Instapundit.com Instapundit.com

January 21, 2006

"A FEW STUKAS short of a squadron." Once I read that, I was laughing too hard to focus on the article.

YOU CAN'T MAKE THIS STUFF UP: "Sen. Patty Murray said Friday that returning contributions from Indian tribes represented by Jack Abramoff would 'taint' the tribes."

I am filled with admiration for her nobility in preserving their untainted status.

RANDY NEAL, the blogger formerly known as South Knox Bubba, is back with a new group blog called KnoxViews.

TEJU COLE is blogging from Lagos.

Meanwhile, here's some unfortunate information from elsewhere in Nigeria:

More troops were sent to the Niger Delta, to aid in the search for the hostages taken from an oil platform. Secret negotiations were said to be underway with the kidnappers, but the government is also committed to crushing the gangs, which have prospered for years from stealing oil. The gangs have gotten political because the tribes in the Delta have gotten lots of pollution and no money from all the oil fields, and people are unhappy about this. The corruption that permeates the government, and much of Nigerian society, makes negotiation futile and armed violence more attractive.

Corruption and bad government -- a recipe for disaster. And, God knows, Nigeria has both in copious quantities. On the other hand, if you put this together with trouble in Iran, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, it almost looks as if somebody is trying to put a lot of oil sources under pressure simultaneously.

UPDATE: A troubling email from James Egan:

Perhaps the hostage taking and the threats on oil production in Nigeria is motivated by pollution, corruption or poverty or... Maybe... it's more complicated than that.

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in Africa after Egypt -- about 50% of the country. 12 states have already implemented shari'ah and there's pressure on others to do the same. (Link)

While most of the Muslims live in the north, the dude leading up the insurrection in the delta region (where the oil is), from the Ijaw tribe, is a Muslim. In fact, he is a great admirer of bin Laden, so much so he's named one of his kids Osma in the terrorist's honor. Saying "...in admiration of the courage of Osama I named my child Osama. But that is my own personal belief. I admire Osama." (Link)

Nice t-shirts too. (Link)

Reports claim that the American hostage is not doing well and the rebel group is threatening to kill all 4 hostages if he dies. (surprising that the main stream media isn't reporting this story). Despite their leaders' claim that they reject killing of innocents.
(Link)

This is an ever more important region and our military has it on radar but recent events there, along with the antics in Iran and the recent bin Laden tapes makes me wonder what's grand scheme is under foot (Link).

It is said that the brilliance in Reagan's B team was that it identified the Soviet economy as their weak spot thereby enabling us to defeat them without firing a shot. Perhaps the Islamists have been good students. Maybe they see a kink in our armor and are in the final days of preparing to pry it open.

If the Iranians can get the dollar to collapse by tying their oil sales to the Euro (Link) as is planned for March, if bin laden can successfully attack us at home again as he threatened, if oil climbs above $100 a barrel and if the Mid-East become a tinderbox, could we manage better than the Soviets did in the 80's?

Certainly the Muslim world is aware of the opportunity.
(Link)

What did the recent bin Laden tape state, "diamonds cut diamonds". Boy that has a strange and eerie ring to it.

Maybe we need take a wider view of recent events? I'm just saying, that's all.

I doubt that such a plan would succeed, but that's not the same as saying that there's no such plan. I don't know enough to say, but I hope that someone's paying attention.

IN THE WORDS OF WILFORD BRIMLEY: "Wonderful thing, a subpoenee."

AUSTIN BAY offers the good news and the bad news about the Iraqi elections.

NORAH VINCENT'S SELF MADE MAN gets a very positive review in The New York Times book review today. Excerpt:

That bowling league, for example. Norah-as-Ned commits to it for eight months, becoming the weak link on a four-man team of working-class white men. (Vincent has changed the names of the characters and obscured the locations to protect the identities of her subjects.) The resultant chapter is as tender and unpatronizing a portrait of America's "white trash" underclass as I've ever read. "They took people at face value," writes Vincent of Ned's teammates, a plumber, an appliance repairman and a construction worker. "If you did your job or held up your end, and treated them with the passing respect they accorded you, you were all right." Neither dumb lugs nor proletarian saints, Ned's bowling buddies are wont to make homophobic cracks and pay an occasional visit to a strip club, but they surprise Vincent with their lack of rage and racism, their unflagging efforts to improve Ned's atrocious bowling technique and "the absolute reverence with which they spoke about their wives," one of whom is wasting away from cancer.

Read the whole thing. I told you it was going to be big!

UPDATE: In short order, numerous readers sent variations on this comment, from reader Byron Matthews:

"a plumber, an appliance repairman and a construction worker"

Since when do those occupations describe the "white-trash underclass"?

That could only get by a NYT editor, I'm afraid.

To be fair to the Times Book Review, it's in quotes (indicating that it's what the writer thinks others might think) -- and the passage explodes a view that is, I suspect, overrepresented among NYT readers. That's a good thing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's more on the term "white trash," from Ed Driscoll.

MORE: Read this insightful observation from Shannon Love, too.

January 20, 2006

The Glenn & Helen Show: Austin Bay and Jim Dunnigan on Iranian Nukes, Syria, and More

baydunnigan.jpgIt's another podcast -- this one featuring blogger and author Austin Bay and StrategyPage publisher, and author of many books, Jim Dunnigan.

Jim and Austin talk about Iran's nuclear weapons program, unconventional delivery systems, the prospects for an Iranian popular revolt, and much, much more.

You can listen to the podcast (no iPod needed!) by clicking right here, or you can get it via iTunes or the RSS feed at the right. (It also appears automatically in some aggregators, like MyYahoo). As always, the lovely and talented InstaWife is soliciting comments about the show.

Hope you like it!

UPDATE: A somewhat encouraging analysis of Iran's situation.

And note the "Podcasts" tab on the Nav bar at the top, which takes you to an archive of podcasts.

A PLEA-BARGAIN in the Milwaukee election tire-slashing case. Area blogger Sean Hackbarth has a roundup.

FIGHTING TERROR at the Jawa Report. Well, every little bit helps!

TOM MAGUIRE has licked his TypePad problems, and is on a roll. Just keep scrolling.

I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in just a minute, talking about the Washington Post blog-comment controversy mentioned below. You can listen live online here.

UPDATE: My transcript isn't up yet, but here's the transcript of Jim Brady of the Post talking about the subject.

And I agree with this observation: "This is yet another argument for slashdot-style moderation. Why hasn't it caught on elsewhere?" I read Slashdot at +3 most of the time, which filters out nearly all the trolls, and many of the idiots.

ANOTHER UPDATE: TigerHawk offers some thoughts from the perspective of a corporate general counsel: "Speaking as somebody who has been in charge of the law department at one public company or another for more than ten years, I don't think that thin skin or 'family values' or any other lame-ass consideration drove the WaPo out of the comments game. Nope. I believe that the decision was probably driven by its law department out of fear that it had created a 'hostile environment' for its employees by permitting the unmediated publication of comments about them. Think about it -- what other business does that? None."

STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER PODCAST, this one featuring Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay talking about Iranian nukes. It'll be up later tonight.

JARON LANIER has replied to comments by me, David Gelernter, Eric S. Raymond, and John Perry Barlow.

THE WASHINGTON POST has pulled down comments in response to "personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech." Some people are unsurprised, while other enterprising folks have dug up the comments after deletion, thanks to Yahoo's cache.

It's hard for me to get very exercised about this. Given the Post's addition of technorati links to many of their stories, they're in a better position than most to say "the blogosphere is our comment section." And, you know, it is.

UPDATE: Related post from Jay Rosen.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mister Snitch asks: "At what point did we become obliged to put up with obnoxious houseguests? Why would anyone care whether some ass thinks they are "engaging in censorship" because someone's attempt to derail a train of thought was moved off a blog? If the argument's good, the commenter can start his/her own blog for free, and do the work needed to get the word out. If the argument stinks, why is it smelling up our blog? Don't our other readers have ofalctory rights?"

DEPRESSING THOUGHTS ON IRAN from Joe Katzman.

UPDATE: Jonathan Gewirtz offers a more positive view via StratFor. I hope it's right, though I'm not a big StratFor fan in general.

BRENDAN LOY says the White House and the New York Times are both wrong when it comes to Executive powers.

BLOG-O-RAMA: The National Journal has a lot of blog coverage in its new issue, and Daniel Glover has reproduced it on his blog. Click here for the main story (which notes that PorkBusters had a dramatic influence on the Republican Conference), and here's a sidebar on members who blog. Also, here's his interview with me, and here's one with Andy Roth. He's also got interviews with Arianna Huffington and Henry Copeland posted.

PUBLIUS says Code Pink has been photoshopping pro-liberation protesters into antiwar protests. I guess they're taking lessons from Hugo Chavez.

GREG DJEREJIAN: " I did want to emerge very briefly to say, when I hear the word 'truce' emit from UBL's lips (or, perhaps, whatever impersonator is doing a stand-in on his behalf), I conclude that we are winning the battle against al-Qaeda. . . . So I guess I disagree somewhat with Muhammad Salah, Cairo bureau chief for the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, who says to the NYT: 'The fact that he was able to record the message, deliver it and broadcast is in itself a victory for him.' Well, yeah, maybe. But that's really defining victory down quite a damn lot, isn't it?" He's properly non-triumphalist here, and you should read the whole thing, but I think that's right.

UPDATE: Related thoughts here.

SCIENCE FICTION UPDATE: I've been reading Larry Niven's The Draco Tavern, a collection of short stories that fall outside his "Known Space" universe. I like interesting aliens, and Niven has come up with quite a few. This book has some old stories, but also several new ones, along with some old ones I'd somehow missed.

HUGH HEWITT looks at blogging and the GOP leadership race:

Will the collective effort matter? I am certain it already has, though the race is clearly up in the air. Information changes everything, and a previously closed system has been completely thrown open to public scrutiny.

Old media's interest has been narrowly focused on Abramoff and his money, and while the bloggers have spent considerable time on the corruption issues, so too have they brought important policy debates into the middle of the leadership contests.

Earmarking, for example, is not going survive this process as it used to be practiced. The openness movement is gaining momentum across the board.

I certainly hope he's right.

FROM THE BEIRUT SPRING TO TOPPLING ASSAD: Austin Bay looks ahead.

IRAQI VOTE RESULTS: "The election commission said Friday that an alliance of Shiite religious parties won the biggest number of seats in Iraq's new parliament but too few to rule without coalition partners. Sunni Arabs gained seats over the previous balloting."

There's lots more on this over at Iraq the Model.

HARRY'S PLACE notes a story I'd missed: "Responding to the Egyptian government's imprisonment of opposition leader Ayman Nour, the Bush administration has halted negotiations with Cairo over a free trade agreement."

KEEP AN EYE ON CNN: After the Eason Jordan affair, we know that they'll slant coverage to keep access to dictatorial regimes. And Iran has already been playing games with them:

Iran lifted its ban on CNN on Tuesday, a day after the government barred the U.S. network from the country because of its mistranslation of nuclear comments by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state television reported.

Ahmadinejad ordered the reversal "due to the expression of an apology" from CNN over the mistranslation, the state-run TV broadcast said.

So, as I say, watch 'em with a jaundiced eye on this subject. As Matt Welch wrote back when the Eason Jordan story broke:

This is appalling, though no surprise. The embarrassing Peter Arnett interview on Iraq TV was just a brief public glimpse on what has been a nasty little private "secret" for years -- that "news bureaus" in Baghdad and other totalitarian capitals (Havana, to name one) are actually propaganda huts, churning out what CNN producers call "sanctions coverage" (pieces on the awful humanitarian toll of international economic sanctions), while refusing to report the awful truth. It is possible, though intensely difficult, to do honest journalism in such circumstances. But with this column, I think we have the final proof that CNN will not be the news organization to rise to that challenge. Shame.

I can't see any reason to think they'll do better this time around, though I'd like it if they did.

UPDATE: Will Collier has more history.

RICHARD WHITMIRE writes in The New Republic on boys and education:

What's most worrisome are not long-standing gender differences but recent plunges in boys' relative performance. Between 1992 and 2002, the gap by which high school girls outperformed boys on tests in both reading and writing--especially writing--widened significantly. Given the reading and writing demands of today's college curriculum, that means a lot of boys out there are falling well short of being considered "college material." Which is why women now significantly outnumber men on college campuses, a phenomenon familiar enough to any sorority sister seeking a date to the next formal. This June, nearly six out of ten bachelor's degrees awarded will go to women. If the Department of Education's report is any indication, in coming years, this gender gap will grow even larger.

The report illustrates a dramatic and unsolved mystery: At some point in the early '80s, boys' relative academic records and aspirations took a downward turn. So far, no one has come up with a good explanation for this trend, but it's a story that affects millions of boys and their families. And yet, according to LexisNexis, the report was cited by name in only five newspaper and magazine articles. . . . Not only has there been little media attention to this crisis in boys' education, but there has been surprisingly little research. And the conventional wisdom offered up to explain the problem--boys play too many video games and listen to too much hip-hop music--can't explain a gender slide that's affecting not just the United States but much of the developed West.

Read the whole thing. (Via Ann Althouse, who notes that the article is short on solutions). Read this, too.

UPDATE: Still more on this subject, here.

January 19, 2006

CHRIS MATTHEWS compares Michael Moore to Osama bin Laden.

This is absurd, of course. Osama has a much better-tuned sense of the dramatic.

N.Z. BEAR has a roundup page tracking GOP House Majority Leader candidates' answers to blogospheric questions.

ANN COULTER: "Mainstream Democrat".

MORE ON UCLA'S ANGRY ALUMNI: Ann Althouse and Kieran Healy both have thoughts.

At best, the alumni seem to have two things confused. If they're concerned about a lack of ideological diversity on the campus, then listing all the left-wing activities of the faculty, and their voter registration, has some relevance, I guess. But it's not because it's wrong to be a Nader voter or a pro-labor activist, anymore than it's wrong to be a white male -- it's just evidence of insufficient diversity when you have a wildly disproportionate number of either.

On the other hand, if you want to focus on faculty doing wrong, then asking for tapes of professors bullying students in the classroom makes sense, but the other stuff is irrelevant. The UCLA project seems to conflate the two in an unfortunate fashion, suggesting that left-wing activism by faculty is somehow comparable to bullying students over ideology, which it's not at all. By doing so, the UCLA alumni hurt their own credibility.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Cathy Young, and from John Cole and The Argument Clinic.

ORIN KERR: "We're all just guessing here, of course. But my sense is that Alito is less conservative -- both politically and methodologically -- than a lot of people seem to think. This means that if you're on the left, you probably have less to fear from a Justice Alito than you expect. On the other hand, if you're on the right, you're probably going to end up a bit disappointed."

THE BELMONT CLUB looks at the post-post-colonial world:

The problem of what to do with chaos in the Third World is the one thing to which the pop doctrines of multiculturalism and transnationalism had no answer. The system of double-accounting, where Washington news was highlighted while events resulting in hundreds of thousands of Third World deaths [were] relegated to the back pages was the outcome of a system which knew how to the critique the one but not the other.

Read the whole thing.

THE PLUTO MISSION has blasted off: "The New Horizons spacecraft blasted off aboard an Atlas V rocket in a spectacular start to the $700 million mission. Though it is the fastest spacecraft ever launched, capable of reaching 36,000 mph, it will take 9 1/2 years to reach Pluto and the frozen, sunless reaches of the solar system."

INTERESTING REPORT FROM DENMARK:

Despite pressure by various Muslim countries (including Turkey, Bosnia, Egypt, etc.), by international organisations (including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union) and by some of Denmark’s own ‘sophisticated’ diplomats, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has courageously refused to limit freedom of expression in connection with the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Though most of the cartoons were far from offensive, Islam forbids depicting the Muslim prophet. So far no other European (or for that matter Western) government has spoken out in support of Rasmussen, but this, too, appears to be changing.

Instead of the Danish government surrendering to Muslim radicals, moderate Danish Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. A group of Muslims in the Danish city of Århus intend to organize a network of Muslims who do not want to be represented by fundamentalist Danish imams or others who preach the Sharia laws and oppression of women. “There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society,” said Bünyamin Simsek, a city councillor and one of the organizers. Århus witnessed severe riots after the publication of the cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten last Autumn.

I think that moderate Muslims are a lot more likely to speak out if they feel confident that the government will stand up to the immoderate ones.

MORE TRANSPARENCY THAN USUAL: Roy Blunt, candidate for House Majority Leader, had a conference call with bloggers. You can hear the audio here.

UPDATE: But not everybody got to ask their questons.

I HAVEN'T, IN FACT, been following the Ophelia Ford case, but Bob Krumm has been.

UPDATE: Michael Silence has more.

MICHAEL TOTTEN interviews the Muslim Brotherhood. "They are moderate, I suppose, depending on who they’re compared with."

NORAH VINCENT'S SELF-MADE MAN is getting some attention around the blogosphere. The Insta-Wife has a roundup.

DAVID WARREN ON THE CANADIAN ELECTIONS:

What I think the Liberals failed to anticipate up here, like the Democrats down there, was a development that may well prove the antidote to smear advertising over the longer run. For this is the Canadian election in which our “blogosphere” came of age. Sites such as Small Dead Animals, Angry in the GWN, the Shotgun, Andrew Coyne.com, Relapsed Catholic, and many others, respond to events almost instantaneously. Then, “news aggregators” such as Nealenews and Bourque direct readers quickly to the latest memes. Things that would have taken a week to unfold in the old media, now break over breakfast and are resolved by noon; and an hysterical smear ad is being mocked and parodied, long before the evening news.

No wonder they're trying to use election law against Canadian bloggers. Warren continues:

In short, the Internet has broken the stranglehold the Liberal Party had over sympathetic media, and created an information environment in which you had better be darned sure what you are saying is the strict truth, because there’s an army of fact-checkers out there. Moreover, an army that cannot easily be intimidated by off-the-record threats from Party lawyers, or made to desist by peer pressure. For even when (as we saw in the delayed release of Gomery testimony) a legal ban on publication can be obtained, the information simply passes through electronic space across the border, and we can all read the banned material on such sites as Captain’s Quarters from the USA.

An "army of fact-checkers." Not quite the army I would have invoked, but close enough.

THOMAS HOLSINGER offers an argument for invading Iran. Actually, simply blowing up their oil facilities and barring exports would probably bring down the regime. I suspect, however, that there's something else in the works.

UPDATE: Clayton Cramer notes that France is threatening nuclear attacks against terror-sponsoring states. Hmm. It does kind of feel like things are coming to a head.

IN THE MAIL: Fred Barnes' Rebel in Chief: How George Bush is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America. I haven't read it, but it's certainly clear that Bush isn't a "conservative" in the old sense of the word, which perhaps explains why so many people don't like him.

YES, WE'RE WINNING: Osama bin Laden offers a truce.

The offer is insincere, of course, but that he (or his designated al Qaeda stand-in) is making it at all tells us everything we need to know. I guess that "intelligence failure" in Pakistan must have been even more successful than we thought.

UPDATE: Austin Bay: "Essentially, the new Bin Laden tape says 'please don’t wage war on our turf, but let us wage war on yours.'"

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mike Silverman offers a list of bin Laden's Top Ten Conditions for a truce. Sample: "4. Bin Laden's part in any future movie must be played by Christopher Walken."

CONDI RICE wants to fix the State Department. Austin Bay looks at her plans.

THE PRESS IN BAGHDAD: An interesting report from DefenseTech on how fear of the insurgency is affecting reporting:

The abduction of 28-year-old Christian Science Monitor reporter Jill Carroll in Baghdad on Jan. 7 has had a profound effect on the city's Western press corps. More so than ever, unembedded media in Baghdad are fortified in a handful of besieged hotels that are under constant surveillance by insurgent groups. Few Western reporters ever leave these hotels, instead relying on local stringers to gather quotes and research stories. And some reporters are finally throwing in the towel, forever abandoning this relentless and unforgiving city. . . .

.S. Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson has some sound theories about the insurgents' media strategies. While stressing that he "can't speak for insurgent groups," Col. Johnson says these strategies "boil down to influencing the media environment ... to get attention away from progress."

Whether there is much progress in Arab Iraq is certainly debatable, but it's apparent that the increasing inability of media to cover ANYTHING, much less coalition successes, is hurting the war effort. Iraq is a big, complicated problem, and as media flee or hunker down deeper in their hotel fortresses, the Western world's understanding of Iraq can only suffer.

There is a workable solution, and it's called embedding. No one protects journos as well as the U.S. and British militaries, but many media refuse to embed because they fear losing their objectivity. This is a valid fear, one even U.S. officers acknowledge, but what's better: slightly biased coverage? Or no coverage at all?

As the UPI's Pam Hess noted a while back, the press seems relatively unconcerned about being manipulated by the insurgency, but deeply afraid of anything that might slant its reporting in favor of the U.S. military; this is just another illustration of that phenomenon. But terrorism is, of course, information war disguised as military action, and manipulating the press is what the terrorists are all about. If the press were more resistant to such tactics, the terrorists would be less effective -- and, ironically, the press would be a less appealing target.

UPDATE: Dave Price has related thoughts.

ROY BLUNT states his case in the Wall Street Journal. That makes all three candidates who have done this. (See also the pieces by Boehner and Shadegg this week.)

Meanwhile, here's Boehner, Shadegg, and Blunt answering blogospheric questions on Hugh Hewitt's show. I have to say, I think this has probably been the most open leadership contest in history.

HERE'S MORE on the Medicare Part D debacle discussed below.

TOM MAGUIRE has some questions.

OPEN AND SHUT ON THE INTERNET: My TCS Daily column is up.

January 18, 2006

MICHAEL TOTTEN writes on divisions in Syria, and Lebanon: "This is terrific in a watch-the-bad-guys-turn-on-each-other sort of way."

MEGAN MCARDLE's coblogger "Winterspeak" looks at Internet Providers' proposals for tiered service. My TCS column for tomorrow will be on the same topic.

JOHN HINDERAKER notes a double standard on leakers now that the Barrett Report is coming out.

STEPHEN TAYLOR reports on efforts to crush independent journalism in Canada.

GREYHAWK: "60 Minutes with Murtha and Me."

UPDATE: More here.

THE LATEST Carnival of Homeschooling is up! So is Grand Rounds!

NOW IT'S Roy Blunt answering questions from bloggers, etc., on Hugh Hewitt's show.

Meanwhile, Jim Sensenbrenner has announced for Shadegg.

UPDATE: Mark Tapscott:

I must admit, it is a bit disconcerting that Blunt appears not to be sufficiently familiar with the FOIA to recognize what the acronym means. Probably indicative of how important it is to apply the FOIA to Congress.

Indeed.

BILL ROGGIO notes that contrary to claims it killed innocent civilians, the U.S. airstrike in Pakistan took down some major terrorists.

UPDATE: Robert Bidinotto says we need more "intelligence failures" like this one. And the Counterterrorism Blog has more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Further information suggests that the strike was even more successful than the above reports indicated.

MORE: Tigerhawk reports that not everyone is happy. "The uncompromising left really should do a better job of concealing its quite obvious hope that Bush fails in every aspect of the prosecution of this war. It almost makes it hard for us to believe that they support the troops, fer Chrissakes."

IS THE NEW YORK TIMES putting itself in an email bubble? That seems unwise.

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE has thoughts on UCLA's angry alumni. My own sense is that a place where he and Eugene Volokh are happy can't be too oppressively leftist, but then, that's the law school. Law schools tend to be less oppressive than other graduate programs because both the faculty and the students have more options, and because lawyers tend to be unwilling to take abuse. I do agree with Bainbridge that the Bruin alumni need to distinguish between truly oppressive behavior toward students in class (bad) and political behavior outside class (nobody's business).

On the intellectual property question I'm not sure, though it strikes me as absurd to claim that taping classes is illegal. Students do it all the time, and if UCLA enforces that rule only with regard to critics, I doubt it will stand up. Plus it's just lame.

UPDATE: UCLA Alumna Gina Cobb says it's worse than I think.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh weighs in. And Bainbridge has a followup post noting the power of technology: "When I was in college or law school, there basically was no way for students to speak out about alleged abuses by professors short of 1960s-style campus riots, which by the time I went to university the local cops were really good at squelching. Sure, you could give the professor low evaluations, but when the prof had tenure, that didn't have much impact. And, there was an urban legend at my school about a guy who dropped trou on one especially annoying prof. The same was true of most authority figures back then. There was no way to effectively complain about news anchors, politicians, union leaders, or what have you. The internet has changed all that."

MORE: On taping classes, reader Keith Wilson emails:

When I was an evening student 1L in 1981, we lived by the recorder. There just weren't enough hours in the day to assemble class notes, hornbook notes, study group notes, etc. Remember, this was WAY before the net, hell, during the infancy of LexisNexis. Anyway, the big shock came when I went to a review from a writing professor. In our school, they were last year's grads gaining experience by teaching legal writing. For my critique, I pulled out the Sony microcassette recorder (that then, cost about a week's pay) and started to record the comments on my legal writing. Of course, the teacher went ballistic, accusing me of trying to "trap" him at something. I was dumbfounded. At that point in my legal career, I couldn't comprehend what he was saying. I was just a dopey 1L trying to capture as much information as possible to help me get through school!

In retrospect, I've altered my position over the years. I've vasicilated between incredulity, and acceptance. Some 25 years later, I realize he was just a putz. If he was concerned with what was being recorded, he shouldn't have expressed it, or at least had the balls to stand by his conviction.

I never mind students taping my class. On occasion, I've even turned on the recorder myself for students who had to be away for some pressing reason -- though I've been known to start the recording, and then go on, as if finishing a statement, with " . .. . so that's what will be on the final exam. Don't tell anyone who wasn't here today!" That always gets a laugh. But my feeling is that a class is a public event, not a private one. If it were a seminar where students shared private matters in discussion it would be different, but that's not the kind of stuff I teach.

DAVID GELERNTER has posted his reply to Jaron Lanier over at Cato Unbound. You can see links to earlier responses by me, John Perry Barlow, and Eric S. Raymond in the sidebar.

JONATHAN COHN:

So just how badly is President Bush's Medicare prescription drug program, known as "Part D," going? On Tuesday morning, I landed in Nashville, Tennessee, to find this bold headline atop the Tennessean front page: "Pharmacists Decry Medicare Chaos." As the article went on to explain, "Area pharmacists are saying that the federal government's new drug plan for the elderly and disabled is a nightmare for druggists and an out-and-out catastrophe for the poor."

A few hours later, I got a glimpse of such frustration first-hand. While I sat inside a clinic that serves a low-income, rural community near the Alabama border, I heard a nurse in the next room scream. She later explained why: She said she had just spent 45 minutes on hold with a Part D insurer, trying to inquire about a prescription, only to get disconnected. And it wasn't the first time.

I guess the Administration could try to spin this as "making Medicare more like private insurance," but the word "debacle" seems more fitting. Not only was this program a bad idea, any hopes the Bush Administration may have had for getting "compassionate conservative" bonus points are unlikely to be borne out.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Jagidtsch emails:

My girlfriend is a pharmacist that works in a facility that supports nursing homes. As you can imagine, virtually every order involves insurers and Medicare.

The bureaucracy of this new program is far worse than the typical government program. It has totally killed productivity, with pharmacy techs on hold forever, as your post from today states. True story: one tech called in, and the insurance company hold message stated "You are caller seven hundred thirteen in the queue."

It's indeed an organizational debacle...

Jeez. If you're #713, you should just be reimbursed for absolutely anything you do. That'll give 'em an incentive to cut the hold times.

ANDREW SULLIVAN has moved over to Time, and the new blog design is considerably more legible.

IN THE MAIL: A copy of Norah Vincent's Self-Made Man : One Woman's Journey into Manhood and Back. It's basically a Male Like Me book -- she disguised herself (rather convincingly) as a man named "Ned," lived that way for several months, and writes about what she learned. I opened the book at random to this passage from the section on dating:

Bisexuals know that hurt gets inflicted by both sexes in equal measure if not always by the same means. But for these women -- who had never dated other women, and thus never been romantically hurt by them -- men as a subspecies, not the particular men with whom they had been involved, were to blame for the wreck of a relationship and the psychic damage it had done to them.

It's hardly surprising, then, that in this atmosphere, as a single man dating women, I often felt attacked, judged, onthe defensive. Whereas with the men I met and befriended as Ned there was a a presumption of innocence -- that is, you're a good guy until you prove otherwise -- with women there was quite often a presumption of guilt: you're a cad like every other guy until you prove otherwise.

"Pass my test and then we'll see if you're worthy of me" was the implicit message coming across the table at me. And this from women who had demonstrably little to offer. "Be lighthearted," they said, though buoyant as lead zeppelins themselves. "Be kind," they insisted in the harshest of tones. "Don't be like the others," they implied, while having virtually condemned me as such before hand.

It was enough to make me want to read the whole thing (and to be glad I'm not single!), and I did, at one sitting, last night. I think the book's terrific, and it's going to make a huge splash. Helen's now grabbed it, and she agrees so far. We're going to try to get Vincent on for a podcast interview next week.

UPDATE: Reader E.J. Boysen emails:

As a 48-year-old never married single man still in decent shape, successful and now retired, and having weathered the "feminist" cultural storm still raging since my teens, I can tell you that even your having read Norah Vincent's book, you STILL have no idea of the anger, the hatred, the vengeance and the pain so many otherwise attractive and available women are afflicted with. It is an epidemic of conflict and self-distortion that begins and ends with an impenetrable sense of entitlement, based on a false sense of victimhood, and for which not just any man but every man must pay forever for the restoration that's never good enough.

The "feminist" demand runs from fathers to brothers to sons and husbands, to their friends and acquaintances and chance encounters; it is endless. "I am woman, hear me roar" has produced a psychological wasteland that would put Sherman's march to shame and into which any man who travels does so at his peril. My assessment certainly does not apply to all women, of course, but the damage done by what I'm calling the "feminist" demand is so severe and pervasive that at my age, it just ain't worth it to go through it all again only to end up with yet another petulant woman-child unwilling or incapable of accepting responsibility for her own happiness and success in life, and who deeply resents the fact I have found my own without her, and so becomes determined to destroy it. I'm too old, I'm too tired, and the scars are too deep and too close to the bone. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Bought a dog, gone fishin', never happier.

Of course, there are plenty of loser-guys on the dating scene, as well as loser women, but we do tend to hear more about them. However, I should stress that dating isn't a big part of the book -- just the part that caught my eye first. And Boysen's complaints aren't just his -- in fact, Helen had a post on this the other day. Her comments indicate that many men are happier. Certainly I am.

STILL MORE: Another reader writes:

I'm 52 and didn't get married till I was 35, so I know exactly the type of woman to which Mr. Boysen is referring. But I had the type figured out by the time I was 25, and although the petulant woman/child can be alluring, they are generally recognizable in less than a half hour of conversation. Quit complaining and move on!

He needs to find the woman who is serious about what she is and what she does without taking herself too seriously. There is no better place in the world to find that kind of woman than here in the US.

That's the kind of woman I married. But maybe I was lucky. Also, we were put together in the best possible way -- via an ex-girlfriend. Nobody knows you better than an ex-girlfriend. That's one reason why it's important to stay on good terms with 'em, as I generally have. Besides, if you pick your girlfriends well at the outset, you'll usually stay on good terms with them even after you break up, because they'll basically be decent people.

Mr. Snitch has much more.

DANIEL DREZNER has an interesting roundup on Iran. "The approach the Bush administration has pursued towards Iran -- multilateralism, private and public diplomacy, occasionally deferring to allies -- is besotted with the very tropes that liberals like to see in their American foreign policy. I'm still not sure what the end game will be with regard to Iran, but to date I can't see how a Kerry administration would have played its cards any differently than the Bush team."

TIM BLAIR EXPOSES DOUBLE STANDARDS.

UPDATE: Also, check out the Carnival of the Lies. (Via DailyPundit).

ANOTHER UPDATE: Heh.

And heh, again.

MORE: Ed Morrissey fact-checks the New York Times on another error.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (free link) has a roundup on the NSA intercept issue, and notes that nobody in a position to talk knows enough about what actually went on to know whether it was legal or not -- though, of course, that isn't stopping lots of people from offering opinions. (More on this at Volokh, and also here, plus further thoughts from Tom Maguire.)

Meanwhile, TalkLeft has more on cellphone companies' willingness to sell your data to pretty much anyone, and observes, "A cellphone company must surely be concerned about its own civil liability to its customers for invasion of privacy or theft of trade secrets."

As I said a while back, David Brin's The Transparent Society is looking more prophetic all the time.

UPDATE: Max Boot:

I CAN CERTAINLY understand the uproar over President Bush's flagrant abuses of civil liberties. This is America. What right does that fascist in the White House have to imprison Michael Moore, wiretap Nancy Pelosi and blackmail Howard Dean?

Wait. You mean he hasn't done those things? All he's done is intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their contacts in the U.S. without a court order? Talk about defining impeachable offenses downward. . . . If the president's critics want that part of the nation that doesn't read the Nation to believe that he's a threat to our freedom, they'd better do more than turn up the level of vituperation. They'd better find some real victims — the Eugene Debses and Martin Luther Kings of the war on terror.

The anti-Bush brigade hasn't had any luck in turning up actual instances of abuse, despite no end of effort. The ACLU compiled a list of supposed victims of the Patriot Act. After examining each case, however, Sen. Dianne Feinstein — no friend of the administration — said "it does not appear that these charges rose to the level of 'abuse.' "

Read the whole thing.

MORE: Lots more links from Hugh Hewitt.

ANDREW FERGUSON writes that after Abramoff, Congress is fixing the wrong problem. No surprise there.

Meanwhile, John Shadegg is in the Wall Street Journal, (free link):

Republicans promised the American people two things in 1994. First, we promised to rein in the size and scope of the federal government. Second, we promised to clean up Washington. In recent years, we have fallen short on both counts. Total federal spending has grown by 33% since 1995, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Worse, we have permitted some of the same backroom practices that flourished in the old Democrat-controlled House. Powerful members of Congress are able to insert provisions giving away millions--even tens of millions--of dollars in the dead of night. The recent scandals involving Duke Cunningham and Jack Abramoff have highlighted the problem, but this is not just a case of a few bad apples. The system itself needs structural reforms.

Indeed.

UPDATE: On Hugh Hewitt's show, John Boehner answers questions from Hewitt, bloggers, et al.

CHRIS ANDERSON rejoices on finishing his manuscript. I can dig it.

January 17, 2006

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON:

Have you seen the coming attraction trailer for "Democratic Presidential Nomination '08: Al vs. Hillary" yet? It just opened yesterday, in the dueling speeches by Al Gore and Hillary Clinton.

And you can already see the two different approaches.

I think a better analogy is the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals.

Glenn & Helen Podcast: Interviewing Todd Steed & Ana Marie Cox

anamariecox.jpg

It's another InstaPundit / Dr. Helen podcast, featuring ex-Wonkette Ana Marie Cox, who talks about her new novel Dog Days, Nick Denton's eccentric management style, how blogging actually helps with book-writing (I agree) and the role of women in the blogosphere -- a subject on which she and Helen are not in agreement.

Also, controversial musician Todd Steed, who discusses his song "TennCare Buzz" -- possibly the most controversial rock and roll song about prescription drug policy ever recorded. (No, Kurt Cobain's "Lithium" doesn't count.) He also talks about his new CD, Heart Break and Duct Tape, as well as death, rock and roll, bands that won't play "Freebird" any more, and the lasting consequences of high school -- plus the joys of having a home studio. (More of his music is online here). Todd's segment begins at about 20:30.


toddsphere.jpg


You can hear the podcast directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking here. It's also available through iTunes, or you can subscribe to the RSS feed to the right.

Hope you like it! As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.

"I WAS A NAZI FOR FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON UNIVERSITY:" Well, that's what the story says, more or less.

DEAN PETERS is spoofing Pat Robertson and Ray Nagin in the same graphic. They seem to deserve each other.

A FRENCH POLL looks at Chirac's successes and failures, and in doing so explains a lot.

HILLARY CLINTON: The House of Representatives is "run like a plantation."

JOHN PERRY BARLOW'S essay in response to Jaron Lanier (he also responds to me, and to Eric S. Raymond) is now up at Cato Unbound.

TOUGH TALK ON IRAN from Mohammed El-Baradei.

JIM GERAGHTY reports from Jordan, and says the Washington Post errs regarding security at the Amman airport.

TAXPROF reports on a court battle between Turbo Tax and H&R Block's Tax Cut.

I'm actually in the market for one or the other this year -- the Insta-Wife does our taxes, and she's decided that software-assistance is a good thing. (Back when I was single, I always used Turbo Tax, but that experience is ancient in software terms, so it's not worth much.) The Block software is cheaper, but is it good? The Amazon reviews don't seem much different.

UPDATE: Also via TaxProf, reviews of different tax-software packages.

I HAVE TO SAY, the Pluto mission is pretty cool:

The scheduled launch of the New Horizons spacecraft Tuesday afternoon, and a successful, nine-year journey to Pluto, would complete an exploration of the planets started by NASA in the early 1960s with unmanned missions to observe Mars, Mercury and Venus.

"What we know about Pluto today could fit on the back of a postage stamp," said Colleen Hartman, a deputy associate administrator at NASA. "The textbooks will be rewritten after this mission is completed."

Now we need to start resume moving humanity out beyond Earth orbit.

ARNOLD KLING: "Most of my friends are liberals. This series is the conversation I wish that I could have with them. I wish they would let me finish my train of thought before interrupting. I wish that they would consider my arguments, rather than try to bury them in rhetorical put-downs."

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Well, at least we've gotten their attention, as House Majority Leader candidate John Boehner waxes eloquent for reform in today's WSJ:

We must start by addressing the growing practice of unauthorized earmarks--language in spending bills that directs federal dollars to private entities for projects that are not tied to an existing federal program or purpose. The public knows the practice better by a different name--pork-barreling. Unauthorized earmarks squander taxpayer dollars and lack transparency. They feed public cynicism. They've been a driving force in the ongoing growth of our already gargantuan federal government, and a major factor in government's increasing detachment from the priorities of individual Americans. Earmarks have also fueled the growth of the lobbying industry. Entire firms have been built around the practice. As more entities circumvent the normal competitive process, confidence in the system erodes, encouraging others to take the same shortcuts. . . .

As long as the federal government is as big and powerful as it is, there will be corrupt lobbyists like Jack Abramoff. The best way to deal with influence peddling in Washington is to move more power out of the Beltway and back to states and communities. We can start by putting Congress on a lower-pork diet and fixing the broken system we have today.

On the other hand, his argument for lobbying reform (because "literally anyone can be a lobbyist") seems less impressive. What we need is transparency, not another Washington-insiders guild.

January 16, 2006

HEATHER MACDONALD says that law school legal clinics are stuck in the 1960s. That's no doubt true in places, though I believe our clinic at Tennessee, together with the Center for Entrepreneurial Law, is working to provide the kinds of services to small businesspeople that she calls for.

UPDATE: A U.T. Legal Clinic client, now residing in London, weighs in.

RAY NAGIN CALLS FOR A "CHOCOLATE NEW ORLEANS." Ian Schwartz has it on video. Kind of ironic, on this of all days.

UPDATE: Nagin was also channeling Pat Robertson:

Mayor Ray Nagin suggested Monday that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other storms were a sign that "God is mad at America" and at black communities, too, for tearing themselves apart with violence and political infighting.

God's apparently also mad at us for being in Iraq, according to a further statement by Nagin.

Nagin seems to be doing his best to squander what little sympathy was left after the Louisiana delegation squandered most of it with its absurd demand for $250 billion in "reconstruction" money, much of which seemed destined to go straight into the delegation's pockets. Louisianans are not blessed in terms of their political class.

ANOTHER UPDATE: California's political class is a close second.

AL GORE SPEAKS, and people are looking at history. And Tim Lynch has responded by emailing this link to a Cato look at the Clinton-Gore administration and the Constitution.

Some people, on the other hand, are just getting mean.

Sigh. I remember when I used to be impressed with Al Gore. Seeing what's happened to him makes me sad.

UPDATE: More on how Gore acted when he was in power, as opposed to how he's talking now. Meanwhile, an endless array of emailers recycles the "no controlling legal authority" line.

HEZBOLLAH creates more problems in Lebanon.

JOHN SHADEGG was on Hugh Hewitt's show tonight, answering some tough questions. Here's the transcript.

JOE GANDELMAN offers thoughts on why Democrats lose independent voters.

IF, LIKE DANA MILBANK, you don't know what Humphrey's Executor is about (and, in fact, dismiss it as "gobbledygook"), then you probably shouldn't be opining on Supreme Court candidates and their views of executive power.

UPDATE: On the other hand, boasting a Humphrey's Executor screen saver may be carrying devotion a bit too far.

THE MANOLO IS HOSTING the Carnival of Couture. It's super-fabulous!

DIPTI VAIDYA makes me jealous by videoblogging from the Pelican Bar off the coast of Jamaica.

HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY: "This holiday is as good a time as any to remember how one of our greatest Americans was bugged and harassed by a paranoid, power-mad J. Edgar Hoover, in the name of National Security."

I blame John Ashcroft. And the Patriot Act.

AT THE AMERICAN FILM RENAISSANCE, they showed excerpts from Theo Van Gogh's Submission. Andrew Marcus and Clay Champlin have another video report, and Roger Simon, who was there, has a post up, too.

A PREHISTORY of the Great War of 2007, and how it might have been avoided.

Perhaps worth reading along with John Gaddis on the Cold War. I think our big error was in not preempting Iran in 1979. Everything since has been an effort to rectify that dreadful mistake.

UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, the U.N. isn't helping. "The top U.N. officials responsible for nuclear nonproliferation are in the business of facilitating Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons."

DANIEL GLOVER WRITES on the GOP's courtship of the blogosphere, and offers a useful warning to those being courted.

UPDATE: If the GOP wants to court yours truly, it would do better to have the leadership candidates answer questions like these.

I'M READING John Ringo's Princess of Wands, in which a serial killer (who appears to be an honest to, er, God, necromancer) is in the part I'm reading at the moment being stalked at a science-fiction/fantasy convention. Pretty fun, and a big departure from the earlier Ringo stuff I've read.

UPDATE: Baen Books has sample chapters online here.

CARNIVAL-0-RAMA: The Carnival of the Capitalists is up. So is the Blawg Review. And there's also the Carnival of Personal Finance.

MARK STEYN on the Alito hearings:

The media did their best to neutralize the impact of this pitiful spectacle, with expert commentators on hand to assure us that smart fellows like Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden were only going through the motions for the sake of all that MoveOn.org fund-raising gravy. Don't worry, Ted and Chuck and Pat are way too savvy to believe this junk. Thus democratic politics reaches a new level of circular hell: The spin is that it's only spin.

As I understand it, with the Jack Abramoff dirty-money stuff, lobby groups give big bucks to politicians to advocate various things which, pre-check-cashing, the politicians may or may not have believed in. But this last week of Senate hearings has been so absurd it may bring the whole system into disrepute: Big-time Democrats are out there dancing for dollars in a cause so obviously non-viable that their media buddies feel obliged to signal that it's merely a charade. Does that satisfy anybody?

Not so you'd notice. Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A somewhat similar view from PrawfsBlawg:

I don't normally post more partisan observations, for a variety of reasons -- reasons which are only reinforced by the blogging discussion at the AALS conference. But it seems to me this has been a great week for the Republican Party. Although it will come back, of course, the Abramoff/DeLay/Ney/Project K story largely dropped off the front pages this week. Congressman DeLay couldn't have timed his decision not to seek to regain his leadership seat better: it dropped into a Saturday/Sunday news hole, and was pushed aside by Monday to make room for the Alito hearings, at which the Senate Democrats did themselves no particular favors and for which the price of their obedience to Democratic-leaning interest groups was a front page photograph of a nominee's wife tearing up.

The conclusion: "I appreciate the value that interest groups such as NOW and NARAL have to the Democrats in the political process, but if I were running the party I would be seeking a Sister Souljah moment with those groups at least once a week, or better yet ignoring them altogether."

And here's a Wall Street Journal roundup (free link) on the "confirmation battle that never was."

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE photoblogs the L.A. Auto Show.

GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER? Some thoughts on Zawahiri and "civilian" casualties.

January 15, 2006

AUSTIN BAY writes that Walter Cronkite doesn't know what he's talking about.

Walter who?

THIS IS COOL: "After a seven-year journey, a NASA space capsule returned safely to Earth on Sunday with the first dust ever fetched from a comet, a cosmic bounty that scientists hope will yield clues to how the solar system formed."

I hope it doesn't unleash the dreaded Cometary Plague, of course. Not likely.

OVER AT MONDO HOLLYWOOD, an interview with Patricia Heaton about her new documentary, described as "Waiting for Guffman meets Spellbound."

I liked Spellbound.

UPDATE: More on Patricia Heaton's documentary here.

HUGH HEWITT has an application questionnaire for GOP leadership aspirants.

UPDATE: Bob Ney steps down.

CODE PINK and Nancy Pelosi: Gateway Pundit looks at a troubled relationship.

OOPS: Another reason why newspapers need affirmative action for people with military experience.

UPDATE: More on the NYT's photo error, here.

PAMELA ANDERSON'S BUST: I've always preferred thighs to breasts myself.

UPDATE: Original recipe, or extra crispy? I prefer original recipe, though extra crispy can be tasty, too.

DANIEL DREZNER announces a winner in his Senatorial-dumbness contest. It was a hardfought battle!

LAST WEEK'S INAUGURAL PODCAST featured music from Audra and the Antidote, both at the beginning and along with the interview with Audra Coldiron that appears at about 22:45. Lots of people liked it, and some people wanted to know where to get more. You can get it through their website (here's a direct link to the downloads page) if you like. I first encountered the band back pre-InstaPundit, when I was running a series of now-defunct Internet radio stations, one of which (Nashtunes.com) featured some of their stuff. I've been a fan ever since.

THE HISTORY CARNIVAL is up! So is the new Haveil Havalim, and the Carnival of the Recipes!

I fell a bit behind with the carnivals last week, so here's the Carnival of Education, and the Carnival of Homeschooling. Also, the Carnival of the Vanities. And there are lots more carnivals at BlogCarnival.com, of course.

UPDATE: There's also the Carnival of the Cats, up at Niobium. (Via Sissy Willis).

HOWARD KURTZ has a report on the Republican leadership race, noting a resurgence of the spirit of 1994. The Republicans need to get in touch with that spirit, if they want to remain in power. "Shadegg has drawn his strongest backing from economic conservatives. CNBC commentator Larry Kudlow said on his blog that if Shadegg were to succeed Tom DeLay in the No. 2 House post, it 'would stop the misbegotten march toward big government conservatism and budget excess which has gotten the Republican Congress into so much trouble.'"

I don't know enough about Shadegg to be sure, but somebody needs to stop that "misbegotten march." And regardless of who's elected, we need to see reforms that will ensure a lot more transparency and accountability.

TIGERHAWK has thoughts on "Remembering May, the 'gang of 14' and the vindication of various people."

TOP TEN BLOGGER LIES. Heh.

CHRIS ANDERSON looks at the demise of big-box music stores: Makes sense to me. I still buy CDs -- usually through Amazon, or my local store, The Disc Exchange, which is very good at carrying local bands -- but I haven't darkened the doors of a Sam Goody's, etc., in years. And I buy more and more stuff via iTunes. Ed Driscoll has similar experience.

And, by the way, my last album (Mobius Dick's Embrace the Machine) is now available on iTunes. I don't know whether Got Dick? or Indistinguishable from Magic will be going up later or not. I guess it depends on how Mobius Dick's dozens of fans react!

THIS IS INTERESTING:

Female soldiers have long fought off perceptions that their bodies just aren't equipped to handle the rigors of training and warfare. But a decade's worth of research suggests that women are hardly as fragile as critics once thought.

A new study by military researchers found that many assumptions about female bodies are "astoundingly wrong." Women are just as good as men -- in some cases, perhaps even better -- at handling intense exercise and decompression sickness.

The findings, reported in the Journal of Women's Health, don't change the fact that women -- on the whole -- are smaller and less powerful than men. Still, they suggest "that human physiology is more consistent than would be suggested by the social embellishments and exaggerations" that come about when there isn't any actual research, said Col. Karl Friedl, commander of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and co-author of the report (.pdf).

Read the whole thing.

"THE OXYGEN OF PUBLICITY:" Clive Davis notices something odd from the BBC.

AVIAN (AND REGULAR) FLU UPDATE:

The government, for the first time, is urging doctors not to prescribe two antiviral drugs commonly used to fight influenza after discovering that the predominant strain of the virus has built up high levels of resistance to them at alarming speed.

A whopping 91 percent of virus samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this flu season proved resistant to rimantadine and amantadine, a huge increase since last year, when only 11 percent were.

The discovery adds to worries about how to fight bird flu should it start spreading among people. Health officials had hoped to conserve use of two newer antiviral drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, because they show activity against bird flu, unlike the older drugs.

Now, because of the resistance issue, the newer drugs are being recommended for ordinary flu, increasing the chances that resistance will develop more rapidly to them, too, as they become more commonly used.

Just one more thing to worry about. And another reason to push harder for new, better antiviral drugs.