Thursday, January 31, 2002

WAFA IDRIS: Did she mean to blow herself up? I am directed to this Salon piece via

It is still unclear whether Wafa intended to blow herself up or whether she was carrying the bomb for somebody else. An unofficial statement by Fatah's militant Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades only says that she was "martyred" in the operation. The Israeli police do not classify her as a suicide bomber, just a "bomber." It is possible that Wafa was acting as a courier and that the intended bomber was actually nearby when the device exploded prematurely. The man rumored to be her contact is said to have been lightly wounded and is receiving treatment at an Israeli hospital.

Rafe offers these comments:

The chilling thing about the profile is that there's nothing to suggest that this woman was an extremist of any kind -- she didn't wear a head scarf, and spent her time volunteering as a paramedic for the Red Crescent Society. Were I an Israeli, I think the question that would be haunting me is whether some of the suicide bombings are committed by people who are driven to suicidal depression by their day-to-day lives immersed in violence and poverty rather than by delusional Islamists on a hurry to get a one way ticket to paradise.

Catallaxy Files echoes those comments with his comments on Idris:

She was with the nationalist Fatah rather than the nutso jihaddists. Nonetheless ... Try as I might, I really can't understand the mentality and culture of death underlying all this, it is something that I just can't tap into or enter into. Am I too materialistic? Too individualistic? I don't know.

Those Ralph Peters comments about a freakish equilibrium we can't understand are seeming pretty much right on, the more I hear about Israel vs. Palestine.
KEN LAYNE: Has seen the Unablogger. Whoever he is, all we know about him is he's one of the warbloggers in the links on the side of his page. But we all love the Unablogger and consider him our spiritual leader. If he ever gets exposed it'll be like Spartacus, we'll all stand up and say "I am the Unablogger." "No --I am the Unablogger." Because, in a sense, we're all the Unablogger. Is that not so?
NEW OLD PAGLIA: I was checking out Arts & Letters Daily (it's like a highbrow Boing Boing) and I came across this Paglia speech from back in May. It was new to me, so maybe it's new to some of you too. She's talking about multiculturalism and people not knowing their history.
DON'T TEASE THE MORONS WATCH: New York Times article on why Bush's shout out to North Korea is making South Korean and Japanese officials kind of nervous. Meanwhile Drudge linked to this story about Iran being actually honored to be called out. Their comments amount to, "Of all the Great Satans in the world, America, you're the Great Sataniest."
MUSIC SCENE: Neat little TNR article on the rise of indie rock and how famous band Mission of Burma is finally profiting from the alternative music scene they started.
MEANINGLESSNESS OF RACE UPDATE: There's a good article and another about the scientific community's internal debates on the objective biological existence of race or the lack thereof. It's on BioMedNet which requires registration, so if you don't feel like doing that, I'll try and blog the gist of it here. Here's a clip:

Far beyond defining races as "people who do not fit," opponents in the London debate this week spent much of their time arguing whether races even exist at all. Kealy, who is a clinical biochemist, was unequivocal that they do, speaking genetically. Strong evidence exists for the selection of certain genes during human evolution, he argued, such as those for skin and eye color.

Not so, riposted David Goldstein, professor of population genetics at University College London. From the point of view of population genetics, he asserted, "race doesn't exist in the human species."

Goldstein is interested in how the evolutionary histories of populations can be used to increase our knowledge of genetic diseases. From his studies of the statistical associations between candidate genes in natural populations (linkage disequilibrium), he said he cannot draw sharp genetic boundaries between groups. "Over 90% of the genetic differences among humans are due to differences between individuals" and not differences between groups, he said, however you classify them.

There are differences in people from different countries, he conceded. For example, African-Americans respond differently to heart failure drugs than do Americans of European extraction. But these are not racial differences, he said, and are modest in comparison with differences between individuals.

They don't give Kealy a lot of space compared to Goldstein in either article, so I don't know if that reflects the strengths of his arguments or the biases of the author or neither. Just sign up and read the whole thing if you're interested, otherwise I'll end up blogging the whole thing up here. Via Yahoo Evolutionary Psychology, as usual.
THE 49ERS: Have signed another Garcia, Aaron Garcia of the AFL's New York Dragons. He'll compete for a spot backing up Jeff Garcia, who of course is a CFL refugee. Take that, NFL talent scouts. Via the great yet incredibly slow-loading Arenafan.
WOMEN PLAY BASKETBALL, PEOPLE WATCH: ESPN reports on the rising attendance at women's college basketball games. Also note that despite the Hornets moving to New Orleans, the Sting are staying in Charlotte.

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

UMMMM: In a completely perverse way, is the female suicide bomber evidence of the Palestinians being way more enlightened than the rest of the Arab world? I mean, this is probably a completely inappropriate episode with which to make this point, but I've always heard that the Palestinians are more industrious and entertaining than the rest of the Arab world. Which is why no other Arab country wants to let them in. I am reminded of Ralph Peters' hard-nosed and probably counter-intuitive analysis of Israel-Palestine:

A functional compromise between Israelis and Palestinians was impossible when the fanatics were merely on one side, and now they compose the decisive elements on both sides. Barring cataclysms, an Israeli born as this essay is written is likely to wade through his or her entire life in an ebb and flow of conflict. Meaning well, and behaving foolishly, we plunged into the Arab-Israeli conflict as an "honest broker," although neither side can accept the compromises required by such brokering, while our baggage as both Israel's primary supporter and the long-time backer of many of the most reprehensible Arab regimes is a debilitating handicap to mediation. We declare that stability in the Middle East is critical, no matter if it is impossible without a Carthaginian peace imposed by one side or the other.

The Israelis and the Palestinians can coexist. They already do. But their coexistence is of a different, dynamic nature that belies the meaning we attach to the term. Their struggle fulfills both sides. The Palestinians will never be satisfied, no matter how much they might regain, and the siege mentality Israelis affect to deplore may be essential to the continued vigor of their state. For both factions, struggle and the self-justification it allows may be the most fulfilling condition.

Americans assume that violent disorder is an unnatural state that must be resolved, but high levels of violence in a society or region may simply maintain a different kind of equilibrium than that to which we are accustomed. At the very least, periods of violence may be lengthy transitions that cannot be artificially foreshortened. We need not condone violence to recognize that it is not an artificial imposition upon human nature, nor will insisting that violence is unnatural make it so. We know so little about the complex origins of violence that our beliefs about it are no more than superstitions. Whether in regard to the violence of the man or the mass, our theories attempt to explain it away rather than to understand it. The Middle East may be inhumane, but it is one of the most explicitly human places on earth.

SPEAKING OF NORTH KOREA: I understand Bush knocking Iraq (evil dictator, paranoid Stalinist state) and Iran (they've been on that Death-To-America kick for years, it's only fair we return the favor) but isn't North Korea only a danger to itself, what with that weird state religion and poverty and everything? Isn't it obviously about to teeter over --just like that hotel in Pyongyang? Which, of course, is a problem; if North Korea collapses, as this article suggests, it might drag down South Korea, which in turn will drag down Japan. (Though perhaps some people in Pyongyang are smartening up.) But unless they're worried about the North Korean state going out in a blaze of glory or something, I don't see how it can rank very high on our radar, unless they know something we don't. Weren't people eating their shoe leather there during the last famine?
THE SAMIZDATA STRIKES BACK: Your favorite secret-master-of-the-world and mine, the Samizdata Illuminatus, has revealed himself. He does not have a giant God-hat like I thought he would. He did, apparently, star in the original D.W. Griffith version of Stargate. I'm sorry --that was TERRIBLE. That joke, I mean.

And I did always kind of think of myself as the North Korea of the bloggersphere; you know, nice uniforms, cult of personality, delusions of grandeur, giant unfinished hotels --aww yeah, that's where it's at. All I need is a small thermonuclear device and I'll have INSTANT CREDIBILITY. Like Pakistan. I think.
GEEK ECONOMY: The null device leads me to this New Scientist article about an online roleplaying game called EverQuest. Apparently the community of EverQuest players have created a legit economy by trading items valuable within the context of the game on eBay. A quick google search yields the original paper. This struck me as interesting:

Norrath is a virtual world that exists entirely on 40 computers in San Diego. The entire dollar-based economy is underground, since the owning company, Sony, considers everything created in the world to be its intellectual property. Unlike many internet ventures, virtual worlds are making money -- with annual revenues expected to top $1.5 billion by 2004 -- and if network effects are as powerful here as they have been with other internet innovations, virtual worlds may be the next step in the evolution of internet (and possibly human) culture.

So virtual worlds are the economic future of the Internet and the next step in cultural evolution. I think the former is a little more obvious, what with our own little community's recent forays into Blogger Pro. There's probably a moral here about modernity making people pay just to have human contact, for God's sake, and we're all just sitting around at our computers and we've been distanced by cruel technology. (I just read Player Piano.) But I'm not making that moral.

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

I NOTE: Via AintNoBadDude Jay Zilber's excerpts from Michelangelo Signorile's attempt to Krugman Andrew Sullivan. I dunno. I can't read the article appears to be down-- but hasn't Signorile had a grudge against Sullivan for a while now?
FUN WITH CHOMSKY: Flit after discussing Noam Chomsky's defense of himself in the Salon letters pages links to this Leo Casey piece deconstructing the old Sudan-pharmaceutical-factory-bombing-worse-than-9/11 argument. Casey points out Chomsky's love of the argument by authority. On Znet, of all places.
DEEPLY SADDENED WATCH: "Gov. Jeb Bush's daughter was charged with prescription fraud today after she was arrested at a pharmacy drive-thru window while allegedly trying to buy the sedative Xanax. Jeb Bush and his wife, Columba, issued a statement saying they were "deeply saddened" by the incident involving their only daughter, 24-year-old Noelle. "This is a very serious problem," they said. "Unfortunately, substance abuse is an issue confronting many families across our nation."

From here. Did Jeba and his wife just admit their daughter has a drug problem and not even try to defend her? Maybe her prescription just ran out and she didn't feel like making an appointment to get a new one. Or maybe she actually has a drug problem. Oh yeah....

Speaking of drug problems, I'm reading Philip K. Dick's classic stoner novel A Scanner Darkly right now. It's as good as I remembered from back in junior high.
FOOTBALL ARMS RACE: Interesting LA Times article about the increasing bulk of NFL linemen. There are about six times as many three-hundred pounders playing today than there were ten years ago. There is danger in getting that big:

In plain terms, if a 270-pound player adds 30 pounds of muscle, he significantly enhances his body's ability to generate heat, especially during practice or a game. But he has barely increased the surface area of his skin, crucial to dissipating that heat. "When you get these people who are 300 pounds and 6-foot-5, those are not good numbers," said Robert Girandola, an associate professor of kinesiology at USC.

Just playing in the NFL is going to cause you neverending grief:

And Scranton estimates that, in coming years, every player retiring from the NFL will suffer from arthritis or other ailments related to substantial joint damage in the neck, lower back and knees. He considers it inevitable with 300-pound men who can run faster and hit harder than ever before.

This Pierre Scranton has written a book on football injuries too.
SPEAKING OF EVOLUTIONARY PSYCHOLOGY: Rambling around the World Of Dawkins I run into this cool little piece from a while back about Robert Wright stalking Stephen Jay Gould in an intellectual sense. The intra-Darwinist wars are always entertaining.
RICHARD DAWKINS POLITICAL LEANINGS UPDATE: I ran across this post on CharlesMurtaugh.Com about the ideological leanings of creationists. Charles is arguing they tend to be neocons, which would render my earlier labelling of Dawkins as a neocon innacurate, because he's a confirmed atheist. Check out this ongoing discussion on the Yahoo evolutionary psychology group for further information. I don't know what you would call Dawkins --he's not a liberal, but that doesn't mean he's a conservative. Anarcho libertarian? Atheist conservative?
YOUR CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE DAY: Airstrip One has the link to this conspiracy theory about the secret U.S. military weather dominator. The author argues it's high time all our little United States went their separate ways. All right, but only if Jersey gets the Statue of Liberty.
IT'S A BLOG ABOUT NOTHING, SEE: I am pleased that the Protein Wisdom collective is reading my blog; however, it appears I was speaking out of turn regarding Mickey Kaus, who attended the big Los Angeles blogger party over the weekend --so he can't be accused fairly of ignoring the bloggersphere. Josh Marshall, on the other hand, can't even bring himself to mention Rand Simberg by name when he's commenting on one of Rand's posts, so my comments may still apply to him, for what they're worth. And I don't think Andrew Sullivan ever acknowledged his Bloggie nod.
THEY NEED A PAY SITE: Samizdata has gone picture-crazy lately, though the mysterious Samizdata Illuminatus remains unrevealed. I bet he looks like God as portrayed in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

Monday, January 28, 2002

TRAGIC: Bjorn has the Scandinavia local-interest story about a Kurdish immigrant who killed his daughter for dating a Swedish guy. He's got some good commentary there too, weighing the strengths and weaknesses of non-liberal cultures and multiculturalism's respect for them.
WHILE WE'RE TALKING SCIENCE FICTION: Here's David Pringle's seminal 100 Best Science Fiction Novels list. The one problem is he did it back in 1984 so it ends with Neuromancer, but it's still a worthy list. Read the book version if you come across it.
I'LL BE DANGED: Tom Tomorrow has a blog. Via Boing Boing, purveyors of everything cool in this world.
WEALTH DOES NOT NECESSARILY BRING CORRUPTION: The opening sentence from this Nature article: "Solvent socialist economies could be more at risk from corruption than liberal ones, according to a team of physicists, mathematicians and economists." Check it out.
MEANINGLESSNESS OF RACE UPDATE: Here's Steven Rose arguing for the concept of race having no biological value. If I remember my science wars correctly Rose is a Gouldian liberal and not a Dawkinsian neocon. Bioculturally, of course, race remains a pretty big deal.

Sunday, January 27, 2002

MORE FANTASY NOVEL STUFF: Via Reductio Ad Absurdum, here's a literary opinion piece saying Philip Pullman is doing for secular humanism what C.S. Lewis did for Christianity. Good stuff. Pullman's books are on the ever-growing Books I Need To Read list. My favorite philosopher C.S. Peirce said something about there being more books worth reading out there than any one person could read in their lifetime, and that was back in the late 1800s-early 1900s. If ever a mouthful was said, that was it.

Saturday, January 26, 2002

THE KNICKS: Are actually on national televsion right now. Why does this keep happening? Can't NBC adjust and not televise games involving teams that stink?

UPDATE: Alright, it was a good game though. The Knicks still stink. So there.
MCSLOTMAN AND MRS. MCARDLE: Megan has posted and responded to my comments over on her blog. I think I have isolated the essential literary difference between us: she is a self-described Robert Heinlein baby, whereas I am one of the world's bigger Philip K. Dick fans --two science fiction authors who wrote pretty differently, you might say. In life Heinlein and Dick had an interesting relationship: Dick, at least early on, was inspired by Heinlein's books --the man of The Man In The High Castle is supposed to be a Heinlein figure. But later on Dick found Heinlein's militarism unpalatable and he was also probably resentful of Heinlein's success, especially compared to his own obscurity at the time. Yet apparently Heinlein spontaneously floated him a loan no-questions-asked when Dick was out of money in the seventies. Dick probably cared about what Heinlein thought more than Heinlein cared what Dick thought, so it was a one-sided relationship in that respect. But it was there. I can take solace in the fact that Blade Runner was way better than Starship Troopers --which actually wasn't that bad. Hey, Paul Verhoeven did a Heinlein movie and a Dick movie (Total Recall) --I forgot about that. And I haven't seen Puppet Masters so I have no idea if it was better than Screamers, which was acceptable B-movie SF. The rubber match will be the fifty-year old Destination Moon versus Impostor.

Anyway, that there was a tangent. As for Megan's comments: I think you could prove or disprove the idea that Tolkien stunts the growth of his readers if you find some of the people putting him at the top of their lists and asking them, you know, when did they first come across Tolkien, how many books have you read in the last year, what those books were, etc. It would probably have to be the project of a crazed academic with an axe to grind --but it would be doable.

I guess my point is --and now that I think of it, I don't think it's a very big deal-- is that I have no problem with literary people having complicated standards for judging which books they like, as long as those standards are the result of them reading a lot of books and genuinely loving books. And when Megan says "But too, those lists of "The Greatest Books" weren't coming from English professors; they were coming from regular people. And those people didn't set up some complicated standard by which to judge greatness; they ranked their favorite books" --I mean, there's no reason to think regular people don't have their own complicated standards for judging greatness. Tolkien's achievement is that his great personal and heartfelt work happened to mirror the great internal workings of a whole lot of other people; if Andrew O'Hehir (see below) is right, perhaps a lot more people are skittish on our modern existence than we might think. Or I might think.

So here's a review on Salon from a while ago also about Shippey's book. It's by Andrew O'Hehir; he calls LOTR "a distinctive, even definitive, modern work of rebellion against modernity" which he argues is why it was so beloved by the counterculture. And here's the original list in question. Note that it is the hundred greatest books of the century as voted on by the British populace; I don't know if a similar poll of American readers has ever been done. I speculate that Stephen King would top such a poll here if it was done of authors and not books; if it was books he'd probably get his vote pretty split due to his insane output.

She's got me on Freud, though. I was babbling.
COLLABABLOG: Blowback introduces me to American Samizdat, a new and nefarious collective with the great EPCOT template used by Dodgeblog (which is also threatening to become collaborative), no doubt formed to counter the equally devious National Review blog The Corner. If the Libertarian Samizdata guys are the Superfriends, their American counterparts are the Legion Of Doom. But in a good way. As if you could be the Legion Of Doom in a bad way.

Friday, January 25, 2002

TEXANS: Here's the list of players left exposed for the Texans expansion draft. The Lions left Charlie Batch out there, I thought he was their guy for the future. And the Giants are making Jessie Armstead available. Huh.

Speaking of the Lions, here's a good (but short) post by Dave Hogg on toa explaining why they stunk this year.

UPDATE: Mark Byron has comments on the draft too. AND a post comparing Connie Chung to Steve DeBerg.
GOD'S GIFT TO BLOGGERS: Is definitely Yahoo's Most Popular. Where else are you getting closeups of Canadian speed skaters' butts? Or an Indian nuclear missile that looks just what I want from an Indian nuclear missile: nice design, pretty colors, cool lettering. You just knew India was going to have an aesthetically pleasing nuke.
KEN LAYNE: Says what we were all thinking about that Enron exec who was found dead: somebody else pulled the trigger.
MORE NBA: I know I link to Bill Simmons way too much, but this is such a great idea: HORSE at the NBA All Star weekend. That would rule.
CLIPPERS UPDATE: Matt Welch writes:

Yeah, the Clippers actually *do* have a somewhat blue-collar audience. You can actually afford to go see a Clippers game, unlike the purple boys (they had a great mini-season-ticket package this year, where you could buy 10 games at 10 bucks a pop, if memory serves well. Me & some friends were all pumped up to buy in, but they sold out really fast). L.A.'s a *huge* basketball town, there's no way to overestimate that, and many of the Lakers' best fans simply cannot afford to go, ever (if it wasn't for Chick
Hearn, it's possible some may have started to defect, for Class reasons).

The crowd at Wednesday night's Clippers-Lakers game seemed, for the most part, like actual Clippers fans, though Shaq and Kobe had their fans --as they will anywhere. The whole Staples Center was on their feet for a key Clippers defensive stand down the stretch. Matt's comments also maybe explain something that the nation probably doesn't understand: why a team as historically pathetic as the Clippers continues to exist. Answer: Los Angeles is an amazing basketball town that actually can support two NBA teams, the Lakers first and foremost and the Clippers when the Lakers are out of reach because Jack Nicholson bought all the good seats. But if the Clippers continue to morph from lovable young-up-and-comers to actually good basketball team, maybe they'll start to win over Angelenos too and stop being the NBA version of a AAA baseball team.
SUICIDE ON CAMPUS: USA Today runs this story on the parents of an MIT student who killed herself. They're suing MIT for not institutionalizing their daughter and for not telling them how bad off she was. I'm trying to figure out my take on this pundit-wise; the article makes it sound like the parents have a pretty good case, the girl went through months talking up suicide. But the girl herself was loath to bring her parents into her problems. Their lawyer poses these questions:

''What's the extent of the duty of a university to its students?'' asks David DeLuca, the Shins' attorney. ''Are they a community of surrogate parents, or are they a community of adults without any supervision or care?''

As long as the costs of college are so absolutely grotesque ($34,000 a year? Are you shitting me?) that parents pretty much have to pay for them, parents have a right to demand colleges take care of their proto-adult children. (Who probably are still adolescent in a lot of ways.) Whether the Shins have a case here is a different question. I think they do, because their daughter's therapists wanted her admitted as an in-patient but it would take a week to get her in; meanwhile her parents saw her the night before she set herself on fire and they had no clue. Maybe if they took her home it wouldn't have stopped her --but at least it would have been out of MIT's hands at that point. This case is probably also evidence for the need for institutionalizing people if they're obviously in the process of destroying themselves, as this girl pretty much was.
TEE HEE: Tim Blair brings us Australia Gets Drunk, Wakes Up In North Atlantic. In my head I added Terry Gilliam-like animation as the continent made its journey east.

Thursday, January 24, 2002

COSMONAUT IS DEAD, LONG LIVE TAIKONAUT: Hawspipe has the link to a Chicgo Sun-Times piece on the ambitious Chinese space program by a NASA bigwig. China wants to get their "Taikonauts" on the moon by 2010. The writer gets a tad paranoid here:

Just imagine in 10 or so years a Chinese Taikonaut walking over and dislodging the American flag placed on the lunar surface by Neil Armstrong or bringing back to Earth experiments left behind by Apollo moonwalkers. How would we react? More important, how should this nation react today to this new potential competitor?

Ohmigod, just like in Superman II! GENERAL ZOD IS IN LEAGUE WITH RED CHINA! This HAS to be more evidence of Hollywood giving our enemies ideas. Or at least our space policymakers. Anyway, I thought the brave new space race this time around was going to be done via the market; you know, letting nutty billionaires take trips into space, letting private companies launch satellites, etc. The pyschological impact on us if China gets to the moon? Well, we did it first --we'll always have that. I think they're the ones who need to prove themselves space-wise; we're the ones who need to not get all complacent space-wise. Maybe we don't need to go to the moon again, but we do need some incentives to be in space besides national glory --been there, done that. If we need national glory, there's always Mars.

And talk about prophetic science fiction writers, Cordwainer Smith had this down years ago --I just can't remember where. But he did have the Chinese in space.

Stuff like this makes me think Star Trek, with its harmonious multiracial cast, was ultimately a vision of the best Americans we could be, and not the best humans we could be --though it surely aspired to that too. Maybe the best American humans we could be. The future is obviously not ending the various human cultures and turning us into one big culturally homogeneous species, anyway. Which is probably a good thing in a lot of ways.

Hawspipe also has the link to a neat sports blog called Puck Hog.
NBA BEAT: Clippers beat Lakers last night. I think one of the many Los Angeles bloggers out there needs to explain where the Clippers reside in the city's consciousness, now that they're actually kind of okay. The guys on TNT were saying that the Clippers got the working class audience, but I don't think any NBA team has a working class audience anymore.
MORE HIGHBROW LOWBROW: Ken links to this American Enterprise article about cutting-edge shock art which, from the descriptions offered, does not sound all that different from your average Italian splatter picture. I am forming the following theory in my head in conjunction with this article, the lowbrow one below and the recent Lileks anti-modern art screed, all linked to by Ken: highbrow art is beloved by academics because it is nearly totally theoretical --art is supposed to be subversive, and the simplest way to do that is to put the Pope in compromising positions and things like that. So highbrow art's lack of appeal is a result of the more general retreat of the academies from everyday life. Meanwhile people "want to look at pictures of people doing stuff" so the lowbrow stuff is what really is popular. Highbrow art is art for theorists, lowbrow art is what people want to see. There you go. There's also an interesting debate in The American Enterprise about the status of movies as art. The comments down the bottom by Terry Teachout are the ones I tend to agree with:

Film, like a canvas or a piece of paper, is only as good or bad as what a living, breathing human being puts on it. I saw a lot of perfectly awful movies in 2001, but even while I was squirming in my seat it never occurred to me to conclude that movies aren’t art. The poor ones are just bad art.

It's all art, some of it is just bad. If you think this way, you avoid getting bogged down in any lengthy and probably unanswerable "but is it art?" discussions. Of course you can get bogged down in discussions of good versus bad too, but at least then you aren't delegitimizing anything, or putting anything too far up on a pedestal. Saying "it's a piece of crap" is better than saying "it's not art."
SPEAKING OF VIRGINIA: I notice she's perpetuating the me-zine/blog split with her links section. She sets it up like this: me-zines are by professional writers, blogs are by everybody else. I think that's the distinction. It's not an arbitrary division that she's making, but it might be an unnecessary one.

I think a more appropriate split would be blogs that make reference to other blogs versus blogs that make reference to professional writers' blogs, non-web media pundits and figures and Instapundit only (Kaus, Sullivan, Josh Marshall). Virginia herself belongs to the former group. The latter group has the annoying characteristic (reminiscent of 80s-heyday WWF) of pretending that the competition does not exist (would Kaus ever reference Flit like Joanne Jacobs does? Has he, and I missed it?) but they do serve as a kind of nexus between old commentary and new commentary, as in this web-only American Prospect piece taking Sullivan to task for Clinton-bashing. They have their own place in the great media constellations, as do I, is what I'm saying.

But I still think me-zine is a goofy word that should be retired.
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS BECOMING LESS STRANGE: Here's the New York Times on the right-left alliance opposing cloning. In Postrelian terminology that alliance would be called statist, I'm guessing. This is what she's talking about, right? Stuff like this:

Daniel Perry, who as executive director of the Alliance for Aging Research, a patient advocacy group, is a strong proponent of research cloning, says the issue requires "looking past simplistic liberal versus conservative labels" to how people view biotechnology.

"If you are optimistic about the daily revelation of new tools and new insights into biology, if you see that as an upward march toward a release of suffering, you will" favor cloning for research, Mr. Perry said. Opponents, he said, "see it as people losing control to scientists and other technocrats."

Statism versus dynamism seems like pessimism versus optimism, but I wonder if this is always true.
HIGHBROW LOWBROW: Boing Boing points out this LA Weekly story on lowbrow art, which is way more popular than highbrow art as you might expect. Google leads me to Juxtapoz, which --the article states-- is the premiere lowbrow journal.
WEIRD BIRTH WATCH: Drudge has the link to this story about ovaries being removed for use later in life. The primary use will be for women receiving radiation or otherwise at risk for sterility; the speculative consumer application is that it will allow professional women to postpone childbirth for a while.

UPDATE: Here's The New Scientist on the same subject; their take is more technical, as apparently human ovaries are harder to freeze due to their size.

Wednesday, January 23, 2002

NOT BORN BUT GROWN: Or whatever that part in The Matrix is with the vast fields of babies. Anyway, the null device has the link to this Jeremy Rifkin piece in the LA Times about artificial wombs. Rifkin asks:

How would the end of pregnancy affect the way we think about gender and the role of women?

Years ago, the feminist writer Shulamith Firestone wrote enthusiastically about the prospect of an artificial womb: "Pregnancy is the temporary deformation of the body of the individual for the sake of the species. Moreover, childbirth hurts and isn't good for you. At the very least, development of an option should make possible an honest examination of the ancient value of motherhood."

Other feminists view the artificial womb as the final marginalization of women, robbing them of their primary role as progenitor of the species. The artificial womb, they argue, becomes the quintessential expression of male dominance, a mechanical substitute for the female womb honed to engineering standards and quality controls.

Armed with the artificial womb, asexual cloning technology and stem cells to produce all the extra body parts they need, men could free themselves, once and for all, from their dependency on women.

And, of course, freeing women from the obligation of being mothers. It's weird, I know Rifkin's supposed to be a real downer on biotech but he sort of doesn't take a firm stand on whether or not this is bad here. He talks up Brave New World as a literary warning but then references Francis Bacon for literary encouragement.

Null device also links to the Plastic discussion on this piece which speculates that an artificial womb would sort of move us past the abortion debate as we now know it, which opens with this comment:

Not discussed is the fact that this could throw a major monkey wrench into the abortion controversy and forever change its parameters. Some believe that the development of an artificial womb will lead to an entirely new rhetoric on the part of pro-lifers, who will argue that a woman's legal right to terminate a pregnancy does not equate with the right to destroy the fetus. Envision if you will the spectacle of, say, a million and a half unborn a year transferred by law to artificial wombs rather than destroyed -- orphans before they are even born, adding to the vast population of children awaiting adoption. (And just as likely to show up suddenly on the mother's doorstep in 20 years.) The prospect negates the whole concept of abortion, which is to avoid bringing unwanted children into the world in the first place, while nicely supporting pro-lifers' only concern (once the baby breathes its first breath, their job is done) and making even more ignorant and unrealistic their 'adoption, not abortion' mantra.

Discussion proceeds from there; not everybody is as harsh on the pro-life side as the above is. Fascinating stuff. Obviously such a technology would be way too pricey for years to come to have a chance of changing the abortion debate, but I can imagine it offering another option halfway between abortion and adoption. Of course, in the far flung future we'd probably have perfect birth control too.
BOB ALTMAN: Both Damian Penny and Jeff Jarvis have picked up on cranky ol' Robert Altman's political comments, especially the part where he says the terrorists got the idea from Hollywood. Damian and Jeff both think that this couldn't be true because they don't have American movies in Afghanistan but I'm pretty sure that they do, or there's no reason to think that they couldn't. Cheap and easy video piracy has ensured American culture's spread worldwide in an underground fashion (like the recent Black Hawk Down screening in Mogadishu) and if they're seeing our movies in Iraq and Iran I see no reason why Afghans couldn't have squirreled some movies away throughout the Taliban rule. Heck, we know that terrorists are not the most self-consistent people themselves --I mean, everybody's seen Rambo. So I see no reason, on the face of it, why terrorists could not have been inspired by Hollywood movies, because they probably had some lying around. Remember Black Sunday? I think there's at least a quasi-connection here; why else did the Army enlist screenwriters to come up with more potential terrorist plots so they could be countered in advance?

And I don't care what all y'all say, The Long Goodbye is a great great movie, with Altman and Eliot Gould at their rambling comic peaks. Everyone loves MASH. McCabe And Mrs. Miller --which I had to watch a million times in college-- is good too. And Popeye is a seriously underrated movie.
DOCTORS SANS PRACTICES: The Boston Globe reports on the rise of hospitalists within medicine. Like ER doctors, hospitalists do not have a traditional practice; they only see patients who are in the hospital itself, which eliminates the need for primary care doctors to check in on patients they've sent to hospitals. It actually sounds like an improvent in customer service as far as getting sick goes, since it means there's always a doctor there --no more late-night raising people out of their beds and all that.
SCIENCE AND MARKETS: The AP's Tammy Webber says that the "race to find new uses for genetic discoveries is hindering the usual exchange of information among university researchers". Webber's piece offers some different explanations for why this is happening.
SAUDI-U.S. SPLIT CONTINUES: No more veil for female U.S. soldiers in Saudi Arabia. But servicewomen still have to have a guy with them when they go off base and still have to ride in the back of the car. Hey, it's like they've got manservants or something --wotta deal!
HUH: John Madden and Pat Summerall are breaking up after the Superbowl. I never really liked that team-up --Pat says some weird things sometimes, and I think either you like John Madden or you don't-- but there you go.
MORNING READING: Bill Simmons on the Royal Rumble, Richard Jenkyns on Tolkien, Asher Price on the money family members of 9/11 victims aren't getting, and Allen Barra on black quarterbacks versus white quarterbacks. Plus new TMQ.

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

AAAAAND: Holy crap, the Colts hired Tony Dungy. That didn't take long. Meanwhile, Parcells screwed the Bucs. I think we knew that was coming.
THE DONKEY: Ken points out the trouble a brewin' between long suffering fans of the Nets and Bullets. I know the Nets lost yesterday --doomed by Jason Kidd going 1 for 17 and Dirk Nowitzki justifying Bill Simmons mentioning him in the same sentence as Larry Bird-- but at least the Knicks got creamed.
PROTEIN WISDOM: Has a real nice post arguing against using race to be the essential component of anyone. I was reminded of the ideas of Jon Entine, whose book is one more for my I-need-to-read-this file. Entine isn't as essentialist either, but he does think that biological racial differences are a legitimate subject of inquiry.

UPDATE: Here's Entine summarizing his points.
QUARE: Eve also has the link to this TAP piece from Robert Putnam. Putnam reports that levels of trust between the various American ethnicities are up, as is trust in the government and "political consciousness." Putnam thinks this is a good thing and wonders how long it can be sustained, whereas Eve seems to regard it as a natural and good response to a huge disaster that will diminish as the disaster retreats into the past. This has to do with the fundamental individualism of Americans, Eve says:

Americans like to be left alone. We don't want the government, or our neighbors, interfering in our private affairs, and we're pretty willing to leave other people alone in return. But most people fail to notice that lying hidden under that desire for privacy is an impulse to help others when they truly need it.

September 11 proved this surprising fact. New York City, known for its callous rudeness, suddenly became the most charitable, caring, friendly place in America. The rest of the country, too, immediately put aside its shell of isolation as people reached out to one another in the face of tragedy.

I think this is the strength of America. We know when to come together and when to stay apart. An excess of civic feeling leads to a loss of personal freedom, as governments try to "make things better" for everyone. The American attitude is "I'll leave you alone until you need me," and we know exactly when that is.

Good post.
GOOD SALON PIECE: About a University of South Florida professor getting harangued out of a job. To me the biggest scandal about this is USF isn't claiming that the professor (Sami Al-Arian) is doing anything wrong, but rather that the death threats Bubba The Love Sponge stirs up against him cause an unsafe environment (or something) at USF, thus Al-Arian has to go. It is the presence of Bubba in this story that allows Salon to bring up one of their favorite targets, Clear Channel.
FINALLY: The Economist has the skinny on what Kmart did wrong and what Wal Mart and Target did right:

[Kmart] has traditionally specialised in promotional retailing: using low-cost newspaper supplements and advertising circulars to tout loss-leaders, such as its famous “Blue Light” specials, in order to draw in the crowds. Although this worked well for years, it also put a strain on merchandising and distribution systems, because orders for particular items came in sudden waves. This meant that Kmart's shelves were occasionally empty—being fully stocked only 86% of the time. Wal-mart's shelves, by comparison, are almost always fully stocked. Promotions also forced costs up at Kmart's suppliers, as they could not reliably predict manufacturing runs. This meant that Kmart could never consistently beat Wal-Mart's prices.

The article says that Kmart is going to have to reinvent itself to survive --apparently that's how Target flourishes, by having a distinctly "trendy" identity. The Economist also confirms the Kmart, city mouse and Wal Mart, country mouse dichotomy, but then says Kmart started to flounder once Wal Mart entered urban areas.

UPDATE: Eve Kayden points out that as Kmart goes bankrupt Amazon finally turns a profit.
FEEDING ON THE BODY CORPORATE: Here's Megan McArdle arguing against the corporate income tax. I dunno; as long as a corporation enjoys the legal status of a person, shouldn't they get taxed along with the rest of us? My liberal unconsciousness informs me that the enshrinement of corporations is, in fact, the root of all evil; google corroborates with this and this.
BAD LAW: The American Prospect reports on Sony shutting down a site offering hacks of the Aibo robot dog. Then I actually visit the site and it's back up. I guess TAP is a little behind the times, but I appreciate the anti-DMCA sentiment.
BLACK HAWK DOWN UPDATE: The New York Times reports on the film's debut in Mogadishu.
CCM UPDATE: Mark has the list if you want to get started with adult contemporary Christian music. By the way, Mark, I'm not from Ohio --as my Nets love should make plain. I know of Terry Pluto from that ABA history I keep meaning to read.
SNOWGAME UPDATE: Bill Simmons has it number nine on his best Boston sports moments list. And somebody actually died at Foxboro during the game.

Monday, January 21, 2002

WE CAN BUILD YOU: The reconstruction of Afghanistan will be at the micro-level, says The New Scientist:

Instead of massive national projects, the initial approach will be based on villages organising themselves to install solar panels and small hydroelectricity schemes, to rehabilitate wrecked irrigation canals and rebuild local roads.

THANK YOU, SCIENCE WATCH: This article has this paragraph second:

The notion of the coy female and ardent male - the woman being fussy over her choice of mate, the man being indiscriminate and promiscuous - is now entrenched in Western thought. As the distinguished Observer writer Katharine Whitehorn summed it up: 'Outside every thin girl, there is a fat man trying to get in.'

Precisely where is this entrenched? Romances tend to play off these stereotypes, not lend credence to them. Then comes this:

But now researchers are questioning the notion. With increasing frequency they are finding examples - among animals and humans - that show females can be sexual predators for whom infidelity has clear evolutionary advantages. As this week's Nature explains in a major study of the field, researchers are finding the world of sex far more complicated than previously thought.

I mean, they had to do research to figure that one out? The Blogistan Institute For Science would like to point out that --after doing years of research-- the majority of scientists are nerds. Awright, I'm being too hard on the article, which is mostly reporting on the tide changing against strict evolutionary psychology conceptions of male-female differences --which traditionally actually are the ones in the first paragraph quoted above. (Or making a tide up; it's from The Guardian, and since I know bupkis about British papers I don't know if it's one of the liberal ones or not. But the hardcore evolutionary psychology views are traditionally associated with conservatism, rightly or wrongly. Probably because Stephen Jay Gould is not hardcore and he's a liberal, thus the hardcore guy he spars with, Richard Dawkins, becomes conservative by elimination. Maybe.) So maybe it's science's view of sexual prowess that's changing. I tend to agree with Charles Harness circa The Rose that art discovers everything first anyway, so I guess figuring out that sex is complicated in 2002 is pretty good evidence of that.

The other goofy science item today is this item saying that men prefer women who smell like their fathers. This is offered up as more evidence for our genes being secretly in control of us. There may be alternate interpretations of the same evidence, though.
AFTER DELIBERATION: Shiloh Bucher has come to the conclusion that Andrea Yates is nuts and finds the clinching proof in this great Time article, which was done with the cooperation of Rusty Yates. The impression I get from the Time piece was that both Yates were amazingly bad at --I don't know, critical self-examination? Or something; bad at insight, I guess. Or they both had an incredible inability to be confrontational. That way lies madness, methinks.
ARGENTINA UPDATE: The new guy wants to convert all bank accounts that are now in dollars into pesos. That doesn't sound very fair.
CIRCLE OF LIFE OF A TRADE CENTER: The scrap metal remains of the World Trade Center will be reused in construction projects in India and China. I guess it's cheaper for them to buy scrap then for Americans to recycle scrap profitably, which is why it's being sent abroad. I mean, maybe it's analagous to the shipbreaking industry, but I'm not sure.
BLACK HAWK DOWN: Flit and Kaus have the factual breakdown of what the movie told you and what it didn't. Perry and Jim have some additional insight on the events behind the movie.

As far as the movie itself went, it was good. It was extremely well-done but sort of lacking a point. I guess Ridley Scott was trying to do journalism via moviemaking, and in journalism you just have to get your facts straight --so the above criticisms are entirely appropriate. As far as showing the risks soldiers take just doing their jobs, they did a good job with that. But I can see the point of those and those who can't really understand why this movie exists. I think Stanley Kauffman makes a good point:

Which leads to the fact that, though military pictures have never been in short supply, we are going to have a martial plenty. Bruce Willis is coming in one, and Mel Gibson in another. This surge cannot be a response to September 11; films take more time to make. But war pictures have always been as plentiful as war itself. We used to like to delude ourselves that there were eras of peace, but in any global view that belief was shaky and it is now hideously laughable.

Still, many of those war films have had some point other than the visceral excitements of slaughter. What's particularly depressing about Black Hawk Down, other than the whole subject of Somalia, is that it doesn't even sense the need for a point. Just slosh a lot of realistic carnage on the screen, it seems to say, and people will come. Roll on, Roman games.

Particularly the "many of those war films have had some point other than the visceral excitements of slaughter." This movie reminded me of Assault On Precinct 13 or Escape From New York, two movies where protagonists are trapped in situations of escalating violence involving armed bands. Both are by John Carpenter, who was a real genre pro and I think what he did in those two was restage a urban warfare movie as a horror movie, as the escalating violence is a staple of that genre, or has been since Night Of The Living Dead. I'm sure other people did that too, but Carpenter is the one who comes to mind for me. My point is: Black Hawk Down only makes sense as a horror movie, where the zombies have been replaced by Somalians. Or it only makes genre movie sense as a horror movie; if you want to argue it as a movie-as-journalism, I think you have evidence for that too. But I'm seeing a limited number of protagonists completely outnumbered by a more-or-less indistinct mob in a situation where survival becomes the only option. This is a good horror picture set in a military milieu.

And I know the story Scott told is essentially the one that happened, that the Rangers were overwhelmed but far better armed and that there were a thousand deaths on the Somali side because of that. But it's still a movie, and since this movie has no other reason to exist besides to portray people forced to physically fight against nameless forces that keep coming and coming and have no reason to exist on the screen besides to kill you, it has to be a horror picture in its heart of hearts.
FOOTBALL WRAPUP: Jim comments on the "instant classic" feel of Saturdays Pats-Raiders game, the only game this weekend that was actually good. It just looked like a classic with all that snow --football games become intrinsically more important when played under lousy conditions-- and there was the added bonus of the last-chance field goal and the controversial drive-saving fumble-reversal. I only watched the last quarter and the overtime as I was roped into playing an idiot drinking game with my siblings but what I saw was Good.
MORE NETS LOVE: Can be found on ESPN. I will tolerate no petty jealousy in regards to the beloved New Jersey Nets.
CHRISTIAN MUSIC UPDATE: Mark Byron has another history of contemporary Christian music right here. He talks about the breadth of the CCM scene, whereas the Bagge piece was probably more interested in it as a sociological phenomenon.

Sunday, January 20, 2002

SHOUT OUT: To Dodgeblog and the Midwest Conservative Journal for linking to me. Dodgeblog's got the cool picture of the EPCOT giant golf ball in the background, so Uncle Walt's version of our futurity appears to be almost generating Andrew's thoughts. Cool, like I said. And the Midwest Conservative Journal --a secretive Opus Dei-like organization based in Branson, Missouri-- well you don't want to cheese HIM off. The Editor has his ways, donchaknow.
AMERICAN PASSIVITY FOLLOWUP: Lake Effect Dan writes in response to this post:

Actually, I'm pretty sure the don't-fight-back mentality began in the late 60s-early 70s when there were a lot of violent bank robberies. Banks figured out they couldn't insist on minimum-wage tellers laying down their lives for a few hundred bucks of the bank's money (or really, the bank's insuror's money), especially if it had a side-effect of putting customers in danger. Cynically one could say that the lawsuit exposure (customers, tellers, whomever) might be many, many times what the robber might get!

So banks developed this non-violent approach and replaced enforcement with technology -- video cameras, dye-bursters, etc.

There was a similar trend toward the skyjacking spate in the early 70s. Again, the reasoning that a skyjacker usually looking for a few
thousand dollars and easily caught afterward wasn't worth risking the lives of passengers over.

So the just-do-what-they-say mentality does have its origins outside of the hostage crises of my youth.

Friday, January 18, 2002

GUERILLA-STYLE DEBATING: Here's where I pick up the fight I started with Megan McArdle like weeks ago now that the bone of contention --this Peter Bagge cartoon-- is finally online. I, again, do not detect an anti-redneck bias, just the usual Bagge bemused hatred for his subjects. Actually, I think I brought this up just so I could point people to checking out Bagge's stuff; he's like the greatest comics mind of his generation. Or something. Megan didn't find it funny, but I, like Cal Ulmann, thought it was funny, if just because it was true. But I think Bagge was just doing straight reporting on a funny subject (though I think the way he draws is inherently amusing); I'm glad I know there's a Christian pop culture parallel universe, so if I ever wander into it --well, at least I'll know where I am.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

RECIPROCAL LINKAGE: While me and The Donkey were going crazy Broadway-style about the Nets' big win, he pointed out Joe Netsfan. It's a website about a professional basketball team that didn't exist, but should have. Oh wait....
VIRGIN SHARK BIRTH FOLLOW-UP: Robert Crawford writes me with a third explanation for the King Of The Jaws: one of the sharks switched gender. Or sex --I can never remember the difference. Anyway, here's Robert:

Something to think about in the shark story. While sharks aren't closely related to them, clownfish -- the ones that live in anemones -- change sex naturally. The largest in a community is female, the second largest male, and the others are immature or indeterminant. If the largest dies, the second largest takes it place -- switching from male to female -- and another takes the place of the male.

He brings links to this clownfish page and this discussion about another cross-gendered fish.

"America can be characterized as a 50/50 society, where the chance of experiencing one economic extreme versus the other is roughly 50/50," said Mark R. Rank, Ph.D., first author of the study and professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.

Americans tend to think of poverty and affluence as "something that happens to someone else," but the study's analysis drives home the fact these events are mainstream issues.

51.1 percent of Americans are exposed to at least one year of poverty during adulthood, 51 percent will experience one year of affluence, while four out of five Americans will encounter one or the other of these economic events.

"The opportunity for extreme economic failure and success appears to be a very real component of American society," said Rank, who co-authored the study with Thomas A. Hirschl, professor at Cornell University.

The numbers fall apart for black people, with nine out of ten experiencing experiencing poverty in the lifetimes while only one of eight having a year of affluence. Then Rank says:

"The U.S. has been characterized as a nation of abundant economic opportunities where affluence is within the grasp of many of its citizens, but America has also been depicted as a free-market society that provides little protection from the ravages of poverty," Rank said. "Our analysis reveals that both views of America appear accurate, with race and education being the fault lines that divide Americans into one group or another."

Contrary to popular belief, gender exerts relatively little affect on the probability of experiencing poverty or affluence, with American men and women remaining near equal odds of experiencing poverty or affluence throughout their adult lifetimes.

Gosh, a study that answers questions about racial and gender gaps. Via the evolutionary psychology Yahoo group.
NEW SPORTS GUY: I guess I'm on the NBA beat today. Here's Bill Simmons' latest, a rundown of the season so far. The NBA by his own admission is his favorite sport and I think his take is particularly knowledgable and distinct, like when he argues that Kobe Bryant would be tons more interesting if he didn't have Shaq to clean up for him, or that Dirk Nowitzki is the second coming of Larry Bird. He's usually pretty funny too. And --contrary to common wisdom-- he argues that the NBA is in its greatest period talent-wise since the Bird-Magic-MJ era. I think he'd take issue with Gregg Easterbrook's recent NBA-NFL comparisons. I love Easterbrook in his Tuesday Morning Quarterback persona, but his comments sounded like the comments of someone who hadn't watched an NBA game in a while.
LAKE EFFECT LINKAGE: Go read Lake Effect today, Dan's got an excellent demolition of an Alex Cox attempt to criticize Black Hawk Down. Plus he's got the links to some Todd Gitlin, a wicked piece of anti-Americanism (not by Gitlin) and some other great links.

By the way, that's Alex Cox of Repo Man, a great, surreal 80s movie.
LIBS GET THE LADIES: Via the null device, here's an article from the National Post about which political stances get the chicks. Apparently hot artsy-fartsy girls go out with sensitive liberals, and hot artsy-fartsy girls seems to be the only female type the author, Andy Lamey, is concerned with. Maybe those are the only girls who live in Toronto? I mean, there's gotta be somebody going for the conservative guys, maybe an Ann Coulter type.

He also lumps libertarians in with the right while he's getting indoctrinated into libertarian thought at a seminar; here's a quote to cheese you off:

Every political movement has a crazed relative hidden away in the attic, dementedly pounding away on a piano while muttering strange remarks only they understand; the aunt or uncle so embarrassing they need to be kept away from outsiders. On the left, this role has been filled at different times by hard-core Maoists, weird art-school radicals, and a really irritating German guy named Theodor Adorno. On the right, it will always be Ayn Rand.

Tee hee. This article is also my first introduction to Critical Review, a libertarian scholarly journal whose contents do not appear to be on-line. Kind of like Vanity Fair.
CITIZEN CUBAN: The Dallas Morning News has the straight poop on his Dairy Queen stint. ESPN has two opinion pieces on him, one saying the refs aren't that bad and one saying that Cuban isn't as comical as you think. Both say Ed Rush isn't a bad guy.
HAHAHA: Yes, Michael Jordan had the worst defeat of his life tonight. And yes, it was at the hands of the beloved New Jersey Nets. Please don't make any jokes about this being the first sell-out of the season or about any other facet of the pathetic attendance in East Rutherford. Please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

HMMM: Most of the big media outlets are bitching about Israel not renewing the press credentials of their Palestinian employees. I'm not sure how defensible Israel's actions are on this; the AP article speculates: "Some Israeli officials have complained that the foreign media have relied too heavily on Palestinians for coverage in the West Bank and Gaza." Those Palestinian reporters should all start blogs.
ANTI-BLOGGER RESPONSE WATCH: Okay, here's my rundown on the responses to the Raimondo screed:

As noted below, Glenn Reynolds can now report that Pravda holds his site in fine regard.

Ken Layne just tells him to chill out for a minute. I thought Ken would really rip him, since Raimondo devoted quite a few lines to him, but he pretty much deflated him, which is absolutely a better response.

Bjorn Staerk gives him a few paragraphs and basically concludes with next time he won't be trolled into responding so easily.

Sgt. Stryker gives a point-by-point rebuttal.

Fredrik Norman appears to take him in stride while defending Ayn Rand from charges of racism.

Joanne Jacobs basically has this sentence in response: "Justin Raimondo tries to outblog the warbloggers in an column, but lacks the analytical skills and wit to pull it off."

And Andrew Sullivan hasn't responded yet. I doubt he will, he isn't really a proponent of the blogging phenomenon --I mean, I don't think he wants everybody to start a weblog like Ken Layne does. But maybe he'll have a little something.

There you go.

UPDATE: I forgot these, because they weren't mentioned in Justin Raimondo's original article:

Rand Simberg points to the drive-by shooting that was perpetrated upon his blog.

Natalie Solent got some fan mail from Justin.

And The Midwest Conservative Journal (a secretive conglomerate based in Ames, Iowa) is cheesed off because the Editor ripped Raimondo twice and didn't even get mentioned in the anti-blogger thing, while bloggers who never had a problem with him got all of his ire. Wotta gyp.

There you go. Again.

UPDATE UPDATE: The Cobra Commander-like Samizdata Team direct me to their responses: by David, by Perry, and by Natalija --hers is kind of wistful and in passing. There's no word from them on what kind of girls dig libertarians, but I'm sure they'll get to it.

Charles wrote in to tell me that he's ignoring Raimondo. Cool. And I would like to thank Charles, belatedly, for linking to my blog.

Incidentally, I only meant this piece to be a sort of tracker for all the people Raimondo called out in his piece, but if you've got a particularly good counter-screed by all means let me know and I'll add it here.
DOG-EATING UPDATE: William Saletan on Slate has devoted an article to it and it's the best defense of dog-eating I've ever seen and exposed the cultural prejudices of those who are against it. A sample:

Strip out Bardot's silly arrogance and her Korean colleagues' sentimentality, and their philosophy boils down to this: The value of an animal depends on how you treat it. If you befriend it, it's a friend. If you raise it for food, it's food. This relativism is more dangerous than the absolutism of vegetarians or even of thoughtful carnivores. You can abstain from meat because you believe that the mental capacity of animals is too close to that of humans. You can eat meat because you believe that it isn't. Either way, you're using a fixed standard. But if you refuse to eat only the meat of "companion" animals—chewing bacon, for example, while telling Koreans that they can't stew Dalmatians—you're saying that the morality of killing depends on habit or even whim.

I'm guessing pure vegetararianism is the only anti-dog eating argument that's actually consistent.

UPDATE: Ginger, of course, has a much longer and better post on the above article.
PERSONAL HELICOPTER UPDATE: The New Scientist has picked up on the test flight.
NEW DVDVR: Issue 133 is finally here. It's the greatest wrestling review on the planet. Enjoy.
PRESCIENT POST: Andrew Olmsted points out that nobody in an official capacity has asked who screwed up where in relation to the 9/11 attacks, unlike in Pearl Harbor when people actually got in trouble. I guess officialdom can say, "hey, we're responding --cripes, we're fighting a war." But Andrew's right, there's been no acknowledgement from the CIA or anybody that they goofed.
AND HE SAYS HE'S CLUELESS: I should just use my blog as running commentary on Steven den Beste's great posts, or something; here's another one on the latest going postal incident today, except that this time the gunman was tackled before the police got there. Steven asks: "Has the ghost of Kitty Genovese finally been laid to rest?" I think most people thought the don't-fight-back mentality was rooted in eighties hostage crises where you were supposed to negotiate with the terrorists who wouldn't kill you if they got what they wanted --Leon Klinghoffer notwithstanding. But Steven is putting the origin of a passive American attitude in response to people trying to kill us way back in 1964, which is pretty plausible, in my opinion. Not that I'm one of those blame the sixties for the erosion of American moral fiber types, but that era did begin a long period of the national psyche judging itself pretty harshly. Anyway, my answer to Steven's no-doubt-rhetorical question would be: well, yeah, by the passengers of Flight 93. Fighting back is in vogue. It's a better response than that "she said yes" thing that probably didn't even happen. I mean, would everybody have been hiding in the library at Columbine if it happened now? Maybe, but maybe they would've thrown books at the gunmen.

COMICS SIDENOTE: I first heard of Kitty Genovese in Watchmen, it was part of Rorschach's origin.
OPERA SIDENOTE: I first heard of Leon Klinghoffer from reading descriptions like this about The Death Of Klinghoffer which I've never checked out.
LAUGH OUT LOUD: The funniest result of that Raimondo anti-blogger screed is that Glenn Reynolds changed his site description because of it. Check the top left corner when you go there. I'm amused.
COOL PHOTO: Of Io from the Galileo probe. Yahoo uses the word spacecraft, which I refuse to do, it's a probe, probing like probes will. And it's heading for Uranus. HAHAHAHAHA
BIG BUD SELIG ARTICLE: The Washington Post brings a history of Bud Selig. There's this comment about the way baseball is run:

More than anything, the controversy over contraction has exposed the conflicts -- real and perceived -- embodied in a commissioner whose own franchise is affected by most every decision he makes. Under headings such as "Conflict of Interest" and "Independence," the bylaws of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League prohibit commissioners from holding a financial stake in any teams. There are no such rules in Major League Baseball.
WHAT I READ THIS MORNING: Instapundit's new column on Enron, the latest on fake drugs in Dallas via Postrel, awright --new Anne Applebaum, Allen Iverson scores 58 the night after Kobe Bryant scores 56, and a review on Salon of a book explaining why Japan is not as squeaky-clean safe as people want to believe it is. Salon also has an interview with Chomsky today; I wonder if anybody out there will buy a subscription just to rip the Noamster a new one.
NEW HITCH, SORT OF: In The Nation's letter page. A quote:

I, however, will continue to presume that it is obvious that those murdered in America on that day were not "collateral damage." Their murders were the direct object of the "operation." By contrast, we have had repeated and confirmed reports of frustration on the part of American targeters in Afghanistan, frequently denied permission to open fire because of legal constraints imposed by the Pentagon. This is actually a tribute to the work of the antiwar movement over the years; it seems paltry in more than one way to be sneering at it.

Via the Christopher Hitchens Web, as usual.
FAKE WEBSITE WATCH: As The Donkey already pointed out, Boing Boing brought the link to a obsessive-fan website about a fake Muppet Babies-like show featuring the prominent members of the Clinton White House as kids at White House Elementary. It's great. There's even a Cafe Press store to buy items from a show that never existed but probably should have.

Meanwhile, Coming Attractions has the link to what's apparently a promo site for the Tron sequel, Tron 2.0. If you click on it, prepare for it to take over your screen for about ten seconds.
COOLNESS: Steven (I'm not linking to him, as he says he's changing IPs today) points out a company that's developing a wearable helicopter. Time even covered it, revealing that the Pentagon is one of the investors. Neato. There's a picture there of a personal aircraft prototype; it looks like a Skyhawk.

Steven's other post about the universe being stranger than we can imagine recalls Roy Batty's soliloquy from Blade Runner for me, I'm not sure why:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.

It doesn't look like much, I admit, if you've never seen Blade Runner, but where it comes in the movie and how Rutger Hauer says it sort of branded it in my brain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

CHOMSKY THE SCIENTIST WATCH: Here's an article about a book by a guy, Mark Baker, "whose dissertation was supervised by Dr. Chomsky." Who claims to have found evidence for Chomsky's universal grammer rules. There are of course dissenters:

Dr. Baker's work is by no means universally accepted. Dr. Robert Van Valin, a professor of linguistics at the State University of New York at Buffalo, says the findings rest on a questionable assumption: that there is a universal grammar.

"What they're doing in that whole program is taking English-like structures and putting the words or parts of words of other languages in those structures and then discovering that they're just like English," he said.

Dr. Karin E. Michelson, an associate professor of linguistics at SUNY Buffalo, who also disagrees with the Chomskyan approach, said after reviewing Dr. Baker's Mohawk work that some of the sentences he selected seemed artificial.

Dr. Baker acknowledged that some of the longer words in his study were "carefully engineered," but he said the parameter still held up using more common examples of Mohawk. He said using only examples from real discourse restricted the kind of analysis that linguists could do.

I know very little about linguistics, but I think that was always the word on the scientist street: that Chomsky's linguistics had a hideous English-language bias, which is what I think the guy from the SUNY Buffalo quoted above is referring to.
GOOD ARTICLE: From USA Today summarizing the Oracle & Sun vs. Microsoft rivalry, something I wasn't aware of, not being part of the tech audience the article refers to. There's also highlights of other great corporate fights.
THE BBC: Has picked up on Cornel West and Harvard grade inflation.

Also, a story on the rise of Korean pop culture within Asia.
AND: I can't post a Mark Cuban item without posting a Shaq item. Also from, it's a little opinion piece about how NBA rules weren't designed for Shaq and how he's probably committing an offensive foul on every possession.
MARK CUBAN WATCH: He's managing a Dairy Queen now. Yes he is.

Monday, January 14, 2002

NEW LILEKS: James Lileks has been linked all over blogdom lately; here's his latest Screed, on modern art. I love this bit:

Previous artistic squabbles always had to do with a shocking new style that confronted the status quo, and it usually led to something good.
Eventually, however, the status quo consists solely of confrontation, and you end up with a group of artists all pointing accusing fingers at a status quo that no longer exists. The bourgeoise is no longer shocked; they don’t care, and they’re not paying much attention until you splatter pachyderm patties at religious icons. Even then they don’t care too much, because they’ve written off High Art as an incomprehensible realm of gobblegook theory, carved sheep, sculpture that has the beauty of a rusty nail in your foot, and masturbatory self-absorbtion that cannot inform, cannot enlighten, cannot inspire, and cannot possibly have anything to do with life as we live it. When High Art is no longer interested in beauty, people looking for beauty will find it elsewhere. And they’ll find it.

Yeah, the bourgeoise is pretty much unshockable, isn't it? It's only when you troll religious people that you get somebody outside of the art world looking at your stuff. Or, rather, that's the only time current-day high art rises to national prominence. It's only an obvious point, but perhaps some artists are bummed out at their diminished cultural cache. (Do classical musicians get bummed out like this?) And they resort to shitgineering to make the headlines.
WEIRD NEWS FRONT: A shark has given birth without any obvious signs of fertilization. The two explanations are sperm that lived for three years (unlikely) or asexual reproduction (even less likely.)
VALUE OF FEMINISM QUOTE OF THE DAY: ''In America, I think it is possible to live without a man,'' said Rahima in halting English. ''But here, even in Pakistan, you need a father, a husband, or a brother. We don't have any man. ... It makes our life so difficult.'' Quoted in this Boston Globe article about Afghan women whose final employment option has become working as hookers. I note that two of the women in the article only turned to prostitution after they lost their manufacturing jobs; is that worse than going back to the farm?
RED SOX SALE UPDATE: They're sticking with the John Henry group despite Charles Dolan offering $40 million more. There's the usual accusations down the bottom of the article of Bud Selig just doing what Bud Selig wants to do.
ANTI-PORN MISSIONARIES: Interesting LA times story about these guys (they have a sense of humor: it's "the number 1 christian porn site") at the AVN show. They take a laid-back approach to "porn addiction," a concept I am not sure exists in reality. I mean, it would have to be a near-total psychological addiction, and I can imagine (note I said imagine) some men getting into some kind of Skinnerian positive-response closed-and-admitting-no-one-else feedback loop. In which case these guys are here to help, but only if you want help:

"We're not here to judge anyone or to picket the show. What good would that do?" Gross says. "We decided the best thing to do was to actually be in the show and try to talk to the people in the industry in a professional and respectful manner and not be confrontational. The congregation [at Crossroads] [their home chuch --me] told us they'd be praying for us."

I'm sure they help some people. The article ends with the odd anecdote that Teri Weigel prays before she goes on stage and says three rosaries a day. To each her own, I guess.
MEDIA CONSPIRACY THEORY: New York Times article hinting at secret Apple-Time magazine agreement to promote the iMac. Gawd, I bought the old iMac and it sucked; I never had a computer inexplicably lock up on me more than that thing. Never again. Anyway, a while back Andrea See wrote me about why The Economist never tells you who's writing the articles there: to protect journalistic integrity, so people aren't influenced by advertisers or whoever. Now I have no problem with Time throwing a puff piece to an advertiser, I just wish they'd admit they were doing it out of non-journalistic motivations. I mean, does objectivity really sell magazines? Foxnews doesn't claim to be objective and they do fine. But maybe Time admitting their we're-just-trying-to-sell-copies bias is a little different than Foxnews admitting their conservative bias.
SCHOTTENHEIMER FIRED: Martyball was not working out, apparently. Maybe hiring your whole family as the coaching staff had something to do with that. And now the Redskins want to hire Steve Spurrier, who may have a rough go of it in the pros.
OLD IDEA NEEDING CONSUMERS: Drudge links to this tiny little Reuters story about a South Korean brewery making plans to market a gelatin-liquor. Like a Jello shot? I dunno; maybe it'll be more like those weird Chinese candies that were spotted at the Costco by my brother recently; they taste like peaches and sort of have the consistency of an apple or a underripe peach, except, of course, they're completely uniform and lacking the internal structure of an actual piece of fruit. Weird but good. If you see a plastic bucket with Chinese lettering filled with individually-wrapped gumdrop-shaped things about the size and color of egg yolks, you'll know what I'm talking about. Anyhow, I think the knock against Jello shots is that they get you too drunk too fast --which is why they are so beloved by drunken and trying-to-get-you-drunk fratboys, and also why I think nobody's tried something like this before. Unless they have, in which case I am just some guy with a weblog. But I guess this brewery's business strategy will be a. marketing to fratboys or b. cutting back on the liquor content so non-alcoholics embrace them.
ARGENTINA UPDATE: An editorial from The New Republic, actually, on why Paul O'Neill is vastly unsuited for his job. A sample:

This past summer Argentina--facing unemployment climbing toward 20 percent and unable to repay the money it had borrowed to back up its currency, which in 1991 the country's currency board pegged to the dollar--asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for debt relief. O'Neill was unsympathetic. "They've been off and on in trouble for 70 years or more," he told The Economist (in an interview the investment bank UBS Warburg later called "amazing, astonishing, appalling"). "Nobody forced them to be what they are." O'Neill's comments weren't merely callous; they actually made Argentina's condition worse: By suggesting that the United States would not approve an IMF loan, he helped cause interest rates on private loans to Argentina to rise even more.
THE TRUE NATIONAL SPORT: Unqualified Offerings has a great defense of NFL football. He also points out the goofy love of people like George Will for baseball:

It's odd that baseball gets the intellectual cachet, since football is a far more intellectually-challenging game. Offensive and defensive playbooks are famously complicated, and their intricacy and depth goes beyond the sheer volume of material to be memorized. Behind an offensive system is a set of principles given concrete expression in a precise vocabulary, combined and recombined into individual plays and entire game plans.

He also makes the point that a source of football's greatness is its rest period (which soccer and hockey and other "fast moving game" partisans love to point out, but derisively.) It adds suspense, Jim argues. And he makes this unique point:

One also hears scoffs at the idea that many football players should even be considered athletes. Aren't a lot of them fat, not to say steroid-soaked, lummoxes? Leaving aside the steroid question, a lot of football players are big, fat and tall. They're called linemen. As it happens, offensive linemen are likely to be the smartest players on the field. Other football players are much thinner and much faster. There is a mild advantage to being shortish if you are a running back and a substantial advantage to being tall if you are a receiver or a defender. Some quarterbacks are very slow and some are very fast. So let me turn the complaint around and throw in a totem word for good measure: Football makes productive use of a greater diversity of somatic types than any other sport. You can be a 340# lineman, a 240# linebacker or a 180# cornerback. What has baseball to offer the 300-pounder? Should they all just sit around feeling sorry for themselves?

NFL football is America's sport, in popularity and in society-wide importance. What other sport's championship is a national holiday?