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Saturday, October 05, 2002

thoughts of a card-carrying Boeotian ...

Dave Trowbridge has done it again; he's got me thinking. Cut it out, Dave, I gotta get some sleep! He pointed me to a very lucid summary of the arguments for regime change vs. disarmament, by Dwight Meredith. It's good stuff, it's lucid, but I'm afraid I have to disagree with parts of it.

In the first section: Possible reasons for regime change, I'm not happy with several points. Points 1 and 2 seem very reasonable.

#3 ... it is difficult to believe that we would fight a costly war (costly both in human and financial terms) over whether or not the oil-rich leaders of Kuwait received reparations from Iraq.
The emphasis on the idea that we are fighting to gain 'war reparations for Kuwait' is an unfair debating trick, putting forth the most trivial demand as if it were central. Other issues like the prisoners are glossed over.

#4. Not quite a fair argument. The Iraqis would still be liberated even if they ended up with an authoritarian government such as in Jordan or Kuwait. Saddam has nine different Gestapos competing for victims. Even an ordinary Arab government would be a vast improvement. Also #4 quickly slides into Imperial America that will reshape the entire Middle East and eventually the world, as if that has to be logically considered along with liberating Iraq. Not fair, it's a separate issue. (Also, any Iraqi government is going to sell oil; that's not really an issue.)

I would add a fifth argument. We are deeply involved with Iraq. We must consider the moral responsibilities that follow. We fought a war and massively bombed them, imposed sanctions. We even aided Saddam at one point. He is as brutal a dictator as Hitler was. Imagine that we had fought WWII, then negotiated a cease-fire and walked away without invading Germany. "Tough luck for those folks in the concentration camps. Hitler's not a problem, as long as we're safe."

In the Invasion for Regime Change section, it looks like most of the author's energy was put into the downside risks. The upside arguments are weak, and the strawman of reparations to Kuwait is again emphasized as if it were very important. There are stronger arguments that should have been included. Toppling one terror-supporting dictator will tend to set the tide running against the others. Also, much of our terrorism problem stems from the perception that America won't fight back. Only some serious fighting is going to change that (and if that perception is changed it will probably save lives in the future.

As for the downside risks:
1. There will be deaths, but these should be balanced against the deaths that will occur if we don't invade. Conditions in Iraq are very bad, and children really are starving. Our invasion of Afghanistan brought in relief supplies that certainly saved far more lives than the fighting cost.

2. The pool of alienated Muslims seems doubtful. Defeating the Taliban certainly hasn't had that effect. And destabilize much of the Middle East could just as well be an upside. It's likely to be our enemies who are destabilized. Especially Iran. Also, even the craziest regimes still pump oil. And we now have troops and bases in Pakistan. If a Islamic Revolution occurs, we'll surely grab those bombs.

3. Yes those are dangers. But which Arab countries are really keen to attack Israel? They know they'll lose. And Israel's precision munitions are just as good as ours. They could devastate Saddam's military, for instance, without massive civilian casualties.

4. A good point. But what we are trying to achieve is preemptive strike with international consensus.

5. Possibly. But right now a lot of governments are cooperating, including many who are officially opposed to our policies, and I don't think it's because they admire our pacifism. invading Afghanistan seems to have helped, not hindered.

6. Possibly, but these are also possible upsides. For instance, the present de-facto Kurdish state seems to be easing the Turk/Kurd problems.

The arguments in the For Disarmament section are strong, and the proposed inspectors would have teeth. Good. But again the arguments are slanted -- this is obviously the position that is intended to look best. For instance, Saddam might also be protective of his life in the event of an invasion. The argument about Bush taking a vacation is not useful; our military buildup and planning didn't stop in August, nor was Bush out of touch with affairs. No President ever is. The author says he suspects that Bush knows Saddam has no WMD capability, and seems to think this is a valid argument. Do I get to say I suspect Iraq has a Quadium Bomb?

Anyway, this guy Meredith seems to have his thinking cap on, and is very worth reading. But I'm afraid I'm coming at these things with very different values, and there often isn't really a meeting of minds. My hero, in my present mood, is Epaminondas, and I revere the big-hearted Boeotian bumpkins who marched in winter into the Peloponnese, defeated the Spartans, and liberated the Helots. They were better souls than the calculating and amoral Athenians. They were real men. We should emulate them.

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turning over rocks...

Yesterday I read this in Best of the Web:
...The doctor just said, 'Well, it is a strange victory if daily children are dying of hunger.' That was enough. Someone heard him. He was taken, tortured for three weeks and brought back a broken person. Letting one sentence slip is cause enough for a person to vanish into an Iraqi prison or even to be killed."--German humanitarian worker Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, interviewed in Ha'aretz, Oct. 4...
I'm thinking, what an object lesson Bush is serving up for the world: Leftists of every stripe, after yammering about Fascism for decades, are squirming, twisting, wriggling, writhing in agony, trying to avoid attacking a fascist dictator.

A cruel spotlight is now illuminating the most grotesque sorts of hypocrisy. For an instance, the recent expression of doubts by some retired generals had leftists immediately saying the the decision to go to war should not be in the hands of civilians !

SO, Seeing what an education this has been for all those with eyes to see, I propose another object-lesson. I would like to see President Bush announce that we are also going to invade Sudan.

In Sudan, blacks are currently being massacred and enslaved by the MILLIONS. By Arabs. This story has not been of much interest to the the press, or to Archbishops and academics -- perhaps because it might take some of the luster off their shining moral crusade against Israel. Colin Powell, (just one of those racist Republicans, pay no attention) calls it ''the worst human rights nightmare on the planet.''

It will be a right treat to see members of the Black Congressional Caucus flying to Khartoum, so as to discover that those stories about slavery are just lies by Bush; and that we should take the Sudanese leaders at face value when they say that their darkies are happy, and sing while they work. Or to see Jesse Jackson demanding reparations for slavery, while also opposing the evil War Against Sudan. And Multi-culturalists will have another aspect of Arab culture to be understanding about ... The Archbishop of Bormeenia will have a subtle and nuanced explanation of why 'international law' won't let us free the slaves.

Remember, war is harmful to children and other living things...

Friday, October 04, 2002

my response to that ad...

The Dems have recently posted a web ad with Bush pushing a screaming old woman off a cliff. Lovely folks.

If Republican leaders really believed the free-market ideas they pay lip service to, they might respond thusly...

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P. Krugman
#47: The man is delusional

The man is delusional. There is no other word for it. In "My Economic Plan" (10/04/02) Paul Krugman declares the key point of our current economic situation to be "this isn't your father's recession–it's you grandfather's recession..... It's a classic over investment slump, of the kind that was normal before WWII." One small problem–WE AREN'T IN A RECESSION. In fact, the mild recession we had was over before it was officially shown to have existed. That is, the data revisions that revealed two consecutive quarters of negative growth were released after the date the recession had already ended.

Here's the way we framed the issues a few months ago in Squad report # 25:

Back in 1999, Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Bank Chairman, gave a speech in which he pointed out that at the time he was speaking:
1) the strength of the world economy depended on the strength of the U.S. economy,
2) the strength of the U.S. economy depended on the strength of the stock market,
3) and the strength of the stock market depended on a dozen or so companies and NONE of them had ever made any money.
He was joking, of course; but it was one of those jokes with a point. The point most of those present had to acknowledge was the apparent fragile nature of the world economy at that time. And, sure enough, a few months later we entered what we now recognize as the blow-off phase of the new economy bubble.
After Volcker's speech if one had described a scenario in which a) the bubble would burst in early 2000, b) the NASDQ would fall by 2/3rds by the end of 2000, c) the economy would enter a recession and d) all of that would be followed by 9/11 and then asked the question: What will the economy be like in 2002? The answer by many, no doubt most, would have been severe recession or depression.
Yet, somehow this consensus forecast did not happen. The economy held together surprisingly well and, despite virulent skeptics, continues to do so. We all have our favorite theories as to why and how this happened and it is a subject that will be discussed for years.
And indeed we are still discussing it. But Krugman is discussing it as though the consensus depression forecast actually happened. It didn't! This really calls for an "Earth to Krugy" skit of some kind, but we aren't up to it right now.

However, there a couple of howlers to be noted.

In the first paragraph he says, "Let's put politics aside for once, and review where we are and what we should be doing." When you finish laughing, remember that this was written by a guy who for partisan political interests has yet to acknowledge the the present economy is growing faster, with less unemployment, than he believed possible just six years ago. See Squad report #43.

The other howler is the part of his economic plan that would extend unemployment benefits. First, as we just pointed out, unemployment is not high currently–in fact, it's lower than Krugman is on record as saying was possible. Moreover, as any labor economist will tell you, the surest way to keep unemployment high is to keep paying people to take their time looking for work. In short, this perscription is right out of the liberal playbook of yesteryear. We guess that "straightforward text book economics" he refers to is from a 1950's text book.

Finally, in today's column's last paragraph, Krugman tries to weasel out of his claim that there is a "smoking email" substantiating that Army secretary Thomas White was aware of improper concealment of financial losses while he was Vice Chairman of a division at Enron. He says he erred by citing a document that is now "considered unsubstantiated." Sorry, PK, but that won't wash. Here's what Krugman actually said in "Cronies in Arms" (09/17/02).
And new evidence indicates that Mr. Cheney's handpicked Army secretary was a corporate evildoer.

Mr. Cheney supposedly chose Thomas White for his business expertise. But when it became apparent that the Enron division he ran was a money-losing fraud, the story changed. We were told that Mr. White was an amiable guy who had no idea what was actually going on, that his colleagues referred to him behind his back as "Mr. Magoo." Just the man to run the Army in a two-front Middle Eastern war, right?

But he was no Magoo. Jason Leopold, a reporter writing a book about California's crisis, has acquired Enron documents that show Mr. White fully aware of what his division was up to. Mr. Leopold reported his findings in the online magazine Salon, and has graciously shared his evidence with me. It's quite damning..
If Leopold shared his evidence with Krugman and the email actually existed, then Krugman must have seen it. To say now that the email is unsubstantiated, means he didn't actually see it. But he clearly implied that he did see it. This whole thing stinks. The Times should take this opportunity to can him. He has already embarrassed the economics profession and is now proving to be an unreliable journalist.

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions.]
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Thursday, October 03, 2002

flakes from a Trichinopoly ...

I recommend a recent NRO piece by Stanley Kurtz:
...More than that, I am certain that the real explanation of the president's political forbearance is his determination to get a strong congressional resolution in support of the war. The president could have gone on the attack and shamed Bonior and McDermott for their words and actions, thus throwing the Democrats on the defensive weeks before a virtually tied election. And if, as a result, fewer congressional Democrats voted in support of the war, that vote could have been held over the heads of the doves for years after, just as with the Gulf War vote. But instead of attacking when the Democrats were vulnerable, the president threw away the partisan opportunity of a lifetime, in exchange for an attempt to forge a genuine national consensus about a war that he knows is necessary.

George Bush's very forbearance refutes Jim McDermott's scurrilous slanders. If the president had cooked up a bogus threat from Iraq to fight a war that would yield him partisan advantage before an election, he would have jumped on McDermott's slurs like a duck on a June bug...
"...partisan opportunity of a lifetime..." Chew on that.

If you look at W's past record, (and it's interesting how little attention it gets) you find that he seems to have acted in the past much like he does now. His record is all of a piece. (It's also interesting how different puppet-masters produce the same results.) He was notably successful as Governor of Texas, despite having a legislature controlled by Democrats. He tried from the first to work peacefully with the legislature, and since some of those Dems were sincerely interested in helping the state, once they got to know him they were willing to cooperate.

Some friends of mine have been examining the statements of the administration with particular care, and finding evidence of devious trickiness. Maybe they're right, and certainly we should never be too trusting of politicians.

But I suspect they are like a Sherlock so focused on tiny flakes of cigar-ash, they overlook a smoking-gun in plain sight. I myself see a lot of obtrusive evidence that we have a President who is an honorable Christian gentleman (this in the White House is a rare and fabulous beast, last seen in perhaps 1932). And he has gathered a multi-talented administration that's working together without noticeable infighting and backstabbing. When was that last seen??

* And somebody I read recently said that 'they' are "shouting-down all opposition." Brutal, those right-wingers...

* Gibes from my imaginary critics prompt me to add that I am not defending the administration's policies, some of which I disagree with...
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our state socialism beats theirs...

Rand Simberg has a splendid post on --you guessed it -- space:
...Because we were nominally a capitalist nation, America had much more wealth and ingenuity to throw at the problem, and we won. We beat the Soviets to the Moon.

But in so doing, we also lost, because we betrayed the fundamental values of our nation, and in so doing, we established a premature, sterile and unsustainable beachhead on another planet, and then abandoned it.

Today we continue to reap the fruits of that decision.

We have a space program whose purpose is at an extreme variance with its advertisements four decades ago.

It provides jobs, rather than hardware on orbit. "International cooperation" takes precedence over schedule or utility. The engineers working on them proclaim that the Shuttle and the International Space Station are the most complex systems in the world, as though that's a feature in which to take pride (whereas most competent engineers follow the principle of "KISS"--"Keep It Simple, Stupid.")

Forty-five years after the Wright brothers flew their first flight, thousands of aircraft had been built, and hundreds of thousands of people had flown, on routine commercial flights.

Forty-five years after Sputnik, space remains an elite destination--fewer than a few hundred people have visited it...

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Word note...

In the quote about Samuel Pepys yesterday (it's pronounced peeps, by the way), I was really thrown by the word Bezan. Dictionaries and Pepysian reference books were pulled out in vain. Then I Googled Bezan+ship and had the answer in 30 seconds:
...Charles II became very fond of yachting; and besides many yachts which were designed for him by Sir Phineas Pett, he is credited with having desired one for himself, named Jamaie, which was built at Lambeth.
The Jamaie was matched against a small Dutch yacht named Bezan in 1662 from Greenwich to Gravesend and back, and the King was gratified to find his vessel leading by three miles at the finish, although the little Dutch craft led by half a mile beating down, "the wind being contrary, but saved his stakes in returning, his majesty sometimes steering himself," according to Mr. Pepys. This is probably the first account of a yacht match, and the first record of an amateur helmsman. These yachts were, no doubt, sloop rigged, but yachts did not owe their origin to Charles II; for, as before said, the Plantagenets had their Royal yachts, and one later on, often referred to, the Rat of White, was built by Queen Elizabeth at Cowes. It is scarcely possible, therefore, that the Dutch can claim a greater antiquity for yachts than the English; and, indeed, so far as "yachting," as now understood, goes, there appears to be no doubt that it originated with Charles II, whose frequent yacht matches with his brother, the Duke of York, and his constant changing of his vessels, are duly recorded by Pepys...
The Hope which Pepys mentions is a stretch of the Thames below Gravesend,
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waiting for retraction

In #42, the Krugman Squad recently wrote about Krugman's accusations against Tom White. Here's an NRO article is about the retraction of the piece that Krug based his column on:
...Yesterday, Salon published another editor's note. "After careful review," the note said, "Salon's editors have decided to take down from our Web site an article titled 'Tom White played key role in covering up Enron losses' that we published on Aug. 29. We took this unusual step because we have come to the conclusion that we can no longer stand by the story in its entirety...

...To their credit, Salon's editors were the ones who informed their readers of the serious problems with Leopold's piece.

But readers of the New York Times have not been so well informed. Despite the seriousness of the plagiarism — which became public more than a week ago — Paul Krugman has not yet published a correction or a clarification of his original piece touting Leopold's work. Now that Salon has backed away from the e-mail story, Krugman's allegations seem completely baseless...

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I don't know if anyone is interested, but the Law Office project has moved ahead with the addition of the small table, which I made to go with those two chairs. I made the table-top from a pretty piece of birds-eye maple plywood that I had tucked away years ago...

Reception Area

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Dull Sam...

Natalie Solent just mentioned some creature who ranks Samuel Pepys with the worthy but dull. I'm too dull a fellow myself to properly refute this, so I will quote another dull chap:
Samuel Pepys...The whole world, town or country, was to Pepys a garden of Armida. Wherever he went his steps were winged with the most eager expectation; whatever he did, it was done with the most lively pleasure. An insatiable curiosity in all the shows of the world and all the secrets of knowledge, filled him brimful of the longing to travel, and supported him in the toils of study. Rome was the dream of his life; he was never happier than when he read or talked of the Eternal City. When he was in Holland, he was 'with child' to see any strange thing. Meeting some friends and singing with them in a palace near the Hague, his pen fails him to express his passion of delight, 'the more so because in a heaven of pleasure and in a strange country.'

He must go to see all famous executions. He must needs visit the body of a murdered man, defaced 'with a broad wound,' he says, 'that makes my hand now shake to write of it.' He learned to dance, and was 'like to make a dancer.' He learned to sing, and walked about Gray's Inn Fields 'humming to myself (which is now my constant practice) the trillo.' He learned to play the lute, the flute, the flageolet, and the theorbo, and it was not the fault of his intention if he did not learn the harpsichord or the spinet. He learned to compose songs, and burned to give forth 'a scheme and theory of music not yet ever made in the world.' When he heard 'a fellow whistle like a bird exceeding well,' he promised to return another day and give an angel for a lesson in the art. Once, he writes, 'I took the Bezan back with me, and with a brave gale and tide reached up that night to the Hope, taking great pleasure in learning the seamen's manner of singing when they sound the depths.'

If he found himself rusty in his Latin grammar, he must fall to it like a schoolboy. He was a member of Harrington's Club till its dissolution, and of the Royal Society before it had received the name. Boyle's Hydrostatics was 'of infinite delight' to him, walking in Barnes Elms. We find him comparing Bible concordances, a captious judge of sermons, deep in Descartes and Aristotle. We find him, in a single year, studying timber and the measurement of timber; tar and oil, hemp, and the process of preparing cordage; mathematics and accounting; the hull and the rigging of ships from a model; and 'looking and improving himself of the (naval) stores with' – hark to the fellow! – 'great delight'...
---Robert Louis Stevenson

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P. Krugman
#46: Everything's changed, but Bush is still at fault...

Remember Paul Krugman's disaster scenario # 1. We heard it adnauseum all during 2001 and early 2002? The irresponsible Bush tax cut, which went only to the wealthy, was turning surpluses into deficits, raising long-term interest rates, choking off investment and destroying the economy. But then long-term interest rates went down, and down some more. Oops! – they are now at 40-year lows.

Well never mind. Here comes disaster scenario #2 and the only thing that HASN"T CHANGED is that the Bush administration is still at fault. In "Dealing With W" (10/01/02) Krugman rehashes previous columns of the last few months in which he fantasizes about a double dip recession that will pull the Democrats to victory.
Interest rates are now TOO LOW, in fact, dangerously low. Deflation, Japanese style, now threatens us. Deficits are not large enough (no mention of those highly touted surpluses). Basically, he wants to spend more money–on anything. Even those Japanese public works programs building "bridges to nowhere…. [and] highways with no traffic" don't look so bad to him now. No mention of rescinding the Bush tax cuts?? The fact that he's done a 180 in his reasoning does not seem to faze him. Actually, he's said it all before, and we have responded. See squad reports # 35 and # 36

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions.]
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encouraging political debate...

Some neighbors left a flyer on my doorstep, urging me to do what I can to stop this war, by daily calling the Senators and Congressmen who 'represent' me. Well, go for it, neighbors, do what you can to drag your party into the idiotarian swamps. I was about to say drag your party leftward, but that can't be the correct word -- the left has been denouncing Fascism as long as I can remember, so surely they will be delighted with a chance to remove a genuine Grade-A-Prime fascist dictator? Wouldn't you think so?

Perhaps I'll call Senators Boxer and Feinstein and tell them I'll never vote for them if they support this wicked attempt by President Bush to liberate the people of Iraq, and impose the evils of capitalism on their happy socialist state.

Actually, as a Republican, I'm concerned over the recent slide of the Dems into screwball realms. We need two parties, and if the Democrats dissolve into McGovernite irrelevance again, they may summon another Nixon up from the depths.

We need a loyal opposition. The party in power needs quality criticism. Government is like a car driven by an almost-blind man. And democracy is like roadside barriers that the car keeps crashing into, and bouncing back into the roadway amid grinding noises and clouds of rust. Even the best people, once they get into government, are likely to go astray.

Clearly my expectations of government are very low. For instance, I haven't been able to get too worked up about Gerhard Schroeder, even though he is being dishonorable and foolish to an extreme. And I didn't find myself agreeing with a recent post by Dave T, where he dissected various inaccurate statements by members of the administration, and likened them to a mendacious pattern of lies. Me, I think that webloggers can be held to truth-standards of the most minute exactitude, but if government is even remotely close to correct, we should say Hallelujah, honest politicians at last...

On the other hand, for nations I have very high expectations. If Germany turns into marshmallow fudge, I am cruelly disappointed. Likewise France. If they fail the tests of our time, it's as if my aunts and uncles were discovered to be fools and wastrels.

* Actually, I think all human groups tend to turn into that "blind driver." The successful groups are the ones that have something to smack them back into the roadway. Businesses get bumped by competitors and the Stock Market. Voluntary groups lose their volunteers, or their donations.

The tragedy of the modern era is that nobody has discovered a way to bump and thump government bureaucracies back onto the road. That would be an invention to outshine the light-bulb, or the Internet...

* My imaginary critics point out that I'm being inconsistent; saying government needs good criticism, then dismissing Dave's criticism with a wave of the hand. Noted. Tough. And no, I'm not going to get a 'comments' feature and let strangers trample through my weblog with muddy boots. Anyway, the imaginary peanut-gallery is noisy enough..

Monday, September 30, 2002

P. Krugman
#45: High School History

The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 caused World War I. Right? Well, that’s the way some of us learned it in high school American history class. Only when we went to college did we learn that the assassination was a negligable event and that WW I had complex social and economic causes that were global in scale.

"In Broad Daylight” (09/27/02) Paul Krugman takes us back to high school with yet another simplistic column identifying market manipulation as the cause of the recent California electricity crisis. There is not a word about the nationwide rise in the price of natural gas that constitutes about ninety percent of electricity generation costs. Nor is there any mention of the explosion in August 2000 that shut down the El Paso pipeline that carries natural gas from Texas to southern California. Likewise, nothing is said about the three-year drought that reduced reservoir and river-flows levels and reduced hydroelectric generation in California substantially beginning in 1999. And, of course, California’s lame-brained “deregulation” scheme that shielded consumers from price rationing is not considered as a factor.

What makes this particularly shameful is that Krugman knows better than to try to peddle a few cases of alleged market manipulation as the cause of anything so grand as a “$30 billion robbery.” What he’s really doing is grinding an ax for Gray Davis and the sorry lot of California Democrats trying to escape blame for the electricity crisis.

But, we, like Krugman, have said all of this before. For more see squad report #9

[The Truth Squad is a group of economists who have long marveled at the writings of Paul Krugman. The Squad Reports are synopses of their discussions.]

* Note: Steve Verdon writes that he is starting his own Krugman Watch. I say: go for it! The more the merrier we shall be ...
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Sunday, September 29, 2002

Now let's all sing "Blowin' In The Wind"

(This is an enlargement on a comment I put in one of Bill Quick's posts. The post itself is a collection of SF idiocy so bad it stunned even me.)

...Andy's sure right about the two sides switching places. I think that the image or picture of stuffy puritans that the young of the not-too-distant future will rebel against may not be American Gothic; but maybe a lefty professor in tweed jacket, grizzled beard and pipe... or perhaps a shrill "feminist" who wants to end date-rape (except by prominent Democratic politicians) by outlawing dating.

Not long ago I transported some teenagers on a camping trip in my van, and I told them I didn't want to listen to rap music on the way. One impertinent young miss said: what do you listen to, Tony Bennett? Well, it wasn't very witty because she was off by a whole generation. The truly cruel put-down of a boomer-turned-grown-up would be: What do you listen to, Peter Paul and Mary? (Or even the Rolling Stones, the poor old fellows. ) It's painful to think, but they're still out there, Peter Paul and Mary, singing "If I Had a Hammer," supporting lefty causes... but now they're trying to stave off change! A Liberal Activist is someone trying to preserve sclerotic government programs that were invented when I was a youth. Or trying to pretend we are still in the Civil Rights Era. In other words, probably a pompous stick-in-the-mud.

It used to be that if there was an over-the-top comedian who said impudent things that outraged stuffed-shirt reactionaries, they would always be coming from the left. Who's doing it now? Ann Coulter. When people make niggling criticisms of Ann's factual accuracy, they're showing that they just don't get it. They don't even see that they are part of the jape; she pulls their noses and pokes them in the eye, and the best part of the jest is the ponderous shock and outrage of the straight-man.

Ploffff, a cream pie in the face...we should convert all those Moslems to Christianity! Cream pie wiped off red spluttering stammering face....She can't SAY that... it's, it's, it's, it's TERRIBLE...Ploooffff, another cream pie...I have to say I'm all for public flogging...

I'm just glad I'm alive to see such times.
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Tip: moving Eudora's address book to OS-X

Perry de Havilland at Samizdata asked me if I knew how to move his Eudora address book to Apple's new Mail program. I felt very wizardly and clever knowing the answer.

If you go here, you will find a program to export Eudora addresses to V-Cards, which the OS-X Address Book can import. The neat thing is that all OS-X programs can or will be able to use one Address Book. You won't need seperate lists for e-mail, faxes, Christmas cards ...

*Update: I just noticed a post that Perry wrote, with a picture of a cancer-hospital employee taking a cigarette break. I can top that, I once knew a noted authority on emergency-room medicine. He wouldn't wear a seatbelt! But my father could have topped my story. He was a nurseryman, and knew a plant pathologist, an expert in plant diseases. The man was a Christian Scientist, and didn't believe in human diseases!