Saturday, September 07, 2002

AUSTIN IS CRACKING DOWN on illegal use of streetpoles for putting up signs (or, as this site puts it, "street spam"). (via metafilter)
THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS for September 7, 2002.
I lost my lucky ball & chain
Now she's four years gone
Just five feet tall and sick of me
And all my rattling on

She walked away from a happy man
I thought I was so cool
I just stood there whistling
"There goes the bride" as she walked out the door
MADISON SLADE is not only blonde and charming, but she also dislikes Ann Coulter. Plus she's anti-fraternity! Good on her.
USA TODAY HAS HAD a phenomenal series of stories this week about the WTC: people who jumped, the 78th floor elevator lobby where the second plane struck the South Tower, people trapped in elevators, and people who survived the collapse. complains that a June post of mine about the Central Park jogger case didn't anticipate the recent DNA test revelations.

To summarize: a charming rapist/murderer by the name of Matias Reyes has confessed to taking part in the rape and beating of the jogger, and DNA tests confirm that he was involved. Now, five of the wilding teenagers who were convicted thirteen years ago (and who have been out of prison for years) are petitioning to have their convictions overturned.

The story, as the lawyers put it, is disturbing: black teenagers were railroaded by the press. It's "Bonfire of the Vanities" in reverse, it's the Scottsboro Boys all over again, and Al Sharpton was right all along.

The reality is different.
1.It's a long way from "Reyes got away with rape" to "five accused gang rapists were innocent." There was more than just Reyes's semen at the scene. The convicted rapists confessed. And this isn't an "NYPD Blue"-Dennis-Franz-smacking-around-an-accused-perp-confession, either. The confessions took place on videotape, with the parents present, with the rapists being repeatedly read their rights, and refusing, a lawyer.

2. Even if we assume the worst and five sets of detailed confessions were somehow coerced, this is not a great miscarriage of justice. The convicted rapists were not innocent bystanders; they were part of a gang of youths engaged in a crime spree that attacked nine other people. Five years in prison would have been appropriate for that alone. There are times when it seems wildly unfair that someone was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for someone whose best argument is that it was a coincidence that they were mugging someone else feet away from where someone was raped and permanently brain-damaged.

For crying out loud, one of the rapists was arrested carrying a twelve-inch pipe. The real outrage is that if the jogger hadn't gotten so much publicity, none of these criminals would've served much, if any, time.

3. Al Sharpton still behaved execrably: how in hell do you accuse the rape victim, who had no memory of the attack, for being racist?
These reasons explain much why there's still more outrage over the Tawana Brawley case than that of the Central Park jogger. And, one more critical reason: the person who tried to ruin Steven Pagones' life with false accusations and then spent years trying to dodge a libel judgment against him is running for president. So his race-baiting past (and present) remains of relevance.

(U-N also complains about the use of the term "black paper" in the June post. Aside from the fact that it was a direct quote from someone else, rather than my language, the Amsterdam News calls itself a black paper. If you don't like that characterization, complain to them.)

Friday, September 06, 2002

SPEAKING OF EXPLODING PUPPIES, a fascinating difference between England and the U.S. is demonstrated by this Guardian opinion piece attacking religion. It's hard to imagine anyone being willing to print that here, even it were expressed more, um, restrainedly.
DOES THE WORLD REALLY need another Flash exploding puppy web site?
KIBO POINTS TO this amateurish website offering money-saving tips for Halloween costumes.

This is easy, but you have to own or be able to borrow a skating outfit. It looks better than any store bought costume too. Put on the skateing outfit as you would usually do. Do not wear shates if you are going out trick-or-treating.
Kibo comments:
What I like about this misspelled-yet-pointless writeup is that you can also follow the instructions in the first two lines to make a Darth Vader costume, if you change "skating" to "Darth Vader".
It goes on from there, and is worth it.
I WAS SURPRISED WHEN I saw Howard Bashman's report that Zacarias Moussaoui's entertaining ramblings would henceforth be kept under seal, but the judge's order is not quite that ridiculous. Moussaoui had been writing two-page after two-page diatribe that had nothing to do with seeking legal relief and everything to do with circumventing the regulations prohibiting him from contacting the outside world. The judge's order reflects that, and notes that legitimate requests for judicial relief will be unsealed.
A MARVELOUS PIECE summarizing DVD commentary tracks for movies you'd never want to rent.
SPEAKING OF THAT CAPTION that Reuters ran, someone at LGF noticed that the second sentence of the caption was the first sentence of a news story -- not a commentary -- that Reuters carried earlier this week. Charmingly, the article essentially sourced everything from Human Rights Watch's complaints, since we all know that that organization is utterly without bias, and the "human rights" that are supposedly being violated mostly seem to be cases of countries toughening their immigration policies. The treatment of immigrants by countries like Australia and Zimbabwe are cheerfully equated, which should easily persuade that old meanyhead Tim Blair. (I can't say that I disagree with the complaints about apparently indefinite detentions of certain people, though.)

Thursday, September 05, 2002

READER LAN3 IN SEATTLE notes that Reuters photo caption that the whole blogosphere is buzzing about -- I think Taranto's column yesterday was the first to draw attention to it -- and proposes a Caption Contest based on other news photos that can be found around the Web. LAN3 writes: "all captions must be two parts: factual caption and digressive, controversial editorial." Here are some examples I thought up of other potential Reuters photo captions (I included only links to the photos so as not to slow the blog's load times too much):
Photo of Bill Clinton smooching Rep. Loretta Sanchez
POSSIBLE REUTERS CAPTION: Former President Bill Clinton kisses Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., at a fundraiser for Sanchez in Santa Ana, Calif. Meanwhile, George W. Bush's efforts to court the Hispanic community have been limited to a few half-assed efforts to speak Spanish.

Photo of Jon Bon Jovi performing in Times Square
POSSIBLE REUTERS CAPTION: Singer Jon Bon Jovi, who rose to fame in the 1980s with his band Bon Jovi, performs in New York's Times Square at the kickoff party for the NFL season. Most of those '80s big-hair metal bands died off years ago, thank God, but some managed to salvage their popularity by altering their sound ever so slightly while still indulging typical American tastes for bathetic power ballads and lame, beer-commercial-style rock music.

Photo of Giants quarterback Kerry Collins and 49ers defensive end Andre Carter
POSSIBLE REUTERS CAPTION: New York Giants quarterback Kerry Collins drops back to pass in the first quarter as he is pressured by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Andre Carter. Collins has a little towel hanging in front of his penis, a tool used by males for countless millennia to subjugate womyn into oppressive situations such as sex slavery and pregnancy.

Photo of Roman Polanski at "The Pianist" premiere
POSSIBLE REUTERS CAPTION: Director Roman Polanski attends the Warsaw premiere of his new film "The Pianist," based on the story of a musician who survived the "Holocaust." The "Holocaust" was a years-long effort by German activists protesting Jewish settlement in their land.
Have caption ideas of your own? E-mail your contest entries to me.

Update: Of course, you don't have to confine yourselves to the four photos I used above; I just grabbed those photos from Yahoo as examples.
I SOMETIMES SEE RUMBLINGS on the blogs that maybe Islam really is the enemy ideology, but as Vegard Valberg says, try telling that to these guys -- American Muslims proudly serving in the Marines in Afghanistan, and helping rehabilitate a mosque there. I was also mostly impressed by this NYT op-ed by Egyptian-American Mona Eltahawy, who writes, among other things:
Another example is the determination of American Muslims to resist foreign influences in their mosques. They are paying more attention to their prayer leaders, the messages they preach in Friday sermons and, most important, the source of the money that pays the imams' salaries. Many are fighting Saudi financing and the attempt to impose the puritanical Wahhabi school of thought on Muslims here.

I am saddened that such a debate has not taken off with much vigor in other parts of the world. While there are individual Muslims who speak out against the regressive pull of the fundamentalists in countries as far afield as Egypt and Malaysia, often earning themselves a place on a death list in the process, the clerics who should lead Muslims away from the hatred of Mr. Atta and his conspirators are disappointingly silent.
Over at OpinionJournal, however, James Taranto noted that the Arab News version of the article pointedly omitted the sentence mentioning Saudi financing and Wahhabism.
MARK IT: First appearance of a "blog" in Doonesbury on September 5, 2002.
IN CASE YOU WERE worried that "Jesus appearing on a tortilla" is unique to Western Christian societies, Ananova is reporting that Pilgrims are flocking to a "divine potato" shaped like the Hindu Lord Ganesha, who you might remember from the Simpsons episode.
A FRIEND MAILED ME a link to this AP article about a Temple linguist defending the use of "like" in conversational English. (E.g., "He has, like, six sisters.'') I was a little skeptical of the story when I saw that the linguist's name is Muffy Siegel, but if it's a joke, it's one that extends to the Temple web site.
YOU DON'T SEE LOTS OF lefty critics of the U.S. government being published in The Spectator, but this guy's article aims to persuade fellow leftists that they don't also have to disdain all Americans and everything about our culture. My favorite part is toward the end, where he cites Slobodan Milosevic as the kind of guy who won't let a few foreign-policy differences with the U.S. blind him to all the good we have on offer, such as Sinatra records. Ah, how many times I've thought to myself, "If only Europe's anti-American leftists could be a little more like Slobo!" And come to think of it, a Nelson Riddle arrangement might be just the thing to punch up the parade puppeteers' pithy chants...

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

You'll be glad you checked out the very interesting story about an undefeated Orthodox Jewish boxer from Sunday's Washington Post.
DAN HARTUNG TAKES ON another of the myths of Palestinian exceptionalism by examining, in his usual calm and measured way, the numbers of Europeans who were resettled after each of the world wars.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

AFTER THE NEW YORK SUN called out a New York PBS station's Web site for presenting a history of "Palestine" that many bloggers will find wanting, the site has scrambled to remove everything. The URL cited in the Sun article -- -- now redirects to "homelands.html", which apologetically states:
The "Homelands" section of the site drew attention away from the message of the film. Our goal was to provide background information that contextualized the cultural histories of the people whose lives are chronicled in the film. In an effort to keep the focus on the current experience of Arab Americans, we have removed that section of the site.
In case you were wondering what used to be on the "Palestine" section, you're in luck: An LGF comments poster had already copy-and-pasted it.
BERNARD LEWIS AND I have a couple of things in common: We both had great hopes for the Oslo process when it started, and we've both come to conclude that we were mistaken and that the Oslo process, coupled with the reintroduction of Arafat to the Levant, was a grevious mistake. Lewis spoke about this and much more in a recent interview (which I found via Israpundit).
JUST IN CASE ANYONE between the coasts wasn't sure how New York Times columnists feel about flyover country, Kristof's latest argues that the settlement of the Great Plains was "one of America's greatest mistakes".

And maybe he's right! As a native of the Atlantic Coast megalopolis, I can only glance in horror at you in the the Interior during those brief moments when I am not splashing in my champagne-filled hot tub surrounded by the bosoms of my promiscuous women. And because I live Inside The Beltway, I don't have to pay federal taxes! Mwahahahahahaha!
TOM TOMORROW'S LATEST cartoon veers dangerously close to the oil libel yet again as Tom grasps about for some crowd-pleasing punchlines. Fascinatingly, the first panel sticks with the little Bush and Cheney heads as the quick 'n' easy symbols of support for the war on Iraq, even as the third panel acknowledges the desire for positive destabilization that will upend the Saudi hegemony -- a desire that's been much blogged but that Bush and Cheney have been at pains to oppose, losing plenty of support from blogosphere types in the process.

More reason, I guess, why it's probably not a good idea to get your political views from a four- or five-panel comic strip, even if the guy who writes it has a blog where he has been known to look a lot smarter than that. (Next week: A broad swath of the American public, with umpteen different reasons to disfavor the Kyoto protocol, will be summed up in the form of one cigar-chomping bald guy clutching fistfuls of thousand-dollar bills as smoke pours out of tall stacks behind him.)
I WAITED TEN MINUTES for service at a Wendy's the other day. I settled for getting my money back and going home and cooking, but apparently I should have waited another five minutes and sued for discrimination. (via Overlawyered)

(If I had $1,000 every time I got bad service at a Taco Bell...)

Sunday, September 01, 2002

THE PEOPLE WHO SHOP at Fresh Fields in DC (like the people who used to shop at Mrs. Gooch's in LA) are either yuppies like me who admire the cheese and deli-case selection or Ralph Nader types who are willing to pay a higher price for the privilege of feeding their mistaken beliefs that (1) the naturally-occurring pesticides in the strains of plants grown for commercial organic food farming are safer than the smaller amounts of man-made pesticides used for non-"organic" food and (2) they're sticking it to The Man by avoiding the Corporate Grocery Store. So it's mysterious to me why Whole Foods Market, the national chain without a national advertising campaign, seeks to repeat its mistake in Los Angeles, and rename the Fresh Fields stores it has owned here for seven years, and remind its customers that it is a national chain.

On the other hand, I remember when Starbuck's was considered underground and trendy by the left, right about when they opened their first stores on the East Coast. This was before it joined the McDonald's/Gap/Nike Axis Of Globalization. Starbuck's doesn't seem to have suffered from the shift in perception, so I imagine Whole Foods will rebound also.