Saturday, November 30, 2002

Jay Fitzgerald reminds me why I need to remember to read Howie Carr on a regular basis:

In the old days, the Bulger bumkissers would already be springing to his defense. But Joe Moakley is dead, Mike Wallace of CBS is 84, Bill Weld is hung over and Cardinal Law is in disgrace. The plagiarists on Morrissey Boulevard have been routed and Whitey is on the lam.

The former Senate President's time may be coming. Read more.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Speaking of Jonathan Franzen, the insufferable drip's new book gets a right padding by James Wolcott in The New Republic.

Jonathan Franzen has the knack to annoy. Is it a conscious gift? Is he aware of how grating his pleaful moans and hopeful sighs have become? (It's like a snore turned inside out.) Or is he intentionally irritating us, passive-aggressively wearing down his readers' resistance until we finally crack and agree with what he thinks and, more importantly, how he feels? How he felt in the 1990s was melancholy. The country was partying, but he was gnawing on a dry bone. He evokes his sunken condition with a litany of "d" words: darkness, depression, despair ("My despair about the American novel began in the winter of 1991...").

Here's more:

In "Books in Bed," a roundup of sexual how-to guides that elicits the coy admission "I have no objection to a nice bra, still less to being invited to remove one" (down, tiger), Franzen again fidgets to set himself slightly apart. "The last thing I want is to be reminded of the vaguely icky fact that across the country millions of other people are having sex," he writes, horrified by all that humping going on down along the railroad shacks.

Victor Davis Hanson on the left's risible contention that the U.S. has now become an empire:

Rome found its limits when it butted up against Germany and Parthia. The Ottomans never could bully too well the Venetians or the Spanish. Britain worried about France and Spain at sea and the Germanic peoples by land. In contrast, the restraint on American power is not China, Russia, or the European Union, but rather the American electorate itself—whose reluctant worries are chronicled weekly by polls that are eyed with fear by our politicians. We, not them, stop us from becoming what we could.

Jay Fitzgerald blogs a great new addition to the dictionary:

"Introducing a new word (and not just a nickname) into the local vocabulary: ‘big-dig’ (v. — to swindle money from feds, to shamelessly loot, to hoodwink non-Massachusetts residents into paying for local boondoggles — big-digging, big-diggedWe sure big-digged them again — / ... Big Dig/big-dig (n.). 1. Name of large tunnel construction project in Boston in late 20th Century, early 21st Century, locally known as the ‘Big Dig’ project. 2. Noun used to signify big projects in Boston paid for by the federal government. — Oh, don't worry. It's another big-dig. We're not paying a dime. / ... big-dig (adj.-adv.) — to describe the questionable use of fed money for local projects — Quick, finish the job. They're on to our big-dig scam.... )"

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Gregg Easterbrook in the December issue of Wired:

In 1965, another sort of big bang echo—the cosmic background radiation—was discovered. Soon, it was assumed, cosmologists would be able to say, "Here's how everything happened, steps one, two, and three." Today cosmologists do think they know a fair amount about steps two and three—what the incipient cosmos was like in the instant after the genesis, how matter and energy later separated and formed the first galaxies. But as for step one, no dice. Nobody knows beyond foggy conjecture what caused the big bang, what (if anything) was present before that event, or how there could have been a prior condition in which nothing existed.

Well, er, of course no one knows what was present before that event. Nor could they, since by very nature such conditions could not be testable. Which is why, as Easterbrook writes, that long-scorned subject of metaphysics is coming back into vogue.

I've certainly noticed that long out-of-print classics, such as Etienne Gilson's Being and Some Philosophers, are once again available as paperbacks. And even Tommy Aquinas has made a reappearance in such places as Harvard Book Store.

Addendum: I myself am not sanguine about vaunted rapprochements between science and religion. As historian of science Stanley Jaki once quipped, what God has separated, let no man join together. He was speaking more of philosophy and science, but the point is well taken regarding religion and science as well, in my opinion.
Scottish crime novelist Val McDermid on how the mystery and crime genres (at least in the UK) are helping to keep 'mainstream' fiction honest:

"Literary fiction in the U.K. became very concerned with literary theory, critical theory, to the extent that the notion of narrative almost became a dirty word. That's slowly started to change because the simple economics of the marketplace dictate that readers actually want to read things that have a beginning, a middle and an end. I think we're hard-wired for narrative. I've been saying this until I'm blue in the face for the last 10 years. And interestingly enough there was an article recently in the Observer when the Booker short list came out saying precisely this, and I felt I'd been vindicated.

"But it seems to me that although literary fiction is returning to the notion of narrative, [literary fiction writers] are still not engaging with the society that we're living in. There's a big boom in historical fiction, whether it's recent history or further back in time. I mean Ian McEwan's novel "Atonement" is essentially an historical novel. It doesn't engage with the present day. And I think that if you look at the successful books in literary fiction, this is what you find. So the crime novel started to pick up the baton in the '90s. We were the ones writing about the reality of the world we lived in."

I hope this is true in America, too. I've had enough of Rick Moody, Jonathan Franzen and Lorrie Moore. Read more from McDermid in Salon.
It's coming:

Viewers, beware. The Two Towers, the dazzling second installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, picks up exactly where the first one left off. No Star Wars-style scroll to bring you up to speed, no quick compilation of scenes from the first film, no opening Cate Blanchett narration—nothing. It begins in medias res, as though you had just stepped out for a few seconds to get more popcorn. If you didn't see last year's The Fellowship of the Ring, Peter Jackson, the trilogy's wizardly director, isn't about to cut you any slack.

From Time.
Jonathan Last on the latest Bond "movie":

A note on Halle Berry: At last year's Academy Awards, Berry won an Oscar for Best Actress and, in her speech ranted quite hysterically about the barriers she was breaking down and the discrimination she has faced as an actress of color. Berry was awarded her Oscar for "Monster's Ball," but her two previous roles were in "X-Men" and "Swordfish." Now here she is as cheesecake in a Bond movie. I can't think of another actor whose Oscar-winning role was bracketed by such embarrassing work.

Read more.

I was just thinking how the winning of an Oscar has (at least it seems to me) often turned out to be the kiss of death for many actresses. Anyone heard from Cher since "Moonstruck"? How about the abysmal Holly Hunter since she won for the monotonous "Piano"? And what's happened to Emma Thompson since she won the screenwriting Oscar for Sense and Sensibility?

Just a thought.

Maybe Halle's just being smart—going for the big bucks while she can.

Monday, November 25, 2002

William Safire on the importance of Israel's upcoming election:
So I'm rooting for Arik to win his party's nomination this week and for Likud to win seats from Labor and from Shas, the fading religious party, in January. Then I'd like to see Bibi take the finance ministry and be given a free hand to yank Israel out of its slump, while the former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky adds his moral force to the foreign ministry. When a peacemaking Arik shakes the hand of independent Palestine's prime minister, let Bibi and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert and Education Minister Limor Livnat (the next Golda) fight it out for Likud leadership.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

My book Digital Movies With QuickTime Pro has been listed in the Author's Corner section of this week's QuickTime newsletter from Apple.
Favorite Liberals Department: Ron Brown at the New York Observer (via Glenn Reynolds):
How can the Left be so blind to who the real enemy is? How can they have so alienated themselves—not just from the electorate, but from reason itself, dumbing down dissidence to paranoid Vidalian mass-murder conspiracy charges? Because, in effect, they have founded their own religion: Bush hatred. It doesn’t have a God, but it does have a Satan: "Bush is the devil.

Read the rest.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan for the tip off to this article, in today's Guardian by one Hugo Young. It should be read in full by all Catholics—even if you don't agree with all of his points.

For one sample: [The Church] demands a tolerance for past error, and an exemption from the rules of civil society, that many Catholics find impossible to pass over. It contends, with a casuistry that can only be called Jesuitical, that the problem is not one for which the church alone must answer. There are many ironies and contradictions in its position. For most Catholics none will strike with such exquisite and even risible pain as the spectacle of an institution, the Vatican, that has done so much damage over so many years by telling people, on pain of mortal sin, how they should lead their sexual lives, itself now demanding that the sexual perversion of priests should be forgiven and forgotten.

And this: In a devastating piece in the current New York Review of Books, Garry Wills reports hearing two senior Roman priests saying that if the church changes its teaching on contraception, it will cease to exist. "Just think," writes Wills, "all the original and saving truths of the church (creation, incarnation, resurrection, the sacraments, last judgment, eternal life) are not worth a thing if condoms are allowed."

I happen to think the Church has a thoughtful position on artificial contraception—but you can't help wondering at those priests mentioned above, and the words of Christ when he denounced Pharisees who "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." There is a sickness in any institution that places its own corporate welfare before that of its true mission—that is: the Gospel.

"It's a whore business," an Alex Brown veteran said to me last winter. "When I was on the desk, I'd look up and see these guys on TV or in the paper touting stocks that I knew for a fact they were looking to dump. These were not nitwit analysts. These were senior guys at brand-name firms. They had no qualms about it. It was just what you did to get out of a losing position. And I'll tell you this: It's everyday commonplace. It happens every day on TV, in the papers."

Read more, from John Ellis's latest piece in Fast Company.
The always amusing Jonah Goldberg on Al Gore's recent lurch to the left: the end, all this means he's the same Al Gore as ever, in the only way that matters. Who cares whether he says he's for socialized medicine or for the free market, for war or for peace, for cats or for dogs—whatever. He's not believable because he's at best an ideological mercenary, willing to adopt any uniform that will get him where he wants to go. He isn't the "New Al Gore"—as so many journalists have claimed—any more than Richard Nixon was the "New Nixon." The man (or in this case the big, sweaty robot) remains unchanged. He is still the "man" From Carthage, and Carthage still must be destroyed. Delenda est Carthago bumper stickers will be available in the NRO store soon.

Still, I can't help wondering whether deep down, Gore not only doesn't want to run again, he doesn't want to even make it to the election. Reportedly, his oldest daughter is still the most wounded in the family about the 2000 election. There's no way to prove this, of course, but maybe Al is going hard left in order to get himself cleaned out of the primary process by someone else as soon as possible. That way he can show his daughter that, yes, at least he ran again—2000 wasn't the last word, and that it wasn't in the cards. And that way perhaps he might really be able to get on with a life outside politics.

Just my two cents worth. I'm not a Democrat, but it would be a good thing for the Gore raised in a hotel suite all during his childhood to at last be able to escape the shadow of his oppressive father.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Mark Riebling writes in today's NROnline, that another terrorist attack on New York and Washington is very possible—especially during Ramadan, which ends on December 4th:

In New York City, especially, public-transit systems must be rated priority targets. The recent arrest in Britain of North African Islamists, who had apparently planned to disperse cyanide in the London subways, should be an indicator of neon significance. Given the subways' unique importance to those who live and work in New York City — and the impossibility of preventing armed terrorists from boarding them — the city's subways must be rated al Qaeda's most likely target there.

The assets used by the terrorists in this operation will not be their most competent, discreet, and valued. Those operatives will be saved for the future, more spectacular attack. Thus, some of the terrorists who will soon attempt attacks in New York and in Washington may be "dirty" assets — individuals that al Qaeda suspects may already have come under surveillance, e.g. at mosques.

There is, accordingly, some chance that aspects of these attack plans will be detected and disrupted. There is also a corresponding chance that the attacks, if mounted, will be less effective than intended. In either case, however, the strategic objective of "making good" on the threats in the six-page letter will have been achieved.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I'm interviewed today in the new QuickTime support site run by Clifford VanMeter.

Friday, November 15, 2002

There's some R-rated language at this site, but if you want to sample some hilarious parodies of Apple's "Switch" campaign of commercials, then check these out. QuickTime required. (No kidding?!)

Monday, November 11, 2002

Television journalst Tim Russert, widely recognized as the best in the businesss, moderated the final and what proved to be decisive debate between Massachusetts gubernatorial candidates Shannon O'Brien and Gov.-elect Mitt Romney as a public service. The MSNBC newsman who also moderates NBC's long-running Meet The Press show on Sunday mornings, could easily have charged upwards of $10,000 for his expert handling of the one-on-one clash. Another indication of the NBC performer's class!
Today's Boston Globe Op Ed column by the newspaper's relatively new Ombudsman, Christine Chinlund, was a feeble attempt to explain the paper's pro-O'Brien coverage of the Massachusetts' governor's battle between her and Gov-elect Mitt Romney. Chinlund admitted there has been a flood of complaints about the Globe's one-sidedness during the last week of the campaign, but in her naive view the coverage was evenly balanced.

To take that position, Ms. Chinlund obviously had not read the various stories and play they received throughout October and early November. Articles by Globe staffer Charley Pierce attempting to portray Gov.-elect Romney in a bad light were enough to prove the lopsided thrust of the Globe's news department towards the incoming chief executive. And the lead play her column received at the top of the Op Ed page obviously was aimed at trying to soothe the feelings of the legion of disgruntled readers.

Friday, November 08, 2002

According to, Boston's WHDH-TV, Channel 7, is the best news station in the country. The station at one time was part of the Westinghouse chain and originated the weekly, ground-breaking Starring the Editors TV show carried on Sunday afternoons over Channel 4. David Farrell, managing editor of the Boston Herald in the 1960's, was privileged to be a member of the Editor's panel chaired by Christian Science Monitor Editor Erwin D. Canham in the 1960's.
I love Pedro Martinez, but he's got to be kidding if he thinks we're going to buy his line that he was denied the Cy Young because certain sports writers didn't like him or because there were too many Dominicans winning other awards and the judges wanted to pick an American. As Dan Shaughnessy writes in today's Boston Globe:

Sadly, even though Pedro was marginally the best pitcher in the American League in 2002, he lost his bid for the Cy Young Award when he ''shut it down'' after beating the Orioles in Baltimore Sept. 22.

The Sox still had seven games left when Pedro won his 20th and announced, ''This is it ... I don't have anything else to prove. I'm done. I'm not running. I'm not doing anything. I'm not going to take a chance of getting hurt in my next outing.''

Those comments came three days before the Red Sox were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

It was amusing to read Al Hunt's political column in the Wall Street Journal today as he did his best to put an encouraging twist on Tuesday's party debacle for the Democratic Party. But Hunt, like most other liberal observers in the media, are in a state of shock as they contemplate the liklihood that President Bush---after two years of obstruction by Vermont's Sen. Patrick Leahy---will get most of his conservative judicial nominees through the Senate.
The President's nominations to the Federal bench will be the big political story out of Washington in 2003 as the National Organization of Women (NOW) pressures their favorite senators, Leahy and Ted Kennedy, to go all out, even filibuster, against Bush's nominees. The biggest battle on the Judiciary Committee will focus on the President's selection of the next chief justice of the United States Supreme Court to succeed William Rehnquist who is expected to retire.
Chrsistopher Ruddy's election analysis deserves to be quoted in detail. From

In one word, the main reason the Democrats suffered defeat: Clinton.

The party seems hopelessly in the grips of the left-wing, disreputable Clintons and their minions.

Chris Matthews recently noted Bill Clinton's influence in the Democratic Party, and said he was acting like "Boss Tweed." We know that Bill and Hillary continue to control the DNC through their handpicked chairman, Terry McAuliffe.

And, Bill Clinton's dominance in the party became transparent as Election Day neared. In fact, Clinton's hand was almost everywhere: New Jersey, New York, Minnesota, Florida.

He was also deciding where and how much the DNC would spend on behalf of specific candidates.

Though the Clintons engineered Carl McCall's nomination for governor in New York, Clinton later told McCall he couldn't have national DNC funds for his race.

In Florida, the Clintons and McAuliffe made defeating Jeb Bush their highest priority. Not only did millions flow in from Democrat coffers, but this past weekend the Democrats brought into the state their supposed "big gun," Bill Clinton.

Up until Clinton's visit, McBride had been gaining in the polls, had momentum on his side, and was within striking distance of defeating Jeb Bush.

Then Clinton arrived. He and Janet Reno appeared with McBride on a Miami stage to rally the vote.

Clinton gave McBride the kiss of death.

Read Jay Fitzgerald. For the first time I can remember, the Boston Globe's Joan Vennochi sounds idiotic: Joan Vennochi, who appeared so shell-shocked yesterday, has angrily pulled out a blunderbuss and is firing off a round of rusty nails, glass, sharp-edged rocks and anything else she could stuff into the muzzle. Joan says we’re becoming “mean” like New Hampshire and that we’re indeed entering a “new era.” And count her among those with holier-than-thou rhetoric, as Margery Eagan referred to above. I.e., Joan: “Massachusetts voters don't like immigrants either; 68 percent voted to replace bilingual education with English immersion.” Yep, Joan, that’s what Question 2 was all about. We hate immigrants. You got us. We’re exposed as hate-filled New Hampshire types. Thanks, Joan.

Good point.
Glenn Reynolds on what Bush should do now to secure good will from all voters: I think that the Bush Administration needs to do something dramatic that will position it on the side of consumers against Evil Big Business. And I have just the thing: The Bush Administration should take on the crooks and thugs of the recording and movie industries. And it should do so on the side of artists and consumers.


Wednesday, November 06, 2002

When I was at Harvard 20 years ago, I remember most of the faculty as being left-wing. They'd sigh and roll their eyes about Ronald Reagan, to be sure, but they were articulate and polite in discussion. They really were open-minded.

My, things have changed on college campuses since then. (Thanks to Glenn Reynolds.)

For the straight dope on this cretinous shrew (and how he got a job at what appears to be a Catholic University is beyond me) read more at Nealz Nuze here. Boortz is to be highly commended for tracking down all the info on this clown. Since Kirstein's hysterical loathing for the military and his country has been exposed to the entire web world, he has issued a mealy-mouthed apology. But as Boortz writes, you wonder what intellectual crap this little stoat force feeds his hapless students every day. And parents get to foot this guy's bill?

Here is truth indeed (from The New Republic):

The narrow lesson is that Romney's opponent, Shannon O'Brien, was a lousy candidate. O'Brien is Massachusetts's state treasurer, but a more accurate way to describe her is a political-machine hack who has never shown much in the way of creativity or political courage. O'Brien hails from an old Democratic political family, and you always suspected she was simply playing the family game for its own sake--and not very skillfully at that. Her campaigning grew so inept in recent weeks that O'Brien was forced to fly in top party consultants like Bob Shrum for a crash reinvention course. Then in a sign of her desperation in the final days of the race, O'Brien tried pathetically to make an issue of Romney's allegedly sexist complaint that her attacks on him were "unbecoming." Meanwhile, Romney skillfully cast her as a cog in the state Democratic machine. Given the inclination of Massachusetts voters to put a Republican check on that machine, O'Brien needed to prove him wrong. But she couldn't do it--because he was right.
Thank you, Terry McAuliffe:

NBC’s Tim Russert: Now, you said in The New York Times last week, “Jeb Bush is gone.” You want to take those words back? McAuliffe: Of course not. I’ve very excited about what’s going on in Florida. Russert: He’s going to lose guaranteed? McAuliffe: Yep...we are going to win Florida which is going to set us up, Tim, very nicely for 2004. (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” November 3, 2002) (Via Drudge Report).

The GOP has got to hope this jackass is still in charge of the DNC for 2004.

Monday, November 04, 2002

I once helpfully suggested to some liberal acquaintances at Electrolite that the reason Gore gets such bad press is that he's been basically luckless. I was given a polite but firm drubbing. In light of this from the American Prowler:

If nothing else comes out of the election of 2002 it is the knowledge that Al Gore is completely obsessed with his defeat in 2000, and that he is dragging his Democratic Party into whatever dark hole his mind resides in.

Take what happened this past week in Maryland, when Gore stumped with that state's gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Understand that Townsend is perhaps, next to California's Bill Simon, the worst campaigner this year. By all rights, she should be down ten, no 15 points in the polls. But in a Democratically controlled state, she was lucky on Wednesday to be up by one or two points against Republican Bob Ehrlich.

Then Al hit the road with her. His campaign speeches focused almost exclusively on his loss in 2000, with barely a mention of Townsend. Gore's speech received major play across the state. And a day later, Democratic tracking polls showed Townsend had lost three points in the polls and trailed Ehrlich going into today.

I now realize I was indeed woefully wrong about Gore. He's not luckless. He's a moron.