5/25/2002

Canine club catfight! Calling Greg Hlatky - there's a lawsuit between rival Jack Terrier organizations over who's the better custodian of the breed. As the owner of a purebred mutt, I have to say I don't get it. Anyone got some words of wisdom here?
The musical fruit Here's an article my dad needs to read: A scientist at North Dakota State University is working on ways to reduce bean-induced flatulence. And they say there's no good news nowadays.
Palestinian official speaks in Houston From today's Chron:

Dalal Salamah, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, was in Houston on Friday to issue a plea for aid as well as understanding for fellow Palestinians.

"There is a need to talk about our situation," Salamah said in an interview.

"Through the media, people are able to see the attacks and the damage, but the daily life -- how people manage their daily lives. I want to paint a real picture of how they manage to live," Salamah said.

Yes, let's do take a look at it.

As she spoke Friday, the Israeli army was surrounding the Palestinian city of Ramallah with barbed wire, blocking what was a way to leave and enter Ramallah without passing checkpoints.

The move, according to international aid officials, is the first step in an Israeli plan to encircle all eight major cities of the West Bank, and their outlying villages, including Salamah's home, Nablus.

"There is no semblance of normal life in the camps and villages now," said Salamah.

"In Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, each city and refugee camp is separated from the others. Sixteen cities, totally separated from one another," Salamah said.

"Some people who tried walking (from one village to another) to get milk and bread for their kids died," she said. "They are suffering because they have finished their water, their own wells are empty."

"No laborers may now go into Israel, or between Nablus, Jerusalem, or the other villages," Salamah said. "They must stay in their villages.

Yeah, you unleash a few suicide bombers on someone and all of a sudden they get all security conscious. Imagine that.

"The students in the schools cannot get to the university. Ambulances may come to sick people, but they are forbidden from taking people in the ambulances, they must leave them there," she said.

You don't suppose the fact that ambulances have been used as cover and transportation for Palestinian gunmen has anything to do with that, do you?

Salamah said she wants to talk about those things, as well as "the difference between the national struggle (against Israeli occupation) and terrorism."

"We condemn terrorism," she said, adding that suicide bombings carried out in Israel "are acts of young people and some political parties."

"It is condemned by me and by the Palestinian Authority. But how can we explain to the younger generation, they are not allowed to bomb themselves in Israel while the Israeli forces attack Palestinian villages and camps?"

We all know how those denunciations of terrorism by Arafat and the PA have done so much to curtail the suicide bombings. Perhaps if the bombers weren't lauded as martyrs and if their families weren't given thousands of dollars as a reward, that might help. Perhaps you could try explaining to the younger generation that the attacks are the result of the suicide bombs, that might help. Perhaps if your leadership weren't committed to the total destruction of the state of Israel, that might help. I'm just saying.

I won't have sympathy for your cause until such time as whoever is actually in charge there genuinely punishes those who aid and abet the suicide bombers. Put someone in charge who actively works to promote peace and stop violence, and then we can talk.

5/24/2002

Tapped out The 116-year-old Pearl Brewery in San Antonio has been closed for a year, and despite its prime location just north of downtown on the San Antonio River, no one has stepped up to buy the property.

Trinity University, my alma mater, is just north of the brewery on US 281. We'd drive past it every time we went downtown. What made the Pearl Brewery distinctive was the enormous Pearl Beer can that stood atop one of the buildings. There was a campus-wide scavenger hunt once in which that beer can was the biggest prize, but not too surprisingly no one bagged it. It wasn't exactly the sort of thing you could strap to the roof of your car, after all.

I'm sad to see this piece of my past fade away. San Antonio has grown and developed quite a bit since I was there in the mid-80s. 281 between Trinity and Loop 410 was once basically empty. There was a big abandoned rock quarry just east of the freeway, bordering the ritzy Alamo Heights and Olmos Park neighborhoods. (San Antonio must have been quite the rock quarry city in its day, since the Trinity campus is built on another one.) It's now a strip center. Every time I go back I'm amazed at how many things are there now that weren't then.

I do hope someone does something decent with the Pearl property. The Riverwalk, built mostly on Henry Cisneros' watch, has been quite the boon for San Antonio, so even with the large price tag attached I don't think this will go unused forever. There's money to be made there, and someone's going to figure out how make it.
That's a lot of contempt A Beaumont man has been freed from jail after spending over four years in the clink on a contempt charge.

State District Judge Zeke Zbranek had refused to release [Odis] Briggs to visit his ailing wife or attend her funeral after she died March 29, 1999.

Zbranek said Briggs "held the keys" to his freedom -- and state appellate courts agreed -- if he would turn over financial records to show what happened to the $120,000 he admits swindling from 18 black families in Chambers County.

Briggs' attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, David George, said he had not found anyone else in Texas held on a civil contempt charge longer than Briggs.

Defendant Briggs is also black, which led to an aborted intervention by Jesse Jackson:

In 1999, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a representative of his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition interceded on "humanitarian" grounds to have Briggs released to see his sick wife, but were turned down by the courts. PUSH attorney Leonard Mungo called Zbranek an "instrument of Satan" and an example of a "national trend to incarcerate African-Americans unjustly."

However, members of the swindled families wrote Jackson that he was fighting for the wrong side.

Edna Jensen, 92, who walks with a cane, praised Zbranek for "doing the right thing" to stop these families from being swindled twice -- from their oil royalties and by Briggs. Mungo later offered to assist the families with their claims if they would allow Briggs to be released, but they refused.

That's the thing about being an activist: It always helps to be on the right side of the issue.
Sauce for the gander Max Power also points me to Dawn Olsen's weblog, where she is currently running a poll on "the hottest, sexiest, Male blogger in the blogosphere." (For some odd reason, I'm not in her list of choices. Must be an oversight.) So I have to ask - Where's the poll to determine the hottest, sexiest Female blogger in the blogosphere?

If there's actual interest in this, I'm willing to host the poll. (In the name of Science, of course. Any hits it may generate is merely of academic interest.) Send me nominations via comments or my email address and I'll put something up. As with TAPped and their call for the best liberal blogs, feel free to nominate as many as you wish, including yourself.
Crisis over! is the headline of this Slate piece, in which Tim Noah continues his fine dissecting of all the dire-yet-vague terrorism warnings that came out right after the revelations that Team Bush had quite a few facts at its hand regarding al Qaeda and possible attacks before 9/11. Here's the thing that was never fully explained to me: If it was a bad idea for Team Bush to inform the public about vague, unconfirmed reports of possible terrorist activity before 9/11, why is it OK for them to do so now?
Told You So Dept. Little Green Footballs notes that the Saudi PR campaign has been an abject failure. Way back on May 2, I wrote that "this misguided effort on the Saudis' part would backfire on them". So every once in awhile I do get a prediction right.
That makes a scary amount of sense Steve at Happy Fun Pundit discovers how he got on a Republican fundraising mailing list. It's pretty funny, so check it out. Via Virginia Postrel.
Another reason to need time travel Max Power writes about a case in Australia where a tobacco company was held liable to a plaintiff because "the company had destroyed decades-old documents". Says Max:

Document destruction when there's an outstanding subpoena calling for the documents is one thing, and clearly illegal; document destruction when there's outstanding litigation that will likely call for the documents is another, though generally agreed to be illegal when done with nefarious intent, and at issue in the Andersen case now. But here the court held that British American Tobacco's destruction of documents with no litigation pending was illegal and sanctionable, because it was done in anticipation of future litigation against unknown parties that had yet to be filed!


The problem here is that this proves too much. All document destruction policies are in place, in part, to limit the expense of future litigation. If your company saves forty-year old documents, someday someone will sue you and want to look through those forty-year-old documents for evidence, and you'll need to hire lawyers and paralegals and copying services to manage all that potential evidence at a cost that, if I had to guess, works out to about a buck a page. Most companies automatically delete e-mails for just such a reason. (I'm a litigator in my day job. I've sat in a warehouse and looked at forty-year old documents. I've also spent days of my life leafing through executives' ancient personal e-mails because they were stored with their business e-mails.)


Meanwhile, BAT's "discovery abuse" was sanctioned by prohibiting them from introducing contrary evidence in defense of their case, and they naturally lost the one-sided trial, as the plaintiff pointed to the evidence destruction as the evidence of wrongdoing.

I've been called on to help our legal department in a couple of litigations where they were required to turn over large volumes of email as part of discovery. One case required us to restore the mailboxes of five executives from each backup tape over a period of several months. Once that was done, I was called in to search through each days' restored mailboxes for various keywords.

At the time, my company did not have a backup tape retention policy for email. We do now - each tape is kept for 30 days, then recycled. This is one reason why. You may think this is weaselly of us, but for an enterprise as large as ours, even if we never had to worry about getting sued, the sheer volume of tapes make storage an expensive nightmare. We already have a large building whose sole purpose is storing backup tapes. We have another vast room in our operations area that stores backup tapes for mainframe systems. It's on a smaller scale than the giant warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but you get the same overwhelmed feeling when you walk in and see all of the old tapes.

More recently, I was asked to help one of our lawyers determine what backup tapes we had for various individuals from the 1996-1997 time frame. None of these people were on Exchange (our current mail platform) as yet, so I spent a few hours verifying that we hadn't bothered to keep any PROFS or GroupWise backup tapes. And why should we? We're talking backup tapes for email platforms that we no longer use, which in the case of PROFS lived on an operating system (VM) that we no longer use. What possible use could we have for them?

This is an incredibly stupid decision by the Australian court, and I sincerely hope it is not used successfully in America.

5/23/2002

That Harvard graduation jihad controversy Matt Yglesias has been discussing a brouhaha at Harvard concerning a student who will be speaking at the commencement ceremony on "American Jihad" which "will challenge seniors to apply the concept of the jihad to their lives after graduation". (See here, here, and here for details.)

The first post generated a number of comments with suggestions of how right-thinking students might express their disapproval of this speaker and his ideas. I certainly agree with expressing disapproval, but I strongly disagree with any tactic that attempts to silence or shout down this speaker. There are several reasons for this.

For one thing, silencing a speaker based on content is an extremely dangerous precedent to set. Sooner or later, someone is going to use that precedent to harass or repel a speaker whose views you don't dislike, and if you supported the original effort, you have no grounds for complaint. Either you're for freedom of expression or you're not, and once you join the wrong team there's no turning back.

Second, any concerted effort to stop or heckle this speaker will just make a free-speech martyr out of him. (I wish there were another word I could use here, but there isn't.) Once that happens, even if you succeed in suppressing him, he will gain credibility and will be able to crow about The Truth That Harvard Didn't Want You To Hear! There's nothing more tiresome or persistent than someone who can play the victim card.

Really, the right thing to do is to let him speak. Surely by now we all know that you cannot truly suppress a bad idea. Let him show himself for what he is so people can make up their own minds.

This doesn't mean you can't express your contempt. You are required to do so, but you must do so in a way that doesn't concede any moral high ground. The first and foremost thing is to remember the words of Penn Jillette: "The cure for bad speech isn't no speech, it's more speech." Matt has been doing that by contesting and exposing the egregious things the speaker has said in the past, and others should follow his lead. Do your best to make sure that everyone goes into this ceremony knowing who this person is and why you should doubt his goodwill. He can still play the victim card by claiming he's being mercilessly beaten up by radical Zionists or whatever, but he'll have as much credibility as David Horowitz did on his I've-been-censored Worldwide Media Tour.

And you can express your contempt at the ceremony itself by pointedly not listening. The suggestion I gave in Matt's comments is to encourage people to bring a paperback book with them, which they can haul out and start reading when he speaks. The right to express oneself does not include the right to an audience, podium, and microphone. Every one of us has the right to not pay attention, and making a display of that right gets your point across without leaving you open to the charge of harassment.

(Steven den Beste makes the same basic point in a slightly different context here. As with everything he writes, it's well worth your time to read.)

Lastly, though this may sound obvious, do not react when he's done speaking. Don't boo, and don't applaud out of some sense of politeness. Your own silence is an effective weapon. Use it.

My congratulations to Glenn Kinen, Alex Rubalcava and all other bloggers and non-bloggers who are graduating this spring. May you survive your commencement no matter who the speakers are.
Maybe he can go work for Andrew Sullivan From the Newsmakers section of today's Chron, quoted because the link won't last past today:

Sports columnist fired

The New York Post fired sports columnist Wallace Matthews Wednesday after he took his "killed" column critical of the newspaper and another Post columnist and put it on the message board of the Web site sportsjournalists.com. Matthews wrote that the paper had "no integrity," and accused gossip columnist Neal Travis of "deplorable journalism" for writing without evidence that an unnamed New York Mets star was gay. Before Tuesday's game with Philadelphia, reacting to rumors, Mets star catcher Mike Piazza told a press conference he was a heterosexual. In a statement, the Post said Matthews was fired for "derogatory comments and insubordination."

If you were in Houston in 1994 when the Rockets won their first NBA championship, you might recall Wallace Matthews as the guy who wrote a column calling Houston a "hellhole". Needless to say, that sound you now hear is my heart breaking for him. Hey, maybe we can set him up on a blind date with Katherine Mieszkowski!

As for the rumors surrounding Mike Piazza's sexuality, as a woman on a mailing list I'm on said regarding the picture that accompanied this article: "Can you imagine the editor saying 'Hey--find the most stereotypically flaming pose of Piazza that you can!'"
More dot-connecting Public Nuisance and Unqualified Offerings have some useful things to say about unconnected dots. There's plenty of responsibility to go around, but the more I read the less impressed I am by Team Bush's response, and I wasn't all that enamored with it to begin with.

On a strictly political note, couple this with Enron (you remember Enron, don't you, Mickey?) and I wonder how log it will be before Bush's approval numbers start to take a dive. Anyone wanna speculate?

5/22/2002

I was going to warn Larry not to use the words "schmautopsy schmotos" anywhere near the words "Chandra Levy", but it looks like I'm too late. Well, Larry, at least you know your friends aren't trying to horn in on your hit parade. I look forward to the updated blog traffic graph.
Jus' Stuff Dept. Business is brisk at the Linda Lay upscale resale shop, according to Chron society columnist Shelby Hodge.

THERE were no fancy invitations and no "open for business" signs at 1302 W. Gray. But customers started arriving on Friday and before Linda Lay was ready. Jus' Stuff, the resale shop celebrated in the cartoon strip Doonesbury all of last week, was up and running. And merchandise flew out of the store.

It was one bit of good karma on the less-than-glowing horizon for Lay, wife of former Enron CEO Ken Lay.

By Saturday, a standing-room-only crowd had gathered in the former pet-store location making parking a challenge and a few neighbors jittery. So many items were sold over the weekend that Jus' Stuff ran out of its signature zebra-print tissue wrap and the supply of business cards was all but depleted.

I'll bet parking was a challenge. West Gray is a four-lane street where you usually can't park. Jus' Stuff is near a bunch of itty bitty side streets with duplexes that don't have real driveways. And the sidewalks aren't the best, either. It'd be interesting to see some boldface types maneuver around the potholes and tree roots in their Manolo Blahniks.

I should note that Tiffany dropped by Jus' Stuff on Friday to satisfy her curiosity about the place. It wasn't crowded then, and Linda Lay's mother was there helping out. I'm trying to talk Tiffany into writing up her impressions of the place, so check back for more.
Senate to subpoena White House over Enron Someone alert Mickey Kaus, Enron's back on the front page and about to get nasty.

The White House said it has been gathering and reviewing documents, e-mails and entry records of visitors and interviewing people with relevant information, and it plans to send material to the committee Wednesday.

Presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer, traveling with Bush to Germany on Air Force One, said the subpoenas were unnecessary in light of those plans.

[...]

"The White House has cooperated with Senator [Joe] Lieberman, [chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which issued the subpoenas]" Fleischer told reporters. He said the White House's own review showed "no instance in which Enron approached anyone in the executive office of the president for financial help before they filed for bankruptcy."

And we all know how open and forthcoming Team Bush has been about its workings, so I'm sure Ari Fleischer's word that they've all been good little boys and girls should be enough for anyone. How exactly is it that Fleischer's head doesn't explode when he talks?

By the way, I first called Kaus' declaration that Enron was dead as a scandal premature back on April 9. When will he admit he's wrong? Maybe I'll send him some email and see if he responds.
Chandra Levy's body found The remains of Chandra Levy have been found in a park in northwestern Washington, DC. One of the ways that some people used to measure how much America was "back" from 9/11 was a return to interest in and gossip about the disappearance of Chandra Levy and what if any role deposed Congressman Gary Condit had in her disappearance. Now that her body has actually been found, I hope that people will remember that whatever tawdriness and scandal may have been associated with this case, the only thing that mattered was that a vibrant young woman had vanished from the face of the earth, leaving behind family and friends who would have to endure a grotesque intrusion on their grief. Maybe now they'll be able to find some solace.

Rest in peace, Chandra.
Sign of the times? Today I spent the better part of the morning downtown doing battle with a piece of software. (I think I won, but the French and Russian judges are still quibbling over the score.) The building I visited is one I've been to several times before. At first, you just told the security guard in the lobby where you were going, then hopped on the elevator. The elveator would drop you in a closed hallway, so once you got to your floor, you needed someone to come and get you because the doors were locked. Of course, sometimes you'd get lucky and follow someone who had a badge in, just like you would at a gated apartment complex.

The last time I was there was not long after 9/11. Things had changed to a near-Defcon1 level of security. You had to sign in with the security guards, show photo ID, and leave something valuable (I left my driver's license) as assurance of who you were. And of course you had to be let into whatever floor you were visiting.

Today I walked right past the guards and discovered that the doors in the elevator hallway were no longer locked. I could have walked in, helped myself to some office supplies, and gotten away without anyone knowing who I was or even that I'd been there. Which makes me wonder - Are we over the anxiety from 9/11, even as Team Bush has suddenly decided they must tell us about every possible future terrorist threat, or is this just the result of some bean-counter deciding that all that extra security was having a too-big effect on the bottom line?

5/21/2002

Competitive balance File13 gave his perspective on Bud Selig's latest whining, and wonders what baseball nuts like The Fat Guy and I think. The Fat Guy has his say here, so I guess it's now my turn.

First, I generally disagree with TFG when he says "a pox on both houses", meaning players as well as owners, should the labor talks lead to another strike. People often rant and rave about millionaire baseball players, but no one ever seems to get exercised about multimillionaire owners. It's hard to overstate the dirty, dishonest, and underhanded tricks that the owners have used, especially since Beelzebud Selig first infested the Commissioner's Office, and I can't help but think that anyone rationally looking at this should see it for what it is, namely an attempt by oligopolists to artificially control their costs. The Baseball Prospectus has been all over this, from Joe Sheehan's recent observation that

Baseball salaries have this magic ability to turn raging free-market conservatives into autocrats with the snap of a finger. Frothing Republicans who lusted after Jack Kemp's "enterprise zone" concepts are often appalled that Jason Giambi is able to make $120 million on the same free market that they defend so vigorously in other segments of society. The owners work very hard to keep their financial information quiet, but are quick to publicize how much money the latest free agent is raking in.

to Doug Pappas' eye-opening expose on the widespread bookkeeping fraud that the owners have perpetrated, which earned him a hysterical phone call from Bud himself.

In short, I'm in complete agreement with Christine Quinone's rule of thumb: "[T]he players aren't always right; the owners are always wrong; if the players agree with the owners, count your silverware." I certainly won't be happy with the players if they strike, but I'll sympathize with them a lot more than I will the owners.

I'd like to take a closer look at the notion of "competitive balance", which is one of the Budsters catchphrases when he's talking about payrolls. In Bud's World, only free spending teams make the playoffs; in his mind, most teams enter the season with no "faith and hope" of playing in October. The idea that he wants to impart is that unlike the Good Old Days before zillionaire free agency, everyone had a decent shot at winning.

The problem, of course, is that this idea is, like most things Bud says, completely divorced from reality. Let's take a quick look at the era 1921-1964, which roughly corresponds to what is considered baseball's "golden age". In that 44-year period, how many pennants did each team win?

American League

Team Pennants Longest stretch between pennants
New York 29 Three seasons
Detroit 6 22 seasons (1946-1967)
Philadelphia/KC 3 40 seasons (1932-1971)
Washington 2 39 seasons (1926-1964, as the Twins)
Cleveland 1 42 seasons (1955-1996)
Boston 1 27 seasons (1919-1945)
St. Louis/Baltimore 1 43 seasons (1901-1943)
Chicago 1 39 seasons (1920-1958)

Not a whole lot of hope and faith in there for most teams. Remember that this was the era of the reserve clause, when a player was bound to his team until they traded or released him. There were no big salaries, no unequal income from media or luxury boxes, and no reason to be a consistent loser other than incompetent management. But Bud doesn't want you to think about that, he wants you to get caught up in a mist of baby boomer nostalgia so that you'll characterize the players as greedy and the owners as beleaguered.

The Yankees' longest stretch without a pennant after 1921, by the way, is 14 seasons, from 1982 to 1995. Coincidentally, that's right in the middle of the free agent period. The Yankees spent a ton of money on all kinds of free agents during that time - Dave Collins, Steve Kemp, Ed Whitson, Danny Tartabull, John Montefusco - and pretty much sucked most of the time. At some point, they figured out that developing players (Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettite, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Alphonso Soriano, to name a few) and paying to keep them was the secret.

The Senior Circuit for the same time frame looks like this:

Team Pennants Longest stretch between pennants
St. Louis 12 17 seasons (1947-1963)
New York/SF 9 13 seasons (1938-1950)
Brooklyn/LA 9 20 seasons (1921-1940)
Chicago 5 56 seasons (1946-2001)
Cincinnati 3 20 seasons (1941-1960)
Boston/Milwaukee 3 33 seasons (1915-1947)
Pittsburgh 3 32 seasons (1928-1959)
Philadelphia 1 49 seasons (1901-1949)

Here there were three dominant teams, with the Cubs having a good run from 1929 through 1945. The bad teams - Chicago after 1945 and the other four underneath them - were really bad. As Rob Neyer noted awhile ago, the Phillies may have been the worst-run franchise in history. But again, each team had roughly the same salary expenses. Well-run teams that cared about winning did so, and poorly run teams that didn't care usually didn't.

There's no difference today. Whatever a team's resources are, teams that use them wisely generally do well. Teams that actually invest in their product can go from hopeless to dominant, as Seattle and Atlanta have done.

Even truly low-income teams like Minnesota can compete if they're smart. Part of being smart is recognizing when a big spender is willing to pay top dollar for players who have hit their peak. A few years ago there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the Twins were forced to trade All Star second baseman Chuck Knoblauch to the big bad Yankees for a passel of minor leaguers. Knoblauch had one good, two decent, and one mediocre season for the Yankees, never acheiving the heights he had as a Twin. He's now an outfielder in Kansas City, struggling to stay over the Mendoza Line. As for the Twins, two of the players they got were Cristian Guzman, their All Star-caliber shortstop, and Eric Milton, their reliable lefty starter. Trades can be tricky things, even when one team is apparently over a barrel.

The bottom line is simple. Good management and a well-defined plan is the key to success in baseball, just as it is anywhere else. Bud and the owners are just trying to sheild themselves from that truth at the players' expense. Don't you believe it.
Hindsight, schmindsight I don't know about you, but now that Michael Kinsley is no longer the editor of Slate, I hope he spends more time writing satire. He's clearly shown that he's very good at it.

5/20/2002

Defeating redirection Mac Thomason complains about being trapped by the new KausFiles, where the redirection to Slate renders his back button ineffective. The secret is speed, Mac - Hit the back button twice in rapid succession, as if you were double-clicking, and you should be able to get back to where you started. Annoying, but the best you can do.
The Swastika and the Crescent Another fascinating magazine that we get is the Souther Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, a nice bit of light reading about hatred and extremism. This article goes into ties between neo-Nazi and Islamofascist organizations. Many people have written about some commentary by David Duke appearing in the Arab News recently. According to this article, it's not the first time Duke has addressed an Islamic audience:

While they wouldn't want bin Laden, or anyone of non-European descent, living next door, leaders of the hard-core racist movement in the United States have seized upon the Sept. 11 attacks as an opportunity to expand their strategic alliance with Islamic radicals under the pretext of supporting Palestinian rights. After hijacked airplanes demolished the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon, a number of Muslim newspapers published a flurry of articles by American white supremacists ranting against Israel and the Jews. Anti-Zionist commentary by neo-Nazi David Duke appeared on the front page of the Oman Times, for instance, and on an extremist Web site based in Pakistan (www.tanzeen.com). Another opinion piece by Duke ran in Muslims, a New York-based English-language weekly, which also featured a lengthy critique of U.S. foreign policy by William Pierce, head of the rabidly racist National Alliance. In the wake of Sept. 11, several American neo-Nazi web sites also started to offer links to Islamic Web sites.

Read the whole thing, including the bizarre connection between white supremacists such as George Lincoln Rockwell and Tom Metzger and the Nation of Islam. And if anyone with more free time and intestinal fortitude than I wants to try to track down any of the other things David Duke had to say after 9/11, I'd be interested in seeing it.
Speaking of the Technology Review, it's just loaded with great stuff this month. Here's an article that argues that human cloning, like all other advances in reproductive technology, is inevitable. I have to say that I think author Daniel Kevles has a touching faith in the legal system when he says

Once reproductive cloning is made physically safe for the fetus, its enthusiasts may find an ally in U.S. law. The U.S. Congress, of course, could decide to ban human cloning for any purpose, claiming the power to do so because it can regulate interstate commerce, and a cloning clinic would be open to women from anywhere in the country. But such a law could well run afoul of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, which, by upholding the right of a woman to choose an abortion, arguably implies that the state cannot interfere with how she chooses to reproduce.

Personally, I'd be more concerned that with a couple of Bush-picked Scalia-type judicial activists, the Court is more likely to use an anti-cloning law to overturn Roe v. Wade than it is to use Roe v. Wade to overturn an anti-cloning law.

This Simson Garfinkel column argues that defending national borders could be a model for fighting spam. The monthly Trailing Edge feature gives an overview of the electric guitar. Wanna guess when it was invented? Try 1923.

Finally, for the second time, the magazine lists 100 innovators whose work will change the world. As in 1999, all 100 are under 35. As one who can only see 35 in the rear-view mirror, it's a moderately uncomfortable reminder of an old Tom Lehrer quote: "It's a sobering thought to realize that when Mozart was my age, he had been dead for two years."
Tanned, rested, and ready We had a great time at the Schlitterbahn. It's amazing what a stress-free weekend, plus a full day of activity, will do for your ability to sleep.

Even though I'm now squarely behind the commentary curve, it felt good to spend a few days not thinking in terms of how I'd blog this or that. I'm nowhere near burnout, but a little recharging never hurt anyone.

The big topic everyone's talking about, of course, is What Did Bush Know and What Could He Have Done About It. I find myself struggling with this question - I agree with Bush bashers as well as defenders. There's plenty of blame here, and it's neither productive nor useful to spend all one's time pointing fingers.

Of course, blind allegiance to the boss isn't going to help either. The buck has to stop somewhere, and if Team Bush is going to focus their efforts on hunting down some low-level functionaries to take a bullet for the Big Guy, well, at some point one has to wonder just what the President is responsible for. I think Josh Marshall got it exactly right when he suggested that Bush say

Look, in hindsight, there are connections maybe we should have made. Communications should have been better between various intelligence and law enforcement agencies. But hindsight is 20/20 and these things were not as clear then as they are now. Our people did the best they knew how. But I'm the Commander-in-Chief. And I'm responsible. The buck stops here. Let's move ahead now and make whatever improvements we can.

Failures happen. The bigger the disaster, the more you owe it to everyone who was or could be affected by it to figure out why it happened and what could be done to help prevent it in the future. MIT's Technology Review, a fascinating mix of all forms of technology and innovation, has in its current issue an article about 10 massive technology failures, ranging from the ill-fated 1628 Swedish warship Vasa, which sank on its maiden voyage, to the recent Concorde disaster. In each case, whether the fault was pure human weakness or "perfect storm" conditions, we learned from them, and as a result we're all less likely to die in various horrible circumstances.

I don't blame Bush for 9/11. But if his resistance to finding out the full truth about it leads to another such incident, I will hold him solely responsible. There's nothing that Rummy or Condi or Cheney or Ari can say now that will carry any weight with me if it has to be said a second time.
On a busy ass-kicker of a day, when you're still exhausted but euphoric from a trip to the Schlitterbahn, there are no words which are sweeter or more uplifting than the following: "The staff meeting this afternoon has been cancelled."

Of course, that means I have no excuse for putting off the other drudgery that has piled up on me today. But I'll take my small victories where I can.