Enemy of the Good

I got a couple of reactions to yesterday’s entry. First Timprov, who chides me by email for being too narrow in my conception of economists. “Specifically, you’ve left out Richard Stallman.” Tim is quite right: Stallman is a good example of a non-traditional thinker who has had a significant effect on economic matters. For that matter, I left out Winslow Taylor, Vannevar Bush, and many others. I was just trying to make a smaller point: that simply being a well-known modern economist does not necessarily make one a philosopher also. But point taken.

M’ris had some more extended comments:

Evan’s journal entry from last night gives us a lovely run down of how pointless and silly the small party candidates for governor in California are. I can hardly wait for his assessment of how pointless and silly the major party candidates for governor in California are! California politics are such fun. Perhaps tomorrow.

Since M’ris is a devoted reader of this journal (she’s Reader Number One, if I remember correctly), she no doubt clearly recalls the numerous times that I’ve criticized one of the two major candidates. So she must be taking me to task for failing to rip on the other major candidate. Well, okay. The reason I haven’t bothered to attack Davis so far is that I simply lack the energy or enthusiasm for repeating the charges that one can find in the SJ Mercury on a daily basis. (Ditto for Simon’s corruption charges.) But should my disdain for Davis not be apparent enough, let me just say that the Simon operatives who put up eGray pretty much have Davis pegged, and they say their piece in a much more creative way than I ever could.

Anyway, M’ris continues:

At the end of the entry, he says, “Of course, there’s the fact that nearly every US government action in the last two years that that the Greens oppose is, in fact, a direct consequence of Green political activity.” Wow, Evan. Nearly every one? Are you sure? Everybody repeat after me: “A Green is not a Democrat.” Got it? Again: “A Green is not a Democrat.”

Um, where did I say that Greens are supposed to be Democrats? I simply pointed out the obvious: that Green political activity in 2000 colossally backfired. And yes, M’ris, I meant exactly what I said when I said nearly every one. I racked my brains trying to think of major Bush administration actions that don’t fall into this category, and I was able to come up with precisely three:

  • The destruction of the terrorist-friendly regime in Afghanistan, which a President Gore would have certainly prosecuted with identical vigor;
  • U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which probably would not have changed substantially;
  • The tightening of arsenic standards in drinking water, which Bush delayed but did not ultimately eliminate.

And… that’s about it. From foreign policy (the war on Iraq, the Kyoto Protocol, cutting off population control funding) to domestic policy (ANWAR, gas mileage standards, the tax cut) to political appointments (John Ashcroft, Linda Chavez, Gale Norton) to rights and liberties (TIPS, secret military tribunals)… pretty much everything the administration has done or tried to do in the last two years has been a disaster from a Green perspective, and would have been qualitatively better under a Gore administration. Of course, I have no doubt that Gore’s higher mileage standards would have been too low for the Greens, his embrace of the Kyoto protocols too hesitant, and so on. But if we could somehow contact the Greens in the Alternate Universe where Al Gore won1, I think we’d be able to convince most of them that the grass is indeed greener on their side of the fence.

I know, I know, I’ve heard it a million times from a million Democrats: Al Gore would supposedly have been much better for a Green agenda than George W. Bush. However much you believe this, it looks pretty clear that not everybody was sufficiently convinced of it. Several thousands of people were not convinced, actually, after eight years of an administration in which Gore was a top member.

Supposedly??? Grrr. What am I supposed to do about what “several thousands of people” believed? What they believed was patently false then, and it is false beyond a shadow of a doubt now. (Unless someone cares to refute exhibits A and B, John Ashcroft and Gale Norton, that is. Any takers?)

So. Democrats who believe the Greens were the key to Gore’s loss are left with two alternatives: blaming and haranguing (or, in Evan’s case, gently needling) Greens for the current administration, or lobbying their own political leadership to consider Green concerns more thoroughly. As a libertarian (little l!), I can tell you how helpful haranguing people is in getting them to vote as you want them to. Try it the other way, folks. Nobody owes your guys a vote.

M’ris, M’ris, you have too much faith in me. You’re being too kind. I’m not “gently needling”. I’m blaming! I’m haranguing! As for your main objection (“Nobody owes your guys a vote”): perhaps you thought I was saying that the idea of a Green party is illegitmate, or that their duty is to help Democrats at all costs, or some such nonsense. Not at all. I have no problem with Greens presenting their case in an honest way. Sure, I might think they would be counterproductive in certain close elections, but they wouldn’t make me angry. No, what makes me angry is that there’s a world of difference between saying, “Sure, Gore’s said some nice things about the environment, but he’s still wrong/an idiot/a tool of the corporations and here’s why,” and straight-up lying and claiming that Gore = Bush.

Unfortunately, in the 2000 campaign Nader chose to set Gore up as a straw man instead of bothering to grapple with the positions that Gore actually held… which is sad, because it speaks volumes about Nader’s own convictions and faith in his philosophy vis-a-vis Gore’s. Nader is the textbook case of letting the Perfect be the Enemy of the Good… except that at the same time he managed to shed his “Perfect” guise by stooping to the same despicable tactics that he’d spent so many years whinging about. A neat trick, that one. Too bad we’re all still paying for it.

1. “But wait!” I hear you cry. “This is that alternative universe!” Aw jeez, give it a rest already.

In Their Own Words

After weeks of breathless anticipation, I finally received my California Official Voter Information Guide in the mail. Occasionally informative and always entertaining, this year’s Voter Information Guide does not disappoint!

  • Gary David Copeland, Libertarian candidate for Governor:

    Seeking a better alternative? Do we ignore Milton Friedman, Herbert Spencer, Gene Roddenberry — some of my favorite philosophers — at our own peril?

    Friedman? The only economist who perhaps slides over into the “philosopher” category is Adam Smith, by virtue of his economic demigod stats. I’m afraid the jury’s still out on Friedman. As for Roddenberry, not only is he not a philosopher, but he’s a particularly strange choice for a Libertarian hero. After all, in Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe, the government is large, powerful, and (yet despite that) is reasonably efficient and effective1. Contrast the Federation with, say, the Old Republic of the Star Wars universe, and you’ll see what I mean. There are umpteen science fiction luminaries who fit the libertarian point of view far better; the generation of such a list is left as an exercise for the reader.

  • Kalee Przybylak, Natural Law Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor:

    I believe that through utilizing ‘natural laws’ and creating a unity consciousness throughout our electorate, we are better able to begin to address the needs of a changing society…

    Wow, first a pro-Federation candidate… and now a pro-Borg candidate. Heavens to Betsy.

  • Jim King, American Independent Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor:

    I believe in God almighty, our creator, our Lord and Savior. The founders of our land also believed in God and in Judeo-Christian values and customs… [several more lines of theocratic stuff omitted]… Secular humanists, aboritionists nor socialists need not apply at my door of the office of Lieutenant Governor. If God is with me in this effort; then who can be against me? [emphasis mine]

    I sincerely hope that for Jim King’s own sake that he has not staked his belief in God’s existence, God’s omnipotence, or God’s personal love for Jim King on the eventual outcome of the election.

  • Pat Wright, Libertarian candidate for Lieutenant Governor:

    My most recent crusade is the legalization of the domestic ferret in California, one of two states to ban them. For being visible and outspoken, I’ve had one ferret confiscated at his vet and euthanized, and armed agents broke down my door to seize my other ferrets. While ferrets are not an important issue to most Californians, how government works should be.

    Here I was all distracted over John Ashcroft and the TIPS program… and all the while, the jackbooted Ferret Police were running rampant!

  • Paul Jerry Hannosh, Reform Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor:

    Also, we must end the liberal public education monopoly by allowing parents a choice of any private/religious school through tax credits. Competition will bring about an educational renaissance and will help us remain one nation, under God. “Righteousness exalts a nation…” Proverbs 14:34… [emphasis his]

    I’ve always wondered whether the people who propose such policies have considered the consequences of actually getting their way. After all, this “renaissance” of educational competition would result in millions of Good Christian tax dollars flowing directly to Satanists, Wiccans, Muslims, Mormons, Jews, and other undesirables. And besides, are we not cautioned to be leery of tearing down institutions? (“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Proverbs 14:1.)

  • Jeanne-Marie Rosenmeier, Green Party candidate for Treasurer:

    The Green Party has a proven record of foresight…

    Of course, there’s the fact that nearly every US government action in the last two years that that the Greens oppose is, in fact, a direct consequence of Green political activity. But hey — other than that, the Greens are batting a thousand in the foresight department.

1. Of course, the Federation bumbles in various ways. Nevertheless, one of the driving themes in Star Trek is the sunny optimism that human institutions (i.e. Starfleet and the Federation) can be Pretty Strong and Reasonably Good and Not Very Oppressive all at the same time. One could even argue that the Federation is essentially a government of New (Clintonian) Democrats, logically extrapolated 300 years out. But with alien infestation scandals instead of sex scandals.

Not Far From the Tree

Sunday dinner with the folks, and I saw a clothing catalog on the kitchen counter. Actually, it was a mostly-shoes-with-a-few-handbags catalog. Now the weird part about the catalog wasn’t the fact that the models in the catalog were all deleriously happy. After all, I suppose buying a nice pair of shoes can make one happy, and who am I to call into question the degree and quality of such happiness? Of course, I think most people reserve such expressions of overwhelming joy for truly blessed events, such as the birth of one’s first child or advancing a step on the WarCraft III Ladder. But to each his or her own. Anyway, the really weird part was that despite their ecstasy at being in the same catalog as all these nice shoes, none of the models were actually shown wearing any of them. Nor the handbags, for that matter. I just don’t think I’m ever going to understand Marketing for as long as I live.

This week I’m taking a class on Solaris. It’s a good class for me to take. No, scratch that — it’s a good thing for me to know. I’m not sure about the class itself. First, the labs are not well-commented. For example, the lab will tell you to do something which is guaranteed to fail (like, say, having a non-root user try to add another user). Now this would be fine, except there’s no commentary saying, “Oops! You probably got Error X! That’s because of Y. What can you do to fix it? (Hint: consider Z.)” No, the lab just continues as if everything was hunky-dory. Anyway, this didn’t slow me down too much, but a few of the more brittle members of the class did get a bit flustered. Second, the instructor seems not to have fallen far from the stereotypical disdainful-lazy-sarcastic UNIX sysadmin tree. He’s not exactly like the Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons or anything. But he’s a bit snide towards the people in the class who are struggling, and I don’t think that sort of behavior is helping them learn any faster. Well, if he doesn’t shape up soon, I’m going to mark him down on his teacher evaluation. That’ll fix him.

Finally, this weekend I saw an amateur production of Much Ado About Nothing in Sanborne Park near Los Gatos. My lovely and talented sister was assistant stage-managing, and as an added bonus, I ran into three Mudders that I hadn’t seen in years. First there was Erik, who was donut-guy for my dorm freshman year, and who thus had undue influence on me during my formative years. Then there were Rob and Anna, very nice folks. Rob and Anna combined their last names after their marriage, and you know, I’m about 75% convinced that this approach is an entirely logical and fair way to handle the whole last name problem. The only problem in my particular case is that as far as I know, I’m the only young male Goer in the entire world. So when I get married, I probably will be forced to stick with the traditional naming conventions, lest our ancient clan breed itself out of existence entirely. Whew. Try explaining that to a nice young progessive lady. And then throw in the whole diamond story for good measure. I have a feeling they’re not exactly gonna be lining up around the block, you know?

Fun With Referer Logs

Well, now. It turns out that Kathy has had a website for months now. Silly Kathy — you thought you could hide indefinitely, eh? Your clever subterfuge is no match for the power of my referer logs!

Ah, referer logs1. What’s a “referer”, you ask? Well, according to the W3C, the Referer is “an optional header field allows the client to specify, for the server’s benefit, the address ( URI ) of the document (or element within the document) from which the URI in the request was obtained…” Hey, you! Wake up and pay attention! Where was I? Oh, yes. In short, the referer tells you where your website visitors are coming from. It’s not foolproof, but it works some of the time.

The really neat thing about referer logs is that search engines nowadays list your search terms in the URL or the results page itself. For example, if you search on Google for “Effective Head Noogie Techniques”, the URL:


represents the results. This means that if you go to the top listing for that particular search (which happens to be “The School of Physical Violence Course Curriculum“) the webmaster of that site will see that Google URL in his or her referer logs, and will therefore be able to deduce that you arrived at the site by searching on “Effective Head Noogie Techniques”.

Okay, everybody clear on this?

Good. Because I’d like to share some of the more… interesting searches that have brought visitors to this site in the last month.

  • The male equivalent of “mistress”. Several web denizens were just as flummoxed as I was in coming up with a gender-neutral term for this. I’m sorry to say that neither I nor M’ris could come up with anything better than “gigolo” or “paramour”.

  • Where did Vinnie from ‘Sarah and Vinnie’ go? Honestly, people, I don’t know where Vinnie went. I couldn’t really follow that radio show for much longer than ten or fifteen minutes at a time anyway (although that beats my Howard Stern record by at least a factor of three). My friend Mike told me that Vinnie had a nervous breakdown and they had to throw him off the show. I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly makes sense. Vinnie never struck me as particularly stable, even by morning-radio-DJ standards.

  • Harvey Pitt’s religious status. There were a surprisingly large number of searches of the form, “Harvey Pitt Jew” or “harvey pitt is he a jew”, etc. I’m not sure why so many people want to know the answer to this question, nor do I know why the queries are not in the form, “Is Harvey Pitt Jewish?”, which would be the non-Aryan Nations way of asking the question. Frankly, it’s all a bit disturbing. Let’s move on.

  • EverQuest character hacks. It’s been a long time since I’ve played EverQuest. Even when I did play, I didn’t know of any character hacks. And even if I had, I certainly wouldn’t have wanted them used or spread around. So bugger off, you wannabe EQ hax0rs! I like you even less than the Harvey Pitt-searching people.

  • Petra, Petra, Petra. A few months ago, I wrote an innocent little blurb about former Playboy Playmate Petra Verkaik, and how she took young Toby Hocking to his high school prom. Well, now I get around ten searches for Ms. Verkaik a month, even though there are thousands of sites that reference her, and mine is buried somewhere in the middle of the pack2. Now, some people might accuse me of purposefully seeding my site with racy words, as a cheap trick to get some extra traffic. To those people, I say: what kind of boob do you think I am? The naked truth is that those sorts of accusations make me really hot under the collar. Let me be perfectly clear: there are no nude photos of Petra Verkaik on this site whatsoever. Good, that’s settled now.

  • Dada Engine and OS X. Well, I do know something about the Dada Engine… although I compiled and ran it on Linux, not OS X. If you have new Dada Engine scripts, I’d love to see ’em!

  • Importing Outlook PST files. I actually did manage to successfully convert all my Windows Outlook Express .mbx files to standard .mbox format, and once you’ve done that, it’s fairly straightforward to move them to Apple Mail. Unfortunately the first part is not easy, and there’s also a lot of misinformation on this process out there on the Internet. I should probably write it all down someday… if I can still remember how I did it. As for Outlook .pst files… that’s a tough one. There’s a SourceForge PST to MBOX converter out there, but I haven’t tried compiling and running it.

  • Burn Rate, the Game. Great game. Go buy it.

  • “photogenic wife” ‘Fraid I don’t have one at the moment. Sorry.

  • “Postmodern Marketing +professors” Errrr…

  • “tricks on getting pregnant” Ummmm…

I think it’s time to quit while I’m ahead.

1. Some of you might be wondering, “Shouldn’t ‘referrer’ have another ‘r’ in there? Well, that’s the difference between you and the titanic intellects that are responsible for our Internet standards. You know how to spell.

2. The only logical conclusion is that there is a large community of web surfers out there that is spending a considerable amount of time looking for porn! Yes, I was shocked too.


Well, it looks like the prophetic vision of Mel Brooks is about to be fulfilled. The world’s first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, is set to head up on the space shuttle Columbia shortly. Unfortunately, the shuttle launch was delayed, so Ramon will miss out on celebrating the first Yom Kippur ever in space. However, there is still the issue of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is traditionally demarcated by sunset and sunrise, but the space shuttle orbits the Earth once every ninety minutes. That’s sixteen “days” per 24-hour period, or two Sabbaths per day. Very confusing. Fortunately, Ramon’s local Floridian rabbi has consulted with his colleages and determined that the Sabbath actually depends on the rotation of the Earth, not sunset:

“This has been a theoretical question for some time,” says Rabbi Konikov. “But rabbinical scholars have now been confronted with this as a real life situation.” The rabbis have resolved it, says Rabbi Konikov, explaining that “Col. Ramon will mark the Sabbath according to Cape Canaveral time — the site of the launch.”

Very sensible, although I should note that (surprise!) some of the rabbis begged to differ:

One of the scholars consulted, Rabbi Levy Yitzhak Halperin, has already ruled the colonel should be relieved of his obligations as he will not be experiencing “Earth time”. This opinion is not shared by a British colleague, who insists that since one cannot exist in space without recreating Earth-like conditions that make it habitable, one should follow the same routine in Space as they would on Earth.

One wonders what the rabbis would say about far-future space colonies on distant planets. Is the Sabbath tied to the local sunset and sunrise, or is it still tied to the “place of launch” back on Earth? If it’s the former, what if the planet rotates in such a way that its synodic day is very long? To use Venus as an example, the Sabbath would arrive every 4,088 Earth-days, and the Day of Rest itself would last 584 days. Not an ideal solution. On the other hand, if it’s the latter, what about people who are born on the planet itself, who have no “site of launch”? And then there’s the voyage itself, where we have to account for relativistic effects. Would we celebrate the Sabbath based on the flow of time in the ship’s frame or the launch site’s frame? Furthermore, what if through genetic engineering or cybernetic enhancements, our descendants are able to survive in “non-Earthlike” environments? Would they still celebrate the Sabbath? Are they still even Jews? It looks like we’ll have to leave these questions of Talmudic importance for future scholars to ponder.

The Ant Conspiracy

Garrett Moritz is being very silly. What a waste of an expensive education…

So last night I went to the Smith-Holy-Becker “In With the Old, Out With the New” party1. It was an educational evening, to say the least:

  • Julie is engaged! That’s one of those things that I think I was supposed to know, but didn’t, probably because I was told and then promptly forgot. Don’t worry, I covered for myself admirably. Nobody will ever know.
  • The famous and delicious combo of putting a hunk of cream cheese in the salsa can trace its lineage directly back to the Becker twins, not Nancy as I had previously thought. So let’s see… twenty years of putting up with Pat and Sam, versus the cream cheese and salsa combo. I dunno, I think they’d better pull another ace out of their sleeves pretty soon.
  • There is a very simple way to describe how the whole second-cousin-once-removed business works. Cousins share a grandparent, second cousins share a great-grandparent, and so on. As for “once-removed”, that just means “how many generational levels do you have to move up or down?” I’m sure this was not news to some of you, but it was a Clarifying Moment for me.

Unfortunately, one thing nobody knew is the weight of a typical (Argentinian) ant. We guessed that one person would weigh about as much as fifty million ants, but that was the best we could do. Strangely, Google reveals only one obscure reference that says in passing, “a million ants weigh a few kilograms.” Let’s leave aside the fact that the author conflates “mass” and “weight”. I’m starting to wonder about the bigger question: could there be some kind of ant conspiracy? How much do ants weigh? How many ants are out there? And what are they up to as they toil in the dark?

Where’s E.O.Wilson when you need him?

1. Or is that the other way around? I can’t remember.

Cleaning House

Last fall, Michael Walzer of the leftist journal Dissent wrote an article (which is no longer online) called, “Can There Be a Decent Left?” A year ago, I wouldn’t even have understood Walzer’s question. We’re the left! We’re decent! Case closed.

Then again, when you read about stuff like this, you really start to wonder.

Well. This too we shall overcome. And let me assure you, despite the best efforts of the Right to portray things otherwise, reports of the death of the ‘Decent Left’ have been greatly exaggerated. See, over the last year, it’s become pretty clear how the “Left” breaks down:

  • Category A: Those who believe that we as a nation are irredeemably evil, and that nothing we have ever done has any moral justification.
  • Category B: Those that don’t.

One can disagree vehemently about the policies of our government — in fact, contra Ashcroft and Fleischer, that is the defining characteristic of good citizenship. But there’s a difference between healthy dissent and curling up into a fetal ball of hate, anti-Semitism, and victimhood. Those who fall into Category A are simply not leftists… nor are they even thinkers. They’re… well, I don’t know what they are, but they’re something else. In any case, the most charitable thing that you can say for them is that they force real lefties to waste energy fending off strawman attacks that are (presumably) targetted at the Fakers. Well, I’m tired of it. To the Fakers, I say: Get out. Piss off. Quit wasting our time. Oh, and another thing: go find yourselves another goddamn label.

With that off my chest, here are three examples of real lefties fighting the good fight.

Michael Walzer himself, in a reprint of an article he wrote last fall for The American Prospect, “Excusing Terror: The Politics of Ideological Apology“:

It is not so easy to reach the last resort. To get there, one must indeed try everything (which is a lot of things)–and not just once, as if a political party or movement might organize a single demonstration, fail to win immediate victory, and claim that it is now justified in moving on to murder. Politics is an art of repetition. Activists learn by doing the same thing over and over again. It is by no means clear when they run out of options. The same argument applies to state officials who claim that they have tried everything and are now compelled to kill hostages or bomb peasant villages. What exactly did they try when they were trying everything?

Could anyone come up with a plausible list? “Last resort” has only a notional finality. The resort to terror is not last in an actual series of actions; it is last only for the sake of the excuse. Actually, most terrorists recommend terror as a first resort; they are for it from the beginning.

David Remnick and Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker, “A Year After“:

This week, we remember the dead. It will be an overwhelming commemoration. Some of refined sensibility have complained in advance that the media will exploit this anniversary, that television commentators will wax fatuous, that people are tired of it all — tired of the anthems and the flags, tired of the invocations of “9/11,” tired of a certain kitsch, civic and commercial, that has attached itself to the event. Fair enough. But to spend one’s energies this week calibrating levels of rhetorical sophistication in public and private grief seems like time, and refinement, ill spent.

Louis Menand, critiquing the critics in “Faith, Hope, and Clarity: September 11th and the American soul“:

[Baudrillard’s argument] is as fantastic, in its way, as Alice Walker’s colored threads. It supposes a universe that (like Walker’s) operates by an internal equilibrating mechanism that just happens to be in perfect synchrony with the writer’s own prejudices. Globalization is evil because it destroys “singularity” by imposing a system of “generalized exchange.” O.K. “Singularity” being a good thing and “generalized exchange” a bad one, the universe will automatically correct the insult to itself by having the extinct “singularities” exact “revenge” on the very agents of “generalized exchange” — the folks who work in the World Trade Center — by means of a “terrorist” act (or let us call it a “terrorist situational transfer”) perpetrated by a fanatical Saudi millionaire sitting in a cave in Afghanistan. Like all superstitions, it makes perfect sense. “For it is the world, the globe itself, which resists globalization,” as Baudrillard proclaims. “Terrorism is immoral. The World Trade Center event, that symbolic challenge, is immoral, and it is a response to a globalization which is itself immoral.” If this is too metaphysical for you, stick with the threads.

As for me, I’ve certainly changed my reading habits. For one thing, I’m cutting way back on my media consumption. First things first: I’m dropping Andrew Sullivan. Yes, again. He’s an ideologue, of course… but worse, he bores me. Ditto for the cacophony of the “warbloggers”. No more Salon or Slate either. And I’m definitely not dumpster-diving in The Nation or The National Review anymore. I used to have a sort of car-wreck fascination with their nonsense, but when you get right down to it, they’re the equivalent of watching reality TV. That goes for the tech rags and the tech blowhards as well.

So now my daily and weekly reads are down to a reasonably trim list:

  • Good Morning Silicon Valley for tech news.
  • The O’Reilly Network for tech goodies. Plus I dig their books.
  • TAPPED for political commentary.
  • The New Republic for more political commentary. (My only regret is that Michelle Cottle is married.)
  • Carolyn Hax for her advice and her husband’s cartoons. (Tough luck about her being married too.)
  • The Onion for humor, along with every other college-educated twentysomething in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Spinsanity, because they do the dumpster-diving better than I ever could.
  • Prof. Jeff Cooper for cogent legal analysis, wine recommendations, baseball, and links to other interesting lawyers and law students.
  • Last but certainly not least, M’ris. To paraphrase Jeff Cooper, thou shalt honor thy blogmother!

And that’s it. Looks like it’s time to edit the ol’ Links page yet again…

Absolutely 100% True

ESPN is saying that the Niners will go 13-3 this year! Good news indeed… although I can’t help but scratch my head over author Gregg Easterbrook’s decision to present his predictions in haiku form. I should note that Easterbrook claims to be “the first Brookings [Institution] scholar ever to write a pro football column.” That might very well be true. After all, there is some precedence for the confluence of the sports world and academia. I’m sure we all remember Keith Olbermann’s brief and ultimately tragic stint at the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy. Well, I’m sure those poor Micronesians haven’t forgotten, anyway.

Now if you want good haikus, you can do no better than the Periodic Table of Haiku. Yes, they have every single one. Yes, even dysprosium! (Everyone and their mother yammering about dysprosium these days, driving me crazy.) Heck, they even have haikus for undiscovered elements, including Ununoctium (oy, the scandal). Now that’s thorough. By the way, since I know everyone is worked up over the hot, hot Ununoctium scandal: does it make any sense, any sense at all, to falsify one’s data? I don’t know what this Victor Ninov fellow was thinking. Wasn’t it Lincoln who told us that you can’t fool all of the nuclear physicists all of the time?

Finally, don’t these guys seem like a really fun bunch of real-estate lawyers? I mean, don’t they? Eh? Well, maybe it’s just me. (Link, err, stolen from Who Stole the Tarts?.)

Casting About

After I started this journal back in October, I spent relatively little time talking about the September 11 atrocities — certainly not since the new year. As the months went on, this journal has evolved away from the overtly political. I’ve been focusing on trivia, humor, and keeping my friends and family entertained. I’ve decided that there are enough blowhards out there spewing their uninformed views on geopolitical issues without little ol’ me getting involved.

So I’ll just say the following. I’m worried: worried about the “other shoe dropping”. I’m disappointed: disappointed with the current administration’s bumbling, from its failure to commit to Afghan security and stability, to its inability to even try to maintain the goodwill and cooperation of our allies. I’m unnerved: unnerved to read about rampant anti-Semitic violence in France; disturbed to read the rhetoric about “Zionist media control” creeping in not just from the extreme right, but from the left as well.

All I can do is pray that things get better. It’s a New Year, the Book is still open, and maybe things will improve. Shana Tovah, all.

Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

Byron informs me that he is having a ball in Norway. Sailing Viking ships, eating countless bowls of Gr??t, et cetera. Good clean Norwegian fun. He’s also realized after his first trip out that he needs adequate cold and rain gear for sailing in the fjords (gee, you think?) and so he’s bought a full rain suit “just like in ‘The Perfect Storm'”… including the hat. I should point out that suit is white. How did Karen let that happen? I thought this is why one acquires a fiancee in the first place, to prevent fashion disasters such as this.

On the homefront, I’m battling bugs. A spider in the sock drawer. Ants in the bathroom. Why are there ants in the bathroom? It’s totally clean, and there’s nothing for them to eat. But there’s always three or four trooping around the bathroom like they own the place.

Oh, and then there was the moth. Little guy, smaller than my pinky fingernail. Fast bugger, though. I tried smushing him, but he hopped out of the way. Tried again, but once again he was too fast. Finally I hovered close, waited for him to settle, and with one lightning jab, I got him. That’s right, moth! Three and a half billion years of evolution, and who’s on top of the food chain?

Well okay, maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. But you’ve got to savor your victories, you know?