Thursday, June 30, 2005

Ticktock

Equality is on the march. (Hat tip: Eric Muller).

Goodbye

Beloved Teaneck Rabbi Louis Sigel Dies at 81
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
By Brian Aberback, Staff Writer

TEANECK—George Sturm was searching for a synagogue for his family to join when he heard Rabbi Louis J. Sigel deliver a sermon at Temple Emeth in Teaneck.

Within minutes, Sturm knew his search was over.

“We heard him on the pulpit and it was extraordinary,” Sturm said, remembering the sermon from 37 years ago. “It was so informed and so beautifully communicated and structured and so non-doctrinaire.”

When Daniel Kirsch moved to North Jersey, he asked a rabbi from Rockland County, N.Y., for advice about choosing a temple. “You have to join Lou Sigel’s congregation,” Kirsch recalled the rabbi telling him. “He’s the best there is.”

Sturm and Kirsch were among countless congregants, family and friends who paid tribute on Monday to Sigel, who died Sunday at age 81.

Sigel was rabbi of Temple Emeth from 1960 to 1992, living in Teaneck during that time. He moved to Hackensack after retiring.

Those who knew Sigel spoke of his seemingly infinite knowledge of Jewish scripture, his passion for civil rights and his devotion to his congregation. He was also involved in the Reform Movement and served as president of a number of rabbinical organizations.

“He was the best thing since sliced bread,” said his daughter, Debbie Rutz. “He had an ability to touch both the young and the old. He really touched the community.”

Sigel’s influence was felt by children as well as adults. Kirsch said at least a half-dozen young congregants went on to become rabbis, including his daughter, Jennifer.

Sigel’s son-in-law, Ken Rutz, said he recently came across a binder filled with thank-you notes and pictures from hundreds of children. “He was down-to-earth,” Rutz said. “He could talk their language. He could make the complexities of life simple.”

Sigel was born in Derby, Conn. His father was an Orthodox rabbi. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Yale University and then enrolled in Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. He had moved from Orthodox to Reform Judaism when he was ordained in 1951.

In addition to his daughter and son-in-law, both of Teaneck, Sigel is survived by his wife of 51 years, Miriam, of Hackensack; another daughter and son-in-law, Judy and David Fox of Teaneck, and four grandchildren.

A service is scheduled for noon today at Temple Emeth, 1666 Windsor Road.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Link'd

My commemorative piece on John Paul II from April turned up on the website of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, which is helpful for anyone dying to re-read it now that the YDN website has left the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.

Why Condi Doesn't Heart Iran

Iranian lawmaker Shokrollah Attarzadeh gets to the bottom of things:
The reason that the US secretary of state attacks Iran is because she had her heart broken by a young man from Qazvin while they were students.
As unfortunate for global peace and stability as it would be if that theory were true, it would resolve a certain other mystery. Condi, as everyone knows, is both a powerful woman and has no publicly known record of romantic attachments to men. Either one of those facts is (obviously) sufficient proof that she's a lesbian, but both of them together; I mean, read between the goddamn lines. Well, until now. Take it from an obscure Iranian official who has no proof: Condi may not be the Republicans' favorite color, but at least she's not gay. Rice '08! (Link via take a f'n guess).

A Medium For (small-d) Democrats

This is why I love the blogosphere; earlier today I posted something at Hit & Run about the latest assault on freedom in Bloomberg's Big Apple (long story short, you won't be able to drink coffee on NYC subways anymore). Commenter E. Steven wrote:
How about a rule against territorial leg-spreading? You know, those guys who need to establish their testicular lebensraum by spreading their legs as widely apart as possible so that no man, woman or child will challenge their subway-bench supremacy!
Get that man a blog.

ANOTHER THOUGHT: Or at least give him a recurring role at (not)Delino. (That site could probably use a few more contributors, am I right? [Pop quiz: at what point will the number of Delino contributors exceed the number of non-contributors who get their jokes? I say 20--ed.] Or at the very least, let him develop his blogging arm at (not)Marquis Grissom. Or make him Dan's new assistant. Or something.

A FURTHER THOUGHT: I'm kidding, chill.

Staying Humble

Mickey Kaus catches a real whopper from everybody's hero Barack Obama:
"In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat - in all this, he reminded me not just of my own struggles ..."
Kaus writes:
Not just of his own struggles. ... Good to see Obama retaining his essential modesty. The danger for someone in his position is that he might let it go to his head!
There are lessons here on several levels about hero worship.

Block That Metaphor

Roger L. Simon---der Mann mit dem Hut, as he's known to his millions of German fans (easy, I'm just kidding)---has a compelling vision of what our nation's transformative foreign policy project consists of:
Call me whatever you want, but don't call me late for the (democracy) lunch. Put another way, in the words of Chairman Deng Tsaio Peng, "I don't care if a cat is black or white, only that it catches mice." (Yes, I've quoted this before, but it's a great quote.) The mouse we must catch is democracy.
Christ, where to begin. First democracy is lunch. Then it's prey. I have no idea what sort of meals are served at the Simon household, but I think it's more likely than not that Simon's conflation of what people eat and what cats eat is just coincidence. Still, the message is clear: As a nation, we must arrive on time to track and hunt down democracy (taking care not to be distracted by the bits of yarn, I guess, that are the critics of America's foreign policy), and then we must eat it. EAT DEMOCRACY. Or the terrorists win.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Birthday

FWIW, this blog is, as of today, one year old. Which is long enough that it's difficult to remember exactly what life was like for me before it. My first substantive post was this criticism of Fahrenheit 9/11.

Odd Couple

Santorum and PETA:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also finds him a friend. "He's a man with a heart, and he doesn't think it's any more acceptable to treat animals cruelly than humans," said Mary Beth Sweetland, director of research and investigations for the Norfolk, Va.-based PETA.

Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said those who think of animal rights as a liberal cause should not be surprised to find him in this camp. A father of six who has a 2-year-old German Shepherd named Schatzie, he said having pets makes for a healthier home.
Um, what, he has a German shepherd named "Schatzie"???

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bad News For Bush

Here's an argument I don't think even The Nation has made:
June 23, 2005--Forty-nine percent (49%) of Americans say that President Bush is more responsible for starting the War with Iraq than Saddam Hussein.
Have we reached a critical mass now, such that a domestic collapse in support for the war will necessitate an ignominious withdrawal? If these numbers are at all representative of actual public opinion, the answer is probably yes. The Bush administration certainly hasn't helped itself with its ridiculous lies about the insurgency being in its last throes. There are only two things the administration's apparatchiks are more loath to do than tell unadulterated truths: admitting error and subjecting themselves to public accountability. Even in the unlikely event that they reverse course and drop the propaganda routine, it may well be too late to make a difference.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Networking Pt. II

At Gold's today I ran into none other than Mike "the Miz" from the Real World X and many Real World/Road Rules challenges. Nice enough guy, but if you can tell anything about a man from his website....

Junior Lippman?

Odd things happen when you technorati your name. If Maureen is looking for correspondences, I must be the anti-Yglesias (that whole philosophy shtick), Jamie is presumably the new Douthat, Josh the new Confessore, and Dan the entire staff of the New Republic.

Cruise Loses His Shit

How does anybody go apeshit on Matt Lauer?
Cruise told Lauer he didn't know what he was talking about. "You don't know the history of psychiatry. I do," Cruise said.

The interview became more heated when Lauer, who said he knew people who had been helped by the attention-deficit disorder drug Ritalin, asked Cruise about the effects of the drug.

"Matt, Matt, you don't even -- you're glib," Cruise responded. "You don't even know what Ritalin is. If you start talking about chemical imbalance, you have to evaluate and read the research papers on how they came up with these theories, Matt, OK. That's what I've done."

When asked if he could be with someone at this stage in his life who doesn't have an interest in the Church of Scientology -- girlfriend Katie Holmes has said she's embracing the religion -- Cruise told Lauer: "Scientology is something that you don't understand. It's like you could be a Christian and be a Scientologist."

"It is a religion. Because it's dealing with the spirit. You as a spiritual being. It gives you tools you can use to apply to your life."
The answer.

Friday Angry Link

Some people need to drop dead, but quick.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Fascism

Wow.

Eloquence

Any thoughts on why Cornerites do these sorts of things? They obviously have a staff e-mail list of some kind [but maybe that kind of posting on their list would be considered an inbox-clogging netiquette violation--F]. WTF?

Squared Circle

From Nick Gillespie's Neofiles interview:
I said in my earlier response that I'm interested in using libertarian as an adjective as much as a noun. I'm happy to recognize common tendencies and impulses in people even if I don't share all or even any of their political beliefs. And I should point out that some socialists were socialists at least in part because they thought it would give rise to a less-onerous state that enforced mass conformity. That was the thinking of the people who founded Dissent in the 1950s; they were socialists but also individualists railing against big government and big business as stultifying (and they were anti-Soviet, which was no small achievement for leftists of that period). I disagree with them — I think the logic of socialism inevitably leads to conformity, to the grey culture of the Soviet Union — but at least we share certain goals, including the creation of a world where individuals have many options and possibilities in self-development.

Locate The Disgrace

Another round of Instapundit bed-shitting. Here's what Richard Daley said re: the Dick Durbin kerfuffle:
"I think it's a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the military act like that," Daley said.
Glenn Reynolds adds, substantively:
Good point.
A good point despite the bad grammar, I suppose. All Durbin did was quote the eyewitness account of an FBI operative of bestial treatment of prisoners---and then asked his colleagues which regime would first spring to mind as countenancing such horrors.

Look how far we've come: the apologists denied that torture had occurred and continues to occur; when that position became untenable, they denied that it was widespread; when that position became untenable, they denied that it was systematic; when that position became untenable, they excused conduct just as long as it wasn't as bad as Saddam Hussein's; when that position became untenable, they excused conduct just as long as it was different from Saddam Hussein's; now that that position has become untenable, they're actually celebrating the abuse. (Don't believe me? Think I'm exaggerating?) And all the while, they accuse those of us, for and against the Iraq war, who've been on the side of decency in detention policy all along---those of us who have, so to speak, maintained a consistent moral position and eschewed relativism---of everything from defeatism to pacificism to anti-Americanism to constituting a fifth column.

We need a better term for the apologists than "apologists." There's something deeper at work. Their ideology is a kind of meta-nationalism that reaches back to the James Burnham camp in the early Cold War, which thought that the US had to adopt some of the devices of totalitarianism to have a chance to beat the Soviets.

Apropos of whom, Glenn Reynolds would have made an ideal citizen of the USSR.

BTW: I posted a thingie about Durbin at Hit & Run, and the comments thread is fairly interesting (and still growing).

UPDATE: Here's what Daley actually said (and the grammar checks out):
It’s a disgrace — and [Durbin] is a good friend of mine — but I think it’s a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the military acts like [Nazis] or that a report is like that...You go and talk to some victims of the Holocaust and they will tell you horror stories, and there are not horror stories like that in Guantanamo Bay [emphasis mine].
Got that? It's a disgrace to say "that a report is like that"; i.e. it's a disgrace to say that the FBI report says what it says.

Daley: I'll never be the asshole my old man was, but I'll still be the biggest asshole I can be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Nice While It Lasted

I'm going to miss that ole First Amendment when it's gone. Incidentally, what the Duke said might be foul, but at least it will get people to pay less attention to his ongoing graft scandal.

If I Can Make It There...

Never contrived to get my name in the Independent Gay Forum blog, but my argument in Dissent, after all, is for a libertarianism that puts gay rights front and center. (TY to Jamie Kirchick, incidentally.) I find it interesting that at least some of the commenters there seem to be assuming that I'd have to be gay to make such an argument; a lot of my point is that that's not true.

Where My Thought's Escapin'

Matt Welch might be arguing for a more collaborative relationship with a certain non-Slavic country in the Balkans, but what he proves is that my ancestral homeland is cooler than yers.

Have Some Self-Respect

This is just embarrassing. The problem with Fox is not that it's conservative (though their incessant lies on that subject are corollary to the problem). What's wrong is that Fox is a propaganda mill for the Republican Party. Susan Estrich's recourse to the Hannity interview of Dick Cheney is unintentionally hilarious. As Andrew Sullivan suggested, try to guess which of the following statements in that interview were made by Cheney and which by Hannity (I don't know all the answers myself):
a) "The world's much better off and much safer today because Saddam Hussein's in prison, will soon go on trial in Iraq, and the 25 million people in Iraq, as well as in Afghanistan, have been liberated. Those are all major achievements."

b) "We just had elections in Iraq. The security forces are growing in Iraq. There's still an insurgency, but there's a lot of progress."

c): "We've got millions of people here illegally... It adds significant cost to local communities who have to provide educational services or health services."

d) "People express their concern about the vulnerability and susceptibility of our borders."

e) "The Koran had not been flushed down the toilet, and the — Newsweek had to withdraw its comment. It's important that they be careful and exercise a sense of responsibility here, because lives are at stake."

d) "When Newsweek puts out reports that the Koran was flushed down the toilet, and then later they have to retract a story like that. The impact it has on people worldwide and those people that are looking for reasons to hate the United States or justify, perhaps, actions against our troops."

f) "Two hundred and fourteen years, we've never had a judge that would have otherwise been approved by the Senate filibustered."

g) "We need to restore the traditional practice of the last 214 years."
I don't doubt Estrich's sincere belief that Fox did offer her a better deal than NBC, and I don't in any way question her right to get paid as much as she can for whatever she'd like to do; however, as many wise people have noted, one's choice of comrades matters, and there just isn't a way for a liberal (or anyone else) to defend the journalistic and intellectual integrity of a Hannity while preserving one's own.

Time To Sue

I am lactose intolerant; that probably means it's time for legal action; at least that's what these people told me (via Matt Yglesias via Justin Logan).

Making It

Everyone's favorite person Nate Meyvis won a seat at the World Series of Poker Main Event. He's blogging it here.

Lookie

Will Wilkinson---responding to a Eugene Volokh vamp on the standard bebop head "aren't scientists who claim evolution without God is the process by which biological speciation occurred merely asserting their own faith without proof?"---makes a specific statement of the best general case against being a theist. And that is: there is no neutral position midway between equally faith-based beliefs in God and beliefs in scientific naturalism. Will, invoking Quine (who was really just restating Occam's Razor), notes that:
The best explanatory theory of the emergence of life and the development of biological variety is the theory of evolution by natural selection. The statement of this theory does not require us to quantify over, or commit to, any supernatural properties. That "God had no part in the process" is straightforwardly implied by the fact that the theory does not mention God or God-properties. The "proof" that God is no part of the process is simply the statement of the theory, and the fact that the theory is the best, whatever our criteria for "best" are. You can tell that something has no part in the process by checking the list of things one is ontologically committed to by dint of accepting the theory. If it isn't on the list, it plays no part.
In other words, in the construction of an ontological theory, there aren't three positions 1, 0, and -1 on the existence of any x such that it's proper to believe 0(x) until evidence comes in. There are only two positions, 1 and 0, and one doesn't add x to the list of things in whose existence one believes without x being an irreducible component of the explanatory theory of one's observed phenomena. If, as the saying goes, God "does no work" in any of the (biological, chemical, physical) theories by which we explain the universe, God doesn't make it into our ontology. That's not an assertion of faith, it's an assertion of scientific skepticism. And Will's right: the Volokhian take is a way of flirting with Meinong's realms of existence and schmexistence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

That's How God Made You

The Sophoclean heroes of our age, if we have any, are those folks (some of them, at least) who struggle mightily against their own sexual orientations, despite the certain knowledge of the unblind Tireasiases around them that they will have no final victory or overcoming. Witness the high art of a woman fighting with all the force of her spirit against her own heterosexuality. If coming out is difficult, coming out twice must be unbearable. As Churchill noted, anyone can rat, but it's the re-ratters who are special. (Link via Yuck.)

Monday, June 20, 2005

Erratum

A little while ago I summarized the impact of the Raich decision as:
[T]he federal government has the power to overturn state medical marijuana laws under the Interstate Commerce Clause[.]
That's not exactly right. California's medical marijuana law remains in effect; medical cannabis dispensaries are still legal (in fact there's about six of them in a one-mile stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood) and patients are allowed to obtain cannabis with a doctor's permission. What Raich achieves is to put medical marijuana suppliers (i.e., growers) in a very precarious legal position, so that legitimate dispensaries might be left with nothing to dispense.

Here's the interesting bit; though federal agents are empowered to raid the property of marijuana growers, California law enforcement is obligated to uphold state, not federal law. I've heard a credible anecdote about a proposed raid jointly conducted by feds and a local sheriff's office that ended when the sheriff told the feds that they had entered his jurisdiction, that the occupants of the premises were legit, and that they (the feds) could go no further. Come the revolution!

impressionism

writing from paris. ive tried to post a few interesting things about the monstrosity of the kidnapping of a sixteen year old girl from queens, the outer borough of all my hopes and fears, but have been having linkage issues over here.

so parisians basically dont like americans but arent very engaged either. well, thats the report from the field. here's my impression of george w bush:

i just want an up-or-down vote
he deserves an up-or-down vote
i just want an up-or-down vote
he deserves an up-or-down vote
i just want an up-or-down vote
he deserves an up-or-down vote
i just want an up-or-down vote
he deserves an up-or-down vote
i just want an up-or-down vote
he deserves an up-or-down vote
up or down up or down up or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or downup or down

that shit is so lame

No Right To Die

The Lord of the Schiavos continues to spawn spin-offs. Now Jeb Bush is attacking the NYT for its "grotesque and chilling disrespect for the sanctity of life." Let no one call Bush heartless; he is in fact immune to reality:
Terri Schiavo was a deeply loved daughter, wife, sister and friend. The fact that her brain was atrophied or that she was blind or could not have been rehabilitated doesn't change that fact.

While many medical professionals said she was in a persistent vegetative state, still other highly respected neurologists said there was a chance that she was not.

In cases where patients do not have an expressed written directive regarding end-of-life decisions and where the patient's guardian has a conflict of interest, it only makes sense to err on the side of life....Despite claims of cynicism and being "agenda-driven," we will continue to strive to protect our most vulnerable citizens. All innocent human life is precious, and government has a duty to protect the weak, the disabled and the vulnerable.
Slow down, guv. Surely the autopsy results are significant of something. That her brain was atrophied, that she was blind, and that she could never have recovered: that does not, indeed, change the fact that she was loved as a "daughter, wife, sister, and friend" (though now that you acknowledge her husband's love for her, you might find it in good taste to cease investigating him for domestic abuse).

I'm not sure, however, that anyone is alleging that our certainty that Terri Schiavo died in 1990 (cf. Terri Schiavo vs. "Terri Schiavo") improving from 99.8 to 100 percent has any bearing on the feelings of her friends and family for her. Nor indeed, is anyone suggesting that the metaphysical thisness of Jeb Bush is altered by the autopsy results; to be Jeb Bush is now and forever to be chock full of eight different kinds of shit. But there is an epistemic fact that has changed. Prior to the autopsy, the obfuscations of the Terri Troupe cast a haze over the whole affair: as somebody on the Daily Show said recently, was she in a persistent vegetative state or was she one pilates class away from joining Riverdance---ya just didn't know. Now, however, the fact that Bush & co. are repulsive lying cynics is plain for all to see.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Dona Eis Requiem

It does look as if there's no further reason to wonder about Terri Schiavo's ultimate condition:
[Her] brain weighed 615 grams, roughly half of the expected weight of a human brain...This damage was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons.
Turns out that the video tape of Terri Schiavo apparently responding to visual stimuli---what Bill Frist used to make his tele-diagnosis---was misleading as well, since the "vision centers of her brain were dead."

Now, it's probably too much to ask for that this be the end of the Cult of St. Terri the Martyr---as Julian Sanchez pointed out, "for the true believers, this is doubtless just further evidence of how elaborate and sinister is the anti-life conspiracy to hide the 'truth.'"

But the fact that the (credible) doctors were completely right about everything should at least shift the terms of the debate. There's no further case to be made about "erring on the side of life" or "giving life the benefit of the doubt," etc. The question now is, do people in states of extreme and irreversible brain damage have a right to die?

Unfortunately, we don't get to have a substantive debate over the right to die, at least not yet. Because Jeb Bush would prefer to investigate Michael Schiavo's role in Terri's collapse.

To be perfectly serious for a moment, I can't think of any comparable example in recent American history of a citizen made to suffer such malicious smears purely in order to determine the winner among the Republican caucus of a Focus on the Family cock-measuring contest. On a related note, I'm not getting Fox News anymore, so I didn't get a chance to see Sean Hannity planting his face in a fecal buffet after the Terri Schiavo autopsy results. Anybody who witnessed it: how'd that go? (HANNITY & colmes didn't just ignore it, did they?)

ALSO: TYVM to Julian Sanchez for the nice link, and also for spelling the name of this blog without an apostrophe.

Pretty Boys

Since I pointed this out once upon a time, I'd be remiss not to spare a link for the latest Yale Rugby man to be selected as a Teen People pin-up (Singapore edition though, this time). The quote from Sarah Hughes is pretty damn priceless.

Like Lazarus...

...this blog will rise again. Just getting over relocation issues.

Movie Stars On The Juice

Dave Cullen, who watched Christian Bale make some fairly ludicrous claims on the Charlie Rose show about his weight gain for his role as Batman, raises a point that tends to get overlooked in the midst of our national hysteria over steroids:
We hear these virtual admissions of steroid use from actors prepping for roles all the time. How come no one ever calls them on the obvious? Or even raises the question?
(Link via Andrew Sullivan). The answer, I think, is that most of the outrage and/or posturing over steroid use in sports has to do with nostalgia for a purity that never was, and there's no comparable reserve of sentiment to generate an anti-steroid campaign directed at actors.

Still, many if not all of the arguments for prohibiting steroid use by athletes apply to actors as well. "It's not fair to competitors who don't use the stuff" -- And how are non-using actors supposed to compete for action roles with their beefier enhanced colleagues? "Think of the children" -- Well, if a kid who aspires to be a movie star thinks having a certain kind of physique will open up roles to him, doesn't he then have an incentive to use? "Athletes are supposed to be role models" -- Movie stars aren't?

(X-posted at Hit & Run; sue me.)

Friday, June 17, 2005

Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition

PETA employees charged with animal cruelty.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

June 16, 1904

Celebrate Bloomsday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Bad News Follows Cruise

Looks like Tom is impressing Katie into his cult (via HuffPo).

Networking

It might not be a surprise to some of you that the second or third thing I did in California was to join Gold's Gym in Venice. Gold's advertises itself as "The Mecca of Bodybuilding," and they just might be right. Anyway, here's my best effort at reconstructing a conversation I had there yesterday with a professional bodybuilder (this really happened, btw):

PB: Excuse me, are you Jewish?
Me: Uh, yeah, I am.
PB: You know that [pointing at the Star of David tattooed on my arm] is sacrilegious...
Me: Um, yes, well, heh, um...
PB: I have a Jewish cousin, so I know about that.
Me: Oh, okay.
PB: My name's Will, by the way [actually, the surprising thing is that I couldn't recognize him immediately].
Me: I'm Dan, nice to meet you [we shake hands].
PB: So, where you from Dan?
Me: New Jersey.
PB: Ah, Jersey boy.
Me: Yeah, I came out here to work for the summer.
PB: So you're here for what, 8, 9...
Me: 10 weeks.
PB: Oh, okay. And you're going to school back home?
Me: Uh-huh.
PB: Whereabouts?
Me: Oh, in Connecticut.
PB: Okay, Connecticut U.?
Me: Uh, actually, Yale.
PB: Ah, hah, I see. Forgive me, I thought you might have been a H-a-h-v-a-h-d man.
Me: Hehehehe.
PB: So what are you doing out here...I mean, your work?
Me: Working for a magazine.
PB: Which one?
Me: Have you heard of Reason? [I'm actually able to speak in italics--ed.]
PB: No, I don't think so.
Me: Well it's a political magazine based in LA.
PB: Hell, we need more of those. I'm a professional bodybuilder by the way.
Me: Heh, I can tell.
PB: So, don't let me keep you, but if you have any questions [gestures to indicate he means questions about anything to do with the gym], let me know.
Me: Alright, sure will. Good to meet you, Will [slap him on the back].
PB: Good to meet you [slaps me back].

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Hit And Ran

Let me know what you think of this.

At Least Plagiarize Well

Eric Muller points to a fascinating story about an apparent act of plagiarism on the part of Brian LeBeau, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. LeBeau seems to have passed off as his own a 1993 speech by Cornel West. For example, West said:
But, I say to you, one must have a tragic sense of history. Hegel said, History is a slaughterhouse because of the blood, sweat and tears. Gibbon said, It's a series of human crimes and follies and misfortunes. And we know, yes, history is inextricably interwoven with scars and bruises and wounds and hurts and heartache and sorrow and grief, but it's more than that. We ought not to confuse the tragic with the pathetic. The tragic is about the exploration of human possibilities for freedom. That's what Sophocles' Antigone is about. That's what Shakespeare's King Lear is about. That's what Toni Morrison's Beloved is about: the exploration of the human possibilities of freedom, but hitting up against limits sooner or later.
Whereas LeBeau said:
As much as I believe that the only way for a democracy to survive in a to have a deep and abiding sense of history, I believe that it is essential to have a realistic, if not somewhat tragic, sense of history, if it motivates and causes us to act. Hegel was correct when he said, “History is a slaughterhouse of blood, sweat and tears.” Gibbon was right when he wrote: “History is a series of human crimes and follies and misfortunes.” History is inextricably interwoven with scars and bruises, wounds and hurts, heartache and sorrow. But it is more than that. We must not confuse tragic with the pathetic. The tragic is about the exploration of human possibilities for freedom. That is what Sophocles’ Antigone is about. That is what Shakespeare’s King Lear in about. And that is what Tony Morrison’s Beloved is about. It is about the exploration of the human possibilities of freedom, hitting up against its limits, but then realizing that it is in our response to those limits that lies our destiny.
As is often the case with plagiarism, it's the small and likely deliberate departures that give the game away. Nothing wrong with borrowing a line from Hegel that somebody else borrowed 10 years earlier. Plenty wrong with picayune variance from the clarifying remarks the original speaker surrounded that quote with. And here's the kicker: West's speech was at least in part a reflection on his experience as an African-American in academia; LeBeau is not an African-American, so, as Sally Greene puts it:
West's speech comes from a position of authority as a black American intellectual. This is a position LeBeau, who is white, cannot claim, nor does he attempt to. Rather, he drains the color out of West's speech so that, in the end, it is not so much an appropriation--though it is that--as a misappropriation, a watering down and a flattening out of a message that had its own particular power and edge.
A pretty shameful thing to do. Incidentally, Sally caught the whole thing by googling that line from Hegel. Blogosphere 1, MSM 0, right?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Michael Jackson...

...not guilty on all counts.

There You Go

My piece in the Spring 2005 issue of Dissent.

Hang On

Sorry about the decline in productivity; my internet access for the time being is limited to when I'm in the office, and so far, that hasn't included much time for personal blogging. Of note: I was at the LA Press Club awards dinner on Saturday night, the highlight of which might have been seeing Antonio Villaraigosa in person, but instead it was locking my keys inside my car with the motor running. Tim Cavanaugh won the prize for best online column/criticism/commentary, and since Tim wasn't there, Matt Welch insisted that I accept his plaque, so there's a photo of me as Tim Cavanaugh somewhere among the LA Press Club files.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Following the Simulation

I have been massively negligent in not posting for a long while now, somewhat busy and somewhat silenced by the stream of media and governmental (they are the same) iconography. I am afraid my posting may remain spotty for the next six weeks as I am off to Europe and am unsure of the conditions of internet cafes as the great socialist experiment (who knew?) of Western Europe collapses and the Islamists who have taken power in the Latin quarter burn all the sparkling globe-flattening technology the christological free market delivered. But I just wanted to pop in and point to an excellent Frank Rich column. Frank Rich, although somewhat decadent, has shown a remarkable ideological staying power in nailing it to the fascists. His point here, about the revelation of "Deep Throat"'s identity and the media coverage which essentially constituted the covering-over of the Nixon Administration's wild crimes, and a certain similtude between that administration's arrogance and information-control and this one's, doesn't even go far enough. The fact remains that not only is Watergate being covered up AGAIN, for a second time, and not only is the present administration taking steps to end the possibility of a "Woodward" or a "Bernstein" (I am unconvinced of the reality of these metonymic figures) occuring again, but Watergate, or similar scandals, are taking place ALL THE TIME. Given the poverty of actual information the public has of the labyrinthine machinations induced by our government, and given that the great deal of information we are allowed to possess in all its incriminating detail is startling, we must assume that scandal is perpetual, ongoing, and that criminality is the defining feature of those who decide what is and is not a crime. Jean Baudrillard, the batty French critic who may be the greatest observer of American politics since De Tocqueville, called the Watergate "scandal" an alibi. He argued in Simulations and Simulacra that Watergate was allowed to happen as a sort of blood-letting, and that the revelation of a single scandal within our government is necessarily formulated to distract us from the fact that scandal is not the exception, the drama of an "All the President's Men," but rather the reality on the ground, the happy cost of doing business. Indeed, when you realize that Mark Felt was the fellating and trans-gendered figure of revelation, a career FBI agent and a statist acting in order to conserve a certain power structure, you see that Watergates ever so often must be revealed, if only for a moment, a three or five year window, in order to convince us of their theatricality, in order to be televised, to make the scandal a fiction. But the scandal is the real, and the fact that there has not been "another Watergate" is simply evidence of how deep the American public and its duplicitous media guardians have fallen into an epistemological and ethical abyss.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Out Of LAX

I got out here yesterday. Interesting night: went with Matt Welch to a lit-something or other party for the LA Weekly, met David Ehrenstein (who knows more old Hollywood trivia than anyone should be allowed to), then headed to a cool Mexican joint off Sunset Blvd. for dinner with Cathy Seipp, Ben Sullivan, Matt's wife Emmanuelle, and Cathy Seipp's daughter Maya, who would make an ideal member of Yale's Party of the Right. At the moment, I'm waiting for Enterprise to show up with my rentalmobile. Planning on meeting up with the Actual Mahbod later today. Will start blogging at Hit & Run soon. And start using complete sentences again.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Freedom Fighters

I don't have much to say about yesterday's Supreme Court assault on federalism/indiviudal liberty/autonomy for terminal patients that hasn't already been said (or cited) at Hit & Run, but I will add that this sort of jurisprudence, which is particularly maddening from justices like Kennedy and Stevens who allegedly have some respect for libertarian freedom, makes me sympathetic to Constitutional originalism. For those who haven't looked at the decision in depth, the Supremes essentially ruled that the federal government has the power to overturn state medical marijuana laws under the Interstate Commerce Clause even if there isn't the slightest reason to believe that the marijuana in question has or will be moved interstate, or even used commercially at all. What part of "interstate" is so fucking difficult to understand?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Not Far Enough

Volokh conspirator Orin Kerr says what needs to be said even though it's obvious:
I am often amazed at how brazen the MSM can be in selecting what types of missing persons reports it selects as leading stories, especially on websites and TV. The missing person is almost always young; always a woman; always white; and always attractive...Still, a person who followed the MSM uncritically might think that the only missing people in America are young attractive white women.
But he also issues this disclaimer:
I can't stress enough that I am not saying this story isn't newsworthy. Every missing persons report is potentially newsworthy [emphasis mine].
Give me a fucking break. Not every missing persons report is even potentially newsworthy. Apropos of which, that runaway bride is facing up to five years in prison, for, um, felony lying, and even more seriously, 25 to life for felony* creating false hopes in the infotainment media that there would be another dead white woman on whom to do blanket round the clock reportage with live updates from the scene of the crime, the trial of her murderer/ex-fiancee, and with any luck, his term on death row and eventual execution.

I know that people get lazy during the summer, but fuck, with the Michael Jackson acquittal almost finished, some rich weirdo better step up to the plate and stab a transsexual or molest an adolescent horse or else there might be nothing but new disclosures about the US gov't's secret system of detention, rendition, and torture in the War For Freedom, and we can't have that, can we, because (as experts note) freedom of the press will only survive if the media act as sufficiently pliant and willing valets-de-pouvoir.



*but only in the second degree, since prosecutors agree it wasn't premeditated, and she will therefore be eligible for parole if convicted**


**she will be convicted

Sorry About The Mess

I don't have any idea what that ugly blue bar is doing at the top of the page either. Googleads appears to have melted.

Speaking of melting, it turns out that the YDN website is under construction for the summer and will be intermittently functional. Which brings me to a bleg: does anyone know of any sort of backroute that could allow me to have stable links to YDN articles (maybe some sort of caching deal)?

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Self-Hating Jew

I can't bring myself to care about Nixon-era internicine Republican grudges on the first Saturday in June, but Ben Stein appears to have lost his shit:
And it gets worse: it's been reported that Mark Felt is at least part Jewish. The reason this is worse is that at the same time that Mark Felt was betraying Richard Nixon, Nixon was saving Eretz Israel. It is a terrifying chapter in betrayal and ingratitude. If he even knows what shame is, I wonder if he felt a moment's shame as he tortured the man who brought security and salvation to the land of so many of his and my fellow Jews. Somehow, as I look at his demented face, I doubt it.
Stein himself either doesn't know what shame is or doesn't know what's on, e.g., the Nixon tapes (my guess is the former). What does he think of his hero conferring in private with Billy Graham about the poisonous Jewish influence in society? Or his paranoia about how all the Jews "except Henry, of course" were out to get him? It's too bad Stein wasn't in the West Wing at the time of Nixon's epiphanies, so that he and Kissinger together could have gotten down on their Jewish knees and prayed for the welfare of that psychopathic anti-Semitic peasant. (Link via Andrew Sullivan.)

Sectarian Military

The head of the Air Force Academy concedes that "religious intolerance permeates the military school," i.e. evangelical thugs are making life difficult for the other cadets. I blame Newsweek. (Link via Huff'n'puff.)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Are We European Jews Better Than The Rest Of You?

Maybe.

Kierkegaard The Poet

Henry Carrigan reviews an English translation of a recent and slightly revisionist Kierkegaard biography, based on newly released personal journals and other materials (via A&L Daily).

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Not A Gulag

The United States' system of secret prisons and rendition processes do not constitute a gulag. Linsay Beyerstein explains why.

At Blockbuster

Last night: took out Deconstructing Harry, Young Frankenstein, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. When the clerk saw the last title, he started reciting lines like, "Yo Adrian," and "Rocky! Rocky!" (I'm not making that up). I also noticed that the cover of Love Actually states that it is the "Ultimate Romantic Comedy," so, if anyone was wondering what the ultimate romantic comedy is, there you go.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Christians Are Oppressed...

...in more ways than anyone imagined.

A Blog For Compulsive Gamblers

...in case this might be of interest.

Principle Of Non-Contradiction

Intercollegiate Studies Institute, which shares an acronym with Pakistan's secret police, has its own best-of and worst-of books lists. There's plenty wrong with them, but they're not as bad as the Human Events abortion, which Evan notes in the comments is set up as a profit vehicle for the magazine, apropos of which, Julian Sanchez wonders what their margin is on sales of Mein Kampf.

However, the ISI lists have one stunning detail: The Autobiography of Malcom X makes both lists! Here's the caption on the worst-of list:
"By any means necessary"? No, violence was not, and is not, the answer.
Whereas on the best-of list:
The spiritual journey of a sensitive and intelligent man who had to wrestle with his own demons and contradictions while battling the condescension of paternalist liberals and the enervating effects of the welfare state on his people.
The empathy for one who had to wrestle with internal contradictions is well-placed.

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