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Chechnya

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.04

Please read this excellent backgrounder on the Chechnya conflict.

One of the terrible dynamics in cases of horrific violence rooted in historical conflict is that one side often feels that the wrongs done to it have been ignored, with the consequence that when its agents inflict harm that gets a lot of attention, that side's first instinct isn't to express sympathy for the victims, but to see just further imbalance. The lack of sympathy, in turn, is interpreted as cold-blooded intransigence, and so on.

But the Chechens, as a group--inexcusable acts such as the one in Beslan notwithstanding--really are the victims, and dead Arabs among the perpetrators don't change that.

UPDATE: Matt Yglesias has more on this.


 

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Close Your Eyes

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.04

I don't know if this is about marketing or the law, but it's damn strange. Susanna Clarke has written a buzzy (that is, producing buzz) novel, so I went to the book's website and saw that underneath the author photo, there's this notice.

The above photo is not cleared for use in the US. Click here to download the US photo of Susanna Clarke.

What's that about?

And it's hard not to be amused by the fact that her non-US photo is a charming, humanizing, black and white picture, while the US pic makes her look like a cast member from Dynasty.


 

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Schnik Schnak Schnuk

Posted by Ogged
on 09.04.04

I love this game.

But now that I was here in a Washington bar on a Saturday night, surrounded by a crowd of onlookers in their 20's and 30's, I was nervous. Tournament Rock Paper Scissors proceeds a bit like a tennis competition: game, set, match. The first to win two games wins the set, the first to win two sets wins the match. The winner moves on to the next round; the loser, generally, is eliminated. I had never played under the stress of tournament conditions.

Some people go for the psychological approach.

In this case, I had a strong hunch that Mr. Taylor wouldn't throw scissors, just in case I did actually throw rock. So that left him paper or rock. So I played paper, because that meant I would either tie him (if he played paper) or beat him (if he played rock).
It was logic worthy of "The Princess Bride."

I think that's a mug's game. I prefer to choose my throws in advance.

I had read about predetermined three-throw gambits used in competition. I considered a few — Paper Dolls, Fistful of Dollars, the Bureaucrat — before settling on the Avalanche: Rock, Rock, Rock.

Naturally, my combinations are more sophisticated than all rock, all the time, but you'll find that out when you bring it on, baby.


 

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Objects

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

Are you kidding me? Can we just declare the New Crusades open and get on with it? Can we let kids die without using them to score unfair points in some bizarre petty political game? Check out Glenn Reynold's selective quoting of Matt Yglesias. And look at the picture at the top of the NY Times web page right now.

And look at what they cropped and magnified from.


Thanks, folks, for the straight story.

UPDATE: Matt takes exception on his own behalf. Incidentally, I emailed Glenn last night, to note how unfair his excerpt was; heard nothing.

MORE: Glenn responds. We don't need to get into just what the proper solution is in Chechnya. Just note that the clear meaning of Matt's post was that there is a solution, but it's unacceptable. (Imagine, for example, that a twin's organs are failing. One solution is to kill the other twin and harvest the organs. Most of us would find that unacceptable.) But Glenn quoted just one line from Matt's post and introduced it with this: ""Don't worry -- there's a solution:" Then he glossed it with this: "David Kaspar's advice is already taking hold!" Kaspar's "advice" was a parodic weak liberal response to terror.

That's a patent misrepresentation of what Yglesias wrote, and Glenn's two main responses, that some of the Beslan terrorists weren't even Chechen, and that he linked to the full post anyway, don't change the basic fact.


 

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Kids

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

Ugh. No idea what to say. The pictures give you an idea--be warned, they're disturbing.


 

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My Week as a Rube

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

If you missed it, Michael Berube had some seriously funny convention coverage this week. Just keep scrolling.


 

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Welcome

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

Critic James Wolcott is blogging, and he has the knack. Great stuff.


 

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News

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

NY Times alert right now: Bill Clinton had a heart attack.

MORE: No one else is saying heart attack. The AP has this:

Former president Bill Clinton, after experiencing chest pains, is to have heart surgery for a quadruple bypass, media reports said Friday.
CBS News and CNN reported that Clinton, a former Arkansas governor, had gone to Columbia Presbyterian hospital in Manhattan with complaints of chest discomfort. ABC News said the former president would have a quadruple bypass on Friday.

MSNBC says surgery Saturday. (Now Tuesday.)


 

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Big words

Posted by Bob
on 09.03.04

Cool. Too bad they missed last night.


 

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Entourage

Posted by Ogged
on 09.03.04

Perhaps a little disintermediation is in order?

The agent of New Orleans Hornets point guard Baron Davis says he has advised Davis to explore options, including a possible trade request.

...

"It's tough for me to comment, but I trust my agent," Davis said in a statement released by his publicist. "He has my interest at heart. And I'm prepared for anything at this point.

So the publicist releases a statement about the agent. Honestly, people.


 

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I like this

Posted by Bob
on 09.03.04

More Saletan:

...guess what word—other than "a," "and," and "the"—occurs most frequently in the acceptance speech George W. Bush delivered tonight.

The word is "will." It appears 76 times. This was a speech all about what Bush will do, and what will happen, if he becomes president.

Except he already is president. He already ran this campaign. He promised great things. They haven't happened. So, he's trying to go back in time. He wants you to see in him the potential you saw four years ago. He can't show you the things he promised, so he asks you to envision them. He asks you to be "optimistic." He asks you to have faith.

[...]

My favorite moment was when Bush touted the No Child Left Behind Act. No more social promotion, he promised. "We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability."

Wasn't this speech, full of unfulfilled promises and appeals to good character, basically a plea for social promotion? Isn't that the message of the entire Bush campaign? Shouldn't the president have to show results, too?


 

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Memeorandum

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.04

I don't know why I haven't thought to recommend it before, but memeorandum is a very handy site, with an automated cataloguing of blog reactions to major stories. Take a look.


 

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Softening

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.04

I know I go on about our fellow citizens' willingness to make this a totalitarian country, but sometimes I forget something I shouldn't: blogdom is a weird and extreme place--filled with partisans writing for partisans. Look at the parallel universe reactions to Zell Miller's speech last night.

I missed seeing Zell nearly challenge Matthews to a duel, and Matthews backing down, according to several reader emails. Jacksonian America indeed! Reader Daniel Wilkins sends: "Chris M. looked like a dog getting a bath. I've never seen him so humbled."

...

Zell Miller was more effective tonight than any Republican could have been. John Kerry will have to answer, if he can.

Then here.

Zell indeed had a melt down. He got red hot and started stammering "get out of my face!" to Chris. Then, with nary a trace of irony or humor, Zell literally said "I wish these were the times when you could still challenge a man to a duel." Pathological.

...

He just freaking MELTED down on national TV. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.
The best part was where he said he wished he could challenge tweety to a duel. You could hear the crowd behind Matthews screaming and the other media people just laughing hysterically.
Unbelievable. We'll be seeing that video over and over and over. The man has made himself a total laughing stock.

Hopeless, right? But real people, even party people, are more reasonable. This is a very helpful post.

I wound up watching the convention with an unlikely bunch: a group of Deep South Republican delegates, including a semi-prominent member of Congress and a close buddy of a devout Senate right-winger ... What struck me was how liberal a group this was, given their state of origin. The biggest personality of the bunch was a gregarious 60-ish trial lawyer whom we'll call Walter. Though he spoke with a thick drawl, and revealed that he'd just come from dinner with his extremely conservative GOP senator friend, Walter described himself as a Rockefeller Republican who has become appalled by the religious right's influence within the party. He also called the invasion of Iraq "the dumbest thing we ever could have done." But while he clearly agrees with John Kerry on most issues, Walter seems to find Kerry an untrustable panderer ... Walter wasn't the only one who coupled lukewarm support for Bush with real animus toward Kerry. When I pressed another member of the group, a gung-ho party man married to a congresswoman, he admitted that he thought Bush had bungled the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But he, too, seemed more interested in bashing Kerry than defending Bush.

Chris Suellentrop also notes the "my guy's not great, but your guy really sucks" response. Most people can recognize that even the candidate they'll vote for is not ideal, and perhaps not even good. Partisanship motivates them to exaggerate the flaws of the opponent, but that's a pretty natural reaction, and doesn't exactly threaten the republic.


 

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Hurricanes and Celebrations

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.04

Freakgirl is getting married on Saturday. Congratulations! Stop by, say hello, and you should be checking out her blog anyway.

In other news, it looks like Unf and I will be dropping one wedding from our itinerary, courtesy of Frances. But I'm all geared up to travel, and I have a long weekend...for some reason I really want to drive to Vancouver, but it's too far away.


 

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What baa Say

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.04

Occasionally, lefty bloggers will pine for a reasonable conservative, but we've got one right here, and I'm going to put him on the spot. In explaining why he'll vote for Bush, baa writes,

Whence then my loyalty to the Administration? Two points. First, "loyalty" is a function of what one can defect to. John McCain ain't walking through that door. It's Bush or Kerry. On this choice, someone commented that picking Bush over Kerry means taking clear goals and poor execution over vague goals and good execution. I would in fact make that choice. All the more so as I don't think don't think, as noted earlier that Kerry is merely vague. He, personally, has been wrong on most of the major foreign policy judgment calls of the past 20 years. Will the man who oppossed action in Grenada be the man to pull Iraq out of the fire? My assessment: no.
Second, ... I feel poorly placed to judge accusations of administration "bungling" on Iraq and Afghanistan. This was a major endeavor, and major elements went wrong. But major elements went right too: Taliban gone, Saddam gone, no humanitarian catastrophe, no succesful revolt against friendly regimes in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan. So while history's first draft has been eager churned out on this topic, I will withold judgment.
As you have gathered from the above, on domestic policy, I don't much care. Either will be bad in their own way.

So, a froth-free defense of a vote for Bush. Anyone convinced?


 

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And the Crowd Said, "Hooray! The end of the republic!"

Posted by Ogged
on 09.02.04

Saletan has veered back into excellent.

The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it's criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy.
In a democracy, the commander in chief works for you. You hire him when you elect him. You watch him do the job. If he makes good decisions and serves your interests, you rehire him. If he doesn't, you fire him by voting for his opponent in the next election.
Not every country works this way. In some countries, the commander in chief builds a propaganda apparatus that equates him with the military and the nation. If you object that he's making bad decisions and disserving the national interest, you're accused of weakening the nation, undermining its security, sabotaging the commander in chief, and serving a foreign power—the very charges Miller leveled tonight against Bush's critics.
Are you prepared to become one of those countries?

 

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Book Tour To Come

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.04

I feel obligated to post this. Jessica Cutler's Playboy spread is out and if you really need to see her breast, you can click here. If you'd like to see both breasts, then click here. Significantly less modest pictures can be found with a bit of enterprise.


 

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Tetchy

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.04

I guess Matt never got his cigarette, because he's in a foul mood, which I'm rather enjoying.


 

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All That Celebrating

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.04

This is an interesting exculpatory take on the the Kerry in Cambodia story. via mark kleiman


 

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Good One

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.04

Great bijiminy, is the salient problem here developing the film?

I am in a pickle that involves color processing of a roll of 24 color prints -- ASA 400. The issue involves developing a roll of color prints ... We had some friends visit for a few days with their 6 year old daughter. One night while the adults were hanging out the kids were playing in their bedroom and got naked. Then a little while later, they called me in to see. "Mom, come see!" I went in and found Billy, my son, naked, and the girls had tied him to the bunk bed ladder and put a pillowcase over his head. VERY stupidly and totally without thinking, I snapped a picture (#20 on roll of 24 color pictures) just to capture the visual moment because it struck me how innocent they were while creating such an awful vision. Of course, this was totally done in fun and the kids have no idea why I told them to stop.
My problem: I'd like to develop this roll of color prints ------ because I want the other pictures on the roll but I do not know how a camera store would receive that one shot of Billy naked and tied up.

How does she know it was "totally done in fun?" Phil has the sense to call the post Abu Ghraib in the Suburbs, and that's what occurs to me: the kids have seen pictures from Abu Ghraib, and are recreating them. I don't even know what to think. My first instinct sure as hell wouldn't have been to preserve the moment for posterity.


 

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Puff

Posted by Ogged
on 09.01.04

Matt Yglesias smokes?

Now I'm curious: do the people of blogdom smoke?


 

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Pioneer

Posted by Ogged
on 08.31.04

Not quite fascinating yet, but it has potential: a blog by a cocktail waitress at a strip-club near the Republican convention.

via snark attack


 

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I Like Hotties

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.04

I'm still catching heat for the beach volleyball stuff.

Ogged is *not* terribly progressive in this regard, I've noticed, which is one reason I haven't blogrolled Unfogged ... There needs to be something catchy to parallel the phrase "Republicans who smoke dope" for the Libertarians, to describe sexist Liberals who don't have a problem with the objectification of women.

That, at least, is a reasonably intelligent comment, and doesn't, for example, mistake "effect" for "proof".

Beach volleyball should be buried up to its neck in the sand until the uniforms are more equalized for men and women. You need look no furthef for proof that this is a sexism thing rather than a practicality thing than the many supposedly-progressive male-written blogs where the writers copiously drool over the women's beach volleyball team. Enough already.

Or just plain fail the ability to read test.

I think Unfogged seriously lacks any kind of intelligent humor. And if you noticed one of the recent posts "Blogging Break" it has some very sexist photos in it (and it's comments).
I don't think this guy is fooling anyone by saying the volleyball bikinis are for utilitarian purposes.

I guess it was pretty sneaky of me to write "I probably wouldn't be watching if they weren't wearing bikinis, but the Olympics are at least half about ogling beautiful bodies."

But here's the serious question: What's the problem? We're drooling over strong, fit, competitive women. They're hot. Is that unmentionable? Are we just not supposed to think about bodies--even athlete's bodies--at all?

AND: Adam has more.

MORE: "Feminism" collides with "multiculturalism." Whatever shall we progressives do?

In fact, one member of the FIVB says the federation's rules are not about promoting nudity but rather about curtailing it. Bob Ctvrtlik, retired U.S. beach volleyball champion, says, "At an indoor volleyball world championship event last year, the Cuban men were wearing obscenely short shorts. It was gross; the most distasteful thing you've ever seen. They were wearing spandex and when it got wet they might as well have been wearing nothing. At the outdoor events, the women from the Latin countries thought six centimetres of fabric [over the hip] was too much. And the Brazilian women were scrunching up their bikinis like G-strings. Athletes have the most toned bodies and the best figures. I don't think you should hide that. But it needs to be done in a classy way."

 

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Voters

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.04

Props to Bob for doing what he can to help with the upcoming election.

The Clark campaign had a very nifty web/database utility called eBlocks, and from the looks of things, the Kerry folks are trying to do something similar. I expect you'll be able to get a list of likely Democratic voters, grouped by locale, along with their addresses and phone numbers. You can call or write to your "block" of voters, and encourage them to vote and re-affirm, if you need to, why they should vote for Kerry. It's a great way for people who don't live in swing states to aid voter turnout where it matters most.

I'll post on Kerry/eBlocks as soon as it's up. In the meanwhile, if you're itching to get involved, sign up to volunteer on the Kerry website, or do what Bob's doing, through MoveOn. You'll feel better if you help, really.


 

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Soon

Posted by Ogged
on 08.30.04

Ok, I'm back, and the wedding was wonderful, and on the way back we flew through a lightning storm which was great, and I'll get back to blogging later today. In the meanwhile, since I've been offline for three days, if anyone wants to tell me what people are talking about, or what's going on the in world, go right ahead.


 

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Dues are cheap

Posted by Unf
on 08.29.04

In all seriousness, I'd really like to see this organization get more members.


 

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Iowa: we're metaphysically robust

Posted by Fontana Labs
on 08.29.04

I'm terribly sorry to be an absentee blogger, but it's the start of a new academic year and things are a bit hectic. Luckily, I can still summon some outrage at this:

"I left God's country," said Leon Mosley of Waterloo, Iowa, co-chairman of his state party. "They could use a bunch of people from Iowa to come here to show New Yorkers what life is all about, what being patriotic is all about, and what country is all about. I'm as confident about Bush being re-elected as I am that eggs are going to be in New York tomorrow morning.''

Kindly [redacted] yourself, Mr Mosley. Please don't simultaneously pimp my home state's tragedy for your own gain while accusing us of being less alive, less patriotic, and less American than you are. You call 'em demos, but we ride in limos too, aight?


 

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