November 20, 2004


UPDATE: Look, dudes, you were warned . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: This may have been a bigger deal than the original reports suggested. Others, however, are invoking Bush's rugby days.

TIMES VS. TIMES: IraqPundit says that the New York Times is missing what the London Times has figured out. Ouch.

OVER AT HIT AND RUN, THEY'RE DISSING Rolling Stone's list of the 500 "best" rock songs. But over at SKBubba's they've come up with their own top 500 list. I'm happy to see that Terry Hill made the cut. (SKB says that Jesse Fox Mayshark was the driving force behind this, which doesn't surprise me.) See if you don't think that the Bubba crowd has outperformed the Rolling Stone folks. Though, to my mind, "Slow Death" is the canonical Flamin' Groovies song.

IS THE NEW YORK TIMES turning Oliver Stone into a cultural martyr? Ann Althouse thinks so. (And what a great quote from Stone: "I don't want to corrupt history." Heh. Indeed.) Meanwhile, people in Greece are unamused.

UPDATE: More on the whole Alexander-the-Gay business here at the Agora. Well, that fits!

CATS AND DOGS, living together.

RETAIL SUPPORT BRIGADE SITREP: Went to the mall today. It seemed quite crowded, quite early, for this stage of the shopping season, and judging by the packages and the lines people were buying things. I don't think we're headed for a recession.

Also went to Target, notwithstanding Hugh Hewitt's objections. (What was I going to do -- order my cat litter over the Internet? That's so 1999.) They seemed busy, too, though they've licked the cashier-shortage problem. Yeah, they ought to let the Salvation Army ring the bells out front, but I just can't get myself into a world-beating snit over it. I think I'll have to side with Lileks and the Turkeyblog on this one. Nonetheless, I welcome Hugh's protests as proof that, contrary to rumor, the Dayton Hudson conspiracy doesn't really control the blogosphere.

Besides, if you really want to hurt Target, don't call for a boycott. Just open up a Samuel's across the street. Mmmm, Hebrew National and free wi-fi . . . .

DAVE BARRY: "Here's a newspaper article on blogs, pointing out that they can be inaccurate. It mentions my name: Dave Berry."

Dan Gillmor's name is also misspelled. Heh. (Via Tim Blair).

SOME VERY NICE landscape photos from Brazilian photographer Alex Uchoa.

CNET HAS A LENGTHY REVIEW UP on the new Canon EOS 20D 8.2 megapixel digital SLR. Here's another from Steve's Digicams, and here's one from DPreview. It looks quite good, though as I'm getting excellent 20x30 prints from my 6.3 megapixel Nikon D70, I'm not quite sure what I'd do with the extra megapixels. I'm sure I'd find something!

And though some emailers have accused me of being a Nikon snob and not giving the Canon cameras their due, I'm sure this is a great camera. I nearly bought the 10D rather than the Nikon, and I'm sure I would have been happy with it. The big deciding factor was that the Nikon's bundled lens was better and -- more important still -- the Nikon just felt better in my hand. And that's why I'd encourage people to try these things out in meatspace, and not just look on the web. I'm sure I would have been happy enough with the Canon, but the "feel" of equipment is important to me, and you can't judge that sort of thing on the Internet. Er, yet, anyway . . . .

BIGGEST FIGHT IN SPORTS HISTORY? Here's a roundup on the Pistons/Pacers brawl.

UPDATE: Here's video.


American troops now control all of Fallujah and have found extensive evidence of terrorist and criminal gangs using the city as a headquarters. Evidence was found of torture chambers, and video sets used for filming the execution of kidnap victims. Moreover, the body of a woman, thought to be foreign aid executive (Care International) Margaret Hassan, was also found in Fallujah. A video of her murder was recently released by her killers, and it appears that the killing was done in Fallujah. Without Fallujah as a “safe area” for keeping hostages, killing them, and getting away with it, the terrorists have to do their dirty work in cities where there is a strong police presence, and nearby American troops. That’s what’s happening in Baghdad, Mosul and other cities right now. The gangs are trying to control neighborhoods in these cities, and are not succeeding.

The government has ordered the police and army to enter mosques and arrest clerics who continue to preach violence against the government. This has led to a familiar drill where American troops surround a mosque, and Iraqi commandos go in and arrest those wanted, and often find weapons and other incriminating evidence.

Opinion surveys continue to show the majority of Iraqis determined to have elections, democracy and an end of terrorism and Sunni Arab dictatorship. Iraqis are not happy with the way the international (especially Arab) media portrays anti-government forces and terrorists as “freedom fighters.” Iraqis know exactly what the fighters are fighting for, and it isn’t freedom. The violent gangs want to revive Sunni Arab rule over the Shia Arab and Kurd majority. Even many Sunni Arabs don’t care for this outcome, because only a minority of Sunni Arabs benefit when someone like Saddam Hussein is in charge.

By the way, you can subscribe to StrategyPage's email service from their front page. I've found it quite good.

November 19, 2004



The whole thing reminded me of the Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk explains to a marooned Zefram Cochrane that there's a whole, growing galaxy out there teaming with life that he can explore. Except that Wolfe was essentially telling an insular and emotionally walled-in left to go visit America for themselves.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Several readers note that Wolfe continues to plug James Webb's new book. Yeah, I had noticed that. It seems to be selling quite well: it's at #133 on Amazon.


UPDATE: More Jetta pics here. (Via Jalopnik, a new Gawker car-blog I hadn't seen before.)


PAUL BOUTIN: "As a San Franciscan, I need to point out that a stuffed animal fetish is perfectly normal. It's your neighbors who have the problem."


THE SPACE TOURISM BILL, which looked dead, is coming up for a vote this afternoon according to the folks at XCOR Aerospace.

GOOD NEWS ON CLONING: "U.N. diplomats abandoned contentious efforts to draft a treaty that would outlaw human cloning and will likely settle for a weaker declaration that won't seek a comprehensive ban, officials said. The last-minute agreement on Thursday appeared to be a major blow to President Bush, who had called for a total ban on cloning when he spoke before the U.N. General Assembly in August."

It's a blow I'm happy to see.

MORE ON WEB VIDEO over at -- and Howard Owens' award-winning work for the Ventura County Star gets a mention.

THE VOLOKH CONSPIRACY has taken the Boeing. Bravo!

DAVID ADESNIK NOTES that even Juan Cole -- who is, to put it mildly, no friend of the Bush Administration, or its Iraq strategy -- is saying that:

The Marines at Fallujah are operating in accordance with a UNSC Resolution and have all the legitimacy in international law that flows from that. The Allawi government asked them to undertake this Fallujah mission.

To compare them to the murderous thugs who kidnapped CARE worker Margaret Hassan, held her hostage, terrified her, and then killed her is frankly monstrous. The multinational forces are soldiers fighting a war in which they are targetting combatants and sometimes accidentally killing innocents. The hostage-takers are terrorists deliberately killing innocents. It is simply not the same thing.


I STILL THINK THAT GILLIGAN IS BETTER, but if you're into Survivor: Vanuatu, Jeff Harrell has been following it.

ON MONDAY, I MENTIONED a collection of house remixes of Lawrence Welk.

The weirdness continues, as several readers emailed about The Pink Panther's Penthouse Party, a Henry Mancini remix collection that includes, among other things, a Fischerspooner remix of the Pink Panther theme, and similar efforts by the likes of Dmitri from Paris, Fatboy Slim, and Ursula 1000. (You can hear samples -- which, really, is probably all you'd want to hear . . . -- by following the link.)

What's next? Hard-house versions of Pat Boone? Why not? It'd be bangin'. . . .

UPDATE: It's not quite hard house, but reader Rob Port notes that Pat Boone did release a collection of heavy metal tunes some years back, entitled No More Mr. Nice Guy. I had forgotten that. There are streamable samples there, too -- I think his cover of "Crazy Train" is my favorite. Er, if "favorite" is the right word. . . .

Lisa Lashes, call your office!


The very job of a rifleman is to close with and destroy his enemy—in essence, to kill the bad guy before he can kill you. But what separates the Marines from the rabble is their professional discipline—what a Harvard political scientist called the "management of violence" in describing the U.S. military. And so, this incident stands out for two reasons. First, it shows a breach of discipline, albeit under very stressful circumstances. But it also shows the extent to which the U.S. military will throw the book at one of its own. Already, the entire 1st Marine Division staff is involved with the case, and the top U.S. commander in Iraq said Tuesday that "[I]t's being investigated, and justice will be done."

On the same day as this story, the tragic news broke that CARE International worker Margaret Hassan had been executed by her captors in Iraq. Already, there have been cries of moral equivalence. One Iraqi told the Los Angeles Times: "It goes to show that [Marines] are not any better than the so-called terrorists." Al Jazeera fanned these flames of anti-American sentiment by broadcasting the shooting incident in full while censoring Hassan's execution snuff tape. (U.S. networks refused to air actual footage of both killings.) There is a simplistic appeal to such arguments because both events involve the killing of a human being and, more specifically, the apparent execution of a noncombatant in the context of war.

Yet it is the differences between these two killings that reveal the most important truths about the Marine shooting in Fallujah. Hassan was, in every sense of the word, a noncombatant. She worked for more than 20 years to help Iraqis obtain basic necessities: food, running water, medical care, electricity, and education. The Iraqi insurgents kidnapped her and murdered her in order to terrorize the Iraqi population and the aid workers trying to help them.

By contrast, the Marines entered a building in Fallujah and found several men who, until moments before, had been enemy insurgents engaged in mortal combat. A hidden grenade would have changed everything, and the Marine would have been lauded. As it turned out, the Iraqi was entitled to mercy, but Hassan was truly innocent. There is no legitimate moral equivalence between a soldier asking for quarter and a noncombatant like Hassan.

There is another key difference that reveals a great moral divide between the Marines and insurgents they fought this week in Fallujah. The insurgents choose the killing of innocents as their modus operandi and glorify these killings with videos distributed via the Internet and Al Jazeera. They recognize no civilized norms of conduct, let alone the rules of warfare. The Marines, on the other hand, distinguish themselves by killing innocents so rarely and only by exception or mistake.

Nice that someone's noticing.

UPDATE: More here, in a must-read post by military blogger Baldilocks.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad the reaction to the shooting is "good riddance."

HOWARD KURTZ: "I don't remember anything like all this live coverage when Bush 41 opened his library, do you?"


So anathema are guns among my friends that when one learned I was doing this piece, he opened his wallet, silently pulled out an NRA membership card, then (after I recovered from the sight) asked me not to spread it around lest his son be kicked out of nursery school. My entire experience with guns consisted of a riflery class at summer camp back when Millard Fillmore was president, and an afternoon 20 years ago shooting at tin cans with a friend.

But things soon change:

The ammo itself made me uneasy, as if it could explode on contact, and I fumbled as I tried to load the shotgun. The first few shots didn't go well. I could hear my blood pumping in my ears, and I realized that when you close both eyes as you pull the trigger, your clay target will fall to the ground intact. I slowed my breath, forced myself to keep one eye opened, and miraculously hit the thing. In the end I blasted 11 out of 25. Ricardo was thrilled and so was I. I felt even better about myself when, after I made Ricardo shoot a box of ammo, he hit only two more targets than I did.

It's not unusual for a woman to quickly shoot well, he said. "She tends to listen to detail more precisely, and she has no preconceived notion she knows what to do." . . .

Before I slinked back to my now-embarrassing Volvo, I stopped to watch two men shooting. They were fast and fluid and the targets shattered one after another. I am happily married, but I found myself thinking these two—whose faces I couldn't even make out—were awfully attractive.

Another bellicose woman is born. What's next? This?



UN employees were readying on Friday to make a historic vote of no confidence in scandal-plagued Secretary General Kofi Annan, sources told AFP.

The UN staff union, in what officials said was the first vote of its kind in the more than 50-year history of the United Nations, was set to approve a resolution withdrawing its support for the embattled Annan and UN management.

Annan has been in the line of fire over a high-profile series of scandals including controversy about a UN aid programme that investigators say allowed deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to embezzle billions of dollars.

But staffers said the trigger for the no-confidence measure was an announcement this week that Annan had pardoned the UN’s top oversight official, who was facing allegations of favouritism and sexual harassment.

Stay tuned.

November 18, 2004

RAND SIMBERG RESPONDS to Alex Tabarrok's piece on space tourism and safety, noted below.

KARL ROVE'S BRILLIANT, SECRET PLOT to get rid of Michael Moore!

Daniel Casey observes: "Karl Rove, you magnificent bastard.
It is genius. And it can't be traced back to you at all . . . "

UPDATE: A contrary theory, here.

THE HIDDEN COST of media-circus trials. I think Fox, CNN, and MSNBC ought to pick up the tab. . . .

I KNEW I WOULD COME TO REGRET IT, when my brother started to blog.

Outside the Student Center.

TODAY MAY HAVE BEEN the last nice day where the leaves were still on the trees. Here are a couple of pictures from campus.

This statue is called 'the vagina' by students.

SOME ADVICE TO CONDI RICE from some anonymous insiders at State.

REPORTING FROM FALLUJAH: It's not very reliable.

"ANTI-DANDER SHAMPOO?" No, not the veterinary kind.

My blood is actually deep orange.
JUST GAVE BLOOD as part of the annual Blue/Orange blood drive competition with the University of Kentucky. The list of questions they ask just keeps getting longer, and I continue to wonder how much good (or harm) it's doing, given that as a regular donor I get plaintive "we're short of blood" calls on a regular basis now. (More on this here and here.) At any rate, they're screening out so many people that I encourage everyone who is eligible to donate -- there aren't that many of us left.

One interesting observation: This is the first time I've donated on campus where there were more men than women giving. Usually it's quite lopsided in the other direction. One of the techs there told me that it's been that way this year; no idea why.

SOMETIMES I WONDER what people did to amuse themselves before there was PhotoShop.

(Via Physics Geek).

ASYMMETRICAL INFORMATION: No, not the blog. The situation, as described by Cathy Seipp:

One of the election lessons for Democrats is that while the Left doesn't understand the Right, the Right can't help but understand the Left, because the Left is in charge of pop culture. Urban blue staters can go their entire lives happily innocent of the world of church socials and duck hunting and Boy Scout meetings, but small-town red staters are exposed to big-city blue-state values every time they turn on the TV.

That's true.


UPDATE: Steve Sturm is using Michael Moore as a benchmark for Stone:

Moore pulled in something in the ballpark of $150+ million - for a movie that didn't play too well with red audiences.

So, let's set that as the bar - anything less than $150 million and Stone can't blame America for his lousy movie... not that he won't try, of course...

I hear it's a stinker. Stone's remarks suggest I'm right.

THE TRANSATLANTIC INTELLIGENCER is a new blog looking at U.S. / European relations.

ANTISEMITISM ON THE LEFT: David Bernstein observes: "Folks on the Left have been throwing around the term 'Likudnik' to refer to any non-left-wing Jew who differs with them on foreign policy, even when the relevant issue has nothing directly to do with Israel, Iraq being exhibit A. . . . Not surprisingly, the phrase 'Likudnik' is gradually becoming a general anti-Semitic term for Jews whose opinions one doesn't like."

I guess they're just taking their cues from the United Nations.

HMM: "North Korea's Dear Leader Less Dear:"

North Korea's official radio and news agency has dropped the honorific "Dear Leader" from its reports on the country's leader, Kim Jong-il.

The report by Radiopress, a Japanese news agency that monitors North Korea's radio, follows news this week that portraits of the North Korean leader have been removed from homes and offices.

"Powell: North Korea May Be Easing Stance on Nuclear Talks:"

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says North Korea may be ready to resume multi-party talks to defuse a crisis over its nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Powell told reporters en route to Chile for the APEC summit that the United States has seen signals coming out of North Korea where it said it never insisted the crisis be solved only through negotiations with the United States.

What's going on? Beats me. Roger Simon has more thoughts.

HOWARD KURTZ has the best one-sentence take on the Tom Delay stuff I mentioned yesterday: "If lots of people are really getting indicted without cause, shouldn't the House hold hearings on it, rather than worry about shielding indicted Republican leaders?"

Yes they are, and yes they should. But no, they won't. Here's an explanation.

ANOTHER DISCONNECT between news and editorial at the Times. Jon Henke suggests: "Time Saving Tip: Run N.Y. Times Editorials on Corrections page."

The wall of separation was supposed to keep editorial opinion from infiltrating the news -- not to keep factual information from infiltrating the editorials. Recent evidence suggests, though, that it's doing more of the latter than the former. . . .

MARK CUBAN HAS THOUGHTS on the FCC as marketing partner.

AUSTIN BAY writes on Arafat's true legacy.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, stories about the real cause of Arafat's death abound. Here's the official Arafat death Canard-o-Matic (shouldn't Mad magazine get royalties for these things?) and Israelpundit has been following the rumors for a while.

JIM BENNETT has a website for his new book, The Anglosphere Challenge. But where's the blog?

By the way, if you follow the book link you can see an interesting review by Lexington Green of the ChicagoBoyz blog.

ALEX TABARROK writes that space tourism isn't ready for takeoff: "The problem is not the monetary expense, there are enough millionaires with a yearning for adventure to support an industry. The problem is safety. Simply put, rockets remain among the least safe means of transportation ever invented." That's true, though some people also have a fairly high risk threshold for voluntarily adventurous activities.

UPDATE: David Nishimura agrees with me, and has the numbers to prove it.

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT looks back and asks: "If there had been no Internet, what would have been different in this election?"

Jim Geraghty, who's back from his post-election vacation, has some related thoughts.

And Mystery Pollster has more on exit polls, and says that there's no evidence of electronic-voting fraud -- apparently, the exit polls were just as wrong everywhere, regardless of voting method. (Here's the original item, an interview with exit-pollster Warren Mitofsky, that he's writing about.)


But why kill Theo Van Gogh, of all the people who have expressed hostility to radical Islam? Perhaps it was mere chance, but more likely it resulted from his work’s exposure of a very raw nerve of Muslim identity in Western Europe: the abuse of women. This abuse is now essential for people of Muslim descent for maintaining any sense of separate cultural identity in the homogenizing solution of modern mass society.

In fact, Islam is as vulnerable in Europe to the forces of secularization as Christianity has proved to be. The majority of Muslims in Europe, particularly the young, have a weak and tenuous connection to their ancestral religion. Their level and intensity of belief is low; pop music interests them more. Far from being fanatics, they are lukewarm believers at best. Were it not for the abuse of women, Islam would go the way of the Church of England.

Hmm. I'm not sure of that last, but read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A long and interesting post on Europe and Islam, including this observation: "If European politicians are already thinking in terms of fighting against the USA, then they are not going to be in any hurry to oppose the wave of Islamism which is currently the USA's most active enemy. Just as France supported North American rebels against the British Empire in the 1770s, and Britain and France supported the Confederacy against the Union in the 1860s, these Europeans are likely to be sympathetic to any minor power that is likely to weaken the USA." That last "proxy war" point has been made before. To the extent that this is actually European strategy, it strikes me as deeply unwise. But then, deeply unwise European strategy has been at the root of most of the world's troubles over the past several centuries.

SOME MORE BABY PICTURES: Various people email to say that I was unfair to my brother in my earlier post. Well, you can decide which of us is the smart one, and which is the good-looking one. (Though one of his students once opined that "there's not a dime's worth of difference" between us, which we both chose to take as a compliment. . . .)

And here's a picture of Victoria, who's clearly better looking than either of us.

There's no need even to get a second opinion on that. As Stephen Green once opined, both of us Reynolds boys have married well.

We wouldn't argue.

UPDATE: Robert Racansky emails: "Your brother looks like you, but with a beard. Sort of like Spock & Mirror Universe Spock."

I find that observation, er, fascinating . . .

November 17, 2004

SOME BLOGGERS ARE CRITICIZING KEVIN SITES: Power Line is defending him, and so is The Confederate Yankee.

UPDATE: A related post from Donald Sensing.

JUST SAW JEFF JARVIS ON AARON BROWN, debating Rebecca Hagelin of Heritage regarding broadcast indecency and the Nicolette Sheridan Monday Night Football commercial.

I saw the commercial for the first time in that broadcast, and I have to say that it was an absolute disgrace, and that it should not have been allowed to air. It didn't show nearly enough of Nicolette Sheridan to justify all the hoopla, and that's a tragedy because, despite her perhaps overdone plastic surgery, she's still hot.

The Aaron Brown show was good TV, though. Although I've chastised Jeff in the past for making the FCC's indecency crusade -- which, remember, has been led by a Democrat -- into some sort of Bush/Religious Right campaign, he's refined his approach since. As I've said before, I'd be happy to lose the broadcast indecency standards, which have no First Amendment basis. I have to say, though, that if you have standards at all I'm not shocked to see the Howard Stern and Janet Jackson complaints. (The Sheridan spot, however, really did seem quite tame and I don't understand the fuss.)

Jeff also made a good move by in essence accusing Hagelin of being anti-American -- he said there's nothing evil or raunchy about American culture. Nice rhetorical move, and basically a good point.

To me, though, the whole debate seems a bit surreal. Broadcast TV is rapidly diminishing in importance, and broadcast radio isn't far behind. It's not yet like debating buggy-whip design, but it's heading that way.

UPDATE: Reader Chuck Pelto doesn't like this post:

All of our 'best' television glamorizes adultery. There's nothing higher in our culture than sex. Nothing at all.

And just what denomination of "christian" are you? I want to make sure I avoid that particular group. They've got serious problems if you are representative of their beliefs.

I'm a Presbyterian. But I'm not very happy with the growing antisemitism I see in the leadership.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Perhaps the real sacrilege here was against football. Reader Sam Lindsey emails:

Actually, I didn’t see the promo when it aired, just replays. I agree with you that she is still hot. However, I thought the spot was notable for its tastelessness; if I want to see sexy sluts, I will tune to “Desperate Housewives”; when I want to watch football, I want to see football, not a mix of the two.

By the way, I think everyone is complaining to the wrong person; complain to the NFL, not the FCC.

That last point is a good one.

A READER JUST EMAILED that blogs are playing a role in tonight's West Wing. I'm guessing bloggers won't be the heroes of the episode. But since I don't generally watch the show, I could be wrong.

UPDATE: More here. It's supposed to be Wonkette?

LETTER FROM A MARINE -- it's a must-read.

UPDATE: More thoughts from military bloggers here. And read this, too. And this.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a link-rich roundup on the subject, with this observation:

This is an information war; just as Al-Jazeera didn’t play the Italian or CARE snuff film murders and nobody showed the pictures of the horror we stopped in Falluja, and just as the pornographic obsession with Abu Ghraib dominated media, this will become a way to weaken the American center of gravity of public support. This is a warfare tactic as surely as cryptography use or artillery employment.

I wish that wasn't true.

THE TIMES OF LONDON is making its content free online now. I recommend reading this story in its entirety:

Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants. . . .

The same story of arbitrary executions was told by another resident, found by US troops cowering in his home with his brother and his family.

"They would wear black masks, carry rocket-propelled grenades and Kalashnikovs, and search streets and alleys," said Iyad Assam, 24. "I would hear stories, about how they executed five men one day and seven another for collaborating with the Americans. They made checkpoints on the roads. They put announcements on walls banning music and telling women to wear the veil from head to toe."

It was not just pedlars of alcohol or Western videos and women deemed improperly dressed who faced the militants' wrath. Even residents who regard themselves as observant Muslims lived in fear because they did not share the puritan brand of Sunni Islam that the insurgents enforced.

These are Michael Moore's "minutemen." Read the whole thing. And here's a claim that the U.S. press is soft-pedaling the terrorists' behavior in Fallujah.

(WEB)VIDEO KILLED THE TV STAR: More thoughts on this subject over at


AIRBORNE WI-FI: I wrote about this a while back, and now it's starting to happen. "With Lufthansa, you'll eventually be able to circle the world without losing your broadband. Battery life, however, is another story."


ADOPT-A-SNIPER: Now there's a charity. . . .

RACIST CARTOONS ABOUT CONDI RICE: Various offenders are identified over at The Democracy Project.

But of course, these cartoons can't be racist, because they're about a Republican.

UPDATE: Bob Beckel goes berserk in a discussion of these cartoons.

ANOTHER UPDATE: OVERT RICISM: Michael Demmons wonders how gay Republican appointees will be treated by cartoonists.

I'VE FINALLY FIGURED OUT what Frank J. is up to.


PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: Don't change the rules for Tom Delay.

Amy Ridenour, however, dissents.

Sadly, it's too early for a Guinness.
MORE WIRELESS INTERNET: I'm lunchblogging at the Kingston Alley Ale House, another of the many fine Knoxville establishments offering free wireless Internet. It's a good place, but it'll be getting a lot more of my business -- and quite a few others' I expect -- in the future because of the wi-fi.

I love this stuff.

A GLOBAL CLONING BAN: Just another bad idea from the U.N. -- so why is the Bush Administration going along?

UNSCAM UPDATE: Claudia Rosett writes:

With estimates soaring of graft and fraud under the United Nations Oil for Food program in Iraq, we are hearing a lot about the need to "get to the bottom" of this scandal, the biggest ever to hit the U.N. To get to that bottom will need a much harder look at the top--where Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself resides.

That violates all sorts of taboos. But so, one might suppose, does a United Nations that allowed Saddam Hussein to embezzle at least $21.3 billion in oil money during 12 years, with the great bulk of that sum--a staggering $17.3 billion--pilfered between 1997-2003, on Mr. Annan's watch.


RICH, BLOGGY GOODNESS: This week's Carnival of the Vanities is up.

A DEMONSTRATION FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS in front of the Saudi Embassy: "It's a start." I agree.

UPDATE: Here's another small positive development.

MORE INTERESTING ELECTORAL MAPS: Is population-density the best predictor of voting?

WEB VIDEO: I've been talking a lot about the growing importance of web video. It looks like The Wall Street Journal thinks it's important, too, as they've set up a new video page. It's free. The WSJ seems to be doing a lot of cool new stuff with their site lately.

UPDATE: Speaking of Web video, Amazon has another short movie up on its website. It's called "Agent Orange," and it's directed by Tony Scott. And they're soliciting filmmakers for future projects, which makes me think it's more than just a marketing stunt.

What did I think? It's not a bad short, though the dialogue was a bit, er, cartoonish. . . (Here's the permalink in case you're reading this later in the archives). And I think that Bruce Sterling's new lamp should have made an appearance! But I'm more interested in this venture as a harbinger than anything else. I think it's significant that both Amazon and the WSJ are making a big run with this stuff. And I think that smaller operators can get involved, too.


Seven paragraphs of material in the book, totaling about 400 words, repeat verbatim or closely track sections of Mr. Wilson's article, titled "George W. Bush's Lost Year in 1972 Alabama." The article, which can be found at, was published on Feb. 2 on Mr. Wilson's Web site, Southerner Daily News. Ms. Kelley's book was released on Sept. 14. . . .

Ms. Kelley could not be reached for comment. Through her literary agent, Wayne S. Kabak, she referred questions to lawyers for her publisher. In its legal answer to the lawsuit filed in the court in Alabama, Random House Inc. denied Mr. Wilson's claims and said that if any material was copied or wrongfully appropriated, it was not protected by copyright, was of minimal scope, did not damage Mr. Wilson and was covered under the legal doctrine of "fair use."

Hmm. As I've written before, you have to know a lot about context to tell whether something is really plagiarism or not, but this isn't the most unqualified defense I've ever heard. It's hard to believe that anyone could be dumb enough to plagiarize a blog -- but it's happened before.

I'VE MENTIONED HERE BEFORE that I'm a big fan of Gilligan's Island. Now reader (and fellow Gilligan fan) Karl Rotstan emails:

I thought I’d let you know that TBS is now running ads for their new reality show, The Real Gilligan’s Island. They’ve gone out and found a real Skipper, First Mate, Millionaire (and his wife), a Movie Star, a Professor and a Mary Ann and will dump them on a desert isle, although it’s not clear if they will arrive after a 3-hour tour. Anyway, details can be found here.

I can't believe that they were casting a Professor and nobody even thought of me. . . .

YESTERDAY, I mentioned that was resurrecting lost sites. I managed to get the Mobius Dick site up and running, though it still needs some tweaking. If you're a former artist you may want to take advantage of this while you still can, as I gather they won't be offering this service forever.

SPACE WARFARE: My TechCentralStation column is up.

November 16, 2004


PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE looks at Big Media folks who do, and don't, get it. Meanwhile, James Lileks observes:

The Administration is clearing the decks for the second term. Out with the old & tired,, in with new ideas, etc. How’s about the mainstream media does the same? Burn up half the deadwood, ease the ossified elements off the stage, bring in new writers and editors and announcers and producers. If they can do it at State, they could do it at CBS.

Yes, yes, I know. The State Department is just that. But CBS is the news.

Indeed. And here are some more thoughts on the Administration shuffle from Greg Djerejian. And read this on goings-on at the CIA.

SORRY FOR THE LIMITED BLOGGING: The InstaWife has been feeling a bit under the weather, so I mostly hung out with her today. She's now cheering herself with a copy of James Lileks' new book, which showed up from Amazon this afternoon.

RUDE AND CRUDE at The University of Chicago. And this time it's not Garrison Keillor.

THE BELMONT CLUB offers thoughts on the shakeup at the CIA.

PEOPLE KEEP ASKING ME ABOUT RATHERGATE: I should note that is still going strong. Just keep scrolling.

RYAN SAGER notes a surprising resurgence of interest in federalism:

Republicans have sometimes been the party of federalism, railing in the 1990s about "unfunded mandates" from the federal government making it impossible for states to run their own affairs and complaining that federal involvement in education was ruining local schools.

Unfortunately, the party has been willing to abandon this principle whenever it's convenient -- with President Bush's No Child Left Behind law recently, and for years over the issue of states wanting to legalize medical marijuana.

But now a large number of disenfranchised Democrats seem willing to form a leave-me-alone coalition. They don't want Bush and his theologians deciding whether or not to fund stem-cell research, they want California to step in if the federal government won't. They don't want a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, they want their individual states to decide.

Meanwhile, I suspect that at least some Republicans will find their interest in federalism flagging further as their majority position looks more secure.

UPDATE: Julian Sanchez has more on the new new federalism on the left.


Patrolling the Bay Hap River, Kerry and his crew discovered they were about to be ambushed by a Vietcong soldier who had just popped up at the shoreline with a loaded rocket launcher in his hands. With the VC about to fire, Kerry crewmate Thomas Bellodeau shot and wounded the attacker, saving the entire boat.

Only then did Kerry leap to the shore to chase the wounded enemy down - finishing him off behind a hootch.

When critics suggested that Kerry's actions that day were something less than heroic, they were hooted down by the press.

Certainly the as yet unnamed Marine in Fallujah deserves, if not the Silver Star, the same slack the press cut Kerry.

This is a twist.

UPDATE: Bigwig says it was a fully justified Kerry.

A WHILE BACK I MOURNED the death of Ali Partovi of emailed to say that he was going to create something similar, but better. Now there's an announcement that GarageBand is partnering with Microsoft and I notice that there's a button on the main GarageBand page to "resurrect your content." I haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to check it out. I've been shamefully neglecting the music stuff lately, and it's time to do something about that, I think.

HEALTH CARE BLOGGING by health care professionals: This week's Grand Rounds is up.


Sunday’s report on the killing of Emmett Till was an example of slipshod and misleading journalism. The producers have few excuses in this case. They did it with their eyes open. They were warned not just once but several times that their forthcoming report might contain inaccuracies. In a rush to air the story, however, they plowed ahead, instead of following the first rule of journalism: getting their facts straight. . . .

The producers of "60 Minutes" have an ethical obligation to correct their inaccurate information and to corroborate their claims that five participants in the kidnapping or murder are still alive. Given our previous experiences with "60 Minutes," however, we have little hope that they will do so. While the killing of Emmett Till deserves more attention from the media, the producers of "60 Minutes" have failed to fulfill their stated mission to serve the public good.

Maybe this generalized demonstration of nonideological incompetence is meant to make their RatherGate defense more credible. . . .

November 15, 2004

HOUSE REMIXES OF LAWRENCE WELK? Yep. In the latest issue of BPM is a review of Upstairs at Larry's: Lawrence Welk Uncorked, a collection of -- you guessed it -- Lawrence Welk remixes. From the review by Andy Hermann:

It sounds like something done on a dare: An entire album of house remixes of tunes from The Lawrence Welk Show, possibly the squarest television show of all time. Can anyone really make "Bubbles in the Wine" funky? Apparently, the answer is yes. The collection's lack of polkas will disappoint Welk fans, but who cares about them, anyway? . . . Music for squares never sounded so cool.

Shockingly, I don't own the CD, but you can hear online samples here, and to my surprise it's pretty good. I think my favorite was the Kaskade Remix of String of Pearls. BT it's not, but on "degree of difficulty" alone I give it a 9.5.

TOM BROKAW: Booed by fans at the Oklahoma-Nebraska football game. More here.

UPDATE: Reader Gerald Hanner from Papillon, Nebraska emails: "Word around here is that the folks in Norman were not very good hosts to anyone last Saturday. Still, it's interesting to note that there is someone more hated in Norman than Nebraska."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Brad Dempster sends this:

As a longtime reader and a lifetime Oklahoma Football supporter, I have to chime in regarding the Tom Brokaw booing incident. I was there, and frankly, was a little embarrassed about the incident. However, this business about Oklahoma not being good hosts in general is pure bitterness.

I won’t go into the “bad host” stuff, other than to say all that was a simple combination of a few bad fans and a frustrated NU squad. And when a fully-geared football player assaults a student, knocking out several teeth and putting the guy in the hospital, it would be hard to justify that from NU’s end. Anyway, all of that is not representative of what normally happens in Norman.

But the Brokaw deal was not related to all of that. The instantaneous response came from a clear majority of the fans. It was also uncharacteristic for this crowd. Usually when quests are introduced, the crowd either claps politely, or pretty much ignores the whole thing. They are there to watch football, and it is a serious football crowd. When they showed Brokaw’s picture on the big screen, it got a resounding negative response. I suspect it would have been the same response had it been at Oklahoma State, most of the schools in Texas, or anywhere else in this area of the country.

My point? This is not Philly, where they eagerly boo Santa Claus and Snoopy just for sport. A response like this is in Norman, OK, should be a clear message to its intended target. I think Brokaw is merely guilty by association.

The big media black eye is carried by all of its personalities, and here in “Red America”, it doesn’t look like people won’t be so quick to overlook the election cycle shenanigans, at least in the short term.


PATRICK RUFFINI is blogging again.

FURTHER THOUGHTS on the Administration's appointments, over at


Following University President Don Randel’s warm introduction, the famed author, host, and wry wit of A Prairie Home Companion, started by commenting on election results.

“I am a Democrat—it’s no secret. I am a museum-quality Democrat,” Keillor said. “Last night I spent my time crouched in a fetal position, rolling around and moaning in the dark.”

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. “I’m trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to born-again Christians,” Keillor smirked. “I feel if your citizenship is in Heaven—like a born again Christian’s is—you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If born again Christians are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?”

How many moles does Karl Rove have?

UPDATE: Micah Holmquist emails: "I heard similar comments on Prarie Home Companion recently and they clearly were in jest." No hint of that in the story, but okay -- though I didn't think that he was seriously planning to amend the Constitution. I suspect that not everyone will be amused, however, as the jest is a somewhat bitter one.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Celeste Morley heard something similar on Prairie Home Companion and didn't find it amusing. Hey, some people were offended by Earl Butz's jokes, too! Michael Ubaldi thinks it's tasteless: "I don't know about it being a jest. That's like trying to make a joke about the Jewish vote and Aliyah: can you say, 'tasteless?'" Yes, I can. And Joe Carter is disappointed.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts here and here.

MORE: Eugene Volokh offers this analogy:

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to Jews," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your citizenship is in the Nation of Israel -- like a Jew's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If Jews are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

And another one!

Not one to shy away from speaking his mind, Keillor proposed a solution to what he deemed a fundamental problem with U.S. elections. "I'm trying to organize support for a constitutional amendment to deny voting rights to Catholics," Keillor smirked. "I feel if your loyalty is to a foreign political leader like the Pope -- like a Catholic's is -- you should give up your citizenship. Sorry, but this is my new cause. If Catholics are allowed to vote in this country, then why not Canadians?"

He observes: "Now if I'm right that the first two hypotheticals wouldn't be in the best of taste, even if it were quite clear that Keillor was just joking, then wouldn't we say the same about the real quote, which referred to born-again Christians?" Of course not. Everyone knows that they are ignorant, no-account rednecks and that it's safe to lampoon them in any fashion.

ABC NEWS IS REPORTING that Condi Rice will replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State.

I think she's a good choice, notwithstanding the bipartisan appeal of the Lieberman idea (which was probably a nonstarter anyway, as I don't think the Dems want to lose any Senators). I wonder if she's being groomed for a Presidential or Vice-Presidential slot in 2008?

Upside: She's up to speed on the issues. Downside: She's been working awfully hard for the past 4 years. She's probably tired. But hey, when Cheney steps down, she can be moved to the Vice Presidency and get a little rest. . . .

UPDATE: Brian Crouch emails:

The media is overlooking something. Not only is Rice the first female black Secretary of State, she’s the first black person to replace another black cabinet official of any gender.

And do I need to mention this is the first administration to have two black Secretaries of State?

Thank God for the GOP’s affirmative action stance. Namely, “may the best person win.“

I think she's a good choice. I also think she should take a week or two at the beach.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In response to Brian Crouch's email, Bill Hobbs writes: "Actually, it is an indicator of great progress on America's racial front that such things are not overly hyped by the press."

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: The more cynical Rand Simberg emails:

Actually, the fact that it's not being hyped (overly or otherwise) by the press is an indicator not of progress on America's racial front, but an indictator that she was appointed by a Republican (you know, the Party of Lincoln), rather than by a Democrat.

So cynical, that Rand.

MORE: Reader Edward Christie notes the rather fractured English of the caption accompanying Rice's photo in the ABC story: "National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice as they listen to President George W. Bush speaks in the Oval Office in Washington. (Jason Reed/Reuters)"

Are they outsourcing this stuff to some place where English isn't the native language?

STILL MORE: Condi vs. Hillary, 2008? Fun to contemplate, anyway.

MORE STILL: LaShawn Barber is pleased.

TIM BLAIR: " should be investigated over its deceptive name." He suggests a change to ""

I think "" might be more accurate still. . . .


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein's regime reaped over $21 billion from kickbacks and smuggling before and during the now-defunct U.N. oil-for-food program, twice as much as previous estimates, according to a U.S. Senate probe on Monday.

The monies flowed between 1991 and 2003 through oil surcharges, kickbacks on civilian goods and smuggling directly to willing governments, Senate investigators said at a hearing.

"How was the world so blind to this massive amount of influence-peddling?" asked Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, head of the investigations

I think the answer is that they were not so much blind, as in for a cut.

The record for today's hearings can be found here. I suspect it contains quite a few gems.

BLOGS AND MICROCHARITY: In the New York Times today.

BLACKHAWK PILOT 2SLICK VS. NBC'S JOHN HOCKENBERRY: Advantage: Well, who did you think?

BUSINESS WEEK REPORTS THAT online advertising is booming. Probably to catch all the guys like me who don't watch much TV anymore . . .

BUMBLING DADS: Here's a new manifestation of a problem noted here a while back:

One of the company's ad shows a computer-illiterate father trying, and failing, to help his daughter research a school project. As the girl gets exasperated, her mother chimes in, telling hubby to leave the girl alone and go wash the dog.

Joe Kelly, head of Dads and Daughters, said the commercial sends the message that fathers are dolts and second-class parents.

Sacks said Verizon would never run the ad if the genders were reversed.

Another Verizon ad shows a father giving his daughters cell phones. When they are disappointed that he mentions more family talk time, their mother mentions they can also talk to friends. The girls hug her, leaving the father standing on his own.

It seems to me that there's actually less of this in ads than there was a few years ago -- but that may just reflect the sharp decline in my television-watching.

JOE GANDELMAN IS ROUNDING UP blogospheric reactions to Colin Powell's resignation.

OP-ED VACANCY AT THE NEW YORK TIMES: Jonah Goldberg: "If the New York Times would like to make me an offer, I'm all ears."

I think they should get a rotating stable of bloggers.


UNSCAM UPDATE: William Safire says the U.N. is obstructing justice regarding the oil-for-food scandal.

THE PHILIPS "HEARTSTART" Automated Home Defibrillator: When I see stuff like this, I know I'm living in the 21st Century. There's even video of it in action.

UPDATE: Reader Don Vollum emails: "If you think the Heartstart is cool, look at this link." I wonder how long before they'll be routinely implanting these things -- not for people like Dick Cheney, but just as a standard precaution?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ryan Cox emails:

On June 28th 2004, my father dropped like a ton of bricks at our local baseball field. He had no pulse and was not breathing. He was dead. Thanks to the courageous actions of a few people, most especially Ken Kiernan, a portable defibrillator was used twice and my father's heart started again. CPR would not have saved him. The ambulance with its defibrillator would not have arrived on time. He ended up having quadruple bypass surgery within 3 days and is now continuing his recovery.

9 out of 10 people do not survive cardiac arrest. The defibrillator is one of the best methods for survival of this event and a portable defibrillator in public places will help more people survive.

In one of life's strange ironies, it was at my father's persistence as president of the baseball league, that the portable defibrillator was installed at the ball field. 1 year prior after a severe accident near the ball field convinced him they needed to shore up their emergency medical equipment. .

I wish to share this story so more people will continue to learn about these miracle devices. And to give as much credit as possible to Ken Kiernan. He saved my father's life.

Thank you for informing your legion of readers about this important medical device breakthrough.

My wife knows a woman who collapsed unexpectedly with arrhythmia at the gym, but who was saved by one of these. It's good that they're becoming more common.

BLOG-JOURNALISM over at Jeff Jarvis's place, where he has used FOIA to uncover the shaky foundation for the FCC's decency crusade.

TOM MAGUIRE: "I think we should demand that the Times editors be encouraged to read their own newspaper." Or as one of his commenters notes:

I'm not sure if I have this straight: On Saturday, the NYTimes prints a story going after blogs for repeating conspiracy theories that have been debunked.

Then, on Sunday, the NYTimes prints an EDITORIAL latching on to those same debunked conspiracy theories.

Is that right? I'm asking because it just seems so utterly retarded that I can't believe even the NYTimes would do it.

"Retarded" sounds so harsh. How about "editorially challenged?"

WALKER EVANS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHERS, and The Walker Evans Project at the University of Virginia has a lot of photos and background on how they were taken. I highly recommend his Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, co-authored with Knoxville literary legend (and uncle of a college friend of mine) James Agee. You can also order copies of Evans' photographs for the Farm Security Administration. Here's the catalog.

Meanwhile, the guys at Power Line have their own artistic interests.

THANKS to all the folks who donated over the weekend. I sent thank-you emails, but a few of them bounced. If you're one of those people, well, this is your thank-you note.

THE IRAQI BLOGGERS AT IRAQ THE MODEL have some thoughts on their first anniversary of blogging.

CIA PURGED BY A RUTHLESS, DICTATORIAL PRESIDENT: Ten years ago, under Clinton. The more things change. . . . Or as Jon Henke writes: "There’s nothing new under the sun, but there certainly are a lot of people who believe that sun first rose in January of 2001." Or set.

COLIN POWELL WILL ANNOUNCE HIS RESIGNATION today. A reader says that Spencer Abraham will step down, too. I expect we'll see some others between now and Thanksgiving.

Will Powell replace Cheney sometime in the next year or two? Some people are speculating on that.

UPDATE: The Bull Moose calls for Joe Lieberman as Powell's replacement. Interesting idea. (Via Moderate Voice).

SMALL TOWN VETERAN is trying to reunite the family of Sergeant Jack Gell, who was killed in Vietnam in 1965. "[W]hen SGT Gell left for Viet Nam he left a number of younger brothers and sisters in foster homes. I understand he promised his mother that when he returned he'd bring them all together. As a result of his death, some of his brothers and sisters lost contact with each other." Follow the link if you think you can help.

I'VE WRITTEN BEFORE that U.S. Immigration seems to give us the worst of both worlds -- it's porous to criminals and terrorists, but it seems to excel at alienating people who ought to get in. The other day I was talking to an acquaintance, an Albanian Kosovar refugee who will be taking her U.S. citizenship exam next month. She said that absolutely everyone she has dealt with in the process has been rude, and most of them have been inept. That was my sister-in-law's experience, too, except that the person who administered the citizenship test was nice. My brother said he was relieved that she had some positive experience in the process. . . .

Now comes this email from reader Matt Holzmann, in Seoul:

I was in Hong Kong yesterday with my friend Hamed and his Mother, who was visiting him from Cairo. We celebrated Eid al Fitr and of course had Italian. Hamed is the son of a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States, and is about as multicultural as it gets; born in Egypt, educated and an American citizen now, and having lived all over the world he now runs a $1 Billion company based in Hong Kong. He is a stalwart republican, but voted for Kerry this time.

Several months ago, his mother, who is in her late seventies, flew into New York to see one of her other sons. Her husband was a senior diplomat (including ambassador to the U.S.), and she has a green card. Despite this she was harassed and forced to spend 3 hours waiting for aomeone to examine her records. She is also quite frail. The INS staff were rude and uncaring. This is a woman who is highly cultured, and yet was treated as an enemy because of her citizenship.

She returned to Cairo, and handed in her green card at the consulate. The consul told her no one had ever done this before. I was scheduled to be in China today. Normally in the past, I would have been able to get a visa at the border. No more. The Chinese government has decided on a tit for tat with the United States now and has made it much more difficult to obtain visas.

Unfortunately, the American bureaucracy has truly alienated many of our friends and our own. With the new melt down at the CIA, perhaps we really need to revisit our style of doing things, as it seems to be endemic these days.

I hear stories like this absolutely all the time. People worry that we're alienating people with foreign policy, but far more people around the world care about this sort of thing, and they hold a lot more grudges over being shat upon by some functionary than over something they read in the Guardian.

I realize, of course, that any system that handles this many people will have its problems, but this goes beyond that. Dysfunction seems to be the norm, not an exception, and while alienating so many people might be worth it if it bought us a lot more security, I don't believe that it's doing that. This deserves a lot more attention than it's getting.

IT'S A LOT MORE THAN JUST THE ELECTIONS: Arthur Chrenkoff has another roundup of unreported good news from Afghanistan.

HISTORIANS AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM: Oops! It's been a bad couple of years for academic history.

UPDATE: Much more on this subject here.

SOME THOUGHTS ON BLOG TURNOVER. Yes, we are all replaceable. (Via David Pinto).

THIS WEEK'S CARNIVAL OF THE CAPITALISTS IS UP: Don't miss it. It's at Trader Mike's -- and he got profiled in Barron's, which is pretty cool.

LAST WEEK EVERYBODY WAS ASKING FOR BABY PICTURES, but I was too busy when I got back to upload them. Here is one of my nephew, baby William, and another of him with his mom. (There's a great picture of him with my brother, too, but he's ahem, unclad and looking rather Cheneyesque, even for a newborn, and I've actually gotten objections to even semiclad baby pictures in the past, believe it or not. Sorry.) But as for my brother, you're not missing much -- no matter what he might claim, he's the smart one. I'm the good-looking one. I'm also the one who's getting to sleep all night straight through nowadays, which can only widen the gap, appearance-wise. . . .


HOWARD DEAN compares Bush to Slobodan Milosevic. Well, it's a step up from Bush=Hitler, I guess. . . .

November 14, 2004

"THE BEST OF THE BEST FROM THE INDIAN BLOGOSPHERE:" This week's Blog Mela is up. And happy Diwali!


MY GOD, KRUGMAN, ALTERMAN AND DOWD WERE RIGHT! And Carole Simpson, too! Bush is re-elected and almost overnight Confederate soldiers are camped out under the Stars and Bars, occupying my town! It's Karl Rove's evil plan coming to fruition at last!

Okay, it's actually re-enactors at the Toms Mansion on Kingston Pike. Or so they would have us believe. . . .


WORDS TO CHILL THE BRAVEST HEART: "Your Lifelong Enemy, James F. Treacher."

MICHAEL TOTTEN on studying war some more.

Meanwhile, Asparagirl says that's not all some people should be studying.

FOR REASONS THAT ESCAPE ME, the folks at The Corner don't like Home Depot. But Phil Carter notes that it's been named the most military-friendly employer in America. He's got the full top 25 list. As Phil says: "Keep up the good work: — America's reservists and veterans deserve this kind of support." Indeed.

MORE THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT: Ninjas. Fortunately, Frank J. has the scoop with his "Ninja FAQ" page.

ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS about being a professor is seeing your former students praised for their accomplishments.

FAMILY DYNAMICS IN THE INCREDIBLES: Plus a roundup of reviews, over at BlogCritics.

WOOHOO: Stopped at the car wash and opened the laptop to work on a column while I waited. To my surprise, they've got free wireless internet now. I love that.

UPDATE: Where is it? It's the Simoniz car wash (formerly The Clean Machine) at the corner of Northshore and Kingston Pike. For non-Knoxvillians who may find this while searching the Web for free wi-fi in Knoxville, that's close to the Papermill Drive exit from I-40.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Tim Cavanaugh is skeptical of municipally operated wifi networks. I'm all for open wifi in libraries, etc., but I agree that trying for ubiquitous wifi as a city project is probably silly, especially when you can already get free wifi at car washes and fast food places. Not to mention breweries and pizza joints.

TIM BLAIR: "Surreal? It's perfect!"

PERRY DEHAVILLAND EXPLAINS why he is not a conservative. My related thoughts can be found here.

ANDREA SEE is offering bargain ad rates at her Xiamen-based webzine.

JONAH GOLDBERG has a post on TV and abortion that raises some interesting issues. I agree with the part about how hypocritical the TV shows are -- the characters always agonize about abortion, but always decide not to have one -- but that's not the part that really caught my interest:

I don't mean to say that such pretend anguish doesn't capture a certain reality, and a very sad one. But at the end of the day -- or often at the end of sweeps week -- the woman always says "it's my choice, I'm keeping the baby." Or, they'll have a scene where the woman gets a sonogram and she realizes she loves the baby and again she'll say "it's my choice. I'm having this baby."

And, the moment the women decide to have the baby, the fetus is automatically discussed as if it were a complete person worth talking to, reading to, singing to etc. The implication here, of course, is that if Rachel or whoever had simply chosen not to have the baby, that choice and that choice alone would have been enough of an abracadabra to metaphysically transform the fetus into nothing more than a lump of cells or the inconvenient consequence of a one-night-stand not worth reading to at all.

I realize I'm not quite addressing Jonah's argument here, but it's not so shocking that a single decision like that might change, if not a person's moral status, at least the constellation of duties that someone has in regard to them. A classic example (and one that I've always meant to write a law review article about, but never gotten around to) has to do with abortion and the duty to rescue.

At common law -- and still, pretty much, the law generally -- there's no duty to rescue. The classic example, in fact, involves a man walking down the sidewalk and observing a baby drowning in a half-inch of water. Even if the man could rescue the baby with no risk and minimal inconvenience to himself, he's under no duty to take any action at all, and can simply keep walking without facing any penalty beyond moral condemnation.

But if he decides to help, and takes action, then he becomes obligated to follow through and must exert all reasonable effort (short of risking death or serious bodily harm; inconvenience doesn't generally count) to save the baby's life and leave it in a position of reasonable safety. The analogy should be obvious here.

Now I've thought of this argument in a different context, as an explanation for why you could both support abortion rights (as, of course, I do) and also support holding pregnant women liable for engaging in behavior -- like drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. -- that might endanger the fetus. But I think it provides at least a partial answer to Jonah's question.

UPDATE: Reader Luke White emails:

A great post on abortion and duty to rescue, thanks! One question to throw on to the pile, though: If you follow this line of reasoning through, wouldn't it result in a legal situation in which a woman would be obligated to abort if she'd engaged in behavior that had put her child at significant risk for birth defects?

An example: Alcohol does most of its structural damage during the first trimester of pregancy, during which time, of course, it's still legal to abort for most any reason. If you apply the duty-to-rescue doctrine, don't you run into a situation in which the mother could be held liable for carrying the baby, defects and all, to term, while suffering no liability if she simply chooses a first-trimester abortion?

From a med student/pro-life position, this seems problematic to me, in that you'd be punishing the woman who brings viable life to term while the woman who engages in the same behavior and doesn't bring the child to term suffers no consequences. This would seem to be a major incentive to abort.

Of course, if one doesn't accept that a first-trimester fetus is a fully rights-endowed human, you could maybe make the case that the dereliction is in allowing the fetus to get to that status at birth with the avoidable problems drinking and the like present. But then it seems as if you could extend that censure to any woman who knowingly carries a baby with defects (eg Down's Syndrome) to term, leading to forced abortions couched in a duty-to-rescue defense: They knew, so why did they allow the child to be born with such a disadvantage? many pro-abortion/population control advocates might ask.

Anyway, thanks again for the post! It's a unique angle, and I hope you write that article!

Hmm. Interesting questions, which I hadn't thought of in quite that fashion -- my thinking was "decide not to have the abortion, and assume the duty to avoid dangerous behavior." But I suppose this is the flipside of that. (This is the difference between a blog post and a law review article). I don't know if I'll ever get to writing this piece, despite the kind encouragement, though, as my scholarly rangetop extends about ten miles back, it has so many back burners. (I think I'll get to "Law as an Agoric Open System" -- which I actually did some research and outlining on, first, and I don't know that I'll ever get to that one behind all the pieces I'm committed to write as it is).

Meanwhile several readers sent variations on this theme, from Wayne Wren: "If you put 'someone ( a fetus)' in peril, i.e., have unprotected sex, do you have an obligation to rescue?" I don't think this works, as there's no one in existence when you have sex, unless you believe that life begins before conception, which I think is a nonstarter even for pro-lifers. A more sophisticated version of this argument would say that (1) A standard exception to "no duty to rescue" is when there's a special relationship creating such a duty, and (2) a pregnant woman has such a duty to a fetus, which she assumes by having sex. That seems a bit of a question-begging move, though. It is perhaps less so if you distinguish (as Wren does) between sex and "unprotected sex."

It is the case, of course, that men are often held to assume a duty of support (for a longer period, if not in such an intimate fashion) simply by having sex, even when such sex is not "unprotected." (And sometimes men are held to assume such a duty even when the child in question isn't theirs at all.) This is a stress-line in abortion doctrine and family law that has gotten more attention in recent years, but not enough. (I had an idea for another article on this topic, entitled "Ejaculation as an Ultra-Hazardous Activity" -- but that one, too, is probably best left unwritten.)

A CAMPAIGN TO IMPEACH LEWIS LAPHAM? The good news is, Lapham can tell us how it turns out before it even gets started. . . .

A VERY NICE GALLERY OF PHOTOS FROM INDIA: Taken by Maciej Dakowicz with a Canon Digital Rebel.

Meanwhile, in response to my earlier post, reader Lawrence Kaplan emails: "I'm putting together a wish list that starts with the Nikon D70 a 28 to 200 zoom and a good flash unit. What do you use and/or what would you recommend as the best choice for a flash?"

Unfortunately, I can't help from firsthand experience (I buy the stuff I write about -- manufacturers unaccountably don't send me freebies). I'm still using my ancient Vivitar 283 when I use a flash at all, which is seldom as I prefer natural light. But reader P.J. Swenson, who sent the link to the India photos above, also sent a link to this review of the Nikon SB-600 flash, which is cheaper than the SB-800 and, according to the review, probably better in many ways. I can't comment from firsthand experience, though.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

I have been using a Cannon S110 (2.1MP) for the last three, almost four years. It takes great photos and the small size makes it so easy to carry, that I've almost completely given up using my 35mm SLR(Minolta XG-1) that has been my trusty companion since 1982.

Just last month, I upgraded to a Cannon S500 (5MP). I have been too busy to get out and use it lately, but will as soon as time permits.

Anyway, please keep the links to digital photography and photos going on the weekends. It's a refreshing break, kind of like Friday cat blogging.

That's kind of my feeling. It can't all be war and politics. And the small-camera point is a good one. The camera that you carry with you is always better than the one that's in a drawer at home! Meanwhile, reader Rick Lee disagrees with one aspect of the review I link above:

I use the SB-80DX which predates the 800/600 flashes.

The reviewer dismisses the built-in white card and the inclusion of the dome diffuser... it's true you can get replacements, but I fear that many buyers won't get around to it. As a professional, I take MOST of my (on-camera) flash pictures using either the dome (mostly) or the white card with bounce. The difference in the lighting quality from using the dome vs straight flash is HUGE and one shouldn't ignore that. Bouncing from a ceiling while using a white index card rubber banded to the flash gives a very similar look but is, of course, a little messy.

I don't do a lot of "on-camera-flash" type shooting. Mostly I'm setting up elaborate lighting setups... but I do a little bit of "event-coverage" stuff which requires on-camera flash and I prefer that it doesn't LOOK like on-camera flash.

I don't like flash either. And I don't like flash that's right above the lens, because the flat, shadowless lighting it produces looks lifeless and dead to me.

AS USUAL WITH HIS BLOGOSPHERIC EFFORTS, JAMES WOLCOTT IS A DAY LATE AND A DOLLAR SHORT, having been reduced to recycling ancient bogus claims of t-shirt racism. It's a sad but accurate reflection of the state of the East Coast literary establishment, when its members are reduced to making troll-posts on the Internet in a desperate bid for attention.

I wonder what Wolcott would say about this t-shirt? But if there's one thing I've learned in the blogosphere, it's that you can't please everybody. And some people you don't want to please at all.

UPDATE: From the trackbacks on Wolcott's post, I see that some people are giving him a hard time. Far be it from me to say he doesn't deserve it, but I think his extra-pungent bitterness these days comes from self-reproach over having single-handedly delivered Florida to the Bush campaign. . . .

"IMAGINE JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER FRONTING A PUNK BAND:" Hmm. Malcolm Forbes, easily. John D.? Well, maybe, though I see him as more of a rapper. . . .

CREEPING PROHIBITIONISM: This cartoon is sadly apt.

I'M A BIG FAN OF DAVID HACKETT FISCHER'S ALBION'S SEED: Now he's got a new book out, Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas. I haven't read it yet, but there's a post about it over at ChicagoBoyz. Meanwhile, here's a post I wrote on his last book, Washington's Crossing.

IT'S NOT QUITE A FISKING, but Ann Althouse offers an extensive critique of Jeff Rosen's article on the Supreme Court that I linked yesterday.