What's perhaps the biggest argument against using torture as a tactic in the War on Terror? Bad intel. It doesn't get much worse than this.


Jesus. Aristotle. Alexander. Hitler. Dr. King. These men have all cast long shadows over human affairs and ultimately have driven the forces of history. As this century takes form it’s clear that this age will be shaped by one of two people; Ayn Rand or L.Ron Hubbard.

Both leaders have spawned legions of influential disciples who drive the twin engines of culture and commerce. The followers of both groups often find themselves under attack from critics from within and without, but each day their reach expands.
Jenny Turner chronicles the quiet ubiquity of the Randians in the latest London Review of Books:
Objectivism is also promulgated by the Objectivist Center in Washington DC, ... The Center supports lectures and social events, a journal called the New Individualist (until recently the Navigator), a venture called the Atlas Society and an online Objectivism Store selling T-shirts, bags, hats, badges and inspirational posters.
Rand is everywhere on the internet: stickers, coasters, car number plates, CDs featuring a Randian ‘Concerto of Deliverance’ at starshipaurora.com. Randians can meet ‘at least’ four thousand others, it is claimed, through the Objectivist dating agency at theatlasphere.com, …Professional philosophers can join the Ayn Rand Society at aynrandsociety.org.

Rand’s influences are noticeable in the political ethos that flourished in the literary environment she provided. A politics that manifested itself in the form of Ronald Reagan and his political offspring. An ideology that focused on destroying the overt collectivism of the Soviets and the more subtle socialism found in western democracies. Money is the fountainhead of political societies and her impact is even more direct in this regard. The business focused climate she facilitated ushered in an unrepentant form of hyper-capitalism that remains the hallmark of her adopted nation. Long time U.S. Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan (who was a flute playing early acolyte of Rand’s) has used his pulpit to shape global monetary policy in a way that many consider to be in adherence with Randian goals.

Her death hasn’t stalled the movement. The emotional content of her writing has helped her words to find leverage in the hearts of adolescents around the world, and her books continue to be bestsellers. Turner describes Rand’s continued popularity as a combination of rapture and intellectual fireworks: Post-Rand, Objectivism has become more secular and suburban, but as is the way with suburbs, also more widespread. If nothing else, Objectivism might inject romance, victimhood, entertainingly bohemian personal chaos, into the otherwise uneventful right-wing life

Her adherents are diverse and growing. As Scott McLemee describes:
(Randians include) the novelist and screenwriter Nora Ephron, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Canadian bombast-rock group Rush. (The album 2112 was inspired by her philosophy.) Rand died in 1982, but her spirit lingers in Silicon Valley, with its anarcho-entrepreneurialism. At least one dozen Playboy centerfold models have named The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged as their favorite book. And Camille Paglia has proclaimed Rand an intellectual prototype of her own bad self--than which no higher praise can be imagined, from that source.

Meanwhile Scientology has grown to become the pre-eminent religion in the employ of those who control celebrity culture. Since its beginnings, Scientology targeted celebrities to grow the profile of the fledging church. To this day the high profile of some the church’s more celebrated members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are only the most public face of group that has been able to recruit followers from all walks of life. From prison out-reach, school drug treatment programs, to the foot soldiers offering e-meter testing on the sidewalks of cities across the globe, Scientology has used yeoman tactics to grow its base. Hubbard’s text Dianetics (subtitled: The Modern Science of Mental Health) has become the bible for millions of followers around the world. Recently, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the late founder as the most translated author in the history of the world.

Scientology’s appeal lies largely in its ability to tap into man’s quest for self-examination and self-improvement. While rigorously (and litigiously) maintaining secrecy about the inner-workings of the church the faith is welcoming to any and all who strive.

Like the Randians, Scientologists are mired in controversy. Some consider the church little more than a pyramid scheme wrapped in a pious veneer. Others criticize the church for being more cult than religion. And most recently the church has found itself waging an increasingly public (and at times surreal) battle with the medical establishment. These skirmishes over the image of the church has brought the fight into a battlefield it knows all too well; the realm of popular culture.
Even Wall St. sees the folly of the current drug policy.

It's time to consider a dramatic shift in policy. Instead of the battle cry "war on drugs," let's try the mantra "legalization, regulation, and taxation."


Speaking of nutty right-wingers, Pat Robertson says God will smite a town for voting against intelligent design.
Bill O'Reilly thinks San Francisco shouldn't be a part of America. But he doesn't stop there:

"If Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

What a douche.


Thanks for all the kind words of support about Dublin. Some of the emails have been really amazing.

One of the funniest shout outs came from the reader who said the posting reminded them of this Onion story.


Americans love their dogs. We spend more on pets than on candy or toys. Philanthropists have funded research into cloning pets, and recent genetic successes have created a nascent industry.

This isn't about America in the aggregate, it's about me. More to the point, my dog. Her name was Dublin. We put her down this morning. She was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of cancer, operated on, had a kidney removed (along with the tumor) and struggled for the past two weeks. We waited with desperation for her to pee the first few days after the surgery, in the hope that her one remaining kidney would work. About 3 days after the operation she walked out into our bushes and squatted. It was night and we realized we might not be able to see her urinate so I shoved my hand under her and felt the warm, golden liquid. I was ecstatic. Never before had being peed on by a dog brought me such unmitigated happiness.

But the next few days put to rest our fledgling hope. Even though she continued to pee test results showed that her lone kidney wasn't working as hoped. She hadn't eaten since the surgery and was losing weight and what little strength she had. The only time she got up from her bed was to vomit. Each day brought less and less hope that she'd make a real recovery.

She was my dog, but really she was my wife's dog. She got Dublin from a pound in Southern California just before she left for college. Her first dog on her own, a sign, to my wife at least, of her growing independence and connected to her sense of the possible. Many years later I met my wife in a dog park. Of all the gifts our dogs gave us, this was undoubtedly the greatest.

So now we have one dog. A strange sensation for two people who spent so many years going to dog parks and learning to watch two dogs simultaneously go in opposite directions. The four of us went to Chrissy Field, an expanse of beach on the San Francisco Bay that is a favorite for all City dogs, and watched the fog roll over the bridge and waves crest against the sand where Dublin once chased giant black birds with an abandon that is reserved for the innocent and the free. This was our last act as a family of four before we took her to her in. Before we held her as the vet injected one shot, and then another, and she went to sleep forever.

Often people without pets are amazed. "How can you spend so much money on medical bills?" they ask. "How can you spend so much on toys...on food...on everything?" As I sit at home self-medicating (i.e. getting drunk) in the misbegotten hope that the virgin chasm will somehow ignore me for a moment or two, I realize that our love affair with animals is as much about us as it is about them.


Finally! Bush makes an appointment all Americans can get behind.
It is possible to fail in many ways...while to succeed is possible only in one way. -Aristotle

The USC Trojans, down by three, facing a 4th down and 9, deep in their own territory, knew for the first time all season the vicious sting of uncertainty. The 27 game winning streak was in peril, as was their season long quest to become the first team to win three consecutive national titles. Perhaps worst of all, it was going to happen on the hallowed, but hostile, ground that Notre Dame calls home. Everybody’s All-American Matt Leinart made a pass that kept the Trojan’s dwindling hopes alive, and then he made the decision that instantly became legend. The Trojans won in a game that some are calling the greatest college football game ever. A magic game on a day filled with the sublime spectacle that college football is at its very best. As Josh Levin, writing for Slate offered:

In what might have been college football's best day ever, Michigan and Boston College won on last-gasp touchdown passes, Alabama took out Ole Miss on a final-play field goal, and West Virginia and UCLA came from way back to win overtime slugfests.

College football is a game that is fueled by friendly controversy. Who deserves to be #1? Perhaps as importantly, who deserves to be #2? How soon until we get a playoff system? What is the greatest rivalry in all the land? Which conference is the strongest? Did USC cheat to win and does it even matter? Who will win the Heisman?

Part way through this season we can mostly only speculate, but this past Saturday gives us a chance to reflect and look ahead. As the leaves turn and the crisp air of autumn renews our school ties, for a few hours this past weekend a group of young men reminded us what the only appropriate answer is when faced with immovable obstructions; Fight On!


Uof Chicago poli-sci professor and uber-blogger Daniel Drezner was up for tenure. He was denied. Now many are wondering if his blog was the reason.


I didn't realize FEMA was rappin' to kids. This changes everything, they aren't incompetent.
Frear. What is it goof for? Apparently for the fear entrepreneurs it's a chance to make a buck or a point.
Fads are over. Cool, isn't. Cool-hunters look for work. (actually, they just change their names)
Adam L. Penenberg wonders if Google has peaked.


A new structure is cause for pause and reflection. After years of political squabbles the new M.H. de Young Memorial Museum is about to open in San Francisco. Designed by Swiss architects Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog, the resurrected fine arts museum is over 293,000 sq. ft, offers breathtaking interiors, and is draped in a copper skin that blends into the trees of Golden Gate Park and simultaneously stands in stark relief.

The most controversial element of the design is the soaring, twisting tower that rises above the redwood trees. Some derisively compare the tower to an aircraft carrier, others to an undulating snake. It’s clearly the signature design element of the exterior, and one meant to be provocative. John King, the Chronicle’s Urban Design writer muses:

The tower, for instance, defies all efforts to pin it down or sum it up. It is a presence more than a distinctive form -- blunt from one angle and statuesque from another, muddy in the fog and aglow in bright sun. On the north and south sides it seems to dissolve, where the copper encasing the fire stairs becomes a lacy web that lets the light stream through.

The original de Young was irreparably damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. City voters twice turned down initiatives to fund the rebuilding of the de Young and instead turned to private financing. Museum board president Dede Wilsey led the fundraising effort, a challenge that was compounded by contentious battles over parking, park use, and the collapse of the dotcom economy. Wilsey’s pitch was created when she spoke with a wealthy patron at a cocktail party, ``You have money, and I need some.'' She never stopped asking. And now in the year 2005 San Francisco has its de Young back. (Quicktime tour of the musuem)

King goes on to describe how Mueron and Herzog refreshingly create structures that place function over form and make full use of familiar materials in evocative ways. The duo is notable by the fact that they don’t have a signature look. The space, materials, purpose, and location have a greater impact on their designs than does their egos. King writes, “The key to Herzog and de Meuron's work: They're interested in sensations, not forms. They strive to create architecture that touches all your senses -- an overall experience rather than an image on a page.”

This sensual construction occurs, perhaps most successfully, with the interior. Kenneth Baker, the Chronicle’s art critic, takes us on a (podcast)tour of the inside, describing the building and the pieces it houses.

The new de Young deploys its resources to encourage our recognition that the meanings of art, even of the decorative arts, lie neither wholly within the art object nor wholly outside it.

The layout of the building encourages visitors to take a path of their choosing, rather than creating a de facto hierarchy of branches of art. The central court, which has elements left from the original de Young, is at the beginning (or end) of any path taken. As always with Herzog ad de Meuron’s designs that materials on the inside are precise, stoic, and generous. From the rich eucalyptus of the second floor, to the grand staircase leading up to the Oceania collection (the one section that could truly be called extravagant) the importance of materials to the overall design of the museum becomes apparent.

Kenneth Baker ponders at the beginning of his review “What should a 21st century museum look like?” Pierre de Meuron, Jacques Herzog, and Dede Wilsey have given their answer.
So Catholic bishops in England have discovered (or more germane, disclosed) what most of us accepted once we grew past believing in Santa Claus, the Bible shouldn't be literally interpreted.

Â?We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,Â? they say in The Gift of Scripture

Now if we can get Bussupportersrs on board, we might start making progress.
Malcolm Gladwell on Harvard's long history of using a variety of tools and tactics to keep the university WASP-y enough to maintain its "elite" perception.
Vlad Putin stole Robert Kraft's SuperBowl ring. There's nothing odd about that story at all.
The fall television season is a few weeks old and all ready winners and losers are starting to emerge. As always, there is a mix of quality and dreck, shows that are at risk too soon, and shows that should have been shot at the first pitch meeting.

Perhaps the biggest potential flop is NBC's latest offering from the Apprentice franchise. The Martha Stewart version has the hottie ex-con running an obstacle course for a bunch of nattily attired, upwardly mobile, professionals. The reality genre seems to be showing its age in general, the Apprentice in particular, and Martha's comeback appears to have hit a road block. The lastest ominous sign is that NBC has moved the program's start time (never a good sign) and positioned it against ABC's juggernaut Lost.

Showing more early success is the Geena Davis vehicle Commander in Chief. The show, about a woman ascending to the Presidency, enjoyed strong support from ABC, driven by a Disney-sized marketing campaign that included an inaugural ball. In a minor controversy reminiscent of the political wrestling that is occurring over movies, conservative critics have pointed out that the show is actually a nefarious effort by liberals to promote the notion of a female president.

The successful new shows run the gamut in terms of networks and show a return of sorts for scripted programming. Winners include the Chris Rock project Everybody Hate Chris. Considered by many an updated Cosby show, it has all ready become one of the most successful shows in UPN history. NBC has scored with My Name is Earl the story of a ne'er-do-well who wins the lottery and attempts to go back and do good to all the people he has done bad to. Fox is enjoying a surge with the serial Prison Break, a bright light on a dark night for Fox. Prison Break follows two quality programs that seem headed to oblivion. (It's not a new show, but Fox treats it like a new show. Arrested Development is so money, if anyone has a cousin who works at Fox, implore them not to cancel the show)

Another struggling new show is FX's ripped from the headlines Over There. Steven Bochco, of Hill Street Blues and LA Law fame, has brought a searing and poetic look into the lives of soldiers serving in Iraq. A verisimilitude that is perhaps, a little too close for comfort.

Perhaps even more than the movie business, television responds and reacts to the whims and desires of the viewing public. And like the variety that marks the American populace there are a variety of television shows, one of which is perfect for you.
This defies the imagination. Bush is threatening to veto (his first veto ever) the recently passed anti-tortue bill.


Apparently God is giving foreign policy advice to the President.


"We are being propelled into this new century with no plan, no control, no brakes." -Bill Joy

Ray Kurzweil is on a speaking tour promoting his new book The Singularity Is Near. In it he describes a not too distant reality where human and machine traits will blend, "a destiny we have come to refer to as the Singularity."

"The Singularity" argues that technology is a continuation of the life-improvement process commonly called evolution. DNA created biological life forms. Biological life forms advanced over eons and developed Homo sapiens. Their big brains and opposing thumbs and forefingers made them adept toolmakers. Today their cutting-edge tools -- computers, software, gene-splicing techniques and nanotechnology -- are poised for integration with human biological systems to evolve a hybrid life form.

Near term advancements like respirocytes, artificial hyper-oxygenated red blood cells, powerful computers that will seamlessly augment our ability to think (which as Kurzweil reminds us is nothing more than pattern recognition), and nanotechnologies which might be applied to the most basic of human functions.

Kurzweil welcomes this future but understands that the potential for abuse exist and admonishes that research be conducted in an open and vigorous environment.

Others are concerned about the Singularity movement. Bill McKibben 2003's book Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age. McKibben is an modern day proponent of Ghandhi's adage; "There is more to life than increasing its speed"

McKibben laments "satisfaction inflation" or the idea that the greater the capabilities of the individual the greater the challenge required to fulfill him. "What actually makes people happy is full engagement," McKibben said. "You are most alive when working at the limit of your abilities."


There is no more fundamental axiom of American freedom than the familiar statement: In a free country we punish men for crimes they commit but never for the opinions they have. - Harry S. Truman

It began as an off-the-cuff response to a caller on his radio show and has turned into a Rorschach test for political pundits, Washington watchers, and black and white America. Bill Bennett responding to the suggestion that if abortion had been illegal Social Security would be more solvent offered an argumentum ad absurdum:

BENNETT: All right, well, I mean, I just don't know. I would not argue for the pro-life position based on this, because you don't know. I mean, it cuts both -- you know, one of the arguments in this book Freakonomics that they make is that the declining crime rate, you know, they deal with this hypothesis, that one of the reasons crime is down is that abortion is up. Well --

CALLER: Well, I don't think that statistic is accurate.

BENNETT: Well, I don't think it is either, I don't think it is either, because first of all, there is just too much that you don't know. But I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down. So these far-out, these far-reaching, extensive extrapolations are, I think, tricky.

The reference to Freakonomics, of course, refers to Steven Levitt's controversial, but as of yet irrefuted, research that shows a correlation between the legalization of abortion and a nationwide decrease in crime. Levitt, commenting publicly on the controversy, clarifies that he draws no significant connection between race and crime (as related to the abortion debate) and further explains:

It is true that, on average, crime involvement in the U.S. is higher among blacks than whites. Importantly, however, once you control for income, the likelihood of growing up in a female-headed household, having a teenage mother, and how urban the environment is, the importance of race disappears for all crimes except homicide.

Bennett is clearly opposed to abortion and isn't advocating the abortion of blacks, but the question for some observers is why he reflexively inserted race into a discussion about crime. Many blacks fret that much of America has an atavistic reaction to blacks in general and black men specifically. One that equates blackness with crime or crime with blackness. Others argue this is because (Levitt's findings notwithstanding) blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime in America, so it's not only understandable, but appropriate to ponder the relationship of race to crime.

What is apparent is that Bennett's comments once again demonstrates the risks of voicing controversial ideas. Bennett believes the controversy is driven by "a campaign making hay of my remarks and taking them out of context and totally reversing my obvious meaning". Some suggest that Bennett's "mistake" was publically proclaiming what many others privately believe.
An ad from Boeing claims their new chopper "descends from the heavens. Ironically it unleashes hell". Folks are not amused.
The FBI sometimes taps the wrong phones during Patriot Act-enabled terrorism investigations. That's comforting to know.
Steven Levitt weighs in on the Bill Bennett/abortion controversy. He pretty much nails it on the head I believe. Essentially Bennett was speaking off the top of his head (always a risky proposition) but reflexively going to race demonstrates a bias that is unsubstantiated by Levitt's research.

And Bennett's tepid defense is here. Along with a fisking of his comments.


A.O. Scott, writing for the New York Times, takes on the assumption that Hollywood is ruled by liberal elites. Willing to stipulate (if not entirely endorse) the notion that Hollywood has historically been ran by left-leaning folks who create movies that view the world with liberal sensibilities, Scott opines this is clearly changing. As always, the driving force behind this change are box office receipts. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ clearly showed the appetite for movies targeted to more conservative audiences and the cavalcade of right-leaning hits continue:

Last fall, "The Incredibles" celebrated Ayn Randian libertarian individualism and the suburban nuclear family, while the naughty puppets of "Team America" satirized left-wing celebrity activism and defended American global power even as they mocked its excesses. More recently we have learned that flightless Antarctic birds, according to some fans of "March of the Penguins," can be seen as big-screen embodiments of the kind of traditional domestic values that back-sliding humans have all but abandoned, as well as proof that divine intention, rather than blind chance, is the engine of creation. …The objection to such message-hunting, whether it seeks hidden agendas of the left or the right, and whether it applauds or scorns those agendas, is always the same: it's only a movie…Should movies like "Emily Rose," released by Sony, and "Just Like Heaven," from DreamWorks, be interpreted as peace offerings in the culture wars, or as canny attempts to open a new front in the endless battle for the soul of the American public? Will liberals now have a chance to complain, as conservatives have for so long, that Hollywood is ideologically biased and out of touch with its audience? Will we ever be able to sit back and say, "It's only a movie"? I hope not. The arguments we are having among ourselves are too loud and insistent to be drowned out or silenced in the false comfort of the movie theater.
But was Hollywood ever the bastion of liberalism that some critics claim? Movies like “It's a Wonderful Life”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” all were wildly successful while advocating notions of Americans that seem to be appealing to conservatives as well as liberals. Mick LaSalle, film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle writes about the impact of the nuclear bomb on cinema. A sense of festering dread and “human impermanence” that was the result of the constant threat of nuclear annihilation crated a culture that sought the comfort of normalcy, a feeling moviegoers sought in the dark, warm rooms of the cinema. The Bomb-movie-era, according to LaSalle, fed off the growing nihilism of film noir which lead to a soullessness bred from spiritual dread. Perhaps it isn’t political inclinations moviegoers seek but popular art that speaks to who they are and aspire to be. Something that has occurred with growing infrequency. Perhaps this isn’t about politics at all.

William Faulkner saw this all coming. In his Nobel banquet speech in 1950, upon winning the prize for literature, he criticized the current trend in writing as no longer being about "problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up?" He said that the writer "must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid. ... Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion."

He could have been describing movies, as well, especially movies in the decades since he spoke. "Lust without love" and victories "without pity or compassion" have become the province of popular entertainment, while movies featuring "defeats in which no one loses anything of value" are the province of independent film. But across the board, a faith that life is big, important and meaningful is missing from movies. It's what's missing, period.


Bill Bennett in trouble for touching the subjects of race and abortion. From early emails I can tell this controversy isn't going to go away. (it's a bad excerpt, one that taken out of context is tough to spin: "[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down")

I think the fuller context of the conversation changes the dynamic of the quote changes, regardless this is a chance to plug one of the my favorite books of the past year Freakonomics. We covered Levitt a while back, and it's his theories that are really the genesis of this conversation. Read the book, open your mind, and debate his ideas.


M.Scott Peck has died.
Experts say gas isn't going to get cheaper anytime soon.


Cindy Sheehan post on DailyKos about her arrest today.
Time askes How Many Mike Browns Are Out There?

(Answer: enough to cause a few restless nights)


Andrew Sullivan calls Pat Tillman's mother a "more credible" Cindy Sheehan. Did you know one of Tillman's favourite authors was Chomsky? A searing story about the death, and subsequent cover up, of a hero.
The Right-leaning blogsphere has taken Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish to task for his emotional meltdown on Meet the Press. Today Broussard met Time Russert again, and he held his own.

Listen, sir, somebody wants to nitpick a man's tragic loss of a mother because she was abandoned in a nursing home? Are you kidding? What kind of sick mind, what kind of black-hearted people want to nitpick a man's mother's death? They just buried Eva last week. I was there at the wake. Are you kidding me? That wasn't a box of Cheerios they buried last week. That was a man's mother whose story, if it is entirely broadcast, will be the epitome of abandonment. It will be the saddest tale you ever heard, a man who was responsible for safekeeping of a half a million people, mother's died in the next parish because she was abandoned there and he can't get to her and he tried to get to her through EOC. He tried to get through the sheriff's office. He tries every way he can to get there. Somebody wants to debate those things? My God, what sick-minded person wants to do that?
Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect magazine has a list of the "Top-100" public intellectuals. They're trying to whittle the list down to the Top-5. Now these lists are really just an excuse to debate and discuss, so I'd like to hear you thoughts. First, some folks have to be eliminated from the list. Francis Fukuyama, largely debunked. Send him home. Now. Christopher Hitchens, ditto.

My picks (which are avowedly very American-centric)

James Q. Wilson-even though he's generally/historically connected with UCLA (a 2nd tier university for those of you in other countries) his work with crime has impacted the lives of millions of Americans. He's also a very "public" man in that his theories have trickled down to common folks like me. Almost everyone knows (at least in passing) his "broken window" theory of crime prevention.

Fareed Zakaria-he's helped the common man and the policy maker better understand the Middle East. Obviously, ME studies is a "growth" industry for thought workers, so he's a celeb. in a hot vertical. He makes my list.

Vaclav Havel-is what we call in the business a "5-tool" intellectual. Writes, speaks, and wins elections. Gives a voice to a generation and demands that that voice be heard. Big ups for the H-Man.

Bill James, the former solder who created Sabermetrics. He's revolutionized the way sports fans see and understand the game of baseball. Students of his school of stats have gone on to become the GM's of the Oakland A's and the Los Angeles Dodgers, further changing the game, this time from the management side.

Lastly, I chose Lawrence Lessig. His work to free culture clearly as wide reaching ramifications in the digital age against a backdrop of growing corporate hegemony.


Apparently (allegedly?) Bush is drinking again. Granted, it's from the Natty Enquirer, but remember they had fewer factual errors than the NY Times during the OJ trial.
A decorated captain from the US Army describing systemic abuse in Iraq. A telling and sobering article.


More conservatives turning on the Bush administration's spending habits.


Super Girl wins China's version of American Idol and the government is scared witless. Millions of people voted and the grass roots "movement" scares the totalitarian government.
Google is launching a wi-fi service.
It appears we've won the war on terror, at least on the domestic front. Why else would the FBI be looking for recruits for its new anti-porn task force?


Robert "Reason" Reich on the paradox that drives the Bush admin. Incredibly disciplined at running and winning campaigns, incredibly inept at the act of governing. This paradox has a downside according to Reich:

The easy answer to the paradox is that Bush cares about winning elections and putting his ideological stamp on the nation, but doesn't give a hoot about governing the place. But that's no explanation because the two are so obviously connected. An administration can't impose a lasting stamp without being managed well, and a president's party can't keep winning elections if the public thinks it's composed of bumbling idiots.

The real answer is that the same discipline and organization that's made the White House into a hugely effective political machine has hobbled its capacity to govern. Blocking data from lower-level political appointees and civil servants that's inconsistent with what it wants to do or sheds doubt on its wisdom, for example, may be effective politics, in the short term. It keeps the media and the opposition party at bay.

(Speaking of Republicans at odds with reality, check out Former Rep. Bob Livingston blaming the deficiet on Clinton.)
Chip Johnson with a nice piece about the positive impact Wal-Mart is having on East Oakland.
First Andrew Sullivan and now Clinton blow their tops over the Prez. Can Bush catch a break?
Howard Kurtz takes on the MSM for finally discovering the poor. Kurtz says the press largely ignored the poor.

But why is that? This is not a story, like whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, that was difficult to get at. But journalists rarely venture into impoverished neighborhoods these days, except for quick-hit features. When a woman from one of these communities goes missing, it doesn't attain the status of a Natalee Holloway drama.
Why are some great books well received the moment they come out and others take a while to catch on? This Carlos Fuentes ponders.
Rove off the record. What a charmer he is.
Robert A. George writes about how difficult it is to be a black Republican in light of the party's seeming inddiference.

First came House Speaker Dennis Hastert openly considering "bulldozing" parts of New Orleans -- at a point when the city was still 80 percent under water, bodies were still being fished out and people were still stranded in the convention center. As we've discussed, his spokesman's attempt at damage control were hardly successful.

Then, former First Lady Barbara Bush uttered words in a radio interview which will unfortunately haunt her remaining years: "What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." Those that heard the contents state that she notably "chuckled" during the last phrase.

Now, for some, Katrina may present new opportunity. But if poor children lost their parents and were adopted by a wealthy couple, would one chuckle that things were "working well for them"?

And then, to complete the hat trick, an actual Louisiana congressman pops up telling lobbyists, "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." Baker claimed that he was misquoted or misheard or something...

Honestly, I might be inclined to give Baker the benefit of the doubt, if it didn't seem like this disaster has given Republicans the opportunity to "share" how they really feel. Similarly, under normal circumstances, I wouldn't include Barbara Bush's comments. But, not this time. It just happens to often to ignore them anymore.


At least Bill Clinton's new group Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) isn't biting off more than they can chew. CGI's goals: wiping out poverty, ending conflict, rolling back climate change and promoting better governance worldwide.

(If you're going to take a cut, swing for the fences)
Hat tip, daily kos The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published this legal guide for bloggers.
The Dutch are going to create a database that stores information on ever citizen from the time they are born until they leave this earth. Privacy concerns notwithstanding, I actually am supportive of this idea.
The rabid-right enjoyed such success going after Dan Rather during memogate it looks like they're trying it again with the entire "potty photo" issue. Reuters explains how the photo came to be taken, the process of getting it on the wires, etc. They also mention that they used Photoshop to balance the colors in the photo. A process, according to the article, that is common and clearly legitimate. So what headline does Drudge run the article under?

"REUTERS has acknowledged Bush 'Potty Note' photo was enhanced via photoshop..."

Bottom line, don't let the so-called conservative cabal mislead with the headline. The note wasn't altered in any significant way by the press. Nice try guys, but if you're going to go after the "liberal media" try toning down your bias.
'Liberal Comedian Sues Blogger' So reads the headline as Garrison Keillor sues a blogger. Horrible PR move Mr. Keillor. Keillor jeopardizes whatever catchet he might have had.
Arianna Huffington is interviewed in Wired about her new blogging venture The Huffington Post. She too has gotten religion when it comes to blogs, especially in constrast to the MSM:

The problem isn't that the stories I care about aren't being covered, it's that they aren't being covered in the obsessive way that breaks through the din of our 500-channel universe. Because those 500 channels don't mean we get 500 times the examination and investigation of worthy news stories. It often means we get the same narrow, conventional-wisdom wrap-ups repeated 500 times. Paradoxically, in these days of instant communication and 24-hour news channels, it's actually easier to miss information we might otherwise pay attention to. That's why we need stories to be covered and re-covered and re-re-covered and covered again -- until they filter up enough to become part of the cultural bloodstream. As for improving the quality of journalism, we must (find) ways to give mainstream journalism what it most desperately needs: a spine transplant.

The aptly names sportswriter Field Maloney asks us to consider the contrasting fates of the two biggest country club sports; golf and tennis.

Golf's popularity originally surged in the late 1950s and '60s. You had a golf-nut president, Dwight Eisenhower, and a charismatic regular-guy star, Arnold Palmer… Yet, during the '70s and into the early '80s, tennis appeared poised to grab the limelight. Golf seemed too fusty and stiff for prime time, too male, too redolent of Republicans and retirees, less prepared to shed its exclusive aura. Tennis courts could be found in neighborhoods rich and poor, and the sport already had its Tiger Woods figure: Arthur Ashe.

However similar their popular beginnings, it’s clear that golf is the dominant sport in American life. More people watch, play, and frankly, get excited about golf than tennis, and this has tennis fans and players scratching their heads. Maloney claims this divergence has come because golf has held onto its elitism, which ironically fuels its populism:

The irony is that golf has thrived and tennis withered precisely because tennis has worked so hard to expand into a wider demographic.
In the '70s and '80s, more public courts were built, more outreach programs were started, and racquets got cheaper and easier to use. Andre Agassi, in his younger, wilder years, played in black denim and lime-green Lycra.

Noting that the Bush’s, a tennis and golf family, appears to take pains to demonstrate an affinity for golf over tennis, Maloney opines that tennis has become more than just uncool, politically it’s the jock version of having a poodle:

Tennis has become a political liability: effete, preppy, what high-schoolers call a "wussy sport." Whereas golf, no matter how fey the links attire or how pricey the greens fees, has become so solidly red-blooded and all-American that even our folksy president can embrace it.

As a tennis fan and player, I too am dismayed by the relative lack of interest in the game. It’s populated by some of the most attractive stars in sports, currently has a player that is so immensely talented he draws comparisons to the greatest to ever step on the court, and can be played for free in just about any city in America. So what can be done? Impede the racket “arms-race” by deadening the balls? Playing the game on the moon? Reaching out even more to the inner-city in the hopes of bringing a new demographic to the game? Perhaps all tennis needs is for someone to produce a tennis version of Caddyshack.

The Slurpee is 40, raise a cup for me.
Dare to dream. America needed a five bladed razor and America got one. Oh yeah...


As we discussed yesterday, Delta and Northwest both filed for bankruptcy protection.
Apparently the President of the United States asks Connie to go potty.
Continuing the innovation, Google has added a blog search engine. Kudos


Northwest Airlines and Delta both could file for Chp. 11 protection as soon as tomorrow. This can't be good for the economic prospects of America over the near term, but it might be a sign that our system actually works well over the long run.

Inefficient carriers burdened with ancient labor agreements and hub-and-spoke flight models are being crushed by newer (read: smarter, more efficient) airlines. This story has been played out ad nasuem by the financial press, so it's important to remember that this is a healthy (though painful) development of that larger dynamic.
Technorati-bombing, the new scourge of the web. Well, not really, but it's a bummer nonetheless.
CA lawmakers pass a bill that makes it a crime to sell violent videogames to minors. Not everyone is happy with AB1179.
Michael Kinsley is leaving the LA Times. And from this email he sent to staffers it appears the break-up is "bitter".

Kinsley is amazingly talented and the little interaction I've had with him has impressed me with his intellect, drive, and unique perspective. My guess, he'll have a new job within a month.
Bush admits responsibility for screw-ups related to Katrina.

Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government. And to the extent that the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility.

In other news, hell has, indeed, frozen over.
At last! Wal-Mart has a blog...
"All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved."-Sun Tzu

Fresh on the heels of his hostile takeover of Peoplesoft, Larry Ellison has made another of his former proteges bow to his will. Beleaguered CRM maker Siebel, still nominally headed by Ellison's rival Thomas Siebel, announced they are being bought by Oracle for the tune of $3.61 billion. (Actual purchase price is close to $6b minus the $2b+ Siebel has sitting around in petty cash).

The purchase allows Oracle, the world's largest database manufacture, to potentially migrate millions of Sielbel's CRM customers over to their technology stack. The purchase instantly makes Oracle the largest CRM company in the world, and more clearly sets the contrast between traditional client server software manufactures and those who advocate an on-demand model. Most notable among the on-demand camp is former Oracle sales executive and current Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff. Speaking at the SFDC conference Benioff said:

"When I was at Oracle, we watched Computer Associates buy all those mainframe software companies and milk them for their license revenue. I never thought that's what Oracle would be doing one day, and yet, here it is."

Industry watchers are mixed, some are concerned about a coming lack of innovation in a rapidly consolidating space, others feel Oracle has instantly given a lift to one of their most unsophisticated divisions (CRM/PRM), others think it will have little impact on a space that has clearly matured.

Regardless of what this deal appears to be on the surface, the x-factor is clearly the man at the helm, Larry Ellison. He's vanquished most of his rivals in Silicon Valley, clearly has his sights set once again on Redmond, just agreed to pay $100 million to charity to settle an insider trading case, and is reminding everyone that the art of war is based on deception.
A defense of fat Americans. We've got that going for us.
The Gaurdian with a nice piece abut junk, no, bad, science.


Mark Fiore's latest cartoon has a surprisingly sober denouement.
It's a long shot, but it's not too late to lobby Arnold to sign the bill allowing gay marriage. Here's a link with the contact information needed to lobby TheGov.
Nice to know Yahoo! is doing its part to make sure Chinese dissidents go to jail. Profits vs. human rights sadly seems to be an easy conflict for most companies to resolve.


Hunter S. Thompson's suicide note. Now we know; he was a little off.
Oh come on now.

Rep. Baker of Baton Rouge is overheard telling lobbyists: "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did."
Turning to his pre-war address to the UN Security Council, when he forcefully made the case for invasion and offered proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, General Powell said that he felt terrible about the claims he made. Asked whether the speech would tarnish his reputation, he replied: "Of course it will. It;s a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world, and (it) will always be part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now." -

That's former Sec. of State Colin Powell in a candid interview. He blames himself and the Bush administration for the half-truths that led up to the war and slams BushCo. horrifically mismanaging the occupation. It's tempting to say "better late than never", if it weren't for all those pesky dead bodies.
Mubarak wins with over 88% of the vote in Egypt. Turn-out was below 25%, which highlights the fact that the Bush admin. shouldn't take a bow just yet for bringing democracy to the region.
The Onion, helping us laugh at tragedy...
Jack Shafer at Slate reminds us that late Chief Justice Rehnquist was once addicted to Placidyl. An addiction so severe he required hospitalization in 1982. Shafer mentions that most obit omitted this aspect of his life (as is SOP for the MSM) and reminds us why it's worth remembering today:

The Rehnquist story deserves a third airing today if only to illustrate the ugly double standards that excuse extreme drug use by the powerful, especially if their connection is a prescribing doctor, and condemns to draconian prison terms the guy who purchases his drugs on the street.


So the Gov. will veto the gay marriage bill. A craven political act from a man who promised better.
Once again The Onion pushing the boundries and getting the first laugh.


If FEMA head Michael Brown makes it through the month, it will be a miracle. (But on the other hand, this is the administration that gives out Medals of Freedom for lethal levels of incompetence). More examples of FEMA's deadly ineffectiveness.


Sulli taking Bush to task for Katrina.


The message is short. So short it would fit on a postcard. It lingers in cyberspace waiting for a response.

"Family of 4 willing, wanting to help. Can drive to get you. Stay as long as you need to here in Albuquerque. God bless you. We care. Howard and Lisa Neil."

More than 2,000 messages on Craigslist offering housing to hurrican survivors. Sometimes the goodness of people is nothing short of amazing.
Anne Rice, writing in the New York Times, asks us if we really "Know what it means to lose New Orleans"?

Nature has done what the Civil War couldn't do. Nature has done what the labor riots of the 1920's couldn't do. Nature had done what "modern life" with its relentless pursuit of efficiency couldn't do. It has done what racism couldn't do, and what segregation couldn't do either. Nature has laid the city waste - with a scope that brings to mind the end of Pompeii.

Kudos to Rice for taking on the issue of race, adding another perspective, and writing from the heart.

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.


Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has died tonight.
The music offers further evidence of how far outside rap's usual strictures West operates. OutKast aside, mainstream hip-hop doesn't really do ambiguity or irony, but just as West's arrogance occasionally appears to be a protracted joke, Late Registration finds him in thrillingly subversive form, working in the production booth to undercut tracks' messages and shifting their meanings.-The Guardian

Kanye West’s new album Late Registration has hit the shelves and it’s clear that the producer/rapper/mini-mogul is leaving an indelible mark on music. West’s beats have either showed everything that’s right (or wrong) with rap by fusing Buppie sensibilities, a thoughtfulness that’s unusual for rap, and the hooks that are a pre-requisite for a mega-platinum career.

Kanye is willing to take on issues that extend beyond the usual rap fare. On the new album he takes on Reagan for pumping crack into black neighborhoods on the track “Crack Music”, condemns the blood diamond trade on “Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)”, and takes on racial profiling in “Heard ‘em Say”. Off the wax he’s noteworthy as well. Whether it’s taking on the current President because he “doesn’t care about black people” in the wake of the fed’s tepid response to Katrina, or the rap world’s overt homophobia, it’s apparent Kanye isn’t afraid to take a stance.

Politics and style aside, what makes Kanye a singular talent is his music. As Time Magazine wrote in their recent cover article, “Jesus Walks (off of Kanye’s freshman album) is one of those miraculous songs that you hear for the first time and immediately look forward to hearing on a semiregular basis for the next 30 or 40 years.” Rolling Stone lauds the new album as well:

If this album has an emotional stunner a la "Jesus Walks," it's "Hey Mama," where West honors his mother, who had to work nights to keep on the lights. It loops a simple la-la-la vocal hook into a soul-sonic force, like Side Two of Prince's Sign 'o' the Times after aliens hacked into it. It's the best family-affair tearjerker since Ghostface's "All That I Got Is You," as West raps, "Can I cry, please?/Gimme a verse of 'You Are So Beautiful to Me.'"
Video of Kanye West's rant can be seen here.
CNN has compiled a list of administration quotes and juxtaposed them against the reality on the ground.
As always, Craigslist is demonstrating a value far beyond anyone's wildest dreams. A page with Katrina relief information can be found here.
Kanye West letting his frustration boil over last night:

"George Bush doesn't care about black people" and said America is set up "to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off as slow as possible."

Telethon host Matt Lauer backed away from Kayne's comments as quickly as possible but it's apparent that there is an OJ-esque rift in America that Katrina is exposing.

Camille Paglia is writing a little more frequently these days. It's good to have her back. Her take on Katrina and the administration's shortcomings.

What is highly surprising now is the disintegration of the administration's mask of competence and confidence, as New Orleans sinks day by day into squalor and savagery, a shocking panorama of unrelieved human suffering.


Oh, you're kidding me. You've got to be kidding me. Hat tip (as always) to Sulli, but can you belive these words from Bush today?

"The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.' (Laughter)." - president George W. Bush, today. Just think of that quote for a minute; and the laughter that followed. The poor and the black are dying, dead, drowned and desperate in New Orleans and elsewhere. But the president manages to talk about the future "fantastic" porch of a rich, powerful white man who only recently resigned his position because he regretted the failure of Strom Thurmond to hold back the tide of racial desegregation.
Apparently the members of our major media organizations have rediscovered their role. You are not publicity arms for whatever administration is in power, you are the watch dogs of our democracy. Cowards hiding behind microphones. Your collusion with irrelevance doesn't allow you to avoid the impact of your (in)decision.
A lot of you have written and asked about my lack of posting related to Katrina and the aftermath. I really don't have too much to add other than what has been discussed by others more qualified to do so. (Hurricaid is a great resource for all things Katrina).

Best wishes and our prayers (and hopefully some dollars too) go out to the good folks in Gulf Coast.


Whites "find" food in New Orleans and blacks "loot" food. Interesting distinction from the AP.


So now the Assn. of Christian Schools International is suing the UC system because they don't value schools that teach creationism in admissions process. The assault on knowledge and common sense continues.


Virginia Postrel has famously written about design, both in her columns and her book, The Substance of Style. She coined the term "esthetic economy", celebrating the fact that the cost of style has decreased to the point that good design has reached into the lives of more people, and perhaps more significantly, indicating a world where basic needs have been met and increasingly value being perceived from style. The esoteric nature of design discussions has taken a very serious turn over the past few weeks with a controversial redesign that is cracking wide fissures that may be too deep to repair.

The Daily Show has changed their set.

The new set both evokes and mocks the hyper-kinetic visual space of the cable news channels and at the same time is intended to create a unified atmosphere that puts funny man Jon Stewart on center stage.

"I thought it was important to get Jon more at the center of things, so that he was more clearly the epicenter of the visual set," said James Biber, an architect with the New York firm Pentagram who led the set project, "And to strip away a lot of the talk-show cues, like the couch. It's not a talk show."

The erstwhile couch is where the battle line is drawn between those who appreciate the changes and those who despise them.

The advantages of the couch format are multifold. Guests can not only be seen from head to foot, giving us a sense of their physical presence, their posture, and even their choice of shoes; they can also use the space however they want. They're free to hump the couch, as Al Green did in a Daily Show interview earlier this year, or jump up on it and make asses of themselves, like Tom Cruise on Oprah last May.

An underground campaign to bring back the couch has received support from a Daily Show correspondent, hinting at how deep the division is.

The set redesign truly is a matter of some serious thought on the part of the producers. They felt the show was changing in terms of tone and wanted to have a set that would reflect Stewart's new, more aggressive style. Pentagram was also the team that created the design elements of the widely successful book America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction and wsimilarlyily tasked with creating something that was evocative of an American standard (i.e. a high-school text-book) and simultaneously derisive.
Related to our discussion about lethargy in conservatism today, it's worth noting that the Weekly Standard has celebrated it's 10th anniversary. As Virginia reminds us at the Dynamist, perhaps their greatest accomplishment was lighting a fire under The National Review.
Shocking photos from Iraq but an amazing example of photojournalism from Salon. The Unseen War isn't easy to look at, but it can be considered important nonetheless.
Flickr fans are going to committ mass ID suicide to complain about Yahoo's new policy. Super!
As a man who struggles with clutter it's nice to see that wires, messy rooms, and general disarray, is actually cool.
Dell Computers, the little company that could, is struggling now that it has turned 21 and grown into a global behemoth. The business press, long Dell’s loudest and most ardent supporter, has turned on the company, gleefully chronicling a series of problems. Dell has been seen as a company whose governance has been strong and ethically, the symbol of the flattening of the global economy, and perhaps most importantly, a spectacular growth stock. A series of challenges has changed the tone and tenor of the reporting. As Dan Gross writes over at Slate:

There has been a disappointing earnings report, complaints about customer service, unflattering stock charts, and a rash of articles questioning Dell's future—Business Week had two negative Dell articles in its current issue, and the Financial Times had a critical takeout last week.

Perhaps worst of all, Dell’s stock has been mired in mediocre (certainly by Dell’s standards) returns and has had its lunch handed to it by once struggling HP over the past year.

And when it comes to bad press there are few PR teams that can manage the publicity nightmare that comes with pissing off a powerful blogger.

Flattening earnings, downward price pressures, the inherent lethargy that plagues companies of Dell’s size, and challenges associated with breaking into new global markets are all contributing to the struggles of one of the most successful companies in the history of mankind.

While it’s certainly too early to write Dell’s epitaph industry watchers are wondering how the company can regain its once formidable stride.
On May 13th, the authorities in Uzbekistan opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of close to 10,000 people in the eastern city of Andijan, probably killing several hundred of them and possibly as many as 1,000. According to survivors, tanks rolled through the main square, firing indiscriminately, snipers picked off their victims from convenient buildings, and, later on, soldiers shot some of the wounded dead. That was three months ago. Since then, the European Union and America have expressed their horror at the worst massacre of demonstrators since Tiananmen Square by imposing the following sanctions on Uzbekistan:

So writes the Economist as they chastise western indifference to a regime that engaging in atrocious behavior.
Uzbekistan has enjoyed the ability to terrorize her citizens largely because of the inaction and ineffectiveness of America and the EU. The United States has offered a veiled rebuke for the attacks and has publicly claimed that it is waiting for Europe to take the lead on Uzbekistan. The EU demanded that the Uzbekistany government comply with an investigation by July 1st, “or else”. July came and went, as has August, and the EU hasn’t decided what the “or else” is to be.

Comparisons to the US and EU’s realpolitiks with Chechnya have been made. However few have argued that the west’s interests lie with Uzbekistan as it does with Chechnya.

Whether it’s kicking the US out of its military bases, slaughtering innocent protesters and forcing their “confessions”, or jailing members of the media, autocratic President Islam Karimov has enjoyed a level of international anonymity that allows a disturbing level of independence.
The Grapple in the Big Apple is set. Galloway v. Hitchens in the Iraq War debate to end all deabates. (Uh, until the next one).


If you need to get your fix of George Bush flags in poo, there's only one place to go.
Recent proclamations by doctors have renewed the debate around practices that cut to the core of what it means to be a man or a woman. On the heels of a study that says male circumcision may reduce the risk of HIV transmission by 65% the unkindest cut is once again being publicly debated. Not only are the health benefits of circumcision being questioned some claim that a lifetime of diminished sexual experience is a large price to pay for what amounts to a religious superstition. The anti-circumcision movement is growing converts and though their platform hasn’t changed much. As Emily Bazelon summarizes for Slate readers:

Circumcision is painful, irreversible surgery to which newborn boys cannot consent. Its health benefits are marginal and overstated. And far from being an extraneous bit of flesh, the foreskin is "richly endowed with specialized nerves," making it "the principal site of sexual sensation" in a man who has one.

From calls to lawmakers make genital mutilation a crime, to those who believe it’s simply a matter of educating the populace, the anti-circumcision movement is enjoying a renaissance.

Another article from a doctor is creating a stir in certain circles as well. Dr. Keith Ablow writing in the New York Times says that the relatively new practice of men joining their wives in the delivery room may need to be reexamined.

It is miraculous to see a baby's head emerge, and it can also be shocking. It is riveting to see an umbilical cord connecting mother and baby, but it can also be very disturbing. It is exciting to be asked by a doctor to cut that umbilical cord, but also potentially very frightening, even for otherwise rather fearless men.
And not every man gets over it. Several men have confessed to me that they never regained the same romantic view of their wives that they had before seeing them deliver children.

Men’s diminished sexual desire for their wives seems like an understandable, if not totally forgivable, offense, but the debate has seems to have struck a chord with many woman. As Meghan O'Rourke worte in Slate:

What was nonetheless striking about the debate was the vehemence of the hostility directed at these men. The bloggers clearly felt that the men's desire (or lack of it) was objectively wrong, like that of a pedophile or a rapist, and ought somehow to be controllable. The animus against these men reflects just how powerful even relatively new cultural norms can be—and just how conflicted are our post-feminist ideas about what kind of imaginative relationship to the body is appropriate…At the crux of the debate is one of most important and vexed questions of modern feminism: How far into our imaginations should it reach?
So now we are getting additional perspective on the monetary cost of the War on Terror (or whatever the term is today).

In constant inflation-adjusted dollars, the current conflict is the fourth most costly US war, behind World War II, Vietnam, and Korea. (See chart below.)

By the end of September, its projected military cost will be $252 billion. The amount spent on the war in Iraq ($186 billion) and Afghanistan ($66 billion) is "inching up" on the cost of the Korean War, says Steven Kosiak, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment in Washington. CSBA provided the estimate based on government data.


Coffee is better than vegetables (sort of).


Austin Bramwell writing for the The American Conservative questions the right's intellectual vibrancy now that it has reached an unprecedented pinnacle. Once a relatively small group of outsiders, conservatives in the west now find themselves controlling the House, the Senate, the White House, and large swaths of popular thought. This, Bramwell posits, is leading to a lethargy that is undermining one of the most innovative political movements of our time. Having won so much conservatives seem afraid to challenge the status quo:

Though every year the conservative movement raises thousands of aspiring intellectuals, they have no interest in creating a new intellectual synthesis. If they go into academia or the think-tank world, they contribute to research projects long under way; if they go into journalism, they defend an established editorial line. In blogosphere parlance, they become "instapundits", not philosophers.

Conservatives (still) strive for the "Holy Grail" of political philosophy, a doctrine that would prove, once and for all, the inherent limits of liberalism and the fundamental truths tharesonatete through the doctrines that drive conservative thought. Even though "the wisest conservatives know that the Grail reamains beyond their graspsps. Yet, like Arthurian knights of old, they never give up hope that it is there." However, this striving today resembles nothing so much as a self-congratulatory circle jerk.

Bramwell implies that the circular nature of life holds a near religious sway over political philosopy. A fact that is comforting and simultaneously disqueting, regardless of political leanings. The rise, and subsequent demise, of the left in the west offers a cautionary tale for the preminent political powers of today. Liberalism's reign began to erode shortly after the new deal.

Intellectual sclerosis, however, soon set in. Second-tier intellects such as Arthur Schlesinger and John Kenneth Galbraith took over from Lippmann and Dewey and began to take liberal ideology as a given. They proposed not new ways of understanding the world but new ways of advancing liberalism. In the hour of their triumph, liberals became blind to their own ideological shortcomings, which later became all too manifest.

A cautionary tale, perhaps, but there are notable thinkers still plying the trade on the right, he mentions three loosely defined groups:
The academics of the Critical Review, the so-called evolutionary conservatives, and techno-skeptic conservatives. All groups are unabashedly elitist, a description that is nothing less than an endearment.

This elitism, perhaps an electoral handicap, is an intellectual strength. Original thinking often flourishes under conditions of intellectual marginality. Unfortunately, the conservative movement, having discovered a mass audience, risks squandering the intellectual marginality that once made it so interesting and daring.

In future years, it may take a smaller, elite group of right-wingers to animate conservative ideas once more.

So while ThomasFrank et. al. ponder the problems of Kansas, perhaps liberals should find solace in that all seismic poli-intellectual movements plant the seeds of their destruction soon after their mosbountifulul harvest


A story of socialism that works. If nothing else, I agree with Kaiser's summary, we can learn from the educational component of Finnish society.


Is meth is the new crack? But rock, was it ever all it was cracked up to be?

Methamphetamines has grown into a cover-worthy epidemic.Newsweek chronicles the perils of “America’s Most Dangerous Drug”, complete with a photo essay and cringe-worthy anecdotes. While no one doubts the risks of ingesting potentially addictive substances, some are questioning the actual extent of the danger.

As Steve Suo, a writer for the Oregonian who has covered the meth explosion extensively opines:

Media coverage of the issue too often has been laden with generalizations, hyperbole and sensational images. Reporters, with rare exception, have been slow to challenge the conventional wisdom handed to them by purported experts on the topic.

Others have questioned the methodology and numbers (or lack thereof) that have driven much of the media’s breathless coverage of the issue.

For all Newsweek's hysteria, it fails to deliver. For instance, if meth is America's most dangerous drug, how many people has it killed? Newsweek doesn't bother to explore the topic, perhaps because it's so hard to pin down. In 2000, Oahu recorded 35 deaths, Phoenix 105, and Los Angeles 155. Meanwhile, New York City recorded only three that year, while Long Island claimed 38. According to Fred Leavitt's 1982 book, Drugs & Behavior, about one usage in 2 million ends in a fatality. If meth is really the most dangerous drug, you'd think the magazine would have provided some sort of body count

Larger questions about the role of drugs in America, public policy related to treatment and/or prosecution of drug user, and perhaps most importantly, the media’s responsibility to the public’s trust are brought up by a story that seems to reappear like clockwork, every decade. So is meth the new crack? And should we care?
When it's third and ten, you can take the milk drinkers and I'll take the whiskey drinkers every time.- Max McGee

The biggest sport in America is about to return and football fans are ready. Before us armchair prognosticators make our picks about which team can possibly hold back the dawning juggernaut that is the Patriots, it's worth looking back at an eventful pre-season.

Receivers are always quote and note-worthy, and this summer is no different. The biggest off-season story is the maelstrom that swirls around uber-grabber Terrell Owens. Less than a year after pulling a Willis Reed and valiantly leading the Eagles to 1st runner-up status, the goodwill he earned has all been engulfed by his battles with Philadelphiaa teammates and coaches. While not making the media circuit with new agent Drew Rosenhaus, or busting out those freaky-ripped abs in his driveway, TO spent this summer trying to figure out a way to renege on the second year of a seven year contract. The City of Brotherly Love was not amused. All may be forgiven if McNabb and TO can produce (akward silence and all) like they did in their first pre-season game together.

Not to be out done, brand new Oakland Raider Randy Moss admitted that, yeah, he's toked the green bud a few times. Not an earthshaking revelation if he wasn't employed by a league mired in the mid-20th century, and he's had a ahem past with pot.

Infinitely more serious is the situation at the 49er's camp. While #1 overall pick Alex Smith struggled to learn the QB position in the big leagues, his teammate from Utah, and fellow Niner rookie Thomas Herrion showed how fleeting it all can be. Shortly following a preseason game Herrion collapsed and died. An autopsy was inconclusive but pundits have speculated that Herrion's 300+ pounds and the incredible rigors of playing football in the NFL led to his death. Herrion's passing was a stunning reminder that we (should) play and watch games to embrace life, not replace it.

Regardless of New England's recent run, the NFL is still a league beset by parity, so make your picks now. After all, since some of the smart money is picking the Cardinals to be this year's Chargers, we definitely know anything is possible.