Magic Eight Ball of the Internets

by Maria on February 14, 2008

In a moment of search engine ennui, I typed this into the Google search box: whatever I’m looking for, I won’t find it here.

First up was the nutty Tom Cruise video excerpt where he raves about Scientologists as the only people who can really help at the scene of an accident. Then, bizarrely enough, came a 2002 White House press conference with Bush convivially avoiding answering questions about unilaterally attacking Iraq and making in-jokes to the supine press corps. Then, suitably enough, a piece called ‘why search sucks and you won’t fix it the way you think’.

On page 2 of the results I found Trent Raznor moaning about album sales and proposing a music tax for ISPs, then Larry Birkhead insisting he would not share custody of poor (literally) misbegotten Dannielynn. Then MediaMatters gave a bizarre insight into the American poltiical psyche when a discussion of Clinton supporters sliming Obama for his middle name and Muslim father segued into how men feel castrated by Hillary.

And after that the randomness got a bit samey. Google’s tailoring of results to geographic location meant that any non-bracketed query of commonly used words returns me a cornucopia of US-oriented flim flam. It reminds me of why we used to buy a British Sunday newspaper at home; to know what they really thought of us. When the papers caught on to the Irish market and started finessing their stories and cutting back on the anti-Irishry, I lost interest. Same with Google. If I wanted to know about nothing but celebrity gossip and political tittle tattle then I’d, well.., I’d read the same pointless echo-sheets I already do every day.

I was going to ask Google if I’ll ever find true love. Don’t think I’ll bother now.


by Henry Farrell on February 14, 2008

“Sadly No!”: links to this Glenn Reynolds “post”: arguing that Barack Obama should condemn some anti-Semitic black pastor in Murfreesboro, Tennessee who claims to support Obama, because otherwise

Obama’s big appeal — I’m a black candidate who’s not like Al Sharpton! — will be a fraud

He admits in a later update that the accusation of fraud was a “bit strong.” Indeed. But apart from the very unpleasant implication that black politicians need to be in the business of proving that they’re not Al Sharpton, this kind of ‘you must condemn …’ demand is a well established rhetorical trope. As “John Protevi”: pointed out in the comments to a recent post, this “entry”: in the Encyclopedia of Decency provides a nice encapsulation, and should, I suggest, become the standard reference point for this kind of nonsense in future.

Sporting pursuit

Amusing internet pastime, in which several Decents quiz a pro-fascist, repeatedly demanding denunciation of a vast range of randomly-chosen murders, atrocities, war crimes and military actions in an increasingly hectoring tone.

“I agree, Guantanamo Bay is an affront to democratic ideals. But Will You Condemn Palestinian suicide attacks on Israeli restaurants?…

Yes, well, Do You Condemn Jihadist chlorine-bomb attacks?…

Okay, I knew you would be too sly to openly support such acts, but Will You Condemn terrorist attacks upon the American military?

What about the Battle of Teutoberg Forest, then, Will You Condemn that? …I see.

Who are the members of the US foreign policy community?

by Henry Farrell on February 14, 2008

“Spencer Ackerman”: has a nice hit-job on Michael O’Hanlon at the _Washington Independent_ (which is rapidly becoming indispensable) which makes me wonder who the foreign policy community is that should be disavowing him.

Michael O’Hanlon is a Brookings Institution defense expert who doesn’t actually know anything about defense. He does, however, know how to be a reliable barometer of what very-slightly-left-of-center establishment types believe should be said about defense. … If anyone in the foreign-policy community respects O’Hanlon, I haven’t met him or her. … Today in the Wall Street Journal, O’Hanlon’s got yet another tendentious op-ed, in which he bravely subdues yet another straw man on the left. …Harder to understand is how the foreign-policy establishment doesn’t put him out to pasture.

[click to continue…]

China can’t make it rain

by Daniel on February 14, 2008

I have a post up at the Guardian blog on the general subject of it not being terribly practical to assume that if we all shout hard enough at the Chinese government, they will wave their Chinese magic wand and the Darfur crisis will go away. In the post, I unaccountably forgot to link to Alex Harrowell at Fistful of Euros, who inspired the post by reminding me that I held this view. I’m now correcting this (frankly the CT referral stream is probably a little less, shall we say, problematic[1] than the Comment is Free one). So let the circle-jerk be unbroken, etc. Sorry Alex.

In general, though, and I didn’t explore this enough because it would have looked like rambling, a lot of people seem to think that the Olympic Games is the most important thing in the world to China. How much do we think they really care about it going well? I mean, seriously, we are going to be hosting this thing in London soon, and if it really is true that major world governments regularly make massive shifts of geopolitical influence in order to avoid a few slightly embarrassing scenes at their opening ceremony, then I am rather worried about what the rest of the world might have planned for us.

[1] No, let’s say “insane”


by Kieran Healy on February 14, 2008

Well I thought it was funny.