December 3, 2006
SARBANES-OXLEY: not as bad for businesses as some other things.
SARBANES-OXLEY: not as bad for businesses as some other things.
IF SUPREME COURT JUSTICES were rock stars.
DIGITAL CAMERA CARNIVAL UPDATE: Okay, I keep getting camera questions, which suggests to me that somehow people have missed the Digital Camera Carnival. You can find it here: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.
Not much interest so far in the video carnival, so if I don’t get any more entries I’ll just post what I’ve gotten soon.
TIGERHAWK OFFERS HELP for journalism students under time pressure.
“DO NOT TAKE COUNSEL OF YOUR FEARS.” It’s good advice.
PUBLIUS ROUNDS UP photos and reports from the Venezuelan elections.
UPDATE: Rumors that things are going badly for Chavez may be true: “Officials identifying themselves as members of a state regulatory agency forced the U.S.-based Spanish-language TV network Telemundo to halt transmission Sunday of its presidential election coverage.”
Hard to believe they’d do that if he were winning handily.
ANOTHER UPDATE: But apparently, they would.
MICKEY KAUS: “Deutsch, an ‘advertising mogul’ and CNBC host, would make a perfect Murphy Brown or Sister Souljah, no? He’s rich and defenseless! … Hillary doesn’t need any more Souljahs, of course (she needs whatever the opposite is). But Barack Obama might.”
WREATHS at Arlington.
CHEATING on a journalism ethics exam? You can’t make this stuff up. Sadly, you don’t have to.
LABTESTING THE PLAYSTATION THREE: Pretty good marks, but since it’s still showing as “unavailable,” it’s hard for me to get too excited. I think that Sony has made a mistake by launching without enough machines to meet demand. I wasn’t in the market for one (though I might have considered it as a cheap way to get a Blu-Ray player) and I’m still somewhat irritated to see that I can’t get one . . . .
UPDATE: Reader Joseph Burns emails:
I saw your little write up about the PS3 and think you should check out Nintendo’s Wii. I’ve got one and it’s a total blast. I’m you’re typical colelge guy, but bringing it home for thanksgiving, every member of my family played it and loved it. We even used the SD slot to view family photos for the senile grandmothers. Nintendo’s kind of a ‘david’ in this market, in many ways (although the market is so huge, the company with $6 billion in cash is a ‘david’.) While Microsoft and Sony want their machines to be everything to everyone, Nintendo just plays games. And it does it really, really well.
One of my students came to class looking really tired the other day, and said that he and his roommates had gotten a Wii and stayed up until 6 a.m. playing it. Just what I need! Apparently, the motion controller is really good. . . .
Oh, well, it’s showing as “unavailable” too, so maybe I was too hard on Sony, above. Upside: Guess I don’t even have to try to fight temptation!
A LOOK AT MEDIA FRAMING and political/war coverage.
IF THE LEAKS ARE TO BE BELIEVED — and given such a group of experienced leakmeisters, I suspect they are — then the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations are likely to be weak tea indeed: Basically, we shall continue to muddle through, while rededicating ourselves to finishing the job at a time, and in a manner, not clearly specified.
Well, muddling through is underrated as a tactic, actually, and it’s no surprise that a bunch of old-time Establishment guys haven’t come up with anything revolutionary. In fact, it seems as if Donald Rumsfeld, judging by his classified memo thoughtfully leaked to the New York Times, remains more open to new ideas than many of his critics, who often seem stuck in 1968.
So can the blogosphere do better? I’m going to try a blog symposium on Iraq, Iran, and Syria. I want some new ideas — beyond “cut and run” or “stay the course” — on things we’re not doing that we should be doing. Here’s just one example — outright war with Iran is unlikely and probably a bad idea. But the mullarchy that runs Iran is corrupt and unpopular. What about targeting the mullahs — personally, and more particularly in the form of their properties, their business interests both abroad and in Iraq, and their partners in such business interests. And maybe seeing if we can bribe a few while we’re at it. The goal would be to bring Iran’s interference in Iraq to a close.
Is it a good idea? You tell me. And add some other ideas of your own. Put “Iraq Symposium” in the subject line, and add a link to your blog entry. I’ll pull them together in two or three days.
UPDATE: Here’s Charles Krauthammer’s suggestion.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Just to be clear, I want links to blog posts. I can’t possibly run a whole lot of lengthy emails in their entirety; I need things I can link to.
And here are some thoughts by John Wixted on the Rumsfeld memo.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON writes on war and more.
COOKWARE RESPONSES: In response to reader Mike Skelton’s question about nonstick cookware, below, several readers weigh in. “Lycurgus” writes: “Recommendation: TEFAL. OK, it is French but despite that shortcoming it is the best non-stick cookware made and the price is reasonable.”
That would be what’s sold as T-Fal, in the United States.
Mike Daley goes off-topic — in the blogosphere? Heaven forfend! — and writes:
You should use this opportunity to plug the best cooking tool you’ve yet to discover. Thanks to your research, I’m a truly pleased/happy owner of one of these.
He’s referring to the All-Clad slow cooker — also available from Williams-Sonoma — which I have indeed found to be a great purchase and tool. It’s not nonstick, though it does clean up easily. (You can save some money by getting one of these instead, though, and it’s probably about as good.) One of Daley’s recipes can be found here, and my recipe for Lamb and Guinness Stew can be found here.
Back to our actual topic, nonstick cookware, reader Anthony Luccarelli emails:
We have a set of these (link takes you to the 10″) in 12″, 10″, and 8″. We got ours at Target.
They are wonderful. They are heavy, and heat evenly and well. The silicon handles are nice and make the pans easy to maneuver. Even though these are dishwasher safe, we hand wash them because they are non-stick.
We’ve ruined so many “non-stick” pans that we are being anal about these. Nothing higher than a medium flame, wait for the pan to cool down before washing, and hand wash only.
The pans have been with us for about eight months. The 12″ gets the most useage, and so far the non-stick surface is like it was brand-new.
Proper care is important, which is why I tend to favor stainless-steel — the Insta-Wife tends to put non-dishwasher-safe stuff in the dishwasher, and metal utensils get used no matter what, if they’re handiest.
Reader Bill Roper emails:
We got a set of the Farberware Vibrance Red cookware below and have been very happy with it. The non-stick finish has held up well (unlike some more expensive sets that we’ve had) and they’re hefty enough to distribute heat well.
At the time, they were giving away a free matching thing called something like an “everyday pan”. It had two handles and was designed to brown meat on the stove and them put it in the oven to finish. It’s turned out to be
pretty handy for, say, browning chicken, then covering it with pasta sauce and putting it in the oven to cook through. However, I don’t see it listed right now. Here’s the Calphalon version below, but the last batch
of Calphalon stuff that we got had a non-stick finish that didn’t survive long.
The other thing that we picked up at the same time was a non-stick saucepan with a silicone handle that’s safe to transfer to the oven. This allows you to boil noodles for a casserole, drain them, and put them back
in the boiling pot to bake in the oven. Bed, Bath, and Beyond had these last year, but I don’t see them on-line right now.
But maybe here’s an answer to my Insta-Wife cookware issues — reader Tony Valle writes:
We have been using Scanpan for more than 12 years and I happen to think it’s not only some of the best non-stick cookware on the market, it’s economical to boot.
The ceramic coating means it’s safe to use metal utensils — unlike most other non-sticks — and it doesn’t discolor or change the flavor of your food. When the non-stick property starts to wane, you “refresh” the pan by scrubbing it with the included stainless steel scrubby, and you’re back to a nice smooth surface.
Reader Rich Barry emails:
In a word Calphalon! It is very well built, the nonstick doesn’t seem to chip or fade and the cookware is built to take a 100 years of pounding. Even better, you can find this stuff on sale at Macy’s. As an alternative to nonstick, give high grade copper cookware a look. Mauviel is terrific for cooking at lower tempertures than aluminum, steel or iron. This means less likely to burn stuff. Copper is different to cleanup as it will tarnish but a mixture of lime juice and salt takes it right off.
The Insta-Wife managed to ruin my Calphalon in short order, which is why I switched to stainless! I shudder to think what would happen with copper, but your experiences may differ. . . .
Reader Andrew Cohill says stay away from nonstick:
I swore off nonstick cookware many years ago, suspicious that the continuous flaking of the Teflon into your food might not be good for you. Sure enough, I was right:
Opinions differ over the dangers, but to me, it is just not worth the risk.
For non stick pans, I recommend investing in All Clad pans:
The copper ones are best, but the triple ply All Clad design (all stainless interiors) eliminates hot spots, which is what causes a lot of burning and sticking. Spray a little Pam on the pan and use some olive oil or coconut oil, and you have all natural nonstick, with no chlorinated flouride compounds (Teflon) flaking off into your food.
And of course, a good cast iron skillet is a kitchen essential, and properly maintained, nothing sticks to it.
Cast iron is good. Once again, however, for me the dishwasher issue rears its ugly head. Again, your results may differ.
Kitchen expert Megan McArdle — good-looking, works at The Economist and she can cook! — emails this recommendation:
I recommended Calphalon One in my annual kitchen carnival, which is not quite as non-sticky as regular nonstick pans are. But unlike regular nonstick, the teflon is infused right into the aluminum. That means the pans will sear your food (very hard to do in a regular nonstick pan), and it they last; my experience with regular nonstick has been that eventually the teflon gets damaged, and then you have to throw the pan away. Also, you can use brillo on these if anything *does* stick. They are solid anodized pieces with riveted handles that distribute heat beautifully, and should last a decade or more of heavy use.
Jay Meadors emails:
I have been using a Sitram Cypernox non-stick 20 cm frypan for many years. I cook two meals a day in it, every day, and am amazed at how well it has held up. The claims the manufacturer make are true, based on my experience. It was not an inexpensive purchase, but based on how well it has performed, it is an excellent value.
I’d never heard of that brand. Barbara Skolaut emails:
Glenn, I’ve had great luck with Anolon cookware. I have a large and a small frying pan, and went out of my way to order a wok. I love it – it’s heavy, cooks evenly, and cleans like a dream. I bought the smallest pan mostly by accident when I needed to replace the (cheaper and worn out) frying pan I used most often, and fell in love. I’ve not tried their saucepans since I don’t need them for the kind of cooking I usually do, but I’m sure they would be wonderful too.
If, before I owned my first pan, someone would have told me I’d wax poetic about a frying pan, I’d have said they were nuts. Now I can’t recommend the brand highly enough.
Yeah, and the amount of email I’m getting on this topic suggests that it’s not just you, Barbara! This post only scratches the surface, but it’s all the cookware-blogging I can manage at the moment. I may do a followup post if I get time.
WHEN ARE GUNS NOT NEWS? When they’re used to stop a crime rather than commit one.
WRITING IN THE BOSTON HERALD, columnist Jules Crittenden encourages newspapers to “Say no to the AP’s shoddy work:”
When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it. Thatâ€™s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. Thatâ€™s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete. . . .
The AP, once a just-the-facts news delivery service, has lost its rudder. It has become a partisan, anti-American news agency that seeks to undercut a wartime president and American soldiers in the field. It is providing fraudulent, shoddy goods. It doesnâ€™t even recognize it has a problem.
This is the point at which, another big American industry learned, people start buying Japanese. But as an American newspaper, if you want to provide your readers with affordable regional, national and international news, you have to deal with the AP. If newspapers donâ€™t have an alternative, readers do. Itâ€™s called the Internet. Thatâ€™s why newspapers, if they donâ€™t want to be dragged further into irrelevance and disrepute, have to tell The Associated Press they are dissatisfied with its product.
The Internet will even empower competitors in the news-service business. In fact, it already is doing so, as blogger-embeds like Bill Roggio, Bill Ardolino, Michael Yon, etc. are demonstrating. This is just the beginning, though.
Crittenden also has some cautionary notes for bloggers, at his own blog.
USING GENETICALLY-ENGINEERED VIRUSES to research HIV:
From a medical standpoint, what makes this viral Frankenstein special is that it possesses twin traits not found together in any other virus. First, it can replicate in macaquesâ€”monkeys commonly used in medical researchâ€”causing an AIDS-like illness. Thatâ€™s crucial, because macaques are ideal vessels in which to study how immune-compromising viruses do their dirty work. Second, the new pathogen is susceptible to a full complement of antiretroviral drugs, the primary tools used to treat HIV-positive patients. This means that, for the first time, researchers can both induce and suppress an ailment that mimics the defining aspects of human HIV infection.
Be sure to keep it contained! Plus, a look at promising new gene-based vaccines.
CHRISTOPHER SMITH says that I’m overly pessimistic about electronic voting machines.
JOHN J. MILLER offers a challenge: “Nancy Pelosi keeps bragging about the Democrats’ first 100 hours. How about a GOP Congress that has a final 100 hours that reminds voters about what Republicans stand for?”
THE KLINGONS AMONG US: Vote Worf in 2008!
LONDON POISONING UPDATE: This isn’t that surprising: “Scientists at the U.K.’s Atomic Weapons Establishment in Aldermaston, west of London, have traced the polonium 210 found in London to a nuclear power plant in Russia.”
ME, AUSTIN BAY, AND RICHARD FERNANDEZ: This week’s Blog Week in Review is up.
BYRON YORK: “it seems illustrative of the Obama phenomenon that so many Democrats have gotten so excited about him and don’t even know his name.”
With most candidates, the less you know about them, the more excited you are.
COOKWARE BLEG: Reader Mike Skelton emails: “I know you have posted on cookware in the past, have you any new information to pass on? We’re looking for a new set of non-stick pans.”
Got any advice for him? Other than this, I haven’t bought anything nonstick in a while.
DUKE RAPE UPDATE: KC Johnson reports that the Duke Board of Trustees just met and, well:
The Bob Steel-led Board of Trustees has just concluded its regularly scheduled meeting. The Board offered no comment on the serious conflict of interest allegations leveled against Steel by a left-to-right coalition of good-government groups in yesterdayâ€™s Washington Post. But the Board did make two movesâ€”one by action, one by inactionâ€”that made perfectly clear where the Board stands on Dukeâ€™s future.
In its final meeting before the deadline to apply to Dukeâ€™s Class of 2011, the Board remained silent about Mike Nifongâ€™s â€œseparate-but-equalâ€ system of justice for Duke students.
Parents considering spending the more than $40,000 annual tuition to send their son or daughter to Duke should, therefore, have no doubt that the institution will remain silent in face of a prosecutor who employs a different set of procedures for Duke students than those used for all other Durham residents. Prospective parents also now can be assured that the BOT has no complaints with the Durham PDâ€™s official policy of meting out greater punishment to Duke students than to all other Durham residents for the same misdemeanor-level offenses.
Many might argue that with this silence, Dukeâ€™s trustees have failed in their fiduciary duty to the institution. But Steel, obviously, has a different vision of his proper role. . . . With its actions and non-actions today, the Board responded to those who have been urging Duke to take a clearer stand on the case. Not only is the Board unwilling to challenge Nifongâ€™s â€œseparate-but-equalâ€ system for Duke students, but it went out of its way to reward the faculty who have acted as Nifongâ€™s campus cheerleaders.
There’s much, much more.
AN ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE QUESTION: “What if the Secretary of Homeland Security used general funds to build a mosque and pay an Imam?”
REYES IN, HARMAN AND HASTINGS OUT: The Wall Street Journal has a roundup. It’s a free link.
IN THE MAIL: Transgender Rights, from the University of Minnesota Press. It’s well-reviewed (“A must for transfolk and their allies!”) and raises interesting questions. Are the transgendered “disabled?” I’d say no, but I confess I haven’t given the subject a lot of thought.
UPDATE: Reader Diane Wilson emails:
As a â€œtransgendered folkâ€ (and a long-time reader of Instapundit) I have to speak up and say NO! I transitioned more than 11 years ago, without losing my job, my relationship, my church, or my friends. Over the next several years, I survived a dozen layoffs as my employer (Nortel Networks, a major telecom equipment and software company) imploded. I chaired a major, week-long professional conference (Usability Professionalsâ€™ Association, 2003 and 2004 conferences). I now work for a consulting firm, where I interact with our clientâ€™s business partners and customers every day. Iâ€™m active in my church (Unitarian) as a lay leader and facilitator of small group ministry.
In what way would I be considered disabled? I donâ€™t get it.
WHEN CLUELESS PR PEOPLE target bloggers.
VAGINOFASCISM: Would that be fascism with a human, er, face?
RICHARD MINITER HAS MORE on the flying imams: “Now new information is emerging that suggests it was all a stunt designed to weaken security.”
Read the whole thing.
MICHAEL LEDEEN is now blogging for PJ Media.
THANKS TO THE MIRACLE OF DIGITAL VIDEO RECORDING, I’ve been watching a lot more of Larry Kudlow’s show lately, and he’s definitely on a roll — unlike some righty television and radio shows that have seemed in a funk since the elections, he’s stayed sharp and on-point.
Tonight he had Steven Emerson on, talking about jihadists in the United States — the topic of Emerson’s new book, which he was of course promoting. I’m inclined to believe that there’s a lot of money and a lot of highly dubious influence flowing from Saudi Arabia and Iran (mostly the former) to the United States. But, still, not much in the way of action, five years since 9/11. Why? I’m not entirely sure.
EASTERN EUROPE IS UNHAPPY WITH THE UNITED STATES: “‘Our boys are good enough to die in Iraq, but not good enough to get a tourist visa in America,’ a senior Baltic politician complained to me recently.”
We should be making nice to them. Very nice. It doesn’t cost much, and they’ll notice. And it’s the right thing to do.
UPDATE: Reader Ben Poulos emails:
The people complaining definitely have cause. It is extremely hard for most people to get a visa, even student visas, and when someone in the US is willing to sponsor the applicants (like family visits or similar friendly visits)
One of the major problems is the cost; we charge $100 for each application, and then there is another charge for the visa, if approved.
For some context, $100 dollars in Ukraine is about 2 months pay for a basic job. Not even a bad job; just a normal job. It’s a huge barrier for people who want to come here for a visit. Pretty much the only people who can pay the cost are the really rich, and the mafia. The majority of the people in a country can’t afford the visit.
I realize that the money is intended to keep non serious applicants from gumming up the works. However, there are other ways we can provide disincentives to non-serious visa applications, and still make it possible for normal people to apply for a visa. We should at least have a program where the fee can be waved in certain situations. The fee is also meant to pay for our costs, but $100 dollars seems a bit much for a 15 minute visa interview.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jeffrey Rank emails:
Eastern Europeans are getting the short end of the stick, definitely. However, as EU accession occurs, things should become somewhat less stringent. That’s the hope among the people I know there.
Strange, immigration demands high ratings, officially, for Eastern Europeans because they could come here and stay illegally, perhaps being exploited, adding to the crime rate, and/or “doing jobs Americans won’t do.” The question then is, why just them?
Perhaps the Romanians and Bulgarians need to sue us for discrimination. Until they do that, I’m not sure a group of people who understand the horror of socialism and the expansionism of Islam would be the sort of chap this country needs.
Yes, we couldn’t have that. And another longtime reader/emailer writes:
Ben Poulos is correct. My wife is from Poland, she and her mother are now US Citizens living here. My wife’s sister is a surgical nurse living in Warsaw. She is married, they own a home and have 3 teenage children.
My wife’s sister has been trying to get a tourist visa for 4 years. She wants to visit her mother, who is 82, before she dies. She can’t get one because – she is told – she is too likely to overstay her visa and stay here illegally. She’s offered to put up the deed to her house as a bond, but she’s ignored.
(If you publish this, please don’t use my name)
Meanwhile illegal immigrants from Mexico face few barriers.
EUGENE VOLOKH POINTS OUT that the Washington Supreme Court just ruled that citizens have a right to keep and bear arms under both the Washington state and federal constitutions.
He also reports that the Kentucky Supreme Court recently found the same thing, with regard to the Kentucky and the federal constitutions.
SOME MUSIC REVIEWS from the Insta-Wife.
GATEWAY PUNDIT IS ALL OVER THE ICE STORM IN ST. LOUIS that has 500,000 people without power.
The folks without power probably can’t read it, but for the rest of you here’s a blackout survival guide from the folks at Popular Mechanics, and some guidelines on home generator safety. Generators can be useful, but they’re dangerous if not used carefully.
LITVINENKO UPDATE: “Scientists probing the death of Alexander Litvinenko said on Friday that two more people had been contaminated with the same radioactive poison that killed the former Russian spy.”
WALTER OLSON: “Tumbleweeds are not yet blowing through Manhattan’s vacant streets, but if New York is to hold onto its precarious pre-eminence in global finance, the US will need to get serious about reforming its costly and punitive legal environment for capital issuance. That was the message from yesterday’s much-awaited report by an expert panel on the competitiveness of the country’s financial markets convened by Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary.”
I think there’s an excessive degree of complacency on this topic.
Authoritarian states like China, Iran and Egypt are having trouble dealing with the burgeoning number of critical online diaries. These blogs, which multiply by the second, expose news about incidents that many regimes would prefer to keep hushed up. In many countries, blogs are giving people their first real taste of democracy. . . .
It is this power of information that has made bloggers as feared as they are vulnerable in many countries.
Blogs are generally seen as a part of the “vague media.” Since their inception in the mid-1990s, they have multiplied exponentially. Nowadays a new Internet diary is launched every second, and the number of blogs doubles every five months. Forty-one percent are in Japanese, 28 percent in English and 14 percent in Chinese. The German contribution to a many-faceted “blogosphere” uninhibited by convention lies at a mere 1 percent, leading the German blogger community to ironically and self-desparagingly refer to itself as a kind of blogging backwater.
Der Spiegel, however, misses one German blog that is taking on the apologists for autocracy.
FINALLY, A WAR PLAN THAT MAKES SENSE:
Just days before the Iraq Study Group releases its top-secret report, President George Bush today ordered the Pentagon to preemptively redeploy U.S. troops from Iraq to â€œneutral neighboring countries including Iran and Syria.â€
â€œIâ€™ve said that I wonâ€™t order our troops to make a graceful exit from Iraq,â€ said Mr. Bush, â€œBut I never ruled out making a graceful entrance into Iran and Syria where I expect our partners in peace to welcome us with open and raised arms.â€
The order surprised many, coming as it does on the heels of news that the Pentagon has discovered â€œsmoking gunâ€ evidence that terrorists in Iraq use weapons shipped from Iranian factories to kill U.S. troops and others.
But Mr. Bush said the Iraq Study Group, Kofi Annan and other Democrats have convinced him that engagement with Iran and Syria is crucial to finding a â€œholistic solutionâ€ to the Iraq situation.
THE FLYING IMAMS: “What didn’t happen.”
AUSTIN BAY looks at why autocrats dislike Bush.
JOHN TAMMES ROUNDS UP more news from Afghanistan that you may have missed.
TIM LYNCH LOOKS AT double standards in police shootings.
DANIEL HENNINGER tries to assess the Pope’s divisions.
EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Star Wars redux.
GENERAL JOHN ABIZAID, in The Harvard Gazette:
America cannot walk away from Iraq without risking another world war. That warning was sounded at the Kennedy School forum Nov. 17 by Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), the man responsible for U.S. military strategy in the Middle East.
“We can walk away from this enemy, but they will not walk away from us,” Abizaid told the forum audience during a discussion titled “The Long War.”
“We have not failed yet and we will not fail if we all understand what we have to do. If we can stay together nothing can stop us and we can make the world a better place.”
Abizaid cited what he called the three greatest challenges facing the world – the Arab-Israeli conflict; the rise of extremist groups “with a dark vision of the future”; and, specifically, the dangers posed by “Shia revolutionary thought.”
“Where these things come together is in Iraq,” he said. “It’s absolutely not an easy thing to do,” Abizaid went on to say. “But the sacrifice that is necessary to stabilize Iraq must be sustained in order for the region itself to become more resilient against these three challenges.”
And while admitting that the recent upturn in sectarian violence in Iraq is disturbing, Abizaid said politicians cannot set arbitrary deadlines for the withdrawal of American troops.
Read the whole thing — and remember that the big rap against Rumsfeld was supposedly that he “didn’t listen to the generals.” So will the Democrats, and Rumsfeld’s successors, listen to this general?
IN THE MAIL: A bunch of CDs from Columbia Records, which is now trying to market to the blogosphere. It’s an interesting selection: Five for Fighting’s Two Lights, John Mayer’s Continuum, System of a Down’s Mezmerize, Bob Dylan’s Modern Times, and Tony Bennett’s Duets. Yeah, it’s an eclectic collection, though I could have done with more techno and less pop. This is more the Insta-Wife’s kind of stuff, so maybe I’ll get her to post some reviews. Still it’s interesting that the music companies are targeting bloggers for their promotional efforts now.
Another World AIDS Day has arrived today and, although hard to believe, the situation across the globe is worse than before.
The AIDS epidemic is described by the United Nations as the “most destructive in human history” and accounting for more than 25 million deaths so far. Leaders of rich and poor nations should be commended for applying their citizens’ largesse in fighting the disease. But the UN, and ultimately these leaders, must be equally criticized for failing to deliver accountability where its programs are concerned.
So it is with some interest that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said earlier this week:
“The challenge now is to deliver on all the promises that governments have made. Leaders must hold themselves accountable â€” and be held accountable by all of us. Accountability â€” the theme of [this year's] World AIDS Day…requires every president and prime minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that AIDS stops with me.”
It is ironic that the accountability that Mr. Annan so passionately speaks of has been thin on the ground when it comes to the UN’s promotion of treatment for HIV.
Where the U.N. is concerned, accountability is very thin on the ground in general.
A LOOK AT THE A.P., MEDIA BIAS, and things “everybody knows.”
ARNOLD KLING LOOKS AT education and entrepreneurship. “I have been losing interest in the contests between Democrats and Republicans in Washington. I am more anxious about the outcome of the struggle between innovators and incumbents in the field of education.”
THE ASSOCIATION OF MUSLIM SCHOLARS splits.
AT THE LIFEBOAT FOUNDATION, The A-Prize:
It is awarded to the person or organization responsible for creating an Animat/Artificial life form with an emphasis on the safety of the researchers, public, and environment OR the person or organization who shows that an Animat/Artificial life form has been created. (The second case is to uncover unpublicized or unsafe projects.)
Kind of interesting.
WELL, SOMEBODY HAS TO DO IT: The Coalition to Preserve Civilization.
This is more plausible than Pat Buchanan’s jewish-conspiracy theory, but the Putin regime’s history of poisoning troublesome opponents with exotic substances makes that seem the most likely explanation here.
I’VE BEEN WONDERING why everybody makes a big deal about the ISG report leak — it seems as if it stands for more or less the current plan. The Mudville Gazette seems to see things the same way, describing it as a “360 degree about face,” which seems about right.
No big surprise — it’s not like the ISG is made up of a bunch of guys who’ve spent their lives thinking outside the box. And the Mudville Gazette notes that the Security Council has just renewed the mandate for the international force in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi government. So this seems to be much ado about nothing, as a “cut and run” doesn’t seem imminent, but there’s no real sign of a “new direction” either. And now that the Security Council has acted, wouldn’t it be, ahem, unilateral of us to pull out?
UPDATE: Another take: “Reading the Washington Post, doesn’t it sound a bit like they’re going to just re-serve current policy?”
Stay the course! Or as Greyhawk puts it in the comments: “We are going to end up going in a ‘new direction’ that is the same direction we were going in before, except it will be new. Hope this clarifies.”
ASKING MUSLIMS TO SPEAK OUT in defense of a journalist under a fatwa of death over the Danish cartoons.
I’M WATCHING EUGENE VOLOKH AND DENNIS PRAGER on this topic — of which I was only vaguely aware — of whether newly-elected Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison should take his oath of office on a Bible or on the Koran. Volokh seems to have the better of this argument by a huge margin. In fact, I think that Prager’s argument that oaths must be on the Bible is absolutely nonsensical. But weirdly Paula Zahn keeps cutting Eugene off. I’m sorry, but Prager’s reference to “the American Bible” as the root of the Constitution is ridiculous. What’s “the American Bible?” And whatever happened to that bit from the Constitution about “no religious test”?
UPDATE: Rather than Prager, I recommend reading this post by Mark Daniels. I think you’ll be able to find the key bit on your own.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Video, courtesy of Hot Air.
I USED TO BE BI-CURIOUS, but now I’ve just gone all the way to becoming “bi,” as I’m now in possession of this entree to the Mac world. So far it seems pretty cool, although every time I try to post in movable type I get a popup warning that it says I can disable by setting “safari_warning=’false’” — but I can’t figure out how to do that.
UPDATE: Solved that problem — by switching to Firefox!
RICHARD MINITER is now blogging for PJ Media.
POPULAR MECHANICS: “Experts: Spy Death Radiation Risk Minimal (Unless You’re a Spy).”
UPDATE: More developments here. Not encouraging ones, though.
MILBLOGGER JASON VAN STEENWYK is unhappy with the AP’s response to the Jamil Hussein scandal:
I didn’t get out in front of the whole Mystery Captain Jamil Hussein story too early, because it’s really easy for Americans to screw up Arabic names. Now that the Iraqi Information Ministry has also come on record saying this Captain Hussein does not exist, it’s clear that AP has a problem.
But this bogus source is the least of AP’s problems.
Kathleen Carroll, a senior VP and executive editor of Associated Press, is now saying she is “satisfied with AP’s reporting.”
Yes, only two sources will go on record, and one has recanted his testimony, while the other apparently does not exist, and Kathleen Carroll is “satisfied with the AP’s reporting.”
MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT at an American university.
OKAY, I HAVEN’T BLOGGED MUCH TODAY, but Danny Glover rounds up some interesting tidbits.
ON CAPITOL HILL, listening for the sound of promises breaking. Welcome to the majority!
ERIC UMANSKY IS SAYING I TOLD YOU SO:
A few years ago, Erin Brockovich spearheaded a lawsuit alleging that an oil-rig next to Beverly Hills High School was causing cancer. She got all sorts of attention. I dug into the story for the New Republic and concluded that, well, Brockovich was full of it and that moreover she had a knack for fomenting panic in communities by misleading them about purported toxins in their neighborhoods and potentially even forging testing data.
Why I am telling you this? Because a few days ago a judge seemed to agree with me and tossed Brockovich and her suit to the curb.
Umansky’s original TNR piece can be found here.
U.S. officials say they have found smoking-gun evidence of Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq: brand-new weapons fresh from Iranian factories. According to a senior defense official, coalition forces have recently seized Iranian-made weapons and munitions that bear manufacturing dates in 2006.
This suggests, say the sources, that the material is going directly from Iranian factories to Shia militias, rather than taking a roundabout path through the black market. “There is no way this could be done without (Iranian) government approval,” says a senior official.
What I continue to be puzzled by is why the Bush Administration has taken such a low-key attitude toward Iran when its role in fomenting problems in Iraq — and its unrelenting hostility to the United States — has been obvious for years. I had assumed that a key reason for invading Iraq in the first place was to let us put pressure on the mullahs, something that we don’t seem to have even tried to do.
The leadership ambitions of two senior Democrats have already been deep-sixed for their murky ethics histories. Here’s a third Democrat heading for a powerful post whom folks may want to keep an eye on.
Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is under investigation by the FBI. And he’s set to assume a top post which would put him in control of the FBI’s budget. Neat trick, eh?
The FBI’s probing Mollohan for possible violations of the law arising from his sprawling network of favors and money which connects him to good friends via questionable charities, alarmingly successful real estate ventures, and hundreds of millions of dollars in earmarked funds.
The investigation appears to be active and ongoing. We’re told that the Feds continue to gather information on the guy. Yet the Democrats look poised to make Mollohan the chairman of the panel which controls the purse strings for the entire Justice Department — including the FBI.
Seems like a bad move to me.
ANOTHER RUSSIAN POISONING? “Yegor Gaidar, former Russian architect of Russiaâ€™s market reforms as acting Prime Minister for Boris Yelstin, is being treated in a Moscow hospital after coming close to death with a mystery ailment during a visit to Dublin.” Doctors think he was poisoned.
Plus, radioactive planes.
YES, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT: Today is root canal day. Recovering OK but not blogging much for a bit.
Meanwhile, note that Stephen Hawking is once again calling for space colonization:
Humans must colonize planets in other solar systems traveling there using “Star Trek”-style propulsion or face extinction, renowned British cosmologist Stephen Hawking said on Thursday.
Referring to complex theories and the speed of light, Hawking, the wheel-chair bound Cambridge University physicist, told BBC radio that theoretical advances could revolutionize the velocity of space travel and make such colonies possible.
“Sooner or later disasters such as an asteroid collision or a nuclear war could wipe us all out,” said Professor Hawking, who was crippled by a muscle disease at the age of 21 and who speaks through a computerized voice synthesizer.
“But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe,” said Hawking, who was due to receive the world’s oldest award for scientific achievement, the Copley medal, from Britain’s Royal Society on Thursday.
Bring it on.
BILL ROGGIO WILL BE EMBEDDING IN IRAQ AGAIN shortly, and has some interesting things to report on how the credentialling process works for bloggers. Plus a PayPal button if you’d like to support his work.
IN THE MAIL: Eric Flint’s new alt-history novel, 1824: The Arkansas War. It’s the second installment to his alternate history where the War of 1812 went differently. I’m enjoying Sam Houston’s prominent role — since Sam was a Maryvillian, like me, I heard a lot about him when I was younger. Though I don’t remember hearing much talk about his fondness for whiskey and large knives. . . .
A CONVERSATION with Bjorn Lomborg.
FROM CATHY SEIPP: Kramerology 101.
MAX BOOT: Iran and Syria aren’t our friends. (“Hard to believe, but those who advocate negotiations under such circumstances are known as ‘realists.’ A real realist would realize that Syria and Iran are only likely to accommodate the U.S. when they’re afraid of us.”) It’s a sad comment that our foreign policy establishment needs to be reminded of this, but . . . .
LOTS OF COVERAGE from the L.A. Auto Show.
I WONDER WHAT THEY’RE HIDING?
Tony Blair is under increasing pressure to halt a three-year-old corruption inquiry and avoid losing a Â£10 billion extension to an arms deal with Saudi Arabia.
The news comes after Saudi Arabia suspended negotiations on the 20-year-old Al-Yamamah deal after Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigators tried to access some of the Saudi royal family’s bank accounts in Switzerland.
Thousands of jobs in Britain and Saudi Arabia would be at risk if the Saudis dropped an order for 72 Typhoon jets and, instead, signed a contract with the French for up to 36 rival Rafales. . . . The deal, which was signed off by Britain and Saudi Arabia in August, has been brought to the brink after the SFO asked to access bank accounts in Switzerland.
Something pretty embarrassing, I’d guess. I wonder where that money was going?
I’VE SUDDENLY GOTTEN A LOT OF DONATIONS LATELY, which I appreciate — if you donated through PayPal I’ve thanked you; if you donated through Amazon I don’t know who you are unless you click the button that keeps it from being anonymous — and I’ve also gotten some emails asking if I’m depressed or something. Is that why people are donating?
I’m not depressed. I am, however, extremely busy. In the last couple of weeks I’ve turned around two articles to law reviews, done revisions for the paperback edition of An Army of Davids — coming out in January, I’m told — read and commented on a bunch of student paper rough drafts for my space law seminar, and my Administrative Law class’s comments on proposed regulations (as usual, actually filed with the agency in question) and finished up my Popular Mechanics column, as well as the usual stuff I do all the time. That may have made my blogging seem a bit more sparse, or detached, or something. But life’s actually pretty good, aside from being busy.
STILL MORE ON ALCEE HASTINGS and the Democratic leadership. I think they’ve made a good decision.
AFTER A LONG ABSENCE, Beldar has returned.
MORE RACIST REMARKS captured by YouTube.
What this means is that you don’t have to be real to be right.
Much less to be quoted!
And don’t miss Austin Bay’s column.
UPDATE: Further thoughts — worth reading as always — from The Mudville Gazette.
MORE ON POLICE MILITARIZATION, in today’s Wall Street Journal:
Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on “officer safety” and paramilitary training pervades today’s policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn’t shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.
Yes, police work is dangerous, and the police see a lot of violence. On the other hand, 51 officers were slain in the line of duty last year, out of some 700,000 to 800,000 American cops. That is far fewer than the police fatalities occurring when I patrolled New York’s highest crime precincts, when the total number of cops in the country was half that of today. Each of these police deaths and numerous other police injuries is a tragedy and we owe support to those who protect us. On the other hand, this isn’t Iraq. The need to give our officers what they require to protect themselves and us has to be balanced against the fact that the fundamental duty of the police is to protect human life and that law officers are only justified in taking a life as a last resort.
Read the whole thing — the link should work for a week.
UPDATE: Reader Gary Cameron emails:
I think it’s important to separate issues that involve the safety of individual cops from the so-called “police militarization” controversy.
Joseph McNamara, as a former cop speaking out against the recent NYPD shooting in the WSJ piece, is the police equivalent of those former Bush officials turned media darlings who turn on the administration after they leave office. His credibility with the MSM media stems solely from the fact that he once worked as a cop, as well as his willingness to speak out against pretty much anything rank and file police officers believe in, which he has done ever since his very short and controversial term as San Jose police chief. This is not to say that the opinions of most police officers (or the NYPD shooting, for that matter) are necessarily ‘right’, just that McNamara has no more credibility or insight on these issues than anyone else.
I think the following quote from his piece is very telling:
>>Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances.<<
Back in 1985, while a street cop in Vancouver, BC, I ended up firing all six of my .38 rounds at point blank range into the 10-ring of a mentally-disturbed gentleman. He had stabbed me in the side after stabbing a young man in the stomach, just missing the baby he was carrying. Nothing happened. He didn't stop trying to kill me until another member also shot him. Police officers carry "high-caliber" semi-automatics nowadays because they should have access to the best tools possible when they are really needed. Trust me on this: even the most routine call is an "extraordinary circumstance" to a cop in trouble.
I have no objection to high-capacity handguns. I do think, though, that McNamara is right about the psychological change that’s gone on. (Kind of like the change in Hill Street Blues, where the catchphrase went from “Let’s be careful out there,” to “Let’s do it to them before they do it to us.”) I think that’s a bad psychology for police.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Sven Swenson emails:
Col. Jeff Cooper long maintained that most police officers do not have the training and discipline to be trusted with more firepower than is provided by a 6-shot revolver. He reasoned from long observation that high capacity handguns, assault rifles & such encourage “spraying & praying”, which endangers bystanders. It’s a psychological thing. The man with a singleshot is going to make his one shot count. Under stress, the guy with a belt-full of 20-round mags is likely going to fill the air with lead to little effect.
The recent shooting in Queens is a case in point: The officers fired 50 or so rounds and only hit *the car* 21 times, much less its occupants. That’s spraying and praying, and ought to be considered reckless endangerment, no matter how evil the guys they’re trying to take down.(Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the police, I blame the people who issue them such high firepower weapons but *never* give them enough money and time for training.)
Pax your correspondent who relates putting 6 .38s “into the 10-ring”, it might be worthwhile to remember that it takes about 12 seconds for a person to lose consciousness once their blood pressure drops to zero. His heart may be completely gone, he’s effectively dead, he just doesn’t know it yet. I’m sure that’s a very looong 12 seconds when someone is stabbing you, but 6 .45 acp hydrashocks to the heart might not have done any better.
That and the possibility that your target is wearing a ballistic vest or totally wakked on drugs led the Colonel to advocate the “Mozambique” even with a .45: One or two shots center mass immediately followed by a shot to the head. If you shoot the guy between the eyes and he keeps coming, then you can complain to me about your ineffective .38.
Sounds like a zombie. They’re everywhere these days! As I recall, by Hollywood convention only shotguns work against zombies and other evil powers.
BILL ROGGIO WRITES on Anbar and The Washington Post.
AHMADINEJAD SENT A LETTER TO THE UNITED STATES: Daniel Drezner writes back.
Our current crisis is not yet a catastrophe, but a real loss of confidence of the spirit. The hard-won effort of the Western Enlightenment of some 2,500 years that, along with Judeo-Christian benevolence, is the foundation of our material progress, common decency, and scientific excellence, is at risk in this new millennium.
But our newest foes of Reason are not the enraged Athenian democrats who tried and executed Socrates. And they are not the Christian zealots of the medieval church who persecuted philosophers of heliocentricity. Nor are they Nazis who burned books and turned Western science against its own to murder millions en masse.
No, the culprits are now more often us. In the most affluent, and leisured age in the history of Western civilization–never more powerful in its military reach, never more prosperous in our material bounty–we have become complacent, and then scared of the most recent face of barbarism from the primordial extremists of the Middle East.
What would a beleaguered Socrates, a Galileo, a Descartes, or Locke believe, for example, of the moral paralysis in Europe? Was all their bold and courageous thinking–won at such a great personal cost–to allow their successors a cheap surrender to religious fanaticism and the megaphones of state-sponsored fascism?
Just imagine in our present year, 2006: plan an opera in today’s Germany, and then shut it down. Again, this surrender was not done last month by the Nazis, the Communists, or kings, but by the producers themselves in simple fear of Islamic fanatics who objected to purported bad taste. Or write a novel deemed unflattering to the Prophet Mohammed. That is what did Salman Rushdie did, and for his daring, he faced years of solitude, ostracism, and death threats–and in the heart of Europe no less. Or compose a documentary film, as did the often obnoxious Theo Van Gogh, and you may well have your throat cut in “liberal” Holland. Or better yet, sketch a simple cartoon in postmodern Denmark of legendary easy tolerance, and then go into hiding to save yourself from the gruesome fate of a Van Gogh. Or quote an ancient treatise, as did Pope Benedict, and then learn that all of Christendom may come under assault, and even the magnificent stones of the Vatican may offer no refuge–although their costumed Swiss Guard would prove a better bulwark than the European police. Or write a book critical of Islam, and then go into hiding in fear of your life, as did French philosophy teacher Robert Redeker.
And we need not only speak of threats to free speech, but also the tangible rewards from a terrified West to the agents of such repression.
Read the whole thing.
I guess it’s more of that Gramscian damage that Eric S. Raymond was talking about.
PATTERICO ACCUSES ME OF FAIR-WEATHER FEDERALISM for supporting Congressional legislation to rein in no-knock drug raids.
That’s silly. Congress clearly has the power to pass laws, under Section 5 of the 14th Amendment, to prevent states depriving citizens of life, liberty or property without due process of law. When cops bust down your door and shoot you without — very — good reason for being there, that’s a deprivation of liberty and property, and often life, without due process, the very kind of thing Congress was empowered to address. So unless Patterico thinks that the 14th Amendment is itself an improper impediment to federalism, I don’t see the problem here. What’s more, the no-knock problem stems from federal policies — the “war on drugs” and the free distribution of military equipment to local SWAT teams — and thus further justifies a federal corrective. Under federalism, one role of the federal government is to protect citizens’ rights against unconstitutional encroachment by the states. That’s what the 14th Amendment is about. And the doctrines of official immunity that make lawsuits difficult in such cases are found nowhere in the Constitution, but are the creation of activist judges, reading their policy preferences into the law. They are worthy of no particular deference.
UPDATE: I see that Patterico has updated to say that he doesn’t think the immunity-stripping violates federalism, which makes me wonder what our disagreement really is. At any rate, Ilya Somin has some further thoughts on how this problem was mostly federal in creation anyway.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In a later update, Patterico says that I’m inconsistent on federalism in light of my Schiavo comments here:
After talking about small government and the rule of law, Republicans overwhelmingly supported a piece of legislation intended to influence a single case, that of Terri Schiavo. As former Solicitor General Charles Fried observes:
” In their intervention in the Terri Schiavo matter, Republicans in Congress and President Bush have, in a few brief legislative clauses, embraced the kind of free-floating judicial activism, disregard for orderly procedure and contempt for the integrity of state processes that they quite rightly have denounced and sought to discipline for decades.”
I think he’s right. As with Bill Hobbs, quoted below, I don’t have an opinion on what should happen to Terry Schiavo — though given the rather large numbers of judges who have looked at this case over the years I’d be especially reluctant to interfere. Can they all be deranged advocates of a “culture of death?” But regardless of the merits, Congress’s involvement in this case seems quite “unconservative” to me, at least if one believes in rules of general application. Florida has a general law, and it’s been followed. That people don’t like the result isn’t a reason for unprecedented Congressional action, unless results are all that matter.
Reading that entire post, it seems to me that my predictions of Republican problems ahead have certainly been borne out in spades, but it wasn’t really a federalism argument as such. (In fact, in an earlier post — scroll down from that link above — I noted that the bill wasn’t necessarily unconstitutional, just a bad idea.) Nonetheless, I think that the kind of legislation I’ve suggested — stripping officers of official immunity in no-knock cases, where we’ve seen that there’s a pattern of misconduct and that state remedies have proven inadequate — is at the very core of Congress’s 14th Amendment powers. On the other hand, the Schiavo intervention seems much farther from that mold.
At any rate, doesn’t this go both ways? That is, isn’t Patterico inconsistent to have supported the Schiavo legislation while regarding Congressional legislation over no-knock raids as posing troubling federalism problems?
It seems however, that the actual remedy that I’ve proposed raises no problems in his mind, so this entire disagreement is fairly abstract. I have great respect for his abilities as a blogger, but I remain convinced that no-knock raids should be limited to very narrow circumstances, and that officers — and government agencies, for that matter — who engage in them should not be able to hide behind doctrines of official immunity that themselves have little warrant in the Constitution.
ARNOLD KLING LOOKS AT entrepreneurship and marriage.
IN THE MAIL: James Swanson and Daniel Weinberg’s new book, Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution.
It’s a coffee-table book (Helen pronounced it “gorgeous” with all the photos, woodcuts, etc.) that follows up Swanson’s earlier book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. We did a podcast interview with Swanson a while back — you can listen to it right here.
LOOKS LIKE BILL FRIST WON’T BE RUNNING in 2008. I agree with A.C. Kleinheider that it’s a good move: “Frist is not over politically — not by any means. But to trudge through this campaign just because it had been planned for so long would have been idiocy. Frist is smart. He read the tea leaves and saw that the presidency wasn’t in the cards. Now, he will have the time to regroup and retool his image.”
CHESTER ON IRAQ: “Go native.”