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Monthly Archives: April 2003

Still Not Getting It

April 30th, 2003 - 11:22 am

Stanley Kurtz on gay marriage:

Gay marriage would set in motion a series of threats to the ethos of monogamy from which the institution of marriage may never recover. Yet up to now, our society has been unable to face the real costs and consequences of the proposed change. That is partly because of an understandable sympathy for the gay-rights movement. But it also reflects the sheer inability of modern folk to grasp the operation, necessity

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Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart

April 30th, 2003 - 1:51 am

Found this on Drudge:

An Iraqi group opposed to the US presence in Iraq said yesterday that Saddam Hussein would address the country within three days.

“He is still alive. He is going to address a message to Iraqis and to the (Arab) nation within 72 hours,” the previously-unknown Iraqi Resistance and Liberation wrote in a letter published by the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi. The group said that it was not made up of “the remnants of the (ousted) Iraqi Government”.

Should US military intelligence be able to zero in on the location of the broadcast, they plan to send in Ash and his “boomstick” to finish off the undead Saddam.

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This Is Jane Galt Speaking

April 30th, 2003 - 1:44 am

And she’s today’s Required Reading.

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What Would Winona Do?

April 30th, 2003 - 1:34 am

She probably just wanted to get something nice for Karen.

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Pay to Play II

April 30th, 2003 - 1:32 am

Just one day after this sometime file swapper said he’d gladly pay a buck a song, the RIAA goes and does this:

The record industry opened a new front in its war against online piracy on Tuesday by surprising hundreds of thousands of Internet song swappers with an instant message warning that they could be “easily” identified and face “legal penalties” for their actions.

About 200,000 users of the Grokster and Kazaa file-sharing services received the warning notice on Tuesday and millions more will get notices in coming weeks, said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the music companies.

The message said in part: “It appears that you are offering copyrighted music to others from your computer. …When you break the law, you risk legal penalties. There is a simple way to avoid that risk: DON’T STEAL MUSIC either by offering it to others to copy or downloading it on a ‘file-sharing’ system like this. When you offer music on these systems, you are not anonymous and you can easily be identified.”

So I logged on to WinMX and downloaded a couple of pirate cuts off the new Madonna album I was planning on buying.

Screw’em all.

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El Mindo Blanco

April 30th, 2003 - 12:22 am

There is, I suppose, still some cachet in certain fashionable circles to be had from a Norman Mailer byline. However, a newspaper as prestigious as the Times of London really ought to know better — the poor man hasn’t written anything of any vigor since the 1970s. Anyway, he has a column today, so I’ll give you three grafs (and let you decide if you can stomach reading all of it). Here you go:

The key question remains

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Fly, Be Free

April 29th, 2003 - 8:10 pm

Mike Hendrix is a lucky, lucky bastard.

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Mean-Spirited Fun

April 29th, 2003 - 4:06 pm

Sex tips from Rick Santorum.

Let the Lotting begin!

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Rim Shot

April 29th, 2003 - 10:33 am

My bride just forwarded a very bad email joke to me:

Saddam has been caught. Troops heard that he was hiding in a field near Basra. They sprayed the field with Viagra and the prick stood up.

I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your servers.

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Power to the People

April 29th, 2003 - 9:46 am

More stiffling of free speech on campus, reported by the Palmetto Journal blog .

It’s the same old story, really. The Old Guard on the left tries to ensure that “free speech” means “our orthodoxy.” What makes it different is, it provides contact information (including email addresses) of the would-be oppressors.

Man, I do love the blogosphere.

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Better Late Than Never?

April 29th, 2003 - 9:29 am

From Bloomberg:

Stressing they want to strengthen Europe’s alliance with the U.S., not weaken it, four states that opposed war in Iraq urged Europe to pool military spending and develop joint intervention and transport forces.

The leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg said their proposals are open to all members of the European Union.

“We believe the time has come to take new steps in the construction of a Europe of security and defense, based on strengthened European military capabilities which will also give a new vitality to the Atlantic alliance and open the way to a renewed trans-Atlantic relationship,” a joint statement said.

In professional political terms, this is called “sucking up.”

Sure, it might be nice in the future if continental Europe had a military able to fight alongside our own in some distant land. But there are two big problems.

First, their proposal isn’t just about sucking up to us. Of course Germany would like better relations with us again, and (believe it or not) so would France. But they still see a European Rapid Reaction Force as a counterweight to our military, not just an add-on to it. “You need us to help you fight,” they’d love to be able to argue, “so we’re going tot help decide where and when and how.” A Franco-German RRF would more likely be used in the same way as France’s UN veto than it would to act as an allied army.

Second, it ain’t gonna happen. Neither France nor Germany (the only two nations big enough to count) can afford a deployable military without slashing their welfare states. Cutting entitlement payments to populations as gray as theirs is about as likely as a crack ho getting a jumbo mortgage at 5.5%. Besides, Europe has been talking about these improvements for years without doing anything much to achieve them.

And so NATO will continue in its new role as the Press Release Alliance, and nothing more.

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Fixed

April 29th, 2003 - 9:06 am

Good to have you back, Sarge.

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Worrywarts

April 29th, 2003 - 1:43 am

Check out this from the New York Times:

Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor running for president, has told an audience in New Hampshire that the United States “won’t always have the strongest military,” an assertion that drew a strong rebuke today from one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination.

Dr. Dean’s remark, at a yogurt factory in New Hampshire two weeks ago, was posted on Time magazine’s Web site today. It was instantly attacked by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, whose campaign issued a statement maintaining that it raised “serious questions about his capacity to serve as commander in chief.”

“No serious candidate for the presidency,” said Mr. Kerry’s spokesman, Chris Lehane, “has ever before suggested that he would compromise or tolerate an erosion of America’s military supremacy.”

Dr. Dean rejected that characterization of his comment. “What serious presidential candidate would ever say such a thing?” he said. “How ridiculous!”

Erosion of military strength is a problem, although not for the reasons Dean is probably thinking of. While Dean didn’t give any details for his worry, he’s about as far-left as you can get and still get elected a governor in this country. So my guess is, going from what I think is his mindset, that he has an all-too-typical leftist view of American decline. This is a lousy nation, the thinking goes, so of course we won’t remain preeminent forever.

The real problem is called “victory disease,” and it’s something suffered by any winning military.

You can read about it in this book, Getting It Right, which not only details VD (heh), but also how “defeat” in Vietnam spurred US armed forces to the reforms that made possible our victory in the ’91 Gulf War.

Put simply, victorious armies tend to rest on their laurels, and look to past strengths rather than future threats. Meanwhile, the losing side takes a very hard look at what went wrong and how to do better next time.

America, with our healthy aversion to imperial antics and foreign adventures, has suffered VD badly before. Think Pearl Harbor, Kasserine Pass, Task Force Smith, and pretty much the opening battle of every war we fought before 1991.

The military can’t take all the blame, though. Bush ’41 promised us a “peace dividend,” leaving us with a much-reduced military, unable to simultaneously fight two major wars as promised. Clinton and his crony generals bought us lots of nice new toys, but left us short on simple items like spare parts. Hell, even Donald Rumsfeld proposed slashing the Army from a measly ten divisions down to a dangerous seven.

So when John Kerry says that “no serious candidate has ever before suggested that he would compromise or tolerate an erosion of America’s military supremacy,” keep in mind that campaign promises don’t equal military effectiveness. It’s victory disease that leaves us with a shrunken army short on ammo.

Dean is right to worry — only he’s wrong about the reasons. If we fail in the future, it will be not because of our faults, but because of our virtues.

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Required Reading

April 29th, 2003 - 12:59 am

Today it’s Shelby Steele in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s a small bit:

This new 21st-century racial problem might be called the problem of emergence–the shock that formerly oppressed people experience when they first emerge into new freedom, and the struggle with responsibility that always follows. In freedom their underdevelopment looks precisely like the inferiority their oppressor had always accused them of, because now it no longer has the excuse of oppression. Under this threat of humiliation, the newly free will have to decide who should be responsible for their development. And the society that oppressed them will also have to decide. All discussions of race in America today are discussions of responsibility.

So the first phase of emergence is rarely a wholehearted embrace of freedom but rather a resurrection of the enemy just defeated. For blacks the old enemy of racism mutes the humiliation of new freedom by absorbing blame for inferiority. “I can’t because of racism.” Perhaps the most pernicious feature of real oppression is that it is always, in itself, an argument that others should be responsible. So when it ends, a new and kinder dependency will look like justice. This is why the dream of freedom for many oppressed peoples is a socialistic “promised land,” not really a dream of freedom at all. When you are oppressed, you tend to believe in the power that oppresses you. You only want it to make your life prosperous rather than wretched.

Read it all. Read it now. Feel free to discuss in the Drinks section below.

I don’t often talk about race on this site because racism is too stupid to bother debating, and, well, I’m a privileged white boy who doesn’t know a whole lot about oppression. But Steele wrote something of great importance and service, and it needs to be read.

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Tom Clancy Drool-Fest

April 29th, 2003 - 12:50 am

Cool little report from Jim Dunnigan:

A new method of defeating GPS jamming was used in Iraq. The method puts GPS signal boosters on UAVs or other aircraft that can stay in the air for a long time. These boosters take the GPS signals from satellites and amplify them, often enough to overcome GPS jamming. These “artificial satellites” are called “psuedolites” and will work as long as the using side has air supremacy.

An amazingly simple fix. Simple, that is, until you consider everything behind it. GPS requires launching an entire constellation of satellites in orbit, keeping them there, and launching improved replacements as needed. It requires receivers able to discern weak signals from multiple feeds over a hundred miles in the sky. The jamming fix requires an Air Force able to build, maintain, and fly remote-piloted drones. Those drones have to be small enough to be somewhat stealthy, but large enough to carry effective radio signal-amplification gear.

In short, you need a world-class space industry, advanced micro-electronics, and an imaginative, well-funded military.

Sorry, did I say something about a “simple fix?”

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Pay to Play

April 29th, 2003 - 12:34 am

I’ve always liked the idea of file-sharing, but I could never get quite comfortable with it. You download an MP3, and the artist doesn’t get paid for his time, the record company doesn’t get paid for its equipment and marketing, and the RIAA doesn’t get paid for whatever exactly its jackboot activities amount to.

Two outta three was enough to keep me from file-sharing. Mostly.

Yeah, I Napstered a bit, before it got shut down. And I’ve downloaded some songs off of Gnutella and WinMX. But I always had an excuse. Or one of several. They went like this:

I already bought that album, but I lost it. (“Your Honor, I would never have stolen that TV from Best Buy, but I used to have the exact same one before it broke.”)

It’s out of print. And what is this eBay of which you speak?

It never was released on CD.

Just one little song. . .

Of all my petty excuses, only the third one really has any honesty to it whatsoever. Some stuff you just can’t get in a durable format. Out-of-print albums can actually be pretty hard to find for download, so I have gone to eBay for them. (Two I can remember offhand are Michael Penn’s debut album, “March,” and the Mondo New York Soundtrack. If you’ve never heard Dean and the Weenies perform the grunge-lounge ditty “Fuck You,” then you’re missing out.) And, yeah, I downloaded some ’80s one hit wonder-type stuff that I couldn’t find on any of the billions of ’80s compilation CDs at MediaPlay.

All in all, however, the vast majority of the 3,000 tunes on my computer are legit.

But, yeah, I stole a little. Less than I did taping friends’ LPs as a kid, but more than I felt right about. I’ve been willing to pay to download music ever since I first heard of MP3s. No one, however, ever managed to come up with a service worth my money. And the RIAA’s legal antics went far to soothe my troubled conscience. Besides, illegal downloads have some serious drawbacks, which I went into in this post.

However, things might just be looking up. Read:

Apple launched its online music service today, providing almost unlimited usage rights, CD quality audio and reliable downloads for just 99 cents a song.

But you’re out of luck if you live outside the US – the only territory in which the service is available. It’s Mac-only too. It will come to Windows by the end of the year, the company promised, but it could make no such pledge to international Mac users.

The service centres on a new version of iTunes, Apple’s free jukebox software, and provides over 200,000 tracks at launch. According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, that number will continue to grow “every day”. At its launch last month, BT’s Dotmusic on Demand kicked off with 155,000 songs, so Apple probably has the lead on volume.

I don’t own an Apple (go on and gloat, Lileks), so I’ll have to wait for the service to become PC-friendly.

But a buck a tune, no subscription fee, and portability to the iPod I haven’t bought but keep promising myself I will? Sign me up.

My only concern here is the size of Apple’s library. 200,000 songs sounds (weak pun ever-so-slightly intended) like a lot, but it really isn’t. And old fart that I am when it comes to music, I don’t want to download the latest from that creepy white rapper guy or the newest nasal whining from REM. What I want is a way to find, legally buy, and play pretty much wherever, that half-remembered song from 1977 that Dad used to hate.

The beauty of Apple’s system

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I Like It

April 28th, 2003 - 12:27 pm

Juan Gato has a new look and a new title. Check it out.

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Keep Your Fingers Crossed

April 28th, 2003 - 12:04 pm

I ran a search on Amazon for “cook” and “bachelor,” wondering what the competition is like for my modest book proposal.

Only one result, and it ain’t exactly competition: “25 Ways to Cook Hot Dogs: Recipes for Bachelors.”

I think it’s time to call that lit agent who emailed me on Friday.

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Which One Has the Big Mouth?

April 28th, 2003 - 11:42 am

You’ll hear this at 6:30 Eastern from Brit Hume on FNC:

The London newspaper The Guardian reports that Bill Clinton talked repeatedly before Operation Iraqi Freedom with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and met at least three times with England’s head of government to discuss military and diplomatic strategy.

President Bush apparently was unaware of the high-level tryst. Either that, or he ignored Clinton’s advice to be nicer to the French. No word on whether the Man from Hope has intervened on behalf of the Dixie Chicks.

He will once he sees their new Entertainment Weekly cover shot.

Got Milk?

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Good Riddance

April 28th, 2003 - 11:24 am

Here’s what we’ve learned from Tariq Aziz:

Iraq’s former deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told U.S. interrogators he saw Saddam Hussein alive after the two airstrikes mounted by coalition forces to kill him, a senior Defense official says.

The information provided by the most recognizable regime figure taken into custody so far bolsters sketchy reports flowing into U.S. intelligence that Saddam and his two sons survived the March 19 and April 7 airstrikes targeting them during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Do I believe it? I just don’t know — and neither do you. Like Osama, we may never be completely certain of Saddam’s fate. Also like Osama, he’s a spent force.

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Peace in Our Time?

April 28th, 2003 - 10:54 am

Late start today, as you can plainly see. Very long, very fun, very punishing birthday weekend.

It was also a weekend of odd news (Al Franken in some sort of scuffle/shouting match) and bad news — but also of some potentially very good news. Read this from Ha’aretz:

Palestinian Prime Minister designate Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has told European diplomats he will use his inaugural speech to declare an end to the use of arms to achieve Palestinian national aspirations.

Abu Mazen will be inaugurated after the PLC (Palestinian Legislative Council) approves his government. He told the Europeans, after he reached agreement on the composition of his cabinet last week with Chairman Yasser Arafat, that he would say ending the armed struggle and improving the living conditions of Palestinians are an inseparable part of the road map that would form the basic guidelines of his government.

It could be that Mazen’s statement means exactly nothing — just another Arafat-type ploy. You know the routine: Promise to end the violence, while really just holding it back a little until concessions are won from the Israelis, or pressue is brought on Sharon by Washington, or more money is conned out of the Europeans.

Or, it could be genuine. That’s not to say that terror campaign is over. Even is Mazen really means it, there are still competing power factions in and outside of the Palestiniain Authority, many of them committed to violence. But — Iraqi finiancial support is finished andn the Israelis have gotten much better at clamping down. Combine those two facts with the possibility of even a semi-effective change in PA behavior, and we might just get something like normalcy in Israel and Palestine.

There’s one more item from the story worth discussing:

Abu Mazen told the Europeans all future inputs of money to the PA, whether from donors, Europeans, or Arab countries would go to the PA treasury and would be overseen by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad.

That would meet long-standing European demands made to an unresponsive Arafat for financial transparency in the use of money sent to the PA.

Really, the problem here isn’t (wasn’t?) Arafat’s refusal to open his books. The problem is the Europeans. They pour money into the PA, in full knowledge that it’s being used for terrorism. And not just to buy bomb vests, but to support an “education system” geared to accomplish nothing but produce little suicide bombers and militarize an entire people for the destruction of Israel.

If the new PA can provide real transparency, that’s fine, that’s great, I hope they do it and I wish them well. But what really has to change are European attitudes towards that “shitty little country.”

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Friday Recipe Thoughts

April 25th, 2003 - 12:25 am

Quite some number of people have emailed to suggest I gather all these recipes together in a cookbook. OK, great — find me a publisher!

I’ve given this some thought and a little brandy, and here’s my title: “The Bachelor’s Guide to Getting Laid Through Cooking.”

Why not? The entire reason I learned to cook was to impress women. Growing up with divorced parents — both of whom loved to cook — I learned to associate good food with some really interesting dates. And let me tell you, it works. Melissa and I spent our first week dating with me (mostly) in the kitchen, and she was in love with my beef stroganoff about two weeks before she was in love with me.

Is there a market for this evil wisdom? There’s gotta be. So who has publishing contacts?

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Friday Recipe

April 25th, 2003 - 12:17 am

Taking a week off doesn’t mean there isn’t some cooking to be done this weekend. Prep this one tonight, and grill it tomorrow. And praise be to Bon App

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Spring Break

April 23rd, 2003 - 10:03 pm

Taking a week off to rediscover the joys of being lazy.

See you next week.

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A Quick Word on Boycotts

April 21st, 2003 - 12:04 am

Last week I mentioned that Melissa and I are skipping what few French products we used to buy. Gone is brie and Camembert and that lovely, inexpensive Beaujolais which goes so well with chicken.

And, yeah, that’s in direct opposition to something I wrote last month: “I’m not a supporter of boycotts, because they usually hurt the boycotters more than the boycottees (a word that reminds me of canned pasta products).”

So, as someone wrote, what’s up with that?

Simple. I’m being silly and a little mean-spirited. I fully expect us to miss French wines a lot more than any French vintners will miss us. I don’t expect Chirac to come to his senses, exclaiming, “Mon dieu! I did not know Monsieur and Mademoiselle Green felt so strongly! I have been ze fool.” Nope, I don’t expect or hope or even pray to accomplish anything even remotely useful.

But neither did France in opposing us at the UN. Le tit pour le tat.

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Music for the Oppressed Masses

April 20th, 2003 - 11:27 pm

Dr. Frank is way cooler than I’ll ever be.

His new cut is “Democracy, Whiskey, Sexy.” Download it here.

UPDATE: The download is free, but why not drop a buck or three into the good doctor’s tip jar, eh?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Doc F tells me we crashed the server. Try downloading here, instead.

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Friday Recipe

April 18th, 2003 - 9:05 pm

This is a good one. Easy, too.

Seared Tuna with Yummy Sauce

You’ll need:

1lb #1 sashimi grade Ahi tuna
3 tablespoons Tamari soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Chinese mustard
1 tablespoon peanut oil

Put the peanut oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, lime juice, and mustard together with a fork. Mix it really, really well. Oh, and feel free to add a little wasbabi powder and/or pickled ginger to the mix.

When the oil is hot, sear the tuna for 15-25 seconds on each side.

Slice very thin, and arrange artfully (fanning looks nice) on plates, then drizzle on the sauce.

Serves two rather well.

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Notice

April 17th, 2003 - 7:35 pm

Yeah, I’m here.

Working on the house like mad, trying to get one of the guest rooms completely redone by tomorrow night. Strangely enough, I’m enjoying the hell out of myself.

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Hit the Road, Jacque

April 16th, 2003 - 12:31 am

Mike Daley sent in this tasty Washington Post story:

An American backlash against French products and businesses has started to bite, dashing hopes here that appeals in the United States to punish France economically for opposing the war in Iraq would go unheeded.

American importers of French wine are reporting sharp drops in sales in the past two months, and other French products also have been affected. The Federation of Wine Exporters has called a meeting Thursday to discuss how to respond.

The nation’s principal business federation took the unusual step of publicly acknowledging the problem, conceding today that sales, recruitment and business contacts have been hurt. It appealed to consumers and businesses to keep political differences from affecting commerce.

Melissa and I love wine and cheese, but we’re not buying French anymore. Napa and Australia easily match French wines, and often at a better price. We can’t eat brie — but Italy’s Parmeggiano-Reggiano beats anything made in France. And we traded in our Peugeot for a nice Spanish car.

OK, that last one was a joke. But you get the idea — support the countries who support us.

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They’ve Been Wrong Before

April 16th, 2003 - 12:25 am

Winning the war was hard. Winning the peace will be harder, as most reasonable people agree. Building a liberal democracy takes a lot of time, a lot of effort, and not a little bloodshed before all the kinks get worked out

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