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11.30.2003

Rolling Stones' 500 greatest albums ever made 

The list is here.

By my count, 55 out of ~200 albums I own are on the list. Do I have exceptional taste in music, or am I merely a pretentious record snob who allows my tastes to be dictated by professional critics? Yes.

I do think that the following albums should have been on the list:



I guess I have to take some albums off the list then. Here we go:


"That was textbook Ultimate. Of course, I've never actually seen a textbook on Ultimate..." 

Jim Parinella and Eric Zaslow, both multiple UPA champions with Death or Glory, are publishing a book called "Ultimate Techniques and Tactics," according to Parinella's website. I hope it's a good book. While playing for DoG, Parinella and others have introduced many new ideas that have revolutionized the game of Ultimate. Zaslow wasn't one of the founding members of DoG, so I don't know what his contribution to the book is, but he knows how to pull backhand and he's a string theorist, so he's pretty bright.

The only other Ultimate textbook that has been published within the last 15 years, as far as I know, is James Studarus's Fundamentals of Ultimate, and the amount of knowledge you might gain from that book is what you might learn from playing one season with an elite college team.

11.29.2003

Kofi Annan calls Israel's wall a barrier to peace 

What I want to know is, why?

I can understand why the Palestinians are upset about the destruction of homes and buildings suspected to contain terrorists, the Jewish settlements, and the security checkpoints in the West Bank, but I don't quite understand why there is such an uproar about the wall. Seems like a reasonable way for Israel to try to keep terrorists out. Put up a wall and post guards along the wall instead of in the West Bank.

If Palestine is so concerned about the 77 square kilometers of their land that are on the Israeli side of the wall, why not just demand that Israel build the wall inside the Green Line?

Stupid quote of the day 

After part of the crowd booed Jesse Jackson at a rally, the Reverend has this to say:



Afterwards ABC7's Rob Johnson asked Reverend Jackson why he felt like so much verbal venom was aimed in his direction.

"They lashed out at Dr. King, they lashed out at Nelson Mandela, they lashed out at Jesus, so all of those who fight for change become the object of frustration," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow-Push Coalition.



Good Lord.

Wow 

This post by Mark Zuckerman is priceless. In the space of two paragraphs, he compares the MPAA to Hitler, slags off France and Canada, and gets in a jab about prison rape.

I guess it's not too shocking if you know him personally, though.

Apartment rents 

Maybe I should consider moving someplace away from the coasts.

I've always been upset with Harvard for not subsidizing its vast complex of student- and faculty-only housing. They can still make some profit from it while taking Harvard affiliates out of the greater Boston housing market. Harvard owns a *lot* of property in Cambridge and Allston -- if Harvard decided to do this, the effect on rents elsewhere wouldn't be large, but I think it would be noticeable.

As it is, Harvard Planning and Real Estate is just another profitable branch of a $18 billion corporation that enjoys tax-exempt status.

(This is not rent control. Rent control is bad. Rent control in Cambridge would have driven up the rents in surrounding cities such as Allston and Somerville. But offering below-market rates for student-only housing won't.)

11.28.2003

Duh. 

Even though I don't agree with much of what gets posted at Daily Kos, I keep it on the blogroll because it's an enlightening view into the progressive mind.

That being said, this seems to be a rather silly post:



Who's Tougher, Shrub or Hillary?
by DHinMI
Fri Nov 28th, 2003 at 21:08:35 UTC

What a great headline and lede to this story:

Aides Prodded Reluctant Bush on Iraq Trip
CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - For a president fond of a tough-guy image, George W. Bush was uneasy when an aide casually asked him, "You want to go to Baghdad?"

Unfortunately the story gives few details of Bush's uneasiness and little evidence to suggest that he was uneasy. Oh sure, according to one of his most dishonest aides, Condi Rice, Bush was concerned that his visit would increase the danger faced by the troops in Iraq. But we know that's bullshit, because Bush is more than willing to challenge the Iraqi guerrillas attacking our troops to "bring it on," as long as his chickenhawk ass is at least six or eight time zones away from the line of fire.

However, by pointing out that Hillary Clinton and Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are touring Baghdad today, this story leads to an interested question: why is Baghdad too unsafe for Bush but not for Hillary Clinton?


U.S. senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jack Reed spent about 10 hours in Baghdad on Friday and planned another day in Iraq on Saturday after overnighting out of the country. On Friday, Clinton traveled between the airport, coalition headquarters and another U.S. military base in a convoy of civilian SUVs with an escort of Humvees and Apache helicopters.
Why is it so inherently unsafe for Bush that he has to fly in under darkness without anyone except a handful of top aides and Secret Service and military personnel in the know, then hide out at the airport for a couple of hours with 600 troops, but Hillary Clinton and Jack Reed can drive around the city and meet with American troops, international officials and Iraqi leaders? Do the Iraqis who were supposed to greet out soldiers with cheers and flowers like Hillary Clinton better than George W. Bush? Or is Hillary just better able to defend herself?


Update [2003-11-29 0:48:12 by DHinMI]: On the comment board yondertree speculated on the possibility that Bush's visit was planned in response the the visit of Hillary Clinton and Jack Reed. In fact, the Bush trip was planned after the White House was notified about the Clinton visit:

She also acknowledged that the missile attack earlier this month on a German DHL cargo plane had almost caused the White House to scrap Bush's visit, which was planned for weeks starting in mid-October...

Rice also denied that the White House -- which is famed for its attention to political detail -- made the trip to bolster Bush's chances to win a second term in November 2004.

"This originated out of the president and the policy side," said Rice, who stopped short of saying that political adviser Karl Rove did not know about the trip.

Bush's visit overshadowed a similar one a day later by Senator Hillary Clinton. A source familiar with the planning of her visit said the administration was informed in late September that she would go.
So now it looks like the reason Bush went to Iraq might have been because he was afraid he would be shown up by Hillary Clinton. And even then he would only skulk in and out after dark. He's a craven coward.



Seems to me that Bush is a more important figure and a more attractive target for Iraqi guerrillas than Clinton is...

Here's how serious Israel is about fighting Palestinian terrorists... 

Some Palestinian guy has accused the Israeli army of using sexual entrapment to coerce him into becoming an informer:



Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades had seized Mr. Hilal, himself a member of the militant group, and interrogated him for three weeks. Now the camera was rolling. In great detail, Mr. Hilal, 23, spoke about informing on his fellow Palestinians by means of furtive cellphone calls to his Israeli handlers, allowing the security forces to track down militants here in this ragged West Bank town.

Mr. Hilal said he began working for the Israelis after he went to a military office seeking a travel permit for his mother. When it was rejected, he argued with the Israeli official and was taken to a room where a woman in an Israeli Army uniform greeted him.

"She asked me what I thought of the Palestinian uprising," Mr. Hilal said. "I said I had no business with the uprising. She put one hand on my shoulder and one on my leg and started to rub. Then she took off all her clothes. When I saw her naked like that, I had to have sex."

Afterward, Mr. Hilal said on a videotape that was distributed by Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades to international news agencies, an Israeli officer showed him 15 photographs of the sexual encounter and demanded that he work with the Israelis or the photos would be distributed in Tulkarm.

Mr. Hilal's description of his recruitment through sexual entrapment could not be corroborated. Shin Bet, the security service that runs the informer network, declined to comment on its methods and said that as a matter of policy it would not comment on individual cases involving suspected Palestinian informants. But a former Shin Bet official strongly denied that Israel would engage in such tactics.

...

Sexual entrapment is sometimes used, Palestinians say, observing that Palestinian homosexuals are particularly vulnerable in a society that is intolerant of gay relationships. They also maintain that the Israelis prey on drug dealers and addicts.

Bassem Eid, head of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, said collaborators began making claims of sexual entrapment in the 1970's. Israel has other ways to pressure informers now, he said, and he hears far less about sex.

Abdel Karim, a Palestinian journalist in Tulkarm who has reported on cases involving collaborators, said he believed the accused sometimes made up or exaggerated sexual encounters, believing this was a more acceptable excuse than saying they had collaborated simply for money. While some are falsely accused, actual collaborators often give themselves away with unusual behavior, he said.



Hey, I have nothing against recruiting snitches to root out homicide bombers, but I'd have to say that the sexual entrapment bit is, uh, slightly unethical. Is there anything to these claims? Who knows. So much of the Middle East is so flooded with anti-Israeli propaganda that it's hard to know when to take such allegations seriously.

Abusing classical music 

Any product that uses Tchaikovsky's "Russian Dance" (fron The Nutcracker) to advertise itself during the Christmas season should be boycotted.

Arms race 

The Arizona Diamondbacks have waived Curt Schilling's no-trade clause and traded him to the Boston Red Sox. Yankees fans can't be too happy about this (especially the part about the Sox being given an extra 24 hours after the official deadline to hammer out a contract extension).

It begins.

11.27.2003

The kid who cracked the DVD encryption scheme strikes again 

He's managed to crack iTunes' encryption scheme as well.

Does anybody know offhand how the 99 cents per iTune gets divided up among Apple, artists, record labels, etc? I remember reading somewhere (I think it was at The Volokh Conspiracy, but I'm not sure) that music retailers actually get the biggest chunk of the revenue from CD sales, not record labels; I'm curious as to how the iTunes revenue pie gets divided.

UPDATE: Apparently Apple had found ways to punish users of iPod ripping software.

11.26.2003

A triple agent? 

Gao Zhan, a research fellow at American University, has now been convicted by China of being a spy for Taiwan (whatever that means; probably just means protesting the government's human rights violations) and convicted by the US of being a spy for China. Bizarre.

MIDI ring tones 

MIDIringtones has quite an impressive selection, but it's really expensive.


Ringtones I recommend include

Not surprisingly, synth-pop tunes and tunes backed by piano sound reasonably good.


Tunes I like but whose ringtones I don't recommend because the MIDI renditions are awful include

Guitar-heavy tunes tend to suck in MIDI (although I'm surprised at how good Wonderful Tonight is).


Tunes I like but whose ringtones I don't recommend because it's just plain embarrassing for other people to hear them coming from your phone include

Another one from the log 

If you want to know whether oral sex is permitted within an Islamic marriage, you definitely won't find the answer here.

11.24.2003

Cooperation between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein? 

The Weekly Standard claims to have obtained a top secret US government memo detailing specific instances of significant cooperation between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

If this is true, why has the government been holding off on this information? My guess is that it's to avoid inviting further speculation that the 9/11 attacks might have been preventable.

Forty seconds? But I want it now! 

AllState has an ad claiming that of the 2 million people who tried to deep-fry their Thanksgiving turkey last year, 15 managed to set their houses on fire. (This ad can be seen at weather.com's local forecast pages, I think.)

11.23.2003

Penny-pinching 

Apparently Boston University evicts students from at least some of its dormitories during Thanksgiving and Spring Break.

I don't know how much room and board at BU costs, but you'd think that they could spare a couple days' worth of electricity bills for their students, considering that their students pay over $28,000 in tuition per year.

11.22.2003

Clash 

I like Coldplay, but whose idea was it to use "Clocks" as the background music for a highlight reel of the Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry?

To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life's problems 

The Massachusetts legislature has passed a bill that will overturn the statewide ban on alcohol sales on Sundays. (Tucked in the bill somewhere is a little rider about a $100 million economic stimulus plan, various tax credits, and the creation of a sales-tax holiday on August 14.)

Wow. I'm so thrilled I could walk down to the store, procure a bottle of champagne and pop it open.

11.20.2003

Not ironic, just a shocking coincidence 

A week after the de-Spectorized "Let It Be" was released, Phil Spector has been charged with murder.

Another couple bombings in Istanbul 

BBC article here.

The perpetrators, who claim to be linked to al-Qaeda, are promising more attacks on America's allies in the future.

Al-Qaeda inches ever closer to declaring war on the entire Western world. I don't think that things like "greater UN involvement" in Middle East affairs are going to placate them.

UPDATE: Is Al-Qaeda declaring war on "backsliding" Muslims as well?

Absolutely sick 

South Korean companies are attempting to capitalize on business opportunities in the North. (cashing in on slave labor?)

Especially appalling is the picture of South Korean tourists posing happily underneath a statue of Kim Il Sung.

(Thanks to the Conjecturer for the link.)

11.19.2003

UK public opinion on America and the war rising 

That's what the Guardian is reporting.

Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean "super-hard" languages to learn 

That's what the State Department says, according to OxBlog.

Misnomer 

Anybody else think that "Five for Fighting" is a lousy name for a practicioner of wuss rock?

Some Turkey synagogue bombers identified 

Article from the BBC

One of my officemates has family who attend that synagogue and a friend who was injured in the blast.

11.18.2003

Computer pisses away huge advantage, settles for draw with Garry Kasparov 

X3D Fritz was up 1.5-0.5 after Kasparov lost a crucial pawn, and with it Game 2.

The computer then proceeded to get completely annihilated in Game 3, failing to realize that Kasparov (playing White) had a five-pawn chain on the queenside backed by all of his pieces. Fritz never launched a blitzkrieg on Kasparov's f-pawn (the base of the pawn chain), which would have been its only hope at winning or pressuring Kasparov into a blunder.

In Game 4 Kasparov (as black) accepted the Queen's Gambit and fell way behind in piece development, but Fritz let the advantage slip away by allowing Kasparov to trade off pieces. The game ended in a queen-and-rook draw, and with it the match ended in a 2-2 draw. Lame.

I remember back in 1996 when Kasparov played Deep Blue for the first time. After Kasparov won the match 4-2, I thought to myself, "I could build a chess computer that could lose to Kasparov." (Although to be fair, it did win Game 1 and tie the next three games before collapsing in Games 5 and 6.)

Court finds ban on gay marriages violates Massachusetts Constitution 

I think homosexuality might be morally permissible, but I also think it's generally a bad thing when courts issue sweeping opinions like this instead of leaving the question open to the people (via the legislature). In response, I can only offer this column from the National Review.

(Jonah Goldberg is discussing the issue at the federal level instead of the state level, but the same principle applies: let the people decide.)

Life imitating the Simpsons, once again 

A scientist from Oregon has successfully created Tomacco.

(Thanks to The Conjecturer for the pointer.)

Open letters to George Bush 

In preparation for Bush's visit to the UK, the Guardian has collected a bunch of open letters to the US President.

Ordinary Saudis unwilling to face reality? 

The BBC has a feature piece on the aftermath of the bombing in Riyadh. Excerpt:



Residents with cardboard boxes, allowed back for the first time, were picking up what few personal possessions they could carry out and asking themselves the question Saudis are asking over and over: How could men who cite the Koran as their justification kill fellow Muslims?

The terror war has finally come home to Saudi Arabia, there should be no room left for denial.

There should be no longer any sense that the terrorists could be understood - even forgiven - because they attacked only western targets.

But already the conspiracy theories are doing the rounds.

Some are saying the extremists have been infiltrated by the CIA and Mossad because, as one Saudi lawyer put it me, "who benefits from these attacks?"

And then he answered his own question - "Only the Americans, only the Israelis."



How exactly does bombing a residential neighborhood in Saudi Arabia benefit the Americans or the Israelis?

Anti-Semitic teaching in the Middle East is a cancer of which most people seem to be unaware.

11.17.2003

Whoa 

I've often pointed out to others that the US has gone to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties and destruction to civilian property during the war in Iraq, but apparently the US is borrowing a page from the Israeli playbook by destroying the homes of suspected guerrillas.

I sincerely hope that Col. Hickey was acting on his own and not under orders from above, but White House Scott McClellan is referring questions about the razings to the Defense Department, so I don't know.

As Tacitus asks, so shall I ask: how exactly does this eliminate terrorism?

Why the fuck are you posting this shit on your blog? 

If you ever wondered what happened after Bono dropped the f-bomb on network TV at the Golden Globe Awards in January, here is the FCC's decision. (Thanks to CalPundit for the pointer.)

In case you're too lazy to read it, the FCC has ruled that the phrase "this is really, really fucking brilliant" is not indecent because it does not describe "sexual or excretory organs or activities". If it did, it would also have to be "patently offensive" according to community standards in order to be ruled indecent. The FCC also ruled that the phrase is not obscene because it does not appeal to the average person's "prurient interest"; if it did it would also have to "depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law" and "taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value" to be ruled obscene. However, there's some comment about "fleeting and isolated remarks of this nature" not warranting action on the FCC's part, perhaps indicating that a stream of expletives might be treated differently.

If you're coming here from my Xanga site, you're probably someone at my church and therefore you might not want to read the rest of this post.

I wonder how robust the FCC's logic is? According to this reasoning, almost any instance of the word "fucking" as an adverb would be permissible, since it's being used just for emphasis and doesn't carry any sexual connotation. The status of phrases like "Fuck this" and "fuck you" aren't quite as clear. Most of the time the usage doesn't explicity refer to sexual activity. Instead, the usage is metaphorical, i.e. to wish upon the object a condition comparable to the condition of having received sex. "Motherfucker" would probably be ruled both indecent and obscene.

Just as in the case of phrases of "fuck this" and "fuck you", I think the status of the word "shit" in most instances isn't clear. Most of the time it doesn't refer to actual excrement, but is being used as a metaphor. But just yelling "shit!" (or just yelling "fuck!", for that matter) would be permitted, since it's just an exclamation.

The whole "patently offensive" clause is really quite important; because of this clause, the public as a whole is allowed to say that certain words like "fuck" and "shit" are offensive, but other words like "screw" and "crap" aren't.

Supposedly language on British TV is much less regulated than in the US, but in the episode of the Simpsons where Homer runs for sanitation commisioner, Adam Clayton and Mr. Burns both utter the word "wanker". (Kids, stop reading here and read someone else's blog. Everyone else, "wanker" is a supposedly vulgar slang term meaning "one who masturbates".) Apparently those bits were cut out of UK syndicated screenings, but that's definitely not the case in the US, as I've seen that episode several times on the air.

In case you're really curious: expletives in and of themselves don't offend me. I don't yell at people in angry streams of expletives. I don't use expletives around people I think might be offended (e.g. around church folks, although one time at a party a Christian who I respect came up to me to complain about the music by yelling "what the fuck is this shit?"). But given those restrictions, I do use expletives on rare occasions, usually for emphasis or mild shock value, but not to express anger. I don't see anything too horrible about that. And I think that expletives should be left in quotations.

(I remember reading some sort of interview with David Robinson a while back. He said that he doesn't swear, but then he said something like "I'm not saying I never swore in my life. I was in the Navy, you know.")

Treasonous (and dumb) Italians 

The BBC reports that an Italian anti-war organization is funding the guerrillas in Iraq. Excerpt:



A group of Italian anti-war militants is raising funds to support the armed Iraqi resistance, the BBC has learned.
The discovery comes as Italy mourns 19 men killed in a suicide attack in Iraq last week.

The "Antiimperialista" organisation's internet campaign asks people to send "10 Euros to the Iraqi resistance".

Nineteen Italians were killed in last week's suicide attack in Nasiriya
They say they have collected 12,000 euros ($14,165) in the past eight weeks and admit the money used could be used to buy weapons.

The Antiimperialistas are a group of European anti-war and anti-globalisation supporters.

They are currently organising an anti-war demonstration in Italy next month, and it remains to be seen whether news of the fund-raising activities will deter more moderate anti-war activists from attending.

The organisation's Italian branch says the money will be given to an Iraqi resistance group known as the Iraqi Patriotic Opposition.

Independent Iraqi sources in London say the leaders of this group have a long history of association with the Baath party and are now back in Iraq supporting the armed resistance.



So let me get this straight: they admit that they are committing treason, and now they're going to expose themselves by holding a protest out in the open? Brilliant.

11.16.2003

UK to ban corporal punishment? 

That's what members of the Labour party in Parliament want to do. Excerpt:


Parents' right to smack their children would finally be abolished under a historic attempt to outlaw physical punishment within the home.

The Government is expected to include new laws on protecting children from abuse in the Queen's Speech next week, in response to the death of Victoria Climbié, the little girl who was killed in London by her great-aunt after social workers missed glaring signs that she was in danger.

Labour MPs are planning to tack an amendment onto the Child Protection Bill which would outlaw parental smacking, following warnings that too many abusive parents cover up ill-treatment by insisting that bruises are the result of 'normal' discipline. They are optimistic that Ministers will allow a free vote on the issue.

'The abolition of a husband's right to beat his wife surely did something about the status of women in our society, and in the same way this is about another kind of domestic violence,' said David Hinchliffe, chair of the Commons Health Select Committee.

'In every single classroom in this country there will be at least one child getting hit [at home]. More than one child a week dies at the hands of a parent or carer. For me, this is unfinished business and I want to see this change through before I go,' he said.

(snip)

However, many parents may fear being hauled through the courts for a slap that had been delivered in the heat of the moment. Three-quarters of parents in one Department of Health survey admitted they had hit their children.



While I think an outright ban is overboard, the last paragraph above illustrates quite well why I think spanking is generally ineffective and can be dangerous. If corporal punishment is done in a fit of heated anger, the message of discipline isn't communicated. The messages that are communicated are that (1) Dad (or Mom) is really angry and (2) it's okay to hit people when you're really angry.

I suppose corporal punishment can be administered in a level-headed and loving way, but if so, why not just take the time to discipline your child in some other fashion?

British ambassador says "I told you so" 

The Observer reports that Dick Cheney and the Department of Defense ignored the UK's warnings about chaos in post-war Iraq.

I've never really understood why people kept calling the UK America's lapdog. I always thought Tony Blair was much more eloquent in explaining the purpose of the war and the risks involved than George Bush ever was.

How bad do the Detroit Lions suck? 

Well, a number of people (especially Lions fans) probably have had this notion for a while, but the Detroit Lions as an organization were so awful and uncommitted to winning that they drove Barry Sanders into early retirement.

11.15.2003

Pot, meet kettle 

Here's what a Palestinian Authority textbook for an 11th grade course on Islamic culture has to say about Christian missionairies:



(Page 252): "Missionaries are one of the Western institutions used for intellectual invasion of the Muslim world. They tried to get the Muslims out of Islam by weakening the faith in their hearts and accepting the Western way of life. Outwardly they call for adopting the faith of Jesus, but in reality they try to facilitate the Western intellectual invasion of the Islamic countries… The missionary organizations throughout the Islamic world tried to weaken the faith in the hearts of the Muslims, to spread secular ideas to replace Islamic ideology and to pave the way for the occupation of Islamic countries and strengthening Imperialism in them…

"The missionary movement left deep impressions in Islamic life, such as:


"Admiration and adoption of the Western way of life… Materialistic and exploitative Western criteria and values and their understanding of life was common to the point that many Muslims yearned for it and turned to Western culture and literature.
"Weakening the Islamic spirit of the young generation as a result of weakening the faith in their hearts and the acceptance of contagious Western ideas and principles. Capitalist, Communist, and atheist ideas spread among the Muslims…
"Giving the educational system in the Islamic countries a Western flavor. The missionaries, with the help of Imperialism, were able to turn their philosophy and culture into educational foundations in many Islamic countries. Western history and culture became the main source of education and science-learning for Muslim children…
"Defamation of Islamic history and the life-histories of the Muslim Khalifs, and presenting Islamic history as [a series of] wars, conflicts, civil wars, revolutions, battles over power, and repression of citizens… "Faulting Islam, its Messenger, and the truth of his prophecies, and spreading misleading ideas, such as the claim that Islam expanded by the sword and by coercion. Also, faulting the divorce laws and polygamy and depicting Islamic legal punishments as inhumane."



The full article is here.

11.14.2003

Huh? 

From the KoreaTimes:



Korean Forces in Iraq Ordered to Stay Inside As Violence Spreads

By Ryu Jin
Staff Reporter
The two South Korean military units helping Iraqi rehabilitation efforts have suspended all activities outside their compounds in the aftermath of the recent bomb attack on Italian troops there, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

``All Korean troops in Iraq were ordered to stop missions outside the barracks until security is guaranteed after the deadly terror attack in Nasiriyah, which claimed the lives of 18 Italians,¡¯¡¯ said Col. Yuk Heung-soo, head of the overseas dispatch bureau of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

As a result, the Seohui unit _ which had been teaching construction techniques to some 90 Iraqi people at a school some 2 kilometers away from the bomb site _ immediately stopped its operations.

The Jema unit had been running a field hospital within a U.S. base there, strengthening inspection and checking procedures for visitors. It too has halted its outdoor activities, Col. Yuk said in a press briefing.

The South Korean troops, comprising 379 military engineers and 85 medics, replaced a 675-member non-combat unit, which left Iraq in October after a six-month deployment.

Seoul plans to heed the US request for more troops to Iraq, but the exact number and role of the additional dispatch have yet to be fixed. Domestic media has speculated that the government is leaning toward sending more than 3,000 troops, including some who are combatant-ready.

South Koreans are deeply divided over the additional troop dispatch. Advocates say it will further cement the Seoul-Washington alliance and produce economic benefits, while critics argue the country should not join in the unjustifiable U.S.-led occupation.



Can somebody tell me why exactly it is that the Korean troops are in Iraq, then?

(Thanks to Marmot for the pointer.)

Comparative poetry 

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

- Emily Dickinson

I'm your only friend
I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really I'm not actually your friend
But I am

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

I have a secret to tell
From my electrical well
It's a simple message and I'm leaving out the whistles and bells
So the room must listen to me
Filibuster vigilantly
My name is blue canary one note spelled l-i-t-e
My story's infinite
Like the Longines Symphonette it doesn't rest

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

I'm your only friend
I'm not your only friend
But I'm a little glowing friend
But really I'm not actually your friend
But I am

There's a picture opposite me
Of my primitive ancestry
Which stood on rocky shores and kept the beaches shipwreck free
Though I respect that a lot
I'd be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts
Bluebird of friendliness
Like guardian angels its always near

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch
Who watches over you
Make a little birdhouse in your soul
Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

(and while you're at it
Keep the nightlight on inside the
Birdhouse in your soul)

Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (and while you're at it)
Who watches over you (keep the nightlight on inside the)
Make a little birdhouse in your soul (birdhouse in your soul)

Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch (and while you're at it)
Who watches over you (keep the nightlight on inside the)
Make a little birdhouse in your soul (birdhouse in your soul)

Not to put too fine a point on it
Say I'm the only bee in your bonnet
Make a little birdhouse in your soul

- They Might Be Giants

Bughouse 

Gather round children, and I shall tell ye a tale of how the mighty Frank Calegari was defeated.

It was me and Noam Elkies vs. Frank and some other guy whose name I don't know. I mounted a modest kingside attack against Other Guy by dropping in two pawns, and I ended up winning a rook. Noam dropped in the rook on his board and Frank was forced to give up his queen to avoid mate. I finished off other guy with the queen.

If Noah Snyder is reading this, he needs to find some excuse to come to Boston for a weekend, because bughouse happens every Friday during wine and cheese.

A shocking statistic? 

In an article from the BBC about the US's plans to transfer political power to the Iraqis (while still maintaining its military presence) I saw a particularly striking caption which is not explained more fully in the article:



More Iraqis have died in guerrilla attacks than coalition troops



Is this statement correct? The guerrillas have killed more Iraqis than soldiers? If so, this puts a rather large dent in the notion that these guerrillas are "freedom fighters".

11.13.2003

Another referral from the log 

This one is rather specific: Who was Socrates, and what was he suggesting in the quote "the unexamined life is not worth

Steve Bartman's muffed foul ball to be auctioned off 

The Cubs fan who ended up with the ball has set a starting bid of $5,000.

Well, I can't really blame the guy for wanting to cash in. I wonder if Cubs fans would have thrown back Mark McGwire's 62nd home run ball if the game were at Wrigley? (McGwire hit it off of then-Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel.)

This could happen to you as well 

From the BBC, an Israeli man discovers his call girl is his daughter.

It could happen to you! 

Be discreet about what you blog, because you never know who might be reading.

NYC district bans nativity scenes, claiming they are not historically accurate 

From WorldNetDaily. Excerpt:



In a dispute over display of holiday symbols, New York City schools are allowing Jewish menorahs and Islamic crescents but barring Christian nativity scenes, alleging the depiction of the birth of Christ does not represent a historical event.

In pleadings with a federal court in defense of the ban, New York City lawyers asserted the "suggestion that a crèche is a historically accurate representation of an event with secular significance is wholly disingenuous."

The Jewish and Islamic symbols are allowed, the district says, because they have a secular dimension, but the Christian symbols are "purely religious."



School administrators are morons. But we already knew that.

The consensus among historians is that Jesus Christ existed. (Whether or not he was resurrected or is the Savior is of course another matter.) Meanwhile, many Jewish rabbis and scholars think that the story about the ritual oil lasting for eight days when the Maccabees reclaimed the temple is a myth (not to say that the myth doesn't have any spiritual value, of course).

To quote old man Jasper, "who shot who in the what now?"

(Thanks to Mike Paik for the pointer.)

For exhibiting the patience of Job 

Alan Trammell placed ninth in AL manager of the year voting, with one third-place vote. Cheers.

11.12.2003

EU takes on Microsoft re: bundling of Media Player and server software with Windows XP 

Link here.

Everyone who helped design Windows Media Player should be dragged out into the street and shot, on account of the spyware and the godawful .wma audio file format (if you're ripping tracks from a CD).

This guy's story is much more interesting than Jessica Lynch's... 

From the Associated Press, a brief account of a guy who was captured with Jessica Lynch. Here's a brief excerpt:



Miller, who said he was at best an average shot during basic training, told KMBC's Martin Augustine he hid behind a sand dune and started killing the Iraqi mortarmen one-by-one.

Miller, eventually captured and later released, subsequently was awarded the Silver Star for his actions, but said he was no hero, just a private first class.

"I was doing what I volunteered to do," he said.

After he and his fellow soldiers were set free, there were stories of Miller pestering the Iraqi guards by constantly singing a pro-American song, and by giving them chewing tobacco that he said was candy in hopes of making them sick.

"It's small victories that keep your hope up," Miller said. "You got to have small victories when you're in a situation like that."



What a sick, twisted, deviant mind. Why aren't all soldiers like that?

Latest Gallup poll from Iraq 

The Washington Post summarizes the results.

What can I say, the people in Iraq are just as conflicted as we are.

Irony 

I've noticed that many of the folks from my church who saw the Passion Experience Tour in Boston last week picked up Chris Tomlin T-shirts -- the ones that say "I am not famous" on the front.

I also noticed that many of them got their shirts autographed by Mr. Tomlin.

11.11.2003

Does George Bush have the will to win in Iraq? 

Bush is being assailed on both sides about a lack of commitment to rebuilding Iraq successfully.

The biggest complaint seems to be about the Bush administration's unwillingness to commit more troops to Iraq. Now everyone would like to see the guerillas in Iraq being hunted down more effectively, but unless we have enough troops to cover every square inch of Iraq, does it make that much of a difference if we add another 50,000 or 100,000 troops?

There are two components to the resistance in Iraq: Saddam's hardcore Ba'ath party loyalists and Islamofascist terrorists from outside Iraq.

To fight off the indigenous resistance, we need to get the Iraqi army and security forces up to speed so that they can help us do the job.

To eradicate Islamofascist terrorism, we need to destroy its source, and as far as I can tell the source of Islamofascist terrorism is pure, unvarnished anti-Semitism. (See here if you don't believe me.) And I don't think that finding a solution to the Israel/Palestine issue will eliminate terrorism; Hamas and Islamic Jihad are not so easily placated. I think that if both events happen, the causality will be reversed -- successfully combating terrorism will lead to a meaningful settlement between Israel and Palestine. So winning the peace in Iraq will require a huge commitment to the war on Islamic terrorism as a whole, and this means putting pressure on "allies" like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan to stop terrorists from operating within their borders. If Bush isn't fully committed to this task, major troubles lie ahead.

And then there's the whole fiasco with the Iraqi Governing Council, which I might or might not address later.

(We are not pulling out of Iraq prematurely. Not unless you want to hand the entire country to the terrorists on a silver platter.)

UPDATE: Josh Chafetz weighs in.

TMQ is back 

For now, he's at Football Outsiders. Thanks to Noah for the pointer.

Radio overkill 

I like the Beatles as much as the next guy, but the classic rock stations in Boston are really going overboard with all Beatles, all the time.

I guess it's to promote the new old version of Let It Be. But really, does it take that much imagination to decide what "The Long and Winding Road" and "Across The Universe" would have sounded like without the Phil Spector orchestral wall-of-sound?

WBOS (92.9 FM) might be the best station around here. Nice mix of old and new. They just played Van Morrison, Goo Goo Dolls and Men at Work in succession. Sunday morning blues on WZLX (100.7 FM) is good as well. Other than that, Boston's a real radio wasteland.

11.10.2003

A shocking reversal of course 

All of a sudden, Foggy Bottom officials think North Korea's nuclear weapons programs are much less further advanced than they originally thought? I too find this hard to believe.

11.08.2003

As many as 300,000 Iraqis buried in mass graves? 

That's what The Guardian is reporting.

The Guardian is a rather left-leaning publication, but I don't necessarily expect the hardcore leftists to believe the estimate, since it's given by an official in the coalition authority. Still, I'm hoping that some antiwar types will reconsider their opinions after hearing news like this. As I've said before, it was a major error by the Bush administration to focus on the dubious WMD threat and not on the human rights atrocities committed by the Ba'ath regime.

Ohio State University leaks a report of Maurice Clarett's academic progress? 

Okay, so we already knew that Ohio State football players are dumb as rocks and completely unmotivated academically, but if this report is true, it's a serious breach of student confidentiality.

It pretty much goes without saying that there's no way Clarett will be a Buckeye next year.

11.07.2003

Another gem from Scrappleface 

This one's about the new law banning partial-birth abortion.

Another one 

Another Iraqi has started a blog.

How would you explain Fermat's Last Theorem to a MBA? 

I managed to successfully explain to a Morgan Stanley recruiter how to parametrize the rational curve a^2 + b^2 = c^2, but how do you explain that if a^n + b^n = c^n, the elliptic curve y^2 = x (x - a^n) (x - b^n) is not modular?

11.06.2003

Political correctness gone horribly awry 

Okay, so these affirmative action bake sales are no longer original or clever, since there have been dozens of them receiving mention in the news. But the fallout from this latest one at the University of Washington is rather disturbing. The message the pinheads on the Board of Regents have sent is roughly this: it's not okay to make a social comment that lots of people will find offensive, but it is okay to react to such a comment with violence and destruction of property. Beautiful.

(Via The Volokh Conspiracy.)

Another one from the log 

What could you possibly expect to find from a Google search for "joshua tree" "ultimate frisbee tournament"?

11.05.2003

Passion Experience Tour 

So everybody and their dog (or at least everybody from my church, and their dog) went to see the Passion Experience perform at the Orpheum Theatre in Boston last night. If you click on the "St. John's KUMC" link in the sidebar, you can read a whole bunch of Xangas from people in my church in which they gush about the experience. A lot of the college girls sound like teenagers at a Backstreet Boys concert. It's kind of funny.

I didn't go because (1) I had to teach late Tuesday afternoon and probably wouldn't have been able to queue up early enough to get a seat and (2) contemporary worship music just doesn't do much for me. (I agree in part with Sarah Hinlicky's assessment, but the other thing is that this music is usually so varnished and unfailingly positive, rarely expressing doubt, frustration, anxiety, or plaintive cries to God the way the Psalms do.)

But apparently Chris Tomlin, one of the members of the Passion Experience, has recorded a cover version of "Where The Streets Have No Name" for the upcoming Artists United for Africa album. I don't know if Chris Tomlin's band performed Streets last night; if they did, maybe it would have been worth my while to go.

Or instead of performing Streets, maybe "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Or "Walk On". Or "Gloria". Or "Drowning Man". Or "When Love Comes To Town". Or "The First Time". Or "When I Look At The World". Or "40". I'm still perplexed that not everybody thinks that U2 is the greatest praise band in the world (or the greatest band in the world, period).

How to combat Asian flush 

After some experimental observation, it seems that if I consume one drink and then wait two hours, I'll be much less susceptible to Asian flush for the rest of the night.

It's like 1939 all over again 

According to the European Union, Israel is the biggest threat to world peace today. The US comes in what is essentially a tie for second with Iraq and North Korea.

(Thanks to Jay Caruso for the pointer.)

Full disclosure 

I read a op/ed by former deputy assistant Treasury secretary Mark Medish in yesterday's New York Times. In the column, he argued (rather unpersuasively) that Iraq's odious debts should not be cancelled. Fair enough, he's entitled to his opinion. (But for crying out loud, even the Wall Street Journal thinks Iraq's debts should be cancelled!)

HipperCritical did a bit of research on Medish and discovered that



Mark Medish is a lawyer in Washington and was a senior Treasury and National Security Council official in the Clinton administration. He represents international corporate creditors of Iraq.



Wow.

UPDATE: I'm wondering if I should try to return (or toss) my LG VX6000 cell phone and get a new one (even though I've only had it for three weeks). First, LG is one major corporation that's trying to recover its debts from Saddam's regime. Second, the camera on my phone is awful.

(If I signed up with Sprint PCS, I could get one of Sanyo's excellent camera phones. Of course, the problem would be that I'd be signed up with Sprint PCS.)

11.04.2003

This is a bit more serious than tattling on your friend who stole something from the store or cheated on an exam... 



Palestinians Condemn U.S. Reward Offer in Gaza Blast
Mon November 3, 2003 08:54 AM ET

By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinians Monday criticized as arrogant and insulting a U.S. offer of up to $5 million for information on those who carried out a bombing that killed three American security men in the Gaza Strip last month.

The security guards were traveling in a diplomatic convoy when a roadside bomb blew up their armor-plated vehicle in the first deadly attack on an American target in three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

"This is a very underhand act," Colonel Rashid Abu Shbak, Palestinian internal security chief, told Reuters in response to the reward offered Friday.

"Palestinian people, Palestinian security services and Palestinian factions do not work as mercenaries for anybody."

Shortly after the Oct. 15 bombing, a senior American official suggested some Palestinian security services were dragging their feet in cooperating with U.S. investigators probing the attack.

FBI agents have met at least twice with Palestinian investigators who have promised full cooperation.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment on the Palestinian reaction to the reward offer.

The reward, offered on the Web site www.rewardsforjustice.net, is for information leading to the arrest or conviction of those responsible for the attack.

The Web site said informants would be eligible for "protection of identities and relocation of their families."

"The Americans are arrogant. They think we are collaborators," said Gaza store owner Hashim Ali. "This is not Iraq and we do not sell out our people."

The main militant groups spearheading an uprising that broke out in Sept. 2000 after peace talks broke down have denied involvement in the attack.

A senior Palestinian official said recently investigators were looking into possible links between the attackers and foreign groups such as Lebanese guerrillas backed by Iran and Syria.

At least three Palestinians linked to an umbrella militant group called the Popular Resistance Committees are being held by Palestinian police for questioning in connection with the attack. The group has denied involvement.



I'd like to think that most Palestinians don't feel any sympathy toward or solidarity with those who murder innocent civilians, but I'm not so sure.

This is about as close to a "ticking time bomb" interrogation as you're going to get... 

...but apparently the Army isn't allowed to scare prisoners into giving information during wartime. Eeesh.

It's not as if the colonel was trying to scare the crap out of the Iraqi officer just for the hell of it...he had very good reason to believe that the officer knew something (which he did).

(Thanks to Tacitus for the pointer.)

Patriots vs. Broncos 

So with a bit under three minutes remaining in the game and the New England Patriots stuck with fourth-and-10 from their own 1, they took a safety. On the ensuing free kick, the Denver Broncos misplayed the ball and got stuck with it at their own 15. The Broncos went three-and-out, and the Patriots got the ball back at their own 42 with 2:15 remaining. The Patriots went on to score the winning touchdown.

ESPN's John Clayton calls it the Call of the Year. Oh, but if only TMQ were still around...he'd berate Bill Belichick endlessly for calling for three straight passes from his own 1-yard line.

(dumbfounded silence) 

Anybody need to rent friends or parents to attend their wedding?

I don't quite understand why anyone would do this. If your parents refuse to attend your wedding or you don't have friends, is it really so much worse to get married in private than it is to stage this elaborate yet fairly transparent charade? Isn't somebody in the crowd going to know that those people sitting at your table aren't your parents or your friends? (Unless, of course, everybody at the reception is a phony, but that rather defeats the purpose of having the reception, now doesn't it?)

11.03.2003

Supreme Court refuses to hear Ten Commandments appeal 

Link is here. The Supreme Court is going to hear the case about the guy who wants the words "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, however.

Now's probably as good a time as any for me to offer my opinion: According to previous precedents set by the Supreme Court, I think that it is unconstitutional for the Ten Commandments to be displayed in a state courthouse and for the words "under God" to be included in a patriotic oath that is required to be recited by students in a public school.

The Ten Commandments are clearly religious edicts, since they proclaim that "thou shalt have no Gods before me" and "thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain", and displaying them in a courthouse amounts to an unconstitutional endorsement by the government, according to precedent.

There's nothing wrong with the words "under God" being in the Pledge of Allegiance, but as long as that is the case, forcing students in public schools to say it in public assemblies and other functions forces them (at least the ones who pay attention to what they're saying) to acknowledge the existence of God; compelling students to acknowledge God in this way is unconstitutional.

Does this mean that the words "In God we trust" have to be taken off all our currency? Probably, if anybody cared enough to make a stink about it. I think that people who want these references to God to be kept in these public instruments are caught in a bit of a bind: if these words really aren't that big of a deal to anyone, why do they argue so vehemently in favor of keeping them? The fact that they are so strongly opposed to having them removed seems to indicate that the references to God in public institutions and civic exercises qualify as a real religious statement.

Previously I said that both examples are unconstitutional, according to previous precedents. However, I'm not sure I agree entirely with the previous precedents that have been set by the Supreme Court. Nowadays government institutions aren't allowed to do things that express "preferences" for one religion over another; it seems to me as if this is setting the bar really low. I'm not a legal scholar, and I haven't had time to research all the previous Supreme Court cases, so I'm playing it by ear here.

That said, I'm not entirely sure that posting the Ten Commandments inside a courthouse really amounts to an "establishment of religion," as the Founding Fathers understood it. Clearly some government employee in the courthouse is giving a religious endorsement, but nobody is making anyone read them, recite them or believe them. (It may be unnecessary, obnoxious and offensive, but I don't see that it automatically constitutes an establishment of religion.) Similarly, I think having a prayer as part of the Presidential inauguration is perfectly constitutional. Some minister is praying for the President; no one else has to join in. In contrast, making students in public schools recite the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance really does constitute an establishment of a religious belief.

Upon what sort of religious principles was our country founded? As I understand it, many of the Founding Fathers were Deists; they believed in some sort of benevolent God, but many of them had issues with the church, organized religion, and particularly the entanglement of the state with the church, leading them to leave England for the colonies. I think the Founding Fathers would say that God has endowed man with certain unalienable rights, and that the right not to have to acknowledge Him is one of those rights.

If you're a Christian, here's a quick thought experiment. Recite the Pledge of Allegiance, but instead of saying "under God", substitute the phrase "under Allah" or "under Vishnu" or "under that really cute guy Eddie from the Harvard math department, because he's so dreamy!". Decide if it offends your religious sensibilities. (Replace this example with some other instance of an unconstitutional establishment of religion if you prefer.)

It's worth mentioning that Jewish Americans typically are much more supportive of drawing boundaries between religion and government, probably because they've always been a religious minority in America (or in every other country of the world throughout history except Israel, for that matter). It's also worth mentioning that Christianity may not be the dominant religion in America forever; there's a chance that Islam will be the most popular religion sometime within the next 100 years. For those of us who are Christians, it's worth thinking about how we'd like to be treated if we were a religious minority.

If you thought using dolphins to detect mines was fascinating... 

Some folks in Israel think that it's a good idea to use pigs to guard the West Bank, because pigs are considered to be even more unclean by Muslims than they are by Jews.

Afghanistan's new constitution 

Read about it here.

This following bit scares me, though:



"The draft is based on Islamic principles and recognises that no law can be contrary to the sacred religion of Islam," the commission said in a statement.

Our correspondent says the draft makes no mention of Sharia law.


Confirmation of the Anglican Church's first openly gay bishop 

Apparently parts of the young Anglican church in Africa are really upset about it.

I've heard that the new, freshly established branch of the church in Africa tends to be really upset with the Anglican church in England, often accusing it of apostasy. I think I remember something about some Anglican preacher declaring that he didn't believe in God or somesuch, but I can't find a link right now.

What I want to know is this: how on earth could the church appoint a bishop who left his wife and kids for his new lover? Here's what the apostle Paul had to say about the qualifications of church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-5:



It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?).



Just for the sake of argument, we'll leave aside the bit about leaders being required to be heterosexual. (I myself am not completely sure of the morality of same-sex relations vis-a-vis Christianity; I do think that gay Christians have some compelling arguments, but I'll leave that for another post.) That aside, it's pretty hard to argue that a man who abandons his own household should be qualified to lead a church.

Verbal jousting 

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz spoke at Georgetown University a few days ago; here's a transcript of his speech and the ensuing question and answer session. During the Q & A session, two obnoxious students gratuitously slag off Wolfy and receive responses they might not have expected:



Q: Hi, Mr. Wolfowitz. My name is Ruthy Coffman. I think I speak for many of us here when I say that your policies are deplorable. They're responsible for the deaths of innocents and the disintegration of American civil liberties. [Applause] We are tired, Secretary Wolfowitz, of being feared and hated by the world. We are tired of watching Americans and Iraqis die, and international institutions cry out in anger against us. We are simply tired of your policies. We hate them, and we will never stop opposing them. We will never tire or falter in our search for justice. And in the name of this ideal and the ideal of freedom, we assembled a message for you that was taken away from us and that message says that the killing of innocents is not the solution, but rather the problem. Thank you. [Applause and jeers]

Wolfowitz: I have to infer from that that you would be happier if Saddam Hussein were still in power. [Applause]

I wish you could have come with me in July when we visited a little Marsh Arab village called al Amarah near the Iranian border. To get there you have to fly over desert the size of New Jersey. It is a man-made desert, created by Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the Gulf War. For thousands of years it's been a lush marsh. The Marsh Arabs are one of the oldest continuous human civilizations. They had figured out how to get milk out of water buffalo by breeding a new kind of water buffalo. It's not a small achievement. They produced some very large percentage of the vegetables for the entire country. They were peaceful people, but they also provided a refuge for the rebels that Saddam Hussein feared. So in the true traditions of Nebuchadnezzar, he simply proceeded to wipe them out by drying them out, by creating an environmental catastrophe.

There were half a million Marsh Arabs in 1991. The estimates today are somewhere between 40,000 and 200,000. When we got off the helicopters, the population was overwhelmingly women and children. The children's hair had that ugly rusty color that indicates severe malnutrition. But they were smiling and cheering and saying "Thank you Bush", "Down with Saddam" and finally hopeful that they might have a future.

For most of the Marsh Arabs liberation was too late, but for those people it came just in time. I think you ought to think about that. They're innocents as well. Far, far more innocent.

This has been a war that's been -- War is an ugly business. It is a brutal business. And a lot of those innocents died, by the way, because Saddam Hussein put his weapons in hospitals and other places. But it's ugly and it's brutal. But the alternative was far, far uglier, far more brutal. There's no question about that in my mind. [Applause]

Q: I'd just like to say that people like Ruthy and myself have always opposed Saddam Hussein, especially when Saddam Hussein was being funded by the United States throughout the '80s. And -- [Applause] And after the killings of the Kurds when the United States increased aid to Iraq. We were there opposing him as well. People like us were there. We are for democracy. And I have a question.

What do you plan to do when Bush is defeated in 2004 and you will no longer have the power to push forward the project for New American Century's policy of American military and economic dominance over the people of the world? [Applause]

Wolfowitz: I don't know if it was just Freudian or you intended to say it that way, but you said you opposed Saddam Hussein especially when the United States supported him.

It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies. [Applause] And it seems to me a time to have supported the United States and to push the United States harder was in 1991 when Saddam Hussein was slaughtering those innocents so viciously.

Look, let's back up a little bit. You and I should both calm down a little here.

Q: Okay. [Laughter]

Wolfowitz: This is not ideological, I don't believe. I think it is a moral issue. I respect the fact that you and the last questioner have deep moral concerns. War is an ugly thing. I agree with that. But butchers like Saddam Hussein are incredibly ugly.

I've known a lot of dictators fairly up close and personal. I take some pride in having helped to get rid of Ferdinand Marcos. I tried to get some changes in Indonesia and I took some pleasure when President Suharto left. But to quote that famous Vice Presidential debate, or to paraphrase it from a few years ago, Ferdinand Marcos was no Saddam Hussein. Ferdinand Marcos was not responsible for the deaths of a million Muslims.

I don't think there's much question here about the morality of having gotten rid of that regime. I also think that it's worth stopping and thinking from the point of view of the Iraqi people, and I'm not saying that they're the ones who should vote in our election. We should decide our President based on who Americans think is good for the American people. But I have to tell you that it sends a very unsettling message to Iraqis that our elections might decide their future.

When I visited the city of Najaf in July, met with the town council, and as I guess most of you, a well-informed audience know, this is one of the two holy cities of Shia Islam. It was pretty remarkable to be sitting with a town council that included one woman, a religious cleric as the head, and about 15 or 16 professionals for the most part in the rest of the group.

One of these professionals, I can't remember whether he was an architect or an engineer, asked me a two-part question. Part two, I'll start with, borders on the paranoid. He said are you Americans just holding Saddam Hussein as a trump card over our head? You may think that's paranoid, but if you'd been through what they went through in 1991, the suspicions about our intentions run very deep. The fear of what can happen to them if that regime comes back is palpable and enormous.

But the first question wasn't paranoid at all. In fact it was pretty sophisticated. He said what's going to happen to us if George Bush loses the election?

I told him as best I could, and I still believe it, that at bottom, no matter how partisan we get in our political debates, the American people stay to a certain center. If you look at the perseverance we had over many years of the Cold War, in spite of some pretty fierce policy debates, the United States really did stay the course. I think I did a pretty good job, maybe not of convincing him completely, but convincing him that we were with the people of Iraq until they succeeded.

I think this Madrid Conference sends a message that it's not just the United States. It's 70 countries in the world. And the fact that Najaf is now under the direction of a Spanish brigade with a Polish commander probably sends a good message.

But I have to tell you that when they hear the message that we might not be there next year they get very scared, and that fear leads them not to give us information about where the bad people are. It leads them not to want to serve on the town councils. It leads them not to want to risk their lives as policemen.

There are thousands of Iraqis right now who are risking their lives for future freedom for that country, and I think it would be good if they got an unequivocal message of support from this country. Thank you. [Applause]


11.02.2003

Damn Canadians 

Vancouver's Furious George has won the 2003 UPA Club Championships for the second year in a row, beating the Santa Barbara Condors 15-12 in the finals.

Methinks it's time for the invasion of Canada to begin.

The Iraqi army 

Zeyad thinks we need the Iraqi army -- not the hardcore Ba'ath loyalists in the Fedayeen and the Republican Guard, but the ordinary rank-and-file soldiers, many of whom deserted Saddam during the war.

11.01.2003

Read this 

Hwang Jang-Yop, North Korea's highest ranking defector, speaks.

Ultimate frisbee 

My dreams of playing competitive club ultimate were dashed in the short term when I cut open my hand in May, took two weeks to heal, and subsequently got cut from the team with which I was trying out. My dreams of playing competitive club ultimate were dashed in the longer term (permanently?) when a guy landed on me in a summer league game and crushed my kneecap.

I got to play in a little scrimmage with some of the guys on the Harvard team this afternoon, though. (When it's 75 degrees in November, what choice does one have?) It was pretty exciting -- the Harvard football game had just ended, so some guys who were doing some post-game tailgating around our field watched a little bit, and one guy went absolutely nuts when I threw a hammer to a receiver who made a nice diving catch for a score (called back on a pick, unfortunately).

When my knee starts acting up, I have problems playing defense and my top speed drops drastically, but I can still throw and catch pretty well.

Lousy ultimate frisbee is better than none at all, which is pretty much what I had been getting the last two and a half months.

It's just an order-of-magnitude estimate 

This entry is a little bit old, but it's never too late to read a Fisking of the first order.

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