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Trust No One

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03
Why does it matter when terrorism laws aren't written and construed very narrowly? This is why.
District Attorney Jerry Wilson has charged Martin Dwayne Miller, 24, of Todd with two counts of manufacturing a nuclear or chemical weapon in connection with a methamphetamine arrest Friday.
A judge needs to squash this, forcefully.
"This is a two-edged sword," Wilson said. "Not only is the drug methamphetamine in itself a threat to both society and those using it, but the toxic compounds and deadly gases created as side products are also real threats."
The paper seems to think this is all perfectly reasonable.
The law reads, in part, that the term nuclear, biological or chemical weapon of mass destruction applies to "any substance that is designed or has the capability to cause death or serious injury and ... is or contains toxic or poisonous chemicals or their immediate precursors."
The chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamine are toxic and highly combustible.
But there's no guarantee that this will be squashed. Wilson may simply be imprudently using a law that is unconscionably vague. In the Village Voice, he is quoted as saying,
I understand the title of the statute is antiterrorism, but the statute is much more broad than that," he said. "There's nothing in the statute that requires any organized terrorist effort. There's nothing in the statute that requires that these chemicals be used as a weapon.
That's right, the terrorism statute has nothing to do with terrorism. And Wilson isn't a lone nut: other North Carolina DA's are now looking to use the statute to prosecute drug crimes.
Forsyth County District Attorney Tom Keith said his office's policy now is that "we will put B1 felonies [the more serious crimes under the "terrorism" statute] on anyone having anything to do with methamphetamines. These things are very dangerous."
That is the logic of law enforcement. It tends toward control, not liberty. That's why it matters when laws are passed that they be precisely crafted. Trusting those enforcing the law is never sufficient; no matter how good their intentions or how grave the threats from which they seek to protect us. (story via Yuri Guri, who always has good stuff).

 

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The Real Mountain

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03
When a train meets a canoe, it is the beginning of a great adventure.

And so it begins. Web translations are notoriously bad, but this one is, well, kind of beautiful.


 

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Face Front...Or Else

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03

You can hardly call someone backwards nowadays without giving offense.

I know this country is full of good people: people who will pull over to help you change a tire; people you'd trust to watch your kids; people who are solid and dependable. But a lot of those people are still backwards. And they do passive-- if not active--harm to their fellow citizens. I'm not necessarily an advocate of gay marriage (it makes a lot of sense for government to get out of the marriage business entirely) but I'm wholly against those who oppose it.

Via Buzzmachine, take a look at this article from Norway, which legalized gay marriage 13 years ago and has a homosexual Minister of Finance. (I did love this sweetly naive statement):

Even the Norwegian Conservative Party, who is strongly represented in government, has a number of prominent members who are openly homosexual....

Yes, well, and what makes the author think the same isn't true here? [See the clarification of this stupid claim in the comments.]

But it's not just those wacky liberal Scandinavians. Did you know this?

In Europe, 10 countries have legalized homosexual marriages. The ten countries are France, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Finland, England, The Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Croatia. In certain areas of Spain and Switzerland homosexual marriages are legalised....

 

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Maybe You'd Like a Blog?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03
You can't say "fuck" in the New York Times.
The Pentagon held an all-day meeting a couple of weeks ago seeking ways to restrain North Korea. At the end of it, one expert turned to another and summed it up: "In other words, we're" doomed — except he used a pungent phrase I can't.
It's a quote! Why can't he write it?

 

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Daisies Spring Eternal

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03

Why do I even care? I don't know. Truth, justice, Bob Hope, what can I say? Christopher Hitchens, taking obvious pleasure in speaking ill of the beloved and recently deceased Bob Hope, writes that Hope just wasn't funny. That's got the ring of truth to it. I never heard him say anything funny. Luckily, Agenda Bender is around to set us straight (no offense, Bender crew).

It was the movies, Christopher. You know, those flickering things they project on the central white wall of darkened auditoriums. Those things that you don't make mention of in your piece. So you saw Hope twice at state functions late in his career doing his toastmaster's material and you weren't impressed? Weird, I thought those embassy dinners and Prince Phillip kiss-ass affairs were usually so edgy and blue. Don't blame Bob cause you were dumb enough to go, and even dumber in your expectations of what you'd find once you got there.
Hope was a very funny actor. I doubt I ever laughed at one of his stand up lines either, but I've laughed a thousand times at bits and business in his films.
So anyway, Hitch, don't judge Bob solely on his national treasure gigs and I won't base my opinion of you only on your occasional contra-auto-pilot glides.

There. RIP.


 

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You Do It, Then You Sell It

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03

I am ignorant of economics, so I have a nice, simple view of productivity: how much gets done. Apparently, the New Yorker's James Surowiecki, who is not ignorant, has the same view, because Robinson Hollister, professor of economics at Swarthmore, wrote in with this very helpful correction.

[Surowiecki] cites examples of wokers who supposedly can't be any more productive than they were years ago: musicians performing a Mozart string quintet can't play any faster, college professors can give only so many lectures...But this reflects a misunderstanding of productivity, which economists define as the ratio of the value of outputs to the value of inputs. Technology has, for example, enormously increased the productivity of musicians...the output now includes the value of recordings that are sold...the input of professors may be static, but the output, the value of knowledge transferred, is not. One crude way of to measure that value is in terms of the earnings of college graduates relative to those of, say, high school graduates, which have been more than keeping pace with the investment.

This changes entirely what I hear in the word "productivity." I should really take an economics class.


 

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Our Friends the Saudis

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03

What's next, the senior administration official with three nipples? First, we had the Scandal of the 16 Words, now we're gearing up for the Scandal of the 28 Pages.

But an official who has read the report [investigating 9-11] tells The New Republic that [Saudi] support described in the report goes well beyond [funding for charities with links to Al Qaeda]: It involves connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family. "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities," says this official. "They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government." ... The official who read the 28 pages tells The New Republic, "If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to Al Qaeda, they would have been in good shape." He adds: "If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight."

Big news, of course, and plenty for the Democrats to make a stink about. Why, for example, is the administration, which is sworn to protect American lives, instead protecting a regime that just may have the blood of Americans on its hands? I hope Michael Bowen is right that this will be a very big story, but I'm losing faith in the forces of outrage.


 

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If You Can Read This...

Posted by Ogged
on 08.02.03

I just saw this bumper sticker: "Except for slavery, Nazism, fascism and communism, war never solved anything."

Given the reflexively anti-war atmosphere where I live, it's a pretty useful corrective. But which war solved communism?


 

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Howling Back

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

The Daily Howler, generally the scourge of conservative liars, has been pushing the line that the press is doing President Bush a disservice by not understanding the distinction between "uranium from Niger" and "uranium from Africa." Instapundit, among others, has been making a lot of hay (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) on the Howler's back. But it's a bogus criticism of the press and My Ro-bot Life very helpfully lays out the facts.


 

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Blairing the Sun-Times

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

I think pranks are great, but I don't like to deliberately deceive people for fun. I do however, quite enjoy when others do it. (via Hit & Run)

(They should have been taking pictures when people walked by.)


 

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Remember this Guy?

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

I haven't gotten too excited about the Democratic primaries because it's so damn early yet. And here's a great example. In this New Republic piece (subscriber only) on Howard Dean a couple of weeks ago, there were these few intriguiging lines about John Edwards.

Senator John Edwards had been the Democratic Party's golden boy, with insiders swooning over his smarts, political talent, and Southern pedigree. But, after Edwards spent an interview evading questions and groping to articulate his own positions, pundits and party elders dumped all over him, with Bill Clinton reportedly advising him to bone up on policy before going public again.

(Always keep in mind the little-publicized fact that Clinton is backing Edwards.)

If you're a politician and Bill Clinton gives you advice, you take it.(subscriber)

an elderly, hunched-over man named Donald High, who has trouble walking, has risen to ask Edwards a question ... when High asks what Edwards will do about the fact that "people are getting laid off in this country by the thousands" while "there are still all these imports coming in destroying the quality of the goods in this country," I'm not the only one expecting a response of Clintonian empathy from the famously smooth ex-trial lawyer. Instead, Edwards launches into a detailed riff about tax incentives. He goes on at length about how we can replace the jobs that have already left with "economic revitalization zones" and a new "national venture capital fund," both of which would help attract entrepreneurs and businesses to hard-hit areas of the country. John Edwards--the guy with the pretty face and light resume who was expected to compensate for his lack of policy acumen with a compelling biography and an uncanny ability to connect with voters--has become a wonk.

Is it working?

Yet another woman [at a different, but recent gathering] approached the senator after the meeting broke up and told him, "I brought my six children here to show them how awful politicians are, but I'm leaving impressed." She asked for a picture with all her kids and the senator.

Did I say it's early yet? What the hell, I'm anonymous: Edwards takes the Democratic nomination.


 

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Breeder!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

I was speculating to someone last week that now that homosexuality is becoming decidedly mainstream, we're probably in for a few years of anti-gay Axl Rose-type fashion. It was, in retrospect, a stupid thing to say. Despite the fact that the homosexuals I know are a varied bunch (and nothing like the Queer Eye guys), I was operating with a fixed and stereotypical image of gay fashion (not unlike, say, Ali G's parody of it).

Andrew Sullivan, whose writing on his own site is so mendacious and self-satisfied that I can read it about once every two weeks, is nevertheless consistently good on gay issues. And his article in Salon today about "bears" in gay culture is an excellent demonstration of why I was so wrong.

Bears also resist the squeaky clean and feminized version of manhood that appears in most gay magazines and even pornography. Take a look at the Advocate and Out and you will barely find a man over 30 with a gut or a hairy chest anywhere. But that's what most men -- including gay men -- end up like! Bears in this sense represent the maturation of gay male culture. For the first time, we have a critical mass of older generations of gay men who have always been out but who don't identify with the boyishness and effeminacy of the old-school gay subculture. And they're not looking to replicate or mimic the male-female relationship in any way. Yes. There are "bears" and "cubs." But you are just as likely to find two mature, big guys who are simply into each other. As equals. As men.

If the Queer Eye crowd is somehow co-opted by the mainstream, gays as a whole are not. We won't get anti-gay fashion, we'll get other-gay fashion. (One assumption at work here--I think it's true and I wonder why--is that fashion works from the margins in: gay fashion, ghetto cool, prison chic.)

But that other-gay will be quite different indeed. Extravagent displays of self aren't a response to acceptance, but rejection. The "in your face" gayness that people claim is what bothers them about homosexuals is an effect and not a cause of the marginalization of homosexuality. Homosexuality will become mainstream in two senses: people will accept gays, even in their outré guise; but that guise will lose its purpose and gays really will act more like heteros.

In our cities, at any rate, we can now wait for the backlash in the gay community against straight acting homosexuals. Call it progress.


 

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Height makes right

Posted by Bob
on 08.01.03

Slate has this piece on the premiere of Tall, a magazine for the tall.

One of my favorite comic strips, Stephen Hersh and Nina Paley's The Hots, featured this commentary on the virtues of shortness. (Nina Paley, by the way, is a brilliant animator and an eloquent environmentalist. Hooray for her having a steady day job!)

Please, never use that tired pseudo-PC-ism vertically challenged. It was funny for about a half a second fifteen years ago, and even then it wasn't nearly as funny as some truly clever ones: e.g., canine-American (for dogs) and differently tolerant (for bigots). Furthermore, short people (disclosure: I'm not tall) have verticality, just not tallness. And also, challenged implies that greater verticality is better, and no one who would use such a term would want to say that. As a satire of political correctness, vertically challenged is sloppy -- it lampoons form but ignores logic. To be truly vertically challenged is to be supine in a world that privileges the erect.


 

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Use Shorter Rulers!

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03
Unf has vowed to return seeking vengeance. In the meantime, I note that of the bloggers here, he is the only one likely to have any German blood.
Germany has demanded a rethink on EU guidelines on condom size after finding its average penis did not measure up ... Urologist Gunther Hagler, head of the team compiling the research, said: "By checking hundreds of patients we found German penises were too small for standard EU condoms."
(via Buzzmachine)

 

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Maybe I Invented Walking

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

Does this joker really want to copyright yoga? Larry Lessig has more.



 

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Too bad they didn't ask about driving in the bike lane

Posted by Bob
on 08.01.03

Found at Butterflies and Wheels: this morality-profile test. Go ahead and take it -- turns out I'm highly unlikely to judge you for it.


 

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Heil Beetle

Posted by Ogged
on 08.01.03

Doesn't anyone else find it exceedingly strange that the Volkswagen Beetle, beloved of millions, is Adolph Hitler's brainchild?


 

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The Way to Really Fly

Posted by Ogged
on 07.31.03

Take this how you will. It may be good, it may be bad, but I figured it was worth passing along.

If I'd been one of the 19 hijackers, no one would have thought my face looked out of place when they flashed it on the screen. If there are Iranians around, they don't ask before addressing me in Farsi. To Iranians, I look Iranian; to Americans, I look Middle-Eastern; no question.

I've gone through at least twenty airport screenings since September 11, 2001. Either they're not profiling, not profiling based on ethnicity, or just doing a horrible job because I'm treated as if I have a special exemption. I cruise through every time. The Hispanic guy in line in front of me, "randomly selected." The 50-ish midwestern woman behind me, "could you step over here ma'am?" Me? "Have a nice flight." I was "randomly screened" once. In Canada.


 

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Poindexter Out

Posted by Ogged
on 07.31.03

Ain't it the way. John Poindexter will resign, and it won't be for any of his really bad ideas.


 

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Just Testing

Posted by Ogged
on 07.31.03

At the risk of breaking the site, I'm trying a new extended entry feature.

Click away! First one to break it wins.


 

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Ho Hum

Posted by Ogged
on 07.31.03
I knew all that birthing is hard talk was just propaganda.
After the train left North Quincy, while crossing the Neponset River around 7:20 a.m., passengers reported hearing a muffled groan. Judge, dressed in a pink velour top and matching skirt, stood in the middle of the fourth car. Suddenly, her water broke.
''At first I thought someone spilled coffee, but it kept dripping,'' said Chin, 32. ''But she stood staring out the window ... I started doubting what I saw.''
About 90 seconds later, Chin said, ''I saw a head, then full baby fall out from her skirt, hit the floor sideways and slide the length of the doorway, stopping when he bumped up against the next row of seats. Still she stared out the window. Either she didn't know it happened or didn't want to acknowledge it.''
Judge bent down, picked up the baby and wrapped it in her scarf, Chin said.
Nice gory details in the story.

 

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Time to exercise our political choice

Posted by Bob
on 07.31.03

Saw this through a link from Freakgirl. It's an article reporting the Senate's rejection of tougher fuel-economy standards for US cars.

Freakgirl's "Arrrgh" is right. The Republicans express horror at the supposed diminution of "choice":

"What about choice? This is still America," said Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. He brought to the Senate floor a picture of a European mini-car, declaring, "I don't think we should be forced to drive that automobile."

Suddenly the GOP are the defenders of diversity? Republican America is going to back my right to choose marriage partners? At least gay marriage does less tangible harm (I'd say no harm) to the community, the nation, and the world than does a Hummer.


 

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Don't it always seem to go

Posted by Bob
on 07.30.03

I just have to point this out, just because the Counting Crows cover of "Big Yellow Taxi" is on the radio all the time now and it's been annoying me:

No one would pave paradise to put up a parking lot. Anyplace that would likely be called "paradise" wouldn't be near enough to shops, office buildings, etc., to make a parking lot worthwhile. How about, "They paved an empty lot and put up a parking lot"?

That said, there's a parking-lot epidemic going on in Center City Philadlephia. Urban revitalization projects are either abandoned for more parking lots, or the revitalization projects are parking lots. Empty cars mean easy profit, urban vitality be damned.


 

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Mmmmm

Posted by Ogged
on 07.30.03
It's the food post. My fiancee and I love to eat. We eat often, we eat a lot, we'll try just about anything. Our birthday present to one another is always dinner at a (we hope) great restaurant. So here are a few things on the web that I've found really helpful. (Yes, Unf, they include...recipes!) You already know about Zagat, but one of the best ways to find new restaurants (whether they're cheap lunch spots or hoity-toity dinner places) is Chowhound. The Chowhound message boards are where foodies go to swap tips, stories, and reviews. I've found some of my favorite lunch places there and it's a great place to post questions like "I have people who like X coming to visit me, where should I take them for Y dollars per person?" and "Where can a guy get decent Korean in this town?" You can lurk and search and find out about things you've probably walked past a dozen times. Eating out is fun, but it's expensive and, after a while, exhausting. So... This article on grilling steak, which was posted just today, is clear and helpful. Everybody eats pasta but you shouldn't ever have to have pasta with sauce from a jar. This is one of many homemade sauce recipes that's very simple and delicious. I made this just this week. Risotto is wonderful and it's a great dish to serve if you have to feed vegetarians. If you come over for dinner at our place, you'll either get risotto or one of the Iranian dishes my fiancee (god bless her) has mastered. If you get risotto, I will have made it according to these instructions. So, if you're in town, let me know (the challenge, of course, is to know which town, but I'll leave that to you) and we can sit down to a nice meal together.

 

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With My Own Eyes

Posted by Ogged
on 07.30.03

It's a comment on how the US is perceived by Iraqis, but, even more, a comment on the effects of totalitarianism that Iraqis believe Qusay and Uday are dead, not when their corpses are shown on television, but when an audio tape of unknown provenance, said to carry the voice of Saddam, calls them martyrs.


 

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Hope is for the Hopeless

Posted by Ogged
on 07.29.03

I've been thinking of having a contest. Sometime in the next week or so, co-blogger Unf would be replaced by my couch and it would be up to you to guess when the change was made. I know, I know, it's a very hard game. But the rewards are commensurate: the winner gets to blog here just as much as Unf (which is to say, he or she can leave the occasional comment).

I've been thinking about this in light of Unf's unfullfilled promise to review Liz Phair's latest album, which he ordered lo over one month ago and promised last week to review "by Sunday" (yes, he's a lawyer, and no, he didn't say which Sunday). You see, I'm ready to go with my not-even-promised review of Malinky, which I mentioned as a mere tip to our dear readers on the very same day that Unf ordered his Phair (did I mention that I found Liz Phair's phone number for Unf (really) and he didn't even call her?) Anyway, I wasn't content to leave the Malinky plug hanging on one listened-to song so I hopped on Amazon.uk and ordered their CDs. Now, of course, I've ripped and uploaded them for your listening pleasure (haha! just kidding, Forces of Evil, just kidding).

In fact, the CDs are well worth buying. About half of each CD is wonderful and the rest, depending on your taste, quite good (I'm not a fan of instrumentals and don't really enjoy the male singer). But the lead female vocalist, Karine Polwart, is awesome. On 3 Ravens she begins "Thaney," the ballad of a daughter unwilling to marry, a capella, and it doesn't take all of these twenty-five seconds to fall in love. On the other CD, Last Leaves, "Alison Cross" is the witch spurned by the man she wants. And my favorite song, "3 Ravens" is gentle and spooky at once.

So it's not a proper review so much as a catalog of likes, but that's what you need, yes? If the clips sound good, either CD should please. Check them out.


 

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Look Ma, No Pants

Posted by Ogged
on 07.29.03
You'll recall my weekend of skin. It's good to see the major media taking an interest.

 

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Saddam

Posted by Ogged
on 07.29.03
Saddam "mourns" his sons on a tape released today. How badly this man miscalculated! What was he thinking during the prelude to war? Now his sons, groomed and spoiled for almost 40 years, are dead. I imagine him recalling some recent conversation in which Qusay perhaps said that the Americans are bluffing; that they can be waited out. What horrible thoughts he has in his head!

 

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Back in Your Box

Posted by Ogged
on 07.29.03
When Gary Farber talks, people listen.



 

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We're All Purple Now

Posted by Ogged
on 07.29.03

I've often gone in for the Red/Blue dichotomy and Brad DeLong says, in effect, that I'm an idiot. It looks like he's right.

MORE: James Joyner has a map with another interesting way to look at the results.

YET MORE: Fascinating ways of representing the data.

AHA!: The best map so far. More cool things here. Make your own maps here.


 

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I Respectfully Dissent

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03

This is so good I have trouble believing it's true. A Colorado teen aimed some vociferous and colorful dissent at a vice-principal and was hit with a disorderly conduct charge. The boy's public defender, Eric Vannatta (who also seems to be the lead singer of Spleen Dingo) filed a motion which is an instant classic, not just for its enumeration of constitutionally protected things you can say to authority figures, but particularly for it's verve.

In fact, one of the most well known comedic skits in American history is George Carlin's "Seven Dirtiest Words," two of which are Fuck and Motherfucker. Andrew Dice Clay, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Robin Williams and countless others have used the Fuck family to entertain audiences across the land, enriching their lives with the entertainment and comedic value of Fuck and its progeny.

And the most trenchant piece of legal reasoning I've ever read,

The state has the power to protect its citizenry from actual harm, and thus has the power to outlaw yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater. See, Schenk v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919). However, yelling "Fuck!" in a crowded theatre does not create a clear and present danger to anyone and cannot be outlawed. Although they are both four letter words that start with F, the distinction is constitutionally significant.

Go see Spleen Dingo.


 

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With This Phone...

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03
This should put an end to all those spurious debates about the compatibility of Islam and modernity.


(via Gizmodo)

 

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And God Will Provide the Water

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03

Philip Greenspun spins an interesting hypothetical. Since California is such a big and unwieldy political hodgepodge, why not split it up?

Wouldn't Californians be happier if they were broken up into the following states:
1) San Diego and its exurbs
2) Los Angeles and its exurbs, including Santa Barbara
3) Palm Springs and the surrounding desert
4) Central (the Big Sur coast all the way inland)
5) San Francisco/Sacramento and their exurbs
6) Northern California, capital at Chico or Santa Rosa (redwoods, ranches, etc.)
Now we have six reasonable size states in which citizens are usually within a 2-hour drive from their state government officials and never more than a 5-hour drive from their state capitol.

Surely someone can cook up a ballot measure to get this done.


 

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It's the knowledge, stupid!

Posted by Bob
on 07.28.03

The Bushies' Climate Change Science Program plan was published last week. Exciting stuff, according to the press release:

The strategic plan will advance the state of knowledge of climate variability, the potential response of the climate system (and related human and environmental systems) to human-induced changes in the atmosphere and land surface, and the implications of these potential changes and management options for natural environments. The plan will also support scientific discovery and excellence, and encourage partnerships that facilitate the use of knowledge to protect the Earth's environment and ensure a safer, healthier planet for future generations.

Advancing the state of knowledge and supporting scientific discovery! I'm a scientist, so I'm thrilled that (a) there will soon be truckloads of dollars emptying into my research-expense budget and that (b) Bush et al. are so committed to the generation of new scientific knowledge. I mean, it has to be about discovery -- you know, de-novo knowledge -- since there's so much we don't understand about global warming. All we know is (1) that the world is getting warmer, (2) how the world is getting warmer, (3) that fossil-fuel combustion is largely responsible, (4) that planet-scale changes to climatic, hydrological, ecological, and economic systems will result, and (5) that we can slow or even stop the damage by changing how we get and use energy. All that knowledge is obviously nullified by what we don't know: (1) whether warming is completely caused by fuel consumption or just largely caused by it, (2) whether the climate will change catastrophically in forty or change catastrophically in eighty years, and (3) exactly which senators' constituencies will face exactly what dollar-amounts' worth of economic upheaval.

Because when you're an energy-industry patriot, only our ignorance counts.

(There's one piece of knowledge they have accepted, and readily: the climate is changing slowly enough that Bush and friends will be sipping pina coladas in balmy Maine before they have to face any political consequences of their (and our) inaction.)

And as for those truckloads of dollars, all I have to do is figure out how to apply for all the money that must have been allocated to this, what is clearly a high-priority issue in the Bush White House.


 

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100 Years of History

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03

We have a 16 year-old intern here and I heard him telling someone the news that Bob Hope had died. Given that Hope was already 84 when our intern was born, I couldn't help but ask, "Intern, what does Bob Hope mean to you? Have you seen him on television?" To which he replied, quite seriously, "I saw him once. But I know who he is. History is one of my favorite subjects."


 

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Townes Van Zandt

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03
Lots of song lyrics don't make much sense, but it's not so often that something doesn't make any apparent sense and still makes your hair stand up. If you don't know the late Townes Van Zandt, he, and particularly the album Abnormal, are amazing: bleak and tough and beautiful. We were listening to Abnormal in the car when the song "Lungs" came on. It ends like this.
Jesus was an only son and love his only concept strangers cry in foreign tongues and dirty up the doorstep and I for one, and you for two ain't got the time for outside just keep your injured looks to you we'll tell the world we tried
Yeesh. What's that about? Dunno, but when you hear him sing it, at the end of the long dark road that is Abnormal, it gets your complete attention.

 

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Mustafa

Posted by Ogged
on 07.28.03

Two other people were killed in the raid that killed Uday and Qusay Hussein. One, apparently, was Uday's bodyguard, and the other was Qusay's fourteen year-old son. Reports are that the son, Mustafa, was the last person living, and was shooting at the Americans until they moved in and shot him. I find the image I have of that scene endlessly evocative: a fourteen year-old boy with his father and uncle dead around him, shooting at the hundreds of oncoming soldiers--themselves mostly kids, not much older--and what moves him? Rage? Fear? Simple filial evil? (In Iran they say Mustafa was himself already a murderer). We can't know, of course, and it doesn't really matter. Saddam is still on the run, but his legacy was in that room, and it's fixed in the image of a doomed boy with a gun.


 

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Magik, Poof!

Posted by Ogged
on 07.27.03

Early, stalwart, and always entertaining commenter Magik Johnson's umbrage appears to be real, as he seems to have disappeared. Of course, there are no obligations to blog, let alone comment, but Magik, it's not the same without you around here.


 

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Condi News

Posted by Ogged
on 07.27.03
Why do the journalists I know say the Washington Post is far better than the New York Times? Because of stories like this (special kudos to Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus) that need to be written, that people wonder about, but that only a good journalist can flesh out. Condoleezza Rice's free pass has finally been revoked.
The remarks by Rice and her associates raise two uncomfortable possibilities for the national security adviser. Either she missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false.
Lots of good detail in the article.

 

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They Live

Posted by Ogged
on 07.27.03

This isn't quite like the Checkershadow illusion Brad DeLong posted a while back, but it's pretty amazing nonetheless (look from one shape to another to see what I mean). (via Attu)


 

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Duck (Or Not, If You're Into That Sort of Thing)

Posted by Ogged
on 07.27.03

I've driven on the Autobahn just once (in an underpowered station wagon at night in the snow with a big-haired middle rear seat passenger) and the threat of flying underwear was never far from my mind. (via Freakgirl, who, I've heard, keeps her underwear from going airborn by sitting on it.)


 

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Depp

Posted by Ogged
on 07.27.03

Just saw Pirates of the Caribbean. If you're a Johnny Depp fan, as I am, I think you'll find it a lot of fun. [I forgot to add how amusing it was to see Jack Davenport, from Coupling, playing a serious--nearly villanous!--role.] It's a good couple of hours!

For another Johnny Depp movie that you probably haven't seen, Dead Man is, by some accounts, the best American movie of the last decade, and by others, disappointing and pretentious. I'm much closer to the former view. It's long, but if you're in the mood for something different, watch it with some friends and have a big argument.


 

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