Bush's new war advisor says it's time to consider a draft.
A senior military officer brought into the White House to coordinate the Bush administration's Iraq war policy has said that a return to conscription should be considered because of the increasing demands on United States military. Lt Gen Douglas Lute, President George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser, said: "I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table."
I'll be interested to see how quickly the rest of the GOP tap dances away from this.
Folks are talking about this quiz, which asks if you know where your water comes from, where your garbage goes, when the sun sets tonight, the elevation of the place you live, etc. What you might call basic questions about your environment. Tyler Cowen and Megan have good one sentence expressions of the divergent reactions to the quiz. Tyler asks, "How much do you reject the division of labor?" To which Megan responds, "So little interest in how your place works?"
The "environment" for most of us is built stuff: buildings and pipes and roads. We know which elevator is faster, which road less bumpy, the water pressure at the second sink in the work bathroom, etc. Other than when I take this quiz, I could go my whole life and never think about which watershed I'm in. So the quiz isn't really about your environment, but about how industrial society has built and sustains your environment. This is Tyler's point about the division of labor: other people take care of the various parts of the infrastructure, and we don't need to worry about that.
I suspect Megan would respond that that bespeaks a profound alienation from our true environment, which is, you know, the earth. That a mysterious system mediates the process doesn't change the fact that you are putting garbage somewhere, and the fact that we collectively don't know (or particularly care) where, or to what effect, is what allows environmental devastation to happen.
Well, I profess to "care" about "the environment," but even with generous scoring, I could only answer six or seven of the thirty-four questions. It could be that they're just bad questions that don't capture the things we do that affect the environment. It seems more important that I know that driving, or worse, using a two-stroke motor, is bad, than what species thrived here 500 years ago. Or you might say that you vote for politicians who are environmentally sensitive, give to the Sierra Club, and you hope the system works, and your personal knowledge of the details of the infrastructure is irrelevant. But maybe it really is the case that a superficial knowledge of how we live has made us all irresponsibly ignorant, and even culpable in the various environmental sins people have committed. I'm not sure.
We (three of us, separately) just interviewed someone; a smart, no-nonsense woman. Talking about her afterwards, one of my co-workers was expressing reservations that she might have some attitude, or that it might be her way or the highway, and it became clear to me what was really going on and I said, with good-natured disdain, "Were you intimidated by her, Co-Worker?" Since I liked her, I was trying to get him to temper his criticism, so as not to seem intimidated (office machinations!) but he said "Yes!" and went and hid behind a chair. I think he won that round. Given that she'll be his (and others') assistant, and that I'll hardly work with her at all, he's entitled to want someone more pliable, but the battle, it is not over.
The 20 year old who saved a bunch of kids from a bus during the bridge collapse turned down an opportunity to meet President Bush for a photo op. As the communications director for the camp where he works eloquently put it: "He was just, like, 'Nope,'"
I don't know if it was humility or politics or what but, given the same situation, what would you do? Would you snub the prez? Would you meet him? Be polite? Spit in his face? Catch him off-guard and say something political? What would you say to him?
What's a "home loan security?"
Big losses on packages of American home loan securities sold to investors turned up unexpectedly in French and Dutch banks yesterday, adding to worries at hedge funds and financial institutions around the globe.
What is the precise mechanism by which a home loan becomes a security, and why does someone then buy it?
Because I lack imagination, after the Minnesota bridge collapse, I said,
Let's see them blame this on the Somalis!
John McLaughlin comes through.
We have a number of immigrants coming every year. One hundred million new Americans will be in this country by what, 2015? Now that's wear and tear. It's on emergency rooms, it's on roads, it's on bridges and so forth...Are you surprised that the American government -- the Federal government, did not anticipate (that) the waves of immigrants that have been coming into our country and joining this great society (would) exact wear and tear on the infrastructure?
Populuxe has the photos.
Looks like the good old South Carolina statehouse to me. Maybe Populuxe can give us the details.
While everyone else beats to death the lamest argument ever, I give you Ali Larter, mega hottie. Ms. Larter is a fascinating case, I'm sure you'll agree. Very pretty, but not exotically beautiful; not trashy, but not snotty; curved, but not curvy; sexy, but not brain-melting, etc. There's nothing distinctive about her; it's as if all the mega hottie qualities were added in moderation.
Sorry, Chuck, but no. Extending copyright to fashion designs is just stupid. I mean, you could call it the IP Litigators Full Employment Act, but there's not a scrap of reasonable justification for it. Add this to the hedge fund nonsense, and if I hear about a primary opponent, I'm giving money and handing out fliers.
I should know more about New York State politics than I do, but is there anyone who looks good to run against Schumer? Suozzi, the Nassau County executive, looked reasonable in the gubernatorial campaign, if I remember rightly.
I wouldn't have expected to like this, but mad props to this guy. He sets up his camera, puts on a tune, and makes a little dance video wherever he goes. Tom Waits' Chocolate Jesus at the Vatican, Otis Redding's cover of Satisfaction in Versailles, and many, many more.
More: I realize that Chocolate Jesus might not have been a sufficiently boppy introduction to the oeuvre. Here, this one will almost make you think fondly of NY.
Go on, tell me we're not living in Soviet Russia.
Michelle Obama doesn't wear (much) make-up. I have little to add, weary as I am of trying to save The Chicks from The Patriarchy, but I thought her reason was pretty damn sensible.
"I want people to get used to my face more naturally so that I don't have to do that every day. Who's got time to put eyelashes on and all that?"
While I strongly suspect that this will eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the vote-swapping websites set up in 2000 to exchange votes between Nader supporters in swing states and Gore supporters in safe states are legal. [Decision, PDF] I don't know about this decision -- those sites always seemed kind of squicky to me. I don't like all of the mucking around with the Electoral College going on, whether formal or informal (vote swapping, electoral vote splitting, etc.) Either stick with the EC or get rid of it -- both sides should stop trying to game the system.
Thanks for nothing, buses, sharks, lightening bolts, and other potentially quick and fatal means of putting an end to the ignominious endeavors of one Barry Bonds.
And I see that Yglesias has thrown in with the douchebags on the Bonds question. The issue isn't whether to rewrite the record books from an era, but whether we are bummed that a major record has been taken from a nice guy by a jerk ("just because all available evidence is that he's a jerk doesn't mean he's a jerk!") who cheated (and oh yes, he cheated in any colloquial sense of the term, you legalistic "no controlling legal authority" hacktards).
I've stayed away from talking about the Scott Beauchamp story because I don't have a real sense of what's probable, but I find there's a comment I want to make that doesn't depend on . Jim Henley sums up the current state of play: for anyone who wasn't following along, Beauchamp, a soldier serving in Iraq, wrote an anonymous piece for TNR recounting three incidents of unpleasant but small-scale callousness he'd participated in or been aware of (soldiers, including Beauchamp, mocking a burn victim to her face; a soldier playing with the bones of a (long dead) child that had been unearthed in the course of his duties, and a soldier deliberately killing dogs with the vehicle he was driving, and then musing about how callous war makes one.
And there was a big flurry of people on the right saying it couldn't possibly be true -- any soldier who behaved that badly would have been punished, and anyone, like Beauchamp, who'd admit to doing something that awful is such a bad person they shouldn't be listened to in the first place, and certainly not in any way that would allow one to generalize about the effects of war. Beauchamp's real name was revealed, and TNR put out a statement saying that they'd been able to check the facts in his story, except that the injured woman who'd been mocked was in Kuwait, not Iraq, and then the Weekly Standard announced that an anonymous source within the Army had told them that as a result of the Army's investigation Beauchamp had signed a statement recanting all three stories, and saying none of it ever happened. So at this point I, like Henley (World's Most Reasonable Libertarian) have no opinion whatsoever about whether any of it actually happened.
But man, am I uncomfortable with the attacks on Beauchamp that assume that the conduct he describes is so awful and unlikely that either engaging in it himself, or treating it as the sort of stuff that does just happen, makes him outside the pale, unworthy to associate with decent, civilized people. Maybe I'm wrong, and it's self-evidently absurd that soldiers in a war zone would kill dogs, or play with bodyparts, or make fun of other injured soldiers. But none of those things sound absurd or unforgivable to me -- they sound like the kind of things young people under stress in a violent situation might do. And shit, if I were in Iraq, would I be unhappy reading the kind of condemnation Beauchamp got for stories that weren't all that extreme, if I'd ever done anything remotely similar.
Eh. I'm way outside my comfort zone here. I just get disturbed by 'support for our troops' that seems to be contingent on the assumption that they're all plaster saints. These guys have to come home, and I'd rather they didn't feel they were excluded forever from civilized society if their behavior in a war zone was a little fucked up sometimes.
Although it's nice to see, what would happen if more reporters wrote like this? Wouldn't hack-facts overwhelm real-facts? Would journalists actually get the facts right? I'm skeptical.
1. I like to eat when I'm hungry, not on someone else's schedule.
2. Lunchtime is for reading The New York Times, not for awkward socializing.
3. Pizza is too heavy and greasy to eat for lunch. It makes me sleepy for the rest of the afternoon.
4. You can't not eat the pizza or you're not a team player.
5. Social conventions dictate that women may have one slice of pizza, wait to make sure all of the men have had their fill, and only then, if there is any left, have another. Men are completely oblivious to this social convention and will eat all of the pizza.
Where do you all keep your titles to your opinions? I would think that most people would keep theirs in a safe-deposit box in a bank, or something like that, because it seems a rather important document to keep track of, but Kotsko just told me that he keeps his up my ass, which hardly seems convenient for either of us.
Bonobos who play video games (and start fires, and chip stone tools.) I have nothing useful to say about them, but, still, neat. Via Sifu Tweety.
Anyone feel like talking me through a computer emergency? I've been uploading lots of cds, and my laptop hard drive is getting close to full. So I went to itunes preferences and switched the location of my library to the backup folder I'd made on my external hard drive. While I was uploading more music (presumably directly to the external drive), the power cable for the drive fell out, itunes got weird, and I restarted. Now when I try to start itunes I get an error message: the itunes library file is locked, on a locked disk, or you do not have write permission for this file. Ok, so I can't start itunes, which means I can't get into preferences to reset the music library to the laptop's old version. Weeping bitter tears.
It was to this comment of Tannargramat's (though I thought it was left by eb) that my thoughts turned when reading certain parts of New Consensus for Old on the train. Now, there probably isn't that much that's new there. In fact, it's a revision of an earlier book chapter (itself an interesting state of affairs, because, while the tone is appropriate for a pamphlet, one imagines that at book length it would be a bit wearying). However, it occurred to me that y'all might not all be familiar with the Prickly Paradigm press, which is pretty interesting, even if it doesn't seem to be active anymore (no 2007 list). It's too bad that James Elkin's little book about art criticism isn't free for the downloading, because I recall finding it worthwhile; on the other hand, perhaps you'd like to purchase it, and help line Marshall Sahlins' pockets?
Actually, looking the list over again, there've been some quite widely-mentioned pamphlets on their list, so perhaps they really are commonly known. Anyway, the list of things that are counter-hegemonic or hegemonic in Sahlins' Waiting for Foucault, Still is amusing ("Certain Vietnamese pronouns: hegemonic. Funeral wailing of Warao Indians, Venezuela: counter-hegemonic.").
Oops. My bad.
New York City, we should have a meetup.
Update: I'm bumping this post to the top for a bit. We'd kind of decided on Tuesday the 14th but now I'm getting pleas for Thursday the 16th. Does that change things for people or would Thursday work as well?
Update the second: Looks like we're back to Tuesday.
I was going to write up this article from the Washington Post about political fundraisers who bully people who aren't in the position to turn them down (employees, clients, etc.) into donating money to candidates they don't really support but Wonkette took many of the words out of my mouth.
Excellent, excellent video asking abortion protesters what punishment should be given to women who have illegal abortions. Unsurprisingly, not only do they not have answers, none of them seems to have ever pondered the question.
Show runs until September 10th. It's pretty great.
With people spending more of their lives entwined with technology, what happens when those people become encoupled? The Wall Street Journal has an article up about the tensions that can arise when people get married and find themselves now sharing the TiVo To Do list and iTunes library and couples debating whether to merge their blogs. As silly as it seems to talk about this, I think we're only going to see more of this, especially since people now associate technology with creating an identity. I mean, I read some of this and recoil in horror. Share a joint email account? What? Are you insane?
It's hard to come up with a super-awesome show when you spend most of your listening time with Cul de Sac's cover (vokills provided by Dredd Foole) of "Song to the Siren". And also when you spend very little time listening to stuff anyway, at least not actively. On the other hand I have gotten a lot of reading done, and discovered that apparently actual Kierkegaard scholars (ie, people not like me) have thought of trying to connect the melancholy Dane to Harry Frankfurt.
Fortunately, it's easy to come up with a super-awesome half of a two-hour show thanks to the existence of either Boris or the Necks. I haven't decided yet: coolly pulsing Reichian piano jazz, or gradually unfolding torrents of doomy metal? The advantage to the former option would be that I could get in a bit of Nik Bärtsch's kraut-jazz band Ronin.
Tim Burke has read the Potter stories and the Dark is Rising stories, and he prefers the former, and in typical Burkean style, he has reasons and is happy to discuss them with you, you fantasy dweeboids. Go now, far from here.
Remember the kid who was building a breeder reactor in his mom's shed? Well, he's back in the news after police arrested him for stealing sixteen smoke detectors in what police say was a "possible effort to experiment with radioactive materials". And judging by the mugshot at the link there, I'd say he's well on his way to securing employment as a comic book villain.
Just got a resume from an Iranian who lists city and state for all previous employment, except for jobs in Iran, which are listed as "Foreign Country."
I'm not quite sure what to say about this week's Modern Love. On the one hand, it screams "unreliable narrator". On the other, I do feel a bit of sympathy for how difficult it is to renegotiate a friendship (on either side) when a new boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse enters the picture.
And oops! One of my friends did that Universal Life Minister thing and presided over a marriage between two of her friends from college. Looks like they might be not really be married.
You don't have to call it evil, but it's seriously fucked up: our own Alif Sikkiin is facing the prospect of having to discontinue her medication because her insurance won't pay beyond a certain point and she can't afford the out of pocket expense. If you know of any group, plan, organization, method, or person who can help in a situation like this, comment away.
I'm not really feeling it this week. If Democrats are going to roll over and allow the Administration to eavesdrop on conversations that may involve Americans without any sort of judicial oversight, when the Adminstration has no political capital at all, when are they going to stand up? So, Democrats in power -- useless, pointless, ineffective. (Also Chuck Schumer can bite me. If a hedge fund manager isn't investing capital, the fees he receives from managing the fund aren't capital gains, and treating them as such for tax purposes is nuts.)
Still, I'm about as loyal as they come. Oh, I'll vote for a non-Democratic candidate (in NY, I tend to vote for the Democrats on the Working Families line, and to my eternal shame I voted for Nader in both 96 and 2000 (look, I didn't expect him to win, so I wasn't worried about his personal qualities. I figured that if he got some votes, the Democrats might move left next election to capture them. And I was in a safe state.), and I'm not opposed in principle to voting Republican if I ever found one who I believed was preferable on the issues to a Democrat -- I'm not a yellow dog Democrat, affiliated with the party for historical and cultural reasons. But barring some massive realignment, I don't see myself ever actually voting for a Republican -- I have this really deeply rooted belief that electing people who talk like Democrats will have importantly better effects than electing people who talk like Republicans. Weeks like this, I'm not sure that that's a rational belief.
But nonetheless, I still hold it. A few weeks ago, Ezra Klein blogged about this paper: It Feels Like We're Thinking: The Rationalizing Voter and Electoral Democracy, which indicates not only that voters mistakenly perceive the facts to support their preexisting political biases, but that better informed voters are actually more, rather than less, prone to partisan distortion of facts.
What do I do with this information? I have no idea. I still think that as long as I've been paying attention to the news, Republicans have been infinitely more likely to do things that I find repugnant -- moments when I've been angry with my Democratic representantives have mostly been failures to stop Republicans from doing lunatic things, like invading Iraq or letting the Justice Department tap all our phones without supervision. But weeks like this I really start to wonder if it makes any difference at all.
Besides the themes of loss and love that you would expect from a story about Orpheus and Eurydice, the play also had a lot to say about "the nefarious category of 'interesting'". As you might have noticed, "interesting" is one of my favorite words, so it made me squirm in my seat a bit. In an interview, the playwright Sarah Ruhl said: "There is a certain kind of person who forever delights in 'interesting' over 'good' or 'bad'...It's an empty category of intellectual experience. [In the play] Orpheus is more interested in dividing the world into 'beautiful' and 'not beautiful', but it's harder for Eurydice to accept that." This focus on things that are "interesting" over good and evil is one of Eurydice's tragic flaws in the play - she is lured to her death by a character called only the Nasty Interesting Man.
Is that the problem with politics and culture today? Are we so focused on "the interesting" that we care too little about good and evil? Are we too distracted by "interesting" problems that we ignore the important ones? Are we so seduced by "interesting" arguments that we forget to evaluate their merits?
Or is this debate over the value of "the interesting" just an "interesting" argument itself?
An excerpt from the play:
EURYDICE: I read a book today.
ORPHEUS: Did you?
EURYDICE: Yes. It was very interesting.
ORPHEUS: That's good.
EURYDICE: Don't you want to know what it was about?
ORPHEUS: Of course.
EURYDICE: There were--stories--about people's lives--how some come out well--and others come out badly.
ORPHEUS: Do you love the book?
EURYDICE: Yes--I think so.
EURYDICE: It can be interesting to see if other people--like dead people who wrote books--agree or disagree with what you think.
EURYDICE: Because it makes you--a larger part of the human community. It had very interesting arguments.
ORPHEUS: Oh. And arguments that are interesting are good arguments?
ORPHEUS: I didn't know an argument should be interesting. I thought it should be right or wrong.
EURYDICE: Well, these particular arguments were very interesting.
I know someone who has a grumpy wife. When we're out, sometimes she's "tired," sometimes she has a "headache." She's nice, I like her, but she's grumpy. I emailed him to tell him that I might be in his town in a few months, and it was only on the second reading of his reply that I realized that he had already made an excuse for why his wife would probably be grumpy if we went out: she had an exam result (schoolish, not medical) due around that time. Holy cow. It made me sad to think of him always unconsciously negotiating around her grumpiness for the rest of his life. People want someone funny and cute and smart, but for the love of God, don't settle down with someone grumpy. My girlfriend in college was grumpy, and god what an idiot I was for putting up with that for years. What you want is someone who will put himself or herself out for you and not remind you every second that they've done so. Of course, then it's incumbent on you to behave in kind and not be an advantage-taking ass, but you can manage that, can't you? But hear me, people of blog, if they're grumpy, run, Run Away! (If you're already committed to a grump, well, there are limbless orphans in Somalia, so suck it up, you self-pitying bitch.)
Since I don't have a TV (have I mentioned that, by the way? I don't have a television. Yeah, I got rid of that unsavory little habit æons ago. You all may be content to sit around the "idiot box" all day—and I don't judge you for that, really I don't, different strokes and all that—but I for my part prefer my diversions to be a little
higher, a little more
edifying, if you will, or
challenging) if I want to know what high-class art movies might have managed to pick up a distribution deal that would bring them to my humble burg, I have to check out Apple's trailers site (since being on that site and being shown in small town America tend to co-occur).
There, I saw that they've up and made a film of Beowulf, aka "the poem of Norse". This seemed like a worthy recipient of my attention, and so I dutifully "clicked" the "link" to watch the trailer. Now, however, I am left a broken, confused man, with many questions, some of which I pose to you here. What kind of accent does Angelina Jolie have here exactly? Is it in the original text, that Grendel's mother is super hot? Or that she smooches Beowulf? Why does Grendel look like a half-assed Gollum? Why is the CGI dragon so utterly lame? Does the dialogue include any kennings? (I hope so.)
Other observations: No Country for Old Men apparently has nothing to do with Byzantium. There continues to be no surcease films exploiting Tony Leung's Belmart aura. Surely some movie of his can be contrived to be set after the 60s and have a scene in which he's present as the scene from Breathless in which Belmondo looks at the one movie poster and says "Bogie" to himself? Sleuth looks ridiculous but kind of fun.
What am I thinking? The real story here is that the much-spoken-of first Dark is Rising movie apparently really exists (for real). And it seems … underwhelming, in all sorts of ways. Schade. It seems to be set in America? (Where's that mansion?) How will they get to Cornwall? (Of course, why should it appeal to me, now? The question is, whether it would have appealed to me as I was when I read the books.)