February 28, 2006
WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and The U.N. cares about human rights.
WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH, and The U.N. cares about human rights.
A MANIFESTO AGAINST THE NEW ISLAMIC TOTALITARIANISM: Bravo. Click “read more” to read it.
We interviewed Claire Berlinski, author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent’s Crisis is America’s, Too, about Europe, Muslim integration (and the lack thereof), and the political, diplomatic, and military consequences thereof. I think it’s one of the most important books of the year, and that this is one of the most important podcast interviews we’ve done. Her advice to the White House and State Department on Europe: “Make contingency plans in case it all goes to hell, because it very well might.”
Music: “Too Many Goodbyes,” by The Defenders of the Faith, from Original Sins, the first album I ever produced. That’s the Insta-Brother, Jonathan Reynolds, on guitar along with Hector Qirko, and Doug Weinstein plays drums and Hammond organ.
As always, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions.
INTERESTING REPORT FROM IRAQ:
In the days that followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine, Iraq seemed within a hair’s breadth of civil war. But an aggressive U.S. and Kurdish diplomatic campaign appears for now to have coaxed the country back from open conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, according to Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats speaking in interviews on Monday.
Read the whole thing.
In the southwest, where most of Iran’s oil, and Arabs, are found, two bombs went off in government offices. There were four injuries. These bombings have been going on since last Summer. The government blames foreign instigators. That may be true, but not the British foreigners the government names, but Iraqi Shia Arabs who feel the connection with their fellow Shia Arabs across the border in Iran. Like the Iraqi Shia Arabs, the Iranian Shia Arabs have not gotten much from all the oil produced around them. The ethnic Iranians (an Indo-European people) control the oil, and the money it brings in. The 1980 war between Iran and Iraq was started when Saddam Hussein tried to “liberate” his fellow Arabs just across the border in Iran, along with the oil they were sitting on. Saddam already had a reputation for treating Shias badly, and Iran’s Arabs remained loyal in resisting Saddam’s army. But now, the situation is different. Shia Arabs are basically running Iraq. This bothers the non-Arab Iranians, and encourages the Arab Iranians.
There’s also this:
Iran would also like to get rid of all the foreign spies. Increasingly, Iranian intelligence is getting reports of more foreigners offering money for information. This is a common intelligence gathering technique in the Middle East, where information is just another item to be bought, sold or bartered. In Iran, where smuggling has been big business for a long time, information is one of the items carried into, and out of, the country. Foreigners want to know about resistance to the government and attitudes towards Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
Hmm. I wonder who is behind that.
AN EXTENSIVE, AND MOSTLY RIGHT look at the Bush Administration’s political problems.
IS BLOGGING LEGAL SCHOLARSHIP? My Dean says so, which makes me, on a word-count basis, at least, one of the most productive scholars around!
Ann Althouse has further thoughts, and adds:
And speaking of U.S. News, wouldn’t it be funny if it used faculty blogging as a factor? There would be all these blogs by lawprofs trying to move their school up the rankings.
Indeed there would.
THREATSWATCH looks at Iran’s efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, which seem to be succeeding while the world is occupied with nuke rumors and cartoon wars:
But, typically, the nature of the Iranian nuclear program is not revealed by the UN agency tasked with investigating the crisis, but rather by the swirling events that continue to define it. And while the world remains affixed on the state of the Iranian nuclear countdown and the IAEA as it haplessly tries to get a fix on a moving target, the nature of the Iranian crisis transcends developments on the atomic front. . . .
While the Iranians are seemingly making little progress convincing the world of their ‘peaceful nuclear power program’ save for buying time, they are making considerable progress elsewhere throughout the region with visible, tangible gains in the Palestinian Territories, conditions inexplicably favorable in Lebanon, constant bloody tinkering in Iraq (especially through Basra) and a regional diplomatic ‘charm offensive’ ongoing.
Meanwhile, where it appears Iran is employing a short to mid-term regional strategy, the United States seems entrenched employing long-term strategies of seemingly endless UN-centered wrangling and funding supportive broadcasts into a largely immobile internal Iranian opposition.
I’m afraid that it’s going to come to open military action against Iran, sooner rather than later.
KARL ROVE comments on the Army of Davids:
Rove considers Memogate a watershed in the rise of the alternative media.
“The whole incident in the fall of 2004 showed really the power of the ‘blogosphere’,” he said in his West Wing office.
“Because in essence you had now, an army of self-appointed experts looking over the shoulder of the mainstream media and bringing to bear enormously sophisticated skills,” he added.
Still, Rove cautioned that the Internet’s political potential has a darker side.
Like all things. And the Bush Administration’s ineptitude where the ports story is involved demonstrates that it’s always a two-edged sword.
UPDATE: More thoughts here.
DOUGLAS MURRAY WRITES that we should fear Holland’s silence:
‘Would you write the name you’d like to use here, and your real name there?” asked the girl at reception. I had just been driven to a hotel in the Hague. An hour earlier I’d been greeted at Amsterdam airport by a man holding a sign with a pre-agreed cipher. I hadn’t known where I would be staying, or where I would be speaking. The secrecy was necessary: I had come to Holland to talk about Islam. . . .
The event was scholarly, incisive and wide-ranging. There were no ranters or rabble-rousers, just an invited audience of academics, writers, politicians and sombre party members. As yet another example of Islam’s violent confrontation with the West (this time caused by cartoons) swept across the globe, we tried to discuss Islam as openly as we could. The Dutch security service in the Hague was among those who considered the threat to us for doing this as particularly high. The security status of the event was put at just one level below “national emergency”.
This may seem fantastic to people in Britain. But the story of Holland — which I have been charting for some years — should be noted by her allies. Where Holland has gone, Britain and the rest of Europe are following. The silencing happens bit by bit. A student paper in Britain that ran the Danish cartoons got pulped. A London magazine withdrew the cartoons from its website after the British police informed the editor they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack. This happened only days before the police provided 500 officers to protect a “peaceful” Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.
It seems the British police — who regularly provide protection for mosques (as they did after the 7/7 bombs) — were unable to send even one policeman to protect an organ of free speech. At the notorious London protests, Islamists were allowed to incite murder and bloodshed on the streets, but a passer-by objecting to these displays was threatened with detention for making trouble.
When other groups decide that the way to get favorable press is to use violence, those who have wimped out now will have no one to blame but themselves. As a reader emailed me a while back, what use is a free press if it doesn’t believe in free speech?
People talk about Eurabia, but what’s really happened is that Europe has become Weimarized, with governments and institutions too morally and intellectually weak to stand up for the principles they pretend to embody. And we know what that led to last time . . . .
UPDATE: Related thoughts here.
BOINGBOING IS BANNED IN VARIOUS MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES: Here’s some advice on how to get around the censorware, but since it’s on BoingBoing, and hence presumably blocked to the people who need it, I’m also reposting it below; I’m pretty sure the BoingBoing folks won’t mind. [LATER: Xeni Jardin emails: "Mind???? We're thrilled!"] Click “read more” to read it.
What’s really lame is that these countries, which include Iran, are using filtering software made by a United States company to block content. Selling the rope, and all that.
BLOGGER BOB “CONFEDERATE YANKEE” OWENS is interviewed in the Washington Post.
STANDING UP TO BARBARISM: Gateway Pundit notes that Poland is no France.
ANOTHER ARMY OF DAVIDS SIGHTING — Ian Schwartz emails: “I just picked up a copy of the book at Books a Million — one of the last few.”
Words to warm an author’s heart.
Maybe you’ve heard: Blogs are a vanishing fad — this year’s digital Pet Rock. Or a business bubble about to pop. Or a sucker’s bet for new-media fame seekers.
Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers’ dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can’t get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate’s Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was “somewhere between nil and negative.” From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross’s name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.
Reports of blogging’s demise are bosh, but if we’re lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.
DAVID WARREN has more on the Cartoon Wars:
The reason I have written so copiously on this subject — not the cartoons themselves, but what I have called the “organized apoplexy” in response to them — is because it is important. In my judgement, it is the most important thing that has happened since the Al Qaeda attack on the United States, in 2001. It is important in combination with other fast-developing events, including the victory of the openly terrorist Hamas in a Palestinian election; Iran’s public promise to “wipe Israel off the map”; collapsing public order in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere; the recent Muslim riots, and continuing low-level Intifada in France; and now the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, triggering vicious sectarian strife in Iraq. And quite literally, hundreds of lesser events of the same nature — each revealing an Islamic world in combustion, and a West retreating into contrived apologies and other confused gestures of cowardice and panic.
One cannot keep up with all these events — the wheels of history are turning too quickly. The world in which we will find ourselves, a few years hence, will not resemble the world we inhabited a few years ago. Yet this is among the few predictions that can be safely made.
It’s not a good time to go wobbly.
BRUSSELS JOURNAL REPORTS:
Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.
I doubt the E.U. will last long enough for that. I certainly hope that it straightens out, though.
YEAH, I’ve watched a lot of Jimmy Neutron in my time, too.
THE PORKBUSTERS PAGE is now at Porkbusters.org — make a note of it.
I HAVE A NEW BLOGCHILD: “I must admit, although I’ve read many blogs recently, I never considered starting a blog of my own until I caught Glenn Reynolds, the creator of Instapundit, on C-SPAN yesterday.”
THIS LOOKS LIKE A NON-STORY: Lots of people are talking about this AP story, which scarily begins:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.
Of course, Rob Port notes that further on the same story says:
The Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the document ultimately were addressed. In a statement, the Coast Guard said other U.S. intelligence agencies were able to provide answers to the questions it raised.
So what’s the big deal, exactly?
GOT A HEART QUESTION? The Insta-Wife is soliciting questions for an upcoming cardiological podcast.
JIM GERAGHTY says there’s “an organized disinformation campaign” on the ports deal.
ROGER SIMON joins those with questions about Yale’s admissions policies.
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE notes an overlooked third party in the ports imbroglio.
ARMY OF DAVIDS ARRIVES: Reader Dusty Loy emails: “Arrived from Barnes and Noble 15 minutes ago, can’t wait to read it!” I guess those other reports were right.
Meanwhile my publisher emails: “Army of Davids is Amazon’s no. 1 business preorder.” Cool.
JAMES JOYNER thinks there may be an upside to Iraqi civil war. Hmm. Mickey Kaus said the same thing a while back, but as I’ve noted here before, I think it’s better off avoided. This kind of thinking reminds me of Josh Marshall’s worries in 2003 that we didn’t kill enough Iraqis to ensure stable government postwar. Of course, some people today might say he was right about that, though I haven’t noticed any I-told-you-sos on this account from Josh.
A TIPPING POINT on the Muslim world? I worry, over at GlennReynolds.com.
MICHAEL TOTTEN has more blog-reporting from Iraq.
FORGET THE PORTS: “Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday’s New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far. . . . ‘In some ways,’ Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. ‘I’m the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale.’”
Unless things have improved since I was there, however, the food will be inferior to Guantanamo’s. I wonder if he attends Yale’s famous naked parties. If so, someone should save pictures.
IT’S NOT OFFICIALLY OUT FOR A WEEK, but An Army of Davids is apparently starting to ship from Amazon. At least, several readers have gotten emails from Amazon saying that their copies have shipped.
UPDATE: Another reader writes: “FYI, it’s also shipping from Barnes & Noble if I’m to believe their E-mail.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stephen Keating emails: “It’s in Books a Million in Reston already.”
Ask for it at your bookstore! Maybe I should do like Scalzi and ask for people to send in photos. . . .
“UNITY PROTESTS” break out in Iraq. Strangely, they’re getting less attention.
Proponents of single-payer health care reform in the United States have long pointed toward Canada as a model for the US to emulate.
The New York Times reports that the Canadian system is imploding. A recent Candian Supreme Court decision allowed private health care (oh, the shame, the horror) and as a result, Canadians tired of waiting for radiation therapy, eye surgery and hip replacements have turned toward private alternatives springing up under the new legal environment.
Read the whole thing. Evan Coyne Maloney and Stuart Browning had better finish their film on the Canadian health system fast.
JEFF JARVIS goes from a BBC reporter’s thoughts on American politics to some thoughts on the impact of different media:
But perhaps it’s not the use or control of the media but, instead, the appropriateness of the message for the medium of the time. Cue McLuhan.
Broadcasting — sermonizing — to the masses was, then, inherently liberal.
Narrowcasting — ranting — on cable is better for the conservatives.
But what about the internet? It’s tailor-made for the libertarians. The internet is the embodiment of individual liberty, the great product and celebration of freedom.
When blogs started, I wondered why so many bloggers seemed to be libertarian, why they gathered in this medium in apparently disproportionate numbers. That’s obvious to me now. They have found their home. They have the message and the medium for it. But they’re just as disorganized as the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s not just about Democratic disarray. It’s about a benign anarchy sweeping the politics of the land.
There’s an old joke: “How many libertarians does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but you’ve got to get him to show up.”
HERE’S AN INTERESTING BIT from the transcript I just got in the mail from CNN. It’s the Iraqi National Security Adviser, on “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.”
On who is responsible for the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra
MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE: The blueprint of that unfortunate event, the blueprints of al Qaeda in Iraq is that. It’s the same design, the same methods, the same objectives they want to achieve, which is a civil war. They wanted to drive a wedge between the two communities in Iraq, between the Shia and Sunnis. And they’ve been trying this for the last two and a half years. And they failed miserably in this.
And I think also this is one of the most horrible, really terrible attacks on the doctrine, on the belief of the largest community in Iraq. And still, Iraqi people have proven that they’ve gone through this difficulty, yet again, and they have shown the al Qaeda and the outside world that they will never be driven to the civil war.
BLITZER: So when you saw al Qaeda in Iraq, you mean Abu Musab al- Zarqawi? Is that right?
AL-RUBAIE: That’s absolutely right. It’s the same organization of al Qaeda, this international terrorist organization, and one — the branch office in Iraq is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi leading this — this terrible attack, terrorist attack against our people.
On whether any individuals have been arrested for the bombing
AL-RUBAIE: We have arrested 10 people. Four from the guards of the Golden Tomb shrine. And six — there were in the city of Samarra, just moved in and rented a place. Six young people there. So we are investigating then. We are very — there are two leads, and these leads are very, very good in our investigations. And we will reveal this in the very near future at Jala (ph).
I wonder if the trail will lead back to Iran.
DESPITE the Mark Steyn column linked below, here’s some good news from France:
Tens of thousands of people have marched through Paris to protest against racism and anti-Semitism after the kidnap and murder of a young Jew. Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with horrific injuries, three weeks after he was kidnapped by an extortion gang. . . .
Among those at Sunday’s rally were members of the government and the opposition, Jewish and anti-racism campaigners, and leaders of the Jewish and other religious communities.
Worried as I am, I haven’t written Europe off yet. As Roger Simon observes: “This may not equal the crowds they muster for a transit workers strike, but let’s hope this marks a new resistance to racism and anti-Semitism in France.”
AUSTIN BAY continues his look at captured Al Qaeda documents.
MEDIA OVERLOAD: I’ll be on Brian Lamb’s Q&A on C-SPAN tonight at 8 pm Eastern. I think it reruns at 11.
If you’re tired of hearing about me, An Army of Davids, etc., well, I guess I don’t blame you. It’ll settle down in a couple of weeks, unless a miracle occurs and the book becomes a bestseller, in which case it’ll settle down in a couple of more weeks after that.
In five years’ time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents’ apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam’s throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, “I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven.”
Is that an gripping story? You’d think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You’ve got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.
Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.
This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan’s screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.
This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element.
GPS UPDATE: In response to a reader question yesterday, reader Bobby Sayer emails:
In response to a reader’s request for in-car GPS info…I’d recommend TomTom’s products. I’m using their “TomTom Navigator 5″ software for my Windows Mobile phone (Cingular 8125), and so far it’s been pretty good. The software comes with a rechargable Bluetooth GPS module for $300, though you could probably find it cheaper online. If you don’t have a Windows Mobile or Palm device, TomTom’s GO 300 and 700 are pretty sweet as well.
My brother has a handheld GPS that he likes a lot, but I’m not sure of the model. I don’t own one. Heck, I don’t even own a TiVo — and when I tried to get a DirecTV TiVo-equivalent I discovered that they don’t offer a model that will burn DVDs, which sucks, so I probably won’t own one any time soon.
I’LL BE ON CNN’S RELIABLE SOURCES at about 10:15 Eastern, talking about the ports imbroglio, events in Iraq, and more.
UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has the video.
JOHN HINDERAKER: “Actually, I think this kind of conflict is a good thing: the plain vanilla ad man slogan vs. the early 19th century challenge. Personally, I’m with General Stark.”
WHILE THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS DESERVES SOME PUSHBACK on its irritating and intrusive stance regarding guns, I agree with Eugene Volokh that laws to ban pediatricians asking about guns are a clear First Amendment violation.
Both talk about their work, their fans, and the surprisingly large role that the Internet has played in their success. Tim Minear (whose interview starts at about 21 minutes in) also answers questions about the possibility of a second season for Firefly, and talks about his screenplay of Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.
It’s a pretty heavily science-fiction-themed episode, and Helen isn’t that into science fiction, but after talking to Scalzi and Minear she says she’s changing her mind. And she loved Wonderfalls.
Take a listen and see what you think. You can listen directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking here, or you can get it (and even subscribe) via iTunes. A low-bandwidth version for dialup users is located here, and there’s an archive of past podcasts here.
If you’d like to play it directly in your browser with no messy downloading, go here and click on the gray Flash player.
Music for this episode: “Temptation” by Mobius Dick.
And, as always, the lovely and talented co-host is asking for your comments and suggestions.
A PRO-DENMARK RALLY in Greensboro, North Carolina.
RICIN IN TEXAS: There usually turns out to be less to these stories than it seems at first report, but stay tuned.
UPDATE: Much more from Gateway Pundit, who’s leaning toward the terrorism explanation.
ANOTHER UPDATE: It’s not completely certain, but this is looking like a false alarm:
Preliminary tests on the powder look for a protein that matches the profile of ricin.
Officials say one test returned positive for that protein, while a second was inconclusive, and a third was negative. The definitive test will come from the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Stay tuned, but I’m guessing this won’t amount to much.
BILL CLINTON WRITES:
An example of this is the power of the internet in the hands of people around the world. Remember a few years ago we had the SARS epidemic? Remember when it broke out in Hong Kong and Canada, and the Chinese government was in denial about it?
They turned on a dime, and all of a sudden began to co-operate with the world climate because of the internet. There was a citizen uprising on the internet. The young people didn’t fill Tiananmen Square. They filled the Chinese government website.
They said: “Quit denying this. Tell the truth. Turn it around.”
And what could have been a cataclysmic epidemic was turned around.
I can give you lots of other examples of that. When we had the tsunami – a terrible event in South Asia – the former president George Bush and I were asking for donations. It was a fascinating thing. We raised more than $US1 billion, and about a third of American households contributed. Half of them did so over the internet.
It was a stunning thing, if you think about the power it gives to ordinary people.
Heh. I think that he and I are on the same page.
GADGET UPDATE: So I’m happy with the sound that the Sennheiser headphones I use on my iPod provide, but when I wear ‘em to the gym, the cord seems to wind up getting tangled. Last week, when it snagged my hand as I was on the elliptical machine and sent the iPod flying through the air (again) I decided to try something wireless. I ordered these Logitech wireless headphones.
They’re pretty good. Upside: The sound is great, much better than any wireless headphones I’ve used before. The range is really good, too — I left the iPod with the transmitter plugged into the headphone jack and walked around the house, and got clear sound even in other rooms with walls in the way.
Downside: The plug-in transmitter is a bit bulky, an inch high and of the same dimensions as the iPod top, and won’t work if you’ve got your iPod in a case that obstructs the top even a little. The headphones sound good, but feel a bit flimsy. Some of the Amazon reviewers warn that they’re electronically excellent but physically not that strong. So far so good, but that’ll take time to evaluate.
Overall, not bad, but not quite a home run, either. Worth if if you don’t like the cord — and lots of people at the gym approached me to ask about ‘em, so if you like attracting the attention of iPod fanatics and gadget geeks I guess it’s worth it, too.
One thing I’ve noticed, in fact, is that iPods are one area where you see just as much gadget-geekery among women as men, with several women acting quite enthused by the idea of cordless headphones, so if you’re single and looking for a conversation-starter, I suppose that might be a plus, too — though if you don’t like having people come up and ask about your headphones I guess it might be a minus . . . .
UPDATE: Reader John Marcoux emails: “Did you ever look at in-car GPS units? I’m shopping and would appreciate any comment.”
I’ve got a Popular Mechanics article coming out, but it’s basically on why I didn’t buy one, not a big help in comparison shopping.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Kevin Furr emails:
Hi Glenn, good luck with those Logitech phones. Fair warning: I’m one of those disgrunteled Amazon reviewers. I really liked the things and modded up an armband pouch so as to clamp the transmitter onto my MP3 player for walks and working out.
The potential for a wireless solution there is awesome, but I was brutally disappointed when the arch cracked, just as I’d been warned about. If you really use the things for a month or two, will be interested in your results. Maybe Logitech fixed the problem — but if so, I wish they would admit it.
Meanwhile I await my dream wireless MP3 solution: a fat watch with wireless earbuds.
I like that idea. Here, by the way, is a column I wrote a while back on electronics manufacturers who get the electronic part right but skimp on the physical side.
ROBERT SAMUELSON says that the “science gap” is exaggerated:
It’s true that in a “knowledge economy” —one where new information and ideas increasingly form the basis of useful products and government programs—nations need an adequate science and engineering (S&E) workforce. But it’s emphatically not true, as much of the alarmist commentary on America’s “competitiveness” implies, that the United States now faces crippling shortages in its technological elites.
But he’s worried that we pay lawyers too much, and scientists and engineers too little:
Only about 4 percent of the U.S. workforce consists of scientists and engineers. Having an adequate supply depends on what thousands—not millions—of smart college students decide every year to do with their lives. People choose a career partly because it suits their interests. This applies especially to science. “Physics is like sex,” the physicist Richard Feynman famously quipped. “Sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it.” But intellectual satisfaction goes only so far.
On average, American lawyers make 42 percent more than chemical engineers. At elite levels, huge pay gaps also exist.
Yes, especially as the environments for scientists and engineers have changed, over the past several decades, in ways that make intellectual satisfaction harder to come by, I think. Too much bureaucracy and paperpushing, not enough exciting work.
And while it is, of course, definitionally impossible for me to be overpaid, it’s true that a country that pays its lawyers a lot better than its scientists and engineers is likely, over time, to have better lawyers than scientists and engineers. Much as it pains me to admit it, I think that’s a bad idea.
I also think, however, that getting rid of Dilbert-style management headaches, and letting scientists and engineers do more actual worthwhile work with fewer hassles, would help as much as raising salaries. I hear a lot of complaints about how government agencies and corporate research operations contrive to suck all the fun out of science, and that’s a bummer. Yeah, law practice isn’t as much fun as it used to be either, but at least that’s been compensated for, to a degree, by skyrocketing salaries.
UPDATE: Reader Matthew Christensen emails:
It’s not just pay that keeps people from becoming scientists — it’s also the long path to a job and the restricted possibilities. I was a chemistry major in college (back in ’94) and all set to become a scientists. But my advisor explained the realities of doctorate and postdoctorate life, and then pointed out that even after that you’re now in the highly competitive world of academia.
He did not end up getting tenure.
Anyway, I chose to go into programming, which is more like being a lawyer in terms of pay. My first job was at a lab and I saw what my advisor was cautioning me of — people working long hours for little pay. And the “reward” is eventually you run your own lab — which means spending your time chasing grants rather than actually doing science.
Obviously people do go into science, and god bless ‘em. I just don’t think it’s just about being lower paid.
It’s a different situation for engineers, of course. I think the lower paid counts there — why is it i can easily make twice, as an uncertified programmer, what a certified and graduate-degree engineer makes? Well, I suppose the answer is “the market.”
Good point, and this gets at some of the “quality of life” issues I was trying to invoke. Societally, we need big scientific advances. But we don’t reward the people who produce them very well.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ron Hardin emails on the pay difference: “You get an army of affadavits instead of scientists.”
“An Army of Affidavits.” Now there’s an appealing concept. Sheesh.
IT’S THE FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY of the beginning of the end of Communism. ShrinkWrapped looks back.
SOME ADVICE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE: I’ve got an oped in today’s Wall Street Journal on the ports crisis. It’s subscription-only, but you should be able to read it here. John J. Miller thinks it’s “short and smart,” and has already put up pretty much the same excerpt I would have.
UPDATE: Some thoughts in response, from Newsbeat1.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Speaking of the ports, Jim Geraghty wonders if the American public has reached a tipping point in terms of its attitude toward the Muslim world (“my sense that in recent weeks, a large chunk of Americans just decided that they no longer have any faith in the good sense or non-hostile nature of the Muslim world”). That’s something I was suggesting in our podcast interview with Claire Berlinski (recorded yesterday, up later in the week), where I said that I thought the hostility over the port deal was tied to the Cartoon Wars and unhappiness over the Bush Administration’s response. Read all of Jim’s post for a not-very-cheerful take.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun weighs in with a bit more advice for the White House.
TURKEY GIVES UP ON JOINING THE E.U.: “Ankara is demanding an official apology from Copenhagen for the twelve Muhammad drawings published last September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Unless the Danish government of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen distances itself from the cartoons (see them here, halfway down the page) and apologizes to Muslims worldwide, no bridge-building with the Islamic world is possible, said Namik Tan, the official spokesman of the Turkish Foreign Ministry.”
This is a blow to the Turkish secular state, in more ways than one. It’s also ammunition, unfortunately, for those who argue that Islam is simply incompatible with the modern world. Of course, given the European tendency toward appeasement, maybe Turkey figures that this is the best way to be voted in.
UPDATE: A bit of happy news: The report above is apparently in error, though the details are unclear.
ONE MORE PHOTO from the Danish Embassy rally. Reader Jonathan G. Williams, who sent it, writes: “Yes, those things they’ve got are danishes. (Cherry, I think.)”
And Mark Tapscott notes an email from Linda Seebach of the Rocky Mountain News:
UPDATE VI: Power of Blogs
Linda Seebach, veteran Rocky Mountain News editorial columnist, emails this note about the demonstration’s coverage in the Blogosphere compared to that of the mainstream media:
“It might be of interest to note that the first wire service story to cross our desks was from Cox News Service by way of the NYT News Service, and it moved at 3:22 p.m. our time (though it had been announced on the Cox budget nearly three hours earlier). By then it had been covered on a dozen blogsand I had had time to fashion an editorial out of Hitchens’ speech.”
It’s that whole Army of Davids thing. But you knew that by now.
And Chester has published a transcript of Hitchens’ speech.
BIKINIS OVER BURKAS: I’m cool with that.
ANDY BOWERS unveils a new podcasting experiment.
And reader Patrick Rockefeller sends the photo at bottom below, which I liked, along with this report: “It was a decent sized crowd full of good people of divergent political persuasions who came together to support the Danes in their fight against violence and the reign of fear. Celebrity attendees included Chris Hitchens (the organizer), Bill Kristol, Andrew Sullivan and Clifford May. It’s nice to see we can still stack a roster for the defense of civilization.”
UPDATE: Two video clips are now posted at Vital Perspective.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Corsair has a report and many more photos.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Ian Schwartz has video of Christopher Hitchens speaking at the Embassy rally.
MORE: Mark Tapscott posts a full report.
And here are further reports from Grim and from the Washington, DC correspondent for David’s Medienkritik. I’m wearing a Medienkritik t-shirt right now! Finally, John Tabin notes that marchers came from as far as California.
READER KEITH GUARD sends these thoughts on Hybrid driver etiquette:
It occurred to me a couple of days ago that this may need to be said…
It is NOT OK, in a 55 MPH no-passing zone on a rural highway, with cars behind you, to drive at a slow enough speed to avoid engaging the gasoline engine.
As a hybrid driver, I thought you might be interested. But as an RX-8 driver, I doubt that you’re part of the problem.
I should hope not.
ANOTHER U.N. PEACEKEEPER SEX ABUSE SCANDAL STORY: They just keep appearing.
VITAL PERSPECTIVE has posted photos from the Danish Embassy march today. There are quite a few, but I thought that this one was the most emblematic.
We’re promised video later; I’ll let you know.
I hope that this event gets the attention it deserves; it would be a poor reflection on the press if the only way to get press coverage at an embassy involved setting fire to it.
We’ll see how that turns out.
UPDATE: Reader Brendan Murphy sends some more photographs. Still no video on Vital Perspectives, but I’ll post a note when they get it up.
THIS MILBLOG CONFERENCE LOOKS GOOD:
The 2006 Milblog Conference will take place in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 22, 2006. The conference is designed to bring milbloggers together for one full day of interesting discussion on topics associated with milblogging. We will explore the history of milblogs, as well as what the future may hold for this medium which the military community is using to tell their stories.
Austin Bay will emcee, and Andi of Andi’s World is the organizer.
LARRY SUMMERS: Faculty hated him, but students love him:
If Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers was worried about how the undergraduates would greet him Wednesday night at his first scheduled event since announcing his resignation, those fears quickly were put to rest.
He got a standing ovation after he walked in. He got a standing ovation before he left. A row of students with red letters painted on their chests spelled out “Larry.” . . .
The show of student loyalty has come as a surprise to many faculty members and administrators at Harvard, who grew to loathe Summers during a five-year tenure that brought a raw blast of politics to the 370-year-old institution.
It’s not surprising. Students have a much longer-term interest in Harvard’s reputational capital than do faculty. Thus they have more reason to support someone who wants to fix the place. But then there’s also this take:
“The Harvard student body looks more like America than the Harvard faculty,” he said. “That’s what’s happened.”
Obviously, Harvard needs to diversify its faculty.
ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS INFESTED with moles for the homeschooling movement? Sometimes it seems like it.
IN THE MAIL: Charles Jones’ Boys of ’67: From Vietnam to Iraq, the Extraordinary Story of a Few Good Men. I’ve got a couple of colleagues who served in the Marines during that period. Maybe I’ll ask one to do a review.
THE COUNTERTERRORISM BLOG has a roundup on the attempted attack on Saudi oil facilities today.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is back from Iraq with a report: “It is an odd war, because the side that I think is losing garners all the press, whether by blowing up the great golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, or blowing up an American each day. Yet we hear nothing of the other side that is ever so slowly, shrewdly undermining the enemy.”
A METHODIST Army of Davids?
NOBODY’S PERFECT: H&R Block gets its own taxes wrong.
DANISH EMBASSY REMINDER:
Please be outside the Embassy of Denmark, 3200 Whitehaven Street (off Massachusetts Avenue) between noon and 1 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 24. Quietness and calm are the necessities, plus cheerful conversation. Danish flags are good, or posters reading “Stand By Denmark” and any variation on this theme (such as “Buy Carlsberg/ Havarti/ Lego”) The response has been astonishing and I know that the Danes are appreciative. But they are an embassy and thus do not of course endorse or comment on any demonstration. Let us hope, however, to set a precedent for other cities and countries. Please pass on this message to friends and colleagues.
That’s from Christopher Hitchens. He’ll be there. If you’re in the DC area, consider joining him. And if you take pictures, send me some!
UPDATE: Reader Douglas Bass emails that there will be a similar demonstration in front of the Danish consulate in Minneapolis.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Via Lee Harris, another way to show support.
GOOGLE, CISCO, YAHOO! MICROSOFT and Chinese Internet censorship: A video interview with Tom Lantos over at P.J. Media’s China Syndrome blog.
MAINSTREAM MEDIA VS. THE BLOGS: A close shave.
FREE SERVERS for bloggers.
MORE COUP RUMORS in the Philippines.
PATRIOT ACT MISSION CREEP:
If you thought al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents were the major threats facing America, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) says you’re wrong. According to Dent, “The growing availability of methamphetamine is a form of terrorism unto itself.” Many of Dent’s colleagues apparently agree, so they’ve attached surveillance, “smuggling”, and “money laundering” provisions to the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act. . . .
Ironically, some Democrats who objected to National Security Agency wiretaps in December actually championed provisions that step on privacy in the name of stopping meth. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.), who voted for a filibuster after the revelation of the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program in December, co-sponsored the CMA and helped insert it into the PATRIOT Act conference report after failed attempts to pass it through other legislation. The new provisions were stalled with the filibuster and temporary PATRIOT extensions, but now appear to be poised for passage with the compromise bill.
Sigh. Well I told you so, a long time ago.
PUBLIUS looks at the politics of the Iraqi mosque bombings.
U.S. CARTOONISTS strike back.
STRATEGYPAGE: “Signs That the United States is About to Bomb Iran.”
IN IRAQ IN THE MUSLIM WORLD? Shia riots spread beyond Iraq. The Zarqawi strategy seems to be backfiring.
UPDATE: More here: “The one bright side of all this is that more Sunni Arab leaders will lose their illusions about Sunni Arab power, and move more vigorously in making peace with the government.”
MICHELLE MALKIN IS back at her own blog.
PATRICK FITZGERALD, unconstitutional?
MICKEY KAUS: “The New Road to Riches: Public radio!”
ADVICE FOR TECH ENTREPRENEURS from Michael Malone:
The Blogosphere is the biggest business opportunity out there. Just imagine: an estimated 20 million-plus blogs, and not one has yet figured out how to effectively monetize its product. A shakeout is coming. The blogs that succeed will be the ones that figure out how to generate revenues through some combination of advertising and subscriptions. Both of those revenue sources largely depend upon traffic. Traffic is driven by visibility, and visibility is largely the product of promotion. And bloggers are learning that sending today’s screed to Instapundit in hopes that he’ll mention it, or waiting around for CNN to call, won’t cut it.
I dunno, it still seems like a pretty popular approach.
FIFTH CALUMNY: Great title, interesting post.