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January 22, 2005

IN LIGHT OF MY EARLIER MENTIONS, I should note that I just ordered this William Gibson video, which sounds pretty cool. Heck, any documentary by/with William Gibson sounds pretty cool.

This one sounds like a cyberpunk version of the film I'd like to make, in which James Lileks and I are filmed in a 1959 Eldorado convertible, as we visit malls, breweries, and flea markets across America.

JIM DUNNIGAN HAS AN INSIGHTFUL-AS-USUAL LOOK at the war. Here's an excerpt:

Many of the plans of Islamic terrorists get pretty murky if you try and look too far ahead. Taking on the West appears more as an act of despair. After all, Islamic radicals took control of Iran and Afghanistan, and brought nothing but misery. In actual fact, most Islamic terrorists are still trying to overthrow the existing governments in Islamic nations. International terrorism, against Western targets, was always a lot more difficult, and thus rather rare. But the September 11, 2001 attacks gave many Islamic terrorists the idea that they could actually bring down the West. The fact that there has not been another attack in the United States since 911, and only one in Western Europe, is often overlooked. Symbolism is powerful. If you can't deal with reality, call in al Jazeera and show them your best symbolism. This approach made al Qaeda stand out, even though it was but one of many Islamic radical organizations.

The battle against Moslem governments has not been going so well either. But this really doesn’t matter, because Islamic terrorists have their hands full carrying out any attacks at all anywhere. The American invasion of Iraqi in 2003 enraged many Islamic radicals, and caused them to launch more attacks inside Islamic countries. The main result of this was to reveal how weak the Islamic terrorists actually were, how shallow their support was among Moslem populations, and how effective the governments in Moslem nations were in fighting back.

As I said, it's just an excerpt. Read the whole thing.

TOM MAGUIRE DOES THE MATH that Paul Krugman, er, didn't.

MERYL YOURISH notes that something seems to be happening in Israel, and it seems to be something good.

LT. SMASH REPORTS from a counter-counter-inaugural. Good work.

HAVE I BEEN UNFAIR TO JAMES DOBSON over the SpongeBob affair? According to this editorial from ToonZone, the cartoon website, yes, I have, by falling for the New York Times' spin:

As Reuters describes it, Christian groups are attacking a video; the various cartoon characters and entertainers who appear in it are being criticized indirectly (if at all) for lending themselves to an agenda that these critics deplore. As the Times describes it, though, these groups are specifically attacking SpongeBob. And by sticking in an early and gratuitous reference to SpongeBob's popularity with gay men (a point utterly irrelevant to a story about the video), the Times creates the impression that Dobson is attacking SpongeBob for being a gay icon. No wonder a casual reader comes away with the impression that Dobson is attacking SpongeBob for being gay. . . .

And in making SpongeBob sound like a martyr, it appears to be trying to piggyback a rival agenda onto his very thin shoulders: Save SpongeBob from the bluenoses!

Cartoons don't deserve this. SpongeBob doesn't deserve this. And SpongeBob's creator, Stephen Hillenburg, certainly doesn't deserve to have his creation kidnapped and turned into a giant puppet in some freak protest parade, no matter what its cause.

To Dobson and the Times I've a simple message: Get your hands out of SpongeBob's square pants.

And here's Dobson's statement. I disagree with Dobson, of course, on all sorts of issues, but it's still important to be clear what's he's actually doing, and not to let other people put words in his mouth. I should have been more skeptical of the Times, which has apparently gotten so unreliable that you need to turn to Reuters for more accurate reporting . . . .

TOUR THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE: The latest Blog Mela is up!

SISSY WILLIS notes some serious math problems.

WHAT KIND OF A GEEK AM I? First class, as shown by what showed up yesterday: The second season of Gilligan's Island on DVD, and part of the second season of Lost in Space -- though only part, because -- inspired by the excellent sales of the first season, I guess -- they've broken the second season into two pieces and I didn't notice when I ordered it. That's kind of cheesy.

My big question, though, is why The Addams Family isn't out on DVD yet. America's youth need role models, and who better than Gomez Addams?

UPDATE: Fritz Schranck notes another stunning omission from the video revival. Meanwhile, on the "how big a geek?" front, reader John McGuire emails: "I ordered the Lost in Space soundtrack. And I play it in my car. Top that!"

I can't. I said first class, not world-class . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Peter Taylor emails:

You blogged:

"My big question, though, is why The Addams Family isn't out on DVD yet. America's youth need role models, and who better than Gomez Addams?"

I don't know if you meant this as a joke, but The Addams Family was the *only* show I remember on TV when I was growing up in which there was much in the way of open display of affection between a married couple. Great show!

Hmm. I hadn't really thought of that. But Gomez -- a lawyer married to a striking brunette with morbid interests -- was one of my role models, along with the Professor from Gilligan's Island. And here I am, a law professor married to a striking brunette with morbid interests . . . .

EARLIER, I LINKED to a New York Times story on how the Ukrainian secret services helped the Orange Revolution. Veronica Khokhlova, however, suggests that this is a somewhat skewed portrayal.

UPDATE: More on that subject, here.

COLBY COSH IS EXCITED about the new Airbus superjumbo:

One feels a little embarrassed at the "See? Europeans aren't entirely pathetic" part. And, after all, the A380 still does need to get off the ground. But in an age of exaggerated environmental and geopolitical anxieties, it is encouraging to see a feat of engineering and business flair celebrated without apology. . . .

For much of my own life, the aviation world seems to have been focused on finding new marginal vistas for air travel rather than devising grandiose new signature aircraft. Environmentalism and OPEC wiped out the dreams of supersonic air travel in the 1970s, and we have watched that glorious bird of prey, the Concorde, live out its entire life cycle as a frou-frou oddity. Now, at last, credible contenders to supplant the 747 are emerging.

Brian Micklethwait, on the other hand, is skeptical: " I suspect that the A380 is costing Europe a whole lot more than is being officially suggested, and that Boeing decided not to build a similar aircraft for good, loss-avoiding reasons."

I'll be interested to see if they can really get 800-900 passengers boarded and seated in less time than it takes to fly across the Atlantic . . . .

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

I have to admit that I find James Fallows' rather different vision of the future of air travel more compelling, though to be fair he's really talking about domestic travel here, not long-haul international flights.

January 21, 2005

THE ROAD TO FIEFDOM. Great title; good post.

PREMATURE LAPHAMIZATION at The Nation. [Premature Laphamization? Isn't that redundant? -- Ed. Not this time]

AT LEGAL AFFAIRS, Eric Posner and Oona Hathaway debate the importance of international law. Key question: "Why do you think that states keep creating international tribunals after decades of failure?" (Via Opinio Juris).

PIECES ON BLOGS AND JOURNALISTIC ETHICS from AP and The Wall Street Journal.

SayUncle suggests that it might be ethical for journalists writing about blogs to link them. Then he codifies this as an ethical rule.

That's reminiscent of something that James Lileks observed (and the link here is to a quote because his archives don't seem to be working properly, which is kind of ironic):

A wire story consists of one voice pitched low and calm and full of institutional gravitas, blissfully unaware of its own biases or the gaping lacunae in its knowledge. Whereas blogs have a different format: Clever teaser headline that has little to do with the actual story, but sets the tone for this blog post. Breezy ad hominem slur containing the link to the entire story. Excerpt of said story, demonstrating its idiocy (or brilliance) Blogauthor's remarks, varying from dismissive sniffs to a Tolstoi- length rebuttal. Seven comments from people piling on, disagreeing, adding a link, acting stupid, preaching to the choir, accusing choir of being Nazis, etc.

I'd say it's a throwback to the old newspapers, the days when partisan slants covered everything from the play story to the radio listings, but this is different. The link changes everything. When someone derides or exalts a piece, the link lets you examine the thing itself without interference. TV can't do that. Radio can't do that. Newspapers and magazines don't have the space. My time on the internet resembles eight hours at a coffeeshop stocked with every periodical in the world - if someone says "I read something stupid" or "there was this wonderful piece in the Atlantic" then conversation stops while you read the piece and make up your own mind.

Read the piece and make up your own mind. That's what the link does, and it's a big deal, something that journalistic accounts of blog ethics tend to ignore, and that journalistic practice tends to ignore, too.

UPDATE: Here's the Lileks link in archival form, thanks to the Wayback Machine.

HEH: "**WARNING: GRAPHIC LANGUAGE IN PHOTO BELOW** Heh. I suppose that will just *encourage* some people to scroll down."

But at least they were warned.

A MORE NAPOLEONIC BRITAIN: Seems inappropriate to me.

UPDATE: Well, why not -- they've clearly forgotten English history.

WHAT YOU'LL WISH YOU'D KNOWN: Paul Graham offers advice to high-schoolers.

Slashdot readers respond.

MICHAEL POWELL IS RESIGNING: BlogCritics has a roundup.

UPDATE: Some fairly rare blogospheric praise for Powell, for some of his less-famous stances: "Over the last four years, Powell by his public statements and, ostensibly, private actions has managed to open more spectrum, consider innovative secondary uses of licensed spectrum, and build a framework for cleaning up the messier and least used bands that are needed for 3G and beyond and WiMax and beyond. In these areas, Powell’s leadership encouraged technologies that aren’t centrally owned or controlled and that may, in fact, dislodge primacy of wireline incumbents."

CHARITY, SCHMARITY: Heh.

JOURNALISM STUDENT JUEMAN ZHANG from the University of Missouri is asking InstaPundit readers to fill out this online survey.

I STARTED SAYING THIS YEARS AGO, but now The New Republic is chiming in in support of the notion that national Democrats could learn a lot about winning elections from Phil Bredesen. And, as I've also said, the Democrats could do a lot worse than running him in 2008.

UPDATE: One of the things that's interesting about Bredesen, by the way, is that he's good on conservative talk radio. He goes on the shows, he answers questions rather than ducking them or retreating into slogans and sound bites, and as a result the hosts (and listeners) respect him even when they disagree. When he ran for governor I had real doubts; it was hearing him on Hallerin Hill's talk show that made me think he had a chance to win. If you can imagine a Democratic Presidential nominee who could go on Hugh Hewitt's show and hold his own, you're imagining a Democratic nominee who can win.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on Bredesen's talk-radio presence and political prospects, here, and here. As I've said before, the Democrats could do worse. And probably will!

JEFFERSON'S "REIGN OF WITCHES" QUOTE in context.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

WASHINGTON — Former President Jimmy Carter was a target of the clandestine lobby campaign launched by an Iraqi-American businessman who admitted he was paid millions of dollars to undermine U.S. policy toward Iraq, it was revealed yesterday. . . .

Among Vincent's American contacts was former GOP vice-presidential nominee and ex-New York Rep. Jack Kemp, who acknowledged working with him on a proposal to ease the economic sanctions if Iraq would readmit U.N. weapons inspectors.

In 1999, Kemp took those proposals to then-Defense Secretary William Cohen — and again in 2001, to Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell, said Washington lawyer Lanny Davis, who was speaking for Kemp.

In his discussions with Powell and Cheney, Kemp said he wanted to go to Baghdad to pitch his plan with the younger Graham, who is an associate of Carter, Davis said.

Kemp was rebuffed.

Call me crazy, but a lobbying plan that revolves around Jimmy Carter and Jack Kemp isn't exactly top-drawer. No wonder it was rebuffed.

More on Samir Vincent here.

WHY YOU STILL NEED A PRINTER:

There's one in almost every American household: a shoebox stuffed with faded snapshots of days gone by, the kids' baby pictures, the ugly dress you wore to the prom, innumerable views of the Grand Canyon, the college roommate passed out drunk. Americans have been filling such shoeboxes for generations, and now, thanks to the delete button on digital cameras, this widespread custom is coming to an end.

I think that this story makes too much of the loss of bad photos, but the loss of hardcopy is a big deal. As Neal Stephenson said a while back:

Paper's a really advanced technology. That was brought home to me by working on this, when I read a lot of documents from that era, which were put down on really good, acid-free paper. They're all pretty much as good as they were the day they were made 300 or 350 years ago. This is not going to be true of today's electronic media in 300 years. There's a lesson there.

Yes, there is. Home prints are potentially longer-lived than commercial prints, actually (there's a lengthy discussion from a knowledgeable reader at the end of this post on what technologies are better) but you have to make them. Digital images are potentially immortal, so long as they get recopied from time to time onto fresh media, but reality being what it is, hardcopy in a shoebox is probably likely to outlast things that require actual human effort.

And this point, of course, goes way beyond family photos.

I MEANT TO MENTION THIS EARLIER, but the Washington Post's Joel Achenbach has a blog.

DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY UPDATE: Regular readers know that I'm very happy with my Nikon D70 digital SLR -- but I've had one annoying issue, which is its occasional refusal to take a photo in a particular exposure mode. It's not an autofocus issue, and it's always fixed by switching to a different exposure mode. I emailed Nikon for help and got a response almost immediately (a real one, from a real person, not an autoresponse) suggesting that I reset the camera. I haven't tried it yet, but I was just impressed with the speed of the response. I've heard that the support is good, but that was my first experience with it, and since I tend to complain about bad support, I thought I should note the good experience I've had.

And, BTW, those of you out there who own D70s should know that there's a firmware upgrade available.

TOMASZ TELUK and Shanti Mangala are both skeptical of the EU's planned war on obesity.

MORE ON THE NEW JERSEY KILLINGS, suggesting a possible link to Islamic extremism.

EVAN COYNE MALONEY is profiled in the New York Sun.

THIS seems promising:

An overwhelming majority of Iraqis continue to say they intend to vote on Jan. 30 even as insurgents press attacks aimed at rendering the elections a failure, according to a new public opinion survey.

The poll, conducted in late December and early January for the International Republican Institute, found 80 percent of respondents saying they were likely to vote, a rate that has held roughly steady for months.

(Via Captain Ed).

TIM WORSTALL thinks about the impact of blogs on the coming British elections.

AND WITH PLENTY OF TIME BEFORE DINNER: This week's Carnival of the Recipes is up, hosted by CalTechGirl this week.

JOHN POWERS thinks that Democrats should rethink:

Whether it’s rewriting the tax code or privatizing Social Security to solve an imaginary "crisis," the right has become the agent of change.

In contrast, the left has become — there’s no other word for it — reactionary.

Still unable to accept that the right has dominated our national life for the last quarter-century, the left hasn’t done the hard, slow work of thinking through what it means to be progressive during an era of ultraglobalized capitalism in which the only successful Democratic president in the last 35 years, Bill Clinton, followed policies that even he compared to Dwight Eisenhower’s. Far from proposing bold new ideas that might seize the popular imagination, the left now plays the kind of small-ball that Dubya disdains. Even worse, it’s become the side that’s forever saying "No."

It does seem that way.

UPDATE: Something similar from The Economist:

The biggest problem with the current Democratic leadership is not that it has lost the will to fight but that it has lost the power to think. When was the last intellectually innovative idea you heard from Nancy Pelosi, the current minority leader, or, for that matter, from Dick Gephardt, her predecessor? Heaven knows, Mr Gingrich's musings have caused his party problems. But the Democrats are in danger of turning into that most pathetic of all political organisations—a minority party that devotes all its energies to the blind defence of the status quo. By all means let the Democrats learn from Newt the fighter; but if they want to recapture power they need to learn from Newt the thinker, too.

Indeed.

JOHN TABIN looks at the exit-poll after-action report: "The pollsters have good reason to be embarrassed; their post-election spin, always dubious, is fully derailed. For months, their line has been that their data was just fine, and it was misinterpreted by the nefarious bloggers who broke the embargo by posting leaked data that was incomplete. . . . But Edison/Mitofsky's data was flawed long after half time."

UNSCAM UPDATE: I missed this yesterday, but better late than never:

January 20, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — Former Republican vice-presidential candidate and New York Congressman Jack Kemp has been questioned by the FBI in the U.N. oil-for-food scandal, it was revealed last night. Newsweek magazine reported on its Web site that the ex-Buffalo Bills quarterback faces scrutiny about his dealings with Virginia-based oil trader Samir Vincent, who earlier this week became the first figure to be formally charged with criminal wrongdoing in the $21.3 billion global scandal.

What's sadder -- that Jack Kemp would be involved in something like this, or that someone would think that Jack Kemp could help them?

January 20, 2005

THE BELMONT CLUB: "It is perhaps the subconscious realization that it has awakened to a nightmare new world that drives the the Left's incredulous reaction to George Bush. . . . The European ideologies of the last century have left the stream of history and will not, cannot acknowledge it. . . . Personally I find it difficult to conceive of an enmity with Muslims in general when it is Muslims doing the most dying on the side of freedom in Iraq."

HOW NEGATIVE is media coverage of Iraq? Arthur Chrenkoff does the math.

SOME ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES for the second term: "Federal Agencies Filled With Holders of Store Bought Diplomas."

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, in John Ashkkkroft's Christine Gregoire's America.

BAD SCARY NUMBERS IN bogus stories on Internet threats? Shocking but true:

It's an alarming statistic: One in five children has been sexually solicited online.

That stat is turning up on billboards and television commercials around the country, driven by an aggressive push from child-protection advocates. In the TV version, eerie music plays as a camera pans over a school playground and then shows a park. A female narrator intones: "To the list of places you might find sexual predators, add this one" -- as the image changes to a girl using a computer in her bedroom. The spot ends with the one-in-five stat. It's all part of an ad blitz that has gotten millions of dollars of free media time since its launch last year and is set to continue through 2007.

But while the motivation behind the campaign appears to be sound, the crucial statistic is misleading and could scare parents into thinking the danger is greater than it really is. . . .

The upshot of all of this is a dated stat -- five years is an eon in Internet time -- that makes once-valid research seem scarier than it is.

It is no great surprise that advertising can present statistics in misleading or slanted ways. But when this happens in commercial ads, competitors can fire back. For noncontroversial issue advertising, no one has great motivation to challenge advocates' claims -- who would argue that parents don't need to be vigilant about their children's online activities?

I think that nonprofits and advocacy groups should be held to the same standard as businesses on this sort of thing -- especially since it's often part of a pitch to raise money. And, as I've written before (here, here, here, here, and here, among other places), nonprofits need to be getting the kind of financial-accounting scrutiny that businesses get, too.

IMPORTANT THOUGHTS ON BLOG ETHICS, from IowaHawk and Skippy. Though in Skippy's case, the phrase "too much information" applies.

I PICKED ON THE E.U. EARLIER, but the United States is not without sin on the shrimp-quota front:

Less than two weeks after a 40-foot wave flattened massive swaths of Southeast Asia, the United States slapped a tariff on millions of dollars worth of seafood imports from India and Thailand. As the federal government promised $350 million, and private citizens pledged even more, the message to surviving shrimp farmers was clear: Have our marines, our pity, and our cash, but for the love of God, do not send us your cheap shrimp.

Unlike Europe, we did send aircraft carriers and such. But as I've said here before, trade is better than aid. And, sympathies for Bubba Gump notwithstanding, so are cheap shrimp.

JAMES DOBSON IS BLOWING IT with his attacks on SpongeBob.

Not many people, forced to choose between SpongeBob Squarepants and James Dobson, are going to pick Dobson.

UPDATE: More here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I had forgotten, until Rand Simberg emailed to remind me, that the question of SpongeBob's sexuality has already been settled.

AUSTIN BAY: "The President’s inaugural speech said in spades what I wish he would say every day."

UPDATE: GayPatriot: "I'm sorry, I thought the entire speech was about Iraq...and Afghanistan...and Iran...and Palestine. All Bush talked about was Freedom vs. Oppression, Democracy vs. Tyranny."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tom Perry is drawing JFK / GWB parallels.

MORE: Was Bush channeling Natan Sharansky?

MOOREWATCH IS DEFENDING MICHAEL MOORE with a post indicating that the story about Moore's bodyguard being arrested on a gun charge isn't true.

Good for them, as they demonstrate a commitment to accuracy that Moore himself should envy.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH is fact-checking Harry Reid, who really should be more careful whose press releases he relies on.

UPDATE: Okay, Pejman is relying on James Taranto -- which is much wiser.

STEVE STURM ISN'T EXCITED about the inauguration. I'm not either, really. I'm kind of relieved that there weren't any explosions, though.

SOME THOUGHTS on the Democrats' great hope, over at GlennReynolds.com.

ABBAS UPDATE: Meryl Yourish is looking thoughtful and going "Hmmm."

MEDIENKRITIK:

This is what journalism has devolved to in Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung: Translating a cynical fantasy obituary of George W. Bush written by Griel Marcus and combining it with a picture of Bush and Rumsfeld in Mickey Mouse Ears.

I think they've got the wrong Disney character. And Germans should know better.

I WROTE A WHILE BACK in The Guardian that Hillary Clinton is a member of the Religious Left. There's further support for that here from Hillary herself:

Addressing a crowd of more than 500, including many religious leaders, at Boston's Fairmont Copley Plaza, Clinton invoked God more than half a dozen times, at one point declaring, "I've always been a praying person."

She said there must be room for religious people to "live out their faith in the public square."

I think that she's serious about that, and not faking it as some on the right are suggesting.

UPDATE: Michael Novak emails:

Yes, she is serious about praying often. Yes, she is a serious Christian, and has been for some time (not deep, I think, but serious). And, yes, she is a person of the left. So you are right to identify her as part of the religious left. But I interpret her talk in Boston as an effort to bring religious left and religious right into some common work together, and precisely in supporting faith-based workers who sacrifice to help the poor and needy. I am sure you applaud, too, when religious right and religious left join hands for good purposes, especially in serving others. And it seems to me a generous move for Senator Clinton to do so by supporting a program with which President Bush has been so personally identified. She makes clear that such a program is not in itself ideological, but a place where right and left can come together in helping others. I am glad you stressed her sincerity. She could have interpreted her own self-interest as in being anti-Bush at all costs, and she did not.

Good point.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT:

Hundreds of people gathered at both ends of Meridian Hill Park in Northwest Washington for a peace rally sponsored by the D.C Antiwar Network.

But there were interlopers: Thirteen members of ProtestWarror, supporting the Bush administration and its policies in Iraq. When the Bush supporters arrived, about 20 black-clad, self-described anarchists emerged from the crowd, shouting profanity and epithets and demanding that they leave the peace rally.

When the Bush supporters refused to leave, the anarchists tore the sign out of the Bush supporters' hands and stomped on them. When ProtestWarrior leader Gil Kobrin objected, several male anarchists knocked him to the ground, kicking him in the back and punching him. Other anarchists punched and shoved Kobrin's 12 colleagues.

Those "peace" protesters are vicious.

OPINIO JURIS is a new law professor blog dedicated to international law.

TERM TWO BEGINS: Lets hope it goes well for everyone.

UPDATE: Here's the text of Bush's inaugural address. He's not thinking small: "Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country." He plugs the Koran, too.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Funny, I switched about halfway through from NPR to an AM station running Fox, and on the AM station the applause sounded much louder.

MORE: Victor Davis Hanson comments. Ed Morrissey writes: "in its own way, this might be one of the most radically classical-liberal American speeches in a generation."

And Joe Gandelman has some thoughts, and is rounding up reactions. But some people are very upset at the lack of giant puppets.

HAS "REALIGNMENT" STOPPED? I hope that the Democrats manage to stay competitive. Karl Rove may want to marginalize them, but I'd rather see a two-party system, albeit not one in which Barbara Boxer is the authentic voice of one of those parties.

UGLY IS AS UGLY WAS: That's the title of an article on James Lileks, in the Washington Post.

BOWLING FOR HYPOCRISY:

NEW YORK — Filmmaker Michael Moore's (search) bodyguard was arrested for carrying an unlicensed weapon in New York's JFK airport Wednesday night. . . .

Burke is licensed to carry a firearm in Florida and California, but not in New York. Burke was taken to Queens central booking and could potentially be charged with a felony for the incident.

Moore's 2003 Oscar-winning film "Bowling for Columbine" criticizes what Moore calls America's "culture of fear" and its obsession with guns.

Shades of Rosie O'Donnell.

UPDATE: And not just Rosie. Here's a roundup of gun-control fans busted for gun violations on the part of their bodyguards.

ANOTHER UPDATE: MooreWatch reports that the story quoted above is wrong.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: I'm not a comics geek at all, but to bring an Amazon order up to the "free shipping" level I added these Uncle Scrooge comics, which I remember from when I was a kid. (For some reason, they, along with Mad magazine, were easy to come by when we lived in Germany, while most others were not). There are probably interesting sociological points to be made regarding Scrooge's portrayal, but I'll have to make them another time, as the Insta-Daughter (who is normally indifferent to comics) grabbed them immediately.

UPDATE: Reader Robert McNair emails:

Hosanna!! Another Uncle Scrooge fan. The finest character in the history of comics. My mind still reels at the genius of the diving board over the pool filled with money. If only.

Yes, the "money bin" was always amusing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Rand Simberg emails a link to this essay explaining why Scrooge McDuck offers valuable lessons in capitalism to America's youth. Perhaps it's time for a revival.

MORE: Dave Kopel emails:

The reason that Uncle Scrooge comics were so easy to get in Germany in your childhood is that Scrooge benefits as an auxilliary of Donald Duck. DD comics were, and are, very big in Germany. I read them to brush up on the small amount of German I know. When I was in Germany last September, I could buy Donald Duck anthologies, in German, at a gas station.

There's a famous book by a Chilean author which explains Donald Duck's popularity in Latin America as an example of imperialism, with all sorts of embedded capitalist messsages.

Link

If you were unfortunate enough to be a Cultural Studies professor, you would almost certainly have read the book.

Let's toast my good fortune, I guess. After all, all sorts of other academics are jealous of law professors and our perquisites.

And from the article that Kopel links, this bit: "Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck have morphed into Peter Jennings and Ted Koppel." And which Disney character would have best fit Dan Rather, I wonder . . .?

STILL MORE: I guess I've got better taste than I realized. Reader Garnet Fraser emails:

I'm just a regular reader and comics fan, but you may want to know that the Scrooge comics (created by Carl Barks) are among the best-regarded stuff in the whole history of the medium. If your French is up to it, check out this comics exposition devoted to them this month at Angouleme, amid Europe's biggest art-comics convention:

Link

My French isn't good (I never studied it except briefly in preparation for visiting, and at best it's on a par with the Google translation) but it's nice to see that the richest duck in the world is getting attention. And the French need him, I think.

MORE STILL: Wyatt's Torch: "I grew up on Scrooge Mcduck—in his later incantation as the afterschool show Ducktales. I have trouble finding words to describe the influence this show had on me growing up."

WI-FI SIDE-BY-SIDE: My TechCentralStation column argues that Wi-Fi and EVDO are complementary, not competitive.

SOMEBODY ASK JAN EGELAND WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT THIS:

TSUNAMI-struck Thailand has been told by the European Commission that it must buy six A380 Airbus aircraft if it wants to escape the tariffs against its fishing industry.

While millions of Europeans are sending aid to Thailand to help its recovery, trade authorities in Brussels are demanding that Thai Airlines, its national carrier, pays £1.3 billion to buy its double-decker aircraft.

The demand will come as a deep embarrassment to Peter Mandelson, the trade commissioner, whose officials started the negotiation before the disaster struck Thailand - killing tens of thousands of people and damaging its economy.

While aid workers from across Europe are helping to rebuild Thai livelihoods, trade officials in Brussels are concluding a jets-for-prawns deal, which they had hoped to announce next month.

As the world’s largest producer of prawns, Thailand has become so efficient that its wares are half the price of those caught by Norway, the main producer of prawns for the EU.

Norway. Home of Jan Egeland. If you ask me, this sounds rather . . . stingy.

UPDATE: A reader says that there are many errors in the Scotsman piece. Click "read more" to read his response.

Read More ?


CIA PREDICTS COLLAPSE:

THE CIA has predicted that the European Union will break-up within 15 years unless it radically reforms its ailing welfare systems.

The report by the intelligence agency, which forecasts how the world will look in 2020, warns that Europe could be dragged into economic decline by its ageing population. It also predicts the end of Nato and post-1945 military alliances.

In a devastating indictment of EU economic prospects, the report warns: "The current EU welfare state is unsustainable and the lack of any economic revitalisation could lead to the splintering or, at worst, disintegration of the EU, undermining its ambitions to play a heavyweight international role."

It adds that the EU’s economic growth rate is dragged down by Germany and its restrictive labour laws. Reforms there - and in France and Italy to lesser extents - remain key to whether the EU as a whole can break out of its "slow-growth pattern". . . .

The report says: "Either European countries adapt their workforces, reform their social welfare, education and tax systems, and accommodate growing immigrant populations [chiefly from Muslim countries] or they face a period of protracted economic stasis."

As a result of the increased immigration needed, the report predicts that Europe’s Muslim population is set to increase from around 13% today to between 22% and 37% of the population by 2025, potentially triggering tensions.

Via Aaron at Freewillblog, who observes that CIA reports predicting problems in Iraq get a lot of attention, but that this one seems to be getting rather little.

January 19, 2005

GREG DJEREJIAN reviews the Condi hearings.

HERE'S A UKRAINE UPDATE from Le Sabot Post-Moderne.

MESSAGE FROM MY SECRETARY, currently serving in Iraq: "I hear Damascus is nice in the Spring!" More details later.

KAUS HAS LOTS OF NEW STUFF at Gearbox.

Message to the new Slate management: Carblogging will sell more ads than politics. Give Kaus a Bugatti, or a Chrysler 300, or a 1968 hemi-Barracuda, and have him drive across America, blogging as he goes. [Cross-promotion with those Verizon Wireless people? -- Ed. Brilliant!]

And Mickey should pick me up along the way. We've done it before!

HEH.

HOW TO BLOG LIKE A ROCK STAR: Advice from Ambra Nykol.

LANCE FRIZZELL:

Back in January '03, you may remember a group of Western liberals who volunteered to go to Iraq as human shields in case the US enforced UN resolutions that Saddam violated. Key graf:

"...they are willing to put themselves in the firing line should US and British forces bomb Iraq. They plan to identify potential bombing targets such as power stations and bridges and act as human shields to protect them."

Well, I think I have just the job for these globe-travelers: Iraq Election Poll Worker. They are familiar with the terrain and people, they have a self-professed desire to help and they seem very articulate. However, their biggest asset is bravery. If they are willing to hunker down between Coalition Forces and a bridge, standing between a foreign terrorist and a polling precinct should be no big deal. Any takers?

Heh. (Via GayPatriot).

DIRTY BOMBS IN BOSTON? Winds of Change has a roundup and tips.

ABC NEWS: Desperately searching for a military funeral on inauguration day.

Hey, if they want to show a casualty of the Bush Administration, they could always put on Dan Rather's reputation. Shortly to be followed by their own, at this rate . . . . (Via Capt. Ed, who has further comments).

UPDATE: Major John Tammes emails from Bagram:

Perhaps all of us serving in the armed forces should send a statement to ABC saying something along the lines of “in case I should be killed in action, you are hereby requested to come nowhere near my funeral, and also requested to not make political hay out of it either.” I guess I am not at risk, since getting killed in Afghanistan is not quite the “balance” they are looking for.

Indeed.

THIS IS TROUBLING:

As the nation's capital prepares itself for the presidential inauguration by going into lockdown mode and placing portable Stinger missile launchers throughout the city, Americans may be stunned to learn that the District of Columbia has been forced by a federal judge to hand over intelligence data on police tactics, training, and strategies from the last inauguration to an organization with documented ties to terrorist groups and Saddam Hussein.

Perhaps this report is in error, as I don't believe that this sort of thing should be discoverable.

RATHERGATE: The first time as farce, the second time as really absurd farce:

Mr. Moonves again defended retaining the president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward, saying that he was satisfied that Mr. Heyward had asked the right questions before the broadcast, though he was "denied the right answers" by the executives under him.

The report's producer, Mary Mapes, was fired as a result of the panel's report. Three others were asked to resign. Mr. Moonves revealed today that none of the three have done so. Asked what CBS will do if they refuse to resign, Mr. Moonves said he could not talk about that situation. "It's a legal issue," he said.

Tom Maguire observes: "It must be like herding cats over there."

HOW THE DEMOCRATS CAN WIN: Who knew it was so easy?

IRAQI BLOGGER ALI responds to Sarah Boxer and to Juan Cole.

BOIFROMTROY: "Barbara, Condi, Dianne and Bill Walk into a Bar..."

This is funny, too.

UPDATE: More comments from Austin Bay.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Still more here.

And here, too.

IN THE MAIL: A copy of F.I.R.E.'s Guide to Free Speech on Campus (timed, I guess, to coincide with the blogad). And a copy of Mark Levin's Men in Black: How the Supreme Court is Destroying America. I haven't read Levin's book, whose title seems a bit hyperbolic, but I'm guessing that the market for conservative books attacking liberal courts will head downward soon, as Bush appoints a lot more judges.

STEFAN SHARKANSKY says there's an explosion of people power in politics and the media. But he wants more.

SAM HELDMAN has reentered the blogosphere.

KEVIN DRUM:

I myself would not argue that Darwinism in biology classes is protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Rather, I would argue more narrowly that everything else is forbidden. If a school district decides not to teach biology at all, that's fine. But if they do teach it, they aren't allowed to include religious proselytizing in the curriculum.

The distinction here is this: creationism is Christian proselytizing, a no-no for government bureaucrats. Intelligent Design is so clearly a thinly veiled version of creationism that it's forbidden too. Darwinism, however, is simply science. School districts are free to stop teaching science if they want, but if they do teach it, they have to teach Darwinism just as much as they have to teach Newtonian mechanics, Boyle's law, and the theory of relativity.

Yes. I suppose there are atheistic Intelligent Design fans out there somewhere, but I don't think I've met one. And I doubt that they really fit into the ID community.

UPDATE: Michael Barone emails:

You say you know of no atheist Intelligent Design believers. Well, I'm an agnostic, and I think (though I haven't given much thought to it) that there might
be something to Intelligent Design. You could say I'm agnostic about it. Of course that's not the same thing as an atheist believing in Intelligent
Design . . . .

Just thought I'd share that. There's snow on the ground here in DC; I'm going to page back and look at some of your Knoxville photoblogging.

There's no snow here, but it was 14 degrees when I took my daughter to school yesterday, and it's not a whole lot more pleasant today. It is, indeed, a change from last week. Then there's this scene, from last summer. . . . Sigh.

GREG DJEREJIAN takes a critical look at Bush's war leadership. Excerpt:

Bush must more effectively communicate to the world audience the nature of his global war on terror. Between a widely (though, it should be noted, not quite as widely as sometimes suggested) supported Afghanistan campaign and the so controversial war in Iraq--America's war on terror lost much support in the court of international opinion. I'm not talking here of the cheap Euro-Gaullist broadsides about Iraq simply consituting a bid for hegemony in the Middle East, or for access to cheap oil (that worked out well, eh?), or simply a dynastic clean up of Poppy's unfinished business. But the reality is, of course, that there exists much misapprehension and confusion about why, for Bush, the war in Iraq has been conflated with the war on terror. Bush must now, as his second term begins, communicate better what he means when he says Iraq is now the "central front" in the war on terror. This is particularly critical in the conspiracy-ridden Middle East.

Read the whole thing, which as always is thoughtful and measured. It's also worth revisiting this critique, written by Austin Bay just after his return from Iraq:


If there is one mistake I think we've made in fighting this war, it's been the way we've soft-pedaled the ideological dimensions. This really is a fight for the future, between our free, open political system and the unholy alliance of despots and Islamo-fascists whose very existence depends on denying liberty.

Iraq -- long plundered by despotism -- should be a wealthy country. It has water, an agricultural base, a source of capital (oil) and people willing to work. It is the best place to begin to reform the dysfunctional political systems that shackle and rob the vast the majority of Middle Easterners. The lesson of 9-11, three years on, is that liberty must sustain a focused offensive if it is to survive.

We should be hearing more like this from the Bush Administration.

TAKE BACK THE NEWS is a "news-sharing community." (Via Dan Gillmor).

BACK DURING THE ELECTION, we were told that characterizations of John Kerry as the most liberal Senator were an outrageous calumny, leading me to comment: "Gosh, you'd think that being 'liberal' was bad or something!"

Well, I don't know about most liberal, but the fact is that of the Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, only John Kerry and Barbara Boxer voted against Condi Rice. And Kerry's embarrassing performance during the hearings certainly puts him in a class with Boxer.

I agree with Kos: He would have been an "unmitigated disaster" as President. I hope the Democrats do better in 2008, because it would be bad for the country -- and, ultimately, the Republicans -- if they became as marginalized as the Tories have in Britain. And performances like this make me wonder if that's not in the cards.

UPDATE: Reader MacDef emails: "I'm no fan of Kos, but the above is not only taken out of context, it's also misquoted to the point of being dishonest."

No, it's tongue-in-cheek, as should have been obvious from the link. Er, and probably from the words "I agree with Kos . . . "

LANCE FRIZZELL IS PHOTOBLOGGING AMERICAN IMPERIALISM in Iraq.

OVER AT THE CORNER, John Hillen recommends Allen Drury's Advise and Consent as the classic guide to confirmation politics. Actually, though, I think it paints too sunny a picture . . . .

I don't generally blog confirmation fights, and I'm not making an exception here. But La Shawn Barber has a roundup for those who are interested.

ANDREW OLMSTED has a shiny new blog design, and some thoughts on hydrogen cars.

ANOTHER U.N. SCANDAL: "Besides getting to the bottom of the Oil-for-Food scandal, it is equally vital to get the U.N. to halt its backing of recognized international terrorist groups."

Seems reasonable to me.

BILL HOBBS HAS MORE INFORMATION on the Nashville Blog conference scheduled for May 5-7.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has a Sarah Boxer / IraqtheModel roundup.

I DIDN'T WATCH yesterday's Rice hearings. Other people, however, did.

SOME MEMORY PROBLEMS for Barbara Boxer.

AUSTIN BAY WRITES on the Iraqi elections: "The Iraqi people are going to deal the Middle East's ancien regime of tyrant and terrorist a devastating political and psychological defeat. Despite the campaign of chaos and intimidation, a recent poll in Baghdad found 60 to 70 percent of the capital's voters intend to vote. Kurdish and Iraqi Shia leaders predict a good turnout in their regions. Americans can barely manage a 50 percent voter turnout, and here, nobody lobs mortar rounds at the electorate."

UPDATE: Craig Henry: "How are the 'insurgents' in Iraq different from the KKK in Mississippi circa 1963? And aren't the nameless election workers who are dying everyday in Mosul and Baghdad heroes like Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner?"

Yes, and there were even people calling the Klansmen "patriots" and comparing them to the Minutemen.

THE BELMONT CLUB: "There are interesting points of contrast between Sarah Boxer's speculation on the affiliations and motives of the Iraq the Model bloggers and Associated Press' determination to protect the anonymity and refusal to judge the motives of a stringer who photographed the execution of Iraqi electoral workers at fairly close range on Haifa Street."

And read this post, too.

THIS WEEK'S Carnival of the Vanities is up. Branch out in your blog-reading!

JOE TRIPPI on the Kos/Teachout affair.

UPDATE: Jim Geraghty comments.

January 18, 2005

SWLIP WRITES THAT Bush's tort reform plan is a bad idea.

N.Z. BEAR: "When I telephoned a woman named Sarah Boxer in New York last week, I wondered who might answer. A DNC flack? A hack posing as a journalist? Someone paid by The New York Times to craft hatchet-jobs on Iraqis who dare to express thanks to America for deposing Saddam? Or simply a lazy writer with some confused ideas about fact-checking and objectivity? Until she picked up the phone, she was just a ghost on the page." Heh. Related post here.

PHOTOBLOGGING: SKBubba has some beautiful photos of the re-opened Tennessee Theater. James Lileks would approve.

UPDATE: Very different, but also nice, photoblogging.

A TENNESSEE BLOGGERCON: May 5-7. I plan to be there.

THOUGHTS ON ONLINE SHOPPING, from Asparagirl: "Bezos also says that online sales 'ultimately will be 10 to 15 percent of retail'. I may be an outlier value, being a young geeky webhead and an early technology adopter with disposable income and all that, but if Scott's and my buying patterns are anything to go by, we're researching and buying a hell of a lot more than 15% of our goods online, and have been for a long time now. If I had to estimate, I'd say we're up to at least 80-90% for things like DVD's and CD's, and starting just last year, I've almost completely stopped buying the latter in favor of tracks from iTunes."

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) offers a blogger celebrity deathmatch on Social Security reform, featuring Arnold Kling and Max Sawicky. (Via Arnold Kling).

UPDATE: John Weidner comments on the debate.

MUSICBLOGGING: I've been upgrading my studio setup a bit lately, and since people sometimes ask about it, here's what's going on. I've just ordered this little Mackie mixer, replacing this cheap little Behringer which doesn't suck, but which isn't great, either. (The Mackie also has XLR outs, which lets you use it as a sound mixer with a video camera that has XLR ins, which is useful.) I bought a "blem" model from Musician's Friend, which made it cheap (plus Musician's Friend gives you a decent discount if you're an ASCAP member, which I am). I don't care if it has scratches, since nobody but me sees it.

I've upgraded from Cool Edit Pro to its new version, Adobe Audition 1.5, which offers good CD burning and ReWire support -- and Adobe didn't screw up the user interface, which I was sort of worried about. I got a good discount at the UT bookstore, too. I'm still using Sonic Foundry Acid 4.0 as my loop-sequencing software; there's a newer version from Sony (which bought this chunk of Sonic Foundry a while back) but I can't see a reason to upgrade. Tell me if I'm wrong about that, if you've made the move and found it worthwhile.

Of course, what I really need is a gadget that will give me more free time. I'm still looking for that . . . .

UPDATE: Michael Ubaldi emails:

I was introduced to Cool Edit in 1996; I've owned CEP since 1999. It's a good thing the Syntrillium boys are still working for Adobe the last time I checked, since the audio industry's most intuitive, user-friendly PC producing application was made twice as good with an attentive, amicable company behind it.

For mixing, I've moved to Cakewalk's Sonar. The mixing engine gives me better sonic results, and some of Sonar 4's features (which include a lot of good ideas from CEP) are just out of this world. But I still use Audition for heavy-duty splicing and single-wave editing. Better noise/click/pop reduction cannot be found elsewhere.

RME Hammerfall sound card. Mixer is an Allen & Heath. But my nearfields are good old Mackies.

Free time. Eh, it was meant to be found, used and stretched.

I've kept the Alesis Monitor Zeros. Our "real" studio (ADAT-based, with a Studiomaster Trilogy mixer and Alesis Monitor Twos) is in Doug Weinstein's basement, but even Doug does most of his work on the computer now. My copy of Cubase runs on the computer there. I've never used it that much, now that I can host VST instruments elsewhere. It's a very powerful program, but I never liked its user interface.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Sean Neves emails:

Glen, I love the fact that you're looping audio, but Acid? Acid is so 2002. Really, there's an audio looping program to end all audio looping programs. It's name is Ableton Live (v4). It has full MIDI capabilities, but it's focus is definitely audio. You expressed frustration with the user interface of Cubase (I can relate, I use Nuendo for my scoring and multitracking). Live's interface is beatifull
and simple. Its' performance interface resembles an entire screen of tape transports. Hit the play button and you're in bidness. Much of preproduction that you're used to in Acid are now done automaticly by Live. The arrangement side is equally simple, but the strength of Live is it's performance capabilities, and it' quite robust. I've used it in dozens of live situations, with varying instrumentation, and it has never failed me (knock on wood). A few examples can be found on my site www.singerswapp.com (although the compression I've used sucks--to be fixed soon). Also, check my blog INFDL.blogspot.com. There will be plenty of musicblogging in the future, in addition to my usual pontification.

Yeah, that's me -- so 2002! I've thought of Ableton Live, which I hear is good, but I'm used to Acid and spending money for, and then learning, a new program to do more or less the same thing is more than I'm up for. Mark Rushton, apparently, feels the same:

I've been using Acid Pro 4.0 since the upgrade from 3.0 Pro came out a few years ago and found little reason to spend any money to upgrade to 5.0, despite all the extras and loops that were thrown in to the package.

I'm too busy being creative to worry about new bells and whistles.

I wasn't enticed by the Sound Forge Audio Studio 7 "mastering" software either. Maybe it's OK. I'm not a sound engineer with years of experience, so I'd rather send my tracks to a proper studio where professional ears can do the job.

So there you are.

MORE: Ed Driscoll -- who's a happy user of Sonar himself -- has much more on home recording. Here's more on Sonar, which I've never used but which I hear is pretty good. (It has the reputation in my circles of being less professional, somehow, than Cubase but I think that's probably just prejudice without any real basis). And some people wonder why I don't use the Mackie Spike instead of the mixer. Mainly because it's just a computer interface, while the mixer is a standalone mixer than can also do sound on video shoots; the mixer's also cheaper. It (the Spike) got a good review in Electronic Musician this month, though.

BOLLYWOOD BEATS OUT HOLLYWOOD with on-demand streaming of first-run movies on the Internet. (Via Slashdot).

CHRIS ANDERSON: "It is, of course, not news that the Japanese have a thing for robots. It is, however, getting worse. Way worse. Like robot overlord worse."

MORE ON SARAH BOXER AND IRAQTHEMODEL, over at GlennReynolds.com:

At the moment, the New York Times is in court, demanding constitutional protection for its sources. If they're exposed, it fears, they may suffer consequences that will make others less likely to come forward in the future. That, we're told, would be bad for America.

But the New York Times has no compunctions about putting the lives of pro-American and pro-democracy Iraqis at risk with baseless speculation even though the consequences they face are far worse than those that the Times' leakers have to fear. It seems to me that doing so is far worse for America.

When journalists ask me whether bloggers can live up to the ethical standards of Big Media, my response is: "How hard can that be?" Not very hard, judging by the Times' latest.

Not very hard at all.

POWER LINE:

Last month, in response to a piece by Thomas Friedman, Rocket Man wrote that there is a serious national debate going on but "the New York Times just isn't part of it, because it operates at too low a level of information to be useful to knowledgeable news consumers." This piece by the Times' Sarah Boxer about the Iraq the Model bloggers confirms Rocket Man's judgment. It also demonstrates both the bias and the stunning irresponsibility of the author.

Let's start with the Times' "low level of information" (commonly known as ignorance). As Jeff Jarvis notes, two of the Iraq the Model bloggers were in this country last month. They met with President Bush and even made it to New York where they were interviewed on WNYC. The visit was reported by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post and Dan Henninger in the Wall Street Journal, as well as by many major centrist and conservative blogs. Yet, Boxer treats the bloggers existence as a "mystery" that she discovered by searching the internet and selecting a blog that "promised three blogging brothers in one."

A miserable performance across the board.

UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun looks at Sarah Boxer's history and observes:

It isn't a mystery to me how Boxer was assigned to, or pumped for, this "Blogging" article in the Times. Having been in and around the editorial types at New York newspapers and magazines for decades, I can well imagine the editor's mindset when confronted with either Boxer's desire to write about this or the need of the Times' "Arts" section to get with it on 'the blogging thing.' Boxer is young, Boxer is "hip," Boxer must "get it." Except, of course, she doesn't, but the editors at the Times have no way of knowing that, because they get it even less.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Derek Rose offers a rejoinder that seems rather weak to me. He notes that the names of the IraqtheModel bloggers weren't secret. True, but open speculation that they're CIA agents -- and in the NYT, which terrorists in Iraq may still regard as trustworthy -- seems to make that a bit different, doesn't it?

He also can't resist a snarky link to Arthur Chrenkoff, together with a claim that Chrenkoff thinks everything's fine in Iraq, though Chrenkoff has explicitly disclaimed that. If this is the best defense the Times can claim, it's in real trouble. And I think it is.

Meanwhile, reader John Friedman notes that the Times looks bad no matter what:

Hasn't the Times either (a) outed two CIA operatives, implicating the Plame criminal issues or (b) if their suppositions are false, defamed the bloggers?

Surely in this great nation of litigators some one can make a case here!

We'll see.

And in case Iraqi terrorists miss the New York Times art section, the BBC has picked up the story.

Meanwhile, Richard Brookhiser faults Boxer on style: "Among other things, the Sarah Boxer piece on the Iraqi bloggers is notably jejeune--college newspaper level stuff." Ouch.

MICHAEL GOVE:

There is a particular point at which knowledge appears to end and a huge black hole begins. It seems to occur somewhere in the 1960s. The specific event beyond which most commentators now find it difficult to see is the Vietnam War.

It has become the dominant reference point for discussion of any current military campaign. The war to liberate Afghanistan had barely begun before sceptics were suggesting that a “Vietnam-style quagmire” loomed. And from the moment plans were laid to topple Saddam’s regime, cynics were certain that the Iraq war would lead, if not to Apocalypse Now, then to the quagmire to end all quagmires. . . .

The demand that we should learn from history makes sense. But, sadly, none of the comparisons so far drawn with Vietnam display a full sense of the nature of that conflict, or the one we face now.

Indeed. Though how the press treats the two sides seems to have stayed prety constant.

UPDATE: Jonah Goldberg looks at the direction of history:

Amid the media din about the tsunami, Dan Rather's implosion, and the usual grim news from Iraq, an amazing story has been unfolding — but has received scant appreciation from the chattering classes. Democracy is on the march.

The Ukraine election reversal is the most significant victory for democracy in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Palestinians have held the first legitimate nationwide (so to speak) election in their history (Arafat's previous "election" was a sham). And while the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, leaves much to be desired, his fair victory is significant and momentous in its own right.

Meanwhile, Iraq is preparing for its first fair elections since before Saddam Hussein came to power. Those elections won't be perfect. Heck, they may even be a disaster (though I doubt they will). But they are finally going to happen — and that very fact is amazing. . . .

The expansive, decent version of democracy will come to the Middle East and the rest of the world — eventually. If the Iraqi elections fail, even their failure will reinforce the desire for successful elections. Many complain that in Iraq the process is too bloody or too expensive, but these critics are determined to make the perfect the enemy of the good. At the end of the tunnel we, or our children, will look back on America's role as the catalyst for democracy, and we'll be proud that we were on the right side of history and its end.

And, just as with the Cold War, after the fact a lot of people will pretend to have been on the right side all along.

WHAT DO MEN WANT? Michele Catalano is asking. Cathy Young surveys people who are complaining. And Ann Althouse ponders.

UPDATE: Somehow, this post seems fitting.

ED CONE IS SPANKING THE NEW YORK TIMES -- and specifically reporter Sarah Boxer -- for dubious reporting in an article on Iraq the Model. Expect more of this kind of thing as the Iraqi elections approach.

I'll just note that the Times' standards for sourcing are, once again, shown to be much softer regarding stories that might hurt the war effort, or the Bush Administration, than they are when the story might hurt a Democratic candidate for President in a close election.

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis:

Sarah Boxer's story on IraqTheModel in today's New York Times Arts section is irresponsible, sloppy, lazy, inaccurate, incomplete, exploitive, biased, and -- worst of all -- dangerous, putting the lives of its subjects at risk. . . .

So here is a reporter from The New York Times -- let's repeat that, The New York Times -- speculating in print on whether an Iraqi citizen, whose only apparent weirdness and sin in her eyes is (a) publishing and (b) supporting America, is a CIA or Defense Department plant or an American.

Ms. Boxer, don't you think you could be putting the life of that person at risk with that kind of speculation? In your own story, you quote Ali -- one of the three blogging brothers who started IraqTheModel -- saying that "here some people would kill you for just writing to an American." And yet you go so much farther -- blithely, glibly speculating about this same man working for the CIA or the DoD -- to sex up your lead and get your story atop the front of the Arts section (I'm in the biz, Boxer, I know how the game is played).

How dare you? Have you no sense of responsibility? Have you no shame?

Not much. And they wonder why they've lost trust and respect.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Over at the blog of Spirit of America -- which, unlike Sarah Boxer, is engaged in day-to-day dealings with Iraqis in Iraq -- the article produces this reply from Jim Hake:

Here in the Southern California surfing community there is a tongue-in-cheek expression that applies to the article in question: "No brains, no headaches." Which, in this case, is the nicest way of saying we doubt that those behind the story will ever suffer any sort of discomfort. . . .

There are many, many Iraqis who are risking their lives working for freedom, democracy and peace in their country. They are struggling against the worst kind of enemy.

It's a shame that, in the case of the bloggers at Iraq the Model, the difficult work they are doing with Friends of Democracy gets no attention in the New York Times but quite a bit of ink is devoted to irresponsibly putting their lives at risk.

He's probably right that neither Ms. Boxer nor the New York Times will suffer so much as a pang of conscience over this affair. But I hope I'm wrong. Meanwhile, Tom Hazlewood emails: "Give the MSM credit for consistency in Iraq. When Saddam was in power, the MSM refused to tell us the truth about Iraq. Now that he's gone, they still refuse to tell the story of Iraq. That hasn't changed, at all." Faint praise. . . .

JOHN COLE'S SITE was down for a while, but it's back now. He was suckered by one of those "renewal" notices from Domain Registry of America. I get those, too. Jeez.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

WASHINGTON — An Iraqi-born American citizen will strike a plea deal with the Justice Department as part of the federal investigation into the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, officials at Justice told FOX News. . . .

In 2000, Vincent led Iraqi religious leaders on a tour of the United States to push for an end to sanctions against Iraq. Among the people the group met with was former President Jimmy Carter. Vincent worked with Rev. Billy Graham on that tour.

I wonder what kind of help he'll be giving investigators?

HEALTHCARE BLOGGING -- a rare feature at InstaPundit -- is well covered over at Grand Rounds. This week's installment is up, and it's exceedingly well-organized.

THE NEW DIETARY GUIDELINES GET A CHILLY REVIEW: "There's nothing 'sensible' about these guidelines. They're not just advising 'eat a healthful variety of foods, enjoy everything in moderation and get some activity each day that you enjoy.' It's a DIET -- and an extreme one at that -- masquerading as 'healthy eating.'"

On the one hand, there are a lot of fat people out there. On the other hand, diets don't usually work that well.

UPDATE: An alternative approach here: The Food Pentagram!

KITTY GENOVESE AND RWANDA: Michael Totten notes parallels.

THE SILENCE OF THE CHEESE: Ed Morrissey looks at election irregularities in Wisconsin and wonders why nobody cares.

UPDATE: Be sure the check the update on Ed's post, which may partially answer that question.

AXIS OF EVIL UPDATE: "The first known visual evidence of dissent within the world's most secretive state emerged yesterday when video footage taken in a North Korean factory showed a portrait of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, defaced with graffiti demanding freedom and democracy."

Let's hope that this is just the beginning.

A HOUSING BUBBLE? "Millions of Americans became stockholders in the late 1990s, just in time to experience the biggest bear market in a generation. Does the same fate await millions of first-time homeowners?" I don't think there's much of a bubble in Knoxville, where prices are pretty low. Elsewhere? Quite possibly. I suspect that it's a regional phenomenon.

January 17, 2005

NANOTECHNOLOGY and the spirit of '96. Rick Smalley says some interesting things about self-replication.

ROGER SIMON WONDERS if Seymour Hersh is being played. By somebody, certainly.

SOME USEFUL THOUGHTS ON JOURNALISM AND "DOING GOOD," from Amit Varma:

I'm one of those who takes the dharma of being a journalist seriously, believing that the vocation brings with it certain responsibilities – but I don't think activism is one of them. The practical argument for that is that if all journalists took up activism for the causes they believed in, the good ones would eventually have no time left to actually write. More importantly, I believe that the function journalists ideally perform, of providing information and insight, is too important to be diluted by anything.

If more journalists believed that their craft was that important, they'd be less willing to dilute it with efforts to shift opinion, wouldn't they?

UPDATE: Howard Owens comments.

ED MORRISSEY REVIEWS The Aviator. I haven't seen it, but lots of people seem to like it, despite agreeing that it has flaws.

UPDATE: Reader Doug Levene emails:

What struck me about the Aviator is that it's the first Hollywood movie I've seen in quite a while that portrayed a business man - a filthy rich, ruthless entrepreneur yet - as the hero, and the crusading, anti-war-profiteering, corruption-exposing Senator (who's painted as kind of a cross between Elliot Spitzer and Cong. Dingell) as the villain. Am I the only one to have noticed this peculiarity?

I haven't seen the movie. But here's an econoblogger's take on who the real heroes of the movie are.

ALPHECCA'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP OF GUN-RELATED BIAS IN THE MEDIA is up.

ISLAMIST MURDERS IN NEW JERSEY? Looks that way, though it's too early to be sure, and with a possible connection to the Lynne Stewart trial. I hope that this will get a very thorough investigation.

AN INTERESTING MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY REMEMBRANCE:

In September 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the eulogy for three of the four girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. What King could not know was that, within earshot of the blast, just blocks away at her father's church, was another little black girl, a friend of the youngest victim, who 42 years later would be on the verge of becoming America's foremost diplomat.

This year, the Martin Luther King holiday, marking what would have been his 76th birthday, falls on Jan. 17. The next day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens hearings on the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

It's a stunning juxtaposition that offers those who knew King, lived that history and ponder his legacy an opportunity to wonder: How might they explain Rice's rise to him? And what would he make of it?

She is, after all, the literal fulfillment of King's dream -- a woman judged not by the color of her skin but by the content of her character. She is also living proof that King's eulogy was prescient, that "these children -- unoffending, innocent and beautiful -- did not die in vain."

Indeed. (Via The Mad Parson).

SOME VERY NICE PHOTOS from Laos.

MARTIN LUTHER KING affects another life.

SLASHDOT READERS ponder the future of Internet news.

SLAVIC MILITARY HEROES: One in the Ukraine (via Bloggledygook), and one in Russia. Somebody should do something nice for them.

YES, some people have too much time on their hands.

HEH.

TIM BLAIR is back online.

UPDATE: Dang. Down again.

CHRISTINE HURT: "If you want a reminder of how far our society has come in the last 40 years, try explaining the impact of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement to a 5 1/2 year-old."

Read this post, too.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll sends this interesting link. Not so long ago.

MORE SCOOPS FROM SEYMOUR HERSH -- and a rather troubling disclosure regarding conflicts of interest and payola.

IF YOU'RE TRYING TO GENERATE INTERNET BUZZ, you could do worse than bill yourself as a "coffee-drinking, erotic cowgirl."

Mmmm. Coffee.

A UNITER, NOT A DIVIDER: Zephyr Teachout induces Bill Quick and Jeralynn Merritt to agree.

RATHERGATE UPDATE: The New York Times looks at the locked PDF file question. Meanwhile, John Podhoretz looks at the missing political bias, and Bill Kristol notes that quite a few unanswered questions remain.

ECONOBLOGARAMA: This week's Carnival of the Capitalists is up!

DARFUR UPDATE: Some people in New York City are celebrating Martin Luther King day with a rally at the U.N. to protest the genocide in Darfur, and the U.N.'s inaction, which seems quite appropriate to me. It's at 5 p.m.

HUGH HEWITT:

There is a Kennedy dynasty in Massachusetts and vast Kennedy affection in the Democratic Party and among liberal media. But there is no Kennedy dynasty in America, just an interesting family that wished for a dynasty and could never figure out that Jack's politics might have pulled it off, but never Teddy's.

Indeed.

WELL, SURE:

[T]he real interventionists and socialists at heart are the Americans, and that the real Canadian tradition is one of rugged individualism being slowly frittered away under the overwhelming influence of American collectivism.

But if people are saying this, it means that our disinformation agents at the CBC aren't doing their jobs.

I'VE BEEN CRITICAL OF HOMELAND SECURITY FOR SOME TIME: This report does nothing to increase my confidence: "In today's security-obsessed, post-9/11 era, one might think that it would be difficult to haul a convincing replica of an atomic bomb across the country. Not so, as John Coster-Mullen inadvertently proved in October 2004."

UPDATE: Famed blog-commenter Cecil Turner (well, he is) emails that I'm wrong:

In the first place, the logical method for terrorists employing a nuclear weapon is by placing one in a shipping container and detonating it in a US port. Hence the security arrangements should be oriented outward from the ports, not inward toward the highways. In the second, as articles like this one make clear, such devices are detected by scanning for their radioactive material--not by their realistic-looking cases. While I'd probably agree homeland security is less than impressive, this is not a good example.

I guess he's right, really. But still . . . .

TIM BLAIR EMAILS:

Apparently my site has been hacked -- all posts and archives removed, etc. Not sure yet if anything can be recovered.

Worse, I'm currently unable to post (password details have been corrupted) so would appreciate if any or all of you could alert readers.

More crushing of dissent. I blame John Ashcroft! Alberto Gonzales!

ONE OF THE THEMES OF MY TALK at Yale Law School's blog conference was that Cass Sunstein's theory of polarization and self-filtering, as spelled out in his book, Republic.com, didn't really apply to the blogosphere.

Now Jim Miller takes the argument further, and I have to say that it has gained force in the intervening two years. And -- as the Von Drehle piece on the red states that has engendered so much discussion in the blogosphere demonstrates -- you don't need technology to breed estrangement. Indeed, what Sunstein sees as "polarization" may really just be the end of a monopoly.

I do, however, disagree with Miller that any single blog -- and certainly not this one -- is a sufficient source of diversity. That's why I encourage people to branch out in their blog-reading.

UPDATE: This piece by Gordon Crovitz on how the Internet is revolutionizing things is a must-read.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here.

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF posts his regular roundup of underreported good news from Iraq, and observes:

It has been a mission of this fortnightly column, now in its 19th edition, to bring to readers' attention all that "gets overlooked if not ignored" in Iraq: the advancements of the political and civil society; the rebirth of freedom, economic growth and reconstruction progress; the generosity of foreigners and the positive role coalition troops play in rebuilding the country; and the usually unremarked-upon security successes.

Contrary to some critics, the intention has never been to whitewash the situation in Iraq or to downplay the negative. The violence, bloodshed, disappointments and frustrations are all there for everyone to see and read about in the "mainstream" media on a daily basis. Pointing out positive developments is not to deny the bad news, merely to provide a more complete picture. As voters faced with the defining foreign policy issue of the new millennium, we owe it to ourselves to be fully informed about the state of affairs in Iraq--and that means rebuilt hospitals as well as car bombs.

What follows is not the full picture of Iraq--merely that part of it you don't often see on the nightly news or the pages of newspapers.

And thanks to Arthur for doing it, and to the folks at the Wall Street Journal for giving a blogger such a big platform. And, if you haven't already, read this critique of the press coverage from a soldier in Iraq.

January 16, 2005

OPEN SOURCE IMAGE PROCESSING: "While ESA slowly releases images from Huygens, full collections of Huygens imagery have already been processed and refined well beyond anything ESA has done - and you can download them yourself."

huygenstitan.jpg

I HAVEN'T READ MALCOLM GLADWELL'S NEW BOOK, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, but here's a blog review by someone who has.

UPDATE: More reviews, by David Brooks and Richard Posner. (Via Oxblog).

ANOTHER UPDATE: More here from Ann Althouse.

DEVELOPERS ARE BUILDING UNDERGROUND extensively, but not paying enough attention to potential disasters. It usually takes a large, multiple-fatality accident to wake people up. I hope that's not true here, too.

UNSCAM UPDATE:

Kofi Annan was once known as the "Teflon secretary general" of the United Nations, because nothing bad seemed to stick to him. But that was then. These days, pretty much everything seems to be sticking to the 66-year-old Ghanaian diplomat.

For Annan, 2004 devolved into what he called an " annus horribilis ." No fewer than eight investigations were initiated into corruption allegations within the U.N.'s former "oil-for-food" program in Iraq. Among those stung by the allegations was Annan's son Kojo, who was paid by a Swiss firm that held a U.N. food contract. Some in Congress called on Annan to resign. At the same time, tensions with President Bush grew over the U.N.'s reluctance to play a larger role in Iraq and over U.S. assertions that Annan was meddling in American politics. U.N. diplomats felt Bush allowed Annan to twist in the wind before reaffirming administration support in December. U.N. peacekeepers in Congo, meanwhile, were accused of raping young women. And back at headquarters, U.N. staffers were enraged over Annan's purportedly dismissive handling of misconduct allegations against his senior aides.

He's under fire for his handling of the tsunami, too. And don't miss this story on UNScam, claiming that it's about to come to a boil.

BUSH: Not that interested in the Federal Marriage Amendment.

I hate to say "I told you so," but -- Oh, who am I kidding? Like every other blogger, I love to say "I told you so!" -- well, I did:

William Kelly objects that Bush's support for the Federal Marriage Amendment isn't "vague." He's right. A better term would be "lukewarm." He's said he's for it, but he hasn't exactly pushed it. Kind of like, to pick one of my issues, his support for a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban, which was equally pro forma. In both cases, I think he's wrong, and he's pandering -- to different constituencies, of course -- but it's awfully weak pandering, and thus not worth getting too excited about.

And so it is, and so it was.

UPDATE: Rand Simberg is doing the I-told-you-so dance on the assault weapons ban.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On the other hand, a contrary view here: "I just see it as waiting for the right time."

I HOPE THAT THIS IS TRUE:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets, The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday.

The article, by award-winning reporter Seymour Hersh, said the secret missions have been going on at least since last summer with the goal of identifying target information for three dozen or more suspected sites.

On the other hand, the source is somewhat dubious.

UPDATE: Charles Johnson:

I’m no longer surprised that journalists lack an internal regulatory mechanism (sometimes called “ethics” or another quaint old-fashioned term that no longer applies, “patriotism”) to prevent the release of information that could damage their own country. On the contrary, they actively search for that information and release it with great relish.

But it’s discouraging that our government apparently lacks the will to prosecute leaks like this as some form of treason or sedition. Hersh is only doing what a mainstream journalist in the 21st century does—feeding off the bottom—but the ones who are really to blame are the consultants and intelligence officials who talk to him.

Indeed. And where is the journalistic outrage that accompanied the Plame story?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Forget outrage, writes reader Matt Whitney: "Where are the prosecutions?"

SOME EXCELLENT PHOTOS FROM AFGHANISTAN, by photographers Keirón Allen and Rupert Edis.

LANCE FRIZZELL: "Just in case anyone from the UN is reading, here's what helping people looks like."

TIM "DON'T HATE ME BECAUSE I'M BEAUTIFUL" BLAIR offers an amusing critique of David Von Drehle's redstate report. It's not quite Lileks' Olive Garden Fisking (what is?) but it's pretty funny.

And, really, take a look at this picture: could anyone hate Tim because he's beautiful?

UPDATE: Patrick Ruffini has more thoughts on the Von Drehle piece, in a more serious vein.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Michael Sullivan sends a lengthy email. Click "read more" to read it. And there are more comments here, from Ginny.

Read More ?


BILL QUICK pronounces his group-blog conversion a success. I liked InstaPundit's group-blog interval, too, though reader reaction was mixed.

UNSCAM UPDATE: According to U.S. News, the oil-for-food scandal is "about to come to full boil."

MY COLLEAGUE JOAN HEMINWAY is guest-blogging over at The Conglomerate.

Hey, she's not just my colleague -- she's Bainbridge-approved!

MUSIC UPDATE: A while back, I mentioned that I didn't like Joey Kingpin's Stereo Thriller as much as his earlier album A Beat Down in Hell Town. But I have to say that I've had 'em both on the iPod (they're good workout tunes) and while I don't like A Beat Down any less, I've come to like Stereo Thriller a lot more. Maybe it's the headphones.

DAVID HOGBERG writes that Social Security reform is a done deal. "Am I being too bold in my prediction? Maybe. But when your recent track record is so damn good, you can afford to be."

He's certainly laid down a marker.

HERE'S A REPORT from the comfy-chair revolution's fast-moving front lines:

Co-founded by graphic designer Mike Matas and programmer Wil Shipley, the company's first title, Delicious Library, was launched in November 2004. It generated $250,000 worth of sales in its first month, and the company has a crowded, popular booth here at Macworld.

But its four main employees meet every day at the popular Zoka coffee shop in Seattle's university district.

"It's cheap rent and a fun environment," said Matas. "We go down there every day with our laptops and work. It's an incredible place. They have two or three of the top baristas in the country (the awards are on the wall). We pay our rent by buying coffee.... They love us. We're some of their best customers."

As well as creamy lattes, the coffee shop offers wireless internet access and big, bench-like tables that several people can gather around. Often, Delicious Monster's entire seven-person staff will work there.

There's a lot of this going on, I think.

UPDATE: Greg Piper notes that the revolution has its costs. Hey, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs!

11505dbd.jpg

HEH. Indeed.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, RatherBiased.com has a transcript and video of the Saturday Night Live skit lampooning Dan Rather.

LAW PROFESSOR KENNETH ANDERSON writes that The Washington Post doesn't understand the Geneva Conventions, and says that the Post makes a crucial error in today's editorial:

My guess is that the editorial writers have never actually read the relevant article of the conventions, but instead have simply relied on press releases from various rights groups that tell the WaPo what it wants to hear. . . .

The point, then, is that the Post editorial repeats a error oft-heard across MSM, that by failing to provide individualized hearings, the US is in violation of the Geneva Conventions. As a policy matter, and indeed as a matter of basic fairness, it should do so. As a matter of international law, that, I'm afraid, amounts to a MSM urban legend.

I can't say I find this surprising. Anderson is quite critical of the Bush Administration's stance as a matter of policy, but notes that it is nonetheless not a violation. In too many minds, however, the Conventions are simply a wish-fulfillment tool, or a slogan.

UPDATE: Read this post, too.

JOHN COLE: "A much as it pains me to say this, I think that Kos and company are not being treated fairly regarding this Dean payment nonsense."

UPDATE: Chris Nolan has more thoughts on what's going on.

HERE'S A ROUNDUP OF EDUCATION-BLOGGERS. That's a topic that I don't address much, but it's important nonetheless. Hey, I can't cover everything!

And Mickey Kaus notes some interesting education developments in California, linking this column by Susan Estrich.

AS LONGTIME READERS KNOW, I'm a huge fan of Gilligan's Island. (The real Gilligan's Island, that is, though I honor the latter-day imitators appropriately). But it seems to me that Mr. Sun has veered off into obsession.

THE NEW TIME POLL has some good news for Bush:

President Bush’s approval rating has risen to 53%, according to the latest TIME poll conducted January 12 and 13. His approval rating is up 4 points from his Dec. 13-14 approval rating of 49%. The President’s approval numbers have improved across a variety of issues, including his handling of the economy (51% approve, up from 40% approve in September), his handling of the situation in Iraq (45% approve, up from 41% approval in September), and his handling of the war on terrorism (56% approve, up from 49% in September).

Numbers on Social Security reform, however, are not as good: "When asked if they favor President Bush’s plan to allow people to invest part of their social security payroll tax in stocks and bonds, 47% oppose the plan while 44% support it." Then again, these may well be high by historical standards.

Meanwhile, Jason van Steenwyk notes a poll that hasn't gotten much attention -- an Army Times poll of the troops:

The Army Times has published the results of the latest survey of Army Times subscribers, more than 2/3rds of whom are on active duty.

Here are the highlights:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Pres. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq?

Approve: 63%
Disapprove: 20%
No opinion: 8%
Declined to answer: 9%

Notably, Bush's approval ratings on the war have increased substantially among this group, rising from 56% in 2003 to 63% in 2004.

Apparently, they think things are going better than the news reports would have us believe. Jason also notes that almost nobody reported this poll.

UPDATE: Matt Rustler is critical of the Army Times poll, but I suspect that it would have gotten more attention had it gone the other way.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Trent Telenko has more thoughts on the Army Times poll, and on war reporting generally.

MORE: Jason van Steenwyk responds to Rustler, noting that the survey results match a broader Annenberg study, and observes:

One can kvetch about the methodology. But there's no getting around the yawning chasm between the way the war is perceived by those fighting it and those watching it on TV.

It does seem that way.

SOME INTERESTING demographic debunking.

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