UPDATE: Many comments ensued. Notable: a long, thoughtful, and impassioned post by Lydia Nickerson, about scientific truth, religious belief, and real-world medical practice.
I know that at this time of international tension, it’s completely inappropriate for me to see the headline on Excite News: Bush to Argue Saddam ‘Is Not Disarming’ and find an imaginary conversation going through my head along the lines of:
“But George, you were dancing with Saddam all night. You must think he is the most disarming man on the planet.”
“I do not. That man is not disarming. I was only dancing with him to please papa.”
“George Bush, I do declare that you have started to blush! Mary Lou said Saddam Hussein was the most charming man at the party.”
“I am not blushing. He is not disarming, and he is not charming, and he, he’s a terrible dancer. Now leave me alone, or I shall tell papa!”
(1) Prominent Republican Thomas Kean, former governor of New Jersey, is the new chairman of the 9/11 commission.
(2) Kean is also a director of petroleum company Amerada Hess.
(3) In 1988, Amerada Hess formed a joint venture with Saudi company Delta Oil.
(4) One of Delta Oil’s backers is Khalid bin Mahfouz, who is—here’s where you need to clap your hat firmly to your skull—married to one of Osama Bin Laden’s sisters. And suspected of financing Al Qaeda. Oh, and named in one of the lawsuits brought by 9/11 victims. Did we mention that he’s also been involved in deals with the Carlyle Group, the ultra-secret investment group that includes, among others, George H. W. Bush? And also in deals with—yes, your tinfoil hat, properly adjusted, plays 1980s popular music!—BCCI?
(5) Three weeks before Kean’s appointment, Amerada Hess severed its ties with Delta.
Source: Fortune magazine.
I realize that only unreasonable people would make anything of the above. Why would anyone possibly worry about the fact that every time we turn around another prominent Administration member turns out to be up to his ass in business connections with shadowy Al-Qaeda supporters? Certainly I’m not worried. That would be tinfoil hat stuff. Not for me! I dismiss my misgivings with a stern flick of my Rational Mind! Also, monkeys fly out of my butt.
I find the on-line Pepys diary strangely consoling. On just about any given day, I can go to his weblog and discover that he, too, has been fretting about money (never quite enough), the weather (usually bad), and the current political situation (unsettled and disturbing). Some people might be depressed by this lack of evident progress in the betterment of the human condition since 1660, but I draw a certain comfort from the you-are-not-aloneness of it all.
The death of newsblogging, basically. For at least a period of time there will be next to no point in linking to “breaking news” because so much of it will be contradictory and disinformative by intent.In support of this, Jim picks at the evidently-contradictory threads of this Ha’aretz report about a possible role for the Jordanian monarchy in post-surrender Iraq, and fires up the immense translation machine at Unqualified Offerings World HQ (dials, levers, mad cackling, Van der Graaf generator).
Hint: Starts with “M.” Ends with “soft.”
War is. Is for children. In a handbasket. Freezing over. Fire and damnation. Damn you all to. Fuck it. Maybe it’s the bourbon and maybe it’s my hot head, the one that yells at the television set, and maybe it’s my snarky anti-authoritarian nature and maybe it’s just that I’m a self-hating anti-American objectively Ba’athist Stalinist stooge whose good intentions are greasing the skids down the slippery slope straight to.Read the rest.
I don’t care.
Forget the shameless politicization of an unprecedented terrorist attack. Forget that every informed opinion says that an attack will trigger reprisals here at home that we are not ready for. Forget the broken promises to firefighters and cops, forget the unnecessary, clumsy, and disruptive invasion of civil rights by the largest and most expensive government ever, forget the staggering arrogance and sobering ineptitude on the international stage. Wipe it all off the table and send it smashing to the floor. I don’t care. Sit down across the now-empty table from me and tell me how on earth I can live with an administration that proposes to do this in my name—
Manley’s weblog has other treasures to share, including the definitive post relating noirish comic book writer Frank Miller to incoming Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Not to be missed.
I just noticed on your blog the illustration in the Jan 22 entry concerning the death of Bill Mauldin.The altered cartoon is thumbnailed up to the left of this post. The ad’s caption reads “With great sadness, the Jeep brand says goodbye to the great cartoonist who immortalized the heroic enlisted men of WWII. Bill Mauldin, 1921-2003.”
Jeep has taken out full page ads in the New York Times (today, p. A11) with this very illustration, albeit slightly changed: The gun, with which the soldier puts down his wounded jeep, is replaced by a box of tissues! I did not know the cartoon before, and it did not make to much sense to me when I saw this (it certainly made some sense as a tribute to the artist, but in the context of that cartoon, why would the soldier be crying and having a box of tissues on his jeep?) So thank you very much for providing this bit of correction. And shame on DaimlerChrysler for messing up the cartoon.
The crack staff of art critics here at Electrolite agrees with Reader Klein. The original cartoon is funny on several levels: it’s a parody of a whole genre of scenes about heroic cavalry officers and their horses, and it’s an acknowledgement of the genuine feeling World War II soldiers had for their Jeeps. Obviously, somebody at Jeep understands the second point, at least. But wouldn’t it have been much funnier and more appropriate to reproduce the original cartoon? As Klein’s remarks demonstrate, the altered image simply makes no sense if you’ve never seen the original. And it’s very strange to pay tribute to a wickedly funny humorist by altering one of his most famous images to remove, well, the humor part.
As for the fact that, in 2003, “Jeep is a registered trademark of DaimlerChrysler Corporation,” we pass over it in silence. And the owl was once the baker’s daughter.
When, 17 years ago, I read the manuscript of Kim Stanley Robinson’s first novel, The Wild Shore, I loved the book but I had a big problem with the basic premise—that the United States had been devastated, forced into economic and technological primitivity by a sudden, overwhelming, tactical nuclear attack, and was now interdicted by the rest of the world. It seemed to me to be an unbelievable premise, the kind of thing where you just had to hold your breath and jump in for the sake of the story and the writing. How could we possibly get from here (20 years ago) to there?There’s nothing new about us saying that we might use nuclear weapons if attacked with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. But adding weasel words like “in the event of surprising military developments”, making sure the alarming threat gets published all over the place, and going out of our way to tell our longtime allies that it’s “my way or the highway” from now on—well, that certainly is a new approach.
This weekend I read a story in the Los Angeles Times, and was overwhelmed with the sudden knowledge that I now knew the answer to my question so long ago.
From that article:In a policy statement issued only last month, the White House said the United States “will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force—including through resort to all of our options—to the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States.”
One year ago, the administration completed a classified Nuclear Posture Review that said nuclear weapons should be considered against targets able to withstand conventional attack; in retaliation for an attack with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons; or “in the event of surprising military developments.” And it identified seven countries—China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria—as possible targets.
The same report called on the government to develop smaller nuclear weapons for possible use in some battlefield situations. Both the United States and Russia already have stockpiles of such tactical weapons, which are often small enough to be carried by one or two people yet can exceed the power of the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II.
Not long ago, I characterized the particular heedlessness of this Administration as “Hubris cruising for Nemesis.” This is beyond “cruising,” though. This is taking out a personals ad reading “Hubris seeks Nemesis for consensual scene. Serious offers only.”
The DoD has gone out of its way to make it a snap. An unbelievably badly-protected admin interface welcomes you to register whatever domain you please (http://Rotten.mil anyone?), or edit anything they’ve already got. The interface is so ludicrously unprotected that it’s been cached by Google and fails to mention that you must be authorized to muck about with it. Incredibly, default passwords are cheerfully provided on the page.The Register notes that before running this story, they emailed the DoD employee who manages these sites—twice, in fact—but received no reply. They conclude:
Following an anonymous tip from an observant Reg reader, we’ve encountered the page in question in the Google cache, and after a bit of our own poking about have also discovered an equally unprotected (and Google-cached) admin interface encouraging us to add a new user, like ourselves, say, which requires no authentication.
All you have to do is find that page and you can set yourself up with a user account, manage your new .mil Web site, fiddle about with other people’s .mil Web sites, and generally make an incredible nuisance of yourself. We are, of course, straining against every natural, journalistic impulse in our beings by neglecting to mention any useful search strings with which to find it. […]
Ironically, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently ordered DoD to purge military Web sites of information that might benefit evildoers. That’s all well and good, but it might behoove the DoD to stop offering them admin privileges first.(Via Noah Shachtman’s fascinating weblog DefenseTech.)
In our next exciting installment, I will remark “Give me a break,” and a right-wing poster will show up on cue to scold me for demanding a handout, just like all the other liberals. Do you suppose that, as things get rockier and rockier for the Rove Administration, some folks in the party of War Now are getting just a little bit stressed? Could happen.
Meanwhile, in the immortal words of Ted Barlow, if you listen closely, you can actually hear Irony dying.
UPDATE: No sooner than I post the above, than one (1) piece of mail comes through, which is (to put it mildly) a lot less than I usually get overnight. Logging into Panix’s Unix shell service, I see a message-of-the-day has just been posted:
Many Panix services were disabled on-and-off (mostly off) from about 12:30AM Saturday morning up until recently. This was the result of a massive DDOS (distributed denial-of-service) attack that apparently affected a number of ISPs. We don’t know a lot about this yet, though we’ve been working on it all night, since the volume was far more massive than any attack in our previous experience, and apparently triggered at least two separate bugs in Cisco’s IOS (memory leakage and HSRP failures).Sounds like interesting times on the Internet. I’ve been vaguely conscious that DDOS attacks have been getting larger and more sophisticated. Looks like this one may be affecting a lot of people, so be advised.
The attack is continuing, on and off. We’ve taken certain measures, which are partially effective, but we’re uncertain as to how they’ll stand up.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Teresa points out that since our home DSL (via Speakeasy) and our hosting provider (the entirely wonderful Blogomania) are both working, it makes sense to let people get in touch with us via an “open thread” on one of our weblogs. Teresa’s set it up here. Use it if you need to reach us—or if you have interesting information about this ongoing net problem. (Please note that, for now, if you post in any of our other comment threads, we might be a little slow to notice it, since our email is still very erratic.)
A lot of World War II servicemen behaved for years, until that old debbil dotage crept up on them, and they began to think of themselves as heroes, strutting around at memorials, D-Days, V-Days, and Armistice Day parades and whatnot, strangling in VFW and Legion jackets, their fore-and-aft caps cocked high and low, gongs, patches, and other inscrutable garbage all over them. Some might have been heroes, who knows?I read Up Front and Back Home when I was ten or eleven. I’ve never forgotten them. Bill Mauldin knew the score, lived the story, and told the truth. Farewell.
This disturbed me and got me to thinking about heroes, real ones—and after a long spell, I poked my head up and my hero ambushed me. He was not Sgt. York or Audie Murphy, he was the World War 2 dogface.
[…] The real source and catalyst of this spirit was Bill Mauldin’s Up Front and Back Home. In Up Front, Mauldin tells about his life as a doggie and the cartoons of two dogfaces, Willie and Joe, show it. It is a fine work—funny, grim, and sad, the only indispensable book, as the critics say, on World War II. […]
Mauldin, boy soldier, seems to have always been at war with himself. Conflicting feelings are, I feel, the surest crucible of art. His work stripped bare war and life, and himself, with humor and honesty. He was a strong, clear, and open writer. His anecdote about the 20-year-old staff sergeant who was shredded when a German dropped a potato masher in his hole is a little lesson in how to write. How to be. In a picture of him in the field, I noticed that he was left-handed. As he asked: Whoever heard of a left-handed artist? He led a somewhat privileged life, but don’t be fooled; he was a doggie, a 45th Division doggie.
In the past couple of years, the Web has become a graveyard for dozens of creative, independent sites.And a cradle for thousands more, Talbot did not add. John Scalzi directs some measured words to this point.
Personally, I wish Salon well, I’ve enjoyed a lot of things they’ve published, and my own dealings with them have been entirely pleasant and professional…but I find myself just a tad weary of Talbot’s habitual claims to be the standard-bearer of all that is creative and independent and non-mainstream. Salon’s basic problem is that most of what it publishes is no better than hundreds of thousands of other words of political and cultural commentary being posted to the web every day, for free. So why should anyone give them $30 a year? Heck, for only $10 a year, I promise to give absolutely no money to David Horowitz or Camille Paglia. That’s a savings of TWO THIRDS! Creativity, independence, opposition culture, and your mother are at stake! Remember: (1) no Horowitz, (2) no Paglia, (3) no fooling. Join Electrolite Premium! Act now! Act without thinking! Send money today!
You know, why even bother? An oversized foam middle finger to the families of the victims would get the same job done, and at a tiny fraction of the cost.As the AP story points out, the government plonked down $5 million for a commission to study legalized gambling.
It really couldn’t be clearer that this is a put-up job, and that we are ruled by people who wish us harm.
Rallies are far less effective than people give them credit for. They make a nice media splash but given the work and time involved, a really poor use of resources. Think about it— if 100,000 people (to take a conservative estimate) were down in DC this weekend, most of them taking the whole day to get there and get home, that is something like 1.2 million volunteer hours.
Instead of one media event that most people just barely notice in an impersonal newspaper article or TV message, if all of those people had spent that time in phone banks or door-knocking, they could have literally engaged tens of millions of people individually. They could have asked these new people to come to followup meetings, asked them to host house parties with neighbors, asked them to write their legislators—asked them to do something other than stare at a media report.
By its nature protest is insular, which feeds the sectarian language and the sense of speaking to the converted. […] Outreach is hard, but reaching new people is really far more important than hanging out for a day with people who already agree with you.
As it happens, I was singing “America the Beautiful” just the other day, while ambling along with a bunch of fellow travellers and other riff-raff. So I wonder if Simon has looked at the full lyrics lately, which seem to me to be as much about history as they are about landscape:
O beautiful for glory-taleI’ve noted before that “America the Beautiful” is unusual among patriotic songs in that it actually acknowledges that its subject is imperfect, a work in progress:
Of liberating strife
When once and twice, for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!I’m down with that.
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!
George “The Blogger’s Chew Toy” Orwell once speculated that the tendency to skip the “Confound their politics / Frustrate their knavish tricks” part of “God Save the King” might stem from Tory suspicion that those lines referred to them. Likewise, it’s easy to imagine the party of Greed Is Good being unenthusiastic about this:
America! America!But it’s definitely not about landscape. You gotta give it that.
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!
“Your Red Roots Are Showing!” chanted the Freepers as we approached.
The sign Jim was carrying read “PEACE NOW, SOCIALISM NEVER.”
I clapped Jim on the shoulder. “Thank you for your undercover service, comrade,” I said. “Your gold bars will arrive from Moscow shortly.”
You probably saw the story where the Vatican put the knuckle down on American Catholic politicians—read John Kerry and (maybe) Nancy Pelosi—about hewing to the company line regarding certain issues on which a “well-formed Christian conscience” does not permit them to take a certain position. Now, ever since John Kennedy gave his speech to the Baptist ministers in Texas back in 1960, we American Papists have taken comfort in the fact that this peculiar “double loyalty” issue had been put to rest. Now, with their institutional church possessing on issues of human sexuality the approximate moral credibility of a barnyard goat, the bureaucrats in red beanies have decided to raise it again. If Kerry has any brains at all, he’ll make a speech this week telling these ermined layabouts to go climb a tree. My own informed Christian conscience won’t rest until a battalion of them are hauled off to the sneezer on conspiracy charges.This Boston Globe piece suggests that, by and large, modern American Catholic politicians aren’t taking much guff from the Curia. It concludes:
Some scholars said the Vatican’s ability to impose its moral views on American politicians has been lessened by the clergy sex abuse crisis.You could light a match on that.
”One of the lessons of the sex scandal is that lawyers and prosecutors and politicians can’t automatically defer to the church on legal and moral questions,” said Leslie Griffin, a legal ethics professor at the University of Houston Law Center, who studies the relationship between law and religion. ”On all these questions of sexuality, of marriage, of peace, the lay people have expertise.”
I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengance, more desolation. War is hell. (William Tecumseh Sherman)
Contact Jim Henley for details if you’d like to join Blogtopia’s delegation to this cultural and political event.
UPDATE: Jim Henley provides details of where and when to meet our party—now composed, I gather, of Jim, Max, Julian Sanchez, one Leonard from Unruled, and a group of antiwar organizers from Lexington, Virginia. (Lexington, Virginia? Surely, just to balance things, there must be a Manassas, Massachusetts.)
“The fact that the inspectors have not yet come up with new evidence of Iraq’s WMD program could be evidence, in and of itself, of Iraq’s noncooperation,” Rumsfeld said.Writes our friend Jim Macdonald, Navy veteran: “I wonder if Rumsfeld would like the same standard of proof be applied to him and the kiddie porn on his personal computer.”
Teddy Bare had hanky panky with a chick who wound up dead, Biden plagarized, Clinton got head from a ditzy Jew broad and lied to the people, KKK bigwig Byrd bandied the white N*gger around, Condit got caught hanky panky with a ditzy jew chick who wound up dead.From someone calling themselves “Army E8”, email address “email@example.com”, IP address 22.214.171.124.
Q: How many Andrew Sullivans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Bush again gets it exactly right. While the leftists continue to marginalize themselves by mewling and snorting at the lack of light, the rest of America will be enjoying the darkness that Bush has shrewdly provided. Once again, his instincts and deep bond with the American people carry the day.
KRUGMAN AWARD NOMINEE: “I think I liked it better when the lightbulb worked.” Jimmy Thompson, 4th grade, quoted in (where else?) the New York Times.
A letter-writer in the Washington Post remarks:
“Thousands of Vietnam-era draftees came home for burial in wooden boxes, and many more still suffer the effects of napalm exposure or were otherwise disabled in combat. It is comforting, I’m sure, to their families that they were of ‘no value, no advantage, really.’”I agree, and have recently argued, that for most modern purposes volunteer armies are liable to be more effective than conscripts. But for a Secretary of Defense to fliply dismiss the value of 1,800,000 Americans’ service is stunningly crass. I know teenagers with more thoughtfulness and discretion than Rumsfeld displays. And less vanity.
So we’d be a receptive audience for the book Bjorn Lomberg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist claimed to be.
So we’re all the more disappointed that it’s no such thing. As Australian economist and weblogger John Quiggin articulates:
I began with a very positive attitude towards Lomborg. He seemed to be taking a sensibly optimistic attitude towards environmental problems, pointing to our successes in fixing up pollution problems, the ozone layer and so on, rather than focusing on doomsday scenarios. Then I gradually realised that Lomborg only endorsed past actions to address environmental problems—whenever any issue came up that might involve doing something now, Lomborg always had a reason why we should do nothing. In particular,he came up with an obviously self-contradictory case for doing nothing about global warming, and gave a clearly biased summary of the economic literature on this topic, which I know very well.
After that, I looked at his story about being an environmentalist reluctantly convinced of the truth according to Julian Simon. As I observed a while ago, I first heard this kind of story in Sunday School, and I’ve heard it many times since. It’s almost invariably bogus, and Lomborg is no exception. You don’t need to look far to find errors in Simon’s work as bad as any of those of the Club of Rome, but Lomborg apparently missed them. Going on, I realised that Lomborg’s professed concern for the third world was nothing more than a debating trick—otherwise he wouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss emissions trading with poor countries as politically infeasible.
There’s nothing I hate more than being conned. Lomborg tried to con me, and, for a while, he succeeded. That’s why I’m far more hostile to him than to a forthright opponent of environmentalism like Simon.
What they teach in seminary
What theya0shoulda0teach in seminary
- Old Testament: Pentateuch, Wisdom, Prophets, Lesser Prophets, Psalms, Writings.
- New Testament: Four Gospels, Letters of Paul, and other infinitely variable combinations
- Pastoral Care: Rogerian and Whitehead Models of pastoral conversation
- Field Education: in which the Field Ed supervisor, usually the Rector of a local church, gets a Youth Group leader for a semester.
- Theology: Systematic and Foundations and other elective perversions.
- Canon Law
- Christian Education
- Christian Ethics
- Human Rights
- Church History (I actually stood at the ancient tomb of the Venerable Bede at Durham Cathedral in England this summer and cursed him for having to read his History of the Church in middle English)
- Anglicanism (insert the appropriate -ism for your denomination)
- Clinical Pastoral Education - in which the seminarian approaches and occasionally exceedsa0the limits of his/her ability to endure an endless summer ofa0colonoscopies by peers.
- Small business management
- Desk-top Publishing
- Alternative spiritualities
- How toa0relate to people who think you are God
- How to relate to people who think you are Satan
- Small engine repair
- How to relate to people that you think are God
- How to relate to people that you think are Satan
- The difference between annuals and perennials
- How to keep from thinking you are God
- How to keep from thinking you are Satan
- Landscape Design
- How to relate to your Music Director who thinks you are Satan
- The Music Director is incapable of thinking of you as Goda0a0
- Electrical Contracting
- How to relate to the Altar Guild who thinks you are Satan.
- The Altar Guild is incapable of thinking of you as Goda0a0a0a0
- Telephone repair
- How to relate to your Office Manager who tells you not to ever touch the officea0machines while she’s away.
- How to buy something you desperately need but have no money with which to pay.
- How toa0get the church Matriarch to think something’s her idea.
- How to age bills gracefully.
- Howa0to keep from counting the days to retirement.
- How to tell someone at three in the morning that their teen-ager has just been killed in a wreck.
- How toa0have a relationship with your family
- How to continue toa0have a relationship with God (who?)
Marginal tax rates are no longer at 70% and there’s no special reason to think that the United States is suffering from too much taxation at the moment. But the Republican party has become like some kind of mutant cyborg whose programming has become defective: the only words left in their vocabulary are “tax cuts” and they are simply going to keep repeating them over and over like a Hari Krishna chant regardless of whether they make any sense in current circumstances. It just boggles the mind.
UPDATE: Jeanne D’Arc has a thoughtful post about all this over on Body and Soul.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) my reputation as a reclusive quasi-Pynchonian luddite shunning the net (or word-processors, depending on what you Google) I hope to be here on a more or less daily basis.As a publishing professional I’m fascinated by these probings into webloggery as a promotional tool. Most authors build their audience slowly, one reader at a time, and accumulating readers who feel a sense of personal connection is very important. But publishing-industry stuff aside, it would be excellent to see more informal writing from Bill, who was always good at this sort of thing, and reliably full of surprises.
That the extremists had taken over the SCV became clear in the months that followed [Ron G.] Wilson’s victory. Wilson appointed half a dozen hate group members to key posts on the SCV’s national staff. A gag order was imposed on internal critics in a bid to silence dissenters like Gilbert Jones. Efforts to purge some of those who opposed Wilson’s faction got under way. Violently racist jokes and commentary circulated on a popular SCV e-mail list run by a key Wilson ally. Ties between the SCV and [Kirk] Lyons’ radical law group, the Southern Legal Resource Center (SLRC), were cemented. Sensing a sea change, SCV moderates either hunkered down, joined a new, dissenting organization to try to fight the extremists, or simply quit.The “Council of Conservative Citizens,” of course, is that organization that both Trent Lott and John Ashcroft have palled around with. It’s the successor organization to the old White Citizens Council. Trent Lott is the incoming chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. John Ashcroft is Attorney General of the United States.
William Chip” Pate, a North Carolina moderate, put it like this when he left in September: “The organization is now being led at the national level by angry, misguided bigots and what has charitably been called ‘the lunatic fringe.’”
The takeover of the SCV did not come out of the blue. Lyons had laid out a strategy for radicalizing the organization two years earlier in a speech to the neo-fascist American Friends of the British National Party in Arlington, Va. Speaking from the same podium as former Klan leader David Duke, Lyons told the audience of racist activists that the needed to get rid of its “grannies” and “bed-wetters” and get serious about the political struggle.
“The civil rights movement I am trying to form seeks a revolution,” Lyons told his colleagues on that April 2000 day. “We seek nothing more than a return to a godly, stable, tradition-based society with no ‘Northernisms’ attached, a hierarchical society, a majority European-derived country.” Four months later in August, Lyons, a man who was married by a neo-Nazi “reverend” on the grounds of the nation’s most infamous hate group compound, was elected to his first national SCV office.
Lyons already had helped steer the SCV into working alliances with white supremacist groups like the League of the South and the Council of Conservative Citizens in an effort to defend the Confederate battle flag.
One would prefer to see this stuff as the last thrashings of an old dragon in its death throes. But who’s in power, and who isn’t?
Owners of other gay bookshops say they are floored by the fact that Manhattan cannot seem to support a gay bookstore.It’s no surprise to me. Manhattan no longer has a science-fiction bookstore, either.
On the other hand, you can buy a startling variety of science-fiction titles at huge chain bookstores all over Manhattan, and I suspect the same is true of gay-interest books. Moreover, unlike in the days when little Village shops like Oscar Wilde and The Science Fiction Shop flourished, you can find this kind of wide selection out in the suburbs as well.
Some said that the failure of the gay bookstores in Manhattan was actually a sign of the gay movement’s success in making gay issues mainstream, which would be in keeping with what Oscar Wilde wrote in Lady Windemere’s Fan: “In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”I would say that sometimes it’s important to ask ourselves what’s more culturally important: the preservation of particular bookstores, or the widespread availability of books.
Obviously, I don’t want bookselling to be controlled by one or two behemoths, but as I’ve written before, people who focus on the loss of charming old independent shops in Cambridge or Berkeley or Greenwich Village have a tendency to forget how completely devoid of bookstores most of America was fifty years ago. The fact that all over the country, in the second-tier cities and suburban sprawls where most people live, you can find a decent selection of books in all sorts of highly specialized categories—well, that’s a change. Indeed, sometimes it’s hard to convey to people who grew up in Cambridge or Berkeley or New York what a transforming change it really is.
Faced with a real problem—terrorism, the economy, nukes in North Korea—the Bush administration’s response has nothing to do with solving that problem. Instead it exploits the issue to advance its political agenda.Twelve paragraphs follow, analyzing the administration’s “stimulus” plan. They’re good paragraphs. But those twelve paragraphs could have been devoted to any administration policy. The first paragraph could still have been the same. And also the last line:
Will these guys ever decide that their job includes solving problems, not just using them?No wonder they hate him.
New blogger John Duffy, of The Better Rhetor, is mad as hell about the naked cynicism of pushing Trent Lott out as Majority Leader while leaving the equally-shameful John Ashcroft in office, and he’s organizing—wait for it—a letter-writing campaign. It’s easy to dismiss this sort of effort as small potatoes, but imagine if enough people actually did it. I’ve heard worse ideas.
MADD has morphed from an anti-drunk-driving organization to an anti-alcohol organization. The pitch has gradually shifted from “don’t drive drunk” (utterly correct and reasonable), to “don’t drink and drive” (not really the same as “don’t drive drunk,” but perhaps within the zone of reason) to, essentially, “don’t drink”—which is fluorescent idiocy.Merritt quotes an email from NACDL media director Dan Dodson, who has his own view of the real reason for the constant pressure to keep lowering allowable blood-alcohol counts:
The insurance industry likes the high-risk premiums that result—usually about four times regular rates. And no one can afford more than the minimum liability limits, so the victims of DUI convicts’ later mistakes, DUI-related or not, have a minimal pool of insurance money for compensation.It’s hard to avoid the suspicion that a significant number of America’s worst social problems would be alleviated by summoning the insurance industry’s top managers to an economic summit, and then setting packs of wild dogs on them.
“There! By mixing my labor with this table and these chairs, I have appropriated them out of the Lockeian state of nature and have made the right to sit at them for the next two hours my private property!” “Throwing your sportcoat on a table is mixing your labor with it?” “Don’t fight with me, go fight with John Locke.” “He’s dead. And I thought items in the state of nature were things like trees…soil…animals to be domesticated…not tables and chairs made in the Shenzhou Special Economic Zone.” “I don’t inquire into how they got into the state of nature, I just observe that the right to sit at them for the next two hours was in the state of nature, and that I have just appropriated it.” “Well, now that you have Locked in our seats, I had better see if I can find someone to sell us drinks. Oh. Isn’t there something about ‘as much and as good’ left for others, and wasn’t this the last free table?” “You seem to think that I am using Lockeian doctrines as part of a serious philosophical argument to justify our monopolizing this table. I’m not. I’m using it as an ideology—as a plausible but ultimately specious justification that gives us the right to ignore the glowers of others standing around, others who clearly wish we would get up and leave so that they can sit down here instead.”
From 1942 onward, the United States abducted some 3,000 people of Japanese, Italian and German ancestry from Latin America, shipped them to the United States and placed them in internment camps. These prisoners were never charged with crimes.Kevin Drum comments on this:
This is why I think it’s important not to romanticize the past: it prevents us from learning from our mistakes. Yes, interning those people was wrong, but it’s different today. Don’t you understand that the world is a far more dangerous place than it was in our parents’ day?
No it’s not. And if in hindsight something was wrong 60 years ago, it’s also wrong today.
I was wrong. The author, Stephen Downes, emails to say that the problem is specific to situations where more than one URL points to the same page. Which is in fact the case for The Sideshow, and indeed, Avedon figured this out herself some days after I posted that. I should have remarked on it earlier. Downes says he intends to fix this problem in the next release.
While we’re discussing being wrong, evidently one of today’s themes on Electrolite, I should like to note that SF writer John Shirley sent me an email out of the blue a couple of months ago, having just come across the transcript, still available on the web, of a live online interview with me that took place on Hotwired seven years ago. (Remember Hotwired, web old-timers?) In that interview, I made a passing remark about Shirley’s work that suggested it was derivative of the work of William Gibson. Shirley points out that, in fact, he published recognizably “cyberpunk” SF well before William Gibson did, and that moreover he introduced Gibson’s work to Terry Carr, who would ultimately be the editor who brought Neuromancer to print.
Shirley points out that the transcript has probably been read by more websearchers in later years than one might otherwise guess, since the interviewer was (I had forgotten this) Jonathan Lethem. I’ll see what I can do about getting it amended. Meanwhile, Electrolite is probably the place where I can most efficiently acknowledge that Shirley is right about this—it was a stupid thing for me to say, and also plainly untrue.
Have you ever noticed that your writers have changed? Semi-serious question. Youll spend six months in a romantic comedy, then you turn around one day and you’re in a ghost story or a medical thriller, or you spend a year in a kitchen sink, grittily realistic drama and then, without warning, your life turns into a sitcom…
Its always sudden. It often happens with a bang. Ah, I think, when that happens to me. New writers…
But just as we’re periodically boggled by fellow liberals who seem to think the whole point is to coerce people into virtue, we also have our moments when we want to take a long shower and deny ever having been friendly with any self-described “libertarians” in our entire life.
This attempt to bring the Internet to Laotian villages via wireless networks, low-wattage computers, and hand-crank generators, is one of the Web’s hot stories right now. It’s the brainchild of Bay Area genius Lee Felsenstein, whose organization needs money to get the system in place before the monsoon season. Will people be as generous with him as they were with another Web charity hit, the New York chic chick who raised more than enough Internet donations to pay off her towering Bloomie’s bills? I’ll let you know…Maybe I’m just not smart enough to penetrate the hipster irony here, but as far as I can tell, this nothing more than a crude attempt to yoke two utterly unrelated things—the admirable and well-thought-out Jhai project to deploy cheap and robust computer technology to help some Laotian villages, and the obviously flaky attempt of a young lady in New York to get Internet donors to bail her out of her credit-card debt—in order to somehow suggest a connection between the naivete of people taken in by the latter, and anyone who supports the former. After all, they’re both nothing more than “Web charity hits”.
In other words, generosity is for chumps, no matter what it’s for. Let’s have a good laugh.
That’s why I’m not a libertarian. Because every time I warm to this crowd, I come across something like this. Not just a principled devotion to human freedom, but a gratuitously thuggish antipathy to any kind of decent generosity.
I’m sure I’m all wrong about this. I can practically write the posts I see incoming to my comment section. But right now I just want to enlist in some other, less disgusting species.
UPDATE: Neel Krishnaswami thinks I’ve seriously misread the weblog post in question, and says so in my comment section. I lean toward thinking Neel is right. Neel Krishnaswami, and I am not even the first blogger to say this lately, should consider doing a blog of his own.
It will certainly outrage all the right people, many of them on this side of the border. Should be an interesting next several months.
It’s called Old Man’s War, and it can be best described as a Heinlein juvenile whose protagonist happens to be 75 years old. And I couldn’t stop reading it. We’ll publish it in hardcover in late 2003 or early 2004, and in paperback about a year after that.
Neither John or I are entirely sure that this is the very first instance of a novel being snapped up by a major publisher based on its being posted to the web, but whether it is or not, I’m very happy with the deal. Scalzi is in fact a professional writer, but primarily in nonfiction; this is his first novel sale.
I’ve just been tipped off that Andrew Sullivan’s weblog mentions this deal, and links to Scalzi’s own site, which I imagine accounts for the big wash of hits rolling over nielsenhayden.com this morning. Welcome, new readers. Have a look around, and do drop by Teresa’s Making Light as well, if you’re so inclined.
We can’t believe the number of “liberals” touting Rangel’s obscene proposal to invoke a mandatory draft as a means of avoiding a war in Iraq—the faulty premise being if you put the sons of the rich at risk, perhaps the rich will come to oppose the war.
With all due respect to our “liberal” friends, this is sophomoric and dangerous to the futures of tens of thousands of American youth. What right do they have to call for the interruption of the lives of these young men who have done nothing to them?
Which seemed to me a perfect sidebar to this article in the New York Observer about the crisis in modern English Studies.
Here on his weblog, Lessig unearths a great illustration of how the entertainment industry’s legal overreach has impoverished the rest of us. The whole post deserves to be read and disseminated:
So I’ve been telling this story about the birth of Mickey Mouse for some time now. See, e.g., my OSCON speech. The story goes like this: Walt Disney was a great creator in the tradition of great creativity: his creativity was to rip, mix, and burn popular culture. Even Mickey Mouse, who was born as Steamboat Willie (released in 1928), was a rip, mix, and burn take-off on Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill (released in 1928).
But I hadn’t realized just how true that was until I opened my very cool set of Disney “Treasures”—a special DVD release of the early black and white Mickey Mouse films that Disney is now selling (comes in a cool tin case, with a serial number pressed into the tin). The DVD is a great collection of the early cartoons, with some “bonus” features including the script for Steamboat Willie. Here’s a screen shot of the first page of the script. Notice the direction from Walt: “Orchestra starts playing opening verses of ‘Steamboat Bill.’” Try doing a cartoon take-off of one of Disney, Inc.’s latest films with an opening that copies the music, and see how far your Walt Empire gets.
New wrinkle: Electrolite’s comments-section moderator is now Teresa Nielsen Hayden. So if you value your vowels, you know what to do.
Be fleet of foot. Be amusing. Remember, no matter what you do:
Life’ll kill ya / That’s what I saidThank you, Warren Zevon, for everything.
Life’ll kill ya / Then you’ll be dead
Life’ll find ya / Wherever you go
Requiescat in pace / That’s all she wrote
And Happy New Year to you all.