Archive for April, 2004

I’m honored!

Friday, April 30th, 2004

BoiFromTroy names me as one of the ten bloggers he’d choose to be stuck on a desert island with. Why? Not because I’m one of the “five hottest [male] bloggers on the net” (alas!), but rather, “to talk USC Football and explain to me how grown-ups can still be so into this Lord of the Rings thing.” Heh.

More navel-gazing

Friday, April 30th, 2004

As long as I’m discussing the future of my blog, I might as well share with y’all the scheme I just devised for revamping my categories.

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The future, Conan?

Friday, April 30th, 2004

ChrisTheBear and I exchanged a couple of e-mails last week, and in the course of things, he asked me: “Will you be joining the ranks of law school blogs when you start, or will you keep it general-interest? The law student blogosphere is a wonderful community with its own stars, but it’s sadly incestuous.”

Now, the normal reaction to such a question would be to think it over internally and then respond via e-mail with a simple yes or no. But this is me we’re talking about, and heaven knows I can’t resist an opportunity for a bit of public navel-gazing about the future of my website. :) So, here goes.

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Be like Mac

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Mistreatment of the enemy as treason

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Glenn Reynolds has an excellent list of links and quotes about the awful mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. troops. One of the linked bloggers, Jack of Clubs, says, “What they have done is tantamount to treason, in that they have certainly given aid to our enemies, in the form of propaganda fodder, during a time of war.” Indeed.

Alas, despite my best attempts at link-whoring, Glenn’s list does not include my post on the subject. (At least, not yet. He keeps adding updates to his post.) But if you missed it, be sure to read it, because I’m rather proud of it. (That’s right, I’m link-whoring myself on my own website.)

For his part, Andrew Sullivan (who I also whored my post to, along with about a half-dozen other bloggers, unsuccessfully so far) complains — rightly, I think — that “the U.S. media is barely on the case.” Memo to editors and news directors everywhere: this is a huge story with enormous ramifications. Ignoring it will not make it go away.

MSNBC also notices the discrepancy between coverage by the U.S. media and by other media worldwide, and quotes an LSU historian of war and media as saying, “The torture pictures are absolutely irrelevant [to the public]. … Americans care about American soldiers, and only journalistic and political and academic elites fret about pictures of collateral damage.” I’m not sure how the good professor intended it, but to me, that’s not an excuse — it’s a condemnation.

Anyway, getting back to Sullivan, he comments, “The images are indeed revolting, appalling, and shameful. They are being used and will be used as further propaganda fodder to make democracy fail in Iraq and to neuter America’s moral credibility. But that in no way excuses them. The people involved need to be punished as severely as military justice demands.”

That last part — along with the “treason” comment — raises a question I was pondering earlier today: if found guilty, should the soldiers involved be executed? (Discuss amongst yourselves…)

Red-hot Sox

Friday, April 30th, 2004

The Red Sox have won six straight games, are 9-1 in their last 10, and have a major-league-best 15-6 record — all against AL East opponents! Consequently, they lead the division standings by 2 1/2 games over the Orioles, and 4 1/2 over the Yankees.

WOOHOO!!

Boston plays its first out-of-division game tonight against the 13-9 Texas Rangers. With all due respect to Texans everywhere, GO SOX!!! (ChrisTheBear won’t notice if the Rangers lose, anyway. Having just finished his first semester of law school, he plans to be drunk for the entire weekend. :)

CNN Breaking News

Friday, April 30th, 2004
— Former NBA player Jayson Williams found not guilty of aggravated manslaughter; guilty of tampering, other charges.
Watch CNN or log on to http://CNN.com for the latest news.

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That’s right, impeach the schmuck

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Breaking news: the Associated Press reports:

Members of a special legislative committee that has been considering whether Gov. John G. Rowland should be impeached asked its lawyer to draft an article of impeachment Friday because he has not cooperated with their probe.

The voice of reason

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Damn, I wish I could vote for Tony Blair for president:

People in the West ask: why don’t they speak up, these standard-bearers of the new Iraq? Why don’t the Shia clerics denounce al-Sadr more strongly? I understand why the question is asked. But the answer is simple: they are worried. They remember 1991, when the West left them to their fate. They know their own street, unused to democratic debate, rife with every rumour, and know its volatility. They read the Western papers and hear its media. And they ask, as the terrorists do: have we the stomach to see it through?

I believe we do. And the rest of the world must hope that we do. None of this is to say we do not have to learn and listen. There is an agenda that could unite the majority of the world. It would be about pursuing terrorism and rogue states on the one hand and actively remedying the causes around which they flourish on the other: the Palestinian issue; poverty and development; democracy in the Middle East; dialogue between main religions.

I have come firmly to believe the only ultimate security lies in our values. The more people are free, the more tolerant they are of others; the more prosperous, the less inclined they are to squander that prosperity on pointless feuding and war.

But our greatest threat, apart from the immediate one of terrorism, is our complacency. When some ascribe, as they do, the upsurge in Islamic extremism to Iraq, do they really forget who killed whom on 11 September 2001? When they call on us to bring the troops home, do they seriously think that this would slake the thirst of these extremists, to say nothing of what it would do to the Iraqis?

Or if we scorned our American allies and told them to go and fight on their own, that somehow we would be spared? If we withdraw from Iraq, they will tell us to withdraw from Afghanistan and, after that, to withdraw from the Middle East completely and, after that, who knows? But one thing is for sure: they have faith in our weakness just as they have faith in their own religious fanaticism. And the weaker we are, the more they will come after us.

Unlike Bush & co., Blair understands that the Left, for all its flaws, is onto something when it talks about the “root causes” of terrorism. He understands that force alone cannot defeat Islamic extremism, and that we must not let our fear of “letting the terrorists win” prevent us from addressing the legitimate grievances and injustices in the world — problems that we should seek to remedy anyway, because it’s the right thing to do, not because terrorists want us to. (It’s a false choice anyway, because terrorists don’t want us to fix the problems they complain about. They are just using those complaints as a means to a very different end. What they want is a clash of civilizations — a scenario which depends on our showing arrogant disregard for “root causes.”)

But unlike so many liberals — quite possibly including, in his heart of hearts, John Kerry — Blair also understands that force, while not the sum total of the solution, is an inescapable and enormous part of the solution. He understands that we must show the terrorists absolutely no mercy, even as we simultaneously show great mercy and compassion for the innocent people whom the terrorists purport to speak for. We must make the Arab world understand that we are on their side, whereas the terrorists are not.

This is an extremely difficult task — it may even be impossible — but attempting it is our only option, and Tony Blair understands that. Bush doesn’t fully understand the first part, and I fear Kerry doesn’t fully understand the second part. Our choice in November is between two sides of the same coin, neither of which is correct without its flip side. Blair gets both sides, but unfortunately, we’re calling the shots instead of him. (And, just as unfortunately, most of the people in Blair’s own country don’t get it, which seriously imperils his ability to pull off what’s trying to pull off.)

Anyway, read the whole thing. Hat tip to Becky’s mom, who e-mailed me the speech.

On a related note, this business of U.S. soldiers mistreating and humiliating Iraqis is a very, very bad thing. It will inevitably reinforce all the negative stereotypes and misconceptions of America and our use of military power, on the anti-war left but also, much more importantly, in the Arab world. Although Bush & co. are certainly right that the actions of these few soldiers do not represent the military or the nation at large, it will be extremely difficult to repair the P.R. damage that this will do.

At the same time, though, I think our reaction to this issue also shows something very good about us, if only people would bother to notice. Here we are, the world’s unchallenged superpower, with the physical ability to do pretty much whatever the hell we want, wherever the hell we want, to whomever the hell we want, damn the consequences — and yet, when we discover wrongdoing by our own people, we own up to it, we apologize profusely for it, and we promise to bring the perpetrators to justice. And it isn’t just about scapegoating the little guy: the general in charge of the prison has been suspended, and will probably be courtmartialed. And rightfully so — that’s what accountability is all about.

Our president has expressed “deep disgust” over what occurred — again, rightfully so. None of this goes above and beyond the call of duty; it is exactly what we should do. But for those who claim that we are unaccountable, unilateral thugs out to oppress and conquer, it ought to be a pleasant surprise. Although they will probably focus on the initial misdeeds and draw vindication from them (e.g. Craig Stern‘s statement, “Brilliant. Our troops are dumbasses”), they should instead pay more attention to our reaction. If we were an imperial power bent on world domination, we would not be holding ourselves accountable in this way. As ugly and abhorrent as this incident was, our reaction to it proves once again that America is, at core, a fundamentally good nation with fundamentally good intentions. And that is a very, very good thing.

Happy Birthday, iTunes!

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Wednesday was the first birthday of the iTunes Music Store, which has sold 70 million songs since launching. Apple marked the occasion by releasing a new version of its iTunes software, version 4.5 (available for both Mac and Windows), with all sorts of new features. I’ll be downloading it later today. :)

Of the 70 million downloads since March 28, 2003, I am responsible for 91. (That’s a whopping 0.00013 percent! Where’s my personalized thank-you card from Steve Jobs?) That includes five whole albums, from Great Big Sea, the Indigo Girls, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones and Tracy Lawrence. I’m not sure exactly how much I’ve spent on the iTunes Music Store, but the total is probably in the range of $70 to $80 — though it never feels like that much, since I’m buying songs $0.99 at time (or $9.99 in the case of albums).

The degree to which I’ve adopted the iTunes Music Store as my primary source for music is really a testament to the genius of the concept. As a veteran of services like Napster and Kazaa, I had gotten used to the idea of downloading music for free, so you’d think the concept of paying per song might be anathema to me. But there is a guilt factor that comes in at some point (especially when there’s a realistic possibility of being sued), and iTunes offers the perfect compromise. It’s just as convenient as free download services — moreso, actually, since the songs go directly into my music library upon download — and it still offers enough of a discount to make me feel almost like I’m getting something for nothing — but without the guilt and the legal liability. :) And iTunes really does bolster the music industry. I never would have bothered to go to a store and buy those albums, with the exception of the Indigo Girls and maybe Great Big Sea. The amount of money that I’ve spent on music in the last four months is probably at least three times more than it would have been if not for iTunes.

So, a very happy birthday to you, iTunes Music Store!

On a related note, I love Chris’s post about music sharing (which was itself inspired by, and links to, a previous post on this blog — boy, this is getting incestuous :). He notes that “you know you’re part of the digital millenium when you can trace your college years by the illegal music-downloading apparatus you were using.” Indeed. And in a sense, iTunes is, for me, the perfect final chapter to that story: as I grow up, graduate from college, and enter the “real world,” I also begin dealing with the reality that, hey, you have to pay for your damn stuff.

Oh, and about that whole “veteran of services like Napster and Kazaa” thing, it’s like Chris said: “P.S. If you’re RIAA or the feds, I’m totally kidding.” Heh.

Raising McCain

Friday, April 30th, 2004

John McCain is not happy with Sinclair Broadcast Group’s decision to force its ABC affiliates to preempt tonight’s Nightline reading of the war dead. He does not mince words in saying so:

There is no valid reason for Sinclair to shirk its responsibility in what I assume is a very misguided attempt to prevent your viewers from completely appreciating the extraordinary sacrifices made on their behalf by Americans serving in Iraq. War is an awful, but sometimes necessary business. Your decision to deny your viewers an opportunity to be reminded of war’s terrible costs, in all their heartbreaking detail, is a gross disservice to the public, and to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It is, in short, sir, unpatriotic. I hope it meets with the public opprobrium it most certainly deserves.

(Emphasis added.) Tell ’em how you really feel, John!

I am inclined to agree with McCain, though I wouldn’t put it quite so vehemently. I understand Sinclair’s “bias” argument, but in the end, I think it falls short. What I feel very vehemently, though, as I said yesterday, is that this sort of decision — right or wrong — should be made at the station level, not the corporate level.

I wonder how President Bush feels about Sinclair’s decision?

UPDATE: Now this is interesting. A “FLASH” from Drudge, with the part I find most intriguing boldfaced: “FLASH: SWITCHBOARD CHAOS AT SINCLAIR HEADQUARTERS’ AS THOUSANDS CALL TO PROTEST DECISION TO CENSOR NIGHTLINE. FOX AFFILIATE WHNS IN GREENVILLE SOUTH CAROLINA TO AIR NIGHTLINE BROADCAST THIS EVENING IN LOCAL MARKET AFFECTED BY SINCLAIR PRE-EMPTION. ABC RADIO MAKES FEED AVAILABLE TO LOCAL RADIO IN AFFECTED MARKETS. ST LOUIS RADIO KTRS WILL CLEAR TO AIR SIMULCAST… DEVELOPING… ”

A Fox station airing ABC’s Nightline! Wow!! Well, that’s really something. I guess this sort of proves Andrew’s point that I may have been overreacting with my corporations-will-crush-us-all rhetoric. Where there’s a will, the marketplace finds a way.

CNN Breaking News

Friday, April 30th, 2004
— Michael Jackson pleads not guilty to all charges in child molestation case.
Watch CNN or log on to http://CNN.com for the latest news.

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EU: Europe Undressed

Friday, April 30th, 2004

Well, that’s an interesting way to celebrate the expansion of the European Union. Heh.

Down the stretch they come!

Friday, April 30th, 2004

The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow at 3:04 PM MST (6:04 PM EDT), and the field is considered wide open, with no clear favorite.

I’ll probably root for either Minister Eric, because my late grandmother’s favorite jockey Pat Day is riding him, or Imperialism, because a win by a horse named “Imperialism” would undoubtedly cause several anti-war liberals’ heads to explode, which would be amusing. :)

UPDATE: On the other hand, there’s definitely something to be said for Tapit, the horse who drinks Guinness.

Law school is a dream

Thursday, April 29th, 2004

Funny, funny stuff from ChrisTheBear (who, by the way, is approaching his 10,000th hit).

And yet more funny stuff. Who knew law-school finals could produce such comedy?

In other Brendansphere news, Becky is sick, and Adrienne is 22. Happy Birthday, Adra… and get well, darlin’! (And don’t get me sick, dammit! :)