Friday, June 06, 2003

InstaPundit seems to be down. Blogger is still up, though.

Steven Den Beste has a letter from France about the strike underway by unions upset over government reforms of their pensions. So, if I understand this right, socialism doesn't really benefit all of the people equally. What will they tell us next?

I agree that there is a lot wrong with capitalism, but it seems to me that there's a lot more wrong with the idea that the government should control the economy and assure that nobody is poor. As the people of France are learning, someone is always more equal than others. The people who think that capitalists manage everything for their own self-interest are right, but nobody has really been denying that. The ones who try to tell us that they are motivated only by the plight of the deserving poor (Are there any other kind?) are transparent liars. If you seek to provide the most for the most people, you get more by promoting free enterprise and competition than by seeking to guarantee material equality for everybody. Why is that so hard to understand?

I've often thought that if people in Hollywood and pro sports were really as smart as they think they are, they'd have gotten MBAs and gone into business. That's where the big money is. Without business, there wouldn't be any money in anything else. There wouldn't be such a vocation as social worker, advertising person, or fundraiser. No environmentalists either.

Most of our problems arise from people who didn't understand the children's stories we were all told. This one is the one about the goose that laid the golden eggs. If you kill the goose, the supply of golden eggs dries up. Duh.

Oliver Kamm is discussing the real root causes of terrorism. Countries with more freedom tend to produce fewer terrorists. Of course, the generation that came of ages in the 1960s might be a counter-example. My guess would be that it has more to do with pride, but I'm not an economist and I haven't done a study.

Lucifer was a Son of the Morning, but was cast out of heaven because he rebelled against God. Some think that heaven is a tyranny, so this story would support that view of terrorism's roots. Others believe that there are eternal laws for ultimate happiness and that thinking you can overthrow them and make yourself the ruler is where crime and terrorism come from.

Best of the Web calls Andrew Sullivan's claim that bloggers had something to do with bringing down Howell Raines "a tad overwrought." I don't think bloggers did it singlehandedly. Others have said that the real key was revelations of hostility from the rest of the Times reporters and editors. But I do think that this episode shows that the internet and bloggers are becoming a real power in the media. From factchecking to spotting trends and giving a voice to views that are ignored in the mainstream media, blogs have proven their usefulness. Most savvy journalists surf the blogs, and are influenced by them, and many of them are themselves bloggers. The reason blogs are important is that they give us all an alternative point of view on current events. Overwrought or not, the point is valid that reporters and pundits will have to pay attention to the blogosphere. Now somebody just needs to figure out a way to make it economically self-sustaining.

Sooner or later someone, maybe the Big Four will set up a subscription site that will attract user fees. If the WSJ OpEd page can sell papers, why not a blog clearinghouse site? I think I'd pay $20 or $30 per year to help these guys pay the freight, but tipping is not really an equitable way to do it.

Update: John Leo of the NY Daily News agrees:
Then talk radio arose, followed by tiny and brave Times-baiting print media and, finally, Internet critics who made an enormous difference. On their Web sites, Andrew Sullivan, Mickey Kaus and Glenn Reynolds pounded away relentlessly at the errors and biased coverage The Times was serving up. They were specific, smart and quick. Their audiences were not large, but a lot of other media people read them closely, and their criticisms of The Times took hold.

So did their view of The Times as yet another stodgy, not particularly honest, institution, unable to adjust. Word got around that there wasn't much difference between the editorials inside the paper and the editorials on page 1. The editor's feelings seemed to wind up on page 1, disguised as news reports.
Collin Levey credits regional and bloggers for keeping the heat on.

I watched CSI last night. Apparently that blue cast to everything is done with computers, and it seems to be a fad. It was used in Minority Report and the LOTR movies. It's ugly and harder to watch for old farts like myself. If they want to make shows in b&w they should just do it, but stop with the stupid computer effects.

Apparently, Arabs grok marketing:
Iraqis, who customarily nickname popular vehicles after actresses and belly dancers, have now honored Monica Lewinsky by calling Toyota's Land Cruiser "the Monica."
Too bad republican democracy isn't this easy.

It seems that a lot of Iraqis believe that Saddam is still lurking around taking down names and are intimidated, thinking that when the Americans leave, he'll pop back up and there'll be hell to pay.

We really need some war trials in Baghdad to give them something to believe in. I'm sure we've got enough Ba'athists rounded up to get started. The problem would be to come up with an impartial jury.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

I suppose I should comment on the attempt to make Bush appear a liar over our failure to find WMD, but it's too silly to take seriously. If Bush were as corrupt as these people believe, he would have produced WMD already, since the whole Pentagon is in on the plot. When you consider all the options and time Saddam had to hide them or get them out of the country, I would have been surprised if we had found WMD. Certainly, we haven't plumbed the depths of his turnnels which were extensive enough to be a subway system. There were some ships that slipped out of Bahram just as the UN inspectors were arriving. I've heard nothing more about them, but I can't believe that they were lost at sea.

So, everyone out there who isn't Barbra Streisand, ignore it. It's a non-issue.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

It's 6:00 p.m. MDT, time to go home. I stay at work to listen to Hugh Hewitt's show, but they've split his program with three hours of Michael Savage. If this is what conservatives are supposed to be, I must be without a demographic.

Ah, Lileks. In you I have a soul brother. I can't get enough of Discovery/History Channels. But with me it has more to do with ADHD. I can't focus without multimedia. To read books, I almost have to buy them and underline every other sentence to keep my mind from wandering. With bifocals, I have a hard time just tracking the sentences from one line to the next. But with the History/Discovery Channels, I can watch and listen. The bad part is that the viewer will never attain the depth of understanding that a real scholar can. Can you imagine advertisers paying for a program that teaches how to read hieroglyphics or delivering the entire Proust oeuvre?

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I've never been a fan of Bill O'Reilly, but I'm warming to him after he told Al Franken to shut up. Franken looked a little bemused, but his idea of a snappy answer didn't sound so snappy in the face of naked hostility. Pat Schroeders rictus never faded, but she and Molly Ivins were both silenced, as well. When you think of yourself as witty and funny because people who like Michael Moore laugh and nod at your wry observations, it may come as a shock that a lot more people think you're just a moron.

O'Reilly had obviously been chafing from having to listen to the other three, and when he finally had enough, he told Franken to shut up. It was like a rottweiler who's had enough of modelling sweaters for the lady's club and decides to bite somebody. It's regrettable but totally understandable.

Pat Schroeders rictus never faded.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Somewhere, I heard (or read) that the main problem with the New York Times and liberals in general is not so much leftist politics anymore as it is negativity. That certtainly explains Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman. Then there's the fascination in high end journalism with good writing, as in creative writing. In Christopher Caldwell's review of the Times' troubles, he calls it "magazine envy:"
A kind of revolt against facts is taking place in society at large, and the news profession is caught up in it. Hence the spate of plagiarism scandals, from the New Republic's Ruth Shalit to the Boston Globe's Mike Barnicle; and fabrication scandals, from the New Republic's Stephen Glass to the L.A. Times photographer who doctored his Iraq war shots. Jack Shafer notes of Glass that he "wasn't really much of a stylist": "Glass' stories read beautifully because [former New Republic editor] the late Michael Kelly poured his genius into them before publication."
It seems to have been Rick Bragg's forte that he could make feature stories sound like fiction, when it was just reworking of some unattributed stringer or freelancer.

Whatever it is, though, it's pretty annoying to have so much of the news devoted to a story that only concerns the blue state elites.