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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

You Like Me, You Really Like Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Hilzoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-- Virginia Postrel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended for the discerning reader.
-- Tim Blair

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blogroll is Always In Progress:

Roger Ailes
Alas, A Blog
The American Street
The Aristocrats
Avedon Carol
Between the Hammer and the Anvil
Lindsay Beyerstein
The Big Con
CantBlogTooBusy The Center for American Progress
Chase me Ladies, I'm in the Cavalry
Doghouse Riley
Kevin Drum
Fables of the Reconstruction
Gall and Gumption
Gin and Tacos
House of Substance
The Hunting of the Snark
If I Ran The Zoo
Lawyers, Guns & Money
Lotus: Surviving a Dark Time
Matters of Little Significance
Nancy Nall
Charlie Stross bastard.logic
Daniel Larison
American Conservative
American Footprints
Andrew Sullivan
Angry Bear
Balloon Juice
Beautiful Horizons
Bitch Ph.D.
Brad DeLong
Crooked Timber
Cunning Realist
Daily Kos
Debate Link
Democracy Arsenal
Edge of the American West
Ezra Klein
Glenn Greenwald 13th Floor
Hit & Run
Juan Cole
Kevin Drum
Lawyers, Guns and Money
List Project (Helping Iraqis who worked with us get out)
Marc Lynch
Mark Kleiman
Katha Pollit
Market Square
Matthew Yglesias
Megan McArdle
Metro Green
Pam's House Blend
Paul Krugman
Philosophy, et cetera
Radley Balko
Sadly, No!
Southern Appeal
Stephen Walt
Steve Clemons
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Taking It Outside
Talking Points Memo
The Poor Man
The Progressive Realist
The Sideshow
U.S. Intellectual History
Unqualified Offerings
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Monthly
William Easterly
Newsrack Blog
Ortho Bob
The Poor Man
Prog Gold
Prose Before Hos
Ted Rall
The Raw Story
Elayne Riggs
Sadly, No!
Texas Liberal
Think Progress
3 Weird Sisters
Tristram Shandy
Washington Monthly
Ian Welsh
James Wolcott
World o' Crap
Matthew Yglesias
Buzz Machine
Daniel Larison
Rightwing Film Geek About Last Night
can we all just agree
Comics Curmudgeon
Dum Luk's
Glenn Kenny
Hoarder Museum Juanita Jean
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!
Last Words of the Executed
The Phil Nugent Experience
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
Vanishing New York
a lovely promise
a web undone
alt hippo
american street
city of brass
danger west
fierce urgency of now
get fisa right
great concavity
happening here
impeach them!
kathryn cramer
notes from the basement
talking dog
uncertain principles
unqualified offerings
what do i know
crooked timber emptywheel
ezra klein
The F-Word
glenn greenwald
schneier on security
ta-nehisi coates
talking points memo
tiny revolution
Roz Kaveney
Dave Ettlin
Henry Jenkins' Confessions of an Aca-Fan
Kathryn Cramer
Monkeys In My Pants
Pagan Prattle
As I Please
Ken MacLeod
Arthur Hlavaty
Kevin Maroney
MK Kare
Jack Heneghan
Dave Langford
Onyx Lynx Atrios
Rittenhouse Review
Public Nuisance
Scoobie Davis
Nathan Newman
Echidne Of The Snakes
First Draft
Rising Hegemon
Cab Drollery (Help Diane!
Southern Beale
The Kenosha Kid
Culture of Truth
Talk Left
Black Ag=Q< Report
Drug WarRant
Nieman Watchdog
Open Left
Meet the Bloggers
Dispatch from the Trenches
Crooks and Liars
Campaign for America's Future
Iraq Today
Daily Kos
Lefty Directory
News Hounds
The Brad Blog
Informed Comment
UN Dispatch
War and Piece
Glenn Greenwald
Schneier on Security
Jim Henley
Arthur Silber
Julian Sanchez
The Agitator
Balloon Juice
Wendy McElroy
Whoviating (LarryE)
Scott Horton
Tennessee Guerilla Women
Looking Glass
Charles Kuffner
Brad DeLong
Busy, Busy, Busy
Oliver Willis
The Carpetbagger Report Shakesville
Down With Tyranny
Professor B
Monkey Media Report
The Grumpy Forester
Ian Welsh
Pacific Views
Booman Tribune
Matthew Yglesias
The American Street
Media Bloodhound
Liz Henry's Composite
The Heretik
Arizona Eclectic
Sisyphus Shrugged
Interesting Times
Talking Dog
Liberal Desert
Under the Lobsterscope
Seeing The Forest
Sean Paul Kelley's The Agonist
King of Zembla
Mark Kleiman
Liquid List
Elayne Riggs
No More Mr. Nice Blog
Fanatical Apathy
Blue Gal
Mark Evanier
Roger Ailes
Suburban Guerrilla (Help Susie with money!)
The Mahablog
Brilliant at Breakfast
The Group News Blog Scrutiny Hooligans
Respectful of Otters
Max Blumenthal
Two Glasses
Running Scared
Sadly, No!
WTF Is It Now?
William K. Wolfrum
Rox Populi
Angry Bear
Crooked Timber
No Capital
Alternative Hippo
The Rude Pundit
Ezra Klein
Trish Wilson's Blog Jon Swift, RIP
Jeremy Scahill Mercury Rising
Cup 0' Joe
Lance Mannion (Help Lance!)
Lawyers, Guns and Money
Feministe SF
Progressive Gold
Paperwight's Fairshot
Biomes Blog
Progressive Blog Digest
A Tiny Revolution
Yellow Doggerel Democrat
Pros Before Hos
Michael Bérubé
Notes From Underground
Bob Geiger
Adam Magazine
Reptile Wisdom
Steve Gilliard archives
The Poor Man
Neal Pollack
Jesus' General
Running Scared
Paul Krugman
Hendrik Hertzberg
Murray Waas
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Kevin Drum @ MoJo
Political Animal
The Big Con (Rick Perlstein)
Talking Points
Dan Perkins
TomPaine weblog
MoJo Blog
Jim Hightower
Chris Floyd
Michaelangelo Signorile
Naomi Klein
James Wolcott
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Lean Left
Left i
The Left Coaster
Upper Left
Here's What's Left
Left in the West Daily Howler
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Smirking Chimp
Moose & Squirrel
Make Them Accountable
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Meryl Yourish
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Gene Lyons (or)
Joe Conason
Sadly, no!
Walter Jon Williams
Stiftung Leo Strauss
Crooked Timber
Gordon's Notes (John Gordon)
Bruce Sterling
Ian McDonald
Antick Musings (Andrew Wheeler)
I, Cringely
I Blame The Patriarchy
LawClanger (Simon Bradshaw)
Carrie Vaughn
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol)
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow)
Jesus's General
Mick Farren
Dave Clements
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod)
Terra Nova
Whatever (John Scalzi)
Michael Swanwick
Demography Matters
Justine Larbalestier
The Law west of Ealing Broadway
Inspector Gadget
The Yorkshire Ranter
Kung Fu Monkey
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Gwyneth Jones
Brain Windows
Informed Comment: Global Affairs
RBN Exploits
Progressive Gold
Kathryn Cramer
Halfway down the Danube
Fistful of Euros
Joe Conason
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson)
The Panda's Thumb
Martin Wisse
Wave Without a Shore
Scrivener's Error
Talking Points Memo
The Register
Plagiarism Today
Juan Cole: Informed comment
Global Guerillas (John Robb)
Information Warfare Monitor
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes)
Simon Bisson's Journal
Ethan Zuckerman
Encyclopaedia Astronautica
Warren Ellis
Sociopath World
Brad DeLong
Hullabaloo (Digby)
Jeff Vail
Jamais Cascio
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood)
Mark Safranski
Dan Drake
Geoffrey Wiseman
Libby Spencer of The Impolitc
Zeno is always HalfWay There
Aaron Krager may Have A Point
Scholars & Rogues
Blog Sisters
Better Things to Waste Your Time On
Taking Barack To The Movies
Not An Accident: Peace To All
Scott McLoud
The Secret Recipe Blog
Terri Windling's The Drawing Board
Damn Dirty Hippies Are Everywhere
Progressive PST
Ryan Harvey's Even If Your Voice Shakes
Matthew Cheney's The Mumpsimus
Jazz From Hell
The Angry Black Woman
Computational Legal Studies
Laure lives at Apt. 11D
Vylar Kaftan
Spocko's Brain
Twistedchick's Wind in the trees
Greg Palast
Jeff VanderMeer has Ecstatic Days
Nadyalec Hijazi has Velvet Migrations
Emily Jiang is Writing with Iceberg in Tow
Global Voices Online
Ethan Siegel Starts With A Bang
Don Herron goes Up And Down These Mean Streets
Punditry Nation
Frank Denton still has a Rogue Raven
Geri Sullivan is On The Funway
Emily L. Hauser – In My Head
The League of Ordinary Gentlemen
Carl Brandon Society
John Hodgman
Streetsblog San Francisco
William Cronon is a Scholar As Citizen
Right Wing Watch
Democracy For America
Hoyden About Town
Bernard Avishai Dot Com
RealTimeSatelliteTracking &ISS
Rachel Holmen's Maple Leaf Rag
SF Signal
Tachyon - Saving the World One Good Book at a Time
The Duck Of Minerva
Abu Muqawama
Abi Sutherland's Noise2Signal
Clarisse Thorn
Whirled View
Adam Serwer
Stuff White People Like
Berkeley Today
The Disorder Of Things
Howling Curmudgeons
The Gun is fired by C. J. Chivers
Raven Brooks's Coffee Is For Closers
Spin Your Web
More Red Ink
Rickety Contrivances Of Doing Good
Brad Ideas
Asking The Wrong Questions
Ambling along the Aqueduct
Committee To Protect Journalists
The Bloggess

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, December 30, 2004
GEESH, I'M A LITMUS TEST, er, for something or other. I truly had no idea; I'm so gafiated.
The “Long List” is the Worldcon runners’ name for that, well, long list of past Worldcon chairs, GoHs, locations and attendance numbers in the Souvenir Book. That historic compilation seems eternally cursed by problems of human error and forgetfulness, and a tendency for each year’s committee to adjust certain entries to reflect its fanpolitical leanings. (One litmus test for this is to see whether Gary Farber has been listed as a co-chair of Iguanacon, as demanded post hoc by several leading fans.)
I'm out of all this stuff, for rather a while, and last looked at it as a case where George Flynn, among others, knew the facts, and stuck up for me, and in other cases, that was that, of late. And so I more or less gave it up as a lost cause. There are other things in life beyond one's place on the Worldcon Long List.

Me, I did what I did, I had a ton of fun and a lot of pain and stress, and some, such as those in charge said "hey, Gary should be recognized as Vice-Chair, given what he did," following precedents set for regarding Ron Bounds at Discon II, and other circumstances, and then others came up with other metrics for the long list. Whatever.

I didn't ask to be a litmus test, and I'd surely offer good sushi to anyone who was interested in any of this, if I could.

One has to note that this entry is, apparently, about a year old, and refers to a long dead member, one has to wonder why it is that the blogosophere can respond within an hour, if not a day, and forward-looking science fiction fans find it hard to post every year on important records and debates. But that would be mean. I'm sure this will be all sorted out by the fast-moving action of the Business Meeting of the Worldcon of 2010.

However accurately or inaccurately, or following whatever number of interviews and investigations are then deemed suitable, in this, the best of all possible new centuries.

I suddenly realize that I am, alas, growing into my inner Sam Moskowitz. (Links left to you.)

I miss fandom here and there and various people particularly, but the overall sillyness: hey, guys, you, certain of you, moved me from a lover of Willis and Burbee to someone still feeling pushed out and alienated: good work! And congrats to those who declared me no longer a "friend"! Your life could only be better thourgh our lack of chat in the last more-than-a-year-and-more. Apparently.

Next post: I'm not bitter, I still feel pretty.

A bit cranky, though, to be sure. Not at all like F. Towner Laney.

12/30/2004 03:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004
CELEBRATE! More or less about this time, three years ago, at 1:37 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (I'm now on Mountain Time, as faithful readers know, and hey -- looky there! -- there are mountains outside my window!), the first post on Amygdala was posted. As you can tell, I put an inordinate amount of thought and work into that first post, and had a firm grasp of HTML formatting right from the start. (Actually, aside from the crap formatting, I don't think it's all that bad a set of first posts, given that I'd only been reading blogs for perhaps a week or two. And, hey, have we been consistent in themes, or what?)

I know all of you will be celebrating the Amygdala Anniversary as you have since the following year, and as is done throughout the land: meditate intently on my brilliance, and the joy I bring to your petty little lives, for a full day, and then throw or attend a raucous party, with heavy drinking (drugs, if you're lucky), some behavior you'll too embarassed by by the next day to ever refer to again, followed by some mindblowingly great sex, which if you're female will involve thinking intensely of me and shouting "Yes, Gary, yes, yes, yes!" several times. (Getting home first is, as always, optional.)

Rest assured that you've been doing precisely this for at least two years, and if you think otherwise, you simply were too drunk or overcome to remember.

Remember: Amygdala is the blog you trust! I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve! Happy Amygdalaversary!

12/29/2004 10:37:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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AN INTELLECTUAL HERO. As we all knew was utterly inevitable, many foolish remarks are being posted about Susan Sontag; I suspect few of the writers have actually read much by her beyond her famous post-September 11th article, if they've even read all of that, let alone beyond a couple of quotes. Christopher Hitchens gets Sontag exactly right.

Read The Rest Scale: 3.5 out of 5, but more if you want your life defined and condemmed by a handful of remarks, most of which you later wrote about how you'd changed your mind about.

If you disagree, why do you hate America?

12/29/2004 10:24:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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YES, OF COURSE. G.O.P. to Make Ethics Inquiries Harder to Begin.

Because once every few years is too many. Who could oppose this?

Read The Rest Scale: 3 out of 5.

12/29/2004 09:59:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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OUR TRIBUTE. Maybe it's just me, pt II: this is a very silly hat Jerry Orbach is wearing:
And what is he doing with his hand up here?

12/29/2004 09:30:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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MAYBE IT'S JUST ME, but I was wondering who directed the really nifty new Robert DeNiro American Express tv commercial (Robert DeNiro!), and, yup, my suspicion was correct: Martin Scorsese directed it.

Martin Scorsese!

What, you object to their doing a commercial? What's the matter, you too good for this commercial? Huh? You too good for it? It's a good commercial. Know somethin' Mikey? You make me laugh. You know that?

What are you, a mook?

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5.

12/29/2004 08:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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I AM THE MOST GENEROUS PERSON THERE IS! Imagine this: you live in a neighborhood where one person, you, is vastly wealthier than everyone else. Nearby are a couple of dozen other neighbors who, while no means as rich as you, are quite comfortable. Also in the neighborhood are many just getting by, and a whole bunch of other folks who aren't even able to afford enough to eat or put a roof over their head.

A disaster strikes in a part of the neighborhood, one of the poorest sections. People are killed, others left near death, and others will die very soon without help.

You emerge from your house, and throw the stricken people a few pennies. More than twenty of your comfortable, but considerably poorer, neighbors give a far higher percentage of their income to the poor folk than you do. A mutter is heard that you are not precisely a generous person.

Hearing this, you emerge from your house, and indignantly announce:
Well, I felt like the person who made that statement was very misguided and ill-informed. The -- take, for example, in the year 2004, I provided [.014% of my annual income] in food, in cash, to the [poor of the neighborhood]. [...] That's 40 percent of all the relief aid given in the [neighborhood] last year, was provided by me! No, [I'm] a very generous, kindhearted [fellow]!


Yes, Holly.

Q Sir, [Gerhard] this morning said that the [folks in your part of the neighborhood] should put a moratorium on this debt of [Susie] and [Ferdie]. Is that something that you think [you and others of the wealthiest in our community] should do, put a moratorium on these [neighbor's] debt?

{You:]: We'll look at all requests.


Well, listen, thank you all for coming by. I'm sorry to disrupt your day, but I felt like it was important to talk about what is going to be one of the major natural disasters in [our neighborhood's] history. And it's important for the [neighborhood] to know that [I am] focused and will continue to respond to help those who suffer.
[Although it wasn't important enough for me to interrupt my vacation until today, when I was embarrassed by your damn complaining, you ungrateful anti-American ay-holes. I'm the most generous! I'm the most generous!]
Meanwhile, at least five of your poorer, but comfortable, neighbors give more than .7% of their annual income to charity for the poor.

Would you expect to be respected for telling people that you're immensely generous, since you give more than anyone else to the poor, even though it's less than .014% of your income, and over twenty of your far less wealthy neighbors give fifty fucking times greater percentage of their income than you give to the poor?

But, what the hell, you'll send them an aircraft carrier, and tell them to be grateful you're so generous.

That will convince everyone. Who are you going to believe, me, or those damn lying figures? Fuzzy math! Fuzzy math!

Read The Rest Scale: 2 out of 5. An earlier post on this topic (yes, I've here, but not there, glossed the difference between development aid and disaster aid; not an important point, really) is here, though you'll have to scroll down past the Arnold stuff. But you should be grateful I write so much for you, because I'm the most generous blogger on the planet, if I do say so myself.

In our next post: I announce I feel pretty.

12/29/2004 06:52:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 3 comments

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A SPOONFUL OF SPLENDA. This is very disturbing: how could people in England possibly do as authentic and beloved a Cockney accent as Dick van Dyke? (If you can't wait for the supercalifragilisticexpialidociousness of it all, go here for what you always want, a Flash animation that instantly starts playing music if you have the wrong browser.)

But for those for whom nothing is too sweet, it's wonderful in this season of peace and goodwill to see old friends making up in the best way possible. It turns out James Angleton was right: the whole "split" thing was a fake! And it turns out George W. Bush was telling the truth: he is a uniter, not a divider!

Read The Rest of either as interested. (Latter link via MemeMachineGo.)

12/29/2004 05:00:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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A SHORTER YEAR THAN EXPECTED. Remember to check if you need to reset your atomic clock.
The earthquake may have had yet another impact: It may have shortened the day. But if it did, the change was fleeting, no more than a tiny hiccup in time.

Major earthquakes can change the rate of Earth's rotation, scientists said Monday, but it's not yet clear if the magnitude 9 quake actually did so, and, if so, by how much. If the rotation rate was changed, it was by less than three microseconds, said gravity expert Richard Gross of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A microsecond is one millionth of a second.

"We won't know for weeks," said geophysicist Thomas Herring of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
And just when the days started getting longer again. This ruins everything!

Read The Rest Scale: 0 out of 5.

12/29/2004 02:28:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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I WAS NEVER INTO FAN FICTION, MYSELF, because, alas, 95% of it, or more, per Sturgeon's Law, is, indeed, subliterate crap. However, if one is deeply fascinated by a particular setting or characters or premise, and feels creative (no matter how much one actually is), the impulse to fill in that which is not in the text can be entirely healthy, understandable, and fulfilling, without doubt.

So the Grauniad noted at the end of October.
Fan fiction, the line of creation in which fans write their own stories in homage to their favourite tales and post them on the net, has become a huge and unpredictable phenomenon.
Yeah, it's a lot larger than the small smattering of Trek zines and the like I remember being put out in mimeo and ditto and offset in the late Sixties (and some Tolkien zines from the early Sixties, to note what was then an even more obscure phenomenon).
[...] By putting in the sexuality, the humour and the irony that the original tales often lack, these writers can change the way some readers see the works, and not always negatively. Indeed, if you have the patience to trawl a few websites, you can find memorably acute homages to various tales. Some of these fan fiction writers, with their mixtures of absurdity and seriousness, originality and nostalgia, communicate something of the hallucinatory way that readers first react to fiction. When you first fell in love with literature, didn't you weave the characters right into your life, into your own fantasies?

Sometimes when I listen to my four-year-old daughter playing, I am reminded of the vivid, muddled contours of a fantasy landscape that you learn to distance yourself from as an older reader. I hear her chattering to herself and her dolls, taking Wendy and Peter Pan to visit Lucy and Mr Tumnus, before they dash off for tea with Cinderella. Later in life you work out how to become an onlooker of art, but in childhood you are free to live inside the stories you love. The writers of fan fiction recapture that childish bravado, those easy movements from one narrative to another and in and out of real life. As they reweave these stories they remind us that the boundary of the published book, and the control exerted by the individual author over a tale, is a relatively recent phenomenon for art, both in history and in our individual lives.

Indeed, when it comes to fan fiction, the internet is giving us back something like an oral society, in which people can retell the stories that are most important to them and, in so doing, change them. For all the dross and smut they produce, these communities in which readers become writers, fans become creators and old tales become new, also give out blasts of energy. And they remind us that the power of these fantasy worlds are not built just on profit and loss, but on imagination responding to imagination.
Of course, mostly still subliterate unreadable crap. But while the core subset of "fandom" I was initiated into as a young 'un at the beginning of the Seventies largely looked down on fan fiction (because of that "crap" problem), I later realized that an awful lot of that was also simply disparate interests in what kind of "fan" one was, and what one was looking for in "fandom," filtered with a certain amount of, yes, snobbery. I don't have the patience to trawl fan fiction websites looking for the few examples of work that meet my rather high standards of literacy, but, hey, I don't expect anyone else to have the same interest I do in other stuff that might be considered trivial crap. Which is my charming way of complimenting those into fan fiction, and the Grauniad for taking respectful and supportive note.

(Of course, there's also been academic work on slash, at least ever since Joanna Russ's "Pornography by Women for Women, with Love" in Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans & Perverts, edited by Joanna Russ, New York: The Crossing Press, in 1985, which to some degree grew out of discussions Joanna had with various folks in my living room in Seattle in the couple of years prior, at the "Vanguard" party/group I co-founded with Denys Howard in 1978, which I'm amused to note Nicola Griffth recommending here. [I doubt three-quarters of the present-day attendees would recognize my name; too bad Anita Rowland never posted the history for which she once solicited a lengthy letter from me; I certainly never expected the group to still be going twenty-six or so years later.) So, obviously, fanfic has becoming boringly legit.
Read The Rest Scale: 2.75 out of 5 as interested.

Of course, some people express themselves a different way:
Say, do ya think there's much slash in China? (A website about Chinese sf.) Would it be a Happy Planet otherwise?
China Central Television Channel 8 is broadcasting the first large-scale SF children's program, Happy Planet. This series uses SF to address the many problems Chinese children face in their daily lives, and has been called a Chinese Growing Pains.

Happy Planet depicts life in a future utopian home. Not only does it address children's problems, but it also encourages teachers and parents to bend down and listen to their children's needs, and change their "education manager" role to give childhood more lasting impressions of joy.
Who can forget that beloved sf program, Growing Pains, with the Giant Killer Robots and constant brain moddies?

12/29/2004 12:54:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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AREN'T YOU GLAD YOU VOTED FOR A REPUBLICAN MAJORITY? Thank goodness those corrupt Democrats aren't in charge, running witch-hunts in Congress. They might want to remove staunch Republican conservatives from power! Honest politicans like Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) might be in trouble under the Democrats.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert is leaning toward removing the House ethics committee chairman, who admonished House Majority Leader Tom DeLay this fall and has said he will treat DeLay like any other member, several Republican aides said yesterday.

Although Hastert (Ill.) has not made a decision, the expectation among leadership aides is that the chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), long at odds with party leaders because of his independence, will be replaced when Congress convenes next week.

The aides said a likely replacement is Rep. Lamar S. Smith, one of DeLay's fellow Texans, who held the job from 1999 to 2001. Smith wrote a check this year to DeLay's defense fund. An aide said Smith was favored for his knowledge of committee procedure.


Hefley, a conservative, was co-author of an October letter saying that certain DeLay actions "went beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct." A committee report said DeLay broke no House rules.

The chairman told the Denver Post in July and reported in October that he would handle charges against the leader "in the ethics committee like I would handle anything else."

Hefley took the job reluctantly, and the post is considered undesirable among lawmakers. Hefley represents Colorado Springs, home to more than 20 evangelical organizations, including Focus on the Family, the large Christian enterprise run by James Dobson.
Damn those liberals in Colorado Springs for electing a traitor such as Hefley! Next thing you know, slimey Democrats will be calling for a crazy liberal idea like a "Contract With America" or somesuch. They must be stopped! I call for the elimination of this so-called "Ethics Committee," as soon as the House convenes! If we can't trust our Republican leadership to monitor their own ethics, why elect them?

Furthermore, being a Democrat should be ruled out of order. I don't see why such cowardly traitors, who are objectively "on the other side," should be allowed a vote in our government! Do you!?!? Congress needs to pass a loyalty oath to President Bush and Leader DeLay immediately! What loyal true American wouldn't sign it? Anyone revealing such disloyalty to the government of the United States of America should be expelled from the country and sent to Guantanamo Bay!

I hear the hand-fishing there is quite good.

Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5.

12/29/2004 09:44:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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THE GOLLUM-FRIENDLY FISH ACT has been passed in Missouri, my precious.
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Next summer, it will be legal to plunge into some Missouri rivers and grab catfish by hand — a type of fishing that is not for the faint of heart.

Known variously as noodling or hogging, handfishing has long been a misdemeanor punishable by fines, because state officials fear it depletes breeding-age catfish. It can also be dangerous: Noodlers hold their breath for long periods under water and sometimes come up with fistfuls of agitated snakes or snapping turtles instead of fish.

That does not discourage enthusiasts, who insist there is great sportsmanship in fishing with your bare hands.
Asked to comment, John Smith, deputy director of the Conservation Department said:
Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!
“It’s a start,” John Smith, deputy director of the Conservation Department, said Tuesday. “We are moving forward in good faith to answer the legitimate biological concerns that we have, and balance that with the requests for making this process legal, gollum, gollum.”

“I hope this is the first step toward a statewide noodling season,” said Smeagol, an experienced noodler. “Noodling is great fun and very satisfying and any lover of fishing should try it, yessss.”
Read The Rest Scale: 2.5 out of 5 as interested. (Amygdala welcomes this first story from our newest editorial employee, Steven Jay Blair-Glass.)

12/29/2004 09:12:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004
THE DEEP RANGE. In case you were wondering (it occurred to me to check), Arthur C. Clarke is okay:
Thank you for your concern about my safety in the wake of Sunday’s devastating tidal wave.

I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.

But many others were not so fortunate. For hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans and an unknown number of foreign tourists, the day after Christmas turned out to be a living nightmare reminiscent of The Day After Tomorrow.

Among those affected are my staff based at our diving station in Hikkaduwa and holiday bungalow in Kahawa – both beachfront properties located in areas worst hit. We still don’t know the full extent of damage as both roads and phones have been damaged. Early reports indicate that we have lost most of our diving equipment and boats. Not all our staff members are accounted for – yet.

This is indeed a disaster of unprecedented magnitude for Sri Lanka which lacks the resources and capacity to cope with the aftermath. We are all trying to contribute to the relief efforts. We shall keep you informed as we learn more about what happened.
Here's the signature touch:
Curiously enough, in my first book on Sri Lanka, I had written about another tidal wave reaching the Galle harbour (see Chapter 8 in The Reefs of Taprobane, 1957). That happened in August 1883, following the eruption of Krakatoa in roughly the same part of the Indian Ocean.
Strangely, though, I'd not at all been expecting Susan Sontag's death. One thing I respected about Sontag, beyond her respect for Patti Smith and science fiction, is that she was willing to change her mind, precisely a trait many of her critics, remarkably, faulted her for.
Some regarded her tendency to revisit her earlier, often controversial, positions as ambivalent. Some saw her scholarly approach to popular art forms as pretentious. (Ms. Sontag once remarked that she could appreciate Patti Smith because she had read Nietzsche.)

She had a knack - or perhaps a penchant - for getting into trouble. She could be provocative to the point of being inflammatory, as when she championed the Nazi filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl in a 1965 essay (she would revise her position some years later); celebrated the Communist societies of Cuba and North Vietnam (just as provocatively, she later denounced Communism as a form of fascism); and, in the wake of the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, wrote in The New Yorker, "Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."
She was, obviously, wrong about some things, some times. That makes her human; that she was willing to take note that she was wrong, at times, made her a better human.

There are worse things to be said in one's obituary than this:
Over four decades, public response to Ms. Sontag remained irreconcilably divided. She was described, variously, as explosive, anticlimactic, original, trendy, iconoclastic, captivating, hollow, rhapsodic, naïve, sophisticated, approachable, abrasive, aloof, attention-seeking, charming, condescending, populist, puritanical, sybaritic, sincere, posturing, ascetic, voluptuary, right-wing, left-wing, mannered, formidable, brilliant, profound, superficial, ardent, bloodless, dogmatic, challenging, ambivalent, accessible, lofty, erudite, lucid, inscrutable, solipsistic, intellectual, visceral, reasoned, pretentious, portentous, maddening, lyrical, abstract, narrative, acerbic, opportunistic, chilly, effusive, careerist, sober, gimmicky, relevant, passé, facile, illogical, ambivalent, polemical, didactic, tenacious, slippery, celebratory, banal, untenable, doctrinaire, ecstatic, melancholic, humorous, humorless, deadpan, rhapsodic, aloof, glib, cantankerous and clever. No one ever called her dull.
I'd settle for that.

Read The Rest Scale for the Sontag obit: 3.5 out of 5.

Hmm. After writing the above, I find that Charles McGrath makes the same point. Clearly this means I am qualified to edit the NY Times Book Review.

12/28/2004 02:14:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 1 comments

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Monday, December 27, 2004
TAIL NUMBER N379P is taken note of, as Time Canada makes Maher Arar their Man Of The Year. How many Americans have a clue who Arar is, one wonders. (I've been addressing the rendition issue since at least this post two and a half years ago, and in various others; Katherine had a good Prospect piece here, and has done the most regular blogging on Arar.)

This topic of rendition, and what we should think of it, deserves the long post my back still isn't up to allowing me, but go read the WashPo and Time Canada pieces, and see what you think, eh?

Do we want to be outsourcing torture with no due process? If so, should we face up to doing so publically, or should we keep it secret? And if we want to keep it secret, why are we doing such an awful job of it? Would due process before rendition help, or should we simply cease this sort of torture? If our goal is democracy and hearts and minds in the Middle East, and the Arab world, and the Islamic world (for starters; we can work on Latin America and elsewhere later), is democracy and hearts and minds, is offering folks up for torture compatible with that? Is it better or worse or simply the same if we do it ourselves?

(It certainly would be interesting to know if useful results have or have not come from this process, and if the answer is affirmative, it would be useful to know if the information could have been obtained elsewise; some sort of factual metric for any "benefit" would be a start for evaluating the "cost-benefit" ratio in our merry transport system. }

Myself, I love many things about the 21st century, but seeing "how should torture be applied, or not?" become a popular topic addressing an endemic set of behaviors by our government and its employees goes into the category of "not what I wanted as a substitute for my jetpack and family helicopter." Can we work on changing this timeline, please?

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5. Go for it.

12/27/2004 04:32:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Friday, December 24, 2004
GOOD FOR David Letterman.

12/24/2004 05:01:00 PM |permanent link | Main Page | | 0 comments

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Thursday, December 23, 2004
AMYGDALA wishes all its Christian readers a Merry Christmas, and all its non-Christian readers an enjoyable, safe, and happy holidays if they have any, and debased unholy enjoyment if they do not. (You can wish me a healthy and wealthier New Year, if you like, and anything else, of course, though I'd prefer a nice wish, rather than wishing me the head of a giant fly or somesuch.)

I'm now able to sit up for short periods, intermittently through the day, which is to say that I'm very very slowly showing improvement on the back front (is that an oxymoron, or what?), and continue to hope for a resumption of blogging by New Year's, if not sooner; we on the editorial staff will continue close consultation with Amygdala's management team on our strategic perspective. Our plans for the new year call for bootstrapping our way into interfacing our system architecture so that we have truly synergistic results. We have taken a strategic decision that we will leverage our restructuring with significant rigor. We are bearish on the actionability of our through-put, which will prevent commoditization of our posts. Amygdala's ability to disambiguate information will allow our best practices to provide a business plan that will serve a disintermediating function for our end-users. We believe our core competencies provide a critical path for our ability to modularize our deliverables. This is mission-critical.

We will acommodate concerns of our readers by, at some juncture, emphasising accountability and the top line, to ensure that we remain right-sized. This will empower our analytic teams to viably drill down to and create value with granularity for our readers. Our competitive analysis informs us that our plans for cost-containment will ensure the success of this decisive action and position us for substantive pro-active responsiveness, even in a weak market. At day's end, we will programmatically ramp up to operationalizing our paradigms with robust and scalable real-time turnkey solutions that will take us to the next level.

That's the bottom line. Amygdala's new seamless business model provides a unique value proposition that is win-win!

Invest in Amygdala, take a position, and buy in now!

12/23/2004 09:56:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 4 comments

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Monday, December 20, 2004
STILL ALIVE, I am, yes. (Pause to consider there whether to go Yoda or Gollum with that; neither, I think.)

However, on top of Everything Else, I continue my quest to seek out Strange New Pains, to go where no Gary has gone before.

For the past week I've been bed-ridden with, for the first time in my life, back spasm (um, aside from that one time in 1985 for the day after the spinal tap), that has largely kept me flat immobile on the bed, unable to do more than sit up very briefly once in a while, and if I'm lucky, get to the bathroom only a few feet from my bed, hunched over, moving incredibly slowly, and grunting in pain (one attempt took over half an hour to make the distance).

A [in violation of blog policy, the some of the following 10 words have been changed by third party request] [giant ignuana from planet Mungo donated some regulan blood worms], which helps a bit in the short term, though not nearly as much as I'd like. I'll try to make it down to the clinic in a couple of days if this doesn't improve, but from what I've read, all they'll likely do is tell me to rest, tell me what I already know, and give me a prescription for a muscle relaxant (when I can already barely or not afford my other prescriptions for gout, blood pressure, heart, etc.).

Thanks immensely to those whom have sent donations, both by Paypal and snail mail; not only unbelievably immensely appreciated, but frankly I don't know how I'd be surviving otherwise.

I hope to be back to blogging as soon as I can, even with my other sagas of health and loved one dying, though it's going to have to wait until I can at least sit up for more than a few minutes at a time, and that seems to mean at least a few more days. (First time I've been bothered by having a tiny 13" tv (broadcast only); usually I just sit close to watch it, but from the bed, it's small and far away, although the necessary tilted perspective from lying down makes for a bit of intriguing difference; however, I've been reusing these old blocky rectangular objects with typeset printing in them for amusement and reading -- how nostalgic of me.)

Y'all keep up your good work, and I hope to be back with snotty observations by, at least, the New Year, I should like to think, if not sooner.

Again, thanks to any and all who have or do send donations; you are most kind. (Again, be warned that I'm not checking e-mail remotely frequently; I do wonder about the one very weird e-mail that I can't quite tell whether it was an actual somewhat threatening mail to me, or some sort of weird spam/mistake; it was very strange).

As General MacArthur most famously said....

Meanwhile, here is a bit of on-topic reading. Off to another topic, the most interesting and possibly insightful reading I've done on Iraq in quite some time is The Islamic Paradox: Shiite Clerics, Sunni Fundamentalists, and the Coming of Arab Democracy by Reuel Marc Gerecht. It's either an extremely short book, or fairly long article, depending on your opinion, but the conclusion is that a democratic Shi'ite Islamic-led government in Iraq, even one that is rather anti-American/Israel in the short and medium term, is very likely actually the best forseeable and possible solution for Iraq for all of us, in the long term. I commending reading his arguments and considering.
. But moderate Muslims are not likely the solution to bin Ladenism. Just the opposite: Those who have hated the United States most—Shiite clerics and Sunni fundamentalists—hold the keys to spreading democracy among the faithful. They, not the much-admired Muslim secularists, will probably liberate the Muslim Middle East from its age-old reflexive hostility to the West. Paradoxically, those who in their souls have felt the clash of civilizations most painfully will be our salvation from future 9/11s.
(The full article is a pdf, I'm afraid, but one formatted for easy reading.) I've been reading Gerecht for a good number of years now -- several years before 2001 -- and while I wouldn't take all of his opinions as gospel, I always find his opinions and knowledge worth taking into consideration and argument.

12/20/2004 08:26:00 AM |permanent link | Main Page | | 2 comments

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