Tuesday, February 26, 2002

DAWSON: Returns from the nether regions of cyberspace to give us this Johnny Cash tribute. So what did you do to celebrate The Man In Black's birthday? I listened to Live At Folsom Prison --on vinyl even, when they used to bleep out cuss words.
CRAPPY NEWS: The tape of the murder of Daniel Pearl may be sold on the streets of Pakistan. Via Amy Langfield.
MORE -ON: Protein Wisdom has the latest get your blank on installment: get your mor on part one and part two. This version doesn't use the f-word so much.
THE DONKEY: Makes you want to weep openly, that's how deep and meaningful his poetry is. Bravo, bravo. Polite applause.

UPDATE: I hear via Kyle Still that Jordan is having surgery and could be out the rest of the season. There's no reason to have the Wizards on tv now. C'mon, Stern. Let's have them Nets.
TOPLESS PROTESTER: Can be found here. I wonder if she's more credible than naked protesters.
MORE GITLIN: The Brothers Judd are not so high on his latest. And they have a ton of Gitlin links.
MURTAUGH: Bullish on a cancer cure.
LAST PERSON ON THE BANDWAGON, WILL YOU PLEASE TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?: I'm the last person in the world to link to this, but here's get your voltr on. I must say, I did not agree with the politics or irreligiousosity of get your war on but it was pretty damn funny, especially when they were dropping the superhero references. AND the Family Circus reference down the bottom here. get your enr on was sort of useless. But get your voltr on keeps the politics to a minimum and allows me enjoy warped representations of an 80s childhood favorite.
NYC BLOGFEST: Raghu has the details if you're in the area.
NEWSWEEK: Has the big story on the Boston priest pedophilia scandal. They engage in psychobabble:

But some researchers think the priesthood may hold a dangerous attraction for pedophiles—not because of the opportunities it presents to indulge their fantasies, but for the opposite reason, that they hope it can help control them. “A very small percentage of pedophiles may go into the priesthood thinking that celibacy will solve the problem they’re dealing with,” says Dr. Frederick Berlin, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins who deals with sexual disorders.

And then more from former priest Eugene Kennedy on Father Geoghan:

Priests “gravitate toward male children because they’re male children themselves,” he says. “These men were promoted in the seminary because they were good boys... There was an inevitability for their erotic targets to become children.” Geoghan fits that profile exactly. When he was a young seminarian in Boston, the rector wrote that despite a “very fervent spiritual life,” the 18-year-old Geoghan had a “very pronounced immaturity.”

Via Slate again.
MEGNUT: Wraps up the recent swarm of blog articles nicely. She also claims to be the Ub Iwerks of Blogger --which is news to me but I'm ignorant.
YESTERDAY: Was the 15th anniversary of Marcos being forced out of office in Manila and cheesedip has a post about it. She links to NeverAgain.net, which looks like a good introduction to the subject.
THERE IS A BASKETBALL GOD: Slate says NBC and TNT are dropping the Knicks from the national TV schedule. Thank you, thank you. The bad news is it looks like they're replacing the Knicks with Wizards games, which is great with Jordan being healthy and everything. Hey Stern, the Nets are right there. You know? The Eastern Conference leading Nets? Remember them? Programming cretins.
ATTACK OF THE CLONE COMMENTARY: Charles Murtaugh responds to Glenn Reynolds here, and even has some nice things to say about Leon Kass. He also has the link to The Chopped-Off Hands Of Star Wars page, which reveals George Lucas's hideous repressed apotemnophilia.
OLD AND CRAZY --BUT AT LEAST YOU'LL HAVE YOUR HEALTH: Derek Lowe has been doing some reading --and some more reading-- and he has the depressing theorizing on the ossification of our personalities, though it doesn't have to happen like that, he points out. He also has good stuff on mental illness:

There are only a set number of ways in which humans go insane. Think of any given case of dementia, and you can come up with plenty of similar ones: you have paranoids convinced that their thoughts are being read - by their TV, by aliens, by invisible beams - or that the people they see on the street are all agents. There are the people who let piles of paper and garbage crowd them out of their houses. And the obsessives convinced that they are good friends with, are going to marry, are already married to some celebrity. You'll certainly find differences among these and among the many other types. But they're variations on the same master templates, differences of degree rather than kind.

Those templates sound like archetypes. Maybe.
TODD GITLIN, QUALITY LIBERAL: Here he is on the SLA. Via Dr. Frank, who also has some thoughts on the subject:

The SLA were indeed murderers who made no sense. But I wish someone would explain how the Weatherman's "chaosify Amerikkka" program is any less nonsensical than the SLA's "death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people." In all sincerity, I cannot tell the difference. Of course, most people involved in the New Left were harmless, idealistic if misguided, non-violent, ordinary folks-- they even occasionally made sense. The SLA monsters are indeed a "special case" in that regard. Yet as to the obscurantism and vagueness (not to mention chutzpah) noted by Gitlin, that seems to me to be the essence of the Maoist and Marxist-Leninist rhetoric of New Left activism, not some bizarre exception. And if the widespread "kill the pigs" ethos did lead some psychos to take it upon themselves actually to kill some pigs, shouldn't those who peddled and promoted that ethos take some responsibility?

Gitlin is one of those guys, like Hitchens, who shed a lot of liberal orthodoxy after the attacks. Or at least the difference between him and the liberal orthodoxy became obvious after the attacks. I wonder if his thoughts on the media have changed as well since then.
GHOST IN THE TIME MACHINE: I think Bjorn Staerk is the last man on Earth reading Time magazine, as he consistently has the links to Time goodies. Here's an interview with one of those Saudi princes.
IF YOU WERE CONFUSED: Jim Henley explains just who he is and who he isn't. I need to read more Gene Wolfe myself.
BLOG THEN METABLOG: Here's Oliver Willis on the Andrew Sullivan blogger manifesto. He brings the perspective the Sullivan manifesto does lack.
ASK THEN RECEIVE: Mark Byron has taken up the challenge of the Paul problem; his response can be found here. I knew he'd have the learned response.

Monday, February 25, 2002

HEFNER WATCH: Relapsed Catholic sends me to this analysis of Playboy that seems out of date in spots to me --but only because it's dealing with an out of date magazine like Playboy. Still an interesting read; I get to these comments down the bottom and enjoy them where not being horrified:

Hiding in plain sight in the June 2001 issue of Philadelphia magazine is Ben Wallace's essay "The Prodigy and the Playmate." In it Sandy Bentley, the Playboy cover girl and former Hefner girlfriend (along with her twin sister Mandy), describes Hugh Hefner's current sexual practices in just enough detail to give you a good long pause:

The heterosexual icon [Hugh Hefner] . . . had trouble finding satisfaction through intercourse; instead, he liked the girls to pleasure each other while he masturbated and watched gay porn.

Yes, you read that right. There it is, attributed to someone who ought to know, the stated fact on the public record. It may seem shocking or it may seem trivial, but it amounts to a significant confirmation that Hugh Hefner embodies what his detractors have been saying for years: All pornography is ultimately homosexual. All pornography stifles the development of genuine human relationships. All pornography is a manifestation of arrested development. All pornography reduces spiritual desire to Newtonian mechanics. All pornography, indulged long enough, hollows out sex to the point where even the horniest old Viagra-stoked goat is unable to physically enjoy the bodies of nubile young females.

Ultimately, Hugh Hefner is an old joke: a solitary master baiter. Armed with two-thirds of the truth and a well-lubricated marketing machine, he has single-handedly stroked the American id into accepting his adolescent fantasy of false desire and technological gratification, a legacy which amounts to our generation's toxic dump.

Those comments about all pornography being ultimately homosexual: I mean, they're true --there's reasons why there's so much gay porn and hardly any lesbian porn-- but they only go so far; it's like saying all fratboys are really gay, or all wrestling is really gay. These things have their gay elements but to say they're gay at bottom is just silly, especially when they are used (as the article rightly points out about porn) to prove heterosexuality in many situations.

And I'm all for Hefner trashing but this guy is way overstating his importance. He was just the first; if he didn't exist, someone would've done something else Playboy-like. But this is a pretty thought-provoking read, if you've got any interest in the subject. Dig this line: "The Playboy Philosophy, which requires women to be thin, infertile, and always available, essentially requires childlessness." I would say Playboy requires women to be thin, infertile, but never available, always an unrealizable ideal --which explains the lack of genitalia in Playboy and maybe Hefner's behavior quoted above. I mean, I doubt Hustler ever retarded anyone's social growth because the ideal reader of Hustler is a solitary masturbator. (I add this because the article opens with this quote: "In launching Playboy, perhaps the smartest thing Hugh Hefner did was in establishing his personality as that of a witty, urbane sophisticate who enjoyed the company of many, many young women. After all, who knows how many fewer copies the magazine might have sold, had he instead depicted himself as a solitary masturbator?") Playboy, on the other hand, he (he is Read Mercer Schuchardt) might be right about it in terms of its negative effects, or its limits as a pornographic magazine; if you substitute "Playboy" for "pornography" in that "All pornography...." paragraph above, I might agree with him. But read it for yourself, it's good.
MORE FROM BLOGATELLE: I keep forgetting about this but Sekimori keeps an archive of all those "What X Are You?" tests on her page. It's on the right side as you face the screen. Go find out which Evil Anime/Sesame Street/Kids In The Hall character you are.
SILLINESS: Via Blogatelle comes this Flasherrific blatant piece of Korean anti-Ohno propaganda. It's great. I love how the conspirators against Kim Dong Sung appear to be Ohno, a French film director, and Abraham Lincoln.
STILL RANKED: For the Jamie Sale nude searches. Yeah, you and me both. But of course she'll probably be in Playboy like ten years after any of us had an interest in seeing her naked. Typical Playboy.
HOLY HANNAH: DC actually released an anthology of old Bizarro stories. That's so great. Bizarro stories were so interesting to me early on, since they took the established comic book order and turned it completely around, and you'd open a random Action Comics or whatever in the barber shop and there would be the Bizarro Justice League and I'd say holy crap to myself and read on, engrossed. Neat neat neat.
LET US NOW PRAISE BEARDED SPOCKS: Like I said before, Justin Raimondo names names and we will see if his speculation is born out; the FBI is denying that Washington Times story, but that doesn't mean anything. But even the FBI has admitted the suspect is an American or at least an employee of America.

Glenn thinks I use the term "bearded Spock" to mean "bizarro," but only use the term in its original sense, to refer to denizens of a universe roughly parallel to my own where, whether by accident of history or by a subtle change in that universe's fabric --as if the very quarks and gluons found there were of a sinister material-- have turned to evil. You know, Kirk is still a womanizing asshole, Spock is still a cold, calculating logician, McCoy is still a curmudgeon, yet they are now on the side of evil and not good. It's in the same half-joking way I refer to the American Samizdat as the Legion Of Doom: people who constantly and consciously take up a contrarian position. Christopher Hitchens, by the way, is a contrarian in reference to other contrarians. It's just the science fiction/superhero comics lens by which I tend to view the world; like Charles Murtaugh, for years I read little else but those.

I mean, today Justin is actually defending Slobodan Milosevic. I guess he never read Safe Area Gorzade. All evidence suggests this. Of course, reading Justin's column makes me think he has more of a problem with double standards than anything else, but come on.

By the way, the term "bizarro" properly used refers to a parallel universe where everything is physically the reverse of our own: up is down, happy is sad, good is bad, etc., and does not refer to actual moral choices and conditions the way "bearded Spock" does. "You might be a geek if": your conception of the moral life takes the form of a Star Trek episode inside your head. I'm done.
HOCKEY: New York Times article introducing me to Jarome Iginla, who I had never heard of before the Olympics but he's the number one goal scorer in the NHL. He's also the first black guy to play in an Olympic gold medal hockey game. Even though he looks like he's black in an Alicia Keys sense of being black. I mean, I'm a frequent participant in the American obsession with race myself, and I think calling Alicia Keys simply black is just weird. Look at her. To paraphrase Mel Brooks: Hus du gezen in deine leiben, she lighter than me. Woof!
SOMEBODY WATCHED THE GLUTTON BOWL: And it was somebody at The American Prospect? You're kidding me.

TAP also introduces me to theologian Stanley Hauerwas, who is apparently one of the more interesting people going in Christian theology today. His latest book, however, was written before the 9/11 attacks, and the pacificism he espoused may be difficult to reconcile with the actual need to defend one's self sometimes. Or one's nation; the article, by Charles Marsh, says:

It is important, too, to keep in mind that the hero of Hauerwas's book, Karl Barth, was not a pacifist; nor was his best-known student, Dietrich Bonhoeffer--arguably the Protestant church's most powerful witness in the twentieth century. Barth made it clear that if the church is faithful to the primary obligation of calling the nations to repentance, it need not be afraid of how to act in a time of international crisis. For the church that does not give easy sanction to war, that in fact constantly seeks to avoid it and proclaims peace alone as the will of God on earth, will be able in a true emergency to tell the men and women who serve the country in the military that even though they now have to kill they are not murderers, and that they "may and must," as Barth says, "do the will of God in this opus alienum of the state."

The case of Bonhoeffer is even more troubling to Hauerwas's pacifism. As one of the few Christian dissidents in Germany and a member of the resistance, Bonhoeffer abandoned his own pacifism in the face of Hitler. Or more precisely, he continued to believe that Jesus taught nonviolent resistance and that Christians were called to witness to peace, but that his historical situation required sinful action for the sake of a greater good. Aware of the human costs of inaction, Bonhoeffer risked the moral consistency of nonviolence on the wager that there is in the Bible an implicit reservation in favor of those obviously extraordinary moments in history that responsible people understand as exceptional. Responsible Christians must sometimes sin boldly. Bonhoeffer died in a concentration camp in 1945 for his involvement in a plot to assassinate Hitler. "The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask," he wrote in prison, "is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live."

Bonhoeffer is another guy I keep meaning to read, mostly because my dad tried to get me to read him as a youth and I sort of yeah, whatevered him because he was, you know, my dad. But apparently Bonhoeffer is quite the important figure within 20th century theology. I should point out that Marsh is a theology professor, like Hauerwas, so he probably brings his own biases to the table that an outsider wouldn't pick up on. But that review is an interesting review regardless of my ignorance of the subject.
PAGING MARK BYRON: Letter Never Sent has a post on the problem of Paul to Christianity, and has some quotes supporting the argument that Paul contradicted a lot of Christ's teachings. I know this has probably been done to death within Christian circles, but perhaps Mark can hip us to what the solution to the "Paul problem" is --if there is one.
LET'S GO CRAZY BLOGWAY STYLE: Andrea See answered the Mike Sanders "blogrolling" questions, inspiring me to answer them too. I think "blogrolling" means linking to a blog. Here we go:

1) What is my policy for adding a blogroll? And for removing? I add a blog if it's interesting and good to read and I want to keep track of it. I haven't removed anybody yet, nobody has become noninteresting.
2) Who are the candidates to blogroll? And to definitely not blogroll? I think it's mostly whim on my part. What's the difference between this question and the previous one?
3) What will be the order of the blogrolls? And the implications of change? The order refers to the alphabet that I learned in grade school. Maybe I'll organize them at some point into genres or political outlook or something, I dunno.
4) Have I captured the spirit of blogrolling? The spirit of linking to other logs is just the spirit of the Internet as revealed in a little subsection of the Internet: you bring the good stuff with a link.
5) Can I only blogroll a blogger? Who is a blogger? I can link to anybody but I like to keep the blogs separate. A blogger is anybody who posts to a single page in cyberspace that is continually revised, with old entries hopefully shunted off into some archive section.
6) Will I make friends (or enemies) with my policy? I will SMITE MY FOES with my policy.
7) Should I explicitly state my policy? No. Unless I just did.
8) Is Mike Sanders serious about this? You can find out here.

Sunday, February 24, 2002

SPEAKING OF BEARDED SPOCKS: There was a little bit of infighting in over in the American Samizdat crew lately; Kristen Anderson had the temerity to post a link to an article in support of Bjorn Lomborg. Dr. Menlo --the Lex Luthor of the group-- had to set her straight, complete with the photo of Lomborg after --I'm sorry-- dumbshits hit him in the face with a cream pie. This Lomborg thing is revealing to me the cultish aspects of environmentalism, even as they (the Greens) and Lomborg both claim to have science on their side.

The Daily Dose directs me to this slashdot review of The Skeptical Environmentalist, where it is said:

But by attacking the book and the author so shrilly, the environmental community risks its own hard-won credibility. It acts just as Lomborg accuses it, like lobbyists with an axe to grind, not cold-eyed, empirically-minded scientists. Lomborg's study has its flaws, as does any environmental study. But those flaws should be attacked on their merits alone. At its worst, The Skeptical Environmentalist merely muddies the waters of scientific and public consensus on global human environmental impact. At its best it provides a crucial reality check for those who seek profound social and economic changes in the name of preserving environmental sustainability.

As Orchid says: "I still haven't read this book yet, but anything that gets attacked this shrilly I should at least skim." I haven't read it yet either, but dang I need to --The Economist loved it.
ANTHRAX: The Washington Times has picked up the story now, with new details:

Law enforcement authorities and leading biochemical experts familiar with the FBI's five-month investigation said agents targeted the unidentified scientist after extensive interviews with more than 300 persons associated with the government's anthrax program, although no charges have yet been filed.
The scientist was identified from a pool of about 50 researchers known to have the technical ability to produce the sophisticated weapons-grade anthrax strain found in the letters sent to Florida, New York, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., the sources said.
The FBI has known for more than three months that the person responsible for sending the letters was a U.S. citizen and, according to the sources, probably a former scientist connected to the government's biodefense program.

Gosh. I should point out that when I asked why nobody was blogging this, Justin Raimondo wrote in to say he was. He even names names. So he is on the anthrax beat, but I wrote back to say he couldn't be blogging this, since antiwar.com isn't a blog but more of a online magazine. But he is covering the subject, days before Drudge was.

Ken says that Andrew Dodge says getting Instapunditted is like getting knighted in the blog world, but I think getting e-mail from Justin constitutes a similiar honor. In a bearded Spock kind of way.
GETTING OLD: Inspired by that anarchists video game I went into the Toys R Us and tried playing this warplane flying game for the XBox that was sitting there, and crashed within three seconds. I felt like my parents playing Pac Man and not knowing which blotch on the screen was theirs. You kids stay off my lawn.
I TRAVEL THE BLOGWAYS: Amygdala rocks. And I'm starting to dig the high-concept east coast/west coast blog, in which one guy blogs from New York and the other from San Francisco, even though the whole thing never fits in my window. They have a ton of links too. Ken is right about the blog quality explosion.
KWAN: The Rabbit has the vitriol and the voices from God on the subject that we were all looking for. A sample:

And a great cry of "motherfucker" was heard across the land, and the people did weep, and tear their hair."Motherfucker!" they said once more, and raised their fists to the sky, questioning the Lord, "Why another preteen squealer, Lord? Why?"

Ah, sweet sweet bitterness, eases the pain.
DALLAS MAVERICKS: Beat the Kings with their all new, all different lineup. There's a Sportsfilter thread on that trade, raising the prospect of David Stern having to award Mark Cuban the trophy.

Meanwhile, Ken Layne some good points on the Iverson/Bryant debate. Ken thinks that a poor kid emulating Kobe has a chance at being successful at any various walks of life --due to Kobe's sophistication-- whereas a poor kid emulating Iverson only has a chance at being an NBA basketball player, which is obviously unlikely for most poor kids (or anybody). But I think poor kids are pretty unlikely to emulate Kobe, who has never to my knowledge been a poor kid; he isn't exactly from Philadelphia but from Lower Merion, which is right on the edge of the city and a pretty wealthy area, I think. There's nothing in Kobe for a poor kid to emulate, whereas Iverson is a more familiar figure. Maybe his way of "keeping it real" while being a millionaire is sort of a put on at this point, but AI is only going with what he knows. You can fault him for not moving past that yet, but he's less of a jerk than when he started, he's young yet, and --as Ken points out-- he always plays like he means it. I think he's the more interesting player out of the two of them.

Friday, February 22, 2002

SLOBOGOOGLING: My first try, # 456, nets bupkis. So does my second, # 629. Ditto third for # 907. I'm not very good at this. One more try: well, there's something at # 1147 but I'm not sure any of them are the right ones. I give.
DIGITAL EQUIVALENT OF THE ETERNAL TOILET PAPER DEBATE: You know, whether you let the toilet paper hang forward or let it hang from the back? Has to be links open in same window versus links open in new window. I am congenitally unable to enjoy links opening in new windows. I have no rational defense for this. I also prefer the toilet paper hanging forward, if there's a correlation there.
TANGENTAL: My discovery of Old Man Murray leads me to belatedly discover Erik Walpow's gamer's love of America:

I am a gamer. That means I've become too frail to enact any kind of real justice, and so providing real justice will just have to be delegated to those more suited to it. My talent is sitting alone and amusing myself by pretending to be Sylvester Stallone pretending to be Rambo. And if that hasn't made me actually able to eat things that would make a billy goat puke, it has at least transformed me into the perfect weapon for showering America's enemies with towering acts of simulated revenge. What's the point? I am quite possibly the weakest non-baby male in the country, so if I can find a way to strike back, then so can you.

Using the world league option of NHL 2002, my plan was to beat an Arab-Muslim country so bad that they'd be humiliated forever. In preemptive open defiance of what I was sure would be protests from Muslim groups, I christened my plan Operation Infinite Goals.

The whole thing is pretty funny.
MORE ON CORPORATE COOPTING OF THE COUNTERCULTURE: Dave Tepper directs me to this Salon piece by Wagner James Au on State Of Emergency, a video game where you get to fight the faceless evil Corporation in the guise of a street protestor. Says Erik Wolpaw of Old Man Murray:

"If there's one message you can take away from SoE," says Wolpaw of Old Man Murray, "I think it's that capitalism has finally, irrevocably won. Using advanced technology developed in Japan and financed by a publishing company in the U.S., a group of smart people in Scotland has created what's possibly the most useless consumer product of all time ... Playing State of Emergency is like spiking the ball in the end zone of competing ideologies. Feel the burn, Marxism!"

Au also picks up on the corporate funding of anti-globalization angle. It's funny, back in the day I would've read Salon first thing in the morning but now I read a bunch of blogs --so I need Dave Tepper or somebody to tell me to go read Salon. Perhaps the quality of Salon has fallen off as much as people say it has, but maybe, now that the Internet hype is gone, there's less of an intimidation factor at work here where you don't feel like you need a big flashtacular site or have delusions of dotcom big bucks to get yourself yammering on the Internet and there's an inverse relationship between the dotcom bust and the blog explosion. It might be true for me, anyway.
ANIMATION: Via Little Red Bucket of Hate comes this appreciation of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The appreciation, by Tim Goodman, errs when it says SpongeBob Squarepants isn't meant for adults --it's meant for anyone with a bizarre sense of humor. Which is probably a lot of people; watch a little SpongeBob, man, you're hooked.
RC3.ORG: Rafe Colburn has a neat idea on how to improve Olympic coverage: don't give one network exclusive rights, but allow the various channels to bid on individual sports. That would be super cool, we could get the complete curling coverage on A&E, all the women's hockey games on Lifetime, etc. Coverage would only improve.
OLYMPICS SCANDAL WATCH: The Russians are only still there because the hockey team has a chance at a medal and a chance to beat we Americans. The Koreans are thinking about suing the short track refs in US court. In a case where I don't think anybody impartial thinks they have a leg to stand on, the Russians are protesting Irina Slutskaya's silver medal. Bullcrap, Sara Hughes had everybody beat last night. And there's a shifty rumor that only Drudge has that the US women's hockey team stomped on the Maple Leaf before the game, which Julie Chu denies. Maybe Hayley Wickenheiser made it up to fire her own team up, which is the theory Chu believes. True or not, it didn't work for the US women. Read the whole Drudge post, these two teams really hate each other.
INSOLVENT REPUBLIC OF JAPAN WATCH: Electrolite brings the goods.
RATINGS RANTINGS: Drudge is reporting that figure skating kicked the crap out of everything else, "MORE THAN 4 X AUDIENCE OF NEAREST COMPETITOR" in Drudgespeak. That means figure skating kicked the crud out of The Glutton Bowl, which is a good thing. Not that competitve eating is bad, but thinking that you're going to draw viewers off the highlight of the Olympics by putting on fat guys stuffing their faces is an idiotic programming decision. "Hey, guys won't watch ladies figures skating, let's bring in the hot dog eating contest." Schmucks.
ANOTHER MONONOKE IN STATURE: The latest Hiyao Miyazaki epic, Spirited Away, has bested his previous one, Princess Mononoke, for box office gold in Japan. Both beat Titanic, I think. I'm so there for this one.
MORE ANTHRAX: Blowback has a link to more on the anthrax attack: inside job theory:

An advocate for the control of biological weapons who has been gathering information about last autumn's anthrax attacks said yesterday the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a strong hunch about who mailed the deadly letters.

But the FBI might be "dragging its feet" in pressing charges because the suspect is a former government scientist familiar with "secret activities that the government would not like to see disclosed," said Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Chemical and Biological Weapons Program.

Rosenberg goes on:

"We can draw a likely portrait of the perpetrator as a former Fort Detrick scientist who is now working for a contractor in the Washington, D.C., area," Rosenberg said. "He had reason for travel to Florida, New Jersey and the United Kingdom. . . . There is also the likelihood the perpetrator made the anthrax himself. He grew it, probably on a solid medium and weaponized it at a private location where he had accumulated the equipment and the material.

"We know that the FBI is looking at this person, and it's likely that he participated in the past in secret activities that the government would not like to see disclosed," Rosenberg said. "And this raises the question of whether the FBI may be dragging its feet somewhat and may not be so anxious to bring to public light the person who did this.

"I know that there are insiders, working for the government, who know this person and who are worried that it could happen that some kind of quiet deal is made that he just disappears from view," Rosenberg said.

"This, I think, would be a really serious outcome that would send a message to other potential terrorists, that (they) would think they could get away with it.

"So I hope that doesn't happen, and that is my motivation to continue to follow this and to try to encourage press coverage and pressure on the FBI to follow up and publicly prosecute the perpetrator."

Here's the Google file on Rosenberg. Why isn't this story being blogged more?
NORTH KOREA WATCH: Bjorn Staerk is on that beat, providing links to Kim Jong-Il's birthday party and an interview with one of his bodyguards. Kim's, not Bjorn's. Check out the dirt the bodyguard has on the Dear Leader:

Kim's real partying took place at one of his two residences in Pyongyang, where he could drink, act the big shot and get close to pretty girls. The beverage of choice was Paekdu Mountain Bulnoju (or Eternal Youth) a fiery liquor made from rice. Female band members and dancers wore micro-minis and tank tops and the men gave them drinks if they performed well. The women were trained not to drink too much but the men, including Kim, usually ended the evening trashed.

During the working day, the drinking started again, sometimes as early as noon (although Kim didn't get sloshed at the office). Kim became furious if he wasn't the center of attention: he got upset if he saw people shaking hands while he was in the room, scolding them for ignoring him. When Kim was in a good mood, he would shower his guards with gifts: deer and birds he hunted and sometimes pineapples, bananas and mandarin oranges—all rare luxuries.

Dear Leader sounds like a fabulous job, except for the hideous repression of your citizens. What I don't get about the bodyguard is that he's just working a day job in South Korea now. Wouldn't you think Seoul would need him for intelligence on the North or something? Or is North Korea so obviously weird that you don't need intelligence to tell you that? Maybe that's the South's plan, waiting for Pyongyang to topple itself over so there's a minimum of armed conflict. I guess.
THE SPONTANEITY OF CHINESE PRESIDENTS: Funny-cause-it's-true article on Jiang Zemin being totally baffled by having to answer spontaneous questions from foreign reporters. They ask him twice about oppression of Christians within his borders and he just ignores them. "Rather implausibly, he also claimed to have no influence over who is imprisoned in China and why." Smirk. Via Drudge.
ON THE PLUS SIDE: The Insolvent Republic is number 10 for this search.
AND IN THE ROLE OF DAN MARINO THIS EVENING: Once again Michelle Kwan loses to a screeching teenage moron, a girl who's never known disappointment or heartbreak or anything. This sucks.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

ALL YOU ZOMBIES: Here's this New York Times article of a few days back with the great title Hijacking the Brain Circuits With a Nickel Slot Machine. If you've got an addiction, your dopamine system could be out of whack. And it all happens unconsciously --hence the zombies reference.
WOULDN'T YOU LIKE TO BE A PROTESTOR TOO?: Andrea See argues that NGOs need a good marketing strategy if they're ever going to be taken seriously. She says:

If the corporates can co-opt the 'hipness' of the activist counterculture, why can't the activists fight fire with fire? There should, no, must, be a plan to work out the brand image of each movement, and a co-operative effort to link their brands under one cohesive 'best interests of the world' global brand (where the individual brands are seen as discrete but equally important extensions). Maybe it's cool to be part of a subculture, where the mainstream just doesn't get it, but if we truly desire change in our space, we need to be more pacifist-guerilla marketing about it.

It's sort of a practical suggestion for the protest kids (as Matt Welch always calls them) that marketing is a potent and possibly non-evil or at least morally neutral way to reach people. I would add to this Matt's suggestion that protest kids start reading The Economist.
IMMIGRATION: There's this TNR piece that isn't making a ton of sense to me. Richard Weissbourd writes:

The longer immigrant children live in this country, the worse, on average, their health, their attitude, and their school performance. What's more, with each subsequent generation, immigrant children do worse and worse. On average, first-generation children function at significantly higher levels than do typical American-born children. But, by the third generation, that advantage is gone. To take just one example, the school performance of first-generation Chinese teenagers--one of the highest performing immigrant groups--markedly exceeds white teens. By the third generation, the difference disappears: English proficiency and school performance are inversely related. In other words, while once upon a time people came to the United States expecting to make better lives for their children, today the sad fact is that the more Americanized immigrant children become, the less successful they are.

Once you get outside the first generation you're talking about actual mom-and-apple-pie Americans --so of course they're not going to have the competitive advantage of their forebears' willingness to take a cruddy job because it was better than what they left behind. It's like what the guy's arguing is that Americanization is an insidious process, which, I mean, fine, he can have that opinion and everything, but he doesn't need to tie it in with immigration.
CURLING A GO GO: It has spread to Philadelphia. I'm envisioning a future where curling ice sheets are as commonplace as bowling alleys or pool halls. The article pegs curling as a definite growth sport and you doubt them but then wonder why was curling all over the tv? So maybe that rundown bowling alley on the outskirts of town is going to have a few ice sheets in the future. It could happen.
DRAT: We lost the curling bronze. Bummer.
WHODA THUNK IT: Adam Vinatieri is the Patriots' franchise player. Yes, he's the kicker. That's so great.
DECLINE AND FALLING OF SCIENCE FICTION: Judith Berman issues a genre call to arms. A sample:

Baby boomers--the cohort for whom Golden Age authors evoke fond recollections of childhood--currently dominate sf production and consumption. This supersized slice of the demographic pie has exerted hegemony over the pace and direction of cultural change for decades, but the Age of the Internet and the New Economy have, it seems to me, begun to dethrone them in favor of the 20- and 30-somethings who are as comfortable in the seething, mutating cultural ferment of the web as fish are in the sea. The Internet is perhaps the best symbol of everything disquieting to boomers (and their elders) about the present, including the generational divide with respect to technology. This divide is the subject of the old joke about the 8-year-old being the one who programs the family VCR. Part of what the joke expresses is the fear that members of the younger generation, at ease with all new technology, are growing up strangers to their parents.

Via actual science fiction writer Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing.
WEIRDNESS: I keep seeing this quote in the short track reports:

''It's absurd that the Korean was disqualified,'' said Italy's Fabio Carta, who placed fourth behind China's Li Jiajun and Canada's Mark Gagnon. ''I don't know what happened. We should use a rifle on Ohno.''

What is he saying? Does he want Ohno shot?
UTAH WATCH: Via Fark comes the story that Utah leads the nation in prescription antidepressant drug use. The article indulges in the usual sociocultural explanations:

Few here question the veracity of the study, which was a tabulation of prescription orders, said Dr. Curtis Canning, president of the Utah Psychiatric Assn. But trying to understand the "why" has puzzled many, he said.

"The one true answer is we don't know," said Canning, who has a private practice in Logan. "I have some hunches.

"In Mormondom, there is a social expectation--particularly among the females--to put on a mask, say 'Yes' to everything that comes at her and hide the misery and pain. I call it the 'Mother of Zion' syndrome. You are supposed to be perfect because Mrs. Smith across the street can do it and she has three more kids than you and her hair is always in place. I think the cultural issue is very real. There is the expectation that you should be happy, and if you're not happy, you're failing."

The happy thing is an American ideal, but carried to the nth degree by social pressure. But I'm baffled. Mormons can't have alcoholor caffeine but they can have all the CVS pharmacy drugs they want? There's your explanation right there: no caffeine no beer make Homer pester his family practitioner for the sweet sweet legal drugs. There is probably a legalize pot argument here too but its tangental, as if you could prescribe pot Mormons would be able to smoke it. I mean, is that the difference? You can only take scientifically verifiable and approved by the FDA drugs? Or what? Another tidbit:

Utah also leads the nation in the use of narcotic painkillers such as codeine and morphine-based drugs, the study found, and is ranked seventh in total prescriptions overall. Kentucky ranked first.

Church fathers, let them have coffee. They need it.
AND ANOTHER OLYMPIC POST: We as a nation are really kicking the crap out of those aforementioned economists' predictions. They had us at 21 total this year and we've got 26 and I'm guessing with more short track, hockey and figure skating to come, we've got at least another five medals coming. So why were they wrong this year? Did they fail to anticipate us inventing and rehabbing and getting female versions of sports in place? Sort of a version of that Paul Romer thing about economists failing to appreciate the possibilities of new things being discovered. (Read those articles if you can get past the smirky picture.) Maybe.
OLYMPICS SCANDAL WATCH: The Lithuanian ice dancers had their appeal denied. The South Koreans are up in arms about the Ohno gold, like it'll do any good. If this was wrestling Ohno would make a grandstand challenge to Kim; Kim would come out and either tease another race or get his butt whupped for the majority of the race before pulling off the victory by clearly cheating outside the vision of the referee. Sadly, this is less entertaining than wrestling --though I'm still watching.
NEW HITCH: Hitch on the n-word. He's a little obtuse this time, I think he's arguing in part for keeping the n-word a bad word because otherwise we wouldn't understand Mark Twain. He also makes the distinction between the n-word and nigga, the former an epithet, the latter adopted ironically by hiphop types yet still banned on the radio. Neat.
MORE ANTHRAX: American Samizdat also has the link to this little-blogged New Scientist piece on who sent the anthrax around and killed that National Enquirer editor and that nurse in New York City and those postal workers. Their analysis is it was an inside job, due to the strains that were used being available at only a few places. Someone working at the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases is a good possibility:

One more clue points to someone who worked at USAMRIID itself. A US marine base got a letter in late September, after the anthrax letters were posted but before Stevens was diagnosed, calling an Egyptian-born scientist, Ayaad Assaad, a bioterrorist.

Assaad was laid off by USAMRIID in 1997, and was harassed while he worked there. He was cleared of the bioterrorist charge. Barbara Rosenberg, a bioweapons expert for the Federation of American Scientists, suspects the letter was the real attacker's attempt to frame Assaad by capitalising on anti-Muslim feeling after 11 September. It revealed an insider's familiarity with USAMRIID.

The attacker also masqueraded, unconvincingly, as a Muslim in the anthrax letters themselves. This could be a clue to his motivations. If he wished to scale up US military action against Iraq, he almost succeeded-many in Washington tried hard to see Saddam Hussein's hand in the attacks.

If he wished merely to make the US pour billions into biodefence, he did succeed. And as a US bioweapons expert, he might already be reaping the increased funding and prestige that now goes with the job.

Actual conspiracy theory stuff here.
HISTORY: The American Samizdat legion --just because they're eeeeevil-- dredge up this article from our idiot past on how to tell Japanese from Chinese people. Except the article doesn't use the word Japanese, obviously. By the way, why are they called American Samizdat? Are they spreading the American intelligence like their fellow samizdatists do for libertarianism?
CURLING: The US women lost, but they can still play for a medal today.
SHORT TRACK: Is losing its charm for me after the guy who was across the finish line first was disqualified because Ohno drew the foul. It looked terrible on television because the foul was not obvious and the crowd started booing when it looked like the Korean guy won. But then a voice came over the loudspeaker and gave Ohno the gold. It was very WWF. And NBC couldn't be bothered to put on the women's 3000 meter relay, which is supposed to be the most roller derby-like of the short track events. At least they're putting on all the hockey games.
GOOGLEWHACKING: Is it a fair whack if one of the words is pig Latin? Probably not.
HOLY CRUD: Belarus beats Sweden. The winning goal went in off the goalie's head. Garsh.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

KEN LAYNE: Has picked up on the Tom Tomorrow blog. (If you go there now there's a Dubya pinup.) Ken makes the Tomorrow/Rall comparison: "Dan Perkins (aka Tom Tomorrow) takes on a lot of the same targets as Ted Rall, but Perkins' cartoons are funny." S'funny, I think back in the day when the Comics Journal interviewed one of those two he (whichever one it was) said people often got the two of them confused, probably because they appear in the same places (free alt weeklies) and have a similar spare, nuance-via-repetition style. Ken also says, regarding Rall: "A cartoon should be funny." I'm probably in the minority here (and I've said this before) but I think Rall is funny sometimes --the one where he gets run over by Art Spiegelman's SUV is hilarious. For me the "cartoon should be funny" criticism applies to Lynda Barry, whom some people absolutely love but I've never been able to get into because I never thought her stuff was that....funny. For good non-funny comics check out Palestine, the amazing journey into the mind of a geek called Mail-Order Bride and everything Harvey Pekar ever did.
THE GREAT WHITE NONTHREATENING NORTH: Yes, Wurtzel is nuts, she's made a career off that. But here's why she thought she could express herself:

Wurtzel acknowledges she'd never dare say such things in the U.S., noting, "You can't tell people this. I'm talking to you because you're Canadian."

Which reminds me of this recent post by Olympic blogger b-may:

A Canadian skater kept approaching the stairs up to the ice, only to be told that, for security purposes, we had to stop everyone, even if we knew them:
"I'm not a security threat: I'm Canadian"

The Can-Am consensus appears to be: Canadians? They wouldn't hurt a fly. Is there another country whose national identity is based on being non-threatening? Well, probably.
FAKE CURRENCY WATCH: Redsugar Muse has the link to the Harry Potter money converter. It's a totally literal conversion based on the UPC on the Harry Potter books and unreflective of any actual virtual economy like that of EverQuest.
IF I EVER BECOME THE UNABLOGGER: The site will be called Instapoondit.com. Get it? GET IT? I mean, it took me years to get the "male plane" joke in Three Amigos....
SPEAKING OF PUCK HOG: He links to this Faceoff.com piece on the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are making money in the face of the NHL having a crappy product.
BY THE WAY: Thanks to Charles for the kind words on my thing on that Peter Lawler thing. In a later post he reminds us all of the existence of his wife's sports blog, which is sadly rarely updated. Which is a shame, the world needs more sports blogs; I love Puck Hog and Sportsfilter, but could always read more.
HEY: I'm back and I actually read the Charles Murtaugh invasion of National Review. Murtaugh on cloned kids, as any clone would have to be at some point:

A cloned child, made rather than begotten, is a pet: His or her "breed" picked out for its "unique characteristics" just as a border collie is chosen for its intelligence and a poodle because it doesn't shed much hair.

Our children do not live for our pleasure. They are not pets, and we are not their masters. In addition to warming the hearts of their owners, cloned pets may serve as living, breathing reminders that the bonds of family life are not simply psychological leashes.

Glenn Reynolds promises revenge on Charles for these transgressions --wait, no, he just said he'd rebut them mildly. For my own take on this, I think Charles' points are sort of leading me to wonder what kind of parents are going to be the ones who choose cloning for their reproductive option. I mean, they're either going to be high-profile adventurer-tycoon types (like the father in Beggars In Spain) or people really emotionally stuck on their own genome --both types not what you'd call ideal parents, if you have an ideal for parents. To say the same thing a different way: it'll be your traditional techmonkey early adopters --the laserdisc buyers of reproductive tech-- and people really caught on a memory of someone they love or once loved. An odd set of people creating a set of people who have to be raised by the odd set of people. But hey, nobody ever said technology was going to eliminate the creation of new freaks --Brave New World dystopic visions or not.

An aside: Brave New World is the most tossed-around book that I have never read. That or 1984, but I've read 1984, clocks striking thirteen and all that. But Brave New World is a term comprehensible outside of its origins at this point, like lilliputian or something, so I don't feel that bad about using it in a sentence. (Why do you say Orwellian but not Huxleyan? Maybe because there's more than one Huxley.) I should probably stop proclaiming my own ignorance and just read the stupid thing.
I, BLOGGIUS: First, Vehrs. Then, Layne. And now ---Murtaugh.
TEE HEE: Hlatky on Wurtzel.
SPEAKING OF MY ADOLESCENCE: Also via Fark is this story of Hasbro --my favorite toy company of my Rhode Island youth-- trying to steal some kid's domain name. The writer, John Hawkins, compares Hasbro to the mafia for trying to bully this kid out of his dinobot.org address. Jerks.
FA FA FA --I THINK: Globe And Mail story on a new security scanner that acts like you wished those X-ray specs in the Johnson-Smith catalog worked:

ABC's TechTV recently reported that one system being studied is a holographic scanner capable of producing 3D, computer-generated, fully nude images of people who pass through the device.

The report said a circular Holographic Imaging System has been in development at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Kennewick, Wash., since 1989. The FAA is considering the scanner as a next-generation replacement for magnetic scanners now used in U.S. airports.

Although it can't produce a skeletal image the way an X-ray does, the scanner would produce images that would leave little to the imagination.

While effective, the technology raises major privacy concerns. Even at a low resolution, an operator can see not only concealed weapons but also the entire surface of the naked body, according to TechTV's report. It is safe to assume that most people would object to a virtual strip-search every time they travelled on an airplane.

Via Fark. All my adolescent fantasies are coming true. Except the one involving Deborah Norville. Unless I'm flying with her. Never mind.
FLIT: Bruce is still following the troops in Afghanistan, you see, and he links this New York Times piece to prove it. We bombed Afghanistan again but not for the usual reasons: "The strikes appeared to differ from previous American bombing raids in Afghanistan because, according to warlords in the region, they were aimed at controlling clashes among militia forces, and not at destroying the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the focus of American attacks since the first bombing raids on Oct. 7." Which leads Bruce to comment: "A little known fact of wars in Afghanistan: the big defeats never come during the initial invasion. They always come during prolonged periods of using foreign military resources to prop up domestic regimes." As Bruce says, "ominous."
DAZE READER: Has picked up on the interblog porn debate. Go there and scroll down, it's there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

DILFER --NO, REALLY, DILFER: Ben Domenech sends me to this Len Pasquaralli column on the fine football player who is Trent Dilfer, Superbowl winner, winner of 19 of his last 20 starts, and player for three different teams in three years.
NEW ANNE APPLEBAUM: It is the rare Foreigners that isn't about foreigners, but rather on Colin Powell's approach to them. Applebaum usually has a different take on whatever she's talking about, which is a good thing; her take on Powell is one I think only she would point out:

Unlike some other secretaries of state I can think of, he hasn't gone out of the way to court the limelight—which means that when he does speak, people listen. More to the point, it also turns out that he has a special skill: He is extremely good at speaking to foreigners. In particular, he is extremely good at explaining the more unilateralist-sounding bits of Bush's foreign policy to foreigners—those bits, in other words, that he is widely thought to oppose—in language they can understand.

WOW: One passionate defense of Utah begats another.
SO WHERE WERE YOU WHEN BLOGGER WENT DOWN?: What I do is I surf on over to oliverwillis.com or serialdeviant.org(y) or Boing Boing or Blather and delve via their links into the mysteeeeerious pre-Instapundit bloggerverse, where the HTML non-simps live. Apparently these non-simps can manipulate pictures and fonts and such and actually change the look of their blog. I mean, wow.
CAN'T KEEP A GOOD NEOCON DOWN: Interesting Weekly Standard article by Ethan Gutmann on the Chinese internet whose value as a channel for huddled masses yearning to breathe free has been choked off:

Before the crackdown one could escape and surf anonymously in a cybercaf or use a proxy server--another computer that acts as an intermediary between surfers and websites, helping to hide their web footprints and evade the filters. Not surprisingly, the most common search words in China were not "Britney" and "hooters," but "free" and "proxy." Fully 10 percent of Chinese users--about two million people--used proxies regularly in an attempt to circumvent government controls. In what Michael calls "the first sign of cleverness" by the government, a proxy pollution campaign began last spring when the Chinese authorities either developed or imported a system that sniffs the networks for signs of proxies. A user, frantically typing in proxy addresses until he finds one that isn't blocked, effectively provides the government with a tidy blacklist. After a few of these tedious sessions, many of my Chinese friends simply gave up climbing over the firewall. For a small fee, expat users could turn to a web-based proxy browser, such as Anonymizer. But credit cards are effectively blocked for Chinese citizens. Just for good measure, Anonymizer was finally blocked as well.

Good thing we have Peek-A-Booty now. Via kuro5hin.
TEMPLATE: If I wasn't an HTML simp, my blog would look a little like this. The color scheme and the Benevolent Leaders, I mean.

UPDATE: Or like this.
POWER OF IDLENESS: One of those screensavers that crunches numbers when it's on actually discovered something, according to the New Scientist. Well, actually, what it did was narrow down possible drugs that could be used as a cure for anthrax to a manageable number. Says the article:

Oxford's result is a major coup for the new field of distributed processing, in which PC users donate their computer downtime to crunch data on a high profile project, like running the SETI alien signal hunting program.

Writing on the university's website, head of computational chemistry Graham Richards described the anthrax result as unprecedented. "The realm of life sciences is in for a radical shift in its approach to drug discovery," he predicts.

Of course there's a bit of controversy as the people who had these screensavers didn't know the numbers were being switched from cancer numbers to anthrax numbers. But now they're back to cancer numbers, I guess. It took them four weeks to do this anthrax thing.
IOC NO FUN WATCH: They won't let this guy race his 9/11 themed skeleton sled. No fun at all. When that was true about the NFL (I'm not sure it still is true) you could call it the No Fun League; with the IOC you get....Intolerant Of Comedy. Or anything else. Hey, I saw about a zillion swooshes this week --how are those legal?

From the same article, a comment on skeleton: "Many see the sport as dangerous and those who race as crazed adrenaline freaks."
DORKITAL DIVIDE: I have a feeling that it says something about you if you use the word meme a lot or not, but I'm not sure what.
DIVERSIONS: There must be some What X Are You? generator out there because I've been seeing more of these lately. Here's the Sesame Street one. Via Blogatelle. I've seen in the past couple days tests for John Cusack characters and Office Space characters too.
COOL NEW COLLABABLOG: Sekimori of Blogatelle points out her dream blog, Soul Illustrations --dream blog like dream journal; it's a blog where the collaborators record their dreams. Neat. Just like Rarebit Fiends, by one of my comics faves Rick Veitch.
IT HAPPENED AGAIN: Kenyan lioness adopts another baby antelope. Her last one, you may recall, got eaten by another lion. But her antelope-love is no fluke:

When the lioness adopted her first calf last month, animal behaviourists said she had probably mistaken it for a lion cub. But on Friday she showed full awareness of the calf's species, allowing its real mother to feed it before chasing her away.

The bad news is if she keeps protecting the little thing it'll starve. I guess she's not consistently letting it feed from its real mother. Via the evpsych list.
LITTLE SANITY: Digs up the prescient Paglia quote.
MODERN LIFE: While I was over at ABC I found a pair of stories about Modern Living: this one on women postponing childbirth and this one on couples choosing to remain childless. Both get mileage off the idea of "having it all" and how possible that really is. The latter has a little bit on the highly weird pro-childlessness types who call the child-bearing "breeders" --just as an example of the fringe opinions you'd get with any group of people. The former is a little more hopeful as the woman they profile is sort of hopeful about being able to change the workplace eventually so having a kid doesn't hurt somebody's professional life. I guess that's the idea of "having it all," though squeezing a kid in there on the side sounds like the kind of thing that's going to damage the kid. But, then again, kids are more resilient than we usually think. Interesting stuff.
NEWS TO ANNOY: Little AP thing on which president Americans think was the best:

Lincoln was first among whites, but second among blacks, who overwhelmingly chose Clinton as the greatest president. One of Lincoln's best known achievements was freeing the slaves during the Civil War. Roosevelt was the leader among those 65 and older.

Via Drudge. Here's the ABC story.
FOOTBALL HELMETS: This Sportsfilter post reminds me of this old Dean Rasmussen piece on the aesthetics of football helmets.
CURLING: Richard Bennett has the rundown on the American women reaching the final four and the elimination of the men's team.
MORE MUSIC LISTS: Dave Tepper has one that he hasn't named yet. Start here and scroll up. Unlike the Dido Demographic, this is a list of albums that Dave thinks you actually should own, and not a list of albums whose presence in your collection indicates a high degree of faux-hipsterism.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

STANLEY KAUFFMAN: I like his reviews on TNR and everything, but it's 2002 and he's seeing his first anime? How did he miss Princess Mononoke? Which got a ton of hype.
MORE FREAKY FUTURISTIC WEAPONS: AC-130s will soon be equipped with lasers "that can shoot down missiles, punch holes in aircraft and knock out ground radar stations." That's what this article said with typical British journalistic hyperbole. Via Next Right.
MARYLAND BEATS DUKE: There are few more satisfying victories in sports than Maryland over Duke, and few greater sports hatreds than mine for Duke in March.
I JUST NOTICED THIS NOW: But the Interesting Monstah had the Valentine's Day posts I was looking for.
SNEAKING SUSPICIONS: Fritz Schrank counters the Dido Demographic with his own Out of Touch Bunch Music Test. All I have off that list is the Talking Heads album, so I am neither Out Of Touch nor Hipper Than You. I just don't have enough CDs.
SPORTS METAPHORS: If you're keeping score at home, short track equals NASCAR and figure skating equals pro wrestling. There you are.

In the midst of all the shock and disgust, Bradbury kept circling the ice, wearing the look of a child on Christmas. He had been blessed with not one, but two rounds of sheer dumb luck. In the semis, he also was far behind the leaders, but survived a crash 10 meters before the finish line.

Now he had won his country's first-ever Winter Olympic gold medal. He skated numbly around the oval to foundation-rumbling boos. He konked himself lightly in the head with his fist, as if he was checking to make sure he was awake. Then he looked up and pointed at two Aussie journalists who were up out of their seats, cheering him on.

Later, as he sang his national anthem during the medal ceremony, Bradbury couldn't wipe the smirk off his face.

"What a story we've got," one Aussie reporter exclaimed to his fellow writers as they waited for Bradbury in the mixed zone.

"Our first Winter gold medal ever?" another replied, sucking in a laugh.

"We're working with the French judge," joked another.

So does the Sydney Morning Herald, which points out that:

Commentators for NBC, host broadcaster of the Games, argued for a replay, pointing out an Australian, Jim Hewish, was race referee and that four of the five competitors were brought down on the final bend, leaving Bradbury to coast home.

But that's b.s. since Hewish restarted a race earlier that, if it had been left like it came out, would have benefited the Australians. This comment, which follows the above in the Herald, is also b.s.:

The complaints are echoes of the pro-North American media campaign which resulted in Skate-Gate and a promotion of silver medal-winning pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier to the gold alongside their Russian colleagues on Saturday.

Whatever. Tim Blair has comments too and is also down on the crowd for booing Marbury. He also reminds me that Ohno himself didn't seem disappointed in the least when they interviewed him afterwards; he said, without bitterness, "I skated the race of my life, and I got silver."
MATT WELCH: Actually gets paid to write and does so well in Reason, explaining the events and figures behind the "1.5 million Iraqi children killed by sanctions" story. Here he is on why sanctions are a bad idea in general:

Yet the basic argument against all economic sanctions remains: namely, that they tend to punish civilians more than governments and to provide dictators with a gift-wrapped propaganda tool. Any visitor to Cuba can see within 24 hours the futility of slapping an embargo on a sheltered population that is otherwise inclined to detest its government and embrace its yanqui neighbors. Sanctions give anti-American enclaves, whether in Cairo or Berkeley or Peshawar, one of their few half-convincing arguments about evil U.S. policy since the end of the Cold War.

Reason also has some new Peter Bagge up.
USA TODAY: Says Vegas has abandoned the family-friendly rhetoric and gotten back to the business of gambling and nekkid ladies:

''We pretended to be a family destination,'' says Gamal Aziz, the president of MGM Grand, which opened an entire theme park next to its casino in 1993. ''The (core) gambling market had gotten to a point of stagnation, and it was just another way to expand.''

Alas, the family-friendly rhetoric ''really backfired,'' he says.

But do you really have to go all the way to Vegas to find a strip club? Oh wait --these are artsy strip clubs:

''The buzz is that one of the casinos will install its own strip club,'' says Curtis, who notes that way back to Vegas' mobster days, casinos have lusted after every dollar that tourists bring to town.

But while the finances make sense, MGM Grand's Aziz says it's not something his casino plans anytime soon. ''You can't chase every business that is lucrative,'' he says.

Aziz says such an operation undoubtedly would draw a howl of protest from certain customers and shareholders of the casino's parent company, MGM/Mirage. ''It's not a morality call (on strip bars), but it certainly does not fit into our business.''

Indeed, casino executives -- perhaps eager not to offend female gamblers, who make up nearly 60% of Las Vegas visitors -- are careful to differentiate their new topless shows from those at the gentleman's clubs. Aziz stresses that La Femme is tasteful, noting that two-thirds of ticket buyers are couples.

That 60% has to include a whole lot of old ladies sitting in front of slot machines to explain the skewing female of Vegas tourists, I'm guessing.
DESTRO DID IT FIRST: Online proposal for research into an actual Air Force weather dominator or something like that. From the introduction:

A high-risk, high-reward endeavor, weather-modification offers a dilemma not unlike the splitting of the atom. While some segments of society will always be reluctant to examine controversial issues such as weather-modification, the tremendous military capabilities that could result from this field are ignored at our own peril. From enhancing friendly operations or disrupting those of the enemy via small-scale tailoring of natural weather patterns to complete dominance of global communications and counterspace control, weather-modification offers the war fighter a wide-range of possible options to defeat or coerce an adversary.

Via the eeeeevil American Samizdat collective.
AN ARTHUR ANDERSEN STORY: The great wrestling writer Irvin Muchnick sends along a link to his personal experience working with Arthur Andersen. Apparently Andersen's been a bit clueless for a while now.
SALON: Jumps on the Figure Skating: Sport Or Not debate. Kerry Lauerman offers the more-objectivity-needed argument:

If figure skating is to remain a valued part of the Olympics, and to continue being treated as a real sport, it must be forced to conform to understandable measures of accomplishment, instead of relying on the whims and connivings of what often appears to be an extremely bitchy sewing circle. If skating officials refuse to clean up their act, then they should be booted from the games -- and then, considering how lucrative the sport has become -- we might see some real tears on the ice.

King Kaufman on the other hand argues people watch figure skating for the same reason they watch NASCAR: for the crashes:

Figure skating dominates the Winter Olympics precisely because it's a circus. As a sport, it's never going to be anything but nonsense. As train-wreck entertainment, it's riveting. This is a sport whose popularity skyrocketed after Harding conspired with her then-husband and a buffoonish thug named Shane Stant to whack rival Nancy Kerrigan's knee and take her out of the Olympic trials in 1994. It's a sport where the stunning caprice of the judges and the amazing goofiness of the performers are assets, not detriments.

Sure, there are plenty of people who enjoy the salchows and the lutzes and the toe loops and the camels, there always have been, but figure skating is a commercial monster because of all the people who tune in to goof on its weirdness and wait for it to burst into flames and go over a cliff again, as it did this week.

I think he's wrong (just like I'm wrong about why people watch NASCAR) because there are figure skaters like Michelle Kwan who can consistently involve an audience emotionally via a dominating athletic performance. A truly objective way to judge figure skating would be to measure crowd reaction, which is also the way you can tell which pro wrestlers are really great. That or make them all skate the same routine every time.
GOOD OLYMPICS SITE: The Deseret News' WinterSports 2002 site. Via Protein Wisdom.
TV WATCHING: These guys on NBC are bitching about Apolo Ohno not getting the gold, saying he got knocked down and it's unfair he and the other racers who got knocked down don't get a chance at winning medals fair and square and they should rerun a race like that when it happens in a medal round (if you fall down in a non-medal round you can still advance, apparently.) I say no way, it's the unpredictability of short track that's getting me interested. Did you see the way Ohno won the silver? Just by scrambling and getting his blade over the finish in front of the Canadian. Cool. And I can't believe that crowd booed that Australian guy who won. He had the look of "holy crap, look what happened to me" amazement when he won and I hope they run some sort of human-interest story on him.
HOCKEY: USA and Russia just skated to a 2-2 tie. Good game. Keith Tkachuk got hurt near the end there, but Canadian American Brett Hull got the tying goal. This is what we wanted from this NHL Olympics thing.
BASTARDS: Terrorists behead sixteen-year-old girl in Kashmir. Via Rand Simberg.
MEDIA MINDED: Has the lengthy reader mail from Chris Blanchard on this USA Today article on racial diversity in the movies. Chris writes:

People can complain about Hollywood being racist all they want. But like any other major business, Hollywood always has its eyes on the prize: money. The reason why Hollywood doesn't cast minority actors, or casts them in certain genres, has nothing to do with not wanting to tell their stories, or not wanting to see them on the screens. They know certain audiences around the world do not want to see them there.

Chris also appears to be the first blogger to pick up on the Jayson Williams-limo driver "suicide" story. The Star-Ledger provides the details:

Former Nets star Jayson Williams was playfully twirling a loaded shotgun while giving friends a tour of his home early Thursday when the weapon accidentally discharged, killing a limousine driver Williams had hired for the night, law enforcement sources said.

The account of Williams' involvement in the shooting emerged in hours-long interviews with witnesses who initially reported the death of 55-year-old Costas Christofi as a suicide.

The hey? At least the Nets ended that losing streak.
PHOTODUDE: Has the neat post called The Hidden Olympics on what NBC isn't showing you. The other Hidden Olympics involves a curling match on TV not involving an American team.
KEN GOLDSTEIN: On the actual cityness of Jersey City, a little-known fact to the rest of the world, I'm guessing. Or even the rest of the state.
THOSE NIKE ADS: With the piano in the background and the clips of all the athletes? I find them inspiring. I'm still not buying their crappy sneakers.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

SHORT TRACK SPEED SKATING: Why hasn't this caught on yet? It rocks. And it's very science fiction-looking. Australia wins its first Winter gold the same day China does.

Friday, February 15, 2002

MORE HOCKEY: New York Times article on the half-assed way the NHL is approaching the Olympics.
KLOOGNOME: Robert Crawford beats up on this Guardian article about the IOC never wanting another American Olympics. Robert fails to mention that the writer thinks Utah is in the Midwest. I mean, it's in the Mountain West and there's a real and substantial difference resulting from living at that altitude. RIght? Maybe that's a small point to make --but it's my only line....
THE SADNESS OF JAPAN: Is The Economist's cover story this week. They report:

Even those onlookers who see Japan’s malaise as chronic but not at crisis-point, are fretting for another reason. Unlike most previous bouts of panic, this one has far more potential to cause trouble in the rest of the world, where much of East Asia is still in recession, and an American recovery is still shaky. Japan remains a big trader, investor and lender, so any collapse would affect all its counterparties.

Much bigger than the Argentine collapse. Scary.
ESPN: Has a nice history of hockey in Russia.
REASON'S BUCKET O' LINKS: Just noticed the Reason Editor's Links page, which gives their recommendations for surfing in the form of something like a miniature Suck article. They should give it its own page like Best Of The Web so we can all link to it.
MORE ON THE MORBIDLY OBESE: Boing Boing has the link to the report on Fox's new Glutton Bowl show. International Federation of Competitive Eating? Has a website? You're kidding me. I guess this is what the male morbidly obese do, since my dad, who does some bariatric surgery, tells me most of his patients are women. Except I think I'm wrong because the Japanese competitors are little guys. I don't know what to think.
THE ATLANTIC WATCHING: Thanks to the Atlantic I am hipped to the existence of Andy Warhol's time capsules:

This serial work, spanning a thirty-year period from the early 1960s to the late 1980s, consists of 610 standard sized cardboard boxes, which Warhol, beginning in 1974, filled, sealed and sent to storage. Warhol used these boxes to manage the bewildering quantity of material that routinely passed through his life. Photographs, newspapers and magazines, fan letters, business and personal correspondence, art work, source images for art-work, books, exhibition catalogues, and telephone messages, along with objects and countless examples of ephemera, such as announcements for poetry readings and dinner invitations, were placed on an almost daily basis into a box kept conveniently next to his desk.

That statement from the Andy Warhol museum is, of course, far too kind in calling Warhol's old junk a "serial work" but I have to admit this appeals to my own sense of obsessiveness, which I think is behind every urge to collect. Sadly, my collecting urges are mostly stillborn, and I have neither the drive nor the money to collect on the scale Warhol did. The best I do, I guess, is that I collect a bunch of links. But this Warhol thing is something I would have found amazingly cool when I was about ten or so, and would've no doubt started my own time capsule that afternoon. And would have abandoned it within a month.
OLYMPIC BLOGGING: While you're reading The Donkey's dispatches, you should also be checking out blogger b-may, who is also live and in color there. Found via Confessions of a girl in love, who I found via one of those Blogsnob ads that I saw on next right. I guess advertising does pay dividends sometimes in terms of publicity.