January 31, 2002
He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning. The light did him harm, but not so much as looking at things did: he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.
January 30, 2002
In a somewhat surprising move, the Nevada Athletic Commission yesterday rejected Mike Tyson’s bid for a boxing license to fight Lennox Lewis in April. The fight would have given a much-needed boost to Vegas’ troubled tourism, but apparently yet another Tyson crazed rampage with ranting and cannibalism was just too much for the Commission to take.
Matters were probably not helped by Tyson arriving a half-hour late to the hearings and leaving early, but at least it’s better than back in 1997 when he skipped town and failed to show up at all. In any case, it’s a strong showing by the Commission, with the added bonus that whatever city ends up picking up the fight (that is, if Tyson even wants to fight Lewis) will know that they’re hosting an event even Las Vegas couldn’t stomach.
"In crucial cases…repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason's power fully to articulate it. [...] In this age in which everything is held to be permissible so long as it is freely done…repugnance may be the only voice left that speaks up to defend the central core of our humanity. [...] We are repelled by the prospect of cloning human beings not because of the strangeness or novelty of the undertaking, but because we intuit and feel, immediately and without argument, the violation of things that we rightfully hold dear."
From "The Wisdom of Repugnance," by Leon Kass, current Chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics.
Council Calls for Ban on Oysters on the Half Shell
"They’re just real slimy and icky," declared Leon Kass, Chairman of the President’s Bioethics Council. "Especially the raw ones. I mean….BLEH!"
President’s Council Comes Out Strongly Against Spandex Leggings with Stirrups
"I was standing in the Safeway checkout line behind some woman wearing these things, and I had to turn away before I hurled," explained Dr. Leon Kass, Chairman of the President’s Bioethics Council. "Seriously, it looked like eight cats fighting in a garbage bag!"
Bioethics Council Recommends House Arrest for Mariah Carey
Council Chairman Leon Kass presented the council’s findings in a strongly worded statement, "I mean, did you SEE "Glitter?" It was horrible beyond belief, and now she’s going to be in a movie with Marisa Tomei?! Have these people no sense of decency?"
Emergency Research Funding Needed to Eradicate "That Gunky Stuff that Feels Like Paste In Your Mouth When You Wake Up," Declares President’s Council
"Hello! You’re telling me we can put a man on the moon and I still gotta wake up feeling like I slept face-down in a vat of rubber cement? What’s up with that?" queried Leon Kass, Council Chairman.
January 29, 2002
Yesterday's business where a mis-formatted re-post of Tim Noah's Slate piece gave rise to plagiarism accusations, then my messages to the posters correcting them, and then retractions and the end of the matter, is a good instance (since I was involved!) of what you often observe — what a remarkable phenomenon is weblogging. A combination of publishing (since it's out there for public consumption, and thousands of people do read them) and intimate personal conversation (since my own quick research and email messages resulted in the retractions). Leaving aside all the hype over the last 5 years, I think it is really a new medium. I can't think of anything comparable. And it's weblogging that really seems to bring out these characteristics.
I’ve written my share of gushing posts about this exciting new medium, but somehow I don’t think I’d want to use this particular example to show why blogging is such a "remarkable phenomenon." Sure, from where Riley’s sitting the system works, since his quick response and the directness of the medium were essential in clearing up the incident, but it’s a bit disingenuous not to notice that it was those characteristics that created the incident to begin with; at best, it’s zero-sum, and almost certainly quite a bit less. The instantaneous call-and-response nature of blogging is the source for much of its success and appeal, but also has an obvious downside, evidenced in this incident.
Look, this Noah story isn’t a huge deal, and I’ll admit that had I been in that position I probably would have jumped on it, too. The blogger who first "broke the story" generally does excellent work and has owned up to this error with requisite and expert crow-eating (the phrase "I’m an IDIOT" was used, in fact). But if I cause an accident with my reckless driving, after which I’m able to rush my victims to the hospital in record time, I’m not going to stay up nights wondering why I haven’t been proclaimed a hero.
And if that doesn’t interest you, they also have a complete record of Elvis Presley’s visit to the Nixon White House.
January 28, 2002
Originally built for the 1962 World's Fair, Seattle is one of the few cities that offers a working monorail. The monorail operates on a short stretch between downtown and the Seattle Center (home of the Space Needle, Key Arena, Paul Allen's Experience Museum). When I lived there one of my favorite things to do was to rush to the front of the lead car so I could have the co-pilot's perspective as the train zipped through downtown. How I miss it so.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), it turns out that Noah had quoted Robert Novak properly, but the proper html tags had been deleted in the (admittedly misleading) MSNBC posting of the article, eliminating the blockquote indentations, making it appear as though Noah had lifted large chunks of text directly from Novak. Both bloggers quickly acknowledged the error with apologetic updates (as opposed to my what I might have done, which would have been to delete the offending posts, hope that Google hadn't cached them yet, and then put up about 25 other links and cheesecake shots as a distraction), and will almost certainly check a few more sources before going forth with their next scoop, a fine lesson for all of us would-be muckrakers.
The article uses Herold’s figures to bolster the argument that U.S. actions have led to a sacrifice of national honor, as summarized in a quote from former Army Major and current Susquehanna University associate philosophy professor Jeffrey Whitman: [It doesn’t serve U.S. interest] "to commit a whole bunch of casualties against civilian targets. Because then the terrorists can turn and point to us and say, see, you are no better than us. And that’s what this fight is all about. It’s about, actually, attaining the moral high ground." I've heard a number of different reasons and rationales, but this is the first time I've heard anybody suggest that our goal should be some vague concept of moral superiority.
January 26, 2002
January 25, 2002
That's why the following article brought a smile to my face. Okay, Princeton might be a world-renowned academic institution with a beautiful campus, but at least Rutgers students can sleep without injuring ourselves.
PRINCETON -- Contrary to Sir Isaac Newton's rule that a body at rest tends to remain at rest, two Princeton University students fell out of their bunk beds recently, prompting an e-mail reminder from the Ivy League school to be careful while sleeping.
Talk was run by a famous New York editor who was said to have an unerring feel for these things. So it must mean something that Talk tanked. It looks to me that what it means is the golden age of American celebrity is over at last. Or maybe it died some time ago and no one living in the caves noted above noticed. If we've learned anything from Enron it's that people who earn their daily bread by conjuring another fantasy before heading home--offshore shell companies, another Brad Pitt cover--also have a way of pretending that the fat lady couldn't possibly ever sing for them.
Or it could mean that Tina Brown went to the well one time too many (People still has the highest ad revenue of any magazine, and the Oprah, and Martha Stewart magazines are doing very well), or that Enron finally ran out of shells, or any one of a thousand things. The piece reminds me of nothing as much as the myopic bleatings commonly heard on the 24-hour cable financial news networks: the Dow’s up three points! It’s boomtime! Wait, NASDAQ’s dropped five points! Batten down the hatches!
Henninger’s main point seems to be that the modern age of celebrity begin with Muhammad Ali, whose standards nobody since has been able to match. Or perhaps it’s that television created a new type of celebrity who wasn’t able to live up to the standards of the earlier movie stars and athletes. Or that since the bar for fame is now so low, the age of celebrity is dead. Or maybe something else; I can’t quite figure it out. Perhaps when the increasingly terrifying Joan Rivers is no longer allowed to roam free I might accept that we've come to the end of an age of celebrity, but not one second sooner.
Anyway, what really caught my eye about the piece was that besides the aforementioned Mariah and Tina, Henninger managed to squeeze in Muhammad Ali, Brad Pitt, Britney Spears, Will Smith, Russell Crowe, Josh Hartnett, Benicio del Toro, Madonna, Prince, Drew Barrymore, Tonya Harding, The Beatles, Elvis, Barbara Walters, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Jeffords, Emeril, J.Lo, Fergie, Dwight Yoakam, Howard Cosell, Prince Harry, Frank Sinatra's granddaughter, Anna Kournikova, Alberto Giacometti and, of course, Andy Warhol and his "world-famous for 15 minutes" remark. This impressive display certainly qualifies Henninger for some sort of Googlebait award.
January 24, 2002
"The BBC's decision to name The Tweenies' dog Squiggles could cost them up to £500,000."
Yes, it's Incomprehensible (at least to Americans) Foreign Entertainment News, exclusively at The Donk!
Update: New Jersey dissed! So I arrive home to find the new issue in my mailbox and what do I find? Sure, Kidd is on the cover...standing in front of the New York skyline! Would it have killed SI to pose him in front of some sort of Jersey location, or maybe show him playing Skee-Ball or something? Sheesh.
When Art Becomes Inhuman, by Karl Zinsmeister, from The American Enterprise.
Many of today’s avant-garde artists, I’ve decided, have modeled themselves on that well-known societal fixture, the snot-nosed teenager. Since the 1960s, the hippest modern art has aspired to exactly what every garden-variety 13-year-old brat aims for: maximum opportunities to shock, flout, insult, and otherwise chuck rocks at polite society. And so “artists” spread American flags on the floor and invited gallery and museum patrons to walk on them. “Sculptors” stacked bricks in low heaps and convinced collectors to pay bags of money for something they could have made themselves after a shopping trip to Home Depot. Damien Hirst piled up empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, and other garbage at a party and it was instantly proclaimed a valuable sculpture. Fraternity brothers everywhere, you have a future!
I See Lowbrow People by Doug Harvey, from L.A. Weekly.
While the squabbling factions of the academic/gallery/museum/critical nexus known as "The Art World" argue about who’s on top this week, an entire spectrum of parallel systems of production and distribution is operating outside TAW’s rapidly eroding authority. Whole subcultures devoted to folk and outsider art, landscape painting, public art commissions, "crafts," nature photography, and cowboy art thrive in spite of the sometimes open derision of the entrenched arbiters of "historically significant" art practice. The most ornery of these alternate realities is the globally widespread movement often called "Lowbrow," whose roots go back to California custom-car and surfing culture, particularly the cartoonish grotesqueries of the late hot-rod surrealist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.
The Follies of Modern Art: a Bilious Harangue by James Lileks.
Nowadays, art that prompts "controversy" usually has one thing in common: it’s bad. Bad in conception or bad in execution, and frequently bad in both. Many in the arts world believe it is necessary to defend bad art , just like it is necessary to defend unpopular speech. On the contrary: it is necessary to attack bad art in the interests of raising the general level of quality in art. These, of course, are nasty code words - "bad" and "quality" are subjective judgments, and cannot be uniformly defined. Well, let me make a start: a. If art contains shit, we should take it at its word.
January 23, 2002
January 22, 2002
NEW BRUNSWICK/PISCATAWAY, N.J. – "The Art of Science – Images from the Protein Data Bank," an exhibit of artwork based on molecular structures, will open Monday (Jan. 21) at The Gallery in the Busch Campus Center, 604 Bartholomew Road, Piscataway. The exhibit is free and open to the public, as is a reception scheduled Wednesday (Jan. 23) from 4 to 6 p.m.
January 21, 2002
I have to admit I'm a bit unclear about Henley's argument. His leading point seems to be that the track record of government terrorist investigations simply doesn’t warrant entrusting the authorities with that sort of power, with the Higazy case being the current example (though it appears that coercive interrogative methods approaching torture were used to elicit some sort of confession).
I’m not really sure how he moves from that point to the doomsday scenario he describes, however. His argument seems to be that if we take the step of allowing torture in order to prevent potential attacks, there will still be situations (imagine a worst-case Higazy scenario) where this leads us to make wrong choices, hypothesizing a case where a torture-induced false confession leads agents down a blind alley with disastrous consequences. But even if this were the case, it’s not as if investigation is the zero-sum game he describes, where we have to throw all of our resources at one location. Some of his statements indicate that he has a moral position against using torture, while others indicate that his take is a more practical one.
I suppose that Henley’s position on torture might be similar to my recent shift on the death penalty. While I have no true moral stance against the death penalty, a history of errors and bias have led to a nagging feeling that for the vast majority of cases the system simply can’t be trusted with this ultimate power. That being said, there are occasional extreme cases where the case is clear and the death penalty is justified.
Anyway, I suppose that Henley is busy now with his shiny new InstaPundit and Justin Raimondo links. And more power to him.
January 19, 2002
Another mystery is why the name of the Millenium Hilton Hotel features an incorrectly spelled "millennium," but I'll let this go for now.
Well anyway, in a blatant ripoff of Unremitting Verse, I've decided to present my baseless speculation in limerick form:
An Egyptian named Abdallah Higazy,
Drove a poor hotel clerk crazy.
The clerk planted some props,
And then screamed to the cops,
"Go arrest him! Or are you just lazy?"
January 18, 2002
All of the news reports I saw and read indicated that Abdallah Higazy was released yesterday after another guest, a private pilot, claimed that the radio that was found in Higazy’s room safe was his. This raised the obvious question: how did the radio get into Higazy’s room safe to begin with? Here’s the AP report, which seems to have been the basis for yesterday’s news reports:
Detainee Forgives FBI for Detention
By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Shouting "nothing tops freedom,'' an Egyptian student forgave the FBI on Thursday for throwing him in jail after an aviation radio was found in his hotel room near the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.
This is where that fine word "allegedly" would come in handy. A private pilot staying one floor below Higazy, who had no knowledge of either the case or Higazy, inquired about his missing aviation radio, at which point investigators questioned the hotel employee who had originally discovered the radio. According to the Times, "On Wednesday morning, the case fell apart completely. Agents reinterviewed the hotel employee and he said he recalled finding the radio on a table in Mr. Higazy's room, not in the safe."
So this case might be a simple mistake, an investigative screwup, a plant by an attention-seeking hotel employee, or something else entirely. I'm guessing that the FBI isn't finished talking to that hotel employee.
Anthony, Kieran, Scott and I spent countless hours at Dunkin’ Donuts, Denny’s, Point Pleasant, and various living rooms (though rarely Anthony’s, due to his dog’s almost maniacal hatred of me). They’re what I think of when I think back to those days: good, smart people, great conversations, and tons of laughs. After high school Kieran went to college in western Pennsylvania, then headed down south for graduate school, a teaching position, and marriage; Anthony got married soon after high school and moved to Atlanta; Scott stayed in central New Jersey; I ended up in Seattle, then back here in Jersey.
Though I had seen each of them occasionally over the last ten years, it takes something either very good or very bad to unite the entire group, and unfortunately this time it was the latter. Earlier this week Anthony’s mother, a fine woman, passed away peacefully after a long illness, which brought us all together in New Jersey for the first time in ten years. On Wednesday we went out for a long, enjoyable dinner in Freehold, where we talked about our lives, faith, family, September 11, pork roll, and, of course, the familiar litany of my embarrassing school days (the bowling fall, the lunchroom fall, the reckless driving ticket…they’ll be talking about those at our 50-year reunion). It was a wonderful, too-rare, experience.
The reason I'm posting this is because without Anthony, there would be no Illuminated Donkey. There might be some kind of blog, but Anthony was the man who originally gave me the official Illuminated Donkey that has served me so well over the years. Thank you, Sir.
January 17, 2002
January 16, 2002
So what is von Hoffman’s best example of how thoroughly this bias has already been covered by the very media that commits it?
"Bernie, Bernie, Bernie, you are not exposing liberal bias to the light of day for the first time. Indeed, television itself acknowledges it and uses it to provide viewers with some marvelous entertainment. If you haven’t seen any of the episodes in the cable series Beggars and Choosers, you’ll do yourself a favor by dialing on this funny, funny comedy built around life in the West Coast headquarters of a major television network. is funny, funny comedy built around life in the West Coast headquarters of a major television network. You will see the caving in to screech-owl feminism, the ass-kissing of ethnic-minority-rights racketeers […], the kowtowing to preposterous claims of political homosexuality, the whole nine yards of craven, cotton-headed, automatic reflex liberalism."
Sounds great, but wondering where you might catch this seemingly groundbreaking show? It might be tough, especially because Beggars and Choosers, a short-lived Showtime series, was cancelled last February, and I believe now only appears in reruns on one of the auxiliary Showtime networks (Showcase).
So I guess von Hoffman’s point is that Goldberg needn’t have bothered writing the best-selling Bias, which has garnered huge media attention, since the topic has already been completely covered by a nearly unknown, now-defunct cable television show. Makes sense to me.
January 15, 2002
A country where the fruit hung so heavy on the trees, an old man once told me, that when it fell to the ground nobody bothered to pick it up, but people simply walked through carpets of mulberry slush, like the rest of us wade through mud or snow at certain times of year. A country where there was crime, to be sure, but where a kind-hearted king pardoned every convicted murderer except one, a case where the family of the victim refused to grant permission for a death sentence to be lifted.
These memories, gilded with nostalgia, sustained Afghans for so long.
Not to deny a troubled people their dreams, but it seems a golden age that included blanket pardons of convicted murderers, as well as the wasting of natural resources (not to mention the accompanying mess and odor) might not be the best foundation to build a future on.
Bush team may have feared Enron aid.
by Marcy Gordon, Jan. 14, 2002 | WASHINGTON (AP)
The meltdown of Enron Corp. threatened broader financial problems, but administration officials chose to do nothing -- even after being reminded by Enron that the government intervened in 1998 to prevent the collapse of a big fund for wealthy investors.
Fears of a conflict of interest involving a big Bush donor may have led to the inaction, analysts suggest.
Because of Enron's heavy donations to President Bush's campaigns, administration officials "were tied at the hip to Enron," said Bill Allison, an official of the private Center for Public Integrity. That made it hard to help. "The appearance would have looked terrible," Allison said. "They felt that they couldn't act on behalf of Enron because of the political fallout."
January 14, 2002
But the biggest story is Arthur Andersen, the auditor in this case. How did such a long-standing pattern of "accounting irregularities" get past one of the so-called Big-5 accounting firms for so long? As a company, Andersen is history. It doesn't really matter whether they get sued out of existence because their reputation is irretrievably shattered. Any company which has Andersen as its official auditor will be changing to someone else as soon as possible. Without business, the company is finished.
January 12, 2002
Scores has established a reputation for providing a quality-assured environment that we feel will expand well into the markets we have targeted," said Internet Advisory Corp.'s chairman and chief executive, Richard Goldring in a release Thursday.
Somehow, though, I can't see strip clubs taking down their flashing "Topless!" neon signs and replacing them with "Quality-Assured Environment!" ones.
There is even less joy in the newsroom, where more than half the paper's reporters, photographers and editors will soon be updating their résumés. "It's like there's a big, fat dead elephant in the middle of the newsroom," said Sally Deering, 49, a scrappy, raspy-voiced columnist who writes in the same unvarnished way she speaks. "It feels like death warmed over."
I've never even read Deering and already I miss her. Well, at least I should have plenty of local material to write about. How could you not look forward to living in a city where a former mayor is described in an aside by the Times as "one of the few Jersey City mayors left untouched by scandal."
January 10, 2002
Hmm...I definitely seem to be posting more blog-related items lately. I know most readers have come to The Donk from different blogs and are familiar with many of them (and my friends are used to be being confused by me, anyway), but I think I need to make an effort to move away from this a bit.
The discussion is certainly worth either ripping apart or ignoring completely, filled with the standard assortment of above-it-all self-satisfied ruminations, with a few Australian references mixed in for good measure (the panel, as well as Blair, are all Australian, of course). Rather than pick apart a few choice bits of nonsense, Blair instead includes the entire, lengthy transcript, and then proceeds to insert heckling comebacks into the text, the columnists’ equivalent of drawing mustaches on campaign posters. And while there are one or two decent and relevant lines, for the most part Blair is content to offer up a personal insult or interject some nonsense:
MAXINE McKEW: Well, I was just going to say, aren't you putting a lot on one man? I mean, why do we only look for leadership from the political class?
LINDA JAIVIN: I think, you know, Australians never look to cultural figures for leadership. You know, we look to sports figures for leadership.
TIM BLAIR: Linda, given the quality of cultural figures around this table, it'd be more sensible if we looked to sports equipment for leadership.
MARION HALLIGAN: We don't look to articulate people for leadership but I suppose we are thinking of this because we've just had an election where I think there was no vision, there was no imagination and I felt it was a very low point, that there was no sense of any ideas, let alone ideals.
TIM BLAIR: (whispering) Marion, take your hand off my knee!
And so on. Here’s another example, with my addition.
MARION HALLIGAN: In a way, we are them, aren't we? I mean, my grandfather was a boat person. My great-great-grandfather was a boat person of a kind.
LINDA JAIVIN: I'm a migrant.
TIM BLAIR: I'm a moon alien.
KEN GOLDSTEIN: Hey Tim, you’re ugly and your feet stink! And yer mudder wears combat boots! Nyah!
I mean, sure this is fun to do, but it’s certainly not fair or insightful and barely even counts as commentary.
If I’ve been writing more blog-related items lately, it’s because I’m becoming disappointed by attitude shifts I’ve seen the last few weeks in some of my favorites. I’ve recommended several of the big sites lately to friends, and the response I’ve been getting is that while the form is promising and some of the information is valuable, much of it is wrapped in a self-congratulatory tone that leaves a bad taste in their mouths. In any case, the reaction is certainly a lot different than when I was reading and forwarding these same sites a month or two ago.
Of course, the attitude is a big part of what makes the form so valuable and readable, but lately I've read too much writing from people utterly convinced of their rightness, flush with the knowledge that their readers would readily agree and applaud. It's attitudes like that which turned me off to most other forms of news and commentary. Though my comments only refer to a small percentage of what I'm reading, that small percentage goes a long way.
January 09, 2002
"The Lost Promise of the American Railroad" The potential and ultimate abandonment of the streamline train in the United States.
"The Selling of the KGB" A deeper look at the wave of Soviet espionage literature arising from the KGB archives.
"The Dust Bowl Myth" The reality and myths of the Depression.
"The Forgotten Forerunner" An overdue study of William Jennings Bryan, a political pioneer.
Some weapons would be stored, not destroyed.
By Walter Pincus, THE WASHINGTON POST
WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 — The Bush administration told Congress yesterday that many of the warheads, bombs and intercontinental missiles involved in the president’s promised two-thirds reduction of deployed strategic nuclear forces over the next 10 years would be kept in reserve under its new strategic policy, according to congressional sources.
January 08, 2002
The Illuminated Donkey: Pieces about sports and Star Wars geeks, as well as the rash of "Pundit" blogs. There's a big honking piece about the whole circus thread, and now I want to go to sleep.
Some notes on the balloting (besides the fact that I'm now officially old, since there are now HOFers whose entire careers I witnessed):
Steve Garvey and Dale Murphy, both considered by many to be sure HOFers during their playing days, are earning little respect, with 28% and 15% respectively (75% needed for election).
Speaking of Murphy, is the consensus really that Jim Rice was that much better a player? Rice received over 55% and will probably get in within a couple of years. Though I always thought the two had an equally decent chance at election, I guess Murphy's almost instantaneous collapse at the end of his career has stuck in voters' minds, as opposed to the two MVP's.
One player who should be getting more support is Bert Blyleven (third all-time in K's, 287 wins, 3.31 career ERA), a damn good pitcher for some bad teams.
Very disappointing to see Lenny Dykstra only get one vote (hell, Mike Greenwell got two!). I know he isn't anywhere near the HOF, but he was one of my favorite players back in his Phillies days, and was hoping he'd at least stay on the ballot for a year or two.
Here's Rob Neyer's take on the voting, as well as the very unofficial Baseball Prospectus voting.
So anyway, that's how I've felt the last day reading the latest target of blogger whack-a-mole: animal rights activists, an instigated by Collin Levey's Opinion Journal piece, "Anticircus Freaks." Fresh off the latest attacks of Cornell West and Stephanie Salter, the blog-mob saw fresh blood, so to speak, in PETA and other assorted groups, and moved in for the kill. While I have no love for the animal-rights movement, the gloating, yay-meat attitude and vindictive response elicited by the slanted article has left me a little cold.
Levey's article portrays Ringling Brothers as the poor, besieged little group bravely going about their job of entertaining America despite unwarranted harassment from vicious and vengeful animal-rights groups. Until now, that is, since they can't stand no more, and they've begun taking on the groups with a series of full-page newspaper ads. In truth, Ringling Brothers' behavior has been far from stoic, with tactics that have gone far beyond simple PR campaigns. The Salon story "The Greatest Vendetta on Earth" details the company's owner's obsession with surveillance and revenge, and the eight-year campaign to ruin an author who had reported critically about the organization and its owners. (Thanks to Justin Slotman for reminding me about this article
The company didn't only spy on nosy journalists, however. Keep in mind, Levey has earlier said that "Ringling Brothers is not easily provoked" and that the company saw dealing with animal-rights groups and the "subsequent
public-relations skirmishes as just another cost of doing business in the modern world."
"The fun doesn't stop there. […] In another amusing twist, PETA filed a lawsuit this summer accusing Ringling Bros. of espionage, after the company hired the CIA's Reagan-era special-ops director to infiltrate PETA with moles to find out about future activities."
Imagine those "screeching," "snarling" activists, being so ridiculous to accuse Ringling Brothers of espionage when all the company did was sic A FREAKING FORMER SPECIAL OPERATIONS DIRECTOR OF THE CI-FREAKING-A on them! What a silly little prank!
As for the abuse charges, while there's no point in me trying to summarize reams of data and arguments in this forum, I'll just say that what I've seen makes me unable to dismiss the complaints out of hand, as opposed to Mr. Levey, whose article reads like it came straight from the Ringling Brothers PR department. Unfortunately, little of what I read has bothered to make any sort of argument or address any issues, but has simply been used as an opportunity to pile on the lefties. I had hoped for a bit more from the crowd besides the assorted knee-jerk victory dances from the past few days.
January 07, 2002
Now, you're probably thinking: two geeks with nothing better to do than sit outside a movie theater for 136 days waiting for the sequel to a movie that practically nobody liked. But wait, it's actually an art project about two geeks with nothing better to do than sit outside a movie theater for 136 days waiting for the sequel to a movie that practically nobody liked:
"Waiting for Star Wars is an art project designed to capture the evolution and journey of one person's wait for a single event. [...] This project also explores the issue of the pursuit of happiness. It asks how much will a person sacrifice for a temporary acquisition, and questions whether a person can be happy with just food and shelter in pursuit of that acquisition. [...] Finally, as we move into the next millennium, I wonder if our fast-paced society has become unwilling to slow down and wait for the things that bring us the greatest joy. This wait will test my mettle as I attempt to do just that."
The most boring video footage in history will be available at www.waitingforstarwars.com.
As a side note, my favorite line in the ABC News article I linked to is, "They were unavailable for comment." Two guys are sitting outside a movie theater for four months and they're unavailable for comment?
What does this have to do with blogging, you may ask. Well, during the course of my reading today I scanned InstaPundit, QuasiPundit, Muslimpundit, SmarterPundit, HappyFunPundit, and starting today, DailyPundit (formerly The Blogical Suspects).
The Blogical Suspects, an Illuminated Donkey Best Bet, officially changed its name today (though the link won't change until next week), due to a general regret at picking "a pun of painful dimensions" for a name, and just in case The Wall Street Journal should happen to call. Hey, William, I received a semi-respectable media mention that mentioned my silly blog name, so it's an obstacle that can be overcome (though this site does abbreviate to ID as opposed to BS).
"And for all their virtues, playoffs aren't perfect either. Many people argue that playoffs reward teams "that are playing the best right now," as Colorado was before Tuesday night. But rewarding teams who luck into getting hot at season's end (instead of excelling consistently over the whole season) can also lead to ridiculous outcomes. Recall the 2000 NCAA basketball tournament, when a moderately good Wisconsin squad got on a hot streak...and made it all the way to the Final Four. Was Wisconsin really one of the top 4 teams in college basketball that year--or even one of the top 8 or 16? No way."
Apart from the fact I've never heard anybody talk about teams getting hot at playoff time (or "lucking into getting hot") as an argument against the playoffs themselves, I guess Bockhorn's point is that playoffs would be a perfect system if only those darn underdogs wouldn't keep mucking things up by winning when they weren't supposed to.
January 06, 2002
January 05, 2002
In case you're wondering when exactly everything will once again be like it was, the FBI has named March 11 as the official date:
U.S. to remain on high alert till March 11
WASHINGTON (AP) — The government has called on law enforcement personnel across the nation to remain vigilant against domestic terrorism until March 11, extending a standing alert through the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
So apparently as of March 12, law enforcement officials will no longer have to be vigilant against terrorist acts. Whew! That's a relief!
Other signs of the complete reversion (Project 9/10): Zacarias Moussaoui wants trial shown on TV and brittle Secret Service agents claiming discrimination, making life even more difficult for the Job-like American Airlines.
Great show of support by Bush there, by the way. Three freaking days earlier Richard Reid tries to blow up an American Airlines flight, and Bush basically hangs AA out to dry for the horrible crime of making a suspicious passenger take a later flight, saying he stands by his agent and would be "madder than heck" if it turns out the agent's ethnicity played any part in the incident. Nothing like adding the fear of frivolous anti-discrimination lawsuits to the mix to really improve airline security. The fact that a man who is supposed to put the protection of the President above even his own life is doing this is an absolute disgrace.
"In 776 B.C., the Greek states of Elis and Pisa were at war. This was not unusual by any means. What was unusual was this: In honour of the forthcoming Olympic games, both sides agreed to lay down their arms and allow participants to pass through enemy territory unharmed. This became a tradition, and in over 1,000 years of ancient Olympic competition, this sacred truce, known as the ekcheiria, was never violated. We invite the countries of the world to embrace this ancient tradition once more by suspending all hostilities during the Olympic games. If we can stop fighting for 16 days, maybe we can do it forever. The Olympics."
The reasons this type of plea is misguided were covered fairly well back during the pre-Ramadan period. The war against terrorism isn't some random whim of ours, but and attempt to find and stop people who are trying to kill us. Besides, this is the Winter Olympics we're talking about here; I kind of doubt that Al Qaeda, not to mention India, Pakistan, Israel, and the Palestinians, are going to stop whatever they're doing in order to watch some Swedish guy can go sledding down a hill.
But anyway, back to the terrible ad placement: to give you a little background, in between making fun of the stupid and putting naked teens on the air, Opie and Anthony have been loudly and consistently in support of the military action since the beginning, as have most of their guests and on-air callers. So when this Olympic ad was played it was greeted with complete dismissal and derision, and the next half-hour was spent bashing it from every angle. Rather heartening, really.
January 03, 2002
Of course, that's what pretty much everybody was saying before the game even started, since Nebraska finished fourth in both the writers' and coaches' polls, but finished second in the BCS standings, the only poll that counts. No matter what happened tonight it wouldn't have stopped the grumbling about the BCS, but a dull disaster like tonight might be the impetus for some sort of brief playoff system. Hell, when the network announcers start questioning the system at halftime, you know something ain't right.
January 02, 2002
Now, that being said, I need to take issue with the point he makes in his first post, giving the reason behind his starting SmarterPundit. Bittker takes issue with the widely discussed idea that blogging has changed the composition of the media, giving the "outsiders" a voice. Bittker's argument is that since most, if not all of the "major" bloggers (a narrowly defined group of about eight or so blogs) are also published regularly in more widely seen publications, then these outsiders are really insiders, leaving the true voice of blogging to outsiders such as himself. From this point he deduces that "the reason the above are all well read is because of their other writings," while at the same time (in the same sentence, even) stating that he came across the big blogs through Slate's Mezine Central roundup.
Now, it's true that many bloggers also have regular paid writing gigs, but even if you focus on only the most-read ones it's highly unlikely that they obtained most of their readers from these other writings. Certainly Mickey Kaus and Andrew Sullivan would probably fall into this category, but I hadn't heard of Glenn Reynolds, Josh Marshall, or Virginia Postrel -- at least not more than a passing reference or an article -- before I came across their sites through links on Slate or other sites. It's the same kind of reasoning found in indie rock (I'm waiting to hear the first cry of "sellout" thrown at a blogger), that once more than a handful of people start reading a site it can no longer be considered "outsider," and falls into the same category as The New York Times and the network news reports A definite change has taken place in the media world over the past few months, and if some sites become popular and influential this seems like proof of the change, rather than proof that nothing has changed.
I keep referring to Bittker's focus on the major bloggers, which brings up the other thing I find a little odd about the site. For somebody who's starting a blog about blogs, he doesn't seem to have much curiosity about them outside of the A-list. InstaPundit, for example yet again, has links to about two-dozen sites, including great ones such as U.S.S. Clueless and Matt Welch's Warblog, yet he had never gotten around to checking out, say, the excellent and fairly well-known (at least around these parts) QuasiPundit until they mentioned him. It's sort of self-fulfilling that blogs will seem to be a new form of insider media if you only read the most popular ones.
Ah well, more power to him. Bastard's probably already gotten more hits and mail than me...
Now, the more observant and Northeastern among you will have already said, "Wait a minute! New Year's Day?! Philadelphia?! Drunken 50-year-old Irish guys wearing harlequin costumes with feather-covered angel wings?! That can only mean one thing: MUMMERS!" Yes, the Philadelphia Mummers Parade, a New Year's tradition for over 100 breathtakingly strange years. The Mummers Parade, an event that's huge inside Philadelphia and almost virtually unknown outside, lasts over 12 hours and involves groups competing in a dizzyingly complex variety of categories, pretty much all of which seem to involve the aforementioned drunk 50-year-old Irish guys wearing feathers. We didn't actually see any of the parade proper (at least not live, though we did catch some of the wall-to-wall local coverage), but we ate at a diner near the parade route end, so we were able to see some of the aftermath. Ah, nothing gets me ready for eggs benedict like a smashed, overall made-up fat guy doing the two step down the middle of a busy street.
As an amusing side note, the worst beating I ever saw a guy get was at the other New Year's Day I spent in Philly, back in 1996. The Eagles had just destroyed the Lions in the Wild Card and were getting ready for a big game against the Cowboys (which they would lose 30-11). Geoff, Shannon, and I were watching the parade when I noticed the extremely bizarre sight of some guy wearing a Cowboys jersey in Philadelphia. I turned to notify Geoff, so that he may have a story to tell his grandkids, but by the time we turned back the man was invisible beneath a sea of fists and boots, all wielded by men wearing Eagles green. There's a lesson there, folks.
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