Friday, January 31, 2003

AOL is starting to bleed.
Victor Davis Hanson at NRO:

"Forget the tales that will come from postbellum Iraq of the liberation of thousands, of decades of mass murder, of Hussein's destruction of the environment, of the caches of terrible weapons, and of the stability a reformed Iraq will bring for Europe—instead, for Europeans the only story will be bad American hyper-puissance. Indeed, such is the sad state of affairs that we are surprised less that our so-called friends are no longer allies, than that they are not yet overt enemies."

I'm just wondering. On this side of the Atlantic we read more every day about the near hysteria on the left as war approaches, and more information every day from the other side about seething anti-Americanism in "old Europe."

How long do you think before we get reports about French thugs desecrating the graves of American soldiers at Normandy?

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Fewer Doctors Providing Abortion: "So why are doctors forgoing this safe, legal, profitable venture? Because the same technology that has made abortion safer, easier, and quicker, has also dramatically changed the relationship between the physician and the fetus."

Read more of this fascinating article here. It seems the march of technology puts a more and more human face on the fetus at earlier and earlier stages of pregnancy, and doctors cannot help treating the 'products of conception' more like patients and less like a pair of tonsels.

This news will not be welcomed by the fanatics on the "pro choice" side of abortion. (I know, there are fanatics on the other side, too. And they kill.) Read the article. Much as NARAL would like you to believe that right-wing gun freaks are all over the country, discouraging doctors from performing abortions, the truth, as always, is a little more complex.

A sober reflection from William Safire this morning:

"Both sides of the debate are furiously positioning to cover themselves in case the other side proves right. But the difference is this: Even if the hawks are wrong about Saddam's treachery, 20 million terrified Iraqis would be freed. If the doves are wrong and their delay enables the genocidal tyrant to become a world power, millions of American lives could well be lost. "

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

"The fiasco surrounding last year's Sundance buzz-monster Tadpole —for which Miramax paid $5 million, only to see it wilt unseen in theaters—confirmed suspicions that this festival produces much-lauded films that few people in the lower altitudes really want to watch."

No kidding. Read more (while the Boston Globe link is still accessible). I even have my suspicions about the much-lauded.

Monday, January 27, 2003

"Are movie critics that out of touch with the public? Is that necessarily bad? And if so, should average moviegoers or Oscar voters pay any attention to this deluge of critical voting, rehashing and listmaking?"

Read more. (via Romanesko's MediaNews)
For those anti-war types who keep insisting on proof that there is a connection between Saddam and Al-Qaeda, I offer William Safire's latest:

On Sept. 24, 2001, I reported: "The clear link between the terrorist in hiding [Osama] and the terrorist in power [Saddam] can be found in Kurdistan, that northern portion of Iraq protected by U.S. and British aircraft. . . . Kurdish sources tell me (and anyone else who will listen) that the Iraqi dictator has armed and financed a fifth column of Al Qaeda mullahs and terrorists. . . ."

Read the rest of it. I must confess I've never been persuaded by the arguments that we need to prove some direct connection between the Iraqi 'leader' and the cowardly Wahabis. It's enough that they murder innocents by the thousands and pose a threat to the West. Nevertheless, I hope the above will help those still sitting on the fence.

Andrew Sullivan, by the way, also has some excellent words for the anti-war types who seem more motivated by personal hatred of Bush.

Friday, January 24, 2003

The Boston Herald's Howie Carr, without a doubt the best and, by the way, the most feared political columnist in New England, continues to demonstrate why he merits that distinction with every column he writes. The column he penned this past Wednesday is a perfect example as Carr packed it with much inside news and analysis of same which only he, among the flock of reporters who cover the State House, seems capable of or willing to reveal.

As he frequently does, Carr castigated UMass Boston President William Bulger, resurrecting the famous State Street project involving Harold Brown and Bulger's law partner. Two other targets of Carr's pen in recent weeks have been Boston Mayor Thomas "Mumbles" Menino and Mass. House Speaker Thomas "Tommy Taxes" Finneran.

In addition to having many, many sources who can't wait to call him with disparaging information about the Beacon Hill and City Hall political powers, Carr is very clever and an excellent writer. It's obvious from reading his columns regularly that he has his own filing system that transcends the Herald's morgue.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

MP3 Update: Three days of sub-zero weather in Franconia Notch. Very little wind, so I ended up recording the sounds of a crackling fire—which was kept going for most of the sojourn.

I realize crackling fire isn't exactly the nicest thing to listen to for relaxation—however, it does provide a good background ambiance for non-linear digital editors to use in any indoor scenes. So for all of the DV producers out there, I will post this to the Environs page shortly.

Read the Captain's Log (at USS Clueless) for reasons supporting the contention that we are planning to attack Iraq as soon as the end of this month.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Rod Dreher at NRO's The Corner makes much out of the fact that Jack Nicholson is opposed to abortion. I've heard this before, too, but am not at all convinced it means the movie star belongs in the pro-life category. Dreher provides no links, and from my memory of a similar report ten years or so ago, Nicholson backed down when confronted about his views by feminists.

In other words, don't expect to see Jack at the March for Life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Alex Beam writes today: "Isn't it the case that when celebrities plump for causes that we generally regard as praiseworthy, they receive pats on the back, rather than brickbats? A case in point: After being inducted into the Army in World War II, the boxer Joe Louis was asked why he had signed up to defend a country that had denied him so many basic rights. ''There may be a whole lot wrong with America, but there's nothing that Hitler can fix,'' he replied. Louis was a simple man, but no one mocked him for being unqualified to pronounce on racial politics and world affairs."

He then goes on, implausibly, to wonder why so many people ridicule celebrities like Sean Penn—as if Sean Penn's antics in Iraq are somehow equivalent to Joe Louis'. This is surprising for Alex Beam, who usually is more discerning. It does not seem to have occurred to him that public ridicule of Penn has something to do with Iraq being our enemy, and that if Sean Penn had pulled a Joe Louis, signed up for military service and said the exact same thing about Saddam that Louis said about Hitler, every blog would be cheering the guy.

Question to Alex: who thinks sucking up to Saddam is praiseworthy?

Friday, January 17, 2003

I've noticed a nice amount of traffic from people freeloading—er, excuse me, downloading the mp3s I've created of nature sounds (on the Environs page to your left). I hope everyone enjoys them. And speaking of which, I'm off to the north country this long weekend in pursuit of some new stereo environs, so look for at least one new mp3 soon.

These are provided as a free service to all people who have to work in cubicles and similar conditions where there is a lot of noise to distract during the work day. Add these to your iPod or mp3 player, or just play them back on your computer for some nice background.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Wiltgen on why Eldred v. Ashcroft was a defeat for the public.
"Here is a fabulously wealthy, famously cute singer, telling the impoverished men, women and children tortured, gassed and abused by one of the most disgusting dictators of all time that any attempt to rescue or liberate them is 'not the answer.' And she expresses this message in sequins. She couldn't afford diamonds?"

Andrew Sullivan on Sheryl Crow. With regret I must add Ms. Crow to the list of entertainers and celebrities for whom my enthusiasm has been dampened by recent reflexive, moronic displays of political and moral ignorance.

It's too bad, because I like her music. Again, why is it that celebrities think they have the right to insult us with their so-called philosophies? We like their (fill in the blank—music, movies, novels, TV show), therefore we are ready and waiting for their deep thoughts about the real world? — when in fact what they do for a living has next to nothing to do with the real world.

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Is the storm that overwhelmed Cardinal Law now turning its 'eye' toward Southie? Howie Carr thinks so.

I'm sure I'm not the first to notice what a skimpy web page scientist/popularizer Richard Dawkins offers.

He basically passes the buck off to one of his enthusiastic fans here. Doesn't even provide an email address.

Rather a shame. I like a lot of Dawkins' work, however shrill he can be when he gets a bee in his bonnet about "creationists."

But I've noticed that most working scientists are much more approachable by email than celebrity science authors. Physicists and astronomers are wonderfully approachable. They are almost all much more pressed and busy than most authors, and yet they find the time to answer intelligent questions.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Sneaky Gates. Is Microsoft planning to dump free software into the education market to undercut Apple?

Mike at Tech Dirt has more.
Dan Kennedy is senior writer for the Boston Phoenix—and always has a fascinating take on Boston pols, hacks, media and culture. His weblog is hosted by the Phoenix here.

Check it out.

Monday, January 13, 2003

A recent comment on a science-fiction related blog inspired me to look up some fiction by Terry Bisson, an accomplished and underrated writer from New York. I'm currently enjoying his Pick-Up Artist as well as short story collection, Bears Discover Fire.

What's disturbing as I browsed through the list of his titles at Amazon was to notice how many of his quirky novels are already out of print. These are listed alongside the several novelizations and spinoffs of motion pictures and TV series that Bisson has also written (obviously to earn a living while he's writing his more original material). What does it tell you that the stuff based on movies and TV shows is still available alongside the ghosts of more worthy efforts—and does the poor guy wonder how many readers potentially interested in his original work will be driven away by the sight of the derivative Star Wars and X-Files stuff?

If you're looking for something new, along the lines of Robert P. Parker meets the Illustrated Man, check out Bisson's Pick-Up Artist.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Unintentionally Amusing Dept. Boston Globe Sunday Magazine piece on Ted Kennedy:

After 40 years in the US Senate, Edward M. Kennedy has transcended the family mythology and become his own man.

No kidding. The rest of the legendary family is dead. It's called Natural Selection, and it isn't kind to clans whose members don't rise above a certain level of intelligence. Being (barely) the survivor of a family known for males operating with less than the average set of marbles is hardly a major achievement.

Schindler's List is a great movie. But Thane Rosebaum makes a good case as to why Holocaust films have in general diminished the seriousness of the disaster and the subject overall.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

"...a unanimous 25-page ruling in the latest setback for the film industry's drive to prevent film copying."

Read more.
Certain "liberals" (like the Clintons) have some explaining to do. I confess, I (and Jonah Goldberg at NRO, for example) really believed that Republican support for civil rights was always luke-warm in the past and because of this Republicans had something to be ashamed about.

It's nice to get a wake-up call, as John Fonte shows in this piece (which should be read especially by all those pundits who made sneering insinuations that Trent Lott's closet racism is really the unspoken attitude of the entire GOP).
Charles Wiltgen on whether Apple should switch to Intel-based CPUs:

"The sad fact is that, no matter what’s announced at Macworld today, you can’t buy a Mac (at any price) that’s even half as fast as the fastest PC’s on the market. Dan Gillmor joins the chorus of folks urging Apple to switch to Intel-compatible CPUs before it’s too late, and wisely advocates starting with servers. His main concern is how Apple would bring developers with them.

"A much harder job would be to persuade—and assist—independent software developers to come along. Such a move would be extremely complex, and ultimately far more difficult than the one Apple pulled off years ago when it switched from Motorola’s 68000 series processors to the PowerPC.

"The problem isn’t going to be developer evangelism. Intel-based Macs will be an easy sell to developers and a relatively straightforward port (NeXTstep ran on Intel, Apple’s Darwin is currently available on Intel, and Apple has always built Mac OS X on Intel internally) for them, and I expect to see sessions like Making your application CPU-agnostic and Creating multi-platform packages at Apple’s next developers’ conference."

Monday, January 06, 2003

Is Helen Thomas just getting too old and grouchy to be a White House press correspondent? At the Corner, for your consideration....
Today's Captain's Log pretty much sums up how I feel about the most recent suicide attack by Palestinians:

A half a loaf is better than none at all, and it's time for the Palestinians to give up on trying to push Israel into the sea and accept that Israel isn't going to be destroyed. I don't give a damn whether the deal they accept is "just" by anyone's standards; when you're the underdog you take what you can get, and right now that's their situation. What they think they want isn't possible. What is possible (or, at least, what was possible before the Intifada) was a hell of a lot better than what they've got now.

And what I think is that they won't accept that until we've occupied Iraq and destabilized Syria and Saudi Arabia and there's been a revolution in Iran and Libya has read the writing on the wall and the EU finally admits that it's been financing terrorist attacks and stops giving the Palestinians money to use as they wish, and the Palestinians suddenly find that they have no friends left. Oh, and after Arafat dies or is killed or is forced into retirement, and a few other changes such as a forced cutoff of all financial support from the Arab nations. Until that happens, they will continue their useless struggle, killing and destroying to no one's benefit, with no principle to establish and no hope of prevailing.

Friday, January 03, 2003

Online writer sells novel. John Scalzi sold his second novel to TOR Books after editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden read most of it online.

Alex Beam take note!

Thursday, January 02, 2003

A new austerity in Silicon Valley start-ups, according to Fast Company.

Ha. Some of us have been operating in this fashion for a lot longer than these guys....