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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.

Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.

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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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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, Newshoggers.com

"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.
-- oakhaus.com

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

Favorite....
-- 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 FARBER IS MY AROUSAL CENTER. -- Justin Slotman

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


Archives:
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
AlterNet
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
bjkeefe
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Chuckling
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
elementropy
Eschaton
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
Hullabaloo
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
Afro-Netizen
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Attackerman
Attempts
Balkinization
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Cato-at-liberty
Cogitamus
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Eschaton
Ezra Klein
Feministe
Glenn Greenwald
Governing.com: 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Hullabaloo
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
Mightygodking
Newshoggers
Orcinus
Pam's House Blend
Pandagon
Paul Krugman
Pharyngula
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Shakesville
slacktivist
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
TAPPED
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
TPMCafe
U.S. Intellectual History
Unfogged
Unqualified Offerings
VetVoice
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
Pandagon
Pharyngula
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Snarkmarket
TAPped
TBogg
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
alicublog
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fact-esque
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
jensscholz.com
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
sideshow
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
balkinization
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
Fact-esque
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
governmentality
hullabaloo
Lifehacker
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
Macadamia
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Epicycle
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Demosthenes
Rittenhouse Review
Maxspeak
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
MadKane
Nathan Newman
Whiskeyfire
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Corrente
Rising Hegemon
NTodd
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Hullabaloo
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
Frameshop
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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.










Amygdala
 
Sunday, September 12, 2004
 
SO WHAT DO YOU THINK, GARY? A massive groundswell from the public has demanded further comment from you on the Killian memos! After all, we're almost through the entire weekend! 60 Minutes broke the story on Wednsday, you wrote on Thursday, and here it is Sunday! How can you not have already leaped to an absolute conclusion, like almost all the other bloggers I read!? Hundreds have pointed out The Obvious Truth! Why Are You Silent?

Okay, maybe it's only a handful of e-mails that have asked this sort of thing. But, yeah, I think that the facts are that the jury is quite out, and that all the folks who are Completely Sure that Obviously These Are (Not) Forgeries -- whichever -- are saying a lot more about their ability to adjust their evaluations into line with their wishes than their ability to make objective judgments. Sorry.

What we've largely seen are some valid questions -- which I'll get to -- and a lot of dumbass Sure Explanations "proving" that the memos are/are not authentic/fake.

Most of those explanations are either dismissable, or simply not definitive, in either direction. Result: people believe what they want to believe. What an unusual situation in politics and blogdom!

Against the "they're proven forgeries! Dan Rather and the Mainstream Media are going down!" side:

We're still seeing endlessly repeated false claims: that proportional typewriters (Executives) were rare and strange in the Seventies. Wrong.

That superscripts/subscripts were rare and strange and exotically hard to do and unlikely to be used in a memo in the Seventies. Wrong; as I previously noted, this was a standard practice in using a Selectric II, with a lever specifically to allow it, and any competent typist was perfectly used to swapping in a Symbol typeball in 3-5 seconds to make a "th" superscript as a matter of habit. People who today aren't familiar with using a Selectric every day don't understand how totally normal swiping typeballs, and pulling the couple of levers back and forth was, and idiotically make it out to be some great or unusual chore, instead of simply what you did to write a professional-standard bit of typing.

That you can duplicate said typing with Word! Whoopie. It's not a newsflash that such programs were designed to continue standard font practices; that's all it proves.

That My Overlay (there have been many) shows my Word reproduction is identical! Actually, these don't prove what the sayers think they do; they've commonly used an animation to alternate the put-forth memos and their own reconstructions, and somehow take the fact that when they flash back and forth, showing them to each be faintly different and distinguishable, this proves they are indistinguishable. I don't know what to say to that. What they clearly show is that the "original" has faint irregularities in the type lining up, something you find on typewriter output, and not on printer output. Gee.

His wife says he wasn't a "paperwork person." Yes, the idea that an officer in the Air National Guard would write memos certainly is inconceivable. Her opinion must be definitive on that.

Centering can only be done with "apparently enormous and expensive magnetic type drive accessories," and the like. [roll eyes] Anyone who typed on a bleeding typewriter knows that centering manually is a chore the first time, but all you have to do is experiment to get it right a couple of times, and then make a note that, thereafter, space in X number of space to begin each line. End of story. For a centered letterhead, or any centering done repeatedly, that's just standard practice. It really would behoove people not familiar with typing to stop making themselves look so silly with such comments.

The White House itself has spent days responding to the memos, without ever suggesting they were inauthentic (until today; sorry, too late to obviate noting that they didn't think so all this time). Not a very small point.

And so on.

Against the "They're Clearly Authentic! Bush is going down!" side: Why Col. Staudt would be mentioned as applying pressure when he'd been retired for over a year is murky at best, so far.

Handwriting analysis is, to me, at least, an art that I, for one, amn't clear is entirely reliable, and I don't accept it as definitive authentication.

Do the memos in fact use proportional spacing identical to that of an Executive or Selectric? Not that I've seen clearly demonstrated.

Young 'uns, such as the smart but inexperienced Matt Yglesias, who are too clueless about typewriters to have perspective enough to write about them shift from saying that changing a typeball is complex and arduous to recommending completely irrelevant articles about the IBM Composer, which would only have been in a TANG office if they were producing a fancy newsletter, and which it's fairly unlikely an officer not in charge of directly composing such a newsletter himself would know how to use such an expensive and unusual magazine, and the notion that a Composer would be used to write memos is unlikely to the point of dismissable; it's really quite a ridiculous thought.

Were there Executives with superscripts? I don't know.

Were the documents kerned in a way unique to Word and not producible on either a Selectric or Executive? I don't know, and have yet to see an assertion either way that reads as definitive to me. Yes, a lot of people have expressed opinions they assure us are definitive, and a lot of people take their word for it. That's nice.

Yes, it would be nice for someone to come forward with a typewritten reproduction of the memos. Perhaps we can then show them to someone who can demonstrate they were with George W. Bush in the Alabama National Guard. Rewards for everyone!

Neutral point: General Hodges doesn't stand by the documents, but:
He said he had not authenticated the documents for CBS News but had confirmed that they reflected issues he and Colonel Killian had discussed - namely Mr. Bush's failure to appear for a physical, which military records released previously by the White House show, led to a suspension from flying.

[...]

A spokeswoman for the CBS anchor Dan Rather, Kim Akhtar, said that Mr. Hodges had declined to appear on camera. As a result, Ms. Akhtar said, he was read the memos and responded that "he was familiar with the contents of the documents and that it sounded just like Killian." He made it clear, she added, that he was a supporter of Mr. Bush.
So: my bottom line is that I don't know that the Killian memos are "forgeries." I don't know that they are authentic. I don't believe you know, either way, and your claiming you do makes you look silly. Sorry.

A larger point is that the memos may or may not be real. What they allege, however, is only slightly beyond more or less established fact. For whatever that's worth, which isn't actually all that much.

Several vastly more important points remain at the bottom line. As many have noted, even if God God's self came down and announced in either direction on the (in)authenticity, very few people would change their votes. That's the most important point.

Secondary to that, Matthew, as in the post I linked to above, and many others bloggers get the important point about Bush's TANG service right: Bush clearly took advantage of privilege to get into a "champagne" unit likely to keep him safe from combat, took distinctive steps to avoid serving in combat ("I was not prepared to shoot my eardrum out with a shotgun...."™), did dodgy things to evade later required flight service, and has tried to hide that throughout his career.
But in his 1999 autobiography, Bush omits mention of his suspension from flight status. He says only that "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years" [...]

In a 1999 Washington Post interview, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett was quoted as saying that Bush's release from the 111th was appropriate because the unit had phased out the F-102s, and that Bush was transferred from Texas to a reserve unit in Boston. Both statements appear to be inaccurate.

Although F-102s were being phased out by 1973, they were still being flown. There is no record of Bush signing up for reserve duty in Boston. Bartlett, now White House communications director, said last week through a representative that he must have either "misspoke" or been "misquoted."
That honorable discharge sure covers a lot.

All of this puts us fairly close to where we were in 1992 with Bill Clinton explaining his own correspondence and response to the draft, except that Clinton didn't lie so egregiously and repeatedly, but simply was someone who actually opposed the war, and thus didn't want to serve, unlike those for it, such as Cheney, DeLay, and so forth, who carefully worked to be sure to avoid service.

We do have other, unique, aspects and questions opened on George W. Bush from his behavior, such as his medical situation at the time, and various possible, unproven, dire allegations. None of which are more than, at this time, at best, questions, rumors, suppositions, and accusations.

The one question they all go to is George W. Bush's character, and past behavior, and while I don't think much of either, myself, this tiff about these memos isn't going to change a huge number of minds, although it's certainly no more unfair or unreasonable for people to bring them up and attempt to use them to make it otherwise, than it is for the SwiftboatVetsForBush, and their supporters, to have gone the other way.

So, no, I'm not going to continue to follow every detail and twist and trivial news story about the Killian memos. I initially posted to express exasperation and facts in the face of a lot of "reputable" bloggers putting forth an absolutely nonsensical CNS story as worthy of sagely nodding at (hey, anyone apologized for buying and selling any of those obvious lies, er, errors? I'll just hold my breath waiting for that); they should have known better than to link approvingly to such blatant falsehoods. I'm not otherwise deeply impressed with anyone else's use of this story, least of all impressed with those using it in the ever-more-boring Triumphalism Of The Blogs Over The "MM" ("mainstream media") storyline. Yeah, whatever.

Lest we forget: CNS:
"It was highly out of the ordinary for an organization, even the Air Force, to have proportional-spaced fonts for someone to work with...."

[...]

But the use of the superscript "th" in one document - "111th F.I.S" - gave each expert pause. They said that is an automatic feature found in current versions of Microsoft Word, and it's not something that was even possible more than 30 years ago.

"That would not be possible on a typewriter or even a word processor at that time...."

[...]

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.

[...]

"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."

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.
Six whopping blatant untruths in so few sentences. Look back at those who found this credible and worth putting forth as "proof." (Not everyone who linked did so; I'm pointing at those who did; you can read the names for yourself, and do let me know if any have made any subsequent "oops, I was wrong" corrections I've missed, please.)

Yay, blogs against the MM! Good job there!

LATER: Yes, I would now say the preponderance of the evidence provides a good case that some or all of the documents are most likely forgeries. This is not a conclusion on my part, but I'd agree that the ball is in CBS's court to document and prove their case as best they can, and not try to stand on "reputation." That last can't hold by itself, and shouldn't.

9/12/2004 10:15:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 5 comments

5 Comments:

Speaking as someone who is neither Republican nor Democrat, I don't think this is a very close call. There are two simple points to make:

1. Anybody can sit down and produce a memo that looks very much like the memo in question using MS Word set to its defaults.

2. In the reams of documents we have about Bush's military service, we don't find any documents that have the same attributes: proportional spacing, etc. etc. Indeed, they all look like they were written on standard-issue monospaced typewriters. That includes authentic memos written by Killian.

To believe these memos are genuine we have to believe that Killian just happened to use a typewriter that produces a memo that looks nearly identical to what he would have produced had he used MS Word, AND that he used this very special typewriter to write these memos and only these memos.

We not only haven't seen documents that look like this from the Texas National Guard gang from that era, we haven't seen any military documents from that era that look like this. Maybe they are out there -- but I suspect if they were, we'd have seen them by now.

Why is this story significant? Given that the memos are transparantly fishy, we need a story for why CBS proferred them as "evidence" and has gone on to offer such a lame response in their defense. Recall that CBS is not supposed to be an arm of the DNC -- it is supposed to be an objective reporter of the "facts". CBS appears to be lying about unethical reporting practices in service of a partisan agenda.

That's the story. Unless CBS retracts and apologizes (or somehow produces documents from Killian that look like these), it becomes no more credible than Fox news. Possibly less so. And if the rest of the MSM lets the story stand as though there is some doubt about this, they too risk falling into those ranks. I don't think this is a good development. We need a credible media if we are to have a strong democracy.

By Blogger Deborah, at Sunday, September 12, 2004 2:15:00 PM  

Centering can only be done with "apparently enormous and expensive magnetic type drive accessories," and the like. [roll eyes] Anyone who typed on a bleeding typewriter knows that centering manually is a chore the first time, but all you have to do is experiment to get it right a couple of times, and then make a note that, thereafter, space in X number of space to begin each line.Nuh-uh. Centering on a monospacing typewriter was as you say, fairly simple, but if you look closely at the centering in the memos, the first character on each line starts partially under another character (EG - the "P" in the second line starts at the two-thirds with position of the "g" in "fighter" above it). In other words, this had to be done on either a proportionally spacing typewriter, like the IBM Selectric Composer, or on a typesetter.

However, here's what an IBM Selectric Composer user has to say on the centered output:

Another point that is very suspicious is the centered heading. This is a snap to do with fixed spacing (like courier), but the text is centered using proportional spaced text, which means that the typist had to carefully measure the text prior to typing to calculate its exact center point. Typing a superscript, with all its steps, is simple compared to centering text proportionally without digital electronics....and...

Something that I think would be a good test for your website may be to reproduce the centered heading using MS Word and Times New Roman. If you can produce centered text that matches identically to the letterhead, it is, in my opinion, a true hoax. The reason is, because even if they were able to center text with a typesetting machine such as the composer, a PC (and good word processor), will center the text even more precisely, not at the "point" level, but rather on the twip level (1/1440th of an inch or 1/20th of a point).The fact that the centered header typed in Word results in output identical to the memos is very telling, especially since Word positions characters according to the positioning information contained in the TrueType font. Imagining that a thirty-year-old document could accidentally match up with a modern word processor's output that relies on modern font technology in this way is so coincidental that it reaches zero probablity.

By Blogger Stuart Morris, at Monday, September 13, 2004 3:14:00 PM  

"...preponderance of evidence":
a) what evidence? We're apparently all looking at copies and copies of copies. I agree that having the originals would be best; that seems like a CBS misstep, but not a damning one.

b) even so, items like this one (Mahablog) seem to point to non-electronic-origin to me: clear differences between MS Word and the CYA document: "I" is notched in "CYA", not in MS Word; lower-case "l" has sloped top serif, not a flat one. Other blogs (I think one of the DailyKos threads) point out the that the letter bases don't line up in the "CYA" document -- as indeed you do in your post, now that I re-read it. You'd have to go to a ton of trouble to make that happen.

So maybe someone forged it with the right kind of typewriter, of course, but I think the CBS documents are definitely not electronic documents.

By Blogger Thomas Nephew, at Tuesday, September 14, 2004 11:21:00 AM  

The special lever wasn't necessary for superscripting - you could do that just by turning the platen a half-line.

The little lever allowed you to move the character laterally, which was very useful if you noticed an error that required you to add letters in the middle of a line.

By Blogger Avedon, at Tuesday, September 14, 2004 4:24:00 PM  

For the record, not long after all this, I concluded that the Killian memos were definitively, as much as one can determine at this distance, indeed forgeries.

By Blogger Gary Farber, at Sunday, December 05, 2010 12:00:00 AM  

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