by Eszter Hargittai on May 10, 2004

I started blogging two years ago as an extension of/complement to my mailing list, which had been running since December, 2001. It’s funny that in that first post I describe blogging as “an online forum usually with one main author/contributor” and now here I am on a group blog. I did not see the benefits of the latter until I joined CT, which has been a delight, so thanks!

I wish I knew who were the first few dozen readers of “Eszter’s Blog” so I could express my appreciation to them. (Perhaps they are still with me in which case saying thank you here should work.:-) Those visits encouraged me to keep going and make this exciting and interesting – albeit at times quite frustrating – activity part of my daily routine. Writing blog entries has definitely pushed me to think about certain issues and ideas in the sort of detail that an occasional random thought would not require of me. It has also helped me meet some wonderful people. Thank you!

They’ve lost Andrew Sullivan

by Ted on May 10, 2004

It’s Dylan-goes-electric time over at

The question I have asked myself in the wake of Abu Ghraib is simply the following: if I knew before the war what I know now, would I still have supported it? I cannot deny that the terrible mismanagement of the post-war – something that no reasonable person can now ignore – has, perhaps fatally, wrecked the mission. But does it make the case for war in retrospect invalid? My tentative answer – and this is a blog, written day by day and hour by hour, not a carefully collected summary of my views – is yes, I still would have supported the war. But only just. And whether the “just” turns into a “no” depends on how we deal with the huge challenge now in front of us….

The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong.….

By refusing to hold anyone accountable, the president has also shown he is not really in control. We are at war; and our war leaders have given the enemy their biggest propaganda coup imaginable, while refusing to acknowledge their own palpable errors and misjudgments. They have, alas, scant credibility left and must be called to account. Shock has now led – and should lead – to anger. And those of us who support the war should, in many ways, be angrier than those who opposed it.

(emphasis added) He ends with a call to win, I should point out. Nonetheless, when this Administration has lost Sully, they’ve done very badly indeed. More to come.

Time to repeal Godwin’s Law ?

by John Q on May 10, 2004

What kind of America-hating lefty would seize on an isolated incident like this?

Three weeks ago in Highland Park, Texas, Mrs Dolly Kelton was arrested and handcuffed for failing to pay a traffic ticket after her car was stopped for having an expired registration. I doubt that Mrs Kelton was a threat to the safety of the arresting officer. She is 97 years old.

then follow up with this ?

We handcuff her… because some Western societies, and America in particular, use these procedures as a way of softening up the accused by humiliation and to underline the power of the authorities.

What kind of slippery-slope argument do you think is going to follow?

[click to continue…]

Wings of Desire

by Chris Bertram on May 10, 2004

Following “recommendations”: from a number of CT readers, I watched Wim Wenders’s beautiful “Der Himmel über Berlin”: (Wings of Desire) on DVD last night. Ausgezeichnet! (or, maybe, “splendid!”: ). No doubt everyone but me has seen it already, but I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t, so, by way of recommendation, I’ll just say that some lines from Dennis Potter’s final interview came into my head whilst watching it, and have stayed there. Potter, facing death from cancer, spoke thusly:

bq. I can celebrate life. Below my window there’s an apple tree in blossom. It’s white. And looking at it — instead of saying, ‘Oh, that’s a nice blossom’ — now, looking at it through the window, I see the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be. The nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous. If you see the present tense — boy, do you see it. And boy, do you celebrate it.

By Any Other Name

by Belle Waring on May 10, 2004

The release of the movie Troy prompts me to wonder again about why certain things are named after the Trojans. Take sports teams, for example, like the USC Trojans. Now, there is just one story cycle involving the Trojans and conflict, and in it the Trojans decisively, utterly lose. I’m not saying they’re losers, per se; I’m always rooting for the Trojans because I love Hector. But imagine a coach giving an inspirational speech along these lines: “Guys, I want to you get out there and fight with all your hearts, only to see all you hold dear destroyed. At the end of this bowl game, I want you to feel like the original Trojans did when the saw their ancestral altar run red with the blood of aged Priam, beheld the pitiful spectacle of little Astyanax’ body broken on the walls of Troy, and heard the lamentations of their daughters, mothers and wives as they were reduced to slavery in a foreign land.” It’s not exactly “win one for the Gipper”, is it?

And then, there are the condoms. What do you think of when you hear the word “Trojan”? Possibly, you think of the heartbreaking scene of farewell between Hector and Andromache, when little Astyanax is frightened by the nodding plumes of Hector’s helmet. But probably not. Probably, you think: Trojan horse. So consider the context. There’s this big…item outside your walled citadel, and you are unsure whether to let it inside. After hearing the pros and cons (and seeing some people eaten by snakes), you open the gates and drag the big old thing inside. Then, you get drunk. At the height of the party, hundreds of little guys come spilling out of the thing and sow destruction, breaking “Troy’s hallowed coronal”, as they say. Is this, all things considered, the ideal story for condom manufacturers to evoke? Just asking.