Sunday, June 20, 2004

Hanging Up My Spikes

Time to call it a day. I'm not going to post to my blog any longer. It's been cutting into my time too much. I have plenty of books that have been getting short shrift because I'm blogging and being on the internet in general. So, since one only has 24 hours in a day (and I can't cut my sleep back any further and maintain my health) I've decided that the blog has got to go. It's been fun, and the wrench is small since it's not like I'm abandoning a large readership. It's been a fun 18 months. Thank you, and good-night!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Online Comic Goodness

Found a cool online comic via Steve. Indirectly, that is. Steve had an online comic linked at his site, and I checked that out, and they had another site linked. And this is it. Essentially it's about online gamers and other nerd stuff and it's actually quite funny. It's about what one might find on the Simpsons (none of that rampant profanity and four letter words) in terms of vulgarity. I haven't checked the whole site out, so I don't know what one might find, but I've read a couple years worth of the strips and I think they're pretty good. It's a very solid comic, good characters and it's well drawn. If you dig that stuff, check it out. Or, odds are, if you dig that stuff, you found it way before I did.

Addendum:

I think it's much better than User Friendly, which I was reading for a while too.

M's Win, Yankees Lose.

God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world. I'm paraphrasing, of course.

But still, it is nice. The M's pulled out a win to keep Milwaukee from the sweep and the D'backs gave it to the Yanks properly. May it ever continue.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

There Must Be A Matrix Joke Here Somewhere

I'm probably weeks late to the party on this, but I just ran across a fascinating article on the politics and economics of online worlds such as Ultima Online and Everquest. It's about an economist named Edward Castronova who had an epiphany while playing Everquest. He realised that "EverQuest had its own economy, a bustling trade in virtual goods." Not only that,
EverQuest players would sometimes tire of the game, and decide to sell off their characters or virtual possessions at an on-line auction site such as eBay. When Castronova checked the auction sites, he saw that a Belt of the Great Turtle or a Robe of Primordial Waters might fetch forty dollars; powerful characters would go for several hundred or more. And sometimes people would sell off 500,000-fold bags of platinum pieces for as much as $1,000.
So he did some math. Astonishingly, "It was the seventy-seventh richest country in the world. And it didn't even exist." So he wrote a paper about it.

You really ought to read the entire article, it's full of lots of other fun facts about the online worlds, including the dirt on the SimsOnline brothel chain (no joke), as well as some of the political and social problems inside the games as well as legal issues that may end up extending out of the games if one of the major online worlds were to be closed down because the game company goes out of business.

Expanding Your Vocabulary One Word At A Time

Ran across an interesting word in my reading yesterday: furphy. Here's the OED definition for it along with the first quotation supplied.
A false report or rumour; an absurd story.

1916 Anzac Bk. 56/1 These furphies are the very devil. Ibid., Furphy was the name of the contractor which was written large upon the rubbish carts that he supplied to the Melbourne camps. The name was transferred to a certain class of news item, very common since the war, which flourished greatly upon all the beaches.

Since the word seems to be ANZAC in origin, it makes sense that I found it in a book by an Australian.

Artful Dodger

Found an article about a New York art dealer that seems to have been suckering people for quite a while with a pretty clever scheme. He's been arrested by the FBI, which has been investigating him for years, impeded by the fact that since the paintings have moved around the world in both Europe and Asia as well as in the US, the case has been difficult to put together. Here's the short version of what he does.

He buys a valuable painting, but one that isn't really high class. Not worth millions, but a few hundred thousand. Has it copied and then sells the copy with the certificate of authenticity from the original and then the original without the certificate of authenticity. Since the original is the real McCoy, no big deal. And though it's a risk to sell both original and copy, since he's sold both paintings, by the time the fraud is discovered, both paintings have usually changed hands a couple times. There are some other details that helped his scheme to run smoothly, but suffice it to say that he was a very clever guy.

William Manchester, RIP

I learned from the most recent National Review (On Dead Tree), that William Manchester died on the 1st of June. I was sad to hear this, not because of any personal connection with the man, but because he had not yet completed the third and (I presume) final installment of his biography of Churchill, The Last Lion. Initially, my expectation was that it was not ever to be completed and that I would miss out on reading his insights into Churchill's experience during World War II. But it seems I wasn't quite right.

An article in Opinion Journal informs me that another writer has been engaged to finish the work that Manchester started. It notes that Manchester had about 230 pages finished at the time of his death (presuming the book to be about the same length as the previous two, that's about 1/4 of it finished) and that it will be carried on by Paul Reid, "a features reporter for the Palm Beach Post" who knew Manchester.

The article also has some interesting info about other writers whose work has been "finished" after they have died.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Sports Roundup

Haven't blogged much sports stuff lately; I've been occupied with other things and haven't watched any television in weeks. A quick re-cap of what's been going on is probably in order.

Tampa Bay Lightning win Stanley Cup. (yawn) Tough to get excited about a hockey team from Florida. Sure, great offence, talented players, but really. Tell me it wouldn't have been better for Calgary to have won? Sadly, the Red Wings (my favourite team) got knocked out a couple rounds earlier.

Detroit Pistons upset the Lakers to win the NBA championship. (Query: Does the NBA championship have a name like others: Stanley Cup, Lombardi Trophy, etc? After a quick Google search, it seems not.) I'm surprised, but pleased that the Lakers lost. As a good Seattle sports fan, I loathe all LA teams and wish them nothing but losses and ignominious defeat. I'm not particularly happy that Detroit won (since every team I predicted even a modicum of success for failed), but it's still better than the Lakers.

And finally, the Mariner's are choking like dogs. Haven't even made it to the All-Star break and they're 12 games back in their division and 11 and a half out of what would be the Wild Card spot. I had been thinking that it was the M's pitching that was lacking (and granted, it's not very good), but to this point in the season, only the Expos have scored fewer runs, have fewer RBIs and a lower SLG% (total bases per at bat) and only the Padres have fewer HRs.

The only upside for this year in baseball for me so far is how well my favourite pitcher (Randy Johnson) is doing of late. He's on a 5 game win streak, tied for most wins in MLB leads MLB in strike-outs, opponent BA, fewest WHIP (Walks+Hits/Inning Pitched) and has an ERA of 2.77.

Losers

I was listening to the radio as I was getting ready for work, and during a commercial there was an ad for Comcast. Specifically, they were touting their "On Demand" feature, which lets you watch movies whenever you want, or something. I don't care, and it's not too important exactly how it works. What struck me was the way that they sold it on their ad. They said "Sometimes life gets between you and your TV..." And I thought, "What?" If your problem is that your life is interfering with your television watching, you need a serious readjustment of your priorities. Get your lazy butt off your couch and go outside. Or read a book. Heck, read a book outside. I'm not anti-TV, I watch sports and movies and junk, but if you're to the point where you're lamenting that interactions with other people are keeping you from your set, then you need an intervention and a 12 step program, neighbor.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Errors, Lies And Laboured Phrases

I suppose I'm not the only one this happens to, but I don't recall ever hearing anyone else speak of it. (Though, I don't know that I have before this, so that doesn't signify.) Every once in a while when I'm reading a book, I come across something so obviously erroneous that it displays either a tremendous lack of ability and attention by the author or an outright lie. Or perhaps the writing is so bad, yet so obviously what the author intended, one wonders why his editor or publisher was not able to restrain him. I'll give two examples.

1. I was starting to read Edmund Morris' account of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency, Theodore Rex, and I ran across a sentence that essentially said (I don't have the book with me) that Teddy had read 20,000 books by the time he became president. I first thought, "That's a lot." Then I thought, "No, that's a lot." I've been trying to keep track of all the books I've read, and I've even noted down as many books as I can remember (with certainty) that I've read in the past. I've been able to read since I was 3, but though I haven't been including things like The Pokey Little Puppy, I have included such things as The Hardy Boys, Dr Seuss and collections of comic strips (Dilbert, Foxtrot, Calvin and Hobbes). My list still isn't over a 1,000 books. We're talking about 20 years of reading by a fairly avid reader and I haven't even reached 5% of Teddy's total in half the time? So, crunching the numbers, here's what I came up with. Assuming that Teddy learned to read at 3, he assumed the presidency at 43, so he had been reading for 40 years. 40 years is about 14,600 days. 20,000 divided by 14,600 is about 1.37. So Teddy had to have averaged about 1 and a third books a day, every day for 40 years. And that's without re-reading any of them. Somewhere in there too, he found time to run a ranch in the Dakota Territory for two years, fight in the Spanish-American war and be elected to and serve as Governor of New York. When examined, the claim that he read that many books is ludicrous. I put the book down and haven't bothered with it since.

2. On the first page of Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Identity, there is the following sentence.
"The waves rose to goliathan heights, crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage; the white sprays caught in the night sky cascaded downward over the deck under the force of the night wind."
A man who tortures prose in this way should be horse-whipped on the steps of his club for such cruelty. "Crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage." That's an ill phrase, a vile phrase; "crashing into the hull with the power of raw tonnage" is a vile phrase. Tonnage? How much? How is tonnage raw? Tonnage has power? Weight is power? Perhaps some potential energy or what-have-you, but this is not a physics textbook! I am embarrassed to report that I did press on and finish the book, but the ending was so bad that I regretted it even more.

Does this happen to anyone else? Do you ever run across one line that causes you, not to put the book down, but to hurl it from you with great force?

Books

Finished a couple books over the weekend. (In between playing basketball and X-Box.) One was Icons of Evolution, which wasn't bad. It wasn't a take-down of Darwinian evolution, but then it didn't intend or pretend to be. Rather, it was simply a critical look at some of the most well-known examples that are given as evidence for evolution. It makes the excellent point that though these examples have been known to be incorrect or at the least inconclusive for quite a number of years, they continue to be placed into textbooks and taught to students. Some are still thought to be accurate by virtually everyone outside of very specific fields of biology. An interesting read, however, the book's format and layout left much to be desired. Illustrations and their captions were handled in a most clumsy and confusing way. Several times I had to flip back and forth across pages to figure out which text was to accompany the illustration and which was the actual narrative of the book. On the whole, worth reading if one is interested specific points in the debate over evolution, but not if one is looking for broad handling of the debate as a whole.

I finished today (in a single day!) Post Captain, the second of the Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O'Brian. Depending on how one likes one's books, it was either superior to the first or somewhat lacking. It was less of an action-adventure tale and more of a "proper novel" with character development and the examination of relationships and what-not. I tend to the second camp. It was, however, still a superb book and I am quite looking forward to the next in the series. Since I placed it on hold at the library well before I actually got and read this book, I hope I shan't have to wait as long in between installments this time. O! to have the money to just buy all the books one wants to read!

Friday, June 11, 2004

My Heart Will Go On

Ah, yes. Titanic. The three hour epic piece of trash that numbed the mind as well as the posterior. Now you can enjoy the tale in a mere 30 seconds. And, as an added bonus, it's re-enacted by bunnies! What more could you ask for?

Not be missed are The Shining and The Exorcist re-enacted by these same bunnies; both movies are also performed in a mere 30 seconds.

Useless, But Neat!

Pi to 1 million places.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Weird (does not equal) Art

I noticed an article in the Sunday Seattle Times (in the section with the crossword, which is what I was really interested in) about this author, Shelley Jackson, that fancies herself an artist. What she's done is write a short story, 2,095 words to be exact, and she's asked for volunteers to each have one word of the story tattooed on their bodies. She has some requirements about how it's to be done, restrictions on location, font, etc. And no one gets to choose their word, you have to take what you're assigned. And the biggest gimmick of all? This is how she's "publishing" it. And only the people who volunteer will get to know the entire story.

Frankly, this might be intriguing if one could be sure that the story would be any good. If it was something classic and enduring. But it might end up being some trite, hackneyed piece of trash that one has irretrievably committed oneself to being a part of. No thanks. And just because she was creative with her "publisher", doesn't make this endeavour any more "artistic" or have any impact on the quality of her writing. It may be great, it may be awful, but it has nothing to do with the tattoos.

(note: I had to edit the title of this post because Blogger apparently couldn't handle the "does not equal" sign.)

I. Am. Batman!

My, my, my. It just keeps getting better. All kinds of cool stuff coming out this summer. Batman: The Animated Series, the ultra-cool cartoon that was on Fox a few years back is finally coming to DVD properly. It'll be out 06 July according to Amazon. This show was one of the best animated series ever on television. I'd have to say that I like this even more than the Simpsons. I'm sure every fan of the Dark Knight already is well aware of this series, but if you're not a big comics fan and haven't ever seen this, you owe it to yourself to check this out. Hopefully you can find this as a rental or possibly be able to get it from your library if you don't want to drop the cash on something you're unsure about. If you go the library route, be prepared to wait, since this will be requested by a lot of people.

Also, though I hadn't mentioned it here on the blog, Fantagraphics is releasing a book series that will (eventually) encompass the entire collection Peanuts comic strips. Over 50 years worth of strips. I'm planning on picking these up too, but I'm going to do it by boxed sets, I think. So I'm waiting for the first one to come out. (This fall sometime, I believe.) Also of note, if you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can pick up the collection of Charles Schulz's pre-Peanuts cartoons. From what I can tell, this book will pretty much only be available through Fantagraphics' website.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo

Do you listen to classical music? Most people don't that much. What about listening to it on the radio? It's getting harder and harder to do since there the number of classical stations is diminishing. Especially where it used to reign as king: public radio.

Which is sad, I think. Classical music is the best music. Many people don't appreciate it because they can't fathom anything more complex than Britney Spears' digitized, breathy wailings. But a lot of people that would, I think, enjoy it very much have never been given the opportunity to discover its joys. Classical music is qualitatively better than pop music, rock, etc because of the higher levels of complexity and, quite simply, the greater beauty that it has.

One of the reasons that people don't have the opportunity to be exposed to and enjoy classical music is the way that classical music has all but died on public radio. An excellent article by Andrew Ferguson of The Weekly Standard gives the low-down. The culprits? Money and talk-radio.
"Public service became a euphemism for ratings," Goldfarb [a former public radio consultant who is now program director at KING, a commercial classical station in Seattle] says. In one recent presentation to program directors, for example, Giovannoni [a radio consultant who brought the techniques of modern research to public radio] congratulated those who had contributed to the growth in public radio's nationwide ratings. "Five years ago, you generated 57 percent of all public service; today you generate 68 percent." Indeed, in many of Giovannoni's public radio reports, the words ratings, listenership, and public service are used interchangeably.
....
For many individual stations, the commercial track they stepped onto in the 1980s and 1990s has become a treadmill: to draw listeners, they have had to pay expensive fees to NPR for its news programming--fees often topping $1 million a year. These high costs accelerate and, in turn, require ever more listeners to cover them.

It seems obvious to me that it isn't necessary nor was it intended that NPR move into competition for ratings and money with for-profit stations. A wonderful part of being non-profit is that one only has to worry about breaking even and feeding a niche market. NPR has moved away from that, and now there's little that differentiates them from any other radio station. They have to be underwritten by so many "underwriters" (not advertisers) that the mentions these "underwriters" get are almost as frequent and annoying as commercials on any other radio station. Which is why it would be such a laugh if NPR did get cut loose from the federal government (not that it will ever happen). They wouldn't sink without subsidies, their "underwriters" would just now be called their advertisers and business would proceed as usual. Though maybe we wouldn't have to put up with the sermonising people like Bob Edwards do about how NPR is this great moral force because it's "public radio".

Harry Potter-ing

Haven't seen the new Harry Potter movie. Hadn't planned to. I yawned my way through the first and skipped the second. I haven't bothered with the books (and have no plans to do so). But now that I've read this review of The Prisoner of Azkaban by Jonathan Last of the The Weekly Standard, I may have to check it out. He doesn't rave about it, but he does praise it with faint damns (I've always liked that phrase) such that I'm interested. I'll probably just stick with renting it, or waiting to borrow a DVD from a friend. Last also has an interesting theory about how Warner Brothers has planned for the whole series and why they change directors.
By slowly trading up in directorial talent, Warner Bros. is ensuring that each movie is better than the last, thus hedging against any letdown. By book seven, we could have Michael Mann directing. It's good business sense--and certainly smarter than trying for perfection from the first frame. If the first Harry Potter movie had been a classic, the series might have collapsed under its own weight.
I'm still not going to read the books. A man has to have some principles, after all.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

A Memorial, But For Whom?

An article in the most recent Policy Review discusses the winning plan for what is to replace the World Trade Center buildings on the site known now as Ground Zero. I'm not terribly interested in this, really, since New York is a place I've never visited and have no plans to visit and it seems a bit silly to invest time and effort to form a reasoned opinion on something that won't affect me, nor does it interest me.

But this article makes it quite clear that not only is the design a travesty, but the architect himself is, well, a fruitcake.

The whole thing seems to have been a farce. The selection process,
Yet, belying repeated assurances about the "open" and "democratic" character of the process of deliberations on the future of Ground Zero, New York Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg chose to ignore the LMDC [Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the body specifically created to oversee the reconstruction of downtown Manhattan in the aftermath of 9-11] recommendation and go with the Libeskind design anyway.
the design
...the famous "Wedge of Light" where, Libeskind has promised, "Each year on September 11th between the hours of 8:46 am, when the first airplane hit, and 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed, the sun will shine without shadow." Architect Eli Attia has long since demonstrated that the "Wedge" was a hoax and that, supposing the sun shines at all between the appointed times, the area demarcated in Libeskind's original model will be increasingly covered in shadow.
and the man himself. Here he is talking about a previous design for the Jewish History Museum in Berlin.
Calling the project "Between the Lines," as if it were an independent artwork requiring a title, Libeskind claimed to have sensed in the area of the Berlin building site "an invisible matrix . . . of relationships, which I discovered not only among German and Jewish figures, but also between the municipal history of Berlin and the history of Jews in Germany and in Berlin. I recognized that certain people, in particular certain scientists, composers, artists, and poets, were the links between Jewish tradition and German culture. I found these connections and I plotted an irrational matrix in the form of a system of right-angled triangles, which would yield reference to the emblematics of a compressed and distorted star: the yellow star that was so frequently worn on this very site."

And the final conclusion of the article is that
the basic conception of Libeskind's World Trade Center "master plan" addresses a similar message to New Yorkers and Americans, implying that they were themselves responsible for the fate that befell them on September 11, 2001 and that they must atone for the wrongs which elicited the catastrophe. It is a tribute to America's enemies and an insult to the memory of those who were killed in the attacks.

I'm not a New Yorker, and I don't really have much invested in this, but c'mon guys. Surely you can do better than this?

Raised By A Cup Of Coffee!

The second set of Homestar Runner figurines is now available. Smaller than the last set, but (appropriately) only half the price. Gonna hafta snag those right away. What with the Simpsons DVDs and the Usagi book, June is turning out to be quite the month for sweet merchandise.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Theoretical Secession

Steve asks what would happen if some states seceded from the US in this day and age. After some thought, this is what I've come up with.

I don't think any military action would be taken against the seceding states to "return them to the fold", as it were. I quite agree that the rest of the nation does not have the will to forcefully stop them. But the flip side of that is: no state or group of states have it in their collective will to secede in the first place.

Things have changed quite dramatically since the days of the Civil War. For all the pride and sense of citizenship that one derives from one's state, I think that allegiance to the Union as a whole has increased so much since the Civil War that it would be difficult to muster the sentiment to persuade a significant majority in a state or states to actually go through with secession. Many things have contributed to this, and it isn't necessary to go into them here in any depth, but among them are increased federal and decreased state power, the vastly increased abilities of transportation and communication, phenomenally increased interstate trade and the reorganisation of the military.

But, granting that it does happen, what would be the response? I think the most likely result would be similar in a lot of ways to the split of Czechoslovakia when communism ended. There would be hardships, some legal issues and a period of transition certainly, but I don't think there would be any bloodshed. Certainly none on a large scale.

A state like California that seceded would certainly be able to make a successful go of being an independent nation. Their economy is large enough, they would be able to adequately provide for their defence (though they would rely heavily for some things, like nuclear deterrence, on the US), they have a range of native industries that could be sustained and developed, a large coastline and varying natural and agricultural resources. As long as California didn't get too socialist, they would probably be fine as an independent nation.

Nebraska would almost certainly have a lot more problems. They would be, not only landlocked, but completely encircled by the US. This could lead to difficulties in trade, though their defense budget would probably only need to provide for police. More importantly for Nebraska, their lack of native industries besides agriculture would hurt them if they had to play by themselves on the world stage.

A side note for Greg's comment: California would actually make a net gain in terms of revenue by seceding. California is in the bottom ten in terms of money received from the federal government per dollar paid in federal taxes. Info is here. This might be offset by other things (tariffs, local tax hikes, etc.), but California would be a net gainer just looking at federal taxes and federal spending.

National Review

Some good stuff in the most recent print issue of National Review (available online only via subscription here).

There's a good article (by and large) by Roger Scruton on the need to maintain the idea of perversion as a check on our society and the way in which individuals seek to satisfy their desires. Interestingly, he comes out against those who would call homosexuality a perversion, but also against "homosexual marriage". A brief slice of his reasoning
It is perhaps a useful step towards the resolution of a socially divisive issue, if we can use the concept of perversion not just to criticize gay sex, but also to accept it. That said, however, it is clear that more is at stake in the question of gay marriage than this one, of accepting the existence of innocent homosexual desire. Marriage has been treated, in our society, as a sacrament, whereby two people consecrate their lives not just to each other but to the family that will spring from them. In no sense is marriage, so conceived, merely the rubber-stamping of a sexual contract.
I generally agreed, but my Christian and intellectual convictions can't conscience the idea that homosexuality is not a perversion. It, quite clearly, is.

Another article worth reading is one by Andrew McCarthy on the Patriot Act. It's a bit long and ranges too wide to quote effectively in brief here, but suffice to say it goes over some of the provisions objected to by critics and methodically demolishes the cases against them. Unless you're already outraged by the ability of the government to wire-tap and execute search warrants in simple criminal cases, you'll find that you don't have a problem with what the Patriot Act allows. In some cases, the Patriot Act hasn't even made counter-terrorism investigations the equal of simple criminal investigations, much less surpassed them and entered the realm of tyranny and police-state methods.

Plenty of other good stuff, besides. Good articles and the always interesting book reviews.

Remembrances

Yesterday was, of course, June 6th, 2004. Which made it the 60th anniversary of Operation Overlord, whose successful completion marked the downfall of the Nazi Third Reich. It is a day that is well worth remembering and noting every year it passes, regardless of whether it happens to be a "milestone" year like the 40th, 50th or 60th anniversary. Long may we remember the sacrifices made to free the world from a great threat.

Similarly, June 6th was a day spent remembering Ronald Reagan, a great president that pushed the Soviet Union, an "evil empire" (a phrase that Reagan used of the USSR and made famous, or infamous depending on your political persuasion) to its destruction. Reagan died on June 5th after struggling for years with Alzheimer's and the general decline that comes with advancing age. While I don't venerate him as highly as some, I do think that he was certainly our greatest president of the last 50 years and quite possibly the greatest of the 20th century. (I'm not a big fan of FDR.)

I wasn't able to write any of this in the past couple days, which is a mortal blogging sin, since speed is a virtue venerated above all else in the blogosphere, but better late than never, neh?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Books

Read a couple more Discworld books this past few days. I couldn't wait for Small Gods to arrive from on hold with the library (only one copy of the book in the whole system). So I went ahead and read Lords and Ladies and Men at Arms. Both of these are not quite so frivolous as some of the earlier books. Didn't laugh quite so much, but they were still good books.

Searches: Literary And Otherwise

Placed a couple of searches just below my links over on the left. I have the customary (and practically obligatory) Google search, both for the Internet As A Whole and for my humble blog. But I've also got a search for Bartleby, which I've found to be a very useful site. It's more of a literary search. They have some useful reference materials and things as well as a pretty good collection of books and poetry through which one can search/browse. Give it a spin.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Contrarian Idiocy

Jonah Goldberg (quite rightly) slams William Safire for calling for the abolition of the penny just to be "contrarian". I agree, anyone who thinks it's cool to advocate something just because it's unpopular is acting like a six-year old. And like a six-year old who's being persistently obstinate, he's begging to get smacked upside the head.

Hyphenate This!

Fredrica Matthewes-Green writes on the folly of hypenating your last name when you get married. I couldn't agree more. I've always thought that if one was that insecure about losing one's identity when getting married, then one had much bigger problems to deal with than a last name.

Tolerating The Intolerant

More good stuff from the most recent New Criterion. An interesting article on what "fundamentalism" really is and means.

Tolerating the tolerant presents no problems. What do we do, however, when confronted with the intolerant? Should we tolerate the people whom liberals denounce as racists, sexists, homophobes, indeed even “judgmentalists”? In actual fact, liberals are highly intolerant of such people. They ostracize them socially, treat them intellectually with contempt, and invoke the law on them whenever possible. In these ways they force upon us the paradox that the norm of tolerance can lead directly to intolerance.

Equating Actions, Disparate Outrage

An excellent summary of the abuse of the Abu Ghraib scandal by the world media in The New Criterion this month.

Yes, what happened at Abu Ghraib was deplorable. U.S. officials, beginning with the President, have publicly apologized. Even as we write, the perpetrators are being court-martialed. The army has instituted new safeguards to make sure that there is no repetition of the abuse. And what about the chaps who incinerated those four contractors in Fallujah? Or the people responsible for hacking off Nick Berg’s head on videotape? Or the men who murdered Fabrizio Quattrocchi in April? Film of that episode was “too graphic” even for al-Jazeera to air. But who has time for those details when the effort to impugn America is going strong?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

My Nephew


My nephew. Posted by Hello

Finally got a picture of my new nephew up on my blog. The picture is a bit out of date, I suppose. He's only a day or three old in this photo and this was about a month and a half ago. It's difficult to see how big his mouth really is here, but trust me, he can pretty much shove his whole fist in there. If he doesn't grow out of that, I'ma hafta nickname that boy "Jaws".