JOURNAL: Current | Archives

30 March 2002

MT

I just completed the upgrade to Movable Type v.2.0. That was painless! It took a couple of minutes to upload the new files to the proper directories. It took about 10 seconds for the upgrade to run and be ready to go.

The Trotts are good.

I don't think I'm going to get around to the stylesheet changes or that PDA-friendly front page for Reductio tonight, however. I got a little carried away posting Books and Arts links that have been riding around in my PDA to Reductio. That's always the problem, isn't it? Too busy posting to fix things!

[Posted at 22:59 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

The Sampson Choke

Kudos to Indiana for stomping favored Oklahoma today.

But come on -- did anyone really expect Kelvin Sampson to beat a team that NOBODY gave a chance to win? Sampson does a great job of coaching when he has a chip on his shoulder. No respect in the Big 12 this year? Take it out on Kansas in the Big 12 title game. No respect from the NCAA seeding committee? Win the West regional as a #2 seed.

But favored easily to beat an Indiana team that was only a #5 seed? Everyone should have known that would be trouble for a Sampson-coached team. It's too bad, because Oklahoma has already beaten both teams in today's second game, yet would have likely been an underdog in the title game.

Unfortunately, you have to get to the title game to win it.

Still, a fine year for Oklahoma, far better than anyone expected.

[Posted at 20:50 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

The State Department

Charles Johnson is absolutely right in this post.

When Jeanne Kirkpatrick served the last truly conservative American President as Representative to the United Nations, she fought a courageous fight in the UN (and sometimes in the government, against higher-ups at the State Department) against such nonsense. The U.S. no longer seems willing to make the effort. I had expected better from John Negroponte.

And Colin Powell is useless as Secretary of State in this regard. This is the sort of squishy diplomacy I've come to expect from a man with no apparent guiding political philosophy or principles of statecraft. But hey, at least he's emphatically for condom use. THAT is what I want to hear from MY Secretary of State when the Middle East is falling apart. (No, really -- I don't mean that sarcastically. He makes more sense on that issue than anything that flies out of his piehole having to do with the Middle East).

[Posted at 14:07 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

Revealing

These snippets from the Nobel Terrorist are revealing:

"I appeal to the international community to stop this aggression against our people, this military escalation, this killing," Mr. Arafat pleaded in English.

Then, in Arabic, he added: "Together we will march until one of our children raises the Palestinian flag over the churches and mosques of Jerusalem," accusing Israel of "terrorist racist actions using all kinds of American weapons."

What is interesting is that the American media, which has long ignored Arafat's venomous rhetoric in Arabic, actually reported that last paragraph. The PLO's phased plan has not changed in the decades of its existence: to fly the "Palestinian" flag over all of Israel. And barring that, Arafat seems willing to kill however many Israelis (not to mention his own people) as possible. And of course, the most conspicuous part of all this is that the Nobel Terrorist calls for the international community to help HIM, with no condemnation of the ongoing Passover slaughter of Israelis.

Nobel worthy, I would say.

[Posted at 13:08 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

Browsing And Design Issues

It's always interesting (and a little embarrassing) to see who is reading and writing about one's website.

There's a comment on a Silicon Investor message board that I would like to respond to, but unfortunately the free membership there does not confer message privileges. The user basically is complaining about the non-scalable fonts used here, and a number of other users offer helpful suggestions.

But really, the user is right (which is the message I would hope someone could pass along). I had reasons for using non-scalable (i.e. set pixel size) fonts on the site during the last redesign, and the reasons were not simply personal vanity. But the reasons I did it that way aren't really great reasons any more, and I should probably tinker with the stylesheet to switch to scalable fonts. It's also about time for a major redesign, so it may get put off until then.

I also need to tinker with Reductio a bit (which I should also switch to scalable fonts, I suppose). I'm told that it does not render properly in PDAs using AvantGo, which is not entirely surprising (it uses tables). I haven't taken the time to test that, but it does render decently enough on my Visor Deluxe using EudoraWeb and a wireless connection. If any of you are using PDAs as browsers on the go, could you email me your experiences? I plan to set up a pda-friendly page that cuts down the number of entries and cuts out tabular columns entirely, but I could use some feedback.

[Posted at 10:57 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

The MLB Multimedia Experience

I've occasionally complained about the Ballpark Formerly Known As Enron and the fact that it's such a blaring, multimedia experience that it's hard for a purist to enjoy the GAME (despite the fact that one is much closer to the action than one ever was in the stadium now known as Reliant Astrodome).

Russ Smith takes up the argument in a fine article for the Taste page on Opinion Journal:

There is gourmet ice cream, micro-beers, sushi, fresh-squeezed lemonade--and insufferable "classic" rock 'n' roll blaring between innings. There are exploding scoreboards on Diamond vision screens. And in Arizona at least, there is that swimming pool. Gone is the era when you could bring a magazine to the park for between-innings reading. No longer can you engage in a sports-filled conversation with your neighbors. It's just too noisy.

One of baseball's great attractions used to be the chance to spend a few hours outdoors and simply relax. Now, after visiting a faux-museum like Baltimore's manic Camden Yards, I'm a wreck.

My past experiences at The Ballpark Formerly Known As Enron were pretty much as Smith describes. But last night, I had a fine time at an Astros exhibition game against Jimy Williams's former team, the BoSox. The weather was outstanding, the roof was open, and the audio portion of the multimedia blast definitely seemed toned down from recent times. I hope it remains that way. I had a really good time, although I must admit I did a lot more people watching and socializing than watching baseball.

[Posted at 10:41 CST on 03/30/02] [Link]

28 March 2002

The Henley-McDougal Connection

I haven't posted Richard Connelly's latest column to Reductio Ad Absurdum yet, but it's definitely worth reading. He is the first columnist I've seen to identify Jim Henley -- the teacher whose students were denied a White House tour because of a bureaucratic foulup and subsequently organized a "spontaneous" protest complete with media coverage -- as Susan McDougal's brother, and someone also indicted in Whitewater.

Kudos to Connelly for that nice catch.

[Posted at 23:58 CST on 03/28/02] [Link]

Ecology

This quotation concludes a USA Today article on somewhat of a nationwide drought:

''The thing that makes it so frustrating is that we don't need a lot of water,'' he says.

''All we need,'' Wills says, ''is enough to keep the fish alive and keep the people coming.''

When you think about it, this is kind of interesting. The drought, which a National Weather Service official attributes to natural variability (NOT global warming), in its own way is acting to preserve sensitive ecological areas by keeping people away. Sure, there's likely to be a fishkill, but one season will not spell the end of a species. One season will, however, give trampled and abused wilderness areas a bit of a chance to recover. Naturally. Without a government edict. Nature is interesting that way. Resilient, even.

[Posted at 23:56 CST on 03/28/02] [Link]

Orange Alert

It's good to know that those federalized security officers who keep letting weapons through were on to Kat and her recorder last weekend.

I wonder if the girl and her musical instrument triggered a Wayne Newton (err, I mean Tom Ridge) Orange Alert? Or Yellow. Or Purple. Or whatever the hell.

One of many reasons I will be driving to my destinations for a while yet.

[Posted at 23:47 CST on 03/28/02] [Link]

NRO's Redesign

Opinions in political blogland seem mixed on the redesign over at National Review Online, but I have to say that after a couple of days, I still very much like what they've done. As someone who dabbles a little in web design and a lot in content, I actually like the layout (given that it was designed to accommodate more advertising while still preserving navigability and flow and keeping the advertising unobtrusive -- Salon could learn something here!). I think they've done a good job with their design concept. Even if it's blechy asp technology.

[Posted at 23:43 CST on 03/28/02] [Link]

27 March 2002

Williams Final, Dickey Nutt, Deliverance

This should be fun to watch (but it never seems to work out that way).

Judging by the photo, I think Martina Hingis is tired of getting her ass kicked by Serena. Ah well. It's nice to see that smirk wiped off her face.

On another note, I'm very disappointed that Dickey Nutt is not the frontrunner for the Arkansas men's basketball job. There's just something about it that suggests Deliverance-style banjo music.

While I'm on the topic of Arkansas athletics, it strikes me that Frank Broyles is a nutty, sinister old man who should not be in a position of authority at a major university. Or UA for that matter. But I actually think he is revered in the state. Bizarre.

This post should certainly satisfy some interesting google searches.

[Posted at 23:56 CST on 03/27/02] [Link]

Lovett

Lyle Lovett was hospitalized today, after being trampled by a bull.

It's good to know that the Chron is on top of local news. Oh wait. That's AP wire copy. Typical Chron (still awaiting that elusive first Pulitzer).

[Posted at 23:09 CST on 03/27/02] [Link]

Nemko

A few days ago, I received a really surprising email from Marty Nemko.

I had mentioned Nemko in a post on the message boards (which are pretty much dead these days), and apparently he stumbled across the website that way.

Anyway, he expressed pleasure that he had some influence on my education. The email made my evening, and as I'm cleaning out my inbox tonight, it seemed worth mentioning.

[Posted at 22:49 CST on 03/27/02] [Link]

26 March 2002

Go Coogs

Some of the experts must have forgotten to tell the Coogs they aren't supposed to be this good this year.

They ended Fresno State's 11-game winning streak by pounding them 11-0 at Cougar Field tonight, another impressive combination of hitting, pitching, and defense.

UH has jumped to #5 in one college baseball poll. I just hope they're not peaking too early.

Pitcher Brad Sullivan also picked up a nice honor, after a 15 strikeout performance that lowered his ERA to 1.01 (unheard of in college baseball).

[Posted at 23:51 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Airport Security

Jaffo has some excellent advice for those dealing with Airport Security Personnel (or other bureaucratic authority figures).

The sad thing is, I don't know whether to laugh or cry over his advice. It's GOOD advice, and it's sad that this is the state of our society.

[Posted at 21:59 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Halle

I have never watched the Academy Awards in their entirety. It's never interested me in the least to tune in to watch an orgy of Self Important Asses recite all of the politically correct bromides of the season (besides, that's what C-Span is for, and the doses can be limited). So I can't really comment on the goings on this year, aside from five minutes or so (the whole Poitier lovefest). But I was amused by some of the posts on the web.

Jay Nordlinger had this to say about Halle Berry:

Halle Berry’s identification of herself with her race — or rather, with her father’s race (her mother is white) — was complete. When she had gone on too long, and someone — or some mechanism — was obviously trying to get her to wrap up, she cried, “No, 74 years!” — meaning that she was the first black woman to win Best Actress in Oscar history. She clearly linked herself to racial pioneers in the past. Yet one of the things that the racial pioneers had in common was immense dignity: Their dignity, in fact, was crucial to their success. They were not emotionalist wrecks.

This may shock Halle Berry, but I — speaking for myself — do not view her as a black woman, as a racial emblem. I view her as someone lucky enough to be one of the most bodaciously beautiful babes on earth. If she thinks she’s disadvantaged . . . I will show her a little disadvantage.

Neither was John Podhoretz particularly impressed with Miss Berry:
Then there was Halle Berry. In an acceptance speech so out-of-control that you worried she might actually have to be carted off the stage in a straitjacket, Berry reduced herself to the status of a "vessel." Berry basically said she was worthy of winning solely because other black actresses hadn't won before her and because "nameless, faceless" women of color everywhere needed a role model.

It must therefore have puzzled the TV audience immensely to watch as Berry gave thanks to her mother, to whom the camera cut immediately only to discover that Judith Hawkins Berry is white. Halle Berry is not a representative black woman and not a vessel. She is very much herself, which is how it should be in America.

And Robyn (whom I owe a Pickle-O recipe) has serious criticism of a different sort for Hit-And-Run Halle:
I just hope that parents won't use Halle as a role model to their children. Because if they do, they are also teaching them that with a lot of money and a pretty face you can lawyer your way out of a hit-and-run -- and I don't care if you are an actress or a private citizen -- any way you slice it, it's just wrong. Still don't care? Then consider Mikey's closing words: "If she had hit you and fled the scene, would you be happy to see her win an Oscar?"

[Posted at 21:53 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Political Participation

This is an interesting formulation:

If you're not infuriated by these related trends, you should at least be worried. If you're neither, stop reading this column. You're a sheep, content to be herded wherever these giants wish.
I have a better one, though:

As a reader I find such heavy-handed rhetoric annoying, and I'm inclined to tune out the writer.

That said, it is a good idea to let elected officials know how you feel about such matters. I would keep it polite but firm, and would avoid Dan Gillmoor's language. Den Beste has a suggestion in that regard.

[Posted at 21:38 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Political Memory

Ramesh Ponnuru responds to some of the critics of his contention that Medicare reform derailed the Republican Revolution (scroll down to "1995").

I pretty much agree with his rebuttal, but that's not what I find interesting about his post. Rather, what I find interesting is the extent to which people who really live and breathe and write politics remember things somewhat differently from people who dabble. I wonder if those who dabble don't begin to "remember" events through something of an ideological lens over time (for one, it's a betrayal of populist principles; for another, it's term limits), whereas those who seriously cover politics have a deeper, less ideologically refracted memory. Because everything Ponnuru writes about the POLITICS of the medicare issue as a trigger of sorts is dead on, although I barely remember it and probably would have also put forth an argument closer to the Reynolds formulation had Ponnuru not stimulated my memory.

Then again, there could be no relation at all. It could just be the case of good political memory by a sharp columnist.

[Posted at 21:26 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

John Breaux, Idiot

I think political people in Washington, D.C. have a greatly inflated sense of their importance. I think that's especially true of Senators. But this comment from Louisiana's John Breaux on the fallout from the Thomas Pickering nomination was a little shocking even to me:

"I'm fearful the Senate is going to look like the Israelis and the PLO," said Sen. John Breaux (La.), a Democrat who often seeks compromises with Republicans. "It's a real recipe for stalemate and for Congress becoming more irrelevant when it can't get anything done, even simple things."
No Senator. Tom Daschle and Trent Lott are going to continue to act like spoiled brats most likely. And who knows, Trent may even have a temper tantrum. But please don't compare the petty business of the Senate to the people dying in the Middle East. This country will survive the sort of gridlock likely to be produced by 100 spoiled brats -- we libertarian types even contend it will probably be better off. But it's NOTHING like the Israelis and the PLO.

[Posted at 21:18 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Nordlinger on Friedman

Many political bloggers and pundits have spent a great deal of time wee-weeing all over themselves about the "transformation" of NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman after 11 September. Jay Nordlinger is not one of them:

I once wrote, in despairing over Tom Friedman, that he “knows about 100 times more about the Middle East than most of us will ever know, in that he has devoted much of his career to that region.” He has won a thousand awards, has been accorded endless honor.

But it’s hard to see how his reputation as a sage can survive the columns he is writing.

Ouch.

[Posted at 21:12 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

Mena Controversy

For some bizarre reason, a Houston Public Access cable channel showed the video described on this website just a while ago.

It was disturbing.

I guess I was in a fog when the Mena controversy was swirling (high school, actually, and undergrad). I don't remember a bit of it.

Scary thing is, I go backpacking all the time in the Ouachita Mountains near Mena. In fact, I think I've camped a few hundred yards from the rail line at the center of the controversy, although not the spot on the line where the alleged murders took place.

Eerie.

I'm going to have to give this book a read.

[Posted at 02:15 CST on 03/26/02] [Link]

25 March 2002

Sooner Women

The Sooner women rolled into the Final Four tonight as well, joining Kelvin Sampson's men's team.

Had anyone told me last year that Bob Stoops would be only the THIRD most successful Oklahoma coach for the 2001-02 academic year, I would have had trouble stopping the laughter.

[Posted at 23:07 CST on 03/25/02] [Link]

New SEMO Coach

SEMO officially introduced their new women's basketball head coach today (my cousin BJ Smith, whose only flaw is being a fan of the Washington Redskins). There's a nice blurb on the SEMO website. He will do a great job for them.

[Posted at 17:47 CST on 03/25/02] [Link]

24 March 2002

Coogs Rebound

After losing two games midweek to crosstown rival Rice this week (grrrr), the Houston Cougars rebounded over the weekend to sweep #35 Tulane (5 games against ranked opponents in one week -- how many college baseball teams play that kind of schedule? Not many). Tulane is a perennial C-USA baseball contender, so it was an important series for UH. It was good to get out to the ballpark with such nice weather -- good to get out period. I hope everyone else had as satisfying a weekend.

[Posted at 20:45 CST on 03/24/02] [Link]

Tough Loss

NEO's women's basketball team, coached by my cousin B.J. to an undefeated regular-season record this year and just an incredible average margin of victory, lost its only game yesterday.

It was the Junior College championship game.

My cousin is a really level-headed guy, but that one has to hurt. Bad.

Still, it shouldn't take away from one of the most amazing seasons in women's junior college basketball history, and it shouldn't take any of the luster off his status as one of the game's great, rising young coaches.

My guess is that we will see several four-year schools show interest in hiring him (if he's even interested). They will be getting someone who has a pretty impressive track record, and who will no doubt see success at the major college level.

It's just a shame about that one loss this season.

(Update): I'm informed that my cousin was offered and has accepted the head coaching job at Southeast Missouri State (SEMO).

[Posted at 10:49 CST on 03/24/02] [Link]

Bitter Mary Watch

The watch continues.

What watch?

The watch to see if Bitter Mary McGrory (surely one of the most bitter, shriveled liberals writing for the public prints) can come up with anything better than Republicans Evil, Bill Clinton Good, Republican Ideology amounts to nothing more than Ongoing Opposition to Bill Clinton.

She fails this week in a rambling wreck (apologies to Georgia Tech) of a column:

What this all means is that George W. Bush has a free hand. It seems unlikely the fervor he shows for war in Iraq will be rechanneled into the search for peace in Israel. It's out because it's the kind of thing Bill Clinton did.
Sure, Bitter Mary. Thanks for clarifying that.

[Posted at 10:43 CST on 03/24/02] [Link]

23 March 2002

Quid Pro Quo

Here's a shocker: The Chron has endorsed Chris Bell.

Bell, of course, was one of the first to announce his candidacy for mayor against Lee Brown, and he pounded Lee Brown mercilessly on every aspect of his public (mis)management -- water, streets, public safety, etc.

Until he finished third in the mayoral race. One might have expected Bell, if he had any principles at all, to endorse the other anti-Brown candidate in the NON-PARTISAN race for mayor, Orlando Sanchez, whose arguments on Brown's public (mis)management were virtually indistinguishable. Instead, Bell cut a deal with the mayor and his boosters (the Chron) to endorse Brown against Sanchez, in exchange for their unqualified support for his newly planned Congressional race.

And now the endorsement from the Chron. Perfect.

I hope Carroll Robinson wins the Democratic nomination, just to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

[Posted at 23:58 CST on 03/23/02] [Link]

Strategic Love Initiative

In the midst of writing serious stuff, Jaffo coins the best phrases:

The whole concept of falling in love has been degraded in my generation. Looking for a mate has become a kind of "Strategic Love Initiative" conducted in the manner of George Bush launching a war on some abstract concept.

[Posted at 23:44 CST on 03/23/02] [Link]

Art Show

I didn't make it backpacking, but I did manage to take in the Bayou City Arts Festival in Memorial Park today, which I highly recommend to any of you Houston lurkers reading this. It's really a very cool exhibit, with more photography than I expected.

I tend to prefer b/w photography, but two wilderness photographers of some note were exhibiting:

Ron Melott, who captured truly amazing color depth of some well selected subjects

and Rodney Lough, who has backpacked into some amazing places to take some stunning color photos. I'm certain he's not an Objectivist, but I just pulled this great statement off his website:

If you look at much of the artwork throughout the past few centuries there seems to be a dark, even sad symbolism. The message being that life is barely worth living, life is horrible. For me, perhaps because I have taken 'The Lough Road,' life is fun, it is grand and I desire to begin each day a new! Life is worth the effort it requires and the beauty, the natural beauty that surrounds us, is breathtaking if we only take the time to see it.

[Posted at 19:46 CST on 03/23/02] [Link]

22 March 2002

Montrose

The NY Times has a very good feature on the Montrose neighborhood in Houston, the area I call home.

I really like the mention of the West Alabama Icehouse in the "restaurants" section at the bottom. Restaurant is a stretch, to be sure, but it's a cool blurb.

(03-23-02 Update) While I'm pimping Houston (a city that deserves much better than its reputation nationally), I should also link to Robb Walsh's column this week, which describes his trip exploring various Houston restaurants with cooking show host Rick Bayless. Here's Walsh quoting Bayless:

"Why aren't we reading about Houston in the national food press?" he asks. "I want to come back here on vacation just to eat all these cool ethnic foods."

[Posted at 23:59 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

Backpacking and Baseball

No backpacking this weekend after all. I just didn't have the energy after work today to pull together everything to make it happen. I've been exhausted all week, and instead am looking forward to spending some time reading this weekend, and maybe a bit of baseball.

UH is cursed by the weather of this damn city. They spent two weeks on the road playing games, and the weather here was perfect. They come back to town to play their main competition in C-USA tonight, and the temps are in the 40s. So hardly anyone went out to see Brad Sullivan pitch a real gem (including me -- I'm lame tonight). This city has notoriously fickle sports fans, and it's a shame that when UH is playing its best, they're either on the road, or suffering from bad weather at home, and the team is unable to build the fan base it deserves.

I'll definitely head out Sunday afternoon and catch some baseball and sun, now that the backpacking trip is aborted.

[Posted at 23:52 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

Uncommon Brilliance

We're Houston, damnit, and we don't need no stinkin' rail!

Why bother with rail when there's all those concrete contractors who need work?!

Okay. Whatever.

[Posted at 23:45 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

Brothers Judd Blog

The Brothers Judd blog is a welcome addition to political bloggery.

I've enjoyed Orrin Judd's book reviews for a while now. Although the internet lends itself to pithy, instant reaction to events, it's also a great medium for the sharing of information -- and Orrin's quick and nimble (if not instantaneous), thoughtful analysis of politics and society raises the bar for political bloggers.

[Posted at 23:39 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

ArthurAndroids

Knowing a few ArthurAndroids, I find Ken Layne's latest observations on the collapsing Cult of Arthur kind of funny.

But I bet if you are in the market for an Audi sedan cheap, going to one of these demonstrations might just get you a good deal, that being the trendy car of choice for all good ArthurAndroids.

Seriously, it's creepy the way so many of those people wear the same clothes, drive the same cars, and eat at the same restaurants.

(03-23-02 Update) Jeff Jarvis adds this (scroll down) to the Android commentary:

They also look doughy, too white, and more boring and nerdy than even an accountant should look. They're not doing themselves any PR favor here. I wouldn't trust them. Would you?

[Posted at 22:30 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

Morons

Some people may really be too stupid to be out in public.

How in the hell does one become "trapped" in a newspaper machine?! I mean, really?! If I were to do so, I don't think I would draw further attention to my idiocy by bitching about Wal-Mart's customer service.

I just wonder how long it will take for some tort lawyer to contact this idiot and convince her to sue Wal-Mart.

(link via Romenesko)

[Posted at 21:39 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

Oh Fran

Fran Blineberry writes:

The kind that shake the cupboard and rattle the floorboards and threaten to knock the shingles off the roof of the house.
Is he describing a wild trip in his car after a few too many to drink?

No, just the plays that Oklahoma made in rolling Arizona, with his typical excess.

But it coulda been a trip in his car, huh?

[Posted at 00:10 CST on 03/22/02] [Link]

21 March 2002

Concessions

I made my first real concession to my thirtysomething status tonight. I used my REI dividend to pick up some trekking poles (along with other supplies). The Ouachita Mountains that I use for "nearby" hiking (still an 8 hour drive) are rugged. They are barely mountains, so one doesn't see the elevation changes of the major mountain ranges of the Western United States, but the rock structures are killer and the trail simply traverses boulders in many places. It can be tough on the knees and hips to navigate it with 40+ pounds of gear strapped on. So the trekking poles will be nice. That, and I almost always find myself a nice stick for wet stream crossings, so the poles will come in handy for that as well, and will be more reliable.

I'm planning on a short overnighter to Davy Crockett forest this weekend about two or so hours north of Houston, but the trekking poles won't be necessary there (flat, non-rocky country). Still, it will be good to get out, even if just overnight. I'm planning on using it as a warmup for a long-weekend trip to the Ouachitas next weekend, weather permitting.

[Posted at 22:16 CST on 03/21/02] [Link]

Ruffini on Redistricting

Everyone on the web likes to write about electoral politics, but few of them actually take the time to go and take apart electoral data. Indeed, most of them have no training or expertise in it. That's why people interested in politics should pay attention when Patrick Ruffini posts good stuff like this. For true students of American politics, it's a real treat.

[Posted at 22:09 CST on 03/21/02] [Link]

Impo-Trent Lott

I've never been able to come up with a good nickname for Trent Lott.

Maybe Impo-Trent would be a good one.

His petulant attitude reminds me of Newt Gingrich at some point after his Contract with America days, when all that seemed to concern him was whether he was snubbed in the Presidential travelcade.

Impo-Trent Lott has proven himself ineffective as majority and minority leader. It's time for a change, preferably before the fall elections.

[Posted at 22:05 CST on 03/21/02] [Link]

Pasture Security (Or Something)

I guess any jokes about Aggie Bonfire with respect to this bit of news would be tacky, tasteless, and inappropriate still, huh?

[Posted at 00:19 CST on 03/21/02] [Link]

20 March 2002

MT 2.0 Released

Movable Type 2.0 has been released, and looks excellent. I'm out of time to upgrade tonight, but am looking forward to it.

Also, the new MT spotlight blog is beautifully done. THAT is what I like to see in a semi-pro site. Kinda puts the last spotlight blog to shame, eh? :)

[Posted at 23:28 CST on 03/20/02] [Link]

Bloggin' About Bloggin'

Blogs are largely about content, rather than design, which is why those of us who can write competent (if not necessarily inspired) html tend to respect those who crank out lovely code and have something to say (charles? reid?). It's also why I rarely (if ever?) criticize any personal blogger's web design. To each his own (that doesn't mean, of course, I will read it if it fouls my browser with bad code and errors).

That said, semi-professional sites that enforce their view of what my screen size should be annoy me, regardless of the content. We don't all go beyond 800 pixels wide, even if we have the capability. Call me grouchy. But I do find it amusing that a semi-pro site devoted to the topic of blogs would use the altogether appropriate term "s*v*ging" in its introductory essay, even if my friend Atlee would be less amused.

[Posted at 23:23 CST on 03/20/02] [Link]

Ghost Of Rand

In 1962, Ayn Rand gave a talk entitled "How Not to Fight Against Socialized Medicine" to a group of doctors, dealing with a Kennedy administration bill that was the precursor to Medicare. As Rand put it,

The advocates of "Medicare" admit that their purpose is not help to the needy, the sick, or the aged. Their purpose is to spare people "the embarrassment" of a means test -- that is, to establish the principle and precedent that some people are entitled to the unrewarded services of others, not as charity, but as a right.

Can you placate, conciliate, temporize, or compromise with a principle of that kind?

In general, Rand's talk praised a small group of doctors (members of the audience she addressed) who took on Medicare at the time by pledging to treat aged indigents at no charge, while refusing anyone whose medical care was financed by the government. It served as a pep talk of sorts, although obviously the forces of socialism overcame the few sensible thinkers in the medical profession in short order.

Fast forward forty years, to this article in the New York Times:

For the first time, significant numbers of doctors are refusing to take new Medicare patients, saying the government now pays them too little to cover the costs of caring for the elderly.
Fascinating. Could it be that "heartless" Ayn Rand was right? And that it's taken forty years, but the markets have proven her so? That in itself it interesting, as it suggests that over time, markets will help judge misguided social policy.

While on the topic of Rand, I am reminded of a UK Laborite acqaintance of mine who is familiar enough with Rand to (mis)characterize Objectivism -- and also his recent praise of the movie Moulin Rouge. That makes Mr. Breese's connection here even more interesting to me personally, although it is interesting enough on its own.

[Posted at 23:05 CST on 03/20/02] [Link]

I Wonder Who Wrote It

A pretty decent piece appeared under Bill Bennett's name in the Washington Post today. The author critiques Bush's apparent change of direction on Middle East policy.

I would post the thing to Reductio, but ever since it came out that Bill Bennett is a very busy man who uses ghostwriters, it's really hard for me to cite anything "he" writes, however compelling the argument somebody else has made for him.

I wonder just how much of that goes on with "important" intellectuals. Am I just naive in thinking, for example, that his Empower America colleague Jack Kemp probably writes his own op-eds? Maybe. Hell, we have some idea that "important" book writers like Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose can't be bothered to turn out their own prose, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Anyway, we're equal opportunity here -- I don't much like it whether it's done by liberals or conservatives.

[Posted at 22:47 CST on 03/20/02] [Link]

Liberals

I saw this definition of "liberal" on Nick Denton's blog recently:

Where are all the well-written liberal weblogs? For the purposes of this discussion, I'm defining liberal as anyone who cares about injustice, whether in the US, or in the world at large. Anyone who believes in the notion of enlightened self-interest.
Strange -- I don't think of myself as liberal, yet I do care very much about justice and enlightened self-interest. I wouldn't think of those as exclusively contemporary liberal traits. *shrug*

[Posted at 22:33 CST on 03/20/02] [Link]

19 March 2002

Death, Spring, And Other Personal Musings

Sometimes this space is more of a political blog. Sometimes it's more of a personal journal. Tonight it's more of a personal journal, so if that sort of thing doesn't interest, this entry might be skipped.

My mom tells me that a funeral was held today for one of the nicest ladies in the neighborhood where I grew up. She and her husband lived across the street from us, and were an elderly couple even when I was a little kid. She always entertained us neighborhood kids -- even kept a sandbox for us -- and looked after us even when we didn't really know she was doing so. She was always learning, even as her eyes went bad, reading her National Geographic and her old Latin texts and countless other great books -- and to the extent us kids would listen, she would encourage us to take some interest in it. She lived an amazingly full life, and lived a really long time. I hope I can say as much.

* * * *

So what is the proper way to react when a friend seems to be fishing for information of a nature that would seem to compromise the nature of the friendship? And how does one know for sure? Usually, I'm not paranoid about such things, and so I tend to trust my "gut feeling." Especially when there's been an instance in the past that was much more blatant, and which I let slide without denouncing it (as I probably should have done, in retrospect -- it's not acceptable to me to use friends or be used by them). I tend to trust my gut feeling, but I just can't really know for sure. But it's disappointing even to suspect it, again. Too many people who "could be and should be" stellar instead turn out to be something less. Why do they compromise themselves that way? And why do they look at me like I'm weird for wondering this?

And yeah, this is vague. Deal.

* * * *

On a similar note, I really don't like being lied to. As my friend Mr. Hutchison once said, "You can never trust a liar." It's an inside joke, but there's no need to explain it here. I just purged a liar from my life today. What was it I wrote above about being disappointed?

* * * *

On a more cheery note, spring has hit Houston in a big way. I've even run the air conditioner the last few days. It all has me itching to get out backpacking. I think a short trip is in order this weekend, and maybe a Ouachitas trip next weekend. Having the dissertation draft done is a relief, as I can plan these things without guilt.

* * * *

Unless, of course, the dissertation readers want changes. The two main readers on my committee now have the draft, and I hope they don't want me to do anything major, because I really want to spend the next two months in the woods for the most part. A LOT. I didn't get out at all last year other than some dayhiking, and that will not happen this year.

* * * *

And while I used to complain some about work, I should add that it's good to be able to get away so frequently, and to have a nice amount of flexible vacation time. My friend Mr. Vaughn and I were having this chat over the weekend, and we both agreed that yes, it would be great to have tons more money (to buy our gadgets!) and maybe even more professional respect, but that working a 12-hour job that constrains one's leisure time, with deadlines that impinge upon hobbies and passions, isn't really worth that price. So if it's the choice between that and what we do (he and I both are relatively happy, I think it's safe to say, doing what we do in terms of substance, and in terms of the freedom it gives us), we'll take it.

* * * *

I have really grown to like Alan Jackson's song "Drive."

Ah, Red America.

But NASCAR does nothing for me, so I'm not a total redneck.

* * * *

That's about enough for now.

[Posted at 23:06 CST on 03/19/02] [Link]

18 March 2002

Amen

Jeff Jarvis's "Unholy" post is eminently sensible to me, as regarding distinctions without a difference.

And for the record, I'm not a Catholic, or even religious. I'm also not a Libertarian (not the big L), or an anarcho-nihilist. I'm a little Straussian, and a little Objectivist. Go figure.

[Posted at 23:11 CST on 03/18/02] [Link]

Multimillions?

Sebastian Mallaby writes about Paul O'Neill: "He has earned multimillions."

Umm... that would be distinguished from the simpler millions in what manner?

Mallaby: still like light beer.

[Posted at 22:27 CST on 03/18/02] [Link]

Houston Child-Porn Ring

As if the Church doesn't have enough problems -- two Catholic priests have been busted as part of an extensive child porn operation based here in the Bayou City.

[Posted at 19:14 CST on 03/18/02] [Link]

17 March 2002

Blinebury

The Chron (unlike the DFW papers) has some of the worst sportswriters in this state. So I was a little surprised to see this relatively decent column from Fran "I'm not drunk Ossifer!" Blinebury (whose colorful, weird metaphors really don't mask his inadequacies) -- at least as far as puff pieces on the new baseball manager go. But then he has to go and muck it up with this cliche of a conclusion:

What the Astros clearly need is teeth and you get the feeling Jimy Williams, despite the jokes, eventually will show everybody his.
Gee, Fran, I didn't see THAT coming. *vomit*

At least the Chron occasionally runs Randy Galloway's FW Star-Telegram column. That sort of makes up for not having any star-quality local sportswriters.

Just as an aside, a google search on "Fran Blinebury Drunk Driving" doesn't turn up a thing. That's unbelievable.

[Posted at 23:53 CST on 03/17/02] [Link]

Baseball's Funny

Generally, the third game over a weekend series of college baseball is a high scoring affair, because not many college teams can go three (or four, if they've played a mid-week game) quality starters deep, and pitching becomes depleted by Sunday. Figure in that UH has OWNED UAB since the inception of C-USA, has good pitching depth, has a high-octane offense, and has been on a long winning streak of late, and you wouldn't predict today's score: UAB 6, UH 2.

But taking two of three on the road keeps UH on a fine pace, and shouldn't be cause to worry.

Meanwhile, Cincy lost today in men's hoops, the usual Bob Huggins tank job. Oklahoma should have had that #1 seed on Cincy's past history alone.

I actually spent much of the day at Diedrich's, finally getting a chance to read some Philip Pullman -- before our UK friends dragged us out and about for fun but mellow evening.

[Posted at 21:49 CST on 03/17/02] [Link]

Maybe?

I read this earlier:

This leads me to say something about the Jeremy Lott / Rich Lowry slugfest over whether we should nuke Mecca in response to an Islamist nuclear attack on the United States. I wasn't going to weigh in on this, and I still won't weigh in on the merits. I'll just note that if I were a conspiracy theorist I'd be very impressed about the way this idea has reared its head in a fashion that is impossible for, say, the Saudis to miss, but in a fashion that cannot in any way be linked to the Administration.
Am I way off base to think that Saudi policymakers may not be paying the closest attention to online content of a couple of little-read American political opinion publications? Hell, I'm a news junkie, and I've not been following this one all that closely. But maybe I'm wrong, and the "revolution" really has gone that far.

[Posted at 21:35 CST on 03/17/02] [Link]

16 March 2002

American Prowler

This is some funny stuff:

Incidentally, the Drudge Report clinched honors for headline of the year when it announced: "Tipper Weighs Senate Run." Though that wasn't as good as its earlier headline, "Blumenthal Arrested for Child Porn." For the record, we've never heard of the guy.
There's more.

[Posted at 13:24 CST on 03/16/02] [Link]

The Day After

Still not much posting, as we've been hanging with our UK friends. The trip to Galveston rocked yesterday. We drove right out of Houston's cloud cover into a beautiful, sunny, WARM day on the island. Sadly, Cafe Michael Burger was much too busy (?!) for us when we were done on the beach, so we headed to the Strand.

Our evening entertainment was cut short when we decided to bail at intermission from a performance of Sam Shepard's play True West. It was just dreadfully done. Community theater can be hit and miss. This was definitely miss, but you never know unless you investigate.

We spent the rest of the evening at Zimm's, which has become this trendy, loud, "see and be seen" place that really doesn't appeal. But we were sitting outside, and were able to have a fine chat, so there was really no reason to change venues. Although I think the Vintage Bar or Cafe Artiste might be more suitable in the future.

Saturday shall be a day of rest. And catching up on some reading.

[Posted at 11:23 CST on 03/16/02] [Link]

15 March 2002

Mental Health Roadtrip

Yeah, I'm posting during work hours, which is a rarity... but I'm taking a vacation day today, a mental health day of sorts. My friend and former colleague is over on business, and has brought his wonderful wife over for a while this time, so Callie and I are kidnapping her today and headed towards Galveston. It should be nice enough to put the top down and have a good Texas roadtrip. We'll see where the road leads. Maybe it will produce some of the fun tales I used to post here before 11 September, when this site became "more serious" and so did I (but there's a finished dissertation draft to show for it).

There may even be the magic of Cafe Michael Burger. We shall see! In any case, light posting for a few more days (San Antonio tomorrow, and perhaps an Icehouse trip in the evening) but maybe a few Texas tales to share at some point.

[Posted at 09:17 CST on 03/15/02] [Link]

Gray-Out

Ken Layne thinks Gray-Out sounds like a nutcase.

Ken is right, of course, but will it matter? Davis is taking a page right out of the Clinton political playbook, which is: frame the issue how you want it, and never ever deviate from that position -- just pound it home in 10 second sound bites that are perfect for tv news.

Yes, Gray-Out Davis was ineffective during the height of the energy crisis, and no doubt made things worse long-term with his "deals." But it's impossible to dispute the fact that "the lights stayed on" after he "acted." That can be explained in a nice 10 second bite that will get repeated on news cycles. What is Bill Simon's response going to be? A lengthy discourse about markets and California's deeply flawed deregulatory scheme, and how Gray-Out's power "deals" have hurt the state's fiscal position immensely? Can he do it with a good 10 second sound bite?

I hope Ken is right and I am wrong, but I fear that a lot of people are going to buy into Gray-Out's populist "I saved the people during crisis" crap -- especially since he's built a big campaign war chest to get that message out. Prove me wrong, Californians, and get rid of him!

[Posted at 09:06 CST on 03/15/02] [Link]

14 March 2002

Toys

The Kyocera QCP6035 phone/pda went back to the Sprint PCS store today for a refund.

It's a neatly integrated little package, but after playing with it for a while, I realized that it wasn't as good a phone as my old one, and it wasn't as good a PDA as my Visor Deluxe. So why keep it?

I'm still not willing to shell out the cash for a Treo, and I don't think they have a Sprint PCS option yet anyway, so I may just pick up a modem cable to hook the PDA to my current cell phone (which can be had for about 40 bucks).

[Posted at 23:11 CST on 03/14/02] [Link]

Carry On

Imagine you're an 18-year-old from Minnesota. You're off to South Padre Island in Texas for a week of Spring Break partying. The young college lovelies are running all around, and there's lots of musical entertainment on tap.

Well, there was. Before you got all messed up, went walking the beach, and pounded that poor SOB who happened to look at you the wrong way.

Oops. That poor SOB was popular singer-songwriter Pat Green, and NOW you're sitting in jail for beating the hell out of him so badly that he's had to cancel his Corpus show for all the drunken Spring Breaksters.

Bad move. Well below average.

[Posted at 08:48 CST on 03/14/02] [Link]

13 March 2002

Communication Breakdown

It became apparent today that the ringer on my cell phone, which is over two years old, no longer rings -- calls just go over to voice mail. I had already been considering an all-in-one PDA/mobile phone, and had discovered a significant price break on the Kyocera QCP6035 Palm-based cell phone. So it was a no-brainer to pick up one of these devices (because the Treo is still a bit expensive for my taste, and I don't have one of those obnoxious tip jars so that you people can buy me things! *smile*). But I've not had much of a chance to play with it, as it was off to visit our good friend Mr. Kellas at Rudz tonight (because our good Scottish friend doesn't get nearly enough of British pubs near his home in South Wimbledon these days). Preliminary evaluation: it's a neat device, nicely integrated, but the PDA seems slower than my Visor Deluxe. I've not yet had a chance to test out the web features, nor have I synchronized the thing (and the Sync Cradle is a serial device, which is annoying -- serial is SO 1990s! Blar). But overall, I think it's going to be nice. At least for a year or so, while I wait for the Treo to get just a bit cheaper.

[Posted at 22:44 CST on 03/13/02] [Link]

Drama

I'm one of those hawkish, conservative, pro-Israel types, and I think what Bush said is unfortunate, but this may be getting a bit carried away:

Bush is going to let the air out of the American war effort, let al Qaeda and the Saudis off the hook, and become a one-termer like his father if he keeps this up. And he won't have to keep it up for long.
It's dramatic, though.

[Posted at 22:35 CST on 03/13/02] [Link]

12 March 2002

Pat's World

The surest sign yet that Bush made a mistake with his steel tariff policy.

[Posted at 22:07 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

Still Less Filling

A number of bloggers have cited this Sebastian Mallaby column criticizing the domestic policies of the Bush Administration (a shocker from Mallaby, whose column I once described as "Like Light Beer: Less Filling And Doesn't Taste Great").

Whatever.

The most revealing part of the column is this little snippet on energy policy:

Though the White House came up with some good measures -- notably ideas to reduce regulatory obstacles to building electricity transmission lines -- it proposed many big-government follies too. There were tax subsidies for clean coal, nuclear power, hybrid cars, solar panels and biomass, costing $10 billion over 10 years. When House Republicans tripled the president's proposed subsidies, the administration grinned gamely. Nobody seemed interested in the energy policy most economists favor -- a simple tax on carbon.
I'm not sure if Mallaby is just woefully ignorant of economics, or if it's outright bias, but authoritative economic comments like these permeate his columns. But here are a couple of questions: since when is a tax subsidy a "big-government" program? Isn't that a minimal way of encouraging behavior (i.e. via the tax code, versus via regulatory policy)? Why does Mallaby characterize it that way? And why does Mallaby claim to speak for most economists in advocating (because he really IS advocating) a "simple" tax on carbon?! Most economists advocate no such thing! Has Mallaby forgotten the press generated by the possibility of the Clinton BTU tax?! "Simple" carbon taxes, much like "simple" Value-Added-Taxes, are favored by liberal policy wonks who want a surreptitious, non-transparent way to raise revenues to redistribute.

Mallaby: Still Less Filling, and Still Doesn't Taste Great.

[Posted at 22:06 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

No Malaise

Jimmy Carter weighs in on the Arab-Israeli dispute (admittedly, an area that was not as disastrous as every other aspect of his Presidency). But as with so many other policy areas, the former Prez should really stick to building houses. His final two paragraphs illustrate why:

Despite the best efforts of President Bill Clinton, the final proposals put forward by Prime Minister Ehud Barak to the Palestinians in 2000 did not meet these basic terms.

The withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories in exchange for full recognition and a guarantee of peace will, I believe, be acceptable to the Palestinians, other Arabs, a majority of Israelis and the international community. The only other choice is sustained and probably increasing violence in the Holy Land.

Jimmy continues to live in fantasy land. But what is to be expected from the only President in U.S. history to report being attacked by a rabbit?

Damnit, after writing this I remembered that I had planned a different response to future outbursts from the Sweater President: Just Say No To Malaise.

I'll try to remember that in the future.

[Posted at 21:57 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

Going Nuclear

This NRO piece by Rich Lowry reminded me of something Bill Van Cleave said in a graduate seminar on the characterization of the spread of weapons of mass destruction as a proliferation versus as an Nth Country problem. Van Cleave joked that it always seemed a little backwards to promise that we wouldn't even consider the use of nuclear weapons against states that didn't have them, when a purely Clausewitzean strategy would suggest those are PRECISELY the states you want to use nuclear weapons against!

I always thought that was a pretty amusing way of looking at it. Of course, enlightened people like William Arkin, Warren Christopher, and the editors of the NY Times would have been alarmed.

My amusement aside, this is an interesting paragraph from Lowry:

Consider: Arms-controllers oppose American missile defenses because it is supposedly destabilizing for the U.S. to have sites that can be protected from rogue-state (or Russian or Chinese) attack. On the other hand, arms-controllers apparently don't mind rogue states' having deeply buried sites that can be protected from U.S. attack.

[Posted at 21:49 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

Gaffney On The NPR

Defense policy expert Frank Gaffney discusses the leak of classified portions of the most recent Nuclear Posture Review in this article. Gaffney intimates that the leaks come from and are popularized by those sympathetic to the (mistaken) arms-control policies of the previous administration:

Such critics hope, therefore, that they can mobilize a public and congressional outcry over parts of the NPR that had, until last Saturday, been classified. Yet, on closer inspection, the objects of their criticism appear not only reasonable, but far more responsible than the approaches long advocated by anti-nuclear activists like William Arkin, to whom the NPR was leaked and who in turn provided this secret document to the media. . . .
Gaffney's conclusions regarding the credibility of deterrence theory sound remarkably familiar:
These are the sorts of prudent, reasonable and, in all likelihood, absolutely necessary measures that must be taken now if there is to be any chance in the future of deterring regimes, and perhaps terrorists, equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Their adoption as part of the NPR does not mean the United States is bent on using nuclear weapons. Rather, it means the responsible adults now in charge understand that for deterrence to work, it must be based on real, credible and sustainable capabilities, not bluffs, a hollowed-out military and bankrupt arms control nostrums.

[Posted at 21:37 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

Glover

La'Roi Glover is a very good addition to my Cowboys.

Not just because he's an outstanding pass rusher, a difference-maker on a defense that was solid, but really didn't have any true playmakers last year. He's a good addition because now the team's high draft pick can be used on Quentin Jammer (if he's still available), Phillip Buchanon, or Roy Williams instead of reaching for a defensive lineman with it. The net could be two additional playmakers on defense, instead of a potential playmaking defensive lineman.

Jerry Jones has done a better job with free agency this year. Now he needs to prove he can draft without Jimmy Johnson.

(03-13-2002 Update) Texas's best sportswriter, Randy Galloway, praises the Jones move as well, while cautioning that Jerry still desperately needs a good draft.

[Posted at 21:27 CST on 03/12/02] [Link]

11 March 2002

Sports Wrap

Light posting today because I've spent the evening working on dissertation editing. Just a few thoughts on the weekend's sports before I crash.

My cousin BJ's juco team won its regional tournament to keep its perfect record intact and advance to the national tournament. I suspect BJ will be in demand at a number of women's college programs after this run. Good for him!

UH swept ANOTHER ranked team this weekend, Louisiana-Lafayette, on the road, and was rewarded with a two-spot bump in the rankings, to #8.

The UH men's basketball program got an invite to the NIT. That's a good step in the right direction for a program that's been terrible for a decade. Kudos to Ray McCallum for getting things turned around in his second season, despite being shorthanded.

The Sooners got SCREWED by the NCAA tourney committee. After having their way with #1 Kansas, the Sooners thought they had earned a #1 regional seeding. Instead, they got dropped in the toughest regional of the tourney as a #2 seed, and Cincinnati got the #1 seed. The NCAA tourney committee apparently made the decision prior to the conclusion of the KU game, assuming OU would lose. I think the seeding was arguable -- a case could be made for Cincy -- but for the committee to make the decision before the game was finished was crap. Kelvin Sampson should have forfeited the game and rested his players for the NCAA tourney. It may work out for the best for the Sooners, though. The #2 seed will play in Dallas, and Kelvin Sampson is a master motivator when he feels his team is being disrespected. And the NCAA showed some MAJOR disrespect to Kelvin.

And on the topic of Kansas -- don't you just get the sense that their struggle in the Big 12 final is merely the beginning of their annual tourney-time swoon under Roy Williams? The guy is obviously a great coach, but he's never going to get the respect of a legend until his teams do something in Big Dance after winning so many games in the regular season.

[Posted at 23:58 CST on 03/11/02] [Link]

10 March 2002

Six Months After

Jeff Jarvis has posted his sermon on 9/11, six months after.

It seems like the most appropriate way to end my posting for the day.

Don't forget the CBS documentary tonight.

[Posted at 13:17 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

LGF Correction

Charles Johnson sets the record straight on his part in the whole Rall Cartoon/NY Times controversy, after a few people got a little carried away with their descriptions.

[Posted at 13:10 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

War IS Tough

I ran across this blurb describing an article in the LA Times today:

Mideast: If the U.S. opts for military action against Hussein, the battle could prove to be America's toughest in decades.
Undoubtedly, journalists who write this EVERY TIME America considers military action will be right one of these days, because military actions halfway across the world are fraught with uncertainty and should never be undertaken lightly. But just a few months ago, the same journalists were putting out the same sorts of warnings about Afghanistan. They put out the same sorts of warnings against Iraq a decade or so ago.

This is not to say they are wrong about Iraq. It may very well get ugly. But the frequency and glee with which journalists like to point out the possibility (making it seem almost as if they are hoping for body bags) doesn't always help their credibility.

[Posted at 13:01 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

Bitter Mary

Why does bitter Mary McGrory (Bitter Mary here from now on, though I haven't updated the Glossary page) rate a column in the Sunday Washington Post?

I know, I know -- I don't have to read her, and I really should save myself the trouble. But I make a point of reading all sorts of papers, magazines, and columnist I'm inclined not to agree with, as intelligent people really ought to make some effort to do. Some are better than others, and I can at least concede they have a legitimate view even if I disagree. But then there's this kind of crap from Bitter Mary (whose nonsense I've written about before):

The demonization of Bill Clinton will go on. But there is evidence the Republicans are grooming another ogre in waiting. Tom Daschle, the small, humble, considerate Senate majority leader, is unimaginably unpromising as material for a heavy. Republicans are undeterred. In commercials aired in his native South Dakota, he is depicted as an enabler of Saddam Hussein. When he asked sensible questions about the war policy, Republican leader Trent Lott accused him of trying to divide the nation, and House Republican whip Tom DeLay termed him "disgusting." He is baited in the insiders' weekly the Hill and in the conservative Washington Times.

What the effect has been on voters is yet to be determined, but the hammering is taking its toll on Daschle. Last week he lost his famous even temper. He rounded on the Baltimore Sun's congressional correspondent, Karen Hosler, and, with flashing eyes, accused her of calling him an obstructionist. All were amazed.

He obviously doesn't understand the Republicans' continuing need for villains. It's their substitute for policy.

Hmm... I suppose the facts that Daschle has bottled up Senate business with a new majoritarianism, or allowed (if not encouraged) judicial nominations to be bottled up, or has criticized the war effort of the United States (which he supports "on occasion"), or refuses to allow debate on ANWR drilling to come to the floor because he will lose -- none of those matters are legitimate policy disagreements. Because Republicans don't have policy preferences. They just operate by character assassination to cover up their inadequacies (Never mind that it's not the GOP, but the Dems, in their destruction of James Pickering, who have been the ones to use that tactic most prominently of late). And they're picking on a "small, humble, considerate" man to boot!

EARTH TO BITTER MARY: What the bloody hell are you talking about?

Thoughtful liberals, libertarians, and conservatives are all worth reading. And then there's Bitter Mary.

[Posted at 12:30 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

In-N-Out

I've only been to California once, for a summer stay at Claremont, but I loved the experience. One thing I've never quite been able to explain to my fellow Texans is In-N-Out Burger, which is just a fabulous chain. The closest thing in Texas, rural Texas as least, is probably Dairy Queen, which is a full step above the franchised Dairy Queens across the rest of the country (the Texas franchises apparently even report to a Texas headquarters, not the national HQ). Anyway, Ken Layne describes the magic of In-N-Out Burger. I'm hungry!

[Posted at 11:23 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

Mary Cutrufello


Mary at Rudz (click to enlarge)

I caught old favorite Mary Cutrufello with Callie and Camille (a good, old friend who is visiting) at Rudz last night, and she put on a damn good show. Mary's always good, but last night she seemed REALLY happy, and really worked the upstairs crowd at Rudz. I used to laugh at fans of the Counting Crows when they described CC shows with references to whether or not Adam Duritz (another dreadlocked one, like Mary) seemed happy, but with some performers it does seem to make a difference. Mary jammed last night.

I wish the photo had turned out better. Unlike my tried and true manual Pentax K-1000, my digital camera doesn't perform very well in low-light conditions.

Afterwards, we were entertained by a Ukrainian worker at Diedrich's-Westheimer. I used to love that location, but in the past couple of years I've become a bigger fan of the Montrose location. I've not done much hanging in coffee shops over the past six months of intense diss work in any case, and it was kind of fun. I'd forgotten how enjoyable, actually.

Posting will be light today. More entertaining, plus proofreading the dissertation draft, and, of course, the 9/11 special on CBS tonight.

[Posted at 11:10 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

Why America Sometimes "Goes It Alone"

The next time a European colleague asks me "Why don't you trust us?" or "Why does America insist on going it alone all the time?" I don't know if I'll bother coming up with an original response. I think instead I might just send the person to Den Beste's commentary on France. Perhaps along with the admonition, "F*ck the French."

[Posted at 10:49 CST on 03/10/02] [Link]

09 March 2002

The Dean

A few days ago, David Broder penned a column attacking (probably too strong a term -- Broder is always purposely mild in his "attacks") the Bush Administration for its alleged "secrecy" in a number of areas. One such area was the so-called "shadow government" plans:

Meantime, key legislators in both parties were chagrined to learn from The Post's Barton Gellman and Susan Schmidt that Bush had instituted a "shadow government" of sequestered senior civil servants after the 9-11 attacks without telling anyone on Capitol Hill.

Bush is absolutely right in saying that he has "an obligation as the president [to] put measures in place that, should somebody be successful in attacking Washington, D.C., [would guarantee] there's an ongoing government."

But it is inexplicable that he would not share his prudent action with all four top congressional leaders, with whom he meets weekly, so they would have the reassurance that came from that knowledge. If he cannot trust them that far, what does it imply?

Now, almost immediately after the Post reporters "broke" this non-story, it was debunked in a number of places; Brit Hume's column is one such example. But nobody took the "Dean" of D.C. journalists to task for reporting this debunked tale as fact in support of his broader thesis. Nobody ever takes the "Dean" to task on anything he writes, no matter how dubious (although he's often sufficiently inoffensive and bland as to avoid dubious statements). Why?

I think it's akin to the world of bloggery. Think of the "Dean" as an A-Lister. Many bloggers don't want to take the chance of offending an A-lister, lest they ruin any chance of ever getting that elusive link from said A-lister that means they've been (or will be) "discovered." Some bloggers will, of course, take an A-Lister to task in order to try to get said A-Lister to recognize them for their provocative dissenting view. And others of us find the whole rat race for A-Lister links to be more than a little absurd) (I wish I had thought of that, actually! It still makes me laugh). But the end result is that there's very little criticism of A-Listers, or of the "Dean."

[Posted at 14:33 CST on 03/09/02] [Link]

Leaks

Den Beste thinks this leak of a classified document on nuclear strategy comes intentionally from the Bush Administration. That's plausible, but I lean in slightly in another direction.

Without seeing the document itself, it's hard to know exactly what's in it (Arkin's assessment is here, but it should be noted that Arkin's view of deterrence theory is colored by his opposition to nuclear weapons). We do know that major players in the Bush DoD, unlike the major players in the previous DoD, do favor a nuclear warfighting strategy, and believe that a nuclear deterrent is only effective if credible, which means you must figure out when and where you are willing to use nukes, especially tactical nukes. For example, my old grad school mentor, the current assistant secretary for international security policy, is a longtime advocate of the nuclear warfighting strategy (as is his mentor, Bill Van Cleave), and discussed the nuclear posture review in January.

But there hasn't really been a prominent Democrat who's an advocate of a serious nuclear warfighting strategy since Scoop Jackson. It wouldn't shock me if some Congressional Democrat -- maybe even Tom Daschle's office, since he's taken a pounding recently on war issues -- leaked this document, in the attempt to gain some elusive political traction. I hope that's not the case, because it would not reflect well on the Dems. But I think it's also a plausible scenario.

[Posted at 11:37 CST on 03/09/02] [Link]

An Engineer's Card

Steven Den Beste's new card seems entirely appropriate: classy and functional.

[Posted at 10:44 CST on 03/09/02] [Link]

08 March 2002

Counterclockwise Sighting!

As longtime readers know, back before 11 September, this was more of a personal journal. It dealt with a fair amount with politics and political philosophy, because those are my passions, but it also dealt with work and time off and people and personal sorts of matters.

Lately, I've not written much at all here about work. That's not because the place has suddenly been overcome with brilliance. It hasn't; indeed, it has suffered from brain drain (one of the people who has left, my good friend and old mentor Mr. Kellas, will be visiting over the next week or so, so if postings die down for a few days, that's why). But I have found that instead of bitching all the time, I can actually correct some of the idiocy if I'm diplomatic. And I've had a fair amount of success at it lately. That's not to say that stupid things don't still annoy me, but I guess I'm getting better at dealing with them when they actually affect my work directly or indirectly. It's been kind of interesting practicing the fine art of corporate diplomacy and getting something done. But I wonder when it will start to bore.

Also at work today, there was a Counterclockwise spotting! Callie asked about Clockwise and Counterclockwise (ewww.... what about that old web design that was intended for frames? ugh) a while back, and I had to admit that I hadn't seen either of them in ages. But Counterclockwise made a half lap today before disappearing.

[Posted at 23:37 CST on 03/08/02] [Link]

Conservative Lovelies

Since the whole blowup at NRO, which seemed to motivate her to write particularly inflammatory, bad columns for a while, I've not had much to say about the Lovely Ann Coulter. But I thought this column on Richard Posner's Breaking the Deadlock was a particularly fun piece of writing. Not quite Reductio material, but fun!

Speaking of fun, I didn't realize The Lovely Debbie Schlussel wrote such good stuff.

For those wondering about the "Lovely" references, check out the glossary.

[Posted at 21:56 CST on 03/08/02] [Link]

Chicks With Guns (Sounds Sexy)


Good Friend and Chick With Gun, The Lovely Evelynne

The NY Times is so lame.

They've discovered that -- lo and behold -- women after 11 September are suddenly less optimistic that the government can protect them at all times and in all circumstances, and have been purchasing large number of handguns.

I suppose the paper has its constituencies to please, but this is really a poor article.

[Posted at 21:21 CST on 03/08/02] [Link]

Back To Normal

Proof that things in America are finally back to normal after 11 September: the release of a neo-Marxist book by a sociologist on the "oppressive" effects of the institution of marriage on women.

The review I've linked finds more fault with the book than I expected from a review in the CSM.

[Posted at 21:18 CST on 03/08/02] [Link]

07 March 2002

Atlee Savages Clunky Bloggy Terms

Atlee emails with the observation that the verb "savage" has supplanted the evil "takedown" as THE overused clunky term in blogland, and she's displeased:

You know, I don't mind some of the other terms people employ nearly so much -- "Fisking" amuses me, self-referential and precious as it may be -- but "takedown" and "savage" are two particularly clumsy words. If we're going to be repetitive, can't we at least do it stylishly?
No argument here, although I must admit that on my more "serious" site, Reductio Ad Absurdum, there is one instance of my use of a variant of the term (the February archives). But now that it's been noted, I'll try not to use it, say, more than once per month, if at all! :)

Speaking of Reductio, Benjamin and Mena Trott (the programmers behind Movable Type) were kind enough to name it a Spotlight Site on the MT website today. Thanks guys, for the great software and the nice plug!

[Posted at 22:36 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

ER

Did anyone watch ER tonight? Wasn't it a lot like The Breakfast Club?

Not that that's a bad thing.

[Posted at 22:23 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

Daschle Is Patriotic "On Occasion"

The major media has recently made a big deal of Tom Daschle backtracking, and now "supporting" Bush and the war effort.

But this is a pretty interesting quote from him:

"I think that on occasion it is important for us to speak with one voice in support of our troop efforts, and we're looking for an opportunity to do that," said Mr. Daschle, South Dakota Democrat.
On occasion it's important to support America's war effort?

Hmm... it strikes me that not much has changed with Tom Daschle's view at all -- and that his "patriotism" like his other qualities, reeks of political opportunism.

[Posted at 21:22 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

Peck Peck Peck

Researchers haven't found any conclusive evidence of the ivory-billed woodpecker in Lousiana, but James Gorman is still on the case for the NY Times.

Nothing like relevant, cutting-edge journalism from the grey lady, eh?

[Posted at 21:08 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

Is That My Uterus?

You just have to love the reasoning in Muslim societies. Some Muslim sects do not allow surrogate motherhood, so one solution is to pursue uterus transplants

Isn't it kind of funny when technology is used to circumvent backwards, anti-rational mentalities? But wouldn't it be better just to confront the backwards, anti-rational mentalities head on?

[Posted at 21:01 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

You're The Inspiration

If Glenn Reynolds has been your inspiration to enter the world of blogging, he'd like you to let him know.

[Posted at 20:56 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

McCallum's Coogs

The Houston Cougars scored an unlikely upset in the Conference USA men's basketball tourney today over Memphis to take their record to 18-13, even more impressive after some recent negative events.

18 wins may be enough to get Houston in the NIT, which would be the first postseason in many years, and a sign that Ray McCallum has finally reversed the decline that began after Guy V. Lewis retired so many years ago. That reversal has its down side, since McCallum is likely to become a hot prospect for other teams. Houston's new athletic director would be wise to reward McCallum with a new compensation package that makes it harder for him to leave, because McCallum is a smart young coach who seems to run a classy program.

And who knows -- McCallum may be smart enough to see that Houston may have more to offer than some suitors who will come calling. The tradition has faded, but there are still memories of Guy V. Lewis's Phi Slama Jama teams, Houston is a fertile basketball recruiting ground in a state that values football much more highly than basketball, UH can compete with the other basketball powers in the state (Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech) and the combination of this city and coach are at least as appealing as Austin/Barnes and moreso than Waco/Bliss and Lubbock/Knight, and Conference-USA is a major conference in basketball if nothing else.

The NIT would be a good step for UH, and I hope they get in. Of course, it would be fun to sail through the C-USA tourney and make the big dance, but the next opponent (#13 Marquette) makes that unlikely.

[Posted at 20:24 CST on 03/07/02] [Link]

06 March 2002

My Cousin

My friend David Hamby sends along this little blurb from the Tulsa World's Call the Sports Editor feature:

Smith the man for OSU

I think OSU should consider B.J. Smith, who is the head coach of NEO's No. 1 nationally ranked juco women's basketball team, for their women's basketball coaching opening. His team of freshmen and sophomores could already beat a lot of Division I schools.

OSU could do a lot worse than my cousin BJ, who has coached at several small schools now and built every single one into a winner. But this year, he's outdone himself -- his junior college team is undefeated, has been #1 virtually the entire year, and has demolished the competition. In his two years at NEO, he's built a nice .913 winning percentage. I'm proud as hell of my cousin, and figured I should brag a little for him since he's one of the most humble people I know.

[Posted at 20:40 CST on 03/06/02] [Link]

05 March 2002

Cragg

Cragg Hines is a joke.

It's telling that he's one of the best columnists the dreadful Chron has on staff.

[Posted at 22:47 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Bad Smell

I'm sure Mayor Pothole would deny there is any whiff of cronyism here, but something certainly doesn't smell quite right.

[Posted at 21:11 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Recycling Coaches

The BoSox moved again today, firing Joe Kerrigan as manager and elevating (for the time being) first-year BoSox third-base coach Mike Cubbage.

So, the Astros now have last year's BoSox skipper running their ship, and the BoSox now have last year's Astros' bench coach running theirs.

I wonder who will get the job permanently.

[Posted at 19:24 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Karimov's Non-Shocker

Uzbekistan's President Karimov wants the United States to maintain its presence in Central Asia.

That's not exactly a shocker.

[Posted at 19:10 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

In Search Of The Appropriate Euphemism

Jonathan Yardley takes Doris Kearns Goodwin and Stephen Ambrose to task for their convoluted use of language to deny their plagiarism. I liked this description of Goodwin:

Whether this is in truth "her own book" would seem to be a dubious proposition in light of the admission that Goodwin and her assembly line -- three full-time researchers, according to the New York Times, and one part-timer -- had "borrowed" the words and ideas of others, but one is forced to acknowledge that "borrowed" is about as ingenious a euphemism as one can imagine, right up there with "friendly fire" and "courtesy call" and "collateral damage." It simultaneously admits the offense and denies it: Yes, something was taken, but since it was merely "borrowed," it can be given back with no harm done. Why, it really didn't happen at all!

It sounds almost Clintonian, doesn't it?

[Posted at 19:06 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Understanding America

Kathy Kinsley's "Understanding America" is a fine bit of writing.

Go read it.

[Posted at 18:56 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

California Dreamin'

There's quite a bit of blogging and cross-blogging about the gubernatorial race in California today, but I haven't seen many links to this William Bradley piece (in which the author speculates that should Bill Simon win, Gray Davis may handle him as easily as he did Dan Lungren) and Patrick Ruffini's thoughts (unlike most bloggers who write about politics, Ruffini has analyzed lots of real, precinct-level political data from past elections, and thus speaks with some authority about elections more broadly).

[Posted at 18:49 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

The Jerry Jones Drafting Philosophy

Jerry 'Cher' Jones
Jerry Jones, post-facial-reconstruction surgery

David Hamby alerts me to this ESPN Page 2 piece on my Dallas Cowboys, who just aren't as much fun when they are terrible. This paragraph made me laugh out loud:

Jones has also bivouacked in the Cowboys war room, where his draft philosophy is simple: Take the Best First Name Available. This strategy has yielded a bumper crop of exotic nomenclature -- Kavika, Shante, Ebenezer, Izell, Flozell, Alundis ("My Alundis flared up, so my doctor put me on Flozell"), Dat, Peppi, Daleroy, Char-ron, Stepfret, Orantes, Colston. Sadly, none of this collection has ever been named a Pro Bowler.
It seems like SO long ago when Jimmy Johnson exclaimed "How 'bout them Cowboys!"

[Posted at 18:36 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Another Take On Jimy Williams

Bostonian Matthew Crane emails the following thoughts on my enthusiasm for new Astros skipper Jimy Williams:

I'm not sure why you're so happy to have Jimy in Houston. He handles a pitching staff pretty well (although how much of that credit belongs to him vs. Joe Kerrigan is up to debate), but he will fill out some of the most confounding lineup cards you'll ever see, and his in-game substitutions make absolutely no sense. I figure he's personally responsible for about 4 or 5 extra losses by his mismanagement. If you watch alot of Astros games you will soon understand.

The local media treatment of the Sox has been bizarre to say the least. Their bogus narrative last season was good guy (Jimy) vs. bad guy (Duquette). The fact of the matter is that they were both bad guys and both needed to go. The timing of the Williams firing was a huge mistake because it took place after all of the injuries had decimated the team. Nobody was going to be able to lead that team to a playoff berth. They either should have fired Jimy after the 2000 season (how the heck do you lose the DH two nights in one week?) or let him play out the
string last year and made his firing after this year much easier.

[Posted at 18:17 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

Humility

It's good to see humility from one of the web's most popular political bloggers:

I can't believe that they [Salon] still have their lame sex-free sex-advice column despite all my taunting.
As the great Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon once said: Be Hungry, Stay Humble. What does that have to do with this post? Not a damn thing really, but lately sports is generating the most interest here, so why not go with the flow?

[Posted at 18:01 CST on 03/05/02] [Link]

04 March 2002

I'm A Criminal!

I officially became a criminal yesterday.

I'm a big fan of live music, especially the Texas indie scene. I never once used Napster when it was so popular. It seemed like thievery to me. I never used any of the alternative services either. Something about music file sharing just didn't seem right.

Until the recording industry decided that it would just be easier to treat me like a criminal, AND expect me to continue to pay exorbitant prices for the privilege!

No more. Over the last few days, I've been having a blast downloading MP3s of all sorts of songs I've purchased at some time, and quite a few that I've never purchased. And I've even found some old favorites that aren't even available any more. I've become a huge fan of AudioGalaxy, and a sometime fan of the current incarnation of Morpheus. I'm beginning to wonder why I ever held out.

Are these services a replacement for non-compressed audio? No, not in my view. The sound quality of MP3, even at the highest sampling rate, doesn't compare to what I can crank out of a true audio cd on my Yamaha sound system. And yes, discerning listeners DO notice, and will pay for the difference. And most people are willing to pay, in some fashion, to be able to acquire the music they want, in a format they can use as they see fit.

Of course, the industry doesn't care about any of that. It has a (flawed, obsolete) model that it wants to perpetuate. But the model is dead. And all the industry seems to be doing is alienating its customers. People who really aren't thieves.

But what do I know? The recording industry has turned me into the criminal they always knew I was. Very impressive.

[Posted at 22:17 CST on 03/04/02] [Link]

Coogs #10

Look at those Houston Cougars, rocketing to as high as the ten spot in one college baseball poll after a nice week against ranked teams.

This could be a special season if a few more questions get answered.

[Posted at 21:56 CST on 03/04/02] [Link]

The Challenger

One Anne Thompson wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post a week or so ago that still is somewhat shocking to me. The author, you see, is an undergraduate at Georgetown, and describes herself as "active in anti-death penalty causes." And apparently she decided that the occasion of a visit by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, arguably the most principled member of the Court (whether one agrees with those principles or not) and a purported Catholic, was the perfect opportunity for her to "challenge" Scalia to reconcile Catholicism with the death penalty. Now, the thought of any undergraduate seriously "challenging" Scalia, whose formidable intellect is respected by both opponents and allies, is kind of funny. Funny, or preposterous. Hard to choose.

But it's a question that Scalia appears to have pondered, and it seems he gave a fairly thoughtful response (although in retrospect, perhaps he should have dismissed the precocious Miss Thompson as he's been known to dismiss bad arguments during oral questioning). But the response wasn't nearly thoughtful enough for Miss Thompson, who apparently fancies herself more thoughtful on Catholicism, Christianity, and political philosophy. She concludes,

While current church authorities have recognized that the death penalty violates the fundamental moral teachings of Catholicism and have called for the abolition of capital punishment, Justice Scalia continues to cling to the ideas of the past in order to advance his own political beliefs about the death penalty. Scalia must be reminded that turning to the past and molding religious tenets to fit personal ideologies are dangerous courses for all faiths and societies.
Huh?! Scalia clings to the religious ideas of the past -- well, actually he molds those religious ideas -- in order to fit his personal ideologies? Well, I'm glad Miss Thompson cleared that up for us.

Two questions -- who has filled this young lady's brain with this mush masquerading as reasoned analysis, and why didn't the Washington Post have the good sense to let Georgetown's student paper run with it?

Let me just add that 1) I'm not Catholic and 2) the death penalty is not a salient political issue to me. But precocious undergrads challenging Scalia? Come on.

[Posted at 21:48 CST on 03/04/02] [Link]

03 March 2002

UH Pounds More Ranked Teams

After taking two of three from #3 LSU last week -- the victory in the rubber game coming in dramatic fashion -- the Coogs have headed West and begun roughing up ranked teams out there. They beat host Cal State-Fullerton (#11) on Friday, and beat USC (#17) on Saturday, ensuring they will be at least 2-1 on a tough road weekend against ranked competition no matter what happens today. That's good work.

(Update) UH beat #6 Miami today to sweep the tourney on Cal State Fullerton's home field, taking them to 9-3 on the (very young) season against ranked opponents. I expect UH to get a nice little boost in the polls when they are released.

[Posted at 12:03 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

Is Jerry Jones Learning?

Jerry Jones sounds like he's learned his lesson on overrated, overpriced free agents (Deion Sanders, anyone? Or more recently, Mark Stepnoski? Or... well, I don't have enough storage space for the entire list, but you get the idea).

But the fact remains, the Cowboys haven't had a solid draft since Jimmy Johnson was booted, and their disastrous free-agency dabbling has compounded the problem. They do have a chance to begin to make an impact with this draft and this free-agency period, but the Jones track record doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

[Posted at 11:53 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

(Hearty?) Recommendation

Did anyone see the subtle little shot TNR's Jonathan Chait took at bloggers a couple of days ago? He opened his piece as follows:

If you read my colleague Andrew Sullivan's weblog--and, if not, I heartily recommend it to all political junkies who use the Internet for procrastination--you no doubt have come across him attacking Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.
How about that? You political junkies who use the net for procrastination (presumably because thoughtful people and real journalists do not, right?) should check out Sullivan's blog. But it couldn't possibly be of any real interest to anyone else.

I wonder why Chait felt the need to take that shot? Or if it is was even intentional. I don't entirely buy into the whole "journalists feel threatened by us bloggers" view that's so pervasive, but some journalists do seem to have a negative view of the phenomenon. Why?

[Posted at 11:24 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

The Resume Burden Of The Big E

For all of the e-journalists and bloggers who tripped over themselves to see who could best play follow-the-leader in linking this mean little piece that basically accuses the vast majority of Enron workers of perpetuating fraud (I dissented here), here's a NY Times article (oh no, the local Chron wouldn't have such local coverage!) about what is happening to real people as a result of that prevailing mindset. Never mind that Enron once was a cutting edge firm that employed the best and brightest -- everyone who ever worked there is now tainted, fairly or (mostly) unfairly, with no regard to the quality of their work or their talents. I'm glad that Michael Lewis is so much better than them, and can pass (blanket) judgments on them instead of having maybe just a little compassion and an open mind.

[Posted at 10:56 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

Bitter Mary

When I saw the headline of Mary McGrory's latest nonsense ("The Senator Explodes"), I thought perhaps [bloa]Ted Kennedy had finally met his match at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Alas, I shouldn't expect anything that interesting from Bitter Mary, as experience shows. Her concluding sentence basically sums up her entire bitter, cynical, shriveled view of the world:

Things will only get worse if nobody complains, as Harry Reid has concluded.
Thanks, Bitter Mary, for that insight, and we shall read your constant complaining accordingly.

[Posted at 10:41 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

Yates

Ginger looks at the whole Yates controversy more analytically than much of the "faux-hardass" warblogger crowd has so far, and with more of an eye for local detail (as might be expected -- we're not as hip as our LA and NYC brethren, or even as tight necessarily, but the local bloggers do occasionally have some informed insight on Houston and Texas affairs). Whether one ultimately agrees or not, her argument is well worth considering, and hers is a refreshing (dissenting) voice on this topic.

[Posted at 10:05 CST on 03/03/02] [Link]

02 March 2002

Light Posting

Posting has been a little light lately, as last night was devoted to catching up with a grad school buddy over copious amounts of beer and wine.

Today, I'm playing interior decorator, because it's probably time to finish unpacking after moving into this place, oh, something like 8 months ago.

However, I've posted links to all sorts of goodies at Reductio Ad Absurdum, including a really interesting review of Mark Lilla's The Reckless Mind. Go read! :)

[Posted at 13:23 CST on 03/02/02] [Link]

Richardson Bounced

The administration at the University of Arkansas finally forced out Nolan Richardson yesterday. Richardson's comments on the racial situation in the state were probably a little out of line -- but only a little, as any thoughtful person who's been to the backwaters of Harrison (if not Fayetteville) in the last decade probably understands. The idea that Richardson had to be called on the carpet by an administration "concerned" he had harmed the reputation of the university is a little laughable. The state has earned its racial reputation over many years, and some conversation on the current state of affairs is probably overdue, even if Richardson's outburst wasn't the best way to go about it.

But, of course, the administration would rather not hurt Houston Nutt's football recruiting by having any sort of conversation like that, and so it finally had an excuse to chase Richardson, whose teams haven't been as good in recent years as they were in the mid 90s, out of town. Such dismissals don't just happen overnight -- or in less than a week. Rest assured, the administration had to have been plotting a way to get rid of Richardson for a while, and his little outburst was probably motivated as much by his recognition of that as anything.

I'm not going to defend Nolan Richardson as a perfect human being, because gawd knows I have not yet ascended to that lofty status. But he did a great job building a basketball program under some difficult (racial) circumstances at Arkansas, and probably deserved a better ending. I'm sure at some point, we'll hear his side of what went down, and that will make interesting reading.

In the meantime, I suspect Arkansas is going to have a difficult time finding someone to uphold, let alone build on, Richardson's legacy at Arkansas, especially given that the SEC has become such a serious basketball conference. Sometimes, administrators should be careful what they wish for, because they get it.

(03-03-02 Update): "He's basically being fired because folks basically don't like how he came across, and he's being fired after he apologized for it."

[Posted at 13:17 CST on 03/02/02] [Link]

01 March 2002

Blogger Pros

More funny stuff at Soundbitten this week. An excerpt:

Not surprisingly, Foxnews.com has taken the blogosphere by storm. And it's not the only new blogging tool stealing market share from Blogger. Techcentralstation.com is proving popular with bloggers too, and there's even rumors that Microsoft, in characteristic embrace-and-extend fashion, may attempt to dominate the market with a new blogging application called Slate.
Who says a little dose of reality can't be amusing?

[Posted at 06:59 CST on 03/01/02] [Link]

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