March 18, 2006

ME, POLLYANNAISH? I still don't know what could possibly give people that idea.

Now if you want to see somebody who's really Pollyannaish, click "read more."

Read More ?

THE NEW YORK TIMES' APOLOGY for being suckered in an Abu Ghraib scam isn't enough for Mediacrity. "The issue, however, is not one reporter's sloppiness or gullibility, but rather a system that is all too eager to skew the military and publish anti-American swill without even elementary checking."

Ed Morrissey isn't impressed, either: "The correction, quite frankly, stinks."

UPDATE: More thoughts from TigerHawk: "Can you imagine any excuse more humiliating? Probably not, but it is instructive that the Times obviously thought the 'PBS said it' defense would fly. Sheesh."

Still more bad news for the Times here and, perhaps, here.

MORE: Tom Maguire has further thoughts, and offers a mild correction to Ed Morrissey and TigerHawk.

AN ANNIVERSARY for LaShawn Barber.


WHAT IF THEY HELD ANTIWAR PROTESTS AND NOBODY CAME? Gateway Pundit says that's pretty much what happened at events meant to protest the third anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

UPDATE: ATC says that those who showed up seemed less anti-war than anti-American and anti-Bush. You don't say.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More photos here. They're not so much "antiwar" as just on the other side.

Brian Dunn, meanwhile, is enjoying a different and larger set of protests.

AN ARMY OF TRANSLATORS: Hiawatha Bray reports on the Iraqi documents translation effort, in the Boston Globe.

One advantage: The blogosphere won't fire translators because they're gay!

SO FAR, I'm enjoying Peter Hamilton's Judas Unchained.

STRATEGYPAGE says that "people power" won't work in Iran.

PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: An interview with the lowest-ranking Republican in Congress, Rep. John Campbell. He's only been there for 60 days and he's already gotten 63 requests for earmarks.

ANOTHER ARMY OF DAVIDS REVIEW, this one from Don Surber: "Reynolds is not a Pollyanna. He is the realist."

UPDATE: You know, someday I'm going to have to actually read Pollyanna. It's one of those books that has become an expression, but that hardly anyone ever reads. Heck, I never even saw the movie. Have I missed anything?

ORRIN JUDD says that Bush doesn't deserve his big-spender label:

At any rate, given that Ms Noonan believes, for some reason, that Ronald Reagan was a conservative and George W. Bush isn't, it's perhaps helpful to just compare the two: when Ronald Reagan left office in 1988 he was dunning us 18.1% of GDP to pay for a federal government that spent 21.2% of GDP. In 2004, the last year for which I could find numbers, George W. Bush had lowered our tax burden to 16.3% of GDP-- a level last reached in 1959--to pay for a government that spent 19.8 of GDP.

There doesn't seem to be any coherent reason why a president's conservatism should be judged by how much he spends, but if you're using that as your yardstick then Mr. Reagan was the most liberal president since FDR during WWII and George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are the most conservative since Nixon.


March 17, 2006

BETSY NEWMARK: "I seem to exist again."


I'M SORRY: "Yesterday we got an Instalanche (thank you, Glenn!) the traffic from which unfortunately had the effect of crashing our server." It's a sort of Heisenberg effect, only where it's reporting, not observation, that changes things . . ..


"President Bush sketched an expansive vision last night of what he expects to accomplish by a war in Iraq. Instead of focusing on eliminating weapons of mass destruction, or reducing the threat of terror to the United States, Mr. Bush talked about establishing a 'free and peaceful Iraq' that would serve as a 'dramatic and inspiring example' to the entire Arab and Muslim world, provide a stabilizing influence in the Middle East and even help end the Arab-Israeli conflict."--editorial, New York Times, Feb. 27, 2003

"One prominent neoconservative, Francis Fukuyama, asserts in a new book that the administration embraced democracy as a cornerstone of its policy only after the failure to find unconventional weapons in Iraq. The issue was seized upon to justify the war in retrospect, and then expanded for other countries, he says."--New York Times, March 17, 2006


OLIVER KAMM: "Ever since the parties of the Second International split over the First World War, national security has divided left-wing opinion as no other issue." (Via Comment is Free).

THE CARNIVAL OF CARS IS UP! Also check out the Carnival of the Vanities, the History Carnival, and the Carnival of the Liberals.

Lots more carnivals over at

A SEA CHANGE in the blogosphere.


He seems to think that I'm some sort of hippie. That's me!

UPDATE: Joel Miller emails:

This is my favorite line:

"Perhaps the future will be like the 1970s, with the self once more supremely ascendant. In this digitalized idyll, wi-fi will replace marijuana and the ashram will be transformed into the always-on Internet cafй."

Glenn, you’re like the gooiest guru I know, man. What’s the sound of one modem connecting?

Om modem padme hum.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Racansky emails: "Shouldn't that be 'GUIest guru?'" Heh.

Hippie-talk aside, I'm actually a bit bemused by people who see the book as utopian or pollyannaish. After all, I talk about the substantial danger of human extinction within the next thousand years (and argue that Stephen Hawking's thousand-year horizon is too optimistic). I guess compared to Al Gore or Paul Ehrlich or other dystopian writers, I seem that way, since I'm not shouting that the end is nigh, but still . . . My point, rather, is that the changes I describe are coming whether you like them or not, and that we'd better find a way to help them turn out well.

As for Keen's complaint that I fail to address the "crucial" question of "whether or not man is inherently good" -- well, that question could support a book, or a thousand books, on its own. And has. While I agree that it's an important (if, perhaps, difficult to resolve) topic, it seemed like something of a digression in the context of my own work. At any rate, Keen just seems to dislike the notion of indivdual empowerment -- which he has elsewhere called "Socrates' nightmare" -- and on that point we simply disagree.

MORE: Well, not everyone thinks I'm a utopian: "Reynolds doesn't hold a utopian view of technology and the market in which the future holds only unbridled health and wealth if we would just embrace it. But neither does he give in to a pessimistic view that foresees a dystopian future full of tyranny and oppression where technological might makes right."

Of course, given the tone of most futurist writing these days, simply not being dystopian may make me seem pollyannaish by comparison.

STILL MORE: Another review from Jay Manifold. And here's one from Peter Ingemi.

JAMES KLURFELD says that Iran is looking like Iraq these days. As the reader who sent the link notes, "well, duh." And we've just seen that U.S. and Iraqi forces can work well together in large, helicopter-borne assault operations, too. Hmm.

ANN ALTHOUSE on gay marriage and polygamy.

UPDATE: Eugene Volokh responds: "I generally much like Prof. Althouse's work, but here I'm unpersuaded."

A WHILE BACK, I mentioned I was reading Vernor Vinge's forthcoming novel, Rainbows End. Several readers have emailed demanding a review, so here goes.

I finished it, and it's very good. It's absolutely an Army of Davids world in 2025, according to Vinge, and he does an excellent job of painting the up- and down-sides of that.

Beyond that, it's quite a good novel. I don't want to give too much away, but it doesn't have quite the sweep of such earlier Vinge works as A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, and it's not, as I had initially thought, a sequel to those books. It's more of a Neal Stephenson or Greg Egan near-future science fiction novel, with a (somewhat) smaller scope and scale. But it's very good, and every bit as enjoyable as his other work. I highly recommend it: Vinge fans won't be disappointed, and people who have never read Vinge may find it a bit more accessible than some of his earlier works.

ANOTHER AOD review, this one by Sam Dinkin. He thinks I'm too pessimistic about the future.

UPDATE: Here's another review from Trudy Schuett.

IN THE MAIL: Ed Feulner and Doug Wilson's new book, Getting America Right : The True Conservative Values Our Nation Needs Today. Not being a conservative, I don't buy all of this, but the need for Republicans to revitalize themselves -- and, in particular, to get out from under the big-government, pork-barrel spending style they've embraced in recent years -- is pretty obvious.


It is disappointing that the CIA didn't accurately appraise Saddam's capabilities. But even Saddam's generals were shocked to find that no VX nerve gas would be available to them.

We also know that Saddam intended to restock his arsenals. And we know he supported and trained terrorists, at such facilities as Salman Pak — now closed for business thanks to U.S. military forces.

It's easy to say that if we had left Saddam alone, nothing bad would have happened. But how is that different from what was said for years about Osama bin Laden? We knew his intentions. We didn't take pre-emptive action. Don't you wish we had?

If Americans have learned anything, it should be this: When people say they intend to kill you, take them seriously.

Yes, the more damaging critique of Bush is that he hasn't pressed the war hard enough -- against Iran, Syria, and the terrorist supporters in Saudi Arabia -- not that he should have done less.


The government is finally getting around to unloading some of Saddam Hussein's secret documents. A look at just a few pages already leads to some blockbuster revelations.

In the early stages of the war that began three years ago, the U.S. captured thousands of documents from Saddam and his spy agency, the Mukhabarat. It's been widely thought the documents could shed light on why Saddam behaved as he did and how much of a threat his evil regime represented.

Yet, until this week, the documents lay molding in boxes in a government warehouse. Now the first batch is out, and though few in number, they're loaded with information.

Among the enduring myths of those who oppose the war is that Saddam, though murderous when it came to his own people, had no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist designs outside his own country. Both claims now lie in tatters.

It's funny that these documents are getting so little attention from the press.

BLOGGER INDEPENDENCE: Daniel Glover reports that some Republicans were disappointed when bloggers at an event showed too much independence. They're not "lapblogs."

PRAISE FOR THE BBC: Thanks to XM, I've been listening to the BBC World Service when I take my daughter to school in the morning. It's just an impression, but my sense is that the BBC's anti-Americanism and war-negativism has been considerably muted in recent weeks. I've also noticed a greater willingness to listen to alternative voices such as blogs, etc. Perhaps they're improving.



WHAT LED TO THE DOCUMENT RELEASE? Here's at least part of the story.

March 16, 2006

MICHAEL BARONE has thoughts on information warfare.

MARK STEYN tells all:

I've been the token conservative on liberal newspapers. I don't mind an adversarial relationship in terms of your position on the Gulf War, or Afghanistan, or the European Union or whatever. I don't mind having differences with editors and so forth on that. But when it gets into, when the whole relationship just becomes generally toxic, then I think it's best to hang out your shingle somewhere else, which I will do in the United Kingdom at some point.

Read the whole thing.

CATHY YOUNG HAS THOUGHTS on men's reproductive freedom.


I'll just add what Cathy Seipp said after a similar experience: "When journalists go from keeping secrets about sources to expecting sources to keep secrets about them, something in the media has begun to stink with self-importance." Actually, I think a lot of it has to do with an obvious agenda and poor people skills. These are not assets in journalism, though they're not unknown there, either.

IMAO OFFERS a baby seal-killing FAQ. It displays the compassion and factual accuracy that has always been the IMAO hallmark.


UPDATE: More here from Rand Simberg, including this:

I don't understand why the administration hasn't been working harder to get these documents analyzed and public. Also, this treasure trove just makes the actions of the government in firing Arab language experts for being gay look all the more stupid. We need all the translators that we can get right now.


STOLEN BLOG ALERT: Betsy Newmark emails:

Dear Glenn,

I'm writing you because you seem to have a finger on the pulse of the blogger world and maybe know some way to help me or at least to get the word out so that maybe Blogger will help me.

My blog disappeared from Blogger some time Tuesday. All I ge is a message that my blog wasn't found on their server. When I go to my Edit page, it doesn't show Betsy's Page as one of my blogs anymore. It's as if my identity was erased.

I just get this very irritating message
"The blog you were looking for was not found." It doesn't show up on my dashboard at all.

Now, somebody has started a blog using my address and hijacked it. This is not me, but it is my URL. How despicable is that?

I have been writing Blogger for the past two days and all I get are the irritating auto-generated messages. What does it take to get a personal contact from those guys?

They put up those deceptive notes on their Status Page saying that they are doing maintenance on the server and now everything is fixed.

IT IS NOT FIXED. They are either deceived or are deceiving people. Viking Pundit and DJ Drummond of Stolen Thunder and Polipundit have experienced the same thing, though DJ was somehow able to get his back.

It wouldn't be so bad if an actual human being wrote me and told me what was going on and that they were working on it and when I could expect it to be fixed and what I could do if it is not fixed at that point. But they don't do that. And so people will get angry and leave Blogger and go to some other format for their blogs. And their customer service will be the reason.

I was wondering if you could put up a post telling people of my story and see if anyone has any recommendations of how to get my blog back. I hope to be back as soon as possible at either my old address or at a new address. But I would like to get to the bottom of this saga of my blog.

Any ideas?

SOME INTERESTING STUFF from Saddam's archives.

I'VE LEARNED that Cathy Seipp is not someone you want to have making fun of you.

DAVE KOPEL looks at armed resistance to the Holocaust.

AL QAEDA CHATTER at pre-9/11 levels. I'm not sure what that means, but unless they're saying "this whole terror thing sucks, let's quit," it's probably bad news.

UPDATE: Here's somebody who thinks it might be what I hope.

On the other hand, reader Tom Brosz emails: "March 20th is the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. That's a date I'd watch closely."

Nonsense. We've been repeatedly assured by antiwar folks that there's no connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda, so why would they care?



Really, what did people do for fun before PhotoShop?

MICHAEL MALONE: "It was just a year ago that I predicted — to considerable consternation and censure from the press — that most major newspapers would be dead or dying by the end of this decade. Apparently, I was being conservative."

HARRY TURTLEDOVE, CALL YOUR OFFICE: Stephen Green looks at an alternate history scenario.

CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG (CONT'D)? Now it's George Clooney vs. Arianna Huffington.

AMITY SHLAES on kidney transplants and political stereotypes.

(Via the world's leading kidneyblogger).

ANOTHER JUDICIAL DEFEAT for anti-gun forces.

UPDATE: Don't know why that link's not working, but you can see it on the main page at, which you should probably be visiting regularly anyway!

porkbustersnewsm.jpgPORKBUSTERS UPDATE: This sounds like semi-good news:

As House Republican leaders have not agreed on a final plan for earmark reforms, the internal Appropriations Committee rules changes represent the only new limits. House leaders briefly outlined possible earmark reform to rank-and-file members at a closed-door meeting yesterday morning, but fiscally conservative leaders such as Reps. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said the proposal is “sketchy” and unsatisfactory.

Flake said leaders are willing to let lawmakers vote against individual earmarks in spending bills when they first reach the chamber floor but not after bills emerge from conference negotiations.

Appropriators are lobbying their colleagues to oppose dramatic earmark reform. At the same time they are implementing their own new rules.

The chairmen of appropriations subcommittees that traditionally produce among the most project-laden of the annual spending bills said they are limiting their colleagues to 10 project requests each.

This is a modest improvement, which is better than no improvement. However, it shouldn't stand in the way of more serious reform, which this is nowhere close to.

There's a hearing on earmark reform in the Senate, starting at 9:30 this morning. You can stream it live via a link here.

CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG? Rogers Cadenhead reports that Dave Winer is threatening legal action. Winer responds.

AS I WARNED, BLOGGING HAS BEEN LIGHT: I've been hanging out with my grandmother, and enjoying it. Off to the office soon, though. My brother-in-law's surgery went well, the rather large tumor that they removed still seems to be benign, and everything went about as well as it could, considering that he had something the size of a grapefruit cut out of his back. Thanks for all the prayers and good wishes from everybody.

March 15, 2006


NEW YORK (AP) -- Upbeat reports from the Federal Reserve and DuPont Co. lifted stocks for a second day Wednesday, pushing the Standard & Poor's 500 past 1,300 for the first time since May 2001. The industrials, materials and transportation sectors led the market higher, allowing the S&P 500 to finally pop above 1,297, a ceiling the index has not been able to cross since November.

Via reader Brandon Marx who emails: "Why is no one talking about this?" Larry Kudlow has been asking that for a while.

Ed Driscoll has some thoughts, too.

The Politicization of Psychology

Is psychology over-politicized? We interview Dr. Nicholas Cummings, a past President of the American Psychological Association, and coauthor of Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to Harm, about the injection of politics into mental health in general, and the American Psychological Association in particular. Plus, why men are disappearing from the psychological profession.

You can listen to the podcast directly (no iPod needed!) by clicking right here, or you can get it via iTunes right here.

There's an archive of previous episodes here. There's also an archive of low-bandwidth versions for dialup users, etc., available here.

As always, my lovely and talented cohost is soliciting comments and suggestions.

WRITING IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Michael Tanji joins those calling for release of the captured Iraqi documents. He calls for An Army of Analysts. Catchy phrase.

HERE'S A NICE PROFILE of the Tennessee blogging community from Business Tennessee magazine.

MISS KELLY IS LOOKING FOR ADVICE on which shotgun to buy.


THE ONLINE FREEDOM ACT IS UP FOR A VOTE, and it seems to me that supporting it is very important to the future of the blogosphere and alternative media generally. Mike Krempasky and Kos both have more. To quote Kos:

So the debate over regulation of the blogosphere is starting to boil, with the NY Times throwing its lot against HR 1606 (they call it the "Internet Campaign Loophole").

Except that this loophole has existed for several years and still hasn't been exploited. And the alternative plan (dubbed the CDT plan), hasn't been thoroughly debated and considered.

Note, HR 1606 was killed by the "reformer" groups and Nancy Pelosi because, they argued, it hadn't been "properly debated". Well, HR 1606 now has been properly debated and we're ready to vote on it. Sensing a looming defeat, the bill's opponents suddenly get behind the CDT proposal -- which has had NO debate nor committee hearings. Hypocrisy isn't too foreign to those types.

At least they're bringing the blogosphere together.

I LIST BRITISH BLOGS THAT I LIKE: Some Guardian commenters are upset that I didn't list blogs they like.

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS HAS A RECURSIVE MOMENT: So I ordered a bunch of beautiful custom bookplates to use in the autograph-by-mail setup I mentioned earlier. When they came they were beautiful, but with a slick finish that made them impossible to write on, even with a sharpie. Since the mailed-in requests were already piling up, I wasn't sure what to do. "Make your own," suggested my wife. D'oh! I got some label stock, added in an image of the book, and produced custom bookplates that looked as good as the ones I ordered, but that took ink. Problem solved. It's like technology was empowering me to do things for myself that used to take a big organization or something!

I'LL BE OVER AT MY GRANDMOTHER'S LATER, watching her so that my mother can watch my sister's kids, so that my sister can accompany my brother-in-law to Vanderbilt where he's having surgery. (Good news: The "spindle-cell sarcoma" that I posted about a while back appears to have been a false alarm; the consensus after several pathologists looked at the slides is that it's benign.) Extended families are good, but blogging may be a bit lighter than usual.

DAILY ILLINI EDITOR ACTON GORTON reports that he has been fired for publishing the Muhammad cartoons.

This is, alas, part of a pattern on campuses these days, where free speech is a decidedly one-sided phenomenon.

A CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTION supporting the Solomon Amendment and the Supreme Court's decision in FAIR v. Rumsfeld passes 347-65.

I'M NOT SURE if I'm allowed to link to it or not, but Andrew Marcus has posted video coverage of the pro-Danish demonstrations in Chicago yesterday, along with links to other posts on the subject.

JUST NOTICED that James Swanson's Manhunt is up to #5 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Our podcast interview with Swanson can be heard here.

RUSS FEINGOLD makes things hot for his fellow Democrats:

Democratic senators, filing in for their weekly caucus lunch yesterday, looked as if they'd seen a ghost.

"I haven't read it," demurred Barack Obama (Ill.

"I just don't have enough information," protested Ben Nelson (Neb.). "I really can't right now," John Kerry (Mass.) said as he hurried past a knot of reporters -- an excuse that fell apart when Kerry was forced into an awkward wait as Capitol Police stopped an aide at the magnetometer.

Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) brushed past the press pack, shaking her head and waving her hand over her shoulder. When an errant food cart blocked her entrance to the meeting room, she tried to hide from reporters behind the 4-foot-11 Barbara Mikulski (Md.).

"Ask her after lunch," offered Clinton's spokesman, Philippe Reines. But Clinton, with most of her colleagues, fled the lunch out a back door as if escaping a fire.

And in a shocking development, Chuck Schumer actually had no comment.

THE TANGLED BANK science blog carnival is up.

March 14, 2006

HEH. Indeed.


A Hennepin County judge ruled today that Minneapolis' program that uses cameras to capture drivers running red lights is unconstitutional.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a motion in December, saying the city's "stop on red" ordinance presumes that the registered owner of the vehicle is guilty, not innocent. They also said the ordinance conflicts with state law because it shifts liability for traffic light violations from the driver to the owner of the vehicle.

There's more here.

My suggestion: Require that revenues from these cameras go into the state general fund, instead of city coffers. Then see how many cities adopt them as a pure safety measure, with no revenue angle.



Nanotechnology has restored the sight of blind rodents, a new study shows.

Scientists mimicked the effect of a traumatic brain injury by severing the optical nerve tract in hamsters, causing the animals to lose vision.

After injecting the hamsters with a solution containing nanoparticles, the nerves re-grew and sight returned.

The researchers injected the blind hamsters at the site of their injury with a solution containing synthetically made peptides - miniscule molecules measuring just five nanometres long.

Once inside the hamster's brain, the peptides spontaneously arranged into a scaffold-like criss-cross of nanofibres, which bridged the gap between the severed nerves.

The scientists discovered that brain tissue in the hamsters knitted together across the molecular scaffold, while also preventing scar tissue from forming.

Importantly, the newly formed brain tissue enabled the brain nerves to re-grow, restoring vision in the injured hamsters.

(Via Slashdot). This is still pretty primitive nanotechnology, of course. But in a way, that's what makes this story really cool.


Women involved in prostitution in Daytona Beach, Fla., have reportedly armed themselves and are searching for a serial killer behind the slayings of three residents, according to a Local 6 News report.

"Rather than run from the man police labeled a serial killer, streetwalkers here in Daytona Beach along Ridgewood Avenue say they are seeking the serial killer out," Local 6 reported Tarik Minor said. "They believe the man responsible for murdering three women here is someone they have come in contact with."

"We will get him first," streetwalker Tonya Richardson said. "Yeah, we are going to get him first. When we find him, he is going to be sorry. It is as simple as that."

This, however, is carrying the concept farther than I recommend.

I DON'T USUALLY THINK OF BILL FRIST AS AN ATTACK DOG, but I just got an email from his office with a link to this post on Feingold's censure attempt that's pretty tough, at least for the usually mild-mannered Frist:

Yesterday Democrat Senator Russ Feingold called for a censure of President Bush. The censure reads:

"The United States Senate does hereby censure George W. Bush, President of the United States, and does condemn his unlawful authorization of wiretaps of Americans."

Senator Feingold is flat wrong and irresponsible.

In fact, when I attempted today to bring this censure resolution to the Senate floor for a vote, the Democrats objected. Proving it is just a shameful political stunt.

I said the other day that Bush's best hope was for the Democrats to do something dumb.

IVAN OSORIO: "Is there a point at which societal change moves so fast that some people not only do not see it, but emphatically deny that it's happening?"



DEFENSETECH has more on the bioterror threat.


You announced some Denmark rallies before and after they took place, and linked to others only afterwards. Please announce the Chicago rally before it takes place at noon today. If not, please don't bother to link to coverage afterward.

I don't know if this counts, since there aren't any details, since Mark didn't provide any in his rather pissy email. But if you want to dictate the terms of Insta-Coverage, then at least provide the relevant information. Or, better still, think twice before sending that pissy email.

And if you want complete control of when and how your message gets out, you could always buy an ad. Right?

JOHN LEO looks at a movie that foreshadowed the cartoon crisis.


I don't know about those rumors, but some peasants with pitchforks have been seen roaming the hallways.

RALPH PETERS: "During a recent visit to Baghdad, I saw an enormous failure. On the part of our media. The reality in the streets, day after day, bore little resemblance to the sensational claims of civil war and disaster in the headlines."

Or from Gary Hart.

UPDATE: Reader Ellis Disch emails:

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Gary Hart came to Boston College to promote his new book and talk about the impending war. He told the group that the initial invasion of Baghdad would lead to 50,000 American casualties. I asked him if he chose that number because it lined up quite nicely with the number of American losses in Vietnam and so it fit in to the storyline: "Iraq is another Vietnam." I didn't really expect and answer and got none.

Three years later he retains his touch for making wild predictions of impending doom. Thank god he has zero chance of ever being president.

And to think I once supported him. And Al Gore. Luckily, my support made no difference!

JIM GERAGHTY HAS MORE THOUGHTS on tipping point politics and Islam:

I think I'm still optimistic and hopeful; as I wrote, "Thankfully, many would say that bin Laden never spoke for them, and they're ready and eager to do whatever it takes to eradicate Islamist terror cells," and "that some Muslims, after years of seeing a faltering, doubtful, self-hating and equivocal West taking on the relentless faith of Islamist fanatics, would come off the fence."

But here's a point that I should have added: Right now, if you're a Muslim, and you denounce Islamism, there is a severe price to be paid - Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, etc. Often you have to live in hiding and dodge death threats.

If you embrace and/or endorse Islamism, there is little price to be paid. The West won't attack you for what you say. You don't have to worry about some crazy Westerner suddenly pulling a Pym Fortyn or a Van Gogh on you. Heck, in London, you can preach jihad for years before the authorities even think about deporting you.

Thus, our message gets stifled; their message gets amplified.

But what if we changed that equation? What if the bad guys had to live in fear? What if they had to be careful about who they told, who was in the crowd they addressed, who was listening? I bet it would go a long way to slow down their efforts.

Read the whole thing.

MORE LAW STUDENTS are flunking the bar exam.


For the 2006 midterm elections, Republicans should propose an idea so big that it stretches to the stars. Republicans should commit the government to building a space elevator by 2020.

I like space elevators, but I kind of doubt this is an election-winner.

March 13, 2006


TECHNOLOGY REVIEW has announced a panel of judges to judge challenges to Aubrey de Grey's "Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence."

Yeah, TR is on a roll today.

LOCAL BLOGGER WITH CAMERA scoops local media.

RESPONDING TO THE TECHNOLOGY REVIEW ARTICLE on biological warfare that I linked earlier, Mike Treder has thoughts about dangerous knowledge.

IRAQPUNDIT: "Whenever I read newspapers, I ask myself, who are these people?"

FROM "CRUNCHY CONS" to Phi Beta Cons.

THE TSA BLOWS IT, and puts the Moussaoui sentencing trial at risk. Sheesh. (Via Ann Althouse).

VARIOUS PEOPLE HAVE EMAILED asking for more pictures from campus. I've been pretty lame on the photography front lately, as a result of book-related stuff. But I'll try to do better, and I actually got a new digital camera, a Sony DSC-W7, and decided to try it out while I was on campus Sunday. (After much use and abuse, the faceplate came off my old Sony pocket camera, and though I managed to get it back on, I no longer feel that I can rely on it so it's been demoted to the glove-compartment camera.) The A/C was out in my office, so I went over to the Main Library to work and took the opportunity to wander around and take a few pictures.


Above is "Hopecote," a cottage where the University puts up visiting dignitaries, holds receptions, etc. Below is a flower from the tree in front -- spring is finally setting in.


Students were wandering around in shorts looking happy that it was warm. (And I don't mean the 39 degrees that passes for "warm" at Wisconsin!)


And somebody was moving: And doing it pretty seriously, too!


That's getting the most out of your U-Haul. I'll have more of these as the semester continues, no doubt.

GATEWAY PUNDIT: U.S. Fatalities Down Since Media Declared Civil War.

KOS AND KREMPASKY on blogs and the 2008 election.


The interim head of the Department of the Interior, Patricia "Lynn" Scarlett, once endorsed the legalization of drugs. Back in 1989, she reportedly wrote "Give up the drug war: legalize drugs instead."

And Muckraked gives lots of other reasons to like her, too. More appointments like this, please.

ANTISEMITISM is rising among French Muslims, according to an article in the Boston Globe.

RUSHING TO JUDGE AMERICA: "A blinding German obsession."


I'm still a supporter of the Iraqi war. I still believe that Saddam Hussein had to be removed from power. U.N Resolutions 687, 786 and 1441 clearly set forth the legal basis for the removal of Saddam Hussein, and no other country seemed willing to bear the responsibility. I firmly believe that had the United States backed off, Hussein would have seen it as a sign of weakness, and he would have quickly resurrected his weapons programs. In the long term, the United States would have suffered. In spite of the bleatings of the left and the failure of our mainstream media to report the facts objectively, there most definitely was a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, and that connection might well have blossomed into a full-scale collaboration had we not interceded. I know that there are many who disagree, but I don't feel that there are many out there who have put any real research into the matter who would express a differing viewpoint. [Just read "The Connection, How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein has Endangered America" by Stephen F. Hayes. published by Harper Collins]

OK ... here's the "but." Right now if some pollster asked me whether I approve or disapprove of the way George Bush is handling his second term in office, my only honest answer would be in the negative. At this point there are other things that I would like to see George Bush address; other things I would like for him to explain.

He then lists a lot of other problems, unrelated to the war, and concludes: "Suffice it to say that George Bush needs to talk about much more than the global war on terror to float my boat."

Yeah, if the Democrats stopped harping on the war, they'd do a lot better. Their continual war-baiting merely serves to remind a lot of people who are unhappy with Bush of why they don't like the Democrats either. Bush's best hope is that the Democrats won't be smart enough to figure that out.

UPDATE: Further thoughts here. And here's a response to claims that Democrats don't have a coherent message.

THE FULL-LENGTH TECHNOLOGY REVIEW PIECE on biowar and bioterrorism is up now. You can read it here.

UPDATE: Dale Amon phoned from Belfast with a worrying thought. He notes this passage from the article:

Popov then described a Soviet strategy for hiding deadly viral genes inside some milder bacterium's genome, so that medical treatment of a victim's initial symptoms from one microbe would trigger a second microbe's growth. "The first symptom could be plague, and a victim's fever would get treated with something as simple as tetracycline. That tetracycline would itself be the factor inducing expression of a second set of genes, which could be a whole virus or a combination of viral genes."

He links this with the latest Al Qaeda threat of a two-stage attack. Seems like a stretch to me, but thanks for giving me something else to worry about, Dale . . . .


In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States.

Ready or not, here it comes.

Well, at least they're not overpromising in terms of a government response . . . .

DARFUR UPDATE: Nat Hentoff writes:

I continue to hear even some journalists adhering to the myth that the New York Times largely determines the priority of daily news. But, as I tell journalism students, if that is your primary source, you're going to miss a lot. For example, the New York Sun's diligent U.N. correspondent, Benny Avni, keeps breaking news on the contrast between the U.N. Security Council's repellent realpolitik and the unapologetic candor and impatience of our committed U.N. Ambassador John Bolton's fight for human rights.

With the number of corpses in Darfur steadily mounting, and President Bush again seriously involved in confronting what he has accurately called the genocide there, Mr. Bolton has been pressing hard to get the United Nations moving against the resistance of the government of Sudan, the perpetrator of the genocide.

Read the whole thing. (Via Newsbeat 1).

BIOWARFARE AND BIOTERROR: My TCS Daily column, featuring an interview with Technology Review's editor Jason Pontin on their new article about the threat of biological weaponry, is up.

JOHN FUND has more on the Yale Taliban story. Plus, a look at the Yale Colonial Office. And there's still more on the subject from Cathy Young: "Imagine if you were in college and found out that the guy next to you in class had worked as a propagandist for one of the most oppressive regimes of modern times."

March 12, 2006

HERE'S VIDEO OF JOHN HINDERAKER on CNN's Reliable Sources. This was one of their better shows in general, with Jeff Jarvis and Dave Barry, too.

A "LAST WARNING" FROM AL QAEDA: Should we be worried? Or should Bush just promise massive indiscriminate nuclear retaliation, a la Duncan Black, if the threat comes true?

UPDATE: Meryl Yourish comments: "Sounds to me like they just got last season’s 24 on DVD."

IF THE WAR IS GOING SO BADLY, James Joyner wonders why the National Guard is doing so well by using recently returned soldiers as recruiters.

A RALLY TO SUPPORT DENMARK in Toronto. Follow the link for pictures and more.

LAST NIGHT'S POST on books about music produced some email. Reader Tom Spauding writes:

The Sound Reinforcement Handbook is great for /live/ sound engineers, but it's tough to beat Bobby Owsinski's "The Recording Engineer's Handbook" and "The Mixing Engineer's Handbook" for studio tips and techniques.

I'd also second Ed's mention of Rikky Rooksby's "How To Write Songs on Guitar", and add that his "Songwriting Sourcebook" goes it one better.

BTW......I am John Fogerty's guitar tech, and of course, I have a blog Caught Up In The Fable.

I asked him if he was the keeper of the legendary Kustom amp, and he responded:

No, that amp has been tucked (and rolled...heh) away for now. He did use it on previous tours, with the Rickenbacker, but these days he uses Cornford amps for Dirt and Solo sounds, and Mesa-Boogie for clean. I did hook him up with the new Kustom folks and he is getting a combo amp from them for his studio. Apparently, the tremolo circuit in the new amps does a great job of getting that classic Creedence swamp wobble.

Cool. (My brother gets a great tremolo out of a hotrodded Super Reverb and a Swedish Hagstrom Les Paul copy; I recorded one song where it was so luscious you just wanted to scoop it out and put it in an ice cream cone.) And good suggestions on recording books. (There's also Owsinski's Mastering Engineer's Handbook, to complete the series). I would stress, though, that although the Sound Reinforcement Handbook is about live sound, most of its content is equally applicable to recording.

Meanwhile, reader Ron McCabe recommends this quick-and-dirty guide for musicians. And reader Scott Foster writes:

You might be geeky enough to find the following interesting.

The next big thing for little Davids doing home brew music production is small room acoustics. You just can’t have a critical listening environment without dealing with acoustic treatment [or a stellar home theater for that matter]. Folks are figuring this out and activity in the internet community on this topic is exploding.

Like so many others fields of interest this is a fundamental science that heretofore was simply not available for the purposes of the little guys – but because of the communication efficiencies of the net [particularly forums in case of acoustics] this field of interest is fast switching from being a resource for only the most sophisticated of enterprises to one attainable by everyman.

The old standard layman’s reference on small room acoustics / home studio building is still quit popular – it is called: "The Master Handbook of Acoustics" and is on its 4th edition.

But there is a new boy in town… Rod Gervais – well known acoustic construction expert – OK well known in the internet acoustics community anyway – he just built a re-make of Studio “A” [where the chairman of the board used to record] has got a new book out.

Sure to be a smash hit! Well us acoustics geeks are excited, anyway.

Yeah, the acoustics in my home studio are pretty good, but I'm working on a few small flutter echoes with some Auralex wedge patches. There's also a lot of cool computerized room-analysis equipment out there that didn't used to be available.

MARK STEYN: Banned in Britain?

UPDATE: Tim Worstall says that there's less to this story than meets the eye. Apparently the real problem is that Steyn isn't good enough at sucking up to the bosses. Can't say I'm surprised. . . .

JEFF GOLDSTEIN looks at Larry Summers, "diversity," and the trouble with the academy.

JACK KELLY is criticizing media coverage of the war.

UPDATE: Related thoughts from Tim Blair.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Bill Quick offers advice for editors, with an illustration.

MORE STUFF TO BE WORRIED ABOUT: The collapse of Saddam Hussein's biological-weapons threat has caused a lot of people to relax on the question of biological weapons generally. But in fact there's plenty to worry about. I've already linked to Paul Boutin's "Biowar for Dummies" piece, but I just got off the phone with Jason Pontin, editor of Technology Review, regarding new discoveries about the old Soviet bioweapons program. They have a big article coming out tomorrow on this topic -- I've seen an advance copy, and it's quite scary -- but there's a larger lesson. Not only do we have to worry about the hangover from old Soviet programs, but they also serve as a warning.

"That's the essence of our story," said Pontin. "That whatever the Soviet Union did at enormous difficulty and expense, in principle can be done cheaply and easily with modern technology." What's more, it's technolgy that is "unregulated and not easy to regulate -- these are the common tools of biotechnology" today.

I'll have more on this in my TCS Daily column, and I'll post links to the Technology Review story when it's up. But this certainly seems like a reason to think harder about the sort of "Manhattan Project" for biodefense against threats both natural and artificial that Ray Kurzweil and Senator Bill Frist have been backing.

And to belabor a point, yes, this is a downside to the Army of Davids, and yes, I do talk about that in the book.

UPDATE: Noah Shachtman emails to note that there's not just a threat of attack, but of accidents like this one, or this one, or this one.

MORE ON THE NEW YORK TIMES STORY ON BLOGS AND PR: The folks at CNN send this highlight from the Reliable Sources transcript:

JEFF JARVIS, BUZZMACHINE.COM: I think "The Times" story was a sucker punch against a few bloggers who didn't understand how to finesse this stuff. The story it really brought out is the relationship of the press to P.R..

Now, I advise bloggers in my blog that they should always reveal when a story comes from a P.R. agent, that they should reveal information that comes from P.R., and they should reveal any relationship, including lunches, that come from P.R. How many reporters do that? We don't.

How many stories -- we did an audit of a day's TV news, locally or here on CNN, or your paper or any other paper, and see how many stories actually started with P.R., how much information came from P.R. So what "The Times" was asking the bloggers to do, the press doesn't do. And that's a double standard.

And in this age of transparency, I think the real lesson is that the bloggers know how to be transparent, they'll push. A few didn't know. OK. Now we'll teach them how to do it better, and the press has to get better about transparency and its relationship with spin.

On "The New York Times" trying to hold bloggers to a higher standard
EDELMAN: Public relations has always been about telling the side of its client, but we only benefit when we're telling the truth..."The New York Times" I think did in this story have a double standard.

On the "death of the gatekeepers"
JARVIS: All is fair in love and press…We're seeing the death of the gatekeepers. The gatekeepers used to be those in power, then it was those in the press, and then -- yes, now it's P.R., who are gatekeepers to the powerful and the rich and the famous.

I did get the sense that the guy doing this story had a couple of axes to grind, involving Wal-Mart and the blogosphere. But the story itself didn't really seem unfair; it was more the sense that he had somehow gotten hold of a big scoop when, well, he hadn't.

UPDATE: The full Reliable Sources transcript has now been posted. Don't miss the bits with John Hinderaker and Dave Barry, either.

JOHN SCALZI'S GHOST BRIGADES gets a favorable review in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "When you can make readers actually care about a just-hatched, made-from-scratch commando, not to mention an alien scientist who resembles a giant bug (I keep imagining Zorak from the Space Ghost cartoon), that's good science-fiction writing. John Scalzi has pulled off that and a good deal more in this engaging novel."

UPDATE: Here's an audio interview with Scalzi.

And here's our podcast interview with Scalzi, too.

THE GUARDIAN offers praise for the blogosphere.

HOW COVERT ARE COVERT CIA AGENTS? Not so much, apparently. Jeez.

UPDATE: A question from Slashdot:

What the hell happened to the spy agency? CIA Agents now chat away on unsecure cell phones, check into foreign hotels using GSAs (US gov't issued credit cards), and leak every other intelligence briefing to the press. They might as well start a group on MySpace and issue bumper stickers and T shirts. The fact that Google can catch sensitive information means these guys have failed the test of keeping our government's secrets secure.

Jeez. Indeed.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT: This time, it's at the American Psychological Association.

MILITARY RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION is going very well, and The Mudville Gazette takes an extended look at the figures, and the coverage thereof.

SOME GREAT VIRAL VIDEO PUBLICITY for American Apparel, a company I hadn't heard of before. (I guess it works!)

Various companies are consulting PR agencies and marketing experts on how to get this kind of buzz. My advice: Treat all of your customers this well, and some of them will post video tributes to your great service, which other people will then link to.

It's better than doing things the other way around.

BILL ROGGIO notes growing Taliban efforts in Pakistan, which has become a less-dangerous place for them than Afghanistan.

AN ARMY OF DAVIDS is right behind Harry Potter. On Technorati, that is.