Archive for May, 2007

May 31, 2007

A RATHER EMBARRASSING EXERCISE by The Economist Intelligence Unit. I’ve always looked at the ads for their expensive services and wondered what I was missing. Not much, if this is any guide.

May 31, 2007

A “REACTIONARY TURN IN THE INTELLECTUAL WORLD,” in the reception of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Full story (registration required) here. And here’s an excerpt:

About Hirsi Ali we do not have to wonder: where does she stand on the question of stoning women to death? Or on the obligation for husbands to beat their wives? Read one page by her and you will know the answer; and if you read two pages, you might begin to suspect that, on the television screens of France, the man who defended the oppressed of the oppressed in the poorest neighborhoods of Europe was Nicolas Sarkozy. But that has got to be the problem from a perspective like Buruma’s. This talk of women’s rights–doesn’t it point ultimately in directions that ought to be regarded as (here is the mystery of our present moment) conservative? Better the seventh century than Nicolas Sarkozy. . . .

But this means only that Hirsi Ali’s critics have lost the ability to distinguish between a fanatical murderer and a rational debater. Here is “the racism of the anti-racists,” in Bruckner’s phrase. It is the racism that, while pretending to stand up for the oppressed, would deny to someone from Africa the right to make use of the same Enlightenment tools of analysis that Europeans are welcome to use. Bruckner took note of the nasty personal tone with which Hirsi Ali had been discussed–the masculine condescension, to mention one aspect, which scarcely anybody could have missed in Garton Ash’s New York Review essay, where he suggested that Hirsi Ali’s literary success must be owed significantly to her looks. . . .Salman Rushdie has metastasized into an entire social class, a subset of the European intelligentsia–its Muslim wing especially–who survive only because of their bodyguards and their own precautions. This is unprecedented in Western Europe during the last sixty years. And yet if someone like Pascal Bruckner mumbles a few words about the need for courage under these circumstances, the sneers begin.

The progressives aren’t looking particularly progressive these days.

May 31, 2007

A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF NEWSPAPERS:

Right now there’s a dispute at Romanesko over whether Google is to blame for newspapers’ problems – why, they link to things they don’t pay for. One writer confronted the future square on, and came up with two forward-thinking responses: a class-action suit, and union pressure.

That’ll do it. I can see the headline: Newspapers win $1.6 billion verdict against Google, use the money to start a youth-oriented tabloid giveaway paper that competes with YouTube. If you flip the corners of the pages really fast, the pictures appear to move!

It’s a winner.

May 31, 2007

QUESTIONS ABOUT eavesdropping on phone calls and the Clinton campaign.

May 31, 2007

IN UNDERSTANDING SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, it pays to read their opinions rather than simply relying on political stereotyping.

May 31, 2007

IF YOU CAN’T WIN THE GAME, change the rules!

Dartmouth blog Dartlog reports: “Petition candidate Stephen Smith ’88’s recent accession to Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees has inspired the unhappy Alumni Council and the Board of Trustees to change the rules by which trustees are elected. As outlined in two speeches given during the Alumni Council’s annual Green Key meeting in Hanover this year, the Board may take drastic measures during their June 10th meeting to revamp the current election system for alumni trustees.” Insiders seldom yield power to outsiders without a fight.

UPDATE: Here’s more from Joe Malchow.

May 31, 2007

DON SURBER ON TORTURE, SILENCE, AND COMPLICITY.

May 31, 2007

IMPORTANT THOUGHTS ON HOLODECK SEX from Professor Bainbridge. And Naomi Wolf should be pleased that her old article is still spurring discussion in the blogosphere.

(Link was bad earlier. Fixed now. Sorry!)

May 31, 2007

HELEN AND I JUST WATCHED EVAN COYNE MALONEY’S FILM, Indoctrinate U. It’s a gripping hour-and-a-half, and the college administrators — and there are a lot of them — who call the cops on Evan rather than answer simple questions about matters of public record certainly give higher education a jackbooted-thug ambience. Even your dumber corporate PR people would know better, but they are used to a lot more public scrutiny than the folks who run colleges and universities.

I hope that the film gets a lot of attention. It certainly deserves it, and I think it’s going to leave a lot of people angry.

May 31, 2007

A NEW BUSH CLIMATE POLICY: Jonathan Adler has a roundup.

May 31, 2007

HOW TO HAVE SUCCESSFUL KIDS: Stay married.

Well, my parents didn’t, and I’m . . . well, never mind.

More on this topic here.

May 31, 2007

MICHAEL MALONE looks at strange doings in the tech world and offers some explanation.

May 31, 2007

CAPITALISM AGAINST climate change.

May 31, 2007

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: More on Murtha’s secret Johnstown earmark, from CNN:

(Via Tom Elia). I like the term “Soprano-type politics.”

May 31, 2007

HANDS-ON TOYS FOR BOYS (AND GIRLS!): My earlier post on hands-on toys seem to have generated some interest, and there are still lots of cool things that will get kids away from the PlayStation and encourage them to do a few things with their hands. Something that was big in my childhood: The Estes model rockets, which are still around, and still fun, safe, and cheap. (Infinitely safer than building your own rockets from scratch, too: I did that and escaped unscathed, but I know a guy whose matchhead-and-scuba-tank rocket leveled his house and cost him some fingers. In fact, I think the impetus for the Estes-style model rockets was to provide a safe alternative to homemade pyrotechnics.)

In response to my earlier post on hands-on skills, Martin Greenberger emails:

Boy can I second the lack of basic skills in adults. I volunteer a lot with Habitat for Humanity here in Los Angeles. The volunteers that come out occasionally to help frequently can’t do something as basic as reading a tape measure (beyond the numbers which are printed on it of course). Many of my Saturdays are effectively a clinic on how to pound a nail.

If shop classes were oriented to teach good work habits along with basic instead mechanical skills, instead of worrying that the students weren’t learning on state of the art equipment, everyone
would be better off.

I got a lot of emails along these lines. My high school (and junior high) required this — and actually required a kind of home-ec-in-disguise course for seniors of both sexes on how to shop, budget, cook, and generally run a household that was really quite good. Of course, nowadays it’s all about teaching to the standardized tests, and they don’t test people’s ability to hammer a nail. If they did, every class would be hammering for an hour a day.

May 31, 2007

PARANOIA STRIKES DEEP. Or, in this case, maybe it’s shallow . . . .

May 31, 2007

RISING UP against Al Qaeda in Baghdad.

UPDATE: Omar at Iraq the Model says that this was actually a fight between Al Qaeda and another insurgent group. Between AP and Omar, I think I’d be inclined to trust Omar. But if one group of terrorists is killing another, well, I can live with that, I guess.

May 31, 2007

TORTURE: The sounds of silence. Silence is complicity, you know.

May 31, 2007

APPLE HIDES USER INFO in DRM-free iTunes tracks. “The big question, of course, is what might Apple do with this information?”

May 31, 2007

INDEED: “It’s the arrogance and condescension that finally makes your blood boil.”

May 31, 2007

BLUESTATERS BUY MORE compact fluorescent lights: Unless, apparently, they’re the blue-staters who hang out at Daily Kos!

Maybe they’re holding out for those promised high-efficiency incandescents.

May 31, 2007

AN ARREST IN ANBAR: Michael Yon has posted a report on the arrest of the Iraqi general that he emailed about the other day. He adds, via emails: “Note: An official press release stated that Iraqi Police conducted the arrest. That statement is untrue. Instapundit Readers found out first!”

Indeed they did. Thanks, Michael! And don’t miss the post, which offers insight into what’s going on, and how, that you won’t find many other places.

May 31, 2007

PRAISE FOR BUSH from an unlikely source:

STOP THE PRESSES!!! Barbara Lee has just issued her second press release in two days commending President Bush.

The liberal California Democrat, who is among the most vocal critics of the war, issued a statement Tuesday applauding the president for ratcheting up pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the killing in that country’s Darfur region. Now, she’s acknowledging Bush for asking Congress for another $30 billion to fund his AIDS relief program in Africa.

He’s been pretty good on that, but not many people have noticed.

May 31, 2007

NEWS ABOUT THE NEWS: And about not getting it.

May 31, 2007

FEW WILL MOURN:

A 27-year-old man described as one of the world’s most prolific spammers was arrested Wednesday, and federal authorities said computer users across the Web could notice a decrease in the amount of junk e-mail.

Upon conviction, he should be forced to consume off-brand Viagra substitutes and herbal penis-enlargement supplements while refinancing people’s houses.

May 31, 2007

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Passionate? or Political?

May 31, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Jim LIndberg’s Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life. The Amazon reviews are mixed — I’m not a particular fan of Pennywise, but this comment is kind of harsh: “This clown seems to think he’s somehow different than other suburban dads, just because he’s in a marginally successful ‘punk’ band. Sorry schmuck, you’re just another whitebread neocon who wears Vans.” Those punkers are a tough crowd!

May 31, 2007

IT’S EVERYWHERE: The Dangerous Book for Boys inspires this column by Christina Hoff Summers in the New York Post. Excerpt:

In a radical departure from modern schoolroom readings, the book has almost nothing to say about feelings, relationships or how boys can learn to cry. It valorizes risk, adventure and manliness.

Today’s boys inhabit a danger-averse world where even old favorites like tag and dodge ball are under a cloud – Too competitive! Someone might get hurt! The National Parent Teacher Association recommends a cooperative alternative to the fiercely competitive “tug of war” called “tug of peace.”

By contrast, “The Dangerous Book for Boys” has detailed instructions on how to hunt, kill, skin and cook a rabbit. . . .

The sad lesson of this book’s success is how far our current education culture has drifted from the world of boys. The special art of teaching boys – once so well understood by educators everywhere – is at risk of being lost forever.

One literacy expert reviewed several junior-high social studies texts and concluded: “Many students may well end up thinking that the West was settled chiefly by females, most often accompanied by their parents.”

Read the whole thing. As Dangerous Book author Conn Iggulden noted in our podcast interview, things seem to be changing. It’s about time.

May 31, 2007

THE EXAMINER WONDERS WHY BUSH IS insulting his most loyal supporters? As I’ve noted before, there seems to be some sort of bizarre Republican death wish at work. There’s a difference between disagreeing with your base and disrespecting it. And they’ve been very disrespectful to everyone who disagrees with them on this. Heck, I’m basically pro-immigration and I find the Administration’s arguments for the bill sufficiently unpersuasive and insulting that I’m leaning against it on that basis alone.

UPDATE: Uh oh.

May 31, 2007

OUTSIDE THE BOX:

Looking to prevent the next terrorist attack, the Homeland Security Department is tapping into the wild imaginations of a group of self-described “deviant” thinkers: science-fiction writers.

“We spend our entire careers living in the future,” says author Arlan Andrews, one of a handful of writers the government brought to Washington this month to attend a Homeland Security conference on science and technology.

Those responsible for keeping the nation safe from devastating attacks realize that in addition to border agents, police and airport screeners, they “need people to think of crazy ideas,” Andrews says.

The writers make up a group called Sigma, which Andrews put together 15 years ago to advise government officials. The last time the group gathered was in the late 1990s, when members met with government scientists to discuss what a post-nuclear age might look like, says group member Greg Bear. He has written 30 sci-fi books, including the best seller Darwin’s Radio.

Now, the Homeland Security Department is calling on the group to help with the government’s latest top mission of combating terrorism. . . . Why offer their ideas to the government instead of private companies that pay big bucks?

“To save civilization,” Ringworld author Larry Niven says. “We do it in fiction. Why wouldn’t we want to do it in fact?”

Not a bad idea.

UPDATE: N.Z. Bear emails that it’s about time!

May 31, 2007

I FOUND THE NOKIA N800 a bit underpowered. But I have to say this new quasi-mini-laptop from Palm, the Foleo, looks pretty cool. All it needs is EVDO to be a terrific blogging tool.

May 31, 2007

LOVE THE SINNER, hate the sinner’s sex toy business.

May 31, 2007

A PORNOGRAPHY-BASED STRATEGY for the War on Terror: “Whatever military action we take is just a holding action while our culture does a number on them.”

May 31, 2007

THE NRO EDITORS CHALLENGE THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORS to a debate on immigration.

May 31, 2007

A BLOG DUSTUP IN NASHVILLE: Bob Krumm has more background.

Here’s the post that started it all. I don’t agree with it, but it seems relatively tame to me. It’s no “screw ‘em,” that’s for sure.

UPDATE: Michael Silence: “The bottom line: The intent to drive traffic is working.”

We’ve been had. D’oh!

May 31, 2007

HUMAN SHIELDS in Iraq.

May 31, 2007

DRINKING FROM A FIREHOSE:

One of America’s busiest guys these days is Mark Corallo of Corallo Comstock Inc. in Alexandria. He’s the media strategist and former Justice Department public affairs director who is the public voice of Fred Thompson’s prospective presidential campaign. A few hours after The Politico reported on Wednesday morning that the actor and former senator was moving swiftly toward declaring his candidacy, Corallo e-mailed: “The response is unreal. Total explosion. Can’t keep up with the incoming. Received over 300 e-mails from people who want to contribute and/or volunteer. Drinking from the fire hose.”

Hey, if Al Gore gets in the race, we might wind up with two Tennesseans facing off in the general election.

May 31, 2007

GOOGLE MAPS IS SPYING ON MY CAT!

May 31, 2007

HARIRI UPDATE:

The U.N. Security Council voted Wednesday to unilaterally establish an international tribunal to prosecute suspects in the killing of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri whose supporters celebrated by dancing in the streets of Beirut.

The vote at U.N. headquarters in New York was 10-0 with five abstentions _ Russia, China, South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. Nine votes were needed for passage.

South Africa hasn’t really lived up to its human-rights reputation. Still, that’s a bit of a surprise. The others, not so much.

Michael Totten observes: “What Assad fears most has come to pass.”

UPDATE: Reader Mike Hertz makes a good point:

I’m not quite sure what the Post means when it says that the Security Council “unilaterally” established a tribunal. I thought a decision taken by the Council was, by definition, collective. Does “unilateral” simply mean that the Post disapproves? Or that the U.S. was part of the group that took action (much like the Iraq coalition was referrred to as unilateral)?

Any group involving the U.S. is “unilateral,” I guess.

May 31, 2007

MASS DELETIONS PRODUCE A LIVEJOURNAL REVOLT.

May 31, 2007

JOURNALISTIC ETHICS: Paying for perverts?

May 31, 2007

VIRGINIA POSTREL: “Kidney patients need ACT-UP. Instead, they’ve got the way-too-complacent National Kidney Foundation, an organization more for doctors than patients. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, Lisa Cunningham has died. She’s the woman Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center told it would refuse to transplant if she found a kidney donor through local press coverage.”

May 31, 2007

AN ARGUMENT FOR TERM LIMITS? “The authors study the make-up of Congress since 1789 with a view to tracking ‘the self-perpetuation of political elites’. They find that, the longer the tenure of a legislator, the more likely his relatives are to enter Congress later.”

May 30, 2007

A BLOGGER’S DREAMS, crushed by Michelle Malkin.

May 30, 2007

MORE SKEPTICISM about the FBI.

May 30, 2007

OKAY THIS IS STUPID:

The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

The dangers of false positives from mass testing are not trivial, as evidenced in discussions of mass-testing for HIV. Nonetheless, this is hardly the same thing. As I’ve noted before, food testing is something we’re not doing well, and we ought to do better. The meat industry people are just afraid of competition from “real food” producers and the like, and don’t want to give them an opening.

I mean, do we want China to be our model?

May 30, 2007

GREENHOUSE UPDATE:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she followed all Senate rules when she accepted rides on a private jet from a longtime benefactor.

“Whatever I’ve done, I complied with Senate rules at the time. That’s the way every senator operates,” the Democratic presidential contender said in an interview with The Associated Press during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. . . .

Sen. Clinton, who complained about corporate America’s largesse and skyrocketing executive pay during campaign events Wednesday, said she did not believe her message was undermined by her acceptance of the private flights. In line with Senate rules then in effect, Clinton’s campaign has said she reimbursed Gupta at the cost of a first-class flight, typically a significant discount off the expense of a private jet.

“Those were the rules. You’ll have to ask somebody else whether that’s good policy,” she said.

Senate rules or not, it’s bad for the planet. Doesn’t anyone care?

May 30, 2007

ED MORRISSEY INTERVIEWS John McCain and Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: Social conservatives backing Rudy? Interesting discussion in the Powerline forum.

May 30, 2007

MISS UNIVERSE BOOS AND U.S. / MEXICAN RELATIONS: “For what it’s worth, I think this kind of episode has more impact on Americans’ attitudes toward other countries than is generally recognized. The fact that millions of Americans witnessed the rudeness in Mexico City will not make matters easier for those who are pushing immigration legislation in Congress.”

It’s not a big deal, but that’s right. “We hate you — let us in!” is a poor approach.

May 30, 2007

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE EXPLAINS WHY HE LIKES FRED THOMPSON: “He bugs James Dobson, who bugs me.” I like that, too.

May 30, 2007

DANIEL DREZNER AND MEGAN MCARDLE on BloggingHeads TV.

May 30, 2007

HERE’S THE MNF PRESS RELEASE on the arrest that Michael Yon emailed about yesterday. (Via North Shore Journal.)

May 30, 2007

THE STOCK MARKET CONTINUES TO BURN HOT:

Wall Street shot higher Wednesday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 index to its first record close in more than seven years, as investors grew more confident that the Federal Reserve might cut interest rates in the second half of 2007. The Dow Jones industrials also reached a new high close.

I credit the new Democratic Congress! What does this mean? Beats me. I tend to be bearish on the markets — every new high looks to me like the top before the plunge. But I’m usually wrong: Like Paul Krugman, I’ve predicted nine of the past two recessions.

May 30, 2007

TERROR IN THE SKIES: An update on Flight 327, from Orin Kerr.

UPDATE: Much, much more here.

May 30, 2007

MORE BLOGGING ABOUT breasts and porn. Plus, when Hillary books collide.

May 30, 2007

DECLARING VICTORY IN THE WAR against global warming! Yeah, it’s just weather, not climate — but they won’t be saying that in July.

Er, unless there’s snow.

May 30, 2007

IT’S A FESTIVAL OF FRED (THOMPSON) at ElephantBiz.

May 30, 2007

A RESPONSE TO LAURIE DAVID ON GLOBAL WARMING at The Huffington Post: “If we really want to StopGlobalWarming, we’ve got to curb our enthusiasm for whatever is new and easy.”

Well, in Laurie David’s case it’s new, easy, and hypocritical. It’s fine to take environmentalism beyond its hairshirt phase, but her stuff seems more. . . opportunistic.

May 30, 2007

A CLOSE CALL for J.D. JOHANNES: but, happily, without effect.

May 30, 2007

ANOTHER SECURITY BREAKDOWN AT THE FBI: “The FBI’s famed National Academy recently expelled a student from a troubled African nation after learning he was not a cop, as he had claimed, The Post has learned. The incident raises serious questions about the FBI’s screening process for prospective National Academy students. . . . The ‘quiet’ Sinie lived, studied at and strolled around the Quantico facility with a still and video camera for 91/2 weeks before he was found not to be a cop, expelled and sent home to Chad, sources said.” Well, that’s comforting.

May 30, 2007

YESTERDAY’S POST on giving kids hands-on skills raised the question of what to do about adults, many of whom never acquired the skills that people used to take for granted. That’s actually something that the Popular Mechanics folks are trying to address via their Skill Sets feature, complete with how-to instructions everything from how to hammer a nail properly to how to solder a circuit board. Many items include video.

Seems to me that we ought to bring back shop class as a requirement, too, for both sexes — along with Home Ec for both sexes.

May 30, 2007

LAPTOPS CAUSING BACK PROBLEMS:

Booming sales of laptops have led to a surge in the number of computer users with back and muscle problems, experts have warned.

Girls as young as 12 are being diagnosed with nerve damage caused by slouching over screens, a group of leading chiropractors said.

Millions of others are at risk of “irretrievable damage” to their spines, necks and shoulders because of poor posture when using laptops, it was claimed.

Back specialists say as many as four in five patients have chronic nerve damage caused by working on portable PCs.

As an early (1986) laptop adopter, I can attest to this. Though in some ways using a laptop is better — your posture may be bad, but if you use it in lots of different places it’s at least variably bad. But this stuff is nothing to sneeze at. You’ve been warned before.

Maybe what you need is Yoga for Geeks!

May 30, 2007

JACOB SULLUM IS UNHAPPY with public-health paternalism.

May 30, 2007

IT’S OFFICIAL: Fred Thompson say he plans to run.

UPDATE: David Boaz warns libertarians against Giuliani.

May 30, 2007

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: Hillary’s Iraq problem, and why it’s not going away. Actually, Hillary’s stance on the war is her strongest point in my book.

May 30, 2007

C’MON, KOSSACKS, YOU’RE STILL LAGGING:


One Billion Bulbs Some Daily Kossaks Bulbs Change Statistics

One Billion Bulbs Instapundit Bulbs Change Statistics

I guess my earlier trash-talk wasn’t enough of a motivator. What, have you all bought so many carbon offsets from Al Gore that you feel free to stay all-incandescent?

Okay, actually the Kossacks aren’t doing so badly — they’ll soon be in the #2 position, and that’s without the benefit of the kind of front-page touting that the campaign has had on InstaPundit. So Markos — how about front-paging the post? We’re talking about saving the planet here, after all!

May 30, 2007

A SECRET PENSION BOARD at the Washington Metro? I wonder who’s collecting pensions.

May 30, 2007

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: CNN rounds up some delightful Congressional action. Well, okay, “delightful” isn’t the right word. They make a big point of noting how Democratic promises on pork have been broken repeatedly, with particular emphasis on David Obey’s stealth earmark move.

Meet the new boss, yada yada. (Via Tom Elia).

May 30, 2007

NOW HE TELLS US: Patrick Fitzgerald says Plame was covert.

Tom Maguire is unconvinced: “Folks who think the prosecutor gets the first and final word will be satisfied with the current state of play. For myself, I would at least like to see the defense response (Newsweek says we will get one this week) and I continue to hold out hope that the CIA Counsel will respond to Congress, which will then generate a leak to Novak, if he likes the answer, or to Newsweek otherwise.” I’d just like to see this kind of outrage generated on behalf of leaks that actually hurt the war effort.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Unless her cover identity was ‘Valerie Plame’, MSNBC is drinking some pretty weak beer.”

Regardless, given the many obviously more damaging leaks that no one seems to care about, I’m finding it hard to get excited about this one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Just talked to a reporter from Salon who wanted to know if I was going to “retract” an earlier blog post in which I said it looked as if Plame wasn’t covert. I noted that one normally issues a retraction for original reporting, not commenting upon other people’s news stories. (I think he meant this post — I guess I shouldn’t have paid attention to Joe Wilson. Or maybe this one.) But I also suggested that he ask Richard Armitage for a comment on Plame’s covert status and what it means . . . .

MORE: A reader emails: “It seems pretty lame for Fitzgerald to say so now. Since his tenure is over, he doesn’t have to explain why he never indicted anybody for the crime which he was investigating in the first place.”

Par for the course with Fitzgerald’s lame investigation, I’m afraid.

May 30, 2007

OVER AT THROWING THINGS they’re liveblogging the National Spelling Bee. As an alumnus — yes, my geekdom knows few limits — I think that’s cool.

May 30, 2007

IN THE MAIL: Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder’s The Clean Tech Revolution: The Next Big Growth and Investment Opportunity. Looks very timely.

May 30, 2007

CAN SCIENCE OUTWIT STORMS LIKE KATRINA? Sure. But it can’t do much about human corruption and stupidity, which alas were the real problems. Though as Lou Dolinar demonstrated, many aspects of the Katrina response went better than reported. The media response, however, as Dolinar also demonstrated, was not one of those, and in fact probably cost lives.

May 30, 2007

IT’S NOT JUST AMERICANS: Chinese consumers are worried about the safety of Chinese food products, too.

May 30, 2007

MORE EXTRASOLAR PLANETS: I think we’ve found enough to suggest that planets are pretty common. This is good news for space colonization, though of course we don’t know how common earthlike planets are.

May 30, 2007

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I think that celebrities did not expect that free speech is a two-way street, and that on the Internet, we can now talk back to them. And so when they preach that we get rid of our SUVs, those middle class out there who go to Costco with their three or four kids … while they’re flying in private jets — I don’t think that celebrities understood … that putting out ideas that marginalize them from their core audience, that shows a sense of elitism, is probably not in their best interest.”

May 30, 2007

WHY MODERN NOVELS are boring.

May 30, 2007

A LOOK AT POLITICS AND CIVILITY — we’ve got rather more of the former than the latter.

May 30, 2007

HOW CUSTOMER SERVICE undercuts advertising in the blog age.

May 30, 2007

PIMP MY JET:

John Kerry spent $1.4 million more than federal rules allowed during his 2004 presidential bid, primarily on customizing two campaign planes, according to a draft audit by the Federal Election Commission.

If the commissioners approve the staff findings at a meeting Thursday, Kerry’s campaign could have to repay the overspending to the U.S. Treasury, since his unsuccessful general election campaign was funded by tax dollars.

This makes Kerry look silly, but if you read the story it also underscores the silliness of campaign-finance rules.

May 30, 2007

SOME IMPORTANT ADVICE on breasts. But is an E cup really the new C cup? Seems as if I would have noticed that . . . .

But then, there’s apparently a whole book’s worth of information on this topic, so I guess my education on the subject is incomplete.

UPDATE: Boy, it didn’t take long for readers to write that they prefer “first hand knowledge” to “book learning” on the subject. That was predictable! Meanwhile, I’m reminded of this headline from The Onion.

May 30, 2007

A MODEST ADVANCE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, in Arizona.

May 30, 2007

HEAVEN AT THE PLANCK LENGTH: “I think it’s high time somebody founded the Church of Planck. ”

Well, Frank Tipler has given it a start.

May 30, 2007

MICROSOFT SURFACE: A coffee table that will change the world?

UPDATE: Read this, too.

May 30, 2007

A BEAR FOUND IN DOWNTOWN KNOXVILLE: “Police corralled a black bear early today in the Old City after it spent hours wandering around Knoxville. . . . Reports of the bear began coming into the E-911 Center a little after 10 p.m. Monday. The first caller said they had seen a bear near Rohm & Haas off Dale Avenue. The bear also was seen later in the Fort Sanders area, and then ambled down Summit Hill Drive to the Old City. Officers found the bear near the railroad tracks at Jackson Avenue and State Street.”

Sounds like something that might have happened 200 years ago. Shades of David Baron.

May 30, 2007

DIVIDED VIEWS on the Research and Experimentation Tax Credit.

May 30, 2007

SHARE FIRST, LECTURE LATER.

May 30, 2007

WHY WE HAVE KIDS, even though they’re a lot of trouble: When I got up this morning, I looked in on the Insta-Daughter, who’d been a bit ill last night. She was sleeping and I kissed her on the cheek. She smiled, murmured, “I love you Daddy,” and went back to sleep. My day is already made.

May 29, 2007

MORE PROBLEMS FOR TED “BRIDGE TO NOWHERE” STEVENS:

The FBI and a federal grand jury have been investigating an extensive remodeling project at U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens’ home in Girdwood that involved the top executive of Veco Corp. in the hiring of at least one of the key contractors. . . . Ted Stevens, the most senior Republican in the U.S. Senate and Alaska’s most famous political figure, has not been directly connected with the corruption investigation.

The wide-ranging federal inquiry surfaced in August when agents raided six legislative offices, including those of then-Senate President Ben Stevens, one of Ted Stevens’ sons. The FBI said at the time that it also had executed a search warrant in Girdwood, among other places, although the location of that search has never been officially disclosed.

Veco, an oil-field service company that has long been a strong lobbying presence in Juneau, was one of the early targets of the agents, according to some of the search warrants that became public. On May 7, the company’s longtime chief executive, Bill Allen, and a vice president, Rick Smith, pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy, bribery and tax charges. They are now cooperating with authorities.

The investigation spread to the commercial fishing industry, including Ben Stevens’ consulting clients and associates. Federal subpoenas served on fishing companies in Seattle last year sought records concerning both Ben and Ted Stevens.

Four current or former Alaska state lawmakers have been indicted and are awaiting trial on corruption charges, and an Anchorage lobbyist has pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.

It’s not clear where the remodeling fits in. More at TPM Muckraker.

May 29, 2007

TRIUMPH OF the will.

May 29, 2007

THE MCCAIN CAMPAIGN dead pool.

May 29, 2007

PHOTO-WRECKBLOGGING, from Brendan Loy.

UPDATE: Hey, check out the updates to Brendan’s post — several of his photos wound up being used by local TV and newspapers.

May 29, 2007

I DON’T LIKE THIS NEWS:

A man with a rare and exceptionally dangerous form of tuberculosis has been placed in quarantine by the U.S. government after possibly exposing passengers and crew on two trans-Atlantic flights this month, health officials said Tuesday. It is the first time since 1963 that the government issued a quarantine order. The last such order was to quarantine a patient with smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC urged people on the same flights to get checked for tuberculosis.

The government issued the order after a CDC official reached the man by phone in Italy and told him not to take commercial flights, but he flew back to North America anyway, said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s division of global migration and quarantine. . . . The man was infected with “extensively drug-resistant” TB, also called XDR-TB. It resists many drugs used to treat the infection. Last year, there were two U.S. cases of that strain.

Ugh. (Via Michael Silence).

May 29, 2007

NEW ZEALAND: A Christian nation? There seems to be a strong current of opinion among Maoris.

UPDATE: Thoughts from Eugene Volokh. And, via the comments to Eugene’s post, here’s more background.

May 29, 2007

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON is deconstructing the news.

May 29, 2007

TRYING TO BUY THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS at a Borders leads to this conclusion: “Brick and Mortar Blows.”

May 29, 2007

A REPORT ON THE SURGE from Baghdad. Very much in the “no single coherent narrative” vein.

UPDATE: A useful roundup here.

May 29, 2007

A LIVE MUSIC VIDEO from my brother’s band, 46 Long. No chili is involved.

May 29, 2007

SOME BRADY CAMPAIGN AL QAEDA disinformation.

May 29, 2007

A NEW LOOK FOR The Huffington Post.

May 29, 2007

HATE CRIME BILL UPDATE: In the latest National Journal, Stuart Taylor writes on Hate Crimes and double standards:

Consider three criminal cases.

No. 1: Christopher Newsom and his girlfriend, Channon Christian, both students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, were carjacked while on a dinner date in January, repeatedly raped (both of them), tortured, and killed. His burned body was found near a railroad track. Hers was stuffed into a trash can. Five suspects have been charged. The crimes were interracial.

No. 2: Three white Duke lacrosse players were accused in March 2006 of beating, kicking, choking, and gang-raping an African-American stripper, while pelting her with racial epithets, during a team party.

No. 3: Sam Hays bumped against Mike Martin in a crowded bar, spilling beer on Martin’s “gay pride” sweatshirt. Martin yelled, “You stupid bastard, I should kick your ass.” Hays muttered, “You damned queer” and threw a punch, bloodying Martin’s lip.

Now the quiz.

Which of these would qualify as a federal case under a House-passed bill — widely acclaimed by editorial writers, liberal interest groups, law enforcement officials, and many others — expanding federal jurisdiction to prosecute “hate crimes”?

Bonus question: Why have the interracial rape-torture-murders in Knoxville been completely ignored by the same national media that clamor for more laws to stop hate crimes — the same media that erupted in a guilt-presuming feeding frenzy for months over the far less serious Duke lacrosse charges, which were full of glaring holes from the start and turned out to be fraudulent?

The answers.

The interracial Knoxville rape-murders would probably not qualify as hate crimes. The reason is that although the murderers were obviously full of hate, it cannot be proven that they hated their victims because of race. (Or so say police.)

Both the Duke lacrosse case and the (fictional) barroom scuffle, on the other hand, would probably be federally prosecutable under the bill that the House passed on May 3 by 237-180. This is because the angry words attributed to the accused could prove racist and homophobic motivations, respectively.

Do such distinctions make any sense? Not much, in my view.

He also notes a media double standard: “The reason that the national media have ignored the Knoxville case is that the defendants are black and the victims were white. The media would also be uninterested if both the victims and the defendants were black. But had the victims been black and the accused white, the media would have erupted into the same politically correct sensationalism that characterized the Duke case. And many would have cited the case as proof that we need more hate crime laws.”

I think that’s probably right. The link above is subscriber-only, but you can read the whole thing for the next few days at this link.

Meanwhile, A.C. Kleinheider says “Nazis! I hate those guys!”

UPDATE: More from Nat Hentoff.