Saturday, February 26, 2005

Friede Collection of Papua New Guinea art to San Francisco

Well, this is pretty neat. The last four paragraphs are actually the most startling.Click here: The New York Times > Arts > Art & Design > City by the Bay to Get a Trove of Oceanic Art

Mary Nohl's house continues to offend

I don't think she intended it to do so, but it does. I wonder if ppl are offended because of traffic, or because they enjoy being offended by a non-conformer. I suppose it depends on the individual- and how bad the traffic really is.

(I grew up about 9 houses south of Mary's.)

Click here: JS Online: Artist's legacy lingers

I hope the Chairmen of Dunkin' Donuts and Virgin Megastores send plenty of toilet paper. Gratis.

David Brooks in the New York Times: "Why not here?"
The question is being asked now in Lebanon. Walid Jumblatt made his much circulated observation to David Ignatius of The Washington Post: "It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq. I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, eight million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world."

So now we have mass demonstrations on the streets of Beirut. A tent city is rising up near the crater where Rafik Hariri was killed, and the inhabitants are refusing to leave until Syria withdraws. The crowds grow in the evenings; bathroom facilities are provided by a nearby Dunkin' Donuts and a Virgin Megastore....

Meanwhile in Palestine, after days of intense pressure, many of the old Arafat cronies are out of the interim Palestinian cabinet. Fresh, more competent administrators have been put in. "What you witnessed is the real democracy of the Palestinian people," Saeb Erakat said to Alan Cowell of The Times.
And now Hosni Mubarak claims he will allow multi-candidate elections for President of Egypt. Coincidence? Click here: The New York Times > AP > International > Africa > Egypt's Mubarak Calls for Democratic Election Reforms

Dunkin' Donuts: "Toilets for an independent Lebanon." Maybe not very catchy, but then George Washington was a real estate developer and Sam Adams a brewer. You do what you can. Maybe "Donuts for Democracy." Click here: The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Columnist: Why Not Here?

Howard Hughs vs Juan Trippe

What drove Trippe? A fury that the future was always being hijacked by people with smaller ideas--by his first partners who did not want to expand airmail routes; by nations that protected flag carriers with subsidies; by the elitists who regarded flight, like luxury liners, as a privilege that could be enjoyed only by the few; by the cartel operators who rigged prices. The democratization he effected was as real as Henry Ford's. Any day, 900 Boeing 747s are in the air, carrying close to 500,000 people and 300,000 tons of cargo. It would not be happening without the "plotter" in "The Aviator."
Of course, he did get a major leg up with a government grant of monopoly on the Key West-Havana mail route. Interesting guy, tho.

Click here: OpinionJournal - Extra

Today is Saturday?

I thought yesterday was Saturday, but today isn't Sunday and tomorrow is, so unless I have fallen into Groundhog Day, yesterday was Friday. I do have the flu and I have heard of losing a day when sick, but I am not sure I approve of gaining one- Seems like an opportunity to be sick longer. Echch.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Knife holder for the...

...stressed spouse?

Probably best not to have one of these on the kitchen counter when the detectives show up.

Click here: Viceversa

Thanks to Click here:

In case you haven't considered a house...

...constructed with 139,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete and 27,840 tons of structural steel.
Well, why haven't you? You too could have a garage door that weighs 47 tons.

John Fontana has the story in Network World Fusion.

Thanks to DMS for the lead.

Professor Churchill seems a mite testy

CBS4 Denver has the story. Video link at bottom of the story.

Taking a swing at a TV reporter does seem impolitic, tho. Especially on camera. Of course, I may have misinterpreted the video.

Click here: CBS4 Denver: 'Original' Churchill Art Piece Creates Controversy


Did National Geographic cover this aspect of Koko the gorilla?

The lawsuit against the Gorilla Foundation and its president, Francine "Penny" Patterson, the longtime trainer of (Koko) the well-known gorilla, was filed this week in San Mateo County Superior Court. It seeks damages totaling more than $1 million....

The suit claims Patterson pressured the two women on several occasions to expose their breasts to Koko, a 33-year-old female...

They were threatened that if they "did not indulge Koko's nipple fetish, their employment with the Gorilla Foundation would suffer," the lawsuit alleged.

The lawsuit claims that on one occasion Patterson said, "'Koko, you see my nipples all the time. You are probably bored with my nipples. You need to see new nipples.'"Click here: ABC News: Women Sue Over Gorilla's Breast 'Fetish'


The New York Review of Books has an interesting article by Pankaj Mishra on the continuing problems in Afghanistan. Legalizing opium might help a lot, but that clearly is not in the cards.

Thanks to: Click here: Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate

Thursday, February 24, 2005


I have been feeling cruddy a coupla days, and sore throat struck pretty hard this PM. Feeling wasted. Watched Entrapment tonite- even the Slither thru the red yarn Lasers scene didn't provide much of a pick me up. Whine (macho, manly, version, of course).

The Saudis in America

I don't know how accurate this opinion piece by Stephen Schwartz in the NY Post is, but I have seen the gist elsewhere.
IN Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday, a 23-year-old Northern Virginia man of Saudi Arabian background named Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was charged with conspiring to assassinate President Bush...

In 1999, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali was the valedictorian for the Islamic Saudi Academy (ISA), a K-12 school with campuses in Fairfax and Alexandria, Va., that is directly controlled by the Royal Saudi Embassy in Washington.

ISA is dedicated to teaching Wahhabism, the hate-cult that serves as the de facto Saudi state religion. The curriculum: defiance of the authority of "unbeliever" governments, including ours; repudiation of democracy; cultivation of hatred of non-Muslims as well as Muslims who do not follow the fundamentalist Wahhabi creed.
It's worth a read. Click here: New York Post Online Edition: postopinion

Thanks for the lead: Click here: -

Mary Shelley's manuscript... going to Oxford for keeps.
The original manuscript of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is due to be saved for the UK after a £3m grant was awarded to a prestigious library.

A draft of the horror classic completed in 1817 is now likely to be displayed alongside other Shelley papers at Oxford University's Bodleian library.Click here: BBC NEWS Entertainment Frankenstein 'saved' by £3m grant
Cool. Her Mom, Mary Wollstonecraft, wrote some good stuff too, notably "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman" in 1792, for an online version of which, go here: Click here: Wollstonecraft, Mary. 1792. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Naples. Well, fancy that.

The News-Press, which I assume is from Naples, FL, altho they don't say so (a very common failing among newspaper websites BTW: they seem to assume everybody following a link will know all about them. Wrong!) announced that an author says:
Naples is the top small art town in America, according to a newly published edition of a cultural arts travel book....

(Naples falls in the category of cities under 30,000 population, and Villani listed the population at 25,000)...

Daniels said the nonprofit institution, with an annual budget of $25 million and more than $100 million in assets, has no limit but what money might be available for future expansion.
Sounds like someone has been doing a fair job of fundraising in a community of 25,000. Isn't that an annual budget of $1000 per resident? Or do I need another cup of coffee before essaying higher math?

UPDATE: I suppose the $25 megabucks part could be a typo for 2.5 megabucks. That would make more sense. I can't imagine what they would do with 25. That's a lot of Auntie Mame productions.

Click here: The News-Press: Lifestyles - Author declares Naples as best small art city in the country

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bush=Hitler, or Bush=Reagan?

Claus Christian Malzahn in Der Spiegel asks a question: Could Bush Be Right?
It was difficult not to cringe during Reagan's speech in 1987. He didn't leave a single Berlin cliché out of his script. At the end of it, most experts agreed that his demand for the removal of the Wall was inopportune, utopian and crazy.

Yet three years later, East Germany had disappeared from the map...
Bush's idea of a Middle Eastern democracy imported at the tip of a bayonet is, for Schroeder's Social Democratic Party and his coalition partner the Green Party, the hysterical offspring off the American neo-cons. Even German conservatives find the idea that Arabic countries could transform themselves into enlightened democracies somewhat absurd...

In Mainz today, the stagnant Europeans came face to face with the dynamic Americans. We Europeans always want to have the world from yesterday, whereas the Americans strive for the world of tomorrow. Click here: Bush in Germany: Could George W. Bush Be Right? - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Margaret Thatcher and Mikhail Gorbachev contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union: both credited Ronald Reagan as the architect and prime mover. Yet after his death a usually thoughtful person I know commented that she couldn't understand why anybody thinks he was important.

He pumped up military spending until the Soviets bankrupted themselves trying to keep up, and his invasions of little places like Grenada convinced them that he was nutty enuf to make good on his warnings, so they had to keep up.

Bush shocked the Islamists silly when he invaded Afghanistan, and shocked the secular Arab fascists when he invaded Iraq, pulled Saddam out of a filthy hole in the ground, and held elections. He scared Khaddafi into giving up his weapons of mass destruction.

Thinking of the Berlin Wall, David Ignatius has a column in the Washington Post about some of the Lebanese who are calling for the end of the Syrian occupation and for elections.
"It is the beginning of a new Arab revolution," argues Samir Franjieh, one of the organizers of the opposition. "It's the first time a whole Arab society is seeking change -- Christians and Muslims, men and women, rich and poor."

The leader of this Lebanese intifada is Walid Jumblatt, the patriarch of the Druze Muslim community and, until recently, a man who accommodated Syria's occupation. But something snapped for Jumblatt last year, when the Syrians overruled the Lebanese constitution and forced the reelection of their front man in Lebanon, President Emile Lahoud...

"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
Click here: Beirut's Berlin Wall (

For half a century we emphasized stability around the world because the alternative was seen to be Soviet control. Virtually any miserable government was believed better for us than that. Now, without the specter of the Soviets, the options are different. Perhaps this gigantic gamble will pay off well for the Arabs and the rest of the world, including the US. If it does, it won't really matter much if after Bush's eventual death some don't understand why he was important.

A blind sheik, his lawyer, and a couple Amendments

Andrew C. McCarthy, who led the 1995 terrorism prosecution against the Blind Sheik and accomplices, has some criticisms of Fox News and Judge Andrew Napolitano, one of their columnists on the Lynne Stewart case:
As Napolitano puts it:

Just after 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave himself the power to bypass the lawyer-client privilege, which every court in the United States has upheld, and eavesdrop on conversations between prisoners and their lawyers if he had reason to believe they were being used to "further facilitate acts of violence or terrorism." The regulation became effective immediately.

Of course, had Napolitano taken the few minutes necessary to read the indictment (which is freely available online), he might have learned that all of the conversations and actions that resulted in Stewart's conviction took place about two years or more before the post-9/11 regulation (which the, er, Judge, in any event, mischaracterizes). That is: before George W. Bush was president, before John Ashcroft was attorney general, and before 9/11 ever happened. This investigation was very ably conducted by, and took place under the auspices of incontestably proper regulations imposed by, the Clinton Justice Department.

As the indictment explains, and as those of us who actually followed the trial well know, Attorney General Janet Reno began curtailing the Blind Sheik's prison privileges in April 1997 — i.e., a year-and-a-half after his conviction.
It looks like Lynne Stewart will be spending the rest of her life in prison for helping terrorists. Which beats the fate of 58 tourists the sheik's followers murdered in an attempt to get him released.

Journalists & the 1st Amendment

The editors at the Wall Street Journal are not very happy with their counterparts at the New York Times.
In the recent annals of press freedom, there are few more regrettable...than...a December 31, 2003, editorial in the New York Times. The special counsel that the Times was cheering on, Patrick Fitzgerald, is now threatening a Times reporter with jail, and in a way that jeopardizes the entire press corps....

The bitterest irony here is that this case should never have been investigated in the first place. Ms. Plame is the wife of Joseph Wilson, the CIA consultant who wrote a July 2003 op-ed in the Times accusing the Bush Administration of lying about yellow cake uranium ore from Niger. The allegation became a political cause celebre at the time, though a year later both a British and a U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee probe found that the White House had been accurate and that Mr. Wilson was the one who hadn't told the truth.
Something about barnyard fowl and roosting at home comes to mind, but it will likely extend far beyond the Times' coop.

Click here: OpinionJournal - Featured Article

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Saturn cubed

Cool space pic of the day.

Thus spake Ward Churchill

News is in from an island friend that the University of Hawaii invited our friend and intellectual mentor Ward Churchill to speak.

Well, I'm not surprised that UH invited him.

Have you read his little diatribe about the 9/11 victims? His point that the Pentagon was a legitimate military target is one I happen to agree with, tho using a civilian airliner to attack it is pretty questionable. (Please note that while I agree that the Pentagon was a military target, I also think that we ought to exterminate al Qaeda. Not capture them, not negotiate with them, not render them helpless. Exterminate them.)

Calling the ppl in the World Trade center 'little Eichmanns" was well beyond the pale of reasoned discourse, tho, and only one inflammatory example from his flame. Having read some of his stuff, most especially his 9/11 piece, I think the guy is an idiot far more interested in pissing ppl off than in making any converts to his cause. Sort of like a lot of Libertarians, unfortunately.

I think he doesn''t have enuf respect for his own beliefs to make reasoned arguments for fear that they will be shot down- like the socially inept who deliberately offend others so that their rejection won't be so threatening as it would have been if the person had actually tried to be liked and was then rejected.

Those who think Churchill's so-called First Amendment rights have been curtailed betray their ignorance of the First Amendment if they are referring to either his canceled speaking dates or the criticism he has received: no one is obligated to provide him with a forum, and anyone who criticizes him is exercising their own rights to free speech.

Should the state of Colorado fire him for his views? No- that might well constitute abridging his 1st Amendment rights-, but given the in my opinion appalling quality of his intellect he should never have been hired. Giving him tenure was pathetic. Making him Dept Chairman was also pathetic, but once he was in, only to be expected if he was willing to take on the chores. If the rumors about lying on his resume and plagiarism hold up, he should be fired for those real failings, and chalk it up to the fact that his notoriety brought his transgressions to public attention.

Actually, a more interesting aspect to me of this whole brouhaha is the light it casts on some university departments: the truly awful "scholarship" which passes muster if the viewpoint is correct, and the belief of students that they must keep quiet in front of professorial prejudice. Churchill is just one individual example of what seems to be a long term trend. I'm not sure it is as bad as the conservatives make it out to be, but I saw enuf of it at UWM to be satisfied that lefty-statism in academia is real and that it does impact students in some departments.

Anyway, as I blogged some time back, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt." Let him rant on. The shame is that the left allows itself to be represented by idiots like Churchill. I used to know lefties I respected, because they were smart enuf and knowledgeable enuf to make me think in order to debate them. The Ward Churchills should be denounced by the left- I think they are psychiatric cases, not intellectuals.

Not that I have strong opinions on this or anything, mind you.


I'm sure they do.

Leaders of a U.N. Internet panel yesterday said they hope to set up a global system where cyberspace would be under the control of the United Nations.
Oh, great. The freedom loving governments of the world will regulate the Internet for the good of the People. Right.
At the first World Summit on the Information Society in 2003...China was leading efforts to globalize Internet control. Beijing allows its own citizens online access, but only with government surveillance. China was joined in its efforts by representatives of Syria, Egypt, Vietnam and South Africa.
Yeah, I kind of thought it might be some group like that: fascists, communists, kleptocrats, and mass murderers in favor of government control of communication. Just keep reminding yourself: It's for the children. Their children, of course, not yours.

Click here: WorldNetDaily: U.N. to control use of Internet?

The two best obits I've read for Hunter S.Thompson

They are quite different, and both are worth reading by any fan of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972:

Click here: Austin Ruse on Hunter Thompson on National Review Online

Click here: The Dark Star (

Oh, Ms Language Person (or Mr, as the case may be)

Kristen Philipkoski reports in Slate on the Death of Language (or Not):
Some believe the informality of internet-mediated communication is causing the language to deteriorate.

"The prophets of doom emerge every time a new technology influences language, of course -- they gathered when printing was introduced in the 15th century," (David) Crystal said...

(College men) were much more likely to use contractions (in Instant Messages), Baron found. She also noted that women took significantly longer to close IM conversations than males, and males were significantly more likely than females to break utterances into multiple IM transmissions.

...The average number of IM conversations per student at one time was about three, the highest number being 12.

They had multiple conversations, they said, because of time constraints, and also because focusing on just one IM conversation would be "too weird."
I wonder whether Larry Summers would like to comment on that part about college men and women.

No, no, maybe he wouldn't just yet. Another day. After someone else does the research, which surely will not be done at Harvard.

Click here: Wired News: The Web Not the Death of Language

Thanks for the tip: Click here: ArtsJournal: Daily Arts News

Monday, February 21, 2005

Nuanced thinking from the...

...New York Times:
Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times, said... “A blog is still a view of the world through a pinhole,” he said, noting that it can sometimes fall as low as being a “one man circle jerk.”
I'm impressed. I'd actually be more impressed if he spoke so succinctly of the Hussein family, or President Mubarak, or, for that matter, Dubya. And refrained from denouncing as simplistic thinking by ppl he disagrees with.

Amanda Ericson reviews Mr. Keller's talk, in the Columbia (University) Spectator:

Thanks to PowerLine: Click here: Power Line

The Black Death...

..puts even the 20th century into perspective.

Anyone reading this survived a good deal of the bloodiest century in history, and the numbers killed and murdered by governments last century dwarf anything previous, but the Black Death was all by itself:
"How many people perished in the Black Death is unknown; for Europe, the most widely accepted mortality figure is 33 percent. In raw numbers that means that between 1347, when the plague arrived in Sicily, and 1352, when it appeared in the plains of Moscow, the continent lost twenty-five million of its seventy-five million inhabitants."
My recollection is that by century's end Europe's population had been reduced by half.

Jonathan Yardley reviews John Kelly's The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time"

Click here: 'The Great Mortality' (

Thanks to Arts & Letters Daily for the lead: Click here: Arts & Letters Daily - ideas, criticism, debate

I'm home...

...from a long drive to Horseheads, NY (near Elmira) to help my niece's husband pick up furniture and other things from his grandparents' estate. Lousy weather on the way home yesterday led us to put up in a hotel in Milan (Sandusky), Ohio, which by chance was immediately next to the campground I usually sleep at on my trips to New England in July. This morning it looked like the campground was closed for the winter, which is hardly surprising.

We saw too many cars and semis spun out in the ditch, so packed it in after dinner a few miles east of there. Better to spend time watching tv than in a stuck truck and trailer.