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April 03, 2004

SOMEBODY ELSE who hasn't learned the Trent Lott lesson, and apparently doesn't realize that anyone else did, either.

UPDATE: More, including who really deserves the credit for noticing this story, here. Meanwhile Justin Katz takes me to task. It's not really a Trent Lott moment -- Bunning made a thoughtless comment, not a wish for continued segregation -- but it's bad enough.

MATTHEW HOY REPORTS on an antiwar protest and counterprotest, in San Diego: "First, the assorted leftist A.N.S.W.E.R. groups managed to turn out less than 50 people -- and three dogs. The dogs were nice."

He'll have photos later. [He has them now. And LT Smash has photos now, too, and reports "I was interviewed on camera by FOX 6, KUSI 9, and KFMB 8 (CBS); a reporter from the Union-Tribune also interviewed me. The press didn't spend much time with the A.N.S.W.E.R. folks -- I guess they'd heard all of their talking points before."]

UPDATE: Reader Matt Laflin emails:

I was at the rally in San Diego today.

Group organized by Smash: each person had an American flag.

Group organized by A.N.S.W.E.R: several Palestinian flags, a handful of Iraqi flags (including the version with Saddam's handwriting), a Cuban flag, and one American flag.with a peace sign in place of the stars.

That just about says it all for me.

Incidentally, one of the A.N.S.W.E.R. people ended a series of invectives aimed at us with: "You guys just go home to your blogs!"

Heh. It's getting to them, I guess.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Click "More" to read it.

Read More ?


TOM DASCHLE last week turned up the heat on judicial confirmations.

In response, Prof. Bainbridge is renewing his earlier offer to serve as a recess appointment. I very much agree with this statement:

In the unlikely event somebody ever offered me a regular judgeship, I'd say no - I wouldn't expose myself to jerks like Leahy and Schumer in a confirmation fight - but it would be fun to spend a year or two sabbatical on the 9th Circuit. Especially if doing so flipped Daschle, Schumer, and Leahy the bird.

It's not even the confirmation fight -- I think that being a law professor is a better job than being a judge, and don't understand why some law professors campaign so hard for judgeships. But a short stint on the bench would be fun. I suspect, however, that my chances of any sort of judicial appointment, from any adminstration, are poor.

UPDATE: More here.

THE BLOGOSPHERE: "Just one more layer of editorial oversight."

IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, KOS: Kos is whining now about a campaign against him, "led by InstaPundit."

I haven't led a campaign, or called for people to de-link him, or anything. I find de-linking campaigns dumb, even when they're not conducted by Jim Capozzolla. (But as Kevin Drum notes, when Democrats like John Kerry delink Kos, it's because they have to -- statements like his are vote killers.) I just noted Kos's comments. And what bothered me about it wasn't Kos. It was that Kos -- who I used to think of as a reasonable if partisan lefty -- seems to be infested with a degree of hatred that I previously associated with the Democratic Underground and other fringe sites.

As Michele Catalano notes, Kos said a nasty dumb thing, and everybody has noticed. That's enough, where Kos is concerned. But it's not about Kos. It's about the rot that has infested so much of the left, of which Kos's remarks were merely the latest manifestation. That said, Kos has been rather a weasel about first making the comments, then hiding them, then issuing a bogus pseudo-apology, and now -- as if there were more to this than dumb statements on a blog that led to some angry commentary and email -- he's playing the victim and bragging about how he's nobly standing up to a lynch mob.

But that behavior hardly makes him a stand-out on the left, either. I had just expected better from Kos.

UPDATE: Some lynching. "Heh," indeed. Have we been trolled?

Roger Simon has more comments, but The Belgravia Dispatch has the last word.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kos now appears to have taken down his site. That seems excessive to me. All he really needed to do was to issue a genuine, non-weasely apology.

But then, he's trying to make it as a political consultant, and as Kevin Drum notes, comments like the one on "mercenaries" undercut his value there. However, I'd like to see him back and blogging, in a somewhat more reasonable mode. (It was just a few days ago that I was recommending him as a reasonable lefty to Hugh Hewitt, though it seems like longer now.)

MORE: Kos is back now -- just a server switchover, apparently. That's good.

It looks as if Kerry's decision to delink Kos has generated some unhappiness from some of the farther-out Dems.

Meanwhile Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft has some observations.

JOHN KERRY: "Master of the Ropeline?" Not always.

FRITZ SCHRANCK scoops Reuters.

JOE GANDELSMAN notes an interesting, though so far unsubstantiated, claim that the White House had advance warning that Al Qaeda was planning airplane attacks. Condi Rice, of course, has maintained (absurdly, as I've noted here repeatedly) that such attacks were unforeseeable. Of course, such advance warning may have been nebulous, not terribly credible, or otherwise not very useful in actually preventing attacks, but if it existed, and was brought to higher-level attention, it's certainly a blow to the Administration's credibility. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Reader Richard Newell emails:

This translator's story has been in circulation for some time. Your summary from Joe Gandelsman is less tha precise, in that it summarizes the facts as relating to White House knowledge. Yet, from personal experience working in the intelligence field, a translator would not have access to analyzed material, nor would she know if it had been analyzed, and if it had, to whom it was distributed. Moreover, this may yet turn out to be law enforcement material from a grand jury investigation, which wouldn't be available. I urge caution.

Indeed.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several readers note numerous reasons for skepticism regarding this story. No doubt they're right. (Example from reader Mark Daviet: "In regard to the translator from the FBI, I just find it strange that she was hired two days after Sept 11 and still knows all about what happened before. Also, why did she not come up with this acusation last year when she said the FBI had slowed down translations?" Good questions.)

WANT INSTAPUNDIT ON YOUR CELLPHONE? Er, who doesn't? Anyway, if you've got a browser-equipped cellphone, go to http://winksite.com/instamobile/blog and you can get InstaPundit posts in easy-to-read format. Or go to www.winksite.com and enter the "Quick ID" of 3960.

InstaPundit -- there's no escaping it! [Um, how about "It's everywhere you want it to be?" -- Ed. That one was taken.]

IF, UNLIKE ME, you don't have friendly readers sending you free copies of Photoshop but, like me, you're too cheap or too broke to actually buy Photoshop, you might want to check out GIMP, a freeware image editing program that's supposed to be quite good. Here's an article on the just-released version 2.0. There are links there to download free versions for various operating systems. Did I mention it's free?

JOSH CHAFETZ WRITES that he doesn't see my point in this post, where the following passage from an article on sexism in TV ads drew my criticism:

The trade group does cite some ads for portraying women in a positive light. For example, MasterCard will be praised tonight for a commercial in which a woman opens a jar of pickles after her weakling husband fails the test.

I wrote: "Women as sex objects: bad and demeaning. Men as weaklings: good, and progressive." Josh actually thinks that's right, and observes:

So ads that reinforce the stereotypes are bad in a way that ads which undercut those stereotypes are not. That is, show a woman as a sex object and you're playing to the idea that all women are sex objects. Show a woman as stronger than a man, and you're cutting against the idea that all women are weaker than men. The former message is socially bad; the latter is socially good.

I guess that Josh must not watch much TV. Because if he did, he'd see that the stereotypical male in commercials, in sitcoms, and most other places, is weak, foolish, etc. Women -- at least when contrasted with the males -- are almost always strong and sensible. While such a role-reversal might have been pioneering, oh, 40 years ago, now it is the stereotype. This is something I've noted before.

April 02, 2004

A.N.S.W.E.R. IS PLANNING A PROTEST MARCH IN SAN DIEGO, and L.T. Smash is planning a counter-protest. He'd like your help, if you're in the area.

If you go, take a camera!

ARE CHANGED ACCOUNTING RULES THE REAL CAUSE OF THE DEFICITS? Advisory Opinion notes this New York Times story by Floyd Norris that says so. Excerpt:

The wild swings in federal budget deficits might have been reduced. Companies would owe a lot less money. Less wealth would have been transferred from shareholders to managers, but then perhaps less paper wealth would have been created. Richard A. Grasso might still be running the New York Stock Exchange.

All that might have happened if American politicians, a decade ago, had not forced the Financial Accounting Standards Board to back down from its proposal to force companies to record as a compensation expense the value of stock options given to employees. . . .

That helped to produce the Clinton budget surpluses, and the bursting of the bubble meant that most of the forecasted surpluses were going to vanish anyway, even before the Bush administration cut taxes.

Interesting. I wonder why we haven't been hearing more about this?

GEITNER SIMMONS HAS OBSERVATIONS AND REMINISCENCES on CNN and the yawning-Florida-kid story: " I took a bit of delight, frankly, in CNN's egg-on-the-face circumstances. My reaction stems from an experience I had with CNN on July 4, 1992." Read the whole thing.

BARBARA BOXER IS RIGHT to chastise the TSA for its continued foot-dragging where armed pilots are concerned.

I'VE BLOGGED LESS THAN USUAL this week for a variety of reasons, but one is that my laptop was off being fixed, as I mentioned earlier. It just came back, with a brand-new keyboard, courtesy of NEC. And the technician, "Jeff," sent a nice note. Thanks, Jeff -- it seems to work fine!

What's really amazing, of course, is that it broke just before the warranty expired.

TAPED A TV INTERVIEW THIS AFTERNOON, and the InstaWife came along and watched on the monitors from the truck, which was kind of cool.

THIS IS INTERESTING: "U.S. receiving more 'outsourced' jobs than it's losing."

UPDATE: It's proof that Clinton was right! Well, he was.

READER CHARLIE NILSSON seems to have solved the Kerry Daisy mystery.

Now if we could just answer the question "Why?"

UPDATE: Lou Dolinar emails with some speculation:

Hmm, lets see:

Oversized flower pull to help grasp zipper.

Complaints of aches, joint pain and weakness (see Link).

Loss of appetite

"Fabulously fit" becomes clumsy on slopes, falls down.

Outbursts of anger (Frustration with failing body or Prednisone use?)

Surgery/ For what?

Won't release medical records.

I'm betting on rheumatoid arthritis. Perhaps you could run a contest.
(Link)

I think I'll pass. But if the Kerry camp doesn't want to see this sort of speculation, it might want to be more forthcoming, especially given Kerry's history of lying about health problems. (As the Post article linked above notes: "Kerry lied to the Boston Globe when asked whether he was sick.")

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Adam Maas is skeptical of Dolinar's theory:

It's doubtful, simply because RA is an illness which rarely strikes men, and even mild suffers will avoid activities like snowboarding, which is hard on the joints.

My mother has severe chronic RA and she's never had much problem doing up jackets either, and her hands were hard hit.

I think the Daisy is either Bad Taste or one of those Family Gifts you get stuck with.

Hmm. At least there are treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Now readers are talking Marfan's Syndrome. Er, whatever. Given doctors' difficulty in diagnosing illness when the patient is right in front of them, I'm not convinced that non-doctors are especially good at diagnosing patients who aren't. But this sort of speculation and worry will only grow if Kerry doesn't make a clean breast of it, especially in light of his past behavior where medical issues are concerned.

OH, THAT LIBERAL MEDIA:

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif., March 31 — Galvanized politically in ways they have not been since the early 1990's, Hollywood's more liberal producers and writers are increasingly expressing their displeasure with President Bush with not only their wallets, but also their scripts.

In recent weeks, characters in prime time have progressed beyond the typical Hollywood knocks against Washington politicians to calling out the president directly or questioning his policies, including the decision to go to war in Iraq, the support of the antiterrorism law and the backing of a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Unaccountable corporate money influencing politics? Obviously, campaign finance reform hasn't gone far enough. . . .

And they wonder why viewership is down.

UPDATE: More here.

JOB GROWTH FIGURES are suddenly looking a lot better.

LEFTY BLOGGER KOS DOES HIMSELF NO CREDIT by gloating over the deaths in Fallujah. ("They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them. ") (Via Spoons.)

Eugene Volokh has some more constructive observations.

UPDATE: More here, in an excellent post from Belmont Club.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Related thoughts here, and here. And Zach Barbera emails: "The comments only make it worse. Again. It is not that they dissent. They are just on the other side."

Well, some of the comments are sane. But Bush-hatred has clearly turned into America-hatred in some quarters. Or maybe it was the other way around all along. Brendan Loy has more thoughts.

MORE: Jay Reding offers faces and bios of the "mercenaries" whose deaths leave Kos unmoved. Sadly, Kos isn't alone. Reader Ricky West emails to ask "What's up with the left? Have they gone completely bonkers?" Beats me, but there seems to be a lot of hate out there, and it's no longer limited to marginal settings like Democratic Underground.

Roger Simon has some sane thoughts on the Left's weird behavior:

Back in the Early Paleolithic Period, when I first joined the left, it was this idealism that motivated all of us. I assume it did for Zuniga et al. But some kind of cognitive dissonance set in after those planes came crashing into the World Trade Center. They refused to accept that anything good could happen under another name (Republicanism, conservatism, Bush, etc.). Good only comes from the names they traditionally associate with it. So heinous and barbaric acts are excused by people who under other circumstance would never do that. It's depressing and it's frightening.

Yes, it is. On the other hand, this post by a teenager on the Fallujah murders is far more inspiring:

Why, you may ask, does a teenager support the continued struggle to bring Democracy to the Middle East? My answer is simple, and only three words long:

Freedom. Isn’t. Free.

Live your lives to the fullest; this nation provides you that outstanding opportunity. I believe others should have it as well.

I guess the Left really has lost its teen spirit.

MORE: The link to Kos now goes to a different post, replacing the original, which opens:

There's been much ado about my indifference to the Mercenary deaths in Falluja a couple days ago. I wrote in some diary comments somewhere that "I felt nothing" and "screw them".

Some diary comments somewhere? You can see the original post in a screenshot here. You can decide for yourself whether the new post is an adequate response to the old one. Free speech: His blog, his choice on what to write -- and your choice on what to think about it.

Matthew Hoy has a sum-up post here. And this comment from Roger Simon's page is worth reproducing:

Remember, this guy was a major force in helping the web-based insurgency of Howard Dean, which at one point seemed poised to take over the Democratic Party. This is one of the most popular and most respected "liberal" (or whatever the hell he calls himself) blogs out there. Many mainstream Democratic political candidates advertise on it. This is not some fringe, freakshow thing like indymedia. This is one of the biggest voices on the left on the internet.

As I say, the hate has spread way beyond places like the Democratic Underground. Military blogger BlackFive has further thoughts, and addresses the "mercenary" claim. And echoing the mainstream point above, Best of the Web observes:

It's worth noting that the Daily Kos is popular among Democratic leaders. Zuniga is a principal in the Armstrong Zuniga political consulting firm, which touts the Daily Kos as "the most popular political weblog with over 3 million monthly visits." Friedman has a list of congressional candidates who advertise on the site, and in a February posting Zuniga reported that Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "asked if I would post" a "Message to Blog Community."

I should note that at least one of those congressional candidates appears to have pulled his ad. Sentiments like Kos's are distressingly common among Democrats of the political class, but they're far from universal.

STILL MORE: Tacitus: "I didn't think this nonsense was representative of Democrats as a whole -- good to see some folks who count are standing up to make that clear." There's also more at Winds of Change -- and this observation in the comments: "I think there have always been two lefts, divided between progressives who believe in the essential goodness of American values, which they perhaps even want to strengthen and implement more widely, and those who believe in the essential badness of American values, which they want to combat." I think that's right.

More here. And here. And Allah has a quiz.

Oliver Willis: "I admire what Kos has done for Democrats over at the Daily Kos, but his remarks about the civilians killed in Fallujah were way the hell over the line."

Kevin Drum: "I wish Kos would just step up to the plate and apologize . . . Bottom line: like it or not, Kos is a spokesman for the left these days, and this kind of stuff doesn't help us. His advertisers are pulling out because of course they can't be associated with statements like this. It's a vote killer."

John Kerry campaign blog: "In light of the unacceptable statement about the death of Americans made by Daily Kos, we have removed the link to this blog from our website." I'm not generally a fan of de-linking, but as Kevin says, it's unavoidable here.

Mark Kleiman: "Any human being not a partisan of the Ba'athist or Islamist resistance to the American presence in Iraq ought, first of all, to mourn the deaths of four fellow human beings. . . . Nor are the ties of nationality entirely irrelevant here; these men were our fellow-citizens, engaged -- though as private employees rather than soldiers or public officials -- in carrying out the policy of our lawful (whatever you think of what happened in Florida) government. Indifference to their deaths strains the ties that bind the country together."

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY UPGRADE: Much appreciation to the very cool reader who, thanks to an Adobe connection, sent me a free copy of Photoshop CS which has a lot of features that my Photoshop Elements lacks, and a price-tag to match. He called it an in-kind tipjar donation, and it's an awfully nice one.

UPDATE: Link busted before. Fixed now. Sorry.

HERE'S AN AMUSING INTERVIEW, with a photograph even, of the elusive Wonkette.

STEVEN DEN BESTE has some sensible observations on what's going on in Iraq:

The Baathist insurgency thought that ongoing attacks would cause American demoralization and retreat. That didn't work, because they monumentally misjudged the American character. But the goal of this attack is to inspire American fury. What they hope is that the Americans will be blinded by hatred and will do something extremely stupid: to punish the Sunnis collectively for the actions of the terrorist group. . . .

Paul Bremer understands that and seems to be responding to it appropriately. But he's being criticized by hotheads who don't seem to understand that swift, strong, broad reaction against Sunnis collectively would be a blunder of the first order.

Read the whole thing, along with these thoughts from Donald Sensing.

JEFF JARVIS: "And now Google is flexing its power against the little guy. Sounds evil to me."

April 01, 2004

LARRY LESSIG'S FINAL GUEST-BLOG is up over at GlennReynolds.com.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW shortly, along with James Lileks. You can listen online by following the link and clicking on "listen online."

UPDATE: Started off a bit distracted, as my tomcat was for some reason hurling himself against the closed door to my study, but it picked up after that. Hope the thuds didn't make it over the air. Sticking around into the next hour.

James Lileks, who's sticking around too, says that more people should be reading Mitch Berg. He's right, of course.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Roger Simon has joined us!

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: We've been talking about guerrilla media. Here's the independent pro-Bush ad I just mentioned. And here's an ad by Flashbunny.org on whether we were misled about Iraq.

JOHN PILGER IS CHALLENGING RICHARD CLARKE'S CREDIBILITY -- Tim Blair has more.

THE U.S. NEWS LAW SCHOOL RANKINGS are out. Tennessee moved up a couple of spots, now ahead of American U., Case Western, and Tulane -- I think we were more or less tied with them last year.

All of which means pretty much nothing, I suppose. But people love rankings.

IS THE OUTSOURCING BUBBLE BURSTING?

Dell admits it has "learnt its lesson" after being forced to drop its Indian call centre last year after customer complaints about the quality of service.

The call centre operation for the OptiPlex desktops and Latitude laptops was moved back to the US and, in an exclusive interview with silicon.com, Dell CIO Randy Mott said the Bangalore centre was unable to deal satisfactorily with the volume of calls generated by the rapid growth of those product lines.

Outsourcing makes sense sometimes, but I think it became a bit of a management fad in recent years. I expect we'll see some more backtracking along these lines.

UPDATE: Reader Don McGregor emails:

A friend of mine who works up in the valley for a major chip design firm says their company looked at outsourcing, but had heard about too many
IP issues. Things like patents and trade secrets are not necessarily respected by the population, employees, or the courts in low-wage countries.

They weren't too keen on having their chip designs stolen and used against them, and having no realistic recourse to the courts for protection.

Yes, there are all sorts of issues that don't show up in a one-dimensional cost-based analysis.

UPDATE: More outsourced customer-support horror stories.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here. And a reader says that Dell is still outsourcing customer support for its low-end products at ferocious pace. I hope not.

SEXIST DOUBLE STANDARDS: Today's Wall Street Journal has a story (p. B6) describing the "Advertising Women of New York" group's complaints about sexist advertising. They're most upset about an ad for Sirius Radio featuring Pamela Anderson in a wet tank top. ("She uses her bottom as a chrome buffer." No wonder Stern is thinking of moving to Sirius)

But that's not the only sexism in the story. Get this:

The trade group does cite some ads for portraying women in a positive light. For example, MasterCard will be praised tonight for a commercial in which a woman opens a jar of pickles after her weakling husband fails the test.

Women as sex objects: bad and demeaning. Men as weaklings: good, and progressive.

UPDATE: Steve Verdon has opined on this before.

WINDS OF CHANGE has an interesting post on Al Qaeda in Africa, with special emphasis on something frequently noted here, the Algerian connection.

RICHARD MINITER, AUTHOR OF LOSING BIN LADEN, has thoughts on the Clarke affair:

Curiously, about the Clinton years, where Mr. Clarke's testimony would be authoritative, he is circumspect. When I interviewed him a year ago, he thundered at the political appointees who blocked his plan to destroy bin Laden's camps in Afghanistan in the wake of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. Yet in his book he glosses over them. He has little of his former vitriol for Clinton-era bureaucrats who tried to stop the deployment of the Predator spy plane over Afghanistan. (It spotted bin Laden three times.)

He fails to mention that President Clinton's three "findings" on bin Laden, which would have allowed the U.S. to take action against him, were haggled over and lawyered to death. And he plays down the fact that the Treasury Department, worried about the effects on financial markets, obstructed efforts to cut off al Qaeda funding. He never notes that between 1993 and 1998 the FBI, under Mr. Clinton, paid an informant who turned out to be a double agent working on behalf of al Qaeda. In 1998, the Clinton administration alerted Pakistan to our imminent missile strikes in Afghanistan, despite the links between Pakistan's intelligence service and al Qaeda. Mr. Clarke excuses this decision -- bin Laden managed to flee just before the strikes -- as a diplomatic necessity.

As I've said before, I don't really blame the Clinton Administration too much for this. Nobody took terrorism seriously enough before 9/11. But Clarke's choice of targets today is revealing. Read the whole thing.

GO READ LILEKS.

We stopped pretending we would ratify Kyoto. We only spent $15 billion on AIDS in Africa. We did not take dictation from Paris. If we had done these things, it would minimize the world’s anger.

Is the world angry at Russia, which spends nothing on AIDS and rebuffed Kyoto? Is the world angry at China, which got a pass on Kyoto and spends nothing on AIDS for other countries?

Is the world angry at North Korea for killings its people? Angry at Iran for smothering that vibrant nation with corrupt and thuggish mullocracy? Angry at Syria for occupying Lebanon? Angry at Saudi Arabia for its denial of women’s rights? Angry at Russia for corrupt elections? Is the world angry at China for threatening Taiwan, or angry at France for joining the Chinese in joint military exercises that threatened the island on the eve of an election? Is the world angry at Zimbabwe for stealing land and starving people? Is the world angry at Pakistan for selling nuclear secrets? Is the world angry at Libya for having an NBC program?

Is the world angry at the thugs of Fallujah?

Is the world angry at anyone besides America and Israel?

Read the whole thing. Especially if you're John Kerry.

NICK DENTON'S NEW BLOG VENTURE, KINJA, is up and running. Here's Nick's explanation of what it's about. Excerpt:

Kinja allows even casual internet users to browse topics, explore the latest weblog writing, and then choose favorite authors to track. A personal Kinja digest contains excerpts from a user's favorites, whether they're friends who blog, or experts on a particular topic. Kinja is a blog of blogs.

I'm still hoping to be replaced by a robot. Maybe this is a start!

HERE'S A DELIGHTFUL PHOTOBLOG FROM AUSTRALIA: It makes me wish I were going back there sometime soon.

AUSTIN BAY:

The world has had a week to chew the sound bites from two days of 9-11 commission public testimony. Media masticators and political grinds have concentrated on "gotcha" allegations, personalities and finger-pointing aimed at the November presidential elections.

Mincing sound bites, however, misses the large, determinative and most fundamental questions, like the one that should be the center of any pre-9/11 counter-terror policy critique: How much "political will" -- and we can parse that as both individual presidential will to act and "public" or national will to act -- does an American president require in order to take action to defeat a threat to the United States?

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, here's an unsympathetic assessment of media coverage of Fallujah, from military blog The Mudville Gazette. Best catch is this bit from news media discussion of their own coverage:

"War is a horrible thing. It is about killing," ABC News "Nightline" Executive Producer Leroy Sievers said in an unusual message to the program's e-mail subscribers discussing the issues posed by Wednesday's killings. "If we try to avoid showing pictures of bodies, if we make it too clean, then maybe we make it too easy to go to war again."

So shaping the war debate, and hampering future military efforts, is the central focus of decisions about news coverage. Nice to see them admit it. Read the whole thing -- which is full of damning stuff like this -- and follow the links to see what other Milbloggers think.

UPDATE: Ken weeks emails: "The angry Sunnis in that mob were playing to the camera. Showing their actions on TV encourages their behavior. This guy's zeal for showing us the 'true horror' of war is causing more of the same."

Yes, terrorism is, in a very real sense, a creature of the mass media. But what strikes me is that after 9/11 they didn't want to show graphic images of dead Americans for fear that it would make Americans want to go to war. Now they are proud of showing graphic images of dead Americans in the hopes that it will discourage Americans from going to war.

Now that they've admitted that they're not neutral on this stuff, you have to wonder what side they're on.

MORE: Ed Driscoll has more thoughts (and quotes) on the double standard here.

HERE'S A REVIEW OF FRANKENRADIO from the Atlanta Journal Constitution. I'm not surprised that it's off to a "shaky" start -- radio is hard -- and I'm sure it will get better.

I'd like for Air America to succeed, actually -- I think that the pressure of putting forward ideas in the open marketplace of talk radio will be good for the left, and for the country. I am disappointed with the loss of broadcast diversity associated with Air America's rollout, though.

APRIL FOOL'S DAY: A problematic holiday at Yale.

March 31, 2004

GENOCIDE IN THE SUDAN: Nick Kristof cares, but sadly not many other people seem to.

For all the talk of "never again," genocide hasn't seemed to upset the international community much. The UN seems to have contributed to genocide in Rwanda -- while various other people obstructed action or did nothing. Noam Chomsky's support for the Khmer Rouge is famous. And the response in the Balkans was dreadfully slow, while the looming genocide in Zimbabwe is largely ignored.

If the Israelis killed all the Palestinians the world would care -- but only because the Israelis did it.

More on this problem, and what to do about it in the grander scale, here.

THIS SURE LOOKS LIKE AN APRIL FOOL to me. But if it is, is the New York Times an April Fool, or is it in on the joke?

SUGGESTED CAPTION: "Hey, these Kerry mannequins aren't that heavy!"

CABLE NEWS IS LOSING VIEWERS: I used to be a cable-news junkie. Now I get most of my news from the Internet. I wonder if a lot of other people have made the same shift?

I DIDN'T LISTEN TO FRANKENRADIO TODAY, but here's a review from Josh Fielek. Meanwhile Bryan Preston notes that the "Air America" programming is displacing urban black radio talent in favor of white liberals, leaving the displaced folks unhappy. Oops.

UPDATE: SF DJ Big Rick notes that Air America is displacing Chinese and Korean radio programming in the Bay Area.

Meanwhile, in New York:

Starting tomorrow, WLIB will scrap its daytime Caribbean programming and become the New York home for Air America Radio, the new, liberal talk-radio network.

Al Franken and Air America: "Silencing Minorities Since 2004!"

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader says that in LA Air America is replacing this Korean radio station. There may be something about it on the website, but I can't tell, since it's in Korean.

Meanwhile, reader Gerald Dearing emails:

Air America. Haven't heard it. Won't seek it out. Think it's a stunt that won't last beyond election day.

But has anyone said exactly WHY they named it after a C.I.A. operation?

Not that I've heard.

MORE: Doc Searls has lots of background, and observes: "Anyway, you'd think that Al Franken and his buddies would have done a little lookup on this thing."

And for you Howard Stern flipflop conspiracy theorists, there's this: "All the ads on the network are for XM satellite radio."

YESTERDAY I NOTED that Joe Biden was talking tough to Europe.

I really think that it would help if world leaders would read this post by Steven Den Beste on how they misunderstand America.

I HAVEN'T BEEN BLOGGING THAT MUCH TODAY: My server was down for a few hours (okay, not down, exactly, but I couldn't post), and I've been doing other stuff. But the folks over at the Volokh Conspiracy have been blogging up a storm. There's a surprisingly large amount of sex, too.

TIMOTHY PERRY points to an interesting Boston Globe story, noting that the Kerry Campaign is having money problems, and that the need for cash may be leading to campaign-finance violations as some charge that "independent" groups are really part of the Kerry campaign.

More reason why the campaign-finance laws are dumb, of course, but still awkward for Kerry.

READING RICHARD CLARKE'S BOOK, Greg Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch points out examples of "rapacious partisanship."

GAS PRICES: Back in 2000, R.E. Finer and the Sportutes released Gas Hog Blues during a temporary spring/summer spike in gas prices. Unfortunately, the spike didn't last long enough to make the Sportutes rich and famous. (Any resemblance between me and R.E. Finer is purely coincidental, I practically swear).

Now John Kerry's singing the same tune, and Nick Schulz doesn't think it'll fly this time, either. There's more on gas prices from energy analyst / blogger Lynne Kiesling, and Mike Giberson, too.

CRAZY COPYRIGHT WARS: Larry Lessig continues his guestblogging over at GlennReynolds.com.

RON BAILEY WRITES THAT THE BEST BIO-DEFENSE IS BIO-OFFENSE: Well, sort of. I agree that the solution to the problem is more research, not less. Here's a column I wrote on that a while back.

BAD DAY IN FALLUJAH: I don't have a lot to say about this: it seems clear that the bad guys are still trying for a repeat of Mogadishu, unaware that the script has changed.

Perhaps we should consider an end to infrastructure and services repair in Fallujah for a while. And maybe some Kurdish security units. . . .

UPDATE: Best of the Web observes:

It's worth emphasizing that the four victims were civilians working for an American company (which company the news reports have not yet told us). Like America's soldiers, these civilians are putting their lives on the line to enhance America's security and help build a better Iraq.

John Kerry and other Democrats have been vilifying American contractors in Iraq, especially Halliburton. This seems a fitting time to point out what a despicable bit of demagoguery this is.

Ouch.

DEFENDING KERRY: I agree with Hugh Hewitt that this photo of John Kerry is unlikely to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies. But I'm pretty sure that the oversized yellow daisy he's wearing is a ski-lift ticket, and not a '70s-revival sartorial accessory chosen by Sen. Kerry.

UPDATE: In this discussion thread on the Kerry flower (nothing's too trivial for Web discussion!) it's reported that the flower is not a lift ticket. Go figure. (More here, though I think the photo associated with that blog entry has been photoshopped.)

I would suggest that it's an obscure hip-hop reference, but if so it's too obscure for me.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a different photo of Kerry with the daisy. Note the Secret Service agent, who appears to be looking at it with a "WTF?" sort of expression. . . . And here's another. It's a campaign mystery that must be unravelled! (More bloggage here.)

Message to the Kerry Campaign: Release the Daisy Records! America wants to know.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Powerline's John Hinderaker emails with a report from the photo-analysts:

Glenn, my post on Kerry's flower power zipper pull, inspired by my wife's observing the photo that we reproduced on Power Line, has generated more mail from readers than almost anything we've done. For what it's worth, based on a careful review of all photographic evidence--including photos of Kerry actually snowboarding on the same day, without the yellow flower, and a photo of Kerry snowboarding with the yellow flower, when the other snowboarder visible in the picture is not wearing a yellow flower--I've concluded that it isn't a lift ticket.

America really does want to know!

MORE: I don't think Kerry is referencing this group.

STILL MORE: "Deflowering" Kerry? I guess I couldn't have resisted that headline either. . . .

MORE STILL: Eric Scheie is following a daisy chain of associations.

AND IT KEEPS COMING: Reader Lennie Smith writes with a new explanation, and an unfair slur:

I'll agree with the conventional wisdom the Kerry flower is not a lift ticket. Way to hard to print all the legal disclaimers on the back of a die-cut like that. But, look at the snowboard he¹s holding. That the kind of sticker they put on rental boards for inventory/tracking purposes.

He's worth millions. He could keep a board in the million dollar cabin the family owns. Yet, a rental board? Man, no wonder there are so many photos of this. Because, he is a poseur.

That's not fair. Maybe he's just frugal. This could feature in his campaign, like Michael Dukakis's snowblower.

MY ESSAY ON THE WEB AND DICTATORS, mentioned below, is now up at The National Interest. This direct link seems to work, but they warned me that it might not be stable. If it doesn't work, just go to the first link and scroll down.

GIZMODO HAS POSTED MY REVIEW of the new Nikon D70. It links to a gallery of sample images, too.

UPDATE: Reader Ron Mitchell wants to know if I can recommend something cheaper. I've never used it myself, but as I noted earlier, Sony's 5-Megapixel DSC-F717 is selling for a bit over $600 (and it was $499 on Amazon for a little while, which could happen again, I guess). It has an excellent lens and a good reputation. For that matter, this Toshiba, which I own, is surprisingly good. (Pictures taken with it can be seen here and here.)

FRAGMENTS FROM FLOYD is yet another cool Appalachian photoblog, this time from Virginia.

Speaking of photobloggers, Fletch of SmokyBlog actually noticed something different about my photos lately. He was right -- thanks to the timely arrival of an honorarium check (and your tipjar donations), I bought a Nikon D70 last week. Perceptive guy. I'm very pleased with the camera so far.

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES IS UP, with an April Fool theme. Don't miss it -- even if you're not Alex Beam!

MICKEY KAUS has more on Richard Clarke's contradictions.

My prediction: Now that it's obvious that this story isn't moving the polls against Bush, it will fade from the radar screen.

GOOD DRUGS: My TechCentralStation column is up. Rand Simberg also has a column today, on hype and hypersonics.

I WRITE A LOT ABOUT NANOTECHNOLOGY HERE, and if you're interested in that you might want to consider attending the Foresight Institute's annual conference in Palo Alto, May 14-16 this year. Foresight is the preeminent nonprofit thinking about nanotechnology and the future (I'm on their Board.) What's more, they'll give you a discount -- just register at the long-expired "super early rate" and put "INSTAPUNDIT" in the comments field, which will save you $200. (Just another perk of reading InstaPundit.)

March 30, 2004

SOME SURPRISING PEOPLE are coming out in favor of abstinence-only education -- but I still don't think it'll work.

A CANADIAN PAPER POINTS TO lots more dirty laundry at the United Nations.

A bunch of politicians, with money and power but no accountability -- the big surprise would be if there weren't scandals hiding under every desk. Which is why U.N. -worship is so hard to understand.

IS THE INTERNET BAD FOR DICTATORS? The New Republic says no. Jeff Jarvis responds: "In this century, the Internet means freedom."

I actually have an article on this very topic, in the latest issue of The National Interest. It's not online yet, but it will be soon.

UPDATE: BTW, you can get a free 4-week subscription to TNR Digital by clicking on the ad to the left. In exchange, I give all their readers free access to InstaPundit!

OKAY, I HAVEN'T SEEN ALL THE OFFICIAL BUSH CAMPAIGN ADS -- but this freelance effort is better than all the official ads that I have seen.

HERE'S A STUDY FROM HARVARD AND UNC saying that downloads don't hurt music sales.

IT WAS JUST AS TRUE BEFORE THE CORRECTION, but whatever.

DID I MISS LAST WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE VANITIES? I think I did. Anyway, here it is, in case you missed it.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG. Along the lake, near Cherokee Boulevard. This is the route I take to work in the morning, when I have time.

LT SMASH reports firsthand on lobbying Congress on behalf of members of the Guard and Reserves.

More here.

SEX-IN-THE-CATHEDRAL SHOCK JOCKS OPIE AND ANTHONY ARE COMING BACK: No doubt Howard Stern will rejoice at this victory for free expression.

Personally, I prefer "sex in the cathedral" to "murder in the cathedral," but that's just me.

UPDATE: Kevin Aylward says that Opie and Anthony won't regain their former glory. I'll bet they'll get as many stations as Al Franken, though!

MELANA ZYLE VICKERS reports that the 9/11 Commission has, in fact, uncovered serious and costly errors in the war on terror:

The hearings presented a Democratic record on terrorism that is marred by fundamental policy fumbles and ultimately fatal misjudgments. Of course, some of the errors in fighting terrorism in the 1990s could have been -- and were -- made or repeated by the Republican administration of George W. Bush. But a top-five list drawn from the testimony before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and the reports prepared by commission staff, reveals errors that stemmed from what might be described as the post Cold War, Democratic world-view. They include:

Unwillingness to use force to retaliate against terrorism or pre-empt attacks.

Inaction in the face of legal obstacles

Animus toward the intelligence community

Fear of unpopularity in the court of domestic and foreign public opinion

Failure to improve the effectiveness of bilateral relations with Arab states and Pakistan.

This world-view would be unlikely to change as the party's foreign-policy mantle changes hands from Clinton-Gore to Kerry. . . .[V]oters who wonder "how would a Kerry administration prosecute the war on terror?" need to look no further than this list for some idea of the answer. Unless, of course, Kerry disassociates himself from the policies of his Democratic predecessors, or criticizes them as forcefully as his fellow Democrat on the 9/11 commission, Bob Kerrey, did last week.

Read the whole thing. I wonder if Sixty Minutes will devote an hour to these findings?

The Kerry strategy team certainly should.

JOE BIDEN is talking tough to Europe. Meanwhile Jeff Jarvis is talking tough to Americans: "This is war. It's not an encounter session. It's war."

LARRY LESSIG, who is guestblogging over at GlennReynolds.com, has some thoughts on how Amazon helps free culture.

By the way, I should mention that he's giving his new book away for free over there, and it seems to be helping his sales. Given the InstaWife's experience along these lines, I'm not surprised.


INTERESTING BIT from the IOWA ELECTRONIC MARKETS: The graphic at the right is a crop from their graph showing Kerry vs. Bush since February 1st of this year (follow the link and scroll down for the whole thing). Despite the general sense that it's been a rough period for Bush, his lead over Kerry has grown steadily since about the time it looked as if Kerry was going to get the nomination.

I think that IEM is generally more accurate than snapshot polls, but this is interesting to me -- despite my deep skepticism regarding Kerry, it doesn't seem to me that it's been an especially good month for Bush. What information are the market participants taking into account that the conventional widom is missing?

UPDATE: Jim Miller notes that he predicted this. And another reader observes that despite the short-term damage inflicted by the 9/11 Commission hearings, they have ensured that this election will be about the war and terrorism, which benefits Bush. Could be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The other possibility is that things haven't been as bad for Bush as media reportage makes them sound.

I wonder if the Richard Clarke affair is Martha Burk all over again? (Via NBL).

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This makes sense:

I think we're seeing a difference in focus rather than information. The futures markets focus on the eventual outcome, while day to day jostling drives the conventional wisdom.

If we accept the Feiler Faster Thesis, frequent reversals of fortune are par for the course these days, which means that any one setback is largely irrelevant. Barring an unlikely knockout punch (e.g. the Dean scream), this back-and-forth will continue right up to election day.

The markets have taken that into account, and they're discounting the tactical advances and setbacks as largely irrelevant. Unless a clear longer term trend emerges, they'll continue to reflect the underlying economic reality (pretty good, actually) and projections for the situation in Iraq (which I for one expect to be a lot calmer 6 months from now).

Sounds right. We'll see.

BLOGGING MAY BE INTERRUPTED: The new Eric Flint book is enroute from Amazon. And following that is the new Neal Stephenson book. Good. I've been working too much lately.

THIS IS INTERESTING:

LONDON — Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, al Qaeda's purported operations chief, has told U.S. interrogators that the group had been planning attacks on the Library Tower in Los Angeles and the Sears Tower in Chicago on the heels of the September 11, 2001, terror strikes.

Those plans were aborted mainly because of the decisive U.S. response to the New York and Washington attacks, which disrupted the terrorist organization's plans so thoroughly that it could not proceed, according to transcripts of his conversations with interrogators. . . .

Mohammed then decided to conduct two waves of attacks, hitting the East Coast first and following up with a second series of attacks.

"Osama had said the second wave should focus on the West Coast," he reportedly said.

But the terrorists seem to have been surprised by the strength of the American reaction to the September 11 attacks.

"Afterwards, we never got time to catch our breath, we were immediately on the run," Mohammed is quoted as saying.

He also casts doubt on Moussaoui's guilt -- er, at least in terms of what Moussaoui is charged with. Read the whole thing, but note this warning: "The transcripts are prefaced with a warning that Mohammed, the most senior al Qaeda member yet to be caught, 'has been known to withhold information or deliberately mislead.'" Those murdering terrorists are bad that way.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has related questions. I love this one: "[A] 'counter-terrorism' expert? Is that someone with an Internet connection (preferably broadband)?" If so, there are a lot of us. . . .

MICKEY KAUS writes that welfare reform is working, and worked right through the recent recession: "The rolls didn't rise in the recession because single mothers kept on working. That's a good thing. Advantage: Reformers!"

COUNTERTOP CHRONICLES is photoblogging the DC Cherry Blossom festival.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Ann Althouse is making sure that I'm not the only hometown-photoblogging law professor around.

March 29, 2004

IF THIS IS TRUE, then why are toddlers sick most of the time? "Picking your nose and eating it is one of the best ways to stay healthy, according to a top Austrian doctor."

WALTER IN DENVER has the Rocky Mountain Blogger roundup posted.

I LOVE MY tiny NEC laptop -- so when the "I" key quit working, I was bummed. But I called 'em over the weekend, got a return box delivered this morning, and it's already en route for warranty repairs. They sent a prepaid return airbill -- and even a strip of plastic packing tape to seal the box with. Very nice service.

I THINK THAT CONDI RICE SHOULD TESTIFY, in spite of the Administration's reasonable concerns, which all Administrations have, about that sort of thing. But when she testifies, I think she should open with this:

This administration came into office to discover that al Qaeda had been allowed to grow into a full-blown menace. It lost six precious weeks to the Florida recount – and then weeks after Inauguration Day to the go-slow confirmation procedures of a 50-50 Senate. As late as the summer of 2001, pitifully few of Bush’s own people had taken their jobs at State, Defense, and the NSC. Then it was hit by 9/11. And now, now the same people who allowed al Qaeda to grow up, who delayed the staffing of the administration, who did nothing when it was their turn to act, who said nothing when they could have spoken in advance of the attack – these same people accuse George Bush of doing too little? There’s a long answer to give folks like that – and also a short one. And the short one is: How dare you?

As I've said before, I'm willing to let bygones be bygones before September 11, despite the Clinton Administration's limp record on terror. (Cluelessly limp. Remember Clarke boasted in 1999 that our response to the 1993 WTC bombing was scaring Al Qaeda, which is proof of cluelessness beyond contradiction.) But the Bush Administration, to its credit, figured out that we were at war after September 11. Its critics keep trying to deny that fact, except, curiously, when they switch from attacking Bush for doing too much, to attacking Bush for doing too little. (Via Steven Antler).

UPDATE: Yes, yes, I know that Clarke refused to testify under oath.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, this is the best reason for Rice to keep quiet that I've heard yet: "Rice Withholding Testimony for Her Own Book."

STUART BUCK UPDATE: His wife, Farah, has posted a condition report on his blog.

CLARKE-O-RAMA: Tom Maguire has a roundup of Clarke links, as well as another episode of Clarke v. Clarke. Stop the fight, ref!


ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL DAY ON CAMPUS, with me once again stuck inside. I did manage my usual half-hour nice-day constitutional, though, so here are a few pictures. Lots of students are enjoying the outdoors. As they should be -- it's in the 80s now, and spring has definitely spring. There's a lot of frisbee-tossing and studying under trees, as you can see. I don't think that the Aquatic Center's outdoor pool is open, but it might as well be. It's that kind of day. It's more like summer than Spring, really, except that the trees are just now leafing out.

April really is the cruellest month here. The weather is wonderful, but since classes end in just over three weeks, students have to study. But at least it's possible to sit outside, and get a tan while you do. (Can you spot the geeks by their excellent tans? Er, probably not, but I like the thought.)

But the big item this week is student elections. As you can see (er, or actually can't as the crowd is in the way), free pizza draws a crowd:


But when it comes to politics, there's no substitute for passing out pork, as this grilling operation demonstrates:

Anyway, I've been stuck in the office proofreading a forthcoming law review article and, beginning shortly, preparing for class. Then I have a committee meeting to look forward to after that. But I can, at least, take vicarious pleasure in the way other people are enjoying the nice weather. And there's always tomorrow, I suppose. And, of course, I managed to enjoy the nice weather and the outdoors yesterday.

But it all seems that much more appealing when you have work to do!

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS is up, with lots of interesting business and economics-related posts.

DAVID BERNSTEIN WRITES on "hostile environment blowback:"

Now comes word, via John Rosenberg, that the University of North Carolina professor in question, Elyse Crystall, is, along with UNC, being investigated by the Department of Education for violating federal civil rights law by creating a hostile environment for white, male, Christian students. A conservative Republican Congressman, Rep. Walter Jones, helped instigate the investigation.

I don't approve of such things, but there's no better way to put an end to this asinine speech-suppressing body of law than to start enforcing it evenhandledly.

ANDREW SULLIVAN is back blogging.

LAST WEEK, I linked to an old photo of Doug Weinstein. Now he returns the favor with an even older one of me. (And if you follow the link on the second photo, you can see me in the background, at the soundboard of the old Longbranch Saloon on Cumberland Ave. It was a Peavey, as I recall, featuring 12 channels. Which, judging by my appearance in that photo, is also my age at the time. . . .)

UPDATE: Heh. Here's another one of Doug. And, by the way, here's a lesson in life: the woman I'm sitting with in the picture Doug links, who I was dating at the time, is also the woman through whom I met my wife. Be nice to your girlfriends, and your ex-girlfriends. It pays!

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Scott Kent emails: "OMG, that second pic of Doug you posted (he's wearing the Mork suspenders), his nose and beard make him look like Pete Townshend, circa 1973!"

In other respects, he's more like Keith Moon.

KERRY QUOTES SCRIPTURE: LaShawn Barber comments: "Using taxpayers' money isn't a work of faith."

LARRY LESSIG is guest-blogging over at GlennReynolds.com.

BEYOND THE BLOGOSPHERE: William Safire writes: "Never has there been a financial rip-off of the magnitude of the U.N. oil-for-food scandal."

Yes. More:

Responding to a harangue in this space on March 17, the spokesman for Kofi Annan confirmed that the secretary general's soft-spoken son, Kojo, was on the payroll of Cotecna Inspections of Switzerland until December 1998. In that very month, the U.N. awarded Cotecna the contract to monitor and authenticate the goods shipped to Iraq.

Prices were inflated to allow for 10 percent kickbacks, and the goods were often shoddy and unusable. As the lax Cotecna made a lot of corporate friends, Iraqi children suffered from rotted food and diluted medicines.

The U.N. press agent also revealed that Benon Sevan, Annan's longtime right-hand man in charge of the flow of billions, was advised by U.N. lawyers that the names of companies receiving the contracts were "privileged commercial information, which could not be made public." Mr. Sevan had stonewalling help.

Funny, isn't it, that while people were accusing the United States of starving Iraqi children, it was actually the U.N. that was doing it? "Funny," that is, in the sense that the crimes and hypocrisies of the international political classes are peculiarly unnoted, not funny in the sense of actually amusing.

Meanwhile Roger Simon has more, and observes:

While the Congress is playing the blame game with their 9/11 hearings... telling us all what we already knew (that no one did much about terrorism before 9/11--duh!)... the real investigation is beginning on 44th Street with potential information that can tell us a hundred times more about the terror game... no make that a thousand times more... than the partisan sniping going on on (where else?) Capitol Hill.

Leave no stone unturned. Or un-flung, at guilty UN officials and their co-conspirators.

IN A STRATEGY I'VE CRITICIZED AS SHORTSIGHTED, THE NANOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY, scared of backlash from Michael Crichtonesque scenarios involving molecular robots, has been pooh-poohing the possibility of advanced nanotechnology and stressing lower-tech nanomaterials.

The payoff? Articles like this one from the Washington Post: Nanotechnology Linked to Organ Damage -- Study. The study isn't about genuine molecular nanotechnology, but about nanomaterials of the sort that industry boosters would prefer the press to focus on. Oops.

In truth, these fears are rather overstated -- as I noted in my report from the EPA's Science Advisory Board meeting a few months back, this seems to be more of a workplace-safety issue than an environmental issue and toxicologists seem to feel they have a pretty good handle on these questions. It's also true that (as is often the case with stories on technological risk) the "study" trumpeted by the Post isn't exactly hard science yet: "The study, described at a scientific meeting Sunday, was small and has yet to be peer reviewed or published in a scientific journal." And most nanotechnology enthusiasts wouldn't consider "buckyballs" -- the actual subject of the study -- to be true nanotechnology at all, despite what the industry says.

Nonetheless, because of its worries about science-fiction-based fears where mature nanotechnology is concerned, the nanotechnology industry has mostly succeeded in exaggerating concern about shorter-term fears. Afraid that nanotechnology might be associated with lethal (and implausible) sci-fi robots in the public mind, it has produced a situation in which nanotechnology may come to be associated with lethal (and more plausible) toxic buckyballs instead. Call me crazy, but that seems worse. This ham-handed approach to public relations has the potential to do real harm to the industry, and in the process to a technology that the world desperately needs.

UPDATE: Howard Lovy notes that the Post story has a lot of other problems, too, and offers some very useful perspective.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster has advice for the nanotechnology industry.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Moore has comments.

LEE HARRIS WRITES on the uses of failure.

MICKEY KAUS: "Democrats demand more elective surgery for Kerry!"

SOFTBALL AND EGGS: A reader emails:

I'm wondering how long it will take for the scathing reproachments that are all over the blogosphere to start showing up as egg on the faces of the interviewers of such programs as Meet The Press. I was absolutely disgusted with the 'free' pass Clarke was given on that program this morning. If they had an audience and I had been in it, it wouldn't have taken long for the egg to show up. As I would have been throwing them right then.

I didn't see the show, but here's a report characterizing their Clarke interview as soft as a baby's bottom.

UPDATE: Reader Dan Chattos observes that Sixty Minutes dropped the ball:

I suppose I am naive, but is there any indication that the folks at "60 Minutes" are the least bit embarrassed by their interview with Dick Clarke?

Leaving aside Clarke's assessment of the Bush administration, his claims on behalf of the Clinton administration (that fighting al-Qa'eda was an urgent priority) were obviously false (or at best spin).

Clarke acknowledged that Yugoslavia(!) was a higher priority for Clinton and thinks that was ok, but finds Bush's concern with Iraq proof that Bush was not serious in fighting terrorism despite the fact that Clarke, himself, had made statements linking Iraq and al-Qa'eda.

Bottom line, much of what Clarke said over the last 10 years or alleged more recently was secret, insider information. It took most bloggers less that 24 hours to begin raising issues about Clarke's credibility, yet "60 minutes" with Clarke's book in hand, were apparently unable to identify any of these issues on their own prior to the interview.

I seems that a little preparation on the part of "60 Minutes" would have allowed them to encapsulated the entire debate of the last week within the context of a single show. Now that would have been investigative journalism at its finest...

Good point. And maybe the Sixty Minutes conflict-of-interest problem where Clarke's book was concerned did some real harm, both to their program and to the national debate.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here on Clarke's statements about Iraq.

ROD DREHER EMAILS:

If you're the prayerful sort, please offer one up for our friend Stuart Buck. I have the privilege of knowing Stuart personally, but he's got a lot of readers and fans in the blogosphere who will no doubt be grieved to hear what's happened to him. He suffered two strokes over the weekend, and is in the hospital in Arkansas near his folks. Lawyer Stuart had just moved with his wife and two small children from Dallas to his Arkansas hometown last week ... and now this. I don't have any specifics on his condition, except that I'm told he can speak. Stuart is all of 29. He's a good man, and he and his wife and kids need all the prayers or good wishes we can muster. Pass it on.

Jeez, that's terrible news. Please send him your best wishes for a full recovery. I don't know any more (and there's nothing on his blog), but I'll see what I can find out.

March 28, 2004

TOOK MOST OF THE DAY OFF and went to the mountains, digital camera in hand. I drove up US 129 from Maryville toward Bryson City, NC (known as "the tail of the Dragon" to motorcyclists as it's both twisty and hilly), though I only went a little bit past Deal's Gap, NC. I saw lots of bikers, almost all of whom were going much faster than I was. (Notwithstanding the RX-8's very impressive performance, especially in light of my somewhat rusty heel-and-toe skills, I didn't try to keep up, and I suspect that the Supra that I saw in the ditch had made the mistake of attempting just that.) You don't try to keep up with a motorcyclist in the mountains -- you just figure you can always find him in the emergency room, later. . . .

Took a lot of lovely photos, and enjoyed the spring weather -- it got up to 82 today, and it was surprisingly warm even up in the mountains.

I've been enjoying the photography a lot, and I may post an online gallery later, in case anyone is interesting. While I suspect that most readers don't care much, there are definitely some whose interest is very strong. And as I mentioned a while back, I'm recovering an early love of mine with this.

UPDATE: Here's a motorcycle blog with photos, devoted to the Dragon's Tail.

IN RESPONSE TO MY COLUMN ON DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY from last week, reader Jim Herd sends this interesting piece on how the switch to digital photography has affected the aesthetic at Sports Illustrated. Excerpt:

The pictures themselves, Fine says, have changed the look of the magazine. "For years [with film], we've been fighting a battle between sharpness and grain, especially in low-light shots. You try to sharpen and you just end up building more graininess. I'm amazed at the quality we're getting in low-light shots off our digital files. We're running [low-light pictures] up to two-page size that we could never have done before. Sometimes [digital] looks like it's underwater, a little bit too smooth. A strobed basketball game on a Hasselblad has a sharp line and a punch that digital doesn't have. But we don't have grain anymore. In really poorly lit situations, the ability to make a clean picture far outweighs the downside." . . .

Digital photography has changed not only the magazine's workflow but also its visual aesthetic, says Geoff Michaud. "There's a different quality expectation with digital vs. film. With film, grain was accepted and tolerated. It was a by-product of sharpness. When we moved to digital we found that the expectation changed. I'm not 100% sure why. Now a softer feel image [is considered good], and when noise becomes apparent it's a negative thing, where it wasn't with film. I'm concerned with my operators now that because noise or grain has become a negative thing, sometimes they're holding off on sharpening. [Sometimes] I look at images, and I feel they're not quite sharp enough." That said, Michaud adds, "I think [the magazine] looks better now, but maybe that's because my expectations about what looks good have changed."

To invoke another one of my hobbies, this reminds me of sound. With audio, people like analog distortion, within limits. Nobody likes digital distortion. I think there's something similar going on with digital imagery.

PIERRE LEGRAND links a letter from Operation AC, saying that "people are sick and tired of hearing about the war," and that they're worried that this will make it hard for them to generate donations to support the troops again this year.

Feel free to go to their site and prove them wrong!

I was writing about postwar malaise nearly a year ago -- and I had an MSNBC post, pre-Iraq, about how I was tired of the war. I don't blame people for being tired.

Who wouldn't be tired? But that's no excuse for slacking off.

UPDATE: Reader Diana Sebben emails:

Dear Mr Reynolds, I read your post about people being tired of hearing about the war. We are going to donate via the site you linked to. Thanks for giving us another opportunity to help our troops. We have helped as much as we can right from the start, we have adopted soldiers, sent bicycles and tons of toys and school stuff to Wiggles-just trying to put our money where our mouth is-but aware that it is not enough.....

As far as your assertion that we are sick and tired of war-I hope that you are wrong. Good grief, what would this say about our sticking power, our courage and endurance. It would make me sick to think that we can send these people to fight for us while we sit on the couch and talk about how tired we are. The only thing that I am sick of is the constant negative carping and snivelling from the BBC, CNN, CBS, ABC, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times et al. they do a huge diservice to our troops and their families. I just have one major request for you and the other bloggers. Please, please refrain from making appeals for help for our troops on the weekend. Hit us on a Monday when we're all on line and ready to help. No offense, but I would say that you have less readers on a weekend.... Keep up the good work.

I will. As anyone who has toilet trained a child knows, "sick and tired" isn't the same as "ready to quit."

SYRIA: The next Libya?

SYRIA has appealed to Australia to use its close ties with Washington to help the Arab nation shake off its reputation as a terrorist haven and repair its relations with the US.

Secret talks between the two nations have been under way for months but have become more urgent as rogue nations reconsider their role in allowing terrorists to thrive, in light of the US determination to take pre-emptive military action.

It's working.

ROGER SIMON has more on the continuing United Nations oil-for-food scandal.

ACCOUNTABILITY? THAT'S FOR OTHER PEOPLE:

Senior BBC staff are threatening to take some flagship programmes off the air rather than face criticisms from an internal inquiry launched in the aftermath of Hutton. . . .

Read the whole thing.

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