Quickies 6

Be Quick and Be Read

Experience past quickies: one. two. three. four. five.

More recent quickies.

January 2004
Friday 30
Obesity is so revered among Mauritania's white Moor Arab population that the young girls are sometimes force-fed to obtain a weight the government has described as "life-threatening".
"We grab them and we force them to eat. If they cry a lot we leave them sometimes for a day or two and then we come back to start again.

"They get used to it in the end."

She argued that in the end the girls were grateful.

"When they are small they don't understand, but when they grow up they are fat and beautiful," she said.

"They are proud and show off their good size to make men dribble. Don't you think that's good?"
President Bush plans to scale back requests for money to fight AIDS and poverty in the third world, putting off for several years the fulfillment of his pledges to eventually spend more than $20 billion on these programs.

Hardest hit would be the United Nations-supported Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, whose contribution from the United States would drop to $200 million in fiscal year 2005 from $550 million, according to Congressional officials who have been briefed on the president's budget proposal.
As far as we can pry into history, we shall find men talking about philosophy and philosophers. Because of the pervasive influence of philosophy and philosophers, it was (is it still is?) greatly respected to the point of being called Regina Scientiarum (the Queen of Sciences). Then, philosophers called the tune in almost all the spheres of life. When you inquire into the history of civilisation, you will discover that the epochal liberation of man from barbarism was more the achievement of philosophers. It was philosophers that gave us, and indeed, nurtured the notion of freedom, right and wrong, education, law, reason, justice, equity, etc. They raised the banner when needed, and others followed.

When you look at the lives of these epochal philosophers, especially those of pre-Socratic era, you will discover, again, that they did not have formal education in philosophy as we have today. As an observer, which will you consider more profound: the thoughts of some of those philosophers without formal education or those of our contemporary “philosophers” who have doctorates in philosophy?

Underlying the foregoing is the fact that most of what we have today as academic philosophers can hardly pass for philosophers strictly so-called. A true philosopher is one, academic or not, who has so trained himself to reflective thinking, and who is so emancipated inwardly from external influences, and who can stand up free, free to doubt, to question, to inquire, to think, to gather knowledge and spread it. A philosopher, as Socrates noted, “is the lover of wisdom”, implying thereby its pursuer. But when you look at the orientation of our academic philosophers, you see, instead, most men who are really driven to philosophy by expedient rather than conviction. Most of these men, I dare say, do not even understand the meaning of wisdom, nor can they comprehend the profundity of their subject.
On tolerance vs. respect
On The Evolution of Human Aesthetic Preferences.
A different video of the Dean Iowa concession speech adds perspective. Wow, it was even more overblown than I thought.
Andrew Sullivan finds reading Josh's New Yorker article difficult. Andrew's inability to see the 9/11 is just part of his shortcomings.
I've been critical of the president's domestic shortcomings recently. But in the larger choice in this war there really isn't a choice. It's self-defense or winging it. When the consequences of winging it could be a biological/chemical/nuclear catastrophe in one of our cities, I'm not sure we have any real option but Bush.
With no WMD all you have is intent, not self-defense. He was contained. He was not willing to threaten the US and get his ass kicked again nor was he willing to admit that he was a toothless tyrant WMD-wise. That kept the Kurds at bay.
Josh on Andrew's "mistake." I think it was just an excuse for Andrew to air his "For the Clintonites, 9/11 didn't really happen" lie.
In the 1990s, a decade of horrendous little wars, 47 of the 49 biggest conflicts were fought not with high-tech weaponry but with small arms, yet the casualties were measured in the millions. The United Nations reckons that small arms still kill about 300,000 people a year in conflict, most of them civilians. Add to that the 200,000 more gun deaths from homicides and suicides, and small arms begin to look like weapons of mass destruction.

Around the world, almost any region has a grim story to tell about the destructiveness of small arms and light weapons, such as shoulder-fired grenades or small mortars, which can be handled by a few gunmen and transported by carts or on the backs of donkeys. From Colombia to Liberia to Indonesia, such guns and light weapons have been rebels' armaments of choice. The wars they cause rarely get the attention of the Security Council.
The struggle of women to work in Iraq
Many women professionals in Iraq fear that the gains they made during the early years of Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist secular rule -- in education, the work place and marital status -- are at risk from rising Islamic conservatism.

"If we don't reaffirm our right now, we won't be able to do it later," said gynecologist Lina Abood, 28, whose father was an opposition activist against Saddam.
Some lament over lack of quality journalists
Ronald Harry Duffy, 35, had his visa revoked because of disorderly behavior "and was not allowed into the country" after the Miami-Sao Paulo flight Wednesday on TAM Airline, said Wagner Castilho, a federal police spokesman. "He has been ordered deported."

Duffy, whose home was listed only as Pennsylvania, was seated next to a Brazilian couple and their baby.

"Annoyed with the baby's constant crying, Duffy, who was drunk, threw the contents of a cup of water in the baby's face," Castilho said, adding that flight attendants had to "restrain other passengers who wanted to beat him up."
Does the Pentagon believe in Global Warming while the White House remains skeptical?
Yes, George W. Bush is a deserter. That makes Peter Jennings a liar.
Exploding Sperm Whale with giant penis in Taiwan!
Once moved to a nearby nature preserve, the male specimen -- the largest whale ever recorded in Taiwan -- drew the attention of locals because of its large penis, measured at some five feet, the Taipei Times reported.

"More than 100 Tainan city residents, mostly men, have reportedly gone to see the corpse to 'experience' the size of its penis," the newspaper reported.
Neglecting Intelligence, Ignoring Warnings: A chronology of how the Bush Administration repeatedly and deliberately refused to listen to intelligence agencies that said its case for war was weak
Virginia Postrel, "Everything's Fine!" Whatever you say!
The United Nations labor agency says a record 186 million people around the world are unemployed, and hundreds of millions more have jobs that pay so little they can barely survive. The International Labor Organization says an extra 500,000 people were added to the unemployment totals in the last year. It cites factors like the SARS outbreak in Asia and Canada, the war in Iraq and a slump in global tourism due to terror fears. The number of people out of work in 2003 reached 6.2 percent of the total global labor force.
A record-high 375,000 jobless workers will exhaust their unemployment insurance this month and an estimated 2 million workers will find themselves in the same predicament during the first half of the year, according to an analysis of Labor Department statistics by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The overtime pay revisions have become a contentious political issue in recent weeks, with Democrats in Congress saying they will cost millions of workers extra compensation. Some veterans and workers groups have expressed concern about the interpretation by Boeing Co. and several smaller employers, and the AFL-CIO plans to highlight the issue today at a press briefing.

Under federal law, workers who are "learned professionals" are presumed to have control of their own time and are exempt from receiving overtime pay. Historically, that category included workers such as doctors, lawyers, scientists, theologians and others with advanced degrees.

In proposing changes in the rules last spring, the Labor Department said in the Federal Register that "the exemption is also available to employees in such professions who have substantially the same knowledge as the degreed employees, but who have attained such knowledge through a combination of work experience, training in the armed forces, attending a technical school, attending a community college or other intellectual instruction."

Thursday 29
I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a "deserter." What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants. In fact, he shot a man in Tucson "just to watch him die."
-Michael Moore
Darwin’s Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society by David Sloan Wilson
More on N'kisi the parrot

Tuesday 27
The finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short.

The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour.

He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do.

N'kisi's remarkable abilities, which are said to include telepathy, feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine.
I welcome our telepathic parrot overlords!
Kerry votes one way and then says he's against it. We seem to like liars.
Atrios & Andy
That Mr. Kerry served at all is a reason for a bond with fellow veterans; that his service earned him a Bronze Star for Valor ("for personal bravery") and a Silver Star ("for gallantry") is even more compelling. Unfortunately, Mr. Kerry came home to Massachusetts, the one state George McGovern carried in 1972. He joined the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and emceed the Winter Soldier Investigation (both financed by Jane Fonda). Many veterans believe these protests led to more American deaths, and to the enslavement of the people on whose behalf the protests were ostensibly being undertaken. But being a take-charge kind of guy, Mr. Kerry became a leader in the VVAW and even testified before Congress on the findings of the Investigation, which he accepted at face value.
Being against war means you don't favor more killing. "Many veterans" may believe a lot of things, but it doesn't make it true.
Since the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, General Wesley Clark has not answered any in-depth questions about his targeting of civilian infrastructure in Yugoslavia, his bombing of Radio Television Serbia, the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium, the speeding-up of the cockpit video of a bombing of a passenger train to make it appear as though it was an accident and other decisions he made and orders he gave as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander.

With the New Hampshire primary just 24 hours away, the remaining Democratic candidates are in their final push to win votes in the key poll in the Granite state. Whether or not Howard Dean wins or loses, he set the tone very early for what has become a definitive issue in the race early on: opposition to the war in Iraq. Among the Democrats, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun held the most clear antiwar stances. But Braun has pulled out of the race, Al Sharpton is not in New Hampshire and Dennis Kucinich - well the media hardly gives him any airtime.
JEREMY SCAHILL: And what about the bombing of the Nis marketplace with cluster bombs, shredding human beings.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: It was terrible, but you know in that instance, if we had got the same incident, there was a cluster bomb that opened prematurely. It was an accident. And every one of these incidents was fully investigated. All of the material from the Yugoslavian government was given to the International Criminal Tribunal, plus as the NATO commander, I made a full report to the International Criminal Tribunal. It was all investigated. The pilots who did it, nobody could have felt worse than the pilots who did it. And I got a letter from a man in Serbia who said you killed my granddaughter on a schoolyard at Nis. I know how he must have felt. And I felt so helpless about it. Every night before I let those bombs go, I prayed we wouldn't kill innocent people. But unfortunately, when you are at war, terrible things happen, even when you don't want them to. You can't imagine what those pilots felt like in those convoys when they struck the convoys. You remember the convoys?

JEREMY SCAHILL: In Gurdulica were the 72 Albanians were killed.

GENERAL WESLEY CLARK: In that place, too. And they had flown over it a couple of times. You know, we just -- we were trying to establish some kind of communications on the ground with the Albanians. The Serbs were on the nets, and they were jamming all of the communications, and they were doing imitative communications deception. And nobody could get the truth about it. We saw the Serb vehicles around the place. And I didn't make the decision, but they were following orders on my command. And it was looked at, and so forth. The decision was made as a legitimate target. It turned out that they had been ordered to stay in there by the Serbs. The Serbs were surrounding the place to keep them penned in. It was horrible. You never forget stuff like that. That's why when this government has used force as it has, it makes me so angry. Because these people in the White House don't understand -- you don't use force except as a last, last, last resort.
MSNBC interview with David Kay
Frontline interview with David Kay

Monday 26
David Frum:
The right kind of Palestinian state would be a very good thing for Palestinians and a pretty good thing for Israel, but not a very important thing for the United States at all. It could be a real problem for the United States because a Palestinian state of the kind most people imagine would pretty quickly find itself in conflict with radical elements that reject the treaty with Israel. Because that state would be weak and incompetent, it would find itself under a lot of threat. It would be like the Irish of 1922, only with the rebels being more powerful than the state. ...(What happened then was that the) Irish rose up against the Brits in 1921 and they fought a very savage war of Independence against the British. The British and the Irish Republican Army then signed a treaty partitioning Ireland. Ireland then split in two. The radicals then rebelled against the new Irish Republic and there was a civil war in 1922 which the Republic won.

That is probably what would happen in Palestine after peace with Israel. There would be a rebellion against the state, but the state would be weak, and the extremists would likely win -- unless the state got American help. Many of the Clinton people who advocate this policy contemplated this from start. The United States would have train the Palestinian army, provide expertise, maybe even support it with troops. In other words, if you create a Palestinian state, one of the things you have to be prepared for is American troops possibly being drawn into the middle of a Palestinian civil war.
CIA officers in Iraq are warning that the country may be on a path to civil war, current and former U.S. officials said Wednesday, starkly contradicting the upbeat assessment that President Bush gave in his State of the Union address.

The CIA officers' bleak assessment was delivered verbally to Washington this week, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified information involved.
"The State of the Union Address" annotated by James Fallows
The question of America as empire.
Rule by the Capricious and the Corrupt: Militarism vs. Democracy by William A. Cook
Iraqis now want to call the invaders' bluff and demand the democracy which, following the ignominious collapse of the other rationales for war, has been touted as the key, ultimately redeeming objective of invasion. Iraqis from Shiite leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani, probably the most powerful man in the country, to the Defense Department's own boy, convicted swindler and Iraqi Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, are making this demand. Uncertain how to proceed, wishing to spread out responsibility for what transpires next, and hoping to gain international legitimacy for whatever government is installed, the U.S. politely re-engages the spurned U.N. to help determine whether a direct vote is indeed feasible by July 1. This was not at all the neocon scenario.
Dennis Miller has usually been happy to spray his acerbic wit across the political spectrum, but things will be different on his new CNBC talk program. President Bush is in a mock-free zone.

"I like him," Miller explained. "I'm going to give him a pass. I take care of my friends."

Miller is a familiar figure from his years on "Saturday Night Live," HBO and "Monday Night Football," but he will be in a different role on his daily show that debuts 9 p.m. EST Monday.

Sunday 25
Another look at An End to Evil
What ultimately sinks the P-F[Perlee-Frum] call for perpetual war against all evil is its refusal to acknowledge the limits to American military power. They severely underestimate the need for American manpower to secure victories that superior firepower mated to a steely will might win. Record notes that Bush administration war planners had hoped for no more than 60,000 boots on the ground in Iraq at this stage instead of nearly 200,000 allied troops now in country. P-F inexplicably recall Pentagon brass predictions of 250,000 troops required to do the job as proof of the Army's hide-bound ways.
A Bruce Sterling interview.
Sterling: Right now, the Republicans are the party of reckless spending, and the Democrats are the party of responsibility and the balanced budget.
I am not convinced of the latter. The Democrats may only be the lesser of two spenders.
When the American Family Association posted an online poll last month asking its constituents their position on gay marriage, it thought it was engaging in a straightforward exercise.

The conservative organization supports a constitutional amendment defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, and it planned to forward to Congress the results of the poll, which it expected would support its position, as evidence of Americans' opposition to gay marriage.

But the AFA never counted on the power of the Internet. And once the URL to the poll escaped its intended audience, everything went haywire. As of Jan. 19, 60 percent of respondents -- more than 508,000 voters -- said, "I favor legalization of homosexual marriage."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has conceded that Iraq may not have possessed any stocks of weapons of mass destruction before the war last year.
U.S. software giant Microsoft said on Friday it would pump $1 billion of cash and software into a computer training program it has set up with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). "The scale of the program we have here is quite unusual in terms of corporate giving. It's $1 billion over five years and that represents both cash and software," Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told journalists at the World Economic Forum.

The United Nations will work with the Microsoft Unlimited Potential program to invest in community centers in poor regions where people can learn how to use personal computers and enhance their job prospects. The announcement follows a pilot project in Afghanistan where the two organizations set up centers at 16 locations, aiming to train 12,000 users this year. UNDP administrator Mark Malloch Brown said the ambition was "to hook up the world to the Internet."
Sir Bill Gates?
The United States was warned of impending September 11 terrorist attacks by an Iranian spy, but ignored him, German secret service agents testified yesterday in the trial of an alleged al-Qaida terrorist.

The spy, identified as Hamid Reza Zakeri, tried to warn the CIA after leaving Iran in 2001, but was not believed, two German officers who interviewed him told the Hamburg court.
Is the Honor Roll insulting to stupid students?
10 Myths that the media helps perpetuate.
Take the Amish Diet Challenge.
The copyright conflict

Saturday 24
State history in one park now controlled by the Mormons
If you've downloaded a song in the past few years, it's in large part because of Justin Frankel. Seven years ago, when he was just eighteen, he invented Winamp, the first software program that made it easy to play digital music on your computer. A few years later, he created Gnutella: the vast, and vastly controversial, online network that lets you swap songs. The fact that Frankel secretly did the latter while working at America Online, the company behind his multimillion-dollar buyout, made him both the Internet's greatest punk -- and hero. Now he's about to punk the industry again.

That's because, after years of being muzzled by AOL for igniting the pirate nation, Frankel is breaking his silence. "This is an environment where I don't get to do what I want to do," he says. What he wants to do is even more radical than Gnutella. And to do this, he needs to break free. "Eighty percent of the people at AOL are clueless," he says. When I ask him if they have anything to fear by him leaving, he replies, half-jokingly, "If anything, they have more to fear when I'm working for them."
Republicans violating privacy of Democrats email. What GOP ethics?
A look at how our tax dollars are wasted to prop up Bush's corporate buddies. Does this make Bush a traitor to the america people?
Proof that Peter Jennings is a whore.
Al Franken on the SOTU address.
Then of course he went to about how strong our economy is. He says that, uh, the economy is, that "The pace of economic growth in the Third Quarter of 2003 was the fastest in nearly 20 years." And then he says "and jobs are on the rise." Well, you know, we had a thousand new jobs in December. A Thousand. This'll be the first president since Herbert Hoover to have a net loss in jobs in his first term. If you put the two Bushs together in their over seven years of their two presidencies, not one new job has been created. Numbers do not lie. If you extrapolated from that, if the Bushs had run this country from its very beginning to the current time, not one American would have ever worked. We'd be hunter-gatherers.
Are We on the Brink of a New Little Ice Age?
Our planet is changing fast. In recent decades many environmental indicators have moved outside the range in which they have varied for the past half-million years. We are altering our life support system and potentially pushing the planet into a far less hospitable state.

Such large-scale and long-term changes present major policy challenges. The Kyoto Protocol is important as an international framework for combating climate change, and yet its targets can only ever be a small first step. If we cannot develop policies to cope with the uncertainty, complexity and magnitude of global change, the consequences for society may be huge.

We have made impressive progress in the last century. Major diseases have been eradicated and life expectancy and standards of living have increased for many. But the global population has tripled since 1930 to more than six billion and will continue to grow for several decades, and the global economy has increased more than 15-fold since 1950. This progress has had a wide-ranging impact on the environment. Our activities have begun to significantly affect the planet and how it functions. Atmospheric composition, land cover, marine ecosystems, coastal zones, freshwater systems and global biological diversity have all been substantially affected.

Yet it is the magnitude and rate of human-driven change that are most alarming. For example, the human-driven increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide is nearly 100 parts per million and still growing - already equal to the entire range experienced between an ice age and a warm period such as the present. And this human-driven increase has occurred at least 10 times faster than any natural increase in the last half-million years.

Thursday 22: Lots of Lies Edition
Go ahead, George, and lie to me. Lie to my dog. Lie to my sister. But don't you ever lie to my kids.
The year-old federal No Child Left Behind Act is a lightning rod for conversation throughout the educational community.

And as their fellow educators nationwide are seeing, McHenry County educators see daily the pluses and the minuses of the mandated, though under-funded, legislation.
Congressional Democrats, Republicans, and the president are squabbling about this Bush- initiated education law, No Child Left Behind. The president and most Republicans claim that this act provides necessary federal standards and sanctions. Most Democrats say that without the necessary funding, this law, passed and signed two years ago this month, is an unfunded mandate. They are both wrong. This is a bad law which should have neither passed nor been funded.
The proponents of this law are guilty of hypocrisy, naivety or both. Conservative Republicans get elected by loudly opposing the intrusion of Big Brother but once in office they continually promote federal interference in local education. From mandating corporal punishment for our children to demanding how and when they pray, the Far Right is loath to practice its own political preaching.

On the other side, Democrats have become both naïve and timid, confusing compromise with collusion. They foolishly bought into this bad education bill, just as a few of them did the Bush trickle-down tax bill, the Medicare bill which is more rip off than reform, the deadly war against Iraq which we now know was politically engineered, and that terrible violation of individual privacy — the Patriot Act. The only answer these Democrats have for their tragic complicity is to ask for more money for these mistaken policies.
President Bush said he would propose increased spending on a number of education programs in the federal budget he sends to Congress next month. However, No Child Left Behind is not currently supported by the budget, and only low income Title I schools who fit the special category of federal legislation receive federal money.
In a taped telephone conversation with Spector, Ariel Sharon asks about U.S. and European donations to what is believed to be an election fund, suggesting that he followed the wider illegal donation process in great detail.

Even if the tapes don't prove criminal wrongdoing by the man who is now prime minister, they do imply a readiness to bend the rules, pundits say. They also suggest Sharon lied to the state comptroller in April 2001, when he said he had no idea how campaign funds were raised and that his two sons had handled all money matters.
Thanks to the deregulation of the market, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the over-emphasis on material values, Americans more and more frequently take the quick, dishonest route to wealth, writes Callahan, who runs the public-policy think tank Demos. "It is just too easy in this society for cheaters to float seamlessly upward, seeing few downsides along the way," he maintains. We cheat on our taxes and our SATs, we lie on our resum, we overcharge our clients and customers, and from there it is a short leap to the sorts of business and investment fraud that swept America in the 1990s and exploded with scandals like Enron and WorldCom.
Not only are the monetary incentives to cheat often enormous, the penalties for doing wrong are frequently negligible or nonexistent. White-collar crime is rarely severely punished (former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow's recent 10-year sentence notwithstanding). No one will be socially ostracized for stealing cable service -- as 10 percent of Chicago households do, according to one study -- or pirating music online. In high schools where students compete fiercely for admission to the Ivy League, teachers and parents often turn a blind eye to academic fraud.
Now I'm started to understand why that The Perfect Score movie about academic cheating got made.
One year has passed since President Bush pledged $15 billion over five years to fight global AIDS. So far, no funds have been disbursed to the new bilateral program, and most of the details about program implementation remain to be worked out -- except that most of the funds are to be backloaded far into the future. However, the already- operating multilateral Global AIDS Fund faces massive funding shortfalls and pressure from the Bush Administration to reduce the number of grants in the coming year.

In the budget that will be discussed in tonight's State of the Union Address, President Bush plans to request only $2.7 billion for AIDS for 2005 ­ *less* than was authorized for 2004. For the third year in a row, Bush will attempt to cut funding for the efficient and effective but now cash-strapped Global Fund from the levels appropriated the previous year.
"In the year since President Bush's pledge of funds to fight AIDS, not a dollar has been released, and not a single pill has reached the hands of a person with HIV in developing countries because of the President's AIDS plan," states Allison Dinsmore of Health GAP, "However, three million people have died from a treatable illness. By fighting bipartisan efforts to appropriate the funds authorized by Congress that were supported by the White House, President Bush is lying to America and lying to 43 million people with AIDS."
No! No! Not "lies!" Call them "inoperative statements."
No! No! Not "inoperative statements!" Call them "mistakes."
Gore Vidal: The war against lies
But my friend told me: 'Nobody was given syphilis in the study.' All the participants (black sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama in 1932) already had syphilis, 'but they were not treated for the disease'. I then asked him how syphilis was treated in 1932 when the study started. 'There were some horrible, painful, expensive long-term treatments around but I don't think they really worked', he said - 'there was no effective therapy at the time'. 'Had there been an IRB system in place in 1932, applying the medical research norms of those times, would the IRB have approved the project?', I asked. 'I am not sure, but they might have', he said. I began to suspect that there was both less and more to 'Tuskegee' and the political role it now plays in popular consciousness than has met the public eye.
A *shudder* white lie?
Dean sounds his barbaric Yeaaaagh! over the mic for the world.

Monday 19
Was this an overreaction?
Uri Avnery, A Practical Manual: Anti-Semitism vs. Anti-Zionism
Paul Ford, Tufte vs. Bloom 2
Will Self's story, Return to the Planet of the Humans
I think, unlike other work, being a poet is a culturally demeaned occupation. It's not the kind of thing I'd use as a pick-up line. Saying you're a famous poet is tantamount to saying you're a famous croquet player.
-Christian Bök
Jay Bryant is just oozing of desperation.
The ultimate hypocrisy is that the Democratic Party pretends to be the party of civil rights. It is not, to which the lonely career of Carol Moseley Braun stands as the perfect rule-proving exception.
Never mind that there has never been a Black female Republican Senator. Nowhere is the article is it stated how many times Black females have tried for that office. Why doesn't Jay compare overall office holders?
The massahs were Democrats. The whip-toting overseers were Democrats. The Klansmen were Democrats. The filibusterers of the Civil Rights bills in the 1960's were Democrats. The liberals whose welfare-state policies destroyed families in post- Great Society inner cities were Democrats. That such a party gets to claim the allegiance of so many African-American voters is one of the great con jobs of all time.
I am in awe of this man. There are few living writers so utterly logic-challenged.

Sunday 18
Gout is making a scary comeback.
Rates of the incurable disease, once synonymous with outrageous, upper-class over-indulgence have more than doubled since the 1950s and experts are predicting a further surge as more people enjoy excessive lifestyles at an early age.

While carrying too much weight greatly increases the risk of gout, shedding weight quickly can also spark the condition. Rapid action weight loss plans such as the Atkins diet, which cut out entire food groups, are already precipitating attacks.
Dr Snaith added that the Atkins diet could precipitate gout, because, as a high-protein diet, it burns off fat and produces lactic acid. It then joins a queue of acids waiting to be expelled by the kidneys and uric acid levels remain high. Crystallisation follows.
Script kiddies go after webloggers comments
"My ankle was crushed," Mr. Rodriguez said, explaining he had been struck by an electronic cart driven by an employee moving stacks of merchandise. "I was yelling and running around like a hurt dog that had been hit by a car. Another worker made some phone calls to reach a manager, and it took an hour for someone to get there and unlock the door."

The reason for Mr. Rodriguez's delayed trip to the hospital was a little-known Wal-Mart policy: the lock-in. For more than 15 years, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has locked in overnight employees at some of its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores. It is a policy that many employees say has created disconcerting situations, such as when a worker in Indiana suffered a heart attack, when hurricanes hit in Florida and when workers' wives have gone into labor.
California medical marijuana activists are outraged over the arrest last week of two medical marijuana patients who face potential life sentences on federal drug charges after being turned over by local authorities. David Davidson, of Oakland, California and his partner Cynthia Blake, of Red Bluff, California were arrested in a state courtroom in Corning, California on January 13 as they were seeking to dismiss state charges of marijuana cultivation and distribution.

Davidson and Blake, both 53, have doctor's recommendations to grow and consume medical marijuana under California's 1996 Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215). While their defense attorneys were meeting in the judge's chambers to discuss the case with Tehama County assistant district attorney Lynn Strom, Strom announced that she was dropping the state charges because Davidson and Blake were being arrested in the courtroom on a federal indictment.
"Books I Did Not Read This Year" Does not reading books cause stress?

Friday 16: Is their a "creative class"and should we be concerned about the current trend of jobs moving outside the country? What's with Drudge's war on the Democrats?
Creative Class War: How the GOP's anti-elitism could ruin America's economy
A review of The Rise of the Creative Class
Another review of The Rise of the Creative Class
A response to the link above.
People will always read books through the lenses of their own belief systems. Most who don’t like my book The Rise of the Creative Class are social conservatives, unhappy with my evidence that regions which are open and tolerant do better economically. These folks have accused me of being anti-family and even of “undermining Judeo-Christian civilization.”

But the critique in this newspaper, by Paul Maliszewski, comes from the left. Here I am painted as a vapid elitist and a starry-eyed huckster for creativity and flexibility -- still promoting the New Economy while failing to see how the real economy exploits the masses.

That’s really weird. The book takes aim at 1990s New Economy fantasies and actually has little to do with making cities yuppie-friendly, though critics like Maliszewksi have tried to frame it (and belittle its message) that way. Rather, my core message is: Human creativity is the ultimate source of economic growth. Every single person is creative in some way. And to fully tap and harness that creativity we must be tolerant, diverse and inclusive.
America hasn't had its Kristallnacht - yet - but even so the buzz around New Zealand in a few circles of my acquaintance is enough to put one in mind of the brain drain Germany bought itself in the mid- to late 1930's. And as Florida might have it, if I were a smart politician just about anywhere on the planet - one interested in economic vitality and quality of life - I might be egging the Ashcrofts on. All those smart Americans will be looking to settle somewhere that supports and encourages them in who they are, and they'll bring their truest assets, their creative minds, right along with 'em.
This IT worker loses his job to India and is joined by over 450,000 other jobs.
Is concern over jobs going overseas Nationalism/Racism?
The "exporting America" list of companies out-sourcing jobs overseas
Or is the opposite happening? Is "Europe's best and brightest scientific minds are leaving in droves for the U.S.?"
And when will Congress stop spending money like mad?
"Congress' continued fiscal irresponsibility is clearly exhibited in the thousands of pork projects contained in the bill," the Heritage report noted.
The Heritage report says the omnibus bill will set the stage for discretionary spending to increase by 9 percent in 2004 to $900 billion, not the 3 percent claimed by Congress.
Josh covers Drudge attacks on Clark and Kerry
GORE TO WARN OF 'GLOBAL WARMING' ON NEW YORK CITY'S COLDEST DAY IN DECADES!

In what political watchers are calling possibly the biggest gaffe in years, former Vice President Al Gore is set to give a speech tomorrow on the perils of global warming -- on what is expected to be the coldest day in New England in nearly half a century!
Even though forecasters predict Thursday night will bring the coldest temperature reading in New York City in more than 10 years [1 degree above zero], sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT that Gore is determined to deliver the speech -- hoping to make the case how "Global warming" is actually the cause of the record cold snap!
Drudge Hates Science! As more energy is put into our climate the weather becomes more extreme. This means hotter summers and colder winters.
Here's Al Gore's speach
I don't find Margaret Cho that funny, but is this Drudge piece is written to smear her and everyone attending the Move On event?
And it worked. Margaret Cho's site gets flooded by hate mail that flaunts hypocrisy for her attacks on Republicans and Bush. So everyone's rude! Big deal. Or is it just more on the pile on Move On?
Wednesday night, a Fox Watch monitor caught an outright lie during one of Fox News' flagship programs, The O'Reilly Factor. In a discussion of progressive websites, host Bill O'Reilly called TomPaine.com "the most rank propaganda in the world."

Fox News analyst Liz Trotta responded:

"Well, how many people do you think -- who look at MoveOn.org, know it's affiliated with the World Socialist Movement..."
To bolster his argument, Judge gave the example of the Hitler ad submitted to Bush in 30 Seconds: "One now notorious ad that was posted on MoveOn's Web site even likened the Bush administration to Nazi Germany." He didn't mention that the ad was simply entered in a public contest or that it didn't win. He certainly didn't mention the ad that did win on Monday night and that will be shown during the State of the Union address and the Super Bowl.
CBS decides to not run Bush in 30 seconds ad

Thursday 15
The Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Miller said, changed him. "Everybody should be in the protection business now," he said. "I can't imagine anybody not saying that. Well, I guess on the farthest end of the left they'd say, `That's our fault.' And on the middle end they'd say, `Well, there's another way to deal with it other than flat-out protecting ourselves.' I just don't believe that. People say we're the ones who make them hate us because of what we do. That's garbage to me. I think they're nuts. And you've got to protect yourself from nuts."
Way to totally warp the liberal middle's position! Well, there's another way to deal with it rather than spoiling our ties with allies and that could have put a different face on this war, which could have made thw occupation less costly, deadly, and lengthy. It was a rush job and it never had to be. Their false urgency was reckless and criminal (i. e. Plame Case.) It casts a shadow over the good that Saddam is gone.
But don't take my word for it. Thomas Friedman:
The stated reason for the war was that Saddam Hussein had developed weapons of mass destruction that posed a long-term threat to America. I never bought this argument. I didn't have any inside information. I simply assumed that whatever WMD Saddam possessed had to be, after a decade of sanctions, so limited that it was easily deterable. There was absolutely nothing in Saddam's history to suggest that he was suicidal—that he had the capability or will to attack the United States directly and pay the price.

He was always deterable and containable. This was always a war of choice.

The WMD argument was hyped by George Bush and Tony Blair to try to turn a war of choice into a war of necessity. They will have to answer for that.
My argument is that the rush to war is making us all pay a higher cost in rebuilding Iraq.

And after saying that I must point to Christopher Hitchens:
If it was foolish of the administration to argue that things like Iraq or Afghanistan could be done cheaply, it is flat-out irresponsible for the antiwar populists to argue that the money would be "better spent at home." Do they somehow still imagine that war is another word for "overseas"? For all I know they do. If we are really looking for cost cuts, then we could draw down the wastage and folly of the "war on drugs," or the fantasy of nuclearism. (The failure of the left to seize those chances, by the way, is yet another proof that it cares only for morbid dislike of anything undertaken by the president.)
Having UN support would have lowered costs that could have benefited our economy or finding Osama. There must be a different "left" than the one that I'm aware of that hasn't talked about the folly of the "war on drugs" or nuclear proliferation such as the insane push for the US to make mini-nukes. It must be every terrorist's wet-dream to steal one of those.

Fred Kaplan:
If the administration lacks the acumen or persuasive power to deal with such familiar institutions as the U.N. Security Council or the established governments of France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, China—even Canada—then how is it going to handle Iraq's feuding opposition groups, Kurdish separatists, and myriad ethno-religious factions, to say nothing of the turbulence throughout the region?
Finding out what causes terrorism is a good way to reduce it. People like Hernando de Soto show us The Other Path. Far from excusing terrorism, understanding the factors that lead people to these actions is the first step to reduce the appearance of said factors and is "fighting" terrorism. Also, don't miss this quote from The Price of Loyalty
Speaking of Paul...
President Bush ordered the Pentagon to explore the possibility of a ground invasion of Iraq well before the United States was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, an official told ABCNEWS, confirming the account former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill gives in a book written by former Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind.
Sneering article on James Lileks

Sunday 11
Angel at sea. AKA Clione Papi Lionacea Pallac
A kitty and a pony provide a cute picture.
"I was struck by the code of Bushido (the way of the Samurai). It's powerful, it talks about compassion, helping others, responsibility, integrity ... timeless values, ways I identify with," said Cruise, who has practised scientology for 20 years.

"Buddhism is the grandfather of scientology," added the actor, flanked by Zwick and his Japanese partner Hiroyuki Sanada.
Exactly how many times have Buddhists sued people for talking about their beliefs?
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has settled a lawsuit over its practice of taking out life insurance on employees and making itself the beneficiary.
Wal-Mart only 92% evil now.
The Mac story takes more air out of Jobs sails
In the book, O’Neill says that the president did not make decisions in a methodical way: there was no free-flow of ideas or open debate.

At cabinet meetings, he says the president was "like a blind man in a roomful of deaf people. There is no discernible connection," forcing top officials to act "on little more than hunches about what the president might think."

This is what O'Neill says happened at his first hour-long, one-on-one meeting with Mr. Bush: “I went in with a long list of things to talk about, and I thought to engage on and as the book says, I was surprised that it turned out me talking, and the president just listening … As I recall, it was mostly a monologue.”

He also says that President Bush was disengaged, at least on domestic issues, and that disturbed him. And he says that wasn't his experience when he worked as a top official under Presidents Nixon and Ford, or the way he ran things when he was chairman of Alcoa.
O'Neill had been preaching that a fiscal crisis was looming and more tax cuts would exacerbate it. But others in the White House saw a chance to capitalize on the historic Republican congressional gains in the 2002 elections. Surely, Cheney would not be so smug. He would hear O'Neill out. In an economic meeting in the Vice President's office, O'Neill started pitching, describing how the numbers showed that growing budget deficits threatened the economy. Cheney cut him off. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter," he said. O'Neill was too dumbfounded to respond. Cheney continued: "We won the midterms. This is our due."

A month later, Paul O'Neill was fired, ending the rocky two-year tenure of Bush's first Treasury Secretary, who became known for his candid statements and the controversies that followed them. Rarely had a person who spoke so freely been embedded so high in an Administration that valued frank public remarks so little.
The Post-Modern President: Deception, Denial, and Relativism: what the Bush administration learned from the French. By Joshua Micah Marshall
Yet another article on weblogging

Saturday 10
A review of The Reivers by William Faulkner
The title comes from an old Scottish word that means "robber." Why Faulkner chose this charming if decidedly archaic word is unclear. In his biography of Faulkner, Joseph Blotner says the original title was "The Horse Stealers," but though he reports the change he does not explain it. What he does tell us is that the book was on Faulkner's mind for at least two decades. In a letter to Robert Haas at Random House in the spring of 1940, Faulkner described the story he proposed to tell:

"It is a sort of Huck Finn -- a normal boy of about 12 or 13, a big, warmhearted, courageous, honest, utterly unreliable white man with the mentality of a child, an old negro family servant, opinionated, querulous, selfish, fairly unscrupulous, and in his second childhood, and a prostitute not very young anymore and with a great deal of character and generosity and common sense, and a stolen race horse which none of them actually intended to steal. The story is how they travel for a thousand miles from hand to mouth trying to get away from the police long enough to return the horse."
Personally, I have the gravest doubts about the charges made against Jackson. Not only are the motives of his accusers open to suspicion, but also Jackson’s behaviour does not match that of a predatory, duplicitous child-abuser. The present case arose out of the television documentary made about Jackson by Martin Bashir. Broadcast in February 2003, this programme featured Gavin Arvizo, who was filmed leaning his head on Jackson’s shoulder while he talked of his devotion to the pop star — hardly the behaviour of someone living in terror of abuse. Indeed, Gavin’s mother, Janet Ventura, was so furious at the way Bashir hinted at Jackson’s impropriety that she made a formal complaint to the Independent Television Commission, arguing that Bashir’s programme was ‘a complete distortion of the truth about Michael Jackson as I know and admire him. At no time has Gavin ever been treated with anything other than love, respect and the deepest kindness by Michael Jackson.’ She stressed that Jackson had helped her son in his battle with cancer through ‘his constant support, both practical and emotional’.
The perils of living in a consumer paradise By Jonathon Keats
The question is of Time

Friday 9
A Pink Tank
I'm still trying to get to the truth about our current economic situation. Here's something about an IMF report about how huge US deficits could cause problems for other countries that depend on the dollar.
What do the war in Iraq and the economic recovery in the United States have in common? More than one might expect, to judge from the last couple of rounds of US growth figures. The war has been a large part of the justification for the Bush administration to run ever-widening budget deficits, and those deficits, predicated largely on military spending, have in turn pumped money into the economy and provided the stimulus that low interest rates and tax cuts, on their own, could never achieve.

The result, according to economists, is a variant on Keynesianism that has particular appeal for Republicans. Instead of growing the government in general - pumping resources into public works, health care and education, say, which would have an immediate knock-on effect on sorely needed job creation - the policy focuses on those areas that represent obvious conservative and business-friendly constituencies. Which is to say, the military and, even more specifically, the military contractors that tend to be big contributors to Republican Party funds.
Comparative advantage, though frequently confused with absolute advantage, is actually a concept about relative relationships, not absolute ones. What the principle of comparative advantage actually implies is that each nation should specialize in what it does best relative to all the other things it could be doing and then trade with others for other needs. At its most basic level, comparative advantage is about opportunity cost: The country with the lowest opportunity cost of producing a good (i.e., the cost of producing that good in terms of other goods) should specialize in production of that good.
Employment skyrocketed by 1,000 in December. Bush is another 343,000 behind his tax cut pledge.

Despite positive data for manufacturing output, manufacturing employment was down 26,000 in December. Hours per week in manufacturing fell 0.1 hour. If there is any pickup in demand for manufacturing, it is not being reflected in either hiring or extra hours.

Unemployment fell to 5.7%. The recent decline has been entirely due to a lack of growth in the labor force. In June, when unemployment peaked at 6.3%, the labor force was 146.917 million. Last month the labor force was estimated at 146.878 million. A constant labor force participation rate would have meant unemployment at 6.2%. The unemployment rate assuming a constant labor force participation rate is somewhere between 7-7.5%. About 1.6 million more people have been classified as "not in the labor force" in the past six months.
Interesting bit on how certain conservative columnists are trying to equate "neocon" with "jewish" in order to paint those that dislike neocon politics as anti-semites. One of those columnists is David Brooks of the NYTimes.
Powell curtly dismissed a question about a book by former Defense Department official Richard Perle, now a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, in which Perle described Powell as a leader of "soft-line ideologues" in the Bush administration.

"I don't do book reviews," Powell said.
There was a bit more than that, kind of sloppy by the WP.
QUESTION: Thanks. While over at Carnegie this morning, they're criticizing you for carrying out the President's policy, in his new book, Richard Perle, and along with David Frum, says that you're a softliner and you don't carry out the President's policy. He also alleges that you get overly positive coverage by the media. So I just wanted to -- (laughter). I just wanted to know -- (laughter.)

Indeed. He didn't mention any names -- wanted to know how you respond to that kind of criticism.

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't do book reviews. Next.

Right there. Yes.

QUESTION: Yes, sir. Could you give us a little more --

SECRETARY POWELL: But, seriously, one, I don't do book reviews. Two, if I was not carrying out the President's policies, there is only one person I'd be worried about finding that to be distasteful, and that's the President.
In Errol Morris's documentary on Robert McNamara, The Fog of War, the former secretary of defence of the Vietnam war era justifies his refusal to take a stand against a disastrous policy he believed could never succeed as selfless service to President Johnson. Powell has now offered his case for failing to resign in the same terms, but making no argument for principle. His pathos begs the questions of whether he ever believed in anything greater than his sterling career, how complicit he has been in his own plight and whether he has been the good soldier as enabler. Now the fate of the "diminished" Powell will inevitably be raised as a contentious issue in the harsh arena of campaign politics. In the final frame, Powell is about to lose all control.
I suspect there must be some difference between them, between “their” dead and “ours”—otherwise, how could we justify paying so little attention to the Iraqi non-combatants we’ve killed? While there’ve been over two hundred “American” humans killed (every one of them unnecessarily, many by friendly fire), some 11,000 Iraqi civilians have died. They have died, we must acknowledge, for us. These are the people we decided wanted liberation. It was our call, and it was in response to our wound. In short, it was our cause. Their country—but never mind. Their lives, too. Oh well.
A review of Human Nature in Utopia: Zamyatin’s We
Martian day makes work interesting for NASA and gives a watchmaker a unique challenge.
A 13-year-old kid uses a DOS command and gets 3 days of suspension from school. It's where "making an example" replaces the reality of the action. It's just a lame excuse by the Principal and an overreaction by the teacher, Beverly Sweeney.
At one Italian cafe in the east of city, there is a sign above the counter which reads in bold letters, "Here it is forbidden to talk about politics."

"We decided to put this sign up because we'd simply had enough of all the heated political discussions between our clients," Johnny Harlouchi, the manager of the bar, told BBC World Service's Outlook programme.
Politics too hot a topic in Venezuela.
"This is a zero-risk product,'' said Steven Cohen, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Cohen said that the same rules in the voluntary system would apply if a more immediate threat to health appeared in the food supply. "We're frankly working with industry groups to improve this system and find a way to expand the information available,'' he added.

Alameda County health officer Dr. Tony Iton said that nevertheless, local health authorities should be free to disclose information about the recall to their citizenry.

"I do think that the USDA has erred in its judgment here. It has sacrificed the public's health in favor of the beef industry,'' said Iton. "It's absurd to think the most efficient way to conduct a recall is through visiting retailers to see if they have notified their customers.''

Thursday 8
Congress should have sought the judiciary's advice before limiting the ability of judges to impose lighter sentences than specified in federal guidelines, the nation's top judge says.

"During the last year, it seems that the traditional interchange between the Congress and the Judiciary broke down when Congress enacted what is known as the Protect Act, making some rather dramatic changes to the laws governing the federal sentencing process," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote Thursday in his annual report on the state of the judiciary.
The Associated Press reported Monday that buried in the Labor Department's proposed new overtime regulations are detailed cost-cutting suggestions that would allow employers to avoid granting extra pay to the 1.3 million workers that the regulations are supposed to benefit. Among them are cutting base worker salaries so the additional overtime payments would bring their total pay to their old salaries, or raising salaries just to the $22,100 threshold so the workers are not overtime-eligible.

"They're putting out a guideline to employers for the ways in which those employers can actually avoid their responsibility to workers -- even as they are prepared to give people earning more than $200,000 a year another tax cut," Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said as he campaigned in Iowa.
Another flaw in the Andrew Sullivan smear against Bill Moyers
As Kucinich challenged Democratic front-runner Howard Dean for refusing to acknowledge that the Pentagon budget needs to be cut, debate moderator Neal Conan of NPR interrupted.

"Congressman Kucinich is holding up a pie chart, which is not truly effective on radio," Conan told his listeners.

Kucinich was not deterred.

"Well, it's effective if Howard can see it," he replied.
I know, I know. At least Kucinich is trying to educate his party.
Russell Mokhiber exposes media bias

Tuesday 6
NOVAK: Why don't you endorse Howard Dean?

NADER: First -- first of all...

NOVAK: He sounds like Nader.

NADER: Those are words. We have to wait for deeds, don't we?

But look at the -- look at the facts here; 58,000 Americans die from worker-related diseases every year. Compare that, say, to 9/11. They're both preventable; 65,000 Americans die from air pollution every year. Compare that. Compare the 80,000 who died from medical malpractice in hospitals. Why isn't George Bush worried about those Americans, as he ships our industry to the despotic communist regime in China? That ought to bother you.
NOVAK: As I understand it, the only candidate that you really approve of on the Democratic side thoroughly is Congressman Kucinich. We know he's not going to be nominated. Therefore, since none of the other candidates you approve of, either you run for president yourself or you support somebody you don't think is doing the right thing. Is that about -- is that correct?

NADER: Who's not doing the right thing? Who would I support who's not doing the right thing?

NOVAK: Dean.

NADER: No.

We're talking about amplifying the move to take apart the Bush administration before he takes apart America and embroils us in more wars based on lies. Listen, when the president of the United States refuses to trust the American people with the truth, why should the American people trust George W. Bush with the presidency?
NOVAK: Mr. Nader, your great supporter in the last campaign, Willie Nelson, is not supporting you this time. He's supporting Dennis Kucinich.

NADER: I'm supporting Dennis.

NOVAK: Are you broken-hearted?

NADER: I'm supporting Dennis.

(BELL RINGING)

NADER: I'm urging Democrats to vote for Dennis Kucinich. How's that for a short answer?
An interview with James Dobbins on nation building
Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
THE ELEVEN LESSONS
1: Empathize with your enemy.
2: Rationality will not save us.
3: There's something beyond one's self.
4: Maximize efficiency.
5: Proportionality should be a guideline in war.
6: Get the data.
7: Belief and seeing are both often wrong.
8: Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning.
9: In order to do good you may have to engage in evil.
10: Never say never.
11: You can't change human nature.
In "How to Kill a Country" (December Atlantic), Power returns to Africa. This time, she has written about the latest tragedy on there: Zimbabwe. Independent from Britain since 1980, Zimbabwe is a fertile land that has long been considered the "breadbasket" of Africa. Yet in just the past five years, Zimbabwe's liberation leader, president Robert Mugabe, has managed to bring his country to chaos. Power spent a month in Zimbabwe last summer and then wrote a chilling analysis of the "all-systems assault" that Mugabe has launched against his own people. Power observes that Mugabe has compiled a veritable "how-to manual on national destruction" and has demonstrated "how much damage one man can do, very quickly."

Power argues that destroying a country Mugabe-style involves the following ten "steps":

1. Destroy the engine of productivity
2. Bury the truth
3. Crush dissent
4. Legislate the impossible
5. Teach hate
6. Scare off foreigners
7. Invade a neighbor
8. Ignore a deadly enemy
9. Commit genocide
10. Blame the imperialists
In just three months in 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, out of a population of 7 million, were slaughtered in a state-led genocide. This was a massive, organized attempt to eliminate the Tutsi ethnic group from the country. An international tribunal to try the organizers who planned and incited the killing has been set up in Tanzania. But that tribunal will handle the cases of only a few leaders.

Tens of thousands of other Rwandans are still imprisoned on charges of participating in the genocide. The Rwandan government recently began setting up local courts -- called gacaca -- to deal with these lower-level cases. These gacaca courts represent a countrywide effort to dig for the truth, press for confessions and fashion some form of reconciliation.
Initially, the troops thought the main interest would come from archaeology enthusiasts who flocked there decades ago, before Saddam virtually closed the site to the outside world. They only realised its marketing potential to millions of fans of the world's most famous horror film when, completely by chance, Capt Guran watched the Exorcist on a portable DVD player one night.

To his astonishment, he spotted Hatra's distinctive skyline in Director William Friedkin's opening sequence, in which a priest at an archaeology dig unearths the ancient Mesopotamian demon that goes on to possess a young American girl.
Abstinence-only sex education program doesn't make students less horny.
Italian investigators are focusing their attention on a shadowy group thought to be based in Bologna after a string of letter bomb attacks that began just after Christmas.
Spirit shows Mars in color.
David Halbfinger from the NYT wants to take Dean down.
Disturbing restrictions of free speech
Cannibals Unite
VANITY Fair columnist Christopher Hitchens has launched a one-man crime spree to protest some of Mayor Bloomberg's more overbearing ordinances.

In the space of a few hours, Hitchens managed to break a slew of New York's pettier laws: He sat on an upended milk crate, took his feet off bike pedals, put his bag on the subway seat next to him, fed pigeons in Central Park and sat on a subway step. He also smoked in a bar and in a restaurant.
A bit of history: New Yorks clearly inane laws sparked a friend of Dennis Miller to call former Major Gulliani a nazi, obviously a bit of hyperbole, but enough to catapult Dennis to the right. It seems Dennis supports fining people for "unauthorized use" of milkcrates or at least is sensitive about name calling.

Monday 5
Not only is it a simple matter to become an expert on Kafka, it is inexpensive. All of Kafka's books are in English now, and all of them are available in handsome, paperback editions. Recently, The Basic Kafka was published. It is basic, but not enough: you also need The Trial, The Castle, Amerika, The Diaries, and The Complete Stories. There are also three volumes of letters, but I advise you to save these for graduate school, when you must begin work on an M.B.A. Today, you can obtain this entire list for less than thirty dollars. Now let me impress you: With this rack of books purchased and in plain sight in your dormitory room at college, you do not even have to open a single one of them to obtain a "C"average by the end of the year!

Such is the quiet power of Franz Kafka in an academic setting. The mere fact that you have these books in your room will spread to every corner of the campus. The set- ting, however, is still incomplete. There is a scene in The Trial where K., the protagonist, buys three heathscapes from Titorelli, the court painter. It isn't possible for you to go right out and buy three heathscapes for your room, but for three dollars apiece you can get one of the fine arts students at school to paint you three of them. If you know a female art student you can probably get them done for nothing. Unfortunately, none of the do-it-yourself painting kits feature heathscapes. Heathscapes are quite depressing; two gnarled trees in the foreground, a patch of dirty gray-green grass, and a sun at its nadir. Three of these paintings, exactly alike, hanging in a row in your room, will speed your reputation as a Kafka expert. They will also serve to remind you how bleak your prospects will be if you get bounced out of college.

Sunday 4
Nukes are no joke.
Another poor speech by Michael Crichton on climate change. Being so pro-Lomborg detracts from what I will have to assume are good intentions.
MS. COURIC: You also compared this to the Kobe Bryant case?

MR. BLACK: Well, Katie, what I said is that the right of privacy applies to everyone, whether you are the alleged victim of a crime, such as in the Kobe Bryant case, or the alleged suspect. It's the right of privacy that's important... Rush Limbaugh has the same rights as everybody else.

Shortly after the last "Well, Katie" sounded, viewers with uncompartmentalized memories were left with an intriguing question that Ms. Couric neglected to ask: Could it be that Patricia Bowman had privacy rights, too -- just like Rush Limbaugh and everybody else?

Twelve years ago, Ms. Bowman stood on the opposite side of the courtroom from Mr. Black when she accused William Kennedy Smith of raping her. A cornerstone of Mr. Black's defense was portraying the Jupiter woman as psychologically unstable. To do that, he and his legal colleagues repeatedly sought access to her medical and psychological records.
...the government decided that Austin, who had just turned 18, was a terrorist. His website Raisethefist.com -- a clearinghouse of information on activism, from anti-globalization protests to police brutality -- provided free server space for other political websites. One of those sites contained something called the Reclaim Guide, which provided information on the making of explosives such as pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails. One afternoon in January 2002, heavily armed FBI and Secret Service agents raided Austin’s Sherman Oaks, California, home, trashing it and leaving with computers, books, political literature, and protest signs.

Austin was arrested just over a week later at a protest in New York City. He was held without bail for 13 days in various federal maximum-security facilities and in the summer of 2003 pleaded guilty to using the Internet to distribute information for use in committing a terrorist act. In August, Austin was sentenced to one year in jail (and three years’ probation, during which he can’t use a computer or a cell phone without the permission of his probation officer); the presiding judge made it clear that he was prepared to lock Austin up until he was 40.
The Spirit has landed

Friday 2
What would be your law?
The Los Angeles Times reports that while the nation's unemployment rate of 5.9 percent is relatively low, it fails to include the 4.9 million people who want full-time positions but are working part-time jobs. The figure also omits 1.5 million people who have stopped looking for work.

Taken together, the total number of jobless reaches 15.1 million — or 9.7 percent, up from 9.4 percent a year ago, the Times reports.
There's a limit to the "love" on Loveline.
Adam Carolla: Here's the problem with weather in Hawai'i. There's a bunch of big words.

Dr. Drew: Yeah.

Adam Carolla: And they can't handle big words over there, because they're the world's dumbest people.

Dr. Drew: Well, they can't (sic) handle big words, but they must have three letters.

Adam Carolla: Yeah, they handle big words, but it's got to be the name of a fat chick or some drink. They don't do science. Close your eyes and picture all the great Hawaiian scientists over the years. (Laughs) They're retarded people. They stay on the island. They're in-bred, obviously. They're the dumbest people we have.

Dr. Drew: I have met some smart South Pacific people. Not who lived there.

Adam Carolla: People are smart enough to move. Everyone close your eyes and think of all the amazing contributions the Hawaiian scientific community has made over the years. (Long pause) Uh ... They're stupid people.

Dr. Drew: All right. Let's hear from them. Let's hear what they have to say. It'd be interesting to hear what they have to say.

Adam Carolla: What, the Hawaiians? First off, they don't know how to dial the phone. They can't call. They don't know what they're doing. They have big calves. That's all. They're stupid people. We really should start bringing some of them in 'cause they're strong. They're a strong, sturdy breed.
Zinni's concern deepened at a Senate hearing in February, six weeks before the war began. As he awaited his turn to testify, he listened to Pentagon and State Department officials talk vaguely about the "uncertainties" of a postwar Iraq. He began to think they were doing the wrong thing the wrong way. "I was listening to the panel and I realized, `These guys don't have a clue.'"
"I have to admit that I am powerless over this addiction that I have. I used to think I could beat it with force of will." -- radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh on his drug addiction (The Post and Courier, Nov. 22)
As the terrorists struck on 9/11 philosopher and author Susan Neiman was putting the finishing touches on her book, EVIL IN MODERN THOUGHT: AN ALTERNATIVE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY. Bill Moyers recently spoke with Neiman, director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany about 9/11 and the faces of evil in modern life. Neiman discussed how people and societies deal with present and past atrocities. Says Neiman, "The biggest mistake that people make in talking about evil is to think that it only has one form or one face." Below is a brief look at some of the thinkers and ideas discussed by Susan Neiman and Bill Moyers and other modern musing on the concept of evil.
Now's reading list
Now's talks with the Futurists
Shall we talk of Media reform?
In the movie Paycheck, opening Christmas Day, a crack reverse engineer helps companies steal and improve upon the technology of their rivals, then has his memory of the time he spent working for them erased. The story, based on Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi thriller of the same name, is set in the near future, but such selective memory erasure is still highly speculative at best. ScientificAmerican.com asked neurobiologist James McGaugh of the University of California at Irvine, who studies learning and memory, to explain what kinds of memory erasure are currently possible. For more information, see his book Memory and Emotion: The Making of Lasting Memories, released in 2003.
The designer baby myth
Fifty years ago, we were told that by the turn of the century we would live in domed cities with robot maids, and travel to work by jetpack. Now we are told that a world of genetically enhanced humans is just around the corner. Steven Pinker is highly dubious
by Stephen Pinker
It seems, however, that the problem with the West is a much more complicated one. It is a problem within the individual who feels himself assaulted, disabled, violated by the power of an enemy he can neither name nor identify. The problem with the West is also a symbolic one and requires a solution on the same level. In this respect, neither the example of civilisation nor the cultural and humanitarian aid offered by the West can provide any real solution. Such aid is received with suspicion because it confirms, our continuing inferiority to the West. What the West does in this regard may be important to intellectuals and politicians but it does not penetrate to the deeper, more profound symbolic levels, which form the ideological and political structure of peoples. These peoples have been deeply humiliated by the West, whose negligence has made the humiliation even worse. That such humiliation has been so easily accepted must be put down to a sense of fragility and inner torture but this must be made up for. Attempts, proposals or plans to civilise the Islamic countries tend to increase suspicion, as the peoples of those countries consider such proposals, no matter how they are worded, as serving the logic of the coloniser.
The list of things that did not matter was long. "Buzz" did not matter (if you were right, you did not need to be popular). Sounding like the old generation did not matter. Arms control did not matter (it was a distraction practiced by moral relativists). Nice distinctions between communist leaders did not matter (they were all puppets). Current account deficits did not matter (they reflected manly growth). Race or religious preference did not matter. Age did not matter (he made 22-year-olds editorialists; when I was 25 he thought I was 40, and when I was 40 he thought I was 25). Staff leaving did not matter, even if they went to rival publications, as in my case; that just led to the more efficient dissemination of Bob's ideas.

Things that did matter included: defending scapegoats (Bob loved the friendless best); bringing down the Soviet Union (Ronald Reagan was correct--it was evil); preserving federalism in America (states were just as trustworthy as Washington); getting lower taxes (entrepreneurs were more virtuous than government officials); and restoring some version of fixed exchange rates (Richard Nixon, one of Bob's great villains, ruined the world by closing the Gold Window and ending the Bretton Woods arrangement).

Thursday 1
Perusing through a history book as a college student, I came across a jolting declaration in a footnote by one of the most highly decorated soldier of the twentieth century. He said: "I spent 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism."

Those words and more were spoken and written by Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler. At the time I wondered why more was not made in the historical accounts of the early decades of the 20th century.

Well, maybe because General Butler's was too much of an eyewitness account. And he named names. Here is more of what he said:

"I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interest in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Center American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interest in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested."
The Prospect for a Nonviolent Model of National Security by William Gay
Weapons of Mass Destruction by William Gay
William Gay, Professor of Philosophy/Department of Philosophy/UNC Charlotte
Comcast Cable has censored Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM), prohibiting the group from purchasing airtime on the company's cable system in New Hampshire, according to GSMM Campaign Coordinator Aaron Houston. Houston approached Comcast last month, asking to buy airtime for a television commercial, but he was denied without receiving any written material detailing the company's reasoning.

When a Comcast representative informed Houston on December 1 of the company's denial, the representative noted that officials in Comcast's legal department had not viewed a specific television spot from GSMM, but the officials had denied the group based on its message about medical marijuana. After receiving a written request from Houston seeking an explanation, the representative said reasons for the denial would be sent to GSMM in writing. Then, on December 16, the same representative told Houston in a telephone call that Comcast's legal department "doesn't issue written explanations."
A look at the humor of The Simpsons
In "Veil of Secrecy," a NOW with Bill Moyers investigation with U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT, David Brancaccio examines the government’s actions to cut access to information about issues from toxic pollutants to airline and auto safety — leaving them hidden from public scrutiny. In an era in which homeland security is imperative, government transparency has been diminished. Since 9/11, the report shows the federal government has blocked access to information that may protect the public's health and safety.
George lies about WMD and Laura lies about petty poems. What a cute couple!
The first lady also said that the "Roses are red, violets are blue" poem she read at a National Book Festival gala in October was not actually written by her husband even though it has been attributed to him. She did not say who wrote the poem.

"But a lot of people really believed that he did," she said. "Some woman from across the table said, `You just don't know how great it is to have a husband who would write a poem for you.' "
We delight in great works of literature and especially in the works of budding new artists. President Bush is a great leader and husband - but I bet you didn't know, he is also quite the poet. Upon returning home last night from my long trip, I found a lovely poem waiting for me. Normally, I wouldn't share something so personal, but since we're celebrating great writers, I can't resist.
Is time slipping from our understanding or will we understand time in time?
Is John Titor a Time Traveler?
The Justice Department tapped Chicago's chief federal prosecutor Tuesday to lead the first criminal investigation into the Bush administration after Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft removed himself from the politically sensitive probe into the leak of a CIA operative's identity.

Although the decision to assign the case to U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald fell short of appointing an outside counsel who is fully independent of the Justice Department, the move drew praise from Democrats who have for months called on Ashcroft to recuse himself from the case.

The move also was a clear signal, according to former senior Justice Department officials, that the investigation is gaining momentum. But many questions remained unanswered, including whether Fitzgerald would retain senior investigators on the case or replace some or all of them with his own team.
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney appointed Tuesday to take over the investigation into the leak of a CIA officer's identity, has never been reluctant to go after the powerful — be they mobsters, terrorists or politicians.

Attorneys who have worked alongside Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney in Chicago, described him as a fiercely independent prosecutor and a workaholic, even by the driven standards of his profession.

"He's a dogged prosecutor who is blinded by nothing," said David Kelley, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan. "He takes the facts and follows them where they lead him." Kelley and Fitzgerald worked together as chiefs of an organized crime-terrorism unit before they both became U.S. attorneys.

Earlier this month, the facts led Fitzgerald to indict former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, a Republican, on racketeering charges stemming from an ongoing investigation of corruption in state government. If the evidence shows that someone close to President Bush or Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to syndicated columnist Robert Novak, Fitzgerald would not flinch from filing charges, his colleagues said.

"He is someone who will do his job without fear or favor," said Mary Jo White, former U.S. attorney in New York who was Fitzgerald's boss there. "Politics will not get in his way. He will truly get to the bottom of this, no matter what the barriers may be between him and getting the job done."
Is this the twillight of the Neocons?
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