FauxPolitik

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Another Cup? The Swiss Miss has pre-announced a 2006 comeback.
Women's tennis has yet another comeback tale after the announcement by Martina Hingis that she plans to return to the tour next year.


She was only 22 when foot injuries and slumping results caused her to retire early in 2003. It was a surprising, depressing end to a career that peaked very early, with Hingis becoming both the youngest No. 1 player in history and winning all five of her Grand Slam singles titles before her 19th birthday.

Now, at age 25, the Swiss woman has decided that she is fit and well-adjusted enough to plunge back into the brightly lit fishbowl of the women's circuit and try to swim with the generally younger, generally more powerful set.

If she can play, it will be a great comeback to see. This is the young lady, after all, who could beat Venus when even Serena couldn't beat Venus. And she gave up 7 inches and 40 pounds to the elder Williams. She was on a grand slam pace to be one of the truly elite, with 5 singles slam titles by the age of 19 and 8 doubles slam titles (including a grand slam in 1998) by the age of 22. In other words, there's no disputing the talent.

That said, it is likely that playing often against the hard-hitting big girls kept her injuries from healing completely. (It's also pretty clear that it took a psychological toll.) Now she's 25, an age at which a tennis player generally begins to ponder life off the court. Granted, J-Cap managed a brief comeback, winning two slams at 29 and the Aussie at 30. Of course, by the time she came back, she appeared to have been living in the weight room for a few years and was prepared to spar with the big girls.

In the end, I just don't see much here. The smaller ladies can play with the bigger, as Hingis did before and a younger, healthier Henin did for a while. But they're well advised to do it when they're young and still healing well. I wish Martina luck, but I'm betting her return will be brief.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What is wrong with Massachusetts (besides Ted Kennedy)??: Political Correctness has its heart in the wrong place, it's just that it can't stop bleeding all over everyone. The latest example comes from Eno's resident state, er commonwealth: paintings of the Mayflower Compact shouldn't be displayed because the Indi...I mean Native Americans, and wome...I mean womyn, weren't allowed to vote.

It seems local Selectwomyn Sarah Peake, of Provincetown, Mass, didn't like the large oil painting depicting the Pilgrims voting for the Mayflower Compact because the lone Native American portrayed therein doesn't have a ballot, and none of the womyn could vote ... you know because it was 1620!

So...let's stop using any of our U.S. lucre, save either the Susan B. Anthony dollar coin, or better yet the newer "gold" Sacagewea coin, b/c there you have not only a female, er femail (?), but also a heroic Native American. Yes, this could get a bit tough during the holiday season, what with you having to cart around, ummm, carts to hold your money in, but think of all the feelings that will be spared!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nostrazordamus: Harken back to our annual NFL predictions ... harken.

Leave aside everything I said about T.O. and the Eagles -- leave it aside I tell you. Focus instead on my pick for first coach fired. Focus sharply. Wherein I said:
First coach to get fired: Mariucci. Lions fall to say, 2-7, Mooch gets the boot. Matt Millen steps down from front office to show how bad he can really muck things up.


Well, I was off by two games -- I was a bit more pessimistic in how quickly the team would reach 7 losses, but ultimately, 7 losses was the magic number. The Mighty Millen gave Mooch the chance at 4-6 to turn things around, only to be disappointed as the Lions that Didn't Roar fell to 4-7.

But, don't cry for Mr. Mariucci; he'll pick up some cushy college job for next year like Pete Carroll at USC and in 5 years we'll all be hearing about how smart the guy is. No, the real villain is Matt Millen and the Ford family. Why on earth would you give the GM job to a friggin' linebacker? Do you know how many shots to the head those guys take? Everyone knows the only smart players are the offensive linemen.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving: No plans to blog much, if at all, today, so I'll just say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone (I think that means Razor). Safe travels, don't undercook the stuffing and buy some loose fitting pants. And go Steelers (not till Monday, but it's never too early).

Eno, start chilling the Newkies.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Now, How Hard Was That? (Day Late/Dollar Short Dept.) OSM changes its name back to PajamaSomething, or whatever, plus gives a not-really apology to everyone for jerking their chain. Fine, fine. Just what I suggested on Saturday. (Although if they were the big shit in the blogosphere they think they are, they might have figured it out for themselves a week ago.) But then comes this:
So, in the spirit of "open source," we thought we’d tell you the real story behind the reason for our name change.
Nothing that this crew has done so far has even glanced at the "spirit of open source." This is like a major media outlet saying, "In the spirit of full disclosure . . ." weeks after getting socked for their failure to disclose fully in the first place. It's a laughable attempt to put a virtuous face on a clusterf*ck.

Sorry, guys, you lost me at "Hello." If I want to get sold, softsoaped, and bullshat, I'll stick with traditional print and broadcast media.

Whatever you do: don't call this number.

1-888-353-7667

Kofi-talk: I read this, and all I can think of is this guy.
"You must let me wet my beak a little."

Link via Radley, who is skeptical of Kofi's sincerity.

Good news, bad news: Minnesota's late field goal to beat the Packers put me in the money for the second time in 3 weeks in the local pool. Excellent.

Sure makes that Packers pick to win the NFC North look brilliant, though.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And Why Not? At first I thought this headline said, "Islanders pray to Jesus image on pot plant." Well, sure. If I were three or four joints downstream and I saw Jesus winking at me from under the grow lights, I might fall down and worship too. Alas, that's "plant pot," not "pot plant."

My second thought was, man they'll pray to anyone to get the Stanley Cup again.

Disgraced 70s Rock Star May Face Firing Squad: Oh, please, please, please let it be David Bowie.

Crap.

Astronomy pic of the day: "Uh, Houston? We're fucked."

Traffic: Michael Totten, on driving in Lebanon.
When I first arrived in Beirut I thought Lebanese drivers must be among the worst in the world. They don’t stop at red lights. They drive the wrong way down one-ways. Seat belts are verboten, and the concept of lanes is utterly alien. Speed limits? No way. Traffic circles are unbelievable clusterfucks. Stop signs are suggestions that translate into “slow down just a tad if it’s not too much trouble.” The soundtrack of the city is an unending cacophony of blaring car horns and screeching tires. Busses take up two lanes by themselves, and trucks pass slow cars in oncoming traffic around blind corners. It’s terrifying at times and maddening the rest of the time. Driving on icy mountain roads in January must really be something.


Then something new happened. The whole system just clicked. Rent a car and drive these streets yourself for a while and all of a sudden you can predict what first seemed like deranged and psychotic behavior. Behind every seemingly-crazy driving maneuver is a purpose. The key to predicting what other drivers will do is to ask yourself what you would do if there weren’t any rules and you were guaranteed not to hit anybody. Then you can relax and play the game.

This is all true, to a point. The full-bore Eastern mindset is required, though. I'll give you an example, in the form of one of the stories one of my Mediterranean friends tells. He and some buddies had hired a cab to take them from Cairo to the Red Sea for a weekend, and the driver was hauling ass. On the way, the fog got really thick, to the point where they quite literally couldn't see the road five feet in front of the car. My friend said to the driver, "Don't you think you ought to slow down a little."

"Insh'Allah," said the driver -- "It's in God's hands."

I'm no stranger to fools behind the wheel -- I have been one at times. But that kind of fatalism I can't handle, and I think it factors heavily in how the Middle East's traffic workings developed.

How Latin America's developed, I have no idea.

Up is Down: Sharon and Likud are splitsville.
In a bold gamble, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left his hard-line Likud party Monday to form a new centrist party, and he asked Israel's president to dissolve parliament and push for a quick March election. Sharon said life in Likud had become insufferable. He described his new party as "liberal" and said it would give Israel new hope for peace.
The man who for years was the embodiment of Likud is too soft for the hardliners and has split to form a centrist party. This is not to say that such news is unexpected. Still, it's amazing how quickly Sharon has changed the political structure in the country. Quiet word on the street says he may even bring Shimon Peres with him -- a political odd couple if there ever was. Giving up the occupied territories will be like working through a snakebite: There will be convulsions. I wonder if Netanyahu can engineer a comeback for Likud. My guess is that, if Sharon can pull this off, he can govern in his own right, without a coalition.

We'll see.

Blogger buzzkill: The whole OSM thing has become such a downer, man. I wish I'd never even thought of it, or sold the idea to Roger L. Simon (that backstabber). And I didn't ask for enough. How was I supposed to know he'd raise that much money? I figured, sure, daily hooker-grams for a year was a fair trade. But it's the same tired old bitch every time, and I'm really getting bored. At least I've kept my name out of it and I'm not getting hammered all over the internet like Roger.

Fuck it. I'm shutting it down. It wasn't meant to be such a pain in the ass.

Update: The Hog on Ice noticed my grumbling earlier. I'm not delusionsal (just annoyed with all the "Inside Pajamas" going on). I know I'm the one who broached the subject here first, by, perhaps foolishly, wishing luck to the founders, so I shouldn't complain too much. I did so because I genuinely enjoy reading several of the people involved, particularly the ones who have made the cut to the exclusive FauxPolitik blogroll. It's stupid to think you know somebody because you read their blog a few times a week, but Stephen Green, Jeff Goldstein, Michael J. Totten, and John Cole all seem like fine fellows and better, or at least more prolific, writers than me and if they can make a buck through OSM, more so than with BlogAds, then great. Instapundit is one of the first two or three sites I hit in the morning, just to see if aliens have invaded or Bush has been assasinated. For getting up early and reading 1,000 blogs or whatever he does I wish him all the best. A Carnival of Glenn!

I don't think I've read Charles Johnson more than once or twice, I haven't read Roger Simon in over a year, that I remember, and I thought LaShawn Barber was a man until I read differently in one of Hog's posts today. Obviously these people do not link to me or this site in any way. As I said in a previous comment, I've got no dog in this fight.

Eno and Razor have both offered sharp criticism of OSM on this site, every bit and more deserved. But in the end, who cares. Eno said, "Sigh. I'm thinking about quitting blogging again. It's starting to take on a slightly foul vibe." It is, but but the beauty of the internet is that vibe is wiped out with a click of the mouse. We're not invested in their enterprise, literally or figuratively, and the good writers who are involved will still be good writers if it crumbles. In the meantime I'm trying to avoid, if not blogging, at least the circular firing squad that the blogosphere has become over this issue.

So I'm sorry I brought it up.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

For What it's Worth: He said/he said, I suppose, but some interesting reading regarding Pajama/OSM. I sure don't know which is true, but it all sounds pretty crappy any way you slice it.

Link via Althouse.

More: What I hate about blogs. Check out all the comments on Roger's post (linked above). It's all, "Oh, yeah, Roger. You da man! Good job cutting loose that whacko before he burned you. And OSM's critics are drowning in jealousy." Plus other examples of comment trash humping Roger's leg. "This is so high school," says Roger -- meaning the fracas from Dennis the Peasant -- but he could say the same about the starf*cker types in his comments.

Sigh. I'm thinking about quitting blogging again. It's starting to take on a slightly foul vibe.

More More: I guess I'm not quitting right away. Jarvis has more on how to fix OSM. They're good suggestions, though there's probably not enough goodwill floating around. Seems like the only folks saying nice stuff about OSM are on the board. Glenn Reynolds has posted some tepid and bland (surprise!) criticism, and he notes that David Corn has too. Wow, OSM is an equal opportunity load of nebulous crap!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Social Conservatism: George Will waxed splenetic (for him, anyway) on those who cannot distinguish "Intelligent Design" from science.
The storm-tossed and rudderless Republican Party should particularly ponder the vote last week in Dover, Pa., where all eight members of the school board seeking reelection were defeated. This expressed the community's wholesome exasperation with the board's campaign to insinuate religion, in the guise of "intelligent design" theory, into high school biology classes, beginning with a required proclamation that evolution "is not a fact."


But it is. And President Bush's straddle on that subject -- "both sides" should be taught -- although intended to be anodyne, probably was inflammatory, emboldening social conservatives. Dover's insurrection occurred as Kansas's Board of Education, which is controlled by the kind of conservatives who make conservatism repulsive to temperate people, voted 6 to 4 to redefine science. The board, opening the way for teaching the supernatural, deleted from the definition of science these words: "a search for natural explanations of observable phenomena."

I'm not here to shoot down the ID crowd. (In fact, I've tried to stay out of it even as people whose opinions I tend to respect get this horribly, horribly wrong.) But it's becoming clear that ID is, contrary to its claims, either a stalking horse for the religious right's big toe, which wants to get in the public school door, or at least fairly unresistant to being buggered into the same role. Creation science is obviously not science. Does the theory of evolution answer all our questions? Nope. But to say that it is "just a theory" is like saying the same of Newton's theory of gravitation. Newton didn't, after all, explain what gravity is, where it comes from, or at what level of matter it inheres. He just noted it as a property of bodies, and measured it pretty damn well. Now, Aristotle said that rocks fall to the ground because that's where they are meant to be, whereas birds fly up into the air because that is where they are meant to be. This, too, is a "theory" and, in the logical terms of ID, as equally valid as Newton's. But it's not the same thing. Darwin explained evolution more clearly than Newton explained gravitation -- yet, for the most part, nobody f*cks with Newton, perhaps because (with an exception or two) they end up on their asses. Those who dispute evolution do too, but less obviously.

More Pajamas: Roger Simon's feelings appear hurt.
Recently my OSM colleagues and I have been subjected to all kinds of criticism, much of it well intentioned and warranted. But a fair amount has been surprisingly personal, bordering on the abusive. (My wife and I were about to allow our precocious daughter to have an internet connection, but now we think we'll postpone it.) Some of this criticism came from people my colleagues and I thought were friends who did not even give us the common courtesy of querying us on why we did a certain thing. Besides being rude, that's not very good reporting from an MSM or blog perspective.
For a guy who is supposedly up to his neck in blog-world vision, he doesn't seem to realize that this is a rough-and-tumble place. We're not playing beanbag, here. Not all of Roger's comments over the years have been charitable, not to mention sourced. Even if they were, he can't have failed to notice that, while one billionth of the internet is about careful reporting and fact-checking, the rest of it is . . . well, okay, the rest of it's basically porn. But, in blogging, the rest of it's vitriol: fiskings, insults, and heavy doses of satire. (Let's hear it for vitriol and porn!) To suddenly complain that the blogosphere is not playing by Marquess of Queensbury rings a bit false. Look, the MSM is the civilized Continent. Everything there is fair and balanced (as long as you agree with their biases, in both directions). The blogosphere is the Wild West: Shoot first, update later. It's not fair. Never has been. But it is the antidote to the fair content we already get from the networks and the major city papers.

See, this is what I was saying. These "visionaries" in the end want to see the blogosphere become the MSM (or at least become like it). I say piffle: meet the new boss; same as the old boss. I want to see it shadow the MSM. I'm not advocating libel, as such (although sometimes some people need a good libeling); I'm just not in favor of trying to overlay some kind of structure on the lovely chaos that already works for me. Nor do a want a bunch of finger-waggers like Roger L. Simon saying "That's not cricket!" when the engine is turned on them.

Finally, blogging is a toy, a hobby; it's not really that important. Sure, maybe we can beat the MSM at their game now and again, or tomahawk some lying media weasel so badly that the MSM has to run the story of one of its own getting filleted online. But let's not kid ourselves here. There are some (obviously) who are taking this like religion. The rest of us are drunk, misanthropic cranks or jerk-offs with more bandwidth than expertise -- and we're proud of it, too.

Emperor's New Pajamas: The Pajama Crew is doing its best impression of the MSM (deny, spin, deny, obfuscate) over their new name, Open Source Media, which, it turns out, is already taken.
We’re seeing a lot of blog traffic about this, so we thought we’d clear some things up. On Wednesday a blog and news site launched under the name “Open Source Media.” As you might guess, this left us a little perplexed, so we sent them an email and posted this. By 5:00 Thursday afternoon we had not received a response to our email, so we printed a copy and Fedexed it. They did, however, post something to their own site under the title “About Our Name."


Then, Thursday evening as we were drafting this post, “About Our Name” became unavailable again on their website. [It's back up. --Eno] We aren’t sure how to interpret that, so we’ll just go ahead and address the one response they did briefly make public.

Hmmmm. Sounds like something CBS would pull, doesn't it? Read the whole thing, as the pajama crowd would say. I got this link from Steve H., who -- along with Moxie and Jeff Jarvis -- is all over this circus.

Again, I've got nothing against this venture, misguided as I think it is, and I like many of the bloggers involved. I just . . . ah, f*ck it. Read Jeff's post instead.

Yet Open Source Media, the whatever-it-is, promises this — with more haughtiness than I’d ever heard from Dan Rather — on its prevaricating post about the name:

The goal of our enterprise is to bring gravitas and legitimacy to the blogosphere…

Oh, gag me with a mitre.


I don’t think that blogs need to have legitimacy laid upon them … and who died and made you the legitimizer?


And gravitas? Good God, big, old media has an oversupply of that. That’s what got them in such trouble. And that’s what we’re running away from.


Previously, I was merely amused and confused by whatever-we-should-call whatever-it-is. Now I’m cringing as I await the sound of trains crashing.

Isn't there someone, anyone, over at Pajama . . . er, Open Source . . . er, OSM . . . who can step forward and offer some transparency, honesty, and accountability on this? Dead silence instead.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A coup in his d'etat: Over on protein wisdom, Jeff post this article from the Guardian re: Iran's president Ahmadinejad.
Iran is facing political paralysis as its newly elected president purges
government institutions, bringing accusations that he is undertaking a coup
d’état.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s clearout of his opponents began last month but
is more sweeping than previously understood and has reached almost every branch
of government, the Guardian has learned. Dozens of deputy ministers have been
sacked this month in several government departments, as well the heads of the
state insurance and privatisation organisations. Last week, seven state bank
presidents were dismissed in what an Iranian source described as “a coup d’état”
The guy is getting bolder and crazier and, hopefully, more people there will get fed up with him and bring his career to a sudden end. This line, though, is what I really found odd.
Mr Ahmadinejad drew international condemnation after he made comments about
wiping Israel off the map.

If that's true, it was the quietest condemnation in history. I couldn't get away from coverage when Pat Robertson said we should bump off Hugo Chavez (or now, as he stumps for creationism). Bush's motives for liberating a people from a first rate dictator are questioned in the harshest terms with no proof of bad faith. But I didn't hear word one, offline anyway, about the president of a huge country in a critical region unequivocally express his desire to eliminate a country. And I don't count this, since Annan clearly found the whole thing rather unimportant and even found room in the statement to remind Israel of its "obligations."

I'm sure his statements need to be understood in context, though.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thought Crime: I think this has come up before; I'm too lazy to surf the archives to find out. Holocaust denying "historian" David Irving, famous for a failed libel case a few years back, has been arrested in Austria.
Irving was detained on a warrant issued in 1989 under Austrian laws that make Holocaust denial a crime, Golia said. The accusation stemmed from speeches Irving delivered that year in Vienna and in the southern town of Leoben.
I'm not going to rant about this, since the self-evidence of the foolishness, whatever your views on the Holocaust, is towering. I'll just smirk a bit. See that smirk, Austria? It's because of how dumb you'll look throwing this moron in the clink for 20 years. Go ahead. Maybe you'd like to throw me in jail for saying that Heinz Fischer looks like the product of a quick, sleazy tryst between Imelda Marcos and Kim Jong-il. Idiots.

A double screed: Two for one today at the occasionally updated Lileks Screedblog. On the French:
After weeks of national unrest, Jacques Chirac finally got tough on the
car-broilers: he proposed job training for 50,000 of the unemployed malcontents.
That’ll teach ‘em. Of course, job training is one thing; actual jobs are
another. Given the French economic performance – regularly described as anemic,
which might be apt if the body had any blood left - the chance of 50,000 jobs
materializing for the rioters is rather slim. But you can see the point. “My
father in Algiers,” the rioter may think, “he was unable to find work as a taxi
driver. But here in France, I am unable to find work as a medical technician. I
dream that my children will grow up unable to find work as doctors.”

Perhaps a new UN JobCore program is needed. Or they can all go to work at McDonalds. When it opens a franchise in Fallujah.

And, not really on, but related to, the mixed feelings here vis a vis the Pajamas media revolution:

In any case, newspapers are dead, the experts assure us. Pity, but these things
happen. Media rise and fall. People move on. Why, once upon a time, millions of
Americans got their news and opinions by listening to the AM band of the radio.
AM radio! Really.Who could imagine such a thing today?

Yes media culture is changing in many ways. But I'd lay every dime I've got (looks like about $3.60 in change in the desktop beerstein that is my retirement account) that the New York Times will exist ten years from now, with some changes large and small. Odds on Pajamas Media lasting a decade as a going concern? Less certain.

I guess I'm less turned off by the PJM venture than either of you, but I'm less concerned with what it does to blog culture than with seeing whether they've figured out a viable business model based on a new trend. Eno's criticism is salient on that point. What are they really offering? Not too terribly much right now, since aggregating content on the internet hasn't exactly been the road to value many hoped. Just ask Time Warner.

Eh, we'll see.

This sounds about right: I'm so confused by the whole Valerie Plame, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Judith Miller kerfuffle that this headline didn't seem particularly surprising to me at first.

Book review: I was in the mood for a quick, fun read, something I haven't had in a while (well, except, of course, for this gem). I picked up Michael Crichton's latest bestseller, State of Fear, in the grocery store, and went to town.

In case you don't remember, State of Fear is Crichton's challenge of the conventional wisdom on the subject of global warming. The main character is a lawyer who works for an environmentally hip philanthropist as well as the organization that receives much of his money. The preposterously naive young attorney believes everything he's heard from the environmental doom and gloomers he's surrounded by, even drives a Prius, though you can tell he likes the status of it, living in Beverly Hills, as much as the mpg rating.

Radical eco-terrorists rapidly enter the story and it becomes clear that they're planning a series of cataclysmic events to really drive it home to the public that global warming is a real and imminent threat (ah, yes, that famously skeptical public just doesn't seem to get it). Crichton's hero emerges, Kenner, part MIT geek, part Bruce Willis and drags the lucky lawyer around the globe with him, investigating the weather manipulating terrorists and foiling their plots one at a time.

Between adventures, Kenner educates Peter, the naif, about the truth behind global warming theories and the environmental left. It's pretty dense material, and Crichton doesn't make it easier on the reader by including lots of graphs and footnoting everything. You can tell he's done his homework, and even includes a nearly 40 page bibliography so you can check his facts. He's clearly bracing himself for a backlash against his challenge to the poliitco-scientific network that he attacks.

There's certainly plenty to debate and Crichton does a service I think by lending his name to the unpopular side of a cause. Unfortunately, he lent one stinker of a book to the cause. It's a series of speeches, cut with some badly thought out sort-of-hair-raising adventures, that are so obvious you see the resolution coming before he's even come close to getting you worked up with fear. Character development is pretty much ignored, except to say that every one is a left wing idiot, except for Kenner, and he slowly tries to bring them all around, with mixed results. Of course, they're all from California, so he's probably not very far off, but it makes for bad writing when you set up one straw man after another and pummel it with The Truth. And footnotes.

The only good thing I can really say about the story is that he probably pissed off the right people to avoid having it made into a movie. I'd take another Jurassic Park over this thing any day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Exclusive Pajama Party: This concept was inevitable. A while, while back, I threw out a meme regarding how only those blogs which bloggers agree are blogworthy get support on the 'net. It tends to skew to the Right (with a Libertarian bent), and that's fine, but you tend to see more of the same being put out there. The difference was that it was all de-centralized and in the end, these are all just little and not-so-little vanity pieces anyway.

Now, the PJM outfit is going to just centralize that group-think. Looking for like-minded fellows and gals to support and then, on the other hand, that golden "fisking" opportunity where they can pile on and smile smugly, patting one another on the back, noting how yet another threat to liberty has been tamped back into place.

I mean, it has to have an editorial spin, whether acknowledged or not, and that makes it part of the Establishment. Again, fine. It's a free world and all, but I hope they're not supposing that they're going to be part of a 5th Estate in starting this venture.

In some ways, Rathergate was the worst thing that could have happened to blogs. The annual success (the end) is propped up to justify the thousands if not millions of posts generated (the means), most of which offer no more than anything written here -- self-centered ramblings done to amuse oneself or perhaps a small group of friends. In the worst scenarios, it's a huge ego-stroke bent on generating as many comments as possible, whether fawning or insulting, to provide further impetus to keep writing (My public needs me! or Now, I'll really show those bastards!).

Well, no fear here! No one reads us and we don't get any comments!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pajama Whatever, I Don't Get It: No offense intended to any of the bloggers who joined up. I love Totten, Roger Simon, Tim Blair, and many of the others. The PJM network has talent in spades. On the other hand, did you read the PJM quasi-mission statement?
After spending several months developing a model to support a dramatic new publishing medium, they announced in the summer of 2005 that their venture was a go. Their plan will provide an online place where readers and thoughtful bloggers can come together to be informed, to explore issues of the day, and to have fun.
What the f*ck does that mean? "Dramatic new publishing medium"? It's been around for a long time now, folks. "Provide an online place where readers," etc. Yes, yes, it's the internet! So what the hell will they really do? I mean really really. Is it about revenue? Is it about getting paid for content? I suspect that's part of it. Are the critics of the MSM trying to reorganize to be more like the MSM? I get a strong "ain't broke, don't fix" sense about blogs. Sure, the blog world is big, messy, and disorganized. The cream rises to the top of a whole lotta milk anyway, and that's how it should be. The desire to organize it in some way is understandable, but to what end? And what effect could it possible have?

Who knows? Maybe when they unveil their "plan" ("Ginger," anyone?) I'll "get" it. But aside from turning into an MSM-style organization, what can they do? It seems like a big, squishy "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" thing that has a nice utopian sound to it, but is essentially an exercise in pointlessness. I'm a pajama skeptic.

More: From the NRO piece you linked:

Pajamas Media will not restrict their links to participating blogs, however. Their editors will scour the Internet for anyone with an intriguing spin or fresh facts on a story or event, regardless of their ideology or affiliation.
Sure. Rather than, say, linking to a site that's giving them a piece of the blog-ad action. There are a million bloggers out there scouring for fresh takes or interesting spin. Who needs PJM to distill it for you? (Uh, the kind of people that click on blog-ads?) Look, I don't mean to trash what they're doing. Best of luck, and all that. But it smells like bullshit to this nose.

More: Some other skeptics.

Launchapalooza: Andrew Leigh at NRO covers the upcoming launch of the Pajamas Media venture. Stephen Green is currently winging his way to the coast for the event. Good for them.

I've been reluctant in the past to "blog about blogging." It can be just so much navel-gazing sometimes. I was a late comer to the phenomenon anyway, and I'm not a media professional or a professional writer of any kind (or a lawyer, soldier...er, what do you do, Flyer? Shut Up!). But it seems to me that some big changes are coming to the blogosphere, PM being just the start. Even Andrew has decided to replace the Tip Jar with something a little more steady. His reasons for doing so make perfect sense, and I expect some others will follow suit, though probably not many. For every Sullivan or Kaus, there are many blogs that won't show up on the radar screen of the MSM, or are run by someone who prefers to remain independent.

Best of luck to all, whatever direction they choose.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Torture: John Cole talks about torture today, specifically Israeli success going the other, being nice to detainess rathe than torturing them. Seems to work pretty well, John sums up this way:
As I said before, you don’t even have to care that torture runs counter to
international law and degrades any country that uses it. It also simply doesn’t
work. When it mostly yields useless information and has the pleasant side-effect
of hardening civilians against us to the point of creating warm and cozy local
environment for insurgents, it’s hard to imagine a good argument in
favor.
Pretty much the only way left to defend this administration’s bizarre
record on torture is to claim that they don’t do it. Good luck with that.

Quite some time ago I linked to this article in The Atlantic on torture and interrogation. It looks pretty deep into the success and failure of torture, of various degrees, and draws some pretty interesting, if not nice, conclusions. It's only available to subscribers, so here's the bit I excerpted then:
The Bush Administration has adopted exactly the right posture on the matter.
Candor and consistency are not always public virtues. Torture is a crime against
humanity, but coercion is an issue that is rightly handled with a wink, or even
a touch of hypocrisy; it should be banned but also quietly practiced. Those who
protest coercive methods will exaggerate their horrors, which is good: it
generates a useful climate of fear. It is wise of the President to reiterate
U.S. support for international agreements banning torture, and it is wise for
American interrogators to employ whatever coercive methods work. It is also
smart not to discuss the matter with anyone.

I don't know if my agreement with that has changed over the last two years or not. I believe there are circumstances, when time is not on the interviewers side for instance, when the rules should be more lax than others. Outright torture? Why not? Iif Mohammed knows the secret code to defuse the bomb that goes off in ten minutes, and I know he's prepared to die without giving up the goods, I'll employ petty much whatever tactics I can think of to make him spill it. Psychological, physical, sexual whatever. Strip him naked and put him in a room with a horny Roseanne and a rabid pit bull if it will work. Does this bring us down to their level, do the terrorists win? Maybe, but it won't be much of a victory party.

I don't doubt that under less extreme circumstances better results can be gotten by more subtle means, including gaining the detainee's trust, making friends, showing him not all Jews, or whatever, are evil, etc. All good ideas and we should explore how to use those methods ahead of time so we're not faced with the cliched and sensationalized, but still worthy of consideration, example I give above. Better intelligence ahead of time, yada yada.

Most of the time circumstances won't be either desparate and extreme or "no big rush." In those cases, I think Bowden's distinction between torture and coercion is important and the drawing of that line is open to debate, and there are important reasons to not err too far to either side. But simply seeing a little more of one side or the other doesn't make soemone evil or naive.

Big Evil Oil Companies: Those evil profits wind up in some interesting pockets. Like California public employees. According to Rich Galen, Calpers,

according to its latest annual report, owns about 28 million shares of
ExxonMobile; about 9 million shares (after a stock split) of Chevron; and some
5.6 million shares (also after a split) of ConocoPhillips.


The value of Calpers' holdings in those three companies has increased - since they closed the books at the end of their last fiscal year - by one billion dollars.


Meanwhile Barbara Boxer leads the charge in calling for an "investigation" into oil company profits. There's more disingenuous hostility towards oil companies than anyone can keep track of, but that just stands out as really top shelf hypocrisy.

Via Common Sense and Wonder.

The Big Lie: In that PW post I linked yesterday, Jeff said, regarding anti-war propagandists:
For several years, these people have been testing the water, trying to gauge the size of the lies they can get away with. Unsurprisingly, they’ve come to realize that, if they all simply insist on the “truthfulness” of a given lie of their own creation and marketing, that little piece of the greater war narrative will, with the help of a compliant media, slowly ossify into “fact” . . . If the Wilson and Clarke scandals taught the left anything, it is that there are no real consequences—at least to their side—for making bad-faithed charge after bad-faithed charge.
He went on to cite disingenuous U.S.-used-chemical-weapons-in-Iraq stories to underline his point. Now Jeff has cited another example of even more blatant lies and manipulation, in which the video/audio of a U.S. helicopter attack in Fallujah was edited to make it appear to be a massacre of civilians (when in fact the whole thing shows that U.S. soldiers were painstaking in their application of rules of engagement). You have to read it to believe it.

I hate to do this, because everyone will pull Godwin's law on me, but I've got to quote Mein Kampf here, because it really does apply. (I'm talking strictly about propaganda, here, not Nazis.)

. . . in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.
Once you've looked for yourself, come back and tell me how it's not the Big Lie.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Of Dreams: First of all Eno, your use of yourself and the internet in your little entry below clearly betrays your anti-postmodern bias. Kipling would have substituted you with a poor Indian low-caste beggar, and the internet, with a roving band of thuggees, some stolen tea, and the English colonial administrative system.

Nonetheless, you need help. I thought maybe of suggesting a tin foil beanie (or Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie, as its known in certain circles), but apparently, the science shows that these things amplify, rather than block or re-direct, the government brain waves that are quite obviously being beamed into your noggin.

Failing that, I can only suggest frontal lobotomy. Let's face it: long overdue.

Re: "Old Europe has met its tipping point.": Steven Den Beste, blogging again at Red State, takes Razor's suggestion to the next level. What really could happen as a result of violence in the "Euro street."
France is the world's number 1 tourist destination. In 2003, 75 million
tourists
visited France and stayed at least one night. The tourism industry
represents fully 8.5% of the
GDP
of France. If the rioting goes on for much longer, or spreads further,
or turns bloody, will it scare away the tourists?

The French economy is
already royally screwed up. Taxes are too high, regulation is stifling, and as a
result job creation and growth are nearly nonexistent. The government guarantees
lavish benefits to the unemployed through its social safety net. If 1% or more
of the GDP of France goes away due to a decline of tourism, it means that
government tax receipts will fall, while government outlays will rise.
What
was that about the "stability pact"? Something about a limit on budget deficits?
Forget about it; France will have to borrow, and borrow a lot.
At which point
we get into an area I know nothing about: central bank policy and currency
values. What I'm wondering is what effect this could have on the €uro, and
therefore indirectly on economies of all the other nations which dumped their
own currencies and switched to it.


Read it all.

Nice to see SDB blogging semi-regularly again. A valuable voice.

Thanks to the Instapundit for the heads up.

Medic, medic!: We regret to inform our public that the beloved Enobarbus will be unavailable for blogging for the foreseeable future. He's spending some time at a, uh, resort. In Bellville. Talking to some very nice men in very clean, white coats.

We'll tell him you said hi.

I stepped into, I stepped into . . . Into another world, apparently. Before going to bed, I wanted to link to this post (which deserves some wide reading despite what follows here; click the links therein, particularly to John Cole; note, too, how the falsehood spreads). But the house was a shambles (we got some new windows yesterday, more today) and my dogs were barking, so I had a wee dram and hit the sack instead. End of story? No way.

I had this dream. In this dream, the internet was not a virtual/cyber/whateverness but an actual physical construct. In order to link to Jeff's post, Razor, Flyer, and I had to personally visit Jeff's site, which was being hosted in a small lakeside town in New Jersey (I know the one. --ed) in the house of a very weathy (and frequently very drunk) funeral-home heiress who insisted on being chauffeured about in a hearse by her Mexican gardener -- who was also her lover. After some wanderings through the house, we met up with Jeff and established the link. After we'd paid him (that bitch!) he offered to drive us back home. He had a sports car with five front seats, arranged in a semicircle, and it was rather fast. And he's a terrible driver.

Your guess is as good as mine. For what it's worth, I read most of chapter 3 of A House for Mr. Biswas before kipping last night, so aside from the odd car thing, Sir Vidiadhar may be mostly to blame here.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Hey Big Spender: I'm sure the Admin will say the numbers are distorted, but according to this source, Bush, in his last 4 years in office, has borrowed more money from banks and foreign governments than the previous 42 presidents combined:
According to the Treasury Department, from 1776-2000, the first 224 years of U.S. history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions, but in the past four years alone, the Bush administration borrowed $1.05 trillion.


Even accounting for inflation, this seems nearly impossible, given that in that span of 42 presidents, there were two world wars, two little disputes over in Indo-china, a temporary invasion of Iraq...oh and the "rescue of med students" in Panama.

Now, to be "fair and balanced" (for once, okay...the first time), our debt level is not really any worse than it has been in modern history. In fact, we're still doing better than most civilized countries, and certainly better than just about any other country of our size and sophistication (of which there are, ummmm, none).

Nonetheless, and despite Greenspan's acknowledged obsession with same, inflation creeped up above 3% recently, which likely has something to do with energy prices, but gives one reason for pause -- actually, based on some respected forecasts, perhaps full blown worry should enter into the equation: 4.5% inflation for all of 2006 (!) (?)

Last, at least we're not France. I was somewhat surprised to find that France's unemployment rate has been hovering at, above or near 10% for the past 20 years! More surprising is that it took this long for the riots to begin. There is simply NO simple way out of that quagmire. I think Old Europe has met its tipping point.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Ultimate Sweeps Week Story? Carolina Panthers cheerleaders having lesbian sex in a bar in Florida.
Two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders were charged after their arrest at a bar where witnesses told police the women had sex in a restroom.


Renee Thomas, 20, of Pittsboro, N.C., and Angela Keathley, 26, of Belmont, N.C., were taken to Hillsborough County Jail early Sunday.


Witnesses said the women were having sex in a stall with each other, angering patrons waiting in line to get into the restroom at the club in the Channelside district.

I'll just sit and watch the site meter spin now.

T.O. We Hardly Knew Ye: And what we did know, we pretty much hated, except for those beautiful catches that turned into touchdowns, but the rest, yeah, you're a crazed narcissist who needs lithium. Good riddance.

So, if memory serves me, we all lose on the bet of whether T.O. would make it through the season -- I certainly did in any event.

Some might say this would serve as a rallying cry for the Iggles. I am not one of those people.

Michael J. Totten on Paris: Is it an insult to call Paris the Beiruit of Europe? Read MJT's take.

The Lebanese people threw off the yoke of Syrian occupation, oppression, and de facto annexation while committing no violence. The Western model of civil disobedience and protest worked beautifully and, more important, it worked rapidly.

The disgruntled of Paris, on the other hand, are inviting a brutal crackdown from a state infinitely less oppressive that the Syrian Baath regime. While some parts of the Middle East import liberal “Western” political ideas into their culture, some parts of Europe import pathologies from the illiberal places in the Middle East and North Africa. Ah, the ironies of globalization.

Nice.


Riot: I'm fascinated by the happenings in France (and elsewhere in Europe), watching it grow from just a headache to the French to a pan-European iconic moment-in-the-making. Could be that we'll see these images years from now and say, yes, that's where it all started. (But it didn't, of course. It started years and years ago, when France began an immigration policy that brought in "colonials" to work the shit jobs.)

Anyhow, it was frightening to see the figures this morning: 1400 cars burned overnight, and 10 gendarmes injured exchanging gunfire with the disaffected.

It was the first time police had been injured by weapons' fire and there were signs that rioters were deliberately seeking out clashes with police, officials said.


Among the injured police, 10 were hurt by youths firing fine-grain birdshot in a late-night clash in the southern Paris suburb of Grigny, national police spokesman Patrick Hamon said. Two were hospitalized, but their lives were not considered in danger. One was wounded in the neck, the other in the legs.

Tim Blair notes the spread of violence and continues to wonder what these rioters have against cars. Perhaps they all just recently read this book.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Headline: Summit Protests Turn Violent in Argentina

Let's just have a looksee, shall we?

MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina - More than 1,000 demonstrators angry about President Bush's policies clashed with police, shattered storefronts and torched businesses Friday, marring the inauguration of the Summit of the Americas as leaders began debating creation of one of the world's largest free trade zones.
Hmmm. Now which of Bush's policies do you think is directly responsible for inciting these folks to violence and destruction? Can't be blamed on the rioters, after all.
The chaos reflected the often violent, worldwide debate on free trade as the United States and Mexico pushed to relaunch talks on creating a free trade area stretching from Canada to Chile. Past summits on free trade — including last year's summit of Asian-Pacific leaders in Chile — have drawn bitter opposition and similar angry protests.
Ah, yes, free trade. Well, we all know how free trade ranks right up there on the list of injustices with . . . well, it's right up there with . . . er, using the salad fork on the fish course? It's certainly the turd in the pool of bloated, corrupt semi-dictatorships.
"Only united can we defeat imperialism and bring our people a better life," [Venezuelan prez Hugo Chavez] said, adding: "Here, in Mar del Plata, FTAA will be buried!"
Chavez and his ilk [from the article: "Speaking before a six-story banner of revolutionary Che Guevara, Chavez urged the throng . . . to help him fight free trade] have been promising a "better life" for South America for a long time. Usually it's only these "presidents" who end up with the better life.
Argentine President Nestor Kirchner was critical of the United States during the summit, saying Latin America will no longer tolerate American meddling.
On the other hand,
Mexican President Vicente Fox said the FTAA proposal would move forward anyway because 29 of the 34 nations taking part in the summit were considering cobbling together their own FTAA — without opponents Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.
29 out of 34, eh? Sounds to me like most of Latin America is sick of living under half-baked revolutionaries and luxury-yacht socialists, and is ready to take the economy out for a spin on a full tank of capitalism -- to the point where their willing to tell the five largest economies on the continent (ahem, those who have the most to gain from keep Latin American trade "unfree") to pound sand. Honestly, no matter what you think of George W. Bush, would you rather trade with America, or with Chavez's Venezuela or Lula's Brazil? Thought so.
Chavez and protesters argue that free trade is being forced on Latin American countries.
Much like Pam Anderson being "forced" on your average 14-year-old boy.
He has instead pushed for an anti-FTAA deal based on socialist ideals. He has used Venezuela's oil wealth to push for regional solidarity, offering fuel with preferential financing to various Caribbean and Latin American countries.
Oh? Who's the economic imperialist now, dickhead? "Hey, Haiti and Bolivia, we'll give you a cut rate on your go-go juice and a free Brazilian wax if you help us ensure that there will be absolutely no push for us to release our hold on Latin American trade or reform our corrupt and stagnant economies anytime soon."
Venezuela is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and is the world's fifth largest oil exporter as well as a major supplier to the U.S. market.
Which means that they have seen how cool being a part of a price-fixing cartel can be. Imagine trying to sell the Mafia on free trade. Getting the picture?
Chavez also regularly claims the United States is trying to overthrow his government, something the U.S. denies.
Ho hum. You rush to recognize one little junta and everyone jumps to conclusions.
Some 40 percent of Argentina's 36 million people remain in poverty, and many blame trade liberalization for destroying local industries and causing a flood of cheap imports.
Any economist (even a bullshit Keynesian one who writes opinion for the Times) can tell you that this means you're trying to stay competitive in industries that have passed you by. The solution? Well, I suppose you can spend yet another generation stagnating your economy through protectionism in order to avoid the growing pains of the world economy (which is not going away, no matter how long Hugo Chavez holds his breath); viz the proverbial buggy-whip makers of the early 20th century, asking the world to "hold on a sec" for you is a fool's game. Or you can lower your trade barriers, take the short term hit, and let the market tell your entrepreneurs (if you have any left) where you still can be competitive. The second option is not quite so attractive when you're the guy living high on the hog amidst poverty.

More: Daniel from the excellent Venezuela News and Views blog says that turnout for a protest rally in Venezuela in support of Chavez's "confrontation of Bush" was pretty poor.

Yesterday I watched VTV for a few minutes (something I do no more than once a month). Well, they were calling for a support march for Chavez as he woudl be attacking Bush. It was a bust, El Universal reporting around 2000 people at Plaza Morelos and a friend of mine mailing me that even VTV did a very discreet coverage of the event, a sure sign that even their expert cameras could not create the illusion of enthusiastic crowds.

More France: Mark Steyn, speaking on the Hugh Hewitt show, is not optimistic about the rioters, the French government's response, and the citizens' likely response to a feckless government response.
Well, I think this is the dispute that's going on between Monsieur Sarkozy, whose [sic] the, what passes, I think, for a conservative figure in French politics, who really wants to crack down, and who wants to say to these people you can behave like respectable French citizens, or we're going to take action and we're going to clean up these street. And then Monsieur de Villepin, whose [sic] currently the prime minister, whose line is basically that we should accommodate their grievances, and all the rest of it. And judging from Chirac's speech, where he says we have to understand their grievances and their alienation, I think the European tendency to appease these people is coming into play in the French cabinet. And I would say the one consequence of that is that a lot more people are going to be voting for fringe parties in the next election. We forget. The last presidential election, 20% of the French electorate voted for the fascist candidate.
He goes on to imply, quite strongly, that Europe is the canary we should be watching in this particular mine.
I'm sometimes accused of being terribly pessimistic when I speak in North America. And I always tell Americans and Canadians . . . there may be a lot of bad news in the world, but the one advantage North Americans have, is that Europe is ahead of you in the line.
I think he's right on both points. Read the rest.

Kong: I took Stephen's advice and went and watched the new King Kong trailer.

Having seen both the original and then the very uneven re-make (with Bridges and Lange), this re-re-make may be the best of them all. Kong, for me, has always been the saddest of stories, which is why, perhaps it is so compelling. He's not some mindless alien, dinosaur or serial killer wearing a mask; he's just a giant version of a gorilla -- our first cousin, biologically speaking -- one that has real emotions to convey, if only we would listen. And who isn't a sucker for a blonde in a white dress?

This version, smartly, takes it back to the 30s, before satellites, GPS and stealth bombers. Let's face it, if somehow there was an unchartered island with a giant ape (and dinosaurs) running loose, together with aboriginal tribespeople, it would be bought by Disney and you'd have a Kong mug on your desk before you knew it.

More to the point, if the movie was set in "modern day," Kong would last about 6 seconds before he had about 10 hellfire missles exploding him into so many fur coats. So, kudos to Jackson for putting the story where it belongs, temporally.

Watching the trailer, it was the first time that I was able to watch CGI and forget I was watching a bunch of polygons being framed at a staggering rate. My mind was telling me that Peter Jackson must have found real giant apes and dinosaurs somewhere and got them to work for scale (and not this kind -- har har). In any event, if Jackson pulls this one off, he deserves every award they have to give. The man is simply not afraid to re-imagine the icon.

I'll see it for sure, but I reserve the right to cry.

Pile On: Not content to let Scooter Libby face the same justice as any other American, the New Yorker dredges up and ridicules his novel, The Apprentice. Typical of the most provincial urban weekly in existence, it is content to leave unbroken its long, long run of never questioning the Liberal Northeastern conventional wisdom. The issue here is that Scooter's book, like most novels of any serious length, deals with some sex. (And since it takes place in Japan, the sex is bound to feature some typically Japanese eccentricities.) Now, naturally the New Yorker believes that everyone to the right of Sam Nunn is either a sexless, joyless puritan, or a repressed homosexual, pedophile, rapist, or cross-dresser. Naturally. "Libby has a lot to live up to as a conservative author of erotic fiction," begins the writer, Lauren Collins, who goes on the quote racy bits from the novels of other known crypto-fascists like the Williams Buckley et Safire. But I don't think any of them wrote erotic fiction. I think they just wrote fiction. Are the sex scenes in any of them a little, er, purple? That I leave up to you, dear reader. Click over to Ms. Collins's piece and judge.

Even worse, though, Collins calls in "Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction" to judge the quality (and, apparently, perversity) of literary conservative coitus. Sladek calls Libby's sex scenes "a bit depraved" and "boring," before going on to say "God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans." Odder than, say, a liberal novelist like John Irving or Norman Mailer? Riiiiiiight. And obviously Sladek has been told that the writer is a Republican, as is obvious from her own words. Wouldn't it be more interesting, though, to hear her unbiased thoughts? Since, you know, conservatives are all guilt-ridden bizzare sex fiends in denial.

Then there's the snickering at the book's

antique locutions—"The girl who wore the cloak of yellow fur"; "one wore backward a European hat"—that make the phrase a "former Hill staffer," by comparison, seem straightforward.
I have no idea how bad Libby's book really is. From the passages quoted, it sounds like your basic over-researched historical potboiler, though the writing is at least not as bad as some of Mailer's crap. As for the difficulty of the locutions, look at any fawned-over novel written within the last 10 years, and you'll find shit so impenetrable, they have to award it some kind of prize.

The occasional usefulness of a serious, non-political New Yorker piece is no longer worth the slog through the magazine's turgid political self-satisfaction. Cancel my subscription.

Re: Sarkozy: It's already starting. From ABC News:

Police have made 143 arrests during the unrest, Interior Ministry Nicolas Sarkozy said.

Residents and opposition politicians have accused Sarkozy of fanning tensions with his tough police tactics and talk including calling troublemakers "scum."

"Sarkozy's language has added oil to the fire. He should really weigh his words," said Kaci, whose daughter lost her gym. "I'm proud to live in France, but this France disappoints me."

Tough police tactics, like arresting criminals.

The report did not address why the youths ran when officers came to the neighborhood, but it said Benna was known to police for having committed robbery with violence and Bouna was among those who had intruded onto the building site.

Oh well. If they can Sarkozy for insensitivity, maybe we have our new FEMA director.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sarkozy Time: Apropos of the European condition:
Nicolas Sarkozy became France’s most popular politician by promising to restore law and order in the whole of France, including in the areas abandoned by previous governments. Since Sarkozy became Interior Minister he has insisted on more police presence in Muslim neighbourhoods.
It will be intersting to see if Chirac sacks him. Seems to me that, in this scenario, we can think of the no-go areas as the Middle East, and Sarkozy is just being a confrontational Bush-like cowboy, upsetting all the "stability" achieved through generations of willful blindness. Or something.

Link via Meryl.

God help us: Roethlisberger's out for one, possibly two weeks. We now enter the Charlie Batch era.

This is pretty addictive: Shoot, shoot, shoot the zombies! The game is inspired by a HP Lovecraft short story.

My record: Level 16; 202 dead...er undead.

There are a couple nifty tricks that help you kill more efficiently, but since I had to figure them out on my own, so will you.

Good reading: The Vodkapundit, needing to stretch his legs a little, I suppose, take Richard Cohen out for a good fisking. Nicely done, Stephen.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Unpatriotic, I Know . . . but I can't seem to muster a whole lot of schadenfreude for the French this week. Islam and immigration are the hot peppers within this social stew, but don't forget that the economy there is always in the toilet these days, despite the fact that France gets a grossly disproportionate share of EU subsidies. Even the right wing is socialist in France.

Still, it's just hard not to feel bad for Monsieur et Madamoiselle Bourgeois, trying to make a mortgage payment (and perhaps keep a little apartment for Monsieur's mistress) while the citizenry demands economic improvement (plus relief from the wretchedness of the 35-hour workweek) and the immigrant population, legal and otherwise, suggests that the republic could stand a bit of sharia. It's almost enough to make McDonalds, Hollywood, and le hip-hop seem like boons to French society.

Something Fishy: The Globe goes back to a 1971 undergrad paper to praise Alito for backing "privacy and gay rights."

Meanwhile, George Will efficiently debunks the claim that you can't fill a moderate seat with anything but a moderate, saying that "the history of presidential practice -- Democrats should especially study FDR's sweeping alteration of the court's composition -- refutes the rule." He also mentions that Ginsburg herself replaced the conservative "Whizzer" White (so called for the rumor that, in his lower court days, he kept a Sprite bottle under his robe to relieve his bladder during long voir dire).

Finally, I think Chuck Schumer just said Alito might as well be Mussolini's little brother.

Another thing: Who thought up the Democrats' little trick of pre-emptively branding everything "controversial"? Schumer called Alito "controversial" twice (once directly and once implicitly). I don't know of any controversy, other than the fact that the man has a penis and likely sits to the right of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, do you?

I'm shocked: Shocked to learn there's shooting in this town.

I don't know if any of these stars have explicitly argued for gun control type legislation, but it sure seems clear they don't want to own up to their own gun-totin' ways.

PISTOL-packing Joe Mantegna is blasting a chink in the politically correct armor
of some Hollywood heavyweights - he says they love to own and shoot guns. The
"Joan of Arcadia" star says that such left-leaning showbiz types as Steven
Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio and playwright David Mamet are all avid shooters.
"Lots of guys in Hollywood love to shoot," Mantegna, a longtime gun sportsman,
tells Fade In magazine. "But they ain't gonna talk to you."

I especially liked this line, from Richard Donner:
"I am anything but a gun enthusiast," he said in a terse statement. "The only
reason I would ever own a gun is for the protection of my home, my environment
or my family under the circumstances in which I am forced to live."
I presume that goes for the rest of the public, too. Unless the circumstances you live in out in Hollywood are that much more dangerous than the rest of the country.

Via Annika, who throws down the gauntlet to one major celeb:

i bet i could totally outshoot Ben Afflack, that pansy.

I wonder: I wonder if plastic surgeons get a lot of cards from their female patients saying: "Thanks for the mammaries."

I roll with 50: Rapper 50 Cent has slapped down Kanye West (about 6 weeks late, but better late than never) for his "Bush doesn't care baout black people comment" post Katrina.

He says, "The New Orleans disaster was meant to happen. It was an act of God.

"I think people responded to it the best way they can.

"What KANYE WEST was saying, I don't know where that came from."

In honor, I will make Wanksta my ringtone fo the day, as a tribute to "Fitty."

Via the Corner

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Well, my toes curled that's for sure!: Eno, you may want to check out the one way tickets from Logan to our neighbor to the north. It seems that, despite your best efforts, curling hasn't been receiving its due -- even in Canada. Only one solution to that dilemma: nudity! I'll cover for you with Mrs. Enobarbus -- make up some story of fly fishing or whatnot.