Saturday, August 23, 2003

in the news 

Important things in the news today:

1) Bill Simon is dropping out of the California governor's race "in the interset of the Republican Party" according to a spokesperson. This leaves Brooke Adams as Arnold's only serious rightwing competition. Brooke has yet to challenge Arnold to his choice of a debate or mud-wrestling match.

2) A federal judge has ruled that there is no way in hell that any intelligent person could mistake Al Franken for the Fox News Channel.

3) Double Asshat nominee Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to obey a federal court ruling requiring the removal of a monument to the Ten Commandments.

Andrew Stuttaford reports that Judge Moore, while accepting an award from the National Clergy Council and Methodist Episcopal Church USA, told the audience that Godlessness may have been the cause of the September 11 attacks:
"How many of you remember Americans running to get gas masks because (of) some bearded man in Afghanistan?" Moore asked during his address at Georgetown University. "Fear struck this country
. . . You see, there are consequences when we turn away from our source of our strength."
John Derbyshire (stupidly) defends the Moore's and the Pat Robertson's of the world because these comments "are theologically perfectly respectable in both the Judiac and Christian (and therefore, presumably, also the Muslim) traditions."

Well John, stoning a disobedient child is also deeply rooted in Christian tradition, but no one really believes in the policy today. Likewise, God-guilt because some terrorists half a world away decided to murder 2,500 of our own is also really out of date. I thought the vengeful God went out of style with the Old Testament.

Celebrities on Arnold 

From Tom Maguire, I see that celebrities are lining up against Arnold (NY Post link no longer works). On the radio yesterday, Eliza Dushku is supportive of Arnold, though, and she alone is better than the whole list of celebrities on the other side.

well duh 

Lee Abrams, founder of XM Radio, says that CD sales are down because artists are producing CDs that suck:
"There are periods of lull, where really there's no major statements being made, music tends to become very corporate, very McDonald's rock, all the same, and right now we're in a period of musical lull," Abrams said. "And I mean, every indicator is there."

To Abrams, the peak musical periods of the last half century were:

1955-57, when rock 'n' roll emerged as a major force, led by artists such as Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.
1964, when The Beatles made their first U.S. tour.
1967-1969, when guitarist Jimi Hendrix's explosive style began to galvanize a generation of musicians and fans.
1980-81, when punk rock and rap emerged.
A "mini-peak" in 1990-91, when grunge came to the fore, and hip-hop had one of its better creative periods.
Abrams also dispells the myth that MP3s are causing the downfall of CD sales:
"If you look at the latest statistics, the biggest record consumers are over 40," he said. "You can't find anybody other than the rare technophile over 30 who knows how to download to an MP3 player. There's just an absurd -- and this has always been going on in the record business -- an infatuation with the youth audience, instead of looking at the big picture. Today, the 40-plus [consumers] are buying the records, and it's the 40-plus that will put on a CD and listen to it all the way through."

Friday, August 22, 2003

A long year for the Patriots running game 

A thought while watching the preseason game:

Does any running back on the New England Patriots know how to run forward, not sideways?

Hell for the mundane 

Michele Catalano already took care of the idiots, so I'll handle a pet peeve of mine: grammatical mistakes. Anyone who makes any of these mistakes are confined to their own level of hell.

in behalf/on behalf
Circle I Limbo

due to/owing to
Circle II Whirling in a Dark & Stormy Wind

Circle III Mud, Rain, Cold, Hail & Snow

like/as if
Circle IV Rolling Weights

Circle V Stuck in Mud, Mangled

River Styx

Circle VI Buried for Eternity

River Phlegyas

Circle VII Burning Sands

Circle IIX Immersed in Excrement

Circle IX Frozen in Ice

Design your own hell

The real cause of the blackout 

I blame the Patriot Act.

But we know what's good for them ... 

A new poll across 44 countries shows that people in poor countries are most likely to approve of globalization and multinational companies than those in rich countries:

More, not less, economic integration is good for the world, according to a worldwide poll, conducted by the Pew Global Attitude Survey. David Dollar, Director of Developmental Policy at the World Bank, cites findings from the survey to support the argument he has made in the past that globalization indeed helps reduce poverty and inequality.


Contradicting the anti-globalization movement’s claims, Dollar says that most “striking in the survey is that views of globalization are distinctly more positive in low-income countries than in rich ones.” For example, in Sub-Saharan Africa 75% of households thought that multinational corporations had a positive influence on their country, compared to only 54% in rich countries. Of the 38,000 people in 44 nations surveyed, those in the developing world generally blamed their local governments, not globalization, for their country’s ills.


The anti-globalization movement often claims that integration leads to growing inequality within countries, with no benefits going to the poor. Generally, this is not true. There are certainly some countries in which inequality has risen, like China and the U.S., but there is no worldwide trend. Most important, in the developing countries that are growing well as a result of integration and other reforms, rapid growth translates into rapid poverty reduction.
I don't think this will stop any of the anti-globalization forces, though, from acting as if they speak for the poor people of the world.

(Via Tyler Cowen at The Volokh Conspiracy).

I'm not here to talk about tennis either 

Anna Kournikova endorses sports bra available exclusively through Amazon.com. The story is well worth clicking on because it brings you a whole new side of Anna, her stomach. Damn, I never knew that girl had such fine abs.

the next best thing to do, the first best thing being nothing 

So I get this e-mail from the Liberman campaign yesterday:
Don't Stand on the Sidelines: Be Part of Joe's Debate Prep Team. Ever wanted to be part of a presidential debate team? Here's your chance. Joe is gearing up for the first nationally televised presidential debate on September 4th. To help him get ready, we're asking our supporters to send us questions you think might come up that night.

We want to know the challenges facing everyday Americans, the issues that matter most to concerned citizens, and what you want to know about Joe's solutions for the future.

Click here to be a part of Joe's Debate Prep Team:
I'm taking Peter Beinart's advice and asking Joe to stand up for McCain-Feingold by having Scott Thomas reappointed to the FEC.

the international forces pacifier myth 

"Question: When is a conquering army a liberator rather than an occupier?"

According to Richard E. Rubenstein the answer is: as soon as we get the heck out of Iraq. The logic goes that, things can only get worse for us, so let's leave! Yeah, that's a bright idea, Let's leave a power vaccuum so the Taliban -middle east can seize power with their boots on the necks of the average Iraqi. Or better yet, they could try and assault the Kurdish areas and instigate a civil war.

But the idiocy gets better!
As the tragic bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad shows, the U.N. is no more credible as long as it functions as an arm of the occupation authority.

A multinational team of facilitators agreed to by leaders of the major Iraqi communities is what the Iraqis need to take possession of their own land and resources.
So the UN, which basically opposed the coalition every step of the way, is suddenly our lackey because it got attacked? And the answer to prevent further attacks is a more diverse group of multinational forces on the ground?

If the UN, which is the most diverse multinational body on Earth, suffered the most lethal attack, shouldn't that lead us to conclude that the Iraqi Insurrection is being led by forces which oppose all outside aide in Iraq, and not just the US/UK/Coalition forces? Since rational people should be able to understand why that is, isn't it imperative that we prevent these forces from seizing control of Iraq?

UPDATE: Viking Pundit has more on the myth of failure in Iraq.

Conservative media bias! 

Mickey Kaus reports that the supermarket tabloids are covering up dirt on Arnold.

Thursday, August 21, 2003

But I like the chicken soft taco ... 

Taco Bell is offering a chance for its customers to "vote" on the California recall by using its products as proxies for the candidates. Buying a beef crunchy taco means a vote for Arnold, a chicken soft taco is a vote for Davis, and a grilled stuft burrito is a vote for one of the other candidates.

(Via The Volokh Conspiracy).

No Maybe 

From Kevin Drum comes a report that Arnold said "Never say never" on raising taxes as a solution to balancing the budget. Now that in and of itself is not a mistake, but it was the way in which that statement came out that will hurt him. Earlier in his remarks, he had said unequivocally, "I will not raise taxes." If he was going to say that raising taxes was a possibility, he should have said it in his prepared statement the beginning, not in the end during questions from reporters. Instead of looking like a moderate, he now looks like an unprincipled conservative in this area. Simon and McClintock can attack him for not being sufficiently conservative, but Arnold can't claim the mantle of a moderate.

In related news, Mark Kleiman says Davis is toast.

with headlines like these, who needs Gigli? 

Mandy Moore Knows 'How To Deal' When A Movie Bombs:
A lot of actresses might have danced around the subject, but when it comes to her latest movie's lukewarm reception at the box office, Mandy Moore doesn't mince words.

"[It] bombed," she said flatly, sounding more bummed than defensive while discussing "How to Deal"'s $5.8 million opening, roughly half of what "A Walk to Remember" earned when it debuted last year. "It's my first experience going through something like that. ... You can't let it bother you. If you live and die by everything, you're never going to make it. You can't live film to film. That's my take on it.

Here's a silly question, wouldn't a movie that opens with only $11.6 million dollars also be considered a bomb?

Moore flogging:
Moore said she plans to put acting on hold for the rest of the year to unwind and to focus on promoting her upcoming covers album, Coverage, which hits stores in October and revisits the work of artists ranging from Cat Stevens to Joan Armatrading.

So she's not even writing her own songs anymore? How many failed projects before we can add Mandy to the long list of people who really should never have left MTV?

maybe Brooke can get an anchor gig 

A guide to the Fox babes.

Heather Nauert and Jennifer Eccleston are heads and shoulders above the rest, but what happened to Molly de Romel? She was a babe in her own right, but her bio isn't listed on the Fox bio page.

Now this is a miracle drug 

Derek Lowe (not that Derek Lowe):"The only thing that's for certain is that when some patients take clomipramine, they have orgasms when they yawn."

(Via Instapundit).

Spam contest 

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

We don't need no stinking badges! 

Last week, Eugene Volokh links to the Pennridge School District (Pennsylvania) Web site, which claims that if one were to link to the site one must first ask for permission. Volokh gives them a rhetorical bitchslapping in explaining why it is perfectly legal to link to their site, and many other web logs followed suit.

Now Ben Domenech points to this gem:

''You have to ask to post somebody's logos and link to somebody's site,'' said Boston 2004 executive director Julie Burns. ''We did not give them permission nor did they ask permission to link to our site.''
Boston 2004, which is the host committee of the 2004 Democratic national Convention, is mad at this web site for claiming to be the Official Guide for the Democratic National Convention 2004 in Boston. Here's more from Eric Lindholm.

Maybe they meant it in the Harry Potter kind of way 

Why would anyone have their school's nickname be the "Halfbreeds"?

And what's their mascot?

Blame it on the reigning administration 

While Republicans and Democrats are blaming each other for the blackout, some in France are blaming the heat wave on the United States, according to Howard Fineman:

The blame-America attitude gets silly at times. For example, you might have wondered what caused the suffocating heat wave that has blanketed Europe recently. I found out the moment we arrived in Rouen. There, on the front page of the newspaper Le Monde, was a cartoon: an oppressive sun, with eyes made of dollar signs, smoking a cigar/factory with dollar signs, sending out thunderbolts of heat that pierced a prostrate Europe. In Paris, I asked a young businessman about the cartoon. “Well, of course,” he said as if I were an idiot. “Your President Bush did not sign the Kyoto Accord.” In other words, America was at fault because it had not signed a treaty that will not go into effect for years. And France was NOT at fault, even though its auto fleet contains millions of diesel engines and its nuclear power plants are turning French rivers hot enough to boil mussels.
(Via Michael Totten).

stop me if you've heard this one before 

Today's oddball referral: a google search for "queer muslim for peace and social justice jokes"

Hopefully C.A.I.R. won't be suing us anytime soon.

Recall is on 

A federal court judge refuses to delay the recall in a ruling today. The court didn't buy the ACLU's claim that the use of punch-card machines in six California counties would disadvantage minority voters.

The meaning of statistics 

Nick thinks that the Red Sox's paltry record in games in which they score 4 or fewer runs means they can't win "when the heat is on". The link he provides gives us his chart:

Record In Games Where Scoring 4 Runs or Less
Wins Losses Percentage
Oak 25 41 .379
Sea 21 40 .344
NYY 13 38 .255
Bos 9 35 .205

Let me add these numbers from some bad American League teams:

Wins Losses Percentage
Oak 25 41 .379
Sea 21 40 .344
Cle 22 61 .265
NYY 13 38 .255
TB 18 52 .247
Bos 9 35 .205
Det 13 78 .143
Tex 5 48 .094

Wow, Boston is behind Tampa Bay. But what's Cleveland doing ahead of New York? Surely it can't mean that they're better than the Yankees under pressure?

Let me further add to the chart the rank among these teams in runs scored and earned run average:

Wins Losses Percentage Offense ERA
Oak 25 41 .379 5 1
Sea 21 40 .344 4 2
Cle 22 61 .265 7 4
NYY 13 38 .255 2 3
TB 18 52 .247 6 6
Bos 9 35 .205 1 5
Det 13 78 .143 8 7
Tex 5 48 .094 3 8

As you can see, the record of a team when scoring four runs or fewer correlates almost perfectly to the quality of a team's pitching. As you go down the chart, the team's ERA gets worse. The conclusion to be drawn: a team's record when it scores four runs or fewer is an indication of the quality of the pitching, not the team's ability to perform under pressure.

A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead walks into a prison cell... 

No more blonde jokes in Sarajevo:

Blonde jokes are set to be made illegal in Bosnia under new laws that will enable women to sue people who make jokes about their hair colour.

The gender equality law, due to come into effect within the next two months, will make it an offence to tell jokes about women based on their hair colour.

Savima Terzic, director of the International Group for Human Rights, told Bosnian daily newspaper Nezavisne Novine: "The new law on gender equality would enable blonde women to sue anyone who tells jokes that offend them, even if those jokes were just based on the colour of their hair."

Blonde jokes are said to be massively popular in Bosnia.
So that's why people say feminists have no sense of humor.

Maybe they'll outlaw Jewish jokes, Catholic jokes, Polish jokes, and dentist jokes next.

when the heat is on 

...the Red Sox don't come through. Why are they a game back for the wildcard? Because they're 9-35 in games where they score less than 4 runs according to Tim Daloisio of RSN.

Corner events 

Jonah Goldberg returns from vacation and gives us another reason not to like Howard Dean.

Meanwhile, National Review is getting sued.

Market Watch: 8.20.03 

Each Wednesday, we monitor tradesports.com to see what degenerate gamblers think about upcoming elections. Last week's numbers in parentheses. Bold marks major movements. If you don't understand these numbers you can think of them percents (i.e. bettors think that Cruz Bustamente has a 31.0-34.5 percent chance of winning).

stock:high bid-low ask

Gray Davis to survive September: 88-94 (78-96)
survive December: 17-24 (20-23)
survive March: 14-19 (15-19)

Most votes in recall election
Cruz Bustamente 31.0-34.5 (19.1-22.0)
Arianna Huffington 0-0.5 (0.1-0.5)
Tom McClintock 0.6-2.0 (1.0-3.0)
Arnold Schwarzenegger 47.0-49.0 (56.0-58.0)
Bill Simon 1.7-2.3 (3.7-5.0)
Peter Ueberroth 0.2-2.0 (1.0-3.0)
FIELD 13.8-15.9 (0.3-3.0)
RECALL FAILS (17.5-20.0)

Democratic primary
Hillary Clinton 6-9 (8-9)
Dean 25-29 (27-31)
Edwards 4-5 (4-6)
Gephardt 5-7 (6-7)
Kerry 28-32 (29-31)
Lieberman 14-16 (12-13)
FIELD 10-14 (9-11)

Bush reelection 65-67 (65-68)
Bush wins Massachusetts 22-27 (22-27)

Electoral votes if every state result was rightly predicted:
Bush 397, Democrat 141, Dem. states CA 55, CT 7, HI 4, MD 10, MA 12, NJ 15, NY 31, RI 4, VT 3 (Last week same)

how not to spend your wedding night 

"If Adrienne Samen ever forgets the details of her wedding reception, the police will be able to provide her with an official account, including a photograph."

Read the whole, histerical, thing here.

(Link via Dave Barry's Blog)

rebuilding Hei Lun's self esteem 

OpinionJournal knows who Frank Lloyd Wright is, so can you!


A question on my mind: Are today's "progressives" out of synch with their forefathers?

Let's take a verse from "Revolution" by The Beatles:
You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
Sounds like "no blood for oil", doesn't it?

questions to follow for 2004 

Has the dividend tax cut done any good for the economy? Slate's Daniel Gross says no. I'm inclined to agree.

the Baghdad-Bob Corporation? 

A pretty popular fact on college campuses these days is that, if you want real reporting, you need to avoid the devil-corporate spawn CNN and Fox and head overseas to the BBC.


The outrage begins with the $187 flat, per year fee, that the BBC is allowed to charge every home running a television set. But, the muck runs much deeper, as OxBlog's Josh Chafetz reports:
THE WAR IN IRAQ has left in its wake a string of embarrassments for the BBC that have many questioning its privileged status. Throughout the war, the BBC was consistently--and correctly--accused of antiwar bias. These accusations began almost as soon as the fighting did, when the BBC described the death of two Royal Air Force crew members, after their jet was accidentally downed by a U.S. Patriot missile, as the "worst possible news for the armed forces." On March 26 (less than a week into the fighting), Paul Adams, the BBC's own defense correspondent in Qatar, fired off a memo to his bosses: "I was gobsmacked to hear, in a set of headlines today, that the coalition was suffering 'significant casualties.' This is simply NOT TRUE." He went on to ask, "Who dreamed up the line that the coalition are achieving 'small victories at a very high price?' The truth is exactly the opposite. The gains are huge and costs still relatively low. This is real warfare, however one-sided, and losses are to be expected." Outside critics were even blunter: They revived the nickname "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation," a coinage from the first Gulf War, when BBC broadcasts from the Iraqi capital were censored by Saddam's government without viewers' being notified.

"What makes the BBC's behavior particularly heinous," noted Douglas Davis, the London correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, "is the relentless indulgence of its penchant for what might be politely termed 'moral equivalence' at a time when Britain is at war with a brutal enemy and its servicemen are dying on the battlefield." Mark Damazer, the deputy director of BBC News, did nothing to dispel that kind of criticism when he said (in a speech to Media Workers Against the War, no less) that it would be a "mistake" for BBC journalists to use the word "liberate" when referring to areas now under coalition control. Stephen Whittle, the BBC's controller of editorial policy, piled on, telling his journalists to refer to the armed forces as "British troops" and not "our" troops.

While Damazer graciously admitted that the BBC "make[s] mistakes," most of those mistakes were distinctly unfriendly towards the coalition. For example, on April 3, after U.S. troops had taken control of the Baghdad airport, Andrew Gilligan (remember that name) reported on the BBC World Service and on the BBC website, "Within the last 90 minutes I've been at the airport. There is simply no truth in the claims that American troops are surrounding it. We could drive up to it quite easily. The airport is under full Iraqi control." That was Gilligan's story, and the BBC was sticking to it--until another correspondent pointed out that Gilligan was not, in fact, at the airport, but U.S. troops quite clearly were.

a new missle gap? 

Why aren't we developing technologies like these?
The European Space Agency said that the innovative solar-powered engines behind its unmanned lunar probe, SMART-1, will transform space travel by propelling craft at higher speeds and greater distance than those powered by traditional rocket fuel.


The ion engines on SMART-1 are 10 times more efficient and therefore faster than conventional rocket-fueled ones, and could slash years from interplanetary journeys.

The probe's engine uses solar panels that converts sunlight into thrust. The light is converted into electricity, which is then used to convert xenon gas atoms into ions.

This tiny matter is then thrust out of the engine at high speed, providing propulsion. The solar panels provide only 0.07 newton of thrust - the equivalent to the weight of a postcard. But as they build up speed continuously they can eventually travel far faster than a craft powered by traditional rocket fuel.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Broadband for everybody! 

The Howard Dean Pander Express continues.

In an effort to win the Democratic nomination by throwing out all his principles (I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt that he doesn't really believe in all these policies he's going along with), Howard Dean has promised to spend government money to increase broadband access to rural areas. Dean had earlier said that he wanted to increase agricultural subsidies. Now he wants broadband subsidies. I have a feeling that by Christmas we will have heard him advocating pumpkin subsidies, people with the last name Harkin subsidies, Playstation subsidies, and every other ridiculous thing one could imagine to gin up 3 more votes out of Iowa.

Now broadband subsidies could be halfway defensible if rural areas were actually far behind in internet access. But as Josh Benson points out in the link above, 48% of farmers already have internet access, compared to 58% of the American population. Not that I favor giving anyone subsidies for internet access, but wouldn't the group most in need be blacks in inner cities? Why isn't Dean advocating for that instead of people who really don't need help? The question answers itself of course; there are few poor urban blacks in Iowa.

There are poor urban blacks in South Carolina, but the campaigning haven't started there yet. Maybe we'll hear about broadband subsidies for urban area in another six months. Broadband for everybody!

Will the Ewing Theory strike again? 

Sports Guy Bill Simmons of ESPN Page 2 have had a theory for years that in certain sports situations, a team will play better after its star player either leaves or suffers a major injury. He named it the Ewing Theory, after former New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing, whose teams always seem to play better when he's out injured.

Now Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is out for 6-8 weeks and is replaced by Doug Johnson. While the injury is not season ending, it took all the momentum out of the Falcons, and Johnson has only two weeks to get acclimated to the offense and with new receiver Peerless Price.

But the situation is perfect for the team to come out strong. On offense, the Falcons have many quality skill players, even without Vick. Doug Johnson is one of the best backup quarterbacks in the game, as SI's Peter King predicted that he will be one of the most sought after players in next year's free agency pool. The Falcons also have a relatively easy schedule to begin the season. In the first six weeks, they are at Dallas, at home against Washington and Tampa Bay, at Carolina, home against Minnesota, and at St. Louis. Though Vick is projected to miss six weeks and be back by the Minnesota game, he could easily miss two more games (Donavon McNabb missed eight weeks with the same injury last year). It is not inconceivable that they could go 5-1 in that stretch.

The five games after that are against Philadelphia, the New York Giants, Tennessee, and twice against New Orleans. What will the fans say if Johnson goes 5-1, then Vick loses three of the next five?

Truth in advertising 

Erin O'Connor points to a new college that is explicit in advocating progressive causes:

San Francisco's New College of California is offering something for the socially conscious this fall that they'd never get marching in the streets:

a college degree in activism.

For $5,500 to $6,000 a semester, the 32-year-old Mission District school is offering bachelor's and master's humanities degrees with a concentration in "activism and social change." While schools from Vermont to Santa Cruz boast versions of do-gooding curricula, degrees in activism are hard to come by.

"Students can shape their own (activist) program at other schools," said Michael Baer, senior vice president at the American Council on Education and former provost at Northeastern University. "But to have it all together -- the theoretical and the practical -- under one roof and labeled as such is somewhat rare."
While I don't know what value is there in a degree in "activism and social change", at least they're not pretending to be fair and balanced, and parents know what they're paying for. The irony of course is that this college, which is all for the little guys, will end up with mostly rich kids who had never worked a day in their lives, and they'll be getting training to not do real work for the rest of their lives.

Substance-free Arnold? 

So far, Arnold Schwarzenegger has been rightly criticized for being vague on the issues and not answering questions. But that's going to stop, because besides a planned Q&A session with political writers Wednesday, Arnold is going to take a tough grilling on ... Oprah. Wha? No Tim Russert, no Bob Schieffer? I mean, come on, Oprah? Even Katie Couric would be a tougher interview, because she's going to ask about his father being a Nazi. Maybe Oprah will surprise us and ask Arnold the tough questions on the budget, Props. 13 and 187, and civil unions, but it's probably going to be a lot of fluff with questions about his wife Maria Shriver and his acting career.

(Via Daniel Weintraub).

Anti-farm subsidy blog 

The Guardian has started a blog devoted to ending all agricultural subsidies. Their site is called kickAAS, which stands for "Help the poorest countries by kicking into oblivion All Agricultural Subsidies":

Eat the last free lunch in economics. Everyone gains. Abolition would save Western governments over $300 billion a year (equivalent to a cashback of over $200 for everyone) while giving a huge boost to agriculture in developing countries. Poor countries could sell products – like sugar, cereals and skimmed milk – they are much better suited to produce. At the moment they are being undercut even in their own domestic markets by subsidised Western produce. Sometimes trade is better than aid. And it costs nothing.

The present system doesn't even do what it claims to do. According to the OECD less than half of the $300 billion handouts get through even to the most efficient farmers. Even farmers would gain from abolition – by kicking subsidies that have become a dependency habit.
Abolishing agricultural subsidies is one of the very few campaigns that unites right, left and centre. Join us and kickAAS.

Pryor filibuster: bad for Democrats 

So says Clay Risen in the New Republic:

... the Democrats have pledged to filibuster up to six more candidates up for votes after the August recess--a prospect that must weigh heavy on the minds of Democratic strategists already worried about the public's growing aversion to Democratic obstructionism. For their part, Republicans are already fond of pointing to polls that show Democrats receiving bad marks for being overly negative--such as a July Winston Group poll in which 44 percent of respondents said the filibusters made them less favorably inclined toward Democrats (and that was before Pryor). True, most people don't follow appellate nominations closely enough to be outraged by the sudden proliferation of filibusters. But then there have never been nine filibusters at once. Which is why Democrats would be well-advised to stick with the original plan and drop the Pryor filibuster when Congress reconvenes in September.
Read the whole thing.


Instapundit says he "wouldn't mind being replaced by a robot". You mean he hadn't already been replaced by a robot? How is any blogger so proficient?

Of course, no computer program knows how to say "Indeed!" in the right places.

Georgy vs. Brooke 

It's Georgy Russell vs. Brooke Adams, round 3.

1) She looks just like Trista Rehn

That's not a strike in my book. Now my opinion might have been different if I had actually seen three seconds of the Bachelor/ette, but who'd be dumb enough to do that? Plus she gets coolness points for playing in the celebrity game during the Baseball All-Star festivities, even though she sucked.

2) She's already predicted her victory

Who doesn't? Unless you're Patrick Ewing, who had made approximately 857 guarantees for a victory and lost every time, making winning predictions is not a bad thing.

3) She's in favor of a flat tax

And Georgy is a Howard Dean fan. Now who's nuts?

I think Georgy still has the lead here, since she has a blog, but we won't be sure until some unscrupulous person posts pictures of Brooke online like someone did with Georgy.

when worlds collide 

The Washington Post has a griping essay on one woman's struggle with the concept of arranged marriage:
Now, almost everyone I know -- friends, teachers, co-workers -- expects me, as a child of the West, to reject the notion of arranged marriage, to proclaim my independence loudly. Sometimes, I still expect that, too. But as a young Muslim woman, I also expect myself to accept the obligations I have as my parents' daughter -- regardless of the emotional cost to me.

Pakistani culture and Islam beckon me with security, familiarity and ease. By agreeing to an arranged marriage, I could more easily satisfy my religious obligation to abstain from intimacy with the opposite sex until marriage -- not an easy feat, may I say. I would be participating in the ceremony of a culture 11,000 miles removed, a ceremony I've witnessed only twice. By doing so, I could spare my parents the stinging criticism they would face if their daughter chose her own path: barbs from three generations of extended family, all of whom accepted their own arranged marriages without argument -- and some of whom complain about them to this day.

The whole article is a really well presented description of the difficulties of being the generational gap in a new society. If you've ever known anyone who was first generation from a very traditional society the whole article is well worth reading. Their struggles are almost incomprehensible.

Sex Cauldron! I thought they closed that place down. 

OpinionJournal has a poignant account of life in Iraq, authored by one of our brave young heroes:
There's more to America than New York, Washington and Los Angeles. The same is true for Iraq; there's a vast country outside Baghdad and the "Sunni triangle" that's now the center of a guerrilla campaign. It's understandable that Western press reports are fixated on attacks that kill American soldiers. But that focus is obscuring what's actually happening in the rest of the country--and it misleads the public into thinking that Iraqis are growing angry and impatient with their liberators.


The "Arab Street" I've meet in Iraq loves--that's not too strong of a word--America and is deeply grateful for our presence. Far from resenting the American military, most Iraqis seem to fear that we will leave too soon and that in our absence the Baath Party tyranny will resume. This sentiment is readily apparent whenever we venture into the city. We don't make it far outside of our camp before throngs of happy, smiling children greet us.

"Good, good!" they yell, as they run into the street, often oblivious to oncoming traffic. They give us a hearty thumbs-up and vigorously wave and pump their hands. They are eager to see us and to talk with us. To them, it is clear, we are heroes who liberated them from Saddam Hussein.


"We are very glad that you are here and we hope you never leave," Zaid, a 31-year-old mechanical engineer, told me. "If you leave, then there will be more trouble. The Bath Party thugs will take over."

Zaid makes a decent living selling pirated American movies. He enjoys sophisticated dramas like "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Saving Private Ryan." But most Iraqis, he notes, prefer action-packed adventures starring Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Mr. Van Damme especially is quite popular with Al Hillah children.)

Of course, if you were to listen to the Associated Press' account, you would believe that the same blackmarket DVDs that are available in every major US city are a clear sign of the coalitions ineptness:
"Now we have freedom and democracy," said a 34-year-old trader selling pornographic DVDs with titles such as "The Dirty Family" and "The Young Wife," and photocopied postcards of couples in various sexual positions. "We could not sell them when Saddam was here."

This is Baghdad four months after U.S. troops took over the sprawling city of 5 million -- jobless, insecure, and in many cases taking "freedom and democracy" as license to do pretty much what you want and get away with it.

The trader, a father of two young daughters, was too embarrassed to give his name. Pornography is strictly forbidden by Islam. "It's too bad, but there's no job for me," he said.

Formerly a government civil engineer earning about $150 a month, he said he lost the job the day before the March 20 U.S. invasion. His streetside sales are now netting him about $1,500 a month.

As he speaks, young men gather around, some appearing drunk or high. Gunfire erupts in the background. Hardly anyone appears to notice.

All of you in the Associated Press who have never bought pornography, or have never been intoxicated or high please step forward. That's what I thought. Where does the anti-war bullshit end? How is it possible that the same people who're probably largely in favor of decriminalizing drugs in the western world are shocked and appalled that the Iraqi street feels the exact same way?

in the news 

1. Hank Azaria wins an emmy award for his Simpsons work.

2. Patricia Heaton (aka TV's yummiest mummy) has returned to the set of Everybody Loves Raymond, but Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts are still missing in action.

3. John McCain tells Katie Couric that we need more troops in Iraq:
"I don't think any of us -- including them (U.S. troops) -- anticipated the amount and sophistication of these attacks," the Arizona senator told NBC's "Today" show.

"I think they may need more people, both in the military overall and perhaps here on the ground. That's one of the things, I think, we will be looking at," he added.

re: the emerging Republican majority 

Liberman's pro-censorship anti-hollywood bull dung is a big thorn in my side. Granted, when weighed against Howard Dean's ridiculous foreign policy, his views aren't all that offensive, but any policy that make Dee Snider the Rosa Parks of his time and place needs to be abandoned.

wasn't it about the oil? 

In a story about the UK looking to have the Security Council formally end sactions against Libya, Reuters reports:
Lifting the U.N. sanctions would have only a symbolic impact as they were suspended in 1999 after Libya turned over two suspects for trial in connection with the Pan Am bombing.

One, a Libyan intelligence agent, was later convicted of the crime in 2001, while the second was acquitted.

Separate U.S. sanctions include a ban on Libyan oil sales to the United States, which Washington has vowed to keep in force.

If we really needed oil, why not lift these sanctions? Libya has essentially come full circle and claimed responsibility for the PanAm bombing, if the United States is an amoral beast with a thirst for oil, wouldn't we end sanctions which have outlived the Reagan-era policy makers who put them in place in order to aquire access to oil?

re: tough choice 

This isn't a tough choice at all. Brooke has, at minimum, three collosal strikes against her candidacy:

1) She looks just like Trista Rehn
2) She's already predicted her victory
3) She's in favor of a flat tax

Monday, August 18, 2003

Tough choice 

Georgy Russell might have some competition in Brooke Adams for the Duck Season endorsement.

(Via Peter Robinson at The Corner).

Another emerging Republican majority? 

The Economist says that young people are flocking to the right. Call me unconvinced, because even if it was true, this article fails to make the case.

Let's look at the main contentions:

Bob Dole lost the 18-29-year-old vote by 19 percentage points; Mr Bush lost by two points.
The Republicans made up 17 points between 1996 and 2000 because the popular Clinton got replaced by not-so-popular Gore and Lieberman on the Democratic ticket. As Danny Goldberg argues in How the Left Lost Teen Spirit, Gore and Lieberman's pro-censorship and anti-pop culture views did more to lose the Democratic advantage among the young than anything the Republicans did. And many young people in 2000 voted for Nader, who was absent from the race in 1996.

Students have been sceptical about bossy governments for years. Now they are increasingly sceptical about the “Ab Fab” values of the 1960s generation—particularly in regard to casual sex and abortion—and increasingly enthusiastic about America's use of military might.
Less casual sex and abortion for young people? It might be true, but it'd be nice if they can cite a poll to back up this claim. As for support of the military, young people have always been the age group most supportive of military force:

While polls offer only a snapshot, similar age gaps have existed in past wars. Despite a vocal antiwar movement, young people as a whole were more reluctant to call US military action in Vietnam a mistake than were their elders, Gallup polls from 1966 and 1970 show. Young people were also somewhat more supportive than seniors of the use of US military force against Iraq in 1991.
More from the Economist article:

A poll by Harvard University's Institute of Politics in April found that three-quarters of students trusted the armed forces “to do the right thing” either all or most of the time. In 1975 the figure was about 20%. Another poll, by the University of California at Los Angeles, found that 45% of freshmen supported an increase in military spending, more than double the figure in 1992.
Uh, why would anyone cite a poll from April? Military operations began on 3/19 and the Saddam statue toppled on 4/9. April is possibly the worst time to get a correct indication of pubic opinion on military matters.

The rest of the article is mostly anecdotal evidence that sounds nice but has to be put in the context that Democrats still have an overwhelming advantage in this area.

(Via Trent Telenko at Winds of Change).

101 pills 

That's how many David Boston takes a day as part of his regimented diet. Boston spends $200,000 per year on nutrition and training and has one of the best physiques in football. One has to wonder though whether he is overdoing it a bit and that his training may in fact be the source of all the injuries he's been having.

(Via Ben Domenech.)

Is the RIAA screwed? 

While the RIAA is trying to stop people in this country from filesharing, the practice was legalized in Canada five years ago, according to Jay Currie writing in Tech Central Station. So it might be legal for an American to download copyrighted music as long as the file comes from a computer in Canada, and the RIAA is powerless to stop it.

The article sounds convincing, though I have a math question about this claim:

If the RIAA were to somehow succeed in shutting down every "supernode" in America all this would do is transfer the traffic to the millions of file sharers in Canada. And, as 50% of Canadians on the net have broadband (as compared to 20% of Americans) Canadian file sharers are likely to be able to meet the demand.
Can they? Keep in mind that there are ten times as many people in the United States as in Canada. Assuming that Americans and Canadians are online at the same rate, that means right now there are four times as many Americans with broadband as Canadians. How much of the traffic goes to supernodes, as opposed to ordinary filesharers? Assuming that supernodes get 50% of the traffic, if the RIAA shuts down 75% of the supernodes" in the U.S., and discourages 25% of U.S. ordinary filesharers, that means 40% of the traffic source is gone. Can the supernodes in Canada (and the still active ones in the U.S.) handle a 67% increase in traffic? Or will this problem be solved by either the number of supernodes in Canada increasing significantly as a market reaction, or the number of downloaders further decreasing as a result of longer load times?

(Via Tyler Cowen at Volokh Conspiracy).

Football funnies 

Minuteman asks:

Does anything funny ever happen in the NFL?

And please don't answer, because I don't care.
Well, too bad!

Here's some off the top of my head:

--Eugene Robinson getting caught with a prostitute two days after receiving a model citizens award.

--Plaxico Burress spiking the ball when the play hadn't ended yet.

--Bill Gramatica injuring his ankle jumping up and down after hitting a field goal in the first quarter of a meaningless game.

--Reggie White's comments about minorities and homosexuals.

--Gus Frerotte missing the rest of the season after banging his head against concrete following a touchdown.

--Bledsoe or Mirer? Manning or Leaf?

--And this is from before my time, but I've heard stories of the two players who swapped wives and families.

Question of the day 

Dan Drezner is pondering over matters more important than economics or national security:

Why is it that some celebrities under the age of eighteen can be universally acknowledged as sexy, whereas if that adjective is assigned to other underage stars, people start leveling accusations of perversion and lechery?
He's got more, and lots of links too.


The Madden Curse.

why I won't be taking Michael Vick in the second round 

ESPN's Len Pasquarelli reports on Vick's injury: "If there is ligament damage, and doctors likely won't know that for another week to 10 days, Vick might require surgery. And depending on the nature of the surgery, he could be sidelined for the regular season. For now, however, surgery is not indicated, the team's doctor says."

do they come in RonCo? 

A new company is developing a comic medium to distribute product information for "companies eager to find new ways of getting their message across." Joe Kolman, publisher of Corporate Comics, believes that "people who would normally dump a brochure in the trash will read every word of a comic book designed to sell the identical product. They're also a great way to make complicated topics comprehensible."

I'm a comics fan, but if someone on the street handed me a comic selling Oreck or Jesus it's just as likely to go in the trash as a brochure.

Can you recall a recall? 

The Mexican American Bar Association and "La Raza Lawyers of California" call for a halt to the recall process. This call comes two days after stated he "may put the election on hold if four counties cannot bring themselves into compliance with voting rules enacted in the civil- rights era."

le duh 

French Health Chief quits due to heat wave deaths. The health ministry is speculating that between 3,000 and 5,000 people may have died due to the extended heat wave across France.

In the middle of that whole mess I caught a broadcast of of the BBC World News on my local PBS station, and the Beebs reported that nurses and doctors were having to cancel their holidays to care for patients. It was also reported that the hospitals were over capacity, and that patients were being stacked in rooms and hallways leaving next to no privacy. Lots of footage of patients being fanned by nurses accompanied this report.

Why aren't (more?) french hospitals air conditioned? Might this have saved suffering, if not lives?

Sunday, August 17, 2003

No thanks 

A Yankee fan tries to auction Jeff Weaver on eBay:

A frustrated New York Yankees fan has taken his displeasure of pitcher Jeff Weaver to the Internet. The fan is trying to use eBay to auction off the struggling right-hander, who's 6-and-9 with a hefty 5.78 ERA this year.

The fan -- known as "free range veal" on eBay, describes Weaver as a pitcher "in fair-to-good condition, hardly used and showing minor wear." He notes that he'll only sell Weaver to Boston, the Yankees' chief rival in the American League East.

The auction ad was placed hours after Weaver allowed nine runs and 13 hits in an 11-to-0 loss at Kansas City. Bidding began at one cent, but the high bid after 13 hours had climbed to more than 300 thousand dollars.

The fan says he'll also accept a white turtle neck and a bag of batting practice balls in lieu of payment for Weaver.
I'd take him for the Red Sox, but only because I'm pretty sure we can sell him back to the Tigers for at least two white turtle necks and two bags of balls.

(Via A Small Victory).

Redefining neoconservatism 

Josh Chafetz links to this piece by Irving Kristol in theWeekly Standard on what neoconservatism is. As the "godfather" of neoconservatism, version 1.0, Kristol can be considered as an authority on what neoconservatism is now. I read the piece, then read it again when Kevin Drum also links to it and summarizes Kristol's main points. But I still don't know what exactly neoconservatism is.

Part of the problem is that even without an exact definition, people disagree widely on what a neocon is. Many liberals use the term "neocon" as shorthand for anyone who supported the war in Iraq, and in other cases, limit it only to conservatives who supported the war. The Buchananites define it as liberals who stole the party from them, and often use it as a codeword for Jews. Jonah Goldberg, meanwhile, in a four part series argues that the label has no real meaning and wishes it would go away:

... neoconservative has become a Trojan Horse for vast arsenal of ideological attacks and insinuations. For some it means Jewish conservative. For others it means hawk. A few still think it means squishy conservative or ex-liberal. And a few don't even know what the word means, they just think it makes them sound knowledgeable when they use it.


My own beloved mother perfectly captured the nebulousness of the term. When asked whether she was a neocon by The New York Observer, she jokingly replied, "You mean the people who like to kill people and break things. That's me!"
The label isn't going to go away, though, and it's probably better for us to have a definition of what it is then to have it assigned one based on the whim of whoever is using the term at the time.

Another thing to consider, if we go by Kristol's definition, is how much of the program one has to follow to qualify as a neocon. If one agrees with the stuff on foreign policy, but not domestic policy, does that make one a neocon? But even if we define neoconservatism loosely, there's still problems with both Kristol's definition and one used by liberals.

As both Goldberg and Brad Delong point out, neoconservatism thirty years ago is not what neoconservatism is today. The Soviet Union is no longer around, so definition by anti-communism is no longer useful. Similarly, the definition of neoconservatism as used by liberals is practically useless, as, if Drum and Delong's comments boards are accurate indications, liberals define neocons as evil, fascist warmongers.

Instead, I'd like to propose a new definition of neoconservatism (call it version 2.0). Today, neoconservatism 1.0 simply goes by the term "conservatism". The old neocons, of course, were those on the left who changed sides because of their anti-communism and their rejection of the liberal ways of dealing with communism. So why don't we define neoconservatism 2.0 by replacing anti-communism with anti-Islamofacism? So my new spiffy definition:

A neocon (version 2.0) is an American liberal who rejects the left's way of doing foreign policy after 9/11. He doesn't fashion himself as a flag-waver, but he likes this country very much, and thinks that the values for which it stands are worth defending. He knows that Islamofascism is a serious threat and must be defeated. He prefers working with other countries on foreign policy but realizes that it's almost impossible in the current environment, and accepts that, if we must, we will go it alone, or with a coalition of the willing. He may not like what Bush is doing with domestic policy, but because of how much import he puts on the ongoing war against terrorism, he is going to vote for Bush in 2004, or is seriously considering.
Now, most of the people who fit this definition will initially reject the term, because they will not want to be called anything "conservative". But this is not dissimilar to thirty years ago. Neocons 1.0 for a long time didn't consider themselves to be conservatives either.

Under this definition, Christopher Hitchens, now a favorite of many on the right, is a neocon. So is former New York City mayor Ed Koch. There are many neocon bloggers too. Michael Totten is a neocon. Michele Catalano is a neocon. The guys at Oxblog are neocons. I am a neocon. Hell, my co-blogger Nick can be a neocon too. It's a big tent, and we need all the help we can get.

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