Charles Oliver - Econ/Media-Boy
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Charles C. Watson - Science/Tech-Boy
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Ron Campbell - sushi-bait.
Click here to email.

Even a blogger needs to eat. This blog is primarily Charles' hobby. But if he is intent on continuing to woo the Hooter's waitresses in Chatanooga he needs something that pays.... wings don't come free you know. Here's a link to his day job where he works the education beat and, assuming he can't annoy enough people that way, is sometimes allowed to write opinion pieces.

Need perspective? Watson offers readers all they could possibly eat. For a unique view on current events, namely how they look from orbit, here's Chuck's Real-Time(ish) Satellite Imagery of Areas of Interest. Whenever it strikes his fancy, and there's good telemetry, Chuck will process and post near real-time images of locations in the news. Eminently engrossing.

Wanna get into the head of a Japanese salaryman? Why, for Chis'sakes?! Well, assumin' you do, feel welcome to check out the on-line journal of Campbell's English class. Everyday, a group of disaffected salarymen are required to spill out their inner-most thoughts about life, the universe and everything in broken English. Amazingly prosaic.

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Usual Suspects:
Glenn Reynolds
Pejman Yousefzadeh
Jason Rylander
Virginia Postrel

Our Budding Blogroll:
[*] = updated in the last 24 hrs.

Bloggers We Try to at Least Load Everyday:
Mark Wickens
Bruce Rolston
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Kathy Shaidle
Jackson Murphy
Evan McElvary
Robin Brown
Lawrence Garvin
David Janes
Matthew Sheren
Andre and Elana
Happy Fun Pundit
David Artemiw
Joe Katzman

Other guys who may have heard of us:
Ken Layne
Matt Welch
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Dawson Jackson
Moira Breen
Dan Rector
Charles Johnson
Matthew Edgar
Balloon Juice
The Agitator
The Sabertooth Journal
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The Politburo
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Dr. Weevil
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The American Mind
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Shoutin' Across the Atlantic (or Across Asia):
Natalie Solent
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Andrew Sullivan
Ben Sheriff

Tim Blair
Silent Running

Live from Israel:
Tal G.

Poet Laureate:
Will Warren

News Sources:
Bourque Newswatch
Drudge Report
Canadian Press
Associated Press
United Press International
BBC News
The Daily Citizen

Shoutin' across the Pacific
Chiizu taberu koufuku shiteiru saru ga kangei-saremasen.
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

The Anna Kournikova of Chess?

That may be an insult to Alexandra Kosteniuk. She may not be quite as attractive as Anna. But she seems to be living up to her potential in her sport, unlike Ms. Kournikova.

posted by Charles at 11:21 PM


Poll? What Poll?

Okay, after CAIR took down its poll on Sharon, it left this message on its web site
CAIR is investigating several nefarious attempts by users trying to manipulate the votes. Thank you for your patience while we isolate and correct the problem. Please be advised that such systems that help in weighing public opinion should not be misused.

Well, Best of the Web bitched slapped them, pointing out that those "nefarious attempts" were simply many people voting in a way CAIR didn't like.

So guess what? Now, even that message is gone. Anyone visiting the site would have no way of knowing there ever was a poll. In fact, I couldn't find any hint that CAIR even conducts weekly polls. And all mentions of previous polls seemed to be gone as well.

posted by Charles at 3:11 PM


President Orwell?

It seems CAIR isn't the only place where incovenient facts get overlooked. The White House has been removing Bush's gaffes from official transcripts of his speeches and interviews.

BTW, thanks for the praise about my exploration of html. I've gotten some e-mail asking what the big deal was. These people thought that my new achievements are no big deal. But since all the writers were long-time friends, they should no just how computer illiterate I am. For me, it's a big step. After all, I'm the man who spent 10 minutes asking a tech support person about a "strap on" that I'd heard about before he realized I meant "plug in."

posted by Charles at 1:18 PM


Who's Da Man?

"Who's da bloggin' man who'll soon have his own .plan? ... ChuckO!"

Congrats on learning (or "l3arn N" as the more tech-stupid would say) and posting your first bit of HTML... You've just taken your first step into a much larger universe.

Over on Drudge's site as of 10 minutes ago he had two headlines in different columns; "Archard: Urich near death." and "Urich is dead." I propose that we try to preserve the dual quantum state of Bob and not allow the waveforms of probablity to coalesce by refusing to observe any further updates. Ahh, damn.. someone peeked.. I hope they can live with this on their conscience.

Over at Lileks' Bleat yesterday he had a "too close to home" story about a visit to the optometrist:
"The prescreening was interesting. You put your face up to a device that peers at your eyes, and then blows compressed air directly into your eyeball. You're not expecting it. They don't tell you it's coming. Were it not for the large machine between you and the technician you'd slap her out of instinct.

Or yelp like a frightened little girl while your Japanese masters snigger at your unsophistication and cowardice. Or maybe that's just me.

By the by, as my second grade reader used to say, I buggered the Foreign Service Exam last weekend. Mind you it was easy... The job knowledge questions which are suppossed to ensure an applicant has at least a college graduate-level understanding of world history, foreign policy, constitutional history, American government, etc. were almost an insult. "This man provoked controversy following the attempted assassination of Ronald Regan by declaring, due to Vice President Bush's absence from Washington, that he was "in charge here..."
Who is Alexander Haig, Alex?
Yes... Choose again.
"I'll take Painfully Obvious American Cultural History for $500.
"The answer is: "Tom Joad sat in the driver's seat, next to him sat Ma and next to her, Rose of Sharon. The truck crept along as the pavement shimmered in front of them.' This quote is from A) As I Lay Dying B) The Grapes of Wrath C)Ringworld D)Heather has two Mommies."

Where I screwed up was on the essay. I thought there was a seperate planning phase and then a writing phase... so I wasted 30 of my 50 minutes waiting to hear, "You can now begin writing." Doh! A trip to Sapporo to the American consulate... (Which by the way was in the middle of nowhere! Seriously It was out on the edge of the city tucked away on some small suburban street surrounded by single family homes... weird.) which cleaned out my resources and I've got bumpkus to show for it. It just makes me madder still because I should have blown that test out of the water.

I'll take it again but... damn!

posted by Ron at 11:24 AM


The Quran On Lying

"God guides not one who is a prodigal, a liar" (40:28). "God guides not him who is a liar, an ingrate" (39:3). "God's curse will rest on him if he is a liar" (24:7).

Apparently the folks at CAIR choose to overlook those verses.

When I got up this morning, their weekly poll had closed after one day. The vote was 94-6 against trying Ariel Sharon for war crimes. Less than an hour later, well, I'll let Instapundit explain:

Reader Rick Bradley reports that the folks at CAIR seem to have altered their online poll to produce the desired result, in a rather obvious and heavy-handed fashion -- a heavy majority now favors trying Ariel Sharon for war crimes, but around 10,000 votes have suddenly disappeared:

You should take a look at the Cair Poll again. It somehow went from "94-6 w/11,951 votes" to "7-93 w/ 2083 votes". Who needs "technical problems" when you've got good old fashioned bias?

So when these folks tell you that Islam is a peaceful religion remember their track record.

posted by Charles at 10:50 AM


Smart Me

BTW, I've figured out headlines and block quotes, too.

posted by Charles at 12:31 AM


The Rapture

I was rough on LewRockwell.Com yesterday. I often find things that are very good on that site. One of the best pieces it ever published was this July 2000 analysis by Gary North of American fundamentalists' support for Israel. It all has to do with their eschatology, and the belief by many Christians that they can indeed make it out of this world alive. North notes:

In order for most of today’s Christians to escape physical death, two-thirds of the Jews in Israel must perish, soon. This is the grim prophetic trade-off that fundamentalists rarely discuss publicly, but which is the central motivation in the movement’s support for Israel. It should be clear why they believe that Israel must be defended at all costs by the West. If Israel were militarily removed from history prior to the Rapture, then the strongest case for Christians’ imminent escape from death would have to be abandoned. This would mean the indefinite delay of the Rapture. The fundamentalist movement thrives on the doctrine of the imminent Rapture, not the indefinitely postponed Rapture.
Every time you hear the phrase, "Jesus is coming back soon," you should mentally add, "and two-thirds of the Jews of Israel will be dead in ‘soon plus 84 months.’" Fundamentalists really do believe that they probably will not die physically, but to secure this faith prophetically, they must defend the doctrine of an inevitable holocaust.

If you are up for a little theology, check it out.

posted by Charles at 12:23 AM

Monday, April 15, 2002
I scored 24 out of 30 on this Mensa test. That means I might qualify for Mensa. No thanks. I collect comic books. I read science fiction. I'm lousy at sports. I don't need to be any geekier.

posted by Charles at 11:26 PM

Thanks to Instapundit for alerting me to this poll on the CAIR web site. Should Ariel Sharon be tried as a war criminal? You decide.

posted by Charles at 11:23 PM

Hot damn. I figured out this linking crap. And I did it without any help from Ron, who is the tech-savvy part of this partnership. There's no stopping me now. Who says I'm not spending my time as a jobless person productively?

posted by Charles at 9:16 PM

I have to agree with Ramesh Ponnuru to a degree. Regardless of the Bush administration’s reasons for adopting the term, research cloning strikes me as a more accurate term, at this time, than therapeutic cloning. After all, the therapies that may come from such cloning lie in the future. At this point, scientists are doing research they hope will produce new cures and treatments for diseases.

But he goes too far when he says that therapeutic cloning and research cloning are the same. “The only differences are what comes afterward and the intention of the cloner,” That’s rather like saying that me leaving my house to go to church is the same as me leaving to go to the library. Both trips start out the same. The only difference is what comes after and what I intend to do.

posted by Charles at 8:58 PM

LewRockwell.Com has a series of articles today on “libertarian imperialists.” I guess it’s nice to see the site taking a break from advocating that the Shroud of Turin is legit, that evolution is a hoax, that the Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, that Jim Crow was good, that homeopathy works and works better than establishment medicine, that monarchy is the best form of government, and that brown-skinned peoples should be forcibly removed from the U.S. Whoops, it did have room to note that historians have found another blond-haired painting of Jesus.

Joseph Stromberg attacks the Cato Institute/Reason crowd. Funny, Cato seems to be pretty non-interventionist. I guess they get attacked because they, unlike Lew Rockwell, don’t think it would be a good idea if Washington, D.C., got nuked. Too moderate for Mr. Stromberg, I guess.

As for Reason, I guess they are targeted because Virginia Postrel was once the editor of that magazine. But neither the Reason Foundation nor Reason magazine really do much on military matters these days. Too bad, I thought the book “Defending a Free Society,” which Reason released in the 1980s, was one of the best defense-related tomes ever released by a libertarian think tank.

I tend to be non-interventionist in my thinking. I know from my days at Reason, when I opposed the Gulf War, that I’m more of a non-interventionist that Virginia. And I’m not completely convinced that anarchocapitalism won’t work.

But I just can’t buy the “bury our heads in the sand and everything will be okay” attitude of the Mises Institute, LewRockwell.Com, and Antiwar.Com crowd.

They see everything the U.S. government has done and will do as illegitimate. And they believe that all the world’s problems are caused by government, and most of those problems are caused by the U.S. government. That leads them into reflexively anti-American positions and alliances with fruitcakes and conspiracy theorists of all stripes.

These people drank all the Kool-Aid Murray Rothbard offered them. And now, they want the rest of the libertarian movement to drink it, too.

posted by Charles at 10:54 AM

Sunday, April 14, 2002
Well, I woke up this morning to find that Hugo Chavez has resumed power in Venezuela. I can’t say that I’m shocked. Chavez has clearly been aiming at making himself dictator since he first took office. There’s nothing standing in his way now that his opponents have shown themselves to be so impotent.

The rampant instability in Latin America has the potential to be as dangerous for the U.S. as the problems in the Middle East. In fact, it could be an even worse situation simply because these problems are so close geographically and can spread to the U.S. more easily.

But the administration doesn’t seem to be paying as much attention to Latin America as it is too the Middle East, and that’s a dangerous oversight. We don’t need to return to the days of gunboat diplomacy. I would agree with libertarian isolationists on that point.

But we need to be more engaged. We need to do all we can to encourage liberalization in that region. And to remind men like Chavez that the U.S. can be a dangerous enemy.

And the U.S. needs to reassess its own policies that have encouraged instability. For one thing, we could rethink the war on drugs. Narco-terrorism is a major problem in Colombia. And Chavez has been cozying up to those terrorist groups. Legalization would go a long way towards depriving those groups of their major source of funding.

The U.S. also needs to try to reform the IMF. IMF policies have failed to stabilize Latin America, or any other region. In fact, there’s a wealth of evidence, including the organization’s own studies, which shows that IMF activity tends to destabilize the developing world. Ending the IMF would be the right move, but that’s probably too much to shoot for. But we could insist on better policy demands from the IMF to the nations it lends money to.

Finally, President Bush could renounce his protectionist ways and take up Ronald Reagan’s call for a hemisphere-wide free trade zone. Trade would promote economic growth in Latin America, and that would help stabilize the region.

Beyond that, there’s not much else we can do. Latin America’s problems are largely of its own making. And it will be up to the leaders of those nations to solve them.

posted by Charles at 1:42 PM

Saturday, April 13, 2002
I've been back in Georgia less than two weeks, and already I've caught myself pronouncing the word where as whur.

posted by Charles at 10:03 PM

Well, I'm on line at home. No more library service. David Allan Coe wrote and recorded a song once called "If That Ain't Country." It went in part

There were thirteen kids and a bunch of dogs
A house full of chickens and a yard full of hogs
I spent the summertime cuttin' up logs for the winter
Tryin' like the devil to find the Lord
Workin' like a nigger for my room and board
Coal-burin' stove, no natural gas
If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass

I think we could update that now. When only one ISP has a dial-up number in your local calling area, that's country. And that ISP was the local phone company. Connection speeds are quite as bad as I feared, but it's still slow going. And I can't use the phone when I'm on line. Other than that, I should be okay.

posted by Charles at 1:54 PM

The nut doesn't fall far from the tree, it seems. Long-time Georgia state Rep. Billy McKinney stands by his daughter's claim that the Bush administration knew in advance about the Sept. 11 attacks and did nothing to stop them.

He told Channel 2 news last night: "I know what I know, and from reading newspaper articles and following this war, this is a Bush war."

Funny, I thought it was started by Muslim fundamentalists.

posted by Charles at 10:28 AM

Friday, April 12, 2002
Okay, I've got my computer, and it seems to be working fine. I'm still relying on the library for Internet access, and I will for maybe another week. I need to find the best way to access the Internet from rural Georgia. But at least I can start writing again.

posted by Charles at 11:17 AM

Tuesday, April 09, 2002
I see that Saddam Hussein is threatening the U.S. with an oil boycott. For some reason that reminds me of the scene in Blazing Saddles where the townspeople are preparing to shoot their new sheriff because he's a ni-. To divert the mob, hold them at bay and escape, Bart holds a gun to his own neck, shouting in a gruff voice :

Hold it. The next man makes a move, the nigger gets it...Drop it! For I swear, I'll blow this nigger's head all over this town.

When he successfully holds the lynch mob at bay and is allowed safe passage out of harm's way, he marvels at his accomplishment and congratulates himself for bluffing them: "Oh baby, you are so talented, and they are so dumb."

Let's hope the Bush administration is smarter than the citizens of Rock Ridge.

posted by Charles at 11:35 AM

Monday, April 08, 2002
I'm waiting for my new computer, and I'm using the library for Internet access. So that limits my time. My grand account of my trip will have to wait. But I'd like to briefly update my Chuck Finley rant. I've now found out that Tawny attacked him while he was driving. Not a lot he could do to defend himself in that position. Second, he didn't report the attack. A neighbor did.

I still think there's a double standard here.

But the real news is the footage of Tawny as she was released from jail. She looked awful, at least 15 years older than she really is (41 or so). Her face looked both hard and puffy. She certainly isnt the cutey from The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik Yak. Ugly and violent, hard to see what Finley saw in her.

posted by Charles at 1:44 PM

Sunday, April 07, 2002
'scuse me just a moment I wanna try sumptin'...


OK, that's it. Move along, folks... nothing to see here.

posted by Ron at 8:57 AM

Uh, hello? Sorry, is this the PBA meeting? The door was open and... Oh, PBA, Procrasting Bloggers Anonymous; just a group of people so dispirited that they can't even efficently waste their time doing something as time-wasting as blogging. You know how it is. Read a great piece over on NRO, get up, make a cup of coffee, think out loud a few points and extrapolations on what you just read while washing the coffee mug or taking a pee, imagine how you could synthesize your insight into a really neat, sagacious wit-filled post, get back on-line, cruise over to VodkaPundit and see that he's already summed up your point better than you ever could... and he did it four hours ago. Log off. Make more coffee. Try to find justice in this uncaring world.

I'm to stage three, Guilt. Got over the second stage, Denial, last week. "I'm not late posting! I'm just busy... and I'm thinking big thoughts... really big ones! That'll go up on the blog... real soon! Soon!" ha ha ha... Oh, but I've come to embrace the inner, lazy blogger. Maybe someday we'll learn to procastinate without guilt.

Still want to hear more stories about your travels. I've never driven through the Great Southwest; how was it? I have some Japan stories to share but that'll have to be... soon. Yea, real soon.

posted by Ron at 7:35 AM

Friday, April 05, 2002
Okay, I'm back in Georgia now. I have some thoughts inspired by my trip that I'll post when I have more time. But here's a quick observation. On the radio yesterday, every DJ I heard was making fun of Chuck Finley for getting assaulted by Tawny Kitaen and having her arrested. Jay Leno joined in last night.

Now, maybe you could argue that Finley should have simply left her and not made it a criminal justice matter. But no one was trying to argue that. Instead, they were mocking his manhood for getting "beaten up" by a woman. But we all know that if Finley had backhanded his wife in retaliation or done anything physical to defend himself, then he would be sharing a jail cell with Jim Brown. But because did what all the public service announcements say you should do and he went to the authorities, he's a wimp and a joke. Is there a double standard here?

posted by Charles at 12:05 PM

Friday, March 29, 2002
This will probably be my last post for at least a week. I'm heading from L.A. to Georgia this weekend. And I'm going to take a somewhat leisurely drive. I'm not in a big hurry, so I think I'll try to see a little of America, just like Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady. Or Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen. Except I'll be by myself.

Ron may try to pick up the slack while I'm gone. But he is suffering a problem with his phone line that NTT can't even diagnose, much less fix. So he's unable to access the Internet from home, or make or receive phone calls. So he may not be able to post either.

posted by Charles at 1:31 PM

Now Billy Wilder is gone. Two and a half entertainment legends passed in just two days.

posted by Charles at 1:29 PM

Thursday, March 28, 2002
The local news had a story on the slavery reparations lawsuits last night. For some reason they interviewed actor James Avery as part of the package. He's best known as Will Smith's uncle and guardian on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. But he has a ton of movie a TV credits. Avery said that there is still "white skin privilege" in America. Those with white skins have an advantage in life, he said. Maybe. But I'll trade my white skin for his residuals any day.

posted by Charles at 1:13 PM

Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Well, AT&T just disconnected my cable. The big move is just a few days away.

posted by Charles at 4:17 PM

Monday, March 25, 2002
One More Reason to Hate Soccer Moms (And Maybe Those Proctor & Gamble Rumors Are True)

There's a great article in the New York Times about country music's reaction to the success of the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Radio programmers have literally told the music companies that nothing has changed. They didn't play that album, and they aren't going to play real country music in the future. Here's why:

If there's one culprit in the current state of country music, it may be Crest Whitestrips. Yes, Crest Whitestrips, the new dental whitening system. Because when you point a finger at Crest Whitestrips, you're pointing at Procter & Gamble, the product's maker and one of the largest purchasers of radio advertising time. And the major advertisers are the people who really control what you hear on the radio, especially country radio.

"Contemporary country radio is targeting young adult females," said Paul Allen, the executive director of the Country Radio Broadcasters, a trade association. "Now, why would you want to target them? Because that's what advertisers want. The young female adult is oftentimes a mom. She influences 90 percent of all the buying decisions in the household; she's a generation X or Y consumer, and not brand loyal. That's a very influenceable and key demographic to go after."

Thus, because of Crest Whitestrips and the machine behind them, not just country radio has changed; country music has changed, too. More than any other genre, country is a fine-tuned jingle. Most songs are written by a cadre of writers - some geniuses, most hacks - many of whom excel at finding universal emotions and translating them into greeting-card poesy. When it comes time for most stars to record a new album, they go shopping with their managers and record-label executives for hits. Thus, such artists are better able to roll with changes in taste, style and national mood. Ten years ago, Travis Tritt's biggest hit was "Here's a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares)." More recently, his comeback hit was "It's a Great Day to Be Alive." Only those who don't listen to country radio still think the music is about beer and heartbreak. Today, the men are singing love songs and apologies to women while sassy women are
singing about dissing the men.

I couldn't have said it better myself. And by the way Screw KZLA!

posted by Charles at 1:50 PM

Cael Sanderson just became only the second wrestler in history to win four NCAA championships. Many news reports have also called him the first wrestler to go undefeated in college. I'm not sure that's correct. But he is the first wrester since at least the mid-1960s to go undefeated, winning 159 matches.

I really can't add anything more to this column about Sanderson from The Wrestling Observer.

posted by Charles at 1:41 PM

Things may or not be back to normal in the U.S. but they seem to be fine in Mexico. Down there, professional wrestler Danny Boy no longer wants to be called Boy. He's now Danny Anthrax. And, you guessed, it whenever the referees' back are turned, he pulls out a white powder and throws it in his opponent's eyes.

posted by Charles at 1:06 PM

Friday, March 22, 2002

I know your finances are tight right now. So here's page you might find useful. It's instructions for cleaning and cooking squirrel.

Actually, the page rightly recommends not eating city squirrel for health reasons. But on purely culinary grounds I can't recommend it either. Red, grey, whatever, squirrel isn't very good.

Remember The Beverly Hillbillies? I know it was a joke, but I was always upset that the Clampetts continued to eat squirrel and possum after they moved to California. The fact is that such foods are poverty foods, not Southern delicacies. (Incidentally, I've never met anyone who admits to eating possum.) Those who could afford to eat better types and cuts of meat would. In real life, the Clampetts likely would have done what Elvis did when he got rich: Fry up several pounds of bacon each morning and leave it laying around the house in bowls to snack on.

posted by Charles at 5:41 PM

Thursday, March 21, 2002
I picked up the latest issue of Soldier of Fortune today. It had a short but interesting article about what U.S. special forces have learned in Afghanistan and what they want for future missions. At the top of the list is better language training. Actually, that's something that they've wanted fora long time. Army Special forces soldiers are required to learn at least one language other than English. (I don't think SEALs have such a requirement.)

But in practice, most of them have only the most basic skills in their language. SF troops say it would e better to have four or five men on a team who are truly fluent in three or four languages, not an entire team that can just order a cup of coffee in one.

Next is better communications. Now, they have three or four radios per team. They'd like to have a personal communications device for each team member.

There are a few other things on the list, but I won't rewrite the piece. But what's interesting is how little money we are talking about here. While the Defense Department loves big flashy weapons systems, and Congress loves measure that can bring lots of jobs to many different congressional districts, sometimes it's the little things that can really make a difference.

posted by Charles at 2:55 PM

Wednesday, March 20, 2002
But can I fly?

According to this article,11381,665328,00.html

plastic surgeons will soon be able to attach wings and tails to us. I don't know why anyone would want to have this done. but I've never figured out why some strippers and porn stars pay thousands of dollars to have their breasts enlarged when that money would be better spent having their teeth capped.

posted by Charles at 6:04 PM

I’ve been meaning to write something about the new Star Trek series for some time. Now that everyone else has written about it, I guess I’ll take my shot.

There’s a term for any series that’s blasted by both The Nation and Libertarian Samizdata on ideological grounds: mainstream.

I’ve seen almost all of the episodes of Enterprise. It isn’t great, but it’s probably the best first season so far for a Trek spin off. TNN has been running Star Trek: the Next Generation and I’ve seen all of the first two seasons of that show. I had forgotten just how bad those early episodes were. Clipping my in-grown toenail is less painful that watching anything from the first season.

Happy Fun Pundit went off on the economics of the later series. In the original Star Trek, there was some sort of Federation money. In Mudd’s Women, Kirk offers to pay the miners for Dilithium crystals in credits, but they want the women. Who could blame them?

But by Next Generation -- and the movies -- as HFP notes, the crew goes around telling the more primitive people that they have outgrown money. Not cash, money. Now, you and I have talked about just how unworkable such a system would be. But in the end, it doesn’t matter. Remember that series of books “The (Blank) of Star Trek?” Each one took some aspect – physics, biology, computers – and examined it. Actually, each one explained how just about everything in the Trek universe violated the known laws of the real world.

I figure that any civilization that can perfect faster-than-light travel, transporters that can move people tens of thousands of miles while only occasionally splitting them into good and evil twins and holodecks so realistic that the fake guns can kill people and the fake Moriarty can take over the ship can find a way to make Marxism work.

The real issues are whether there is a coherent logic within the series and whether there is dramatic conflict.

So far, the new series gets passing grades on both those counts, but not much more. The real problem is that the episodes too often seem to follow the same story arc. Against the advice of T’Pol, Capt. Archer rushes heedlessly onto some strange new planet at gets himself, some of his crew or his ship into danger. Fortunately, by the final act he, or T’Pol figures out how to solve the mess he has gotten himself into.

In The Nation, Donna Minkowitz claims that T’Pol is both an angry castrating woman trying to keep the boys from having fun and a surrogate Jew trying to lord it over the good-looking, more virile goyim.

I see her (T'Pol, not Minkowitz) as the voice of reason. (Not bad casting for a Vulcan.) So far, Enterprise hasn’t quite gotten into the trap that Voyager did in its final three seasons. In that show, Capt. Janeway was always blundering and getting her ass saved by 7 of 9. But Janeway’s mistakes were always prompted by her squishy left-liberalism. She always trusted aliens. Fortunately, 7 of 9 didn’t. But the writers' sympathies were clearly with Janeway. The never seemed to realize they were writing her as an idiot.

So far, Archer has displayed little of that sort of squishiness. (Though there have been a couple of episodes where he channels Janeway.) Rather, he is simply too brash. But he does seem to be learning, from T’Pol.

Yet if the series is to progress, it needs to get away from the easy formula scripts that it has relied on so far.

posted by Charles at 4:02 PM

Tuesday, March 19, 2002
Charles, Thanks to the other bloggers I did see the photo and... boy... the Afghan years have not been kind. You can only imagine the hardships, stress and pain this woman has suffered. And every guy keeps the thought in his head, "a woman who looked like that at 13 or 14 would have been pampered in the Western world and her life would've been much better."

Maybe she wouldn't have become a model but she would have been showered with attention and her looks, if nothing else, would've opened so many opportunities for her, so many more than her life in Afghanistan offered.

The salad days of free content have come to an end. Drudge is linking to this story about the Financial Times cutting off the spigot. You can'take money giving away your content -- Weekly World News figured this out of few months ago and stopped offering free content for awhile. (*sigh* unable to find the Ed Anger notice.. ) But as more on-line content comes at a price I think blogs will take up the slack. Glenn, Matt, Damian and their lot will subscribe to an inordinate number of fee services and provide their digests for us plebs. They won't be able to quote at length for copyright reasons but they'll fill the same role as political and issue organizations' newsletters do now. In other words, I'll trust Den Beste to read the paper for me.

By the way... WHO bought the ad off the site? We should thank them by name, profusely. I know you didn't do it, you tightwad. :>

An UPDATE about the Krups Coffee Pot Ghost lady: she has her own site with MIDI music and WAV clips of her haunted pot (let the joke go...). You can find the java spirits here.

Gotta go back to work.

posted by Ron at 11:47 PM

Ron, thanks for the changes. If you can explain that linking stuff to a techno idiot, send me an e-mail with instructions. This is a little late for anyone else reading this, but since you are in Japan, you didn't get to see the National Geographic special about the search for the Afghan Girl. You know, the green-eyed girl who was on the magazine's cover in 1985.

The magazine managed to track her down. If you ever want proof that our secular Western society is superior to Muslim fundamentalism, take a look at this special. It isn't just that Afghan Girl aged so much in the intervening 16 years. (She's just 29 or 30, but she looks ancient.) What was more striking was her personality. In the photo of her as a girl, she has this fierce defiant look on her face. But the woman we met was unable to make eye contact with anyone, and despite her husband's permission to show her face, she kept pulling her veil across her nose and mouth. It was a very sad sight.

posted by Charles at 4:00 PM

Monday, March 18, 2002
Charles, Know you're busy but just a couple of housekeeping notes. First I've changed the posting sequence to "chronological within days" as oppossed to "reverse chronological order." That's always seemed more logical to me 'cause I tend to read from top to bottom... Glenn' site (along with 98.9% of the other blogs out there) drive me nuts when a post references an earlier post which I have to scroll down to read.... Huh?

Also, you'll notice some edits to your posts; namely, tasty linkage!

Time to dance!

posted by Ron at 10:51 PM

Glad to have you back on board, even though I know you are guilty, guilty, guilty. I don't have time to post anything lengthy. But I would like to bring this to you attention.

Basically, this story claims that Southernisms are going out of style. I'm really dubious of a purely anecdotal story like this, especially one that bases its claims solely on advertising. But based on my limited experience there does seem to be more than a grain of truth to this. I guess I'll find out more in a few weeks. Does this mean that the U.S. is becoming less diverse culturally as we all melt into one mass culture? I don't think so, but I'll have to wait to post about that when I have more time.

posted by Charles at 1:38 PM

Sunday, March 17, 2002
Just took the train into work so I could post this. Enjoy...

Taihen shitsurei shimashita!
OK, it goes without saying... this has become Charles' blog now... possession being nine-tenths of the law and all. Sure I still have the keys but I need to repaint the place (i.e. change the wording of the blurbs) to reflect the new owner's status. If'n it's OK I still would like to post now and then.

I've been AWOL ("gone Elvis" as the military used to say) for damn near three weeks. Why? I've been kicked in the teeth and had the smack laid upon me by my adopted home country. When you're desperately trying to avoid being jailed for a crime you didn't know you committed it takes the wind out of your blogging sails. Faced with the possibility of Takuya being your new cell bitch the urge to wax wittily about the latest Guardian offering doesn't hold the same promise it once did. So what happened and what is my current status vis a vis the Man? I can sum it up in two words "indentured servitude."

Long story short: Japan has a strange sense of Justice. You can kill a woman and her baby, rape her corpse, admit to the crime, have the prosecution ask for you to be hanged and still the Supreme Court will deem your crime worthy of only an indefinite prison sentence with the possibility of parole in seven years (See today's Mainichi Daily News for this story). But screw up on your taxes (or more specifically your 'social obligations') and you'll pay for it in spades.
Japan has socialized medicine. The value of it is grist for another series of posts (I tend to think it is why the country's health care has yet to surpass the level of service found in America in the 1950s). But there is no denying that the system exists and has a HUGE bureaucracy to support it. You are assessed a charge for that system separate from your state, city, income, car, property and national taxes.
When you receive payment notices for this service they are called "gikin" which my dictionary translates as "contribution." For four years I paid into the "hokenshou" because it was explained to me as being medical insurance. During year five of my stay someone decided to reassess my contribution levels into the system and determined I had not been paying enough. So they changed my monthly fee from $185 a month to damn near $320. (in US $)
I went to the office and through a translator tried to ask why the charge was so high and could we try to reduce it in some way. The older office manager pretty much was uninterested in my situation. A younger staffer, who was bilingual, told me the ministry paid him slave wages and he could understand my problem -- he also advised me, as one pauper to another, to just get on a plane and get the hell out of here. (Sorry now I didn't take his advice seriously.)
I don't make that much and between the cost of living, a weakening yen, credit card debt from my "high-flying" grad school days and a student loan to boot, I decided that I would just opt out of the system and not take advantage of the national insurance system. (I actually thought the system was semi-voluntary... there are after all medical insurance companies in Japan... I thought you had a choice between public and private coverage.) If I needed to go to the hospital I would pay out of pocket.

So I stopped making "contributions."

Didn't know that was illegal. Certainly didn't know the government deems it more serious than attempted murder or felonious assault.

Last month I got a notice that the government wanted about $4600 and if I couldn't produce it by Tuesday then all of my possessions and bank accounts would be seized. I have no possessions or bank accounts. I live paycheck-to-paycheck... all my extra cash (such as it is) goes to MasterCard every month.

No problem. If you have no assets we'll just put your ass in the pokey... for several years.

So here we are. Now over one-third of my gross income is going directly to the Japanese Health Care System. This is over and above the regular witholding and other tax charges I pay every month.

I am now a working slave for the government of Japan.

If I miss a payment I will go to jail.

I do not have the freedom to change jobs or look for new employment.

Slavery sucks.

posted by Ron at 2:24 AM

More about journalistic ethics be damned (and still experimenting with posting links!) please check out this non-apology apology from the San Fran Chronic via Matt Welch.

Hey, ma? Did it work?

posted by Ron at 12:55 AM

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