August 06, 2005

WOLF BLITZER is slammed for military cluelessness. You know, we've been at war for almost four years. By now there's really no excuse for that sort of thing.

THE ECONOMIST has an interesting article on the politics and culture of videogames:

Ironically, the “Grand Theft Auto” episode has re-ignited the debate over the impact of video games, just as the industry is preparing to launch its biggest-ever marketing blitz to accompany the introduction of its new consoles. Amid all the arguments about the minutiae of rating systems, the unlocking of hidden content, and the stealing of children's innocence, however, three important factors are generally overlooked: that attitudes to gaming are marked by a generational divide; that there is no convincing evidence that games make people violent; and that games have great potential in education. . . .

Like rock and roll in the 1950s, games have been accepted by the young and largely rejected by the old. Once the young are old, and the old are dead, games will be regarded as just another medium and the debate will have moved on. Critics of gaming do not just have the facts against them; they have history against them, too. “Thirty years from now, we'll be arguing about holograms, or something,” says Mr Williams.

Indeed. (Via Martin Lindeskog, who also observes that Hillary Clinton is not a gamer). Some prior thoughts of mine on this subject can be found here and here. Also here.

IN THE WAKE OF THE LONDON BOMBINGS, we've heard -- rightly -- that Muslims need to be less tolerant of terrorist sympathies within their own communities. But implicit in that is the notion that authorities will act when someone tells them about threats, and that hasn't always been the case in the past:

A leader at a mosque visited by one of the London July 21 bombing suspects says he warned police that Hamdi Issac was dangerous more than two years ago.

An elder at the Stockwell Mosque in south west London says he wrote to a senior police officer urging him to help deal with a group of young people who had been "harassing" and intimidating the moderate Muslims.

Toaha Qureshi, one of the mosque's Trustees, told CNN that Issac -- the alleged Shepherds Bush attempted bomber currently fighting extradition from Italy -- was a prominent member of the group.

Qureshi told CNN that mosque officers had made it clear they regarded 27-year-old Issac as a threat and a destabilizing force.

Presumably such complaints will get more attention now. (Via Ed Morrissey).

SISSY WILLIS has a lengthy post on Darwin and 'Intelligent Design.'

LT SMASH and submariner-blogs Ultraquiet No More and Bubblehead are covering the Russian submarine rescue. And so is Gateway Pundit. All have lots of pics, links, and interesting information.


ARE WE MORE DEPENDENT ON SAUDI ARABIA for oil? These charts suggest not as much as this story from the New York Times indicates.

UPDATE: More thoughts from Jonathan Gewirtz.

KAMAL ABOUKHATER has made a film called Blowing Smoke, and you can now order the DVD via the Blowing Smoke blog. Cool.

KNOXVILLE WANTS TO INSTALL RED-LIGHT CAMERAS, but it's decided to keep the details of the contract secret:

City administration officials released a revised policy Friday for withholding information related to the selection of a company to install and operate cameras to catch red-light-running drivers. A city evaluation committee has selected Reflex Traffic Systems for exclusive negotiations, and the Knoxville Police Department expects to present a contract for City Council members' consideration at their Aug. 16 meeting.

Hmm. I'm suspicious. Is this one of those deals where the cameras are operated by the contractor, and the contractor gets a cut of ticket proceeds? That provides an incentive to cheat, as has happened elsewhere. (Via Michael Silence).

UPDATE: Reader Allen Cogbill emails:

As you likely know, there is a distinct incentive to cheat, both for the company operating the system and the city, the latter due to "revenue enhancement". Often in such situations, the orange-light period is shortened, increasing the likelihood that someone will run the red light. This is particularly bad, as it is fairly well-known that longer orange-light intervals (up to a point, of course) decrease accidents.

Yes, and that's happened in quite a few places. This is all about revenues, of course, and not about safety.

ELIOT SPITZER is investigating Air America donor the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club over the dubious-loan scandal. (Via Michelle Malkin, who unlike me has been on this story for a while).

TERRY HEATON notes that blogs are not mass media. No, they're not. And they won't be, except perhaps in a collective sense.

Meanwhile, Jay Fitzgerald notes some convergence, and here are some thoughts on how bloggers build traffic.

And Froggy Ruminations is, er, ruminating on what it all means -- though for the really vital questions you have to go to Doug Berman!

I MEANT TO MENTION THIS BEFORE, but Eric S. Raymond is blogging again.

ARE BIG MEDIA pushing back against the blogosphere?

U.S. SPEAKS OUT, as Azerbaijan cracks down on pro-democracy activists.


It’s rich that the former head of the United Nations Oil-for-Food program, Benon Sevan, is now protesting the secrecy surrounding U.N. records that he himself set up as confidential. . . .

But it would have worked out far better for the U.N., and the rest of us, had Sevan achieved this appreciation of transparency and access back in the years when he was running Oil-for-Food, from 1997-2003. Today, Sevan remains on the U.N. payroll as a $1-per-year “adviser,” retained by the secretary-general with no apparent duties but to “assist” in the U.N.-authorized Oil-for-Food inquiry — which Lewis, Sevan’s lawyer, is now denouncing on Sevan’s behalf as a cover-up in search of “cartoon villains, not the truth.”

It would be more helpful still, were Sevan’s boss, Kofi Annan, to conceive even at this late date a similar urge for open and honest U.N. dealings and public access to U.N. records. Such priorities have so far eluded the secretary-general, perhaps because — as Sevan’s lawyer correctly points out — the Volcker inquiry has applied a double standard. Sevan aside, the committee’s findings have imposed spit-shine discipline on a few obscure U.N. officials, while dismissing as merely “inadequate” Annan’s failure to inquire competently into conflicts of interest involving six-figure payments to his own son — and excusing Annan’s growing list of memory lapses along the way.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Austin Bay has more thoughts on the unfolding UNSCAM scandal.

August 05, 2005

GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS about avian flu.

JOE GANDELMAN writes that Robert Novak is now damaged goods.

I was never a fan, myself.

AUSTIN BAY offers advice to soldiers deploying to Iraq, based on his own experience there.

VIRGINIA POSTREL will be on Penn & Teller's show-with-the-name-you-can't-say-on-CNN tonight at 10 Eastern, on Showtime, where the name is permitted.

GATEWAY PUNDIT has a roundup on the stranded Russian mini-sub in the Pacific. The Russians have asked for U.S. help.

ANKLE-BITING PUNDITS says that AP is presenting a bogus poll.

UPDATE: More on the poll from The New Editor.

My sense is that polls this far from an election aren't worth much. And polls close to an election . . . aren't worth much either, judging from recent experience!

STEPHEN PRESSER AND RICHARD EPSTEIN are debating the Supreme Court over at Point of Law.


STRATEGYPAGE: How Europe encourages Islamic terrorism.

HERE'S A LINK to Ray Kurzweil's appearance on Charlie Rose.

(Via FightAging.)

ROGER ABRAMSON HAS A COVER STORY in The Nashville Scene: "Why prosecuting victimless crimes is a colossal waste of time."

A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN WONDERING whether Valerie Plame was mentioned in Joe Wilson's Who's Who entry. Kevin Aylward took the unprecedented step of actually looking it up (okay, actually he had a librarian do it for him) and reports: "via Who's Who, the name 'Valerie Plame' has been associated publicly with Joe Wilson since the Clinton era."

UPDATE: What's the meaning of this? I dunno. It's not consistent with the idea of Valerie Plame being deep cover. On the other hand, it may make Novak's position worse, since he didn't use her name but identified her as an agency operative, with the Who's Who making it easy for people to connect the dots. But, of course, that only matters if she was under cover to begin with. That's why I leave this stuff to Tom Maguire.


ANDREW MARCUS has released a couple of clips from his forthcoming blog documentary. I'm a bit embarrassed by one of them, but you can see them here.


Scientists looking for easier and less-controversial alternatives to stem cells from human embryos said on Friday they found a potential source in placentas saved during childbirth. . . .

It is not yet certain that the cells they found are true stem cells, said Stephen Strom, who worked on the study. But they carry two important genes, called Oct 4 and nanog, which so far have only been seen on embryonic stem cells.

"We were just blown away when we found those two genes expressed in those cells," Strom said in a telephone interview.

I hope it works out, but the state of scientific knowledge is still rather limited. Stay tuned.


NANOTECHNOLOGY ROUNDUP: Lots of people want to know more about nanotechnology. The Foresight Institute website (here) is a good place to start. There's also a lot of good stuff at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology's blog. There's also a short, non-technical explanation of the technology, and some of its implications, here, in an article I wrote for the Environmental Law Reporter a while back.

Eric Drexler's seminal book, Engines of Creation : The Coming Era of Nanotechnology, is still a must-read for people wanting to learn about the subject. A (much) more technical treatment can be found here, and a less-technical treatment can be found here.

I haven't read Glenn Fishbine's The Investor's Guide to Nanotechnology and Micromachines, but it gets good reviews. And I recently reviewed J. Storrs Hall's Nanofuture: What's Next For Nanotechnology, which makes a nice introduction for laypeople.

MORE RIOTS IN IRAN: I'm skeptical of the official claim that "anarchists" are behind them.


Investigators have concluded that the former chief of the Iraq oil-for-food program, Benon Sevan, took kickbacks of at least $160,000 under the humanitarian operation and refused to cooperate with their probe, his lawyer said yesterday.

While the amount of money is small compared to the size of the program Sevan oversaw — one of the largest humanitarian operations in history — the findings would be a major blow because of his stature in the organization and the control he had over it.

Indeed. (Via Newsbeat1).

UPDATE: Some financial perspective here.

LOTS OF WAR NEWS at The Dawn Patrol, a regular feature of The Mudville Gazette.

NORM GERAS interviews Daniel Drezner.


Imagine a cancer drug that can burrow into a tumor, seal the exits and detonate a lethal dose of anti-cancer toxins, all while leaving healthy cells unscathed.

MIT researchers have designed a nanoparticle to do just that.

The dual-chamber, double-acting, drug-packing "nanocell" proved effective and safe, with prolonged survival, against two distinct forms of cancers-melanoma and Lewis lung cancer-in mice.

The work will be reported in the July 28 issue of Nature, with an accompanying commentary. . . .

The team loaded the outer membrane of the nanocell with an anti-angiogenic drug and the inner balloon with chemotherapy agents. A "stealth" surface chemistry allows the nanocells to evade the immune system, while their size (200 nanometers) makes them preferentially taken into the tumor. They are small enough to pass through tumor vessels, but too large for the pores of normal vessels.

Once the nanocell is inside the tumor, its outer membrane disintegrates, rapidly deploying the anti-angiogenic drug. The blood vessels feeding the tumor then collapse, trapping the loaded nanoparticle in the tumor, where it slowly releases the chemotherapy.

The team tested this model in mice. The double-loaded nanocell shrank the tumor, stopped angiogenesis and avoided systemic toxicity much better than other treatment and delivery variations.

Faster, please. (Via NanoDot).

A WHILE BACK, RACKSPACE TURNED OVER INDYMEDIA SERVERS to the FBI. Now Declan McCullagh reports that this was because RackSpace didn't know what it was doing, not because the FBI asked for the servers:

In October 2004, a federal prosecutor sent a subpoena to Rackspace Managed Hosting of San Antonio, Texas, as part of an investigation underway in Italy into an attempted murder. Under a mutual legal assistance treaty, the U.S. government is required to help other nations secure evidence in certain criminal cases.

The newly disclosed subpoena, which has been partially redacted, asks only for specific "log files."

But Rackspace turned over the entire hard drive at the time, taking the server offline and effectively pulling the plug on more than 20 Independent Media Center Web sites for about a week.

Rackspace claimed at the time that the subpoena required the company to turn over the customer's "hardware."

Now that the documents have been unsealed by a federal judge in Texas, though, Rackspace is backpedalling.

If I were a Rackspace customer, I'd want some sort of assurance that they wouldn't make this kind of mistake again. (Via SlashDot, many of whose commenters seem to be oblivious to the fact that the subpoena originated with the Italian government, not John Ashkkkroft).


LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday announced new deportation measures against those who foster hatred and advocate violence, as his government tries to counter Islamic extremists in Britain.

Blair said the government would draw up a list of extremist Web sites, book shops and organizations and said that involvement with them could be a trigger to deport foreign nationals.

Nice touch, announcing that right after Zawahiri's message.

August 04, 2005

SILICON INSIDER: Moore's Law hits the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Interesting comment from Mick Stockinger:

But the number of blogs doesn't tell the whole story--posting volume also doubles at fantastic rates--every seven months. There are now 10.8 posts a second for the overall blogosphere.


BRIAN MALONEY: "Was a veteran CBS radio reporter sacked after complaining about her spiked terrorism reporting?"

I HAVEN'T READ THIS REPORT FROM BROOKINGS ON IRAQ yet -- too busy writing to read! -- but a quick scroll through the charts and graphs suggests that there's a lot we're not hearing from media accounts.

UPDATE: Pierce Wetter has, and has posts here, here, and here.


DANIEL ORTEGA AND OTHER SANDINISTAS to be charged with war crimes.

I guess the folks who still idolize them need to wake up and smell the coffee.

UPDATE: Maybe even this coffee!

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE WRITES: "I find the NY Times' reported effort to dig into the adoption records of SCOTUS nominee John Roberts' children totally despicable."

My favorite take, though, is James Taranto's: "And it's very important to investigate every aspect of a prospective Supreme Court justice's life. After all, he may threaten the right to privacy!"

WHO KILLED STEVEN VINCENT? The Mudville Gazette has a roundup.

BOB NOVAK WALKS OFF THE SET: Crooks & Liars has the video.

So does Ian Schwartz.

UPDATE: Kaus thinks he knows why Novak left.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Nick Gillespie doesn't really care:

CNN has suspended Novak indefinitely. Which is no way to treat the guy who just delivered the only interesting bit of video on that flagging network since Jon Stewart called Tucker Carlson a dick on the now-cancelled Crossfire. And before that, it was what, Peter Arnett touring Iraqi baby milk factories?


GARY FARBER notes a very cool NASA video.


The great thing about the blogosphere (and its close cousin the onlinemagazineosphere) is the variety of voices, and if one blogger is busy or feeling a little burned out or just doesn't have anything he or she feels driven to dig into and write about, there are always other bloggers busy blogging away.


PUBLIUS REPORTS that the Andean Free Trade Agreement is progressing nicely in the wake of CAFTA's passage.

BILL QUICK's co-blogger Lastango is unhappy with the war effort, which he regards as insufficiently vigorous: "Unless the pillars of the Republican party shake, unless conservative desertion threatens the GOP with ruin at the coffers and the polls, unless the president and his close team fear disgrace, there will be no War On Terror."

On the other hand, here's a claim that Bush is trying too hard. Well, sort of.

UPDATE: Eric Scheie has further thoughts.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The public seems uncertain.

STILL MORE KELO BLOWBACK. It's a report on the effort to condemn Justice Souter's house and build a hotel.

BRENDAN O'NEILL writes that Al Zawahiri is a rip-off artist. "He 's only doing what al-Qaeda bosses have consistently done since 9/11: taking the West's own fear and loathing and throwing it back at us in a supposedly scary, finger-wagging statement to camera."

UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein has further thoughts on Zawahiri's rhetoric.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Similar thoughts from the wonderfully-named Drink-soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War.

BLOGS OF WAR: John Hockenberry has an excellent article on milbloggers in the latest Wired. It's now available online.

PALMEIRO'S STEROID USE: It's all Bill Clinton's fault!

Put me down as unpersuaded.

MORE KELO BACKLASH, this time in Alabama:

Alabama yesterday became the first state to enact new protections against local-government seizure of property allowed under a Supreme Court ruling that has triggered an explosive grass-roots counteroffensive across the country. . . .

The backlash against the judicial ruling has not received much attention in the national press, although legislative leaders in more than two dozen states have proposed statutes and/or state constitutional amendments to restrict local governments' eminent-domain powers.

Besides Alabama, legislation to ban or restrict the use of eminent domain for private development has been introduced in 16 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas.

Legislators have announced plans to introduce eminent-domain bills in seven more states: Alaska, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, South Carolina and Wisconsin, and lawmakers in Colorado, Georgia and Virginia plan to act on previously introduced bills.

In addition, public support is being sought for state constitutional prohibitions in several states -- Alabama, California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas.

I guess my prediction ("I suspect that this decision -- somewhat like Bowers -- will cause a lot of activists to shift their focus to state legislatures and state courts") has been borne out. (More on that here.)

IRAQ SENDS A FEMALE AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT: And here's something else I had missed -- the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq has weighed in in favor of women's rights in the new Iraqi constitution: "On Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad urged the framers to protect women's rights as a 'fundamental requirement for Iraq's progress.'"

JOHN KERRY is seriously unpopular, according to the latest poll data. Brendan Nyhan has thoughts on what that means.

CLIVE DAVIS: "At some point in the next few days, I suppose, someone in the moral equivalence industry will try to argue that the dropping of the atomic bomb was an act of terrorism."

Max Boot: "It is hard to imagine how many more GIs and Tommies would have perished in 1944-45 had Anglo-American leaders flinched from using all the means at their disposal to hasten the end of the war. Indeed, if the U.S. had staged a blood-drenched invasion of Japan while holding back its atomic arsenal, President Truman would have been indicted for that decision too."

PUSHBACK: A few years ago we saw a raft of anti-technology stuff -- Bill Joy's article in Wired, Frank Fukuyama's anti-posthumanist screed, various pronouncements by Jeremy Rifkin, Leon Kass and Daniel Callahan, etc.

I notice now that we're seeing more from the other side. You've got Ramez Naam's More Than Human : Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, Ron Bailey's Liberation Biology, Gregory Stock's Redesigning Humans: Our Inevitable Genetic Future, Joel Garreau's Radical Evolution : The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- and What It Means to Be Human,and, of course, Ray Kurzweil's forthcoming book, perhaps the most ambitious of the lot.

This confluence -- together with poll data and other recent indicators -- suggests to me that Joan Vennochi is giving the Democrats good advice on stem cells:

Democrats should also do with stem cell research what Republicans did with gay marriage: present the issue for a vote on every possible state ballot. Republican Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader from Tennessee, just demonstrated the power of the issue. Frist's surprise endorsement of a bill that would approve federal funds for new lines of stem cells enraged the right. But Frist knows the political center supports it, and the political center is where a presidential contender wants to be. In stem cell research, Democrats, for once, have an issue that fires up their base and cuts to the center, across diverse demographic groups.

I think that's right. This is an issue where the GOP is tied to its base, and where swing voters go the other way. Interestingly, there's plenty of opportunity for the GOP to weaken this assault by supporting other kinds of life-extending and life-improving research -- into aging, for example -- to blunt efforts to tar it as the party of Luddites and fundamentalists. Will they be smart enough to do that?

UPDATE: Reader Randolph Resor emails regarding Liberation Biology:

I'll probably end up reading the book, but I wanted to mention a PBS special of a few months ago called "Harvest of Fear". It dealt with genetically modified plants, and considering the ominous-sounding music, appeared to be an attempt to raise questions about GMOs. However, the pro-GMO folks came off as intelligent, literate, and genuinely interested in helping people, while the opponents looked like a bunch of crazies.

Most impressive was a black South African botanist, a woman, discussing genetically modified sweet potatoes. When asked about opposition to GMOs, she said, "These people have never been hungry in their lives. Who do they think they are, telling me I can't help my people feed themselves?"

Indeed. The opponents of scientific progress on both the left and the right seek to clothe themselves in moral superiority, but it's pretty much a sham.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In response to a couple of reader emails, I should note that the "opponents of scientific progress" that I'm referring to are the Kass/Fukuyama/Rifkin sort mentioned at the top -- not necessarily opponents of embryonic stem cell research, whom I regard as wrong, but not necessarily Luddite or immoral.

Meanwhile Phil Bowermaster has some further thoughts on pushback:

One could make the case that this is cyclical -- that there's a Kurzweil for every Fukuyama, but that there will be a Leon Kass for every Kurzweil and then a Ron Bailey for every Leon Kass and on and on it goes. But I doubt it. I think something else may be at work here.

Maybe in spite of all the hype and scare stories and just plain bad information, the idea is getting through that we really can expect technology, in the coming years, to make unprecedented changes in what human life is and can be. . . .

So why the switch from Fukayama to Kurzweil? Well, as Stephen points out, some of these major, world-shattering changes promise to show up right on schedule. We may look for direction from someone like Joel Garreau, who can discuss both the pros and cons of inevitable change. But a Kass or a Fukayama...arguing against change istelf?

Sorry, we just don't have time for that any more.

Read the whole thing.

MORE: Brendan Nyhan thinks that state initiatives are a bad idea on policy grounds, regardless of their political uses.


MICHAEL YON offers combat-photoblogging from Mosul. As always, it's a must-read.

I DEFEND THE PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY from some rather half-baked criticism, over at

MAN BITES DOG: Brian Micklethwait notes a Hollywood actress talking sense about poverty.


States across the country are rushing to pass laws to counter the potential impact of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that allows state and local governments to seize homes for private development. . . .

The issue has spawned an unusual alliance among conservatives opposed to the principle of government seizing private property and liberals worried that poor people would be the most likely victims.

I'm glad to hear it.

BEYOND BORDERS is a new blog about immigration from Southern California.

ROBERT KC JOHNSON has thoughts on academic freedom.

August 03, 2005

IS ANN COULTER faking it?

THOUGHTS ON TERRORISM AND BIRD FLU: Here, and here. I, of course, worry about both.

The good news is that in many ways, preparations for the two overlap. In particular, developing technologies to produce vaccines and antiviral drugs much more rapidly and effectively would drastically reduce the dangers from both.

RON BAILEY THINKS that bio-conservatives may be mellowing.

JOHN BOLTON'S FIRST DAY ON THE JOB, as reported by James Lileks.

MICHAEL BARONE has a blog! And, unsurprisingly, it's good.

"WHY NOT TRY FOR THE POPULARITY CONTEST?" I never knew that Moore could be so funny. Or give such good advice.


I'm anxiously awaiting Linda Foley's statement condemning the "number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature" of the insurgents toward the killing of journalists in Iraq.

Aren't we all.

UPDATE: Some ways to honor Steven Vincent, here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this moving post at The Mudville Gazette.

I FINISHED RON BAILEY'S BOOK the other day, and he's certainly hard on the anti-GMO folks:

Why would leaders of these African nations risk starving millions of their citizens over fear of food that 290 million Americans have been eating safely since 1996? Because antibiotech activists such as [Vandana] Shiva and nongovernmental activist groups such as Greenpeace have been misleading the public about the alleged dangers of genetically improved crop varieties. . . .

Scientists trying to help the world's poor are appalled by the apparent willingness of biotechnology opponents to sacrifice people for their cause. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in February 2000, Ismail Serageldin, then director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research posed a challenge: "I ask opponents of biotechnology, do you want two to three million children a year to go blind and one million to die of Vitamin A deficiency, just because you object to the way golden rice was created?"

The answer, basically, is "yes."

PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW what I think about the Hackett / Schmidt election in Ohio. Not much (though this was amusing). Pundits and press always try to turn these by-elections into big leading indicators of the next election, but they're usually one-offs of no enduring significance. I think this was one of those. And no, my "silence" didn't mean that I was covering things up, or in denial (about what?) or, well, anything except that I didn't have much to say.

As Bob Somerby said to one of his critics: " A column doesn't become 'disingenuous' if it doesn't address 'the main issue' for you." Or a blog. Jeez.

UPDATE: Jason van Steenwyk, on the other hand, has an opinion or two.

ANOTHER UPDATE: So does the now-blogging Michael Barone, whose opinions on this sort of thing are worth a lot more than mine. He agrees that partisan swings in by-elections don't mean much, but he does suggest bad news for the Republicans nonetheless:

The reason is that in the present state of polarization of politics, turnout is the key to winning elections. Turnout in 2004 was up 16 percent over 2000—a historic rise. John Kerry got 16 percent more votes than Al Gore, but George W. Bush got 23 percent more votes in 2004 than he did in 2000. That's why the Republican percentage for president rose from 48 to 51 and the Democratic percentage dropped slightly.

The results in the Ohio 2nd go the other way. According to the latest results I have before me, 112,375 people voted in the special election. That's just 34 percent of the 331,104 who voted in the district in 2004. Republican Jean Schmidt's vote total was only 27 percent of Bush's. Democrat Paul Hackett's vote total was 46 percent of Kerry's. Democrats did a better job of turning out their vote. . . .

In this week's election, Democrats apparently were able to motivate their Bush-hating core to go to the polls. Republicans, who demonstrated such prowess at turning out their voters in November 2004, did not do nearly as well in motivating their base. Turnout will be much higher in November 2006. But this result will give heart to the Democrats who argue that all they need to do is to turn out Bush-haters. And it should give pause to Republicans and raise the question as to whether the Republican base—much larger in this district than the Democratic base—will turn out in record numbers in November 2006 as it did in November 2004.

Judging from what I read in a lot of blogs, I think that Bush's fair-weather federalism and general lack of enthusiasm for small government means that a lot of the base is less motivated. And I can see why.

BAD NEWS ON ADULT STEM CELLS: "Such cells are seen as the potential key to the treatment of certain muscle diseases. However, a study currently being conducted at Bonn's University Clinic has produced some sobering findings: although the cells are able to migrate into the muscle fibres, they do not generally take on any tissue-specific functions. This, according to the Bonn medical scientists, means the cells would not serve as a substitute for defective muscle cells."

There's still a lot of stem-cell science to do before people can claim that one approach or another is clearly the best. Which is why we should be doing the science.

HERE'S AN INTERESTING ARTICLE ON SCIENCE-BLOGGERS from The Scientist. Derek Lowe is the centerpiece, but the article has links to a lot of other science bloggers, quite a few of whom were new to me.

NORM GERAS has posts on terrorist "Apology and its Modes." Here's one and here's the other.

A MILITARY COUP IN MAURITANIA: Gateway Pundit has a roundup.

UPDATE: Publius: "There are significant challenges that are posed to the Bush Doctrine by this situation."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's a blog post with an eyewitness account.

ORIN KERR looks at a John Roberts memo and observes: "It's hard to read too much into this one memo, but to me it's consistent with the idea that Roberts is less a committed political conservative than a committed judicial conservative of the Harlan/Frankfurter school."

For lots more on Roberts, check out Patrick Ruffini's ScotusWire, "an automated clipping service for the first blogged Supreme Court nomination in history."


GREG DJEREJIAN has thoughts on Euro-Jihadism and the response thereto.

And read this, too:

Let us be clear. Non-Muslims have obligations to their Muslim fellow citizens - to strive for equal opportunities for all, to accept the mainstream version of Islam as a part of society, and to reject the vile racism of the BNP and its like. But Muslims in turn have obligations: not simply to condemn terror, as one Labour MP put it, but to confront it.

And read these comments on the above.

There seem to be signs of change in Europe.

IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR A BLOGGER TO DONATE TO, consider Venomous Kate, who seems to have had a rather ugly accident.

TOM FRIEDMAN introduces some thinking that sounds familiar and welcome:

Mr. Rasiej wants to see New York follow Philadelphia, which decided it wouldn't wait for private companies to provide connectivity to all. Instead, Philly made it a city-led project - like sewers and electricity. The whole city will be a "hot zone," where any resident anywhere with a computer, cellphone or P.D.A. will have cheap high-speed Wi-Fi access to the Internet.

Mr. Rasiej argues that we can't trust the telecom companies to make sure that everyone is connected because new technologies, like free Internet telephony, threaten their business models. "We can't trust the traditional politicians to be the engines of change for how people connect to their government and each other," he said. By the way, he added, "If New York City goes wireless, the whole country goes wireless."

Mr. Rasiej is also promoting civic photo-blogging - having people use their cellphones to take pictures of potholes or crime, and then, using Google maps, e-mailing the pictures and precise locations to City Hall. . . .

"One elected official by himself can't solve the problems of eight million people," Mr. Rasiej argued, "but eight million people networked together can solve one city's problems. They can spot and offer solutions better and faster than any bureaucrat. ... The party that stakes out this new frontier will be the majority party in the 21st century. And the Democrats better understand something - their base right now is the most disconnected from the network."

Indeed. I certainly agree.

I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO WORK UP MUCH INTEREST in the Air America scandals, leaving that topic to those, like Michelle Malkin and Hugh Hewitt, who can. But Austin Bay has this bit right: If this were a right-wing radio network the Big Media would be all over the story.

TOM MAGUIRE OFFERS lots of Plame leads for enterprising journalists.


ARE THE BAD REVIEWS FOR CURRENT TV FAIR? "Maybe the techy methodology needs some time to kick in and work properly, so it might be unfair to judge them the way we would an ordinary TV show, where great effort would be put into making the debut show very strong. But they made the decision to draw attention to themselves before they started and they got the publicity they sought. They could have started small and built up their reputation slowly, but they wheeled out Al Gore, so they asked for it."

Meanwhile, here's someone who's sticking up for F/X's Over There.

MICHAEL YOUNG gives a failing grade to Juan Cole.


IS SMALL THE NEW BIG? Sort of. My TechCentralStation column is up.

HERE'S THE LATEST INSTALLMENT in Noriko Takiguchi's series on how to eat sushi.

Thanks to the large Japanese population around here (thanks to Denso, Matsushita, etc.) we have a lot of good sushi places, which fly their fish in from Japan and Hawaii. I'm happy to say that you can get excellent ceviche, too. I'm not so happy to say that the Insta-Daughter likes Toro, which is rather expensive.


In the event of a flu pandemic or a bioterrorism attack, help could arrive via the U.S. mail or from the fire station down the street, Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said Tuesday.

Leavitt, in an hour-long interview with Associated Press reporters and editors, said it's clear that the system of delivering medicines in the United States is inadequate in the event of an emergency.

He said it was "in some ways an absolute certainty" that a flu pandemic would occur. "If it happens anywhere, there is risk everywhere," he said. . . .

Leavitt said the federal government was looking to stockpile 20 million doses of a bird flu vaccine and another 20 million doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication to treat the disease.

I find this -- and the thoughts about distribution -- encouraging. (Via Michael Silence).

UPDATE: Reader Eric McErlain emails:

On your item this morning -- the plans for the U.S. Post Office are more extensive than you might realize. About a year ago I was at a conference with an ex-NYC fire chief now working as a consultant with Giuliani's firm. Aparrently, in case of any national disaster, the only organization with both national reach and enough vehicles to reach virtually every citizen is the postal service, and they are being factored into all sorts of preparedness planning.


APPARENTLY, they're still smarting at The Guardian.

BLOGGER & JOURNALIST STEVEN VINCENT was murdered in Iraq. Tigerhawk has a roundup. More here. Vincent was the author of In The Red Zone: A Journey Into The Soul Of Iraq. Here's his blog, of the same name.

August 02, 2005


The blogosphere is continuing to grow, with a weblog created every second, according to blog trackers Technorati. In its latest State of the Blogosphere report, it said the number of blogs it was tracking now stood at more than 14.2m blogs, up from 7.8m in March.

It suggests, on average, the number of blogs is doubling every five months.


MICHAEL SILENCE would like some examples of hyperlocal blogging.


Nanotechnology has been harnessed to kill cancer cells without harming healthy tissue. The technique works by inserting microscopic synthetic rods called carbon nanotubules into cancer cells.

When the rods are exposed to near-infra red light from a laser they heat up, killing the cell, while cells without rods are left unscathed.

Details of the Stanford University work are published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This report (reg. req'd) has more background, but notes that the results are rather preliminary:

One of Dai's big challenges was to find a way to deliver the nanotubes to sick cells.

He knew that cancer cells have specific receptors. So his team coated the nanotubes with a certain kind of molecule, called folate, which latches onto folate receptors.

This strategy succeeded in delivering the folate-coated nanotubes inside cancer cells, bypassing the normal cells -- like Trojan horses crossing the enemy line.

The approach is now being moved into animal trials. Dai and Dean Felsher, a researcher in the Stanford School of Medicine, have begun a collaboration using mice with lymphoma. The researchers hope to learn if shining a light on the animal's skin will destroy lymphatic tumors, while leaving normal cells intact.

Let's hope it works in animal trials. But there's also this news:

A related approach is being attempted at Rice University in Houston. Jennifer West and her colleagues infused ``nanoshells'' into the bloodstreams of mice with cancer. The shells concentrated around the animals' tumors. Then the team exposed the animals to a special light, causing the shells to heat up and cook the tumors but leave surrounding tissues unharmed. The immune system then eliminates the shells.

Months later, the animals were still cancer-free.

(Via Nanodot).

UPDATE: This is cool, too: targeted drug delivery to different parts of the body using nanotubes.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oh, jeez, I've failed miserably in my duty to shill for the Foresight Institute. (Board members have that sort of a duty, right?) Anyway, here's some news:

Foresight Nanotech Institute, the original organization in the nanotechnology field, has appointed commercial space flight pioneer, Dr. Peter Diamandis, CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation and CEO of Zero Gravity Corporation; venture capitalist and media expert, Ed Niehaus, Partner at Cypress Ventures; and nanotechnology leader and executive, James Von Ehr II, Founder and CEO of Zyvex Corporation, to its Board of Directors. All three will begin their term immediately.

I've known all three of them for years (Peter Diamandis for over ten years) and I think they're a terrific addition to the Foresight Board, which is expanding along with Foresight itself.

HERE'S MORE on post-Garang developments in the Sudan.

INSTAWIFE UPDATE: The Insta-Wife saw her cardiologist today, and they did an EKG and downloaded the information from her ICD, which records its own EKG readings whenever her heart rhythms are funny. Turns out there wasn't much recorded, because her heart rhythms are much, much better. That didn't surprise me, because she's been feeling much better, too.

That's not because of the ICD. It will shock her heart out of a dangerous rhythm, or pace it out of one before shocking if it can, which is great, but that's only after things go wrong. It's because of the Tikosyn -- a powerful and hard-to-prescribe anti-arrhythmic -- which is dangerous enough in some people that you have to be hospitalized when you start it, but which has worked wonderfully for her, and without noticeable side effects after the first couple of weeks.

The drug has been a godsend for her, and I want to thank the folks at Pfizer for coming up with it. People are always bashing drug companies, but as I've written before, they do a lot more to improve people's lives than most of the critics have ever done, or ever will do.


An Air France passenger jet attempting to land at Toronto's Pearson International Airport overran a runway by 200 meters Tuesday, bursting into flames and sending smoke billowing into the sky.

"There are no known fatalities" among the 297 people and 12 crew members who were on board, an airport spokesman said. About 14 people suffered minor injuries, said Steve Shaw, chairman of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

As they say: It's a good idea to take a moment to look around the cabin and familiarize yourself with the location of the emergency exits nearest you.

UPDATE: All 309 Survive Plane Crash in Toronto.

TURNING TROLLS INTO A LUCRATIVE SOURCE OF REVENUE: Cathy Seipp is fining a commenter for idiocy.

PLAME UPDATE: Tom Maguire looks at the Judith Miller as source theory, and also notes gaps in the New York Times' coverage.

AUSTIN BAY looks at the seventh anniversary of the Kenyan and Tanzanian embassy bombings by Al Qaeda and bravely reprints his column from that week.

STEPHEN BAINBRIDGE: Bloggers just wanna have fun. Well, yeah.

EUGENE VOLOKH: "So what exactly is wrong with profanity?"

RON COLEMAN writes that the State Department shouldn't be backing ABC against the Russians. Read the whole thing.

WELL, HE DID PUT LEON KASS IN CHARGE OF BIOETHICS: Bush wants to teach Intelligent Design in schools. That's just pathetic.

It's not going over well in some places on the right, either. Rick Moran at Right-Wing Nuthouse writes:

Alright then, I’ve got a few more “ideas” that students should probably be exposed to as long as we’re talking about filling their heads with a bunch of nonsense like ID:.

1. The earth is actually a bowl sitting on the back of elephants. Hey! If its good enough for the Hindus, why not us?

2. The God Manitou took pity on a mother bear who had lost her cubs while swimming across Lake Michigan and turned the cubs into islands (the Manitou islands) and the mother into a sand dune (Sleeping Bear Sand Dune). The Ojibwa’s believe it…I did too until I was about 5 years old. . . .

6. Gerry Thomas, who recently passed away, invented the TV Dinner. Hell, the MSM believed it, why not teach it?

One can go on and on.

Who the devil cares if some people believe that “Intelligent Design” is the “correct” interpretation for the massive amount of fossil and anthropological evidence showing how human beings evolved? If it were up to you Mr. President and the right wing idiotarians who are pushing this “theory” humans would still believe that the earth was the center of the universe and that stars were fixed in the sky in a series of crystal spheres.

Ouch. And The Politburo observes: "Sheesh. Trying to prove the Dems right, one stupid f*cking statement at a time. Is Bush ‘playing to the base’ or does he believe it? I don’t know which is worse."

Of course, if Bush were more than a fair-weather federalist, his answer would be that the President shouldn't have anything to say about what's taught in schools anyway.

Hmm. Maybe he's trying to convince everyone of that? This just might do it . . . .

UPDATE: Don Surber is quoting Billy Carter.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Andrew Hazlett emails a link to the full transcript, which he says is a bit more -- dare I say it? -- nuanced. And it does begin this way:

Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts . . .

But more context doesn't necessarily help. Here's the full passage:

Q I wanted to ask you about the -- what seems to be a growing debate over evolution versus intelligent design. What are your personal views on that, and do you think both should be taught in public schools?

THE PRESIDENT: I think -- as I said, harking back to my days as my governor -- both you and Herman are doing a fine job of dragging me back to the past. (Laughter.) Then, I said that, first of all, that decision should be made to local school districts, but I felt like both sides ought to be properly taught.

Q Both sides should be properly taught?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, people -- so people can understand what the debate is about.

Q So the answer accepts the validity of intelligent design as an alternative to evolution?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought, and I'm not suggesting -- you're asking me whether or not people ought to be exposed to different ideas, and the answer is yes.

Now if I were a White House spinmeister I'd say this was just about teaching children the shape of the debate. But I feel sure that Bush wouldn't be satisfied by a curriculum that exposed the many fallacies of Intelligent Design (the biggest being that its proponents start with a particular Designer in mind and then try to marshal the evidence). And certainly the constituency that he's trying to satisfy wouldn't be.

Nor would various other hypotheses (e.g., that our universe is actually a computer model itself, being run by unknown others for unknown purposes) satisfy, I suspect, even though there's more evidence for them -- we see computer models every day -- than for creation by a deity.

As I said earlier, if only the Democrats weren't so lame . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Goldstein argues that Bush is being misunderstood:

I have no problem with Intelligent Design being taught alongside evolution in the context of questions concerning the origin of life—which, whether the President meant to do so or not, is in fact the context into which he placed the question. The origin of life—or first cause—is properly asked within the realm of philosophy or religious studies. And in that context, evolution is simply another theory (materialism) that competes with metaphysical theories that posit intent or active creation at some point in time (ID, Deism).

Personally, this CITIZEN JOURNALIST would have pressed the President on the question and asked him if he was indeed advocating the teaching of Intelligent Design in science classes specifically, and if so, how—and to what degree (in relation to microevolution? macro? how?). I would further follow-up and ask those on the right who have been so quick to howl over this vague news item if they support the teaching of the “origins of life” (which I take to be different than the evolution of life) in science classes. As it stands though—using my best Scalia-type textualism—what the president said is unproblematic and, on its face, at least, eminently reasonable.

Nicely argued, but I'm still not buying it.

MORE: John Cole: "I have no problem with a brief fifteen minute discussion of intelligent design as part of a religious/philosophy class, provided schools offer those courses. But I don;t think that is what Bush meant." Neither do I. He also notes, however, that Bush's position polls well -- even among Kerry voters.

MORE STILL: Cole did note that, but he was quoting this post.


DO I LOOK FAT? Discussed over at The tilapia, by the way, was excellent.

HEH. Great photo.

LANCE FRIZZELL has more photos of troops in Iraq. "I'm still looking for pictures of us guarding oil so I can send them to Congressman Ford."

HERE'S ANOTHER ROUNDUP on the BlogHer conference, from Denise Howell.

A BOMBING IN TEHRAN: Jim Hoft has the roundup, with video links.

AND I AM MARIE OF ROMANIA: The latest edition of The Cotillion is up!

IN THE MAIL: Rights In Exile: Janus-faced Humanitarianism, by Guglielmo Verdirame and Barbara Harrell-Bond. It's a pretty harsh critique of the international human rights establishment as it actually operates. Here's a bit:

This is a painful book. The central argument is that the international and humanitarian organizations that are in charge of looking after refugees are responsible for extensive and avoidable violations of the rights of those dependent upon them.

Of the estimated 12 million refugees in the world, more than 7 million have been confined to camps, effectively "warehoused," in some cases for 10 years or more. Holding refugees in camps was anathema to the founders of the refugee protection regime. Today, with most refugees encamped in the less developed part of the world, the humanitarian apparatus has been transformed into a custodial regime for innocent people. . . .

International organizations, NGOs, donors, and humanitarian agencies generally exercise great power over the lives of refugees. At the same time they are subjected to only minimal levels of accountability, either legal or political.

I suspect that this book will make something of a splash.

A LOADED TOWN-MEETING AUDIENCE: The BBC has admitted stuffing the studio audience of a program on terror with a wildly disproportionate number of Muslims.

Next: Loading the studio audience of a show on Israel with Jews! Right? . . . .

A PODCAST INTERVIEW with aging-research star Aubrey de Grey -- link and information here.

MARK TAPSCOTT WONDERS why Bill Keller's confession ("even sophisticated readers of The New York Times sometimes find it hard to distinguish between news coverage and commentary in our pages") hasn't gotten more attention.


ROGER SIMON IS UNIMPRESSED by reports that Iran isn't approaching nuclear capabilities.

RIOTS IN THE SUDAN after Garang's death. Trey Jackson has a roundup, with video.

IN THE COURSE OF AN INTERESTING POST ON IRAQ Greyhawk points out something else that I had missed:

On a side note - kudos to Newsweek for an innovation. Each of their on-line stories now includes technorati links to every blog that comments on that story - here's the link page for those writing on the above piece. The "front page" of the Newsweek site also includes a list of their "most-blogged about articles". Few blogs offer that much trackback so easily accessible - well done.

Cool. Newsweek (and, I suspect, Technorati's marketing department!) deserves praise for this. Now put a staffer in charge of reading those posts and making corrections when they turn up errors. . . .

And yes, another advantage to Newsweek is that this will encourage bloggers to link its stories, which will drive a significant amount of additional traffic to its site.

YET ANOTHER NEGATIVE REVIEW for FX's show Over There. "[A] smorgasbord of stupid, replete with every cliche and every simplistic and cartoonish characterization of the military imaginable. . . . While the combat inexplicably starts and stops to allow the characters to have time for idle banter, the pain from the crappy dialogue is never-ending. Then you have the real silliness that is bound to offend anyone who ever served in the military." Ouch.

UPDATE: Okay, okay, I have to quote this part, too:

I couldn’t even finish the show, and as I write this it is playing in the background, and I hear someone screaming in agony. I wasn’t aware the show was filmed in front of a live studio audience.

Ouch, again.

ANOTHER UPDATE: In the comments -- It's the Cop Rock of the 21st Century! Did I say "ouch?" I think that I did.

EMERGENCY REPAIRS for the Space Shuttle.


Do the Rove-bashers who populate the Huffingsphere know that their leader is objectively aiding Rove by popularizing the leading theory that exculpates him? ... Hollywood libs always worried she'd go back to the other side! ... P.S.: The real explanation, I suspect, is that Huffington's staying near Sag Harbor and the Judy-as-source theory--even though it seems less simple and straightforward than the competing 'Libby-leaked' scenario--is in fact what vacationing media types are buzzing about, as Huffington herself reports.

Memo to Slate: Pay Kaus enough so that he can vacation in Sag Harbor too! Er, and health insurance would be nice, too, I imagine . . .

UPDATE: Is that where Ed Morrissey is vacationing?

A RARE, YET EFFECTIVE, photo-Fisking.

MARK DANIELS OFFERS advice on marriage after 31 years.

HMM. MAYBE BUSH IS AS SMART AS SOME PEOPLE SAY: Just read this report from the non-Bush-suck-up New York Times:

Now that he is finally going to the United Nations as ambassador, John R. Bolton is supposed to "provide clear American leadership for reform" there, President Bush said Monday. But American officials say much of their reform agenda at the United Nations has been accomplished during the months while Mr. Bolton's nomination languished.

Most of the reforms sought by the United States are well on their way to completion," said a senior administration official, speaking anonymously to avoid undercutting the rationale for the Bolton appointment. Another said that because so much had been achieved, there was little concern that Mr. Bolton's combative personality would jeopardize the agenda.

It's as if there was some sort of cunning plan all along. Nah, couldn't be.

August 01, 2005

STEPHEN GREEN: "Next up, Pol's Pots kitchenware from Krupp."

Are they oven- and dishwasher-safe?

DENTISTS, on the front lines of civil defense.


Over at W 43rd Street, I guess, the Butler Report (PDF) has been consigned to the dustbin of history or, at least, appears to be blissfully ignored. . . .

So when Weisman writes, in a non-opinion hard news story in the leading paper in the land, that "the finding that Iraq had tried to buy raw uranium from Niger for a nuclear arms program...turned out to be based on forged documents"--he's being, shall we say, a bit economical with the truth. The finding was based on something more than just forgeries, it would seem, at least if you believe the report of a leading independent U.K. jurist. Of course, the NYT has been quite sloppy about this story for at least over a year now (click thru for how Weisman's piece is poorly worded indeed even if you are just dealing with the SSCI report and the U.S. intelligence side of the fence).

I know I beat on this story a bit like a dead horse. I do so largely because the sixteen words of the SOTU have been used by many as partisan talking point to scream 'Bush lied'! But if you dig into the weeds of the investigations that have taken place--one must judiciously conclude that he didn't.

Would that we could say the same for others. Read the whole thing.

A U.S. ARMY SERGEANT elected Sheik in Iraq.

SPACESHIP ONE PICS FROM THIS MORNING: Last night an InstaPundit reader emailed:

Spaceship One touched down earlier this evening at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on its way to its final resting place at the Smithsonian. Employees at Wright-Patt had the opportunity to watch it and White Knight touch down, take pictures, and listen to pilot Mike Melvill speak. Its final flight is tomorrow morning. I have pictures from its touchdown today and will be taking more as it takes off tomorrow.

She offered to send photos. I said yes, of course, so here they are, followed by a report.



SpaceShipOne pilot Mike Melvill with astronaut wings.




The report, condensed from several emails accompanying the pictures, follows in the "extended entry" area. Click "read more" to read it.

UPDATE: Jim Zellmer has video. Cool!

Read More ?

I CONFESS that I haven't paid a lot of attention to the Air America financial scandals. But this roundup of new developments suggests that there may be more to this than I had thought.

SHOCKINGLY, West Virginia's blog carnival is named after Sen. Robert Byrd. Does that mean it's federally funded?

LT SMASH has discovered a leaked transcript of an Al Qaeda meeting.

CLIVE DAVIS has an interesting interview with "Jeff Gedmin, director of Berlin's Aspen Institute, a self-styled 'marketplace of ideas' that has been described by Irwin Stelzer as the city's 'de facto U.S. embassy'". Read the whole thing.

BEST OF THE WEB is back from hiatus!


And so is this week's History Carnival.


ANN ALTHOUSE compares her review of Electing Justice with mine.

Ann's piece is better, but then (1) She had more than 500 words; and (2) She's smarter than me. So it's not really a fair comparison.



I'm really not sure what's funnier: that the Urban League is comparing Tim Russert and George Stephanopoulos to South African racists, or that the WaPo considers such a ridiculous report to be newsworthy. What's next? The WaPo covering a study by the Anti-Defamation League entitled "Monday Night Auschwitz: A Diversity Study of Players in the National Football League?"

It's Mike Godwin's world. We just opine in it.


Supporters of legislation to expand federally funded stem cell research expressed optimism Sunday that fresh support from the Senate's top Republican, Majority Leader Bill Frist, would help them build a veto-proof majority in Congress.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a key proponent of stem cell research, says at least 62 senators now support his bill to expand federal funding and he hopes to reach 67 — the number needed to override a presidential veto. . . .

Despite opposition from President Bush and antiabortion groups, a growing number of Republicans have said they support the expansion of federal research funding. Proponents say the research offers promise for treating diseases including cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's. Opponents, who believe that life begins at conception, oppose destroying human embryos to extract stem cells.

Citing his expertise as a physician, Frist withdrew his support Friday for Bush's stem cell policy, which restricts research funding to cell lines established by 2001.

A veto-proof majority in the House is, I think, out of the question. But will Bush really cast his first veto ever on this issue? And what will happen to the Republicans if he does?


THE DISCUSSION OF AGING and anti-aging has heated up again, as posts like this one illustrate.

I recently published a review essay revolving around three books: Henry Aaron & William Schwartz (eds), Coping With Methuselah: The Impact of Molecular Biology on Medicine and Society, Stephen Post & Robert Binstock (eds), The Fountain of Youth: Cultural, Scientific, and Ethical Perspectives on a Biomedical Goal, and Robert Fogel's The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100 : Europe, America, and the Third World. It was published in the ABA's law & technology journal, but I've put a copy online here.

LIVE SPACEWALK VIDEO: Trey Jackson has the links.

TOM MAGUIRE (he's not just for Plame anymore!) has thoughts on stem-cell politics and Rudy Giuliani. I note that Giuliani did very well among InstaPundit readers who participated in Patrick Ruffini's straw poll. Compare the results among those who came from Hugh Hewitt's site. I suspect that Hugh's readers are more representative of the GOP primary voters, though.

PUTTING HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: That's what we did in Uzbekistan, at some cost.

FX'S NEW SHOW "OVER THERE" gets a rather negative review from J.D. Johannes of Faces From the Front:

Unfortunately, the costume designer is the only person who seems to have actually studied the war, pictures of the war or video of the war.

As someone who has been over there it was easy to see that if Steven Bochco hired a military consultant, he didn't pay attention to him or, if they did listen to him, that consultant should be fired.

Ouch. And there's this: "By ignoring reality, they discredit their attempt to create a gripping drama. The reality of the war in Iraq is more compelling and more dramatic than any hollow Hollywood fiction." Read the whole thing.


TIM RUSSO looks at IRA/Al Qaeda comparisons and finds some facile moral relativism.

VIRGINIA POSTREL MISSES GRIDLOCK: "What has Congress accomplished? A pork-filled highway bill (Is there any other kind?) and an energy bill that's all subsidies plus Daylight Saving Time--everything for which there was an actual policy debate was removed as 'controversial.' Who, after all, can be against giving money to constituents?" Nobody, apparently. She also points to another downside: "By jettisoning any pretense to free-market principles, the GOP is defining itself entirely as the party of the religious right."

Now if only the Democrats weren't so lame.



In addition to student expenditures, there are ways that law schools can affect the 11 other "measures of quality" that U.S. News uses in assembling its rankings. When they hire their own new graduates as temps, that pumps up their employment figures; when they admit weaker applicants through backdoor mechanisms, that makes their admissions standards look stronger.

"Insofar as these polls affect student choices, the notion that I'm losing students because of this is insane," says Larry Kramer, dean of Stanford Law. He is considering whether he might include water, garbage removal, electricity, plumbing and property taxes as part of the university's spending per student. Stanford (U.S. News No. 3) is feeling the heat from Yale (No. 1), Harvard (No. 2) and Columbia (No. 4) - schools that report 120, 64 and 83 percent, respectively, more than Stanford in indirect expenditures and overhead for each full-time student, according to the confidential American Bar Association data.

Mr. Kramer chalks up the difference to accounting practices: unlike many schools, Stanford Law does not write the check for its utilities. Instead, the central university receives the law school's tuition, deducts an amount for utilities and hands a portion of the remainder to the school. "Now I have to think about going to the university and saying that I need you to disaggregate the law school from this administrative process to get that money counted for U.S. News," Mr. Kramer says.

An obsession with rankings is usually a sign of small-mindedness, but law schools feel very real impacts from changes in those numbers, so the temptation to put one's best foot forward is tough to resist.

DARFUR UPDATE: The death of Sudanese VP Garang makes a resolution seem less likely. That's bad news.

MATTHEW CRAWFORD has some thoughts on how technology is changing the academy.

I've had a few thoughts on this subject myself.

MICHAEL YON has more on Mosul.

KEN SILBER gives a thumbs-up to Ron Bailey's new book:

Liberation Biology makes a strong case for the likelihood of better living through biotechnology in the coming decades. The book adds some balance to a debate that has been dominated in recent times by exaggerated risks and overblown fears.

I haven't finished Bailey's book -- got sidetracked with Ray Kurzweil's -- but I'm about halfway through and I think it's first-rate.

July 31, 2005

SEVERAL PEOPLE think that this post, making fun of Sullivan for his "Bush suck up watch," was badly done. On looking at it in the morning, I decided they were right, and have taken it down. Suffice it to say that I think a "suck up watch" ill befits someone who once praised Bush far more lavishly than the people currently being pointed to. I decided long ago not to try to analyze the reasons for Sullivan's shift, and that was clearly the right approach, which I regret departing from.


As to whether or not Carter’s comments provide rhetorical cover for the terrorists—of course not! Carter is simply voicing his dissent, and if a former US president can’t openly criticize his government—publicly, overseas, during wartime, and on the basis of a narrative of events that an investigative panel has already concluded simply does not represent the facts on the ground—well, then the terrorists have already won.

I'm convinced.

HOWARD DEAN blames Bush's right-wing Supreme Court for the Kelo decision. "A poster at Kos was stunned, saying: 'There’s simply no way that Dean’s comments can be spun to make them even remotely defensible.'”

ANOTHER JOURNALIST UNHAPPY AT BEING QUOTED: This kind of turnabout will only get more common, of course.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll:

Thomas's meltdown--staggeringly ironic, as it comes from someone who spends her days praying for (and preying upon) similar gaffes from the president and his press secretary--is only the latest in a string of examples of reporters who specialize in playing "gotcha games" with their interviewees, and acting like hypocrites if the tables are ever turned.


AUSTIN BAY writes about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My grandfather, who walked across Europe only to be shipped to the Pacific for the invasion of Japan, was deeply relieved by the atomic bombs.

UPDATE: Much, much more here.

INDCJOURNAL looks at infighting over stem cells in the GOP.


FAIRFIELD, Ohio -- Two teenage boys were charged Thursday with burning 20 small American flags set up in honor of a soldier who died from injuries suffered in the Iraq war.

Police said the boys apparently did not know the significance of the flags they took from the yard and set afire under a car belonging to the soldier's sister-in-law. The vehicle was destroyed.

So I guess they just thought they were burning flags, and a car, belonging to an ordinary patriotic American, rather than the family of a dead serviceman. I guess that's somewhat less disgusting. It's possible -- though not clear -- from the story that this was apolitical vandalism, though (contra Rehnquist in the flag-burning case) I think flag-burning, like cross-burning, is pretty much always meant to send a message.

UPDATE: On the other hand, here's a characterization of the event as "a confluence of youth and stupidity." I guess I shouldn't underestimate the power of that combination. . . .

And this observation seems spot-on: "I can only guess that the parents are thinking about looking to move to another county right about now."

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Bryan McBurney emails:

If these idiots had burned a cross or spray painted a swastika on a Jewish Community Center they would surely get some kind of politically correct re-education/sensitivity training. In fact, others at their school (assuming they attend school) who had nothing to do with it might get the same treatment. I am not generally in favor of that stuff but, if we must have it for racially/ethnically motivated stupidity, why not mandatory patriotism re-education for anti-American or anti-military stupidity? I am not entirely pleased with myself for coming up with this idea, but if we have one why not the other?

I'm against both, but the door has certainly been opened. And those who are creeped out more by one or the other might ask themselves why.

RENEE BLODGETT has a lot of roundups from the BlogHer conference. Just keep scrolling.


Public health officials preparing to battle what they view as an inevitable influenza pandemic say the world lacks the medical weapons to fight the disease effectively, and will not have them anytime soon.

Public health specialists and manufacturers are working frantically to develop vaccines, drugs, strategies for quarantining and treating the ill, and plans for international cooperation, but these efforts will take years. Meanwhile, the most dangerous strain of influenza to appear in decades -- the H5N1 "bird flu" in Asia -- is showing up in new populations of birds, and occasionally people, almost by the month, global health officials say.

If the virus were to start spreading in the next year, the world would have only a relative handful of doses of an experimental vaccine to defend against a disease that, history shows, could potentially kill millions.

Read the whole thing. And then worry a bit.

UPDATE: Reader Jim McMurry emails:

The worries about bird flu are past the realm of "could be a threat" and have entered the phase of the ticking time bomb and we cannot see the time marker, nor know when it will go off in the USA. I am betting on October 2006, but it could come sooner.

Well, we don't know. A major flu pandemic is pretty much inevitable sooner or later. On the other hand, many of the casualties from the 1918 flu were people who were weakened by TB, meaning that perhaps lethality won't be as bad this time. But I certainly think that we need to be working hard on antiviral drugs, and protocols for the rapid production of new vaccines, not only to be ready for bird flu but to be ready for all kinds of potential natural and unnatural outbreaks.

SHOULD WE ELECT SUPREME COURT JUSTICES? That's the proposal floated by Richard Davis in his new book, Electing Justice: Fixing The Supreme Court Nomination Process.

As you can see from my just-published review of the Davis book, I'm somewhat skeptical.

ABA JOURNAL: MedMal Ruling Leaves Doctors Reeling:

As any constitutional law student knows, rational basis review is the lowest of the low.

But it was high enough for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to wipe out as an equal protection violation a cap on some medical malpractice damages. And it was enough to leave the state’s medical establishment reeling.

The court also cut off federal appeals by deciding the case solely under the Wisconsin Constitution, effectively painting physicians and their legislative allies into a corner as they pondered a fix.

I keep telling people about the growing importance of state constitutional law. Here's more evidence.

I'VE BEEN QUITE CRITICAL OF SECURITY CAMERAS in the past. Now Heather MacDonald takes the opposing view.

SPACE LAW PROBE is a blog about space law that's worth your time, if you're interested in that topic. And you should be!

People have occasionally emailed to ask when Rob Merges and I plan to update our space law textbook, Outer Space: Problems of Law and Policy. He and I have talked about it, but it probably won't be for a few more years. Things have changed, but not quite enough for a new edition.

FIGHTAGING: "The frustration of Jason Pontin, editor of the MIT Technology Review, over the inexplicable reluctance of A-list bioscientists to deliver a good scientific critique of Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) has born fruit."

UPDATE: Related post here.

ALPHECCA NOTES a victory for civil rights in the Senate. And Countertop Chronicles has more.


So is the Carnival of Cordite!

UPDATE: And don't miss this week's BritBlog Roundup!

MUGABE'S GENOCIDE: Gateway Pundit has a letter from Zimbabwe.

MICKEY KAUS: " Everyone's saying that welfare causes terrorism! Does polygamy cause terrorism too?"


I'm concerned about the quality of history teaching at Stanford. David Kennedy's piece likening the current American army to the Hessians is, simply, completely uninformed on the topic of Hessians.

Enlightenment follows. And there's this: "PS: Kennedy's description of the adventurism of Napoleon as an example of the threat posed by standing armies is historically illiterate, as well. . . . If anything, the Napoleonic period shows the dangers to the world of countries that mobilize their entire citizenry, which is what Kennedy appears to be arguing for."

MICHAEL FUMENTO reports on press negativity about Iraq, and tells me something I didn't know:

One of the reporters who was gnawing on Yost’s right leg and working her way up to the pelvis, Knight-Ridder Baghdad Bureau Chief Hannah Allam, challenged him to go to Baghdad, adding facetiously “it might be too far for Mr. Yost to travel (and I don't blame him, given the treacherous airport road to reach our fortress-like hotel).”

So she’s admitting she stays in a heavily protected hotel, which means she’s also in the safety of the Green Zone. She doesn’t say that all civilians taking the airport road travel in a vehicle that’s so heavily armored it would take a nuclear improvised explosive to stop it.

As it happens, I did go to Iraq. I was embedded with the Marines at Camp Fallujah in hostile Anbar province, nearly lost my life, and returned with a colostomy bag as a souvenir. But before that I walked and drove through the streets of Fallujah, which for some odd reason fell off the media map right after the major blood-letting ended. I reported back on progress in reconstruction of buildings and providing electricity and water to parts of the area that NEVER had it. And I can't begin to count the e-mails I got from soldiers and Marines thanking me for telling it like it is.

Yost was right; media coverage on the war is terribly slanted – such that it may threaten our ability to win. This was much more clearly shown in the reaction to his piece than in the column itself.

Read the whole thing. (Via Faces from the Front, who manages to get outside the Green Zone).

ANN ALTHOUSE isn't happy with Pajamas Media -- she likes Henry Copeland's blogads better: "I don't like pajamas anyway. I want to blog naked. With Henry."

I'm pretty pleased with Pajamas myself, and have agreed -- subject to clearing up a few fairly minor issues -- to join them. I've already been giving them some informal advice on editorial issues and my big interest -- lining up actual blog-reporters in remote places. But I think the blogosphere's big enough for lots of different approaches. Even the naked ones. Now that's a way to build traffic.