Saturday, August 24, 2002

FUTURE WHOPPER OF THE WEEK from the Bush administration.
I KNOW EVERYONE IS WONDERING: what would Jackie Mason do about our foreign policy? (via Johnson)
ON BATCHELOR AND ALEXANDER'S radio show tonight, John Batchelor is testing out his latest pop-cultural allegory to the position the U.S. finds itself in. He compares us to Gary Cooper in 1952's High Noon -- the tale of a U.S. Marshal who just wants to run the deadly enemy out of his Old West town so he can settle down and retire, but when he finds none of the other good people of the town willing to help him fight, he has no choice but to defeat the bad guys all by his lonesome.

Drawing out the metaphor a bit, Batchelor pointed to the photo ops this week showing Bush in shirtsleeves with a besuited Rumsfeld beside a dirt road in the Texas flatlands. It's a declaration by Bush to the world that they're damn right he's a cowboy, and like the town in High Noon, a cowboy's just what they need right now -- so says Batchelor, at any rate.

(It's surely correct to note that the Europeans have drastically misjudged Americans if they really think "cowboy" is an all-purpose insult to us the way it is over there; it's used in England, for instance, to refer to dishonest laborers and such. Which raises the question, why exactly did they make all those spaghetti westerns in Italy if Europe hates cowboys so much?)

Batchelor, who's broadcasting from Maine this week, also reported on the local issue of thousands of Somalian war refugees who are about to be settled in the Augusta and Waterville area. The news stories up there are all about the tolerance and diversity, as has been the case in the successful examples of resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees elsewhere in the U.S., for example. The drawback in this case, though, is that we already know how al Qaeda -- which has a strong presence in Africa -- uses mosques and refugee agencies to its own purposes, to find recruits and fund operations. Speaking from my personal perspective, I'd say it's a goddamned shame that the way this terrorist organization operates is forcing us to be concerned and hesitant about what should be straightforward actions of altruism on our part. Just another example of al Qaeda's perversion of our goodwill, and a demonstration of just what insidious evil this organization is capable of even in its day-to-day operations.
I GOT A COMPLAINT from Kevin Vukson that my retelling of an anecdote from the New York Times reflected a condensation of a forty-minute interview. I offered to print any additional facts, but didn't receive any, so I'm not sure what the nature of the objection was; I couldn't find anything in the forums one way or the other on the subject. But it's a useful reminder that if you see something zany in the paper, it may well reflect the spin of the reporter, rather than the reality of the situation.

Speaking of the Times, they issued a correction to the much-blogged story about Cobb County's approach to evolution.
An article yesterday about a debate in Cobb County, Ga., on the
teaching of evolution referred incompletely to action by the school board
on Thursday. The board tentatively approved a requirement for teachers
to give equal weight to evolution and biblical interpretations about the
origin of life. But the policy will not take effect until the board
votes again on Monday; final adoption did not occur on Thursday.
This, however, I am told, is still wrong. Here's the Atlanta newspaper's take:
The seven-member school board voted unanimously to spend 30 days
reviewing a proposed policy that states the district believes "discussion of
disputed views of academic subjects is a necessary element of providing
a balanced education." Johnston said he did not know how the policy
would change current classroom practices and he wasn't sure whether the
new language allows creationism to be discussed. The next 30 days will be
used to study precisely those matters, he said. The board is expected
to vote on the policy at its meeting Sept. 26.
Compare and contrast this parody of NY Times corrections.
ANOTHER Smarter Harper's Index, this one with some nice details about Trent Lott that Harper's left out for purposes of innuendo.
IT DIDN'T GET A LOT OF BLOGOSPHERE attention since it was pre-Bashman and pre-Volokh, but Konop v. Hawaiian Airlines was another wacky Ninth Circuit case, this one holding that an employer who read an employee's web page violated the wiretap laws. Friday, the Ninth Circuit corrected that opinion over Judge Reinhardt's dissent.
THE FARKERS ARE GOING MAD dreaming up captions for this photo of the Olsen twins confronting the long arm of the law. I was going to submit something like "Mary-Kate and Ashley research their starring roles in the upcoming Barbara and Jenna Bush TV movie", but that wouldn't really fit the general thread of the submissions so far...
BT GROUP'S CLAIM to have a patent on hyperlinking has been laughed out of court -- no surprise there. Meanwhile, I think I've found the first Israeli civilian technological advancement in a long while that the blogosphere won't be pleased about.
THE DIPLOMATIC SECURITY SERVICE of the U.S. State Department will be taking over Hamid Karzai's security detail for the next year while they train Afghan personnel to look after Karzai's wellbeing. This'll probably inspire more than a few people to insist that the U.S. is just protecting the puppet government it installed, but then they're the same people who would otherwise be griping that the U.S. isn't taking responsibility for a country whose government it overthrew. I suppose there is the danger that the U.S. could find itself again in the position of trying to protect the life of an imposed leader that everyone in the country wants out (see also Iran, pre-1979), but we haven't reached that point yet, and if we do I'm pretty sure it would be decried by the same blogospherians currently up in arms about U.S. support for the House of Saud.

Meanwhile, let's hope for Karzai's sake that the Diplomatic Security Service doesn't live down to the reputation the State Department in general has among blog pundits.
TONY WOODLIEF'S MOVING STORY is a moving story: his tale of packing up a house full of memories in preparation for the move here to D.C. -- and all the tangents it sent him off upon -- had me teary-eyed and weepy like a Little Combustible Girl or something.
I'D HAVE TO SAY THAT nowadays the only place you pretty much can't avoid using "whom" is as the object of a preceding preposition -- few would be willing to say "to who" or "about who" rather than "to whom" or "about whom" even today. Here's a good post on the subject from alt.usage.english, drawing heavily on Merriam-Webster's usage notes.

Friday, August 23, 2002

CAPTAIN SPAULDING criticizes the part of the announcement where I say "who Captain Spaulding dubbed The Blazing Blogger." Spaulding thinks I should've used "whom." That's just piffle and tosh. Steven Pinker agrees:
In reply, one might point out that the who/whom distinction is a relic of the English case system, abandoned by nouns centuries ago and found today only among pronouns in distinctions like he/him. Even among pronouns, the old distinction between subject ye and object you has vanished, leaving you to play both roles and ye as sounding completely archaic. Whom has outlived ye, but is clearly moribund, and it already sounds pretentious in most spoken contexts. No one demands of Bush that he say Whom do ye trust?. If the language can bear the loss of ye, using you for both subjects and objects, why insist on clinging to whom, when everyone uses who for both subjects and objects?
As a December 1983 article in Atlantic Monthly noted,
These are word-lovers who live to catch out the mighty in a misused whom; though their zeal is commendable, their authority is suspect.
There was a similar controversy at Indiana University where the forces of modernity won against the fuddy-duddies.
TODAY'S INNUMERACY is in the Washington Post.
Between 1977 and 1980, the U.S. highway death rate was 3.3 million fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel.
Wow! Good thing I wasn't making my six-mile commute 25 years ago, or I'd be dying twice a week. The number is off by about six orders of magnitude.
IN DEFENSE OF Rush Limbaugh. Well, not a big defense. I don't listen to the man's show at all. But if you've ever listened to talk radio or sportstalk radio, you know that the most tiresome aspect of it is the time wasted at the beginning of each phone call when the yahoos, thrilled to be on the radio, genuflect at length about how much they enjoy listening to the show and what an honor it is to be talking to the host, etc., etc. Much like the joke about the prisoners who number their oft-repeated jokes to save time, Limbaugh came up with the idea of a signifying device "Ditto" to stand in for the fulsome praise. For that innovation alone, Limbaugh deserves his millions, regardless of how oversimplified his politics are.

I don't know much about the fax marketing lawsuit, but Mark Eckenwiler has a nifty piece about the use of the junk fax laws against e-mail spammers, which references a Ninth Circuit case, Destination Ventures, Ltd. v. FCC, 46 F.3d 54 (9th Cir. 1995), that rejected the First Amendment argument.

Anyway, Judge Limbaugh is a federal district court judge. That a state court circuit judge disagreed with him isn't of much relevance. The real question is whether the Eighth Circuit upholds Limbaugh's ruling, though even that wouldn't necessarily preclude suit outside of the Midwestern states where the Eighth Circuit holds sway.
Sure it's bad, but it is as bad as the 9/11 attacks? brings us the breaking news that a group of individuals and community groups is suing fax marketer for $2.2 trillion in damages. But the more shocking statistic. claims to send 3 million faxes a day. And look what former avatar of the idiotarians on the right pops up in this story. (Quote courtesy of plaintiff and "Internet entrepreneur" Steve Kirsch) has tried to hide behind a recent ruling in a lower court in Missouri by Rush Limbaugh's uncle that the federal junk fax law is unconstitutional, but Limbaugh's ruling was found to be faulty by a Missouri Circuit Court judge just one month later.
If only a brilliant lawyer could lend some insight into that mini-briefing. Max?
The graphically-retro, editorially-right New York Sun has a hard-hitting, Friday-in-the-summer piece about the newest way for singles to meet each other in New York.
Thousands of New Yorkers are now forwarding an anonymous e-mail to each other informing them that from now on, every first subway car has been declared “the singles car.”
Instead of snarkily suggesting that Max use the awesome power of the Washington Times to create the same network economies in D.C., I'll instead merely lament the passing of the old-fashioned way to meet people.
THE WASHINGTON POST'S MOLLY MOORE reports from Jerusalem on the anxiety many Israelis face as the U.S. steps closer to attacking Iraq, which seems likely to retailiate by attacking Israel just as it did in the Gulf War. Not only has the Israeli government decided to inoculate some 15,000 emergency and health workers against smallpox -- while acknowledging that some small proportion of those inoculated might suffer severe side effects, perhaps even death -- but many Israelis are also making certain they are supplied with gas-mask kits, which soon will include iodine pills as well. And there are still plenty of voices worried that the Israeli government is not going far enough, with the Health Ministry's top epidemiological adviser having resigned after the Ministry rejected his task force's recommendation that the entire Israeli population be inoculated against smallpox.

Now, I don't believe the WaPo reporter wrote this piece with the intent of convincing the U.S. not to attack, nor convincing Israel not to fight back against Iraq as Ariel Sharon has pledged to do, although the news may be received that way by some on both the pro-war and anti-war side. (And I can imagine one of the B1FF Bin Ladens over there at ClearGuidance gloating that "da c0l0nialist kaffirs in Israel R runnin sc4r3d, d00dz, & soon da P4l3st1n1ns will tak3 da h0meland b4ck!" or some such.) In addition, I certainly don't think that civilian anxiety should be a definitive argument against war, particularly since I'm persuaded that Israeli civilians will have a lot more to worry about if Saddam remains in power much longer. But that doesn't mean civilian morale shouldn't be a concern, particularly in light of this news from the WaPo piece:
Of the 74 Israelis who died during the [Gulf War] missile attacks, only two were killed by Scuds. Four suffocated from improper use of their gas masks, and 68 died from heart failure or heart attacks attributed to war-related stress, according to the National Insurance Institute.
Maybe a few of those deaths have been misattributed, but at any rate it demonstrates that civilian morale isn't just an academic question, and the stress of feeling potentially in danger of attack at any moment can be pretty overwhelming, as even I have recounted on my old blog from the position of someone living right next to Washington D.C. (I don't think I have as much to fear as an Israeli does, but heck, if Saddam does manage to get a nuke together, and someone does manage to set it off, say, in front of the White House, things could get pretty hairy for me at my apartment 6.2 miles away in downtown Bethesda.) And of course the threat of stress-related physical problems is only one of the reasons that morale needs to be an ongoing concern when there's a war to be fought.

Civilian morale is one of the reasons that the U.S. government's Keystone Kops-like approach to Homeland Security is such a problem even though a lot of us figure private citizens will make sure that terrorists aren't going to get very far on an airliner anymore. It's also why it's a shame that the West doesn't seem to have anyone right now that can offer up the sort of oratory that got us through World War II. Heck, even if Bush didn't have sensitivity-trained squishiness holding him back, Lord knows he's no Churchill anyway. And it's not purely for dryly rational reasons that the blogosphere cheers when Rumsfeld takes the lectern.

However, one has to wonder just how much morale would be raised even if we had some great orator to hold the torch in front of us, even if we had soul-stirring posters and billboards (that of course would gingerly step around some of the obvious problems with 1940s propaganda), has the West made itself too cynical for our morale to be kept up? Even if we had some wonderfully efficient Homeland Security agencies that did everything in the best and most reassuring way, would we stay reassured or would be still be looking for things to point at and mock? That's the question I can't answer -- whether sophisticated Western culture has made itself resistant to high morale altogether.
IS IT JUST ME, or does today's New York Times (D.C.-area print edition) seem to be poking fun at its own front-page picture of three Afghan policemen performing a traditional dance outside the newly reopened National Police Academy? The AP's own cutline for the photo sure didn't include that little "Celebrate! Celebrate!" part, which people unfavorably disposed toward the NYT might find a little patronizing. (Also, the NYT cropped out the guy on the far right, so the only police dancers you see are the three guys on the left there; while the guy on the far left and the guy with the gold braids on his shoulder seem to be on more or less the same dance step, what's up with the upward-pointing guy in between them?)

Meanwhile, the main feature in the NYT's Weekend section has got quite the Upper West Side insularity vibe going on, with a writer who grew up in the West 60s reporting the shocking news that there is some fun to be had in that part of Morningside Heights south of Columbia University, which some people have allegedly been calling "SoHa" or "SoCo". The article's headline refers to this area as "Way Uptown", which should come as news to people living in Washington Heights or Inwood, not to mention other cultured folks like La Blogatrice...
HOLY "SHOUTIN' CROSS THE POTOMAC", Max, I'd like to see the look on the idiotarians' faces when they realize what they're up against now!

By the way, can I borrow the Maxmobile for my hot date tonight? The girls always get a kick out of watching cars behind us spin out on our oil slicks -- especially when I point out that our petro-guns don't use any of that dirty Saudi stuff!
YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED that the top-left blogroll no longer mentions Combustible Boy, who Captain Spaulding dubbed The Blazing Blogger. That is because we are pleased to announce that Combustible Boy will be blogging for The Sound And Fury. Do not think that the duo of "Max Power and Combustible Boy" has not gone unnoticed.
COBB COUNTY IN GEORGIA is the latest place where ignoramuses on the school board refuse to teach undiluted evolutionary theory.
THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE COURT'S decision. The Legal Times had a great article on the FISA court on April 14, 1997, but I can't find it on the web.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

GOOD GLENN REYNOLDS PIECE on airport security. (via everyone)
Interesting article in The Economist contrasting demographic trends in U.S. vs. Europe. Particularly notable: 1) The US population is expected to exceed Europe's between 2025 and 2040 (try 400 million Americans on for size) 2) "Between 1970 and 1985 American fertility rates were slightly lower than Europe's. What seems to have happened then was not that Americans were having fewer children overall, but that a generation of women was postponing motherhood. That depressed America's birth rate in 1970-85, shifted a surge of births by half a generation, and produced an unusually high rate in the 1990s." 3) In 2050, the median age in Europe will be 52, versus only 36.2 in the US. (Compared to 37.7 vs. 35.5 now). The implications they draw for US foreign policy seem a bit far-fetched, but overall article is fascinating.
HOWARD BASHMAN TAKES the time to explain one of the many reasons why Atkins v. Virginia is a bad decision.
NEW YORK TIMES: U.S. Announces New, Tougher Look Into Why the Towers Collapsed.
The new investigation — which will look at everything from the strength of the steel in the twin towers to how more than 1,000 people were trapped on their upper floors to how firefighters responded to the emergency — will not only try to pin down the step-by-step mechanisms by which the buildings fell and occupants lost their lives. It will also recommend changes in how other high-rises are built to make them safer in a terrorist attack, an out-of-control fire or a natural disaster.
This strikes me as potentially a bad idea. The WTC collapse was a unique situation. Adding billions of dollars of construction expense to reduce the likelihood of another skyscraper collapse in case terrorists intentionally aim a fuel-laden airplane at high speed at it is akin to the Simpsons episode where the citizenry demanded a government-funded Bear Patrol.
Homer: "Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm."
Lisa: "That's specious reasoning, Dad."
Homer: "Thank you, dear."
Lisa: "By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away."
Homer: "Oh, how does it work?"
Lisa: "It doesn't work."
Homer: "Uh-huh."
Lisa: "It's just a stupid rock."
Homer: "Uh-huh."
Lisa: "But I don't see any tigers around, do you?"
Homer: "Lisa, I want to buy your rock."
There doesn't appear to be problems with construction standards generally: American skyscrapers have withstood earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, and fires. That the Bush administration is even considering mandating billions of dollars of additional safety requirements to protect skyscrapers against planes instead of simply allowing pilots to protect themselves against hijackers by, say, carrying guns, is ludicrous.
UNCLEAR ON THE CONCEPT. The head of the Congressional Black Caucus complains about Jewish money coming in to unseat two pro-terrorist incumbents.
"To have non-African-Americans from around the country putting millions into a race to unseat one of our leaders for expressing her right of free speech is definitely a problem," Ms. Johnson said.
Fascinating. I imagine CBC opposition to Joe Lieberman was also inappropriate just because he "expressed [his] right of free speech" to express reservations against affirmative action? McKinney and Hillard lost because they don't represent the African-Americans who vote.
Ms. McKinney, a five-term incumbent, and her supporters expected negative reaction from Republicans and Jewish voters, but political strategists said they might have underestimated the negative effects her positions would have in the black community.

Ron Lester, a Democratic pollster who conducted a survey of voters after the Hilliard-Davis primary in Alabama, said that within that district, black support for Israel had increased markedly since Sept. 11.

Concerning Ms. McKinney, he said that she registered a job approval rating of 70 percent among her black constituents in a poll conducted in June, but that on Tuesday such approval was apparently not enough to override larger worries about her political allegiances.

"Black voters are as emotional about 9/11 as any other voters," Mr. Lester said. "They were happy with the way she served the district, but a certain segment of black voters were very wary of her remarks and the controversy surrounding her."

It did not help that prominent black figures, including Julian Bond, the chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., and former Mayor Maynard Jackson of Atlanta — who had supported Ms. McKinney in the past — distanced themselves from her this time.

"People in the black community still think of the comments she made after 9/11, and they are still a little apprehensive," said Alfreida Capers, 51, a DeKalb County resident who campaigned for Ms. McKinney.
AMY ALKON TAKES ON SUVs, with hilarious consequences. Good thing I drive an electric car.
NEXT TIME SOME BOZO claims that the US gave $43 million to the Taliban, you can point them to the State Department announcement of the aid package:
SECRETARY POWELL: Good morning, everyone. Afghanistan is in crisis. After more than 20 years of war, and now the third year of a devastating draught, the country is on the verge of a widespread famine. Nearly 4 million Afghans are at risk. If the international community does not take immediate action, countless deaths and terrible tragedy are certain to follow.

At the direction of President Bush, I am today announcing a package of $43 million in new humanitarian assistance for the people of Afghanistan, including 65,000 tons of wheat, $5 million in complementary food commodities, and $10 million in other livelihood and food security programs within Afghanistan.


We distribute our assistance in Afghanistan through international agencies of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. We provide our aid to the people of Afghanistan, not to Afghanistan's warring factions. Our aid bypasses the Taliban, who have done little to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people, and indeed have done much to exacerbate it. We hope the Taliban will act on a number of fundamental issues that separate us: their support for terrorism; their violation of internationally recognized human rights standards, especially their treatment of women and girls; and their refusal to resolve Afghanistan's civil war through a negotiated settlement.

UN sanctions against the Taliban are smart sanctions and do not hurt the Afghan people, nor do these sanctions affect the flow of humanitarian assistance for Afghans.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

A BLOG GETS a reporter fired. (via LA Examiner)
KESHER TALK points out that the Council for American-Islamic Relations' latest poll is bogus. (via Volokh)

Two other important points that Howard doesn't hit:

1) There's no definition of "bias or discrimination," so the fact that "57%" of the respondents felt it is rather meaningless. Keep in mind that CAIR brought a lawsuit against AOL alleging "bias and discrimination" because there were people in AOL chat rooms that blasphemed Mohammed.

2) Not to put too fine a point on it, but CAIR is fundamentally dishonest when it comes to quantitative reporting of polling results.
GREGG EASTERBROOK, the best football writer around, points out that Terrell Davis ran up his numbers because of what was basically cheating by the Denver offensive line:
Through the 1990s, Broncs OLs were coached by line boss Alex Gibbs, now a team "consultant", to try to injure the knees of the defensive front. Broncos faithful protest that opponent injuries weren't much more common than in anybody else's game, but this is because the defenders were not cooperating with their attackers the way people do in kung-fu movies, but were sidestepping. The whole point of the tactic was to distract defenders by forcing them to sidestep to protect their knees. Now that the league has cracked down on this tactic -- flagging the Broncs often last year and fining OLs Dan Neil and Matt Lepsis for deliberate injury attempts -- Denver running backs suddenly look human again.
He's not thrilled with the Houston Texans' uniforms, either:
Getting the jump on J. Crew, officially Houston says its colors are "Liberty White, Battle Red and Deep Steel Blue." To TMQ, the hues sure look like Copy-Machine White and On-Sale Mascara Red.
The only disadvantage to Easterbrook is that he writes only once a week--it's exhausting to go through one of his dense columns, which could be broken down into several entertaining columns a week, but worth it.
THREE CHEERS FOR US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT, for publishing the most substantive fluff around: this issue features debunkings of crop circles and other hoaxes, including a link to this entertaining, but entirely fictional, tale of an 1890's robot. (The site's still worth it for the photos of the 1893 World's Fair, which did introduce the Ferris wheel, if not a robot.)
ONE OF THE MORE persistently stupid ideas I see is a suggestion that "total free agency", where all baseball players become free agents instead of just the ones with six years experience. Somehow this will lower salary.

Except it clearly won't. Every time an unproven rookie has gotten himself to free agency, be it through a draft loophole or Cuban defection, they've been subject to a huge bidding war that paid them far more than they would've gotten as a draft prospect. The idea that it's arbitration that raises salaries is also ludicrous: if a team really thought that arbitration increased salaries, they can simply refuse to offer arbitration under the current rules, and then resign the fellow as a free agent. Even if one accepts that arbitration overpays the mediocre, it's plain that it underpays the superstars for more than the former -- every star who has become a free agent has gotten a substantial raise. Vladmir Guerrero was paid $11 million between 1998 and 2001, and easily would've made $40-$70 million in the same time frame as a free agent. It takes a lot of $2 million utility infielders who should be paid $250,000 to make up for that.

Mediocre veterans aren't overpaid because of "shortages," they're overpaid because of mediocre general managers who panic. Newsweek asks
Why sign a mediocre reliever for a few million bucks when five other lefty zhlubs are available for a fraction of that?
But the secret of baseball is that there are five lefty zhlubs available now for a fraction of the price. Successful teams like the A's and Braves pluck them out of the minor leagues for minimum wage. Other teams make trades like Jeff-Bagwell-for-Larry-Andersen or Brian-Giles-for-Rincon, and still others fail to trust their minor league systems and make multi-million dollar signings of relievers with injury histories. (It is a testament to the virtuosity of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling that the Arizona Diamondbacks succeed despite the fact that upper management has made incredibly foolish signings at every infield spot. But it wasn't the players' union that made the Diamondbacks decide to spend $24 million a year on Grace/Bell/Womack/Williams instead of $2 million on the better infield of Durazo/Spivey/Batista/Counsell.)
QUENTIN TARANTINO'S top ten movie list for "Sight and Sound" appears to be too rich by two. No Terry Gilliam selections, but an eclectic ten from Terry Jones. Among recent movies, Brazil got three votes, seven for Blade Runner and for Pulp Fiction, GoodFellas six.
CYNTHIA McKINNEY (D-Hamas) appears to have lost her primary. Two-for-two, terrorist-supporters have gotten knocked out of Congress. (via the always-excellent LGF -- donate money to Charles today)
MARK STEYN REPORTS that the Islamization of Europe has gotten to the point where leftists are blaming women for provoking the ludicrously high rape rate among Muslims.
Five days before 9/11, the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet reported that 65% of the country's rapes were committed by "non-Western" immigrants -- a category which, in Norway, is almost wholly Muslim. A professor at the University of Oslo explained that one reason for the disproportionate Muslim share of the rape market was that in their native lands "rape is scarcely punished" because it is generally believed that "it is women who are responsible for rape."

So Muslim immigrants to Norway should be made aware that things are a little different in Scandinavia? Not at all! Rather, the professor insisted, "Norwegian women must take their share of responsibility for these rapes" because their manner of dress would be regarded by Muslim men as inappropriate. "Norwegian women must realize that we live in a multicultural society and adapt themselves to it." Or to modify Queen Victoria's wedding-night advice to her daughter: Lie back and think of Yemen.
Steyn laments:
Once upon a time we knew what to do. A British district officer, coming upon a scene of suttee, was told by the locals that in Hindu culture it was the custom to cremate a widow on her husband's funeral pyre. He replied that in British culture it was the custom to hang chaps who did that sort of thing. There are many great things about India -- curry, pyjamas, sitars, software engineers -- but suttee was not one of them. [...]

As one is always obliged to explain when tiptoeing around this territory, I'm not a racist, only a culturist. I believe Western culture -- rule of law, universal suffrage, etc. -- is preferable to Arab culture: that's why there are millions of Muslims in Scandinavia, and four Scandinavians in Syria. Follow the traffic.
THE SANTA CLARITA SIGNAL pulled Patti Shea's leering column about a locker-room visit to Dodger Stadium heavily discussed on Romenesko's site, but Google, as always, comes to the rescue.

Monday, August 19, 2002

CONFISCATED OBJECTS pile up at airport. If you look closely at the photo, you can see a couple of spoons.
ANOTHER PIECE ON THE proposed space elevator.
ENGINEERS WORKING ON a 100,000 kilometer space elevator suggest that construction will be easier going if they start from the top down. It would hypothetically pay for itself after lifting more than a million kilograms of material into space. Here's the company's web site.
FORBES DEFENDS short selling in the wake of a half-assed Washington Post article on the subject.
The Post, as is typical in stories about short-sellers, implies there is something nefarious in the practice: "Lots of short selling can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: It often drives the price of a stock down regardless of any fundamental change in the company's condition," it says.

Of course, the same is true about buyers (or long-buyers): If they start to buy, share prices will rise regardless of the company's fundamental condition.
I made a nice chunk of change shorting some Internet stocks last year. This year, I out-clevered myself. I shorted Intel at $27, and forced myself to cover at $32. Now it's $19. That's not as bad as the case of ACF, who I thought had fishy accounting. I shorted at $23, I wincingly covered at $37 -- a good thing as it rose to $47. The bad news I anticipated finally hit, and now it's at $13 after a dip below $10. As the joke goes:
"Ask me the secret of successful comedy."

"Uh, ok, what's the secret of suc--"

Kayaking in NYC.
Israeli bus company to sue Arafat for lost business and damaged buses. The PA response shows the indifference towards the concept of proximate cause in some areas of the non-Western world:
Palestinian Communications Minister Imad Falouji said Egged had chosen the wrong defendant and blamed Israeli policy in the occupied territories for the attacks that caused the damages.
THE MIRACLE OF single-payer government-run healthcare.
A retired New Zealand man chopped off one of his own fingers with kitchen scissors because it was gangrenous and he could no longer stand the pain after months of waiting for surgery.
Unhappy photo.
MALAPROPISM OF THE DAY. The LA Times victimizes an innocent cop by quoting him accurately:
LAPD Det. Scott Sherman said it is common for motorists who hit children to panic and flee. "When you run over a child, there is a certain stigmatism," he said.
For some reason the story is titled "Inequities in Pedestrian Deaths," though if you read through it, the "inequities" are that elderly people are more likely to die if they are hit by a car, and that ethnic groups who walk more are more likely to die as pedestrians.

The story acknowledges in an aside that more than 80% of pedestrian fatalities in LA County occur outside a crosswalk, which makes it questionable whether there is a cost-effective public policy solution, but that viewpoint is barely acknowledged.

Sunday, August 18, 2002

RANGERS OWNER Tom Hicks (who bid against himself to give the best player in baseball a $252 million/10 year deal) says that owners will seek a salary cap if players strike. He also says that under the luxury tax proposal, no owner is going to spend above the threshhold at which the luxury tax kicks in. Now, if there's a level at which no owner is going to spend above, isn't that a salary cap?