Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Lewis failed to mention the equally surprising pertinence of superficially unrealistic elements in the Lord of the Rings. Here are a few that suggest the influence of 1914—1918: the sweeping surveillance of the Eye of Sauron, the moments when reality shifts into dream during those long marches, or into nightmare in the midst of battle, the battlefield dominated by lumbering elephantine behemoths and previously unseen airborne killers, the Black Breath of despair that brings down even the bravest; the revenge of the trees for their wanton destruction.

The last word may go to Siegfried Sassoon, a quintessential Great War writer:

"I had seen something that night which overawed me. It was all in the day's work—an exhausted Division returning from the Somme offensive—but for me it was as though I had watched an army of ghosts. It was as though I had seen the War as it might be envisioned by the mind of some epic poet a hundred years hence."


The irony is that the man who did envision it this way was fighting in the trenches at the same battle.

From Tolkien and the Great War. It's a tribute to the new movie of Return of the King that these elements are captured so profoundly on film....

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

American Catholics I think have been increasingly dismayed by the Vatican's behavior over the past year. And I'm not referring simply to the Church's slow response to the nightmarish sexual abuse scandal. Here's Justin Katz, on the latest out-of-touch statement by a Vatican Cardinal....

Monday, December 15, 2003

Something for the boobs at Al-Jazeera to consider broadcasting:

"Why didn't you fight?" one Governing Council member asked Hussein as their meeting ended. Hussein gestured toward the U.S. soldiers guarding him and asked his own question: "Would you fight them?"

From Jim Hoagland.

Friday, December 12, 2003

Too good to pass up.

According to today's New York Times:

In all of Cashman's topspin and dropspin in trying to explain Pettitte's departure during a conference call with reporters yesterday in the principal owner's conspicuous absence, the general manager's most telling words were: "I'm glad he's in the National League. I'm glad he's not in Boston."

You know it's the Red Sox who are supposed to be obsessed with beating the champion New Yankees, not the other way around. Tells you something about the way the dynamics are changing between these two clubs. (They can feel us coming....)


Update: And here's a more damning take from the New York Post's Mike Vaccaro:

"One night, you go to bed and you have a clubhouse that is the envy of every baseball fan ever born, a mixture of talent and character, a gentle blend of grit, guile and guts, a team even the most ardent Yankees-hater has difficulty truly loathing.

"The next morning, you wake up, and Tino Martinez has become Jason Giambi; David Cone and Orlando Hernandez have become Javier Vazquez and Jose Contreras; Paul O'Neill has become either Gary Sheffield or Vladimir Guerrero; Scott Brosius has become Aaron Boone; and Andy Pettitte has become Kevin Brown. "

Thursday, December 11, 2003

George Steinbrenner is a fool.


Update: "To date, this offseason had only enhanced all of the negative feelings that Pettitte held toward the Yankees, according to multiple sources. Pettitte, who won 149 games in for the Yankees, couldn't understand why the club moved so slowly to re-sign him. He turned down a four-year, $54-million offer from the Red Sox, a clear sign that the contest to get him was limited to the Yankees and Astros."

From Newsday.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Some news today Sub Rosa, a small independent distributor in New York, is going to distribute my production of Richard the Second on Home Video and DVD. It will be nice (after all these years) to be able to tell people where they can find the movie.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

David Frum has a good take on the manufacturing sector:

"In all the economic good news this quarter, the stats on the manufacturing rebound tend to get overlooked. So pay attention: The index of manufacturing activity has bounced to its highest level since December 1983. Manufacturing hiring is now recovering too."

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Alex Beam apparently thinks fellow journalists Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus and James Taranto are nuts because...er, they have blogs in addition to their regular gigs. Alex doesn't, for reasons that remain unclear. Okay, just kidding. But he isn't:

[He] is completely crackers. Ever since he assumed the most visible perch in journalism, Krugman seems startled to learn that people will take potshots at him. Krugman devotes considerable energy to tilting with his "enemies"—many of them simply Internet kooks—whom he perceives to be persecuting him. In addition to penning his Times columns, he writes frequently for his personal web site (www.wws.princeton.edu/pkrugman), a nutty, score-settling tote board where he fires his rhetorical blunderbuss at the gnats buzzing around him.

Here is the beginning of his latest entry, titled "The Smear Machine Cranks Up Again": "Unbelievable. The smear machine cranks up again. They've done it to me before, they did it to Joseph Wilson, and now they're trying to do it again." In an e-mail, Krugman explains that "the `nonentities' who go after me include Taranto at Wall Street Journal Online—he was the main source for the claim that I was in Mahathir's pay—Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus, etc."

Paul, nine out of 10 New York Times readers have no idea who you are talking about.


No idea? Since Sullivan used to write for the Times, that seems a rather startling thing to say. Mickey Kaus for Slate, and formerly of the New Republic, if I'm not mistaken. And James Taranto for the WSJ—certainly a paper most Times readers avoid like the plague, no doubt.

What is it with Alex? Resentment? Laziness? Is he having a hard time coming up with ideas for columns? There are times when his already meager writing assignments seem like they were the result of root canals. Again, put me on record as one of those who think Alex Beam should be writing his own blog. What better way to build an audience? Especially if you're selling your own books....

Monday, November 24, 2003

William Safire on the Iraq/Al Qaeda connection. And his excellent source material from Edward Jay Epstein.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

So far, it sounds like the protesters in London have about the same amount of drawing power as the ones here....

Monday, November 17, 2003

Why Pat Buchanan is a hypocrite:

"... it's telling that it was the Republican Party of this President Bush that passed and just had signed into law the first national restriction on abortion since Roe v. Wade. While it was Mr. Buchanan who, with his eye on $13 million in matching government funds, jumped to a party founded on the proposition that social issues shouldn't even be discussed."

Read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Yes, he can go on and on sometimes, probably because deep down he's a true geek, but often what Steven Den Beste writes is just the best damned thing out there:

"Over the last few months the US has been colder towards the Sauds. We haven't demanded that they step down, but we're asking for more in the way of concrete action. And with the most recent attack of a couple of days ago, it's become clear that the militants in Saudi Arabia are beginning to actively work to depose the Sauds themselves. The tacit truce with al Qaeda is over, and the Sauds are going to be forced to choose sides at long last, and to fight the civil war they've been trying to avoid for the last few decades. If they do that, we might help them. But they no longer get a pass; there's no "special relationship" any longer, no more blind eye turned their direction.

"It's good that it's out in the open now. It's good that it's now formal policy of the government. And it's good that Bush was in no hurry to announce it; it's good that he was willing to wait until that announcement would not do more harm than good. It's good that he wasn't willing to compromise execution of the strategy just to relieve political pressure and defuse criticism."

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

When Stephen Glass was fired from the New Republic for fabricating stories out of whole cloth, I remember thinking what I—and many other starving writers—would've done to have had his job, to have had a start at such a prestigious magazine. Reading this just reaffirms why I think the little dirtbag deserves to be pistol-whipped.

Monday, November 10, 2003

If you're having second thoughts about your job, remember, things could always be worse. You could be a scientist....

Friday, November 07, 2003

Jim Lileks is superb in his review of the final (thank God) Matrix movie:

"I took away something else from the Matrix trilogy: it is a product of deeply confused people. They want it all. They want individualism and community; they want secularism and transcendence; they want the purity of committed love and the licentious fun of an S&M club; they want peace and the thrill of violence; they want God, but they want to design him on their own screens with their own programs by their own terms for their own needs, and having defined the divine on their own terms, they bristle when anyone suggests they have simply built a room with a mirror and flattering lighting. All three Matrix movies, seen in total, ache for a God. But they can’t quite go all the way. They’re like three movies about circular flat meat patties that can never quite bring themselves to say the word 'hamburger.'"

Thursday, November 06, 2003

There were a couple of great columns in the Herald and Globe this week worthy of comment.

Yesterday Gerry Callahan, the Herald's top notch sports columnist, had a terrific piece on the New England Patriots, their sensational quarterback, Tom Brady, and ABC-TV sportscaster John Madden who made a fool of himself 21 months ago in his late game advice to the gutsy Brady and the Patriots to settle for a tie and send the Super Bowl into overtime.

On the Op Ed Page of this morning's Globe, Jeff Jacoby again demonstrated why he is far and away the best political columnist in New England with his incisive column on Iraq entitled : What 'botched' occupation?

"Like the occupation of Germany in January 1946, America's work in Iraq is only getting underway.....What Americans need now are leaders who can focus on the great work before them, not sideline snipers carping prematurely that the occupation has been 'botched', " Jacoby concluded.
In another attempt to discredit and belittle the presidency of Ronald Reagan, now hopelessly deep in the grips of alzheimer's disease, the Boston Globe is resorting to letters to the editor---some from far away points outside its circulation zones---to carry on its campaign against the popular former chief executive.
Today the editorial page editors of the Globe reached out to Iowa to get and publish a lengthy anti-Reagan letter supposedly written by a man from Iowa City---a long, long way from Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.

Monday, November 03, 2003

"For despite what its champions may assert, the short story doesn't always demand the most from literary writers; instead it can coddle their weaknesses."

Laura Miller in an excellent overview of the modern short story.

Friday, October 31, 2003

My latest short story, Alison, published in the debut issue of Ink Pot, is also online here.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Why George Steinbrenner ruins the fun of baseball.

"Some people will feel like we went out and won games and that was success," Stottlemyre said. "Some people will feel like we got into the World Series and that's successful. And there are some people that think that if you don't win the whole thing, sometimes four games to none, it's unsuccessful. I don't think I need to say anymore.

"We didn't win the World Series, but I'm not walking away from here today feeling like we had a nonsuccessful year."

Season-ending losses to Arizona, to Anaheim and now to Florida have made the last three seasons more bleak than joyous. Steinbrenner chokes the joy out of winning. If he's not careful, he is going to choke the life out of his franchise.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Could the next pope be an Austrian? John Allen reports:

Also Oct. 17, CNN conducted an interview with Angelo Scola, the patriarch of Venice, who became a cardinal Oct. 21, and I was invited to tag along. Given that Venice produced three popes in the 20th century (Pius X, John XXIII and John Paul I), many eyes are on Scola as possible papal material, though he modestly insisted that "it is not my case."

Scola's most fascinating comment came before the cameras rolled, while we were chatting in St. Peter's Square. As we stood there, Cardinal Christoph Sch?nborn of Vienna approached and said hello. Sch?nborn is himself widely mentioned as a papal candidate, and as he walked away, Scola said unexpectedly: "He is the man of the future."

I immediately asked, "In what sense?"

"I think you understood me," Scola replied. "In every sense."


Read more. Fascinating.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

A superb piece in this month's First Things by Father Martin Rhonheimer, hardly a card-carrying member of the James Carroll branch of Catholicism, about the Church and Pius XII's indifference to the fate of the Jews during the Hitler era:

"...the astonishing fact that no Church statement about Nazism ever mentioned Jews explicitly or defended them—cries out for explanation. Also in need of explanation is the lack of any fundamental Church protest against the Nuremberg and Italian racial laws. Even after the November 1938 pogrom against the Jews, the only person to speak out was the Berlin cathedral provost Bernard Lichtenberg (since canonized), whose protest ultimately cost him his life. A Catholic apologetic that seeks to cover over this record by constant repetition of other facts, however undeniable they may be, plays into the hands of those who unfairly criticize the Church."

Read the whole thing.

James Lileks on the Democrats and the "fall-out" of Rumsfeld's memo:

"It’s not an “admission of failure, ” as Daschle put it—hell, the administration could put Osama’s head on a stick in the Rose Garden, and Daschle would call it an admission of failure that they hadn’t located the torso. I will never trust these people with national security again. Never, never, never. We’re in the fight of our lives, and all they can do is carp and bitch and piss and moan, because—as was the case with many conservatives in the Bosnian conflict—it’s not their war."

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"It's a wonderful game, maybe the greatest game in the world. Ninety feet between bases is a kind of perfect constant, like Pi."

Larry Miller on the greatness of the two championship series between the Red Sox and Yankees and between the Cubs and Marlins.
Good overview of Saddam's connection to terrorism and Al Qaeda in NRO by Deroy Murdock. The Bush Administration needs to do a better job of reminding people of these facts, among them:

"Coalition troops destroyed at least three terrorist training camps including a base near Baghdad called Salman Pak. It featured a passenger-jet fuselage where numerous Iraqi defectors reported that foreign terrorists were instructed how to hijack airliners with utensils. (The Bush administration should bus a few dozen foreign correspondents and their camera crews from the bar of Baghdad's Palestine Hotel to Salman Pak for a guided tour. Network news footage of that ought to open a few eyes.)"

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Gov. Romney's appointment of retired Judge E. George Daher to the chairmanship of the Massachusetts State Ethics Commission is indicative of the high moral tone the chief executive is establishing for his administration on Beaon Hill. Judge Daher is a man of outstanding integrity, one who will make the ethics board much more aggressive in enforcing statutes aimed at state officials and other employees who violate conflict of interest laws to enrich themselves.
According to Michael Shermer of the Skeptics Society newsletter: "Fox News, of 'Fair and Balanced' fame, has released the results of a survey just completed, revealing that 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles....

"Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they believe in reincarnation (by 14 percentage points), in astrology (by 14 points), in ghosts (by eight points) and UFOs (by five points)...."

And they call the GOP the stupid party?
Dan Kennedy: "Boston today is largely a franchise town, as Globe columnists such as Joan Vennochi bitterly lament from time to time. Nothing has contributed to that status more than the transfer of New England's dominant media organization to out-of-town ownership."

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Jay Fitzgerald makes some excellent points about 'knight of the keyboard' Dan Shaughnessy's recent coverage of the ALCS for the New York Times....

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Here are the stakes, as New York Times writer Harvey Araton sees it:

"Fear is not something Steinbrenner hides well. You can smell it on him all the way from Tampa. His Yankees have not won the World Series since 2000, not a very good advertising campaign for his cable network, which is dedicated to propagating the myth of all things Yankee.

"This postseason had win-or-else written all over it before the A's made the Red Sox look like ultimate survivors. Now, as David Wells said yesterday, 'All hell's going to break loose.' And Wells wasn't even contemplating the extent of the damage if it turns out that this is the Red Sox' time, finally, to beat the Yankees in October.

Priceless. Read more.
Read this for a sample of some of the bitterness hanging over the San Francisco Bay area after this past weekend of baseball.

Friday, October 03, 2003

On the other hand, Allen Barra at Slate (of all mags) defends Rush.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

I like Rush Limbaugh on the whole, but Robert George at NRO is right when he chides the radio talk-show master for his unfortunate comments on ESPN's "Sunday NFL Countdown" over the weekend:

"I'm not feeling sorry for Rush today (the drug story aside, which seems like a cheap shot). He did what we hate in liberals: Gratuitously introducing race in a discussion where it doesn't belong. McNabb may be overrated or he may not be. Some columnists have compared his first few years' stats favorably with John Elway. Others suggest that he makes poor decisions and doesn't have great arm strength. That is not the question here. The issue is whether there is some media reticence to call him overrated because he is black. Limbaugh introduced this element with no supporting evidence (the NFL's idiotic minority-hiring policy is a separate issue)."

Indeed. It was a dumb move, and now Rush has had to give up a good perch on television. This will hurt him.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

And now for something completely different, here's one French political writer's advice to Americans on how to deal with his nation:

"On the economic level: boycott EVERYTHING that can be BOYCOTTED, in both directions (imports and exports). Choking the life out of today's French economy with its all sacred 35 hour work week, sub-Sahara standard hospitals, and its civil servant-artist youths, would be as simple as pushing the pillow down on an dehydrated elderly person. Just choose the right color for the pillowcase."

Pretty strong stuff—from the excellent Merde in France.

Monday, September 29, 2003

William Safire's informative column—The Mask of Warka, on the op ed page of today's NY. Times—is another one of his gems on the war in Iraq and the politics, national and international, involved therein.
While it is so pleasing to Boston Red Sox fans to see the versatile Bill Mueller win the American League batting championship, his backing into the batting crown by staying out of the Boston lineup is reminiscent of Detroit Tigers third baseman George Kell's ducking the final game of the 1949 season to edge Ted Williams by one tenth of a point, 342.9 to 342.8, for the batting title.

The official records of major league baseball as well as the various baseball encyclopedias published should note with an asterisk instances like these which tend to taint the acvhievements of the players.

Good-bye to Murderer's Row: "Murderers Row never looked so meek. In one of the most stunning achievements in their record-setting display of power and depth, the Red Sox yesterday capped a memorable regular season by breaking the major league record for slugging percentage set by the legendary 1927 Yankees of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig."

Read more. Funny, the New York Times Sports pages don't seem to have noticed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

One sign of the evolving political times in Massachusetts came this week with the revelation that Raynham/Tunton Dogtrack is losing a choice state political plum its has enjoyed for the past year.
Raynham's George Carney who has been wired tightly to State House political leaders for four decades, was jolted by State Treasurer Tim Cahill's decision to strip his track of its exclusive right to redeem larger (over $600) lottery tickets. It was a costly loss for Carney whose dogtrack was receiving a one percent service fee of the lottery winnings as well as benefitting from the increased track handles which resulted from the gambling-oriented lottery winners.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft certainly has proved to be the tough, stand-up prosecutor the liberal left—ACLU, New York Times, Boston Globe and many Democratic Party politicians—knew he would be when they mounted that all-out drive to block his confirmation after President Bush named him to his Cabinet. Their on going assault on him has intensified in recent weeks as the nation's chief law enforcement official has been touring the country and speaking in defense of the USA Patriot Act.

Dorothy Rabinowitz, the Wall Street Journal's gifted critic at large, captured the climate yesterday in her extraordinary editorial page piece: A Demon For Our Times. "Frenzy mounts uncontrolled over John Ashcroft, now considered—in those quarters touched by the delerium—enemy number of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and all that Americans hold dear," was her opener.

The ACLU, Democrats and Clinton Atty. Gen. Janet Reno were among the targets of Ms. Rabinowitz pen.

Read more here.
More trouble for Real Networks. According to Rafat Ali's latest e-letter: "...brain drain at the company: during the last 10 months of this year, almost 12-15 senior level execs. have left the company, some starting their own ventures and some joining other companies. Of course, it is not unusual for a person like Rob Glaser to run through people on a regular basis, but this is unusual even for his company. Of the people left at the company, Larry Jacobson, the COO, is now concentrating on international efforts. Sean Ryan, who came in through Listen.com, and now looking after RNWK's music efforts, has got to be feeling the pressure... "

Read more.

Monday, September 22, 2003

The letter to the editor the Herald published on its editorial page today complaining about the girlie pages the newspaper seems to be launching in its new EDGE section was just one of many received recently.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Today's Wall Street Journal feature on the excessive salaries of National Hockey League players which are putting the 30-team league in financial peril, should be an eye opener for all professional athletes. NHL players certainly are not the highest paid when compared to baseball, football and basketball stars of the Major Leagues, National Footbll Leacgue and the NBA. But they are moving up to the point where the NHL teams lost $millions last year and face even higher totals as soccer, golf and womens' professional sports grow.

You can't blame NHL players who engage in the roughest sport, football included, for grabbing what money they can—while they can. I can well remember talking to Fernie Flaman who was an All Star defenseman for the Boston Bruins a half century ago, and him telling me how the top salary he could get from the Bruins' General Manager Art Ross was $5,000. He was worth at least $10,000 as he was the best defenseman in he NHL during the era following World War II.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

It was amusing to read Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman bemoan the fact that liberals have no one in the media to match Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter. The reason, of course, is quite simple: Rush, Bill and Ann reflect the conservative views of the more people in the United States. Since she feels so strongly about this, why doesn't Ms. Goodman try her hand at TV or radio? Or better still, a blog.
Watching the frenzied coverage of Hurricane Isabel by TV reporters during the past week as the storm plodded its path up the South Atlantic Ocean to the Carolina coast, most viewers must have wondered whether the television legmen had ever been in a big storm before.

While Isabel didn't live up to television's hopes and expectations, it's coverage did give TV viewers a glimpse of what to expect on the tube this coming winter when a snowstorm forms on the East coast and develops into a Nor'easter as it moves up the coast.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds agrees.
amNew York, the new, free commuter tabloid that is slated to begin publishing in NYC in January, is certain to cut substantially into the circulations of the New York Daily News and the New York Post—Gotham's reigning tabloids.

According to Boston Globe media watchguard Mark Jurkowitz, the Empire State venture is being launched by Russel Pergament, former publisher of Boston Metro—the free tab daily now available at most T stations and other well traveled points. The newsy tab has been a thorn in the plans of the voluminous Globe and the Boston Herald to maintain their subway circulations while expending huge moneys to boost their home delivery sales.

Freebie tabloids are also available in Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington as well as major cities in Europe.They are no picnic for established dailies which are saddled with very high union wages at every level of their costly production and distribution. And the high cost of newsprint compounds their difficulties.
(posted by David Farrell)

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Today's big Boston Globe feature in its on-going promotion of the zealots who supposedly have been living in a tree on Wachusett Mountain to prevent development of a 1,500 foot ski trail there, prompts one to wonder why the Globe doesn't take and publish photos of them during the night while they are asleep in the trees, if in fact they are there all night long!

Monday, September 15, 2003

Those photos of Jennifer Lopez, Venus Williams and an assortment of other scantily-clad women who feature the double-truck page running in today's Boston Herald "Edge" section indicate Publisher Pat Purcell plans to transform his daily tabloid into a "girlie" publication of sorts. The competing Boston Globe won't join the Herald's sex ploy!
How about today's full-page feature leading the Globe's Living Arts Section which focuses on a self-styled Somerville "artist" who is waging a PR campaign against the SUV motor vehicle? Two things struck me about the story:
1. The artist has a lot of time and money as well as little to do these days.
2. The Globe is hard pressed for good features.
That big page-one tear-jerker the New York Times published today about the National Guardsman from California who "thought he was done with active military duty when he left the Marines for civilian life more than a decade ago and signed on with the National Guard a few years later" omits one major fact—the substantial amount of money he was paid by the Guard during his many years of inactive service which consisted primarily of attending N.G. meetings at local armories.
The monthly stipend offered by the Guard to former servicemen is the big lure that keeps the N.G. going.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, what they're really worried about are Barbie Dolls.

Guess why.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Friday's big Boston Herald page-one photograph of Sen. John Kerry wiping a tear from his eye on the campaign trail yesterday was reminiscent of the act former President Clinton put on several years ago. Clinton was walking along briskly out of a funeral parlor after attending a public official's wake when he saw a TV camera start to focus on him. His pace slowed, a sorrowful look descended on him and his left index finger rose to the occasion and wiped his left eye. Rush Limbaugh caught this footage and played it several times for his then television show.

What an act!
I have written before about the tiresome Jonathan Franzen and his over-written cinder-block of a book, The Corrections. [No link; why should I encourage you?] If you can imagine someone even more self-absorbed and self-important, well, you might not be surprised to find it's the woman who was living with him while he scrawled his tome.

She's dying to tell you about herself.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

It was interesting to observe how the first of Sen. John Kerry's numerous official announcements for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination was played in the local and national media today. The Boston Herald went overboard, making it the lead story and embellishing it with a flattering photograph covering two-thirds of the front page. The Boston Globe also gave Kerry a big play, using about a third of the front page—below the fold for its lavish coverage. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal each gave the story only one brief paragraph on page one, with more inside.
The Boston Globe's media analyst Mark Jurkowitz coninues to demonstrate why he's the best in the business. Today's article was brimming with news about the Cape Cod Times' coverage of the controversial wind farm project proposed for the Cape's waters and several other important developments involving local media. I hope he's appreciated on Morrissey Boulevard.

Friday, August 29, 2003

What, I asked Lorenzi, caught the pope’s interest?
“Italian politics,” Lorenzi said. “And Formula One racing.”


Read more, on the 25th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul I, the "forgotten" pope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

"Progress, education, democracy and human rights were all concepts that Sir Wilfred deplored."

One of the last great explorers of the 20th century has died. If you haven't read Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands, now is a good time to get in one last summer book before Labor Day.

God rest his soul.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Jay Fitzgerald is exactly right about the murder of ex-priest John Geoghan:

"Why was Geoghan booked in a maximum-security prison, from the outset, with all the other physically dangerous prisoners? Was he dumped there because he was psychologically assessed as a potential threat? Was he there because of overcrowding at other facilities? Was he there because there would have been a howl of protest if he had been sent to a ‘country club’ lower-security prison? I suspect the reasons have to do with the latter two queries. ... If we wanted Geoghan to die, we should have had a death penalty on the books and not be hypocrites about it. If we don’t want the death sentence in Massachusetts, then we need a better prison system that honestly and justly fits the crime to the punishment. ...Geoghan was doomed from the moment he entered MCI Shirley. "

Thursday, August 21, 2003

About those weapons of mass destruction:


Monday, August 18, 2003

Wow. What's Pat Buchanan been drinking lately? Coffee? He actually makes good sense in this piece.

Friday, August 15, 2003

Er, not everyone enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean, it seems....
Victor Davis Hanson on how the U.S. should slowly change its foreign policy:

"In the months since the Iraqi war, the world situation has, in fact, start[ed] to calm down; and with that equilibrium comes the realization that the old Cold War protocols no longer apply, and that the United States is in a far stronger position than ever before. With China and Russia claiming neutrality; with Britain, Australia, Japan, and much of Eastern Europe allied; and with India increasingly receptive to American peace-feelers—we should worry less and less about Old Europe and the tired Arab street, whose collective bark is far worse than their bite. The sad fact is that, for billions of people in an emerging Asia and the Americas, Europe and our enemies in the Middle East are mostly irrelevant, and will become even more so in the months ahead."
Superb piece in the upcoming Weekly Standard about neo-conservatism, by the man who is sometimes called its Godfather, Irving Kristol:

"People have always preferred strong government to weak government, although they certainly have no liking for anything that smacks of overly intrusive government. Neocons feel at home in today's America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not. Though they find much to be critical about, they tend to seek intellectual guidance in the democratic wisdom of Tocqueville, rather than in the Tory nostalgia of, say, Russell Kirk. "

Or Pat Buchanan for that matter.

Monday, August 11, 2003

Steven Den Beste, on why the French still have not figured us out yet:

"The people of the United States are many and are powerful. We lend some of that power to our government, but we retain even more. Our government serves us, but does not rule us.

Most of the time we let our government speak for us, but we can speak for ourselves. Each individual voice is very small, but if enough of us commit to something, it is impossible to ignore. We can directly reward friends and directly punish enemies. We don't need our government's permission and our government can't stop us, because though the US government is the most powerful in history and more powerful than any other in the world, we are even more powerful yet and will replace the US government if it tries to do so. That is part of the power we retained, and every two years the government submits itself to us for reapproval."

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Must reading for those of you into mental masturbation.

Seriously. Who pays these guys?

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

"After 7 years of publishing the Little QuickTime Page, we've decided it's time for a sabbatical." Judy and Robert are taking a break for a while from one of the best pages devoted to the software and its applications. I don't mind saying their QuickStart guides to QuickTime were no small inspiration to me and my own book on the subject.
More good news for Apple: BusinessWeek gives positive marks to Steve Jobs for introducing a slow but steady shift in the game plan of Apple Computer:

From the word go nearly two years ago, sales of Apple Computer's IPod MP3 player have been music to the PC maker's ears. Never has that been more true than on July 16, when Steve Jobs & Co. stunned analysts by announcing they had sold 304,000 players in the company's third quarter, nearly four times most analysts' expectations. The reason: Customer demand soared in May after Apple (AAPL ) launched its third-generation iPod, which stores 7,500 songs in a player that's lighter than two CDs -- and is compatible with Microsoft's (MSFT ) Windows operating system. Apple's flagship retail store in New York City's Soho section stayed open until 11 p.m. the day of the launch just to meet the demand.

"It's a paradigm shift at the company," says Charles Wolf, an analyst at investment firm Needham & Co. and a longtime Apple watcher (who owns shares of Apple stock). "They are redefining what kind of company they are." Indeed, the release of iPod for Windows last August established the demarcation line in an extraordinary strategic change for Apple, a company that over the past two decades has steadfastly refused to loosen its control over the creation, manufacturing, or distribution of its products.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Andrew Sullivan has just about had it with the Catholic Church:

"I feel my own conscience getting closer and closer to making the same decision. It tears me apart to see no prospect of the Catholic Church ending its war on gay people and their dignity in my lifetime. In fact, I think it's getting worse; and the next Pope from the developing world could make the current one seem humane. Leaving the sacraments would be a huge blow to the soul; but the pope just called the love I have for my boyfriend "evil." That's a word he couldn't bring himself to use about Saddam Hussein. How can I recognize what I know to be true with what the Pope has just said? I cannot. It doesn't leave many options but departure."

To be honest, many Catholics, liberal and conservative, have wondered why Sullivan has bothered to stay so long. For all his cultural and political conservatism, his hope that Roman Catholicism would someday approve homosexual love was a delusion born of wishful thinking. And of ignorance of Christian history and doctrine.

But I can't help wondering just how satisfied and content he's going to feel sitting in another church. Look for him to be blogging about this in a year's time, I'd say....

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Dad's Duty Dept. For some reason my new daughter doesn't like to go right back to the crib after her nightly feeding. This necessitates her dad rocking her for several minutes until she is into a deep sleep before depositing her for the rest of the night.

What to do when dad is pooped? He props himself up, semi-reclined, on the couch with sundry pillows and lets his daughter snooze away on his chest as he catches up on his sleep. You'd be surprised how many hours you can pass in this state of comfort (especially when it's a nice couch).

Friday, July 25, 2003

For the record: my second child born today (and second daughter): Seven pounds, three ounces. Her older sister, a two-year-old, saw her just seconds after birth (we were peeking through the curtain) and said "She's a mess! She needs a bath!"

Thursday, July 24, 2003

What's Apple up to? Dennis Sellers has some thoughts:

"Although the music store and iPods may be a way to entice more people to the Mac platform, there may be an even more important piece in the puzzle... Analyst Charles Wolf of Needham & Co. estimates that once Apple has the Windows version of iTunes in place, the store could capture 20 percent of the pay-per-download market. This could translate to $600 million in annual revenue and $50 million to $60 million in operating income, nearly equal to Apple's $65 million in profit for the 2002 fiscal year, Zeiler notes. And that's not even counting the increased iPod sales that should be generated."

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

5th Wave Dept. One of the other convenient features of a 19-inch Dell Trinitron monitor—drying off your socks after you've been caught in a torrential downpour.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

One of the unexpected pleasures of being an author is occasionally finding out that what you write actually inspires people. Just last week I received a copy of British film star Christopher Lee's new DVD, The Making of a Legend (the first volume of a planned series of DVDS) recounting the veteran film actor's experiences in the movie business.

As I scrolled through the end credits I saw my name under the Special Thanks banner. I emailed Mr. Lee's webmaster and producer, Juan Aneiros, who is also his son-in-law, to thank him for the listing. He wrote back that he and Mr. Lee decided to produce the new series on their own after reading my QuickTime book, a copy of which I had sent him with my compliments last December.

Makes my day.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Although the Boston Globe's on-going campaign to discredit President Bush on a daily basis may delude and satisfy the papers' owners in New York as well as the liberal establishment in Greater Boston academia, the anti-Bush vapors coming out of Morrissey Boulevard are befitting the old M. Doyle dump site on which the Globe sits.

The best illustration so far this week of the newspapers's apparent Get-Bush policy was Robert Kuttner's Op Ed piece yesterday: "The Press Gives Bush A Free Ride On His Lies" which was laughable per se. The column by Kuttner, a regular columnist on the Op Ed pages, consumed 40 per cent of the page.

Opposite it on the Editorial page, there was the usual Wasserman cartoon jabbing Bush as well as the lead editorial and a couple of long letters critical of the President. Wasserman's ridicule of the Bush was followed up today with another effort, accompanied by the lead editorial on Bush's alleged delusions about North Korea.

One could go on and on with example after example from the Globe's "news" pages of the campaign to destroy Bush and how obvious and real it is. In a period of increasing media competition for the public's attention, the last thing the Globe needs is an erosion of confidence in its daily offerings.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

One of the drawbacks of going with a print-on-demand publisher is that you can't sell your novels at a competitive rate. A trade paperback from Tor goes for $8.95 or $12.95. But your novel from just about any POD outfit will start at $15.95. That's just the cost of production.

That's about five dollars more than the average bookstore browser is willing to shell out for an unknown author.

But then, I see things like this.

Go figure.

Monday, July 14, 2003

New York Press columnist Russ Smith has given former Boston Globe columnist Mike Barnicle, who now writes a weekly piece for the N. Y. Daily News, as rough a going-over as this veteran newspaperman has seen in decades.

Smith virtually accuses Barnicle of plagiarism for lifting segments of a piece Jimmy Breslin wrote for Newsday on April 29, in his New York Daily News column on May 21. Smith's comparison of much of what Barnicle had to say with Breslin's observations concluded:

"Perhaps this isn't outright theft. But it comes close. Closer than Barnicle who seems like the tourist he is in that column, possibly knowing that it was a Romanian driving that livery car. Then again, that was another area of trouble for this washed-up hack in Boston: he invented anecdotes for his Globe columns.

Barnicle's latest column in yesterday's Daily News, relies heavily on E-mail he says he received from two U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq recently. The extensive comments the two men allegedly made to the columnist, don't sound like the real thing. There's something Barniclese about them!"

Monday, July 07, 2003

The big story and head: Access problems dog convention center on the front page of today's (July 7) Boston Globe describe just the tip of the iceberg regarding the obstacles facing the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center scheduled to open on the South Boston waterfront next June.

More and more the center is beginning to look like a white elephant, a convention structure that shouldn't be constructed. Insiders report that there is not that much interest by national corporations and other groups in contracting to use the facility with which Mayor Menino hopes to enhance his image, in future years.

The Back Bay with the Hynes Auditorium and all of its other attractions, not the least of which is the Red Sox during the spring and summer months, is more attractive to them.
It will be interesting to see if any of the money-hungry lawyers who are smacking their lips at the prospects of suing Burger King, McDonald's and other fast food chains for contributing to the ill health (obesity) of Americans, also target a great musician like the late Fred Waring in their attempt to pick the pockets of these companies.

For several years Fred Waring and his Pennsylvanians were featured on a half-hour, national radio show sponsored by the American Meat Institute which opened and closed with a harmonious salute to Beef:

Good health, good joy, good songs abound
whenever we gather to eat,
and all the family's sitting around,
and on the table Meat...and on the table Meat.

David Berlinki's response to critics of his April Commentary article "A Scientific Scandal" is online. Unfortunately, the original article isn't, but you can still be entertained and enlightened about the ongoing debate about Darwin's limitations. Richard Dawkins, who does have some explaining to do, sadly does not put in an appearance.

Myself, I accept Darwin's theory as far as it goes, but am increasingly bewildered by the defensiveness and hostility of scientists to interesting and what seem to me perfectly reasonable challenges to the theory.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

John Derbyshire at NRO provides a priceless example of what happens when Windows users decide they want to add an inexpensive video card to their PC so that they can make their own movies on the desktop....

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Joseph Epstein in a timely piece on the nature of Envy:

"A self-poisoning of the mind, envy is usually less about what one lacks than about what other people have. A strong element of the begrudging resides in envy, thus making the envious, as Immanuel Kant remarked in The Metaphysics of Morals, 'intent on the destruction of the happiness of others.' "

I must confess, as a writer, what I more often than not find myself envying is not so much other writers' success as I do their luck.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Lately it seems that the commentary on just about every sports event that is televised features an excessive use of the word "incredible" in the description of what is taking place on the field or in the arena of play. Baseball announcers are especially guilty, thanks to the availability of televised replays which many of them use over and over to pad their broadcasts.

Several years ago the late Ray Fitzgerald, probably the best sports columnist the Boston Globe ever had—and the newspaper has had numerous—penned an entire column decrying the misuse of the word.

"I'll tell you what would be incredible," Fitzgerald wrote, "if a baserunner trying to steal second base turned into a swan on the way—that would be incredible."

Monday, June 30, 2003

If you want to eviscerate Hillary Clinton and her "memoir", who better to get the job done than the priceless P.J. O'Rourke:

"However, it says something unflattering about our era that prominent political figures—who used to write declarations of independence, preambles to constitutions, Gettysburg addresses, and such—now use the alphabet only to make primitive artifacts, like the letter-inscribed tablet that Charlemagne is said to have put under his pillow each night, in the hope he'd wake up literate. Conservatives, including most of the Founding Fathers, have always worried that the price of a democratic system would be a mediocre nation. But George Washington and William F. Buckley Jr. put together could not have foreseen, in their gloomiest moments, the rise of Clinton-style über-mediocrity—with its soaring commonplaces, its pumped trifling, its platinum-grade triviality. The Alpha-dork husband, the super-twerp wife, and the hyper-wonk vice president—together with all their mega-weenie water carriers, such as vicious pit gerbil George Stephanopoulos and Eastern diamondback rattleworm Sidney Blumenthal—spent eight years trying to make America nothing to brag about. "

Friday, June 27, 2003

In a closely guarded move, the Justice Department has been trying to persuade imprisoned former FBI agent John Connolly to tell all about his dealings with Whitey Bulger, the notorious murderer whom Connolly and other FBI agents protected in exchange for vital information about the North End Mafia and the Somerville Winter Hill Gang.

Connolly who is 62 and has a young wife and children, is looking at another decade in a Federal penitentiary far removed geographically from his North Shore home and family. Justice is dangling a deal at him whereby his sentence would be substantially reduced if he talks, according to one source close to the department in Boston.
Yesterday's vote by the UMass trustees supporting the university's president in his battle with Gov. Mitt Romney and the state's highest ranking law enforcement official is far from over, given the escalating campaign by Massachusetts' two leading newspapers to oust him.

Today's devastating column by Howie Carr of the Boston Herald is a warm up of what's coming from the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe whose lead editorial this morning—BULGER'S SELFISH STAND—said that "by retaining Bulger (the trustees) perpetuate a controversy that distracts and diminishes the preeminent public institution of higher education in Massachusetts."

Carr, a long time adversary of Bulger, said it all with the opening paragraph, brief as it was, of his very tough column: "THE FIX WAS IN."
Victor Davis Hanson asks: What should the U.S. do now?

"Keep quieter and carry a far bigger stick. Methodically and politely transfer, redeploy, and reduce troops from countries that have opposed our efforts of the past two years or whose populations simply profess no overt support for the United States. Seek real friends — the fewer the better — in Eastern Europe, on the Black Sea, or around the Gulf who want American troops as a reflection of genuine mutual security needs, appreciate the economic stimulus such bases provide, and quite simply like the United States. "

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

The on-going controversy in Boston's print media over UMass President William M. Bulger's fitness to continiue to head Massachusetts' sprawling higher education system won't abate until Bulger himself and the UMass board of directors recognize the damage that has been done—fairly or unfairly—to the UMass image.

Leading the charge against the former president of the Massachusetts State Senate has been the Boston Herald and its astute political columnist Peter Gelzinis who lives in "Southie" and knows more about the area which Bulger formerly represented than any other reporter in New England.

Gelzinis' perceptive columns reflect this regularly (unfortunately no longer available online as the Herald now requires a subscription).

Today's piece which spells out the details of Bulger's "get-even" mentality against his predecessor in the Senate, is typical of the newsy and informative material Gelzinis' gives Herald readers. It's must reading!

Monday, June 23, 2003

Peter Jones of the Spectator, quoting George Orwell on the continuing decline of plain English:

"slovenly language and slovenly thinking begin to feed off and reinforce each other: '[English] becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.' "

If there's one word in modern usage, not just in the business world but in every day speech, that perfectly sums up the modern preoccupation with silly substitutes, it's impact.

Instead of making perfectly simple sense by saying that a trend or development will affect or—more weakly—have an affect on us, we feel compelled to make a verb out of a noun: it will impact us.

Now if there's one thing that developments, patterns and sales projections never do in this life, it's have an impact.

I know. What a silly waste of time to point out that only meteors and bombs have an impact.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Rick Heller says it better than me on the recent arrest of Phoenix Archbishop O'Brien for leaving the scene after a hit-and-run auto accident:

"The anchor said that it was expected that 'the Pope will replace him.'

"The thought that immediately crossed my mind was, 'why would the Pope want to become Bishop of Phoenix?'"

The Scandals of the Church in this country are now well past the Evelyn Waugh phase. Can things get any more farcical?

Friday, June 13, 2003

I attended a short Technology seminar yesterday on upgrades and security issues at the Boston hospital where I work. Apple sent a sales rep and an engineer to talk about OS X for those MDs and hospital personnel still working in OS 9.

Of course, Apple is notorious for keeping its plans mum, but I was dismayed to hear from both the sales rep and the engineer that the company does not as yet have any plans to license the QuickTime architecture—or work on a license for MPEG-4—to manufacturers of DVD players.

If Apple doesn't get in with DVD players, they're going to get creamed by Microsoft which is already establishing deals with digital theaters and you just know they're working with DVD manufacturers themselves to get them to play any disk with Windows Media 9 files.

I think QuickTime remains the best way to reach out to new customers, and Apple sorely needs new customers, not just the existing base of Mac fanatics. If you're a home movie buff and you know that you can just burn your QuickTimes to a disk and pop them in the DVD player in your living room without having to author a DVD-R or pay someone to do it for you, then that's a huge advantage in the marketplace for Apple.

I hope they're working on this.

That said, it was nice to see how many doctors rely on Macs for their work and research. And OS X servers seem to be making inroads amongst IS administrators in the business world.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Here's a union Democrat on the current "crop" of presidential candidates:

"Recently, McEntee says, "I was driving on Pennsylvania Avenue, past the Ronald Reagan Building, and I thought, 'Where are you now that we really need you?' Bad as he [Reagan] was for our people, this crowd is way out there." The blunt-speaking McEntee, more perhaps than any other person, will pick the candidate for expelling "this crowd."

From George Will.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

All French-bashing and jokes aside, here is an excellent analysis from the London Times on what ails the French—and indeed continental European—economy.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Atty. Gen. Tom Reilly's gutsy move calling on UMass President William M. Bulger, brother of the notorious killer Whitey Bulger, to relinquish his post because his decision to defend him leaves the state's highest ranking education leader without the moral authority to continue on the job—is the talk of the Massachusetts political world.

There isn't another politician in the state who would dare take on Bulger. Reilly did, giving the Boston Herald's Peter Gelzinis the scoop on a story which will intensify as the talk show hosts begin making it part of their regular fare. Bulger is nearing the end of the line.

Monday, June 02, 2003

William Safire has a good answer for all those beginning to wonder (loudly) why the U.S. has not yet found a Mount Doom-sized pile of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

Friday, May 30, 2003

Brad DeLong on why Apple not only survives but succeeds:

"As long as the world's programmers continue to speak Unix, Apple's economic future—one perhaps greater than that of a niche player given the rumblings surrounding its apparent bid for Universal—is secure. I doubt that my current Mac will be my last."

Read more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2003

Merciless. Christopher Hitchens on Sidney Blumenthal's new book glorifying the Clinton years:

"I therefore regard it as quite impossible that he didn't know what many Clinton biographers have established: Clinton would have run for the nomination as early as 1988 if not for his fear of 'bimbo eruptions' (please notice again that the women in his life are here degraded by definition, whereas the man is a passive victim). And if by any chance Blumenthal didn't know it then, he definitely knows it now, and has for years. In any event, I have to strain to believe the following statement:

Had Clinton had an affair with an intern? I just didn't know. I had no reason to doubt Hillary's sincerity in her version of events, and whatever my doubts, I wanted to believe her—to believe along with her.

"This goes well past credulity and into the realm of the servile."

Indeed.
Hitting them where they hurt. Yes, Donald Rumsfeld sure knows how to piss off the French:

"This year, the American presence—and the lack of rank in it—at Paris will serve as a powerful and understated reminder of our scorn for the French.

American combat aircraft—the usual assortment of F-15 Eagles, the F/A-18 Hornets, F-16 Falcons, the B-2s and maybe even the F-117s—will sit on the runway while the others caper aloft. Like the gold medallists who watch the consolation game to see who finishes third and fourth, our quiet war birds will speak loudly. Parlez vous francais? Who the hell cares?"

More.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

William Safire on the further concentration of media power in the hands of the few:

"Does that sound un-conservative? Not to me. The concentration of power—political, corporate, media, cultural—should be anathema to conservatives. The diffusion of power through local control, thereby encouraging individual participation, is the essence of federalism and the greatest expression of democracy.

Why do we have more channels but fewer real choices today? Because the ownership of our means of communication is shrinking. Moguls glory in amalgamation, but more individuals than they realize resent the loss of local control and community identity."

Read more.

Friday, May 16, 2003

It was amusing to observe the Boston Globe make a quick turnaround today on the latest sex scandal to hit the Kennedy family to which the newspaper has always been partial. Yesterday the Globe buried the news about JFK's running affair with a teenager, giiving it the one paragraph treatment on an inside page.

But last evening's television newscasts on all the Boston channels with their extensive coverage of President Kennedy's misdeeds, forced the Globe to carry a lengthy story on the teenager who is now 60, along with her photograph in all of its editions today. One can be certain that this not the last of this story.
Here's a preview on Apple and IBM's new chip for the next generation of 2GHz and higher Macs—They rock:

"As with all things Apple, though, the big question is price. Will Apple drop its margins drastically and sell these machines at a competitive price point in order to increase market share, or will it continue to price itself into the increasingly non-existent luxury/lifestyle computing niche? I'm hoping for the former, because I'd love to give my TiBook and iPod some company with a 970-based PowerMac...."

Read more.

Thursday, May 15, 2003

Wishful Thinking Dept.? Okay, it's early yet, the Sox haven't even played the Yanks so far, and I blogged a little too enthusiastically last year about the team's chances.

Still, there's a lot to this team. The line-up is a killer. As they proved in Minnesota, there doesn't seem to be any bullpen the Red Sox can't come after in the late innings of the game. If the bullpen steadies, and there are signs now from Ramiro Mendoza and Mike Timlin and the new acquisitions that it will, then the Sox have a better chance than they did last year—when they only won 93 games....

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Local media watchers are somewhat amused by today's New York Times' detailed story telling readers about what the newspaper is doing and planning to prevent a recurrence of the extensive journalistic fraud perpetrated on it and its readers by one of its reporters since last October.

In addition to the various steps which will be taken throughout the paper's news gathering and editing branches, Executive Editor Howell Raines announced that a committee would be formed to study what went wrong and make recommendations to prevent a repeat of the disaster which has given the Times a huge black eye.

Media observers here have been told by some of their associates in New York that the fiasco will probably cost Raines his position as the top editor of the prestigious Times. There's little doubt that Reporter Jayson Blair left obvious footprints of his misdeeds all over the newspaper's newsrooms—clues which had to have come to the attention of editors who report to Raines. Blair got away with his deceit so long because he gambled that his racial background probably would make it difficult for his superiors to rein him in.

Saturday, May 10, 2003

Here's some great investigative reporting by Hobbs Online regarding Bush's military service:

On Wednesday morning, I was checking out AndrewSullivan.com and noticed his post regarding a Paul Krugman column in the New York Times that revived the "Bush was AWOL from the National Guard" accusation in light of Bush's carrier landing/speech. I thought it was worth repeating, so I created my own post linking to Sullivan's. But I wasn't done. I'm a journalist. I had three questions Sullivan hadn't answered - questions, in fact, that it seems no one had yet answered in the coverage of Bush's National Guard service:
1. Was the Texas Air National Guard really a good place to avoid combat?
2. Was the Bush family name really so big back in 1968-73 that it would have helped Bush get a cushy and safe spot in the Guard? And, related to that, did the Bush family name by 1972 make it likely the Alabama colonel would've remembered Bush being on his base?
3. Is the lack of a paper trail for some parts of Bush's claimed service record all that extraordinary in the military?In other words, questions of context. So I started digging, using Google as my shovel, and I soon found out that Bush flew with the 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, which was attached to the 147th Fighter Wing, based in Houston, Texas. From 1968 through 1970, pilots from the 147th participated in operation "Palace Alert" and served in Southeast Asia during the height of the Vietnam War. Bush enlisted on May 28, 1968 - when the unit he enlisted with had pilots flying combat missions in the skies over Vietnam.


Read more. (Link via Glenn Renynolds.)

Friday, May 09, 2003

Truly one of the dumber canards offered by scientists to the public is the assertion that given enough time a group of monkeys planted in front of a bunch of keyboards would eventually produce the works of William Shakespeare.

Well, a group of researchers at Plymouth University in England decided to check up on this, for artistic reasons more than anything else:

At first, said Phillips, "the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.

"Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard," added Phillips, who runs the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.

Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in.

This is what Hollywood has come to: you're Ving Rhames and you're Sarah Polley; you've both been in some of the best independent and A-List studio movies of the past decade and more.

And here you are, signing up to star in a remake of something that doesn't deserve to be remade: Dawn of the Dead?

Every year you think it can't get worse; that Hollywood can't become more pathetic in its pursuit of the safe buck, the guaranteed money-maker.

And every year they surprise you.

Time was, actors of Rhames' and Polley's caliber wouldn't be caught dead in this kind of movie, considering what it could do to their careers.

Now they can't afford not to be in this kind of swill.

Thursday, May 08, 2003

Metropolitan? Sounds good to me:

"I dislike modern American liberalism very much...yet I am at ease in a roomful of New York liberals in a way that, to be truthful about it, I am not in a gathering of red-state evangelicals. Setting aside our actual opinions about this, that or the other, I am aware that in the first gathering I am among people with whom I have, at some level, a shared outlook; and in the second gathering, not."

Read more from John Derbyshire at NRO, describing the type of conservative he is. With some differences, I'd say it fits me like a glove as well.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The Boston Globe is mounting a big campaign to have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts name the new downtown tunnel segment of Interstate 93 in memory of former U.S. and Mass. House Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. over Gov. Romney's designation of the I-93 section as Liberty Tunnel.

A few facts Democratic leaders at the State House and the newspaper's political and editorial writers might consider before jumping on the Tip bandwagon:

It was Tip O'Neill, as the congressman representing Cambridge and adjacent areas, who blocked the Inner Belt—an integral part of the massiive Federal Interstate highway construction program—thereby creating the necessity of the $16 billion depression of Boston's Central Artery.

The Inner Belt was part of the state's Master Highway Plan and called for construction of a circular roadway inside Route 128, extending from Melnea Cass Highway through the South End westward across the Charles River through part of Cambridge and Somerville, until its link-up with I-93 North. Construction of this Inner 128 combined with a Southwest Corridor that also succumbed to the O'Neill strategy, would have taken a tremendous car load off the Southeast Expressway and negated the need for depressing and completely rebuilding the Central Artery in Boston at a staggering $16 billion (and counting).

With Mike Dukakis, who never cared for motorists or their difficulties, in the Corner Office and Tip's son propped as lieutenant governor, it was easy for the speaker to scuttle part of the state's Master Plan even though only a few homes in his district would be taken in order to construct it.
_
The US military success has prompted some interesting thoughts from Michael Barone:

"One of the peculiar features of our country is that we produce incompetent 18-year-olds and remarkably competent 30-year-olds. Americans at 18 typically score lower on standardized tests than 18-year-olds from other advanced countries. Watch them on their first few days working at McDonald's or behind the counter in chain drugstores, and it's obvious that they don't really know how to make change or keep the line moving. But by the time Americans are 30, they are the most competent people in the world. They produce a stronger and more vibrant private-sector economy; they produce scientific and technical advances that lead the world; they provide the world's best medical care; they create the strongest and most agile military the world has ever seen. And it's not just a few meritocrats at the top: American talent runs wide and deep.

"Why? Because from the age of 6 to 18, our kids live mostly in what I call Soft America—the part of our society where there is little competition and accountability. In contrast, most Americans in the 12 years between ages 18 and 30 live mostly in Hard America—the part of American life subject to competition and accountability; the military trains under live fire. Soft America seeks to instill self-esteem. Hard America plays for keeps."

Monday, May 05, 2003

Joe Sciacca's column in this morning's Boston Herald about Saturday night's debate—if that's the way the Democratic Party would like to describe the word game its nine candidates for the 2004 Presidential nomination played in South Carolina—was one of, if not the best, he has ever written in his years at the bustling independent daily tabloid. The two-column head, Democratic Pack Running On Empty, which some unidentified (as they always are) copyreader put on his piece, said it all:

"They weren't on an aircraft carrier, but the nine Dedmocrats who want to take on George W. Bush were very much adrift on the open sea," Sciacca began.
He concluded with "You missed the first debate? So did the candidates." In between, he scalped Al Sharpton et alia in the 20-paragraph collectors' piece Bush & Co. should love and reprint.
Yesterday's Boston Sunday Globe Magazine whose full-page cover featured a gross illustration of President Bush's head was totally unlike and not befitting the handsome likeness he has. It will be interesting to follow the Globe's Sunday Magazine in the months ahead and see what the publisher and the Sunday editor decide to do about smiling Saddam Hussein in one of their upcoming Sunday spreads.

The more we learn about him and his horrendous death squads, the better Bush looks and is for sending the U.S. Marines and the rest of our great military into and over Iraq.

Any media observer with a minimum of half a brain, of course, knows what the Globe is and will be up to during the next 18 months as the gap to the 2004 Presidential race closes. Election of a Democrat—any Democrat, Al Sharpton included—is the goal of the far left wing of the Democratic Party. And the Globe with its big Sunday circulation as well as its owners, the New York Times, with their huge circulation, will be there with the left and all other liberal Democrats trying to torpedo the re-election of George Bush.

That's sbout as sure a certainty as identifying Funny Cide as the winner of the 2003 Kentucky Derby Saturday.
There are some titans of 20th century American Literature that I have so far been remiss in reading. I have yet to crack Saul Bellow, I'm ashamed to admit. And there are other legendary novelists I have to catch up on.

Norman Mailer is not one of them.

Friday, May 02, 2003

Surprising bellyaching from both Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan about Bush's flight out to the carrier. Lighten up, guys! Those men and women have been at sea for almost longer than any other carrier—the Commander-in-Chief decides to extend them the courtesy of flying out to say thank you (add to that the fact the carrier was out of range of choppers, so how else was he supposed to get there?). What's the problem??

Michael Ledeen speaks for a lot of viewers I think in NRO:

"George W. is the most amazing president. How could anyone have imagined that such a man, who lacks all the credentials to conduct foreign policy (he hasn't traveled, he hasn't studied foreign cultures, he doesn't speak foreign languages, his knowledge of world history is skimpy, and he hasn't memorized the last decade of the New York Times) would turn out to have the best foreign-policy instincts imaginable? He reminds me more and more of Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. He has the most important quality of a great leader: He instinctively finds the words to express what the American people believe. And his are simple words, not fancy ones.

What a pleasure."

What a pleasure indeed.

Friday, April 25, 2003

After the media hysteria over Shiite protests and the "looting" of the Iraqi National Museum, a welcome perspective from NRO's Victor Davis Hanson:

"The sheer number of factions emerging in Iraq is proof of the birth-pangs of democracy, the principled reluctance of the United States to impose its own rule, and the near-impossibility of fundamentalists controlling the wide political landscape. For all their sinister cabals, Marxism and Khomeinism are both spent forces that have no resonance outside (and little even within) a bankrupt Cuba, North Korea, or Iran. These tired ideologies are more like the dreary bureaucracy of the 1980s Soviet Union than the Communist juggernaut of the postcolonial late Forties. If a few agents and saboteurs inside Iraq are dealt with promptly and firmly in the next few weeks, there will be little chance of mass uprisings."

Thursday, April 24, 2003

That big play today (four column head, page one) the New York Times gave the horror stories of torture and maiming in Iraq should be enough to convince die-hard Bush haters that the President did the world a major service in ridding it and the people of Iraq of a monster comparable to Adolph Hitler. The prestigious Times sets the news pace for all the television networks except Fox and likely will trigger them into strong follow-up interviews with victims that will be aired nationally in this country.

And with each passing day of revelations that Hussein & Co. gouged out eyes, pulled out tongues and sliced ears off victims, French President Jacques Chirac is painting himself in to a corner as the alliance he created with Germany, Russia and China is fraying at the edges and he himself is being cold shouldered by President Bush. It will be interesting to learn just how close he was personally to Hussein.
Guilty of intellectual dishonesty? David Berlinki's latest in this month's issue of Commentary (sadly, you have to pay for it online—but it's well worth it) is a damning indictment of the increasingly shrill and tiresome Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins has made a great show of claiming that a 1994 paper by biologists Suzanne Pelger and Dan-Erik Nilsson used a computer simulation to reveal how purely natural selection could account for the evolution of the eye.

According to Berlinski, a mathematician and author of several excellent science books, no such simulation was ever conducted. The authors' paper cites none, Nilsson actually said so to Berlinksi, and yet their paper has been mentioned repeatedly over the years as a "defining" proof of Darwin's theory.

I don't mind saying I accept Darwin's theory as far as it goes, but this kind of dishonesty by the extreme Darwinists is, to put it mildly, a scandal, as Berlinski writes.

BTW, Berlinski does a good job taking apart the mathematical assumptions behind Nilsson and Pelger's paper while he's at it.

Hmm. Don't mind saying I look forward to seeing how Dawkins, Pinker et al respond.
Today's column by Jeff Jacoby on today's Boston Globe Op Ed page, Where's the Smoking Gun?, illustrates once again why he's the best writer and thinker on Morrissey Boulevard. "It was Saddam and his circle of thugs who were responsible for the violent and often sadistic death of an estimated million human beings," Jacoby wrote.

"It was they who gassed men, women and children en masse. It was they who hanged, shot, beheaded and dismembered people to death for thinking the wrong thoughts....they who murdered the youngest and sickest of Iraq's people by embezzling tens of millions of olil-for-food dollars and spending them on obscene pleasure palaces for themselves instead of medicine and bread for the weak and hungry.

"A million deaths. And that doesn't include the others left maimed and mutilated, the innocents blinded or broken for life. It doesn't account for the minds that shattered under torture or the families that were reduced to shreds. It leaves out the agony of the father whose child was burned alive to make him speak; the endless pain of the wife or daughter whose gang rape was carried out and videotaped on government orders; the emotional scar of those forced to watch as Saddam's agents fed their victims to wild dogs or slowly lowered them into vats of acid."

Finding a so-called "smoking gun" isn't the issue, Jacoby said, taking the wind out of the sails of those critics of the U. S. led victory in Iraq whose intense dislike of President Bush dominates their thinking. We went to war, Jacoby wrote, to crush one of the bloodiest tyrannies the modern world has known.

That says it all.

Monday, April 21, 2003

All is not well in the Republic of Steinbrenner.

Friday, April 18, 2003

A poem in honor of Good Friday:

Matthew 27:52

When the sepulchers ruptured
And expelled cadavers haltingly
To strut their shrouded knees and elbows forth,
Those ashen eyes did not perceive the stars above
Or in what orbit Venus moved
While the moon obscured the sun.
This exalted carrion chased instead the gale
Along the streets and roads of
Jerusalem's outer quarter,
To engage the startled rabble,
Before the squall released its puppet's grip
And let them fall clattering upon
Once-familiar thresholds and passageways,
Bearing—before startled eyes—brief witness
To the passing of the medial swain,
Who dangled on a tree between two thieves.

John Farrell

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

The big quarter-page ad on the print version of today's New York Times op ed page soliciting funds for a so-called "Peace" drive—one, incidentally, which will expend much of the funds raised on very expensive newspaper ads such as this one—also raises a question about how closely the liberal media, especially the Times, will monitor the group soliciting funds. This should include identifying all contributors!
Today's New York Times Arts Section article Dilemma's Definition:The Left And Iraq should be MUST reading in all political sciences classes around the country for exposing the way the liberal left—and this includes the Times itself—operates in this country.
It is, to be frank and this certainly wasn't intended, an indictment of all the liberal media encompassing newspapers like the Boston Globe as well as major television networks for being so consumed by their dislike of President Bush, they still cannot bring themselves to giving him any credit for his courage and swift and decsive action against Saddam Hussein & Co.

Also a MUST for polysci candidates is today's lead editorial in the Wall Street Journal which says it all as it jabs the Times "and its acolytes at CNN and the major networks, and of course most academic experts. They cannot bring themselves to celebrate the downfall of a tyrant before predicting the awful challenges to come."

Monday, April 14, 2003

Mark Steyn is on a roll:

"It seems very odd that the Left, which routinely bemoans the injustice of Barbara Bush's son having greater opportunities than the son of a crack whore in the inner city merely because of an accident of birth, then turns around and tells 20 million Iraqis that they have to accept their lot and live in a prison state forever. Julian Barnes, Iowa's Democratic Senator Tom Harkin and a zillion others continue to feel this way—even after Saddam's fall."

Friday, April 11, 2003

Superb piece in UPI today (via Merde in France) by James C. Bennett on how the U.S. should handle Europe in the aftermath of the war:

"The third course is to admit that the European Union is flawed and badly in need of not just reform but wholesale replacement. The ideal of free trade and cooperation among European nations, and between them and the world, is true and desirable. But the European Union, as it stands, is not the means of achieving it. And the best remedy for its ills is competition.

"The United States, its friends in Britain and Ireland, and those on the Continent who share their critique of the Europeanist disease must adopt a vigorous and aggressive policy of offering a viable alternative to the take-it-or-leave it policies Brussels hold out to old and new members alike. The United States must take the lead in offering free trade to every democratic European nation, whether it is in the EU or not.

"Such a move would create a free trade structure that would allow every European nation inside or out of the EU the realistic choice of joining or not joining, staying or leaving. This trade structure, a Transatlantic Free Trade Area ("TAFTA"), would be destination of choice. Its availability would deprive Brussels of its ability to make members accept its whole agenda of centralized control in exchange for access to Western European markets."

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Eric Alterman whines that his book What Liberal Media isn't getting the attention it deserves because of the war in Iraq:

Mr. Alterman told me he was "enormously gratified" by the reception to his book (good review in The Times), but added that he was also disappointed because the book had "been crowded out by the war," and thus it had been hard to get "traction."

"I had a lot of reasons to be anti-war, and the book was a small one," he said. "Everything was dominated by the war, and still is."


Isn't that terrible. Let's not put the lives of American service men and women or innocent Iraqis before a book, for God's sake....

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Quote of the week:

Hadi Al-Baghdadi, a 42-year-old Iraqi living in Dearborn, had a suggestion for dealing with members of Saddam's ousted regime.

"Don't kill them," he said. "Put them in cages in a zoo. And then we can use the admissions fees to rebuild Iraq."

Couldn't Resist Dept. "They stand, they fight, sometimes they run when we engage them," Brigadier-General John Kelly said.

"But often they run into our machine guns and we shoot them down like the morons they are."

Read more.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Instapundit supports the contention of many bloggers and readers that James Carroll of the Boston Globe is a half-wit.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Note from Jim Lileks to Senator John "Regime Change" Kerry:

"If someone invaded America tomorrow, how many big public posters would they have to tear down? How many airports and hospitals and highways would they have to rename?

How many statues would they have to topple?"

Somehow I don't think Kerry's ever going to answer that question.
Great piece by Ralph Peters for the New York Post:

" Certainly, we shall learn a great deal more about the atrocities of Saddam's regime. But the information of far greater value will be what we learn about the regime's relationships not only with other rogue states, but with our long-term "allies" in the Arab world and beyond. "

Read more.
There have been a lot of eulogies for Michael Kelly, but I for one find Dan Kennedy's the best so far. Perhaps, ironically, because he didn't share a lot of Kelly's opinions. Just one journalist admiring another. (Kudos to Maureen Dowd, too, who finally just wrote what she was thinking and feeling).

It may be because I'm a father now, but it keeps nagging me, the rather ungenerous thought, that Kelly really had no business being over there and should have thought of his kids first.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Michael Kelly has been killed in an accident in Iraq. God rest his soul.
The inimitable Mark Steyn:

"Just for the record, as of yesterday morning fewer British servicemen had died in combat in Iraq than Ontarians had died of SARS. That may be one reason why Her Majesty's Governments in London and Canberra are now advising their citizens not to travel to Toronto. The Brits and Aussies are happy to take their chances in Basra and Mosul, but Hogtown? Forget it."

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Poor John Kerry! You have to feel sorry for him these days stumbling around the political landscape trying to make a dent in President Bush's popularity as he attempts to impress Democratic delegates to next year's national convention at which they will choose the man or woman they want to oppose the President in the 2004 election ---not an inviting prospect for any Democrat.

Kerry of course will have the Boston Globe in his corner as was obvious from the big page one play the newspaper gave him this morning on his speech yesterday in Peterborough, New Hampshire echoing the anti-war crowd's call for a change at the helm of the U.S. givernment Democrats hope the Iraq desert war drags out and evolves into another Vietnam to enhance their prospects at the ballot box next year.
The story from NRO's Corner initially posted here has been wiped. Turned out to be a priest and not the bishop who made the offending comments....(kinda ruins the point I was trying to make).
When Canadians act like Palestinians...

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Dan Kennedy's take on the two faces of Peter Arnett.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

That eight-column headline: Pentagon Defends Its War Strategy, in large bold-face type across the top of yesterday's Boston Globe proves the point that over weekends, particularly on Sunday nights, the second and third strings of news editors are in charge of the Globe and put out the Monday morning editions of the newspaper. To lead the paper with that story being promoted by Peter Arnett and his act-alikes over on Morrissey Blvd. with so much other news of the brave coalition forces battling in Iraq available, was the work of amateurs presumably trying to promote the Globe's editorial positions.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Favorite Liberals Dept. Dan Kennedy lets Maureen Down have it for her latest piece of NYT tripe:

"Maybe Dowd considers herself just a cheap entertainer at this stage of her career, but there's no excuse for this kind of disingenuousness. Rumsfeld may be in a heap of trouble (and he should be), but he clearly has not walked away from General Franks's plan."

Read more.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

Why Mark Steyn makes my day:

"In the early hours of last Thursday morning, Washington opened the war by dropping a bunker buster on a meeting of the regime's A-list psychos. Ever since, Saddam has been in reruns. Iraqi TV is dependent on generic exhortations to the masses that can be dated only by the varying amount of Grecian in the dictatorial moustache. The great leader's message to his people is: "Here's one I made earlier." With Saddam embedded into the concrete of Sub-Basement Level IV, where's the even more psychotic son, Uday? Alas, it seems that, in that opening salvo, Saddam's baby got thrown out with the Baath water."

Read more.
Just another reason why Tiger Woods has so much class:

"Our Congress and President tried hard to avoid the use of force, but ultimately decided it was the best course of action. I like the assertiveness shown by President Bush and think we owe it to our political and military leaders, along with our brave soldiers to be as supportive as possible during these difficult and trying times. I just wanted to take this opportunity to let our forces know that I am thinking about you and wishing you and your families the best."

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Interview I did with Jeremiah Kipp at Culture Dose is now online. Kipp was great to talk to. He really knows his film and video and I appreciated his straightforward qualms about shooting in video as opposed to film.

Monday, March 24, 2003

I can't think of a conservative whose views on science I disagree with more—but on the issue of the Pope and his stance against the Iraq war, I think Tom Bethell hits the nail right on the head:

"If the Pope were to say that an attack by Western countries on Iraq would not auger well for Christians in that country, everyone would (at the least) appreciate the good sense of his position. But here, as so often in his papacy, the pope seems to subordinate the welfare the Church he presides over to the promotion of a woolly theistic humanism. It is the whole world that he is concerned with, not these merely parochial concerns. All too often, he sounds as though he would rather be, instead of Pope, a one-man United Nations, filled with caring for the material welfare of all the people in this world. Dare I suggest that he does not have his priorities straight? It is our spiritual welfare that he should be concerned about."

Read more.
Maybe it is about oil—but not the way the anti-war goons think. Read this superb piece in today's New York Post by Nicole Gelinas.
My latest piece is at Tech Central today. How digital video is changing the landscape for documentary film-makers.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Favorite Liberals Dept. Richard Cohen in the Washington Post today:

"I don't know—and I somehow doubt—that George W. Bush spends much time ruminating on the Holocaust and pairing it with what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I do think, though, that he thinks about evil. He does so, we are told, in religious terms, and in that he is different from me. But we both come out in the same place: Evil must be confronted."