Focus on the followup

by Ted on July 7, 2004

Blogger Jonathan Ichikawa has gotten an email back from Focus on the Family about their distribution of Michael Moore’s home address. His comments are very good.

The Anniversary Party

by Ted on July 7, 2004

I see that Mickey Kaus is asking of John Kerry and John Edwards, “When do they hold hands?” and “When do they kiss?” Lighthearted plays on homosexual panic haven’t always been a Slate trademark, but maybe they’re trying new things.

How time slips by. It was only two years ago that Mickey Kaus was warning us that this country was in for a wave of left-wing violence.

It only takes a few, we’ve learned — and if you figure that for every 500,000 pissed off and frustrated citizens (in either camp) one or two might resort to terror, then increased left-wing violence is something we can see coming down the road.

Mickey apparently faced some blowback, but found a way to back up his accusation: a year-old anonymous message on an unmoderated left-wing message board.

No danger on the Left? If you don’t think there’s any danger of political violence coming from the angry anti-Bush left, check out this creepy message-board post on the subject of how to seat Gore (the “duly-elected President”) in the White House. I’d repeat the money sentence here but I don’t want the Secret Service on my case.

As an anniversary present to M. Kaus, I’ve got an old post about how his research methods warn us of the coming violence from left-wingers, right-wingers, Dominique Moceanu fans, Beatles fans, Vietnamese people, Will and Grace watchers, and me.

Screen test

by Ted on July 7, 2004

My fiancee recently finished Helen Hanff’s charming memoir, Underfoot in Show Business, about her failed attempt to break into the New York playwright scene in the 40s and 50s.

At one point, Hanff is employed by a movie studio (which she gives the pseudonym “Monograph”) as a reader. Monograph would give her new novels. She would read them very quickly, write a summary of the story, and offer her opinion about whether the studio should option the book or not. I had to laugh when she read this story to me:

On the blackest Friday I ever want to see, I was summoned to Monograph and handed three outsized paperback volumes of an English book which was about to be published here. I was to read all three volumes over the weekend, and since each volume was double the length of the usual novel I was invited to charge double money for each…

What I had to read, during that nightmare weekend- taking notes on all place names, characters’ names, and events therein- was fifteen hundred stupefying pages of the sticky mythology of J. R. R. Tolkein. (I hope I’m spelling his name wrong.) I remember opening one volume to a first line which read:

Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday…

and phoning several friends to say goodbye because suicide seemed so obviously preferable to five hundred more pages of that.

I also remember the bill I turned in:

For reading and summarizing
TITLE: Lord of the Rings
AUTHOR: J. R. R. Tolkein

Volume I…………….. $20
Volume II……………. $20
Volume III…………… $20
Mental Torture………. $40

Total…………………… $100

Whew! Monograph sure dodged a bullet on that one!

At a suitable level of abstraction …

by Daniel on July 7, 2004

I haven’t seen that Michael Moore film yet; there were special previews in London on Sunday, but you couldn’t get a ticket for love nor money[1]. It strikes me, however, that those critics of the film who are currently doing such a sterling job (by using words like “deceits”, “cunningness”[2] and “misleading”) in convincing me that there are no actual factual errors in it, are failing to look at the big picture.

The big advantage of the “he’s implying this without saying it” critique, and the main reason I use I myself so often, is that since he isn’t saying it, you can chosse for yourself what you want to claim he’s implying. For example Jane Galt is cutting up rough about the timing of various Carlyle Group investments, compared with the timing of George Bush Senior joining the board. And indeed, Moore’s film would be deserving of censure if he had been attempting to make the claim that there were specific quids pro quo on those specific deals. But he doesn’t actually make that claim, as far as I can see. Now he might have been attempting to imply that claim without making it, which would be bad. But he might just have been using the revolving door between defence contractors, large investors and the highest echelons of government, to support the following assertion:

Wealthy individuals and capital have far too much influence in American politics, and members of the Bush family have provided numerous examples of this proposition.

Which would not be bad. Pace my esteemed colleague Mr. Bertram, the reason why Bush’s misleading implications are not on the same footing as Moore’s tendentious use of the facts, is that Bush was attempting to establish a specfic false claim (that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the USA) while Moore is attempting to support a general claim of opinion (that Bush as President has been bad for the USA and Americans should vote for someone else).

[1]Although actually, I can’t be sure of this since I only really offered money.
[2]The word is “cunning”, btw.

Worse than the disease ?

by John Q on July 7, 2004

My preferred cure for jetlag is to arrive in the morning and spend a fair part of the day outside, resetting my body clock, then have as normal an evening as possible, before going to bed about 10pm. In most respects, my schedule fitted this plan perfectly. Leaving Paris on Monday evening, I got into Brisbane this morning (Wednesday) and the day was suitably sunny. With the State of Origin[1] starting soon, there’ll be no problem about staying up[2] .

The only unusual feature is that my normal Wednesday includes karate training. I can now report that this is a complete, if problematic, cure for jet lag. Whatever term might describe my post-training condition, it is not “jet-lagged.”

fn1. The high point of the Australian rugby league calendar, this is a three-game series between Queensland and New South Wales in which, as the name implies, players line up for their state of origin, rather than of current residence. The deciding match is being played tonight.

fn2. Wrong! The game was such a depressing walkover that I gave up and went to bed early.

Palpably absurd

by Chris Bertram on July 7, 2004

Last night’s Newsnight had a nice what-he-said-then/what-he-says-now juxtaposition, and “the same quotes”: appear in today’s Independent:

bq. We are asked to accept that, contrary to all intelligence, Saddam decided to destroy those weapons. I say that such a claim is palpably absurd. (Tony Blair, 18 March 2003)

bq. I have to accept that we have not found them and we may not find them. He [Saddam] may have removed or hidden or even destroyed those weapons. (Tony Blair 6 July 2004)

More on Moore’s “deceits”

by Chris Bertram on July 7, 2004

Matt Yglesias has been doing sterling work on the double standards employed by Michael Moore’s critics. So, as a supplement to my “two”: “earlier”: posts on the same topic, I’d like to draw attention to “his latest”: He cites Volokh Conspirator Randy Barnett, who has read “Kopel’s Fifty-six deceits in Farenheit 911”: Barnett “observes”:

bq. I was struck by the sheer cunningness of Moore’s film. When you read Kopel, try to detach yourself from any revulsion you may feel at a work of literal propaganda receiving such wide-spread accolades from mainstream politicos, as well as attendance by your friends and neighbors. Instead, notice the film’s meticulousness in saying only (or mostly) “true” or defensible things in support of a completely misleading impression.

Matt comments, fairly and reasonably:

bq. The funny thing, though, is that if I wrote “The 56 Deceits of George W. Bush” (as, indeed, many people have done) then some very intelligent Volokh Conspirator (as, indeed, many of the conspirators are) would doubtless have written a post in response (as, indeed, I’ve read at the Conspiracy) arguing that most of the alleged “lies” weren’t lies _per se_ (and, indeed, they’re mostly misleading juxtapositions of technically true information) and that these sorts of ad hominem attacks don’t really prove that the presidents’ policies are actually wrong.


Anne Alstott, co-author of The Stakeholder Society, has just published another book called No Exit: What Parents Owe Their Children and What Society Owes Parents. The theme is one we’ve explored here before: what should the state do for people who decide to have and raise children? It’s a tremendously good book, written in a wonderfully accessible style, and very affordable for an academic hardback.

At the core of Alstott’s book is a proposal for a ‘caregiver’s allowance’ of $5000 a year, to be provided by the Federal government to the primary care-giving parent. The allowance would be a kind of voucher; the caregiver could use it for any of three purposes: paying for daycare while she goes out to work; supplementing her retirement savings, or investing in her own education. The grant would be paid to the parent annually until her last child turned 13, and would be save-able; if the parent wanted, for example, to save it during the toddler years and then spend it on full time education as soon as the last child started school, she’d be entitled to do that.

The book consists of an elaborate defence of this proposal (and another, supplementary, mechanism effectively insuring against the child having a chronic illness).

[What follows is basically a review of the book, timed to coincide with Laura at Apt 11D’s review so make sure you read her’s too. The Boston Review a while back carried an article based on the book which is still online.]

[click to continue…]

Paddling for bandwidth

by Eszter Hargittai on July 7, 2004

When I was in Paris I spotted a guy sitting on a corner on the ground just outside a bank with a laptop. It looked pretty random, but then it occured to me that perhaps this was the best location he could find for WiFi signals. Now I see that CTD over at ionarts blogged what he considers a possible “techno-geek historical first … ‘warboating'”. He and his brother went out on a fishing boat for signals. Not bad. I’m curious, what’s the craziest/weirdest thing people have done to find wireless connection?


by Kieran Healy on July 7, 2004

Just thought I’d let everyone know that the Great Barrier Reef really deserves its name.