July 2004

2004 07 27
Darfur: Essential Reading


Posted by in: Political issues, Sudan

If you read one thing this month about Darfur, let it be this piece in the New York Review of Books. An excerpt below the fold:
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2004 07 27
Max blog, you read


Max has the best convention coverage.


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2004 07 27
The 2004 Bulwer-Lytton Prize


Posted by in: Language, Literature

Ben Hammersley informs us that the winners of the 2004 Bulwer-Lytton Prize (for bad writing) have been announced. The honourable mention Hammersley quotes is awfully funny, in a completely disgusting sort of way.


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2004 07 26
Spiders


Posted by in: Odds and ends

I’m not very keen about spiders. That’s why this story really creeped me out.

Ew. Ew, ew, ew.


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2004 07 25
188 Copies of Michael Bolton’s “Timeless”


Posted by in: Music

From Slashdot (minus the hyperlinks):

RIAA Continues Distributing Dud CDs to Satisfy Settlement – by michael (27% noise) cosyne writes “Part of the music industry’s recent price fixing settlement involves giving free CDs to public libraries. Although they are technically complying with the the letter of the law, they’re abusing the spirit by giving the libraries large piles of crud. According to the Stevens Point Journal, ’[the] Milwaukee Public Library received 1,235 copies of Whitney Houston’s 1991 recording of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” 188 copies of Michael Bolton’s “Timeless,” 375 of “Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1971,” and 104 copies of Will Smith’s “Willennium.”’ The recording industry obviously wouldn’t want to have libraries loaning out music that people might otherwise buy.” See also a related story about shipments to another state.

I am a peaceful man, but if anyone has the nerve to bring a Michael Bolton CD within 10 feet of me I will be sorely tempted to bloody his nose.


Howls of outrage (3)

2004 07 25
Sports injuries


Whatever you thought of the Iraq War, there’s no getting around the fact that Uday Hussein was one sick fuck.


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2004 07 25
Book Notes: George Eliot’s Middlemarch


Posted by in: Books, Literature

I’ve finished Butler’s The Way of All Flesh and am now 200 pages into George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The following is from the latter:

” . . . I don’t like Casaubon.” This was Sir James’s strongest way of implying that he thought ill of a man’s character.

“Why? what do you know against him?” said the Rector, laying down his reels, and putting his thumbs into his arm-holes with an air of attention.

Sir James paused. He did not usually find it easy to give his reasons: it seemed to him strange that people should not know them without being told, since he only felt what was reasonable.

Sir James is not alone in this, I think.


A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 07 24
Victor Bout Bloggers


Obviously, blogging about Victor Bout is a niche thing. But if you’re a Bout enthusiast (in the sense that you’re enthusiastic about the idea of his facing justice some time soon), you’re going to want to keep tabs on the following blogs:

Douglas Farah (Alas, with no RSS feed. WTF?)

Laura Rozen

The Yorkshire Ranter

Bout, for those of you who aren’t enthusiasts, is an arms trader with a very, very sordid past. Alas, it seems that Bout is also an arms trader with very, very powerful friends.

Tune in next week to find out what happens when a shadowy underworld arms trader with very very powerful friends collides with the righteous fury of a small rag-tag band of Victor Bout niche bloggers! Bout has battled international law enforcement for years, but is he a match for the blogosophere? We shall see. We shall see.

I would be tempted to sacrifice yet another fatted calf to the internet gods, but I’ve been sacrificing so many fatted calves to the internet gods lately that my stock is dwindling faster than I can replenish it, prices for fatted calves being what they are these days. Let me simply say that if I have to live in a world with people like Victor Bout, I am very glad that it is also a world which contains the above mentioned bloggers, and an internet that helps them work together with the long term goal of royally fucking up Bout’s life and plans.


A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)

2004 07 23
Tim Burke on fairness and balance


He’s right about this, you know. A sample, below the fold, so I have a record of it:
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2004 07 23
Restoring Iraqi Marshlands Project Launched by UN Environment Programme


From the United Nations Environmental Program:
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2004 07 23
The CIA and the ISI


I’ve spent almost three years now arguing that Pakistan ought to be a top foreign policy priority for the U.S. Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, had – alas, “has” is really more accurate – extensive ties with the Taliban and militant Islamic groups, including A.Q. The ISI is an extremely powerful and not completely controlled force within Pakistan, which itself has a highly dysfunctional political system. And the country is a nuclear power locked in a multi-generational dispute with a neighbouring nuclear power. If you think Iraq was more dangerous than that explosive combination, or even that it was rational to think that Iraq was more dangerous than that explosive combination, I give up on you. I think it’s also fair to say that the U.S. has not made Pakistan a top foreign policy priority, and rather that it has tended to downplay some of the more serious concerns about the country.

So I was predisposed to look favourably on a recent piece in the Guardian by Michael Meacher arguing that the U.S. was looking the other way when it came to Pakistan’s ties with A.Q. And it isn’t a completely bad piece. But then I ran smack into one of the stupider paragraphs I’ve read in a while:
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2004 07 22
Free Software


Posted by in: Software

There’s no point in paying for software when perfectly good alternatives are free. Below is a list of free, reliable software. Most of it is open source, too (meaning that the code the program uses is also distributed publicly, for anyone to inspect). Some of the programs have Mac and Linux versions, but I’ll focus on PC software for now.
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Howls of outrage (9)

2004 07 21
The Office


Posted by in: Pop Culture, Television

Last week I finally got around to watching the entire first season of the BBC’s comedy show The Office. I thought it was very funny. My enjoyment was marred only by the fact that I had to turn up the volume really high since the sound quality is poor and I can’t understand British people when they talk quickly.
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Howls of outrage (6)

2004 07 20
Looking for roommates in Brooklyn


Posted by in: Anecdotal, Blegs

I’m looking for a roommate in Brooklyn starting as early as August 1st. Tell all your friends! Tell the whole bunch! Details below the fold.
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2004 07 20
Arafat


Helena Cobban has a long and thoughtful post up about Yasser Arafat.

Arafat has been a nightmare for Palestinians. If the Israelis assassinated him I would be outraged. If, on the other hand, he were to drop dead of a heart attack, it would be a toss up for me between relief and annoyance that it took him so long.


A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)