Thursday, August 28, 2003

Bali bomber thanks anti-war protesters

Attention anti-war protesters: Turns out you did aid terrorists. Sawad, the guy who mixed the Bali bomb thanked the anti-war protesters.

"I want to thank the Australian people who supported our cause when they demonstrated against the policies of George Bush. Say thank you to all of them," Sawad said.

Isn't that what I was saying back then, and being accused of hyperbole?

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Today's nominee for most baffling website...

Via Dave Barry's blog:
ElDorado & The Re-Penting of America:Pictorial Map to America's Geomantic Global Role

Anyone understand anything on this website?


Didn't think so.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Press Release...


Molly Kaufman, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier star of AT&T commercials who normally lives in the fashionable West Village of NYC with her people, David & Stacey, took a brief break from relaxing in Martha's Vineyard this past week in order to participate in the dog show held at the Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society Fair, where she placed second.

Since it was her first dog show (and likely only, since she's spayed) she was ok with not taking first, though disappointed, and celebrated by terrifying a few nearby pigs.

She then requested a trip to the beach where she romped in the surf, pausing only to point out particularly repugnant odors hiding in the seaweed to her happy, yet mildly nauseated people.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

"And then we'll play Pin The Hand On The Leper!"

James Lileks' column in the Tribune from Sunday (which is, of course, extremely funny) alerted me to what may conceivably win the "sick humor kids party game" award. On The Totanic, one of those inflatable bouncy things that kids can jump on, your child party-goers may, according to the website,
Experience the thrill of sliding down the deck of the Totanic from 20 feet
above the ground, with an icy cold bounce waiting for you at the bottom!

Excuse me?

It reminded me a little bit of the "sick humor kids handheld game" award winner when I was a kid, a Nintendo "Game and Watch" called (depending on who marketed it) either Fireman, Fireman or just Fire.

In the game, you controlled these two paramedic guys with a stretcher who had responded to a fire. Babies would come out of the burning building and you had to bounce the babies over to the waiting ambulance and safety. If you dropped one, there would be a little LCD "splat" (complete with tiny blood drops) and then a little baby angel would appear in the top right corner. Three baby angels, and the game was over.

My mother called it Dead Babies and depending on her mood, sometimes played to lose.

UPDATE: It turns out that some enterprising person made a Windows simulation of Dead Babies which can be found on this page.

But Gray Davis didn't play Conan The Barbarian, did he?

The FCC's Equal Time doctrine is causing some stations some consternation, apparently. The Washington Post reports that:

Arnold Schwarzenegger's foray into California's gubernatorial recall election poses a dilemma for broadcasters who might be tempted to show his films during the race: Doing so would allow rival candidates to demand equal time.

For that reason, broadcasters in California will likely not air Schwarzenegger movies such as "Total Recall" and the "Terminator" or a repeat of a "Diff'rent Strokes" episode with Gary Coleman for the next few months.

Quote of the Decade...

Received in an email and after absolutely no fact-checking, I present you with the quote of the decade:

Nominated for Quote of the Year is the statement made by Texas Congressman Dick Armey.

When asked,

"If you had been in President Clinton's place would you have resigned?"

Armey replied:

"If I had been in the president's place I would not have gotten the chance to resign. I would have been lying in a pool of my own blood, looking up, and listening to my wife ask, 'How do you reload this son of a bitch'?"


Bush's Big Blunder

Opinion notes today George Bush's ability to repeal the unbelievably dumb steel tariffs his administration imposed in March 2002 in an apparent attempt to kill the economy.

Tariffs are always a bad idea, increasing prices to consumers while sheltering uncompetitive businesses. Steel tariffs are especially harmful, because steel is a widespread raw material. It becomes more expensive to build buildings, so housing prices go up. It becomes more expensive to build cars, trucks and railroad tracks, so the price of transportation goes up. And since food is largely, you know, transported, food prices go up.

So thanks to steel tariffs, struggling single mom on a budget finds it harder to pay rent and buy oranges for Junior. The liberal response is to "tax the wealthy" and make the government subsidize single mom, too. How about just taking the government out of the subsidization business and stop "helping," OK?

Monday, August 11, 2003

Phenomenal cartoon...

I don't know if you guys are aware of Cox and Forkum, a couple of Objectivist (Ayn Rand devotees) cartoonists, who have some of the best political cartooning going. This one's particularly good.

Friday, August 08, 2003

I like Norman

Norman Geras is a recent addition to the blogosphere, but quickly a highly popular one. He got ringing endorsements from Andrew Sullivan, Roger Simon, Michael Totten, etc. and has gained a quick and large following. And he deserves it. He is a proud Marxist, a Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester and a strong and eloquent opponent of the anti-war left.

Today, he had a lovely piece critiquing an article by Simon Tisdall of the Guardian. In the article, Tisdall, while bashing Bush and Sharon, seemed to make some kind of concession when he described suicide bombings by Hamas as 'utterly wrong'. Norm took what may have slipped in as a nuanced view and made it blindingly obvious why such a glib characterization is dangerous and wrong. Some of the money quotes:
"Well, these things are very much a matter of judgement, but to me 'utterly wrong' is something you might say when someone had gratuitously insulted a sensitive friend and so hurt their feelings; or, moving along the appropriate range, when they had stolen the most cherished possession of this same friend after a long spell enjoying the hospitality of his or home... I would even accept that you can bump up the wrongness-content a good way here, to get much worse acts than these, and 'utterly wrong' might still be apt. But blowing up a bus full of, say, children on their way to school, people off out to the shops or to visit a friend; or blowing up a cafe or restaurant full of, say, people celebrating a wedding or a birthday, or just meeting friends to eat; and killing many of these people, and leaving others with broken bodies, shattered limbs, lives much worse, forever, from that day on, 'utterly wrong' to my ear doesn't seem to meet the case... For we can certainly say that, whether or not it is apt to describe suicide bombings as 'utterly wrong', they are acts of murder as well. (Scroll back: 'Bob, it was utterly wrong of you to kill that dentist.' Hmmm.) And, being acts of murder planned as a matter of policy by organized political groupings, and directed systematically against a civilian population, they represent a campaign of mass murder, and are crimes against humanity...Genocide and massacre are not a legitimate part of war, and the mass murder of civilians is not a legitimate mode of resistance to occupation or to anything else...Simon Tisdall's simplifications have been worth noticing at this length because they have become standard with an appreciable sector of left and liberal opinion."
My partial highlighting does not do it justice. Read the whole thing.

Also, just noticed this post dissecting Edward Said. I like Noman a lot!

Thursday, August 07, 2003

A Coincidence? I think not: Anti-semitism watch

The Seattle Times published an unbelieveable op-ed cartoon the other day. After Stefen Sharkansky blogged about it, Mike Silverman found a Nazi propaganda cartoon from the 1930's. Little Green Footballs then showed the images together. Please take a look at it. My absolute astonishment is surpassed only by my dread. The silver lining: the blogosphere is doing wonders -- and working together -- to track this stuff.

The New Yemen Times

Shocked, shocked did you say, that the NYTimes would substitute opinion for facts? Jeff Jarvis had a wonderful catch today:
Who do they think they are, the Guardian?
: Tucked into a New York Times story from Baghdad about postwars rumors and urban legend -- rumors that soldiers' specs have X-ray vision -- comes this gratuitous swipe:
Of course, Americans have been circulating their own kinds of legends, starting with the fantasies a few months ago that the occupying troops would be peacefully welcomed by a nation of grateful flower-waving citizens.
Show me the official predictions of that and I'll show you the stories about Iraqis who were, in fact, relieved and welcoming.
The administration never did say it would be easy; in fact they went to lengths to say it wouldn't be. Some people outside the administration (on the web, in the media, etc) were predicting otherwise and some were certainly hoping for a flowery reception, but the government did not take that position. Having said that, there were plenty of stories of a welcoming reception by Iraqis. One of the best things about blogging is that there are people like Jarvis who will not let the Times get away with their crap.

This guy's just great.

I think I'm turning into a James Lileks groupie. Today's Bleat is chock-full of juicy Lilek-ness. Some choice excerpts:

Re: Folk music
I hate that stuff. My dad had a Kingston Trio record, and even at the tender age of 7 I could tell this stuff was for dweebs. The sound probably hung in your clothes like cigarette smoke; you’d pass bullies, they’d twitch their nose, hiss “Tom Dooley!” and beat you up. It’s so frickin’ earnest, that’s what kills me. And so lyrically inane: “If I had a hammer.” Well, what’s stopping you? Go to the hardware store; they’re about a buck-ninety, tops.

Re: The new gay bishop, Rev. Gene Robinson

This story has irritated me from the start, and it has nothing to do with Rev. Robinson’s sexual orientation. The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me. Marriages founder for a variety of reasons, and ofttimes they’re valid reasons, sad and inescapable. But “I want to have sex with other people” is not a valid reason for depriving two little girls of a daddy who lives with them, gets up at night when they're sick, kisses them in the morning when they wake. There's a word for people who leave their children because they don't want to have sex with Mommy anymore: selfish. I'm not a praying man, but I cannot possibly imagine asking God if that would be okay.

. . .

Who are you to judge? is the standard response, and I quote Captain James T. Kirk when asked the same question by Kodos the Executioner: who do I have to be? I’ll tell you this: my nightmare is losing my daughter. The idea of leaving her on purpose is inconceivable, and I don’t care if Adriana Lima drove up the driveway in a '57 BelAir convertible, tossed me the keys and asked me to drive her to Rio, it ain’t gonna happen. I made a promise when I married my wife, and I made another when we had our daughter. It's made me rather cranky on the subject of men who don't stick around.

. . .

If he’d cast off his family to cavort with a woman from the choir, I’m not sure he’d be elevated to the level of moral avatar – but by some peculiar twist the fact that he left mom for a man insulates him from criticism. It’s as if he had to do it. To stay in the marriage would have been (crack of thunder, horses neighing) living a lie, and nowadays we’re told that’s the worst thing anyone can do. Better to bedevil other lives with the truth than inconvenience your own with a lie. Right? If others are harmed in the short run, eventually they will be happy because you’re happier. Right?

Read the Bleat daily. You'll thank yourself.

The rest of his site, which is extensive, is perhaps the world's finest internet time-suck in existence. Explore the site and you'll find yourself unable to do work, partially because you can't stop clicking and partially because you're laughing too hard.

And unlike Dave Barry (whom I also like) he doesn't think everything's a good name for a rock band.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Oh, no....

Stuart has joined the blogosphere. What I said for Susan applies here too.... the blogosphere will never be the same. In this case, I might add, that it may never recover! Welcome Stuey! And I will be on guard to spell check from now on (I actually noticed it and thought I had corrected it, as I had in the body of the text!). Yikes.


Hypocrisy is spelled with an "i" after the "r," not an "a." My pedantic character is now amply demonstrated..


Susan: Wherefrom cometh your citation to the movie "Lips?" We have been married for 35 years, and I have never heard reference to that movie from your "lips" or anyone else's.

Okay - I surrender - Look Ma, I'm blogging

Re: Peter's prescient essay citing Tom Friedman... all that I can say about Friedman is that even a stopped clock is right twice a day. Friedman occasionally stumbles into the truth, but he usually does his best to extricate himself from it.
As to movies: I have watched the "Colors" trilogy by the director, Kristof Kislowski (sp?), and it blew me away. I am embarassed to admit it, because it sounds so film studentish, but they are superb.
There, David, I've done it - I've blogged for the huddled masses. Does anyone read this other than the closed circuit of people who write here?

World Class Hypocrisy

I read Tom Friedman's piece in the NYTimes and laughed out loud. He had the perfect reaction to Amr Moussa's questioning of the legitimacy of the 25-member Governing Council that was appointed in Iraq in which Moussa said "If this Council was elected, it would have gained much power and credibility." The money quote from Friedman:
I love that quote. I love it, first of all, for its bold, gutsy, shameless, world-class hypocrisy. Mr. Moussa presides over an Arab League in which not one of the 22 member states has a leader elected in a free and fair election. On top of it, before the war, Mr. Moussa did all he could to shield Saddam Hussein from attack, although Saddam had never held a real election in his life. Yet, there was Mr. Moussa questioning the new U.S.-appointed Iraqi Council, which, even in its infant form, is already the most representative government Iraq has ever had.
That is just it, isn't it. It is absolutely amazing what is said by many members of the Arab leadership throughout the Middle East, the incredible hypocrisy of the statements made with the convictions of a true-believer---and the way it is generally treated by the press as a legitimate expression of thoughtful and representative opinion. The only way to respond to that crap that is truly effective is the way Friedman did... directly, harshly, openly and repeadedly -- until people get it.

In particular, take a look at what Dershowitz had to say in his upcoming book, A Case for Israel, with respect to the same concept in terms of the treatment of Israel (emphasis mine):
If the tone of this book sometimes sounds contentious, it is because the accusations currently being made against Israel are so often shrill, uncompromising, one-sided, and exaggerated... These false charges must be answered directly and truthfully before a tone of compromise and mutual acknowledgment of wrongdoing can be restored and the issues debated on their often complex merits and demerits. But all too often, today's debate, especially on university campuses, is characterized by contentious and one-sided accusations made by those seeking to demonize Israel. They are often answered by far more candid acknowledgments of wrongdoing by defenders of Israel and a tone of apology that often panders to the accusers.
I think he's got a good plan.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The Bomb

Did you see Kristof's piece in the NYTimes today on the US' use of the bomb in Japan? I am floored; I actually can't believe he wrote it. It is extremely thoughtful and acts as a good rebuttable against those who seek to deny any moral standing to the US forever on the issue of WMD. That we dropped the bomb has always been, to me, a horrific act -- unbelievably tragic -- yet an act that can only be understand in the horrific nature of that war and its tremedous cost. Hence, the money quote from Kristof:
"It feels unseemly to defend the vaporizing of two cities, events that are regarded in some quarters as among the most monstrous acts of the 20th century. But we owe it to history to appreciate that the greatest tragedy of Hiroshima was not that so many people were incinerated in an instant, but that in a complex and brutal world, the alternatives were worse.
Read the whole thing.

It's true... Susan has logged on....

And the blogosphere will never be the same. I'm not joking! Watch out Lileks. This will be awesome.

PS David was right; I should not have hesitated on Raiders of the Lost Ark, a truly amazing movie. And not including Godfather II was the result of a very small but highly effective and temporary brain aneurism. I hope it doesn't happen again.

Susan's list is remarkable. I have seen almost all of them and they are terrific. And if you find more than 5 of them coinciding with the blogger top fifteen, I would be amazed. It's a generational thing. I feel slightly embarassed for not having Katherine Hepburn in there; my choice would also have been Bringing Up Baby. And while Susan's summary of Citizen Kane as "your typical story about a boy and a sled" had me in stitches, the movie IS AMAZING. Beside remarkably influential, it is a story of innocence lost ... family, friendship, principles, and love, all taken away or squandered. Now what is more poignant than that?

And if you don't know about it -- and you should -- the best internet site for movies and trivia is Please bookmark it. Now. Just do it. Please.

Monday, August 04, 2003

Susan decides to test the water ...

Okay - I think I may finally have gotten the hang of this blog stuff. Learning that I had to log on was a good step (thank you David).

So, I started thinking about what were my 10 (or 15) all time favorite movies. Please note that I'm making these MY all time favorites. I am not judging them as "films" or art or anything else. Just the ones I liked the best. So far, this is what I came up with off of the top of my head. I think you will figure out that (1) I like being entertained (rather than made to think); (2) I like romance; and (3) I like repartee.

But I did want to say, preliminarily, I've seen Citizen Kane a couple of times and I've never understood what all the hoopla is about. I mean, really ... it's your typical story about a boy and a sled.

Okay, here goes:

(1) Anything with Cary Grant in it except Gunga Din (which I personally thought sucked) and I also am not all that crazy about She Done Him Wrong (although since that was just about his first movie and he was about 20, I'll excuse him). I intended to just include a couple, but once I started, I realized they would take up the whole allotment as a category, and it's just too difficult to rate them in any particular order of preference, so I'll just do them alphabetically:

An Affair to Remember (w/ Deborah Kerr)
Arsenic and Old Lace (w/some dotty old ladies)
Bringing Up Baby (w/ Katherine Hepburn)
Charade (w/ Audrey Hepburn)
Father Goose (w/ Leslie Caron)
I Was a Male War Bride (my real all time #1) (w/ Ann Sheridan)
Indiscreet (w/ Ingrid Bergman)
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (w/Myrna Loy)
Mr. Lucky
North By Northwest (w/ Eva Marie Saint)
Notorious (w/ Ingrid Bergman)
Operation Petticoat (w/Tony Curtis and Dina Merrill)
Philadelphia Story (w/ Katherine Hepburn)
The Awful Truth (w/Irene Dunne)
The Front Page (w/ Rosalind Russell)
Topper (w/??)

(2) The Thin Man series, with William Powell and Myrna Loy - what style! what clothes! what grace!

(3) A Little Romance (one of the best ever - see David's comments)

(4) All of the Katherine Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies (even Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, although that's my least favorite). They were just so perfect together.

(5) African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn

(6) Sabrina, with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn

(7) The Producers, with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder (David, how COULD you forget ...!!!)

(8) Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman (this is one of those movies that you shouldn't over analyze because then it just gets silly. My favorite ridiculous aspect: Poor Ilse is tramping around Europe, one step ahead of the Gestapo, finally escapes from war-torn Europe with her scant possessions ... which just happen to include several wide brimmed hats, each needing its own hatbox, and several immaculate white linen dresses, which always appear to be perfectly pressed. My goodness -- do you think it will all fit on the plane to Lisbon? Or will she have to pay for excess baggage?)

(9) The musicals with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (all that wonderful dancing!!!)

(10) Tom Jones, with Albert Finney and Diane Cilento and a cast of thousands.

(11) Dr. No, Goldfinger, From Russia with Love - the original James Bond movies with Sean Connery.

(12) Funny Face, with Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn

(13) Love in the Afternoon, with Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn

(14) High Noon, with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly

(15) The Magnificent Seven, with Eli Wallach, Horst Bucholz, and a whole bunch of really mean men)

In the category of great movies when they came out but which have fallen into discredit because of the personal lives of the director or stars: Cat Ballou (with Jane Fonda, Lee Marvin, and Nat King Cole) (absolutely hysterical -- worth watching despite Ms. Fonda) and Sleeper (my personal favorite of the Woody Allen movies, most of which (don't tell Stuart) I really like (or used to like).

And in the list of movies that just have to be mentioned:

The Longest Day (the longest cast)
Giant (w/ James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor)
One, Two, Three (a Billy Wilder comedy about the Berlin wall; I loved it at the time, don't know if it would age well - with James Cagney and Horst Bucholz
The Godfather Saga (all of them - don't quibble over I and II)
Star Wars, IV (Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher)
Reds (Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (Harrison Ford)
The Sting (Paul Newman and Robert Redford)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (Paul Newman and Robert Redford)
Exodus (Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint)
The Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart)
The Apartment (Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine)
Saturday Night Fever (John Travolta)

And last but not least "Lips" by George SanMarco. And in the musicals category - Gigi.

David pokes his head out of his office and sees his shadow...

Well, I've been blog-silent for quite a long time, having been trapped under not one, not two, but (count 'em) three deals. And not little ones, either. Unfortunately, I can't tell you anything about them yet. But if and when they hit the papers, I'll let you know, so you people won't think I was neglecting you for no good reason.

Anyway, Peter having thrown down the gauntlet, here are my top movies of all time:

1. A Little Romance. I know what you're all thinking. "What the hell is A Little Romance?" (Since I'm certain you think in italics.) It's a fantastic movie, a sleeper hit (Oscar winner for best score) from 1978. It stars Sir Laurence Olivier, who gnaws on the scenery in a French accent, Diane Lane, all of 13 or so in her film debut, and a French kid with the unfortunate name of Thelonious Bernard, who went on never to be heard of again. Rent it. Trust me.

2. The Godfather. I love this movie. Love it. My wife knows not to bother me when this movie is on. If my viewing is interrupted, I tend to remain stuck in the film, walking my dog while watching out for Solozzo's button men and working out how to simultaneously eliminate the heads of the other families, along with Moe Green and Fabrizio, who blew up my wife and lovely car. (You don't get to see the assassination of Fabrizio in the movie, but if you read the book it's there, and it's one of the "extra scenes" in the DVD collection, which includes Part II (see below) and the excrable Part III.)

3. Charade. It is a truism that all Audrey Hepburn movies are terrific. It is a truism that all Cary Grant movies are at least very very good. Accordingly, a movie with both Audrey Hepburn (sigh.) and Cary Grant must therefore be near-perfect. Add Walter Matthau, James Coburn and George "Cool Hand Luke" Kennedy, stir briskly. Then combine talents from guys who are into musicals, of all things: Hitchcock-like scripting from Peter Stone, who also wrote 1776 and Hitchcock-like directing from Stanley Donen who also directed Singing In The Rain. It just works.

4. Casablanca. One of those magical movies where everything just comes together brilliantly.

5. Raiders of the Lost Ark. I'm seriously wondering about you, Peter, that there's even a question in your mind as to whether it should be included.

6. Dude, Where's My Car? Yeah, right. Just checking to see if you're paying attention.

6. (Really.) The Sting. I'm a con game freak. I can throw the three card monte. I collect cheater dice. Like this movie wasn't making my top 10.

7. Operation Petticoat. One of the funniest movies ever made. And it has the Cary Grant bonus multiplier.

8. The Godfather, Part II. This might rank higher, I'm just too lazy to go back and renumber everything. The Robert DeNiro scenes are better than the Al Pacino scenes.

9. Citizen Kane. OK, I have a confession to make. I've never actually seen Citizen Kane. But I kinda get the feeling that, by law, you have to put it on any top-10 movie list. So here it is. Rosebud was his sled. Now you don't have to see it either.

10. Star Wars. Sue me.

OK, that's the first 10. I'll think about it more and add some more later, probably, unless I get hit with another 15 tons of paper...

Balanced Reporting?

I actually have seen some evidence the past few days of some balanced reporting on the issue of intelligence and war justification. Today, for example, there is an article in FoxNews about how lawmakers are NOT reading the intelligence information that has been provided to them. That apparently is true on both sides of the aisle. And that lack of due diligence does not stop them from criticizing the administration.

Let me be perfectly clear about my own position on this. I think there are tons of issues that this administration should be critiqued on; but the pre-war intelligence, while potentially fair-game, has so far been nothing but a political issue. In fact, the more the Democrats have pushed on this, the more I discount them and tune them out. And it seems I am not the only one; recent polls last week indicate that most Americans, and even 50% of Democrats feel that the criticism reflect politics, not facts. Good. Very good!

And yesterday, on Meet the Press (have you ever seen a show more convinced of, while completely unconvincing in, its objectivity?) actually mentioned that many admin critics are now coming under some fire for the fact that they have had much of the same access to intelligence as the administration; so that their claims of being absolutely misled by the Bush is cause for great skepticism (one can't help but think of the scene from Casablanca where the police chief, Claude Rains, says that he is shocked that there is gambling going on at the club,.. just has he receives his winnings). Good to hear that.

But let's not get carried away. Diana Priest from the Washington Post on Meet the Press made it clear that the issue of pre-war intelligence will not go away, and that reporting will not be balanced (at least, that's how I see it) (emphasis added):
So I think the media, for certain, will not give this up yet, and it's going to continue to pick away at things like this and we'll see more exaggeration, we'll see more interpretation of intelligence that wasn't clear, the national intelligence estimate itself, the thing that the intelligence community came out on, its key judgments were that Saddam Hussein might or might not use chemical weapons and he didn't. So where are those? How faulty, really, was the intelligence on this?
Amazing... she knows there will be evidence of more exaggeration...she can't reveal it yet, but she knows it. And she is clear the media will not give up on this. So maybe it is not only a political issue raised by the is a political issue raised by the media. And I like her last innuendo.... intelligence wasn't faulty, just our leadership which lied. Here's the whole transcript.

Friday, August 01, 2003

The Best of the Web

Why James Taranto is often the very best of the web:
"U.S. crime rates continue to go down, which presumably means that policy makers are doing something right. Not for the New York Times, however, which has a bizarre editorial today:
The nation's prison and jail population rose again last year, to 2,166,260, a record. The increase comes at a time when crime is falling and state and local governments are struggling to close budget deficits. . . . Congress and state legislatures should find ways to reduce the number of people behind bars.
We can think of two ways do to that: widespread use of capital punishment, or turning criminals loose. We seem to recall that the Times opposes the death penalty, so we guess they just want more crime."
He just cracks me up.

Top Movie List

Apparently, there was a poll done among bloggers of their list of the top 15 movies made. And WE weren't invited to participate! Shocking. I had never heard of this blog site (maybe no surprise there), but I have a hunch Stuey (David's Dad) would love it. Anyway, for what it's worth, here are mine (hastily put together and subject to further reflection and revision!; also, the order is not that relevant ... the difference between 2 and 15 is negligible):
1. Citizen Kane
2. The Deer Hunter
3. The Bicycle Thief
4. The Godfather
5. The Searchers
6. Paths to Glory
7. The Grand Illusion
8. Casablanca
9. To Kill a Mockingbird
10. The Third Man
11. The Magnificent Ambersons
12. Rear Window
13. The Four Hundred Blows
14. It's A Wonderful Life/Arsenic and Old Lace
15. Saving Private Ryan/Schindler's List

Yes... I am cheating with 14 and 15. And there are so many other good ones. But check out the list compiled from the bloggers. Me thinks some of them have been sitting in front of the computer too long (like their entire lives?). Star Wars #1??! Lord of the Rings? Braveheart?? They are all great, but come on. Although Raiders of the Lost Ark is amazing... I will concede and I should consider that one!

David... your turn.

Betting on Terror

When I first read about the Pentagon's plan to set up a futures market on terror events, I have to admit I winced a bit. Seemed like an endeavor of questionable ethical standing as well as a PR nightmare. But the more I read the more I realized that it might provide meaningful benefits. Markets are great disseminators of information and are far more efficient than any one entity, even one (or particularly one!) as large as the US government. Whether it could work was unclear, but that it should be considered and analyzed seemed prudent. But the PR angle took over and the thing was dead within days of the major media outlets blasting it. The charge was of course led by that bastion of impartiality and truth finding, the NYTimes. Andrew Apostalou, one of my favorite bloggers out there, had some excellent coverage of the issue and wrote a letter to the Times (which they did not publish) which was both incredibly funny in its delivery and devastating in its disection of the quality of news coverage -- and its impact -- on this issue. What is also tragic is that the Pentagon went to the press with this and tried to educate them on it. That type of openess with the public should be encouraged. This episode will have the exact opposite effect. Way to go Arthur.