Monday, July 31, 2006
. . . I spent every free moment I could with Evan the cobbler, whose workshop was not far from the manse and who had a reputation for seeing ghosts. I also learned Welsh from Evan, picking it up very quickly, because I liked his stories much better than the endless psalms and biblical verses I had to learn by heart for Sunday school. . . . Evan told tales of the dead who had been struck down by fate untimely, who knew they had been cheated of what was due to them and tried to return to life. If you had an eye for them they were to be seen quite often, said Evan. At first glance they seemed to be normal people, but when you looked more closely their faces would blur or flicker slightly at the edges. And they were usually a little shorter than they had been in life, for the experience of death, said Evan, diminishes us, just as a piece of linen shrinks when you first wash it. The dead almost always walked alone, but they did sometimes go around in small troops; they had been seen wearing brightly colored uniforms or wrapped in gray cloaks, marching up the hill above the town to the soft beat of a drum, and only a little taller than the walls round the fields through which they went. Evan told me the story of how his grandfather once had to step aside on the road from Frongastell to Pyrsau to let one of these ghostly processions pass by when it caught up with him. It had consisted entirely of beings of dwarfish stature who strode at a fast pace, leaning forward slightly and talking to each other in reedy voices. Hanging from a hook on the wall above Evan's low workbench . . . was the black veil that his grandfather had taken from the beir when the small figures muffled in their cloaks carried it past him, and it was certainly Evan . . . who once told me that nothing but a piece of silk like that separates us from the next world.W.G. Sebald, Austerlitz 53-54 (Random House 2001).
Not making the CT.
[T]he advice Clinton gave [Lieberman is . . .] a great expression of the Democratic Party of 1996: You got your enviros, you got your minorities, you got your women. Each group has one issue. For the enviros, it’s ANWR (the most trivial of victories, but the one that raises the money). For the minorities, affirmative action. (Likewise, of minor relevance to the actual structure of economic opportunity for most African-Americans and Latinos.) For women, it’s all about “preserve abortion rights.” There are a couple others, but those are the basic buttons you press to be credentialed as a good liberal Democrat. After you press them, you can do whatever you want.
But has Lieberman failed to press those buttons? No! In fact, he’s been pounding on them like that guy at the elevator who thinks that if he presses “Down” hard enough and often enough, eventually the elevator will recognize how important and how late he is.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Brand new favorite.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
NYT, via War and Piece.
“If you speak the truth here you are called a traitor,” Mr. Abdullah said. “But we all know that this is a war between Iran and America. I am paying part of the price for it.” Then he suddenly grew pensive as he stood at the edge of the trench.
“That’s my daughter, No. 9,” he said, pointing at a coffin coming out of the truck as. “It’s a nice number, don’t you think? And No. 7, it’s a nice number, too. It’s my wife. And there’s No. 10. I hope they will be lucky.”
How to feed an insurgency.
Senior U.S. intelligence officers in Iraq later estimated that about 85 percent of the tens of thousands rounded up were of no intelligence value. But as they were delivered to Abu Ghraib prison, they overwhelmed the system and often waited for weeks to be interrogated, during which time they could be recruited by hard-core insurgents, who weren't isolated from the general prison population.WaPo. Then, you torture them.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Friday night music blogging.
The Strokes, Trying Your LuckWow: I'm not sure when I last listened to any of those tracks.
The Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir, Shopski Tantsek
Mozart, Mass in C, Coronation -- Sanctus
Oscar Peterson, Easy Does It
Lucinda Williams, Essence
Husker Du, Books About UFO's
George Jones, Flame In My Heart
Nirvana, Come As You Are
Woody Guthrie, Pastures Of Plenty
Talking Heads, Swamp
An act of pride.
His deepest convictions.
I have been a consistent critic of the Republican tax and budget policies. But it is my view that those who advocate those policies believe them to be beneficial to economic growth. You may believe it is all a conspiracy to enrich the super-rich. But we have to part company when you got down that road.-- is a sort of religious belief, a (mistaken) empirical assessment, a studied pose that he accepts as necessary to do his job, or a convention that he is no longer able to reconsider. In any event, it's maddening.
A tale of tails.
My kind of road trip.
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Stop him before he legislates again.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
While attending a wedding by myself on Saturday night . . ., I stood behind two adolescent boys in the buffet line. Both of them turned their noses up at the endless variety of sushi laid out in beautiful, color-coordinated designs. By the time they had made it to the middle of the table neither of them had put anything on their plates, and then one of them saw a huge bowl of wasabi. He nudged his friend, pointed at the green mass and asked, “What is that?”Some lessons have to be learned.
The other boy’s body relaxed with a huge sigh of relief, and then he said, “Dude! They’ve got guacamole! I love this stuff!”
And because my insides are as black as the jam underneath Satan’s toenails I didn’t stop him from scooping a baseball-sized portion onto his plate.
Let's just say he didn't like the movie.
As vacation time nears, it is safe to say that no matter how rotten things get on the big screen during the rest of the summer, the worst of it is over. Hollywood cannot pollute the ozone with anything more idiotic, contrived, amateurish or sub-mental than Lady in the Water. This piece of pretentious, paralyzing twaddle is the latest in a series of head-scratchers by the incompetent, self-delusional M. Night Shyamalan. He’s the writer, producer and director, and terrible at all three, but if that isn’t bad enough, this time he has even gone one further and cast himself in one of the roles. I am here to tell you he is about as camera-ready as the corpse that Tommy Lee Jones dragged across the cactus in Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. In a war of wits, brains, imagination and talent, Mr. Shyamalan would be defenseless.And then it starts to go downhill.
The wrong internship?
Recently, we heard from Jonathan Aminoff, who’s spending the summer working as an intern in the office of the San Francisco Public Defender. Aminoff, who has kept a diary of sorts on his experience, is a student at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles with a public-interest streak — prior to law school he worked at the Eviction Defense Collaborative and the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco.
In his first week, Aminoff accompanied a lawyer to prison, where they met with a client — a crack addict who graduated from Cal Berkeley, Aminoff’s alma mater — and helped facilitate his release. A few days later, Aminoff’s supervising attorney Paul Myslin handed him a story from the San Francisco Chronicle: “I read it closely, instantly recognizing the name of the prisoner from the day before. He was arrested for carjacking, kidnapping, and then raping a nun in the mission district of San Francisco. I begin to question my desire to join the public defender’s office.”
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
But how are the ratings?
I'm taking in the major Sunday talk shows this AM, and I have to say it is manifestly clear we are facing a real leadership crisis in this country. How the level of debate has become this dumbed-down, or hyperbolic, or clueless, well I'm not quite sure, but we very clearly have a real problem on our hands. This is a country whose political class is rudderless just now--pretty much on both sides of the aisle--as events are overtaking people's belief systems, modes of analysis, and general understanding of regional dynamics in the Middle East--and their impact on vital US interests. It's a rather alarming spectacle, to be sure.I deal with this spectacle by refusing to watch the Sunday talk shows, which are wretched. Are they wretched because the usefulness of TV as a medium for serious discussion has declined, or are they wretched because creeping partisanship has left us with clueless leaders?
Saturday, July 15, 2006
To whom do you let?
“US clients often ask landlords to replace all the carpets in a property with wooden floors and will reject properties without mixer taps because they think individual hot taps are dangerous,” says Virginia Skilbeck, lettings director of agency Douglas & Gordon. And “you can’t let a property to a US client without a power shower.”And so on.
. . . British king-size beds are also out “because American king-size beds are bigger”, says Jane Ingram, head of lettings at Savills. And “they want huge fridge-freezers with an ice-cube maker and filtered water on demand.” Mark Horak . . . had an American client who lived in furnished flats all over the world and always took her own oven with her. “Features that are ‘must haves’ to American tenants include a large kitchen for family entertaining, a large play area, often in the basement, and neutral décor with glossy wooden floors throughout,” says Dairin Garnier, head of lettings at Henry & James . . . .
. . . Crisp, contemporary interiors with wooden floors, designer fittings, double-glazing and lots of natural light appeal to Scandinavians. Australian and South African tenants are keen on having a private outdoor space that’s big enough for barbecue parties. The Swiss opt for uncluttered interiors with plenty of natural wood, while Japanese tenants are keen on minimal, almost clinically decorated properties that are easy to maintain. “Asians tend to go for hotel-style apartments in modern, purpose-built developments with sleek corridors, lifts and porters,” Horak says. And, since they tend to remove their shoes indoors, it’s essential to have good, clean floors.
Friday, July 14, 2006
The ur-story of the web.
How often had I stared at myself naked in the mirror hoping that the New York Times might subsidize my writing therapy? It was only through writing an op-ed column that I might be able to purge myself of these demons.Credit Edward Champion for putting the thought into words.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
People attend football matches in the belief that they, like the spectator of any other sport, will see either victory or defeat; they accept it as their condition that they will see neither. They accept that they will not witness a goal being scored. A goal is an unnatural event. There are so many obstacles: the offsides rule, the congestion in the penalty box, the narrowness of the goal itself, the training of the keeper and his defenders. But then, such is the game and its merciless punishment of its spectators that even when the unnatural occurs and a goal is scored, they can never be sure that they have seen it. It is one of the fallacies of the game that there is no thrill greater than watching the scoring of the goal; it is one of the facts that most people miss it. The goal itself is a see-through box of threads, and unless you are looking upon it from up high or into it from straight on or viewing it with the benefit of television cameras, you cannot tell when the ball has actually gone through and scored -- until it has hit the back of the net. In every goal except the penalty kick, there is a small period of perception when there is neither goal nor no goal: dead time. Dead time is not a long time in clock time -- there is the moment when the ball appears to be about to cross the line, and, later, there is the moment when it definitively hits or fails to hit the back of the net -- but in any kind of emotional chronology it can seem endless.Bill Buford, Among The Thugs 168 (Vintage, 1993).
Cross-posted at SweetDue.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
More One Percent.
Is it fair to say that in your book, your sympathies lie with former CIA Director George Tenet as he confronted both al-Qaeda and the White House?
I think it’s fair to say that there was an irresistible political urge that the White House embraced mightily to blame the CIA for not only pre-9-11 intelligence but the supposition of WMDs in Iraq and to essentially take no blame itself. Just getting the historical record correct as to what has gone on over the past few years will act in a way to rebalance people’s views of the CIA and Tenet. You know, I have no personal allegiance or affinity to anyone in the CIA or George Tenet. But as the reporting went forward it became clear that the CIA was getting blamed for everything right down to mortgage interest rates, and that was probably borne mostly of a) the fact that they couldn’t defend themselves and b) the desire of people throughout the government to have someone that they could blame that could not really respond. Tenet is a complex character, like all the characters. There are times when he trips and bumps his head and times when he does things that are quite heroic and quite effective.
The other point I think worth making is that the book shows very clearly that one of our greatest assets in fighting the war on terror is what I call trust relationships. Most of those trust relationships with Arab leaders were built up within the CIA through Tenet and a whole gang of folks. Where they can look people in the Arab world, who may not have a lot in common with us, look them right in the eye and say, “Here’s what I need to know and here’s when I need to know it,” and have frank discussions. Those trust relationships are very, very difficult to build. Many agents, not only those under Tenet but those who replaced them, have been washed away, and that has meant that many of the trust relationships have been washed away. That, I think, probably makes us weaker and more vulnerable at a time when we can’t afford that.
A low bar, granted.
One Red Paperclip.
Hamdan and electronic surveilance.
Via Volokh Conspirator Jonathan Adler. Meanwhile, Orin Kerr notes that the DOJ is sticking to its pre-Hamdan defense of the legality of the NSA's surveillance programs.
He just did everything right. There are many elements to the perfect headbutt, of which Zidane's size and strength were perhaps the least important. I was much more impressed with his technique, which was practically flawless. I am sure that Materazzi would agree with this assessment; perhaps for the first time in his life, he was left flying through the air and falling over because of actually being hit. I suppose the football fans will be less than pleased with the example that Zinedine set, but a young headbutter really could do no better than to emulate him in every detail.Via Chris Brooke at The Virtual Stoa.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
An advertisement for Alan Furst.
Monday, July 10, 2006
A description now rendered quaint.
No one had mentioned Tony to me before, but he was impossible to forget once you saw him. He was thin and tall -- he towered above everyone else -- and had an elaborate, highly styled haircut. The fact was Tony looked exactly like Michael Jackson. Even the color of his skin was Michael Jackson's.Bill Buford, Among The Thugs 55 (Vintage, 1993).
Saturday, July 08, 2006
What does it take to be a Supreme Court clerk?
Is the cause possible differences in innate intelligence at the tail ends of the bell curve (what I'd heard called the idiot-genius syndrome, which leads men to be overrepresented both among the very low-IQ and the very high-IQ)? Sex discrimination in law school classes (whether on the exam or before) or in hiring? Social pressures that push some women away from law school? Differences in innate ambition? Social pressures that lead men to be more ambitious than women (for instance, because less ambitious men face more condemnation from parents, peers, or prospective girlfriends than do less ambitious women, or because more ambitious women face more such condemnation than more ambitious men)? The tendency of women to marry at a somewhat younger age than men, coupled with a tendency of married people to on average be less likely than single people to move? (Moving is often needed to get the prestigious appellate clerkship that can help lead to a Supreme Court clerkship.) The greater tendency of women than men to have spouses or lovers who aren't easily movable, which may again make it less likely that women would move to get the prestigious appellate clerkship? A combination of some or all of the above?Volokh seems to be much more interested in hypotheses to explain why qualified women would be less likely to pursue Supreme Court clerkships than he is in hypotheses to explain why women are underrepresented in the ranks of those who are qualified. He only considers a couple of the latter, and both are a little to blunt to cut nicely.
It's a nice notion to think that law school exams test "innate intelligence," but I would hope that once the assumption is noted it starts to look suspect. Likewise with the other things -- apart from a willingness to relocate -- which go into building the sort of resume that sets you on the road to Capitol Hill. (In The Mismeasure Of Man, Stephen J. Gould examined this notion that there is a single, measurable quality of intelligence, another assumption that should start to look suspect once noted.)
Assume instead that law school exams measure how well you do at law school exams. If you had to prove that law schools have been designed to ensure that both genders are equally likely to do well, what would you point to? Not much. Whether it is law review editorial boards or the professors who design and grade courses, those who decide how to recognize performance have some commitment to the practices that put them where they are. You could call these discrimination, I suppose, but I suspect that Volokh meant something narrower and more conscious when he used the term. This commitment to tradition is not without its virtues, but would you expect law school traditions to advantage women?
Literality and fertility in agrarian Korea.
Anna Fifield, "Korea's childminder," Financial Times W1 (July 8/July 9, 2006).
"When we talked about condoms, we would show how to use them on a stick," says Shin, grabbing the golf club from the corner of his office to demonstrate. "But one day I went to a village and there were these condoms hanging on the fence posts. So I asked why they were there. The woman replied that after they had finished doing 'what married people do', they had put the condoms on the sticks as contraception.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Official camera of AIP.
eta: If that box doesn't take you directly to the camera, try this link.
Coming up dry.
The Daily News reported that the plotters wanted to blow up the Holland Tunnel, the southernmost link between Manhattan and New Jersey, in the hopes of flooding New York's financial district. The desired effect would be akin to the flooding that ravaged New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the newspaper said. . . .
It's unlikely that any plan to flood the financial district would work because it is above the level of the Hudson River.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
The sugar mouse ritual.
What happened was, Chris Roberts bought a sugar mouse from Jack Reynolds ('The Rock King'), but its head off, dropped it in the Newmarket Road before he could get started on the body, and it got run over by a car. And that afternoon Cambridge United, who had hitherto been finding life difficult in the Second Division (two wins all season, one home, one away), beat Orient 3-1, and a ritual was born. Before each home game we all of us trooped into the sweet shop, purchased our mice, walked outside, bit the head off as though we were removing the pin from a grenade, and tossed the torsos under the wheels of oncoming cars; Jack Reynolds would stand in the doorway watching us, shaking his head sorrowfully. United, thus protected, remained unbeaten at the Abbey for months.Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch 109-10 (Riverhead, 1998).
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
The One Percent Doctrine.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
What do customers ultimately buy after viewing items like this?Am I missing some connection here?
43% buy the item featured on this page: The Baltic by Alan Palmer $22.05
23% buy Blood Money : Wasted Billions, Lost Lives, and Corporate Greed in Iraq by T. Christian Miller $16.49
16% buy Jamestown, the Buried Truth by William M. Kelso $18.87
10% buy The Punishment of Virtue : Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban by Sarah Chayes $17.13
7% buy A Pickpocket's Tale: The Underworld of Nineteenth-Century New York by Timothy J. Gilfoyle $17.61
Monday, July 03, 2006
Declassifying national secrets for political gain.
On other occasions, the Vice President used the administrative declassification procedures to cherry-pick secrets for public consumption. Ron Suskind gives an example:
In mid-November 2004, a few weeks after the President's reelection, one of [CIA analytical chief Jami] Miscik's deputies returned from briefing the Vice President. He had a request for her. Cheney wanted a portion of a particular CIA report declassified and made public. Miscik knew the report -- it was about the complex, often catalytic connections between the war in Iraq and the wider war against terrorism. The item the Vice President wanted declassified was a small part that might lead one to believe that the war was helping the broader campaign against violent jihadists. The report, she knew, concluded nothing of the sort. Many of its conclusions flowed in the opposite direction. To release that small segment would be willfully misleading. She told the briefer to tell Cheney that she didn't think that was such a good idea.Ron Suskind, The One Percent Doctrine 340-41 (Simon & Schuster 2006).
The Vice President expressed his outrage to Porter Goss. A few days later, a call came from Goss's office. The call had been placed by one of Goss's executive assistants . . . . The deputy expressed the DCI's displeasure. He urged Miscik to reconsider. He described Goss's position succinctly: "Saying no to the Vice President is the wrong answer."
* * * * *
"Actually," she replied, "sometimes saying no to the Vice President is what we get paid for."
She hung up and fired off a memo to Goss, saying -- she later recalled -- that "this was just the sort of thing that had gotten us into trouble, time and again, over the past few years. Telling only half the story, the part that makes us look good, and keeping the rest classified. Eventually it comes out and it looks bad, real bad, and we lose moral capital."
A few days later, Miscik got word, again from a Goss deputy, that the DCI would reluctantly support her decision. A few weeks after that, she was gone. "It was only a matter of time at that point," she recalled.
Her memo -- a summation of a long-standing school of thought of which she is one of countless adherents -- is, of course, classified. That means, by accepted definitions of such things, that its release would compromise the security of the nation. Indeed.
Couldn't happen to a nicer person.
I am wackadoo, hear me roar.
Reddy is a subscriber to the notion of group karma, which "involves several people -- often family members but not necessarily in the same configuration -- reincarnating together to resolve unfinished business, so spouses might reincarnate as siblings or vice versa." She applies this to, among other things, the British royal family, in which she takes an almost unhealthy interest. (See her taken Princess Diana, saint and martyr.)She had me up to the Elvis thing.
In a not-to-be-missed chapter entitled "Royalty and Reincarnation," Reddy, having dropped the bombshell that Wallis Warfield Simpson, Duchess of Windsor, was the reincarnation of Richard III, provides a chart of the dramatis personae surrounding the abdication of Edward VIII to demonstrate that it all goes back to the Wars of the Roses. Wallis (or Richard), it seems, had a soul mission to atone for the murders of the little princes in the tower and to see that the crown was returned to its rightful heirs. Edward, Duke of Windsor, was once Richard's personal servant (he is given no name) and can once again doggedly devote himself to his monarch once Wallis has arrived on the scene. The little princes are, of course, Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret. And, in the same chapter, Elvis was King Tut.
The World Cup is stolen.
The small gold trophy had been brought from Brazil, and was put on display in the Central Hall, Westminster, under a heavy security guard, as part of a sporting and philatelic exhibition. On the morning of Sunday, March 20th, while a Methodist service was taking place on the ground floor of the building, the trophy disappeared, and the police could manage no more explanation than a sheepish head-scratching. “Nothing at all went wrong with our security,” one red-faced official was quoted as saying. “The Cup just got stolen.” Rewards were hastily offered, the Football Association made plans to replace the trophy, and then the lid of the Cup was mailed to the secretary of the F.A., along with a ransom demand. The embarrassment was international, but Britain itself had a general election in the works at the time, and managed to conceal its national blush. The affair, luckily, had the most English of endings. One week later, a Mr. David Corbett was taking a Sunday-evening stroll with his mongrel dog, Pickles, in a South London suburb, when Pickles began to sniff under a bush, and Corbett uncovered a newspaper-wrapped bundle that proved to contain the Jules Rimet Trophy. One of the plotters, a Mr. Edward Bletchley, was eventually run to earth by a Detective-Inspector Buggy, and, after a bit of a squabble, Pickles collected a substantial share of the reward, was presented with a year’s supply of dog food, got himself a film contract at double the normal dog rates, and became a national canine hero.
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