Archives for May, 2003

Line of the Day

The dance numbers, I should add, are technically called “fight scenes.” But when the fighters are uninjurable ghosts and gods, when their steps are carefully choreographed, and when the music is closely timed to their movements, they qualify as dance…. Fighting? Please. This is a “Chicago” for guys.

Jesse Walker, reviewing “the Matrix Reloaded.” Ironically, Jesse’s blogspot banner ad keeps plugging a book called “Why the Left Hates America.”

Posted on May 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What Life Is

At home on a vacation half-day, dealing with the plumber, the cable gal, and associated home-front minutia. I’m reminded of the hilarious Home Depot marriage-proposal scene from the last episode of Six Feet Under. Standing in the tool section, examining power drills, Ruth says to her older-gentleman friend (paraphrasing): “Let’s get married. I can’t stand coming to places like this alone anymore.”

Older-gentleman-friend, melancholically: “Yes–that’s what life is after all, isn’t it? Coming to places like this.”

Posted on May 30, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Sullum at Cato

There’s a policy forum at Cato today on Jacob Sullum’s new book, Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use. You can watch it live here. From the provocative title you’d think Sullum was going to show up in a Nehru jacket and a cloud of dopesmoke and wax disjointed, a la Timothy Leary. But Sullum’s a sober, serious guy; from what I know of his work, I expect a rigorous debunking of anti-drug hysteria–a refutation of the idea that under a regime of drug decriminalization, we’d all be reduced to so many lab rats pawing the lever for more cocaine pellets.

I was pretty young when I adopted a radical skepticism toward antidrug hysteria. Freshman year of high school, we had a mandatory schoolwide assembly to warn us about drugs. It was led by the sort of public-school antidrug counselor who’d snorted a lot of coke a few years back and then 12-stepped his way into a government paycheck as a professional “recovering addict,” haranguing kids about their powerlessness over drugs. He’d adopted a sort of Baptist Preacher style, and I’ll never forget when he intoned: “People are puttin’ ACID in their BODIES! ACID in their BODIES!! Man, you put that on the hood of your CAR and it will EAT through your CAR!!!”

Now, I’d never done any drugs, but I had read No One Here Gets Out Alive, and I knew damn well that the kind of acid you put on your tongue wasn’t the kind that ate through your car. I never believed anything they told me about drugs again.

Posted on May 29, 2003 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Blogging? That’s so 2002.

Posted on May 28, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Zap Your Attacker

Two cool new self-defense gadgets that will, no doubt, soon be banned in D.C.:

Exo-electric armor in the form of a trenchcoat:

When charged, the jacket crackles audibly. A pair of slits in the outer lining shows the electric arcs that course across the entire middle layer. It’s an impressive display of the jacket’s power.

When charged, the jacket sparks and emits an “evil” crackling sound.
Whiton said the “really evil crackling sound” makes him flinch involuntarily: The shocks he received testing the jacket conditioned him to associate the sound with pain.


The Plasma-Taser, which “will not need any wires because it fires an aerosol spray towards the target, which creates a conductive channel for a shock current.” Both links courtesy of Noah Schactman’s supercool DefenseTech site.

Posted on May 23, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Rosa Parks of the Commode

There’s a Chinese curse that goes “may you live in interesting times.” Legally speaking, we certainly do. The federal government’s contemplating Panopticon-style surveillance, asserting the right to strip Americans of their citizenship and lock them up indefinitely, and flirting with the militarization of civilian life. There’s plenty here for legal scholars to explore.

So what kind of cutting-edge scholarship is emerging from my alma mater, the University of Chicago Law School? Mary Ann Case’s gender-focused toilet survey.

Professor Case describes the survey as “an attempt to collect information on how the other half lives.” The current issue of University of Chicago magazine elaborates:

The project—after several years she’s collected hundreds of surveys for a planned law-review article—was spurred by Case’s research into the history of constitutional arguments for equal protection of the sexes. Believing the law rarely should distinguish between males and females, she advocates “a model akin to the typical airline toilet,” providing ultimate privacy without segregation (though she’s learned that many women prefer a same-sex environment).

And don’t even get her started about men leaving the seat up. “We shall oooveercoooome…”

Lord. It was bad enough going to the institution that produced John Ashcroft and Carol Mosely Braun. Now I have to suffer this?

Posted on May 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Taste and Tyranny

The Fort-Worth Star Telegram points out that “from Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler, history’s most evil tyrants are also the tackiest interior designers,” and has the photo spread to prove it.

Continuing with that theme, the BBC has a slideshow of Saddam’s Conan-the-Barbarian themed art. Again, MTV Cribs should market a dictator-focused spinoff for the era of regime change. As Brooke says, “Money can’t buy you taste.”

Posted on May 18, 2003 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Matrix Reheated

I yield to no one in my appreciation for the original Matrix. It combined mind-massaging ruminations on Robert Nozick’s “experience machine” with black pleather and kickass kung fu. But the new Matrix? Skip it. It’s as pompous as a Queensryche concept album, and about as thrilling. It’s 2003’s answer to Tron.

Posted on May 16, 2003 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Making a Federal Case Out of It

So, really, is there anything–anything at all–that shouldn’t be a federal case? They’re are six federal agencies investigating the friggin Great White fire in Warwick, RI, and now this: CNN reports that U.S. Attorney James Comey is exploring whether to file federal charges (probably for mail fraud I’d guess) against Jayson Blair, the NYT’s answer to Stephen Glass. “The newspaper did not elaborate on what the fraud investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office encompasses, but it has been detailing in its pages allegations against the former reporter.” James Comey’s every bit as much a disgrace to his profession as Jayson Blair was to his.

Posted on May 14, 2003 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Letter from Bill

Jeez, the Heritage Foundation picked a hell of a time to have Bill Bennett do their direct mail pitch. Nonetheless, I had a letter from Bill on Heritage letterhead waiting for me when I got home yesterday.

Dear Fellow American:

What do you think of the anti-war left?

Do you think they’re a threat, or just infuriating?

Gee I don’t know Bill. They seem like nice people, and their hearts are in the right place, but then again, I can’t stand the smell of patchouli. Is there a choice (c)?

I agree that requiring that a moral critic be morally pure would probably put a stop to moral criticism–and so would be unwise. But this is a little ripe, isn’t it:

To give you an idea of how morally at sea our young people are, here are some results from a nation-wide survey of college students I commissioned last year:

37% of the students said they would be likely to evade a draft were it reinstituted; 21% of students would be willing to serve but only if stationed in the U.S.; and only 35% of students would be willing to serve and fight anywhere in the world.

That puts at least 56% of our nation’s yout’ ahead of Bennett, who sat out the ‘Nam with a draft deferment.

Posted on May 13, 2003 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Greatest Album Title Ever

Ministry: “A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste”

Worst album title ever:

REO Speedwagon: “You Can Tune a Piano, But You Can’t Tuna Fish”

Other entries?

Posted on May 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

Lifestyles of the Mad and Tyrannical

More grotesquely fascinating details about North Korea’s diminutive dictator–a man evil and crazy enough to be eligible for tattoo space on Mike Tyson’s back–in today’s WaPo.

Choi [the South Korean movie star kidnapped by Kim] told a story that made the Dear Leader seem almost charming: One day, he came for a visit and asked, “What do you think of my physique?”

She hesitated, pondering how to answer such a question when it comes from a short, dumpy dictator known to execute his enemies.

“Small as a midget’s turd, aren’t I?” he said, smiling.

The article also reveals that on her diplomatic mission to North Korea in 2000, Madeline Halfbright presented the Dear Leader–a hoops fan–with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan.

Posted on May 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Mmm. Chitlins.

Here’s a link for the good folks putting together the “Our D.C.” guide: a listing of soul-food and suchlike joints in the District. Thanks to Moller for the heads-up.

Posted on May 11, 2003 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

The Grisly Answer

How it was done according to Aron Ralston:

A day after his first attempt to cut his arm, Ralston said he went through the motions of applying a tourniquet, laying out bike shorts to use for padding and readying his “surgical table.” He worked out how to get through the bone with the “multi-tool”-type knife he carried.

On the fifth day, he summoned up all his technique and nerve.

“I was able to first snap the radius and then within another few minutes snap the ulna at the wrist and from there, I had the knife out and applied the tourniquet and went to task. It was a process that took about an hour,” he said.

He also puts in a good word for National Prayer Day.

Posted on May 9, 2003 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


Saw it last night. I liked the “mutant Waco” scene, where jackbooted federal thugs storm the Xavierian “compound” and get filleted by Wolverine. But the thing that really puzzled me was “channel changer boy”–the little kid who shows up in the preceding scene, whose powers seem to consist of the ability to stay up late and channel surf via telekinesis. Of all the silly powers on display in the movie that’s got to be one of the most useless. I suppose it is marginally more convenient to be able to change the channel by blinking your eyes rather than pointing the remote. But it’s the kind of power that would only appeal to the very laziest of stoners. I wonder, do the other X-kids have to hunt for channel-changer boy when they want to watch TV, like I have to hunt for the remote under the couch cushions? “Hey: where the hell is Timmy? I wanna watch Alias.” “Timmy: I’m gonna be out fighting Magneto. Use your TiVo power and tape Six Feet Under for Me!”

Posted on May 8, 2003 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments