Saturday, November 30, 2002

A PRICE WAR between bus companies targeting Chinese immigrant customers has led to $15 round-trip bus fares from DC to NY, Chinatown to Chinatown. That's cheaper than the highway tolls alone.
INCIDENTALLY, APROPOS of the previous entry, the music in the "French Dictionary" Levi's commercial is "Playground Love" by Air. bit the dust and no one told me. It was a nifty site where one could look up advertisements, including names of songs in ads, or catch funny advertisements that people were talking about but you had somehow missed. It's funny that people have had so much trouble finding a way to commercialize content-providing sites, increasingly having to rely on annoying pop-up, pop-under, or, in the case of Slate, screen-obscuring advertising, and here's a site that couldn't make a go of it even though the content was the commercial.
DAVID FRUM IS appropriately upset at a typical New York Times headline:
“Killing Underscores Enmity of Evangelists and Muslims.” Yes, those missionaries and those Muslims really hate each other: Bonnie Witherall showed her hatred by offering free prenatal care to indigent Lebanese; the local Muslim clerics were naturally goaded by this outrage and killed her.
The new Smarter Harper's Index is up.

Friday, November 29, 2002

MINUTES AFTER THE Anter family arrived at their hotel, their vacation was ruined by a suicide bomber. Dvir, 14, and Nor, 12, were killed; their mother is unconscious in an Israeli hospital. BBC coverage.
SO IS EVERYONE getting the "Spin the Dreydel" Orbitz pop-up ad, or do I have a hidden cookie that tells the world that a Jew is using the browser?
ON-LINE GROCERIES IN 2002? If you remember the multi-billion-dollar bubble valuations for Webvan and the like, you may scoff, but FreshDirect seems to have an interesting business model focusing on Manhattan, where grocery prices are abnormally high and there's a demand for quality foodstuffs. Deliveries are on weekends and nights only, increasing the efficiency of the drivers, who avoid rush-hour jams.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

HENRY KISSINGER? Henry Kissinger is going to chair the panel investigating intelligence lapses that led up to 9/11? I guess this is just another of those brilliant moves from the Moral Clarity Administration. (Or is it rope-a-dope this week?) Next up, key roles will be found for James Baker and other realpolitik veterans from H.W.'s days.
ANOTHER WEDDING ENGAGEMENT brought about by blogging -- this time it's Sasha Castel and Andrew Ian Dodge, who met each other entirely through the blogosphere. Sasha swears it's true and Jane Galt is spreading the cheer as well. All the best from Combustible Boy, you crazy wacky kids.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

I DON'T KNOW HOW Matt Welch beat me to blogging about Garance Franke-Ruta's take-down of Bowling for Columbine, but he did. Small world, etc., etc.

Smarting from the dis by the Yale Law Blog convention, I've been sunning it up in LA for a few days: blog-encounters with Welch, Emmanuelle, Howard Owens, and the always-gorgeous Cathy Seipp at a German beer-garden; and Captain Spaulding was kind enough to treat me to a tasty meal of Guatemalan fried chicken. Moxie is apparently sufficiently smitten with her new beau that she stood me up twice.

I also had a retroactive encounter with Nick Denton; I apparently met him a few months ago at a sushi bar in New York, where he was introduced to me as "Nick," and I was introduced to him with my real name by a mutual film-director friend, and we went our separate ways. The film-director recently sent out a party invitation cc'ing both of us and, in discussing it with her ("Wow, not only are you a hot award-winning film director, but you also know Nick Denton, so now I'm really impressed"), I learned that we already met. Who knew?
LONDON MAYOR KEN LIVINGSTONE says the Miss World riots in Nigeria were so obscene that the contest organizers should call off the show altogether rather than holding it in London:
Mr Livingstone said it was obscene that the organisers should now attempt to stage the contest at all.

"After the violence and terrible loss of life in Nigeria, the staging of a Miss World event in this city is not welcome," he said.

"It defies belief that after Miss World has brought tragedy and strife to Africa its organisers should think it appropriate to carry on with the razzamataz as if nothing had happened."
What? Miss World brought tragedy and strife to Africa? An international event that could have brought much-needed attention and investment to that part of the world -- and was shut down only because a radical, wildly intolerant version of Islam has also taken hold there? This sort of obscene victim-blaming is what truly "defies belief".
WORKERS IN A SENATE SUBBASEMENT chamber -- an obscure room that's being demolished to make way for the new visitor's center -- have stumbled upon an amazing find: what appear to be Senate paylists from the very first Congress on up to the mid-1950s:
They looked at the title of the volume, stamped in gold on the spine:

"Senators Compensation and Mileage."

Yeah, right.


Within minutes, Senate Historian Richard Baker was examining the find. And yesterday, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) was displaying the volume to reporters while archivists wearing white gloves turned the pages for the cameras. Also on display were 59 additional books with records through the mid-1950s that were found in the same underground room.

The first volume is probably the only document with the signatures of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, not to mention subsequent Senate luminaries like John C. Calhoun. All were vice presidents and, therefore, presidents of the Senate. So all had to sign requisitions for senators' pay and mileage reimbursements.

"It is, literally, priceless," Daschle said. "It came within a whisker of being totally destroyed."
Indeed. An incredible discovery.
WHAT DO YOU DO when your TiVo thinks you're gay? I guess cutting back on the SpongeBob would be a good start, Mr. "Straightest Guy On Earth".

Monday, November 25, 2002

We are the Beagles!
Long and strong and proud!
We are the Beagles!
Our voices are quite loud!
GOOGLE BY PHONE! Doesn't work all that well just yet. I guess that's why it's in the "labs" section.
SOME GUY IN CONNECTICUT sculpts tiny little artworks from pencil points. He doesn't use a magnifying glass or any such thing, either. I'm willing to bet that at some point someone said, "Dalton, you really just need to find yourself a hobby," and now they're kicking themselves for not being more specific.

Update: Found a new link to replace the previous one, which had expired. Also, here's the guy's personal site.
TODAY'S WAPO HAS THE GOODS on a chain-smoking would-be Iraqi liberator who's currently stuck in Denmark:
Once he was the most senior officer of Saddam Hussein's army, with a row of ribbons across his chest, a million Iraqi soldiers under his command, and the respect and admiration of a nation. Then he fell out with the Iraqi leader and fled abroad -- lured, he said, by promises from the CIA of support to lead the grand revolt that would topple the dictator and restore Iraq to greatness. He would be Iraq's Charles de Gaulle.

Nizar Khazraji, 64, says he is ready to play the role that his entire life has prepared him for, that the time is ripe now that Washington and the world are applying new pressure on the faltering government. But he is going nowhere. For the general has a past, and a pursuer.

He faces allegations that he played a role in the Anfal, the brutal campaign against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq in which Hussein's forces slaughtered more than 100,000 civilians, razed hundreds of villages and sprayed poison gas. He has been released on his own recognizance but ordered to remain in Denmark.

He says he is innocent, the victim of false accusations by Hussein's agents and by rivals in the fractious and fratricidal world of Iraqi opposition groups, and of a right-of-center Danish government that is determined to show it is not soft on immigrants in general and an accused war criminal in particular.
Frankly, though I acknowledge that we have to work with some unsavory characters if we're going to continue to taking part in this sort of geopolitics, I'd say that the U.S. shouldn't ignore these war-crimes accusations if they turn out to have legs. Sticking to realpolitik in the Middle East helped get us into this mess in the first place -- supporting Nizar Khazraji just because he's a credible opponent to Saddam isn't necessarily a better long-term idea than supporting Saddam as a credible opponent to Khomeini was two decades ago. I'd rather see some more of that vaunted "moral clarity" that Bush allegedly showed a year ago (and has continually undermined with every friendly gesture toward the 7,000 Saudi princes since then).

And hey! On a related note, our Norse demigod Vegard Valberg has returned with posts on Iranian versus Chinese revolutionaries as well as another Grauniad take on the Mother of All Battles II.
THE WSJ REPORTS ON how passenger-jet designers use various trompe l'oeil techniques to convince passengers that the planes are roomier than they actually are. Unstated is how the designers managed to convince the WSJ reporters that these techniques are actually successful.

(Actually, the fact that the only planes I've flown on since reaching adulthood were old Airbus jets might have something to do with my cynicism in this regard.)
HALLELUJAH, IT LOOKS LIKE time has finally solved what Dubya and Laura never could:
Cheers to the Bush twins, who turn 21 tomorrow and can finally throw away their fake IDs.

Jenna and Barbara Bush, whose hijinx have given their presidential father headaches, will finally reach legal age and can have a cocktail without worrying about the cops.
Travelocity's got some last-minute deals on trips to Austin...
MORNING BLOGWATCHING: Cinderella Bloggerfeller's machine-translated "Axis of Porcel HQ" blog is moving beyond its original mandate of archiving Catalonian writer Baltasar Porcel's inscrutable work. Having recently auto-translated a piece by sociologist Eulàlia Solé, Bloggerfeller notes with approval that "Google Tools, with a literalism bordering on the surrealist, insists on translating [Solé's name] as 'Eulalia I Paved'." That reminds me of the time I tested out Babelfish on a Spanish-language newspaper article about George Carey, who at the time was Archbishop of Canterbury, and the translator insisted on referring to him as "George Sea turtle". (Bloggerfeller's main blog remains, as always, invaluable for Cinderella's painstaking legitimate translations of interesting work that would otherwise be unavailable in English.)

In other news, Damian Penny has discovered what Jesus would really drive, and Lair wants you to help him win an argument with his wife by suggesting more movie sequels that were better than the originals.