Per Curiam
-- A man has to do something for a livin' these days

-- Bloggin' ain't much of a living, boy
Thursday, May 13, 2004
Gun-happy culture: Afghan weddings are not the only place where the idiotic tradition of firing guns in the air as a celebration is prevalent. Iraqis celebrated yesterday's 3-1 victory over Saudi Arabia in soccer (which qualified them to play in the Olympics) by doing the same:
Fans glued to television screens erupted in traditional Iraqi manner, blasting Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns into the air when Hawar Taher made it 3-1 a minute from time.

Carloads of men drove crazily round Baghdad, horns blaring.

"We are all ecstatic," national Olympic coach Adnan Hamed said in Amman.

"Iraq has a bright future before it. I'm sure we'll do well in the Olympics."
Sen. Kerry has called the war in Iraq "a failure." I'll say -- we haven't even managed to instruct them on basic gun safety.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
What's the sound of no one laughing? Just tune in to... So, not only has Air America harmed radio diversity across the country, it's managed to progress from unfunny to creepy in a very short period of time.

To continue an emerging theme about the collapse of good taste -- the New York Daily News appears to be the only media outlet that's covered this:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "ought to be tortured." President Bush should be taken out and shot.

Those are a few nutso nuggets from the hosts of Air America Radio...

Rock bottom came when [Randi Rhodes] compared Bush and his family to the Corleones in the "Godfather" saga. "Like Fredo, somebody ought to take him out fishing and phuw," she said, imitating the sound of gunfire.

During a day of torture by radio, I heard ads for Hewlett-Packard, Greyhound and, especially, General Motors. I asked GM why it appeared in such shows.

Ryndee Carney, GM's manager of marketing communications, said the ads were wrongly picked up from an earlier deal with WLIB. She said the station was ordered to "cease and desist" yesterday, and added: "GM will not advertise on any Air America affiliates."
Rhodes is supposedly a comedian, so I think it's safe to assume this was a joke. A very bad, unfunny joke, but still.

Originally posted at Ex Parte. Apologies for the cross-posting, but I wanted to build in the bit about reduced programming diversity in honor of today's Communications Law final.

And now, it's off to bed. Like others around Cambridge, my night was marked by tossing and turning. It must have something to do with living in a town where it regularly gets hot and humid, yet no one has air-conditioning.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Back off, man. I'm a...: What do you call someone with too much time on his hands? An object of curiosity on the Internet. In this case, a demonstration of the principle that you really can buy anything on eBay, if you're willing to pay enough. The current bid of $660 is not enough to buy you this completely accurate replica of the costume from Ghostbusters, right down to a 35-pound "proton pack" and accurate sound and light effects. Buy this, and you're sure to be the hit of your Halloween party, even if you're not doomed to be visited by a demon from the Dimension of Pain.

Evidence: Good, Bad, or Ugly: FrontPage Magazine carries a breathless headline from controversial scholar Laurie Mylroie: The Saddam-9/11 Link Confirmed.

Unless familiar with the exaggeration embodied by headlines like these, one might expect dramatic revelations in an article like this. Instead, Ms. Mylroie reports on the emergence of a new piece of intelligence information corroborating the meeting of 9/11 ringleader Mohammed Atta and Iraqi intelligence official Ahmed al-Ani in Prague in April, 2001.

What is this corroborating piece of evidence? According to Ms. Mylroie, Czech intelligence has confirmed that al-Ani's appointment calendar refers to a meeting with a "Hamburg student." Previously, it had been uncovered that Atta had applied for a visa to the Czech Republic as a "Hamburg student." Got it?

Where does this bold new piece of evidence come from? It isn't clear -- it's chronicled by Edward Jaye Epstein on his website, which assembles assorted evidence, attempting to answer such questions as "Were the anthrax attacks and the 9/11 attacks linked?"

This article has attracted my attention for two reasons, however. First, while the conclusion that Ms. Mylorie draws is pretty broad for the evidence provided (even if this meeting occurred, if this is the only meeting between Iraq and Atta that we can demonstrate, why would we then conclude that this is a link between Iraq and 9/11?), the tenor of debate around Iraq, North Korea, al Qaeda, 9/11, etc. never seems to understand that this is how most intelligence-gathering works. You're rarely in an ideal world where you can "know" what the other side is doing. Instead, the name of the game is reconstructing relationships and motivations based on a smattering of facts mined from an enormous sea, and uniting these facts with a broader understanding of the intelligence target, its methods, and goals.

Second, while the evidence Ms. Mylroie has its weaknesses, it is evidence. It may not be incontrovertible evidence, it may not lead inexorably to a particular conclusion, but it is evidence. Its existence highlights the fact that one of the media elite's chestnuts about Iraq is misstated at best, and untrue at worst. Time and again, we have heard that there is "no evidence" of an Iraq/al Qaeda link --

Richard Clarke: "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever."

Sen. Max Cleland: "The vice president trying to justify some connection [between Iraq and 9/11] is ludicrous."

CNN: "No evidence links Iraq to those attacks."

The fact that 69% of Americans, or some similar number, believe there was a link between Iraq and 9/11 has been repeatedly cited by Democrats as evidence that the White House is lying, that the American people are dumb, and so forth. But the difference between "no evidence" and "some evidence" in deciding how to evaluate such a view is huge: it creates a disputed question of fact, exactly the sort of question that in a judicial context, we trust juries to decide.

Monday, May 10, 2004
Government Policy Pointless? From the Detroit Free Press:

    Wayne County Commissioners passed a slavery-era disclosure ordinance Thursday with 10 of 15 commissioners voting for approval.

    The ordinance requires every county contractor to search its records -- and that of its predecessors -- and submit any records, or knowledge of investments, or profits from the slave industry. The disclosure includes insurance policies issued to slaveholders that provided coverage for injury, death or other loss of slaves.

I see absolutely no point to this. This is going too far to try and repair a part of history that cannot be repaired. What exactly will the county do if a contractor finds records of past slave activity? Not do business with them? Pay them less? All based on events that happened over 150 years ago? This seems to be both economically inefficient and a horrible way to try and repair the damage done by slavery. The Free Press agrees and said so in this editorial.

And while they are at it, why doesn't Wayne County make anyone disclose any past abuses and mass slaughters of Native American tribes. They won't have to look far -- Wayne County sits on land occupied by American Indians until European settlers drove them out.