Archive for April, 2002

April 30, 2002

LAMAR ALEXANDER’S POLITICAL CAREER may be in trouble now that someone has pointed out his resemblance to Pat Boone.

April 30, 2002

THE GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH– a cultural universal?

April 30, 2002

HERE’S A HOMESCHOOL BLOG with an, er, insider’s view of the process.

April 30, 2002

DAVID NIEPORENT points out that Eugene Volokh has yet another accurate Supreme Court prediction to add to his record. Advantage: Volokh! And Nieropent, for pointing this out.

April 30, 2002

“VELVET CONSERVATISM” — An article on New York Sun and New Republic owner Roger Hertog from The American Prospect. I don’t know how accurate it is, since I know nothing about the guy, but it certainly seems fair.

The best quote in the piece, though, is from Sun Editor-in-Chief Seth Lipsky:

“The right wing of the Democratic Party,” Lipsky told me recently, “is a depressed stock.”

That’s certainly true, and God knows I hear it from Tennessee Democrats all the time.

April 30, 2002

WAS THE BACHELOR RIGGED? Alex Rubalcava says it was, and it looks like he’s got the goods.

April 30, 2002

THAT’S MISTER YUPPIE SCUM, TO YOU: According to this article, gentrification may be good for neighborhoods, and even for the poor people who live in them. The reduction in crime and improvement in amenities have something to do with it:

“Low-income households actually seem less likely to move from gentrifying neighborhoods than from other communities,” said a recent report by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a New York nonprofit organization that analyzed demographic shifts in the city over the last few years.

If low-income residents remain in gentrifying areas, then they can enjoy the community improvement that gentrification generally brings. . . . “I really didn’t find any evidence that it did push poor people out,” Vigdor says of his study of demographic changes in gentrifying neighborhoods in Boston. “In fact I found a good amount of evidence that they’re more likely to stick around.”

Even though rents go up in gentrifying neighborhoods, Vigdor found long-term residents wanted to stay to enjoy the better environment for children, the increased local services, and the possibility of new jobs in the area.

“Basically you’ve got two factors,” says Braconi. “You’ve got rents maybe increasing — that makes it harder for poor people to stay — by the same token gentrification brings with it a lot of community improvement.”

Wow. Who’d've thought that poor people might actually benefit when their neighborhoods get better?

April 30, 2002

A WORD FOR OUR TIMES.

April 30, 2002

THIS POST BY RAMESH PONNURU over at The Corner is, as far as I know, the first use of the term “Idiotarian” by a professional journalist.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Hankamer writes: “Now if only there was an Idiotarian Party. I can see it now: ‘Vote Idiotarian – It’s Easier Than Thinking.’”

Actually, Mike, sometimes I think we have two of those.

April 30, 2002

CLONING UPDATE: Reader James Taranto sends a link to this Slate article on Hatch, LDS theology, and stem cells.

April 30, 2002

THE MULLAHS’ GRIP IS LOOSENING in Iran, in this very interesting story from ABC. (Via Clueless). Keep those Britney Spears videos on the air — they’re obviously weakening:

The 15-year-old girl trying out her new in-line skates in central Tehran also was making a bold fashion statement: jeans, a bulky sweater rolled up to her elbows and a bright orange head scarf barely hanging on to her hair.

Yet her outfit drew no special attention part of a quiet, but potentially momentous, test under way in Iran.

Almost daily, new boundaries are being defined for the “hijab,” the Muslim dress code for women enforced since the Islamic revolution 23 years ago.

Coming soon: a Barbie airdrop!

April 30, 2002

STEVE at HappyFunPundit has the email address for the PR firm behind the Saudis’ TV ads. He’s suggesting that people express their sentiments about making pro-Saudi advertisements.

April 30, 2002

READER ALEX BENSKY writes about the epidemic of “public health” studies relating to guns:

Why wouldn’t medical people have special insight into gun control, given that misuse of guns leads to health problems?

As a baseball fan, therefore, I have special insight into nuclear weapons programs, because an all-out nuclear attack on the U.S. might lead to an interruption in the American League schedule. As a matter of fact, I have direct insight, because I’ve got tickets to a Red Sox game in June.

And my friend the realtor has special insight into nuclear warfare because nuclear war would, after all, destroy real estate and reduce the value of what’s left. Maybe he could form a group called Realtors for Social Responsibility.

Why the hell not?

April 30, 2002

EMILY JONES is unimpressed by peace protesters.

April 30, 2002

STEPHEN GREEN says he doesn’t trust Bill Kristol.

April 30, 2002

MARTIN ROTH now has a more comprehensive list of Christian blogs.

April 30, 2002

LOS ANGELES IS THE ROME OF THE 21ST CENTURY, according to Ken Layne. So what’s the Athens?

Knoxville, of course, is the Sybaris of the 21st century.

April 30, 2002

ANOTHER major public-health study will be released tomorrow.

April 30, 2002

MORE ON CLONING: I’ve said it before, but it’s worth pointing out again that Congress’s enumerated powers don’t extend to a ban on cloning anyway. Such matters don’t concern big-government conservatives (if that’s a meaningful term) like Kristol, but this ought to give pause to more principled conservatives who believe that the Constitution actually means something.

April 30, 2002

CLONING UPDATE: Orrin Hatch is supporting cloning. Well, therapeutic cloning — he wants to outlaw human cloning. Still, that puts him on the opposite side of this legislative from Kristol, who supports the Brownback/Landrieu bill that would ban therapeutic cloning, too. I didn’t notice it at the time, but Gerald Ford took the same position last week.

April 30, 2002

CHARLES JOHNSON comments on David Tell’s article about the U.N.’s obsession with Israel. Johnson hits the nail on the head: “In a sane world, the United Nations itself would be investigated.”

April 30, 2002

JUST HEARD A REALLY TERRIFIC STORY on space tourism on NPR. It was first-rate, with interviews from people in the space community who really get it, and who did a good job of explaining why it’s important.

April 30, 2002

BILL KRISTOL’S ANTI-CLONING GANG has its own commercial in response to the Harry and Louise pro-cloning ads. Too bad it’s basically full of lies.

Too harsh? Well, it says that the anti-cloning bill won’t ban life-saving research. But it will.

It says “some biotech companies will do anything to make a buck” — a faux-populism worthy of John Edwards and the Trial Lawyers.

It portrays real, human clones as walking around now because of cloning research (they’re not) — and suggests that if they existed they’d be patented, and hence owned, by big pharmaceutical companies, presumably leading to armies of subhuman cloned slaves. That’s not true.

This is Shrum-like in its dishonesty.

UPDATE: Reader Dave Murray writes:

Of course, the deeper hypocrisy of the Kristol ad is its explicit claim that those rascally corporations need to be reined in, or God only knows what they’ll do in their mad pursuit of profit, coming as it does from a right wing that has for years preached free market economics. I guess this means that I should expect to see Kristol at the next anti-globo rally, carrying a disfigured papier-mache puppet and condemning corporate greed, huh?

Well, that’s where they’re headed, based on this commercial. Though Kristol has never been much of a fan of free market economics. He likes big government — he just wants it to be his kind of big government.

April 30, 2002

HEY, THE CAIR WEBSITE IS DOWN. The reader who calls my attention to it asks: Could it have anything to do with this story on FoxNews?

Probably not. But stay tuned.

UPDATE: It’s back. Hey, it’s not like my site ever goes down. . . .

April 30, 2002

HEY, I ALMOST FORGOT: InstaPundit is site of the month over at Enter Stage Right, though they correctly report that I am not a conservative, but a Whig.

Does that count as right-wing? Who knows, anymore?

UPDATE: Reader Tyler Boswell writes: “The Whig party, huh? So that explains your hair in the pic.” Ouch. No, for better or worse, that’s all mine.

April 30, 2002

MICKEY KAUS is ahead of the curve on the John-Edward-backlash front. (“Who?” you may ask. “I am asking!” And well you may.) Kaus has the skinny in a piece long enough that I’m surprised it didn’t run in Slate. Maybe Jacob Weisberg’s a closet Edwards fan?

April 30, 2002

TAPPED, the American Prospect’s in-house blog, now has a stable URL so that you don’t have to go hunting around for it. Check it out — and scroll down to note TAPPED’s response to the Max Power porn-star incident.

April 30, 2002

SALON SEXWATCH — SPECIAL NOSTALGIA EDITION: Okay, I quit doing this feature a few months back because (1) I got sick of reading the lame Salon sex-advice column in search of actual sex; and (2) everyone knew about Rachael Klein’s column anyway, and I figured interested parties could go there on their own.

But a reader wrote to say that there’s actual sex in today’s Salon column. Well, kinda: there’s some advice how to kiss a woman, anyway, and later on some advice on how to avoid losing your erection. For the Salon column, that’s big progress. But it doesn’t really hold an, er, candle to Rachael Klein’s column on how to bring a woman to orgasm. Advantage: Klein. Some things never change.

April 30, 2002

CHRIS BERTRAM suggests that it’s kind of hard to be an anti-globalization, anti-bourgeois Marxist. If, that is, you’ve actually read Marx.

The problem isn’t that the far right is adopting leftist themes, but that the left, still as hostile to capitalism as ever but lacking a clearly articulated modernist alternative of its own since the failure of the Soviet experience and the Hayekian critique of central planning, has been drawn into adopting traditionally reactionary and conservative positions and a celebration of the very “idiocy of rural life” that Marx condemned. That doesn’t mean that we should be passive in the face of environmental destruction, but it does mean that we should think harder about how to combine a modern urban and diverse civilisation with greater social justice.

Yeah. But “thinking harder” isn’t a hallmark of the antiglobalization movement, is it?

April 30, 2002

MORE ON BELLESILES: There was actually another letter in the Emory Wheel today defending Bellesiles, also from a psychology professor who is affiliated with the Violence Studies program that Bellesiles founded. (Here’s a link to the Violence Studies faculty page). Unlike the letter from Patricia Brennan, mentioned below, this letter is entirely sensible: it doesn’t compare Bellesiles to an anti-lynching activist from 1902, and it doesn’t attempt to defend his work; it merely says that Bellesiles is entitled to keep his job until the University has investigated and come to a conclusion about whether he’s guilty of fraud.

April 30, 2002

JUST A THOUGHT: Maybe Israel should send some investigators to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone to investigate claims of rape and child abuse by U.N. empoyees.

April 30, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: A letter in the Emory Wheel from Emory psychology professor Patricia Brennan suggests that Michael Bellesiles is the victim of a political witchhunt (she actually compares Bellesiles to an anti-lynching campaigner in the Old South), and says that Emory should be supporting him. Brennan asks some questions: “Exactly how many errors were found in Bellesiles’ work? Is this a large number of errors in light of the number of data points that he has provided? How many other books and research projects would fare better than Bellesiles’ when met with the same level of scrutiny? Where, and from whom, did this campaign against Bellesiles originate? Could this attack have been politically motivated?”

A response from Clayton Cramer (scroll down and click on the link) answers these questions: (1) Hundreds and hundreds; (2) Yes; (3) Nearly all of them; (4) from Clayton Cramer. The best part of Cramer’s response is this:

If this isn’t fraud, then it is presents an interesting opportunity for the psychology department to examine Professor Bellesiles, and explain about how someone with such a severe reading disability managed to earn a Ph.D. in History from University of California, Irvine, then become a full professor at Emory, without this serious reading disability being noticed.

Another reader, Don Williams, writes:

If Brennan is looking for a covert agent of the NRA, she might look at Bellesiles –he has made fools of our country’s gun control intelligentsia. The NRA could never have accomplished so much.

And he’s got a point. Note that Cramer and Williams both provide numerous links to support their positions — Cramer even links to a page showing actual copies of the original documents that Bellesiles misrepresents. Bellesiles’ defender Brennan does not provide any similar support, but merely spins conspiracy theories. Typical, I’m afraid.

UPDATE: Judging by this webpage, Prof. Brennan appears to be affiliated with the Violence Studies program that Bellesiles founded with the help of anti-gun scholar Arthur Kellerman. Her call for support is thus not exactly selfless.

April 30, 2002

HOWARD ANGLIN reports on the New York Sun’s front page today. Since you can’t get the Sun on the web yet, his regular posts are as close as you can come.

April 30, 2002

THOR VS. SPIDERMAN: With auxiliary insights into the worlds of religion, journalism, law, and politics. All courtesy of James Lileks.

April 30, 2002

SPEAKING OF WOMEN AND GUNS, Wendy McElroy takes on another bogus public-health study on guns. I’m sorry, but these guys should either start looking at actual public health issues, like anthrax, AIDS, or smallpox, or they should just go out of business. The junk science coming out of the public health community has gotten more and more atrocious, and more and more obvious in its political biases, over the past couple of decades — and the result is that these guys won’t have credibility even when they’re telling the truth, and when we need to hear what they’re saying. Er, if such a time ever comes.

UPDATE: Say, it’s worth noting that one of the stars of “violence studies” is none other than Michael Bellesiles, who, as this article in Salon reports,

came up with the idea of violence studies four years ago, “over a bottle of wine” with Arthur Kellerman, head of emergency medicine at Emory’s medical school. As Bellesiles recalls, “We were having dinner one night and fantasizing about what a perfect program for undergraduates would look like.” . . . The 3-year-old Emory curriculum has become a model for other universities.

Bellesiles, it appears, has an active fantasy life. Kellerman, it’s worth noting, is the author of what might be regarded as the seminal fatuous and misleading public-health study on guns, a long-debunked piece that gave rise to to the oft repeated (but false) factoid that “a gun owner is 43 times more likely to kill a family member than an intruder.” Steven Milloy has a recent FoxNews piece that brings readers up to date on the many abuses of “public health research” in pursuit of a gun-control agenda.

UPDATE: Turns out Fritz Schranck was ahead of the curve in criticizing this study. I hadn’t seen his post until someone pointed it out — I don’t actually read all the weblogs every day, despite what it seems like (even, sometimes, to me).

April 30, 2002

ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, a lot more women are taking up shooting. Couple this with the growth of women interested in the militiary (which the Washington Post has covered recently) and I think you’ve got the beginnings of a major cultural shift. Hmm. Where have I heard that before?

April 30, 2002

SET THE WAYBACK MACHINE FOR SEPTEMBER: You can see the posts via my archives, of course, but if you go here you can see InstaPundit in all its pre-redesign, uh, splendor.

April 30, 2002

OKAY, as a parent I understand — better in some ways than non-parents — why deciding not to have kids is a reasonable thing. But those “childfree” list folks just seem like a bunch of wackos. As Katie Granju writes: “Please note that these people are not just folks who have decided not to have kids. They are also not people who simply prefer adult company and become annoyed when parents allow their children to bother other people in public places. They are people who HATE children and amuse themselves by spending their time posting disgusting, often-violent fantasies of what they would like to do to babies and kids on their newsgroup.” Well, that’s free speech. But so is calling them wackos.

April 30, 2002

THE POWER OF INSTAPUNDIT: Forget all the linkage stuff from Eric Olsen and Max Power. One permalink and Media Minded has to come out of retirement. Yes, it was part of the Vast Blogging Conspiracy. Buwhahaha!

April 30, 2002

BLAME AMERICA! Naturally, that’s been the first instinct of a lot of people writing about last week’s school shooting in Germany. But here’s a particularly dumb example by an American who used to live in East Germany. The problem, you see, is the absence of the “cradle to grave care and oversight” that the communist East German government provided.

Well, it was comprehensive. They even helped you along with the “grave” part, if you caused them any trouble, or tried to leave. And say what you will, the Stasi was damned good at “oversight.”

April 30, 2002

ANDREW HOFER has a bunch of links for those interested in the Scientific American / Bjorn Lomborg debate.

April 30, 2002

TV COMMERCIALS ARE OLD HAT: Now it’s campaign videogames. Jesse Ventura’s the pioneer, but I like the Al Gore one the best.

UPDATE: Oliver Willis has some political videogames of his own, though the Ari Fleischer game sounds a bit familiar.

April 30, 2002

NEWSPAPER EXCEPTIONALISM: They got an exemption from campaign-finance laws, now they want an exemption from telemarketing regulations. Newspapers: They think they’re better than you.

April 30, 2002

DESMOND TUTU UPDATE: Alex Bensky writes from Detroit:

Desmond Tutu was here some years ago. His speech was abundantly and fawningly covered by the local media. A substantial portion of it was the usual Israel-bashing, which I’m sorry to say went down well with the mostly black audience.

At the press conference following the speech a reporter did something quite outrageous and asked Tutu a hard question, namely why he was holding the Israelis to such a high standard. His response was that, “We expect more from the Jews because they have been opporessed.”

I did not notice, then or later, that he asked higher standards of his own people, even though Bishop Tutu’s stock in trade is that he represents oppressed people. I can’t imagine why he would take this approach.

Ah yes, the moral superiority that comes from oppression. It has not been empirically demonstrated, in South Africa or elsewhere.

April 30, 2002

STEVEN DEN BESTE has an interesting series of posts (it starts here) on the transition from non-zero-sum to zero-sum competitions. He manages to tie together everything from the Burgess Shales to World War III, but unaccountably fails to discuss the implications for weblogs, which are currently still in the non-zero-sum phase but which will transition out of it soon enough.

April 30, 2002

MICHAEL BARONE says it’s rope-a-dope, and it’s working:

But these predictions ring hollow. The complaints show the weakness, not the strength, of the Saudis and of the Near East Bureau of the State Department, which so often takes up their cause. The accounts of the Bush-Abdullah meeting are very strong evidence that the president ignored the leakers’ counsel and kept to his course of opposing Palestinian terrorism and supporting Israeli resistance to it. . . .

Also, Abdullah did not leave Texas in a huff, and it doesn’t seem likely he’ll call an Islamic summit. Militarily the Saudis have little leverage. Their own armed forces are derisory, and the United States has shown in its campaign against Afghanistan that it can proceed without using its bases in Saudi Arabia. The U.S. can do the same against Iraq. We have forces in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Turkey, and evidently have been transferring troops and facilities out of Saudi Arabia and into other countries. The bitterness of the Saudis’ complaints in the Times shows not that they are strong and we are at their mercy but that they are weak and we are positioned to do what we wish.

You hear from the State Department and various Arab sources that Israel’s attempts to stamp out the terrorist network in the West Bank will just produce more terrorism. But the real fear, among the Arabs at least, is that Israel’s tough response will prove as effective in the medium and long term as it has in the short term. The Arabs are afraid that the Palestinians are losing their terror war and that Israel will be able to go along living in peace, without pressure to make concessions to Palestinians.

One disturbing — though not surprising — quote in Barone’s column comes from a State Department Arabist who says “we’re getting hammered” by the Arabs over our policies. What he means by this is that Arab diplomats are acting unhappy. This suggests that the State Department thinks its role is to get people to say nice things to State Department officials.

The State Department’s role, of course, is to get other countries to do what we want, without the need for going to war. At least, not usually: the Marines, after all, used to be called “State Department Troops.” Would that we had a State Department that understood its role similarly today.

April 30, 2002

NOW THIS IS JUST PATHETIC. Get a grip on yourself, man!

April 30, 2002

MATTHEW HOY has, ahem, “obtained” an advance copy of the CAIR report on Muslim civil rights in America. He has his comments and excerpts on his site.

April 30, 2002

PRIORITIES: Okay, while some people are whinging about the color of other people’s husbands and wives, something far more serious has happened. Ur-blogger Robert X. Cringely says he has lost a son to SIDS. He has a post on it, and a request for help. Go there.

UPDATE: Reader Katherine Snyder sends this link to the SIDS Alliance homepage. She adds: “I lost my son Jamie to SIDS 16 years ago, and if it weren’t for the wonderful people at the SIDS Alliance here in my hometown, I would never have gotten through that terrible time.”

April 30, 2002

OKAY, OKAY: A couple more on the interracial marriage thing and then I’m quits with it for a while — it’s taking over the page! Reader Kevin Maguire quotes an earlier reader who wrote that interracial marriages are becoming the norm in Hawaii and California:

He’s right about California.

I’m an American with Irish roots married to a Mexican. My wife’s sister is married to a white Jewish guy. Among our friends we have:

- Mexican guy married to a Chinese woman

- Indian woman married to a white guy

- Filipina woman married to a Portugese white guy. One of her
sisters is married to a white guy with Irish roots; the other
is married to a Irish/American Indian dude.

- Filipina dating a white guy and a black guy. Her previous
boyfriend was Moroccan.

- Irish guy married to a Hawaiian woman

- an Italian guy married to a black woman

- a Puerto Rican guy married to a white woman

Reaching out to coworkers I find:

- white guy, Chinese wife

- Hawaiian girl partnered to a white girl

- black girl partnered to a white girl

- white guy, Japanese wife

- Japanese guy, white wife

Written down like that it sounds like a mini UN, but it’s just everyday life in Los Angeles. Finally, a friend of a friend is the future of the California Republican party. Check out the picture.

But it’s not just California: my sister is married to a Filipino guy (whose brother is married to another white girl), and my grad school roommate is a white Spaniard whose wife is a black lawyer soon to enter Jersey City politics.

Yes, you see rather a lot of it here in Knoxville, which is far from L.A. or Honolulu. Knoxville is much-beloved of market researchers because its demographics approximate those of the nation as a whole, and interracial couples are everywhere — not, as a previous writer suggested, just around the University campus. Reader Timothy Sheridon writes:

The comment “Intelligent people seldom marry outside their race because it makes very little sense to do so.” from your e-mailer, is one of the most bizarre statements I’ve seen in a while. My experience from working and living in the Citadel of Geekdom, Silicon Valley, is that interracial marriage of smart people is becoming, if not the norm, a norm. The last six marriage ceremonies I’ve been a guest at involved mixed couples. Most of the newlyweds had at least one spouse who was a engineer. The next marriage I’m scheduled to attend is for an interracial couple that are both engineers. Of all the typical attributes engineers may have, high intelligence is one that is rarely absent.

As an aside, I must give you credit from even touching this issue. I sure your e-mail firestorm has been interesting.

Yeah, interesting — and voluminous. I’m frankly surprised that this is such a hot-button issue.

Of course, one thing that changes are people’s definitions of what’s white and what’s not. Irish/Italian marriages were considered mixed marriages not long ago, and not long before that Irish and Italians weren’t really considered “white” at all. I wouldn’t count as “white” under the Virginia anti-miscegenation statute struck down by the Supreme Court in the wonderfully-named case of Loving v. Virginia, since I’m one-eighth Native American (there was an exception, I seem to recall, for “descendants of Pocahontas,” who were honorary white people by law, but that wouldn’t apply to me). Personally, it’s just no big deal to me.

The most disturbing email I’ve gotten — of which I haven’t posted any — suggests that people only marry across racial lines for exotic sex kicks. Having engaged in my share of miscegenation when I was single, I have to say that that was neither the motive nor (any more than usual) the result, and I have to worry deeply about the psyches of people who think otherwise. Interestingly, most of that email came from people who identified themselves (since it’s the Internet, I can’t tell, of course) as minority women. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but I don’t think it’s anything good. I suppose that such a motivation wouldn’t make for an especially good marriage. But, heck, people who marry purely for exotic sex kicks — and people do in all sorts of ways — aren’t likely to have a successful long-term relationship regardless.

One thing that is clear about interracial marriage, and even dating to a lesser degree, is that it totally screws up the worldview of those who want to divide things into an us-vs.-them dynamic. To me, that’s a good thing. But then I don’t obtain my living, or my self-esteem, by fomenting racial division.

Okay, enough on this. Back to our regularly scheduled program of snide remarks about Fritz Hollings and Michael Moore.

April 30, 2002

INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE UPDATE: Boy, the email’s just pouring in on this one. Charles Oliver responds to an earlier emailer:

The writer who said he can’t think of any famous couples consisting of a white man and a black woman has to be blind or he just refuses to see things that don’t fit his worldview.: David Bowie-Iman, Diahann Carroll-Vic Damone, Lena Horne-Lennie Hayton, William Cohen-Janet Langhart, Mariah Carey-Tommy Mottola, Robert DeNiro and every woman he’s has every dated, Naomi Campbell and most of the men she has dated. Matthew McCougnehey-Janet Jackson, Robin Givens-Svetozar Marinkovic, Roxie Roker-sy Krazitz (she was on The Jeffersons and they are the parents of Lenny Kravitz), Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson and Frank Langella, Diana Ross-Gene Simmons (I believe both of her husbands were white as well), Traci (first black on Baywatch) Bingham and her husband.

There’s certainly a lot more. Those are just the ones I thought of off the top of my head.

Yeah, though I have a few quibbles: David Bowie (as another reader noted) might plausibly be considered a “white alien” — and as for Mariah Carey, well, she’s black only by courtesy of a rather strict application of the “one drop” rule. Which brings me to a story:

My brother, who looks like a taller, skinnier version of me, was once asked by a Nigerian on a bus in Nigeria if he was black. Uh, no, my brother replied, looking surprised. Well, the Nigerian replied, we can’t tell — all these Americans come over here and say they’re black, but they look white to us.

April 29, 2002

MAX POWER tries to demonstrate the linkage-clout of InstaPundit with a comparison of traffic referred to him by mentions here, on Kausfiles, and at The American Prospect. InstaPundit wins overwhelmingly: 2000, to 30, to 15.

But what “Max” doesn’t mention is that my link said that his pseudonym “sounds like a porn star.” I’m willing to bet that neither Kaus nor TAP said anything quite so likely to make people click through.

April 29, 2002

THEY’RE NOT PEACE ACTIVISTS — they just want the Israelis to lose. That’s the gist of Chris Seamans’ post on an oped from a self-described peace activist.

April 29, 2002

MEGAN MCARDLE looks at number of guns versus amount of crime and even has cool graphics.

April 29, 2002

HERE COME THE CHRISTIAN BLOGGERS. I think he’s left out some, but I don’t tend to sort people that way so I’ll have to think a bit to see if I can remember who it is.

UPDATE: Well, there’s Amy Wellborn, for one.

April 29, 2002

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH says that Desmond Tutu is an idiot for characterizing Israel’s positions as apartheid-like.

Tutu, in all honesty, was always overrated. What I see here is not so much idiocy, but the desperate desire of a guy who hasn’t gotten a lot of public approbation in a while, and wants it back. He’ll get it, too — though mostly from people whose approbation is nothing to wear with pride.

April 29, 2002

I’VE ALWAYS SAID that all the twaddle about “journalistic ethics” was just that. Now here’s proof.

April 29, 2002

I’M NOT A TEASE, any more than Richard Nixon was a crook. Hey, wait a minute. . . . Anyway, reader Steve Carroll sends this plaintive request on the topic of interracial marriage:

I’m anxious to see a selection of what your readers had to say about that interracial marriage post. You nailed it exactly, in my opinion. It especially drives me crazy to see references to “our women” from racial groups. Anyways, you teased that you would post more about the topic later. Just add my vote to those interested in seeing that.

Okay. Here are some samples of the email I got — not as much as I got about Scientific American, but far more than I’ve gotten defending Yasser Arafat. Reader John Chang wrote:

I don’t think there’s any sort of racist assumption on the part of Raspberry.

I think the dynamics of marriage between black women and men reflect the other dynamics that are currently in play in society. I won’t try to go into all the details here, but while black men are much more likely to marry non-blacks (and are often more desired by non-black women), black women are more likely to indicate a desire to marry black men. Conversely, non-black men will often place black women lower on their choice of dating prospects. I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, but this sort of stuff does take place. It’s very similar to the dynamics that take place within the Asian-American community, where the women are much more likely to marry whites than the
men (for whatever personal or cultural reason, which I choose not to delve into at this time).

Another reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes:

Intelligent people seldom marry outside their race because it makes very little sense to do so. The fact of the matter is that only a tiny minority of the population as a whole is in favor of interracial marriage and as a result discrimination is a big problem. Marrying someone who is obviously not of your race is like making the decision to devote your life to becoming a world renowned concert pianist and then taking a hatchet and hacking off your left pinky — it makes no sense given the current prevailing attitudes of all races.

The majority of people who marry outside their race do so, unfortunately, to make a statement; “look at me, I’m colorblind and I’m putting my marriage where my mouth is”. Most of these people are nitwits employed by universities who see racism everywhere.

The first part — about prejudice — may be true. But if this sort of consideration really determined matters of the heart, would anyone be gay? The second part, about “making a statement,” is just wrong. There were some marriages like this back when I was a kid, but the shock-value, or the PC-value, of interracial marriages is largely nil. Indeed, my experience is that as a white guy you’re as likely to get flak as praise for dating nonwhites — especially from nonwhites. Stuart Buck writes:

Maybe Raspberry’s is neither racist nor implying that black women are racist. He may just be realistic about the prospects of black women marrying white men. In my experience, black-white couples are overwhelmingly likely to involve a black man marrying a white woman. One web article claims that in 1990, black-white couples featured a white husband only 28% of the time. Think of famous couples or black men who date/marry white women: Clarence and Virginia Thomas, Sidney Poitier and his wife, Halle Berry’s parents, Mariah Carey’s parents, Edwin Moses, Kobe Bryant, Montel Williams, Wesley Snipes, O.J. Simpson — the list goes on and on. Whereas I simply can’t think of any famous white men married to or dating black women. There may be a few, but none come to mind.

As an empirical matter, this may be true. But if black women are failing to marry — and if, as William Raspberry says, this is a terrible thing for society — then should we simply accept these prejudices (for that’s what they are, really)? I’m not saying that we should force people to marry, of course, but Raspberry might tell these women that it’s better to marry a good man who’s not black than to stay single. Or maybe he doesn’t believe that. Which takes us back to my original question.

UPDATE: Reader Tom Gates writes:

The comment from the anonymous person who said that people marry outside their race doesn’t make sense, or to make a statement made me laugh because the person is displaying profound ignorance and/or stupidity.

I grew up in Hawaii, and the MAJORITY of marriages are inter-racial. I married my Japanese-American wife because she was beautiful, and I fell in love plain and simple. Pick your combo among the major ethnic groups (AJA, “haole” or Caucasian, Chinese, Hawaiian, other Pacific Islanders, etc.), and you’ll find most marry out their ethnic group. The only exception is the Chinese, and I can’t remember the University of Hawaii study which examined this. In California, the trend is like Hawaii.

Some practical problems that arise are when the Feds or your local school district attempt to pigeon-hole your child based on ethnicity, and the kids get to alternate ethnicity every year or so! I speak from experience, and it can lead to some funny discussions.

Yeah, if anything I would say there’s probably a mild built-in preference for “exoticity” (that is, difference) among a lot of people, which makes good evolutionary sense of course.

April 29, 2002

STILL MORE ON SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: A reader writes:

As a 30+ year subscriber to Scientific American, I think the decline can be explained in one sentence: The main articles used to be exclusively written by scientists about their field of expertise, but now most are written by journalists. They have gone from being a journal where scientists exchanged information on the state of the art to just another glossy magazine about science. In addition, the editorial slant has gotten more and more pronounced as they evolved from written by scientists to written by journalists. In the 70s, an article in SciAm was considered a major publication event in the career of an academic – an acknowledgement that you were at the top of the heap in your field.

And reader Larry Thacker serves up this historical nugget:

Your Scientific American post jogged my memory about a TV show I recently watched about airplanes or Boeing. The show mentioned the folks at Scientific American Magazine and their thoughts about the future of the airplane back in the early 1900′s. I can not remember the shows name, the cable channel, or the exact quote, but thanks to google I was able too find this small quote: “To affirm that the airplane is going to revolutionize the future is to be guilty of the wildest exaggeration …” –Scientific American Magazine, 1910

Yeah, that’s of a piece with their nanotech article from a few years back. To be fair, they’ve backtracked considerably on their nano-ridicule since then, in light of the response they got. I expect they’ll do the same thing here, though probably without admitting any errors along the way.

Reader Carl Raymond Crites was one of many noting that John Rennie (who responded to Lomborg and questioned his credentials) doesn’t have much in the way of scientific credentials himself. According to this interview in The Moment, “Mr. Rennie has a background in biology. He has worked in biological research, but he decided that he enjoyed explaining science more than doing research. Since then, he has worked in scientific publications, and he became editor-in- chief of Scientific American last year.” His sole degree appears to be a bachelor’s degree in biology from Yale. Crites notes:

My seventeen year old daughter is graduating from high school this month at the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at the University of North Texas at Denton TX. For two years part, of her curriculum has including working as a laboratory assistant to her physics professor, Dr. Duncan Weathers . Dr. Winters uses Resonance Ionization Spectroscopy for sputtering analysis. John Wong, of The Moment, could honestly say that Abigail has a background in mathematics and science and that she has worked in physics research.

As to the degeneration of Scientific American over the years, the comments of your readers Andy Freeman, Kevin Thompson, and George Zachar are absolutely on point. Interesting to me is that the decay began about two decades ago when John Rennie and some of his like-minded colleagues came on board the editorial staff. They included Timothy M. Beardsley, Marguerite Holloway, John Horgan, and Gary Stix. It was at about this time that the magazine began to feature fewer reports of research by bona fide scientists and engineers (e.g., Roman Aqueducts and the North Atlantic Current and the Ice Age) and instead the readers were treated to the distilled wisdom of the “science writers” such as Rennie, Stix, Holloway, et al. As your readers correctly point out, the magazine developed a “green” agenda and a markedly left wing bias to almost all the reporting. I can add little to the comments that your readers have made. For more than twenty years I read and saved every issue. I finally bailed out about ten years ago.

I would mention an interesting point made by Wong in the 1995 article in The Moment that I cited above. In response to Wong’s question as to who are the main readers of Scientific American, Rennie answered, “Surprisingly, only about 4% of the readers are research scientists.” It might be surprising to Rennie and his journalistic colleagues but it should not be to any of your readers who had formerly looked to the publication for objective information on scientific matters presented by credentialed scientists and engineers.

Not very impressive.

April 29, 2002

MIKE GODWIN EXPLAINS why Hollywood wants to hack your computer.

April 29, 2002

CAIR IS ATTACKING DANIEL PIPES, and you can read Daniel Pipes’ response here. I’ve got to say, after CAIR’s dishonest poll — and its even more dishonest explanations of what it did with the poll — I don’t believe much of anything I hear from these guys, and I don’t think they have much credibility generally.

April 29, 2002

MICHAEL MOORE has lost it, writes former Moore fan Michael Mallon in The Vancouver Sun:

You are invited far too frequently, in Moore’s recent books and films and TV shows, to cheer the man on. Once again, good marketing — a working-class hero is something to be — but often, queasy viewing or reading. In all his work, the blue-collar act often shades over into dangerous anti-intellectual class warfare, especially repugnant coming from someone who lives in a $1.27-million US apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and sends his kid to private school. . . .

Isn’t that what the other side is supposed to be doing? Generalizing, simplifying, pretending to be jes’ one of the common folks? You might argue that when you fight with wolves like General Motors and the Republican Party you must use all tools at your disposal. After all, by any means necessary, said Malcolm X, and the left needs as many strong, charismatic voices as it can get in these days of Bush and Campbell and Le Pen. But Moore’s failings undermine his credibility, and end up undermining the credibility of all voices of protest.

Gee, undermining the credibility of all voices of protest? I thought that was Chomsky’s job. I guess the CIA’s disinformation budget must have gone up, if Moore can afford that apartment. . . .

April 29, 2002

LOMBORG UPDATE: I’m still getting email but one point that someone made is worth noting now: Lomborg’s critics show the same concern with credentials as Michael Bellesiles’ defenders did.

April 29, 2002

INSTAPUNDIT makes the Japan Times!

April 29, 2002

NOT SO FAST: Martin Sieff writes that a Le Pen victory, while unlikely, is not as near-impossible as most pundits are making it sound.

April 29, 2002

THE SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN POSTS have generated a lot of email. (So did the interracial marriage post, but more on that later). It was about 90% unfavorable to Scientific American. Here are a couple of examples. Reader Ross Nordeen writes:

To clearly see how bad Scientific American has become, one only has to look at the disparity in the treatment of two people, Paul Ehrlich and Bjorn Lomborg. Ehrlich, who has been wildly wrong about so much, received a fawning profile in the October 2000 issue while Lomborg is subject to repeated attacks for the sin of writing a balanced book on the environment.

Yeah, Ehrlich has a track record that puts him squarely among the “creation scientists” in terms of his legitimate ability to claim the title of “science” for his work, but he does continue to get respect from a lot of people who should — and I suspect, do — know better. Reader Kevin Thompson says:

I agree with Andy Freeman about the decline of this once-great publication. I received a gift subscription as a young boy in the late 1960s, and devoured every issue. I learned a lot of fascinating things. I still remember a neat drawing of how rapidly-rotating neutron stars can produce radio waves.

Alas, over the subsequent decades, Scientific American has become less and less about science. I remember one issue in the last year which had only one (1!) article about real science. The rest were about specific technologies or social issues. During this same period, the non-science content has not only grown (why does an article about injuries due to small arms in war-torn countries belong here?), but displayed an increasingly liberal bent.

The liberal bent started with the steady beat of nuclear disarmament. It has expanded to regurgitate liberal dogma on global warming, anti-religious bias, reasons why missile defense technology won’t work or is a bad idea, the joys of conservation, and, of course, the twin catastrophes of ecological destruction and overpopulation. I distinctly remember one editorial responding to a complaining letter with the statement that Scientific American should serve as a vehicle to promote social issues. After more than thirty years as a subscriber, I reluctantly decided not to renew my subscription this year. The content I loved is gone, and the new content does not do justice to the title.

Reader George Zachar writes:

I’m a longtime SciAm subscriber. They’ve gone whole hog for global warming, as highlighted by their pitched battle with Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjørn Lomborg. They also do a lot of cultural relativist stuff, root cause-y sociology, articles blaring “the [fill in the blank] is threatened with extinction”, predictable-outcome gun control pieces, etc. etc. Sciam is also a willing outlet for press releases by politically correct programs (AIDS research, eg) looking for funding.

My non-cancellation is clearly the triumph of hope over experience.

On the other hand, reader Aaron Bergman writes:

“Churlish”? How would you like it if someone from a field completely unrelated to yours tells you you’re full of crap based on doing some internet research? The sheer hubris of Lomborg is amazing. What’s depressing is that so few recognize it. You cannot make an informed critique of science based solely on secondary sources.

Why are people so surprised when someone who hasn’t gone through any education in a field proceeds to call the vast majority of its practitioners corrupt or naive? Do you dispute the completely thorough refutation of pretty much everything Lomborg has written, or would you rather keep attacking the messenger?

Well, the piece didn’t look like a thorough refutation of Lomborg to me. And I don’t think this is a very fair characterization of Lomborg’s work: since he’s a statistician, examining statistical data, I don’t really see that he’s out of his field, nor is his work any more riddled with citations to secondary literature and websites than, say, Stuart Pimm’s latest book. And Scientific American’s attitude throughout — including its rather nasty demand that he remove its criticisms from his website response — has not been the attitude of a disinterested seeker of truth.

But hell, I’m a lawyer. Everybody offers their opinion on what the law is or ought to be. And I can deal with that. And as a lawyer, I’m pretty good at telling when people are blowing smoke. I’m an agnostic on global warming; I had a lengthy airplane conversation with a pretty famous atmospheric chemist from Berkeley (I’m blanking on his name at the moment) who made a convincing case, but I’ve heard some convincing refutations, too. What I can say with certainty is that the public argument over global warming has long since become one of orthodoxy treating its critics with disdain. That doesn’t prove that the orthodox are wrong, of course. But such a degree of defensiveness bespeaks a lack of confidence in the data.

April 29, 2002

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Not only a sucky magazine, but one that’s cruel to children! Reader Andy Freeman writes:

I stopped subscribing to Scientific American in the early 70s when I noticed that one of the most common topics was nuclear disarmament.

I was a young lad then and I didn’t have much opinion either way, but I wanted science for my science dollar, even though I didn’t understand much of it.

I occasionally pick up a copy at a news stand, leaf through it, and put it down because it hasn’t changed.

I suppose that someone could go through their off-topic stuff and look at how things have turned out. I suspect that they’ve lent their veneer to a lot of dodgy things. However, that’s not the problem.

I still really want to like Scientific American. I still want to subscribe. They still don’t want anyone who wants a Scientific American full of real science. That’s a crappy thing to do to a kid.

Yeah, a content analysis of Scientific American over the past couple of decades would be interesting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it showed exactly what Freeman says — that’s certainly my impression. Has anybody done anything like that?

April 29, 2002

INSTAPUNDIT: Vastly more profitable than AOL/Time Warner! Maybe I should buy them instead of the other way around. [Hasn't Kaus already done this schtick, with that press release crowing about his $300 in profits or whatever it was? -- Ed. Yeah, but he's already done the whole "phantom editor dialogue" schtick, too, and that's not stopping you, er, us, er, me, now is it?]

April 29, 2002

STILL MORE ON THE BLAME-AMERICA MENTALITY, from Ibero-bloggers John and Antonio:

And guess whose fault it is, according to psychologist Andrés González Bellido in the Vanguardia? You guessed it. America’s. “These episodes that once seemed only to occur in the US can be explained (in Europe), says this psychologist, because European society is becoming more similar to American society. ‘Loneliness, individual frustration, and greater and greater social inequalities lead to extreme situations,’ he adds.” These people took Death of a Salesman much too seriously. Interestingly enough, the exact same sort of commentary was made after 16 were killed in Hungerford, England, in 1987, after 14 were killed in Luxiol, France, in 1989, after 17 were killed in Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996, after 14 were killed in Zug, Switzerland, in 2001, and after 8 were killed just recently in Nanterre, France.

Go figure.

April 29, 2002

AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM: H.D. Miller has a good item on the European blame-America mentality and how it backfires.

April 29, 2002

MATT WELCH says that there are few things that turn you off of journalism more than listening to journalists talk about what a great job they do.

Boy, I agree. One of the most offensive things on C-SPAN is the way panels of journalists will take calls, often calls featuring intelligent criticism, and then look at each other and agree that, actually, journalists do an excellent job, and the critics don’t know what they’re talking about.

UPDATE: You can stream RealAudio of Welch here if you want. And if you’ve got RealPlayer on your computer. I don’t have it on this one, so I’m passing along this link blind. Er, deaf? Whatever.

April 29, 2002

RACIAL ASSUMPTIONS: William Raspberry writes that there is a shortage of educated black men and that as a result, successful black women aren’t getting married. This, he says, is a tragedy.

And I suppose it is. But, you know, buried in Raspberry’s piece — and no doubt in the minds of the women he describes — is the assumption that black women should only marry black men. Isn’t that kind of, you know, racist?

April 29, 2002

THIS CHURLISH REPLY to Bjorn Lomborg in Scientific American — which misstates his qualifications knowingly — is more proof that that once-proud magazine has become a miserable sham.

I first noticed its slide downhill several years ago when it published a hit-piece on nanotechnologist Eric Drexler (stunning, idea-refuting revelation: he puts milk in his iced tea!), then was very weaselly about responding to the storm of refutations it received from well-known scientists. Scientific American is now biased, nasty, and unreliable. Too bad. I used to like it.

April 29, 2002

MICHAEL LEDEEN — who to the disgrace of just about everyone else who ought to be covering it, owns this story — has another interesting article on what’s going on in Iran. Here’s his conclusion:

Our leaders need to say, over and over again, that it is time for the mullahs to submit to the just desires of their own people. As the Iranian people have been chanting for many months in the streets of the country, there should be a referendum on the Iranian government. Let the people decide if they want to continue the Islamic republic, or if they prefer a secular republic or a constitutional monarchy. We have no horse in that race, and our leaders must stress that we are not supporting any individual or any group; we support an Iranian government chosen in a free and fair election.

The stakes are very high. The fall of the mullahs in Tehran would send a devastating message to the entire Islamic world: Theocracy has been tried, and it has failed. Osama bin Laden’s vision has been rejected by the people of Afghanistan and the people of Iran, by Sunnis and Shia alike. We must help the Iranian democrats. We must give money, urgently and immediately, to Iranian National TV, now struggling to stay afloat in Los Angeles. We must assist the student and labor leaders, who are often forced to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes. We must help them communicate with one another. Can’t we provide some wireless PCs to the Iranian opposition?

The most important thing is our leaders’ words to the Iranians. We want the fall of the regime. That is what the war on terrorism is all about. To remain silent is to be complicit in the repression of Iran. There is no diplomatic “solution.” We want a free Iran. Don’t we?

Yes, we do.

April 29, 2002

GEORGE W. BUSH: The “first Hispanic President!” It’s in Salon, natch.

April 29, 2002

SOME PEOPLE WON’T LIKE THIS, but I do:

“The problem with America,” a college professor told me recently, “is that it can’t get over the idea that it is somehow special among nations.” His name is Robert Jensen and he teaches journalism at the University of Texas, Austin. He’s flat wrong. The problem with America and Western civilization in general is that it lost confidence in itself and started accepting relativist arguments.

Today, we launch a new Monday column on OpinionJournal, “The Western Front.” Many readers will recognize the reference to the Erich Maria Remarque novel about the Western world tearing itself to pieces in World War I. It was that war that accelerated Western civilization down into a dangerous pit from which it may now be emerging. The main purpose of this column will be to argue for rebuilding confidence in the West’s ideal of human freedom–spiritual, political and economic liberty.

Bravo.

April 29, 2002

THE BOSTON GLOBE has done some actual reporting on Jenin — instead of just recycling Palestinian statements uncritically as most reporters seem to have done — and reports that there wasn’t a massacre:

Palestinian Authority allegations that a large-scale massacre of civilians was committed by Israeli troops during their invasion of the refugee camp here appear to be crumbling under the weight of eyewitness accounts from Palestinian fighters who participated in the battle and camp residents who remained in their homes until the final hours of the fighting.

In interviews yesterday with teenage fighters, a leader of Islamic Jihad, an elderly man whose home was at the center of the fighting, and other Palestinian residents, all of whom were in the camp during the battle, none reported seeing large numbers of civilians killed. All said they were allowed to surrender or evacuate when they were ready to do so, though some reported being mistreated while in Israeli detention. . . .

Meanwhile, a British military adviser to Amnesty, Reserve Major David Holley, was quoted yesterday by Reuters news service as dismissing the Palestinian allegations of a massacre and predicting that no evidence would be found to substantiate them.

Of course, almost as lame as the Western reporting on the subject is the Israeli PR operation, which hasn’t done very well at getting this story out.

On the other hand, this should discredit a lot of critics — or it would, if anyone paid attention to the critics’ track records.

April 29, 2002

HOLLYWOOD’S UNITED FRONT IS CRACKING, reports the Los Angeles Times. Well, heck: why not? There are splits in the Saudi regime and splits among the Palestinian terror groups. It’s not easy holding an Empire of Evil together, you know.

April 29, 2002

A REPORT FROM BROOKINGS says we need to focus more on preventing high-casualty terrorist attacks like those involving nuclear or biological weapons. This is probably true — but I think the best way to prevent these isn’t to add security, but to kill the terrorists before they can strike.

April 29, 2002

THIS COLUMN BY NEAL POLLACK has almost Lileks-like moments, and there’s no higher praise:

A young man approached me on the quad. He wore a Leonard Peltier for President t-shirt, and a lovely pair of acid-washed Che Guevara for Men jeans.

“Hey,” he said. “Are you Noam Chomsky?”

“No,” I said. “I just look like him.”

“Oh, that’s cool. Well, do you support Palestinian liberation?”

“I dunno,” I said. “What’s in it for me?”

“Nothing. You just should.”

“Why?”

“Because Israel,” he said, “is stupid.”

I thought about his penetrating statement. The last time I’d visited Israel, Amos Oz and I had taken ecstasy at a disco in Haifa and had met these three Spanish architecture students and we had a crazy gang-bang on the beach until dawn. The next day, I interviewed Yitzak Rabin, which also went pretty well. But that was nearly 10 years ago. What if Israel had become stupid since then? What a story!

I whipped out my cell and called The New Yorker.

The adventure continues well beyond this point.

April 29, 2002

AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON THE TUNISIAN BOMBING says that Islamist terrorists are more interested in “taking back their homelands” than in war on the West. Er, well, except that the “homelands” they want to “take back” include places like, you know, Spain.

April 29, 2002

CRACKS IN THE FACADE OF PALESTINIAN UNITY: This article from Ha’aretz says that there’s a growing split between religious and nationalist Palestinians. It also suggests that some United States efforts there are bearing fruit.

April 29, 2002

RALPH PETERS, who wrote the excellent essay on stability in Parameters that I linked to a while back, has an piece today in the Wall Street Journal arguing that the Arab world is hopeless, though the Islamic world is not. I think he’s absolutely right, and it’s important not to conflate the two. The Arabs were hopeless before Islam, they were hopeless at Islam’s peak, and they’re hopeless today. They’re the target of considerable resentment within the non-Arab Islamic world, which views them at times as colonizers who make mockery of Islam’s claims of equality. We should understand that, and take advantage of it.

Send a copy of Peters’ essay to your Senator.

April 29, 2002

MICKEY KAUS is defending the Los Angeles Times’ Sebastian Rotella against assaults from Andrew Sullivan and many other parts of the Blogosphere. But I think Kaus himself is wrong when he says, “Europe’s only just begun to deal with the problem of welfare-subsidized ghettos.” A fairer statement would be that Europe has only just begun to acknowledge the problem of welfare-subsidized ghettos. Actual dealing will come later, if at all.

April 29, 2002

SALON FINANCIALS: Bottom line is, they’re still hemorrhaging cash according to John Scalzi.

April 28, 2002

PUBLISHER JIM BAEN has been putting up his books for free on the Web. Now author Eric Flint explains what happened: it sold a lot more books. And he’s got the numbers to prove it.

April 28, 2002

PUNDITWATCH IS UP! Don’t miss it.

April 28, 2002

UTHANT.COM unveils a new Middle East Peace PlanTM that, well, is as likely to work as any of the others!

Perhaps the international community wouldn’t be so stumped by the conflict had it bothered to ask Uthant for advice. [It's not like we weren't Secretary General of the United Nations for ten years for fuck's sake.] That being said, here at last is the long un-awaited Uthant Peace Plan:

The Palestinians formally get control of all 2,165 square miles of the West Bank, with full autonomy, open borders, and if it turns out that there are any civil rights that come with being citizens of an Arab nation, they can have those too. It’s up to them. No questions asked.

In return, the Israelis get to take back 20 square miles of land every time an Israeli dies at the hands of a Palestinian. No questions asked.

Christiane Amanpour also comes in for some gratuitous abuse, as do many other major mideast political figures.

April 28, 2002

MORE CRACKS IN THE GLOBAL GUN-CONTROL FACADE: This article from the Los Angeles Times says that the global gun-control movement is in trouble, and gives a lot of reasons. But here’s the part that struck me — er, well, once reader John Thacker pointed it out, anyway:

Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino suggested in a radio interview Monday that the country’s gun laws should be loosened. Martino cited the U.S. Bill of Rights’ 2nd Amendment, protecting the right of citizens to bear arms, as a model.

Critics said the minister’s comments reflected a rising sense of insecurity as the population ages and the number of immigrants rises. Unlike in other European countries, fear in Italy has increased even as the number of violent crimes has gone down slightly.

If the “critics” are right about the concerns motivating this position, then such views are likely to spread to other European countries, despite cultural resistance among the elites.

April 28, 2002

I’VE BEEN PROPERLY CHASTENED BY READERS for my remarks about Le Pen, below. A French reader writes:

“A Le Pen administration might provide a salutary and much-needed wake-up call to the corrupt and intellectually bankrupt Europolitical crowd. The ideal outcome for me, I guess, would be for Le Pen to lose, but by a tiny margin.”

I do not know if you have read the guy’s proposals, apart from his populist formulas like “the euro is an occupation money” that you seem to enjoy, but a Le Pen victory would not just be a “wake up call”. It would most likely mean a civil war in our country, not to mention the prospect of a commercial war between France and about the rest of the world (the guy wants to “protect our national industry” by all means).

In addition, I’m quite surprised and saddened that you see it as just another thing to laugh at about us damn Frogs. This event certainly shows that we are indeed the “sick man of Europe”, but I don’t quite see what’s so great about it, and I certainly do not feel that a Chirac victory by a quick margin would bring about what you seem to envision. At best, I could only send the wrong message to our politicians who would feel obliged to be even more nationalist and protectionist. Finally, Le Pen is, for the record, a great admirer and supporter of Sadam Hussein (his wife his president of an association that raises money for the Iraki regime)…would you really feel delighted if such a guy was close to winning the French presidency ?

Meanwhile reader Adam Felber notes:

As much as I enjoy watching the French squirm, I can’t say I’d like to see Le Pen win. It’s worth remembering that France is a nuclear nation with more warheads than China. I know Cold War H-bomb fears are long out of vogue, but a Le Pen government might be just crazy enough…

Both are quite right, and I shouldn’t have been so flippant. I suppose it’s been too hard for me to really imagine Le Pen winning to take the threat seriously, but of course that doesn’t mean that his victory would be a good thing.

I guess I was just responding to the unwillingness of Eurocrats in general and the French political system in particular to accept any less dramatic correctives. But I agree that a Le Pen victory would very likely be disastrous, even if (as I expect) it never led to nuclear war.

UPDATE: Reader David Shulman writes in response:

I think you were right about Le Pen the first time. Although he is frequently called an “anti-semite” by the Left, I think that he would be “good for the Jews.” He would not put up with the violent crimes being committed on a daily basis by Arab hooligans. I’m Jewish, and if I lived in France, I’d probably vote for him.

Interesting. Maybe he has got a shot. . . .

April 28, 2002

DJ Pieter K created this image of North & South Korea. Advantage: Capitalism!

April 28, 2002

BRETT THOMAS wonders why there isn’t more of an outcry about gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia.

April 28, 2002

DAN HARTUNG’S LakeFX blog is back after a long absence. I like his post on how Harper’s has gone downhill.

April 28, 2002

DON’T WRITE OFF LE PEN YET, writes David Carr. I’m torn. On the one hand, I don’t actually like Le Pen, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, it’s delightful to see the French so upset and embarrassed, and that happy state would no doubt continue for quite some time if Le Pen actually won. I mean, this is a guy who calls the Euro “occupation money”. And while I don’t like Le Pen, it’s not like I like the other French politicians all that much, either. A Le Pen administration might provide a salutary and much-needed wake-up call to the corrupt and intellectually bankrupt Europolitical crowd.

The ideal outcome for me, I guess, would be for Le Pen to lose, but by a tiny margin.

April 28, 2002

This photo, if you haven’t seen it, is way cool. It’s the earth from space, at night. But for a real contrast, look at the difference between North and South Korea — and remember that the North used to be the industrialized part.

(Note — if you flunked Geography, find Japan (if you can’t do that, skip this — you’re hopeless) then look due west. What looks like an island of light is South Korea — if you look closely you can see just enough points of light to realize that North Korea is actually there, but just barely.)

The always visible difference between capitalism and communism couldn’t be much more visible than that.

April 28, 2002

JOHN ELLIS says that Karen Hughes is part of a growing exodus from the high-stress corporate/political lifestyle.

April 28, 2002

NORAH VINCENT says that Arab terrorists don’t measure up in the masculinity department.

April 28, 2002

VIA BILL QUICK I found this story about Putin rival Alexander Lebed dying in a helicopter crash. Quick connects it with the highly suspicious Venezuelan crash that killed a lot of anti-Chavez brass.

Of course, nobody was trying to rub out Stevie Ray Vaughan or Bill Graham: helicopters are dangerous, and if you fly in them a lot you have a nontrivial chance of being killed. But it is a bit suspicious.

April 28, 2002

A READER sends this Iranian cartoon. Quite a self-image, eh?

UPDATE: Reader Philippe Richards says that this is a self-critical image, not a celebratory one.

April 28, 2002

SEN. BILL FRIST AND CLONING: I can’t find it on their website, but the Knoxville News Sentinel is reporting that Bill Frist abandoned his support for therapeutic cloning because he is under consideration for the slot as Bush’s running mate in 2004. Cloning and Condi Rice supporters are likely to be disappointed to hear this — and those, like me (and, for different reasons, Asparagirl) who would like to see Condi Rice cloned are doubly unhappy, of course.