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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.

Thursday, September 09, 2004
IBM EXECUTIVE TYPEWRITERS. So now we hear that the Bush Jerry B. Killian documents may be forgeries. Are they? I have no idea. But I do know some things that are nonsense when I see them, such as this:
The experts also raised questions about the military's typewriter technology three decades ago. Collins said word processors that could produce proportional-sized fonts cost upwards of $20,000 at the time.

"I'm not real sure that you would have that kind of sophistication in the office of a flight inspector in the United States government," Showker said.

"The only thing it could be, possibly, is an IBM golf ball typewriter, which came out around the early to middle 1970s," Haley said. "Those did have proportional fonts on them. But they weren't widely used."
What a lot of bullshit. Some "expert." I was typing profusely in the Seventies, and while it's certainly true that they were a minority of typewriters, the IBM Executive C came out in 1959, and could be found in countless offices. Oh, yeah, it was proportional font. So was the Executive A, which came out in 1948. So was the B, which came out in 1954. (See timeline here.)

Here's an A from 1953:
Note specifically:
The IBM Executive uses a unique system of letter spacing... instead of every character taking exactly the same space on the writing line, as on standard typewriters, thin letters get narrower space, wide letters get the wider space needed. So, each word, each line, is more attractive, and more legible, and the overall appearance is outstanding.
It doesn't take a typography expert to recall that the Executive typewriter model, made for decades, was highly popular -- though, yes, in less use than monospaced typewriters -- that millions were made and found in offices everywhere, and at prices commensurate with other upbrand models. They in no way cost "$20,000" or even $2000. They sold new for a few hundred dollars.
"The only thing it could be, possibly, is an IBM golf ball typewriter, which came out around the early to middle 1970s," Haley said. "Those did have proportional fonts on them. But they weren't widely used."
More bullshit. The golfball Selectric came out in 1961. I have no idea how many or few the Army might have bought, but I have no problem believing that by 1972 it might have been more than quite a few.
But Haley added that the use of the superscript "th" cast doubt on the use of any typewriter.

"There weren't any typewriters that did that," Haley said. "That looks like it might be a function of something like Microsoft Word, which does that automatically."
Or it might have been done by a Selectric, which most certainly did superscripts and subscripts. All you had to do is switch golfballs. Doesn't anyone remember actually using these things?

Here is the document in question. Here is the main CBS piece.

Conclusion: does this prove the document isn't a forgery? Of course not. Aside from it being difficult to prove a negative, it's early yet in the examination of these documents. We'll see. There remain valid open questions, and whatever one's desires are to Believe in a particular direction, that doesn't advance verification either of authenticity or falsification of these documents. But I do know that the linked to "doubts" raised by this article are demonstrably spurious in those I have knowledge of and can check, which certainly doesn't give me faith in the reliability of what I can't check (the handwriting assertions).

Read The Rest Scale of the CNS piece: up to you.

LATER: Valid questions remain.

YET LATER: Avedon Carol reminds me of what I knew perfectly well, but had slipped my mind, which is that the Selectrics all had a little lever to pull (upper right, I think) to tighten the kerning when you chose. So that would strongly suggest a possible (though unproven) answer to the Mystery Of The Kerning.

It's also interesting that the White House has been spending the past two days sending out copies of the CBS memos, and discussing them at length, without challenging their authenticity, though that, too, of course, doesn't prove anything at all. If they are forgeries, though, and I were Bush, Rove, and company, I'd sure be mad at my press office for this cock-up in not challenging the documents as such.

EVEN YET LATER: Hmm, well, that's gotten a few more hits than I expected, thanks to such folks as Unfogged, Oxblog, Atrios, Pandagon, and others (yes, I wuv you too). Do, visitors, along with possibly enjoying or frowning at other posts, consider the words at the top of the page, please; as ever, it's a good week for that.

LATER, LATER, LATER: Contrary to comments on various other blogs: a) the Selectric was not an Executive, and vice versa. The Executive was not a golfball typewriter; a lot of people without a clue have this confused. b) The only reason a Composer would be in someone's office complex was if a newsletter/magazine were produced there; those were highly expensive, and unusual, machines. c) Dan Bartlett spent a lot of time discussing the memos, as linked to above, and his office sent out dozens, maybe hundreds, of copies of them. This doesn't constitute "ignoring" the story, nor provide a reason for not suggesting the documents are forgeries. d) The documents, or some of them, may still turn out to be forgeries. Life doesn't follow our druthers.

IT'S ALWAYS LATER. Along with all the others (see below on the individual post), Aaron Barnhart of "TV Barn" linked to this (no permalink)!

ETERNALLY LATER. Come to think of it, while manually turning the knob on the machine up or down to do a super or subscript wasn't exactly a braintwister, nor physically award-winning, I also seem to recall that the little lever on the upper left (I think) would also do that for you. This wasn't exactly some sort of hyperspatial maneuver. Ooh, spooky, kids, turn the knob, or move the lever: how could anyone possibly do something so complicated!?

And swapping typeballs took about three, maybe five, eight seconds max; doing so that quickly was more or less the point of the Selectric; everyone using it did so as a matter of course in more documents than not; I realize that's hard to understand in the 21st Century, but try asking any geezer who was a secretary or writer or user in the Seventies how long it took or exotic it was.

(Again: the documents may be, and quite possibly are, fake; the amount of ignorance on typewriters remains astonishing; I feel very very very very very old.)

COSMICALLY LATER. A bunch of blogs have said I pointed out that IBM introduced proportionally spaced typewriters in 1953 or 1948. This is untrue. I pointed out that IBM began mass producing an incredibly popular typewriter, the Executive, then. IBM introduced a typewriter with those capabilities in 1941, with the Electromatic Model 04. My point wasn't that by the Fifties and Sixties typewriters were capable of doing proportional typing, but that it was a commonday occurrence in zillions of offices with the Executive. It's irrelevant whether Col. Killian might have conceivably put out such documents; what matters is how reasonable and likely it was.

# The Selectric II had a Dual Pitch option to allow it to be switched (with a lever at the top left of the "carriage") between 10 and 12 characters per inch, whereas the Selectric I had one fixed "pitch".
# The Selectric II had a lever (at the top left of the "carriage") that allowed characters to be shifted up to a half space to the left (for inserting a word one character longer or shorter in place of a deleted mistake), whereas the Selectric I did not.
# The Selectric II had a lever (above the right platen knob) that would allow the platen to be turned freely but return to the same vertical line whereas the Selectric I did not. This feature permitted the insertion of subscripts and superscripts.
Updated opinion here.

9/09/2004 04:19:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 20 comments


The Washington Post weighs in.

Experts consulted by a range of news organizations pointed out typographical and formatting questions about four documents as they considered the possibility that they were forged. The widow of the National Guard officer whose signature is on the bottom of the documents also disputed their authenticity.Yeah, that pretty much clinches it.

By Blogger SMASH, at Thursday, September 09, 2004 9:45:00 PM  

It's also interesting that the White House has been spending the past two days sending out copies of the CBS memos, and discussing them at length, without challenging their authenticity, though that, too, of course, doesn't prove anything at all. If they are forgeries, though, and I were Bush, Rove, and company, I'd sure be mad at my press office for this cock-up in not challenging the documents as such.Indeed. Surely, interesting though it is, the authenticity of these records takes second place to the fact the White House and Bush aren't furiously refuting their content at all.

If this whole National Guard issue matters, it matters because Bush has been lying - up to this day - about the events. Anything else is sidetracking from the issue.

By Blogger Unknown, at Friday, September 10, 2004 12:41:00 AM  

I vaguely recall my mom dragging me to her office at NIH around 1970 to learn how to use her mag card typewriter, which was also a Selectric II, and it wasn't new then.

I already had my own Selectric II at home, but it wasn't mag card (in fact, it wasn't even a correcting Selectric). Purchased cheap at government auction, which means it had been in use by the gov for years before I got my hands on it.

By Blogger Avedon, at Friday, September 10, 2004 5:16:00 AM  

Another odd discrepancy: Belmont Club

By Blogger Scrutineer, at Friday, September 10, 2004 5:43:00 AM  

You're ignoring all of the other discrepencies, however. For example, there's strong evidence that this memo was typed at night, but artificial light sources were not available until 1982! Also, Killian's kindergarten teacher says he couldn't read worth a damn and frequently confused his Rs and Ps, yet these memos are letter perfect. And the most glaring thing: the memos are in PDF form! There were PDF printers in the early 1970s, but they cost several million dollars and required a team of trained llamas to provide motive power for the disk drives.

By Blogger John W., at Friday, September 10, 2004 7:30:00 AM  

Just to follow up on John W.'s excellent research, I would add the fact that Killian's wife and son would obviously have been fully aware of what their husband/father was doing and thinking every moment he was alive.

By Blogger jexter, at Friday, September 10, 2004 8:13:00 AM  

The Selectric Typewriter Museum has a sample of IBM Executive output. Neither the font nor the letter spacing look anything like the dodgy memos, and he says "I can find no "th" superscript in any of the IBM literature I have."

By Blogger xfxf, at Friday, September 10, 2004 9:23:00 AM  

Why isn't the White House challenging the authenticity of these documents? I think it's because the White House generated them.

Or, to be more specific, a certain guy in the White House with the initials K.R.

Or, to be even more specific, some unknown underling working at Rove's behest (because, don't you know, Rove always leaves "no fingerprints").

You have a fruitful evidence trail, and all the real evidence looks bad for your guy, so what do you do? You generate fake evidence and hope someone rises to the bait. Then, if that works out, you sit back and let others prove the fraud. (Hey, you don't know anything about fraud -- you're just a humble adviser.)

And when one set of documents on this subject is proved to be a fraud, the entire pursuit of the subject looks fraudulent.

Democrats discredited. Bush still a hero. Game, set, and match.

By Blogger Steve M., at Friday, September 10, 2004 9:31:00 AM  

I think the Bush response is telling. If he knew for a fact that he had never tried to "game" the system, he would be crying foul. The documents might be forgeries, but it certainly sounds like Bush has enough guilt about that time period that it seemed feasible to him. Unless he was experiencing the alcoholic blackouts?

Does this matter? I don't know. Seems to me that it casts some doubts on his sterling character that he seems to be selling, but I agree with those bloggers who say that the bigger credibility problem is his last 4 years in office. Bungled war, world-wide anti-American sentiment, cratering economy, environment up for sale, more people sliding into poverty--those are the key reasons I won't vote for him. Hell, if I had been in his shoes in 1972, I might have done the same thing.

By Blogger Streak, at Friday, September 10, 2004 9:39:00 AM  

I really am deeply confused about this. Can't we just talk about the mess Bush has made of foreign policy and economics? No? Crap.

It seems plausible to me is that the content of the disputed memos reflects what happened and Killian's reaction. We have Killian's commanding officer confirming that he discussed these issues. Note also that the White House did not dispute the content but just tried to offer some spin. (I'm keeping my tinfoil beanie around just in case this is all part of a setup by Rove, of course.) So the core story -- Bush disobeyed orders and skipped his physical -- seems pretty damn solid to me.

But the two private memos could still be forgeries, created either by someone desperate for that last little bit of damning concrete evidence -- perhaps this was a rash last minute decision made shortly before the docs were handed over to CBS, so the memo was rigged on Word instead of the perpetrator doing the sensible thing and grabbing some old manual typewriter from the 60s. Or *puts on tinfoil beanie* the mixture of genuine and false documents were planted by operatives of Rove et. al.

Sure, the IBM Executive could handle proportional spacing, kerning and superscript, but from the description below, it seems that it would take a bit of fussing. Would the Texas office require that superscripts be used on all official and private memos? If some fiddling with the machine was required to create superscript, I can see a practiced clerk having this down to an art, while an officer typing a few reports here and there would be more awkward. Why would Killian trouble himself with superscript for a private memo? And if there was kerning adjustment available on this model, why fiddle with that, too, for a private memo? (I've seen the back and forth on kerning elsewhere, and not everyone is convinced that it exists in these documents.)

But on the other hand, maybe the superscript on/off pattern in one of the docs does point towards Killian doing the typing. He remembers the superscript key one time, but forgets to use it another time. If he had little experience with fancy typewriters, that seems like a very plausible error to make.

From what others have reported, it seems likely that workaday reports and memos were done on cheap typewriters with monospaced font, while the relatively expensive Selectrics and Executives were used for more polished public documents. Kerry's service records look to be done in good old Courier, so that certainly fits my mental model of what miltary typing from 35 years ago looks like. But if it turns out that some Texas corporation shipped a few used Executives to the local National Guard office so that everyone had access to nifty typewriters, that mental model is irrelevant.

Can CBS please clean this up soon so we can get back to real issues?

By Blogger Mary, at Friday, September 10, 2004 9:46:00 AM  

You've done some good research, Gary, although Powerline does have a lot of compelling evidence.

1. The difference in the two signatures (from the two different memos shown on that blog) is immense. They don't look at all alike.

2. The later memo (the Sept. 1) looks like it came from a less advanced typewriter. Did he all of a sudden get lazy or switch typewriters?

In any case, I cannot believe that 3 years after Sept. 11 we're arguing over the minutiae of typesetting. I don't care what happened 30+ years ago; I want to know what's going to happen in the next 4 years.

By Blogger Geoff, at Friday, September 10, 2004 10:17:00 AM  

You want minutiae? Gary, I wanted your opinion on this.

I may, of course, be totally wrong -- in fact, it's quite likely.

By Blogger Mac, at Friday, September 10, 2004 2:25:00 PM  

Looks like one of your updates hit on an important point I'd like to enhance. Note that I've personally used these proportional font IBM typewriters back around 1972 so I have specific knowledge of the operations of the machine. But that doesn't matter, the IBMs work like every other typewriter.

If you hit the lever for a carriage return, the platen advances one line. But if you advance the platen by holding on to the rollers on the ends of the carriage, you will notice it takes two clicks to advance one line. This was specifically part of the design, for two reasons:

1. To permit 1.5 line spacing instead of doublespacing (rare, but people do use it).

2. To allow you to advance the platen 1/2 line, type a superscript, and then roll back 1/2 line to resume typing in the nonsuperscript position.

By Blogger charlie don't surf, at Friday, September 10, 2004 7:50:00 PM  

Do not get side-tracked here. We've established the existence of the typewriter. The rest is minutiae.

All points are moot except the one that states that, while in the National Guard, George W. Bush, Your Commander-In-Chief and all-around tough guy, DISOBEYED A DIRECT ORDER from a superior! And got away with it!

There's your meat and potatoes.


That will turn any Vet purple.

If this is true and is NOT from K. Rove, then the above needs to be hammered home constantly at all costs.

If this all IS from K.R., then immediately drop the whole story, with the clear exception of the constant repetition of Bush's DISOBEYING A DIRECT ORDER! If Rove's really behind it, then it is a major tactical blunder on his part, putting the concept of Bush's DISOBEYING A DIRECT ORDER out there into the general consciousness.

Whether this idea of Bush's DISOBEYING A DIRECT ORDER ends up as Legend or Urban Legend, who cares? Doesn't really matter.

That we take this page from the K.R. textbook and lock in the fact in people's minds that George W. Bush DISOBEYED A DIRECT ORDER, is all that is important here.

By Blogger Gotham, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 12:44:00 AM  

Some of those updates are way off. For example, the IBM Selectric I and II are out of the picture because they couldn't do proportional fonts at all at that time.

The IBM Executive was a fixed typebar machine so you could not just swap typeballs as it didn't have one.

Some people have posited the existence of an IBM Executive with a custom typebar that included a "th" superscript, but even if that existed the variable-width character spacing on the Executive was a relatively crude arrangement and the character spacing of the Executive's output doesn't match that on the memos (look at the sample I linked to earlier).

By Blogger xfxf, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 7:57:00 AM  

I had an IBM Executive typewriter back in 1976 through 1980 that I bought used for $200 to type papers for other students. It was how I made spending money in college.

The other students were freaked by the proportional type and the ultra-crisp carbon-ribbon print. And I did superscript and subscript all the time - it was easy. The other typists on campus all used non-proportional type and nylon ribbons so I had a real advantage.

All that is needed to tell if the memos are forgeries is to flip them over and shine a light along the surface of the paper. The impact of the type bars left slight impressions in the paper that were visible on the back side. The impact force was individually adjustable for each letter but they were never perfect so some would inevitably strike harder than others. But apparently no real experts (i.e., people familiar with 1970's typewriters) have looked at the memos.

By Blogger decrepitoldfool, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 8:38:00 AM  

GWiman, no-one can do that because CBS say they only have copies of the documents, not the originals. In the LA Times: "A CBS official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the network had two other document experts, who CBS did not identify, examine the documents, which were copies of the originals..."

"That could be difficult because CBS says it does not have the original memos."

By Blogger xfxf, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 11:34:00 AM  

Oh, that's too bad they didn't have originals. Because it would be really easy to tell.

Close examination of the copies would help anyway, though, because mechanical typewriters had quite unique variations of spacing that do not occur in laser printers. So we could at least tell if the original was done on some mechanical typewriter, somewhere.

It amazes me that people write memos that could be used in a negative way, but apparently they do. If I need to say anything negative, I say it in person, directly to the other person involved, in my office with the door closed. And I try to give that person some way to be right and save face.

By Blogger decrepitoldfool, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 12:59:00 PM  

In my professional opinion (as a veteran of pre-word-processing publishing), if those documents had been done on an IBM Executive typewriter, each letter would be on a slightly different baseline.

By Blogger Joseph, at Saturday, September 11, 2004 7:21:00 PM  

According to this animated GIF which points out several discrepancies between a Word sample and the CBS document, the baseline for letters did indeed vary. I don't know how much of this variance, however, could be due to degradation from copying, faxing, etc.

I used several electric and electronic typewriters in the 70s and 80s, but can't remember clearly whether any typewriter, especially the Executive, would perform automatic carriage returns based on the margins you set. One still-solid pro-forgery argument is that the line length is *exactly* what you get by default in Word. If the Executive required that the typist manually choose to insert a carriage return, it seems pretty improbable that even an experienced typist would achieve exactly the same pattern.

By Blogger Mary, at Sunday, September 12, 2004 8:16:00 AM  

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