked at the medical records of 289 patients undergoing operations, including 54 who had objects left inside them.

Thirty-seven of the patients with "retained foreign bodies" needed second operations, and one died.

As a student, I was pretty good at math theory, but tended to make stupid errors of arithmetic. Probably this accounts for my -- wait while I run through the calculations one more time -- noting this means seventeen patients still walking around with the odd added random bit left in.

And that's just the number accounted in this trivial study. Who says surgery doesn't add value?

Read The Rest Scale: 1 out of 5.

1/20/2003 02:57:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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UNAFFIRMING ACTION: the "affirmative action" issue is a complex one, best discussed in nuanced detail, which is why Amygdala has never made a comprehensive policy statement on the issue, since it would take us a bit short of a gazillion words, and we don't have the time to make it short.

Our typically mealy-mouthed, useless, summary, might be that it has valid pro and con points, and the demonology of it is best studied in the details and timing.

Here's one observation, though. Conservative "black" commentator Armstrong Williams writes in the current Newsweek set of articles on the Michigan argument:

What I think my father meant, but was perhaps too stern to say, was that one should always rely on hard work and personal achievement to carry the day -- every day. Sadly, this rousing point seems lost on the admissions board at the University of Michigan, which wrongly and unapologetically discriminates on the basis of skin color. The university ranks applicants on a scale that awards points for SAT scores, high-school grades and race. For example, a perfect SAT score is worth 12 points. Being black gets you 20 points. Is there anyone who can look at those two numbers and think they are fair?

Supporters maintain that the quota system is essential to creating a diverse student body. And, indeed, there is some validity to this sort of thinking. A shared history of slavery and discrimination has ingrained racial hierarchies into our national identity, divisions that need to be erased. There is, however, a very real danger that we are merely reinforcing the idea that minorities are first and foremost victims. Because of this victim status, the logic goes, they are owed special treatment. But that isn’t progress, it’s inertia.

If the goal of affirmative action is to create a more equitable society, it should be need-based. Instead, affirmative action is defined by its tendency to reduce people to fixed categories: at many universities, it seems, admissions officers look less at who you are than what you are. As a result, affirmative-action programs rarely help the least among us. Instead, they often benefit the children of middle- and upper-class black Americans who have been conditioned to feel they are owed something.

Those are all entirely valid, important, points, frequently, and necessarily made.

Yet, how do they not apply to "legacy" admissions (of largely "white") students specifically given an edge over more academically qualified students solely because of "what they are," not because of their own "hard work and personal achievement"?

Perhaps there are better means to achieve "diversity" than contemporary ad hoc laws and arrangements. Perhaps some or all such contemporary laws and arrangements promote more damage than good (a difficult case to prove, but an argument with at least some valid supporting points). Perhaps soon will come the time to cease to attempt to help people discriminated against on grounds of "race" by means of continuing "racial" categories (inevitably the goal calls for somesuch time to ultimately occur). Perhaps the time is now, as many now argue.

But if so, surely this is an area where we needs must be consistent? Surely if we're now Boldly Moving Ahead Into A Pure World of Recognition Only Of Individual Achievement, we're required to drop all such group categorizations, such as "child of an alumni," and "child of a major donor," and "child of a major politician," and other such violaters of the goal of Individual Achievement?

(*cough* Bush. *cough*)

(Tangentially, what do sports scholarships have to do with academic achievement, and why are colleges running major entertainment endeavors as a major, distorting, part of their "mission," anyway?)

(I sidestep, for now, discussion of how one best judges "individual achievement" given ever-different sets of circumstances, a key kicker, and the multitude of other complexities of the "affirmative action" issue.)

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5, you're familiar with the argument.

1/20/2003 02:09:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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SUBVERSIVE SOUTHERNERS: Interesting review by Diane McWhorter of Catherine Fosl's book on minor ("major minor") civil rights figure Anne Braden, which both importantly notes that there actually was such a thing as attempted Soviet subversion of the civil rights movement and the US and that in the 21st century it's necessary to coldly look at that (and how badly it, overall, failed, and why, though that's my point, not McWhorter's), and, more relevantly to today's times:
AAs long as the cold war was on, historians made scant acknowledgment of how many of the ends, means and participants in the civil rights movement came out of the American left of the New Deal era. In the 1930's, mass demonstrations, ''We Shall Overcome'' and even the term ''civil rights'' as a synonym for black equality were hallmarks of an elastic network of liberals, labor unionists and, yes, Communists that was redbaited into oblivion by a familiar cast of subversive-hunters: J. Edgar Hoover, Southern legislators, the Ku Klux Klan.
The Republican Party, with a few exceptions, was not a part of the civil rights movement of the 20th century that led to the integration of the Armed Forces, the attempted desegregation of schools (in practice, many areas remain more segregated in schooling and housing than in the 1960's, a fact not nearly enough attention is paid to), the Voting Rights Acts, the armed intervention of the Federal Government with troops and tanks to enforce judicial civil rights decisions, the Civil Rights acts which made discrimination in public accomodations a violation of law, the long, slow, striking down of Jim Crow, and the eventual overall increase in minority opportunity that today leads to innocent and goodhearted calls for laws and government to be completely "race-blind," in the belief that either today society is so "race-blind" or that if we pretend it is, we'll complete the job of getting there.

All of which gets into complex policy choices I will immediately leap-frog out of the way of, for now, to merely note that it was, flawed and all, the leftists and the liberals who crafted and carried out the civil rights movement that led to today's US, and that they managed this despite being "of their time," the charming excuse ever-offered by apologsits for those who engage in an evil which has the merits of being popular at the time.

It's not an excuse I've ever seen as more than stained gossamer.

Read The Rest Scale; it's a balanced piece: 3 out of 5.

1/20/2003 01:31:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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BILL GIBSON: HEARD OF HIM?: I've been around the science fiction and publishing business since I was a child. I was a late starter compared to some in getting my first letters published when I was 12, published my first fanzine by 13, and went to my first sf convention the same year.

Started working reading slush for Amazing Stories and Fantastic Stories magazines by 16.

So I've watched an awful lot of people come along over the years, and move from strugging wannabe writer to successful novelist/short story writer. Some detour into screenplays and may even have movies made, or come to work successfully as tv writers.

Most, of course, talk a lot, constantly tell everyone they can find about their latest stories, unendingly refer to themselves as "writers," and never see a word in professional print.

Mostly the latter wander out of my sight.

So I've always been impressed by the arc my old friend Bill Gibson has taken, from kid science fiction fan back in the early 1960's, before I learned cursive handwriting (a technology I still struggle with), to re-activated sf fan in the early Seventies, when mutual friend, sf fan, and professor of English (and sf) Susan Wood, brought Bill back into contact with current active fandom, and non-coincidentally taught him what she knew of sf writing, and -- coincidentally or not: you be the judge -- brought Bill into contact with folks such as myself, and Patrick Hayden.

After doing a triumverate fanzine for a bit with Susan, and Allyn Cadogan, and generally being an Active Fan and Cool Guy, Bill suddenly started selling stories, particularly to Gardner Dozois at Asimov's and to Ellen Datlow at Omni.

Von Neumann replicators engaged, and Bill became an international mega-star almost in between blinks of the eye.

So, having achieved Post-Modern Grandmaster Status, more or less, some time ago, here he is on the cover of the New York Times Book Review.

Funny world, innit? Unfortunately, since Bill is best known as a "science fiction writer," despite bringing Thomas Pynchon into the first paragraph, the reporter cannot resist the temptation to immediately reach for the most somnambulent metaphors her infintesimal mental thesaurus has available:

Gibson, who must be tired of hearing himself identified as ''coiner of the term 'cyberspace,' '' has gone to worlds not yet reached under Commander Pynchon's rule.

Critics of science fiction grouse that Gibson can't get far while steering the same old postmodern spacecraft, and dismiss his inventiveness as mere bells and whistles. But some die-hard fans lament that he's deserting the mother ship every time he tries something off the flight path of his first novel, ''Neuromancer'' (1984).

I imagine Bill must not be tired of dull-witted reporters using "rocketship" metaphors to discuss his sky-fi career, despite the fact that, well, I've not by any means read all of Bill's ouevre at this point, but off-hand, I can't think of a single story involving rockets, or spaceships, or travel to other worlds, that he's written.

It's enough to make one understand why a few earlier excellent writers in earlier times in which genre writers were held, comparatively, in strait-jackets in maximum security metaphor prisons, lest they be allowed to escape and poison the meme-pool of Pure General Literature, began to rant and rave against the limitations of being known as a "science fiction writer" (now often reduced to that banal lazy coinage coinage "sci-fi"). (No, I didn't mention "Harlan Ellison"; why did you ask?)

Observation: some bad pattern recognition going on; same old story. But: Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5; it's a fair review, otherwise, and a rave. Kudos, Bill.

1/20/2003 12:18:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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The editorial board of Amygdala would like to make clear that not only do we love The Leader (whose interview we translated last week), but we also love the Dear Leader (son of the Great Leader) of North Korea, and the Supreme Leader of Iran(coincidentally, two out of three of the Axis of Evil, who are rumored to be in strategic talks with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and possibly even Dr. Evil himself).

We love all governmental dictators with the totalitarian chutzphah to form a great Cult of Personality in this day and age, and style themselves as Leader, with or without modifier.

It's so charmingly old school: who else these days has the pizzaz, the vim, the vigor, of your classic megalomaniac tyrant killers, your Mao, your Hitler, your Stalin? Frankly, upstarts such as your Saddam Hussein can only dream of being in the Old-School Class (as he reportedly literally does dream of Stalin), and pipsqueaks of the scale of Robert Mugabe can't even fantasize of such a dream.

So a piece such as this, on the "makeover" of Muammar el-Qaddafi, whose public relations campaign for positive strokes is in full metal jacket, well, we live to read stuff such as this.

No, no fisking here. Just go read it yourself, and contemplate. It's the latest in blogging technology: it's self-fisking!

I shall accompany you with mental commentary. Just read and imagine it and enjoy.

Read The Rest Scale: I just told you to.

Addendum: William Burton has some advice for the Leaders, from the Dear Leader himself!

1/20/2003 11:11:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MULLAH KREKAR: MYTH OR MENACE?: I wrote about Ansar Al Islam, the Taliban-type Iraqi Kurdish group, a few days ago. Now it seems their leader (real name Najm Faraj Ahmad), who had been being held in Dutch maximum security for four months, has been released after, reportedly, the US failed to supply any substantive information on his terrorist ties, and the FBI took little information in questioning him.

Is this a case of bad reporting, Dutch spin, disinformation while Krekar is used as bait, or is it most likely true on the face: either incompetence, or little actual evidence of Ansar Al Islam/Al Queda active collorobration?

I don't know; it's a story I'll try to keep watching.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5.

1/20/2003 10:52:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Saturday, January 18, 2003
THE PROTEST FOR PEACE as made by the march on Washington is reported on by the essential libertarian, Jim Henley.

It's too late to use his drinking rules:

1. Listen to the speeches. (Sorry. Not all the rules are fun.)
2. Score as follows:
Speaker mentions "blood for oil" - drink
Speaker mentions "white male" anything - drink
Speaker mentions capitalism - drink
Speaker mentions "Palestine" - drink
Speaker mentions Mumia - drink twice
Speaker mentions Kyoto - drink twice
You miss a mention - chug

Read The Rest Scale: 5 out of 5.

1/18/2003 08:08:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Too much choice! That's what's wrong with the West, I tell you. Also, olives on pizza.

It's horrible, I tell you: immense choice of exquisite food when one wants it! Much better to scrabble for the taters and black shriveled radishes one grows oneself, in honest, self-earned, way. One need not engage in any capitalistic endeavor at all if one only eats food you grow yourself. And since you're a vegan, you'd never kill an animal, or eat an animal by-product (eggs, milk, evil, evil, evil, demon out!).

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5 for a piece that rants on this sort of thing:

Tesco’s computer system, for instance, will order a precisely calculated number of lettuces at 10pm one evening, and they will be there at 6am the next day, sourced by a single company from Spain or Kenya or wherever the season dictates, then brought to the store by giant lorries.
Much better when done by small lorries, and calculated on abacuses, but only sloppily, and making sure that third world farmers earn nothing, since Trade Is Evil.

Amygdala regrets that it might not post much from now on, due to our endeavor to raise a sheep, so we can clip it, and have wool, for which we'll build various machines from which to eventually make our clothes. We expect to be back sometime in 2008. With a sweater. And more!

(Via Andrea Harris.)

1/18/2003 09:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, January 17, 2003
THE NEW 1040 TAX FORM has been obtained by Max Sawicky. Check it out.

Read The Rest Scale: hell, yes.

1/17/2003 07:39:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, January 16, 2003
I WAS QUOTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES and then snipped out. Oh, well. Wanna know the story?

Here's the article by Noah Schachtman profiling Glenn Reynolds in today's Circuits section of the Times.

Now you'll get to see how two long e-mails can be boiled down to a paragraph, which is reduced to a sentence, which is then cut.


I had been rather startled on January 6th, a week ago Monday, to receive an e-mail from Noah saying he was profiling Glenn for the New York Times and "like to speak with you about the influence Reynolds' wields in -- excuse the expression -- the blogosphere," and that I should call him on the phone immediately, since his deadline was Wednesday afternoon. Because I got home late that evening, and neglected to check my e-mail until it was about 10 p.m. Rocky Mountain Time, which meant it was midnight in NY, I responded in e-mail instead. I was exhausted, and daunted at trying to be articulate while so tired and rushed, but here's what I managed to grind out:

I'm afraid I'd not checked my e-mail in some hours, and only just saw this; I expect it's too late to call you, as it's after midnight East Coast time, and in any case, if it isn't too late for you, it's too late for me to be pithy with a good quote, I think; I'll be going to sleep shortly. Unfortunately, I'm out the door early tomorrow, and will be out until at least 8 or 9 p.m. East Coast time tomorrow, away from both phone and e-mail, but I can try to call you when I get home (I'd appreciate a call back, actually; I'm really broke just now).

I think neologisms such as "blog" and "blogger" and "blogosphere," while rough, uncouth, and ugly sounding to most people at first, rapidly become simply common terms after sufficient exposure to such usage.

I can say that I think Glenn's influence is immense among the set of bloggers and blog-readers who focus on news and politics -- the blogs and readers that largely coalesced on and not long after September 11th, and which thus wound up with the oft-inaccurate, off-inappropriate,
oft-inadquate, sobriquet of "warbloggers." His influence is particularly strong with those of a more conservative and libertarian bent, but for many bloggers of a more leftist persuasion, he often serves equally, or more so, as the Big Target to rebut, challenge, or criticize.

On the other hand, given that the "blogosphere" is also made up of such alternative clusterings, many pre-dating the "warblogger" phenomenon, as the original technobloggers, or those whose "blogs" are simply largely personal journals, or those focused on music and pop culture, or any of the innumerable sub-groupings (Iranian teenage girl Britney Spears fans, say), it's worthy of note that Glenn is as largely invisible and irrelevant to many such bloggers as other political/news-oriented
bloggers are.

On the third hand, most bloggers aren't neatly pigeon-holed, despite superficial appearances, and even if their blog is largely single-topic oriented, such as, say, many of the "sex blogs" are, or music blogs are, many bloggers have multiple interests, and also follow some or many of the news/political blogs.

Most bloggers -- using the definition of "blogger" as someone who links great deal in their entries, not just someone who writes a personal journal -- are by nature neophiles, news oriented (by whatever ideosyncratic definition of "news" they may prefer), and thus often tend to be unendingly, pantingly, looking for tips on New Stuff, As Soon As Possible, hoping to be the first kid on their ASCII block to post a given link, and comment and be witty and insightful on a given bit of news and its implicit issues. And to thus gain recognition, and reputation, and links, and hits, which are the currencies of the blogging world.

Thus Glenn, as something of an idiosyncratic generalist, tends to be popular, though the ever-growing, in snowball-down-a-mountain fashion, blogging phenomenon, has also contributed to this simply insofar as Glenn established himself as a major, useful, intelligent, coordinating site of information on September 11th, when most major news site servers were overwhelmed by the crush of hits, and unavailable. Glenn made his reputation then, and as the prime example of the self-starting non-professional news source (excepting perhaps Matt Drudge, whom I don't think of as a blogger, and whom it's not clear to me that he thinks of himself as a blogger), then became the most cited example by the professional media, and thus gained more readers and more links, and thus more links and cites, and thus more readers, and thus more links and cites, and... thus the snowball becomes ever larger. This phenomenon can be seen in similar, if smaller, growth of those who have found a niche, and gained like-minded, or intrigued, readers; examples would be, for instance, Asparagirl, whose hits, I believe, surged after being touted by king-of-the-hill of self-supporting-professional-bloggers, Andrew Sullivan, as a young, gay (actually bi-sexual), conservative, Jewish, New York, female blogger, or Vodkapundit, who has tapped the snarky humorous young conservative readership, or Atrios, whose Eschaton blog was an early drum-beater on Trent Lott, and who has rapidly risen in linkage from leftist bloggers, particularly after citations in the Washington Post, and in Paul Krugman's Times column. Howard Bashman's _How Appealing_ website is rapidly becoming essential in
legal circles. Virginia Postrel has carved out a unique liberal libertarian perspective with her dynasism/stasis-dichotomy analysis. And so on. Myself, being ideologically and politically fairly idiosyncratic, and thus tending to irritate conservatives, leftists, libertarians, socialists, and more or less everyone on the political spectrum with fair frequency, I know that my "popularity" and readership aren't nearly what they would be if I chose to simply pick a political crowd and throw red meat to it, as so many doctrinaire political blogs do, or even if I simply picked a single topic and stuck to it, rather than sticking to posting on whatever strikes my fancy and interest, be it politics, weird news, technology, pop culture, science fiction, history, archeology, neurology, or whatever.

Being one of those idiosyncratic, rather-generalist-type bloggers, I find that my hits surge overwhelmingly when linked to by one of the Big Bloggers, and none more so than when the Instapundit specifically links to me, as I recently attested.

(I imagine that a link from a major newspaper would dwarf an Instalink, however, and I also can't compare to a link from Andrew Sullivan, having never yet received one, though I'm told it can be a heady, and server-disturbing, experience.) I think of Glenn as, in some ways, the Table Of Contents of political blogging. He points, and an awful lot of people follow the links.

Although definitely somewhat tilted towards the conservative/libertarian side, he's his own ideology, the opposite of rabid, and generous in linking to those who disagree with him, including those of a liberal or leftist persuasion. I find him generally fair-minded, although I certainly disagree with him on many issues. Although hardly alone, or an overwhelming voice, he's distinctly an important voice in spreading word of a particular issue or article, and in ringing a bell on an issue; when Glenn sounds the call, a lot of bloggers and readers hear it, link to it, debate and argue it, and generally spread the word. He doesn't set the agenda of the politico-newsblogging world, but submits a lot of topics, a major voice, to the debate.

Technoblogger examples:,
Sexblogger examples: or see here.

Early bloggers:,

Sorry this isn't more coherent; too tired. I'll see if I can do any better tomorrow, but no promises. Any questions?

Thanks for asking me, and might I ask how you ran across me?

best wishes,
Gary Farber

Noah responded the next day with thanks, a mention that he knew a bit of what I'd discussed, but not in the detail I'd provided, and asked if I might have an example of a blogger who'd gotten a boost from Glenn the way I'd mentioned Asparagirl getting a mention from Sullivan. He also asked what I do when I'm not blogging. I responded that evening, beginning with his question about bloggers getting a boost:
Better off asking him that. I can certainly say that I'm not the only one to observe that Glenn is extremely generous in linking to anyone who writes something he finds interesting, or who provides an interesting link, and I've not observed him to discriminate in his generosity because of political views or disagreements. That is, he's certainly inclined to be particularly generous in linking to people who provide support for his point of view, but he also provides plenty of links to people who disagree with him intelligently or interestingly.

Similarly, his blogroll (sidebar on the left side of his blog) includes many distant from him on most political spectrums, such as Clinton economist Brad deLong, or young leftists such as Matthew Yglesias
and Oliver Willis or veteran journalist Matt Welch As well as, of course, many in greater ideological sync with, or to the right of, Glenn.

This contrasts dramatically with Andrew Sullivan, who, although his blog clearly receives far more hits and attention than Glen, is pretty stingy in linking to other bloggers, provides no blogroll of other bloggers for readers to generally sample, and who doesn't appear to ever link to anyone he disagrees with unless he's going to make mock of them or condemn them.

This contrast in linking policies, and between those who are generous in spreading "link love" via blogrolls and specific links to "lesser" bloggers, and those who do not, is oft-remarked upon between fellow bloggers. It's frequently noted that those who are generous benefit by providing a more interesting blog with a greater diversity of views and information, and are in turn return linked to more often, than those who do not.

Glenn has observedly given an awful lot of bloggers boosts, and does so on a daily basis. At one point some months ago he mentioned several people regarding him as their "blog parent," i.e., having inspired them to start their own blogs, and everyone else he inspired ended up writing him, and he posted an extremely long list of those who regarded him as such. (I don't recall if that was the precise phrase used; it might have been a slightly different phrase than "blog parent," but that was the concept.)

(You can find an organized set of web pages of this sort of thing at .) Here are partial lists for Glenn: here -- that's 58 blogs; here -- that's 15 blogs; and here -- 3 more, and lots of bloggers don't use Blogtree.

If you're not familiar with these blogs -- I'm not familiar with them all, but with many -- you might not recognize that they span the ideological spectrum, from militant right-wingers, such as Bill Quick's _Daily Pundit_, to idiosyncratic anti-interventionist libertarians such as Jim Henley's _Unqualified Offerings_, to centrists such as Jay Zilber's _Mind Over What Matters_ and Geitner Simmons' _Regions of Mind_, to liberals such as
Brian Linse's _Ain'tNoBadDude_ , or collegiate liberal _TedBarlow_, to pro-war liberals such as Mac Thomason's _War Liberal_ to leftists such as Chris Bertram's _Junius_, or TalkLeft, or Avedon Carol's _The Sideshow_

My own inspiration was my longtime friend Patrick Nielsen Hayden, NY science fiction editor for Tor Books, whose Electrolite blog is superb. He directly talked me into taking the writing I'd been doing on Usenet and mailing lists, and taking it to a blog.

My politics, as I mentioned, are idiosyncratically eclectic, but it's fair to say that on a number of issues I'm distinctly more to the left than Glenn, and that I'm a great deal more favorable, on the whole, to Democrats than he is, but he's certainly given me boosts at reasonable times with links. I've seen my hits shoot up, after being "instapundited," anywhere from 200 to 1600 more, in a day, depending on the phrasing of what he said, and the timing. (Generally more towards the latter number than the former.) The effect is, however, temporary, wearing off after a day, as a rule, when the entry has scrolled off. On the other hand, I get a regular set of hits every day from being on Glenn's blogroll, along with the many dozens of others listed there.

[on what I do when I'm not blogging]:

Mm. Some blogger like to talk about themselves and such things a great deal, and some remain more or less completely anonymous. As usual, I'm somewhere in between. Let's say, for the public record, that I'm a Brooklyn-born sometime editor and freelance writer, with a background in NY publishing. And I'm available for professional editing and writing assignments. :-)

Anything else I can do you for?

I know I'll find out sooner, rather than later, by the way, but I can't help asking if your piece is for Circuits, or for which section of the Times?

Oh, and in case it's not obvious, if there's any way you can work my URL into your piece, or a sidebar, or anything, that would be deeply wonderful. :-) (Do, if this happens, please make sure you are correct in that my blog is named "Amygdala," after the part of the brain, *not* "amygdalagf," which is merely part of the URL [the title, plus my initials, because "" was taken, though not being used]; I mention this because this error is made with some frequency.)

I will note for the record, by the way, that I've carefully only mentioned bloggers I think worthy of greater recognition and note for their fine quality.

One of the things I think makes Glenn so successful is that, in my experience, at least, he's extraordinarily reasonable, and respects people whom he disagrees with, which is more than one can say about probably three-quarters of blogdom, which often has a tendency towards shrillness, dogmatism, and echo-chamberism.

I don't know if I can respond again tonight, but if you shoot me something, I might be able to get off a quick response in the morning before I leave to be out again all day. Or, as we say, maybe not. Do let me know if I can be of further assistance, and I'll certainly make the effort if possible.

best wishes,
Gary Farber

I didn't receive anything before I left the next morning, and came home Thursday evening, the 9th, and found no mail from Noah; I went to sleep around 9:30 p.m.. Friday evening I came home to find that to find that Noah had written me the previous evening at ten to midnight East Coast time, about twenty minutes after I'd gone to sleep, I responded:
> i had to edit one of your quotes for length. want to make sure this is cool
> w you. get back at me ASAP.
> nms
> "Glenn, as something of an idiosyncratic generalist, tends to be
> popular with the news oriented, with those unendingly, pantingly, looking
> for tips on New Stuff, As Soon As Possible," wrote Gary Farber, a fellow
> blogger, in an e-mail.
I guess that will fly, so, sure, okay. Thanks for asking, rather than just making the change. I'd still like to know which Times section to look for the piece in? I guess I'll hear when it's published, but do feel free to drop a line when you know.

best wishes,

No e-mail from Noah before I left in the morning, but I came home Friday evening to find that he'd written at about 11 a.m. East Coast time:

could you give me a call ASAP? 212-[XXX-XXXX].


I gave him a call, and he answered, saying "dude, I couldn't get hold of you to okay your quote, so I dropped it from the article; sorry about that; I'll be seeing the piece back from my editor on Monday, and maybe I can get it put back then. Thanks for the help." He also confirmed that, yes, the piece was for Circuits.

I never did hear back from him further on the article, though we did later exchange a couple of e-mails on other comments I made in response to his blog.

Thus, two long e-mails, from which a paragraph was extracted, and condensed into a sentence, which wound up in the bit bucket.

And now you know [Paul Harvey voice]... The Rest Of The Story.

1/16/2003 06:27:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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