9.14.2002

Gimmie my Freedom! Now!


Shortly after signing into law the USA PATRIOT ACT, President Bush said “…one thing is for certain: These terrorists must be pursued; they must be defeated; and they must be brought to justice. And that is the purpose of this legislation.”

It might be the purpose, but is it the result? Perhaps, but the breadth of the legislation is unwarranted, the legislative equivalent of not allowing anyone to fly on an airplane in order that no one may hijack one. It solves the problem, but the solution is more problematic than was the initial problem.


Here's a short, primer article I've published on Ashcroft's post-9/11 legal wrangling.
Free Cannabis!

Maybe some candidate could heist this idea as a campaigning tactic?
Yes, They Really Are This Stupid

Some idiotic liberal has got it in his mind that people on the left (non-warbloggers) shouldn't go around fisking anyone. Rather, they should coulter them. The lefty says:

Afterthought: since Coulter's misrepresentations and outright lies certainly outnumber any of Robert Fisk's perceived sins by a factor of about a thousand to one, a suggestion to the blogosphere-- why not retire that tired and self-congratulatory "giving (blank) a Fisking" nonsense and replace it with more accurate nomenclature, i.e., giving someone a Coulter? As in, "Boy, he really got Coultered!"

I'm not sure where to start, so I'll start at the beginning. It's not called "fisking" because of any journalist sins of Robert Fisk. Although no one on the right would call Fisk a good journalist, he didn't warrent his own verb until he went to Afghanistan, got beaten bloody by the locals, and went on to commend their actions. It's the "beaten bloody" part of it that is conjured up by the word "to fisk," not the lack of journalistic talent.

With that in mind, what could it mean to be "coultered"? I think someone should stop playing Safire and get back to researching the possibility of being a human shield in Iraq.
Galt is Good

Megan McArdle is a wonder.
Kingdom of Fear (and Loathing!)

This interview makes me want to lie down and have a good cry. Hunter Thompson -- right up there with HL Mencken in my mind -- is calling for Bush to "quit".

I respect his desires -- he also wants Americans to get out and vote more -- but I hate how he expresses them. Quit? Of all the words Thompson could use, why must he pick "quit"? It shows how out of touch with reality most lefties are.

What does Thompson hope the accomplish? It appears, from the interview, that he wants to eliminate the absurdity in Bush's administration (I'm surprised he didn't call it a "regime"). Highlighting what he judges to be an overreaction to the Florida tip on terror, Thompson essentially accuses Bush of wanting to be King George. "They have a monarchial view of life, and they've created a kingdom of Fear...that's what Bush has created in this country," said Thompson, referring to Bush Sr. and Jr.

"I see a police state taking over the country," continued Thompson. Ick. I agree that Ashcroft and Co. have overstepped their constitutionally defined bounds, but a police state. It's a bit much.

This tendency in the left to go into auto-panic mode whenever Bush does something is increasingly distancing them from the normal public. Sure, McKinney can spew anti-American rhetoric all she wants, but just remember: it wasn't just cross-over voting that brought her down. I see the increasing number of Jews voting Republican as evidence of this. It's not just the Israel issue -- that's a symptom, not a cause. Most casual liberals, if it were put to nation-wide vote, would have a hard time pulling a lever in favor of Muslim terrorists and against Israeli democrats (small 'd' democrats). And yet, the leftist pundits and politicians are increasingly anti-Israel.

How would this confusion on the left -- resulting in their inability to coalesce into a unified opponent to the administration -- be resolved by Bush quitting? How would his quitting solve anything? Things wouldn't snap back to the way they were in the 90s; we'd just be all that most confused and, therefore, vulnerable. And, by the way, if Bush were to quit, Cheney would become president. Does Thompson think that would change things?

Rather than publishing -- with his brilliant prose -- moderating pieces designed to halt the partisanship of post-9/11 America, Thompson is publishing a book entitled "Kingdom of Fear."

Pardon me, I think I need that cry now.
Seventeen Meets Acadamia...and Yes, the Boys are Hot

So, Seventeen Magazine (you know, the one read by all the 12 and 13-year-old girls) ran a feature in their October issue about colleges. Okay, I figure, why not steal it from my sister to read? (what? you thought I would read it for anything on fashion?)

Overall, I'm fairly impressed with their spread. It's not highbrow, scholarly reporting -- about Stanford is says, " As for boys -- ever see the hunks snapped in the tabloids with Chelsea Clinton...?" -- but it's relatively informative. And yes, I just called something in 17 informative. I wouldn't base my decision off of the information provided here, but I would read it through. The editors give a list of the top 50 US colleges, providing a small blurb of casual information on each, that seamlessly mixes schools small and large, rural and urban, nerdy and jock, etc. 27, for example, is Smith College, which 28 is MIT.

Rather unsurprisingly, the editors focus on the social aspects of the school, saying about Sarah Lawrence that "being gay is no big deal," and provides the boy-girl ratio for nearly every school profiled. Somewhat surprisingly, in the point ranking, they deducted points from the all-girls schools for not having balanced gender ratios. Albeit, the editors explain this by saying "Boys are good," but still, it's a nice break from the agressively empowering message teenage magazines try to send (that is, between advertisment with size 2 models).

One gripe: The list of "Top 10 Political Active Campuses." A selection:
1) U of Michigan - Ann Arbor (only $5 fine for smoking pot in public!)
2) U of California - Berkeley (if stealing conservative student newspapers counts as politically active)
3) Mount Holyoke (all girl school)
4) New York University (I'm unsure why this one made it...it's notorious for having a pathetic sense of community)
...
10) Evergreen State College (a school without grades, that encouraging students to be "self-motivated")
Leaving a Papertrail

NZ Bear links to this presentation produced by the Blue Man Group in honor of 9/11. Watch it.

It really drives home this point on what really infuriated the terrorists.

9.13.2002

Radioactive Flooring

The FBI has a recently announced that the ship being detained off of the port at Elizabeth, NJ contains no harmful radioactive substances. Rather, the radioactivity was being emitted by ceramic tiles, some of which can contain trace amounts of radon.

Yes, the outcome is utterly absurd, but at least it shows that the system works.

9.12.2002

Obituaries can be truly fascinating sometimes. This one -- on Uzi Gal, inventor of the gun that bears his name -- is no exception. Read the obit, it's fascinating history. Only one small complaint (bear in mind that this is the New York Times):

He saw combat in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, to which he brought a homemade submachine gun. Afterward he went to officers training school. He went on to design the Uzi, which impressed army leaders.

The 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Hmm. The War Formerly Known As the "War of Independance."

9.11.2002

Oh, damn. I had this brilliant idea to post a poem, which I haven't seen too many bloggers doing, but Chad Dimpler, that evil knave beat me to it. Still going to post the poem though. Here are the last few stanzas from the poem In Memory of W. B. Yeats by W. H. Auden.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
Notes:

1) Becky, if she shows her head around here tonight, has an interesting story to share about one of her classes this afternoon. Damn those uber-liberal, New York, Upper West Side Jews.

2) I have a short article on civil liberties that I'll be posting shortly. The article I recently put up about UN anti-Israel bias shall soon be on an "official" site, once we coordinate a bit better with the webmaster.

3) And, as always, thank you for reading. You have no idea how much we value your feedback (even if just to say "You're horrible. I hate your writing.")
Our school had an interesting -- and succesful -- commoration of 9/11. It was just an optional assembly, held for about an hour (supposed to be shorter, but ran over), that was run like a Quaker meeting. The principal of the Upper Division used to teach at a Friends School (he's Jewish, though), and he had the brilliant idea: have a few hundred high school students sit in the gym for 45 minutes silently, standing up one at a time to speak "when the spirit moves them."

Yeah, we all laughed too.

But it worked! It was slow starting; no one wanted to break the silence with irreverent words, but it eventually got off the ground. There were the platitudes ("People are Good. The World is Good."), but there were also some shockingly moving remarks. One guy who's birthday was this morning gave a little speech about people invading his country, his state, his island, his day, and trying -- but failing -- to steal it for their needs. Brilliant. There were no microphones to speak into, so I couldn't hear everyone, but what I heard, I liked. One thing that didn't surprise me too much was that the students were often more insightful than the teachers and faculty who stood up to speak. The platitude quoted above was from one of the Deans, and the birthday boy is only a Junior.

There were a few tears -- including one senior who started crying as he recounted a visit to a firehouse where he saw a remembrance photograph of a firefighter with the same last name as his -- but by and large, the students were all calm. If we hadn't had the assembly, I wouldn't have realized that it was a special day. It was a gorgeous day out; the field was recently re-sodded; and the atmosphere was relatively bouncy.

I was going to submit an essay to A Perfect Morning, but I decided against it. I started writing on it the last days of my vacation, and it was going nowhere. Not wanting to repeat everyone else ("It was horrible! So many died! America was altered forever!") I found myself deleting and writing and deleting and writing. The media has saturated us with phrases and catchisms about the attacks, and I found it hard to break out of their mold. How does one think about these attacks originally? It is possible? It is necessary?

I don't mean Noam "Dissenting from the Bush Admin. is revolutionary" Chomsky original, I mean actually original, saying something that hasn't been pounded into our heads for the past year. On the surface -- the non-blogging, non-political surface -- there are two options: "Get 'em" or "It's our fault." At the Quaker assembly today, I saw this emphasized. I could tell who was going to fall which way and, largely, I was correct. Knowing the students allowed me to predict which rhetoric they were going to copy.

Copying the sentiments of others was not my intention on this day, and so I didn't write any drawn out essay. You all know what I'm feeling; you're probably feeling it yourself.
The Arab Newshas really surprised me today. Not only is thier front page contain a Letter from the Editor that essentially blames the Muslim world for not confronting its demons, but it ran reasonably decent 9/11 coverage (excluding the usual rants about how scary AIPAC is).

This article was especially interesting. It's about Muslim scientific culture, and is essentially the acknowledgment that not much is happening vis-a-vis science or mathematics in the Arab world. The concluding paragraph:

This certainly echoes the words of Dr. Abdus Salam, who was asked, "What happened to Islamic Science?" He replied "Nothing. Instead what we cultivated in Isfahan and Cordoba is now being cultivated in MIT, Caltech and at Imperial College, London. It’s just a geographical translation of place."

I wonder why. Perhaps the intellectual community -- not the Kurdish rebels, or the Iranian students -- will be our savior in the MidEast.

9.10.2002

Charles Johnson links to this story writen for the Financial Times by Walid el-Gabry. Read over his entry for some typically pithy remarks, but take a closer look at this paragraph: (bear in mind that this is in an article on how Israel is partially responsible for the US' violent anti-Muslim, and how the US overlooks Israel's terrorist connections)

I had been expecting a more historical analysis: Britain's 1917 Balfour Declaration;

Yes, the Declaration which said "His Majesty's Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people...it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine."

1930s German and British government collaboration with the Zionist movement;

Let me think. In 1933, the German government elected a lovely new leader who must be the one being "accused" of collaborating to help the Jews. Oh wait, I don't think Adolf Hitler ever did that.

...the ethnic cleansing of civilians...

Fine, he's admitting that there was a reason for the foundation of Israel. Wait...

...by terrorist bands such as Irgun, Unit 101, from whence Israeli leaders such as Begin and Ariel Sharon emerged;

Irgun, yes, was sort of a terrorist group, though it was by no means mainstream -- as Hamas is -- and was not embraced by the Jewish population as a means of achieving a new country. The marginalization of Irgun is not insignificant, especially when talking about the mentality of a culture as a whole, as is being done in this article. Irgun did not typify pre or post 1948 Israelis.

President Truman's unilateral recognition of Ben Gurion's 1948 declaration of statehood;

Allow me to introduce this thing called the "United Nations." You might be familiar with it, as you're trying to get them to do for you what they did for the Jews back in 1948. I doubt you'll attack the US President for "unilateral recognition" of your declaration of state.

the fact there are still Jewish Palestinians who have not taken Israeli citizenship.

Wow. I have never heard this before. Has anyone else?

9.08.2002

Speaking of the environmentalists, I just got to thinking about why Native Americans, who for years and years "lived off the land" by adapting it to their needs, don't get in trouble with PETA and all the other mor...I mean activists. They only seem to be at odds when the Native Americans want to build things. (Like, casinos for instance.)
I should never leave my desk. You keep pitching me softballs. Procrastination? Sorry to my faithful readers, but on my list of things to do, blogging comes after hard things like Calculus and Soccer. Plus, I have no time to write since I'm trying to finish Ann Coulter's book before I have to read Sylvia Plath for English class. (YAY Ann Coulter!!! Boo Sylvia Plath!) Plus, I try to fall asleep reading the Economist, which means I have to get into bed at 7:30 to fall asleep at 10. Not that I don't love the Economist, it's just that it takes a long time to read it.

My Thought of the Day:
"You can't always get what you want. No you can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need."-- Mick Jagger