June 3, 2007
A LOOK AT WHO’S CARRYING WATER FOR CHAVEZ, and why.
A LOOK AT WHO’S CARRYING WATER FOR CHAVEZ, and why.
A LOOK AT REPUTATION ON THE WEB: “Nobody knows you’re a dog on the Web–or a mechanic, athlete, hacker, marketing whiz, zealot, or SQL programmer. That is, unless you tell them. In which case, they may or may not believe you, and they have few options for verifying your credentials anyway. . . . Make no mistake, though; online identities matter, and they’ll matter even more as the number of blogs, wikis, and social networks grows, making it increasingly difficult to sort out the Web’s wheat from the chaff of misinformation, factual errors, and malware. What we need–bloggers, businesspeople, technology professionals–are better ways to let others know who we are, verifying what we tell them and showing that we’ve got the cred to back it up.” People are working on it.
A SAVAGE DIAGNOSIS: “Everybody wants to save Darfur but no one will do the obvious thing. Everyone bemoans what’s happening to Zimbabwe but no one will touch Mugabe. Everyone knows what Iran is up to, but heaven forfend we should do anything serious about it. Everyone sees that Putin is finlandizing Europeâ€”I mean, he just said “I will nuke you if you try to defend yourselves against Iran”â€”but he’s an honored guest at the big banquets. etcetera, etcetera.”
CRIME OF THE CENTURY: “Columnist and author Eric Alterman was arrested Sunday night inside the debate spin room and charged with criminal trespass after police say he refused repeated orders to leave.”
UPDATE: Eric Alterman tells his side of the story. Click “read more” to read it.
FROM J.D. JOHANNES, a tale of two wars.
A ROUNDUP of novels for teenage girls.
I’VE HEARD BILL O’REILLY GOING ON about sex education at Boulder High School, but I haven’t been paying much attention. On the other hand, Dave Kopel has been.
SCARE HEADLINE OF THE WEEK: “Ethanol boom may fuel shortage of tequila.”
STEVE GILLIARD has died.
ANN ALTHOUSE IS WATCHING the Democratic debate in New Hampshire.
So is Jim Geraghty.
UPDATE: Dave Weigel, too. Best line: “a nice, 3rd grade homeroom tone.” Plus this: “If we repeal the Bush tax cuts, can I have a lifetime supply of root beer and a perpetual motion machine? Because apparently repealing them would pay for everything.”
ANOTHER UPDATE: More at The Hotline blog.
MORE: Upside: The Iran problem, solved!
And Rudy Giuliani concludes that the lesson of the debate is that “America needs a strong leader like Rudy Giuliani.”
THOUGHTS ON LOWERING THE DRINKING AGE, at State 29.
MORE CRITICISM of The Economist. It does seem to have gone downhill lately.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Meet the new boss, yada yada:
After promising unprecedented openness regarding Congress’ pork barrel practices, House Democrats are moving in the opposite direction as they draw up spending bills for the upcoming budget year.
Democrats are sidestepping rules approved their first day in power in January to clearly identify “earmarks” â€” lawmakers’ requests for specific projects and contracts for their states.
Rather than including specific pet projects, grants and contracts in legislation as it is being written, Democrats are following an order by the House Appropriations Committee chairman to keep the bills free of such earmarks until it is too late for critics to effectively challenge them. . . . What Obey is doing runs counter to new rules that Democrats promised would make such spending decisions more open.
I really didn’t think that the new Democratic Congress would — could! — turn out to be worse than the Republicans. But this is just another case of my political expectations, despite their modesty, being disappointed.
MORE NUMBERS ON IRAQ, FROM JOHN WIXTED:
Having brought to you the continuing bad news about the security situation in Iraq, I did also want to remind you that, when asked, more Iraqis than not say that life is better today than it was under Saddam Hussein. This always amazes me because, if you ask around, you’ll find that almost every opponent of the invasion of Iraq believes that we have simply ruined a stable country that, as bad it was, was nevertheless much better than what it has become. But as I have noted before, if you ask the Iraqi people themselves (who should know), they disagree. . . . That tells you something that is largely missing from discussions about Iraq. What’s missing is an assessment of what things were like in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The media was not interested in that, so they did not fill in the blanks for you.
No, they were busy actively covering up problems in Iraq so as to maintain “access” under Saddam. Read the whole thing.
A LOOK AT WHAT’S GOING ON IN FALLUJAH, where things aren’t as peaceful as they are in Ramadi and Hit.
DO CHEAP CONSUMER GOODS produce a lack of hands-on skills? I’m not so sure, but Sarah Natividad thinks they do.
TAKE OUT A WARRANT FOR FRAUD: Red-light camera gets wrong person.
THE BLIND LEADING THE DISHONEST: George Stephanopoulos and John Murtha on the JFK terrorist plot.
I remember we called it â€œplay.â€ It occurred on weekends and after school, when the grown-ups werenâ€™t around. Sometimes it hurt. It hurt when the ball struck someone in the face. It hurt when the thing we were climbing â€” the tree, the fire escape, the face of the sandstone cliff beside the river â€” suddenly grew slippery or broke. But those were mere physical injuries. They healed, often after trips to the emergency room. The injuries that lingered were the emotional ones, incurred when someone came in last in one of the contests we dreamed up. And, being boys (girls were simply not part of our thinking), we made contests out of everything, from walking, balance-beam style, down the railroad tracks to collecting crawfish from the creek.
Who knew at the time (not we children, certainly, growing up more than 30 years ago in small-town Minnesota) that playing and getting hurt would come to be regarded later on as exotic, threatened activities sorely in need of a cultural revival led by concerned adults?
Read on and you’ll find some pushback, along with what appears to be a bit of wilful misunderstanding, but that itself is more evidence for the cultural-moment theory. (As Chris Nolan emails: “The politically correct, multicultural ‘it’s all about nurture’ set are getting defensive. Must be a cultural moment indeed.”) And I think that he’s got it all wrong. There’s nothing contrived, or expert-driven, about saying “Go outside and play.” It’s what parents do. The real problem is that the kind of nannyism that leads to the criminalization of napping has gotten in the way.
UPDATE: More thoughts here.
WHAT IF ISRAELIS HAD abducted a BBC man?
IN THE MAIL: Tobias Buckell’s new science fiction novel, Ragamuffin. The cover art lacks the retro-cool of his previous novel, Crystal Rain, but I’ve started the book and it’s good — kind of post-cyberpunk, vaguely reminiscent of Richard Morgan’s Altered Carbon or Chris Moriarty’s Spin State.
Should make good beach reading. Plus, scroll down here to get the first 1/3 of Crystal Rain for free online.
THE GUARDIAN: “Truth about Kyoto: huge profits, little carbon saved.”
Carbon markets aren’t inherently dishonest, but all you needed to know to predict this particular state of affairs is contained in this sentence: “While the CDM is run under the umbrella of the UN, the second market is overseen by the European commission.”
AL GORE: We’re not worthy of him.
A LOOK AT WHO IN CONGRESS IS TAKING MONEY FROM THE RIAA.
MORE THOUGHTS ON THE LACK OF BASIC MANUAL SKILLS: When you’re grateful that someone knows how to use a screwdriver, we’ve got a problem.
FRED THOMPSON talks to Republicans:
“Folks, we’re a bit down politically right now, but I think we’re on the comeback trail, and it’s going to start right here,” he declared in the deep Southern rumble made famous by his roles in film and on television’s “Law and Order.” . . .
But he received his biggest applause for blasting the bipartisan plan for immigration reform, which he called unworkable. “We are a nation of compassion, a nation of immigrants,” he said. “But this is our home . . . and we get to decide who comes into our home.”
Thompson reminded guests that he now lives in McLean, but he offered himself as a Beltway outsider, saying there was a “disconnect” between Washington and the rest of the country “like I’ve never seen before.” He said the GOP had lost its congressional majorities because “some of us came to drain the swamp and made partnership with the alligators.”
A journalist who was there emails with uncharacteristic enthusiasm: “it’s what a stump speech should be…. a standing ovation in the middle of the speech even.” He calls the WaPo account “dry.” You can see the speech yourself on C-SPAN tonight if you’re interested — 6:30 or 9:30 pm Eastern.
PAUL GEARY WATCHES the evolution of a story at the Associated Press.
RON BAILEY looks at Barbara Kingsolver’s latest fiction: “Reading Kingsolver, one could also conclude that pesticides were created by giant chemical companies whose sole aim was to cause cancer.”
STRATEGYPAGE: “For the last five years, the army has been using more cash, and more science, including regular opinion surveys, to maintain its strength without conscription. This is very unusual during wartime. “
GOREMANIA! Direct from Nashville!
MICHAEL TOTTEN on Al Qaeda in Lebanon.
DO WE FACE THE CRIMINALIZATION OF NAPPING?
Everybody wants to demonstrate that they care about kids by ratcheting the standards for parenting and childcare ever-higher. But in doing so we raise the costs of having kids — you can’t even go out, because who’ll babysit if the liability is so extreme? — and that probably does more societal damage.
I also note that when I was on the state’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, I heard a lot of child-welfare authorities who testified make the same kind of excuses for the neglect or abuse of children in their care that they refused to accept from parents, etc. — we’re so busy, there’s not enough money, it’s not our fault they live in a building that’s old and unsafe, etc. As Reverend Lovejoy said, when the state does it, it’s not wrong!
I think it’s safer to assume that most of the time parents, and those they select to watch out for their kids, know what they’re doing, and that they already have adequate incentives to try to keep them safe. That’s not perfect, but this inquisitorial approach, plus the ridiculous effort to purge all risks from childrens’ lives, aren’t perfect either and do significant harm of their own.
UPDATE: Brendan Loy: “Sometimes, a tragedy is just a tragedy, not a crime.”
CARBON CREDITS cause global warming? It’s just perverse enough to make sense.
SO I SPOKE THIS AFTERNOON at a program put on by the University of Tennessee’s Howard Baker Center for Public Policy, about political campaigning and the online world.
The audience was mostly local political types and journalists, and it was interesting to see the dramatic increase in web- and blog-literacy among all the participants. Several of the people there were already blogging, and most everybody seemed generally familiar with the subject and the area blogs.
Still, there were people who were surprised that you could set up a blog for free with Blogger.com — I guess that just seems like too good a deal to be true.
One interesting thing, though, was a question about voters — most people who vote in local elections are over 45, and some people wondered if any of them would read blogs. I noted that the characterization of bloggers and blog-readers as “tech-savvy youth” is pretty much bogus, with the bulk of blog readers, or at least political blog readers, being well over 30. That blog stereotype is one of those media tropes that seems immune to the facts. At any rate, if people over 45 are the ones most interested in local politics, then that’s who’ll be reading local politics blogs.
Surfing the web isn’t that hard. People of all ages can do it. And do!
SUING EHARMONY AND TRIVIALIZING ANTIDISCRIMINATION LAW: That trivialization has been going on for years, and has robbed it of most of its moral force. It’s a real tragedy of the commons — sensible self-restraint is important if antidiscrimination law is to retain its moral currency, but no particular plaintiff or lawyer gains anything by not filing a claim.
MICHAEL YON EMAILS TO RECOMMEND this article on Anbar. The most important lesson: Don’t let up.
AS PORN GOES, SO GO THE REST OF THE MEDIA, which may be worrisome to some:
The Internet was supposed to be a tremendous boon for the pornography industry, creating a global market of images and videos accessible from the privacy of a home computer. For a time it worked, with wider distribution and social acceptance driving a steady increase in sales.
ut now the established pornography business is in decline â€” and the Internet is being held responsible.
The online availability of free or low-cost photos and videos has begun to take a fierce toll on sales of X-rated DVDs. Inexpensive digital technology has paved the way for aspiring amateur pornographers, who are flooding the market, while everyone in the industry is giving away more material to lure paying customers.
And unlike consumers looking for music and other media, viewers of pornography do not seem to mind giving up brand-name producers and performers for anonymous ones, or a well-lighted movie set for a ratty couch at an amateur videographerâ€™s house.
Other media folks, beware!
THOUGHTS ON FRED THOMPSON and anti-Southern bigotry.
TRADITIONAL MALE SKILLS: I’ve mentioned before that we’re in something of a cultural moment, and here’s more evidence — an interesting dialogue on Rush Limbaugh (thanks to Ed Driscoll for the link). The topic is a commercial for Lowe’s, where the husband keeps saying that he doesn’t know how to do anything and the wife keeps encouraging him. A caller said it made men look dumb (which is common for commercials, of course) but Limbaugh disagrees here:
But this could have been appealing from the Lowe’s standpoint to men’s aspirations. They want to be able to fix things but they aren’t sure they know how, and they don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the girl. They don’t want to be embarrassed in front of the woman. They don’t want to look dumb by screwing it up. The commercial, actually from the Lowe’s standpoint, Lowe’s could say, “Hey, look at the ending of our commercial. This commercial affirms that men can learn to fix things.”
Now, that’s kind of insulting itself, but given where we are in our culture today, who knows.
He even mentions The Dangerous Book for Boys.
I think he’s onto something with this business about the loss of traditional male skills and men feeling unhappy about it. Here’s an essay that a bunch of readers have emailed me: I Can’t Do One-Quarter of the Things My Father Can.
And guys, visit the Skill Sets page to learn some of this!
HERE’S A Disaster Preparedness List for those who are interested. Just remember: It’s important to have supplies, but disaster preparedness is about more than just buying things.
JFK TERROR PLOT BUSTED. Well, good.
IN THE MAIL: From Smithsonian Books, Larry Berman’s Perfect Spy: The Incredible Double Life of Pham Xuan An Time Magazine Reporter and Vietnamese Communist Agent. The North Vietnamese fed him “scoops” to raise his stature in the magazine, even as he was spying and manipulating on their behalf. I wonder how many similar “infiltrators” are at work in Western press agencies covering the Middle East today. And whether those agencies even care much.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Michael Yon sends another email:
Was going on a mission today but it was canceled, so am on base writing. I was just in the dining facility here on Camp Hit. It’s a simple affair. This Saturday’s lunch was hotdogs and hamburgers. Paper plates. The tables are wooden and rickety. For some, it’s very spartan. For others it’s cush. One of the Soldiers (Army) came at sat at the same table. The Soldier was not in the best mood, and one of his buddies, a Marine, asked how he was doing. The soldier came back with some grumpy talk, “All I can get’s hamburger and hotdogs.”
Marine answered, “Sorry I asked.” Marine seemed a little put off.
Soldier continued, “When I get home, I ain’t taken’ nothin’ for granted.” I chuckled and the Marine smiled slightly while the Soldier continued, “Gonna get home an’ get me a bacon lettuce and cheese, hamburger. A cheeseburger.” (The cheese had run out, and so had the mustard.)
Marine answered, “Burger King?”
Soldier said, “Yep, when I get home, ain’t taken nothin’ for granted.”
“Amen, I smiled, and the Soldier smiled a little bit and the grumpiness retreated a bit.
The Soldier continued, “When I get home, taken’ nothin’ for granted, and I’m gonna get on that field and get on my knees and kiss the ground where that 3rd ID patch is.”
There’s no place like home.
Much progress out here in Anbar, and I haven’t seen any combat since I got here some weeks back. Will be back in the thick of things soon, though. Back in the shooting war.
Michael’s latest full post can be found here.
FRED KAGAN on Iraq as it is..
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS UPDATE:
Most people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts haven’t made hurricane survival plans, despite pleas from emergency officials for residents to prepare before the season starts, according to a poll released Thursday. . . .
One forecaster said odds were high that a major hurricane would hit the U.S. this year.
Nevertheless, 53% of people surveyed in 18 Atlantic and Gulf Coast states say they don’t feel that they are vulnerable to a hurricane, or to related tornadoes and flooding, according to the Mason-Dixon poll. Eighty-eight percent said they had not taken any steps to fortify their homes.
Officials encourage a 3-day stock of food and water. That’s not really enough,”But 61% of poll respondents had no hurricane survival kit. Of those who did, 82% packed a fire hazard â€” candles or kerosene lamps. Missing from most of those kits were axes, which emergency officials recommended after many residents were trapped in their attics as they tried to escape the flooding following Hurricane Katrina.”
You should have at least a week’s worth of nonperishable food and medicine, and you should have a bag packed with essentials in case you have to evacuate. And that’s regardless of whether you live in a hurricane zone. More here. Also here.
And are candles bad? Judging by the picture, you need them for a proper hurricane meal presentation. Standards must be upheld!
EUROPE’S SHAME: This is pathetic.
RAND SIMBERG ON information war, and complicity in silence.
There’s a lovely Roger and Me scene in the film where Maloney is trying to interview a college president about incidents on his campus. (Maloney says Michael Moore inspired and encouraged him to start making documentaries.) He’s talking with a nervous administrator who can’t come up with any explanation about why the president’s office won’t return Maloney’s phone calls asking for an appointment, and keeps sidling away. Meanwhile an equally nervous secretary has called the cops.
While still looking for a distributor, the filmmakers are running a little viral marketing campaign. Visit the Web site, tell them where you’re from, and say you’d like to see the film. They promise to arrange local screenings whenever at least 500 people in an area have signed up. Why not Denver?
Read the whole thing. And if you like, visit the webpage and sign up.
MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH!
L.A. ANTIGUN ACTIVIST caught with illegal machine gun: “Note to LA government: be cautious about trusting a million bucks to a guy who goes by ‘Big Weasel.’”
THE STRAIGHT DOPE on disappearing bees.
STREET FIGHTING MEN in Iran.
BORDER SECURITY: “A globe-trotting Atlanta lawyer with a dangerous strain of tuberculosis was allowed back into the United States by a border inspector who disregarded a computer warning to stop him and don protective gear, officials said Thursday. . . . The unidentified inspector explained that he was not a doctor but that the infected man seemed perfectly healthy and that he thought the warning was merely ‘discretionary,’ officials briefed on the case told The Associated Press.” Feel safe now?
JEEZ, THAT WOULD MAKE ME WHAT, 29? Is 70 the new 50?
YET ANOTHER RECORD HIGH FOR STOCKS: I credit the Democratic Congress! Well, that and good economic news:
Investors found reason for optimism in a stronger-than-expected jobs report for May. Nonfarm payrolls rose by 157,000 last month, a larger increase than in April and more than analysts anticipated. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 percent, as forecast, according to the Labor Department report.
The economic picture appeared brighter still following a lower reading on inflation from the Commerce Department and data from the Institute for Supply Management’s May survey, which indicated that the manufacturing sector was strengthening.
Well, that all sounds good.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
It is not only the U.S. where stocks are hitting records highs but also most markets in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America too. Lost amongst the cacophony of the MSM is the fact that economically the world has never had it this good and as a result millons of people are being lifted out of abject poverty every year.
I am employed as an emerging markets fund manager and witness this first hand. Two weeks ago I was in Shanghai and had dinner at a restaurant called M on the Bund. The Bund is where the banks and trading houses built their headquarters during the last great boom in Shanghai in the 1920′s & 30′s. M has a roof terrace overlooking the Hangpu River which is the main waterway for the city. The whole evening I witnessed a procession of barges and other ships laden with coal, cement, oil etc. heading upstream full and downstream empty. Looking out I could see the lights of welders flicker from various construction sites (sites are active 24/7) throughout the city. Scenes like these are occuring throughout the developing world though most without the vigor of the Chinese. As a result the various local economies are booming as are their stock markets. It is interesting to note that the two areas where the markets aren’t hitting new highs are Russia and the Gulf. I wonder if that tells us something about the future direction of oil prices?
That’s interesting. It probably tells us more about the corrosive effect of bad governance.
BYPASSING HUGO CHAVEZ’S CENSORS, with YouTube:
An opposition Venezuelan television station whose broadcast license has not been renewed by the government is now turning to YouTube to get its message out after its transmitter was taken over by a state-run channel. Hugo Chavez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” has no time for media groups that criticize his government; Radio Caracas TelevisiÃ³n (RCTV) is now off the air, and another channel, Globovision, could be next, according to CNN.
RCTV journalists and producers have not been arrested or stopped from working, but their main link to the public has been removed. Rather than giving up, the station has turned to YouTube, where it now has its own channel for the show El Observador. A Colombian channel is also broadcasting RCTV content into Venezuela.
El Observador clips have been seen 175,000 times since May 28, and the channel is currently the most-subscribed channel of the week.
TEN TIPS ON saving water. Useful if, like me, you’re laboring under a drought.
KERRY HOWLEY says that if you support free markets, you should support open borders.
ANOTHER CAMPAIGN BLOGGER GETS SOME SCRUTINY.
This will get less attention than Amanda Marcotte, though, since most people, upon hearing about Chris Dodd’s campaign blogger, will respond by saying “Chris Dodd is running for President?”
THOUGHTS ON MARRIAGE AND CHILDREN, inspired by the movie Knocked Up.
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS: John Wixted writes: “I’m looking forward to the day that I can bring you good news about civilian causalities in Iraq. Today is not that day.”
Plus this, on American troop casualties: “At this rate, 2007 will be more deadly for US troops than any previous year of the war. Casualties are still extremely low by historical standards, but not according to the new American standard according to which wars are fought in which no one gets hurt. The only good news continues to be that things are turning against al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraq might be a mess for a long time to come, but the chaos that al Qaeda deliberately created is, for the moment, not working out as they planned.” Read the whole thing.
FIGHT GLOBAL WARMING BY flying to the Virgin Islands at taxpayer expense!
I volunteer. We all have to do our share to save the planet!
SO I SAW THIS LIST OF Father’s Day gift suggestions and while there’s nothing wrong with it, I wonder if anyone would post a list of Mother’s Day gift suggestions that consisted of things like vacuum cleaners, stoves, and mops. But tools and grills for dads are different, somehow. Why?
UPDATE: CaltechGirl says I’ve got the question backward: Why aren’t people giving moms cool power tools? Good question!
Of course, I’d have liked a new stove — instead I bought one for myself. And vacuum cleaners can be cool, especially the hovercraft kind. Heck, even some mops.
PESHMERGA WOMEN STEAL THE SHOW at Iraq security handover ceremony.
EVAN COYNE MALONEY emails that there’s been a phenomenal response to his new film Indoctrinate U. He’s been asking people to enter their zipcodes after watching the trailer, as a way of showing distributors that there’s a market:
The overall conversion rate is something like 25%, which is absolutely unheard of in any other media. Direct mailers would sell their firstborn for that kind of conversion. Sometime in the next week, we will break 20,000 signups. And that’s without spending a single dime promoting the site! If we get five times that–certainly feasible–I think distributors will have a hard time ignoring us.
I would think so. Anyway, if you haven’t done so, consider watching the trailer and entering your zip code. It’s a film that deserves a wider audience.
DELL NON-HELL: Reader Hazen Dempster emails:
I want to thank you for your various posts about Dell customer support and their in-home repair service. My wife’s Dell laptop died over the Memorial Day weekend — It’s several years old so I figured there was no way is still had any warranty left. I had it in the car to take it to a Geek Squad location when I remembered your posts and decided that I ought to at least check with Dell before paying someone to work on it. Well, I called Dell on Memorial Day night – they diagnosed the problem as a failed motherboard and told me that I was still eligible for in-home repair. The technician called me the next day (Tuesday) to let me know that he had the service order and would have the part on Wednesday. On Wednesday he called to say he had the part and to schedule a time to come out. He was willing to come out that afternoon, but that didn’t work for my wife so he came out Thursday morning, spent about 30 minutes working on it and it’s like new again. Total bill — $0. Will I buy another Dell? Uh, yeah!
As with the bad stories, your experience may differ. But my own experiences with Dell have been good.
UNREST IN MEXICO CITY.
THOUGHTS ON summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. From the Knoxville News-Sentinel’s new military blogger, Fred Brown.
AMY ALKON LOOKS AT who’s exploiting the poor.
I’VE SAID THAT HOT AIR DESERVES A NETWORK DEAL, and now it’s got one!
A GERMAN BRAIN DRAIN: ” For a nation that invented the term ‘guest worker’ for its immigrant labourers, Germany is facing the sobering fact that record numbers of its own often highly-qualified citizens are fleeing the country to work abroad in the biggest mass exodus for 60 years. Figures released by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed that the number of Germans emigrating rose to 155,290 last year – the highest number since the country’s reunification in 1990 – which equalled levels last experienced in the 1940s during the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War. . . . Fed up with comparatively poor job prospects at home – where unemployment is as high as 17 per cent in some regions – as well as high taxes and bureaucracy, thousands of Germans have upped sticks for Austria and Switzerland, or emigrated to the United States.” Seems like the more socialist the country, the more its talented citizens tend to go elsewhere.
THE FABLE OF THE BEES: Joel Garreau looks at the disappearing honeybee story and notes various efforts by various people to put their favored spin on it. I’m particularly amused at how disappointed some people are that the cellphone explanation turned out to be bogus.
I’m inclined to agree with Bill Joy: Complex systems behave unpredictably. But I think his suggestion that this sort of thing is new is iffy — it’s just that in the old days it either wouldn’t have been noticed, or would have been attributed to supernatural causes. And I think that environmentalists should actually be happy!
“From an ecological standpoint, it is opening up the possibility for local pollinators like the mason bee to come back.” Honeybees, after all, are an introduced species. They were brought here by European explorers and settlers. The Indians called them “white men’s flies.”
Forward, into the past!
WELL, THIS IS A SWITCH: “Ahmadinejad’s spiritual advisor, Ayatollah Muhammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, was shouted down by angry Iranian and Afghan protesters a minute into his talk at a liberal college in Canada this week.”
I guess they figure silence is complicity.
IN THE MAIL: Daniel Gross’s Pop!: Why Bubbles Are Great For The Economy. Irrational exuberance is good for you!
BILL QUICK: “In the vein of LBJ and Walter Cronkite, I think it is fair to say that if George W. Bush has lost Peggy Noonan, then he has lost the Republican Party.”
Hey, Rush Limbaugh savaged me when I said it last fall before the election, but it’s like there’s some bizarre Republican death wish. (But Limbaugh seems to have caught on to my point more recently.) I’d disagree with Noonan, though, in that I think the GOP Congress was just as bad as the White House is now. In both cases, it’s an attitude of entitlement that seems to be endemic among our political class, and certainly one that the Democratic Congress is already displaying in full measure.
And, despite Bush’s many flaws, not everything is Bush’s fault — though it would surely be convenient for lots of people if it were.
UPDATE: And read this report and this one about Republican problems with grassroots support. All I can say is, “I told you so.” Repeatedly. In fact, all you have to do is listen to this podcast interview with Ken Mehlman, then RNC chair, to realize that these problems were obvious over a year ago, but that the GOP establishment was either oblivious, or unwilling to address them. Can’t anyone here play this game?
ANOTHER JOHN EDWARDS CAMPAIGN MISSTEP:
John Edwards told a Google “town hall” yesterday that he had read the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, the summary of the evidence that led to war in Iraq. . . . His assertion that he read the NIE seems to contradict what his campaign told me last week, when Edwards spokesman Mark Kornblau said his boss hadn’t read the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. That put him in the same position as all the other senators from the time running for president, save Joe Biden.
However, Kornblau said today that Edwards had “misunderstood” the question yesterday, and that he was referring to having read the declassified version of the NIE, and other intelligence documents.
For some reason, the Edwards campaign seems to have had a series of these unforced errors.
EVERY TIME I POST ABOUT THE DANGEROUS BOOK FOR BOYS, I get loads more email, which makes me think that there’s a genuine cultural moment going on here. That makes me wonder if one of the various political candidates won’t try to capitalize on it somehow, but it’s not clear to me just what they could do. Any thoughts?
UPDATE: Reader Don Spoon emails:
While growing up in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I ran across a used book from one of my uncles called “The Boy’s Book”, which became my bible until I joined the Boy Scouts. I am EXTREMELY glad to see a replacement for it! My grandson will benefit from it just like I did. I am saddened that my sons didn’t have a reference like this!
You see similar sentiments in the reader reviews, too. Check out the one that quotes G.K. Chesterton.
ANOTHER UPDATE: In a related vein, reader Charles Vinod emails regarding my earlier post about hands-on toys:
I bought the Radio Shack Electronics kit 101 for my six year old son this week on the occasion of his kindergarten â€œgraduationâ€. Needless to say, he loved it and has not asked to watch TV or play video games since receiving the kit. Most interesting of all, even at this age, he just doesnâ€™t want to build the circuits; he wants to know the reason â€œwhyâ€ each one works differently. This point especially makes his scientist dad proud.
And rightly so! So why don’t schools use things like this?
SPEAKING OF TIPJARS: James Lileks makes a discovery:
Augh. Brilliant! I put up a tip jar, and it doesnâ€™t work. Turns out that a picture of an Amazon tip jar does not actually link to an Amazon tip jar. Tomorrow, your host learns that clicking on a picture of a telephone does not generate a dial tone.
Live and learn! Plus, thoughts on sex and free will.
JAMES PETHOKOUKIS: “Just how vulnerable is the U.S. economy to troubles in China?”
AMITY SHLAES HAS A NEW BOOK OUT, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. Arnold Kling has read it, and has some observations, including this one:
The struggle over economic policy in the 1930′s was really an episode in the long, historical conflict between business participants in the market and anti-business academics. Roosevelt gave free rein to the professors, until the start of the Second World War led him to realize that he would need the tycoons to help mobilize to defeat Hitler. I suspect that one reason that Roosevelt and the New Deal come off so well in the conventional wisdom is that history books are written by professors, not by entrepreneurs.
Read the whole thing, which is quite interesting.
PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Sen. Jon Kyl is behind the latest effort to block transparency:
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-AZ, has conceded that he is the senator behind the secret hold on the proposed Open Government Reform Act of 2007, which would provide much-needed improvements in the federal Freedom of Information Act.
AP reports that Kyl explains his decision to place the secret hold on the bill as a result of “uncharacteristically strong” objections from the Justice Department. Kyl will maintain his hold until supporters of the FOIA reform bill, which includes its primary architect, Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, and opponents can work out their differences.
Memo to Sen. Kyl: Some differences are irreconciliable, such as the difference between those like Cornyn who believe transparency in government is the first essential for democratic accountability, and those in government like the career attorneys at the Justice Department who ALWAYS find a reason to oppose increased transparency. . . .
What is really aggravating here, Sen. Kyl, is that you profess to be a conservative, a believer in limited government and individual liberty, but here you are taking up the cause of Big Government’s first line of defense.
Of all people in Congress who ought to be first to proclaim that the public has an inherent right to see how the public’s business is being conducted, one would think it would be a conservative from a western state where people remember Barry Goldwater.
Read the whole thing.
IT’S BETTER THAN TIM RUSSERT ON A GOOD DAY! The latest Corn & Miniter Show is up!
I’M ON THE COVER OF THIS MONTH’S BLOGGER & PODCASTER MAGAZINE: Together with Seth Godin and Michael Geoghegan. We did a panel interview on . . . blogging and podcasting!
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.
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.
A LOOK AT THE FUTURE OF NEWSPAPERS:
Right now thereâ€™s a dispute at Romanesko over whether Google is to blame for newspapersâ€™ problems â€“ why, they link to things they donâ€™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.
Thatâ€™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.
QUESTIONS ABOUT eavesdropping on phone calls and the Clinton campaign.
IN UNDERSTANDING SUPREME COURT JUSTICES, it pays to read their opinions rather than simply relying on political stereotyping.
IF YOU CAN’T WIN THE GAME, change the rules!
Dartmouth blog Dartlog reports: “Petition candidate Stephen Smith â€™88â€™s recent accession to Dartmouthâ€™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 Councilâ€™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.
DON SURBER ON TORTURE, SILENCE, AND COMPLICITY.
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!)