Archives for March, 2004

Punditry by the Tinkle

I’m increasingly finding blogs annoying. Both reading them and having one. I find myself thinking “WHY am I checking this guy’s site again just because he updates 17 times a day?” With some people, between brain and blog, there is no interlocutor, to paraphrase Hesh. So I feel guilty for reading them.

But having a blog is even worse. I find myself feeling vaguely guilty for not formulating and writing down an opinion on, say, the Spanish elections, or Richard Clarke. It’s like an irksome social obligation that you haven’t met and sits in the back of your mind, like a thank-you letter you still haven’t sent.

(Oh wait: I just did formulate an opinion on Clarke. His opening rhetorical gambit in front of the 9/11 Commission was a classic Washington non-apology apology–a mea culpa that doesn’t admit responsiblity for anything. “I’m sorry: even though I was unbelievably prescient about the threat represented by OBL, I couldn’t get our chuckle-headed president to do anything about it. And for that I ask your forgiveness. Buy my book.” But the Bush team’s response has been at least as contemptible. In logical structure, it’s no different than the Clintonites’ response to the latest victim of presidential grabass. “The president groped me.” Response: “She’s a stalker. She’s a self-promoter. She’s got an agenda. She hates the president.” Umm, yes, but did the president grope her?

Might be we could learn a few things from the senior counterterrorism adviser to two presidents, even if his motivations aren’t entirely pure. Are we supposed to wait for revelations from a Washington insider with pure motives?)

Then if I end up starting a post, I feel lousy if it’s not particularly original. Lacking the time or inspiration to devote the effort I did a year ago to arguing against the Iraq war, this blog has degenerated into a series of smartass remarks about George W. Bush and links I think are cool. Who knows, maybe it’s better that way. Kevin Smith tried to mature away from dick jokes and he ended up with Ben Affleck crying in the fetal position. Maybe I’ll stick to the snark.

In any event, this is just by way of saying, I’ve lost that blogging feeling. I’ve got other writing projects I’m working on, a full-time job, and little time to devote to this site. Not that anyone’s complaining, but I thought I’d let you know to expect even less from me in the weeks to come. An occasional snide remark, or funny link is all I can offer you for the time being. I’ll do more if and when I feel like it.

Posted on Mar 30, 2004 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

This Is Cool

Check out this film of a power saw that can tell the difference between flesh and wood.

Hat tip Boing Boing blog. I hate typing that.

Posted on Mar 26, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Grad School Like It Oughta Be

Will Wilkinson’s looking for applicants to an IHS summer seminar he’s running, the Social Change Workshop for Grad Students. Here’s all the info you need to apply. Will’s explanation of why you should apply is here.

I don’t know much about this particular seminar, but knowing Will, and knowing IHS, I’m confident it’s every bit as terrific as advertised. I’m tremendously grateful to IHS. (Institute for Humane Studies for those of you in Rio Lindo). When I discovered IHS (or vice-versa) I was a skinny college junior with a vague intuition that government was a crock. IHS introduced me to an intellectual tradition that’s among mankind’s finest achievements. I remember sitting in the Liberty and Society seminar in Charlottesville, feeling deliriously happy, and thinking “this is what I want to do with my life.” I’d probably make more money today if I hadn’t caught that bug. But I’d be much poorer nonetheless.

Posted on Mar 26, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Bumper-Sticker Ideas

My Dad had a great idea for a bumper sticker a couple of years ago. It would read, simply: “They’re Lying.” I appreciate it for its timelessness, lack of partisanship, and vague hint of paranoia. And you’d never have to scrape it off your car.

I also like “Blame Me: I Voted for Bush.” But I’m not sure how big the market for that would be.

Posted on Mar 26, 2004 in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Imagine All the People…

I’m all for political action aimed at ending the drug war, but I fear that this particular plan, floated on Alternet, has about as much chance as the Yippies’ attempt to levitate the Pentagon:

On April 20, 2004, I call upon all Americans to stop smoking pot. Everyone. For one year. Setting 4/20 as a date will allow time for even the slackest stoners to get in gear, as well as make sure they don’t forget the date. For 365 days, we will redirect the money we’d normally spend on marijuana to the trustworthy people at NORML headquarters in Washington, DC. That money would then translate into an enormous amount of political power. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars.

Posted on Mar 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Laff Riot

Bush put on a slide show, calling it the “White House Election-Year Album” at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association 60th annual dinner, showing himself and his staff in some decidedly unflattering poses.

There was Bush looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,” he said.

Somewhere in the Starr Report, if I recall correctly, there’s a section where Bill Clinton is on the phone with a congressman, trying to drum up support for putting troops in Bosnia. At the same time Monica is ministering to Bill under the desk. I remember thinking that that didn’t really reflect the sort of moral seriousness and gravity that I’d like to imagine in a commander-in-chief putting troops in harm’s way. The current CINC’s WMD yukfest may make for a less lurid image. But it’s just as repulsive and classless.

Hat tip Atrios.

Posted on Mar 25, 2004 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rocketman

If I’m reading this piece from yesterday’s American Spectator correctly, it says:

George Bush is awesome, because he’s taking us back to the moon, and once we’re on the moon, we’re going to build a rocket made out of moonstuff, and send it to Mars!

Posted on Mar 24, 2004 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Home Again, Home Again

O.K., so I’m back from London. There’s a Sopranos episode where A.J. comes back from a school trip to D.C., and Tony asks him how it was. “Great! They had Nintendo in the hotel room!” he says. “That’s the sum total of your trip to our nation’s capital?” Tony asks.

This next post makes me feel like A.J. I don’t have much to say about London. It wasn’t really British enough for me. It was like America, except with uglier people and better pubs. But I have a lot to say about the flight there and back on Virgin Atlantic.

It was my first flight where they have the little digital screen on the seat-back in front of you, and 52 movies plus dozens of TV programs to choose from. I used to think after Flight 93, that no one would ever be able to hijack another airplane, because the passengers would rise up and overcome the hijackers, no matter the risk. I was wrong. On Virgin Atlantic, none of the passengers would notice the hijacking. We’d all be sitting there paralyzed and transfixed by the screen. There’s something very Brave New World about walking back to the bathroom and looking out over a copse of people sitting bolt upright in their little stations, dull-eyed, slack-jawed, and bathed in a blue glow. They really ought to task one of the stewardesses with wiping drool from the corners of the passengers’ mouths.

Who am I to talk? I watched five movies. In descending order of quality, they were:

Touching the Void: documentary on a hideous climbing accident in the mid-80s. Excellent.
Stuck on You: Really, not very good, but I’m easily amused, and how often do you get to see conjoined twins having a fistfight? Matt Damon’s best work.
Young Adam: Sort of a Scottish neo-noir. Gloomy, uninteresting. I could have done without Tilda Swinton’s unshaved armpits.
In the Cut: Mark Ruffalo’s a terrific actor, but the plot sucks.
Gothika: I’ve been to a woman’s prison. And I guarantee there’s no prison shrink that looks like Halle Berry, and no inmates that look like Penelope Cruz. File these casting choices with Denise Richards as “Christmas Jones,” nuclear physicist.

I also object to Virgin Atlantic’s attempt to provide an authentic British experience by repeatedly blasting Dido throught the onboard sound system. Especially because they picked a song whose chorus goes “I will go down with this ship,” which I find inappropriate on a transatlantic flight in the age of terror.

Posted on Mar 24, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Blog Hiatus

Expect even less blogging in the coming week. I’m off for a short vacation in London. St. Paddy’s Day in London? I’m a bad Irishman. In any event, visit mis hermanos Henley and Balko for political truth and smartass remarks this week. And drop me some suggestions in the comments box about things to do while I’m in cool Britannia.

Posted on Mar 15, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Virtue of Selfishness

Go read Brooke’s piece in the American Spectator on Social Security. Greatest generation pshaw. If they were so great, then why did they do such a lousy job with their Baby Boomer kids? In a decade or so, every two of us is going to be carrying one gray-pony-tailed codger in tie-dyed Depends on our backs for the rest of our working lives.

Posted on Mar 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Dwellon.org

It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea, though I’d rather see him censured at the ballot box. But isn’t it funny that Moveon.org doesn’t want to move on at all anymore? Censure the president? That’s like soo 1999.

Posted on Mar 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

“Crooked, Lying Bunch…”

The government’s top expert on Medicare costs was warned that he would be fired if he told key lawmakers about a series of Bush administration cost estimates that could have torpedoed congressional passage of the White House-backed Medicare prescription-drug plan.

Posted on Mar 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Marry the Government

Sex and the City–it’s not just a cringe-inducing TV show. It’s a voting bloc:

With 16 million unmarried women now unregistered and 22 million unmarried women who are registered but didn’t vote in the last election, this could be a formidable bloc.

While neither party has a lock on this voting group, 65 percent of single women think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Who will be the first candidate to offer federal catcare subsidies?

Posted on Mar 12, 2004 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Corinne Schillings

If you read the Cato website, you know that we had a colleague die last Saturday in the Baltimore ferry accident. The story is here. I didn’t know Corrine except to say hi, but she seemed like a terrifically sweet person, and the details surrounding her and her fiancee’s death are enough to break your heart.

Her family has set up a scholarship fund:

The Corinne Jeannine Schillings Foundation
c/o Premier Bank
320 S. Center Ave., Jefferson, WI 53549.

Donations will establish a scholarship fund for Silver Award Girl Scouts wishing to pursue a career in the study of languages.

Posted on Mar 9, 2004 in Uncategorized | Comments Off

Whew!

I am so glad Martha Stewart is finally off the streets!

Posted on Mar 8, 2004 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments