Nixon goes to China

by Ted on September 4, 2003

A little while ago, Kos asked for good things Bush has done. (Specifically, he asked for three good things.) Whatever your list looked like, there’s a new addition:

WASHINGTON D.C. – President George W. Bush signed into law the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 today, marking the first time the U.S. government has ever passed a law to deal with sexual assault behind bars…

The law calls for the gathering of national statistics about the problem; the development of guidelines for states about how to address prisoner rape; the creation of a review panel to hold annual hearings; and the provision of grants to states to combat the problem.

Also due for praise are the sponsors of this bill, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in the Senate and Frank R. Wolf (R-Va) in the House.

Iain at Grim Amusements is a little less hopeful, noting that it’s an unfunded mandate and that states will have an incentive to minimize evidence that the situation exists. Still, I agree with Glenn Renolds that “It’s not like it’s going to solve the problem, but at least it puts it on the table.” Kudos.

A brief follow-up to Henry’s post covering the link between the nuttier strains of Ulster Unionism and the UK Conservative Party.

On reading Henry’s piece, I happened to remember that last year, the Conservative member for Basingstoke, one Andrew Hunter, decided to resign from the party and join the Democratic Unionists with a view to standing for the Stormont assembly in that interest.

There are two facts to which I’d draw attention:

  1. Hunter was a member of the Commons’ Northern Ireland Select Committee from 1994 until 2001.
  2. Ian Paisley, the leader of the DUP, is a fruitcake. Dr Paisley, whose doctorate, US readers will perhaps not be shocked to learn, was awarded by Bob Jones University, believes that the Pope is the Anti-Christ; has devoted his entire political life to fighting against the cause of equal rights for Northern Ireland’s Catholic population; and is a staunch (the very staunchest?) opponent of the Good Friday Agreement.

Clearly, Hunter’s choice to jump ship doesn’t really reflect a deep strain of Paisleyite madness in the modern Tory party. He’s pretty much on his own in that particular decision.

But still: did the voters of Basingstoke know that was what they were getting?

Gold Standard

by Ted on September 4, 2003

Out of curiosity, I started looking at the affiliations of some high-ranking members of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly. I struck paydirt right away with the National Chairman, Massey Villareal.

No, as far as I know, he isn’t a former member of MEChA. But he is a current member of another extremist organization: The Texas GOP.

MEChA has been widely attacked on the basis of this document: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan.

So, in the interest of equal time, I’m pleased to take a look at the Texas GOP platform from 2000.

And I didn’t even have to translate anything to do it! Good thing, too- the official Texas GOP platform “supports the immediate adoption of American English as the official language of Texas and of the United States of America.”

[click to continue…]

RSS Feeds

by Brian on September 4, 2003

Via Dave Winer, I saw that My Yahoo! now has a module for RSS feeds. It seems to still be in the experimental stage. There’s no link to it (that I could find) on its pages, though if you want to add it Library Stuff reports that you should go here. And it seems to have some compatability issues. (It wouldn’t read Dave’s RSS feed, for instance, or TAPPED’s, among others.) And it can’t quite work out how to sort chronologically feeds from different time zones. But it has some flexibility, and it’s a nice addition to the site. My Yahoo! is the only portal I ever found that was flexible enough and powerful enough to be worth using, so I’m rather pleased that they added blogs. Now if some blogs would just add RSS feeds…


by Ted on September 4, 2003

Every once in a while, you’ll see a story about some local government regulations that force an 11-year old girl to shut down her lemonade stand. Most readers (including me) come away with the feeling that the law that prevented the kid from opening a lemonade stand is ridiculous and should probably be eliminated.

But should they? Keep in mind that there are countless 11-year olds who have no intention of starting a lemonade stand. Some children who began lemonade stands would surely run them poorly. We can’t just go around lifting regulations willy-nilly until we can be sure that 11-year olds have reached a consensus. If we start lifting regulations and leaving the decision about whether to sell lemonade to individual choice, it will devalue the whole concept of commerce. What if some of them fail?

Needless to say, this is an absurd argument. Which was why I was amazed to see Jonah Goldberg trying it against gay marriage, in a column titled “Gay men not rushing to the altar”.

[click to continue…]

National characteristics as revealed in cinema

by Chris Bertram on September 4, 2003

From a Guardian article bemoaning the decline of national cinematic traditions comes the following catalogue of national characteristics as revealed in film:

bq. The Japanese, haunted by feudal warlords and ancestral ghosts. The Italians, preoccupied with fascism, communism and huge family meals. The Spanish, grappling with catholicism, beggars and a taste for the surreal. The repressed, puritanical, Swedes. The French, who adored infidelity, bourgeois dinner parties and murders in provincial towns. The British, engaged in an interminable class struggle. The Russians, the Poles and the Czechs, evading the communist censors with sophisticated comedies and metaphorical allegories. And, of course, the Americans and their obsession with rugged individualism, the wild frontier and the “American dream”.

Kathy Wilkes dies

by Chris Bertram on September 4, 2003

Oxford philosopher Kathy Wilkes, probably best known for her book Physicalism has died. The London Times has has a obituary. (I’ve now started to add Donald Davison obituaries to this post).

My God … He’s Right

by Kieran Healy on September 4, 2003

I am blinking in the glare of Right on the Left Beach‘s analysis of my fellow bloggers and me:

bq. Lefties just cannot stand back and take an honest look at their agenda and supporters and admit the truth — they would rather be living under Stalin’s Soviet Union than the United States headed by President George W. Bush — they will defend without logic any lefty miscreant that supports the lefty agenda. Lefties crave power at all costs.

I’d write more, but I am craving power at all costs right now. Coffee! I mean craving coffee at all costs. Yes, that’s it.

Coming up later, a new installment of our ongoing series, “Defending Stalin and All His Works.” This week we’re focusing on the long-term social benefits of Show-Trials and Lysenkoism. This will be followed at three by our “Miscreant of the Month” pledge drive.

Gunpowder plots

by Henry Farrell on September 4, 2003

The collectivisation of the blogosphere (or, as righties might prefer, its rationalization in response to market forces) continues, with two new group-blogs, “Open Source Politics”: and “A Fistful of Euros”: I’m especially pleased about the latter- European politics doesn’t get enough attention in the blogosphere, and when it does get mentioned, it’s usually filtered through intra-American arguments (prime example: right-trolls who defend Berlusconi because he’s friends with W.). Iain Coleman gets the ball rolling with an especially nice “take”: on a quite bizarre “article”: by Adrian Hilton, in the British _Spectator_, which claims that the EU is a Catholic plot to subjugate Protestant Britain. Iain, not surprisingly, thinks that Hilton is barking mad. I disagree – Hilton’s just very _old fashioned_. He’s harking back to a political tradition that’s nearly dead in the mainland UK – equating British national identity with Protestantism,so that the Queen is defender both of the faith and of Britishness.

[click to continue…]

The economics of abundance

by Henry Farrell on September 4, 2003

It may sound to the uninitiated as though science fiction conferences are bad places to go for insights into economics, but the uninitiated would be wrong. One of the more interesting sf phenomena of the last fifteen years or so has been the creation of a more economically literate science fiction, which gets away from the libertarian ‘competent man’ certitudes of much of the early writing in the genre. It seems to me that the Brits have pioneered this – Iain Banks, Charlie Stross, Ken MacLeod, China Mieville, Justina Robson, Paul McAuley come to mind – but notable Americans too (Steven Brust, Cory Doctorow and Neal Stephenson) have been guilty of economically sophisticated literature on occasion.

[click to continue…]