Blogging and making a trip to surprise a regular reader of the blog are a tough combination. I just arrived at my motel and will see the victim in about 20 minutes so I think it's safe to say I'm away and won't be able to blog this weekend.
Me: Is an internet connection available in the rooms?
Hotel Guy: Each room has a dataport, you just plug your computer into that.
Me: Great, so I just take my ethernet cable, plug it in and I'm all set.
Me: Great. And what's the charge for that?
HG: The first twenty minutes are free for local calls.
ME: I'm confused. Is it an ethernet connection or a dial-up?
HG: Um, I just spent seven years in the woods. I'm not very computer savvy. I pride myself on not having a cell phone.
Me: Ok. Thanks.
It's a dial-up. I think this post will cost me about $5.
As we were cruising at 31000 feet, I had a thought I can't believe I haven't had before: we would just barely clear Everest.
Enjoy your weekends! Provocative comments will receive provocative replies at my earliest opportunity!
John Caudwell, the multi-millionaire owner of high street retailer Phones 4u, has banned staff from using e-mailCaudwell, reportedly,
estimates the ban will save staff three hours a day and his company at least £1 million a month in saved time.The article notes that the ban is just for internal communications; clients can still reach people at the company via email. But three hours a day? On internal communications? If I may borrow a phrase, those are some charming m---erf---ing emailers. What everyone (except Mr. Caudwell) knows, of course, is that the greatest time suck ever created is the Web. What they seem not to know, however, is that you don't have to "implement" some complicated technological solution that tries to balance access to a research tool with potential for wasted time: just make sure that desks are configured so that monitors are visible to passers-by. The self-policing is a thing of beauty.
Did the Economist really just run this story?
Cell phone use in Italy is high, because we all know Italians love to talk.
Not normally in the van of technological progress, the Italians so love chatting that they nevertheless shot to near the top of international tables of comparative statistics on mobile-phone use.
But, alas, phone use in Italy may go back down, because we all know Italians love to sleep around.
But this summer a note of diffidence has crept in. Mobiles may be great for chatting but they can get in the way of something else that in Italy is almost as popular. According to the Rome-based Miriam Tomponzi detective agency, 87% of cases of marital infidelity established by its sleuths in Europe in the past year came to light because of tell-tale traces left on mobile telephones.
It's almost enought to make you wish you were British.
You must read this. Sign up for the trial subscription if you are not a member. Jonathan Chait begins,
I hate President George W. Bush.
And he goes on to speak for just about everyone in my social circle. I know Bush has his defenders here (or, at least, has people who resist his bashers), and I'd love to hear from them.
To be a liberal today is to feel as though you've been transported into some alternative universe in which a transparently mediocre man is revered as a moral and strategic giant. You ask yourself why Bush is considered a great, or even a likeable, man. You wonder what it is you have been missing. Being a liberal, you probably subject yourself to frequent periods of self-doubt. But then you conclude that you're actually not missing anything at all. You decide Bush is a dullard lacking any moral constraints in his pursuit of partisan gain, loyal to no principle save the comfort of the very rich, unburdened by any thoughtful consideration of the national interest, and a man who, on those occasions when he actually does make a correct decision, does so almost by accident.
Go. Sign up. Read it all.
MORE: Also in TNR, Ramesh Ponnuru has a response to Chait.
Very interesting analysis in Foreign Affairs of the distribution of the settler population in Israel. According to this piece, only a very small fraction of the settlers live in areas that wouldn't likely be annexed by Israel in a two-state solution (as in the 2000 Clinton plan). In other words, despite the symbolic significance of the settlements and the attention they receive, actually evacuating the ones that would need to evacuated wouldn't entail the displacement of very many people.
Michael Bowen has been taking on the tough questions lately.
What does it mean to be a black blogger?
Why I am a republican.
Moxie is having olfactory issues.
You know you are getting old when it's difficult to distinguish the latest and greatest men's cologne from simple but obvious body odor ... Having always been a fan of men who smell like plain old soap, I decided to investigate. The men's cologne bottles at Fred Segal confirmed my suspicion -- musk is the new clean ... Is this what women want in their men -- that they should spend 60 bucks or more to smell like they just spent 10 days crawling on their belly through the Amazon rain forests?
I think that question is rhetorical. But here's one that isn't: who wears cologne anyway? I mean, aside from foreign men who haven't been told by some nice American girl that they smell funny. I don't know anybody who wears cologne. Who's buying this stuff?
Kucinich presumably has a lock on the vegan vote. In 2000, that was a whopping 0.9% of Americans responding to this poll. In the East and in big cities -- notorious GOP strongholds -- vegans are 1.9%. If Kucinich can rope in some of the dairy-eating vegetarians, he can probably count on some fraction of 2.2% of rural voters, 1.6% of white voters, and 9.4% of Latino voters! (The poll sponsors think that figure might be a mistake.)
I'm still looking for the statistics on funny-looking voters and those who care mostly about instant-runoff voting.
After our first interview, with Liat Weingart, an activist with A Jewish Voice for Peace, some Muslims, most of whom seemed to reside in Arab countries, condemned us. One angry reader wrote, "This is shameful. How would you like it if your daughters hugged Jewish men for kicks." We even received some mail from Jews telling us that we weren't hugging the "right" Jews.
Ok ok, uncle. Yet more on the readable scrambled words. Dormouse says that redundancy and visual cues let us read the text, not any"whole word" recognition. The mouse will explain, if you want more information.
Ok, I think it's safe to come out now. Here are the reasons Dennis Kucinich cannot possibly be elected. Each is nearly sufficient; together, you get...Dennis Kucinich.
1. "Department of Peace."
2. He's funny-looking.
3. He's a vegan.
1 and 2 are bad, but 3 is the killer. Of course, because you're sharp-eyed, you'll note that I still haven't given an "argument" or an explanation for why those are so bad. But I'll do better than that. Here's my new wager for anyone willing to take it up. Pick your odds, pick your stakes, I don't care. Not only will Kucinich not win a single primary, he won't ever be in the top three finishers.
(Second note to Feds: No wagering intended or accepted. This post was written solely to annoy John Turri. Thanks for reading!)
Bizarre fact I'll bet you didn't know: Kim Jong Il was born in Russia and his given name is Yuri.
From a New Yorker article that isn't online, unfortunately.
JetBlue, with its great name, slick website, and DirecTV for each passenger, sounds like a great bet to become the yuppie's darling airline.
CAPPS II is the proposed system for tracking airline passengers and assigning them each a "threat rating" based on classified information and criteria.
Put them together and you have a very good reason to boycott JetBlue.
UPDATE: Here's a newer article on the story.
And about as close to an outright admission and apology as you'll get from a corporation.
"We made a special exemption for this one exceptional case," said Gareth Edmundson-Jones, a spokesman for JetBlue. "We clearly have to review internally the decision and reconsider our policies."
The article also clarifies that JetBlue was not working with the government on CAPPS II, but that seems a trivial point, in light of the fact that JetBlue did share information with the government, whether it was for CAPPS II or some other program or test.
If you hold it up to the light, you can make out something about "Little Ricky."
Harold Bloom is a pompous ass who can't even be bothered to live up to the first responsibility of intellectual life, which is to do your homework and respect the difficulties that are native to complex ideas and arguments.
Anybody on the right who has bothered to sally forth against pompous left-wing intellectuals for their isolation from everyday life, for their elitism, ought to be just as drawn to criticism of Bloom at this point. That won't happen, because he plays a tune on their favored banjo, a tune that a certain species of strangely paradoxical anti-intellectual intellectual wannabee finds perversely soothing.
Yeah! Stick to playing Legolas, Bloom, and leave the literary criticism to those of us who actually read.
You get up every morning, you work hard all day, you try to do right by friends and family. And still, the Houston Astros continue to win baseball games. What does a guy have to do in this life to get the Astros to lose? I am prepared to give up various pieces of my anatomy to make this happen, so if you have productive suggestions, let me know.
This is a pretty good article on Clark (sorry, it's news, I'm going with the flow). There are some criticisms that sound reasonable.
The bigger question for Clark beckons. Why was Kosovo a good idea, but Iraq not? ...
Clark doesn't handle that question as deftly as you'd expect. Not even close, actually. "The imminence of stopping a guy from committing a crime in progress—it wasn't there," he says of Saddam. "In Kosovo you had ethnic cleansing actually unfolding, and we had intervened to stop it. But history will judge us on many things, there are many evil regimes in the world, there are many people that do things that are wrong....Some terrible things have happened in Burma, for example," he says, leaving the point—we're not talking about regime change in Burma, right?—unsaid. ...
At some point during this answer, the image of gravitas that a general and NATO commander has begins, shall we say, to fray a bit.
That section of the interview is on this page.
I really am going to start a collection. Thanks to digby for the pointer to this one. On Crossfire, Bob Novak just said of Wesley Clark,
Did you know that he was not going to get his fourth star; they were going to get him out of the Army, and he lobbied Bill Clinton to intervene for him? Did you know that?
To which digby retorts,
Shocking, shocking accusations. I certainly hope that they get to the bottom of the scandal by investigating which other nefarious people gave the miscreant his first 3 stars, not to mention his silver star and purple hearts.
The Swedish Police have arrested a suspect in the murder of Anna Lindh.
I'm fairly certain that if I were alone on Antarctica and said something about Windows vs. Mac, a vicious argument would start somewhere. Nevertheless, I have to ask this question. I use a PC, but I've considered switching to a Mac. But I'm always stumped by the one-button mouse. My current mouse has 8 buttons and I use them all regularly. Why, Mac people, why just one button?
Gender is the great unspoken force in American politics. It's every bit as powerful as race and class, perhaps more so because it seldom gets addressed. The fear and loathing that feminism inspires in many men (most of whom won't admit their terror) have enabled the Republicans to adapt the racial strategy that won them the South to the contours of sexual politics. The result is a gender gap in which straight white men root for Republicans while women and minorities lean Democratic....
You can bet your brewski that Democratic strategists are searching for a candidate with the right kind of masculine presentation, one that seems nurturing to women and reassuring to men. This is where Clark comes in. If Clinton was a bottom-feeding Rhett Butler, Clark is Ashley Wilkes. And because he's struggled for his genteel bearing, the way folks who rise in the military often do, it looks much more accomplished than Bush's G.I. George act.I think the "nurturing/reassuring" observation is sharp. And then there was this line, which expresses what I was getting at here.
That begs the question of whether falling for the military mystique can be anything but a patriarchal gesture. I worry about that, but at this point I'm willing to settle for anyone who advances the process of social change, even modestly.Voting for a general should make us nervous. In a democracy, Daddy shouldn't be the ideal candidate. But here we are, in a shootout if not a war; a lot of the country is scared and angry, and a genteel general may be the Democrat's best bet.
I know there's some hand-wringing among bloggers about how blogwriters are parasites, picking nits off of the mainstream media. (Purists might note that nit-picking is beneficial to the host, so the relationship is mutualistic rather than parasitic). I'd like to propose another ecological metaphor, and it has to do with the power-law distribution of blog visitations which Clay Shirky wrote about in an oft-linked piece some time ago. (Thanks to Timothy Burke of Easily Distracted, who pointed me to the Shirky piece, also a while ago.)
In many unmanaged forests, plant size (measured as diameter near the base of the plant) follows a power-law distribution, with very few plants in the largest size classes and the vast majority of plants in the smaller classes. There's a theory in plant ecology that in forest communities, the very few large trees control the dynamics of the many many small understory plants. Big trees determine where there are small flecks of light, where there are small pockets of water or soil nitrogen. Big trees create the patchy matrix which most of the forest plants struggle to negotiate. One evolutionary result is that plants of understory species are more likely than big trees to have flexible physiological and morphological traits -- phenotypic plasticity, it's called -- which give them the ability to grab the light or nitrogen or whatever wherever it is. The flexible things these plants do, however, are always small in magnitude: fewer photons or picograms of nitrogen are at stake, and so their acquisition doesn't noticeably affect the larger matrix.
So here's the assertion: blogs are like forest plants. There are a few redwoods: Instapundit, Crooked Timber. There are the oxalises and azaleas, which I'd say include Unfogged. And what's the resource -- the sun flecks and nitrogen pockets? I'd say ideas, issues, arguments. (Why are they limited? Only because no one wants to write what's been written elsewhere already, especially if the elsewhere is very prominent.)
Here are the predictions, and I'm curious to know whether you think they hold:
(1) Understory blogs must have plasticity, so they discuss larger ranges of topics than do the redwoods.
(2) Understory blogs make smaller points -- linguistic fine-points or shades of meaning, say -- than do the redwoods.
(3) Understory blogs refer to redwood blogs more often than the other way around.
Note that I'm not saying that understory blogs are unimportant -- understory plants are almost all the living biomass of the forest. Remember that most of a mature redwood's standing biomass is dead.
Ok, Clark is officially in.
Sure, some people are more guilty than others. But if that's your obsession, I commend to you the words of my colleague, Jack Shafer: If you're interested in which wing lies more, you're probably not very interested in the truth.I'm not sure what to say about this. It's one of those topics where I'm so aware of my own bias that I figure I can't possibly add anything worthwhile. Honestly (if I may use that word here), I'm not sure I do care about the truth right now. UPDATE: Busy Busy Busy nicely summarizes Saletan.
I'm all for decriminalization of pot, but I admit I didn't see this coming.
Some of the first patients to smoke Health Canada's government-approved marijuana say it's "disgusting" and want their money back.
"It's totally unsuitable for human consumption," said Jim Wakeford, 58, an AIDS patient in Gibsons, B.C. "It gave me a slight buzziness for about three to five minutes, and that was it. I got no other effect from it."
Surely the government can hire people with the necessary expertise.
My fiancee, tired of being a graduate student slug, is getting back into shape. Today, she came home with a book: The Russian Kettlebell Challenge: Xtreme Fitness for Hard Living Comrades. Oh god.
For all of you interested in progressive politics in Illinois (and, really, who isn't), you should check out this site.
For those of you looking to smear Howard Dean, this article provides some interesting ammunition.
Born December 23, 1944, he spent most of his childhood in Little Rock, raised by his mother Veneta and stepfather Victor Clark. Only during his twenties, he says, did Wesley discover that the father who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 51 when he was five was Jewish – and that his own middle name Kanne was that of his father Benjamin Jacob Kanne.
[Another Democratic Presidential hopeful, Roman Catholic Sen. John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts, recently told voters that his ancestry was not Irish, as voters had been misled to believe, but was Jewish. Including Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D.-Conn.), Democrats thus could field three ancestrally "Jewish" candidates for President.]...
General Wesley Clark speaks fluent Russian and could become the first American President to do so. Why he has not boasted of this in campaigning for Leftist Democratic support is a mystery....
Wesley commanded a mechanized infantry company in Vietnam, was wounded four times but was awarded one Purple Heart...
Wesley was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford ... The Rhodes Scholarships had been set up by British imperialist Cecil Rhodes to educate the brightest American youngsters in England, a once-secret codicil in his will made clear, so that they would go home and help bring America back under the political sway of the British Empire....
What happened at Waco was the death, mostly by fire, of at least 82 men, women and children, including two babies who died after being "fire aborted" from the dying bodies of their pregnant mothers.
Planning for this final assault involved a meeting between Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno and two military officers who developed the tactical plan used but who have never been identified.
Some evidence and analysis suggests that Wesley Clark was one of these two who devised what happened at Waco....
As SACEUR General Wesley Clark would collect a truckload of honors. He would also prosecute Clinton's war siding with Muslim Kosovars against Serbian Christians in the Balkans....
Democrats who support Howard Dean or Dennis Kucinich for their anti-war stance should know that when Russians landed and took over one provincial airport in the region, General Clark commanded British forces to attack the Russians. British General Sir Mike Jackson reportedly refused, saying: "I'm not going to start the Third World War for you!"
Would peacenik Democrats really want General Wesley Clark, with a reputation for brutal and erratic behavior, one of those behind the events at Waco, to be only a heartbeat away from having his finger on the nuclear button? If he were Vice President, how safe would a liberal President be from attacks by fanatic former combat veterans? Can you take the risk of electing General Clark as your Vice President?
Would you like to replace your monitor with...thin air? Of course you would! Very nifty.
I don't own a gun, but I probably would if the decision were mine alone. This, I gather, is not the attitude of most liberals, who think guns are just evil. But is that really the attitude? This Philip Greenspun post (no need to read it, really--it's shockingly condescending) got me thinking about the Democrats' position on gun control.
From what I can tell, gun control matters a lot to the pro-gun crowd, but does it matter so much to liberals? Apart from a few reasonable laws--background checks, bans on assault weapons, very limited concealed carry--do liberals really oppose letting people own guns? (I know the NRA opposes even those measures, but I think it's fair to put their resistance in the context of the gun control crowd's avowed disdain for gun ownership as such.)
Don't the Democrats have quite a bit to gain from softening their anti-gun rhetoric? (Which rhetoric, it seems to me, is usually a way to avoid discussing underlying issues of poverty and hopelessness.) Isn't it likely that going pro-gun will attract more voters than it repels?
I can't tell if this is serious. I think I won't try to find out.
via Attu, again.
On the first Sunday of every September, hundreds of people gather in the main square for a rather unusual ceremony.
It is the annual Festival of the Ugly, in which the club's new president will be elected.The man who wins every year says,
"I am convinced - and others will agree with me - that in the end we will be the winners," Mr Iacobelli said.
"You know why? Because we are genuine, because we are like we are. We are the men and women we want to be, who are judged for what we are and not for what we seem."We all feel better now, surely. But some club members seem not to have quite taken the message to heart.
"Before I joined I was terrified of talking to women. Now I am less afraid and I have a wonderful wife - who also happens to be beautiful!"
Not only does alcohol make other people look better, it makes just about any place look like a urinal. If you live in a neighborhood with a lot of bars, you know this. But you might not have realized that now, there's the internet, and there are digital cameras, and that means...vigilante justice.
Lease ending on your current biosphere? Look no further!
Brits aren't impressed, but Americans recognize that even heroic self-absorption is heroic. From a funny story in the NYT about London's reaction to David Blaine:
Chris Alexander, a bartender and writer who had come from Boise, Idaho, specifically to see Mr. Blaine in the box, had worn the same clothes — black pants, a white windbreaker, and a black beret — every day, and tried to catch the illusionist's increasingly bleary eye.
"I give him the same wave, and I think there's been a glint of recognition," Mr. Alexander said. He attributed the egg-throwing and other episodes to simple jealousy. "They have to put him down because they can't fathom doing something like this in a million years," he said.
(By the way, Chris Alexander is from Berkeley, not Boise. And while he is a writer (Notes on the Synthesis of Form, A Pattern Language, The Nature of Order), he's an architect and design theorist, not a bartender. And he goes by Christopher Alexander. Watch for the embarrassed correction in tomorrow's Times.)
Blaine's own reaction to his feat: "The feeling of wonder is amazing."
Tucker Carlson is CNN's resident declared conservative. (I recently saw him at the airport; he looks rather like himself, but the bow-tie must be part of the on-air schtick). And here's what he says about GW Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes.
Then I heard that [on the campaign bus, Bush communications director] Karen Hughes accused me of lying. And so I called Karen and asked her why she was saying this, and she had this almost Orwellian rap that she laid on me about how things she'd heard -- that I watched her hear -- she in fact had never heard, and she'd never heard Bush use profanity ever. It was insane.
I've obviously been lied to a lot by campaign operatives, but the striking thing about the way she lied was she knew I knew she was lying, and she did it anyway. There is no word in English that captures that. It almost crosses over from bravado into mental illness.
I've proselytized for RSS readers before, but I don't know why I never thought to do this. Almost all RSS readers keep which sites you subscribe to in what's called an OPML file. Part of the work of beginning to use a feed reader is going to the sites you visit and adding their feeds to your tracking. But OPML files are easily exported and imported. So here's mine (you might need to do a "save target as...). Whichever reader you decide to use, you can probably just import this file as a starting point. And if you're a blogger who uses RSS, you should also publicize your OPML file and let other people track the sites you like.
I see there's also a web-based RSS reader service at Bloglines.com. I signed up to try it out and it's pretty good. So if you don't want to install anything on your computer, you might want to give it a try.