Saturday, September 28, 2002

MORE ON THE North Korean kidnappings of Japanese.

Friday, September 27, 2002

THE LATE MORNING report on the clashes between cops and protesters during the first day of the anti-everything demonstrations downtown. Some rock-throwing, some smoke bombs, some efforts to disrupt traffic, although both auto and subway commuting seems to have been relatively light. And then there was this:
As part of the protest, five people had chained themselves together at the hands and then covering their hands with one-gallon buckets. Police were forced to use saws to cut them apart.
I assume what the cops were actually sawing through was the chains and buckets, not the protesters themselves, but I'll bet you the temptation was there.

Update: the Associated Press version of the story mentions that some protesters were making lots of phony 911 calls (that's the emergency-services phone number here in the U.S.) to add to their harassment of the police. I hope the penalty for trying to swamp the 911 system is more severe than a night in the clink.

Update update: The Post has a page of dispatches of varying lengths that were filed by their reporters wandering the city this morning. One of them says that the cutting mentioned above was done with "what looked like chainsaws". Another says that Metro workers had to use bolt cutters to open the subway stations at Fort Totten, West Hyattsville and Addison Road this morning because someone coated the locks with "a glue-like substance". If this bit of vandalism was the work of protesters, it was especially stupid; those three stations are all in lower-income, predominantly black areas on the outskirts of town, so shutting them down isn't exactly conducive to helping out the proletariat...
NOTING ACCURATELY that a lot of lefty intellectuals think about everything in terms of literary criticism instead of mucking themselves up with ungainly realities, Cinderella Bloggerfeller has begun deconstructing Idiotarianism and its Metaphors with the help of his pointy-headed new friend Dinah Dienstag, Professor of Idiotarian Thought at the University of North-South-West Rhode Island Red. I hope Bloggerfeller keeps the Dienstag stuff coming -- that is, provided that Dr. Dienstag's schedule permits.
THE ESPN.COM READERS' POLL for coaches looks suspiciously like a quarter of the respondents didn't understand the system and voted alphabetically, which was enough to put Rick Adelman over the top.
LIBERALS WHO understand partial derivatives are invited to speak out in the comments section, and we'll forward it on to Rep. Dick Armey.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

THE LOWER MANHATTAN DEVELOPMENT CORP. has named six teams of architects -- representing 27 firms from the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan and the Netherlands -- to think up new ideas for what to put at the WTC site.

Get a load of the byline on the article; this Reuters reporter's name sounds even phonier than "Max Power".
IN A BID TO boost the morale of employees whose stock options have withered away to nothingness, graphics chipmaker Nvidia has offered to buy back their options for $3.20 a share, paid in Nvidia common stock. Siebel Systems made a similar offer last month to its employees. Never doubt the ingenuity of the New Economy.
THE NYT REPORTS on FBI Director Mueller's description -- given in June before a joint Congressional committee investigating the terrorist attacks -- of just what the hijackers were up to before 9/11. One of them, apparently not exactly leery of law-enforcement attention, even called the cops when he was the victim of an attempted robbery in May of 2001. Looks like the FBI dug up a lot of dirt on the hijackers and their al Qaeda links that hasn't previously been publicized.
HEY, WHAT COULD be niftier than a working Lego harpsichord? That's almost as keen as the Luray Caverns Stalacpipe Organ...
THE FORCED RENOVATION of the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center gave engineers the opportunity to install a wackily complex new sound-and-light system. The little pop-up Flash presentation linked under "multimedia" on the right sidebar was worth a look too, if only because it taught me the word "apse", which ought to come in handy for future Scrabble games.
WAR LIBERAL MAC points to blogger Rob Humenik who credits a guy named Marc for pointing him to an article at the Seattle Times Web site about Allan Fitzsimmons, who the Bush Administration has placed in charge of reducing fire danger on lands managed by the Department of the Interior. Mac and Rob are fretting that Fitzsimmons doesn't believe in ecosystems, which sounds pretty bad, but it's a little more complicated than that. Fitzsimmons has argued (see pdf or Googlized HTML) essentially that the concept of an ecosystem is a mental construct that varies according to who is doing the defining, rather than a clearly delineated objective reality inherent in nature. "While the ecosystem concept may be helpful as a tool for researchers to better grasp the world around us," Fitzsimmons writes, "it is far too ambiguous to serve as an organizing principle for the application of federal law and policy." And indeed, it was a specific federal policy initiative, not environmentalism in general, that Fitzsimmons was chiefly writing to criticize.

As you might imagine, Fitzsimmons gravitates toward market-based ideas for protecting the environment (which is the sort of outlook someone with a doctorate in geography might be expected to have). Admittedly, I've never been entirely convinced that libertarians' efforts at applying market principles to things like environmentalism really stem from a desire to address environmental problems and such, rather than simply a desire to be anti-government, anti-regulation, and laissez-faire-doctrinaire in everything. But at least this isn't the sort of "we don't need to protect the environment because Jesus is coming soon" stuff that made the paleocons so much scarier than the neocons ever were.
SCIENTISTS IN BOSTON figured out a way to grow teeth from seeded cells, which the researchers say suggests there may be dental stem cells. Eventually this might enable doctors to grow new teeth to replace a patient's lost teeth rather than using artificial dental implants, it seems.

Cursed Western scientists with their phallocentric ways of knowing! Couldn't they get similar results just by visualizing pig teeth in rat intestines?
THE NOT-EXACTLY-DOVISH Financial Times reports on concerns that war in Iraq will deal a further blow to the already limping M&A market. But as we all know, all calls for war are driven by greedy capitalists.
WASHINGTON POST WRITER Marc Fisher's Slate piece about Germany this week got some attention from the blogosphere after InstaPundit linked it. As part of his normal duties as the Post local-news columnist, Fisher does a moderated Web chat every Thursday, and I'm sure he wouldn't mind if you post some questions or comments on the Slate piece there too...
IT LOOKS LIKE cartoonists have decided some revamped scenario is needed to replace the hoary old cliché of bombing Canada for no good reason. Has the Psycho Schmidt affair hit too close to home, or are they just trying to repress the memory of that failed Michael Moore movie?
GAAAAH, I have the theme song from Magnum P.I. stuck in my head and it won't stop playing.
I FRANKLY THINK it's insane to say anyone but Alex Rodriguez should be AL MVP, but it's still nice to see two Oakland A's go to bat for Rodriguez. How can Miguel Tejada be the most valuable player when he's not even the most valuable shortstop? If Rodriguez doesn't get the award, it'll be the third MVP he's been cheated out of in his short career.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002

USA TODAY HAS yet another story on the vulnerability of high-rise buildings today. The paper must be overcompensating for the disappointment of having moved away from those curvy silver towers in Rosslyn overlooking downtown D.C., Georgetown and the Potomac.

Too bad really prominent or famous skyscrapers can't station firefighting crews at several levels of the building for quick response to fire emergencies, so they wouldn't have to lug all their equipment up 80 or 100 flights of stairs like the FDNY was trying to do. Maybe using off-duty firefighters, like the off-duty cops who work security. I guess this idea has already been considered and rejected; it does seem like it would be a bit of a hassle for something that's probably still a pretty low risk.
A FEDERAL JUDGE in Manhattan has refused to drop lawsuits from Holocaust survivors who sued several insurance companies, claiming the insurers refused to pay benefits on policies held by Holocaust victims. The insurers had tried to get the suits dismissed or transferred to European courts.
INTERESTING NYT PIECE on Rami Mahamid, an Israeli Arab who foiled a bus bombing when he noticed that the guy at his bus stop looked suspicious. Though the bomber wasn't allowed to board a bus, his bomb's explosion killed a policeman and injured Mahamid, who ended up in the hospital -- and initially shackled by police and intelligence agents who thought he might be the bomber's accomplice.

Once the situation got cleared up, the Israelis arrived at Mahamid's hospital bedside to present him with a commendation. But his potential problems aren't over, as Mahamid's family now worries that other Israeli Arabs will criticize him for intervening and preventing a bus from being bombed.

(That's not to say that Mahamid is an extremely rare exception among Israeli Arabs; an Israeli brigadier general quoted in the piece says that Israeli Arabs are often the first to offer help after bombings in northern Israel, which has a large Arab population.)
COMMENTS SEEM TO be working again. Apologies to those who were inconvenienced. Not that it was my fault or anything.
HAVE A LOOK at what other people accomplished when they were your age. Yes, you, with the potato chip crumbs all over your lap and greasy fingers slicking up your keyboard.
BROADENING THE ANGLOSPHERE by any means necessary? Today's Wall Street Journal A-hed is all about the various methods being used in different East Asian countries to get as many people speaking English as possible. In part of Taiwan, this has taken the charming form of broadcasting English-language conversations over the loudspeakers on garbage trucks, which traditionally play classical music to entertain the residents along their routes.

On the weirder side, though, apparently some plastic surgeons in Seoul and Shanghai have been talked into snipping some of the tissue under kids' tongues, at the parents' behest, on the theory that this will make it easier to pronounce our weird English consonants.

Interestingly, the WSJ article appears to have been written by Christian Slater's character from the movie Heathers. And speaking of Heathers, have you read today's Dowd column? Chafetz will love it.
PROSECUTORS IN MOUSSAOUI'S trial say that Wacko Zacko once called a phone number that was found written on a business card in the Flight 93 wreckage. The business card has been linked to Ziad Jarrah, one of the terrorists on the plane.
CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY'S student guide -- which has been controversial since last year -- did indeed disappear from the Web soon after InstaPundit linked it yesterday. But fear not, I have trawled the Google cache to find Google's HTML renditions of the whole thing (except the cover). In the following list of link titles, those not in parentheses are official section titles, while the links in parentheses are quick descriptions I wrote for other parts of the handbook available in ten-page chunks. (I liked the sex-ed part, with its parenthesized slang terms for body parts.)The May-June calendar page includes this holiday marking for May 15: "Al-Nakba (the 1948 Palestinian Catastrophe)".
INSTAPUNDIT CITES GARY FARBER for the proposition that the wave has a Mexican origin, but this seems to be incorrect. The Hungarian researchers Gary refers to mentioned the Wave as beginning in the 1986 World Cup. But the Wave was being performed at the University of Washington as early as 1981, and was widespread throughout the United States by 1984. It's likely that the Mexicans picked it up from the Americans, and that the Europeans were not aware of the phenomenon until the 1986 World Cup.

Here's another recollection of the first Wave.

On the other hand, this other guy claims to have invented the Wave weeks earlier at an Oakland playoff game in 1981. (Another article, also mentioning the Hungarian research, and hinting at an earlier date.) Regardless, it predates the 1986 World Cup.
A NEW YORK TIMES piece about Division I-AA college football team Wofford, playing powerhouse Maryland this week. It seems like it's out of a throwaway gag in "Radio Days," but Wofford's leading receiver is legally blind.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

THE UTTER RIDICULOUSNESS OF the government's smallpox vaccination plan makes me wonder why the heck they're not making vaccine available in advance to those who want it. Instead of trying to vaccinate 200 million people in a week, you could offer the vaccine to anyone willing to sign a waiver--or pass a law with the same effect as a waiver. Charge people $20 each. You vaccinate a bunch of people now, it reduces the risk that the disease gets widely spread in case of an attack, and you reduce the likelihood of a massive logistical snafu that creates panic.
"IS YOUR PORTFOLIO ready for war?" asks the Wall Street Journal's Personal Journal section today, saying that the S&P 500 index, a broad measure of the U.S. market, might fall 10 percent during an attack on Iraq. Apparently no one has clued in the WSJ on the fact that wars are always fought at the behest of greedy capitalists.
"AGENT CITED WTC ATTACK AHEAD OF 9/11," says the AP headline. But according to the congressional testimony that the story cites, what actually happened was that a FBI supervisor in Minneapolis was trying to get headquarters to approve a search of Wacko Zacko Moussaoui's computer, and the supervisor got frustrated and came up with flying a plane into the World Trade Center as a nightmare scenario that might convince headquarters to cough up the special search warrant. Not such a far-fetched concept, given that the Trade Center was already a known target of Bin Laden's terror network, so I figured I'd blog the actual story because it'll probably get twisted into further evidence for the "Bush Knew" folks in the coming weeks or months.

I visited the WTC's observation deck back in '98, not long after the 1993 bombers were convicted and the African embassy bombings happened, and I remember that I intentionally annoyed my mother beforehand by telling her that maybe Osama bin Laden and friends would attack the towers again while I was up there. I wonder if the AP will write an article about me too?
LOOKS LIKE WE'RE back down to Yellow Level alert status, which should come as a great relief to anyone who was aware that we hadn't came back down from Code Orange yet. (Anyone?)
WAR LIBERAL MAC'S latest Captain Euro episode pits the hapless cap'n against the Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters. (It's part of Meryl Yourish's Buffy blogburst.)
BLOGGER SPENT THREE HOURS down for maintenance this morning and I'm still getting the "Unable to load template file" error?
ANDREA SEE took a page full of photos in Singapore's Chinatown, where she discovered the mark of the beast on the durians there. And here I always thought people in Singapore were just about the only ones who didn't feel that way.

Well, there are also those signs in the subway and other public places there. Which reminds me: The company that runs Singapore's public transit is called SMRT. Heh heh heh heh heh.
TONY BLAIR'S 65-PAGE dossier on Iraq. (pdf file)
IF I WERE TO DELIBERATELY cause thousands of gallons of gasoline to be burned and hundreds of pounds of NOx and carbon monoxide to be released for no constructive purpose, I would correctly be accused of creating an environmental disaster; there might even be clean air laws prohibiting me from taking such an action. If I were to conspire with others to trap a person intentionally and deliberately for any length of appreciable time in a small compartment against his or her will, you might just call me a kidnapper.

If, on the other hand, I were to conspire with others to trap thousands of people for hours in their cars in a massive traffic jam against their will, well, that just makes me a clever anti-capitalist protestor. And people call capitalism amoral. It's a bloody crying shame that D.C. police give no indication of being willing to enforce the laws and arrest people who are blocking the streets.

P.S. What the heck is with the Washington Post calling one demonstration "a protest and street theater against a rush to war in Iraq" (emphasis added)? Can't the reporters parse from more than a press release and figure out that the demonstrators probably wouldn't exactly be in favor of American force being used against Iraq even if a more deliberative process were used?
STUART BUCK, CALL YOUR OFFICE. A new group is hoping to break the educational monopoly on a scientific "theory" being taught in Georgia science classes, and give equal time to their intelligent grappling theory.
A Georgia group calling itself Teachers for Equal Time has asked that stickers be placed in all new physics textbooks which note that mutual attraction and relativity are not the only theories available to explain gravity and should not be taken as fact.

Teachers for Equal Time hopes that the addition of the warning stickers will pave the way for the teaching of its alternative theory, Intelligent Grappling, the theory that certain intelligent and conscious agents "push" things together.

"Mutual attraction has had a monopoly on the truth for too long," said Dr. Sternberg, "it is time we let children see all of the theories."

"I'm not saying they're little angels," says Dr Sternberg, "Intelligent Grappling only says that conscious agents are the cause of all apparent 'gravitic' phenomenon. There's no religion involved."
More details here.
Intelligent Design says that there is a non-naturalistic,
conscious designer at work at the biological level. Intelligent
Grappling says that there is a non-naturalistic, conscious grappler at
the physicial level. Accepting a naturalistic explanation for one
phenomenon but a non-naturalistic explanation for another is a
philosophically corrupt position and we do not advocate it.
INDEPENDENT COFFEEHOUSES continue to grow despite competition from Starbucks, reports a front-page Wall Street Journal piece today. The entrance of Starbucks to a market helps create the demand for yup-scale coffee, it seems, and then people figure out that they can get a cozier atmosphere at the non-chain shops. "In an industry oddity, chain often gives independents a boost in local markets," says the drophead; the article leads with the example of the Broadway Cafe in Kansas City, which has only thrived since a Starbucks opened up next door. "Starbucks helped our business, but I don't want to give them any credit for it," says Broadway Cafe co-owner Jon Cates, echoing what would probably be the thoughts of most of the anti-everything college lefties even if they were allowed to read the WSJ piece, which at the moment is for subscribers only...

Hey Max, wanna Xerox a billion copies of the WSJ article and then air-drop them on this week's anti-everything marches downtown?
TIM BLAIR HAS LINKED to the official page of that Australian public radio show I was picking on yesterday. The top of the page has a picture of the show's host, Phillip Adams, in front of a diagram of planets revolving around the moon -- as good a symbol as any for Adams' loonycentric universe.
ON THE FRONT PAGE of the New York Observer, Philip Weiss describes the latest evidence of Jewish control of the United States: an "alliance" between Jews and pro-Israel neocons and conservative Christians, which led to the primary defeat of those wonderful representatives McKinney and Hilliard! Oh no! Weiss also declares that the reason the left has been less powerful of late is because liberal Jews are afraid to speak out -- apparently, partisans only have power in the United States if the Jews are backing them, more evidence of the oh-so-insidious Jewish domination of American politics.
Even the words "Jewish lobby" stick in the throat. Earlier this year, Chris Matthews devoted a segment on Hardball to the question of why European nations have such a different position on the Middle East than the United States does. The segment was moronic. It ignored a social and political reality that Mr. Matthews, a political veteran, knows damn well: Jews are empowered in American society in a way that they are not in Europe.
I guess I can agree with Weiss on that last statement, although I sure don't mean it the same way he does. Weiss continues: "Indeed, Jewish money may be the most important segment of Democrat Party fund-raising," a sentence that contains either a Freudian slip or an intentional adoption by Weiss of the right's traditional misnaming of the Democratic Party.

Of course, it wasn't so long ago that such allegations of Jewish control of politics were generally heard from the right -- that is, the far right -- but now I'd say the Buchananization of the American left is continuing apace.

Monday, September 23, 2002

RICH GET RICHER UPDATE: Only 58 members of the original Forbes 400 list of the 400 wealthiest Americans are still on the list twenty years later. As I've said all along, comparing the proportion of wealth held by the top x% over time is misleading, because the composition of those percentiles is in flux.
CAN I ASK WHY the heck jurors didn't say something during a six-week trial when the defective juror could be replaced by an alternate?

I hope the accused juror is prosecuted for perjury, but it's California, so perhaps it's just par for the course.
Ex-State Dept. Worker Pleads Guilty in Attack. Elizabeth Morgan had advised the woman's friend that she had three options in her custody battle involving numerous unfounded accusations of child abuse: obey the court orders, flee with her children, or kill her ex-husband. (It's amazing how little publicity Elsa Newman's conviction received--I just learned about it today. I think the Washington Post kind of passed right on over it. Kudos to Maryland for getting this resolved in the same calendar year as the shooting.)

UPDATE: Update.
GIVE JACK STRAW CREDIT for getting Iraq correct in March. Why don't we have any American leaders being this eloquent?
NEAL POLLACK HAS added permalinks! So I can blog his latest marvelous entry, the following paragraph of which is only the tip of the iceberg:
Meanwhile, I have an annoucement to make regarding my next novel, Hurts So Good, a sequel to Hot To Trot. Because of my dissatisfaction with corporate publishing and chain bookstores, I'm going to release this novel myself, in a limited edition. There will be only five copies printed on golden tickets which will be wrapped around selected candy bars and placed in vending machines at state-university sororities, largely in the south.
"GET YOUR WAR ON" comics left over from the 1980s. Max, is this more of that stuff we can blame on James Baker?
DESPITE LIVING IN Israel, Ribbity Frog still mercifully has the patience to deal bit by bit with some Independent malarkey. Must be that amphibian blood. (Hey, I also have the experience of living in a country that's vilified around the world by people who don't know what they're talking about, but at least my country is not constantly under physical attack as well.) Further from the battle lines but closer to the editorial desks, Steven Chapman is similarly befouling himself with Guardipendent muck.
ASTONISHED HEAD'S Ian Wood is misty and poetic over our Special Ops men and their beards. Ian must not have heard the news yet. (Meanwhile, on the subject of beards...)
WASHINGTON POST TECH WRITER Rob Pegoraro devotes today's column to technological tools for keeping your inbox free of spam. Unlike a lot of his mainstream media compatriots, Pegoraro is savvy enough to note that most spammers aren't comparable to snail-mail marketers who work within the Postal Service's system to send bulk mail legitimately. Rather, as Pegoraro explains, the average spammers' software exploits security holes and ill-thought-out Internet features, which in my mind makes such software more akin to destructive worms like ILOVEYOU and Klez. Though nobody had trouble recognizing ILOVEYOU's author as a criminal vandal, people's perceptions of the spammers' activities are clouded by their superficial similarity to traditional postal mass mailers.

Note that established companies that use bulk mail for marketing are generally not going to be using the unscrupulous tactics that average spammers use -- although many anti-spammers still object to some other bulk-email marketing practices. See a primer by Suresh Ramasubramanian, who's well known in spam-fighting circles. In addition, the Post's Pegoraro will be online today for a moderated Web chat on the subject.

By the way, if downloading lots of mail at your personal account is a specific problem for you, you might want to consider doing what I do and using a shell account on a Unix system for your personal e-mail. With a shell account, you use a terminal-emulator program such as PuTTY to type commands and use text-based software, much like you'd do in an MS-DOS window -- except in this case, you'd be running the commands and software on another computer that you've connected to over the Internet, even though it's all displayed in a window on your screen as if it were running on your own computer. E-mail sent to your address at the shell account will generally be stored in a file on that very computer, which means the text-based e-mail programs available to you there will be able to load the mail in an instant, without you having to download it to your own computer. This isn't the solution for everybody, but it can be a good choice if you're comfortable working with DOS-style programs, and especially if you have fairly simple e-mail needs; Google has plenty of listings for shell providers available out there. (My preferred Unix-shell e-mail program, by the way, is mutt.)
The HisTory of Michael Jackson's face.
TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES still has a Bob Greene page, complete with offers of "Product Samples," nyuk nyuk.
THE LA TIMES FINALLY COVERED the West Hollywood attack by Muslims against Jews. Apparently someone even videotaped it, which makes you wonder why the local news haven't been broadcasting the "Kill the Jews" chant instead of the woman smacking her child in the mall parking lot.
RWANDA HAS BECOME increasingly Muslim in the wake of Christian complicity in the genocide there. Of concern is the Saudi Wahhabi influence.
ON SATURDAY, Tim Blair linked to the RealPlayer version of an Australian radio interview show featuring Robert Fisk and two other interviewees with similar proclivities. I listened to all 55 minutes, and well, first off, what's with that drunken big-band music that opens and closes the show -- the music so bad that even the host himself made fun of it at the beginning of the program?

At any rate, Fisk himself turned in an interesting performance as expected. A few points that sprang to mind as I listened:
  • Fisk notes that the commemoration of the massacres at Sabra and Shatila was complicated by the fact that other homegrown Lebanese perpetrated another massacre there a few years later. So, after homegrown Lebanese Phalangists committed the original massacre, and other Lebanese committed another massacre there later, it's still all Sharon's fault for some reason?
  • Fisk attributes his standing-O at his George Mason University speech to the "fact" that there's no one putting forth his viewpoint in the United States. Of course, bloggers link to people putting forth his viewpoint constantly, and note that college kids are among the most receptive audiences for it, so one might think maybe he really got the big ovation because he was preaching to the converted. Didn't occur to him, but then, you wouldn't expect a reporter who spends all his time in the Middle East to have an accurate impression of American media, not that that's stopped Fisk from claiming to have an accurate impression.
  • Given "half a minute" to explain why Arab culture has produced so many tyrannical states, Fisk of course manages to blame the West, saying Western military might during the Renaissance was at fault. Of course, Western military might was often used by one Western country against another (or by different groups within each Western country battling it out) during the Renaissance -- so there was anything but unity in "The West" of the time -- but Fisk wouldn't let that get in the way of some good old fashioned West-blamin'.
  • I like how Fisk manages to rattle off "the international crimes against humanity that occurred on September 11th of last year" with practiced speed.
  • Fisk says that none of the American media have noticed how the attention shifted from Bin Laden to Hussein. Geez, Bob, in just some quick searching through Washington Post articles I found these news stories and columns (see third paragraph from the bottom in that last one: "Try as they have, the cakewalk corps that surrounds Bush cannot connect dots between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, who is still wanted dead or alive."), which of course are just the tip of the iceberg.

    And this article from last October reported some reasons Bush was downplaying Bin Laden already at that point. And this poll from late last September showed that Hussein was already on the public radar screen even then (see fifth paragraph). And if you like the NYT better than the WaPo, just see any Maureen Dowd column...
Then there was Richard Neville, another guy who has lots of ideas of what the U.S. media are like despite not having much experience being in the States. He did, however, hope for ways to expose benighted Americans to the alternative Australian viewpoints that people like him and Phil Adams were putting across. And thanks to Tim Blair, those views did indeed get across! Let's see if Nev sends Our Tim a thank-you note.

Above post is a reworked version of an e-mail I sent to Blair...
LATELY MY BRAIN keeps on playing and replaying the tune called "Tender Lies" by the Boston-based neo-synthpop trio Freezepop. It's like a melancholy late-'80s Depeche Mode or Erasure tune but with a chick singer and a video featuring all-girl pillow fights in pajamas. If you, like me, have been left high and dry by a decade-long dearth of blippy-beepy old-fashioned synthpop, why not head on over and buy the living hell out of their CDs? They've got free samples for the taking, and are even on a non-RIAA label, so you need not worry about subsidizing those nasty nasty fileswapping foes. And you know it's tough for any indie band to build a fanbase with the sort of political views you find here in The Blogosphere. Revolution Killblogger Style Now!

Tell 'em Combustible Boy sent you!
ALL OF THE nuclear subs in the Los Angeles class have city names, including the USS City of Corpus Christi and the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul. All except one, that is -- the USS Hyman G. Rickover, a name that stands out from the crowd. The honor is merited, to be sure, but that name doesn't seem to belong there ... unless we figure that there will be a city named for the father of the nuclear Navy.

Unfortunately, right now there are only two listings for "Rickover" in the U.S. Geological Survey's geographic-names database; one is a Naval Academy building and the other is a junior high school that features, intriguingly enough, a pirate mascot. Surely we can do better than that and find ourselves a fully developed city that'd like to take on Admiral Rickover's name. Someplace along a river, someplace with some connection to the Navy -- I know, how about if we rename Fort Worth?

(Tip of the hat to Bill Herbert...)

Sunday, September 22, 2002

THE GUY WHO did the music in that Volkswagen commercial.
I HAVEN'T SEEN ANY press coverage of this week-old Los Angeles hate crime of a beating by Middle Easterners chanting "Kill the Jews!" Not even in the LA Examiner. What's up with that? (via Facts of Israel)
READER MAIL:
Max,

C'mon, you've been around government long enough to know why the sales tax is needed.
If No. VA is anything like CA, and it surely was in the mid-70's when I lived in Metro DC, a substantial portion of the gas tax is diverted to underwrite various government enabled transportation systems. ie: the vaunted but sucks Metro and all of the commuter bus services serving the government worker commuters at a loss as well as the "don't have an evil car" crowd who are more than happy to suck off the over-taxed vehicle owner.

I think the VA motorist would be more than satisfied if all the state's gas taxes, motor vehicle use taxes, license fees etc. were only spent on VA's highways and roads.
Actually, a big chunk of the sales tax is going to the Metro, so that's not a reason not to prefer a gas tax. (I wasn't around for the mid-70s edition of the Metro, but the current model does a pretty good job of keeping cars off the road and reducing congestion, and could do an even better job with some more money: for example, I would take the Metro if they expanded the six-car Orange-line trains to eight cars, and I didn't feel like a sardine in the morning.)

A gas tax, unlike a sales tax, would encourage use of public transportation and carpooling (as well as more fuel-efficient cars, which would reduce DC smog); therefore, government would need to raise less money to solve the transportation problems in the area.
APPLE COMPUTER OPENED its first store in Houston at 10:00 AM Saturday, and by 10:08, the TeraBlogger was already blogging how underwhelmed he was. They clearly need training from the folks in the Minneapolis branch.