May 25, 2002

FIRST MAUREEN DOWD. Now Ann Coulter. Er, except that the Coulter column is a parody. The similar Dowd column was merely self-parody.

NICK DENTON weighs in on the enviro-wacky idea of designating the Moon a wilderness preserve:

I just don't get this, or the people who are worried that we're going to contaminate Mars. The moon is an airless, lifeless, pockmarked ball of rock. I would far rather industrial development took place off-planet, or in Antarctica, for that matter. English meadows, or California redwood forests, are far more valuable to me than a wasteland that most human beings will never visit. And, if anyone is worried that development will spoil the view of the full moon, we can always put the industrial zone on the far side.


JOSH CHAFETZ has been blogging today! Of course, it's not a holiday weekend over there anyway.

MARTIN DEVON commits aggravated Fisking. Also, scroll down for a take on the RIAA and payola.

UPDATE: Andrew Long says Devon has gone overboard.

AD HOMINEM ALERT: Ben Domenech says that my post on teen sex means I can't be a father. In the comments section on his page he responds to those who correct him by saying that "I'm aware the man has children in the paternal/biological sense. It's his Fatherhood that I'm disputing." There is, however, no actual response to the substance of any of my comments. (Compare this thoughtful post from Mark Byron).

This is more or less the same as those Sharpton types saying that Clarence Thomas's views mean that he's not really black, rather than responding to his views. Domenech should be embarrassed by this statement.

UPDATE: Now Richard Bennett seems to be saying that I'm only for teen sex because I'm sleeping with teenagers. Uh, no. And surely that's not what he means, though I'm not the only one to read it that way. (See the comments on Ben's page). I've gotten a variety of hate mail on this too from a number of people along these lines.

I've managed to talk about this without accusing any of those who disagree with me of being sexually repressed, neurotic, or priest-ridden, and without making any teen-sex-priest comments. I must say that I would have appreciated the same courtesy.

Sadly, it's this kind of discussion that serves to remind me why it is that -- despite my position on the war, say -- I'm just not a conservative. At least, not the kind of conservative that likes to tell other people how to live their lives, and that enjoys the role of moral censor. That sort of thing is just another species of PC bossiness, sharing far more ground with the intrusive left than it wants to admit.

UPDATE: I notice that Bennett (also in Ben's comment section) has rather profanely clarified that he didn't mean to charge me with infidelity or -- what's the word? --ephebophilia. He doesn't actually use that word, but I wanted to -- it was a new one to me as of a few weeks ago, and I like new words. Strangely, it didn't appear among the exotic terms I studied when preparing for the spelling bee in my youth.

Here are some wise comments on the subject by Gena Lewis.

UPDATE: And N.Z. Bear has some comments on fatherhood.

HERE'S A TRANSLATION GUIDE that will help you decode speeches by people like Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat.

BRENDAN O'NEILL has looked at the various anti-Israel petitions and has some interesting insight into what's driving the anti-Israel movement today:

In the past, people tended to define themselves as anti-Israel as part of a broader anti-imperialism – in opposition to US and Western intervention abroad, whatever form intervention happened to take.

What could Western academics, anti-capitalists and Islamicists possibly have in common, to make them all so vocal about Israel? Could it possibly be a loathing – or a self-loathing on the part of some academics – for Western values? Could it be, not so much an anti-imperialist stance against foreign intervention, but a reaction against aggression that is just too unapologetic and unabashed in an era where intervention abroad has to be dressed in the language of humanitarianism and human rights?

Whatever it is, there is something about today’s ‘anti-Israel’ stance that makes even me – who always sympathised with the Palestinian cause in the past – feel distinctly uncomfortable.

Yes, and I think that this is what makes so many of us (particularly Americans)who aren't Jewish or evangelical Christians feel more than "uncomfortable." This is really a movement inspired by rejection of the Enlightenment, of reason, and of modernity. Which is why I view it with such deep contempt.

UPDATE: David Carr refers to it as the "great convergence of the world's idiots," and has some firsthand observations.

TEEN SEX UPDATE! TAPPED has ridden to my defense on the teen-sex debate: "Reynolds has it just right when he writes, 'you won't teach teens to wait until they're ready by launching unaimed broadsides against the assumed evil of teen sex, and by acting as if teen sex is unnatural or aberrant. It's not.'"

UPDATE: Orchid has more. So does Eugene Volokh, who may or may not help his credibility by also observing that his opinion of male sexual ethics causes him to look with favor on the idea of having a lesbian daughter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Brian Sinclair has the whole debate summarized (with links) on his Daily Babble site. The real question is, have we inadvertently google-bombed the term "teen sex?"

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: Nope, not even close on the Google thing. Surprisingly, however, some actual non-porn sites do show up on the first page.

HEY, CHARLES OLIVER is posting today, too, with comments on Southern Hemisphere Christianity, Japanese fecundity, and midwestern teachers' ethics.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan say Bush has gone wobbly.

Me, I still lean toward "rope-a-dope," but reasonable minds may disagree. Either way, it wouldn't hurt Bush, and a lot of other folks in the Administration, to read this regularly. Or perhaps they should just go here now and then.

UPDATE: Oliver Willis says the Administration isn't serious, either. Hmm. We're hearing a lot on this from a lot of different quarters this week: Steyn, Kristol, Willis, Sullivan, et al.

"THAT'S A BLOODY SHOCK!" Tim Blair reports on a bizarre twist to last week's big euthanasia story.

ERIC RAYMOND INFORMS ME that he's posting today, and on one of my favorite subjects. Hmm. He didn't link to a specific post or say what he was referring to, so you'll just have to read today's items and try to figure out which he meant. I'm still not sure, but that's okay. I'm a man of varied interests.

A HACKER broke into California state computers and stole data on 200,000 employees, UPI reports. Craig Schamp observes that this makes a National ID database, and Larry Ellison's promises that it will be safe, even less credible than before.

I'M POSTING LESS, but as far as I can tell, most people aren't posting at all today. Though Andrew Stuttaford has some keen observations on Generic Marmite, cufflinks, and random gunfire over at The Corner. Start here and scroll up.

And Adriana Cronin has a long post on public/private law enforcement that also features her looking quite fetching astride her old (now stolen) motorcycle, and a non-astride photo of her new motorcycle, a Ducati Monster Dark 900. She likes the old one better, but I think the Ducati's got the edge in the name department. I mean who wouldn't want a Monster Dark 900? Even if that were the name of, say, a spatula? "Honey, I'm flipping the pancakes now [dropping voice into manly tones] with my new Monster Dark 900 -- the teflon coated one!"

I'm hoping that Dale Amon, who's attending the International Space Development Conference in Denver, will find time to post a report on the wacky enviro-types who are going to be there agitating to keep the Moon "pristine."

MORE AMERICANS are answering questions about their race or ethnicity by simply saying "American," according to this report from the Washington Post. (Via Joanne Jacobs).

HERE'S ANOTHER anti-Israel petition, this one from Canada. The signatures here aren't as amusing as the ones on the Aussie petition.

AN ANTI-ISRAEL HARVARD PROFESSOR is unmasked by Jeff Goldstein. I'll never listen to that album the same way. . . .

UNILATERALISM, INTERNATIONAL LAW, AND TERRORISM: Some lessons from the French, courtesy of Banana Counting Monkey.

SOME SEX ADVICE from Eve Kayden can be found here.

I WILL BE POSTING, but at a reduced rate, over the Memorial Day Weekend. In the meantime, you may want to check out this page by Andrew Olmsted and this page by David Merchant, a University of Tennessee alumnus. (Olmstead site via Lawrence Haws.

May 24, 2002

THE UNITED STATES is warning citizens against travel to India and Pakistan, and is suggesting that citizens who are there get out.

In more cheerful news, I'm uploading very cool songs from Michele Newton. When they're available for listening, I'll link to them.

TEEN SEX UPDATE: Rishawn Biddle weighs in.

TEEN SEX UPDATE UPDATE! Robert George, over at The Corner, observes:

"Teen" sex is a relatively recent phenomenon because the "teenager" is a recent phenomenon. For all intents and purposes, teenagers are a 20th century creation, maybe even second half of the 20th century at that. Consider Teddy Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush were men doing manly things (like going off to war and such) well before their 20th birthdays. "Teendom" is a conceit of the post-war suburban leisure class. Furthermore, there is an interesting tension in society's where we insist that teenagers be treated as children when it comes to sex, but as adults when it comes to murder.

Yes, I had meant to point out that contradiction myself.

JUSTIN WEITZ reports that Norwegian grocery stores are labelling Israeli products so that pro-Palestinian shoppers can avoid them. Weitz responds with some labelling suggestions of his own.

JOSH CHAFETZ doesn't like my title of "free speech on the left" below, referring to the student protest threats that led to the cancellation of an appearance by Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He says it's rudeness, but not censorship.

Well, he's sort of right. But while the First Amendment, which protects free speech, bars government censorship but not rudeness, that does not mean that things that don't involve the First Amendment don't involve free speech. And you can bet that the rude students were high-fiving at their success in getting the appearance cancelled via a mere threat.

Shorewood High alumnus Ann Haker says that Shorewood is in fact a haven of censorship, too, which puts a somewhat different complexion on things:

Shorewood High is my alma mater too (class of '85). I'm embarrassed by the Rehnquist disinvite. Thought you might like this link:

SHS has a speech code banning specific words, and any others that a teacher deems "disruptive", and the penalty can be getting arrested by the police.

Nice liberal place, isn't it?

Hmm. I wonder if that speech code would have been used had students threatened to disrupt a speech by Janet Reno, or Michael Moore?

By claiming the authority to censor student speech, and then not exercising it in instances where they may agree, the authorities -- in my opinion -- become complicit in the behavior, which turns rudeness into censorship.

UPDATE: This post by Justin Adams says it better than I did.

THE CALIFORNIA APARTMENT EXPLOSION looks to have been caused by a gas leak, according to this report.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has a nice piece on the Second Amendment over at FoxNews.

ALL THIS ON TEEN SEX, and I get not one word of support from TAPPED. I mean, if the Democrats aren't good for defending teen sex, what are they good for?

WOBBLY WATCH: Steven Den Beste has some thoughts.

READER TRENT TELENKO sends this somewhat more comforting take on Indian / Pakistani nuclear war from StrategyPage.Com. However, while I'm a big StrategyPage fan, this piece is rather sketchy. It says that most deaths would come from economic disruption rather than weapon effects, which is almost certainly true. It also says that economic collapse would bring an Indian/Pakistani war to a rapid halt, but doesn't make clear just how that is to be. (Didn't people say that before World War I, too?) Here's the most interesting part, though:

So it is likely that the United States will put great pressure on India not to attack Pakistan until we've conquered Iraq. India is not dependent on the US for anything so our major influence comes from incentives, not punitive disincentives. There is one coin which can truly buy India's short-term inaction - promised American support for India's later conquest of Pakistan. Such conquest would permanently protect India from Pakistan's growing nuclear arsenal, and from Pakistani state-supported terrorism.

I wonder what promises are being made.

STANLEY FISH DOESN'T LIKE REPORTERS: Apparently some come with an agenda, some are grad-school washouts who are just jealous, and all are idiots. So why has he spent so much time talking with them anyway? Because, he says, he wants to be "understood and admired and celebrated."

A THREE-STORY APARTMENT BUILDING in Los Angeles has been leveled by an unexplained explosion. Probably nothing, but still. . . .

UPDATE: This FoxNews story has a picture. My take: If this is terrorist-related (a big if) this explosion was likely an accident in an apartment used for bomb-making rather than a planned one.

MORE WORRIES: Here's a study on the death toll from a "limited" India / Pakistan nuclear war. "Only" three million casualties expected. (Via Joe Katzman). Meanwhile Lileks is buying iodine just in case, and Brits are pulling nonessentials out.

Worst of all, Chris Patten is trying his hand at shuttle diplomacy.

BUSH'S APPROVAL RATING is steady at 76, and his disapprovals have actually dropped by 2 percent, going from 19 to 17. Apparently the "Bush Knew" campaign isn't doing very well. (Edward Boyd has a nice tabular display of the relevant figures).

On the other hand, Rod Dreher reports that he's getting lots of angry emails from conservatives about Bush's inaction. It better be rope-a-dope, with those stories about the Iraq invasion being off just disinformation. What worries me is that somebody at the White House is looking at these poll numbers and trying to avoid rocking the boat.

FREE SPEECH ON THE LEFT: A speech by Chief Justice William Rehnquist at his high school alma mater was cancelled because of student protest threats. (Link via Howard Bashman).

MORE HOT TEEN SEX! And at The National Review (Online), too. Does WFB know about this?

Jonah Goldberg has not just one, but two responses to the Charles Oliver posts that I mentioned earlier. But I think people are talking past each other, at least in part.

At the core of Jonah's response to Charles seems to be the importance of marriage -- or at least the importance of acknowledging the importance of marriage. Well, that's fine, I guess. But if teen sex is particularly bad, it must be bad for one of two reasons: because it is inherently bad, or because it's bad in its consequences.

If teen sex is inherently bad, then it's hard to see how marriage makes it better. (One might object to it as premarital sex, but he explicitly disclaims that he's getting on a soapbox about that). If it's bad only in its consequences then things that ameliorate those consequences, like contraception, safe sex, etc. also ameliorate its badness.

And consequences have to be measured both ways: good and bad. Teens do all sorts of things that are dangerous to their bodies or emotions, like play sports (one girl in my neighborhood blew out a knee ligament, which will have lifelong painful consequences, playing soccer at the age of 15) and we weigh those risks against the pleasure the sports bring and the life lessons that they teach. Is it so absurd to argue that the same reasoning might apply? If it doesn't, it must be because there's something about sex, beyond the consequences, that makes us think about it differently.

I don't regret any of the sex that I had as a teenager, though none of it happened when I was, say, 13. (Being around a campus during the early 1970s, I had some opportunities with older women at that age, but as exciting as that sounds in the abstract it struck me as a bit too creepy at the time, and I don't regret not having sex then, either.)

So maybe it's important to wait until you're ready. But you won't teach teens to wait until they're ready by launching unaimed broadsides against the assumed evil of teen sex, and by acting as if teen sex is unnatural or aberrant. It's not. Teenagers have been having sex since the beginning of time. Their bodies are ready for it, and it's absurd to tell them to "just say no." Instead they need to be taught the judgment and sense of self-worth that will enable them to do what is right for them.

I notice that Jonah didn't respond to the Shakespeare point, though.

FAR OUT? When I wrote this column for TechCentralStation I was worried that the topic -- colonization and terraforming of Mars, etc. -- was too far out. But now comes this story, originally from the Wall Street Journal, on environmental activists who are organizing to fight lunar development plans.

As I said in the TCS column, this mostly reveals what the enviros' priorities are.

And remember when I said a couple of weeks ago that the International Space Development Conference in Denver this weekend would be worth attending? The whole dispute is going to come to a head there. Too bad Kaus wouldn't let me borrow the Boeing.

CHARLES OLIVER is all over the whole teen sex debate and he's giving Jonah Goldberg what-for. Just start at that link and keep scrolling up, all the way to the point where he says Jonah has his Shakespeare completely wrong.

THE EUROPEAN UNION has some surprising supporters, according to H.D. Miller.

Well, I wasn't all that surprised.


CATS AND DOGS LIVING TOGETHER, CONT'D: Now TAPPED is cheering on a lawsuit by Judicial Watch.

TED BARLOW has a post on defeatist terror warnings that made me say "I wish I'd written that." And I wish that Bush, Mueller, Ridge, etc. would read it.

MEGAN MCARDLE has an article on proposed litigation against purveyors of "junk food" and "fast food" in Salon. It's good, naturally.

KATIE ALLISON GRANJU, a certified parenting expert (she has a book with Simon & Schuster), joins in the teen sex debate.

KEVIN MCGEEHEE says that Jonah Goldberg's column on blogging (below) actually argues for the success of blogs. McGeehee may be right, but my favorite part is the use of the term "legacy media" to refer to networks, print newspapers, etc.

CULTURE CHANGE ALERT: I've said before that guns are being de-demonized. Here's an article from my local alt-weekly, which has the political and cultural stance of most alt-weeklies, taking a rather sympathetic look at guns, and people licensed to carry them. That there are lots of Knoxvillians who like guns, and carry them, is nothing new. That the local alt-weekly would look at them this sympathetically is.

NOT CONTENT WITH ASSAULTING ME, Jonah Goldberg is dissing the entire Blogosphere! Actually not. It's a perfectly fine column, and may well turn out to be right.

Though I think Jonah expects revolutions to be noisy, loud and destructive. The Blogosphere Revolution, if there is one, will be far more subtle and will take things over so insidiously people won't know the difference at first. Gradually establishment journalists like Eric Alterman or Chris Matthews will start blogging, staid publications like the National Review will get blogs, publications and big-media websites like Fox or Slate will start to incorporate bloggers into their regular content, well-known journalists will tout their latest columns to bloggers and respond angrily to attacks from the blogosphere. . . .

Nah, couldn't happen.

UPDATE: Proving my point! Rand Simberg notes that Goldberg's column contains an admission that The Corner is a blog! And ABC News's Marc Ambinder emails to complain that I didn't mention ABC's blog "The Note."

FRED BARNES says Bush has given up on Europe. That's better than Mark Steyn's suggestion, below, that he's just given up, period.

JIHAD AT HARVARD: Yglesias has more, with links.

WOBBLY WATCH UPDATE: Mark Steyn says that we're not acting serious about the war, and Bush will be a one-termer if things don't change very soon.

STEVE CHAPMAN has a column about the Michigan Law School diversity case. Here's an interesting passage:

If you take a look at the University of Michigan's Web site, you can find all sorts of information, including some that would come as news to its administrators. A "Nondiscrimination Policy Notice" says the university "is committed to a policy of nondiscrimination and equal opportunity for all persons regardless of race." But the school has been fighting a court battle for years for one simple reason: It discriminates on the basis of race and wants to keep doing so.

I wonder why people who give schools and other organizations money in reliance on these policies (the Association of American Law Schools tells applicants for law-teaching jobs who use its process the same thing, and then sets up the process to facilitate such discrimination, which it encourages, among its member schools) don't just sue for fraud. No fancy-pants constitutional claims just: you took my money under false pretenses, and I was harmed thereby. It certainly looks to be as strong a case as a lot of class actions that get filed.

JONAH GOLDBERG is beating up on me over at The Corner about the teen sex post below. I kinda thought that might happen. But I don't really disagree with this part:

Glenn, if it makes you feel better, think of "Teen" as a catchall phrase for poorly-educated people with bad or no jobs, little life experience and few life skills, raging hormones who mostly live with their parents. People -- of any age – who fit this description shouldn’t be having too [much] sex, if you ask me.

Jonah's basically describing the guests on Jerry Springer, for whom sex looks like a less desirable option (from society's standpoint, not just their, ugh, potential partners') with every passing year. And as someone in the comments section on the post below notes, sometimes the idea of a Norplant dart gun sounds appealing. I'm all for responsibility, but I think that the term "teen sex" is one of those media creations that lets them scare parents about 13-year-olds while showing provocative photos of 18-year-olds to boost circulation. There are a lot of reasons why policy entrepreneurs then jump on the bandwagon, but that doesn't make it sounder.

As a noted Europhile, let me note that European countries somehow seem to have similar levels of teen sexual activity with much, much lower levels of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Whether that's replicable in the U.S., or whether we'd even want to replicate their approach in the U.S., is a separate question, but it indicates that the connection between teen sex and undesirable consequences isn't set in stone.

MATTHEW HOY SAYS that this time Paul Krugman is half right in his criticism of the Bush Administration. Hey, that's more credit than Krugman usually gets from the Blogosphere!

MERYL YOURISH says that the boycott of the New York Times over its slanted Israel coverage is working.

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ says that Barbie is just a toy. I disagree: I think she's a fearsome weapon against Islamofascist oppression.

STILL MORE NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS trying to get into China. Keep an eye on this; I think North Korea's days under the current regime are numbered. Interesting angle from the story on some of recent history's biggest losers: Korean expatriates in Japan who moved to North Korea in the 1960s in light of promises that it was "paradise on Earth." Oops.

Of course, that's a sign of how badly Koreans, even nth-generation Koreans, in Japan were (and to a significant degree still are) treated.

PEOPLE ARE EMAILING ME to say that the operators of the Australian anti-Israel petition are pulling a CAIR, but they're not. You have to click on "view petition signatures" and then on one of the number ranges. They've got nearly 1000 so far, but they're mostly from the likes of Adolf Hitler, Elmer Fudd, etc.

Here's a link to the main signature page; just click on one of the numbers. I have a suspicion, though, that somebody will be taking this stuff down soon.

THE SEARCH FUNCTION now works properly -- taking you to a user-friendly (and bandwidth-conserving) single-entry page instead of just to the week's archive page. Comments are working on the auxiliary pages too now, and there's a "Printer Friendly" format link on the left.

Stacy Tabb's really good.

ERIC OLSEN'S LATEST "TOUR O' THE BLOGS" is about Virginia Postrel.

Virginia, by the way, has just noticed InstaPundit's "Terms of Use." They were on the old site, too, but I've only gotten a handful of emails about them -- mostly from bloggers wondering if they could add them to their own sites.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH TEEN SEX? The U.S. News cover story is about a perennial bogeyman, teen sex. This reminds me of something.

In his African history classes, my brother asks the students: "What do you think they call 'deadly African killer bees' in Africa?"

The answer, of course, is simply "bees."

In the same way, what we now call "teen sex" and treat as somehow aberrant or frightening was known for nearly all of human history simply as "sex." Most people were married -- and more were having sex -- in their teens, and often their early teens. And they managed to deal with it, and with the other aspects of adulthood, pretty well. A Roman youth was old enough to serve in the Legions at 14, and to marry, sign contracts, etc. The Bar Mitzvah preserves a similar tradition from that era. And much closer to our own times, George Washington was bossing a survey team in the wilderness at 16, British midshipmen were commanding sailors in battle at even younger ages, and even in the 20th century lots of soldiers were teens.

It is not teen sex that is the aberration, but our increasingly absurd modern effort to treat teenagers as babies. I say increasingly absurd because teenagers are actually sexually mature at an earlier age than they were in those older days.

This doesn't mean that teen sex is necessarily a good thing -- as with adult sex, that depends on the circumstances, and the individuals, and also on what part of the teens we're talking about. But treating it as something scary, aberrant, or unnatural is part of an overall pathology about sex that is both unfounded and -- when, as it now usually does, it comes from baby boomers who felt quite differently about the subject thirty years ago -- pretty hypocritical.

THE NINTH CIRCUIT has ruled in the prisoner-fedexing-of-sperm case. Howard Bashman has the link.

May 23, 2002

MY GOODNESSS. Just look who's signing this anti-Israel petition.

GRAY DAVIS SCANDAL-O-RAMA UPDATE: Here's a column from the Sacramento Bee by Daniel Weintraub. Here's the lead -- or lede as Real Journalists like to say: "Gov. Gray Davis has been forced to admit that his administration is either corrupt or incompetent."

I'm not a bigshot political consultant, but this sounds bad to me.

HERE'S A LAURA INGRAHAM COLUMN responding to Mary McGrory's assault on Ashcroft. Here's the key passage:

McGrory's column is important because it demonstrates how desperate the Left has become about guns. Gun control fanatics simply cannot comprehend why most Americans aren't buying the view that guns cause crime, and so they'll do and say just about anything to scare them into enlightenment. One highly-acclaimed antigun scholar, Michael Bellesiles, has already seen his book Arming America (Random House) debunked as fraudulent. When other scholars questioned his data on gun ownership in early America, he claimed his supporting documentation was lost in a flood.

Indeed. And the flood claim is looking iffy these days, too.

HERE'S ANOTHER LOCAL-MEDIA WATCHBLOG, this one in Boston. This is an idea that seems to be spreading. And should be.

TIM WILSON says I'm worrying too much about counters and numbers. He's right. It's just that every damned reporter who calls or emails wants to know this stuff, and I feel stupid not answering. Then there was a John Scalzi piece where he implied that bloggers were inflating their number claims. Hence the public counter.

But hell, I should just give up and install one of these (click on it; it's amusing):

Life's too short. I mean, it's not like somebody's paying me based on this traffic. In fact, it's not like somebody's paying me, period, except via the occasional donation. And I like it that way.

THE AMERICAN PROSPECT's Natasha Hunter writes about "an industrial chemical that's everywhere -- and that you've probably never heard of."

But, despite what I thought when I saw the subtitle, and read the first few sentences, she wasn't referring to this one.

DAVE TROWBRIDGE has some thoughts on the inevitability of cloning.

I'VE NEVER CARED MUCH ABOUT THE CONDIT-LEVY THING. In fact, back before 9/11 this site bore the slogan "100% C*ndit Free!" (Without the asterisk, you see, the slogan would have been self-falsifying).

But although Best of the Web and Andrew Sullivan are already declaring Condit vindicated, it seems a bit soon to me to declare the case solved and pin the murder on a "drifter" (isn't that who they always try to pin it on in those murder mysteries where a Congressman or a Governor or a Cabinet official or somebody is the real killer?) More importantly, it seems a bit too soon to Mickey Kaus, who unlike me has actually thought about the issue, consulted maps, and so on.

IT'S AN ISO-CERTIFIED PISSING MATCH between Eric Alterman and Andrew Sullivan. Charges of narcissism fill the air, like -- nope. I'm stopping this simile right here.

It should be a traffic-builder for both of them, of course. Say, you don't think. . . .

RISHAWN BIDDLE REPORTS nasty insider action at Kinko's.

"Nasty insider action at Kinko's." Boy, what search-engine action I'm going to get with those words all in a string.

THERE'S A NEW POST over at PsyWar Update. I think it's time to bring that feature back.

DAN HANSON just got raped by Sony as the result of a CD price increase, and imagines the marketing meeting at which piracy due to high prices was dealt with by raising prices. To $26.99 in the case of his Warren Zevon CD.

I got the new Moby CD the other day for $13.99 It's good. And that's about what a CD should cost. Well, really $9.99 is what a CD should cost.

SAUDI PR CAMPAIGN A FAILURE, POLLS SHOW. See, Americans aren't as dumb as some people seem to think.

"UNIQUE" HITS: Reader Steve Furlong says my counter is understating the traffic:

The "unique visitors" counter is only an approximation of the actual unique visitors you get. It almost certainly counts distinct IP addresses. This doesn't quite map to distinct end-user computers because of IP masking, Network Address Translation (NAT) and a couple of other things. Stripping the jargon, AOL and other large ISPs and most largish companies are assigned blocks of IP addresses. Smaller sites might have just a single address but support multiple users with internal routers.

A user visiting you from one of those sites will seem to you to have one of the IP addresses in that block; if he visits again he might have the same or a different apparent address. And someone else visiting your page from one of those systems might be assigned the same address.

Two concrete examples, showing each of these distorting factors:

- My web server's log sometimes shows someone visiting some of my pages. It's clearly the same person visiting successive pages, but he might show six different IP addresses for ten hits in five minutes. (My site normally gets a few hundred hits per *week*, discounting the robots, so I can examine the logs in detail if I wish.)

- My small home network connects to the internet with a DSL line with a static address. I have a router to support up to four simultaneous connections, but they all appear to be the same address so far as the world is concerned.

You might well know all this, but I find it's better not to assume that people in other fields know the stuff in my field of work, and to "waste" the time explaining.

Yes, I'm familiar with this stuff, though many readers may not be. And my counter's worse yet, because it only counts visitors to the main page -- links to individual posts go elsewhere and don't get counted. But nonetheless it's shown more unique visitors than I expected, so it's taught me something. And by making it available, I want to undermine those people who have occasionally implied that bloggers lie about their traffic. I'd like to see some "mainstream" sites provide similar information in a similar fashion, but I doubt that will happen.

Comments are enabled on this one. What do you think?


Ralph Hughes of Sony Music testified in the Senate today urging lawmakers to enact legislation which would ban felt tip markers. "These innocuous looking writing instruments are the scourge of our society," he said holding up a Sharpie. "Not only can this black stick of death be used to violate the DMCA, but it could also be used to write the instructions to incubate the anthrax virus."

I'm pretty sure this is satire, but these days it's harder and harder to tell.

GRADES ARE DONE, though I didn't follow this advice from reader Doug Hutson:

Since Hahvahd (Harvard) is considered by many to be the epitome of educational institutions, and since any law professor worth his or her salt would strive to be a professor at said Hahvahd, doesn't it make sense that you would give grades like they do at Hahvahd? Give them all A's, which will prove you are truly worthy. Also solves your current problem of having to grade papers!

Sadly, I give real exams, and actually count off when students get things wrong. The grades in my paper-writing seminar were pretty good, but that's because -- with multiple drafts that I comment on -- it's hard not to write a good paper (or at least one that I'll think is good) by the end of the semester. The Constitutional Law exams, however, were a more mixed bag and required some curving to bring them into line (since it's a required course, we don't like too much variation among sections).

As one of my colleagues says, the rest of the job we do for free -- but it takes our whole salaries to pay us to do the damn grading.

JOE KATZMAN posted a response to some of my nuclear questions last night. Or this morning. Get some sleep, Joe.

MUELLER UPDATE: Okay, what if they have pretty good knowledge that something big is going to happen, and figure that they can't stop it -- say a smuggled nuke in an American or European city, but they don't know which? Would it make sense for Mueller to be lowering expectations then?

YESTERDAY I posted on a U.S. / Mexico border clash. Today The Corner has more. Go here and scroll up.

PATRICK RUFFINI explodes some Chandra Levy conspiracy theories. He's also got a post blaming Bob Shrum for Casey's defeat in Pennsylvania.

BILL QUICK says that there's a sea change going on in the academic world, partly as a result of 9/11. Josh Chafetz wrote something similar a while back.

I think they're both right. The interesting thing is that the true PC loonies -- often perceived to be running campuses -- are a minority almost everywhere. But they're loud, and they know how to pressure the Administration, and they stick together, and they're not afraid to call anyone who disagrees with them names. Oh, and most of them aren't much as scholars, so they have plenty of time to serve on the committees that do a lot of the behind-the-scenes direction setting in academia.

But they're still a minority. And even before 9/11 people were waking up to that, not least because they were managing to marginalize themselves through absurd behavior. (You can call people who disagree with you racists, but after you've called enough people racist, the term loses its sting, and you lose your credibility). I believe that 9/11 triggered a cascade of people realizing just how out of touch the campus left had become, and how morally and intellectually bankrupt it was.

DAVID WARREN offers some thoughts on Bush and the Europeans:

The problem at this juncture is indeed one of political sophistication. The U.S. understands where the Europeans are coming from, but not vice versa. Yet while there are genuine splits within European opinion, there are no real splits on the U.S. side. (Lapses in etiquette are accumulating everywhere.) . . .

In Rome, Mr. Bush will attend a summit that will mark the formal inclusion of Russia within the NATO decision-making structure. (The poor Europeans: they used to look to the U.S. to save them from the Russians, and now the Americans and Russians are getting along.) He will also have an audience with Pope John Paul II at which neither will mention recent sex abuse scandals involving Roman priests.

But before that, on Monday, the U.S. Memorial Day, President Bush will visit the beaches in Normandy, where so many U.S. soldiers fell, in a noble battle to free Europe from the original Fascist menace, two generations ago. It is the U.S. that is now under attack, and the Europeans being asked to return the favour.

He has some interesting observations about how the Saudis and Egyptians are beginning to catch on to the real game, too.

RAND SIMBERG has a FoxNews column about the newly-ambitious Chinese space program. He's skeptical, and offers some lessons from history that the Chinese, above all, should pay attention to.

CRANKY PROFESSOR MICHAEL TINKLER reveals the dirty little secret of public -- and private -- school: Most of the time there is wasted. You spend about 30 minutes a day actually learning stuff, and the rest "engaged in learning activities -- which means "not learning stuff."

The best teacher I ever had was Mrs. Priscilla Dunn, who taught me second grade at the Louis Agassiz Elementary School in Cambridge. She let me spend most of a month reading through the whole set of Childcraft encyclopedias, instead of doing busywork at my desk. A few of the more officious second-grade girls were offended, but it was time well spent.

UPDATE: In a weird example of synchronicity, anonyblogger Godless Capitalist points out that the Cambridge school board just voted yesterday to change the name of Agassiz elementary to the Maria Baldwin School, after the first African-American to head it. Stephen Jay Gould's characterization of Agassiz as racist was repeatedly invoked.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Jason Strauss sends this link to a Harvard Crimson story. My favorite quote: "'I don’t think we were taking someone else’s name off so much as changing the name,' said Cambridge Mayor Michael A. Sullivan."

SORRY for the relatively few entries this morning. I'm computing grades (ugh) and staying home with a sick kid. My daughter got out of school yesterday, and promptly developed a stomach bug today -- or else it's bad pad thai from last night, as my wife suspects. She's (my daughter, not my wife) reading Junie B. Jones books and entertaining herself pretty well, but it's not like a normal day.

The site updates are continuing, so don't be alarmed if you see changes. The comments seem to work, and to register at a legible text size now.

More later.

A SCARY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY, courtesy of NakedWritings. What's scariest is that it's coming from a guy who says he's a liberal.

I think there are a lot of liberals feeling this way lately, though -- at least to judge from my email. That's what happens in a war.

UPDATE: The dreaded Blogger Archive Bug strikes again. Go here. It's currently the top post.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Melissa Seckora already scooped everyone with this story about the NEH and Bellesiles over on The Corner the other day, but now it's hit the general media.

MATTHEW YGLESIAS REPORTS that a Hamas fundraiser will be speaking at Harvard commencement. There's lots more information on his site.

THE INSTAPUNDIT.COM URL IS WORKING FOR ME NOW, and seems to be working for most everyone else.

WORRISOME INDO/PAK NUKEWAR UPDATE: A reader who works at a nuclear-weapons lab informs me that you can cobalt-jacket ordinary atomic bombs, not just thermonuclear ones. Oh, happy day. He doubts that either the Indians or Pakistanis would do that, though. Hope he's right. He says that fallout downrange won't be radiation-sickness bad, but it'll produce increased cancer risks, and advises having some iodine pills handy, since having plenty of normal iodine in your body cuts down on the uptake of radioactive iodine. That's true, but it doesn't do anything for the strontium and cesium.

For those who wrote about my comment on smallpox/plague-bearing missiles -- I thought it was obvious, but I meant instead of atomic warheads, not in addition to atomic warheads. Indeed, for that matter, if you've got more missiles than nukes, a chemical warhead aimed at a city can be pretty destructive. It won't kill as many people, but it'll kill a lot, and it'll spread devastating panic.

Just a few thoughts to brighten your morning.

THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY: Now Chris Matthews has a blog. I wonder if this, together with Alterman's effort, represents MSNBC trying to get ahead of the curve with celebrity-journalist blogs. The question is, will they be able to keep 'em interesting? And will we see a parade of bigfoot journalists with ghostwritten blogs put together by staffers? I believe that Chris Matthews can copy a URL. But somehow, I doubt that Dan "Necklace" Rather will be writing his own stuff if he gets a blog.

Meanwhile Andrew Sullivan is having the expected good fun fact-checking (and spell-checking) Alterman's blog.

Via Ken Layne.

CORNEL WEST UPDATE: His star may be setting, but he can still score a fawning, one-sided feature in the Star Tribune. Note how it manages to give the impression that Larry Summers called West a "lazy negro," though in fact those are West's words, not Summers's.

And note this line about Summers: "It's that assumption -- that decency is something that has to be proven -- that's racist in many ways."

Hmm. I thought that to be a University Professor at Harvard you had to be more than just decent. I thought you had to be, well, really good.

May 22, 2002

UH-OH. Stephen Green has this worrisome observation about India and Pakistan. He says he's a lot more worried than he was last night.

What would the impact of a nuclear war in India / Pakistan -- call it 50-100 nuclear explosions in the 20-kiloton range -- be on the United States? Probably fairly minimal. Nobody there has thermonukes, do they? Or extra-dirty atomics? If I recall, you need an h-bomb for nasty tricks like cobalt-jacketing.

Er, and there isn't, like, smallpox or plague in any of those warheads. Right?

I think I'll go back to my previous optimistic state. It's less warranted than it was, but much more comfortable.

SOME THOUGHTS ON THE NEXT TERROR TARGET: Nothing that won't have occurred to you, probably, but sobering nonetheless. Everybody is (at least subconsciously) trying to forget about these threats, and get back to "normal," so it's probably worth reminding people what it's really like.

OKAY, as I read this story, and this story, and somehow, especially, this story, my nuclear-war optimism began to wane.

I still find it hard to believe that anyone could be stupid enough, or crazy enough, to risk a nuclear war, especially when neither country is in such great shape that it can afford even a medium-sized conventional war, really. Such a conventional war would be a disaster. A nuclear war would be a calamity more-or-less unprecedented in history.

The good thing about the U.S. / Soviet rivalry was that neither side really wanted a full-scale war. The U.S. didn't because we never do unless we're attacked, and the Russians didn't because they'd already been through the wringer in World War Two.

I hope that there's a lot of U.S. contingency planning so that we won't be caught flatfooted if it happens. In particular, the NSC needs to be thinking up what (if anything) Bush could do to stop such a war if it started. And I hope we're doing what we can to stop it before it starts. I'm not entirely comforted that Jack Straw (see first link) has been dispatched to the scene.

JAMES MORROW notes that CAIR is seeking a new webmaster and wonders if it had anything to do with their recent poll flap.

HERE'S A SUGGESTION I LIKE: Rename the Defense Department the Department of War at least for the duration.

THE ISRAELI EMBASSY IN PARIS IS ON FIRE, according to a usually reliable emailer. I don't know any more than that, and can't find anything on Reuters, BBC or Agence France-Presse.

UPDATE: A number of readers sent this link, which doesn't tell you much more.

TRANSPARENCY: If you go to the bottom of the page and click on the icon, you can see my open Extreme Counter. It tracks unique visitors, which my old Bravenet counter didn't, and it's open. The downside is it only tracks the main page. Links to individual posts go to an archive page and don't show up there, so it probably understates traffic, and overstates the proportion of refreshes.

Nonetheless, it seems that InstaPundit gets more unique visitors than I had thought (Just under 19,000 so far today). (Click on incl/excl reloads for the dope). Maybe it's just my regular email correspondents who hit refresh 10 times a day.

UPDATE: For some ccomparative figures you can click here -- but they're monthly unique visitor figures, and comparing monthly and daily uniques is probably an apples/oranges thing. However, I understand from TAP that they're getting about 30,000 uniques a day.

BIZARRO WORLD, CONT'D: It's not just TAPPED praising Jonah Goldberg, it's the Columbia Journalism Review, too. What next? Bill Moyers funding the G-File?

GERMAN PROTESTS: I'm listening to NPR talking about German protests, and I'm wondering: when has the United States done anything worthwhile in the last 20 years that didn't produce thousands of Germans protesting?

I'm hearing a lot of German talk about the United States' power not being "counterbalanced." I can understand German diplomatic concerns along those lines. I just can't understand why we should share them.

STEVEN DEN BESTE crafts a "nightmare scenario" for an India/Pakistan nuclear war. I hope he's wrong.

The real questions, of course, are (1) can the U.S. do anything to stop it? and (2) what should the U.S. response be if it happens anyway?

If nothing else, a nuclear war will create a lot of confusion that we can expect bad guys to take advantage of.

PEOPLE ARE INTERPRETING this Peter Beinart column as saying that the public is softening on gun control because of the reduction in fear of crime. But if that's true, then why are the Democrats fleeing the issue as the 2002 elections loom?

Well, read what Beinart actually said: "The biggest reason is America's decade-long decline in crime, which on issue after issue--from gun control to mandatory sentencing--has tipped public opinion away from the early 1990s obsession with law and order toward a greater concern for civil liberties and individual rights." Now I'm not sure if this is what Beinart meant, but one way of reading this is that people think of gun ownership as one of those "civil liberties and individual rights," and that without fear of crime the Democrats can't persuade them to part with it.

In which case there's no contradiction at all.

THE HOROWITZ / ROBERT MUELLER ITEM generated a lot of comments. Eugene Volokh says that Mueller's lines are akin to Vince Lombardi saying: "Boys, this is a tough team and they're going to score on us; but you can't let their occasional successes break your spriit." Several others wrote to echo this point.

Most correspondents weren't so kind. Richard Bennett emails these suggestions: If Mueller was Patrick Henry, he would have said: "give me liberty or give me slavery, it doesn't really matter."

If he were in Boston during Paul Revere's ride, he would have said: "One if by land, or one if by sea, or one if out of the air, or one if tomorrow. Whatever, dude."

Okay, that's a little harsh, but that's Richard. Blogosphere favorite Claire Berlinski surfaces long enough to send this correction to Horowitz: Re: 'If Mueller had delivered the statement to the troops on the eve of D-Day instead of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Men, no matter how well we plan this thing, half of you are gonna die anyway. I wish there was something else I could do. Good luck."'

I believe you're alluding to Patton's speech, not Eisenhower's. It was Patton who said: "You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle." It was Patton who addressed the troops; Eisenhower's D-Day speech was broadcast to all of Europe.

I only point this out because Patton's speech is so marvellous that it really deserves the credit. I wish he were still running the show. Check it out.
Yes, I'd like to see a bit more Patton from quite a few of our leaders at the moment. (Berlinski reports, by the way, that she's finishing up her book, Loose Lips, and that bloggers will love it).

Reader Scott Hegelson sent this, along with several others: Mueller as Yoda: "Try not. Do not. There is no point. Too big is the starship for you."

There were many others -- too many to post here (sorry about the comments, there's still a Java problem; I'll activate 'em here in case we can get it fixed later this evening). But perhaps the most cogent point came from reader PJ VanBloem:

Must say I don't understand what Mueller is doing. Horowitz overstates the case, as I don't think he's throwing in the towel, but apart from simple ass-covering, I don't know what Mueller is trying to accomplish.

The Eisenhower pseudo-quote strikes me as pretty accurate. The Farragut one would be better as: "Look at all the torpedoes! We are bound to lose some ships." Mueller does _not_ say "I'm out of here" or "Let's turn back", but neither does he say "Full speed ahead!"

Mueller should have at least added, "We're doing the best we can, and the likelihood of more attacks only means we need to continue our War on Terrorism."

I think we're all well aware that you don't win a war (or a game) with defense, and the FBI is on defense.

Yes. I don't mind Mueller saying "We're the goalie, and the goalie can't stop every shot." But his statement did have a rather negative resonance to me, and obviously I'm not the only one who read it that way. If his goal was to lower expectations, well, he certainly succeeded.

MATTHEW HOY IS backpedaling (his own word) from charges that Kathleen Parker stole a column from the Blogosphere. I think he's right to do so, and honorable to admit it.

Charges of plagiarism -- or even idea theft, which isn't quite the same -- are serious stuff, not to be made lightly. Playfully pointing out parallels is one thing. But don't let the thrill of "catching" someone cause you to create a crime where none exists.

FUKUYAMA UPDATE: Charles Paul Freund notes the multiple Fukuyama-Fiskings in the Blogosphere, and then adds one of his own. Excerpt:

Fukuyama's continuing argument with libertarians is a rhetorical disaster because it springs from ignorance and invites contempt. Compare this current argument, for example, to the one he marshaled in defending his major intellectual achievement, the famous 1989 essay, "The End of History." What made the earlier work so impressive was that he built his argument -- which was about the resolution of a major chapter in the history of ideas, not about whether anything would ever happen again -- entirely within the worldview he was critiquing. What infuriated his opponents on the left was that he effectively used their own ideas to demonstrate the intellectual obsolescence of their position. It was one of the great displays of rhetorical gymnastics in recent years, and Fukuyama deserved the fame that resulted.

Now he wants to argue that libertarians too are obsolete, and he seems to think he is using their own ideas against them. But arguing that support for biotech research is retrograde, and that individual sovereignty is a defense of slavery, doesn't demonstrate that libertarians are passe; it reveals that Fukuyama is embarrassingly ignorant about the ideas he is dismissing. This time his opponents are not seething in frustrated anger; they are staring in cold contempt, a contempt that Fukuyama has invited and is richly earning with each public volley.

That sounds about right.

TOM LANTOS is demanding an investigation of UNRWA complicity in terrorism.

IF YOU'RE INTERESTED IN GUNS and gun policy, you'll likely be interested in this new book from NYU Press. It's by Andrew McClurg, Dave Kopel & Brannon Denning and it looks at both pro- and anti-gun literature. I haven't seen the actual book yet, but I read a copy of the manuscript last year and I thought it was excellent.

D.C. POLICE may have found Chandra Levy's body in Rock Creek Park, according to this report, though at the moment they're not even sure the body they've found is female.

UPDATE: The Washington Post now reports that it's her.

BIZARRO WORLD: Fresh from spinning for the Bush Administration, TAPPED is now praising Jonah Goldberg. Will this madness never cease?

MARS: A TEST FOR THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT. My TechCentralStation column for this week is up.

NEW YORK MAGAZINE'S MARK HOROWITZ sends this column on defeatism in the war on terror. He also gives me permission to reprint it in full here and to solicit your suggestions for additional items:

May 22, 2002 -- "There will be another terrorist attack. We will not be able to stop it. It's something we all live with."
- FBI director Robert Mueller, to the National Association of
District Attorneys

IF FBI director Robert Mueller had been in the Green Bay Packers locker room at half time during the first Super Bowl instead of Vince Lombardi: "Boys, we're gonna get beat and beat bad, and there's not a damn thing we can do about it."

* If Mueller had delivered the statement to the troops on the eve of D-Day instead of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower: "Men, no matter how well we plan this thing, half of you are gonna die anyway. I wish there was something else I could do. Good luck."

* If Mueller, not Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, had commanded the 101st Airborne in Bastogne: "To the men and officers of the division: The krauts have got our nuts in a vise. As of 0300 hours, it's every man for himself."

* If Mueller had been elected president in 1932 instead of FDR: "We have nothing to fear . . . except this damned depression, which is probably going to destroy everything we hold near and dear."

* Mueller, if he was at the Battle of Mobile Bay instead of Adm. David Farragut: "Damn! Torpedoes! There's too many of them. I'm out of here."

* If Mueller were aboard the Chesapeake instead of Capt. James Lawrence: "Give up the ship!"

* If Mueller delivered the Second Inaugural instead of President Abraham Lincoln: "If the last drop of blood drawn by the lash is answered by one drawn by the sword, the price would simply be too high. It's time to negotiate."

* And if Mueller wrote Teddy Roosevelt's speeches: "Walk softly, and maybe no one will notice you."

Mark Horowitz is articles editor of New York Magazine.

I'm going to try enabling comments on this. If it works, you can add your own versions here.

UPDATE: Doesn't seem to be working. I'll see what I can do. In the meantime, email 'em to me at [email protected]

ANOTHER UPDATE: Comments are working. Fire away!

U.S. / MEXICAN BORDER CLASH? I don't want to make too much of this report, but it's worth keeping your eyes on. I suspect that as the border tightens from its current very lax state to a merely somewhat lax state, a lot of people, especially people with Mexican army and police connections, will feel the pressure.

SUMAN PALIT says that I'm way too optimistic in my assessment of the likelihood of Pakistan/India nuclear war.

Well, dang. I hope he's wrong. I'd say the chance is somewhere between one in ten and one in fifty. I'm hoping for the latter.

Just explain this to me: if you're Musharraf, what, exactly, makes you think starting a nuclear war is a good idea? Here are some possibilities:

1. "We'll win! Big time! Thanks to our precision weaponry we'll destroy India's ability to hurt us with only minor damage on our end!" If they think that, the Pakistanis may well launch. But thinking that doesn't just require you to be crazy, it requires you to be utterly, utterly, out of touch with reality. Even by the standards of the region. I don't think they're that out of touch. My belief is tempered somewhat, of course, by the knowledge that such military miscalculations are not exactly unheard of.

2. "Well, we'll be largely obliterated, but it's better than . . . ." Better than what, exactly? Losing political power in Pakistan? Leaders start wars sometimes to shore up their political positions, but it's hard to see how a nuclear war could do that.

3. "India's sure to launch a nuclear strike on us soon, so we might as well strike first with all we've got." At last, a measure of rationality creeps in. I think the first part is unlikely -- but it's not what I think, it's what Musharraf and his fellow mucky-mucks think that matters, and they might think this way, especially if India gives them reason. This, to me, is the highest-probability scenario for nuclear war.

4. "Who cares if we're obliterated! We'll die gloriously in the process of killing many infidels! And it will inspire a worldwide conflagration that, with Allah's aid, will leave Islam on top of the heap again, just like it was before we all turned suddenly and inexplicably dumb as rocks back in the 14th century!" This is the Ladenite line, but if Musharraf thinks this way (Palit says he does) I haven't seen much evidence of it. I've seen more evidence that Musharraf has Kemalist sympathies and wants to create a union of Turkic peoples under his general leadership. This is rather incompatible with Ladenism, though tactical alliances are of course possible along the way. I don't know much about the views of other high-level Pakistani military types, though.

So those are the grounds for my wild optimism. Though if this be optimism. . . .

UPDATE: Stratfor reports that the United States is offering increased space cooperation with India in exchange for India standing down a bit. As a short-term move this will probably defuse tensions a bit. As a long term move it builds up India's technological capability vis-a-vis less-appealing regional powers like Pakistan and China. India doesn't have precision-weapons capability now. It will in the future, and the technological balance between India and Pakistan (or for that matter, India and China) is only going to favor India more over time.

Hmm. Could that be a reason for Pakistan to strike? Or for China to encourage Pakistan to strike?

Remember. I'm the optimist here.

I'VE SPENT SOME TIME over the past several months pointing out the increased arrogance and reduced professionalism of the Secret Service (here's an example). Now comes this story by Chitra Ragavan in U.S. News & World Report about an agent who exposed missing (and presumably stolen) money, unlocked evidence vaults, and other bits of sloppiness and criminality. Naturally, he's being punished.

This stuff is bad enough in peacetime. In wartime, such behavior on the part of law enforcement and intelligence operations can't be tolerated. Though exactly how this became a race-discrimination case isn't clear to me. I don't think they'd treat any whistleblower better, regardless of race. Even the agent in question says the culture at the Secret Service is that you don't tattle on your boss.

It would be nice if the culture was more along the lines of "bosses don't misbehave," though, wouldn't it?

INSTAPUNDIT'S NEW SITE is currently number 7 on blogdex. Now if the domain name servers would just get the world.

BTW, you can bookmark the numeric "hard URL" shown above. Though people are calling it a "temporary" address, it really isn't temporary. It's just that the alphabetic address will also work once the DNS fairies have done their magic.

JOHN SCALZI says we should legalize pot, so that we can get over trying to kill off marijuana usage, and instead attack the real evil: the pot culture that has subjected us to jam bands, Ben & Jerry, and hemp underwear. Once marijuana's legal, he figures, all that stuff will lose its rebellious appeal and wither away. Scalzi concludes:

You may think it's asinine to legalize pot simply to squash stoner culture and make potheads change the subject. But just think--if it works, we can use this strategy in other ways to make life more pleasant for the rest of us. Today the tokers, tomorrow PETA. Hell, I'd happily go vegetarian to have the lot of them drowned in a sack.

John Scalzi: repressive tolerance for the 21st century!

ANNA FRANCO (who is actually my cousin-in-law, or something like that) has some thoughts on how war movies need to change now that we're actually, you know, at war:

What if Rick (Humphrey Bogart) in Casablanca started complaining that the resistance members were too hard on the Nazis? What if Virgil Hilts (Steve McQueen) in The Great Escape pondered, as he race[d] toward the Swiss border, whether he should reconsider the legitimacy of the Third Reich's negative feelings towards the U.S.?

The whole obligatory-moral-ambiguity schtick needs to go, she says. We're better than them, and we should say so plainly.

MATTHEW HOY says he's identified a case of theft from the blogosphere. He's referring to this column by Kathleen Parker, but I think he may overstate the case a bit.

The similarity between Parker's column and some widely reproduced comments from Charles Johnson's website (reproduced in Hoy's post) is strong. But the words are different, the ideas are not quite identical, and though the commenter on Johnson's website expressed it very well, the idea that if Bush had rounded up a bunch of Arab men on, say, 9/10 he would have been accused of racism, Gestapo tactics, etc., wasn't actually expressed there for the first time.

UPDATE: If you follow the link to Hoy's site and click on "comments," you'll see that the guy who posted the original item on Charles Johnson's site says Parker didn't steal anything from him.

ANDREW SULLIVAN comments on the InstaPundit redesign. He says he's frightened, and you should be too.

Strangely, I'm pleased.

May 21, 2002

JEFF GOLDSTEIN is amused by TAPPED's enthusiasm for the new Alterman blog. Or maybe bemused.

UPDATE: Patrick Nielsen Hayden is, too.

"A BLOG BURST" -- That's what Joe Katzman is calling for with regard to SFSU.

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish has some additional thoughts, and reflections on the value of videotape.

VIRGINIA POSTREL explains the facts of life for Professional Journalists. Boy am I doing everything wrong!

Oh, wait -- I'm not a Professional Journalist. Never mind.

UPDATE: And after reading this Ken Layne dissection of a dumb piece by a Professional Journalist at NBC, I'm kinda glad.

THE NEW INSTAPUNDIT URL is now #10 on Daypop. Cool.

WHILE I'VE BEEN PRAISING STACY TABB'S TECHNICAL SKILLS, Jim Treacher's been praising her boobies. But then, Treacher was always more of a gentleman.

WILL WARREN, the poet laureate of the Blogosphere, has outdone himself with this one. It's not cutesy, or inside-funny, or just clever.

It's great.

EU SUED FOR PROMOTING TERROR! Mary Robinson a war criminal! It's all at Global News Watch.

FISKAYAMA! My spoonerized would-be nemesis, IsntaPundit, administers a thorough Fisking to Francis Fukuyama. Excerpt: "It is ironic that Fukuyama can bemoan the possibility of a 'Posthuman Future' even as he calls on us to cease the most categorically human of behaviors: the pursuit of knowledge.

"Fukuyama's case is hopeless, of course. Trying to prevent humans from seeking knowledge is a doomed proposition. But it's worth dissecting his views, if only to see how befuddled, gloomy, and unscrupulous is this enemy of science." The whole thing, which features a paragraph-by-paragraph dissection of Fukuyama's Salon interview that makes clear just how little actual argument there is to his arguments, is very much worth reading.

THE OTHER DAY I posted that I didn't think a nuclear war between India and Pakistan was all that likely. Richard Bennett is less optimistic.

FLIT announces that Canada is pulling out of the war on terrorism. But I don't think Americans should take it personally. After all, they're also turning a major Army facility into a homeless shelter, to Bruce's immense disgust.

A CORRECTION: While I do say "fact check your ass" from time to time, it's Ken Layne who coined the term. This article from The Guardian gives the impression that the term is uniquely mine, which it isn't -- either by origination or by frequency of use.

Hey, I just "fact-checked the ass" of an article over the phrase "fact-checking your ass." I think that should get me the recursive metablogging medal of the day. Or at least a good seed in the recursive metablogging tournament.

DOC SEARLS says that Steven Levy should write a book about bloggers to match his earlier works on hackers and cryptographers. Hmm. The Bloggers. I don't know. . . .

MARTIN DEVON has advice for those seeking a career in music.

RAMESH PONNURU, no pro-cloning apologist, calls Francis Fukuyama's libertarians-would-endorse-slavery example a "cheap shot."

EMAIL: The email address on the site isn't working at the moment, no doubt because of the domain name switchover. It should start working in a day or two. If you really want to email me, use [email protected] So many spammers already have that address that posting it can't make much difference.

"THE BEAUTIFUL NEW INSTAPUNDIT" is #24 on Daypop at the moment. The phrase is from Susanna Cornett, who along with quite a few email correspondents, says the page looks as if it were designed by James Lileks. That's quite a compliment, but it was Stacy Tabb of Sekimori who did it. She also found me a hosting arrangement that -- while considerably more expensive than Blogspot, but what isn't? -- had the features I needed and wouldn't break me. So far so good -- they've even been fast in answering support questions. The "HostingMatters" button to the left links to their page.

KATIE GRANJU says childhood is better today than it was when we were kids.

UPDATE: Her archives have succumbed to some blogger/blogspot problem or other (there's a lot of that today). Just go here and follow the link.

MARTIN PERETZ joins the crowd calling for a Jenin investigation:

Just not an investigation into what the Israeli Defense Forces did in Jenin. Rather, what the United Nations needs is an internal investigation: What role did the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)--which for years has presided over Palestinian refugee camps in Jenin and elsewhere--play in allowing those camps to turn into terrorist havens complete with militias and weapons factories? When relief agencies allowed the refugee camps in eastern Congo to be taken over by the Hutu militias that had carried out the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, human rights types were outraged. But in Jenin the U.N.'s complicity with terrorism seems not to bother anyone at all. And that complicity is of more than theoretical interest. After all, surely the Palestinians didn't think they could go on making and exploding bombs indefinitely. If the United Nations had policed its own turf, Ariel Sharon might not have had to.

Perhaps we should investigate the U.N. for war crimes and complicity in genocide?

GARY FARBER has the scary inside story on Bush's cloning plans.

INSTAPUNDIT: VICTIM OF TOO-HIGH STANDARDS! Well, basically. Last week blogger "Godless Capitalist" sent me a link to this post on scientific misconduct at Bell Labs. I didn't go with it because (1) I couldn't evaluate it myself; (2) I didn't know the blog or blogger -- or even his/her real name, and hadn't followed the blog enough to form an opinion as to reliability; and (3) It didn't have any external references supporting the charge. In light of all of those factors, I was just afraid to put up a post on it.

Well, turns out that there's a problem at Bell Labs, and that was probably a scoop. But what can you do? I was reluctant to go with charges I had no ability to evaluate.

BELLESILES-O-RAMA: Professor Jerome Sternstein writes on History News Network about the contradictions and implausibilities in Michael Bellesiles' "My notes were destroyed in a flood" story. He even reports on an experiment in which yellow legal pads bearing pencil marks remained completely legible despite being soaked in water.

Meanwhile, Eugene Volokh (from whose site I got the Sternstein link above) fact checks a minor statement of Bellesiles' about Justice Scalia's position on machine guns, and finds it, er, lacking in academic rigor. Volokh asks: "Is it considered standard practice for historians to make assertions -- with no qualification or explanation of the possible weakness of the source (either in the text or the footnotes), but merely as 'Justice Antonin Scalia agreed with . . .' -- based on a single newspaper opinion piece, that uses as its source a high school student who says she heard someone say something at a small luncheon?"

This is a prize-winning historian at work?

FUKUYAMA, YO MAMA! Rand Simberg responds to Frank Fukuyama's statement, in a Salon interview, that today's pro-cloning libertarians would have defended slavery in the antebellum South: "Comments like this make it hard to take anything he says about ethics or morality, on the subject of cloning, or anything else, seriously."

Simberg is too gentle.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH has some concrete suggestions about what we should do to overthrow the mullahs in Iran.

THE GOOD NEWS, THE BAD NEWS, AND THE GOOD NEWS: Good News -- The New York Sun has almost a full page on blogging. Bad news: You can't read it, unless you're in New York. Good News: There's a summary of what it says over at Ribstone-Pippin.

What I love are the calls from "professional journalists" for the regulation and monitoring of Weblogs. Jeez. The press is as bad a friend to press freedom as academics are to academic freedom.

BELLESILES UPDATE: Melissa Seckora is reporting that the National Endowment for the Humanities is requiring the Newberry Library to remove the NEH's name from Bellesiles' research, which was conducted under a Newberry grant whose funding came originally from the NEH.

Apparently, the NEH has decided that Bellesiles' work doesn't measure up.

UPDATE UPDATE: There's more, including some fascinating quotes from letters in support of Bellesiles. No agenda there! I wonder who wrote those.

DAVE KOPEL says that the new anti-gun ads featuring John McCain and Joe Lieberman are full of obvious untruths. Hmm. McCain and Lieberman are either too dumb to know this, or don't care. I'm not sure which is worse.

THE SPEED OF THE BLOGOSPHERE: Edward Boyd has a review of the new site design already. He likes it, but is worried that it lacks the appealing low-budget cheesiness that people have come to expect from InstaPundit. Don't worry -- only in form, not in content!

IT TAKES A PECULIAR SORT OF MIND to look around the world and conclude that the biggest threat to humanity is too much freedom. But Frank Fukuyama has that kind of a mind, and it's on display in Salon today. Personally, I might say -- in fact, I did say -- this: "Cloning seems frightening now. One day it will seem . . . quaint."

UPDATE: For responses, look here and here.

THE ANIMAL LIBERATION FRONT has attacked a poultry store to protest the slaughter of chickens. They attacked the store, even though no chickens were actually killed there, "because of its role in the industries of animal exploitation and murder." Er, and because, dude, like we couldn't find the slaughterhouse. Check out the pictures on the site.

These guys are bozos, but arson hardly counts as nonviolence.

HERE'S MORE ON THE WHOLE blogs as coffeehouses analogy, from Beauty of Gray. Thanks to reader Ian Cook for the pointer.

ALL THE TITLE IX BROUHAHA hasn't excited me that much (though it gives me an excuse to use the word "brouhaha," which is always a good thing). But if you're interested, George Will has a column on the subject that cites a new study by Jessica Gavora.

Of course, Gavora just married Jonah Goldberg, which you should factor into any analysis of her faculties for judgment. . . .

GRAY DAVIS SCANDAL UPDATE: Reuters has this analysis of the election. Davis is more vulnerable than he ought to be, so long as Simon sticks to Davis's problem issues. The good news for Davis -- he has a lot of campaign cash. Well, yeah.

ERIC ALTERMAN HAS A BLOG, at least kind of. He even says he likes InstaPundit, though he blames me for linking to "nasty attacks" on him. Hey, I gave Alterman space to respond, too, even though they weren't my attacks. Doesn't that count for something?

Oh, well, there's sure to be lots of Blogosphere grist from an Alterman blog.

"UNDERPERFORMIN' NORMAN" MINETA AND TOM "WHAT IS IT I DO AGAIN?" RIDGE have both agreed not to allow guns in airliner cockpits. Theyd better hope there aren't any more hijackings -- or even any attempts where passengers are hurt -- because they're setting themselves up for a fall.

We're not serious about the war yet. This is proof.

WELL IT STANDS TO REASON that as soon as I move off of Blogspot, it develops new problems that keep people from finding the new page. I've fixed the old page (again) and it's up (at least for now) to send people here.

STILL MORE ADVICE for Blogspotters, from Web Goddess Stacy Tabb, can be found here.

DO NOT BE ALARMED if things change throughout the day. This is still a work in progress.

HASHEMITE UPDATE: Reader Angie Schultz writes:

King Abdullah is apparently a huge Trekkie, and scored a cameo on Voyager.

Did you know that?

Story link

That's a couple years old. I don't remember hearing about it before.

This from WarNow.

Dang it, it's hard not to trust a tiny Arab king who loves Star Trek.

Well, given Osama's alleged fondness for Asimov I wouldn't make too much of that. But it is kind of cool.

Er, and strictly speaking, isn't it the Kingdom that's tiny, not the King?

ALL YOU BLOGSPOTTERS whose pages aren't visible: republish! This tip from webgoddess Stacy Tabb.

ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE: Bigger fonts are now in place.

BLOGS AND COFFEEHOUSES: Reader Alan Cook sends this link, and this one on the influence of coffeehouses on modern thought. I think there's a lot of similarity to the role played by blogs. Though blogging doesn't cure "minor ailments," as coffee was once thought to. Er, unless shouting at the television counts as a minor ailment.

JIM LINDGREN has some interesting comments on the Bellesiles developments (Click here for a link to the post by Prof. Michael Tinkler that set this discussion in motion):

Thanks for the VERY interesting post about another Bellesiles story that doesn't stand up. So he used a research assistant and a spreadsheet for his probate research on guns, contrary to his prior claims.

Of course, Bellesiles first presented his probate research on guns (which was later republished in Arming America) at the OAH meetings in early 1995 and first published almost all of his Arming America probate data in a 1996 JAH article. There was not enough time between the publication of the Ethan Allen book in 1993 and his OAH talk in early 1995 to have done much more than count the records in Philadelphia, the largest of his 40 counties--if he had no other responsibilities and did nothing else with his time. He has always claimed to have worked on Arming America long before 1993 (the year the Ethan Allen book was published). I didn't read the Ethan Allen book too carefully, but I
don't remember any counts of guns in probate inventories. The Vermont counties are in his probate samples in both the 1996 JAH article (Table 1) and Arming America (p. 445, Table 1). This new story suggests that he had started on the data for Arming America by 1988, whether he was conceptualizing something like the JAH article or a book we cannot know. But the research that his assistant reported, if done on Vermont estates, would very likely be on estates in his probate samples in Arming America. I would love to see those early counts because--as confirmed both in William & Mary Quarterly (Roth) and in the William & Mary Law Review (Lindgren & Heather)--guns are in about 40% of Vermont estates, not the 14% that Bellesiles claimed. Bellesiles missed guns in over 60% of the inventoried estates in his Vermont samples. I have never had a research assistant even close to this error rate, and I don't believe that he has either.

If the research assistant is telling the truth about putting her data on a spreadsheet for Bellesiles under his direction--and there is not the slightest reason to suppose otherwise--why would Bellesiles claim that he was unfamiliar with using computers for collecting probate data when he wasn't? The most obvious answers are either that he did little probate research beyond that done by the research assistant or that her counts were relatively accurate and thus did not match what he wanted to find for Arming America.

In any event, there are now three different stories about when Bellesiles first
noted the small numbers of guns in probate inventories--

(1) in 1989 or 1990 when he had an "epiphany" reading probate inventories in a Vermont courthouse (as he told the New York Times in April 2000 and Hartford Courant in September 2000), (

(2) in the early 1980s when he now says that he counted guns and books in Vermont estates (he recently claimed in his website's revised Vermont probate report to have recorded guns and books in the early 1980s),


(3) in 1988 when he directed his research assistant to count guns on microfilm
and put her data on a spreadsheet (a story that Bellesiles has never mentioned

Indeed. I hope that Emory's investigation looks into this discrepancy in stories.

YES, by the way, I've left Blogger for Movable Type. I have the utmost love and respect for Blogger, and Pyra is one of the few companies whose products can legitimately be said to have set off a social revolution. But it's had a lot of problems, culminating in an episode this weekend when people's passwords were reportedly published along with their entries. Since MT was bundled into this deal I decided to give it a try.

ALL RIGHT FOLKS, COME ON IN. HAVE A SNO-CONE AND ENJOY THE SHOW. The new InstaPundit site seems to be up and running now. The DNS propagation will take a couple of days, but the new site address will be InstaPundit.Com -- the address will just get you redirected here for the time being.

Hope you like it. The lovely and talented Stacy Tabb of Sekimori, who comes so highly recommended by Stephen Green, has done the redesign and handled all the details of the move. My only concern is that the new site looks so slick, professional, and non-cheesy that it may inflate people's expectations. Sorry folks -- just the same old me behind it!

May 20, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: Will Bellesiles' problems

BELLESILES UPDATE: Will Bellesiles' problems undermine the gun control movement? This article from the History News Network says the answer is yes -- noting that Bellesiles' work was part of a coordinated program of scholarship aimed at undermining recent pro-individual rights scholarship. Not only has Bellesiles lost credibility, but the other articles all cite him extensively, which doesn't do much for their credibility, either. This article draws together a lot of interesting threads in pro-gun-control scholarship, along with extensive links.


THE DANGERS OF HISTORY: Rick Perlstein writes on how Doris Kearns Goodwin came to resemble Lyndon Johnson.

ANDREW SULLIVAN worries about the

ANDREW SULLIVAN worries about the problem posed by the overclass. His solution is philanthropy. I agree -- and wish to point out that while InstaPundit isn't actually a charity, it should be looked upon as one for giving purposes.

ROBERT MUELLER says that walk-in

ROBERT MUELLER says that walk-in suicide bombers are coming to the United States, and that there's nothing we can do to prevent them.

Well, such bombing will have some psychological impact, but not much else. And the psychological impact is going to be as follows: (1) to increase Americans' tolerance for military action against Arab states that sponsor terrorism, especially Iraq and Saudi-controlled Arabia; and (2) to cause Americans to lose any real concern about civilian casualties in countries with which we are at war.

The last time someone made war largely against American civilians, the response was near-extermination. Is this a game the Islamists want to play? Because they're stupid, the answer to that question may be yes. Den Beste's piece on the Mongols and the Assassins is looking more relevant. (Den Beste usually is -- just read this one on the difference between warriors and soldiers.)

Think I'm wrong about these consequences? Just read this quote reproduced by Orrin Judd.


THE NEW REPUBLIC joins in the Fisk-Fisking fun. Sounds like they've been reading a lot of blogs.


CHINA IS PLANNING A MOONBASE, and wants to set up mining operations there. Take it away, Rand Simberg!


IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THIS ALREADY, Wired has a story on how Sony's latest CD copy-protection technology is readily defeated by magic markers. It may crash your computer, even when you're just trying to listen to a CD you've bought -- but it won't stop anyone trying to make copies, unless the RIAA succeeds in a new campaign to ban magic markers.

Jeez. Maximal inconvenience, minimal effectiveness: Sony must have hired the same corps of elite security specialists who are advising the airport security establishment.


ERIC OLSEN IS RATHER HARSH in a post about Andrew Sullivan. Sullivan should get his permalinks working, though.


I HAD A POST ABOUT A DUMB GEORGIE ANN GEYER COLUMN last week, but Blogger was undergoing one of its periodic epileptic fits, and by the time it was working again I forgot to post it. But Best of the Web has the definitive takedown.

EUGENE VOLOKH compares guns and

EUGENE VOLOKH compares guns and abortion.

UPDATE: And now he's got a very interesting post on slippery slopes and gun control, also in response to Mary McGrory's anti-gun oped today.

TAPPED compares Bush's use of

TAPPED compares Bush's use of Air Force One on trips to campaign for Republicans to Hillary Clinton's use of government travel when she was campaigning for herself, and wants to know why this isn't hypocritical, given that some Republicans criticized Hillary. Um, isn't part of the difference that Bush is, you know, the President? And she wasn't? The Washington Post article that TAPPED links to puts it this way: "The accounting guidelines used by the White House were set in 1982, and Democrats benefited mightily from them during President Bill Clinton's marathon fundraising swings. Now it's the GOP's turn."



A Forest Hills man shot two armed burglars at his home early yesterday morning and, police say, the burglars were lucky that Roy Luckett grabbed his wife's gun.

When the burglar alarm went off at 2 a.m. in Luckett's two-story home at 939 Tyne Blvd., it woke him and his wife, Patsy. Luckett had the choice of two guns in their bedroom — his .45-caliber handgun and his wife's less powerful, .38-caliber pistol, loaded with ''snake shot'' pellets. . . .

Metro police say the two wounded suspects stopped near the Harding Place/Humber Drive intersection and phoned for medical help.

The Lucketts were not injured. Metro police spokesman Don Aaron was quoted in a television report saying that the two suspects were fortunate Roy Luckett chose the gun he did.

Luckett said he does not know why the suspects stayed in the house after the alarm went off.

''They were lucky I didn't take the .45,'' he said.

Stuff like this happens every day. It gets very little attention outside local papers. News that reflects badly on gun ownership, on the other hand, tends to get national play.


THE JUNIOR VARSITY: There's a funny Sylvester cartoon (actually, they did this theme at least twice) in which Sylvester gobbles gasoline, high explosives, gunpowder, dynamite, etc., and then strikes a match, vanishing in a huge explosion. "Wow, that's a great trick!" exclaims an onlooker. "Yeah," says a now-ghostly Sylvester, rising into the sky clutching the inevitable harp. "But there's just one problem: I can only do it once."

This news story sent by reader Mark Draughn suggests that the Palestinians may be running into the same difficulty, and are now stuck with the B-Team:

A Palestinian militant detonated explosives at a busy intersection Monday as he was approached by police — killing himself, but causing no other injuries in the second suicide bombing in northern Israel in two days.
The supply of guys smart enough to be successful suicide bombers, but dumb enough to be willing to do it is finite. If they're not running out now, they will be.


HERE'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF PIECE FROM THE GUARDIAN on Euro-criticism of the United States:

Diplomatically and militarily, Europe is still a pygmy. We can't solve stuff - old stuff, middle-sized stuff - within our own borders. Why on earth should we presume to lecture the rest of the world on conflict resolution? And what, in honesty, do we have to say, as Europeans, to the White House which should engage their attention?

The Chirac lecture on probity in government? The Berlusconi lecture on trans-media ownership? The Schrцder lecture on economic dynamism? Even the Blair lecture on incisive leadership (once I've squared Gordon)?

Humility isn't merely in order, but inescapable - and humility doesn't begin at Calais. For all the resonance of commandos blowing up empty caves in the Hindu Kush, our own wait-and-see game of hint, smirk and scowl over referendums is just one more reason for the Americans to shrug us away. Speedy on the motes, as Colin Powell might observe, but dead slow on the beams. What use is fixing Sierra Leone if you can't fix No 11?

Interesting. Perhaps we're beginning to see the conventional wisdom fray.


IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM. . . . After being savaged throughout the Blogosphere, The Guardian now has a blog of its own. Well, kind of. I mean, it's no TAPPED, but then they're new at this.

UPDATE: No they're not -- I'm just an idiot. It's been around a while. Of course, that means they have no excuse for not being as good as TAPPED.


JIM BENNETT'S UPI COLUMN is a response to Chris Patten's unity-through-opposition-to-American-tariffs article from The Spectator.


SOME THOUGHTS ON INTELLIGENCE FAILURES: Andrew Hofer agrees that the real problem was a systemic breakdown --as he puts it, the inability of agencies with part of the picture to share information laterally so that the whole picture could be put together. Meanwhile, David Rothkopf writes in Foreign Policy that the business community has the expertise to solve these, and similar, problems in the war on terrorism if allowed.

As best I can tell, the evidence indicates that people had figured out that something was going to happen, and the rather slow and kludgey national security apparatus was starting to move toward doing something about it -- but the terrorists were inside our decision curve, and thus able to strike before we were able to act even though we had access (somewhere in the system) to all the information that would have been needed to anticipate the attacks.

In this, as I've said before, the learning curve, and the ability to learn and act faster than the enemy, is the key. American civilians, using civilian technology and their own inherent ability to self-organize, were able to neutralize the terrorist plan in 109 minutes, as Flight 93 demonstrates. The national security bureaucracy, on the other hand, still hasn't fully gotten its act together. This is what we ought to be asking tough questions about. Unfortunately, that threatens the whole feedlot, meaning that very few people in Washington -- in either party -- have any incentive to ask the right questions.


MORE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN SYRIA. Where's Mary Robinson on this? Oh, right.


CHIRAC WANTS TO CUT TAXES, despite heavy opposition from the EU. See, I told you there was hope for France.


GRAY DAVIS SCANDAL UPDATE: This article from the Christian Science Monitor surveys Davis's many fundraising scandals, and says it's hurting him in the polls. He may wish he had the $10 million that he spent on anti-Riordan ads back now. . . .


A "DESPERATE" PAKISTAN IS READY TO NUKE INDIA, according to this article in The Times of India. This seems dubious to me, as (1) Pakistan's nukes and delivery systems probably won't work that well; and (2) India will annihilate Pakistan in such an event.

And who, exactly, is this desperate? Not Musharraf, who has nothing to gain from this. Perhaps some Ladenites in the Pakistani high command might desire this outcome for apocalyptic-dumb Ladenite reasons -- but if Pakistan still has that many Ladenites in its high command, I'd be very surprised.

MEDPUNDIT HAS A lengthy discussion

MEDPUNDIT HAS A lengthy discussion of smallpox vaccination, and more-or-less joins the call for mass vaccination on the grounds that the CDC's "ring vaccination" approach won't work in a biowar setting.

UPDATE: The dreaded Blogger Archive Bug has appeared. Just go to the main Medpundit location. Scroll down if necessary.


MICHAEL RUBINS SAYS that Mary Robinson should be investigated as a war criminal. He's got the goods.

UPDATE: Reader William Sjostrom writes from Ireland with this observation:

In a decade in this country, I have endured countless smug lectures from Irish intellectuals on how much more reasonable their political system is than America's. So, it gives me huge, immature, and vindictive pleasure to note that Sinn Fein, the closest thing Ireland has to a Nazi party (virulently nationalist, racist, although they deny that part, and anti-foreign, dedicated to the wildest dreams of socialism, and very big on using baseball bats on their opponents) got 6.5% of the first-preference votes, and 5 out of the 166 seats in the Irish parliament, in the Irish general election on Friday.

Perhaps someone can explain why the Wall Street Journal describes Sinn Fein as left-wing, whereas LePen is right wing.

I wait for Mary Robinson to denounce extremism in her own country.

Wait all you want, but don't hold your breath while you do.


HMM. I TAKE BACK ALL MY CRITICISM of the Bush Administration's foreign policy. New evidence has appeared to suggest that they're clearly on the right track.


MICKEY KAUS JUMPS ON a blogger-inspired antiterrorist scheme.


ACCORDING TO THIS REPORT, Syria is pressing Hamas to step up suicide attacks. Hmm. Put them on the list for "regime change." Oh, wait -- they're already there! Guess they're not really our friends, huh?

THE HOLLINGS BILL gets criticized

THE HOLLINGS BILL gets criticized even by self-described copyright protectionist Roger Parloff:

I have frequently sided with the protectionists in the digital copyright showdowns to date. I thought Napster was illegal, for instance, and think the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (which prohibits disseminating software designed to strip copy-protection off the files of copyrighted works) is sensible and constitutional. But certain lines must not be crossed in the quest to secure creators' digitized intellectual property. Sen. Hollings' bill transgresses those lines by a country mile.

Though my guess is that creators can adequately protect their digital wares without legislation of this sort, if events should prove me wrong, the Hollings legislation should still be defeated. If controlling digital property requires government intervention on this scale, then there should be no such control. Digital technology will have rebuffed the legal system's attempts to tame it, anti-protectionists will have won the war, and it will be time for protectionists like me to raise the white flag. We can't imperil everyone's freedom and prosperity in a quixotic quest. The game has to end somewhere.

Indeed. (Via Overlawyered.Com).


THE ROBERT MUSIL / TED BARLOW FEUD continues apace. Here's a link to the latest installment, which links back to the one before, and so on.


JUDGING BY HOW MANY OF THEM ARE SHOWING UP IN MY EMAIL, the Klez worm is still spreading. I get a couple of copies every time I check my email now, it seems. Norton catches it with no problem -- though the new version won't let me set it to autodelete this stuff, so I have to click on a button every time, which kind of sucks.


I'VE USED THE ANALOGY between blogs and 18th century coffeehouses when talking to reporters on several occasions, but none of them has seemed very interested in it. Doug Turnbull, however, has an excellent post on the subject.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OVER THE WEEKEND, I had a link to a post by "Cranky Professor" Michael Tinkler that sheds some interesting light on the likelihoood that Michael Bellesiles' claims are true.

JOSHUA CLAYBOURN has some interesting

JOSHUA CLAYBOURN has some interesting thoughts on why you should want SNL to stay as unfunny as possible.


SYLVIA HEWLETT'S BOOK "Creating a Life: Professional Women and the Quest for Children" has gotten publicity all over the place, but it's still not selling. Publicity is useful for selling books, in that it's hard to sell them without it, but it's what we lawyers call a "necessary but not sufficient condition."

Why isn't it selling? Apparently, women find it depressing.

UPDATE: Reader R.Z. German writes:

Maybe women aren't reading it because they disagree with the data, the analysis and the conclusions.

One point that hit me & my 40-ish friends: Hewlett is still painting women as passive victims of society & corporate America. Absurd. The choices we all face are tough, and books that either serve to inspire guilt over choices we made or anxiety over choices to be made may not be what women (and men) want to read. My thoughtful friends recognize that decisions about career, family etc, were hard to make the, and are hard to change 20 years later, but that there is fulfillment, happiness, etc, in either path
(or a hybrid betwixt the two).

Yeah, there's a whiff of 1987 about the whole enterprise, it's true.

May 19, 2002


A NERD'S TALE OF REVENGE, as told by Josh Trevino.






EUGENE VOLOKH HAS an oped on the Second Amendment and on the Bush Administration's position thereon. He also has this accompanying timeline of Second Amendment analysis that suggests that the Bush/Ashcroft position represents the norm, and the prior position a departure from the norm, as against the previous two centuries or so.

BY THE WAY, I'm in

BY THE WAY, I'm in the process of moving to a new server. My hosting difficulties seem to be solved. The InstaPundit.Com URL will take you there once everything's up and running, but I'll post further notices.


THAT'S IT FOR A WHILE. I'm continuing the new policy of limited blogging on weekends.


THE BLAME GAME: Eric Olsen has a pretty long post on Al Qaeda activities through the 1990s, and how they were ignored. He concludes: "There is plenty of blame to go around. Let's learn from our mistakes and not repeat them."

CBS UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has

CBS UPDATE: Pejman Yousefzadeh has preserved a screenshot of the original story for posterity's sake.


NADERISM OF THE WEEK: "Fast food restaurants are weapons of mass destruction," according to Nader speaking in France. (Via Matt Welch).


READER HAMISH CAMPBELL also opposes a boycott of France:

Like many Scotsmen, I find myself rather conflicted with regard to France. The ties of 'Auld Alliance' go back to 1295 and strange as it might sound to some, that actually does count for something even now to people like me. Yet contrary to what others might think, England too is not an enemy... a rival at times yes, but in the final analysis, our customs are more akin to our brothers in London and our even cousins in New York than our mistress in Paris.

I see the Franco-German dominated EU as not just harmful and misguided an endeavour, but indicative of how the truth of the matter is that what I hear called the Anglosphere more and more in various blogs really does exist and France is not in any real way a part of that. Our old liberties, hard won yet hanging in the balance this very day across BOTH the United Kingdom and the United States, can be better secured by cutting the ties of government to socialist Brussels for Britain and a closer association between both the United Kingdom and the United States. Not union, mind you, for whilst the USA has much to admire, it has other things to abominate, such as its over-mighty taxation 'service' which makes our Inland Revenue seem like kittens, a legal system seemingly designed to maximize the revenues of the legal profession and the fact un-enumerated rights are in reality in the USA second class rights compared to those in the written constitution.

Yet regardless of gibes about 'cheese eating surrender monkeys' so beloved of many blogs, the French, rather than the corrupt French Republic, have much to commend them. To dismiss a people such as they as all hopelessly anti-Semitic and mindlessly anti-American is, as the good folks on Libertarian Samizdata have pointed out, to paint a people with a grotesque broad brush. A French reader wrote to Instapundit telling Glenn Reynolds he would be happy to see France become the next US state! Obviously this will never happen...hell, I am usually said to be an Atlanticist and I would not actually want to see the UK actually join the USA... but it does show that
there are French people who do not take the racist Le Pen or 'little France' Chirac world view.

Boycotting France to 'punish' the French people for the views of some would be rather like boycotting the USA because of the existence of the KKK, the Aryan nation and Susan Sontag. It will be ineffective at best and harmful at worst to the very causes the boycott seeks to further. I shall continue to take my holidays in the Loire valley, I shall continue to argue for British withdrawal from the EU and I shall continue to argue for the tolerant 'small c' conservative values that I belive underpins any civilised
society and allow it to resist the siren call of irrational racist or ethnic hatreds.

Boycotts have their time and place but I cannot see the value of trying to boycott all of France other than allowing some loud mouthed pressure groups to try and gain some attention for themselves.

Hmm. That "mistress in Paris" sounded pretty good until I figured out what Campbell meant. I still think that the French will come around. They have perhaps the worst political class in Europe (which is saying something -- and it's not like I think the American political class is any great prize) but Campbell is right that the real problem is there, not among the populace, for the most part.


PERRY DE HAVILLAND weighs in against the "boycott France" movement.