Have you seen The Lives of Others? It's really really really good.
What do you make of this?
Three months after the United States successfully pressed the United Nations to impose strict sanctions on North Korea because of the country's nuclear test, Bush administration officials allowed Ethiopia to complete a secret arms purchase from the North, in what appears to be a violation of the restrictions, according to senior American officials.
The United States allowed the arms delivery to go through in January in part because Ethiopia was in the midst of a military offensive against Islamic militias inside Somalia, a campaign that aided the American policy of combating religious extremists in the Horn of Africa.
We're all shocked at the thought of this administration disrespecting multilateral efforts, but after your surprise wears off, tell me how big a deal this is. On one hand, it's a violation of UN sanctions, not US law. On the other, it undermines the administration's rhetoric about the threat of North Korea and makes our foreign policy look even less competent.
What kills me is that somewhere there's a blogger linking to this story as evidence of UN ineffectiveness.
Tell me the old, old story: deficit spending on Newt Gingrich leads to the demise of the University of Vermont College Republicans. Gotta love it.
If hypothesis H predicts observation o, and o obtains, this isn't evidence against H. A related point about practical reasoning: if state of affairs S includes undesirable feature x, this isn't a reason to desire that S obtain.
HAS AL GORE BEEN TO CINCINNATI LATELY? Because I'm visiting my brother here and drove the last hour or so through heavy snowfall. It's freezing (literally) and it's April. Ugh.
Greenhouse effect? Global warming? Faster, please.
Reynolds' official view is (if I remember it right) that we should act as though global warming is happening, regardless of its cause, but he's always throwing off these asides about how Al Gore cries a little whenever it's cold out, or haha didya hear that a global warming panel got cancelled because of a blizzard? That's rich! Clearly what we need is some way of using a gun rights analogy to illustrate that most warming models predict colder lows and more erratic weather patterns.
Finally, an all-star panel of warbloggers attempt to relieve the glory days of the Summer of War by holding an authentic olde-timey "Fisking" of an essay about global warming. Written in crayon. By a six-year-old. They fail. I wish I was exaggerating.
UPDATE: in a later post Reynolds writes:
Does this cold weather disprove global warming? Nope. And hot weather this summer won't prove its existence, either. For that matter, no particular spell of weather proves or disproves any climate theory -- something that press reports tend to miss. Hence the fun in posts like these!
It's some sort of variant G-fun, I guess. I haven't looked, but I haven't actually seen press reports that do this, though I'm sure suggesting falsehoods is a good thing just in case someone somewhere asserts contrary falsehoods in the future. Quibble: it might turn out that some particular spell has epistemic significance, if there's no upper limit on the length of a spell.
Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera almost fight. Or it's all pretend; who the hell knows?
I take O'Reilly to be the personification of the burning anger that the 27% of dead-ender Bush-backers must feel. Can someone with a better sense of history tell me if it ever ends well for a country when a quarter of its population seethes this way? For all I know, a quarter of the people everywhere are this angry.
And, to take up another angle, O'Reilly's voice, body language and rhetoric are straight from the bully boy handbook (which must surely be part of his appeal) and Rivera, to his credit, is basically unaffected (probably because he's taken actual beatings on the air).
I might be late to this, but the New Yorker has totally redone its site, with lots of stuff, current and past, now online.
Two of the last three years, the eye doctor has told me that my eyes have gotten stronger. She can't explain it, but I figure that at this rate, I'll have X-ray vision by the time I'm eighty. The ultimate dirty old man superpower.
I can't say for sure why this picture cracked me up so much, but the fact that it's tagged "Reza and the Asians" didn't hurt.
Some art forms are perfectly suited to address certain topics. Others, not so much.
High-deductible health insurance plans favored by many employers often wind up being an unfair burden to women, a new study says, largely because women need many routine medical exams that quickly add up.
The median expense for men under 45 in these plans was less than $500, but for women it was more than $1,200, according to a study by Harvard Medical School researchers.
They also found that only a third of insured men in that age group spent more than $1,050 in annual medical costs, while 55 percent of women did.
"High-deductible plans punish women for having breasts and uteruses and having babies," said Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, the study's lead author.
"When an employer switches all his employees into a consumer-driven health plan, it's the same as giving all the women a $1,000 pay cut, on average, because women on average have $1,000 more in health costs than men," she said.
Women's costs are higher because women need mammograms, cervical cancer vaccine, Pap tests, birth control and pregnancy-related services that men do not
Discussing the news that Mary Cheney's baby will be a boy, a FreeRepublic poster concedes:
I thank Mary for having the baby and not having an abortion. Kudos for her on that anyway.
Responds another poster:
Yes, it is good that more and more women who find themselves pregnant after undergoing the arduous process of artificial insemination are choosing to give birth rather than getting an abortion.
My first reaction upon reading this article on parents who rely on their kids for life advice is to wonder if the NYT is intentionally provoking readers like me with a "You think Styles can scrape the bottom of the weep-for-the-future-of-your-country barrel? You haven't seen ANYTHING yet!" The second is to remember that I was a big loudmouth who was constantly giving my unsolicited opinion on everything when I was a kid. But my parents weren't supposed to actually listen!
John McWhorter has a post on Open University pointing out that Newt Gingrich's recent condemnation of bilingual education as teaching "the language of living in a ghetto" is remarkably dimwitted if it's meant to express anything other than anti-Latino sentiment: obviously there's nothing undesirable about Spanish as a language, nor is there anything deviant or damaging about being bilingual. Worldwide, probably more people than not are fluent in more than one language. There's no reason for English speakers to fear that Spanish is going to crowd them out of the public sphere in America, just because more Americans are also Spanish-speakers now -- anyone growing up in the US can't avoid learning English by immersion regardless of what language they speak at home, and the only monolingual Spanish speakers are going to be people who immigrated as adults.
The point of bilingual education, then, isn't to affect whether children from Spanish (or other non-English) dominant homes grow up to be fluent in English -- they will one way or the other. The point is that (at least according to McWhorter, and I don't see any good reason to doubt this) that children do better in school when their primary education is in their dominant language (McWhorter links to a book on the issue, Condemned Without a Trial: Bogus Arguments Against Bilingual Education.)
You have to wonder, then, why bilingual education has such a bad reputation. My kids are in what could reasonably be described as a bilingual program, but the word 'bilingual' is never used in anything official: it's a dual-language immersion program, thank you very much. 'Bilingual education' has strong overtones of poor immigrant kids being warehoused and not learning anything. Is this just an example of "a program for the poor is a poor program", in that bilingual programs serve the children of recent immigrants who don't have the political power to keep them from being incompetently run? Or are they not actually that bad overall, and just have undeserved bad reputations?
Every time the subject of societal pressure around weight comes up, someone points out that it seems weird to say that there's too much pressure to be skinny, considering that Americans generally are getting fatter in recent decades. Charlie Whitaker sends a link to a paper explaining the apparent paradox as follows:
Imagine that relative slimness confers status. If there are gains from such status -- perhaps better mates -- then if I have diminishing returns I will invest in status less the more status I have. Thus, when my neighbour gets a little fatter, I rationally myself become a little fatter (since I do not now need to be so slim in order to compete). This logic is based on the assumption of a concave utility function. The concavity leads me to copy the increasingly fatter Jones family in the house opposite mine.
Yet if I have a convex utility function over the status from being slim, I will act deviantly. When my neighbour becomes fatter, my marginal utility from slimness now rises, and I invest more in slimness. I diet in the face of societal gluttony. Two social phenomena, in opposite directions, will appear together: a spiral in obesity while some people deliberately choose to be thinner and thinner.
Nothing earthshattering, but it's an interesting model of different ways social forces can affect people.
This has to be one of the greatest protestations of innocence ever.
First of all, there was security around me at all times. If they had a problem, why wouldn't they have said something at that point? I probably signed about 150 boobs that weekend, all of which I sign 'RJ with a heart' and if i would've touched a breast, i might have cupped it while i signed. Rules of the convention were that you can not expose a breast, so I never did. And if this was a couple, I always ask permission of the male to sign the breast before I do it. Some people waited an hour for me to sign their breast. My line was second only to Jenna Jameson's.
Speaking of women and looks, Bush is so totally pwned here.
Oh look, it's hating on Glenn Reynolds day here at Unfogged. This post links (with apparent endorsement?) to this bit of inane bluster: a picture of Speaker Pelosi in a headscarf at a mosque with some commentary.
This picture disgusts me. What message is Nancy Pelosi trying to send? Are women equal to men, or not? Why is modesty foisted only upon women? [actually false-- G. abu Labs] That's the inconvenient truth for conservative Muslims, and for liberal Americans trying desperately (and unsuccessfully) to reconcile the desire for understanding between cultures, and those cultures' starkly illiberal practices.
I would guess the message she's trying to send is I won't insult you by going into your mosque in inappropriate clothing. (Yahoo story here.) Mahablog (via Atrios) has some fun with pictures of all sorts of women, including Laura Bush, with heads covered. (What would you have her do? Seriously, if she'd behaved differently they'd be on about how Democrats don't respect religion.)
For some reason the thing that most irritates me about this is the Instapundit link. For God's sake, man, you're a law professor. A professional intellectual. Stop to think for a moment, I beg you.
My Alter Ego reads Instapundit. Glennuendo is on the march.
Maybe there are some cropping/perspective effects at work here, but I don't care, because this is your American government.
And... Thanks to Matt F, we can confirm that this isn't a cropping effect, but pure evil, just like it seems.
Some people end up here looking for "gay swimming blog," and Labs does what he can to satisfy them, but the17thman is the place to go to get your swimming gay on. I do object that some of those guys look to be speedo-wearing models and not swimmers, but hey, I don't make the rules for the entire gay universe.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: comment more intelligently about this proposal for saner working environments at BigLaw than did the people at the WSJ site. This should not be difficult.
From the post, I found this amusing:
Neither Kanter (a 2L) nor Segall (a 3L) have yet committed to a big firm. "Have yet" because, you know, it's inevitable.
99% incredibly creepy, 1% kinda touching, in a filial way.
"The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father," [Keith] Richards was quoted as saying by British music magazine NME. "He was cremated, and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow. My dad wouldn't have cared," he said, adding that "it went down pretty well, and I'm still alive."
I'm convinced that this story was meant to be posted on Unfogged, but since it mysteriously appeared at The Sneeze instead, I guess I'll just link to it.
So, people have been talking about stories that McCain was thinking of switching parties back in 2001 for a couple of weeks, but everything I saw was second-hand. Here's John Kerry, though, saying that McCain's people approached him in 2004 about running on the Democratic ticket as VP -- I can't see what better sourcing anyone could want.
I admit that I don't have my finger on the pulse of Joe and Jane Republican, but I can't see McCain's campaign surviving this.
For once, Democrats in Congress are in a structurally strong position (I think. The more attention I pay to politics, the less I realize I know about the mechanics of passing legislation.) The House and Senate have both passed supplemental appropriations bills calling for withdrawal from Iraq; the compromise bill has to end up with some such language. If Bush vetoes it, as he says he's going to, there's no more money for the war.
I hate feeling confident (it makes me nervous), but I'm not seeing that Bush has any leverage here, beyond blustering nonsense about risking our soldiers. If the Democrats in Congress hold their ground, we've got an end date for the war, and Sen. Reid is signaling clearly that he's planning to hold his ground.
Can someone explain to me how we lose this one? I'll feel better about it if I'm expecting it.
Elizabeth Edwards knows what her diagnosis means.
I come from a family of women who live into their 90s, so it's taken something real from me. ... I'm going to build paths through these woods so we can take long walks that I intended to take when I was 80. And I have a 6-year-old son. I was going to hold his children someday. Now I'm thinking I have only a slim chance of seeing him graduate high school.
And it occasions a rather beautiful reflection on religion and her reconciliation with God.
I had to think about a God who would not save my son. Wade was--and I have lots of evidence; it's not just his mother saying it--a gentle and good boy. He reached out to people who were misfits and outcasts all the time. He could not stand for people to say nasty things about other people; he just didn't want it. For a 16-year-old boy, he was really extraordinary in this regard. I wish I could take credit for it, but I can't. You'd think that if God was going to protect somebody, he'd protect that boy. But not only did he not protect him, the wind blew him from the road. The hand of God blew him from the road. So I had to think, "What kind of God do I have that doesn't intervene--in fact, may even participate--in the death of this good boy?" ... I had to accept that my God was a God who promised enlightenment and salvation. And that's all. Didn't promise us protection. I've had to come to grips with a God that fits my own experience, which is, my God could not be offering protection and not have protected my boy.
I hate to interrupt the education-n-gender fest going on below, but we've just had word here at Unfogged World HQ that EMI is offering its iTunes catalog sans DRM and at a higher bitrate (256kbps) than previously. There's a catch, though: DRMless tunes cost $.30 more than DRM-encumbered. (One suspects that the higher price tag is for freedom, and not for better sound.) Thus we see EMI embracing a business strategy I once saw outlined on slashdot sometime time back way back:
1. take away a universally-enjoyed privilege
2. sell a crippled replacement, cheep!
3. sell back what was initially taken away for more.
I read the Times article on high-pressure/high-achievement high school girls with fascination, because that school is just like my high school and those girls are very much like the women I've known and dated. (The Chicago-savvy among you now probably know exactly where I went to high school; just don't mention it, ok?) I also read it with the old ambivalance, because I know that those women will do amazing things that they likely wouldn't otherwise have done but that they'll also be exhibits x, y, and z for what I used to tell one of my lady friends: "all smart women under forty are unhappy."
But thinking about it now, having met people who didn't grow up in that kind of environment, and when some of the women I know are turning forty, I'm more inclined than ever to say that that environment is ok. It seems that I was wrong, and that all women under forty are unhappy, and the ones I know who are finally feeling settled are doing so in fantastic fashion, either winning genius grants, or doing other very cool things, finding good guys and having nice families, etc. And I know that they think of their time in high school as wonderful, and certainly wouldn't trade it for something less intense. People who do great things don't just spring out of the ground; there are costs.
As for how the boys react, of course I know some guys who were miserable in high school and hated the pressure and took a while to reconcile to themselves and admit their limitations and settle into what they're good at. But honestly, the guys seem much less buffeted and it seems mainly due to a less pronounced tendency to beat themselves up, and also to having fewer qualms about trying to be (and appearing to be) high achievers. Given that, what we can do to help the girls is probably more along the lines of affirming their competitiveness rather than saying "those poor girls, they should have less pressure put on them." There's going to be pressure as long as you live in a capitalist meritocracy and thinking that the girls need to be protected from the pressure, rather than from the shame of immodesty, is a mistake.
I chose a timeless classic.
Ann Althouse sings the songs of W. Axl Rose:
Some people got a chip on their shoulder
An some would say it was me
But I didn't buy that fifth of whiskey
That you gave me
So I'd be quick to disagree
It's a pretty sweet cover.
But go read Bitch on the pressure on upper-middle-class high school girls to overachieve while making it look effortless, and more enragingly on an article in the NYT with absolutely no point other than it was a real pity that Jane Austen wasn't prettier. Yep, I find that it really takes something away from the books knowing she wasn't hott.
These types of articles just kill me. Despite its own scientists (and a host of others) saying it's a terrible idea, the FDA is about to approve a sibling of one of the last-resort human antibiotics for use in cattle feed. The drug company fully acknowledges that the drug isn't even necessary -- there are already 12 other drugs on the market that are still effective against the bacteria that causes this disease in cows. And yet, they're still pushing to get the drug approved and into the food supply.
The FDA is powerless to stop them because, even though the drug will probably cause the formation of new, powerful drug-resistant bacteria, the drug itself is not directly fatal. So thanks to the greed of the pharmaceutical companies developing and marketing this drug and the people who tied the FDA's hands with their regulations (I'd really like to know when this pro-business "Guidance for Industry #152" was written), we might start seeing more bacteria that are resistant to all known antibiotics. Even better that the same pharmaceutical companies that are pushing to get this stuff in animal feed have also decided that researching new and improved antibiotics isn't as profitable as finding the next Viagra and aren't bothering to do so.
RYS to disappear after Chronicle outing? I'd vent, but I suspect it's a prank.
I linked to Michelle Malkin's transcendently silly I Am John Doe manifesto in the comments the other day, and if you somehow missed it, do go witness Ms. Malkin's surpassing bravery and dedication to protecting America. Apparently, she has now started a club to defeat Islamosomethingorother, and as Chris Kelly notes, they have buttons and everything.
Stirring words. It's like Pat Benatar wrote Braveheart. And it can obviously leave us with only one question: Is there something stronger than Ritalin?
Does Michelle Malkin believe the things she writes? Is she five? Is she living in a parallel universe where Afghanistan is occupying us? Can you sit down and type, "I will not submit to your will," to a hypothetical Arab teenager and not feel a little ... silly?
Fair questions all, but then I watch her John Doe/Spartacus mash-up video and realize that this is a woman utterly incapable of feeling silly in the same way that fish don't feel wet. FDL proposes a worthwhile exercise:
Just for shits and giggles, I want you to go read Malkin's John Doe pledge, but everywhere that it says, "Muslim", replace that with "Jew". Everywhere it says, "Imam", make it say "Rabbi", and everywhere that it says, "John Doe", make it say, "Muhammed al Ahmed". Now, pretend this document was found in a Shi'ite stronghold in Sadr City.
Read it again and ask yourself that if this was, in fact, found in the home of a suicide bomber and published on the Drudge Report or some other Right Wing outlet, how fast would Malkin have it up on her blog as evidence that all people of the Islamic faith are genocidal maniacs?
Don't do anything suspicious, Ogged. We're watching.
Drum links to a Niall Ferguson column but I totally can't believe Ferguson says what Drum claims he does, so I click and...
Whoa. It really does look like he's saying that Blair's apology for slavery, made on the 200th anniversary of its abolition in Britain, explains why the Iranians grabbed those British sailors.
LET THAT BE a lesson. Even before Britain's politicians had finished saying sorry last Sunday for depriving millions of their liberty, the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, 15 Britons found themselves deprived of their liberty by the Iranian government. When will Tony Blair ever learn that, in international relations, nice guys finish last?
There is a halfway serious issue here, which is the framing of an apology for chattel slavery as something that's "nice" or "weak" rather than due. If you think Blair's being generous or a soft touch here, you're thinking that the apology isn't owed, that it's something you're doling out from kindess, and that's the attitude that got you into the slavery trouble in the first place: you're thinking that people who are moral agents, aren't.
I don't have an April Fools treat for you. In fact, I'm not really an April Fools kind of guy, partly because I'm squicky about deception, and partly because I think my most likely targets, my dear exes, would have cut off my balls and left me (sooner) if I'd ever pulled an elaborate prank on them. They're funny lasses with good senses of humor, but I think such a thing would not have been well received. That's quite unlike a friend who told me that he and his wife have a long tradition of April Fooling each other. She once borrowed urine from a pregnant co-worker to freak him out by having a positive home pregnancy test. And he organized an awesome prank where he had his friends call her to say that someone prominent in his field wanted to have dinner with him, so then she relayed the message to him, only to have him tell her to quit trying to April Fool him. The more she insisted, the more she April Fooled herself: forcing him to come home early, to dress up nice, all the while with him acting like he was humoring what he knew was her attempt to fool him. Finally, they got to the restaurant and she got into an argument with the host about that fact that there weren't enough seats at the table, when he said "April Fools."