Saturday, July 05, 2003
A chance to see England before departing for the Rugby World Cup, a limited
number of tickets will be available for Wales v England, at the Millennium
Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday 23rd August kick off 2.30pm. Enquires to
Thursday, July 03, 2003
The "Bushism of the day": ""My answer is bring them on."—On Iraqi militants attacking U.S. forces, Washington, D.C., July 3, 2003"
The full quote: "Bush, a proud Texan with a penchant for plain talk, told reporters on Wednesday: "There are some who feel like that conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is: Bring them on. We have the force necessary to deal with the situation.""
Now, it's obvious why Democrats would condemn Bush for a single sentence in a sound-bite - that seems a big chunk of US pollitics nowadays. And the quote as a whole can certainly be condemned. But I think it's not crazy to read it as the White House staff quoted in the second story do, as an expression of confidence in the US forces there (and the level of forces put there by Bush and his staff), rather than as an invitiation to attack troops.
Quote the whole thing. Even if you can't see why it's relevant, other people might find it to be so.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
"IF YOU PLAN not to read this summer, "Living History" is just the book. Hillary Clinton's new memoir is more than 100,000 pages long. At least I think it is. There are only 562 page numbers, but you know how those Clintons lie. A mere ream of paper could not contain the padding that has gone into this tome. Hillary--with the help of at least six ghostwriters--nails the goose of a manuscript to the barn floor and force-feeds it with lint. "
"Smoking kills. You were probably as surprised as we were to see huge, black-bordered health warnings appearing on your favourite brand of cigarettes recently. We don't know why the government have decided to poison our fags, but we can help you do something about it. We sell realistic stickers to cover up the real health warnings on UK cigarette packets with something a little less stressful. Stickers are available in packs of twenty for just £3.99 (including UK postage and packing). Your friends will be coughing with amusement in no time.
Each pack of high-quality gloss stickers contains two each of ten designs, featuring slogans such as...
Smoking is cool
You could be hit by a bus tomorrow
Buy your own fags
Smoking makes you look hard "
"Incredibly, Scalia had the nerve to say, "Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals." You almost expected the next line to say, "Some of my best friends are homosexuals."
Almost -- except that what Scalia really wrote was:
Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. . . . But persuading one’s fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one’s views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual acts -- or, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of them -- than I would forbid it to do so.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
"Our hero, Hugh Marlowe (he plays a “scientist”!) and his lovely wife (Joan Taylor, playing a "scientist"!) have been abducted by the aliens, who tell them that they wish to address all the leaders of earth in Washington, DC. I love this exchange:
Skeptical general #1: “If they want to parlay with the entire world, why did they choose Washington DC?”
Scientist: “They appear to be realists.”
Heh. Sure, we could all meet in Brussels, but everyone would be looking over at the US delegation with those please-tell-us-you-have-secret-bombs-that-can-kill-these-guys expressions. "
"Italy’s journalists’ union and the Centre Left argue that Signor Berlusconi represents a threat to press freedom because, as a media baron, he controls Italy’s three main commercial TV channels and, as Prime Minister, has influence over RAI, the state broadcasting company."
Oh yes - because there are three commercial stations that, I understand Berlusconi built up in an entrepreneurial manner, and three state stations, there's a problem. And what's the origin of the problem? State control over half of the TV networks. It was at the liberty of the long post-war coalitions to free up media ownership. Berlusconi built a free media presence, the state didn't opt to offer competition, and now they're unfortunate enough to find themselves with commercial and state television in the hands of people they don't like. That's the way that trying to keep a broadcasting monopoly of your own can end up sadly, so I'm not too sympathetic.
Of course, there may be more detail to how he ended up with three stations that I'm missing, but my understanding was that this was how it happened, so pardon my lack of sympathy....
* Simultaneous broadcasts from tape in local markets, enabling him to obtain a national presence that wasn't on offer directly.
Of course, his reply took in the fact that Communism had "never been tried in an affluent country" (how that excuses the mass murder is beyond me, but...). When it was pointed out that Cuba was an affluent country when Castro took over, by the standards of the time*. E.g. it's GDP per capita was higher than Spain's.
My memory of the exact example of oppression in Cuba blur slightly - I definitely mentioned journalists and politcal dissidents (see reporters without borders on this), and also made some claims about Cuba locking up gays that I can't find right now - all I can get support for is the incarceration of people with AIDS, something entirely different (yeah, right...) **. He was good enough not to back locking up journalists. But dissidents - that's a different argument. I accused him of having a "breaking a few eggs" attitude, and he defended locking them up if necessary to "protect the revolution". I walked off before I became offensively rude...
It's amazing you can still find them - defenders of historic communism, and justifiers of the practical aspects of its' current incarnations. I should have asked about Korea, and really set myself off....
* "The hideously depressing thing is that Cuba under Battista--Cuba in 1957--was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people--fifth highest in the world. Cuba today has fewer telephones per capita than it had TVs in 1957.
You take a look at the standard Human Development Indicator variables--GDP per capita, infant mortality, education--and you try to throw together an HDI for Cuba in the late 1950s, and you come out in the range of Japan, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Israel. Today? Today the UN puts Cuba's HDI in the range of Lithuania, Trinidad, and Mexico. (And Carmelo Mesa-Lago thinks the UN's calculations are seriously flawed: that Cuba's right HDI peers today are places like China, Tunisia, Iran, and South Africa.) " - see Delong's comments for a variety of points about the numbers, and, probabaly somewhere in there, that the obvious issue pre revolution was distribution, but that didn't mean the economy was a basket-case.
** "Cuba has used, in an abusive manner, compulsory HIV tests and has incarcerated those who test positively. Thus Cuba seeks to combat the virus by combatting those people whom the virus attacked. In this way, Cuba is defeated by the HIV virus and by the ideological virus of prejudice and discrimination. There are no possible arguments to defend these positions, except for those based on the most reactionary forms of prejudice against gays."
""The new law is there to please China, tackle groups targeted by Beijing, such as the Falun Gong, and to deter opposition in Hong Kong." Falun Gong is a spiritual discipline that advocates truth, compassion and tolerance and is banned in China."
And, as it turned out, turnover was 250,000:
"Dressed in black to represent the demise of human rights, waving banners and holding umbrellas to shield them from the summer sun, more than 250,000 people came out onto Hong Kong's streets on Tuesday to protest against an anti-subversion law planned for the territory.
Official observers said it was the biggest crowd to demonstrate here since the pro-democracy march on June 4 1989 when one million people participated. Organisers said they believed the attendance was closer to 400,000, despite the 32 degree Celsius temperature.
The high turnout can be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in the administration of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong's unpopular leader, who since he assumed control in 1997 has overseen a financial downturn, record unemployment, the Sars epidemic and growing dissatisfaction with his government's accountability to the general population."
"A politics that/the politics of
Examples: "I want us to get back to a politics that dares to ask, 'Why not?' again" (answering questions after a speech at the Kennedy Library, Feb. 9, 2003).
What it means: Nothing.
What it hides: I'm saying nothing.
Subtext: Although I appear not to have a coherent set of principles, in fact, I do.
Go to the moon right here on Earth
Example: "We need to now go to the moon here on Earth by setting America on the course to energy independence" (speech to the City Club of Cleveland, Dec. 3, 2002).
What it means: Do something really big.
What it hides: Not only is it logically impossible to go to the moon on Earth, but what I'm about to say has nothing to do with either."
Monday, June 30, 2003
Sunday, June 29, 2003
"CHARLIE’S ANGELS 2: FULL THROTTLE isn’t really a narrative film. It isn’t concerned with linear thought or character development or sensible plot workings. This is a film that can be seen from the beginning, but that isn’t required. You could join this in progress at any point, or if on DVD, if you had a random chapter shuffle function, it wouldn’t really matter that much. You could watch chapter 12 before chapter 3 followed by chapter 22 and it would make as much sense as what we are given, BUT… what we are given is a deliciously absurd fetishistic tickling that you are either going to relish in and wallow… OR hate and decree the death of cinema. "
"I hesitate to use the word "amusing" but Latimer begins one chapter by citing the apocryphal story of the French book on bridge which allegedly began: "Rule 1. Always try to see your opponent's cards." "