Friday, December 27, 2002
"His failure as a person and hence as a political leader was, as Shelby Steele so eloquently explained it in an article whose insights go far beyond race, the failure of imagination and identification—the failure to partake of the bourgeois sympathy that underlies classical liberalism and the free societies it has created.
That explains also why Lott's vision of public service is so limited; he justifies himself by helping the home folks with goodies from Washington, not making good rules that allow everyone, Mississippian or not, to create a better life. All Americans aren't created equal in this vision. Some count for more than others; the only question is which ones.
I was stuck by the divide between the parochial and the principled when reading this TNR piece on how Mary Landrieu won her Senate race. She told Louisianans she'd serve their parochial interests with sugar protectionism, never mind the good of the country as a whole. She gave voters the old southern pol's promise: to use government to help her tribe against outsiders.
That promise is what connects the segregationist politics of the past with the pork-and-protection policies of the present. Hence the transformation of Strom Thurmond from a segregationist to someone who got federal dollars for black colleges in South Carolina. In neither case is government to be a neutral arbiter between equal citizens. The difference is merely who counts as an insider worthy of privilege."
Now, I'd generally hold that politicians have a special responsibility to the people who elected them, and a general responsibility to everyone else in the polity. The failure to adhere to that standard is, as Postrel argues, one of the failings of a great many politicians, in the US and elsewhere. But what responsibility does a politician have to people outside the polity? What was Lott's responsibility towards Mexicans, Canadians or Lebanese?
A glib answer is that there is no responsibility to consider the impact of policy, except as it impacts within the state. Most would consider that to be wrong. But again, it seems implausible that a politician has an equal responsibility to everyone, globally (though some might argue for this position).
I won't/can't draw a conclusion. But I'd suggest that some of those who so dislike the policies of the US or of the West generally may do so because they think that "the bourgeois sympathy that underlies classical liberalism and the free societies it has created" is a completely general thing. Their failing is to note that even within a country, that sensibility is partially restrained - a politician represents their constituency (in many countries), and should not sacrifice their interests purely for those of another grouping. The larger question is one to mull over.
Presumably, they're against gay marriage as well. Because sure as eggs is eggs, gay adulterers must go down badly...
Via Tim Blair. Note that I've no idea whether this guy is mainstream in muslim communities in South Africa (though given the vigilante groups a few years ago, he might be). But he's certainly prolific, and if you go hunting through his replies, very disturbing. And if people keep asking questions, they must view him as a reasonable source of advice. So - don't generalise kids.
Thursday, December 26, 2002
Well, the New York Times, in a colourful background piece on The Gangs of New York, revealled that this was part of a long tradition of hassling medics:
"Between 1788 and 1870 there were numerous riots, many of them with a morbidly comic tinge to them, as their names imply — the Doctors Riot, the Flour Riot, the Actors Riot, the Orange Riots. These disturbances broke out at the drop of a hat, often sparked by something as minor as a misunderstanding. (The Doctors Riot started because of a rumor that medical students were secretly dissecting the corpses of the poor and ended with a mob ransacking the house of someone named Sir John, whose name was mistaken for Surgeon.)"
Unfortunately, there are rumours that the final cut of the movie is too short - at less than three hours, it can scarcely be considered "epic" by current standards. Worse yet is the rumour that Scorsese has sworn never to release a director's cut. However, it still sounds like fun.
Welcome to the blog-roll, Scrappleface.
"Recipe for Nigella's success: Hold ingredients at chest level. Have camera zoom in. Repeat."
Sometimes she eats things languidly. Leave off her - at least she's not Jamie Oliver, and you ought to apply a little common sense in cooking, not head out into the great wide world of TV chef recipe books before you can bake a cake.
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Ebay is selling a big chunk of a Gold Rush California town. Slightly used. Bid now.
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Apparently “It’s going to make ‘The Fast and the Furious’ look like ‘The Slow and the Dimwitted’.” Good thing I avoided The Fast and the Furious, huh?
Five months and counting....
Monday, December 23, 2002
Basically, it’s an exegesis of the DOOMSDAY ARGUMENT: “We should tend to distruct any theory which made us into very exceptionally early humans”
What this means is that if we order all human births, from the beginning to the end of the life of the species, then we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be in, say, the first 0.001% of all humans to ever live. But, if you run back the film, the number of humans who’ve lived so far is pretty low, if population levels are maintained. So, either we’re atypical (you’d expect your chance of being “you” to be quite low – you’d be much more likely to be born some time in the far future) or we might suspect that human beings don’t have an indefinite future ahead of them.
It isn’t meant to be a knock-down argument. It’s not one I felt a great deal of sympathy for when I read the book. All it sets to show is that if you’re claiming that the human race will tick on until a hundred trillion people have lived (say), that makes you a rather exceptional human being in one regard, and that ought to make us suspicious of our future.
This can be cast into a more easily understood form: if you imagine there are a thousand intelligent species in the galaxy, is it likely that humans are amongst the youngest of them (the lack of radio signals might suggest not anyway)? The answer’s surely no. But if species have a long life, and we’ve got to be amongst the youngest. Therefore, shouldn’t you suspect that intelligent species are in the habit of dying out?
Apologies for the poor presentation, and Merry Christmas…
Pontifex Ex Machina has put out a wonderfully incestuous blog version of “A Christmas Carol”. Instantman plays Scrooge. Best bits from part one:
”Reynolds kept the door to his office open so that he could keep an eye on his poor clerk, N.Z. Bear, and make sure that he was firmly at the grindstone, pumping out satire and thinkpieces, regardless of the chill that was filling up the office.
He was not watching through the door at that very moment, and thus missed his cousin, Josh Claybourn, coming through the door.
“Merry Christmas, Uncle!” Josh exclaimed as he came into the room. “I’ve got some C.S. Lewis I’d love to share with you, in the spirit of the holidays!”
Reynolds regarded Claybourn with a jaded eye. “BAH: Humbug,” Reynolds replied.
Josh looked at Reynolds with surprise. “Why, surely you don’t mean that, Uncle.”
“UPDATE: Yes, I do believe that. What’s Christmas but a time for further blogging? Out with Merry Christmas! Keep linking, keep linking.”
“Uncle!” Josh exclaimed.
“FINAL UPDATE: Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”
“But you don’t keep it!”
“YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Then let me not keep it.””
Marley is played, perhaps inevitably, by Mickey Kaus:
“Tonight, Glenn, you shall receive three fiskings! Learn from them, take their lesson, and perhaps you will not turn out as I have!”
Part 2, part 3, I can’t wait for the Fisk of Christmas Future in part 4…
”He has had a front row seat as President Bush and Tony Blair have charted the course of the War on Terror. He leaves at a time when Washington’s unilateralist rhetoric has alarmed many Europeans. But he has amassed an impressive collection of metaphors to reassure those who fear that the continents are heading for divorce.
There is the one about the iceberg, where the visible tip of spats between caricatures of untamed cowboys and effete sophisticates is more than compensated for by the vast ballast of cultural, political and economic ties bellow the surface.
Or the extended family, with its frequent squabbles among cynical and jaded members — who remain family nonetheless.
Or the transatlantic syndrome of Mutually Assured Schizophrenia: the Americans urge the Europeans to get their act together, but get edgy if Europe makes decisions without them; Europeans moan when the US fails to lead but accuse it of unilateralism if it does.
Whatever transatlantic tensions lie ahead over Iraq, they are never beyond repair, he says. “We are always going to be arguing about something. But when people say the relationship across the Atlantic is more full of misunderstandings than ever before, I take that with a pinch of salt.””
Of course, a man whose role is a) to overcome transatlantic misunderstandings, and b) whose role was probably the most comfortable one for a European in Washington, is unlikely to think that things are going too badly. But the metaphors are worth remembering before running off along the usual lines of thought. Particularly as this is probably as candid as a serious ambassador gets.
Sunday, December 22, 2002
“revolver: has a cylinder, usually with five or six rounds, that rotates with each pull of the trigger, loading a new round into the chamber
semiautomatic: fires one round for every pull of the trigger and automatically loads another round
automatic: fires more than one round with every pull of the trigger and automatically loads another round as each previous one is ejected
assault weapon: unless you're talking about something with which you could reasonably expect to storm the beaches at Normandy, you probably shouldn't call it this
shotgun: fires shells full of shot (BBs, more-or-less), and typically requires a pump after each firing to load the next shell”
To business. You know that the UN/Americans/bloodthirsty hegemenons are coming to look for your weapons of mass destruction. How do you hide them? Presumably, unless they’re getting real close, or they’re very well hidden, most of the labs are going to shut down for the week.
But do you have the staff play make-believe at baby milk production? Do you send them away to another part of the country, board up the entrance, and hope no-one notices the large building without any windows? Do you try to remove substantial quantities of evidence, in the hopes that you can find a better hiding place?
In other words – is there a course of action Saddam could have taken that would make life substantially harder for us that it would be already? You’d expect that anything that would show up on satellite photos, either in terms of movements of materials, or in people no longer showing up for work, would be pretty suspicious. On the other hand Iraq have had a while to make their preparations. Perhaps they could have done it before satellite photo analysts focused their full attention on what was going on. Perhaps they moved stuff during the Afghan conflict, expecting the US not to notice.
I don’t have any answers. But following the progress of Hans Blix and his inspectors in the news, it’s an interesting line of thought.