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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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7/18/2003

No WMDs? So what.


In the latest in a series of grisly discoveries, the U.S. military said Thursday it found another mass grave this one in northern Iraq and thought to contain the bodies of up to 400 Kurdish women and children slain by Saddam Hussein's regime.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division found the grave on the side of a dry riverbed in Hatra, 200 miles north of Baghdad. An assessment team was sent to the site.


Some 25 sets of remains all women and children have been pulled from the grave, each with a bullet hole in the skull. The military said the size of the area leads them to believe the site contains between 200 and 400 bodies.
abc news

The regime should have been changed years ago. Now it has been. Good.

Rick Salutin and Al-Jazeera



The invaluable Damian Penny takes Rick Salutin to task for defending the idea that Al-Jazeera would be usefully carried on those cable companies which want it. He rehearses a great set of arguments about why no one should take a thing said on Al-Jazeera seriously and why it would be best never to watch the anti-semitic, Holocaust denying, Arab street inciting thing. All of which I agree with.

But...

Salutin's point is not to endorse Al-Jazeera but rather to suggest that there is no reason not to allow this voice to be heard.

Frankly, odious as I find Al-Jazeera, I agree. Simply because I do not believe that the Canadian government through the CRTC should dictate what feeds are carried on cable systems. Al-Jazeera is a hard case...after their performance showing the brutalizing of American soldiers during Iraq II I would hope no one choose to carry them and that if they were carried no one would watch them. But it should not be up to the government. Just as internet content is, wisely, not regulated by the Canadian state, the multi-channel universe of cable should not have content requirements or bans imposed by the CRTC.

I don't agree with Salutin that we need watch Al-Jazeera in order to face "a worldview differently configured from our, with which we must learn to get along." I don't think there is room for accommodation with such a world view. By allowing - or rather not interfering with - Al-Jazeera's being carried on cable we are demonstrating exactly what is different and reaffirming our commitment to the freedom of speech and expression which is one of the central differences between the post enlightenment West and the mullah bound mediaeval world of Al-Jazeera.

Books by their covers


Yep, it had to be done. Cover reviews. At the lovely Mastication site

Winston Blair III



But Europe has the strength. It is a formidable political achievement.

Think of the past and think of the unity today. Think of it preparing to reach out even to Turkey, a nation of vastly different culture, tradition, religion, and welcome it in. But my real point is this: now Europe is at a point of transformation.

Next year 10 new countries will join. Romania and Bulgaria will follow. Why will these new European members transform Europe? Because their scars are recent, their memories strong, their relationship with freedom still one of passion, not comfortable familiarity. They believe in the transatlantic alliance. They support economic reform. They want a Europe of nations, not a superstate. They are our allies, and they are yours. So don't give up on Europe; work with it. (Sustained applause.)

To be a serious partner, Europe must take on and defeat the anti- Americanism that sometimes passes for its political discourse. And what America must do is show that this is a partnership, built on persuasion, not command. (Applause.) Then the other great nations of our world, and the small, will gather around in one place, not many, and our understanding of this threat will become theirs.
link nyt

Winston Blair II



There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior. Members of Congress, ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere -- (applause) -- anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
link nyt

Winston Blair



We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind -- black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent -- to be free -- free to raise a family in love and hope; free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts; free not to bend your knee to any man in fear; free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others. That's what we're fighting for, and it's a battle worth fighting. And I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country, out in Nevada or Idaho or these places I've never been to but always wanted to go -- (laughter) -- I know out there, there's a guy getting on with his life, perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, "Why me, and why us, and why America?" And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do. And our job -- my nation, that watched you grow, that you fought alongside and now fights alongside you, that takes enormous pride in our alliance and great affection in our common bond -- our job is to be there with you. You're not going to be alone. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. We will be with you in this fight for liberty. And if our spirit is right and our courage firm, the world will be with us.
link andrew Sullivan

7/17/2003

Literate America



Professors at the University of Wisconsin have created a literacy profile of America's largest cities. Top five - Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, San Francisco...New York is 47th. Interesting to look at and politically somewhat revealing. Here is the link.

Running across information like this is one of the benefits of doing my library filter work. We're waiting for the FCC to come up with some rules for the implementation of the SCOTUS decision to allow Congress to require filtering in public libraries which get federal money. It will be quite a trick as CIPA is one of the most poorly drafted pieces of legislation I have seen in years. And, the Jusitices in their wisdom have said that for adults the filters may be turned off which is good so far as it goes but poses problems for librarians who do not want to be in the censorship business.

Prepare to repel boarders



The Recording Industry Association of America on Wednesday said it sent out subpoenas to Internet service providers as it prepares to sue hundreds of individuals who illegally distribute songs over the Web.

"This should not come as a surprise to anyone. Filing information subpoenas is exactly what we said we'd do a couple of weeks ago when we announced that we were gathering evidence to file lawsuits," said a spokeswoman for the RIAA, the music recording industry's leading trade body.
Link et seq reuters

Sadly Earthlink is simply rolling over and complying with the subpoenas.
David Blumenthal, a spokesman for Earthlink, said the company had received three subpoenas in recent weeks asking the company to identify individuals.

"It is our intention to do so, based on the ruling on June 4," said Blumenthal. But, he added, "we disagree with the method that is being used here and while we support the right of them to enforce copyrights, we think this is the wrong method for doing so."

One hopes there will be at least one ISP which will challenge the supoena's "good faith". In other words demand that the RIAA prove that the the people whose names they are seeking are, in fact, sharing copyright material. And, of course, an ISP which does comply with a supoena should inform its user that it is doing so.

This should be a really interesting legal battle but it will only be worth fighting if the file sharers are willing to push the RIAA lawyers hard on issues such as chain of copyright title and whether having files available to share is a breach of copyright.

This last will be a crux question. If I leave a magazine lying around and someone else reads it no one would seriously suggest I have violated any aspect of copyright law. A CD owner has no obligation, express or implied, not to let others listen to his or her CD. Ripping your own CD is completely legal. Placing that rip in a folder on your computer is completely legal. Not protecting that folder from other people wanting to listen? Hmmmm.

New Blog additions


I have added a couple of new blogs to the list. Professor Bunyip for sheer style, Mondo Sismondo because she writes seriously about books. More to follow.

Why Dead tree media is, well, dying



I GET NO SHARE in Lileks's profits and have no interest in his rise to international stardom except the almost certainly vain hope that he will help me through four days of broadcasting from the Minnesota State Fair. I write about his relative obscurity because it illustrates a point that needs to be made again and again: Newspapers and TV talking heads are falling behind their audiences because they refuse to read the map that is in front of their noses. They want to regain their monopoly on commentary, and seem to believe that by ignoring the repeated tidal waves that hit them, they can will themselves back to relevance.

The wise editor would instead allow the battle of the blogs to throw up champions and then ink them to multiyear commentary deals. MSNBC figured this out with Glenn Reynolds, but the ink-and-paper crowd is still busy debating whether they ought to dignify talk radio with coverage (even though that audience dwarfs their own). Horse-and-buggy editors can't even dream of learning how to navigate the cyber-pundits beyond Romenesko, the media critic at Poynter.org.

Newspaper readers like me want newspapers to survive for at least a few more decades. To do that, the dinosaurs have to get out of the swamp. That means finding and printing the best writers and employing the best reporters. For the former, at least, that means Lileks.
the weekly standard hugh hewitt

Instapundit pointed in this direction as a chat about Lileks. But Hewitt's point is that the dead tree folks are so scared to change that they miss the best avaiable talent.
At the moment some of the folks at the National Post seem to get it. Hiring Colby is smart. But a really bright editor is going to realize the static pages of their websites are only being visited by bloggers too cheap to buy the dead tree product. The penny will roll around for a while and they will say....Hey, why don't we put up a blog? By which point the blogging world will be so far out in front of the old media it will just be sad.


Pot woes



Critics have frequently questioned Health Minister Anne McLellan's commitment to the medical marijuana program set up by her predecessor, Allan Rock. She has said she doesn't believe Health Canada should be in the business of distributing cannabis, and has indicated the distribution will end if her department wins its appeal of the Ontario court ruling.

Mr. Rock won the approval of the federal cabinet to provide medical marijuana to ill or dying patients. The federal government awarded a contract to a Saskatoon company to use a mine in Manitoba to grow pot for this express purpose.

Ms. McLellan has expressed a diametrically different view. She disdains being forced to provide marijuana to patients.
link globe and mail

The bumbling at Health Canada suggests they are smoking a bit too much of the product....But in the real world there are ill people who are legally entitled to access to marijuana who can't legally get it. This is silly. As is the rest of the rickety legal structure the Feds keep coming up with to try and avoid the inevitable.

What they need to do immediately is actually decriminalize marijuana for all uses in all quantities. It is extremely doubtful that the Courts are going to take the new law any more seriously than they took the old one - at least in British Columbia. So we are left in the odd position that people who are legally allowed to obtain marijuana can't get it and all of the rest of the pot smokers are given a broad wink and sent on their way.

The only good news is that the Courts will continue to hold the government's feet to the fire. Funny how it has to be the Courts.


Am I missing something or is Alterman a bigot


L’ANTI-SEMITISME
Memo to Everyone: In discussing ?French anti-Semitism,? take a moment to notice that it is almost entirely a phenomenon of that nation’s North African and Arab immigrant community, not of the traditional (mildly anti-Semitic) French. There is no surge in French anti-Semitism at all and it is probably at a historical low ebb among French men and women. It is certainly not a phenomenon of the French Left. This piece points out: ?Most of the perpetrators are not the ultra-rightists and neo-Nazis who once were responsible for anti-Semitic acts, but young North African Arabs of the banlieues, the distant blue-collar suburbs where Muslims and Jews live and work in close proximity.? And if it’s a really big concern of yours, by the way, the best way to ameliorate it would be for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank. The occupation is obviously its primary source.
alterman msnbc

Eric Alterman seems to want to pretend that the "North African and Arab immigrant" communities are somehow not, well, French. Or, at least, not so it matters. Because, well, er, they are rather dusky of hue; worship in mosques rather than failing to attend Catholic mass and listen to very odd rai music.
   I wonder what our Eric would say about someone who suggested that the good rastas of Camdentown were not quite English what with their being black and everything.

Call the Nanny



LONDON (Reuters) - British police charged two men with manslaughter Tuesday following the death of an Oxford University student who was flung from a giant catapult.

Yankov was on an outing with the Oxford Stunt Factory, an unofficial club at Oxford University where he was studying biochemistry. He had been the sixth person that day to be launched from the "trebuchet" catapult.

Organizers said at the time Yankov had been properly weighed and that the machine had been correctly calibrated before he was fired in a 30-yard arc. They did not know what had gone wrong.
reuters via tim blair

The horrifying thing about this story is that five of the Oxford nitwits made it...Do you need Waugh or Monty Python to do jusitce.

7/15/2003

Another Urban Conservative Moment


I often feel the natural place for a gay person is on the right. Conservatives should be all about an individual's right to his or her own life, his or her own business, without the interference of hypersensitive, offended others. And it follows that true conservatives ought to support gay marriage, particularly those partial to family values. It's difficult to argue that society doesn't benefit from stable relationships. And what better way to encourage stable relationships than to support gay marriage? It is hard not to snicker at the idea that same-sex marriages would threaten straight ones. We straight people in Canada and the US have done a good job of bringing the divorce rate close to 50 percent all on our own.
link christian science monitor via andrew sullivan

Nice to see a Canadian understand the issue so clearly.
What has been missing in the gay marriage debate is the ability to seperate the parties from the process. The Canadian Supreme Court got it. Marriage is a state sanctioned formal union between two adult citizens. Sex is irelevant.
The sanctity of marriage qua institution has suffered far more at the hands of hetrosexuals over the last couple of decades than it is likely to at the hands of homosexuals. Conservatives instinctively want to preserve the institution and that is a positive rather than negative activity.

Roadmap Pothole #2045



The Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Sunday threatened to end the cease-fire on attacks against Israelis if the Palestinian Authority tried to confiscate their weapons, Israel Radio reported.

In a joint statement, publicized in the Gaza Strip, the organizations said that the PA would be responsible for the results if their weapons were confiscated.
link jerusalem post

How can these folks be expected to celebrate the end of the hundna if they don't have guns....

7/14/2003

Rule #9: Never get a law prof mad



Or worse, give him something to make fun of.

Starbucks - for those inscrutable business reasons which make the rest of the world wonder what goes on in the furry little minds of corporate America - prohibits photography in its stores. Laurence Lessing picks up on it and blogs it. Now there is an entire website devoted to publishing photographs taken inside Starbucks.

English Press Myths about Europe



What fun. The EU is so incensed about the British Press's delightful willingness to pounce on any nutty thing that the Europeans do that they have set up a site to contradict what they see as false claims.

Myth: Curved bananas

Bananas must not be excessively curved.
The Sun, 4 March 1998, p6

Fact:
Bananas are classified according to quality and size for international trade. Individual governments and the industry have in the past had their own standards with the latter's, in particular, being very stringent. The European Commission was asked by national agriculture ministers and the industry to draft legislation in this area. Following extensive consultation with the industry, the proposed quality standards were adopted by national ministers in Council in 1994. link representation in the United Kingdon



The corrections are funnier that the stories themselves. I mean this does not exactly prove that the EU is not going to regulate banana curves.

Myth: Corgis to be banned by EU

Certain breeds of the Queen’s favourite dog could be outlawed under a controversial EU convention being considered by ministers, it emerged last night. Some corgis ? along with bulldogs, cocker spaniels and King Charles spaniels ? could be among 100 breeds banned, animal lovers fear.
Daily Mail, 30 April 2002, p 5

Fact:
This so-called ‘EU convention’ has nothing whatsoever to do with the EU. A committee of animal protection experts drew up the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals in 1987 under the auspices of the Council of Europe - an intergovernmental organisation based in Strasbourg and completely separate from the EU. The UK is a member but has so far declined to become a signatory to this entirely voluntary agreement designed to improve the welfare of household pets.

Boy, I bet the Brits can hardly wait to sign up to the 250 page EU Constitution....

via Ben Hammersley